Sunday, June 24, 2012

Breathing again...

My CT scan came back showing a narrowing in my trachea- which is good news considering all the things that could have been wrong!  My doctor called me the day before I was to meet with him and told me he made an appointment with a Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist for me.  I needed to have a scope done to show what was causing the narrowing and so he sent me to a specialist that would make the scope as easy as possible.  The scope went well and immediately it showed the problem.  I have what is called tracheal stenosis- which is scar tissue in my trachea.  I was only getting about 10% of the air I was supposed to be getting.  There was so much scar tissue that my trachea opening is only the size of a straw.  No wonder I've been so tired and out of breath!  It's easy to fix but can be an ongoing problem if we don't figure out what's caused it.  They did some blood work and then when I have my outpatient surgery on Wednesday, he'll take some biopsies.  I hope we can figure it out because I don't want to continue to pay so many medical bills.  I figure this will cost me about $3,000.00 out of pocket... and I had just finished paying all my medical bills for my previous surgery!  UGHHH!!! I won't complain though, because truly considering all the things that could have caused my breathing issues- this is an easy one to fix!  I am also very thankful that my team of doctors worked together to get me my prognosis so quickly.  I've been researching my condition online and many people go years trying to figure out what is wrong!  I have a great surgeon and look forward to Wednesday's surgery.  The surgery will be at Duke and only takes about an hour.  I'll need a day or two of rest and I should be good to go!  I'll be a little hoarse and my throat will hurt but I will be able to breathe!!!!  The problem with the surgery is that anytime there is surgery scar tissue grows... well that's what has caused my problem... and so that's why it's a never ending circle unless you figure out the underlying reason.  Fingers crossed that they can figure it out! 

The weirdest symptom occured on Friday when we were picking Brennan up from camp. Suddenly my eyes became very blurry and I spent the evening like I was living in a cloud.  I could make out outlines of things and could get around well enough, but I couldn't see any details.  It was truly freaky.  It lasted about two hours and then my left eye got better.  By morning my right eye was normal but both eyes were super sensitive and wouldn't focus very well.  By Saturday afternoon everything was back to normal.  Weird!!!!  I was wondering if maybe it had to do with me going off my steroids- maybe my system was out of whack because of it.  It truly made me appreciate my great eyesight on a normal day! 

I'm hoping to feel well enough to start the drive to Wisconsin by Friday or Saturday.  We can't wait to get started! Looking forward to our first stop in Aurora, IL, with Leah and her family.  Then we'll head to Madison... so many people and family members to see!  We are so excited!

I just have to comment on how much I miss Jan too!  I am writing my blog as more of a diary for myself these days but I miss my number one fan who never missed a post!  I hope you are able to read them in heaven Jan!  We love and miss you!!!!  Kate said a prayer the other day for you and Brennan has been sharing stories about you with Kate.  Thank you for always being so wonderful, loving, kind, and sweet!  We love you so much!!!

More Camp Days

On Sunday we drove Brennan to Camp Chestnut Ridge for his first overnight camp experience.  We were so proud of him for his positive outlook and excitement about camp, even though he didn't know anyone!  We registered him and took him to his cabin- Oak Cabin.  He was excited to get the top bunk and started getting to know the other nine campers he'd share the cabin with for the week.  We said our goodbyes and headed back to Raleigh praying that camp would be a great experience for our sweet boy!  I remember my camp experiences as some of the best times in my life.  I also remember how much stronger camp made my faith journey and how much more confident it made me.  I prayed that the same would be true for Brennan!  I think we were more nervous than Brennan was!

He got the top bunk!  This is his
secret symbol for saying camp is

He even has his friends doing the secret
symbol!  I love my kid!

Kate was so excited about her camp
experiences too!

Here is Brennan's cabin on the first night.
We took Kate to her first night of Vacation Bible School at a church up the road and she was so brave too!  She gave us a kiss and told us she'd be okay.  She imitated her brother and wanted to be as grown up as him.  It was very sweet!  Off we went... and our house seemed so quiet without either child!  I really wasn't sure what to do .... and so Dave and I just watched a movie together.  It was great to just sit and relax and not have to take care of anyone for a few hours. 

Kate's Vacation Bible School went from 6:00- 8:30 PM Sunday through Thursday.  She LOVED it and they loved her!  They were so happy to have her as part of their church for the week!  On Monday she went with me to The Raleigh School.  I had to teach a Lego Camp to 15 six and seven year old boys and one sweet (and brave) little girl.  Kate went to Treasure Camp at the preschool.  She was very excited to pack her lunch each day and had a great time.  My Lego Camp was fun to teach as well and the kids were so adorable!  With Kate in camp from 9:00- 1:00 each day and then camp again at night- the week went really fast!  Of course stick a physical therapy appointment in there  for Kate as well as a doctor visit for me, and a Vacation Bible School program Thursday night and before we knew it, it was time to pick Brennan up from camp.  We couldn't wait to get him and hear all about the week!

Throughout the week we looked for pictures of Brennan on Camp Chestnut Ridge's Facebook page as well as their photo page.  We saw a few pictures of Brennan on Tuesday and could tell he was having a great time!  We were so excited for him.  He gave us the "secret symbol" in one picture that said "camp is GREAT!".  We love that he used our secret symbol to convey that to us!  We were also thankful that we could e-mail him each day!  He said he got the most mail of everyone!

We arrived at his camp at 6:00 PM and drove back to his cabin.  He was hanging out front with his friends and they were hugging each other and laughing.  His camp counselors said what a great week they had too!  We went to eat dinner with everyone and loved the food!  After dinner some of the camp kids went to the front of the room to sing some of the camp songs and Brennan immediately joined them!  We were shocked!  Brennan hates being in front of any group and doesn't like singing...  well here he was singing at the top of his lungs, doing all of the actions, smiling a huge smile, and having a great time!  I was so happy to see him like this that it literally brought tears to my eyes!  I am not usually an emotional person (especially in public) yet here I was wiping a few tears away!

On the hour ride home Brennan talked nonstop about all the fun he had and he continued talking clear until bedtime!  Brennan barely shares much with us but told us so much on Friday.  Some of the sweetest comments were that he shared a concern that his grandma had died and how good everyone made him feel, that he was a little homesick the first night and his counselor gave him (Brennan) his moose to sleep with to make him feel better, and that Claire (one of the counselors) thought Brennan had the best hair and kept playing with it all week. I could tell how special Claire made Brennan feel.  It truly was a magical week for Brennan and was everything I had prayed it would be.  We wanted Brennan to become more confident, more responsible, and walk closer to God- and all of our wishes came true!  We will always be thankful for the campership assistance program and our church that made camp possible for Brennan!  Camp Chestnut Ridge has given over $17,000.00 in funds to help kids with financial difficulties to attend camp. They said they have never turned a child away!  What a great program- I truly hope to pay it forward someday and help make camp a possibility for many children in years to come.  And our church paid the rest of the fees for us without even a moment's hesitation.  Our church understands how magical camp is and wanted the same for Brennan.  Once again we have been blessed and our prayers have been answered! 

The day after camp, Brennan's fun summer continued when he went to Wet and Wild with a friend for the day.  What a great summer so far!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Camp Days!

Brennan started his summer vacation by going with a friend to Great Wolf Lodge for a night. They enjoyed two days at the waterpark and it was a great kick off to Brennan's summer! 

These guys have been buddies since they
were four years old!  So sweet together!

Kate attended Open Door Tae Kwon Do Camp June 11- 15th from 9:00- 11:30 AM everyday!  This was such a fun camp!  Julie also took her kids, so Kate was happy to hang with her friends!  Julie also brought Kate home for me each day saving me 40 minutes in the car (roundtrip).  Thanks Julie!  We are going to see a "showcase" tomorrow of all the things Kate has learned... and I heard she even gets to break a board!  How fun! 

Kate, Aleah, and Ethan

Kate loved being able to help Aaron
during camp!  He would come in
and ask for Kate!
Julie and the kids (Aaron, Ethan, Jack, and Aleah) came and swam at our pool on Monday.  Brennan had a friend over so there were seven kids altogether- fun summer days!  I went to a friend's going away party that evening.

On Tuesday Kate had PT and was exhausted afterwards!  I spent most of the day organizing the attic and Brennan enjoyed a lazy day! 

Wednesday I had a doctor's appointment with a pulmonary specialist.  I have been out of breath and wheezing for awhile and the regular doctors haven't been able to figure it out.  I've had a chest x-ray, blood work, a week of steroids, and an inhaler- it all helped a little but not enough.  At the doctor's appointment on Wednesday I had a breathing test- kinda cool!  They are treating me with more steroids (oral and an inhaler) for a week and then I have to go back.  According to my breathing test results, though, my doctor doesn't think it's asthma.  He tends to think there is a blockage of some sort.  I'll have a CT scan done on Monday to see if they can see the blockage.  More bills to pay... oh well!  I am very impressed with my doctors so far and look forward to not running out of breath so often! 

Thursday Brennan had a friend over and so we all went fishing when Kate returned from camp.  The boys also went fishing by the tunnel near our house and built a squirrel trap. I love their creativity!  His friend ended up staying until 8:00 PM!

And today we are going to my school so I can get ready for the camp I am teaching next week.  We'll also watch the drama camp play and then go to a friend's house for a pool party get together.  I love summer!!!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Happy Family Day!

On June 7th it was amazing to think about our last year together!  It's hard to believe that Kate has been in our family for a year already!  What a year it has been!!!!

At times it was a lot harder than I ever imagined it would be... but at other times it was the most amazing experience ever!  If I could do things over, I'd make sure Dave and I got out alone A LOT more often!  I think that would have helped me to have more patience.  Some days I would go from my 22 cute (but needy) second graders straight home to my own two amazing (but needy) children.  I was so busy trying to take care of everyone else that I didn't have any time or energy to take care of myself or my relationship with Dave.  The good news is that we survived it all and we all still like each other.  LOL!  The other good news is that summer is here!!!!  I have nine weeks off to just focus on my family! I am so excited!

We have all grown this past year in so many ways.  Brennan is much more accustomed to having a little sister.  The other day he came home from his friend's house and commented that his friend and their sibling fight a lot more than Kate and him!  He even went so far to say that Kate was actually a pretty good sister!  He will share drinks with her now, wants to sleep in the same room with her, and is okay if he finds me or Dave snuggling with her.  He used to not share any drinks (germs) and got mad and would walk off if we were snuggling with her.  Now he just plops down next to us and yells, "Family Hug!"  I asked him a month or so ago if he liked Kate and he immediately commented, "Duh mom!  I love her!  She's family."  I still wish it would have been love at first sight like I had imagined it would be, but it's getting there! 

Kate speaks perfect English now and understands that this is her family!  She knows that if we go away for a little bit, that we'll always come back.  It's nice to be able to go to the grocery store alone without leaving a screaming Kate at the door.  Now I can say I'm running out for a bit and she runs over to give me a kiss and continues playing.  She still cries but it is less and less often and not nearly as dramatic!  Our house is much quieter and calmer these days!

I look forward to the next year!  I breathe a sigh of relief that we all survived this last year!  It really was one of the toughest years of my life in many ways... but during this year I had some of the most amazing, memorable days as well!  I wish it could have been easier, but I do believe that we'll all be more empathetic people because of our experiences!  Maybe we all grew closer together too!  I hope they look back at our last year and have many laughs in years to come!  We would have been a good reality TV show! 

I ask for forgiveness from my friends and family if during my stressful days I let you down... being with Jan's friends at her funeral reminded me that true friends forgive and forget!  Thank you to all my true friends!  I have been blessed with all of you!  Family is stuck with us no matter what, but Dave and I are lucky to have such great families!  We love you guys!

We have been blessed with our two amazing children!  I look forward to the next chapter in our lives! 


In front of the lake at Camp
Chestnut Ridge during their
open house.
 I'll just write a few updates about our family... 

I had applied for a camp scholarship for Brennan to attend Camp Chestnut Ridge.  If we were granted this scholarship they would pay up to $200.00 of the fees that would be matched by our church.  I was hoping they would give me $50.00 and the church would match that.  Somehow I would still need to come up with what I thought would be $350.00 or so...

I picked this camp for his first overnight experience because it was only five nights and they had a program called Kid vs. Wild.  If you know Brennan, you know he loves survival skills, fishing, hunting, etc.  Dave and I have many reasons for wanting to send Brennan to camp this summer because we both know how camp helped us grow as people when we were his age as well as in our faith journey.  The camp is sponsored by the Methodist Church and part of the scholarship application was to get a letter of recommendation from your church pastor.  I sent an e-mail to Jay Minnick and included the letter of why I wanted Brennan to attend this camp.  He immediately replied back and said what a great letter I wrote!  He agreed that camp would be perfect for Brennan and continued to say that the church would cover the cost of whatever the scholarship did not cover! Camp would be completely paid for!!!!  Wow!  We are blessed and now I pray that camp is a great experience for Brennan.  He will be attending the week of June 17th.  Not sure what we'll do without our sweet boy for five nights! 

We took Brennan to an open house at camp in late April.  We all had fun boating, fishing, taking a hay ride, doing crafts, eating, and making S'mores.  Brennan started getting excited!                                                                                                                                                                   
Kate can't wait until she's old
enough to go to camp!  If
she had her choice, she'd be
going this year alongside her
 Dave was in Minnesota when it was Kate's kindergarten open house.  He was sad to miss this event but we told him all about it.  I was so impressed with Hilburne Academy and very happy that we got our first choice in schools!  Kate was a little nervous to go off with the kindergarten teachers during the open house but off she went.  While they were busy entertaining the future kindergarteners, we learned all about this project based, hands on learning, small class sizes, and amazing school!  When the kids walked back in, Kate was absolutely BEAMING!!!  She hugged the teacher that she had been with and did a happy dance the rest of the night!  The other day she asked me if I had signed her up for the bus yet...  She's five going on fifteen sometimes!!!!  Not sure we'll actually let her take the bus, but we're not telling her that anytime soon!  Hee hee!
Zamboni loves his new bed.
Our 15 year old "grandpa dog"
is more and more like a raccoon
everyday.  His only thoughts
revolve around food and

Kate is ready for kindergarten!  She had a
great time visiting her school that she
will attend in August!

This is one of Kate's favorite dresses.
She calls it her "summer dress" and
wears it at least once a week.  She
really is a princess in training!

This picture is blurry but we are at a Cinco de Mayo party
at our friends' house.  Brennan decided to go to another
friends' house instead but Kate went with me and had a
great time on the huge slip and slide that they had rented
for the evening!  It was such a fun night!
 Brennan on the tennis courts.
Kate was so excited for her sleepover at Julie's!  Julie
had thirteen kids overnight to celebrate her son's birthday.
She is a brave lady!  Kate had a blast!
Brennan is enjoying his games of tennis with
Dave.  They have gone a few times so far.
Kate's preschool couldn't have been more
perfect for her this year!  We will
forever be grateful that we found Julie!
She is AMAZING!!!!  Of course having Erika watch
Kate on Fridays was perfect too!
Kate and her future "husband".
Kate was sad to find out that I
was already married and so said
she'd marry Aron instead.  She's
a "cougar" cuz Aron is only three!
Kate had been waiting
for baby Jordan (Julie's sister's
baby) to be awake so she could
hole him.  They both look so
This is a princess, bike riding,
ball playing Kate.  She is
often running around in her
princess dresses.
Brennan participated in the first ever Raleigh School
Team for Science Olympiad.  He worked with a friend and
entered the "All Charged Up" competition (magnets
and electricity)... and they won GOLD!  He
was very proud wearing his gold medal! 
Overall TRS did an amazing job this year!!!!

This is the turtle that lives in Julie's garden.
We love Julie and felt sad that Kate's
preschool year was coming to an end.
Kate's last day was June 7th.