Welcome to the Scharrer family's real life story! Most of our story is written for, and about, our four kids and the spice they add to our lives. It's our story of happiness, craziness, and sometimes ridiculousness. We've journaled through childbirth, the terrible two's, private school (and our public school experience), an autism diagnosis, medical school, residency, and long-term mission work in Africa.

Now we're following a new adventure, which involves a 45 foot motorcoach, homeschool, and as many ski slopes as we can go down in one year.

For posts from while we were living in Zimbabwe and updates about our future plans in Zimbabwe, please see our mission blog...


29 November 2008

Chicago Trip

Last weekend we traveled to Chicago for a wedding and were excited to stop and see some relatives on the way home!

Mike and Megan's wedding was just beautiful, taking place in Lake Forest (a very wealthy suburb of Chicago), where Erik also got us a room at the Hilton! The reception was held in a mansion at a country club and was the perfect spot for old friends to mix and mingle. Maida really enjoyed dancing and was the last one on the dance floor! She was pooped when we got back to the hotel... and did I mention that Erik got us a room at the Hilton??!!! It was a great vacation for all three (or four!) of us.

On the way home from Chicago, we stopped at Erik's cousin Hilary and husband David's house to meet the newest member of the family, Kaitlin, and have a great home-cooked breakfast. Kaitlin was born a month ago and is the second great-grandchild in the Scharrer family. Maida was pretty crazy the entire time we were there, but enjoyed meeting Kaitlin (and playing with all of her baby stuff!). Hilary and David gave Maida some presents and even had some for Skogen too! After stopping at Hilary's house we then stopped and Erik's Aunt Ranee and Uncle Hugh's house. They treated us to some ice cream and cookies, and even had some more presents for Maida and Skogen!

We were so thankful for the time we had with all of our friends and family in the Chicago area and for the safe trip we had over and back.

20 November 2008

Dermatologist Appointment

Finally a doctor that listened.

Today we saw the dermatologist and I went in expecting him to tell us that there was nothing he could do for Maida's rash, but to my surprise, he seemed a bit in awe of how her MC had spread and multiplied. Apparently after 10 months of having MC, it usually starts to clear up, but hers has done the opposite. I think he was even surprised at how bad her eczema was (and that's probably because I stopped treating it a few days ago to make the rash look even worse-!). He actually came into the room, saw the rash, and immediately started discussing treatment options. Erik was able to come with us to see the dermatologist and it was nice to have him there, not only to have his medical knowledge, but to be able to decide together on a treatment plan.

Our treatment plan: Every two weeks we will go to the dermatologist and he will put an ointment on as many of the MC that he can. Today he put the first dose on and even though the ointment doesn't hurt, Maida still screamed bloody murder, which is typical of her when anyone even touches the rash. When I asked her, while she was screaming, if it hurt, she said "no," but when I asked her if it tickled, she said, "yes." And I think that is the main reason why she doesn't like us touching it, she is just a really ticklish child! As I was holding her down to the exam table, kicking and screaming, it was at least a little comforting to hear that she wasn't in pain.

The second step in the treatment, after the ointment is applied, is letting it set. Medical tape is applied over the treated MC and has to stay on for three or four hours (or as long as the child can tolerate it, but probably not more than five hours). She then is put in the bath to soak, rip off the tape, and wash off the skin. Our first experience with ripping off the tape was not pleasant and she appeared to be in a lot of pain as the tape not only irritated her eczema, but when we ripped it off, it tore some of the treated MC off with it too. We felt so bad having to do this to her.

In the next two weeks, we should see the MC that were treated dry up, blister over, or just plain fall off. I guess that if it works this time around, she'll be treated every two weeks until it's pretty much gone. I don't think they will ever get all of them, though, because there are so many. There will probably just be a stopping point at which we'll decide that we've done enough. The only downside to the treatment is that it could leave scarring, kind of like chicken pox scars, and there is a small chance that the treatment won't work.... I'll keep you all updated on that.

As far as the eczema goes, we were still just instructed to use the prescription steroid on it twice a day and take Zyrtec at night. If anyone knows of any good products for eczema, let me know. I've tried everything... Eucerin, Vaseline, Soothing Naturals, California Baby, Burts Bees, Aveeno Baby... and just can't find anything that seems to calm down the eczema. I wanted to ask the dermatologist what he reccomended, but I forgot!

Well, after such a long battle with these rashes, I finally feel like we're getting some where. I can see that it's going to be a long road, but I've got confidence that we're finally on the right path. Send lots of praise for our answers today and please pray that her body will respond to the treatment and we'll get it under control soon. Thank you to everyone who have emailed or called with encouragement or advice. We know that you all hated seeing Maida suffer too. She's such trooper!

14 November 2008

No More Computer

My computer crashed again! What was meant to be a "Mommy will you read me this book?" throw, turned into a book slamming into my computer and crashing my hard drive. Nice! Right now I'm stealing time on Erik's computer while he's at school taking a final (prayers for him!).

This week has been filled with many funny stories about Maida and millions of things that I want to remember about this time in her life. She is such a big girl and I can't believe how fast she is growing. Here are some highlights of our week...

- Maida started wearing big girl panties! She doesn't always like them (because she'd just rather be naked, or wear them on her head!) but has done a great job of not having an accident in them. She's now mastered the poop and potty in the toilet/potty chair.
- Maida started calling me "Mimi Kar-kar" for Mommy Kara. Sometimes she just calls me Kara! It's so funny to us to hear her call me by my first name. I have no idea where she heard it or why she calls me Kara! Just one more thing that makes her seem very grown up!
- Sometimes Maida takes showers with me (well, okay, most of the time - let's face it, I'm married to a medical student and I don't get a whole lot of alone time!). She usually just plays with her toys in the bath while I shower. She also wears a shower visor, which keeps the water and soap from running in her eyes. Sometimes she likes to take the visor off, which is okay, but soon she gets soap in her eyes and screams. Well, this particular morning she was sitting at the bottom of the shower between my legs, visor on, and holding perfectly still. I assumed that she was just enjoying the hot water after a cold night, but after about 10 minutes of her not moving, I started to wonder what was prompting her to hold so still, keeping her visor on and everything! About three minutes after me wondering what was going on, "KLUNK!" she fell over and her head hit the side of the tub! I quickly bent over to see why she had fallen over and found her asleep!!! She had fallen asleep in the shower! I took her out, dried her off, and put her in bed for a nap! So funny!
- We bought Maida a toddler bed mattress! It was my first buy on Craigslist and I was a bit nervous about it (I didn't want to get ripped off or murdered or anything like that), but turns out that we got a great mattress for only $5.00, and I lived through the pickup to tell about it!
- Thursday night was Maida's last night of swimming for a while. She didn't pass to the next level, mostly because she hates male teachers and wouldn't d0 anything for Mycael, her swim teacher. On Tuesday night, he was testing the children to see what they could do and he asked her to do some kicks and scoops for him. She shouted, "NO!" and splashed him in the face! I was so embarrassed!
- One day this week Maida was playing quietly in her room. She had her favorite baby doll with her and I could hear her saying, "Rock rock, rock rock," so I figured that she was rocking her baby in the rocking chair. Then I heard a bunch of grunting and "Mimi Kar-kar! Mimi Kar-kar," so I ran in there. She had climbed up on the rocking chair and flipped herself into her crib. Wow, I was just glad that she didn't flip herself out of her crib!
- Maida started combining two words together this week! She can say phrases like, "Dada sool," for dad's at school or "Boo-boo home," for Boo-boo (her friend) is at home! It's pretty cool that she's communicating more! She can also say, "Barbie" for Barkley!, which we've been working on for a long time, along with many other two syllable words, as she's not very good at speech yet, but getting there slowly but surely.

... it seemed as though I had a lot more to say about Maida this week, but that's probably because I had a ton of pictures and videos that were on my computer who's hard drive crashed. I really hope that there is some way to get that stuff off of my hard drive, so hopefully if we can, I'll post them soon.

This weekend we're back to Park Rapids for some more deer hunting, then we'll be headed to Chicago for a wedding! Then back to Park Rapids for 50's party themed Thanksgiving with the family. Busy busy couple weeks.

12 November 2008

Update on Maida's Rash

We're just on our way to ECFE, or "sool" (for school) as Maida calls it, but I wanted to quick update everyone on Maida...

I called another dermatologist yesterday who we got a second opinion from in June. He is a younger guy than our regular dermatologist and, personally, I liked him a lot better than our regular guy. I had to leave a message and stated in the message that I had been waiting for Dr. Holm (our reg derm) to call me back for three weeks. Dr. Evanson (the new guy)'s nurse called me right back and said that they could see us in a week! I am so excited about this because usually the wait to get into a dermatologist is just horrendous. Prayers were answered!

To update you on what we know about Maida's rash right now... Maida actually has a series of rashes. The rash that you see in the picture and video from last post is Molluscum Contagiosm. It is a virus and usually isn't treated in children because the treatments are painful and can cause scaring. There are less painful options of treatment out there, but they aren't as successful. Usually doctors chose to not treat Molluscum because it will go away on its own, however that can take from two to five years to go away. In the meantime, the rash is VERY contagious and also causes a lower immune system, which causes eczema to set in. So, Maida has eczema too. She has also been diagnosed with Atpoic Dermatitis, which I believe is why she was potty trained at 16 months! She gets bad rashes from her diapers and from the potty or poopy touching her bottom. Maida also has an unexplainable rash that comes and goes every so often and no body has been able to put a finger on what it might be. She had some allergy testing done and isn't allergic to anything, however, I don't think that doesn't mean she can't be sensitive to certain things, like fragrances. Even when she was baby, we'd notice that if someone with a lot of perfume on would hold her, she would rash up right away. Since switching to fragrance free laundry detergent, wipes, and diapers, that rash has gone down significantly (we love Seventh Generation!!!).

Our dermatologist appointment is next Thursday and our main goal then is going to be the treatment of the Molluscum Contagiosum. I believe that this will solve some of our problems, as hopefully it will take some of the eczema away, but mostly it will settle our worries about Skogen getting the Molluscum when he comes! I know it will make her a lot more comfortable too. Thanks for all the prayers! I will update more on her rash after the appointment.

10 November 2008

What Do We Do?

Does this break your heart?

It does mine too.

But this guy:

won't return my phone calls.

He is Maida's dermatologist and despite my frantic mother-panicked worries, he still insists that there is "nothing we can do for Maida's rash." Drugging her up on Zyrtec and Benadryl plus a little steroid cream here and there, doesn't quite seem right. I've been waiting for him to return my phone calls for three weeks now, but for some reason I don't think he's going to call me back.
What do we do when...
1) Our dermatologist doesn't seem concerned.
2) Our family doctor doesn't seem concerned.
3) Our child is miserable?!!

Toga Party!

On Friday night the medical school had a toga party! Despite my pleas of not making me dress up in a toga while pregnant, in fear of actually becoming a big blimp, Erik talked me into it and we went. To my surprise, I felt super cute in a toga that our friend and babysitter Christine loaned me! It was also a lot of fun to see everyone else dressed up in their togas. The medical school provided free pizza and buffalo wings, which were sooooo good! Erik and I had a great date night away from Maida, and I really enjoyed seeing and talking with Erik's classmates. The only complaint I have about the night is having to run to and from our car in the freezing rain dressed in our togas. But, I can't complain too much because that freezing rain turned into our first snow of the year, which made me really happy!

When Maida saw us getting all dressed up in our togas, she wanted to wear one too! Our babysitter, Christine, had some extra material along (which she made my toga out of) and so she made a toga for Maida too!

05 November 2008

Doctor Appointments

- 50th percentile height and weight (31 1/2 inches, 26 pounds)
- Got two shots today (DTAP and Influenza)
- Great on her development!
- Great on eating!
- Needs to work on more words/speech

- Belly measuring 29 weeks
- Heart sounds good
- Still breech! Doc is giving me six more weeks to get him to turn. If he doesn't turn by that point, I'll have another ultrasound to determine exact position and then it will be an automatic c-section if he hasn't turned. She was concerned, but said that it can be done.
- Next appointment scheduled for 32 weeks

I voted! ... well, almost.

I have never voted. I am 25 years old and have never taken advantage of my voting privilege. I just really have never gotten into the elections. I let friends' comments, door knockers, commercials, and political emails go right in one ear and out the other. I'm not the type of person to complain about our government, economy, or US leaders. I just live in whatever circumstances that I'm given, which has played into my hesitancy to vote in the past.

As election day approached this year, I definitely didn't educate myself as much as I should have, but I was seriously considering voting (despite my lack of interest in the election), not that I knew exactly every issue that each candidate stood for, but I almost felt like it was my American duty to vote. That's until I read something that a good friend said about Obama. She said that she truly believed that if you voted for Obama, you would be held accountable [by God] for killing innocent lives (since Obama was for abortion). This struck me rather hard and scared me quite a bit. If that was true for Obama, wouldn't that be true about McCain (because not everything he stood for was Biblical), or any other candidate on the ballot? Could I potentially be held accountable for voting for someone if they didn't stand exactly for what God would?! It was at that point when I realized that I could not vote, not at all, not for anyone. I was scared.

I expressed my fears last night to Erik before he went to vote because I was still scared that if I voted, I was going to hell... and if he voted, he was going to hell... we talked about it for a little bit, but he really didn't see it that way. He still felt obligated (and honored) to vote in this election and was confident that he was voting for people who upheld more christian values than their opponent. He encouraged me to go with him to the polls and if I was scared to vote, I wouldn't have to vote at all, or I could just abstain from voting for a certain position. I thought that was a good idea, so with 20 minutes left until the polls closed in Minnesota, we were off!

I have to admit that I was a little nervous, yet excited to finally be participating in my first election! We were not registered voters, so before leaving the house we gathered anything we could find for proof of address. We had health insurance bills, car insurance, bank statements, and student loans. As I approached the older gentleman at the door of the polls, I was shaking as I handed over our proof of address (Was I doing something that I could go to hell for? By voting, was I turning my back on God because I was supporting a worldly person? I tried to tell myself that I was doing my best just by supporting the candidates who I felt best represented God and that none of the candidates were perfect people - in fact, none of us are!) As all my doubts and fears were racing through my head, the older gentleman was flipping through our papers and asked me if we had brought any utility bills. Utility bills? We don't pay utilities because they are included in our rent and utility bills were the only thing that they could accept for proof of address. He apologized and we walked out the door as fast as we had come in. All my fear, all my anxiety, and we weren't even able to vote.

Honestly, I feel good about trying. I also feel good about the election finally coming to a close. I know there were a lot of different emotions last night as Obama was announced the winner, but I have confidence that God will take care of our country, no matter who is in the presidency. God bless America! (I feel cheesy saying that, but I really do mean it.)

03 November 2008

November 2, 2008

November 2nd: the long-awaited surprise date day.

I had been eagerly waiting for November 2nd to come around for about a month, and as the day finally approached, I had bitter-sweet feelings. I was VERY excited to leave Maida for a full day (for the first time ever!!!) and go on a surprise date with Erik... but, I was also very nervous about how Maida would behave for the babysitters and I hoped that she would be okay without us.

Well, it turns out that as the day unfolded, our three babysitters were AWESOME and took great care of Maida while we were in Minneapolis where Erik surprised me with Vikings tickets! Our tickets were on the 50 yard line, 3 rows up from the field, closer than I ever dreamed of watching a Vikings game. I could not believe it! We had the best time at the game with our friends Chad and Katie, and followed it up by dinner at Bennihana's, a Japanese steak house. It was such a blessing to get away and spend some quality time with Erik. We did miss Maida a lot and we talked about her several times throughout the day, but over all it was good for us to be away from her and enjoy some time by ourselves. Honestly, I don't even think she missed us!

Thank you, Erik, for our awesome date! Thank you for Chad and Katie for bringing us with you! And thank you to our babysitters who divided up the day... Kathy (and her family), Cameron (and her family), and Christine.

I posted the pictures from the trip here: http://scharrerfamily.shutterfly.com/

Adventures at Jay Cooke State Park

On Saturday we headed to Jay Cooke State Park with the Dickinsons. Soon after arriving, Erik tripped on a rock while carrying Maida in the backpack and Maida came flying out of the backpack, over Erik's shoulder. She was headed face-first,with high velocity, for a rock. Erik was actually (and miraculously) able to catch her enough to break her fall, but at the same time he went sliding down the incline that he had been walking on and went right into the water. He was able to hold Maida out of the water, but had to try to balance on a really slimy rock under the water until the rest of us heard him calling for help. Ryan was able to pull Maida up, but by this time Erik was getting numb from the cold water (there was a thin layer of ice in places) and he couldn't get any leverage on the slimy rock he was balancing on to pull himself out. After a few tries, Ryan was able to help pull Erik out too. Thank goodness Ryan was there to help because there is no way I would have been able to balance with my big belly on the incline to pull Maida or Erik out of the water. I'm also thankful that Andrea was there to help me carry Maida back to the car.

Erik stripped down to his underwear after we got back to the car and we headed to the Sunnarborg's, who live close to Jay Cooke, to get Erik some dry clothes. While we were there, we got to see all of their animals! Maida had a blast petting and feeding the elk, bunnies, ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, and dogs.

Here's a video of Erik eventually getting out of the water. Avery was crying in the background because she wanted to get in the water too! Haha, how cute! She didn't understand that it was VERY cold!

We write to taste life twice, once in the moment and in retrospection.”
~Anais Nin