Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer Fun - Photo Scavenger Hunt

For the past two years, Drew and I have been documenting his summer activities with a little binder we created.

At the beginning of June, we sat down with a pile of magazines and cut out ideas, recipes and pictures of games that we'd like to try over the coming weeks.

We've made ice cream, gone to amusement parks, and played many rounds of putt putt golf. There are times, though, when I really need some creative ideas for my boy to do ON HIS OWN. After all, the laundry (no matter how many times I yell at it) does not fold itself.

So, I was thrilled the other day when my friend Jessica at Two Shades of Pink posted a great idea about sending your kids on a photo scavenger hunt. I couldn't wait to try it out!

I made a list... some items were written out (3-letter words and sight words that he can read), and I drew pictures of other items for him to find. With list and camera in hand, Drew set out on his photo hunt adventure.





the number "3":




To make things a little harder, after Drew finished checking most of the items off his list, I challenged him to find things that started with certain letters of the alphabet. He had fun being creative with this assignment:

For "A", he found an Apron:

For "B", there were no surprises as he found a Ball:

And with "C", he cleverly captured his own countenance (... orrrrr C stands for his middle name!):

You can check out more ideas for the photo scavenger hunt on Jessica's blog, where she also encouraged me to print the pictures from our hunt for Drew to keep.

I think we'll store them in his Summer Fun binder.

What ideas have you come up with to keep your kids busy this summer?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What a Pair...

Whether she's dangling precariously from her big brother's arms as he hauls her from one room to the next or she's just putting up with his latest, greatest idea for a new game...


She just grins.

She gets no privacy. No personal time. No quiet naps. No toys of her own. He is set on being a part of every waking moment (and some of the sleeping ones, too) of this little girl's life.

And she just smiles.

I assume that the day will come when he won't be thrilled to find her in the middle of his room playing with his matchbox cars.

And I'm guessing she'll eventually be grossed out by his antics, jokes, or smelly socks.

But for now, he is the clown,

and she has the best seat in the big top.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Two New Words

We met with the neurosurgeon at All Children's Hospital today. All in all, the appointment went very well. We received a diagnosis and got to ask the doctor many questions.

Drew has something called Chiari Malformation. Basically, the base of his brain (the cerebellum) extends down past where a normal person's brain would stop. Therefore, it's creating a sort of cork at the base of his skull which hinders the flow of important spinal fluids up and down the spinal column and around his brain.

Because the cerebellum controls functions like balance, the doctor was most interested in whether Drew was having any trouble with gross motor skills like walking, running, jumping, standing still.

With a new sense of gratitude in our hearts, we assured the doctor that this boy was ALL BOY and was very active and healthy. Besides the headaches, we couldn't think of any other symptoms that could have led us to suspect this condition.

(Since then we've put together a few other things that we just didn't think about right there in the office... like, his legs fall asleep all the time, much more often than other kids we know, and it causes him brief moments of intense pain).

After speaking with Drew and asking him to perform a few "tricks" for him, the doctor looked at us, grinning. "He is doing remarkably well!" He went on to say that, by looking at the MRI images, he would have been very concerned for the child the images belonged to. But in looking at our boy, live and in person, he was greatly encouraged.

One thing I am most grateful for was his conservative, sympathetic approach to the treatment options. He told us that he could do surgery. He could make the "picture (referring to MRI image) look prettier", but if the condition was having such little affect on Drew, he was reluctant to do something just to make his brain "look" more normal.

So, in about six weeks, we'll go back to the hospital for a day of tests, including a full MRI of his spine (we need to see whether spinal fluid is being inhibited from flowing properly by that "cork effect" I mentioned).

At that point, we'll talk about the surgery v. wait-and-see approach.

As we left the office, Drew said, "Well, that was fun!"
He asked if we could do something special on our way home! "Sure!" my husband and I replied, as I tossled the mop of blonde hair on his well-studied head.

I think at that point, we would have bought him a Wii.
I'm glad we held off on our offers, because he was thrilled with a dollar in the lobby's vending machine and the pack of spearmint gum it spit out.

So, that was today in a nutshell. A lot of new information, but our hearts are just abounding with grateful praise. We know it could be much worse, and we thank God for protecting our boy these last five years from more significant symptoms. We're thankful for a kind, smart doctor and for the prayers and thoughtful wishes of all our friends!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Two Words

They were just two words.

But as my husband so succinctly put it the other day, those two words "just changed the game".

About two weeks ago, Drew began suffering from severe and frequent headaches. When he'd experienced five such headaches in five days, I called his pediatrician. They saw us that afternoon.

After a complete exam and many questions about his symptoms, his doctor referred us to a radiology center for an MRI to be performed. Because of his age (and the need for patients to lie perfectly still while the 45 minute procedure is performed), Drew had to be put under sedation for his brain scan. (That was a whole story unto itself, but it'll have to be for another day...)

And just like things seem to go for us, once he had the MRI, his headaches disappeared. Not a one since. We have been very grateful. I actually thought that when we brought his MRI results to the follow-up visit with the pediatric neurologist, they'd dismiss us with a diagnosis like, "Your kid just got a few headaches. Nothing wrong. Go home and enjoy your life."

Apparently, my husband was thinking along the same lines, because that was the "game" he had in his head, too.

So, you can imagine our surprise when I received a phone call from the pediatrician's office. According to the neurologist, who'd had a chance to review the images of Andrew's brain, there was a "small malformation", something they'd be more comfortable sending us to a neurosurgeon to review.

I grabbed a small post-it note and began scribbling. "Small malformation". "Structural Issue". That's all I wrote because it's all she could tell me. That, and the information for our new appointment with one of All Children's Hospital's pediatric neurosurgeons on Wednesday, July 14.

As I hung up the phone, I did the only thing I knew to do if I was going to make it the 8 more days until our appointment. I literally bowed my head and held up my hands. I think I just needed, in that moment, to physically give this one to God. Let me tell you, friends.... there is nothing like that "peace that passes all understanding" unless you experience it for yourself.

I called David a few minutes later and shared what I had been told. I'm so grateful to God for a smart, level-headed spouse. His response was, "Well, I guess that changes the game."

So, we're in pre-game warmups (read: praying a lot) and would love for you to join our team.

And until we know more, we're trusting "I AM". Because those two words will trump any doctor's two words any day.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

My 4ths

When I was 12 years old, I spent the 4th of July at my grandparents house in South Carolina. The rest of my family had returned to Florida, but I was finally old enough to stay by myself for a while. With scores of cousins within a five mile radius, I had a phenomenal holiday weekend. That is, of course, until two of my cousins crashed into eachother while riding some little motorcycles my Papa owned. We spent the evening of Independence Day in the emergency room, as xray machines scanned for and counted up various broken bones. We were grateful that the injuries weren't more serious, and everyone recovered so well that the night still lives on in laughed-over stories every time we see eachother.

When I was 13 or 14 years old, we watched the fireworks down below our airplane as we flew home from a family vacation to Hawaii. I don't recall the pyrotechnic display very well, but I do remember the severe jetlag we all experienced. Upon our return home that evening, everyone went to his own room, unpacked, and settled in for bed. A few hours later, around 2am, we were all sitting on my parents' bed, laughing, talking and lamenting the fact that the jetlag was going to be a killer when time finally caught up with us!

When I was 16 years old, my sister and I spend our country's birthday in France (I know, I'm making it sound like we were world travelers, but it was just a couple of busy summers, I guess). Although I made decent grades in high school and my sister by all accounts is incredibly smart, we still managed to make ourselves look like a couple of dumb blonde teenagers when we asked what our French host family's plans were for the 4th. "Umm... pourquoi?"

When I was 20 years old, I asked my parents to invite my boyfriend's family over to help us celebrate the holiday. And I silently prayed that he would find a moment to sneak me away amidst the romantic and dramatic fireworks display to pop "the question". He didn't. But that weekend he did sneak away for a private lunch with my dad to ask for my hand in marriage. Three weeks later, my hubby of 12 years DID ask me to marry him by popping the question on a beautiful beach at sunset.

At 25 years old, I sat with my hubby and our first little one (the dog), watching fireworks from the driveway of our first home. We purchased one of those houses that made me think of the song, "Little Boxes" by Malvina Reynolds every time I pulled down our street. I'm not sure they were made out of ticky tacky, but they all looked just the same. It was the perfect place to start, and my memories of 3 summers there are fond ones.

Two summers ago, we spent the evening watches six different beach cities' shows from our perch along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico with my husband's family. My firstborn (Drew... not the dog) sat still with his uncle's Coast Guard earphones covering his entire head as the rest of the cousins danced around with sparklers. A few weeks ago, while we were picnicking together during our trip to Alabama, we laughed over the big hole in my brother-in-law's big picnic blanket... left over from an errant sparkler "spark" that night.

And tonight, I reflect on another great holiday for the memory book. We started the way I vote to start every 4th of July from now on... at church! Then we made our way to my parents' house where we ate hot dogs and played pool games and video games until Miss M (and Aunt Emmy) crashed. Tonight, we just hung out together as a family. Drew and the dog whimpered in various corners of the house every time a boom was heard. My hubby and I rolled our eyes at the pair of them then snuck out of the house to watch the neighborhood show after everyone was settled into bed.

And since the holiday has been extended into tomorrow for my husband's job, we're going to get up in the morning and just keep on celebrating.

I always think a birthday should be drawn out for days anyway.

Happy Birthday, America!