Well, "tomorrow" turned into over a week. My apologies for not updating sooner. From the time Leana was released until now has been  one continually whirlwind, and here, four days after we return home, life has finally slowed down enough to relax a little bit.

Leana was released on Saturday, a mere two days after her surgery! Praise the Lord! Her epidural came out about 24 hours after the operation, and like we suspected, she was much happier without it. Still, by that afternoon, she would start wailing every single time someone strange stepped into the room. Even if it was just a nurse to check a monitor. Understandably, 99% of the strangers she saw during that time did something scary or painful to her. It was SUCH a relief to all of us to leave that hospital!!

Two of Leana's main nurses. The one on the left was her main RN, and the one
on the right, the nurse practioner that monitored Leana's overall progress, and did
some of the more technical things like removing drain tubes, stitches, etc. Both were AMAZING! 
Leaving for hopefully the last time!
From there on out, we were able to enjoy our trip. I don't think either of us realized how stressful the surgery was going to be, and once it was behind us, we were finally able to relax. We enjoyed the hospitality of some friends for the weekend, then early Monday morning left to catch the 8:00 ferry to Vancouver Island. Butchart Gardens was first on our itinerary.

Boarding the ferry

So happy to be a family again!

We loved traveling through all these islands on the ocean

Butchart Gardens was more gorgeous than we ever could have dreamed. I hesitate to even share pictures, because they hardly scratch the surface and do even a tiny bit of justice. The place is truly a work of art, and quite worthy to be a national attraction. :-)

That evening we headed to the city of Victoria where we spent the night. That night and the entire next day we spent just wandering through all the little shops, touring the parliament buildings, trying all sorts of unique foods, enjoying a boat tour, watching street performers, and just enjoying each other. The stress literally rolled right off of us, and we throughly enjoyed our time!

Victoria Parliament. I truly enjoyed learning more about Canadian history! 

He will pose with you if you throw money in his bucket. And yes, Leana was
terrified of him!

We enjoyed an anniversary dessert at the famous Empress Hotel. This was called
"Empressive Sundae" and it completely lived up to it's name. Truly a work of art!

The H20 ferry we took around the harbour. 

Beautiful view of the harbour at night!

Celebrating TWO years!!
Tuesday evening we headed back to the mainland, and Wednesday morning Leana had her follow-up appointment. All checked out well, and we were given clearance to return home!

Can't say enough good about Connie! She has the gift of making you feel so
special and cared for! She is in the right job for sure!
And finally, Leana's surgeon, Dr. Sanjiv Ghandi. He did a WONDERFUL job
both times with Leana, and we are so grateful for his care and expertise!

So, we are home now, and have been frantically trying to catch up with lawn and garden work. This time of year is SO busy! I can't say how long it will be until I post again - most likely this fall once the canning and freezing has slowed down. 

Thank you to each of you that prayed again for our little girl!

Another Surgery Day's Experiences

Because Leana's case was the less major of the two surgeries her surgeon performed yesterday, it was second, being scheduled for noon. In ways it gave us a more relaxing morning, but was also more challenging because of having many more waking hours to keep Leana happy while fasting. 

Stress built as her surgery was delayed and delayed, but we sensed prayers strongly as Leana did amazingly well despite having not eaten anything for 18 hours. She finally went in close to 3:00.

Her surgery went without any complications, and we were able to see her in recovery room about 2-1/2 hours later. She did not have to go to ICU this time, which was a huge plus. She was awake when we saw her, and a little sad, but soon fell back asleep. As it was going to be 90 minutes before she went to her ward, the nurses suggested we go for supper as she was resting well. This was nice in a small way, but I found it hard to relax, wondering if Leana was awake and needing me.

My suspicious were confirmed when we got to her room to find an inconsolable baby that had been screaming for 20 minutes. She calmed down immediately when I got there, but I felt so, SO bad that I not been there for her when she needed me. Situations like this are tough - there are definitely times when you need to step out, but it's always a guessing game when is the appropriate time to leave and how quickly to rush it. 

The rest of the evening was pretty good for her, but around 10:00 she starting reacting to some of the pain meds. I guess a common side effect is very itchy skin, and it's hit her hard - especially in her eyes. Poor baby - she didn't sleep from midnight to around 7:00am, while I tried everything I could think of to help her, and the nurse juggled meds trying to make her comfortable. 

There are no words to describe the helplessness I felt. Watching your baby suffer so much, combined with physical and emotional exhaustion made me feel nearly as needy as her. It was a good reminder to me of my need for God's grace, not just when I feel I desperately need it, but all the time!

This morning she's been amazingly alert and active, despite her lack of sleep. She's still suffering with her itchy eyes, but has been sitting up in bed and playing with toys. SO much different than her heart surgery. All that said, this incision cut a lot more muscle that her heart surgery, and will be a more painful recovery. She's had an epidural block up until now, which will be coming out shortly. It should help her itchiness, but I think she will also be a lot more sore.

The doctors are optimistic that she will be released tomorrow. That would be wonderful! Her stroller will become invaluable after that time. We are tentatively planning on traveling to Victoria for our anniversary, (ferry ride away) and she likes nothing better when she is not feeling well than to be pushed around and see things. It's a double bonus that it reclines for sleeping and is literally her home away from home! Nothing could be more ideal than our location, weather, and the time slot between her release and follow-up appointment. 

I'll try and update again tomorrow. 

Pre-op and tomorrow's surgery

It was a strange feeling to again walk into BC Chilldren's Hospital today, stop to get our cup of coffee at Second Cup, and then proceed into the waiting room of the heart centre only to find the same nurses at the counter.  The main nurse's eyes lit up when she saw us, and as she came over to give me a warm hug and say hello, I was again amazed at the quality, personal care this hospital offers. 

Though today was still a long ordeal test-wise, it went so much smoother than last time. We were more comfortable with things, didn't have long wait times at lab and chest x-ray, and didn't have to go through tours, etc. Leana did super well, napping at the most convenient times and being happy and sweet when it was appropriate. :-) 

All in all, the surgery is pretty straightforward and simple, but we are sad over the fact that her recovery will be much more painful due to many more muscles being gone through at this particular entry. Particular prayer would be requested that it wouldn't be too traumatic for her and us. The surgery is scheduled for noon here tomorrow.

Today was also filled with a couple fun memories. We decided to be brave, and went to a sushi restaurant for the first time for lunch. Our only regret is that we hadn't done it sooner! It was simply amazing.

This afternoon, after all her Pre-op was done, we turned some local botanical gardens. It was relaxing, refreshing, and gorgeous! Maybe someday, we'll just come to BC for a vacation! It's that nice!

Vancouver-Bound Again

In just a few hours, we again board a plane to take our little girl to Vancouver for surgery. It's hard to believe it was almost 6 months ago that she underwent her heart surgery. She has recovered SO well, and in her follow-up exams, the Dr's say that her patch looks perfect. We praise the Lord for such clear answers to pray.

In some of her follow-up chest x-rays after her surgery, another birth abnormality was found - something called a vascular ring. It may or may not cause problems in the future, but as a precaution, her surgeon would like to fix it.

That surgery is scheduled for Thursday, and we would appreciate you lifting up Leana and the surgeons during that time! Though this is not nearly as serious of a surgery, our hearts are still hurting at the thought of Leana having to go through anything more. A speedy recovery and not much pain is what we are really longing for!

We're hoping to also have some good, memory-making times as well. We are coming up on our second anniversary next week, and plan to do some special things while in the Canadian Rockies. I'm sure my camera will be very busy!

Happy 1st Birthday, Princess!

Three years ago...

...on this very spot, Joel and my pathways crossed! Now, three years later, we are a ridiculously happy family of three!

Summer Snapshots

At a rather unique garage sale this last Spring, we picked up an iPad. Among it's many handy uses in our home and travel, it's given me a new motivation for daily writing. My trusty paper journal is still in its drawer besides our bed and is pulled out on occasion, but life recently has not allowed for the 30 minutes I usually spend in deep pondering and writing each time I pick it up. Along comes this handy journal app, and coupled with my fast typing speeds, I'm finding real enjoyment in recording the little treasures and milestones each day brings.

It's really forcing me to daily acknowledge with gratefulness all the blessings God has poured on us. That's a good thing, let me tell you! Especially when dealing with not so easy days, it's easy to forget how much I have. 

Want to take a little picture walk with me through a few of those memories of the last while?

Gardening. We had a very harsh winter this past year, and a season that stretched almost a month late. This picture was taken over a week into JUNE when we were finally able to plant our little plot. My wonderful husband tilled, and helped me plant the majority of it. So wonderful, especially as I was dealing with a two-week long virus at that point. And yes, he is carrying Leana in the Ergo baby carrier! 

At another garage sale last Spring, a lady was just setting out dozens of planters at the end of her driveyway. We stopped to look at them, shocked to find out she was GIVING them away! These three are my favorites of them all. I am SO enjoying all the flowers I was able to fill our deck with this year.

My little garden girl. She loves playing on the deck while I'm hanging out laundry or watering my planters. She is truly the joy and sunshine of our life!

We've had several interesting storm systems come through this year. This one didn't do any damage, fortunately, but one of the next ones held severe hail that literally left piles on our deck and a very sad looking garden. Despite how hopeless it looked, it has recovered quite well, and all that I lost in the end was a few cucumber plants.

I love the rainbows God brings after storms - be they physical storms, or ones in our life.

Summer deliciousness. Especially when it is shared with family!

Fun, FUN baby times!

Special times with Daddy!

Saskatoon picking for the first time in my life!

And the simple, amazing joy of just being together as a family!

11 Months

Inspirations and Aspirations

It was the day that is the highlight of every piano teacher's year. The Spring Recital. In this case, a combination of nervousness and excitement affected both student and teacher alike. Despite having stood before audiences ranging from a few intimate friends to a few thousand, butterflies were still in my stomach. I whispered to Joel right before it started that I was more nervous about having to stand in front of all these parents and their friends and say something than I was about playing the 3-minute Haydn sonata at the end., public speaking is something I would love to be better at, but my dislike of being in the center of attention kind of sabotages any degree of comfort I may otherwise feel. 

Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories include lessons, recitals, and practice times, and I can distinctly remember working in some of the very same lesson books I now teach my very young students out of. Lessons for me started at the age of 5, and I was extremely blessed to have a teacher that had a passion for making music FUN for young children. Wow! She still inspires me today, especially during those lessons when I'm tempted to crack down into the "business, let's-get-it-done" mode with my littles. 

She was the one that coached me through hours of practicing scales, arpeggios, and chord sequences that long summer when I took lessons to prepare for an orchestra audition. "Knight Ruppert" still brings up memories of sitting before that orchestra conductor, hoping beyond hope that I would be accepted. As I comfortably played through every scale he requested, he commented that he was confident I could do whatever he asked. My mind immediately flew with gratefulness for the effort my teacher had put in to make sure I knew those techniques flawlessly before I ever stepped foot into that audition room. 

That late summer grass crunched under my bare feet several weeks later, as I once again dashed to the mailbox hoping that the results of my audition would be there. That day it was, and I didn't even wait to get back to the house before tearing that letter open. Screams of delight followed as I flew back across that grass to show my family that coveted acceptance letter. My heart didn't stop pounding and racing for weeks!

The next three years playing in that orchestra proved to be the greatest period of growth for me musically. That beloved teacher passed me on to another, as she realized she had come to the end of what she could give me. My half-hour practice sessions turned into a daily 3-5 hours, and I soaked up the new relationship that was budding with the teacher I was driving 45 minutes to weekly. She was equally inspiring to me as my first teacher. I was beyond the "needing-fun" stage, and she gave me the quality of teaching from her vast experience that my drive and ambition was needing. Her ever present patience with my desire to play everything too fast is remarkable still to me today. Her friendship, and emphasis on playing for the Lord is still something I treasure and strive to pass onto my students. 

Now, in the blink of an eye, I find myself in the teacher role. Sitting in the audience at the recital, watching my students play, with my mouth as dry as I'm sure there's must have been. Knowing they are going to pull it off, but feeling with them in the process. Basking in their satisfaction as their hard work well pays off. 

I loved being a piano student, but I've decided that I think I love being a teacher more. As I've reflected recently on my two piano teachers, I am equally inspired by both to give both quality, fun, and my 100% effort to my students. I want to help them fall in love with the gift of music as much as I was encouraged to do. I want them to not only strive for quality for the sheer joy of it, but also to know that Christ delights in their effort as the Author of music.

Starting all eight of these young people from square one has been such a delightful challenge, and I love watching them grow by leaps and bounds! I love my students, and I look forward to many more years, Lord willing, of being involved in their lives.

Me N' My Girlie

Technologically Advanced Baby

"Playing" piano on our garage sale find ipad. 

Watching a baby sign language DVD!

Gotta have the snacks to support all this heavy-duty learning!

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