Sunday, May 31, 2009

one day.

My mother in law Rhona always tells me that one day, my days will be easier.

This is not that day!

Emma woke up feeling "all better"! No fever. swelling has gone down. She's back to chasing after Jack and Sam!

Caroline however, woke up to find her very red and sore eyes seeled shut with goop!

I think the only one in the family who's had a good weekend is Sophie (the pup) because she has had endless snuggles with her girls!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

poor baby

I've always been surprised at what a tough little girl Emma is and just how strong her little body fights things off! No matter what little bug any of us pick up, Emma has rarely had as much as a runny nose!

Today she is finally sick. Down and out kind of sick!

She woke up this morning with a really high fever and a swollen hand. We got her fever to come down a little but had no idea what was up with her hand...

I talked to our pediatrician and when I mentioned her hand he thought she should be seen right away. Of course it's Saturday and they don't have weekend hours, so that meant a trip to Children's hospital.

Emma has had a little sore on her hand for the past week, I think it started as a bug bite, but it has apparently become infected! They put her on antibiotics and said to keep a close eye on her, if the fever goes back up or the swelling get's any worse we'll have to bring her back so they can put in IV's to better treat the infection.

So for now, we wait.

And snuggle our poor little baby.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

She's got champagne at her hose!

Congratulations to my dear sweet sweet friend Julie! and her wonderful husband Steven, after one year, six months, two weeks and 3 days of waiting they have finally found out who their children are...wonderful wonderful news!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


yes, I know.


If you've known us for awhile, this probably doesn't come as a shock...or maybe it does. I don't know.

This summer Jud and I will have been married for 9 years. We are now packing to move into our 5th house!

Believe me I know how insane that sounds!

Here's the thing.

With each move we've grown. Changed.

We are finding that the THINGS that we had placed such importance, like a master suite, walk in closets, granite counter tops, media room, blah blah blah...well they just don't really have that same draw anymore.

The new house is a bit smaller and doesn't have all the bells and whistles that this one does...but we are soooooo excited and looking forward to sheding some stuff and getting back to the basics of us!!!

Oh and it's walking distance to Quinn and Matthew! I don't think it could get any better than that!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Come, come for a bit of respite in the middle of so much sadness. Come, rest awhile.

Those were Julie's words to me last week...

Since my Dad was still in the hospital and my Mom was staying at our house along with many of my siblings going in and out, I didn't think there was any way that I could or should go on the trip to visit Julie that Rebekah and I had planned...

But as you all know by now, I have an amazing husband. And he knew. He knew how much I needed this. He knew how much I needed to spend a little time away from everything that's happening here. He knew how much I needed to be with these two incredible women...he insisted that I go.

and I will be forever grateful that he did!

This weekend was exactly what I needed.

Sure we hit some exclusive poolside bars...

stopped by for a premier...

even saw some celebrities!

we stopped to take in the view

but the best part by far was just being with these two phenomenal women. These really truly are friends who touch your soul! I miss them already!

We talked, we laughed, we cried, and poor Steven had to put up with the major estrogen overload that occurred right in his very own living room! poor guy!

I have so much to say about these two...but it will have to wait for another post, things are insane here right now...

my dad is being released from the hospital today!

I'm pretty sure we've sold our house!

we are planning to go to MN tomorrow, but late last night realized we hadn't made plans for the two dogs! so, if you'll excuse me, I will now try to pull a rabbit from my hat:)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Random Thoughts. . .

(Guest blogger warning: If you are expecting a post from my articulate, thoughtful and empathetic wife, you'll have to wait. She is due back Tuesday. Until then, you're stuck with her faithful sidekick. . .)

Have you ever seen a look in the face of someone you love that haunts you? A look that shares pain, sorrow and loss by it's mere existence?

This has been a very difficult past 10 days. Jess' father is sick and in the hospital. Her mother has been dealing with all that comes with your spouse of 40 years being sick. Her family has come together from 100 miles away and spent the majority of their week here. At first all converging upon the hospital, and then sharing a schedule that has meant that her dad has never been alone.

It has me wondering: Do we ever tell our spouse, kids, parents enough about how we feel about them? Why do we let little things corrode our relationships over time like rust, rather than simply acknowledging them and moving on? At what point in our lives, do we move from growing up to growing older?

I guess we all go through similar phases in getting to know our parents. We move from idolization to rebelion. From anger at their limits and faults, to recognition of our own. At some point we move to acceptance of all that they are.

And then at some point, they aren't.

I've seen something in my wife this week. Maybe it's only in times of great emotion that we see deeper into the people we love. Jess & I tell each other all the time that what we have is rare. That we are both so lucky to have met each other. That we are blessed to have this bond.

She has a deep capacity for caring and is driven to understand and question what she is told. I've always loved her for her passion and her straightforwardness. This week I saw her questioning her father's doctors. Searching the web for answers. Talking late into the night with her sister Jean. Trying to understand something that just may not be understandable.

This week I saw her set everything aside and go to her parents. I saw her talking with her sisters, giving of herself: being there. I saw in her actions, what we should all be telling each other more often. I love you. I'm here for you. You are my family. . . .

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

room for hope

I followed Julie's advise and basically stalked the Dr's today...not Dr. "Doom" we haven't seen him since Saturday after the surgery...

But one of the other partners...I asked him if it was general consensus, that it was just a matter of time.

I told him exactly what "Dr. Doom" told us, basically he said there is no way to know at this point... He is not out of the woods. There is a lot that could happen. So far he has made amazing progress. Much better than they thought he would. Just as they can't say he will definitely be OK, they can't say that this will definitely kill him. It may not sound like much, but the fact that there is room for HOPE. Well that's just huge!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Disclaimer-this is likely to make absolutely no sense!

It's been a really rough week.

I've been debating about whether to write about it, or to take a little blog break...

And then I started re-reading many of Julie's posts, like this one And I'm realizing how much it helps to hear about how other people find a way to cope or make sense or whatever. I don't know.

I've mentioned before that my dad was sick.

It is not cancer.

It started with an infection in his pancreas.

He was in Florida, had surgery. seemed to get a little better. came home. was not better. Thursday they rushed him to Milwaukee for emergency surgery. Friday morning he had surgery number 1. Saturday morning he had surgery number 2.

I admit, before the surgery when we were sitting in his room and they were going over the risks and having him sign consent forms, I really didn't think that death was a possibility. I mean, I knew it was serious. But he's otherwise in pretty good health. Not, likely to run a marathon anytime soon, but overall healthy. We were actually joking about it! My brother told him if he saw a light to turn around and run the other way!

My dad just smiled and said, "no, if he says it's my time, then it's my time...I'm OK with that, I trust him." Gave me chills. Still does.

So the surgeries went well. I guess. Apparently just the fact that he survived the surgeries was somewhat surprising to the doctors. We weren't all that surprised. He's tough. He's stubborn. He's a fighter.

Then they told us, he may get better. He may be able to go home in a few weeks. He may continue to feel better for a few months.

a few months?

The Doctor (with the most horrendous bedside manner) could read it on all of our faces. a few months?

He warned us not to "get too excited". "Eventually this will kill him".

What the hell do you say to that?

What the hell do you do with that?

How do you go on being hopeful, when it feels hopeless?

How do look at him everyday and wonder if today is the day?

It's so hard.

And there seems to be quite a variation of coping skills amongst the 8 of sister and I are looking for signs...trying to find meaning in every move he makes or word he other sister and brother are making lists of questions for the doctors...some are rarely leaving his bedside...and some refuse to believe that it's as bad as the Dr's say...

I guess we all have to figure out our own way to do this. to handle this. to prepare for this.

How do you prepare to lose someone your not ready to lose?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

World AIDS Orphans Day

Today is a big day. An important day. Please, read what Erin has to say...and really think about it. Think about what YOU can do.

World AIDS Orphans Day is a grassroots campaign to draw attention to and advocate on behalf of the millions of children orphaned by AIDS.

Here are some of the staggering facts. Please read them... please really stop and think a minute about these statistics.

There are over 15 million children orphaned by AIDS living around the world RIGHT NOW. 15 million is the equivalent to the number of all of the people living in New York, Paris, and Bangkok combined. That is an awful lot of children.
Well over 12 million AIDS orphans live in Sub-Saharan Africa, alone.
Experts believe that millions more orphans remain unaccounted for in India, China and Russia.
At least 10 million more children will be orphans by AIDS by 2010.
Do you know how many TOTAL global confirmed cases of the swine flu there have been? As of today (May 6), there have been 1,516 cases. Do you know how many people, world wide, have died of the swine flu as of today?? 31. And look at all the hype... all the action... all the caring.

Do you know how many people around the world DIED of HIV/AIDS in 2007? An estimated TWO MILLION people. That is over 5,400 people a day, dieing of HIV/AIDS. It has been estimated that now, in 2009, 6,500 people will die every day from AIDS, and an estimated 6,000 of those people will leave behind children when they die.

So today, another 6,000 children will be added to the already 15 million children world wide who have been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS crisis.

The result of being orphaned by AIDS is heart-breaking for these children. From the World AIDS Orphans Day website:

In addition to the trauma of losing a parent, orphans are often subject to discrimination and are less likely to receive healthcare, education and other needed services.
In HIV affected households lacking community support, food consumption can drop by 40% putting children at risk to hunger, malnutrition and stunting.
Impoverished and often without support to educate and protect them, orphans and vulnerable children face increased risk of HIV infection. (And there are already an estimated 2 million children currently living with HIV).

Orphans are often easy prey to many forms of exploitation: forced labor, prostitution and child soldiering.
In the United States, if a child loses a parent to accident or illness, it is considered a terrible tragedy. Such stories are covered by the media, communities mourn and show their support, etc. In Sub-Saharan Africa, parents dieing is a normal part of life. It is still a terrible tragedy for those children, but it happens so often that no one else really pays any attention.

And do you know what makes this really, truly horrible? Do you know what makes my gut twist and my heart ache? HIV IS COMPLETELY TREATABLE.

If a person contracts HIV in the United States or another country where there is treatment readily available, they have an excellent long term prognosis. Most HIV+ people receiving treatment now have close to normal life expectancies and can live in good overall health. With treatment, HIV+ children can be healthy and happy. They can go to school, grow up, go to college, have (healthy!) children, and live long enough to raise them and beyond. Without treatment, an estimated 50% of HIV+ children will die before the hit their second birthday. My Solomon was almost one of those 50%.

HIV does not have to be a death sentence, and yet for thousands of people every day, it is, because the world doesn't care enough to really do something about it.

Can you imagine for one minute if some terrible disease struck the United States (or whatever country you live in) and was killing thousands and orphaning thousands every day? Can you imagine if another country had treatment that could lead to good health and a long life, but it just was too expensive or too difficult or too much trouble to get that medicine to us? We wouldn't stand for it.

So why do we stand for it now?

I can't wrap my head around what 15 million orphans looks like. I can barely wrap my head around the 100 or so HIV+ orphans that I am trying to find adoptive families for. The numbers are staggering, and so is the need for action. Children are the future of our world, and I shudder to think about what this world will be like with so many millions of children growing up without the love and security of a family... and way too often growing up without adequate food, education and medical care. Where does that leave all of us?

Rich Stearns, President of World Vision, US said,

"I believe that this could very well be looked back on as the sin of our generation. I look at my parents and ask, where were they during the civil rights movement? I look at my grandparents and ask, what were they doing when the holocaust in Europe was occurring with regard to the Jews, and why didn't they speak up? And when we think of our great, great, great-grandparents, we think how could they have sat by and allowed slavery to exist? And I believe that our children and their children, 40 or 50 years from now, are going to ask me, what did you do while 40 million children became orphans in Africa?"

I know that it feels like the problem is way too big for us to really do anything to make a difference, but I know with all my heart that touching the life of just one, just ONE, child can truly make a difference. And if everyone touched the life of just one child, we could reach them all.

Here are some ways that you can help touch the life of an AIDS orphan this World AIDS Orphans Day.

- Get educated. One of the biggest roadblocks in getting people to care and take action is the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. This is not a disease that only strikes those who "deserve it" (yes, that is really how some people think!). This is a disease that strikes men, women and children... it strikes heterosexuals and homosexuals, it strikes people of all races and social classes and it strikes people in all countries. HIV/AIDS is a HUMAN problem.

Fear is another big roadblock. HIV can not be transmitted in any casual way, and people that are HIV+ are not a threat to those around them. HIV can only be transmitted through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).

I have written a ton about HIV/AIDS, and you can find those posts here. Once you are educated, join my Tell Two Campaign and share the truth about HIV/AIDS with others.

Two excellent books to read about the HIV/AIDS crisis and the orphan crisis are There is No Me Without You and 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa.

- Sponsor an AIDS orphan. There are many wonderful organizations out there that allow you to sponsor a child for a very low cost per month. Doing so makes a great difference in the life of that child, and getting to know the child you sponsor through pictures, updates, letters, etc. will have a great impact on your life as well. I promise. Two wonderful organizations that I work with are AHOPE for Children (which supports AHOPE Ethiopia, a home and community support program for HIV+ children in Ethiopia) and Hardthaven, a home for AIDS orphans in Ghana. I know that financially times are hard for many right now, but we live better than most people in the world and would have to sacrifice very very little to sponsor (and truly help) an orphaned child.

- Consider adopting. Adoption is only an option for a tiny percentage of the 15 million AIDS orphans around the world and it is certainly not the solution to the AIDS crisis or the orphan crisis, but for the tiny percentage of children who do get adopted, it changes their world and their future dramatically (and for the adoptive parents, it is equally amazing). There are agencies and programs placing healthy and special needs orphans from all over the world with new families. If your heart may be open to adopting an HIV+ child, I have about 100 amazing children of all ages waiting for a second chance at love, family and life.

You can read here why I believe in adoption, and you can read here why I feel so passionately about adoption for HIV+ children.

- Support From HIV to Home, an organization that helps provide care for HIV+ orphans and supports and helps parents adopting HIV+ children. They have a wonderful program to help raise money for parents adopting HIV+ children called Kids Walking Kids Home.

- Support Project HOPEFUL, whose mission is to "encourage, educate and enable parents adopting children with HIV/AIDS".

- Visit the World AIDS Orphans website for other ways to touch your heart, get educated and get involved.

Please feel free to share this post anywhere you see fit. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

the toothless wonder turns 7 today!

I really wanted to do a montage to show all the cutness that is Jackson...but I'm really short on time these days! Instead, I'm going to let hime share his autobiography with you!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


another one bites the dust!

This time he pulled it out himself, and he was oh so proud of himself!

At Emma's check up today, she had to get four shots! The last time she had shots it was a disaster! But that time all four kids needed them...Jack went first, and well, lets just say he's the sensitive type. (with great lungs!) He started screaming and then they all started screaming...I still have nightmares about that day...So when the Dr. today, told me that Emma was due for four more, I was a bit worried. But while we were waiting for the nurse to come in with the needles, I explained to her that she was going to need to have a few pokes. This was greeted with a "but I don't like shots!" I told her I don't like shots either, and then that was it.

The nurse came in, Emma sat on the edge of the table and let the nurse poke her little legs...she didn't even flinch! In fact while the nurse was putting the band aids on Emma, she told her that she was sorry to have hurt her. Emma looked at her and said, "what? that didn't even hurt!" The nurse was so impressed with her bravery that she gave her some very cool new shades!

By dinner time tonight her legs were feeling really sore. For her to say they hurt, and refuse to must have been painful! So I propped her up on the couch armed with motrin, ice packs, and back to back Phineas and Ferb's, which she watched while sporting her new shades!

Monday, May 4, 2009

snaggle tooth

Aunt Jean pulled out one of the top loose teeth yesterday, now Jack is left with this one snaggle tooth!