Thursday, March 31, 2011

Friends From the North

When my mom started chemo, one of our fabulous family friends made a point to offer to come and entertain/care for/sit with my mom sometime.  This past weekend was it!  Mary and her daughter, Rachael, made a quick visit from the cold, snowy north.  They were able to combine some fun and sun for a very successful trip.  We went to Galveston one day and checked out the Tall Ship Elissa.  Travis is very into pirates these days so a pirate-looking ship was first rate for him.  (He didn't even seem bothered by the fact that it is really just a cargo ship...)

Here the boys are standing by the water line marks from the storms that have come through Galveston.  The top line is from Hurricane Ike, during Justin's surgery.  I missed the Hurricane of 1900.  That line isn't even in the picture.  I was concerned about getting the boys in the picture and I missed the top line!

Inside the ship in the crew bunk area.  Not very spacious!

Down in the engine room.

Justin wanted to slide down the pole.  He actually held on very well!  I even sent the picture to Miss Penny.

Not to be outdone...

Travis formed quite a bond with Rachael.  She played pirate, fishing, hunting and every other game he could invent. 

Not to be outdone...  This required two hands though!

Of course we had to do a little steering.

Travis thought this was great!

We decided that if we ever had to work on a ship, we would want to be the captain.  Much better sleeping quarters!  And a lounge area included!

The spare cabin wasn't even all that great, but at least it was private.

This picture we took from across the ship.  Justin loved checking everything out.

The whole gang from afar.

And up close.  I love Justin's "I am looking into the sun and I can't see" face.

Inside the museum there was fun stuff to see...

Like cannons!  Just like on pirate ships.  (Did I mention Travis has decided that he wants to be a pirate when he grows up?  What do you do with that one??)

Justin was checking out the cannon and the fun sound it made when you yelled into the barrel.  He cracked himself up!

There was even fisherman's gear for dress up.  The reflectors kind of messed up the picture.

After a bite to eat, we hit the beach!  It was a little chilly (especially the water) but there was no stopping these northern girls from enjoying a little sand and surf!  It reminds me of a picture from when we visited my aunt in Florida.  She is sitting wrapped up in pants and sweatshirt, and the four of us kids were all in bathing suits playing in the sand!  We weren't quite that bad.

Randy and I didn't bring our suits, because we really didn't think the boys would go in the water much beyond knee level.  Silly us!  Both boys enjoyed the water full force, and after a few attempts to acclimate himself, Travis even went wave jumping with Rachael.  Fortunately, she was happy to go in with both boys.

The mark of a perfect Spring Break:  A picture at the beach.  Great memories for sure.

I was trying to hold Justin a little away from me so I wouldn't get wet.  I am not sure why I tried, by this point he had already peed on me!

After the photo session Justin decided to throw the seaweed back into the ocean where it belonged.  It was quite the losing battle.

We had to leave when Justin started turning purple and we knew he wouldn't stay away from the water long enough to warm up.  We wrapped him in a towel and sat him on my mom's lap while we coaxed Travis back in from the water.

We haven't been to Galveston in so long and this trip was perfect.  The fact that my mom felt good enough to go was a huge blessing.  Both boys fell asleep on the way home and after dinner and a movie they tumbled into bed.  Randy and I got a date night out of Mary and Rachael's visit too!


Last fall our church rolled out a new vision statement that focuses on the community and our responsibility to the people around us.  After the DS meeting in January I began thinking more about that idea and my role in the community.  For the past two months it has has been rolling around in my head.  God has taken this in so many different directions that it has been difficult for me to understand.  I am still not sure that the process is complete, but at least I am beginning to grasp what God is trying to get me to understand.

We all live in community.  Not just one community, but a variety of groups that consume differing amounts of time and energy.  That's what has been my focus: time and energy expenditures.   We each only have a limited amount of each and I want to spend each in the best way possible.  The way that honors and pleases God.  I have learned that "good" things aren't necessarily what God wants me to do.  The time that "good" things consume may be at the loss of "better" things, or worse, the "best" things.  It's a process though, to move from "good" to "best".  I don't think God stops me from doing "good" things, but he nudges me onward when it's time to go to the next step.

I really wanted to feel connected to this group.  I cannot explain how much I wanted this for our family.  All of our previous contacts with the DS group in our area have been through the main offices and meetings at the building, which is just too far for us to drive on a consistent basis.  I wanted to spend some energy on this group since it is closer and it feels like I can be more involved.  I wanted to be a part of this community in a more personal way.  But it just didn't seem right.  I asked another DS mom if she wanted to come with us to this group and she said that she had stopped going to meetings because she left the meetings more discouraged than when she arrived.  It made me want to cry because that's exactly what I felt!  I needed to talk to her and ask her why we felt that way because I didn't get it.  I wanted her to tell me what I was feeling because I wasn't sure what or why I was feeling.  It seemed at least like a "better" thing!  But she helped me clarify my thoughts and explain that there is also an aspect of timing in the "good"/"better"/"best" process.  I have never been very patient (don't laugh out loud if you are reading this and you know me that well!) and when something comes up I am ready to jump in with both feet.  This might just be a "wait" kind of thing.

It has taken a while for me to be okay with this.  Because of this inner conflict I have begun to examine the other "communities" in my life, the things that consume time and energy, and it's made me think long and hard about what I do.  I heard once of a women's minister quitting her job, that she did very well, because she realized that she was getting more satisfaction from her job than caring for her family at home.  She had young children who needed her, and she was giving her "best" time to something God called "good" and neglecting her "best" calling at home.  So I am thinking, is that what I am doing in some areas?  I quit going to Bible Study last fall because it is a major commitment of time for my family.  I say "my family" because it takes all of us to get me there.  The planning and organizing begins the night before and even though Randy doesn't physically assist in preparations, he is left to fend for himself so I can make lunches and pack all the bags necessary to make it through all of our stops before we finally make it back home for nap.  It almost feels like my day is half over by the time I collapse in the chair and attempt some level of discussion in Bible Study.  And when I overheard Travis say "Mommy is always in a hurry" it broke my heart.  I felt like I was neglecting the "best" (my family) for "better" (bible study) or maybe even just "good".  I have heard over and over that "your family is your mission" and I can be confident that no matter how many other things come up, if it takes too much away from the family, I know that it is not the "best" thing for me.

Today at therapy when we walked in the door of the office building a man was walking out with a large piece of drywall.  I went back and held the door open for him because it was clear that there was no way he was getting out without major effort.  We continued up to the therapy office and I left the kids in the waiting area while I ran next door to the bathroom.  (We are all friends at therapy!)  When I came out, one of the mothers was waiting to go down the elevator and she stopped me and said, "I just have to tell you what a wonderful boy you have!  He jumped up and held the door open for me and my stroller and he was so polite."  She raved about Travis and asked how old he is.  She was very impressed that a five-year-old would do something like that.  It was a proud mama moment, but I wasn't surprised.  That's the kind of thing that comes from time together.  I don't want to lose that on someone else.  Not because someone else isn't worthy, but because God lent Justin and Travis to Randy and me and after God and Randy, those boys are supposed to be my next priority.  How I decide to make that work is the challenge.  Thank God he promises to help me!

It's an issue every day.  Some days go better than others.  But that's when I thank God for grace and another chance the next day.  I am trying to slow down.  Travis is trying to speed up, and so is Justin!  That makes me smile.  God is so good!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Golden Calf

This morning's lesson (quick version) was on the story of Moses going to Mt. Sinai and the people getting impatient and asking Aaron to make them a golden calf to worship instead.  So then Moses comes down, gets angry, throws and breaks the tablets, grinds up the calf to powder and throws it in the water, and makes the Israelites drink the water.  So we made our own calves out of edible play dough, and then ate them.

Justin really got into this!  He didn't even wait to make the calf. 

He licked the dough to test it.

He did a little smacking and pushing.

And then he dug right in!

Travis took a little while longer to decide how to make his calf.  It took some effort and a little tongue hanging out!

Then it was completed and ready for eating.  He decided that it didn't taste very good.  I had to explain that that was kind of the point...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Busy Spring Days

The weather is beyond gorgeous these days as we are enjoying the very best season in Texas.  The azaleas are already dying off with all the warm weather we are having.  In the midst of all the fun we decided to try a new cookie recipe and for the first time, Justin wanted to lick the spoon!  Travis has always had sole possession of the beaters and the spoons and for the first time, Justin decided he wanted a lick.  So I needed a picture!  Travis wanted to get into the picture too but Justin didn't want anything to do with it.  He pushed Travis away because he thought Travis wanted some of his cookie goodness!


Thursday, March 17, 2011


We are really enjoying our routine these days so we haven't had many big events or accomplishments.  We love just plugging along and basking in our spring weather.

  • Justin is working on the "b" "p" "m" and "t" sounds in speech.  He does them but we are trying to get them to be meaningful.  So Miss Sarah wants him to do "da" when he is "done" eating.  Doing really great!  We are trying to put together some consonants for the words "out" "up" and "more".  he has some success but still very inconsistent.
  • Miss Caroline is raving about Justin!  He did some cutting today and usually he is really rough and tries to rip the paper with the scissors.  But today he was soft and fed the paper through without much help from Caroline.  She gave me the prettiest pieces of yellow construction paper all cut up and not one single tear.  And he is getting really good with holding the spoon with his thumb on the top and scooping beans and keeping it level (so not to spill).  He gives himself thumbs up all the time!
  • I have noticed that Justin's walk is very wide, so Miss Penny is working to get him legs under him a little better.  He can walk on their little balance beam really well and she told us to tape a line on the floor at home for him to practice.  And he is getting better at climbing onto things.  He usually leads with his left leg so we are trying to get him to switch and use his right as well.  Miss Penny has accomplished the most noticeable goals in his therapy (sitting up, crawling, and walking).  He still has to master steps but that's not something people notice as much.  Miss Penny still has lots of goals, but I think it will take longer for Justin to meet them.
  • Travis and Justin spent the day with our friend, Miss Tina, and her two daughters home for Spring Break.  They ate it up!  The girls had so much fun and the boys loved having the undivided attention.  They loved Justin's "secrets".  He whispered in their ears, they whispered back and then they died laughing.  They played pirate and Travis took them to the dungeon.  They were up and down the stairs all morning long.  So much fun!
  • I (heart) spring forward!  Since Travis was born he has always been an early riser.  But when we spring forward he sleeps later for the few days after the change.  Monday he didn't wake up until 7:20!  I am loving it!  I am hoping to get one more late morning out of him.
  • My resolution to get to bed earlier hasn't been going very well.  I am sad to report that instead I have become a coffee drinker.  Arg!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mowing the Dirt

Justin has taken over as the primary lawn mowing assistant of our home.  Ignoring the dirt and dead grass that he is mowing, he does so wonderfully!  It is a great job for him since the ground is so uneven it really works to strengthen his leg muscles.  The weather has been beautiful so we are taking full advantage.  Justin is sporting his new Elmo orthotics and shoes (only 6 stores this time!)  He is also wearing Travis' Lightning McQueen work gloves, which he seeks out when he "works".  And the lawn mower still has the Walmart bag so that it matches Daddy's.  Love the big smile on his face!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pop Had a Birthday

Pop had a birthday last week and we had dinner and pie with them to celebrate.  (There are less leftovers to tempt!)  Justin enjoyed his hamburger and broccoli and filled himself up to the fullest extent of his belly!

After dinner the boys took a bath and played with some new toys that Pop got for them to enjoy.  I am not sure why the birthday boy was giving presents, but Travis didn't mind.  The goggles that Justin wore came with the chain saw and the ones Travis has are from his tool set.  He had to bring them from home because they both needed goggles to protect their eyes from the chain saw.  Justin didn't like the goggles all that much, but Travis made him wear them whenever he wanted to push the button to run the chain saw.  Safety first!

The gun is from when Randy was little.  Justin loved it but he was slightly dangerous given the length!  We had to watch the lamps.

Justin got ready to play with the chain saw so Travis helped him get on his goggles.  Travis always wants to help Justin.  Sometimes even when it's not wanted!  But he can take off Justin's shoes and orthotics, which is a huge help for me and Justin usually is willing.

He had to take off the goggles to see the button!  It was an intensive effort.  But successful!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It's Rodeo Time in Houston!

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo opened this week.  We love going to see the animals and the exhibits.  Oh, and the tractors.  There is always so much more to see than we could possibly fit into one day.  It is great that the boys have a little longer attention span.  Every year we can go a little longer and see a little more.  This year we even managed to watch some of the show events during the day.  We saw the team penning event:  three horses/riders try to pen three cows out of a herd of 30.  The cows are all numbers 0-9 and there are three of each number.  A number is called as they cross a line in the arena and that's the number they have to pen.  It was amazing how fast they can do it and how wily those cows can be!  The boys both loved it. 

But of course, the best part is the tractors.  We learned last year that the school groups arrive early, but if we arrive right when they open we can get about 15 minutes of uncrowded tractor time before they all get there.  But we were foiled in our quest when we learned that they had moved the tractors to a different location.  So instead we checked out the chickens, turkeys, rabbits, cows, longhorns, pigs, and goats before continuing our quest.

This is in the birthing area.  They have pigs, sheep and cows who are due to give birth during the rodeo.  This was a sheep who had given birth to two beautiful black lambs the day before.  Justin thought it was pretty cool!

These are chicks that hatched within the past day or two.

Here is Elsie's calf, Beauregard.  (You know, Borden milk.)  Justin was so sweet petting him.

Neither boy was all that fascinated by the petting zoo.  And with all the "waste" on the ground, I kept running behind Justin to make sure he didn't fall down in anything.  This picture took about 5 minutes to create.  And you notice the thrill on their faces.

This is Miss Moo.  Justin wouldn't have anything to do with her.  Travis reluctantly posed for a picture.

Then we headed outside for the "Fun on the Farm" exhibit.  The boys each got a basket and then they went along a course.  They "fed" chickens and collected a wooden egg, they "milked" a cow and received a small carton of milk, they picked a peach from a tree, and they "planted" and harvested vegetables.  That's what Travis and Justin are doing here.  They were given a plastic seed "vegetable" and then they had to go find the plot that had the vegetable matching their seed.  They dug a hole, put in the seed, watered it, and then harvested a plastic version of their vegetable for their basket.  At the end of the course they "sold" their items to market by sorting them into baskets.  They received a dollar that they could then use to to buy a snack (capri sun, rice krispie treats, crackers, etc.) at the store.  The amazing thing to me was in the sorting section.  Scanning and sorting is one the the big things that Justin works on in OT and so I was kind of excited to see a "real-life" example.  He rocked!  It was tough for him because there was a mad scramble by all the kids to get all their items in the right baskets so Justin had to look between legs and be careful not to get knocked over.  And in spite of the obstacles, he get everything in the right basket without any help.  It was a burst-my-buttons kind of moment for sure.

Justin digging his hole.

Planting the seed

And then it was on to the tractors.  Unfortunately, because the outside stuff opens later than the inside stuff, there was no window of opportunity for extra tractor time.  We did sit in both tractors, but we had to wait in line. 

Justin really got into driving the tractor this year.  (They put flat screens TVs in the front windshield so that it looks like you are driving through a field.) 

It's getting to be a tradition for a picture in the tractor tire.  Either Travis is growing or the tire's shrinking...

Here's last year...

And 2009...

It was Justin's first picture standing up and we weren't sure what he would do, but he just grabbed right on and stood up! 

This was Justin last year...

The boys checked out a few engines and we watched the pig races again.  Since we just did our physicals, we avoided the fried food area (no fried oreos...sniff!)

But we did make one last stop in the "soil" area of Agventure.  The boys dug for earthworms.  Travis was hesitant at first, but then he got into it.

And I had to hold onto Justin with both hands; he was ready to nose dive right in!

It was worth it, he found one!

All in all, a fabulous family outing.  Highly recommended.   We could have stayed much longer, but nap was calling.  Another family event!