In April, 2010, when Andrew was 2 1/2, a tumor was discovered behind his eye. The tumor was removed, but it was found to be an aggressive cancer. He endured seven months of chemo and six weeks radiation. In December of 2010, the day after his last treatment, he was rushed to the ER with an almost fatal bacterial infection. He survived.

He is now seven-years-old!! I don't visit here much, because during the ordeal, this is where I dumped everything--my rage, my fear, my sadness, my ugly, my hope, my everything. But I want all of you who supported and prayed for us to hear his updates. You helped me survive, and I am deeply thankful. Every once in awhile, I will check in to let you know how he's doing. Please continue to pray that cancer will never return to his body. Thank you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Road Trip! and comfy friends

Do you have friends who make you feel like you are wearing your most comfortable clothes?  When you are with them, the world is suddenly more soothing, more free, and more relaxing?  There is no need to impress them.  There is no worrying about wearing the "wrong thing," or saying the "wrong thing," or doing the "wrong thing."  It feels comfortable to just be

This morning, after seven days of constant activity, our friends (who fit that description) said goodbye and flew home to Michigan.  It had been three years since our last visit with them, and now they are gone again.  They live too far away.

But, while they were here, we crammed in as much as we could.

Starting with a road trip to California.

Six hours, five boys, four adults, three DSis, two Leapsters, and one 12-passenger van.  About half-way there, one of the DSis ran out of juice. From that point on, a persistent, bored little voice kept repeating the question.  Yes.  That one.  Are we there yet?  Are we there....yet?  Kids are so predictable ;).

Halfway "there," we pulled off the freeway to get gas and eat lunch.  On our way to Subway, we passed the General Patton Museum and Mineral Road Show (a dirty, dusty affair with tents and temporary fences).  The boys were so tired of driving, they were ready to call it "Disneyland" and unload the suitcases.  We took a few pictures and convinced the boys that it would be worth the drive if they got back in the car.

We continued on, and braved the Los Angeles traffic (that we do not miss),

and finally made it to the hotel!

(A view of the lobby from our hotel room on the 12th floor)

Wednesday morning, we woke up early and spent the entire day at Disneyland.

Beautiful weather, short lines, lots of sugar, and all the rides we could handle. Andrew got a Mickey hat for his collection :). He braved every ride the park allowed him to board. (However, we can no longer use the words "Haunted Mansion" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" without being labeled "mean." Apparently the words conjure up scary memories.) 

The longest line of the day was for Storybook land...

The next day we piled back into the van and headed south to Carlsbad, California for Legoland.  In the parking lot I realized that I left my charger and my camera battery in the hotel room, an hour away.  So bummed!  At least I had my cell phone camera...  In case you have never been, the cities and cars below (not the rides), were all made of Legos!  Our Lego-crazy boys were in heaven.

Friday morning, we drove home.  Halfway between El Centro, California and Yuma, Arizona, my husband realized that we were on empty.  He claims that the gas gauge was "hidden from his view" until a warning light came on.  Then, in silence, he watched the available miles count down as he scoped the deserted landscape for gas.  None.  Nowhere.  Finally, the gas gauge said 8 miles left.

John parked the car on a deserted freeway off-ramp, and we got out.  We saw trailer homes, border patrol, and a few random buildings here and there, but no gas stations. In the way of fluids, we had the melted remnants of a three-day-old thirst buster. I checked my cell phone GPS. It said 20 miles to the closest station, regardless of direction. If the gas gauge was correct, that was 12 miles too far.

While the boys excitedly pretended they were exploring the landscape of Tatooine (planet in Star Wars), the parents pictured themselves huffing and puffing down the freeway pushing a 12-passenger van.

John waved down a trucker who convinced him that about 10 miles down the road we would find a gas station.  We decided it was our only hope. 

We made it.  I have never been more happy to see a gas station in my life.  All of us, children included, let out a loud cheer.  Do you see the panicked look in Andrew's eyes, gulping down that gatorade? Our friend's traumatized nine-year-old spent the rest of the trip asking, "Do you have enough gas?  Have you checked the gas gauge?"  Our poor children.

Several hours later, we were back home.

The remaining days were spent swimming in our 60 degree pool (the boys, not me), hiking local mountains, and loading toppings onto frozen yogurts.

John told stories while the boys took baths:

The evenings were spent playing games, mostly Spades.  The women beat the ultra-competitive men almost every time. It was awesome.

But all good things must come to an end, right?  Sadly so. 

Our comfortable, family-like friends left us this morning at 10 am. The boys spent the drive to the airport imagining ways to move Michigan closer to Arizona.  Even the adults participated in the brain-storming. 

We don't want to let three years slip by again!


  1. That's a really good story, Julie. :D Lots of fun, some excitement and bit of thrilling terror. ;) Glad you had a good time. Nothing like old friends....

  2. Thanks for the great story and lovely pics...

    And no, hopefully it never slips away again!


  3. oh my gosh that looks like so so so so much fun! Except for the no gas part. That looks like disaster waiting to happen, but it added a a sense of danger to this post. Loved it!

  4. What a great post. Great story, lovely collages, cute cute CUTE pictures!!!

    Oh and I've often tried to think of ways to make Michigan closer to Arizona, too. :( ... My nephew in Tucson just started walking and I miss him so much.

  5. Sounds like a wonderful time...all of it! :)

  6. i loved living your road trip through your photos! so much fun and great story-telling! also, comfy friends are the best. :)

  7. (wow! interesting spam comment above!!) :)

    Aside from the gas terror, it all sounds so wonderful!! Those kinds of friends are the best. It's so nice that you've got the next generation headed towards the same kind of long-distance lifelong friendship!

  8. i LOVE that picture of all the boys in the bathtub! sounds like a really wonderful trip with great friends.

  9. I love that you had such a great time with such great friends (oh and I love Andrew's MM ears!).

    Glad you made it to the gas station after all... What excitement.

  10. What a wonderful road trip! And to do it all with friends and be happy to be doing it is great.

    Your pics of legoland make me want to go there. I keep trying, but it never works out. :(

    Kind of love your gas station pictures. So glad you made it!!

  11. What a grand adventure, gas station scavenger hunts and all! I love the Mickey Mouse ears on Andrew, and that bathtub shot reminds me of the Shel Silverstein poem about too many kids in the tub, too many elbows to scrub. It's one of our favorites!

  12. Soooo fun! (Minus the gas misadventure). I am such a disorganized mess I ALWAYS let my gas run out until I'm riding on fumes to the nearest station - ugh! Your pics got me in the mood! We're headed to Disney World next week! XO


Your thoughts...