Monday, September 28, 2009

I Found Myself in My Son

Everyone always says that Travis is a little Randy. There is never any doubt whose he is because he looks so much like his father. People ask me if that makes me sad that there is nothing of me in his appearance. I have to say that I absolutely LOVE it because I think Randy is the handsomest man I know, and of course I want my son to resemble him. I have no fears that Travis is not my child, since I felt every single contraction of the 15 hour labor I experienced to bring him into this world. We joked when Travis was born that we were going to draw a goatee on him to make the resemblance even more pronounced. Of course, we didn't, but there still is no doubt that Travis belongs to the DeCarlo family.

So this weekend we found the first characteristic that is unmistakeably from my gene pool: We attended a family wedding this weekend and knowing that Travis is a cakeaholic, we described the event as a "party where you get cake". So when we arrived we checked out the cakes. They looked delicious and Travis was prepared to skip the main course and head straight for the cake. I convinced him that it wasn't our choice and we would have to wait for the lady in the white dress to cut it before we could indulge. The incentive all through the meal was the cake, and as soon as he finished his last bite, he was ready for them to cut the cake. We were in the first row watching the cake cutting, and I think we must be in just about every picture.

And then after they cut the cake, the DJ began the music and the dancing. It took about 2 songs for them to prepare the cake for us to eat, but by that time Travis was over the cake, and he just wanted to dance! And dance he did, slow songs, fast songs, line dancing, polka, he even raised the roof a little! I kept asking him if he wanted to eat cake or dance, and all he wanted to do was dance. A family member asked if we wanted him to watch the boys so Randy and I could dance, but Travis wasn't letting anyone cut in. He cried when we told him it was time to go home to bed (well past bedtime). He wanted to stay for the whole party.

I have always loved to dance. I wish Randy liked to dance too. Or at least tolerate it. But I guess if there has to be one thing...

So now I have a new dance partner!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

OT Evaluation

We had Justin's OT evaluation yesterday, and it went beyond well! Justin did some things that I had no idea he could do! Sneaky little bugger! Miss Caroline, Justin's new OT, ran him through her battery of tests and he did a great job of showing off for her. I know he can put things in and take them out of large bowls and containers, but she gave him a spoon to put in one of those small dixie cups like people sometimes have in their bathrooms, and he did it and then "stirred" with the spoon. I had no idea! It is amazing to watch his mind work. Then she gave him a board with holes and some short pegs, maybe 2 inches long, to insert into the holes. The pegs were too short, but apparently markers are the same diameter and he was able to hold the marker and put it in the hole! It was just big enough for the hole, so you had to get it just right for it to fit, and he did it! I wanted to jump up and down for him. Talk about barely contained excitement, this was it! Wow! She then warned me not to get too caught up with numbers, but her initial evaluation placed him at about 13 months of age. In May, when we went to the DS Clinic, they tested him at about 8-9 months of ability, with 13 months of chronological age. That means that in 4 months he has made about 4 months of progress!!! I cannot shout that loud enough! How beyond cool is that??!!

And today at PT with Miss Penny, she had the little suction cup balls stuck to the mirror up high for him to grab when he was sitting on a little bench and he pulled himself up and reached for them. He pulled himself up to standing with very little help from Miss Penny! Then he got bored and made faces at himself and licked the mirror. He also played by himself on his knees next to the mat and when he dropped a toy he bent down and picked it up by himself, with all the right movements and torso rotations. Every day is visible progress. He was playing with a toy and then he wanted one further away, and you could see him reach and realize that the first toy was in his way and that he would need to move it (which he did) to get to the other one. Justin is going to be so addicted to praise since we all cheer for his successes multiple times a day. I am glad he loves to clap!

The End of Dishwasher Appreciation and Musings Over a Less Than Clean Floor

The parts arrived for our dishwasher (none too soon!) and the repair man came and repaired the dishwasher yesterday. Travis, Justin, and I ate some raisins and watched the repair process. Travis thoroughly enjoyed the show and was quick to show the repair man all of his tools. When I was changing another dirty diaper, I heard some commotion in the kitchen and hurried back in time to hear the repair man ask Travis to go find me and ask for some old towels. Never good when water is involved. He had turned the water back on under the sink and a hose to the water filtration system had popped off and sprayed water everywhere. He quickly turned it off, but it took several minutes to soak up the mess. (The cabinet under the sink is now spotless!) Tragedy was averted and the dishwasher is now good as new. I plan on running the first post-repair load of dishes shortly.

I had every intention of mopping the floor last night, especially after taking out the trash and finding that the water had rounded the corner and filled the pantry. But it didn't happen. Perhaps a good thing, since Travis dropped a bowl of ranch dressing on the floor when he was clearing his dishes from lunch today.
What is it about the kitchen floor (or really any floor) that totally makes it attract spills, stains, crumbs, hair, etc.? Is it just because of gravity or is there some other force? Given that Justin licks the floor in the kitchen every day, I could spend my entire life ensuring his health by keeping the floor clean. I have decided that I will keep it chunk-free, and the rest I will have to leave to God. Maybe we should get a dog. Or maybe rent one. Can you do that?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Justin's First Ride

On a whim I decided to try Justin on this car that has been Travis' favorite for so long. I wasn't sure he would be able to support himself without my help, but he did that and so much more! I never even had to touch him once I put him on the car, and he knew exactly what to do! He grabbed the steering wheel and turned it back and forth. He tried to push the buttons for the music after he saw me do it. He even bounced up and down on it, and never lost him balance once. I was amazed. He really enjoyed it too. His repertoire is rapidly expanding, so I will need to be more creative and test him with different things.

This one is my very favorite. His eyes look so blue (the outfit helps!) and he looks like I caught him having fun!

This looks like a teenager hanging out saying, "Check out my ride!"

You see how his toes are curled under a bit. That's one of our problems when he stands. He wants to stand on his toes curled under. It's difficult to get him on his flat foot. We are working on it though!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Justin's First Haircut

I broke down and took Justin for a haircut yesterday. I admit that he has been needing it for a while. I have been known to chastise my friends for not taking their sons for haircuts when they clearly needed it, but now I understand their feelings. I will not elaborate because it would only come out sounding like an excuse (which is what it would be!)

Justin has had a major comb-over thing going, as well as a tail, so it was time for some sort of intervention. His hair was a confusion of styles, and none of them were working for him. His hair is just so soft and fine, I hated to cut it off. But he does look more handsome, I will admit, so it was a good choice.

I had to hold him, so please forgive the pictures. I was leaning as far back away from him as I could, without letting him go. He didn't like the idea at all, but the hairdresser was very patient with him. There is no way I have enough hands to keep his head still and wave sharp scissors around him, so we appreciated the professional help with that! It was another milestone for our little boy, growing up and everything!

Monday, September 14, 2009


About a year ago there was a comic in the newspaper in which a little girl came to her mother and said that she couldn't find her pencil sharpener. The mother said, "Did you look in the desk?" "No." "Did you look in your backpack?" "No." "Did you look in your room?" "No." Exasperated, the little girl said, "I didn't say I looked for it, I just said that I couldn't find it!"

I couldn't help but see the spiritual connection: How many times do I cry out, "Where are you God?" when I haven't even bothered looking for him. We have a Bible study leader who begins each class by asking us to share with each other where we have seen God during the previous week. I never really thought about that because I had always been taught that God is everywhere, so why should you look for him? Of course he is right there. But my life started changing when I purposefully looked for God to see where he was working. The more I looked, the more I saw. And the more I saw, the more encouraged I was. God doesn't just exist, He works. And when He works, it's awesome!

Let me tell you that the first time I "saw" God I was driving with a screaming baby Travis and I turned the corner and saw the most beautiful sunset. There just aren't a lot a beautiful sunsets in this part of Texas, and having children, I don't find myself out of the house around dusk very often, so this was beyond special. Nature is one of the simplest ways for me to see God, since he created all of the beauty that surrounds us. There's something about the display of colors, patterns, scents, and designs that cannot be boiled down to chance. They reflect a Color-creator, Pattern-maker, and loving Designer.

I told you that I had been working on a schedule for our family. When I made a list of all the things we need to do each week, I seem to run out of time before I run out of tasks. Some days seem worse than others, just like I am sure you feel sometimes. But sometimes tasks seem to be accomplished in less time than I would have anticipated, leaving me less harried and not so short with the boys. That is a time that I see God. I know that God has to be working along side of me, washing dishes (see previous post...) cleaning toilets (I live with boys!) and preparing meals. And I know that in doing those things I am honoring God, so I am happy to be doing them.

God answers prayers in crazy ways sometimes, and if I don't look for those unusual answers, I can miss them. When I wanted more family time, he planned our staycation this summer. It wasn't our plan, but it was God's plan, and it worked out so well. I was looking for some time for planning and time alone with Him, and he arranged my work schedule to have nice layovers for us to spend together. Not what i would have thought, but again, so perfect! A friend mentioned that she likes to go through the listing of Bible study offerings to see what she wants to study. Now she says that it seems like it's more of what God wants to teach her.

I certainly would never say that I see everything God wants me to see. That's become part of my prayers: to see God in whatever place, working in whatever way, heading whatever direction he wants me to see. It's a lofty goal, so I am just grateful for the glimpses I receive. I am a work in progress!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Recently I have been feeling very thankful for my washing machine. I just love that I can dump in dirty clothes and they come out clean with minimal effort. I think that has to make laundry one of my favorite chores because it really doesn't take a lot of time or effort. I do not enjoy folding or ironing, but that's another story. Anyway, so just about every week I pray a quick prayer of thanksgiving for my washing machine. Evidently the dishwasher has been feeling under appreciated because this week it decided to quit. Cold turkey. So I have been washing dishes this week by hand, and expressing overdue thanks to my dishwasher. I have about 2 more weeks to go before the part comes in for it to be fixed. I am hoping by then we will be even.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Another Visit to the Audiologist

Justin had another hearing test this morning, and he passed with flying colors! I wasn't sure what to expect since the last test he had was an ABR, for babies who cannot give a physical response to sound. I was hoping he was old enough for a real test, but I wasn't sure how they would be able to judge his hearing. Well, I am thoroughly impressed! I held him on my lap in a room with speakers in the corners through which the audiologist spoke and made sounds in different pitches and volumes, and then when Justin looked one way or another, a little stuffed bear would play the drums and light up in a box above the speaker. At his age she said that she usually just focuses on one side, so as not to confuse him. So she mostly used the speaker on his right side and he was great! I nearly teared up watching him turn to the sounds, when it was hard to hear, like a low pitch or volume. I wasn't sure he would be able to hear it, and he noticed it right away! She even switched some to the other side and he was able to turn his attention to that side immediately. She gave such a good report, and now we are released from the ENT unless something else comes up. We should plan for yearly hearing tests, but she really said that between Randy, me and the speech therapist we should pick up anything related to his hearing. And Travis did so well being patient and playing quietly during the test. I love visits like this!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Oh, What a Difference a Year Makes

This morning during speech therapy as the clock ticked to 9:00 am I got a little lump in my throat as I recalled what we were doing last year on this day at this time. I handed my little boy over to an anesthesiologist and watched the doors swing shut behind them as they prepared to fix Justin's heart. So different from today! We have made so much progress and I have to give God all the glory because I know that he is the Great Physician and the Mighty Healer who has held Justin is his strong arms the entire time. We weren't able to see Justin until about 8 pm that night and when we did, this is what we saw:

Tonight at not quite 7 pm, this is what we saw:

Our little man with quite some personality! The scar is fairly faint and we barely even notice it anymore. No ill effects from the surgery and such a great prognosis every time we visit the cardiologist. And now, he is close to crawling. I would say that I want that to be my Christmas present this year, but I think it will be before then, so I don't want to waste my present too early! Thank you all, for a fabulous year post-surgery. We are picking up steam as a family, and we are not looking back. Only to recall the faithfulness and steadfastness of the Lord Almighty. He is so good!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Napping with Daddy

I had to nap on Sunday afternoon after getting in from a red eye flight early in the morning before church. And when I nap in the afternoon, I let Travis nap with me in our bed. Usually he wakes before I do and I have to kick him out of bed so I can keep napping. And that's what happened this day. So when I finally woke up I wandered into the living room, and this is what I found:

Too cute! I love pictures of my boys all together. And it's just like I often find them: Travis asleep, or just waking, and Justin rearing to go.

A Few Things

I went to work this weekend, and it was a good trip. Randy met me at the door Sunday morning when I returned with the update from my absence:
  • Justin got another tooth! That makes 14, and about 6 in the past month. He is not too far behind Travis at this age. Randy does a nightly "tooth check" because Justin has had so many so close to coming through. It's not Justin favorite part of the bedtime routine, and I don't dare stick my fingers in Justin's mouth since he bites HARD. So that is saved for Daddy.
  • The cat puked on the bed spread. Excellent.
  • This one I didn't even have to wait until I got home to find out. Travis tattled on Daddy, when I called on the way home. When we mow the lawn, we put Justin in a laundry basket with some toys. He threw them out and he had to reach out to get them, and he tipped himself over and skinned his little nose. Randy said he barely cried, but it looks like he has a bloody nose. Now I guess I have to make the effort to get out the whole pack and play.
  • And the biggest thing was another first for Justin. I am so happy that Randy was able to see this because dads tend to miss so many firsts. I am glad this was something special he could have and he will be able to remember. Ok, so here it is: Justin sat up in bed all by himself! He has never sat up without help ever! Randy walked in and Justin started clapping for himself, like he was saying, "Look at me! Look what I did!" All of us have been working diligently on this, and if we get him started, he can sit up most of the way, but he never actively chooses to sit up on his own. So this was amazing! Of course, he hasn't repeated his feat, but we know he can do it now, so now there is no slack!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Water Play Day and a School Visit

This week has been a little crazy. We had a lot of different directions to go, and timing and planning were of utmost importance. The kids' car seats have been in 5 different cars, and today I realized that each of the four members of our family were in different places for about 2 hours. That just seems odd when the kids are so young, and they don't go to day care.

Yesterday the kids went to playgroup at the fountains close to our house, and Randy and I went to visit a potential school for Justin. The kids had way more fun than we did. Both boys had a great time, and I was sad that I couldn't be there to see their faces. Fortunately I have some fabulous friends who took some pictures for me. It was one of those water pads where the water shoots up at random times. Justin had so much fun that he had to be taken out and warmed up a little before he could go back in. The water would shoot up and he would get wet and then he would look down in the hole to see where the water went. Too cute! And Travis figured out he could put his bucket on the holes and when the water came up it would send the bucket about 2 feet into the air before it fell off. He would clap and jump up and down. I can see him doing that. Here's some pictures my friend sent within hours of the playgroup. I am beyond impressed. It would have taken me...a week? Maybe longer.

And the school visit? It was a private school for kids with special needs. It is a good school, definitely, but not for us right now. We are still in the information-gathering stage, and this was something we wanted to check out. Worth the visit, but not the right place for Justin now. I am glad we went for the knowledge, but I think we'll keep doing what we're doing for now. It helps ease doubt a little. There's always the concern that maybe there is something better, or maybe we should be doing more. But both Randy and I are convinced that this is not a "something better" that we should pursue now.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September Prayer Requests

I thought I would pass along some specific things you can be praying about for our family this month:

  1. We are working with Justin to pick up and eat foods that require more chewing. This includes even things like peas and bits of cooked carrot. He likes things when they are pureed, but not when he has to chew them himself.
  2. Justin is making great strides in physical therapy, and we want him to continue working on his leg strength to start crawling. Please pray for his persistence (and ours!) to meet this goal.
  3. We are having a tough time controlling Travis' volume when he talks. We talk about the inside voice, outside voice, and church voice, but he's having a difficult time using them appropriately. Not completely unreasonable to expect a toddler to be loud, but he scares Justin when he talks too loudly. Please pray for him to catch on to this quickly.
  4. I am doing overnight trips at work for the first time in 3 years. This means that I will be away from Justin for a whole calendar day each trip, the first time in his life. It will be tough on me, but I think the time to myself will be very valuable. Please pray that I use it wisely to be reinvigorated when I return.
  5. We am trying to establish a schedule that we can live with for our family. I keep thinking that the busyness will not last and if we can just make it a little longer, we will have a break. Hasn't happened yet. We want to make certain that we use our time as a family intentionally.