Friday, January 27, 2017

Long overdue update:

***We meant to publish this post last week, but since then a lot has transpired with Andrew...  Here is the most recent update:

Andrew had an ultrasound yesterday in an attempt to find the cause for tummy pain he has had for months now. The radiologist said in his report that he suspected metastatic disease, likely neuroblastoma. We were sent to the ER for further testing. Praise the Lord the CT scan looked very different than what the dr's were expecting. It didn't show more problem areas, but did reveal multiple lesions in his liver and enlarged lymph nodes in his belly. He is scheduled for a biopsy today (it was suppose to be at 2:00, but probably won't happen until closer to 5:00pm). The biopsy should take 1-2 hours and it should take 24-48 hours to get preliminary results. Will you please cover my sweet boy in prayer, as well as the rest of our family? We are clinging to God's promises!

UPDATE: Interventional Radiologist said they got 5 good chunks during the biopsy and that the pathologist was really surprised about what they saw because it's not common in kids. He said the oncologist will follow up with us today (Friday).  We saw the Oncologist this morning, but he didn't have anything back yet from pathology, so he was going to page them to try to get an idea of what they saw if at all possible. In the mean time...  I'm practicing giving my fears to the Lord second by second. Grateful that we serve a big God that can handle my big fears! We will post more as we have more information.  Will you please continue to cover our sweet boy and the rest of us in prayer?  Just Andrew being in the hospital for the past 3 days has been devastating for Abigail (and Andrew). They are the best of friends, so it is so painful for them to be apart, all they want to do is be together and it's gut wrenching when that isn't possible or their time together isn't long enough because Abigail has to go to school, etc.  

We realize it has been over a month since we last posted, but life has been a little hectic in the Ross house, as I am sure your lives have all been busy as well.  In fact, Kristi remains overly busy, so I (David) am filling in to write this blog post; therefore, it will not be very fluffy and probably just be a synopsis of the past month with some pictures.

Abigail's Last Month:

-During the Winter break, Abigail is playing on an indoor soccer team.  She has enjoyed the fun of playing indoors and the new feature of using the walls to get around other players.

-Abigail's joy of Christmas was realizing she had raised the $1,000 she was aiming for to donate to GiGi's Playhouse Sugar Land.  Abigail was thrilled on Christmas morning when she opened the present which contained the donor balloon that will go on the wall at GiGi's Playhouse (she had no idea the balloon had already been made).  On behalf of Abigail, we just want to thank everyone who generously donated to her.  Abigail faithfully completed running the 40 miles she had committed to run before Christmas, by squeezing 7 miles in on Christmas Eve with Kristi.  In addition to all of your generous donations, Abigail was also selling stuff on our community website in order to reach her overall goal.  Thank you all again for your support!!

-During the first week of the New Year, Abigail had won the spelling bee in her classroom, so she was able to compete in the school wide spelling bee with the 3rd-5th graders who had also won in their classroom.  She got out in the fourth round, but was happy just to have made it that far.

Andrew's Last Month:

-During the second weekend in December, Andrew finally got to attend his first Cubs Scout campout.  He had a great time playing around with all the other boys and exploring in the woods, and it was good bonding time for Andrew and I as well.

-Andrew (and Abigail) are enjoying basketball through Upward again this Winter.  He is not nearly into team sports like Abigail is, but he works hard and puts forth a lot of effort.  He enjoys that he is on the team with a friend and that they get to play together after practice, while Abigail has practice.

-Andrew had his second swim meet with the year round swim team he has been on, in which he had to do his first 50-meter swim and had to actually do a flip turn.  He was both excited and nervous to have to try this in a swim meet, but he did great at it and swam great.  He improved his time on some of the strokes and had fun in the process.

-Lastly, we have been so proud of Andrew for the decisions he has been making at school.  Since having Grace as his little sister since he was almost four years old, he has constantly been aware and taught that there might be times when people aren't nice to Grace or treat her differently because she looks a little different and because there are times when she might act a little different.  Andrew and Abigail have never liked that fact and reality; it brought them to tears when we first began preparing them for that possibility.  Throughout these discussions, we have constantly reminded them of the importance of their life now and how they can be a voice for and friend to those who are seen as less than in the world's eyes, whether it is Grace or anyone else.  We point out that throughout the Bible, God consistently provides examples of how He cares for and protects those who are weak and seen as less than by others.  Andrew has taken this lesson to heart throughout his life, especially at school.  In particular, this year he has been intentional about sticking up for a boy who consistently gets picked on and made fun of, even when it has caused Andrew to be made fun of and bullied as well.  We are thankful that Andrew is able to come home and share his frustrations about the situation, enough to where it causes him to cry sometimes, but at the same time he is confident in himself and knows he is doing the right thing and is not fearful of doing the same thing again, even if it further causes him alienation for choosing to do so.  We praise God for Andrew and his heart, for caring more about doing what is right, than about his social status in school.  The reason I share all of this is because, as birth order would have it, Andrew is sandwiched between Abigail (a fiercely driven child) and Grace (who is Grace), so we don't ever want to miss the opportunity to share our favorite thing about Andrew, his character and heart towards others.

Grace's Last Month:

-Grace started taking tap/ballet this month and completely loves every minute of it.  She knows when she wakes up on Tuesday mornings that she has tap after school and her excitement is hysterical.  She will definitely tell you that she enjoys tap over ballet, but she definitely enjoys doing both.

-Grace got herself a new haircut a couple weeks ago.  It took some serious convincing on Kristi's part since Andrew and Abigail were very much against it at first.  This is the shortest it has been cut and it was fun to try something new.  Not to mention Grace loves having short hair like her mommy.

The Family's Last Month:

-We had a great Christmas and the day after Christmas we got in the 'Burb and drove to Knoxville, TN to visit our friends who had moved there from Sugar Land a year and a half ago.  The kids did great on the car drive, so much so that on the way home we decided to just drive straight through for all 14 hours.  We had a great time catching up with our friends and seeing the kids pick up where they left off in playing with each other.  We ventured to Dollywood again and the kids enjoyed the rollercoasters (especially the ones they weren't tall enough to ride last year) and Grace enjoyed all the rides she was able to go on.  Our friends had an Echo Dot, which the kids thought was awesome, and Grace kept trying to tell Alexa to play Jingle Bells (Alexa didn't understand Grace, so the other kids would help her out and repeat it).  The day after we got home, Grace woke up at her usual 6:00ish and we could here on the monitor Grace yelling, "Alexa, play jingle bells" to which Grace would proceed to sing Jingle Bells herself.  That being said, we now have an Echo Dot sitting on our kitchen counter.

The kids did great for the 14 hour drive!

These two have such an amazing friendship!  Love getting to see them together!

The Glass and Ross crew!

-Another highlight of the past month is that we rescued a sweet Labrador Retriever Mix (possibly with German Shepherd) and she has been an awesome addition to the family.  She is a sweet dog who loves being with all of us (but especially me:) and just seems happy to have a home.  Someone who works at a local oil services company (Emerson) said she had been sleeping outside of their business everyday and people had been bringing her food and water, but when the temperatures had been really low (for Houston that is) someone finally decided to take her home, so that she wouldn't have to be outside in the freezing cold.  That family, however, already had two dogs themselves, one of which was still a puppy, so they couldn't keep her and didn't want to take her to the animal shelter, so they posted a picture of her and information about her online and somehow Kristi came across the information.  We went to visit this nice family and meet Emme (she had been called that by the people who originally brought her home, since she had been sitting outside of Emerson).  We love Emme and are so happy to have her in the family.  The kids love to snuggle her, she runs around with them outside, she goes on runs with me or Kristi, she is very loyal and overjoyed when we are home, she is extremely obedient and far enough out of the puppy stage to not be too rambunctious, and Kristi has discovered that running with a big dog when it is dark outside or at times when she is home alone brings great comfort.  I will admit, we are learning the nuances of having a big dog that we were completely ignorant of from only having small dogs prior to Emme: i.e. big dogs can reach things on the table and counter, so when you leave the room or the house for the day, anything that might be edible or drinkable is fair game for her (not fun when it is a syrup bottle); she likes her stuffed animals, however, she struggles with differentiating between her stuffed animals and the kids' stuffed animals; she is around two or so, so she is rather playful, but when your other dog is a chihuahua, play time is no bueno; we have an automatic trashcan that opens up by waving your hand in front of it, but when your dog's nose is the same height as the kitchen trash can and she discovers that all she has to do is wave her head across the trash can and all the goodies she can dream of are right in front of her face, then you might come home to trash everywhere (thank goodness we are able to turn off the sensor); and lastly, just because the chihuahua is allowed to snuggle in your lap, doesn't mean it is equally as enjoyable when the lab tries to do the same thing.

Twinkie and Emme!

Emme loves to sleep with Andrew.  He sure loves it too!

Emme and Grace helping with the laundry!

Last thing, I promise, Kristi and I ran the Houston half marathon last weekend.  Or, at least, I ran the half marathon and Kristi and her friend, Jill, ran the half marathon and then had me drop them off at mile 21 of the full marathon, so they could help encourage and run their friends to the finish line who were running the full marathon.  They ran one group in and then turned around to go back and find another friend to help run her in as well.  So, in total they ran 21.5 miles and felt great afterwards, which is why Kristi is going to run her first marathon next weekend in Sugar Land, along with her friend Jill (Lord willing of course).  I will not be signing up for any of that craziness.  I was sore for two days after the race and I only ran 13 miles.  I guess that's what I get for not training at all.  I kept trying to convince myself that playing soccer once a week was good enough, alas, I was wrong.

Happy 2017 everyone!