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Nov 30, 2009

Abby Lights the State Christmas Tree Tonight

From Michelle:

Sometimes it is so hard to write about what we are going through. It shouldn't be hard. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, did some fun Christmas crafts, and received many boxes of beautiful hand-me-down clothes from our sweet friends. We have a lot of sweet pictures to share. We have so much to be thankful for.

With Abby having headaches again, I find myself spending a lot of time praying, watching her and just holding my breath.

Thank you for praying for Abby's pseudotumo- induced-headaches (more here). Abby looks much better and is complaining about headaches less. Abby knows that if she complains, she gets to spend time at the doctor's office, and has to miss school. So I am still watching her very close. I really think she is doing better, but after our visit to the eye doctor on Wednesday, I am left with questions and concerns.

One big problem that intracranial hypertension can cause is vision loss. Until now Abby's vision has been perfect. Until now. This time they reported problems with her sight, that weren't there a few months back.

The plan is to do a spinal tap next week and check her pressures. If they return to normal, we will just keep watching her. If not, I want to take her to the best specialist I can find. Unfortunately they are in Ohio.

Today, Abby gets to meet the Oklahoma Governor and light the State Christmas tree at the Capitol. Out of the whole State, she and two other children were chosen to "flip the switch" on the tree.

Please pray that Abby would feel good and enjoy this special time. Please also pray that I would relax, so that I can help Abby have fun. Now that I have a game plan for the "what ifs", I am not worreied but I am sad Abby is going through yet another painful journey.

Thank you for praying for Abby, Avalon and Hannah Grace. Please also pray for a baby boy, Brock, who is battling leukemia and needs a miracle.

Nov 27, 2009

Black Friday Giveaways & Christmas

Today is Black Friday and Christmas is on the way. With money tight for everyone, what better gift price can there be besides FREE??!!

Every Friday, MckLinky does the "GiveAway Blog Hop" where dozens of bloggers hold contests, award prizes and do giveaways (and those who participate by hosting a giveaway get a lot of traffic and new visitors).

Just wanted to let you know about them in case you hadn't heard, or remind you if you haven't checked it out lately.

Go here: http://www.mcklinky.com/bloghopcentral.asp?id=giveaway


If you want to know how to do a giveaway on your blog as part of the MckLinky GiveAway Blog Hop, here's the scoop:
http://www.mcklinky.com/blog_hop_giveaways.asp

Nov 23, 2009

MckLinky Blog Hop - Saving money, reducing expenses.

The Blog Hop theme this week is "WAYS TO SAVE MONEY AND REDUCE EXPENSES".

The economy is down and inflation is around the corner. Saving money at home on food, living expenses and lifestyle is going to be a big concern. Blog about your favorite ways to save money.

If we get a lot of participation or future interest, I'll build a CONTENT CENTER at www.mcklinky.com much like I did for Recipes and Stuff.

Here's my list of TEN ways to save money and reduce expenses (a HUNDRED MORE available here):

Here's a PDF version if of my 105 Ways to Save Money and Reduce Expenses, and a way to send it to your friends: http://www.brentriggs.com/report_100_save.asp


MckLinky Blog Hop

Quick Update

From Michelle:

One of the biggest blessings in our lives are the wonderful people who are following Abby's journey. I received wonderful advice about how to help Abby with her monster headaches, and our weekend was filled with fun crafts that you have sent. Crafts are a favorite Riggs' family activity and help Abby develop skills that will help her in school. Thank you so much for blessing our family.

Thank you also for praying for us this weekend. I tried to make the girls weekend fun, and at times it truly was, but there were also moments when the best I could do was to hold and rock Abby while she cried. Abby is normally a joy to be with, but pain makes it hard for Abby to handle normal sibling interaction. Abby's big sister and brothers were very sweet with her, but it is hard on them to see Abby feeling poorly.

Besides the headaches, that are caused by chemo, Abby also caught a bug, that is making things even tougher for her. I learned this weekend that the decongestants I would normally give her, will make Abby's Intracranial pressure much worse (thanks Sam!). Hopefully we will be able to get to see Abby's doctor today. (update: They just called with a afternoon appointment. Yeah!) I will update and post weekend pictures when we get home.



Abby with one of her favorite volunteers at the clinic.
Marsha is a wonderful artist who helps kids create wonderful art projects.
Marsha recently went on a medical mission trip to Guatemala. She even
brought Abby a beautiful handmade Guatemalan hat. Thank
you Marsha for bringing joy to so many hurting children.

Nov 21, 2009

Your Questions, My Questions On Monday

From Brent...

I did not leave any clear instructions on how to leave a question, so I'm posting this for a little bit Monday morning too...

Questions For You

Down below you'll see and Open Season Friday (on Saturday) but first I have a couple of questions for YOU:

Have you seen all the cool new stuff on MckLinky? A bunch of new MckLinky list tools, the RECIPES feature, and the STUFF center... check them out, you'll love the great ways to make your blog interactive, and the cool and convenient content you can put on YOUR blog!

Questions: I'm thinking of creating either and "Arts and Crafts" or "How-To" center on MckLinky similar to the Recipes and Stuff. Which one would interest you, or both? Any other ideas for something I should create on MckLinky?

Open Season Friday on Saturday

"Open Season" where we take all your questions. Here are the blogs, and which types of answers will go on that blog:
  • Riggs Family Blog (www.riggsfamilyblog.com) - our family, personal stuff

  • Brent Riggs Blog (www.brentriggsblog.com) - professional topics (graphics, web development, writing), family, marriage, mentoring, ethics, teens, parenting, etc.

  • SeriousFaith.com (www.seriousfaith.com) - Christian and Bible related

  • MckLinky Blog (www.mcklinkyblog.com) - blogging, search engines, online business, blog improvement, blog graphic, blog photography, blog traffic, etc.

I'm using the same entry form and list on all the blogs, so it doesn't matter from which blog you enter the question. We try to answer as many as we can. If we didn't get to a previous question, feel free to post it up again.

I will spread out the answers on the appropriate blog throughout the week, so make sure you are subscribed to any blog you want to see answers from. Ask your question using the form below. Ask us anything you want. Here's some suggested topics:
  • the Bible, our family, our life, adoption, cancer, parenting, marriage, marriage, family
  • blogging, building traffic, growing your blog... anything about making your blog better
  • photography, technology, graphic design
  • writing, communication, brainstorming topics, how to improve your writing
  • marketing, personal finance, business, marketing, online business
  • ask for advice, counsel or wisdom for a personal or professional situation
  • WHATEVER.... hey, it's OPEN SEASON!!


Leave your question on this MckLinky List:

Nov 19, 2009

Pushing Cyanide

Abby with her "Bubba", Garrett

From Michelle:

Thank you for the encouraging emails and comments. It has been a rough week and you all helped immensely.

Yesterday, I took Abby to see her oncologist. Her ANC (the number that represents how her immune system is working) was 6000 when we came home from Disney. It's now 1800, well below normalbut still not still not as low as it needs to be to kill the cancer cells that are hiding in her bone marrow.

Abby's headaches are more frequent and her eyes are losing focus because of the pressure on her optic nerves. Abby's doctors are watching her closely and getting her in to see the needed specialists.

If we stop Abby's chemo now, the cancer will overtake her little body. So even though she has signs that the pressure in her skull is too high, I had to give her two different chemos tonight. One was the chemo that is causing her intracranial pressure to be too high, Methotrexate. The second chemo is a nice little after dinner mint derived from Cyanide.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with Abby's chemo. There is no doubt that she wouldn't be alive today without it. For that I am forever grateful but for the last year and a half, I have been handing my baby girl poison that is weakening her body and causing pain. Everyday I feed my precious daughter healthy fruits and veggies, lots of water... ... ... ... ... ... and rat poison.

This evening I held Abby while she cried., tears streaming down her face. Two hours later, I handed her the very chemo that was responsible for her tears.

Because her ANC is too high, her docs will be increasing the amount of chemo we are giving her next week. I understand why, but I am dreading it.

If anyone has experience with pseudotumor cerebri, also called Intracranial Hypertension, I would love to hear any suggestion you have. Abby has taken Diamox in the past. Diamox was a complete disaster. I would love to find another medication that might help. If you know of any websites, medications, doctors or studies about intracranial hypertension caused by chemo, please let me know.

Would you pray that:
  • Abby's cancer would be healed.
  • For wisdom, direction and healing, as we try to help Abby with these side effects.
  • That we would be able to make Thanksgiving and Christmas special for all of our children.

Nov 17, 2009

Worried Mommy

From Michelle:

Warning: this is an emotionally written post, that is filled with medical jargon. Please pray for clarity and wisdom for Brent, Abby's doctors and myself. Please pray also for healing for Abby, Avalon and Hannah Grace.

Abby is starting to have headaches again, more frequently and pretty intense. In the past, Abby's headaches were caused by either severe anemia or pseudotumor cerebri (increased pressure in her skull, that mimics a brain tumor). Pseudotumor cerebri left untreated can cause brain damage and blindness. Adults who have experienced it tell me that it is unbelievably painful.

Cancer moms know that patients who relapse can also complain of headaches, if the cancer cells multiply in the cerebral cortex. I "know" that in my head, but my heart can't even go there for an instant.

Normally surgeons embed a shunt that drains excess fluid off of your brain and into your abdomen. Abby's doctors will not do this surgery on Abby, because it would drain off the chemo that is necessary to destroy the cancer cells still in Abby's body. Things would have to be very bad before they will consider this surgery.

Abby's problem is most likely caused by the chemo, Methotrexate. Abby is only getting half the amount she needs to fight her cancer. Her doctors have been gradually increasing the dose, hoping to get it up to the recommended dose soon. Unfortunately, as the dose has increase, so have Abby's headaches. Abby's headaches are not as bad as they were in the past, but the intensity is climbing.

In the past, the medicine that is used to treat Pseudotumor cerebri caused Abby to throw-up approximately 30 times a day and have horrible diarrhea. This caused her to be so malnourished they placed a gastric tube, so she could be tube feed through the night. Then the gastric tube site became infected and nearly killed her. Her docs thought we would lose her but God had a different plan.

So that one little phrase, "Mommy, I have a bad headache", uttered from Abby's sweet little lips, opens the floodgates and the memories pour in.

I have debated for weeks about writing about this. It feels weird to write about Abby's headaches when a dear friend of mine has a daughter who is dealing with so much more. Avalon has been dealing with Pseudotumor cerebri for years, caused by the chemo used to fight her leukemia. Because of a doctor's horrible mistake (dropped the shunt during surgery and it sunk deep into her brain), she has needed 2 brain surgeries in the last couple of weeks. Now her doctors are debating about performing a surgery that done one way will leave her permanently mute and the other way will leave her paralyzed. Her mother is asking for your prayers.

I have been following another little girl's story, Hannah Grace. Hannah Grace was recently diagnosed with leukemia. She has had seizures, strokes in her brain stem and Pseudotumor cerebri (which was surgically corrected with a shunt). Hannah is currently in ICU, on a ventilator.

Would you please pray for Abby, Avalon and Hannah Grace?

I am not sure why I picked this picture tonight. It is of Abby, at four months old, taken on the first day I met her in Guatemala City. Sweet Abby trusted me from the moment she met me. I don't want to do anything to let her down.

Nov 16, 2009

Chwist Awose

From Brent

Chwist Awose! Or those familiar with the hymn, might know it as "CHRIST AROSE!"

Thought this might brighten your day. Even if you aren't a Christian or don't know this song, it's still the cutest thing to see little kids singing...

Nov 13, 2009

Wisdom

From Brent:

I just wrote a message about WISDOM... what it is, how to get it and how to know where it came from.

Wisdom helps us know God's will, make good decisions, advise others... if Solomon is any example, it is one of the most pleasing things we can desire.

If your life is a mess, I would say wisdom is a good place to start. If you have a family, I would say wisdom is an essential. If you are married, employed, have friends or are currently breathing, I would say wisdom is a good thing to have more of.

If you are interested, the message is here...

Nov 12, 2009

A Couple of Photos That I Hope Bring You Some Joy Today


I mean really... do you have to explain
the joy of life in a photo like this?



Holding Alyson Meeks just a few hours after her birth.
I'm a bonafide baby nut, and probably would love to have
babies in the house up until the time we both have to
have our diapers changed.

I love to see a life that has not been tainted by betrayal,
disappointment, hatred and lies. Looking into the face of a newborn
helps us to rediscover and refresh what God has in store for us:
a fresh start, a perfect untarnished joy and trust.

Lord, come quickly.

Nov 10, 2009

A Need for Kid's Clothing & Free Book

From Brent

Kids Clothing Needed - Adoption Savings

In our ongoing effort to live as frugally as possible and save up money for the new adoption, we find ourselves needing to purchase some hand-me-down clothing for the kids.

Many folks have asked how they can participate with the adoption effort in a non-monetary way (a fancy way of saying "donate cash"). Any way that we personally can save money becomes a donation to the adoption fund. We are learning new tricks every day about how to cut two of the biggest expenses: clothes and food.

We know that clothing is something America as a whole has an abundance of. Been to any garage sales lately? Clothing is usually the main ingredient. The girls (Sami and Abby) have just a couple of sets of winter clothes. Most of Landis's clothes from last winter still fit good enough.

For our family, we are more than willing to fore-go name brands* and the current fashions to save money in general, and more specifically to save money to adopt (*you can get just about ANY name brand at garage sales!). In case you're wondering, we haven't been able to go to garage sales locally for a few months because the swine flu and chicken pox have been on the rampage in our area. We couldn't risk taking Abby out or bringing it home to her.

If you have hand-me-downs or garage sales items that you want to donate or sell to us at garage sale prices, we are going to use those savings as a way to continue to save for the adoption.

Of course donations of clothes would help us save more money for the adoption, but we aren't freeloaders and don't expect folks to give away their stuff for free if they would be selling them instead. If you have clothing you want to "garage sale" instead of donate, let us know what you are asking for the items. My email is brent@brentriggs.com if you want to respond.

When we think about asking questions like this on our blog, we filter it through one criteria: WOULD WE WANT SOMEONE ELSE TO ASK US THE SAME THING? And if the answer is "yes", we figure that lots of like-minded people will be glad we asked.

Sizes (these or bigger):
Abby - size 4 - 5, shoe size is 12
Sami - kid's size 16, shoe size women's 9
Landis - size 3-4 T, shoe size 8 1/2


Personal Finance - Requests for Advice - FREE Book

A lot folks are asking about personal financial advice and my book "Life Without Debt".... how to buy it or would I talk about that subject more. Yes I will. I'll respond to whatever questions you have, but....

...you don't have to buy the book. You can download it for FREE here (as well as several of my other books, FREE). If you do want a paperback version, you can buy one, but I make the book available for FREE to anyone who wants it, as I do about 99% of my written material.

As a side note, talking about "personal financial advice", buying your clothes from garage sales, eBay or thrift stores is just smart. We have such an over-abundance of clothing in America, driven by lifestyle and fashion, that there is really no sense in going to stores and paying tens times more for new clothes.

While no one wants to look ridiculously "out of style", you can find pretty much anything at garage sales that will still keep you "in style" (unless you sit around and watch style shows and shopping channels on the one-eyed devil all day). Let me ask you a question that has haunted me for years:

Why do the people who make clothes, sell clothes, advertise clothes and design clothes get to be the very same people who announce perenially that perfectly good clothing is now "out of style" and you look like a loser-fool-unsuccessful buffoon if you are caught walking around in stuff that is "so last year"? Poor grammar, but you get the point. Don't you? Don't you?

Am I the only person that sees a self serving interest here that drives people to spend money replacing perfectly good and functional clothing just to keep up with an artificial status that someone else determines (and that just happens to keep them rich)?

Or am I just an old, out of touch fart who dresses "so yesterday"?

Yes, I can hear the masses calling out now... "YOU'RE JUST AN OLD FART!!!!"

Nov 9, 2009

Dad's Surgery, Abby & Blog Hop

From Michelle:

After a month of fighting with my computer, it finally won. I have been borrowing computers to check emails and friends blogs, but it has been very hard to keep up.

The computer I am using now runs great, but is missing all of my pictures. Brent worked hard to save them, and will be transferring them soon. Brent spent many, many hours trying to unravel my mess, and thankfully was able to save all of my pictures. I love you babe. (Awwww... shucks. I love you too honey. [I'm editing this post and putting in the blog hop, so I couldn't resist])

Abby had a good weekend, lots of energy to giggle, run and play. Unfortunately, she was at the clinic today getting IV chemo and an exam. I am glad someone looked at her, since she has a cough that sounds a little junky. The plan is to increase her chemo if her blood work looks good. Please pray that she will handle the chemo being increased and for healing. Abby is supposed to go to school and dance class today and is worried she will miss them.

We had a fun incident at the hospital today. We were on the 10th floor (pediatric cancer) and they decided to have a FIRE DRILL. So Abby and I got to walk down 10 stories of stairs in the middle of every contagious and sick person in the entire hospital. Not sure a fire drill is worth killing people. It's not like those same patients will probably be there anyway when the next fire occurs.

My father is having surgery today, to remove the cancerous tissue. I wish I could be with both my dad an Abby. Please pray for a successful surgery and healing.

Blog Hop

Tonight's Blog Hop is "ask your readers a question and let them leave comments with their answers".

Michelle's Question: what you would like to see us do on our family blog? More pics? More stories? More parenting answers? More ????? What would make our blog more fun and interesting?

Brent's Question: What book would you like me to publish next from the ones I'm working on... "Bible Answers - Volume One & Two" or "The Mind of Brent: Enter at Your Own Risk?"


MckLinky Blog Hop

Nov 2, 2009

Blog Hop - Favorite Photos

Here's a couple of our favorites from Abby's Make A Wish Trip. I also included the SHOUT dance video just for kicks even though it's not technically a "photo".


The kids LOVED the Florida beach.


She just STARED at them for about 30 seconds.
They had no clue what to do.


Abby was radiant the whole time.


Abby gets saved from the monster alligator.


Abby with her magic moment meeting Jasmine.


Landis meets his hero of heroes.


The kids loved all the characters.


Abby hugged them all.

MckLinky Blog Hop

About the Hate Forums & Nasty Comments... And Parenting Questions

From Brent:

A few of you have let us know about a couple of blogs and forums that are trashing us. All the usual name-calling and accusations about exploiting our children. I've addressed that topic over SeriousFaith.com. Read it here if interested...

Parenting Questions


Except for a couple of commenters who labeled me a "self important blathering know-it-all", I've received a lot of interest in parenting questions and topics. Many have emailed me and asked me if I have any parenting books in the works. Actually I've had on my "future books" list titles like: "Parenting Wars" a series covering phases or events in parenting like toddlerhood, dinner time, bed time, taking children out in public, the teen years, etc.

Since there was so much interest, I thought would put up a Question MckLinky and let readers submit questions or topics. If I get enough, I may write a book specifically about parenting, or I may include it in the "Mind of Brent" series.

Use the Question MckLinky below to submit your parenting questions. Or, list a topic, issue, event, or idea that you would like to see me write about related to parenting.

Nov 1, 2009

Update on Abby, Pics & Laugh Out Loud Dance Video

From Michelle

Abby begged to go to school Friday. Begged, unashamedly! Since we didn't make it home until 1:30 AM the night before. I wasn't sure if she would be up to going, but I was excited that she was so determined.

Abby was greeted at her classroom door with cheers from her friends and hugs from her teachers. Abby is still talking about her teachers and friends who missed her "SOOOOOO MUCH". The kids all dressed up for their Halloween party and their moms and teachers made the party a lot of fun.

Abby enjoyed being there but was very tired. More yawns than smiles but at least she was able to be with her friends. Abby is a wise little girl, who knows that sometimes just having the guts and determination to push forward is victory enough. I love that she is proud of herself for giving it her all.

Sunday morning Abby woke up with some major stomach issues. Pretty gross, so I will spare you the details. Needless to say, we quarantined ourselves (since Brent had the same thing this weekend) and spent the day at home, instead of reconnecting with friends at church.

Today (Monday) Abby has an appointment with her oncologist for chemo and IV antibiotics. If her labwork looks good, the plan is to more aggressively increase the doses of the chemo she receives at home now that she is back from her trip. I know that it is important for her to get every bit of the chemo she can tolerate, but bigger doses typically come with more side effects.

Would you pray that Abby's cancer would be destroyed, she would be protected from permanent side effects and secondary cancers that can result from the chemo she needs to fight her leukemia? Please also pray for protection for Abby and our family during this flu season.

From Brent


A couple of pics and a video but first this funny from SpideyLandis:

I walked into the bathroom to use it, and didn't immediately notice anyone in the bathtub until I hear "hey Dad! There's a nekkid kid in the water!"

(Note: this weekend I explained to Sami that "naked" means having no clothes on while "nekkid" meant no clothes and either having fun or doing something you shouldn't be doing!)

"Whatcha doin' boy?" I asked Landis.

"Taking a bath big Daddy-O" he informed me.

"Okay... well, Dad has to go to the potty, so I'm going to close the shower curtain okay..." I said.

"Okay" Landis replied then went back to playing with the bathtub toys.

I sat down (yes, sat down, does that give you any clues?), Landis in the bath tub behind the shower curtain and settled into the next page of whatever book I keep handy in my secondary office. After a couple of minutes later Landis asks "Dad, are you still in here?"

"Yes son, I'm still here" I answered.

"Are you waitin' for the poop to come out?" Landis inquired. He didn't get an answer. Only a big laugh and my quick exit to go tell Maria what I was thought was so hilarious.

Photos


Abby couldn't wait to see her classmates
and show them her Princess dress. It was the class
Halloween party, so she looked right at home!


Tired, but still wanted to be there with her class.


The whole class was glad to see Abby.


Video

The kids got PawPaw a birthday card that played "SHOUT" when you opened it (maybe one of the most toe-tappin' fun songs of all time). Mom and Dad came over Saturday and we celebrated PawPaw's birthday with this dance from Abby and Landis: