Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Snapshot 2/27/11

I have always wanted to do a Sunday Snapshot, but I have never really had my act together enough to do it. I still can't really say I have my act together, but I have a series of pictures, two of which were on yesterday's post, of Clara when I was trying to get her stop being so GRUMPY and let me take some pictures. :-) Not a beautiful location...we were in a hospital cafeteria waiting to see a specialist...but in my humble opinion, I think the subject is quite beautiful, inside and out. :-)


"Come on, Clara, let Mommy take a picture...pleeeeez."




"Here you go, Mother. I will give you my best, forced smile."


"Oh, you want a real smile?"


"Look, I can do this with my hands."


"How's this look? Can that count as a smile?"


"Oooh...I can sleep like Daddy and Alyssa!"

"There. Now those people will never believe I was so grumpy."

Little Rascal. :-)



Ni Hao Yall



***On another quick note, sweet little Maggie slipped from her mother's arms into the arms of Jesus at around 8:40 last night. She is no longer in pain, but I am sure her family is hurting beyond belief. Please pray for this precious family. Mitochondrial Disease has claimed another precious life...please pray for a cure!

Much Love,

Jeannie

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Clara's Visit with the Pediatric Endocrinologist

We had another grand adventure in Ann Arbor yesterday as we took Clara to her appointment at the University of Michigan with a pediatric endocrinologist. We are still trying to figure out what is going on with her little bones, and this appointment was to get us one step closer.

We actually left for Ann Arbor on Thursday night. It is exhausting trying to do all that driving and an important, very long doctor's visit in one day. Our friends, Mike and Leigh Ann, took great care of Emilie and Megan, and my angel friend took Lucy (and had a ball!). We let Alyssa go with us. The last few months have been very trying for her as she has tried to learn how to get along with Emilie while sharing a room, and we thought she could use a little break...some time away with dear old Mom, Dad, and Clara (whom she adores.)

The kids always think it is the grandest thing ever to stay in a hotel. Clara thought the hotel had set up a little tea set, just for her. She immediately started playing with the ice bucket and the cups that were left on the little table.

We didn't have the heart to tell her that wasn't the purpose for which they were intended. We just let her enjoy. :-) We did end up using all the cups, so nothing went to waste.



I am happy to say that when we got to the hospital yesterday, we went straight to "Registration B"!





That was great, except that we were supposed to be here:


...in "Registration D".


It was truly not the production it was the last time. We knew we were to go to "Registration D", but we passed "B" on the way and I couldn't resist getting a picture. I was not in good enough humor last time to take any pictures at all. :-)

Actually, when we arrived at "Registration D", we were too early...can you believe it? They didn't want to sign us in so early, so we took some time to stroll the hospital and went to the cafeteria to get a a little snack. I was really hoping to get some great pictures of Clara...she looked so cute. But she was pretty much a grump the whole day. She did perk up a little when the camera came out:







Jeff and Alyssa were enjoying just "hanging out"....


And of, of course, we had to get a sleeping picture:


As soon as we arrived back at "Registration D", they were ready for us. We never even sat down. The whole time the nurse was trying to take Clara's measurements, she was a grump. I don't know what her deal was....that is a little unusual for her. She did perk up once again, however, when the stickers came out....6 colorful, scratch-and-sniff smiley stickers, to be exact. :-)

Here is Clara working diligently to remove all the stickers from the paper:



Once she had stuck them all to her leg, she had to stick them...and sniff them...on my leg:



All smiles!


I guess the nurse figured Clara could use some smiles. :-)


We talked to the nurse practitioner for quite a while as she gathered all the facts. I don't know what my problem was, but I could not gather my thoughts. I bumbled around like a...not smart person. I feel so much pressure when we get to these appointments to make sure they know everything. It takes so long to get in with these doctors, and I am afraid that if I miss something, it will mess us all up. Clara has quite a history, and I am usually very prepared for these appointments. I have a notebook that all of her medical records are in, and usually, before I go into an appointment, I make sure everyuthing is still in order and I write a summary of why we are at that doctor with a clear list of 'issues'. Going into this trip, I was not nearly so organized. I really am having a hard time getting my act together lately. Maybe I am a little overwhelmed?

Anyway, when the NP walked out, I called Clara's geneticist, Dr. Kendall, to refresh my memory as to why we were there. On top of that, when we went to the orthopedic doctor last month, they made copies of some of her lab results, but never gave them back, so I was without all of that as well (since I didn't check the notebook before I went.). So Dr. Kendall also went through her chart while we were on the phone to remind me of her recent labs and the results. I am sure everyone there thought the hillbillies had come to town. Alyssa told me I didn't sound that scattered, but Jeff didn't comment. That's probably not a good sign.

The doctor walked in as I was finishing my phone call with Dr. Kendall, and I don't think she really appreciated the fact that I was on the phone. She was, however, very thorough with Clara, and I think we are on our way to some answers. She said that with the type of Rickets that is caused by a Vitamin D deficiency, she would expect to see really high phosphate levels. Clara's are elevated, but not as high as she would expect to see for that type of Rickets. There is another type of Rickets that is familial, which would have slightly elevated phosphate levels, but she would also expect to see it in other family members. She said that sometimes x-rays can look like Rickets, but the patient could actually have metaphyseal dysplasia, which is  a form of dwarfism. In Clara's case, she is not sure which one it is. She is going to treat her with a vitamin D therapy for three months and at the end of that three months, she will do more bloodwork. If her levels improve greatly, we will know it was the Vitamin D deficiency type. If they only improve a little, we will know it is the familial type, and if they don't improve at all, then it is most likely the metaphyseal dysplasia. (I hope I am not butchering these spellings.) She agrees that there is definitely something going on with her bones. She asked me two or three times about something called Turner's syndrome, but Clara's geneticist has tested for that already. She ordered a gigantic round of bloodwork so we could compare Clara's numbers in three months. At this point, we will probably also be pursuing some more in-depth chromosomal testing with Dr. Kendall. We were going to do that testing (called a chromosomal micro array) before we moved, but our insurance ran out.

She also said this was probably something separate from the mito. Even though I knew it was a long shot, I was really hoping we were going to lose the mito diagnosis. The good thing is, she didn't mention anything that Dr. Kendall and I have not already discussed, so at least there were no surprises.The doctor really seemed to know her stuff...I got the feeling that she was probably the most experienced one in that practice, but she was very intimidating. I have been very impressed with the U of M....they definitely seem to have their act together.In a week or so, they will be sending us a full report of our visit. They will probably print mine in various forms (large print, braille, audio recording...), because I am sure they thought there was something wrong with me. Maybe I will have it better together the next time.

We still don't have all of the answers, but I think we are one step closer. I am so very thankful for Dr. Kendall who was willing to step back and take a fresh look at Clara. I am so glad she was willing to rescue us when Clara's previous geneticist left us floundering (Don't get me started on him). I am also very thankful for the University of Michigan and the professional way in which they handle their patients. I have nothing negative to say about them...all good. At this point it looks like we will probably have some definitive answers by the end of the summer. At this point, what is a few more months?

When we got home and got all of our little birdies back in our nest, we were absolutely exhausted. I stay tired pretty much all of the time, for some reason, but we were all whooped today. As a result, we had a very low-key day. I had a to-do list a mile long and I can tell you that very little of that was accomplished, which means I am still drowning in laundry. (It will still be there Monday. :-))

This is pretty much what our day consisted of:


Many blessings to you and yours!

Love,
Jeannie

One more request...

This was supposed to be a post about Clara's visit with the pediatric endocrinologist, and I have tried to start this post three times, but honestly, my heart is so heavy for some other families, I don't feel like it would be appropriate to talk about my own right now. I will give you an update on Clara, but before I do, may I please ask you for prayer again for some other precious families who are struggling with mitochondrial disease?

Do you remember little Maggie that I asked for prayer for? Please continue to pray. Things are not looking good. They have taken her to the hospital to try to get her some relief, as nothing they are doing at this point is helping her. They have put her on morphine to keep her comfortable. I cannot fathom the pain the family is feeling right now.

I have another blog friend (whose name I will not mention for privacy reasons), but she and her family are also struggling with this disease and its effect on their son and their family. Even though I have never actually met these two families, I feel like I know them (to a degree) by keeping up with their blogs, and I have come to care about them both very deeply. No child should ever have to suffer, and this disease is not kind. Please keep both of these families in your prayers.

And when you think about it, please pray they find a cure. Progress has been slow in the last thirty years (for various reasons), but scientists have estimated that it is as common as cystic fibrosis....just not as well known. So it is not a rare disease, or group of diseases. Most people have just never heard of it, which makes it really hard to get the support that is needed for research to find a cure. I have never really considered myself much of an activist, but when you see something wreak havoc on people you love, including your own child, you start to get passionate about it.

I promise I will post the update on Clara's visit soon, but I just could not bring myself to post it right now when so many others are hurting.

Much love, my friends. Thank you for your prayers.
Jeannie

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blessings

There is a lot going on here at the Bryant house.

We have snow....again....after a week of teaser weather. We could see the (very muddy) grass and the sun was shining. Now we have about 5 inches of snow and dreary skies again. That will just make Spring sweeter, don't you think?

We are thoroughly loving our little Lucy. She has been such a bright spot for us. She is very sad today, actually moping a good bit. She misses her previous, wonderful family greatly. We are loving on her a whole lot, but I know it will take some time for her to feel totally at home here. Her previous owners are grieving a bit too, which is really kind of sad. I don't like for people to be sad.

 I have spent a lot of time today thinking about God's many wonderful blessing in our lives. His grace has been so sufficient to get us through these last few months, and I can see His hand in so many ways. He has so lovingly guided us since we've been here, helping us to get settled in. We have enough boxes unpacked to have (almost) everything we want to use and to get our home schooling back in full-force.We are making friends, finding our favorite places, doctors, and things to do. I have gotten plugged into Bible Studies, Alyssa his enjoying her homeschool band, and Alyssa and Emilie are having fun with the community childrens chorus they are singing with. We are starting to feel settled in our home and have come to really appreciate many of the blessings here. We especially love the fireplace and we are very excited about using our backyard in the Spring. It is the perfect "have a cookout and invite people over" kind of backyard. It has brought us a lot of peace to finally be settled in a church. We are still not sure this is our permanent church, but it will be until the summer is over, and we will decide what to do from there. So far, we really think we are going to love it. The kids are making friends and so are we! Jeff is absolutely loving his job at the National Ministry Center and has been so blessed to read, first hand through written testimonies sent into the ministry, how God is working in the lives of His people all over America. That has been such an encouragement. Those are the first steps towards a national Revival, and friends, we need one desperately! I am so thankful God has called us here to do this work.

Today has been a busy, but good, day. A sweet friend I met in Bible Study came over earlier to clean for me. That kind of help is always so hard for me to accept, but I felt like I was drowning in housework. Things are always feeling a little messy anyway because we are not totally unpacked and we are always here (making messes), and then with all of us being sick all week and having company here, I reached a point where I didn't know how I would ever catch up. I always feel like I am barely hanging on by a thread anyway.

My friend called yesterday and said, "I want to come and clean your house tomorrow."

I said, "What?"

She said, "Oh yeah! I love to clean and organize."

I said, "Really?" She was serious. I can't even imagine.

So..she very sweetly came today and while I helped the girls finish their schoolwork, made a phone call to the social worker at the U of M, made a hotel reservation at the U of M, talked to Lucy's previous owners three times, folded three loads of laundry, and made lunch, she dusted, vacuumed, scrubbed bathrooms, and even cleaned the glass on all of the pictures. Do people really do that? Are people really ever so caught up with their housework that they think to clean the glass in the picture frames?? It really made a difference. I was so impressed at how good it looked when she was done. She said she just loves to do that to bless people. I said, "Mission accomplished. I am blessed beyond belief!"

We are leaving tomorrow to go back to the U of M to the pediatric endocrinologist. To be honest, my brain is so fried I can't even remember everything they are looking at at this appointment. However, I know it is all related to Clara's growth...or lack thereof. Two years ago at her yearly check-up, Clara was in the 80th percentile in height. Last year, she was in the 15th percentile. I have a feeling it will be even worse this year. The kid has been wearing the same pants for two years, and Megan is about to be taller than her....and Megan is the most petite of all my children. To be honest, the thought of going is just exhausting to me. I am so tired. I don't know if I am still not over the sickness last week, if this lack of sunshine has finally gotten the best of me, or something else weird, but I do know these visits take so much out of all of us. To be honest, I am so tired of focusing on all that is wrong with Clara. I just want all of this to disappear and a doctor tell me she is okay and will be okay through childhood, adulthood, mommy-hood, grandma-hood and even great grandma-hood. No one can tell me that, though. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, I know, but it would just be nice not to think about a disease robbing your child of her life or quality of life.

Okay...I'm done. Sorry.

I almost have all of our logistics worked out...the kids are taken care of, the clothes are almost all washed, and I am in the process of getting all of their schoolwork together. Just when I thought it might at least look like I had it all together, I was talking to a friend today and she said,

"Jeannie, what are you going to do with your dog?"

"Huh? What?? I have a dog?"

Gulp.

"Oh yeah! I HAVE A DOG!"

Oh brother, what am I going to do with the dog?.....

I was in the middle of this panic attack when my sweet friend arrived to clean my house and she said,

"I'll keep your dog."

Wow. She cleans AND takes cares of other people's dogs. What a woman.

See...I'm blessed. Just blessed. Not because I deserve it, but because God is gracious, loving, kind, and a whole slew of other wonderful descriptive adjectives. We all are, if we choose to see it.

Have a wonderful night and I promise to update you when we get back from our appointemnt. Hopefully it will be all good news!

Much love!!
Jeannie

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pray for Maggie

Hi Everyone,

I know there are a lot of praying family, friends, and supporters who read this blog. If you are one of our prayer warriors, I am asking you to please pray for Maggie. She is 2 1/2 years old and is suffering greatly with complications from Mitochondrial Disease. The more I learn about this disease, the more I hate it. If you want to read more about her, you can find her blog here or you can click on her button on my sidebar. The doctors say she is in her last days. Please pray for healing for Maggie. Please pray that she would be very comfortable, as she is in a great deal of pain right now, and please pray for peace for her precious family.

Thank you for your prayers!

Much love,
Jeannie

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A New Addition

Our family is getting bigger.


We have not wanted to say anything until we knew for sure.


We wanted to share the happy news with you first.


It's a....




girl!!!


Her name is Lucy.





The kids have begged and begged for years, but while we had two small babies, a house on the market, and were raising support to go into full-time ministry, we didn't think we could handle the responsibility of a dog.


I still am not sure we can handle the responsibility of a dog, but here she is, and she is perfect for us. :-) We could not be more excited!

 Have a blessed night. :-)

What a Week!

This was, by far, one of the most eventful weeks we have had in quite a while. Well...since we moved.

There are many words to describe the week we had:

Wonderful: My mother and my two brothers flew up to Michigan to spend the week with us!

Adore: Those of you who know me know how much I adore my brothers.

Thankful: It is only by the grace of God that my mother and I have a relationship. I am so thankful for the way He continues to work in that.

Terrible :While they were on the plane en route to the north, we were in the doctor's office discovering that Clara, Megan and I all had strep throat and that we were all highly contagious until we had an antibiotic for 24 hours. Ummm...ok..... Have I mentioned that we are living in a small house? Highly contagious..... small spaces.... ugh...

Sad: Once their plane landed, I called my brother and suggested that they hang out in Chicago for a few extra hours. That would give our antibiotics a little more time to kick-in and would also put them here closer to the little ones bedtime, which would hopefully reduce their exposure. We, then, went all over the house wiping doorknobs with Clorox wipes and spraying Lysol. That delay was very sad for me because I was SO excited to see them.

Hopeful: When I woke up the next morning, I felt a little more like I belonged to the land of the living, so once we were all up, fed, and dressed (about 1:00), we got out and about a little.

Chocolate Overload: One of the first places we went was the South Bend Chocolate Company. That has become a favorite place to take visitors. As many times as we have been, my kids never seem to get tired of it. What's to get tired of? A tour about the history of chocolate , the room where they make all of the individual chocolate candies, surrounded by the smell of chocolate, making your own chocolate spoon out of the smoothest chocolate ever, touring the museum about history of chocolate...complete with the world's largest heart-shaped candy box, and then, shopping for chocolate!

The older of my two brothers, Thomas, my mother, Ellen, and my youngest brother, Drew

Alyssa and Emilie


Ready to watch the movie about the history of chocolate. This is where "Koko", the talking cocoa bean the little girls love so much lives.

Gigi and Emilie with the world's largest heart-shaped candy box. I wonder who ate all of that?

Meggie


I think I just gained ten pounds.

We all had stomach aches when we left there...but oh, it was so very yummy!

Inspiring: We all went to watch Clara do her therapeutic riding. I don't know if everyone else was as inspired as I was, but I never get tired of watching her ride a horse. That little girl inspires me every day.

Music: OK...not sure that was the right word, but we took them to The Woodwind Brasswind. That is a pretty exciting place for me. When I was in high school and college, if I ever needed anything music related, their catalog was the first one I went to. Instruments, cases, sheet music... you name it. So, it is so neat to go to the actual place where the company is after ordering from them for all those years. I had already taken Alyssa by there to pick up a band book, but we thought her uncles, who also love music, would like it, too. It did not disappoint. I wish I had some pictures of that, but honestly, at that point, I was so tired I cold barely stand up. I probably should have been in bed....

Adventurous: We took a trip to Shipshewana, an Amish town about 45 minutes from us. We got there later than we wanted to (you know...get up, get 7 people fed and dressed with one shower (one is broken)...and get out the door...it takes a while), but it was still very neat. I wish we could have gone and spent another entire day there. The part we saw was very 'tourist-y', but I know there are more authentic places, bakeries, bulk food stores, etc., if you get off the beaten path a little. No pictures for this outing either. I forgot my camera. Did I mention that I felt terrible? Oh..the count of people reminded me of one other thing:

Sickness: Yes, more sickness. By Wednesday, Jeff was sick, too. I assumed it was strep. Alyssa and Emilie had strep the week before, and the little girls and I got it this week. But it was worse...it was a virus. A virus that knocked him totally out commission until, well, he is still out of commission. On top of that, Emilie, in spite of being almost finished with her antibiotic from the week before, was getting worse. Her throat was better, but she was coughing like crazy...coughing so much I thought she was going to throw up. We took her back to the doctor, and I don't know officially what she has, but they did a breathing treatment, put her on a steroid and a new antibiotic, and prescribed her an inhaler and within a day she was much better. She and Jeff both missed Amish country. :-( It was a perfect day for the rest of to get out of the house, though, because those two needed their rest. They just laid around together all day. It is hard to rest if you are in a small house with 9 people. :-)

Selfish: As in, "I can be very selfish." On Thursday, my brothers left to go to Chicago. They wanted to spend some time there, and I definitely wanted them to be able to go have some fun, but selfishly, I wanted them to stay with us....but why would they want to? It was like a sick ward at our house! They did have a great time, though. They got back late in the day on Friday and I was able to take them, and my mother, on a tour of The National Ministry Center, the Camp, and I drove them past the beautiful Pastor's Lodge. That was exciting for me to be able to show them a little more about the ministry we are serving with.


Valentines!: Our family arrived on Valentine's Day, but in light of the previously mentioned 'sick' situation, we did not get to do all of our celebrating.  The girls had made Valentines cards for everyone and we had flowers for my Mom, but we had also baked cookies that we could all decorate together, and that did not happen until Thursday night. By then, we were all feeling much better, and things had settled down some. Thomas and Drew missed it (they were in Chicago), but I think my girls got a thrill out of decorating cookies with their Gigi.









Weird: Weird weather, that is. I wish I had taken a picture yesterday so I could show you the difference in our weather. Just one week ago, our backyard looked like this:



Now, you can see the grass, bushes, playhouse, and flower beds that have been buried in snow for two months.We had a few days of sunshine and weather in the 50's. While I did not complain, I thought that was very strange for Michigan this time of year. The girls were hoping to play on the playground at the Camp since it was so pretty outside, but when we got there, the whole pay area was a mud hole from the two feet of melted snow, and the wind was brutal.

Today, however, is supposed to be cloudy with a snow/sleet mix. Nice.

Exciting: Clara was invited to a birthday party by a little girl at church. I have been praying so hard that each of our girls would make friends, so this was a huge blessing!! These two hit it off on Clara's first Sunday there. They only live about three minutes away (literally), so I am hoping there will be play dates in our future.

Disappointing: While we had a great week together (as great as you can have while battling all the 'ick'), we ran out of time to do everything we wanted to do. I guess they will just have to come again. :-) Sadly, I dropped them off at the airport last night. I cried like a baby again, but this time, I was not on a train being gawked at by other people. :-) I was in the privacy of my very own van, battling for my life as I tried to make my way out of Chicago. (I need an "avoid the 'hood'" setting on my GPS. Very scary.)

So that was our week in a nutshell. Our first official visitors came and went. Strep throat came and went, lots of other "yuck" came and...well...almost all of it went. There were many blessings in it all. Family, new friends, and miraculously, Clara was the least sick of all of us. The only way I can explain it is that God protected her. Strep and an ear infection...(did I mention the ear infection ON TOP OF the strep?)... could put a Mito kid in the hospital. I am very thankful for this extra measure of grace this week. I am also praying very hard that my mother and brothers stay healthy.

On a different note, I want to ask you for prayer. My heart is so heavy, and has been so heavy for almost two weeks now, as I am hearing more about some mito kids and their families. One, in particular, has lost her battle with mito at the age of 3. I don't know her or her family personally, but could you please keep them in your prayers? It has to be terrible enough to lose your little child, but to lose her to this disease is to watch her suffer for a long time. I cannot imagine her parents' pain right now. Another family has a little daughter who is 3 years old (I think) and is suffering greatly with complications from the mito. They are fighting hard for her life right now, but the doctor's have said that they don't think she will survive the latest complication. I am praying for healing for this sweet girl right now. When you find out your child has Mitochondrial Disease, it kind of sends you reeling. You grieve and everyone grieves differently and to different degrees, but it usually comes in waves....the waves often determined by the 'new' piece of information you get from your doctors. There is one more family heavy on my heart who I have come to care very deeply about. They have a son who is about Clara's age, and his Mama is just struggling right now with all of the implications and unknowns with this disease and how it is going to affect his life now and in the future. For the sake of privacy I will not give more details, but when you pray for them, God will know who it is and the perfect way to comfort them.  Thank you for praying!

Hopefully I will blog again very soon about a new development in our household. It's good news, but it's going to have to wait. This post is long enough.

Have a blessed and healthy day!
Jeannie

Friday, February 4, 2011

Clarification

It seems I may have offended some people with my post about the snow. Please hear my heart. I was not trying to make light of getting excited about snow. A year ago, I would have done back-flips over 8 to 9 inches of snow. As far as that goes, I have dreamed of snow like that my entire life...I grew up in Georgia! It is amazing, however, what a few months can change.

Sometimes my sarcasm takes over. I was NOT making light of the snow...I was making light of the ferocious blizzard that was forecasted. We keep 8-18 inches on the ground at our house ALL THE TIME now, and it has been that way for over a month. If they had predicted normal snow, it would have been no bid deal. However, they forecasted the "blizzard of the decade...the perfect storm". It would been like your husband telling you he was taking you on a romantic getaway and then pulling into the Motel 6 with a McDonald's next door. You would still enjoy that time with him....it just wouldn't have been all that was built up in your mind. Ya know what I mean?

And so, my sweet southern friends, I have not forgotten my southern roots so quickly. I rejoiced from afar with you when you had your big snow. I am just a little 'over' the snow here. It's pretty, and all, but I am just ready for something different....either a blizzard or spring...but no more in-between!

Have warm, dry day where ever you are!

Much Love,
Jeannie

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Big, Scary "Blizzard"

I usually do not let myself get sucked into weatherman 'hype", but I must admit, the way the weather for last night and today was forecasted....they got me! I waved my southern flag high and went to the grocery store to get milk, bread, eggs, and marshmallows, and endured the near stampede from everyone else who had been sucked in.

Honestly, I was excited. I told some friends of ours just a few weeks ago that I would love to see just one blizzard. Last night, as we prayed with our girls before bed, we prayed for a blizzard and prayed that our electricity would stay on.....Yes. We want to have our cake and eat it, too. :-)

I wouldn't say that I was so excited I couldn't sleep, but I did wake up expecting a LOT of snow. Maybe I watch too much television, but in my mind, a blizzard is what happened on Christmas Eve on Little House on the Prairie at the Ingles' house when everyone had to spend the night there....Mary, Adam, Laura, Almonzo and the rest...because the storm was getting so bad. When they woke up the next morning and opened the door, there was a wall of snow so big, you could not see daylight. They had to open the upstairs window and use their snowshoes to walk to the upstairs opening of the barn to get their Christmas presents.

Expectations are a dangerous thing.

When I woke up, we had gotten snow....significant snow, and without the previously mentioned forecast, I would have considered it quite a storm. But a blizzard? No way! The first thing the girls said when they woke up was, "That was a blizzard??". So to answer the concerns of family members who have been texting and e-mailing to inquire about our safety....we are fine. It was enough to make the roads bad, and we did stay home today, but not a blizzard. 

I guess I am now a jaded southerner. It just takes a lot of snow to impress me. :-)

This is where the snow blew in  under the door. It was really neat before it had footprints in it. This is the same "porch-erator" where we keep our sweet tea when there is no room in the refrigerator. :-)



My kids call this house "The Monster House" because they say it looks like it has teeth.







She should have put that bike away! It is frozen into the snow...we can't get it out.


Our backyard


We did, however, enjoying having a 'snow day'. It is the first real snow day we have had since we have been in Michigan. We took the opportunity to unpack some boxes. It's kind of embarrassing how much I still have to unpack. I think at some point, I gave up. In my (perfectionist) mind, I thought, "This is a temporary home. What is the point of unpacking?" I think it also had something to do with being so homesick. God has since convicted my heart. It is going to be very important that my family feel at home here, even if we are only in this house for a few years.  I will confess that I am having a really hard time making it feel like ours, but I am praying daily that God would show me what needs to be done next. Right now, I am organizing. Next, I decorate. So far, I have not been inspired to do either, which is odd. I LOVE to decorate. That's okay. With God's help, it will all come together. My homesickness is SO much better. We are starting to make friends, and we think we have decided on a church, which totally changed my outlook on things. I guess mentally I have decided, "I can move in now. I do, after all, live here."  The mind is a crazy thing....at least mine is. :-)

I hope you are doing well and staying warm and dry, where ever it is that you live. :-)
Mr. Studly shoveling the driveway. :-)
Many blessings to you and yours. Have a great night!

Love,
Jeannie

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Back In the Saddle

As of today, Clara is back in the saddle again!! (That sentence is a little redundant, isn't it? My brain thinks in song lyrics....those are the words to a song. Sorry. Can't help it. Don't criticize my grammar...it's the composer's fault.)

Anyway, I am digressing sooner than usual. We are so excited to finally have Clara riding again. We have been so thrilled with the way riding a horse has improved Clara's balance and torso strength up to this point.

The ranch we are going to is called "Reins of Life" in South Bend, and it is wonderful!


While we miss Ms. Peggy and Ms. Laura terribly, I feel very comfortable knowing that we are, once again, in good hands. She is in a group with two other children, which is new for us, but she has two side walkers AND a thirteen year-old helper, so I am not worried about her getting individual attention. :-) As it turns out, one of the side walkers is the Executive Director, so she is probably qualified to help Clara. :-)
Clara with Ms. Peggy, Ms. Sharon, and Sam

Her therapist is Ms. Sarah, and as has been the case with every therapist Clara has had up to this point, she seems like a special kind of gal.

Clara and Ms. Sarah (and that hair that is driving me bananas!)

She spent the first 15 minutes or so grooming her (very bushy) horse, Hollywood. I had to ask if it was the breed of the horse that made it so bushy, or if all horses do that up here. It turns out, they all grow lots of hair in winter here. It is how they survive the cold. Georgia horses don't need all that hair. There are a lot of things we don't need in Georgia. :-)



 She rode for about 45 minutes. They did a lot of exercises that were disguised as games, and I was impressed with how much Clara remembered. I thought that after 4 months she would need a refresher on how to "drive" the horse, but she didn't. They told her to turn left and she pulled those reins like she had been doing it her whole life. Little Napolean was also not at a loss for commands to boss the horse to "Walk-On" and "Stop".

Treats for Hollywood.

As you can see, being on that horse made Clara a happy little girl.

All Smiles! 


Inside was warm and toasty...



Outside...not so much.





She was tired this afternoon, so there is an early bedtime in her near future, but otherwise, she is very excited! She couldn't wait to tell her Daddy all about it!

We are expecting an honest-to-goodness blizzard tonight, so I guess I should go knit a blanket or something. Blankets have become a bit of a fetish for me since moving to the frozen tundra. Jeff keeps making fun of me for wanting blankets all over the house, but I wonder how funny it will be when I stick my frozen toes on his bare legs....not that I would ever do such a sinister thing. :-)

Have a blessed night! I will update you on the blizzard.

Love,
Jeannie