Monday, May 30, 2016

Post op day 6

Abby had a better day today!  Her emotions were under control and there weren't nearly as many tears today!  She worked super hard today and pushed through the pain.  She did great with pt and even climbed a flight of stairs like a rock star!!  I was shocked at how well she did.  The PT actually signed off on her (not that she's fine, but that she is safe and we are trained to take care of her at home.  

We still aren't sure when we will go home.  That's up to Dr. C., who is still in charge even when he is away.  Love that about him!!

We did a few crafts today to pass the time and keep her sitting up in her chair.  This was one of them!


Lots of things were better today!
* Abby climbed the stairs and was cleared from pt.
* Her attitude was much more positive today!  The pain is excruciating and she was definitely hurting, but her attitude about working hard was much better.
* Certain post-op tummy issues were causing problems.  That pressure was finally relieved today! :)
* She took a nap today without oxygen.  This is progress!

Prayer requests:
* That we can hang in there for a few more days!!!
* Abby can continue to work hard and get stronger.  Walking is still very hard for her.
* She will tolerate her feed tonight and not have anymore vomiting.
* Caleb and Matt can hold down the fort at home.

Your prayers are working!!  Thank you!!

Our Puke-Free Streak is Over

So much for no puking.  Out of the blue with no warning, Abby got sick tonight after being asleep for over an hour.  She was on her side and puked all over her picc line.  Not good.  So in addition to washing her up, cleaning her hair, changing her clothes, and remaking the bed, (all while standing and being in pain!) the poor girl had to have her picc line dressing changed (with lots of tape removal) at 11:30 pm.  No fun.

If you read my last post, you know she was already teetering.  This just pushed her over the edge.  I held her after the nurses left and just let her cry.  Thankfully, she's asleep again now (still needing oxygen) and hopefully the rest of the night will be calmer.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Post op day 5

 After a good night's sleep at RMH, Caleb and I walked back to the hospital to find that Abby had already had walked down to the playroom with pt!  Then ot came to  work on some functional skills like getting dressed.  

Caleb and Matt went to the Philadelphia Zoo today.  They had a great time, but I wish we all could have been there.  

 They brought Abby back a baby for Mia (her beloved red panda)!  She is in love!  The baby's name is Maya.


We did some painting with water colors today.  Abby painted a tree.  This is the final product.


This evening after they left and we ate dinner, I encouraged Abby to take another walk with me.  She is supposed to walk at least twice a day.  She pitched a humongous fit and screamed at me all down the hallway so loudly that the nurses came out to see what the ruckus was about!  I tried many times to explain why we needed to walk, but it didn't matter.  When we finally made it to the playroom and she was sitting again, she continued to scream about how awful I am.  Her sweet nurse came in to reason with her and explain how important walking is.  It didn't help much.

When we got back to the room, I sat down and told her how much I love her and that I am only here to help and take care of her.  My poor, sweet girl burst into tears and said, but it just hurts so much!  

Guys, this is tough.  This little girl is trying to cling to the tiny amount of control she still has over her life right now.  She's scared, hurting, and frustrated and doesn't know how else to express it.  She sincerely (and without prompting) apologized for being mean to me.  I know she isn't trying to be nasty.  I wish I could take all of this away!!

I only take pictures of the happy moments, but I thought it was important to share with you just how tough this is on Abs.  She is really hurting, physically and emotionally.  Pictures can be deceiving. She's making progress, but every step is painful.

Despite the rough evening, there were some things that were better about today!
 * Abby can now walk holding just one hand, with an occasional hand on the wall for extra support.
* We got a mat for the floor to practice transitions, and she's getting better every time!
* Abby got to feel the warm weather today when we went outside for a few minutes.
* She can get in and out of her wheelchair without a step stool now. 
* She can get in and out of bed with support, instead of us doing all of the work.

Prayer requests:
* Caleb and Matt leave tomorrow.  Pray that both kids handle the separation ok.  It's hard being apart.
* Pray for Abby's emotions and pain level and that she will be able to express them appropriately.
* Pray that I can show Abby my unwavering love and that she will know that everything I'm doing is to help her.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Post op day 4

Since my sweet boy is in town, Matt stayed with Abby today so that we could hang out together.  We went to see Angry Birds at a local theater we walked to. 



 It was cute, but not 3D worthy (we saw it in 3D because the time of that showing worked best for us).  

Now we are back to RMH for the night so that I can hopefully get a good night's sleep!  

This morning, in typical Abby fashion, she not only walked, but walked the complete length of the hallway!  She needs lots of support, but she is doing it!! What a determined little girl.  

What is better about today:
* The drains and pain catheter came out, so she doesn't have anything tying her down!

* She is starting to improve her mobility.  It's still pretty limited, but she is getting there!

* she is continuing to eat like a champ!

* Because she isn't tied down now, we can go off the floor for short amounts of time.

Prayer Requests:
* continued pain management
* increased mobility


Friday, May 27, 2016

Post op day 3

As you read in my quick post, Abby was cleared for pt.  We haven't heard Dr. Campbell's official word about the sturdiness of the unique anchor he created, but at least she can start moving.  

The pt came at 11 and got Abby out of bed.  She sat on the edge of the bed, stood holding on to the bed, and sat in her wheelchair.  OT came later and did some similar work with her.  She will get daily OT and PT for as long as she is here, but we will also work with her. 

She is in a ton of pain from any kind of movement--ANY.  Standing hurts a lot in her hips, so she could only do it with a lot of support for about a minute.  She is also having trouble sitting up straight and holding her head up.  The left side seems to hurt more, so she is leaning on her right side.  We are trying to get her to sit up straighter, but it's hard for her.

Walking or lifting her legs higher than 3 inches off the ground is a no-go for now. It just isn't happening.  We are assuming that she will be sleeping on the main floor for a while when we get home. I told her we can have a camp out. :).  We will figure out a set up that will allow her to easily get in and out of bed without it being too low or too high.

We were able to figure out a way for her to safely get into her wheelchair without having to step up so much.  Any sort of shuffling (we are talking two or three shuffles of barely lifting feet of the ground toward the wheelchair or potty) requires a lot of support.  Matt tried just holding both hands tonight and she needed more.  

This recovery is going to take a lot longer because it affects her legs so much more.  She will regain her range of motion, but it will take time and a lot of hard work.  The Leach Therapy Center is open for business!! :) I contacted her private therapist today to let her know what to expect, and she said she would take us as often as we could get there.  

I was already glad we got her wheelchair, but now I realize it will be a necessity for a while!  Our pt here mentioned the possibility of Abby getting a walker to support herself while she is regaining her strength, so we will see.  

What Was Better About Today:

* She got rid of her PCA, which means no continuous stuff running into her!  She can be less attached!  

*. Abby has tolerated food and meds WONDERFULLY this time!!  She is usually a pukey girl, but I tried some new techniques this time that worked really well.  CHOP is great about listening to parents, and I'm really glad this worked!

* She made it to the playroom!!  This made her very happy!

* The dressing change is done and over with.  It's not pleasant, but it's done!

* She got in her wheelchair and is able to be mobile now.  She is tolerating her chair really well, so she can sit and play games.  

* Abby is eating SUPER well now!!!  I was amazed at everything she was eating!!  Come to find out, the order for her appetite stimulant was accidentally triple what we give her at home...but it is a confirmed safe dose and she is eating better than I have ever seen her!!

But the best part of my day was this:


MY WHOLE FAMILY IS HERE!!!!!  I'm so excited for us all to be together for the long weekend!!!  Abby was thrilled to see him.  I think he will be a good motivator this weekend.  I talked to him in the hall about Abby's very limited mobility before she got out of bed so that he would know what to expect, and he seemed ok with it.  He takes Abby in stride! 

Prayer Requests for today:

* we will have an awesome weekend as a family without any drama :)

* we will learn how to adapt things for Abby and be able to meet her needs at home.  

* She will continue to work hard and fight through the pain.  

Quick update

We are cleared!  Praise God!  They said the CT looks ok.  Pt is coming in a few minutes and ortho is changing the dressings now because she has a lot of drainage (enough to soak her bed).  We premedicated her in hopes to minimize pain.

Thank you for praying!!  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

In the PICU

 Abby is settled into the PICU and sleeping pretty fitfully, which is to be expected.  She wakes up about every 10 minutes in need of another push of her PCA pump!  They don't have her on continuous meds right now because she was drugged up more than usual in the OR, so we will see how it goes.  The Fellow has been great about deferring to me and asking lots of questions about her history. 



She is currently on oxygen and has a trumpet in her nose to clear her airway (her tongue still flops back and obstructs it at times), which she hates!  The only sentence she has said is, "There's something in my nose!!"  The plan is to keep it in until she wakes up more.  If she needs more support than that, she will go on Cpap.  We have done that before, so it's no big deal in the grand scheme of things!

The poor girl about lost it when they rolled her to look at her back.  :(. It's safe to say that she is pretty majorly hurting!

She's a bit famous in the PICU for having 4 veptrs, which is apparently uncommon.  Everyone was oogling over her Xrays. I didn't realize that it was that uncommon! She really is the bionic woman!

Every day gets a little better.  Every day gets a little better.  Every day gets a little better.  

Post op day 2

Long post warning!! 

This recovery has been so weird.  In many ways, she has done great!  She hasn't had any of the pulmonary issues she usually struggles with, and that's awesome!  

But some concerns have kept her from being cleared for PT, so we can't do anything with her.  Except for going on the bedside potty, she isn't allowed to move.  We haven't even been able to work on sitting up--she is unable to hold herself upright while laying in bed.  She needs to be supported by a blanket roll at this point.  Her legs continue to cause severe pain from the hip down the thigh, and I found out why:  Dr. Campbell takes muscle from the hip to support the VEPTR.  We were told her range of motion in her legs will be pretty drastically affected, but that she can gain it back with lots of work.  

A CT was supposed to be done this morning to examine the area of concern, but additional dialogue needed to happen with Dr. Campbell to find out what images he needed.  She ended up getting it around 3:30, but no one seems to have results yet.  It has been a stressful "hurry up and wait" situation that has taken its toll on me!  We are hoping and praying that Dr. Campbell likes what he sees in the CT and that nothing further will need to be done.  

For being almost completely immobile, she is able to play quite a bit.  We played another hand of Uno, where she beat me fair and square once again!  She did some coloring and a few crafts.  Her personality is coming out a bit more.  It's hard for her to talk too much because of the pain and effort it takes to push air out, but she can still find a way to be sassy! :)



The highlight of her day was when her friend Pawle (pronounced Paul) came to do music therapy with her!  She loves when he visits, and it's so fun for her to play real instruments. He is such a cool guy!




As is our routine, Abby and I talk each night before bed about what was better about today.  Here's our list:

* We now have our own room!  Dr. Campbell told us to expect to be here at least another week with this set-back.  When our nurse heard that, she went right out and told the charge nurse that we needed our own space!  Bless her!!! I thanked her profusely!  It is a lovely corner room that is all ours!!  

* Abby got to do music therapy with Mr. Pawle! :)

* Matt and Caleb are coming up tomorrow night for the whole weekend!  We can't wait to see our boys!

* Abby is off of oxygen while awake, and being monitored while asleep.  If she needs it, we put it on.  So far, so good tonight!  I'm making her sleep on her side tonight, which is the best position to open up her tiny airway.

We end the list with "Each day gets a little bit better!"

Here are tonight's prayer requests:

* The big one tonight is that the CT comes back ok.  There is cause for concern and I'm trying really hard not to worry!  But if there's an issue, I'm glad they are dealing with it now instead of sending us home and something happen.  As much as we don't want more surgery, we do want her to be safe!  To cause more panic attacks, Dr. Campbell will be out of town for the next week or so.  His associate will be here, but he is not our Dr. C!  I am trusting that God will give Dr. Cahill wisdom to do what is best.

* If/when Abby is cleared for pt, please pray for her pain control!  I have had to guard her pain pump today, as pain team kept wanting to take it away because she wasn't using it very much. I reminded them that she's not allowed to do anything!  While she is still, we don't need it!  I want her to get at least a day of pt behind her before we take away the pain pump.  This is a hard surgery!!

* Pray for Abby's emotions.  Today, a simple wipe-down pushed her over the edge and had her begging me to just take her home.  She was crushed to hear Dr. Campbell say another week.  Her tears break my heart!

* Pray for my nerves.  Panic attacks are a real thing for me, and these setbacks are concerning.  My typically stoic post-op personality has been wavering because I feel pretty helpless in this situation.  

This is not for the faint of heart!  She is such a tough kid.  Thank you for all of the well wishes!  I read her all of them and show her all of the pictures.  She knows how much she is loved!






Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Post op day 1

Abby had a good day today.  She had some good awake times and didn't require a ton of pain button doses.  She made a lot of great strides by getting her arterial line, Foley catheter, peripheral iv, and nasal trumpet removed.

This evening, she was able to transfer from her bed to the potty beside her bed, which was a huge accomplishment!!  She did really well.  

Tomorrow morning, she will get a CT done to check on a few things before she is cleared for pt.  Then the hard work will begin!  

Prayer requests:
* Abby's hips seem to really be hurting from the veptr being attached at the pelvis.  Every little movement seems to really hurt, so I think walking will be a very slow process. 

* Please pray for secure veptr placement.  Abby's "unique" anatomy made this a little challenging.

* We would both love to have a good, quiet night's sleep tonight!  If all goes well, she should move to the floor tomorrow--and hopefully to a single room!

Thanks, prayer warriors!  Here's a tiny smile from the bravest girl I know!




Post op day 1

Abby actually did really well overnight.  She is only on 1/2 liter of oxygen and still has the trumpet in her nose to keep her from obstructing her airway, but they think that can come out today.  We just rolled her to her side for the first time, which she hated!  She has settled down now though.  We have a great nurse who made a little pillow for her legs and gave her an ice pack the length of her back, so that seemed to help.  She is talking a bit more and even informed me that she was going to beat all of us at Uno again. :)

Unfortunately, we are in a double room and we got the tiny part (1/3 of the room!). Our space is really limited!  I have the old-style chair bed instead of the much comfier couch, but it wasn't bad with the egg crate.  I didn't sleep much anyway!

Abby's roommate has been in the PICU for a long time, and she has a father who is a piece of work.  He spent the evening yelling at the baseball game on tv instead  of paying any attention to his daughter.  The TV blared until after midnight.  He even called the nurse to change his daughter's diaper.  Yeah....Then he actually told the nurse that he didn't know who he was more worried about:  his daughter or the Phillies.  Um....no contest....

He has gone to work for the day, so at least I don't have to listen to ESPN all day.  Maybe I can grab a nap sometime when Matt is here!


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Surgery update 6:00

We are waiting to see Abby in the PICU, but saw Dr. Campbell and she did well. It's a whole lot of metal in a little body.  Here's her surgical X-ray. 


We are on the other side of surgery, so now the hard part begins!  Thanks for praying us through this long day!  I will try to post again late tonight, but my girl is going to have my undivided attention. :)

Surgery update 4:00

They are starting to close her up!  It will still be a while though.  Everything went well.

She will be going to the PICU, but Dr. C will come out and talk to us fairly soon.

Surgery update 3:10

Dr. Campbell IS able to do both sides (this is a huge praise because it means she won't have to have a second big surgery!).  He has finished one side and is moving to the other now, so the surgery is about halfway done.

In other news, my headphones don't go up loud enough for all of the noise in the waiting room today.  People are in rare form and seem to have no problem having very personal phone conversations in a public location!  Sigh...

Surgery update 2:00

We just got an update that Dr. Campbell is just about to start.  Prepping takes a while for a complicated surgery like this.  

Abby is in surgery

Abby went back at 12:20.  I was able to hold her hand and sing truth to her until she fell asleep.  She requested "God of Angel Armies" and "In Need of Grace," so the last thing she heard before falling asleep was the promise that God will be right by her side.  I can't think of a better way to start surgery!

She is booked for 6 hours, so we are in for a long day.  We will update as we hear something.

Thank you for your love and prayers!




Musings from the Surgical Waiting Room

The hospital surgical waiting room is an interesting place.  It's the place where parents go to sit, wait, worry, pace, and cry as their children are being operated on.  This is my 18th time doing this.  I've been in three different waiting rooms at three different hospitals, but they are all basically the same.

We are all together in the same room, waiting for our child to go to recovery.  The surgery could be something as simple as ear tubes, something quick but worrisome like a biopsy, or something very serious like a brain tumor.  But no matter what the reason people have come into the waiting room, we are all concerned about our children on that operating table.  In that, we are all the same.

As I look around right now, I notice the furrowed brow of the mom trying to hold it together as she worries about her child.  I hear the laughter of the large group in the corner who have gathered to distract the family and try to keep their minds off of things.  I observe the young Jewish father wearing his Tallit and softly praying.  I listen to the nervous chatter of the parents as they count down the minutes until they can see their children.

Some of the parents in here are veterans, like me.  I can tell because they are armed with the essentials:  snacks, drinks, and items to distract.  They plant themselves near an electrical outlet to charge their phones, and they don't walk out of the room for even a second so that they won't miss an update.  They pack lightly and efficiently, knowing that they will have to carry around whatever they bring.  Their experience is also evident in their eyes, and I smile gently to acknowledge their strength and bravery.

Others are blessed to have never dealt with this type of waiting before.  They are first-timers, and their tears and wringing hands give them away.  They have large bags filled with items to keep them busy, but they rarely look at any of them.  Instead, they repeatedly glance at the O.R. board for information about their child.  They look around for snack machines and realize there aren't any, so they must make the 10 minute walk to the cafeteria to get food.  I smile at them in understanding, because I've been there.  It's not that we veterans don't worry.  Oh, we do!  It's just that we know that worrying won't change anything and we know it's better to just try to distract ourselves.

This is why my husband and I have a system.  We both bring our electronics with headphones and either watch mindless shows on Netflix or play silly games on our phones. We rarely talk to each other and prefer to just tune out the noise.  I text updates to family members as we get them, but we otherwise just try to escape.  It may seem strange, but it works for us.

But we have also learned not to judge how others cope.  Those who may seem carefree and jovial may just be dealing with the situation in the best way they know how.  Others who wail and sob loudly for the several hours they are in there are just expressing their concern for their loved ones.  We don't judge--we just put our headphones in and turn up the volume!

I wish I could say that #18 will be the last time I enter this waiting room, but it won't be.  I envy those who will walk out of the hospital with their child later today, because my daughter will be admitted for over a week.  But I choose joy, because that little girl on the operating table right now is the bravest girl I know.  And she is worth 30 more visits to the surgical waiting room.

Not in pre-op yet

Surgery won't be for a few more hours.  An orderly took us down, only to realize that he got the wrong patient. Dr. Campbell's surgery (on a veptr kid) is taking longer than they thought.  Please pray for that family and that the complications aren't major.  Veptr families have a special bond!

Abby is quite happy to continue playing in the playroom!  I'll send an update when we are in pre-op.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tomorrow

Today's picc line placement went off without a hitch, and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in the playroom, visiting the atrium, and playing Uno.


  Reality set in tonight before bed and Abby shed a few tears, but she is ok.  We talked about how bravery doesn't mean she isn't scared.  Here's hoping she sleeps through the night before the big day tomorrow! 

She has loved the purple preview pictures that were posted today!  I know she will be thrilled to see everyone's #purpleforabby pictures as she recovers.

Thanks for all of the prayers and encouragement!  We feel so loved and know that God will be right there with us, just as He has every step of the way!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Get Your Purple Ready!

We've got our purple picked out!!  How about you??  Are you ready to go #purpleforabby on Tuesday??
 
 
For those of you who are newer around here, every surgery day lots of our family, friends, and even people we don't know personally wear purple in support for Abby and take selfies to post on Facebook.  Purple is her favorite color, and she absolutely LOVES seeing pictures of people dressed up in purple to show their love to her.  Her favorites are the animals wearing purple!  Those often bring the first smiles we see post-op!  We will seriously look at all of the pictures multiple times while in the hospital.  The more creative, the better!  They seriously bring her SO much joy, which is what it's all about when you go through what she has to endure.
 
If you post a selfie, be sure to hashtag it #purpleforabby so that it is easy for us to find it later.  That way, all I have to do is search that hashtag and all of the pictures come up.  If anyone asks you what the purple is about, feel free to share about our brave girl's journey, or send them to the blog. Thanks everyone!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tiny Dancer


My tiny dancer and her cousin Lucy had their "dance recital" on Mother's Day!  Since Abby will be in the hospital for her studio's dance recital, we let them put on their own little show for us.  I can't post videos to Blogger for whatever reason, but the dance video is on my Facebook page.  Here are some pictures of the cuties!  





Wednesday, May 18, 2016

It's Coming, Whether We Like it or Not

I've kind of been in denial about this next surgery, and I'm not sure why. I know she needs it and for the most part, I know what to expect.  But I've been putting off pretty much anything related to surgery.  If I ignore it, it will go away, right?

Wrong.  Which is why I resignedly began packing yesterday.  You may think that is early, considering we don't leave until Saturday, but a lot is involved whenever we go anywhere.  I have to update and print multiple copes of her health history, gather medical equipment and supplies, hunt down specific clothing that she is able to put on easily post-op, collect toys and activities for her to do, get Caleb packed and organized...so there's a lot.  Plus, we are pretty busy the next few days and yesterday was when I had the time to get a good start on it.

To quickly summarize this surgery:
*  We leave Saturday and will attend a Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome family day on Sunday.
*  She will get her PICC line placed on Monday morning and will then be admitted.
*  Surgery will be first thing Tuesday morning (probably 8 a.m.)
*  They will be putting in two long rods this time that will be attached from the top of her ribs to her pelvis.  This will stabilize the hump (kyphosis) that has gotten progressively worse.
*  We don't know exactly how long she will stay.  Her last insertions were both 8 days, but she only had one side done at a time.  This will be the first time she will have both sides done.  (That is tentative of course--there's a lot we won't know until Dr. C. gets in there.)
*  After we get home, we expect it to be about a month before she is fairly functional, and another month before she is back to her baseline.  This is again based on how she has done in the past.
*  We will start back up with intensive PT as soon as we get back home.  We love her new therapy center and have been really impressed with what she has done so far.  She's doing PT and speech there and loves it!

What to pray for over the next few days:
*  Abby has a lot of anxiety about this surgery.  This one is really getting to her as she is becoming more aware.  It's impossible to explain to a 5 year old who isn't "sick" why she has to go through all of this. 
*  I threw my back out last Thursday and have been in pretty intense pain since then.  I am going to the chiropractor, using ice, and taking heavy duty Motrin, but the pain is still not under control.  Sleeping on a hospital couch isn't going to help things much.
*  Caleb internalizes things his own way and struggles with anxiety in general.  We are trying to reassure him and give him opportunities to ask questions.  He's staying with my family and they are awesome about keeping him busy, but it is still hard on him when we aren't there. If you see him while we are gone, give him a hug!

Thank you, prayer warriors!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mother's Day Photos

I took advantage of the Mother's Day "You must be nice to me today!" card and got some pictures with the kids after church.  Lucky for me, both of my kids actually like dressing up!














Monday, May 9, 2016

Purple Lightning


After 9 long, frustrating months of waiting, Abby finally received her custom-made wheelchair!  She has an E Fix system, which is a convertible that allows her to drive it herself using a battery, or have us push her manually--all at the turn of a dial!  She named it Purple Lightning! :)

There's a bit of a learning curve as she figures out how to drive her new wheels. Idiot realize how hard it would be because she great at the clinic, so We took Purple Lightning on its maiden voyage to Walmart.  Well, that was a hysterical disaster that involved lots of fallen merchandise, nipped ankles, people getting cut off, and a million apologies for our rookie driver!

We all took a walk on the boardwalk yesterday to get more practice in.  She practiced on a lot of different terrains and we gave her lots of pointers!  She is definitely improving!

We have known for a long time that Abby would need a wheelchair.  She tires easily, has constant back pain, and gets winded quickly.  She has grown out of the stroller, so it is time.  The wheelchair will only be used for long distances (amusement parks, trips to the mall, the zoo, etc.) because it's still good for her to walk, but we want to give her some experience so that she will be ready when she needs it!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mothers' Day

I saw this on Facebook and thought it was pretty appropriate for Mothers' Day!

19 years ago, Scott, all 5 kids and I took a trip to Omaha. Kenny was 10, Todd was 8, Kevin 5, Ryan 2, and Lisa was 6 months old. We took a day and went over to visit Scott's Aunt and Uncle who lived in Omaha, in their beautiful new home. When we pulled up, the exterior said to me, "This is what dreams are made of." As his aunt gave us a tour of their home, I just remember thinking how amazing it would be to have such a beautiful home, full of rooms and bathrooms and a huge kitchen that screamed to be full of family and fun, but what stuck out the most in my mind and sparked a completely different envy than just the size of the house, was the vacuum lines that remained in the carpet in the formal dining room. 
As we strolled into the dining room, I remember thinking to myself, "oh my gosh! Her vacuum lines are still in her carpet probably a week or more after she vacuumed!! What I wouldn't give to clean my house and have it stay magazine perfect for more than 5 minutes!!" I couldn't wait for the day that I would be able to do that and not have it messed up by sticky little finger prints on the perfectly waxed dining table, or Legos hiding under the table, or walking in to discover Ryan's latest art creation had so carefully been designed on the wall with crayons.
Here's what I didn't know at that time, (and somewhere my mind couldn't even go), that to have all of this picture perfect cleanliness, the kids would have to be gone. You see, I wanted those things because the everyday struggles of 5 loads of laundry, toys everywhere, mouths to feed, meals to prepare, beds to make were overwhelming to me, and the beauty of a pristine home was something only dreams were made of. 
Heck, it took me 20 minutes in each room just to find the floor before I could vacuum it. I never grasped (no matter how bad I wanted vacuum lines to stay in my carpet) that my kids would one day grow up and leave. That thought doesn't exist in a young mother's mind, it's just the things that old ladies talked about, and the endless reminders they tried to give me that "it all goes by so fast."
Then one day I woke up, went to clean my house, carefully placed vacuum lines in my carpet, looked at my beautiful dinning table with a perfect wax coating and zero finger prints and realized it would stay that way for days.....and that's when I realized that vacuum lines are lonely. That Legos and dirty clothes and mouths to feed and backpacks to get ready are sometimes very overwhelming, but they're never, ever lonely and that what the old ladies had been telling me was true! That the Legos slowly disappeared without me ever noticing. They were replaced by video games, and then football gear and then by empty bedrooms waiting for a visit home from college or life. That the loads of laundry gradually got smaller, the dirty dishes were less and the endless treasures of Pokemon cards, or rock collections all disappeared. Everything sits magazine ready in my home now and I appreciate and love this time of my life, I only wish I had known the cost of vacuum lines, because then I surely wouldn't have wanted this day to come as fast as it did.
Happy Mother's Day to mothers everywhere. To the mothers with vacuum lines who miss their children everyday, and to the young mothers who struggle through the mountains of laundry and responsibility. Cherish your children, their messes and stresses and the trouble they put you through as teenagers, and trust me, vacuum lines are overrated. :)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Kings Dominion Recap

We took advantage of our Family Passport we received from Make a Wish and visited Kings Dominion a few weeks ago.  It was a fantastic family day!  We were pleasantly surprised at how much Abby could ride, and Caleb enjoyed quite a few "real" roller coasters!














Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Here's to the Teachers!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!


We are so thankful to have had fantastic teacher for our kids!  We are so thankful that they teach the whole child, not just a subject.  Both kids have teachers who truly encourage them to love to learn, and we are so grateful!




To our kids' teachers:  thanks for lighting that fire!  You are awesome!

Monday, May 2, 2016

PARCC Reminders

As we are all in the middle of PARCC testing season, here's something important to remember...