Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lindsay Mask- a gift from God

Steve and I both knew I was going to need some help. I didn't want to always have to depend on family to watch my kids so I could go get house stuff done and necessary errands like going to the grocery store. Hudson was in confinement due to his low ANC (immune system.) My sister-in-law, Lindsay (who is amazing in every way) gave us Lindsay Mask's phone number. She was one of their close friends they use to watch when her parents went out of town for years.  Lindsay was now a senior in high school. She said she was interested in coming to work for us a few times a week and we felt really good about it. From the second she walked into the door for the first time, I knew we were going to love her and consider her a part of the family from the get go. She came with flowers and some cinnamon bread neatly wrapped with a big bow. She had the happiest smile and most positive, cheerful attitude I have ever seen on a teenage girl. My boys instantly clicked with her. She came three times a week after school for months up until she graduated and went off to college in the late summer. She heard Hudson say he loved sushi and it was his favorite food. The next time she came, she brought his favorite primo rolls from Tamari, his most favorite sushi joint! He was in heaven! He asked her during their little sushi date: "Do you have a boyfriend?" She said "No, I use to but then we broke up and he started dating another girl really fast." He looked at her confused and angry and said "What's her name?" She told him the name and he repeated it in disgust and said "That's a dumb name! Lindsay is a much better name! Pfffff! .... I'm going to find your old boyfriends house and I'm going to go kick him in the leg!" She said she died laughing and knew that Hudson had her back! 
About a month later, she told him she was going to New York with her mom and a couple friends and their moms for her senior trip. He told her "You tell your friends that you have a boyfriend and his name is Hudson (with a proud smile on his face!)" Man, I love that kids confidence. He legitimately would have had her as a girlfriend in his mind. Young love is the cutest! He's always been our little ladies man! 


 I will be forever grateful for Lindsay and for all of the help she gave our family. She helped me through the toughest time of my life with Hudson and also helped me get rid of a bunch of stuff and with our move, getting everything packed up. She comes to visit us when she comes in town from college and she truly means the world to our family. I love her so dearly.
Everyone needs a Lindsay Mask in their life.

Maintenance

Current Day: November 17, 2016
I'm all out of order on my blog but I wanted to document my current feelings right now. I will have to catch up on everything that's happened up to this point week by week. It's going to take time. SO much has happened. 
Hudson finally reached maintenance (officially two days ago!) We had been counting down the days until maintenance for months! It felt like once we got there, we would get a lot of our "normal lives" back. We made a point to announce it and make it a big celebration. Hudson started kindergarten last week and it was really sad but exciting to see him go because he was beyond excited for it! He couldn't wait to be social again and be at school with Parker and ride the bus home (that part was probably disappointing for him.) He missed half of the day on Monday for his clearance doctor appointment and then missed Tuesday because he got a spinal tap and chemo to start out the day. On Wednesday, we made a huge deal of it being his first day of maintenance! The school had Parker come on the morning news broadcast with all of the kids anchoring the news wearing #hudsonisawesome #strongasSTEELE shirts. Parker congratulated him on 
being cancer free (he's been cancer free but we are celebrating maintenance... the kids got the gist that it was an important day for us anyway.) He hand delivered balloons and some yummy snacks from my friend and one of the sixth grade teachers, Mrs. Klem, who also orchestrated the news thing for Parker to go on and celebrate Hudson's big milestone. His class made him a huge poster that read "Congrats Hudson!" with all of their names on it and they made him cards too. He felt really special.



 I thought to myself "Cool, this is going to be so much better now. I'm going to go to the gym, go grocery shopping with just one kid, do lunch dates with friends again and get my life back!" NOPE. It was so anticlimatic. He has been on steroids since Tuesday (after getting his chemo treatment) and will be on them until Saturday. His side effects definitely kicked in today (day 3) to say the least. As I tried to get him and Parker ready and off to school this morning, our house was crazy town with a bunch of whining, tantrums, no one listening to me which led to me yelling at them and was not a good way to start out the day. When I dropped Parker off at school, I pulled up to the kindergarten drop off and told Hudson to follow all the kids back to the kinder playground. I thought he knew where he was going. I wanted to be safe so I followed him in my van around the corner up towards the front office to make sure he got there safely. I saw him start to cry and run towards me while saying he didn't know where to go. I parked my car and walked him into his classroom. He seemed to be fine by then as I talked to his teacher for a minute, warning her about his possible side effects from the steroids (tired, cranky, hungry, etc.) He then decided he DID NOT want to be at school and didn't want me to go. I tried to console him but he seemed pretty upset. I told his teacher I was going to go and he would probably cry for a minute and would calm down. I stood behind the corner and listened to him cry for me. It broke my heart. I wasn't sure if I should go rescue him or make him stay. It's hard to know what I should let him get away with and when I should just give him his way and be sympathetic towards how he's feeling. I ended up leaving and headed home to grab a couple things and headed straight for the gym. I couldn't wait to get all of my aggression out during kickboxing! I had waited all week for this! FREEDOM is what I was yelling in my mind as I drove to the gym with just Everett in the back seat wearing his spider-man jammies. Right as I pulled into the gym parking lot, I got a call from Jill (the front office lady-- who is awesome) that Hudson was not having it today and I needed to come pick him up. 
Talk about frustrating! I made a U-Turn and drove 12 minutes back to the school. As I drove, I called my mom to find my Dad's comforting voice answer the phone. I complained, vented and cried about how hard life was and how tired I was and how it just sucks sometimes. I felt selfish for being mad that I couldn't go to the gym and wasn't going to be able to go to my good friend, Erin's, birthday lunch/baby shower with Shari and Lexi. I just wanted some time to myself. Was that too much to ask? Steve has been out of town since Tuesday and that's the second time he has gone out of town this month. Life just started to feel so overwhelming and unbearable. I felt like I was going to crash and burn. I felt so defeated, like I lost my identity in a way. Then the tears came streaming down, uncontrollably. My mom told me maybe I should pull over and I told her I was fine.
I got myself together, dried my tears, patted my face, unbuckled Everett (who was still in his pajamas) and walked into the front office to find Hudson sitting with his teachers aid, Ms. Ashley, eating pretzels and no longer crying. I asked him again if he was sure he wanted to leave. He was going to miss seeing the firefighters come talk to his class today. He was dead set on leaving. So I checked him out of school. I knew I needed to get some exercise or I would lose my marbles today. So we went back to the gym and I made it to half of the kickboxing class. Anything is better than nothing. I'll take what I can get. And for me, it was needed for my sanity. 
My dad called me back and said that he cancelled his meetings that day and him and my mom and Brianne were going to come out and watch Everett and Hudson so I could go to my friends lunch thing. I told them they didn't have to do that. I would just bring them but he said "Hey, I'm a dad and a papa before work or church. You come before anyone or anything else." He is such a good dad. I hit the jackpot in the parent department. It made my heart so grateful and happy to be getting a short break. 
They showed up a little later and I was able to shower and get ready without any interruptions which was glorious in and of itself! I went to lunch, had a delicious salmon salad at Rosas and great conversation and a few laughs with my good friends and came home at the same time of my parents. Right when I walked in the door, it was pretty much back to meltdowns and crying. Everett broke Hudsons spaceship lego that he worked so hard to make which resulted in Hudson screaming at the top of his lungs and saying what a dumb baby brother Everett was. I laid Everett down, who was being a complete pill, for a much needed nap. It took Hudson 20 minutes to calm down. I tried to help him rebuild his legos but couldn't figure out exactly how he wanted it which caused him to scream and cry even louder. It was the effects of his steroids that were making him feel so completely out of control of his emotions. He finally calmed down and I had some peace and quiet to write this post. Now Everett is screaming at the top of his lungs already in his bed. I know I will come back and read this post one day when life is easier and be glad that I got through this crazy hard time. But for now-- I'm having a pity party for myself. The sun will come out tomorrow is what I need to be singing right now. 
So far-- maintenance kind of stinks. Steroids are the devil.
The end.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Larsen Love

I am so grateful that I married into such an awesome, loving and supportive family. We all got together for family dinner one Sunday and no one even planned wearing their #hudsonisawesome shirts. It was pretty fun to see everyone wearing them together. I get choked up thinking about how much our families have stepped in and helped us in any way they can whether it was babysitting while we were at the doctor or in the hospital, bringing meals, organizing, helping pack for our move,  and putting away house stuff... really the list goes on. 




 I'm writing these blog posts months after these photos were taken and it is pulling at all of my heart strings to see pictures of Ralph, who suddenly and unexpectedly passed away (at the age of 64) in July. He was truly a rock in our family. A constant source of unconditional love, always offering a helping hand and supportive of all of his children and grandchildren. I still cannot believe that he is really gone. I will share more of my feelings and experiences about his passing in a future post because I need to gain my composure first. One thing we have definitely learned from all of these trials is that every day we have to live on this earth is precious and to never take what you have for granted. It can all be taken in an instant. For Hudson, we are grateful that he was given a chance to live and get past his horrific diagnosis. Ralph wasn't given that chance and I don't know if we will ever understand why it happened when he was so young.  I know that he is still with us on the other side, helping us every step of the way as our guardian angel. But man, we miss him. 

Awesome Selfies!

When you find a million selfies of Hudson when he was on steroids on your phone-- You have to post them. Hey, sometimes-- it just feels good to laugh. Crying gets old. Laughter is the best medicine, right? Man, I love this kid. He has ALWAYS been a little ham!






Saturday, November 5, 2016

Fun at Aunt Merediths

I get choked up when I think of all of our family and friends that stepped in to help after our lives changed forever. Meredith had Hudson and Everett over once a week to come play and get out of the house. It was Hudsons favorite day of the week. They were both so excited to get out of the house and play and see different walls. Meredith is the most fun mom I know. When she does playdates, she has awesome activities for them to do! She let them make a mess and play with (I don't even know what this creation is to be honest! ha ha!) 

 Gunnar has such a tender heart for Hudson. They are only a month apart in age. Gunnar always made him feel special and his prayers for Hudson were so tender. "Please bless Hudson will walk again." Hudson starts walking finally. "Please bless Hudson can run and do 'jacking jumps' (jumping jacks)!" He did whatever he could to help Hudson have a good time and bring a smile to his face.

 Everett loved getting out of the house to play with cousins too! He's my little social butterfly.



I will be forever grateful for all of the play dates and relief Meredith gave me so that I could get things done and run my countless errands (mainly to tile and lighting stores a bajillion times. ha ha!) She has such a big heart!

Ode to "Wobin"

My good friend, Robin, helped me out so much and I will be forever grateful for her. She messaged me daily asking how we were doing, letting me know she was thinking of us or sent me a quote to help and lift my spirits. She had Hudson and Everett come over once a week so that I could go out and get errands and house stuff done. I don't know how we would have built our custom home through everything we had going on with out her. Hudson didn't go many places at all. He looked forward to going to "Wobins" every week. Whenever he had cravings and I didn't have what he was asking for most of the time, he would say "Call Wobin!" He knew that Robin would drop pretty much anything to bring him his latest craving and bring a smile to his face. She would pick up groceries for me on many occasions when I couldn't get to the grocery store too. I love and appreciate her more than words can say. 

Shaved Heads and Chubby Cheeks

We had a lot of long days at home, keeping busy with taking care of Hudson (who was not walking at this point) and dealing with steroid cravings, carrying him to and from the bathroom, his room and the car for doctors appointments and keeping Everett entertained all day while Parker was at school. Looking back, it puts a pit in my stomach. Those were tough times. Glad that part is over.
 I found these selfies on my phone that Hudson took. I could laugh or cry when I look at these. It depends on which emotion I choose to feel. I can't believe how much his look changed with all of the steroids. He's still cute though!



 Cuddles on my bed while watching a movie.

Strong as Steele shirts

My sister's friend, Aimee, is a graphic designer and designed the most perfect shirts for Hudson! I was so overwhelmed and grateful to see all of the people that bought shirts to show support for him!

 Hudson wanted to help out around the house so we had him wear a mask to play it safe. Dr. Williams is such a great doctor and nice guy. We don't really see much of him anymore because he is always at the main hospital now. But we sure love him!


Hudson loved his sign that his friend Nash's sister, Ally, painted him. She has such a tender heart and wrote him a sweet "get well" note to him that totally made his day!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Go Bears!

I get really emotional when I think about Parkers flag football team and how supportive they have been to our family. Hudson was supposed to be on the team with Parker in the spring season but things obviously changed after Leukemia. Before he was diagnosed, he use to come to all of the practices with me and he would watch, play on the playground and ride his scooter or bike around the park. About a week or two before we found out about his cancer, he sat and watched Parker play very intently on the sidelines. Coach Germaine asked him if he wanted to join them doing some drills during practice. Hudson gladly stood up and struggled to run out onto the field. At that time, we didn't know what was wrong but it was obvious that it was a struggle for him to run. He wouldn't complain or say that it hurt. But you could tell by the way he ran so awkwardly that something was wrong. We thought it was just plantar fasciitis or something. I remember coach telling him he should probably sit down and rest when he noticed him struggling. I set him down on a cement block next to the field, but apparently set him down too hard. It literally took his breath away-- almost as if the air had been knocked out of him. It was very apparent that he hurt. Now looking back, it's like "Duh!" Leukemia is in the bones so his body just ached and hurt. I can't even comprehend the pain he was feeling. 
Anyway, Parkers team gave Hudson his own jersey with his name on the back of it. They went with a super hero theme and had all of the boys wear super hero socks to the games to support Hudson, who was our Super Hero and was "Strong as Steele." Hudson loved going to Parkers games in his jersey and watching and feeling like a part of the team, even though he couldn't play. It meant so much to us that they were so thoughtful, kind and encouraging to our family.


 Parker loved game day and his favorite part was running through the tunnel at the end of the game while we all clapped and cheered for all of them. 

Go Bears!

Funniest Kid I know

I wish I could figure out how to upload videos on here because there was the most hilarious video he made for his friend Nolan where he forced himself to toot loud and his laugh was priceless. This kid is the funniest kid I know! I love his chubby cheeks and dimples!