Friday, December 31, 2010

Guess who's birthday it is today?!?

...BIG EZ turns 59!!!!

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday, dear Dad!
Happy Birthday to you!!!!

So, on this special day, your 59th birthday, here are 59 things that your family loves about you:
  1. From Ginny: Dad and I have always said that you are the smartest person we know.
  2. Linda spotted you on the racquetball court, and then learned your name. Then I learned your name, and then it was love. PTL!
  3. Whenever I need my computer fixed, I know who to call: ERNIE!
  4. I love that you are my walking partner.
  5. I love that you do everything with a smile!
  6. I love that you are always willing to help me, do whatever, no matter what you are doing.
  7. From Linda: I love how you have always put up with my cats, beginning with the one I adopted on our honeymoon!
  8. I love you for your courage, strength, faith, and hope in the most difficult of times. You are my hero!
  9. I love how you always express your love to your family through hugs, emails, sticky notes, or just words.
  10. I love how smart you are and how you can fix just about anything!
  11. I love that we have gotten to travel to so many neat places together.
  12. I love that we have spent 35 years together….35 great ones!
  13. From Jamie: I love that I have a Father in you.
  14. I love that you have taken me as your own.
  15. I love your humor and your jokes.
  16. I love your faith and your heart of service.
  17. I love that you are the same in good and bad.
  18. I love that my kids have such a wonderful grandfather.
  19. I love the example you are to others by always giving encouragement.
  20. From Tara: I love the example you set for faith and godliness in all circumstances.
  21. I love that you are strong. I remember you holding me above your head in the pool on only one hand!
  22. I love that you are a confident dresser, and that you are such a good sport about “Big Teal!” And it makes my heart so happy that now you are often found wearing shirts about being a Grandpa!
  23. I love how talented you are with tools~ My front porch gate and kids’ swingset is testimony to that!
  24. I love that you are a good dancer! Thanks for being my date at the Father/Daughter Dance at MC and for all the slow dances in the kitchen growing up!
  25. Thanks for always having such a great sense of humor. You could always make me laugh, even in the early morning rides to school!
  26. Thank you for teaching me to be generous to others. I learned from you to tip well, give to others, and share what God has given us!
  27. I love that you are so logical and smart. There has never been a problem I posed to you that you couldn’t figure out!
  28. From Leah: I love all the advice that you have given me for work and how I should handle situations. I always come out on top because of you!
  29. I love that you love my husband just like he’s one of your own kids. It means so much to both of us!
  30. I love that you know me so well and have started the wooden G collection~ It’s our thing!
  31. I love that you let me name you Honey Bear in Indian Princesses! Your Running Fawn will always love you!
  32. I love that you mess up words, like Tim the Tool Time Hammer, Cabo St. Lucia, and the best one: Junion Chicken Chaiken.
  33. I love when you get flustered with yourself when everyone else is laughing and then you give in and laugh really hard with us (just think about the glass elevator in Cabo!) I love how you can make anyone in the room laugh, no matter the situation! And when you laugh hard, it is impossible not to laugh with you!
  34. I love that we both love the mountains, especially Boone.
  35. I’ve always known how much you love me. Like when you tried my salty mashed potatoes or when you’d watch all the dance recitals I put on for you in the living room. Or when you built that 3 story tree house with the trap door! Thanks for showing me your love through your actions.
  36. I love how you’ve been a consistent godly father to us our entire lives. You are such a role model.
  37. From Kyle: Remember the time when you came to visit us in GA and we put you to work for 16 hours a day? Oh wait, that was every time you came to visit us! Thanks so much for all your help with all our projects. You have taught me so much over the years.
  38. I love the way you can make any situation seem simple and easy to handle…even this one that you have endured the past year!
  39. I love taking walks with you and the dogs!
  40. Remember the first time we played racquetball? I was drenched in sweat and you didn’t even break out a sweat! I want a rematch!!!
  41. I love how handy you are: You are Tim the Tool Time Hammer!
  42. From Nick: I love your sense of humor and how it has completely shaped my outlook on life.
  43. I love the way you are slowly becoming Pop-Pop and I’m slowly becoming you! Baker Men are A+
  44. I love that you used to beat me mercilessly in b-ball then taped me to the pole when I finally won!
  45. I love always having a partner to eat my drummies!
  46. I love that you are so smart, and we can debate/work through problems together.
  47. I love how you always let me order as much food as I wanted when I was little.
  48. I love watching movies with you!
  49. From Nathan and Natalie (and Samuel and Samantha): We love it when you tickle us.
  50. We love it when we cuddle and watch movies.
  51. We love it when you read to us.
  52. We love to play the fun games on your phone.
  53. We love it when you make up your own games, like hiding the beep beeps or matching the cards.
  54. We love to go on walks with you.
  55. We love it when you hold us up in the air!
  56. We love to play on the swingset that you built for us!
  57. From Abby and Milo: We love it when you let us get up in your chair and you scratch behind our ears.
  58. We love it when you take us on walks…whether around the driveway or to the park!
  59. We love just being around you… especially cuddling.

  From the oldest to the youngest...
We all love you so much!!! 
Happy 59th birthday!!!! 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thankful Thursday - Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Co-Pay Program

During a recent online Multiple Myeloma seminar, I saw mention of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's  (LLS) Co-Pay program.  As I looked into it, I noticed an article that described MM was one of the more expensive cancers to pay for, as ongoing maintenance drugs like Revlimid and treatments such as SCT are expensive.   Plus health insurance costs rise each year. The LLS should probably rename themselves, as their Co-Pay program covers Multiple Myeloma!  YEA!!!  Approved applicants can offload/get reimbursed for certain expenses up to $10,000.00 each year.  The LLS calendar year runs from July 1 to July 1 and candidates need to apply each year, but you can apply anytime during the year and coverage is retroactive back to the prior July.  Candidates need to meet only two guidelines to apply:
  • Candidates need to have a confirmed diagnosis of  Multiple Myeloma.
    • Your oncologist can provide this
  • Candidates Family income needs to be less than 500% of U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines. 
    • (Family of 2 less than $72,850.00)
The co-pay program covers:
  • Medical Insurance Premiums
  • Medicare Insurance Premiums
  • Pharmacy Co-Pays
  • Doctor/Hospital/Treatment Co-Pays
For those of us that have lost employment or the ability to sustain income due to Multiple Myeloma and/or it's ongoing treatments, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Co-Pay program is a welcome an already stretched cash flow and something we are truly thankful for!
For more information, check out the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Co-Pay web page.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nick Dominates the DAT and Heads to Peru on Saturday!

Our son Nick graduated from UNC in May of 2009 with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. He planned to work for a year, save some money, do some traveling and eventually take the Dental Admission Test (DAT) in late 2010. He shipped his car out and off he went to Oakland, CA in August, to get a taste of West Coast living:

Big Sur, CA

Grand Canyon, AZ

Yosemite, CA

Lake Tahoe, CA

Kirkwood, CA

Zion, UT

Arches National Park, UT

...that is until his dad was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in January of 2010. Back home he came to be with our family and help out in any way he could...which ended up being ALOT  this year as EZ (and I) had a month long unexpected hospital stay, rehab at home, untold numbers of doctors appointments and a stem cell transplant.

Nick formulated a plan to begin diligent preparation for the DAT when we moved to Durham for Stem Cell Transplant at Duke, and that is exactly what he did. Work, study, help at home, work, study, help at home, work, study...that has pretty much been his schedule for 4 months except for a few travel breaks to see friends. After one last night of review for the DAT, he headed for bed.

On December 22nd he took the DAT and DOMINATED IT!  With the test being electronic, he received his scores right away and came home with a signed, sealed Score Report. Here he is, looking spent, but victorious!

Now he can concentrate on his next venture...International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) - Cuzco, Peru - January 1st to April 2nd - 10,912 ft. above sea level! He will be volunteering in a Dental Clinic and staying in either The Family House, or traditional home-stay with a host family and 5 other volunteers. Spanish courses in the afternoon are strongly encouraged and Nick hopes to be pretty proficient when he returns to NC. Weekends are free to sight see and he has plans to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. He will remain in country for 2 weeks after his assignment ends, just to travel.

Note how coincidentally close Cuzco is to Macchu Picchu.  

Machu Picchu
I cannot put into words what Nick's presence here has meant to me and to his father. He has unselfishly done it all this past year, from taking care of things at home, to stepping in to do those tasks EZ couldn't do, to helping with four nieces and nephews, to hospital visits, to home repairs, to walking dogs, to organizing and working yard sales, to just being a shoulder I could lean on and a loving son his dad enjoyed being around. We will miss him like crazy, but are so excited that he can now move on with his plans to get experience in the dental world and explore a new country.

He has promised to get his blog up and running again to keep us informed about life in Peru. Anyone who has read his writing knows it can be quite entertaining...I can't wait! We will provide the link when the time comes. Please keep him in your prayers until he returns home in April!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wake Forest White Christmas

Late Christmas day it started snowing. The weathermen projected 2-5 inches (which means we would either get just a dusting or that we would get "more than we expected"). About 4am the following morning our power went out and by sunrise we had a winter wonderland.

Nick jokingly came out of his room and said, "We have no TV, VCR, Blue Ray, internet, computer or phone. What am I supposed to do? Read?". We do have a gas range, so soon Linda was busy with hot chocolate and a warm breakfast. Afterward Nick and I headed out to cut some firewood.  (I love living in a rural setting with trees all around us).

There is nothing better than being out in the snowy woods with my son and a chainsaw.  Soon we had a warm fire in the fireplace.

Tara, Jamie, the Nats and Sams came over, (along with Leah and Kyle) as their power was out too and we had a fun time drinking hot chocolate with the grandkids.

Time for hot chocolate and pop tarts!
No White Christmas is complete without Frosty!

Nick, Kyle and I hooked up the generator so that we kept the refrigerator, freezer and  well pump operational and by 3 in the afternoon power was restored. A wonderful White Christmas in Wake Forest!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Leaning Tower of Christmas Tree is Upright and Decorated!

This year brought a bit of excitement with our Christmas tree. We found a brand new tree stand in our basement that had never even been taken out of the innovative design that should easily allow you to straighten your tree and lock it in place without screwing and unscrewing. Filled with excitement, we took our stand to the tree lot, found a beautiful 9 foot very full Frazier fir, and for the first time, had them cut off the end and some lower branches and put it in the stand. "Wow, this is great" we thought as we proudly got it in the house, leveled it, and latched it in place with our new handy, dandy base. Using a ladder, I put our 5 strands of white lights on, filled the base with water, and headed to bed with a plan for all of us to put the ornaments on the next day.

Well, the next morning as everyone else was sleeping, I heard a "creaking" sound and looked over to find our tree slowly falling to the left! I ran over, barely being able to hold it up, but managing to break it's fall. The problem was, no one else was  awake, and I couldn't let it go to go get someone. I stood there holding it and pondering my dilemma for about 5 minutes, until my arm was killing me. Finally, I decided to just lean it very heavily against the wall and go get Nick for help. Upon inspection, he discovered that our new plastic innovative tree stand had a fatal flaw...plastic teeth that bend and break under the weight of a big tree (even though the stand clearly says it's for a tree up to 10 feet!).

Oh no...will we now have to empty the water out, go buy a new stand, and somehow transfer this big tree??? It looked that way, so we headed out in search of a new stand. After hitting 3 stores and calling another, there were no tree stands to be found for trees over 8 feet. So on the way home, Ernie's engineering mind kicked in and he came up with a plan to try to use our current stand. He disappeared into the basement and came up with big screws, some blocks of wood and a drill. Unfortunately Nick and I were holding the tree while he was drilling, so I didn't take any pictures of him laying on the floor in action, but viola  it seemed to work! I gave it 24 hours before adding any ornaments to be sure it was still standing and it passed the test! I am always thankful for Ernie's ability to think outside the box and re-engineer things to work better. We are now decorated for Christmas and our tree is still standing nice and straight and tall! I love my handyman and the fact that he is beginning to be able to return to such tasks as these.

The Queen of Sheba, my mother's black persian, hiding under the tree

Christmas is our favorite time of year and I particularly love the beauty of different nativities depicting Jesus's birth. Here are some of the ones I have acquired through the years, some little, some big, some handmade, some from different countries, some for grown ups, some for children, but each of them a treasure to me because of what they represent.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2:11-12

Our stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be here! Praying that each of you has a very Merry Christmas!