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Feb 28, 2010

Avatar

From Brent



A lot of folks have asked my opinion of the movie Avatar. It is a WONDROUS visual production with a concerning message.

Since my answer is primarily Christian commentary and not family stuff, I put it over on my blog. But... I thought some of you would be interested in reading it, so here's the link:

http://www.brentriggsblog.com/2010/02/avatar-a-titanic-deception/

Warning: my review is from a Christian Bible teacher viewpoint. If you do not care for Christian opinion on cultural topics then be forewarned. I'll not publish the "religious fanatic" and "intolerant" comments that usually follow.

Feb 25, 2010

Anticipating Red Carpet and Limos

Tomorrow (Friday) is Abby's big day. Hopefully we will be able to forget about all things medical and enjoy the moment.

Abby was invited to be a artist for the "Art with a Heart" art show. Abby, along with other cancer kids, donated their artwork to be auctioned off for a cancer charity. They will arrive at the Museum in a limo and walk down a red carpet. No parents by their side, just kids and volunteers. Abby can't wait! She has asked me when it was going to be time to go at least a hundred times today.

Please pray that Abby is healthy enough to attend this special event. A fever of 101 will derail our evening and we will have to spend it in the ER. Those of you who have been following Abby for a while have seen this happen many times in the last couple of years on important dates, including the art show last year. Abby has had low grade fever for the last few days. Hopefully it will stay low enough to keep us out of the hospital.

Thanks for praying for the wishes and dreams of a five year old girl.


Abby enjoying a toy from her penpal, Ms. Kathy.


Hannah is excited for Abby when she gets gifts.

Feb 23, 2010

Abby - One Year Ago

The last few days have been spent seeing specialists, who have in turned asked us to see different specialists in addition to the ones Abby is already seeing. None of the things we have learned are earth-shattering but the conversations are difficult to process since the decisions being made will have a profound effect on Abby's quality of life for the next year.

One huge blessing occurred today. Abby's white blood cell count is high enough to be out in public again. Abby has some big plans for this week so we are thrilled she is off "house arrest".

I have been down for the past few weeks but tonight God reminded me of where Abby was one year ago today. The pictures from this time last year remind me of how far God has already brought us and that He never left our side.

Thank you for continuing to pray for all of us all.





Feb 21, 2010

SpideyPreacher

From Brent

Landis saw a cross (necklace) Michelle was wearing and asked about it. She said “it’s a cross so people know I love Jesus”.

Mommie asked Landis “do you know who Jesus is?” Landis said yes and elaborated:

“Jesus came to earth and he went up the street to get some fish and brought it to my room. Then Jesus came to put the fish in my toy box and I asked him, ‘who are you?’ And Jesus said ‘I am God’. Then he gave me the fish and went to die on the cross for my sins.”

Gotta love four year olds. Preach it SpideyLandis….

Feb 19, 2010

Remarkable Mattie

Quick add on from Michelle:

Mattie's little sister is having heart surgery tomorrow. I know her family would appreciate your prayers. You can see her family and read about their trip here. Thanks for praying!

From Brent

Remarkable... that's the only way I know how to describe the beautiful young lady in the photo below. I'm going to be doing a feature story on her in an upcoming issue of SeriousLife Magazine, so I'll give you the short version here.

A few weeks ago, Amy Block told us about a young girl in Texas who had decided she was going to raise money for Abby's Wish. Normally you would expect someone Mattie's age to raise $50, or maybe a couple of hundred. And of course that would be a tremendous blessing and something to be proud of.

Mattie has raised $4000.00... that's thousand... dollars... unbelievable! This speaks so much about her heart, how she was raised, her wonderful parents and her Christian maturity.

Okay, I don't want to give away the whole story here. So let me tell you about the photo below. I was in Orlando this week on business. The first day I was there, I get on Mattie's family blog and see they are in Orlando at Give Kids the World, the same place that Abby's Make-A-Wish was and where Abby's Wish got started.

So I called Lorraine, Mattie's mom, told her I was in town and could I come over to surprise Mattie. Now undersstand... Mattie lives in Texas. We live in Oklahoma. We've been trying for weeks to find the right time to go down and meet the Pattersons but so far, no luck.

I asked Lorraine not to tell Mattie I was coming over, so I could "have some fun" with her. I went to GKTW, and knocked on the door of their villa. Mattie's older brother answered and I said in a very official sounding voice "is Mattie Patterson available?"

Mattie came to the door with a very puzzled look and I held out my iPhone with a picture of Abby on it. "Mattie, do you know who this little girl is?" It took her about 1/60th of a second to recognize her and then immediately recognize me from my photos on our blog.

The look on her face was PRICELESS. I'll never forget it. She was genuinely thrilled, surprised, shocked, happy and excited all at the same time. I stayed for about an hour getting to know the whole family - who are just are remarkable and cool as Mattie. The entire time, Mattie was in mild disbelief that I had just showed up out of the blue IN FLORIDA AT THEIR VILLA at Give Kids The World.

For whatever joy Mattie got from me showing up, I can assure you that I was ten times more thrilled and blessed to get to see her, and meet her family. No doubt it will remain a favorite memory of mine for the rest of my ever decreasing years.

I look forward to introducing you to Mattie and telling you all about her in an upcoming issue of SeriousLife Magazine.

Feb 18, 2010

Want to Play?

From Michelle:

Below is a longer explanation, for those who are interested AND pictures. For the rest of you, Abby's immune system is very low. To protect her, she has to stay home, to keep her from being exposed to germs her body is too weak to fight.

I am trying to do some fun, educational things while we are stuck here. Easier said than done. The walls are closing in on us and the kids miss our freedom. The safest fun thing we can do is go to friend's homes. If this lasts long we may invite ourselves over to your house. We are bored silly. Any healthy friends want to play???

The longer version: The results of Abby's blood work today were not what we hoped they would be. Abby is neutropenic (low white blood cells). Any infection is dangerous for Abby once again.

Unfortunately, a second test (IgG) showed another part of her immune system is working poorly too. Unlike white blood cells, IgG levels can be corrected with a transfusion. Great news IF the transfusion didn't cost $10-12,000 a month. It can be difficult to get insurance to pay (imagine that...). Our insurance has a life time maximum payout of one million dollars. Abby's cancer requires almost 3 years of chemotherapy and the damage from chemo can and has caused permanent damage which will require ongoing medical care. It is hard to know when to push for a test, medication or transfusion that could potentially make things better for Abby and when to conserve the resources we need later on in this battle.

What does this mean for Abby? It means we will have to stay at home in order to protect her from the illnesses that are so common in the winter. No church, school or movies for a while. Fresh fruits and veggies are a no-no because of the bacteria present on them. Abby is watching her siblings eat the blueberries she picked out after a painful test. It stinks but she is such a trooper.

When Abby's white blood cell count (ANC) is this low, any fever is an automatic hospital admission. We are praying we stay home while her bone marrow recovers.

For now, Abby will not be receiving any chemo. I hate this because it can allow her cancer to come back BUT the side effects Abby is experiencing are pretty nasty. Hopefully this break will give her a chance to heal a little.

These chemo pauses are bitter sweet. We want her to get every drop of chemo she needs to fight her cancer. But the chemo holiday will also let us see a little of the old Abby. The smiles, renewed energy and enthusiasm for life are a blessing to see while being a vivid reminder of how difficult it is for Abby to handle the poisons we keep asking her to swallow.

The chemo holds concern me but I think that the break may help Abby get some needed relief.

The MRI results were what we prayed for. No AVN (bone death)!!! It looks like Abby's leg pains are from nerve damage from one of her chemos. Of the two options, this is definitely the better one. Praise the Lord, my child has neuropathy! Now that is just crazy, huh?

Abby has a long awaited Neurology appointment on Friday. As always,we would love for you to pray for Abby and our family.

Abby and Hannah while we waited for the MRI to begin. Abby wanted everyone at the hospital to see her new Pooh pjs (thanks Olivia and Michelle).
Abby squealed when I agreed to let her wear them in public.

Pictures and Thank You

Normally I write my blog posts and emails after the kids go to sleep. I need to find a new time to write. Abby snores and has periods of apnea when she sleeps and it is making me nuttier than usual. I wish I could write while I am listening to her but so far I haven't been able to.

I want to say thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday. You made the day a lot of fun and it was a powerful reminder of how many people care about Abby. Last year Brent asked people to send me verses on 3 by 5 cards. They were a blessing then, when Abby was in the hospital, and now I have brought them out once again. It is embarrassing to admit but with things being stressful again, I have the I have the attention of a kid two days before summer break. The cards and comments are fun to read and remind me that we are not in this alone.

Thank you for continuing to pray for Abby and for reaching out to her. She has had so much fun listening to your comments and opening the cards you have sent her. Abby loves her pen pals.




Abby before the Valentines Day Dance. The smile says it all.
Brent made the girls feel special and loved.
Abby at the doctors office Tuesday. I love that she enjoys her time there.

I love Abby's sweet face. If I had known how low her white blood cells were
I would have had her wear a mask and wiped down the toy
before she played with it. I am glad I didn't know because Abby had a ball.

Feb 15, 2010

Brents Extra Special Valentines Day Blog Hop Post

From Brent:

My favorite Valentines Day memory is easy: my first Valentines Day with Maria ("Michelle" to everyone else) after we got married.

I remember very clearly thinking "wow that was a great Super Bowl last Sunday" "wow, this is what true love is all about". I remember realizing that for the first time in my life I was going to get lucky on Valentines Night I was spending Valentines Day with the same woman I would spend it with every year for the rest of my life. Something I had always dreamed of... someone to share life with.

This event is extra special for us because Maria's birthday is the day before Valentines. So I get to knock out two things at once. So I get to enjoy an especially wonderful opportunity of several days of celebrating with her.

My sincere pray is that next year Abby will be doing better, and things will be calmed down so I can actually get more than 3 hours of sleep a night take Maria away somewhere for a couple of days to hunt and fish of romance and adventure.

I love doing this strike out humor, Maria's going to thinks it's hilarious Maria will no doubt have a little talk with me later about it.

Note: you can still get in the Valentines Blog Hop. It's open until tomorrow evening. I'll choose a $100 WINNER from this list:

MckLinky Blog Hop

Maria's Birthday


Of course, it's as much about the kids as anything.
They love their mom.


Garrett is getting better. You can see the remnants of a scar on his cheek.


Yeah, we get CAKE!!!!


Perty-er than a fresh-washed hound dog...


The Father-Daughter Valentines Dance at School

The school hosts a fundraiser father-daughter dance. Very precious. All the little girls dressed in their finest and the Dad's were their "date". Watching the Dad's dance with their little ladies was very very touching.

The lighting was HORRIBLE and these are from a pocket camera... it pains me to put up pictures of such low quality but the subject matter and memories make them priceless.


All the little ladies dressed in their finest...


Abby actually wasn't feeling good but she did have
about a half hour stretch where it was fun for her.


Sami with one of her friends...


Dancing with Abby...

Feb 14, 2010

New Abby Pic & the $100 Prize

From Brent

A final reminder, I messed up the dates last week on the Blog Hop and the $100 prize. So I'm going to run the Valentines Day Blog Hop this week too, through Tuesday. I'll draw a $100 prize winner from the list of participants. Information here...

Abby Pic

Here's a photo I took of Abby this week. She was actually just playing dress up but the pink scarf was so pretty on her, it turned into a "real" portrait.

Feb 12, 2010

Blog Hop Blunder

From Brent

By now, everyone who wanted to participate in the $100 Prize Valentine's Blog Hop knows I blundered and put up the wrong date last week. So it's been sitting there doing nothing all week...

I just opened the list and you can add your links now. I guess it worked out since we are now at Valentines Weekend....

MckLinky Blog Hop

Feb 11, 2010

MRI and Breathing Update

From Michelle:

I posted a longer update below but I have a few things to add. Abby's breathing problems have returned. Last night after I hit publish, Abby went to sleep and started having trouble breathing again.I don't cry out of frustration often but last night tears flowed.

I just walked Abby back to the surgery suite, sat her on a gurney and watched the anesthesiologist place a mask over her mouths. Abby loved her doctor, the gas smelled like yummy strawberries and made her giggle. I love that I was with her until she went to sleep but it was hard listening to her snore and retract (sleep apnea) once the gas put her to sleep. At least a doctor saw it happen.

I would appreciate your prayers for Abby during her MRI. Thank you for continuing to pray!

Feb 10, 2010

ER, MRI and a Birthday Wish

I am sorry it has been so long since I have updated you. I wanted to post something fun, with lots of cute pictures. Unfortunately, it has been a rough week. Abby's head is hurting her again and she is having a lot of leg pain.

One side effect of chemo can be bone death. The chemo can cut off the blood supply to your bones and the area of bone basically dies (avascular necrosis). It is not good. Obviously. Because of Abby's pattern of leg pain, her doctors have ordered an MRI. So tomorrow Abby will be go under general anesthetic for an MRI.

The other possible cause of the leg pain is is nerve damage from the Vincristine. That is harder to diagnose but preferred to avascular necrosis........... I guess.

From Abby's point of view, hugs hurt again and "kids playing like kids" causes her a lot of pain. Because of her age, she doesn't understand that normal jostling that occurs when kids play doesn't hurt other kids, so she gets her feelings hurt when she thinks other kids are being mean to her.

Abby's doctor wants to try to get her off continuous morphine and only use it for breakthrough pain. It would be wonderful if we can do this but inconsistent use of narcotics maybe causing rebound headaches.

So is her intracranial pressure up??? I don't have a clue. I don't have a clue. Her headaches could be from her pressure going up again or rebound headaches from the narcotics or it could be a normal migraine. She has had a headache for 6 days straight. She is tired of hurting and I am tired of watching my baby hurt.

For now her doctors are asking us to give her her pain medicine as much as she needs it. Praise God!

A few nights ago Abby's doctor instructed us to go to ER. Between headaches and dehydration she needed to be seen by a physician. It took forever. We were there from 5 pm to 3 AM. They gave her a bag of IV fluids, which she needed but the rest was a complete waste of time. I have many friends who have lost their children. By remembering them I was able to "suck it up" and enjoy some one on one time with Abby. It is getting tougher to have a good attitude as we sit and wait and wait and wait. The sad truth of the matter is Abby handled the day much better than I did. Sad huh?

Two huge praises are that Abby is beginning to adjust to the medications for her pressure and her breathing is much better. Abby's energy level is beginning to improve. We have hope that she will learn to tolerate them much better. After 3 months of struggling, Abby's breathing is finally better. No snoring. No labored breathing.Now both of us are getting some much needed rest. Praise God.

So there are about a million things I could ask you to pray for but the main thing on my heart is a birthday party for Abby. Abby wants to have a birthday party with some of her friends. I would love to do that for her but I want her to be able to enjoy it. WIth Abby tired and hurting, it wouldn't be a bit of fun. I am praying for a window of pain free time, where we can do something special for her AND for a few flexible friends who could join us at a moments notice. Would you pray too?

We'll try to get some fun stuff and photos up in the coming days.

Feb 9, 2010

MckLinky - Win $100

From Brent

If you use MckLinky on your blog (we own it), answer a few survey questions for me and be put in a drawing for a hundred bucks.

Survey here: https://brentriggs.justsurvey.me/4d631b91636b

Feb 8, 2010

Valentines Memory Blog Hop & $100 Prize

From Brent

Abby had to go to the hospital tonight, so I'm not going to have to time to get my own Blog Hop entry ready.

Wanted to let you know that, and remind you that we're giving a $100 prize to a randomly picked participant. You still have plenty of time to participate.

It starts at 10pm tonight, and you can enter your link then. Here's more info: http://www.mcklinky.com/blog_hop_code_get.asp

MckLinky Blog Hop

Feb 7, 2010

$100 Prize in Tomorrow's Blog Hop

From Brent...

Just wanted to let you know that tomorrow's weekly Blog Hop on MckLinky will have a $100 prize for a randomly drawn winner. You have to participate to be in the drawing.

Here's the details: http://www.mcklinky.com/blog_hop_code_get.asp

Feb 6, 2010

Sometimes I Love My Wife

From Brent

I love my wife.

Sometimes I love her because it's a just a fact of my life. Something that is true by default.

Sometimes I love her because she does something sweet for me.

Sometimes I love her because she overlooks my stupidity or hypocrisy.

Sometimes I love her because I realize I never have to worry about her faithfulness and commitment to our marriage and family.

Sometimes I love her because I see how much she loves the kids.

Sometimes I love her because she gets this special look on her face that lets me know she is proud of who I am.

Sometimes I love her because I'm studying my Bible and come across verses that speak of a Christian man's privilege to love his Bride.

Sometimes I love her because she says something so funny that she makes herself cry which makes us laugh even harder which makes her cry harder which makes us laugh harder...

Sometimes I love her because I'm talking to another man about her and I realize what a wonderful wife I have described.

Sometimes I love her because she overlooks my too-frequent faults.

Sometimes I love her because she rarely goes more than a few minutes before making peace if thing are a little rough between us.

Sometimes I love my wife because I'm away from her for little while and it hits me how much I love her.

Sometimes I love my wife when I'm listening to heartbreaking stories from bad marriages and realize how blessed I am to have her.

Sometimes I love my wife because of her relentless care for our children.

Sometimes I love my wife because she "gets" me.

Sometimes I love my wife because she lets me win a domino game once in a while.

Sometimes I love my wife because she loves me first.

Sometimes I love my wife because I'm feeling all syrupy and emotional about her (like now).

I guess if you put all those "sometimes" together, it adds up to the fact that I love my wife every minute of every day... more and more every day.

Yep, that sounds about right.

Good morning sweetheart... I love you.

Feb 3, 2010

Get in the Next SeriousLife Magazine Issue

From Brent

I'm going to be publishing an issue of SeriousLife Magazine in the next few days.

If you want to have an article or blog post published, or photo(s) put in the gallery, you still have time to submit them:

http://www.seriouslifemagazine.com/submit_content_forms.asp

Feb 2, 2010

Garrett, Abby and a Baby Blanket

Many have asked about Garrett and said they are praying for him. Thank you. Garrett is doing great. Still in a body brace but has a wonderful attitude and has been a joy to have at home. Normally, like most seventeen year olds, he is in activities every almost every night of the week. I will really miss him once he is able to return to return to his normal routine. His doctors told him to expect to be in the brace for 8 weeks, with a slight chance he will be free of it at the 6 week mark. Thursday is his sixth week check up. I hope for his sake he is able to ditch the body brace but he will handle whatever the doctor decides without complaint.

Garrett stopped taking his pain medication on his own before the doctor suggested he stop. He has found some creative ways to be helpful around the house and has been wonderful with Abby, Landis and Hannah. Abby especially loves to camp out in Garrett's room. Garrett is Abby's hero and truth be told, she is his.

Abby is doing about the same. Her skin color looks awful (pale yellow). The Diamox seems to be hitting her pretty hard again. Diamox, the medication for her intercranial hypertension, can be tough on your liver and bone marrow. Hopefully her blood work will be in the safe range to continue with her current medication.

Abby is complaining about headaches again but they don't seem to be as bad as before. When she is VERY anemic, she gets headaches because there aren't enough red blood cells to carry the normal amounts of oxygen to her brain. This is easily fixed with a blood transfusion. As weird as it sounds, I hope that is causing her headaches.

She is still pretty tired but is gradually improving. She was able to go to school today. She wasn't her normal confident self but she was there and that is a start. Sometimes just showing up takes all the courage she can muster but she does it and is very proud of herself when she is through. Today she was more nervous about going to Pre-K than she is before spinal taps. It is a strange world our family has been thrust into.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) Abby has a oncology appointment, for IV chemo and blood work. Hopefully she will be done in time to go to school. Abby needs her world to settle down and for life to become routine again.

Pray requests for today:

- her energy would return
- protection from damaging side effects caused by the medication she needs
- the remaining cancer cells would be destroyed
- wisdom for us and the doctors as we make decisions about Garrett and Abby.
- Garrett's bones would heal and that he would get the Eagle Scout rank he has been working so hard for.

The pink blanket is from Olivia Mann; a very special gift. She had the blanket when she was a baby and gave it to Abby. Abby carries it around everywhere.

Feb 1, 2010

Happy Yellow Day... and the Blog Hop - 20 Years Ago

From Michelle:

First, I want to say thank you to everyone who helped with the Shirt for Shoes fundraiser. In total 782 shirts were purchased, that is 782 children who now own a pair of shoes and a new shirt. God is so good. Kari what God did through you is simply amazing. For more info click here.

Second of all, do you remember what today is? In honor of a brave little girl, Avalon, today is Yellow Day. Her family is collecting pictures of yellow clad people and any picture with Avalon's name on it. If you would like to on in the fun you can send you pictures here:
alicia at crazycancermom.com


Abby loved dressing up for her friend.

We searched high and low for things with the name "Avalon" on them.
Brent being Brent "discovered" something amazing...


One of the Space Shuttles has been renamed "The Avalon"!
Wow!!! Who woulda believed it???
Happy Yellow Day Avalon. We love you.

From Brent:

Today's MckLinky Blog Hop is a fun one (why don't you join us?): tell us about YOU twenty years ago...

20 years ago I was working on the Space Shuttle program, living in Florida, teaching Kenpo and getting ready to pull duty in Desert Storm. I was a Drill Sgt in the Army, although that's not what I did in Desert Storm. Young and dumb...


Getting my black belt...


Waiting outside the launch pad for a shuttle to go up...


Drill Sgt... with a couple of privates on graduation day.


Oh yeah, and doing Elvis impersonations
whenever I felt like looking really stupid.

Those were the old days...


MckLinky Blog Hop