I wanted to get the activities up first, then get the mushy sappy part up separately. Ready for part 2? The holidays always make me feel reflective, so I have a hundred posts swimming around in my head. I'll have to get them out little by little. A few things I want to share:

This adorable young lady, Brooklyn, is the daughter of one of the women in my aerobics class. Her mom came up to me last week and said her daughter has been reading back on the blog and wanted to meet Brinley. We arranged for them to meet, and Brinley was very excited. When they met she had hand-made several hair bows and written her a personal letter. She is 13 years old. At 13 years old, I did NOT have that kind of compassion. She reminded me of everything that is good in the world. As I saw her compassion for a little girl she didn't know who had gone through some hard stuff, I realized that I don't know how smart she is. I don't know how athletic she is. I don't know what her GPA is or how well she reads or does math. If she represents the future of humanity, I don't care about any of that stuff. I know we will be in good hands because compassion is what makes us strong. All that other stuff is just.....stuff. It comes after compassion for each other. Thank you Brooklyn for showing me what is good and right and wonderful in the future generation.

Another thing that has happened....we cut the "chemo curls". Brinley has not even had a trim (besides bangs) since her hair started growing back in. She had these adorable ringlets, but only at the very end of her hair. As much as I loved them, they were getting straggly, and it was time to say goodbye to them. I had to make an event out of it, because I will miss those chemo curls. She didn't have them before cancer. There is still a little curl left though, I was happy about that. And it looks much healthier!

And then...we celebrated a new year. For us, it was different than the normal celebration of a new year. We have been handed a new life. A second chance to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. We've seen the ugly, now we get to see the lovely part of life. And some kind of magical thing has happened. Things look better. I guess something about staring at the ugly for so long makes the beautiful more noticable. I think that is what Heavenly Father intended when he gave us this life. To experience agony that would help us see and appreciate true joy. I am thankful for that. And I wouldn't take any of this back if I could. To take it back would be to go back to who I was before this. I would have to give so much of who I am now back to take away this trial. Watching your child suffer is agonizing, but if I were given the choice, I wouldn't change it. These things make us who we are. I gained a piece of myself during this, one more piece in my journey. And many more to come I'm sure. And so did Brinley. She will always know she endured this. She will always know what she went through. It will be a piece of her, but not all of her. I won't give cancer that satisfaction. She beat it, and she will move on from it. She will move on, and it will not define her, but it will be a piece of her.

This year starts in a happy place for us. I am well aware of those around me who are starting this year in a difficult place. I have several friends in and out of the cancer community who are staring a very grueling year in the face. My heart aches for you because I know what that feels like. For two years in a row my New Years Resolution looked like this:

To survive the year.

I actually wrote that on paper. I knew if I put anything else on that list I would fail. And at the end of each of those years, I looked at my resolution and smiled. Because there I was, alive. This year, I made different resolutions. However, I will not work one bit harder to achieve them than I did on that resolution to survive the year. I am just in a different place, and my hard work can be directed elsewhere. Some years, we need to just survive.

January 1, 2011 I woke up and ran 4 miles, the longest I have ever run in my life. Pathetic for most people, yes. Awesome for a hating-on-running-my-whole-life-ME!!! Ah, I do believe I forgot to mention I met my weight loss goal of 24 pounds when Brinley finished treatment. I have since lost 5 more (Christmas treats KILL ME) and am within 10 lbs of my overall goal.

I hope no matter where you are 2011 will bring you some good. There is always good to be found. And for us, BRING ON 2011!!!

Brinley has been battling all kinds of things the last couple weeks. Two weeks ago she got an ear infection in her left ear and was put on antibiotics. She also got pink eye AGAIN. She woke up the other night in a lot of pain in her right ear. A trip to the pediatrician yesterday confirmed an ear infection now in her right ear. She started another course of antibiotics yesterday. Last night she woke up with a screaming fever (none of these ear infections have caused fever) and a massive headache. She threw up, possibly from the pain, possibly from some kind of bug she has caught from who knows where. I'm not sure if she has the flu or what, but I am hoping it passes quickly. Just an interesting tidbit, her good friend Serenity had the exact same thing happen right off treatment, with pink eye and an ear infection. Weird, huh?

The good news: the middle of the night fever was not a "quick, pack the bags and get her to the ER" fever. Those days are gone! We were able to treat it from home. However, I was dying to know what her counts were. It is hard to not have that information at our fingertips.

There is so much to update I'll have to do it in two parts. We had a wonderful holiday, the best ever. Here are some highlights:

We went to a rest home to do a musical performance, a new tradition for us, but my siblings have done it a few years while we lived in Vegas. It was wonderful, the kids loved it and the people there were so gracious and kind. You know how it can be when kids are performing, not always smooth sailing. It was so much fun though and I can't wait to do it again next year. I didn't get any good pics of the performance because we were videotaping it too, but here's one of Brinley meeting one of the people there.

The cousin party! All the cousins that live here get together each year and exchange gifts. One of the best parts of Christmas for the kids. They have so much fun together. In the picture, Mylee was scared and just cried and cried. She kept coming up to me not sure why people were kneeling on top of me. But check out the smiles of my two girls in the top left. Sorry Mylee, it was too fun to stop :) My brothers and sisters all married such great people and we love being with them. I just wish the ALL lived here...ahem...Matt and Jen.....

And the newest cousin was added to the family. Welcome little Brooklyn, and congrats to the NEW parents, Alissa and Craig. She is beautiful and I just want to eat her up. Seriously. Kinda creepy, I know.

The parties seemed endless, but we didn't want to miss any of them! We went to the HopeKids party and had a great time. You all know they are the best! Thank you HopeKids!

The next night we went to the BYU Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation. The feeling that is there is absolutely amazing. This is the man who started it, "on a wing and a prayer" 14 years ago, Mac Boyter.

Getting some knuckles from a BYU player, well he was trying to get knuckles, I'm not sure what Brinley was trying to do.
Taylor with one of the players.

We decided this will be our last year attending (long story with absolutely nothing negative in it....) and I was so sad this year to know we would not be there next year. I love them. I really love them for what they do. Our first year there, we were desperate. I mean desperate. They picked us up, gave us a hug and brought joy to a Christmas that could have been so bleak. They made it beautiful. Thank you CCCF.

Here is a picture of Brinley the first year we were there. She had just received chemo and was feeling awful.

We ended up in the ER that night.

Christmas Eve tradition #1, the Nativity. I've been doing that since I can remember. Everything went great until Mary delivered baby Jesus and Mylee realized that was HER baby they were trying to put in the manger. Things went downhill from there, but being the experienced mother that I am, I took the picture BEFORE we started because I knew it may not end well. Never take a picture at the end of an activity. Learned that the hard way.

Tradition #2 that I believe may very well be held by everyone and their dog: CHRISTMAS EVE PAJAMAS!! Here are the girls modeling their new PJ's.

On David's day off he built a snow fort with Jade. Let's just say she was in heaven.

There you have it, our holiday activities in a nutshell. More to come....