Thursday, December 16, 2010

Athan wins again



Ok, parents. I need help. Again. The picture you see above is the result of "you may not get down until you've taken at least one bite." I lost. After I snapped this pic, I gathered him up and put him down for his nap. In case you can't hear it from there, he's already snoring. Surprisingly, this isn't so much about eating or not eating his food. He's a good eater when he's not already dug his heels in about it. It goes like this:

Here's the problem we face with Athan at least three times a day right now. It starts quite amicably: we give him a choice to make. Today it was "eat lunch" or "rest." Sometimes when he comes home from school, he's not hungry yet if they've just had snack. He gets sleepy before he gets hungry. Usually I just try to decide which is right for him, and act on my decision. Today I couldn't tell, so I gave him a choice. Per usual when given an either-or question, he announced his decision. "Rest."

So we head for the bedroom. No problem. He goes down for a nap most days sans protest. Normal. Except half way there, he changes his mind. "No I want to eat wunch first, Mama." Ok.

So we head back down the hall toward the table, where lunch is sitting ready for him to eat. "Actually, I want to rest first." Ok.

Back down the hall. "No lunch first." Ok. Back down the hall. "No rest first." Ok. Back down the hall... I calmly let him walk out his indecision for a few minutes until the tears come. He starts to shout at me each time he changes his mind "NO MOM I SAID REST FIRST!" even though I'm not arguing with him or impeding him in anyway from doing which ever he chooses.

Then I try to intervene, not because I'm in a hurry to get him to bed or to the table, but because it seems the only way to rescue him from the cycle of indecision he can't break alone. Of course, it's going to go badly from here because no matter what I do, it's the wrong choice. But now I've made a stand of some kind, and I can't let him just scream his way out of it. Thus "you have to take at least one bite before you get down" (the One Bite Rule is long-standing at our house, so that's not a surprise to him). So he cries into his pile of apples, ignores his quesadillas, refuses consolation, and falls asleep at the table (in this instance).

It happens almost any time we try to offer him a choice, and this is where I'm stuck. I don't know how to help him. I've tried letting him come to the end of indecision himself, and he just starts crying and gets angry. I try to intervene and decide for him, and he screams. I try to avoid giving him any choices at all, which might be why we're still in this pattern after so long, or it might be the right thing to do... AAAAHHH! I'm stuck.

Morgan never did this. It was enough to just say "you can't have both" or "you may decide or I will help and decide for you." She was ridiculously rational. Athan is not.

Any advice? Is he just too young to do what I'm asking him to do? How do I help him enjoy the freedom that comes with a choice instead of feeling trapped by them, to teach him how to choose? We're going on well over a year of this same pattern here, so any change would probably be a good one. :)

6

Morgan is 6 years old! During her "birthday weekend," she got to sing for the church twice, make a gingerbread house with Nana and Papa, and have a birthday party. We had a few friends over for cake after dinner on the actual day. There were guests from 6 months to 86(ish) years old, and Morgan, of course, seemed equally comfortable and happy with each extreme and everyone in between. We're thankful to the friends and fam who came (some on quite short notice) to celebrate Morgan with us. She's pretty excited about being 6!

I finally gave in. I've said for 5 years now that I wasn't going to spend alot of time on a crazy kid birthday cake for one too young to really care. But Morgan's six now, and she cares. :) So I called my mom-in-law for tips from a pro, and set out to make Morgan a Castle Cake for her birthday (pink, girly, princess-y castle, of course). I watched this video, then modified it a little. The pink sprinkles kinda help cover the fact that I really stink at icing a cake. :)



Might have been a little better if I'd done strawberry cake, but Morgan's only request was for chocolate. :) Here's a clip of her reaction to the cake, and the birthday song:



video

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bummer

I'd put it off for months, but I finally made the kids both an appointment to see a dentist.

Morgan's fine.

Athan has cavities. Several. Probably somewhat due to genetics. I also wonder if the "drool pool" that stays in his mouth because of his low tone has contributed. Whatever the reason, he has to have some fillings. It'll be done up at the hospital here in Abilene on January 7th. We'll have to arrange for all of his Endo stress dosing ahead of time.

Yucky.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Morgan The Star

Morgan was chosen as the Austin All-Star for Mrs. G's class for the 2nd six weeks. She gets to go to lunch tomorrow with all the All-Stars at Mr. Gatti's.

AND I got a note in her backpack today informing that Mrs. G's substitute earlier in the week said Morgan was "very helpful" to her.

Way to go Morgan! :)

potty training!

We've been steadily working with Athan to go on the potty. We're not there yet, but today we had a big milestone: Athan wore the same underwear and pants from morning to bath. No accidents! We still have to take him to the potty every once in a while just to make sure, but we didn't change clothes or use a single diaper or pull-up today. Woo-Hoo! He wears a pull-up from bath to bedtime (which is dry so far), and then a diaper at night.

Way to go Athan Bear!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

a happier snippit

Tonight the kids and I spent an hour just chillin in the back yard. Athan decided to be "Athan Bot," inspired by a Sesame Street skit. He spoke in only two pitches, with halting syllables, called me Mama Wobot, and ended every sentence with "beep, beep." Apparently, Athan Bot's primary function is to retrieve pecans one by one from Mama Wobot and take them to the yellow bucket.

Meanwhile, Morgan found a Magic Stick, which had many functions. It could distinguish between good and bad pecans, it could locate smallish Magic Twigs that were saved in a pile for later use - namely turning oneself into Tinker Bell, and it rediscovered various Lost Treasures which were collected in a bucket.

It was a good evening. :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

i missed it.


There was a Window into my daughter's soul this morning, and I missed it.

It was a frustrating morning. We woke up a little late, and many of you already know that trying to rush a groggy 5-year-old through a morning routine doesn't really work. She lingered too long over breakfast, complained about her clothes and shoes (bringing long pauses before each item was finally on her body), and then whined through most of the brush-n-fix-the-hair process.

As I twisted the rubber band around her ponytail, she tearfully reported this to me: "Mom, I'm just sad because my friend M_____ at school always fixes her hair prettier than mine."

I was frustrated and we were in a hurry, so I threw some empty words of pseudo-encouragement at her, ignored her tears entirely (assuming them to be just an extension of our grumpy morning), and hustled her down the hall to grab the jacket and backpack and run to the car....

Then later, when the house was quiet and I faced 7 long hours before I could see my Morgan again, I cried a little. Partly for my morning fumble (which will require me to apologize to my daughter later today). But mostly, the tears came for the fact that it has already started for Morgan. This silly thing that women do - petty competition with one another to be the prettiest one - has started at age 5. Sans intervention, it won't stop for a long time, if ever.

So I prayed. I confessed. I asked the Lord if there's a better path through this for Morgan than I can see, and if there is, would He please point us both toward it?

And now I'm asking you, our community, to help me, too. Help Morgan know what real beauty is, and how to pursue it. Demonstrate celebration of the beauty of others WITHOUT putting yourself down in the process. And pray with me for the Holy Spirit to tell her these truths in ways none of us can.

It takes a village, right? :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WT rehab

We finally got in for our evaluation by the wonderful folks up at West Texas Rehab. Athan charmed everyone in the room, of course. :) And, as expected, they confirmed yet again that Athan demonstrates developmental delay in large and small motor skills. That's it. Every other area shows him age-appropriate or ahead.

Also, WT Rehab contracts with the schools to do therapy, so Athan sees some of the same folks at school as he will at "the gym" (as Athan prefers to call it). The PT - Jody - is good with just doing sessions at school and evaluating later to see if we need to add some sessions, depending on his progress in the next few months. OT we decided to add one half-hour session every other week on top of what he gets at school.

Jody also referred us over to ortho to get Athan fitted for some new ankle braces. He did NOT like the casting process they did to get a mold of his ankle. They'll call in a few weeks when they're ready and we'll go in for a fitting.

So far, the report from the therapists is that Athan is a joy to work with. We're so proud of his determination and hard work! :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cardio

Ryan took Athan to Mansfield (near Ft. Worth) yesterday to see our new Cardiologist, Dr. Hackman. She was really good, Ryan says. I think we'll keep making the drive down there to make sure we can see her (instead of going to the clinic here in Abilene where the practice sends different docs from time to time).

Athan's ECHO looked good, and his heart is not enlarging anywhere at a rate that is higher than his normal growth rate. In case you don't remember, he has small leaks in his mitral valve that could cause his heart to enlarge. We have known since just a few days after his first heart surgery (in April 08) that he will need another surgery someday to repair the mitral regurg. Dr. K (cardio in Kentucky) recommended waiting as long as possible to do the repair. Dr. Hackman, however, said that if it was her kid, she would want it done sooner rather than later (as in maybe when he's 5 instead of when he's 10 - ish). So she plans to watch his ECHO (the EKG was a dismal failure - Athan was too wiggly and loud to get any results), and to take Athan's case to her colleagues for more opinions. We'll see her again in six months.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Endo

Athan saw the endocrinologist today. This makes our second visit since the move to Dr. Paul Thornton. He works with Cook's Children's Hospital in Ft. Worth, but they have a clinic here in Abilene that's really just down the street from us.

The first appointment didn't go well for me. Maybe Dr. T was having a bad day and maybe I was, but it was stressful. Plus, who could fill the shoes of the fabulous Dr. Irene?! But today went better. He was nicer. Or I was. Or something.

And Athan is maintaining well as far as his Endo stuff goes. His IGF-I was low on his last labs, which means we go up a bit on his growth hormone dose. Otherwise, all stays the same and we go back to see them in 3 months.

Athan and Ryan just left to drive to Mansfield to see Cardio tomorrow. We won't usually have to make this drive, but this time we just took the quickest appointment we could so he could see a cardiologist. The referral process took quite a while, and I'm anxious to make sure his meds are correct about his heart stuff. After this first one, we can schedule follow-ups here in Abilene, just like Endo.

I'll try to post an update when I hear from Ryan tomorrow.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

the stuff

I've spent much of my creative energies the past few months on 3 things:

1. Helping our kids navigate transition in a healthy way.
2. Entering the life of the congregation at EWUMC in a healthy way.
3. Unpacking and organizing our stuff.

1 and 2 went well, I think, and seem like meaningful pursuits. 3 is... necessary. And in the long run, I know I'll be glad I'm doing some of this work on the front end. But I'm re-heeeeealy ready to stop fiddling with all of our stuff!

Last Saturday was a notable milestone: I unpacked the last box. Woo-hoo! Now all of our stuff from storage (that's been there for the whole 4 years we were in Kentucky), plus all we brought with us in the truck, is "settled in." I know what we have, where it is, and why it's there. Piles of things have been donated. Other piles trashed. Some boxed and stored, and the rest organized. Whew.

Now my gracious friend Missy is helping me decorate (on a tiny budget).

All of this is exhausting and feels kinda shallow sometimes. But I want my home to be a warm, welcoming place. For my kids. Our guests. Myself.

That is the last few months of my life, at a glance...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ahtan can climb stairs!

video

So so proud of him! These are the 3 little steps he does each day at school...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

school - Morgan


I suppose it won't surprise anyone that she's having a great time. :) She loves Mrs. G and seems to be happy to see all of her classmates every day.

One of her favorite things is Wellness Wednesday. Each Wednesday during PE, the kids run laps and get rewards throughout the year for meeting goals and making various milestones. Morgan is loving it. A couple of the parent volunteers have informed me that she cheers herself on as she comes by to mark her card after each lap... :)

It has been a bit difficult for her and for us to adjust to a full day of school. Can I just say that full-day Kindergarten is a bad idea?! It's a bad idea. She gets so very tired. I know she'll grow into it and her stamina will be fine eventually. Probably soon. But I still think it's silly to make 5 year old kids have an 7 hour school day.

But fatigue aside, all is going will with Morgan and her Kindergarten adventures.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

school - Athan

video

Athan LOVES his school. Every day he greets us with a wildly excited "I had so much fun at my school!" It's so good to see him that excited...

So school: Athan qualifies for preschool through the public schools at age 3 because of his developmental delay (all motor delay). So he admitted through the special ed program, and is part of a classroom that is designed for kids with special needs. Abilene ISD is GREAT in that they practice "reverse integration" with their special ed classes. They have allowed any teachers in the school to put their 3-year-old in the program as well. So Athan is in a class of 12 or so (with about 3 or 4 adults in there), and I'd guess about half are "normal" (kids with no special needs or learning delay), and about a quarter of them are kids like Athan (some delay in motor or speech, but not greatly delayed), and then a few kids with many special needs and more pronounced developmental delay.

Athan began the year going 2 hours each morning, from 8 to 10. We just had an ARD meeting and they recommended a longer day. They thought he was ready for a 4 hour day. And maybe he is. But I'm not! I like my kid, and our time together is short enough. However, with the addition of some therapies and such, I didn't want him to miss ALL the class activities. So we've decided a 3 hour day is good for him. He will go each day from 8a to 11a.

The main reason we are choosing school for him right now is for therapies. [Laurie and Emily - you'll love this - same schedule as we had with you guys!]: He'll get PT twice a week, and OT once a week. We're excited to get feedback from the therapists on his progress once they get rolling (this week, I believe).

And, of course, his teachers L O V E Athan. Love him. I think they recommended a 4 hour day just to have him around longer. :) It does my Mama's heart good to hear what they say about him.

Friday, October 1, 2010

as promised... :)

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand we're back. ;)

Of course today, the day I thought would be wide open space for reflection and organized blog updates, has gone a little differently than planned. Of course. So no organized summaries yet, or even loads of pictures with cute captions and cuter stories. Yet.

For now, 2 things:
1. We have been in "project mode" for the past few months (busy with the projects that come with new place and new season), and I'm really ready to leave "project mode." Thus the return to blogging. It feels regular and rhythmic. I miss those kinds of things.

2. Just random cuteness:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

re-launch


I, Amberly R. Strebeck, to hereby promise to blog again. I will relaunch Athan's Journey on October 1, 2010, and I will faithfully update my few remaining and forgiving readers on the happenings of Strebeckian life in Abilene. If our patient followers will wait only a few more hours, posting will resume, I swear.

:)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1st day of school


Ok, it's official. Yesterday was Morgan's first day of Kindergarten, and today Athan started preschool. Morgan's is a full day thing (8-3), and Athan goes for 2 hours each morning. More details to follow, I'm sure. But for now, that's all I can manage. It's a bittersweet day for me. I'm gonna go distract myself for 45 more minutes, then pick up Ryan and go with him to get Athan!

Monday, August 16, 2010

no puking, still fever, still home

He hasn't thrown up any more since about 9 last night. He still has a mild fever, but he's eating a bit and has kept his meds down. If the banana he's eating sits well with him, we'll give some Tylenol in a bit for the aches and the fever.

Doing better but not out of the woods yet. Thanks for praying! We slept in shifts around here, so today might be a long one for all of us... :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

still at home, still sick

We thought we were in the clear. He slept alot, sugars stayed high (88 was lowest), and then acted like he felt better and ate a little finally.

Then he threw up all over Grammy and the couch (again). So he's back in the tub, we're running the 25th load of laundry, and Grammy took her 3rd shower of the day.

On the bright side, he still acts like he feels better. He's talking and playing a little...

Ok - mid-post correction: Just checked his sugar. 70. Not dangerous yet, but it needs to go up.

1st time sick in Abilene

Athan's been awake most of last night and today. He's been throwing up since about 9a. So far his sugars are fine (nothing below 90), but if he can't keep something down soon, including and especially his Cortef, we'll have to give his emergency shot. If that doesn't work, we'll have to go to the hospital.

We could use your prayers once again.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

yes, better

And thank you all. I appreciate the encouragement. Alot.

Today was better. I'm still sifting through all the stuff, but I took a big break from cerebral work today and cleaned up in our backyard for 7 hours today. I'm physically worn out, but less stressed.

And I'm a bit embarrassed for whining. I should never blog when I'm sleepy - it comes out pitiful.

So.... tomorrow I register Morgan for Kindergarten. Wow!

Monday, August 9, 2010

overwhelmed

Today I am overwhelmed. (It looks like a small, benign sentence).

I've fallen off posting for a while, and I'm sorry 'bout that. I'll soon return to the regularly scheduled cute-kid stories and pictures and videos.

But today, I have to post a little of Athan's Journey. Or maybe Athan's Mama's Journey. ;)

Endo. Cardio. Optho. Ortho. Genetics. PT. OT. School. Pediatrician.... It's alot to coordinate. Everybody has to learn the Story of Athan. So I've been combing records, sorting, filing, copying, organizing, reading...

And crying. It's hard reading - Athan's medical history. I kept up, during the last 3 years, whatever information we needed to know to care for Athan THAT day. Until the last couple of days. I'm trying to learn the comprehensive whole of his story, so I can tell it (and document it) correctly for the new folks who'll be providing care. There is no short version. There is no easy telling. I have alot to learn...

So coordinating the appointments could be a full time job - schedules and records and paperwork and insurance and such. I feel like I should go to med school to understand Athan's story, but even if I just try to decipher the pile of papers from Central Records at UK, I'll spend some hours there. Meanwhile, we just moved in. Nothing feels like it's where it should be yet. And my kids still get hungry and lonely and bored and tired. The damn dog keeps pooping and not cleaning up after himself....

I told Ryan today: "It really is all stuff I WANT to do (maybe except cleaning up dog poop), but today I'm overwhelmed by how much of it needs to be done yesterday."

So that's Athan's journey today - Mom's overwhelmed...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Clovis, Kerrville, and next is Lubbock/Ceta

We've traveled quite a bit lately. We knew it was coming: move to Abilene, then survive July. Sanity should come some time after August 1.

We took a quick trip to Clovis to grab some stuff we had in storage during our student-living in Kentucky last weekend.

This weekend we went down near Kerrville for a family reunion. Athan and I mostly got tired: But Morgan had SO much fun. I'm hoping Papa Sid will let me upload the footage of her paddling around a little creek in a kayak all by herself (and doing a pretty good job of it!). There was good food and great company for us all. Then Ryan, Athan, and I drove back, while Morgan stayed and is going with Nana and Papa to Sea World in San Antonio. She called tonight with giddy reports of trained whales and such. So happy for girl! :)

Next weekend is the last of the crazy Strebeck month. Ryan and I get to be a part of Anna and Benji's wedding. Anna was in the church at Shallowater when Ryan and I were serving there, so it's a long-lived and treasured friendship. If you guys could shore us up in prayer this weekend so we can serve and love them well despite our current fatigue, that'd be great! :)

I'm going to stop typing before I throw in another emoticon...

we're... living on.... :)

Life is always a good mix of the difficult and the easy, the good, the bad, and the poopy diapers. Transition, it seems, just magnifies both the highs and the lows.

Athan was in time-out twice before breakfast, and he and I had to miss Sunday School AND be late for church because I had so much resistance from him at every step. Ugh.

Then, this afternoon, he voluntarily (and unprompted) sat on the potty and did his biz-ness, and got to wear Thomas The Train underwear for an hour as a reward.

Major meltdowns followed by major milestones. Intense ups and downs.

I'm tired and smiley and teary and....

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

help is on the way! :)

Nana and Avery are coming to visit. New faces for my kids to entertain.... ;)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

transition

We're here, but not here yet. Make sense?

The process of find Home again is going well. It is. But it is still very much a process, and one that will be on-going for a while.

I think it's all kinda finally hitting the kids. They've weathered so much the past few weeks, most of it with grins and giggles. But Sunday Morgan had a fever, and they've both been extra volatile the past couple of days. Morgan is very expressive, and can over-react to life on a fairly normal day. So you can imagine the heights and depths of her days when she's tired and overwhelmed.

Athan is a bit disoriented, too. He wakes up crying at night, instead of happy. And he keeps asking me if we can go home (while we're at the house, mind you). More than a few times today he announced to me that he was "going to Ms. Eve's house" and requested that I open the front door for him (Ms. Eve lives in Wilmore, of course).

So this is part of it. Transition. We're smack in the middle of transition.

And still, we've been given so much. The folks at Elmwood West are being very patient in letting us settle in and get to know them. And I think the Lord just knows when I need a familiar face or voice or name in my e-mail inbox, too. Just when I need a friend, someone calls. Really - like 8 times in the last 2 days alone. I can do well through days when my kids are cranky and clingy when those calls and comments and cards and e-mails keep coming... :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

fast version

we made it to Abilene, unloaded the trailer, and unpacked like crazy for a day or two. we've seen familiar faces, met a sea of new ones, and unpacked more. Ryan's first sermon was really good, and Elmwood West UMC DEFINITELY knows how to welcome a new pastor and his family! morgan is charming everyone she meets, Athan is walking and talking more and more each day, Ryan has jumped off into the deep end of vocational ministry, and I'm trying to make sure we all have some clean underwear for tomorrow. :) today, i miss Wilmore in the form of an almost physical ache. i'm sure it won't be the last day i feel that way.

when we get internet at the house, i'll slow down and do a better update. :)

as always, THANKS to you who are praying us through this transition!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

the big Texas sky... :)

Even in the hills and trees of north Texas, sunsets are prettier here.

(We made it to Nocona)

Friday, June 25, 2010

going off grid some time today...

Today we finish packing. Tomorrow we load the trailer. Sunday we clean. Monday we drive. Tuesday we drive more. Wednesday we move in. Thursday Ryan starts his new job and I start unpacking. Friday is Athan's first appointment with our new Endocrinologist. Saturday we either rest or panic or cry or unpack. Sunday Ryan preaches his first sermon. Monday... I don't know.

I'd be really thankful if you chose to use that little paragraph as your prayer guide for the next 10 days or so... :) I'm sure I'll be sneaking away with Ryan's lap top in search of wifi at some point, so I'll try for a short update when I can.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

made it. :)

Home again, resting and rotating laundry. Packing begins again in earnest today, as do the goodbyes. Gulp...

Monday, June 14, 2010

soooo.....

After a new lock installed, some brake repair, lights fixed, and something to do with ball bearings... we left Lubbock 4 hours after our planned time of departure. We're in OKC at 2 a.m. waiting on Ryan to get back from Wal-Mart with diapers (apparently, the stash I'm sure I packed in the diaper bag earlier today has evaporated). If you think about it, you might pray us home tomorrow. Could be a long day... :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

in case you're wondering...

we haven't left yet. I'm not exactly sure why, but last time I walked out there, Sid and Ryan were rifling through Layne's garage in search of tools, and I heard Ryan ask "Where is your circular saw?" I guess we're not leaving RIGHT now...

:)

we've been in West Texas for sure!


The wind blows here. :) My hair looks like this pretty much daily. In Kentucky, this only happens about twice a year or so. Oh, it's good to be back... kinda. :)

So it's been an eventful week spent visiting lots of wonderful friends and family, having some great "chill time" before the big move. MANY thanks to Selena, Layne, Jon, Landon, Conner, and Rob (who surrendered his room) for hosting us with much generosity and grace.

Ryan's been buzzing around at annual conference, so he was a bit more busy than the rest of us. And last night, he was commissioned for ministry (ordination to follow in 2 years). More on that later...

For now, we're loading the truck, hooking up the trailer, and preparing to leave the Windy State and make the drive from the panhandle to Wilmore ONE more time. I'm starting to get teary, but I'm guessing the sentimentality wears off by OKC...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

in ONE day...

17 hours, from our driveway in Wilmore to Mee-maw's house in Nocona, all in ONE day. My kids were AMAZING. We were in Ryan's pick-up, so they spent 14+ of those hours in the back seat of a super cab Chevy truck. Yipes.
Truly I am in awe of how well they did. I kept a few Mommy-tricks up my sleeve, saving them for the inevitable melt-downs and misery of the last few hours. Never needed them. We did finally have to stop for a late dinner because I got cranky, but the kids were chipper right up to 11pm when we stopped for the night at my grandmother's house. WAY TO GO MUNCHKINS! :)

Athan mostly kept himself distracted with books, and making up conversations between his stuffed animals that we brought along for company. We listened to some great free podcasts Ryan got for them - readings of classic kid stories, like Beatrix Potter tales and such.

Morgan the Methodical, however, showed off her skills. She made up a game. The rules probably only make sense if you're five (or if you were there to watch the various evolutions of this game, perhaps). Mostly it involved Morgan assigning to one person a number and a color. Their "turn" consisted in finding exactly the assigned number of objects that were the assigned color. Then she would somehow record our results on a grid she had drawn out. She would color in squares for "right" answers, and draw the "no" sign (as in the circle-n-slash you'd see for "no smoking") through squares for the "wrong" answers. I'm still not clear on what exactly what "right" or "wrong" (though I do remember Ryan got one "no" sign for doing something that "in this game only girls can do"), nor do I know whether or not the game had any way to be won or lost or even finished. But it was great. Systematic, organized, layered, and consistent over the course of several hours, off and on.

So now we turn around and head home in a few days. Who knows what they'll entertain us with on the way home? :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

told you so!

This morning, in front of Daybreak on 82nd street in Lubbock...
video
I just had my phone with me to catch a glimpse, and it's not a great video phone. It only lets me catch 30 seconds or so at a time. So you'll just have to trust me when I say that this video only shows about a third of the distance he walked with no falls.

Friday, June 4, 2010

a Kindergartner now!

Waiting on the bus on the last day of preschool!

Morgan finished up preschool with a flurry of fun stuff! Tuesday they got to wear swimsuits to school and play in the water all day. Wednesday she celebrated all the summer birthdays with her class. And Thursday (last day) was an ice cream party and award presentation (as you can see in the video below, Morgan got the award for "Most Enthusiastic"). Can't believe my girl will start Kindergarten in the fall! :)
video

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Athan's turns 3 ("No Mama, I just only 2!")


Ok, so Athan did, in fact, have a birthday, and he is now 3 years old. But don't try to convince him of that! So far, he has insisted on either remaining 2, or skipping over 3 and being 4 right now. Either way, according to His Stubborness, he is NOT 3.... (I'd say that's a perfectly reasonable way to begin being a 3-year-old). :)

And whereas my Morgan can't get enough of the spotlight, Athan is showing some hesitance to be the center of attention. But he recovered quickly, and had a great time at the party...

Athan's birthday is always such a swirling mix of emotions for me, and it gets stronger every year. We've tried to keep birthday parties kinda low-key. I will NOT enter the "I Had the Coolest Little Kid Party" contest. Not for the birthdays they won't even remember, anyway. :0) With Athan, I feel like either having a celebration that rivals the pomp and circumstance of Ryan's recent seminary graduation, or a visiting dignitary. Nothing less seems like celebration enough for the gift of Athan's life. At the same time, I just want to skip parties altogether and just be quiet and cuddle with my Athan Bear, in hushed awe of him and the God that gives him back to us over and over again...

So, fighting both my extreme urges, we had some cupcakes and some good friends, and it was perfect...

(still working to catch a good video of Walking Bear... soon...)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

the PARTY and a giant THANK YOU

We had a party for Ryan the night before graduation (so as not to conflict with the other 15 parties happening after graduation), and it was so much fun! We had stellar smoke BBQ (THANKS JAKE) and lots of other yummy extras to go with it. HUGE THANKS to our moms and Ryan's Grandma Hale for spending an entire day chopping and cooking and arranging and cleaning and being very, very patient with me. We couldn't have asked for a better evening to just eat good food and be with the people who have loved us so well in Wilmore.

We missed those of you who couldn't make it, and we're so thankful to those who did.

Of some things Ryan-related

Ok, I'm just going to brag on my wonderful husband for a bit. If you're not in the mood for gushing accolade, scan the pictures and skip the words. There - you've been warned...

This accounting is chronologically backwards, but I think in order of import, from least to greatest:

Ok, first, to the predictable part of graduations: academics. I have to say that I respect Asbury Seminary very much for the way they handled graduation events. Seminary is not just another academic endeavor. At its best, it is about spiritual formation in an academic setting. With that as the primary aim, academic awards could be dangerous incentives for students to have bad priorities - and to skip some necessary forming experiences trying to shortcut to a good grade. There is NO mention of a "valedictorian" or any other kind of class rank during graduation. It's wonderful. I like Asbury very much for such deep respect of credible academics, without worshiping academic achievement.

That said, my husband did REALLY well, academically, in seminary. I won't be too specific, because Ryan wouldn't want it. But let's just say I know people who work at Asbury... He did VERY well. This is probably no surprise to anyone but him. Ryan is a thoughtful person, and has gotten as good with words as he is with other tools, like radial arm saws and tile cutters. He took a full load every semester, and did the work each prof asked of him. I know, I know - it's not about good grades. He had every excuse, from sickly pregnant wife at first to toddler that sickly pregnant wife couldn't care for very well. Then Athan's birth and sleeplessness and hospital stays... He could have excused himself from learning. I'm really proud of him for doing the work, and for learning, especially, to be a life-long learner.
The rest of our seminary experience, as anyone reading this probably knows, has been events surrounding Athan's birth and health complications. Ryan was asked to share that story during Graduates Chapel, the morning of graduation. He spoke beautifully of the way this community has kept us afloat during such trauma and grief, and has celebrated with us things like successful heart surgery and first steps at age 2.5. He did an amazing job of showing how God's grace to us through Asbury community has been thick and constant from then to now. I know Papa Sid got it on video. When I get hold of that footage (and if Ryan'll let me) I'll try to post it for you.Before graduation, during the last week of classes, Ryan did win an award, though not for academic accomplishment. This award is called the Towel and Basin Award, and the prompt for nominations read like this:

"If you know a graduating student who has: 1.Demonstrated promise in leadership and
2. Demonstrated a servant attitude in their lifestyle and activities, then nominate them for the Towel and Basin Award. The Towel and Basin Award is an award presented by the Alumni Department to a graduating student (one from both Kentucky and Florida campuses) who has a heart to serve the people around them."

The nominations came from several of our friends, independently of one another, and they said the most wonderful things about my Ryan. They spoke of his generosity in time and service - helping fix things or lending the truck or whatever, of his pastoral heart toward friends and their families, of his strength, of his dedication to his family, his willingness to serve even in the midst of crises with Athan and taking full course load. And my favorite quote: "He could whoop a man, most any man, but he would rather do the hard work of forgiving him instead." :)

This is the point, isn't it? Not getting A's in theology class, but being formed into a Servant. If I haven't said it clearly yet, let me add my voice to the others who say that you deserved this award, Ryan. It points to the life you want to live, and didn't wait until after graduation to start living it...

Still, I know my husband. He'll be embarrassed by this post, and maybe a little annoyed that I posted a picture of his award. But even HE would agree that his greatest moments during seminary looked like this:
More times than not, his "study time" became "story time." He wrote papers while listening to thought provoking songs like "It's a No-No to Kiss A Rhino." He figured out a way to think theologically about the world while he was being a loving husband and father, not instead of being a loving husband and father. For this, I am most humbly thankful and so very, very proud.

Love you, Ryan.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

general Athan health update


When I got back from Texas, Athan was sick. Upper respiratory junk, yucky cough, fever off and on for days... We went to see Dr. Coburn, got some antibiotics, and he got better. Doing great now...

Over all, he's been healthy lately. His sleep patterns... well, there is no pattern. Sometimes he'll wake up in the middle of the night every night in a week, sometimes screaming, sometimes groggy but fidgety, and sometimes alert and playful. Then he'll go a week or so sleeping through the night. We never know. He eats well, and we've been able to keep him from being constipated just by being careful with his diet. He also helps keep things moving because he's just moving more himself...

Seriously, you'll be shocked. When I can catch some good video of him walking, I'll post it. OH MY! As has been confirmed by several people (including and most importantly Laurie, the world's greatest PT), he's walking 50-75% of the time now. Closer to 75%. I'm so proud of him! It was later than with Morgan, but Athan's toddler "I-can-do-it-myself" thing finally kicked in full-force, which has helped in lots of areas, including mobility. Ok, I'll just stop trying to describe it and try to catch a video so you can see...

We've been making calls and gathering med records. I have a stack 10 inches tall of paperwork to copy, sort, and file in preparation for starting with new docs after the move.

We also had an ARC meeting with the schools, and officially have and IEP in hand to take to Abilene schools to get started with therapies for Athan after the move. Such a relief to have that done.

I think that covers it for now. The next few weeks just hold some "last visits" with some really special people who have loved and served our family and our boy so well. I'll let you know how we survive those... :)

I hope he forgives me for this...

My brother graduated! I'm so very proud of Jer (and loving the new shiny top he's sporting these days). He is now and RN. I made the trip to Clovis a couple of weeks ago for his graduation. Yeah, he's kind of a big deal...
I'm also very thankful to RYAN especially, as well as my kids, Eve Jagger, Guess-ca (that would be our neighbor, Jessica, in Athan-ish), Caroline, Ashely, and undoubtedly others who jumped through hoops to help me be gone for 4 days during the week at the end of a semester right before we move. I got to see Jer graduate, hug lots of parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles I've been missing, and spend some time with great friends. It was as much a gift to me as it was to Jer. THANKS all! :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

my ballerina...

Grammy gave Morgan some money for Christmas for ballet lessons. She LOVED it. Wilmore School of Christian Ballet was wonderful for us. We are so thankful for the experience. Here's a glimpse of her weekly sessions:

video

The next video is the Spring Performance for the school. They performed a ballet of The Parable of the Sower and the Seed. Morgan is a seed. :) She and her partner come out and do the seed dance, then they "go to sleep" as if planted. Then come "the thorns, which grew up with them and choked the plants" (that's the other group of girls dancing). After her part we skip ahead to the final bow...

video
She had fun. Can you tell? :) Truly, though, after all was said and done, her favorite part of it all came before the dress rehearsal and the performance: putting on make-up!
And I still think her favorite place to perform is in our spare room for her daddy (we have 7+ minutes of nonstop dancing on our camera - I cut it down to 3 for you):

video

the short version

Ok, I've been avoiding the blog. There's just SO MUCH that's been going on, and I want to tell you ALL about it. And I will. It's just going to take some time. For now, here's a list version, and I'll flesh out details in the next few posts:

- Morgan was the most lovely ballerina ever in her spring performance (video coming, promise)
- I went to Clovis for Jer's graduation from Nursing School (YEAH Brother!)
- Athan got sick (upper-respiratory junk), got meds, and got better
- Ryan won an award, spoke at graduates chapel, and graduated from seminary
- Morgan is finishing pre-school in 4 more days
- I got to go to Cincinnatti yesterday with my friend, Erin. The ache of leaving here creeps in
- ATHAN TURNS 3 TODAY (but don't tell him - he insists he wants to be 2 still)
- Ryan packed all of our books - we're really moving soon (not till end of June, but still...)

Ok, LOTS of stories to tell, videos and pictures to upload and edit, detials to fill in... I'm on it!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

back to the dark ages

Flooding of the Kentucky river means our internet at the house is down until the river is down. Sorry for the lack of posts, e-mails, etc. Maybe I'll actually get some packing done...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I packed the first box

And then cried for a while. Gulp...

This is going to be really a really good and really tough transition...

We've started gathering Athan's medical records, and researching doctors in Abilene and Lubbock. We started the process of getting therapies and such going after the move.

We've started talking to Morgan about moving to Texas. So far she's excited.

So, momentum for the move is picking up.... :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

steadily onward...

Athan keeps doing new things almost daily right now: taking more initiative to walk on his own. walking longer distances with us holding just one hand, walking alone and changing direction without sitting or holding on to anything... Just keeps plugging ahead at Athan's pace.

Morgan also seems to have new skills every day: new words she can read, new chores she takes on, new expressions of creativity...

That explains what I do most days. :) But I'm also reading lots, and starting to pack.

Ryan's doing school, gardening, and working on a couple of woodworking projects here and there.

Just doing what we do and watching Kentucky bloom. Good days...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Morgan ballet


video

This one is a glimpse of Morgan during the instruction time. She mostly follows directions, but almost always adds her own little twist to all of it...


video

And this one is the "free dance" at the end of the lesson, which Morgan apparently interprets as "track practice," and runs laps with a flailing hankie.

Friday, March 26, 2010

most ever!!


video
What you're watching is the most steps and distance Athan's ever done unassisted. This was actually the third time he did it during therapy earlier today. He went about 6 feet. Yeah! :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

therapy update

PT and OT continue to go really well for Athan. He has his up and down days, but he maintains steady forward progress at Athan's pace. He has ventured a few more unassisted steps here and there, and keeps improving his strength and balance all the time. He LOVES going in to Ms. Emily's gym twice a month.

He still uses his walker pretty effectively, so we're going to call and ask Shriner's if we can hang on to that until we move. We'll decide in June if we need to try to buy/borrow one for him once we're back in Texas.

We're also waiting to hear from the school so we can have meetings and get his IEP done before school is out. That way when we move we can have a starting place at the school, if we decide to go that route.

We just keep on cheering - Go, Athan, go! :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

oh, AND...

The other part of now-standard protocol around here is to knock on a friend's door in the middle of the night to keep Morgan. This time it was Jeremy and Jessica. It's been Adam and Dru, Jason and Hannah, Rob and Kat, Alan and Sarah, and on and on...

I'm not sure where we're moving next, but where ever we end up, I'll be scouting friendly faces for the person least likely to hate us if we have to wake them suddenly at 4 a.m.

To the many who have helped and the rest who have offered, we couldn't say how thankful we are...

The new info

Intussusception. That's what it's called. Probably what happened to Athan is that part of his bowel telescoped into another part.

Ouch.

As far as we know, there's no connection between this and his other issues. It can happen to anyone, and is more common in children under 5 or 6 years old, more common in boys. If left untreated over time, part of the bowel can actually die and have to be removed surgically.

Good news - not likely to happen again. Rarely happens twice, and if it does repeat, it is VERY VERY unlikely that it would happen a 3rd time. What I mean is that we're not looking at a chronic problem, most likely. Right now, no need to add another specialist to his list or anything. We will, of course, be extra-observant of his diet and diapers, in case there are signs of it again.

after the ER

Life after the ER is becoming unfortunately standard protocol around here. There are some things that seem to be part of it every time: There's the hurt - hurting to see your baby hurt. There is sleep deprivation, changing plans, canceling on commitments, tag-teaming naps for a couple of days, and trying to be nice to each other when it all makes us grouchy. We have to stress dose for a while, and keep track of stepping back down to normal doses. There's assimilation of new information (more on this later), and renewed sense of relief and thankfulness for having been carried through another round of trauma with/for Athan.

In the midst of all that, each new emergency has it's unique set of recovery experiences. This time had a few:
1 - The Clown. As I reported in the last post, Morgan's school put on a circus for parents to see, and she was a clown. I attended said circus after only a 2 hour nap on an ER bed with a toddler in pain. Honestly, I think the circus was funnier because it was all kinda fuzzy...
2 - The Poo. Athan had an enema. To save him the discomfort of prolonging the "tube up his butt" part, they only partially drained the fluid. The rest of the poop-water came in waves after we got home. Those "waves" would instantly over-flow the diaper every time. Lots of laundry (and a special trip to Nicholasville to get more detergent). Lots of scrubbing. Lots of baths. And we're going to try to re-cover one of our chairs (and maybe just drag it to the curb on trash day if we fail).
3 - The Time Change. Ugh. I hate the "spring forward" bit anyway, but 2 days after an ER trip?! Ugh, I say.

Really, after the ER, we're fine. Tired. A bit grouchy. But fine. Athan is downright chipper today. :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

meanwhile, at the circus...





I got a reasonable nap at the hospital, so I requested that Ryan take the first sleep shift at home. I went up to Morgan's school while the boys slept to see Morgan be a clown. Too cute! She ran around with the other clowns bopping people with balloons, and then squirting them with silly string and water.

Also, last Friday was clown day at school. The good pics are of her costume LAST Friday, and the fuzzier ones are from today, when silly mom forgot the real camera and had to use her phone to take pics. :)

home and resting

Athan slept through the entire discharge process (including removal of the IV), through being buckled into the carseat, all the way home, and in bed with Ryan until I got nervous and woke him up few minutes ago to have him eat a little and take medicine. He seems fine. Just sleepy.



correction :)

Given how well his procedure went, they gave us the option of admitting for observation or going home.

We're going home. :) We feel confident that we can monitor what we need to, and he'll rest better at home.

Hopefully we'll be discharged soon. I'll post whenever we're awake today.

enema done

They used a water soluble solution instead of barium, and it apparently went as well as enemas can go. No fun, but it's over. Kid you not, when we left Athan said "thank you" to the radiologist.

He said the enema either fixed it, or it had reduced on its own before we even started. Either way, it's fixed.

We're still in the ER for now, but we will admit to the pediatric floor for observation.

resting after getting IV



we are in the UK ER again

Not blood sugar this time.

At 11p, after being asleep for a couple hours, Athan woke up crying. Not unusual. But he didn't stop, it was very intense, and he was writhing in pain - pulling on his shirt, drawing his knees up to his chest, and saying "owie, owie, owie." It was obvious he was having abdominal pain, but no other symptoms - no vomiting, etc.

After nearly a half hour of this, we were nervous. It was abnormal enough behavior for Athan that we decided he needed to see a doctor right away.

Our gracious neighbors Jeremy and Jessica are at the house with Morgan, and we brought Athan into the ER.

X-ray was normal, blood work was normal, but ultrasound showed that part of his bowl is either looped around or telescoped into another part. It's fixable with a barium enema, which will likely happen in the next few hours.

Once again, we ask for your prayers, loved ones.

Monday, March 1, 2010

on the way to bed tonight

Morgan exclaims "I want a piggy back ride!"

Athan, not to be left out, cries "Mama, I ride backy pig!"

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dr. Irene says...

1 - Increase his nighttime dose of Cortef.
2 - Incorporate a higher fat, high protein snack before bed.
3 - Possibly increase his growth hormone dose as well.

We'll probably be doing more sugar-checks for a while. She says they recommend diabetics go to bed with a blood sugar of 100 to make sure there's room for a drop over night without being dangerous. Not sure if Athan needs to be exactly that, but we'll get a better idea of how his body does over night while we monitor his sugar more closely for a bit.

So, more sticks. Yuk.

Athan, aside from disliking the sugar checks, is fine. No worse for wear, it seems, from the episode last week.

And Mom and Dad are better. Fear still barks at me occasionally, but I'm asking again for the Lord to teach me to live a life of Love, not Fear.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

another scary blood sugar dive

Yesterday morning Athan woke up a little whimpery. That's it. But I knew something wasn't ok. I checked his sugar - 28. Then 30. I checked mine to make sure the meter wasn't broken - mine was 95. (normal is 70-120). Ryan gave his emergency shot, and we poured peach nectar down him. And we waited. 10 min later, 38. 10 more minutes - 172. Whew....

And since then, he's been fine. Not sick, eating well... He's fine. We talked to Dr. Irene's office,a and have followed instructions on stepping down his dosage back to normal Cortef dose today. Checking his sugars regularly, etc... (95 at last stick this afternoon).

He's fine. I'm not. I'm afraid. His blood sugar can get really, REALLY low with no warning signs and almost no indicators. May it was even just stress that caused him to tank. I don't know. We don't know.

It's been a while since I've felt fear like this about my Athan.

Anyway, we see Endo on Monday, and maybe we'll know more then.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

travel

We made it to Chicago and back last weekend. Oddly enough we drove far enough north to miss all the snow that hit Kentucky and south while we were gone. It was COLD though. I think it got all the way up to 20 degrees about the time we were leaving town....

We got to visit our friends Josh and Candace McCallister, and their wonderful kiddos Jedidiah and Lilia. We got to stay in the guest apartment at Reba Place - so nice. Morgan and Jedi played together really well (until that inevitable point in preschool-dom when sharing becomes unthinkable). Poor Lilia got a little sickly while we were there, but Athan Bear held out and made it home with no sniffles or fever or cough. I was a bit nervous about getting the Bear out that much in winter. He's been so healthy this season, and looks like the trip didn't change that at all. Yeah! :) Ryan and I got to spend not-nearly-enough-but-good time with our dear friends. It may be the last time for a while, as it is slightly more difficult to pop up to Chicago for a weekend when you live in Texas. Sigh...

Then, on the way home, we stopped at the Children's Museum in Cincinnati. Wow. So fun. All interactive learning activities for the kids to play with. We really had fun. Morgan, of course, met new friends around every corner, then proceeded to enjoy whichever attraction with said new friend. Athan was a real champ. He drug his little walker all over that museum. He stood for almost an hour and played in the water. He crawled and climbed and smiled until, of course, the last 10 minutes, when he melted down into the most literal kicking-and-screaming fit either of my children have ever managed. But before you judge, just look how tired he was:

Yes, that's lunch lingering in his hand. Morgan was zonked, too:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

yes, really...


Tonight, I learned to knit! After I did this much I just took it apart and gave the supplies back to my gracious teacher, Sarah. But it was out on a limb for me to even try. :) Who knows - maybe there are home-made scarves from me in your future... :)



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I don't do this much

But in echo of my friend Sarah's blog post, check out this thoughtful post on differently-abled persons. Then watch the video.

fun family randomness

Ryan is taking a Mentored Ministry class this semester. As the title indicates, it is a class for being mentored by those already in ministry. Ryan gets to work with Sean at Communality in Lexington, and the kids and I will be attending several of the events there with him. It will be fun to learn from them and worship with them this spring.

Amberly now uses this site for printing a weekly organizer. It's free, recyclable, and pocket-size. Plus, each week I get to pick a new cover (using the "image" option). This week: luggage, since we're traveling this weekend. :)

Morgan's response to Athan's first steps (forgot to post this with the other video):


video


Athan has transformed the act of cuddling into an athletic event. Almost nightly, he crawls in bed with us, and proceeds to try to be in constant contact with both Mom and Dad at all times. The closer the better, especially if we can be cheek-to-cheek. It's much cuter now, as a fun kid story in the daylight, than it is at 4 a.m.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

another Morgan moment

"Mom, Athan and I are a band! We're called the Significant Singers!"

Yes, really, she said "significant."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

among the favorite activities of late: letters

The story about the above pic goes like this: When I came into the bathroom, Morgan spoke with great urgency. "Mom, don't worry. I know "cat" is wrong, but we don't have a letter C any more because Athan bit it and it broke, so I used a K because it makes the same sound and we don't have a C any more and I put it backwards because it is the wrong one anyway. Ok, Mom? Don't worry."
"Ok, Morgan. No problem. Not worried. Good spelling."
"Thanks."

The bottom one started out to be "Mom" and ended up being "Mooooo." Not sure what I think about that.