Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day +966: So Much to be Thankful For!

It's day +966 and we just wanted to send out a quick Happy Thanksgiving note to all of you!  We have so much to be grateful for this year...we are overwhelmed with gratitude!  At Max's most recent bi-monthly appointment last Friday, we received exceptionally good news from Dr. Davies.  She has begun the wean of Max's cyclosporine!  You may know that Matt and I have been anxious about this for some time and have taken her advice to be patient and wait for the right time. Apparently, to our surprise, this is it!! The road ahead is still unknown but, Dr. Davies assured us that she does not anticipate that we will see issues with the wean. It will be very, very slow. We will go down 0.2 ml every 2 months and watch his progress. If all goes smoothly, he should be done with it within about 18 months. A long time but, fabulous news. There may be points where we have to pause for longer than 2 months and watch things for a bit and there may even be times when we need to go back up on the dose for a bit. But, no matter what, this is progress...real progress for Max.

It is awesome and truly miraculous for us to be able to imagine a future for Max without cyclosporine, with immunizations and with good health again. This latest step is taking us in that direction. We are beginning to "tie the bow" on the top of the BMT package.

Thus, as we head in to Thanksgiving, we are filled with immense gratitude.  Our Max is continuing to make fabulous progress, we are all together to celebrate and relax on this wonderful holiday and life is just beyond great!

I read something recently from one of the support organizations that we have found to be extremely helpful over the past few years,  It was written by their founder, a 22-year transplant survivor and was called "From Hope, Springs Life".  I found it to be very profound and thought I'd share it with all of you:

It started with Hope. Hope that a bone marrow, stem cell or cord blood transplant could conquer a life-threatening disease. 

Then came Courage. The Courage to undergo one of the most difficult medical procedures imaginable.

And finally, for so many, new Life. A Life full of opportunity to enjoy more precious days with family and see your child thrive, to kiss a new grandchild, to grow old together with someone you love.

This is the promise of transplant.

Pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

We are all so excited for tomorrow!  The boys are mostly looking forward to their Turkey Bowl with all of the Meyer cousins and uncles at Turpin High School's football field.  I am greatly looking forward to sharing our gratitude by giving back to the families of the Cancer & Blood Diseases Institute with a Max's Meals Thanksgiving Luncheon tomorrow.  We are all looking forward to spending time together relaxing and enjoying the blessing of family.  And to top all of this off, my brother, Mike and his wife, Heidi just welcomed their third child into the family this morning!  We are thrilled to have a new neice and Sherwin family member and can't wait to meet her down in Morgantown, West Virginia soon!  Another Thanksgiving blessing!

We are grateful to all of you for your continued support and love and wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Peace and love,
Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day +942: Caught up in life!!

It's day +942 and I am finally getting around to blogging!  It's been over 2 months since my last blog, primarily because we have just been so, so busy enjoying life and living it up!!  Max continues to do very well and is really enjoying 4th grade and gearing up for basketball season!!  The pace of our lives around the Meyer house has gone from about 0 to 60 in a relatively short amount of time and we are all trying to keep up, although we are beyond grateful to be so busy and able to enjoy life once again.

Fourth grade has been quite challenging for Max, as I have heard it is for many of the kids.  At his school, Wilson, 4th grade is the first step into the secondary part of elementary school.  I had no idea what that meant before now but, we are sure learning!  Essentially, it means multiple subjects each day with multiple teachers and multitudes of homework!!  Lots of projects, big tests and much more time spent on school work than ever before.  We spend at least an hour to two hours every weeknight evening working with Max on homework.  He is additionally challenged in that he is still making up for lost time for sure.  Being home school for 18 months while you are sick just is not the same as actually attending school with your peers for the same amount of time.  But, he is making great progress and really beginning to get the hang of 4th grade.

Alex is doing fabulously in 1st grade, although the transition to being there all day, 5 days a week has been difficult for him.  He did really well for about the first 4 weeks and then, all of a sudden, he started having little melt downs and wishing he didn't have to go to school everyday!  We think it set in at that point that he had to do this now 5 days a week!  Always a hard reality to accept, especially when you couldn't leave home just a year and a half ago!  But, he is now finding his way again and getting more comfortable with the whole routine. 

Ellee is loving preschool!  She goes three mornings a week and has made lots of new friends at school.  She is a little social butterfuly these days and is really growing up!  Ellee just celebrated her 4th birthday last Monday and Alex celebrated his 7th birthday on October 13th.  Hard to believe!!  There are lots of pictures from both available in the fall album at the right side of the blog page if you'd like to check them out.  And, speaking of birthdays, Max's 10th birthday is coming up on December 26th, followed by his day +1000 on December 27th!!!!  Now is that cause for celebration or what???  We are planning a very special family shin-dig and going all out with all the cousins at the Great Wolf Lodge!!!

Being back at work for me has been great so far.  I recently went up to 20 hours or two days a week in the office and I am really enjoying having a little piece of "me" back in our lives.  Overall, the kids are doing well with it too.  We have had some rough spots along the way - a couple of my work days where the boys nerves caught up with them or something and they were "sick" but, seemed to feel much better about an hour after I said that I would stay home with them.  :)  But, given everything we have been through as a family over the past couple of years, that is to be expected.  This fall has really been huge leaps back to reality in comparison with where we have been the past few years so, some rough spots is nothing!

Matt and I actually got to get away in September for a weekend, which was really nice.  We went to Atlanta to a bone marrow transplant survivorship seminar and it was beyond fantastic!  There were probably about 500 attendees, all of them either transplant survivors themselves or caregivers/family members.  It was so amazing to be in a room of that many people and to realize that they had all experienced something similar to what Max and our family have experienced.  I shed many a tear at that awesome realization.  Without modern medicine, that room would not have been filled...and now, we are moving far beyond just surviving.  The objective of the conference was to teach survivors how to not just survive but, to thrive beyond transplant.  It was so educational and inspiring for Matt and I.  Unfortunately, they do not have a parallel session for pediatric patients yet so, we did not bring Max along.  We knew he would be extremely bored and were glad that we had not brought him.  We are hoping they will add a session like this in the future so that he too can come and experience the comraderie and shared brotherhood that we did.

There were about 15 other pediatric parents/couples at the conference along with us and we really enjoyed getting to know many of them and sharing our journeys.  We came away with three main areas of concern that we wanted to explore more deeply with Max's caregivers and we have since been doing that.  We learned that some of the chemotherapy that Max received has been shown to cause hypothyroidism and some brain damage that can lead to learning and behavioral problems.  That was obviously a difficult thing for us to learn as we had no idea when we administered it to Max but, we also had no choice at the time.  That is why research is so find new chemos with less side effects that still accomplish the same goal.  So, we have been working with an endocrinologist over the past month or so and, although Max's thyroid gland appears to be working as it should, we discovered that he has not been growing like he should for about the past 10 months.  At this point, we are increasing his caloric intake in hopes that will give his body an extra boost to get growing and also testing him for a few other food allergy type issues.  Obviously, this is very important as we know that Max is going to be very small already, based on genetics.  We certainly don't want him to be any smaller than he is already predisposed to be!  We are also waiting to have him neuro-psych tested to see if there has been any damage to his brain that may cause him to have some special learning problems that we can put plans in place to help him with.

The other major thing that has been going on this fall was the Walk for Children's Hospital on October 15th.  We ended up having an absolutely gorgeous fall day and a fabulous turnout and are proud to say that, thanks to our wonderful support community, we were able to raise over $10,000 for Dr. Davies bone marrow failure and pediatric cancer research!  That brings our three year total to over $30,000!!!  We are thrilled to be able to provide this much funding to help future children through cancer and/or the bone marrow transplant process and into survivorship!  Additionally, we had a ball again at the Walk, watching Max and all the kids enjoy the day and were very blessed to have our dear friend, Lynn Merk, join us.  We know it was a very difficult thing for her to be there, remembering how much Tony loved being there and we were so honored that she came and that we were able to raise money for research in his memory.  There are lots of pictures available at the link on the right side of the blog page if you'd like to check them out.

Max's Meals has continued serving as usual!  We are actually about to head out for our Halloween luncheon in just a few hours here today!  Additionally, we have been providing cakes and balloons for months now to patients celebrating their birthday while in the hospital and have a Dairy Queen ice cream cake delivery this coming Tuesday for a young man going through bone marrow transplant that is turning 18 that day!  We are now working on extending this offerring to include a full meal, along with the cake, for the entire family and are also planning to offer cakes or cookies to help patients have a "Cell"abration on their bone marrow transplant day (aka Cell Day).  Serving in these ways has brought lots of joy to all of us and is always a wonderful reminder of where we have all been and what is truly important.  We appreciate all of the support that all of you have provided to continue to make Max's Meals a reality.

Obviously, life is busy and full of great moments around the Meyer homestead!  Not a minute goes by that we are not eternally grateful for how well Max is doing.  Thank you all for continuing to follow along with us on this journey and for your unending love and support.  More soon...or maybe not so soon as I can take time to stop enjoying life with my family and write!!!  :)

Peace and love,
Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day +878: Sensational Summer & the Start of School

It's day +878 for Max and things continue to be good for him, although he is spending his Saturday morning up in bed.  Things have caught up with him a bit this morning and he is just exhausted.  We've had another big week.  School started on Wednesday for Max and Alex - Max in 4th grade and Alex in 1st.  They have both done extremely well!  In fact, my biggest worry has really been Alex this week since this is his first experience with going to school all day, five days a week.  Max did amazingly well.  He was actually so excited about school starting that he has been bouncing off the walls a bit all week, driving Matt and I a bit crazy, although we are THRILLED to see him so happy.  It's worth all the crazy, over-excited behavior to see him so elated to be back at school. 

Alex has handled things well too, although he is definitely going through a big adjustment.  I helped with the first grade lunch time on Wednesday and Alex did look quite a bit like a deer in headlights throughout lunch.  Poor little guy!!  Entry into the real world through 1st grade really is quite a shocker for the kids, I think.  By yesterday, Friday, he seemed to be getting more into the groove already, though and I suspect by the end of next week, he'll be doing just fine.  No tears so far, which I am extremely grateful for.  He did ask me one day last week, in nervous anticipation of his first day, "mom, if you cry, do you have to go to school?"  Sweetest thing. 

Ellee is very anxious about her school starting, given that her big brothers are back now.  She will be going to three mornings of preschool and has been telling everyone lately, "I start after Labor Days."  She definitely misses her brothers when they are gone but, we keep ourselves quite busy with one thing or another and the time seems to fly by so far.

Work for me has gone even better than I could have hoped for.  The adjustment for everyone has seemed pretty smooth thus far.  The kids did wonderfully over the summer since they got to spend the one day that I am in the office right now with their Aunt Molly and cousins Andrew and Jacob.  They had a ball every day they were with them and that really helped them get re-adjusted to me not being with them every minute.  Now that school is back in session, my wonderful neighbor, Karen is watching Ellee for me when I go into the office and getting the boys off the bus and watching all three of them for about 2 hours before Matt or I get them.  Ellee and Karen had their first full day together on Thursday and had a ball.  They played like crazy, swam and just enjoyed each other.  Again, things went better than I could have wished for.  She got the boys off of the bus after school and everyone did fantastically.  We are so blessed to have Karen watching the kids.  As she and I talked later that night, we agreed that things are just falling into place like they were meant to be this way.  So far, going back to work at GE has been wonderful for me and the entire family.  I will be upping my hours to my former 20/week at the end of September so, I am optimistic that things will continue to go as smoothly as they have so far.  I am truly blessed.

Speaking of blessed - we had a sensational summer!  It was our first "normal" summer in three years and we made the absolute most of it!  We spent tons of time at our swim club; made a trip to Kings Island courtesy of a wonderful group, the Dragonfly Foundation; spent a day at Coney Island (the worlds largest re-circulating pool and amusement park here in Cincy) with our cousins and Aunts; attended multiple sports camps (XU basketball, Marvin Lewis football, Jay Bruce baseball); rode scooters and bikes at the local skatepark and our favorite indoor skatepark, Ollies; went to Reds games; went to cousin Jimmy's wedding in Kentucky; and had a fantastic family vacation with the Sherwin side in Canaan Valley, West Virginia!!!  We were busy and enjoyed every single minute of it!  I have included some photo album links on the right side of the blog page which have lots of pictures from all this fun in them if you are interested.  It's no wonder that I have not blogged in almost two months!!!  We've just been having too much fun!

As things are settling down a bit with the start of school, we are beginning to put our Max's Mighty Mob team together for the Cincy Walk for Kids event to benefit Children's Hospital on Saturday, October 15th at Coney Island.  We are honored to have been selected to be one of the featured walk teams this year so, if you received a Walk registration packet, you saw our picture and story inside.  There will also be another article in the For the Children magazine that the Hospital produces coming out soon and there is a story on their website as well at the following link:  We would love to have all of you join us for the Walk or support us with a donation, if possible.  You can do either one by visiting the Max's Mighty Mob page at  Hope to see you there!  We are also planning a garage sale fundraiser soon and will have more details on that event shortly.

Max's Meals has also continued to keep us busy this summer.  In addition to Mother's Day, Father's Day, Fourth of July and Just Because meals for the families of the Cancer & Blood Diseases Institue (CBDI), we also served three meals (one per month) to the families staying at the Ronald McDonald House and provided two catered meals to the campers of CBDIs special summer camp.  We loved doing all of this and have gotten more and more people involved in serving these meals with us!  Our small but mighty team of fundraiser planners has begun meeting about our event for next spring and we should have more details coming about that soon also.

As you can imagine from reading all this, we are all on cloud 9.  Life is good, really good!  Given our journey with Max and all that we have experienced, we could not be appreciating all of these blessings of good health, wonderful family and friends, and fun times more.  We are all living every moment to its fullest and loving life!  We now know all too well how quickly things can change and how important it is to live for today.

Thanks for continuing to check in on us and for your continued thoughts and prayers.  More soon...

Peace and love,
Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day +829: The Circle of Life

It's day +829 for our Max-Man and he is doing wonderfully.  We just couldn't wait to share some good news with all of you today...our new neice and cousin, Mallory Elizabeth McGough arrived yesterday afternoon to proud parents, Matt's youngest sister, Sarah and her husband, Ryan. 

The circle of life has never been more present in our lives.  In the midst of mourning for Tony and grieving with our dear friends, the Merks, we welcome Mallory into the world.  Life is precious.  Never have we known that more.

More soon...

Peace and love,
Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day +828: Heavy Hearts

Today is day +828 for Max and although he continues to do well, the Meyer house has been filled with heavy hearts this week. Our dear friend, Tony Merk, went to be with Jesus on Monday evening after a 2 year and 8 month battle against brain and spine cancer. He was just 6 years old.
I sat at the pool watching my three precious children swim on Wednesday, surrounded by healthy, young children and I couldn't help but think about Tony and his family. As I sat there, I felt like I lived in two different worlds - one where children and families are healthy and happy and another where they are not. Over the past 2 1/2 + years of Max's journey, we have seen so much heartbreak through the loss of so many children - Andrew, Matthew, Ethan, Kenna, Natalie, Jerrod, Troy. It is so sad and so unfair. There is not one positive thing about losing a child.

We have also seen multiple miracles through Max's journey, including his very own. Kids that have been healed and restored to good health from the brink of death. It's difficult to understand why some children, like Max, receive this blessing while others do not. I have thought about that often and decided just to be grateful for Max's health at this moment.

Later today, Matt, Max and I will head to Tony's visitation and tomorrow morning, his funeral. As I'm sure you can imagine, these will be extremely difficult experiences but, we wouldn't miss them for the world. We love the Merks and loved Tony and want to be there for them during this tough time. Max has been very impacted by Tony's passing and very much wants to be a part of celebrating his life and supporting his family. I am proud of him for doing this and know he is learning valuable life lessons by being there.

Our hearts are filled with sorrow for Tony's parents, our dear friends, Lynne and Rick and for their sons Alex, Ben and Max. Life without Tony physically here on earth will be difficult for all of them. They are an amazing family and are doing their best to embrace this new journey that lies ahead. We know they have a hole in their hearts and will forever ache for their son but that they are comforted knowing that he is looking down from above with Jesus and forever with them in spirit.

For Tony and for all of the children that we have known and lost to cancer and other blood diseases over the past 2 1/2 + years, we are going to honor them by treasuring every moment of our lives together. After all, that is the greatest lesson that we have learned throughout this journey - live in the moment and treasure it. Life is a gift and good health is a blessing. Don't forget it.

Peace and love,
Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day +818: Some Leaps

Today is day +818 for Max and he continues to do well. We have not been back to the hospital to see Dr. Davies or have a CBC/labs drawn since my last post and I believe that is a first!!! An entire month, hospital free!!! Wow! Progress. We are now on an every-other-month schedule so we don't even have to go down until July 22nd! It's wonderful in so many ways and scary in so many other ways!

I wanted to write tonight because there have been some neat things going on in our lives and I truly feel like we have been taking some leaps lately. By that I mean that we have been baby stepping back into reality for over a year now, taking things one small step at a time, adding in more and more activities, more and more reality, little by little. But, suddenly, we are beginning to make some bigger steps, some leaps, and it is pretty exciting. It's also pretty scary and I have to admit that I have been full of emotions lately. But, onto the leaps...

Last week, Max and Alex spent 28 hours playing basketball with Xavier University coaches and players!!! Yes, you read that right...28 hours!! They attended the REAL XU basketball camp. Last year, you may remember, they went to the Little Dribblers XU camp which was only one half day long. They loved it and have been asking me about attending the real four day, all day camp this summer ever since. So, Matt and I thought about it a lot and decided to go for it. We were concerned about Max's stamina...I mean, it was 7 hours of basketball every day for four days in a row! To me, that seemed like a lot for a kid that didn't have a bone marrow transplant two years ago! We were also concerned about little Alex since he hasn't been away from us all day yet, given that his kindergarten was only a half day this past school year. But, we knew that the two of them would be together and that it was XU basketball, their passion. Given that, we knew they would persevere! And they sure did! They LOVED it!

Each morning when I dropped them off, Ellee and I would stay for a while to be sure they were settled in (in fact, we were usually the last parents to leave). The boys never looked back...I don't even think that they knew that we were still there each morning! They both quickly made new friends on their teams and got to know their coaches and played their hearts out. The highlight of the camp was the first evening, Monday, when I came to pick them up. Alex was the very first camper choosen as "Camper of the Day", an honor bestowed on the hardest working, most enthusiastic and cooperative camper in each age group, each day. He got to play a game they called "Go For It" where he had to make baskets from different shot lines, deciding whether to move on and "go for" more prizes each time he made a shot or stop and keep what he had already won. He ended up going all the way and sinking all three of his shots to win ALL the prizes!! The campers all cheered "you the man, Alex" and he was all smiles! It was fantastic to see him get the kind of recognition and self-esteem boost that he so deserves!!

So, onto the leap part of this camp experience. For myself (and Matt) this was HUGE! We have left Max at school all day, obviously, but only after extensive conversations with his teacher and the administrators at his school about where things stood with him, what should be done in an emergency, etc. In this camp situation, I pushed things at the beginning of the week to be sure they knew Max's history and his current status and that someone would be watching over him each day but, that was it! I had to leave him with people that I did not know and that did not know him well at all. It was scary and each day, to be honest, I couldn't wait to get there and pick them up, just to know that they were alright. I had to tell myself many times each day that I need to do this, I need to let him go, I need to let him have his life back. But, it was hard. It was a leap for all of us!

Now for the other big leap that we have coming up - I am returning to work at GE. It's been over 2 1/2 years since I left there, essentially overnight, to attend to Max's medical situation. They were extremely gracious to me and left me on a leave of absence for almost 2 years of this time, not even filling my position. You may remember that last fall, GE called, asking if I was ready to return for my 20 hour/week job and, in honesty, I said that we just weren't ready yet, that we didn't know what the school year was going to bring for Max and that we just needed more time. I knew that I could not commit at that point to something outside the house. Thus, last fall we officially parted ways and my job was posted.

However, in March, my former co-worker, now the person running the Ecomagination team in Marketing that I had left, called. They had not been able to fill my position and he wanted me to come back. He told me that they were willing to offer me whatever flexibility that I needed to make it work to return. Woah!! I was awe-struck. I had just settled into the idea of being focused on home here for awhile and, all of a sudden, this opportunity. So, Matt and I took quite a bit of time to think it through and ultimately I decided to "go for it". I feel it's an opportunity that I cannot refuse. I loved working at GE for over 13 years in the past, especially at the Eco job I had left. I was finally following one of my personal passions in my work, learning lots about what was going on in the eco world and how GE, a maker of aircraft engines, was adapting to it. It was extremely flexible before and they were offering to make it even more so if I needed, to make it work.

So, July 18th, I will be heading back to GE, part-time, to my Ecomagination Marketing Program Manager role. I'm starting back very slowly for all of our sakes. I'll be working just 10 hours a week, 1 day in the office and the rest from home, through the summer and late into September. Once the boys are settled back at school, I'll move back up to my 20 hours/week and go out to the office 2 full days. I have worked it out with my wonderful boss to be able to get the boys on the bus each morning for school so, I won't get to the office until about 9:15 or 9:30. I am hoping that it will be the perfect fit for all of us.

Obviously, this is a leap for us. I am filled with mixed emotion. One moment, I am thrilled to be heading back and anxious to get started. Another, I am sad that I will not be focused on the kids and Max's Meals. But, overall, Matt and I believe that this is a perfect fit for our family at this point in time. We are ready for this leap. We are ready to "go for it" and give it a try. I am ready to have some of the real me back!

At one point in time, Matt and I thought that if I went back to work, it would be too "normal", like we hadn't learned anything from our journey with Max or changed our lives as a result. However, more and more lately, I have come to realize that our lives are totally changed as a result of Max's journey. Every moment, I think so differently than I did before. I truly realize what a gift that each and every moment of life is. I do my best to take my worry, which I must admit is there constantly, and turn it into love and life. I don't dwell on it. I live in the moment. I also realize just how much control each of us has over our own behaviors. We cannot control what happens to ourselves, only how we react to it.

I realize that our experience with Max has made us view many things much differently than our friends and peers and sometimes that is tough. There are just a lot of everyday things that we don't worry about...they just don't matter to us. At times, I really do feel like a new girl in town. We were so out of the loop with our friends for so long and now, we can feel so removed at times from "normalcy" still. It can be a challenge. I also realize now just how difficult that the past couple of years were. I honestly don't know if we will ever do anything as hard...I sure hope we won't. These revelations give me so much strength and confidence. I feel like I can do anything I set my mind to and I believe that Max does too.

To make sense of all this rambling, the other big leap that I believe is happening right now is that Matt and I really feel like we are beginning to navigate the world of BMT survivorship with Max, Alex and Ellee. As a family, the reality of the past two + years is sinking in and we are beginning to come to grips with the fact that Max, and all of us, have a path ahead of us as well. For so long, we thought that we just had to get Max through this BMT and get him well. Now we are realizing that was just the beginning of this new journey for our entire family. We have all been impacted in so many profound ways through this experience. With all this in mind, Matt and I recently made plans to attend a BMT Survivorship Seminar in September to help us learn more about the physical, psychological, social, learning, etc. impacts of this BMT process on Max and our entire family. I am sure that it will be extremely helpful to us and very enlightening.

I am really going on and on tonight with this post and I apologize. There has just been a lot in my head recently and I wanted to share it. We have been taking some big leaps lately...big leaps toward a real future for Max and our entire family and it is awesome and, at the same time, somewhat scary.

Beyond all this, things have been exciting and busy with both the hospital and Max's Meals. The video that Max and I made a few months ago for Children's was recently released for use by new patients and their families. You can view it at Max is only in it for about 2 seconds, unfortunately but, I did get a bit more time than that! Those of you in Cincinnati or that supported us in the Cincy Walks for Kids walk for Children's last year will be seeing lots more of us too! We were selected to be the featured family for the Walk this year so, our story will be in many of the publications from the hospital (and probably the picture at the top of this post) leading up to the event in October. We'll be pulling a Max's Mighty Mob team together again soon to walk that day so, stay tuned for more info on that fun! Max's Meals has been keeping us busy as usual too. You can read all about our latest ventures on our website at We have several upcoming activities that we are looking for volunteers to help with so, please let us know if you are interested!

We would like to ask all of you for some special thoughts and prayers tonight for our dear friend, Tony Merk. He has been through such a long, difficult battle and it just wages on for he and his entire family. Our hearts ache for the suffering of Tony and his family and we pray everyday that they will experience a miracle of healing as we have with Max. You can follow Tony's journey with us at We love the Merks!! Pray ~ Hope ~ Believe for Tony!

Thank you for continuing to check in on us and keep up with our journey. We are thrilled to be sharing these leaps with you all tonight and hopeful that these great steps will continue long into the future.

Peace and love,
Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day +790: Major Milestones

It's day +790 for our Max-Man and life is good...really good! I apologize for not updating in nearly two months but, we have just been too busy having fun to take the time!!! Max continues to feel and look great, although we remain in close contact with the hospital and continue to monitor things on the inside.

I have been wanting to update for some time but, felt highly compelled to do so after the amazing weekend that we just had. It was opening weekend at our swim club here in Cincinnati and we were all looking forward to it! We hadn't been there in three years since Max was not allowed to swim in public pools until fairly recently. It was wonderful to be back and to let all three of the kids enjoy this summer tradition of childhood. Best of all was seeing Max there. He was unstoppable!!! Matt and I could barely keep track of him as he cruised around the pool with his cousin Will and some of their best buddies. Multiple times throughout the weekend, Matt and I would be swimming with Alex and Ellee, only to look across the pool to see our Max jumping off of the high dive!!!!! This is a 10 foot board so, it is no laughing matter!! I have not tried jumping off of it in some time but, the last time I did, I nearly climbed back down! It is intimidating! But, not for Max. He would jump off the low dive or the high dive and go right back into the line to do it again, and again, and again!!! He had the greatest grin on his little face that I have ever seen! He even did a front flip off of the low dive a few times over the weekend. In all that we have been through, watching him jump off those boards felt like one of the most major milestones that we have reached with Max. Here we were in a super crowded pool, with many strangers all around him, watching our Max just loving life, enjoyring himself as much as possible, all from across the place!! It was awesome. I kept thinking, "if you didn't know what that kid has been through, you would NEVER know!!!" Just what we have dreamed of and prayed for for so long.

The icing on the cake for all of it too was what Max said to me a couple of times. We spent a few hours on Sunday and Monday at the pool and both days Max commented, "Mom, this is so much fun!" On Sunday when we got home, he said to me, "Mom, I can't believe how many kids I know go to our pool." and went on to list the different people that he knows that he was excited to see there. Then yesterday, Monday, when we got home was my favorite comment, "Well, Mom, another 11 board day for me!" (meaning he had jumped off of the boards 11 times both Sunday and Monday). Just awesome!

We also enjoyed some great time with our families this holiday weekend. We had a cook-out at Aunt Sarah and Uncle Ryan's on Saturday with the whole Meyer clan. The kids enjoyed some yummy smores which you can see all over my messy Max's face in the picture included here. We are all getting very, very excited for the arrival of baby girl McGough (Sarah & Ryan's first) in early July. It will sure be a blessing to have a new life around again! We also got to hang out with my family last night and enjoyed watching the kids have a scavenger hunt, courtesy of Papi (my dad) and play various games outside.

Despite all of this "normalcy" and wonderfulness, Max's health situation remains at the forefront of our thoughts, as it probably will for the rest of our lives. We have to watch his sun exposure, as you all know, so we are going to have to figure out a new routine this summer so that we can enjoy the pool as much as possible without putting him at any risk. We are hoping that gobs of sunblock every two hours will do the trick, keeping him safe while letting him enjoy the heck out of the boards and everything else at the pool.

At Max's last monthly appointment the first week of May, we were thrilled to learn that Dr. Davies was ready to let us go to an every other month schedule! Unfortunately, however, Max's Nurse Care Manager, Kathy, called two days later to say that we would have to come in for labs (a blood draw) in two weeks because his kidney levels were elevated! Dr. Davies and her team are always monitoring multiple different body systems through Max's blood, including his kidneys. The cyclosporine (immune suppressant) that he remains on is difficult on the kidneys thus, they keep an eye on their function, as well as the level of cyclosporine in his body, to be sure that they are striking the right balance. It's a delicate balancing act as we need the cyclosporine level to be high enough to protect Ellee's marrow and give it time to mature, while not allowing Max's old marrow to gain any strength and/or cause him any damage to his kidneys, etc. Thus, as a result of this slightly elevated kidney level, Dr. Davies took the cyclosporine dosage down just a tick and asked us to come back in for labs to check his kidney levels again in two weeks. We were just there last Thursday to do that and haven't heard yet what the results are. We are pushing fluids as much as possible at the same time, of course, as always, to try to help his kidneys flush through the medicine as well. I never realized how hard it can be to get a 9 year old to drink!!! Anyway, besides the kidney level elevations, Max's blood results look awesome! He continues to have an essentially normal CBC (complete blood count - the three cell lines of his blood) and good immune function. We just maintain the close relationship with Children's to be sure we are protecting his graft from Ellee, while at the same time protecting all of his body systems.

So, as you can probably surmise from reading this, although Max is doing great and back into doing just about everything he did prior to his diagnosis, his health situation remains complicated. When people ask me, "so, how is your son doing?", I usually respond that he is doing fabulously, that he is back to being a 9 year-old boy but, that he still has a road ahead of him. We are not done with his bone marrow transplant process yet...we still need to "tie the bow on the top of the package", I say. But, we are worlds from where we were in the winter of 2009!!!

This week is a big week here in the Meyer house! It's the last week of school for Max and Alex and they are beyond excited for the festivities that accompany that! Today is Field Day at their school so, I will be up there helping the kids enjoy different games and fun activities and will join them both for lunch on the lawn. Ellee will be hanging out with my mom so that I can do what I need to help and she can relax at home. Thursday is the last day of school and our neighborhood always makes it super fun. We will greet the kids with cupcakes and water balloons at the bus stop and then they will all jump into a neighbors pool in their clothes and swim the evening away! It is always a highlight of the year that all of the kids look forward to and a great way to start the summer.

We have been very busy around here the past few months. I was swamped with the Clubs & Clowns event that we had for Max's Meals the first weekend in May and really have spent the rest of the month recovering and writing thank you notes to all of the amazing supporters that we had for the event. It was highly successful and fun and well worth all the effort that we put into it as we raised nearly $7,000!!! We also received our first grant from the Cincinnati Golfers for Charity last week so, we are off and running on our next big step with Max's Meals which is to offer the inpatient families birthday meals. You can learn lots more about what is going on with Max's Meals by visiting our website at anytime! We also spent lots of time on different sports over the past few months. Alex played baseball, soccer and basketball this spring and Max played flag football so, we have been busy running between practices and games, just like most families with kids our ages.

As the school year wraps up for us around here, we are again reflecting on everything that has happened in our lives the past few years. It is absolutely amazing...miraculous, in see how far Max has come. Our life perspective is so changed for the better. We do not take a single moment for granted. We realize what a gift it is to take part in everyday activities, like swimming, jumping off a diving board, having a cook-out with people you love. Not a moment goes by that we aren't grateful for our many, many blessings. We are all on cloud 9 with life right now and won't be down from it anytime soon!

Thanks for checking in on us!

Peace and love,

Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day +736: Two+ Years & Fabulous Florida!

Today is day +736 for Max, 6 days and two years since his life-saving bone marrow transplant on April 1, 2009! Wow! He continues to do fabulously! We all enjoyed a wonderful vacation in Florida last week for Spring Break and life couldn't be better.

We spent our vacation in Marco Island and visited with my 91 year-old grandma (my dad's mom) who lives there year round. My mom and dad had been down there since January for the winter also, for the first time ever so, we stayed with them this time in their place across the island from my grandma's and had a great time just hanging out with them. We really had one of the best weeks of vacation that I think we have ever had. We all just enjoyed being able to do what we wanted to do, when we felt like doing it! We swam, fished, went to the beach, ate yummy lunches and dinners out, even went to the local farmers market. The boys, Matt and my dad loved playing basketball every afternoon on the shaded basketball court at the local island park and even got in a few rounds of baseball at a local field. We spent some great time visiting with "Great" Grandma and, all in all, we just had a wonderful time.

What made this vacation particularly special was that last Friday marked the two year anniversary of Max's transplant. We were thrilled to be able to spend this day together, down in Marco, celebrating our miracle. We began the day with Max's favorite, Dunkin Donuts (thanks to my dad) and enjoyed eating them from the chickee hut at my mom and dad's place while watching the sun rise above the ocean and the dolphins frolic around. Per Max's request, we spent the morning in the pool at mom and dad's and then spent the afternoon at the local park playing basketball again, followed by a dip in "Great" Grandma's pool. We capped off the special day with dinner out and ice cream in the chickee hut. Matt and I could not have imagined a better way to celebrate. We watched as Max and Ellee hugged and kissed each other and our three kids danced around in the chickee hut, eating ice cream and acting silly. Our miracle continues every day...the two year anniversary of it just gives us a chance to acknowledge it more directly. I have posted all the pictures from our trip on the sidebar of the blog if you're interested.

Beyond all this excitement and fun, we had a busy March between Max's basketball, a visit from the West Virginia Sherwins (my brother and his family), Max and Alex's bowling league, our nephew Carter's 1st birthday, a trip to the circus, Alex's baseball and basketball practices beginning, even Max and I appearing in a video that Children's Hospital is making (more on this to come when it's finished)! Max's basketball team finished up the season with a loss in the semi-finals of the tournament. Max was heartbroken after the game and shed some tears and Matt and I comforted him, knowing that it was a good lesson in how to deal with disappointment. Later that evening, Matt said to me, "It was hard to see Max upset about losing that game...but, all I could think about was how glad I am that my worry right now is about how to be sure he's ok with losing a basketball game!" We both agreed that we've come a long way and it's so great to be back to more "normal" worries these days.

Max's March appointment with Dr. Davies brought continued good news. His counts remain in normal ranges and his engraftment continues to be pretty steady at about 85%. No changes to his medications at this point - in other words, no beginning of the wean of the cyclosporine - but, we remain patient, knowing the time will come when Max's body will be ready for that. Until then, we'll take good counts and good health and all the wonderful blessings that come with that!

The Clubs & Clowns event for Max's Meals & More has been keeping me very busy of late. We have had some absolutely fabulous things happen in relation to this event and we are getting very excited about it. I wanted to share my favorite story from the event planning with all of you because it has been the most validating thing that has ever happened for us in relation to Max's Meals. A few weeks ago, I received an email from a Matt at Sara Lee, here in Cincinnati, asking me some questions about the Clubs & Clowns event. I have a small group of friends helping me out with the event so, I assumed that someone knew this person and had contacted him about a potential sponsorship. To make a long story short, Sara Lee is donating virtually all of the food (hot dogs, smoked sausages, buns, desserts) for the event!!! While that is incredible news, the story of why is even more incredible...Matt (the Sara Lee guy) has a one year old son that had a bone marrow transplant last fall. They were in the hospital on Halloween when we served our meal and it meant so much to them that they have been following Max's Meals ever since! His wife got my post on Facebook saying that we were looking for sponsors for the event and told Matt. He contacted me and said that he and his wife wanted to be sure that we know how much the meals mean to the families on the floor and that Sara Lee wanted to donate all the food! His daughter was visiting the hospital on Halloween and was on cloud nine that she was able to take a Max's Meals goody bag home with her that day! :)

I'm sure you can see why this story is our favorite. We have been honored by the numerous donations and great support that we have received from companies all over Cincinnati in preparation for the Clubs & Clowns event. I am sure that it is going to be a great time for all! The golf scramble is going to include quite a few kids and the picnic/party to follow will include a DJ, live singing entertainment, clowns, face painting, balloon animals, kids games, a bouncy house and more! We are praying for good weather and a great turnout and hope that you all will consider joining us, if possible! The event is May 7th and you can learn more about it or register to attend by visiting our website at Hope to see you there!

Memories of many of the tough experiences that we endured with Max two years ago continue to flood our heads lately, even as we celebrate Max's two year anniversary post-transplant and the amazing miracle that we have witnessed. While these memories can be painful and difficult, we are thankful for them and for all that we have learned as a result of Max's journey. We never want to lose some of the emotions that Max's journey taught us to feel so deeply - love for one another and appreciation for every moment. Through our ministry with Max's Meals, we remain in touch with these emotions and reminded of these important lessons. We are eternally grateful for Max's return to health and for the opportunity to touch others and ease a tiny bit of their burdens through our mission with Max's Meals.

As always, thank you to all of you that continue to follow our story through this blog! Hope to see many of you on May 7th to celebrate, laugh, hug and have fun, all while nourishing families going through tough times by supporting Max's Meals & More!!

Peace and love,

Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day +695: February Fun

It's day +695 for Max...can you believe we are fast approaching day +700!!! WOW!! Another big milestone and life is great! I can't imagine it could be much better than it is now for our family. I haven't updated in quite some time...almost a month, I think! But, I've decided to keep writing and sharing our lives, more so for us in the future than anything and for those of you that would like to continue on this journey with us, you are welcome! We love sharing our new perspectives on life with anyone that is willing to listen.

February has been filled with lots and lots of fun things. Max and Alex are both playing basketball and really enjoying it. For Max, basketball has been somewhat of a metaphor for his unexpected journey the past two + years. When he was diagnosed in January of 2009, his passion was all around skateboarding and biking. He loved riding his scooter and idolized Tony Hawk. Shortly after he became sick, however, that passion shifted to basketball. He filled out a March Madness bracket and watched many of the games from a hospital room, either on the outpatient or inpatient side that year. We had a little Nerf hoop and bouncy balls in his hospital room during our long 6 week consecutive stay and he would take on anyone that came to visit - including our Pastor (whom he the way ;)) and any therapist or chaplain that came our way!

It was also during his long stay that his passion for the NBA was born. We tried to bring a little gift for Max each time that Matt or I came back to the hospital after taking turns going home and Matt began bringing Max packs of basketball cards. They would sit together and read about the players, analyzing their playing history (college, NBA teams, etc) and their stats. Matt would fill Max in on historical players and their career highlights, etc. Max also started watching NBA games on tv and learning the players that way too.

Once we were home and stuck here in isolation for almost a year, we setup a little basketball court in our basement. You early followers may remember some of the slam dunking videos that I posted on the blog of Max and Alex in our basement. We have a "full court" comprised of two Little Tikes hoops (thanks Aunt Laurie) and painters tape court lines in the basement. It was at least a daily occurence during this time that the boys would have me judge them in a slam dunk competition. Whenever we had adult visitors over, they would line us up on the couch with paper and markers and have us all judge their slam dunk contests. It was always a hoot to watch! They would take on the persona of one of their favorite NBA players and be announced to the crowd with a flashlight spotlight, etc. Basketball in the basement was a HUGE way that we passed the time over those months stuck here at home.

I tell you all this only so that you will appreciate it when I brag a bit here about Max and Alex and their basketball prowess today. They are both stars of their teams! Max has scored 10 points in both of his last two games, the high scorer both games for his team. Alex's team is pre-school and kindergarten kids so, they do not keep score but, it is a common occurrence for another parent to say to Matt or I, "wow, your son is REALLY good!" He often has to be held back on the court so that the other kids can run down to the other end before he dribbles the ball down and scores again!

Watching Max on the basketball court and with his team is something else for Matt and I. We usually make it through the games with huge smiles on our faces and super loud cheers (Ellee is always telling me that I am hurting her ears at the games). But, later, in our quiet moments, our pride wells up and we both end up with tears in our eyes. It is amazing to see him out on that court with his buddies, acting like an NBA player and scoring points like crazy! I cannot express to you how wonderful it feels. It brings joy to Matt and I like nothing else could. To know what that little guy (and I do mean little...he's at least a head shorter than every other player out there) has been through and overcome...and to see him just relishing life like that is beyond words. It's miraculous! He has no fear and much confidence and he puts his all into the sport he Who knows where it might take him in the future! Maybe somebody elses dog will be named Max in the future because of what he accomplishes in the NBA one day (in other words...there is a reason our dog is named Spud...after Spud Webb, the shortest player to ever play in the NBA).

Besides basketball, February has been very busy with Max's Meals & More. We have served two meals this month for the Superbowl and Valentine's Day and spent an evening with four wonderful women baking at the Ronald McDonald House. In addition, we officially kicked off our Clubs & Clowns event - a golf outing and carnival-style party to celebrate life and raise funds to nourish families at Children's Hospital on May 7th, 2010 at Lunken Playfield. We have a team of folks hard at work on planning that event and getting things ready. We are hopeful that it will be a very fun day and will raise some good funds for Max's Meals to utilize in fulfilling our mission.
To receive more information on this event and all our activities with Max's Meals, visit our website ( and follow the subscribe link at the top of the Home page to receive regular updates. You can also find us on Facebook under Max's Meals & More.

Beyond all this, we have enjoyed lots of fun times with friends this month and I even got to go on my first women's retreat with our church. It was fabulous to be able to spend 30 hours relaxing, making new friends and thinking without interruption! I even got to take a walk outside by myself early on Sunday morning! It was very rejuvinating and much needed. I think it was perfect timing for me. I was at a point where I felt alright about being away from the family for a night and I just needed some time to think about everything and reflect on how our lives have changed over the past two years. It really confirmed for me that Matt and I are strong in our faith and that we are doing the right thing by having me focused on home, Max's Meals and helping at Children's Hospital right now. It was a great weekend.

As I said earlier, I am going to keep blogging, sharing my thoughts and perspectives on our life journey as we go along. I welcome those of you that want to continue along with us. You have so enriched our experience the past two years and your support has helped us through so many tough times. I am excited to be able to share our happiness and gratitude with you all, as we cherish every moment and continue watching Max, Alex and Ellee grow up! Life is a gift!
Peace and love,
Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day +666: Loving Life!

It's day +666 for Max and, although that number is a bit scary, things with Max's health are not! He continues to do well and love life! We have been quite busy with the "normal" things that 9, 6 and 3 year-olds do lately including basketball, trips to Xavier games, birthday parties and fun things like that! As you all know, both Max and Alex have quite a passion for basketball so, they are both currently playing on basketball teams and really enjoying it. Max's team had their first game last Saturday and they won! Max had a great break-away and scored right at the end of the game. It was priceless to see him after his score, running back down the court with a proud look on his face, pumping his fist like the NBA players do! Many of the parents at the game commented on how neat it was to see him like that. Our miracle continues!

Alex has been really enjoying his basketball team too, although he is well beyond his age, skill-wise. He is the star of his team and actually has to be held back so that the other kids can get back down the court before he takes it down and scores again! Oh, what months of playing hoops in your basement with your older brother will do for you!!

Max had his monthly check-up with Dr. Davies about two weeks ago and his counts continue to be good. Matt and I asked her again about the cyclosporine wean, as it has been bugging us at times and we just wanted to be sure we understood her reasons for continuing it. She was stern with me this time and told me that we have to be patient. The bottom line is that there is still a bit of a war going on in Max's body between Ellee's cells and the few cells of his own that remain. We have to wait things out until Max's remaining cells peeter out and let Ellee be in charge. If we are not patient and wean the cyclosporine too soon, Max's cells may be too strong and take over again. Then we would be back at square one...not good at all! Dr. Davies reminded me that Max's aplastic anemia was caused by his own cells and thus, we don't want them back in control or it could happen again. She also assured me that she feels his cyclosporine dosage level is safe and that he will be off of it before college! Although I think she said that somewhat jokingly, it actually relieved Matt and I. Our fear is that if he never gets off of it, he cannot be re-immunized and that would be limiting to his life. As I type that, I realize how great it is to be thinking that way...limiting to his life!!!! Because, the way things are going now, his life has no limits!! Miraculous!

On another miraculous note, Max's Meals & More has also been keeping us very busy! We served a New Years meal on January 16th to the inpatient families of the Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute. They enjoyed a traditional Cincinnati/German New Years meal of pork and sauerkraut! I was sick so, for the first time, I was unable to attend the meal, unfortunately. But, Matt took over for me and it went off without a hitch again. We now have a full year of meals planned (13) for A5 with a special meal planned for every major holiday and a few other "just because" dates as well. In February we will be serving a meal of fun appetizers for the Superbowl, courtesy of Friday's in the Anderson Towne Center. We were thrilled to get them to donate the entire thing so, support Friday's in Anderson whenever you can and thank them for us! We will also be doing a Valentine's Day lunch in February and have been blessed by the fourth grade girls at a local elementary school, Guardian Angels, as they will be preparing our Valentine's goody bags for us! Just this past weekend, our church youth group held "A Night in Italy" benefit dinner for Max's Meals & More. It was incredibly well attended with over 200 people there! They also raised an amazing amount of money which will cover nearly half our year's meals expenses! It was a very special night for Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and I as we really felt the love and support for Max's Meals from our church community and friends. Thanks to all that attended and made the evening possible!

With things being so busy with Max's Meals & More, we are looking for volunteers for a number of different items. If you visit our website ( you will see a Volunteers page link at the top of the home page. If you are interested in helping us out, we would LOVE to have you! Just go to that link and let us know what you'd like to do. We are currently pulling a team together to plan a golf outing/family party in May and are looking for volunteers to bake with us at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH). We have two upcoming baking events scheduled at RMH from 7 - 9 pm on February 16th and March 17th so, if you are interested in joining us for one or both of these, just let us know! All of the supplies and recipes will be just show up and help us bake everything! It's a great way to help the many families from all over the world staying at RMH for treatment of their family member at Children's Hospital and it's tons of fun!

Two years ago on January 12th, our journey with Max and aplastic anemia began. It is astonishing to me to think of all that has transpired over the past 24 months. I could not be prouder of my son, Max. He is a trooper. Throughout everything, he remained so positive and so happy. He is quite a kid. I want to share a little story with you about Max, just so you can see what I mean. The transition back to third grade this year was pretty tough for Max in the beginning, academically. Of course, we expected it to be difficult but, it was hard for us to see him struggle and to hear that he had fallen behind and needed extra help to catch back up. We know he is a smart kid and very capable but, we also knew that he had to realize that for himself and start putting the effort in himself. So, we encouraged him greatly along the way and helped him as much as we could but, I am proud to say that he figured things out all on his own. He is now getting 100% regularly on spelling, math and economics tests. Above all, his teacher recently saw my sister at school and told her (she wrote it down for me so she got it exact), "He's such a great kid. I wish I could clone him. I've never had somebody work as hard as he does." Wow!! No parents could be prouder!

Also at school, Max has begun really sharing things about his experience with his classmates and teacher. Just this week, he took a poster board "Countdown Calendar" that we had created to chart his six week stay in the hospital in with him to share with his class. Last week, he took in a brochure about Max's Meals and told his class about the "Night in Italy" that our church was having. I am thrilled to see him doing these things and think it's a really important part of the healing process for him. He is beginning to realize what a hero he is to so many people. He is starting to see the good that his story has inspired and the wonderful things that are happening as a result of it. Our miracle continues...

More soon...

Peace and love,
Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day +642: Happy New Year!

It's day +642 for our Max and things are so quiet and boring around here this afternoon!!! UGH!! We had an absolutely FABULOUS holiday break! It could not have been better. We just really enjoyed our time together and got a great chance to relax and have some fun. I am missing the heck out of my boys today as they are back at school! I had butterflies in my stomach again yesterday with the thought of them having to head back to school today and felt a little apprehension again, like I had at the start of the school year. Crazy, I know but, it has made me realize what amazing and precious bonds that I have developed with my kids through this journey. We are truly connected in powerful ways that we weren't before and I really, really miss them when they are not with me. I know this is part of life and I must let them leave the nest and fly with their own's just harder than ever still for me to do it!

Our holiday break was just filled with fun and special moments for all of us. It was really the first time in a LONG time that we could do whatever we felt like, day after day, here at home! We went sled riding all together (Ellee LOVED it), went to see Yogi Bear at the movies, celebrated Max's birthday at Recreations Outlet with lots of family and friends, went to Xavier basketball, Cyclones hockey and Globetrotters games, went to church, shopped together and enjoyed tons of wonderful time with our families. It truly was the greatest gift just to have this time to have fun together and relax, away from the normal structure and routine of our lives again. One day, Max and I even commented in a happy way on how much it felt like the "old days" when we were stuck here at home together. Once again, the memories of those days feel happy and are something we look back on with longing already. Despite the challenges of those days, they brought us closer together than we had ever been before and set a foundation of extreme strength, love and joy for us as a family. For that, we are eternally grateful. It was very, very nice to relive them a bit over this break.

As we head into the New Year, we are filled with gratitude and feel incredibly blessed. Having Max's return to health is such an immeasurable blessing for all of us. The experiences and lessons that we have learned along his journey are something that we continue to keep in our hearts and minds to guide us as we move forward. We look forward to the days in 2011 when we can relax together as a family and enjoy good times. At the same time, we are hard at work on really getting Max's Meals & More fully running so that we can give back to those that are currently facing the overwhelming struggles that we know all too well. Our Christmas Eve brunch was well received, along with the goody bags and gifts that we presented to CCHMC. It brings us boundless joy to know that we are able to help the families of the Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute in these ways and that we have been able to turn a really tough time in our lives into something positive for others. We hope to build on Max's Meals & More in the coming year and into the future to continue providing this service.

The most important thing that we have learned throughout Max's journey over the past two years is that you never know what tomorrow may bring. Living in the moment has become our motto and we strive to focus on this and not dwell on worries for the future. Max, Alex and Ellee are happy and enjoying every bit of life...Matt and I could ask for nothing more. Recently, a BMT friend that we have gotten to know through Max's Meals had a profound ending to her Care Page update that I thought I would share with all of you: "Today I remind you to take the time to hold your kids and smile. Tell them how happy you are to be their mommy and/or daddy. When you next talk to God, tell Him thanks, too…for so much that we all just have around us every day and don’t even look at twice!" Thanks, Kimber.

Happy New Year to all of you! Thank you for your continued support and love. We hope you will continue on into 2011 with us, as we look forward to sharing lots and lots of fun times with all of you!

Peace and love,
Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)