Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Party Time

On Sunday we celebrated Leo a couple of days early with a dinosaur party.  We had a dinosaur egg hunt, dinosaur coloring station and dinosaur tattoos!
Leo had a great time and was so lucky to be able to celebrate with so many friends and family.  Not a bad way to kick of the big three!

 Leo and I made dino cups for the kids
 All of our dinosaurs were ready to party with their hats.
 Blake & Leo
 The boys
 Leo had a lot of help opening his gifts!
 Woohoo, new wheels!

 Serious Playdoh fun
 Stomp Rocket!
Leo and Olive



I can hardly believe you are three today, the super fast labor that didn't allow for an epidural, the sleepless nights, the need for me to be with you at almost every moment... I wouldn't change a thing because it has brought me, you.  I cannot tell you how amazing it has been watching you become perfectly you.

You're a feeler, you have genuine concern for others, you are very tuned in to how others are feeling.  If I get frustrated you look at me and ask, "You happy mama?"  If you get too rough and hurt Georgia, you are quick to say you're sorry and give her a hug, you're just a sweet guy.

You love sports and seem to really like football much to my chagrin.  I'm hoping I can persuade you to like a less aggressive sport, we'll see.  Your favorite color is blue, you're an excellent eater and have become a better than average sleeper.  You're funny, you like to make people laugh by being goofy.  You love anything that has to do with construction trucks, monster trucks, airplanes, dinosaurs, rockets.. you're all boy.

You're an awesome little brother.  You always accompany Georgia to the bus stop and before she gets on the bus you insist on giving her a big hug and kiss, you'll take her face in your hands and plant a big kiss on her lips, it's the sweetest thing.  You'll belt out, "Bye Georgia, have a good day... I love you!" as she boards the bus.

You're shy and take a bit to warm up to new situations and people.  Once you're warmed up you turn into a rambunctious boy who loves to jump, throw, be loud and have fun.

I've noticed you really like to cook.. you either help me or get out the pots and pans and start pulling food from the cupboards and mixing them together.  The other day we found the vegetable steamer in the refrigerator full of pretzels and chips.

To my sweet snuggly, I'm so glad you're mine and I cannot imagine our family without you.  I love you so incredibly much!

Friday, February 5, 2016


Yesterday, I went to the SCCA for Georgia's five year post transplant conference, I'm still feeling a bit numb, both from the conversation and the impact of the last five years.

Georgia didn't attend the conference, she would have been bored and I wouldn't have been able to candidly ask my list of questions.  Dr Carpenter wasn't in the office when we'd come for clinic two weeks ago so we decided to make him a little video.

After watching Georgia's video and marveling at how great she looks, Dr Carpenter opened his file full of papers and started with, Everything looks awesome.

For nearly two hours we talked about Georgia's treatment, healing and health today.  We reviewed chemotherapies she was given and how they may impact her body in the years to come.  We discussed how she needs to be followed and who should do that.

The question at the top of my list, What does being five years post transplant mean for Georgia?  With JMML the three year mark is a very big milestone so I wasn't sure what I expected Dr Carpenter to say, but the words that came out of his mouth could have knocked me over.  He said, Given the extremely aggressive form of leukemia she had, five years is when we start saying, cured.

Cured.  I know this is a word everyone with cancer longs to hear, we know too many that never got the chance, yet I hear it, I say it, I type it and all I do is cry.  The trouble with powerful words is that they are still just words.  Saying cured doesn't erase the absolute torture of the last five years.  It doesn't mean move forward and pretend like nothing happened, we still watch and test her body in different ways than the average six year old.  There are still questions that only time will answer and as her mom I will chose the appropriate time to help Georgia understand her body.

I talked with my dad today who gave an analogy that seems to fit just right, you don't want to look at this as the glass half empty, sometimes it's hard to look at it as half full, it's just sort of a glass with something in it.

I am infinitely grateful for Georgia's health and the outpouring of support that has carried our family to this day, I just think it is going to take some time to process.

Last night, before bed I told Georgia that I'd met with Dr Carpenter and he said her body is healthy and strong, she smiled, then asked, is tomorrow Friday mom, because I get treats in my lunch on Fridays.  She is just as she should be, focused on things that are important to her, having no idea what a miracle she is.

Yesterday, through the magic of Facebook I saw a post I'd written exactly five years ago, February 4, 2011 we were admitted to the PICU, Georgia had gained 5 pounds of fluid and her liver was toxic, it was such a critical time.  If someone would have told me I'd be sitting at the SCCA hearing the word cured five years later, I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have believed them.

I posted again yesterday with the incredible news I'd received, again, there was an outpouring of love and kind words, the comment that comes with the most impact is from my mom's best friend:
Bonnie Steussy I can sense your Mom saying , YES! She was always knocked out by your tenacity, Alison! Like Mother, like daughter, like grand daughter!!!! My heart is full with this news! And , no, you will never get over this experience ! You will remain quickened in every way. Your breadth, presence, depth, compassion and gratitude will set you apart to model for others. Little Georgia Claudia is a powerful teacher and you've graduated with honors! !!! That's what you get with hands on learning: auditing or a correspondence course just wouldn't have been the same! Sending love!

 One year post transplant

Two years post transplant
Three years post transplant

Four years post transplant
Five years post transplant
Strongest girl I know!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Skier #2

Last week, Georgia had a day off of school so all four of us decided to head to the mountain for some skiing!  Leo had tried the magic carpet a few times in Montana but we hadn't tried his ski legs since we'd been home.
Brian had the first try with Leo, round and round they went, up the magic carpet, down the small hill, always holding on to dad, being very cautious.
Georgia was patient as always, encouraging her brother as she tried to do a few ski "tricks" which kept her happy while Leo was becoming more sure of himself.
We took a break for a snack and hot chocolate, warmed up a bit.  Then daddy and Georgia headed to the chair and I figured I would take Leo a few times on the magic carpet then wait in the lodge.  To my surprise, we kept going and going, each time his smile got bigger and he became more confident, the end result was a skier!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Five Years Post Transplant - The Celebration

Thankfully, Leo was hanging out with Leslie while Georgia and I were at the SCCA, we'd made plans for a celebration after our appointments.  Lauren and Blake got to play hooky from school to join in, first order of business, the reward Georgia had been promised, her first pet, a fish.

We met Leslie and the kids at PetCo with lots of hugs and smiles.  The kids got right to work looking at the fish options (Betta fish) and after careful deliberation, Georgia chose one.  We made sure to get our new pet a proper bowl and some fancy rocks and "grass" to fill her bowl.

It didn't take long for Georgia to come up with a name for her new pet, Tiny Betta Handsaker.

Next up, ice cream!  We all headed over to the local frozen yogurt shop and piled on the toppings, Georgia's sundae was complete with her celebratory 5 candle.

Lastly we headed back to the Pittmans for some much needed play and mommy decompress.
My sister has been with me each year on the anniversary of transplant, once at the conference, once bringing balloons and always being a huge support to me.  For so long we dreamt of easy playdates, not constantly worrying about germs or slathering everyone in Purell every moment, I'm so grateful that this dream came true.

Meet Tiny Betta Handsaker

 The Celebration!

This is Tiny's new home, and the notes Georgia left for her as she went to school today... 

I love Tiny, Love Georgia
Fish love