Monday, April 30, 2012

Another Baby!!! (cow)

It's another girl!!!
 The vet and I PULL!!!

 Baby out!!

Beth meets Cookie.

 Proud rancher Ainslee.

 Ainslee with Vivian, the first calf....from Saturday.

 Garrett hanging around to watch.

 Another photo of Saturday's calf Vivian.

Ainslee and I doctoring Cookie's belly button. 

And Garrett watched most of the birth unfold and decided her name should be COOKIE! And surprisingly, Ainslee, mom of the whole operation, agreed!!
Here are a few pictures. Oh, and this baby wasn't so cooperative! After feeling around some, I thought she was trying to come out head first with feet behind...very bad....but she was actually hind feet first. SO much for my blind anatomy in the womb. I better get better at that! We are thrilled it is another baby girl!! So no one goes to market this year. They all stay here to go on to be moms. What joy!!!! Ainslee is on cloud 9 as all four of the cows we now have are hers. She will show pairs at the fair this summer: each mom and baby together.
Garrett actually pet the first heifer, Vivian, today. He shows very little interest in animals, so it was neat that he wanted to watch some.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I'm a Great Grandmother!!!...warning....bovine birth photos!!

It's true!!! I am a great grandma!!! Ainslee bought two Hereford heifers to show last year, and then she had them bred last summer. One of them calves yesterday, so Ainslee named me Great Grandmother!!! I never knew I would have this title at age 37 years of age!! I am honored! Both cows are due to calve on May 8. We can predict pretty closely since they were artificially inseminated. So when I looked outside while preparing Garrett's mito cocktail doses for the day and saw that the cow, Adelaide, was holding her tail up in a strange way, I went to check on her. Sure enough, there was a tiny bit of her bag of water showing, and she was arching her back every few minutes. I woke Ainslee, but she was NOT impressed with the slowness of the process and said she was bored!!! Ainslee went back out a half hour later and came sprinting back up the coffee-wine path from the bunkhouse/barn to the house. She was screaming, "The baby's head and front legs are out!!! COME NOW!!!!" So I shot this first photo before we got too close. Momma cow was a trooper, a first-time mom. She diligently cleaned the calf and was okay with us being around. Not all moms, cow or human are like that!!!! We had a designated calving area we had kept the cows out of so it was clean and dry. We had 3 bales of clean wheat straw to bed onto the ground so Baby would be kept clean and lessen risk of infection. SO when it got close we planned to lead the cows to the clean area and make them all cozy and clean. But none of this was to happen OUR way! We thought we had all morning to wait for the baby. But nope! While Baby was half out, Ainslee ran to grab some straw to place under the calf so we could keep the cord clean until we could treat it with Betadine. Adelaide had picked a poop and mud area to lay in, of course. When Ainslee returned and spread the straw, I said, "Ainslee, let's pull the calf's front legs a  bit to get her the rest of the way out and onto the clean straw. Ainslee was so excited and possibly overwhelmed that instead of grabbing one of the calf's legs, she walked behind me and while I picked up legs, she pulled me back by my waist! It was so funny!!! So here are photos of our first calf born on our place. She is named Vivian after our dear friend Lisa's little girl, Vivian, who went to heaven too soon. Vivian the angel and the heifer have the SAME BIRTHDAY!!!! Ainslee made sure I called Lisa to be sure it was okay to name the heifer Vivian, and Lisa was delighted to get this news on her Vivian's birthday. 

We still have one more cow, Beth, to wait on. Maybe she will hold off until her due date or do like Adelaide and have an easy, daylight birth that meshes with our schedule just so.......what good cows!!!

And Garrett says the calf is not cute so it needs someone to come get it!!! He just isn't ever really impressed with animals....sigh.

But Ainslee is on CLOUD NINE and is so proud of her first calf! Now we are holding our breath that the next calf is a girl, too, so there will be many, many more babies on the way in the coming years!!!!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Seeing Changes.....Waiting

The past month has been tough for our little man. While at his half day special ed program, Garrett is learning more like his alphabet, sounds, his address, phone number and such, he is declining in just his total emotional togetherness. And it is getting concerning. Yesterday we saw his developmental pediatrician and mentioned Garrett's increased anxiety, screaming, ticks, etc. The doctor thinks he is just undergoing growth in the academic things but then struggling more emotionally as his brain energy is being depleted with the learning. He thinks we can adjust one med from twice daily to the total dose in the morning to help with his anxiety. So no overall increase but a change in dose time. We hope it will give better coverage throughout the school hours. For the entire year of school until the past month, Garrett did his very best there!!! His teachers were so surprised when I came for a school morning for a party and we stayed past his usual dismissal time and he started screaming about something. They had NEVER seen him lose it....SERIOUSLY????? Yep! Seems they get his best, and don't get me wrong, I am THRILLED he does well there! I can send him with no guilt, knowing they love him and that he enjoys it there completely. He has had his quirks at school, sure. He has just started being able to walk through the gym for a shortcut to class after lunch. PE freaks him out with the noise in the gym, and sometimes the lunchroom is too loud for him. He loves music class!!! But starting 3 to 4 weeks ago, his school notebook with his daily info sheet has said his anxiety is increasing, he is having ticks and stimming lots, and he sometimes just checks out on them and ignores things. Not the usual for the past year. I was getting worried, and we moved the developmental pediatrics appointment early by a month to yesterday, but still no real fix.

We have re-instituted naps to the best of our ability. He will easily sleep 2 hours, and I think his little body is being challenged with energy now. Mito is a disease of energy crises, and knowing this, we can try to increase his rest, thus hoping for an increase in brain energy to help him hold himself together better.

Today he came home from school with his daily info sheet note saying that the class had a session about the earthworm, and had a real worm in class. Apparently it totally freaked Garrett out, and he certainly didn't touch it, but it also wore him out, I think. I put him in my bed and stayed in bed to get him to sleep. He slept from 1:00 until 6:45, and I have no doubt he will sleep all night also. He is just beat. Funny thing is that like Mito has been in him for years, it isn't visible in him walking worse or dragging physically, but it is all in the brain and how he deals with things.

So tonight I find myself at the edge of the waterfall paddling upstream furiously in my mind on one hand while on the other hand knowing in my heart that this change could very well be a sort of regression or beginning of a downturn in his health. I described it to Garrett's developmental therapist like this:
We know that at some point Garrett will go downhill. It is like driving on a cloudy day and learning that there is a storm with heavy rain ahead. You keep driving because you have to, and as the rain begins, you continue, wondering if what you are in is the bad stuff or if it is yet to come. I am lame on analogies tonight, but that sort-of says it. It is coming. We do not yet have a way to stop it, and every little thing makes the worry stir. And make no mistakes, he looks good physically, and he is getting taller....and cuter....but this emotional/mental stuff is HORROR. I feel like I am parenting a person after surgery who is on morphine! He makes so little sense sometimes with the things he asks for and then changes his mind and then reverts back to the original thing he wanted. It is baffling and exhausting from a mental standpoint for everyone in the house.

And then there are our girls. Addie and Ainslee have each fallen into crying times in the past month, coming to me with,"Mom, why does it have to be so unfair? Why can't he just play and not change his mind and not scream at us for saying a word he thinks isn't the right one or singing a tune that HE doesn't dictate?" Wow. I try to explain, but they have heard it a hundred times. It still doesn't take away the feeling of complete loss of control or normal in our home. It is hard. And I pray God keeps his word that He gave me when He once told me the girls would be better for this experience with Garrett. I can only have faith in His promise!!!

And in the end, we will still lose this little guy young in life, and we will have to pray we balanced it out well and can focus on the good and not the bad. I pray we run the race the best we can for Garrett's sake and our own so we can reflect on his time here and know we did all we could and loved all we could.

Thanks for listening!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Beautiful Ainslee and her Angry Love Birds

Last week we tried to make these sweet rolls from a can into heart shapes, but then we took it a bit further! And yes, they tasted yummy!!! Icing for the canned rolls, M&M's and Twizzler feathers on top!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Photos, Finally!

 Addie and the man of her dreams, Big Red.

 Addie and Ainslee being "framed"

 This was Addie's idea and oh so cool!!

 Got to have some serious poses she says!!

Garrett and "his Shelby" chillin' with Mickey and Minnie!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Crashed My Fluffy Post!!!

So.....yeah......that last post that was all cheery and optimistic.....the one about God Himself shining through my son?????Well, apparently the wrath of Satan was unleashed on us all tonight!!!

Ainslee had gymnastics and Garrett was able to stay home with his developmental therapist ( I LOVE YOU SHELBY!!! ), so Addie and I dropped Ainslee off for her 2 hour class and then hit the YMCA for a workout together. It was so much fun!! And by the way, I have not EVER weighed as much as I do now.......except well into a pregnancy. So working out has to come back into my life.......and not eating like an idiot would be a good idea too!!! We came home to find Garrett doing great and so I left for a few minutes to run a quick errand down the street, very nearby, with the girls in charge of Garrett. In the 12-15 minutes I was gone, Garrett had a nice size poop and his pants and on the floor of the school/office/play room upstairs. I get home to my precious Addie cleaning the carpet. Love that kid. Of course by then Ainslee was 25 minutes into her 35 minutes shower....another whole post!! I take over the scrubbing and the girls begin to get dinner ready....leftovers. Addie had a diaper on Garrett so that was good.....until Ainslee yells "M-O-M!!!!! Garrett has poop running down BOTH LEGS!!!!!" I had JUST gone downstairs after finishing cleaning the first round when there he is back upstairs, poop everywhere flowing like a waterfall out of his diaper, down legs, between toes, and then oozing onto the carpet!!! For his personal care worker, RaeAnn, he had pooped on the potty a couple times, but she has him sit every hour. But it works for her!! Not for me!! Not sure if RaeAnn has magical timing or the poop comes on so quickly that he cannot even begin to go toward the bathroom.

So now there's poop on his jammies, the stairs from me carrying him down, and the carpet upstairs. Did I mention this same thing happened last week? THREE HUGE puddles of poop on the same poor carpet! And I thought my dog occasionally peeing in the house was a huge carpet-killer.......WRONG!!!!!

I cleaned him up and had to almost pray about the decision to either trash the PJ shorts or clean them. I washed them. I put Garrett in the bath for what I call a "business bath," which means all business, get in, scrub,get out!! Then he said, "Mom, my pee pee almost came out in the bath", so I try to get him to sit on the potty. He protests but I assure him he will sit. He kicked and screamed and pitched a huge fit saying he didn't need to, but while he was flailing on the potty, he started peeing on the seat and the floor. I very calmly told him to please sit still and finish but he pitched an even LARGER fit screaming that he didn't have to. I knew he did, so I sat on the bathroom floor, removed anything he would grab and throw, and just sat and stared into space. He was snorting snot all over the place, crying and all, but I KNEW he had more pee and that I had to stick with it. He finally did pee more and was allowed off of the toilet. WHEW!!!!

At this point it had been an hour to an hour and a half of this pee and poop cleanup so I blew off homeschool read aloud books, sent the girls to bed and took care of the outdoor animal chores in the dark, alone. I just wanted to sit outside tonight on the porch of the barn and just cry. I just needed to be in the hole for a while, in reality of the struggle of life and the unexplainable stuff going on in Garrett's mind and body. But I couldn't cry. It was beautiful outside, peaceful. The kiddos were all asleep. The cats were running all over the place on the hay bales and I could hear the cows and horses chomping on their grain and hay. And this is why, Grouchy, I stay up late!!!! It is a peace I can find nowhere else in my life these past years. It's the beautiful nighttime when all of the peaceful hours lie ahead. Make sense???

Meanwhile, I haven't mentioned yet, but I sent the blood in for Garrett's Mitochondrial DNA sequencing by Transgenomic. Should it yield a Mito-causing gene identification, Garrett may someday soon be allowed into the EPI-743 drug trial, but the hurdle now is to see if insurance will cover the $17,000 test. I am praying!!!

So there's the not so happy ending to the day that earlier seemed quite okay. It's still okay. And after talking to my dear Southern friend Kim whose son Garrett's age has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, we agree that we have to focus on the here and now and not lose sight of how short earthly life is. Oh, and I just did the math to realize that when the mito doc said kiddos living past three years of age with mito DNA depletion CAN make it into their third decade of life, though he cannot guarantee it will be pretty at that point, that the third decade of life begins at the age 20.........not at 30 as my ears wanted so badly to hear back at the appointment in Seattle!!! Oh well, God be with us and all families with children who face health challenges!!!


Pencil In God's Hand......No, A WHOLE STAPLES STORE!!!!

"I am a pencil in the hand of a writing God, sending a love letter to the world."
-Mother Teresa

Life has changed for me, no doubt. I am a different person, and it is largely because of our little Garrett. Today I found the above quote while we were doing the girls' homeschool lessons. We are reading a wonderful biography of Mother Teresa, and it is so good that the girls are reading it to each other during the day instead of waiting for me to read it aloud! That's saying a lot!!! We decided to make a wall of our upstairs school/office/Wii/play room a quote wall, using printed quotes from people we read about. And it was during the quote search for Mother Teresa that I found the above quote. 

Many, many times people have told me what a blessing Garrett it when they spend time with him. I have even had folks stop me in stores (when he is on his good behavior), and tell me how there is something especially beautiful about him. I have had caregivers share how he has deepened their love and faith, and I have seen Aunt Becca go from passing out at the SIGHT of a poop blowout diaper to merely gagging convulsively when she CHANGES them!! Truly, seriously, Garrett spews the simplistic, essential truth that God created each of us, and we have an individual purpose and strength(s). 

I love the idea that we are God's pencil, here to share his love letter. And in Garrett, I see that to the most purity. This little dude may or may not even ever understand God's existence or Jesus' sacrifice, but God resides in his tiny soul and God's love letter pours from this kid!! This one little child. 
He is always telling people he loves them, and he expects to hear it in return.....sound familiar? 
He is overwhelmed by too much noise and chatter and chaos......sound familiar? 
He looks to each other child as a "friend," never questioning their gender or motives......sound familiar?
He is happy each morning to see what happens next in the world.....sound familiar?
He cries when things are not simple enough.....sound familiar?
He gets very sad and upset when people do not tell them they love him......sound familiar?
He gets very concerned when anyone is upset or sad.....sound familiar?

He loves like God and shows me where I lack that same unconditional, timeless, genuine emotion in each facet of my life. He makes me dig more deeply for  understanding of HIS world, not just mine. He has forced me to reorganize my priorities and reconsider my allegiances. It's all good, and to think a little boy less than seven years old has taught me so much. 

But wait, it was really Garrett not just using a pencil, but using all the pencils Staples Office Supply has in their warehouses!!!!!!! He is larger than life in his sharing of God's love every day!