Tuesday, April 29, 2014

David's IEP

Yesterday at David's school we had his yearly Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Meeting. We discussed the areas of growth that David has had this year and the areas that he still needs some more work in. David's strengths are definitely his social skills, reading fluency (dude is on grade level for fluency), using a calculator for math, and history.

Like a lot of children with Down Syndrome he definitely has a weakness when it comes to reading comprehension. He can read anything (truly) but has difficulty answering questions about what he just read. His desk organization is a little shaky, and he is still struggling with money.

Every year for this meeting I bring some snack foods for the IEP team. Our meetings are always down to business (teachers are so stapped for time) but we do take a few minutes to chuckle at our boy and his school antics. Bringing a few cookies, chips, and sweet tea is my very small way to say thank you to his team. They are amazing professionals.

This was David on the first day of school. His classroom teacher is greeting him with arms wide open ready to hug and greet him. I should have known right then and there that his year was going to be fabulous. Not only does this amazing teacher embrace him each day (literally and figuratively) but his entire school does. He is one blessed little guy to have some great professionals around him.

IEP meetings can be brutal. You basically sit around and discuss all the things that your child cannot do so you can put accomodations and services in place to help him keep up with his peers. He may not be on grade level for reading comprehension and his making change from a dollar is a little iffy, but David knows without a doubt how loved he is by us, the school, and Jesus.

After the meeting yesterday Hope and I went into the cafeteria to have lunch with Dave and some of his friends. One girl told me that David makes the children stop, hold hands at lunch and pray before they eat. My jaw literally dropped. He may be a little guy with an IQ hovering around mid-60's but David is one smart guy.

May God continue to bless David with the amazing professionals he has this year. May he also continue to use David to teach others about Him and remind us all how much we are loved.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunshine, Preschool Sunday, and Ball

This weekend was full-full of sunshine, sweet preschoolers leading worship, and lots and lots and lots of baseball. Sadly David's first Nascar event had to be cancelled because he came down with strep throat and the weather was full of storms and rain. Sweet Pops and GG saved the day by inviting him to the spring VT football game this weekend with a bonus sleepover with them included. All was well in Dave's world.

This weekend was full of lots of baseball for Kyle and a Tball game for little Hope. Kyle played in three travel games and one little league game. He surely loves his baseball!
We work really hard to keep our fair children shaded so Hope wore this cute little sunhat this afternoon at the field.

This morning at church was Preschool Sunday! Most of the preschoolers came to sing some precious worship songs. It was such a wonderful Sunday to see all those little children that I love so much sing praise songs for Jesus. Here is the display that we placed in the front of the church. On each of their handprints, we put what they most loved about preschool:)

The preschoolers even helped take up the collection:) Here are Hope and Olivia:)

Hope was so excited to sing with her preschool friends that she made her brothers pose with her for some pictures. This one of her and David melts my heart.

This weekend was fun and full. I am so blessed that I have a job that includes teaching praise songs to kids and welcoming them to church to sing. I love watching my boy play some competitive baseball. I love seeing Hope get dressed for her lunchtime Tball game at 7 a.m. and my heart was so happy and thankful that David got to enjoy a special overnight trip with GG and Pops. I am a little sunburned and tired, but so thankful for the blessings in life.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

Easter 2014 was full. Full of sweet children dressed up singing their hearts out to God, full of family and good food, and full of love for our Savior.

Here is sweet Hope singing with the children's choir during both services yesterday at church. I am so proud of how far this shy little love has come. I also love this sweet picture of our three before church. It is finally getting easier to get a picture with everyone smiling:)

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This is what pure worship looks like! My heart was overflowing with love for this little fighter who was truly in his element singing praise songs to God.

Hope was so excited to pick flowers for the cross at church.

We are so blessed at church with an amazing praise band led by Mr. Bryan. This is Casey-David's new BFF who plays the electric guitar and can really rock a mohawk.

Pastor Jonathan was VERY sick Sunday morning so Bryan (worship minister) rocked the whole service. Jonathan stood up and only by the grace of God was able to preach. Bryan is an amazing worship leader and our kids love singing with him. It was really sweet and special to see the kids singing along with the praise band to a packed sanctuary full of Easter worshippers.

Our family picture in front of the decorated cross with beautiful spring flowers. After church services we went to Radford to eat some of my Momma's good cooking and visit with family. It was a beautiful day for the kids to hunt eggs and play baseball at my parents house. Glory to God today and everyday!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Servant Hearts and Family Fun!

This Holy week has been a busy one for sure.  School let our early for our spring break on Thursday, and we have been on the go since. 

 I love this sweet little easter craft that Hope did at preschool.  We read so many easter books about Jesus on the cross that these preschoolers understand the story.  I thought this sweet handprint craft with their hands as the sun and their fingers painting the three crosses was so sweet.  Pinterest helps me come up with some of the best crafts. 
 Thursday when I picked up the kids from school for their early dismissal, we went back to the church to help serve others in the monthly food pantry distribution.  I am desperate to teach my children how to serve others.  Hope was a hard worker and took up their tickets, David handed out bags with their easter dinner in it and Kyle and his friend, Riley loaded boxes in the cars for the people.  Here is Miss Priss taking up the tickets. 
Sweet David handing out the easter dinner bags and the big boys hauling boxes. 
Thursday night was a special Maundy Thursday service at church.  I should have brought more tissues.  It overwhelms me what Jesus endured for me.  Here is the awesome setup at church for the service to remind us the Jesus was the sacrificial lamb for us all.  His body was broken for us.  Mike and I heard something profound on the radio today-"the worst day in history and the best day in history were only three days apart."  How true!

To celebrate a clean scan and to have a fun family day we surprised the kids with a day trip to Carowinds on Friday. 
These two were so excited!!!
Dave rode the big and fast wooden roller coaster!!!  We were so proud of him. 
After the fast roller coaster he took it easy on the carousel with his sister:)
Because David was apart of the Charlie Brown Christmas play at church he and Hope have fallen in love with Peanut characters.  They are everywhere at Carowinds and they met them all but Woodstock:)
David's expression cracks me up in this because he is so embarrassed that I am taking their picture:)  They did get to rub Linus blanket.
Be still my heart....I love this picture of my growing boys.  Family days without a schedule are precious to us and I am so thankful we put household to-do lists aside and had fun as a family.  Our flower beds will not win any awards anytime soon and our deck needs to be stained again, but we had fun together as a family enjoying the moment.  Cancer sucks, but it has helped us with our priorities and this Good Friday they included laughter, roller coasters, and family fun. 
Tomorrow we celebrate Easter and the fact that Jesus is truly alive!  We have an early morning tomorrow as Hope and David are singing O Happy Day and 10,000 Reasons at church in the morning with the children's choir.  They are SO excited to sing thee songs at church with the praise band.  Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Holy Week

I love Holy Week.  It breaks my heart to think what Jesus endured for me and for you on that cross, but it makes me fall more in love with him each year.  I know two years ago when I was watching my son suffer through chemo, Jesus' death on the cross touched me so much. 
Tonight everything on our schedule was cancelled due to the freak cold snap and SNOW we have seen here today?! Tonight I jumped at the chance to have all my babies home for the night and we prepared for Easter.  We made resurrection rolls for our after school snack and then we dyed eggs.  We do both of these things each and every year. 

I had to encourage my big boy to jump into the egg fun:) 

Here are Amber, David, and Hope making resurrection rolls.  I have made these the last two days at preschool and we are making them again tomorrow with all the afterschool kids.  They are a GREAT way to teach the Easter story and the kids are always amazed that Jesus (the marshmellow) is really gone after baking.  Plus they are super yummy!
I make them by taking a big marshmellow and rolling it melted butter and then rolling it in cinnamon.  Put it in the big part of the triangle of a crescent roll and roll it up.  (It does not have to be pretty at all, just seal up the edge really well).  Bake it for about 7 minutes and when they are cool, you can break it open and Jesus is gone just like the bible story.  They are super yummy too!

 I know I will miss this scene one day when my kiddos grow up.  :) 
We also baked cookies for Hope's easter party tomorrow.  Tomorrow is the last holiday party for the preschool and I am sad that this will be my last party as a Mom of a preschooler!  She is so excited about kindergarten and I am thrilled for her, but my sweet girl leaving me at FUMC preschool is hurting my heart a little. 
I am not a huge country music fan, but this song is my favorite during Holy week.  The beautiful thing about my life is that between my job as a christian preschool teacher and a volunteer at church in the children's ministry, I get to read bible stories like the Easter story multiple times per season.  The story of Jesus' birth at Christmas and the Story of his death and resurrection at Easter never get old to read and teach to children.  I am so blessed that my vocation in life includes praying and teaching kids about Jesus. 
The story of Jesus' death and resurrection always makes me think of his mother, Mary.  I know how hard it was to watch my baby boy endure chemo, I cannot imagine crucifixion.  I cannot imagine her sadness and agony.  This song touches me and I hope you enjoy it as well!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scans, Eggs, and Friends

We left Thursday night for Charlottesville for David's scan.  Even though Mike and I both believe in God's plan for our family, these scans never get easier.  I doubt they ever will. 

We checked into radiology at 7:30 a.m.  Because of a scheduling issue, David did not get started until 9 a.m. which was a long hour and a half without food or drink for David.  We were in a lead room so we could not get internet access so to take his mind off of it,  we were silly.  Here he is dressed at Dr. Dave loopy on Versed!! The medicine takes terrible but it really erases all the yucky memories of the day.  Love that stuff!
While he was gone from us for several hours for the scan, I participated in a radiothon for Children's Miracle Network.  I had slept very little Thursday night due to worry and stress, and I was worried about David because he had been gone for us for several hours at this point.  Several sweet friends said I sounded great but I felt like I was incoherent:)  It is SO HARD to put into words how much we love UVA children's hospital and our team of doctors, nurses, teachers, and other professionals that have blessed us along the way.  Whenever I am asked to share about our experience it is hard to put into words how awesome that place makes us feel with their professionalism, care, concern, and overall love for our David. 
We left the hospital mid-afternoon Friday to head home not knowing the results of the scan.  We knew his labs were stable from previous labs which is great, but it is always the LONGEST drive home waiting for the phone to ring.  Finally the phone rang and Dr. Belyea shared that the scan was clean!!!  Praise God!
The weather this weekend has been beautiful so we have celebrated the good scan news with ome fun!  Saturday we went to the church Easter egg hunt.  Our sweet friend Sydney went with us and here are Sydney, Hope and Olivia.  The last few years it has rained or been cool but not this year!  It was beautiful and held at a school playground that is nicely fenced in:) 
Here is Jonathan reading the Easter story to the kids before the hunt. 
This girl got into hunting eggs!  She was so cute running from egg to egg:)
My sweet three before church this morning.  My heart was so full singing Matt Redman's 10,000 Reasons this morning at church.  We have so much to be thankful for.  Holy Week is always so emotional for me thinking what Jesus endured for me so many years ago and that He is constantly working in my life now-even when I am not as a faithful to Him as He is to me. 
This afternoon after church we were blessed with some fun and fellowship with folks from our local Down Syndrome Family Group for our annual Easter Egg hunt.  Here is David with sweet Luke.  Our group started when Luke was a baby and he is seven now!  He is such a handsome dude. 
Kyle loves Angie so much!  This girl is always the life of the party! 
To really celebrate our clean scan last night with a few friends we went to the Drive In to see the new movie, Rio2.  Here are Hope and Sydney snuggled into the back of our car ready for the movie.  These girls had been to an egg hunt, play here at our house, and had a big day of fun!  They made it to the end of the movie and did not fall asleep:)
After all the fun of the weekend it will definitely be an early bedtime around here tonight.  Thank you dear friends for your love and support last week during scan week.  We are indeed blessed.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Ballgames and Bears

It is offically baseball season here in our household. Mike is coaching Kyle's baseball team and I am "coaching" Hope's Tball team. This past Saturday was Little League Opening Day and we had such fun!

David and Hope before her first game. I could barely stand the cuteness! For many years I have been helping Kyle find his cup, his heart guard, and get all his gear ready. This past Saturday was the first time that the only prep we needed was to match her hairbow to her uniform. She was so excited!!!

Another thrill for Hope this weekend was Adventure Bear. It was finally her turn to bring him home for the weekend from preschool. She took him everywhere with us-he even sat in the dugout!

Hope may love princesses, lip gloss, and ballet, but she was so excited to get out there and play ball! I love it!

She just wants to do everything right:) At one point she was rounding the bases and she splatted in the mud. I really thought her career might be over but she hopped up and was excited that I could use the special soap that I use on Kyle's white baseball pants to clean her clothes! I use Fels Naptha soap on Kyles:)

GG and Pops came down to catch both games and we enjoyed a Mexican lunch between games. Later in the afternoon Kyle had his first Little League game. Between his travel team and his Little League team he played five baseball games this weekend.

I tseems like yesterday Kyle played Tball and now this is his last year of Little League. I am stunned how fast time is going by.

Kyle pitched a little on Saturday which made him very happy!

I love this picture of Mike and Kyle.

Life is going at a pretty fast pace these days. David has his scan this Friday which of course has sent me into nervous mode. I know our God is bigger than cancer, relapses, and Creatinine levels. I trust in His plan always, but these never get easier. Thank you dear friends and prayer warriors for your prayers for us this week.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

God's Not Dead!

Last week our whole family went to see God's Not Dead! It was an AMAZING movie and though some parts of it went over Hope and Dave's head, they enjoyed it as much as we did. I highly recommend this movie and if you need someone to sing the theme song to you by Newsboys, then we have got you covered. Hope and Dave love it!

I am so thankful that I love and serve a living God and that He is living on the inside and roaring like a lion. This week has had its fair share of drama and stress, but as always God has gotten us through and reminded us that he is alive and active in our lives. I just need to remember to slow down so I can see His handiwork.

During David's treatment I saw his handiwork everywhere because 1) I was desperate for him to sustain me. I was praying, reading the bible, and worshipping him with all that I had out of a desperate need for him. 2) My life was at a much calmer pace. Our only schedule was David's chemo and we were quiet and still a lot while he rested. My calendar was not book at all during those months except for clinic and chemo. With those two factors I could see Him so clearly. That time was the most stressful and scary time of my life, yet spiritually it was a mountaintop experience because I felt Him so strongly. I will never ever question His presence in my life again.

This week has been full of baseball for Hope and Kyle!

Hope wanted a picture of her new bunny "Rapunzel" to make an appearance on the blog, so meet the newest furry friend in our family.  She just HAD to have the tutu to go with it. 

Hope had her first Tball practice this week.  She was so excited to leave her dusty cleats outside on the front porch with Kyle's.  She is loving Tball.  Her team is full of cute girls and I am the head coach.  Well let me clarify, on paper I am the head coach but thankfully another mom has a clue about baseball and runs the show!  I am so thankful for her!!

Tonight Hope had a little scrimmage against the other four year old team.  Here she is in the dugout getting ready to hit!  I can barely stand the cuteness. 

Big girl up to bat!  It is so cute to see Mike help me coach all these little girls.  Hope was so excited tonight that her brothers had to come to the field to watch her practice.  Saturday is Little League opening day and she has her first official game this Saturday!!!  I love seeing her excited about a new activity.  She still loves her ballet but we can now add Tball to her list.