Sunday, June 28, 2009

Splashing into summer!

I love the smell of sunscreen! Not so much because of how it smells, but more for what it stands for: Summer. Sunshine. Days spent outdoors. Fun! And I love the benefits of sunscreen, too, although I think I appreciate those much more now that I am older than I ever did growing up.
It used to be cool to fry your skin in the sun to sport the best tan. Guess lots of us are not thinking it is so cool now that the sun spots have started popping out and the wrinkles are making their premature presence on our faces. But I have gotten away from myself. I really do love the smell of sunscreen, as well as all of the other classic smells of summer.
We have kicked off our summer by investing in a pool. Nothing fancy, just an Intex 18' above-ground pool. It seems like a good starter pool, and it is a good way to see if we get enough use out of it to invest in a nicer one. So far we have been swimming every day, so I guess we are on our way to bigger and better things in our future! The kids have loved it, especially Coulby, who is learning to swim with the help of a life vest. And what a great life vest! It is the perfect way for Coulby to be able to swim on his own without all of the safety risks. Now that does not mean I do not get in the pool with him. Of course I do. But it has really been great because he can stay afloat on his own and learn the basics of using his arms and feet to swim. Caroline has her own life vest as well, but is not quite as confident as her big brother, and mostly likes for me to hold her and walk around the perimeter of the pool with her.
Making the decision to buy the pool was tough because I was very nervous about having a pool with all of the risks it would pose to the kids. We really thought about it before we took the plunge (ha.). We invested in chain locks for all of the doors in the house so that there would be absolutely no way for Coulby or Caroline to slip outside to the pool unattended. It has been an easy adjustment to get used to all of the locks, although I do feel like we are living in some sort of compound. Now my nightly routine consists of locking the bolts and locking the chains x 4!
So the pool has been the highlight of the summer so far, but we have so much to look forward to! I do not know how the time has slipped away so quickly already, but the 4th of July is almost here, and that is always one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. It is such a classic summertime celebration, full of patriotism, good food and, most importantly, friends and family. I will be attending a family reunion at the end of July in Nashville, which will also be Caroline's first road trip. Right after that is our long anticipated beach vacation! And I guess after that the summer is basically over. Boo. We will be doing a lot of other little things here and there (like zoo trips, aquarium trips, lake trips, and get-togethers with friends). I just love the limitless possibilities of summer!
On another note, Coulby had a Hopkins appointment last Friday and we got to see our dear friends the Mooney's while we were there! Coulby and Corrigan had the hard job of enduring blood draws, but it was nice to share an appointment day. Both boys grew and pleased their geneticist and dietitian, which is always the goal! Coulby's ammonia was great at 26, although his amino acids revealed numbers that were a little too high, so we have set him back on track by decreasing his protein by the slightest bit. Coulby seems to be doing well, and overall, he had a great appointment. The high amino acids mean nothing more than a growth spurt that has come to an end, so nothing to worry about. It seems that the sun and swimming has agreed with him!
I hope you are all having a fantastic summer and getting into lots of fun! And don't forget the sunscreen! Oh that sweet smell!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Graduation Photos

I graduated...

(That is really not excitement...he was just yawning)

Pre-K down, K-12 to go!

My baby graduated...from pre-school, that is. Maybe not considered such a big milestone by most, but a HUGE one for my little man. I did not know if I would ever see the day that Coulby went to a public school, much less blossomed in one. I have watched Coulby grow into himself in the months since he started school, and it brightens my days.

I remember when Coulby was an infant and I declared that he would be home-schooled so as not to expose him to the germ-infested classrooms of the schools, just begging to make him sick and hospitalized. Most people thought it a great idea, although I must say that Coulby's geneticist and dietitian ALWAYS encouraged us to send Coulby to a traditional school environment. It would help with his socialization, they said, and would expose him to germs in order to build up his immunities. Coulby deserved the chance to go to a school with a teacher who was not his mom, and other students who would become his friends. I am so glad that my declaration to home school Coulby was not the path that I chose for him. I am glad that I gave him the chance he deserved.

I did not cry when the teacher introduced the graduating class of 2009 and the procession of boys and girls filed into the room, with Coulby bringing up the rear. I thought it dear when he spotted his entourage of fans in the back of the room and cried, "Look! There's Poppop! I wanna go sit with him." And I thought it very much in character that the only one whose hat was pulled so far down it almost covered his eyes was Coulby's. Guess who was the only one not singing along with the class? Coulby. He was more interested in sitting down, standing up, and waving hello to us as we tried to no avail to gesture for him to pull his hat off of his eyes and sing along. And that is Coulby. Always has been. You cannot fit him into a mold no matter how hard you try to squish and squeeze him in. Despite all of the times I find myself wondering how I am going to make it through Coulby's toddlerhood, much less his tweens and teens, I would not want to change him; mold him. I love that he is special, not to the point of being strange, but just special enough that everyone who comes into contact with him knows he is. They just know. That is Coulby.

This school year has been a mixture of ups and downs, but an overall success as far as I am concerned. I was so nervous to put Coulby into public school that I think my nerves made me cry more than watching Coulby walk into his classroom for the first time. Ashamedly, I anticipated the worst: germs=illness=living at the hospital during most of the duration of Coulby's first year of school. I was surprised...pleasantly. And reminded to keep the faith. Coulby was sick more times than I can even begin to remember during the past school year, and has been hospitalized for just two of those illnesses, one being metabolic related, and the other only to ensure hydration. TWO times! He endured the rest, including a stomach virus (which always landed him in the hospital as a baby) here at home. I got to take care of my sick boy from the comforts of home. Quite novel.

So way to go, Coulby! I could not be more proud of you! Of your accomplishments in school, but also of the person you are becoming. You are such a blessing and I know you will continue to touch the lives of everyone around you. My special boy.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Shack

If I am honest with myself, I can admit that there are many things that I would change about my past if I could. The age old, "If I only knew then what I know now..." comes to mind because I think we, as humans, all tend to carry some regrets. They sometimes weigh us down. But I have also allowed myself to believe that some of the things that I would change if I could are the exact things that have made me who I am today. Out of regret comes knowledge. And if you are smart, you take that knowledge and use it to better yourself and those around you. If I was to say that I have taken my own advice for every regret I have, I would be lying. But the many regrets that I have chosen to use for good have made me better. A better mother. A better wife. A better daughter. A better friend and sister and acquaintance. Just a better person. I know that my past is what brought me here today.

I cannot describe myself as an avid church-goer. Many Sundays have passed in which a seat sat empty where I could have sat to worship. But I will not say that just because I do not worship in a church I am any less of a servant of God than those who gather under one roof. I am a sinner and I am weak in His presence, and I have a long journey to become the servant that I want to be, but I am trying. The journey that has led me to the Lord started when I was a little girl, attending the Catholic church with my parents every Sunday. I have lost my way many times as I have grown into womanhood, but I somehow manage to find my way back.

I remember when my husband and I, dating at the time, started attending church with his mother on Sundays here and there. The pastor is one of those who grabs your attention with his speaking voice, not because it is loud, but because it has an air of importance. You feel like you are commanded to listen, and the sermons flow from him with such grace and passion that they wrap themselves around you. I was amazed at how touched I was by his sermons, never having experienced such a grip in the name of the Lord. I guess maybe that was a turning point in my life, listening to his words. I always felt like the sermons were written just for me. They moved me in ways I had never been moved before, and I think it was then that I truly realized the Lord's grace. I am sad to say that I have not attended that church in a very long time, too afraid to expose Coulby to all of the germs in the church nursery, but I also know that I have to face my fears and let God do the rest. I know I must hand my fears over to Him. That is one of the things I am working on.

Then my husband and I were engaged and the same pastor mentioned above was to marry us. He required that we do pre-marital counseling prior to the wedding, to which I was agreeable, but had no idea what it would entail and how much I would take what I learned and apply it to my marriage. Looking back, I really think the counseling was one of the key pillars in what my marriage to my husband is today. We are solid, devoted, loving and faithful, with the Lord being the third party in our relationship. There was a biblical verse that our pastor asked us each to read and interpret, and I remember my naive and ignorant interpretation. The gist was that a woman should serve her husband. I, feeling very strongly about equality of the sexes, responded by saying that I felt like this was an unfair burden for a wife to be subservient to a husband. Shouldn't each person in a marriage get equal satisfaction? If the pastor could have, I am sure he would have clunked me upside the head (as in the V8 commercials) to wake me up! Instead, he listened to me without judgement, then listened to my husband, and only then proceeded to educate us. These two naive, dare I say dumb, young lovebirds needed the guidance that the pastor then offered: Marriage is not about subservience or dominance, but rather getting your satisfaction from satisfying your spouse. That was the light bulb moment for me (aha!) in which I got it. It explained everything...not just marriage, but a relationship with the Lord, and with any others in my life.

Now I have said it many times before, but I must profess again that I truly believe that my two babies are true miracles of God. All babies are. Having said this, I can also say that having Coulby could have shattered any relationship that I had with God. When he was diagnosed with Citrullinemia at 4 days old, I wept and let myself stray away from the Lord to ask, "Why him? Why me?," only to return to him in the same breath and pray that He wrap his arms around Coulby and heal his tiny broken body. In all honesty, "why" has been the hardest thing to keep at bay since Coulby's birth, because some times were so hard and I felt such despair that I could not focus enough to see all of the blessings we have been given. And I do count my blessings. Every day. I know what could be with Coulby, and how fortunate we are. And I praise the Lord, for he has wrapped Coulby in his embrace and breathed His life into him. Coulby might always live with Citrullinemia, and there will be many moments when it will seem unfair for him to have to suffer, but I have learned that those are the moments when I need to turn to God the most. I hope I can instill that in my children as they grow.

Now I am finally at the whole point of this post. I am an avid reader, and usually read books that are passed on to me by friends and family. My mother-in-law recently brought me a book and I added it to my stack of "to be read" books. I was in the middle of a book at the time, and when I was ready to read the next one, the cover of the book my mother-in-law had brought me caught my eye. It was not next in line, but it sparked my interest, and I began reading it: The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. This book has touched me in ways that I cannot even describe. It is almost as if I could follow the story like it was my own personal journey to the presence of God in my life. It opened doors that I did not even realized I had closed. A true must-read for anyone questioning their faith or longing for a better relationship with God or struggling with any aspects of life. A must-read for everyone! Best stated by author David Gregory's review: "An exceptional piece of writing that ushers you directly into the heart and nature of God in the midst of agonizing human suffering. This amazing story will challenge you to consider the person and the plan of God in more expansive terms than you may have ever dreamed."

If you enjoy reading, or even if you do not, pick up this book! You will not want to put it down! It is written so well, intertwining the story of a man struggling with his faith after he suffers a tragic loss when his young daughter is abducted and feared murdered, with the divine existence of God, even in our dark world. Reading this book is an experience in and of itself!