Friday, December 21, 2012

Back to Normal

At our home it is "back to normal", or at least as normal as it gets around here. :)  School has been happening every day, cooking and cleaning get done and life just keeps speeding right along.  Juan Pablo is doing fantastic.  We had a follow up appointment with the neurosurgeon and he is doing fine.  He will have an MRI in February to check and make sure everything is as expected.  He is still taking his anti-seizure medication (which he hates) and can't participate in "contact sports" or jump on the trampoline, but otherwise things are normal.
Some of these pictures are earlier in the fall and some are later. 
Our grandson Aidan celebrated his first birthday.  He wasn't too sure about the cake, but he did eat some of it.  He is such a happy little boy and so much fun.  In the spring he will be joined by a little sister.  He will also be getting a cousin.  Our daughter and her husband are expecting a baby boy at the same time.  Lots of baby fun and loving coming our way in April!

Not the best picture, but this is what you do when you have to stay in your room because you were disobedient.  Juan Pablo and Andrew took blankets, stretched them across their room and made a "tent".  Maicol joined them for a campout in their bedroom.  Quite a mess, but lots of good memories made.

In October we made a trip to the college where Dan graduated (and where we met).  The boys had not been there before.   The weather was decent enough for us to get outside and show them some of the places we used to go.  This  is a picture of a lake near the college we spent time at.  These are the cliffs where you  could jump off into the water.  It was too cold for that now, but I was just sure Andrew was going to find a way to get in the water.  Miraculously he stayed dry.  But I did do alot of reminding to stay away from the edge.

Way too close to the edge for me.
They may not always get along, but they love each other.
One of the adventures the last couple of weeks has taken place in our backyard.  Andrew came to me and wanted to know if he could dig a hole in the front yard.  Something he had seen on TV.  I vetoed that idea, but did tell him he could dig in the garden area in the back yard.  I figured it was a good way to get the soil turned and they could have fun.  It started out as a little hole and is now maybe 2 feet deep, 2 -3 feet wide and 6 feet long.  Kind of coffin shaped. :)  They (and several other kids in the neighborhood) have built a top for it with scrap lumber and play out there.  I have had quite a bit of mud in my house as a result, but they have had a great time working and playing together.

This is an inside project they worked on one day.  Dan had this set of plastic corrugated pieces that you put together to make big shapes to play in.  After they finished it of course they wanted to sleep in it.  I did let them attempt it, but they were obviously not going to be getting any sleep and so they ended up in their beds. 

This is football in the hallway.  Since Juan Pablo can't play football they figured playing in the hallway and lining the floor with comforters, blankets and pillows would be okay for him.  Lots of fun and no injuries.

This is from our study of earthworms.  Juan Pablo had been pestering me for a long time to study worms.  I finally relented.  We studied about them, did some puzzles and writing about them and then crafts.  The first picture is using partially cooked linguine dipped in paint and then dragging it across paper like a worm to make a picture.
This is eating "worms".  Hot dogs cut into thin strips and then notched along the edges so that they would curl a little when boiled.  Fun and kind of gross at the same time.  Gotta love boys!

Last night we had snow.  Only a couple of inches, but it was enough that they were out the door this morning to play.  We're certainly hoping for much more!

We are looking forward to Christmas in just a few days and all the fun and excitement that brings.  We have been doing some advent reading almost every night and have enjoyed that.  I think the lighting and blowing out of the candle is the most exciting part for them.  Hopefully they are learning a little bit too. :) 

God has blessed us greatly this year and we are so thankful. 

Dan and Karen

Monday, November 5, 2012


In His great mercy, God has given us the answer to our prayers that we had hoped for.  Juan Pablos' surgery was successful, he had a very quick recovery, no complications and no physical or mental deficits.  We were able to bring him home today.  It is hard to imagine that  just four days ago he had the extensive brain surgery that he did and he is now home and essentially the same as he was before the surgery.  He has no deficits - except for probably being a little tired he seems normal.  The swelling in his face is almost gone.  He is eating, playing and conversing  normally.  The incision was quite large - from above his right eye all the way to his left ear. The stitches will remain for at least a couple of weeks and he is sensitive about people seeing him.  Hopefully this will be a good learning experience for him.  He has always been very bad about staring at people who have an obvious physical handicap.  Now, he is on the other side of that situation.  I'm hoping he might gain some insight into how other people feel. 

                                                      Here is a picture of him from today. 

Juan Pablo and Andrew with a little friend they found today.  They came in and told me they had something to show me.  First, they asked me to close my eyes.  That usually means there is something alive that they want to surprise (try to scare) me with.  Fortunately, I don't usually scream at bugs so it's usually okay.  Although, I have learned to not let them get too close with the unknown thing.  It was a small praying mantis.  After they had pictures taken they were happy to take it back outside and let it go (quit torturing it). :)
We appreciate all of your prayers on our behalf.  We don't know how it could have gone any better.  We feel very blessed.
Dan and Karen

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Looking to Monday

Juan Pablo is doing great.  His face is a little more swollen, but he is strong and able to walk around with ease.  We were led to believe he could go home today or tomorrow, but the surgeon said he wanted to keep him around 'til Monday.  Thanks for your prayers.

Here are a few pictures. 
 Checking out the IV needle before it is put in.  He didn't even flinch when she put it in. 
Ready to head to the OR.
This is today.  Maicol and Andrew came to visit.  They may be annoyed with each other sometimes, but they miss each other.  His face is pretty swollen, but that should begin to go down in the next day or two.  That's his biggest complaint - the swelling in his face and especially the left eye.  It was swollen shut this morning, but improved throughout the day.  All is pretty quiet in the Peds ICU - except for the one crying baby. :)  Juan Pablo is down for the night and I'm about to be too.  Thanks for your prayers - this has gone much better than we ever imagined.


Friday, November 2, 2012

1st night

The night went about as well as could be expected.  They had to wake him up about every hour to check on him, but he seems to be doing pretty well.  A little swelling of the head and eyes - not a pretty sight.  They just told us if he continues to do as well as he is now he may be able to go home over the weekend!  They had said it would be a week, so he must be doing very well.  Thanks for your prayers!  God is good!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

In his room

Juan Pablo is in his room and resting well when they let him.  He's not in a great mood but I don't suppose I would be either.  He's starting on ice chips and will work his way up to other liquids. All is going well according to everyone we talk to.  Please continue to pray.


Juan Pablo is out of surgery!  It only took 3.5 hrs.  Praise God for His mercies!  He'll be in recovery for a couple of hours and then we'll be able to see him.  Will keep you posted.

Dan and Karen

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Tomorrow is the big day.  We have spent the last month planning, praying and waiting and now it is here.  Juan Pablo is scheduled to have an MRI at 6:15am and then his surgery will follow.  Not sure how long it will take.  They have the OR reserved for 7 hours, so I'm guessing it's not a quick thing. :)We will be leaving a little before 5am for the hospital.  Juan Pablo is not thrilled with the idea, but seems to be doing ok. His biggest concerns are not being able to play outside with his friends and having a scar on his head.  Dan buzzed his hair tonight.  Since they will be shaving part of his head we thought we would try to help it grow out a little more even by starting with it all very short. 

We appreciate your prayers tomorrow.  The plan is for him to be in the hospital for a week.  I will update the blog tomorrow.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall 2007-2012


I took the "annual" fall picture in the front yard last week.  You would think that it would get easier to get a decent picture of the three of them as they get older, but it isn't!  I must have tried 10 times the first round and probably that many times the second round.  Maybe someday they'll cooperate.
I thought I had pictures taken each fall, but couldn't find a couple of years so I had to substitute a little.  While we know they are always growing and changing, it is amazing to look back and see just how much they have grown.  It's hard to remember just how little they were.





Monday, October 1, 2012


Juan Pablo came home Sunday as expected.  This part of the process could not have gone any better.  He seems to be his usual self - although he did sleep 12 hours last night.  Being in the hospital makes you tired. :)  We are back to our regular routine.  School was done with the usual whining, meals were cooked and eaten, baseball was played in the backyard until dark and teeth were brushed before bed.  Ahhhh, I love "normal". 

Now we begin planning and praying for the final step - surgery on Nov. 1.


Saturday, September 29, 2012


Everything is going exceptionally well.  Juan Pablo got some sleep last night.  I think I slept a little between 4 and 7 am. :(  With the hourly vital and neuro checks, monitors beeping, sirens and the Lifeline helicopter coming and going it wasn't easy.  He feels good, is eating good and is just his normal self.  No pain at all.  He just wants to go home.  Maicol and Andrew are here for a visit.  I'm going to go home with them and Dan is going to stay tonight.  If his blood pressure stays where they want it to he should be able to go home tomorrow.

Thank you for your prayers.  They have certainly been answered.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Juan Pablo Update

Juan Pablo had his embolization this morning.  He had a hard time waking up from the anesthesia, but is doing good now - eating ice chips and watching TV.  He should be able to sit up in a couple of hours and then can have some real food.  He is hoping for Taco Bell, but I think we'll start with something a little milder. :)  Thankfully they were able to do what they needed to in this one procedure, so he will not need another one.  We spoke with the neurosurgeon this morning and have scheduled his surgery for November 1.  So for now we are just hanging out at the hospital for a couple of days and watching his blood pressure to make sure it stays low.

Thanks for your prayers. 

Dan and Karen

Monday, September 24, 2012

Juan Pablo

On June 26 Juan Pablo had a seizure.  After a trip to the ER and some tests we discovered he has an arteriovenous malformation (AVM).  This is something he was born with and we would not know about it until he had symptoms - such as a seizure.  An AVM is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins.  These can occur anywhere in the body, and Juan Pablo's is in his brain.  There are two options - either treat it (if possible) or wait for it to rupture and bleed.  Fortunately, in his case it is something that can be treated.  After lots of doctor appointments and tests we are now preparing to begin treating his AVM.  This Friday he will be going to the hospital to have the first of probably two preliminary procedures.  They will be doing an embolization.  Basically putting him to sleep, inserting a very thin catheter into an artery in his groin, "snake" it up to his brain and then very carefully guiding it into the AVM.  Once they have the catheter where they want it they will begin to put glue into the veins and arteries involved to cut off the blood supply to the AVM.  Assuming all goes well it will take a couple of hours and he will stay in the hospital for two days.  He will probably have to go back in about two weeks and have it done again.  After that we will schedule his main surgery.  They will actually go into his brain and remove the AVM.  This will be a big surgery and involve a week long stay in the hospital. 

While this is certainly not something we would have wished for there are some blessings in it.  An AVM is a very scary and dangerous thing to have.  Many of them bleed, but his has not.  We are thankful.  Many of them are too large or in an area that cannot be treated.  His is a medium size and in an area of the brain that is easily accessible.  So, while the surgery is not simple, the percentages that he will be cured are good.  We are thankful for that.  He has had two seizures, but nothing else.   We are thankful for that.  This has not been an inexpensive thing.  We do have health insurance and have almost met our maximum $10,000.00 out-of-pocket amount.  After this his treatment will be covered 100%.  $10,000 is a large sum, but with savings, our Health Savings Account and what we saved from the adoption tax credit we received last year it will be paid for.  We had planned to add onto our house, but Dan felt like we should save part of the tax credit - "just in case" and wait to build.  So we have not had to go into debt to pay the bills.  We are thankful.  Our "big" kids live close and will be able to help care for Maicol and Andrew while we are with Juan Pablo in the hospital.  We are thankful.

We ask for and covet your prayers on our behalf.  I will update the blog on Friday after his procedure. 


Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Wow, where did the summer go?  Swimming, walking, schooling, lots of backyard baseball and the beginning of bathroom remodeling.  It's fall and we're still doing much of the same. :)  Here are some recent pictures about what is going on at our house.
Andrew came in with a very cooperative (not very healthy) butterfly one day.  He had it on his finger and all over his face.  Creepy, but also kind of neat.
For school we made goop or whatever you want to call it.  The most popular version was a yellow-green color that we called fake snot.  Gotta love having boys. :)
No post is complete now without an adorable grandson picture.  Aidan is 11 months old and such a sweetheart.  We think he's pretty special and smart just like his parents (and grandparents).
On September 10 we celebrated the 5 year anniversary of officially becoming a family of 7.  We met each other on August 27, 2007 and it became official on the 10th of September.  Since we were gone for that day we bought an ice cream cake to celebrate.
We are currently enjoying our fall vacation to Laguna Beach, FL.  The weather so far has been wonderful and the boys have done really well.  The drive down went very well.  iPods and The Little Rascals on DVD were a great help.  We also "celebrated" our 30th wedding anniversary yesterday by taking them with us for a steak dinner.  Not terribly romantic, but the food was good and there were no food fights. :)  We call that a successful dinner out! 
When we went to the ocean yesterday the waves were very calm and it was a great day to see what was in the ocean.  Maicol and Juan Pablo are checking things out.

This is what we saw.  There were up to three of them in a group swimming around us.  We also saw them jumping out of the water and doing flips.  Very cool!

 Here are Dan and the boys.  Somehow they seem to be getting taller and more grown up every year. But then, I guess that's what they're  supposed to do.  We still have days that are difficult, but for the most part things move along smoothly.  We do school year round, so they are having school even on vacation.  I did try to include more interesting and fun things so it wasn't met with quite as much resistence. 
Juan Pablo will be going to see the interventional neuroradiologist on Sept. 21.  He will be doing the embolizations on his AVM and when that is done we will go back and see the vascular neurosurgeon to plan his actual surgery.  I would guess that the surgery won't happen until toward the end of October, but we won't know when until the preliminary procedures are done.  Please continue to keep us in your prayers.  We'll update the blog when we know more.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Spring/Summer 2012

Long time, no blogging.  Guess it's time to catch up.  So, here is the last 3 months or so in pictures.

We have been trying to get out regularly and walk.  Some for fun and some because we're old and need to get out and get some exercise!  There are a couple of parks that we really like to visit.  One has a nice, paved trail and the other is a wooded area where there are lots of bugs, birds, turtles, sticks etc. to pick up and look at.  Dan has had the boys keep a notebook that lists all of the things they have seen there. 

There's nothing quite as cool as the Weinermobile when you're 7.  Andrew and I went to see it.  Pretty cool, but you couldn't get inside and see what was going on in there.  Andrew was pretty disappointed.  But, he did have a good time looking at the outside.
We made a trip to Grandma's.  While we were there we got to check out the baby barn swallows.  Not very cute yet, but I'm sure by now they are.  It was lots of fun to check out the nests in the barn and see which ones had babies.
We also went to a park while we were there.  This is Andrew climbing a tree to try and see what might be inside the hole in the tree.  As far as I know he didn't find anything.  He sure is a climber tho.  He has also discovered he loves to do cartwheels.  He does them all the time.  Everywhere.  While we're walking, playing baseball, doing chores, walking in the parking lot.  Everywhere.

Dan took the boys for their first canoe ride.  We have an old canoe that still holds water and have been saying for a long time that we would take them canoeing.  They were so excited they could hardly stand it. :)  He took them for a 15 minute ride down to our neighborhood swimming pool and then after a little swimming they paddled back. 
Maicol played little league baseball this year.  He had only played in the backyard with the neighborhood kids.  He ended up being one of their main catchers.  He also got to pitch and play 2nd or 3rd a little.  We really enjoyed watching him and he had a wonderful time.  He is signed up to play ball in the fall too.  For someone who had not played organized baseball before he did really well.

Checking things out from the dugout.

We made a trip to see Dan's dad and spent the night at a state park.  Not sure why they're saluting.  Just silly I guess.  We were out walking and found wild raspberries to eat.  Yum.

Andrew "not" getting in the lake. :)

Maicol celebrated his 13th birthday.  He had a baseball cake and a family dinner.  We still need to take him to a Reds game for his birthday gift.

We also finally did something to celebrate Andrew's birthday.  (It was in March)  We went to a place that had bumper cars, laser tag, rides, and this neat thing that let you shoot small, relatively soft balls at your brothers.  Lots of fun for everyone.

I love this picture.  Maicol may be 13, but he will still grab his brothers hand and walk.  In fact, he still sometimes reaches for my hand and we walk together.

Juan Pablo.  About 3 weeks ago he had a seizure.  Something new for him.  We spent several hours in our local ER and then transferred to another hospital.  He has an arteriovenous malformation in his brain.  Fortunately, it has not bled and is not causing him any problems yet.  We are still waiting to have one test done.   After that, a group of neurosurgeons, vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists will meet and they will let us know what the plan of action is.  There will be at a minimum some type of minimally invasive procedure done and at a maximum actual brain surgery.  We covet your prayers as we wait to see what will need to be done.

We have also been doing lots of swimming.  The boys play baseball in the backyard everyday.  Even if there are no neighbor kids to play with the three of them play. 


Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Winter that Wasn't

In Indiana we didn't have winter, so no sledding, building snowmen or beautiful snow pictures. :( While I know that most everyone is happy about the lack of winter, the boys and I missed it. They kept asking me when it would snow and I assured them it would. :) How was I supposed to know this would be a no-snow winter? Dan even bought a new sled and we didn't get to use it. So, the winter toys have been put away and we are on to spring. But, we did have Christmas. Here are a couple pictures.
Everyone got a new hat for Christmas. Unfortunately, they didn't really need them this year.
One of the fun things they received for Christmas was boxing gloves and headgear. Jonathan got this for them. What a great idea! They have boxed each other without getting hurt. There was even a boxing demonstration in the living room in their underwear one night!
Bethany got them this big, heavy box. They were so excited to open it. They were expecting some great gift, but it was a little bit of a trick. Inside was a 24 pack of orange soda. The other part of the gift was a trip to an indoor amusement center.
For school we studied about California. The state flower is the poppy, so we made poppies out of pipe cleaners and crete paper. Don't they look cute?
Maicol and Juan Pablo.
February brought a visit from my brother and his family. My Mom came and stayed with us too. Since it was so nice out we went to a local park and hiked. This is the boys with their cousin. It only took about 4 takes to get a picture of all of them together, looking the same way, holding still, etc.
Grandma and Maicol playing basketball.
March took us to Grandma's for a visit. It was 80 and warm enough to play in the water. She has a little pond that isn't more than 18 inches deep and they had a great time playing there. Of course they were just going to walk out on the log and a little and not get wet. We all know that eventually they would all be in the water. :)

Our dogwood tree is beautiful this year.
The new favorite activity this spring has been fishing. Maicol is the leader, but the other two like to go too. They have been mainly catching bluegills about 5-8 inches long. After many days of trying Maicol finally caught a big carp.
Andrew's 7th birthday was in March. Here he is opening his gifts. Notice the fancy wrapping paper. :) Hard to believe he is 7.
"The boys"
Life continues to just fly along here. Everyone keeps getting older. Maicol keeps reminding me that in just over 2 years he will be 15 and able to get a driving permit. Yikes!! School is going reasonably well. They much prefer to play outside, watch a movie, play the computer, etc. You get the idea. :) I'm always trying to design ways to add those types of things into school, but there are things you just have to do even when you don't want to. They all still have their strengths and weaknesses and we keep working on those things. Maicol is playing (for the first time) baseball. His first game will be Saturday, so the next post will no doubt have pictures of that. He is very, very excited. With the good weather we have already started having hotdogs and marshmallows outside. We may go throught a record number of hotdogs and marshmallows this year.
Thanks for reading...