Thursday, July 28, 2011

Party Pictures, Round 2

The welcoming signs were hung around the park to point people in the right direction.

The kids helped with some of the decorating. Finn was lifted up high by Grandpa Dayton to make sure things looked just right.

Julia jumped to measure the height of the purple fringys.

Once the decorations were up, an assortment of memorabilia documenting Julia's cancer journey were placed around as well. Julia acquired a long string of Beads of Courage, each one symbolizing an event or hardship that she met along the way.

A table full of pictures and other things to remember her journey was also displayed.

And of course the legendary 23 feet long timeline explaining everything that happened October through July was up for everyone to see.

Amanda and I had known for several months, but at the party we finally broke the news to the kids. Julia had been granted one of her wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This October the four of us will be spending a week in Florida visiting Disney World and some other fun places! We're all super excited! Finn has never flown so he's extra excited about that.
On another Disney note - After the Make-A-Wish process was well underway but before we knew all the details, a friend of ours had quietly gathered donations from people and presented us a gift of Disney gift certificates. We were very touched by the gift and plan to use them at a future date to reinforce the current memories and make new memories as a family.

Another wish Julia had had was to get a giant rainbow cookie that was as big as our house (and with no frosting). We all had a good chuckle at that one and told Julia that it just wasn't really conceivable to make a cookie that large. And while that is true, Julia's Grandma Colleen and Grandpa Dayton arrived at the party with...a giant, frosting-free rainbow cookie! It wasn't nearly as big as a house, but we were all surprised and it was hilarious to see Julia's reaction.

It was great seeing Julia so happy and just as awesome to see how happy everyone else was too. The two shots below are with grandparents and the two after those are great-grandparents.

A photographer friend of ours took all the pictures in this blog post. While she was taking the below picture, I accused her of condoning the monkey-like behavior of climbing on picnic tables. But I guess if it turns out cute, all is forgiven.

It was fun looking at all of the pictures afterward because I didn't realize some of the great posed shots that had been taken.

The nonposed are great too. In this one I see: reflecting, absorbing, and content happiness.

And finally, the photographer, Tania, and Julia.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Party Pictures, Round 1

We had a great time and Julia proclaimed it, "The best day of my life!" I'm going to keep my commentary brief for now but will add more later along with more pictures as we gather them from other people.

Since all three of Julia's great grandparents were able to make it, I made sure to get a photo of the entire group.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Julia's Cancer-Free Jubilee

Thank you for supporting and cheering for Julia - now help us celebrate the great news!

When: Saturday, July 23, 2011; 10 a.m. -  4 p.m
Where: Glen Park – enclosed shelter Glen Park map

We're doing our best to get this information out to different groups of people. Besides the blog, we're using Facebook, email, word of mouth, and a little snail mail. We're keeping the definitive info here on the blog, so please point people here if they are interested and need more details.

We knew we would miss too many people if we tried to send invites, so we decided that anyone who wants to stop by and give a hello or a hug is welcome. We'll have some food and drinks and smiles. Glen park offers some of it's own amenities that are open to the public: three playgrounds, soccer fields, hiking trails, and the pool.
Glen Park Pool info: open swim 12:30-4:45 p.m; $2.50 Daily Pass per person.

Ms. Jennifer from Let's Dance will be at the jubilee from 1:00-2:00 doing activities like face painting and dancing. Ms. Jennifer has been Julia and Finn's dance teacher for several years.

At the celebration, there will be scrapbook pages for guests to write messages to Julia. The theme is "How Julia inspires me." We’re letting you know in advance, in case you want to start thinking about what you would like to include in the book for Julia. This keepsake will be something she will be able to look at as she gets older, to remember how all of her hard work this past year has made a difference in the lives of others. Julia truly has been an inspiration to many.

Please, no gifts! If you wish to make a donation in honor of Julia, or another loved one, please consider supporting one of the organizations that has been helpful to our family:

Minnesota Children’s Hospitals & Clinics
Make-A-Wish Foundation

We hope to see you on July 23rd!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July 6th, 2011: Cancer Free

The final scans looked perfect!

Julia had a CT scan first. That took the longest and she needed her port accessed in order to shoot some contrast through her blood. Next up was an EKG and an echocardiogram (aka heart ultrasound) which were pretty simple and painless procedures.

Finn ignored the procedure and watched TV instead.

After we got the scan results, the clinic folks brought in a balloon and trophy for Julia and even a medal for Finn. Then they sang "Happy day" (It's like Happy Birthday but without the "birth") and we all cheered.

We snapped a picture of Julia with her oncologist, Dr. Chu, cancer killer extraordinaire.

You would think we could relax a bit with that news. While we obviously breathed a helluva sigh of relief, we've got a bit more to do. Next week Monday Julia goes to get blood counts one last time and a long physical therapy appointment follow-up to see what her ongoing PT future will look like. Assuming blood counts are fine, on Wednesday she'll have surgery to remove the chest port and replace the g-tube in her stomach with a the smaller, simpler "button". The button will still allow us access to her stomach (we still have a few meds...) but without the tube hanging around and a very noninvasive removal when the time comes.

We've been tentatively planning a party and so now we're going to have to go all out to get it planned. There will be a forthcoming blog update with all the details (hopefully tomorrow), but this is what we know so far:
Saturday, July 23rd at Glen Park in River Falls, WI from mid-morning until late afternoon.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Evening Pictures

On Wednesday, Julia has her scans. We'll undoubtedly update the blog that day or Thursday.