Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

they're BAAACKKK

And they had a wonderful time! The weather at the ocean was perfect--sunny and about 85 with a bit of a breeze. They played beach volleyball, built sandcastles, waded in the water (this is the PACIFIC ocean in Washington state, so we're not talking swimming temps here!) and watched some jet skiers playing in the surf. It's only fitting that I wasn't there, since it was Logan's first time at the ocean. I missed Ryan's first ocean visit too. They enjoyed a campfire each night, and generally had a blast. Best of all, the rain held off until they were supposed to come home.

I enjoyed myself as well. I painted the living room, mowed the lawn, sewed a weighted therapy blanket for Logan (for proprioceptive input, helping him establish better body awareness), and cleaned my kitchen. It's SO CLEAN right now (okay, was so clean) that my nephew Nicholas could have eaten directly off the counters. Nick's fighting leukemia and going through some pretty intense chemo, so that's saying something. I also did a bit of shopping for myself and had fun with some friends shopping for our little guys and enjoying a leisurely dinner.

But now it's back to it: Ryan has a funky bite on his leg that needs to be checked, and Logan seens the ENT at the Craniofacial Clinic this afternoon. We're hoping and praying to be able to schedule ear tube surgery quickly, in part to help with his vestibular sense! Although his hearing test showed a significant loss, we're finding that he seems to hear well. He can hear me asking him if he wants a cookie--when he's upstairs in his room and I'm in the kitchen! And I don't yell...

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's so QUIET

Every summer, Jim takes the kids camping for a few days. It's their time to hang with Dad, and some time for Mom to be alone in the house. I LOVE it and look forward to it every year. So today I sent them on their way to the Washington coast for a few days. They're having a ball in the sun and surf (they just called to check in) and I'm enjoying a totally quiet house. Give me a few days and I'll be glad to have them back, but in the meantime...

And what do they eat? Well, that's the best part. I put together a few meals for them, then the girls do the cooking. This weekend they have grilled chicken with twice baked potatoes and tacos on the menu. They'll do great! Everyone says Logan's having a ball. I'm sorry to miss his first time at the ocean, but it is SO nice to have some time to myself.

So excuse me. My book and my ice cream are calling...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

what a day!

They say bad things come in threes. Maybe we're done? Today was one of those strange days where nothing goes as planned. Not even remotely close.

The morning started out with a call letting me know that my brother in law had had a seizure at work. A few phone calls later, Hailey was on her way down the road to spend time watching the cousins while his wife went to be with him at the hospital. After dinner, the kids were picked up and went home with their mom and dad, but they'll be back in a few days when Jerry has to see the doctor again.

Then, in conversation with my sister, I learned that my nephew is STILL not feeling well. He's fighting some sort of tummy trouble-not significant, but not fun--and his counts are low. He has to go back to clinic tomorrow, when they will determine if he's healthy enough to continue treatment.

And tonight the phone rang. It was Jim's aunt. I laughed when I answered the phone because she was looking for my sister in law, not me. After a brief conversation, she decided that Jim could help her rather than bothering Jerry after his long day. It turns out that Jim's cousin is in town. She had a major medical procedure a few weeks ago at Swedish, and things got really bad. She's in ICU, and Julie wanted to know if one of us could head up there to check on her. There is some concern that the information being received second or third hand isn't quite accurate. So, tomorrow after work Jim will stop by and check on her.

Are we done yet???? I sure hope so! Once in a while, it just seems overwhelming. You think if I pull the covers up over my head tomorrow morning the day will just go away??

Friday, August 15, 2008

feeling invisible?

Wednesday evening I attended Stephanie's funeral service. The church was PACKED--standing room only in the sanctuary, the balcony, and the foyer. Through my tears, I wished she could all the people who loved her and had been touched by her life. The service was beautiful--her husband spoke eloquently, and her girls were darling. As I sat, I remembered a story I shared last fall with our Moms and Tots group. Stephanie was there, and afterward she told me that it was a reminder she definitely needed. And so, in her memory, I share it here. Remember, you are NEVER invisible. What you do MATTERS.

The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson

It started to happen gradually.

One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, "Who is that with you, young fella?"

"Nobody," he shrugged.

Nobody? The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only 5, but as we crossed the street I thought, "Oh my goodness, nobody?"

I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to my family - like "Turn the TV down, please" - and nothing would happen. Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, "Would someone turn the TV down?" Nothing.

Just the other night my husband and I were out at a party. We'd been there for about three hours and I was ready to leave. I noticed he was talking to a friend from work. So I walked over, and when there was a break in the conversation, I whispered, "I'm ready to go when you are." He just kept right on talking.

I'm invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She's going¸ she's going¸ she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England.

Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."

And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was
almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction.

But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for
the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my
strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

the fruits of my labors

Yesterday I spent part of the day canning the fruit my mom brought me from eastern Washington. This time was only a small amount--1 box of peaches and 1 box of apricots. I have some peaches left from last year, and I'm the only one who eats apricots, so it was plenty. Next up? Green beans for the freezer, and pears and applesauce. Judging from my apple trees, I'm going to be in the kitchen for a LONG time.

Here's the little amount I put up yesterday: peaches, apricots, apricot jam, and apricot butter. Never made that before, but it was pretty easy. I may never make apricot jam again--the butter is delicious!!

adjusting expectations

Before we brought Logan home, if you had asked us, we would have told you we were prepared for a child with delays. We would have said that our expectations were in line with what we were pretty sure we'd find; that we knew what we were getting in to. After all, we did the required adoption education (very good!) and we have tons of experience with preschoolers. Even developmentally delayed ones. Heavens, I spent two weeks volunteering in an orphanage helping with developmental assessments and training the staff in setting up a developmental preschool! We weren't walking in to this blind.

Because we "knew" what we were doing, I am sometimes surprised by how off we were in what we thought we could expect. Each child is unique, and development is anything but uniform, I understand, but Logan's development blows my mind. In some areas, developmentally he's not quite 2 yet, in others he's much closer to 3 1/2. Sometimes it varies day to day or even hour to hour. It became quite clear late last week. We got a game that we could all play together. Ryan loves it and plays competitively no matter who he's playing against. Logan simply can't pull together enough coordination to even get started. He's frustrated, and it takes some of the fun out of our family game. Truly, we thought he'd be able to do more than he is capable of right now. I'm not sure why it surprised us--we watch him every day. There are so many things that seem to be beyond his reach. But they'll come...

We know Logan has some vestibular (sense of gravity/motion) and proprioceptive (where his body is in space) issues. We're seeing some motor planning issues--the inability to remember the what and how of a motion or movement. The motor planning issues are now apparent in his speech as well, since he's struggling to get his face/lip/tongue muscles to do what they need to do to speak. He still walks in to walls, even though we know he sees them. He can't judge distance well, a proprioceptive issue. He spends an inordinate amount of time planning how to jump or swing or run, almost like he's forgotten. We show him nearly every day how to hold a pair of scissors; in fact, we correct his hold multiple times every time we have scissors out. Walking down the street can be a challenge. Today, for example, we went to the park. It's about a 3 block walk, almost totally flat, with sidewalks all the way. Before we got 3 houses from home, Logan had fallen 4 times. He stumbled about every 50 steps the rest of the way, and his path is like the flight of a bumblebee. Walking behind him is hard! I never know where he's going to be next--neither does he!--and so I try to stay about a dozen steps behind. But the farther I stay behind, the slower and more unpredictably he walks. It's an adventure! However, the same child who can hardly get himself to the park has no problems with the equipment there! He climbs ladders, slides down slides, swings, tries hard to do the monkey bars, tackles chain ladders, fire poles, and climbing walls successfully, and is basically as coordinated as any other nearly 4 year old out there. So what gives???

He didn't qualify for physical therapy or occupational therapy, so we're doing our best. Some days it feels nearly impossible. I know it will get better, and it sure doesn't affect his sweet spirit! Gymnastics is on the horizon for fall, and our wonderful speech therapist is going to have an OT sit in on a session for a consultation. In the meantime, we work hard to readjust our expectations so they're not too difficult yet still provide some challenge. We have laughed about the fact that while we shouldn't limit our children, perhaps professional athlete and neurosurgeon weren't professions that we should encourage Logan to pursue.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

great news, and a hearbreak

My nephew Nicholas is here from Boise with his family to meet with the transplant team in preparation for his bone marrow transplant. The meeting went very well, and although his brother Ted was not a match, the National Bone Marrow Registry has 740 people who are potential matches! That blows my mind. The transplant team will begin their work in securing a donor, and Nick will finish his chemo. At this point, Nick and Pam will be here late October or early November for a transplant. They'll be here about 4 months (in the best weather Seattle has to offer...NOT!) At this point, the road will be hard and long but the outlook is good, so we're excited.

The good news last night was tempered with some heartbreaking news this morning. A young mom in our Moms and Tots group at our church died last night. Stephanie had four delightful little girls ranging in age from 15 months to 6 years. After struggling for months with depression and anxiety, she was no longer able to deal with things and took her own life. My heart breaks for her pain and for the family and friends she left behind. Please, if you know someone who is struggling, be a friend! Come alongside and offer support--more than just words. You never know what a difference it may make. Do it for your friend, in honor of Stephanie.

Introducing Miss Tina

Logan's speech therapist. She is so interested in helping him--she sees how bright he is and has fully accepted the challenge of unlocking his potential! We are so blessed to have her in our lives and are excited to see Logan's progress after only 2 sessions.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

a handful of pics

Just a few pics from our trip...will post more but the girls have to download them from their cameras first!

heading for the jumping rock...Hailey's long legs hanging over the side of the "loser cruiser"

This vacation thing is hard work! Hailey napping on the sofa in the trailer...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

home again

We're home. Vacation was fun, but getting back into the swing of things has been hard. We're doing VBS this week--all 4 of us girls are teaching and the little boys are attending. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment, but I promise some vacation pics soon.

Taking it one step at a time and clinging to the promise that God will never leave or forsake me...