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Thursday, March 26, 2015

This Mommy's Hairy Nightmare

This morning as I was helping Charlie with his school work, Addi and Myriam were working in the other room quietly. Too quietly...
"Addi, you like my hair?"

This is the moment where my hairstylist-mommy-intuitions made all my neck hairs stand on end and the water works to turn on before I even saw the horror waiting for me. I have only ever cut Myriam's hair once before cutting one and a half inches along with bang trims. People have always remarked about her thick, naturally wavy J-Lo hair. With two kids before who only had fuzz at age 3, having a child with gorgeous hair that adults dream about has been perfect for her hairstylist mommy.  
So, when I saw the nightmare under the table, you can only imagine my shock and horror as Myriam now had ten inches missing from one side of her head. 
I've been weepy anyway reading about Tim's trip which gave way to real tears this morning. I knew immediately that unless I allowed a sad, pathetic looking layered mullet on our three year old darling, the only other way to fix the current problem was to cut it off.  
Say it isn't so?
Thankfully, Mandi was able to get Myriam in after lunch to fix her lop sided issue. 
You may ask, "Well, why couldn't you cut her hair?"
First, I didn't want to be held responsible for having to cut her hair more. 
I just could muster the effort to do that!
Secondly, I fired Myriam as my client after the first real haircut I gave her. 
(Too many wiggles. Worst child client I've ever had in my chair before.)
And thirdly, Mandi gets Myriam so why not make this her problem so this mama could process the loss of locks?!!
Myriam fully understands what she did. She's quite matter-of-fact about it which bothers me as she no longer has much hair left to cut if she were to ever attempt this again. It will take myself awhile to adjust to this new look as it will many others too. Daddy was surprised, shocked and not very happy as he saw the new do over a FaceTime chat this afternoon. 
But, with what Tim is witnessing in the slums of Cambodia and the fact that no one was hurt during this tragic accident, we still have our health and no band-aids were needed. It is just hair and I know it will grow back...just not for awhile.
My wise, motherly friend tried to help me see this as a teachable moment for the girls. She said that beauty is not found in our hair and looks, but rather in our hearts. I completely agree with her. My problem was not that I don't see beauty past the hair, but that IT WAS A LOT OF HAIR! 

 { I cried. }

 If it has to come off then we might as well donate it! Myriam will be donating her three remaining braids to Locks Of Love and sending them off tomorrow...so shiny...

 { Myriam never sees a situation as too serious. }

Did I mention her hair is now too short for piggy's? Maybe I should debrief with someone better equipped for situations like this...I'm still adjusting! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Praying My Honey Over the Pacific

Please pray with us as Daddy and our friend, Brian Davidson, flew 
over the ocean blue to Phnom Penh yesterday morning. ( Currently still in the air! ) Pray for God's protective hand to be hovering over them keeping them strong and healthy
( Brian's three, adult girls are home with fevers currently ), ready to fight the devil's arrows as they seek God's guidance on this trip. Pray for the crazy motorcycles to stay upright as they travel to smaller villages and other LGN ( Life Giving Network ) churches. Pray for the gentlemen attending the business chats to gain wisdom for their companies so they can in return become better providers for their own families. 
It's supposed to be around 99 degrees and 82% humidity so prayers for the guys not to melt are welcomed as well! There are some sensitive places both men will be visiting
http://www.agapewebsite.org ), but also some fun as the kids picked out some small toys for Daddy to hand out to other boys and girls. 
The kids and I will hold the fort down with school routines, state testing, a few Mommy projects and remembering Uncle Larry this Friday as he suddenly passed away. As long as the coffee pot functions at a 3 cup-a-day routine and the kids keep the sibling barking to a minimum, then I "think" we'll be okay. 
Thank you for praying in advance for the Kingdom building efforts as we cover the guys in prayer! 

Friday, March 20, 2015

At the Bottom of a Mountain

Over the past month, I've managed to climb to some new heights in south Bellingham. Starting with the Fragrance Lake 10k then quickly followed by the backside trails in the same area. 
The last was on Stewart Mountain with soggy, wet, foggy views. 
I'm reminded of a song Selah sings that the kids love...

I've been climbing my whole life
And I am only at the bottom of the mountain
At the bottom of the mountain

Rising up from my feet in the daylight
Rising up into the clouds and out of my sight
Is the height of that mountain

Oh my hands cannot reach it
And my mind can't comprehend it
But my soul is gonna get there one day

Lord these shoes are gonna need some help
So make it to the top of the mountain
To the top of your mountain

Many feet have gone before us
With a habit of faith and courage
They'll meet us at the road's end

Well my hands cannot reach it
And my mind can't comprehend it
But my soul is gonna get there one day

Yes, yes, I think I will
Oh yes, I know we will
Yes, yes, I know we will
Oh yeah, I know we

All along this road
When it feels so far to the top
You say, "Just hold onto the mountain"

Though my hands cannot reach it
And my mind can't comprehend it
But my soul is gonna get there one day

 { Lost Lake's Angels }

 { Christie making sure we turned the "right" direction }

 { Bellingham Bay above Larabee State Park }

{ Breath-taking views from 3300 feet - Mt. Baker and Twin Sisters were stunning! }

{ Two hours of trail running and we still smile...twisted. }

{ Stewart Mountain 1/2...3 paid; 2 running rogue! }

 { Our views were no more than 25 yards in front of us...if that! }

Christie was on her own to run the Stewart Mountain Trail 1/2 and somehow, managed to persuade Melissa and myself into running rogue alongside her...all 5 miles up and 5 miles down with a warm up of 3 on flat trails. We were soaked before the start and by the top of the hill had frozen hands, wind-chapped lips and clothes weighing an extra 10 pounds from the rain/hail gracing us with it's sideways presence. 
John 15:13 comes to mind...
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
I lost Christie during the last mile as I was slipping and sliding through the mud and mini rivers from all the rain on the trails. Being I was running rogue, I took more caution around corners rather than face-planting for a free mud facial. Charlie horses and frozen, fat lips are what I get for my friendship dedication. Next time...wait...nope, someone else's turn!

{ Good times; and wet times! }

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hard Times Brings Bright Promises

Everyone has a hard day here or there. 
Today for me was not one of them, but for our Charlie it was a long day. First was a visit to the dentist where one cavity turned into three. Then the time came this evening for Sandy to move to a different home. Sandy (the resident bunny) has been with us for a few years and has now been relocated to a local farm with other furry friends. Addison shed no tears or second thoughts about this decision. Charlie...well...the first time we talked about it he cried. The second I stopped talking about it because he was so upset and yesterday, when I posted Sandy to craigslist, he sobbed huge crocodile tears onto his school work. Poor child struggled with this change, but he took it like a pro when the gentleman from church came to rescue our bunny. (Take good care of the bunny Doug & Shirley!) 
Change is hard. Sometimes unexpected and potentially could be messy. Charlie experienced a few challenges today and I'm proud of how he overcame the pain and the heartache as best he could for a little boy his age. Now to attempt a new one...eye drops. Here we go to the next hurdle. 

Often times, hard days are met with adult decisions, bigger pain and life changing twists. This afternoon I drove my Grandma home after she had a port surgically placed to decrease the pokes during the chemotherapy treatments. Grandma has done quite well with the curve ball she had thrown at her. Later in the afternoon, as I was praying over a woman on the phone, I begged God to extend a spirit of calm and peace as she faces terrifying moments.
From diagnoses to paper cuts...the hurdle is just taller for some.
But, what a relief we have in our salvation knowing that our Crown of Life will be waiting for us on the other side. We battle differently, we fight in opposite ways; our eternity and reward is the same.
Life is easier with Truth in my life!
I'm so thankful for James 1:12!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Week's Worth Of Fun...

A quick glance as we skipped school, enjoyed the warm California sun and surrounded ourselves with family. 

{ Thankfully the flight over went without fit or frail. All of Myriam's friends survived as Addison colored and entertained next to me while the boys watched a movie. }

 { After a classic breakfast at Busy Bee's Diner we walked down Ventura Pier and played a bit on the beach. Myriam had seen two gals swimming and immediately called out through the rail, "Mommy, look it's mermaids!!!" There was a fabulous play set on the beach where the kids played and wished Lynden could duplicate the scenery! }

 { After a stretch on the beach, we traveled through the twisty mountain roads to Taft, CA to visit Myriam's birth Great Grandma Betty and Great Aunt Jan. This was our second trip through the Grapevine to visit with them and a great visit it was. We drove through down pours, sunny skies, hail, snow capped hills and were witness to many vibrant rainbows...all in a drives worth of time! After Betty and Jan blessed the kids with sweet treats and gifts we went to get some pizza lunch. 
Always a pleasure visiting and cherishing Myriam's heritage. }

{ Finally, we arrived at the house where we unpacked for the week. The kids and Daddy were quick to get in the pool for a night-cap swim. They loved having the pool right out the door! Charlie improved on his swimming skills and Myriam overcame her fear of slides by finally going down the slide by the end of the week! }

{ Day 2 we went to The Aquarium of the Pacific where Charlie pet some sharks, we saw a saw head shark and walked through tunnel tanks of tropical fish. A fantastic aquarium! A short drive down the road to Long Beach and the kids let loose running through the waves and playing in the sand. Charlie had no problem with the cool water temps! }

 { Day 3 Tim and I split the party up as he and the older kids went to Universal Studios and I introduced Myriam to Disneyland. What a great day we had focusing on each kid and having the individual time. Charlie realized that movies really aren't real, Myriam was enamored with real, live princesses and Addison enjoyed seeing all the movie sets. Surprisingly, Myriam walked all but an hour the entire day as she didn't mind wearing her monkey harness as I thoroughly enjoyed watching other parents chase their kids throughout the park. I would say the Tiki Tiki Room, Pirates ride and anything spinning were her favorites. }

 { They do love each other! }

{ Day 4 we stuffed ourselves full at the over-priced Goofy's Kitchen where multiple characters graced our table, danced through the kitchen and gave many photo opportunities for the kids. 

{ Tim took the older kids on the bigger, more exciting rides while Myriam and I continued to meet more princesses and play on the younger aged rides. We met up to ride the Pirates which seemed to be a favorite for us all.  }

{ End of the bus on the Screaming' ride! Charlie LOVED the thrill! }

{ This enormous turkey leg fed our family of five for an afternoon snack. }

( Day 5 legs were a little more tired than before, but Myriam managed to tackle her first car ride and the girls saw a few more pretty ladies. We attempted a family picture as we were leaving but as you can see, not all things are as easy as they seem! A forced smile as the little one yanked my earring out and a quick exit back to the house to tuck our tired kids in bed. A great few days with Mickey and Minnie! }

{ Day 6 was a day to rest and relax as the temperature was in the high eighties and the pool just too inviting. Later after the rest of the family headed home, Tim and I took the kids back to Downtown Disney where we did a little shopping and celebrated Charlie's birthday once more at the Rainforest Cafe. }

{ Day 7 and it's time to go home. Tim dropped me off to run a quick 5k race as they cleaned the rental car and gassed up for our drive to the airport. Unfortunately, Myriam did not do as well flying home. The girl couldn't sit still and we all were tired from the time change and being up early for a 7am start time. We managed after a stop at Starbucks before heading home where all three kids zonked for the two peaceful hours to my mom's where she had a homemade dinner waiting for us.  The laundry started after suitcases were unpacked and showers were a must for us all. Addison said the next morning, "It was SOOOO good to sleep in my own bed!" }

Thank you to Grandpa John and Grandma Judy for blessing us with a few days away at the happiest place on earth! 
Our little family made many memories and are grateful for the gift. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Cancer's Journey to Defeat

When faced with hard transitions and physical mountains to climb, 
sometimes it's easier to enjoy a little humor on the incline. 
Grandma Van Dyken did just that when she unexpectedly started to loose her hair due to the intense chemotherapy treatments she is under going every Friday afternoon. It came as a complete shock to us when she was diagnosed with cancer in her liver, both lungs and the lymph nodes. 
Gigi is 87 years old, stubborn as dutch can be, independent and self sufficient on her own, but also human battling her emotions. Nothing breaks me more then to see my Grandma tear up as I shaved her fine hair into clumps on the floor. She was given two free wigs from the Cancer Center, but with her hair being so thin the wig in place looked foreign, abnormal and uncomfortable. Wearing a scarf looks natural for Grandma and allows her to have more options in matching her outfit for the day. Currently, Gigi is getting a shot every Monday and Wednesday to boost her immune system in order to get her chemotherapy treatment on Fridays. She will get a port 
surgically put in place so she doesn't have to get poked every other day! Huge relief!
I believe the biggest struggle of all with Grandma is to get her to not do everything on her own. Forcing her to let others drive her to the doctors, mow her lawn or accept a gift towards gas is challenging for her to accept. 
I would do it all in a heartbeat just to spend more time with Gigi and 
cherish the moments left on this earth. 
Please pray for Gigi to find energy, strength and purpose as she faces harsh treatments. Pray that her worries of finances will be dismissed with peace and trust that God will provide in all ways.

{ Granddaughters and Gigi }

Grandma Haak continues to get her chemotherapy treatments on Friday as well. A normal tumor marker range is anywhere from 0-35. Grandma Haak's tumor markers began in the 1000 range and now is 37 after her debulking surgery and a couple rounds of treatments! Praise God! 
It is a blessing for Grandma to not experience very many side affects too. One lost lunch is nothing compared to the laundry list of other symptoms caused by chemotherapy. She is currently half way through her treatments and is feeling relatively good. Recently, we celebrated Grandma's 80th birthday with cake and family which is always a blessing to see all their faces in one small room. 
We know Grandma Haak is doing well when her and Great Aunt Fanny can do their weekly shopping to Bellingham! Got to get the best deals on jam and chips...
Please pray that Grandma Haak remains upbeat during the final treatments and her tumor markers continue to fall into the normal range. 

{ Addison helping pass the time during Grandma Haak's treatments. }

Dad is doing great as well! His melanoma was given a stage 0 making it a non-treatment cancer with follow-ups throughout the year. Trust me when I tell you I'll be looking at Dad's head every haircut from now on! His biggest challenge is old age, the stubborn trait passed down from Gigi and the arthritis pain in his ankles. 
When Dad was down at the UW for surgery 8 years ago, the doctors came across a blood platelet disorder which he now watches with lab work regularly making sure his platelet counts are in a normal range. The kids keep my Dad going as they have learned his soft spots for spoiling his grandchildren. Game over Dad! I can't remember very many times when Dad said no because he's just that...A big ol' soft teddy bear! 
Dad and Mom have a tropical trip planned soon which will be a nice break to the run-around of treatment schedules and work for everyone else. When you are always giving to others, you need a break to refill, do nothing and relax in the warm beauty of creation. 
Please pray for both Mom and Dad as they support their mother's and daughter through treatments. Pray that they will find rest when needed and joy in the busy schedules. 

My Hero (my sister Traci) is now a few weeks into the new clinical trail she was approved for with her doctor in Portland. It's an extensive three chemotherapy pills a day pill regimen and weekly lab draws as well as scans periodically too. So far, the biggest compliant is fatigue, but after 8 years of being on some form of chemotherapy I would imagine you'll always feel tired! Traci has a gift of not letting that keep her down for too long. Thankfully, she got the local lab office to coordinate with the Portland offices so she can still come home for a weeks time. Her last tumor marker results showed that they had come down by 8 points which gave reason to celebrate! The new treatment plan is working! Traci's biggest hurdle is her heart which is showing signs of extreme strain. Please pray that God would touch her heart and sustain it through the remainder of the trail, her fatigue would not consume her and her faith would continue to be the true hero in her journey. 

{ Oldie from Seaside..but a favorite for sure. }

So, there you have it. 
The journey for all our family members is very different and yet similar. 
We know that God promises us defeat over our physical battles as it 
states in Revelation 21:4, 
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
We will never have the answers to why one family battles so much cancer, why good things happen to good people or why some suffer more death than others. Loss is a part of life. It's how we deal with these challenges and obstacles that speaks of our faith and the foundation we have in Christ. The only thing that makes it easier is knowing that my family will be standing whole in Heaven because of their hope in 
eternity and acceptance of salvation. 
Thank you for your support and prayers for ALL of our family!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"It's My Brains Fault!"

Monday afternoon as I was driving Addi and Charlie to their campus classes, I asked a simple question every mother asks at least twice a day:
"Charlie, did you brush your teeth this morning?"
His witty, seven year old response, 
"No, I forgot. It's my brains fault!"
We all immediately erupted into laughter from the quick passing of blame on a simple task and chore. I will be blue in the face reminding this boy child 
to brush his teeth everyday. 
Somethings, such as LEGOS and playing, are more 
important then cleaning those pearly whites.  
After my dentist appointment today, Charlie informed me that every kid at Kid's Place (our Sunday school program for kids) has a cavity...ummm...
Well, son...just those that forget to brush their teeth have cavities!
Here's to our multi-cavity mouthed son! Hope his brain works tomorrow morning...

{ Enjoying a birthday cupcake at the Rain Forest Cafe. }