This and That...

Things have been going well and life is good. I can't believe there is only one month left of summer vacation and then Carla will be starting 1st grade and Bobby will be a freshman at the University of Great Falls!  This week Cody got a promotion from teller to banker and was also accepted into The Musician's Institute in LA.  He is thinking of attending beginning in January, but hasn't made any permanent decisions.  I won't lie, it does freak me out a tiny bit to see him go off to LA, but he needs to do whatever in life makes him happy.

Cody and Shelby will be visiting this  upcoming week, so we are really excited about that!  It will be nice to have our whole family under one roof for a couple of days.  It is also fair week, so we will have to find a day to take Carla to the fair!  Last year was the first year that she was healthy enough to attend a fair and she loved it a lot.  So, we are hoping for the same results this year :)

Bobby and I were able to have a five day get away last week, and Bobby's parents watched Carla.  Our friends Chad and Melissa pretty much took Bobby and I on an adult Make a Wish vacation.  It really helped us to feel better and more like our old selves.  It is amazing how wound up a person can get after seven years of chronic stress.  Taking a few days and not having to think about med times, taking care of anyone or that ticker in my mind of things that need to be done was seriously rejuvenating.  A big THANK YOU to our friends, Chad and Melissa, we appreciate it more than you will ever know!

And, in the essence of keeping the fun going, Bobby played a pickup gig with The Alleged band in Great Falls Friday night.  I went out, saw him play and did a little dancing with friends.  There was a time when I hadn't ever missed a single gig of Bobby's (or baseball game of Cody's). Nowadays the only thing I don't miss are doctor appointments.  So, it has been a nice couple of weeks, and I feel happy :)

Bobby and I drinking wine that was bottled in 1988, the year that we met and fell in love :)  

Facetime made being away from our little Nukum a little easier, but 5 days seemed like an eternity.  

Love, Jen


4th of July, Dr. Visits, Family & Fun!

It has been so long since I posted, so I have quite a lot of news!  First of all, the 4th of July was a blast!  We kept it pretty low key, but enjoyed spending time with friends and family.  We all had a great time and Mario didn't even freak out about the fireworks.

Monday Carla had a dentist appointment in Helena, and then we were able to attend a BBQ with my family to celebrate that my Auntie Jeannette and Uncle Bill were visiting from California. We had a terrific time and I just can't say enough how much I absolutely LOVE my family.  We are so incredibly blessed to have such amazing people in our lives.

Tuesday morning we were up early and flew to Seattle via Angel Flight West!  It was amazing to be taken via private plane and we are so grateful that we had the opportunity to do that! Bev picked us up at Boeing Field around noon and we were thankful to be able to visit with her for the evening (and also thankful that we could stay with her and borrow her car).  Carla had appointments set for 8:00, 9:00 and 10:00 Wednesday morning, so we left Bev's around 6:35, anticipating traffic issues.  Luckily enough, traffic was smooth sailing and we arrived at Children's about 15 minutes early!  And, that set the tone for the day!  Carla's echo was done in 20 minutes, we saw Dr. S. Law before 9:00 and were called in to our ENT appointment by 10:03!! Things never run so smoothly at Children's, so I was so incredibly happy!!!

Dr. Law said that Carla's echo looked great, and she was impressed by how well Carla looked in general!   People kept saying: "she doesn't even look like the same child!" After our heart appointments we were off to see the ENT, who was happy with Carla's voice and how well she has taken to the vocal cord injection.  We will call him when her voice starts to change again and make an appointment for the second vocal cord procedure.  (The second procedure will last for several years, so we are excited about that!)

Wednesday, July 9th, was not only a day of appointments, it was also Cody's 21st Birthday!!!  We didn't get to see him,  but it sounds like he had a great day.  We are so incredibly proud Cody and love him as much as any Mom and Dad could ever love their boy.  It's hard to believe our little Cody Bear is 21.  Crazy.

Thursday Carla and I flew back home and then later drove to Helena for dinner with my family to celebrate my Dad's birthday!  After dinner I ran back to Dad and Sue's house to tend to the puppy but Carla got to go for a walk with her Grandparents and Aunt Dianne around Spring Meadow Lake, followed by the Symphony in the park.

I spent time with Mario and also had a chance to get my new phone programmed.  (I had to break down and get a new phone because the camera and flashlight quit working a couple months ago and I was just sick of dealing with it).  My new phone pretty much looks the same, but it works a lot better and I am pleased!

Later in the evening I was able to meet up with one of my best friends from high school for a drink!  We hadn't seen each other in about 20 years and it was so nice to get a chance to visit and catch up!

Today I thought it would be a good day to catch up on the blog :) as well as clean up my messy house and just take it easy!  It's been a long but very fun week!!

Love, Jen

Carla, watching her Daddy and Jeff light a firework. 

She's so excitable!

Cute Toot!

Mr. Mario

Letting me take her picture :)

Selfies with Jess!

Being excited!

She is such an expressive child.


Indulging me again...

Ryder, chillin in Carla's Princess Jeep

Sparklers!  (I promise she didn't burn her feet).  

Sparkler fun

Waiting for the town fireworks. 

Our friend Jessica took this picture.  I thought it was so cool!  Carla doing her sparkler and the town fireworks going off behind her.  We love being in Cascade on the 4th, it is so cool!
I found this picture the other day and I don't think I posted it.   This was taken at the beginning of June, with Carla and Mario. 
I can't believe this little boy is all grown up!  He was such a delightful child :)

Cody and Shelby, it warms my heart to see them looking so happy!  Glad you had a Happy Birthday Cody!

Here I am with my friend Angie from high school.  It was so great to have the opportunity to catch up the other night!


Seattle Adventures

I hadn't had a chance to share our adventures in Seattle, so I wanted to do that.  On Monday, June 9th, we were expecting to have to spend the night at the hospital after Carla's vocal cord procedure.  But, the procedure went so well that we were able to leave!  This gave us the whole rest of Monday as well as Tuesday to do fun stuff.  Monday evening we drove to Tacoma and had an impromptu dinner with Bobby's Auntie and cousins.  It was so nice of Auntie to welcome us with no prior notice, and we had a lovely time.  We had decided that we wanted to do the Seattle Ride the Duck tour on Tuesday (since that is something we have always wanted to do and never have had a chance to do.)  So, Auntie called up Tiff and asked if she could take Belle, Carla's cousin, the next day.  We all decided to meet at the light rail in Tukwilla and ride it to Seattle for the tour the next morning.  

Carla and Belle, waiting for the light rail.

Me, on the light rail.

Carla and Belle, checking out the view on the light rail. 
 After a short trip, we arrived in Seattle and Auntie bought us all lunch.  From there, we walked the short block to where they were giving the Duck Tours.
Carla and I, before the tour.  She was crabby because she wanted to sit by Belle, but Belle wanted to sit by an adult.  

Before the tour.

Her crabbiness was nothing a Go Go Squeeze couldn't fix. 

And, we're off!
 The Duck Tour drives you around Seattle and then into the Puget Sound.  The rigs were actually designed during WWII bring supplies and wounded from land to sea, or sea to land.
Getting ready to drive into the sound.  

Carla thought that was pretty cool!

Belle was like "What the!"  

A view from the Puget Sound

After our adventures in Seattle, we went back to Bev's house for a visit with her.  We got up Wednesday morning and headed off to the Portland area to see our son.  Cody didn't get off of work until 6:15, so we decided to take a detour in Astroia, OR.  We found a place to eat and then checked out the Oregon Film Museum.
Getting ready to order some lunch.  

Carla and I, walking the doc after lunch.  Such a cool view.  Astoria is where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.  

Bobby and Carla, on the doc. 

Lovin on her Daddy.

Carla took this picture of us at the Film Museum.  It's a little blurry, but still pretty cool :) 
Carla and Bobby outside of the Oregon Film Museum.  We had a great time and will  most definitely find some time to check out Astoria more thoroughly in the future, as well as Cannon Beach AND the Tillamook Cheese Factory!
And finally, we were able to have our family of four in the same room together again.  It is way too few and far between, but always a treat to see our boy.
Carla, loving on her big brother. 

Shelby, Carla and Cody, at dinner together.  
 We had a nice visit with Cody and Shelby, unloaded the stuff we brought Cody from home and finally crashed around 11:30.  We were up by 5:00 Thursday morning to beat traffic and make it to Seattle for Carla's Pulmonary appointment at 11:20.
Checking her lungs.  
 Carla's oxygen saturations are always through the roof at sea level.  She was running around 99 to 100% at the hospital.  Dr. Debley was very impressed with how well she was doing and said that our visits with him will become less and less necessary in the future.  We will see him again when we go back to Seattle for Carla's biopsy in November or December.  We will also be going back to Seattle in July to see the ENT who did her  vocal cord procedure and also the transplant team.  After that we will wait and see how she does and when her voice gets more breathy again, we will go back for a more "permanent" vocal cord injection.  Seems like we should just live in Seattle.

Friday, we were up early again to drive home.  The trip was LONG but Carla was such a good girl.  She is getting so big and SO grown up.  We are feeling very blessed.

Sunday we went to Helena to see my Dad for Father's Day, as well as have a puppy date for Mario with Bill and Tristan's poodles.  It was cute to see the dogs run and play together and it was so nice to be with family.

Here is a picture of Carla, as we were leaving.  She has on both of the pairs of sunglasses that Bill and Tristan gave her.  They, as well as Tristan's family, spoiled Carla and Mario with presents and treats.
Pretty cute.  
Love, Jen


Back home!

We are back home and have settled back into life.  Carla is going to Xcell and taking swimming lessons (although the weather is not cooperating), Bobby has been picking up extra shifts and I am busy taking the dog out every five minutes so that he doesn't go to the bathroom in the house.  Potty training dogs is the pits.  But, he is cute and we love him :)

Carla's vocal cord procedure seems to be a big success.  I quit giving her the antibiotics she has been on for like ever, and her cough has gone away!  Her voice is definitely louder and so less breathy when she speaks. We will go back to Seattle for a checkup in July and then wait for things to start changing with her voice so that we can schedule the more "permanent" procedure.  The gel they injected into the vocal cord on June 9th is a temporary (1 to 3 month) gel (to make sure she could handle the procedure).  After the temporary gel wears off, they will inject a more permanent (3 to 5 year) gel.

I have been finding it hard to find the time to update the blog, and blogger has been a total pain in the rear end with regard to not putting my pictures in the right order and then also some other annoying stuff.  So, please bear with me.  Right now I have to wake Carla up for Xcell and get ready for the day.  I just wanted everyone to know everything is going swell :)

Love, Jen


Vocal Cord Procedure

Last September when we first learned that Carla's left vocal cord was paralyzed we opted to do nothing.  Our way of thought was that it wasn't a big deal that her voice was quiet and she had already been through SO MUCH, we just couldn't bear to put her through anything else.  But, unfortunately, what we didn't understand was that because her vocal cords could not meet together properly it was also affecting her ability to get a productive cough.  Because of her not getting a productive cough, and probably because she has to take immuno-suppressant drugs to prevent rejection, every time Carla got  a cold that involved a cough, it would develop into an infection and she would need to be on an antibiotic.  And, I think we all understand that it is really not a good thing to take too many antibiotics.  They eventually become less effective and that in itself is a big problem.  So, once the pulmonologist figured out that the reason she was getting so sick all of the time was because of her paralyzed vocal cord, we decided to move forward with this procedure.  And, after today, and realizing what an absolute breeze this procedure was, I wish we would have taken care of it months ago!!!  

We checked in to Children's at 11:15 this morning.  By 12:15 they took her back to be put under and by 12:45 we were getting paged that the procedure was finished!  We met with the ENT and he explained that the procedure went perfectly and that they would watch her in recovery and if we were comfortable with it, go ahead and release her!  We were expecting to stay the night!!  By 2:15, we were discharged!!!  I swear, that was the fastest anything she's ever had done!!  What a blessing!  

After discharge Carla wanted to visit one of our favorite old haunts, the Yummy Cafe.  The Yummy Cafe is a little Chinese food place about half a block from the Ronald McDonald House.  After being starved all morning, it was our pleasure to let her choose the place for lunch. And it was, well, Yummy!   

After lunch we realized that we now had a free evening and half a day that we were expecting to spend in the hospital!  We called up Bobby's Aunt and she said we could come for a visit.  So, we visited Auntie Punk, Tina and Dusty.  And, made a plan to go on the Duck Tour tomorrow in Seattle.  How exciting!  Now this is starting to feel more like a vacation!  Woo hoo!  

Carla says that she feels great and her voice sounds louder already. They told us that her voice won't be 100% for a couple of days, and that she may get nauseated from the anesthesia. But, she sounds louder and seemed to feel fine.  By the end of the night she was begging her cousin, Dusty, to swing her around in a circle over and over.  

I definitely think I will sleep better tonight :)   

Love, Jen

This morning, before the procedure.

After coming back from the procedure.

Rocking Oxygen saturation levels at 100.  Woo  hoo!  

Eating her second popsicle and being discharged!  

The before and after shot of Carla's vocal cords.  The one of the left is before and the one on the right is after.  As you can see, the vocal cords on the right are very much closer to each other.  


Kindergarten Graduation!!!

Thursday was Carla's Kindergarten Graduation!!  It was such a great day and we are so proud of our big girl.  I feel like we are going to blink and it she's going to graduating 8th grade, high school and then college. It is just the coolest thing watching her grow, play and succeed alongside of her peers.

The ceremony started with presenting the PTA of Montana's Outstanding Teacher of the Year award. Which, was presented to Carla's teacher, Mrs. Stevens.  She was so sweet and humble about the award... She didn't want it taking away from the kids' shining moment.  What I thought was really cool though was that because Mrs. Stevens got the award, they had all of the students in the gym, and so when the Kindergartners walked in, the whole school was there, clapping and cheering for them.  I'm sure they felt like rock stars!  Carla was waving like a celebrity, it was adorable.

After the presentation of the award the kids did a little skit where they held up pages that spelled out We (Heart) Kindergarten.  They all had parts to remember and then passed the microphone along to the next classmate.  They also had other lines to remember and introduced themselves.  They all did such a great job remembering their lines.  After the skit, Mrs. Stevens talked about what a great group of kids they were and how she was going to miss them.  Followed by, the presentation of  diplomas.  It was super adorable and one of the many neat things about living in a small town where they do fun stuff like "Kindergarten Graduation."

After graduation we came home and introduced Mario to my Dad, Sue, Andy and Grandma Morgan. Carla's graduation presents from her Grandparents Morgan were some dog treats and toys.  It was fun watching Carla and Sue play with the puppy.  After the family left we gathered up Mario and took him to Petco  "to get some accessories," as Carla said.   We had him fit for a collar, harness and leash for walking. Carla picked out a little heart shaped tag that we had engraved with his name and our phone numbers, just in case he ever gets away from us.  (Although, he is such a good boy I don't ever see that happening.)  

Here are some pictures from Graduation :)

Love, Jen
The Class of 2026!!!

Taking the stage.

Waiting while the grown ups did some announcements. 

The PTA President presenting Mrs. Stevens with the outstanding teacher award. 

Her fellow teachers giving her accolades 

"R is for remembering everything we've learned"

Mrs. Stevens talking about what a great group of kids she had this year. We were all blessed to have her!  She is most definitely and Outstanding Teacher!!!  

Carla, with her Kindergarten diploma and door hanger from Mr. Molloy

Carla with her Grandparents

The family that watched her graduate. 

Carla and McKenzie are ready to take on 1st grade together.