Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kemah Boardwalk

We drove down to the Kemah Boardwalk today. It is a mini-amusement park, a bunch of restaurants, and shops right on the shoreline. Ben was pretty jazzed because he got to meet Sponge Bob right off the bat.
We got there about 10am and it was still very quiet. We decided to go for a speedboat ride. The boat was called the Beast. We got out past the wakeless area and the cool wind from the speed was great. Then they had the crew get in the front of the boat and slowed way down. I was sitting on the edge and got completely soaked. Ben got splashed some sitting on Cari's lap and Cari hid behind Ben. Despite this act of cowardice she was not spared and got pretty wet herself. We wandered around the Boardwalk for around 5 hours today and I never did get completely dry.
Next we found the "yee-hah's". Ben loves carousels. He must have ridden it six or seven times during the day. He really had a blast. Mom and dad took turns standing in the shade while the other rode round and round.

The next ride were the kids planes. They are designed to gho up to about 8 feet and then down to a couple of feet and round and round. You can see how cramped the quarters were for Cari. Well, dad was the first one to ride with Ben. I squished in sideways and off we went. The didn't give us a warning, however, that we were FAR exceeding the weight limit. When the other kids planes went up to 8 feet, Ben and dad's would only go up to about 4 feet. Anyway, the ride attendants, mom, and dad all got a good laugh out of it. Cari decided to rescue Ben and give him a real taste of what the ride was supposed to do.

Next was the ferris wheel. There were no other riders so it was pretty quick on and off. Except for a dough head attendant who slammed Ben's fingers in the gate when he was locking them in all went pretty well.

This is where all of the pilots who can't fly thier planes above the 5 foot mark get sent. . . . .
All in all we had a fun day. The sun was hot enough to rip the hide right off you. I have set an audition to replace Rudolph for next Christmas with my glowing forehead. Cari and Ben either wore hats or were smart enough to stay out of the sun more than I.
On the way home we drove past NASA. We would have been excited to see a rocket standing their or a shuttle or something, but no, only lots of buildings. Maybe another time. It was a really fun day for my last trip to Houston.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Memorial Day

Benjamin has watched a little too much Dora the Explorer. When we got ready to head out for our Memorial Day festivities, Ben had to take along a "back pack".

First we headed out for great burgers. Ben mostly ate a chocolate malt.

After lunch we went to a park with a bunch of animals...chickens, ducks, owls, and bison to name a few. (Okay Ben might have killed a garden gnome before heading to the park but....that's another story!)

The park was HOT so we decided to have a swim in the pool when we got home. Kelly devised this great plan to keep Ben's tubes from getting wet. The "pool in a pool" was a lot of fun. It felt like you were laying on a water bed. The millions of balls turned out to be a colorful and entertaining addition to the pool as well!

These are Ben's tubes. They are supposed to be covered by the plastic bandage attached to his chest but.... you can see them hanging out the bottom of the bandage. We have tried most everything to try to keep him bandaged up.

We had a marvelous Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Just Visiting

It was great to see family after nearly two years away. Elizabeth and Megan were very excited to finally get done with school and to get to "town". Ever since we moved to Alaska the girls have refered to Utah as town. I guess they feel like AK is the boonies. It may have something to do with the fact that half of the street just off ours is still unpaved. Nathan and Sammy were very glad to see their siblings and I don't think Sammy got more than a couple of feet away from me for more than 15 minutes for the whole time we were there.

I arrived here in Houston yesterday. It was GREAT to see Cari and Ben. Though the morning was a lot harder than I thought it would be (leaving the kids) I was excited to see my beautiful bride and baby. Ben has been going non-stop. We went to Jim and Melissa Kellers for dinner and had a great time. Unfortunately, Ben fell asleep on the way home so he was up forever. We went to the Houston Waterfall today and Ben chased pigeons and ran away from Cari and I as often as he could. We enjoyed a leisure lunch with Kelly and Quincy and then have been lounging around Ronnie Mac's this evening.

Cari seems to feel like she needs to entertain. "What do you want to do now? . . . . ." I have been to her a lot like Sammy was to me in Utah -- not more than foot or two away for more than a minute. I think she must feel like she has a giant freakish growth attached to her hand all the time. Anyway, I am having fun just being close for a few days.

It feels really redundant to say, but I cannot thank everyone enough for all of the support and love we have felt. We are especially grateful to Grandma and Grandpa Allred for taking on four very active children. We were teasing Grandma today wondering what she was thinking. There is no way we would be able to do what we have been able to, nor what we will need to without all of their help.

We love you all!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Accident Prone?

It's not going to be the cancer that gets Ben.....He has fallen and banged his head up so many times recently! I don't know if he's unsteady because of the radiation, if he can't see because he is totally farsighted, or if he is just a regular active little toddler. His knees and elbows are covered with scrapes. His shins are covered with bruises. I am pretty sure its all just normal...but with as many bumps and bruises as he has you begin to feel like a bad parent. Last weekend he tried on our cousins shoes. They were way too big and he fell hitting his cheekbone on the edge of the window sill. Huge bruise of course. Then on Wednesday we stopped at a little park to play for a minute and he fell through some metal bars. He hit the back of his head on a bar and some how managed to make an inch long gash along a huge bump where he hit. I used tape to close the gapping wound and then the nurse dressed it for me at radiation therapy the next day. On the way home from therapy he decided to climb out of the stroller as I was jogging across the street. Horns started honking and then I heard a thud thud as I ran over Benjamin with the stroller. He, of course, landed on the back of his head rebruising the bump on the back and adding scratches around the newly bandaged wound. The next night he walked of a curb.....and last night he tripped and hit the front of his head on the end of a slide. Can we say accident prone! Like I said, it won't be the cancer that gets little Ben! Despite it all, he seems to be VERY happy especially when he is hanging out at cousin Kellys house!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chuga chuga choo choo

From the minute we pull away from the Ronald McDonald house you can feel the stress melt away! It's so nice to be on vacation with cousin Kelly again! This weekend was as fun as the last. We ate well and played hard! Here is a picture of Ben and his cousins waiting to ride on a mini train.
Mommy sat right behind Ben to make sure he didn't fall off...or just climb off mid ride! You never know with Ben. His love for escaping continued this week as he learned he can open a car door while driving down the road!

Look close... he's about to jump! (Both feet are on this side of the track.)

See you later choo choo! We're off to the store to buy chocolate for the chocolate fountain party tonight!

Friday, May 15, 2009


Ben loved playing at the beach in Galveston!
(Almost as much as his mommy....)

Keeping him out of the water was a bit difficult.

Fortunately there was plenty of sand!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Way too short

We had a great visit with Cari and Ben in Houston over the Mother's Day weekend. Megan, Lizzy, and I are sitting in the George Bush Int'l airport waiting for our flights to Salt Lake and then on through to Anchorage. Wish us luck, our flight is 30 minutes late here departing and we have 10 minutes in SLC to get from the B to the D gates. Not much of a chance but we'll see . . .Worst case Delta is paying for hotels and meals in SLC if we miss our connection because the delay is due to mechanical difficulties.

It was really interesting to see the Proton Therapy machine. First, Cari walked over to the bed with Ben and they injected him with a sedative, about one second later -- flop, he is out like a light. They put the mask on him that holds his head in place and he looks like some little psycho hockey goalie laying there. They showed us the 12X12X2 inch solid brass plates that they use to direct the proton beams and the same size plastic looking plates that focus the depth of the beam. Pretty cool stuff.

On Friday we arrive late because of delays and did not get to see Cari and Ben until around 330pm. We picked them up and headed for Jim and Melissa Kellers house. The Kellers are some AMAZING neigbors from when we lived in Clinton, UT. After we hooked up with them we headed to the beach at Galveston. The wind looked like it was howling so we were worried it might be cold. When we stepped out of the car we remembered where we were. The wind, though blowing, was very warm. The water too. We hunted for seashells, jumped waves, built sand castles and played for hours. That night we had crawfish for dinner. My first time having crawfish. They were pretty good. We ate a ton.

Saturday, we spent a great day with the Kinneys at their pool. We swam, ate, swam, ate, you get the picture. Though we sunblocked pretty good we all ended up getting pretty fried. The girls were pretty miserable with sunburn that night.

Sunday, we double dipped and went to Church with Kinneys and then ate lunch. Then we headed to Kellers for dinner. It was great fun to hang out and relax both places.

Today, Monday, went way to fast. We went to Ben's treatment as I noted above and then pretty much ate lunch and headed for the airport.

Well, they are going to board soon. Hopefully we will make our connection in Salt Lake. We are already missing Cari and Ben more than I can describe. This was a good visit, but, again, being apart may be one of the biggest challenges of this whole adventure. We love you Cari and Ben!!

See you in a couple of weeks!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It has begun...

Today was the first day of Ben's radiation treatment. Something wasn't quite ready so he wasn't able to go in until noon. That meant he was very hungry because he hadn't eaten since dinner the night before! When we arrive each day we check in at the front desk before going downstairs to the recovery room. His nurse meets us there to take his vital signs. After that we are taken to the radiation room. The machine looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. I sit on the bench holding him and they hook up an iv to his hickman catheter. The nurses and radiology doctors sing to him as the white milky fluid enters his bloodstream. It doesn't seem to take long, seconds really before he falls asleep. Then they take him from my arms and I leave the room. The next time I see him is in the recovery room where I wait for him to wake up. He was HUNGRY today. He ate a fig newton and then drank a bottle of Boost as we walked back to the Ronald McDonald House. His personality seemed fine. He wanted to play but wanted me to carry him while he played. I'm not sure if he was tired from sedation or radiation or if he had a headache... by evening he was running around on his own again though. I think we'll be okay, but I'm still a little bit anxious. We won't know the long term effects (loss of IQ, behavioral problems, etc...) for a long time. AND....did I mention how badly I miss my other babies!!!!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Here I Am

Benjamin Allred Room 50
1907 Holcombe Boulevard
Houston TX 77030

Swine Flu

I was a bit nervous to fly into an area thatf was starting to have problems with the swine flu. Ben is considered immunocompromised because of his treatment. I tried to have him wear his mask but he is one after all and he resisted me. He also spent time making snow angels on the airport floor. Embarrassing, gross, and what can I say besides he's one! Fortunately we got seated in first class and had a little bit more space between us and all of the germs on the plane. Now we are here at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston and we are seeing precautions start being put in place. We are no longer allowed to have visitors in the house. They have cancelled the dinner groups. Families from Mexico are not being accepted in the house and some have even been asked to leave. Several of the local highschools have closed. I am not sure how bad the problem really is here... We will just do our best to stay out of harms way I guess.

As far as treatment goes, Ben has met both his radiation doctor and his oncology pediatrician here. They both seem like good doctors and I feel comfortable working with them. Ben had his 'simulation' run yesterday morning. They sedated him and then....well I'm not really sure what all they did because I was in the waiting room but basically they fitted him for molds that will hold him in the exact same way every day and did a dry run. Next Wednesday he is scheduled to start for real. He will go in every morning at 10:30 until mid June with only Saturday and Sunday off. We are excited to get started and hope that there is as little damage to his brain as possible. But then...that's why we travel all this way for proton therapy isn't it!