New Blog for Nathanael

We recently started fundraising with COTA to cover Nathanael's medical expenses, so updates about him will be on his new blog from now on: Please check out the blog, pictures, and opportunities to help, and feel free to pass along the link to others. We appreciate your concern!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Impromptu Family Reunion - June 30, 2013

For the first time in three years both of my brothers and I were in the same room with my parents.  In planning our trip to Delaware to see the Banks side of the family we realized that for just a few extra hours of driving we could actually fit in a stop in Columbus, Ohio as well.  We knew that we'd miss a few members of the family, but when Mom and Dad said they'd drive down from Wisconsin, and Guy and Margaret decided to drive down from the Cleveland area we knew we couldn't miss this chance to be together, even if it was only for a few hours.

So here are my parents with their kids and families (still missing Julie, who was teaching at a music camp in Florida, as well as Nick, Grant and Hadley, but we were ALMOST all there!):

This picture is a miracle for a few reasons: 1) all of us have our eyes open (!), 2) almost everyone is smiling, and 3) almost everyone is looking at the camera! Oh, and Jeff set it up on the counter and used a timer.  ;-)

Celebrating Myles' 3rd Birthday (Nathanael, George, Jamison & Myles)

Cousins playing together
Four smiles and one silly face...

Four serious faces...

Jeff , Guy and I - it was so good to see them!

Mom & Dad with 4 of their 7 grandkids

Jeff lights the candles
Guy watches the kids as Myles blows them out
Jeff, Margaret, and Dad watch the silly boys

"Do we look like Uncle Jeff?"

More silliness and laughter

Nathanael & Uncle Jeff

Myles is 3 years old!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Grandmom's 90th Birthday - Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

This past week the Banks family gathered in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, to celebrate Grandmom Jane's 90th birthday. Though the big day was back in April, and Uncle Doug had already hosted a surprised party for her back at home in Spokane, WA, this was a great time to get the whole family together. (Well, almost the whole family - we were missing 1 cousin...)

We took this as an opportunity to load up the "family truckster" for a cross-country road trip that included visiting family friends, and seeing my family on the way home. It was quite an adventure for all of us!  Our time in the car included lots of questions about birds of prey (the boys' newest interest), many hours of reading (we read C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" - with only minor edits by me - to the boys), lots of time coloring and drawing, and quite a few episodes of PBS Kids "Wild Kratts" on the iPad. We also had quite a few rest stops, of course, and lots of Taylor Swift music.

We also visited friends we hadn't seen in 16 years (on our 16th wedding anniversary - yes, the last time we saw them was our wedding!), and had an impromptu reunion with my family for a few hours on the way home.  It was an exciting trip!  Here are some highlights:

Dinner south of Nashville on the first day

Silly boy...silly face

Building in the sand with cousin Carrie

Jamison reading with Grandmom

The whole gang at The Surfing Crab for dinner

Grandmom Jane, Valerie & Chris

Pop Pop David, Brad & Jason

The boys check out the tray of crabs

Scary face!

Playing with Miss Amanda & Uncle Jason

Jamison up in the tree - at a park in Dewey Beach

Monkey see, monkey do...

Grandmom Jane with her two great grandchildren

Sweet smile on my sweet boy

Jane & Valerie at Phillips in Ocean City

On the boardwalk
Attempt at a family picture...
Family picture - Valerie & David, Brad & I (& the boys), Grandmom & Jason
Grandmom and five of her boys
Looking at a grasshopper on his finger
Grandmom Jane in Ocean City, MD

Jamison looking so grown up...

"There will be NO jumping off the wall!"

"And if you try to jump, you'll get tickled!"

Banks Boys at the beach

Grandmom with her 2 sons, 4 of 6 grandkids & 2 great-grandsons

Reading with Miss Amanda

Precious moments

Visiting the old homestead
Someone thinks he owns the place
Boys at bedtime in the hotel

Breakfast at the house in Rehoboth - a very cool place!

Someone loved his bird book!

Silly moment between Grandmom & Jamison

Brad & I in Ocean City, MD

Jamison's "selfie" with Amanda & Jason

I found the boys on their airbed like this one morning

After a few tries I couldn't get both boys to look...

Another attempt at a group photo

Uncle Jason made a Bateleur eagle out of clay

Asleep after an hour in the sad to wake them...

Silly attempt at a serious picture

Silliness with Pop Pop David

The boys had fun at a local park

Climbing a tree...just like Jamison

Using the tree to climb the fence was fun too

Jamison really loved climbing

These trees were great for climbing!

The sandbox was fun too

We are thankful that none of us were sick all week (well, until Brad woke up feeling sick this morning after 24 hours of driving in the past 2 days), and that, despite a deficit in sleep for the boys, they did well playing together, enjoying the house, the beach, the park, and the company of our extended family.

Brad loved teaching the boys about some of his family traditions, like eating blue crabs. Grandmom even showed me how to crack one open, and we allowed the boys to use a mallet. They liked the crabs, but still found shrimp to be their favorite seafood.

We enjoyed the beach, despite all the sand-stuck-to-sunscreen. (And yes, we did use a ton of sunscreen, but none of us got sunburned at all - just a little hint of color. I was also instructed by my oncologist to stay out of the sun, so most of my time on the beach was spent under an umbrella and wearing a large hat.)

At times like this I am reminded just how incredibly grateful I am to have two healthy boys who are able to travel, allowed to be around so many people and exposed to so many new germs (I could not have imagined this vacation 2-3 years ago).  I am also grateful that despite my own current cancer treatment (yes, after almost 2 years on Raloxifene/Evista, the newest tumor has grown, and I'm now taking Nexavar/sorafenib - which actually seems to be working!) I am healthy enough to enjoy a trip like this as well.  God has graciously allowed us to allow so many "normal" things, compared to a few years ago...and each day together as a family is such a blessing.

Our prayer is that Jesus would continue His work in and through our family as we live each day full of gratitude, and show His love and grace to those around us. We are so thankful that we were able to enjoy our good health, and Grandmom's good health, and 4 generations of the Banks family together all week.  What a gift!