Thursday, December 30, 2010

What a difference a day makes

I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas Texas anymore!


(if you squint just right, you can see the house across the street)

We spent the holidays in Amarillo this year and had a wonderful time. Santa was good to everyone and we spent lots of time with family. The weather was gorgeous when measured on the Fargo scale-40s and 50s mostly. It’s always a bittersweet trip for me though because I still truly deeply miss Texas. In my heart it’s still home. Our air travel experience was about what you would expect during the holidays-crowded planes and airports and delayed flights. I shouldn’t complain though since we saw firsthand the results of the northeastern US snowstorms. There were a hundred or more passengers gathered around gates, hoping to land a standby seat that would take them home before Christmas.

As inconvenient as our blizzard today is, at least we are now all safe and snuggled in a warm house. We needed groceries and we will have to be “creative” with meals for the next few days. Max absolutely refuses to go outside and eventually that could get messy. All interstates in the region are closed…but the heat is still on, the satellite and internet are still working and a little togetherness never hurt anyone, right? Besides, it gives me a chance to sit down and watch the Vikings-Eagles game. We were flying while it was being played so I recorded it. Figures, the one game we play well, I miss!

Our weather isn’t supposed to improve until Saturday afternoon so we will be holed up here. I hope everyone is able to ring in the New Year surrounded by loved ones, looking forward to what 2011 will bring. I will say a prayer for all of you on that night. As you say your prayers I ask you to remember my very best friend Tina who is on bed rest and waits impatiently to deliver her baby girl.

Love you all

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas cookies


Braxton made Christmas cookies this afternoon.  Usually I would say “Braxton and I made cookies” but this afternoon Braxton did everything by himself.  Ok, maybe not everything because he sure didn’t clean up after himself!



In order to make things a little easier I bought this frosting at the grocery store.  Have you tried this?  Braxton correctly described it as frosting in an easy cheese can.  They even sell additional tips.   The shade of green was not what I would call a Christmas color but it was easy.








This is pretty much what he does with a can of easy cheese too so I wasn’t too surprised.



I am still cleaning up the kitchen but the cookies are delicious!

Friday, December 10, 2010

To Braxton

 my smart, surprising, silly, special, strong, superlative, self confident, sociable, stubborn, spirited, smiling son




the world is a better place with you in it!


Happy Birthday!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just wondering (and complaining)


sticky 1.


sticky 2.


sticky 3.

Ok, I feel better now that I got that off my chest.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Just another day in paradise

This is what I woke up to today.  Big beautiful fluffy soft white snowflakes.  This is our first real snow of the season which is very unusual for Fargo.  It was so peaceful and picturesque this morning when I took Max out for his morning “business”.




It was beautiful at 6:30am…decidedly less so now.  It is 2:00pm and we have received 11.5 inches of snow…AND IT’S STILL SNOWING.  It is coming down at the rate of 1 inch per hour and if it doesn’t stop soon I will never be able to open my front door again!


In a twist of fate so typical of my life, Steve is out of town.  Something always happens when he goes out of town…ALWAYS.  Last time he left Braxton got a horrible case of strep throat.  You can almost guarantee that one of the boys gets sick or something happens with the house or a vehicle when Steve leaves.  As we speak the van is stuck in a huge drift in the driveway, the plows have yet to come by, you can’t tell where the yard ends and the street begins, I don’t know how to use our snowblower and even if I did it doesn’t have any gas.  On a positive note, Steve is due home late tonight and Braxton just agreed to shovel the sidewalk and front porch in exchange for candy…sounded like a good deal to me!


We don’t have any plans for Thanksgiving thank goodness.  It should be a quiet day here.  The weather is supposed to turn nasty Wednesday night so I am glad we aren’t trying to leave town. 




I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  It’s easy to get down (I know that for sure) but we all have to remember how blessed we are individually as children of God, as families and as a country.  Let us never take that for granted.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What money can’t buy

Removal of current shunt…                                     $8,220



CT scan…                                                                   $1,097



Private room at Mayo Clinic…                                $1,530



New (and improved) shunt…                                  $9,658



Complete surgical success, an end to months of mind numbing pain, being blessed with many great friends and teachers who prayed and saw their prayers answered and a miraculous healing and new life given by an awesome and loving God…




 (this is a recent/post surgery picture!  the long shaggy hair that drives me crazy actually covers all of his scars.  they only shaved a small section and you can’t tell at all—he was sooo happy about that)


Many, many thanks to everyone who lifted up Cayden and our family in prayers.  It was such a comfort.  Cayden was once again given the chance to witness the power of prayer and that may be one of the best and most lasting lessons of all.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Update on Cayden


cayden at mayo 

I took this with my cell phone…sorry, not the best photo :(


We had hoped that only part of Cayden’s shunt would need to be replaced but unfortunately that was not the case.  Maybe I shouldn’t say UNfortunately because they replaced the entire shunt with a newer, completely different model.  They were also able to determine for sure that Cayden’s headaches were caused by his shunt and not the hydrocephalus that required the shunt.  Spinal fluid collects in the brain in ventricles.  Picture the ventricles as cups…Normally those cups stay completely full but don’t overflow.  In people with hydrocephalus the cups overflow constantly.  In people with shunts (that are working as they should) the cups should look just like a normal person’s.  Cayden’s old shunt was actually draining too much fluid…essentially emptying the cup completely and causing the walls of the cup to collapse and rub against each other.  They were able to actually see this in surgery.  Cayden’s new shunt should keep this from happening  because it has a valve to control the amount of drainage.  His body is having to relearn what “normal” spinal fluid pressure feels like.  Cayden can feel the fluid draining now in places he isn’t used to and it feels “wrong” to him.  Right now Cayden can feel a big difference in pressure when he is standing vs. sitting vs. lying down.  Eventually things will even out.

The doctors at Mayo called Cayden a “champion healer” and an “over achiever”.  He was walking short distances just 4 hours after surgery and eating and drinking soon after.  He was (and IS) in a lot of pain and ran a fever the whole time in the hospital but the doctors felt he would be more comfortable at home so they dismissed him from the hospital just 36 hours after surgery-days before we figured they would.  Rochester, MN is about 5 1/2 hours from Fargo and I am sure it was a long ride home for Cayden. 

Since getting home Cayden’s fever finally broke (Thank God!), his stamina is increasing a little each day and his pain has become a little more manageable.  He has 4 incisions and those areas hurt of course.  His shunt and the area around it are major areas of pain too.  The worst I think is his neck.  The doctors were able to feed most of the new tubing through the same tunnel-except in his neck.  They had to create a new pathway through his neck tissue for the tubing and it is swollen and bruised and probably the source of most of Cayden’s pain complaints now.

Cayden is out of school for at least a week (which hardly seems long enough to me) and out of PE class for 6 weeks but otherwise his activity is basically only limited by what he feels comfortable with.  He is frustrated by the pain and fatigue but he is doing so much better than expected.  He has handled this challenge with more strength, courage and faith than you could imagine.  I am so proud of him.


On a side note…

mayo thru window

This was the view from Cayden’s hospital room.  The room looks out onto part of the Mayo campus.  Our experience at Mayo was 100% positive.  Everyone we came into contact with was friendly and professional.  The nurses went out of their way to not only take care of Cayden, but also me.  I felt completely comfortable there, knowing they were giving excellent care.  I would wholeheartedly recommend Mayo.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hurry up and wait

               mayo clinic3

If any of you ever need to visit the Mayo Clinic (and I pray you don’t), I highly recommend it.  The facility is beautiful and the staff and physicians were so nice, helpful and professional.  It is a first class facility.  It is located in Rochester, MN.  It employs 31,000 people and covers 15 million square feet!!!

We were in Rochester for 3 days of testing and office visits.  Cayden was seen by a pediatric Neurologist and a pediatric Neurosurgeon.  The Neurosurgeon’s name is Dr. Wetjen and he decided that Cayden will need to have surgery.  Surgery is scheduled for 2 weeks from today, Oct. 27th.  Cayden’s shunt is intermittently failing; however, Dr. Wetjen thinks that the cause of the failures is the tubing, not the portion embedded in his skull.  The plan, the hope, is to replace all of the tubing but leave rest.  He may even be able to feed the new tubing through the original canal, alleviating the need to re-tunnel a new canal through the side of his neck, through the chest wall and into the abdomen.  However, a lot is unknown, and won’t be decided until he opens Cayden’s shunt tract.  Cayden’s shunt has lasted much longer than average and because it is 13 years old there is the possibility that the Doctor won’t be able to “meld” a new system with the older one.  In that case, the entire shunt will have to be replaced.  Newer shunts also have a siphon device on the end of the tubing in the abdomen.   Cayden’s does not.  Cayden’s is not draining spinal fluid off his brain and into his abdomen quite as well as it should.  As most of you know, Cayden’s growth rate this past year was phenomenal.  This growth, plus the absence of a siphon to assist drainage, seem to be the cause of the lackluster peformance of his shunt.  Cayden’s shunt is working strictly off of gravity right now so regardless of how much of the shunt needs to be replaced, a siphon will be added.

We feel blessed that we ended up at the Mayo Clinic and blessed with the Doctors caring for Cayden.  Cayden knows that God is in charge, always but he is still anxious of course.  For now, I am trying to keep him busy, keep his mind otherwise occupied, while we hurry up and wait for Oct. 27th.

By the way, for anyone who wondered, this is what the actual shunt looks like.  The ventricular catheter is the end actually fed through a burr hole into the brain.  The shunt valve is just under the scalp, at the top of the burr hole.  It is the only part you can see and feel on Cayden.

                shunt tube

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Maplewood State Park, Minnesota




Friday, October 1, 2010

Proof God Loves Us


Don’t you











Yep, I am quite sure that we need only to  look outside right now to know God loves us.  The weather is gorgeous, the leaves are changing and it is still warm enough and light enough for the boys to spend their evenings outside.   God has a sense of humor though…we have a frost/freeze warning tonight with a forecast low of 35.  However, the weatherman assures us that we still have plenty of sunny, 60 degree afternoons to come (and you know they are always right).

Steve and I took a day trip to a state park in Minnesota recently to photograph the fall foliage.  We had a nice quiet afternoon (the boys were with friends) and I took a ton of pictures.  98% of them were horrid but I think I have a few worth sharing…I will try to put some up here soon.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Have map, will travel

Our family spent Sunday exploring the countryside of North Dakota.  Steve and I have always loved getting in the car and driving with no particular plan or direction.  I am not sure the boys have discovered our love for exploring the roads but they are forced to participate…lol.  Today we drove about 200 miles…little of it on the highway, most of it in the middle of nowhere.  We found towns like Marion, ND (population 146) and Verona,ND (population 108) and dozens of farmhouses that have likely seen many generations. 

It was a great afternoon…we only had one problem…



            the sunflowers in the field were not the cause…



       the soybeans yet to harvest were not the cause…



                     even the corn was not at fault…



                         this was definitely the culprit



Hay bales in the afternoon certainly mean Benadryl, eye drops and breathing treatments for bedtime.


    Looking back, maybe this wasn’t such a great idea…lol


Saturday, September 4, 2010


I have the best Dad.  He knows how much I love flowers.  This week (just for no reason-see, he is the best Dad) he sent me these flowers.


He also sent me a link to an article about how to dry flowers at home.  Most of you know that I can kill any plant (even the ones people give you and say “oh this one is so hardy even you can’t kill it”) but I figure maybe that talent will come in handy for this project. 

Speaking of projects…you know I can’t have flowers and not take pictures.  My kids run in terror when they see the camera but flowers can’t do that.  They sit there patiently while I take 20 shots of each flower from every angle only to decide that none of those shots are any good.  I decided to use this opportunity to take before and after pictures of my flowers.  I thought it would be fun to compare them later.  When the winds turn cold and everything green in North Dakota is buried under a foot of new fallen snow, I will be enjoying my summer flowers…and I will photograph them once again.












Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Heckuva good night

Last night Steve’s IT department had a cookout/potluck at one of the nicest parks in Fargo.  The weather was gorgeous (lately we have had too many days in the 90s with humidity so high that your glasses fog over).  The mosquitoes are still a horrible nuisance but there was enough breeze to slow them down a bit.  The park rents out various types of bikes and surreys and the boys have always wanted to try one.  It seemed like a perfect night (and school had started that day) so I let them try.  They each took a “banana peel” bike and explored the park via bike path.  They had a blast and I just love this picture of them.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fried, mashed, baked or au gratin



We spent a very hot afternoon in Barnesville, MN at Potato Days.  I didn’t realize it but the Barnesville area is touted as one of the best potato producing areas in the country.  The festival dates back to the 1930s and includes potato picking and peeling contests, horse drawn wagon rides, a strong man competition and even a pageant called Little Miss Tator Tot.  It’s definitely small town America!  They serve potatoes in any way you could imagine-potato dumplings, potato soup, potato pancakes and lefse.  Lefse (for all of you non-North Dakotans) is a Norwegian pastry made of potatoes, flour, butter and cream.  It is delicious with butter and sugar.

There was also a mashed potato eating contest for the kids.  Most of them decided to use their hands.



I love this boy’s expression… “what have I done?”  I am not sure if he wanted to give up or throw up.


They also had a mashed potato sculpting contest for kids and adults.  They had 30 minutes to complete their sculptures.  The kids’ table had a lot of snowmen at the end of the 30 minutes but the adults were pretty creative.

IMG_5934   IMG_5936






Pretty amazing what you can do with potatoes!