Monday, June 30, 2008

The newest addition to our church family


I had the wonderful opportunity to photograph the newest little addition to our church family today...little Miss Camdyn. She's a week old and is just the cutest little thing. You really do quickly forget how small they are when they are first born! Her big sister, Carrigan, is the most friendly 2 year old, and I just soak up all of her hugs and kisses every time I am around her. She is going to be a great big sister. Thanks for the fun time today, guys...I had a blast! More photos are on the photography blog.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The disadvantages to not having to change the roll as much


A Charmin Mega Roll of toilet peppah will stretch from our bathroom...clear across the entire length of the house...all the way to the window in Nathan's room.

Take a wild guess as to how I know this pertinent bit of information.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Being with Dawn is always a trip


Okay, okay, apologies all around for the lack of posting. My dear hubby came home last night bearing gifts...cool Canadian gifts and coins with funny things like sailboats on them and stuff. Emma was so excited that daddy was bringing home "ho ho presents" which totally means that she thought it was Christmastime but it makes me laugh every time she says it. We were all excited to see Jay and hear stories of what life was like all the way across the country. Pretty much, life's the same...only more expensive and a little cooler over there. Whodathunkit?
Dawn and William left yesterday, and we miss them terribly. Dawn in one of my bestest friends in the whole wide worldecees, and I hate that we only get to see eachother once every 6 months or so. We stayed up way too late each night trying to fit all of our conversations into just 3 days, and the aftermath of very little sleep is a killer now. But I wouldn't trade it for anything. It was so great to spend time with them.
William was a hoot. The girls loved having a boy around...since Nate is still just a baby, they really have no idea what boys are all about. William taught them about Gator Tractors, trains, trucks and being able to pee on trees. In return, the girls taught him the ins and outs of being a princess. (Sorry, David!)
Note to self: buy boy dress-up stuff before Nathan turns 3.

Gosh, we had a great week. We laughed until tears were streaming down our face and we were trying our darndest to prevent post-pregnancy incontinence. We talked about the "what ifs" of parenting and the tough decisions we face in raising our children in the world we live in today. We shared our inner-most thoughts and feelings about certain life experiences. It was a blast...thanks so much for coming, girl! I miss ya!!
More pictures of William are on the photography blog. Isn't that kiddo gorgeous?
Next week will be the last week of our "crazy-busy-don't-really-know-what-day-it-is" summer. Jay's parents come in on Monday and his sister, brother-in-law and kiddos come in on Wednesday. Earlier, when we were counting down the days until they arrived, Abby asked "And then who is coming when they leave?" It's been a fun-filled summer with lots of friends and family, and we have enjoyed every single minute of it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

4 months


My darling son,

Happy 4 months, Nate. I know that it seems to be a little insignificant that you are another month older, but that means so much to me...more than I ever thought it would. Oh, it has been a wonderful month, Nathan. The Lord has blessed you and us abundantly this month, and I treasure this time he has put you and the girls in our lives even more than I did before. You are special, my son.
You have gained strength in leaps and bounds this month. You are a curious little fella who loves to push from our shoulder just enough so that you can see the world around you. You love to stand in our laps, and your legs are extremely strong. You are pushing up very well and enjoy laying on your stomach so you can watch your sisters at play.Today's 4 month well visit with our pediatrician put you at 13 pounds, 6 ounces and 25 inches long. You are a chunk-a-lunk in our eyes, but still on the smaller scale in relation to others kiddos your age. In the words of your pediatrician, "It is simply amazing to see the difference in him now versus a month ago. We may never figure out what was causing all of Nathan's problems, but the way he is now is truly an answer to prayer." I totally agree with her, son. It is completely evident over and over again that the Lord answered our prayers for you...not only evident to us and those around us, but evident to your doctors and therapists as well. When one of the front office ladies (one of the gals who wants to hold you each time we go) at your therapy place found out that you didn't have SMA, she instantly teared up and started kissing your head over and over again while saying "Thank the Lord, thank the Lord, thank the Lord."
Today, you were diagnosed with pectus excavatum. We have noticed over the past couple of weeks that the middle part of your chest sinks in pretty far at times and just seems flimsy, and upon investigation at last week's PT session, Maria said that she couldn't find your sternum. She gave me a lot of info on pectus excavatum and told me to ask your pediatrician about it at today's appt. As soon as I asked her about it, she confirmed the physical therapist's suspicions and said that you did indeed have this congenital deformity. The lack of strength in your trunk area seems to be causing the defect to be more pronounced, but we hope that with continued therapy and exercises, it will start to develop better over time. This is one more puzzle piece, Nate...and we are still praying for you diligently. You are special to us, my son.
Gone are the days when all you needed for entertainment was a ceiling fan to watch going round and round. You are reaching for toys with improved accuracy every day, and you are even pulling them to your mouth some. But if there is someone for you to look at and flirt with, you will ignore toys alltogether to spend a little time studying whoever is close to you. You love people. You love faces. You stare intently at eyes and mouth and the features of everyone around you. And if that person glances in your direction, you will grin from ear to ear in delight. I often wonder what is going through that head of your's. What are you thinking about? What are you studying so intently about others?

Oh, you are so sweet. I just love putting youd head full of growing fuzz against my chest and taking in your baby smell. I love kissing your face and watching you try to return the affection with an open-mouthed slobbery goodness of a kiss. I love the gutteral laugh you give when I tickle your neck with my chin. I love how you greet me with the sweetest smile ever when I get you from your crib. I love how you talk to yourself when you look in the mirror. I love watching you grow and develop...get stronger, reach milestones.
I nursed you for the very last time a couple of nights ago. You are still waking once in the middle of the night, and I was nursing you duing this time each night because it was a whole heckofalot easier than making a bottle with sleep-filled eyes. A couple of nights ago, I realized that the end of my nursing days was here and decided to stay awake and enjoy that last session with you before the cow was put out to pasture one last time. It was a good era while it lasted.

I love you Nathan. I am thankful for you. You are special to us, my son. Happy 4 months!

Monday, June 23, 2008

And this week continues our busiest month of the year


Jay headed on down the road a bit to spend the week at a meeting in Vancouver...as in Canada...as in had to get a passport with a funny looking photo and everything and travel literally across the country. Neither one of us thought to check the weather over yonder before he packed, so he showed up in usual Florida gear of shorts and a t-shirt. I mean, it's summer...everywhere is hot in the summer.

It's currently 56 degrees in Vancouver. But he says it is absolutely gorgeous there. Very Beastly. Here, where it is a good 40 degrees hotter, I am nursemaid to a little munchkin with a fever that soars as high as 104 degrees every once in a while. Miss Emma had a fever come on so suddenly yesterday that she got sick to her stomach. Visions of a nasty stomach virus sweeping through our camp danced in my head, but thankfully it seems that the emptying of contents from her esophageal region was due to her fever spiking...or else, that's what my motherly instincts have told me.

My good friend, Dawn Brantley, and her son were coming to spend the week with us, so I made the prefunctory heads-up call that we are plagued with somethingoranother. The saint decided to come anyway and risk exposure to the mystery fever. Thankfully, Emma's fever is starting to drop. In the meantime, she is getting her fill of an all-day tivoed Dora the Explorer marathon and shouting out "Ma, (in her best Jersey with a southern flair accent) I need a cheese-stick!"

We're having a good ole' time up in here...mystery fever and all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Things I learned while on vacation


~Abby hides under the covers each night so we won't see that she still sucks her thumb to go to sleep, but she will be the first one to pipe up and say what a big girl she is since she "stopped" sucking her thumb. You know, because "thumb-sucking is for babies like Emma and Nate". ~Since bear-bear made a surprise debut at the beach one day, he was engulfed in such a funky odor for rest of the trip that we couldn't stand within 10 feet of Emma. For the future, hotel-provided shampoo and a hotel-provided sink make for a great make-shift washing machine for funky stuffed animals.
~Nathan may just be the sweetest and most laid back baby EVER!
~The exact moment that you get "settled" at the beach or pool, someone is going to need to go to the bathroom. Note Exhibit A.
~If Emma falls asleep for 2 minutes at 6:00pm, she will still be bounching off the walls at 9:00pm. At least it gave me someone to watch the sunset with while Jay was off receiving some really cool award at this meeting's banquet. Go baby! You're a BEAST! ~Speaking of sunsets...one of my favorite parts of each day this week, and it was just right outside our balcony. This year's trip to Marco Island was such a relaxing and wonderful trip. It is seriously one of my favorite places to go, and I look forward to heading down there for a few days each summer. The girls enjoyed the sugar-soft sands and the clear water at the beach, and Abby especially enjoyed the water slide at the pool this year...she counted every single time she slid down it. Emma also slid down it once and I caught her at the end as she had the look of terror written all over her face. And she will tell anyone about it... "I chied, chied, chied. I no likey the slide." Ah yes, something else I learned on this trip was that when Mama gets to "sleep in a few minutes longer", daddy is out on the patio feeding the girls oreo cookies and peanuts for breakfast. All I could was laugh when he said that Emma ate A LOT for breakfast that morning. To put me in that camp too, I realized that upon arrival at our home tonight, the girls had consumed probably about 4 ounces of liquid all day. Nice. Go mom! I also learned that no matter how cute a picture may be, jumping for the camera is not...I repeat, IS NOT worth breaking a toe over. Seriously! This cute, and yet not all that technically savvy picture, broke my stinkin' toe. It's the little piggy that had no roast beef on my left foot...although I really wished I would have packed it some of that left-over post-baby percocet to use over the past few days. As I was rushing to pick up the camera, that piggy that had no roast beef got caught on the leg of the beach chair Abby and Nate are sitting in...and I instantly knew that it was broken. It took a good couple of hours for the black line to form all the way around my toe, and half of my foot was swollen and bruised by the time I woke up the next morning. All for a stinkin' mediocre shot. The things we'll do to freeze memories. Nathan was so great all week. He can still sleep anywhere as long as his left thumb is attached and suckable, and he is just so easy-going. I know that he was really glad to be home and in his own bed tonight, but this trip was really easy with him. The girls loved the trip. We played at the beach and pool every morning, came inside and took naps during the daily Florida thunderstorms we love so much in the summertime, went to dinner or ordered-in, and then went back swimming before bedtime. After a shelly year at the beach last year, it was soft as ever this year, and the coquinas and shells that the girls love gathering were gorgeous and plentiful. The water was so clear that you could see the fish nibbling at your legs, and we even saw a few dolphins as we were leaving the island today. We made our yearly Marco-excursion to Cold Stone where the girls enjoyed ice cream no matter if they finished their dinner or not. We went to breakfast this morning at the same spot we have gone the past 3 years, and I realized that I loved that this meeting was held at the same location year after year...we know what to expect and look forward to when we go down there. And we love it!!
The trip was what we needed. We may be a little exhausted from the trip and vacation, but we are rested. I was able to read one of the books I took and start the other one...something that I seldom do at home, and I enjoyed not having to worry about if the clothes were folded or the dishasher was unloaded. All of our kiddos seemed to enjoy themselves, and it was nice to not have to worry about Nathan's health all that much while we were there. All in all, it was a wonderful time we had as a family...a trip that has created many memories that will be not easily be forgotten. I have tons more pictures from this trip that will more than likely show up at random times over the past week or so.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Florida or Bust!


DVD player with lots and DVDs so we can create some sort of Disney-induced stupor among our children and receive only the sound of a movie blaring in our ears as sweet payment? Check.

Individual coloring books, individual sticker sheets, and crayons in little individual plastic bags so we can start the trip off in a non-combative sort of way? Check.

Copious amounts of junk food for snacking...because it's vacation and all? Check.
Sand toys, wagon to carry sand toys, towels, beach chairs, umbrella, and bouncy chair to carry to the beach so the girls can play for 20 minutes and declare that they want to head back to the pool? Check.

The 2 books that I intend to read while away? Check.

The 3 magazines that I will more than likely read instead? Check.
The pictures that are still waiting to be sent to grandparents that I fully intend to package up and send while we are away...but am only just taking them because it makes me feel better when I secretly know that I won't send them off until we get back home? Check.

Sunscreen that is intended to be sprayed on both arms for full effect? Check.

Aloe for that dang arm I seem to always forget? Check.

Camera to capture all of the kids' funny moments? Check. Burp cloths and countless outfits to change the "little spitter" into even if most of the pictures I take are of him/them/whatever are semi-nekkid? Check. We are headed to Marco Island after Nate's PT appointment in the morning. Jay has a wonderful meeting ("wonderful" meaning that the kids and I get to go with him and lounge by the beach and pool all day) down there for the rest of the week. Me loves these kinds of meetings! Be back in a few days.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

When mama's on the phone, the mice will play


Alternate Title: Remember to add "chapstick" to the Walmart list

Alternate Alternate Title: Do you realize how hard this was to get out of her hair?

Alternate times 3 title: Anyone want a 2 year old for a couple of weeks?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Joy Unspeakable


Nathan slept through the night for the very first time last night and awoke as a smiley little guy at 7:00 this morning. It just keeps getting better! I woke up at 6:00am to check on him and then was just so excited to start the new day with a lighter load that I couldn't go back to sleep.

With the extreme heaviness of this burden lifted from our shoulders, it is almost as if we are walking on air. We have a new found "giddy-up" in our step. The smiles have not left our faces. And every few minutes, I feel the urge to lift my eyes toward heaven and just say "Thank you"...over and over and over again.

Oh, it was a good day. No, it was a great day. We danced around the living room and the girls and I twirled each other until we were so dizzy that all we could do was lay on the floor and watch the ceiling spin. We laughed. We smiled. All day long.

I held Nathan's sweet-smelling head against my chest numerous times and just rocked him back and forth. I talked to him about God's precious mercy and love, and Nate smiled from ear to ear. And for the first time in a while, I allowed myself to picture our son at different ages...his first birthday, his first steps, teaching him how to ride a tricycle, buying him a big boy bed, telling him to take his hat off during dinner. For the past few weeks, I have shaken my head free of these images, so it was so good to picture him in our family for many years to come.

I have wanted to climb on top of the house and shout "Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!" But more than anything, there are no words available to describe the feeling of utter elation and extreme thankfulness. Everything I think or say just doesn't seem enough. It's too small for the magnitude the Lord has blessed us with.

I started running in the evenings a few weeks ago. I longed for some quiet time for prayer, and quiet is something that is rare during the day with three little ones. This time in the evenings was wonderful for my soul and body...I have immensely enjoyed my talks with God during these times. Tonight was an especially sweet time. I tried so desperately to convey my thankfulness to my Lord, but the words just couldn't fit together and all I could muster through tear-filled eyes was...

Thank you, Lord.

Thank you, Lord.

Thank you, Lord.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Grace, then Mercy, then Peace


He gives us grace.

When we received the neurologist's preliminary diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy for Nathan, it was news that we could not handle on our own. Jay and I just held each other that night and cried so hard that we shook from head to toe. We knew he had it...the neurologist was confident, Nathan had so many of the symptoms...we were going to lose our son. Our only son.

The next few days were filled with tears and sadness as we talked about our plans for Nathan's care, about how we were going to take care of the girls through such difficult circumstances, and about praying that our marriage would stay strong and that we stay on the same page through all of this.

One day about 3 weeks ago, Nathan was having an especially rough day. His grey episodes were frequent, and he just didn't seem like himself. He was unusually fussy all day, and his breathing just looked horrible. I tried everything I could to calm his breathing rate down, but nothing seemed to be working. I was frightened. He looked so sick.

As I laid him in his crib that night, I slowly stroked his head and prayed "Lord, I know that you don't need my permission, but if you want to take our son home to be with you, you can have him. But I ask that you please take him while he is sleeping so he doesn't suffer." I kissed his fuzzy head and wondered if it would be the last time I would kiss him alive.

I was heartbroken that evening, but I also knew that Nathan was in God's hands. I knew that there was absolutely nothing that I could do, but I knew that he would forever be in our Heavenly Father's care. I had known that ever since we received the diagnosis, but I believed it whole-heartedly on this night and every single day since. Nathan was in God's care. I surrendered what control I thought I had over this situation to God.

God gave us grace.

He gives us mercy.

Nathan woke up that next morning, and I thanked God for not taking him in the night. Two days later, he started pushing himself up on his arms again. His neck control improved dramatically. With the help of a new bottle, he started eating more. A little over a week later, he started rolling over again and his respiratory rate noticeably started dropping to more normal levels at times during the day. 2 weeks later, the muscle weakness that had labeled Nathan as "hypotonic" by three different doctors had strengthened dramatically. He was no longer lagging his head behind when you pulled him up by his arms, and he no longer "slipped" when you held your hands under his arms. And the last time I saw Nathan turn grey around his mouth and eyes (something that was happening several times a day) was while giving him a bath...5 days ago. He seems to be a different child now versus a month ago. He is just so strong.

The PA at our neurologist's office called at about 5:30 this evening. She said that they received the genetic tests back on Nathan...a good couple of weeks before we were expecting them. All of his tests came back normal. He does not have SMA. He does not have Myotonic Dystrophy. He does not have any progressive form of muscular dystrophy. All of the tests they had ordered came back normal.

Words simply can not describe our level of thankfulness and elation. Nathan does not have SMA. Those words will ring in my ears for a long time to come.

The Lord has heard our cries to him. He has answered our pleas. He has received our prayers.

We will continue to visit with the Neurologist, the Pulmonologist, and the Physical Therapists until they either find the reason for Nate's unusual breathing or until he starts breathing normally. While his breathing has gotten so much better over the past few days, we still know that it is not considered "normal".

But we don't care what is ailing Nathan. We have had the wonderful privilege to see God's handiwork in our son. We have seen God's hand on our son. We have seen Nathan develop dramatically over the past 3 weeks, and we know with everything in us that that could only come from God. He has been with us. He has been with Nathan. And we know that he will continue to be with our son. For great is his faithfulness.

He gives us peace.

We are on the mountaintop right now, and it is so good. We may be in the valley again someday soon, but we are rejoicing in the state we are in currently!

"O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever." I Chronicles 16:34

Monday, June 9, 2008

Questions Answered


I have had a few people ask questions either in the comments or through email about some aspects of the things I talk about on here, so I thought I might try to answer a few of them on here tonight...in other words, no one around here did anything interesting today (unless, of course, you count the girls having 2 baths today because they just smelled funky for some reason "interesting") and my brain is too mushy to think of anything better to write about.
Numeral Uno: "When do you expect the results of the genetic blood tests on Nathan?" If you remember correctly, the neurologist had him tested for SMA and Myotonic Dystrophy. A couple of weeks ago, we received results on his Creatine Kinase levels...they are normal. If I remember what the neurologist said correctly, those results being normal cancel the possibility of him having Myotonic Dystrophy. However, CK levels are usually normal in children with SMA.

According to our neurologist's nurse, they hope to receive the genetic results back before our next appt...July 3rd. She told me to call her at the end of this month if she doesn't call before then. Thankfully, our calendar for this month is full to the brim, so there isn't much waiting by the phone whilst twiddling our thumbs. My heart still skips a beat every time I think of that phone call coming though.
Numeral Dos: "When do you find the time to blog?" Well, it is currently 11:06pm up in this hood, and my pillow is calling my name. I will soon be finished here, give Nathan a twilight bottle to help tide him over a little longer until his next feeding, and then crawl under the covers and be asleep within 30 seconds. I try to get all of my computer work done in the evenings when the kiddos are all tucked away...editing pictures, blogging, trying my hardest to stay on top of emails. I do check certain things throughout the day for a few minutes at a time, but I try to stay off as much as possible when the kids are playing. On the rare treat of a day, all three kiddos will be resting at the same time for a little while in the middle of the day, and I jump on that time like a, like a, like a grasshopper who likes to jump on things. Yeah. Beast.
Numeral Tres: "What kind of camera do you have?" I have a Canon 40D SLR camera. For those who enjoy a little camera talk, my favorite lenses are the 50mm 1.8f, the 85mm 1.8f, and the 100mm 2.8f. I love fixed lenses because the glass is better in them, giving the picture a more crisp look to it. I shoot primarily in manual mode, and I use available natural light. I edit my pictures in Photoshop CS2, and I print them through a couple of online printers. If you have any specific questions, please email me.
And I have a question for you all: How do you get a sassy 2 year old to stay still for a second so you won't feel so bad putting so many pictures of her brother and sister online and so very few of her?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

What we've been up to the last few days...


Emma: Mama, I hunggy. I want some chips, a Yoo-Hoo, and a cookie.

This was what she requested to eat tonight...a normal snack for the girls over the past several days. For you see, when grandparents are in town, everything goes. And all of a sudden, Yoo-hoos replace milk and chips and cookies are the prime choice for energy and strength. Gotta love a semi-vacation.

My parents and youngest brother and sister came on down (said in my prime "Price is Right" voice) for a visit this past week. The rule of thumb is that when Nana and Pawpaw (and Grammie and Papa...Jay's familia) are here, bedtimes are post-poned, "brushing teeth" is optional, and eating junk food whenever you get the urge is considered a given...thus resulting in a few "beat the grandparents out of you" days when they leave. The next few days should be a blast (said in my prime "rolling of eyes" voice).
My youngest sister, Bethany, is Abby's "go-to girl" for anything technologically advanced. Bethany has taught my girls the socially acceptable things to do while listening to an ipod (ipod during breakfast starts the day off right, obviously), how to text an entire message on your "chocolate" phone in under 10 seconds, and what lingo is cool this day and age. I learned a lot too. Clearly, I am supposed to say "Beast" if I find something to be cool. And if something is "sick", it is really really cool. I think I am going to try these out on the other moms during the girls' next playgroup outing. You know, because I am cool and stuff. Beast.
We all mosied on over to the beach on Friday for the day. It was Nathan's very first time to dip his feet in the salty water of the Atlantic Ocean, and it was Emma's first time that she actually enjoyed being at a beach. The girls loved it! They ran and laughed and played...it was such a great day! We seem to always forget how intense the sun is reflecting off the water at the beach, so we all got a little toasty despite our best efforts at staying doused with sunscreen. I realized that my right arm was bright red at the end of our little beach adventure, and my pain sensors seemed to be working overtime. After a little investigation, I realized that while using the spray sunscreen, I had forgotten to spray my spraying arm. It didn't surprise me...that's just the moronic thing I would do. I will now sport a very lopsided tan for the rest of the summer. Beast. Jay and I were able to go out on a date last night, thanks to the babysitters at be. We treated ourselves to a night on the town, enjoying the delicacies of Maccaroni Grill and a shopping adventure at Toys-R-Us. It was a wonderful date. We held hands through the parking lots (until our hands got sweaty and we realized that they would stay cooler if we didn't hold hands) and he almost wrapped his arm around me once (but that would have totally hurt my sunburn). Our 8th wedding anniversary will be in a few weeks...it has been a wonderful 8 years together.
The girls don't quite know what to do now that the house is empty for kinda the first time in over a week. They miss Uncle Marty, the Chandlers from Georgia, and their grandparents and aunt and uncle. It's going to be a quiet few days around here...

Oh, who am I kidding? There's no way that's gonna happen with my girls and their run-away mouths.

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