Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010 5:21 PM, EST

Today we celebrated CLEAR SCANS!!! by going sledding this afternoon. Here is a brief history of our past winters:
2007: Ally was a newborn, we stayed inside
2008: Ally was just diagnosed, we stayed in the hospital
2009: There was one major snow before her surgery in NYC, we took her to the park and she HATED it! She refused to ride in the sled (even on flat ground) and did not really care for the snow. Then, for the rest of the winter she was recovering from her surgery.
2010: (Today): We found a gentle slope and expected Ally to need to ride with one of us. The first ride she went down with Mommy. Then, she wanted to go by herself, and she wanted us to push her to go faster and faster! She even crashed once, and face planted in the snow. When Daddy caught up to her she was laughing hysterically. She had so much fun, and is looking forward to sledding again....we are headed to Uncle Larry's house tomorrow, and he has a pretty good hill!

It is so wonderful to see Ally taking risks (she even talked to my friends this morning, something she normally won't do). 2011 is going to be a great year for Ally!!!

Love this!

And may you have a happy google, too!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010 8:41 AM, EST

Clear Scans!!!!!!

The MIBG and CT showed no tumor. We should hear about the bone marrow next week.

A couple of things to note: one of Ally’s kidneys has always been larger than the other, and it seems to be doing more and more of the work, while the little one is doing less and less. Also, a vein in her abdomen seems to be enlarged. They are confident it does not indicate cancer, however they are looking into it, but did not seem that concerned.


(Ally gets another HAMA draw on Thursday, January 6.)

Mercury Retrogade ENDS

at 2:21 am EST (Dec 30)


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 5:13 PM, EST

Everything went well today. Ally even got to choose a gift from under the tree in the playroom. Tomorrow her scans are scheduled to begin around 2:30. Please pray that Ally and I are both patient with the no eating thing all day. Also, we need lots and lots of prayers for clear scans. Hopefully we will know something tomorrow, but we don't always get results right away.

Also, thank you so much for praying for our friend. She delivered even sooner than expected. The baby is here. It is 4.4 pounds, but the text said: "Tiny...but healthy". Please keep them in mind as tiny babies need even more care.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 10:08 AM, EST

We are good to go!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010 10:55 AM, EST

We have already been out to shovel. Ally had a blast shoveling the snow back onto the walkway.

Tomorrow we are supposed to go to DHMC [the most local medical center] for a port access and an MIBG injection. I just got a call from the MIBG department (nuclear medicine) saying they do not have the dose right now, and with the storm they may not get it in time......

I will have to call them around 10:00 tomorrow to check and see if the plane was able to arrive, and then the truck was able to drive there....the odds seem very low that we will be able to do this tomorrow.

I do not know what this will mean for the rest of the scans (CT and Bone Marrow). I guess I will find that out tomorrow as well. This just adds more stress on top of the already stressful situation of scans.

Please pray that the weather will lift in time for the delivery. Also, we have a friend who is having a baby soon, and things are not going 100% perfect with the pregnancy. She will be induced next week sometime. Please send prayers her way for a happy outcome and a healthy baby.

I'll be sure to update about what is going on with the injection tomorrow.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Kwanzaa!

I know I can't afford her (I don't think), but isn't she lovely?

Whatta 'bout them EyeTalians, eh?

We have had a magical Christmas so far.

Ally has been so excited for the whole week. We were worried she would not be able to sleep last night. Nope...she was such a good girl, she fell right asleep. We actually had to wake her up this morning too! Ally was very excited to see that Santa had eaten his cookies and drank his milk. She opened her presents and then would play with each of them for a little bit, before moving on to the next. Toward the end she was just ripping through them, tossing the paper to the side. It was fun to watch. She was very excited for all of her presents, excepts the clothes, which she tossed to the was reminiscent of "A Christmas Story". She has had tons of fun playing with all her new toys and hanging out with all the Aunties, Uncles and Grand Parents.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Christmas Morning Looking at Storm Mountain

Oh rest, Sweet Buddha,

along the top of the mountain

as if peace were possible

and we might dream

of stars and translucent skies

that life was forever a grace

beautiful and full

and love was never lost.

By Pat in Colorado on Dec 25, 2010


Christmas Morning Pome

as we are with the earth
and part of her dirt
so as she turns
to light, steering into
spring and fecundity
we celebrate

as if she loved us
each, one to one
we love our own
parents, children
children, each other
and everyone, those
who have been let into
our hearts

and in joy and in relief
praise the coming of one more year
with love, and feasts
and gifts of love

how entirely human
and glad to be
we are in this dark
waiting, expecting and perceiving
new light

we fix bits of light
to green and growing things
fashion fruits and birds
and lay nuts and seeds and berries
among the branches
and sit, in the flickering dark
with our love

love of ourselves
and all others
for this sweet and
hopeful second of the year

blessed blessed blessed

Christmas Morning

Merry Christmas

to all I love and to all who are in need of love this day!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tomorrow will be 0m 12s longer.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 12:58 PM, EST

Ally is HAMA positive. I am still waiting to hear back from the NY hospital as to our next step. We will either wait 3 weeks and draw HAMA again, or go the Rituximab route again. I bet I will have to call them back tomorrow.....

Anyway, that means we do not need to get on a train first thing in the morning on the day after Christmas, and we will do all of Ally's scans at the medical center an hour away, next week. Please pray for clear scans, that would be a wonderful Christmas present!

The return begins. . . .

Tomorrow will be 0m 5s longer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WINTER SOLSTICE December 21, 6:38 P.M. EST

Tomorrow will be 0m 0s shorter.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

..........._|.The Polar ..|.|.|___|"""""""|
............( + ).....( + ).....( + )( + )( + )( + )..\


Sunday, December 19, 2010 7:21 PM, EST

What a magical evening! The Polar Express was fantastic! Ally had so much fun. But let me backtrack.....
Our day began with a quick visit from Grammy and Grampa on their way to Vermont. Today was the family party in Vermont. We were sad to miss it, but the North Pole was calling.
Just after Grammy and Grampa left we got a visit from our neighbor, and then the Christmas Bunny showed up! (Pictures to come later in the week.) Ally was very surprised with the Christmas Bunny, and has lots of theories about her.....
A bit after lunch we headed up to Lincoln and checked into our hotel. Ally explored the room a bit and then was asked to lay down for her nap. After 30 minutes of tossing and turning she confessed that she was just too excited to nap.....oh no! Well....we decided to use our dinner voucher for late lunch/early dinner. It was yummy. After we ate we headed to the Hobo Railroad, for our Polar Express trip!
The trip began with a delicious cup of hot cocoa, followed by a chocolate with a center as white as snow. We arrived at the North Pole and an elf jumped on the train looking for Ally and the other Make-A-Wish child. We got our very own Elf Escort. Ally was so excited she even held the Elf's (whose name was Twinkle Toes) hand. We walked up the path to the theater at the North Pole. There, we met the boy from the story, who is now an old man. He read his story to us, and then Santa came!!!! He made his way around the room, and when he got to Ally he picked her up and said, "Another angel for the tree!" (Ally was not expecting to be picked up, and her whole body went rigid with the surprise of it all.) After Santa was done greeting everyone he chose one boy to give the first gift of Christmas to. The boy chose a bell from Santa's sleigh (just like in the book!). He even asked if ALL the boys and girls could have a bell. When we got back on the train everyone got bells and sang Christmas songs on the way back to the train station. We even had enough time to meet the other Make-A-Wish family (who are also from Concord!). They are super nice and we are going to try to meet up soon, as their kiddos are around Ally's age as well.
Ally had so much fun! The Make-A-Wish organization has been great to us! When we arrived at the hotel there was a bag with some goodies for us, plus they paid for our dinner and trip. We are so glad that Ally was able to participate this year. She is going to be talking about this for a long time.

(P.S. Pictures are not allowed at the North Pole, but we do have some from the train ride...coming later.)

We get HAMA results on Wednesday. If she is negative we head to NYC right after Christmas and stay for 2 weeks: 1 for 3f8 and 1 for scans. If she is negative we have scans planned for DHMC between Christmas and New Years. Scans are ALWAYS nerve-wracking...please pray for clear ones!

Grandfather Frost

I've been *making* Solstice Gift Givers for well over twenty years. In fact, I began making them to *avoid* having to buy them. I've been around dozens of other makers, and seen work I deeply admired. Until this morning, I have never bought one. . . .

His name is Ded Moroz, and he's Ukrainian.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010 10:08 AM, EST

Ally has a yucky cough. We were given permission to use a cough syrup to help her sleep (even though she won't be 4 until the end of January). It helped last night, but she has a very hard time falling asleep. She has taken the last two days off from school. Today she is going to school. Please keep her in your thoughts, so that she will have enough energy for the Polar Express on Sunday. She is soooooo excited to visit the North Pole. Make-A-Wish is even putting us up in a hotel for the night and giving us dinner. We are hoping the snow blows out to sea and we can have a magical evening! I will be sure to take lots of pictures and update about our adventure.

To go with my new old tub, is my new old tree, which is a copy of an even older tree. . . .

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Solstice is coming!

Solstice is coming,
The goose is getting fat.
Please to put a penny in
The old man's hat

If you haven't got a penny
A ha' penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha' penny
Then God bless you!


Third Poem of the Snow Trilogy


As the driven snow is pure as a babe's heart

born in a stable

when hell freezes over

when the firmament rises from the depths

and on turtles back we land on shore

to hurry into the mud before winter.

The void is cold and black

snow cold and white.

Life was hard before fire.

So we tend the fire of humanity's warmth

or try.

God's gift of Love, mother earth turning

towards the sun yet we slip towards solstice.

Days shorter, shortest.

And give gifts to each other

Happy to be alive and saved.

No need to question

the act is the answer.

Give and you will receive.

By Phil Specht on Dec 15, 2010


Igloo Snow

I know none of the hundred Inuit words

But today the snow broke in big blocks

(as I plowed), and they were building blocks.

A child could make a snow fort (or igloo)

and the fury of the drift making wind,

the heavy wet snow not heavy enough

but with plummet of temperature now dense

not hard, shapeable

leaves this snow with a name.

yet were you outdoors without shelter

as nature gave this gift you would die

so as with an economy not well aputiak

we build with imperfect snow what may be

a temporary shelter waiting for the great storm

that delivers the real thing

building block snow with a price.

By Phil Specht on Dec 13, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010 8:07 AM, EST

We had a great weekend! On Saturday we had breakfast with some friends. Ally was very excited about her pancake with the fruit face. Later that day we went to a Christmas party. This party was put on by New Hampshire Childhood Cancer Life Line. This organization has been great. When Ally was first diagnosed they sent us a bunch of stuff in the mail, including big gift cards for local grocery shopping, a blanket and some other trinkets. They have all sorts of events, and a summer camp (that I think is free), but this is the first event we were able to attend. Ally had a blast. She decorated a gingerbread house, made an ornament and decorated a picture frame. Santa was there and Ally did a little dancing. There were not too many people there, so it was just Ally's speed. She enjoyed herself very can see how much she enjoyed the cupcake in the new picture!

On Sunday we brought Ally to Grammie and Grampa S's house. She had tons of fun putting together a toy train, making yummy pumpkin bread and making ornaments, while Mommy and Daddy took a few hours to go Christmas shopping and have lunch at the Taste of India in Dover (our favorite restaurant from when we lived there)!

Ally does have a nasty cough and a sometimes runny nose. Her temp has remained normal, please pray that it remains so. Daddy is home sick today too.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weather Report

Seem to have missed the snow and ice. Or it missed me. Got a bit of rain this morning, and most of the ice has disappeared from the river. Tomorrow: back to brutal.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


A Poem for John On His Birthday

Your diamonds in the sky with Lucy, mine in the snow

today as the sun rose in the woods, the temperature dropped

a magical mystery tour, as flakes turned to crystal

and your voice in my head, (we fed our heads together John, those years)

no music to the magic today but yours

woodland turned to white strawberry fields

as I try each day to imagine, and in the silence

of your absence have songs

playing now only in my head with yours

come together

By Phil Specht on Dec 8, 2010 8:18 PM

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

My new old tub begins its journey to its last home. . . .

Thanks, Cooter!!

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010 5:22 PM, EST

Thank you for all of your prayers.

Today Ally was feeling much better.
She had a normal temperature all day and did lots more eating!

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010 4:20 PM, EST

This weekend we got our Christmas tree. Ally thought it might be too big, but as it turns out it fits perfectly in our living room. Ally had fun decorating it.

This past week I have not been feeling well, and a doctor told me I have bronchitis on Friday. Today we were at the Make-A-Wish Holiday party and about 20 minutes after we got there Ally started to shut down. A little bit later she said her tummy hurt. She slept for the 20 minute ride home, and then again for another hour and a half when we got home. Her temp is running in the high 99s. Please pray we don't have to take her up to the hospital tonight or tomorrow, and that a good night's rest will rid her of her fever. We were sad to leave the party so early, because it was AWESOME, and we only got a little taste of it. We will be sure not to miss next year's party!

That's it for now, I will be sure to let you know what happens with the temperature.

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NEW MOON REMINDER… Sunday, December 5, 12:37pm EST

Saturday, December 04, 2010

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Friday, December 03, 2010

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

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Ally’s Story:

Since February 2008, Ally has been fighting Stage IV, high-risk Neuroblastoma. She has undergone numerous rounds of chemo, 20 sessions of radiation, tandem stem cell transplants, 2 major operations, and too many scans and smaller procedures to count. Ally went into remission around Thanksgiving of 2008. The tumor returned in February of 2009. She is currently undergoing 3f8 treatment at Sloan-Kettering in New York City. As of November 24, 2010 she is HAMA positive, and on hold for treatment until she becomes HAMA negative. In December 2010 she will undergo dental surgery to correct what the chemo and other treatments have done to her teeth. She is also up for her 3 month scans, around the same time.

Ally Update:

Happy Hanukkah to our friends who celebrate!

Today is my second day home sick. (I know this blog is about Ally, but, hey, I write it!) I have not taken a sick day for myself since before I was pregnant with Ally, and now I am on day two. I am pretty sure it is the flu, even though I got the shot. The worst part (other than the screaming migraine) has been staying away from Ally, so she doesn't get sick.

Anyway...on to Ally. Today I e-mailed her doctor at Sloan (who has been much easier to work with lately!!), and here is the plan: We will draw Ally's HAMA on December 16th, with results on the 22nd. If she is HAMA negative we will head to NYC for 3f8 and stay for 2 weeks, with the second week being for scans. If she is positive we will plan for scans here. The doctor in New York said we can even do bone marrows up here, which is a change in what they have said before, but works in our favor, so I will not complain.

Our only setback right now is Ally's weight. Since she has been off the appetite stimulant medicine she has lost between one and two pounds. Not cause for concern just yet, but we are keeping our eyes on it. Please pray that she finds a tasty, high fat, Holiday treat that will put some pounds (or at least ounces) back on her.

Ally is in love with the Holiday Season. It is so magical to watch her be so excited about everything! Life is good right now!

"AIDS Ribbon Chair," 2000
Michael Ransom
carved wood with paint, 4.5" x 4" x 4"