Monday, November 10, 2014

balance

Finding balance is difficult when you feel like you are on a roller coaster of physical and emotional well-being!

For Jason, the struggle continues with the effects of double chemotherapy causing side-effect on top of side-effect. And while doctors prescribe medicines and chemicals for each symptom, it's frustrating not truly knowing the cause of each malady. Headaches may come from low potassium, chemotherapy, lack of sleep, post-radiation edema, or a growing tumor. Or the flu. Who knows. What's most disheartening is the weakness in the body - for the more strength he loses the less able he is to stand or walk or sometimes even sit up.
Without that physical balance, he has found himself a few times on the floor. 

And therein lies my struggle for stability: when the headaches (and other various side effects) come I unravel into a ticking time bomb of anxiety, grief, panic and frustration at not knowing what to do. Fortunately, Jason has developed zen-like levels of patience throughout all of this and so he simply waits for me to finish melting and then he encourages me to press on and/or take a nap! Even in his infirmity he is my rock.
But without that emotional balance, I have found myself a few times on the floor.

A perfect example of the roller coaster we are riding is our experience this weekend:
Jason developed bloods clots in his lungs that showed up on a chest X-ray and CT scan. And what was a truly frightening moment eventually played into a peaceful and restorative weekend. Even though Jason spent the weekend in the Meeker hospital, he was able to rest well, eat well, and be wonderfully cared for. And when the boys and I weren't hanging out in the hospital room with him reading books, watching football, or sneaking ice cream cups from the nurses, we took in a high school playoff football game (where the Cowboys were victorious again!) and even a trip to the movie theater to see Big Hero 6!


So the joy found in all of this turmoil is in the days, moments even, of lucidity and energy when we can catch glimpses of some kind of normalcy. We can all appreciate with greater depth the laugh of a joke, the tenderness of a touch, or the sweetness of a sound (specifically the sound of Hamp & Sam laughing and playing well together!)

We have learned to seek balance when we desperately need it - Jason has therapists and friends and family who are there to lift him up (literally) and for me, there is always peace in a walk in the woods. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

the dolphin and the morph

Here is Sam, the dolphin!

And here is Hamp, the "morph"?!

They were very specific and insistent on their Halloween costumes this year, which was fine as it made preparations easy for me! 

I love that Sam's explanation behind wanting to be a dolphin was simply:
"I was a Panda last year. I want to be another animal."
That explains everything.
Regardless, he found his buddies and got busy trick-or-treating until his tired little fins wore out!

And as somewhat odd and unique both costume choices seem, you would be surprised that the morph suit (or full body suit) was quite popular this year; and Hamp and his fellow morph buddies (pictured below in blue and red, minus masks) along with six other 5th grade compatriots of various clever costuming spent the whole evening travelling as a pack of hard core trick-or-treaters, covering a lot of ground and filling their bags to near arm-breaking capacity!

Hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pumpkins, pigskin & pals

We are in full autumn-mode lately with all the fun activities that October brings...

Of course - the boys were so excited to carve their own pumpkins this year!
(and they insisted on leaving the jack-o-lanterns standing guard at our house... hope they don't frighten off the workers!)

Then Hamp wrapped up a fun few weeks of flag football - and while he complained that the local, Rec League program wasn't 'competitive' enough, he certainly didn't hesitate to put forth his best effort at scoring and playing hard!

Gabe wanted to play flag football, too!!!

But the best part of all has been those perfectly sunny yet cool fall days when you don't have school on Friday so you hang out with your buddies on the courthouse lawn and play a game of shirts vs. skins or hide-and-seek or maybe just roll around in the grass and be silly!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Homecoming

Last weekend gave us a picture perfect day for a community Homecoming celebration!


But this turned out to be a particularly special weekend for the Hightower family!

First of all, there was music!

If you have not heard of Steve Weeks, then you are living a life less full!

Steve Weeks came into our lives around 2010 when we began listening to XM satellite radio and we fell in love with the Kids Place Live channel! The music is always kid-friendly, but adult-enjoyable as well. And he has always been one of our favorite artists...
Sam and Steve!
You see, in a wonderfully felicitous case of old friends and big hearts Steve Weeks was able to come play in Meeker because of Charlie! Steve and Charlie were high school friends in South Carolina - while Charlie and Jason were college room mates at Furman University.
Charlie, Jason and Steve
And while having a famous musician play fun music in the sunshine while your kids play and dance is pretty darn close to perfection... having a dear friend (whom you haven't seen in years!) arrange it all and then show up to enjoy it with you was nothing short of excellent!

But then it got better...

Once Charlie made arrangements to come visit from South Carolina - a few other Furman roomies decided it was a good weekend to venture out west, too!

Marty & Melissa live in Colorado and are more prone to a road trip for a visit - but Rick made the big trip from North Carolina to see Jason... and it was a sweet reunion full of fun Furman stories, tales from the college dorms (and apartments!), updates on old friends and peace at knowing that 20 years doesn't change the bonds created by Furman University Marching Band.
Rick, Melissa, Jason, Marty and Charlie

Oh yeah, and while I was reveling in Jason's reunion - Hamp & Sam were having a blast watching the Homecoming Parade, cavorting with friends, and loving the chance to be outside and have fun.

Monday, October 13, 2014

fall festivities! (part II)

Our autumn adventures continued this week with a visit from 
Mojo & Dado!

With all the fall colors and cool weather, we were able to enjoy some good trail walks, Hamp's flag football game, playing at the park, and plenty of frisbee and football tossing in the back yard!


And when the weather turned too cool or wet to play outside, we watched football, played games, napped and read books!















The highlight of the weekend, however was watching a 6-man crew replace the roof of the house in just 2 days:
Friday morning - the roof is coming off!
Friday afternoon - no roof!!!
Saturday morning - new roof going up...
and by Saturday afternoon - new roof is dried in and ready to move on!
Again, the in-between moments were the best... full of silly faces and sweet gestures; Dado always plays "show n' tell" with cool science tricks and videos. Mojo feigns interest in Minecraft and gets the boys to tell her all about their 'worlds'. Both of them are so wonderful to have here...


... and while it's always hard to say 'good bye' ~ we know we'll see them again real soon!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

fall festivities! (part I)

Autumn snuck up on Meeker and surprised us!
After lots of rain, we woke up one morning to cool weather and turning leaves.


Then one morning, the boys woke up to find visitors had arrived in the night - Yaya and Papa had caught a late flight out west and stayed for a week-long family visit and plenty of fun fall adventures!

Not only did we squeeze in dinner with friends, a little bit of local shopping, a wonderful church service and community luncheon with good friends, a jaunt up the valley to look for wildlife and golden aspens, and a chemotherapy appointment in Grand Junction (whew!)...

... but the highlight was the annual Fall Festival, which included a morning 5K run!
the 2nd grade runners! (go #14!!!)
the 5th grade runners (Hamp is in the back in the orange cap)

Go Sammy!!!
This gang of 5th graders found the foot race to be too much work - so they socialized!


My favorite adventure of the week, however was watching all of the in-between moments that were full of laughter and coloring and making Jell-O with Yaya.

And a special 'thanks' goes to Papa for fulfilling his job of hanging a tire swing at the house... 
and consequently making his grandsons happy for a long time!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

soccer

I have said it before... 
... and will say it again!
I LOVE watching the boys play soccer!

They enjoy it, too... and their skills improve year after year.
We had 5 weeks of great September weather - perfect for sunset games.


it wouldn't be right if Sammy's wasn't cartwheeling across the field!


But we wouldn't want to sit still... so now we move on to flag football and more gymnastics!