Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tomorrow it begins...

Tomorrow is the first day of Brent's last challenges of boot camp. Sometime Monday, he'll have a chance to 'master' the "Confidence Chamber" exercise, also known as the Gas Chamber. (My guess is that Mark could shed more light on that exercise!) Then on Tuesday starting at 2AM, Brent begins the 'final exam' of his USMC recruit training. The Crucible is the culminating exercise that all recruits must complete in order to earn the title Marine. It's no easy chore! The Crucible is a physically and mentally challenging event that involves food and sleep deprivation and the completion of various obstacles for the potential Marine to negotiate. Each exercise and station is designed to reinforce the Marine Corps values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. The Crucible includes:

*Traveling 48 miles on foot over the 54 hour time period
*Carrying 45 pound packs, their load-bearing vest (cartridge belt, bucket, poncho, cleaning equipment, and shelter half), their uniform, and an M16 A2 service rifle
*Completing 29 problem solving exercises and 36 training stations
*8 hours of sleep during the 54 hours, taken in two 4 hour blocks
*2 1/2 MREs (meals ready to eat) are available to each recruit during the 54 hours

There are over 400 recruits in Brent's training company, and all will participate in these exercises tomorrow and Tuesday 2AM to Thursday 8AM. When they finish Thursday morning, they will have earned the title Marine and will be awarded the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem in a ceremony. Then they will receive their Warrior Breakfast--steak, eggs, pancakes, and juice!

Please keep Brent in your prayers as he finishes training. Some specific things to pray for Brent include:

*Health. Brent was very sick in January and has not yet fully recovered. He's been on light duty for a week because of a serious cough.
*Healing. He apparently has a wrist injury that has kept him out of some drills. He will need his wrists to work and be strong in order to complete The Crucible!
*Supernatural strength to finish strong
*A spirit of cooperation and teamwork amongst all the young men
*Awareness of the Lord's presence and a full reliance on God to complete this portion of his training.

As I was reminded again recently, my prayer during this time at boot camp has been for God to do what it takes to capture Brent's heart. My guess is he's pretty close to the bottom right now... I am excited to see what God can do!

PS I have some great pics taken today of the little guys in the backyard but probably won't post them for a bit. Brent's Crucible challenge is weighing heavy on my mind and heart right now.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

fun and laughter

Last night at dinner I heard the following conversation:

Child A: We had a quiz in Bible today. The first question was "Where was the Ethiopian eunuch from?"
Child B: Didn't he tell you what story in the Bible? How else would you know?
Child A: Ummm...think about it for a minute! The ETHIOPIAN eunuch is from where???

The rest of us at the table--well, okay, those old enough to understand what was going on--were dying of laughter.

Just a typical night around our dinner table...

Friday, February 26, 2010

worth the wait!

So....can YOU find Brent? It took me a couple of times. My family laughed--even Logan found him right away. (Hint: he's in the top row)

more waiting

And it's total agony! Today the recruits in San Diego who graduate March 12 had a video made. It's posted to the web for families and friends to access. But it won't be posted until after 5pm Pacific time! The agony of waiting ALL DAY to see Brent in a video is killing me. Especially since we haven't had a letter in 3 weeks...ugh.

It's one of those days where I'm grateful (and so is my husband!) that I am not into retail therapy. It would NOT be pretty...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Sorry, but you probably have to click on the picture to enlarge it enough to read. We sent this picture to Brent today... The pink link on each paper chain says "Grandma and Grandpa come home!" and represents the day my parents return from their trip. The first 3 red links say "Sleep at Aaron's" and the last one says "Brent comes HOME!"

Getting excited now--16 more days until his graduation!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

a curious mind

One of those "never before" moments at our house...

I was prepping 2 chickens for roasting this afternoon. Logan was in his typical spot--standing on a chair on the other side of the counter--watching and asking questions. After looking at the chickens for a minute, he says to me:

"Mom, how did the chickens die? And where are their heads?"

6 children. 20+ years of parenting. Another first. Sometimes I'm blown away by the things that go through this child's mind. He's a FAR deeper thinker than his siblings, that's for sure.

Plus, it's good for a smile.

Friday, February 19, 2010


How do you know when it's time to make a change? When it's time to try something different--a new SLP, a new program, a new schedule, a new approach? We LOVE our SLP but she's on maternity leave. And quite frankly, Logan's not particularly interested in working for the new SLP. Instead, he finds it amusing to see how much he can determine the direction the sessions take. Frustrates me to no end, and honestly, I'm not sure how to approach it with the new therapist. She's a nice gal and she probably does just fine. There are some things though that don't work with Logan. One thing that gets others regularly is telling him to do something, then tagging an "okay?" at the end of the statement. All of a sudden, in his mind, you've offered him the choice of cooperating or not. He typically chooses NOT. Then what? The new therapist does this. I pointed it out to her but she didn't seem to make the connection between her words and his behavior. We'll see...

In the meantime, she's changed his speech goals. Again. So now we're back at square 3 again. (Yes, I know it's supposed to be square 1, but we're beyond that. At least a little.) He's re-doing many of the things he's already mastered, and some he simply can't do at all. She has modified what he has learned and now he's frustrated--it worked for 2 years with our beloved SLP and now it needs to change? Why? He's making those sounds well. Plus, his SLP at school is elated that he's making some sounds in isolation. But they're sounds he mastered nearly 2 years ago. That's probably why he doesn't understand and share her excitement--he can do those. I am beyond frustrated by the lack of coordination and continuity. HE'S frustrated with the perpetual back-tracking. Bottom line, I'm not sure what we're doing is making a difference any more.

I understand that speech therapy for kids with apraxia/dyspraxia is slow, that progress is measured in inches. It's common to have things he can say this week that he can't manage next week. Training the muscles to work together is not simple, especially when they are so disorganized that the dyspraxia (the inability to coordinate complex motor activity) affects his gross and fine motor skills as well as his verbal and oral skills (like chewing and blowing and licking lips or ice cream). I get that. But some days I feel like he's just a number, another patient to be seen, rather than a child who needs individualized help. Plus there's the whole thing of "How much of the speech problem is related to the dyspraxia? How much is hearing loss related? How much has to do with an auditory processing issue? And how do we address the whole complex matter?"

There are some things I know:

1. What we've got going right now doesn't appear to be helping tons.
2. His frustration is mounting.
3. I would like to see him get more speech therapy, particularly from one single person working on a plan. Coordinating two sets of different speech goals is hard.
4. I'd love to have someone who sees me/us as partners in this. That's one of the things I LOVE about our SLP on maternity leave. She's awesome at this. The new SLP is okay with it too, but we've been with the other SLP for nearly 2 years. The school SLP is terrible with this, and it makes things harder. Logan's not exactly forthcoming with details about what he's learning in speech, in part because he can't articulate those things!

I guess this is an exercise in processing for me. I am not sure what to do next with him. There's a place about 15 miles from home that specializes in a specific method of speech therapy that I think might be helpful for Logan...but I'm not sure. I don't know how to find out. Add another session each week with a third therapist and see how he does? Cut our ties with the current therapy center and pray a new one is better? Take a break from it all, then jump back in in a few weeks/months? If so, where? How much? How often?

Tonight I hope to have a chance to sit down with Jim and get his input. He lives here too :) and sees things from a different perspective than I do. I still suspect that in the end, I will have as many unanswered questions and a decision to make. At least I'll get a dessert date out of the deal. That sounds delightful!

Unanswered questions. Seems to be the story of my life these days. Funny, I don't remember asking for more patience. Apparently, though, it is an area of character development that is lacking in my life. Ugh.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

how to stress Mom

Generally, I'm a pretty easy-going mom. Sure, I get frustrated with the dirty clothes on the floor and the dirty dishes left on the counter, and we're not even going to talk about what the girls bathroom looks like! While I tidy up, I mutter under my breath about wondering who taught them to live like such slobs and why their parents put up with this mess. Almost always, though, I am grateful that they still live at home, that they still LIKE living at home, and that they still like me!

I'm not a perfectionist. At least not when it comes to my house. It's clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to feel comfortable. None of that "so clean you're afraid to touch anything" stuff at my house! Some of it comes from living with 6 or 7 other people--while I can control what I do with my stuff, I have very little over what others do with their stuff. Or with my stuff!! Consequently, many areas in our house suffer from the 'horizontal surface syndrome,' which means they are typically covered in "important things" like papers and ziploc bags full of pencil sharpener shavings and leaves and yesterday's books that didn't get put away, last week's chemistry quiz that needs to be reviewed for the next test ("Oh, wait! I already had that test!!"), the remnants of an art project from Sunday School, hearing aids and their batteries, magazines, movies, and anything else that will fit on a table or a shelf or a counter. Sigh. Yep...most of the time my house is clean but not necessarily tidy. Sometimes it's quite tidy, but not necessarily very clean. And I'm okay with it. Most of the time.....

So what is it that really gets me? I mean REALLY gets me? Like sends me around the bend? How about this:

Don't recognize it? Well, then, try this:

Yes, one small ball of this horribly nasty stuff can make my blood pressure skyrocket! (And that says a LOT, since I usually run something like 82/60...) It seems that no matter who brings it home, they cannot remember the simple rule: NO PLAYDOH IN THE HOUSE. Then we end up with the lovely stuff all over the entire place. Every square foot. Behind chairs and under tables, on the floor and the wall, squished into the carpets. UGH. Yesterday, unbeknownst to me, Logan brought home a small bag of playdoh from school. He got it out this morning while I was doing dishes. Before I had a chance to remind him that he needed to play with it outside, there were clumps ALL OVER. (Yes, he had help!) I vacuumed the breakfast nook twice and I'm still finding playdoh on the floor. It was in the bathroom. At the front door. On the stairwell. Smashed on all the kitchen chairs, and ground into the living room carpet. Somehow, I suspect that this latest round of playdoh will be with us for a while, even though the bag 'accidently' found a new home in the trash can.

I know, I know. Playdoh's good for fine motor skills. Great actually. That's delightful. I'm happy to let them develop their fine motor skills with long as it's somewhere else. Church is good. Therapy too. A friend's house? Works for me. Just NOT HERE!

Fortunately, the day is over and almost all the playdoh is gone. Tomorrow, the easy-going Mom who lives here will return. And if she's lucky, there won't be any more playdoh on the floors.

The Crucible

The Crucible is the "rite of passage" for all recruits to become Marines. Brent's turn comes March 2, 3, and 4. As a parent involved in an online "support group" for the recruits graduating from MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) San Diego on March 12, I volunteered to coordinate the prayer chain for The Crucible. Essentially, we are looking to have at least one person praying every hour for the recruits in Mike Company (approximately 400 of them) as they work through this culminating exercise. If you want to know more about the specifics of The Crucible, I HIGHLY recommend a book titled Into the Crucible by James Woulfe. It's a fairly quick read, filled with Marine Corps history and a description of each of the challenges the recruits face as they go through The Crucible. Definitely worthwhile in my opinion.

Many of you have asked how you can pray for Brent. As the end of February comes and the Crucible approaches, please pray for the following:

*full health
*supernatural strength to get through the 54 hour exercise
*a spirit of cooperation and teamwork

Also, if you'd like to join our Mike Co. prayer team, either officially or unofficially, you can learn more here. There are some prayers there written by Marine moms and a more specific prayer request list to give ideas. Email me if you want to be part! We'd love to have you. All 400 recruits and their families...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

mind benders

Random conversations today in the car on the way home from speech (about a 15 minute drive!):

Logan: Mom, where will I sleep in heaven?
me: Hmmm...good question, Logan! I'm not sure I know.
Logan: Mom, if Jesus doesn't sleep in heaven, will I have to sleep? I don't want to!

Heavy theology for 5 year olds!!

And that was followed by this from Ryan...

Ryan: Mom, what's 32 plus 40?
Ryan: Oh, wait. Is it 72?
me: Sure is, Ryan. How do you know?
Ryan: Well, 2 plus 0 is 2 and 3 plus 4 is 7. 7 and 2 together like that make 72, so it's easy.
Ryan: If 32 plus 40 is 72, then 34 plus 50 is 84 and 52 plus 24 is 76 and.....(this continued for several minutes. I don't even remember all the combinations he did. But his math was right.)

Not sure I'm going to be able to homeschool this one for long.

Monday, February 8, 2010

see what came in my email??

That handsome recruit on the right is Brent. Blew me away...I didn't expect to get pictures! A visitor to the base took it, talked to Brent and got our email so he could send it to us along with a message from Brent. Sure made our day!

the ongoing medical saga

Life has become a series of never-ending medical appointments! Or at least it seems that way. Today I sat down and reviewed our calendar, adding the new appointments, and came away both overwhelmed by the sheer number of things to be done and grateful for the ability to make things better.

Logan's hearing aids continue to be a frustration. After an appointment a week ago, we're trying yet another program, hoping that this time we'll score and his hearing will be better. His audiologist is wonderful--she's trying all sorts of things to help, and we appreciate it. But he needs a follow-up in 4 weeks or so (one that I forgot to schedule today!) So, another trip back to Children's sometime in early March...

Last Monday Logan had a follow up from his sleep study in December. The news was exactly what we expected, and on April 27 Logan will have a tonsillectomy/partial adnoidectomy/tympanostomy tube replacement surgery. The post op follow up will be May 26.

Then I called to schedule his ophthalmology exam. He still struggles with some fairly significant balance issues, and given his hearing loss, he's a perfect candidate for some oculomotor testing for vestibular balance disorders. He'll go on March 30 for that, and the appointment will take roughly 3 to 4 hours.

Emily stayed home from school this morning not feeling well and came home early from practice this afternoon. One look at her and I called the dr. She's been feeling under the weather for several weeks and it's time to check it out. While I take her there this afternoon, Jim is at another doctor for a sleep study work-up. He's had more and more trouble with fatigue and sleepiness, and he is a good candidate for a sleep study given his snoring. He also needs some other tests done pretty soon to rule out some other issues, so he's not immune to the "doctor thing" going on here.

Friday morning last week, the little guys had their renal ultrasound follow ups after their abnormal scans last year. Logan, fortunately, is healthy and well--his kidneys look awesome. Ryan, however, is still problematic and while he requires nothing further at this point, we will have to continue monitoring him for at least another year. Unless, of course, he becomes symptomatic, in which case we'll need to do further testing. Ugh.

Fortunately Victoria and I are healthy and happy. I think. Somehow, though, I feel like the next several weeks will continue to be a bit overwhelming. Especially when you figure that these things are added into our daily life and work around things like speech therapy and occupational therapy and preschool, not in place of them!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

All better, and a Ryan funny

Doing much better now...thanks for the prayers! Somehow it's easier to assume the worst about someone even when you know you shouldn't. Misunderstanding is now cleared up and everything is good.

Ryan is such a crack-up! Yesterday morning he and I were snuggling and I whispered in his ear "Do you know that I love you?" His answer had me rolling: "I'm tiny. I'm cute. I'm very very smart. What's NOT to love??"

Guess we'd better work on humility.


Working together can be difficult. Working together with people you've never met, using only the internet for communication is more difficult. And when the other person tries to be helpful but it feels like they are overstepping their bounds, it is almost impossible. I'm working on assembling a prayer team for an event toward the end of Brent's boot camp. I volunteered to coordinate the effort--somewhere around 150 families plus various assorted other friends and family. Not easy, but not too hard. Until someone decided to "help out" and update things with information without checking first. Now it's messed up and ugly and I am frustrated. It's definitely a case of "too many cooks spoil the broth." I know her intentions were good but it's still frustrating. And exceptionally irritating. The message received is "You are not competent so I will fix it for you." Ugh.

Pray for my attitude. Today it stinks!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

a glorious day!

Playing in the back yard this morning. Under Brent's old pitchback is a favorite place to hang out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

still here...'s just busy these days, and a bit overwhelming. Between the three guys here (Jim, Logan, Ryan) we have about 10 gazillion medical things going on. Add that to the growing list of daily stuff and it's crazy.

One of these days I'll have a chance to post a pic or two. In the meantime, know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Really, I haven't.