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."

1 comment:

  1. what a nice blog! I love graduations!! And I am so glad to hear of Dale's excellent improvements. Considering what he was like 9 months ago, this truly is a miracle and anyone who believes in God can see this. There is no" luck" here; it is God working in and through Dale and inspiring us all!! Hugs to Dale!!