Thursday, September 23, 2010

Daddy is Home!

Oh my goodness gracious... someone forgot to remind me that teaching makes one's life FULL!

...and I am sure that someone mentioned along the way that having a four-year-old would be wonderful and exhausting all at the same time. But, I must have forgotten.

My lack of blogging has not been due to anything other than just trying to keep up... with lesson plans, four-year-old play dates, and laundry!

James just arrived back in town from a week-long conference. I am pleased to announce that Austin and I did great --- although I will be the first to admit that the house looked horrible (aka toys everywhere!) and we both went to bed at 8:00 pm every night exhausted :) We are so glad that James is home.

You may not know that between the two of us, James is the neat one. I call myself "the creative one." Sometimes learning can just only take place in a messy environment! James surprised us this afternoon by coming home early. I was at the grocery store when he called, and I knew from the tone in his voice that he was home.

"Hey! Where are you?" He asked.

"At the grocery store. (long pause). Why? Are you home?"

"Almost!" He replied.

"Whoooo Hooooo!! I will hurry and finish my shopping and head home."

Only a few seconds later after we hung up, I realized that I needed to call him back.

"um..." I hesitated when he answered his phone again. "If you happen to make it home before me, just remember that I didn't expect you home today and the house isn't quite picked up yet!"

He laughed.

And he knew. When he walked in to see the huge marble tunnels that Austin and I had created in the living room. When he saw the stack of children's books sitting on the kitchen table. Stepping over transformers and matchbox cars all the way to the back of our home, he knew. He knew that we had a wonderful time while he was gone, but we sure are glad that Daddy is home!

Oh, there are so many ways to read into that sentence. We are so glad that Daddy is home!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

enjoying every moment of the weekend.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


our ever cautious, very ar-ti-cu-late (he pronounces every syllable!) child has entered a new phase...

one I expected a little earlier in life (say, when he was a two-year-old)...

but it is happening now

he is pushing against the boundaries

pushing hard

exploring the world with a little less caution

and finding himself at the receiving end of a little more discipline

fighting bedtime routine

fighting morning routine

not always telling the truth (oh, help me!!!)

trying to find out what will happen when he pours his entire glass of milk into our water purifier

and spills half of the milk across the living room rug

but, he is my Austin...

and my heart smiles that instead of crying over spilt milk tonight

he just called out

"Mom, stay right where you are. Do not come in the living room!!!"

and when I walked in and gasped at the mess

he just said,

"Mom, I warned you. I knew you wouldn't want to see this."

And as I collapse into bed at the end of this day being "mom"

I realize that I have the most difficult job assignment...

praying over

and shepherding this precious boy's heart

helping him become all that God intended for him to be

for in the midst of all the pushing he seems to be doing lately

he is my absolute delight and joy


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Several weeks ago, we were asked by a dear friend if we wanted to "rent out" her timeshare for Labor Day weekend. With my comps ever pressing at that time, James and I figured that a vacation away would be perfect at just about Labor Day time... so we agreed to the nominal fee and made plans to get away for a vacation!

As you now know, on Sunday (of last week) Austin woke up with a high fever. He had to miss his entire second week of school due to what we think might have been hand, foot, and mouth disease!

On Monday, my dad received bad news about his cancer treatments and their failure to fix his "nasty diseases."

On Thursday, we received more bad news that my nephew, Andrew, would need brain surgery.

By Thursday night, I asked my mom... "should I just come home for the long weekend?"

Mom emphatically replied that we should go on to our vacation destination as planned. The thought of passing along hand, foot, and mouth disease to my sick old man alleviated any guilt from my mind (of not going home), and we were soon off as a family of three to the "happiest place on earth!"

As we drove through the afternoon on Friday, I soon realized that with comps two weeks behind me (and the scores still unknown) this would be my very first vacation EVER with Austin that I wasn't writing a paper!

I applied for my PhD program when he was four months old and have been trucking along (sometimes just hanging on) for the past three and a half years. I have a very vivid image of family vacation when Austin was only one-year-old. My entire extended family stole away to Callaway Gardens the summer of 2007 for a wonderful week of swimming, biking, golfing, and boating.

I had a deadline for a major paper due the FRIDAY of that vacation. To be honest, I am the QUEEN of procrastination for writing papers, and I remember leaving Austin and the family while I snuck away for eight hours in the hotel "office" and wrote and wrote.

All of that to say, I was so excited to think that I could read for PLEASURE for the first time on vacation in three years! I immediately put out a plea to all my facebook friends for book recommendations... and did they provide!

Austin, James, and I had the most wonderful long weekend away. We slept in late, we ate well, I had a pedicure, and we just talked... we just enjoyed being together without working, without typing, without thoughts of cancer or brain surgery. (Well, maybe some thoughts of those things).

And yesterday, as we drove home, the realization that a new week was upon us started to sink in... but something about this weekend has left me changed...

a little less worried...

a little more relaxed...

a little more trusting...

that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.




Monday, September 6, 2010

A LOT to update!

In many ways, this blog has become a forum (of sorts) to ask for your continued prayers for our family. What started as a place to post pictures and stories of Austin has become a place for me to update my friends quickly about our growing prayer needs.

As you know, my dad continues to receive chemo every Monday and Thursday at Moffitt for his multiple myeloma and amyloidosis. It is hard to believe that I first heard the word Amyloidosis in December. Dad came home from a visit with his kidney doctor.

I was working at his office for the afternoon, and dad and mom came in from their appointment. "Well, Emmy... I don't even know if I can pronounce it, but the doctors say that I have amyloidosis."

A quick google search once my parents were out of the room led me to a quick realization. This was not a good diagnosis. Amyloidosis... a disease I learned to spell (and pronounce) that afternoon has never been far from our minds since.

Dad did not receive good news last Monday at his appointment, and mom and dad are now looking for treatment options in other parts of the country. You can read more from my dad at his latest blog post (click here).

As some of you may also remember... Six weeks ago, my nephew (Andrew) was sent to a neurosurgeon to discuss results of his MRI. Six weeks ago, we were so relieved to get the good news that brain surgery would not be necessary for his Chiari malformation, the doctors just wanted to keep a close eye on his brain every six weeks.

On Thursday, my sister and her family went back to All Children's hospital for their six week follow up. My day continued as normal - I called my mom several times to check on dad and his chemo for the day. "He is doing great, Emmy!" was my mom's ever positive response.

Around 4:00 pm, I received a text from my sister. "Andrew is going to need surgery."

What??? I was caught completely by surprise - expecting that Thursday's MRI would simply be a routine visit. The entire family was caught off guard based on the phone calls that ensued over the next few hours.

Jenny agreed to send my mom an email which explained everything they knew so far.

So, here is my sister's email: explaining everything that happened on Thursday

Today, we returned to All Children’s Hospital for an additional MRI of Andrew’s brain and spinal cord then a follow-up with the neurosurgeon. Based on today’s MRI results, the neurosurgeon was to make a recommendation about whether our boy would need surgery to correct his Chiari Malformation.

After reviewing Andrew’s images, the surgeon came in to speak with us. His use of words like “worrisome”, “severe”, and “concerned” were not what we were hoping for or expecting.

Andrew’s brain extends past the base of his skull and creates a sort of “cork”, plugging up the entrance to his spinal column. Today’s tests showed that this malformation is virtually blocking all spinal fluid from entering and exiting his brain. In addition to the fluid blockage, this “tonsil” of brain that’s extending downward is throbbing against his spinal column with every single heartbeat. The MRI images also showed that some spinal fluid (but only a very small amount so far) has accumulated in his spinal cord.

The surgeon was most concerned about the throbbing of his brain into the spinal cord. It’s very rare (he mentioned that this was the 2nd time he’d seen this effect with a Chiari patient) and exposes his brain to undue jostling and potential for injury.

The good news is that this can all be corrected with surgery. The procedure was clearly explained and the doctor reassured us that it’s a much less invasive procedure when done on children (adults require a much more aggressive surgery with a longer healing time). And from all accounts we’ve heard, it’s a remarkably effective “fix”, virtually eliminating most patients’ symptoms.

Although we have not yet scheduled his brain surgery, we have been advised to get it taken care of within the next several weeks – early November at the latest. This will include a 3 day hospital stay and a recovery period of about 5-6 weeks.

We’re sad for our little guy that he has to go through this at all, but we’re grateful for the peace that comes from knowing God is in control and loves Andrew even more than we do. We are ready to get this taken care soon – and get him back to his busy schedule of Kindergarten and t-ball!

I promise to continue to update, but please continue to keep my Dad (and Andrew) in your prayers!