Family, Friends and Friends who feel like Family.

We sure have packed a good bit of quality time with people we love in the past two weeks…Rolf made it home safely from Rio after sharing a most incredible life experience with dear friends:

Goofing around in Rio with Ruben.

Oma came to Goleta and took on Rudy duty for a few days so I could visit my mom & extended family in Kansas:

Fun in Quinter, KS with Gma Jo and lifelong friend Eugenia!!
Good times in Goleta with Oma!

And Rudy’s godparents visited for a couple of days from San Diego!!!!!:

A whole lotta love from Marlin and Grace!

The visits have been brief for the most part but significant on so many levels and good for the soul nonetheless.  We are deeply blessed by the rich relationships in the life of our family and this whole summer, frankly, has been a big reminder of that.

I got home from KS on Sunday and our household jumped back into the swing of the new school year on Monday.  Max and Olivia were the first ones to go:

First day of school for Max and Olivia – August 22nd.
The taking of the traditional 1st day of school photo!
12th grader Maxo and 9th grader Olivia!
The big send-off by Wilson and Rudy…

Rudy was next:

Rudy’s 1st day of school – August 24th.
So, so happy to start another school year!
Rudy’s new teacher Ms. Ochoa and his aide Jennifer!
Ms. Ochoa rolled out the red carpet for her 2nd and 3rd graders…
1st day of 2nd grade!!!

Wilson left for APU on Thursday and starts his classes next week.  We’re heading down to Azusa on Sunday to take the rest of his things and say our official “goodbye”…it was hard to see him go after our fun family summer together but his excitement about getting back to campus and his friends made it a lot easier this time around.  🙂

We ended this crazy week with an appointment with Dr. Harake (SB Cardiologist).  We typically see Dr. Harake within a week of a cath but the appt wasn’t automatically generated after Rudy’s cath in July (as it typically is at the time of discharge) and I dropped the ball on our end as the summer filled up so today’s visit was a little over a month and a half LATE!!!  Yikes!!!  I felt a little irresponsible after talking with Dr. Harake’s office to set up the appointment earlier in the week.  Thankfully Rudy was fine and recovered well from his cath on July 8th but not scheduling a post-cath follow up with Dr. Harake isn’t something we should do in the future.

The discussion today was sobering.  Today’s echo showed that Rudy’s atrium is three times it’s normal size and is bigger than it was in May.  Our discussion turned to the cath results and how it effects where we go from here.  The cath showed that the pressure in Rudy’s lungs has lessened which is significant because Rudy’s high pulmonary pressure (known at pulmonary hypertension) has been a major factor in preventing him from having a successful Glenn and/or heart transplant.  Low pulmonary pressures potentially put surgical options back on the table for Rudy.  I think it’s fair to say that Dr. Harake sees this as a good thing but doesn’t necessarily see it as a green light for surgery.

The reality is that Rudy has been a high risk for surgery for more reasons than just pulmonary hypertension and those other factors are still present.  In addition to the risks that remain, there also remains the question whether or not the rate at which the Glenn will reduce the stress on Rudy’s heart is worth it.  In other words, can the Glenn reduce enough stress on the heart to make a noticeable difference?  Although it’s impossible to predict an outcome, it is possible to factor a general mortality rate given the variables with which we are working.  Dr. Harake encouraged us to think about what an acceptable mortality rate would be for us going into surgery.  That’s certainly a difficult question to answer…a tough process to wrap the brain around.  We haven’t heard back from the team at UCLA yet but Dr. Harake’s counsel is helpful and we pray the conference on Rudy’s case will bring some clarity.  We need good information in the midst of a confusing mountain of unknowns.

Dr. Harake also encouraged us to keep a close eye on ANY possible source of infection whether it be in his oral health or in the redness surrounding an elbow abrasion.  He warned us that a topical infection that enters the bloodstream will attack a vulnerable, compromised ventricle with deadly consequences and so it’s important for us to be vigilant in the prevention of infection.  (Yikes!)  We’ve always known this to be true but today’s warning felt more direct than usual…and heavy in light of everything else.  So, prayers for discernment and protection are at the top of the list…discernment in the decision-making process (still) and protection for Rudy’s heart in the meantime.   I’m ending the week zapped of energy and guarded…grateful but also concerned.  This journey sure can leave one feeling pretty manic/depressive from one day to the next so I’m praying for balance in the midst of conflicting reports as well as stability in this season of adjustments for the whole family.

Here’s one last look at summer:

Boy at the beach.

Happy “Back to School” dear ones!!!

Random Stuff…and Rio.

To say life has been a bit of a whirlwind the past couple of weeks would be an understatement…

…Rolf jetted off to Rio (Yep, I said Rio!!) 10 days ago to watch our goddaughter compete in the Olympics, Wilson headed down to Azusa for a couple of days to practice with his fellow campus worship team members for this next school year, Olivia trotted up to Mammoth with the DPHS XCountry team for a week of altitude training and Max has been working double shifts at Kyle’s.  Rudy and I?  Well, we’ve been holding down the fort at home and enjoying a few last minute visits with friends from LA and Orange County.  The fun doesn’t stop there though?  Rolf’s mom flew in yesterday for a couple of weeks, I’m headed to KS next week to visit my mom and the big kids start school the day after I get back!!!!  The end of summer is closing in fast!!  Boo Hoo…this mama is never ready for summer to end!!!

Our family will all be back under one roof tomorrow and the rest of us are eager to hear all about Rolf’s Rio Adventure…I’ll refrain from sharing too much about it now and let Rolf tell his own story but I will say that the highlight of the Olympic coverage for me the past 10 days was watching (our goddaughter) Maya’s response to each success she had…she swam four events, she won four medals (bronze, silver and 2 gold) and each time she was interviewed, she communicated gratitude for the experience and joy over Team USA’s overall success.  She thoroughly enjoyed the personal experiences she was having but always presented herself as a team player.  She was simply delightful to watch and I’m so proud of every expression, every gesture, every move I saw her make in this once in a lifetime opportunity…that’s a pretty remarkable thing to be able to say.  Congratulations Maya!  And THANK YOU…for representing well and glorifying God in the process!

Rudy cheering loud for Maya at home!!!
The Geyling family representative in Rio with 4-time Olympic medal winner Maya DiRado!

Soooo, now, it’s time to regroup, refocus and wrap our brains around the start of school…in less than two weeks.   Rudy has some big adjustments ahead.  He will be moving up to the next special ed day class at his school with a new teacher and older classmates, he will go from mainstreaming in a Kindergarten class to mainstreaming in a 2nd grade class and, most notably, he will have a new caregiver.  😦  Dear Nurse Sara accepted a position at our local hospital over the summer and won’t be returning to Mountainview.  We are so very thrilled for her but she will definitely be missed.

Some summer fun with Nurse Sara!
High 5 for being a GREAT NURSE!!! 🙂

With all that is going on at the end of our summer break, I won’t have the time to prepare our family for the start of school as I typically do so I’m praying now for prepared minds and hearts and all around good adjustments for all the kids.  Olivia and Max start classes at the high school (9th and 12th grade) on August 22nd, Rudy starts 2nd grade on August 24th and Wilson heads back to APU on the 25th.  (Big sigh!)  Oh well, summer was fun while it lasted!

Medical update:  We haven’t had any follow up with Rudy’s docs since last month’s cath so another BIG ITEM on my TO DO list when I get back from Kansas is to connect with Dr. Harake and hear his thoughts on the cath report.  As I mentioned before, I suspect we won’t be moving forward with surgery quickly but it’s important to keep the group discussions going…there is still much to process.  We sure appreciate your continued prayers!!!

Thank you and bless you friends!

Just because…this picture makes me smile!!

On The Road Again…Up With People Style!

Five years ago, I was gifted a surprise trip to Tucson to attend my 25yr Up With People Reunion…click here for more information about Reunion 2011!  Well, as hard as it is to believe, five years have passed already and last week marked my cast’s 30 year milestone!  Once again, Rolf and I packed our bags for what was sure to be another memorable trip.  What made this year’s experience even better than 5 years ago is the fact that I knew we were going so I had the pleasure of anticipating all the fun AND we made it a family road trip adventure!  So. special.

On the road and ready for some fun!

It’s impossible to have an UWP encounter and NOT come away with a deep, deep appreciation for the unique experience I shared with 120 cast members/staff 30 years ago.  Looking back on our yearlong, international tour, I’m amazed at the depth of friendship then and thrilled by the genuine friendship we still share thirty years later!  Cast C ’86  had over 50 cast members in attendance at this year’s reunion (a remarkable turnout) and it was an absolute JOY to squeeze every moment of our 3 days together to hug, reminisce, hug, catch up on family news, hug, share heartaches, hug, celebrate the triumphs and, most importantly, laugh (oh, and hug some more)!!!!  😉  At one point, as Wilson and I walked back to our room after a late night cast meeting, he said to me “Mom, it’s so fun watching you have so much fun!”.  So. sweet.

Cast C ’86 – 2016 Reunion attendees
Uppie offspring in attendance this year!

The highlight of the reunion for me was, by far, introducing my kids to this special group of friends and vice versa.  I can’t tell you how many times a cast member came up to the kids and said “you don’t know me, but I know who you are because I stalk your family on Facebook”.  ha ha  As I expected, my kids fell in love with this crazy extended family of mine and Rudy was thrilled with all the extra attention!!!

…a little love from Melanie…
…and Maria…
…and Annie O!
Fun with John the BEST Cast Rep of all time!!…
…and Danny the BEST tour bus driver (an honor shared with Floyd, of course)!
“Uncle” Jim…
…and “Uncle” Davey!
Shinanigans with Mike…
…and mischief with fellow offspring Alana and Hannah!

We managed to carve out some quality family time as well…

Dance Party!!!
Poolside BINGO (with Hannah too)!!!
Once an Uppie, always an Uppie!
“Beat of the Future”

After experiences like this, I can’t help but think about a prayer I prayed shortly after Rudy’s diagnosis and again after his open heart surgery when he encountered one set back after another…I prayed that he would live long enough to be known and that his life would be remembered!  🙂  That prayer continues to be answered…beyond my expectations.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to introduce Rudy and the big sibs to another special international community in my life.  Already looking forward to more memory making moments at #35!!!

Bye, Bye Tucson!!! We like your crazy cacti!!!