Monday, December 19, 2011

Once Upon a Time...

...13 years ago, to be exact, I married the man of my dreams. He has been my best friend and the greatest love of my life. I was only 17 when we started dating and 18 1/2 when we married, but I've never regretted that decision.

 Rob, you are the center of my life and world. You were by my side as we welcomed each of our precious children into this world. And you were by my side as we watched one of them leave. You have been my strength when I had none. After we lost our baby boy, you were what kept me going. When I struggled through the emotional aftermath, you took care of our family and told me to just focus on taking care of myself. You have helped carry burdens that I couldn't bear alone. You are my everything. I thought I loved you 13 years ago when I said "I do" but now, I know that I didn't. What I felt for you then was just a shadow of what I feel now. I didn't understand then what love really was.

 “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.” ~Captain Corelli's Mandolin

That is our love. It has been tried and strengthed during the hard times and nutured and enjoyed in the good. And although I haven't liked the trials, I know that it's becuase of them that our marriage, love and our relationship is as strong as it is. From the highest highs to the lowest lows, you have been there, loving, encouraging and helping me. And now, we are so entwined that we can not be separated. Thank you for being a wonderful husband and for taking me to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity. My love for you grows each day and my heart is ours.

Thank you for the best 13 years of my life and to an eternity more!
I love you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My First Born

December 12, 2000 at 3:01pm
11 years! My gosh! Where did all the time go? I was sure that only yesterday you were a little boy and now, here you are, almost a teenager! It has been quite the adventure, that's for sure! Being the oldest, you have been our guinea pig, of a sort. In may ways, your siblings have benefited from all the mistakes we made, and hopefullly learned from, with you. And yet, despite our inexoerience, you have grown to be such a wonderful kid, no, young man. I remember holding you for the first time and being amazed that you were here and ours. And you were HUGE! All 9lbs of you squashed into 20 1/2 inches. You were a very happy baby and I loved to snuggle with you and take naps with you. You were also the only one of the kids to get to meet your Grandpa Larry. How he adored you! He was such a proud grandpa. I remember on the day of your blessing Grandpa just holding you through most of church. Sometimes he would call and ask if you could borrow the van and come visit him in Manhattan. He loved you so much! You were a very precocious child. You started walking at 9 months and haven't slowed down since. One of my favorite memories is of you standing up rocking on your rocking horse on your first birthday. You had no fear! Crazy boy! You have always been imaginative, making up "games" of some kind or another. Or creating some thing out of paper and tape. You are a great big brother, playing with your little brothers and sisters and looking out for them. You are very smart and love to read and learn. You also love to play sports and dance. And what a dancer you are! We are so proud of you and grateful to be able to call you our son!

We love you so much! Happy Birthday Sterling!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our Goofy Eddie

What can I say? He's our special Ed! :-)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy Birthday to My First Princess

What a perfect baby girl!
Four generations!
Look at those chubby cheeks!
Wow! It's really been 9 years, but it hardly feels like it. My first baby girl was born November 29, 2002 at 11:31pm. She was rather impatient to get here and barely waited until we got to the hospital and into the room before making her debut. In fact, the Dr didn't even catch her, although she was in the room getting gowned up. At almost 2 weeks early she has done almost everything early ever since. She is such a bright and talented child and was even as a toddler. Learning to write, do simple math and draw pictures when barely 3 years old. She has always grasped new things quickly and thrilled at the challenge of learning something new, even if she had to teach herself (can we say multiplication and division?) She excels in anything she tries, whether art, music, sports, math, reading....anything. But she is so patient when teaching her younger brothers and sister, something that Mommy often lacks. She is my little teacher. :-) She is also my little mommy. Emmy loves to help with the younger kiddos, especially her baby sister, Kailyn. It just amazes me how patient she is with Kailyn at night. See, Kai and Emmy share a room and although there are two beds, Kailyn, demands, that Emmy sleep with her in whichever bed she wants to be in. Emmy obliges. She also makes sure Kailyn has her favorite babies, books, pacifier (yes, Kai still has one ::sigh::) or whatever else suits her fancy at that moment. And then, to top it all off, she'll read to Kailyn whatever she wants to have read to her. She is a truly amazing big sissy. I have even heard her find Kailyn's pacifier in the middle of the night when Kailyn wakes up and can't find it. I am constantly amazed at her intuitiveness, her sensitivity, kindness and patience. We have truly been blessed to have this beautiful, talented and special spirit born into our family. I just adore my little princess and wish she'd slow down in gorwing up into such a beautiful young woman.
We call this the thumb thing.
She's been doing this as long as we can remember.

Sleeping with her baby and Care Bear

Such cute pig tails!

Mommy and her Princess

Ready for preschool

What a beautiful young lady!

What an amazing big sissy!

Sharing her bed with the "baby" princess

 Happy Birthday Princess Emmy! We love you!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Don't Step On A Crack...

We all have heard that silly rhyme, right? "Don't step on a crack or you'll fall and break your back" Well, apparently, Sterling's been stepping on FAR too many cracks 'cause he has, quite literally, a broken back. A vertebrae actually; L5 to be specific. We've known about this little back issue for a couple years, but I didn't realize the full extent of it until about a month ago.

The story begins in December 2009 when Sterling started to complain of his back hurting. I thought he was just being dramatic and trying to get out of doing work. Well, he continued to complain so I finally agreed to call Dr. C. After having him do some bending and balance exercises he said he thought Sterling had spodylolysis (spon-dee-low-lye-sis).  Which, in simple terms, is a stresse fracture in a vertebrae. He referred us to an orthopedist in town and we had x-rays, MRI and a bone scan done. Sure enough, his L5 vertebrae had a fracture, which showed up as a "bright" spot on the MRI. The orthopedist had us get Sterling a custom back brace. He had to wear it everyday for 6 weeks. After that he did better for a couple months, but the back pain started again. Another 6 weeks in the brace and the same result. At that point the Orhtopedist said that we could try one more session in the brace, but if that didn't work there was really nothing else that we could do apart from spinal fusion. He didn't recommend doing that since Sterling was still young and growing and it could also limit his flexibility. So one more session and...still the same. I didn't even bother taking him back since we weren't going to consider spinal fusion.

Fast forward to October when Eddie had his appointment with an orthopedist at CMH. I mentioned Sterling and his back problems and she asked me if he'd ever been seen at CMH for it. I told her we'd only seen the orthopedist in town. She told me that Dr. P with CMH had done a lot with kids with spondylolysis and to get Sterling in to see him. So we set up an appointment.

At his appointment with Dr. P he started off by telling us that there were other options for treating spondylolysis other than spinal fusion. (Yipeee!!) He talked about bracing again for longer period with electric stimulation to encourage bone growth. If that wasn't feasible, which he didn't think it would be given the amount of time Sterling has had this, the next option would be to do a bone graft to reattach the broken part. He said that they have the most success with this when it's the L3 or L4 vertebrae, but it's still possible with the L5 vertebrae. Finally, if that wasn't possible we could do a spinal fusion but only if Sterling was in so much pain that he'd be better off with less flexibility. He sent us to have a CT done to see how the fracture looked. Now, in my mind, I'd been thinking it was just a stress fracture, or small crack in the vertebrae. I was SHOCKED by what I saw in his CT!

We came back to the room and Dr. P came in and showed me CT results. There was a complete break of the back part of the vertebrae with a large gap.

Side View

Top down view
This was not good news. There was no way that bracing would help and the gap was just too large to even attempt a bone graft. So we were back to spinal fusion as the only permanent fix for it. On top of that, Sterling is also at a greater risk of developing spondylolithesis. That is where one vertebrae slips forward over another causing displacement of the spine and nerve damage...which, apparently, is a bad thing. Go figure. At this point he hasn't developed that and as he only has occaisional back pain, we are just monitoring his condition. Every 6 months or so he will have to go back to check his back and make sure it hasn't slipped. If he makes it to 15-16 years old without any problems then chances are he will be fine and won't have to worry about spondylolithesis until he's in his 70's. If it does slip, then we won't have a choice but to have his vertebrae fused to prevent further, more serious complications.

So, how did this happen, you ask? We have no idea. This type of injury is usually seen in people who participate in highly repetitive sports like gymnastics or football. And Sterling hasn't had any serious back trauma that we can think of. Chances are it's just a developemental abnormality or perhaps a genetic predisposition to it. We really have no way of knowing for sure.

Well, there goes the illustrious football career we had planned for Sterling. ::sigh:: Now how will he make millions so that he can support Rob and I in the lap of luxury in our old age?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Time Travel

Parent Teacher conferences have come and gone quite awhile ago, but I have been super lazy about posting on here. So we will travel back in time to October and review the kiddos progress.

As usual, the kids are all doing great in school. I was surprised to find out that Joe loves math and does VERY well in it. I also discovered that Cori is in the highest reading group in kindergarten. Sterling does really well in everything but loves science and math. And Emmy...well, she loves everything and excels in everything. We have some very bright kiddos and I'm so proud of each of them for doing their best!

 Halloween was also awhile ago, but we'll just continue on our little time travel adventure and post about it now. It was fun dressing up all 6 kiddos this year. We had a monster- biker- type person, a Gothic vampire, Bakugan, a construction worker, Minnie Mouse and...a cheeseburger (what can I say, the kids picked out Eddie's costume). We did go to our Ward's Trunk or Treat and Kailyn and Eddie thought it was so cool that people were just GIVING them candy for NO reason!

 The Saturday before Halloween Clara put together a little Halloween party for us all. The giant spiders and web all over her dinning room made it feel really creepy!

The dinner was called "Dinner in a Pumpkin" and was a rice and meat mixture baked in a pumpkin. Yummy! There was also skull cornbread, brains in a cup  and witches brew to go with it. 

 Then for dessert there was graveyard cake and eyeballs! The kids thought it was spectacular!

On Halloween Clara and I took my four older kids and her 3 oldest kids out trick or treating in the neighborhood by our church. We were out for a couple of hours and the kids were so done by the time we finished! We heard quite a bit of "My legs hurt!" but they got a lot of candy. Enough that I was able to take 6lbs of it to the dentist, where they do a candy buy back for $1 per lb, and still have 3 HUGE bowls left!
Halloween was so much fun and we're so thankful to have John and Clara nearby so that the kids can do fun things like this with their cousins and make incredible memories!

Thanks for going on a little Time Travel expedition with me. Someday I might learn to keep my blog updated...but I highly doubt it while I have 6 kiddos! And after that, I won't have anything to write about. :-)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Cori-O!

6 years ago on October 11th, Cori decided to make his appearance into the world and into our family. He was one of my babies who chose to come on his own...kind of! Dr. D did strip my membranes, but that was all it took. The next morning, Coriantum Earle was born! He was 8lbs 1oz and bald. I was so in love with that little man and 6 years later, I still am. He has brought such joy and love into our life and into his siblings lives.

He is generally a very happy kiddo and has been from the start.
Tons of smiles and laughter!
And such Mama's little man!

 He's got these big blues eyes that just melt my heart.
They are so bright and full of life and joy.

 My sweet Cori-O! I spent so much time just enjoying you and
laughing at your antics. You were as goofy as your older brother, Joe.
How could we be so lucky?

 Of course, you have you're quirks. You used to have a green string
that you carried with you...everywhere! And you'd wind it up in your hand.
And if you lost it...oh boy! We'd look all over the place just so you
could have it back...and no other string would do!

You also loved cars, trucks, tractors, lawn mowers and all other things that moved
or made still do!

 And then there's the mystery of your hair....
Notice the picture above? You have light colored hair.
After your first hair happened?
We even got asked by people if we dyed it! Same adorable smile though!

 You always suprise me with all the things
that you manage to collect. You are our little hoarder. ;-)
If something disappears, the first place I check is you "purse"
that Grandma gave you. Amazing what we can find in there.
You used to carry a small blue purse around stuffed full of your treasures...
Thomas the Trains, rope/string, cars, etc...
and to this day you still have a fascination wth collecting
and with ropes, strings and tying knots.

And last year, you were off at preschool for half the day with your TMNT backpack.
My little boy, growing up far too fast

And now you are at kindergarten all day long and too old for that backpack.
Nope, just a plain blue messenger bag.
Where does the time go?

 How glad I am that you are my little boy! You are a wonderful brother and a
great blessing to your mom and dad! How lcuky we are to have you
in our family!
Happy 6th Birthday Cori! We love you!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Life Worth Remembering

October 15th...Just another day for most. Nothing unusual, no reason to stop and recognize the importance of this day to so many people. You may not even realize that on this day, candles all over the world are lit, hearts are poured out in grief and remembrance of lives that were so brief, they may have gone unnoticed by all but a few. But for those of us touched by those short lives, they are life altering and world changing.

I never planned to be a part of this silent club, but then, no one really does. It's exclusive but no one strives to be included. It's unbiased, inviting forcing us into it's ranks without regard to race, religion, age, gender, etc. We come in all shapes and sizes, with backgrounds and stories as different as they are familiar. We are the person next to you in the grocery store, the one with many children or none that you can see. You could be us, and once, we were you. But now, we walk a lonely and terrible path. It is well trodden and yet unmarked; We're left to stumble and find our way through as best we can. Some do it alone, others have those who walk with them, many of us meet friends along the way to share our journey with. Yet, no matter how many have come before us, walk with us or will follow after us on this path, we do it alone. Our grief is private and can't be shared. It is ours alone to bear becuase no one can give back what we have lost...our children.

And although we did not choose this sorrow, this burden, neither would we give it up. It is all we have left of our little ones. To stop grieving, would be to stop remembering and that is unthinkable. Our memories may be few and the physical evidence of the life of our child may be non-existent, but they are no less real and no less loved than the children that are held and cherished here and now. Their names are often left unsaid and to us, that is heartbreaking. Their lives are often forgotten by those around us and we are left to remember in silence. Can you imagine never again hearing the name of your child, or having those around you forget of their existence?

And so it is that today is a day I celebrate. Today is a day that my son isn't forgotten. Today his life, although confined only to the time in my womb, matters. Today, our club is not silent. Although you may not even know that we are here or hear us, we say the names of our precious children. The ones who have never had the chance to say their own names or, perhaps, even heard their name spoken. At 7pm in each time zone, candles are lit, names are said and stories are remembered. Lives that were too short are celebrated and mourned. But for this one day, we are not alone. We are surrounded by those who share our grief, who know our loss, and who walk this lonely journey with us. For 24 hours there is light to brighten our dark path. And for 24 hours our child is not forgotten.

And so, for today, if you will take one moment to stop and say the name of a baby that has been lost, even just to yourself, they will not be forgotten. For today, look around and be aware that you may have friends and family that only want to have the name of their lost child spoken, to know that they are remembered. It is one day, one moment...but it may be the only time in the year that our children matter to anyone but us.

I miss you baby boy! You are my sorrow that I carry every day, the grief that I have been chosen to bear, but you are also my hope, my joy, my son. Today, I say your name for all to hear so that you are not forgotten. I love you Robert Allen!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Then Again, Maybe It's Not!

Putting on these shoes is a process!
Ugh! It is. It's not. Oh, wait, it is. That's what it's been like with Eddie's monkey feet. The original diagnosis of metatarsus adductus was overturned by the nurse practitioner at CMH who diagnosed skewfoot. So we made an appointment to go back to see the Dr and find out what needed to be done. On Oct 4th we headed up there and met Dr J. She looked at Eddie's feet and x-rays and....wait for it...wait for it...nope, not skewfoot. It's metatarsus adductus! She didn't see anything that looked like he might have skewfoot. The treatment for MA...a $90 pair of shoes that insurance won't cover...and there's no guarantee that they'll help. ::sigh:: Oh, well! Far better than the treatment for skewfoot that I read about (casting, surgery). He's supposed to wear the shoes whenever he is awake. Not the most stylish shoes...and not what I would have picked if I HAD to spend $90 on a pair of shoes, but hopefully they work! We go back in 4 months for a follow up so we'll see if there's been a change. And by the way, no, they are not on the wrong feet. :-)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Movie Night, Anyone?

Baby Momma
Starring Kai Kai as Baby Momma

At Least He's Not a Pot Head! ;-)
Starring Eddie as Bucket Head

Story Time with Eddie
Starring Eddie as Himself

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Emmy Cheerleads and GI Joe's Birthday Party

We had a busy weekend! We had signed Emmy up for the TWHS cheerleading clinic for the 2nd year. The clinic was last weekend but on Friday was the game! She always has so much fun cheering and we get a kick out of watching her. She was more involved this year, whether because she knew the cheers better or just because she felt more comfortable, I'm not sure. This is one of my favorite cheers. The little Cheerleaders only cheered for the 1st half so we left after that since Eddie was NOT happy about being there. But it was a fun family night!

On Saturday morning Joe (finally) had his 7th birthday party. We didn't really have a theme but he wanted a motocross cake. This was probably one of the EASIEST cakes I've made so far but it turned out really cute!

The boys went on 2 scavenger hunts, played pin the tail on the donkey and then the highlight....
the Pinata!

 Later Saturday evening the kids' school had their annual Fall Festival. There was lots to do, but the cutest thing was Joe dressed up in army gear! He even climbed in and sat in the real Humvee. He makes such a handsome GI Joe! And his Uncle Blake was so proud. :-)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Skew What?

Eddie had his appointment at the orthopaedic clinic at Children's Mercy Hospital on Thursday and I came away knowing less than when I went. Our journey began when Eddie started walking and we noticed something weird with his feet. I blogged about it HERE if you want to go back and read it. This is what they look like when he's standing:
At his 1 year check up our pediatrician, Dr. C, said he thought Eddie had metatarsus adductus. MA is when the bones in the front part of the foot turn in towards the body. Well, we went to CMH thinking that was what he had. When we met the nurse practitioner she and the intern-resident-student-person with her, examined Eddie's feet and legs. After about 10-15minutes of pulling, twisting, bending and flexing the nurse practitioner told us that Eddie did not, in fact, have MA like we thought. She suspected that he actually has something called skewfoot. She talked a little about how his tendon in his arch is tight as well as his achilles tendon, how his foot isn't as flexible as it should be which is what happens with skewfoot (I guess...). At that point I took him to get x-rays to see how his bones were growing. Pretty cool looking huh?

After reviewing the x-rays she told me that she was sure that at least his left foot is skewfoot, although his right may be MA. She also told me that we would need to see a surgeon, not because he needs surgery, but because he needed someone who specializes in things like this. If it had been MA she would have shown me some stretching and physical therapy to do, but she wasn't able to treat skewfoot. She also said something about Dr. J deciding what to do and if casting would be necessary. (WHAT?? Casting a walking toddler??) So I set up an appointment with Dr. J to have Eddie evaluated for skewfoot and we left.

 I have soooo many questions though. I felt like I didn't get any useful information other than, he has skewfoot and she couldn't treat it. So I called our awesome pediatrician and talked to his equally awesome nurse, Jennifer. I told her what we'd found out and asked if she could find out from Dr. C what skewfoot was, how it's different from MA and how it's treated. Dr. C called me later that evening (yes, he called me in the evening! That's how amazing he is!!) and basically said he didn't know what it was and couldn't find anything other than a couple brief references to it in their database. He apologized that he couldn't help me out. I threatened to find a new ped for the kiddos ;-), but that will never happen unless he leaves the practice for some reason...and he'd better not or I, along with my friend Danna and SIL Clara, will be forced to stalk him and move wherever he goes! ;-)

So here we are, more clueless than even before. I have managed to find a couple articles on skewfoot and MA but, unfortunately, they are research articles and are written in medical lingo so I don't understand them at all. :-( I did find one article that explained skewfoot in somewhat layman's terms but I still don't understand how what I read applies to Eddie. I guess I'll just have to wait the 2 1/2 weeks until his next appointment at CMH.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Back 2 School... A While Ago

Yeah, started about a month ago, on August 16, 
and I just realized that I never posted any pictures of the kiddos on their first day of school.
Oops! Well here they are:

Sterling is in the 5th grade!! I can't believe it!
This will be his last year of elementary
school. In our district middle school starts
in 6th grade. He is in Ms. H's class and was so excited
to go back to school and see his friends.
He will also be playing trumpet this year in band. Wohoo!!

Emmy is in 3rd grade and in Mrs. N's class.
Mrs. N loves frogs and science and Emmy is looking
forward to all that she'll learn in class. I just hope that
she'll be challenged. So far, she finds it too easy. ::Sigh::
What can you do? :-)

Joe is in Mrs. H's 1st grade class. She was also Emmy's
1st grade teacher and we are excited to work with
her again. Joe is also excited to be back with his
friends and to learn to read like his big
sister and brother. He also managed to finally
learn to tie his shoes!!

And finally, Cori. He started kindergarten
and was lucky to get Mrs. K. She was Sterling's 1st
grade teacher and we LOVE her! Of course, we've loved all
our teachers at school so far. Our school has been blessed to
have the most incredible and wonderful teachers! Cori loves
school and especially getting to ride the bus again. It's all
day kindergarten and I miss him, but he doesn't seem to mind
at all. 

And here's our happy group shot on the first morning before
heading down to the bus stop. Hopefully it will be a fun year,
with lots of learning and no trouble! ;-)

Robert Allen