Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My Son's a Genius!

This blog is slowly evolving to more of a "family" blog, which is why I'll be posting all kinds of thoughts I have and events we enjoy as a family. I'll let you know when/if I decide to change domains as it seems a little inappropriate to keep "Judah's News" the title and "Judah update" as the domain.

Anyway, yesterday, the boys were eating their pancakes for dinner. Tucker noticed that one was cut in the shape of a triangle and proceeded to look at it, look at me and say, "Triangle, three corners." I did not teach this to him; he is simply a genius, I'm convinced.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Smells Amazing!!

In my house, that is!
My house was just invaded, in a good way, by the Plack family! They came bearing enough food to feed us for a week (not kidding), cleaning supplies and willing, servant's hearts to clean my home from top to bottom, all while the two youngest Plack children played with my boys, leaving pretty much nothing for me to do but receive and be blessed!

I really can't figure out why I am the recipient of such exemplary care from others, but I have some theories. 1. I either look really pathetic on Sunday mornings and in need of help OR 2. I am so vocal (whiny) about how hard my poor life is (not really) that people feel the need to come to my rescue. Actually, I sincerely believe it is moreso that there are amazing servants who are a part of our local church, Chesapeake Community Church, of which I am so grateful to be a part!!

When I think about the various and countless ways my family and I have been served by members of our church, who really are not just co-members of the church we attend but also dear, dear friends, I think of this verse in Psalm 8:4:
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

When I am served, I become more mindful of God and His attentiveness to my life. This thought spurs me on to, in turn, grow in serving others and to do so with excellence. Isn't it amazing that we can be a part of making someone else more mindful of God just by serving them in some practical way? I would love to hear how you have become mindful of God through someone else serving you in some way. Please feel free to comment.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Place to Eat

This is not a typical post for Judah's update, but I'm going to try to 1. start writing more often here and 2. write about our entire family rather than just Judah. I haven't decided if I'm going to start an entire new blog for that purpose and 'ditch' this one or just continue to use this domain since everyone who reads it already has its address.

Anyway...I was hoping to take a little poll for my MD resident readers. Lawrence and I are going to be celebrating our Valentine's Day this Saturday as we figured if we didn't celebrate early, we probably wouldn't get to it with a new baby and his busy season at work.
I'm taking on the arrangements this year and asked what Lawrence would prefer for our dinner out. He just wants to try some place new (to us), preferably in Harford County. We have done many of the chains and some of the restaurants in Havre de Grace. I'm hoping I can get some recommendations from you. It doesn't have to be especially romantic, but I am also not all that interested in a sports bar either. We don't want to pay a lot of money UNLESS the food, service and atmosphere (probably in that order of importance to us) is worth it.

SO, any suggestions?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pray for Livi

For today's post, I'm asking if you could hop on over to this blog: to see one of the sweetest faces ever and to pray for this little girl, Alivia. She is daughter to my dear friend, Emily Haughery, and her husband, James. They have been walking through a very difficult season for almost a year with their daugther's health. They have done so with nothing less than amazing grace and strength.

Today, Livi will have her spleen removed which will be a 3-4 hour long surgery along with nearly a week's stay in the hospital if not longer. This will be followed by a bone marrow transplant sometime in the near future. Please pray for my friends, James, Emily and Livi, today, and also for their families: the Haughery's and the Allen's.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Back to the Patch

Just a mid-week update as I am too tired and in too much pain to do any housework right now! :) The pain is in my back, not my sinuses for now. I have still been getting a sinus headache everyday at some point, but it goes away and is very tolerable. So, I'm giving thanks for healing of my sinuses albeit it not complete just yet.

Judah and Tucker did so well at Judah's eye appointment on Tuesday morning. They both sat so patiently in the waiting room while I read them a book, and Tucker was so cooperative to sit in the stroller once we made it to the exam room, watching his brother get his exam. Judah did so well for his exam that Dr. Abrams and Jana, her assistant, were able to try out a few new tests on him. He let them put two different kinds of glasses on his eyes (not at the same time, of course) in addition to reading the letter chart twice, once for each doctor. He allowed them to put tape over his lenses to test out his vision in each eye individually and even let the doctor put on her funny head mask/lamp, holding up a thick lens to Judah's eye to see way into the back of his eye to his optic nerve. He was a champ even with her manually lifting his eye lids and taking a while to see what she needed to see. We were both grateful for the good look he gave her as it indicated that his optic nerves are both in great condition, looking healthier than they had the last two visits! Praise God!

It was obvious throughout different parts of the exam, however, that Judah's weak eye is only growing moreso. It was pretty sad to see him try to look around the tape covering his strong eye at the letter chart when it came time to see the letters with only his weak eye. And, he got most of the letters wrong with that eye, too. So, Dr. Abrams once again prescribed using an eye patch for 2 hours a day until further notice to try to strengthen Judah's weak eye.

The first day I put the patch on his eye, Judah cried for at least 20 minutes until the Holy Spirit reminded me I could pray. We prayed together, and Judah seemed to calm down after that. Putting him infront of a video probably helped a bit as well. The second day, it looked like it was going to be the same routine. Tucker helped me pray for Judah this time, and we once again marched down to our basement to watch a video. So, this may be our new after nap routine: Judah gets his eye patch (sticker or bandaid as the boys like to call it); we pray, and they go downstairs to watch a video.

Judah is incredibly resilient, and I am constantly amazed by my little man's ability and resolve to cooperate with all that he's put through. I truly believe it is already an evidence of God's grace and mercy on his life. It can be difficult as his momma to put him through so much, but I'm learning right along with him that God is good and has our best in mind even in the most trying circumstances. There are many days, though, that it is about choosing this mindset as it most certainly does not come naturally to our flesh to think that way.

With that said, let me invite you into the latest with Judah and that involves his growth. I've mentioned his growth before in these posts, but I'm bringing it up again because we recently had him measured again and saw that he is still dropping off his growth curve. It was discouraging at best, but again an opportunity to pray, to ask others to pray and to trust God. That may sound so cliche, but it really is how we are being graciously led by the Lord through Judah's circumstances.

We are going to be following up with Judah's neurologist about this who will most likely recommend we begin testing him for growth hormone deficiency. This seems to be a trend that researchers are finding among Sturge Weber patients and so, Judah's risks are higher. To my knowledge the tests involve some bloodwork, an x-ray of his hand and then a more invasive test where they try to artificially stimulate the pituitary gland to release growth hormone and watch to see what it does. How they do this exactly, I am not sure. I just know that it means more appointments, needles, time spent with "white coats", waiting for results and potentially, a daily shot of growth hormone for Judah if the tests prove that he does indeed have a deficiency.

Please be praying that Judah will grow on his own, that there may not even be a need to begin testing at all. Pray that God will move circumstantially on behalf of my little man (no pun intended!). Pray that if God knows it to be better for Judah to undergo testing and even receive those daily shots of growth hormone, that He will also provide grace to Judah and to us as we adjust our expectations again regarding all that Judah's SWS will mean in our daily lives.

This issue of his growth will be an ongoing prayer request for the next couple months as I imagine it will take a good while before we can pursue testing and/or treatment given all the changes that are about to occur in our lives (a.k.a. BABY #3). I will be sure to keep you informed to any appointments or developments regarding his growth.

Finally, I have my next OB appointment tomorrow. I will let you know how that turns out, but I'm expecting everything to be fine as there has not been any less movement on the baby's part and no impressive contractions to speak of.

Monday, January 15, 2007

On The Mend

Given I've tried all man made forms of treatment available to me at this point in my pregnancy to clear up this sinus infection, I'm left to a supernatural healing from God to fully clear it up. Of course, I know that ultimately God is my Healer, and I'm learning to trust His wisdom in the timing of prolonged suffering, no matter how small or great.

Symptomatically, I am feeling a little better and definitely functioning more than I had been for a couple weeks. Now, however, I am fighting against the exhaustion late term pregnancy brings along with caring for twin 2 yr. olds and a husband entering into the busiest season of the year at work. Consequently, I am learning to move at a much slower pace these days, to not put as much on my to do list and to know at the beginning of the day that the end of the day will not have brought as much productivity as I probably would have liked. It's humbling to be certain, but it is teaching me in even more practical ways how to rely upon God's sufficiency and what is really important, worthy of my time, energy and thoughtfulness.

One of the things I am finally trying to turn my attention to is the arrival of our new baby. I'm hoping to at least think through this week what needs to be done before the little one comes and maybe by next week, I'll be ready and motivated to begin knocking off items from that to do list.

For this week, I am taking Judah to his opthamologist for a routine eye exam. Judah did really well with the last visit; I'm hoping to see a repeat of that. Also, my husband continues to be concerned that Judah is not using his one eye as well as the other, and so I will be raising this concern with Dr. Abrams tomorrow. Additionally, we haven't been giving Judah his eye drop for several weeks now, and I'm wondering if it's having any kind of impact on his glaucoma status. It would be great if Dr. Abrams was able to check his pressures tomorrow with the tonopen. You can pray for that; although, I'm not expecting it to happen. Also, I'm going to be taking Tucker with us to the appointment as well. Please pray that the boys are well behaved and that I'm able to gracefully handle the both of them in the waiting room as well as the exam room. **I will be taking lots of their favorite snacks to be sure!

Friday, I'll go for another visit with my midwives. My visit last week confirmed the baby's head is down, ready to go and that I'm 50% effaced and 1 cm dilated (which any of us who have had babies know that means nothing about when I'll go into labor).

Thanks for all your prayers for us.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sick Momma

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for me and my family over the last week or so. It seems all the men in my home are doing much better with the cold symptoms. The boys still have a bit of a cough when exposed to the cold air, but overall are doing rather well. And, Lawrence reported to me yesterday that he's pretty certain he's over the cold, too. I, however, am still battling a nasty sinus infection. Today, I'm on my 7th day of a 10 day dose of antibiotic and am not feeling all that much better; although, I can breathe through both nostrils, something I'm giving thanks for often throughout my day! I did call my doctor today to see what she wants me to do at this point. I would appreciate your continued prayers for health, especially that I could recover some strength before I'm called to push this baby out! :)

The boys have been doing some really cute stuff lately, some really naughty, exasperating things as well, but I won't concentrate on all of that.

Today, while at Target, Judah pretended to lay his head down and said, "night night. Sweet dreams." I have no idea where he picked that up from. Perhaps I've said it and just forgot that I said it, but it certainly is not a routine thing that I say when putting them down to sleep.

And then, as we were checking out with the cashier, Judah looked at her and said, "bye bye. See ya later alligator." Obviously, this is something many little ones learn to say, but I have never taught them this phrase. Their little minds are sponges, and they must be picking things up quickly from the few videos or TV programs we allow them to watch. Maybe they're getting it from Sunday school, too. I don't know. But, it signifies to me that my little babies are growing up, already being influenced by people and things other than Lawrence and me.

I had a laser treatment scheduled for Judah this week but am trying to re-schedule for another time this month as Lawrence's employer changed insurance companies as of the first of the year and our information was not yet processed. I finally called the insurance broker today and was able to obtain our ID# so that I can hand that over to my OB's receptionist at tonight's visit.

I'm 36 weeks and counting. I imagine my midwives will want to see me every week now, but I'm hoping I can spread it out a little bit longer than that. I'm anticipating this baby will come later given I went to 40 weeks and 2 days with the twins and still had to be induced! I'm almost hoping the baby comes late as I am convinced of something a friend told me while I carried the boys, "Easier in than out". I didn't agree with her at the time because all I knew was the discomforts and hard work of being pregnant. And, then the boys came out, and I understood exactly what she was talking about.

So, with that sentiment, I'm praying the baby is comfortable and will wait as long as is good for her and me to come out. :) Additionally, I am still nowhere ready in any way to receive this little one into our world. Please pray that God would make a way for us to prepare for this baby's arrival: the physical aspects of laboring, delivering and receiving a baby into our home as well as the emotional and spiritual component of receiving this gift from God.

Thanks for your prayers and I'll keep you up to date as much as I'm able to sit down and type it all out.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

'Tis the Season to be...


It seems many are sick right now, including our entire household. Is there ever a 'good' time to be sick? Of course, we would all say "NO!" But, there certainly are bad times to be sick, aren't there? I was folding laundry on my bed today with some random thoughts running through my mind that I'm going to seek to redeem right here in this blog entry.

I was thinking through a few of the untimely illnesses our family has experienced in the past couple of years. Here's a brief chronicle of them:

1. Christmas, 2003: I was about 2 months pregnant with the twins. We were scheduled to have 30 of Lawrence's extended family to our home for the first time for their annual family Christmas gathering. I came down with a nasty stomach virus, the kind that comes out both ends! I was miserably stuck in bed, with barely enough energy to get to our bathroom only 3 feet away let alone entertain Lawrence's entire family!

2. Boys' first birthday: We found ourselves in the ER with Judah having his 2nd asthma attack within 3 months. Only three days later, August 6th, 2005, was my brother's wedding in Pennsylvania. Wonderful friends of ours who have had more than their fair share of untimely illnesses (thank you for being our constant inspiration, Jason and Laurie!) courageously volunteered to do nebulizer treatments and count the boys' respirations for the several hours we would be up in PA for my brother's wedding. They really didn't want us to miss it. So, as nervous a mother I was (am), I left the boys, and we headed for the PA border. I think we made it about 5 minutes from home when I called to check in only to hear that Tucker was now the one hysterical and breathing way too fast. We rushed back to the Reyes' to determine that Tucker was having his first asthma attack. Needless to say, we missed my brother's wedding that day!

3. Probably the one that takes the cake happened this past May, 2006. We found ourselves at Hopkins' Emergency Department to follow up on some concerns Judah's neurologist had regarding potential elevated Intracranial pressure. Judah had to be seen at the ER in order to have a CT Scan and lumbar puncture done promptly to determine whether or not he indeed had elevated ICP. Judah hadn't eaten all day because of all the tests, and so when we got home, we gave him as much food as he would eat, knowing that he'd have to fast for the next day's MRI. Over night, Tucker and Judah both began to throw up within hours of each other. Around 4 a.m, I started to not feel so well. It wasn't very long after that, we determined a stomach virus had found its way to our home. Lawrence was the only one left standing (that day anyway!)
We weren't sure that Judah would be allowed to undergo the anasthesia needed for his MRI given he had been throwing up and was sick. But, under these circumstances, the docs told us to bring him in for the MRI anyway.

Lawrence would have had to take Judah by himself to Hopkins apart from his brother, Sam, volunteering to go with him. Somehow, Judah got through the MRI but threw up a couple times in the car on the way there and home again. Meanwhile, I was sick at home in bed with no ability to take care of the "other one". So, yet another dear friend, De Neumann, came to our rescue (as she has so many other times). She came to care for me and my son, Tucker, that day with no thought of her own health being put at risk.

I recovered from the stomach virus along with the boys just in time for Lawrence to get it! A couple days later, we were in the hospital for Judah's brain surgery.

These are just three vivid recollections I have of untimely illnesses going through our home, but there have been many others. It seems every time Lawrence and I have planned to go out of town, the boys have gotten sick, usually with asthma complications which makes it so difficult to leave them with anyone as asthma can be so touchy if not treated right.

In my flesh, I have usually come upon these incidents and questioned God's timing or at least grumbled about it. But, today as I considered these untimely illnesses with redemption and God's faithfulness in mind, I realized just how timely they were. Had these illnesses come at a "better" time, I would not have known how well loved and cared for we are by so many of our friends and members of our church body. I would not have been able to see God's power rest on us, being made perfect in our very obvious weakness. I would not have been able to see God mercifully sustain my family members when I was incapable of doing so on my own. There would not have been opportunities for others to pray on our behalf and see God come through for us with tangible provision when it looked like there would be none. I would not have had the opportunity to be humbled by the awareness and experience of how finite and weak I am and how infinite and strong God is. I would not have had my grip on the pleasures of this world and our temporal life loosened had it not been for these untimely illnesses.

So, today, as I am sitting in my "sickbed" once again, I am giving thanks for God's perfect wisdom and timing in granting us seasons of sickness. Thank you, Lord, that truly You do work all things together for our good and your glory. Help me to remember this if I don't experience relief soon from this current illness or for the next time illness or trial hits our home in an "untimely" fashion. Help me to have faith in Your faithfulness, God.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!


Our appointment with Dr. Tufaro was uneventful. He looked over Judah's MRI's from last May, inquired about Judah's medical history and took a brief look into Judah's mouth. Apart from the purple exam gloves, which Judah hates and the doctor kindly decided not to wear, Judah did great with the visit. Dr. Tufaro requested that when Judah has his annual CT Scan for his brain shunt done, I ask to have the technicians take a few scans of his entire face to include Judah's jaw so that Dr. Tufaro can better assess when/if surgical intervention is needed. It's not possible to predict how the Port Wine Stain will affect Judah's bone growth, so it's a wait and see and pray that God will mercifully spare Judah of any more surgeries.


We traveled to Pennsylvania to spend Christmas with my family this year. Once again, my parents put out a lavish spread of food, no small feat with as large of a family as I have (7 children, 5 in-law spouses, 7 grandchildren and always a handful of friends). It is such a labor of love on my parents' part as they typically have a full breakfast, lunch and dinner all planned out for as many days as all of the kids are home. We go from one meal to the next, resting in between to either sleep or play games.

The boys definitely understood the opening presents thing this year, particularly Judah who thought anything wrapped was intended for him to rip open. They are now enjoying their many new toys, and I am trying to figure out where to put all the new stuff!

Unfortunately, we all got sick with head/chest congestion over Christmas and this past week. The boys seem to be faring better than Lawrence and me. They have run some low grade fevers throughout the week and have had a few bad nights/naptimes of sleep, but now seem to be doing better. I, however, cannot remember experiencing a cold this miserably. Sparing you the detailed sketch of all my symptoms, I think after 7 days of enduring it and trying every home remedy including sitting over a steaming pot of hot water, I will be going to the doctor tomorrow, God willing, to find out if my symptoms may be an indication of something more serious than a cold that requires more intervention than I've already tried. Lawrence was the last to get it and is trying to fight it off with major doses of zinc. We'll see how it works for him.

Lawrence took vacation days this last week of the year, and while we had quite a different agenda for his time spent at home, we are both grateful that he has been available to help me care for the boys and keep our home running as smoothly as possible. He has been quite amazing, running errands for me, staying on top of caring for and disciplining the boys, fending for himself for meals and his needs as well as ensuring that I have all I need to be as comfortable as possible while I get through this cold. I don't know that I would be as willing or able to take over his responsibilities in his domain, the workplace, if ever required to do that, as he has been in mine this past week!

He has been wonderfully aided by his parents who are always ready and willing to step in and help us whenever the need presents itself, which in this season of having young children has been quite often! Lawrence's parents have prepared and dropped off a box of food for the last two days for us, and graciously put off celebrating Christmas with us until we are feeling better.

Baby Update:

Last but certainly not least, baby #3 is soon to arrive. Only 5 weeks to my due date! This baby rolls and kicks like crazy which is so reassuring, especially in the last several days when I've been eating very little. We are not mentally or physically prepared to receive this baby yet, but trust that when the time comes, he/she will find his/her way into our home and hearts quickly.

We have decided to try for a VBAC and would greatly appreciate your prayers for this. I desire to proceed with "faith in God's faithfulness"(as my friend, Karen, put it the other day) rather than run to fear over all the things that could possibly go wrong or be difficult as I am too prone to do. Please pray that I would spend the next couple weeks filling my mind's meditations with remembrances of how faithful God has been to me and my family thus far, anticipating that he will again be good to us.

Thank you for all your prayers on our behalf! We pray that in this next year, you will come to know God's goodness and care for you in greater measure through His Word, His Abiding Spirit and your circumstances, too!