Christmas 2012

Christmas Tebowing at dawn.
Christmas Tebowing at dawn

Times are certainly changing…Christmases were once spent assembling all the toys the kids got from Santa…this year the day was spent syncing and activating electronics!  🙂  Ha Ha  Rudy did get one toy that needed to be put together so the day wasn’t completely disorienting but a major shift has occurred indeed.  Ha  Rudy is still more interested in the wrapping paper than he is in the gift but he took great joy in scooting around on his little indoor “bike” through piles of wrapping paper and checking out what everyone else got from Santa.

All smiles on Christmas morning...
All smiles on Christmas morning…

Of course, our Christmas Day wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Rescue Mission for Rolf’s annual Turkey Bowling Tournament with the residents.  We brought snacks and set up for this year’s extravaganza in the dining hall!  🙂  The competition was fierce as Rolf and the big kids joined in the bowling fun.  Rudy tolerated all the noise and commotion well with the help of his buddy Tom who sat with him and decorated Christmas cookies…so sweet!

Rudy and friends decorating Christmas cookies at the Rescue Mission.
Rudy and friends decorating Christmas cookies at the Rescue Mission.
Having lots of fun with new BFF Tom.  :)
Having lots of fun with buddy Tom. 🙂  This may be my favorite Christmas image this year!

It turns out that Rolf’s favorite Christmas present came from the pharmacy in the form of a little bottle stopper for Rudy’s Trileptal medication.  Now we can dispense this thick, sticky liquid medication straight from the bottle without having to first pour a little bit into a smaller cup to draw is up with the syringe (inevitably wasting a ton of medication) – genius.  Ah, the Costco pharmacist was definitely speaking Rolf’s love language this year and it will be the gift that keeps on giving multiple doses a day!  Not sure where they’ve been hiding those for the last four years…:)

LOVE the new bottle stop!
LOVE the new bottle stop!

Sadly, this Mama Elf didn’t quite get the sizing right on a couple of garments and we need to make a stop at the AT&T store so we are off to brave the “day after Christmas” crowds!  (yikes)  Luckily, this will include meeting up with Dad for lunch at the office…ho, ho, ho…the Christmas fun continues.  Love and hugs!

Favorite Christmas Memory

It’s exactly 12 midnight…Merry Christmas dear ones!  It’s hard to believe this day has come after so much preparation and anticipation. 🙂  The kids are all fast asleep after several checks on the NORAD Santa Tracker website (He’s currently in Colorado, by the way) and Rolf and I are getting ready to hit the hay ourselves.  We just couldn’t let this special day end before taking a minute to wish you all a very merry Christmas.  How grateful we are to be celebrating Christmas safely at home with all our children under one roof, snuggled sweetly in bed (well, actually, for Max, Olivia and Rudy it’s “snuggled sweetly on Livy’s floor for a Christmas slumber party”!).  We don’t take this scenario for granted at all but were also amazed at dinner tonight when Rolf asked the kids what their favorite Christmas memory is and all but one said the Christmas we spent in the hospital with Rudy.  Amazing!!  What a gift!  Olivia said it was her favorite because we were all together with Rudy…we all agreed that it was a particularly sacred Christmas for our family that helped shape in us a deeper awareness of what is truly worth celebrating on this day.

I guess Rudy finally got tired of just watching the big sibs make music and decided to take up the ukelele.
I guess Rudy finally got tired of just watching the big sibs make music and decided it’s time to take up the ukelele.
Rudy helping us celebrate at the Bethel House this morning...we just LOVE the women of Bethel House! :)
Rudy helping us celebrate at the Bethel House this morning…we just LOVE the women in recovery at the Bethel House! 🙂
Christmas Eve 2012
Christmas Eve 2012

The reading of a Christmas devotional…

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Time to open just ONE gift…

IMG_0773IMG_0774 IMG_0775 Wilson and Max “helped” us by getting Rudy ready for bed and into his new pajamas…uh, yeah, Rudy wasn’t too pleased! IMG_0777 IMG_0778 IMG_0780

Love and hugs from our home to yours…

2012 Family Christmas Photo
2012 Family Christmas Photo


The Countdown Is On!

Just like most households this time of year, ours has been filled with holiday preparations of all kinds and the extra special  activities continue this week with a Christmas celebration with Rolf’s staff, two school band performances and Christmas caroling with the Girl Scouts!  🙂  In the midst of all the fun leading up to Christmas, we also received our hard travel dates and flight information from the Make A Wish Foundation.  We’ll be traveling to “Give Kids The World” on January 17th and returning to CA on the 25th!  Olivia promptly made a calendar to help us keep track of the number of days until we leave…and put it right next to our countdown to Christmas.  Ha Ha  This is truly a season of meaningful anticipation for our family as we prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ and anticipate this once-in-a-lifetime trip that we hope will be a profound shared experience filled with long lasting memories.  🙂

Simultaneous countdowns!
Simultaneous countdowns!

Some have asked if there is any new information about Rudy’s condition and I don’t have any specific updates…we don’t see Dr. Harake (cardiologist) until the week after Christmas and we don’t follow up with Dr. Shapiro (ENT) until after the new year…we’re supposed to see her in January but we may push that back to early February now that we have our travel dates for FL.  In general, though, Rudy is doing great.  His trach stoma is healing nicely but not completely closed as this could take several months.  He plays hard, sleeps hard and is generally happy as long as he doesn’t feel like he’s getting left behind when the rest of the household is buzzing to and from all their varied activities.  🙂  He seems to have developed a new fascination with the toilet which may be an indication he’s ready to start potty training!  He was quite proud of his new “big boy” toilet seat attachment and was happy to sit for awhile once he realized he could, indeed, balance there on his own.


Three days later he amazed us with his determination to carry, kick and throw THREE avocados while he bottom scooted from the kitchen to the kids’ bathroom in just one trip for some toilet fun!  ‘Looks like it’s time to keep the bathroom door closed!! Ha Ha

IMG_3521Rudy’s calendar was full this weekend with a variety of special events like his classroom party on Friday…

Rudy enjoying a little holiday music at his school party!
Enjoying a little holiday music!

Rudy was happy to see Teacher Christy again who came for a special visit!

Happy to see Teacher Christy again who came for a special visit!
Teacher Diane and a classmate join in the fun!
Teacher Diane and a classmate joining in on the fun and Rudy practices eating during snack time below!

Practicing eating during snack time!

…cheering on Max’s hockey game at the championship game before it got rained out…

A little pre-game hockey scrimmage with Olivia and Brooke.
A little pre-game hockey scrimmage.

…decorating cookies with Olivia and friends…


…and, my personal favorite, Christmas at Stow House!

Rudy has made amends with Santa!  Yea!!!
Rudy has made amends with Santa! Yea!!!


Sadly Wilson missed out on this tradition due to a trip up north for a drum corps camp but the rest of the clan enjoyed the requisite visit with Santa...
Sadly Wilson missed out on this tradition due to a trip up north for a drum corps camp but the rest of the clan enjoyed the requisite visit with Santa…
Maxi got a little Rudy love...
Maxi got a little Rudy love…
A tractor ride with Olivia and friend Brooke!
A tractor ride with Olivia and friend Brooke!

Of course, in the wake of Friday’s tragedy in CT and the loss of so many healthy, vibrant  young lives, we cherish and hold close these moments even more as well as pray with new vigor for those engaged in life and death battles around us.  Our hearts were deeply burdened to find out last night that our little friend Daisy has taken a turn for the worse in her battle against cancer…here’s the latest.  In addition, four of our dear friends who are a part of the Rudy’s Beat community are also in serious cancer battles and we  ask you to please stop for a moment and pray for Daisy, Bryan, Kenon, Bob and Jen – each one so dear to us and each one so full of faith and grace  in their journeys.  Rudy’s milestones are significant because they arise out of the pitched battle he is in.  Our hearts are intertwined with people engaged in similar struggles.  We hurt when they hurt, but our lives are richer because of their friendships…thank you, dear friends, for helping us envelop them in prayer!


God bless you friends…God bless the community of Newtown, CT…God bless those in a battle for health…God grant us all peace!

Rudy the Red-nosed Reindeer!

Last month we had the pleasure of a visit from Nick and Jeni Busta…you may remember that we first met this sweet couple at the Heart Walk back in September and had hoped for a chance to follow up with them.  Jeni is a HLHS survivor and spends a great deal of her time encouraging and supporting CHD families.  It was fascinating and extremely helpful for me to talk with someone who is able to articulate the challenges that accompany HLHS…I’ve wondered many times if there are unseen side effects for Rudy related to his HLHS that he is unable to tell us about.  Jeni confirmed that there is, indeed, the potential for chronic back pain and chest pain as these are things she battles each day.  I appreciated her candor and honesty in sharing about her experiences growing up…the things she wishes now she had (i.e. certain types of therapy) and the choices she’s grateful were made along the way.  Although I know each journey with HLHS is a very different path, it was encouraging to talk with an adult survivor who knows firsthand what Rudy is going through.  Talking with Jeni also reminded me that as much as we try to treat Rudy like a “normal” kid and encourage him to do all he is motivated to try, he has limitations that will frustrate him and he’ll need to be encouraged through them whether those limitations are temporary or permanent.

Olivia was particularly affected by Jeni’s stories of being bullied in school when she was young and I know she’s been thinking about them since.  Just a few days ago, Livy and I were in the kitchen when Dean Martin’s version of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” came on the radio.  When Deano sang “Rudy the red-nosed reindeer”, we laughed and said “Hey, it’s Rudy’s song”.  A couple of minutes later, Olivia asked “I wonder if what happens in that song will happen to Rudy?…I wonder if Rudy will be made fun of and bullied for his disability but then be asked to do something really special and important and then he’ll be a hero?”  Sweet girl…I love the way she thinks and her sensitivity toward Rudy. There is a lot to ponder in that question but I think we’re all a lot like Rudolph…we all have things that could be considered a flaw or disability that God desires to use for a special purpose.  When we live out that purpose, we become a hero to those we serve and, more importantly, God’s plans are accomplished through us!  Jeni is certainly a hero to many as are Rudy and the big sibs to me.  I pray that we’ll recognize God’s purpose in our weaknesses, that many heroic acts will fill this holiday season and that God will be glorified in it all!  ‘So grateful today for the many lessons we’re learning along the way.

Fun with Jeni, Nick and their niece and nephew!  :)
Fun with Jeni, Nick and their niece and nephew! 🙂

Of course, God gifts us with amazing strengths as well and I’m so glad our friend CeCe (and Rudy’s God-sister ;- ))blessed us with one of hers…look what she painted for Rudy for his birthday!  I love her interpretation of Rudy’s Heart filled with such color and life!  Thank you CeCe…keep up the great work young friend!  If Rudy’s Beat were a book, this would be my choice for the cover!!  Ha 🙂

Rudy's Heart...all dolled up!
Rudy’s Heart…all dolled up!