Praying for our Neighbors in IV

Folks around here are shocked and deeply saddened in the aftermath of last Friday night’s shooting rampage that took place nearby in Isla Vista.  Although our family doesn’t  know anyone who was directly affected, we know quite a few people who are involved in helping to “pick up the pieces” and bring healing to the community at large…friends who work in the UCSB counseling office, UCSB employees, Sheriff Bill Brown, students…and our hearts are heavy for the students & faculty left to process it all and the families who are left with such deep, deep loss.  We’re just a quick 5 minute drive from where the shootings occurred…a place we visit often to go to our favorite taqueria “Freebirds”.  On one hand, Isla Vista can feel like another world away as it is densely populated with UCSB and SB City College students and is known for crazy college parties but on the other hand it’s quite startling to stop and realize how integrated we are to the UCSB community…in addition to our frequent runs to Freebirds, one of our favorite stretches of beach (Campus Point) is in Isla Vista, Olivia plays Volleyball at UCSB and is coached by students, Rudy will go to summer school at Isla Vista elementary, the Alpha Phis (the sorority initially targeted by the shooter) volunteer at the Rescue Mission a couple of times a month, (etc, etc) and Liv was just on campus for a field trip Friday morning…it hits close to home literally and figuratively.

I have to admit, too, that I feel a heightened sense of  (I’m not sure this is going to come out right) discouragement over these senseless killings.  I really don’t mean to make this about me but I find it a little strange that my first emotional response is discouragement rather than feeling sad or even angry.   I really think that since our family’s time, energy, resources and focus 24/7 are spent trying to preserve a life, it makes events like what happened in Isla Vista seem even more tragic to me.  It’s a very complicated situation, I know, with so many variables and I don’t want to over-simplify it by any means…it’s just how I’m feeling today….disappointed and burdened.

Ironically, as all of this  unfolded in Isla Vista, our big boys were in San Diego for a church youth conference at Pt. Loma University.  They spent 4 days with 1500 other teens competing in a variety of fun events, worshipping God together, encouraging one another and having a blast.  Wilson entered a preaching competition, Max always the sports enthusiast played hard at the sporting events and they both competed in a talent competition together  – click here or here.  (FUN!)  So, as I had one eye on the local news coverage, my other eye (albeit teary eye) caught glimpses of what the boys and their friends were up to down south on FB…stark contrasting images indeed.   It made me pray for those 1500 teens even harder…that the TRUTHS of life would root in their hearts, that they would know they are deeply LOVED no matter their circumstances and that they would CHERISH life – their own as well as purposing to make life better for others…

It feels a little weird to be plugging away at the daily schedule but there has been so much to fill our week this week…studying for finals, the DPHS Talent Show (Max ROCKED it), preparation for LP’s 6th grade promotion ceremony next week & Rudy’s graduation from Learning Tree as well as the big 6th grade dance TOMORROW!  ‘So grateful for it all…

Pt. Loma
Pt. Loma
The boys performing at the conference last weekend.
The boys performing at the conference last weekend.

I got a sweet glimpse into Olivia’s mind through poems she wrote this year in her poem journal for school…my favorites are her preposition poem which describes the day Rudy came home from the hospital and the last stanza of her “I am from…” poem.  A great reminder that “it’s all good”

Preposition Poem:  My Baby Brother

(By Olivia Geyling)

“Inside the house

Until I see the car

Through the rain I run

By the bushes

Past the tree

To the car

In my arms

After a year

Beneath blankets

At his home

Below my eyes are tears

With my baby brother.”


Praying for peace and healing for our community tonight.

Countdown to Summer!

It’s only been a couple of weeks since our last post but, boy, the full spring calendar continues around here and we’ve packed in quite a bit …Mother’s Day, a trip to the pediatric dental clinic at UCLA, a Girl Scout camping trip, Rudy’s first “beach day” and Rolf’s birthday!!!  With just 12 school days left of school, the boys’ finals and Livy’s 6th grade promotion are just around the corner.  It’s an exciting time, for sure.

With so much going on in the life of our family, it has been nice to have a little respite from major medical “to dos”….we’ve remained current in all of Rudy’s routine appointments but there hasn’t been any medication changes or follow up treatments to schedule and it feels like a break.

Rolf and I took Rudy down for his first teeth cleaning at the dental clinic at UCLA and we were very encouraged by the appt…Rudy cooperated  and his oral health status continues to be good.  There is no sign of calculus (hardened plaque) at the base of his teeth and gums (which would be BAD) but the calculus that is on the surface of his teeth continues to provide a protective seal against decay (which is GOOD).  The dentist he saw this time confirmed what the dentist told us back in September during our first consultation and all of the information gathered by the dental clinic will be passed on to the docs at the heart clinic as it will be important in determining Rudy’s eligibility for a heart transplant down the road….just one of many variables in determining his eligibility but it’s definitely an important piece of the puzzle.  The tiny victories along the way are definitely encouraging.

Even though Rudy resisted at first, he eventually opened up and made it through 3 verses of "Brush, Brush, Brush Your Teeth" to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" while the doctor methodically cleaned his teeth!  :) Yay Rudy!
Even though Rudy resisted at first, he eventually opened up and made it through 3 verses of “Brush, Brush, Brush Your Teeth” to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” while the doctor methodically cleaned his teeth! 🙂 Yay Rudy!
Good boy Rudy!
Good boy Rudy!

Here’s a look at some of the other big events of the month…

Mama on Mother's Day.  The family speaking my "love language" at In n Out!
Mama on Mother’s Day. The family speaking my “love language” at In ‘n Out!

I broke tradition and actually went camping this past weekend with Olivia’s Girl Scout troop…one last big hurrah before promotion.  It was a special time, for sure, with the girls…most of whom have been Girl Scouts together since Kindergarten!  Since we camped at El Cap just 10 minutes away from home, Rudy and Rolf joined us for our day at the beach and it was fun to share Rudy’s first REAL day at the beach with the girls.

Sunset at El Cap with 19 of my favorite Girl Scouts!  :)
Sunset at El Cap with 19 of my favorite Girl Scouts! 🙂


Rudy getting his feet wet...
Rudy getting his feet wet…
Beach fun!
Beach fun!


We got home on Sunday just in time to celebrate Rolf’s birthday!  A perfect exclamation point to a fun weekend of many blessings.

Happy Birthday Rolfi!
Happy Birthday Rolfi!



Immeasurable Riches

We are definitely in a FULL season right now with LOTS going on but, thankfully, that also translates into “riches” in the form of a variety of fun activities, new experiences and beautiful people.  It’s a season of heightened gratitude as well as we wind down another school year and take a little time to reflect on the fun that was had & the kids’ accomplishments this past year.  Our family was blessed by another great batch of teachers and we enjoyed having many of them over for dinner in appreciation of all their hard work.  We had the 6th grade La Patera teachers and a couple of Dos Pueblos teachers over last Wednesday evening and Rudy’s teachers from La Patera and Learning Tree over last night!!  Two evenings full of great company, pleasant conversation, good food, belly laughs and greater insight into the lives of the men and women who help educate our kids.  Talk about RICH!!  Our kids are being invested in by a group of people with varying personalities, passions and life experiences and we couldn’t be more grateful for all that Wilson, Max, Olivia & Rudy are learning not only from these individuals but also through their example.

Rudy had a transitional IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting yesterday.  This is normally an annual meeting that happens for Rudy near his birthday in the fall but because Rudy will be transitioning from pre-K to Kindergarten officially in the fall, it’s necessary to meet and iron out all the details now.  Yesterday’s meeting included Rudy’s current teachers, speech therapist, occupational therapist, district nurse, classroom nurse, adaptive PE teacher, the district psychologist, the district special ed director, next year’s school principal, next year’s speech therapist and next year’s general ed & special ed Kindergarten teachers…phew!!!  Once again, Rolf and I walked away humbled by and grateful for the many voices accessing and speaking into Rudy’s overall educational experience.  Old goals were discussed, new goals were established and plans for Rudy to be placed in an immersion class made up of special ed and typical children were made.  The program looks like a great one but it does mean that Rudy will be permanently placed at Mountain View Elementary School and our family will have to say “goodbye” to our beloved La Patera after 7 great years there.  The La Patera community of staff and families rallied around us when Rudy was born and were of practical support in the many months that followed (i.e. brought our family meals for 7 months while Rolf and I shuttled back and forth between home and the hospital), they celebrated with us when we brought him home, they helped keep a close eye on the big kids through it all (giving an extra reassuring hug when needed) and welcomed Rudy, officially, as a part-time student this year!  Precious memories…talk about RICH!!

We’ll have to say goodbye to the special teachers at Learning Tree as well.  We always knew Rudy’s time at Learning Tree would just be for this year but we believe in establishing roots wherever we land (no matter the duration) and we’ve grown very fond of the staff there…friendly, patient, focused & firm when necessary but always loving.  Rudy has developed a great deal this past year…and he greatly benefited from his time at Learning Tree.

Rudy and his teacher team!  Shari Farrington -Kindergarten teacher at La Patera, teachers Stephanie and Erin from Learning Tree, Nurse Sara, and teachers Angie Joeanna & Melanie from Learning Tree as well.
Rudy and his teacher team! (left to right) Shari Farrington -Kindergarten teacher at La Patera, teachers Stephanie and Erin from Learning Tree, Nurse Sara, and teachers Angie Joeanna & Melanie from Learning Tree as well.
Look at the smile on Rudy's face!!!
Look at the smile on Rudy’s face!!!

The one constant in all of this, for which Rolf and I are deeply grateful, is Nurse Sara (pictured in the middle).  She began working with Rudy at the start of this school year, will accompany him to summer school and, if all goes as planned, will continue on with him next year at Mountain View.  A large part of Rudy’s success at school this year is due to her easy-going demeanor, nursing expertise, compassion and the continuity of care she provides for him no matter the locale.  She is a huge support to him and their bond is clearly established…and I’m pretty grateful for her friendship too!  🙂

All of this adds up to immeasurable riches in the life of our family and, as always, we are blown away!

It's official!  Swim season is upon us and with the pool a comfortable 85's warm enough for Rudy to enjoy too!  Without the trach stoma, Rudy can enjoy a little independent pool time and he's taking every advantage of having a pool in the backyard!  Ha Ha
It’s official! Swim season is upon us and with the pool water a comfortable 85 degrees, it’s warm enough for Rudy to enjoy too! Without the trach stoma, Rudy is beginning to explore  the pool independently and he’s taking every advantage of having a pool in the backyard! Ha Ha  Go, Rudy, Go!!
Some recent fun with Wilson and "Oswald" the rabbit...
Some recent fun with Wilson and “Oswald” the rabbit…

We have just 4 more weeks left of school…there’s something on the calendar practically every day between now and then…the race to the finish begins…now!  Here we go!  🙂