Friday, May 31, 2013

Jackson's Last Day of School

What a great year for Jackson!  He came into the school year barely knowing his letters and numbers and is leaving a very proficient reader and mathematician.  He started the school year dreading school and ends the year with no dread of school.  This last 9 weeks, he really hit his stride.  Great progress! 

He still had a few hiccups here and there-- a periodic check on his behavior chart instead of a smiley face, but overall, this year was a success!  His teacher deserves major kudos. 

This extra year should set him up for success when he goes to kindergarten at the public school in the Fall.  That was the goal of this year-- giving him the confidence and ability to hit the ground running. 

When I asked Jackson how he felt about the last day today, he summed up my feelings very well -- "Happy but a little sad too". 

Jackson was ready for his last day pool party!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I've Never Peeled a Carrot

When Alyssa was about 2, she was sitting in the backseat of the mustang, and told us "I've never peeled a carrot before."  Totally random.  That is what we say when we encounter total randomness. 

-For the last 6+ months, Jackson has pretended he has had a 'lab' where his 'helpers' control the weather.  To call the lab, he pushes on a wart on his wrist (that refuses to go away).  When the weather is good, he tells me that his helpers did it.  When the weather is bad, he tells me they must have been off on vacation. 

-Ah, to be young.  I went to lunch with Alyssa the other day at school and was going over our to-dos later that afternoon.  I told her we needed to fold laundry and sort socks, and she was excited.  Truly excited.   I wish I had that excitement for the task!

-Last Friday night, the kids and I spent our evening at Costco--enjoyed some books and dinner for 3 kids under $5.  Night out on the town, I tell you!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Matthew's Last Day of School

Today is Matthew's last day of private preschool.  Matthew will start preschool at the public school in Austin in the Fall.  We very well may have paid our last preschool payment--after 7+ years! 

Matthew has bloomed at school this semester.  It was a perfect fit for him.  After the first few weeks, he confidently walked into school every Monday, Wednesday, Friday to put away his bag and then go to the gym to play with his friends. His teachers have been kind and loving and his peers have been welcoming and accepting.  We will miss this warm and caring environment, but have heard great things of the public school preschool program where we are moving.  I hope it will be as good!
Mattie was making faces at Jackson, who was trying to make him smile.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Discouraged and Hopeful

Lately I have vacillated between being discouraged and hopeful about Matthew's future verbal abilities. 

First, there was a thread on a Facebook group for kids with unique chromosome disorders that gave me great hope.   These are as close to Matthew's peers as possible.  This was the deidentified thread:
   Poster 1:  Has anyone’s children developed speech after the age of 5?
   Poster 2: 
My son is an adult and as he got older his speech has developed and is still developing. He had very little speech as a child but now you can't shut him up, he's not always very clear and is hard to understand but never ever give up
    Poster 3: 
My son, 8, had minimal speech until about 3-4, but took off about age 4, then continued to improve age 5-6. Now  is mainstreamed without support and very verbal. Great at reading, hard to understand when reading aloud and gets weekly speech privately. He is 80-90% intelligible by a stranger.

     Poster 5:  My son about 4 or 5 when I started to think about giving up hope of his speech developing beyond the odd few words. However, now aged 10 his speech is brilliant. He can talk in sentences and his language is improving all the time.
     Poster 6:  My daughter learned sign language first, when she was 5 or 6. The speech came afterwards, when she was 8 or 9. She is 13 now and uses a combination of ASL and speech. Family can usually understand her, but not as understandable to strangers. But, it is CONSTANTLY improving.

Also encouraging, Matthew has started singing and verbalizing more.  He imitates the tone and syllables to the song 'Click Click' by Elska.  He pants when he sees a dog. He 'ooo-ooo's when we act like a train.  He says "I" for "Hi" and "Bye".  Overall, he has been verbalizing much more. 

He wants to communicate.  He uses spontaneous sign-- a car sign when he sees a car, a dog sign plus a pant when he sees a dog, a more sign when the horse stops at the fair, and so on.  He will grab your hand to take you to where he wants, or point to a desire, or tap on you to get your attention.

What I want more than anything is to hear my sweet Matthew say "I love you, Mommy." But, he is still not talking.    *Sigh*

Friday, May 24, 2013

Surgey Follow Up

Matthew's surgical follow up was a week ago and all is well.  He healed nicely.  He is eating well.  He has gained back some of the weight he lost.  He is as active as ever.  No concerns from his surgeon, who was nice and capable, and who we hope to never have to see again. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Last Day of Music Class

Today was the last day of music class for Matthew. 

Over the course of the year, I have had many mixed emotions on Thursdays from 9:30-10:30.  Matthew has loved music class, which although I was not excited about it at first, made me love it too.  Matthew really got into the routine, and participated as well (and sometimes even more) as all the other kids.  And once in a while, this class (with 10 'peers'), I was reminded of how different Matthew really is sometimes.

Today, I reflected back on how far he's come in these 8 months.  Matthew has progressed-- his participation, his verbalizations, his attention span, his ability to follow direction, and his interaction with other kids have all improved.  Often it is not as fast or as easy as I hope, but he has made good progress. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Getting Sad

Months ago, when I had the heart to heart about moving to Austin with my beloved, I noted 4 things that I would be sad about-- 1.  My job (which I covered in a previous post)  2.  Alyssa's friends 3.  Being geographically close to our parents and 4. My local grocery store (I know it seems silly but I have great affection for my grocery store). 

Maybe I was in denial, but I did not list my friends. Not because I wouldn't miss them, but because I rationalize that I am an adult with means to keep in contact with my friends (email, facebook, telephone, heck- even the car and a driver's license).  I know that friendship is not geographically dependent! 

Even knowing that, this week I've started to get sad about leaving my Houston based friends.  I will miss being a few minutes away, being able to run into them on the way to school, or at the grocery store I will miss.  I know that even though we have the adult means to keep in contact, it will take effort and sometimes our adult lives and responsibilities will get in the way.  It won't be the same.

It didn't sink in until now.  Just this week I have started to realize that our time here in Houston is coming to a close.  Since February, I have said "oh, we are here till the end of the school year" and that felt like forever away.  And every day (sometimes every hour) since February, we have been head down just getting to the next day (or next hour).  There hasn't been much time to look up and look forward.  But now, the kids activities have slowed, the house has sold, my semester is done, and the end of the year activities are scattered on the calendar.  I look up and see that we are just a few weeks away from our move.  Though we are excited about what is on the other side, we will miss what we are leaving. 

So, to my Houston friends, I will greatly miss you in the every day but I am thankful our friendships aren't tied to a location.  Email, call, facebook, come see us and I'll do the same!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Names of Future Grandchildren

The kids and I were listening to the radio on the way home from picking up Jackson. The DJ was discussing the newly released top 10 baby names of 2012 list and asking kids to call in with the story of their names and when they grow up, what they would name their children.  We went around the car, discussing the story of their names, and then I posed the same question-- what would you name your children one day? 

Alyssa has decided my grandchildren will be Emily and Matthew.  When I asked her why she chose those names, she responded "There aren't many E names (hence Emily) and I always want to think about Matthew (hence Matthew)".  

Aly and Mattie May 2013.
Everyone should be loved like Matthew is loved by Alyssa.  She has loved him beyond measure since the first moment she saw him.  That love has never wavered.  He is a lucky boy to have her as a sister. 

That first day.
Making sure it wasn't too mushy of a car ride, Jackson piped up with the names for my other set of grandchildren-- Jack and One "like the number". I doubt that One (the number) will pass muster with my future daughter in law, but you never know! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gift of Fear

Yesterday, I was reading my Facebook newsfeed, enjoying the posts from friends and family about Mother's Day gifts, activities, and tributes, when I came upon a post from a mom in a common support group for unique kids.  Her post announced the passing of her sweet 6 month old daughter. It was a jarring reminder that for many, Mother's Day is a very hard day.  I cry for this mom, who planned her daughter's funeral on her first Mother's Day and all the moms who have children in heaven.  May God bless them and comfort them!

I have wondered many times since Matthew's birth if our journey may end up mirroring their journey. I remember reading a medical journal article given to us by a nurse when hearing of Matthew's duplication, about a child with a 4q duplication, who died at age 1.  And reading the 'mortality rate' of kids with intestinal malrotation is anywhere from 2-24% even after surgical correction, depending on the study and other genetic malformations (like heart defects).  And seeing a machine breathing for Matthew, when his heart rate was down to 30.  And hearing the anesthesiologist tell me that they pumped blood and fluid into Matthew as fast as they could to keep him going.  I can't count how many times I have held sweet Matthew and prayed "Please, God, don't let today be the last day."   

After that dramatic first 18 months, Matthew got better and stronger.  He didn't spend any time in the hospital, we saw fewer specialists, and less and less of his pediatrician.  I was lulled into a sense of security.  But, just a few weeks ago, as Matthew laid motionless in his bed at Texas Childrens, with bad labs and a very low heart rate, I worried again that we might lose our sweet Matthew.  I prayed that familiar prayer every day, and it was so beautifully answered.  I am so unbelievably thankful Matthew fully recovered but it was a reminder that the risk is real (as it is with everyone at anytime) and pronounced (given Matthew's history).

This most recent health scare was because of internal scar tissue that formed from Matthew's original intestinal malrotation surgery.  The surgeon opened him up and removed as much scar tissue as they could, but opening him up to remove the scar tissue, ironically, causes more scar tissue to form. There is a very real chance this latest surgery and hospital stay will not be his last.  I will worry about it every time Matthew throws up, even if only for a little stomach bug like he battled last week.   The 2-24% figure that haunted my thoughts as I held Matthew's hand through the scary nights will continue to be in the back of my mind. 

The gift of that fear is that it reminds me that I need to thank God every day for giving us another day! 

Matthew (aka skinny mini) showing off his wicked scar.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I Get It Now

When I was in elementary school, every year, my parents topped our Christmas tree with a toilet paper roll angel I made in Kindergarten.  I remember begging them by the time I was in 5th grade to 'please stop, and just throw it away'. I was mortified that they not only hung on to this sorry excuse for an angel, but displayed it yearly on our tree. 

Now, I totally get it. 

Today, to celebrate Mother's Day, I got a collection of treasures I will cherish-- a magnet with Jackson's thumbprint made into a flower that says in his handwriting "Thumbody Loves You", a poem printed by Matthew's teacher and imprinted with one of his fingerprints, a picture of waterlillies painted by Jackson, and a drawn card from Alyssa with her depiction of her and I on the front-- she's wearing an "I love my mom" tshirt and I'm wearing a "1# Mom" tshirt. 

I understand so well why my parents hung on to that angel and proudly displayed it year after year.  It is the same reason I will hang on to these.   I love these kids with everything that I am, and want to hold on to this time and this place, and am thankful for it all. 

I am grateful for my mom who loves me and my kids like that, for my mother in law who loves my husband and our kids like that, and for all of the amazing women in our lives who love their children and grandchildren and often many other people's children (including us and our children) like that.  Thank you!  Happy Mother's Day to all!

My Mother's Day Treasures.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Final Grades the Final Time

When we decided to move to Austin, Darren and I sat down for a heart to heart.  I am fully supportive of our move, and believe it is in the best interest of our family, but there are a few things about Houston I will greatly miss and may cause me to shed a tear or two.  On that list-- my job. 

I have had the privilege of teaching 2 courses- Intro to Sociology and Marriage and Family-at the local community college for the past 2 years. It has at times been challenging to balance work (even the part time teaching) with the demands of our family, but every day I stepped into the classroom, I knew I had found my place, my passion.  I loved it.  My students continually amazed (and sometimes frustrated) me and I knew it to be a perfect fit for me. 

And today is my last day.  I finished grading the finals that were completed on Wednesday, calculated their final grades, printed out the required paperwork, and turned in the grades and my key...for the final time for the foreseeable future.

As I walked out of the building, I paused at the classroom I spent so many of my Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays of the school year, now dark and empty. I did shed a tear.  I will miss that classroom, my students, that college.

I hope to find something equally as wonderful on the other side.  I have been looking for something in Austin, but haven't found the right fit just yet.  I have to believe that the right opportunity will present itself at just the right time.  If I haven't found it, it must just not be the right time. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Few Images

I forgot to include pictures with the last few posts, so have a few from our Austin weekend to share now. 

Alyssa and Jackson enjoyed building stuff at the Home Depot kid workshop.
We will definitely have to do that again!

Matthew didn't build anything, but Jackson let him play with the toolbox he built.
And they all got popcorn.  A great time had by all!

If this doesn't scream 'bachelor pad', I don't know what does.
D- Sorry, Honey, I had to post this!
Only a month to go and your fridge will no longer look like this! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

More on Dwellings

The stomach bug that hit Matthew on Saturday evening has now cycled through all 5 Hoys. As Jackson put it "this is not fun",  but we are so very thankful it was just a bug!!

This weekend, besides the stomach bug, was fantastic.

On Friday, we received another offer on our Houston house, and accepted one of the offers on Friday evening!  Just shy of 30 hours of putting it on the market, it was option pending.  Very exciting for us, and we were thrilled that the weeks and weeks of work we put in on getting the house ready for market seemed to pay off.  We are scheduled to close the week after school finishes here-- wonderful timing to boot!

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we spent time at our new house in Austin and met our new neighbors-- all very friendly and with kids (many Alyssa's age, but many more of varying ages).  We are so excited to have great neighbors and live in such close proximity to other kids. 

We finished our weekend by playing at our new neighborhood park and picking out new paint colors too.  All the pieces seem to be falling into place, and for that, we are very thankful!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Good News That Sounds Like Bad

Both Darren and I are feeling a bit under the weather--a little sick to our stomachs.  This sounds like bad news, but is actually very good news. 

See, Saturday evening, Matthew started violently throwing up time and time again.  Our biggest fear was that it was another obstruction/adhesion (like the one that ended with emergency surgery and a 12 day hospital stay).  It was quick moving, as he rallied on Sunday, but it was still lingering in the back of our minds that it could be more sinister than a stomach bug. 

With us not feeling great today, we have greater hope that it was just a simple stomach bug.  Bad news in that we've had it, and have potentially shared it with others, but very good news in that it is likely just a bug!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Tuesday, we closed on our Austin home!  We don't take possession until tomorrow, but it is a done deal.  Wow!  I am hoping we are as happy with our home in Austin as we have been in our home in Houston.

Our Houston home went on the market at lunchtime today.  We had a multitude of showings, and are currently mulling an offer in hand (for at least a day to see if any others transpire). 

I will miss this house.  This dwelling has served us well. The moment we walked in for the first time almost 7 years ago, we knew this was the house (and it was on the market 1 day then too).  Sappily, I hope our buyers will love it as much as we have.

If all goes well, thankfully, it seems likely we will have a signed contract by the end of the weekend.  I have been hoping and praying that the house would move quickly, as keeping it show ready with the 3 kids is making me even more neurotic and crazier than usual. This morning, as we were walking out the door, after I spent time going room to room to make sure it was ready to show, I noticed a scrub brush on the stairs.  A scrub brush? Yes, a scrub brush.  Not even sure where it came from originally, but know it had to have been one of the 3 little ones (likely the smallest) that decided that the stairs would be the final spot for it.  Thankfully I found it before walking out! 

I think the kids will be of 2 minds about selling the house- 1.  The good- I will stop freaking out and saying "please don't touch anything" (like we are in a public restroom all the time) and 2. The bad (for them, not for me)- We won't be going out to eat every night anymore.  I am so ready to eat at home for while!   

"Thumbs" up for Taco Bell/KFC.