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 September 2012

Does Staples really sell an EASY button?

It is so hard - in more ways than I ever dreamed it'd be.

From learning how to keep a newborn alive, to sorting through all kinds of advice on how to handle the "terrible two's," to deciding what type of school to send your kindergartner to.  These are the things I never thought about when I dreamed of having our babies.

Maida attended two Christian private preschools before starting kindergarten this year.  Preschool is where she not only developed her social skills and learned to read and write, but she also started developing a relationship with God.  Erik and I both witnessed her prayer life grow and her faith skyrocket through the roof last year as she matured from a toddler, into a school-age little girl. I took for granted the daily Bible readings they did in preschool and the special times her teacher prayed with her and for her.  It wasn't until we entered into the third week of public kindergarten this year, that I have started to wonder if we've made a big huge mistake.

Deciding on public school for Maida wasn't a hard decision for Erik and I, initially.  For one, private school costs money and public school is free.  And for another, Erik and I both grew up in small towns where there was only one public school and everyone attended (and we both turned out alright :)).  It wasn't until the other day when I overheard Maida pretending to be Mrs. Brown (her kindergarten teacher) reading a Bible story and praying with her class, that I started questioning our decision.  She even said, "Mom, I am Mrs. Brown, and I am telling my class just how great God is!"  It was at that point that I realized that Maida has no idea they aren't going to pray at school.  They aren't going to learn about God's goodness or ask Him for His guidance and protection.  It was at this moment that my heart broke.  Am I ready to let Maida in on the secret that not everyone believes in God?  Is it okay for her to know that not everyone prays and not all of her friends even go to church?  There is something to be said about a Christian foundation to learning that most private schools lay down for their students.

What do we do now?  Do we pull her out of a school she seems to love and a teacher and children that she's grown to know?  Do we then suddenly plop her into a private Christian kindergarten, just to preserve her innocence a little bit longer?  How do we keep her in public school and eloquently explain to her the realities of the world?  How will we find the answers for her questioning heart and gently lead her young soul toward Christ, even when she doubts?

I'm not ready for this.  I'm not ready for my baby, my little believing, faithful baby, to take this next step in her journey.

22 September 2012

Erik's Surgery

As Kara noted in her post on Sept. 11th, I finally had surgery.  Because 2 of the 3 damaged nerves were improving, they only operated on the axillary nerve which innervates my deltoid.  In order to fix the axillary nerve, they took the sural nerve from my left leg and essentially transplanted it to my shoulder.

My left leg with a 14 inch incision, now devoid of a sural nerve

Anterior incision

Posterior incision

I must say again that I feel so fortunate to have two of the the world's foremost surgeons performing the operation and they both said afterward that it was worse than they had expected when they were finally able to visualize the nerves.  Despite two MRIs from different institutions, the axillary nerve was actually ruptured (granted, it is very difficult to trace a nerve through an MRI).  The doctors took some pictures, so I will better understand what they saw at my next appointment, especially because I was coming out of anesthesia when they were telling me about it.  :)

The bottom line is that no matter how long we would have waited, it wouldn't have healed without surgery.  On one hand, at least we know we did the right thing by operating, but on the other hand, it sure would have been great to know that sooner.  However, had we known that the axillary nerve needed surgery earlier this summer, I'm sure they would have operated on the other two nerves, which would have been pulling the trigger too early.  It's interesting how all the details come together.

Speaking of details, they took 30 cm (~12 inches) of my sural nerve and used it to bridge 10 cm (~4 inches) of my axillary nerve.  "That doesn't quite match up," you might say.  Well, the sural nerve is smaller in diameter than the axillary, so they divided the 30 cm into 3 pieces and glued those together prior to suturing them end-to-end to the axillary nerve -- true microsurgery!

The hope is that the radial and suprascapular nerves will continue to heal and the goal is that my axillary nerve will allow me to at least lift my left arm, but it will always be weaker and I probably won't be able to lift it all the way over my head.  Unfortunately, it will be a few more months before we see if this is going to work at all, and it will be 2 years to see how much improvement I get.  I guess that's one thing I'm getting good at -- playing the waiting game.

5:45 am report time.  Waiting in the pre-op area with 14-day-old Torsten.


After surgery, recovering from IV anesthesia (much slower recovery time than inhaling gas).

One-armed man going home.

Fat foot!  It's still swollen, but not that bad and no ace wrap.

Kara thought it was funny that she came out of the dentist to find Torsten and I both asleep in the waiting room.  Pain meds, new baby, busy house must have all caught up to me.

Sausage digits

This list of previous posts is really just for me, so I can keep a record of the story.
1. http://www.scharrerlife.blogspot.com/2012/01/week-one-update.html
2. http://www.scharrerlife.blogspot.com/2012/01/update-on-erik.html
3. http://www.scharrerlife.blogspot.com/2012/02/first-blog-post-ever.html
4. http://www.scharrerlife.blogspot.com/2012/03/update-on-eriks-shoulder-second-blog.html
5. http://www.scharrerlife.blogspot.com/2012/05/job.html
6. http://www.scharrerlife.blogspot.com/2012/07/heres-neat-little-story.html
7. http://www.scharrerlife.blogspot.com/2012/08/more-good-news-for-erik.html
8. http://www.scharrerlife.blogspot.com/2012/09/surgery-day.html

15 September 2012

First Day of School

Maida and Skogen had their first day of school on September 6th!

I was so excited, yet so terrified, of Maida going to Kindergarten this year.  I was excited for this next step in Maida's life, but Kindergarten just seemed way too old!

Skogen was really excited about his first day of preschool.  He is going to the same preschool that he went to last year, but this year he has a different teacher and his best friend, Grant, is in his class!

It works out really nice because I am able to take Maida and Skogen to school at the same time.  I drop Skogen off first and then Maida.  When I pick up, I pick Skogen up first and then Maida.  Their schools are less than a mile from our house and less than a mile a part.

On the way to school!

Skogen trying to find his name so that he knew where to hang his backpack
Skogen was a little hesitant to go into his classroom and hung on Daddy's leg for a while before going in. 

Walking into Maida's school
Mommy watching her big Kindergartener in line with the other kids before school
She was so curious about everything going on around her
Waving goodbye to Mommy

They both had great first day and really enjoyed their first full week of school!  I think it's going to be a great year.

11 September 2012

Surgery Day

Today was the big day!
Erik checked into the hospital at 5:45 this morning and put his trust in his team of surgeons.  During the five hour surgery, they were able to take a nerve from his left leg and put it in his shoulder.  As I type, Erik is in recovery, trying to wake up!  I'm so thankful that everything went well and that the OR kept me well updated during the surgery.  Now we pray for a full (better than expected!) recovery. 

04 September 2012

How Torsten got his name

The deal was that if Erik let me have another baby, he got to choose the name.  When I told him that before I became pregnant, we both knew I wasn't being entirely truthful.  He did a great job suggesting some names and we both really liked the new name for our little baby Torsten.

All of our boys have skiing-related names.  Skogen is named after Skogen Sprang, a famous freeskier who was very well-known around the turn of the century, and was actually just named the head coach of the U.S. freeskiing team in preparation for the 2014 Sochi Olympics (the immediate past coach and multiple X-Games medalist, Evan Raps, is coincidentally returning to medical school at the University of Nevada).  Interestingly enough, Skogen Scharrer shares the same birthday with Skogen Sprang!  Skogen's middle name, Roux, is from the movie Chocolat, which is one of the first movies we watched together.  Johnny Depp's character in the movie is Roux, a rough and tumble journeyer, and while we were watching it, Erik said, "Let's use Roux for one of our kids' names," I think primarily because of the way it was spelled.  It also works well because Erik's middle name is Andrew, which is in his family tree, so it's sort of a spin-off of that.

Klaasen is a derivation of a name we got from Kara's family tree.  Klaus Kinkel has held multiple high-ranking government offices in Germany, including Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor (similar to the Vice President of the USA).  Klaasen's middle name is not only my Grandma's maiden name, but it is also the name of a ski resort in Vermont called Burke Mountain.

Following with tradition, we thought we should use something ski-related to name our third little boy.  We got the name Torsten while watching the ESPN Winter X-Games this year.  Torstein Horgmo is a Norwegian snowboarder, but we changed it to Torsten and it also happens to go well with "Maida, Skogen, Klaasen..." better.  However, boy names ending in -en seem to be the new pink over the past few years.

Torsten's middle name was the hardest to come up with.  We seemed to have so many ideas, but nothing seemed to fit perfectly.  We had people we'd love to honor, but didn't know who or how or what.  Finally we decided on S.  Just S.  It is simply the letter, with no period as it is not an abbreviation.  S was my grandpa's middle name and when we asked my mom why Grandpa Dick's (her dad's) middle name was S, she said no one ever knew.  She vaguely remembered something about Harry S Truman.  I did some research on Harry S Truman and discovered that the past President's middle name was also just the letter S with no period.  This S did not stand for anything (which was common practice among the Scots-Irish), but it was to honor both of his grandfathers (Shipp and Solomon).  We thought this was kind of neat because we really wanted to honor Erik's grandpa, Shorty, too.  So, the S in Torsten's middle name is to honor my Grandpa Dick and Erik's grandpa, Shorty (a.k.a. "Deda").

For completeness' sake, I'll give the story behind Maida's name, too, though she was not named after a skier.  We thought it would be neat to have a K somewhere in all our kids' names since we both have K's in our names.  She was going to be Kensington if it was a girl (Kensi for short) and Skogen if it was a boy.  Well, I remember it like yesterday:  one morning I woke up, about 3 weeks before my May 1st due date, and I walked out into the living room and emphatically told Erik, "We have to think of a new name if it's a girl!  I hate the name, Kensington!"  We had both forgotten the K thing by this time since we had names picked out several months before this, and we went back to the list of names and actually ended up making a new list, from where we got Maida.  Her middle name is Raine to honor my mom, Luraine, which also happens to be my middle name.  It wasn't until she was 2 days old that we remembered the K thing.  Ha!

So there you have it.  Erik Andrew, Kara Luraine, Barkley!, Maida Raine, Skogen Roux, Klaasen Burke, Summit, and Torsten S.  Erik says he's also getting another dog, but I don't know if I could handle that!

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