Friday, June 27, 2008

Emma's 7th Birthday!!!

June 27, 2001 Emma Marie Welch was born 3 days early, surprising us all . She was a sweet beautiful baby girl. I can't believe that was 7 years ago.
Today we woke up to an 80* beautiful day and to celebrate Miss Emma's 7th birthday we went to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. It's about an hour away, and was well worth all of the lunch packing and preparing. WE spent 6 hours there and we all had fun. WE walked the whole time and saw everything from sharks to the walrus exhibit to the elephants.
Some of the highlights to our kiddo's were :
the Kid Zone where they climbed and played and saw some small creatures bugs, frogs and a Manta Ray. We had to pry them away. It was the first thing we went to and they did not want to leave it. Scott and I were doing all we could to get the kiddo's to see that the entire Zoo was still there waiting to be explored. Nolen LOVED this area. The climbing area was about 30 feet long and reminded us all of Ninja Warrior, which we love.
the Walrus exhibit Mia was sitting watching them swim around and instantly all 3 of them were sitting on the embankment right in front of her and if the glass weren't there she would have been nose to nose with them. amazing.
the beluga whales The talk was great and the children all loved to hear about all they could do and to see the trainers working with them. They loved the jumps and the splashes and to hear all of the sounds the make. Titus could not believe that they weren't sharks, and we couldn't convince him. Whenever they came near he would start jumping and laughing, it was so cute.
The elephants the mere size and massiveness of them was a lot for the children and Emma loved them.
The highlight was one of the last thing that we saw : a little family of 5 river otters. They ran around and swam and were so funny. They were just placed in an environment with some goat-like creatures and they weren't sure about them. Whenever they walked near the otters they would turn around and tumble away. They were hilarious. None of us wanted to leave. Nadia loved watching Ty jump and laugh at the otters, she was belly laughing. It was cute.
The whole place was so kid-friendly that our children had a blast.
We were all wiped out afterwards and couldn't even make it to dinner out for Emma's birthday so instead we got KFC on the way home in Gig harbor and ate it at home while watching the M's game. We then played croquet on the lawn and everyone wore their new Point Defiance tee's (Mia and Ty monkeys, Emma tiger and Nolen shark) to bed. Another great day. Blessings.

Poulsbo Thursday!!

We had another relaxing morning. Scott and Nolen headed off to Silverdale mall for some father and son time and the girls kicked out some school work some reading and Ty did some great dot-to-dot lacings in construction vehicle shapes (great for teaching small motor skills and number recognition. I loved it, it reminded us of our homeschool days, on which we will ever look fondly. Well after all that we went on another fun road trip to Poulsbo. We walked all over the main street and I took the children into all of my favorite stores including Slu
ys (see above photo). The best bakery on earth, they actually have lefse!!! We went to the lotion store and the kitchen store and the book store and I told the stories of the days I remember there as a child. We had a great time. We walked down the path to the play area that I played in as a child (though now it's much safer with all sorts of precautions taken to preserve the children's tender skin in case they fall. Again, how did I survive!?) We also went to the shore. The Poulsbo waterfront is TOTALLY different than the Silverdale waterfront as a dog from a cat (only more so ) . There is so much MUD. We squelched our way out to the rocks and the muscle beds and turned all the rocks over to find huge colonies of hermit crabs. Now, Titus is not a crab person. He leaves that to the sisters and he and Nolen have rock throwing contests. They chuck them in to make the biggest splash. Nolen is a great big brother. We finished it off with a picture of the Children next to the bronze Viking and hopping on the pylons in front of the stage. Pure Bliss.
We went home and Scott mowed the lawn the children and I cleaned the bathrooms and we relaxed for the rest of the night.

Family Vacation strikes again!

Well, since the last thing most of you heard we were planning a two week trip to Montana I though I should update you on the changes in our adventure.
Monday we folded up our table in Wenatchee and after much fussing and cleaning headed out to Spokane 6 hours after we were hoping to. It took 4 hours and two stops and we arrived. Our hotel was really nice, and after switching rooms with my parents we got settled. 10 minutes later we got a call from the front desk with a noise complaint. Ugh! We packed up our thrilled children and headed down to the much anticipated POOL!!! We had so much fun swimming until the fire alarm went off. Evidently someone had tried to nuke their free hotel cookie and scorched it, nice. Amy was excited to discover that since the elevator's weren't working, she got a free ride up the stairs by the cute firemen that came to check out the alarm. We joked around about planning it to put her trip out on the right foot.
Well after talking all night and recalculating the driving time (could it really be 40 +hours?!?!?!?) and talking through the amount of children that our kids would be able to play with we decided to "change horses mid stream" . We scrapped Plan A wonderful family trip to Montana and replaced it with wonderful family trip to Silverdale and surrounding vicinity.
Tuesday We . . . .
Packed up our bags and checked out of the hotel. Ate dinner at Olive Garden and went to Mobius (check it out at a children's interactive museum. I highly recommend it. When Scott and Michelle went I was having trouble wrapping my mind around the concept, but intrigued. If you have kids and are in Spokane GO!!! It is well worth it. Our children had so much fun and they all played hard, from Nolen to Nadia.
We drove to Silverdale to stay at my parents house and arrived at 11:30pm. We unloaded and went to bed.
We had a lazy morning and planned a relaxing day. We ate a breakfast of our new Welch family favorite (thanks to Michelle for my **NEW** ebelskiver pan) EBELSKIVERS!!! We headed down to Silverdale first to the Learning Tree to get some Bridge books for the summer. I love these books because they are light weight compared to TRA and they are all comprehensive, so we don't have to have more than 1 book. Then... to the shore (aka Silverdale waterfront park) and played in the uber-safe new play area (how did I survive my childhood playing on the swing set with the gravel underneath!?) And then we turned over almost every rock and caught every crab and ohhed and ahhed over every shell on the beach! I loved it. There is nothing better than your children loving what are the places of your fondest memories, and I have some wonderful memories there. It is gorgeous. Did I mention that it was 80*? Lovely. We left there and headed over to the Silverdale Library to sign the children up for the Summer reading program and to get some book for their daily reading. Now even though these two places sound simple and mild. . . .They are two of my favorite places in Silverdale. They are repleat with memories, I could wax nostalgic for many a page, but alas. .. We also stopped by a little childrens consignment store that was planning a $! sale the next Friday.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Here is a picture of Emma the morning of her surgery with the small cup of apple juice that she was aloud to drink. Notice the FOUL weather behind the car. UGH! It was so awful while we were in Seattle.

Here is Emma a week after her heart surgery. She could NOT wait for THIS day. It was all she was talking about the entire week. Notice the beautiful weather in Wenatchee. What a difference. We have been so blessed by the experience. God is good and everything is in HIS control. WOW.
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Emma at the Seattle Aquarium before her surgery.
Emma being cleaned by the Aquarium diver.
Emma loved the Touch Tanks. They were packed full of sea life and she had so much fun touching everything. She was surprised that all of the creatures felt so different.
Here is Emma with a Giant Squid.
This picture was so sweet, I just had to post it.
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These dear friends came just to cheer Emma up and encourage her before we left for Seattle! What great girls! We love those Millards!
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Lazy day . . .

Well, today was a lazy day after the craziness of the past few. Wednesday morning started out restfully and we had a plan to have a really easy day before we went to the hospital at 11:15. Our hotel was located right across the street from the Barnes and Noble and Starbucks (Scott and I have a STRICT no hotel coffee policy), so we went for a relaxing walk and had coffee and looked for some good books. As we were finishing up we got a call from the hospital telling us that Dr. Chun had finished early, and asking if we could come in early. Our Easy morning just kicked into overdrive with the distinct possibility of us leaving the hospital that night soaring into view. We got to the hospital quickly and checked in and had Emma ready and changed in no time flat. All of her stuffed animals got name bracelets and went with her to the operating room. She made the doctor's and the nurses pictures of her heart and had filled in all of the details including where she thought the pathway was that was causing the Tachycardia. Well, the odds of her being right were slight. And the first thing the doctor told us afterwards was that she was! She actually predicted where it would be and was right. The procedure took about 4 and a half hours. Before it started I went back into the OR with Emma and helped her up on the operating table and the anesthesiologist talked us both through the procedure of her falling asleep as she smelled the mask to make sure it smelled okay. When she went to sleep I gave her one last kiss and walked shakily out to the waiting area with Scott. Before I left I reminded them to tell the doctor to 'save the princess'. We walked immediately down to the cafeteria and it struck me that through this bustling group of people that they all had no idea what was happening. My daughter was having heart surgery, and no one seemed to notice. We went down, got our food and sat for a moment. Our beeper then went off. It had only been about 15 minutes, so my heart sank, and Scott (knowing me as well as he does) said (reassuringly) that it was probably the Helsels (as they were planning on meeting us at the hospital). It was, and we spent our time waiting and talking with Gene, Ellen and Rachael.
We were called back to the small doctor/patient room and a half an hour later Dr. Chun came in and we heard the first details of what happened. Emma went into Tachycardia right after the first cath. went in and they were able to triangulate the general area of the pathway right away. The rest of the time was spent checking her heart for other pathways and then fixing the defective part (that took a mere 2 seconds) and then rechecking to make sure that they got everything. Since she was so much smaller than they anticipated they had to put 4 instead of 3 cath's in to do the job.
One of the things that we were most concerned about was her being sick due to the anesthesia. Well when we first saw her she has already had 2 popsicles and RED lips. She was a bit groggy, but the biggest struggle was the fact that she had to lie still for 4 more hours. I had better post, this is getting long, and Nadia needs me. I will finish later so for now we will just say TO BE CONTINUED . . .

Monday, June 9, 2008

The best day of my life!!!

Exclaimed Emma as we finished our walk through the Seattle Aquarium this morning. We had so much fun! I had a feeling that my sweet girl would love it. 
We started out late (of-course) but I was OPTIMISTIC!!!! We went to Sluys bakery in Poulsbo for a bakery treat to start our day. NUM!!!! Victory #1. Then we jumped on the ferry to Seattle. Scott and Emma relaxed in the boat for some father daughter time while Nadia slept and I schemed. The aquarium opened at 9:30 and it looked like we were actually going to get there on time! I called and asked the manager if they would be willing to gift our admission to us. They DID!! I was in shock! We had sooo much fun there. Emma went from animal to animal with the worlds biggest smile on her face. Mother look! Father come here quick! Hurry Hurry Hurry!!!! Were some of the comments that she made while we were there. We ate lunch there in the cafe and then made our way to Childrens. Did I mention the crazy rain? It was POURING and WINDY. 

We got to Children's with plenty of time to spare and enjoyed our time, since we were able to relax and weren't rushed at all.  Emma was ready to talk to Dr. Chun, and when he finally came in to talk to her she had a lot of questions for him. Emma is the type of girl that want's to know EXACTLY what is going to be happening and what will be used and what will happen when it's done. She asked to see the catheters and to know where the surgery was going to take place and if the anesthesiologist would know if she was going to wake up BEFORE she woke up. We got to play with the instruments and he told us all of the great details. 

When we were done at Childrens (no cell coverage in the hospital at all) I had a voicemail telling us that we had a place to stay!! It is the University Travel Lodge right down the street from the hospital and Barnes and Noble.  We found it pretty easily and then headed over to B&N for some relaxing time. We walked around in the rain for awhile and then tried to find a place to sit down and eat. Since we had no luck we decided to call the one person who would not only be able to show us around Seattle but locate a great place to eat seafood as well. Emma was craving some fish!! We called Rachael Helsel! We met her at her house and Who answered the door but Bree Flones! Emma was really excited to see them and was bouncing up and down and screaming for joy when they came out to the car. Rachel hopped in with us and we ended up in Ballard. We had so much fun at dinner. Rachael told her that she was going to come to the hospital to see her tomorrow,and Emma didn't quite understand why Rachael was going to be there TOO. She got extremely concerned and asked if she was having surgery tomorrow. Oh, that girl. Emma found a buddy. 

Well, I will hopefully update tomorrow eve. I think we will all end up  at the hospital tomorrow night, I'll let you all know.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

no room at the Inn

Dear All~
I just found out that there is no room for us at the Ronald McDonald house so I am not sure what to do next. I am trying to make some contacts through ideas they gave me, but I don't know what will happen tomorrow when I get to actually talk to a real human being. PRAY HARD ABOUT THIS!!!
We had a good day otherwise and Emma is still very optimistic and ready for the surgery. Tomorrow at 1pm we have our appointment with the doctor and some preliminary tests. Pray taht it doesn't bring on any fear or worry with Emma or any of us. It is dreary and rainy here in Silverdale and the children have been playing like crazy since we got here. They love being here.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hey all!

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Makin' a splash!

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Ode to The Morris Girls

Four sisters, four families, four different lives. For as long as I can remember my mom and her three sisters (the Morris girls) have been drawn to each other every summer. From the time that I became conscience of what was going on the yearly reunion has been one to look forward to. My Aunties would come with their families from Montana, Oregon, and we would come from Washington to talk, to act like girls, to forget for a moment their lives and cares and worries and BE SISTERS.
When we went to Oregon we shopped, and talked and toured around and we ate. Not just normal quantities of food, but mass quantities. Our parents got to go out and pretend, for a brief moment, that this was their normal life. A night out with your sister and her husband, bliss. They could pick up where they left off and for them it was a fluid procedure. In moments from our arrival they would be sipping a cold soda and laughing, reminiscing about old times and working through life’s newest curveballs.
When everyone came to Washington it was the same, but felt very different. I would wake up the next morning to find cousins everywhere. Notably my mom would float down the stairs with a big smile on her face. More food, more shopping. As an adult I still marvel at how they pulled off that much food. Three years ago my daughters’ birthdays fell during reunion week at my parents house. I was brought to tears at how my family loved my girls. From the oldest to the youngest cousins they brought gifts and hugs and laughter to their special day. They were surrounded by not only their grandma but three others who hugged and praised and loved them completely.
In Montana it all felt a bit different. That is where it all began. That is where they were young sisters together and where memories are around every bend in the road. My parents traveled that road so many times before I was born I think they could still do it with their eyes closed. We would arrive at my Aunt’s home in a small town in Montana almost doubling the population.
There are two things that have become family reunion staples. The craft and making the Christmas list. My mom, as oldest, has become its sacred keeper. One of the sisters chooses a craft for them all to do together. Except when it’s Auntie Jackie’s turn, it is well established that her craft is back massages. We love it when it’s Jackie’s turn.
I have learned a lot from these reunions. That the drive can be fun, too. That you can grill pancakes (with the right tools of course). Finally, God is good, and the bond that you create in your children when they’re young will be with them forever and will be so strong that they will again pass it on to their children.

Emma Marie Welch, Superchick!

So many have you have asked about our daughter the amazing the fabulous, the beautiful Emma that I wanted to update you all on how she’s doing. About 2 weeks ago Emma was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia. It is caused by an electrical short circuit in her heart that randomly will cause her heart to beat at around 250 bpm. The normal heart rate for an active 6 year old is around 100. Her heart begins beating so fast that it cannot relax between beats or fill with enough blood to meet her body’s needs. Since it is completely random and not caused by her activity level (though she thinks it is, and we cannot convince her otherwise) it is really frightening for her. This has not been going on long, but we have been in contact with a cardiology team from Children’s in Seattle and due to the delayed onset of it we can know that it will neither lighten up or go away on its own. If we do nothing Emma will grow up with frequent visits to the ER (I'm talking around 2-3 per month. In these visits the ER doc's will have to STOP her heart with medicine that is not itself with out risks to her, so that it will start back into a normal sinus rythem. I personally CANNOT do this. I am not supermom nor am I great with needles of any kind in me or others.) to get her heart rate back down, but with the surgery that she will be having on Tuesday June 10th at Children’s Hospital in Seattle she will be completely cured. The surgeon, Dr. Terrance Chun, does this procedure 3-6 times a week and last year alone did it around 150 times. He has been doing it 150 times a year for 5 years at Childrens in Seattle alone. The procedure is called a radiofrequency ablation, which uses electrode catheters to find and destroy the tissue that is causing the rapid heartbeat. The tissues involved and the abnormal pathways causing the problems are invisible to the naked eye. The bottom line is that God is good to show us the problem now and how to treat it. Emma is very optimistic and so are we. She does NOT want to have any more IV's and personally I can't blame her. Please pray for an easy visit to Children’s as well as wisdom for Dr. Chun and peace for Emma, Scott and I. Since the surgery is on her heart there are pretty serious risks involved, so please pray that Emma’s heart remains uninjured throughout the surgery and that her surgery sites (there will be 3 Inserted through IV-like pathways in 3 major arteries) will heal quickly.

We are staying with my parents (in Silverdale) for a few days afterwards so Emma will have a peaceful place to rest and recuperate. We are hoping to really use this 1 on 1 time with Emma for all it's worth. We are planning a trip with her to the Seattle Aquarium and the Ol' Spaghetti factory, though she doesn't know it yet. We are just following the lead of CJ Mahaney in his great tips for a vacation to remember. Hopefully Emma will look back on this time not with fear, but joy in the time we spent with her. Maybe I will have to post some pic's of Miss. Emma and the creatures at the Aquarium.

Thank you so much for your love for our family and for your prayers for our sweet daughter.