Monday, December 3, 2007

December 2007 Posts

6:17 AM 12/3/2007

Good Morning! Well, here we are. I am getting ready to run upstairs to get pretty and run Sydney to Cook's. As if I haven't mentioned everyday since we found out about our overabundance of lymphoblasts, today is the day we go in for our second look bone marrow aspirate. I am not particularly looking forward to this. I have enough stress with the anesthesia much less the additive fear of what we might find. Regardless, we are off. Let the incessant worrying begin.

The kiddos had a pretty great weekend. We decorated the house for the Holidays and I kept myself occupied talking about antibodies on the list serv. Hey, it is my favorite subject. But, more importantly, I find that participating on the NBLAST list helps me cope. Not only is it a way for me to solidify things in my own mind but it is a great learning process. I spent quite a bit of time debating one antibody against another and that was quite fun but what is always even more exciting is the banter that goes on behind the scenes. I always have to be careful on the list. Accuracy is key and there are a lot of oncologists and researchers that secretly snoop. My favorite part of posting is when I receive a private message from the experts. You would be surprised at what I get. Sometimes it is kudos. Sometimes it is another argument. More often than not, it is one of them making fun of my stance on something. There are 3 of them in particular that keep me laughing in the background. First off, they all fundamentally disagree with each other. So, regardless of what I post, I am going to get a little bit of everything. Hopefully, if I have done my homework (I have learned to double-check), there aren't any corrections. There are always differing opinions and the funny thing about it is that they are all absolutely right, each and everyone of them. One is always mad that I am focusing on a dead horse, one is always providing me support through medical articles and one is always telling me that, although technically correct, I am off my rocker and I should be focusing on something else. The irony is that who is telling me what is constantly changing. Who would have thought that this is what I would be doing. Finally, and the most important part, is all of these people deeply care about our kids and are fighting tooth and nail.

Helping others and pushing the envelope makes it easier for me to cope with my own stress and worry.

I am nuts but having a purpose keeps me slightly sane.

4:24 AM 12/4/2007

Good Morning! Well, I am happy to report that Sydney had one of the best bone marrow aspiration and biopsy days that I can remember. We had a different anesthesiologist than we have ever used before and I have to say that we really appreciated his personality and demeanor. He had Sydney eating out of his hand and all of us laughing. Furthermore, he listened to our concerns and desires when it came to the drugs that he would be using on Sydney and it made all of the difference in the world. Remember, in our world, less is more. She woke up in a timely fashion with little pain and about as happy as she can be. Her pain was managed well and other than requiring some Tylenol later on in the day you would never know that she had been through a procedure. In the past we have had anesthesiologists blatantly disregard our opinion and argue with us. Some have even used drugs that we have asked them not to use. In those cases, universally, Sydney would have a tougher time with anesthesia, pain control, and recovery. In many cases she would also continue to have more lingering pain. It was so nice to have someone get what we were trying to achieve without putting her at further risk. Dr. Bert gets our favorite physician of the month award.

Dr. Eames called in the early afternoon with a preliminary report. At first glance under the microscope, Sydney's marrow appears to contain fewer lymphoblasts than previously. The cells in question are rare. They continue to not show as lone cells and do not appear in clumps, rosettes, or sheets. In the end, we will still need to wait for flow cytometry (due tonight) but this is all a good indication that this may be some normal process. We would certainly consider less better than more. Dr. Eames seems fairly certain that this is probably benign. Part 3 of the marrow testing will be the cytogenics. We don't expect to see those result for about a week. In short, whatever it is seems to be improved and I don't expect we would necessarily see that if it was cancer.

Well, I am off. There is a mountain of email awaiting me. I full day out of the office has left me behind.

Still praying purposefully.

5:22 AM 12/5/2007

Well, hmmm, I haven't heard anything. I don't take this as a particularly good sign. In fact, I pretty much take it as a bad one. Dr. Eames knows how nervous we are. I can not believe that if she had good news that she would be punishing us with another restless night. My best guess is that they are talking with Houston to figure out what to make of it. In this scenario, at the very least, we are dealing with some abnormalities with the flow cytometry that they just can't put their finger on. At the most, it is an obvious sign of cancer and they are conferring with others to figure out what to do in her unique case. Quite frankly, either way I would want to know. I just can't imagine that it is anything else. I understand that they are being very careful with Sydney. I know they are exploring every avenue and looking at every detail. For this reason I can only guess that whatever the have found may be unlike something that they have seen before.

Given that, it could be okay. It could be something a little strange but fundamentally okay. They just want to check there bases before they commit to telling us so. That is a possibility. My fear, however, has been my fear all along. What if it is related to the vaccine? What if these little lone cells are the beginning of some strange mutation. Yeah, sure. They could be the modified cells themselves but, if that were the case, we certainly would have seen them before this. Something is definitely fishy in the water. How fishy is the question and what will it mean? My fear is that no one knows? It is a very scary time around the Dungan household. Today will be a horrible day of stress. My gut is in knots and if it is any indication of what the rest of the day is going to hold in store I am not looking forward to it. Calgon isn't strong enough to take me away.

Purposefully praying...

5:10 AM 12/6/2007

Well, yesterday's post is a perfect example of being absolutely wrong. In fact, I don't think I have ever been happier to be wrong. The good news is that the flow cytometry came back utterly normal. It did not even pick up the cells that they were concerned with. Additionally, the bone biopsy came back normal as well. As long as we are delighting in how wrong I was, we might as well point out the fact that I was wrong about the number of tests as well. The number is not 3, but 4 and, ironically, this was also the cause of Lynley and I's near death experience. It appears that the delay was because they were waiting to give the flow cytometry results once the bone biopsy results came in. First, I was not aware that we were even doing the bone biopsy. It sounds perfectly logical but I just did not think they would go through the expense of it since we did it just one short month ago and it was not in question. For whatever good reason, however, they did. I did not know about it, was therefore not worried about it, and therefore, not considering that it could be those results that were causing the delay. Regardless, I was paranoid that they said they would call the night before with flow cytometry results and they didn't, so we had a little family freak out. I hereby give my permission for you to remind me the next time this type of thing happens that I am completely mental and, just because the doctors don't call when I think they should, it does not mean the sky is falling - which it was?!?. I guess our first test is now as we wait for the cytogenics. They are not due until next week. I promise to behave.

Now, I did get a nice email from one of the fathers telling me to keep my pants on and to take a chill pill. He was right. He knows that (from experience) and I know that. However, if it was that easy to do I probably would not need these diary to sort out my thoughts. Regardless, I deeply appreciated his sentiment and, had I been in any other frame of mind than the irrational one that seems to surface with fear, I probably would have been able to keep my wheels on. I didn't. I lost perspective. It is a hard thing to keep when you make that sporadic realization that the rug is about to be ripped out from under you again.

Just so everyone knows, it was a gentle reminder email to Dr. Eames that got us the answers. It went something like this:

Dr. Eames,
Ok, ok, I know I am mental, but I am dying over here!;) Hoping Sydney is not?
With hope and thanks,
Mark (father/nut case)

She called within 20 minutes.

Purpose is much easier than perspective to keep in balance.

6:10 AM 12/7/2007

Good morning! Well today I pick up the first batch of printed Lunch for Life Cookbooks. I can't wait. I am entirely too excited. This weekend I will be turning the Dungan Five into my shipping crew. We have roughly 1000 to get out this weekend alone. If you have not ordered one I strongly encourage you to. Tke cookbook is beautiful with well over 300 recipes and packed full of pictures of all of the children whose name the recipes were given in. It is quite a work of art and you know the proceeds are going to the right place. I had 3000 printed in this first go around so we still have a bit to sell before Christmas. I would not want to give away what I bought all of my friends for Christmas but lets just say it is a great gift. If you have not ordered 5 or 10 of these beauties yet, you can do so here:

While you are there don't forget, it is that time of year again. The Giving Trees are up on the Lunch for Life site and Sydney is checking it day and night. She loves to see the ornaments on her tree. Her page on the Lunch for Life site is Stop by, look at the pictures, sign the guestbook, and consider giving up Lunch for one day a month to help us fund research to cure neuroblastoma. There will be more to come in the near future. This years donations will also be used to fund a combination of drugs that we are trying to get in trial. I don't have permission to talk about it now but the preclinical data is the best I have ever seen and we are fighting to get it into our kids. I don't know that it will be the homerun we are all looking for but it is the first that I have seen that definitely could be. It could be the one. It will take our lunches though to bring it to these kids.

Purpose is power and we will fund the cure.

5:32 AM 1/10/2007

I thought I would drop a note just to show everyone how little control I actually have in this family. It starts out simple enough. Here I am, a father, just a regular old dad going about his business of daddydom. Last weekend was prime shopping time so we wrangled a babysitter (my mother) while the kids were napping and headed out into the big world to find some Christmas presents for the rugrats. You know, on Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, and Vixen. On Comet, on Cupid, on Dad in the Suburban. As a side note, I secretly knew to wait longer before we actually shopped for the kiddos because I know for a fact that they will be changing what they wanted for Christmas at least two more times between now and the big day. Regardless, it is my job as one of the official Santa's helpers to do as told, so I slapped on a happy face and we were off to Toys R' Us on a Saturday afternoon - two and a half weeks before Christmas. As expected, the traffic was horrendous around the mall. Some brilliant people with a cage full of FREE puppies had taken up camp on the side of the road to take advantage of all of the suckers that were stuck in traffic and stupid enough to pull over on the side of the road. Hold on, why are we pulling over? Lynley, what in the heck are you doing? No, no, no, no, no! This isn't on Santa's list.

Less than five minutes later we were pulling back on to the highway next to the mall. Lynley was driving again. There was a puppy sitting in my lap.

This was only the beginning of what I knew was going to be an incredible inconvenience to all of those that were close to us. Somehow, we were going to have to keep this thing a secret until the night before Christmas when I would have to (in keeping with my job of being an official Santa's helper) deliver the puppy to Santa so that he could distribute it to a deserving little boy or girl - namely Graham. For those of you that don't know a not so well known fact about Santa, due to overwhelming demand during the holidays, Santa often contracts with Mom's and Dad's throughout the world to help him get presents that are in short supply or that cannot be made in the workshop. Furthermore, it is cold at the North pole and he usually shies away from keeping live animals other than the reindeer that are adapted to the climate. For the others, he depends on helpers like ourselves to take care of them. Of course, when I say helpers like 'ourselves', I mean Dee who now has a new puppy living with her. Now, while you may think that we have levied this abuse on my mother without any other alternatives. That would be incorrect. We could keep this newest addition at other friend's houses or even at the vet. However, it is most convenient at my mother's house and, as I pointed out to her, I am sure Graham would really appreciate it if he knew (and one day he will!)

Regardless, we have now survived two days of shuffling a puppy and the stories are too numerous to mention. It is exhausting for all and if it weren't funny and it the gift didn't have such a great little benefactor I am sure we would have certainly put it back on the side of the road. Something tells me that this will be the source of some great stories between now and the big day. We are T minus 15 days.

Boy, and I thought I had purpose before.

5:57 AM 12/11/2007

Well, the little critter spent most of the day at home with me yesterday. I worked quietly on the couch whilst the little doglet slept in his cage. Occasionally he would yelp to see if I was still there but for the most part he simply snoozed away. During lunch I got him out for a couple of hours where he followed me around religiously. I let him play with all of Grahams things and even switched out his blanket to one of Graham's so that he would get used to his smell and associate it with safety and comfort. Hogan, our large Golden Retriever, sat patiently by and helped me care for the critter. Hogan took to the little tike like a fish to water and takes great joy in letting him bite at his whiskers. So far, the first day with the puppy (codenamed "football") went wonderfully. On my way to pick up the kids from school I dropped him back off with DeeDee.

Sydney gave me a bit of a scare yesterday as I picked her up from school. Almost as soon as she got in the car she started screaming that her head hurt. Always assuming the worst in this case it made me nervous. Regardless, I had her drink some juice and followed with the questions. While I never will know if I am right, I am hoping it was a sign of dehydration. She told me that she forgot to drink all day. While I don't know why this would have been set on by the cold outside, it certainly seems to have been that way. Today, I am sending her to school with a water bottle and instructions to continue drinking all day. I am hoping and praying that we do not see any more headaches.

Well, I best be off. My mother has small flood in her kitchen, I need to puppy sit the football, and there are rugrats to get ready for school.

Also, if you have not already, you need to order your cookbooks ( before Friday if you want to get them before Christmas.

My purpose is off and running.

5:06 AM 12/12/2007

Good morning! So, this will be a very quick update. The kids are asleep upstairs but unbeknownst to them, Norman (our newest addition) had a little sleep over with us. In an effort to give my mother a complete night of restful slumber, we snuck the little Christmas present over here for the night. I am happy to report that he slept through the night and was completely and utterly silent. This morning, however, he and his new big brother Hogan (our 4 year old Golden Retriever), the lummox, are having great fun lumbering around downstairs. The trick will be to get him out of the house and back over to my mother's house before they wake. Oh, I tell you, there is big excitement around here. I still can't believe that we made it through an entire night without the kiddos knowing he was here. Being sneaky is so much fun! I love Christmas and I just can't wait to see the look on their faces when Santa delivers him on Christmas morning. It will be completely and utterly wonderful. In the meantime I do have to run. I have some puppy sitting to do as I wait for the word from my mother that she is up and I can take him back over to her house. In the meantime, I will leave you with one of the first photographs of the little twerp pupplet.

Ain't purpose grand.

6:05 AM 12/13/2007

Good morning! Well we made it through a complete night with Norman the puplet and the kids had no clue. I am a little amazed. I was able to usher him out the door and back over to my mother's house before any were the wiser. I just love the Holidays.

Yesterday was really about Sydney, however. You see, Sydney's class was going on the Polar Express, a train ride from the stockyards in Cow town to the Target, of all places, on 7th and back. It all began in the morning when I dropped off all of the kids at school. Sydney was dressed appropriately in her pink jammies, robe, and slippers. I, of course, who would be going with them later in the day was wearing a golf turtleneck, a cardigan, and slacks. Just so you know, I received a stern lecture from Sydney's teacher that if I was going to be going on the Polar Express I would need to be wearing my jammies as well. I contemplated telling her that I did not have any, that I slept in the buff (not true) but I did not think that would go over well in my daughter's nice Christian school. I decided, instead, to tuck my tail between my legs and mutter "Yes, Mam."

As you can see, this started off a bit questionably. Now, I had to go find some jammies. I really wasn't interested in driving 30 minutes back to the house and I desperately needed to deliver a truckload full of Lunch for Life Cookbooks. I decided instead to duck into Albertson's very quickly. This is where my day took a change for the better. They had a pair of Tony Romo Dallas Cowboy jammies in just my size. It does not get any better. Clearly Santa was coming twice this year. Regardless, I made me deliveries and did the quick change. Unfortunately, I had no slippers so there I appeared in my bran new Tony Romo Dallas Cowboy jammies and black lizard cowboy boots. I should have been arrested on sight.

The ride on the Polar express was fun. I elected to let Sydney sit by her best friend whose Daddy did not make the ride. Although I did not get to sit with her I was happy to see the two of them have a spectacular time. We even got to sing some of our favorite carols together. In the end it was over in a flash. I kept Sydney with me the remainder of the day and she helped me shop and run errands. We had a great afternoon together. For having a day that started with a lecture I sure was thankful for the way it turned out.

That is often how purpose can work.

5:06 AM 12/14/2007

Okay, so I would just like to point out that I have been a very good little daddy ever since the other NB father advised me to chill out about scans and tests in an effort to keep myself from having a heart attack and/or mental breakdown. You may even notice that I have not come close to mentioning the cytogenics. I have purposefully not worried to my diary. However, I have to admit that I really don't know how comfortable I am about not worrying. It has become a specialty of mine and for good reason. Now, here is a glimpse into the fragile psyches of Lynley and I. I have often said that I was not superstitious before I stepped into the cancer world. In fact, I thought it was pretty ridiculous. I can even get through my "normal " life without being that way. In this sense, superstition is stupid. But, when it comes to cancer, our routine has been defined by superstition.

For example, there are several ways to drive to the hospital from our house. However, I always drive the same exact way for fear of messing with the delicate balance of the world. Oddly enough, this started because of when we had our fateful day when the MRI came back abnormal. For some unknown reason, I had driven to the hospital a different way. From that point on I did not really want to drive that way anymore and I figured, what the hay, maybe it won't hurt. So, that became a superstition and now I will literally turn around and drive back towards the house if I catch myself going the wrong way. Ludicrous, isn't it. I know that. You know that. But, I am still just not yet ready to break the habit and I have no desire to drive to the hospital any other way.

So another one of our crazy little superstitions that keeps Sydney from relapsing is the fact that we worry appropriately enough. Don't laugh. I am serious. When you get too comfortable with life, when you have too much confidence is when it jumps up to bite you. We also learned this lesson from experience. So, both Lynley and I have found that if we worry about it enough it just won't happen. So, I tell you all of this because I have been very good about not worrying about the immunocytology out loud. But just so you know I have secretly worried about it plenty inside.

I am continually amazed at how nuts this disease makes us. It is still fear like I have never known and one that I would not want to bestow upon anyone. The good thing about it though is that it is a great motivator. It always reminds us of what is important in our lives and where our focus should be. In this sense it is a gift that just keeps on giving reminder. Everybody loves there children. However, there are only certain moments when you get to sit back and really reflect on that. That moment when you feel that little tingle in your chest that says "Dear God, I am lucky for you." Even in the hustle and bustle of daily life - getting the kids dressed, breakfasts made, lunches made and packed, jackets on, driven to school, work, laundry, honey dos - the gift I have received from this dreadful disease is the ability to remember what is important. I get a little poke several times a day that says "look, appreciate, you are the luckiest man in the world."

That is purpose.

6:07 AM 12/17/2007

Just for the record this is not how I wanted to spend my Monday morning. However, it seems that, for some reason the server that holds Sydney's site is down. This is the same server ithat several of my other sites are on as well. This is not a particularly good thing especially considering this is also the server in which Lunch for Life resides. So, to make a long story short, here I sit in the middle of a very loud collocation facility waiting for my server to turn on. Just so you know, that is not going particularly well. I guess the true irony is the fact that I am sitting here writing a diary entry for a blog that is on a server that may not ever come up again.
What I would have much rather been telling you about this morning is my dear beloved son who has been taking a great interest in the presents under the tree.

You see, this weekend was actually much more about catching up on all of the little tasks that we so desperately needed to get done around the house. One of those little chores was finally getting around to wrapping all of the presents to go under the Christmas Tree. I am happy to say that Lynley took about 3 hours on Saturday to run over to DeeDee's house to get the job done while I held down the fort and quietly listened for the little pitter patter of twerp feet above my head during nap time.

Later that afternoon Lynley brought home a mountain of wrapped presents to put around the tree. Graham took great interest in helping us bring the presents in from the car. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that he was downright helpful which is quiet a stretch for a 3 year old. Anyway, he inspected each and every present and would bring each one to me to identify exactly who it was from and who it was for. He was clearly scheming but I was just happy to see him take such an interest and was willing to let it go. As the afternoon wore on to evening it got busy around the Dungan household. Lynley and I spent much of our time chasing kiddos and working around the house. I noticed that Graham had disappeared on occasion but this is somewhat normal behavior for twerps so I did not think much of that either. Even later on Lynley began to notice that the pile of presents around the tree were shrinking. We decided to watch far more closely. We eventually saw what the boy was doing. He was taking all of his presents and hiding them under his bed.

Just so you know this is a favorite place of the Dunganlets. You will often find candy, half eaten doughnuts, and cake under there. Regardless, when his mother finally questioned him, he assured us that he was only placing them there for safe keeping. Apparently he was very worried that Ainsley would steal them. We asked him not to do this and took all the presents back downstairs. Ironically we discovered the same theme seemed to be happening on Sunday as well. I decided to let it go but I am contemplating wrapping some presents for him myself - something smelly. We shall see how long that lasts. I know, what an evil thing for a dad to do. But hey, this is not only parenting.

This is purpose.

4:10 AM 12/18/2007

Good morning! Well, here we are and we are sneaking up on Christmas. What I have not done this year is to beg and plead with all of my Lunch for Lifers to go and give up a lunch. Now, I know most of Sydney's loyal followers have already given up lunch and convinced all of their friends to do the same even though I had not yet asked. However, I was looking at the Lunch for Life site today ( and I noticed that we have raised about $188,450.00 so far this holiday season. I think the greatest gift that we could possibly give these kids this Christmas season is if we could top the $250,000.00 by Christmas. Now, I know that this is an extremely long shot. I know this won't be easy to do but I do think it can be done. If we raised $150,000.00 in just 10 days when this whole thing began, then there is no doubt in my mind that we can raise $62,000 between now and Christmas. However, I will need all of your help to do it. It will require calling and emailing all of your friends and asking them to fulfill this Christmas wish. I am going to start off and I am going to give up eating lunch everyday and I am going to donate my lunch money to Lunch for Life until we hit the $250,000.00 mark. Yes, every morning I am going to come to the Lunch for Life site (the page mentioned above) and I am going to donate my lunch until I see that number climb over $250,000.00.

I can't do this alone, so, I am asking you to join me. I understand if you can't afford to give up lunch everyday during the holiday season. Heck, I have 3 kids, I can't either. But I am going to do everything that I can and I am going to commit my lunch everyday. I know all of these kids with neuroblastoma would gladly go without Christmas and presents, much less lunch, to live. The least I can do is give up some lunches. I can do that. We can do that. We can help them live. We are that close. I am asking you to join me. We will have a lunch club of our own. Let's hit the $250,000.00 mark together. Whether it is one lunch this week or a lunch everyday I sincerely appreciate your help. It is the end of the year. Let's make some tax deductions.

I can also tell you that I feel that we are closer than ever and I know that we will see some new drugs and different combinations hit neuroblastoma in the next year that will truly change the survival. I believe in the bottom of my heart that there is one drug (in particular) that, when used with other drugs, could increase the survival rate by 10%, 20% or even more. In fact, there is a small group of us trying to raise enough funds to buy the compound from the drug company to open a trial. Literally, next year at this time, 10% more children with neuroblastoma could be living because of this effort alone. That is 65 kids in the US alone that could live next year because of the lunches that we give this week. That is how close we are and this is exactly the point of Lunch for Life. We will speed the cure. We will find the answer.

Give up lunch! Tell your friends and your families and the people you work with. Let's save these kids in the next 8 days. Now that is a Christmas present.

That is purpose!

Oh, and if you are looking for a particular child to donate in honor of, Sydney still loves to see the ornaments grow on her tree. You can use her Giving Tree code. It is 26965. We will be checking it everyday. It is Sydney's purpose, too.

5:14 AM 12/19/2007

Good morning! I am happy to report that all of the kiddos seem to be in fine working order. In fact, they are down right exceptional. I love Santa Claus. The power he wields over these kiddos is just downright amazing. The moment they get the inkling to start behaving badly (and boy do they) all I have to do is mention the round guy and my little twerplets snap back into form. I just have to figure out a way to keep this going until we send them off to college.

Earlier this week the nationally syndicated USA Radio Network's morning show DayBreak USA contacted me to be a guest on their show. They asked if I would mind being interviewed about Sydney, neuroblastoma, and Lunch for Life. It was a part of the radio show's Five Days of Doing. Each day this week they are focusing on a deserving charity to bring attention too and on Monday we were it. They spent quite a bit of time on the phone with me and with Pat Tallungan discussing our children and neuroblastoma. I was so incredibly thankful for the opportunity. It means so much to be able to share our stories and to educate people about childhood cancer. To this day, I still believe that if people truly knew that "cancer kids" were just normal kids that got a unlucky straw that we would have cured these diseases by now. Nobody would stand for the incredible lack of funding. I am still shocked by the fact the our federal government spends less than $25 million dollars per year on our nations number 1 disease killer of children - pediatric cancer. Can you believe that or am I just being sensitive. Especially considering what they send oversees, what the spend on the war, and what they spend other diseases and on adult populations. Regardless, the point is I am so thankful to have the opportunity to get the word out. It makes a huge impact. The first key to success for our children will be in winning the battle of awareness.

Unfortunately, I did not mention this on Monday so people could tune in. Embarrassingly, I did not know what stations they were played on throughout the country. I only knew that they produced the show here in Dallas. Regardless, they did send us some of the interviews via MP3 files and I posted them on the Lunch for Life site. You can find them here: They really did a nice job. My interview spans the first two files and Pat Tallungan's, the president of the CNCF, span the second two files. They are well worth a listen and if you feel inspired please write them and thank them at Their help truly makes a difference.

Finally, a quick gander at the Lunch for Life site shows that we are up to $191,660.00 this morning. We are still under my goal of $250,000.00 so I am continuing my second day of my lunch fasting for life. Today I will donate another lunch to Lunch for Life. If you can afford it I ask you to do the same but, none the less, please ask everyone you know to give up a lunch and do the same today. During the days between now and Christmas we can actually raise enough money for a clinical trial that would not happen without our lunches. We have that much power. We can actually fund a complete phase 1 trial - just with the lunches we give between now and Christmas.

I hope your peanut butter sandwich is as good as mine.

This is purpose in action.

5:14 AM 12/20/2007

Good Morning! Well, here we are, another day closer to Christmas and another day closer to being unable to wield the mighty sword of Santa Claus peeking in the windows looking for bad little boys and girls. It just works so brilliantly. The kiddos really have been fundamentally good. I have been very proud and, aside from Graham's habit of stealing presents from under our now dead and wilty Christmas tree, I think everything is going well. I can always tell when he has been under there. Like Hansel and Gretel he leaves a little trail of pine needles all the way up to his room. I am just thankful that he isn't nearly as sneaky as Ainsley who relies on her stealth to get away with murder, quite successfully I might add. The funny thing about Ainsley is that you never catch her in the act. You might catch her because the mess she left behind. You might catch her as she finishes something, such as pulling off all of the toilet paper on the roll. But, very rarely will you ever catch her starting to do something wrong or in the process of it. Ainsley will make sure she was already done with whatever she was doing before she will let anyone catch her. In fact, we usually simply catch her, not because we saw her do something, but through the process of elimination. As in "Okay, Sydney is writing in her cat book, Graham is playing maid with his vacuum cleaner, Lynley is cleaning the den. I am folding laundry. All of the animals are outside. DeeDee is at her house. Okay, it must be Ainsley who cut the fringe off of the oriental carpet." Yes, this is what I am dealing with!

I notice with a quick glance at the Lunch for Life site that we are up to $194,580.00. It is still a few dollars shy of my goal of $250,000.00 so today I enter my third day of lunch fasting and I will contribute another lunch. We are doing well. It will be a stretch to hit my goal by Christmas but I am pleased to see so many dedicated to hitting this goal. We will get there. It is too important. My new diet has already lost me 2 pounds. Just a few more days and I will be back to my pre thanksgiving fighting weight - the one where I did not finish the day with a red ring around my waist from pants that were too tight. If I keep this up I might even convince Mrs. Claus to put a little gift under my tree. Hubba, hubba. (Dear God, please do not tell her I just said that.)

Well, it seems I had best be off. There is a mountain of email to get through and a day full of meetings lies ahead.

Purpose, purpose everywhere.

5:50 AM 12/21/2007

Good morning! We are up to $197,525.00. That means that we will be hopefully cross the $200,000.00 mark today. I am keeping my fingers crossed. That is a pretty huge milestone and just think - we have done that with our lunch money. Even though I have now done this for 4 years that still just blows me away. It isn't that we have a bunch of $1000, $5000, or even $10,000 donors. This simply came from our lunch money. Sometimes it was a monthly donation, sometimes a yearly donation, but it is just that, lunch money. Amazing!

Regardless, we have not reached our mark so I must continue on my lunch fast and I will be donating my lunch again today. I can't wait to see it top $200,000.00. If you can, please help us get there.

Well, this is going to be a very quick update. Today we have battling Christmas parties at both Graham and Ainsley's School and at Sydney's. This will require a parental split and some quick maneuvering. Plus, there are presents to pack for other kids and the teachers and, for some reason, Lynley just came in the room and asked me to run to the store for some ice. As much as I would love to stay in here and type I had better listen to her. I don't want to get into trouble this close to Christmas. After all, Santa could be watching!

He has lots of purpose too.

5:25 AM 12/24/2007

'Twas the morning before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for a little maniac puppy who desperately needs a boy. Wow, it is hard to believe that 2 and a half weeks have passed by and Christmas is already here. In so many ways, I can not believe that we made it this far. Think about it. We have had a puppy in our house just about everyday since Lynley made us get it. Of course, we have to give a special thanks to DeeDee who has helped us tremendously in keeping Santa's little present from prying eyes. The key point is that the children have no clue. I must admit, I do have a sense of pride as I sit down on my couch in the den and play with the little booger. He is just so darn adorable. I can't wait until Graham opens the box and finds this little puppy inside. I think this is one of those perfect examples of creating a memories that will last forever. The kiddo's are all ready to go and I just can't wait. It is now time to turn over the reigns to Santa.

Today he has all the purpose.

6:00 AM 12/26/2007

'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house ALL of the creatures were stirring including the new mouse. Yes, you heard it hear first. The football (codename we used for Norman, our new puppy, over the last few weeks) is in the stadium. I think the biggest irony of this Christmas is what will go down in history as "The Great Gift Shift." Sure, Graham showed the requisite amount of Christmas excitement at seeing his new puppy for the first time. However, the interesting thing was the level of interest that Sydney showed in the little booger. Before long Sydney had adopted him and had convinced Graham to let her take care of the puppy for the entire day. As I looked around the room I noticed that Ainsley was playing Sydney's new piano, Graham was playing with Ainsley's new kitchen, and somehow Sydney had attached herself to Norman. This is pretty much how the rest of the day would play out. It was truly a shocking conclusion to the days events. I was expecting Norman to be completely worn out from all of the activity of Christmas. The last place I though it would come from is Sydney. Yes, Sydney, my daughter, half girl - half cat, has gone to the dark side. I am sure her kitty cat brethren is about to disown her. But, yes, she seems to be Norman's new mommy. Who would have "thunk" it?

Well, I had best be off. I am not technically aloud to be on my computer today (Lynley rule) and I need to get upstairs and help with the waking of twerps. I just could not help myself. I had to share this interesting twist of events. I also have to point out that Lunch for Life is up to $238,559.00. This is just a little over $11,000.00 under my holiday goal of $250,000.00. Today, I will continue my lunch fast. I know we can make our goal by the end of the year. We are so close. I encourage everyone to give up a lunch today. It is almost the end of the year. Get those charitable contributions in!

Purpose, a tax break, and a cure. You can't beat that.

6:44 AM 12/28/2007

Well, yesterday did not turn out exactly as expected. For lunch, Sydney took the kids and her parents to the Purple Cow to dine. I got the opportunity to do some work and visit with my grandmother a bit. When Lynley arrived back home she performed a kid handoff and I began the process of putting G-man and Miss A down for naps. All was fine and dandy. Ainsley was twerpfully delicious and Graham was sufficiently giggly. No matter, a couple of snuggles and they were off to neverland. I made my way downstairs and got the full scoop on lunch. With the exception of Graham upending himself in the car (don't ask me how) and bonking his head and then another head bonk on the table in the restaurant to complete his injury symmetry, everything went splendidly. I was not particularly concerned considering how goofily normal the boy was when I put him to bed. Regardless, I got back to typing on the keyboard and Lynley, Sydney, and her family made their way out the door for an afternoon of shopping.

The kiddos slept well. I was pleasantly surprised. It was not until about 3:15 that Graham dawned the top of the stairway. I brought him downstairs and plied him full of juice and SpongeBob on the tube. He was perfectly normal. At about 3:45 Graham made a race for the bathroom where he scored a bowl full of diarrhea. This in and of itself was not alarming. After all, I have seen this before. He made his way back to the couch. At about this time Mom had made it back home. At the same moment I heard Ainsley stirring upstairs. I made my way up to gather her. Upstairs we changed her diaper, got her dressed, and gave her the requisite amount of kisses. I carried her back downstairs to find that the world had nearly exploded.

There was Graham, spewing vomit from every orifice. Lynley was trying as hard as she good to catch it but it was everywhere. It was all over the couch, his clothes, the floor - you name it. I made several trips in and out of the room ushering in new towels and clothes and removing the spew covered filth. Just at about the same time that we had him recovered from his explosive escapade up it all came again. To be honest, neither Lynley nor I really thought it was necessarily head related. However, if you hit your head, one of the first watch signs is vomiting. We gave him a quick once over. Everything else looked pretty normal. I never saw him hit his head so I had to rely on Lynley to make the judgment call. To be on the safe side, we decided to take him to the ER.

I could really go into a long explanation but I will save you the reading. We arrived at 4:45PM. We left at 10:15PM. After a CT scan and some Zofran the boy was pronounced perfectly unbroken. We brought him home and tucked him into his bed.

It was definitely not the purpose I had expected when we started the day.

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