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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Home!

We made it home yesterday evening. As with all hospital discharges, the process was slow and fast at the same time. Daniel, myself, and the girls drove straight home from the hospital in Spokane. Capper is still with Gram and Gramps at their cabin and will return home tomorrow. According to Gram he "misses Anellah but is being very good." Anellah misses him too but, thankfully, she doesn't seem too jealous of his time with Gram and Gramps and is enjoying our "girls only" day at home today. She has mostly returned to herself, she's still having a tiny bit of tummy trouble and doesn't have a very big appetite but has been happy that she has the OPTION of eating and has been cashing in on special requests such as rainbow pancakes for breakfast.

Making rainbow pancake batter, don't mind the chaos in the background!
I was able to have a brief conversation with Anellah's liver doctor in Seattle and had many questions answered although there are still so many unknowns. She can return to a normal diet and normal activity level when she feels up to those things. She will have another procedure next Friday at Seattle Children's Hospital to look at the bulging vessels again and treat a few more of them. She will stay in the hospital at least one night. After that procedure the liver doctors at Seattle will get together and discuss her case. They will determine what the best approach is, if she should have a surgery to relieve some pressure and "patch" the problem so that they can wait longer for a transplant or decide if a transplant is urgently needed. Of course I heard what I am used to hearing, "She is a very special case" because she doesn't just have liver failure, she also has diabetes and other issues along with being young. Her liver doctor said that it is better to wait until she is older to do the transplant (for a variety of reasons) if that is an option.

So we are back to "normal" except a few more appointments and the knowledge that this past week's incident could reoccur at any time. Thank you to every who has been praying for us during this time. We appreciate it!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Day 4

Anellah's recovery from surgery has encountered some problems.  Saturday night she was unable to keep anything down, this continued through Sunday evening.  Although there isn't any blood coming up, which is great, no one really has any idea why this is happening.

At this point we are waiting for her ability to eat and drink to return before we try to escape the clutches of Spokane into the clutches of Seattle.

Making the most of the facilities with Gram and Gramps

I (Daniel) am eager to miss less work and get Anellah into a more restful environment. Unfortunately this is just the beginning, this is something we've been sadly anticipating.  Anellah will be going through other surgeries while waiting for a liver transplant, a shunt to relive pressure by bypassing her liver (diverting blood flow around the liver to relieve pressure, not a healthy option) but hopefully no more burst varices.  Thankfully we live near family, great medical care, and everything we need.  But all of that pales in comparison to all the variables that are only in God's control.

Capper has Barry Manilow- Can't Smile Without You on repeat in his brain.  But he's loving Gram time.

On a side note it's freezing here!  Thankfully it hasn't been super-snowy so Anellah hasn't missed out on anything she was really looking forward to.  Gram and Gramps have been controlling and entertaining Capper at their cabin and Evelyn is being her usual easy-going self, tagging along with mommy everywhere.

Anellah faking happy for a picture.

Anellah actually happy (apparently balloons help, thanks Olsons!)


Sunday, December 28, 2014

What a trip!

We left on Christmas Day to go on a long-anticipated trip to my parent's cabin near Spokane, WA. The entire family had been looking forward to it for months, especially Capper and Anellah. They planned to play in the snow, eat popcorn, watch movies, and get lots of attention from Gram and Gramps. Instead, less than 12 hours after arrival we were rushing to the emergency room with Anellah.

The main problem with Anellah's liver is that its scarring restricts blood flow through the liver. This is what causes blood to back up in her spleen where platelets are destroyed. In addition she has now had blood backing up in the vessels of the esophagus. These weak vessels balloon out (like a varicose vein). This ballooning is something we knew was a risk for awhile and during our trip one ruptured. She ended up losing a lot of blood, being transferred from the local hospital to a hospital in Spokane, and having surgery. We have been in the hospital the entire trip and won't be able to go back to the cabin because it is in too remote of a location. She has been extremely miserable to the point that I don't remember ever seeing her this way (even during past hospitalizations). We hope to go home today but the journey is far from being over.

This complication means she needs surgery as soon as possible to reroute blood around her liver however this is only a temporary fix. The only permanent solution is a liver transplant so hopefully we will be able to get on the transplant list and obtain a liver soon.

There is always a silver lining but today I'm having a hard time seeing it. Still, there is hope. This incident will likely bump up her priority on the transplant list. It will change our entire way of life (no longer traveling far from Seattle) and I'm sure God will work through this but days like today make it seem awfully unfair that such a sweet kid has to go through so much.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Friday, December 5, 2014

It's chick time!


I love fresh eggs and our family eats a lot of them! We've talked about getting chicks for awhile and I couldn't pass up the chance to use the fantastic hen house and run that is on the property we are renting. So earlier this week, on one of the coldest days of the year, I went out and bought four chicks. By the next day I was convinced that four wasn't enough so I went back for three more.


All three kids love them and especially Anellah which is interesting because she is the least interested in animals and has the highest tendency to be fearful of animals. The chicks, however, are her thing. She sings to them, reads books to them, and tells them goodnight. It's awfully cute.

I'm having trouble getting good photos of the chicks since since their heatlamp is red but hopefully you can use a little imagination to see how sweet they are.

So here we are, living with three kids sharing a bedroom and seven chicks in the living room. It's a good thing we don't have a dog or this trailer might just explode!


Serenity Hour

It's 1:18pm and I'm in the serenity hour. That's what I call the time when I've run my morning errands and the littles are finally down for a nap and the bigger one hopefully earned her TV show and I stop...and breathe...and look around and wonder where to start. Usually I start with chocolate. Sometimes I spend the hour getting the house back in order but I try not to. I try to just spend a little time doing something that I can't do when there's noise and chaos and mouths to feed and zippers to zip and hands to keep busy. Often that means returning emails or making phone calls but today is Friday so I'm spending it with a special cup of my favorite tea...and nothing else. I'll think and pray a bit and sip my tea.

In about 8 minutes I'll move on to unloading the dishwasher and prepping breakfast and bundling up to crawl under the house and retrieve the stash of "wild" chicken eggs I discovered under there last night but until then I'll just sit and watch the rain out the window. What a difference 8 minutes of quiet makes.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Forward Momentum

We are finally able to move forward with the next step in the permitting process for our future home! You see, our property will need a well and a septic system but the majority of the property is a "wetland" which means it is protected space and cannot be used.
It's not called "wetland" for nothing, these are floodwaters
There is currently a well our property but it feeds the neighbor's house (Site B) as originally their house was the farmhouse for the farm we now own a piece of. We have been waiting for THEIR neighbor's property (Site C) to be sold so that we can make arrangements to have a well drilled on Site B and therefore have our own well on our own property. Drilling a well on Site B, however, will encroach on Site C meaning that they cannot drill a well in the corner of their property since the two wells would then be too close together. Long story short, Site C sold a few months ago and the owner has agreed to sign a well covenant stating it is alright for Site B's well to slightly encroach on his land. We can now bring this to the county and propose that we have our own well, site B has their own well, and site C will be ok with the situation!

Phew! We are nowhere new having actual permits but this has been a step we have been waiting for for almost a year.

In the meantime we're making sure the goats are comfortable, doing a bit of landscaping (aka burying huge rocks), and enjoying our lakefront property during this time of flooding.
Capper was MORE than thrilled to help with excavating!

Monday, November 10, 2014

We've been seen!

Today I should have been able to post that over the course of 2 1/2 months I was able to schedule and ATTEND all eleven of Anellah's medical appointments. Instead I can only say that we successfully scheduled them. More about that in a minute. The good news is that we have been able to see all of Anellah's specialists and I really like each doctor! I was sad to leave her old providers but I am shocked to discover her new doctors are just as thorough, fun and genuinely caring as her old providers.

Today was a lesson in taking a deep breath and saying, "Ok God, I'm in this frustrating situation and I don't understand why but with your help I can keep calm and make the most of it." After making the hour-plus drive into Seattle Children's Hospital, we arrived at security to check in, and were told that Anellah did not have an appointment today. I knew I had received a confirmation letter so when I inquired further the security desk said it was cancelled. We trekked to the registration desk and they made a further inquiry. After a few phone calls and meeting with a staff member from the department I was told that the appointment with a genetic counselor was cancelled since what was really needed was an appointment with a geneticist and this was going to be scheduled instead. What made the situation extra frustrating was that I had brought up this point and TRIED to schedule an appointment with a geneticist to begin with over a month ago but was told I could not. In addition I had called the previous week just to check and make SURE that this appointment was necessary but had not heard back.

I'm not sure what the "silver lining" of this experience was and I may never know other than that it was a lesson in patience. But I do know that no matter how hard I try to keep my life in order, to dot all my i's and cross all my t's, mistakes happen. Life is messy and frustrating and frankly it's not fair. I spent the morning telling myself that although I didn't want to go to the appointment and kept having thoughts about how it wasn't fair Anellah and I have to spend so much time doing this when we could be doing something FUN, I would go about the situation with grace and use every opportunity to be a light to those around me. And then this. It is a big deal, it was most of my day, and it was frustrating. But at the end of the day, God cares more about my heart doing everything as if for the Lord rather than how much I could have accomplished had I been home. And this afternoon we were still able to ride bikes outside because it wasn't raining. And spend time sitting on the couch reading to warm back up. So tomorrow I will wake up, and I will thank God that it is Veteran's Day. I will thank God that we have a day off as a family. I will thank God that I live in a country in which I have access to 11 different medical providers for one child. And I will thank God for my children with whom I can share life with and that I have the opportunity to show grace in the face of frustration.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dreams Realized

Our future backyard
This boy loves his bike
If you have never spent time in the Pacific Northwest during the fall you are missing out on one of the most beautiful places in the world. We are here, we are home. We are feeling "settled" and beginning to meet new people with the goal of new beautiful friendships.

We are STILL waiting to apply for permits to build our house and have been hearing stories from many people about their difficult building experiences. Their stories help us realize how blessed we are to have my Dad who is a general contractor putting in so much work for us during this "pre-permitting" process. While we wait to build we have two happy goats keeping the blackberries down for us at our property. They love our almost-daily visits and it is fun to bring the kids to play in the straw and feed them kitchen scraps.

It has been glorious being near family. We get together with my parents and grandparents at least weekly for dinner and we see my parents almost everyday. Anellah tells my Mom, "Gram you are my best friend" and Capper announces, "I like Gram, she is my favorite...and Gramps too!" This weekend we are heading to Daniel's parents for a night or two, the kids are JUST as excited to spend time with them. We are also enjoying watching our children spend time with their cousins more often and get to know them better.
Meeting a troll at the pumpkin patch
We often miss having "deep"friendships, the kind that only come with time and living life together. I often get overwhelmed with the MESS of having three kids...not just three kids in a mobile home but three kids anywhere! We miss the community our church provided. We miss structure as Daniel has been off work for the two months we've lived here. It has been quite a transition but at the end of the day when we sit back we are sure that this is where we are meant to be.
Our current backyard

Friday, October 3, 2014

One Month

One Month ago today "Eastside Movers" moving company was carrying boxes out of our moving truck and I was trying to decide where furniture should be placed while nursing a baby under a nursing cover. In a sense I can't believe we've already been here a month, but more it feels like we have always been here. I didn't expect that returning to my hometown would feel so comfortable. Even though the surrounding towns and cities have changed, little Fall City remains the same. Even though Fall City Elementary has been remodeled since I attended; when I walk Anellah through the doors I'm struck by the familiar smell of polished wooden floors and the sounds of kids laughing and memories of my grade school days flood back.

The block between my parents house and our rental is starting to show the signs of a footpath as we walk back and forth between Gram and Gramps almost daily. There is also a path through the fields in the back which lead to GREAT Grandma and GREAT Grandpa's house. What a blessing for our children to know so many of their Grandparents.

On Sundays we will continue to try to make the 1 1/2 hour drive to the other side of the family for Sunday afternoon rest/play and Sunday evening dinner at least once a month. During the week Anellah has been attending Kindergarten in the mornings and loves it. I always knew that once she had an interest and confidence in reading she would just TAKE OFF and that is exactly what is happening. She is starting to sound out words and write them because "homework time" is such a treat and she is excited to "work" along with Capper in the afternoons. Anellah and Capper continue to spend plenty of time outside. They love the independence of being able to explore in a safe environment, feed animals, swing on rope swings, and splash in puddles. One morning it was raining and Capper exclaimed, "Look! It's raining...new puddles!!!!!"
Painting cabinets prior to unpacking kitchen stuff
We continue to thank God for bringing us here and supplying all our needs. I am very pleased with the kids' new pediatrician, we will be spending many hours over the next couple of months becoming acquainted with Anellah's new specialists (transferring care and obtaining medical records has been no easy task) but have had one appointment at Seattle Children's and I was very impressed. We also moved here just in time for Gram's siblings to all come into town and it was special for the kids to spend time with them. Our little mobile home is quite cozy and I've yet to miss the extra square footage. And finally, Daniel's interim clearance has been granted so he should be able to start his new job soon!
Feeding goats again!
Celebrating Gramps' birthday
Storytime with Great Aunt Heather and Cousins Lilly and Sophie
There have been a couple overwhelming days during the past month but considering everything going on it's not surprising! Over all, however it has been a glorious month and we are all just loving living here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

One Week

I am enjoying listening to rain as I type this. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I experienced it again!
Goodbye 2165 39th Ave, you've been good to us!

Last Night at "Home"

We left Oakland one week ago today and it has been a whirlwind! In a week we had our truck loaded, drove across three states, had our truck unloaded, spent lots of time with family (including putting them to work at our new place!), painted kitchen cabinets, tried to unpack as much as possible, finished getting things in order for school (both related to enrollment and medical care), went to the pediatrician for an initial appointment, set up AppleHealth (Medicaid in Washington), began scheduling appointments with specialists...and much more.  We are still having a few things fixed on our rental, there are still boxes to unpack, we haven't put the doors back on our kitchen cabinets, and I have a stack of paperwork to sort through and bills to pay. My mind is still spinning but today began to feel a bit more "normal." We could NOT have made it through the week sane without family!! Thank you to all of our family members who have entertained Anellah and Capper, held Evelyn, fixed cabinets, painted, cooked, hung up clothes, installed towel bars, and more! We are so happy to be living near our family. Here are some photos of the past week.

Goodbye Breakfast in Oakland with Friends
Goodbye Hugs
Car naps on the road
Car entertainment
      
Spoils from our new "garden"! Plenty of grapes and raspberries to pick. Even enough to juice!
 
Our "pet" piggies and goats being fed by my Grandma and later by Capper. They are actually owned by our landlord but we get to enjoy them. 
Beautiful place, isn't it?
PS It's football season again

Sunday, August 31, 2014

T minus 17 Hours

New Oakland shirts!
Boxes are packed, trips to Goodwill have been made, Craigslist sales have been completed, and moving truck is sitting on the road. I even held Evelyn and read a book for half an hour today. In true Royal fashion we are having some friends over for one last dinner in this kitchen tonight...using paper plates and borrowed silverware. The movers will be here tomorrow at 0800 and Daniel will help while they load the truck and I take the kids out to a final Oakland breakfast. I guess this means we are closing an exciting chapter of our lives and beginning a new one!

Last Sunday at our beloved church calls for fancy dresses and big yellow bows!
"Goodbye Oakland"
Testing out the Moving Truck
Spending a lot of time getting carried while Mom packs boxes
The best part of moving is finishing off the cherries from the refrigerator

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why Our Kids are Awesome

There is so much I have already forgotten from the last few years and I want to remember these days...both the blissful and the tough. So here's a post written for myself. Feel free to eavesdrop.

The period of mid July through mid August was difficult as far as parenting is concerned. Capper and Anellah had ganged up on us as parents and were doing their best to "innocently" make our lives as difficult as possible. I say "innocently" because they weren't being blatantly disobedient, but just disobedient and sneaky enough to be extremely frustrating. Rather than playing with toys it seemed they were getting into everything OTHER than toys. Things that wouldn't really matter if it happened once or twice but when it was incessant toy-avoidance it got old quickly. Then there was bedtime, they weren't "bad" per se, they just stayed up laughing and giggling for HOURS after being put to bed. To the point where they were still up when we would go to bed. Needless to say this made for tired kids the next day. There were other times where they would do sneaky things that Anellah knew they shouldn't be doing but she acted as if she didn't when confronted; the only way we were sure she "knew better" was that she tried to hide her actions when she heard Daniel or I coming. The icing on the cake was when we received some medical equipment for Anellah's glucose sensor and I let the kids open the box then got distracted doing something else for a minute before a friend came to graciously bring us dinner. Suddenly I realized it was too quiet and when I called upstairs, "are you being obedient or naughty?" the answer I received was, "naughty." Upon entering their room I witnessed over $100 of medical supplies ($400+ without insurance) had been injected into a stuffed animal as they giggled and "played doctor." That was the tipping point, I walked out of their room seeing red and knowing that I would regret anything I said or did to them in that moment. Daniel addressed the situation and I cried. We talked about actions after that and they cried to see me cry. It was a mess!! But life itself is a mess and as Glennon over at Momastery says, this was some of the "messy-beautiful." Because in that moment my kids saw a part of me they hadn't seen before. A part of me that was intensely real. And guess what, since that day (August 13th to be exact) we've had more fun together. They've had more fun with each other, and we have all learned a lot.

So part of the reason why our kids are awesome is because they can take that, the raw frustration of their Mom. Also because they teach me every day to stop being so distracted, be creative by making something that is "not a toy" something fun, and that I CAN be patient and forgiving and move past something that seems like such a "big deal" in the moment only to look back and realize it wasn't all that important.

My favorite reason why our kids are awesome, however, is that they are sweet, smart, creative, and hilarious! I wanted to write a blog post about these aspects so I can remember them in the future.

Anellah, our Creative Creature: Lately she has been pretending to be a "creature" of one sort or another. Sometimes she is a cat, other times a bee, other times a chicken, other times a spider, and other times, "no I'm just a creature." She sings and dances at least hourly. The way I know she is awake in the morning is because she begins her day with a song. Earlier today she was composing a new song on the piano first by playing a few notes over and over and then by adding "words." Nevermind that the words were gibberish, I'm sure they were better than a lot of lyrics out there. She has never met a stranger, I'm constantly reminding her that she needs to give people their space rather than sitting on the lap of a person she's never met. The other day I had to tell her it wasn't appropriate to give a kiss to every person in the waiting room at the dentist office as she'd announced to me she was about to do. She HAS been known to go around giving a sticker to each person in a waiting room however. She also shares with others, especially Capper. Whether it is her food, her toys, or her time she is (almost) always willing to give to him. She is in love with her baby sister and likes to hold her. The other day they sat together for an hour, both of them content just to be with each other. She can be pretty funny at times too, like two days ago when our count-down paper chain broke and she announced, "Oops, I guess we have to go to our new house now!"

Capper the Crack-up: He has been exceptionally cute and hilarious lately. One day we were talking about how Anellah's tooth fell out and he piped up, "my tonsils came out!"He's also been, "packing for Washington" which includes grabbing a box or suitcase and filling it with shirts, undies, night-time pull-ups, and his favorite toothbrush. Then he puts on his shoes (usually while only wearing undies) and announces, "I have my shoes on, I'm ready to go!" At our recent "Go Away Party" he kept his clothes on for about an hour before he decided that he should be comfortable, after all the party was for him right? So he stripped down to simply underwear. He too has a very sweet side and absolutely adores his sisters. But mostly he adores his older sister whom he will play with for hours. When we are in public he is always keeping tabs on her and if he can't find her he asks, "where Anellah go?" He is loving this summer since they get to spend it together all day and night.


Sweet Baby Evelyn: she is peaceful and beautiful. Photos really don't do her justice. God knew we needed a baby who liked riding in the car since we are driving to Fall City so he gave us her. We are thankful and feel blessed to have such a wonderful baby girl.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Halfway Point

Evelyn is almost 2 1/2 weeks old which means we have 2 1/2 weeks until we move. Remarkably it hasn't felt like much of a scramble. In fact most "moving" preparations were on hold for the first couple weeks of Evelyn's life. We are starting to get back into the swing of planning but nothing extremely intense.
Currently we are kicked back in an armchair with the laptop
Evelyn, aka Baby Evie, aka Lil Haze, aka The Baby, is doing well. She  spends most of her day sleeping, eating, pooping, and hoping not to be forgotten. We are pretty sure she knows she is a third child since she is a little over-achiever in the realm of "good babies." She is a joy and her older siblings continue to be enamored with her.

















Daniel has been taking a fair amount of time off work although he will be working this weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). It will be the first time that I am home alone with the kids since my parents were here for the first week and a half.

We are still waiting to hear back with a final offer and start date for Daniel's job in Seattle His case should be assigned this week at which point an investigator will review his paperwork and hopefully within four weeks he will have a new security clearance. Once the clearance is in place, Department of State will extend a final offer.

We have a place to live lined up in Fall City, WA and are in the process of signing lease paperwork. The house is small (2 bedroom) but we will be neighbors with my parents so the location couldn't be better! We will also be close to our property where we plan to build which will be nice and hopefully enable us to do a lot of the work ourselves.

Thinking about saying "final" goodbyes to our friends here in California is hard. We have an amazing support system (as evidenced by all the delicious dinners we've been receiving recently!) whom we will miss dearly. It is hard to imagine not spending time with the friends whom we love and who have supported us as our family has grown from the two of us to a family of five! It is also hard to imagine not being a part of their lives; knowing that our children won't grow up together. God has blessed us through relationships here and we look forward to new relationships in a new state but know we will always hold our California relationships dear.

On that note I'll leave you with a video of Capper eating popcorn like a dog while dancing (like a dog)...because it's just ridiculous.

video