Friday, November 13, 2009
As you can see from the smiles above, Laura is about to get her final set of casts off during what we hope is a final St. Louis drive by for 2009. Kristina popped them off quickly despite Laura's needless fussing (her face below is just recovering from all of that fussing...) and she had time to sit, stretch, and generally enjoy her freedom before we put on our new night shoes. We've moved from the Mitchell's, which we have had since birth, to the Dobbs molded brace to see if it works better for her special issues. So far, she's not fussed at night and I'm happy to say both Mommy and Daddy have figured out how to put them on well. Yeah for Daddy! And Yeah for Dr. Dobbs (our own personal 'genius') and Kristina (definitely the woman behind the Dr!) who have done so much for Laura's future.
God is just soooo good!!!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Yesterday, a new family was created and ours grew. All at the same moment. The first in the youngest generation of our family was married. Ka and Jarryd shared their vows before the Lord in front of family and friends in a very sweet ceremony, and without a quiver. Confident and smiling, they couldn't have been more relaxed or sure that their union was indeed blessed.
In true Mikayla fashion, she went a bit against the norm. Not only did she not wear high heels (smart girl!), she did not walk down the aisle to "Here Comes The Bride" (she chose something more melodic to walk to) and she had not only a ring bearer and a flower girl (yes, Laura was her flower girl - even in double casts), but she had a 'flower Dad' as well. You'll see what I mean as you look through the pictures... Poor Don. He did a great job!
I love fall. It is my absolute favorite time of the year. Yes, yes, I know. I absolutely LOVE Christmas, too. But fall. There is just something about the beauty of it all, so many colors on the trees, the smells, the sounds, the cooler nights... Yes, I LOVE fall!
Today we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and stopped by a roadside stand to pick up a few pumpkins, gourds and such. Libby was quite the item with the other visitors as well as the owners, and Laura managed to move around through the pumpkins holding Daddy's hands despite her double casts. Jonathan picked out pumpkins for both he and Matthew, and Laura got two. One that was shaped like a heart and the other that she'll actually consent to cut.
I wonder if her special pick will still be around in the family Christmas pictures. Hey, don't laugh! Nothing like reminiscing over some happy holiday photos to discover that you not only maxed out the Christmas decor, but you forgot to do something with the pumpkins! Trust me. I have personal experience!
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Yes, Laura has had some vision challenges. Don has dealt with them his whole life and his Mom has as well. I guess it is just one more way she's very much like her Daddy. Oh, don't get me wrong. We will continue to pray for her daily and we expect her vision to improve. Whether the Lord does it miraculously, or through the work of her pediatric ophthalmologist is still an unknown. So meanwhile, we do whatever we can to help her with that as well.
For the past year and a half or so she's had to wear a patch over her much better eye in order to strengthen her weak one. Currently, she wears it about 6 hours or so a day, often more. And we'll return to the specialist in November to see how she's doing. When we started patching we discovered there were a variety of options, and like the studious Mom that I am, I researched them. Using adhesive patches just wasn't going to work with her - she develops sensitivities to adhesives - so we opted for this model. Since the original, I've purchased several more from the creator and we love the variety. If you need to patch your princess, or prince for that matter, please check out www.goipatch.com for some great, creative options.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
At Craft Stores: They are generally large enough that everyone who shows up can enter as soon as they can squeeze their bodies through the door, hopefully in time to grab a cart on your way by.
At Lego Stores: Since their only purpose is legos, and just how many of those can you have after all, the size is smaller than a normal shoe store and therefore must be monitored for body count or the Fire Marshall will get fussy. This means long, several hour waits snaking around buildings for the poor souls who didn't get there before dawn to start the waiting process.
At Craft Stores: Little children are left at home with the husband who generally is more concerned with the large hole his wife's shopping trip will leave in his wallet than what his kids are doing at any given moment. And he has little understanding of just what the purpose of each carefully chosen and planned for purchase will do for him. Or the need his wife has for a creative outlet, if only in concept.
At Lego Stores: Little children make up 60% of the crowd. And they are excited. Very excited. So excited, in fact, that most feel the need to share with everyone within shouting distance just what set they are going to get to go with the ones they already have when they finally reach their own El Dorado. Well, most of them do. The others are busy playing handheld games and could care less about line etiquette if it impedes their ability to win. The rest of the crowd is made up of equal parts exhausted parents, usually mothers, who are wishing for a tall, cool drink somewhere quiet, and fathers/uncles/grandparents/other men who have a long term love of little plastic pieces and can't wait to spend their money they've been saving for two years to get that long coveted set they can't find at their local store. This group of men send 'scouts' to stand at the store door hoping to catch anyone leaving with 'pick-a-brick' cups so they can preplan what bricks they'll be purchasing when they finally reach the 'wall'. I won't even go in to how this effects what little line etiquette remains.
At Craft Stores: Women who want to browse are given the leeway to do so as long as they don't get in the way of the greater crowd who are there with a list in mind and can't wait to get their treasures and get home to start planning and crafting. Check out lines move smoothly and are well defined by the cash registers ready to receive all of the stuff piled in each cart.
At Lego Stores: Browsers are not expected, and those who want to capture the moment forever on film will encounter the biggest challenge of their day yet. Bodies are in constant motion. Even those who take a moment to be in awe of what Master Builders have created only take a moment before moving on. Check out lines are nonexistent. There's a counter with stressed store employees who just want a moment of silence to calm the buzzing in their brains. Your guess is as good as anyone else's regarding who is next to check out. Calm is only maintained by those parents who take a moment to add up the cost of their several hour wait in the sun and to question their sanity before moving forward, allowing those who don't want to know the chance to hit the cast register before them.
At Craft Stores: Those leaving the store rush to their cars, unload their purchases, abandon their carts and leave as quickly as they can.
At Lego Stores: Those leaving the store want to revel in the fact that they made it in, conquered the store and are victorious in their purchase, and they want to do it with all of those still waiting to cheer them on. Big yellow bags are constantly being opened in front of those who have yet to see a glimpse of their El Dorado, driving up the excitement and creating an even louder plan of action amongst the lego fanatics still in line. And this activity is encouraged by overly cheerful store employees in yellow aprons who are also hot and tired, and trying to remember why it is that they applied for the job in the first place.
But after all is said and done, I can honestly say that those who purchase at the Lego Store are much more likely to actually use their purchase in a timely manner and I am sure there were many boxes being opened even before the cars they were riding in left the parking lot. Oh if only those lego fanatics would give us creative folk some space in the basement and time to create... Just think what we could accomplish! Meanwhile I'll be happy interpreting lego instructions for the newbie in the house as she embarks on her first lego purchase. Heaven help us. If her brothers are the example she's following, we are in trouble!
Friday, May 22, 2009
Me: Who is living in your barn today?
Laura: Fairies, of course!
Me: Oh. Of course.
Play goes on for awhile. Pretty soon a chair appears next to me and then the barn lands on the chair.
Me: Oh my! I didn't know fairies were in the Wizard of Oz...
Laura, looking at me rather sternly: Mom. The fairies want a makeover. One of your makeovers.
Me: So they want their hair done?
Laura: Yes, and makeup and a new outfit and whatever. Like you do for me.
Me: Of course. When should I start?
Laura: Mom! They are lined up in front of you. Can't you see them? You just have to believe. That's all. Just believe. And accept that they are there. Then you'll be able to see them!
Ah, how innocent. Just believe. And accept. So simple, and yet so difficult. And yet it is what the Lord asks. I couldn't help but hum "Trust and Obey" to myself as I gave each and every fairy their very own pretend makeover. :)
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Me: Because it sat for a long time without you playing with it.
Laura: But why is it dusty?
Me: There is dust in the air and when something sits still, it collects dust that falls out of the air.
Laura: Can our skin get dusty?
Me: No, not really. Because we are always moving.
Laura freezes and sits totally still for a time, just sitting there smiling.
Then she looks down at her arm, feels her arm and gets this big smile on her face.
Laura: Mom! Feel my skin! It is dusty!
I feel her skin. Uh no. Not dust...
Me: Laura, that's not dust. That's dried snot. You need to use a kleenex.
Laura: Yeah, you're right. It's swot. I will get a kleenex when my arm is full.
I grimace. She smiles gleefully and says: Of dust Mom! Not swot! and runs away laughing.
Welcome to my world.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I will be the first to admit that the past month has been lacking in creativity, homeschool progress, and yes, even cleaning. But it has been full of comfort, stretching our boundaries, lots of problem solving, family, and a growing love for my mother-in-law.
Jan was taken to the ER early in February for what we now know was apraxia/anoxia, a pulmonary embolism, congestive heart failure, eventual pneumonia, and a few other problems that might seem minor but added to the overall picture of her health. She spent 10 days there and was moved to a nursing home where she stayed until we moved her last week to a wonderful Assisted Living facility just a few minutes from our home that embodies the philosophy of 'aging in place'. She's currently doing very well there and under Dr. Stone's care she is just about back to the Mom we all know. There are challenges yet to overcome, but she's on her way and improving every day. But that's not the journey I wanted to share today. There are more important journeys that have begun, and in these lie the future of our family.
When my slightly larger family merged with Don's rather small one almost seven years ago now, we added just four new members to our family but they added 12. And if you count all of those extended family members, they had to deal with much more than that. And in typical fashion, we embraced their small family and just added them in to the fold. They were a part of all of our family celebrations, invited to every activity, and rejoiced with us when Laura was born. They were family. But I'm not sure that they fully understood what that meant to all of us, not even Don.
Having been on his own for so long it was hard for him to realize that my Dad meant it when he said he'd help with something. And that my parents really expected a call when large family projects were under way. Or that the word "we" really meant "we", as in all of us. I think Diane first truly began to understand just how much we loved her when she joined us for our week at the beach. We trusted her enough to let her see the good and the bad in all of us, to be squished in the car that seats 10 with the other 9 of us, traveling 10 hours through countryside and city traffic with my Dad at the wheel. If ever there was a time that she could choose to bail on us, that would have been it. But she hung in there. And she was even game for planning next year.
After our week at the beach I think Diane began to understand just how much we did love and accept her as a part or our family, but she still held the primary responsibility for Mom and couldn't spend as much time with us as we'd like. Often my Mom and I plan impromptu meals, gatherings and such just because we haven't seen each other since last weekend, we need a project completed together, or we have caramel corn to make by the gallon. While we'd like for Diane to be more a part of these times, it isn't feasible since she's so far away and the demands of life, taking care of Mom's needs, and puppy motherhood keep her schedule pretty full. We miss her, but we continued to pray for the Lord to open up a way for us to be together more.
When Don and Diane realized in February that Jan really shouldn't be living alone any longer, I realized big changes were coming to all of us. As we gathered to start planning what we needed to do, I naturally included my parents. After all, Mom and Dad would be a part of whatever plans we needed to make, even if it only meant keeping Laura occupied while the rest of us sorted, cleaned, prepped and painted. With our usual division of labor in full force, Mom and Dad gently helped us problem solve, and Don, Diane and I decided it was time to relieve Diane from the full responsibility of her Mom. We all decided it would be best if we moved her from the hospital down here to a nursing home. Oh, don't get me wrong. It wasn't an easy decision. Visiting nursing home after nursing home, defining just what assisted living vs. independent living meant, and who could best meet Mom's needs along with ours was more difficult than I ever imagined. But finding places down here that met our needs helped make the decision easier.
Moving Mom here has brought four major changes to our lives so far. First, it meant that Don, and/or the kids and I needed to check in on her daily. Meals don't happen on a regular schedule and figuring out when Mom was awake enough to have a visit was a challenge that we eventually have worked out. Well, sort of. :) Now that she's settled in and is comfortable, sometimes a phone call will do. But I still stop in whenever I'm out running errands during the day and I'm sure Don will continue to stop in regularly as well.
Second, it means that we get to see Diane every weekend. This is one of the best parts of the whole thing. She generally arrives here some time Saturday and stays through dinner, visiting Mom and with us until she feels compelled to head home again. Then she returns most Sundays to have at least a quick visit with Mom. We love her expanded presence in our lives and it is my prayer that through this, she'll come to realize just how much we do love her and enjoy her just because. And it certainly isn't lost on me that the Lord could use this as the final step in getting her to move down our way. :)
The third change certainly effects Don more than it does the rest of us. It seems to have worked out best that Don, being of sound financial mind, take over keeping track of Mom's finances, paying her bills and such. He's good at that sort of thing. But he's good at it because he takes the time to do things like balance checkbooks weekly and file bills after they are paid. Yeah. It was a concept to me, too. :) I'm sure this change will continue to evolve along with the rest, and I know we'll get better at it as he gets all of the accounts settled and her bills added in to his system.
The fourth change is something I didn't expect. And it really has to do with my own definition of family, and who that includes. As you know, I grew up with very loving parents who have spent their lives growing along with my brother and I (they started young!), and raising us with strong moral values and a great picture of what a true family is. I really didn't 'need' another mother in my life and Jan really didn't need me, either. She had Diane. While we were certainly cordial and I respected her as my wonderful husband's mom, I loved her from a distance. As it became more obvious that she would be coming down here for much of the rest of her life I began to ask the Lord to work in me. To make me the DIL he wanted me to be for her. That even though I loved her because she was my husband's Mom, that he would give me a growing love for her so that as I ministered to her needs it would be from the bottom of my heart and not out of duty.
I am not sure what I expected the Lord to really do, but he did what I asked and more. The first time I really realized it was the day Mom moved from the hospital to the nursing home. I was the 'greeter'. After all, every one else works and I had the time. I did the paperwork and waited. Mom was late. It seems a traffic jam was delaying the transport. And I had time to pray some more. By the time Mom arrived, Don was there as well. We settled her in and assessed her immediate needs, helped the staff do what they needed to do and prepared her for bed. Cradling her head in my hands as I said goodbye for the night was such a tender moment - for me anyway. I realized I would do what needed done and what was best for Mom because I loved her. Just because she was Jan. Not because I had to. Not because she was Don's Mom. Just because she is.
And that love has grown in the past few weeks. As we prepared to move her to what may be her last home in this world, I made decisions just as I do for my children. Because I've been given the opportunity to make the world better for her. Just because I love her. I have forced issues that needed to be tended to, and loved her patiently through others. Oh, I've had my moments. But the genuine joy I feel at knowing we've done what we can to make her comfortable, and the tears shed because she's improved so much in the past week are totally genuine. And it makes me very happy to know that we all truly are a family. Lock, stock and barrel.
And I don't think I'm the only one who has a growing love for 'Grandma Jan'. Yesterday morning while talking with Matthew he asked me if I thought the Lord might have moved Grandma Jan down here to be with us so that we could share the Lord more with her and help her develop a true relationship with the Lord before she dies. My son said that. And I didn't hesitate to agree. Of course I didn't let him see my tears. A Mom has to keep something hidden now and then. :)
When we began this new phase of life about six weeks ago, we had no idea what would eventually transpire. Looking back I can see that it has been a long time coming. And I know we will all be better for having gone through it.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Here are some pictures of her in her AFO. And for those of you who have a kid with atypical/complex feet, you'll relate to the big toe stance well. :)
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Our precious Laura had another birthday this week. She turned five. Five. My baby is five! Where does the time go? How is it that I can barely remember the difficult times we dealt with when she was born? Where did the wee thing we struggled to keep alive go? Was she ever really that tiny and fragile? Did they really diagnose her as a failure to thrive and say she would never develop normally?
Oh if they could only see her now...
They'd find her right where the Lord wanted her, growing healthy and happy in the midst of the family that God made just for her. They'd find her busy taking care of her babies, learning all of the things she needs to know at this stage in her life, helping to make her own birthday cake, and keeping us all on our toes. Who cares that her baby bottles periodically become guns so she can safely traverse through her brothers 'war zone' with her baby in order to 'safwe' get to the grocery store. Or that she knows far too many details about Indiana Jones or Star Wars characters since she loves to get right in the middle of whatever her brothers are doing? What matters is that she is content and loves life, thinks pink is the best thing going as any true princess at heart would, and that she will grow up to be a wonderful, devoted wife, mother, and strong woman of God.
Yes, she's five. Where, oh where does the time go?
One of the benefits you get from a blanket of new-fallen snow is seeing just what lives with you every day in and around your house. Last week a hawk, with his prey clutched in his hand, landed right in front of our window. I realize that he'd wandered outside his normal hunting grounds because of the heavy snowfall, but it was a reminder that nature lives with us despite our human desire to just take over everything in our path.
This morning I was reminded of the little creatures that we've watched grow up under our very own shed. Yes, we've fed generations of the little guys even when we weren't thrilled about it. And their brothers, sisters, cousins and friends live all over our development. This morning it was fun to follow their nightly wanderings around the house, finding all of the spots where they stopped for awhile seeking warmth, and seeing just how they wander in and out of the bushes. In the picture above you can see where they obviously spent some time overnight pressed in to the snowbank for a bit. And I think there was more than one of them cuddling there.
I then found a bunch of little footprints coming out from under the gate. You can see where they've dug a path in the snow under the corner. And on the other side of the house I found where they went back under the fence, as well as several places along the way where they stopped to cuddle for awhile. I couldn't help but wonder what that hawk might have done if he'd seen them out and about. And I realized that as much as they drive me crazy, and as much as I feel frustration as the bunnies eat my plants, I wouldn't want to see one have the same fate as the starling did last week. Remind me of that this spring when I put out new flowering plants, would you?
Ever have one of those things that keeps repeating over and over again, drivng you nuts? Like a song you can't get out of your head? Anyone remember "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood"? Or perhaps the Barney theme song? Or any other preschool ditty that just popped in to your head? Or how about a commercial that lacks intelligence and yet you can't get it out of your mind? Or some activity that you must do over and over again even though it just may drive you slowly crazy? Or perhaps someone who just keeps following you around when you want some privacy? Yeah. Me, too. And my nemesis is snow. It just won't stop. It keeps coming, and coming. In spurts from a spit to a foot or more. And then more comes the next day. And so on, and so on. You just can't get away from it here.
Here's a picture of the tree in front of the house a few weeks ago. Pretty, isn't it?
And our bush by the driveway fence. I just liked it at that moment. Of course it was the beginning of days of snow so I was feeling generous.
Here is Laura's climber on the back deck. She was amazed with how much snow it held. Little did she know it was only the beginning.
Jonathan went out that afternoon to help the men shovel.
Matthew started on one side of the driveway.
And Don the other.
He worked his way down and around
And here's the whole, beautiful mess before we started to dig out.
It was a beautiful snowfall. And I enjoyed it, if only for a moment. Soon another inch or two joined it. And then even more. And more. It just kept snowing. It snowed so much that January was the second snowiest month ever here. As in all of recorded weather history. Oh goody.
But soon it warmed up. We had two whole days of above freezing temps and sunshine! The snow melted off the roof, the icicles dripped themselves almost dry, and the streets and driveways that had been shoveled and plowed dried up leaving them very passable once again. And all of the snow piled up everywhere started turning that lovely shade of brown. It actually seemed like spring might be early this year. Perhaps Puxatawney Phil knew something we didn't. Perhaps we might dodge the bullet this year! After all, we'd already hit our average snowfall amounts for the whole season and we were only halfway through it.
Alas, it was not to be. Two nights ago and just as the new month got under way, a storm that was only supposed to drop a few inches in a general snow fall hit a newly melted spot over the lake in its way in and picked up steam. Lots of it. Before it ended, this little 'clipper' would drop over a foot of light, crisp snow on a few select counties in the area referred to as the secondary snow belt. Trust me, anything that has the words 'snow belt' in it can't be good. Apparently winter isn't done. Spring isn't near. We are only halfway done. And here's all the evidence you need:
The poor bushes! I'm not sure they'll recover completely. But then I feel that way every winter yet they stand majestic once again every spring.
And here's the boys sledding hill they made after the last snowfall and used again last night.
And the mound by the mailbox is growing...
Here it is from the other side. Our poor mailbox. It may get swallowed before long.
And here is Laura's climber and the snow piled up on the deck. Even I was amazed at how much there was.
And our house this morning. You'll note that we have yet to clear the sidewalks. We'll get to that soon. Or it will melt off all by itself. Yeah, that's it. It will melt. Someday soon. Really. Even here. :)
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Our setup for our Mitchell shoes on a Dobbs bar
We attached the bar upside down so it did not get in the way of her walking. Here it shows that more clearly.
Here's the bottom of our shoes and bar:
And a closer view of one shoe - note the tab to press that makes the Mitchells easily removed from whatever bar they are attached to, including the Dobbs bar:
And a closer view of the plate and how it fits on to the shoes:
On December 15th we began what we pray is the last phase of Laura's clubfoot treatment. At our Thanksgiving visit Dr. Dobbs determined that a posterior tendon transfer was worth a shot for Laura, and a last ditch effort to cure her stubborn heel varus before an osteotomy would be required. Surgery for Laura hasn't always been an easy thing. She doesn't 'do' surgery well, but then most people don't. So it wasn't as if I was looking forward to it. Well, I might have been. On the inside. Waaaaay on the inside. After all, in my heart I knew this was what we needed to do. But in my head I was not looking forward to letting her go as she headed to OR, or watching her struggle with the pain of recovery immediately after surgery and beyond.
As I packed to go to St. Louis I made sure we had plenty of tylenol, some extra tylenol with codeine, some valium for muscle spasms, plenty of syringes and lots of apple juice to help keep her stomach calm. I planned for the possibility of her nissen letting go should she have an extremely upset stomach, and I packed comfy clothes for both of us as I anticipated spending a lot of time holding and rocking her through her pain, and climbing over seats in the car to get to her when necessary on the way home. I'd been through it before. I thought I knew what to expect.
When we arrived at Shriner's Monday morning, they immediately went to work making her comfortable and catering to her every whim. Lots of stuffed animals, a large playroom well stocked with everything her little heart desired, and pbs kids helped make her feel special. She fussed a bit as the medication began to help her relax as I'm sure she felt a bit funny. But when we released her to the nurses care outside the OR, she was doing just fine. After all, she was almost asleep!
Mom and I headed to get something to eat since we didn't know when we'd have time to do so later that day, and then settled down in a very nice OR waiting room. Soon the call came that she was out and in recovery, calling for me. My stomach sank. The difficult recovery time was upon us. I said yet another silent prayer as I headed to gather her in my arms.
As soon as she was settled in with me on a rocking chair, she drifted off to sleep. No fussing, no frustrations. Just rest. As we moved from the recovery room to her hospital room, she seemed to perk up even more. No extreme pain, no anxiety. Just a smile now and then, a hug for a stuffed animal or two, and a request for some crackers and apple juice.
I knew there were many people at home and across the country praying for her and soon realized the Lord was answering our prayers. My anxiety left as we prepared to take her home to Nana's for a nights sleep before driving home the next day. I'd planned to sleep with her in the living room, but even that wasn't needed. I put her down next to Jonathan, left them watching Noggin for a little while, and headed to bed myself. Mom and I woke up the next morning and marveled at the fact that we hadn't heard from her all night. But mentally I began plotting how to get some of the nasty pain meds in her before we left for home.
It seems I plotted without reason. As I listened to weather forecasts in the bedroom, Mom sat at the kitchen table to read her Bible and pray for a bit. Soon she was greeted with "Good morning, Honey" as Laura crawled down the hall. No crying. Not a whimper of pain. Just a smile to greet us. The Lord had really blessed her. And Mom and I as well. As you can see by the pictures, she was still doing just fine an hour later. We made it home that evening with just a few doses of tylenol needed. And I'm not sure they were for pain as much as they might have been because she was whining due to boredom. But I'm happy that was all. The Lord truly is good.
The troops as we pack to head home:
Nana and Jonathan: