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Thursday, January 30, 2014

around here

We are doing our best to stay warm around here. This week was filled with snow, and LOTS of it! The kids have only been to school one day this week, and I have serious doubts that they will be going tomorrow. We are watching a lot of Netflix and cooking all kinds of fun things. Here are few pics of the fam playing in the snow.

Of course, just because they had a snow day didn't mean I got to stay home from work. BOO! It took me two hours to get to work yesterday and two hours to get home. That does not make for a happy Momma. When I got home, I didn't know whether to cuss or cry, I was so stressed out. I decided to not do either one, instead I ate a yummy dinner that included homemade biscuits! Thanks, to my hubby for taking good care of me.  I am SO happy that I did not have to work today.

In other news, Chris' Dad is still in the hospital. He has been at Duke for 10 1/2 weeks now. YEP. Isn't that crazy? It really does feel like forever. He has a long road ahead of him, and he has been such a fighter. This last week he was treated for another aspiration pneumonia, but thankfully he is doing much better after 5 days of IV antibiotics. We are praying he gains weight, builds up his strength, and will be ready for one more surgery in the next month or so. I would love for him to be able to go home soon. That is the one thing he asks for the most. Chris is there visiting with him today. The flu season really forced Duke to tighten up on their visitation policy, so sadly he can't see the kids right now. :(

Karsen had her Winter Strings concert last month. It was so much fun, and I am really happy I forced her   she decided to continue with the violin and orchestra as her elective again this year. Her orchestra teacher's comments on her last report card read "she is extremely conscientious". Yes, she is! Honestly, she really loves it too, especially now that they are learning more challenging techniques.

Here are few pictures from concert night. She had to wear all black, but she did get away with a little flower in her hair.

This is her, "Mom, you aren't going to sit there and take pictures the whole time are you?" look. LOL

Aunt Suzy came to watch, and she was even sweet enough to buy Karsen's concert outfit. Thanks, Aunt Suzy! Check out her lace tights in the picture below. Not sure if Momma would have bought those. ;) Check out the laced back.
My Dad was even able to surprise her and watched the concert too.  :)  It was a fun night!
Well, the natives kids are getting restless. They definitely have cabin fever, but I am not braving the roads today--we are staying HOME! I have potato soup in the crockpot for later. Yum! Dylan is watching an X-files marathon, and I have promised Karsen she can "do my make-up". Oh my. :) Hope you are enjoying this cold, winter day too!

Monday, January 13, 2014

"heart and soul" for Gabby

Here's a part of one of the songs the kids played for their Gabby yesterday in the Duke Hospital lobby.

a different kind of holiday

Well, a very belated Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us!

This holiday season was a little different for us. We didn't send out cards. I didn't get a lot of time off work, and it was just different for several reasons. The biggest reason was Chris' Dad has been sick and has been at Duke University Hospital for the past 8 weeks. He has spent 5 1/2 of those weeks in the ICU, and it has been a very heart-wrenching, roller-coaster of emotions past 2 months.

Dylan first fishing trip with Gabby ~2003
Chris' dad's voice started changing over 2+ years ago. He started sounding hoarse for no reason. It was a gradual sort of change, some days you noticed  and some days you didn't. Then it got worse. Fast forward to November 2013, and he one night he started having trouble breathing. He ended up in the ER on a Thursday night, and they asked him to follow up with an ENT. The next Monday he went to the ENT, and he didn't go home after that.

Apparently, his airway was almost completely blocked with what we now know was a stage 4 squamous cell throat carcinoma mass. Throat cancer. He was airlifted to Duke and then proceeded to have 5+ surgeries and procedures over the next 6 weeks. The most invasive was the tracheotomy that was followed by a complete laryngectomy.  His hospital stay has been littered with multiple complications. He developed HIT; heparin induced thrombocytopenia. His platelets were as low as 6,000 at one point. The normal platelet count is usually ~400,000+. This complication put him at risk for spontaneous life-threatening bleeding. That was a scary week. He also had a couple bouts of pneumonia, feeding tube placement, feed tube issues, an ileus, a half-dozen aspiration events, and he now has a large hole in between his esophagus and windpipe that we are praying will heal.

He has been such a fighter. He has day when his spirits are so low, and then he has days where he perks up and you are just awe-struck with his strength and perseverance when he gives you that "thumbs up". Chris has been at the hospital almost each day since Nov 18th. We spent Thanksgiving night and Christmas Day there. His Mother has barely left the hospital at all. It has been such a difficult time for everyone.

Gabby and James, our nephew 2013
Yesterday, we went to visit Gabby, which is what we call Chris' Dad. Dylan was the first grand-child and he had a hard time saying 'granddaddy'. It came out as Gabby, and before we knew it everyone was called him Gabby. It just stuck, and now all the grandkids call him Gabby!

Yesterday was a good day. He was able to leave his room via wheelchair, and we took him up to the top floor and watched a helicopter take off. We went to the 5th floor and looked at the massive pediatric wing fish tank. Then we went down to the lobby, and the kids played him a little piano. He was so happy to see the kids for the first time in a couple of weeks. The hospital really tightened up on their visitation policy due to flu season.

Dylan being shy at first, in the hospital lobby
 Dylan has had his eye on the pretty piano in the main floor hospital lobby since the first visit in November. Yesterday, he got brave enough to take a seat. He got a little more comfortable when Karsen joined him. Gabby was so happy to be out of his room, and he didn't realize it was Dylan and Karsen playing the piano until he came around the corner. His face was so happy. It was a special  moment. My mother-in-law captured it on video. Hopefully I will be able to post it here soon.

Here's hoping 2014 is full of health and happiness for you all! One of my 2014 resolutions is to do more of the things I LOVE. Including blogging... :) (was that my resolution last year too?)

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Happy birthday, Karsen! You are TWELVE! (?!?!?!) One more year until you are officially a teen, however the teenage angst is already here in our house daily! Sixth grade. Middle school. Things are a' changing!

Just yesterday we went shopping, and we did not agree on a shirt. You loved it, and I hated it. You said "Don't dull my sparkle, Mom". LOL I cracked up. It hurt my feelings for a second, and then it just made me laugh. I think this is foreshadowing of the years that are to come.

As IF anyone could dull your sparkle...

You loved performing in the 5th grade play last year, but you refuse to let me record you singing! You love to sing even more than you did when you were little. BUT you refuse to sing on command. Absolutely not. Only when you want to of course!

This is my favorite pic of you from this past summer.

This year you loved soccer, and you decided maybe you didn't want to do gymnastics anymore. That was tough for me to swallow, but I realized I just wanted you to have fun no matter which sport you chose. And you happened to have quite a foot on you when it came to soccer. Yay!
You don't believe in Santa anymore. And you said this would probably be the last year you dressed  up for Halloween.
However, you have fleeting moments when are definitely still your Daddy's little girl.
Funny enough, you are probably the person in our house with the MOST common sense, and I love that about you.  Math is your favorite class in school and this last report card you made all A's, with averages higher than 97% in each subject. The Principal's List. So proud.
You are definitely in between. You now raid my closet, and find things that I don't tend to wear or I'd forgotten were in there. On your birthday Dad took you shopping and you decided you did not want hot chocolate, you wanted a hot caramel mocha latte. Dad took this picture of you in my scarf  :) with your big girl coffee. Oh my. Be still my heart. Slow down, sweet girl.
Yep, times are a' changin'. Not so much a little girl anymore. At this last pediatrician appointment for 11/12 year old well check-up you were:
Height-62 inches or 5 foot 2 in at 90% height on growth chart
Weight- 90 lbs or 40% weight on growth chart
(yes, you gained 20 lbs in the last year!) WOW!
We are very close to being the same size in most clothes suddenly!
And here is your 6th grade, middle school school pic!

Happy 12th birthday, Karsen Grace!

Karsen, you are a light in our lives. I love your spirit and your quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) strength and determination. We love you to the moon and back! Don't ever let anyone dull your sparkle! Love, Mom

Looking back over the years....

Deciduous Heather