Monday, May 31, 2010

Thank You, Veterans!

Madi wore her "My Auntie Wears Combat Boots" shirt in honor of our Veterans today!

... along with her new tutu from her cousin Seven (and Auntie Haley =)

We played a lot as a family.

Madelyn loves to be chased, thrown in the air, barked at, and just about any other loud, crazy thing you can think of.

And she's definitely, definitely, a Daddy's girl!

She also got her first skinned knee tonight on our walk home from the Pynchs' house.

She didn't really cry, just whimpered for a minute and then kept going.

But I thought it was a good excuse to use our new Strawberry Shortcake bandaids. =)

Thank you Veterans for your sacrifices! We not only enjoyed the day off, but we ALWAYS enjoy our freedom!

P.S. We'd like to give a shout-out to our favorite veterans: Specialist Jessica (soon to be Sargent) and PFC Jordan. We love you guys!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Good Book...

Madelyn turned one last week and sometimes we wonder if she thinks she turned 12...

Her little independent personality is REALLY coming out lately and she all the sudden seems SO grown up!

I'm still nursing her at night and she's even started acting like she's too big for that sometimes...

Tonight she wanted to read Daddy's magazine that was on the bed, so I got a bunch of her board books so that we could do some REAL reading (which we do often)!

She didn't even mind that I was taking pictures. In fact she did a very grown up thing and pretty much just ignored me.

Yup, it has begun...

When she's busy folks, she's busy!

How dare I try and interrupt this girl for a smooch or two, let alone a smile for the camera!

We enjoyed or bedtime stories... well, what Madelyn let me share with her, that is!

I don't know where she gets all of this personality from, but we sure are enjoying it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

More Prayers

I haven't been very motivated to update our blog this weekend. It turned out to be a fairly busy weekend, which added to the distractions list...

We did hear back from Matt's surgeon late Friday night, Dr. Porter, who I absolutely love so far. He is British and his accident is just too much! He's very personable and I just really like him. Anyway, he called around 6:00 on Friday night and Matt had just run to school to grab some things so I talked with him. Unfortunately, I was distracted because Madi started fussing the instant he called and I was trying to juggle her so that she wouldn't make too much noise and take notes/listen to what he had to say. This is what I caught:

- The CAT Scan showed that the tumor originates somewhere on the spine (I did not catch where - which is annoying, but it is what it is)
- The vascular surgeon and neurosurgeon will be there for surgery
- We need to come up a few days early again to have an MRI done so that they can see the spine better to decide if they will have to do 2 surgeries to remove it completely (one from the front and one from the back).
- We will meet both the vascular surgeon Dr. Raker, and the neurosurgeon, Dr. Nussbaum when we come up early.

There are other small details he mentioned, but this was the majority of the information. I did ask Dr. Porter if they have to do two surgeries how close together they would be and he said that he would leave that decision up to Dr. Nussbaum (the neurosurgeon), because he would take over from there. We are supposed to call today to schedule with Dr. Porter's secretary. We'll keep you posted! Thanks for your continued prayers! As this seems to get more and more complicated I am beginning to worry more about the insurance coverage, etc. I am going to talk to Dr. Porter's office today and make sure they have the paperwork from Dr. Pierce's office saying that we were referred their by Dr. Nichols (for insurance purposes).

On a brighter note, we received the EOB from our insurance regarding Matt's biopsy, and ER visits and everything was covered 100% - TOTAL PRAISE!!! (It was well over $3,000 for just Salem Hospital's bill)

Thank you again for your prayers! We have definitely felt them and we are trusting God for a continued peace!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Mini-Road Trip

Well, Matt had an appointment with the surgeon yesterday in Seattle. It definitely didn't go as we had planned, but what's new?!?! =) We thought we would just drive up for the appointment and then come right home (it was at 1:45). We left around 8:30 so that we would have plenty of time to find our destination, get parking, stop to go to the bathroom, get coffee, etc.

We got to the hospital about a half hour early, so we took a little walk around town. Virginia Mason is located in the "Capital Hill" area of downtown Seattle and it is a very beautiful area, especially on a clear day! We walked a few blocks and found a little park, the nearest Starbucks, Seattle Public Library, and signs for the Seattle Aquarium! I tried not to get too excited because I know that Matt will see little to nothing outside of white walls. =) But, I was excited that there will be places to take Madi on walks.

Here's a couple pictures from the park we walked to.

This is the kind of things you find in parks in the middle of big cities... ?!?!

Anyway, the appointment went well. We really like Dr. Porter and feel like he has a lot of experience and is very confident. He seemed very thorough and started off by getting the story from the beginning of Matt's "onset". After about an hour, Dr. Porter had uploaded the CAT scan disc and taken a look at it along with one of his radiologists. Unfortunately, it's not a very good scan and it didn't give him all the information he needs. He asked if we had any plans over the next few days and then proceeded to tell us that he wanted us to stay and have Matt get a CAT Scan at VM so that he could ensure it was going to be a good scan that would give him the information he needs.

A couple things he needs to know more information on are:

- Is the tumor interrupting the vena cava or just moving it? If it is, he will need a Vascular surgeon on hand to put a stint in this major artery.

- Is the tube that goes from Matt's right kidney to his bladder going to have be taken out? (I don't remember what it's called) because that is where a lot of the tumor is located... If so, does the kidney have to come out too or just be moved to a new spot (weird, I know)...

These were the main "fuzzy" areas based on the CAT Scan that Dr. Porter looked at. He did say that because the tumor comes out by the spinal cord he will have a neursurgeon do the surgery with him as well.

Unfortunately we did not leave the appointment knowing when surgery will be, which was our biggest disappointment, but we do feel confident that Dr. Porter is getting all the information he needs so that he will be as prepared as possible before surgery.

Dr. Porter said that surgery will be an all-day event and because he will need other surgeons he could not schedule a surgery time until he has coordinated with them. He also said that if Matt doesn't lose any major organs he should be in the hospital for about 7 days before he is released. Dr. Porter recommends that we stay in Seattle for at least a couple days before we drive home, once released.

Our appointment turned into a three hour appointment. Matt went straight over to have blood drawn and a chest x-ray and then we scheduled a CAT Scan for first thing Wednesday morning. Thankfully we have wonderful family in Seattle (Well, Renton) who graciously let us stay at their house with just a moments notice. My mom brought Madi up late Tuesday night and stayed over too because she was planning on attending some sort of graduation ceremony of my sister's at Fort Lewis the next day. It really all worked out, well, just not like we had imagined!
We are waiting once again... this time Dr. Porter is going to read the new CAT scan and then give us a call regarding our next appointment date and surgery! He would like to schedule it within the next 6 weeks, but does not think it will be more than 3 weeks out.

Thanks for all of your continued prayers! We love you all so much!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Madi's New Sandbox...

Happy Birthday Madi! ~ Love, Grandma & Grandpa

She loves it!

It didn't take her long to learn how a shovel stop, the garden!

Just checking everything out...

Birdseye view...

~Blogged by Matt... =)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Well, it's official! Our baby girl turned 1 today! One year old... I can hardly believe it! It's been a wonderful year and we did our best job celebrating this weekend! Madelyn shares her birthday with her big cousin, Michael, who turned three! So, we decided to have a joint birthday party with family at the Carousel in downtown Salem.

Madelyn wore her new yellow tutu and she played the princess role quite well!

This was the face that we got pretty much the WHOLE night as she tottled around and showed off her walking skills!

Mommy and Daddy took Madelyn on her first carousel ride and she LOVED it! She held this face the WHOLE time! =)

Grandma Missy, Auntie Whitney, and cousin Riley took Madi a second time and she got to ride the "birthday" horse!

Here's Seven, Nana, Birthday boy Michael and Uncle Josh riding the carousel!

Madelyn was quite spoiled and this is a picture of just one of her ride-on toys that she received from her Uncle Kyle and Auntie Katie!

Mommy and Daddy gave Madelyn a new baby doll, which she absolutely LOVES!

She also got a new stroller (that matches hers =) to push her baby with!

And as you can imagine, we ended the night properly with a nice plate full of cake and ice cream!

We were absolutely SHOCKED when she ate every last bite of it! ;)

Happy Birthday Baby Girl! We love you SOOOOOOOOOOO much!!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Stauffer-Will Farm

May 14th, 2010 was the PERFECT day for a field trip... especially a field trip to a farm! This is the fourth spring I have taken my group of fourth graders to the Stauffer-Will Farm in Aurora. It is one of my FAVORITE field trips and this year definitely registered in as one of the best! The kids were great, and the sun was shining, what more can you ask for? Oh yeah, and the restrooms weren't out of order - that always helps too! =)

This is NOT a very good class photo, but unfortunately none of them turned out very well. =( Oh well, almost everyone is in it (We're missing Mrs. Sheppard) but we have Mrs. Moody! =)

This is just ONE of the stations the kids get to rotate through! Each student cuts their own piece of wood to make a candle holder!

This group is about to enter the chicken coop and make some candles!

I just liked this shot...

And this is the front of the old Stauffer-Will home! I just LOVE it. I'm pretty sure if I had the opportunity I would flash back and live in the 1800's. When I was in fourth grade, I could not read enough books about the "olden days"... Little House on the Praire, Amish books, you name it! I think that's why I love this field trip so much! The only thing that would really top it off is if our whole class dressed up in trousers, old dresses, aprons, hats and bonnets... maybe someday... until then, I'll just close my eyes and dream! May 14th, you were a fun day!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On a Mission...

Well, we met with the oncologist today. Dr. Pierce was great! After filling out piles and piles of paperwork we spent about 10 minutes with him while he explained to us that Matt would need a surgeon and a good one at that! He ordered his nurse to call Dr. Craig Nichols (Lance Armstrong's doctor) and he spoke with Craig for a few minutes before asking us if we preferred to travel to Seattle for the surgery or Southern California. I said Seattle and Matt said Southern California... I won. I reminded Matt that this wasn't a "vacation" and he agreed. Seattle is much more practical (and affordable) and that is important!

Dr. Nichols suggested the two best "urological oncologists" in the nation and said that he would take care of making sure that Matt had a specific referral to one of these two men so that Providence will pay the medical bills. Dr. Nichols is the head of all Providence and he can refer patients outside of Providence if he does not think the job can be done by someone within the network.

We are confident that Matt will be in good hands. Dr. Porter will be performing Matt's surgery at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. Dr. Pierce thought that the surgery would be scheduled in the next few weeks. If we don't hear anything from Dr. Porter's office by Friday, we will follow up!

Thankfully we have family in Seattle so we're hoping that my mom can come up with us so that we can bring Madi along as well. We really don't want to be gone from her for that long and quite frankly we have NO idea how long the whole ordeal will last. Hopefully these questions can be answered at our pre-op appointment with Dr. Porter. Matt mentioned that he thought we would be coming home the day after surgery and I informed him that I would be surprised if he is eating solid foods four days after the surgery, let alone being released and sent home! =) Again, we really don't know much, but here's a picture of the hospital!

Dr. Pierce confirmed that this is a VERY rare "disease". He said that he sees one of these cases every few years, if even that. He sounded very confident that it can be taken care of, but did mention that there is no way to confirm the tumor is completely benign until it is removed and studied. He also said that the tumor will have to be sent away to biologists to be studied because they don't have a lot of information on them. The main concern is getting ALL of the tumor out at once. Dr. Pierce mentioned that surgeries are sort of "one shot" situations and this is why he wanted to find a very experienced surgeon who is used to working around major organs, etc. (Matt's CAT Scan mentions that the tumor is displacing his artery and extending into the pelvic region, etc... it's pretty much EVERYWHERE.)

Some major prayer requests:

- the tumor is completely benign
- the tumor can be completely removed in ONE surgery
- Providence will pay the medical bills without difficulty
- quick and easy recovery

We have both learned SO much through this experience and we are thankful for life's lessons. Matt and I had a conversation today about how this really isn't our life and we certainly don't deserve problem free/pain free lives. We are ever so thankful for our health and the many other blessings that we have been given. Oh how we pray that we never take them for granted nor forget to give praise to the one who gives us everything! We will take this trial head on, but only because we are confident that our Heavenly Father is the real one dictating it all! Oh what this life would be like without hope...

Thank you for all of your prayers! We have TRULY felt them over the last few weeks. I would like to leave you with one more thing. On Friday when we were at the hospital (just the two of us) waiting for Matt to be taken in for his biopsy, we were overwhelmed with fear... I had grabbed a small devotional that we have been reading with our small group on the way out the door and this was the day's reading:

If you learn to trust me - really trust me - with your whole being, then nothing can separate you from My Peace. Everything you endure can be put to good use by allowing it to train you in trusting Me. This is how you foil the works of evil, growing in grace through the very adversity that was meant to harm you. Joseph was a prime example of this divine reversal, declaring to his brothers: "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good."

Do not fear what this day, or any day, may bring your way. Concentrate on trusting Me and on doing what needs to be done. Relax in My sovereignty, remembering that I go before you, as well as with you, into each day. Fear no evil, for I can bring good out of every situation you will ever encounter.

John 16:33 - These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

Amen, right?

Thank you for your prayers! God is GOOD!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Our Little Gardener...

Seriously, right?!?!

She's too much, I know!

Mommy planted her garden (well, part of it) on Saturday and she had a little helper!

She was VERY helpful...

*cough, cough*

Okay, she was really helpful in making ADORABLE pictures...

Because believe me, Daddy certainly wouldn't have been taking pictures of just me planting my garden.

I don't blame him though...

The last garden I planted I was forty pounds heavier and wearing a giant sweatshirt & yoga pants...

Our family has come a long way!

And I LOVE it! =)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Our Favorite Guy...

We've had a long 24 hours... Matt's been having some abdominal pain that started on Wednesday morning. He went to the doctor on Wednesday thinking maybe it was a hernia and after many tests were run... they found NOTHING. Don't you just love results like that?

Thursday came around and he woke up feeling okay and headed off to work again. He called me around 10:00 and said the pain was worse and when he called the doctor they told him to go to the ER if his pain was getting worse. So... he came home and headed to the ER and I took Madi to Mom and met him over there. After sitting in the ER for three and a half hours, we finally had some "results"... Matt had a very large "mass" behind his abdomen. The ER doctor definitely wasn't nice, but he did his job and for that we are VERY thankful. When he came in to give us the CT scan results he had already scheduled an appointment for Matt to have an immediate biopsy at Salem Hosptial. We headed straight into Salem (around 2:30) and Salem Hosptial did an awesome job of getting Matt prepped and ready for the biopsy. The procedure lasted a little over an hour and then we hung around for another two hours before Matt was released. They gave him LOTS of "good stuff", so he was a little "rummy", but very relaxed, which was the important part! =)

Praise the Lord we had an awesome physician, Dr. Hirasaki, who performed the biopsy. He also knew that we were not going to be able to have the results until Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest. However, we received an unexpected phone call around 10:00 today and Dr. Hiraskai had gone into work on his day off just to check Matt's results. He called on his cell phone to let Matt know that the tumor is NON cancerous and is known as Ganglineuroma. It will have to be treated (removed), but from what we can tell is not life-threatening! Praise the Lord! We're hoping to meet with Matt's primary care physician on Monday and receive a referral for a tumor-specialist. We have no idea what the time frame looks like, but hopefully it will all happen quickly as Matt is very uncomfortable, especially when he's up and moving!

We are SO thankful for our wonderful friends and family who have been praying non-stop! Our prayers have been answered! God is good!

I love you babe!

... and Daddy! =)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Playing Cinderella...

It's nights like these that I remember why Madi has the best Daddy EVER...

I'll try not to get too sappy on you, but hopefully by now the music I added is playing.

I was going through Madi's closet and putting laundry away while these two played on the floor.

Madelyn has this way with her Daddy (not surprising) and as you can see she can get him to do just about anything...

including wear pink hats for pictures.

She doesn't have the largest vocabulary yet, but she certainly gets her point across.

She dressed her Daddy up just the way she wanted him!

I mean, this girl even had the dog into it!

Well, I guess that's if you consider this being "into it"...

Who knew a box of accessories would be this much fun!

I think it was only this much fun because Daddy was playing too!

She'll certainly be our Cinderella forever!!!

Even if she is turning one in a little over a week. *tear*tear*