Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Update Tuesday morning 6/26

Praise the Lord!  Emily's ear-piercing experience went great yesterday.  I had prepared her ahead of time, telling her step-by-step exactly what would occur so that there would be no surprises when the moment came.  We arrived at Claire's about 1:45 p.m.  Emily was so pumped!  Upon arriving, we found that we would need to wait another twenty minutes before the second worker got back from her lunch and could assist in the procedure.  A tip for those of you who have yet to go through this particular process with your daughter:  It's best to have them pierce both ears at the same time---that way, your sweet little one won't be screaming her head off and twisting to get away from the second piercing!  Claire's has learned this over the years, and their workers have always been superb at making the event exciting but not drawn out.

In our case yesterday, the extra twenty minutes gave Ashley some time to shop before manning my cell phone camera to take some memory photos.  Dale spent most of his time sitting on a comfortable chair outside the store, but he did ask to come in with me for a few minutes to look around.  Claire's is generally a girlie store, but they carry a few things to appeal to guys.........like strawberry-flavored gummy bacon.  No kidding.  And bandaids that look like strips of bacon.  I know bacon's the new thing, but this is ridiculous.  Even Burger King has begun carrying bacon sundaes.  Yuck!

When it was time, Emily jumped happily into the tall chair for the piercing.  The lady in charge was so kind and helpful; she made the experience even more pleasant for my youngest.  First, she cleaned her ears; then she marked a dot on each ear where the earring should go; she even let Emily see the dot before calling her helper over to pierce both ears at the same time.  Emily had chosen (under parental guidance!) a pair of 3mm pinkish-purple round earrings for her "starter set."  She didn't really even cry (SURPRISE!); only, when they stepped back after piercing her ears, she said, in a somewhat strangled voice, "Oh, that really hurt!"  But she continued to sit still for the application of the soothing ear solution and agreed that it did, indeed, help her ears feel better.  Over the next hour, Emily kept saying, "Oh, my ears hurt," but with a huge smile because she is THRILLED to have her ears pierced finally.  Eventually the redness faded around each earring and she stopped mentioning any discomfort.  I didn't even have to give her any pain meds, although I did offer.  We use the solution three times a day (more if necessary) and twist each earring after applying the solution to keep the earrings moving freely in the new holes.  All in all, Emily is glad to be grown up now, and I'm glad the piercing went so well.

After we got Emily's ears pierced, we drove around the mall to the SP building in the same parking lot.  We were early, but, other than causing the receptionist a shock---we usually arrive right on time or a few minutes late---that wasn't a problem.  When it came time for Dale's session, Ashley and Emily came in with us and sat at a small table in the corner of Lisa's office.  Lisa is so kind and caring about each member of the family; she admired Emily's new earrings and wished her a happy birthday.  She also told the girls that they could read any of her children's books on the lower shelf and even play with her Memory game.  I was so very proud of my girls yesterday.  They read books quietly and played the game with just whispers, not distracting Dale one bit but allowing him to work just as he would if they were not there.  I wanted to reward them in some way for their outstanding behavior........but I had spent my allotted money on Emily's earrings!  So I just hugged them and praised them for their excellent manners.

Dale was having a time yesterday (and the day before) just trying to keep his feet under him!  I told him several times, "It seems like your feet are on backwards."  I mean, watching him walk was almost painful but funny.  He would take a step with his right foot, but his left wouldn't follow.  This would cause momentary panic before he realized I wasn't going to let him plummet headfirst to the floor---not this time, anyway.  We would get to walking pretty well and then one leg, for no reason, would jerk out to the side.  This would throw anyone off balance, and, even though Dale has learned to expect this, he still struggles with steadiness because of this.  Alison had to cancel PT yesterday because of illness, so Dale did not have a chance to really work the bugs out of his system.  We tried walking around the mall a bit, but Dale's legs wouldn't let us get very far.  Finally, when we got out of the van in the SP parking lot, I told Dale, "Okay, try again."  He did much better this time, still taking frequent pauses but not needing to hold my hand.  He was able to walk into the building, down each hallway, into her office, and back again without much trouble.

In SP, however, it seemed like his brain was disconnected at first.  Lisa had him listening to a recorded message and clicking a button whenever he heard two days of the week in succession.  He's done this before and done well; yesterday, he kept missing consecutive days over and over.  Finally, after fifteen minutes or so, Lisa took pity on him and let him be done with that activity.  She then told him, "This is our goal for today.  I'll read you four stories (paragraphs).  You will need to retell those stories, achieving a 75% rate of accuracy of detail."  This is also something they have been working on together for some time; Dale has good days and bad days.  He surprised both of us by doing very well with this!  She gave him quick breaks in between stories, using this time to play a quick memory game with him and asking him each break to recall the images on the separate tiles.  By the end of the session, Dale could recall each image (eleven total) and had reached, I believe, a 79% accuracy rate when detailing each story.  Considering his struggle at the first, I was very pleased with his performance.

I got to speak with both Amanda and Katie last night---very late!  They had just gotten back to their hotel after the first Youth Conference meeting and were soooooo excited.  They talked about the preacher and which teens from our group have already made important decisions for the Lord and all the exciting activities that are planned for this week.  Today they are going to Great America before attending the evening service.  There is also a water park activity (boys separate from girls, of course!) and other fun things before the conference is over.  This is Amanda's third trip and Katie's second.  I'm glad they got to go this year; each time they attend, they come back on fire for God and "raring" to go!  It seems like many of our teens feel that way, too.  This only serves to prepare them further for a life of willing, joyful service to our Creator.

I'm going to close.  Thank you for all the jokes you post here---we enjoy each and every one of them.  Have a blessed day!

Revelation 3: 20  "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:  if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me."   

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Update Saturday morning 6/23

As my college president used to say, "Into every life some rain must fall."  I just wish it had not chosen the weekend of our community yard sale to do it!  We as a family look forward to this giant yard sale every year as a fun activity where we may (or may not) find some special treasure.  My husband and I love to go yard-saling---is that a word?---but find that there are other more pressing matters that require our money, time, and attention.  As a result, our kids don't get to go to yard sales very often.  So, having our community put on a giant yard sale each year is one of the highlights of our summer.  And then, yesterday, we woke up to rain.  This isn't unusual for us in Washington, except for the fact that it has been absolutely beautiful and sunny all week........until yesterday.  Today, there is still a steady rain with no signs of a break.  Soooooo, we may still walk around the neighborhood if things let up this afternoon, but we may have to shelve the idea of this family outing---at least until August when, I think, there is a second community yard sale planned.  For some reason, there were two on the calendar this summer.  Surely it won't be still raining in August!

Do you remember that quote from the Spiderman movie:  "With great power comes great responsibility"?  We have slightly adjusted it to suit Dale:  "With greater mobility comes more opportunities for disaster."  Thursday night, Chad and I went grocery shopping for the week (actually, for a few days........well, I had to run to the store the next day for some things I forgot to put on the list!).  Anyway, this is our regular shopping trip, and the kids are used to being home by themselves with Mandie or Katie in charge.  We called about an hour or so later to tell them we were on our way home, and Katie felt it necessary to warn us of an "incident" that had occurred.  (Why we were not called immediately, I don't know.  I guess they thought that, the later we find out, the lesser the parental impact on their young lives.  They soon discovered differently.)  I knew, of course, that it had involved Dale---refer to quote above---but I didn't have all the details yet.

Are you one of those people who drag out a confession, hoping to soften the blow somehow?  I'm not; I want to be told what happened, NOW, before my imagination fills in too many blanks.  Katie said that Dale was walking down the hall to the bathroom when he fell.  I asked if he was all right, and she said he was.  I asked if he hit his head (I'm thinking, "This poor guy really needs to stop hitting his head!"); she said he had not.  But, apparently, upon impact, the wall lost.  There is now a nice-sized hole in the lower section of the wall next to the bathroom.  Chad wanted to strangle somebody when he saw it, but he knows it really wasn't anybody's "fault"; he just doesn't want to have one more thing to repair.  I had to ask to be sure that it was Dale's bottom, not his head, that caused the hole; to be grossly descriptive, the contour of the hole does fit Dale's rear end rather than his elbow, head, etc.  Ashley and Emily are worried that mice or something may come in through the hole before Dad gets it fixed, but I assured them (hopefully not falsely) that I doubted that would happen.  We simply now have a very visible reminder of Dale's newly-felt freedom of walking!

Unfortunately, Dale seems to place more value on the wall than on his own person.  This morning, he was again walking down the hall, this time away from the bathroom, when he lost his balance.  Instead of putting his arms out to brace himself---he never remembers to do this---Dale tried to brace his hands against the wall as he fell.  He told us afterwards that he didn't want to put another hole in the wall.  :-{  What he wound up doing was falling straight down and only catching himself with his face!  This resulted in a dark and painful bruise on his right cheekbone that hurts when he talks or smiles.  Oh, the bumps and bruises of youth!  He will heal from this, and, hopefully, not let it keep him from keeping on.

The older girls leave Sunday night after church for the big Youth Conference hosted by North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, CA.  They have been packing and repacking for a week now and are very excited to go.  With Emily's birthday being Monday---and they will be gone---we decided to have her cake and ice cream on Sunday afternoon while the girls are still here; then, on Monday, we'll go get Emily's ears pierced!  It's kind of a tradition in our household to get the girls' ears pierced for their sixth birthday.  Why six, I don't know; it just worked out that way for Amanda, and we've held to it ever since.  Anyway, at six, they're old enough to know what is going on---and to hold still for it---but still young enough to allow their ears to heal quickly.  (Put that way, it sounds awful, doesn't it?  What kind of barbarians are we?!)  Since Dale has both PT and SP Monday afternoon, I'll take the younger girls with me and Dale to these appointments, and from there we'll head to the mall and Claire's.  I think, for the first time ever, I'll make sure I have children's pain medication with me to give Emily afterwards; she tends to be super-sensitive to pain, although she's getting better about it as she gets older, so the medicine will help her "feel" better after getting her ears pierced........mentally, if not physically.

Well, it's raining harder now.  This doesn't bode well for afternoon yard sale plans.  Maybe we'll have to take a rain check!  (You know that one was irresistible.)  May God bless each of you every day and hold you close to His heart.

Isaiah 1: 18  "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:  though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Update Tuesday afternoon 6/19

Isn't it amazing how, just when we have God all figured out and put in a box and labeled, He opens our eyes to some new awesome aspect of Himself?  And, just when we have settled down to "life after God's miracle," He allows Dale even more progress in certain areas?  Here's what I mean:

We have pretty much gotten used to Dale not having seizures now.  When presented with a situation which would have formerly resulted in a seizure, Dale now handles it just fine.  His limbs still jerk; he will still fall over; he still gets scared; but he maintains control over his brain and doesn't black out or anything.  We have also gotten used to Dale taking only a few steps before pausing when walking.  Even when holding someone's hand, he will pause frequently while walking.  Lately, we have been purposely making Dale walk on his own, without any hand support, in order to help him become more independent.  Although he is doing great, he will only take perhaps three or four steps before pausing and readjusting his balance in order to keep walking.

Sunday night, while walking out of church, I remembered something that we had been working on with Dale some months ago---swinging his arms gently as he walked.  I told Dale to try this.........and you wouldn't believe the difference!!!  He straightened up, began swinging his arms, and walked some eight steps before pausing!  Wow, what a sight!  Katie and I were both excited and urged him to try again.  Dale again began swinging his arms and walking; he must have taken another eight steps before he felt the need to pause for a moment.  He kept this up all the way to the car.  It was amazing!  Just when I was despairing, thinking that three-steps-pause was going to be Dale's method of walking for the rest of his life, God opened up another pathway in his brain and allowed Dale to walk well-balanced and smoothly---normally!  I told Dale that Alison (PT) would be thrilled to see this, and he got to show her yesterday at our PT session.  His maximum there was eight steps at one time before pausing.  She told me, "I don't think I can keep up with him now!  He's basically walking on his own, unsupported."  And she's right; Dale takes such long strides that she and I have to scurry to keep pace with him.  He practiced walking up and down stairs, then went to the skybridge (usually a real chore for him) and walked up and down its length with ease.  Alison challenged him once back inside the PT gym by laying out two rubber balance beams end to end, having Dale hold a hula hoop around his waist, and walk heel-to-toe down the length of the beams and back again.  She did have to support him on the beams, but he did really great handling all the distractions while balancing (placing one foot in front of the other, positioning or repositioning his foot to maintain his balance, ignoring the sound of the balls inside the hula hoop going round and round, plus other noises of therapists with their patients, etc.).  She also had Dale practice pulling the hoop over his head (not on the balance beam!), dropping it to the floor, stepping forward out of the hoop, twisting slightly while reaching back to pick up the hoop, and repeating the process.  He had an absolutely stellar day!

But, even better, when we left the PT clinic, Dale began walking longer and longer between pauses.  He would take ten, fifteen, twenty strides before pausing!  He looked so natural and comfortable that I wanted to cry---but I couldn't take the time to stop and dry my eyes, so I held back the tears.  We went from PT to SP yesterday, and even at SP, Dale walked to and from the building with ease, walked down the hallways and into her office without trouble.  I'm telling you---it was a beautiful sight!  He maintained this ease of walking throughout the day and---I'm hoping and praying---for the rest of his life.

I told the Lord this morning that, if He chose to make yesterday's walking unique to that day, we would thank Him for it and continue to praise Him each day.  If, however, this is the "new normal" for Dale through God's grace, we would thank Him and praise Him just the same........although perhaps with greater enthusiasm!  It's easy to maintain our joy in the Lord when life is easy, isn't it?  And, sometimes, we remain joyful through difficulties, believing in His plan and trusting our Father.  But when life is hard and that seems to be the way things will always be, it is more strenuous to continually thank Him and praise Him for what He has given us.  I have had to deliberately tell God thank you for my son and his condition numerous times over these months, knowing it pleases my God when I choose to trust.  His is not a vindictive nature, allowing trials and hardships just because He can; His is a loving and gracious nature, desiring His children to grow through struggles and being well-pleased when we demonstrate our love in return---whether in thought or deed or spoken word, whether in comfortable circumstances or in need.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my God loves me and knows what is best for me and mine.  I can trust His ways, though I may not see them clearly or understand them.  I can trust Him.

Have I mentioned I can be a bit smothering in my attention to my children, especially Dale since his accident?  Yesterday, in the car, Dale and I were eating lunch on the way to therapy.  I handed Dale his plastic baggie containing his sandwich, only half-thinking about what I was doing.  Dale looked over at me and said, "Good job, Mom.  You usually open the bag for me, but this time you let me open the bag myself."  I looked at him and grinned somewhat shamefacedly.  He's right---I do tend to do things for him that he can probably do himself.  And the more I do for him, the less he feels he can do.  So I need to watch myself more closely to see if there are any other things I do for him that he really should be doing himself.

At SP, Dale surprised Lisa and me by being very alert and attentive despite it being 3:00 in the afternoon and having just finished PT half an hour before.  She has been reading him simple stories (only a paragraph long) and asking him to retell her the story, remembering all the details.  Usually she helps him by drawing or letting him draw simple pictures to assist his brain in remembering the story.  But yesterday Dale listened to two stories in a row and retold them almost perfectly.  For the first story, Dale remembered 9 out of 10 details; for the second, he got 8 out of 8!  By then, about twenty minutes had passed, and Dale's brain was getting tired, so he needed help on the next two stories.  Lisa then switched activities, turning on a tape player and having Dale click a button whenever he heard two days of the week that were consecutive.  This is a good thinking activity but sometimes rather boring, so Lisa soon turned off the tape player and had Dale call the week days himself.  This caused him to have to think of the days of the week, deliberately name some consecutively while naming others randomly, and click the button only when naming consecutive days.  Wow!  Again, Dale did really well on this tough activity.  Lisa ended the session by asking Dale to retell two of the stories from the first part of the hour, and Dale did pretty well recalling most of the main points or details.

It may seem repetitive, but we are so thankful to so many people for all you have done for us throughout this time of testing.  From those who first prayed on the beach that day, to those who assisted in Dale's rescue, to those who began praying when they heard the news, to those who graciously gave support in those early days and even now are continuing to do so.......thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  You have been a huge part of this miracle that God is working so visibly in our son. We owe so much to so many; there are not funds enough to repay you nor words enough to express how deeply we are indebted to each of you for never giving up, for continuing to pray, for praising God with us, for crying over each setback and rejoicing over each milestone.  We have a great God, and He has a great people.

I Chronicles 4: 10  "And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that Thine hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!  And God granted him that which he requested."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Update Friday afternoon 6/15

I thought I'd give you a rundown on each member of our family.  You have gotten to know Dale quite a bit since August and maybe some of myself and Chad, but the rest of the family may still be a mystery.  Here's a bit about each of us.

Chad was born here in western Washington and did most of his growing up here.  His family was Lutheran, so he was exposed to church from an early age although never heard a clear presentation of the gospel until he was nearly twenty years old.  His parents divorced when he was young, leaving him with the agonizing decision of which parent to live with.  Chad's grandparents really took an interest in him, helping him out with needed funds, clothes, or activities to fill his younger years.  However, when Chad was in his mid-teens, he began to rebel and dabble in drugs and alcohol.  He was told by a counselor that he would never be anything but an alcoholic.  Praise God for His redeeming grace!  Chad moved to Florida after high school to live with his mom and met a young lady there who led him to the Lord.  He began attending a solid Baptist church where he learned to go soul winning, tithe, read his Bible, and grow as a Christian.  And grow he did!  Chad is one of the godliest men I know; He loves God and directs our family to follow his example.  When he felt God telling him to go to Bible college, he answered that call in the spring of 1988.  He chose Hyles-Anderson College in Crown Point, IN, as the place where he wished to train for the ministry.  It's a good thing he did because.......

I was born in Oklahoma but grew up in Fayetteville, NC, where my family attended Berean Baptist Church.  The day I got saved was the day my family was all sitting around our table, ready to eat.  For some reason I was asking each person at the table, "How do you know you're going to Heaven?"  They each answered, "I've asked Jesus to be my Saviour."  When my dad asked me in turn how I knew I would go to Heaven, I stopped short.  I realized that my answer was going to be different from theirs; I was going to say, "My parents go to church."  I began to cry and admitted I didn't know.  My dad took me back to my parents' bedroom and lovingly showed me from God' Word how I could know for sure I would go to Heaven some day.  I was very blessed to be in a family that loved God, served Him, and attended church every time the doors were open.  In our church, we had a featured "Deacon of the Week."  In addition to getting recognition from everyone that week, one of the jobs of this special deacon was to lock up the building after that week's services.  We used to joke that my dad was "Deacon of the Week" every week because we were always the last ones out of the building!  During the summer before my senior year of high school, we moved from North Carolina to Indiana so my folks could attend Hyles-Anderson College.  Two weeks after we got there, my older brother, who had just completed his freshman year at Hyles-Anderson, was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver.  We met the entire First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN, in one day, it seemed!  We were lovingly and compassionately swallowed up by this wonderful church family and became a part of the church and college seemingly overnight.  I graduated from high school and enrolled at Hyles-Anderson with my parents.  Yes, it was kind of weird taking college classes with my own parents, but it's something I wouldn't ever change, either.  I met Chad my first week there; we were in the same bus division for three years before I finally accepted a date from him.  (Long story short:  My folks wanted me to get their permission each time a young man asked me for a date.  When Chad first asked me shortly after we met, my mom got him confused with some other guy whom she did not want me to date, so I had to say no.  Thankfully, after a while, she realized her mistake, Chad was willing to ask again, and the rest, as they say, is history!)  We moved out here to Chad's old stomping grounds in western Washington to start a church.  We served in that church for three years before closing its doors and joining Bethel Baptist Church in Spanaway, WA.  And we are so thankful God led us here to yet another godly, Bible-preaching church with a wonderful church family.

Amanda was born while we were still in Indiana.  She was a year and a half old when we moved here.  Her birth was something of a shock because.......her legs were on backwards.  Seriously, it looked like her legs were on the wrong way!  Her knees bent forward instead of backward and her toes touched her shoulders.  I had never seen a new newborn, but I could still tell something didn't look right.  Chad asked the doctor, "Is that all right?" and he replied, "Oh, that's fine, sure."  Yeah, right!  In those first hours of her tiny life, we were told all sorts of things:  Her legs were backward; her knees were backwards; she had no kneecaps; etc.  God had prepared a doctor who specialized in these kinds of things and put him right there in the hospital with us.  He took one look at her and said, "Oh, that's easily fixed."  First, he explained that her legs had apparently bent the wrong way while she was still in the womb, and then she grew too big to bend them back!  Then, he showed us how her knees just needed to be bent the correct way and kept there using casts until her knees got used to being the right way.  Thank God for this wise man.  We checked out of the hospital, were wheeled down to the next floor where this doctor's office was, and watched while he put the first in a series of casts on her little legs.  She screamed bloody murder, but the procedure worked.  We had to get the casts changed once a week for four to six weeks; then he put a kind of harness on her which spread her legs out to the sides (to make sure her hips were forming properly) and had special braces to keep her knees from bending backwards again.  She had to wear this brace for a couple of months, and then she was through!  We tried putting one of those braces on her feet at night to keep her feet from turning in, but it turned out to be unnecessary.  The doctor had warned us that she might have trouble walking and would probably never be able to run.  Try telling that to her!  She walked at ten months and runs just fine.  She loves to play volleyball (like her mom) and is very athletic.  Amanda is a senior this year with plans to attend Bible college next fall.  She loves the Lord and shows Him by working on a bus route, going out on teen soul winning, working in the 2 - 3 year old nursery every Wednesday night, and singing in teen choir.  She is absolutely beautiful........and that's not just my opinion!  She helps me quite a lot around the house and with her younger siblings, and I try not to think too much about next fall or my eyes will be swimming with tears!

Katie is our sweetheart, born about two and a half years after Amanda.  Her birth was a bit traumatic as well, at least for her.  When she was born, she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.  The doctors had me stop pushing while they loosened the cord and administered oxygen before allowing me to finish giving birth to her.  (Easier said than done!)  As a result of the wrapped cord, Katie was somewhat oxygen-deficient and rather blue.  They put her under a heat lamp to warm her; her father stayed by her side and held her little hand, giving them a chance to bond before I even got to hold her.  She grew up healthy, except for a lazy eye which we were able to pretty much correct.  She wears glasses now, which she despises, and longs for contact lenses.  We're looking into that now.  She is so pretty, but, of course, she doesn't think so since she has to wear glasses.  Katie plays volleyball very well also, sings in teen choir, works in the walkers nursery every Sunday morning, goes on teen soul winning, and has a great sense of humor.  She is quieter than Amanda but loves God just as much.  Her patience runs a bit thin with her younger sisters, but she does a good job with them regardless.  Katie will be a sophomore this year, and she is not looking forward to taking Algebra II!

Dale was born five days past his due date.  We joke that Katie is responsible for his eventual appearance, because she was tired and cross that day and wanted Mommy to pick her up.  When I did so, my water broke!  I was rather surprised to find that I had given birth to a boy since my first two were girls, but a man child he was.  I had wanted to name him after Chad who is Charles Dale Ostrander III; but Chad didn't want his son growing up having the same name as three other men in his family, so we had kind of decided on "Andrew."  The next morning, Chad showed up in the hospital, saying he wanted to name our son Charles Dale Ostrander IV and call him "Dale."  I had to quickly revise the name I had been calling him all night and adjust to this new one!  Dale is a typical boy, always curious about things and getting into trouble if not closely watched.  He is an absolute clown.  I used to say that I felt sorry for his teacher when he started school.  Wouldn't you know it---I was his first teacher!  We managed to survive that year in K-4 together, and Dale is now entering the eighth grade.  We're still playing catch up with his seventh grade work, but I think we'll get pretty close to the end before school starts again.  Dale has always done well in school, although he does not always apply himself the way he should.  He loves to run crazy, build "forts" in the tall grasses near our school playground, and read whatever he can get his hands on.  His sense of humor is rather zany, but he loves to laugh.  Dale attended Children's Challenge, a ministry where younger kids can pass out tracts and win souls under the watchful eye of the adults.  He began going out on teen soul winning last summer when he entered seventh grade, as well as attending teen choir, but his accident prevents him from joining those activities........for now!  :-)  He'll get back to them soon enough, I'm sure!  Dale was very thankful when we upgraded his bed clothing this past Christmas from Mickey Mouse sheets to a camouflage pattern.  After all, he's got to grow up sometime!  We have been told repeatedly by family members that Dale looks just like Chad did when he was young.......so Dale is obviously quite handsome!  He talks freely about his accident (just details told him; he doesn't remember anything), and people are often surprised when we joke about it.  For instance, we were talking about vacations, and Dale mentioned that he wanted to go swimming.  Mandie chimed in, "Dale, you don't go swimming; you go drowning!"  We all laughed; laughter is a good stress reliever.  Dale is really focusing on the next school year right now, but I'm sure as he gets older, he'll begin thinking more about a life beyond school!

Ashley is our darling sixth grader.  She is somewhat petite, though she has grown a few inches in the past couple of years.  (She hates to be called short and lived in fear that she would never grow, being the shortest one in her class.  Finally, we took pity on her and began measuring her on the back door so she could see for herself that she is actually growing!)  She is very pretty, and the boys love to tease her just to get attention.  I'm sure none of you men ever did that when you were young, right?  When Ashley was born, her skin was so suffused with blood that she looked black.  The doctor even joked, "You should call this one 'George Foreman'!"  Of course, within a few days, her skin turned pink.  Ashley loves to sing, goes out with Children's Challenge every Saturday, and is becoming more and more helpful around the house.  I am just now letting her help more in the kitchen; she was so short for the longest time, she couldn't reach even the lowest shelf of the upper cabinets!  Since Dale's accident, Ashley has been added to the nightly dishwashing rotation, as well as being given recycling can-emptying duty.  She has a fun sense of humor and a way with words, but she is still learning to bite her tongue whenever her older siblings get on her nerves.  She wants to answer them back as if she were their age, and they refuse to take that kind of response from a mere eleven year old.  These confrontations usually end with them lunging to their feet and Ashley taking off running!  Since she shares a room with Amanda, she generally doesn't get very far before she suffers the consequences of mouthing off.  Ashley has been a tremendous blessing with her younger sister, helping her with reading or playing hours on end with her.  When you realize that Ashley is entering sixth grade and Emily is going into first, the difference in their ages becomes starkly clear, huh?  Yet they play together quite well, and I'm glad for that for Emily's sake (to have a playmate) as well as Ashley's (since her other nearest sister is four years older and not interested in the same things).  Ashley was supposed to be our last until........

Emily was born five years later!  She was a surprise; we had thought we were through.  God knew what He was doing, though.  We cannot imagine life without our princess.  Emily's due date was September 15, 2006; she was born Sunday morning, June 25, 2006.  Twelve weeks premature.  A month and a half before, an ultrasound had shown a problem with my cervix, indicating that my body was trying to go into labor early.  I had not had any serious problems with the pregnancy, and there were no other indications that delivery was imminent.  I was hospitalized for about a month before she was born.  We didn't really know what to expect.  The doctors had warned that she would face all sorts of complications including problems with her heart, lungs, digestive tract, skin, eyes, hearing, and brain.  We were warned she might not survive, she might have brain damage, she might have difficulty breathing or have asthma, etc.  She did have some trouble but nothing more than any other preemie might face.  God healed her tiny body and helped her grow just fine.  They told us not to expect her to come home from the hospital before her due date; Emily came home at seven weeks of age, five weeks before she was due to enter the world.  We called her "God's little miracle" because of how healthy she was.  She never had to have a ventilator; she just used a cannula.  She had no lung problems, no heart problems, no digestive problems.  Her only lingering preemie condition is severely dry skin.  Her skin does not have the ability to retain moisture; as a result, her skin gets super dry and itchy.  Other than that, she's fine!  She has an adorable little face, a sweet smile, and a goofy sense of humor.  She loves to go to Sunday school but does not like the evening services because "they take too long."  She is a good bit spoiled, but we are working to correct that; and simply maturing is helping with that a great deal.  We call her "princess," and she doesn't let us forget that!  One day, Chad was lying on the bed and talking to me while I was on the computer.  Emily marches in, climbs on the bed, looks her father in the eye, and says, "I command you to get me a sandwich!"  We all just laughed, Emily included, because in no way do our children get what they want by demanding it.  However, she does sometimes get a high-handed, "you have to do what I want because I'm the princess" attitude that requires she be taken down a peg.  She is sweet and loving and can't wait until she turns six so she can go out on Children's Challenge with Ashley.

God has blessed us with five wonderful children and each other.  We strive to rear our kids for Him and urge them to think like Jesus, act like Jesus, talk like Jesus, and live like Jesus.  If they grow up to serve God full-time, glory be!  If they grow up to become godly Christian laypeople, glory be!  We want God to be pleased with our family and work each day towards that goal.  When we reach Heaven, we want to hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servants.  Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

Proverbs 9: 10 - 11  "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom:  and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.  For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased."    

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Update Tuesday afternoon 6/12

It's just one good thing after another lately!  I don't know why we continue to be amazed by God's healing of our boy, as if His hand is limited like ours is, but, then again, I don't ever want to lose the wonder and joy at experiencing the touch of God in our lives.  God is simply.......good!

First of all, did I mention that the photographer, Damian Mulinix, who took those incredible photos of that day at the beach, entered a contest using the shot of Dale being carried out of the water?  (I feel like I did, but I'm unwilling to page back through months of blog entries to be certain; so---if you already knew this, pretend like you didn't!)  When I spoke with him some time back, he asked permission to use Dale's picture in this contest, and I said, "Yes!"  I happened to find the website (Pictures of the Year International) recently and discovered that Mr. Mulinix won SECOND PLACE with his entry of Doug Knutsen cradling Dale in his arms while yelling for paramedics on the beach to get ready.  I read further on this website that these photos will enlarged and displayed for six months on the sidewalks outside the POYI building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.  So now, even more people will read about and remember God's miracle and saving power!!!

Next, I related to Alison, Dale's PT therapist, how well he has been walking by himself.  He is not balking at the idea of walking without assistance, even on unfamiliar ground (anything outside the house).  Dale will walk on his own out of church, through the maze of hallways, and across the parking lot to the van; he will walk out of PT, down the hall to the elevators, into the parking garage, and down the ramp to our van; he even walked from the van, across the parking lot, into the SP building, rode the elevator to the second floor, and walked all the way into Lisa's office without assistance---and back again when SP was done!  Dale has been getting into the van almost completely on his own as well.  He is realizing more and more that he can do this, that he doesn't necessarily need to hold someone's hand constantly in order to feel safe.  Now, if we're in a crowded place like the mall or if we're in a hurry, I'll still take his hand; but, for the most part, Dale is walking on his own!  Alison heard my proud report and then saw for herself all during PT that Dale worked and walked without her assistance, she got this big smile on her face and began humming "Pomp and Circumstance."  I gave Dale a hint:  "You're ready to graduate to the next level!"  Alison said she thinks he is ready to drop one PT session each week and continue therapy just once a week!!!  Oh, praise the Lord!  :-D  After we talked about it, we decided to keep going twice a week, at least for the summer or until Medicaid runs out, whichever comes first.  What a wonderful blessing to know that Dale's therapist believes he is progressed enough to decrease the number of sessions he needs.  I remember when Lisa decided to decrease Dale's SP to just once a week and how afraid I was that he would regress because of it.  Of course, he was just fine and still is, and I'm looking forward to only scheduling one PT session each week for Dale.

Third, as far as we can tell, there should be no problem with Medicaid not paying extra costs after July 1st.  I've been talking with our case manager---who is absolutely wonderful!---and she has done some checking around, and it appears that Dale has an "open card" with Medicaid so that the new restrictions don't apply to him.  We may find out differently come the first of July, but if so, we'll deal with it.  Also, we are reapplying for Medicaid for Dale for another year, but they may not renew his card.  When we applied last year, we were accepted because Dale had spent thirty days in the hospital after his accident.  Obviously, things are much changed now, so Medicaid will have to look over our circumstances and decide on Dale's case.  If his card is renewed, that will be great; if not, we will definitely have to limit the number of therapies he will be able to attend.  Medicaid right now covers all of our copays; if we have SP and PT even just once a week each and had to pay the copay out of pocket, that alone would be $60 a week!  So you see our difficulty here.  However, as my astute husband put it, Dale is at a point now where he doesn't need the intense therapy he once did.  If we get bumped off Medicaid, we'll carry on ourselves.  And I know both Lisa and Alison would do everything they can to make sure we are prepared to help Dale continue to move forward (play on words) with his progress in PT and SP.

Fourth, I took Emily back to the dentist today to get two small cavities filled.  The dentist was concerned because the x-ray showed one cavity near the tooth root; he warned us that, if the cavity went too deep, he may have to do a pulpotomy---a baby root canal.  Yikes!  I prayed and prayed, asking God to keep the procedure simple and avoid any problems, and He answered.  There was no difficulty in cleaning out the decayed portion of her tooth; they saw no sign of the nerve and easily filled the small excavation.  Dr. Knox did warn that, since the filling was close to the nerve, Emily might develop some sensitivity in that tooth, so we'll have to keep an eye on it.  The numbing medicine has just about worn off, and Emily managed to only bite her lip once.  So, praise the Lord!

All in all, God is good.  Even when we have headaches that threaten to sabotage our day, even when we have car troubles that don't seem to go away, even when His hand of blessing seems so far away, God is good.  We are blessed to be His children, under His watchful care, always in His heart and on His mind.  God truly loves us.

Zephaniah 3: 17  "The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Update Saturday morning 6/9

Our first week of summer vacation is coming to a close, so why don't I feel rested?  It must be because each day has been filled with activities, dental visits, and youth functions.  Monday---Dale had PT and Emily graduated K-5.  Tuesday---we wound up running errands.  Wednesday---the girls all had dental appointments: then I had Buttons and Bows; Amanda and Katie went to teen soul winning; and, of course, there was the mid-week service.  Thursday---Dale and I went to the dentist; Amanda had a cleaning job; we got some groceries before picking up Mandie again and heading home (I think we got lunch around 2:00!).  Friday---Dale had SP; the girls came along so that after SP we could all walk around the mall......we spent two hours there despite my best intentions; we were home for a few hours before I took Dale, Katie, and Amanda up to church for a youth activity.  So here I am on Saturday morning wondering if I can just stay home today!  :-/

Dale was supposed to have PT Wednesday morning, but he woke up feeling rather sick.  He said he felt like he did at PT a couple of weeks ago when he kind of "checked out" for a few seconds and began swaying.  I tried gently pushing him to finish getting ready, thinking that the 45-minute trip to get to PT could help settle his stomach and calm his shaking (it has before), but he was really in distress.  So I called PT and canceled the appointment, deciding to give Dale a proper breakfast before taking him with me to the girls' dental appointments.  He seemed to be doing all right as the day wore on.........and Dr. Knox and his staff were all pleased to see Dale (and us!) since we hadn't been able to go to them for some time due to insurance difficulties.  We enjoyed catching up and rejoicing again over God's continuous healing of Dale; plus, my kids have always enjoyed going to the dentist.  Dr. Knox is superb with children, although he is not just a pediatric dentist, and my children, though plagued with some cavities, don't kick and scream at the thought of getting their teeth cleaned and examined.  There were a few reported cavities, though none serious, and some orthodontic references we may pursue if we wish.  (You know, if we suddenly inherit several thousand dollars!)  A friend of mine once put it like this:  "If they can still eat, they don't need braces."  I like that opinion, but we'll have work done if we feel they truly need it.

Thursday's dental visit went well for both Dale and myself.  I was a bit concerned for Dale's teeth, since he went through a period of a few weeks without brushing.  While in the PICU, the nurse used some kind of anti-bacterial swab of mouthwash on Dale's teeth and gums.  This may have been because they wanted to prevent tooth decay, or it may have been to combat the various nasty bacteria Dale picked up when he swallowed half the ocean.  Then, at Good Sam rehab, part of Dale's OT was brushing his teeth in the morning.  It was truly comical watching this poor boy, who had only the vaguest idea what was going on (his brain was still quite foggy), trying to go through the normal motions of oral hygiene.  He couldn't figure out how to squeeze the toothpaste onto the toothbrush; his brushing motions were only half-hearted; he wasn't yet cleared for thin liquids so he wasn't supposed to drink any water (he would allow liquid right into his trachea without realizing it or coughing it out), so rinsing his mouth was "allowed" but not condoned; and his ability to spit properly was completely absent---he wound up with most of his spittle, toothpaste, and drool down his front!  Of course, the OT therapist was right there beside him to help, but still, looking back, that was both funny and scary.  At that point, we still weren't sure how much Dale would get back.  We believed God would heal him fully, but everyone was telling us it would be a long process.  I took to brushing Dale's teeth at night before bed so as to be sure his teeth were clean at least once a day; I continued this practice for a few months after we got home until I was certain he could handle it on his own.  Even then, I worried that his teeth were going to develop major cavities, but the dentist reported only a small one in a back molar; he said it can wait until the tooth in front of it falls out (baby tooth) so as to give the dentist the best angle possible at which to fill the cavity.  All in all, our dental appointments went very well!

Dale got to go to a youth activity last night!!!  I don't think he has attended one since his accident.  For the first several months, Dale was not "awake" enough or steady enough to allow him to go, but he's made such great progress in his balance and walking that attending this activity seemed the right move.  Amanda and Katie agreed to help Dale whenever he needed it, and Chad approved of the idea, so off they went!  The teens had a cookout at Bro. Jon and Mrs. Whitney's house.  Everyone met at the church and boarded a bus to go over to their house; Amanda helped Dale up the bus steps and into a seat.  I have to say---I was expecting a phone call saying there had been an accident and we needed to come get Dale.  Considering my overactive imagination, I could foresee every possible problem arising........but nothing too bad happened.  Dale did fall on the sidewalk, even while holding Mandie's hand, and managed to acquire quite a lump on the back of his head.  He said he cried a little but stopped soon.  They didn't even apply ice, and the swelling is almost completely gone this morning.  This apparently happened on the very short walk from the bus to the front door of their house, and Dale still had a good time at the activity.  He even walked from one room to the next to play a video game (are we surprised?) without any help.  This made his sisters and Mrs. Whitney gasp when he suddenly appeared in the next room, but Mrs. Whitney recovered quickly and told the girls not to be mother hens but to let Dale be with the guys if he wanted to.  ***Dale has been gaining independence more and more lately.  We don't give him any assistance walking around the house, down the hall to the bathroom, or getting to the table for a meal.  This encourages him to take little walks like the aforementioned stroll from one room to the next.  In fact, Wednesday night after the service, Dale walked from the front pew where we sit all the way out to the van by himself!***  They all had a great time and came home relatively unharmed.  I was actually relieved to get the "Dale got hurt" episode over at the first activity so no one would be constantly worried something might happen.  Now they know that it already did and all was well, so they can breathe more easily from now on.

Amanda and Katie are getting excited about their upcoming Youth Conference trip to California.  Every year, North Valley Baptist Church holds a giant conference for teenagers; they play games, hold music contests, have skits---but, most importantly, preach to the teens about doing God's will, making right decisions, and setting standards.  This will be Mandie's third year going but only Katie's second.  Last year, Katie had earned all the money and was set to go but began having those severe headaches that were finally diagnosed as migraines.  Unfortunately, the diagnosis didn't come until after Youth Conference, so Dale went in her place.  He had a great time, despite being accidentally left on the bus one night.  He was tuckered out and had fallen asleep on the bus ride back to the hotel; when they reached their destination, no one bothered to wake him up!  The adult chaperones should have checked the bus to be sure everyone got off, but they were probably too tired themselves.  Dale slept on until about 1:00 in the morning when he awoke, somewhat confused about his surroundings.  He got off the bus, stumbled into the hotel, found his room........and couldn't get in because he didn't have a key card!  He knocked on the door several times, but his roommates didn't hear him, being dead asleep.  The guys across the hall heard him, though, and went with him to the office to get another key card.  Dale said they made it fun, pretending like they were on some secret spy mission and avoiding the security officer patrolling the lot.  We were rather upset when we found out what had happened, though thankful that Dale was all right; Bro. Jon was very apologetic, and Pastor Minge assured us that steps had been taken to ensure no one would ever be left on a bus again like that!  If Dale had not had his accident and could have earned the money, he would still be going this year.  Considering the circumstances now, we won't send him until he is able to take care of himself better.

Praise the Lord for His continued goodness to us through hard times and easy.  We are blessed to call Him Father and rejoice in our difficulties, knowing that He is working in our lives and will continue to do so as long as we let Him.

Ezekiel 34: 11 - 12  "For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out.  As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Update Tuesday evening 6/5

Emily's K-5 graduation on Friday night was a great success!  She and her classmates looked so adorable in their caps and gowns.  Before the actual ceremony, they put on the play which was written by their teacher, Mrs. Pitcher.  (She is a fantastic teacher, by the way!)  The play simply depicted a day in their K-5 classroom by using a sixth grader as the "teacher" and the graduates themselves as the students.  This gave each child a chance to show off what they have learned, such as reading, counting numbers, counting money, telling time, etc.  Of course, since the actors were kindergarteners, there were bound to be mix-ups and goofs!  One student was dressed up as a dog who came to school with his owner; the student handed the teacher a crumpled, torn homework paper, stating, "My dog ate my homework!"  The dog then sat with the class and proceeded to forget his next part.  His owner stood to say his lines and had to wait, rather impatiently, for the dog to realize he was supposed to be standing next to him!  Once that part was over, the dog was "banished" to the doorway of the "classroom" where he looked on mournfully.  When the entire play was over (about twenty minutes), amid much giggling and such, the students turned to leave.  The leader was not quite certain she should start moving, so the student at the other end helped her make up her mind by saying loudly, "Go!  What's wrong with you?"  We all laughed, except for the parent of that particular student who was cringing a bit.

While the graduates were putting on their caps and gowns, we got to watch a DVD presentation put together by their teacher, showing wonderful pictures of each student throughout the year.  Mrs. Pitcher really did a superb job on the DVD.  There were pictures from the beginning of school, from playtime, from the Pumpkin Patch field trip, and from Christmas.  She included some fun shots of the kids "painting" with shaving cream, enjoying lunch, and just being silly.  There were, of course, photos of each graduate all dressed up in their cap and gown and several pictures of best friends smiling sweetly into the camera.  Emily looked absolutely precious in each of her shots, except for one where she looked like she was barely tolerating the existence of her fellow students!  I asked Mrs. Pitcher afterwards if I could get copies of those pictures; I definitely want to keep those memories.

Once the DVD viewing was complete, the pianist began playing the marching music, and the miniature graduates filed up the aisle to accept their diplomas and display huge grins to their adoring audience.  There was a reception afterwards with everyone milling about, eating cake and watching our young graduates playing with each other.  Emily even got a card with money in it for her graduation, and, boy, was she excited!  For Chad and me, this was, indeed, a milestone.  Emily was our last to graduate from K-5 which means no more nap time at school, no more nursery, no more staying only half a day, no need to tell her not to get that gown dirty because we want to use it again for her sister's graduation.  I found myself contemplating whether or not we would ever actually show up for another K-5 graduation!  We felt so free......we now had the choice whether or not to attend!  (Of course, we will still go.)  Still, this was a liberating moment for my husband and myself.

Then, senior graduation was last night.  What a beautiful ceremony that was!  The love displayed by each graduate for their parents, the gratitude they showed for their teachers and principal and pastor, the genuine joy they had to finally be free from high school was wonderful to see.  We had five graduates this year, fewer than usual but plenty to be proud of.  There was a DVD presentation for this ceremony as well with each graduate contributing photos of themselves as babies up through their senior year.  At the reception afterwards, we were able to walk around and view each graduate's table, set up and decorated with pictures and memories special to that person.  There was a huge buffet spread, a giant cake plus individual cupcakes, and some really good punch to enjoy.  I couldn't help but think about next year when it will be our turn to help Amanda say goodbye to her childhood and prepare for the next phase of life.  We're already teasing her about the baby pictures we intend to use to embarrass her!  She has threatened to disown us entirely if we do any such thing, so we'll have to be sneaky in getting those photos displayed.  :-D

Dale had PT yesterday afternoon, and I wish there was some way to show each of you just how great he did.  He walked up and down the stairs (a permanent part of PT) with little or no help, impressing Alison quite a bit.  Then, it was on to the skybridge for some practice letting go of the rail while walking (a soon-to-be permanent part of PT!).  Alison has been working with Dale a good bit on this, and her perseverance is beginning to pay off.  Dale was able to walk half the distance of the skybridge (any farther is apparently asking too much!) by taking a few steps, then moving his hand along the rail before taking the next few steps.  This may be hard to picture, but, believe me, it's even harder for Dale to get himself to do.  His tendency is to grip the rail tightly, thereby ensuring his steady balance but also making it difficult for him to take more than two steps without stopping.  Yesterday, Dale actually walked some three or four steps and kind of slid his hand along the rail.  This is a major accomplishment!  He still needs to work on this, but even a little progress is good to see.  He then proceeded to shock both Alison and myself by walking backwards, sliding his hand along the rail!!!  You probably have no idea how incredible this feat really is!  For Dale, since the accident, taking steps backwards is truly grueling.  His brain automatically thinks he is falling, and he generally shakes and has to latch onto the nearest solid object---Alison, me, the rail, the wall.  Watching him walk backwards with such ease gives us hope that one day---maybe soon---Dale will not have trouble with this at all.

THEN.........Dale did something he has not done since his accident.  Are you ready?  He walked out of PT, down the hall to the elevator, onto the elevator and off again at the parking garage, up the ramp to our van, and climbed into the front seat of the van.........WITHOUT ANY HELP!!!  Isn't that amazing?  I didn't lay a hand on him, just stayed near in case he needed help.  He protested some when I said, "All right, let's go," and simply held out my arm to indicate that he should start walking by himself, but then he just kept going!  I wanted to jump up and down for joy!!!  I also wanted to race back in to PT and tell Alison, but she'll have to wait until PT tomorrow to hear about this.  She had just said that the last few weeks, she has written over and over how great Dale was doing; now, she'll really have something to write about!  And, at home later that evening, Dale walked down the hall to use the restroom all by himself.  Dad and Emily were upstairs, so Dale took himself to the bathroom!  He walked down the hall, into the restroom, turned the light on, closed the door, maneuvered himself into position (sorry!), and got back out and down the hall to the living room completely on his own.  AND he did it again this morning!  Remember when I would post how Dale couldn't even remember how to pull his pants down, much less maneuver in the bathroom?  How good God is to allow him to recover to this extent and to allow us to praise Him while doing it!  Half the wonder in this story is that God is letting us be a part of His miracle.  We're just on the sidelines, cheering each excellent move God makes and holding fast our faith when He makes a move we don't understand or even agree with.  Each of us has much for which to be thankful; I think our family just finds it easier to name those things since God has made His hand so evident in our daily lives.

And, yes, it has been nine-and-a-half weeks since Dale last had a seizure.  I guess I haven't mentioned it because, in a way, I didn't want to jinx anything!  That sounds silly, doesn't it, as if God is bound by my superstitions.  So much for my faith, huh?  At any rate, Dale has exhibited small seizure-like symptoms, like zoning out for a few seconds at PT the other week and jerking wildly while trying to get into the truck last Saturday; but he has not gone into a full (or even partial) seizure for a while.  I believe the medication is helping Dale control his brain and hold himself back from a seizure even when his brain or body really feels like it's necessary.  This is good; every day/week/month Dale goes without a seizure means steps made toward teaching his brain not to have one.  So, again, praise the Lord!

Our summer break has just begun, and already our calendar is filling up.  My girls have jobs with various church people---cleaning, babysitting, etc.---which help them earn money to put toward upcoming events like Youth Conference, volleyball season next year, or senior trip.  Dale still, for now, has therapy three times a week, plus summer school.  Chad's trucking job with the gravel company tends to pick up (no pun intended!) during the summer, and HE GOT A RAISE!!!  I, alone, have the ability to sit around the house and do nothing all summer.  And, if you believe that, you've got a mighty large hole in your head!  :-)  You really should have that looked at.

Hoping your summer gives you more opportunities to walk with God, we remain.........The Ostrander Family

Hebrews 11: 1 - 3  "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good report.  Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Update Friday afternoon 6/1

Well, the day has finally arrived for which we have been waiting.  Our youngest, Emily, will graduate from K-5 tonight!  They will walk down the aisle to accept their "diploma" and then put on a short play for all of us adoring parents.  Emily is already stressing about her reading part in the play.  She told me, "I can't do it well, and Mrs. Pitcher (teacher, voice coach) will be sitting down!"  Five-year-old stress.......tell me, if she can't handle this, how is she going to survive the next twelve years of school?!  Oooooh, boy, something to look forward to!

Chad and I approached this milestone before when Ashley was in kindergarten.  We were looking forward to the "growing up" years:  no more diapers, no more baby food, no more waking up in the night to a crying baby, ready to move on to "older" children.  Then........surprise!  Emily came along!  We found out halfway through Ashley's K-4 year that we were expecting again.  Emily was born three months early, so she and Ashley are just over five years apart.  We had gotten rid of all baby things once Ashley grew out of them, so we had to get new car seats, new crib, new blankets, new clothes, new everything!  Of course, our wonderful church family helped us out tremendously by throwing us a "this is unexpected" baby shower.  We found a cute little pink stroller with ladybugs all over it.  Since Emily was born so early, she was super tiny.  More than once, when we were walking through the store with Emily in her stroller, someone stopped us to say, "Oh, I thought that was a baby doll, but she's real!"  Seriously, why would a woman my age be pushing a doll around in a stroller???

Anyway........we are glad Emily's graduation is tonight.  My husband was able to take off work to be there, so we'll all enjoy her play.  I have to tell on one of my girls, but don't tell anyone, OK?  :-)  During one of our daughters' graduation plays, the kids got the giggles.  Our daughter laughed so hard that she accidentally wet herself!  Then the laughter turned to tears because she didn't know what to do next---should she keep on going or run for the bathroom?  She stood there crying for several minutes until my husband went to her and calmed her down.  Her teacher also talked with her, and, as a result, our daughter was able to finish the play.  The other kids had just sat there, unsure what to do because our daughter had not said her next line, so, in their five-year-old minds, no one else could speak!  Once our daughter was able, in a tear-clogged voice, to speak her next line, the play finished smoothly.  Talk about relief!!!  Chad and I were so thankful to see the end of that program!  And, because our daughter didn't want anyone to know exactly what had occurred (obviously), we could only anwer vaguely when someone asked what went wrong onstage.  Thankfully, our other children, during their graduation plays, did not have any problems!  Whew!

Today is the last day of school, and it's only a half-day at that.  There was a brief awards ceremony this morning for all students.  Our girls received the Scripture memorization award, and Amanda got the Honor Roll award (all four quarters).  Throughout the school, there were some names called repeatedly---teachers' pets!---and some whose parents were just glad could move on to the next grade.  The high school guys cheered each time a high school boy got an award just to further embarrass him.  Bro. Minge, our principal, pointed something out:  When the elementary students' names are called, they come to the front with big smiles and excitement.  When the upper grades' names are called, they act like, "Do I really have to go up there?"  I think secretly they are thrilled but to show that would be acting "childish."  That's what parents are for.......to clap and cheer and fully embarrass their child, right?  I'm very good at that---just ask my kids!

Dale has no therapy until Monday.  He is having a bit of a shaky day today, having fallen a couple of times already, but he doesn't quit.  He just keeps going---like the Energizer bunny!  Speaking of therapy, here is a prayer request:  Beginning July 1st, Medicaid will no longer pay for services or medication unless authorized by an enrolled provider.  Group Health is our primary insurance, and they are not going to be enrolled with Medicaid any longer.  This may mean that Dale's therapies and doctor appointments may have to be curtailed some, since Medicaid right now pays for all co-pays and extra costs of care.  We are going to have to reapply for Medicaid for Dale anyway because that coverage only lasts until August 1st (one year), and we're not sure Medicaid would continue their coverage of Dale anyway.  So this may not be a big deal after all; this may simply move up by one month the date of Dale's curtailed therapy.  And, since he is doing so great (!!!), having to cut out some of his therapy may not be a problem.  YES!  So, we'll see how the summer unfolds.

Chad and I cannot express enough how thankful we are to our Heavenly Father for His goodness and care.  Not just in Dale's case, but for our whole family.  We are blessed to be His children, called by His name.

John 12: 26  "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be:  if any man serve Me, him will My Father honour."