Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

It's Christmastime and we are about to move into a new year.  2011 has been quite a year for the Bolton family.  One that overwhelmed us with uncertainty and sadness but was overturned with hope, goodness and an expected end.   This is a year we will never forget.  Our lives were turned upside down, but each day we did our best to enjoy being right side up.  We have a renewed outlook on everything in life, a greater appreciation for each other, and an increased level of faith, because God has been so incredible in our lives.

We pray for the many families that have walked in these shoes and those just suiting up for the fight.  Our journey is not over, but the worse days are behind us.  Our children have shown admirable strength and resilience through it all.  Mireya is our (s)hero and our warrior.  Words cannot express how grateful we are for her life.  Give thanks, smile more, pray often, do your best to serve others and don't take your life or the life of those around you for granted.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year....2012 is going to be one of the BEST years of our lives!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mireya's Progress

Mireya has been doing fabulously.  Counts continue to improve and her overall health is increasing.  Post 100 days we have been able to eliminate wearing the mask unless in a very heavily populated space.  Reya  was so delighted by this.  She just giggled with excitement at the prospect that she could go outside and play without a mask on.  We were walking to the bus stop to pick up Jalen and she said 'Wow' I can 'feel' the air on my nose and mouth.  My heart wept in that moment.  The simple pleasures of life that we take for granted.  Reya's hair is growing back and it is beautiful.  We are in clinic every two weeks which is a blessing and she still receives her monthly treatment to help prevent pneumonia, which she has had about once each month, so I'm not sure how well that is working, but I'm happy we've been able to identify and treat each case of pneumonia without further issue or concern.

We still have the Hickman Catheter in for blood work and to administer one of her meds via the line.  It will be so awesome when we can get that out.  She'll be super excited to do two things she misses very much...take a bath and go swimming and best of all not have to deal with weekly dressing changes.  We still have several months of treatment to go through, but overall we are tracking beautifully.  Thank you for continuing to keep us in your thoughts, prayers and for checking on Mireya's progress.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Polar Express

Do your kids have a bucket list? I know a 'bucket' full of sand in the summer time is probably as much a thrill for your kids as mine.  Jalen and Mireya have both wanted to ride a train for quite some time.  Timing and life as we know it for the past year have sidelined attempts to plan something, but we had the awesome opportunity this weekend to ride the Polar Express.  

I held off telling the children about our plans until the day before which was Jalen's birthday.  Jalen was so excited and was also of the impression we planned this especially for his birthday.  It was sort of a trade off in his mind for the 'Swagger Party' he really wanted to have (that is entirely another blog post).  Mireya just giggled with excitement and Makinley heard train and knew it had to be something good.  Choo Choo!

We arrived at the Train Station and the kids were greeted by a cheery group of elves.  Each child received jingle bells and a conductor hat in preparation for their journey.  The level of excitement and anticipation increased as the children waited for the train to pull into the station. There were smiles from ear to ear as we boarded the train.  Just as quickly as we stepped on the train, we were off to our destination.  All the children's little faces were pressed against the window as the train raced down the track.  A car ride to Ashland would take about 30 minutes from the station, but we got there in a record twelve minutes.  If you took the kids to the bathroom, you missed it, fortunately I 'made' everyone go just before we left.

When we arrived we were greeted by more elves and Mr. and Mrs. Bear.  Jalen has always been a bit leery of large over-sized characters, however, Mireya and Makinley immediately ran to them for a hug.  As we walked across to the lovely Henry Clay Inn, Santa and Mrs. Claus awaited us.  The kids went wild, that is, except for Makinley who wanted no parts of Jolly St. Nick.  Inside there were crafts, games, food, and lots of fun.  Mrs. Claus read the children a story which the really enjoyed and by the end of our Polar Express experience Makinley and Santa got friendly.  Each child was presented a handmade Polar Express Christmas Ornament with their names inscribed.

We extended hugs and waved goodbye to everyone as we boarded a chartered bus to return to the train station. Thank you so much to our coordinator Kaila and the Leadership Team at James River High School for planning and hosting such a wonderful event.  It was truly a special time for us as a family.

Friday, December 9, 2011

First Step Preschool

The girls are super excited about attending the First Step Preschool Program.  We had the chance to go to the First Step Preschool party to see everyone and it was awesome.  When we arrived the girls did some fun crafts and 'hand'y artwork.  Mireya and Makinley loved shaking the bells and banging the sticks during circle song time....twas a lovely noise fest.

Lunch was served and games were played. Anytime you have a blindfolded kid that spins around several times, then tries to make his/her mark, expect laughter and there was plenty of that.  Pin the tail on Rudolph was definitely a crowd pleaser.  The children had so much fun and were full of surprise and expectation as the elves led each one to the 'present room' where they received a gift selected just for them.  Most of the boxes were as big as the children and they loved ripping into their packages to see what special gift Santa left for them this early.  There were smiles shining all across the room.

The best part for me was seeing the joy in their eyes.  This was an opportunity to be out, with other kids (outside of the clinic), having a good time.  A very special 'thank you' to the Middlesex FBLA and all the cheery volunteers that made this such a special occasion for every child there.  I loved reconnecting with several Moms I've not seen in a few months and also meeting some new ones.  We are all in this boat together and it is such a awesome blessing to be able to talk to and share with other Moms that can relate specifically to where you are.  I also learned that one of the families will be taking their 'Make A Wish' trip to Disney in a few weeks. We we're recently notified that Mireya's wish has been granted and signed off on by her medical team, so it will be great to hear all about their trip before we go. 

We are so thankful to ASK for the First Step program.  First STEP (Socialization Through Enriched Play) is offered through ASK to provide supportive services for young children whose preschool or kindergarten experience has been postponed or interrupted during medical treatment.  First STEP offers an individualized early childhood educational program for ASK Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic patients and families and is designed to meet the unique educational, social and emotional needs of young children with chronic illnesses as they go through the process of healing. The program consists of several kids currently in treatment and several in the maintenance phase of treatment.  The girls had an awesome first day and it is something we will all be looking forward to each week.