Tuesday, November 28, 2017

October & November

Man, oh man, the last time I updated was around Olivia's birthday and here we are, nearly 2 months later and already knocking on the door to December.

The lack of updates are for nothing else than a lack of time. Between school, taking the kids to and from activities 4 nights a week and all other things that life holds, time just keeps on ticking away. It's sad really, how utterly fast time keeps passing by.

Let's rewind.

Olivia turned 8 on October 1st. We had celebrated her birthday a few times and did so over Labor Day with Jeff's side of the family where Olivia got to celebrate with her best friend and cousin Makayla. They got a few BFF necklaces to share. :) Olivia and Makayla are still pen pals and Olivia absolutely loves to get letters from her in the mail. Even though their letter writing has slowed because summer is over, they still find time to write back and forth which is pretty sweet.

I find it very important to get out of the house and be around other kids for both Landen and Olivia since we are doing school at home. Olivia does dance and Landen does tae kwon do.

Olivia started dance back up in September so she attends classes every Monday and Thursday evening. She's the youngest girl in her Hip Hop class but she tries very hard and does her very best and has a lot of fun which is what's most important. In her Monday class, there are 4 girls and she does a great job of keeping up right along with them. This is her pre-competition dance group so she's looking forward to competing this spring.

This year, Olivia applied for and was awarded a 2017 recreation grant through the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation that is applied to her dance tuition. This is a pretty awesome foundation that you can read about by clicking the link above. This foundation puts a focus on exercise and physical activity as a means to improve life and longevity for those living with CF.

Olivia had to fill out an application and write an essay about why she feels she would benefit from receiving the grant. She was very proud of herself when she found out she was awarded the grant and we couldn't have been more proud of her too. Here's Olivia's essay:

"I would like to receive the Recreation grant so that I can get exercise and be healthy and not get my lungs sick. I like my dance classes because they are fun and I get exercise. This year I'm doing Hip Hop and Jazz and I get to wear fancy costumes to dance. I'm doing competition dance and I'm excited to perform on stage and a little nervous. I hope I win awards, trophies and medals. I love to dance! If I receive the grant to help pay for my dance classes then we can use my mom and dad's money for other things like maybe shopping and other fun stuff"

It's a pretty sweet essay she wrote and clearly shows her girly side and what's important to her, shopping! 😃

Over MEA break the weather was pretty nice so the kids and I spent some time outside ATVing and dirt biking and just enjoying the time away from school and classes. Landen has also developed a love for playing football so the 4 of us will usually play some form of catch or touch football everyday at least for a little bit when the weather and time permits. Landen and Jeff play catch in the living room, knocking down the popcorn ceiling in the process, however I'll allow it, until something that matters gets broken.

Halloween this year was so utterly cold and awful, the kids had to wear snowsuits under their costumes and we literally hit up about 4 houses in the neighborhood and headed back home. After all, it certainly isn't for a need of candy as we always have plenty leftover at our house, it's just the act of getting out and trick or treating. This year Olivia was a witch and Landen, continues to grow up too fast and he was a creepy hazmat zombie character.

As Halloween is one of my favorites, I always like to have the entire family dress up. Landen found Jeff a Bob Ross costume to wear. Both Jeff and I occasionally watched Bob Ross paint his "Happy Trees" as we were growing up and given the fact that Bob Ross was such a remarkable artist, Jeff obliged. I'm a sucker for couple's costumes so I told Jeff I'd be his painting/masterpiece.

My costume turned out to be one of the cheapest Halloween costumes yet. I bought a piece of foam board for a few dollars and using the kids paint brushes and paints, I crafted my own Bob Ross inspired "Happy Trees" painting by watching a video of him on you tube and painting away as Bob instructed. It was pretty fun. After I had finished it I texted Jeff a picture and his response was "Where did you get that?" I could read the cringe in his voice as if to ask me how much money I spent on it. When I told him I painted it myself, he didn't believe me, luckily the kids were my proof that I did. Jeff told me I missed my calling. Maybe someday I'll have time to sit around and paint happy trees; my stress, anxiety and blood pressure I have no doubt would be much lower, but for now, no more paintings in my near future.

Into November, more school and more after school activities. We anxiously counted down the days to Thanksgiving when we got another break from school. I was looking forward to eating good food, watching football especially since the Vikings were playing and are doing good this year and doing a whole lot of nothing. We ended up playing a lot of games, pictionary is the kids' new favorite and of course we spent time outside playing football. It was a quiet holiday, spent quietly at home but all was good. 

Now it's almost December and our Elf on the Shelf has made his grand return to our household along with a new reindeer friend to play elf games with the kids all season long. We also start up the advent calendar this Friday which Olivia reminds me daily that I better finish up! So crazy to believe that Christmas is right around the corner, it feels like we just ended summer! It's sure to be a fun season with many fond memories to cherish. We are all looking forward to watching our puppy Sammy on Christmas morning, tear open what Jeff and I think will be everyone's Christmas gifts!

Olivia had an appointment at Children's for the research study she's been enrolled in for 2 years. She is nearing completion of it and has just 6 months left which are composed of 2 more visits. We enjoy our visits with our research coordinator, so it'll be sad to finish up the study in that regard but we will continue to participate in future studies that open up for Olivia to partake in. 

Olivia goes back for her next CF Follow up in a few weeks. After the doozy of an appointment/tests that were her September appointments, it's sure to be an interesting one. She has been doing very well with her weight so that is good and since her glucose is considered "impaired" we have been eliminating most sugary sweets from Olivia's diet and when she does get sweet treats, we try to pair them with high fat foods. When the kids do get soda pop for a treat we have switched hers to diet. Such a scam and so frustrating all that CFRD will entail but I've continued to tell Olivia that we will do what we can now and just keep pushing on and deal with the official diagnosis when it arises. I've also told her there is nothing she could do to change it and it's not her fault. I remind her that given I had gestational diabetes with both her and Landen, the odds of myself getting diabetes are great and I'll probably get my diabetes before she does or shortly thereafter. This calms her a bit but, still another pile of shi* in an already overflowing bag for this girl, it gets to be too much for her some days. At least we have this time when she's in the "impaired zone" to somewhat prepare for what lies ahead with CFRD. 

On that note, I'll leave you with this. 

Olivia and Landen are very different children. When Olivia was fortunate enough to be able to attend kindergarten at public school, she was a people person, everyone was her friend and she loved it. She's very outgoing, she loves people and pleasing people. Landen on the other hand is more like Jeff and I, an introvert, but Olivia, she is not. Both kids enjoy home school but it's not quite the same for social interaction. 

Everyday Olivia awaits the arrival of the mail truck with the hope that she'll have a letter in the mail from Makayla, or her pen pal in school or a magazine to look at, anything really. The look of pure joy on Olivia's face when she receives something, coupled with a sprint back to the house is precious. The look of sadness when there is nothing in the mail for her, pains my heart. Over the holiday weekend she'd endlessly check her school email to see if her pen pal had responded. Both Jeff, I and Darci have begun to email her which she really enjoys and I've told Jeff that I am about ready to write her letters anonymously and mail them so that she can get a letter in the mail more often. Time is something she doesn't quite understand, in the regard that not everyone has an endless amount of time to receive a letter from her and write back immediately. However, this simple joy that a letter can bring to Olivia is too good not to share with those of you out there that care. 

For anyone who would like to write Olivia a letter and bring happinessto her this holiday season, I can promise you two things. 

1) You will bring an enormous amount of joy to her face when she receives a letter in the mail
2) She will run with her letter back into the house, tear it open meticulously, read it with a smile on her face and then head up to her room to write and draw pictures back to you, the person whom she got a letter from. 

*If you'd like to write a letter to Olivia via the mail and need our mailing address or would like to email her and need he email address, please email me at bm_fiala@hotmail.com and I will get you the information. 

Until next time, Happy Holidays!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Cheers to 8 years

Olivia turned 8 on October 1st.

I think she had been counting down the days leading up to her birthday for about 3 months prior to it!

After all, birthdays, the gift of another tomorrow, and the accomplishment of living another year longer are no small feat when you live with a life-threatening disease. In turn, we try to make everyone's birthday in our household a pretty special day and big hooray.

This year we celebrated most of Olivia's birthday a day early.

We headed to the Wildlife Science Center for a tour of the animals. Wolves remain one of Olivia's very favorite animal so another trip this year to see and learn about them up close was one of her top requests.

Olivia also wanted to go bowling, to the arcade and have a pizza party with her soda pop in a purple bowling bin drink holder. This purple bowling pin proved to be a pretty big deal so we are glad we could make that one little wish come true for her.

She did not look this happy until she got the bowling pin, in fact, I thought she was sick and not feeling well prior to this.

Cosmic Bowling
We were fortunate to have Grandma and Grandpa, as well as Darci and Braelyn join us for the celebration. We ended the evening celebration with a fall campfire. It was a busy, fun and special day for Olivia.

On October 1st, Olivia's actual birthday, she woke up bright and early and got all dolled up for her special day in a new dress and boot outfit she had been reserving for the day she finally turned 8. It was pretty sweet. Darci and Braelyn dropped off a few gifts and Olivia was super excited to open the front door to find her treasures from them.

Olivia opened her gifts from us in the afternoon and was super pumped that she received many of her wish list items, including the new kitty bedding set she had been wanting for quite some time.

Landen and I had a 500 kick/5k to run in the afternoon for a fundraiser for his tae kwon do competition team. As luck would seem to have it, the rain and wind picked up right as we started the race and ended when we had just about finished, but it was still a fun event and both Landen and I were impressed that we were able to complete the 500 kicks and 5k in about 20 minutes.

Olivia chose a Moana birthday cake so we spent the rainy afternoon snacking on popcorn and candy while watching Moana for probably the 20th time.

It was a glorious birthday weekend, made special for a very remarkable, little girl.

As I tucked Olivia into bed on the eve of her birthday, she asked me if tomorrow would still be special. I told her that everyday is special even if it's not your birthday and that she'll still be 8 when she wakes up. She told me she had a lot of fun with me and I reminded her that I have fun with her every. single. day. She seemed content, and then cuddled into her new kitty bedding and went to sleep.

Here are a few questions I asked of Olivia now that she is 8 years old.

Q: What is your favorite color?
A: Pink

Q: What is your favorite toy?
A: My white Kitty

Q: What is your favorite fruit?
A: strawberries and grapes

Q: What is your favorite tv show?
A: Moana

Q: What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
A: Noodles with butter and Parmesan cheese

Q: What is your favorite outfit?
A: A dress, headband and sneakers

Q: What is your favorite game?
A: The Scrambled States of America

Q: What is your favorite snack?
A: Fruit snacks

Q: What is your favorite animal?
A: Wolf, puma & cat (sorry Sammy 😊)

Q: What is your favorite song?
A: Taylor Swift, "Look what you made me do"

Q: What is your favorite book?
A: All about Cats & Kittens and All about Dogs & Puppies

Q: What is your favorite subject in school?
A: Art

Q: What is your favorite sport?
A: Dance

Q: What is your favorite thing to do outside?
A: Monkey bars & go for a gremlin walk with Sammy

Q: What is your favorite drink?
A: Koolaid

Q: What is your favorite holiday?
A: My birthday

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: A veterinarian

Q: What are you excited to do now that you are 8 years old?
A: "Since I'm 8 I'm happy that I get to pick on Landen more, because he picks on me."

Q: If you could wish for any one thing what would it be?
A: For my family never to die

Q: What are some of your favorites?
A: Shopping at Justice, playing with Sammy, teasing my cat and dance

and in true kid fashion, Landen didn't want to be left out so here are his questions & answers too:

Landen -  10 years old

Q: What is your favorite color?
A: red

Q: What is your favorite toy?
A: legos

Q: What is your favorite fruit?
A: strawberries

Q: What is your favorite tv show?
A: Lego Batman

Q: What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
A: Nachos

Q: What is your favorite outfit?
A: comfy clothes (this kid hates jeans!)

Q: What is your favorite game?
A: The Scrambled States of America

Q:What is your favorite snack?
A: icecream

Q: What is your favorite animal?
A: buffalo

Q: What is your favorite song?
A: "I'm the One" featuring Justin Bieber

Q: What is your favorite book?
A: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
A: Math

Q: What is your favorite sport?
A: Tae Kwon Do

Q: What is your favorite thing to do outside?
A: Monkey bars

Q: What is your favorite drink?
A: Koolaid

Q: What is your favorite holiday?
A: Christmas

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: An engineer

Q: What are you excited to do now that you are 10 years old?
A: Drive the golf cart around.

Q: If you could wish for any one thing what would it be?
A: to live in Hawaii

Q: What are some of your favorites?
A: swimming, tae kwon do, video games and Legos

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

CF Annual Study Results

Olivia had her CF annual studies back in the beginning of September. To say it was an exhausting day would be an understatement. We began the early morning with the OGTT. We tried everything to convince Olivia that this test was not that big of a deal as she's done it twice before, and even after the pain free iv placement she still had herself all worked up and her stomach in knots. I could tell by the look on her face that pulling off this test was not going to be easy.

We were given 10 minutes to get the entire glucola solution into her via the g-tube. I pumped some in, took a break, pumped some in, took a break, and finally finished right at the 10 minute mark. I immediately tried to distract her as I could see the anxiety written all over her face. She kept saying it was gross because even via her g-tube she could still taste it. Long story, long - she puked up an unverified amount within 15 minutes.

To say I was very upset, would be another vast understatement. This test is done once per year beginning at the age of 6 at our CF clinic, and it is the basis for determining CFRD. I knew this test was of the utmost importance this year because I strongly believe we are on the brink of having Olivia being diagnosed with CFRD, given the history of her last year's OGTT along with some other symptoms she's been having. I also know that trying to get this test done once per year is stressful and anxiety inducing enough for Olivia so if this test wasn't useful because she vomited up who knows how much of the glucola, a repeat in the near future wasn't going to go much smoother given how worked up she gets over this test. I can almost imagine the steam that was spouting from my ears because I felt at a complete loss. I told Jeff we might as well throw in the towel as the test wasn't going to be accurate. I spoke with the administering nurses and they said none of the blood work would be run until the test was complete, thus we should proceed. I then spoke w/ our CF practitioner, she too said to keep going with the test and that regardless of the results we wouldn't need to repeat it "soon" as long as Olivia wasn't showing other signs of CFRD. Thus, we proceeded with the 3 hour test.

At the end of the OGTT, we quickly headed down to radiology for Olivia's annual chest x-ray and then I decided to postpone the remaining afternoon appointments of pft's and a follow up with our CF team as we had all had enough. Olivia was soaking wet with vomit, (note to self: always bring extra clothes to appointments) not to mention I'm sure very queasy from lack of food and the 20 plus vials of blood that were drawn from her, thus we headed home.

The following week we headed back down to clinic for the rescheduled appointments. We began with pft's. The technician was new to the clinic and one we had not had before, so it's hard to say if it was the lack of coaching and familiarity or that there are underlying issues going on that showed a drop in Olivia's pft's since the last few visits. Again, another somewhat invalid or questionable test. Do you see a pattern here?

We then headed over to talk to our CF team. Olivia did gain weight over the summer so that was good. Olivia's blood work and all the tests that were run from the umpteen vials of blood all came back in the normal range. Her chest x-ray was unchanged from last year, and maybe even a bit better from the condition of her lungs back in May when she was hospitalized, although it still breaks my heart. The continued damage to her precious lungs from this wretched disease just plain sucks. The x-ray continues to show minimal peribronchial cuffing, which as defined from wikipedia is: peribronchial thickening or bronchial wall thickening, is a radiologic sign which occurs when excess fluid or mucus buildup in the small airway passages of lung causes localized patches of atelectasis (lung collapse). 

We then reviewed the OGTT results and just as I had predicted, the test was pretty much invalid. Olivia's 2 hour mark for the test continued to show elevated glucose levels when they should have been going down. Had she not vomited to invalidate the test, this would have indicated a follow up with endocrinology to begin a treatment plan for CFRD. However, because the test can't be interpreted 'as is' because of this, we are to repeat it in 6 months to a year.

Other symptoms of CFRD, include increased thirst and urination, a drop in lung function, weight loss and excess fatigue. Knowing what I know now, I can tell you Olivia at times has displayed all of these symptoms.

She did gain weight over the past 3 months but her height has dropped from the 75th percentile to just over the 50th percentile over the past 9 months. If her height can't keep up with her weight, she's not growing like she should thus not allowing her lungs the space they need to grow as big as they can. This could be attributed to CFRD. Her lung function dropped, is this because of CFRD or because of the new technician, lack of coaching . . .

Olivia drinks a fair amount of water and in turn does pee often; has this been the case all along and I'm just noticing it more now? Now that my senses and awareness to these symptoms are heightened, has she been displaying these symptoms for quite some time or am I picking up on them so much now because I know what lies ahead?

It's hard to say and I don't like being in the iffy zone or the wait and see period. Recently, Olivia will tell me she feels shaky. Is this because of anxiety or because her blood sugar is dropping low? We were told that for whatever reason cf patients' blood sugars can drop very, very, very low before problems ensue. If Olivia is feeling shaky because of low blood sugars, and knowing that cf patients can drop very low, her feeling shaky is very alarming to me if it's related to blood sugars. Yet, trying to get an 8 year old to figure out and understand if they have a headache or not, let alone all the havoc cf is wreaking on her body, is a very hard thing to do. I could haul her back in to clinic to repeat the OGTT, but honestly, I think the same results would show up. We'd get there and she'd puke because of the mind games and anxiety it causes. For now, I'm logging when she feels shaky and what is going on to try to help her interpret the cause of it, time of day, pattern etc. and I'll check in with our CF team when needed.

Olivia is afraid to get CFRD. I've told her it's not "if", it's "when". She then asks me if she will die from it. I tell her it's something we can manage and treat, all the while trying to keep my composure because it's another pile of shit in an already overflowing bag that this poor child must carry.

I can't even.

The list of things that Olivia must do every single day to "live" is more than so many could handle, including myself. I continue to ask myself at what point does all of this stuff end up over taking the true meaning of living and instead end up just surviving. She's only 8! Hours spent each day that she must endure to keep her lungs healthy and the continued damage still occurs. Handfuls of pills at each snack or meal that can't be forgotten. The overnight g-tube feed that she must endure to attempt to keep her gaining weight and growing. The hours spent per day that Olivia is hooked up to some machine to combat the horrors of this disease, actually do outweigh the hours that she's not. 
Again, Olivia spends more time every day hooked up to machines than she does not hooked up to machines. Activities, gatherings, doing fun things that are often missed to try to keep from getting germs and bacteria and sicknesses happen all too often. Just typing all this bears so much weight on the already heavy heart I have for her and I again ask myself why then is she burdened with more? Why must a sweet innocent little girl, be asked to live with so much? At what point will she lash out and hate all that her life has become and is and ask me the hard question I ponder myself . . . is this living or merely surviving?

I'll leave the googling of CFRD up to you. Yes it's manageable, I'm sure that "managing" will be a whole new ball game. Yet CFRD also is grim. The earlier onset of lung decline, CFRD being worse for girls than boys all leading to an earlier death in a disease that already will very likely cut her life way too short as is. If it were possible, all this would literally break my heart, into pieces. This disease and all that it entails, wakes and keeps me up at night, wondering if I will outlive my daughter, wondering what life would be like without her, wondering how in the world if that happens  do we go on. God, this sucks. It sucks so very much. She is a little girl, she just turned 8, how is it even comprehensible to be thinking of her death.

For now, we keep mustering through all while keeping a close eye on Olivia over the next few weeks to months to see what and if we need to move quicker than thought on the repeated OGTT test to move forward with treatment of CFRD. For now we keep living.

Olivia just turned 8 on Sunday. Every birthday in our household is so very special, the accomplishment of living another year longer, so I'll save sharing her joyous celebration and photos for another post, one that isn't filled with despair.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Summer - where did you go?

Where did July go, and honestly August for that matter?!?!

It felt like as soon as we celebrated the 4th of July, we turned a corner and were into August. Crazy, how fast this summer has flown by. This week is our last week of summer for the kids and I, Monday school is back in full swing. Ugh.

The beginning of July was pretty normal day in and day out routines for us. During the days that were warm or hot, the kids and I spent a lot of our afternoon time out by the pool and our evenings most days of the week were spent at TKD for Landen. Sammy, of course, has uprooted our lives a bit as well and much of our days were spent watching her with a careful eye as we navigated the potty training stage and the "put everything in her mouth" stage. She's kind of exhausting at times, and I have to remind the kids that everyone in the family wanted a puppy so everyone needs to contribute to helping out with her! She's done really good with potty training and knock-on-wood, seems to be fully trained now so that is a blessing. Now, if we can just get her biting with those razor sharp puppy teeth under control and to sleep longer during the night, that will be great!

I have to remind myself that the last time I had a puppy, I was younger, kidless and probably had a lot more patience. This go-around is a bit more challenging with a family to care for, a household to run and with 2 little kids that leave all kinds of goodies and trinkets out and within Sammy's reach. Of course my patience runs very thin too. Just as July was here and gone in the blink of an eye, this puppy stage will fly on by too and God willing, we will have many years with Sammy as a really great dog.

She's already growing up so fast from the 5 lb puppy we brought home 2 months ago:

The best part of July, and a time of the year we look forward to every year was our yearly camping trip with Jeff's side of the family. This year was by far one of my most favorite years. The joy we witnessed in the kids was unforgettable. They looked forward to camping for so long leading up to the trip as they were so excited to be able to play with their cousins Makayla and Carter. Olivia has been penpals with Makayla over the summer months and the letters she'd write her over and over about being so excited to play with her on camping were precious. Beings the kids are older now too, it was more relaxed to just let them be kids, run and play and venture from one campsite to the other. They had so much fun and were very sad when the trip was over and the days of fun in the sun spent with their cousins came to an end.

During the 10 day camping trip, the kids swam,

water skiied (Olivia was bound and determined to get up and ski) I sat out in the water with her for a very long time, no matter how many falls, how many failed attempts, she was determined to do it and she did! I could not have been more proud of her or any more happy that her determination in life will help her greatly with all the bumps she will face along the way) Deedle - you rock:

and I must say, Landen with his scuba goggles, and absolutely cute skiing posture melted my heart, I absolutely want to bottle up that cuteness and hold onto it forever:

they tubed, and tubed and tubed some more:

enjoyed time at the sandbar,

tried some fishing,

and had all kinds of fun with Carter and Makayla:

The weekend after we got back from camping, we had Em, Mike and the kids over so that Olivia's wish of having a pool party with Makayla could come true:

As July turned into August, we enjoyed a few pool days, campfires at home on the weekends and the kids are training to be ninja warriors someday on their new monkey bars that we built. 😉

It's been a fun summer, we are so sad that it is winding down and school is right around the corner. Olivia has a week long dance camp this week, then school and fall activities will be back in full swing.

Olivia is doing pre-competition dance this year and will have a spring recital and her dance line will compete in 2 competitions this year. Landen has found his niche in tae kwon do and will be continuing his TKD and sparring classes this next year and he also  made the TKD competition team so he will be travelling to different tournaments throughout the state this upcoming school year as well. With school and activities, life is sure to be busy and will definitely keep on flying by.

Healthwise update: Olivia has been doing well. She's been working really hard over the summer to eat as much as she can while running her g-tube each night to get in as many calories/day as she can to get her weight up as we head into the next cold/flu season. One of her ear tubes dislodged so we went into ENT last week to have that checked out and removed. The other tube is out too but we will leave that one to work it's way out of her ear on its own and/or head back in 6 months to have her hearing tested and the tube removed if needed and then discuss if/when she will need to have ear tubes placed again. She's at the age now where most kids outgrow the need for them so I hope that will be the case for her too. Her ENT is awesome in that he makes the kids prove they need ear tubes rather than just repeatedly put them through surgery to replace them.

Olivia also continues to participate in her CF research study, she has appointments and tests for that coming up next week. She has her yearly, oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and annual CF studies in September. As her last years OGTT came back in the "iffy" zone, I look ahead to this next OGTT with nervous anticipation. Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes (CFRD) is something we know is likely in Olivia's future, so we will deal with it and adjust as needed, but I'd rather not have it rear its head yet. We shall see. Otherwise, Olivia is a happy, bubbly, determined little 7 year old, soon to be 8 year old. She loves life, is a people pleaser and is determined to do anything and everything she sets her mind to. She is an amazing girl.

And with that summer is coming to an end, it was a great one with many fond memories to hold on to.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

4 weeks of summer - June 2017

Summer comes and goes so darn fast, I wish we could bottle up its glory and save it for the long winter months. . .

Our last day of school was on June 8th, and we were so very ready for summer. We started off our first weekend of summer with Olivia's dance recital. Olivia worked so hard all year long and was super excited for her special day to show all what she had learned over the year. She did a great job in the recitals and had a very fun, albeit, tiring day!

The following day we had a surprise visit, from one of my very favorites, Cole! He was back in MN for his mother's birthday so we were blessed to spend a few hours catching up with Cole and his mom Jean. It was super special as our whole family adores Cole. The kids even made him a few drawings to take back home to hang on the refrigerator of his new home. Thanks for visiting Cole, it was great to see you!

The following week, Olivia had her quarterly CF appointment. It went pretty well in terms of her lung function so that was super great. Her weight however had stayed the exact same since 3 months prior in March so over the summer we are tasked with trying to get Olivia to eat as much as she can during the day and increase her g-tube feeds overnight so that she can put on some weight before the fall and sick season is back in full swing.

Olivia saved up her money and allowance to buy a mermaid tail, thus every time the kids get a chance she's a swimming mermaid in the pool.

Landen celebrated his birthday in June and turned 10 years old. So hard for me to believe he is already 10! We headed to Wild Mountain waterpark for the afternoon and we all had a blast and then we grilled and had cake and presents to finish off his big day.

The following day, we went to pick up our new fur baby Sammy. We were all very excited to welcome her into our home. She's so sweet and adorable and absolutley a little terror as well! I had forgotten, apparently, how exhausting the puppy stage is with the potty training, and the biting and the chewing on everything. All in all, she's doing well but we are anxiously awaiting the day when the puppy biting ends!

We celebrated Father's Day with the a few homemade gifts for Jeff. The stories and drawings the kids made are priceless.

The last week of June the kids both did swimming lessons. Landen is a little fish in the water and on his last day swam 750 yards in his lesson. Olivia is doing really well also, she just needs to keep working on her endurance but that of course will come with practice and age. They are both excited to take another swim lesson course later this summer and/or fall.

We finished off June with a trip to the Strawberry patch. In no time at all, the kids had picked a box full of strawberries.

Over the 4th of July weekend we had some friends over for a campout and lots of motorized fun. The kids all enjoyed riding on the ATV's, the golf cart and dirtbiking. Olivia enjoyed hanging out with Birdie and was very caring and motherly toward her, it was very sweet to watch them play together. Landen of course was all about the motorized fun. A fun day was had by all and so fun to get together with friends.

Olivia and I began our 4th of July celebration by getting all dressed up and doing our makeup and nails. The kids spent the majority of the afternoon in the pool and then we had the Jass family over for a campfire and fireworks in the evening. Olivia and Makayla are penpals this summer and Olivia considers Makayla her best friend so it was great that the kids were able to get together and have fun. A new record for the latest the kids had ever stayed up was set that night as they didn't get to bed until about 1:30 am, but they did great and we all had a fun time and now more than ever, are anxiously awaiting and looking forward to the Oltmans' family camping trip where the kids can spend so much time playing with their cousins.

and here we are . . . already into July. Geesh, school is just around the bend, but until then, we will keep working hard to make the most of the rest of our summer.