Friday, September 30, 2011

Making good choices...

It takes planning. It takes effort. And most of all, it takes the grace of God Almighty! Without God's help, the best I can do is worthless. Without God's mercy and forgiveness, my very best work is the equivalent to filthy rags.

And that is what I set out to do today, prayerfully make good choices. I am pleased to report, today was a good day. I was even down a helper (who went with Chris to Shelton) and we had a fun, busy, full, good day!

God is good, all the time!

It has also helped the day to pass faster waiting to see Chris and Anna...who I miss very much and am looking forward to seeing in the morning! (I sure hope the come home early tomorrow!)

It is the end of September. I am looking forward to see what October holds.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Choices...

Since I have no camera to let you see my day, you get to 'see' my thoughts - I know it is scary!

Choices...life really does come down to choices. There will be good things and bad things that happen to each of us. Many of them will have nothing to do with us, but rather they are just things that happen.

The part we have control over, the choice, is how we react to things.

For me right now, it breaks down like this. I have had several things happen that I would rather not have happened...
- Seizing the van engine
- The whole doctor saga for Callie
- 3 ER trips in August
- The bus breaking down today
- Not being able to get the girls to choir/band
- Not making good choices as far as eating
- Not working out
- Not sleeping due to children being up a LOT at night
- Not taking the time with God (which leads me to all kinds of other poor choices!)

I could go on, but you get the idea...

I could choose to continue to wallow in self-pity, continue to make bad choices, and keep up the self destructive attitudes and behaviors I have allowed myself to have.

Or I could choose to put on praise music to God, spend time with Him, ask for forgiveness, and move forward.

I am so blessed! I have so much...God is good, all the time! Instead of the above list, I am choosing to focus on the following:
- God provided for us to get home when the van died
- Callie DOES have an appointment coming up.
- Everyone is doing better than in August!
- God had a plan to get us home today when the bus was struggling!
- The girls already know how to read music, and were able to get what they missed from a friend.
- I can make better food choices starting NOW
- I plan on having a good workout tomorrow
- Everyone is asleep now, so I am off to bed!
- I have Three Crosses playing right now, and my Bible study waiting to be done on my headboard!

God is good, all the time! Just in thinking through the positives for the negatives I listed above, and looking outside of my own selfish tendencies, I am feeling a bit better!

The rest of Callie's feet saga

I wrote last week about Callie's appointment with the foot specialist. I don't remember exactly where I left off, but here is the short version and the rest of the saga.

He (Dr. Moore) wanted us to look into botox injections for her. He gave us a referral, and the name/number of a doctor to do that with.

I contacted his office. They need a referral before being able to schedule the appointment. I call back to Dr. Moore's office. They already sent it. I wait until the next morning call the other guy's office, they didn't receive it, asked to have it sent again. Callie back to Dr. Moore's office, left a message that they didn't' get it and would like it faxed over again (That was a Wed., and they are closed on Wednesdays.)...Thursday comes and they resent the fax. Again, it was never received. So Dr. Moore's staff calls the other doctor...only to find that they do not see patients under 16 years of age.

Dr. Moore's office calls and says they would like Callie's pcp (Dr. Green) to handle getting a referral for someone who would do this for children at Children's Hospital.

I called Dr. Green's office to request the referral. They say they will call back in 3-5 days to let me know when that is sent. That is still on a Thursday. I went ahead and called Children's hospital to see how far out they are booking...1st week of NOVEMBER...Yikes!

I blogged about much of this (this is the short version of what happened on those days!)...and had a very generous offer from a friend come through to take the spot her son had at the same clinic Callie needs to be seen and they told her Callie would be able to take the spot. So now, I had a time crunch. His appointment was on Tuesday (day before yesterday.) So Monday of last week, knowing that Dr. Green's office says 3-5 business days for a referral, and Children's hospital takes 1-3 days to process the referral, I am wanting to get things rolling...so I called Dr. Green's office again on Monday to see if I can expedite things. No answer. I left a message.

On Tuesday, I called again, and left a message.

On Wednesday, I called AGAIN, and again left a message in the morning, then called BACK in the afternoon. They answered that time, and said, "Um, we can not make this referral because we have no records of a Callie Pence." I was shocked. What?! The woman went on to explain that we would need an intake appointment, and the first available is in 2 weeks and then they could do the referral. I explained that we HAD an intake appointment and talked with Dr. Green about needing different referrals because of her cp just 2 weeks earlier. She couldn't explain it, but there were no records and no chart for Callie. She said she had to go and would get back to me.

Meanwhile, I called Dr. Moore's office to let them know we were running into a dead end for Dr. Green to make the referral. They said they are not normally in on Wednesday, but because Dr. Moore and his staff are closing down the office for 2 weeks, they were getting some last minute things done and would work on it.

Meanwhile, Back at Dr. Green's office...the woman I had spoken with talked with Dr. Green...who remembered Callie and had no problem writing the referral. Now the problem was that they couldn't do it without all of the information from the chart...so she called me back to let me know they were still working on it, and just didn't know what happened. She then said they had to get back to me about this later.

When she got back to me she apologized. She said she hadn't thought to check their new electronic files. That because Callie is a new patient, she ONLY has an electronic file, not a paper one...She goes onto explain that it would take 3-5 business days for them to get the referral done. I told her that NO, I needed it in Children's hands no later than about NOW in order to get the appointment we are trying to get on Tuesday...after arguing back and forth with me for a few minutes, and finally relenting that they did indeed get the request 5 days earlier, she agrees to get it done. But then added that the fax machine is turned of for the night, and she wouldn't be able to fax it until morning...

The next morning (Thursday), I called back and found that it hadn't been done yet (at 11:30 am!) And that she would get 'right on that.' I had a call at 11 that Dr. Moore's office had figured out the correct forms for Children's Hospital, and faxed the referral over...so at least 1 was done...

Dr. Green's office finally got it done at about 12:30 that afternoon.

Then came the calls to children's hospital...Friday, still had not processed through it, try back later or on Monday.

Monday morning, processed it, but hadn't reviewed it to see what kind of appointment Callie needs.

Monday afternoon, processed it, and Callie needs to see a different specific doctor in Neurodevelopmental clinic than her friend was going to see...so she can't slide into the appointment. For THIS doctor, the next available is on DECEMBER 6TH!

After all the effort, and work, and time on the phone...we are waiting until December 6th to get anything done! So now, we wait. Wait for Dr. Moore to get back from vacation and see if there is something ELSE we could do in the meantime. Wait to see how just stretching her out goes. Wait to see what they say in the spasticity management department of neurodevopmental clinic at Children's Hospital...Callie is also on a wait list right now if there are any cancelations, they start calling down the wait list to see if anyone is able to make it to that appointment...

And while we wait, we pray that her foot can manage this kind of pressure without deforming her bones and that she would keep making forward progress. Pray that this isn't a stumbling block for Callie. And pray that the pain is manageable for her. Her feet seem to be hurting earlier and earlier in the day, which a serious concern for me as well...Pray for direction on what to do and how to get it done for her. For wisdom and guidance that can only come from God for the doctors and for us as her parents.

God is good, all the time!

Meeting the extended Pence Family

I went to school with one of Chris' cousins...in fact, it was through her that we met! I hung out with her family, and learned what Christianity was from them. My children call her parents Aunt Carolyn and Faux-Pa (to mean fake, or false grandpa, but it also means a social disgrace - which kind of fits him, too! Aunt Carolyn doesn't like Faux-ma, stating it sounds like the white foamy stuff at the top of hot cocoa, lol!) If not for them, I do not think I would have become Christians, and for that I am eternally grateful! (I also wouldn't have met my wonderful husband - so I am also thankful to them for that!)

I was asked (along with another friend), to help out with childcare during Grandpa Pence's 75th birthday party. There would be 11 children or so in our care for most of the day. The 2 of us agreed...thinking it would be easy...

That day, (more than 16 years ago!) I was roped into a skit...which I *really* didn't want to do...but also didn't want to draw more attention to myself by backing out or making a bigger deal of it by refusing...I had a very minor role, too.

I remember listening to one of those crazy skits to honor Grandpa Pence by some of Chris' cousins...it went something like this

They set it up to play "Who's the real Elbert Pence."

What do you have in your pocket?
player 1: my wallet and my keys
player 2: notebook and pencil
Player 3: a spatula, coffee grounds, some playdoh, a bouncy ball, matches, and some magnets.

How did you get to work last Monday?
Player 1: Drove myself in my car
Player 2: Took the bus
Player 3: I took the motor home, but it ran out of gas, fortunately, I was towing my car, so I unhooked my car and drove that until it ran out of gas. Fortunately I had my motorcycle, so I unhooked that and drove it until it ran out of gas. Then I unhooked my bicycle and rode that the rest of the way to the lab.

What were you doing in the arctic?
Player 1: That is classified.
Player 2: Mostly trying to stay warm!
Player 3: Oh, you know, hanging out and out running polar bears.

The game continued on in this manor...and it was player 3 who was the 'real' Elbert Pence...I remember watching this wondering if this was for real...I now know Elbert Pence, to be the man who, in real life, really DID outrun a polar bear in the arctic, who, really did always have strange assortments of things in his pockets, who rather than getting a $10 switch when the motor home exterior lights needed a new one, rewired them so he could plug them into the lighter. The same man who, rather than having the carb re-built (again on the motor home), drilled a hole through the doghouse so he could squirt gasoline into it in order to start it. (Yeah, that would be the same motor home we are very slowly re-doing, lol!) The man who rather than taking the time to make a pot of coffee, would just put grounds in his mouth and drink water. The same man who, for his 80th birthday, went bicycling around the world.

After knowing all of these things...why then is it a surprise to me when I called my husband and explained that I had to limp the bus through should work/construction to an off ramp at a whopping 12 mph off the highway, (about a mile down the road - fortunately it was 2 lanes at that point, so people were too upset with me), that my husband would think I would be just fine to keep going to choir, since the bus was doing so much better when I started it again, lol! I opted to play it safe and come home...but as I was sitting in the bus, taking inventory of what was going wrong, and thinking of the van and the seized engine, my mind went back to that skit, and wondering if that was for real...and knowing now, that yup, it sure it - and I am part of it, lol!

I am so glad to be part of this wonderful, fun, imaginative family! (And I'm grateful to have made it home today!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Teaching about evil in the world

I love seeing the excitement and anticipation on my children's faces as they learn to read, write, study God's word, learn about the world around us, science, math, areas of interest...but there are also things I would rather not having to teach...

Today, I introduced my children to the idea that there are truly evil things in this world. I let them watch 180 the movie about abortion...which compares the Holocaust in WWII to the Holocaust of the unborn in America today.



Our regularly scheduled schooling didn't happen this morning as we talked about why a person wouldn't care enough about their own baby and be ok with killing him or her in the womb. We talked about what Hitler did. Why the people allowed him to do it. What we thought in America as we sent supplies to help, but stayed out of the war...until Pearl Harbor.

We looked at maps, found the routes that Hitler's army took. We talked about how big of a number 6 million is...and how many people that really is.

We talked about the value of human life. We talked about how a loving God could have allowed such an evil in the world, and how He sees all sin as simply sin, not being better or worse than another sin.

I really love that my girls have a very sensitive spirit and a great deal of empathy...but it also makes teaching them about such horrible events hard.

Everyone had a different reaction. Ashley was the first to speak up. She asked to be excused because it was hurting her tummy and her heart to learn of such things. I dismissed her and said it was ok, that she just isn't ready for it. After watching 180, Brianna wanted to make amends with God. We talked about what that means, and how we are to live for God, repenting means turning away from evil, and that is how we are to be saved.

The twins had a lot of questions. They wanted to know why, how, when, for how long. They wanted to look things up online and learn as much as they could. There came a point, when I could see them getting truly upset, that I told them they needed to be done and do something lighter, so they are playing their musical instruments.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 27th

It is already the end of September! Where does the time go?

Today Serenity is 11 months old! I posted yesterday that she took her first steps day before yesterday...something she has not repeated much sense as she is dealing with a pretty nasty cold or teething session. She is miserable. Low grade fever, stuffed up, which is causing trouble nursing and sleeping. Her appetite is way down (which is unusual for her). She is really clinging, not wanting to be put down, (also unusual for her!). She can't suck her thumb very long because she is too stuffed up to breath at the same time...she also has 1/2 of 1 molar in, and the 3 others have made the gums swollen to various degrees. Hoping and praying the teeth break through soon! And now we go into the final countdown for her first birthday!

Today is also my biological father's birthday! He passed away on Aug. 15th of this year. I really don't know much about him. His name was Ronnie Hunter, I know he was living in Oklahoma with his wife on a hobby farm. I also know that he accepted Jesus into his heart just days before he died of liver failure. I do not know the year he was born. I met him 3 times in my life...at 6, 12, and 24 years of age...I am not srue how I am supposed to feel about his passing away...I don't really feel much of anything, after all, he was virtually a stranger to me. I am thankful that he and my mom choose to give me life rather than what my mom and her previous boyfriend choose to do for my older sibling. I look forward to getting to know him in heaven!

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Milestones all around!

Anna and Bailey - being more and more independent with school, learning things for the first time, that I myself do not know, and can't seem to get (such as the sax and the flute!). They are working hard on their quilt tops (and one day, I might be able to take pics of their progress!), and are enjoying getting back into a normal schedule.

Ashley - is reading so well independently these days! She is also able to take on more of a helping role with the younger ones, even being able to supervise and play with J and Seren while I am working with therapy and the twins are doing their school.

Brianna - is doing very well with her therapy, and I think I am starting to see some real improvements with it! She is able to do a good portion of her therapy on her own, and takes pride in her accomplishments. She loves seeing all the stars add up on her therapy chart, too!

Callie is doing so well with walking! Despite having really high tone still, she is back to being able to walk over 60 feet, with over 20 being her norm!

Justice - is doing very well with potty training! He has spent a couple of days naked, and sometime this week, we will be putting him in big boy underwear during the day. He is also talking up a storm!

Serenity - is not to be outdone by all of these big accomplishments and milestone being met, and decided to take her first steps yesterday! YAY for her! The took those steps 2 days shy of 11 months old. I can hardly believe she will be 11 months old tomorrow! She is such a happy baby, most of the time. When she isn't WATCH OUT. She is getting 3 molars in right now, and has not been sleeping well...she has been SCREAMING and SCREECHING terribly, almost inconsolable...poor little thing is pretty miserable at times. Here's hoping and praying that these molars come in quickly and she gets a bit of a break from teething for awhile.

I am so blessed to be here each day to witness all of these things! I am so glad to be right where I am, with my children each and every day! I praise my God for each of my children!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My dream and A Special Moment

Last year, around Christmas time, I had a dream. It was one of those dreams that seemed so real, and yet so distant...it was very short, and yet very profound to me. Then I had it again last night.

Callie's walker sat in a corner, with cobwebs all over it. I woke up almost in tears. It was like the scene in a Christmas Carol when you see Tiny Tim's little crutch in the corner.

I left my room to go sit by her bed on that cold December night, just watching her breath. Praying that God would take that image from my mind, praying for her and over her...

I don't remember how long I sat there with her, but when I finally went to bed, I had the same dream again. Only this time, I stayed with it longer. The walker sat in the corner, unused because Callie was walking and running and playing with her sisters and brother without it. The 2nd time, when I woke up, I was again close to tears, but this time they were tears of joy and of hope. I had such a determination to see this come to pass in real life! I woke up, praising God for the work He had already done in Callie, and prayed that He would continue to heal her body.

Last night, Callie woke up crying, so I broughther in bed with me. I had the longer version of the dream again. When I woke up from it, I laid there, looking at this precious little miracle sleeping peacefully beside me. I prayed for her. Praised God for her. Thanked Him for all He had done in her life and all the lessons she has taught me. She is such a blessing!

Which brings me to the moment I had today...over 2 years ago, it was determined that Callie had more than just developmental delay. She had cp. I scoured the internet to see what this would mean for her. Would she ever walk? How long might that take? Would she have any sort of a 'normal' life? How disabled is she? Only to find that each case is very different, and there really is no standard of normal for having cp. Then came the official diagnosis, where we were told she would likely never walk without an assistive device. I was so discouraged! I went back to the internet to look for videos of children walking who have cp. I found this one.


I do not know who this little girl is. I do not know anything about her story, or the journey she has taken to get to where she can walk so well. I only know that her mom posted this video of her on youtube. Being able to walk like this is surely a wonderful accomplishment for this precious little girl.

It was almost enough to make me cry, as little girl, who gave me such hope a year and a half ago, could have been Callie, TODAY! From the way this little girl's gait looks, to the way she swings her arms, to the way she says, "Almost there!" It could have been Callie. Miss Callie walked 60 feet, then grabbed the railing at the end of the hallway at therapy today. I so wish I had a camera to record this. It was truly one of those wow moments that make me stop in my tracks and thank God for all He has blessed us with and how far Callie really has come! I am so proud of her and all the hard work she has put into getting this far!

Now in truth this little girl still has more control than Callie has. But this is what I thought of when I saw Callie walking today! She was so proud of herself, and her accomplishment. Callie still raises her hands up high when she walks most of the time, like a baby just taking those first shaky steps. But it is getting better. It is not longer all the time, and if she is carrying something, she can still maintain her balance. She is also getting better at stopping in the middle of the room without having to touch the floor (something we are working on at the moment)...hopefully I will be able to make a video soon of her walking.

Callie's attitude toward therapy the last few weeks has been inspiring! Stretches hurt her, yet she is asking for me to do them. She doesn't like prone cross patterning (looks like us making her army crawl in place on the table, not so affectionately called table torture at our house), but has been asking to do it. She comes to me several time throughout the day asking if we could do some more therapy things to help her walk. She is truly amazing! What an example she sets for us!

Keep up the good work, Callie! You are doing great!

Tonight's dinner (and dessert!)

Tonight's dinner is a family favorite!

Spinach and Broccoli Quiche
Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup fresh spinach
1 cup finely chopped broccoli
5 eggs, beaten
3 cups shredded Muenster cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9 inch pie pan.
2.Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Stir in spinach and continue cooking until excess moisture has evaporated.
3.In a large bowl, combine eggs, cheese, salt and pepper. Add spinach mixture and stir to blend. Scoop into prepared pie pan.
4.Bake in preheated oven until eggs have set, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Scones
Makes 16 scones
- 2 cups unbleached flour
- 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
- ½ cup buttermilk or kefir or milk with lemon juice/vinegar to make it clabber
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Add butter. Rub with your fingers or with a pastry blender to form fine crumbs.
2. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Stir with a fork until the dough holds together.
3. Pat the dough into a ball and knead on a lightly floured board for 5 or 6 turns. Divide dough into four parts and shape each part into a smooth ball. Flatten each ball slightly into about a 4-inch circle, and cut into quarters. Place the four quarters on an ungreased baking sheet.
4. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 10 minutes. The scone they should puff up. Check for doneness (should be lightly browned) and bake about 10 minutes longer, until golden brown.
Note: Scones are great served with a honey-butter mixture and raspberry preserves.

Bailey made these scones for the fair and won a special merit for them! I think they are even better than fair scones!

Easy Double Chocolate Chip Brownies
2 cups chocolate chips (divided)
1/2 cup butter
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 t vanilla
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 13x9 baking pan.

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and butter in large saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in eggs. Stir in flour, sugar, vanilla, and baking soda. Stir in remaining chocolate chips and nuts. Spread into prepared baking pan.

Bake for 18-22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Makes 2 dozen brownies.

Ashley won a blue ribbon for these brownies, and they have become a family favorite! They are so easy to make, and taste great. We can actually start these from scratch and be eating them in less time than we could the Giradelli Brownie mix that we previously were using.

Praying for God's favor

Meet Callie, (the children's picture book I have spent the last several months working on) was sent to the first publishing house today...it should arrive by Monday. Praying for God's favor on it to be published...and patience for me while I wait out the up to 3 months for a reply!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In Honor of Lilly

In Honor of Lilly, our beloved dog, who passed away 1 year ago today, the girls got to do exactly what Lilly loved to do - PLAY. There have been several moments of, "I really miss Lilly." or "I miss having a dog." I even once heard, "It seems everyone but us has a dog." But overall, they have enjoyed their day off of school.

The girls know that as long as we live this close to the highway, it is not a good idea to have a dog...I am not sure we could handle going through something as traumatic as Lilly's death again...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Conversations

Ashley asked, "Why can't we go to the beach now?"

"Besides the van dying?"

"Yeah, besides that!"

"Because the weather is getting cooler, feel the chill in the air?" I asked, she nodded, "that means it is getting to be fall."

"Oh." She answered thoughtfully before continuing, "What can we do in the fall?"

"Lots of fun things!" I said. "Like going to the pumpkin patch, corn maze, zoo and children's museum!"

"That sounds like lots of fun...but wait! We can't do any of those things...we don't have a camera!"

For a minute there, I thought maybe she was remembering the van - but this made for a much funnier ending, lol!

As a surprise, in excitement for all the fall fun to come, the girls got out the fall decor while I was at the doctor with Callie. It was so fun to see their creativity at work to decorate the house!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Schedule is thinning out for the week!

The van is dead. We will be selling it as a mechanic's special because of how extensive the repairs will (most likely) be.

This week was shaping up to be busy...
Monday - Callie to Dr. Epley (in Totem Lake)
Tuesday - I get a CT of my foot (in Everett)
Wednesday - Callie's PT (in Everett)
Thursday - Piano lessons (at the house) and Choir/Band (in Granite Falls)
Friday - a day of rest...

But without the van to take us to all of these places, and the bus needed to get new injectors (at least)...my schedule has simplified itself to only the most important...

Monday - Dr. Epley with Callie
Thursday - try to find a way for the older 4 to get to choir/band

Everything else is in the non-essential category, and therefore gets scratched off the to do list! I feel bad for missing my ct as it is something I will need before they can help me with the screws coming out of my foot...I also feel bad about Callie missing PT as she is super tight, and I really *do* need help to loosen her up...but I just can't make very many appointments this week...and I will continue to do all of her therapy things at home in the meantime, working to stretch her out on my end. (Soft tissue doesn't stretch out very quickly...)

God knows exactly what we need to make it to, much better than we do, so I am trusting in Him and seeking His wisdom on the things I feel we need to do...and am thankful that we have smaller vehicles that I could use to take a couple of children with me, and a husband who works from home so I can leave the rest! God is good, all the time!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Oops, van repair more involved than we anticipated...

I can not express just how glad I am that we didn't try to fix the starter at Dick's last night...or how thankful I am for being able to tow the van home, free of charge since uncle Jann was with us and has AAA! I praise God for a good night's sleep for everyone in their own beds this morning.

It is looking more like a mechanical failure, as in my engine has seized. Something is actually STUCK in the engine so the starter is not able to turn it over. It is probably a lot more serious than we had anticipated...possibly we will need to get a new engine block to repair it...

I am praying for God's wisdom on whether or not to repair this van or to just put the funds into the bus to get it up an running for Chris. I am also praying for wisdom on how to make it to upcoming appointments this week...Callie is supposed to see Dr. Epley on Monday, I am supposed to have a CT of my foot on Tuesday, Callie has pt on Wednesday and choir/band starts (for the older 4) on Thursday. This is a really busy week, with some really important things to make it to (such as Dr. Epley, since I *do* have some concerns about Callie's eyes right now, and knowing we may need to take Callie in so her pcp can see her feet and get something going for that)...

I am resting easy in the idea that God knows what we *need* and already has it worked out! He is good, all the time!

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Great Day - that didn't quite go as planned!

The plan was to get up, get as much therapy and school done (I was hoping for 90% with Brianna, 50% with Callie, Bible, Math, Reading and Piano Practice...we missed the Reading, so I felt pretty good about it!) then go to the zoo, leaving the house by 10:30.

I was on my way out the door at 10:39, and felt really good about that...until...

The van wouldn't start. I had to get someone to bring their car over to jump it. Minor set back, but we were NOW ready to go!

The van seemed to run a little rough, but all in all, it sometimes does that, so I just took note of it. Then I noticed that I could almost *see* the gas gauge going down...it took us 1/3 of a tank of gas to make it to the zoo (1/4 tank should have been good for the round trip). But it is highly suspected that my thermostat is stuck open, which would basically make it run rich...

We had a great time at the zoo! We met cousins there who fairly recently moved away...we only saw about 5 animals, but had a great time visiting and playing!

Got everyone back to the van, and wasn't able to start it...fortunately, since we were there with people, and my awesome husband had the forethought to put the cables in my van for me, we were able to jump it to get it going again.

We had dinner at Dick's, a local burger drive in. Again, I couldn't get the van started afterwards...we brought another vehicle over (on the sidewalk in front of my van, lol!) and couldn't even jump it.

In the end, my uncle was gracious enough to let us use his AAA membership to tow the van home...and he followed in his truck so we had enough seat belts.

It is thought that it might be a starter issue, or perhaps the head gasket along with the stuck thermostat...my amazing husband is working on it right now! What a blessing it is to have such a hard working, faithful man, who does so much for our family! I am so blessed by him!

This would have been a great day to have my camera - oh the things we do for fun, lol! (Parking pick up trucks on side walks so we can jump the van, or when we were all piling into uncle Jann's truck - with 3 in the bed because that is the only way to get us anywhere, or going to the zoo with cousins...)

I see days like this as a great way to teach my children how to deal with it. I get to teach them to watch for certain smells (like the smell of overheating antifreeze) or what something could mean (such as losing coolant out of somewhere just behind the radiator on Wednesday - didn't lose any fluid today thanks to a wonderful Father In Law who replaced the leaky gaskets to the water pump!). I get to teach them that it is ok, God is good all the time. We don't HAVE to be in a big hurry, it is just something that happened. I think it is important for people to have at least a basic understanding of how an engine works so they can do a bit of trouble shooting, and that now is a great time for the twins to start gaining that kind of knowledge.

The only thing I wish I could have changed is that Callie didn't get back to her therapy this evening...so she only had a 1/2 day today...which is ok as long as tomorrow is a full day...and if that is the worst thing I can say about how today went, it was probably a good day overall! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why oh, why does it have to be so diffecult?!

I have spent a great deal of time (HOURS) both today and yesterday on the phone, talking with different clinics at Children's Hospital, Callie's PCP office, the foot doctor Callie saw, and Callie's neurodevelopmental therapist...all trying to figure out how best to help Callie with her increased tone.

Callie is saying her foot hurts on the spots that are hitting against her AFOs...and there are sores to prove her point!

The doctor we were initially referred to by the foot specialist, does not see children under 16 years of age. So this is clearly not an option.

The best department for Callie at Children's Hospital, is neurodevelopmental, where they deal with a lot of cp and spasticity issues. In order to get her into the clinic, we would need to have her pcp fax a referral, which would mean she wouldn't be seen until NOVEMBER, when their next available appointment is.

Then there is the time issue. The longer she goes, the more potential damage there will be to Callie's foot. The problem is that Callie's tone, while it is through the roof for HER, is still not that bad in the grand scheme of things. When evaluating how bad her tone is, and learning she wears off the shelf orthotics, I was asked how many pairs of them she has broken in the last month since her tone has increased...um, none...which puts her in a category of 'able to wait.' My hope is that by the time our appointment would come up, we have her worked down to where her tone isn't so much of an issue, lol!

Meanwhile, I was told it would be a good idea to see if botox would be covered under our insurance...initially they said it was cosmetic, and nothing cosmetic is cover end under our insurance plan...even after explaining the situation, they wanted to come back and say it was not medically necessary...a very common issue with our insurance!

At least I understand Children's Hospital seeing the most severe cases first, or those on a first come first serve for anyone else! The insurance company is just working on making my life more complicated, lol!

A fun and productive day

We had a very busy, exciting day!

It started off with getting ready to go this morning - with 7 children, this takes some doing! Especially since, I needed everyone to get at least *some* school done in advance!

First, we went to physical therapy for Callie. Just as we were getting off highway 2, I noticed my temp gauge was too high. As I watched it while we waiting for the next 2 lights, I decided we were indeed overheating. I was able to get it to therapy before we *had* to stop.

At pt, Callie did a great job,and was worked very hard. Because of her increased tone, and the issues with her feet, her pt gave us homework - this is almost miraculous, as I have been trying to get her to SHOW me what would help Callie at home, rather than trying to do as much as she can for Callie there, and then leave us with, "See you next time!"

The twins also did a great job watching everyone in the playroom at the center! I was shocked that they allowed the twins to be in charge there, but so glad as it made for a much better session for Callie.

Afterwards, it was back to the van, so I could refill the radiator!

We then went over to the Children's Museum, since it is so close to Callie's pt. Everyone had a great time! They even had a few new things set up for everyone to explore - including a big floor piano. I had to show the girls how to do the start of chopsticks on it, lol! Then the twins worked on some of their piano pieces on it - all while stepping around the younger ones, who were having fun with it, too, lol!

Since the Children's Museum is literally 6 blocks from pt, I decided I didn't need to refill the radiator from there...bit mistake! 1/2 way across the trestle, I was overheating once again...oops! A BIG thank you to friends, who were thankfully home, where we could stop and refill...

At this point, because having some vehicle trouble isn't enough, the temp gauge decided to STOP WORKING. I barely made it to Monroe, before I could SMELL how HOT the van was, so I pulled into a gas station to let it cool, and refill the radiator once again.

Then I was able to make to home before needing to stop.

All in all, it was a very busy day - and one of the best things, is that with all this going on, we still got The 1 Year Bible reading, scripture memory, ALL of therapy for BOTH Callie and Breezy, reading, piano, and some of the household chores accomplished!

Since all of that, I was even able to start on J's stocking which arrived in the mail on Monday. I am looking forward to getting it done for him this Christmas!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Callie's feet

For the last couple weeks or so, we have noticed Callie's feet really bowing in the middle. Kind of reminiscent of the way my foot did before my surgery. Mine was from a break. After taking Callie to a specialist (the same one who made it possible for me to walk without agonizing pain), it is determined that hers is caused by her increase in tone. The combination of getting really sick and dehydrated, a big growth spurt, and lack of therapy have culminated to bring her tone really high (for her).

The bottom line is that her soft tissues(tendons, ligaments and muscles), are so tight that they are actually crushing her cartilage and will deform her bones if nothing changes. The Dr. Told us with the amount of torque she is putting on her feet, it will happen in a matter of weeks...and we are already 2-3 weeks into it.

We have been given modified versions of some of her stretches to really target the issues she is having, and hopefully loosen up her soft tissues to release the tension on her feet.

We were also given a referral to take her to a specialist for botox injections to release some of her spasticity instantly.

If we fail to get her tension released, this tension will continue, and will deform her bones, causing her a great deal of pain (she is already in some pain over this). It may even necessitate surgery.

Anyone know anything about botox injections and risks associated with it? All I really know so far, is that it is a neurotoxin, which weakens muscles.

I don't like the idea of injecting her with toxins (aka, poison) of any kind...but it may be the lesser of 2 evils!

As of right now, the clinic can't get us in until the end of October, which really is too late...please pray for some sort of cancellation, and for wisdom on how to proceed.

No child comes with an instruction manual, and as parents, it is our job to prayerfully make the best decisions we can for each child...but having to deal with special needs, definitely complicates things! (And Callie's disabilities and comparably MILD! I couldn't image the decisions that so many parents face on a daily basis that truly are life and death choices - my heart and prayers go out to them!)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Conversations

Callie said, "J, do you want to go play with me? We could play cars."

J, "Yeah, sure!" And he runs towards the stairs.

Callie calls after him, while making her way to her feet, "J do you want to help me walk downstairs?"

J, "Yeah, sure!"

"Ok, come home my hand."

"ome on allie, et's o ars!" (Translation, "Come on Callie, let's go, cars!" He drops most the first consonant sounds from his words.)

"J you have to hold me hand to help me walk slower."

"Ok."

"Good job, brother!"

The picture would have been worth a thousand words as the 2 of them made their way down the hall and towards the stairs (where I waited to stop them before J 'helped' Callie down!)...

I love that my children enjoy playing together, that they help eachother, and encourage one another! What a blessing it is to get to be here with them each and every day!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Joining the bandwagon...9/11/01 remembered

I have read many blog posts today of people talking about where they were 10 years ago...so here is my recollection:

My day started like any other. I got up and took care of my 10 month old twins. I nursed them. changed diapers. Got them dressed. We played. When they went down for their morning nap, I decided it was a good time to shampoo the carpets. We were going to be out all afternoon, and the warm sun would help the floors to dry before we returned.

At about lunch time, I loaded the girls up in the van for our volunteer session at Evergreen Hospital for the parent/baby class. All the way there, I heard reports of "the Space Needle and all of Seattle Center, including the Science Center, is closed while the investigation for a possible terrorist attack continues." NEVER did they say anything about the World Trade Center, or New York, or hijacked planes.

It wasn't until I made it to the hospital that I learned what had happened. I walked in and in the lobby was a TV that was replaying the horrors of what had happened. I remember thinking that it looked surreal. More like a disaster movie than anything that could POSSIBLY be happening in real life! It was a small class that day. I do not remember what the topic was supposed to be, but everyone talked about New York. I was surprised to find I was the only one there who didn't know someone in NYC. I kept watching the footage of tower one in flames, with smoke billowing out, and the 2nd tower being hit by the plane. I held my twins and wondered what the future would hold for them. I wondered what kind of world we would have over the next few days, weeks, months, and years. I held them more tightly than normal, as I thought of all those people who had lost a loved one over the course of the day. People who had gone to work as normal, or who had boarded a plane, thinking it wasn't much different than any other day. I thought about the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives to save others.

I listened as President Bush talked about the resilience of the American Spirit, and that we would strike back. I wondered what that would look like.

I prayed all the way home that day. And when my husband came home that night, I was so thankful he was there. I thought about all of those who lost a loved one, who had gone to work as normal, but would not be coming home.



Each year that has passed, I have had the duty, obligation and honor, to teach my children in an age appropriate manor about this day. What it meant. And how it has effected our country. I get to answer the hard questions about why anyone would do such a thing. And why didn't God stop it from happening. It gives us an opportunity to talk about God being good ALL the time. That He didn't cause this, that it is the result of evil being in the world. It is just one of the results of sin and why we need God in our lives.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Excited to be Back to School

For us, this is an exciting time! We love to get back to our normal routine. The older 4 started piano this week. On one hand, I was a bit disappointed at what they forgot. On the other hand, I am very excited at how quickly it is coming back (at least to Ashley - I didn't help the older 2 with practice today. Tomorrow I will see how they are doing!)



The twins are also now old enough to play in the band that is in conjunction with our homeschool choir! They are so excited about their new instruments! Bailey has chosen the flute, which she has talked about wanting to play for 2 years! Anna had a much harder choice...nothing seemed as interesting to her as the violin...but that is just not going to work in a BAND. At first, she thought about playing flute like Bailey, but has since decided she really likes the saxophone! She is now very excited to get to play the sax!

We are picking up where we left off in memorizing Philippians 1. So far, we are up to working on verse 10. I was hoping to get chapter 1 done this summer, but when I don't have a firm schedule, I just don't get things, even important things like Bible lessons done...

We will be starting to add everything in slowly. For now, we are adding in Bible, therapy, character training, music lessons, and home ec.

Thanks for taking the pictures, my Love! It already seems like it has been far too long since we have had pics on the blog, lol!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fair entry collection day

It actually took us over an hour to walk around and collect all of our exhibits...

Now we have everything home!

Anna has 7 blue ribbons, 4 red ribbons, 1 white ribbon, 1 participation ribbon, 1 educational display recognition ribbon, 1 white rosette, and 1 tan special rosette! For a grand total of 16!

Bailey has 10 blue ribbons, 6 red ribbons, 1 participation ribbon, 1 educational display recognition ribbon, 1 merit award ribbon, a special award rosette, and a red rosette. For a grand total of 21!

Ashley has 4 blue ribbons, 1 red ribbon, 1 white ribbon, 1 participation ribbon, and a red rosette. For a grand total of 8!

Brianna has 1 white ribbon, 1 participation ribbon, 3 blue rosettes, and a merit award ribbon. For a grand total of 6!

Great job girls! I praise God for your creativity and your ability to learn new skills! I am so proud of all you have done and all of the hard work each of you put into your entries! Way to go, girls!

Prayer Request (for myself)

I have mentioned on here before, that I am working on writing a children's book. I am sending my book into a publisher this week. Please pray for favor. It is really hard to get a FIRST book published. Most books end up lost in the slush pile. With the way the economy is, most christian publishers are not accepting non-solicited work as they have had to lay off all "non-essential" personnel. It is also very difficult to find an agent who is willing to work with an unpublished author to submit to these publishing houses. Another difficulty is the change in publishing in recent years. So many are going electronic, that publishing companies are not publishing as many books in general.

The publisher I am submitting to this week publishes both Christian children's books and christian homeschool curriculum. I would be both honored and proud to have them publish my work!

J's stocking will be...

My very favorite stocking that I have been wanting to make for a little boy for the last 5 or so years...Drummer Boy! It should get here next week, and I can hardly wait to get started on it!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Starting a new schedule

Wouldn't you know it? After 3 weeks of sleeping very well, Serenity had a TERRIBLE night...the night before we were to start a new schedule - but it wasn't just Seren! J and Callie ALSO had TERRIBLE nights! No one slept well! Poor Callie kept waking to tell me her legs hurt (a result of being back into therapy? Another growth spurt? too much walking yesterday?). J woke up because of the girls...then wouldn't go back to sleep! At one point, he was downstairs alone getting himself a drink of water! That is when we put him in our bed so we could ALL get some sleep!

I just couldn't get up this morning to start the day off right! We got a late start, but overall, have done pretty well considering just how rocky the start was. As is always the case with a new schedule, I have some tweaking that needs to happen, but it is definitely a good, workable start!

Christmas

I know, it is really early...since I can't take any pictures to show what is going on around here, I thought I would let you in on what is going on in my head, lol!

Right about this time of year, I start getting ready for Christmas. With 7 children and my inlaws living here, it takes several pay periods to set aside the money to finance it...I also like to have time to collect a list of things that people will really enjoy!

This year, I am looking to change things a bit. I used to try to make Christmas 'look good' by getting as many presents for each child as I felt that took - it was CRAZY!

Then I took a page from a friend, who said she gets 3 presents for each of her boys, because if it was good enough for the Messiah, it is good enough for them! We have done that now, for the last 3 years, and I love it!

We also do Secret Sibling gifts, so each child is getting 4 items...plus stockings.

This year, I am thinking we may do 1 gift from Jesus, 1 from Dad and Mom, and the SS gift to make a total of 3 + the stocking.

I am also really hoping and praying to be able to get the Drummer Boy stocking kit for a reasonable price for J. The Ebay auction ends tomorrow, so I will know very soon if this is going to be possible or not!

One of the things getting fewer gifts for each child has really meant for me is that I need to really plan out what will make each child light up and be completely thrilled! I have figured out what some of those items are for my girls, but not all yet...still working on it! J is super easy as he loves anything with wheels or that makes noise...I found something that does/has both! Not sure what his other present from us will be yet, but when I see it, I am sure it will jump out at me as this first one has! Brianna is still easy and so many things excite her! Ashley and Anna have very specific things that make them very excited...so again, not too hard.

Bailey is a lot harder for me. She loves anything that is 'grown up.' She enjoys sewing, embroidery, helping with younger ones, cooking and baking...those are hard things to package for Christmas though! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...but don't post them here! Email them to cpence19@yahoo.com

We normally do not get much for the baby of the family. She will still be taking 2 naps/day, so once she opens her SS gift, she goes up for a nap and misses the majority of the festivities!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A public thank you to my amazing twins!

Last night, I stayed up fine tuning our schedule that is to start on Monday...I wasn't up with sick children or nursing babies...it really was just quiet, so I kept working...then I made several blog posts before being so tired, I could hardly keep my eyes open. Definitely shame on me, lol!

This morning, my twins let me sleep in until NINE AM! They made breakfast, helped Callie get 12 therapy activities done, helped Breezy accomplish activities, got the dishwasher unloaded and reloaded, and started laundry!

They have now asked to bottle feed Dinner, and to then go out and play, a request that I, of course, have granted!

Girls, thank you so much for all of your hard work! You are such blessings to me! You have done a fantastic job at each task you tackled this morning, and I am so proud of you!

Now, I am off to keep the momentum going for therapy! If we can get a full day today, we can take tomorrow OFF (which is a much needed break after 8 full days and a 1/2 day since our last day off!)

Which stocking for J?

With fall just around the corner, and J being 2 years old, it is time (at least by our family's standards!) to find a stocking I can make for him!

In our family, the Christmas after you turn 2, you get a stocking (before that, stocking stuffers are too much of a choking hazard). I make each of my children their own stocking. It is a special tradition for us, because Chris' mom made his stocking, and my mom made mine. The other requirement I have is that the stocking has to have to do with Jesus in some way.

Here are the top 3 front runners that I like most at the moment (in no particular order):

Holy Nativity

Away In A Manger

Drummer Boy

Any thoughts on which one you like best?

Did I read my calendar right?!

Is it really September? How could that possibly be? That would mean we *really* need to get back to the school books, and regular routine of things!

Ok, so really, it isn't my calendar...as I do not currently have one - it is on my list of things I need to pick up tomorrow, lol!

Last week, we started adding in therapy (my last post details that one!)...which actually takes MORE time than school!

This week, we will be starting with a new (hopefully) improved schedule, new chore charts, getting back to school and continuing the good start we have on therapy, not to mention taking care of calves...here's hoping we can wean Dinner, VERY soon!

I love that we get to set our own schedule for homeschooling...start our day as we see fit as it works in our schedules, decide to have school or not, get as in depth as we would like in any given project, etc...I am really looking forward to getting back to some more formal studies! (Even though we technically had the summer off, all the work the girls put into their Fair entries, was certainly school related! Needlepoint, baking, cooking, sewing, art, design, photography...lots of real life practical experience has been gained with all of this! And that doesn't include learning about farm animals in classes taught by a homeschooled teen, and learning about/caring for calves. So they have most certainly been learning all summer long!)

Getting back to therapy...

This has been our longest break from therapy yet...almost 2 months! It started with us just missing a day. Then it turned into 2 days...then 3, and pretty soon a week had gone by. Then we got the calves, and I said after we get them settled in and the extra work in our normal schedule. Then everyone got sick, and I thought we would get back to it when everyone was feeling better...The excuses just keep coming though!

I have found that when I miss even 1 day, it is hard to get back to it! Missing that 1 day makes it easier to miss another day. The guilt becomes less and less the more days I miss...

But we are back to it now in full force! Today makes a full week that both Callie and Brianna have done their therapy.

Callie has really suffered from not doing her therapy program! She is very tight. It is now very difficult, even painful for her to move around. 1 week ago, Callie couldn't walk across the room because of skipping therapy! We are seeing pretty fast results in her right now! She is still struggling and still stiff/sore/tight, but she can walk across the room again!

Brianna is going the other direction...she is having a hard time following directions, concentrating, and making good choices. I am hopeful this means that things are changing in her brain, and we will see some forward progress soon! For Callie the process took about a month or maybe 6 weeks. We are a full week into it now, and hoping that next month, we will see that progress. The last time, we were faithful for about a month, before basically giving up because of her negative behavioral changes - which I did expect, but was a bit overwhelmed by the extent of it. Here's praying for God's strength to help me push past it this time!

I have been so UNfaithful to getting the girls' therapy done, that we will not be going in to get new programs next week. We will instead, go with what we have, and wait until January to see Cyndi Ringoen.

For this first week, we have done 6 full days of therapy, and 1 day that we managed about 25% of their activities. The program is meant to be done 5 1/2 days each week. Thursdays will be our 1/2 day, and Sunday will be our day off...at least that is the plan!

Fair update

The older 4 girls have (so far) brought in 45 ribbons for various places and 3 ribbons for participation. Bailey was awarded a rosette on her photo of J w/the calves. The girls had several other awards, honorable mentioned, and merit awards, too!

Judging took place today for the remaining 2 items the girls have entered. Everyone is very excited!

Way to go girls! I am so proud of all the hard work you put into all of the Fair entries. You have done very well!

*I would love to post some pictures of my children enjoying the fair, but while we were there, my camera decided to completely die. I now only get a message that says lens error when I turn the camera on, and it shuts itself down...