Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Lion's Den

The Lion’s Den

My alarm will go off at 4:30am tomorrow, July 1st. We will rise before the sun and head out the door, ready to take on the day we are given.

At 5:00am we will check Joseph into the hospital and then I will begin my long day of waiting and praying in the Family Center and the Chapel.

At 8:00am Joseph’s heart surgery is scheduled to begin.

These are the only plans I have in life right now—and they begin in just a few hours.

It is a strange feeling, to really not know what is going to happen in you life a day from now. But, really, maybe we should all be living like this, everyday.

Regardless, I pray when my alarm goes off in just mere hours-I will be waking up to a day filled with hope.

Please pray for us tonight and throughout the day tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Although, logically, we all know the world does not revolve around us, sometimes, it’s hard to grasp the concept that the world does not stop when personal crisis hits. Outside of the news about Joseph’s health, we actually had a bad week last week. To ask why, in my opinion, would be too much. However, I did find the question, “Seriously?” Come out of my mouth, in varying inflections, often throughout the week.

In efforts to take life for what it is, a gift, while trying to not take things so……Seriously……I would like to share the others events of this past week.

1. On our way to what we thought was just going to be a yearly check in, we dropped our kids off at Pete and Krissy’s (check her out at A Fruitful Vine) An hour or two turned into an almost 12 hour day for my best friend and 5 kids under age 4. This includes 2 babies 6 months and younger! The woman is great with kids and a wonderful mother, SERIOUSLY! As best friends do, they let us sit in their home, in shock, as they begged to take as much of our burden as possible- and fed our family. We are so blessed by them.

2. Understandably so, I was very upset about the news of my husband's health and upcoming surgery. I did not think I would be able to face the days leading up to his operation. The though of taking care of the girls, working, going to appointments with Joseph, and preparing our life for his heart surgery seemed too much to take. Enter my mom! She came down to take care of the girls and clean my house (which REALLY needed it) so I could focus on other things! Good mom, SERIOUSLY!

3. It’s hot. It is really, really, hot. Being practically allergic to the sun and the outside world in general, I am a BIG fan of air conditioning and set mine to “cranked up” the moment the thermometer hits 75.

As my life would have it, the air conditioner in our van is broken. Seeing as we have put about $500 unexpected dollars into the van in the past 2 months, we opted for the “suck it up and deal” approach.

Despite the hot weather, my mom and I packed the kids into the van and set out to run a few errands. Upon parking at our first destination, we realized the power windows were not working. Our windows were both stuck down. I moaned, hit the steering wheel, cursed our van and said, “SER---IOUS---LY?!!”

4. We don’t have a garage, so my husband and I spent some nice quality time trying to tape our windows up with garbage bags and electrical tape. Within a few hours, we were under a tornado warning. SERIOUSLY, this is the way things go for the Rutchiks!

5. I went out to get my hair cut off. As I got in the van, I thought I would try, one last time, to get the darn windows to go up. I pressed the button and…….up they went! I have no idea how or why windows that were broken for a few days are now not broken, but I don’t have time to care! I was, however, too scared to roll them down out of fear they would become stuck again. As I drove, I vowed to withstand the heat and not touch the windows. As I grew tired and weary from the heat, I got lost. While sitting in traffic baking in the sun in my van with no air via any source, I called my husband to help me find my way home. While I was trying to explain to him where I was, we were interrupted by police and fire trucks. Before I could explain this to him, my mother beeped in on the other line to inform me the fire alarms were going off and the police and fire departments were showing up outside our building. Again, I ask, SERIOUSLY?

6. Windows still working and no fires in sight, we decided to take a dip in the pool. It was one of those perfect summer late afternoons. My friend Lora called to inform us that A&W was giving away FREE root beer floats! SERIOUSLY AWESOME! We decided to have “backwards dinner” and eat dessert first, while the chicken was cooking.

Daddy giving Tessa a taste of her first Root Beer Float. I think it DOES taste better when it's free!

7. While the chicken was cooking, the sky opened up and just dumped rain, rain, rain. We noticed our patio was collecting inches by the minute and upon investigation, found the gutter system on top of our building had snapped, RIGHT. ABOVE. OUR. DOOR. Of course. We spent so much time gathering buckets and positioning our friend’s wagon to catch the water, and then emptying the water into the storm drain, we forgot about the chicken. A smoke filled home and potential home flood. Perfect, exactly what the Rutchik’s needed!

My mom said this was the most excitement she has had in one day since we were little. She was so pooped out after a few days here!

8. Our girls know something is wrong, and are acting accordingly. Being a highly intuitive person myself, I can see them developing their intuitiveness and it makes me proud. I feel blessed by the gift and was hoping to find it in the souls of our children. Unfortunately, in this situation, it means having our little Tessa, the anti-cuddler, wanting to be help all....the...time. This is not possible when Anna is, bu nature, the most needy baby I have ever met. She herself is showing signs of distress and has decided not to sleep, ever. She has backtracked on any progress she had made in this department and is back to screaming around the clock. It is exhausting and as I anticipate our need to have others taking care of our children for us soon, I struggle this most with this one and with anger in my heart, ask God, SERIOUSLY?!!

So, that was our week! It was full of highs and lows. It was a good reminded that you can’t stop life. Things happen and you can either roll with them or not. Our prayer is that our struggles feed our souls and lead us closer to God’s Kingdom. We are praying on these lessons. We think we may be on to what we think we can take out of this roadblock. As we haven’t had the best luck with sharing our hearts recently, we’ve decided to hold this in prayer through our ordeal. No matter God’s intentions, we are holding our heads high, hand in hand, chins high and ready to take on this surgery.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A "Fare Thee Well" to Hair.

This week continues to be one for the books. I told a friend I've been experiencing great peaks and valleys, and I truly have. Joseph has been sharing with me how he is struggling to find balance in all of this. How do we continue on with our lives knowing there is a huge hurdle to jump before we can do so? On the other hand, we can’t sit and cry and throw a pit party for days on end until he is rolled into the OR. We’ve got kids to raise over here. If anything will force one into the here and now, it is a blow out diaper or a screaming baby!

We have felt the warm comfort of resting in the embrace of the Lord turn into the pounding of the “why me’s” within the same breath. The last few days we've had have not helped us in kicking this emotional yo-yo tricks showcase. But, that is for another post I am currently working on……stay tuned for more on that!

I wanted to hop on in these wee hours when everyone else is sleeping to share with you this: I got my hair chopped off! Some may think I am flying off the deep end and turning to drastic messages and to them, I say, “umm, duh!”

The reality of the situation is that I have been through this once before. God willing, I will be spending many, many a days in a hospital room. These long days of doing nothing but sitting and praying are not too conducive to the luxury of showering. Thus, maintaining my most prized physical feature, my long, thick, hair is no longer an option for this mama!

So, I decided to just chop it off and move on with more important things in life. The idea came to me when I started receiving the outpouring of love and support that has lifted me up this week. It made me uncomfortable and so very vulnerable to know so many people are talking about and praying for us. I started thinking about what I could do to offer that support to someone else. Besides prayers (which are the best form of support) I don’t have anything to give right now. My cup is empty. The one think I do have is hair! I’ve got a lot, and lot, of hair. The idea to donate it brought such joy to my bleeding heart, I knew it was brilliant.

Unfortunately, I was informed I did not have enough hair to donate as I had a short layer. But, I still needed to shed the do in order to create more time to focus on taking care of the other members of my family. So here it is! The girl who has been described like this:

“you know, that girl with the really long, really black hair”

since she was in kindergarten, gets her hair cut off.

Enjoy, and please, keep praying for my family and know I am never too busy or upset to pray for yours! Please, please let me know if I can log some prayer hours with YOU on MY heart!!

A "Fare Thee Well" to Hair!

1. Be forced to look into a mirror and be reminded of how long this hair really is while the hair is combed out.

2. Give my hubby the scared, "I think I'm really doing this" look. As if he can save me from myself!

3. Hold breath while the first cut is taken.

4. Look at part of myself on the ground.
5. Enjoy how fitting this sight is to the emotional state of the person from which this mess derived.

6. Smile at my husband, remind myself it is just hair, and move on to more important things in life....a few pounds lighter!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

....And God Hit Pause........

……And God Hit Pause……

Uggg. That is about all I can say. For a few days, I have thought about how I was going to write this blog, IF I was going to write this blog.

Last week, I announced right here on Falling Upward that Joseph is going back to school and we will be moving come the fall. And then, he had his yearly Marfan’s appointment. The best laid plans…..

The best laid plans seem to bite the Rutchik family right in the ***, if you really want to know how I feel.

The long and the short of it is that his heart is leaking, a lot. This leak has caused it to enlarge by quite a bit. If that wasn’t bad enough, we aren’t just feeling like our world is falling in on us, we are feeling like it’s our fault. Three years ago, followed by an emergency wedding, he had an aortic root replacement. Upon the recommendations of well, everyone, we went with the valve saving option. And, here we are, three years later, having what was done before undone, to get to the valve, replacing the valve, and re-doing what was done three years ago. We don’t blame anyone, only 5% of people end of having to have the valve replaced in the first 5 years. We should have known. If ever there were going to be people in that 5%, if would be us.

So, here we are, going to consults and completing tests so we can set this nightmare up. It should happen very soon, at the recommendation of our doctor.

There it is. This is now the only priority in my life. My husband is very worried about money (we don’t have disability as an option at his job) and having to parent while not being able to hold the girls. As the wife, I’m more worried about, well, I won’t even write it, but you must know what I’m worried about. I could care less about all of those other things. We’ll figure that all out after we get through the operation. I’ll live in a cardboard box if I can do it at the side of my husband. I love him more than anything else I could ever want in life.

I didn’t know if I wanted to blog about this, or if I wanted to go MIA from the blogging world as I have done with Facebook. However, God willing, I will sitting in hospitals for many, many weeks to come, and will need something to keep me sane. Plus, this family needs prayers, prayers, prayers, and I know the Catholic mommy community here in the blogging world can offer me that. I thought about making one of those cool buttons like I have seem other families do when they are in need of prayer for health reasons, but I don’t know how to do that and I don’t really have many followers. I’m not a blogging expert, by any means. I surly don't have the energy to take a crash course in the art of the blog. I don't have the energy to eat, or smile right now.

So, I will blog on, I guess! I’m experiencing very dramatic peaks and valleys right now, so I can’t promise a well balanced person, but it will be me. This is my life now.

I’ve had some extraordinary experiences just since this happened on Wednesday. I am in the process of putting words to those experiences and sharing them here. They involve the great support of family and friends, faith struggles and feeling as if we are known as the “Poor Rutchiks” instead of just “The Rutchiks.” We seriously seem to have that cartoon cloud overhead. We discussed how humbling and difficult it is to know there are so many people praying and thinking of us. Although it makes us very uncomfortable, we unfortunately are in great need of it, again..........and thus, I end with a prayer request.

We are:

Joseph and Holly
Teresa ( 18 months) Anna (6 months)

Please join me on what I hope will be a journey full of faith and miracles. Pray for Joseph’s health, pray for our baby gals who love their daddy so much, pray for our faith..............

..............pray that God has only hit “pause.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Back to School...We're Moving!!!

Back to School

Well, after weeks of praying, phone calls, mountains of paper work, and several money discussions, we have decided that Joseph will be finishing his graduate degree in English at UW-O!

We are so excited for the opportunity for Joseph to finish this program (he is about half way there) and get him onto a career path he feels good about spiritually, financially and creatively. After years of living paycheck to paycheck, we are willing to make that extra commitment to rough it for one more year with the promise of a more financially sound future for our family. As an extra special bonus, this move will allow Joseph to pursue some of his creative dreams, as he has discerned are not just dreams, but a calling.

I personally am very excited about all of this for many reasons:

1. God willing (we REALLY need to unload our lease) we will be moving back to Oshkosh. Joseph and I feel in love and got married in Oshkosh, so I feel the Sprit is truly alive there! It would be my dream to set up camp and stay put. Visions of home ownership and sending our kids to Catholic schools in Oshkosh dance in my head as I drift off every night---but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself!

2. I have never made it a secret that I really don’t like Milwaukee and do not want to raise our children here. Now, I really don’t have anything against Milwaukee, and I have made some wonderful friends here, I just don’t feel like it is our “home.” I have always lived my life on feeling and intuition, so this nagging feeling that Milwaukee is not where we are going to be has been eating and eating at me. I did enjoy my time here and the company we kept here. I have every intension of not only keeping these relationships, but nourishing them. I’m even hoping to continue coming down to our mom’s/play group once a month.

3. The man I feel in love with 4 years ago while in gradate school at Oshkosh was full of ideas and dreams. He thrived on brainstorming sessions and possibility. As life has handed us some challenging times, I saw this part of him slowly whither away. I’m so happy God has helped him see that this part of him does not have to change just because he is a husband and father. Seeing the glimmer back in his eye has been heaven to witness!

As for work, I will continue on with my jobs (working from home is amazing in this type of situation) and Joseph will be staying on as a consultant with the AOP, something he can do at home. He will also have an assistantship at the University.

Please pray for our family during this stressful and exciting time! We are trying to orchestrate the perfect storm here, as many things need to fall into place for this to happen. Because we do budget out almost everything that comes in, there is little room for “moving extras.” However, enough things have come together that I thought it was time to share this prayer with our friends and the blogging world.

Before we can make the big move:
Joseph has to “pass” his heart appointments next week.
We must find someone to take over our lease.
We have to find somewhere to live and secure the money to do so.

Please keep us in your prayers!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hunkering Down in the Discernment Zone

Hunkering Down in the Discernment Zone

Although things have been quite here at Falling Upward, things in our home have been anything but. In times like these, I tend to allow stress and uncertainty into the drivers seat of my mind. However, I am learning to “let go and let God” as the saying of the faithful goes.

We are discerning some big changes for our lives and I am hoping to announce them soon, very soon. We tend to get overzealous at times, so we have come to the conclusion that we need to hold some things in prayer for a short while, until we are confident we have examined God’s will for our family. It’s an exciting time filled with hope, dreaming and the promise of a bit clearer of a path for the Rutchik family. The prospect of this is a big one as in our two, almost three, years of marriage, “settling down” has not been something we have learned to master!

In all the commotion and preparations for a life change, a few of my favorite things have fallen, temporarily, to the weigh side. Taking the time to blog my thoughts and prayers has been truly missed and I am sad it has been forced to take a back seat, just for a while. I’m hoping life will be on track and ready to go in about a week. Until then, here are some pictures of this past week.

My MIL and SIL took us to Chuck E Cheese this weekend. It was a great break, and fun for Tessa too!

These are some shots we took to celebrate the fact that we have made it 6 months as parents of "Irsih Twins." Tessa 18 months, Anna 6 months.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Address of Sanity

So, I had a panic attack this week. I never really knew what panic attack was until I was weeks away from delivering my first child.

Due to some wacky blood pressure readings, I had to go into my doctor’s office twice a week and have the baby monitored. It always put me into a foul mood. I hated being hooked up to those sensors and, in my opinion, they don’t even work. The baby’s heartbeat was constantly being lost and then some crabby nurse would come in and force me to lay in an extremely uncomfortable and impossible position, instructing my 9 month pregnant self, “not to move.” Seriously, it was torture. Of course, in the end, it was worth every agonizing minute, but still.

One day, while eating my ice and watching the monitor spit out the papers of my baby’s heartbeat, I was thinking about starting a baby scrapbook. I would start with my first ultrasound, maybe some pictures of myself growing over the summer months, and BAMMM! I started feeling like someone had shut me into a box. I couldn’t breathe, my head felt full of pressure and I thought I was going to pass out. I thought, for sure, that something had happened and I was going to die. It was then my mommy instinct kicked in. If I was going to die, the last thing I better do is get some help so they can save the baby. Joseph can handle being a single dad….

Because I was in a back room, I decided I better yell for help. I tried to shout, and could not find the breath, or the voice to do so. I yelled and yelled, like one does under water or in a bad dream, and was amazed there was no sounds escaping me. Finally, I got out a meek, “help, I think I need help” and was able to pound on the door to get the attention of a medical tech who was passing. Just as she entered the room, I collapsed into her. She called for doctors and suddenly there were people all around me.

The remainder of that day is a blur of embarrassment. At the time, we only had one car. I had to call my husband at work and have him ask his boss to drive him to the hospital as I was not allowed to drive until it was determined what had happened to me. My OBGYN was called in, the baby was checked, and I was sent to a neurologist for a consultation and a CAT scan. In the end, the neurologist diagnosed me as having had a severe panic attack. I tried to telling the doctors this could not be it – I was thinking about scrap booking for crying out loud! Who has a panic attack over that? They told me it really sounded like a severe panic attack and that maybe some part of me was really getting nervous for the birth and becoming a parent and the whole lot. I still question, but haven’t really needed to think about it too much (well, except when I write the check every month for the treatment I’m still paying off) until I was reminded of this incident this past weekend.

Sunday after Mass, I received a work e-mail informing me some pictures I was counting on could not be found. It really was no big deal to me, I half expected it and had already created a plan B for going out and taking the pictures myself. I charged up my camera, put the gals down for a nap and headed out to a semi-local suburb to take some pictures of the community.
The drive was rather enjoyable. The location is about 40 minutes (that is how you measure distance in Wisconsin, in minutes or hours) away and I was enjoying the alone time and singing along with a CD I had brought. I do remember I was sitting in an odd position as I was trying to hide my rather pale and pasty self from the hot sun.

After the first hour of scouting out the town, I decided I better get going and actually take these photos and get on with it. I parked my mini-van between two BMWs and set out on foot through the town square shopping center. I got most of the shoots I needed of the building and general “American-ness” of the people milling about on the weekend. However, I started to feel strange. I was clearly an observer in this summer-scene snow globe. People were shopping, kids were running, parents were loading their expensive trucks with groceries and so on. I was there with a camera to capture it, not experience it. It is amazing how different things look through the lens of a camera.

I started to feel some of those same feelings I had on the day of, “the- day –I- will- refer to- as- the- incident- even- though- the- doctors- insist- it- was- a- panic- attack- I- am- not- buying- it.” It was, by no means, anywhere near the same experience I had in that doctor’s office a year and a half ago – but I could recognize some similarities. I didn’t know what was happening then, but this time I knew exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking, this is NOT me. This is not what I want for my life and for the lives of my children. We are not fancy pants suburb type people. We are those annoying people who really do sit around talking about books and foreign films while wearing black and looking into alternative education for our children. The quant little town center I had thought was cute a minute ago suddenly became a prison cell and I wanted out as fast as I could! The sky seemed clearer and bluer here, all the cars looked the same, all the people looked the same!

Now, I have nothing against suburbs. I like most of the benefits they offer to families. Good schools and Churches, safety and a sense of community are all wonderful things I want for our family. However, I think I may need to find these things in a smaller or more artistic town, rather than a super fancy pants suburban community. Just a personal preference, but one I feel strongly about - apparently, more strongly than I knew!

Since we moved to Milwaukee two years ago, I have been complaining to my husband, “I hate it here and I will not raise our kids here.” My thinking was that it is the most expensive city in Wisconsin to have a family and the only way to stay in a safe, family friendly area and send our kids to good schools, would be to move to the suburbs and we could never afford that, so what in God’s name are we living here for? His answer always has something to do with the fact that, “this horrible place” is where his job is. He is also from this part of the state and although it would not be his first choice in a location, he doesn’t mind it nearly as much as I do.

Now, I do technically live in a suburb, but we don’t own our place of residents, so in my mind it doesn’t count. I feel like I went out to the land of Stepford and it literally spit me back out! That’s ok, I didn’t want to be swallowed up by it anyway.