Tuesday, April 25, 2006



On Sunday, we collected ourselves and returned home from various points beyond.  Erin packed in the fun at Mo Ranch, including a sled ride down the 38 foot slide into the Guadalupe River on Saturday afternoon.  Afterwards, she said it was not the scariest thing she had ever done, and in my heart I knew she spoke the truth.  We spent most of the daylight hours outside--swimming, horse-back riding or just kicking around--but in the evenings we matched the fun level playing games and visiting in the Guest Lodge where we stayed (I can't say where we slept, since we actually didn't get much sleep in).  Apparently, Davis had even less sleep than we did, as he reported that he had the FULL college experience at Owl Weekend.

Erin went to school for half a day before we left on Friday.  We couldn't leave earlier because of the awards ceremony at her school.  Erin received an award for Outstanding Accomplishments in PE and proudly grabbed her award, shook hands with the principal, smiled for the camera, and took a seat on the stage with Walter.  She cheered wildly when both Nico and Jesse received awards for great writing from their 3rd Grade Teacher, the marvelous Mrs. Jennifer Steen.  What she didn't know was that she was receiving a second award, one that took Mrs. Steen quite a long time to describe.  You see it saluted her great reading (she has accumulated more Accelerated Reader points than anyone else in her grade) and writing skills, her across-the-board academic accomplishments (all A's, every subject, every six weeks), and a special E.R.I.N. Recognition for her Energy, Responsibility, Integrity, and Never-Flagging Enthusiasm.   What an amazing thing to have a teacher recognize the wonderful things in your child that you see!

As long as I'm on a roll with this update, let me share another jaw-dropping, unbelievable wonderful thing that is happening to our family (after Erin was diagnosed, I never knew how many times each day I  would step back and think how lucky I was).  A pair of anonymous benefactors (a couple from our church) wanted to do something for our whole family.  So, Vickie, you just won the Super Bowl (or something), where are you going?  To Disney World.  We leave on May 22 and will get back on the 26th, just in time for Davis's graduation on the 27th.  This is a first for us, and you can not really imagine how excited Erin is (especially since we are capturing Nico and taking him along. . .generous, yes, but also self-interested.  He will join Erin on all the fast rides and roller coasters that no one else in the family will have anything to do with).  We are humbled and awed by this excessively gracious offer.   If our trip angel is reading this, Thank You.  We will take pictures, so you can see the blissful smiles on our faces.

Friday, April 21, 2006


The Buengers are headed in three different directions this weekend.  In a couple of hours, I'm driving Davis to Houston for Owl Weekend.  This is not birdwatching, per se (though I suspect he will keep his eye out for interesting chicks), but rather an orientation weekend at Rice.  Davis will get to attend class, go to mixers, and take advantage of college stuff.  I hope to make it back for Erin's softball game this evening.  Tomorrow, she and I will pack up and head west, past Austin, past Kerrville, past Hunt, to Mo Ranch for a weekend retreat and plunge in to the Guadalupe River (Brrrr, I'm shivering just thinking about it.).  Walter will pick Davis up on Saturday, but in the meantime is guarding the homestead.  Tough duty, the bulk of which entails him making sure that Willie gets enough exercise that he doesn't rip the fabric off the sofa when no one is watching.  Walter also has Luke-nursing duty.  That's right, the $6 million dog has once again raised the bar.  He has an ear hematoma, which will probably require surgery on Monday (why didn't I buy dog health insurance when I had the chance?).

Erin's oral chemo continues to amaze us.  Her counts this morning (Day 11 of 21) were all in the normal range:  

WBC:  4.7
ANC:  3.3
HBG:  13.5 (Wow, I need to make sure she gets some exercise before sticking her in the car for five hours tomorrow.)
PLT:  261

Everything else is rocking along smoothly.  Easter was blessed at our house.  Davis gave the sermon at the sunrise service and really spoke from the heart.  We beamed with pride from the second row.  Easter egg hunting was still popular (who's surprised?), and the Luquette sister weekend was less mapcap than usual.

The week, since then, has progressed fairly peacefully.  I am still in the midst of grading (but making daily progress).  Erin's softball is about half way through.  Davis started work last week and hates the tedium of it already (I hope he remembers that when it comes time to choose between studying and partying next fall).  Walter is wrapping up the term and hoping to avoid extraneous meetings.   My Uncle John breezed into town for his 50th class reunion festivities at A&M, and it was great to catch up with him even if the visit was brief. 

Talk to you all real soon!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Normal Every Day Stuff


Erin's Relay for Life Team is really gearing up.  They are still collecting cans and have sponsored three Hat Days at Mary Branch, where students pay (a quarter for themselves or $5 for their whole class) for the privilege of wearing a hat all day at school.  Since hats are usually verboten, the response to this opportunity has been quite thunderous.

Relay is on the last Friday of April (two weeks from tomorrow).   Part of the event is a luminary ceremony.  Anyone in the community can buy a luminary for a donation of at least $5 In Honor Of or In Memory Of someone who has or had cancer.  During the ceremony, the lights are extinguished, except for the candles in the luminaries.  All the Relay participants walk laps around the track, while an announcer speaks the names of the survivors and angels being honored.

I have luminaries available for you to buy for anyone in your life who has met cancer face-to-face.  Let me know, and I will get the bag(s) to you so you can decorate them if you would like.

In other news, Erin continues to prosper on this regimen.  Her counts yesterday were all in the normal range, and she no longer has to wear a jacket everyday to keep warm.  She is thrilled that Aunt Kat and Emma have arranged their schedule for a full week visit.  Aunt Elisabeth and Annabelle will arrive on Friday for the full-blown extravaganza.  Davis celebrated his birthday in style with a dinner on Monday night, a cake on Tuesday, and gift opening continuing as the week progresses.  The only downer was that he got notice to register for the selective service in the mail yesterday.   Aack!  I'll have to pay even closer attention to that crazy president of ours and make sure he doesn't start (another) war that would require a military man-power build up.  Walter may be reaching the end of his recruiting season.  Willie, Luke, and Uma are figuring out how to live and let live.  Me?  I'm in the April grading jag.  Two more weeks of classes, then finals.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wait! Wait!


Happy Birthday, Davis.  I still remember clearly, the evening eighteen years ago, when the nurses took me into a little exam room (we had reserved the birthing suite, but didn't have time for the staff to set it up).  They kept saying "Wait.  Wait.  Dr. Montgomery will be here is just a minute."  They were shoving carts of instruments around the room and generally looking quite busy.  You wouldn't wait.  And so, there you were wrapped in a little blanket, staring up at me, just forty-five minutes after we pulled up to the ER.  Your dad barely made it back in time from moving the car out of the ambulance lane to witness your arrival.  We adored you at that moment and every moment since. 

Monday, April 3, 2006

Willie and Other Delights


We have settled on a name for the puppy:  Willie (short for Will Rice, where Davis will live next fall, which is short for William Marsh Rice).  This moniker opens up all kinds of possibilities for fun.   It started out as a continued plea from the kids:  "Willie (get it?  Will he?) stay or willie go?"  Now that we've settled that question, we have gone on to other versions.  When he's bad on the carpet we can call him Wee Wee or say "Whoopsie Willie."  When he does something clever (we're still waiting) he's Slick Willie.  When he insists on NOT COMING when we call, we sing "Little Willie, Willie won't (pause) go home, but you can't push Willie round, Willie won't go."  (For those more youthful types, this is a lyric from a smarmy pop song from decades ago. . .probably a one hit wonder.)  Erin, by the way, isn't really in the spirit.  She insists on the more formal "William" most of the time, even when he is not in trouble.   I think she was holding out for "Jo Jo," which had possibilities, or "Brownie," favored by my mother on the premises that we could always have a laugh when we stared down at a Willie mess and said "Heckuva job, Brownie!"

Erin has clinic in Houston this afternoon.  Hopefully, it will be a quick in and out, with everyone remarking on her vibrant health and rosie cheeks.  Her counts last week during the third week of round three all hit in the normal range which is quite a blessing.  We're hoping for the same today. 

Like Erin, we have all been exceptionally well the last week.  Davis's high school soccer career came to an end last Tuesday in a lop-sided loss to The Woodlands in bi-district.  Bryan high's loss is my gain.  Since he no longer has to attend soccer practice OR soccer class, he is coming home early this afternoon to mow my lawn!  Hey, what a deal.  Word on the street is that he is going to use his new found time to start his summer job early. 

The Panther's also took the field last week.  Erin again had a great time and played her little heart out, in an exciting(?) 18-15 loss.  She was behind the plate for two innings (the whole game only last three innings) and opined that she might wait to play catcher again until she grew a little.  I think the equipment weighed her down more than she expected. 

The adult units of the Buenger household adjusted quickly to the free Friday evening (first one in 2006).  We enlisted Nico to entertain Erin and spend the night, and of course, Davis was soaking in the freedom of an unencumbered schedule, as well.  We made our leisurely way out to the deck with our refreshments, enjoyed the warm breeze rippling the recently leafed out trees, and wrapped ourselves in the sunset.  I think you'll be able to find us there regularly on Friday evenings, from now until further notice.  Come on over.  The dogs will bark a warning to let us know you've arrived.  Otherwise, don't expect us to get up.

Thanks for the support with the aluminum cans.  Erin is still collecting cans and will be for the whole month.  We really like this kind of fundraising because it has double benefits:  raising money for cancer research and getting cans out of the landfill and into the recycling process.  If you wouldn't be comfortable with Erin taking the kind of cans you accumulate up to her school, you can always take them to the Finfeather recycling center yourself, and donate the money you earn.  If you are virtuous and don't drink beverages that come in aluminum cans, but would like to support Erin's Relay for Life team, you can make a direct contribution.  I feel sure that the Honoraria and Memorial Luminaria that many of you bought last year will be available again.  I just don't have the specific information yet.

As always, we appreciate all the big hearted ways you support us and the cancer cause.  These feelings are especially important to lift us up in good times and not-so-good times.  This weekend, three children in the neuroblastoma world died.  We did not know any of them personally, but Nick Snow fought the disease for seven years, pioneering all sorts of treatment options, before he became disease-free in 2002.  In the end he died of severe pancreatitis and complications from a perforated bowel, both conditions probably stemming from the heavy treatment he endured.  Another younger boy from Florida, Cameron, also died.  His parent's web site will really make you think about what it means to be a neuroblastoma warrior.