Thursday  -- July 31st

We’ve had some fun over the past couple of days…

I took the kids up to the MacEwen’s again on Tuesday, to hang out on the dock, feed the fish and ducks. We didn’t think anyone was home, but Mr.MacEwen (Cam ), and Kate were there. We ended up staying for a few hours!

This is the same friend’s house where William just got his toe splinter and had to go to the ER. Well, we were in for a few more mishaps…

William went running down the back hill to be the first to the dock and ran by a flower bush. Next thing you know he’s screaming and crying. He kept saying, “The spiders are biting me!!” They weren’t spiders, they were bees. The big, black kind that look like spiders! He got stung three times. Poor guy. So we fixed him all up and we were ready for fun…

The kids got to sit in the Jacuzzi and go fishing off the dock. The fish were biting like crazy and they just kept catching them and tossing them back. Thomas caught a HUGE one…it’s name was William! Can you believe it?! Thomas’ fish hook went into William’s thumb! I almost had to laugh it was just too unbelievable! Luckily, it was not embedded, just a little tiny tear, so we took care of that wound too. William proclaimed that the next time we go there, he will be wearing lots of equipment! I told him he’ll need snow pants, boot, gloves, and goggles.

Stephanie got home later and we filled her in on all the happenings. She reminded me of the old saying, “bad things happen in 3’s.” So, if that’s the case, William’s dockside woes should be all done!

We all went for a boat ride, had pizza, then called it a day. It was great!

Yesterday Maddie’s 3rd grade teacher, Mrs.Daley, came to visit with her 4 month old son, Gryffin. He’s beautiful and Maddie was so happy to see them both. She blew raspberries on Gryffin’s stomach and he giggled that adorable baby giggle.

Thomas went off on a playdate with his pals Ben, Ella, and Spencer. He had a blast!! They went over to Gillette Stadium, for Patriot’s training day. There were all sorts of activities for the kids to do. He was just so happy to be with his friends and go out like a big guy.

I took Michael, Maddie, and William over to the pool club. Michael and William dove right into the water, but since Maddie can’t swim, we asked Melanie and Ray if she could work in the office or behind the snack counter. She had so much fun helping out behind the counter!

We’re off to the Jimmy Fund for the day for a blood draw and check up. Hoping her counts will show things are improving.

Tuesday  -- July 29th

Yes, that is quite the glamour shot isn’t it?! It was indeed our dear friend and neighbor, Paul Altmeyer, who had that photo published. Left me speechless. Well, except for a few choice words I uttered under my tongue! The kids all thought it was hysterical. OK, I’ll admit it, it was pretty funny! For people who don’t know, that was the very first picture I posted of myself on the website, way back when, as a JOKE (Oct.21st 06). I really don’t wear goggles and gloves when I’m cleaning!

Watch your back Paul…

Maddie is doing pretty well at home with her broviac device. We flush it twice a day and the visiting nurse has been out twice to change the caps and dressing on it. Changing the dressing is still a little painful, but Maddie’s a trooper.

She’s bummed she can’t swim, so we’ve been trying to find other things to do. She has decided to challenge our neighbor, Brian, to Wii game tournaments. She’s still the champ. She’s been hanging out with her girlfriends again and continuing with her dog walking business.

Ernie had the kids all hitting golf balls in the yard the other night. They’re all pretty good. The yard’s taking a beating, but it’s only grass. Thomas likes to have the job of gathering the balls with that fancy device that sucks the balls back up into the bag. He looks so cute out there working. The bag is almost as tall as him. Ernie was sending rocket balls high off into the woods…wonder where they landed.

Saturday night was fun. We just hung out, ate outside and then roasted marshmallows in the chimenea. After we roasted them, we drizzled chocolate sauce over them. At one point, Maddie gave up on the marshmallows and just licked the chocolate bowl clean. I tried to stop her, but she was like a wild, rabid little beaver, having a party all to herself! You’ll see when we get the pictures up.

I took the boys to the annual Jimmy Fund Summer Festival on Sunday. Maddie wanted to stay home with Ernie. It was a good time. There were some rides, cotton candy, great food, face painting, and the highlight for the boys, police car rides. We all took a ride in one car at first, but then the boys kept getting in line again to ride in the front alone. They had a blast sounding off the sirens and talking over the microphone/loud speaker . They thought it was funny to say my name and describe me, as they came around the bend. Everyone became quite familiar with us. I actually held my breath each time, fearing what they might say to the crowd! By the end of the fun, William and one of the officers, Mike, were on a first name basis!

I took the kids to a local farm yesterday afternoon to get an ice cream. Maddie’s friend, Molly, came along. William and Thomas had a blast chasing the wild chickens around the field. It was funny, until Thomas tripped over a potted plant and his ice cream went flying! Splat!

We went behind the barn, to where the inside hay maze is. It’s very dark in there. I’ve been through it when the kids were little and we held birthday parties there, but I wasn’t going in yesterday. We were greeted by a tiny farm kitten, standing on top of the hay, with yellow gunk oozing from his eyeball. “ Oh gross! Maybe you kids shouldn’t go in there. What if there’s a whole litter of kittens with oozing eyeballs in there!” They never listen, and off they went! Michael led the way, with a faulty flashlight we found sitting there. Maddie and Thomas stayed out. It took a while for the three to emerge and when they did, they were covered in mud! Or was it some kind of chicken poop? Either way, they wiped off with wipes and wanted to go again!

Maddie attempted to go in and was gone for a few seconds. William asked her not to go. He stood there, so nervously waiting and said to me, “Mom, I’m scared about Maddie. I banged my head in there ‘cuz it’s really small and I’m scared Maddie’s gonna fall and bang her chest and get hurt.” Well, just then, Maddie backed out and William was so relieved. He told her he was scared for her and they gave each other a big hug – so sweet.

Now Thomas wanted to go in. I warned him he wouldn’t like it, but again, they never listen. OK, last time. Michael took him in. Well, you could hear his muffled screams and cries as he got deeper into the dark maze. At that point, there was nothing I could do, but wait for them to come out on the other end. He cried the entire time. He was absolutely terrified! When they came out, he practically fell into my arms. Guess we won’t be doing that again! We said good bye to the sweet little kitten with the oozing eyeball and we went home.

Woke up at 5am this morning, not because I wanted to, but because I felt a warm sensation on my stomach. Well, Thomas had climbed into bed with us and wet the bed! Oh man! I really need to buy a queen sized wee wee pad. Anyone know where I can get one?!

Maddie’s blood results from yesterday show that her numbers are still the same. We’ll take another blood draw at clinic on Thursday. As of now, we have a tentative date to be admitted on August 20th. We’re praying everything will fall into place.

Sunday  -- July 27th

We don't get the local paper but someone generously left a copy in our mailbox. Rumor has it Mr. Altmeyer had something to do with it....


Thursday  -- July 24th

Crushing blow yesterday…

After waiting in the post – op area for several hours for Maddie’s room to be cleaned and prepared up on the floor, we got a visit from the on call doctor around 4pm. She wanted to discuss Maddie’s lab results.

Maddie’s liver counts have elevated, indicating there could be a viral infection in her liver. We have to delay the transplant until we can determine what is going on.

We paged our doctor and she met us in post-op. We talked more, met with the home health care coordinators, and then we were sent home.

We were devastated by the news for so many reasons. We had all made our peace, said our good byes, and we were emotionally ready to start. Maddie now has the broviac, or central line, device in her chest and can no longer go swimming, even though she may be home for a couple of weeks. We have to flush her lines at home twice a day and a visiting nurse will come out once a week to change the dressing.

We have a blood draw on Monday. We’re hoping a visiting nurse will come here to do that so we don’t have to go back into Boston.

So, now we wait. We wait to see what her blood says on Monday. If the numbers continue an upward trend, we will have to go in and ultrasound her liver and go from there.

We’re hoping her liver will heal itself quickly, that this will be resolved and we will be able to start sooner than later. We have to believe that everything happens for a reason, and I’m sure there’s a reason for this. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Thank you for all your support and of course, the birthday wishes. Ernie and I read all of your entries throughout the day yesterday and reading them was like receiving a hug from each of you. It really kept us going.

Wednesday  -- July 23rd

We had a great afternoon yesterday. We had quite a houseful of kids. Maddie had her girlfriends, Michael had a friend, William had a friend, and Thomas had cousin Charlie. We all went over to the pool next door and had a great time splashing around. A fruit basket arrived from Mike and Priscilla - perfect timing! Thank you!

After swimming, we all walked back to our house for cupcakes and a special surprise for Maddie. I got each of the kids a big balloon, either pink or yellow, Maddie's favorite colors. I gave them all the option to take it home or to write prayers and well wishes for Maddie on each of them, to send up to God. They all chose to send them up! They wrote the sweetest words on their balloons. Then they all lined up in the backyard and released them all together. It was so beautiful and so emotional. We all stood there and watched until we couldn't see the balloons anymore. The cool thing was that they all stayed in a clump the entire time, when usually they would just disperse. Hopefully our group power made a greater impact!

Saying bye to her friends was tough, but she really made the most of her day and the girls all went home with stationary sets, complete with Maddie's mailing address and phone # on an index card.

It was very hard for Maddie to get going this morning. When I tried to get her out of bed, she said, "Nope. I'm not gettin' up. If I get up, I'm getting a one way ticket to the hospital." We were due at the hospital at 7am for surgery at 8:30.

Michael got out of bed to say good bye to Maddie. They sat in tv room together and neither one wanted to make the first move to say bye. It was very difficult. Maddie finally stood up and the two kids hugged. Then she said her good bye to Hope. It was very hard, knowing she won't be back for about 2 months.

It's 10:30 now and Ernie and I are sitting, waiting for Maddie's surgery to finish. She was very upset going into the OR. She's handling everything as well as she can. She's a fighter, always has been...

So, here we are. We're really here. We'll keep you posted as soon as we can. In the meantime, hope you like the new pictures we posted!

Doctor just came out - she's done! Now we go to recovery for a while and then up to her room.

Tuesday  -- July 22nd

Picked Maddie up from camp on Saturday morning! I woke William up to take him with me. Ernie stayed home with the other two. William and I were so excited to get there! He wouldn’t even let me stop for a cup of coffee!

When we got to camp, all the kids were singing and dancing in the “mess hall,” waiting for their parents. We spotted Maddie and ran over to her! She had a bright pink cap on and looked so cute! Big hugs and smiles!

Maddie had a blast! She had a great time with Caroline, made so many new friends and had such and incredible experience. She chatted and sang the whole ride home, telling us her stories and singing us the camp songs. Her favorite one, of course, was the one about underwear, sung to the tune of God Bless America. Very cute. Several counselors approached me to tell me what a wonderful time they had with Maddie. I was so proud.

Maddie went fishing, swimming, performed in the theater, horse back riding, and even hot air ballooning! Imagine that! I’d like to go to this camp! Maddie really had a great time with “B” the clown from Children’s. He told her he’d see her in the hospital. What fun! Maddie plans to go back next year, and every year after that, until they cut you off at age 15!

We had a very special night on Saturday. Our friends had a “Cocktails For A Cause” party for our family. It was so special and so touching that they would do this for us. All of our best friends came out to support us and we are so grateful! We really feel so lucky and extremely blessed. We can’t thank you all enough!

Yesterday was a long day. Maddie and I arrived at the hospital around 7:45am. We had gotten up at 5:30 because we were supposed to be there for 7, but Maddie wasn’t feeling too well so we took our time. Maddie had one more echo cardiogram, we met with the cardiologist, the anesthesiologist, and the pre-op nurse. Then we headed over to the Jimmy Fund Clinic for a blood transfusion around 10:30am. Big mix up with her blood and we didn’t get it going until 4pm! We sat there all day. We were so upset about the whole ordeal but tried to make the best of it. Watched lots of Tom and Jerry and I ran over to Dairy Queen for a chocolate dipped cone for Maddie. Ice cream makes everything better! Not much else we could do since Maddie was already hooked up with her IV. We got home around 7pm.

When we got home, we ordered take out and then Ernie took Maddie to the grocery store for a lobster. She really wanted a lobster. Well, they came back with the biggest lobster you’ve ever seen! A 3 pounder! Man, that thing was huge and ugly! It sure tasted good though! Maddie shared the tail with me. Thank you Maddie!

Today Maddie is having her girlfriends over for a few hours. Then we have to pack up and get ready for tomorrow.

We have a lot to do but in the midst of it all hope to truly enjoy our time together today.

We’re having some problems with the camera, but hope to put some pictures on the website soon. Especially one of Maddie holding that huge, ugly lobster!

Not sure when we’ll be able to post again, but hopefully over the next day or two, after we get settled in. Thank you to all, for your constant support, friendship and love. I read this somewhere, wrote it down, and keep in on my fridge…”Where there is great love, there are always miracles.” We are surrounded by great love and miracles every day, and we are forever grateful.


Friday  -- July 17th

It has been a quiet week around here without Maddie. We really miss her. I called the first morning to check on her and was told she was doing great. Since we can’t talk to each other, I haven’t called since. I am SO excited to pick her up from camp tomorrow morning! Everyone will come with me except for Michael. He doesn’t want to see the camp until it’s his turn to attend Sibling Week in August. He wants to be surprised! I’m sure we’ll have lots of cute pictures and stories to share.

I had a great time Tuesday night! My childhood friend Cathy, and my college roommate, Laura, came up from CT. to spend the night! It was so good to see them. Cathy drove Michael back from CT. with her so that was a huge help for us. He had a great time with his cousins down in CT. They went blueberry picking, swam in the pool, and went to an amusement park. Thanks Mike and Amy for having him!

Cathy, Laura, and I went out with a big plan to have a drink and see a movie. Well, once we got chatting at the restaurant, we skipped the movie and kept on chattin’! We came back home and chatted some more – until 3am! The next morning we hung out at the school playground with the kids for a bit, had lunch and ice cream and then said our good byes. I was sad to see them go. It may be a while before we’ll all be together again. Thanks so much guys for coming. Love You!

I took the boys over to our friend’s, the MacEwen’s, lake front house yesterday. The first thing they had planned was to take us in the boat and go tubing. I like boats. I just don’t like being in a boat… but off we went! A very confident Stephanie sipped her soda with one hand and drove with the other. Ok, we’re ok. The boys took turns tubing off the back off the boat. As they signaled for Stephanie to go faster, she sped up, still sipping her soda and driving with one hand, or for a second, her knee, so she could use her hand to shift gears, and come crashing down on the waves. I thought to myself, ”Hmmm, maybe now’s a good time to tell Stephanie I’m scared!” Nah, I just buried my head and prayed!

After boating we hung out by the shore, feeding the ducks and trying to catch the big fish in nets. William caught three fish! He looked so cute as he dove under, with his little net over and over again, surfaced with twigs and lake “gunk” on his head, swam towards the ducks, quacking. He was a real Crocodile Dundee.

Thomas on the other hand, like me, was afraid of the unknown under his feet in the lake. He swam with caution and fear! I know the feeling – I’m afraid of seaweed and any kind of lake “gunk!” Not to mention, the fish that swim all around you! So, Stephanie and I sat nearby in the chairs, cracking up at William, when all of a sudden, Thomas started shrieking and screaming! He was being attacked by piranha! OK, maybe not piranha, but was a lake fish really biting him!? I screamed, “What? What’s happening?!,” as I made my way to the lake edge. He screamed, “The fish is biting me!” I’m thinking ,”Uh oh, I have to get in there and get him out?” “Swim Thomas! Swim! Wait, you can stand up there! Stand up and get out!” He was frozen with fear. So, was I. I was goin’ in…

Thomas was fine. I think he brushed his arm against the bottom, something rough, and panicked, thinking a fish was biting him. I confessed to Stephanie how hard that was for me to get in there and she laughed. She promised she’d retrieve him the next time…and there WAS a next time!

Michael had fun playing with Stephanie’s son, Keegan. They’re the same age and get along very well.

So, we all had a great time until we were getting ready to leave. William said, “Mom, see my big toe? I scraped it on the dock and look what happened.” HUGE splinter deep under his big toenail. About an inch long, 1/8” inch wide. You’ve got to be kidding me. Immediately, we knew that was a ride to the ER. Stephanie and I made an attempt to get it out with tweezers, but it was so painful and fully embedded. Stephanie came back to my house and sat for Thomas. I took Michael with us and off we went. Michael was such a huge help and comfort for William. We sat in the ER for two hours before William was worked on.

The poor kid. He was in so much pain but he was so brave. He got a few needles to his toe to numb it and then the doctor was able to get under that nail and get it out! Thank God! I really thought they’d have to remove his nail.

We kept the splinter and brought it home to show Dad. It’s now in a fancy little souvenir box. It was now about 9:45pm. I asked William what he would like for a prize for being so brave. He says, ”twenty bucks.” What? I was thinking maybe we’d get a kiddie cone at Friendly’s for a buck or something. What do ya’ think?

So, it’s been a fun, entertaining week and now we have our schedule for next week.

We have to be at the hospital at 7am Monday morning for another echocardiogram for Maddie. Then we meet with the chief cardiologist and the anesthesiologist. After the meetings, Maddie will get a blood transfusion. We’ll be there all day. We get to come home and enjoy our day at home on Tuesday. Maddie is admitted first thing on Wednesday to begin the whole process.

Lots to do to prepare, but we plan to really enjoy the rest of our time at home.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Sunday  -- July 13th

So, where were we?

OK, the mice are gone! Phew! I took them, along with all of the mouse supplies, back to Pet Smart. They were so nice about accepting everything back, but they hesitated on Maddie’s, the one that came from RI. Understandably, they only take pets back that were purchased from their store, and in the case of mice, they will only take males because that is all they sell in their branch. So, I told them I was pretty sure the mouse came from a Pet Smart store in RI. Told them I wasn’t sure because “my brother bought it as a gift”…ok, so I told a little fib, but all for the benefit of the little mouse…now that that’s out of the way, the sales girl now wants to determine if it’s a male, so she looks, and looks…can’t decide. I said,” I was told it was a male, but let me see…” So, I look and I’m pretty sure it’s a male. She didn’t take my word for it and had to call another employee to come and take a peek, to make a determination! It was just so weird, three women standing there looking at the little mouse’s privates and actually having a debate about what we were seeing!

Anyway, after we all agreed it was a boy, they told me they still could not take him back. “What?!” Well, I didn’t have the receipt, blah, blah, blah. OK, I get it, don’t even want money for it, but NEED to get rid of it. So, I explain our situation, tell them the doctor will not allow it back into the house, and proceed to tell them how badly I’ll feel about having to let him go into the woods when I get home. The sales girl says, “Excuse me for a minute.” I’m thinking to myself, “Yes, it worked!” Five minutes later she comes back and tells me they’ll take him back and adopt him out! “Oh, Thank you!”

So, we’re leaving Pet Smart and I’m practically pet free at home, except for Hope and Bubbles the fish, and I’m telling myself I will never get another pet. I’m done! Then William says, “Mom, can I get a lizard?” So, what do you suppose I did?

Of course I didn’t get a lizard! I marched all the kids out to the car and peeled outta’ there!

Thursday afternoon was great. Our friend Andrew, who we met in Lourdes, his Mom Cathy, and his brother Brendan, came to visit. They are from RI and Maddie had been wanting to see Andrew since we got home from Lourdes. The two of them became great buddies in Lourdes. We played in the yard for a few hours, ordered pizza, then went to FunWay USA to ride the Go Carts! It was so much fun! Ernie met us there. We closed the place down!

We finished up the last of Maddie’s tests in the hospital on Friday. It was a really long day there. In addition to her tests, we got a tour of the floor she’ll be on for transplant. It just became really real by being there and it was very emotional. We were anxious to get home.

When we got home we were ready to start the weekend with my Mom and Ernie’s Mom, who were both here for the weekend. We had a nice dinner Friday night and then on Saturday, Maddie woke up not feeling too great. She slept most of the day on the couch. Around 3:30, we took her temperature and she had a fever! It was 101.6, which is really high for someone with her blood counts, so Ernie had to take her into the hospital. It was such a bummer and we were so afraid she’d be admitted and have to miss camp.

Thankfully, the two of them got home around 9:30 and she was able to leave for camp today! She was so excited!

I drove Maddie, along with William and Thomas, and our neighbor Stephanie, down to Ashford, CT. to drop Maddie at The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp. We got there just as her friend, Caroline, was arriving. It’s a beautiful campground. It is so well organized and the entire staff is so friendly and cheerful! We hung out for several hours and got Maddie settled into her bunk. She’s in a log cabin with 9 girls and 4 counselors. They all seem very sweet and I know she will be well taken care of and make new friends. She’ll have a blast with Caroline! We already knew someone there. It was the clown from Children’s Hospital! You’ll see him in the pictures. Maddie knew his whole skit from the hospital on Friday. He was very impressed!

It was really hard leaving her there for the week! William started to cry when he hugged her, so of course, I started too! Maddie told me not to cry, so I stopped until I was out of her view! William and Maddie kept their eye on each other and kept waving until they couldn’t see each other. Then William buried his little face in my neck as I carried him to the car. He was very upset. He has big plans to send her all kinds of goodies. His first idea was to mail himself! We can’t call her and she can’t call home, so I’ll be so anxious to pick her up on Sat!

Ernie’s Mom left around 10:30 this morning to head up to NH to spend some time with Ernie’s brothers. My Mom took the train home around 2, and took Michael with her. Michael is spending a few day with his cousins. He was so excited to go! I was sad to hug him good bye today too. I’m hoping he’ll be coming home Tues., with my friend Cathy, who lives 5 minutes from my brother, and is planning a visit. That would be great!

So, that’s it. It’s just Ernie, myself, and the two little guys here…and Hope and Bubbles.

Wednesday  -- July 9th

Good morning everyone,

I got up extra early this morning so that I could have a little bit of quiet time before the kids got up. I have been trying to think of how to word this next entry and share with you all, the latest developments, when the timing was appropriate…

So, the time is now to let you all know that Maddie has developed a blood disorder, called MDS. In a nutshell, it means that her bone marrow is no longer working. This is why she has been needing blood transfusions. We had been watching her blood counts for quite some time and had hoped and prayed they would turn around and improve on their own over time. Unfortunately, we know that is not going to happen. In order to correct this problem, Maddie will be going in for a bone marrow transplant on July 21st.

Ernie, myself, and the kids, were not a marrow match for Maddie. It took a while to find a match because Maddie is a rare type, but we did. We found a suitable match in a 39 year old woman from Europe. One out of 12 million. Because of strict rules, we don’t know anything else about her, but we are extremely grateful for her and hope to be in touch with her one day. In fact, Maddie is allowed to write to her, through screened letters, and hopefully, she’ll write back! Maybe we’ll get to travel to Europe one day to meet her!

We are all very overwhelmed by all of this, in particular, Maddie, but I must say, that I am so incredibly proud of how all of the kids have handled this news. We have learned over the past two years that we can do this together as a family, with the love and support of our family, friends, and church. We have been so incredibly blessed with love and support over the past two years and have always been grateful. We know we are not alone.

This time around, we will be able to do things a little differently. We are so thankful to Ernie’s employer for allowing him to take an extended leave to be with the family. This will make such a huge difference for us, particularly the kids. Ernie and I will alternate at the hospital and our kids will have the other one of us at home with them. Not having either of us home the last time around was very difficult for the kids.

We have had some awesome summer escapades already, and we are so glad we got to do what we have done. All of our early summer memories will help brighten our days ahead. Everything from New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Miami, to simply swimming and lounging right next door at the pool. Loads of giggles to reflect upon! Maddie will be going to her camp as planned this Sun. for the week, and Michael is going to CT. to visit with his cousins for a few days! Fun stuff!

We can only ask that you all continue to keep our family in your prayers. We will update the website as we move forward on this next part of our journey. It’s true, what they say, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Tuesday  -- July 8th

Hope you all had a great 4th of July weekend!

We had a little birthday celebration for our neighbor, Stephanie on Tuesday night, the 1st, after we got home from Maddie’s bone marrow aspiration. She was sore but insisted we have the party. Stephanie’s husband had to work, so it was just us, party hats and a huge, chocolate cake!

The rest of the week was relatively quiet.

The fireworks were on Thursday night. Every year, we go one town over, to Franklin, for the fireworks. They put on a great show. Maddie decided to stay home with Ernie, so I took the boys and Stephanie, and met up with Jeanne and her family. It was a fun night.

Maddie went to the movies with Molly M. and Sydney on Sat. afternoon. They had a blast seeing Kung Fu Panda and just being silly girls!

Late Saturday night Lauren came up for a visit. Ernie took the kids out to Nicky’s on the corner the next morning for breakfast and then they went swimming in Stephanie’s pool next door. I went over for the 10am mass, only to learn that mass starts at 9am in the summer. Oops. So, I sat and said my Rosary in peace and quiet! It was really nice.

Ernie drove Lauren back to Boston late Sunday afternoon, to catch the ferry out to the Cape and then came home to a barbeque. We hung out with Jeanne’s family, the Altmeyer’s , the Walker’s, and the Findlen’s. Lots of kids in the Walker’s pool and then back here to eat. Lots of kids – lots of laughs!

Good news – the mice are, or should I say were, gone! They went to a good home earlier in the week. Our neighbor’s next door, the McLoughlin’s, offered to adopt them. Hooray, everyone’s happy… Then, last night, it happened - “ The Phone Call.” It started like this… ”Kristen, it’s Patty. I have bad news…” Turns out, Patty and her family don’t care for the smell of mouse peepee in their home either. Hmmm, go figure. Thanks for trying Patty. I really do appreciate it.

So, I called the pet store and since we’re within the 14 day guarantee (actually today is day 14 for one mouse), I can bring him back. The only problem is that the other one came from RI. No receipts, no guarantee, no return. Patty and I talked about letting it go free in the woods, but we both know it wouldn’t survive. Now what? I’m going to cart all of my loud, crazy children into the pet store, with two mice, the cages, the food and bedding, all in tow. If we make a big enough ruckus, maybe they’ll just take it all and tell me to get lost! Or, maybe I can just sneak the second mouse into the cage with the others. Hopefully, I won’t drop it into the snake cage by mistake…Maybe I can just put him down on the floor and an employee will stumble across it, wonder how it got loose, and put it back in the cage. Oooo, hopefully nobody will step on him.

Thomas’ fish, Bubbles Pancake, is still alive...for today anyway.

Yesterday was another long day of testing with Maddie in the hospital. As always, we spend time on the 6th floor, in between tests. We got to see some of our favorite nurses and hang out in the playroom. In between two of the tests, Maddie has to lay still for an hour, after an injection, before a scan. So, they set us up in a back room with a movie. This is when I get to take my nap! Maddie and I lay on the bed and I drool on her shoulder while she watches the movie! It’s my favorite part of testing week!

Couple of tests today: Michael has a dentist appt. and Maddie has a dentist and eye exam. The rest of the week will be busy with more tests for Maddie, but I’m waiting to hear the rest of our schedule.

My Mom and Ernie’s Mom are both planning a visit this week, into the weekend.

Maddie leaves for camp on Sunday, for the week. It’s a sleep away camp, The Hole In The Wall Gang camp, in Ashford, CT. It’s Paul Newman’s camp for children who have or have had an illness. I have heard wonderful things about it. Maddie will be bunking with her friend, Caroline Lane, from the hospital. They’re great pals and they’re both so excited! I’m a little nervous. I’ve never had any of my kids sleep away at a camp, but I know she’ll be fine.

OK, gotta go pack up the mice and the kids. I’m on a mission…

Wednesday  -- July 3rd

Hi All! We have been going non-stop for weeks now, and I am so excited to have nothing planned for the 4th of July weekend! Time to catch up with things around here!

Where do I start…

Narragansett Rhode Island with my family. We had a blast! The cousins all love hanging out together. The house we rented was huge, so we could all have our own bedrooms and really spread out. We ate meals on the beautiful deck overlooking the beach in the distance. The beach was great. The kids all boogie boarded and played in the sand.

I was surprised by a 40th birthday party, complete with party blowers, banners, balloons, and hats! What a surprise! My actual birthday isn’t until July 24th, but I won’t be with my family for my birthday, so I was so glad that we got to celebrate it together! Thanks Guys!

We had fun one day at the little adventure park. I took Thomas in the water boat and we went head to head with Dean and Charlie. Thomas and I ruled the water! We drenched them - it was hysterical! Dean and I agreed we wouldn’t get each other wet, but as I recall it, they fired the first shot!

I did something very crazy, or you may say stupid, while we were in RI. Maddie has been begging for another hamster. No way, I said. Well, I took her and Jackie to the little pet store and of course, she fell in love with a teeny tiny light brown mouse. You know the rest…we now own not only one mouse, but two, because when we got home, William wanted a mouse! What’s fair is fair…or stupid! To top it off, Thomas wanted a fish! Yep, his name is “Bubbles Pancake Savoie.” What was I thinking? Now I have to figure out how to get rid of all these new tenants!

When we got home from RI, we had one day of down time before we were off to Miami!!! I had been keeping the secret for so long and it was finally here! Teehee!!!!

We had a blast in Miami! It was such a great surprise for the kids and I could not have done it without the kindness and generosity of so many wonderful people! You all know who you are and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

I had packed the kids things the night before and woke them up in the morning to tell them to get up because I was taking them on an adventure. They had no idea. I didn’t reveal our destination until we got to the check in at the airport. They were trying to read the departure board to figure it all out. It was great!

Once we got to Miami and checked into the hotel, we enjoyed a nice dinner in the restaurant and then went swimming in the roof top pool. Despite Ernie’s narrative, Jeanne and I were not sipping fancy umbrella cocktails by the pool. We were too busy playing Marco Polo in the pool with the kids! It was funny. Jeanne and I felt like kids again!

Our next day, we were off to the Miami Aquarium! It was amazing! We got to see so many cool things. We were with a pre-arranged guide, Jessica, who was so sweet. We got a private feeding with the manatee. Maddie, Jeanne, and Michael enjoyed feeding them, although I think Michael shared a lot of my same feelings. I tried to change my mind about feeding them after I kneeled on the little ledge and they opened their mouths, but it was too late. I had to shove the watermelon treat into their big, gooey, mushy, mouths. They sure are ugly, but so gentle.

Next we got to meet the huge birds. No, I’m not a bird person, as you saw in the picture, but after watching Maddie and Jeanne hold the birds with no problem, I tried to convince Michael to give it a try by showing him it would be fine… it wasn’t fine! I thought that thing was going to peck my eyeballs out! He wanted the granola bar I had in my other hand and started to walk up my arm and onto my face and chest! I kept saying, “Get it off! Get it off!” See that Michael, no problem. Moving along…

Onto the dolphin pool! It was incredible! The dolphins are so intelligent and so gentle. They are truly amazing to interact with. The kids LOVED petting, feeding, interacting with, and of course, swimming with the dolphins. I loved watching the kids! Michael and Maddie had the biggest smiles on their faces the whole time and they were truly amazed! The whole time , I just kept thinking how unbelievable it was that we were there and they really were getting to experience this together! It could not have been more perfect!

Getting pulled across the water on the dolphin was really fun. The kids hopped on, no fear, and giggled the whole ride. I, on the other hand, have to admit that once again I was nervous, although I trusted they wouldn’t hurt us. After getting over my fear, another thought sunk in during my ride…I was swallowing dolphin poo poo/pee pee water! Gross!

Kissing the dolphin was a struggle for me. The whole time I just kept praying, “Please don’t bite my nose off. Please don’t bite my nose off!” I’m so glad I did it! I actually think the dolphin knew I was nervous and in one shot, it looks like he was laughing at me! Of course, the kids and Jeanne loved it!

Wearing the wetsuits was another story. Have you ever pulled one of those things on? They are so hot and stinky!

We smelled like giant sweaty, stinky feet walking around! And, just for the record, Jeanne and I had skirted bathing suits underneath, which balled up as we slipped into the suits, so now we not only smelled bed, but looked like we had fat rolls everywhere! Yes, these suits are quite humbling!

All in all, we had a blast that day! The only casualty was Jeanne’s cover up, that she had to throw away, after the bird in the tree pooped all over her as she sat peacefully on the bench to rest for a minute! I thought it was hysterical until I realized the bird pooped on my bag too! Damn bird!

After our day at the Aquarium, we got dropped off at the beautiful wharf for dinner! It was all outdoors and it was a beautiful night. We ate dinner at the Hard Rock. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel, which was about three blocks away.

The next day, we got up to pack, eat breakfast, and we were on our way home. It was a quick trip, but an amazing trip! What incredible memories! Thank you again to all who made this happen for us!

Maddie had some tests on Monday and then a bone marrow aspiration yesterday. She will go back in next week for several more days of testing. We’ll keep you posted on results.

We wish you all a safe, happy, and healthy 4th of July weekend! With Love…


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