Thursday, September 11, 2014

in sickness and in health......

 Chris and I celebrated 16 years of marriage this past August. We are a great team, our marriage has never been one that "needs work" it's just kind of unfolded along the journey. But despite how good things are for us and how deep our love is studies tell us 80% of marriages with medically fragile children end in divorce.

 I remember 10 months ago sitting in a rocking chair in our room on the heart unit when our clinic nurse came in and pulled up a chair to talk. She tried the best she could to lay out what raising a child like Henry would be like. She gave a small list of things to do and not do, things to not worry about and things to worry about. Then she said "you guys need to take care of each other, this isn't going to be easy".
I brushed her off, don't be crazy she has no clue who we are and how strong our marriage is. She left the room with Chris' chair in front of mine.  Seamus sleeping on his chest, Henry in my arms with so many lines. I looked him in the eyes and whispered "we can do this....right?"  ~sigh~ little did we know what the next ten months would look like.

In sickness and in health.... never did it cross my mind that those vows would be because of the health of my child.  We saw very fast when you have a child with complex needs your marriage all of a sudden takes a back seat and it takes deliberate focus to bring it back to priority. We need to remind our selves that our marriage is the glue that holds this family together.
It's no shock the added stresses, rigorous 24hr around the clock med schedule, saturation monitoring, are his lips blue, work of breathing, feeding pump rates, vomiting endless vomiting, tubes being pulled out, surgeries, transfers you get the idea...

When your child has significant medical needs you need a divide and conquer plan. For us this looked like Chris taking care of all the logistics and I take care of the babies. Chris does the night tube feeds while I pump.  We survive on very little sleep but we are finding ways to connect during those middle of the night times. You can often find Chris snapping photo's with his cell phone of sleeping babies at 2am.

We have also found it's vital for us to have alone time and decompress. That looks different for both of us. For me it comes in the form of homeschool meetings and out for coffee. 

For Chris is looks like grabbing one of our teens and going to a movie. We both come back feeling energized and ready to keep going. Every couple is different but for us we know how important it is to remember who we are. Most of all it's important to have GRACE and lots of it... The Frozen song "Fixer Upper'" says it perfect  "you make bad choices if your mad, scared, or stressed" We refuse to be a statistic! This is part of God's perfect plan for our family and while in moments of fear it's easy to forget, God has had mercy on us and allowed us to have our bad days opposite of each other so we are there for one another.

It take continuous, vigilant effort but it is so worth it to beat those odds.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Flat Stanley Surprise!

One of our dearest nurses for our baby Henry has become very close to my heart.
Kathryn has stood beside me many sleepless nights as we stared at heart monitors with O2 levels dropping dangerously low. She listens to me pour out my fears, she has stood at the elevators saying good bye as we are medi vac to Children's Hospital and welcomed us home when we were transferred back.   She has loved Henry from the beginning but not only Henry but our whole family.. When Henry required home nursing care she jumped on it to be in my home. She was  perfect!

This past week she left for a month long trip to Europe, I felt like her Mama worried sick about this adventure she was about to take but so excited for her at the same time.
 Last week we awoke to a surprise message from our dear Kat.
I asked my little ones if there is anything they want me to tell her and little Jude replied "When is she coming home?" It's been a week and already I am being asked how many more sleeps until
Kathryn is home.

Hey there Brown family!! It's Flat Stanley and I caught a ride with Kathryn to visit Europe with her! We flew on 2 planes: one really small and one really really big! Like bigger than your house big! And then we had to walk...a lot...and an underground train that goes super fast! And then we got to sleep in hotel room with 4 beds, all just for us!! It's another day of adventure tomorrow and I'll send you another message when I can! Bye 

Hey there Brown family! So I know that it seems like I just wrote the other message to you but I was late with that one so I'm catching up now! Today Kat and I went to Buckingham Palace where the Queen lives!! It was soooooooo big! Way than our gigantic plane yesterday. But they wouldn't let us take pictures of the inside so I had to wait until we left to get a photo with Kat. And I didn't get to see the Queen or any of the royal family, not even a royal puppy. But I did see a squirrel in the royal gardens, do you think that counts?? I think it should. I'm not sure what we're going to do next but I will send you another message when I can! Bye 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Homeschooling, unschooling, deschooling, back-to-schooling - whatever it may be

It's that time of year when summer starts to fade and the morning greets you will a frosty chill. Where every morning you do a dance of should we light a fire or throw on another layer?

 Im slowly putting together our fall schedule of classes and activities. It's a full schedule with teens middles, littles and babies. Like most changing seasons it seems impossible to avoid the busyness as they grow. It's all good - a pleasure, really - to watch it all unfold. 

This week was our official back to school week, once again as we opened fresh packs of pencils and markers I was reminded of this lifestyle we live.... To allow our natural family rhythm to lead us.
Our morning starts with a warm breakfast and animal chores to follow. There is wood to be chopped and stacked, books to be read, soup to be made... and then of course medical appointments to make it too.  As I sit here with my steamy hot tea and a baby bedside me playing with lids I breath a deep breath of contentment. We are home.

this moment....

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Learning Room

After a year of not using our basement I finally got it all ready to start school this week.
I am really looking forward to this year. Austin is in grade 10 enrolled in the grad program, is working part time. He just makes me smile, I am so proud of him. I am LOVING these years of teens. I love babies but gosh if I knew teens were so awesome!
Zac is in grade 9 and our goal this year is to overcome some medical issues he's dealing with and be ready for next year. He is a fantastic young man.
Natalie is in grade 6, Presley grade 4, Rachael, 2, and Jude Kindergarten. How is my Jude in Kindy already?! Hannah will be busy being 3 and Henry will have full time nursing during school hours and Seamus with be with us.
Did I mention I am so excited about this year?!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Hat Creek Ranch

                                                                        Gold panning.

              A stage coach ride. The children adored this family day trip as they all are Little house on the Prairie fanatics.  We have visited the Ranch many times before but we have never done a guided tour, that was a great way to learn different tid bits we didn't know.
 Hat Creek Ranch is a historical park that happens to be apart of our family's history. This house the children are sitting outside of is the home of their Gr. X 3 Grandmother Sophia. Her children  are famous for being some of the most dangerous outlaws of the gold rush. Brothers Allan, Charles and Archie McLean: The McLean Gang terrorized Kamloops, B.C., in the late 1870s, stealing everything from horses and liquor to ammunition. When the law came after them, the McLeans shot their way through, eventually killing two men, including a police constable. Eventually caught and convicted—the jury took 20 minutes to reach a verdict—they were hanged together in New Westminster in 1881.

Friday, August 15, 2014

this moment

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.