Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ready to Welcome 2009

WOW! What a year it has been for our little family. The ups and downs were more than we bargained for, but we made it and all three of us are stronger for it. I can't imagine that in any year in our future, we will encounter more ups and downs, but if we do, we know we can make it through those too.

2009 promises to be a healthier year for us...and happier...who couldn't be happier waking up to little Charlie every day.

We've learned so much in the last year...or maybe rediscovered things we knew already, but forgot in this fast paced busy world we live in. Kenny is good at slowing down and living life at a slower pace...I am not. I'm trying and I will get there. This year we learned what is most slow down and enjoy each other and all of the moments in life. I will work on that in 2009...just like Kenny will work on no hospital visits in 2009! :)

I've recently discovered a that kind of speaks to me and reminds me to slow it down...

It's funny how the simple things in life that mean the most.

Not where you live, what you drive, or the price tag on your clothes.

There's no dollar sign on a piece of mind, this I've come to know.

So if you agree, have a drink with me

Raise your glasses for a toast.

So, to our lovely family and friends who we owe so much to for all of their support these last few months, we raise our glasses to you this new year's eve...THANK YOU!! Happy New Year! May 2009 be the best for you from our little family of three!

Friday, December 26, 2008

6 Months --- Really??!!

Strapped in, ready to eat!

Is our boy really half a year old already??!! Can it be, Kenny and I asked ourselves? Where has the 6 months gone? Charlie wasn't as sad for this day as we were...he was a happy, happy boy today!

Some things are little man loves to do:

** Chew on things...everything. This is a new favorite, a wood rattle from Uncle Ted. He actually kicks with glee when we hand it to him. It must feel good on his gums...we know there are teeth in there ready to come out!
** He graduated to his big boy car seat in Mom's car this month. Boy was he heavy to carry otherwise.
** This also means he gets to ride in the shopping cart seat. And he LOVES to stare at all that is around him. I don't think he paid much attention before.
** He had his first cold/RSV/ear infection. But his medicine smells like my old antibotic for ear infections. I just want to drink it down!
** He barely lets us leave the room at night before he has flipped himself on his belly for the night. Stinker!
** He rolls well to the right from his back...and is getting better at rolling left. And I KNOW he can roll from belly to back because he does it at night...but he doesn't want to during the day. It's easier to cry and have someone come and flip him.
** He's now enjoyed applesauce, bananas and peaches and loved them all.
** He thinks his name is Charlie Brown. We need to stop calling him that.
** He tries really hard to pull himself up to sitting. He's getting there. And if you sit him up, he's working hard at holding it.
** When on his belly, he likes to balance on his tummy and kick and swing his arms...and then stop, push up on his arms and kick some more. Is crawling coming soon??!
** He's really just a joy to be around. He's happy and fun and makes you laugh and he's just the best thing that has happened to Kenny and I. We love him so much!!

Christmas Dinner

As much as we wanted to spend the day with family, it was nice in a way to just be the three of us. We will never get to do that with so much family around...but after such a roller coaster year and especially the last week of illinesses, we enjoyed our day of sleep, gifts, sleep, food, sleep, cuddle time, sleep and more food! A day spent in our pjs! The best! If only we could have seen our whole family too!

Charlie testing peaches for the first time. He always makes this face the first time and then gobbles the whole container. So really, he likes them!

Decked out in his Christmas bib!

Our spaghetti Kenny's request. It was yummy! Plus cannoli and cheesecake for dessert!

Christmas Morning!

Charlie has no idea what Christmas is of course, but we do! It was so fun to see what he would do with things. Taste testing them is #1 on the list!

Happy Charlie!

Yummy! We tried to show him how to ripe the paper...but it didn't work!

Inspecting a toy car...for the best play to chew on it!

There is our sweet happy Charlie!

Christmas Day

We ended up cancelling our Christmas Day plans, as we were to have left the house. So, Kenny's parents came to us Christmas morning to see Charlie for his first Christmas. Somehow, I keep missing photo opps with Grandpa and Charlie.

Charlie taste testing some keys.

Charlie and Grandma inspecting a new book about Marley the Dog.

Christmas Eve

Well, it's been a rough week or so in the Friedrich house. Charlie got a cold...turned RSV (confirmed in an ER visit on a very snowy day) turned ear infection. He's on the mend with some yummy smelly antibotics. He gave his cold to Mommy and Daddy. Mommy is fighting the cold well and feeling pretty good. Daddy...not so much. With Daddy's immune system still being a bit compromised from surgeries and his body's inability to understand that it's trying to fight an infection and that his body needs to make more of a steroid to deal with the stress of an infection, Kenny's cold turned into pneumonia. He got admitted to the hospital for a few days and got released on Christmas Eve afternoon. It's all part of the learning we need to do to help Kenny deal with his meds and his body's shortfalls now. The doctors assure us there is nothing we could have done to prevent it...just the way that it is. We know now that when he's getting sick one of his meds can be increased (called a "sick day") to account for his body not understanding that it's sick. So now we know...

Our family on Christmas our lounge-wear best! Just happy to be home all together again after Kenny's hospital stay.

We continued on with our Christmas Eve plans, since they were low key, to have my parents and Ted over for dinner. Dinner wasn't as fancy as I planned...we did pizza and salads instead, but it was more important to just spend time together. Kenny was/is under doctor's orders to rest, rest and more rest, stay home for a few days and stay away from sick people (other than my mom, Charlie and I who all have the same cold Kenny started with).

Charlie and his Grammy. What we would do without Grammy during hospital stays, we just aren't sure! She came through again for us, in part because it was her normal Charlie sitting days, plus one extra!

Charlie and Pops chillin'

Uncle Ted and Charlie worked on opening Charlie's gifts and displaying them for the camera.

Best Parenting Move So Far!

Charlie and Santa

Kenny and I weren't looking forward to taking Charlie to the mall to stand in a horrible line to take a picture with Santa. A few months ago, we opened a bank account for Charlie at our local, very friendly bank. The personal banker happily informed us Santa would be making an appearance in December on a Saturday morning! Fabulous! We even got a post card reminder in the mail. And it was fabulous! No line...snacks...a banker taking pictures and putting them in snowflake ornament holders. And it was all FREE!! The best parenting decision we have make yet!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Play time...

Charlie loves to play and put everything in his mouth! He's such a sweet kid and so fun to play with and watch him learn new things.

Hanging out in the exersaucer loaned to us by Ariana...Thank you Ari -- Charlie loves it!!

He loves laying on his belly!

He looks so little here...playing on his bedroom floor.

Sweet Charlie!

Packard Christmas Party are a bit out of order...and we aren't posting our attempts at a good Christmas picture. Charlie is never in a "good" mood when we are ready to try and take one.

Charlie and Daddy hanging out at the table.

Charlie's entertainment now that we get a high chair for him. This book and rings could entertain him for hours!

Poor guy was tired by the end of the afternoon and thought Grandma's shoulder was a good napping spot!

Earlier in the day...hanging out with Grandma.

Dinner Time...Charlie's Favorite Time of Day

Charlie LOVES food. Loves it! He's getting so good at holding his bottle and even if he can't do it, he TRIES so hard! He also tries to help us get the spoon in his mouth...just in case we aren't sure where it's supposed to go.

One morning eating cereal...some how he splattered it up his nose!

Squash for the first time...I think he likes it!

First bite of peas. The first bite he's never quite sure about...but then he eats it all!

Thanksgiving Weekend

The pictures are a little out of order because this won't order them properly...but it was our Thanksgiving weekend.

Thanksgiving Day: Charlie, Uncle Ted and Pops...Pops trying to share HIS bottle with Charlie! This is what happens when Mommy is upstairs cooking.

Charlie and Daddy.

Aunt Donna brought over a talking Turkey for Charlie to play's Grammy showing him how it works.

Yummy!! First taste of sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving Day!

The day after Thanksgiving the Friedrich side of the family came over. This was the end of the day...Charlie was a bit tired from the excitement of Anna and Kate!

Saturday we got to spend the day with cousin Sedona...from Arizona! Charlie and Sedona enjoyed their walk through Gurnee Mills.

Back to Thanksgiving Day...Uncle Ted teaching Charlie something...something strange probably!! Uncle Ted really likes little Charlie.

And back to the day after Thanksgiving...trying to get a cousin picture. Charlie still isn't sure why the girls like to move around so much. Anna is great...but Kate...really didn't want to be on the couch.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Whatever Normal Is

Daddy and Charlie

While Kenny was in the hospital and early on in his recovery, in my weak moments, I kept saying that I wanted everything to go back to normal. Whatever normal is. I don't think we had created a normal since Charlie had been born yet and gotten into a family groove. I soon realized our life as we knew it would never be the normal that I was thinking of. There would be a "new" normal. And now, I can proudly say that we are getting there.

Kenny has been back at work for about a month now and his light duty restrictions have been lifted. He is still taking it slow and is really sore from using muscles again that he hasn't used in months. Being back at work has been good for him, I think. Good to get in a routine. Socializing with friends. Being active. Doing something "normal."

Kenny began picking Charlie up on Thanksgiving Day. He hadn't lifted his son in 3 months and 3 days. Sure, he had held him when someone placed Charlie in his lap, but Kenny actually got to lift him up and carry him somewhere. Just writing that, brings tears to my eyes. I had briefly left the house for a quick trip to the store while Charlie was napping. Kenny was to call me if anything happened and I could be home in 5 minutes. We had done this a few times during the course of Kenny's recovery, as I ran errands in the evenings after Charlie was fast asleep. So, when I walked back in the house quietly, so as not to wake the sleeping baby, I heard that sleeping baby. Talking happily from the living room. I yelled up the stairs, "is everything alright?" Kenny replied that everything was fine. Charlie woke up soon after I left and he decided to go in there and get him. I ran up the stairs and found my two favorite boys sitting together in the recliner. What a sweet sight! Kenny looked at me and said "You know, he's really gotten heavy in these last few months!"

Trust me, I thought, I know he's gotten heavy. I've been the one carrying him around everywhere. I didn't say anything though. How hard must that have been for Kenny, to have not picked up his sweet son for 3 months and 3 days?? Definately harder on him than it was for me to carry Charlie for all of that time.

This week marks the start of Kenny beginning to pick up Charlie from daycare after work. Again, something new for all of us. The boys will get 1 1/2 hours together 3 afternoons a week until I get home. Until now, I've been working through lunch to leave work early to pick up Charlie on those days. Charlie and Kenny will bond and maybe get to make up for a little time they missed together.

Since Kenny has come home from the hospital, I find Charlie just staring at his daddy, like he's a rock star (see picture at the top of this post). Kenny could be talking to Charlie or not even looking at him and Charlie just stops and stares at him. It's absolutely the sweetest thing! It's almost like Charlie knows that he should be amazed at this man he calls Daddy for all that he has been through and how well he's come out of it. But really, Charlie should know that he was driving force behind Kenny's will power to get through this. Everytime I left him in preop as they wheeled him into surgery, I made sure that the last thing he saw was me and a picture of our Charlie. Every night I left the hospital, I made sure Kenny got to look at his photos of Charlie. So he could always remember what he gets to go home to. What he was fighting for.

Our "new" normal involves a lot of medicine for Kenny, for the rest of his life, it seems. There was a chance with the surgery and because of the tumor growth that some or all of his pituitary function would be lost. We are still "kind of" in a waiting period, but it's looking like he will need the medications for life. It's not fun...Kenny's not a medicine-taking kind of guy. And they need to be adjusted at times based on symptoms he has and blood work results. But he's learning to live with it and at some point, it will just be "normal." So, we say a special thank you to modern medicine for the advances that have been made to afford him with the medication to replace what his tumor has taken away. Kenny's endocrinologist has assured us from day one that even with the loss of his pituitary function, Kenny will live a long and normal life, just with the help of some medication.

My "new" normal includes a constant little worry in the back of my head, watching Kenny carefully to be sure that he seems fine. No signs like before...the signs that we missed for awhile...not realizing that his tumor was growing. No signs that his medication is failing, or that he needs an adjustment to his dose. Eventually, my worry will subside as I adjust to a "new" normal.

Our life may not be heading in the direction we pictured, but it's really not in our control. We are just here, along for the ride and making the best of the situation. Learning to love each other more. Reminding ourselves of how LUCKY we are. Our prayers include a simple "thank you for another day." Never taking advantage of the time we are given here. Taking a few minutes each day just to hug each other and that sweet Charlie boy. Something that's been hard for me...remembering to slow down and enjoy the moments we have. Taking advantage of opportunities to help others, as we were helped during our low points. These things are all part of our "new" normal.

As one of the residents in the neurosurgery speciality said to us, while he hung out in Kenny's hospital room for awhile during one of his stays, "This will all seem like a bad dream a year from now. You will be just fine." We aren't quite there yet, it's still a little fresh, but we are getting there...defining and creating our "new" normal. Whatever normal is.