Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Eggstravaganza!

This year our church decided to have their Easter egg hunt of the Saturday before Easter.  I had to work, so I missed the festivities.  But I heard it was super fun!  They had a small bounce house for the little kids and Justin loved it.  He did his crazy break dancing bottom spin and took out a few other kids.

Then there was the Easter egg hunt.  Justin would find one and then sit down to open it up and get all excited and want Randy to see it before he would find another one.  It took some time to get his basket filled.

Travis filled his basket quickly.  This wasn't his first egg hunt!

This was the best picture with both boys.

Here's what happens when it takes too long to get good pictures...  I think I like this one best!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gifts From a Friend

I love it when the boys get matching outfits, but often I am not the ones who find the best ones.  When our friend visited from Minnesota, she brought the boys Minnesota twins shirts.  And another friend was at the store and saw these PJs with diggers on them and thought of Travis.  And then I got the best picture with Travis being the casual big brother throwing his arm around Justin.  Love my cute boys!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Last Chemo!

Another highlight of the now week before last was my mom's last chemo treatment.  So we planned a nice dinner complete with cake as a treat.  Please don't mock the cake.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fence Building

One of the things that happened during my reading hiatus was building our neighbor's fence.  The same neighbors whose yard we cleaned up during Be the Church Day.  It was actually this project that started the plan to clean up the yard too.  That's usually how it starts!  One thought leads to even more and then it's beyond what we could ever possibly do!  Thankfully we have a very service-minded church and we had a fabulous crew of dedicated workers to help us complete this project.

I started the day pounding over the nails from the posts that we removed so we could put them out for the garbage men since it was trash day and they come early in the morning.  I was able to get all the old posts ready for disposal, plus a few other parts of the fence before the garbage trucks came.  Justin helped a bit too!

Travis helped put the new posts in.  He wore his hard hat again all day long.  We had great weather for fence building.  And our neighbor's yard is very shaded so that was helpful too!

The process was very methodical.  These guys have done this before!  They laid out the line for the posts and then started in with the auger, and then the post crew came through.

This is Rick.  He's one of the elders at our church.  He's Travis' new best friend.  And he's my friend too because he let me use power tools.  Cordless circular saw...!

We worked in crews around the yard when in came time for pickets.  We each did one side and two crews worked the long side in towards the middle.  It actually worked surprisingly well!  And we were able to move fairly quickly.

Except for when we needed several supervisors.  When the supervisor needs a supervisor, we're in for trouble!  Getting started was the hardest part, I will give you that.  The side that Rick is leaning on was the side that I worked on and Jimmy (the first supervisor) worked with me.  It was a hard because we put the pickets on the far side, the side with all the bushes.  Not good planning on our part!

This is the only proof I have that I actually helped.  Rick took my picture since he didn't like that I took the last one.  I did a lot of clean up.  Boys are very messy you know!  The leftover pieces became Travis' play things.  He built himself a wall in our yard.

This is the side that Jimmy and I did when it was finished.  I amazed myself.  And wouldn't you know it, it's still standing!

We finished in the early afternoon and so here's the guys being entertained by Travis.  And those large piles of leftover supplies?  That's for OUR fence!  That's coming next week.  The guys are coming back for round #2!  Everyone survived with only a couple of bruised hips from a runaway auger.

The day was an awesome testament to the way the Lord works.  He used us to do great things for our neighbors.  I am really glad that we did it, even though it was a lot of work.  Somehow I just know our fence isn't going to go near as fast.  (I might already know something you don't, trust me on this...)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Times

I love the library.  I am pretty sure most people know that.  I believe all my tax dollars go to libraries.  That, and roads to get to libraries. :)  There are so many things that make libraries great: all the free books I could ever want to read, super friendly librarians, preschool story time, books on tape/CD, and on and on.  These days my very favorite part of the library is the Hold Shelf.  I can browse the card catalog from my home and magically all the books I want appear in envelopes with my name on them!  It's like Christmas opening that envelope and peeking inside to see what treasure awaits.  I love it!

Sometimes though, it works out that several books magically appear at the same time, and being highly desirable they cannot be renewed so they must be read, and read quickly.  Last week that happened.  Three books and a movie all converged in the pretty blue envelopes at the same time.  So this past week I have been reading.  And not blogging.  That's why the dry spell.  I am trying to make it up (and back dating to fill in the gap) so please be patient with me.  And if you're interested, the books were great:  I Will Carry You, Water for Elephants, and The Help.  All amazingly different, but good in their genre.  Historical fiction is my fave, and The Help is awesome.  I Will Carry You is not to be read outside the walls of one's own house because nearly every page brings heart wrenching tears.  Buckets, in my case.  And Elephants I liked for the historical part of it, and the love story was enjoyable too.  I probably won't see the movie though, at least until it comes out on DVD.  (You know movies always ruin books!  Except in the case of John Grisham books/movies, but that's another story...)

So now I will attempt to fill in this past week in real life, the world outside my fantasy book life...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Test Results

We have heard back about several of Justin's recent tests.   Here's the word:

  1. The thyroid tests are basically the same.  TSH is high but T3 and T4 still in range, so no treatment required at this time.  Just more monitoring and back in four months.
  2. The nutrition tests all came back great.  All of Justin's levels are well within range which means he is absorbing what he's eating and it's all sufficient.  Also, the CBC came back fine.  (Always checking for leukemia...)
  3. The speech evaluation was the only disappointment.  Miss Sarah thought he would be close to the "normal" range, but instead his number was 70.  (Normal being 85-110 or so, I think.)  He does really well in receptive language, but the one part he didn't do as well was the picking out specific parts of things or differentiating between two similar things (like "Point to the girl's sock" or "Point to the wheel on the car")  The test requires very specific verbage and that is what flubbed him a bit.  Of course his expressive is still behind.  She has started working on some vowels with some sticks.  The are different thicknesses and when you bite them you can only make a specific sound (we're talking vowels mostly I think).  She showed us the "e" one today and it's like a plastic popsicle stick.  It's actually very funny looking, but we'll see how it works.
Also, we heard from the sleep center and Justin has an appointment for an evaluation next month.  Very glad about this!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Save the Date

The 2011 Buddy Walk will be December 3!

And we are moving to a new location - Minute Maid Park Diamond Lot!

Mark you calendars and plan to join us for our fourth Buddy Walk.  It will be a huge event, and even more special because it's Justin's first Buddy Walk as a real walker!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Some little tidbits that make our lives unique!
  • My mom is almost finished with chemotherapy.  Only one more to go!  And her hair is beginning to grow back.  She has the softest little peach fuzz all over her head.
  • The garbage men came to pick up our pile of Be the Church Day trash.  One of our other neighbors, who couldn't help on Sunday, sat outside for over two hours keeping watch for the garbage men to ensure our piles would be picked up.  When they said that we had piled it the wrong direction (up the driveway rather than down the street) he help me move the pile so they would get it on their second pass.  Some of those bags were very heavy and starting to rip.  And did I mention it rained yesterday??  He is amazing.  He's the one who cleaned up our yard after Hurricane Ike while we were still in the hospital after Justin's surgery.  We are so blessed!
  • We have been trying to get in some extra speech therapy sessions and our amazing Miss Melissa got us in for two extra sessions over the next few weeks.
  • We have been making doughnut bread pudding from all our extra doughnuts that our Doughnut Lady gives us.  We put them in a bag in the freezer until it's full and then we make up a batch.  When Travis told her what we've been doing she looked confused so this time when we made some we brought it to her.  She was so sweet and thankful so she gave us more doughnuts!  And kolaches!  My mom decided that we would never get ahead!
  • We are reading the last of the Little House on the Prairie series (The First Four Years).  Travis loves them.  He always wants to read the "Laura and Mary" books.  The other night Randy turned on the video monitor and we listened to him saying all the names of the family:  "Pa...Ingalls....... Ma...Ingalls... Ca..rrie...Ingalls... Grace...Ingalls..."  We laughed!
  • Justin just had his re-evaluation for speech therapy and without having scored it, Miss Sarah said that his receptive language was almost in range for his age!  She was really impressed.  I was just thinking about that the other night, that it really seems like Justin understands most everything we are saying.  And he will respond to the best of his ability.  We keep asking him how old he is and he puts up all his fingers on one hand because the finger isolation is too difficult for him.  But he really tries!  He lets us help him do his fingers right, and then he can't hold it so then he laughs!  Super cheesy!
  • We are only a few short days from welcoming our new little nephew into the family!  Thatcher is due in 15 days and counting!
  • We are getting another new family member this fall when my brother marries his girlfriend, Olivia.  We are excited to do some leaf peeping up in Pennsylvania for the October festivities.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shark Attack

Justin got a new towel for his birthday and it's a shark!  He opens his mouth wide whenever we reach out to wrap him up in it.  So funny!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Be the Church

Yesterday was our church's fourth annual "Be the Church" Day.  "Be the Church" is serving in our community and doing practically the things Jesus taught.  We did tons of different things this year!  There were even more opportunities to serve than last year.  A group of people did automotive repairs for our older members.  Several people packed boxes for our military and missionaries.  We served a meal at our Impact Inner City Church.  A group went to the local park and handed out bottles of water.  There were lots of people who took homemade cookies and passed them out at a nursing home.  Last year we had a great time weeding and trimming a bush at one of our homebound member's homes. 

This year we cleaned up our neighbor's yard.  They are an older couple and the wife was recently diagnosed with lung cancer.  They are consumed with doctor's appointments and chemotherapy and testing and there is no time for the spring yard clean up that is so necessary here in Houston.  This year was MUCH harder work than last year.  We were the crew leaders on this project and so we spent a lot of time beforehand preparing for everything that needed to be done.  Randy started out on the roof raking leaves off.  He was up there almost an hour!  You can see the pile he accumulated on the ground.

I spent the day running around getting supplies (we had to make a mulch run), keeping the kids on task, and keeping track of Justin.  Justin did not sleep well on Saturday night and so he was wandering aimless and needing lots of love.  Fortunately he was able to play in our backyard and Randy could keep an eye on him from the roof.  When I ran inside to print a coupon for the mulch, I found him playing with the water hose.  He had managed to get the last few drops of water out and he was trying to drink by putting his face into the tiny puddle the drips formed.  I promise I had given him a drink!  After not too long I fed him some lunch and he laid down for a little nap.  Love those baby monitors! 

We had several other people from our church help us and we started on the flower beds.  I got a blister after about a half hour of raking the deep piles of leaves from around all the bushes.  Travis had his hard hat on so he wouldn't get hit by any falling debris.  I am not sure if that was necessary, but he wore it the whole morning.   He made friends with one of the teenage girls who was there with her mom.  Her name is Alexis, but Travis called her Alaska!  One of our great finds was some flagstones that form a path to the bench you can see in the picture.  We found about 8-10 stones and everyone got excited when they found one!  I had forgotten they were there!

I was so busy that I didn't get near as many pictures as last year.  (That and my camera battery was almost dead.)  We worked for four solid hours and we didn't get a chance to trim their bushes.  We will try to get to that later this week. 

The whole block ended up getting in on the party.  Our neighbors from across the street came home and offered to help along with their children.  And our neighbors on the other side of the house we were cleaning up came out with their sons too.  The little ones helped hold the trash bags open for us to put the leaves into.  Justin enjoyed having the help!  He was covered in dirt by the time we were done.  I threw him in bed without a bath, but that was the first thing we did when he woke up!

I had no idea how many leaves were in their yard until the bags began to accumulate.  This is what we collected in our driveway...

And this was in the neighbor's driveway!!

I counted at least 50 bags plus three trash cans full.  It was amazing what we collected.  Plus we put out 30 bags of mulch.  And another neighbor planted some flowers in pots for them.  We only had 6 people from our church who could come, but God sent our other neighbors to help with the rest.  Fifteen of our neighbors came out to help our little group finish the enormous task!  Our neighbors in the house we served were very grateful and we were so happy to be able to help them in the small little area we could.   And we had a great time visiting with our neighbors and working together for something way beyond ourselves.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More Doctors

I said this was our doctor week, and we had two more appointments today.  Since Justin had a birthday we went to the pediatrician for a check up.  We talked a lot about gluten-free diets and Justin's eating/food absorption.  That's one thing I am a little concerned about.  Justin is never going to grow very tall or be very large.  He has our genes plus DS working against that, but I think he still should grow a little faster than he is growing now.  He eats a lot of food and I am not sure where it's all going!  The doctor agreed to do some blood work and check some of his vitamin levels to see how that is going.  Then we can check with a GI doctor is that is a problem.  She also mentioned about the celiac test.  She wanted to repeat it every two/three years.  I had always thought it was a one-time thing, you either had it or you didn't, but she said that it can develop later.  The only way to be sure is to test for a genetic disposition.  I thought that's what we were doing, but actually it's only a test for the antibodies that are formed from eating gluten.  So if you're on a gluten-free diet, the test won't do any good, because there won't be any antibodies!  And the genetic test is too expensive for insurance companies to cover.  Interesting information!  So we have to wait for the blood work to come back before the next step.

Then after therapy we went to the opthamologist.  Still has the myelinated nerve fibers in the left eye, but no change in his sight.  He still crosses his eyes some, and he is far sighted, like most young children.  She didn't recommend glasses yet, since his eye still seems to track and focus fine with the other eye covered.  She seemed a little more concerned about his vision, but without him being verbal enough to tell us he is having any trouble, she doesn't really feel it's necessary to address anything.  So, back in a year!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bluebonnets and Fun at the Park

I have been a bad Texas mommy this year, and I nearly let bluebonnet season pass us by without getting any pictures.  I promise there are a few bluebonnets in the pictures, although nothing like the usual overabundance.  But, at least I tried. The unseasonably warm weather really brought them out early and then they vanished before I could get to the park for the pics.  I really like these red shirts I got for the boys.  They look good against the few bluebonnets!

And of course, since we went to take pictures, we had a picnic lunch and played at the park.  We ran into our church's playgroup and also some other good family friends completely unintentionally.  Our therapy schedule got rearranged and so we were able to get to the park sooner and we ended up with a little treat!  So both boys had a great time.  Justin crawled all the way up these stairs, and he even alternated feet!  (He prefers leading with his left.)  He got so good I didn't even need to stand by him.  He scurried up the stairs and then slid down the slide.  About 10 times!

Then he wanted to swing, and we have perfected the double swing.  Justin can hang on without any assistance and he could swing all day like this.  If I try to hold onto him, he gets upset and pushes my hand away.  It's cool how strong he is getting!  Travis enjoyed playing with his friends, Justin loved swinging and sliding, and I was able to visit with a friend.  It was a great park day for us all.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Another Endochrin Appointment

These appointments are becoming so routine that they hardly aren't even worthy to note, but I thought I would tell about it anyway, just because this week ended up being Dr. appointment week.  Monday was endochrin and we went through the usual measuring and sizing routine.  Since thyroid influences growth they are really watching his growth.  His head circumference is the biggie since the can only grow his head, not shrink.  Justin has been wearing 18 month clothes for about a year now, and he only got new orthotics because of the girth of his foot, not the length or width.  The only thing that seems to grow is his belly!  He is just getting into 24 mo/2T shirts, and he can't fit the one piece 18 mo. outfits, so we're into the next size of those too.  We are just now getting into the clothes Travis was wearing when Justin was born.  Kind of a cool milestone!  Anyway, his head grew sufficiently that the doctor was satisfied.  We had to do more labs to monitor his thyroid.  We don't know the results yet, but they did get him on the first stick!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Family Pictures

We had our family pictures taken and these are some of the best.  Travis was not in a picture mood but somehow the photographer managed to get some smiles.  Justin was his usual hammy self!

This is my favorite of the boys.  It completely shows their personality.  We have a few cheese balls in the family!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Justin is Three!

Can you believe it??  This one is hard for me to believe.   Justin had another birthday and he keeps getting bigger every day.  We celebrated by going and getting some family pictures taken (that's another post) but I got a few "making of" pictures to share.

I didn't really want any "real" pictures with the number blocks, but they let me borrow them while we were waiting for our pictures to load.  This was at the end of the session and the boys were beyond "cheese".  This was the best one I got.  Travis wouldn't smile and you can see Justin wasn't too thrilled either.  But I still think they're cute!

After pictures we went to a paint-it-yourself pottery place.  Justin picked out a letter "J" to paint and he and Daddy worked on that while Travis painted a football box and I worked on a family plate.  We'll show the finished product after they bake.  We let Justin pick out the colors and he chose white and red so they painted the background all white and then Justin smeared on some red after that dried.  It kind of looks like he bled on it, so we're anxious to see how it turns out.

Then we ate a yummy lunch at Pei Wei.  Justin ate his lunch, my lunch, and Daddy's lunch.  I guess the morning's activities made him hungry.  This is when we're done and ready to go home for nap.  I love guys in polo shirts and this just makes me smile.

We were almost ready to call it a day and head for bath when we got a call from Ami wishing Justin a happy birthday.  She was bummed that the gift she had ordered had not arrived but while we were talking, the doorbell rang and as if on cue the present arrived.  So then the guys spent some time perusing the new Elmo books Justin received.  They are great and you can tell which ones Justin likes the best.  He is turning into quite the reader.  When he's serious about something, he gets on his stomach so he can see it better.  I love the boys enjoying a little "Where is Elmo's Blanket?"

It was such a fun family day.  These are the days I will treasure for always.  Justin had a great day.  He giggled and played.  He is so expressive that there's never a doubt what he's feeling or thinking.  He is learning more every day.  He has picked up more signs and he uses them perfectly.  We're trying to get him to do three fingers to show he is three, but that's one of the really hard things for him (finger isolation).   So now he just holds up all his fingers and laughs at us when we ask him to show us three fingers.  Justin says that it's good to be three!