Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Graham Day

The Stewart Family (minus Graham and McKenzie)

This past weekend we were in NJ for several days. We went for one main reason. Three years ago on May 23 Ryan's younger brother, Graham, was killed in a motorcycle accident. To say it was traumatic for our family is an understatement but no words truly suffice.

Ryan's family is and always has been very close. When this terrible event happened we all immediately gathered in NJ where it happened and where Ryan's family is from.

I was 8 months pregnant and on bedrest for preterm labor with Griffin. This made it a bit more difficult for us but there was no decision to be made. They have hospitals in NJ so up we went.

It was also Ryan's birthday which just made it more difficult for him and I think still does even though he would never say that.

This event has brought the family even closer together. I think we realize how precious each moment is. The silly things don't matter. Time together should not be wasted. It also has brought us closer to the Lord and to each other. I often hear about families torn apart by tragedy and I can't imagine how awful it must be to be going through such a terrible time and feel so alone. We must turn to each other in times of heartache. Isn't that why we have each other?

This weekend we got together to remember and to help each other deal with what still feels so recent. I think it helps.

I know it was something that I needed as well, with all the issues we have been dealing with. It is nice to be surrounded by people who love you.

I was so touched by the outpouring of love for Griffin this weekend. I watched him closely and I noticed almost everyone took a moment to share with him and let him know they loved him. I think most of it was subconscious. I think everyone has been thinking a lot about him lately and seeing him for the first time after all of this "stuff" happened it was a good time to share a moment with him. I am teary just writing this because I was so touched.

We really are immensely blessed.

We even got a good family photo out of the deal. That almost never happens!


So I have been thinking about the issue of vaccines lately. There are many many parents of autistic children who blame vaccines. Many of them say they had a normal child and suddenly they changed after they received the vaccine. I have read a lot of information on the subject and there is compelling information on both sides of the issue. I do have to say that a lot of the information against vaccines fights against their cause because it is written by fanatics who believe in conspiracy theories. Just give the facts in an educated manner and don't rant and rave to get your point across. Anyway, I digress.

Right now I consider myself a nonbeliever. I do not believe vaccines are the cause. I'm not saying that there are no children who have a bad reaction to a vaccine and it may cause problems in these particular children but I do not currently believe that it is the cause of widespread autism.

That said, as soon as there is a study that proves otherwise I will be right there fighting against it.

At this point I feel the diseases they protect us from are a worse threat.

Am I completely sure, no. Do I sometimes question this, yes. These are the times when I am happy to have the Lord to help me make these parenting decisions. How awful I would feel to learn that I made a decision to protect my child and ended up hurting them in the process.

I realize that this is a hot button issue and many people feel very strongly about this. I am not trying to get on a soap box but I do want to know what people think. So tell me, what do you think?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

To be thankful for

I saw this video today on a friend's blog and just had to post it here. Again, it is mainly for my benefit but hopefully you will like it too. Get out the hankies, it's a tear jerker.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How do I love thee

Ryan's birthday is today and I simply adore this man. Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in life and forget to do the simple things that mean so much. I know I do. Ryan never does. He is constantly doing little things for me and making sure that I know he loves me.

I am astounded at the wonderful way our children respond to him. He is a miracle worker. I credit Griffin's speech development this past year, which has been incredible, all to him. Ryan works with him daily and every time they have a conversation there is a learning opportunity to be had. He has amazing patience.

Ryan treats me like a queen and never seems to get upset with my many demands of him. I am always asking things of him and he never says no or questions why.

I find that the more we have gone through together the more solid our relationship has become. I know that it is common for couples going through trials to drift apart but we have been blessed to turn to one another when times are tough. This year he has been so strong and has really helped me get through some sad days.

I will never forget how good he was throughout my labor with Oscar. I had a natural childbirth that was long and painful and he was with me every step of the way. He held me when I needed it and was just a constant presence when that was what I needed. That experience and the subsequent experience of having a child in the NICU once again solidified our need for each other.

I still get butterflies in my stomach when I see him. Especially when I see him in my favorite shirt and tie combo. He is so handsome! He is always complimenting me and making me feel beautiful.

There are so many things I could write here about why I love him but that's not necessary. Just know that I celebrate this day that the man I will be with for eternity was brought into the world to one day find me.

I love you, Ryan.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fruity deliciousness

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
I just made these cookies with a recipe I found in Martha's magazine and my goodness they are heavenly! Try them, you'll like them.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cheesy, I know....

Ok, so maybe it's the pregnancy or maybe it's just because so much has happened in this past year. I don't know what it is but all I know is that every single time I hear this song, I cry. There is something that is so moving about the lyrics at this particular time in my life. I first heard the song on the radio about two weeks ago and I was immediately in tears. I had no idea who was singing, I just knew I had to have it.

Well, it turns out it is a song by Miley Cyrus. No, I am not a teenage girl but still this song moves me. And you've got to admit it, that girl can sing. Now I'm not going to become a huge fan of all of her music but I simply love this song and feel that it is so pertinent to what we are going through right now.

My favorite is the chorus which says:

There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm going to have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side

It's the climb......

It just gets me every. single. time.

Here is a video from you tube if you are so inclined to go and listen to the song. Music has a power that simple words cannot convey.


Oh, and ps, you can call me cheesy if you want to....;)


So I just had to take these pictures the other morning on the way home from dropping the boys off at the sitter's house. Isn't it beautiful here? This is in the Blue Mountains which is about 10 minutes away from our house. I love it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A bit frustrating

So today was a bit frustrating. I had early morning testing scheduled for Griffin with the IU 13 which is the local districts version of alternative education and special education. He was tested in several areas in order to see if he qualified for their special preschool program. He did not. He was borderline in several areas and I was told to watch for things but did not have the 25% delay necessary to get the treatment.

I was not happy. I mean, the kid is autistic and needs therapies and special schooling. They asked me what preschool program I had him enrolled in and I was like, "Hello, that is why I am here!" I don't know where to put him or what program is the best for him. I also am not sure that I can afford the best program for him at this time which is extremely frustrating for me.

I am looking into several options, one of which is free, to see what will work best for us. I am also frustrated because many of the programs that I would put him in are already filled for the fall. If I had known this would be an issue I would have signed him up much earlier but I just never thought I would be putting him into a regular preschool.

That said, I am happy that he is so high functioning and exhibiting such great skills but I need help with the behaviors that are inhibiting his learning.

So I am a bit frustrated but working through it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lake Tobias

Well, folks, we are planning another wonderful trip to Lake Tobias. This has become a late May ritual for us and I plan on keeping it that way every year. We use it as a birthday celebration for Griffin and this year we will also add Oscar to that since their birthdays are so close. You can read about our past adventures here.

I'm sure in later years they will have their own ideas about how to celebrate but for now this is it.

So, whoever is in the area and wants to join us come along. We will be getting there around 10am on May 30 and will so the safari ride after a fun picnic lunch with cupcakes for the birthday boys.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Griffin's report

From Griffin's report from his evaluation:

Griffin is a delightful 2 year old who was a pleasure to evaluate. Griffin was very cheerful, enthusiastic, and cooperative throughout testing. Griffin loved playing with toys, approached tasks with eagerness, was proud of his successes and smiled and laughed readily. Griffin enjoys a warm and affectionate relationship with his parents, who accompanied him to today's appointment. Griffin's parents describe Griffin as a very loving, affectionate, caring, happy, funloving, athletic, and energetic child who has an excellent memory and outstanding gross motor skills. Griffin's nursery teacher reports that Griffin is a very happy and friendly child who enjoys the nursery program.

I have read this over and over again. It is so wonderful to have all the good things about your child validated in such a positive way.

It is a good opening to the rest of the report which is, of course, difficult to read but I feel good knowing that she really liked and enjoyed Griffin and looked for the best in him before finding the problems.

This is something good for me to focus on when I am feeling blue.

Weekend in Maryland

Oscar looking good in Camie's graduation cap!

Camie, Ruth and Oscar after Camie's graduation!

Samantha and Evan looking at the fish.

Oscar found himself caught under a chair but didn't seem to mind.
What a doll.

Where to begin

So I'm not sure where to begin. I guess I should start off by discussing the reason for my hiatus.

About six or seven weeks ago we were at church. Our church is three hours long and the younger kids go to a class called the nursery. This is so that the adults can participate in their own classes without the stress of taking care of children. Griffin is currently in that class and has been since he was 18 months old.

In the previous weeks Griffin was having some behavior problems that I was honestly at a loss as to how to fix. It wasn't that he was being "bad", but that he was simply a bit out of control and did not listen to directions. Some of his behaviors were starting to worry me and I had talked with my sister, who teaches preschool, about what she thought I should be doing. I still was unsure how to proceed.

Back to the Sunday in question. This particular Sunday Ryan went to pick up the boys from their respective classes and went to the car. I had Oscar and we eventually found them there. As I got in the car Ryan was reading something and had a strange look on his face. He was given a checklist by the nursery leader. She said, "I hope this doesn't offend you but I think you may want to look at this for Griffin." It was an autism spectrum disorder checklist. I immediately burst into tears as Ryan told me that he fit many of the criteria.

At the time I wasn't sure why I was crying. Autism wasn't something I had thought of for him before so it was a bit shocking. The fact that others were thinking this of him was difficult. I also felt a deep sadness.

We later went through the list during a quiet moment and were amazed at the number of yes answers we gave. When we were finished we sat in silence for a moment. Then I said to Ryan, "Do you feel it?"

"Yes. I do."

We knew. That didn't make it easy, but we knew. That moment changed everything about our lives forever.

Since then it has been a roller coaster of emotions and stresses. It is constantly on my mind and I am always wondering what my next step should be.

We have had him tested and the doctors have confirmed that he has high functioning autism, which some call aspergers. Apparently they are the same thing. We are learning all the time.

We are now in the long and drawn out process of applying for all of the many different therapies and access to these therapies. I cannot believe how hard they make it to help your child. You would think we were asking for something much worse. I make several calls daily and have more paperwork than I could have imagined. I used to think buying a house was difficult and full of red tape, not anymore. Try applying for medical access. And you can't even think about getting the therapy until you get the access card which you can't get for 6 weeks. Can you tell I'm frustrated?

During this process we have also been dealing with the ongoing saga of Griffin's ears. He has had so many problems with his poor little ears. When he turned one it all started. That summer was awful! He got tubes the following October and for about 3 months all was well. Then he started getting infections again and we also learned that his speech was severely delayed.

We got the infections cleared up and started him in speech therapy right after his second birthday. He is speaking so much better now and really doesn't need to much actual speech therapy anymore. Then this year he started getting infections again. Sigh. Now they are saying that he has a hole in his ear drum that may not heal on its own and make take surgery.

We find out in June if he will be having the surgery to fix the hole. We are really praying that it won't come to that.

More news: So throughout all of this when I was honestly feeling pretty low and just trying to get myself geared up to take care of him we found out some other surprising news. We are having another baby. I am due in December and we were honestly quite shocked to find this out. We are happy about it although anxious about all the changes.

Literally 2 days before finding out I was pregnant I was asked by my supervisor at work to go full time. I prayed about it and we talked about it and it felt like the right choice. I need to work right now and this job is really good for having little ones. The kiddos are really only in day care about 15 hours a week and they honestly love the play time. I do miss them but as I am sleeping while they are there it doesn't feel so bad. I also really don't miss too much. We'll see how it goes.

Just today I found out I have placenta previa, which means the placenta has attached at the bottom of the uterus and is covering the opening of the cervix. Now this may not be an issue as I get further along. As the uterus grows it may move further up. They are just going to keep a close eye on things.

So, it feels like a lot. I have also been thinking about all the things that have gone on with Oscar this year. He was in the NICU for 2 weeks which, honestly, was very traumatic for me. Then he was on the apnea monitor for a few months. Just when we thought he was doing fine he was in the hospital in January for 2 days due to breathing issues. That was also very hard for me. He was also in the hospital in Nov for dehydration due to the flu. One week after he was released we were back in the hospital with Griffin getting stitches. I sometimes feel like Heavenly Father overestimates what I can handle.

Somehow you just get through it all.

I look at so many others and wonder how they do it. It seems like their lives are much more difficult than mine. So many great mothers inspire me to be better and to always remember what is important.

Keeping an eternal perspective and really seeing the bigger picture is so important and so helpful when going through these earthly trials. Does that mean I don't get sad and cry and wish things were different? Nope. I still do those things, but underneath the pain there is happiness and real true joy.

My life is glorious. I have a husband who is amazing. Have you seen this guy with kids? He will astound you. The students he teaches are so lucky to have him and we are so blessed to have him. He is a miracle worker with Griffin. He can turn him around in a second.

Our children are beautiful, good, kind, sensative, loving, righteous, and happy. I don't always know how it happened but here they are and they are outstanding. One more of these glorious beings can't be a problem but a blessing of awesome proportions.

We both have jobs that are stable and steady and we actually enjoy our work.

We have family and friends who care for us and pray for us. Just today I ran into a friend at the grocery store and she told me she put my name in the temple. I was so touched that she thought of me and I can so use those extra prayers right now.

The knowledge of the gospel. I can't tell you what a strength it has been to simply go to church and feel of the spirit and gather with fellow saints. I love it.

So there you have it. I have so much more to say but it is late and this is lengthy and I have more time to write tomorrow.

Good night.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


Ok, so I'm gearing up to really come back to blogging. I have been thinking about it a lot. I'm just getting all my thoughts together and then I'll be back for real.

I've missed it.

I'm not fat for my height. I'm short for my weight.