A Little Peek

Our sneak peek! A tiny little Houston! 
Today we got to get a little peek at our newest baby! It's always amazing to get such an opportunity to see God's handiwork, even if it is in black and white! The ultra sound revealed ONE baby...yes folks, that means it's the stress of life right now that is allowing me to be so sick. It also changed our due date by a week and two days. Our new due date is November 12, so baby is a tad bit younger than first calculated. The baby was quite wiggly and very healthy looking! Everything looks great for which we praise the Lord for. I am thankful I live in a day when we can see such amazing things! After the ultra sound, my husband took me to lunch, making a wonderful celebration in honor of our precious baby!

A Quick Review

Yesterday was a big day! First, it was Nathanael's big 13th birthday. We started out with a brunch of biscuits & gravy, fried eggs, and bacon. We then presented him with his gift. He got a new shave kit, some jeans, and a new coat- he loved it all! Next, we had to scoot so we could make it to the Seattle ferry. Craig received a call from the realtor that is helping us with the rental house and we were clear to sign papers and get the keys! We were quite excited and Nathanael was happy that he would get to see the new house first! The signing took a little longer than I had expected, but I am thrilled with the house! It will work perfect! The drive to Children's is very easy and I need easy! We also got to meet the owner of the house as she stopped by with new keys for us. She is a very pleasant lady and eager to make things as easy as possible for us. She doesn't seem unnerved at all at the number of children that will be living in her house!
 After the signing, we decided it was time for some food! We were a bit hungry and Nathanael had the pick of restaurants. He chose Asian food. The realtor had told us about a sushi place in U Village called Blue C Sushi. It was fantastic and I can't wait to go again! The experience alone was worth it! The tables are located along a narrow conveyer belt that surrounds the chefs creating the food. The plate colors determine how much it costs. For instance, the gray plates cost $2.50, the yellow, $3.50, etc. Every colored base has a description of the food and whether it is cooked, vegan, or raw. I never realized how much cooked and vegan sushi there is, so I being with child, could enjoy to my heart's content!
 The food is on small plates with a clear plastic lid so you can see what you are getting. There are definitely plenty of things I can assure you I would NEVER want to try! But there were plenty of things I DID enjoy! I loved it, Craig loved it, and Nathanael loved it....all except the octopus sushi he tried at the end....that's what is on the top plate uneaten. The look on his face says it all. It was funny when we realized at the end that on Nathanael's 13th birthday, we ate 13 plates of food! We had so much fun! We were stuffed and the cost was very reasonable! Well, no birthday dinner is complete without dessert....so we went on over to Vera Pizza on Fremont. They have this amazing dessert called, Mezza Luna. It is a calzone filled with Nutella!! It is served with fresh berries and we ordered vanilla gelato to go with it. Wow! That is soooo delicious!
On our way to the ferry, we hit a bit of traffic and missed it by about five minutes. Craig whispered in my ear a little alternate plan that I thought Nathanael would enjoy. So, we headed to Safeco Field where we bought some tickets to see the Mariners get beat by Texas. Nathanael was pleasantly surprised and said he felt spoiled! Good! Then we succeeded in making his day special!!! We headed out a bit early so we could get the ferry and then enjoyed the ride home. All in all, we had a wonderful day!
While gone, we did receive a call from SCCA on Anna's liver count. It is slightly elevated and so they want her to stop taking her cancer meds. The date set for April 30 for intake is still on at this point. Please pray her counts go down and we can proceed with her transplant! We want Anna better! Thank you all!!

Five Teenagers?!!!!

Nathanael as a little baby....aww!

Our cowboy!
 It's official! I have FIVE teenagers in my home!!!! Is it possible?! Indeed it is, because thirteen years ago today, Nathanael Craig Houston was born into this world! Nathanael is a fun loving, tender spirited, hard working young man. Our lives have been blessed these 13 years. Five teens is the most we will ever have at one time as Naomi will enter her 20s just three days before Michael turns 13. Wow! I remember when Naomi turned 13, I mentioned how quickly everyone else would be catching up until we had five at one time....it has now arrived. I am feeling super blessed at this moment! I LOVE having teens in my home!!!

Nathanael chose biscuits and gravy, bacon, and eggs for breakfast. Lunch will be with Dad and Mom in Seattle, and dinner will be chicken alfredo.

A very Happy Birthday Nathanael! We love you sooooo much!!!!
Fun at the game

What a smile
 We pray you will be used greatly for the things of the Lord! Keep your eyes on Him and let Him guide you all along the way! You are turning out to be a fine young MAN!!! Wow. Thirteen.
A little ornery maybe?

Oh so handsome!

I've Been Tagged?! Thanks!

1. Where is your cell phone? At my side...where I usually keep it. cough cough.
2. Where is your homework? All around me 
3. Your hair color? Brown
4. Your mother? Merry Grogan
5. Your father? crazy...I mean Alan Grogan
6. Your favorite thing? My bed. My pillow. My blankets.....I digress
7. Your dream last night? I really don't remember.
8. Your dream/goal? To keep sane in an insane World!
9. The room you're in? Dining Room
10. Your hobby? What?! Who has time for hobbies???
11. Your fear? That my children will grow bitter toward the things of the Lord.
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Well...NOT in my FORTIES!! Ugh! Okay, I guess I'll have to be. I want to be by my husband's side, continuing to raise our children to God's glory!
13. Where were you last night? Home with a sick baby.
14. What you're not? Perfect......Surprise!
15. One of your wish-list items? A bigger kitchen
16. Where you grew up? Astoria, OR
17. The last thing you did? updated my blog!
18. What are you wearing? I'd rather not say that I'm still in my p.j.'s......
19. Your TV? Vizio
20. Your pets? Golden Retriever, Winston, and a gray tabby, Mittens
21. Your computer? IMac...is there any other?
22. Your mood? silly, tired
23. Missing someone? Nope. Nobody. ;-) hehe.(okay folks, I was KIDDING!)
24. Your car? A glorious FIFTEEN passenger van!!!! (My hotrod!)
25. Something you're not wearing? perfume
26. Favorite store? Amazon PRIME (I can stay home!)
27. Your loves? You mean I'm supposed to have more than ONE?! Okay, Okay, I love my Saviour, my husband, my children, extended family, church family, etc.
28. Love someone? Of course! 
29. Your favorite color? Ummm, NOT orange!
30. When is the last time you laughed? Just now. doing this questionnaire!
31. Last time you cried? I don't know, I cry all the time, I'm pregnant for goodness sake!

On the Home Front....

As you may all see, we updated our family pictures! We are very thankful to Jenny Savage for taking the time to get these done for us before Anna's transplant. We had a ton of fun doing these and decided that March is way better for outdoor pictures than February....about 15 degrees better! I was grateful that the children cooperated so well and we were able to get them done in a relatively short amount of time!

Life has been a bit more on the "normal" side since getting to come back home. Okay, who am I fooling anyway? What is normal? Does normal even exist? I think that normal is just a fantasy of what our ideal life should be. So, let me start over..... life has been the same amount of busy, craziness, and interruptions as we have come to expect in our home. Oye, that doesn't sound very appealing or romantic does it? Just real. I mean what do you expect with a Dad who is a full time Pastor, a mom who is pregnant with baby number 12 and sicker than EVER, four teenagers, two pre-teens, four little kids, and one very rambunctious toddler?!! Oh I know, that toddler in the picture looks like an ANGEL doesn't she? She is sooooo adorable and sweet! And rambunctious, mischievous, ornery....you get the picture! What can I say, we have tons of fun with this crew and all 13 personalities in our home! It definitely creates a perfect place for the sanctifying work of our Heavenly Father for each of us and I wouldn't change a thing about it!

I mentioned that I am sicker than I have ever been with any of our babies. I am quite familiar with "morning sickness" and this has been much much more! It was bad enough for me to call my doctor for a prescription of Zofran. This has helped considerably! I now feel like I have regular morning sickness rather than "I'm going to die right here, right now" sickness. It is amazing that a little kumquat sized person can be the cause of such terrible sickness and the zapping of all of my energy! Maybe I'm just getting old, maybe I'm just becoming a wimp, who knows. Maybe the stress of life lately has a bit to do with the extreme difference? =) Anyway, it really doesn't matter, as this baby is worth it all! It never ceases to amaze me at how quickly a baby is formed....with every intricate detail in place, being made in the secret parts as the Bible says. At just ten weeks, our baby's vital organs are functioning! His or her little toes and fingers are already beginning to form nails and peach-fuzz hair is beginning to grow on the skin! I am looking forward to our first ultra sound when we will get a little "peek" at this new little life. I finally got a call from my OB's office to schedule our first appointment. I explained that I literally found out I was expecting the day before we found out we had less than two weeks until Anna's intake, and then after the two weeks of intake having the delay meant that I could actually schedule an appointment for me. Unfortunately, they didn't have an open slot until the 29th of this month....the day before intake begins again. I told them I just didn't think I could make it then. I have now been advised to find someone in Seattle who could see me for the months that we live in Seattle and then transfer back here when we are back. This sounds fun, but I'll talk with my husband and see what he says. No decision has been made. At this point, I am scheduled for an ultra sound for the 17th~ the week we are moving!

Yes, I said MOVING! As many of our dear church family already knows, we have found a house! Not only have we found a house, but the owner is actually willing to rent it to us (and he knows how many children we have)!! The six bedroom house I mentioned in an earlier post fell through (that's ok with me, it needed a lot of work). This is a 5 bedroom split-level house that is only 4 1/2 miles from Children's hospital. And it is move in ready! Very clean with a fenced in back yard! The house also has THREE bathrooms! Oh the bliss! Oh the joy! Oh how we may come to get used to this luxury! ;-) But then again, three bathrooms to USE means three bathrooms to CLEAN! Okay, we can learn to be content no matter how many bathrooms we have, at least we have a bathroom INSIDE our home! We are all very excited to get this opportunity! We are over joyed that God would provide us with a clean place to be together! Our 3 year old, Zeke, was ecstatic when I explained to him that us moving meant that mommy and daddy wouldn't have to leave them all home while coming back and forth! There is a relief that has washed over our entire family. This doesn't mean there won't be struggles with the schedule and balancing between Anna and the rest of the children, but it should be minimal.

Again, we thank you all for the love and support that you offer! We feel the prayers going up on our behalf and we are humbled by the donations and other helps that have been sent our way. We trust God to provide for us as needs arise! We know that God's plan for our lives may look different to us than what we might have thought it should, but His ways are higher than our ways! Any and all little (or big) bends in the road, "inconvenient" obstacles, every bump along the path, is there for God's glory! May we each remember this and take it to heart throughout life! God bless you all!

Delayed, again

On Monday, March 25, I headed back over to Seattle for another rigorous week of classes and appointments. I got on the 6:45 P.M. ferry and had this fantastic view of the sunset! We do live in a beautiful place! Upon arrival, Daniel met me to walk me to the vehicle. We then took off, Craig asked me what kind of food sounded good for dinner. I know he asked me because of how sick I've been, but I just didn't care. So, Anna hinted at wanting Mexican food and we all agreed. After taking a wrong exit, we went to turn around. As we turned into a parking lot to make that turn around, we realized that it was what we were looking for! We asked some people who were coming out of the restaurant how the food was and how clean it was, explaining that we must have clean for our daughter and why. They said they have been going to Mr. Villa for eight years and love it! So, we went in and ordered. The food was FABULOUS!!! Everything is made fresh daily, even the tortillas! They happened to have a small group singing that night and Craig went up to them between songs. After a bit of time, they announced that they would be singing a special song requested and dedicated to Anna Houston. They said that they would wait until after the song to tell everyone why. Of course, this put tears in my eyes as often happens with me these days! Upon finishing our meal, the owner of the restaurant came to us and said that the couple who were sitting across from us had paid for our meal! Again, tears. And the owner had sopaipillas made up for us to enjoy! It was a great evening!

Anna's appointments were generally early in the day and ended around lunch time. The classes were a bit overwhelming as we learned how to care for Anna after her transplant. She will be taking immune suppressant meds and will need extra care for a whole year. We learned how to prepare her food as well as how to physically care for her. Craig went on home after a couple days to get some work done and spend a bit of time with our other children. Meanwhile, I took Anna to her appointments and then we hung out. Anna and Daniel enjoyed the basketball court down the street from the Ronald McDonald House. The fresh air was refreshing and the exercise great!

Thursday we had an appointment with the G.I. doctor. He is a specialist on the liver. Back in January, I started noticing Anna's eyes were looking a bit yellow. This concerned me because the meds she was on can cause liver damage, so I called and asked for her liver to be checked. It turned out that her bilirubin and liver enzymes were both considerably elevated. However, her ultrasound showed a normal looking liver, for which we were relieved. Well, fast forward to Thursday's appointment, and Dr. Macdonald said that that week was the first week since January that her liver numbers were in the normal range. He was pleased to see the numbers going down, but wanted to see good numbers for a few weeks before subjecting her to the liver damaging chemo. We were a bit discouraged but knew that we would find out for sure the next day what was going to happen when we met with our transplant team doc, Dr. Woolfrey. Friday's meeting went well. Anna looks really good! Her body is in great shape for transplant, but we need to wait and let her liver "cool down" a bit. The Gleevec and Nilotinib caused some liver damage, but her liver was repairing itself and as her Dasatinib is working well to beat down the cancer cells, we have the time to wait. Going into conditioning (chemo) now would put Anna at too high a risk for liver failure, and once we begin, there is no turning back. Again, we were a bit discouraged as this process has been stop and go from the beginning, but we do know and rest in the knowledge that this is all in God's timing, not ours. So with this news, our next appointment was cancelled and we were free to go home, until April 30 when we will begin intake all over again. This time won't be as long as we don't need to retake all the classes, but there will be plenty of blood work to be done! We do still need to go in for weekly blood draws and checks until then and will probably be seeing Dr. Irwin for that.

We have been looking at all of the positives that this delay has for us: We ALL got to go home and be together as a family, we ALL got to go to church on Easter Sunday, I should be getting over my "all day" sickness by the time she is going through chemo, and Anna will get to start out in a new room rather than start in an old room and be transferred half way through, Dr. Woolfrey will be the attending doctor while Anna is at Children's (the docs have a rotation and this will be her turn!). We know that God has a plan and a purpose for everything. And we are thankful for a bit of extra time together before everything begins.....

Please pray for our housing situation. There is a possibility of a six bedroom house for us to rent. The owner desires to lease it to us from April to August. And then he plans to try selling it. It is unfurnished, so we will need to move some of our things over, and the house needs a little bit of elbow grease to be ready for us. We are seeking the Lord's direction in this as we desire to keep our family as close as possible during this four + month journey. Thank you all for your continued love, support, and prayers! We are humbled by everyone's desire to be a blessing to our entire family!!!