Tuesday, December 22, 2015

capturing our holiday spirit

Our new computer might be up in running in a newly updated office space (ie: no more green carpet, window, or trim) but that doesn't mean Photoshop is working. Or even downloaded.
So I am presenting to you our Christmas season photos with zero editing or cropping. 
(And really, I would have loved to edit some make-up onto my face in that family photo. Yikes.)

Back in November, when we actually had snow

The kids love their yearly Christmas jammies.

If you know Avery, you will recognize that this is a perfect capture of her "Oh my gosh, seriously, you guys, wait, this story is so amazing" face.

family "Polar Express" movie & popcorn night

The annual coordinating outfits for the church program...

And like a thousand outtakes

They rediscovered our tiny apron collection and now they can't cook a pretend meal in their play kitchen without one on.

Sugar cookie dough = pure enjoyment

All three kids near Santa and no one cried?!

Penning a careful and thoughtful letter to Santa

And then there is my favorite photo.
This year I was so excited to put up the trees in their rooms.  The lights wrapped around their bunk bed and the tree lit across the room just scream holiday spirit to 4 and 5 year-olds. So the tree skirt was meant for a tree about one-fourth of that size and the kids don't actually leave any ornaments on it, it doesn't matter.
This time of year is so special and magical to them that they couldn't handle sleeping in their beds 8 feet from the tree, they had to camp out right in front of it. 

Merry Christmas, everyone! Only 3 days left!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

And just like that, it's December

I started to write that I'm sorry for my lack of posting, but honestly, I haven't given it much thought. Life has been hectic and borderline crazed. And I'm not talking the "oh I have so many presents to buy and parties to attend" type of crazy.

All the presents have been bought for weeks - most of them are even wrapped - and we have a total of two Christmas get-togethers to attend.

But since I last posted - in October mind you - big, mind-occupying stuff has been going on.

We wrapped up October with a life flight and hospitalization for Avery. She was off-and-on delusional with a 105ยบ fever which prompted an ER visit. (Because this stuff always occurs on a weekend.) Children's in Omaha feared meningitis based on her symptoms so they opted for a helicopter ride over an ambulance transfer. She handled it well and with minimal drama.
Wait, I'm kidding.
She had to ride alone since the double-occupancy chopper was already out in use elsewhere. Jared and I were worried, but we tend to stay cool in these types of circumstances. After all, we have had our few share of medical issues with kids so far. I held off tears until they were wheeling her away, strapped down, only able to move her head. She looked at me and simply said, "I'm going to be sick and all alone."
She knows how to twist that knife for maximum effectiveness.

Everything turned out okay, but the next two days were tough. X-rays, ultrasound scans, straight caths, plenty of lab tests, and IV medication is a lot for an already over-the-top dramatic 4 year-old. It turned out she had a bad kidney infection. With 3 days of IV antibiotics and 10 more days of oral ones at home, she recovered easily. But really, she sure brought the drama. I am not surprised that Avery was the one to require a life flight.

Some other stuff happened too. 
Halloween. (Yes, I'm that far behind.)
A family wedding. 
An overnight getaway for Jared and me.
Etsy business on steroids. Seriously, we're both so over Etsy right now.
The death of our computer.
The purchase of a new computer.
Graham's 3rd birthday.
A spare bedroom/office/play room remodel.
The kids' church Christmas program.
Christmas decorating, baking, and eating. And eating.

Which brings me to our next time-filler lately...
Graham has been sick and just kinda "off" for about 9 weeks now. It started with a rash that lasted for 11 days that doctors couldn't explain, a change in appetite, mood swings, itching like crazy, and bowel changes. Some lab showed elevated liver enzymes - which aren't uncommon with an infection, and a week later they had decreased back to normal levels. 
But his symptoms didn't go away, they hung on. And a few weeks later we took him back to the doctor since he felt worse, and it turns out his labs were elevated again - this time triple normal. 

So off to Omaha to a GI specialist we went. 
An ultrasound revealed an enlarged liver, pancreas, and gall bladder. Further testing showed elevated levels of many different labs related to the liver and gall bladder. Doctors weren't exactly sure what any of this meant. While waiting for some labs to get back, they sent us home with medication for his itching and a general feeling of uneasiness. By the next week, his symptoms were still the same and his bowels changed even further. 

The specialists decided it was time for an MRCP, a specialized MRI to look at the specific structures like the ducts connecting the organs in his stomach. We just completed that this past Tuesday. 
He had to be NPO for about 18 hours, and what should have been a 45 minutes procedure turned into 2 hours. Knowledge is not power in this situation as I was nearing panic mode, knowing something was amiss for the procedure time to more than double. Turns out he had a really hard time coming out of the anesthesia. Thanks, Graham, for aging me years during those few hours!

The results were what we expected. Both his liver and pancreas are enlarged. The pancreas is so enlarged that it is causing narrowing of the pancreatic duct and common bile duct. That is contributing to his bowel changes and the elevated labs. We've ruled out every common infectious cause of organ enlargement (hepatitis, mono, etc) and now not even the doctors are sure what is causing it. We repeated more lab yesterday (Friday) and should hear back about the results on Monday. Those results will dictate what course we take next. If they are decreased we will continue to monitor, hoping it is some unknown infection that his body is fighting off. If they are the same or elevated, we will continue down the road of more testing/procedures. Even our specialist couldn't tell us what these would be because Graham is an atypical case.

So it goes without saying, we've been worried. 
I don't do well when things are out of my control; I know this about myself. And if there was a lesson to be learned from this past year, "you're not in control" just might be it. I've been working really hard to turn worry into prayer. It's helped me more than I can put into words. I'm not in control, and my worry does nothing but drive me (and others) nuts. So maybe I am actually learning my lesson a little every day.

On that note, I think I will end my way-too-much-medical-happenings update on a positive with a few pictures of our little dude on his 3rd birthday last month. 

On his birthday I baked some brownies (covered in fresh whipped cream) and he opened a couple of gifts at our house. His real party was the next day on Thanksgiving night. The unofficial theme of his 3rd birthday was apparently "anything with an engine."