We’re Moving!

Boy, has it been a while! So much has gone on since my last update. I’ll try to update life stuff soon but this is specific to our house hunting adventure we’ve been on.

Bo and I decided about a year ago that we wanted to move. There were a variety of reasons why but #1 on the list is that we want our 4 boys to have a larger yard to play outside. We started looking on Zillow everyday to find a place that would suit our needs and one that we agreed on. After a couple months of searching, we agreed to push hard to move to Enumclaw. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to live, I just love the town, it’s closer to Bo’s family, it’s got a country feel, there is a lot to love about Enumclaw. But we had a hard time finding a place with around an acre of property with a decent house for our family of 6 that was affordable for us. After a few months of searching, to the point of each of us spending a lot of time on Zillow each and every day, we were nearly ready to throw in the towel.

We had originally reached out to our agent who helped us buy the house we are currently in, back in 2008 (pic above). We were planning our wedding and picking out things for our new house that was to be built brand new we would get to move into after we got married. We picked this lot, this location, the design of the house and everything inside from the color of the walls, floors, counters & paint to the structure, lighting, ,fixtures, carpet & appliances. We were so excited to purchase our “starter home” and planned to be here for maybe 5 years. That was nearly 13 years ago. I remember these pictures above and below. I remember walking the development and picking out our exact lot, the home type, everything. I remember that sweatshirt I was wearing, I loved it so much, I remember the hair Bo used to have, hahaha.

Our agent was phenomenal and amazing, she worked her tail off for us day in and day out attending meetings and appointments we weren’t even able to be at as we were both working for 911 at the time and there were a lot of things going on with our new construction house. She blessed us immensely with how hard she worked and all that she did for us throughout the entire buying process and what a sweet housewarming gift we had to come home to when we closed. We have kept in touch via social media for all these years since our first purchase.

Of course, we went back to her first when considering a move last year. She came to the house a couple of times to help get us set up for success with a new home transition and we got the ball rolling with her. Again, we started off to a great experience. Yet, this time, I had what I would call ‘Holy Spirit hesitation.’ I never know exactly why, but I have learned to trust myself during these times and really step back and listen. Bo and I talked about it and agreed that I would ask a new acquaintance for some advice about what our plans were. She was a gal I had met through our homeschool co-op and I didn’t even really know yet, I had met her a couple of times and really wanted to get to know her better. She just seemed to be this super sweet lady who I was really drawn to and had intended to get to know better at co-op, until 2020 & Covid hit and I lost that opportunity. I reached out to her anyway. I told her we had an agent we were working with but we had some concerns and wanted an educated, outside opinion with our plan moving forward. I knew she had a background in real estate as well as organization and decoration and she was just a sweet, Jesus loving gal who I really just wanted to spend more time with and this seemed like a great way to start that relationship.

She came over and discussed our plans with us. Bo and I knew immediately we were supposed to switch to her, but we both love and respect our first agent we were working with and didn’t want to show her any disrespect. We parted ways from our initial meeting agreeing to pray about it and she was going to discuss us with her husband as they are a team who work together and need to be on the same page. Bo and I prayed and felt led to work with our ‘new gal’ but we didn’t want to offend the agent we were working with. I called her to see what her and her husband had decided and lucky for us, they agreed to take us on (they had NO idea what they were getting themselves into). Bo called our previous agent to let her know we were going with someone else which was an excruciating call to make because she is amazing at what she does and we love and respect her for over a decade since we’ve known her.

We scheduled a meeting with the 4 of us to discuss plans and what needed to be done in order for us to move. We scheduled a work party where they came over and worked with us for an entire night painting with me to finish up the last minute touches on the house after Bos friend graciously sprayed our house, and her husband taught Bo how to install new flooring for us downstairs. We had such a blast, they stayed well beyond their scheduled time because we were just having fun together working, talking, eating pizza & doritos and getting to know each other. What a sweet blessing for all the help they provided and the friendships that started to form. They recommended a carpet guy who came and ripped out our old carpet and installed new carpet for us.

They helped us get the house ‘show ready’, she staged the house for us and hired a photographer to come out and make it look amazing. I know, I have the video and all the pictures, it’s shocking to see our home look so beautiful. A complete transformation.

We continued to search on Zillow & Redfin, We got desperate. Our agent headed a letter that we wrote and mailed out letters to homes I had driven by and picked out as favorites in Enumclaw including our family picture & story. I’m not even sure how many we sent out but we got 1 response from our letters we sent. 1 guy replied who had searched my personal FB page and offered us his home for about $300k over what our budget was.

I gave up. After about 9 months of searching constantly & driving by dozens and dozens of homes, going to open houses, scheduling showings & even making offers, I was ready to be done, admit defeat & plan to stay here.

I asked Bo to pray with me one night, to earnestly seek the Lord and His guidance and direction for our family for a move for us because we hadn’t done that yet. So we prayed. It was so sweet. Then I threw my hands up and decided to invest where we were at. The next day I bought starts for my garden and started planting fruits & vegetables. That night, I found a home on Zillow. But it was in Bonney Lake, the ONE town I said I didn’t want to live in.

God has such a sense of humor, doesn’t He? That was a Friday night.

On Saturday morning, we went to the open house. On Saturday afternoon, we made an offer on the house. Our offer was countered. We accepted. We got a video call late Saturday night that our offer was accepted and we were officially pending on the new house! SHOCKING! Less than 24 hours after finding the house, it was unofficially ours!

Even later on Saturday night, we were advised of a potential off market buyer for our home. Yay, exciting news! We went to bed. Got up and went to church on Sunday morning. After church, we were told the potential buyer was going to be there at 4pm to view our home. We were not show ready anymore. We were about 9 months ago, but not now! So we spent the day cleaning up and getting it ready for the potential buyer.

She showed up Sunday afternoon and our agent made her agent an offer on our home to sell. Our offer was only valid until 8pm to sell our home or we were going to list on market the next morning. She countered Sunday night and we accepted her counter. We were now pending on the new home and the sale of our home!

Wow! That happened fast! Pray Thursday, found the home Friday, saw it Saturday and went pending, showed our home Sunday and went pending on that too! After nearly a year of searching, I’m not quite sure how we found, bought AND sold a home all in less than 48 hours! This market is crazy.

We closed on the sale of our current home on 5/28. We got a rentback for a couple weeks so we could get financing in order for the new home and have some time to get the new (older) house cleaned up a bit, paint & get carpet installed. We closed on the new home yesterday, 6/4.

We were able to meet the selling agents and our agent team (and their sweet kiddos) at the new home last night to get the keys. We were showered with gifts from our lending team (a husband and wife), Thank you to Walter & Emily with https://www.walterhowardloans.com/ . We received such generous gifts from the selling agent team as well, thank you to Allen Gomez Homesmart Real Estate. To our agent, our new friends, Jaelynn & Kory with https://www.iconrealestategroup.com/agents/208276-Jaelynn-Hagen/, we can’t thank you enough. We have had so much fun working together, chatting and getting to know you 2 and your kiddos, we are a bit more of a drive now but we can’t wait to have you guys over to celebrate the success of a years worth of work and just hang out together, relax, watch the kids play and enjoy company and fellowship with you. I pray our new home feels welcome and comfortable for guests to come share life with us. It might be on a blanket on the back porch for a while, but the hugs are the same!

We will be on just over 1/2 acre of land, in a double cul de sac on a private residential street backed up to a greenbelt with neighbors and large lots. Exactly what we need for our family during this stage of life. The home is a bit older and a little smaller but we plan to live outdoors for the most part and the yard is just fantastic. There is a large area of grass for the kids to kick the ball, throw the football, play badminton, tag, hide & seek & whatever else. There are mature trees & even a camping area smack in the middle of the back yard with a fire pit, wooded areas, natural vegetation, flowers and plenty of room for gardens, a rope swing, tree house, ninja course & more for us and our boys. We are SO excited. I found what I believe to be a baby apple tree, I’ve got Hydrangeas, daffodils, tulips, and a PEONY plant! I’m SO excited! I can’t wait to see what blooms and clean the front are up a bit and plant some bulbs for next year! I’ve never had flower beds before and I’m going to here! I’ll get an vegetable garden as well and have 2 strawberry plants as well but I can see there is some wildlife in the back yard eating a lot already so I’ll need to figure out how to protect it.

Change is hard for me. While I’m over the top excited for this new yard for my boys, I’m struggling to leave our ‘starter home’ we planned to be in for only a couple of years that we have had our entire lives in together. We have had 4 (+) babies in this house, we love our neighbors who are our friends, the kids love the neighbor kids and awesome neighborhood parks we walk to everyday to play at. Our neighbors have supported us so much with having baby after baby and Gideon’s heart surgeries, our neighbors are not just neighbors, we love them so. I pray for our new neighbors, that we are blessed with an awesome cul de sac again with a safe place for the kids to ride their bikes & blades, play basketball and football out front with new friends for both them and us. I am thankful we get to stay with our current Classical Conversations co-op community, but I’m so sad to likely be leaving the church where I was baptized 18 years ago, who have loved on all 4 of my boys and helped turn their hearts toward Jesus, marry us and do life with us, the church is our family.

If you have a church recommendation in the South Bonney Lake / Prairie Ridge area, please let me know. I’m on the hunt and haven’t found one online yet that I would like to try but I certainly want to be close to home so the kids can hopefully attend church with neighborhood friends and attend regular events to build relationships locally.

What a wild ride in this crazy market! We will be working at the new house over the next week to get it cleaned up and painted inside and get the carpets installed by the same gentleman that did our carpet here! Moving day is officially next weekend!

Thanks to all of you for praying along this journey with us! I believe God is leading and I am so excited for where we will go and what He will do!

2020 year in review

What a year! I planned a quick update to review the year, but you know from following me, nothing I write is quick. Lol. Buckle up… Here’s a bit of our year!

Current ages, Elijah 8, Moses 6, Solomon 4, Gideon 2
We took the whole family out to breakfast! We felt like we were finally getting our feet under us with taking all 4 kids out and about without it being such a huge ordeal. Then…. Covid!
We participate in 2 different co-ops. Rooted Christian Co-op met on Mondays, though, decided to temporarily stop meeting for the rest of winter. Classical Conversations switched to Zoom meeting and I’m so thankful they did! We figured it out as we went with multiple tutors and classrooms online all at the same time but our director, tutors, moms & kids all did fantastic and made the best of it. We were still able to participate in science experiments and art and met up to receive all supplies needed for us to do it at home. Gideon loves participating in school now.
This isn’t exactly how it’s supposed to look participating in school, but we do our best!
Bo and I had 1 date in July to celebrate our 12 year anniversary. I realized when looking at the calendar and our photos for the year, we hadn’t had a date during the year. Looking back at 2019, we had a babysitter and went out once. 2 dates in 2 years does not create a happy marriage. Clearly, we have some work to do on quality time together in 2021 to try to improve our marriage. So how are we? We are doing ok! Bo has been working from home full time since February’ish which has its pros and cons. His hours were cut a bit and he had an extra day off every other week which was great for scheduling appointments and getting things done since he was around more to help out with the kids. His work schedule is back to normal now but he’s not sure when he will return to the office part time and split his work time between home and the office. He has enjoyed collecting tools this year and working on various projects that interest him. He is also enjoying using his 3-D printer to make some pretty cool stuff, currently he is printing all new, custom foosball players for our table we were just gifted that the kids love. I am still volunteering with the fire department serving as a chaplain, EMT & instructor. I am also enjoying my little home based biz and the community of friends/family joining in that to learn more about health & wellness for our homes and families and look forward to pursuing that with more passion and intentionality this year. I teamed up with a couple close friends to work through some marriage books together and focus on improving ourselves and getting healthy mentally. emotionally & spiritually so that’s helped me/us a lot. As you may know, we had decided to sell our house and move to Enumclaw where we could be more in the country, have some land and woods for the kids to have a yard to play in. We have since changed our mind and are now researching out of state options for a variety of reasons. We don’t know the timeline yet but our house is still all packed up, painted and has all new flooring, we are ready to go! We just need to find a place to go. Prayers appreciated for Gods direction in that.
With quarantine and lockdown, I got much more comfortable taking the kids out on my own. Our backyard is not large enough for the kids to really have a ton of fun out there and they are 4 little boys. They NEED to move their bodies, a lot. So I tried to take them out regularly to different parks and places to explore, run & play.
That also helped me get a start on my own weight loss journey. Taking the kids for walks, rollerblading, bicycling (they did all that fun stuff, I walked/jogged).
We spent most of the summer in our backyard which was awesome this year. We got a little inflatable pool and were gifted a swing set from my parents neighbor who was giving one away. Bo worked hard to ‘bradshaw-fy’ it, making it stable and secure for our 4 boys and installing it safely into the ground. What an amazing blessing that has been. We are so grateful for the ‘park’ we were gifted which allowed us a lot more outside time having fun and moving their bodies. It’s great for school recess when we need to get up from the table and move our bodies. It’s not getting as much use now that it’s so cold and wet. When Bo installed it, he was going to build a barrier around the edge so we could fill it in with wood chips, etc to protect the yard because he said the yard would get destroyed from the swing set on grass. I balked and asked him not to. I regret that now because he was right, I was wrong and our back yard is just a big mud pit now. Shucks.
All 4 boys playing together in the backyard on the ‘park’.
We went to local parks & rivers and enjoyed exploring outdoors together.
Our tiny pool, a little small for the big 3, perfect for the little but they all played together with glee and the big 3 really enjoyed having Gideon out there with them this year.
We found some beautiful local places to play and made sure to stay extra safe around the rivers!
We were able to attend a VBS online this year due to quarantine. I’m so thankful for how the churches and community have worked so hard to best support residents and how the community has come together to try to support those businesses as well. Our church also opened up STEM & PE classes for kids this year which we attended while they were available and the kids loved them. They had 1 hour away from home, away from me each week which all of us enjoyed. I look forward to both of those starting up again so the kids can have that time to learn and play and be with friends again.
I was also gifted some time at a dear friends beach house at Ocean Shores. I was able to take the kids twice this year and I think that was the highlight of my year. Packing up, getting away and having time outside of our 4 walls.. The beach was empty. The kids could run & play, chase birds, chase the beach ball all over the beach and just go. It really makes me see how much physical space can free them to just let go and play.
Our first day of school for the 2020-2021 year with Classical Conversations co-op.
This is my favorite picture of 2020. At Ocean Shores, while we were visiting at my friends beach house. The kids love it here. We eat simply (canned chili, cereal, sandwiches, etc), have no agenda, watch shows, color pictures, play board games, take walks and play on the beach. I would love to bring this more simple lifestyle home to adopt everyday for us, but I’m not sure how to do that with a much larger house, homeschool to do and a lot more stuff. The simplicity of the beach house appeals to me so much and we just enjoy it, though it is a priority for me to feed the kids nutritiously and we have a budget so maybe more good insta pot recipes for me this year. Hit me up with your favorites! I need new quick, easy, healthy ideas that my family will love. One of my new favorites is pesto zuppa toscana.
Gideon is doing great! This is from his annual cardiology visit where we get an echo each visit and an EKG every other. Gideon’s heart is considered fully repaired and he is on no cardiac medications. He has no cardiac restrictions for anything. He can run, jump, play and do anything his brothers do and his cardiologist encourages him to participate fully with physical activities. I spoke with his cardiologist about Covid concerns as well as anesthesia concerns and from a cardiac standpoint, he has none. He does from a respiratory and immune perspective due to Down Syndrome but I’m thankful his heart is so healthy there are no concerns for that. More of his medical considerations posted below under his other picture.
Since we are now attending church online, all 6 of us pile on the couch on Sunday morning and watch church together as a family which I love. It also gives the kids an opportunity to watch the kids programs they would see in the kids classrooms at a later time which I usually save for an evening during the week when I let them stay up late and watch kids church on the IPad together. It’s a win, win, except I really miss the community of church and people in person.
We also started playing a lot more family games. The kids love mouse trap. We have potion explosion, parcheesi, bugs in the kitchen, dice of crowns and 5000 (10,000) we play with dice. We each have our own favorite, ,I would love to find a couple more board games that the whole family loves that only take 10-15 min to play together. Solomon seems to be able to keep up with games that are marked for ages 8 and up so I appreciate your recommendations!
This kids are ridiculous with our dice game we play. They are so risky and either epically fail or get so lucky they double or triple the score. It’s quite entertaining to see the way they reason and play and how their strategies have changed over time.
Gideon still works hard at therapy every week even though we’ve switched to zoom meetings. He meets with his physical therapist once per week and his occupational & speech therapist together once per week. He does much better as the year has gone on at actually participating in therapeutic activities rather than just trying to crawl IN the IPad to socialize with his friends (therapists). Lol. He got a new SPIO suit this year that doesn’t quite fit him yet but he should wear it during all awake hours for core support. He also got new orthotics and medical shoes this year. The orthotics are a bit different with less overall support so he can use his toes to balance more which is great. Other than that, he doesn’t really have any other medical equipment. We are learning to be very specific about his toys. I’ve received things that I thought would be perfect for therapy work for him that have ended up not working out because he just has no interest in them. So I’m trying to stick with the recommendations we get from his 3 therapists who have never led us wrong and only recommend things he completely loves and plays with over and over again, that also have therapeutic and educational benefits for him.
Elijah – he turned 9 in November. He is doing great in school though he doesn’t enjoy doing school work and is always in a rush and often makes mistakes from that. He loves legos and rube goldberg machines, roller blading, sports, and Gideon. His relationship with Gideon is the most precious thing I’ve ever seen. Elijah is Gideons best friend, protector and warrior, and Gideon is Elijahs most loved friend. Elijah prides himself on being able to play with him in a way Gideon enjoys, helping me out with him, doing therapy work with him and since they share a room, Elijah loves reading books to Gideon at night with his reading light until Gideon falls asleep. It is so sweet. Elijah is quite athletic and does well at sports and physical activities. He is also becoming quite mature and has more enjoyable conversations, yet will still manipulate his brothers to get his way. Medically, Elijah is doing great.
Moses turned 7 this year. Moses is just a big ball of energy and excitement on two left feet. I’m not sure if it’s due to his eyesight or just plain clumsiness but he stubs his toes every day. Moses will do his schoolwork independently without grumbling which I appreciate. His only struggle with school work is his eyesight. He gets his eyes checked every 6 months and is ready for surgery to remove his cataracts, medically. Emotionally, we’re not quite there yet. We’ve told him he is going to have surgery soon so that he can see better but he is 1000% against it and doesn’t seem to be budging. Yet. We practice eye drops at home but not enough so we certainly need to do that a lot more and continue talking about his upcoming surgery so he will be more comfortable with it. Moses loves playing cards, riding his bike, playing tag & he enjoys reading but only if it’s super large font that he can see well, which I haven’t found him any books of interest that fit that description yet. We still call Moses ‘Preacher Mos’ as he is often found correcting someone and speaking Gods truths to people. His memory is a steel trap and he excels at our memory work we do for school, beating out the whole school as winner of our end of year challenge for memory work for all kids ages 4-12. He remembers bible verses and stories and will often relate them to everyday life and practical application to what’s going on around him.
Solomon turned 5 this year. He too, is a ball full of energy and spunk. He is also a massive personality stuffed in that tiny little 5 year old body, with a large side of stubborn. He does well at his school work and loves most things.. Cards, games, sports, outdoors, helping me cook, he is both easygoing and super strong willed all at the same time. He loves to snuggle and has the best giggle ever. Solomon is all full of silly and sentiment. His feelings can get hurt pretty easily but he is quick to bounce back and get back to his jolly self again. We found out this year that Solomon has pretty severe allergies to dogs and moderate allergies to cats which means our house is now the hosting house for most things as all the cousins homes have pets. I have always wanted to be a better host, but it’s one of my big weaknesses so I’m hoping this will force me to get better at hosting so it’s more enjoyable for all to visit since we are the go to home now for things. Tips/tricks appreciated for that as well!
Gideon, the star of the show. He is doing very well. We have just started participating in Solomons class at Classical Conversations co-op which I think is going to be very good for him. He is supposed to start developmental preschool in 2 weeks in the special needs program locally, but, due to Covid, they are shut down for now. We can join via zoom but that doesn’t seem to be a viable option to try to have Gideon participate in 3 hour zoom meetings 4 days per week while also homeschooling his 3 big brothers and attending our weekly co-op so I think that’s just not going to work out for us until after the school physically opens and he can ride the bus to school. That’s a crazy thought! Medically, he is doing excellent. We have some concerns about his eyesight but we know that he can see and can even see across the room so the ophthalmologist isn’t too concerned about it. We are still trying to figure out what’s going on with his ears as he has confirmed hearing loss. We haven’t been able to determine which ear and how severe it is yet. He is on the waiting list to schedule a sedated hearing test as soon as they can get us in which will give us definitive answers about how severe his hearing loss really is then we will schedule more sedated tests after that to see if we can figure out why he has the hearing loss which is a bit frustrating for me. If we know he will need to have 2 sedated tests, why can’t we just do them both at once so he only needs to go under general anesthesia once? But that’s hospital policy so we have to follow the rules. His case is going through their cardiac anesthesia team right now to see who he needs to be in the room with for safe anesthesia as he is a cardiac patient so it’s a specialized team that will be with him to stay extra safe. We will also probably be scheduling a sleep study for him in the near future too. We have labs coming up next week before we see his Pediatric Specialist in 2 weeks for his well child check and will review his whole health history then. He’s made great gains this year, saying mama and dada audibly, those are his only intelligible words so he is still deemed non verbal. He got a new AAC (talk box, we call it) but we still aren’t using it as much as we should. He is picking up signs left and right and doing very well with that and will even put 3-4 signs together on his own now, I just need to teach him to call out for someone before he starts signing because I’ll often find him sitting silently at the kitchen signing furiously for water with no one around. “water please, water please, WATER PLEASE” Lol. He started walking this year and walks pretty much everywhere now. He quit the scoot and just this last week, Elijah had him crawling properly chasing him around the house, it was fantastic. He is mostly safe going up and down the stairs alone (we don’t have a baby gate anymore) but still scares me daily because he likes to stand at the top and one of his favorite things to do is drag his toys up the stairs then throw them down. If they don’t make it all the way down, he scoots down to them, leans over head first to pick them up, nearly toppling over, and throwing them down again. I do not enjoy this play but he thinks it’s hysterical and is quite please with the commotion he will cause. He is showing signs of readiness with potty training asking for a diaper when he has pooped or even bringing me one sometimes. I need to get on that. He is so happy, He loves to have conversations now with his baby babble and talking back and forth with someone. He loves BIG hugs, playing balloon catch, swinging, and all things brothers are doing.
We enjoyed Thanksgiving at home this year eating traditional food from my side of the family. We did get a chance to spend some time with Bos family as well so he got some of his traditional food as well. It’s fun to bring the 2 sides together and both of us have some favorites to enjoy.
I’m trying to be more intentional to get pictures of all of us together as I realized I don’t do that often enough. I’ve been spending a lot of time going through my pictures lately which is my happy place and brings me so much joy and makes me realize just how blessed we really are, even during this crazy time of Covid and quarantine. I look forward to 2021 with some hopes, dreams and goals and praying Gods will over our family.

Thanks for sticking with me for this blog! I also hope to blog more regularly in 2021 for those of you who don’t follow us on FB. We appreciate your prayers and I am happy to add your requests to my journal that I update and start over each month so please, feel free to commend or DM me with a prayer request and I’ll be praying specifically for that request in January. Feel free to ask any questions as well, I’m basically an open book so I’m usually happy to share.

God Bless,
The Bradshaw Crew

Gideon’s Cardiac Update 9/20/2019

We had our 6 month post-op follow up with the Cardiologist today. The appointment went great. Gideon was in a great mood, happy and active which made for fun with the nurses, tech & doctor, but difficult with the equipment. We weren’t able to get a good blood pressure on either of his legs which is important since he has a rebuilt aorta, that’s the artery that pumps blood from his heart to his lower extremities and the only way externally to tell it’s working great is to measure blood pressures on his legs and compare them to his arms. He was too active for them to get pressures on his legs today so we couldn’t use that tool. He has great femoral & pedal pulses, which I check regularly as well but it’s reassuring to have the cardiologist check and agree.

He did perfectly (for the most part) getting his EKG. I gave him 1 veggie stick and in the time it took him to grab it and eat it, they got all they needed and printed his report!

He also did excellent for his echocardiogram. We have the tv on at home when the kids watch a show but I didn’t realize until today, Gideon has never really seen the tv. We went into the echo room and she had Paw Patrol playing and he was mesmerized. His eyes were glued to the tv. It was perfect! When he got fussy about her pushing on him or bugging him, I gave him a snack to eat and he chewed and watched the tv and just laid there the entire time. We couldn’t have asked for a more behaved patient!

I have no idea how to read a cardiac echo, but even my untrained eye can tell the difference in his heart from pre-surgery (when his heart was 1 big open bucket) to post-surgery now that he has 4 actual separate chambers in his heart. It’s pretty cool but still gives me a bit of anxiety watching the screen when they do these.

This kid is FLEXIBLE. We are working on strengthening his muscles, tendons & ligaments in therapy because this isn’t really good for him, but can be funny to see from time to time. Especially everyday at the table when we eat meals, He always eeks a foot up onto the table which is absolutely naughty and not allowed but it’s so darn cute! Someday soon I’ll enforce that not b eing allowed. The therapists always ask me “do you want him doing that when he is 6? If not, then stop him now.” Ok ok……. but gosh dang, those little toes peeking over the top of the kitchen table are a-freaking-dorable. Hahaha.

The cardiologist returned to our room after reviewing the images and appeared to be quite pensive. He had a smile, but not a full on, happy, joyful smile. I knew something was up. He said that Gideons heart looks great. I said yeah? He said yeah. Ok, that’s good, I was fearful that it was either his valves or his aorta that were not great then. He said the valves they created (Tricuspid & Mitral) also look fantastic. They are working perfectly, they both previously had ‘trivial regurgitation’ where the blood squirted back into the heart when it was being pumped out but it was very trivial, never a concern. He said there doesn’t appear to be any regurg on the Tricuspid valve anymore at all and if he had a term to use that was less than trivial, he would use that for the Mitral valve.

The #1 concern for these kiddos hearts after this surgery that Gideon had is his Mitral valve and the cardiologist said we would start seeing signs of concern by 18 months post op. Gideon is 14 months post op now and his heart has continued to heal, strengthen and get even better. The tiny VSD that he had left after his last echo has now completely closed and is totally healed.

How about the aorta? That’s the only thing left that could go wrong and we weren’t able to get comparing blood pressures on all 4 limbs to check…. Doctor said his aorta is beautiful. .There doesn’t appear to be any thickening anywhere, the blood is flowing beautifully all the way up and down to his feet, his pulses are great and the output measured even on both sides of his femorals which is fantastic.

“Sooooo………. where’s the but? “I asked. He smiled and said “There is no but!! Gideon looks FANTASTIC! He is growing and thriving and healing better than we could have ever hoped or imagined, he is the perfect patient!”

Really!?!?!?! No but?!?!?!?!!?!!?

No but!!!!

PRAISE JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is no but!!!!!!!!!!!! Gideons heart is functioning within 1% the same as his brothers hearts. Unbelievable. I don’t understand. Cadaver cardiac tissue, bovine tissue and goretex and it’s the same as his brothers. I can’t even understand how that is possible but I can certainly thank God and the team who gave him a new heart. I also need to thank the donor family that provided the cardiac tissue as I have a barcode I can send a thank you note too and it will get to whomever the donors family is.

We don’t go back to cardiology for a year now. We will certainly miss our cardiologist as he is my favorite doctor of Gideons, but we wiill try to swing by when he’s in office at some point to say hi maybe.

As for the rest of Gideon, he’s doing great. We learned new stuff in therapy last week and worked hard throughout the week on new goals and he did amazing after just 1 week of focused work on his head control and neck strength. It was so awesome to see his improvements at therapy this week.

He is very weak on his right side. He also doesn’t have the reflex to put your hands down yet when you fall down so you don’t fall on your face. We are trying to teach him that reflex and also to use his hands as a brace for stability and balance. His arms are also very weak. If I could get him to do pushups, I would. Lol. We are working hard here on gaining strength in his arms and neck, balance and core strength as well.

He also needs to be taught proper positioning for standing and squatting so he can get up and down. This stuff comes normally to typical kids, but for Gideon, it has to be taught and practiced repeatedly. It’s HARD work for him, like a high intensity workout to get into proper positioning then repeat it over and over because those muscle groups haven’t engaged properly or just aren’t strong enough or don’t have any endurance.

He worked so hard this week, it’s the closest he’s ever come to crawling and will be there soon. I believe once he gets his new orthodics (hopefully next week), I can order him a new pair of shoes and he will take off on crawling once he figures out the proper position and isn’t stuck to the floor with his huge, rubber shoes. His orthodics are a hard plastic and just slip out from under him on the floor so he is required to wear shoes over them (I thought about painting the soles of the orthodics with no slip grip paint but then I’d never be able to get his shoes over them so that’s not an option. But he has to wear shoes at least 1-2 sizes bigger than his feet to fit over the ortnodics so I’m going to buy some soft sole, crib type shoes that do have some grip on the bottom so he can get around easier.

Thanks for checking up on us! Prayers for Gideon are for a HEALTHY cold & flu season. The doctors have advised me it would be unheard of for a kiddo with his condition to avoid a hospital stay, specifically this winter (something about their pulmonary/respiratory growth/development during year 2 of their life) so I’d love to be the ones who show it can be done! We can remain healthy and well and not have to have an inpatient hospital stay just because it’s cold/flu season. Continued improvement for his Thyroid, healing from his broken belly button, improved hearing in both ears, strength in his muscles, ligaments & tendons, CRAWLING and heck, he’s about ready to walk too so why not throw that in the prayer bucket!?!

Again, thank you for following along his journey.

One extra special prayer request, Gideons friend, a 4 month old girl who we go to church with is going to have the exact same surgery Gideon had for his 2nd one on September 26th, please pray for her surgery, recovery and their family during that time.

Thank you!!!

9/12/19 Life Update

It’s been a while since I’ve made an update. Here’s the lowdown on
TheBradshawCrew and our prayer requests. (Written a few days ago)…

Gideon… This little nugget here will be 20 months old on the 14th of this month. He is doing fantastic! We have at least 2 therapy appointments per week with occupational / physical / speech therapists and he is a very hard worker and all his therapists just love him. We actually learned some new things about his neck/back today in therapy as they have been trying to figure out why he is still unable to crawl. He has a pretty significant right sided deficit which I believe is due to his plagiocephaly (flat head) he was diagnosed with at birth. It was the left side of his head that was flat so he was laid on his right side for 4 months being swaddled and he has never caught up from that developmental delay it caused. We learned today, with some testing, that he is lacking strength in the muscles in his neck and back. His tummy and hips are getting nice and strong but his neck and back aren’t so he still can’t crawl or hold his head up well enough to look up without using only his eyes or hold the weight of his head up very well. We have new therapy goals as of today geared toward that. We see the cardiologist in 2 weeks for his 6 month echo checkup and I’m expecting excellent results from that. I have been in a bit of a battle with Seattle Childrens about this ‘broken belly button’ issue he’s had off and on since birth. General surgery declined him as a patient but Urology took him on, they can’t see him until the end of October for a consult then they will order the additional scans they need at that appointment to get done at a later time. Frustrating. But it is what it is and he certainly isn’t an urgent case as he is asymptomatic for now. I’m really hoping that it will be a ‘watch and see’ recommendation when we do get to see urology anyways and it will heal up on it’s own. He is being followed by Endocrinology because his Thyroid #’s are out of whack but that’s common for T21 kiddos so he’s just being watched and they have significantly improved since I’ve changed his diet and added a new supplement for him. He will be getting a large panel of labs done in a couple of months to check that again as well as check for celiac as many of these guys have that as well. I try to feed him mostly gluten free but we certainly are not 100% with it. He is also mostly dairy free just because it causes so much constipation and inflammation, we were able to get him off his constipation medication once I took out dairy and added pre/probiotics to his diet and now he poops at least 4x per day. Good boy. Lol. We follow up with ENT/Audiology in a month or so and Opthalomology next year. Gideon is generally very happy, he signs about a dozen signs, he says “da-da” and “wa-wa” (mama), he loves to dance and stand (with support), he loves playing ball and flying. He is the best snuggler when he is tired as well.

Solomon… oh boy, this little fella! He keeps me on my toes the most! He actually keeps me on my face the most praying to God for help on what to do with his spunky little personality. He is 4 1/2 and quite a firecracker of personality. He is the sweetest little Pete ever there was and also ………… the spunkiest little Pete there was which can be something that needs to be fostered into positivity. I just don’t know how to do that very well. He is a healthy little guy, he eats like the rest of them, as if he was a garbage disposal that can never be filled. His health is well, we have no concerns for him right now. We are just trying to figure out the best way to draw out the positive in him and call out his greatness rather than stifle him with discipline and punishment but I have yet to figure out what his currency is. I’m just not quite sure the best way to parent this little fella to direct his heart toward Jesus and call out the greatness that is Solomon, because there is so much greatness packed in this little body. He loves most things, especially riding his bike, playing at the park and swinging.
Moses…. Oh sweet Moses. He just turned 6. This guy is my energetic, most mannered, spunky little guy. I’m not sure if his glasses help him at all yet or not, he goes back to Opthalomogy again in November to see how he’s doing but he sure is cute with those glasses on. I wish he could see better with them. Other than his cataracts, he has nothing medical we are concerned about, thank goodness. He is hysterical, just full of spunk and joy, his favorite thing to do is play video games. Which is quite a challenge for me since I am almost completely against video games. I do like the exercise and sports games they have accessbile on the kinect for rainy days, but other than that, I would prefer to just avoid video games all together and it’s what he talks about most. He loves to ride his bike, play soccer, throw the frisbee, run around like a buffoon and have dance parties and just be a goof ball. He is so fun. He has big feelings too.
Elijah. my doodlebug. He is going to turn 8 soon. I have NO IDEA how that’s possible since I just had him. He is always tired because he has FOMO and doesn’t want to ever sleep. Him and Gideon share a room and he does really well ignoring Gideon if he’s fussing or awake and will sleep right through it but his internal clock is set to wake up pretty early so that he can make sure he is awake before his brothers and he doesn’t miss out on anything. He is the only one in the crew who doesn’t nap anymore even though it would be so good for him. Medically, we have no concerns for him either, he is growing, developing and learning very well. He has taken the brunt of our marriage struggles since he is the most aware of what’s going on around him which is very hard to see. It certainly has affected him no matter how much we try to shield him from it, we don’t do that perfectly and he can feel the tension in the house moreso than I believe his brothers are aware. He recently got to stay a few nights over at my parents house and have some individual time with them having lots of attention and love which was just what his little heart needed. He can read but says that he can’t so he hasn’t taken off with books yet but I hope he will soon, there is so much fun to be found in books, I look forward to the stories the kids will read and tell me about. I need to do better about reading aloud to them more, we read their bible everynight and some other short stories but some days, that’s all the reading we may do and I would like to do more. Elijah is such a help, he has a very special bond with Gideon and just loves him to pieces which blesses my heart to watch.

As for the rest of life, Bo and I are still working through our marriage difficulties. We are getting to our marriage counselor as often as we can get childcare set up to see her and try to alternate those nights with date nights now so we have positive stuff to focus on and look forward to in between. We’ve been on 2 dates now and had a ton of fun at both, they really were a great time. We start our 3rd year of homeschooling this next Monday and attend 2 different co-op’s to help out with that. I do desire to homeschool the kids and love the opportunity but sometimes, it does feel like too much and not enough time apart from each other. We need to find a better balance of homeschool, life and mama having some time to breathe as well. I’m starting to re-organize the kids rooms and plan to put some toys in their rooms so they can play independently upstairs and we can have some time apart from each other sometimes, we’ve never done that before. We spend 100% of our awake time downstairs cleaning, eating, schooling, playing, reading, doing any and everything and mama is trying to figure out how to get some breathing time worked in the day for me between 7am and 9pm when I’m with the kids. I look forward to re-doing their bedrooms and making some play space upstairs now that Bo has completed adding an office into our loft so he can work from home in peace on the days he has that opportunity.

Prayer requests:
Marriage – we still have a lot of work to get it stable & enjoyable.
Elijah – his heart from the tension in the house this past year
Moses – complete healing from his cataracts
Solomon – shepherding his heart toward Jesus and working on behavioral issues
Gideon – a healthy heart, improved thyroid function, healing for the broken belly button, improved hearing, greater strength in his right side, stronger back & neck muscles. I think that’s enough for now.
Of course Bo and I could also use prayer for our own stuff as well.

Thanks for checking in on us and continuing to pray for us! We appreciate it so much!

6 months later…. 6/1/2019

I have had 1/2 of a blog post started for weeks. But I never get back to it. So I just sat down for a couple of minutes to quickly type out anything for those of you praying for us and following Gideon’s story so you’d have an update. :)

This is disjointed, all over the place and in no order at all. Please accept my apology for an unorganized blog & pictures that don’t match or seem to make sense, but they all mean something to me so I’ll do my best to tie you in.

One of my biggest challenges now is feeding my 4 boys. Bo is easy to feed, he’s usually either too hot or too stressed or overwhelmed and doesn’t really eat. The other 4 though, wowzers. I can’t keep up with them. I realized recently that I’ve been so concerned about getting them protein, fruits & vegetables, they rarely ever get any carbs at all. No wonder they are always ravenous and starving! So I’m trying to find affordable ways, that are also nutritious, to fill their tummies. This recipe is one of my favorites right now. Quick, easy, cheap & in the instant pot. BOOM. Dinner done. Yes please. What are some of your favorites that are quick, easy & cheap (also diary free – this one works because we can use sour cream & cheese as a garnish those who can have dairy).

There are days where I just give up on managing the kids screen free all day. It’s my goal every single day, to have them be screen free. To go outside and play, burn energy, have some great school time and for them to have the opportunity to get bored because they get so creative when they get bored and can really entertain themselves for hours if they have the opportunity to get bored and have to create their own fun. This doesn’t happen everyday though. This was one of those days where I just told them to go turn the tv on, zone out and watch something so I could have a breath. Elijah is so sweet with his brother, he took Gideon with him, propped him up on the couch next to him and stuck his leg out in front of him to brace Gideon in and make sure he didn’t roll forward off the couch. Elijah really is the best biggest brother ever and he has a very special bond with Gideon. It’s the sweetest thing in the whole world to see how much Elijah loves Gideon and wants to care for him and help with him. I’m so thankful for his tender heart and his extra special love for his brother.
Gideon used to hate bath time but since I got rid o f the infant insert sling in the tub, he LOVES it. I had to move his bath to our bathroom because he will flood the kitchen and the living room splashing wildly in the sink. It’s hysterical and awesome. I can’t even imagine having all 4 boys in the tub at the same time but I know that’s coming soon!
He is fascinated by the water coming out of the spout. He would probably play happily in the tub all day long if I’d let him.
Gideon sleeps in the strangest positions. He is extra flexible and his most recent awkward flexibility thing is that he will sit up in his bed and chatter and play with his blanket until he falls asleep. He just folds right in half sitting on his butt with his legs out in front of him, he folds at the waist, puts his face down on his feet and goes right to sleep. He is actually napping in that exact position right now. It looks so uncomfortable, I’ll often try to pull his legs out from under him so he can lay flat but he will cry, roll on his back and pull his feet back up to his face to get comfortable again. He has orthodics he wears when he will be in weight bearing positions that go up over his ankles and give him great support for standing and keep his ankles from turning but when he doesn’t have those on, his feet will basically turn almost all the way around in a circle, it’s quite startling to see and pretty gross. Hopefully his muscles, tendons & ligaments will all tighten up as he continues to bear more weight and has his orthodics on to keep him in proper position. He still wears his SPIO suit everyday and likely will keep that until he’s a pro at walking which will be a while. He gets into a 3 point crawl stance with 1 leg sticking out like a peg leg but he hasn’t actually moved at all yet, he puts his forehead back on the floor and flattens out like a pancake. Physically, Gideon is doing great. His heart is working excellently, 99-100% in comparison to his brothers which I still don’t understand as it has cadaver cardiac muscle in it, bovine & goretex but the surgeon says that’s what the goal of his surgeries was so they were successful. It blows my mind but I am just thankful for modern medicine, technology & the surgeons that saved him. I may love my chemical free cleaners and essential oils but I certainly agree that there is a time and place for western medicine, technology & drugs and am so thankful we have such great access to those things where we live.
We are starting to get more serious about sign language with Gideon. This is one of his unofficial signs when I say “How big is Gideon!?!” and he replies with this ‘sign’ as I squeal back at him “SOOOO BIG!!!”. He loves it and thinks it’s the most fun so he will throw his hands up regularly to get that reaction from me. It’s ADORABLE and my most favorite thing right now. He will sign ‘more’ perfectly at the table during meal time until he gets ignored then start just flailing wildly ‘MORE’ with his hands if he still doesn’t get responded to until he finally yells about it. It’s quite entertaining. He knows a few more words like eat, all done, my turn and bye bye so we are working on please and thank you, drink and i’m not sure what’s next.
This is how weekends are supposed to be. Fresh mowed grass & the whole family outside. Perfection. As for Bo and I, he has been back home for 6 months now, we are still in counseling and to be honest, we are still really struggling. We had hoped it would be getting better, be easier, be more pleasant by now.. A lot has changed, there are many differences than before, but it’s still just gosh darn HARD. We cut back on counseling due to scheduling and have missed our last few appointments due to childcare which is difficult to come by. So many friends offer their kids to watch my kids but they are 4 boys. They don’t have a shutoff when it comes to fun, excitement, craziness, or energy. We need someone who can temper their enthusiasm and keep them safe from themselves. Lol. It’s awesome to have caregivers who are young and love to play and can keep up with them, but they also need to know how to shut it down and maintain control becasue they are full of energy and just as much, they are full of spirit and spunk andd could run over a less experienced babysitter like a freight train if they aren’t highly skilled in maintaining control. Affordable childcare is always a struggle, just like filling their bellies.
We frequent the neighborhood parks and I am still so darn thankful that the kids LOVE to go to these parks. It’s as if we’ve never gone before when we go there multiple times per week. Moses just learned how to pump his legs and oh, how funny it is when he does it. Those are his yellow rain boots high up in the sky and his head pointed at the ground on the swing. Hysterical. He had a bocce ball accident last week at a different park and fractured his finger. I learned what a “tuft” fracture is. His finger tip got crushed between 2 bocce balls (nice aim, Elijah) and it crushed the bone in his fingertip. We followed up with orthopedics this past Friday and the bone fragments are healing nicely and as long as he keeps it splinted and doesn’t have any more accidents with it (like brother stepping on it just after we got home from ortho then crashing hard off his bike today – he has no physical limitations per ortho so his bike is fine, as is the swings) it should re-absorb nicely and he will be fine. The only concern is his nailbed since your fingernail extends beyond your cuticle and that’s just where he got hit with the ball is below the cuticle so his fingernail under the skin is damaged. They also said it’s considered an open fracture since the nail was damaged and there is risk for infection to set in there. We keep it splinted, clean & oiled, hopefully it continues to heal well. His eyes are not doing so great. We go back to Opthalomogy next week to get him a prescription for glasses and keep praying for his cataracts to heal because that’s not a surgery I want to have to go through with him. Twice. But his eyes are declining so hopefully glasses will help.
Gideon still has PT/OT every week and now has speech every month as well. We will be working on sign language and cup training in speech therapy. He popped 4 teeth through all at once at the exact same time my milk apparently dried up so there is concern for him to become dehydrated now. He’s never taken a bottle and doesn’t drink from a sippy cup or straw cup yet so he’s getting very limited hydration so we need to work on that, quickly.

Again, my apologies for the unorganized, all over the place blog. We so appreciate you keeping up with us and praying with our family. Current prayers are for our marriage, Elijahs heart/mind as he sees a lot of the struggle we have in marriage, Moses finger healing & cataracts to be healed, Solomons spunk, that it would turn to positive spunk rather than negative spunk & Gideons continued healthy heart & body and learning more sign language.

Kari & the crew

Welcome 2019!

I’m not the type of person who chooses a word for the year or writes out New Year resolutions. I usually try to have a general focus for direction, some loose goals but it’s never very specific. As I look back on 2018 though, the word that shines brightly in my head is “dependence’. This has been a year of complete and total dependence for me. On God, on others, on myself. We welcomed Gideon into our family in January and before he was even born, it was a tornado of chaos with doctors and staff and a dire emergency situation with his birth. Immediately following, he was diagnosed with an emergent, life threatening heart condition and we were rushed to Seattle Childrens where he underwent his first open heart surgery at 5 days old. After over a week of laboring (not sleeping), then living in the hospital for a week, I came down with the flu. I had to go home alone, leaving him without me at the hosptial in the care of the physicians, his daddy and God. I was home sick for a week, alone, recovering from birth, the flu, his first week, a lot. I was in complete dependence of God for every breath. I poured over the scriptures during my days in the hospital speaking the Word of God over Gideon, praying endlessly with every breath for his life. I didn’t get to see my 3 big boys for 12 days. I’ve never been away from them for that long. Ever. They weren’t expecting that, I wasn’t expecting that, my parents and our friends who cared for them weren’t expecting that. I was totally dependent on everyone else to care for my kids for me while I was sick in isolation and Bo was at the hospital with Gideon. We spent almost a month there and came home. Started a new normal. A new routine with a medically fragile baby on a feeding pump, lots of medications, healing up from open heart surgery trying to get fat for his next open heart surgery, having therapy every week, homeschooling all 3 big brothers in 2 different co-op’s. I can’t even comprehend how much help we received those first few months. Dependence on everyone else. Bo and I started really struggling. A lot. We have had a pretty rough go at marriage these first 10 years and have spent the majority of our married lives in counseling. Yet, we still struggled. After the first few months of 2018, it compounded and multiplied.

We participated in a family dedication at our church to dedicate Gideon to the Lord in June. We also had some family photos taken then and, oh boy. The photographer (my friend) who took our pictures is gifted, skilled and talented beyond words. Her craft of photography is unparalleled. Words can not describe what a gift her images are and what they capture. She doesn’t get photographs, she catches literal moments in time where you are sucked right back into when you see the image again. It takes my breath away every time I see the pictures she takes. But these pictures, these were different. Not because she was having an off day, but because she can’t create  something out of nothing. That’s when I really started to realize that I thought our marriage may be over. Seeing those images still breaks my heart and makes me cry, even today. They captured the moment, the feeling, the TRUTH and it was not good. It was very bad. The images were gloriously beautiful images, just not the people captured in them or the feelings. I relied on God to direct and guide our family.

We made it to Gideon’s 2nd surgery in July. He threw us for a couple of loops during his recovery process just like he did during the first one. We were only in the hospital for about 18 days this time. More prayer, more help, more dependence, more God. Gideon did well, recovered nicely while slowing down for some speed bumps along the way and we came back  home and tried to get back to a new normal yet again. Bo and I continued to struggle even more than before. The issues worsened, the feelings deepened, the chasm between us grew even greater. We were released from the counselors we were seeing at the time. Ouch. That hurt. I had put all of my eggs in that basket, either they could help us or we were doomed. I was white knuckling my marriage, holding on so tightly to what I thought I wanted, how I thought it should be, what I thought the kids deserved … I was depending on my own ideas in my head and my own strength to do the right thing myself to fix us. It was getting worse.

I am a huge greeting card person. I love snail mail, I love to have something tangible to look at, hold onto, read and keep. I like to celebrate occasions with greeting cards. Even silly ones like St Patricks day because it’s fun and you can make something special out of the ordinary. So I’m a huge advocate for making or buying greeting cards for occasions just to do something a little extra special. Bo’s birthday was in September. There were no greeting cards on the shelf that had a message that I wanted to say to him. None. I bought something anyways but had nothing to write on my own so he literally got a blank card for his birthday. No “Happy Birthday”, no “I love you”, no “Love, Kari” NOTHING. I didn’t even seal the envelope or put his name on the outside. But he got his card because I am the one that cards are so important to. That was another eye opening experience for me. I had NO words for my husband,  I couldn’t muster up ANYTHING.

Days after his birthday, I asked him to please leave. He agreed. I was shocked. I knew there was no way ever that he would agree to leave the house. Leave the comforts of his home, leave his kids, his belongings, it would never happen. But it did. I didn’t know what to do. I needed help. 4 kids, homeschool, a house, groceries, laundry, church, co-op, meals, more meals, oh the meals. My boys EAT! Lol. So I started seeing a counselor for myself. Gideon was 10 months old and I got a babysitter for the first time ever (with him) so I could go to counseling. I had to get a babysitter so I could participate in drill for the fire station which didn’t happen very often. I was working to fix my own relationship with God because I was able to see just how far I had walked away from Him while Bo was working on himself on his end, living out of the house, away from us. About 6 weeks after he left, we started marriage counseling with someone new. It seems as if all of the work he has been doing on his own for the past 3 months now and all the work I’ve done for the past 3 months is actually starting to help us now as we start to put the pieces back together for our family. Bo came home last night (to stay) after 3 months and 1 day away. We have been so dependent on others for prayer and practical help, for God for wisdom, guidance, patience, and so much more. And now, we will reconcile our marriage and be dependent on God to fulfill the covenant we made with Him and one another when we said our marriage vows 10 years ago.

So I welcome 2019. I hope and pray it can’t be any more difficult than 2018 was and even that it will be AWESOME! A year of reconciliation, a year of growth in the Lord and health for our family both spiritually & physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and relationally as well. I’m shocked that today is New Years eve and Bo just came home and I never even put 2 and 2 together that we can start our new marriage as we start the new year. Pretty cool!






We would LOVE your prayers for our family. I am adding so many names of friends who are struggling to my prayer list as well. It seems as if we struggle alone, behind closed doors and don’t tell anyone about it. But how do you? Make a FB post that says “my husband and I are separated, if you want to come hang out with my 4 boys so I can BREATH for 10 minutes, please come over!’ lol. Many of you reading this will have had absolutely no idea that we have been living separate for the past 3 months. It’s  not something I’m ashamed of, it’s also not something you just blast out there to the public world to see. So a lot of people are sitting at home with their kids, posting cute pics of them on social media (exactly what I did), while they are dying a slow and painful death as they watch their marriage swirl down the toilet. I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to be. I know that’s not how God designed it. We need help. We need each other. We need to be able to walk hand in hand with others who can drag us behind or push us ahead but, be with us, and help keep us moving so we don’t just rot in our sorrow in our homes, alone, with our kids and an absent marriage.  So yes, please pray for us. We are praying for you too.

May 2019 bring reconciliation, health and joy!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

4 months post op – November 2018

We got to see our cardiologist today for our 4 month post op checkup. Gideon did great! The cardiologist didn’t even do a repeat echocardiogram because Gideon is so “robust” now. Lol. What an endearing term. :) Yes, he has grown quite well and gone from 1.5% on the growth chart to 5% on the growth chart in the past 3 months. He weighed in at just over 15 lbs! His heart sounded perfect, lungs sound great, pulses are strong and equal from head to toe, blood pressures were good and he’s got some good fat on his tummy and thighs. All things that made the doctor smile and reassure me that it was a very good repair.  We pray for the next 3 months that his heart continues to heal, specifically that his AV Valve stenosis & Mitral Valve stenosis heal completely and his trivial VSD closes completely. 1 in 4 kiddos who have the surgery he had need additional repair within a few years of their initial surgery and so far, it looks like Gideon will not be one of those kids who do. If his heart continues to heal and improve, the farther away we get from his surgery date, the lower the risk is for needing additional repair. We will do an echo again in 3 months to check his function but so far, it looks like an absolutely excellent repair that should last his lifetime! Thank God!

This is him today hanging out at the cardiology clinic. He’s very comfortable there and loves his cardiologist.

He is generally a very happy guy. Unless he is tired. Or hungry.

Elijah is absolutely enamored with him and the 2 of them have a very special bond. Gideon LOVES his biggest brother so much, it blesses my heart to see how much love the 2 of these brothers have for one another. Look at Gideons face, it’s about to explode with love and giggles for brother.

Gideon is an excellent eater. He is eating pureed baby foods and has 3 solid meals per day. He is still full time nursing as well. He eats himself nearly into unconsciousness sometimes. That could be a problem in the future with portion control but for now, I just want to fill his tummy as full as he will allow and pray for good nights sleep! Lol.

Gideon is starting to love bath time also. He has never been a huge fan but he just kicks back and relaxes. This week he learned that he can splash. And boy does he want to SPLASH now. Just like big brothers did in this same tub for the past 7 years.

We are trying to keep him upright as much as we can to prevent his head from getting flat and strengthen his core muscles so he can sit up hopefully soon. (He will be 1 in a month!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) He has hypotonia (low muscle tone that affects all muscles in his body, including his digestive system) and ligament laxity (ligaments that are too lose) which leaves him with hyper flexion. His right ankle specifically will turn around almost 180 degrees causing him no pain at all. We are hopeful that his Nike Air Jordan high top shoes (borrowed from the therapy center) will be the support his ankles need to remain in alignment and strengthen those muscles properly as he is starting to bear weight on his feet. How cute are they!?!?!

He has recently found his toes and he loves them. I love that he loves them. It’s so adorable.

His therapist and I are working on cup and sippy cup training him now. He is still full time breastfed and doesn’t take liquid from a bottle (his suck, swallow, breathe reflex is perfected for breastfeeding, AWFUL for bottle feeding) so we’ve just never really used a bottle for him. But as we approach his 1 year birthday, it’s time to start progressing so that he can be a little more independt from me and not need me every 3 hours to sustain life. He was drinking watered down yogurt in a cup but we are avoiding dairy as it’s constipating (that whole low muscle tone thing again) so now he gets pureed fruit with water to drink from his cup. He is doing well but no where near holding his sippy on his own or taking more than a sip at a time.

This was just adorable in his “I survived heart surgery, what’s your superpower?” shirt that Janine made for him so I had to post it.

Hands and feet at the same time. The way he GNAWS on his entire fist, you’d think he would be popping out teeth but there’s nothing there yet! None of his brothers had any teeth prior to their 1st birthday so he will get them eventually.

Foot? On the table? Ummm, fella, it’s adorable but poor table manners… Hahaha

We did get hit with a bout of croup in October. That wasn’t fun. All 4 boys. No thank you. We made it through without a hospital admission, thank God. Praying we make it through the rest of cold & flu season HEALTHY!!!

This is a bumbo type chair with a tray and toys we are borrowing from the therapy center. It has a higher back so more support, it cracks me up how his feet hang out. He has a hat laying flat on his head that a brother put there. He is a fun toy for brothers to play with.

Sleeping “like a baby”… he sleeps great for a few hours at a time. We are working on that now as well since his heart is repaired and he is healthy, time for some SLEEP TRAINING! He has had a few nights of sleeping 7 hours in a row, I just need to get those consistently now so we can both get decent sleep!

Prayers are for his heart to continue to heal up, for him to start catching up developmentally since he doesn’t have any restrictions and just general health for him, his brothers and the family as a whole. We have a few more appointments coming up in the next  month and will be posting more then as we celebrate his year birthday and have lots more testing done and labs to take a “global look” at him being 1 year from his first open heart surgery.

The other 2 families who I had asked for prayer for are doing GREAT! Both babies have been released from the hospital and are home with their families growing and thriving. It’s hard to bring a medically fragile, special needs baby home with all their meds and everything that comes along with it and we only came home with a few meds and a feeding pump so those families could both use your prayers. 1 of the babies had her 2 surgeries and is doing well, the other is waiting until he gets a bit bigger for his big surgical repair but he had his first and is doing well also. These kids are SO STRONG. Might warriors just like Gideons name means.  :)

THANK YOU for following along his journey and supporting our family throughout this. Much love and many blessings to all of you! <3


October Update – 13 weeks post op

Gideon is just over 3 months post op now! WOO HOO! His heart is fully repaired and he has been doing very well. We have had a few hiccups and bouts of croup, thanks to brothers sharing their germs with him but I hope and pray we are over the worst for this season already. We have had 1 visit with the pediatrician, 1 trip to urgent care, 1 trip to Seattle Childrens ED and 1 call to 911, all in the past 3 weeks. I’m done with this season already! Lol.

Gideon has taken it all in stride and continues to have a happy dispostion. He really is a crack up. He is learning how to giggle and smiles so hard it looks like his face is going to explode because he doens’t let the giggles roll out very well yet.  He is quite a ham and cracks himself up which is hysterical.

I just recently learned, thanks to the help of friends that he was  all done with the swaddle. I also learned that he needs more food. He’s become quite the little piggy! I finally bought baby food in a jar from Fred Meyer. I’ve never bought baby food for the kids before, I always made my own but I’ve never had so much to do before and don’t have as much time as I used to so I bought it and OH MY GOODNESS!!! How convenient is that!?!?!?! It’s the coolest thing ever! Crack open a jar, shove it down his pie hole and be done with it! I do hope to make my own soon and just added sweet potatoes to the grocery list so maybe next week I’ll make a little bit of home made food in addition to the oatmeal I make for him. His sleep schedule is a bit out of whack but we’re working on it. He generally naps in the morning and the afternoon and it’s hit or miss at night. I sleep for either 2-3 or 4 hours. Usually not all in a row. We’re working on that as well :)

He continues to grow stronger and stronger. He rolls over constantly and is always on his tummy if I put him on his back on the floor. He isn’t sitting up on his own yet but that’s not too far away. He’s started standing up on me as well when I sit him on the boppy pillow in my lap facing me, he likes to stand up. I’m going to have to inquire about leg braces soon as  he has low muscle tone as well as hyper flexibility so his feet actually turn almost all the way around, it’s very freaky to see and grosses me out quite a bit. He may need a bit of assistance getting the muscle strength and control in his legs/ankles/feet to have proper positioning to start standing and walking in the future. He seems ready to crawl as well, he has more strength in his legs than his arms so he can usually be found scooting on his face, lol. He’s working on it :) We were all excited to be off sternal precautions at 8 weeks and off isolation protocol as well but I think we exposed him to too much stuff so we’re back on a modified isolation protocol where we avoid places with large crowds (church, school, etc) and stay home as much as we can. It sucks sometimes. We really miss school and church, those are generally the only times  I see adults and we can’t go to those anymore. I’m so thankful we live in a cul de sac and I have neighbors so I do get to see adult eyeballs and have a normal conversation from time to time because I don’t talk on the phone very much either. We were blessed to enjoy a beautiful day at the pumpkin patch last week with my parents though, it was a perfect day!

I’m excited to report that the 2 other families I had asked for prayer for are both doing GREAT! The baby in Texas was just able to finally have her open heart surgery the other day and is recovering well, she made quite the turnaround! The pregnant mama who was told her baby wouldn’t live had her baby. He lived! He is HOME! In their house with them! He was transferred to Seattle Childrens just after birth where he had some stents put in at the Cath lab and is now home growing and getting big and strong for his 2nd (of 3) surgical procedures he will have on his heart while he gets on the transplant list and waits for a new heart when he gets a bit bigger. Another amazing testimony!

As for us, right now, Solomon has a cold which he is attempting to share with his brothers. I’m pulling out all my hippie stops to try to prevent it. Vitamins, pro biotics, oils, supplement drinks, elderberry syrup, silver, sleep. I am NOT up for another round of sickness in our house. Not at all. Not even a little. Prayers for Solomon to heal and the rest of all to be protected against any bugs and for a HEALTHY season for our family! We are doing well but we could certainly use a bit of a break for a period. We see the Cardiologist again and get a repeat Echo in December and look forward to great results then. Gideon calls, I have to get! Thank you so much for following along and praying for our family! We appreciate you so much!

Many blessings!

8 weeks post op – 9/26/2018

Gideon celebrated his 8 week post op anniversary this past Friday, 9/21. We had the privilege of seeing his cardiologist again which is always a treat. This time it was even better! He had another  echocardiogram which gave us even better results than the last one! His last echo showed trivial Tricuspid Valve regurgitation as well as Mitral Valve regurgitation and stenosis. Both of those were expected after having the surgery he had and at the previous appointment, they were so minimal, they said they would likely never need to be repaired.  They had never expected them to improve, but they have! When the cardiologist told me to listen to his heart this time, I listened and moved the stethoscope all around on his chest trying to hear his murmur and couldn’t find it. I figured my ears weren’t hearing that well that morning becuase I told him “I can’t hear his murmur today” and he looked back at me very excitedly and said “It’s because it’s GONE! He doesn’t have a murmur anymore!” We were both totally shocked!  The echo showed that his heart has healed and up even more and his Tricuspid Valve regurg is gone and his Mitral valve regurg & stenosis are both improved and based on that, he believes they will continue to improve even more. But this result was even better than they could have ever hoped for being as massive of a repair that they did on his heart. PRAISE JESUS!!!!!!!!!!! So, so, so darn exciting! He told me that Gideons heart is functioning at about 95% compared to what his brothers hearts are functioning and within another month, after his post-op recovery time is complete, his heart should be at 100%, exactly the same as his brothers. I can’t fathom how that can be as he had a cadaver donor for his aorta and has bovine (cow) and gortex in his heart but he assures me, this is true. Ok, I’ll take him at his word. Thank you God, thank you modern medicine, technology, Seattle Childrens, the surgeon, the whole darn team. So much thanks to give. Thank YOU for the prayers! Wow. I’m just blown away.

Near the end of our appointnment, the cardiologist told me “I’ll see you in 3 months” with a smile on his face. I got tears in my eyes and said “But what about cold and flu season? We need to see you again during this time.” He assured me that I do NOT want to be taking to any doctors office for the next 6 months or so, to avoid him and all other doctors offices like the plague. He said Gideon is doing fantastic, better than ever expected and whatever I do for the other 3 boys to keep them healthy and well, I need to do for Gideon. I told him I generally do try to avoid doctors offices like the plague and often deal with sickness at home with supplements, essential oils & rest. He said that’s perfect, do the same for Gideon and call him if he gets sick at all and we will discuss it. He said he knows I can take an accurate pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate, check his capillary refill times and monitor, ever so closely, his work of breathing and trusts I will report accurate findings to him and we can talk on the phone if Gideon shows signs of a cold or anything. SCARY! He also trusts I will call him at the first sign of anything because I’ve proven that to be true in the past.  So he basically sent me on my oily way to care for Gideon like I do the rest which is awesome and terrifying. Lol.

We also took Gideon to a specialist this week for Trisomy 21 to make sure I know what I’m supposed to know and providing him with the best care and support that I can for his growth and development. Our childcare didn’t work out so we had to take all 4 boys to the appointment with us which was a nightmare and super duper high stress, but they all did fantastic and it went off really well. I’m so thankful we have these coloring kits that have always been reserved for doctors appointments only so they never get to use them unless they are in the doctors office so it’s a lways a special treat when they get to play with those. Food helped keep them quiet’ish too. Lol. The specialist had reviewed all his cardiology notes, copied all the notes from my phone into her report of all the questions I had listed to ask her and we discussed everything. it was great. She agrees with the cardiologist and pediatrician to avoid the doctors office like the plague, gave me a recommendation for switching his vitamins and basically just reassured me that we are doing everything that we can to best support his growth and development and he seems to be doing fantastic. Keep up with the weekly therapy, treat him like all of his brothers, same standards & expectations, same rules & regulations and he will grow at his own pace. She did mention most often kiddos that have stronger legs than arms with T21 usually take their first steps around 22 months of age. I’m wondering how accurate that will be so I guess we’ll find out in the next year or so. Gideon is 8 1/2 months old and is finally rolling over back to front and front to back and holding his head up well. He doesn’t have much strength in his arms so we are working on that but both the therapist and the specialist said he will just figure it out one day that he can push up on his arms and start doing it and move on from there.

The specialist also told me Gideon will be a very visual learner so I need to incorporate a lot of visual stuff into his learning. I’m going to do my best to learn at least a little bit of sign language to start there, similar to what I did with the other kids but I want to incorporate that into our schooling as well. With Classical Conversations, the homeschool co-op we are doing now, it’s mostly all memorization using songs and hand gestures so I’m going to try to find a source of the songs with ASL hand gestures so we can start learning proper ASL signs for the songs we are currently singing. I would love for us to learn at least some ASL rather than just random, made up fun signs to go along with our songs, especially if it will benefit Gideon even more. I’ve always loved ASL but never really learned more than the alphabet and about 15 words, most of which I’ve forgotten so I’m going to try to figure that out soon.

Gideon made it up to 12 pounds so that’s great! He eats 3 meals per day (solids) and nurses 4-5 times per day and 2-3 at night. We are going to re-start sleep training with him again now that we are clear the official post op period, with the blessing of all 4 of his caregivers (pediatrician, cardiologist, specialist & therapist) and hope to get him sleeping a bit more at night again. He used to sleep 8-10 hours in a row before surgery but then he got hooked up to the NG tube on continuous feeds again and woken up every 4 hours for vitals so that’s what he still does now at home is awake at least every 4 hours. Mama needs a little more sleep so we will do our best to work on that.

All in all, Gideon is doing fantastic. We are praying fervently for a healthy fall/winter season. I know of another heart mama whose baby is unrepaired (hasn’t had their heart surgery yet) who is currently fighting for her life and not winning the battle because of what started out as a cold. Her baby caught a cold and is now on life support with a long host of other, more severe, life threatening issues and is not doing well. The prognosis is not good. She is at her babies side with her 3 bigger kids at home and she can’t hold or even talk to her baby. She can sit silently and pray and that’s about it. I cry everyday for her because I remember those days. Sitting silently, desperately begging God to save my baby paralyzed in fear that he may slip away. Please pray for that family. Also that we remain healthy during this time, Gideon is repaired so he is in a better place but he is still highly susceptible to something like this. Please also pray for my other friend who is waiting desperately to hear some good news from a 2nd opinion doctor to see if there is any hope of saving her unborn babies life. She is 36 weeks pregnant and they have said her baby is terminal and not a candidate for surgery once he’s born so he will not live. He looks perfect on ultrasound, he has the sweetest name and most precious family and siblings just waiting for him to be born but they have been told he won’t live. They too, need your prayers.

I have so much more I would like to update and share but this has taken me a week to accomplish and I just remembered Gideon has therapy in a few minutes so I need to pick up before she arrives so we have a place to work with him.

THANK YOU for the prayers for our family and the other families. We pray for health & mental & emotional processing and healing for Bo and I. I’m starting therapy tomorrow actually to help me process through some of this stuff so I can try to work through it in a healthy way and start getting my mind and heart in a good place again. There has been a lot that’s gone on in the past 8 months with pregnancy, delivery, Gideon & all that’s involved with him as well as the other 3 boys, family stuff, marriage stuff, life stuff, just lots of stuff. I have a lot to unpack and resolve and look forward to starting that process in a healthy way with the help of someone who knows how to deal with it properly.

Love you all!

Friday 8/31 – 5 weeks post op

Today is 5 weeks from his surgery day! He is doing great! We haven’t had any appointments this week which has been fantastic. We’ve enjoyed time at home and outside playing with the neighbors. We are still in isolation mode, avoiding densely populated areas like grocery stores & church, but look forward to getting out a bit more in the near future. Gideon is eating well, exclusive breastfeeding with solids 1-2 times per day and he has kept it all down for the most part. I will keep introducing more foods that are high fat and high calorie to make sure his nutritional needs are met but he gets most of his nutrition from breastfeeding. Apparently I’m back to making an ok quantity of milk for him with the 2 tablespoons of solids he gets per day. Right now his diet consists of full fat, whole milk yogurt with a little multi grain cereal to make it a bit thicker or avocado with breastmilk. I’m going to puree some chicken for him tonight with milk and see how he does with that. At almost 8 months old, he should be able to eat pretty much everything we eat but we know he’s got a bit of a sensitive system and he doesn’t have the strongest airway so I need to make sure everything he gets is the right consistency so he doesn’t choke on it. He also doesn’t have the oral motor development to move food around properly in his mouth which is a choking hazard to be aware of when I feed him. He has lost quite a bit of muscle tone having spent 5 weeks on his back so his head control isn’t quite as good as it was before, nor is his core strength so he’s not as sturdy as he used to be i the high chair sitting up to eat solids. But he will get there again! 1 more week of sternal precautions and we can get back to working on his core strength therapy exercises and sitting up assisted, etc.

His foot is mostly healed up, it’s still bruised but it’s pretty much back to normal size. He’s got toes and an ankle again so that’s great!

His sternotomy & chest tube scars are healing nicely. He had 2 chest tubes during his 1st surgery but only had 1 this time plus the extra one they put in under his armpit and the redness is almost all gone. We have to remain extra careful until those are completely closed/healed to make sure that’s not a place infection can start. He is finally starting to gain weight again. It’s slow but we’re headed in the right direction. He has gained .14 kilograms according to our scale at home in the past 7 days.  Not at lot but as long as he is continuing to gain, we are thankful.

We have so many praises. He has only had a few episodes of the vomiting, hopefully that is done and over with. His foot is almost back to normal. His weight is heading in the right direction without the NG tube on breastmilk and solids. He is making great pee without any Lasix. He is settling nicely into a new sleep, eat, awake routine and while it’s a bit unpredictable, it’s easy to see what he needs when he needs it so I’m trying to be ok with just meeting his needs on the fly rather than on the clock schedule like I’m used to.

We would love continued prayers for excellent health for all of us in our home, continued weight gain for Gideon and milk production for me and continued healing for his foot.

Tonight is our last meal on the meal train, that has been such a HUGE blessing to us, thank you to everyone who provided a meal physically for us or sent a gift card for delivery or we even had doordash deliver food one night, I’ve never used a food delivery service before but that was pretty cool! We have been so blessed by your generosity and taking such good care of us! I had meal planned for the week and grocery shopped so I have been making our meals again and getting into a good routine with Bo going back to work, but I do have to say, some days are easier than others so having a meal in the freezer I can just throw in the oven or pressure cooker or on the stove that’s already done has been a huge blessing too. I still have 2 meals left in the freezer that I can pull out on crazy days to feed us.

We are so grateful and thankful to you for praying with and for us throughout this whole journey!