Sunday, August 14, 2016

Doldrums

Another late night start to this post, followed by many revisits during times when I was struggling. Because of that, my words are less guarded or filtered than usual. These thoughts and emotions captivating my mind, my heart, more than I would like are very raw. Almost like a raw onion: so pungent that while on this train of thought my eyes are flooded and so bitter tasting that I recoil.
And before I get into it, I know... I really do. I know Ruby is awesome. And I know I am extremely (EXTREMELY) blessed. And I know there are worse things. Heck, we just finished beating cancer...I should know better than to feel anything other than grateful for each and every minutia of this life. But I'm human and often times that means I suck at letting my imago dei shine. There is nothing you can say to me about these skewed thoughts and feelings that I don't say to already myself: selfish, greedy, missing the point, whiner - I cover them all daily.

So even though I'm all kinds of stubborn and stuck in the bad mood I've created, I'm thankful that I have a patient God. I'm relieved that He is bigger than my tantrums, and I am grateful that he will love me even when I throw them. Which is good, because this one is a big ole tantrum and it's lasted a long time.

The truth is that I have been spending most of my days faking it as of late. And the problem with faking it is when you run out of fake, there's nothing left. And, if you're like me, that faking it makes you mad/sad that you feel you have to fake it. Doesn't matter that you're mad at yourself, anger is anger and it isn't very becoming.

Because I pick everything apart in my brain and over-analyze it to a fault, when I'm talking to myself about why I'm in such a state, I try to walk through a day and find emotions tied to events and interactions. My hope is that I can find correlations to help me root out the cause. What I find is that the times when I get to spend one-on-one (or even two-on-one sometimes) with Eli and Maddux are usually non-faking, good times, even when those times include correction or mundane tasks. The times when I'm at home working with Ruby and she is giving me her all are good times. Top of the world good times. The times when I leave our safe house and measuring sticks are all around Ruby and I, those are the bad times. The times when I'm working with Ruby and her focus is anywhere but on me, or when we are having a really bad day with integrating and inclusion, those are the dark times.

That over-analyzing takes you down a path regardless of which way it's pointing. The good path is paved with highlights of real connecting time with the kids or milestone-reaching by Ruby. And I know that the path is paved that way because I'm viewing things differently on those days; I'm seeing the good all around me and noticing all of the amazing ways God is loving me.

But the bad path...it's a dark one. A bad focus day for Ruby reminds me of the bad therapy session the day before which reminds me of the less-than-positive event recounting I read from a mom of an older child with T21 which reminds me of the last park day we had when I had to keep Ruby within reach at all times so she didn't push any kids. A day that finds me getting after the older kids points out that I have no patience left for their mis-steps or learning curves which points out that I'm not allowing them the space they need to make mistakes which points out that I'm mean and snappy with everyone in my family. A day where I spend all of my energy watching Ruby's every move to see if she may be trying to tell me she needs to use the bathroom reminds me that we are using our time, ALL of our time, for potty training and not speech or PT or OT or (gasp) something fun. And that stresses me out so that when she has an accident (or rather, multiple accidents), everything crumbles for me because so much is tied up in the daily effort.

Getting ugly here.

All of that weighs. It weighs a lot to have so much of my day consumed by research and speech drills and attempting new skills that kids younger than her have already mastered. It weighs a ton to have spent almost two months on potty training already but still be required to send her to preschool (and speech and gymnastics and anywhere I'm not within 10 feet of her and can deal with an accident) in a pull-up. (And when I say we've spent two months on it, I mean she's in underwear 24/7 when she's with me and our days are FULL of asking her countless times, taking her almost as many times as I ask, running to the bathroom or the back of my car where the portable potty is no matter what errand I'm in the middle of running and still having her have up to four accidents every day.)

And it's exhausting. It's exhausting to wake up and put on a positive face and tell myself, "Today, THIS will be the day she gets it." (Insert whatever 'it' that is heaviest on my heart.) It's exhausting to never stop looking at my phone when she's at school because I'm convinced they are going to call me about an issue. It's exhausting to watch her gymnastics class like a hawk because I'm not in there with her but do I need to go in and help Ruby follow directions better? It's exhausting to be reminded every time we are around any toddlers how little she is able to communicate compared to those younger than her. It's exhausting to hold my breath constantly waiting for something to happen that would exclude her from an activity (like not being potty trained, like biting or hitting, like not being able to keep up with her peers). Because, let's be honest, the magnifying glass of scrutiny is going to be on her more than other kids when she misses the mark. So I sit waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I've also come to realize with school starting that my sad/mad is coming from a different place too. I want more big kid time with my big kids. I need it and I pine for it. Not over-the-top fun time, just big kid time being 'big' together. Enjoying a big person movie with them. Hiking a long distance with them. Taking them to paint pottery. Running errands they'd like to run with them (and not a cart). Sitting on the back porch after school and having a leisurely snack and chat with them.

So that takes me back about four or five years....I was on a track with families around me. It was a track heading to a place with predictable milestones including sports and sleepovers and middle school. These families are still on that track, yet our track was interrupted. I see them sitting on the sidelines at a practice, chatting with their other kids, just enjoying hanging out, on that track that is moving forward. I see them volunteering in their kids' classrooms with the precious moments they have carved during the day, moving forward. And I see our track slowed to a crawl.

It hit me that this was consuming me from the inside when I heard a mom in Ruby's class as she looked at the birthday wall. She pointed to Ruby's name and said, "That can't be right...that would make her too old to be in this class...the cutoff is 34 months". And I hung my head and bit my lip to keep from tears, because that's how tightly wound I was. When a random innocent observation can hit me so hard, there's a problem.
The truth is, I am jealous. Jealous of her rule defaulting ignorance to a child that might warrant bending the standard rules. And I'm jealous of the mom who doesn't have to hold her 30lb toddler in one arm while she signs the credit card print out at the doctor's office because her 2-year old can stand next to her for one minute without running off or lying on the ground. And I'm jealous of the mom of a tween who leisurely walks around Publix, not having to push a cart and incessantly talk to their toddler about every color or item on the shelf to reinforce speech. I took Eli to buy a new pair of sneakers after dinner recently and it felt like the most relaxing, most rewarding 30 minutes of my day. We walked into the store, spoke to an employee, tried on and tested a few pair, and left. Selfish to not want to deal with 2-man coverage while in a store? Sure. But it was amazing to be able to enjoy my son's growing maturity, even in the small moments and that's what I'm missing right now.

Here we go...it's all 'woah is me' and 'my life is so hard'... I know what this sounds like. I chastise myself for it often. Especially because we chose this. We knew having another child would put us a little further back on the track for a few moments. We knew adding a baby to our growing-towards-Independence family would mean taking a step back. But I get stuck on the reality that those few moments are going to last longer, and that step back has not been followed by catching back up with the pack. We aren't just a little behind those we were on a path with, we are now on a totally different path altogether. And this hiccup in our planned path, MY planned path, is something I find myself getting frustrated with. The stationary movement that our house churns through daily causes me to feel beat down. Like I'm on a treadmill of therapies and exercises and repeated passes at skills.

So I get mad. And sad. And tired. And frustrated. And and and. And I KNOW it's my lack of faith that this is part of God's plan and He will see me through it. And I KNOW that I'm not choosing joy when I get this way. And I KNOW 'it's not about me'. And I KNOW great work is being done in the midst of what I often wish wasn't present. But knowing those things and accepting them, truly embracing them, are polar opposites for me these days.

And right now the potty training hits me the hardest. I might be doing fine with everything else, and then out of nowhere spiral downward because I discover, yet again, that Ruby has wet her pants with no indication to me at all that she had to go or did go. And with every accident throughout the day I feel another nail in this cement coffin of self-doubt and pity. Total ridiculousness and indulgence, I know. But even the truth about where those insecurities come from don't make the feelings any less real.

So I pray. And I question what He's doing and why He's choosing this path for me. And I have to remind myself that this, this reaction of mine, is part of my answer: because I struggle with it so much. But I still fight back and dig my heels in. And when I do this I realize that I'm not done grieving Down syndrome.

I feel like those of us living in the range of special needs are constantly having to readjust expectations. And that means a level of repeat grieving. Grieving not being able to tell ourselves with certainty: 'it's just a phase'. Grieving the comfort of falling back on the knowledge that s/he will get it, because certainly s/he won't wear diapers/not feed her/himself cleanly/still not be able to successfully state her/his name by the time s/he goes to kindergarten. Grieving the hope of a strategy working when the reality of support needed for her/him to succeed is unavoidably obvious.

I feel like I say it all of the time, but it bears repeating (if nothing else, to myself): Ruby has allowed us to be on an amazing journey that brings way more joy to my life than I could have ever imagined. But it's not what I'd expected or planned on, and there is grieving for that plan along the way. When I feel bogged down, I play the selfish and ridiculous game of 'what if' or 'what my life could look like'.

What I'm learning (SLOWLY) is that this struggle is revealing my entitlement. My feeling that I should be past these parts of my parenting life. I should have more 'big kid' time with the big kids. Ruby should be able to go to school/gymnastics/soccer/a playground without crazy preparation on our part. I should be able to teach/train her better than I am. I should be in a different stage of parenting.

 And when all verses I lean on are falling on my deaf ears, He leads me to this a few days ago:

James 1: 2-4   Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 

And duh. I know this, but this time, when I see this verse for the first time, I hear it a little clearer.

So I keep reading:

James 1:5-8  But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 

This is not a feel good post. I'm not tying it up with a pretty bow and saying "The End". These verses are amazing, but I'm still struggling with them. In the meantime I'm thankful that I have a patient God. I'm relieved that He can handle my tantrums, and I am grateful that he will let me throw them.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

In The Clear

Another monthly check-up for Ruby at the AFLAC Cancer Center, and another clean bill of health. This one was a milestone visit as it marks 6-months, and with it comes two great changes for Ruby. No more meds on the weekends! (She doesn't mind taking them anymore, but anything we can do to distance ourselves from cancer is welcomed!) Also, we no longer have to go in every month; now we are on an every other month cycle.
Hooray for continued health!

Monday, August 08, 2016

Middle School Start

How did we go from here
to here
in the blink of an eye?!?

Eli started Middle School today. As in laptop-carrying, locker-having, class-changing middle school. Last week he was sure to rub into Maddux and his younger friend, William, that he did NOT have to be at school yet even though they did. However, he had a full morning of technology training one day, a conference with his home room teacher one day, and cross country practice most mornings. This was all pretty cool to me because it allowed him to be very comfortable on the campus (and in the building) before day one.
Thankfully, Eli was assigned a lower locker; had he received a top one, there is no way he would have been able to reach to unlock it. His schedule will keep him quite mobile this first semester, as he has to travel from the 3rd floor to the 2nd floor to the gym (across the parking lot), back to the 3rd floor, then down to the basement. This afternoon he told me he likes Middle School better than Elementary School because of all of these transitions. I think it makes him feel independent and grown up.

Eli is taking band this year; instruments have not been assigned yet, but he's hoping for a brass horn of sorts. Eli is also taking Latin this semester. He has his first test next week, so I was using flashcards with him tonight to help him study. Before we started, he gave me a quick tutorial on how to use flashcards. Bless his heart.

Cross Country is something we discussed last year and I'm so glad he still wanted to join by the time school started. This was another 'before the first day' thing for him; they have had voluntary runs for the two weeks leading up to the first day. Eli has been logging about 8-10 miles a week.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Potty Training

This post has started and stopped, been written and deleted, forgotten and found again... Might as well post it now before any more time passes!

Just over a month ago we officially started on the business of potty training Ruby. We'd had the seat out for months, let her sit on it before baths and bed, talked it up, but hadn't really started anything official.

To be perfectly honest, I did not anticipate the drawn out ordeal this has become. I trained Eli in a few days with minimal accidents for a few weeks after. (Night training is another story, but that's not a concern of mine at all right now.) Maddux was trained in a day, I swear, with no more than two or three accidents ever, including nighttime. I thought this would be a no-brainer, especially because Ruby is such a modeler and picks up on routines and whatnot so quickly.
Well friends, it has not gone as planned and this mama is at a loss. We will have great days, days where she doesn't have any accidents and always goes when we take potty breaks. And then we will have days where she has two accidents before 10AM. And these days will polarize how I feel about it all so harshly: I will be so hopeful that this is the start of a new era when she has a good day, and then when she has a less than good one, I feel like she'll never get it.

In the beginning, she was a camel. Even though I was giving her water like crazy all morning, Ruby would hold her bladder from 8AM until 2PM...crazy! That lasted for a few weeks, which made creating successes difficult, but we focused on the staying dry part and talked it up a lot. That seems to be out the window now, so it's anyone's guess as to what her body can do at this point. The main hangup has been her telling us she has to go. At a friend's house the first week, she told me three times as she was running to the potty, and she actually went once. I was SOO excited. But since then, she's only told us and actually gone maybe twice. Most days she won't tell us at all. (Her successes come when she goes during our scheduled visits.)
So we are in underwear most of the time. The rare exception is gymnastics (I'm not in there with her and I can't put that on the instructor) and the occasional instance when a young sitter or friend who is doing me a huge favor is watching her. She WILL get it. But in the meantime, I just may lose my mind for spending so much time in the bathroom and so much energy on trying to predict when she needs to go.

Monday, August 01, 2016

First Day of Fourth Grade

It didn't hit me until later in the day that this was the first time Maddux has ever gone to school without Eli there too. Not that she ever needed it, but Eli always walked her to her class on the first day. It is so odd that she's there 'by herself' this year.
We started the morning with homemade egg mcmuffins (Maddux's choice). Eli woke up and went to the bus stop too (in his PJ's to rub it in that he did NOT have school today). The bus stop 'seniors' are now Maddux and William, which is just nutty...
Maddux's teacher seems to be a great fit. When we met her at Meet-N-Greet, she ended our brief chat by asking Maddux, "Do you want to hug?" She gets my girl :)

Maddux came home very excited about her day and her class. Her best friend is in her class and the girls chose to sit at the same table, across from each other. We cautioned Maddux to make good choices so she and her friend could enjoy their time together instead of being separated. Maddux assured me she had a great (not too much talking) day and they both made good choices.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Summer Swim

This year's swim season was a much different one than any we've had in the past. For starters, I only attended 5 or 6 practices total. That is a far cry from me being at the pool every weekday morning for about 90 minutes! This year found Ruby with doctor appointments and therapies many mornings. So many that 3 or 4 days each week Eli and Maddux would have to ride their bikes to the pool and meet me back at home when they were done. Crazy that they are old enough to do that!
The other way this season differed from years passed is the amount of meets we attended. We had our church camp interfere with one meet and an overnight camp interfere with one meet. Unfortunately that only left three meets for the kids to participate in. They loved those meets, but it felt like only half of the season.
Both kids swam very well this year. Maddux swam 'up' for practice, working with 9-12 year olds each morning. (Eli swam up too, but the 11-12 group practices at the same time as 9-10, so no one noticed :) I felt like that helped push Maddux a bit; her efforts were rewarded at the end of the season when she received 'Most Dedicated Swimmer' for her age group.
Finally, we did not plan to attend the county swim meet this year (timing was off), but there were three other 7-8 year old girls from our team competing, and they needed one more swimmer to participate in the relays. She helped them out and they placed second for their freestyle relay! Maddux did a great job in the anchor spot, coming back from being behind when she jumped into the water. Such an exciting event!
Maddux has talked about doing year-round swimming, but we are waiting until the school year starts to sign up. She is an excellent swimmer and enjoys the meets, but she is known for momentary interests, so we are trying our best to make sure before we commit. I hope she does; she would do so well in this sport!

Radio Head(s)

We were contacted several months back about speaking on the radio during a fundraiser for the Aflac Cancer Center (where Ruby stayed during her chemotherapy and where we visit monthly for appointments now). As scary as that sounded, I passed up an opportunity to do that during one of our longer stays at the hospital, and I regretted it, so I told the Care-A-Thon team "yes".

I put the date on the calendar, but didn't give it much thought because it was so far away. Then the team contacted us a few times in the last week to firm up details and verify our attendance. Last night I thought through some of the potential things that would come up in our conversation (we did not have a list of questions or topics to be prepared for), and I tried to prepare for how I would respond.
Before we even walked into the building we ran into a friend. Her son and Ruby play at Gigi's and we have been so blessed to get to know them in the last three years. That helped calm me a little, but then when we checked in, we found out that we would be slightly delayed from our original time. Enter nerves again!  So Ruby kept herself busy in the infusion clinic...a place that I honestly loathed visiting during our treatment. A much easier/more pleasant visit today!
After about 30 minutes of play, they came and got us. As you might imagine, I didn't say half of what I prepared. The 'interview' went so fast and I wasn't able to process when he ('he' being Herman Cain) would ask something else or break in, so what ended up on-air was not any of the planned stuff. Such is life!

Here is the interview.

And here's what I planned to say:
When asked about the moment of Ruby's diagnosis, I planned to say that it wasn't hard. Ruby's diagnosis at birth was hard, because of our ignorance to T21. God used that initial diagnosis to make everything else that we've faced since then 'no big deal'. We had some tears, but God used Ruby's cancer to show us just how strong and capable this girl is, because her first diagnosis found us fearing she would not be either strong or capable. Cancer is shocking, but it's all relative, and we were blessed to not be blindsided by it because we already knew that kids with Down syndrome are more likely to get leukemia than other kids. That being said, we are so blessed that our pediatrician insisted on routine blood tests because even after Ruby was diagnosed, she wasn't symptomatic, so without that test, she could have gotten much sicker before we started treating her.
When asked about how our time at Aflac was, I planned to say that it was surprisingly ok. When you think about living in a hospital, it can be scary, but the reality was pretty 'normal'. You get into a routine and start thinking about your room as your living quarters and you just make the best of it. Ruby and I would have several things we'd do each day to keep us busy. After we had breakfast and did speech exercises, we'd walk the floor (or if we weren't hooked up, the hospital). We'd visit the garden or the playground and then come back for rounds. Then we'd repeat that cycle a few times during the day. The lunches delivered by Cure for the families on the AFLAC unit each week were a welcomed change from whatever combination of hospital food and snack bars I had. And the several times a week opportunities to dance and sing with the guys at Songs For Kids were therapy for me as much as for Ruby. Atlanta Clown Care made Ruby smile every time she saw them. And that's not even mentioning the volunteer readers and therapy dogs and the countless nurses and other CHOA and AFLAC staff that we encountered each day that helped us keep a smile on our faces.
When asked about how our family dealt with Ruby's cancer, I planned to say that it was hard. It was hard living in the hospital for most of 7 months. It was hard to miss Eli's last year in elementary school. It was hard to miss soccer games and field trips and other 'big kid' things that Maddux and Eli were involved in. And it was hard to live apart for our family. Ruby's first month included several visits at the hospital, but after that, we were in flu season, so the kids couldn't come to the hospital.

But we were so fortunate that this happened in the age of technology where the kids could see Ruby on Facetime each night, and Lehr and I could see each other over breakfast each morning. And we were incredibly grateful for the friends that took care of our older kids while I was living at AFLAC with Ruby. So many people stepped up in so many amazing ways...we couldn't have done it without them. And the big kids got to attend Camp Sunshine for a sibling camp, and they got to spend more one-on-one time with each Lehr and I as we traded off, so there were silver linings everywhere for them too.

When asked how Ruby is now, I planned to say that she is stronger than ever. God used Ruby's cancer and our time at the hospital to pull us closer to Him and remind us that He has us. Ruby has completed her treatment and is back to being a toddler who runs and yells and gets into everything.

So I didn't say half of that, but Ruby charmed the room, and she babbled on-air, and Lehr and I hopefully got to pass along a success story related to a place that doesn't always get to celebrate those.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Fleeting Moments

So here is a recap of a conversation that took place yesterday. Eli and I were running the race, and I was chatting along, trying to keep him from getting too distracted by the heat. Every few minutes I'd see something in the spectators or on the course and point it out to him. ('Check out that guy's shirt!' or 'That band reminds me of New Orleans.')
Then I saw something that made my throat tighten. Over a dozen men on the sidelines, wearing white shirts with the American flag, handing out water and high fives and shouting encouragement. And I was so touched to see the interactions between them and some runners.

Between these Muslim men and some white runners. Like a tiny glimmer of hope in a world that we have been painfully reminded is so broken so many times in just one summer month.
Me: Eli, I love their shirts...did you see what they said?
Eli: Muslims for something...maybe America? (There was an American flag on them)
Me: Muslims for loyalty. What do you think that means?
Eli: That they feel like America is their home.
Me: Me too. Why do you think it's so significant that they are over there, cheering us on, wearing those shirts? What do you think they are trying to tell us?
Eli: Maybe that they are not trying to hurt us.
Me: Why would they have to let us know that?
Eli: Because most Muslims have made bad choices...
(I cut him off after he said 'most')
Me: No, no, no, Eli. SOME Muslims have made choices that have hurt others. You've got to be very careful about listening to what others say in the news and even in your school...if you believed that one represented all then you get yourself down a bad road. Many people believe Christians are all judgmental and unloving because of the choices and public statements of some. Do you think that's true? Do you think that we are mean and judgemental?
Eli: No.
Me: Do you think Pastor Rob is unloving towards others?
Eli: No.

Me: Do you think Daddy is unloving?
Eli: No.
Me: That's the point: there will always be some in a group of...whatever making a bad name for that group. You know those who follow Christ are trying to love people as Jesus did, even though some who claim to be Christians judge and hate others 'in the name of God'. And that's not fair to anyone..it makes it really hard for those of us who want to love and leave the judgment to God to convince others of that. I imagine it is even harder for Muslims to convince most Americans that they want peace, or that they are loyal to the United States. (Yup...Mommy just kept rambling on and on, as I do.)
Eli: I guess so.
Me: I think they are crazy brave to be standing out here identifying as both Muslim and American...there are some people who would feel so angry about them doing that that they might try to hurt them. It's easy for you and I to wear our red, white and blue stuff today. It's a lot harder for them to wear that flag on their shirt...

At this point a woman who was running right along side of us (over 50,000 people, so it's pretty tight quarters) looked me in the eye and interrupted me, "Good Job, mama. You're saying all the right things. Please keep it up."

This is the point when it seems pretty braggadocios...like I'm just pumping up what a good mom I am. But actually, it is the exact opposite.

This woman's words brought me to tears as I let them sink in over the following 60 seconds or so. They were kind. They reminded me that people around me could hear me. But mostly they pointed out that what I say has an impact. And mostly they exposed the ugly truth that I do not allow for nearly enough of these moments in the lives of my kids. I let them pass by way more than often than not.

Mostly I don't say the right thing, or anything at all, when given the opportunity. This was a rare moment that Eli and I were together with nothing to do BUT talk. He basically had no choice but to listen to me because the alternative was to think about running. And I had no other kids or housework or photo edits or anything to distract me from seeing something in his world and engaging him in a conversation about it while focusing only on it.

These moments don't happen nearly enough and I know it's almost always my fault. Most of the time it is easier to allow distractions to keep me from seeing these moments. Most of the time it's less effort to glaze over the difficult topics. Most of the time there is no time. But that woman reminded me that I need to make time for these moments because what I say to Eli matters and has an impact. The biggest impact is that I'm saying something to him. Who knows if Eli will remember what I said. Who knows if what I said was anywhere close to the right thing. Regardless, my job is to be his champion, his support, his teacher...so I need to keep making those moments happen at all costs.

Eli's First Peachtree

The Peachtree Road Race is a July 10K held on Atlanta's most known street every July 4th. The only two years I've missed it are the year Maddux was born (the day before the race) and the year Ruby was born (estimated to be due the week before). And every year Lehr and the kids come down to watch the race. It's a tradition for us that we all enjoy.

Ever since the kids were little I've been dreaming of the day they would join me...a few years ago I passed a boy and his dad running and asked the boy's age, to see how much longer I'd have to wait. Two years ago, Eli asked to run the following year as we were leaving the race, but never wanted to train, so we opted not to have him run last year. Then, as we were leaving last year, he asked again. I reminded him that he would have to train some, so that it would be an enjoyable experience. He said he was in.

Fast forward to this spring when I had to apply for numbers. Eli assured me he was in (and he ran two 5K races this year, so he had some idea of what it would take). We planned a whole training regimen for the month-ish leading up to it, but that didn't really happen. The week of I decided to just 'let it go' and deal with his misery on the course (even though that was what I was trying to avoid). And then two days before the race, Eli asked to go for a training run with me. We covered four miles and he maintained a pace allowing him to run the entire time. I was so impressed, and I realized that this just might be a good race after all.
The day of the race we all got up early and drove down to Lehr's office together. The girls and Lehr walked to the place they were to watch the race and Eli and I took the train to the start line. We didn't have to wait long before the race started: couldn't have timed it better if I'd tried! The morning's weather was perfect (albeit hot, cuz it's Atlanta in July); while it was hot and humid, I felt like every time I started to notice the heat, we would hit some shade.

Eli ran the race, only stopping to walk two time (both on long hills after the 4mile mark). He kept a great pace that allowed him to sustain his run, and we finished in 67 minutes. Not bad for his first 10k!!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Nine Lives

Maddux is nine! Where that time went, I'll never know. She's gone from a tiny infant who required extra weight checks in her first few weeks to a thriving toddler with more words than imaginable who would make up songs and fill every waking second with her sounds to a beautiful pierced ears gorgeous eyes and freckled face free spirit that both challenges me and fills my heart daily. I can't wait to see what her tenth year brings!

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Cat Burgler

Seriously.

I remember Maddux climbing out once or twice (same crib), but it was because we had her trampoline next to her crib, so there was a soft landing. This girl...she doesn't need a soft landing. Her skills are finely tuned.

Friday, July 01, 2016

A New PT

Ruby officially graduated from Babies Can't Wait on her third birthday. This means that we no longer receive the speech and physical therapy services she received through those therapists. We have two other speech therapists (one speech and language and one myofunctional), but we opted not to seek out private PT. While Ruby's visits were once/week for the first two years, once she learned to walk, we were really in a good place, and only saw the therapist about once/month. Then once Ruby went into the hospital, it was once every few months, at best. Both her therapist and I were in agreement that the work Ruby and I did was moving her forward in her progress (climbing, running, etc.). When we saw her the last time before Ruby's birthday, we reviewed strategies for moving forward, and Ruby was praised for how well she is doing.
About a month before that, I signed Ruby up for a 'Buddy & Me' gymnastics class. Once a week she and I go to a local gym where a teacher sets up a few little courses and instructs our flow while we walk our kids through it. Ruby LOVES it. She listens very well in the class and follows directions at least as well as the other (typical) kids, if not better. She climbs and balances and maneuvers through the 45 minute class with a huge smile on her face. I've noticed her gait is stronger; she almost has a full run now. She climbs anything and everything (even out of her crib!), and does most stairs with the help of a railing. She loses her balance and catches herself often. And she can walk through transitions (door ways with different levels on either side, short curbs, etc.) without support.
To say this girl is thriving in her new physical therapy routine would be correct.