SAL-VA-TION: by grace
E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006
HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990
DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe
GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010
FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Thursday 6 February 2014

Gabe update

I know I just posted a video of Gabe playing basketball, and it tells a wonderful story about where he's at, but it's been a LONG time since I posted a real update on how our boy is doing.

We are thrilled that Gabe's health has been improving over the past 2 years. He still tends to catch viruses easier than most and is a bit sicker than most, but he's stayed out of the hospital. In fact, we haven't had to visit a doctor for anything other than an annual check-up in the past 2 years. The last virus Gabe caught was in late December when he got a stomach/vomiting bug. He was only sick 5 or 6 times. The last three times (going back several years) that Gabe had the stomach bug he threw up every half hour for at least 12 hours. It was actually a great encouragement to see him kick it so much quicker this time.

Gross motor skills still tend to be his strong suit (check out the video!). He can run, jump, climb, skip, dribble, and hop right along with the other kids his age. In many of these areas he exceeds the expected level of a 7-year-old.

Just today, the leader of our homeschool sports club was telling me how amazed they are at the change in Gabe's communication skills from last year to now. Not only can the coaches understand what he's saying, but the kids can too. Gabe has always loved to talk, he's just been difficult to understand. He has work to do. He struggles with the sounds that are made with the tongue in the back of the mouth--j, ch, and r.

Not only is his functional speech improving, but the content of his communication is advancing. He has always had a hard time communicating about a past event (even if it happened today). He seems to have a hard time absorbing a past-tense question, "What happened? What did you do? Where did you go? Who did you see?", as an understandable concept. Last night at supper I asked him to tell Daddy where he went during the day. After rephrasing it as, "Who did you see?" he blurted out, "I go to the Fosters, play with Alex, watch baby animals."

Gabe's greatest challenge has come in the area of fine motor skills. His fingers lack dexterity and their clumsiness frustrates him. We are working on self-dressing. We've been working on it for three years. We take itty bitty baby steps. We began with me laying the shirt or pants in front of him and then holding his hands and assisting him putting them on. I keep trying to draw back my involvement and today, for the first time, Gabe went to his drawer, found a pair of pants, and put them on with no physical intervention! (Yes, I gave some verbal instructions.) It was the first time his, "I did it all by myself!" was completely true.

Gabe is still homeschooled. He is learning to read. He knows all of his letters and sounds, has an arsenal of about 100 sight words and is able to phonetically sound out all first level words. He can count to 30 and with a little help get to 100. He's working on counting by 2s and 5s and finding a number on a number line. I just never thought about the fact that comprehending that 23 comes after 15 and before 40 might have to be learned and not just 'figured out'. It has been a fun challenge to find the games and methods that help him catch on to things like that. It makes me appreciate how complex our brains really are!

As we all know, who we are involves considerably more than how your muscles work and what you're doing in school. Gabe has a great imagination, sense of comedy, strong perseverance, and is very empathetic. He loves to go places but always wants to get back home. He loves loves loves his nieces and nephews. He's learned to be shy when he feels under pressure in the spotlight and he'll fidget with his glasses. He knows when he wants to be a ham on stage and when he absolutely does not! He knows how to push the buttons of older siblings or caregivers as he tests them to see how much he can get away with.

I used to call Gabe a tornado on legs. He's definitely calmed down and I'm finally not on high alert at all times. I'll still have to watch the doors in the summer, but every season, every year brings constant change and advancement. It's strange to remember that there was a time he wasn't a part of our lives. I almost can't comprehend what that was like. But, I'm enjoying the growing up changes and I'm still enjoying how slowly he takes it. Well, most of it, I will be very happy to see him independently taking care of all his personal needs! Like everything else, it'll come with time.

Monday 27 January 2014

Basketball Season

Shane is playing in his first season as a Beaver for Bemidji State and Owen and Lisa are bringing home ribbons from their own traveling team tournaments. Gabe is an attentive spectator who's preparing for his own day "on court".

Friday 24 January 2014

Happy 21st Troy

"9 lbs, 6 ounces, 22 inches long, 5:03 am on January 24, 1993" were very important statistics 21 years ago. Our 6th child, our 4th son, was born.

There was a time that we weren't sure our hope for this child would be realized. During the 30th week of my pregnancy, while driving home from a family trip to Louisiana, we hit a patch of black ice and slammed into a tree at about 45 mph. My seat-belt's shoulder harness failed to lock, my head hit my knee (my feet were up on the dash), the bolts on all of the van seats were stripped and I was thrown to the floor, and was briefly knocked unconscious. I came to with a practical understanding of what it means to "see stars", only it was more like a band of old time television static that wiped out a horizontal strip of about 1/3 of my vision. My water broke and the baby wasn't moving. Throughout the ambulance ride the EMT kept asking, "Do you feeling anything now?" And I kept replying, "No, but this baby doesn't move much." You'd think they'd carry a stethoscope in an ambulance. But they didn't. She stayed with me in the emergency room and cried when the fetal monitor picked up a strong heartbeat from a sleeping baby.

We chose his middle name that week--Jonathan, gift of God. His life itself was a gift, his preservation through the accident was a gift, and the closing of the bag of waters and full term delivery was a gift. The name Troy wasn't as meaningful. A week before his birth we still hadn't picked out a first name, and while watching a playoff football game the name "Troy Aikman" came up on the screen. Keith said, "Hey, we've never thought of using 'Troy'." It met our three criteria--fewer than three syllables, relatively uncommon, not so uncommon that people have never heard of it. A week later we still weren't opposed to it and hadn't found anything else we preferred, so Troy it was.

Not only is Troy our 4th son, but his father and grandfather are each the 4th son in their families making Troy "the 4th son of the 4th son of the 4th son".

Happy Birthday Troy-boy! May your life and spirit reflect the One who preserved you even before you were born.

Romans 12:1-2 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

I love you!!

Wednesday 22 January 2014

A Different Kind of Grocery Store Kid

Yesterday, I took Gabe to a small, local grocery store that he had never been in. He loves to be a helper and called out, "Come on Mom!" and "Let's get started!" as we entered the store. He was excitedly moving me through the aisles, putting my items in the cart, and pointing out things we had to get. It was all pretty cute.

We went through the produce section and picked the things we needed and I headed up another aisle while he lingered. He hollered after me,
"Mom, can we get some broccoli?!"
I replied,
"No Gabe, we already have broccoli at home."
He gave an unhappy grunt, "Uhhh", and then ran to join me, delighted to find something else to put in the cart.

A stunned shopped looked at him with her jaw open and asked, "How do you get him to do that?"

I wasn't sure if she meant 'ask for broccoli' or 'take no for an answer'. Either way, it is refreshing for people to be able to see Gabe act in a non-typical way that is positive and shows what a joy a child with Down syndrome can be!

Friday 10 January 2014

High School Musical

I decided to begin the year and the return to the blog with a bang. I doubt anyone will watch the entire production that I'm posting here, but I want to make it available to the few devoted family fans (grandparents, devoted aunts, etc) who enjoy watching the productions of their loved ones but live too far away to make it to these events. Others may click on the video out of curiosity and enjoy a few minutes of it.

So, what is it? The RHS/NCSS Drama production of Pirates of Penzance. Bryce had one of the lead roles and played an innocent, duty-bound young man named Frederic who was mistakenly apprenticed to a band of unconventional pirates. I had heard of this Gilbert and Sullivan musical before but hadn't seen it. I ended up watching the entire production 5 or 6 times and it took 4 for me to fully understand the story and nuances of the characters. Most of that is owed to it being written and produced in England almost 140 years ago.

Bryce was interviewed on a local radio station the week that it played and when asked why he hadn't been in the drama program before this, his junior, year he replied, "Because my mom never made me try out before." He went on to explain that I didn't actually "make him" try out, but I did give him a big dose of encouragement. He loved every minute of it. It's the first time I've seen Bryce not only enjoy what he was doing, but enjoy the practicing of it as well! I don't think we realize how important that is in understanding our children's interests. They may enjoy playing on a baseball team or playing a game, but we know they love the game for the sake of the game when they create their own imaginary teams and series and play the whole thing out by them selves with a ball and a concrete wall. Bryce enjoyed the singing and the drama from beginning to end and I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with the villian "James" in their upcoming Sherlock Holmes play.

As to the videos: Just a warning, the first few minutes are a bit slow, and Bryce's favorite scenes come in the first 10 minutes of Part 2.

Final note: If you really have an interest in setting aside an hour and so and watching the entire production it helps to have a bit of knowledge of the story. Frederic (Bryce) was mistakenly apprenticed to the Pirates of Penzance when his nursery-maid, Ruth, misunderstood her employers instructions to indenture him to a ship's "Pilot". The Pirates of Penzance, however, are not typical pirates (as noted in the opening song, "Raise the Pirate Sherry"--sherry was a wealthy man's drink, informing the audience that these were gentlemen and not the rum-drinking sort). They prove to be failures as pirates for, although they have a frustration with 'civil life', they can not completely abandon civility.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Monday 23 September 2013

Blogging Again?

I stopped blogging almost a year ago due to frustration with the site and a need on my part to devote more time to the needs of my family. Gabe coming home to be schooled full-time was just that--a FULL TIME job.

I really needed the time away to concentrate on Gabe and the home. Blogging doesn't have to take a lot of time, but with the problems I was having with the site it took more time than I had to give. However, I've really missed it. Having a son in college is also making me think about getting back to it, if only to keep him informed and entertained with stories from home.

So, I'm kind of experimenting with this post to see what it looks like. I tried setting up a new site but just didn't have the savvy to figure out how to transfer this blog to that site. So, we'll see what happens....

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Blogger frustration

I am officially fed up with this blogger site. I am not working well with the new format. It doesn't like paragraphs and I do. I'm afraid we are approaching irreconsilable differences. Does anyone have a suggestion for a new home for my blog?