Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hunting, Horses & Heat ...

JohnD with his Chloe (above)
Micaela introducing her Molasses (tiny black kitty) to her Jasmine!!!

Micaela with her Jasmine
These photos were taken on Christmas Day, a full week after the horses arrived here.
They both have quickly learnt the routine of NYUMMY food in the evening, and get very excited with the arrival of the children. Chloe appears to be donimant, and quite competative for any treats... Hope this is simply because she is about 4 months pregnant.
Stephen, Renee, and five other guests arrived the day before yesterday, for a hunt. It's wonderful to have Nicol and Karia here again... the hunters have been doing well, and have taken some lovely trophies. Karia is looking LOVELY!!! What a beautiful Pregnant Mommy she looks.
It's been pretty warm, and it makes hunting a challenge... as it's EARLY mornings, and LATE evenings... with afternoon naps! :)
Big hugs to you all.
JohnD's next treatment is Thursday next week, all going well.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Blessings to you! Happy Christmas.

It's a beautiful, warm, sunny, summers day. Typical for this time of the year. We went to a beautiful evening service in Louis Trichardt last night, and had cheese and wine with the Laubser family afterwards. The kids were all very excited to open presents together. :)
We couldn't wrap the horses though...

Our thoughts cross over the miles to you all, and we wish you all a very special day. Merry Christmas. We have so much to celebrate - the gift of our Jesus to us, and what his life means to us each day.

Love Ken, Jo, Micaela, JohnD, Dennis, Carol, and the rest of the family!
Jasmine, Chloe, Champ, Lady, Kit-Kat and Molasses xxx

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New and exciting happenings... :)

Phew - this week has just been quite a whirlwind week. Most of the staff went off on Tuesday, so had to do all of the wages / Christmas stuff before they left. I had to take JohnD in for his bloods - as without nupogen after the last chemo, we were unsure as to what his levels would be like. His white cel count was very low, so we are back on to the injections again.
Thursday JohnD and I went to pretoria for his 3rd last chemo... came back Friday afternoon, and he has been quite well.

While we were on the road, Ken called to say that we had an opportunity to buy two resuce horses who could be trucked up from the Freestate on Saturday. (Months ago, we had called this dealer, looking for very tame and managable childrens horses.) They needed an answer immediately, as they were loading early the next morning to come to Pietersburg to deliver other horses. They had space in their box, and we would not have to pay for delivery.
We were all a bit aprehensive about buying horses that we know are in bad condition, that we have not even seen. ! GULP. Are we sitting ducks for "being taken for a ride???"
We took the plunge / bait / challenge, looking at it as a marvelous opportunity (for Micaela especially), to build a relationship with a horse who needs her T.L.C., and she really needs a horse to love! :) The white mare is definitely pregnant, and the brown mare is possibly pregnant, but we do not know for sure. Both horses have not stopped eating all of the green grass since they walked off the trailer. Shame. Our hearts break to think how badly they were treated. But, we are happy to know how much they are going to be loved!!! They both appear to be VERY GENTLE, managable, easy to approach, and used to being handled. We will only be able to even THINK about riding them in about two weeks or more - once they have regained some of their condition.
The horse dealer said that she will come and collect them in a month if we are not completely satisfied, and she will replace them with others. So - we are now on a fast track learning curve... with yet another rescue animal.
Big hugs from us all in the green, lush, sunny, alive bushveldt!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bandolierkop Bush is the BEST!

We have had such lovely rains... the veldt is green, inviting and it's just been so wonderful to enjoy the transformation all around us. Kids wanna go camping tonight, so we about to load up and head out. Any one wanna join us? :) You are so welcome. Mucha is calling.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Micaela's 12th!

Can you believe that my baby is now 12? She celebrated her birthday this weekend in a rather different way. She wanted to camp out with her good friend Bianca... so for an entire week - she got the lists / camping gear / camp site all ready. She cleared a spot under the tree in the bush behind the house... Made a fire pit, collected the wood, and had fun getting herself organized. We had come back from Pretoria on Friday evening - and Johnd was well enough for us to also get Ivan to come for Saturday night. She did the braaing for us - ZEBRA STEAKS, and sausage... with buns, salad, pap, sauce and of course SMORES!!! :) The two girls didn't back out at all, and we even all played stalk the lantern!After brunch and her "brownie" cake on Sunday, we all went to Mucha for a swim. It was a very hot day. We had a big thunder storm on Friday night, with about 11 mls of rain. Saturday evening was a full moon - just beautiful and clear, lovely evening. Sunday night it rained again, and we had a whopping 42mls!

JohnD has been a little blocked up still and his chemo went ahead with no surprises. His full blood count on Thursday was very good, and his Dr has decided to try and see if his bone marrow and while cells will be as strong without all of the neupogen injections, so we are giving it a try this time. He and Ivan managed to keep up with the girls, but by Sunday afternoon, after dropping Bianca and Ivan off... he slept from 1 to 4pm!

The rain has transformed our place into the garden of eden! :) Much love, Us all xxx

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, this time next month... Christmas will be here! I can't believe we are getting ready to put 2009 to bed!!! Talk about a quick year. A very special Happy Thanksgiving to all of our USA family! May you have a really lovely day tomorrow.

We back on the road tomorrow taking JohnD for his 4th VAC treatment. He developed a mild fever this evening, so I don't know what awaits us... I do hope that we will not be delayed in coming home on Friday. Micaela turns 12 on Sunday, so she has big plans for this weekend!

Their lessons with their Afrikaans teacher "Tanny Kobie" are going so well. She did art with them this afternoon too, and she is just amazing with them. A born / natural teacher.
Micaela's little kitten is officially called "Kit-Kat". What a cute little thing. It has figured out that the dogs actually run away if they are chased! It's too funny to see.

We have busy doing some much needed maintenance at the lodge. Golly - I sure hope we get through it all before the Goldfinch group arrive after Christmas! :)
The much needed rains came and have worked their magic. Thank you Lord!!! We still need much rain, but at least the green is through!
Love you all, us xxx

Friday, November 6, 2009

3rd of 7 ...

It has been amazing to me how the fine layer of hair has been persistantly trying to come back... and although it's not that clear in this picture, it's such a big difference to us to see him with his eyebrowns trying to return, his hair, his eyelashes... We are all speculating what colour his hair will be when it does finally grow back early next year!

My goodness, what a busy week! JohnD's third treatment went without any glitches or surprises ... all very smooth! We drove down on Thursday and came back yesterday. We had an Air Force Base function last night too, so it was a pretty long and busy day.

We had one really GREAT thing happen... the night before we left for Pretoria, JohnD called me to the bathroom to proudly show me that he had finally won his war on the varruca that has plagued him for the past four months!!! We had booked an appointment (during the last session of chemo) with a skin Dr to cut it out while we were there this week... and so it was wonderful to not have to have that proceedure done! THANK YOU LORD! For the past three weeks, he has cut and scratched and irritated it so much, and when the whole thing came off in the bath - it was an answer to prayer!

We were all was very sad to say bye to the Jakobson family, as Sofie and the kids left on Sunday to return to Sweden. On Tuesday, we came home from town with Agnes' little black bunny rabbit - MINI (he's a boy), and a new kitten for Micaela. This is the first time we have actually had a little rabbit... so there was great excitement for ALL of us - not just us people!!!

Early Wednesday morning, we woke to see that Lady had found a way into Mini's cage, and was curled up sleeping with Mini!!! I guess we no longer need to worry about her hunting instincts!

Micaela is totally undecided on a name for her new little kitten, so she asked me to have you all VOTE!!! :) The two names she can't decide between are "KIT-KAT" or "ASTRO". So email us your opinion.
JohnD has a little friend here today. Maurits. It's overcast and cool, so they are quietly playing with the lego. Big hugs to you all, and lots of love xxx

Friday, October 30, 2009

Some rain!

I guess no news is good news! Both kids are doing very well... busy, happy, active and keeping out of mischief! JohnD really would prefer not to be bothered with school - which I guess is true of most little boys!!! He'd rather play and hunt all day.

We are enjoying some cooler weather and trust it will bring with it the much needed rain.
Hugs to you all.
Love us

Monday, October 19, 2009

Our bouncing Ball!

Guess I should put a caption under this picture... "impatiently waiting for breakfast!!"

We are so very pleased to report that JohnD's chemo at the end of last week was a "breeze" ... really he just sailed through. We had a fairly busy weekend, with both Micaela and JohnD needing to write their Gov exams on Saturday morning. I was concerned that with he chemo having been so recent, he may not have been up to it, but with the ample supply of children around him... he just went with the flow and didn't bat an eyelid! :)

We are thoroughly enjoying a camp full of family from the UK and from Johannesburg and the Cape... 3 little babies to play with and a small toddler. I have not seen some of my cousins for about five years! It is good to catch up with them all.

Hugs to you all from the bush!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Uncle Rick!

This past month has just flown by! We had Rick here from Boise for a month, and it was just wonderful to see him again. He and Ken had a wonderful two weeks in Namibia, and thoroughly enjoyed the various different places they visited there.

Micaela and JohnD have swapped bedrooms! The house still has not recovered from the major shaking!!! Micaela has been in her room almost 12 years, and he has been after it for at least 6 of those years.

JohnD and I head back to Pretoria again tomorrow for his 2nd session of VAC. The van is all packed up and we will leave early tomorrow. Hope to be home before dark on Friday. Fortunately he really knows what it is all about, and does not seem phased by it any more.

Just love your emails - thank you so much for sending them. Big hugs from us all.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

DVD's, TV and room service!

Dad and Mom got off okay. :( I managed to get to the airport and back (without the GPS! - Ken has it with him in Namibia!!) without any loss of time.

It was really fun having Micaela with us this time... the two of them both on JohnD's bed, kept themselves thoroughly entertained. It was good to see. I have to keep reminding him that he is not helpless - he can get up and help himself! The lighter dose is so much easier on him, he hardly knew that he had even had it. He was a little uncomfortable on the road trip home, but he ate a good supper - and he is just fine!

I love hearing from you! Thank you for all of your little messages. They mean so much to us.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

1st VAC treatment

Can hardly believe that it's back to Pretoria again tomorrow morning. It has been so wonderful having my parents here since Sunday afternoon. We have had such lovely quiet time together, and the kids have worn them out playing "Rummy", "Chase the Lady", and now we are playing "O-NO!" All card games that keep you on the edge of your chair! :)

Dad and Mum fly back to Austraila tomorrow evening. JohnD's VAC treatments are only 24 hours in hospital now, so it's down one day and back the next. He has been so well. We went for a walk yesterday afternoon, and he rode his bike the whole way. He has not had the strength to do that at all! His hair is also trying so hard to grow back now. I'm glad with the school holidays, Micaela is able to go with me this time.

Ken is still in Namibia with Rick. They are having a wonderful time. We are missing them! They will come home on Tuesday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Our Bouncing Ball...

What a different child! This month's chemo was just two nights in hospital, and the same evening we got home - he ate a small bowl of Mielie Pap (Gritz), and has not thrown up once! He has his energy back, his mischief and most of all his motivation. We are just amazed and grateful for the incredible change in him. To our precious Heavenly Father - we give all of the thanks and praise. He really is MUCH MUCH BETTER! He even has gained one and a half kgs (about 3 pounds). He is sleeping well, and he even moved his room around this week. This is something he always used to do every two weeks - but has not done once this whole year.


As I'm sure you can imagine - it's going well with us all. Micaela and JohnD are both working hard in school. They have their school holiday break coming up soon, so they are working to finish their books.

The ranch is dry, but we have lots of grass. It's warmed up nicely, and we are all excited about the summer coming. Winter is pretty much over.

We have a young man helping here until the end of the year. His name is Helgard - he is Abraham and Ilse's nephew (from Tzaneen).
Ken leaves for Namibia on Monday and will be away for two weeks, hunting with Rick! :)
My folks come to visit for four days on the 20th of this month, and then will fly back to Australia on the 25th, when I take JD for his next chemo session.

I guess this bush bulliten is updated!!! :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wed - Fri VAI treatment

We got home last night. He really travelled better this time, slept most of the way home. The two days / nights in hospital were tough. He really took it harder than before, and could hardly get up.
With the lighter dose, he has started eating right away, so that is wonderful, as usually it's several days before he can eat again.
Thank you for your prayers.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

KNP Weekend away

Last year, when Walter and Barbara Bailey were with us, we took them to the Louis Trichardt "show". With our entrance tickets... we were fortunate enough to win a weekend in Kruger for four people. It was valid for a year, expiring the 31st of Aug. We had wondered if we may land up not being able to use it - with all of this year's unplanned events. Thank GOD - it worked out that we were able to go. After his op, JohnD really recovered quickly, and with the blood he received - his whole resistance and immunity has been so boosted! We took the opportunity and gapped it for the weekend. We had some lovely sightings. We stayed at the Mopani camp, and it really was just way too short! Kids loved the pool - as it was pretty warm!

This big jumbo has to be one of their "biggies"!
We head back to Pretoria for his first VAI treatment tomorrow... will be away till Friday. We have a total of 8 more treatments to do: 1 x VAI and 7 x VAC.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Stop press! Just had word from the Dr that the results from the tests on the bone have come back totally clear!

Another reason to celebrate is that Nicol and Karia are expecting!!! :) Happiness is!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A few pictures

Waiting for his blood to come on Monday. Note his colour in the picture on the left - before receiving the blood... and then here on the right - he is busy receiving his second unit. I watched him transform! He had renewed energy, appetite, and was full of smiles.

Left - just before he was wheeled into theatre. He asked Dr Stevens if he could please go without 'gas' - and also to please take a picture of his rib. He knew that we couldn't bring it home with us... we left the camera in theatre and they snapped a few pictures for us.

We hope to hear Monday or Tuesday, what the results are on the tests they do on the rib. They were unable to take all of it out, as the last little section close to the cartilage was too difficult. Four pieces were sent away.

JohnD is in ICU with Dr de Jager, our particularly special Paediatric Oncologist.

Here he is with his amazing surgeon, Dr Mark Stevens. His office was open to us to use their computers... and his PA - Carin, was such a tremendous support to us.

Friday, August 21, 2009

At home again!

What a long day! They drew blood early this morning to check on JohnD's levels, and his Dr was very happy. With the two units of blood that he received, his full blood count has not looked that good in ages! :) They removed the drain from his wound, as well as the port needle... and we were able to come home!

My Aunt and Uncle (my Dad's brother) had collected my parents from the airport on Wednesday afternoon, and so they brought them to the Zuid Afrikaans Hospital for me... we spent about half an hour getting everything loaded, finalised, and organized - and we were on our way home. It is wonderful to have my parents here - we last saw them in November last year.

JohnD is weary and tender... but he is doing so well. We are very proud of him. I'll try get some of the photos loaded tomorrow.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 1 ... All looking good

It's now lunch time, Thursday... he is sitting up in his bed - supported on pillows. He still has all the machines hooked up to him, but he has been listening to a CD, and playing his hand held games. He ate quite well this morning, and is looking quite chirpy. He is still on really nice pain "mootie", so he is comfortable. Dr Stevens checked him over this morning and is happy with everything. He indicated that if Dr de Jager gives the go ahead - he may be able to go home tomorrow afternoon. We will see Dr de Jager later this afternoon and hear what he says.
Thank you so much for all of your messages and your prayers.
God is wonderfully faithful! :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Operation Successful

How can we thank you for all of your prayers and messages?
He went in strong, smiling, and ready. He asked the Doctors to please not use any happy gas on him (as it makes him naar), and also to please avoid using a cathether if at all possible. He asked them to please keep some of his rib for him, or if that was not possible - to please take a photo of his rib, so that he would have SOMETHING of it. So, I went into theatre with him and was there till he was asleep. We left our camera there. They took five amazing pictures - that I wish I had the ability to put on now (but this is a borrowed computer, and I don't have my card reader with me.)
He was in for an hour and 10 minutes. Dr Stevens was amazing, and despite struggling to remove the end portion of it that is attached to the cartilage - he left the "skin" of the bone - so there is the slight chance that when it is all healed - the bone may even re-grow!!!
The nurses and all of the staff here have been amazing.
He is resting peacefully in the Paed.ICU. He is currently on a morphine pump, and there is a drain on the wound. They did not have to enter the chest at all, so we are grateful that no chest drain is required.
God is good! All our love and thank you one and all!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wednesday 7.30am - Op now postponed

JohnD's blood results on Monday, showed his levels were too low to operate that afternoon.
They gave him 1 unit of blood last night, and the necessary neupogen injections to boost his white cell production. He will get another unit of blood this afternoon. They now plan to operate on Wednesday morning at 7.30 am.
When we arrived here at Zuidafrikaans Hospital, Dr Stevens took more x-rays, and even we can see the abnormality on the 10th rib, that is the cause of concern. We are very glad for the decision they have taken. The 10th rib is the only one attached to the cartilage, so it is not going to be a cut all around - only along the rib from the spine, to the side where the rib ends.
From his check in here - I can't believe the difference that the blood has made to his colour and his general well being. He is feeling and looking more like the JohnD we know!
Thanks for all of your messages and prayers. We are so grateful for them all, and we cherish all of you so much. We are all very positive and looking forward to this part of his treatment being behind us!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rib removal...

We head back to Pretoria early tomorrow morning. JohnD will have an appointment with his Dr at Little Company of Mary, where they will put his port needle in and draw the necessary blood. We will then take him to the Zuidafrikaans Hospital (where he had his surgery in March) and they will admit him for surgery around 1pm. They will be removing the #10 rib on the right side with it's surrounding tissue.
We will be away for approximately a week. They do not anticipate needing to enter the chest cavity, so it will hopefully be less painful and less traumatic as last time.
We covert your prayers and messages. We all really believe that this is the right decision.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Unanimous Decision

After much consultation with specialists on various levels, they have all decided that the best for JohnD is going to be to remove his #10 rib, with the surrounding tissue.
They have scheduled us for surgery on Monday afternoon the 17th August, at the ZuidAfrikaans Hospital in Pretoria. He will be operated on by the same surgeon (Dr Mark Stevens) who did his original operation in March.
We are very relieved that the decision has been made, and that we know what is ahead. His chemotherapy will continue approximately 13 days post op, and we believe that no radiation will be required.
We have our next hunters arriving in camp on the 17th too, so I have much to arrange as we will be away for approximately a week.
This proceedure will be less invasive as his previous surgery, and Dr Stevens does not anticipate having to enter the chest cavity at all. We trust that this will be the case, and that his recovery will be uncomplicated.
We covet your prayers, and we know that our Heavenly Father is in control. None of this is a surprise to Him. We are very glad that we do not have to face the radiation.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Change of plans - update

On Thursday 6th, we saw the Dr in Pietersburg who would do the radiation treatment. It would be about 5 weeks. He is away on leave this week, so we are not going to be starting immediately.

JohnD's Oncologist is in the process of consulting with the necessary specialists to establish if it is possible to remove the piece of the #10 rib affected, or if necessary the entire rib. If possible, they would want to schedule it for next week.

From what we understand, radiation of the ribs will affect the growth of the ribs, as well as some of the lung. Radiation would be done if they are not able to operate, in which case we would begin early next week.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Last of the VIDE - YAY

I hope this won't be too long. What a relief to be home again. All of us just breathe a big sigh and we sure are glad the long sessions of VIDE are over. From what I now understand, we will have an initial appointment with a Dr in Pietersburg who will do JohnD's radiation. We are guessing he will need approximately 25 sessions - which will mean about 5 weeks of driving back and forth to Pietersburg... we are hoping to start on the 11th of August.
He will continue to have chemo even during radiation, but the sessions will be much shorter. The initial one will be about 30 hours (VAI x1) and thereafter about 24 hours (VAC x7) in hospital each time. There will be a total of 8 more chemo to go through.
All of his other sessions of VIDE he really did cope very well. This time he really struggled. He couldn't overcome the nausea and vomiting, he developed a temperature, and very bad diarrohea... They landed up keeping him there an extra day to keep him on the drip, and so we only came home yesterday lunch time. Noodles last night was the first time he has eaten since Wednesday morning. :( At least it stayed down. :)
On Tuesday morning, the did a CT scan, and established that surgery is not necessary! PTL!
Friday morning they did the Bone scan, and it came back clear - confirming there is no spread, so we are all very excited about that.
I had a horrible incident with someone smashing a window on the vehicle and grabbing our laptop. I had parked / locked left the vehicle to take all of JohnD's bags up to the ward. 3 minutes later when I went to collect the second load, it was gone, and there was glass everywhere. A bit nerve wracking to think that they got away with it... and must have been watching me. :( As the laptop had been hidden behind the driver seat, underneath the bags, they must have spotted it when I was offloading... as the vehicle had already been there over an hour without any incident.
It's wonderful to be home again. We have a beautiful sunny day. The lodge is full, so I've got lots to catch up with there. Must go for a quick run, while he is in the bath.
Micaela has been absolutely amazing... so wonderfully helpful and we are so proud of her. Got so many compliments from the guests!

Monday, July 27, 2009

6th of 6...

Back to Pretoria today. Will be back Friday.

Friday, July 24, 2009

6th of 6 - VIDE

We nipped into town quickly this afternoon to have JohnD's blood drawn. It is safe for us to continue with the next session of VIDE. We will head back to Pretoria again on Tuesday the 28th, and will be away until the 31th of July.
Debbie Pedersen (our guests visiting from Grand Rapids) celebrated her 50th birthday with us today. It's wonderful to have a good excuse to bake a cake! ;) Her daughter Sara got a lovely Impala today.
It's turned cold again... brrr
Micaela & JohnD each have a friend visiting tonight, so everyone is happy! His little friend Maruits is turning 9 on Monday, so we need to celebrate his birthday here too - as JohnD couldn't go to his birthday party this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Back to school

Finally back into the routine of school. WONDERFUL!

The incredible power of games... a huge big thanks - yet again - to both the Sligar family, and the Kern family. The portable game toys that you gave have given me leverage! Quite amazing the motivating force. ;) Here is a picture of these two little monkeys of mine just cuddling down just this last cold, damp Saturday - indulging in these wonderful tools!
It took me quite some time to get the correct chargers for them, as our power is different from the USA - but they are making up for lost time!

Dad and Ben went up to Mapungubwe for the night. It's got to be warmer there than here!!! They will no doubt be home this afternoon with some stories.

I took a trip out to Venda with Ben to look for Janell's pots. We found some nice ones. I do love their big pots, and it's always so nerve racking driving home with them on the truck over those bad dirt roads.

Micaela had a nasty scrape on her leg last week Thursday with her horse charging off and running her into a post. She lost quite a bit of skin... It's finally healing nicely - but I guess she has had her first INCIDENT with her beloved horses.

We have the Pedersen family arriving tomorrow - so got lots of cleaning to do, menus, lists, and planning. I'll be in Pretoria again (if his bloods are up to it) from Tuesday, while they will be in Kruger.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sofie's 40th!

JohnD's fever finally broke today, and he started to eat again. Thank you Lord! He is still on his medication. Hopefully tomorrow will be more
Ken, Micaela and I had a fun evening on Saturday night - JohnD stayed home! :( It was Sofie's 40th "Rock Party". Micaela was totally blessed by Delaney with an outfit that I could never have come up with here!!! She looked five years older than her 11 years, and she just had a "Ball"!
Karia had curled her hair, and she even wore some "makeup". She looked amazing. I would have given anything for boots like that when I was her age.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hot 'n Cold

Please pray for my John John... he has a fever, a bad cough and he is not well. He is in bed, and has not been eating.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Home again

Phew - those Pretoria road works are something else... thank goodness for good old "Sally"! Ken got us a GPS... she certainly knows her way around. I keep thinking of Charlie & Sheila Lord, who called their GPS "Fransoir"... Sheila vowed that Fransoir had earned a spot in her will - for all of the navigation arguments Fransoir had saved them!
JohnD pretty much goes into a kind of tunnel with his 4 day treatment, and just "zones out". He doesn't talk much, eats only a very small bowl of oats first thing in the morning. He drinks nothing, and vomits quite a bit. He watches tv, dvd's and sleeps. He doesn't have the energy to play games. I read to him quite a bit in the evening when he is just too low to even sit and watch tv anymore.
He has spent today in bed, and my guess is that by Sunday he will be up and about again, starting to eat little bland meals.
Thanks for your continued prayers and messages!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


It's so bitterly cold here now. Overcast and windy too. Makes for difficult hunting, and early nights! I hope Pretoria is not as cold as here. :(
We head back for JohnD's 5th chemo session early Monday morning again. He has been quiet well. He was glad to have his good pals Maurits and Ivan here for a few nights this week. He always enjoys all of our guests, and both he and Micaela have been joining us for dinner and lunch at the lodge - so it sure breaks the monotony of their day. It's school holidays here now, and they are enjoying just 'hanging'. :)
While I'm on the road to Pretoria, the folks we have with us will head up to Zimbabwe, and we will have David and Janell Brantley join us from Charleston.
Will update again on my return.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Oh I just have to share this with you!!! We had a table set up for the children (all five of them) in the sunset lounge, and we adults were all eating in the dining room. At the point of saying grace, they were trying to determine who should pray. Their ages were discussed, and each was stating how old they were. Ken was outside the sunset lounge, and with the blinds down, the children did not know they had a secret audience! JohnD's comment about his age was that he was 9 years and 4 chemo treatments old!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bouncing back!

We have watched him completely turn around this week, and he is back to 'normal' again - eating like he should, full of mischief, smiles, and enjoying life. His medicine is finished.
We have two little friends here for the weekend - Agnes and her brother Julias Jacobson. They are from Sweden, and their ages match Micaela and JohnD's perfectly! Their parents had to go to Johannesburg for the weekend, so it's a mutually beneficial weekend sleepover!

We will be very sad to say goodbye to the Stone family tomorrow. It's been such a wonderful 12 days for both children - as Delaney has kept them entertained and they have played up a storm.

Young Michael Philpott shot an impressive Nyala this afternoon! Will try publish a photo on my next post!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Pain in the Neck"

After a full week of real throat troubles, mouth ulsers and not eating or drinking - he has finally turned the corner. He has been suffering the side effects of chemo quite badly this time around, with a mucusitis condition to be the worrying problem. This is a very frequent occurring post chemotherapy sequelum. Fortunately, he seems to be on the mend now.
The lodge is busy and pretty full, so that keeps him interested and side tracted. Micaela is delighted to have the undivided attention of Delaney - who is just a year older than her. They certianly have been having fun.
His next chemo session is scheduled for the 6th of July, Lord willing. Ken and I are well - as are Dennis and Carol. The children are looking forward to the July school holidays!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

God is good!

Home again - after VIDE session number 4. We have another two treatments to go on this 1st phase. It will be followed by 7 sessions of VAC treatment. At least the VAC treatment will only mean 24 hours in hospital each 3 weeks, and not four days in hospital!

This time went very much like the last three times... Him watching cartoon network and giggling for the best part of the day. Me sitting with him mending, or reading! Then as the day wears out - he goes down pretty quickly. Here is a snapshot of him managing alittle smile. He really has been doing so very well and we are amazed at how quickly he bounces back. He has been managing little meals - eating really slowly seems to be the key to keeping it down. There is no place like home. :)
Micaela took great pride in working very hard at the lodge while we were away, and proved herself to be a remarkable little "hostess" - so I was VERY proud to hear all of the glowing praise when we got home!

He is now intent on going hunting with Ken this afternoon! The bad weather we have had all week has meant that the hunters have been struggling.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

4th Session

We are off to Pretoria again tomorrow morning for JohnD's fourth session. It will be just him and I - again this time. We will no doubt be in hospital until Thursday.

He has been keeping extremly well and has had a good appetite of late. He is now starting to lose his eyelashes too.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Keeping Busy!

These two of mine really are amazing - they certainly do well at keeping each other entertained and playing together. JohnD has now started teaching Micaela how to shoot his bow!

We had a little friend of Micaela's (Bianca is on the right) come out to spend Saturday night here - and they had fun dressing up!

Ken left today for Thornybush. We have Mike & Mini Victory here from Boise. They will spend a little time in the Hoedspruit area and Kruger National Park, before coming here. While they are here, we will also have David, Deborah and Delaney (12 years) Stone here from Charleston... followed by Peter & Michael Philpott from Fort Worth! It's going to be a busy month!

On Monday I plan to head back to Pretoria again for JohnD's fourth chemo session. Will do blood tests on Friday to check that his levels are safe to continue.
I collect Ben Kern from the airport on Wednesday. We are excited about his arrival too - as he will be here for about eight weeks during our busiest time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A flip in a chopper is just as good a motivation as you can get if you ask me! I've been amazed at how much easier his food goes down when he knows that he won't get a flight, unless he has had all of his breakfast! :) He has had quite a bit of pain in his jaws this time around & meal times have not been as easy as we would like.

The distraction of having the game capturers here also kept him preoccupied - which was a REAL blessing. He motored through his school work too - in anticipation of being able to go to the site where they had the bomas all set up. They love to get onto the lorrys and watch what is happening. On Sunday I joined them - taking a picnic basket and a shade umbrella. I also took my mending basket too!!! It always lands up being quite a long day, sitting around waiting for action... then when the animals come it - it's always so quick you hardly see anything.

On Friday, Micaela and I were able to go to Tzaneen to spend the afternoon and evening with Ilse. Her daughter Julise, was performing in several dance items their school's Culture Evening. It was a real treat for us to be included in this special evening! Julise danced so well, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the evening. On Saturday morning, Micaela and I spent a few hours at their Mall, looking for some winter clothes for her. Louis Trichardt does not have the same choice and variety as Tzaneen!

Got a busy week ahead - looks like Jen is coming down for more shopping in a few days, so it will be nice to see her again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Ball with a Bow...

I've been going back a little and thinking of all of the amazing things that really should be shared. This certainly is one of them, and involves our very dear friends from Tzaneen - Abraham and Ilse de Villiers. Abraham and Corne (Abraham's bow hunting mentor) came out to the farm a few Saturdays ago, to do some measuring and calculating for some work that Corne is going to be doing for us. In the course of the afternoon, JohnD was able to spend some time with the men.

To cut a long story short, Abraham and Corne, with the contributions from the Allesbest Farm folks - gave JohnD a Matthews Compound Bow!

It was all a big surprise, and JohnD was just delighted to unwrap a "real bow". Funily enough, Ken had started making him a bow, and he had started asking all sorts of questions about a "real bow". Abraham and Corne's timing was just amazing.

Well, with this new challenge, it has been just wonderful for JohnD to practice his drawing and aiming skills. His little shoulders and arms are WORN OUT! He proudly told me yesterday evening that he has "actually hit the bull's eye five times now Mom!"

With the location of the port-a-cath on his right shoulder, he is unable to shoot the rifle any more. He was getting pretty good at aiming / shooting with his left hand, and he even got two doves while Biz was here. :)

If he continues to practice so hard and do so well, I guess it will not be long and he will be hunting with it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Half way on First Phase...

Last week Monday (the 11th May), saw us back on the road to Pretoria for session #3 of chemo. With knowing the drill now, it's certainly a lot "easier", in that JohnD knows what to expect. He understands what his reaction to the medication is going to be, and he really manages very well. It's four days in the hospital each time, followed by about 21 rest and recovery days.

He kept himself entertained with the TV cartoons, and with my recent shrew invasion on my cupboard - I had a basket FULL of mending to do!!! We also went armed with our DVD player, loads of books to read, and games too. I really don't know why I pack so much each time, as when he is not feeling well - it all just sits there and looks at us! Then I've got to pack it all up and just lug it all home again. The ward was full this time around, and with so many around us - all fighting this battle - you certainly become aware of how blessed we were to have discovered it and removed it! We are blessed.

The biggest small victory for me was overcoming the challenge of driving in Pretora for the very first time, on my own... without a GPS! I didn't get lost or make a single wrong turn - either going there, or returning home. "Well done me!" Now we won't mention the contents of the call to Ken at 8am in the six lanes of rush hour traffic, with all of the road works on the go!!!

The kids had a ball with some of the tatoos that came in a parcel from the States, and we certainly giggled when JohnD stuck them where he has never been able to stick them before!

His recovery at home seems to take about three days and then we find him eating again, and returning to his normal routine. YES - complete with the usual dose of mischief too... which is good for us all.

While Biz was here, we all had some fun with dye and the t-shirts...

We said bye to Biz today, which was very sad. She was with us for a month, and was such an amazing help. We had our first group of hunters in while she was here - so her timing was perfect. They were Carl Hice and Wes Stockburger - from the other side of the world - literally! Alaska! It really is good to have guests again, and get back into the swing of hunting. We were also blessed to have Terry & Jo Ann Blauwkamp from Michigan return this year again - for their manangement hunt too.

I guess it's back to routine again. We had a game count yesterday morning - the kids got to fly home from school (Dad and Mom's home!) in a chopper!!! Needless to say they arrived with big smiles.

Friday, May 1, 2009

John D Update

Thank you for all of your prayers and letters of encouragement. Each day, we are witnessing the power of prayer and the mercy from our Father. We are so grateful to be blessed with such wonderful family and friends.

On Feb 27th, JohnD had a severe attack of pain over his left side of his chest. We immediately rushed him to the hospital, very anxious that something was seriously wrong. On examination of him, the Dr could not find anything of concern, and suggested that x-rays be taken, to rule out possibilities of problems with the lungs. On the chest x-rays, the large tumor was easily visible, located behind the heart, above the spleen, and inside the lung area.
On the 4th of March, we were referred to a thorasic surgeon at the Zuidafrikaans Hospital in Pretoria. He placed JohnD on the theatre list for the next morning. He removed the tumor, and we then waited for five long days for the diagnosis. My sister, Claire, flew in from Sydney to come and help. She was an angel in all aspects. Her training as a ICU nurse was a tremendous source of comfort to us. While waiting for the results, JohnD had to be taken back into theatre a second time, as there was a build up of fluid on his lungs . While he was under, they did the lumber puncture - to establish the condition of his bone marrow.

After 11 days in ICU, he was dismissed from Hospital, and we came home for four short days. Ken then took JohnD back to Pretoria on the 19th of March to have a port-a-cath put in, and to start with the first session of Chemo. Claire returned to Sydney, and Jenny was able to come and spend a week with me too. She was such a help with both Micaela and JohnD, and also in the office!

Since the first round, he has lost his hair and had some rough days, but we moved on to the second round with more of an idea of what to expect which definitely helped. Another big blessing this time, was Samantha’s home. (She lives in Botswana currently) The house is located just 5 minutes from John D’s room, which as you can imagine, was ideal for us and our family. We were very comfortable. God has been extremely faithful in putting us in the proper hands. John D’s doctor has been tremendous. He has spent immeasurable amounts of time with us answering our questions and addressing our concerns and he is especially good with John D. I have never experienced a more attentive and caring doctor, truly a blessing to us.

After four days of all the various medications, it takes about 2-3 days for John D to start feeling somewhat normal (whatever that feels like). He has the common side effects that he battles with the most, but he is being strong. His friends and my cousins came to visit while he was in the hospital which is always a treat for him. He has gotten to have some play dates here at the house, where he still plays like a 9 year old boy, with a few precautions of course.

We are all doing a bit better as we settle in to a new routine. After giving up pets and making double sure not to spread any outside germs, we are beginning to be able to find a new normal. God has provided strength and a renewed peace of mind with time. For that we are grateful.We are all counting down, only 4 more rounds of treatment to go, and we trust that this battle will be finished. We trust that it has already been fought and won; we just have to make it to the end of this road.
The ranch is showing signs of the change of season, with winter approaching. We are delighted to have four new baby buffalo, and we are looking forward to the arrival of our first hunters from the USA this coming Sunday. We have BIZ with us from the US at the moment, for a month, and she is a tremendous help. She arrived while we were in Pretoria, so that was a lovely surprise for both children. She spent three months with us last year, and is like one of the family. The children continue diligently with their schooling at Dad & Mom’s, providing a much needed haven and sanctuary for them.

Thank you again and God bless Love Ken, Jo, Micaela, JohnD, Dennis & Carol