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...


28 January 2012

Week One Update

Arriving in the ED after the crash in his race suit.
The first couple days after the crash, I think we were operating under shock mode.  It didn't really hit us until a few nights later after we had just gotten back from a second trip to the Emergency Department, this time for Klaasen.  He had fallen and split his lip, which needed to be sewn up (this is the second time for him to get stitches and he just turned 18 months old yesterday!).  After we got the kids in bed, Erik and I were sitting on the couch talking about the ski accident and the injury.  We have always known since that first night in the ED that there is a possibility that the feeling and movement in his arm will never come back, but it wasn't until then that we both shed a few tears over it.  I couldn't help but think of everything Erik wouldn't be able to do anymore, or ever.  I was mourning over the thought of Erik not being able to do simple things like open a jar that is too hard for me to open or life-long dreams like climbing the Seven Summits (not the mention the fear of him not being able to continue being an Emergency Physician).  It was a cruel reality hit and after the worry and tears, I reminded Erik that we don't know anything for sure, other than God takes care of us and has a plan.  Our job is to trust Him and worrying about it isn't going to get us anywhere or make anything better.

On Wednesday, Erik had a couple follow-up appointments.  Thanks to some of our best friends for keeping the kids for the day, I was able to join Erik at his appointments.  First he saw our new primary care physician who scheduled an EMG for Erik in a few weeks.  Then we saw four orthopedic and plastic surgeons who specialize in hand surgery, as well as the nerves in the shoulders and arms.  They were very thorough in an exam of his arm and shoulder and were able to narrow it down to which nerves are causing the problems.  They said that hopefully this is hopefully just something like hitting your "funny bone" really hard and it will take a while (like up to six months) for the feeling and movement to come back.  However, there is that possibility that the nerves were damaged so bad that this will never come back.  They were reassuring, though, in the fact that they said this is the best place to have this type of injury because if they need to, they can go in and surgically replace these nerves with donor parts.  That was good to hear!  Erik has another appointment with them in six weeks and they are hoping to see his body healing and taking care of this injury on its own.

Between now and then, Erik was instructed just to rest and let his body heal as much as it can on its own.  An MRI will hopefully be scheduled within the next couple weeks and maybe that will tell us more, but more than likely it will just confirm what we already know - which is just wait it out and see.  Erik's co-workers, bosses, and chief residents have been superb in covering for him at work and rearranging schedules, which has been an enormous blessing.  Erik feels so bad and hopes that he will only need to take the month off that they have already given him.  He doesn't like to be a burden on anyone and I know he feels bad every day that he's not at work.  He's been trying to take it easy at home and keeping up with the pain killers is key (he is still in a tremendous amount of pain most of the time).  Up until a few nights ago, he hadn't been sleeping well, but after Klaasen screamed in our room for 45 minutes straight last night without Erik waking up once, I knew that his sleeping was getting a little better!

Erik has times of frustration with the loss of his arm and that is something I just can't imagine - not being able to move or use or feel my arm!  He tried to put his dead arm around me in bed the other night and he did it by crawling his hand up me with his fingers and then his arm just flopped dead on my back.  It sort of grossed me out!  It seems so foreign and feels like it's something that doesn't belong to Erik.  I like to tease him that his dead arm is like the hand from the Addams Family!  :)

We have been trying to make our days as normal as possible and filling slow times with friends and other activities.  Erik is such an extrovert and gets his energy from other people, so I know it's important not to force him to stay in bed all the time, although he has been taking naps because of his pain killers.  Erik was able to get out of the house and take Maida to her kindergarten screening two nights ago.  He said she knew EVERYthing and tested at the level of at least a six year old according to the objective score she received!  She is our little smarty and we are very anxious for her to start kindergarten in the fall, and she is super excited, too!  As a reward for doing so well on her test, Erik took Maida on a "date" for ice cream.  She was so happy about that special time with Daddy.

Thank you so much for everyone who has pitched in to watch the kids or make us a meal.  The meals have really come at the perfect times and been so helpful for me so that I can concentrate on getting into a new routine and not worry about making dinner.  We have been so blessed with this residency program here and the city, too.  The friends we have made here are wonderful, genuine, and I love how we can all pitch in and take care of each other.  Thanks to all of you who have prayed for us and this situation, too.  There is one specific example of how and when I have felt God's presence and His control in all of this, but I will share that at another time.  Keep praying!

23 January 2012

Update on Erik

Some of you know by now that Erik had a bad crash skiing last night.  He hit a metal pole, shoulder first, and after an extremely painful ride to the hospital from the ski hill and a visit to the Emergency Department, they discovered that he fractured his scalpula.  The break itself isn't so much a problem, as that will heal itself.  However, he is having some weird neurological problems with his left arm.  He is unable to move it or straighten it and doesn't have any feeling in his upper arm .  They didn't really know what to expect overnight with the pain and swelling increasing with time, but during the night he felt some of his fingers go numb, too, and this morning is having a hard time with gripping things with that hand.  Most likely this was caused by nerves that were damaged during the crash (they were calling this a "stinger" in the ED last night).  He had a consult with Orthopedic Surgery last night and the doctor treating Erik called his wife, who is a Physical Medicine and Rehibilitation doctor (PM&R) to talk with her about it.  Both specialties, along with the ED doctor, said that it is going to take time for this to heal and they have seen it take six months for those nerves to get back in the groove.

Even if this just takes only six days or six weeks to heal, it's a bad deal for Erik!  His arms and his hands are his whole career and he can't just go to work like this.  Some were surprised to hear that Erik is THE doctor in residency.  He is on the schedule, seeing patients, and treating patients. With this bum arm he can't intubate, do CPR, put in a chest tube or central line, deliver a baby, put a broken arm or dislocation back in place, or do many other procedures that he does on a daily basis.  He's not going to be able to show up at his rotations and just observe or be there for moral support of his co-workers!  He's a paid employee that's expected to work.  So, the stress of trying to figure out what to do about work and the horrible feelings Erik has about burdening someone else with trying to find others to fill in, is making Erik feel even worse.

In the next couple days, he might be getting a MRI and an EMG and will come out either knowing more or just confirming that Erik will need to just wait for it to heal.  If you know Erik at all, you know he doesn't do very well at sitting still and waiting things out.  He's already talking about racing next week and I just have to look at him and smile.  He's anxious to get back to work and I know he'll do everything possible to make this happen sooner rather than later.  Today he has spent the majority of the day with ice on his shoulder and trying to rest.  It isn't easy when three kids jump on him every couple of minutes!  He's in a lot of pain and is super annoyed that he can't get his arm to move.

Prayers are appreciated.  On top of everything, Erik's pain meds make him a little nauseated, but it certainly could have been a lot worse!  If he would have hit just a few inches above where he did on his neck or if he would have hit his head, he could be dead or suffering from paralysis or severe brain damage.  God has a special way of protecting Erik and we are so lucky that we're only dealing with a fracture and a dead arm.  God is good!

21 January 2012

A Story I Can't Get Over

I am so excited to share a story tonight that I just can't get over.  It all started way back in July...

Erik started residency the end of June.  Since the first house we tried to buy fell through, we lived in that rinky dink apartment for a few weeks while we tried to find another place to live.  During one of our first weeks here, we had a formal function to go to at the hospital and we couldn't bring the kids with.  I asked the one person I knew before moving here and she couldn't do it, so I just figured that I would have to stay home.  Erik called later that afternoon from the hospital and said, "Start getting ready, I found a babysitter!"

It turns out that Erik was riding up the elevator at work with a bunch of people he had never met.  He just blurted out, "Hey, I need a babysitter for my three kids tonight.  Does anyone know of any teenage girl that would like to babysit?"  Barry, one of the guys in the elevator said, "My daughter is 16 and she babysits."  So, Barry ended up calling his daughter, she said yes, and the next thing I knew, we were leaving my precious babies with someone I had never met (we had to leave them at their house since our apartment complex was a little on the unsafe side and I didn't want a babysitter there alone).

The night went well and the kids had a BLAST!  Juliana, Barry's 16 year old daughter, did a great job with the kids and the kids didn't want to leave when we showed up to get them.  While we were forcing them out the door, we were telling Barry and Juliana a shortened version of the situation we were in and they suggested driving down their street because there was a nice house in forclosure that we could maybe get for pretty cheap.  We drove slowly down the street and parked outside the house for sale.  Erik called the realtor's name on the sign to get more information while I nursed Klaasen quick in the front seat.  It turns out the house was already sold, so we headed home, driving slowly through neighborhoods searching for for sale signs in the front yards (this type of activity often consumed our evenings - I was so determined to find us a home!).  Days, weeks, months passed and it wasn't until tonight that we needed another babysitter.  We had tried to find Juliana's number, but couldn't find where we had put it.  Finally Erik found Barry's number and we called him.  Barry gave us Juliana's cell number.  When I called to ask if she could babysit again, Juliana sounded really excited!  The kids were excited, too.  They could hardly contain themselves all afternoon in anticipation of her coming tonight.  

I spoke with her a few hours before she came over tonight, just to give her our address and after getting off the phone, realized that maybe she didn't have GPS.  So, I texted her back and said, "Hey, if you don't have GPS and would rather me give you the directions to our house, then call me!"  She texted back and said, "I'm pretty sure I can find it!" with a smiley face.  She arrived at 7:00 and upon answering the door, Erik said, "Did you find it okay?"  Juliana responded with, "Yeah, I drove right to it... I grew up in this house!!!"  I had been in the bathroom throwing dirty clothes down the laundry shoot and when I heard that, I ran out into the entryway and said, "What?!?!?!?!?!"  It turns out that her dad actually designed and built this house.  He drew the house plans that I have up in the top cabinet of my kitchen!  She played and danced and sang, and lived in this house!  Wow!  She even brought pictures over to show us of them building the house.  I just could not believe it!  The best part was that the very last picture she had was a picture of her as a toddler, standing in the living room in front of the stair railing in a pair of ski boots and skis.  Two nights ago, Maida was standing in her ski boots and skis in that very same place in the living room.  :)

Life is so crazy sometimes.  I love this story.  I love how life unfolded.  The day we met Barry and Juliana, we never in a million years would have thought that we would buy one of their family's first homes.

17 January 2012

Happy Third Birthday, Skogen!


You are THREE years old!  It doesn't seem possible.  Just yesterday I was pregnant with you, fighting for a chance at a VBAC, then just a short time later, I was holding you in my arms, so surprised at how big you were and how much you could eat at just a few hours old.  Then fast forward a little bit further and you were running around for your first birthday, wearing a t-shirt that said, "Skogen #1."  Your two year birthday we spent at our house with Grandma and I will always remember that birthday because we gave you a train table.  I will never forget how you stayed up later than Maida and got to help Daddy put it together.  Then when you woke up in the morning, Daddy had built a train on the table and when you saw it, your eyes lit up in excitement.

We had planned on spending your third birthday with your best friend, Grant, and his family, but your sister got sick the night before your birthday, so we decided just to celebrate with Bumpa and Grandma (who you called on the phone the week before and invited to your house for your birthday).  Grandma made you the traditional Kinkel birthday cake (you insisted that it be blue and green) and we decorated with transformers (your request!).  You ripped into your presents before anyone could hardly take any pictures and wanted to eat cake before we even got through dinner!

We love you so much, Skogen!  I really hope that your third birthday was everything you hoped for and that you cherished the presents, the special phone calls, and the wonderful family time we had.  I don't even want to think about you turning FOUR, that is waaaaaaaaaaaay too old!

You are so special to me, Skogen, and I hope you are always my little boy.


Pictures from the big night.... (I have no idea why some of them of sideways!)
You with all your presents!

Digging right in.

You were so very sweet to your brother and let him help you open presents.

A new bike!  Now you won't have to fight Maida for hers!

You were very pleased at how your cake turned out!

09 January 2012

My alarm went off at 8:00 this morning.  I sleepily rolled out of bed and went into Skogen's room to turn his light on and start the process of getting him up for preschool.  I went to the bathroom and let the dogs out into the backyard.  I then walked back into Skogen's bedroom to make sure he was awake.  Right as I sat on his bed, someone pounded on the door.  I glanced out Skogen's window to see if I could see who was here and I saw a police car in my driveway!

I ran down to the door and there was a police officer frantically pounding on the door and the window.  All I could think of was, one, why doesn't he just use the doorbell, and two, that maybe there was some kind of emergency with Erik and they were coming to tell me that he was in the hospital or something.  I opened the door and the police officer asked, "Hello, are you the wife or husband of this house?"  I thought for a minute that it was some kind of joke (Or maybe he couldn't tell that I was a girl?  Or maybe he thought I was a lesbian?), but when I laughed and said, "I'm the wife." He didn't even crack a smile.  He then told me that someone had called and complained about my dogs in the backyard barking steady for the past hour.  I glanced at the clock, it was only 8:10!  Surprised, I said, "Oh wow, that's strange because my dogs have only been out for five minutes.  It must not have been my dogs."  The police officer acted as if he didn't believe me, but asked if I knew of any other dogs on the block.  I pointed at a few houses that had dogs, meanwhile Barkley! in the backyard had started barking like crazy (great timing, right?).  The police officer said he would walk the block and make sure the others with dogs knew that someone had put in a compliant.  Just at that time, another police officer came from behind my house and yelled, "Is she going to put her dogs in?"  (No wonder Barkley! was barking!  This police officer had been in our backyard!)  I nodded as the police officer at the door said, "Yeah, she is, but her dogs have only been out for a few minutes."  The police office who had been trampling in my backyard yelled back, "That doesn't matter.  Ever since her dog moved into the neighborhood, it eggs all the other dogs in the neighborhood on."  Then he looked at me and yelled, "Mam, just put your dogs in.  I know your dogs are barking because I was just in your backyard and they were barking at me."

I'm pretty sure I rolled my eyes at this point and thought that maybe if it was so urgent that I let my dogs in RIGHT NOW, that they should maybe let me get to the back door to let my dogs in, but instead they said that it would only take a few more minutes because they would have to make the complaint against me since my dogs were currently barking and that they needed my name (first, middle, and last) and my phone number.  I wanted to ask the police officer who was still standing in my yard how he knew my dog egged all the other dogs on and I wanted to ask them how they could make a false complaint about me (because my dogs had only been out for five minutes!), but I knew that my dogs like to bark and so I didn't argue or ask any questions.  As they left, the one police officer yelled, "Put your dogs in!"  As if I wasn't going to after this mess!  They got in the police car and quickly drove off, obviously not going to any of the other houses that the first police office told me he would.

Being the over-analyzing person that I am, I couldn't stop thinking about the whole mess, especially since when I went to put the dogs in, Barkley! was lazily lounging quietly in the sun and Summit was eating rocks and pouncing on sticks.  I was upset about the whole thing.  I stood in our front window and glanced around the neighborhood.  Who made the complaint? Why would they lie about my dogs barking for the past hour?   Are they just targeting us because Barkley is a pit bull and no one wants a pit bull in the neighborhood?  Why didn't the police officers go around to all the other houses like they said they would?   A little too much effort making quota for the day or impressing the bosses and not enough serving the neighborhoods and caring about the truth or getting to the bottom of problems.

I'm not sure if I'll ever figure any of it out and I really can't promise that the barking will get any better (is it possible to teach an old dog new tricks?), but at least I can mark getting a complaint filed against me off of my list for the day. :)  Ha, and I have to laugh as I hit, "Publish," I'm listening to a dog outside right now barking like crazy - and it's not either of mine.

02 January 2012

Christmas 2011

Children make Christmas so magical!  There's nothing like seeing their excitement, their laughter, the little sparkles in their eyes, and watching them dive into the wrapping paper, the new toys, and happily consume several hundred Christmas cookies in one night.  We had an amazing holiday here at home together, beginning our own traditions.  After Christmas at home, we spent a few days up north with Kara's family.  
Christmas Morning
All of our Christmas pictures can be found here.  Enjoy!

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