Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sorry I've been gone for so long. :) There's this blog post I have written several times and deleted several times ... it's either called Emma and the Amazing Technicolor Chromosome or Did God give Emma CdLS ... written after re-reading the story of Jacob's son Joseph in Genesis ... but I'm pretty sure there's some bad theology in there, so I'll post that another time :)

It's ok, you can laugh at me ... I do :)

The actual excitement for today is that I FINALLY got some of Emma's new skills on video. In the past couple of weeks she has just EXPLODED with curiosity, both socially and in her play. The magnets on the fridge are no longer safe, I'm deciding what is a 'no' and what to just sit back and wonder what exactly she's going to do with, I leave her playing with her toys in the living room and go to put laundry away and come back out and she's gone ... Charlie and I found her later in the bathroom :)


The skill in this video, though, is the one I'm most excited about. It's totally social and appropriate and consistent (unless, of course, she's distracted by something shiny ... hence my excitement that she was finally willing to do it in front of the camera)

She's clapping at the beginning because we have clapped so much for her waving that she now thinks that when someone waves you're supposed to clap for them!

hmmmm ... i have more cuteness to post, but i think we're experiencing technical difficulties ... i'll be back later

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wrestle with the angel

It's been awhile since I've done a Bible post.

I'll admit it, I've been kind of coasting again.

Well, no, that's not entirely true. Sometimes, in some seasons, I just can't make it through another history chapter in Genesis and just need to stand in the shower and repeat one short verse of comfort over and over again. "Cast all your cares upon the Lord ... " or maybe "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything through prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"

Those are good.

But then I get lazy and forget that maybe God has MORE to say to me.

I'm trying (again) to be a daily Bible reader. I've done it before, but ... well, you know, life happens. So I'm starting again this fall with Genesis (again). Sometimes, for me, anyway, the fact that I've read most of the Bible before at one time or another is actually kind of a stumbling block for me.

Like, yes, yes, I KNOW that Joseph's brothers sell him into slavery. The story hasn't changed, so why should I read it again?

BECAUSE I HAVE CHANGED, THAT'S WHY!

Tonight I read the story of Jacob wrestling with God again. I've never really had any big revelations about that story before, other than the fact that it was kind of a turning point for Isreal.

But I think tonight God wanted to remind me about something. He is willing to wrestle with us. It's not an "either you've arrived or you haven't" type of thing, this walk with our Lord. Twice in Genesis, the promise of a great nation was questioned, once by Abraham, and once by Jacob.

I don't get it, God. You SAID you'd bless me, but life doesn't look like it's headed toward blessing right now, so what's up with that???

And twice, God doesn't pooh-pooh the question. With Abraham, he reminds him of the numbers of stars in the sky and grains of sand at the shore.

With Jacob, he wrestles.

God could have knocked Jacob out in one punch for being so arrogant as to WRESTLE with Him. I mean, really? "I'm not letting go until you bless me!"???? Where's the reverence there?

But he gets his blessing.

For me, I think there are times I'm afraid to ask the hard questions of God. Partly because I know the Christian-ese answers, but also partly because it doesn't feel respectful to question.

But tonight through that passage, God reminded me that I DO need to "press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me," which means I HAVEN'T "arrived", and I DO need to wrestle.

And if I am willing to wrestle with God, I WILL be blessed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Charlie

(second post today! Scroll down for update on Emma's ears)
When did this little man get so BIG?!?!?!?!
I've sort of been in denial about the upcoming school year. I've been a stay-at-home mom since Charlie was born. Sure, we've sent him to Sunday School and VBS and stuff, but this whole ... I dunno ... dropping him off and leaving the building thing?
I cried. :)
Backing up, though.
The night before his first day of preschool, we were coloring together. Then I went to do something with Emma and left him to finish his coloring at the kitchen table.
He's so focused when he's coloring these days. He's really turned a corner about this; it's pretty cute.
So after about 10 minutes, he brought me his picture to show me:

I HAD NO IDEA HE COULD DO THAT!!!!!!
I would be super proud if I had worked with him on writing letters, but really, I've been busy!
An odd combination of Mommy guilt and pride swept over me. Yes, I know, he has not written his name PERFECTLY, but for a child who has never been instructed in handwritting, I think he did a pretty good job!
I'm fighting the urge to feel REALLY guilty, though, because I feel like ... well, if he's doing THAT without any guidance, I bet he could be reading and writing by now if I had the time to really NURTURE his gifts.
I'm proud, don't get me wrong. He's smart.
So I asked him if he could write MY name on my picture. He asked me if I wanted him to write 'Becky' or 'Mommy.' I asked him if he knew how to spell 'mom.' He thought about it and actually came up with M-O-M with very little prompting. I also knew that he could spell Emma because her name is up in her room, so I asked him if he could write 'Emma' on my paper, too, since she had "helped" me color mine :)

Apparently letters he's unsure of are circles :)
So I wrote 'MOM' and asked him to write it underneath were I had. I think he did a pretty good job!!!
We didn't finish 'Emma' (there in the middle) because Daddy was home by then so I excused myself to go and cry in the bathroom for awhile.
I'm a little emotional about him going to preschool :)


I tried to get a nice, cute picture of him in his first day of school outfit, but it's hard when a three-year-old boy is SO excited!

Putting on his backpack:





Finding his hook:



Putting his sticker next to his name for the day:




Checking out the fish:

And then he found the train table and it took some convincing before he would even hug me 'goodbye'! He was SO ready. "See ya, Mommy!"
I held it together until Emma and I were in the car ... driving down the road, of course ... and then I started really crying.
(yeah, I know, probably not safe ...)
So Emma and I went shopping and stopped at a coffee shop and before I knew it, the time had passed and we went back to get the dude.
When we went into the classroom, he didn't greet ME; he yelled, "SWEETIE WORM!"
(I'm not sure ... this has been Charlie's nickname for Emma for a few months now ... Nana called her a wiggle worm one time ... I think that might be part of it ... anyway ...)
I went to sit down to give him a hug and sat Emma down next to us. Emma just sat there clap, clap, clapping away :) Charlie almost knocked her over with his hug.
For the rest of the day, it was obvious that they had missed EACH OTHER. Not sure if Charlie missed ME at all ... oh, well. :)


I couldn't get him to stop TALKING long enough to take a good picture of him being picked up from preschool!

And he wanted me to take a picture of the outside play area. I think that was his favorite part :)





So there you have it. Charlie is now a preschooler. I know he'll do great. I know he'll thrive and flourish.


But let me know if you have any ideas about what I'M supposed to do without him!!!!!!

Kidding :)

Emma

(I'm shooting for today being a 2 post day because big stuff is going on with both our kids, so each is going to get their own post)

Hearing test is not going to happen on Friday.

We had an appointment with Emma's ENT doc today to have him make sure Emma's tubes were open and clear before testing her hearing. I'm glad we did, because Emma's left ear doesn't have a functioning tube anymore.

Which means we're off to the OR again soon!

He said he could see that sort of a membrane has grown over the tube. It's still in place, but not working anymore.

So he wants to replace the tube and then we'll just do the ABR while she's still under general anesthesia. I'm kind of glad for that, because this way we'll know that she has two working, open tubes and I will feel more confident in the results of her hearing test.

BUT

In the meantime, Emma has a clogged tube, and I think it's causing some discomfort. And it probably won't be until next week at the earliest that we can schedule this because ENT has to coordinate with audiology ...

Plus, this is the ear that we've been having her wear the hearing aid in, it's the RIGHT hearing aid that we suspect is programmed wrong (she shrieks when my cell phone rings, cries when toys make noise...). So no hearing well for Emma until we get this resolved ...

(Remember this spring when her ENT doc told us to just "sort of plan on being frustrated by her ears for the next couple of years"? yeah ...)

She's been REALLY not sleeping well, and not tolerating feeds well, either. We were wondering if she's teething; she's been grumpy and rubbing that side of her face. So we've been giving her Tylenol to help her sleep, but now she's got some ... ummm ... we'll call it GI distress (ewwwwww) ... and I don't know if that's from the Tylenol or if the GI stuff is actually the root cause of everything and it just so happens that she also has a clogged tube?

I HATE knowing something is wrong and not knowing what it is!!!!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bonfire!

Fall seems to have quite suddenly arrived here in MN.

Now that the sun sets before 7:30 again, we had the kids out tonight for a fire.

Why am I out here?


Oh, that looks cool. Ok, I'll hang with Mommy for awhile. :)





A baseball bat? Of course! Why WOULDN'T we play baseball in the dark by firelight?


I love this time of year.
It's particularly good sleeping weather :) Good night, all!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Next Week

I'm not sure I'm going to make it!

Please pray for me? :)

The two big events are: Charlie starts preschool and Emma has another sedated hearing test (ABR).

And between pre-op appointments and ear debridment (torturous ear cleaning) the Monday and Wednesday before the Friday test, my week is looking full and crazy.

Let's start with Emma:
Her hearing loss is mild and only in the upper frequencies, so we've pretty much adjusted to life with hearing aides and aren't too worried about it. But it's well-documented that CdLS kiddos' hearing is a moving target, and it can sometimes improve to the point where they don't need the aides once their ears grow bigger. A month or two ago, we noticed that Emma was reacting to even my cell phone ringing as if it was a loud, startling sound, to the point where she'd cry. We also noticed that she doesn't react when she's only wearing her left aid. So we're hopeful that her right ear's hearing has improved. I'm still fairly certain she needs the aides, but an improvement for the better is always ... you know ... better :)

Next, CHARLIE IS STARTING PRESCHOOL!

How is this possible?

I'll go ahead and admit I cried this afternoon for quite some time when we got home from the open house.

I'm having some trouble seperating the normal "my baby is going to school without me emotions" from the "Emma stuff" emotions.

I think my concern stems from the fact that this is the first time since Emma was born that I'm walking into a brand new social situation where no one knows me as anything other than "the one with the obviously different baby on her hip."

And today at the open house, it's not that anyone was specifically unfriendly, and I'm not shy :) but I did catch a couple people (kids and adults) staring.

I'm a little spoiled; when I say our church LOVES Emma, I mean so many people want to hold her on Sunday morning and Wednesday night that I kind of forget that approaching me and Emma in a brand new social situation is probably not without some awkwardness for someone new to a special needs situation.

It's not un-surmountable, it's just more "put on a smile, be super friendly, show them it's ok, and go into educate-mode if you have to"

Which is a little exhausting.

AND

is Charlie ready for that?

Is he ready for one of his new classmates to walk up and say, "What's wrong with your sister?"

When I'm not there.

We role-played it today. The answer, of course, is "Nothing, she has CdLS"

And Charlie was actually a little excited to share the information. I asked him if he knew what to say if someone ever asked why Emma looks different and he said no. Then after we talked about it, he got a big smile and excitedly started talking about "Maybe next time when we go to Eli's house Eli or Henry or Isabel will ask me and I'll get to tell them that Emma has CdLS!"

Which is cute, but he still doesn't get that it's probably not seen as a good thing by others who don't already know and love us. And I'M not going to be the one to burst that bubble.

And while I've already jumped down the worrying-mother rabbit hole ...

Is our "normal" going to affect Charlie's social life?

I'm picturing parents approaching other parents in a couple of weeks setting up playdates and such ... am I going to have done a good enough job by then making us seem approachable?

And even if we get asked (do I sound like a teenager worried if I'm going to be invited to the prom???), are we going to be able to with all of Emma's appointments and stuff?

But I gotta say, just to be clear, Charlie is picking up on NONE of this!

He's so excited! He found his hook today and played and we did a scavenger hunt and he found all the stuff and was super pumped about the painting station and met lots of new friends and discussed the comparitive merits of various stickers with a little girl named Mikayla and last night the dentist had trouble getting him to stop talking about it long enough to check his teeth!

HE'S going to be fine.

If you find me in a puddle at the end of next week, though, just pour some wine into me and I'll be much better!!

Thanks for your prayers :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vacations


Yes. That's a picture of Charlie wearing a cowboy hat, flower necklace, and no pants ... read on to understand the glazed-over, exhausted-but-satisfied look he has on his face! :)

Depending on how you're counting, we took 4 vacations in the month of August! First, Josh and Charlie went camping with church ... and of course, took no pictures.

Then we went to Cumberland, Wisconsin with the Hammond clan. There's this big cabin that my mother has rented for our family for a couple of years now, and we LOVE it!

This year, we rented a pontoon boat for a day and actually got out on, I kid you not, "Little Dummy Lake"








It's a beautiful area. This picture is the view from the living room window. You can see the lake in the background.


And we had a "pet" for one of the days. Charlie named him "Froggy Ribbit". He hung out on the window all day, chirping at Charlie when he would wave his finger near him. Pretty cute :)





This is Emma's "Jackie-O" look. I love her hair down, but it's just not manageable for more than 2 hours, tops! :)
But I think this was the day my mom and I declared to be an "anything goes" day. We stayed in our PJ's until well past noon, mostly because we had stayed up ENTIRELY too late the night before, solving all the problems of the world.






Snuggle nap with Nana.




The aunties and uncles and even Daddy had to leave after 5 days to go back to being contributing members of society for awhile, but Nana and I stayed a few more days with the kids, doing puzzles,




walking on the beach,








"just wading" in the water,







giggling with princesses,






teaching Charlie how to row a boat,






(the boat was tied to the dock the whole time, I promise)







letting little sun fish check out our toes,









and letting the little dude take a crack at paddle boating!







Then we came home for two days to find the refrigerator dead. Well, not dead, but the 50 dollar part took 250 bucks to replace and all the food was bad ...
Oh well! What to do? Go on another vacation, of course!

This time we went up to Duluth, to play tourist in Josh's hometown.


We stayed at a water park hotel. This was the view from our hotel's window:








The kids (well, mostly Charlie and his cousin, Ruby) had an absolute BLAST!


But the grown-ups needed to see the outside world for at least a few hours, so we went down to Canal Park.



And rented one of those very silly-looking touristy surrey-bike things.
We laughed a lot and had a great time tooling around the Lakewalk (the Lake being Lake Superior for those unfamiliar with the area)






Charlie loved watching the ships in the harbor, the lift bridge going up, and the lighthouse.

It was a beautiful day!!




So after livin' it up in Duluth for a few days, we all (the Watczak side, this time), headed down to the Cities to play tourist in MY hometown.

Emma and her Papa at the Mall of America





Charlie even talked Daddy on to a Blue's Clues carnival ride in the amusement park in the mall.



I've lived here since long before the MOA was built, and I have never once done the amusement park stuff ... the things children make you do :)




The next day, we went to the zoo. My favorite part, hands down, is the butterfly garden.














A big butterfly landed on Papa's shoulder!!










Here's that box I talked about before where you can see chrysalises. Big green caterpillars were metamorphosing this time!




The MN zoo has recently added a great little play area. This is where we really realized that cousin Ruby (over a year younger than Charlie), would follow my son's every move.








Which includes climbing WAY TOO HIGH into a club house, where the only place she could get down was through a big slide.




Josh thought she would need help, so he climbed in after them. Turns out, Charlie held Ruby's hand and led her to the slide. He went down first to show her how's it done, and then she came tumbling down after ... Josh then realized two things: One, that Ruby didn't need help going down the slide, and Two, that HIS only way down was going down the slide, also! Hee Hee





But seriously, could this child get any cuter? :)


It was fun to watch Charlie and Ruby finally come into their own in terms of playing together and stuff. It made me feel good to see some of Charlie's big brother muscles get stretched by someone who challenges him more than Emma does. We had a great time!
Thank you to both families for a wonderful August!
And now it's September and we've hit the ground running. Preschool, appointments galore, and just general LIFE. Good thing I love my life!!! :)
We are so blessed!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Things I learned during this past month

Water parks are NOT safe, but lots of fun.

Love for family is complicated, but worth it.

Charlie and Emma sleep just fine when they are in the same room, even if Emma's pump goes off the in middle of the night.

Coming home from vacation to find that your fridge died at some point while you were away is expensive.

I'm sure there's more, but I'm tired ... big post with lots of pictures to follow.

God bless you!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just to clarify ...

that sucked!

Thank you so much for all the sweet and wonderfully encouraging support from my last post.

But I just sort of feel the need to show the other side ...

That REALLY sucked! No parent should ever have to hear that about their child, much less such an innocent, loving little one.

I felt foolish. I felt like I was fooling myself into believing that she is beautiful to someone who doesn't know her inner beauty.

Then, I felt pretty angry that they had the power to make me feel that way.

And to be honest, I don't really remember making the decision to be the bigger person.

I'm pretty sure that means that this is a classic case of, "Not me but Christ in me."

Yes, I listen to what the voices in my head tell me to do ... ok, well, maybe just the one voice :)

I'm still processing that this probably isn't the last time something sad like that will happen.

So I'm praying that the Spirit of the Living God will fall afresh on me daily, bringing HIS grace, HIS mercy, HIS compassion, HIS love, and HIS light.