Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Happy Birthday to Valerie Grace

Today, my baby girl turned 9 years old...amazing! 

We are so grateful to God for the great things He has done in our lives. Every good gift is from Him above, and we have been blessed with so many.  Today, we are off on another we have been blessed with this new day. Another day to love Him, love others, and marvel at the beauty of His creation.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Winter/Spring Garden

Some of the girls chose seeds to plant in the garden this winter. Valerie chose a Carnival Carrot Mix. She planted some in her garden...

and then I planted some in a 5 gallon bucket! I think we know which method we will be using next year. 

Brooke and Valerie helped fill the raised beds Craig made for our Spring/Summer Garden.

We have lost a few hens to a fox and a bobcat. 

Thankfully, the chickens continue to lay plenty of delicious eggs. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

All Things Work Together For Good....

I believe that in challenging situations, we have a choice. We can choose to be angry or look for the good or the lesson in the situation. 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 
2Corinthians 4:16-18

These past few weeks have certainly taught me some very valuable lessons. Lessons I thought I knew, but really didn't put in to practice well. A lesson I was forced into recently - resting. 

I do not rest well. I love to multi-task. If I have to make a phone call to a company, I will often go online at the same time and pay bills or get some other work done while on the phone. This type of behavior often leads to burnt food and a lot of stress (for myself and for those around me). I have more than once carried the entire toaster oven outside because the smoke was too intense to open the toaster door and remove the burnt food. The food burnt because after I put it in to cook, I started on another project. The smoke alarm closest to our kitchen is no longer on the ceiling due to my multitasking desasters. If I am stirring something on the stove and drop a towel or other item, I have been known to pick up the fallen item with my toes and pass it to one hand while the other hand continues to stir the pot. My husband often has to tell me to sit down or take a bath or go lay down. I just don't rest well. 

We still aren't exactly sure what happened with my leg - if it was a soleus muscle strain or tendon tear. What I thought was tendon pain in my ankles (the only time I have cried through this), may actually have been neuropathy.  Regardless, it has severely limited my mobility. For the first two weeks I was in bed most of the time. Forced rest.... After a week, I actually began to enjoy it. 

Before this happened, I felt there were so many things that had to be done. If a bill came in, I would pay it right then. I always have. It would cause me to much stress thinking that I might forget to pay it if I let it sit a day or more. I felt like my list of things that had to get done was never fully checked off at the end of the day. So, it was quite surprising to see that without my being able to get things done, life still continued. The first few days, the girls brought me breakfast in bed along with many cards and gifts. After a few days, the laundry and dishes began to pile up a bit.....amazingly, life continued. Even when my own life chaos seems to come to a screeching halt, the rest of life continues. This is even more apparent after more difficult events than this one. The two I remember most are when our dear friends' son passed away unexpectedly. I remembered going to the grocery store a few days later and it seemed I was in a dream - things didn't even sound or look the same. The same thing happened after Valerie's diagnosis when we went out for the first time. It sure does seem that my eyes were no longer focused on the things of this world but on the eternal things...special, surreal moments, walking with God on this crazy journey of life. 

Life certainly has gone on more easily thanks to Craig and the girls, offers of help from our neighbors, a delicious meal from our watercolor teacher, crutches from Craig's coworker, and my parents coming to stay with us after a week after this started. My dad has driven me to my appointments for physical therapy and make numerous trips to the grocery store while my mom has helped with laundry, dishes, etc. The girls have done an amazing job of keeping up with their school work and helping out in other ways as well. Okay, so I could really get accustomed to this resting, but thankfully I seem to be improving little by little. Yesterday was the first day I went to physical therapy without crutches (being dropped off and picked up at the door). I even went into the grocery store with my dad and leaned on the cart. Thankfully no one bumped into me or I may have fallen over on them. 

This whole experience has opened my eyes to all of the things I have taken for granted. I never realized what a true blessing mobility is. It is a gift, not a guarantee. I am praying that I fully recover and am one day able to walk normally, run, jump, and do all of the things that I used to do but with greater gratitude to our Lord. 

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 
Romans 8:28

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Please share the dangers of fluoroquinolones...

As most parents of children with brain tumors know, the possible side effects from medications can be overwhelming. Thankfully, the side effects were mostly listed as temporary and thankfully, our Valerie Grace did not seem to experience any severe effects. Parents of these special children are often forced to make extremely difficult decisions. I understand that in these situations, decision have to be made and that sometimes, God leads us in a very different direction than we ever thought could be correct.

After having water in my ear for quite a while despite my best efforts to remove it, I decided to see a local physician. The nurse was the only one available to see me. She told me I had a major outer ear infection and she prescribed an ear drop called Ciprodex. Upon using it, I felt I could taste it in my mouth after administering it in my ear and after a few days, the tip of my tongue felt tingly and numb. I later found out this could have been an allergic reaction.  I went back to see the doctor and was told I did not have an outer ear infection but instead a severe sinus infection. I was surprised as I felt fine other than my the numbness on my tongue and the full feeling in my ear. She was so confident in this and felt that an antibiotic would clear things up. I do not normally take antibiotics and in the past have only taken ones that do not have side effects....Certainly not permanent ones. I did not go to the doctor looking for an antibiotic. I was hoping for some information on drying out my ear and nothing else.  I felt that anything that could harm me would not be prescribed. I suppose that 8 years of walking this medical journey with Valerie had lowered my fear of doctors and hospitals and I really believed that doctors had a passion to help and do no harm. The doctor had prescribed a drug called Levaquin and told me she prescribes it all the time. She said it didn't cause the same harsh side effects as the other choice, Augmenten, to which I told her I was sensitive. I took the first dose, and an hour later, my calf felt extremely painful. I thought it might have been because I walked a lot that day. About 20 hours later, my calf felt better. I took the second dose and again, within an hour I had calf pain, but now, I could hardly walk. It was quite clear that there was a direct relation between the drug and the calf pain.  I called a friend who is a nurse and was told about the possibility of tendon damage and rupture from Levaquin.

There was no warning given by the doctor, no warning on the bottle, and the Black Box warning mandated by the FDA was stapled on the bottom of all other paperwork. I later found out that the FDA sent letters to all doctors explaining that Levaquin should only be used in confirmed infections and not as a first line defense. It should be saved as an antibiotic of last resort. I did not take any more of the medicine. It turns out I did not even have a sinus infection, but rather allergies. While Levaquin is supposed to be out of the system after 30 hours of the last dose, the effects can last much longer, as I have learned. There is a lot of information available online about the devastating side effects from this drug. Sadly, there are also many first hand experiences had by friends as well. I am writing this to share the dangers of Cipro, Levaquin, and all fluoroquinolones. The effects on children and very active people can be especially damaging. The damage may not become apparent for hours, days, weeks, or even many months later.

It has now been about three weeks and I can limp around the house now without crutches briefly. I am going to physical therapy as well. The cost of this trip to the doctor have been very high in numerous ways. Two pills have equalled the inability to drive, garden, run with my children, bend down, and excessive costs for therapy, eye exams, etc. Another side effect of Levaquin is retinal detachment. Thankfully, this is not something that I have. I have no idea why I blindly trusted this doctor. I have no idea why I didn't research the medication online. I have no idea why my doctor prescribed Augmenten after finding out the Levaquin caused me not to be able to walk. I have no idea why she then prescribed BactimDS after I reminded her I was allergic to Augmenten. But I do know why I didn't have any of these subsequent medications filled.

So that is the medical stuff....but there has been a bigger lesson in all of this and it is such a reminder that God can bring good out of all things.... more to follow.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Our January...

Boston... where we received some amazing news (and found out that the hospital bill for a cerebral angiogram is over $42,000! - we are so thankful for insurance and God's amazing provisions). Valerie Grace did wonderfully and we are so thankful that we went up to Boston to have the testing done. We encountered some amazing people along the way.

Miami... where we went for a complete eye check up. They didn't do a lot of testing that we were hoping for, but we did have some amazing empanadas. Valerie engulfed two very quickly. 

Our honeybee hive boxes are finished and they make me happy.

The girls (and my parents) painted around 100 Valentine cards for a local cancer center.

We saw Nik Wallenda walk on a high wire without a net or harness. 

We had an over abundance of eggs from our hens. 

Ecuadorian Cilantro

And colorful carrots....

And then, I was bedridden...more on that later. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Flying to Boston

Tomorrow morning, Valerie and I will be flying to Boston for her to have an angiogram. Prayer requests are on Valerie's website. We had a fun day today at the beach and Natalie Joy planned a party for Valerie and I tonight. She asked last night if she could bake a cake and then tonight, she surprised us with our cake and chocolate covered strawberries that she made completely by herself. She also planned some dancing, magic tricks, and circus acts. We had a lot of fun. She also hid a special gift in our suitcase and gave Valerie some spending money for her trip. Please be praying for Craig and the other girls as we are away and for Valerie and I while we are in Boston. We will be there until Friday.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Miracle Fruit

This is one of Craig's favorite plants. The tree/bush had tons and tons of blooms, but we thought we weren't going to get any fruit. To our surprise, on Christmas day, he discovered some fruits. 

Miracle fruit is more of a novelty than a delicious fruit. After eating the tiny bit of pulp around the seed, anything sour that you eat suddenly tastes sweet. A lemon tastes like sweet lemon without a hint of sour.