Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Brinkley on the shelf final edition

The nurse gave me a full box.  Surely she intended for me to use the whole thing.

In an effort to score some Christmas cookies, the elf decided to impersonate Santa

The Santa disguise didn't work, so the elf decided to try his hand at making his own Christmas cookies
His attempts at making Christmas cookies failed, so he's back to the Santa disguise.  He located the beloved cookies, and is hard at work trying to open them.

Caught red handed!  He opted for the Santa suit since the Santa beard didn't seem to be working.  He just didn't anticipate getting caught stealing Santa's cookies.

Brinkley on the shelf part 3

After getting called into the office and taking a sick day, Santa decided to let Brinkley have a day to rest.

The elf found mom's candy stash and helped himself

Little known fact: an elf's heart can be monitored from his tounge

Nurse Clarissa filled that IV with a super dose of mischief before discharging the elf from the hospital

While Reese is away the elf will play, with his art supplies that is

The elf is taking advantage of every moment that Reese is away.  Reese's bed is the perfect place for a power nap.

Brinkley on the shelf Part 2

"I'm sorry teacher.  The elf ate my homework."- Reese

A little elfie selfie

Someone got called into Santa's office to discuss his mischief

The elf took over the remote and now it's all Mickey all the time

Maybe this is what happens to all those missing socks

Even Santa's cutest elves need a sick day sometimes

A look back at #brinkleyontheshelf part 1

Here are the first few days of Brinkley on the shelf

CPAP providing sleep to elves everywhere.

Reading "The Night Before Christmas"

Getting a little impatient waiting on his turn for a bath

Giving Reese a little surprise during his shower

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Brinkley on the shelf

If you have had any human contact over the last few Christmases, I'm sure you have seen The Elf On The Shelf.  They are everywhere and parents spend crazy amounts of time planning what to do with these elves.  Personally, I haven't read the book and don't know the whole back story on the elf.  All I know is I have avoided the phenomenon like the plaque.  There are several reasons for that, but the main one is that I don't have the time or energy to join in the showdown.  What showdown you ask?  The endless one upping that families do to see whose elf is the funniest, cleverest, or naughtiest. 

Every year I buy my kids new Christmas pajamas.  Near the end of the season last year, Brinkley was playing in his pajamas and found a hat in our costume box.  He put the hat on and it hit me!  I don't need a toy elf that I have to cook up mischief for, I've got the real deal!   If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you have probably seen my #brinkleywashere collection and know that he can find plenty of mischief on his own.  Looking at him in those elf PJ's and elf like hat brought it all together. 

We hope you will join us on this journey as we venture through the Christmas season with......

Brinkley On The Shelf

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Little Holiday Help

Gift giving season is quickly approaching and you may be wondering which gifts would be appropriate for the children in your life with special needs.  Here's a few lists that may help you make those decisions:

This list is specifically for infants and young toddlers.  These gifts would be great for any baby, but especially help to reinforce skills that children would be working on in therapy sessions.  Six Developmental Toys for the First Toy Box

The Best Toys for Kids With Down Syndrome: This list has suggestions for a variety of ages and all would work well with skills our children are working on in therapy.  

Items in this list would be appropriate for many ages and different ability levels:  10 Toys Great fro Kids with Special Needs

Of course, you can always check out these go to sites/guides when looking for gifts for kids with different abilities:

Toys R Us Differently-Abled Guide

Melissa & Doug

Happy Shopping!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Join Us For Buddy Walk 2015

It's Buddy Walk time again!  This year promises to be the best year yet since this will be the first time Brinkley will be walking independently!  You know that you want to join him and be there to see him triumphantly cross the finish line.  Don't worry, I've got all the details you need to make that happen.  Here's the link to the Team Brinkley page where everything is laid out for you!  Head on over there and order your shirt today and register for the Buddy Walks.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

We meet again...

Chair bed, my old friend, we meet again.  It's been a long time, 331 days to be exact.  I can't say that I've missed you.  I'm sorry, but it's true.  Though I love your lovely shade of purple, I would much prefer my bed (a real bed) and a well baby.  Let's make this reunion a short one.  You know what they say...absence makes the great grow fonder.  I need to appreciate you a whole lot more so let's make this next break a really long one. 

The Mommy On A Mission

Brinkley had to be admitted to the hospital today. We were so close to one year free of sick admissions (September 23rd).   This morning a round of respiratory crud hit him hard and fast.  He quickly started struggling to breathe normally and his body temperature shot up just as quickly.  All of this happened during his therapy sessions.  We left and headed straight to the pediatrician.  She then sent us to the ER.  After getting a breathing treatment and a chest xray, the ER doctor decided to admit us.  He may have a touch of pneumonia and they want to observe him overnight as a precaution.  We're praying for a short stay and a decent nights sleep.   

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

2nd Grade Confession

It's the first day of school for Reese today.  2nd grade here we come!  This was our obligatory picture to document the occasion: 

Looks great, right?!  He's happy and we're a wonderful family bopping out the door for a great first day at school.  That is what the majority of the photos you will see look like.  Let's be real though.  This is what our morning actually looked like: 

There was a lot of yelling, rushing, and frustration moving through this house.  At this moment, he was saying something rude and disrespectful to me.  That's pretty typical for mornings and evenings in this house.  Honestly, most mornings feel like a war zone and the enemy we're battling is ADHD and anxiety.  Unfortunately, we sometimes forget that and turn our frustration on each other instead of the problem.  No family is perfect and don't let all the staged perfect photos fool you into thinking that your family is the only one with struggles.  Your struggles may be different, but we all have them.  We all need a little grace to make it through the battles.  

My prayer and intention every day is to make it through the morning with everyone knowing they are loved and feeling that love, not the frustration of the morning's battle.  I pray that we can find the plan or system that will help cut the frustration and tension level in our home.  I pray that my boys would know that above all they have a Heavenly Father that loves them despite their quirks (He gave them those quirks) and despite the fact that I don't always reflect that love very well.  I pray that I would be the mom these boys need and that I would trust the Lord to equip me with what I need to do that and that he would convict my heart when I contribute to the chaos and frustration.  

Here's to praying for a great school year for both boys (Brinkley starts in three weeks) and for the teachers and staff that get the results of our train wrecks every morning.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

It's A Hard Knock Life

This summer Reese and I have been having a family movie night every week.  So far we have watched The Lego Movie, Big Hero 6, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, and tonight we watched the new Annie.  We typically have our movie night on a night that Bryan isn't h ome.  Tonight was no exception, and Bryan would be glad. (He isn't much of a musical kind of guy.)  Thankfully, I am raising Reese right and he can appreciate a good song and dance in his movies and stage productions.  

As we stood in the movie section of the grocery store today I gave Reese three options of movies.  He looked at each one of the boxes, did eeny meeny miney moe, and then clarified "this one has signing?" before choosing Annie.  Secretly, I was really hoping he would pick it as this was one of my favorites as a kid and I have been wanting to see the new version.  I also thought it would be interesting to see his reaction to her being a foster child.   

We became Reese's foster parents when he was six months old and it took us nearly three years to work through the process of adopting him.  We have always talked about adoption with him and made sure that he understands the concept.  He knows that he is adopted and occasionally asks questions about his adoption.  He has two buddies that are also adopted and the same age as him.  He has always been around other adopted kids and their families are open with them as well. 

We have tried so hard to make sure that adoption is a natural and normal part of life for him.  I didn't realize just how normal until he started making comments during the movie. At one point, he started talking about his friend Cadence and asking when she was adopted.  Cadence isn't adopted and it was that moment that I realized that adoption is so normal to him that he thinks everyone is adopted.  I explained to him that Cadence, like Brinkley, isn't adopted. 

When he was taking his shower he started talking about Annie's sisters (the other foster children in the home).  He mentioned the differences in their hair color.  It never occurred to him that those girls weren't actually sisters.  Our family is diverse and again, in his mind every family is that way.  

He asked some questions about foster care and obviously didn't understand the idea.  We talked about it, but I am not convinced that he understood.  I told him about the foster family that he lived with and that we would like to foster children one day.  One negative thing that he took away from the movie was the thought that people "steal" foster kids.  If you are familiar with the plot of the movie you know that at one point a couple claiming to be the birth parents enter the scene and Annie leaves with them.  He took this to mean that all foster kids get stolen and have to be rescued.  

Needless to say, we had some interesting conversation following the movie and I am sure there will be more to come.  The best part of the evening was him asking if we could have another movie night this week and watch the version that I saw when I was a little girl.  Of course we can!  Stay tuned to Annie, take two.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Let's get messy

Ministry is messy.  People's lives are messy and when you build relationships with them you often have to walk through their mess.  The mess makes it easy to get jaded and burned out.  We have walked with teens and families through many losses and changes in life.  Many of those experiences have forever changed us and those families.  We often cry and lose sleep over the issues that are facing those we serve.  Sometimes it is hard to see past the hurt of those we serve.  It can also be hard to see past the pity parties and complaints that we are subjected to.  Many times you want to throw your hands up, walk away, and hide.  If you serve in ministry and you haven't felt this way you are either brand new and haven't gotten there yet or you are lying to yourself.  (Yes, I just made that bold statement.  Yes, I wholeheartedly believe that.)

Right now, however, is another season for me.  It's been one of those where the Lord reminds me over and over again of the sweet privilege of being a part of peoples' lives. He's reminding me of the rewards of being faithful to not give up when it gets messy. That is not to say that things are drama free (is ministry ever drama free?), it's just that I'm being open to seeing the blessings in it all.  

Earlier this month I attended an incredible wedding.  As the wife of a former youth pastor, we are often invited to or asked to participate in weddings of former students. Usually, we are close to either the bride or the groom.  One or the other was a part of our ministry and we may not have met the spouse until wedding prep began. 
Snagged from Ashely's Facebook page

 Aaron and Ashley, were different though.  Aaron had been in our ministry since middle school and Ashley joined the group when she was in high school. They met in the youth group, summer beach camp to be exact.  We watched their relationship grow and bloom over the years and were more than thrilled when we got a call from Aaron last summer. He told Bryan that he was planning to propose and wanted to make sure that Bryan would be available to perform the service.  A few days later, their engagement video went viral.  You can watch it here.

Both Aaron and Ashley were very involved in the youth group and we were able to spend a lot of time with them over the years.  I couldn't help but cry as I watched Ashley walk down the aisle.  It felt like my own children were getting married.  There was something extra special about the night.  It was perfectly them.  Some of the tears came from the realization that it is such a privilege to be a part of these kids lives.  

I wish I could adequately express what was going on in my heart and mind as I sat there.  I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for being able to be a part of their lives.  Not only their lives but the lives of their families and of many of the other guests.  We had a youth group reunion outside the reception space.  

This picture represents hours spent in an urgent care office for bones broken at camp, tears over family problems, parents with serious legal issues and jail time, and struggles to finish high school to name a few.  I can't help but cry and smile as I look at that picture because it not only represents those issues I just listed, but it also represents three young men that are serving in ministry positions, youth and children's ministry volunteers, and former ministry leaders.  

Today was another one of those moments.  About three years ago a family walked into our church for the first time.  As we were talking to them we learned that their two youngest boys were foster children.  Over the next months and year we got to know them and their story.  Two years ago I had the privilege of sitting in the courtroom the day a judge made them a forever family.  Adoption and foster care are messy.  We've walked that road ourselves.  An adoption certificate doesn't make it any less messy.  Every day there are struggles as our kids have come from hard places.  Today marked another milestone for their family and another privilege for me.  I wasn't sitting today, but standing on the bank of the lake watching those two boys be baptized. Again, I was in tears thinking about how special the moment was and how lucky I was to be beside them.  

What I've realized over the last few weeks is that ministry is messy, but it is also a huge honor and privilege. Who else gets to be a part of so many pieces of people's lives? Embrace the mess and wade through it!  It's in the mess that you earn the privilege of sharing in the celebration.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Here's where we stand

It's been a long time coming, but I've got great things to report about my boys.  

Let's start with Reese.  

First off, I covet your prayers as we have ventured into unknown territory.  This week Reese will start seeing a new developmental/behavioral specialist and in June we will be adding another doctor to the mix.  Our hope is that the additional doctor will help manage his anxiety and OCD, as well as, help us determine if he also has a learning disability.  

He will finish first grade next week and has done really well with Math, Science, Social Studies, and Related Arts.  Reading and Writing are tougher for him, but he has made great progress in reading.  He has made other improvements at school with the help and encouragement of his teacher (Mrs. Wigington), his guidance counselor (Ms. Lee), and his assistant principal (Mr. E).  They have gone above and beyond with him and he loves school.  Today he met his new teacher and classmates for second grade.  We will start praying now as she has big shoes to fill!  Reese LOVES Mrs. Wigington, and I think the feeling is mutual.  No, I know it is!  She has been such a blessing to him and us.  

This winter he played basketball in the local rec league.  His 6 & under team included several children that he goes to school with.  They were the league champions!  In April, he started archery lessons and he is doing VERY well.  His instructor has been great with him and he loves the lessons.  This summer we are looking into karate as well.  

Now for Brinkley

This kid never ceases to amaze me.  We've had a few ear infections and sinus and allergy issues lately, but otherwise his health is great!  Thank the Lord for ear and sinus infections.   I know that sounds crazy, but to me these are typical kid problems and I love him being a typical kid!  Overall, Brinkley is a healthy little guy!  We're seeing Endocrinology every four months with the plan being to take him off the thyroid meds for a trial period in the next couple of years.  For now his thyroid is well managed.  Since we continue to be free from any neurological problems, neurology is only seeing us twice a year.  Developmental Peds and Genetics only need to see us once a year.  Due to the severity of his sleep apnea, we continue to see sleep medicine every three to four months.  

Brinkley's eye doctor only needs to see him once a year.  We continue to see the ENT every three to four months to keep a check on the tube in one ear and to determine when we can attempt to put a tube in the other ear.  The GI is seeing us twice a year, as is the nutritionist.  Last week we saw Dr. Raunikar, our cardiologist, and got the best news yet.  We only have to see him once a year now.  The cardiologist that manages his pacemaker has also given us clearance to only see her once a year.  We send electronic transmissions every three months.  As of last week, we still have three years of battery left on his pacemaker.  

As for therapy, Brinkley is consistently walking with his walker.  After months (literally 4-6 months) of fighting insurance to get him a walker of his own, we finally got it last week.  He is making a lot of progress with his speech and his vocabulary is growing every day.  Occupational therapy is also going well.  We were able to get his braces cut down this month, so now they only come up to his ankles.  

Our biggest surprise has been that he has grown 1 inch and nearly 3 pounds in the last 5 weeks!  (He's up to 23 pounds and 30 inches.)   This is HUGE!  It generally takes months for him to gain a pound. He just may make the growth chart by his birthday.  Speaking of his birthday, next week we will meet with the preschool staff at Reese's school to officially prepare for Brinkley to enroll in the K3 program in the fall.  WHAT!!!  It's hard to imagine my tiny little guy going to school. He's ready though.  He loves playing with other kids and he enjoys sitting down and working on projects like coloring, drawing, cutting, and gluing.    

As you can see, we are doing well and appreciate your continued prayers and support!  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Polar Dipper

As a parent, some days are exhausting.  Some days are great, some ok, and some make you want to throw your hands up and crawl back in bed.  Today was a day that made me proud.  

This morning we were up bright and early.  It was team picture day for basketball and we were scheduled to arrive by 7:50 am.   I got Reese outfitted in his uniform and packed up some layers for our adventure that was to follow the game.  

After a great win (28-8), we jumped in the car and headed to the marina at our local lake.  I explained to Reese that we were going to a fundraiser where people would be jumping in the lake.  He wanted to know what they were raising money for so I explained. The goal of the plunge was to raise money for Pennies 4 Preemies to help them support the Children's Miracle Network and local families of preemies and/or children with special needs.  

After telling Reese that people were raising money to help little babies like Brinkley, he asked if he could give money.  Recently he lost his first tooth and he has managed to rack up some money from the tooth fairy and various family members.  My cousin was jumping as a representative of the restaurant that he manages (a sponsor of the event).  I told Reese that he could give Dustin his money and it would go to help the babies.  

When we arrived and saw Dustin, Reese took four quarters out and gave it to Dustin.  Dustin turned the money in and I thought that would be the end of it.  A little later Reese pulled out the treasure box he was keeping his money in and pulled out his five dollar bill and more quarters.  He wanted to give this to the babies also.  This time he accompanied Dustin to the station to turn his money in.  I was nearly in tears as he has been fiercely guarding this money.  

Moments like this are the ones that make me forget about the headaches, messes, hair pulling, and general frustration.  These are the moments where I stop and think maybe I'm not a total parenting failure.  Something is getting through to him and he is listening.  I'm not so sure that it is always me that he is listening too, but I am pretty sure that he is listening to the little stirrings the Lord puts in his heart.  

As if that weren't enough, he went to the Krispy Kreme station and paid for several donuts and only took one.  He wanted the lady to give them to someone else.  (Granted, he's not allowed to eat donuts and I had no idea he had done this until I caught him with the doughnut in his mouth.)  

Before we left he visited the mobile boutique that was on site and told the owner that he wanted to buy me a necklace.  He picked one out and paid the lady for it.   By this time he only had a couple of dollars left, but the lady thought he was so sweet that she gave it to him for two dollars.  

Is this kid really six years old?  Some days he seems like the oldest little soul.  What a gift he is!  Days like this help me get through the ones where I feel like a total failure.

As a side note, Reese decided that he wanted to take the plunge with Dustin.  After some time to think about it he decided to take a dip instead.  He "pushed" Dustin in and then he went down the ladder until he was waist deep.  That was enough!  After his dip he played in the dirt on the shore for quite a while and got NASTY.  He looked up and me a little higher up the bank and said, "Mommy, this is the best day ever!"  

I love my little polar dipper!