Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ECI 2 Year

Today was Matthew's 2 year developmental evaluation for early childhood intervention services.  Not a surprise, Matthew is delayed.  But with his recent developmental explosion, he's not as delayed as he would have been just a month ago.  

All told, Matthew is about 8 months behind.  That's a 35% delay, which is good compared to the 50% (6 months) he was behind at 1 year.  He's actually made great strides in language.  For receptive language (what he understands), he's on level-- appropriate for his chronological age!  He understands everything an almost 2 year old would understand.  

But his expressive language (what he says) is still greatly lagging (35% delayed- even with the onslaught of new sounds and signs of late), as are his gross and fine motor skills (52% and 48% delayed). His social and cognitive skills are just slightly delayed (22% delayed).  Overall, nothing too surprising to us.

The good news is both his therapists guessed that in this year, Matthew may be able to make up ground, and then may potentially not even qualify for PPCD (preschool program for children with disabilities) when he's 3 years old.  I'm thankful that programs like PPCD exist, and Matthew will utilize it if he needs it, but I am excited about the idea that maybe, just maybe, he won't need it!  I can dream about a year from now, when Matthew can walk independently, and talk... and maybe be mainstreamed into a preschool program! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Enjoy the Ride

A few of my friends recently linked to a blog post entitled "Don't Carpe Diem", which is addressing the unsolicited advice of "Enjoy every moment. This time goes by so fast.".  I really liked the article.  I totally agree that parenting is hard work.  And I liked the author's metaphor of raising children being like mountain climbing...a tough but rewarding endeavor. 

What struck me about this article wasn't exactly the content, but how it relates to my life.  I never get unsolicited advice.  I wonder why that is.  Do I not look like someone who would be accepting of unsolicited advice?  Do I look too crazed to appreciate it?  Or do they see Matthew, realize that he's unique and not say a word?

Even as Matthew's journey has keyed us in to be more appreciative of the every day, and the gifts we have been given, I'm not beyond needing the occasional reminder.  Recently Darren and I have been lamenting about the fact that parenting is initially physically exhausting (feeding, wakings, diapering, bathing, etc) and then it starts to transition to mentally exhausting (dealing w/emotions, preparing them to be productive members of society, etc). We are learning this is a continuum.  Matthew is still primarily on the physical end, Jackson being somewhere in between, and Alyssa being more on the mental end. 

When I do take those moments to reflect--I'm awed by the neat beings that call me "mommy".  Alyssa is a sweet, confident, and secure young girl.  Jackson is an affectionate, funny, and cautious little boy.  Matthew is a strong, sweet, and active baby.  And just as I'm awed, I also can be frustrated more than I ever thought possible by Alyssa's sassiness, Jackson's mismangement of his emotions, and Matthew's revolting against anything he doesn't want to do.  Every day isn't rainbows and sunshine, but I know the journey is beautiful.  So maybe my slogan isn't "carpe diem" but is "enjoy the ride".

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Car Show 2012

We go to the Houston car show every year, and it is a nice time to reflect back how much our lives have changed over the years.

Year 1- Darren and I had just started dating. He went to the car show with friends and took pictures of the highlights to show me later as I was staffed in Brazil.
Year 2- We were dating and were looking at the fun, dream cars--the Mini Coopers, the BMWs, etc.
Year 3- We had just gotten married, and came in from Austin for the show.  We were in the market for a 'family' vehicle as we knew we wanted to start a family soon. The 2 top picks- the Honda Odessey and the Ford Expedition. The Expedition is still in our driveway.
Year 4- We brought baby Alyssa (6 weeks old).  It was our first trip to Houston with the baby, and she slept in her stroller the majority of the day.
Year 5- We brought toddler Alyssa, and I was pregnant with Jackson.  We were living in Houston again.
Year 6- We brought 2 year old Alyssa in the stroller, and 6 month old Jackson in the sling.
Year 7- We brought 3 year old Alyssa and toddler Jackson in the big double stroller.
Year 8- Darren and I went sans kids, well, except baby Matthew in my belly. We went armed with our tape measure, looking for a car with good gas milage that could fit 3 car seats in the back seat. The competitors- the Ford Escape Hybrid, the Toyota Prius, and the Ford Fusion Hybrid.  We bought the Fusion less than 12 hours before Matthew was born.
Year 9- Darren and I went with just baby Matthew. 
Year 10- All 5 of us went this year.  The kids had a great time getting in the vehicles and playing around.  Darren and I looked at what may be the Expedition replacement when that time comes, as well as a few fun (not for the next 20 years) cars as well.

Matthew liked to 'drive'

Alyssa and Jackson buckled up.

The car show was just an amped up version of the kids playing in the garage.  They love playing in the '66 Mustang.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

T-2 Weeks Until a Thumb

Matthew's hand surgery is scheduled for 2 weeks from today.  Matthew has been well for 3 weeks, and he needs to stay well for the next 2+ weeks. I can't remember a time in recent memory when Matthew was well for 5 weeks in a row, but I'm hoping and praying this will be the first!  Matthew has always seemed more susceptible to illness, and is considered 'medically fragile' by his pediatrician.  This surgery isn't urgent, and we'll postpone if we need to, but I'd really like to get his hands done and get him out of casts before the middle of the summer.  100 degree heat + a cast from hand to shoulder = no pool and probable stink.

I've always been borderline germaphobe--even Matthew reaches for the antibacterial gel at the doctors' offices and knows to rub his hands together after applying.  But I'm taking it to a new level in these 2 weeks.  Antibacterial gel in every car, the diaper bag, Darren's office, my pocket. The kids can't come or go without a squirt (or a hand wash).  No illnesses are welcome at the Hoy House!  Our sweet baby Matthew is ready for his thumb in 2 weeks!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Baby Steps

Matthew wants to walk.  He walks using his walker. He walks behind his push toys.  He walks pushing his ride on toys.  He walks holding onto my hands.  He walks holding only one of my hands.  With all of this walking, he is becoming much more stable, but we expect he is still months away from being to walk independently.  "Baby steps"-- literally and figuratively.

On Sunday, we took Matthew over to the path near our house so that he could walk a ways on an open stretch instead of walking the pin-ball game in our living room.  He didn't walk as far as I thought he would, but it was almost nap time and there were more than a few distractions.  I think we've found a nice stretch of smooth surface for him to walk.

I'm training to run my first 10k and run on this path.  This image is my motivation.  As I train to run, Matthew trains to walk.  Mathew's strength, perseverance, and spirit keep me putting one foot in front of the other, running down that path. 

Matthew walking down the path.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Matthew's Eating

Out of all of Matthew's latest tricks from his developmental explosion, I think that him eating 'real food' and drinking from his sippy cup is amongst my favorites.  (Though it is hard to rank them, as we love all his new tricks!)  With Mattie eating table food, we now can prepare 1 meal and the only extra effort is to cut it up in small pieces (nothing like the effort compared to feeding him jar after jar of baby food).  We can now go out to eat on a whim (instead of worrying he has baby food in the diaper bag).  It is delightful.  And Matthew seems to really be liking it too. He eats--a lot!  Bananas, blueberries, clementines, grapes, chicken, beef, salmon, noodles, eggs, bagels, cherrios, goldfish, grilled cheese, lunch meat, bread, animal crackers, corn, green beans, peas, carrots, etc. Pretty much anything we put in front of him, he'll eat.  He's the first one to sit down to eat and the last one to be finished.  Really neat!

But, yesterday's GI visit took a bit of wind out of my sails.  Matthew isn't gaining weight as quickly as the GI would like, and Matthew's growth curve has flattened out (not good when he wasn't on the curve to begin with).  Though the GI is happy with Matthew's subcutaneous fat (fat just below the skin) and that Matthew doesn't look emaciated, he recommends Matthew stay on the gastroperisis meds and that we feed him calorically dense foods as often as he'll eat them. We also hope that Matthew just being well will help with his weight gain too.  

Matthew eating spaghetti, messy but wonderful!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


We are slowly starting to unload our baby stuff.  Doing so has made me a bit morose, not because I'm sad that we are done having babies, but because our last baby experience was so very different than I had expected.  I looked at the baby slings that I used so often with Jackson, but couldn't use with Matthew because he would overheat. And the baby shoes that Matthew never wore because of they wouldn't fit with his braces.  And the pump that was used way more than I ever expected because Matthew never nursed because of his recessed jaw.  It has just been a different experience with Matthew.

On Friday I updated Matthew's speech therapist on his latest developmental explosion.  I was explaining how exciting it was to see Matthew walk with his walker when she commented how glad she was that we used it, that many families don't want to use it because they aren't ready to admit their little one isn't a typical 2 year old.  

We know Matthew isn't typical, and I can't even pretend that he is.  On the plane to Chicago for Thanksgiving, I told the person sitting next to us that Matthew was a little over 1, instead of almost 2.  I figured that Matthew was developmentally similar to a 1 year old and not that much bigger than about a 15 month old, so I could probably get away with it and I didn't need to go into Mattie's life story with a stranger. Within 20 minutes, my seatmate started to catch on that Matthew wasn't your typical 15 month old.  After coming clean and telling him that Mattie was almost 2 and was born with a rare chromosome disorder, he revealed that his youngest son was born with a more common chromosome disorder and was developmentally delayed as well.  It ended up being a great trip with a person who understood a little of what we have experienced.  

We can't pretend that Matthew isn't unique, and when I try it betrays our experiences and his journey.  I know walking with a walker makes Matthew look different, but he is different!  And some of the things he does will be or look a bit different too. I'm okay with that-- Matthew is perfectly unique!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Houston Half

This morning Darren ran the Houston half marathon with one of our friends, Ryan.  Darren has been prepping for the race for about 6 months, and has amazed me by how easy he makes it look. (I am well aware that it isn't easy!)

In lieu of fighting the crowds, parking, and dealing with the 3 kids in the early hours downtown, I enjoyed keeping up with their progress today on the marathon website, receiving text messages with updates, and watching the television coverage to see if I could glimpse them, all from the warmth of our house.  I think I actually saw Darren in the midst of the 20k other runners on tv.  Thankfully his running group shirt is very easy to see! 

Congratulations to my beloved, on your 2nd 1/2 marathon! and Ryan on his first!  Great finish, at 1:57:47!!

Turning the final corner. 
Can't miss Darren in the bright yellow "Cypress Running Club" shirt.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I don't have friggatriskaidekaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th) but it wasn't a good day for me yesterday.  I have been pretty jazzed about my upcoming classes-- 2 of the same classes back to back, 3 days a week, in a class that I've already taught and prepped for.  Pretty much the ideal situation for me. 

Yesterday 1 of those classes was cancelled due to low enrollment.  I'm bummed, mainly because by teaching only 1 class, I pay more in childcare than I make (even cutting an hour off the nanny's schedule). I'm now paying for the honor to teach. I do really love teaching, and this is probably the best testament to that.  

Yesterday I tried to think of all the good things about having only 1 class-- less grading and more time with Jackson and Matthew top the list.  And even though I'm losing money by doing it, I am lucky to have the opportunity to do something I love doing, it will be continuous employment on my resume and it is an opportunity to build upon my teaching experience. Not according to my plan, but I trust that it is a good thing. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012


-Took a semester, but Alyssa has finally clued in that I wait across the street and watch her go into school in the mornings.  The upside-she is very cute as she turns around, waves or blows me kisses as she walks up to the school. The downside- it takes her longer to get into the school, which this morning meant I was waiting longer out in the cold.  

-We may not have figured out why Matthew grinds his teeth, but we have finally identified a pattern.  He grinds his teeth when he's tired.  A gigantic tell to let us know it is nap time!

-Hand surgery was pushed back a few days due to the surgeon's schedule.  New date= Feb 8.  Praying we can keep Matthew well those extra days!

-Jackson has started riding his balance bike, but he's not quite ready to lose his training wheels when there are pedals on the bike.
Jax on his balance bike
-My spring semester starts next week.  I got my evaluation from last semester and was pleasantly surprised by the nice feedback from my students.  I hope to build upon it to make this semester even better for my 2 classes!

-Mattie's continuing his huge developmental jump- he's added another sign (eat), is being very vocal and responsive (shaking head no if he doesn't want to do something), is mimicking use of the telephone and hairbrush, and is walking and turning his push toys.  He also hasn't eaten a jar of baby food since moving to 'real' food.  He eats almost anything and everything we put in front of him.  So many reasons to celebrate!  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Plans

I plan and God laughs.  I think of that adage a lot.  I plan...a lot.  And this is what I have found out from my years and years of planning. 

-My plans aren't always God's plans.  
-God's plans always win.  
-God rarely lets me in on the plan.  

I love it when I finally see the light--the wisdom of God's plan, that plan that I had no idea even existed, and that plan I might have even worked against.  Yesterday I was taken aback twice by the beauty of God's plans. 

As I was walking the kids home from school, I was so thankful for the opportunity to do so.  Taking Alyssa to/from school is always a highlight of my day.   I then remembered the amazing journey (not in my plans) that transpired to allow me to take the kids to/from school.  Matthew's uniquenesses, his health issues, having to leave Accenture, the voluntary severance plan, my teaching...not all according to my plan, but to God's. There is great beauty in the plan, even if I can't always see it.

Also yesterday, I watched as Matthew played with the dog and was again thankful for God's plan.  We have 2 dogs-- Leia is a 12+ year old black lab mix, and Padme is a 4 year old yellow lab mix.  Leia has been my puppy since she was 6 weeks old (thank you Houston SPCA), and she's an easy dog to have, even with her slight neuroses.  Padme joined our family a year after Jackson was born. She was a stray in the neighborhood and her cute face called out to us.  But she has been a thorn in my side since that summer in '08.  She's high energy and needy. (Not in my plan!)  With first 2, then 3 small kids, Padme and Leia were low on the totem pole.  Leia was fine with that position, but Padme has continued to be high maintenance.
Lately though, Padme has endeared herself to me by being the best dog--for Matthew.  He LOVES dogs.  His first sign was dog.  He wants to pet, kiss and crawl all over them. Leia wants nothing to do with the kids, and usually just walks away when the kids get near.  But Padme is excited to get the attention.  She allows Matthew to climb on her and is so sweet and gentle to him.  Padme might not have been the best dog for me, but she is the best dog for Matthew.  Again, not exactly my plan, but it was a perfect plan.  And for that, I'm very thankful!
 2 of Matthew's favorite things (the ball and the dog) combine for the best game ever!
 They would play until they dropped.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Random Thoughts

-I am in such awe of Matthew and his latest development explosion.  He's added sounds (g, d, e were added to his m, a, b) and signs (food) on top of his latest accomplishments of eating (no more baby food), drinking (no more bottles) and moving (stairs-up and down, and walking on the walker).  He's been busy these past few weeks.

-Alyssa was completely jazzed that it was raining this morning because she (and Jackson) had bought Star Wars umbrellas with their Xmas money.  She and I had a nice walk up to school this morning in the rain, as she twirled her umbrella and jumped in the puddles.  This afternoon's walk to/from school in the rain wasn't near as enjoyable with Matthew and Jackson.  Matthew was not pleased with the rain cover over his stroller, and Jackson was just slow.  I thought I saw an inch worm pass us on the sidewalk.  But we made it home, and are no worse for it.

-The meds seem to be working on Mattie.  He seems healthy!  Now if we can keep him so for the next 3.5 weeks, in time for hand surgery.

-I'm so thankful for right now--for today.  I haven't always done a good job of staying in the moment and being thankful for it.  I like to look ahead, and to plan.  But our journey with Matthew has given me a new perspective.  I'm so thankful for our health, for the continued development of the kids, and for our time together. Thank you, God, for today!

Friday, January 6, 2012

2000 Jars

Matthew has been eating baby food for well over a year.  The last couple of months, Darren and I have grown very, very tired of the jar after jar of baby food.  We've bought every kind on the market starting first with just organic, but needing to branch out for variety.  All of it kind of looks the same after almost 2000 jars. 

We've been pushing Matthew to eat table food for some time, but he'd throw up (though the GI meds have helped with that), or gag, or just not eat enough on his own.  Until this week!  Matthew's switch was flipped and he's now feeding himself full meals of table food.  And drinking from his sippy cup!  Yippee!  Reason to celebrate in the Hoy House!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

Matthew loves his walker.  He's gone around and around the living room, needing help only around the corners.  He did about a dozen laps yesterday and had already done a dozen laps before noon today. He smiles his ear to ear grin as he goes.  He's gaining speed and stability. Yesterday he stumbled a few times, but today he's steady.  And he's so proud of himself!  As ugly as that contraption of a walker is, I love it.  It helps my sweet baby Matthew walk.  It makes him smile.  It brings a tear to my eye.  Because of it, I get to watch Matthew walk. 
Matthew on the move!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Matthew's Development

In a few weeks, Matthew's development will be assessed at his yearly evaluation for early intervention services.  I'm trying to prepare myself for the results, and I pray for the best.  But I know that Matthew continues to fall further behind, even with all of the amazing progress he's made.  I revel in the progress Matthew continues to make and I want to celebrate that before the evaluation!

I see how much Matthew wants to walk and talk, how much he wants to keep up with Alyssa and Jackson, and how much he wants to be a part of the conversation.  I hate that he has to struggle so much, but I'm proud of my strong little man as he perseveres.  Lately he's begun to (what can be best described as) grunt.  He has desires and he's now gesturing and grunting in attempts to communicate those wants and needs.  We are trying to bridge the gap with sign language and he's picked up a few more signs, and now can sign for "more", "all done", "dog", "cat", "dad", and "cow".  He's begun to say "mamamamama", and maybe I really want it to be so I'm interpreting it that way, but I think he's actually saying it at me. 

And Matthew is on the move.  He is a fast crawler, can climb the stairs, and as of yesterday, can even make his way down the stairs too.  He loves to stand (supported) and cruises on the couch, the end table, and even the wall if he wants to.  He rides on his ride on toys.  And the new big thing-- Matthew is using a walker.  His wonderful PT brought it over yesterday and Matthew was not having any part of it.  This morning though, Matthew took it for a walk around the living room, only needing assistance around the corners.  I cried with joy watching him walk independently, albeit with mechanical assistance.

Matthew may be almost 2 and doesn't yet walk (unassisted) or talk (much), but he is on his way! 
Matthew walking with his walker.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

End of Break

Darren and I agree--this has been the best Christmas break ever.  We had so much fun in the 2 weeks we were all off work/school!

-visited with family & friends
-went to see the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie
-enjoyed the Houston Children's Museum
-celebrated our family birthday at the Downtown Aquarium
-played wii
-went to the neighborhood park
-watched at least a dozen Christmas shows
-went to see the new Muppet movie
-rode bikes
-ate lots of yummy food
-shopped at our favorite used bookstore-- twice
-played at the gymnastics place
-just enjoyed our time together.

Darren went back to work today and the kids return to school tomorrow.  Back to routine!  We were sad the 2 weeks had to come to an end but we look forward to the next break together!

Jackson created his own Angry Birds unplugged game
with the stuffed birds they got for Xmas.
Aly and Jax hanging with Alvin, Simon, and Theodore.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Favorites

We were so blessed in 2011.  Some of our favorite things about the year--

-Matthew spent considerably less time in doctors' waiting rooms and fewer nights in the hospital.
-Because the first point calmed our lives dramatically, Katie began teaching Sociology at the community college.
-Alyssa started kindergarten, riding her bike to and from school, where she's made new friends.
-Darren got a promotion at work.
-Darren and Katie ran off the baby weight.
-Jackson started a new preschool, where he seems to be catching up academically, and has made his first 'best friend'.
-Though Matthew is still delayed, he's making great strides in his development.
-Our summer trip to Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois was full of love and fun! 
-Our Thanksgiving trip to Chicago was delightful (as always) and felt too short.

All of these things were great, but the best part about 2011 was spending time with our family, our friends and each other.  We are blessed with amazing, supportive, fun and loving family and friends.  For that, we are thankful beyond words.

As we look forward to 2012, we pray first and foremost for good health.  We have so much to look forward to in the new year-- Matthew's hand surgeries, Darren running the Houston 1/2 marathon, Alyssa going to first grade, Matthew (hopefully) walking and talking, Jackson starting in the kindergarten class at his preschool, Jackson (hopefully) learning to ride his bike without training wheels, a summer trip, and spending much more time with family, friends and one another.  Blessings to you and yours in 2012! Happy New Year!