Thursday, November 26, 2009

Let Me Count The Ways

If you have ever stopped to count your blessings, then you must have been just as amazed and overwhelmed as I am this Thanksgiving. It would take much too much virtual memory to list all of the blessings in my life here today, but there are 5 that stick out in my mind ~ this year in particular:

Isaiah can walk.

My ovaries are "normal in appearance".

My husband will be home for Christmas.

No one in my family has contracted H1N1 or any other flu.

If they do get sick, we have health insurance that will pay for whatever they need.

I pray that today as you go about your Turkey Business, you can take a wide-eyed look at your life and recognize your true blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Early Bird...

....catches a beautiful sunrise. This was the view this morning as I was taking Isaiah to his bus:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Celebrate Me Home

Even though J's homecoming is still a couple of weeks away, a yellow ribbon is now tied to the tree in our front yard. It's far from being a mighty oak--in fact, it just got its "training wheels" taken off by the landscapers this past summer. But what it symbolizes is striking: we have a loved one fighting a war overseas. And he is coming home.

We didn't get an opportunity to have a big Welcome Home after J's first deployment. The girls and I were away from our home in Germany at the time. We were stateside visiting when J's orders to Oklahoma came down during his deployment. It was a race to get back home--he, coming from the Middle East and the girls and I bolting from Baltimore. We arrived in Germany just hours apart (he got there first). No balloons, no banners, no flags...just 4 people who were so deliriously happy to see each other that it didn't even matter.

J probably could not have cared less, but I always felt he deserved more ~ that we all did. I decided to make up for it while preparing for his second redeployment from Iraq. I ordered banners and bought yards of ribbon. The kids made homemade signs. We waved flags and cheered thunderously with other loved-ones-in-waiting as the buses bringing them from Ramstein Air Force Base made their way around the corner. Even "Flat Daddy" made an appearance on the Parade Field as our soldiers marched literally back to us. It was the homecoming of my dreams...just perfect.

This redeployment will not come with much fanfare. J is leaving his unit behind. There will be no cheering crowds at the airport. No marching across the parade field. No bands. No speeches. No flags. Just us. And you know what? That is the perfect homecoming.

As perfect as the yellow ribbon tied to the little tree in our front yard.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Rumor Weed

I've never really had a "green thumb". Even though housing has people who take care of our lawns, J always likes to maintain our yard himself.

I accepted the responsibility to keep the backyard mowed and flowerbed tended while he was deployed. I weeded and watered all summer. As the grass stopped growing this fall, the flowerbed became neglected. One weed in particular grew to the size of an average 7 year-old child practically overnight. Whenever I thought about having a go at it, the weather wouldn't cooperate. But tonight as I was taking out the trash, I realized it wasn't actually cold or raining for a change. So I decided to take that sucker down ~ from the RUTS.

Armed with a gardening tool, Mariah and I commenced to weed-whacking. Four of her little neighborhood girlfriends wandered over to see what we were doing. Soon Mariah joined them and off they went for some play time. That's about the time I got tickled at my situation:

Hoeing in the dark...I'm hoeing in the dark..., I sang.

Hoeing in the dark...I'm hoeing in the dark..., sang little voices in the dark.


I thought they were playing over there!

Me: No! Don't sing that!

Little Olivia: Why not?

Me: Ummm...*snicker, snicker*...because it's just not a good thing to go around singing.

Sweet Abigale: But it's what you are doing!

Great. My neighors will now know that Mr. B is deployed and Mrs. B is "hoeing" in the dark.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mama's Mental Crutch

"Isaiah was up walking exploring for about 1.5 hours--very strong walking....he is walking so well--do not need walker. :)"

~Part of a note written by his classroom aid in his Communication Notebook November 17, 2009

When Isaiah started bearing his own weight, his then PT brought over a Kaye reverse walker for him to try (that's not the walker in the pic. above--that's a wagon the therapists brought over on Day #1 of Operation: Get Isaiah Upright). He dragged his feet and stomped like Frankenstein, but he was up and he was getting mobile. Since then, Isaiah has never been without a Kaye.

This past summer, Isaiah miraculously learned how to walk unassisted. YAY! As big a deal as that was, he was an unsteady and unsafe walker. I was nowhere near ready for him to part with the Kaye. It made me feel secure. So I continued to send it with him on the school bus everyday.

But I guess I've known for a while he wasn't always going to need the Kaye. On the sidelines of Mariah's soccer games, Isaiah was known to walk completely o-u-t of the walker--leaving it in the dust. (The moms used to joke that one day we'd all look up and Isaiah would be on the field scoring the game-winning goal). He has had zero problems getting into EVERYTHING lately. As he gets more confident with his abilities, the bolder he is becoming. His curiosity has piqued. And my reflexes have sharpened (did you know that the sound of a kid playing in the toilet sounds a lot like a dog drinking out of one?)

I feel awkward and ungrateful complaining to my Special Needs Moms---Stop whining! At least your kid is walking. And I feel awkward and ungrateful complaining to my Typical Moms---Stop whining! At least your kid is walking.

Truth is, Isaiah is ready to leave his Kaye behind. Truth is, I'm not sure if I am ready to see it go.

Confused? That makes two of us.

Friday, November 13, 2009


...even if it happens to be Friday the 13th. Bah. I am just thanking the good Lord for seeing me through to another weekend.

My appreciation for Friday typically begins Thursday night. Friday is Trash Day and the cans can be on the curb anytime after 5pm Thursday. I get absolutely giddy at the sight of receptacles on the curb. That means when I awaken, it will be to the sound of a garbage truck barreling down my street and to another Friday morning ~ the gateway to another weekend.

Every Friday that passes also gets me closer to a reunion with J. It gets us closer to the holidays and closer to moving, which is truly bittersweet. Lately, I've found myself getting emotional at the thought of leaving our "new family" behind. These are the very special people we have allowed in our "bubble". To a special needs family, a bubble is where you feel your child is safest. It's a a place where we can be ourselves. It's where we don't have to explain why our children don't walk or talk or why they drool and are 5 and still in diapers. It includes people who know and love us--people we are in contact with regularly. People who understand and appreciate our daily struggles and triumphs. Bubble People like Isaiah's therapists ~ especially PT Larry and his assistant, Johnna, who saw Isaiah's potential from the start and have accepted nothing less for over a year and a half.

I have been tearing up every time I cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge lately knowing our PT visits are numbered. It's hard to explain the complexity of the relationships and the emotions involved. The closest bond I could think of would be one with an excellent childcare provider. One who loves your child, understands your child, who disciplines with love and respect, and never tries to take your place. Someone who listens to you and your concerns for your child. Someone who makes your dreams for your child their dreams for your child.

I attended 4 Parent/Teacher conferences this week. And each time I broke the news that the kids would not be returning after Christmas Break, I was met with the same shock and sadness from every single teacher. My kids might not be the highest-achieving students in class, but if their teachers' reactions to the news of their leaving was any indication, they are amazing little people who have made quite an impression. And apparently, they are going to be sorely missed. Makes me feel that despite the fact that we have to uproot the kids every few years, J and I have done something right.

The Brownies will be on the move again soon, and DC area--we are looking for a few good Bubble People.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

When Pigs Fly

Today was supposed to be Isaiah's final cardiologist appointment before we move. Ah well, it looks like we have at least one more in store.

The good news is the echocardiogram showed great heart function ~ lots of good squeezing going on. Bad news, he is still having arrhythmias (this ca-razy extra beat!) and possibly even short bursts of SVT (supraventricular tachycardia---abnormally fast heart rate). So Dr. P wanted him on a Holter monitor again for 24 hours. If what he suspects is happening is true, he'll keep Isaiah on the Atenolol (adjusted dosage) and we will have to follow up with a specialist in the DC area.

Half man, half machine and totally cute. It's Cyborg Zaiah!

He also strongly suggested Isaiah receive the H1N1 vaccination today. Isaiah is considered "at risk" and with all of the travelling we are about to do, Dr. P thought it would be in Isaiah's best interest. He spoke to the vax clinic and they put one on hold for him until after he was fitted for his Holter monitor.

I'm not going to fib--I have been pretty indifferent about the whole swine flu debate. The kids have had the seasonal vaccinations and we are pretty diligent about hygiene and the War on Germs. But if a doctor I know and trust who knows our health history recommended the H1 vax, I wouldn't hesitate to get it for the kids. The vaccination Isaiah received today is supposed to have just trace amounts of "bad stuff" in it, we were told. He'll need a second dose this time next month. (The last thing he probably wants for Christmas is the swine flu). He got the injectable, but the mist is now available at our hospital for the girls as well.

On the bright side, all this swine talk has my mouth watering for some bacon. Anyone want to join me for a BLT?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Savannah's Hero

This is the photo Savannah chose to share with her middle school. The students were asked to submit pictures of their favorite service member. The pictures were then shown during the Veterans Day assembly in a slide show presentation accompanied by the student's name and his or her relationship with that service member. Patriotic music played in the background. The whole thing brought tears to the eyes of most of the adults in attendance. With both wars raging, our loved ones deployed, and our thoughts still with our Fort Hood family---it proved to be quite emotional.

J will be back home soon. God bless the soldiers he leaves behind, the ones who made it safely home, the ones headed to the fight ~ and the ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Isaiah and I had some time to kill today between Savannah's Veterans Day assembly and picking up Mariah from her half day. So a tall Peppermint Mocha and slice of raspberry pound cake it was!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Balloon Boy ~ Meet Box Girl

Unlike Balloon Boy, Mariah actually did get trapped---in a box. Not way up in the sky, but right in her own bedroom. Click on the video clip to hear her story in her own words. I expect to hear from Larry King any day now:

Friday, November 6, 2009


I said, young man, what do you want to be?
I said, young man, you can make real your dreams.

~"Y.M.C.A." as sung by The Village People

There are about three gyms and just as many pools here on post. Family members and dependants of soldiers have free access to all. But this summer I bought a membership to the YMCA--and not even the Y closest to my house. But I have to go there. It's where Isaiah learned how to walk.

As I was filling out the paperwork to enroll, the guest services lady questioned why I would pass not one, not two, but three other Y's on the way. That's when I explained what had occurred over the summer...why their Y was so special to us.

She was blown away. She asked right then and there if I wouldn't mind submitting Isaiah's unique story for their "My YMCA" feature on their website and newsletter. One of their missions is to inspire. And with over 18,000 members, she was confident Isaiah's story, which is in their November issue, could touch someone locally.

It wasn't so long ago that I was inspired. If I can gift that hope to another mother, another family--it will be totally worth the trip.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Do you know the Muffin Mandie*?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....I became a Star Wars nerd. It happened over the summer. I blame it on my Star Wars obsessed daughter, Savannah. I hadn't even seen the first Star Wars movie ("A New Hope", by the way) before she had me hooked on "The Clone Wars" (an animated series set sometime between "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith". Uh-oh--nerd alert).

Halloween was a no brainer ~ especially when Mariah informed me she wanted to be Ahsoka Tano (Anakin's young padawan in "The Clone Wars". OK. I promise I'm going to stop doing that). Not happy with anything I saw online, I went to task making her costume (the biggest compliment came from a dad I heard shout, "Hey look Sally--there's Ahsoka Tano!!!" I could have kissed that man).

At the last minute, Darth Vader (AKA: Savannah), reneged and became instead, The "Phantom" Menace. It was all good ~ along with Baby Yoda (AKA: Isaiah), we payed homage to the old school and the new.

The weather cooperated with our trick-or-treating plans. The girls took turns carrying Isaiah's goodie bag up to doors as he sat all Jedi Master-like in his stroller. It didn't take long to get a decent haul and that's when we decided to head back home and to start giving out candy. I wasn't sure of the turnout. Last year's group was pretty dismal.

Imagine my surprise when we were converged upon by wave after wave of candy seekers. In the midst of it all, we ran out of candy. I felt so bad for a particular little boy who had been waiting so patiently in line.

And then my mind went to muffins.

Last month I bought 2 huge boxes of assorted Otis Spunkmeyer individually wrapped muffins for Mariah's soccer team. The game had been cancelled due to lightning, so I was stuck. And after we had eaten all of the banana nut, what was the point, really?

"Wait right there!" I ran to the kitchen, yanked up the cache, and made that little kid's day. Tiny hand after tiny hand reached inside the box. They were gone like hotcakes. And if I ever run out of muffins on Halloween, that's another option. Mind the syrup, kiddos.

*"Mandie" is my childhood nickname that sticks to this day.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Just Shoot Me

You know that moment when an idea becomes so crystal clear, you stop whatever you are doing to pursue it? The moment a writer or musician scrambles for the nearest scrap of paper? I decided today would be the day to shoot our annual Christmas card photo. Beautiful fall day, new camera, plenty of candy to bribe the kids with--a recipe for success.

Or not.

This year, it's not going to be about "perfection". I'm cutting myself some slack. Having them all smiling and looking in the same direction will be just fine.

Or not.