Friday, June 17, 2016

In tragedy love and acceptance can be born. Lesson learned.

I don't think there is anyone in the USA that has not heard about the terrible tragedy that occurred in Orlando this past week.  No doubt everyone's heart was touched and saddened.  The tragedy transcends beyond politics, beyond religions, beyond differences that divide us [or at least it should and did often!]
I was touched and am touched by the outpouring of love and service to the families and loved ones left behind from those who have similarities, from those that have differences, from the most unlikely places.  I have LOVED reading those stories. 

We've tried to instill in our sons that we love all, we accept all, we do not judge.  This tragedy has been a door to educate and show them even further, how we are called and meant to love.  As human beings, all connected, it is important, MANDATORY that we love.  We should love!
Children have real feelings, they have questions, they want to know why.  I don't hid much from my sons.  When they ask, I try to be as honest as I can on a level they understand.

Why would someone shoot all these people?  What does gay mean?  Why did he hate them?

The one thing I wanted to impress on them that the shooter, consumed with hate because of differences, felt it was his job to judge those people and take their lives. 
Beyond that that I moved to the victims.  Though the shooter played a terrible roll, the tragedy is no longer about him, he's gone now. 
Rather it was focusing on the victims.  On helping and loving the families and loved ones left behind. 
I explained [as I have before] what gay means.  It means that one adult loves another adult of the same sex.  And they shouldn't be judged, hated, killed, or looked down on because of it.
And I shared with them stories of those reaching out in thoughts, prayers, and love to help.
I told them that adults are free to love other adults and be supported.  And I will always love and support them no matter who they love.

This is my chance, my children's chance, every person's chance to cast aside judgement, cast aside prejudices if they have them, to open their arms, services if they have it, to open their hearts and love and accept people as fellow human beings. 

Living in the state where it happened, just an hour away, you can see and feel the mood, see how love has won out, even from those who don't agree.  You see people putting aside their political and religious differences to donate blood, food, places to stay, airline rides.
I'm a member of the Episcopal Church.  One Episcopal church in Orlando opened it's doors and offered funeral services for the those who lost their lives.  LOVE and ACCEPTANCE! 

This is what my sons are and will learn.  To love and accept others, and that they are loved and accepted.  Anything less is unthinkable.
Orlando Strong!
Pray for Orlando!

Faith, Hope, and Love.  But the greatest of these is LOVE!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Terrariums, Nature, clay, & Chemo. Oh my!

June has arrived with a hot roar.  Florida temperatures are soaring into the 90s and the end of the school year is here!
It has been quite the journey this school year and the adventure continues.

Aaron is doing fabulous at Babson Park Elementary.  This coming week is their final 3.5 days and it's packed with fun for the students, from a School Fair to a Fairy Tale Bowl.  He's also scheduled to attend 4 weeks [4 days a week], a 3rd grade enrichment program at the school.  It's a half day program and will begin introducing him to the third grade. 

David has pretty much wrapped up his first official homeschool term.  He began at the end of April.  The 2016-17 academic year will be his first full year homeschool.
He's excited about the coming year as his textbooks have begun arriving.  He was especially excited when his National Geographic Earth Science book arrived! 

The biggest reason, as you all know, to homeschool is due to his health.  His ITP has been relentless and thus far has responded very little to the 3 different treatment plans he's undergone.
So now we dive into the more heavy duty treatment and pray for at least short term remission.  |

Monday, June 6th he will begin a 4 week round of a chemotherapy drug called Rituximab.  It brings response and often short term remission [about a year], in about 50% of it's recipients. 

His platelet count again hit critical level this past week and we found ourselves back at Nemours for an overnight stay and observation.  They debated whether to do a short term treatment, but his platelets at least held steady and we were scheduled for Monday for the chemo.
The wonderful thing is that Nemours is an amazing hospital for children.  I don't know how we would have done it without them.  They have made this whole journey "fun" for David making sure he understood what is going on and entertaining him while he is there.

This link tells a little more about the treatment he will be recieving.  While it is of course good in one aspect, it will be trying in another.  His immune system will be more suppressed than usual.  And as we know, he's already not the best at fighting off infection.
So per the doctor's orders, we have taken steps to make sure he is rarely around large crowds, and those that enter our home sanitize their hands upon entering.  It will take 2-6 months for his body to begin replacing the B & T cells that are destroyed during the chemo.  And about 11 months for it to be back to "normal".

Rituximab, a chemotherapy drug.

Click the link to read more about Rituximab.

To our family's great surprise and thankfulness, a friend of ours  [Jim Holton] created a Go Fund Me page.  We have been extremely blessed and the sweet gifts and donations will help ease the burden during this trying time.  For each of the infusions, David and I will be staying in a hotel close to the hospital just in case we need to go back [we are over an hour away if we go home] and most of the serious side effects happen within the first 24 hours. 
It will also be good for David as we can go just minutes down the road and he can rest right away. 

Help the Gouge Family fight ITP

Click the link above to read more about the campaign for David!

So back to the end of David's school year!  We had a great week of exploring nature [Thank you Bok Tower Gardens!], to eating 2 terrariums where we can watch a small eco system develop, to creating with salt dough! 

Another thing David has really been into is "old timey phones".  He constructed this old box phone [fashioned after the crank phones], and also made a candle stick phone.  He plays with them all the time!
I found a vintage replica [non working] candlestick phone on Amazon and would love to get it for him for his birthday if we can. 

And lastly, to keep the boys spry this summer, I have created our schedule.  Now I realize with David's June chemo schedule it may be thrown off a bit, but it's a good guideline and will encourage them to remain active both mentality and physically [for David as much as he can be currently.]
Here's to summer!  Here's to remission!  We can do this!