THIS IS BIG.

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We’ve hit a milestone, dear reader.

Now I should warn you, that in my extended family we have a habit for good or ill of quoting from movies we’ve seen together at random times.  Sometimes these are carefully staged, such as the letter I still have somewhere from my sister (then 15) during my freshman year at college, wherein the entire letter is movie quotes modified for the situation.  We do this at the darndest times too, usually if a situation looks too sentimental, as a way of coping, or to “trivialize the momentous and complicate the obvious.”  It has gotten us into mischief sometimes, and I crave pardon because I’m going to subject you to a small example of this tonight.

Tomorrow, someone has a big birthday.

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And just going through the pictures is enough to make me want to cry. 🙂

Tomorrow, we’re the parents of a TEENAGER.

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No way, right?

“Now I see in your eyes, the same fear, that would take the heart of me! A day may come, when [we really regret that the teen years are here], but it is not this day.

“This day, we [celebrate!]”

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. MAN!

I’m not scared of the teen years.  We all survived our own, and so did our parents.  It’s going to have its ups and downs, and maybe more downs than ups, but what good would it do to fret about it?  It’s not going to stop the clock! 😉  So no, I’m not afraid.

((Cue Yoda: “You will be. You will be.” 😉 ))

Yes, I know, I’m incurably optimistic and naive.  I’m facing uncharted waters full of breakers and other things-not-so-good.  But you know what? We’ve been facing uncharted waters all the time since that evening of December 5, 2003, when a sort of normal pregnancy went suddenly very not-normal and things happened so fast we didn’t know what our lives would look like the next day.  We were getting the no good really awful terrible news. Life was not turning out how we thought. But he came. He began by beating all the odds, and he’s still at it. Life may not have followed our original plan, but a much better one.  Trooper needed us, and we needed him.  We are all the better for him.  And God has a way of getting folks through uncharted waters, so it’s all good.  It’s all grace.

Happy 13th Birthday, our Trooper. We love you so much, you crazy, funny, sarcastic teenager. You still light our world with your smile and our days with your laughter.  It is an honor and privilege to be your parents.  You mean the world to us, big guy.  We bless and thank God for the first 13 years of your life, and we look forward to sharing the teen years with you.

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Happy Birthday, Trooper!

It’s just Littlest and I awake right now.  The rest of the house is sleeping late, mainly because there’s been a lot of sniffles and coughing overnight. The whole family has been down with this crud, one by two, ever since Thanksgiving break ended.  The kids wanted an extended break time but this was not the way to obtain it. 😉

Last night my dad and I assembled a fitness trampoline downstairs.  It’s Trooper’s big birthday gift to help with sensory during the day.  Haus Meister and I are going to put off his special trip to the climbing gym until he’s feeling better, but there will be online shopping for climbing shoes.  My parents had asked me to make sure Trooper e-mailed them his birthday wish list, so one day I sat down with him and opened the “mail” app on his iPad.  It’s the family address, of course, so I got everything ready and told him it was time to type.  He picks out the letters one by one, sometimes grabbing my finger to type if he’s in a hurry (I let my hand go limp so he is the one guiding) and sometimes he picks them out with his own finger while I lightly keep a touch on his wrist to remind him to focus.

I would like climbing shoes for my birthday.  Mine are too tight. 

And then he was done, but I was impressed once again that he realized the need and wanted to express it.  He’s sharp as a tack, that boy, and a little snarky sometimes, too.  One time during these little typing sessions I began to wax poetic about how wonderful it was that he could communicate so well with us now, and was there anything he wanted to tell me right this minute?

Be quiet.

Followed up with his cheesy grin so I’d know he was joking. HA!

He hasn’t been horseback riding now for about eighteen months, and he doesn’t miss it.  After his tenth birthday, the instructor we liked switched jobs, and then he was passed around through instructors who really didn’t have a way to challenge him and couldn’t be bothered to push him harder. The Special Olympics he was in?  I didn’t mention it at the time but they hadn’t even made it possible for him to guide the horse himself.  Crumbs, the terminology escapes me, but there were no reins for Trooper to hold himself. As his grandmother had been taking him to his lessons, she had said how much nicer it was that he was learning to use the reins himself.  I never got to see that. They put the rope on for the instructor to pull the horse around the arena, and Trooper just sat up there for the ride. Afterward his new instructor changed times to something less manageable for us, so we called it quits.

By then, he’d found his new sport.

I like climbing better than riding, he typed once. They never let me lead the horse. I was always being pulled around. With climbing, the auto belay means I can do things myself. I like to get up the wall. It makes me strong.  I really like it when I can get to the top of the wall.  I feel like I can do anything.

And when he’s not on auto-belay? His Dad has his back.

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Happy 12th Birthday to our high climbing Trooper. Our inspiration and our hero.

And if you need to remember how he almost didn’t make it, how he was supposed to ruin our lives, and how happy we are that he’s here? 

 

 

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} The September Catch-Up Edition

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I am sorry to have neglected ye Olde Blog, but honestly, if I had to sit and write out my thoughts over this past month in something long enough to count (not a Facebook update, for instance), it’d have gone something like this:

Oh please let this house sale go through. Please let this house sale go through. Please don’t let the house inspector go bonkers because the house is 60yrs old.  Please let the buyer’s FHA appraisal pass. What if none of this happens? Please let this go through.

In other words, I still have much to work in the Faith and Trust Department. By the grace of God and no doubt the intercession of a few saints, the Old Haus will likely close next week.  It could have been tomorrow, but the flood insurance transfer got stuck in paper limbo.  The house inspector was pretty merciful (there were a couple of lines that had Haus Meister and I laughing–like how the railing attached to the house next to the back steps might fall off and hit a car?!). The appraisal passed with no repairs needed.  The buyer still wants the house and didn’t ask for additional repairs beyond a few small things recommended in the inspection. A far cry from the offer we had to reject in 2014– Mr.-You’re-paying-my-closing-but-I-also-want-you-to-pay-15K-in-upgrades-and-while-I’m-at-it-let’s-give-you-4k-less-than-the-previously-agreed-price. I’m sure he has a name, but that’s how I recall him, bless his heart.

I need to work on Charity, too….

So I’m relieved mixed with anxious (we still have six days til closing) mixed with a little sad.  We will never call that place home again now, really. It won’t be ours.  It will be someone else’s cobbled walkway and someone else’s yellow elm tree and someone else’s familiar creaks in the old floor.  On the other hand, it will be someone else’s mortgage. And we can return to fixing up the lovely house we live in now. Not a bad plan, that.

Pretty

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Our pretty little girl on her 7th Birthday.  She picked out the dress, the tiara, and the boots.  It is good to be 7, and a Princess.

Happy

Everyone in the family who is kindergarten age on up participated in the Mudstache Run, an obstacle course/race benefiting our Trail Life troop here in the area.  IMG_3601

Princess and Dino were in the first race, a 0.5mile course.  Princess is ahead of Dino, her bright flowered headband blending into the shirt of the person in front of her.  Dino is running in his John Deere boots.  We couldn’t find his sneakers before the race.  Keeping it real, here!

Rascal was too fast for me to take a picture.  He and his best friend ran the 1 mile course.

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Here I am, huffing and puffing behind Sunshine who ran the Adaptive Race (also 0.5 mi).  She enjoyed herself so much that she ran the course two and a half more times. I also need some work in the Running Department.

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Haus Meister ran with Trooper in the Adaptive Race, too. Trooper and Sunshine both came in first for their groups.  Princess came in second in her age group, and the other two boys did a fine job and are already planning to medal next year. 😉

Funny

Ben Hatke’s latest, Little Robot, is a huge hit around here.  I kept finding children reading it at various times in various places.

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Real

Well, we did something bold last month.  We signed up to have our picture taken for the parish directory.  I’m pleased to say it turned out well, and here’s a picture of a picture of the family!

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So in this year’s installment, Dino ISN’T wearing a hat, everyone is FACING FORWARD, and mostly smiling.  Miss M did not like the way the photographer was trying to get her to smile and the only way to convince her not to jump on my lap was to hold her as I was doing. Sunshine insisted on bringing her ragged “BabyDoll” inside and we decided not to fight that battle as we didn’t know how she’d do with the picture taking anyway. Fortunately she’s holding the doll’s face against her and that’s good because the week before she’d colored it purple and the last thing I wanted to do in my Christmas letter is to explain that my daughter is not in the habit of asphyxiating her dolls.  Just coloring them.

Words from Trooper

Before Christmas I had an inspiration (thank you, Guardian Angel!): instead of having Trooper practice handwriting with random words out of a textbook, I would verbally ask him questions and see if he would respond.

And he did.

So every day we practice and you can see the joy and relief he feels to finally tell us the thoughts in his head. In the following “conversations,” I am speaking to him and he is writing. Sometimes he gives a lengthy answer, and sometimes he gives the monosyllabic response of the 11yr old boy who would really rather not talk right now. 😉

Me: what’s something you want me to make for you?

Trooper: Mac n cheese

(Go figure)

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Me: Do you think you want to drive a car someday?

Trooper: yes

ME: what kind?

Trooper: truck

ME: a little pickup truck?

Trooper: yes

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Me: Is there a question you’d like to ask me today?

Trooper: How do you spell Indianapolis?

Me: (blinks) um…like that.

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Trooper practices typing by emailing his grandparents. One day he began instructing my dad as to what type of yogurt is best. We have a running family joke that Trooper missed our recent bout of stomach virus–and past ones–by a daily quart of plain Dannon.

Trooper: I like yogurt. You will too. Just the plain kind, not the silly kind. The silly kind has fruit in it.

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Me: You’re going to see Mr. R (his wonderful speech therapist) today. Would you like to tell me about him?

Trooper: Mr R is my friend and my helper.

And yesterday I asked him something that had been on my mind for years. The answer is what apraxia is like for the boy who has had to live with it.

ME: when you were real little you tried to say some words and then stopped. Do you remember why you stopped?

HIM: I stopped because I couldn’t think of the way to get my words out.

ME: But you had the thoughts, the words all the time?

HIM: yes

Hilarious or heart wrenching, I love these conversations. I love not having to guess what he’s thinking! Because sometimes I have guessed wrong, I’ve found…except about the pickup truck. 😉

{P, h, f, r} Blogaversary Edition

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Good evening, dear reader!  The cyberfolk at WordPress remind me that today is my blogaversary.  I’ve been blogging six years! It’s hard to believe in a way, but then, Princess was a mere five months old at the time, so there we have it.  Goodness, that means half the children have “grown up” on the blog.  You’ll see the announcement for Sunshine’s arrival on down.  I seriously need to back up the information here on print or something.  Any clues how?

Meanwhile life goes on around here. 🙂 I have made terrific progress with the Armas sweater, now being on row 18.  I was on row 37 when the first sweater disappeared so I seem to be less plagued with gremlins this time around.  But yesterday the main thing on my mind was the fact that I had a dentist appointment, and that rather threw a pall over things until it was over, and it was quite late when I recalled it was Yarn Along day, so I’ll have to post progress next week.

Pretty

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The oratory corner dressed back up for Ordinary Time.

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Different outfits, different hairdos, but they all love Sleeping Beauty.  And probably still Prince Philip, too.

Happy

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Trooper at the indoor climbing gym.  This guy is amazing.  I say that all the time, but dang it, he is.  Still surpassing the doctors’ expectations at 11.  “He’ll probably always be slower than his brothers,” we were warned.  In some physical ways, that’s true.  That’s the cerebral palsy.  But academically…. academically… HE HAS CAUGHT UP WITH RASCAL. Do you see that? He’s only a year behind his chronological peers.  DO YOU SEE THAT?  I’m about to cry. We’re so proud of this boy.

Funny

Whew.  Getting emotional there.

Ok, so total subject change.  Here’s some things I found on the Internet.

I wanted to upgrade our repertoire of classical music so I sat down in the iTunes store and hunted out some of the composers we’ve studied this semester (Bach and Handel. Mozart starts next week followed by Haydn, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky).  In my perusal I came across this album cover, and I confess it amused me.

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Then we recently downloaded an extension of the My Playhouse app that the little kids enjoy, called My Playhouse School.  Of course, it’s a model of a public school, and the kids have fun playing school in a different setting. Particularly the chemistry room, where you can “add” liquids to a beaker with interesting effect.  What I noticed, almost disturbingly, was that the default chemistry teacher looks like that guy from ‘Breaking Bad.’ Not that I’ve seen any episodes–I haven’t, but I’ve seen enough posters on Netflix and etc.  But do you see it, too?

photo 4  Oh hi there, photobombing Sunshine! 😉  Anyway, I know not all bald guys with goatees resemble Mr. Breaking Bad, but maybe it’s that gloomy furrowed brow.  Anyway….

Real

I had the dishes done, the sink scrubbed, then turned to make sure the table had been cleared…

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Big nope.

An answer

I’m trying to coherently write on a weighty subject while attending to the whims of a sleepy teething baby (whose method of dealing with teething is simply to keep awake).  Please forgive all bad writing and mistakes. 🙂

Back in December, Sunshine had an MRI scan done to check for any possible unexplained reason for her speech delay and ASD symptoms.  It always seemed to us that there was something eluding us, some reason why she was so barely below her milestones.  It wasn’t always enough to alarm, except mainly in speech. When we took her to speech therapy, the thought was that perhaps it was her hearing.  Doctor’s referrals and three tests later, her hearing is pretty normal.  Then we managed a waiting list to see the developmental pediatrician, who ordered the MRI.

Today she called with the result.  There is a mild abnormality in the front left lobe of our daughter’s brain.  It would be what affected her speech development, and it happened during her time in utero.  How or exactly when is uncertain; except for the flu the day I went into labor, it was a routine healthy pregnancy.  “This happens more often than people realize,” the doctor reassured me.  She said we’d discuss this further at our follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks but we could expect an occasional check in the future to see how her brain progressed and just see what our Sunshine can do.  That was that.

I took it okay at first.  After all, it was an answer to our question about her delays.  And then my chest tightened and I could hardly breathe.  I wanted to sit somewhere quiet and think about this, but I couldn’t. There was too much going on.  I’ve just been calmly told our daughter had brain damage before she was born and in four hours we’re throwing the first birthday party for her and her brother with some relatives, Haus Meister’s back is hurt from a muscle pull, and the kids haven’t cleaned up that mess like I asked them…. And all the while wondering how this happened and whether I could have prevented it.  How to explain it to people? What to do next? Little by little I began to piece things back together.  After all, Trooper had a much worse prognosis the day they told us about his Grade 3 IVH (a significantly greater issue).  These days he’s doing multiplication and division in his head! And really, did today’s news change anything? No. It just made it all click. Sunshine still makes her own progress, and everyone sees improvement with her as the months pass.  She names shapes and colors.  She can count up to 30. She calls me “Mom” now, and she didn’t do that last Christmas (2013). 

The day went on regardless and then Haus Meister came home from work with the birthday cake in tow.  He had been home for lunch when the call came, and just seeing him again brought me out of my tangled thoughts.  That happens a lot, I confess.  He’s my voice of reason. 😉  I realized again that there was nothing we could have done to prevent it.  I was pretty healthy and no one saw a problem during that pregnancy.  Sunshine is still our sweet, bouncy, enthusiastic girl with a zest for life and zero fear. She’s blooming at her own pace, but always there has been progress.  She’s never lost anything she’s gained.  I could breathe again, and enjoy the party.

Tonight Sunshine received an 18″ doll for her birthday.  It’s a generic one, not an American Girl doll like Princess’ was, mainly because I do not trust Sunshine to refrain from cutting the doll’s hair.  I do not trust Sunshine to refrain from cutting her own hair. But to Sunshine it was perfect.  Her Grandma made a dress and kerchief for the doll to match the heroine of Sunshine’s favorite cartoon. Sunshine recognized that instantly and carried the doll around the rest of the evening.  She danced with it, sang with it, introduced it to “Rose” (Princess’ retired Felicity doll), and then Sunshine tucked it into bed with her at bedtime.  She wouldn’t have done this last year, either. When I replaced the kerchief on the doll’s head, Sunshine said, “Thank you, Mom,” and had the doll give me a kiss. I treasured it.

So again what does this mean for the future? Just that we know what she’s working hard to work around now. 🙂 And as always we’ll give her the best we have in us–unconditional love, and a helping hand or two.

Sisters and their dolls....

Sisters and their dolls….

masha

 

Pause for a prayer or two

Oh there’s so much I want to write about here. Trooper’s improvements over the year…. our Advent decorations…. Littlest’s first tooth…. but tonight those things fell into the background when I read the news that the Lenaburgs need our prayers.

Mary and Jerry and their son Jonathan have been caring for their Courtney for 22 years.  Courtney’s time with them can “now be measured in days.” Mary’s blog has been a real inspiration for me these past four or five years as I’ve followed her stories of the ups and downs, the joys, light, sorrows, and glories of being a special needs mom.

Courtney took a turn for the worse around September, not long after her 22nd birthday.  Her parents hosted a big bash for the birthday and asked all the blog readers and Facebook followers to send a card.  Rascal and Princess complied and ever since we’ve been keeping them in our prayers before school.

Won’t you please join us now as we keep vigil with them as their dear girl prepares to pass to Heaven?