Saturday, August 30, 2014

Indappendix Day

July 4, 2014 will forever go down in Clapp Family history.  In our family, we have proclaimed it "Indappendix Day".   I know this is a milestone event in Sam's life that he will never forget, but I want to record the details for him.  I am pretty sure he was so delirious at points that there are many things he may not remember.  
The story began at 5:00 AM the morning of July 3. Sam woke me up complaining of a stomach ache.  My first thought was, "GREAT, just what we need before we leave for Africa, a stomach virus"(our trip was only 2 days away).  The last thing I wanted was to be battling that while we were on an airplane!!  It wasn't long before he started vomiting.  It was violent, and he had multiple episodes.  Looking back now, I can remember how uncomfortable he was.  He could not get comfortable and experienced no relief between episodes.  He also developed some diarrhea.  This went on until about 1:00PM.   Then, he seemed to be over the worst of it.  He settled down and took a long nap.  

The really tricky thing was that Cody started feeling kind of icky that afternoon.  So, it seemed logical that we were dealing with a typical stomach virus.  He never threw up and now, looking back, I think he was just exhausted, but, at the time, it made sense.  Sam woke up and said he was feeling a little better.  He even ate some pasta.  As the evening approached, he kept saying, "I feel a little better, but my side just really hurts(pointing to his right side).  I thought, it was probably just a pulled muscle from all the vomiting.  

We progressed through the evening and he kept complaining about his side.  At one point, my mom said, "Do you think it could be his appendix?"  I was like, "No Way!  Besides, we are going to Africa in 2 days!"  BUT, I couldn't get that thought out of my mind.  You see, appendicitis runs in Rick's family.  No one in Rick's or his siblings' families had ever had it, but his brother did at this age and some cousins and their kids have.  So, I decided to google it.  I know that can be dangerous, but I am really glad I did.  As I read the symptoms and thought through our day, I was getting concerned.  I decided to take his temperature.  He had a low grade fever.  He hadn't had one all day.  Then, I checked it every half hour and it was getting higher.  His pain was increasing.  The real kicker was that when I pressed on it, he had rebound pain, hurting worse when I let go than when I pushed down.  Rick and I had a small "conference."  I was getting worried.  I had to put aside thoughts of the Africa trip and think only about Sam and his health.  At 10:30PM, we asked Sam if he felt like he needed to see a doctor.  He said, "yes."  So off to the ER we went.
A little side note here.  We are very familiar with this ER.  This is the hospital where I was born.  This is the hospital Sam went to when he broke his leg at 10 months old.  This is the hospital Isaiah stayed at over one of our Thanksgiving trips to KY when he was having breathing issues.  Rick's sister works at this hospital.  I was the second grade teacher of two of Sam's ER doctor's children!!  CrAzY!!

They were not busy AT ALL and yet, we sat in the waiting room for over an hour.  Then, once we got into a room at 11:45, we waited another hour before the doctor came in.  Cody came with us to the hospital and since Rick's sister was working, she came down for a while to chat with us.
My poor boy was in SO MUCH PAIN!!
He did like those warm blankets!
 They immediately did blood work.  Once that was complete, the nurse came in to say that his white blood count was normal.  So, we needed to do a  CAT scan.  He drank the solution and then had to wait an hour before they could do the scan.  Thankfully, he fell asleep.  When they came to get him, it was hard to wake him up and get him over to the CAT scan room.  He was weak and shaking.  The minute we arrived in the room he started vomiting violently again.  My sweet little guy was shaking, covered in vomit and we had to help him get on the machine.  It was truly pitiful and broke my heart.  As I was standing in the room, watching them do the scan, I was praying it would be his appendix so we would have some answers.  I just wanted to have a solution so we could move forward with a plan to make him better.
 The results came back that it was his appendix.  
This was right after we told him the news.
 We had to break the news to him that he was not going to Swaziland and that I would stay home with him.
 Once they found out what it was for sure, they wanted to do the surgery ASAP!
They transferred us to a regular room at 6:45 AM.
 They gave him some pain medicine as we waited for the surgery.
 We prayed with him before they took him into surgery.
 Both of our moms were there to see him off
 He got a cool race car surgical hat
 Hugs before he left with Grandma(Rick's mom)
 I felt so bad for him.  He looked scared.  He said he was nervous.
 Hugging Grammy(my mom) before he went in
 Our last pic as we left him with the anesthesiologist
 While he was in surgery, we went back to his room to wait with our moms.  Rick's sister came by before she left to go home from her shift and my brother came by as well.  After being up for over 24 hours at this point, Starbucks was a HUGE blessing.  
White Chocolate Mocha don't fail me now!
 Since it was the 4th of July, the hospital was very empty and there were no scheduled surgeries for the day.  So, after his 45 minute surgery, we got to go into recovery with him.  He was so out of it.  He could not rouse from his slumber.  They even gave him a picture of his appendix to keep.
 Once he got cleared from recovery, we went back to our room, and we all slept.  We were able to sleep for about 1 1/2 hours.  The flight to Africa the following morning was leaving very early from Nashville.  We had planned to go to Nashville that day and spend the night.  So, Rick had to go home to get his things packed to leave.  When we said goodbye to him, we weren't expecting to see him again until he returned from Africa.
 Sam finally woke up that afternoon and he had some visitors. 
His cousins, Jordan, Brooklyn, and Zachary and his Aunt Kimberly and Uncle Andrew
His brothers and sisters came to see him that afternoon.  They brought him some gifts and a balloon.
Papa and Grammy(my parents)
 He looks so pitiful in this picture.  He needed to get out of the bed and walk around.
 They moved us to another room for the night because he was the only child on the pediatric ward.  Our one stipulation when they moved us was that they get us a DVD player so we could watch movies that night to entertain us.  We watch the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" movies.  We said our goodbyes to Rick, he left for Nashville, and we settled in for the night.  By the time I went to sleep that night, I had only had 1 1/2 hours of sleep in the last 42 hours.  I was exhausted.  Of course, being in a hospital is never restful because they come in and out of the room all night, but we slept pretty well.  Any sleep was welcomed!!
Rick's mom works the night shift at a nursing home so, the next morning, she came to see us after her shift and brought The Lego Movie for him.  That was a nice treat!
 Sam's recovery was going really well.  He had no fevers even though a low-grade one would have been normal.  He did not have any negative response to the anesthesia.  He was really doing great.  The doctor said that by day 3, he would probably not even act like he had surgery.  His surgeon was Dr. Thistlethwaite.  When he came in to see him on Saturday, he gave the okay for him to be released from the hospital.  He even added that he could travel to Africa in a few days if we brought him in that Monday morning to be cleared.  For the first time, we started to entertain the idea that we might be able to go!  
 After getting the good news that we could go home(to Papa and Grammy's house)
 Traveling in style
That blanket in the picture was with him through the whole process.  It is a very special blanket that was a very special friend's of his.  He doesn't leave home without his "Hadley blanket".
 Grammy came to pick us up.
 Grammy's chair on the porch was the perfect place to relax and recover
 The surgery was laparoscopic so he had two tiny incisions(under the big bandage) and one - 1 inch incision(the lower one) where they took out his appendix.
 He felt so good that night that we went out to eat at Cracker Barrel.  
When I took this picture, he said, "I feel like I am in Las Vegas with my beer(root beer) and playing poker."  This boy is so full of it.
 The girls were at a "girls' sleepover" at Grandma's house.  
Let's play a game of "Find Isaiah."  He is camouflaged in this picture.  I promise he is in there!
 The really crazy thing was that we saw his surgeon at Cracker Barrel that night.  He was glad to see Sam out and about.  
When we got home, Sam had his very own little 4th of July celebration.  The Barbours(neighbors) gave Sam some poppers and Uncle Brian and Aunt Ashley had brought him some sparklers and candy.  There was also someone in the neighborhood shooting off fireworks so we even got to see those!
 We definitely had a reason to celebrate!
Happy Indappendix Day!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why I Blog (even though I haven't in a while)

The last couple of months have been a particularly challenging time for me.  For the first time since I started blogging, I just haven't had the energy or the desire to sit down and write blog posts.  Normally, blogging is something I really enjoy.  It serves several purposes in my life:

~It gives me an quick, easy way to document our family and its happenings.
~It is a great way to keep friends and extended family "in the loop". 

~It really is an outlet for me to share my heart, vent about my frustrations, and even sometimes minister to others.  

~I often blog about things that I would never scrapbook about or even remember.  I like that.  I like the authenticity of it.  I like how it captures our day-to-day.  I like how I can share the good, the bad, and the ugly.  When I used to scrapbook(only Cody and Lauren have actual completed baby books, Abby's is halfway done, and the other three, well, I am sorry kids.  maybe someday) I would include the highlights of our life, the good stuff.  I didn't really share my struggles or even the monotony of my life.  On my blog, I share those things.  Like the fact that I drove 80 miles yesterday, in town, getting everyone to and from school and their activities.  I wouldn't scrapbook about that, but it is something that I will look back on and will like to be reminded of when I no longer have those long days in the truck.  

~It gives me an opportunity to share about Beyond Survival, our ministry to Swaziland.

Now, to why I haven't in a while:

~As my kids are getting older, I am finding it increasingly hard to REALLY SHARE without embarrassing them or sharing all of our "dirty laundry" for all to see.  My older kids are constantly saying, "Don't share this on your blog" or "I will only let you take a picture if you won't put it on your blog."  I am one of those people that can't really hide what I am feeling.  You can pretty much look at my face and tell what I am thinking.  It is the same with my writing.  I struggle to share all the good and  leave out the bad.  BUT, I value my relationship with my kids more than I need to share.  So, I really have to pick and choose what I include.

~This stage of parenting is HARD for me.  The age ranges of our kids (16-6) are so hard to maneuver.  On one hand, I have teenagers on the verge of becoming adults.  I have discovered that every instinct I have in parenting has not prepared me for this stage.  I am desperately trying to give up control but also maintain the values we have in our home.  On the other hand, I still have a 6 and 7 year old who very much need boundaries in their lives.  I cannot parent my older kids the way I always have, but yet, I still need to parent the younger ones that way.  The tension of parenting older kids, maintaining relationship with them, and loving them unconditionally is plunging me to depths I have never known.  How do I write about that without betraying their trust?  I cannot figure that out.
~This summer was harder on me than I ever expected.  Sam's unexpected, emergency surgery really rocked me.  We spent so much time preparing for that Swazi trip and getting our whole family to KY so that we could go.  We prayed and really felt like it was time for Sam to go.  Then, two days before we left the country, BAM!  There we sat in the hospital just praying that he would make it through surgery before his appendix ruptured.  Why did that happen when it did?  Don't get me wrong, I am beyond grateful at God's protection over Sam.  It happened in the U.S. where we had great medical care.  BUT, really, 2 days before our trip??  
Rick had to leave while Sam was still in the hospital.  Then, Sam and I had to travel across the world alone.  That was very stressful for me.  In the end, Sam and I still got to go to Swaziland, but the emotional toll that the whole experience took on me is something I am still dealing with.  
~Life has just been crazy.  I know I say that a lot, but it is so true.  I feel like the minute we returned to CO, I began preparing for school to start.  Uniforms, school supplies, haircuts, doctor's visits, etc.  So much goes into getting them all ready.  Then, we have Meet and Greets, Orientations, Back-to-School Nights, Testing.  As my Swazi friends would say, "Eish!"  
~We are in the midst of 16 days of celebration leading up to Cody's 16th Birthday!
~The Last reason I have not been blogging is because I have been in the midst of my 3rd Whole30.  If you know anything about Whole30, you know that it is A LOT of work and for me, really affects my ability to do other things.  In the end, it is so good and I really see results in how I feel and look.  It is worth it, but at the same time, all consuming.  

 I really, really, really hope that I can catch up now that the kids are back in school.  I need to go back to July and bring everything up-to-date from our summer.  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Lauren's 14th Bday

While we were in KY, Lauren turned 14 years old!  We moved to CO when she was one month old, so we also track our time living in CO by her age.  I can't believe it has been 14 years for either one!  While we were in KY, we watched some old home videos of when the kids were little.  I loved seeing Lauren in those and remembering what a little cutie she was.  Don't get me wrong, she still is, but in a more grown up way.  She had the cutest little chubby cheeks and chipmunk voice.  It was adorable and made me a little sad that those precious days are over.  When I look at her now, I cannot believe the beautiful young lady she has become.  She is only about an inch and a half shorter than me.  She is regularly checking her height and anticipating the day she passes me up.  I will hold on to that inch and a half as long as I can!  
We woke up that morning and had French Toast for breakfast  
Daddy's girl
We had a pretty low-key morning.  The kids spent time hanging out with the neighbors.  Then we had her open her gifts and had a Chocolate Extreme Blizzard Cake from Dairy Queen
Then, we headed to an amusement/water park called Beech Bend.  I don't have a ton of pics because we spent our time swimming and riding rides.  I didn't want to cart around a camera while trying to do all of those things.  We did get a couple of Lauren on the rides.
Lauren is on the right and her friend, Hannah is beside her
 Cody and Abby are in front and Hannah, Lauren and Alexis are behind them.  Sam is by himself a couple of rows back.
I love their faces!
 Lauren and Hannah
 Here is a shot of the whole crew after several hours of fun!
 We ended the night with some Chick-fil-a for dinner
Lauren, you are still the sweet, tenderhearted girl you were as a child, but you are not so little anymore. I love seeing you grow into a young woman.  I am so proud of you and the person you choose to be.  You did amazing in school this past year with the many challenges of a crazy schedule, lots of classes and many assignments to complete!  I love your passion for soccer and how playing makes you come alive.  I also smile at your love for coffee and Starbucks.  You are a generous person who is always sharing or buying something for your brothers and sisters.  Always be who you are called to be no matter what others around you are doing.  You have so much life ahead of you.  Commit it all to God and He will guide you.  I love you so much!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Where I've Been...

(This blog post may be very boring to most of you.  I felt I needed to write it for me to remember and for my kids to see a glimpse of this stage of our lives when they are older.  Before I can blog the "memories" from our trips, I needed to blog the emotions and facts.  I won't be offended if you skip this one.)
I have been a lot of places over the last month.  That has made it hard to blog.  I am going to catch up soon with pics and stories, but for today I just feel like I need to share where I have been physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  It has been a challenging month for me.  So, here I go:

We left town on June 27 to begin our travels.  Those travels led us to the following:
-We drove over 3,600 miles in our truck over the course of the last month.
-We drove through Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and KY to get to my hometown of Glasgow, KY.
-We had a small detour to the hospital two days before our Swazi trip which resulted in an emergency appendectomy for Sam.  That was scary and discouraging.  But, also seeing God's Hand in it all and being around family when it happened made it encouraging.  We felt grateful for how it played itself out.
-Rick left for Swaziland with the team
-Sam and I joined them later in the week.  The adventure he and I had traveling alone across the world deserves a post all its own!
-Upon our return from Africa, we stayed in KY for a few more days.
-Then, we headed to our beloved TX for a few days of family time.  We drove through Kentucky, Tennesse, and Arkansas to get there.
-Finally, we drove through the night on July 25 through Texas and New Mexiso to arrive back in Colorado the morning of the 26th.
-Phew, I am exhausted just thinking about it all.
-Our poor bodies have endured overnight travel 4 times, time zone changes of 1 hour up to 8 hours difference, and we have gone from CO "summer", to KY summer, to Swaziland winter, back to TX summer to finally end up in CO "summer" again.
-Tomorrow is Rick's last day off from work.  I am not sure I am ready for that.

We were all so ready for a change of scenery before this trip.  Summer, up to that point, had really not been all that great in CO.  It was not very warm and it was horribly windy.  I LOVE SUMMER HEAT!!  I was ready to go somewhere that we could experience some HEAT!!
-We were not disappointed by KY or TX.  Both places gave us the heat and humidity we had been craving.  Since we have been back to CO, it has been rainy, cloudy, and chilly.  UGH!
-I am still processing all the emotions of this trip.  I find that in the midst of stressful situations, I hold it together pretty well.  When it is all over, I collapse into a blubbering mess.  I would say I am in the blubbering mess phase right now.
-Sam's situation was so scary and could have been life-threatening if the timing of it were different.  I have to remind myself that God took care of us, but it is very easy to go down the path of the "what ifs" and wonder how it would have been different if everything had occurred a day or two later than it did.
-Since his surgery, he has developed an infection in one of his incision.  The doctor thinks it is from a stitch that didn't dissolve.  Right now, he is on antibiotics for the infection.  He may need a small surgery to remove the stitch if it doesn't dissolve.  That thought just exhausts me.
-I am in this major phase of processing this new season of life with teenagers and older kids.  I so desperately want to do it well, but most days I find myself feeling unequipped and very discouraged.
-The month of August feels like a month of centering myself.  I need to get back into healthy eating patterns(I am planning to do my 3rd Whole30 probably starting on Monday), I need to declutter my mind from all the distractions(mostly social media and internet stuff), and I need to devote my attention to seeking out God in the daily challenges I am facing.

That last point leads me to the spiritual aspect.
-The older I get, the more I realize how important my walk with God is.  The things of this world just don't cut it.  They are temporary and way more appealing in theory than they are in reality.
-I cannot imagine my life without Jesus.  I think that is one of the reasons I feel so desperate in my parenting right now.  I know that my kids have to have their own faith journeys, but I so want them to seek after God in their youth.  It breaks my heart to think of the pain they might have to experience to get them to the point where they see their true need for The Lord.  All of life truly boils down to Jesus.  No matter how much I want to, I can't force that on them.  A faith that they have "earned"(and I don't mean that they way it sounds, but meaning a faith that comes from their personal experiences and need for God) is the only faith that will last in their lives.
-Our church has been through a lot of changes over the last year.  It has been a long, painful journey.  I want to see God take that pain and redeem it for His Kingdom.  I want to see healing in the hearts of those around me.  I want to see Him bring beauty from the ashes around us.

My life feels in transition right now.  The next few weeks will be consumed with school preparations, buying school supplies, buying uniforms, meeting teachers, open houses, and restarting sports.  Once everyone is back in school, we will settle in for the second half of the year.