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...


30 August 2012

Torsten S Scharrer

God's timing is funny - and perfect.
Torsten S Scharrer joined our family on Tuesday, August 28th, at 10:01 in the evening.
Pictures and stories to come!
To see some pictures we've taken with our phone, click here.  I tried uploading pictures to the blog, but the internet is not the greatest in the hospital, so it will take a little longer.  Check back soon...

28 August 2012

Summer Garden Re-Cap

I see that all six of my readers (well, five, actually because one vote was me) voted on the weight of our new little (or big?) one!  As the day gets closer and closer, I am getting more and more excited!  It seems like this week is going by soooooo sllloooooooooooooowwww waiting for him!  To distract ourselves from all the waiting we've been doing, the kids and I have been finding little projects around the house to keep us busy.  Our project of the day today was ripping up our garden.

We have had such a successful gardening year for first time gardeners and such a small garden to work in.  We probably planted way too many seeds for the amount of space we had, but it all worked out.  I am so proud of Maida, Skogen, and Klaasen for all of their hard work they put into the garden.  I'm also thankful for all the learning experiences we had throughout the summer of planting, growing, watering, weeding, picking, and freezing our veggies.  Often times we'd pray about our garden and ask God to help our garden grow us some good food - it was so nice to hear the kids exclaim, "God provided!" whenever we'd find some more veggies to pick.

See our little garden space?  It's the fenced off area in the middle, very back of the yard.
I totally let the kids do all the planting of the garden.  All I did was hoe some rows and said, "Throw in the seeds!"  And that's exactly what they did!  The day we planted, I remember telling Erik that I doubted anything would grow.  As the summer went on, the kids took turns everyday watering the garden.  Maida was my picker (she has the longest attention span, the boys would get board too quickly), Skogen was my fetcher (he loved to fetch me things like rakes and buckets when I was in the garden), and Klaasen was my canner (he loves to help in the kitchen).  

One picking of beans - we got this much about every other week or so.
Throughout the summer, we picked beans like crazy.  Every week or every other week we'd get a couple buckets full and we froze 30-some quarts total.  That is way more than I ever expected to get from our little garden!

Our first picking of cucumbers
One of the biggest pickings of cucumbers

We picked a grand total of 72 cucumbers!  We ate a lot, gave away a lot, and canned 16 jars of pickles.  I did not plan on making pickles, but I just couldn't stand to let any of the cucumbers go to waste.  It was actually a fairly easy process and I think I'll plan to can pickles every year now!
Canning cucumbers

Some of our cucumbers got super big, especially when we would go out of town for a week and not have a chance to pick them.  I have never seen cucumbers so big!  The kids had a hard time trying to carry them out of the garden!

I thought this cucumber was big, especially compared to my forearm, but we had a few later in the summer that actually got bigger than this one!

We actually didn't pick any carrots until this week.  I had tested one earlier in the summer and it was only the size of my pinkie, so I figured they weren't growing.  However, when we went to rip up the garden, we found a whole bunch of great sized carrots! 

 Currently we have a total of eight growing pumpkins!  It has been fun to watch them start so small and get bigger and now they are turning orange!  There are a few that are growing from the fence, too, which is interesting to see.  I wonder if they will hold on or break off when they get too heavy!  When we ripped up the garden, we left all the pumpkin vines.  Hopefully the eight we have will make it until Halloween and maybe we'll even get a few more!

 I am so pleased and so thankful for the garden we had this year.  I hope that we can do it every year and expand on our growing each year!

25 August 2012

Soon a Family of Six

8 weeks
In five days from now, we'll be a family of six.


12 weeks
Becoming a family of six (which sounds SO big!) comes with many mixed emotions for me.  As I sit back and think about the waiting (and begging!) I did for this baby, the pregnancy, a fourth c-section, bringing home another baby, and completing our family, I am filled with joy, thanksgiving, anticipation, and lots of warm fuzzies, but I'm also filled with hesitancy, fear, worry, and doubt.

I have no doubt that a fourth baby is what I have prayed for, what our family desires to be complete, and I trust God's timing.  But I'm sad to be all done with my last pregnancy and I'm hesitant to introduce another sibling to the mix.  I worry about each of the other kids' feelings and emotions surrounding this big life change.  I want to be there and be the best mommy for all four of the kids and I worry about being able to meet all of their needs and demands, especially in the next couple weeks with the new baby coming, the kids' school starting, Erik's surgery, and many other things we have filling our plate.
18 weeks

I know, however, that I'm not the only mom to have four kids and that it will be a learning and growing experience for all of us.  It will all work out!  There are so many positives and so many things to look forward to - I just hope the time doesn't pass us by too quickly and that Erik and I are able to embrace the miracle of birth and count our blessings as life might get a little more stressful in the coming weeks.

36 weeks
Our c-section is scheduled for 10:30am on August 30th.  The process will all start on the 29th when I have to go in for a bunch of blood work (oh, yikes!).  Then they'll cut me off from all food and drink at midnight that night (which is almost as bad as the blood work!) and we'll check into the hospital at 8:30 on Thursday morning.  After checking in, there will be a lot of prep work to get me and baby ready for the big slice, and hopefully the surgery will be on time with no complications.  
I'm already anticipating the happy moment that we confirm that it's a boy and the pleasure of getting to see those sweet baby eyes for the first time!  I'm looking forward to comparing him to his siblings and trying to figure out who he looks like and I'm very excited to find out how much he weighs!  Just for fun, I put a poll over to the left where you can vote on how much you think #4 will weigh!  To help you make a good guess, and for a little history...
37 weeks
*  I went two days over my due date with Maida, I gained 23 pounds during the pregnancy, and she weighed 8 pounds 1 ounce at birth.
*  Skogen was born two weeks early, I gained 42 pounds during the pregnancy, and he weighed 9 pounds 5.5 ounces at birth.
*  Klaas the Haas was born right on his due date, I gained 55 pounds during the pregancy, and he weighed 9 pounds 6.5 ounces at birth.
*  #4 will be born four days early and I have gained 30 pounds so far this pregnancy.

 A few pictures of baby's nursery....

He will be sharing a room with big sister Maida. This is his half of the room.

The baskets above the changing table are holding all of our cloth diapers!  I can't wait to use them again.

This is a framed poem that was my father-in-law's (who is an arborist).  I thought it tied in well with our tree themed room.  I also thought it was neat that before I hung it up, I looked at the back and saw a sticker from where it was bought.  It was originally purchased at an old art gallery that used to be in my home town.
The kids and I made baby a quilt a few months ago!  It was super easy and fun to do with the kids.
I'm so excited to use the same crib we've used for all of our kids!
The kids and I also made a mobile for above the changing table.  It was so fun for the kids to help cut out the circles and string them on the wire.

38 weeks

 I haven't talked about the pregnancy much on the blog at all.  At first it was because I didn't want to hear all the negative comments like, "Number four?!  You are CRAZY!" or "How are you ever going to handle four kids?!"  Then life became busy and passed by so quickly - and now here we are five days before delivery.  The pregnancy has been pretty easy going, though.  I have loved and cherished it just as much as the past three.  I still think pregnancy is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and I'm so thankful to have been able to do it four times.  This pregnancy was a little different than my other three.  I puked for 21 straight weeks (thank goodness for Zofran!) and then at week 36, I felt abnormally uncomfortable and found out that baby was breech!  Since I already had a c-section scheduled, they didn't worry about baby's position so much, but I can tell you that breech babies are way more uncomfortable... more heartburn, more baby hiccups, more contractions, and over all a more uncomfortable positioning.  Around week 38, much to my disbelief that it would happen, baby flipped!  The past week has thankfully been a lot more comfortable.
I took a quick video the other day (while baby was still breech) of some baby hiccups.  If you look closely, you can see the rhythmic bumps of the hiccups.  I also caught some big baby movements on camera (the biggest happen around 30 seconds into the video) that I'm convinced is the baby beginning to turn because the next day, it was confirmed by ultrasound that he had flipped. 

22 August 2012

Bye-bye Tonsils

Dear Skogi-ogi-oh (you often ask us to call you this!),

On August 7th, you got your tonsils and adenoids out.  This was the first time that any of my babies have had surgery, so I didn't really know what to expect or how to prepare.  Luckily, you had your surgery at one of the best hospitals in the world, and they have a really great program for kids.
 The day before your surgery, you went to a class, specially designed for you and to teach you about your surgery.  A really nice teacher told you all about what would happen, where you would go, what it would feel like, and gave you some fun stuff to practice with at home.
 Your listened very well to the teacher, made your own doll named "Dolly Doll" that you and the teacher practiced the surgery on, and picked out a smell for the anesthesia the next day (this was probably one of your favorite parts of the class and you picked bubble gum smell).
We brought home a whole bunch of stuff and Klaasen and Maida helped you practice with all of it that night!
 In the morning, we woke up very very early, got dressed, and went up to the hospital.  We had to be there by 7:30 and you weren't allowed any food or drink after midnight the night before, so I wasn't sure how you'd do.  You threw a little bit of a tantrum for no reason walking into the hospital and refused to put on the wrist band and "pajamas," but none of that was out of the ordinary.  You can be pretty stubborn sometimes!
 Daddy put on a band, just like you (which is the only way you eventually decided to put it on).  Daddy also was able to go back with you into the operating room until you fell asleep, which was really cool.  They gave you some "happy medicine" before the surgery to try to calm you down and help you cooperate, but Daddy said it made you act drunk and crazy!  At least you were having fun!  You refused to lay down on the operating table once you were back in the operating room, but they let Daddy hold you until you were out and then Daddy laid you on the table.
 The surgery only lasted about 45 minutes and you were back in Daddy's arms.  You had trouble waking up and didn't really want to breathe, but Daddy helped hold some oxygen on you when you needed it.  As soon as you were able to open your eyes, the nurse was offering you popsicles and juice, or anything else you could ever want to eat.
 You had a little IV in your left hand and once you started waking up a little more, you kept asking for it to be taken out.  We distracted you by watching Cars 2 and A Gooffy Movie since they wanted to monitor you a little more before taking out the IV.
 You never complained about the pain, but we got a few doses of pain medicine before we left the hospital, just to make sure we stayed on top of it. You took one last little nap before we left the hospital and while you were sleeping, they removed your IV and all of the patches you were wearing on your chest.  You didn't even wake up or know that they were being taken off!
 You were discharged just five hours after the surgery!  You did so well eating and drinking that all the nurses were impressed.  Daddy carried you to the car and I think you loved all the attention you were getting!
 Once we got home, you and Daddy crashed!  It had been a long morning.  You spent the majority of the first day sleeping on the couch.  Mommy and Daddy slept with you in the living room for the next three nights, until you were able to go all night without any pain medicine.  
 It was hard to keep you laying down during the day, but luckily we had a stack of old VHS tapes of Scooby Doo that we bought at the thrift store a few weeks before and you and Maida enjoyed watching those over and over with Daddy.
 You were really stinky for the first two weeks after the surgery, but as those yellow scabs in the back of your throat healed, the smell got better and better.  It took you about the full two weeks to get back to your normal self, but I was impressed and surprised with how well you dealt with the surgery and the healing.
I hope if any of your siblings have to ever have surgery, it goes as easy as yours did.  You were such a big boy and I am so proud of you!  I'm also looking forward to you getting some good sleep, now, and being able to breathe and swallow without as much trouble as you have had since birth.

Love you Skogen,


16 August 2012

Sadie and Christopher Tie the Knot

At the beginning of August, we enjoyed a weekend with my family up at my parents' house in northern Minnesota.  It is always a blessing to wake up to the sun coming up sparkling over the river and to go to sleep with the frogs and loons calling through the stillness.  Every time we are at my parents' house, I feel so blessed to have such a retreat to go to anytime we want.  It's a great place for relaxing and a wonderful place to spend time with family.

While up north, we celebrated the wedding of my niece, Sadie, and her soul mate, Christopher!  It was such a beautiful wedding, on the same lake and beach where Erik and I got married.  Maida had the privilege of being the flower girl and was so delighted to have her first dance (with the ring bearer!).  I enjoyed spending time with my family and also getting to know Christopher's family better.

I put together a movie of pictures and videos from the wedding.  Enjoy!

12 August 2012

More good news for Erik!!!

For the second time now the EMG showed improvement and my surgery was postponed for yet another month!

Posterior view of the axillary nerve innervating the deltoid muscle.
Last month my tricep was noticeably improving prior to the EMG, but the surprising good news was that my suprascapular nerve was also showing subtle signs of improvement.  I have been "exercising" my left shoulder even though it doesn't actually move, hoping that it will continue to heal.  Well, this EMG showed some improvement in the tricep even since last time, but not much difference in the supraspinatus or infraspinatus muscles.  However, the good news this time is that there appeared to be a single motor unit firing in my posterior deltoid for the first time.  This does make sense as the first sign of improvement since the axillary nerve innervates the deltoid muscle posteriorly and extends anteriorly.  Unfortunately, it's difficult to know what the significance of a single motor unit is.  On one hand, it is something that was present this time and hasn't ever been there in the past, but it is also only ONE motor unit.  Could it have been hiding from the previous physicians performing the EMGs and is actually not new?  Could the needle have been positioned incorrectly this time and it was picking up my tricep activity or some other muscle?  Or is it actually healing but at too slow of a rate?  Apparently, there have even been instances where a nerve is completely severed and this sort of activity is still seen on EMG, so could my results just been an errant false positive?  Who really knows.

My surgeon was very straight forward about his ambivalence to operate tomorrow, which I really appreciated.  He noted this wasn't a black-and-white case as my injury is somewhat unique in the distribution of disability with three separate nerves involved (really two locations of injury, most likely) and while the text book answer is to operate now, at the six month mark, he couldn't recommend that as the "right" answer for me.  He actually said he dictated a letter on Thursday for a different patient encouraging the patient to pursue a surgery the patient declined because he sincerely believed he could help that patient.  (He also said it was something that he rarely ever does.)  He was saying that he would give his honest professional recommendation to me if he thought surgery now was the best option, but that there really isn't a definite best option in this case.

Even before my appointment on Friday I was somewhat surprised that we scheduled the EMG for only 3.5 weeks after the last one considering it took six months to see the first sign of improvement.  Whether the new finding on EMG is real doesn't really matter because without knowing the significance, I say there is something on EMG that wasn't there before.  In looking at the 10-year plan, healing without surgery would probably be better, but the longer we wait for surgery, the chances for good outcome go down.  That's the dilemma I've discussed in previous posts (wow - maybe I am becoming a "blogger").  We also discussed that the studies showing surgery at or prior to 6 months as having the best results didn't salami slice the 6th, 7th, 8th months, etc.  The studies were looking at 3 months vs. 6 months vs. 12 months.  So, operating at 6 months is better than 12 months, but is it really much different than 7 months?  In saying that, we agreed that unless there was significant improvement in the deltoid after another 4 weeks we would go to the OR and take a look.  Two or three motor units on the next EMG doesn't really constitute significant improvement  With the relative improvements in my tricep, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus, he said they wouldn't do the nerve transfers for the radial and suprascapular nerves, but would likely only do a graft to the axillary nerve with the anticipation that the others would continue to heal on their own.  More good news!

For now, we wait another four weeks, less than a week after the youngest little Scharrer boy is here.  Skogen had his tonsils and adenoids out last week and has been resting, so one down, two to go.  :)

Thank you so much for your support and please keep praying for continued healing and good results in the long run!

09 August 2012

Birthday Ballooning

All I wished for for my birthday was flowers.  I wanted some pretty flowers to put in a vase on the dining room table.  Little did I know, Erik had bigger plans!

The night before my birthday, Erik suggested going out to dinner.  We don't dine out much, so I was extremely excited to hear he wanted to go out.  We chose a local restaurant with a patio, which was so much easier with the kids.  We ordered food on a "rock," which meant that they served the meat raw and we cooked it ourselves on a hot stone that they placed in the middle of our table.  It was so different and fun and  I loved celebrating my birthday over dinner.

The next morning, there were several alarms that went off at 4:15am.  When I heard them go off, I was so irritated with Erik because I thought he had just forgot to unset the alarms from the morning before when he had early appointments.  Instead of just laying in bed like he usually does when the alarms go off, he immediately got up and shut them off!  He then told me that I had to get up and that we were going somewhere.  I laid there until the last minute and drug my feet for the next hour, but we managed to drag the kids out of bed, too, and before I knew it, we were watching the sunrise as we sat at a gas station in the middle of the city.  Erik told us that we were waiting for something, but we had no idea what we were waiting for.  Eventually, a truck pulling a trailer pulled up.  On the side of the trailer was a hot air balloon.  I immediately started sweating!  Erik obviously planned this surprise without knowledge of my fear of heights and small spaces!  Luckily, it was too early to think too much and before I knew it, we were in a basket, hanging 1,000 feet above the city!

I spent hours putting together a video of our pictures and videos from our balloon ride.  I hope you go watch it!  I mostly wanted to put it together for my mom, who will probably never go on a hot air balloon ride, and for my mother-in-law who has ballooning on her bucket list!  It will be nice to show the kids when they are older, too, because I highly doubt any of them will remember their first hot air balloon ride!

06 August 2012

Jared's Farm

While we were in Oklahoma, we got to visit my cousin Jared's farm.  Him and his wife Des and their daughter Coco have so many different animals to see and feed.  The kids LOVED it and keep asking to go back even though we aren't even in Oklahoma anymore!

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