Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tree and House Decorating

Saturday Nov. 28th--Today we cleaned and then decorated trees. We had so much fun. We bought decorations and lights after Christmas last year, so we had a lot of options this year. We have a white tree with blue and silver ornaments and blue and white lights. We have a green tree with red and gold ornaments with red and white lights. We also have a small tree with multi-colored lights and all of the kids' special ornaments. Maria enjoyed watching and trying to get into things. Once the trees were turned on with all the other lights off she seemed so amazed. Her eyes were really big and she looked at me and then back at the tree and then back at me. She finally started laughing.

Sunday Nov. 29th--Maria is doing better, but she is still very tired. She continues to have difficulty with balance and sometimes appears to be in pain. It feels awful to not know exactly what she is feeling. She got a lot of rest today, so hopefully she'll do well at
school/daycare tomorrow. Gary, Kirstie, and Macella put lights up on 2 outside trees and on the porch this afternoon. I am so excited to finally get lights up outside. I've been waiting for 3 years. Last year's Walmart sale on lights was fantastic! Our neighbor called tonight to let us know that she was already enjoying our lights:)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday; Visit Family

Friday Nov. 27th--We were apparently quite tired. We didn't get up until 9:45am. We packed up and headed out just before noon. We ate at KFC on the way back. Maria continues to have jaw pain and some dizziness, but she enjoyed eating some macaroni & cheese and a pudding parfait.

We decided to visit family on the way home instead of heading out again on Saturday. First we stopped at Marsha's dad and Shirley. Gene and Tim enjoyed playing hide and seek with Kirstie and Macella. Maria enjoyed Carol's soft pink pillow.

Afterward we visited Gary's brother Terry. Lana was working, but was able to make it before we left. Kristy, Taron, and Taron's daughter Kaliah were there. Terry had the girls dress up in Victorian dresses for pictures. Maria was beginning to get some energy, unfortunately she had an accident on the brand new dress. Gary dried it with a blow dryer and then she was ready for pictures galore:)

Then we visited Gary's dad and Brooke. We enjoyed some time talking with them. They were doing well and were happy to see Maria doing so well.

Finally we visited Marsha's grandparents and mom. We had forgotten to eat dinner, so we ate Thanksgiving day leftovers:) Kirstie's birthday is coming up, so she opened up her presents from her great grandparents and grandparents. Maria seemed to be doing well, but her balance continued to be off.

We made it home around 10:30pm. It was another long day, but so enjoyable to visit with our families. Maria was so happy to be home. She rested on the couch while we unloaded vehicles and cleaned up. She was all smiles:)

Thanksgiving Night

Thanksgiving night we were able to find the Cracker Barrel. It was about 40 minutes from the hotel. They had a Thanksgiving Dinner which we all ordered and then the waitress had to come back to tell us that they were out of turkey. She felt so bad. We all had chicken instead. She gave us free dessert and drinks though. We had huge pieces of chocolate cake, ice cream, pumpkin pie, and chocolate pecan pie. Of course a trip to the Cracker Barrel isn't complete until a little time is spent on the outside rocking chairs.

Maria did pretty well. She had a little bit of a bloody nose before we left, but it wasn't too bad. At the restaurant she was tired at first, but she did eat some bread, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. It was obvious that her jaw hurt because she wouldn't chew anything hard. She wouldn't even chew her favorite Teddy Graham crackers.

We had a very nice family time together. Afterward we went back to the hotel and sat on the beds in a cirle and said what we were thankful for. We took Kirstie's suggestion of taking turns saying one thing at a time and continueing as fast as we could around the circle. It ended in a laughing session, so we knew it was definitely time for bed:)

Thanksgiving Day Parade

Gary, Macella, and Kirstie were able to go to the Thanksgiving Day parade. I think the girls enjoyed it more than Gary:) They had to leave the hotel at about 6:30am. Once in the city they stood quite still for over 4 hours! It was all worth it to see the huge balloons and floats up close and personal. The girls were excited to see some of the people who are on Nickelodeon and Disney channel.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Maria's surgery day

Thank you all for your prayers for Maria and our family. Today (Wednesday the 25th) ended up being a very long day.

We got up between 4 and 4:30am. None of us were overly thrilled about the early hour, but we were all feeling some kind of anticipation. Well, everyone, but Maria. She clearly had no idea what was going on and was happy to be out in the cool air. We were running a little late, so we were nervous. We knew we needed to be to the hospital by 6:30, but we were not going to meet the 5:20 train like we planned. Gary drove to the train station and we caught the 5:56am train into Penn Station. After the train we caught a Taxi to the hospital. The city is so much nicer that early in the morning. We didn't have to fight traffic or pedestrians. We made it into admissions at 6:15am. We were 15-minutes early! The Lord knew we didn't need to be nervous.

In the operating waiting room we had paperwork and visits from the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurses. The nurse had us put a Princess movie into the DVD player for Maria (she cared very little for it obviously). They gave Maria a sedative, so that she wouldn't get upset by the oxygen mask. She is very strong and non-compliant where doctors are concerned. The medicine made Maria extremely "jolly." We changed Maria just before leaving for the OR. I waited to put my gown on until seconds before leaving for the OR!

On the way to the OR (at 8:35am) the nurse handed me a face mask as well. That made it so I couldn't see, as every time I breathed my glasses fogged up. Anyway, Maria laughed all the way to OR. It was a blessing that she was so happy. Obviously the Lord knew we needed that!

The surgery was supposed to take 3 hours, so we went out to find some breakfast. It took quite a lot of walking to find a breakfast place. Most restaurants appeared to be lunch or dinner only. We ate a ton, which ended up being a very wise choice considering we would not be eating for quite some time.

We made it back to the hospital at 10:15am. Macella & Kirstie played games, while Gary listened to music and I read. We were exhausted already:) The surgeon came out and talked to us at 11:40am. She went through surgery well and he was able to put all the electrodes she needs in her cochlea. He seemed very pleased and said that the activation on December 15th seems very promising. The only thing that happened was that some spinal fluid started leaking, but he said he packed it up well. We are just supposed to watch for it just in case it happens again.

It was back to the waiting room again. We waited until 12:30 and we were then called to recovery. Gary and I figured that we would see Maria first and then let the girls in. Unfortunately that was not an option right away, as Maria was extremely out of it. She wasn't really waking up and when she did she just flailed her arms and cried. Then she would fall back asleep again. After a little while the nurse noticed that she was bleeding from her nose. She continued to bleed. We were told that it was due to the tube they put up her nose, but then I informed them that they did not put a tube up her nose. They double checked and I was right. Then they said it was due to dry air. She has never had a bloody nose before and we have dry heat at home, but we continued to wait out the bloody nose. We tried to clean her up periodically. With her bandaged head and blood everywhere we were just too nervous to let the girls come in. Also, there was a man constantly screaming at the top of his lungs the whole time we were there. They finally sent for a doctor who then sent for an ENT because her nose had bled for so long. The ENT said that it was normal and that the blood from surgery was exiting her nose instead of going down the back of her throat. We were thankful and continued to hope and pray that the blood would stop.

We periodically checked on Macella and Kirstie. They were so anxious to see Maria, but were doing a great job with continued hours of waiting. They begged to see her, but with the screaming man and Maria's bloody appearance we decided against it. Finally a nurse knew that we wanted to get out of recovery and she made the paperwork say what it was supposed to in order to allow us to leave (Maria was technically still too groggy). We finally left recovery at 3:45pm. Maria was wheeled on my lap in a bed to the pediatric floor.

They put a crib in Maria's room, which was very very tiny. Then the nurse and I tried to wash Maria up. She again seemed very concerned about the bloody nose. She brought in a basin of water and Maria perked up a little. She tried to put her feet in and her arms in and her head in. She continued to try to put her face in and then she frantically signed for a "drink." I was so proud of her. We brought her a drink and we had to pull it away because she was drinking so fast. I finally called Gary in the children's waiting room and told him to just warn the girls that Maria was clean, but would still look scary to the girls. There really was no way to keep her clean. Maria was seen by another doctor and another ENT. Again, some seemed to think that the nose bleed should have stopped and some said it was normal. None of the nurses thought it was normal. It was very nerve wracking, but at the same time we could feel your prayers. We remained calm and just continued to wait. Thanks to all of you who put Maria on your prayer chains---it was and is greatly appreciated.

Since the room was so small and the girls couldn't really hold Maria and we were starving Gary, Macella, and Kirstie walked to Subway. While they were gone Maria's surgeon stopped in. He reiterated that the blood from her nose was normal for 24 hours. I was thankful to hear it again, but it certainly didn't make taking care of her any easier. They finally had her sleep in bloody blankets and sheets. Gary's shirt and my shirt were not looking very healthy either:)

Gary brought back subs. We ate together and Maria even had applesauce and yogurt. Gary and the girls headed out around 7:45pm. They had 45 minutes back to the car and needed to go to Wal-mart for drinks, snacks, and umbrellas. They made it to bed around 10:30pm to get up at 5am to head out for the parade.

Maria & I had a long night together. I had an uncomfortable chair to sleep in. They didn't bring a blanket, so I used my coat. I read for awhile to hopefully force my eyes to close. Maria's roommate was constantly crying, moaning, and yelling. I finally was about to sleep at 11:30 when they came in to check vitals,which didn't make Maria very happy. I cleaned up more blood at this point. Then I was almost asleep again, when Maria's roommate cried and vomited liquid all over. In the beginning of the night I was selfishly praying that the girl would just fall asleep because my head hurt and I was exhausted. I felt very convicted at this point and just prayed that the poor girl would be able to sleep and feel safe. Her mother was there, but unable to communicate do to language barriers. I think I fell asleep around 2am and Maria woke up at 5am.

Thursday--Thanksgiving Day! Maria woke up very unhappy and very bloody. She wanted her head dressing off and she looked scared and nervous. It was nice that she wanted me to hold her and she clung on very tight. A new nurse came in and changed the bedding and brought her a different gown. We didn't get her completely clean, but her nose was bleeding less and less.

It took me some time to get ready. I did everything in separate steps because if Maria woke up without me she would cry with the most pitiful cry I've ever heard. She signed "eat" and cried, so I asked the nurse for food and Maria ate some Rice Crispies. A doctor from Dr. Roland's office (the surgeon) came in and took Maria's bandages off at 9am. She was so happy. It was the first time she actually stayed still for a doctor:) It appeared that her nose had stopped bleeding, so I asked if I could give her a whole body sponge bath. That was Maria's turn around point at the hospital. She played in the water and finally started to look like herself. Maria was going to be discharged at 10am, but when the nurse found out that I would be taking a taxi to the bus station she said that it would probably be impossible due to the parade, so Maria and I hung out:)

Maria and I watched some of the parade while Gary and the girls were at the parade in person. (Parade pictures will be in a separate post). I took Maria for a walk in the hall and then asked if I could sign the discharge papers. It took quite some time, but she was finally discharged at noon and as we were walking to the outside door, Gary and the older girls were just walking in. It was perfect timing.

The cab ride to the bus station did take longer due roads being closed from the parade, but we made it to the bus station and back to our hotel by 1:30pm. We thought Maria was finished with her nose bleeding, but it started bleeding at the end of the bus ride. Once in the room we put her down for a long nap. That she seemed to enjoy! She just woke up a few minutes ago and is enjoying some time with Gary. Again, her nose is bleeding some. Obviously it is more of an inconvenience than a health concern, but we would still appreciate your prayers.

We are thankful for all of you and wish you a wonderful rest of Thanksgiving day! We are heading out to the Cracker Barrel (if we find it) for our Thanksgiving dinner in a little while.

Happy Thanksgiving! Again thanks for all your calls and e-mails. I will leave you with a couple of verses that I found encouraging this morning. Psalm 28:6-7, "Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him."

Tuesday--Leaving home for Maria's surgery

Tuesday after school/work we all worked hard to get out of the house quickly, but we had a lot to do. Macella had a lot of math homework that had to be done on the computer, Marsha had notes to do for work, Teddy needed a bath, and Maria needed a bath. All of that meant that poor Kirstie had to do all the last minute cleaning of vacuuming, dishes, and laundry. By the time Gary made it home from work we were just about ready. We left a little after 6pm.

We drove to Marathon to drop Teddy off with Marsha's mom and grandparent's. We were able to see and say hello and goodbye to Marsha's mom, Marsha's grandparent's, and Uncle Tim. We left Marathon at 7:42pm and were finally officially on our way to NYC.

We made it to our hotel in Secaucus, NJ around 11:30pm. We unpacked and made it to bed around 12:30am. Our 4am morning came much too quickly!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Presurgical Testing

Yesterday Gary and I took a day to take Maria to NYC for pre-surgical testing and orientation. We left the house around 6:30am and returned around 8:30pm. We found a parking lot in New Jersey for the car and then took the train and a cab to the hospital. It seems that no matter the transportation route we take, we're looking at 1 to 1 1/2 hours from NJ to her appointments in NYC. The cab driver was very interested in Maria and gave her 2 lollipops, a tootsie roll, and twizzlers. He said he had 4 grandchildren and he liked to make kids smile.

At the appointment we met with an anesthesiologist, a nurse, and a physician's assistant. The whole appointment took 2 1/2 hours. Between each person that we met with we were returned to the waiting room. We were supposed to wait for a little while for Maria to produce a urine sample, unfortunately during this time I think that they forgot about us. I finally told Gary to go up front to look around. As the nurse was calling another lady in, Gary pointed to Maria and suddenly they asked the other lady to sit back down and they took Maria. Maria did very well considering her day consisted of 9 hours in a car, 2 1/2 hours in public transportation, and 2 1/2 hours at the doctors.

Maria's surgery is still on track for next Wednesday. We need to be at the hospital at 6am, so we'll be leaving the hotel at 4:30am that morning. We won't be getting in until 10:30ish the night before, so hopefully we'll hear the alarm that morning.

Thank you all for your prayers. I met with Kirstie's teacher today for a parent teacher conference. She said that Kirstie told her about the surgery and asked her if she wanted to share with the class. Kirstie shared with the class and then the teacher told them that if their family believed in praying to God that this would be a perfect opportunity for them to pray---how encouraging!

We'll do our best to keep everyone posted on the surgery, but the internet connection at our hotel sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, so we'll see.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Points to ponder

As I drove into work yesterday I saw a road sign that said something like this: NYS law, Truck brake noise not to exceed 90db. Then I realized even with Maria's hearing aids she cannot even hear a sound that most of us have a law to protect us from. Just a thought.

While I was holding Maria, someone looked at Kirstie and asked "now this one is actually yours?" How do you respond to that? They're both actually mine. I know it's hard for some to fathom, but the love is the same. When Kirstie came into the world we wanted to hold her and hug her and protect her right away. When Maria first came into our view we wanted to hold her and hug her and protect her right away.

Another comment that we're hearing a lot is "well at least you already knew she was deaf and had delays." Just because we knew doesn't mean that we don't want to give her every possible advantage. Many parents know ahead of time that their child will have a disability, but when that child is born they still grieve what could have been. They still long to fix every hurt and every potential mean word that may be directed at their child in the future. Whether or not Maria hears is not in our power, but in God's. Whether or not she will catch up with her peers is not in our power, but in God's. We don't know the end of Maria's story and we have to be content with what lies ahead, but just because we had a warning does not mean that this road is easy. Yes, we chose this road, just as a person with an unborn child chooses to keep her child with disabilities, but that does not mean we do not need God's grace everyday to make the choices that will not only affect Maria, but will also affect everyone in our family. If she never hears or never catches up will we love her any less? Most certainly not, but we still must give her every opportunity to grow into the person God wants her to be and only He knows what her future holds.

Just some random thoughts that must have needed to be written down:) We travel to NYC again next Thursday morning for presurgical testing. Thanks again for keeping us in your prayers.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sight seeing in NYC

We woke up this morning ready for another day of walking. After so many trips walking miles and miles carrying Maria we decided that a trip to Toys R Us for a cheap stroller was in order. What a difference that made on our backs today:)

Today we took the bus to the city and then got all day passes for the subway. Macella & Kirstie were so excited! It helped as walking today would have been too much. Our first trip was to Ground Zero. It is amazing how that touches my emotions even to this day and even though I personally did not know someone who died. Kirstie was confused and we didn't realize how little she actually knew about 9/11. At the time Macella was in Kindergarten and we didn't want to scare her, so we didn't talk of it much around her. We gave the kids a quick history lesson and tried to explain the panic and terror that people felt that day. We saw where they're building the new "Freedom Tower" or "One World Trade Center."

We walked to Battery Park from Ground zero and were able to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance. Again Kirstie's awe of learning and seeing things that she's learned about and heard of was very catching. She wanted pictures of everything. It was very beautiful. We tried to take the subway back to Columbus Circle, but it didn't actually stop there and we ended up several blocks away. On the way Kirstie, Maria, and I were on one side and Gary and Macella were across from us. At the first stop a ton of people got on and a man and woman started arguing in Spanish near us. It was very disconcerting not knowing if it was a serious argument or not. Macella told us afterward that the man kept saying "I don't have it" and they were talking about money.

After getting off the subway we walked through Central Park to get to Mickey Mantle's to eat. It was neat to think we were in Central Park, but it smelled a lot like horse with all the horse carriage rides. It seemed a little strange to smell "farm" and at the same time hear tons of car horns blowing. When we made it to Mickey Mantle's, Macella was excited to guess his number as 7. A number 7 was carved into every chair. When Gary came with his old boss they sat in Mickey Mantle's booth.

After lunch/dinner we walked through the city and saw different stores and lights. The girls were excited to walk by "Eloise's hotel" the Plaza. We also saw the Apple store in which the Apple logo is etched in a big cube above ground, but the store is below ground. Then we went to FAO Schwarz. Huge stuffed animals for over $1000 and 3 floors of toys. The top floor had the piano like the one from the movie "Big." Macella and Kirstie took Maria on it. She thought the lights were great. We saw a couple of the workers play 3 songs on it. They did a great job.

Afterward we walked back to Rockefeller Center and took the subway to the bus station for the hotel. It was a tiring, but wonderful day again.

Tomorrow we leave for home again. We have all had a great time together.

Here are some more pictures:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Meet with surgeon, pick device, enjoy NYC

We made it to our hotel lastnight at 10pm. Kirstie was so excited. It took a little while to get settled and into bed for our early morning this morning. We were able to eat breakfast at the hotel. They have a fantastic free breakfast. We took the bus to the city and walked our "little over a mile walk" to the cochlear implant center. We met with a different audiologist about the 3 major cochlear implant companies that are on the market. He was informative and said that normally parents would make the complete decision, but since Maria has cochlear dysplasia he said it would be better to see if the surgeon had an opinion.

We then walked to the hospital for our appointment with the surgeon. We got there relatively early and filled out paperwork. He took us in early and we saw a good view of the Empire State building and the Chrysler building from the office window. Kirstie took some pictures:) The surgeon showed us the CD of Maria's cochleas and said that she actually has 1 1/2 turns not 1 like we thought. That puts her in the mild to moderate category instead of the moderate to severe category we thought she might be in. Her prognosis is good with a lot of intervention, but obviously not as good as a child with fully developed cochleas with implantation at an earlier age. They try to implant children before age 1 now. Due to her age they rushed her surgery for us. When we told the surgeon we were penciled in for the day before Thanksgiving he said, "wow someone must be looking out for you." Anyway, now her surgery will be the day before Thanksgiving. We go for presurgical testing the week before on the 19th. The surgeon said that the Cochlear company makes an implant that is 1 1/2 turns long, so it seems to be the best for Maria. We are going with their model called the Nucleus.

We finished our appointments at 12:43pm---two minutes before our appointment was even scheduled for:) That gave us time to walk and see more of the city. On our way out of the hospital a lady kept tapping my shoulder, but I thought it was Macella. Finally I turned around and a woman held out a tiny blue teddy bear. Maria grabbed it and I didn't know what to do. Gary was far away from us by this point and I didn't have a dime on me. I just said thank you and she walked away. I'm not sure whether she expected money or not, but if you hold something out to Maria she will grab it no matter what it is. It just didn't give me time to say "no thank you." After that we found that we were targets for all kinds of "money making" scams. I'm assuming it was due to the city being full of Yankees fans and we had three kids with us. We kept getting stopped for all kinds of donations that Gary & I were not stopped for on our previous visits.

Even though Gary & I have been to the city multiple times we haven't actually "done" any of the sights. We played today by ear, but Kirstie was so excited by the fact that she could see the Empire State building we thought we would go up in it. We went to the 86th floor and walked around the observation deck. Due to the Yankees winning the World Series it was completely packed, but still fun. If we thought it was windy on the ground we were wrong when we met the wind 86 stories up! Gary was excited to see the USS New York in the Hudson--the ship's bow is made out of recycled steel from the Twin Towers.

After the Empire State building we walked around the city some more, ate at an italien place, and found the American Girl Store. It was a huge store with fancy displays and lots of things to do with your dolls. People spend more money on their dolls than we do on our kids. It was unbelievalbe how much the accessories, pets,and clothes cost. They even had a place for the dolls to get their hair done. It was quite a neat place to see. Gary of course enjoyed himself immensely:) Then we were off to Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller Center is beautiful on the outside and inside. We enjoyed looking at the lights and watching people ice skate. Inside Rockefeller Center there are many stores. We visited the NBC store. It was so full of lights that Maria just laughed and smiled. Finally since it was after dark we decided to head back. Even though we are becoming "pros" at the city, once darkness falls it is a little nerve wracking with 3 kids and crowds of people trying to cross the busy streets. We took the bus to the hotel and I took the girls swimming while Gary did a Walmart run. Yes, we forgot to bring extra diapers for Maria. It worked out though because Gary was able to buy us a nice cheap dinner of fast macaroni and cheese. We ate macaroni & cheese while watching Sponge Bob.

We had a wonderfully enjoyable day with the kids. We were blessed by the surgeon, as well as our day together. Obviously it is the Lord who is looking out for us. His plan is perfect. We are defintely thankful that Maria's prognosis is better than the audiologist originally thought, but continue to ask that you would pray for our faithfulness as we continue to try and juggle our family, church, and work life with Maria's constant need for attention.

Enjoy some pictures of Macella & Kirstie's first trip to the city.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Packing for NYC again

After church the realization hit that I was not packed for our trip tomorrow---oops! Now hopefully everything is packed and ready to go. Gary is out loading the car as I type. The older girls are going with us this time. We could really use some "whole" family time, so it will be nice. We're leaving when Gary gets home from work about 6:00pm tomorrow, so we won't be getting to the hotel until 11ish. Then we have to up by 7am the next morning:)

Friday's first appointment is picking out the actual cochlear implant company that we want to go with. The second appointment is with the surgeon. After talking with the receptionist this week she said "and now you know that we don't take Blue Cross right?"--That was a bit of scary news. All I know is that we have to pay out of pocket for the consultation on Friday and that the rest will be considered "out of network." We have to leave whatever that means in the Lord's hands. Obviously the Lord directed us to this particular surgeon. We've already been to so many appointments in order for him to ok the surgery that we know going with another surgeon is not an option, but the Lord already knew about the insurance and He will provide. We always have more to learn and we can't ever stop growing:)

The surgeon will hopefully give us a more thorough understanding of Maria's CT Scan and be able to give us a reasonable prognosis. We're praying for a miracle--something that only God can do! In fact, that's what I taught in Olympian Club tonight at church. Isn't it amazing how what we teach kids is usually something we need as well.

Thanks again to you all for your interest, concern, and prayers. You are loved and appreciated!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Maria starts at Kiddie Kampus

Today was Maria's first day at Kiddie Kampus. It is a classroom for children 18 months -3 years old. She has a teacher, a teacher's aid, and even a 1:1 aid all to herself. Her four therapy services of OT, PT, Speech, & Special Ed will see her while she's there as well. She really seemed to enjoy the class and was so excited to use their inside jungle gym. Everyone is working so hard to give Maria the best that they possibly can. It is a joy to watch her grow and learn.

Even though she had a good time and didn't really seem to mind saying goodbye to me, it was a great feeling that she smiled and laughed when we pulled into the driveway. She loves going places and loves new people, but she always enjoys coming home. We're so blessed that she really understands that this is her home and she can feel secure here.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or Treating

Macella & Kirstie made pumpkins with their grandma yesterday and really enjoyed it. Kirstie saved some of her pumpkin to carve with Gary. They carved it this morning. Maria had no idea what was going on, but she certainly enjoyed it.

Normally Gary works on the 31st because it lands on a weekday. Since it was a Saturday he was able to join us this year. Since we moved in 2006, we have always gone with our friends the Proper's. They were certainly a blessing the first year when we really didn't know anyone. Every year they have continued to be a blessing to us. We had nice weather, so that was nice. A guy dressed as Freddy Krueger jumped out at the kids and Maria laughed at him. The guy's family had a nice laugh over that. Between Katie, Susan, Gary, and myself Maria visited every house and picked out candy. Afterward we headed to Susan's parents for some pictures and rest. Then we headed to our house for pizza and cake.

We had a busy, but very enjoyable day. Susan's parents were able to hand out over 100tracts. Pray that they may have an impact on the children/parents who received them.