Saturday, April 15, 2017

Navy Pier trip to see Romeo and Juliet with Eliana

Eliana's junior high from Princeton Christian Academy took a trip to Navy Pier in Chicago to see Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.  We took a train from Princeton to Chicago, then rode a bus to the Navy Pier.  After the show Eliana and I hung out with some of her friends and rode the giant ferris wheel and ate Chicago style deep dish pizza - yum!  It was a fantastic trip and the show was amazing!

Illinois Valley Honor Band

Elli was chosen as one of three from her school to be a part of the area wide junior high honor band.  She was thrilled to be chosen.  They went on two separate occasions.  The first was an evening to practice together.  The next was to actually perform for us.  It was a great experience for her.

On the right is her teacher, Mrs. Dawn Marshall

Tim's Recovery and Prayers about What's Next

Tim has been trying his hand at making knives.
In this picture he is doing a method of patina which
decorates the blade with a design which causes a protective
oxidation that also prohibits bad rust.
Tim finally finished the last day of his work conditioning yesterday.  He has been lifting heavy boxes, carrying 80 lb beams, walking on treadmill, riding an exercise bike, using a stair stepper, riding an arm bike, lifting weights, carrying 5 gallon buckets around the room, pushing and pulling a loaded sled around, going up and down a step-ladder, shoveling fake snow, stretching, working on balance apparatuses, stretching and undergoing manual joint manipulation.  Oh, and he said he had to operate a remote (LOL!)
The kids joined a group from our church at some friends' house
for making valentines in February.

His ankle doctor has released him back to work by increments.  In about 5 weeks he will be able to work full time.  Right now he is supposed to work 4 hours a day, then in another week, he'd be allowed to work 6 hours a week.  Finally two weeks after that, he could work full time (8 hour days).  Unfortunately, the director of the camp he worked at is gone on sabbatical and won't be back for another 2 weeks.  Another person is doing Tim's job in the interim of his leave (since last August).  We don't really know if he will have a job now or if this other person will be better suited to the job and replace him permanently.  The boss has been forbidden to talk to Tim about anything work related due to his worker's comp restrictions.  This has been very awkward for us and them.  Tim hasn't talked to him about what the future holds for us for months.

This possum was sitting on a log near the driveway to Camp
Menno Haven in February.  He just sat there and stared and let
us take picture.  Sorry for the blurriness.  It was taken on my
phone with a zoom.

This muskrat decided to walk along the sidewalk in Sterling
right in front of my car when I started home from work on a
weekend day at Ready Care.  I wasn't sure what this oversized
rodent was when I first saw it!

We've been wondering what God has for us next, of course.  Will it be here?  We do want to stay in the area.  We've looked at houses around us, but can't make an offer unless we know for sure we have to move.  We've seen some houses we liked be sold out from under us.  We've considered moving to Plow Creek again.  That is an intentional Christian community not far from here where we lived in the early 2000s.  That community is in limbo now.  They are considering closing their doors, but that hasn't been decided for sure.  There is still a core group of people who are interested in reviving/reinventing it, and we are considering being a part of that.  Lots of things to pray about!

At the Flour House in Princeton

Ciara home for spring break. 
We are enjoying some time at the Flour House in Princeton.

Our friends had an accident that we came upon on our way home from Princeton
on another day.  Thankfully, no one was seriously injured.

My new employer, Perry Memorial Hospital, put on a
community educational event a couple weeks ago.

My nephew Cannon, in the middle, is fighting a rare form of sarcoma.
Posing with him is his brother Matthew and sister Melissa.
Please pray for his full recovery and the cancer to die!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Tim and I having a date at the Flour House in Princeton.
  I love the ambiance of this little bakery/coffee shop.
My dear JJ.  Pray that 2017 will be her year for healing and
getting her life back.

2016 started on the heels of a rough fall 2015 with

JJ's health issues going sour and three hospitalizations.  She crashed in April on all fields - GI pain, depression, seizures and spent 9 days in another hospital scenario.  We seem to have gotten into a vortex that we can't seem to pull out of and move forward with her.  I kept her home this year to keep the stress at a minimum.  She gained weight up to 125 lbs and grew another 3/4 inch, much to her delight.  In the fall she started sliding backwards again - the seizures returned over the past 2-3 months on a weekly basis.  We tried another seizure medicine but couldn't get past the lowest dose due to severe depression, suicidal feelings, abdominal pain and weight loss.  She still is slipping down on her weight and is down to about 114 again.  It is very discouraging.  We are frustrated with her current GI, who never seems to offer much hope of improvement and doesn't really try anything new either.  We have started at another GI's office, and have been waiting 2 weeks since our visit to have all her other records gathered and reviewed.  Our current GI seems to look at her through Crohn's glasses only, look at her labs and past scopes, and say, "oh looks like her Crohn's is in remission" and then don't try to figure out what the problem is.  My biggest pet peeve is the diagnosis IBS.  It really is a catch-all for "I don't know what the heck is wrong, so I'm just going to throw antispasmotics her way and hope she gets better."  We've tried all the traditional IBS meds, but most of them increase her seizure activity.  Their answer for her weight loss and rectal pain was a painful rectal ultrasound, in spite of her abnormal MRI, and not only that, but they wanted me to figure out who could do it.  I've given up hope that the original GI will ever move forward with her. In January she will see a new neurologist as well, since she's pretty much blown through anything the current neurologist feels she can offer.

CC, LE, me, JoJo, JJ
CC finished her first semester with high standing - As and Bs.  She is feeling much better about school.  She isn't having as much back pain, but seems tired all the time.  We took her to the doctor over Christmas break and found some things out of whack, and have made a few changes in her medications.  Hopefully this makes a great improvement in her life.  On New Year's Eve, she ended the year with a bang, literally, when she was involved in a motor vehicle accident which totaled our beater van.  Fortunately only her pride was hurt.

LE is on the right between cheers.  Isn't she cute?

LE had a great semester overall.  Her grades are outstanding - the best I've seen for her. She is making friends, was a cheerleader for boys basketball, continued her flute at school and with Music Suite 408.  Just before Christmas break, she found out that she was invited to be in the area wide Junior High Honor Band.  She had many concerts this fall and Christmastime and was in a school wide Christmas musical with a solo part.  She has grown so much in her flute skills and actually thanked me for making her keep with it.

Celebrating JoJo's 10th birthday in November.

JoJo is thriving at Princeton Christian Academy as well.  This semester he was involved with basketball, which was a very good thing.  I loved the coaches and the whole atmosphere of it at PCA.  Joe is also busy with his violin and has started doing percussion with his school band.
Tim had his second surgery in September, a total ankle replacement.  He is now out of his boot and walking unassisted, but he is still having a lot of pain in his foot.  He does therapy 3 times a week.  They said that he should be able to do light duty in February.  I hope that his foot stops hurting by then.  They also said he'd be back to full duty in April.  We are waiting for a call from a place that does orthotics so that he can get some, but there seems to be a hold up due to the holidays.  We're hoping that these help with his foot pain.  In the picture to the left, he is eating at a the Naf Naf Grill in Orland Park during one of our trips to see his surgeon.  He really enjoyed this.

We lit the Hanukkah candles this year.  It is a small thing, but reminds us God has things under control and He is our light when the world is a dark place.  This Moses bush on the right also reminds me of God shining hope in my life when things are overwhelmingly dark.

Tim's father passed away peacefully just before Thanksgiving.  We were able to see all of the Gales and many other family friends that week.  Christmas day was spent peacefully with Tim's mother and a local friend we invited to share it with us.  Randy has been very good to reach out to Tim during his convalescence.

One last mention before I close, is that two close family members were diagnosed with cancer this year.  My 48 year old sister in law was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemo and radiation and surgery.  My 19 year old nephew was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma over Christmas break.  He underwent surgery just before Christmas and is suffering as he waits to see the oncologist for further treatment and answers this month.

Tim's dad passed away just before Thanksgiving. 
Here is a picture of all the Gale cousins gathering for Thanksgiving. 
Being near family in times like this is wonderful.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fall Days

DH, JJ and I

The kids are back in school now.  LE and JoJo are going to the private school they started last spring, and it is still going very well.  School wasn't an option for JJ this year, neither public nor private.  The public school won't take any of her credits she has already received by homeschooling or from the private school.  The private school wasn't a good fit.  This year we are homeschooling and it is going well.  It's a very good thing we did this, as her attitude is much better.  She is self-motivated to get her homework done, and she seems overall happier.  It also allows for her to go to her doctor's appointments without getting too far behind.  She is taking US History, English 3, Algebra 1.5-2 (review and will move forward as she comes to new material), Life Skills, and for science Oceanography and Ecology this semester.  We're reading Peace Child now by Don Richardson, and she's finished Stink Alley so far.  She also got her learner's permit.

CC in front of her dorm when she first got to school.

CC is in Ohio attending Bluffton University.  She was not well the first 3-4 weeks and became very home sick.  She is a little healthier now and seems to be holding her own much better.  I brought the 3 kids out to see her the first weekend of October and that was a real blessing to her.  Sadly, I think she is still having issues with back pain.

First checkup after DH'S second surgery.
LE's Houl-loween concert with her flute ensemble at Music Suite 408. 
She is the second one from the right.

A very busy me drives over 3000 miles a month going to work twice a week 50 minutes away, taking the younger kids (LE and JoJo) to school and music lessons, taking LE to doctors and PT sessions, taking JJ to doctors appointments, and also DH to his surgery, picking him up after surgery the next day (in Oak Lawn - two hours away), to PT, and follow-up appointments.  My house is a cluttered mess and it makes me crazy.  I spend most of my free time, very little of my time is free, cleaning the kitchen.  I never seem to catch anything else up, except the laundry, although I am behind on it now.

JoJo and LE

We moved my father-in-law to the nursing home this week.  It was sad, but he is adjust well.  He is a real trooper.
LE, me and JoJo at Tanners Orchard

This weekend I took the kids to Tanner's Orchard.  I just took the younger two as JJ wasn't feeling well enough to go.  She's been suffering a lot lately.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A summer update

I have found that it's hard to blog when the kids are sick and nothing seems to be going right.  I am surprised however, that it has been 6 months since I blogged.

In February things came to a head with Elli, she admitted that she had been eating gluten because she did not like going to her new school.  She had no friends and she was being bullied.  When she ate gluten it made her sick, so she could say that she wanted to stay home because she was sick.  I decided to change schools for both of my youngest children.  This proved to be a very good move.  Elli was no longer bullied.  She was able to get involved with the school play and choir. She continued band at her former school until the end of February and went to Contest.  She got a I in both her flute solo and her vocal solo.  She started doing flute at Music Suite 408 in Peru after that. She got a very good part in the school play "Little Women" as Jo March, as the narrator. She was still sick fairly regularly, but went to school much more regularly.  This month she had some more allergy testing and found out that she is allergic to corn.  Taking that out of her diet, I think, has made a big difference.  She isn't sick as much.  It is tricky since she can't have gluten either, but I think it is worth it.

Elli with some of the cast for Little Women.
She's in the teal dress.

JoJo didn't like his new school at first because it was "harder".  He still pulled off all "A's".  I felt that the other public schools were not challenging him.  He proved this by catching up with his new class in only a few short weeks.  He never had homework.  He was part of the recreational soccer program in the spring.  He continues to do well in violin.  He loves to play board games and computer games.

JJ left and CC right during their spring play.

JJ had another rough time this spring.  Her seizure medicine continued to play havoc with her ability to focus in school and it became even painful to write.  She became very depressed and even got suicidal.  I had to pull her out of two of her classes that were just too overwhelming for her.  She ended up in the hospital for 9 days.  It was horrible for us to see her so low.  After that I realized that it was likely her seizure medication and her neurologist agreed.  We slowly weaned her off that medication.  In the meantime, she was on antidepressants.  The first one made her dizzy and made her stomach hurt.  We switched her to another but it took her appetite away and she was very spacy and mean.  Now we have her off of all three of those and I think she is doing much better.  She doesn't think so, but I can tell.  We are working on getting her English 2 completed this summer, and she can focus on the reading and discussions well.  Hopefully we'll get some writing done this summer too.

JJ continued in a special ensemble group and participated in the play at school.  She did well in spite of the mean medicines!

CC and friend at their formal.
CC finished her senior year and graduated May 28!  She has chosen Bluffton University and will study Writing and Art.  She has earned a few nice scholarships.  She has met her new roommate and is psyched about starting.  She doesn't even want to wait out the summer, but she has to.  She may have finally gotten a job.  She has not had much luck until this week.  She may have a job at Liberty Village as front desk receptionist.  I think this is a good place for her.

DH will have surgery tomorrow, finally, on the ankle that he injured December 26.  It will be a two part surgery with a fusion of part of his ankle, followed by an ankle replacement in 8 weeks.  He isn't looking forward to this, but is looking forward to being able to walk again.  He still can't bear full weight on his right foot after 6 months!

I think I might have something going on with my esophagus.  If I eat bread or dry cookies, hard boiled eggs, etc, they seem to get caught in my esophagus.  I have put it off for a year probably, but it has been getting worse.  Perhaps due to my stress.  Who me, stressed?  Unfortunately it isn't helping me lose weight, but I guess that is a good sign too.