Thursday, December 31, 2009

just thinkin about something ...

Sarah Markley's blog (see my blog list) actually made me think about this ....

If you had asked me when I was in 5th grade what I wanted to be when I grow up, this is what I would have told you:

I would go to college and get a degree in Chemistry and a teaching certificate.
I would marry a good friend
I would teach high school for 5 years after college and then I would have kids
I would like to have a boy and a girl and then be done, but if I didn't get one of each, then maybe a third would be negotiable
I would then be a stay-at-home mom and my life would be complete.

As I went through high school and college, others may have given answers about traveling the world or finding world peace or becoming president or something, but (aside from a brief flirtation with Psychology instead of Chemistry during my 9th grade year) my answer never changed.

I never had any bigger dreams than this.

And I have to tell you something honestly and from the bottom of my heart today.

I am absolutely living my dream come true. I love my kids, I love my husband, they all 3 love me, what more could I possibly want?

Thank you Jesus for all the blessings you've given me and my family and help us learn how to live out our lives like you want them to be lived during this new year.

God bless you! Happy new year!!!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Life in the Frozen Tundra

Snowmeggedon didn't really deliever, but it did snow a ridiculous amount up here, and it was nice to have my men taking care of the outside for me.
Charlie got a Tonka front-loader and another Tonka dumptruck to add to his fleet, so Daddy said it was ok to take them outside for snow removal purposes.

When asked about outside activities with his Daddy, Charlie replies, "we're gonna go be MEN!"

So Emma and I stay inside and be lovely ladies ...

And today when Daddy had to go back to work, the kids got to just be kids :)

not really sure what the stickers are on his arm, but aren't my kids cute together?!?!?! :)

"Mommy! Take a picture of me doing THIS!"

And again, the most motivating thing to cruise to is ME, so unless I get brave enough to let the 2-year-old hold the camera, it's gonna be pretty hard to get cruising videos. I did my best here:

Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Program

A friend's blog today inspired me to attempt to write about something REALLY funny that happened a couple of weeks ago ...

Actually, it started a couple of months ago. Our Children's Pastor (and friend) Jeff sent out an e-mail to a bunch of moms asking us if we would be interested in helping out with the children's Christmas musical that would be going on this season at Valley.

Now there were 2 things I didn't realize at that point:
1) that he didn't mean help DIRECT the musical ... I was picturing baking cookies and helping little shepherds put their costumes on the night of ..
2) that his wife (who actually has formal musical training and experience directing children's Christmas musicals ... unlike me ...) was going to have a scheduled C-section for baby #7 (!!!!!) 2 days after the musical was scheduled and would therefore (WISELY) not be helping.

So I agreed to help

There were 9 songs and I would be in charge of teaching and directing 3 or 4 of them ....


I actually had a great time at all rehearsals. The music was fun and the kids had a blast as well.

But the performance was AWESOME!

And when I say that ... well, I mean that a large part of the performance was intentionally awesome. The kids did a great job knowing their lines and singing their hearts out. I was so proud of them

But there were a few moments that were unintentionally, accidentally, chaotically, hilariously AWESOME :)

First, I loved that Pastor Dave wore a BRIGHT blue bathrobe thing in an attempt at authentic Biblical garb.

Second, a young lad who was supposed to be interrupted by a slightly older young lady got interrupted by said young lady at the wrong spot and turned and announced that he "WASN'T DONE WITH HIS LINE YET!" then he repeated his line. Later, when she was SUPPOSED to interrupt him, she was too scared to do it, so he said his line again. and again. and again.

Third, and perhaps my favorite, was the manger scene, which was to be acted out by preschoolers. Eli and Isabel, siblings who are both 3, were Mary and Joseph. Mary started out holding the baby (doll), but then .... um ... gently handed him to Joseph when her blue veil started to fall off. Charlie was a Shepherd and walked on stage in his Yoda costume holding a staff and singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" right up until Mary showed an interest in said staff ... Charlie wasn't giving it up, though ... thankfully they both moved on just in time for the angels, wise men, and sheep to start wandering around in MASS chaos right on top of the (covered) baptistry. They didn't fall in. Eli and Isabel's mom and I were both in directors chairs and thanking our lucky stars that were were not supposed to be directing at this moment, because we were both laughing so hard we cried :)

There was one more very funny moment, which occurred thanks to the only adult on stage, but I'll let him tell about it on his own blog:

I have to say, our church has had it's share of sorrow during this holiday season and God totally showed up on this night. It was delightful, hilarious, and refreshing. I love the kids, and I love a God who knows that laughter is good medicine :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We had an unusual but wonderful Christmas this year!

Our church services were cancelled due to the weather, so we packed everyone up a day early and went to my mom's house. If we're going to be snowed in, we figured, at least let's all be together!

We ate way too much and even had a little church service in the living room (Charlie prayed, it was pretty cute). It was wonderful.

The kids got so many wonderful presents! I'll post pictures at some point, and they still have one more round of Christmas with Josh's side of the family, but so far we have been so blessed by so many incredibly thoughtful presents for our kids. Seriously, family, good work!


And you should SEE Emma these days!!! Holy cow!

She's become so much more social. When someone walks into a room that she knows, she'll lunge for them and want to play with their nose of teeth or necklaces or whatever she can get her hands on! :)

Speaking of which, I've started saying 'no' to her about things like pulling off people's glasses. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't ... jury's still out on that one, but Mommy instinct says it's time to try.

But for those of you not on Facebook, I'll brag about her IEP meeting last week:

We missed a school district visit because of surgery, so the last time they saw Emma she was working on getting into sitting from lying down by herself.

So they were pretty darn surprised (read: blown away, teary-eyed, SQUEALED with delight...) when they saw Emma transition herself from lying down to sitting up to pulling up to stand on the couch to CRUISING along the couch all by herself. They had come to discuss her therapy plans for the next 6 months and had a rough draft of what they had assumed her goals were going to be, but they said they were going to have to throw that away because she'd already met all those goals!

I'm so proud of my girl.

She's still showing signs of hearing better, although I'm hesitant to say we're at %100. We'll see when we meet with her audiologist in a week or two.

All in all, it was an excellent Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009


I want to make it very clear that I have NO problem with cookie-eating gift-bringer.

My position on doing Santa is that if your Jesus story is threatened by a guy in a red coat, your Jesus is WAY too small!

We did Santa growing up and I never once felt "lied to" or anything when we found out that Granddaddy wrote the letters :)

However, the past two holiday seasons have been a little ... well, let's just say HECTIC! (Emma was discharged from NICU on Dec 15th last year and this year we've been dealing with palate repair and recovery)

We're trying our best to maintain the spirit of the season for Charlie, but when life is busy, there's only so many stories you can tell.

So I haven't gotten around to dealing with the Santa Claus story yet. We've been focusing on the manger :)

And today, when Emma got her H1N1 booster shot, I was pretty darn proud of Charlie during the following conversation with the injection nurse:

Nurse: "Who's coming to your house this week?"

Charlie: blank stare

Nurse, trying again: "Oh, come on, aren't you excited? What's coming up this week?"

Charlie, arms high in the air with a huge amount of excitement: "Baby. Jesus'. BIRTHDAY!"

Nurse, with as much enthusiasm as she can muster in her surprised state: "Oh! Um, I see!"

I do have to say, though, if you are trying to decide where Santa fits in to your Jesus story, the new Veggie Tales DVD about St Nicholas does a great job of explaining where the Santa story comes from and how it truly is connected to the true meaning of Christmas, while still leaving it open-ended for families who still want to "do Santa."


and speaking of St Nicholas ...

The music video on this DVD was the new "Give this Christmas Away" song with Amy Grant and it showed images of children receiving Operation Christmas Child toys. Charlie asked about them, and we agreed that we would go and get a toy.

If you ask Charlie about this picture, he will tell you without prompting that he picked out a truck to give "to a boy who doesn't have as much as we do."

I'm pretty comfortable with my choice of stories to tell the little dude.

And I'm pretty proud of him.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Well, Grandma has gone home, the pain meds are finished, and life is getting very close to back to normal.

Only 6 more days of stupid arm splints for Emma. But I haven't even had to give her any tylenol today, which is helping her tummy feel better and telling me that she's recovering nicely.

Charlie is DEFINITELY ready for life to get back to normal. He got to see some of his friends at church a couple of times this week, and I could tell he was really hungry for that.

Emma is acting like someone popped a bubble that has been around her head for the past year. More eye contact, more social, more "talking," more moving ... you wouldn't think hearing better would help a person's motor skills, but it's seriously as if Emma has realized that the world is a lot bigger and more "explorable" than she thought! She's all over the place! It's awesome! I'm not ready to say that her hearing is perfect or anything yet, but I definitely see a difference in my baby girl.

She still has to keep EVERYTHING out of her mouth for one more week, and then I'm really interested to see how eating goes for her.

And since some of you asked ...

the background story from my last post is that there is a family in our church who lost twin boys this week. they were in the hospital at the same time emma was and we were praying for each other. the boys were delievered at 22 wks gestation and did not survive. it breaks my heart, but i know that God is good all the time, even when sometimes the answer to prayers is 'no.' please pray for this family in this difficult time?

we're all starting to get into the Christmas spirit, too. We're doing our best to make sure Charlie understands the true meaning of CHRISTmas, and I think it may be working ... last week we were talking about Christmas lights and he said that it was Christmas time and that means baby Jesus' birthday is coming up.

I said, "you're right, and that means we'll be getting together to celebrate with our family and ..."

he interrupted and said, "Yeah! and Jesus would like a PURPLE birthday cake."

no idea where that came from

but we're TOTALLY going to bake baby Jesus a birthday cake this year! :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

not fair

CAUTION: Raw emotion ahead. God is good all the time, but my heart hurts today, and it's ok to give that to Him, too.


It's not fair that I have to tape splints to Emma's arms every day and she hates it and she cries.

It's not fair that I have to change her Mickey button and she hates it and she cries

It's not fair that I have to do so many things that make my baby cry.

It's not fair that Charlie's life hasn't been normal for SEVERAL weeks now, but every night he prays and thanks Jesus for helping Emma feel better.

But it's also not fair that Emma gets to hear and others don't

It's not fair that she has 10 fingers and 10 toes

It's not fair that we get our prayers answered 'yes' when we all know that sometimes the answer is 'no'

It's not fair that I get to keep her and some friends today had to say goodbye.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Who's your Daddy?

We love our ENT doc. His name is Dr S and he’s well-known in the area as one of the best docs for an Emma.

He’s got a very self-confident sense of humor to go along with this reputation, and that’s fine. He respects Josh’s and my expertise as Emma’s primary care-givers and beyond that, he can be as cocky as he wants to.

Now, let’s be clear: in all of Emma’s pre-op appointments, NO ONE thought that her ears were big enough for tubes.

So when Dr S came to talk to us after being able to get tubes in both Emma's ears on Wednesday, you know what he said? “Who’s your daddy!”

Hee Hee :)

Cuz, see, my Heavenly Daddy (who, by the way, made the universe from scratch), lovingly crafted those ears in her Mama’s womb and has been faithful to continue the good work He began in Emma from the beginning.

He set the stars into motion and He has protected Emma from serious illness.

He made snowflakes and sunrises and gave me more blessings than I'm going to even try to number.

He listened to the prayers of His people and answered them ALL

One by one, each and every prayer for Emma’s surgery was answered COMPLETELY!

NO difficulty with intubation, tubes in both ears, GI scope looks great, palate repaired, and she even appears to Josh and I to be hearing remarkably better!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

In other words,

BOO-YAH! Who’s your Daddy?

We cannot express how thankful we are for all your prayers.

After the hand-off on Wednesday (which does NOT get easier as kids get older!) , we waited in the family waiting room where nurses can call parents during surgery. It was actually a little bit fun to watch the blessings roll in one after another

First our anesthesiologist (not our ENT) came in surprisingly quickly to tell us that Emma was under and ready for surgery without any issues – IV in the first poke and intubation in on the first try. I might have accused him of lying :)

Then we got a phone call (that's how they communicate between the OR and the family waiting room) that tubes were in both ears and quite a bit of fluid drained out when that happened. I cried.

Then her GI doc come in less than 10 min later to tell us his part was done.

The palate repair took remarkably longer, but once we heard that was done, it was not very long until her anesthesiologist came to tell us that we could come back into the recovery room to be with Emma … I felt badly for the family next to us who were just told that couldn’t do that, most parents aren’t allowed back there, but I guess our docs took pity on us or something :)

But here’s the coolest blessing: As Emma started to wake up more and more on Wednesday night, she got more and more fussy and agitated that so much was different for her. One time when she was particularly fussy, I was holding her and waiting for the nurse to come back with some morphine and I decided to try to calm her with a lullaby. As soon as I started singing, she stopped dead in her tracks … instantly calmed, as if she was thinking “Whoa, wait a minute, what on earth is that beautiful sound?!?!” (ok, so maybe not beautiful ... ) Then she snuggled in and settled down. Josh and I both had tears streaming down our checks as we told her we loved her and realized that it was the first time we were CERTAIN she was hearing us.

We're all pretty exhausted and we're still trying to figure out how to manage several aspects of Emma's recovery (not the least of which being that we can't keep those splints on her little arms), but we have not lost sight of how blessed we are.

We're home!

Emma's uncomfortable, but asleep.

Becky just got back from the pharmacy.

This is gonna be a long two weeks of arm splints for the girl ...

But we're home! YAY!

look for a more reflective post to come ... right now i'm just tired ...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hospital Update

Hi All--Becky asked me to update you all on Emma's current status in recovery. Last night they all got very little sleep, as Emma just didn't really sleep well at all. Due to the palate repair surgery, she has to keep her hands out of her mouth for the next 2-3 weeks--which is no easy feat for a one year old! So that means that either Josh and Becky have to be super diligent in watching Emma to ensure that her mouth stays hands free, or Emma has to wear "no-no's" which are those horrible splint looking things that force a kiddo to keep their arms perfectly straight. Needless-to-say, little Emma is not a fan of the arm restraints...she doesn't sleep well with them on, and she simply can't sleep without all of this adds up to a restless and tired Emma {and tired parents!}. As for pain, that is currently being controlled by tylenol and codeine. Emma is still a little bit up and down, but all in all she is doing okay. Becky and Josh are overwhelmed by all of the prayers and support that they've received and they are feeling thankful. Emma is still showing signs that she is hearing them--she quiets when Becky sings to her, which is just awesome! God is so good!
Thanks for praying the Watczak family through a tough week!
Blessings, Tamara

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Emma is out of surgery!

Tamara here again...Just a quick update to let you know that Miss Emma is out of surgery and in recovery, and everything went just beautifully! The palate repair went really well--the entire morning seems to have been filled with blessing upon blessing. God is good, all the time--and we are grateful that He has allowed us to witness His miraculous work yet again today. Please continue to pray for Emma as she enters the recovery period--that her pain would be well controlled, that she would have no issues with coming out of anesthesia, and the she would be able to rest comfortably and peacefully so that she can head home in a few days.

Surgery Update

Josh and Becky asked me {Tamara} to update the blog on the progress of Emma's surgery. To all who were praying so faithfully for the anesthesia/intubation process, THANK YOU! The doctors were able to intubate Emma on the first attempt--the whole procedure went surprisingly well {well, I'm sure God wasn't surprised...but everyone else was!}. Another amazing blessing is that the ENT was able to get tubes into both of Emma's ears, and both ears drained, which is a HUGE PRAISE. The doctors have now moved on to the palate repair surgery which is expected to take a couple of hours. Please keep praying that the Lord would guide the hands of the surgeons as they work on sweet Emma. I know that your love and prayer support for the Watczak's is certainly being felt today and very much appreciated. More updates to follow...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Just a day

Can I just be mundane for a minute? Today's post contains no prayer requests or any deep thoughts, and I'll go back to posting medical stuff tomorrow, I'm sure.

But being stuck in the house for a week and a half DOES mean good quality time with our kids! :)


Whatcha lookin at, big brother?

Daddy put the Christmas decorations up!

Charlie's first cup of hot chocolate

It's nice to have a man around the house

We're lighting advent candles and reading the story of Jesus from Luke 2 everyday during advent (although we got a bit of a late start ...), just like my mom used to do with us when we were kids!

Move over, Linus! (ok, so maybe this is memorized from our church's musical and not the Gospel of Luke, but you get the idea! :))

Emma does nothing remarkable in any of these videos, she's just stinkin cute! :)

She's been taking a couple of steps cruising along the back of the couch lately, but it's not a terribly mastered skill, so hard to catch on video. Either way, STINKIN cute! :)

And here's Emma's new sitting up skills. She CAN get all the way up to sitting straight, just didn't in this particular case :)

So that's it, that's what we've been up to! You'll hear from me tomorrow, I'm sure! :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thank you

Silly elf dances aside (see below), I can't tell you how humbled we are to know that there are so many people praying for our little girl this week!

I just wanted to let you all know what we are specifically praying for:

  • We haven't left the house all week except for doctors appts, so we're praying that we'll all be healthy by Wednesday. If Emma is sick, surgery is cancelled.
  • Becky is really dreading the "hand off" moment, where the pre-op exam is complete and we have to hand Emma over. We can't be there when she is put under. I know many parents can, but they are anticipating a very difficult intubation and they don't want us there for that. So Emma will be awake and looking at me when I hand her over ... she's gonna give me a "where am I going?" look, I just know it ... so please pray for peace at that point?
  • Medically the hardest part about Wednesday is the size of everything. Emma's airways are small, even for someone Emma's size, so please pray for God to keep her safe.
  • Please pray for Emma's doctors; Dr S is her ENT, Dr A is her GI doc. I'm praying that they have a good night's sleep the night before! :)
  • The first thing they are going to try is ear tubes. Our pediatrician tried to look in her ears this week to see if Emma had an ear infection and couldn't see past her right ear canal because the canal was so small. Please pray that, if it is God's will, Emma can get tubes in at least one of her ears.
  • Next we have our GI doc putting a scope down Emma's throat to look around. Please pray that this procedure is without incident, as they expect it to be, and pray that the results give us answers about whether Emma's GI issues really are resolved with her new meds.
  • Lastly, our ENT will repair Emma's palate. With Emma's type of cleft, he anticipates that this will be the only surgery necessary to repair her mouth. Please pray that the repair is complete and that we will never have to worry about this again!
  • Emma will be pretty uncomfortable and pretty ticked for a couple of days, winning her and at least one of her parents a 2-3 night stay at the luxurious Spa de Children's Hospital to recover from the procedure. Please pray that she not get sick! Hospitals are not healthy places this time of year!!!
  • And finally, please pray for the long-term recovery. Just because Emma's mouth will be repaired doesn't mean that she will just instantly eat orally, but it does make therapy a little easier. And even if Dr S is able to get tubes in Emma's ears, that doesn't necessarily mean that her hearing loss will be instantly fixed (although it is possible it will help and that would certainly be nice!)

We check in at the hospital at 7:15, her procedure should be around 8:45, and she won't be done for at least 3 hours. Charlie's going to Nana's for the rest of the week, for which I am very grateful!!

Again, we are so blessed by all of our friends and family praying for our wonderful little Emma! Thank you thank you thank you!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

She's cleared!....kinda.....

Josh here.

Emma convinced her pediatrician this afternoon that she is on track to be healthy by Wednesday, so she's cleared for surgery! long as she gets/stays healthy. Now starts Daddy's weekend of seclusion. Time to get Mommy out of the house.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


well, on Day 4 of "Mommy house arrest" we broke down and went to the doctor's. The kids and I were bouncing off the walls, anyway, so, you know, why not?

And really, it had been several months since we'd had to put Emma in the awful torture chamber to get an upright chest x-ray. All 3 of us were really missing that experience...

She has bronchitis.

This doesn't mean surgery is definitely out of the question, though. She's on a 5-day course of antibiotics to hopefully clear up everything and her pediatrician and I are going to "wait and see" before making a decision about next Wednesday.