Monday, August 22, 2011


I will never get tired of this....never

A day of realism. Cancer is real. Its effects on its victims is real. The effects it has on families is real. And for too many of us, the outcome is real. Jack Layton passed away today. A victim of cancer. A victim of cancer but not a victim to death. Death is not the end but the beginning of a life that none of us can imagine or dream of. I am so thankful Mr. Layton had the incite to leave a message of hope to Canadians – a message to ‘cancer fighters’ to keep hoping, praying and fighting.

The days go on and on in our brittle lives and the end result is not something discussed or contemplated. But today when we watch a strong man succumb to his disease I have no choice to admit that for some people, for some children –this is the tragic ending to the story. Tragic only in the earthly sense of loss of life, loss to his family and friends, loss to the cancer community. A gain in the holy sense… a spiritual battle already won by our savior Jesus Christ. A battle He has already fought, died and won for us so that these horrible circumstances have hope. We will all one day see how great our God is, one day it will all be clear to us His plan, His purpose. We will see how we have affected the lives of others both positively and negatively.

Without the addition of cancer, most family’s lives are already tumultuous and full of discord. Tonight on our drive home from Antigonish we found ourselves parked on the side of road in the middle of nowhere beside a train track in the rain trying to argue with a three year old who didn’t want to put his pull up on.  In desperate need of a bathroom break where no facilities exists – this was the war we waged this evening. It didn’t have anything to do with cancer (except maybe the sudden and desperate urge to go poo!) but it had to do with life with small children. Lots of them. After a serious scream out that did not end well we were all left deflated and feeling sad that this was how a fantastic day of swimming, Washers, and family time had to end.  I listen to Chris quietly sob in the back seat while I contemplate the mistakes we are making. When do we need to be stern? When do we allow certain behaviors to go on? What is this cancer doing to his little emotions? Are his skinny little bones and weak, tired body symbolic of his emotional battle? I don’t know the answer to these questions. As parents we will never know that answers to these questions. But the true point is to realize that I do not now, and will never, have the answers. But I do know that God has a plan for us and He wants us to give over our worries, our concerns, our failures, our despair and reach out to him and believe, “I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength”. But I have to ask for it. This doesn’t just apply to Christian, cancer, sickness. It applies to my marriage, to my daily runs, to my parenting. Give it over to God and let him take charge. Be still.  Listen

Christian is going to finish this fight. And everyday he inspires me to better. He inspires me to live my life to the umpteenth degree. To not have any regrets about things I could have done. I will make many mistakes in my life. But I don’t want one of those mistakes to be regret. I have a whole bucket list of things I want to do – most of them are frivolous   - but some of them require stepping out on a ledge and saying I will take the risk. I will take the risk of looking life a fool or having to say I’m sorry or not being able to complete the task (completing an Ironman is on the list!) The point being is we need to LOVE HARD, SPEAK SOFT, GO AFTER IT, SAY YOUR SORRY, GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE. God doesn’t want us to be spectators but leaders in our lives and in our children’s lives. He wants us to be leaders in our communities and affect change for those who can’t affect change for themselves. What will you do today? Today all I can muster is a 4k run and to love my children with all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my being. But this is a good start.

Thanks for reading

Today I am thankful for:
1.     Aunty Sarah
2.     Evelyn spontaneously bursting into song on a difficult drive home
3.     Christian grabbing my hand and asking me to stay so he can touch me

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Maritime Memories

Does it get any better than this?
Nanny "Lou who who" and Christian sharing some love

Soft skin, beautiful weather, running in Victoria park, picnics by the brook, great food, golf and of course fantastic family. These are the things we love about Truro.  It has been such a wonderful time here so far in Nova Scotia (save me locking the kids in the car at Wallmart this morning – oops!)  Christian is a little star and is enjoying his time with all of his aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. I have only been in Truro for a few days but have managed to plug a visit to Victoria Park into everyday. 
Dancing in the park

Times wtih nanny
The park is so peaceful and bigger than everything else going on in our lives. An easy place to strap on the shoes and break away for a few minutes. So mostly pictures today – few words. As I am trying to escape our reality – even if only for a few days – so enjoy the photos and know that we are creating amazing family memories with every day we spend here; experiencing the peace and tranquility that the Maritimes brings to our family. Thanks for reading
Aunty Sarah and Evelyn enjoying Victoria park pool

Today I am thankful for:
1.     Running in Victoria park
2.     The smell of the outdoors
3.     Watching Christian throw a frisbee

Monday, August 15, 2011

Grassi Lakes - Losing Locks

Never met a park he didn't like!

What a fantastic summer we have been having. Despite weekly trips to the hospital for chemo and checkups (and one extended stay for fever and neutropeonia) we have made the best of this wonderful Calgary weather! Most recently Christian’s cousins from Ontario have come to visit so we have had some extra special outings. Firstly Christian went to his first big movie – Cars 2! I think that Chris and I enjoyed the movie more than he did! Evelyn thought it was great and danced around most of the time.
Making pancakes with cousin Shannon

So diligent!
Picnic in the mountains - never get tired of these!
We also have indulged in MANY day trips to the mountains for our weekly fix of mountain air. The standard picnic in the park, throw rocks off the boat launch and hike to the rock climb has become our family favorite. Today Christian and I hiked down to the Grassi lakes climb (pictures to follow at a later date!) and he did amazing. I was so impressed that he hiked down such a step slope with uneven terrain. I could tell he was nervous but felt very proud of himself. He asked me if I thought uncle Dalton would be proud he had climbed down so far! What a cutie! At one point he said to me, “I think I would rather be golfing!” Poor kid – mom drags him out to the mountains when daddy isn’t around to go golfing! It was a fantastic day and he enjoying exploring the caves with the girls. As we climbed back out of Grassi lakes he rode in the backpack and encouraged me the whole way, “come on mommy – I know you can do it!” It was great.
 Earlier in the week we had a great trip to Callaway park. Christian went on some rides that I had no idea he could go on - he is braver than I - and enjoyed hanging out with cousin Isabelle and Sophia. And to cap off Shannon's trip out west we finished off the week with a bonfire at our new house. Thanks for the great times Shannon and Luke! 

On a bit of a sadder note Christian started losing his hair again last night. I don’t think he has noticed but it makes me sad and I know how much he enjoyed having hair again. His morning ritual of putting gel in his hair with Grammy will have to wait for another five months or so until it grows back when his treatment are completed in December. I think he is doing so amazing when it comes to dealing with his chemotherapy. It becomes more apparent everyday how difficult these next few months will be for him as his body is smashed down by the chemo treatments. However his constant pursuit of play and happiness is was makes this process easier to bear and the end of this nightmare is tangible.

Today I dared to think of a time when he won't be constantly tired, whinny, skinny, sick to him stomach, arms covered in band aids and dreading his nightly pokes and medications. I dared to think of a day when our family is free from this cancer demon and we can pursue life to our fullest. The other day as I was trying to orchestrate his ‘pokes’ he was being exceptionally apprehensive about his nightly ritual. I gave him some time and said I would be back shortly so we could finish our ‘chores’. When I returned upstairs he said to me, “Ok here is the deal: you do my pokes, its going to hurt so I am going to cry a little and then we will watch the movie - ok?”. My heart dropped to my feet and I wished I could take every needle from here to the moon so he would not have to do this anymore.
Luke, Chrisitan and I kicking the ball in Canmore
I pray for emotional strength to stay positive and be a good parent for Christian and the rest of our crew. I pray that I can be supportive wife for Chris as he heads back to work in a few weeks. I pray that we will continue to find the good in the circumstances we are experiencing. And mostly I pray that God continues to soften my heart so that I can truly see and hear his words.
Thanks for reading

Today I am thankful for:
1.     Christian giving me a high five at the end of our climb and saying, “I knew you could do it!”
2.     Costco
3.     The anticipation of a much needed vacation!
First row litle guy on the end - Thanks aunty Dianne!

Two peas in a pod!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Birthday Boy!
What a great birthday celebration! It is the day of mass birthdays in our family: my mother, my son (Ryan) and my nephew, Everett. What are the chances? Well pretty good I guess. Christian got released from the hospital early (early parole for good behavior – Chris bought pizza for the nurses on the unit!)
We had a lovely party with many of our close friends. It is such a joy for Chris and I to watch the all of the kids playing in our new space and enjoying each other’s company. It always seems like mayhem with everybody around but to be honest I don’t think I would want it any other way. It feels good to fill the spaces in the house and spend a day enjoying the company of our new friends. Thank you to our friends from Olds who drove up, the Jaffray’s, Steph and greg, to the Carters who are always good for a laugh and positive outlook on life and to the Phaneuf family whom have become our ACH oncology family – this process would be so much more difficult without you.  And thank you also to the Klein’s whom are such loyal and gentle friends.

Memorable thoughts for the day: Kennedy and Christian single handedly polishing off 8 cupcakes. Nicky and Ryan chasing each other around the toy room. Sophie and Evelyn battling for doll supremacy. Good food, great company, amazing day.  Thanks for reading.
Jason was the 'hit' of the party!
Today I am thankful for:
1.     Sitting around the living room visiting with friends
2.     Ryan’s soft skin
3.     Evelyn’s giggles when you tickle her 

What a good looking crew!

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Who's cool? 
Super powers he has but Mr. Incredible? I am not sure! We have watched the movie, “The Incredibles” everyday, and sometimes multiple times in one day, for the past six months. It is our go to movie at bedtime. I find it curious that Christian becomes so interested in superhero’s at a time in his life when he needs one the most. Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Mr. Incredible have nothing on my boy. The feats he accomplishes each week and the battles he wins each day are more super than these fictitious characters. What Christian does is real and the battle he is trying to win is real and the outcome will not be over when the magazine is closed and the movie turns off.

 Christian is growing up to be such an interesting little character. With a mind of his own (hence the sunglasses) but wanting so intensely to be like his daddy. He is such a little ‘mini me’ and Chris and I share many smiles and laughs daily courtesy of Christians little ‘Crowlisms’. I think he feels cool in his new sunglasses – which I am sure have something to do with hanging out with Greg Kresse at the golf tournament, (speaking of mini me!)
Even though it may not mean much to those of you reading this blog there are so many things I want to remember about this time in our lives. Things that Christian does, things that Evelyn says and discoveries Ryan makes. For example Ryan discovered the other day that he can ride the ‘big boy’ quad all by himself  - it was the cutest thing I have ever seen.  Only to be followed by falling over (not off the bike mind you!) and hitting his mouth on the chair and cutting his gums open. Today he went up a stair for the first time and soon will be ruling the roost when it comes to the toy room! Evelyn struggles to find her place in this sibling triad and will do just about anything to find some attention – right down to decorating Kelly and Heath’s sofa with a blue sharpie…sigh.  She is so smart and picks up on just about anything said around her. She makes mention of things she has done months ago (like going to the zoo with Rod and Marilyn) and recalls them like it was yesterday. She finds joy in scaring her daddy with any picture of a snake she can find, “Look daddy – a snake!” I love that my kids really seem to find joy in each other and taking care of each other. Christian is such a big helper and wants to be apart of any construction; moving or organizing that goes on in the house. 
Love those blue eyes
So it is big chemo time already and we are off to the hospital tomorrow AM and being admitted to unti 1 for week #28 treatment.  We are hoping that he doesn’t get too sick and most importantly that we don’t end up in the hospital in six days time with a fever. Knowing that his immune system is only get weaker makes me so nervous, especially as Chris gets ready to head back to work. Back to an office filled with 300 school aged children with runny noses, stomach flu’s and ring worm (ok kidding about the ring worm!).  It will feel very weird to have him gone from home all day and I know the kids are going to miss him terribly. Oh well back to some sort of ‘real life’.   
mommy's little helper
Wednesday Chris and Evelyn will leave for Nova Scotia for a much needed Maritime escape from reality. Visiting family, hitting the beach, park, golf course and of course Murphy’s fish and chips is just what the family Dr. ordered! However it is not with out great trepidation that Christian, Ryan and myself will leave a week later to join the family vacation. I am praying very hard that Christian stays healthy, keeps out of hospital and has the energy to keep up with his cousins. That being said, even if he has to just sit on the park bench or in a lawn chair at the beach or ride in the golf cart for the whole 18, there is something about the air in the east that brings a gentle peace to your soul. The rush of life seems to fade and the worries and bills of home can, for the time being, wait.
Like father - like son
I was listening to a song by Matthew West tonight, Strong Enough, and it really does bring to light how the struggles of our life is what brings us closer to God. Not until we are “at rock bottom, do we start looking up”.  When things are well and life seems smooth it is easy to forget to be thankful and give praise for the gifts we receive. It is easy to think that we can do everything on our own with no help or guidance. That we know best. But these struggles in our lives is what can bring us closer to God. It is these difficult times when we can learn to let go of this strangle hold we have on our circumstances and say, “You know best and so I will follow the path you lay out for me”. That we trust that God knows best and will lead us to a better life and a better understanding of our purpose on earth. FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE. Thanks for reading.

Today I am thankful for:
1.     Christian music that makes me raise my hands in hope
2.     Christians rock star sunglasses
3.     Food in our fridge, water in our taps

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

No Words

Life's simple pleasures

Today I thankful for:
1. Quiet mornings in bed with my kids
2. Kijiji
3. Hot coffee after supper