Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Construction Trucks!

Grandma is having some construction done at her house! She decided after years of talking about it, that it was finally time to blow out the back of her house and expand her kitchen! After some patient waiting with the weather they started their digging today! Grandma was gone for the day working, but told us the workers would still be coming this morning. At breakfast I asked Joey if he wanted to go to the library like we usually do on Tuesdays or go and see the construction trucks at Grandmas...his answer was Grandmas! He was a bit confused as to why she wasn't there, but was easily distracted by all the excitement. Joey and Jillian loved looking at the digger and dumper, lifting all the mud into the big truck! Joey tried telling the construction worker that it was too muddy and he should take a bath! Exciting times at Grandma's...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not parish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

That is probably one of the most well known bible passages, and for a perfect reason. As I have mentioned in the past I am comforted by the fact that Josh passed away during lent. It is a constant reminder to me that God is good, that I will see Joshua again, and that Christ died so that we may live eternally with Him. Happy Easter!

We started off our day with a quick look for Easter baskets and then got dressed and headed out to church. Afterward we went to Assumption where Joey and Jillian got to play and bring some Easter Lilies. Jillian wore the jacket that my Grandma Rose made for me when I was a baby, it fit her perfectly!

Next we headed to Grandma's house where we found Andrew and Emma waiting to start our first Easter egg hunt! The kids had a lot of fun, thanks Auntie Christy for hiding them all so well and filling them! Instead of Target bags, next year we'll have to remember to bring our baskets...like I said it was our first year! After the egg hunt it was time to color some more eggs. Grandma saw how much they all liked coloring eggs last weekend that she bought some more and boiled them for the kids to color again! We sat down to enjoy our ravioli, ham, lamb, and veggies, and way too many desserts. The weather was so nice that we were able to go outside and play t-ball, ride bikes, run up and down the block, blow bubbles and just enjoy the day. Of course we forgot to bring the camera out, but trust me we all enjoyed the sunshine and warm weather!

Saturday we went to Nonna and Grandpa's for an early Easter celebration. The kids got baskets filled with toys and candy. Jillian enjoyed sporting Nonna's boa and of course the chocolate carrot, and Joey loved his Fearless Freddy Thomas train as well as the bubbles! They loved all the goodies, thank you!

On Friday we had a rainy day so the kids and I stayed in and painted! Joey and Jillian really enjoyed themselves, Jillian got her face pretty well, and Joey was very concentrated on his masterpieces. After a wardrobe change and some cleaning up we headed to the park district for our first day of Mommy and Me Bootcamp. I am teaching a 30 minute class for moms and their babies/kids. They have one child, I have 2 and they are the 2 oldest therefore most rambunctious out of the whole group! But they really enjoyed it, and I did too!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gearing Up For Easter

So we had a pretty busy weekend and still didn't get quite everything we wanted to do in (we missed Eva's birthday party on Saturday night, but had a much needed, and planned for a while, adult only dinner out with Paul and Katherine!). So here is what we have been up to...

Sunday we went out to Grandma's house to make our annual Easter ravioli. Auntie brought some donuts that everyone enjoyed, but Jillian really seemed to like getting into the chocolate frosting on hers! After some nourishment (don't tell anyone I'm an RD!) we made some ravioli for Easter. All the kids really got into it this year which was a lot of fun. Grandma made 3 batches of dough, Auntie Christy had the boys set up with the pasta press rolling out the dough into sheets, and I had the girls playing with flour, measuring cups, and pretty much whatever they wanted to make a mess while filling and sealing the ravioli. After some cleaning up we sat everyone back down at the table to color Easter eggs. Joey and Andrew had a great time coloring the eggs, Emma was more interested in trying to suck on the dipper that holds the eggs, whereas Jillian didn't want to use it at all, she just stuck her whole hand in the colored water to dunk her egg in and fetch it out when she was ready. A messy, but fun day! After heading home for naps we all met back up at the mall to attempt an Easter bunny visit. It was 4:15 and we showed up to the area where the bunny was. But he wasn't there...he was taking a break. Ok, so we stayed in line and at 4:30 when he was back we waited, and waited, and waited. Let me also tell you that our mall recently got a train (not sure if its for the holiday or what) that takes kids through the mall. Andrew had been on it before, but Joey had not, and the two were fixated on the train. So after waiting a little while longer, Auntie and I looked at each other, I left the line to see what the train line looked like and $15 later we had sent Grandma off with all the kids on a train ride! The real kicker was that as we were walking back to the train station to meet everyone we saw the Easter Bunny coming back from yet another break! We saw the line and wouldn't have moved in almost an hour! At that rate, the Easter Bunny is going to be late!

We weren't too upset about not visiting the Easter bunny. Last year we didn't have Jillian sit with the Easter bunny even though it was her first Easter because she had fallen asleep and Joey was terrified. Saturday Jillian proved to us that she loves the Easter bunny and tried booking towards him before we could even check in at the Bunny Bash! Uncle Mark, Auntie Miya, and Nathan joined us for the Bunny Bash at our park district where we took a quick picture of the kids with the Easter Bunny, Joey bounced in the bounce house, Nathan, Joey, and Jillian played some games, pet some of the bunnies, chicks, ducks, and lambs at the petting zoo, danced around to some music, made some crafts, and tumbled around on the mats for the Easter egg hunt. Thanks for coming to play with us Nathan! Note, Nathan is a fast guy...every time I tried to snap his picture he'd turn around or walk out of the picture!

As I mentioned earlier we had a nice dinner Saturday night with Paul and Katherine. Here are some of the other happenings in the past few weeks. Remember when it was in the 70's and the kids didn't need to wear coats? Hopefully those days are coming back, but during that time we took advantage of as much outside time as we could. Java and Snowy even got a play date in too!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Joshua's Journeys #56 Missing Holland

I received an e-mail today from a neighbor of the beautiful tulips that the Netherlands grow. I smiled looking at the bright, happy colored pictures, the windmills, and the peaceful atmosphere in which the pictures seemed to be taken. Ever since then I can't stop thinking about the poem (some of you are already nodding knowing what I am going to write) "Welcome to Holland." It is a poem written for those that have a child with special needs. It is about how you imagine things to be when you are pregnant and dreaming of that perfect family, but then find yourself somewhat detoured from where you thought you were going, and your arrival into Holland.

I remember the first time I received this poem, which I must've received a few handful of copies the first week or two that Josh was diagnosed. I remember reading it, and really being bothered by it, I didn't like it for several reasons, and a few things I still disagree with in terms of my feeling of entering Holland (especially the part where it says its slower--if you are booked solid from one appointment to the next and needing to remember tube feedings, suction catheters, special bottles, noses, etc. let alone the packed diaper bag for two infants then I don't want to know what fast paced is!). But I kept those copies, reread them from time to time, and realize it is a good way for some to understand what it is like to begin this amazing journey when you had no idea you would be going there. I feel like there is magic in Holland, only a parent of a child with special needs knows how amazing their child is, they have a connection that no one would ever know. Saying that I won't take the things Joey and Jillian accomplish for granted doesn't touch the surface of what it feels like to be in Holland and see your child do something as simple as eating a half a jar of baby bananas at 3:30 in the morning, how you don't care about the sleep you've lost over the past few weeks or months because those swallows, and not having to suction or look for the blue food coloring coming out of the trach, and trying to catch it on video for Daddy, the speech therapist that has become a good friend, or anyone to brag to and understand what this accomplishment means, it is truly priceless to have a trip to Holland. How I wish I could return...
I love you Joshua...

Welcome to Holland by Emily Pearl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It is like this:

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans...the Coliseum, Michaelangelo's David, the gondolas of Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!", you say, "What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life, I've dreamed of going to Italy!"

The stewardess replies, "There's been a change in the flight plan. We've landed in Holland and it is here you must stay."

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It is just a different place. So, you must go and buy new guidebooks. You must learn a whole new language. You will meet a whole new group of people you would never had met. It is just a different place. It is slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy, but after you have been there a while and you catch your breath, you look around and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrants. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That is where I had planned."

The pain of that will never, ever, ever go away because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jillian's 15 month check

Today we went in for Jillian's 15 month checkup. Jillian did great. It helped that this past weekend we went to the library for a Teddy Bear Clinic. They read some stories about Teddy Bears and then had a clinic where they had one of the librarians dressed as a doctor and another as a nurse. They asked each kid a few questions about their bears "What's your bear's name? Is he big or small? Do you hear his heartbeat?" Then they gave Teddy the Bear (Joey and Jillian don't really have teddy bears that they have any attachment to, so we used some random teddy bears we had so Joey didn't have a name to say for his bear so the doctor said it was Teddy the Bear) a checklist of the exam, a certificate for Teddy's check up, and a sticker for Joey and a small one for his Teddy. Jillian wasn't quite ready to sit through that exam since it was getting close to lunch time, so we didn't make her.

Speeding back up to today, Jillian did great for her exam. Joey said he would take Jillian to the doctor like he took Teddy and he did really well too. If you remember in the past Joey threw up at Jillian's appointment because he was so terrified! This time Joey did so good talking to Jill, telling her she was doing good, and watching bug eyed as she got her shots. We talked about how Joey will come back in 3 months for her 18 month appointment and his 3 year appointment and show her that you don't have to cry with shots. Jillian did do well. She cried only as long as it took to get her pants back on, and she was very interested in the crayon type band-aids she got. She did fall asleep on the way home, but she did very well at the visit. She was given a clean bill of health and her doctor smiled as he walked in the room and asked her if her middle name was Twinkle Toes because she was dancing around on the table while she was waiting for him. So here are her stats:
Weight: 23 pounds, 6 ounces putting her in the 60 %ile
Height: 31.25 inches, putting her in the 76%ile for height

Here is our little girl sporting her first set of pigtails. Her hair is still a little short for a pony tail, and a lot falls out in her pig tails too, but Daddy was wrapped around her finger a little tighter after he saw her in her piggies!

April Fun!

This weekend we some time outside, even though it is still a little on the chilly side, and went to the zoo. I kept telling Joey I was going to feed him to the animals and I'd pick him up and pretend to put him over the fence, and he would tell me that animals eat "fruits and vegetables, not Joey!" The kids had a fun time looking at the lambs including 3 baby ones that were "so cute," the bunnies, the chickens (Joey would keep walking past saying "hi chics!"),the "stinky pigs," the cows, donkey, llama, and of course the ducks!

Sunday night we celebrated (yes again!) Emma's first birthday with her favorite foods for dinner and then some yummy cupcakes and desserts. We also tried to get the cousins together for a good picture, but we had to settle for these action shots. Happy Birthday again Emma!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday Emma!

Today is Emma's 1st birthday (my niece/goddaughter)! Althought these pictures are out of order a bit, here is a glimpse of Emma's 1st year!

Happy Birthday Emma!