Lilypie Countdown to Adoption tickers

Lilypie Countdown to Adoption tickers

Friday, December 18, 2009

What's in a Name?

So the big name questions. We have been toying between some name combinations and to be quite honest I think Sam is tired of talking about it, so thought I would just blog about it instead.

Here are some of the front runners –

Silas and Aaliyah
Silas and Haley
Silas and Lilah
Eli and Sophie
Eli and Chloe

This week I met with a fabulous mom to be who is using the same agencies we are! She lives right here in Mpls. as well. It will be great to start a network of families adopting from the same country and even orphanage.  It would be even better if we were able to travel together, however they are a little ahead of us in the process as they are officially waiting.

On Wed. Sam and I have a meeting to go over our Dossier, which is the last step in the paperwork process. We hope to be on the waiting list by Jan.!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A few holiday pics!

The 'angel'

Putting on the star - Sam was so excited can't you tell!
Why does he look so tall in this picture. I mean he is 6'3, but he looks like his head is going to hit the ceiling!

Our Thanksgiving table with my Grandma's china!

Stella Lou on Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!

Time to break out the winter boots as we can be getting up to 6 inches of snow by Wed! Sam and I have been busy these last few weeks between hosting turkey dinner, trimming the tree, and Yuletide festivities!

The day before Thanksgiving we got new carpet in our upstairs bedroom and the ‘baby’s room.’ On Thanksgiving we hosted dinner with Sam’s extended family and then my parent’s also joined us. The morning of Thanksgiving we did the Turkey Trot 5k! We finished in 36 minutes, which is no record by any means, but for my first 5k and having open heart surgery 7 months ago, I was proud of the accomplishment! Thanksgiving was a success with the exception of Sam burning the oil therefore we weren’t able to deep fry the turkey (sorry sam), but nothing that good company and chardonnay couldn’t fix! Sam and my dad also put new trim boards upstairs and downstairs the day after. It looks great!

We had our biometrics apt. on Monday the 1st, which was our immigration fingerprinting apt. Pretty painless and quick. The rest of the day we got our Christmas tree and decorated it. I am not one to believe in things like ghosts, orbs, spirits, etc. (contrary to my sis), but the strangest thing happened. Before we had the tree decorated I decided to take a picture of it for some odd reason (you would think I would do this after it was decorated), anyway in the picture exactly where the star or angel would go there was an orb perfectly placed on the tree, just like an angel. Crazy weird, huh? I will try to post the picture.

We have mailed in our official contract to our placement agency and our homestudy is approved. Our next step is to do 8 more hours of educational classes and then prepare our Dossier. We were hoping to be on a list by Dec. but it is looking more like Jan. If you also haven’t heard the news – here is a hint:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Capella Gala

Christina and I attended the annual Capella Gala celebration at the Walker Art Center. Christina was awarded a Red Carpet Award for her leadership on revamping the enrollment application process. The Walker Art Center also shows the best of the British TV commercials during December in peridic showings. We attend it with my mom every year and it never disappoints.

Christina and I are having some of her college friends over for a pork rib meal tonight. We boil them in four liters of Coca Cola and they never disappoint.


Friday, November 13, 2009


Have you ever wondered what biometrics is? Well it is the measurement and analysis of unique physical or behavioral characteristics (as fingerprint or voice patterns) especially as a means of verifying personal identity. This is a part of the adoption process, specifically a step in getting your I-600A approval. Yesterday Sam and I received our biometric appointment via mail. It is scheduled for Nov. 30th to go to St. Paul and we will get our fingerprints taken. This is a different type of fingerprinting than the ones that we did for the Adam Walsh Background Check as it is much more of a thorough and investigative check on your background.

If you are wondering again what is the I-600 for, it is a set of forms used to officially request permission from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to classify a child in a foreign country, who fits the definition of an "orphan," as an immediate relative of its intended adoptive parents, so that there can be an expedited processing and issuance of a visa to that child, allowing it to be brought into the United States, either after having been adopted abroad, or in order for it to be adopted in the United States.

If you are wondering how the heck do I know about all of this?  There are two things, 1) we are learning as we go and, 2) Lets be honest people, cut and paste is a beautiful feature!

Dove should have received all of our letters of reference this week. They needed 5 letters of reference from non-relatives. Thanks to Kathie Stiles, Elisha Engelen, Angela King, Dave Aune and David Gunderson for taking the time to write a letter of reference for us!  Our next step is to have a phone interview with Dove. From there they will help us compile our Dossier, which is one of the lasts steps in the process!  We are still hoping to be on a waiting list by Dec.!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween's Creepy Crawlers...More like Cute Crawlers

Sam and I decided we are officially old. We opted to not go out for Halloween this year, but rather be entertained by the trick or treaters! We had so many that we even ran out of candy! I wanted to share a few of the cuter costumes:-)

Reese King as a butterfly...

Big sister Avery as a butterfly too!

Yum yum pumpkin pie...Stella!

Miss Bella proud as a pumpkin!
Roy Boy bustin' at the seems!

A quick adoption update for you...Sam and I have a meeting on Thursday afternoon with our adoption counselor to review our homestudy for the first time. We should be on pace to be on a waiting list by December!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

16 Pages, no problem

We finalized our 16 page adoption letter for Crossroads Adoption Agency last night. Christina has been diligent in her focus on completing this key step. I look forward to watching Monday Night Football next week now that the paper is done.

Christina and I are celebrating tonight and drinking Shell's Octoberfest beer. It is made in New Ulm, MN. They also make a quality Shell's Dark.

Our touch football team finished 3rd at the state tournament held in Bloomington last weekend. We look forward to a 2nd title next year.

We had dinner with Dave, Leah and Jayden Aune last week. Jayden was an active two year old. He justified the time we've spent on the adoption paperwork by entertaining us. His desire for attention is only matched by his father's need for attention.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Criminal or no criminal...I think no

Today was a pretty monumental day in our adoption process because we sent off our I600A to the USCIS (Unites States Citizenship and Immigration Services) for approval. This document establishes a file with The Department of Homeland Security for approval of a child we adopt to be classified as an immediate relative thus eligible for a priority visa. Once initially reviewed they will send us information on how to get fingerprinted (for the second time). Yes, that is right, we have to go get fingerprinted twice for adoption just to make extra sure we are not criminals I guess.

I was thinking the other day, I wonder if my dad had to go through this process, what kind of dirt the USCIS would dig up on him? Hmmmm....just kidding dad!
We also mailed in our initial application to Dove in Oregon. Dove is our placement agency that will be working with us to adopt in Ethiopia being Crossroads does not have a 'presence' in Ethiopia. Ethiopia actually is not allowing any further agencies to bring in care centers. Dove works with the SOS EE Orphanage, which is actually a European run center. They have a very great presence in Ethiopia. They have over 20 intake orphanages through the country where children are cared for until there is room to move Addis Ababa orphanages, Toukoul I II and III, which is the care center we would go to adopt. I will post some videos of Toukoul in the next few days.

Some of you may or may not have seen the front page of the Star Tribune on Sunday. It was a documentary of sorts related to international adoption. It did not portray International Adoption in a positive light, it referenced both children and families hoping to adopt being exploited and taken advantage of. Sam and have discussed this sadness of the article, but we are fully confident in our decisions and the agencies that we working with. It is terribly sad however to see the heartbreak that some families have gone through.
Enough about adoption....Sam is playing in the State Football Tournament this year again. Hopefully the will be the reigning champions for the second year! Go Sammy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Meet Stella Louise Skinner

Fritz and Melissa's little girl arrived on Tuesday afternoon. She was 6 lbs. 11 oz, 19.5 in. long and cute as a button! Sam and I visited last night and Sam got his first glimpse at baby poop! Notice the music on the playlist is 'Stella Blue' in honour of the cutie Stella Lou!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A few of my favorite things...

I love the fall, the river and my hubby.

Courts Re-opening in Ethiopia

On August 28, 2009, the courts in Ethiopia closed for recess. They were initially scheduled to re-open on September 28, 2009. However, after a two-week delay, the courts are finally set to re-open on October 12, 2009.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Priming, Painting, Carpet & Baby Furniture Emails

Christina is in full gear. She is driving some home improvements and in full "nesting" mode. She is quite the handywoman when motivated. And she is the definition of motivated to create a space for our new addition. We (she) is priming our upstairs for our painting project tonight and on Saturday. We have our adoption meeting in Hudson, WI on Sat 9-12.

She is even sending me space age designed combination cribs/beds/dressers. It appears "transformers" are still popular kids toys; however this transformer is much more expensive than my Megatron.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mom's 60th Party

Just a quick note to post some of the pics that Brent had sent me from Mom's 60th Birthday two weekends ago. 

Sam and I also worked on some additional paperwork this weekend for the adoption. We have a class this Saturday and once that is complete the agency should have everything they need to start writing our homestudy! Yeaaahhh!

I spent this time this weekend re-desinging our blog. I hope you like it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1st Meeting!

Today was a pretty big day for us, we had our first meeting with our adoption counselor in our home. We, or I, was a little nervouse for the meeting. Sam didn't think it was a huge deal until about Monday night when he said to me, so is this like our homestudy meeting?  I said, 'yes, that would be it.'  Overall, Sam and I really think it went great.

This last weekend we really cracked the whip on getting our paperwork completed. We have a big portion done (or so we think).  In all seriousness I think we have a good chunk out of the way. Our next step is to write a 10 -12 page paper describing ourselves, our family, values, beliefs, etc. We hope to crank that out this weekend. Once that is done we really just wait for the agency to write and approve our homestudy. Our adoption counselor said they like to have that written with two weeks of having all the paperwork.

We also have an adoption class on Oct. 3rd that we need to attend before our homestudy can be completed. Once the homestudy is approved we start the international paperwork which entails an I-600 and Dossier that will be sent to our country of interest for approval. If you can tell by the looks of the blog, we are hoping to adopt from ethiopia!

We hope to have everything finalized, approved and on a waiting list by December!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We selected an agency!

It has been a while since I last wrote, but things have been somewhat uneventful until now. Sam and I have selected our adoption agency! We have decided to go with Crossroads adoption which is a local agency in Edina. We have submitted our 24 page application, which we are told is only 1% of the total paperwork! We are currently deciding between Ethiopia adoption and Domestic. If we choose Ethiopia, we would have to go through a seperate placement agency. We expect the total process to take between 10 and 18 months. We had our first edcuational meeting this evening. Our next step is completing more paperwork and then getting an apt. set up with our adoption counselor! It feels good to have the ball rolling! Sam and I like to put this phase of adoption in pregnancy terms by saying 'we are starting to try to get pregnant.' In three months we hope to have our homestudy completed which will be 'we are pregnant'!

~Christina and Sam

Monday, June 1, 2009

Another Weekend Come and Gone

I guess it has been a few weekends since my last post! Memorial day weekend was a fun yet a busy holiday weekend. Laura flew in from Denver late Sat. night. On Sunday we headed back to her old stomping grounds in uptown for some fun! Monday we spent with mostly family and I made some of Uncle Dennis's Famous Ribs! I say 'I' because Sam was licking his wounds from the night before from a little too much fun at the Stiles's BBQ on Sunday. Needless to say by Tuesday I was beat!

My mom was up again last week and left early on Friday morning. Bev Scully was able to drive me to rehab on Friday. I met her when I got my flu shot at work last fall. She noticed that I had a scar from heart surgery and asked a few questions. After a few minutes of conversation we discovered that she had the same surgery that I would need to have done. She was kind enough to give me her contact information so Sam and I could meet with her if we chose to to discuss her experience. At that time I had not found a surgeon that 'fit' what we wanted. She recommended her surgeon, Kshettry! Needless to say we are very pleased with Kshettry ourselves and the result. Since my surgery Bev and I have kept in touch and she has volunteered to drive me to rehab! It is far and few between that you meet people as kind as Bev.

This past weekend was a nice weekend around the house. Sam was able to get a lot of yard work done and we took a trip to menards on sat. Sunday was a bit more relaxing. Ammy Norgren came over for a visit during the day. In the evening the Pace family came over and made us dinner. Thanks Tara and Tony the Grill Master for a great dinner!

I had rehab this morning and Ammy N. was able to take me because my mom won't be here until tomorrow. I have met a woman at rehab who just had surgery and as soon as she recovers from this surgery she will be on the transplant list for a new heart! Until then she has to live with battery packs attached to her that help pump her left ventricle. There is always someone who is worse off than yourself, it surely made my situation not so bad! She is so excited to get her new heart! Her mom told me today that she was glad to see me at rehab because I help motivate her daughter:-) I guess that is what we call paying it forward! Thanks to all who have been there to support me in my recovery! I know I would not be able to do it alone!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Three Weeks and Counting

It has been just over three weeks now since my surgery. Some days it is hard for me to tell how I am progressing from day to day, but than I think back to a week ago and that gives me some perspective. I can now go up and down stairs easily and get out of bed independently.

I started rehab on Tuesday, but yesterday was my first full session of exercises. I was able to ride the bike for 20 min and the treadmill for 15 min. I even did some exercises with 3 lb. weights! It felt really good to be moving like that! My short term goal is to be able to walk lake nokomis in an hour and my long term goal is run a 5k this fall. I have always been restricted to not run more than a mile so I am excited to be able to have the opportunity to be able to do this. Sam and I plan to run it together.

This week was a busy week between 3 rehab apts. and 2 Dr. visits! Elisha, Tara and Laura (UW-EC friends) came over on monday to 'babysit' me. It was nice to be with my girls and have some laughs! Mom and I also took a trip to Rochester on Wed. night and I had dinner with my dad, Brent, Kim and Livi. On Thurs. we went down to see my grandparents and took a visit to my uncle Daryl's grave site for a pre-memorial day. Grandma sure liked seeing the new gravestones and where people will be buried (most be an old people thing). We headed back to the cities on Thurs. evening so it was a lot of driving for my mom in a short period of time.

Also wanted to give a quick thanks for your visits, meals, help around the house etc. these past few weeks to the Schultz family, Ammy N., Tara. S, Brent and Livi, Elisha, Laura and Tara P! Thanks and love you all!

Laura, my sis, is coming in this evening. It should make for an exciting and fun weekend!

Have a fun and safe holiday weekend!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The First SNEEZE

These are the things that they don't warn you about in the hospital! I just sneezed and it felt like I was ripping every muscle in my chest! Uhhhggg, it was terrible. I hope to not have many more!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Home Sweet Home

It has been so nice to be home! Each day seems to be a better day and I feel like I am regaining my energy slowly but surely. I had a dr. apt. on Friday to get my INR checked and it was in a good range. INR is the measure of your blood thickness when you are a anti-coagulant. Therefore I don't have to give myself blood-thinning booster (lovenox) shots in my belly any longer!

Since I have been home we have had a few visitors each day. Ammy N rode her bike over on Wed. Ktj stopped to visit on Thurs. morning. Ammy came over and brought us pizza on Thurs. The Graners stopped in on thurs. evening. Ang and Avery came over for lunch on Friday. Tara Swedberg was just here and brought us lasagna! All the visits are appreciated!

My mom came up on Wed. to help take care of me so Sam can go back to work. He went back to work on Friday. My dad came up on Friday and we had a nice family dinner together. Today has been pretty relaxing. I went for a few walks (a walk to me is to the end of the block) and my mom and I are going to venture to Sams Club later. Sam, dad and Nick Stiles are going golfing later this afternoon if the weather holds out.

I hope to update the blog soon with some pictures from the hospital.

Hope all has a good weekend.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Christina Should Leave the Hospital by noon

From Sam - Christina is finalizing her departure and should leave the hospital within an hour or two. Dr. Fine just met w/ us and gave us some last instructions. We are setting up our follow up appointments. Christina looks great today. It is truly amazing she had open heart surgery six days ago. She's off to the hospital's version of a stair climber. I could use one myself after a steady diet of coffee, McDonalds and a splash of Chipotle.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My last day - I hope

Dr. Kshettry just popped in and confirmed I should be released tomorrow. We expect Dr. Fine to stop in this evening yet. I had them both sign my heart pillow that all cardiac patients get. Dr. Fine signed it with 'To the best patient I ever met'! But I think there may have been some encouragement from either Sam or I.

I got my wires pulled out my chest this morning. There are wires that are about the size of fish line that are inserted jut below your sternum and are connected to your heart. It was pretty painful to say the least, but now I am wire free! I only have one IV left that will be taken out tomorrow.

Someone from the alternative medicine dept. stopped by this morning. This dept. focuses on a holistic healing approach. Dr. Kshettry is a proponent of this practice and was instrumental in getting the program started. They did some breathing techniques with me and gave me a shoulder massage, which was wonderful.

Sam arrived here around 11, just in time to help me with my shower. Today was a little different than yesterday. Yesterday it was Sam and another male nurse who gave me a shower. I think Sam forgot to mention that in the blog yesterday. I was just happy to shower, but it may have been a little awkward for Sam...or the other nurse! Ha! I was just happy to be clean and not smelly!

I am looking forward to returning home tomorrow, but must say that the Abbott staff has been wonderful and we are grateful. I am excited to see my pups and sleep in my own bed, assuming I can make it up the stairs. Our neighbors, Sybil and Vince are bring us over dinner tomorrow night! I can't wait to have some home cooked food!

My mom is also returning tomorrow to help with my recovery and Sam is going back to work on Friday.

Take care,

Monday, May 4, 2009


Dr. Kshettry (surgeon) and Dr. Fine (cardiologist) just stopped by and visited with us. Dr. Fine estimated Christina will go home on Wed. Her heart beat is around 109 or so and they want it under 100. Her rhythm is improving. By the way "rhythm" is a really good "hangman" word. They will put her on some medication (beta blockers) to lower the heart rate. Typically, patients heart beats are too low. I'm guessing that is more typical in older patients.

Christina had a 1/2 shower today and she is looking great. She's had these visitors today: AmyJoe, Angela King, Tara Swedberg, Ammy Norgran (again) and her folks.

I met CD White (Chad Daniels) and Fritz for a Juicy Lucy at Matt's. It was great to be back into the world and out of the hospital. Chad has an interview on WGN (out of Chicago) from the Bob and Tom show that is on tonight. We don't get the channel, but you should check it out.

To good health - Sam

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Gossip Girl, McDonalds and Visitors

Kathie AND Nick Stiles gave Christina a DVD set of the show, Gossip Girls. Therefore, I'm updating the blog. I don't want to get hooked into a girly TV show like Nick Stiles did. Hi Nick.

I'm on my third meal from the golden arches located within the Heart Hospital. Why is McDonalds the only restaurant located in the Heart Hospital? Weird.

Christina went on her fourth walk of the day. She is getting a little anxious to leave, but we will follow the Dr's advice. We've been informed it may be Tuesday or Wednesday when she leaves.
she's accepting visitors and they help pass the time. Enjoy your evening- Sam

Sunday Funday

This is not my nomral sunday funday, that is for sure. Overall things are going pretty well. Last night Ammy Norgs stopped up for a visit. Along with Brent, Kim and Livi. They were going to celebrate their anniversary at a bed and breakfast. I guess it wasn't quite like my bed and breakfasat. It was nice to see some familiar faces yesterday.

Last night wasn't the greatest, but managable. The hospital taco dinner combined with stool softeners wasn't the best combo. Who serves taco hotdish in the hospital anyway? I was up about every two hours which seems to be about typicall due to pain or just being uncomfortable. I was awake for the day at about 4:30 this morning and Sam was up by about 7. It seems that when I get up in the morning my lungs go back to where they were the night before. They get congested over the night and filled with fluids. To release these fluids I have to cough into a pillow, which is painful, or blow in a machine which usually makes me cough anyway.

I had an xray at about 7 this am which everything looked good. The surgeon stopped in as well and is impressed by my progress. There only concern at this point is the my heart rate is higher than what they would like to see. They said this is liklely becuase I have a low homogloben level as a result of losing blood during surgery. They said they antcipated this because it was my third surgery. With multiple surgeries you have more bleeding and scar tissue. They said Dr. Fine may request to have me medicated to regulate this or to just monitor it and have it correct on its own if it doesn't lower in the next day or so.

The dogs had a doggie party yesterday at the Stiles household so they were able to get out and about and I guess were pretty tired out last night. My parents left the hospital around 7 and Sam stayed the night with me. He doesn't fit real well on this hospital lounge chairs but he is a trooper about it and doesn't complain.

Enjoy your sunday!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

4 Walks, 3 movies, 2 tubes out, 1 great day

It's actually Sam writing this post. Christina Lynn has been making progress today. She had the two chest drainage tubes pulled out this afternoon. She has been on four short walks today. She's snoring like usual on my right hand side. Go Celtics. Take care of yourselves and each other - Sam

Day by Day

Today has been my best day so far. The first night was rough to say the least. There was not much sleep to be had, by myself or Sam, and there was quite a bit of pain. However, each hour I start to feel better and stronger. I had my tubes pulled today, which hurt at the time, but I feel much better without them in. I only have few wires/tubes etc. left! I have taken 3 walks today, which is good. My Dr. said he anticipates I will get out on Wednesday.

Sam has been absolutely wonderful and by my side through everthing! My parents have been a great help too. Thanks to them for my inner and outer strenght.

Also, thanks to everyone for the visits, gifts, and caring messages!

Have a good night!

She is ready for visitors

Christina is ready to accept visitors today and tomorrow. Please get your own directions online. Call Christina's cell phone for me with any ?'s at 651-253-9914 Room 5082.

"It's the walk of life"

Christina just went for her first walk. It was around twenty feet each way. Dr. Kshettry just stopped by and informed us the two drainage tubes in her chest should be taken away later today. She just fell asleep and had a much better night of rest and therefore recovery last night.

She has been eager to stand, move to a chair and walk. It appears not every patient has her ambition judging from the nurses reactions. She is going to be okay. She is ready for visitors tomorrow (Sunday), but we do have to keep her rest in mind. Please remember to use the hand sanitiser and"foam in and foam out." Or wash your hands before you enter the room (#5082).

You can grab a meter along the streets (north/south) for an hour or so. You can also enter the main parking ramp along 28th ave (one way). Thanks for the posts. Christina is always curious who has added a post.

To good health,


Friday, May 1, 2009

Thinking of you

Liz and I are thinking about how strong you are, Christina. We pray for a full recovery. It is great to hear that you have strength to stand. We are thinking of you too Sam as you are her rock in these tough times!

God Bless,

Steven and Elizabeth

No News is Good News

Tina is progressing well. We plan on a walk around midnight tonight (or just to stand up). She is slowly getting rid of some of the fluids she is retaining. She just took some more pain medication.

I'll stay the night again tonight. - Sam

Christina has left the ICU

Christina moved from her bed to her chair around 9 am today. She is feeling much better after a long pain filled night. Evidently, the anastecia was leaving her body and this lead to some pain. She was also getting over the "rush" of surgery.

She just ordered some perciset. She'll get her happy hour in one way or another. She's crafty.

She left the intensive care unit (icu) around 3 pm. She is now in room #5082. Her room # is 612-775-5282. She starts her coumadin (blood thinner) medication at 5 pm tonight. She will be reliant upon a blood thinner for the rest of her life. She can actually hear the mechanical valve, from St. Jude, in her heart. It sounds like an old wristwatch. Dr. Kshettry has stopped in to check on her. He stated the old valve was pretty damaged and had signifcant scar tissue. He informed us it was time. I'm proud of Christina for her bravery through this life event.

I'll update everyone once she is ready to start receiving visitors. Once again we are at Abbott Northwestern Heart Hospital in room #5082. - Sam

Blogging, drinking black coffee & watching infomorcials

Christina just had the blog read to her. She apprecaites the comments. She stood up for the first time tonight around 9 pm w/ Nurse Mary's encouragement and push. We feel fortunate to have her knowledge, experience and caring touch to ease this process. She feels like a family member and has even teased me about wearing socks with holes in them. Great choice, Sam. Although it was 4:15 am yesterday.

Christina has been sleeping on and off. I just got two hours (10:30 - 12:30). This blog feels like I'm giving "facebook" that people may not care about.

Tina had a popsicle and has been gabbing on the phone. Maybe she hasn't changed that much since her last surgery at 13.

We also plan to use this website for our adoption process. We are able to start the paperwork on our anniversary of 06/07/09. We are leaning towards adopting a child from Ethopia (possibly Columbia).

To good health - Sam

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Get Well soon!

Hi Guys, Happy to see things are going well and you have been in our thoughts and prayers. Good luck with this tough journey and we will talk to you soon! The Weinrich's

She is talking and just sat up in her bed

Christina has already started asking me to do things. Needless to say, things are back to normal. She has been awake and talking since around 3 pm. I've been in the room, so I haven't updated the blog. Tina is asking how everyone at the hospital did today and if I called everyone and updated the blog. She left her sister, Laura, a voicemail shortly after she woke up in teh ICU.

She just sat up on the edge of the bed. The nurse continues to describe her as "perfect" and Dr. Fine (cardiologist) was very impressed by her progress.

She is cracking jokes about how she "must smell like Kathie" and how she's a "tough Taylor." I didn't have the heart to remind her she changed her name to Skinner. She thanked her dad for "making her tough." She asked, "how much did my mom cry?" She's taking pictures w/ her family and demonstrating her sense of humor. She just ordered me to go eat, so I don't get crabby. She is about to take a much needed nap.

Nurse Mary stated she will leave the ICU tomorrow because she is progressing so well. She anticipates to be in the hospital for 5-7 days (total). I'll update everyone when she is ready for visitors. Please pass this link along to anyone who I missed. Thanks for the messages, texts, emails, vmails and support. - Sam

Christina is out of surgery - around noon

We just met w/ the amazing Dr. Kshettry and Christina has left surgery. She will be transfered to ICU and we'll see her in a 1/2 hour. She still has a long road to recovery, but we are over a major step. I can't wait to see and touch her. It will only be for a few minutes, but it should put my mind at ease. Please spead this blog to others - I'm unable to access everyone's email address I have in my work Outlook. - Sam

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Christina, Beth & John Taylor, Linda Skinner (mom) and I met attended an open heart education class. We also met with the Heart Hospitals caring staff and our surgeon, Dr. Vib Kshettry. We arrive at the hospital at 5:45 am tomorrow and surgery begins at 7:30 am. The surgery will last for approximately 5-6 hours. However, it will be done when it is done. After surgery, Christina will be in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for Thursday night and at least part of Friday. Christina is expected to be in the hospital for 5-6 days. I will update this site once she is ready to take visitors if you are curious.

We are both confident in our hospital and surgeon choice. We are in great hands with our cardiologist, Dr. David Fine. We have been meeting with David for the past four years every 6-12 months.

I won't update this blog tomorrow until late tomorrow afternoon. I'll work to keep everyone posted. Please pass this blog/link along to anyone who would benefit from it. We appreciate the prayers and assistance everyone has offered.

To good health,


Surgery 'Prep'

Today my parents and Sam's mom will be getting in to town to help us all out. You are never too old to still your need your parents, that is for sure.

At 2:00 today we have to go to Abbott for Open Heart Teaching Process class. We plan to have a nice dinner together, most likely at Al Vento, my favorite.

Sam surprised me yesterday at work with flowers and beautifully written card, that of course made me cry. Tears seem to be flowing like the mississippi these days.

Overall Sam and I feel very prepared, confident and positive. As we are anxious for tomorrow we are excited for it to be here and over with.

Thank you all who came out on Saturday night. We had a wonderful day/night. We can't say enough how important all of our friends are to us. The support that we feel and have received is absolutely amazing. I will be posting a few pics to the blog hopefully today yet.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Minnesota Gopher Football Player has aortic valve replacement

I wanted to share this link: I'll also publish it below:

Originally Published: April 8, 2009
Maresh's heart is clearly in the game
Comment Print Share
var stobj = SHARETHIS.addEntry({
published: "2009-04-09"

By Adam RittenbergESPN.comArchive
MINNEAPOLIS -- For Sam Maresh, life decisions and football decisions blend together. Everything always traces back to the game.
Maresh epitomizes the eat-sleep-breathe cliché. He's described by those who know him best as born to play football. And given what he's been through to play linebacker at Minnesota, it's hard to argue with them.
Faced with the daunting reality of open heart surgery in June 2008, Maresh made a choice with football very much in mind. When doctors discovered a benign mass in his leg in February, Maresh stiff-armed talk of surgery and readied himself for the start of Minnesota's spring drills.
[+] Enlarge
Eric Miller/University of Minnesota Finding a way to get back in uniform always was on Sam Maresh's mind.
"If football or sports was a hobby, you'd be looking at it differently," said Maresh's father, Bill. "But it's part of his life. It's part of who he is. He's a physical, fighter-type guy. There was never a decision that was hard. If there was a way that he could play, he was going to take that opportunity. And it's worked out."
On the afternoon of March 24, Maresh, wearing a white No. 17 practice jersey, jogged onto the field with his Gophers teammates for the start of spring ball. He did so with a scar on his chest, a growth in his leg and a look of resolve in his eyes.
Less than nine months after heart valve replacement surgery, Maresh was back, just as he had planned. "It wasn't a question at all," Maresh said. "I'm playing football. It's what I was born to do."
But this is about more than football. A lot more.
Maresh is attempting to make medical history this fall. Other athletes with his heart condition have returned to compete, including NBA players Ronny Turiaf and Etan Thomas. But no one has returned to play top-level college football.
"We've had a number of athletes that have had this kind of problem that have gone back to playing baseball and basketball," heart surgeon Dr. Hartzell Schaff said. "I don't remember anybody who's gone back to playing football like he's playing."
Gophers coach Tim Brewster branded Maresh the "flag bearer" for the university when the heralded recruit signed in 2008. But Maresh transcends that role.
He has become a symbol for the state, a courageous figure who has received support from Duluth to Mankato, International Falls to Rochester.
Indeed, football is only part of Maresh's story.
It's about a single-minded star, a medical marvel and a local hero. It's about a team of doctors and a support network of family, teammates, coaches and strangers.
It's also about trust. Maresh affirmed his in Brewster by committing to the program and holding true to it through tough times. Now, he wants the same pledge from the coach as he heads down an uncharted path.
"A lot of people are anxious for me to get out there," Maresh said. "This is an opportunity for me to show the coaches that I'm ready."
It all started with a standard sports physical, required of each player entering Minnesota's program. Maresh hadn't had one since his freshman year of high school, but he had no reason to worry.
He was a three-time state wrestling champion and an all-state linebacker at Champlin Park High School in suburban Minneapolis. Two months before the exam, he wrestled at the senior nationals and felt like he was in the best shape of his life.
But on June 2, doctors detected a murmur in Maresh's heart. Further testing showed he had a bicuspid aortic valve, a congenital disorder in which the valve has only two leaflets instead of three, preventing the heart from pumping blood efficiently. He also had an enlarged aortic root.
"They gave us all the measurements and said, 'You're way over [normal]. This is bad. It's severe,'" Bill Maresh said. "They kept saying, 'Are you sick to your stomach?'"
Sam's active lifestyle and sports background likely prevented symptoms from appearing earlier. But the diagnosis meant the 19-year-old would need open heart surgery.
Brewster was stunned.
"It just takes your breath away," he said. "I went directly to the kid. And Sam puts you at ease with his mindset and his attitude. He's so positive. He doesn't want any obstacles in his life.
"He immediately wanted to fix it."
[+] Enlarge
Bill Maresh Sam Maresh chose the heart surgery option that would give him a chance to return to the gridiron.
At a news conference at Champlin Park High eight days after the initial exam, Maresh told reporters, "I'm going to play. With my family and everyone supporting me and praying for me, I feel like I will play again."
The first cardiologist Maresh visited held a different opinion.
"He didn't look at me as an athlete," Maresh said. "He looked at me in the long run. He said, 'I don't know if you'll be able to play football after this,' and he gave me a list of sports that I could play.
"That got pretty emotional."
The Mareshes sought a second opinion and went to Dr. Rick Nishimura, a cardiologist at the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Nishimura was realistic about Maresh's situation, but he didn't entirely close the door on a return to the gridiron.
"He had significant heart disease," Nishimura said. "We told him that in most instances, not only would we not allow a person to play, but a lot of people might elect not to play because there always is a small risk after an operation.
"I said, 'If you decide that you still want to go ahead, there are a number of hurdles you have to overcome.'"
Patients have two options with the type of surgery Maresh was facing. To fulfill his dream, Maresh had only one.
If his aortic valve needed to be replaced, Maresh could have either a mechanical valve or a tissue valve installed. The mechanical valve likely would prevent another surgery but would force him to take Coumadin, a blood thinner that would prevent him from playing college football. The tissue valve doesn't require a blood thinner but necessitates a second surgery in 12 to 15 years.
"So hopefully after I'm done with the NFL," a smiling Maresh said, "I'll get the mechanical one in there, and I'll be all set."
The night before an appointment with the surgeons, Maresh and his parents watched Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. The telecast featured a story about Turiaf, who underwent aortic replacement surgery three years earlier and returned to the court with the Lakers.
News of Maresh's situation soon reached Turiaf, who called the Gophers recruit days later.
"He was very supportive," Maresh said. "It was pretty sweet to hear from a professional athlete who went through the same thing."
There were two big questions heading into the surgery, which took place June 26 at the Mayo Clinic. Would Maresh's enlarged aorta need to be repaired or replaced with a tissue valve? And how big of an incision would the doctors need to make in his sternum?
If Schaff could do a partial sternotomy, which he anticipated, Maresh would have an easier time healing and, hopefully, getting back to football. A full sternotomy would make things harder.
"If you don't divide [the sternum], it doesn't have to heal up again," said Schaff, who also performed Thomas' surgery in 2007. "And for Sam, that's a huge issue."
Maresh spent the weeks leading up to the surgery playing softball and hanging out with friends. Aside from a minor ear procedure as a young boy, he hadn't had any surgeries, but he wasn't intimidated until the night before.
"He asked me some questions that made me know [he was scared]," Bill Maresh said. "'Dad, so what is this heart-lung machine? So my heart won't be beating?' I said, 'No, it won't be. They take your blood and it goes through a machine that oxygenates it and brings it back in. Your heart's not doing that.'"
The Mareshes watched an educational DVD about the surgery. Then Sam went to sleep.
"It was midnight, and I had surgery at 5:30 in the morning," he said. "I woke up, and that's when I got a little jittery, like, 'This is really happening.'"

Bill Maresh A Minnesota jersey and a poster signed by the Gophers were with Sam Maresh as he started his recovery.
Schaff made the smaller incision and brought Maresh's aorta down to normal size. Unsatisfied with the repair attempt, however, he opted for the tissue replacement.
The surgery was deemed a success, and Schaff performed it needing only a partial sternotomy, much to the relief of the dozen or so family members in the waiting room.
"They'd come in and say, 'Sam is on the heart-lung machine,'" said Julie Maresh, Sam's mother. "And then when he was done, they said, 'He's back breathing OK.' We were like, 'Whew.'"
Two days after the surgery, Brewster and Minnesota linebackers coach John Butler visited Maresh. They brought a No. 17 Gophers jersey with his name on the back and a poster shaped like the state of Minnesota that all the players had signed.
Maresh had a surprise for his coach, too.
"'C'mon, coach Brew, you wanna take a lap around the floor?'" Brewster remembered Maresh saying. "And he's dragging wires and all this stuff. They're telling him, 'Don't do it.' Sam's like, 'Watch me. I'll be fine.'"
Despite Maresh's hospital-ward display, the surgery took a toll. He struggled to sleep. He lost 15 pounds in three weeks. His athletic exploits were limited to miniature golf with friends, after which he would "just pass out."
Thomas Allison, an exercise physiologist at the Mayo Clinic who has worked with many athletes, put Maresh through a testing program to ascertain what his heart could handle during rehab. Maresh was prohibited from lifting weights or engaging in any contact exercise for six months.
When he finally got cleared to start jogging, he had to make sure his heart rate didn't go above 125.
"Nothing like a wrestling workout," Maresh said, nodding at his dad, who had coached him in wrestling at Champlin Park High.
[+] Enlarge
Eric Miller/University of Minnesota Sam Maresh's rehab program prohibited contact exercise and lifting weights for six months.
Things began to get easier, and Maresh, who originally had targeted a 2010 return, made remarkable progress. Three months after the surgery, Maresh started thinking about participating in spring ball.
He wanted to start training at the university, but the Gophers' staff couldn't work with him until he officially enrolled in January.
There also was the risk of Maresh returning too soon. Minnesota had never had a case like his before, in which the athlete played football.
"The university's very nervous," Bill Maresh said. "They've got this kid, and they don't want to be liable. Here we are, pushing, going, 'Will you start working him out? Get going, already.' It took a while to get on the same page."
Added Sam: "They were surprised at where I was, as far as a recovery standpoint. They didn't know what to do."
Cleared for running and lifting, Maresh finally started working out with the Gophers in late January. The trainers followed a plan mapped out by Nishimura, which called for gradual reintegration.
"He was a little bit out of cardiovascular shape, which was fully expected," Gophers head football trainer Ed Lochrie said. "We'd let him do half a workout and then ride the rest on the bike at a slower pace. And in the weight room, he'd do a lot less weight, and he started with the group that lifted the least amount.
"So we just watched him."
Still, a spring return, once impossible, suddenly seemed realistic for Maresh.
If only the pain in his left leg would go away.
Maresh had experienced leg cramps throughout high school, but he always would ice the cramp and be fine in a day or two. The pain returned when he started running after heart surgery, and it didn't improve. A chiropractor told him he had a strained calf, but he eventually went for an MRI, which revealed a mass. "It was irritating," Maresh said. "Why am I back at the doctor? I told my dad, 'Maybe God doesn't want me to play football.'"
The growth likely was not cancerous, but Maresh still underwent a biopsy. It showed that the mass was benign, mostly scar tissue left over from a previous injury.
Surgery was once again a possibility. And although not large, the mass was located deep in the calf muscle, close to nerves and an artery.
Doctors told Maresh that if he had it removed, he'd have only a 50 percent chance of playing college football. That made Maresh 100 percent sure of what he wanted to do: play through it.
"There was a pretty big risk of taking it out," Maresh said. "I've tried to set that aside, basically told myself that it's nothing. I'm running on it now, and everything's working out."
On the morning of March 24, Maresh and his parents sat at a table inside Minnesota's Hall of Fame at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex. His first college practice, a goal some thought he'd never reach, would take place that afternoon.
"We went through a lot of stuff to get him to this point," Julie Maresh said.
Almost exactly two years earlier, the Mareshes were in the same building, attending another Gophers spring practice. Minnesota had been Sam's first Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offer, but others soon followed -- Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Miami.
Maresh didn't grow up a Gophers fan, but the high school junior immediately clicked with Brewster, who, upon seeing him, always asked, "How's my Urlacher doing?"
[+] Enlarge
Eric Miller/University of Minnesota Sam Maresh was the first big catch by Tim Brewster's Minnesota staff.
After attending a portion of the practice that day, Maresh and his parents hopped in the car to drive home. They barely had crossed the Mississippi River bridge on Interstate 35W when Maresh told his parents he wanted to commit to Minnesota. Bill turned the car around and headed back to campus. Sam walked into the indoor facility and spotted Brewster conducting drills with a group of tight ends.
"I came up to him and said, 'You think I could still have No. 17?'" Maresh said. "He said, 'You bet your ass you can!'"
Brewster hadn't coached a game at Minnesota. The program had been mediocre, at best, under Glen Mason.
"He kind of stuck his neck out for me," Brewster said of Maresh. "It wasn't the most popular thing as an in-state kid to stay at home and go to Minnesota when you've got opportunities to go elsewhere."
Maresh's choice became even less popular when Minnesota went 1-11 in Brewster's first season.
"Sam had all the perspectives," Bill Maresh said. "It was, 'Wow, we're so proud of you for staying in the state,' and, 'How stupid can you be to stay on this football team?' Press people were afraid he was going to change his mind. Why would you stay in a 1-win program?"
Bill rapped his hand on the table.
"And he'd keep saying, 'I'm a Gopher. I'm not changing my mind. I'm not leaving coach Brewster.'"
As the season approaches, Sam Maresh needs Brewster to take the same leap of faith.
Doctors have green-lighted Maresh to run, hit and tackle. They have told him that with his condition, it's better to be the player delivering the blows than the one absorbing them. But if he feels symptoms like light-headedness or shortness of breath, he knows to shut it down.
"He's going to be pushing his heart to do things that most people wouldn't," Nishimura said. "It's going to be a combination of the amount of effort he's going to put out as well as the contact."
The risk is still there, but Maresh has cleared most of his hurdles.
"Most patients after surgery don't notice their incision, even if they've had a full sternotomy," Schaff said. "So once it's healed up completely, patients don't have a disability. But those are normal patients. Those aren't guys trying to stop a running back."
"His health is the most important thing," the surgeon continued, "but again, we don't see any reason he shouldn't try this."
The only reason, perhaps, is that no one else has.
Brewster has dealt with players coming back from torn ACLs, dislocated shoulders, even bigger-picture injuries like concussions. He never has had a football player come back from open heart surgery.
"I'm probably going to be more cautious with Sam than he wants me to be," Brewster said. "I'm a father of three sons, and I like to say I treat my 117 players like they're all my sons. You just can't help but take a more cautious approach, and that's what we're going to do. We're going to make 100 percent certain that he's 100 percent ready to go."
As a fellow coach, Bill Maresh empathizes with Brewster. But he also knows his son.
[+] Enlarge
Eric Miller/University of Minnesota Sam Maresh's next goal is to move up Minnesota's depth chart.
"He wants to move up the depth chart," Bill said. "That means that everybody's got to trust that he can. And think about being a coach, knowing, 'Well, what if I put him in there and something bad happens?' I talked to [Sam] and said, 'You're going to have to be kind of a driving force here.'
"That's going to take some pretty mature statements, saying, 'You need to put me in. If you don't put me in, you can't see where I fit here.'"
Sam Maresh spent Minnesota's first spring practice working with the third-string linebackers. He seemed to favor his left leg when running but participated in all the drills.
His conditioning isn't up to par yet, but he hasn't lost his football instincts.
"He's not looking at this like, 'I'm just happy to be out on the field,'" Butler said. "His goals are no different than they are for [Gophers defenders] Simoni Lawrence or Traye Simmons. He wants to play football in the NFL.
"Regardless of how his career ends up, whether he plays a down or whether he's a four-year starter and an All-American, you can't question that the kid truly wants to play football."
Brewster didn't hold back on national signing day in 2008, calling Maresh the "flag bearer for this university."
Maresh hasn't logged a play in maroon and gold, but his story has drawn interest and support from around the state and the country.
Well-wishers have flocked to the Web site the Maresh family set up to provide updates on Maresh during his comeback. His mother prints out most of the posts, which have come from places as far away as Arizona and Texas.
Some of Maresh's favorite messages have come from players and fans from rival high schools.
"I was the enemy," he said. "And it was really cool to see families from Blaine and Anoka, say, 'Hey, we're behind you. Who better to represent the state than you.'
"There are certain posts that leave you breathless. It really hits you how much support and comfort there is."
All that support will be packed into TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota's new outdoor, on-campus facility, as it opens Sept. 12 with a game against Air Force.
Maresh thinks about the game nearly every day and admits he'll be nervous and a bit overwhelmed. But when it's time to take the field, he'll be ready.
"He's going to be out front, carrying that state of Minnesota flag into the stadium," Brewster said. "And nobody deserves it more than him."
Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for He can be reached at

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just a few pics...

Christina's Open Heart Surgery on 04/30/09

Christina and I have been together for five years. We are closing in on our first anniversary (06/07/09). We own a small home in S. Mpls and both work dtwn Mpls.

We are also one week away from Christina's third heart surgery. She had surgeries at age 4 and 13. Christina's aortic valve has moderate to severe stenosis. Dr. Vib Kshettry will be performing the surgery at Abbott Northwestern - Mpls Heart Hospital. We had an option of a mechanical or tissue valve. We chose the mechanical valve after much conversation. It should eliminate the need for a future surgery. It will require Christina to take a blood thinner indefinitely which will create a life style change for the both of us. We look forward to fixing this problem and improving her health.

We appreciate and welcome your support. We will use this blog to communicate her status updates and share information. - Thanks for being a part of our lives - Sam

Monday, April 20, 2009

This thing called 'blogging'

Soooooo...with the upcoming events in our lives I thought I would try this thing we called 'blogging' to keep everyone informed. Stay tuned...