November 26, 2015

When Daddy Left

On November 14th the kids and I drove Rich to the Naha airport and shipped him off to Alabama for a 5 week TDY. It was a rough goodbye.


I love the picture on the right because you can see Arabella scratching Rich’s head because she knows he loves it.


This moment broke my heart. After saying their goodbyes and getting back in the van, Maya started sobbing. He came back to give her a hug and all the kids jumped out of their seats to hug him one last time.



As soon as we drove away from the airport the car filled with sniffling noses and quiet whimpers. The big kids started crying which in turn made me cry! The only thing I could think of to get them to not feel so sad was to talk about throwing Rich a party when he got home. They loved that idea and they all stopped crying and started throwing out party ideas. So far it seems that we will be having a party at the beach with lots of friends from church(that we don’t really know well yet), with a pirate theme, cake and ice cream and so many other details that I can’t remember. Arabella works on something for the party every single day. So far she’s made a sign for Rich to hold up, lots of decorations and a telescope for every family member, haha!

As soon as we got home we got busy making a chain countdown.



I love that focus!


Last week was parent/teacher conferences. I was a little nervous like I think most parents are. You always wonder how your kids behave in school. It was such a great day! None of the teachers had a single concern. Arabella’s teacher said she is one of the best behaved students in her class and she is really impressed with how much she has progressed with writing, counting and her sight words. I was so proud of them that we went out for donuts and then I let them each pick out a beanie boo at the BX.

Something I’ve been wanting to start for a long time is a weekly family selfie. We started on Sunday, the day after Rich left. 2 Sunday’s down!


It has been 12 days since Rich left and I’m hurting. Week 1 was pretty good. I was focused and determined to make the best of it and the kids and I had a lot of fun. Week 2 was still ok, although I was definitely starting to feel the emptiness. We are still in week 2 but today is especially hard. It’s Thanksgiving. Tomorrow will be better!

Rich is in Marshfield and he is so excited to be able to spend Thanksgiving with his family! I’m so happy for him even though I miss him so much. I’m grateful that he will be home just in time for Christmas!

November 23, 2015


It’s been a good long while since we’ve felt normal. Not only is it hard to settle in to living in a new country with new people, food, home and schedule, but you throw on top of all of that sickness and it certainly makes for the perfect storm. About 1.5 months ago I decided it was time for me to come off of the zoloft(depression meds). Something about the stresses of having a trach baby always makes my hormones go funky and I need that extra help to not be crazy lady. Anyway, we were post trach, and life was about as normal as it was going to get, and I felt great so I went ahead and came completely off after doing a long and slow taper so as to minimize the withdrawal effects. The withdrawal after Arabella was brutal so I was careful to come off nice and slow. One week in, after coming completely off, I started to feel really horrible. Regular headaches, foggy brain, sluggish vision and just a general crappy feeling 24/7 began to plague me. I couldn’t enjoy anything! I even had this freaky rage that would build up inside of me. I tried to console myself by telling myself it would be short-lived but after 2 weeks, 3 weeks, a month(!!!) I really started to feel complete desperation. I was ready to go back on the stupid meds just to make this nightmare go away. I stuck it out just one more week and finally, a week ago today, my symptoms disappeared! I am so happy to feel like myself again.


Now, on to Rich. My poor guy has it rough right now. About a month ago he started having stomach issues. I will not go in to a lot of detail but lets just say that he has spent a lot of time in the bathroom, no longer has the mucus lining in his intestines and is having some bleeding. At first we thought he just had some kind of stomach bug, but after a week of some pretty terrible symptoms he finally went in to see a doctor. They ran some tests but they all came back negative for any type of bacteria. His symptoms have continued and of course, as life would have it, he was due to go back to the states for SOS for 5 weeks. As soon as he got there he went to urgent care and got a great doctor from India who had seen Rich’s symptoms many times in his country so he diagnosed Rich with some amoebas that are doing serious damage to his intestines. He gave him the antibiotic and Rich has been on it for 6 days now. He hasn’t seen too much of a difference yet but we think that is because of all of the damage that has already been done. We are really hopeful that with time, his symptoms will lessen and he will have less discomfort.


Ugh. I know everybody feels this way but lately we feel like we can’t catch a break. We whine and complain to each other and try to encourage each other and the thing that has helped us get through without too much moping has been gratitude. So fitting for the month of November but truly what has helped us not have too much self pity. We remind each other that no matter what, we have each other. We have 4 healthy kids, a safe home, a really incredible life that, no matter where it leads us we are together. It’s another long and crazy story but in the middle of all of the health struggles we were faced with the possibility that we might have to go back to the states. Again, it’s a long story and while the situation hasn’t been cleared up yet, we are sure that it is NOT a possibility. When I first heard this though, I cried like a baby! Rich reminded me that even if they sent us to the tiniest hick town in the states it wouldn’t matter because we would have each other. Yes, we are so blessed. This month I’ve learned to focus on what we have instead of what we don’t have and it’s made me a better person.

November 8, 2015

Eva’s Airway Scare

Late last night Rich and I were watching a movie when we heard a croupy sounding cough. This sound is fairly common around our house whenever one of our “trach kids” is sick. Since none of our kids was sick we thought it was just a random, funny sounding cough. About 30 minutes later we heard it again, so Rich hopped up to see whose room it was coming from and it was Eva. Since being decanulated, this was the first time we’ve heard her have any sort of obstruction in her airway so we freaked out a bit and Rich grabbed her out of bed. She was really wheezing and having a hard time swallowing. She had shown no signs of being sick at all and the onset was an hour and a half after putting her to bed so the only thing we could think that could be happening to her was some sort of allergic reaction to the food we ate at the restaurant that night.


She was really struggling and we weren’t really sure where the ER was and Rich was scared to take her alone, without me in the back making sure she was still breathing so he called 911. Within 5 minutes there were 8 or 9 men in my tiny living room surrounding Eva. Of course, by then she had become much more alert and was able to better control her breathing. For a minute I started to wonder if we had jumped in to calling 911 too quickly but they assured us that we did the right thing. Every second was unpredictable when we got her up. We didn’t want to risk waiting it out and or attempting to make the 15 minute drive, by ourselves, without any way to open her airway if it completely obstructed.


They monitored her while they called their headquarters to ask if they should drive her in to the ER by ambulance or let us take her. They were instructed to take her by ambulance because of her history and the risk so off we went for Eva’s second ambulance ride, the first being her transport to Primary Children’s after birth. Her breathing was stable enough that I felt I had to get a picture, for her life history book(my blog).


When we got to the hospital they gave her an oral steroid called dexamethasone and a breathing treatment of albuterol. She was upset about the breathing treatment and it really exacerbated her already inflamed airway. The only thing that called her down was daddy rubbing her head.


Eva Nebulizer treatment

Eva's Inflamed Airway

It took a good hour and a half for her breathing to normalize and then she was back to her normal self. Here she is showing daddy her mint.


She was clearly ready to go home so off we went with a back-up syringe of dexamethasone in case she needed it again. We are so grateful for our neighbor, Millie, who chilled on our couch until 3am. We are also very grateful that it wasn’t more serious and that she had a very quick recovery from what started out as a really scary moment.

November 6, 2015

Aidan Changes

Aidan’s teacher sent out an e-mail asking for parents to volunteer in the classroom. I was so excited because, for the first time ever, I am finally in a situation where I can do something like this! I worked out a weekly swap with my friend, Emily, and signed right up for Tuesdays from 10-11:30. Tuesday came and I dropped Eva off. This is what was taking place while I was helping out in Aidan’s class.


Emily’s husband is hilarious!

Back to my experience volunteering in Aidan’s class…it was AWESOME! I loved it so much! The kids were so sweet and excited that I was there. I basically just walked around and made sure they were on task while going to various “centers” in the classroom. I would help them on worksheets and in their reading group. It was so fun to see Aidan in a school setting and see how he was doing as far as being a student was concerned. School is something that has always been such a big stressor for us with Aidan. He had some behavioral problems and learning delays that were a big concern for us and for his teachers. Last year, we made the decision to have him repeat 1st grade. We had to fight against his first 1st grade teacher and the district in order to make this happen but we did it because we knew that it was what he needed and the only way he would be able to catch-up and excel. It was THE BEST decision we have ever made in regards to Aidan’s education. For the first time he thrived in school and gained so much confidence and self-esteem that we were never able to give him no matter how hard we tried.

He was supposed to do crazy eyes with me…I was also doing tired with bags under my eyes, eyes. Haha!


Spending that hour and 1/2 in Aidan’s classroom made my heart so happy! My little boy, who we were always so worried about, was not just getting by but he was excelling! He is one of the better readers in his class and is so well behaved and on task. That extra year in 1st grade changed his future. I am so grateful that we fought for him even when faced with adversity from the “professionals”. When it comes to our kids Rich and I are the professionals and I’m so grateful for the confirmation that I received on Tuesday.

November 3, 2015

Everyday Okinawa

It’s funny that we’ve only been here for a couple of months but Okinawa life is already feeling like the norm to me. I have to remind myself that every single thing about being here was so foreign to me and that I need to document it all because, in a few years, when we leave this beautiful place, all we will have is our blogged memories.


Driving on the wrong side of the road feels so right now. It’s not weird any more and I no longer accidentally turn on my windshield wipers instead of my turn signal. I’m beginning to miss the convenience of running to Joann’s to grab any kind of crafting supplies I need. I think I could find anything I would need on island but it’s not all in one convenient place. If I need any kind of paint for small crafts I need to go to Makemon which is like our Home Depot.

Us on a quick trip to Makemon. We got hungry so we grabbed a quick bite at the Blue Seal there. Btw, Blue Seal is AMAZING! More on that later.


You never need to bring your own stroller anywhere in Okinawa. Everywhere you go they have these convenient things available for free!


Daiso has a few random crafting items and there is a fabric store called House of 66 cents that has tons of fabric.


I’m gonna be completely random now, there are tons of Indian restaurants and they are all delicious! Can’t remember what this one was called but this was on Rich’s birthday! My old man is 38!


I took this picture just to show their drink sizes out here. You can’t really tell how small it is but it is smaller than a small drink in America. I remember when we first ordered a coke we laughed because it felt like it was one sip.


No pumpkin patch for us this yearSad smile Instead, we got our pumpkins from the commissary…just not the same.


You know what though, we can do without a pumpkin patch for a few years. It seems like a fair trade-off to be able to live in such an awesome place.

American Village, just down the street from the base. It has tons of restaurants, shopping and arcades.



On to produce here. The carrots are gigantic!


There are lots of farmers markets on the island. I decided to venture out last Saturday in search of what American’s call the “banana stand”. They call it that because you can get big bunches of bananas there. So, my neighbor vaguely described to me how to get there and for some reason I thought that I would just run right into it. Not so. When I finally did find it I was reminded that I am very much in a foreign country. This was the sign for it.


The produce was very affordable though!




This made me laugh.


We are so enjoying this adventure and doing our best to explore and take advantage of all the island has to offer.

October 27, 2015

So, our stuff came/Playing catch-up

Yup, that’s about all I want to say about that. The long awaited day marked the beginning of a round of sickness in our home that would last almost 3 weeks! We were so excited for our stuff to get here and after the first day of unpacking I was useless. So, our boxes and boxes of stuff sat mostly untouched until I was well enough to get on it.



It’s been a good couple of months and we are almost completely settled. There are still a few things that need to be hung and organized in the bedrooms. Here’s a tour of the living room/kids area/dining room.

Okinawa House Tour!

I feel like most of my posts titles are “Catching up” haha! I guess I’m not one to blog unless I feel like my life is stable and you can guess how often that is. Well, life is finally “stable” and I’m starting to have free time with Aidan, Maya and Arabella in school all day. So weird! Anyway, catching up…here comes a whole lot of random goodness!


He’s just awesome! He’s doing so much better now that our house is more settled. He isn’t having as many ticks and his behavior has drastically improved. He is loving school and his teacher. He always gets 100% on his spelling tests and he has become such a bookworm! He finished reading all of his Magic Treehouse books and Rich bought him the first 3 books of a different series called Sideways Stories Of Wayside School and I am always finding him in his room reading.


He is so curious and interested in learning new things. He loves to study Japanese and learn new words. After every episode of Wild Kratts, he has a million questions and wants to know more and more about whatever animal was the subject. I’m just really enjoying this sponge stage he is in! A couple of weeks ago he cracked me up with his version of “Cups”.

Aidan's version of "Cups"

When I told him that it didn’t go quite like that, he determined to learn it the right way. He practiced for half an hour with a youtube tutorial.


All of our kids love to draw. They spend a lot of time and go through lots of paper drawing, every single day. Here are a few of Aidan’s most recent creations. He’s really into labeling, lately.



Oh Maya…she is my sensitive one. She takes after me in so many ways. My girl has been extremely sensitive lately and just needs to be spoken to with an abundance of love or she WILL cry. If she thinks she did something wrong, she will cry. If you look or talk to her with an ounce of annoyance or frustration, she will cry. Sigh. I love how kind and thoughtful her sensitivity makes her though. I’m always finding little love notes from her.


She has a very artistic mind! She spent forever on her homework doing this.



She creates the most unique and interesting stories with her drawings. There are so many great ones that I’ve tucked away, these are just the ones I have hanging on the fridge right now.




She begged to go to Zumba with me one night so I took her! Best class ever. She was so cute dancing and didn’t stop once during the whole hour!



The main thing that I can say I’ve learned about Arabella in the last couple of months is that she was made for school and school was made for her! She LOVES it! Rich and I were admittedly worried about her because she has such a strong will but she couldn’t possible be doing any better. She’s never been happier and I just love to see her excitement when she gets off of the school bus every day.

Arabella is also a little artist and in every single drawing there is a unicorn.


Her unicorn’s heads have progressively gotten smaller and their bodies bigger, haha! She has also begun to include our names on all of her drawings.


She is still the friendliest kid you will ever meet who makes friends everywhere she goes. She has a definite opinion when it comes to what she wears and always has. She will not wear certain shirts if they are not “cute” enough and she adds a tutu to every single outfit. This is her most favorite outfit, recently. Also, that is the ocean in the back.


Maya just told me the other day that she likes more of a “boy style”. She was basically trying to nicely tell me to stop buying her pink and girly clothes because she prefers an athletic look. So fun to me to see how they are discovering themselves.



Oh boy, where to begin with this girl. She is her own person, for sure! She LOVES LOVES LOVES purses and shoes. Yes, at the tender age of 2 she is already obsessed with cute shoes and purses! This is a picture outside of Daiso where she found a purse she HAD to have! I tried to put it away but she refused to let go.


She is extremely independent. We went for a walk as a family and she refused to hold my hand even after falling twice.


Also, My Little Pony, is her favorite! She takes a pony everywhere we go. It can begin to be a bit much with all of the things she wants to take with her every time we leave the house…purse, pony, blanky…she’s a fancy girl!


I still have so much to update and there is much more to come if I could just get myself back into the habit of blogging. We are in love with this beautiful island and it’s people and haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of all there is to see and do here. We are excited!

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