Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Raining Grace

A lot has happened in my life since I wrote here.  But then again, I'm sure a lot has happened in yours as well.

About eighteen months ago, I was a stay at home, homeschooling mother of 5 children, who gardened, canned, and took care of her babies and her husband.  I was exactly where I wanted to be.

Now, I am a full time working mother of 5, two of whom are in the local public school, one of whom is in her second year at NOVA, and the other 2 are at home with a nurse.

And I am single.

I look around me at all that has happened, and I see how everything has crumbled, and I feel the confusion and anxiety coming off the children in waves.

And my eyes brim, and I hang my head, and my body slumps down, down, down...

All the way down until my knees hit the floor and the only way I can look is up. And in the looking up, I realize that in this storm that I am in, in this raging downpour, it is not just driving rain that is falling, but grace, as well.  

Sometimes, the sun shines brightly, and I feel calm and capable and ready to face this next challenge, but sometimes, the weight is just too much to bear and my shoulders curve and shudder under the burden I carry.

And then somebody sends me a text, I'll pray for you.  Grace.

or someone offers to take the kids on Monday mornings.  Grace.

or someone comes and spends time with me, talking and listening, mostly just listening.  Grace.

And I feel the burden lift a tad and I feel the sun and wind on my face again just a bit and I turn toward the Light and I remember:

I am not in this alone.

So I turn my face into the storm,

Because only in facing this storm head on can I truly feel the rain

Grace like rain.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Letter to My Oldest, On the Occasion of Her (Belated) Birthday

I remember it.  

I distinctly remember that day at the end of April, and the 9 long months that went before it.  

I was young, barefoot and in a yellow cotton dress, and you, well, you were snuggled up there tucked under my rib-cage right below my heart.

I remember the first day that I realized that I was pregnant.  I was elated, overjoyed, and super excited.  And the funny thing is that I wasn't even scared.  I was ready for this new challenge, ready to tackle whatever it was that life would throw my way.

But like I said before, I was young.  

You were my first, and while I remember certain details of each of your siblings' births, it is yours that is buried the most deeply in my brain.  It is your birth, and your infancy that I remember every year when I wake up with the sun to the smells of spring and the songs of the birds.  It is you I remember nursing in the wee hours, no matter who it is that I am currently rocking back and forth in the dark.  

I remember  your big feet and your crazy shock of hair that stuck up off your head like a cocks-comb. I remember seeing you playing on the floor sometimes and just reaching over to pick you up just because you were you and you were mine.  I remember how I cried and called my dad the first time I cut your hair when you were 3 because it felt like such a milestone.   I remember your first day of preschool, and your last.  

And then things got complicated.  We moved to Hawaii, and then back.  And you stayed with your grandparents, and then here with me.  And we went through really hard times, and we went through really great times.  And I know sometimes it might not have felt like it, but you were always on my mind and first in my heart.  And sometimes I didn't realize that what I was doing hurt you or made you sad. 

But like I said, I was young. 

And then we grew up fast, you and I.  Jo was born, and then in quick succession, Gabriel, Jesse and Hazel Grace, 

and suddenly, I'm not so young, 

and neither are you.

And sometimes, no, often, I look back on some of the decisions that I made, and I cringe at the selfishness of them even though they were not intended to be selfish.  I never meant to hurt you or make you feel alone, I was just trying to survive...get by...and find my way in this world.  

So I guess in a way, we grew up together

Which isn't really the way it's supposed to be, and I'm sorry for that.  

But now I see you, a talented young lady, with the world in front of you, and I would be a fool to deny that who you are is a product of the life you've lived, and I can't help but be proud of you.

You are who you are mostly not because of me or anything I've done, but rather, to a great extent, in spite of me and everything I've done.  

So here you are, at the brink of adulthood, and I feel the time that I have with you slipping through my fingers like so much sand in an hourglass.  

And the Littles feel it, too.  As much as Jo wants to take over your room and your iPod, she's going to miss you like crazy.  And who's going to find Jesse's shoes?  And who's going to tease Gabriel like you do?  And who's going to play the guitar with Hazel Grace?  

And Daddy?  Well, let's just not go there.  I don't care how grown you may think you will get, you will always be his little girl...and don't you forget it.  

And so you can sigh, and you can roll your eyes and you can 'Moooommmm' me as much as you want.  I'm clinging to these last years that I have with you, and there's pretty much nothing you can do about it.



But that's because you are beautiful, you are talented, you are intelligent, and you, my dear, 

My Elizabeth, 

Flesh of my flesh and heart of my heart, 

You are loved.  

Happy birthday.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Little White Pill

Sunday of last week, as I sat in my Sunday school class and shared my fears and trepidation with the group gathered there, I found myself sitting with my hands on the table in front of me, fingers spread as if looking for balance and grounding there in the collective faith of those surrounding me.  Prayers were raised and testimonies were shared, but my world still rocked and swayed, and when I pulled my hands back into my lap, I noticed that they left behind sweaty streaks.

Earlier this week, I was doing better, but still nervous.  I was afraid of what would come, and afraid of how it would feel to be giving my daughter, my painfully beautiful and vibrantly intelligent daughter, daily medication.  Medication that would...what?  What would it do?  Would it dull her down?  Would it change her personality?  Would she be calmer, but at the same time then not be my vivacious, spirited little girl?

Am I doing the right thing????

But then, when it came time to meet with the psychiatrist to actually get a prescription, I felt calm and confident.  This was good, this was right, this WOULD be a solution, if not this dose, this medication today, then we try again tomorrow.

The little blueish square of paper bearing the script rode home with us in the front seat of honor, and as much as it tried to intimidate me, I wouldn't let it.  It kept looking at me, in all of its papery paleness, but even as I kept with its antics out of the corner of my eye, I was able to carry on a conversation with my girl, such as it was.  She was talking too loud, too fast and laughing too much to really participate in a 'conversation' but my 'Really?', 'Uh-uh', and 'Oh, my!' were for the most part properly placed in her ramblings.

And then we get to here:  This girl, this mom, this glass of water, and this little white pill

This prayer, this hope, this fear

This unknown.

Her brown eyes set in her already beautifully tanned faced framed by her soft brown curls looked up at me confidently and trustingly. She had an expectant half smile as she picked the little white pill out of my hand with slender fingers that end in chewed off nails.  She tipped the capsule into her mouth and washed it down with a glass of water, eyes on me the whole time.  Then she set the glass on the counter, met my eyes once more, and ran off to play.

That was it.

As much as I can boldly say, 'My daughter has been diagnosed with early-onset bipolar', and as much as I can know in my mind that something needs to be done both for her sake and for our sanity, I admit that my heart was still in denial.

But isn't admitting that there's a problem the first step in the right direction?  And so, pill bottle in hand, we timidly begin down this path,

A path that leads off into the great unknown, but a path that we know that we will not be walking alone.

Friday, March 27, 2015


I stand here, shamed-faced at the foot of the cross. My hands are empty.  I hold them up and look at them, turning them over to see the short-cut nails, the rough skin, the creased palms...the hands of a working woman, of a dish-washing-dinner-cooking wife, of a baby-rocking-clothing-feeding-bathing mama...

But them most notable thing about them, at least to me, is that they are empty.

I stand here, at the foot of the cross, with empty hands.  Completely empty.  I do not stand here with my children, I do not stand here with my husband, I stand here alone, with empty hands.

Because that's all I have.  Nothing.  There is no offering that I can give that's not already His.

The most valuable thing I have to offer, these children that I have, they're not really mine.  Not really.  They are on loan to me, entrusted to my care, but on loan to me, and here to fulfill the plan that God has for their life.

And my anger, while perhaps understandable, is not justifiable, and not righteous.  My anger, this anger that I felt at what I saw to be an injustice, was, in fact, a display of my lack of trust in God's plan for my children.

And I am convicted.

I know I have been talking about Beth Moore a lot, but this last lesson on Daniel really struck a lot of chords with me.  In one of the sessions, Beth talked about how there are some lessons that we don't want to have to learn the hard way.  Some lessons we should really just learn from someone else so that we don't have to do the suffering.  And for me, this is one of those.

I need to commit to memory, and seal away in my heart, never to be forgotten, this truth:

My life, and the lives of my children, are in God's hands.  He is in control, and I need to trust that.


How can I doubt God's grace?  Has He not saved me from myself?  Did he not keep His hand on Jesse when he swallowed the battery, had a seizure and developed a heart murmur?  Did He not keep Gabriel from being more badly hurt when he fell and needed stitches?  When he got bit by the dog?  Has He not watched over Elizabeth as she grows into a responsible young lady of whom any mother would be proud?  Has He not given us Jo, who is fearfully yet wonderfully made?

Did He not perform miracle after miracle over our sweet baby Hazel Grace?

And yet, I have the nerve to shake my fists at God and ask Him why?!  Even after God proves to me again and again that He is in charge and that He is in control, I continue to fight and struggle and attempt to lay claim to that which I think is mine,

But in the end, I always end up here,

At the foot of the cross

With empty hands.

And I am ashamed.

But the glory of empty hands is that when you finally let go of that which you should never have been holding on to in the first place, you are ready to receive the abundant blessings that God has in store for you,

And the glory of standing alone at the foot of the cross, in repentance, is that there is no buffer between you and the grace of God.

And, oh!  How that grace does flow!

Today it flowed in the form of the cardiologist telling us that the irregular reading of the EKG was not supported by the echo that they performed on Jo.  Her heart is perfect, each chamber its correct size, rhythmically performing its designed function.

Fearfully and wonderfully made.

So let me remember this.  Let this close-call scare sear its way into my heart so that I never have to hover over the edge of the fiery furnace again.  Let me have learned my lesson so that I don't have to go down this path again.

And let me wash myself in the waters of God's grace to get rid of any last smell of smoke that may be lingering.

And let me come up out of those waters not ashamed,

But with empty hands,

Lifted high.

Thank you, dear friends, for your prayers and support.  All is well with Jo and her heart.  There is no explanation for the irregular EKG reading, which was irregular once again today, but the echo showed a perfectly formed heart.  Hazel continues to get stronger every day.  She is home and back off the oxygen.  Her pneumonia is slowly clearing and her food tolerance is slowly coming back.  

God is good, all the time!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Smell of Smoke

The blood pounds in my ears.

My teeth are clenched.

I want to scream.

I want to throw something.

I want to break things just hear them shatter.

I want to pick a fight.  I want to make you mad at me so that I can isolate myself and nurse my pain.

I am tired and can't sleep.

I am angry, and have nowhere to direct my fury.

I drive too fast; I brake too hard.

My stomach churns and I want to vomit.

I haven't even gotten close to the fire, and I smell like smoke.

I bang the letters on the keyboard, forming words that will release me from this demon of fury, words that I know, in the end will wrap me back to where I belong, firm in my faith, pressing hard into His love and mercy.

But right now, I'm angry.

It was supposed to be routine.  It was supposed to be just a check to get a baseline before prescribing meds.  It was supposed to be an in-and-out, no big deal, five minute sort of thing.

But the little paper with the gash across the middle made a gash across my heart and made my world tilt at an crazy new angle.

The little lines on the paper were supposed to jog up and down in their jittery pattern uniformly across the page, but they don't.  There's one rogue line that slashes through the others and leaps out of the norm and almost off the top of the page itself.

The doctor shows me this paper and says off-handedly:

We got the results of the EKG back.  There's an irregularity.  You'll want to follow up with a cardiologist.  There's a thickening of the wall of the right side of her heart.  

I want to snatch the paper out of her hand, rip it up and throw it away.  What do you mean, lady!  There's nothing wrong with my child! You're WRONG!

I want to shout it at her, shake her, make her see it my way

But there's no point in shooting the messenger, so I calmly tuck the prescription for the follow-up exam in my handy dandy notebook, and force my feet to follow her footsteps out of her office and down the hall.  

What does this mean?

I don't know.

And part of me doesn't even want to know.  I want to keep my head in the sand and deny that this even exists.

But I can't.

As my youngest baby is upstairs coughing her way through her latest bought of pneumonia, this other child of mine, the curly haired girl who already struggles with a mood disregulation, is now stepping with me into the whole new world of cardiology.

And while her heart is the one that may be damaged,

my heart is the one that hurts.

I know from my latest Beth Moore study on the book of Daniel, that there are 3 ways to be delivered from this fire:

We can be delivered from the fire, i.e. we could find out it's nothing at all and the reading was wrong,

We can be delivered through the fire, i.e. we could find out it's something that we can manage and live with,


We can be delivered by the fire, which is a place a never want to think of going with my children.

I take a deep breath.  My heart rate slows, my blood pressure lowers, I stretch the cramps out of my fingers and I realize I've been biting my lip.

And as I stand here at the lip of the opening of the firey furnace, and I peer down into the flames, I hope and pray that we have the opportunity to just turn around and walk away from this.  I hope that the cardiologist will tell us it was all a mistake, that it all means nothing and that there are no worries.  But I know that if we are forced to make that leap into the opening of this scorching furnace, if we have to head down the path of diagnosis and treatment, we won't be the only ones walking through these flames.

I can't fight this, whatever this may be.  I can only turn the page on this new chapter in our lives, smooth the blank page,

and turn the pen over to God, and know that He will be beside us, all the way, whatever tomorrow may bring.

Monday, March 16, 2015

It's Monday!

Really, Hazel Grace? That innocent look on your face doesn't fool me!

But I must say that while of course I am glad the weather is nice enough to hang the diapers out, I am ECSTATIC that I now have 2 helpers to get it done!

And Hazel IS trying to help clean up...

Friday, March 6, 2015


Sweet baby,
Oh baby of mine
Of what do you dream
In your sleep so sublime?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Every Good and Perfect Gift

A friend of mine was telling a group of us about a friend of hers who was very blessed with material things.  She then went on to say that she was also blessed with two perfect and perfectly behaved children.

And this got me to stop and think:

If this woman is 'blessed' to have two 'perfect and perfectly behaved' children, then am I not blessed because my children are not all 'perfect' and 'perfectly behaved'?

Am I not blessed because I gave birth to two children with special needs?  Are we, then, as a family, not fortunate?  Not beloved?  Not chosen?

But James 1:17 states clearly:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father...who does not change like shifting shadows. (NIV)

Now, I am going to go out on a limb here and say, if every good and perfect gift comes from the Father, then I choose to believe that every gift from the Father is good and perfect.

We cannot dispute that fact that our children are gifts, and from where else do gifts such as these come except from the Father?

Which to me means, dear friends, that my children, with all of their struggles, are good and perfect, designed as they were intended to be designed, with life, beauty, and a purpose,

and so are yours.

This doesn't mean that every day will be a perfect day.

This doesn't mean that bad things won't happen.

This doesn't mean that they won't make bad decisions sometimes...a lot of times...seemingly always.

And it certainly doesn't mean that it will be easy.

But it does mean that we are blessed.

All of us, with our perfectly 'imperfect' children,

Are blessed,  most definitely


Friday, February 27, 2015

Oh, Happy Day!

I can't believe it's finally happened!  After 19 months of it, it's all gone!  All of our tanks, our puffing dragon of a oxygen condenser, the pulse-ox...all of it GONE!!!!!

No more tubes snaking through the house!  One fewer beep in the night!  No more tape on her chubby little cheeks!

Hazel Grace has been DC'ed from her supplemental oxygen!!!!!

Moses, our DME driver, came by this morning and picked it all up!  I was so excited!

Next to go: the feeding pump and IV pole!

Finding Focus

I walk laps back and forth past the coffee dispensers that are perpetually set up at Trader Joe's with my loads of crates of cheese and flat carts full of boxes product that need to be put on the shelf.

I glance at the clock.  It's only 6 PM, and I know that I will be here at least until midnight.  I'm running on little sleep because we've been working late, I haven't been able to get to sleep when I get home, and I've been getting up early to get people to where they need to be.  There's no two ways about it;  I'm tired.  I can almost hear the coffee calling out to me, but I turn a deaf ear and continue on my path

Because it's lent, and this year, I've given up coffee. 

Last year, it was sweets, but this year, with this job that keeps me up all night, I chose to give up coffee.  

But why?  

A group of women at our church are going through Beth Moore's Bible study on the book of Daniel called Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy (Lifeway Press, 2006).  In the study guide, Beth has been talking a lot about the fallacy of building ourselves up and directing the glory of our lives toward ourselves rather than the One who created us, and the dangerous temptation of pride.  She talks about how pride is a state of mind and how we can become as proud of our sacrifices as we are of our worldly goods and successes.  

In Day 1 of Week 4 in the study guide, Beth said that one day she was talking to a friend of hers and was embarrassed to admit that she had never participated in a certain 40 day fast that so many others had.  And her friend answered her and said that she had rarely seen anyone come from a 40 day fast who wasn't sooner or later proud of it.  

Ouch.  That hit home.  

Why am I giving up coffee?  

I guess the proper answer would be that I am withholding something from myself so that when I feel a craving or a desire for it, I remember the suffering of Christ and lean on Him through prayer to help me get through it.  And for many, that is exactly what they are doing.  And it works for them.  

But I think that the real truth for me in this is that I am not the one who's suffering!  I don't depend on coffee as an everyday thing to get me through, I just use the caffeine to get me over a hump when I know that I'm just too tired to really function well.  So, in reality, it would seem that it would be those around me who are suffering because I am being short or snippy with them because my eyes are burning from pure lack of sleep!  Otherwise, I only drink coffee because I enjoy it.  

And do I really have an ulterior motive?  I often give up coffee or sweets or whatever for a period of time just to do it to remind myself that I control what I put in my body, and to keep my system from becoming dependent on any one thing.  

So how is this bringing me closer to God?  

And how do I, as a mother of 5 who works full time at night, not come across as sounding smug when I say that I am giving up coffee in this Starbucks-driven society?  

So this year, I doing something different.  Instead of focusing on giving up, I am focusing on staying focused. 

I want to focus on Christ's walk to the cross.  I want to focus on sacrifice and giving.  I want to focus on loving the people that I love.  I want to focus on supporting my friends and showing compassion.  

And if that means sitting down across from my husband, holding his hand and telling him I love him over a cup of coffee, so be it.

And if that means taking stock of my burning red eyes in the mirror in the bathroom where I've run for a minute's peace, then marching myself to the kitchen to get a jolt of caffeine so I can be kinder to my children, so be it.  

And if that means sitting with you, my friend, at a banged up kitchen table commiserating over a steaming cup of joe so that you can feel supported, loved, and not quite so alone, so be it.  

But I will do it with focus.  It will be a conscious decision made with care, not just a paper cup of the stuff thrown back on my way into the backroom.  So yes, I am cutting back, but I'm not saying no altogether.  It will be planned and executed in a way that calls to mind Christ's walk to the cross, and His ultimate sacrifice so that I can keep the focus where it needs to be.  Not on my sacrifice, but on His.

His sacrifice that has given me life.  A life to live, and a life to enjoy

A life in which to mindfully enjoy my coffee.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Breathing Easy

I can still feel it, you know, a tinge, an itch, a tingle in my flesh in that spot where almost 19 months ago the doctor drew his scalpel across my abdomen to pull from my body the struggling form of our tiny daughter who had been nestled there under my heart for just 24 short weeks.

My body has healed, and I am well, and she has grown into a 17 pound cruising little girl,

but we both still bear the scars.

I, the scar of a pregnancy ended too soon, of a baby not held in my arms or to my breast for too long, of an infancy marked with doctors' appointments and g-tubes, nasal cannula and syringes instead of sweet smelling baby skin next to mine while cuddling on the couch.

And she, the almost 19 month old who is still learning to walk and doesn't talk, she carries scars of her own:  the fear of public sink and paper towel sounds, because that always meant someone was going to do something to her, the desire to sleep in her bed, not in my arms, because that's what she was used to for so long, and the small round hole that holds the tube that gives her nourishment.

But there is one scar, one trial, that can now begin to heal and fade.  One sound we can begin to forget and have it only brought back when we hear a similar puff-and-sigh rhythm somewhere else and we have to go through our memory files to remember what it is that noise reminds us of.  There is one set of tubing that we can give away, give back, give up, pass on...

And one large tank that hung across my back for so long weighing me down at the same time it gave my little girl on my chest life.

Friends, all of you out there who prayed over us and over our sweet baby Hazel Grace,

Dear, dear friends,

It is with great joy and utmost thankfulness that I tell you that Hazel Grace, our mirco-preemie, one pound seven ounce 24 weeker, has been discontinued off her oxygen!

Yes!  You heard right!  Hazel Grace is done with the cannula!  Done with the sighing condenser dragon that hangs out in our living room, and done with the oxygen tanks!  She is done with cannula taped to her face, and done with tubes dragging behind her!

I know that a lot of you have seen us around without her tubes and tanks, but it wasn't until she had passed a full month and a half plus gone through a cold without needing the supplemental oxygen that her pulmonologist officially took her off the oxygen.

And on Thursday, I think the sun will shine a bit brighter over our house, and our house will feel a little bit lighter because Moses, our oxygen delivery man, will come not to deliver, but to take away!

And what joy will  be mine in the giving!

Monday, February 23, 2015

What I Meant to Say Was...

I don't want to be a super-mom.

I never saw in the job description that I would have two special needs kids that completely blow out the window any parenting skills that I may have ever thought that I had.

I never signed on to train to practically be a nurse just so I could care for my baby.

I never read in the fine print that mental issues will take over your life and that of your whole family.  It was never explained to me that I would lose friends and push away family merely by giving birth to a child who has a mood disregulation.

I never thought to study pharmacology just so I could pronounce the names of the contents of my refrigerator and cabinet.

It didn't occur to me to set up a nursery with a special place for oxygen tanks and a plethora of syringes and tubes.

I didn't choose to have The Bipolar Child as my nightly read because it has a nice cover.

It never crossed my mind that I would learn to drive in DC by force because I would need to make the trek in and out of the city multiple times a month, sometimes more than once a week, with my baby in tow because she has more specialists than a cat has fleas.

But here we are.  And this is what I do.  And this is who I am.

And I am no more of a super-mom than you are.

You, whose husband is in the military.

You, whose son is far far away.

You, who is starting working again for the first time and leaving your tiny baby at home.

You, who tries to work at home while the kids tangle in the background.

You, who struggles with too much on her plate, but not wanting to say no to anyone.

You, whose mother is sick.

You, who is in school and handles your kids on your own.

All of you out there. All of you mothers and women and caretakers and givers,

I am no more of a super-mom than you are.

And I don't want that title, anyway.  It's too much to live up to, too much to be.

I just want to be me:  a wife, a mother,

And a friend.

Your friend.

I want to sit across the table from you, leaning on my elbows while sipping a cup of coffee, and listen to you.  I want listen, and I want to affirm what you are doing, because you are doing a great work.

And then I want you to listen to me, too.  And all I want is for you to affirm what I am doing, too, and tell me that I, too, am doing a great work.  I am not asking for answers, a solution, or really even understanding, just empathy, and a bit of affirmation, that's all.

And so, ladies of the Monday morning Women's Bible study, if you are reading this, this is what I meant to say:

By God's grace, I have the power to get up in the morning, and by God's grace, I have the energy to deal with the day presented before me.  I am not a super-mom, but I serve a Super-God, and I am glad to be here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Big Room Switch-a-Roo!

It snowed here last night.  I love the snow.  I love the peace that it seems to bring on our house and our family.  Even though we are kind of stuck inside, the quiet white outside seems to calm the kids, and energize me.

Which is great because I have not had much energy lately.

A lot has been happening around here.  To make a long story short, here's some of what's going on:

Elizabeth started classes at NOVA, our local community college, in the fall as a dual enrolled junior in home school high school/freshman in college.  But being dual enrolled means that she can't apply for financial aid, and she is limited on the number of credits she can take a semester.  She did so well on the placement tests, and tested into the highest levels of all the subjects covered, that we decided to graduated her now from high school so that she can take a full load of classes at NOVA and also apply for tuition assistance.  That means that she can graduate from NOVA next spring with an associates, and then go on to a 4 year university, entering as a junior, to finish her degree.

Hazel is doing really well.  She is still very delayed, but she is progressing on her own chart, on her own time.  She has been almost a month off the oxygen, and has even gone through having a cold without having to hook back up to it!  Her big hurdle now is gaining weight and growing.  She is almost 19 months old, and hovering just around 17 pounds.  She's tiny, but with a HUGE personality!  She pulls up and cruises, and crawls super fast all over the house, giggling when she knows she's getting into something that she's not supposed to.  She has been evaluated for in home occupational and physical therapy, and has been approved for a special needs program at the local public school when she turns 2, which means she could start in September.  If we choose to go that route, she will get her PT and OT there, but not here at the house anymore.  If we choose to not send her there, then PT and OT will continue to come here, but mostly to train us (meaning me) how to work with her and then we have to do it on our own.  And as much as I can't imagine sending a 2 year old Hazel off to school on a big yellow bus, I'm not sure that with everything else going on here, I will be able to keep up with her exercises and what she needs to continue to improve.  I guess between now and then we will have a chance to see how it goes with PT and OT coming here to train me, and go from there.

We have decided to do some major moves in the house.  The final layout will be that Jesse and Gabriel will be downstairs into the big bedroom, Elizabeth is moving up into their room, which is really her old room, and Jo has moved into the tiny room that Elizabeth occupied most recently.  Hazel is still with Jimmy and me in our room.  We hope that this will help some of the issues we have been having with keeping things neat and organized, since most of the issue was in Jo's room with it being so big.  It's been kind of a dumping ground for toys when the kids play, and the boys' clothes were in there, too, so it's been sensory overload for her.  When we moved Jo into the smaller room, all she took with her was her bed, her dresser and her desk.  We hope that minimizing what's in her room will also help to minimize her stress levels.  So far, we have moved all of Elizabeth's stuff out of her room and into the living room and Jo's old room, and we have moved Jo into Elizabeth's room.  So, as I am sure you can imagine, everything is pretty much a huge disaster at the moment, but I am hopeful that it will soon be sorted out.

(Note that I said *hopeful*.)

There are other things that are going on here, and some other stuff possibly brewing in the future, but for now, my toes and fingers are freezing, so I say goodbye for now, and I hope to be back on here much more regularly.  I know I seem to do so much better when I write!