Thursday, January 28, 2010

World Record!

Do you ever wonder why you rarely see pictures of Gavin with his glasses on?

These are pictures from about a year ago with Gavin wearing his glasses. I take lots of pictures of Gavin, but very few of them have him wearing his glasses. You want to know why?

Here he is thinking that something just doesn't feel quite right!

Here he is realizing that his glasses are on, and I think he's yelling for his brothers saying; "Hey! Come help me get these ridiculous glasses off my face!"

And when the brothers don't come to his rescue, he decides to carefully get them off himself! Here he is slowly getting his finger up to them to take them off!


He hasn't worn them while at home for probably the last 6 months. Why???.....Because I got tired of constantly putting them back on his cute little face! Gavin is VERY good at getting his glasses off!

Gavin may not be able to sit up, crawl, walk, or talk, but Gavin definitely has one ability.....getting his glasses off!

His teacher asked me awhile back why he never had his glasses on and I told her that he doesn't seem to be able to see any better with them on, plus, he continually takes them off, so why bother?! She asked that I bring them to school anyway, so I did. Guess what she wrote in his notebook the other day?

"I must say, I now see what you meant when you said he gets his glasses off in the wink of an eye. I think he wins for being the fastest student I've ever had when it comes to removing glasses!"

I have to say it....."I told her so!" :)

Our other boys are always talking about World Records, so I've decided that Gavin should be in a book of world record holders for, "The fastest child getting his glasses off repeatedly!" Who needs to sit up and walk when you have skills like this?!

I would have him wear them more, if I thought that it was helping him, but it doesn't. He doesn't seem to see any better with them on. He tracks some things whether he has them on or not and he actually does it better without them, probably because he's not so annoyed by having them on his face!

Not to mention, Gavin seems to be SO MUCH happier when they aren't on him!

Isn't he precious?!?!

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Please Pray for Emma!

My heart has been heavy for a special family that I have "met" through blogging. I feel honored to "know" them and have grown to love this family and their sweet daughter, Emma!

Emma's life on this earth is coming to a close shortly. Her parents are spending every moment with her, loving on her and telling her that she has permission to go. Emma is obviously a fighter, because she continues to hang on! I guess God's work for her, on this earth, must not be done yet!

Please pray for Emma and her wonderful family! I can't imagine having to watch your child pass away! My heart aches thinking of the pain they must be going through, and yet they are staying so strong in the Lord and leaning on Him for their peace and strength!

Please visit their blog and leave them some words of comfort! And, most of all, be in prayer for this family! May God continue to give them peace, strength, grace and hope as they have to say goodbye to their precious girl!

"In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." Matthew 6:9-13

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thinking of the past, present and future.....

I've been thinking.....

January 15 is a day of remembrance for our family. It's a bittersweet day. This year, on January 15, it marked the 10th anniversary of Joel's Dad's death. It is also the day that Gavin had his first heart surgery, three years ago.

I can't believe that it has been 10 years since Joel's Dad passed away. It seems like yesterday, but then again, so much has happened since that sad day. Jacob is the only one of our boys who had the pleasure of knowing him in this life. Yet, our other boys talk about him as if they knew him and they bring him up in conversation as if they knew him. I suppose this is because his memory has been kept alive through many of the great stories that are told about him and his presense still seems to be around us, even though he is not physically here with us.

Joel's Mom submitted this for the press this past Friday:

VANDER WALL, DAN (11/18/44 - 1/15/00)

In loving memory of our husband, father and grandfather who passed away ten years ago today.

Romans 15:13

Loved and missed by all,

Your family

I think that it's important to keep his memory alive. He was a great man and many were definitely blessed to know him!

Like I said, Friday also marked the 3rd anniversary of Gavin's 1st heart surgery. When they scheduled Gavin for this surgery 3 years ago, I think a few of us were uncertain of having his surgery done on this day.

We were told that Gavin's condition was not good at all and that the surgery was risky, but had to be done. The doctors couldn't gaurantee that Gavin would survive the surgery and they even told us that they were expecting the worst. Was this a day that we really wanted to have to remember 2 losses for our family?!

Because I'm not a superstitious person, I was all for having his surgery done this day, but Dan's death was definitely on the forefront of my mind that day.

Gavin went in a very sick little baby and thankfully, he came out doing much better than the doctors thought that he would! I thought of God's grace and Joel's Dad a lot that day!

So, to this day, January 15 is a very bittersweet day for our family.

I'm thankful for having known this great man that had to die way too soon, but I'm also thankful that God allowed us to keep Gavin around for a while!

Gavin ended up staying in the hospital for 4 1/2 months and having a severe stroke during this time, which left him unable to do a whole lot for the rest of his life, but I'm thankful that he is still with us here and not in the hospital.

Instead, he is able to be at home, hangin' with his Daddy!

What a blessing!!!


On Friday, of last week, I was home alone with just Gavin for the whole night! Jacob and Caleb were with their Grandparents, and Joel and Nolan were at a Cadet campout. I thought that it would be wonderful having an evening and night of almost total peace, but instead I was quite miserable! I felt lonely and very bored! It was way too quiet and I missed my crazy, loud boys!

I was also worrying about them. "Were they having fun? Were they getting enough to eat? Were they warm enough? Were they safe?"...........

I have also been worried about Gavin riding the bus. I dress him very warm to go out in the cold temps, but "is he warm enough and is he too warm on the bus? Do the aides unwrap him some so that he's not burning up on the bus? Does he wonder where I am? Is he scared? Is he comfortable?".............

Mommas have lots to think about and worry about! Our children are physically and mentally part of ourselves and we ache when we think of our children suffering, or at least I do!

Deep down I knew and know that my children are fine when they are away from me, but still, I wonder. This got me thinking about all the Mommas in the world. Here I am, worrying about my boys and I know that they are being cared for and that they have more than they will ever need. But, can you imagine the ache that lots of Mommas out in the world are having, thinking about their children, who are ACTUALLY starving, cold, scared and not cared for?!

I've been thinking especially about the earthquake in Haiti. Many Moms and Dads and Children are seriously missing someone today and they are having to go through major suffering! This breaks my heart!

I am so thankful to have all that I have and yet I still feel sorry for myself sometimes! Sometimes I think to myself that bad things happen in this life so that the people of this world stop thinking so selfishly and so that we come together for the good of others. Plus, then we are made more aware of just how great we have it!

I wish that I could hug many Mommas out there who are suffering right now! And, I wish that I could give all that is needed to the people of Haiti who are truly without right now! But, since I can't, the least that I can do is pray for them and give what I can.

I put a Red Cross button on the top sidebar of this blog. If you are feeling sad, like I am, please give a little bit to help these people! Most of all, keep them and many like them in your prayers! And, hug your children tighter and be very thankful for ALL that you have!

These boys drive me crazy most of the time, but I sure am hugging them tighter lately! And, I am so thankful for them!

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations." Psalm 100:4-5

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bye Bye Gavin!

Gavin and I took a big step yesterday! I did something that I said that I could never do! Gavin did something that took a lot of a bravery for a 3 year old! What we both did yesterday may not seem like a big deal for most people, but it was HUGE to Gavin and I.

Yesterday, I had to say goodbye to Gavin, while standing there waving and hoping and praying that he would be well cared for, safe and happy. I have only put Gavin in a vehicle with someone else a couple of handfuls during his entire life. The other times I knew the person well(my husband and mother-in-law) or I had no choice but to let him go because he had to be flown in a helicopter to a hospital far away. So, to me, yesterday's event was a big deal!

So, have you guessed what Gavin's big adventure was???

Cathy you guessed right! Gavin took a school bus to school yesterday! And, guess what?! He and I actually survived!

I swore that I could never let Gavin take the bus to school, because I felt that he was too young, for one thing, and also I was afraid because he can't talk and tell me what happens to him when he is away from me. It took a lot of bravery on both of our parts, but WE DID IT! And, I only lost a few tears and Gavin seemed to LOVE it!

Here is a note that I taped to his shirt, for his teacher to read when he got to school:

She did call me to let me know that he got there safely and to let me know that the driver and bus aide said that he did really well on the bus. The bus company even called me about 10 minutes after he was picked up to make sure that the pick up went well, so I'm very impressed by the bus company and by his teacher! I am confident that Gavin is in terrific hands even when he's not with me!

Here he is waiting for the bus to arrive at our house:

Here is his bus arriving:

Here is Gavin getting onto the wheelchair lift and being lifted onto the bus:

And, here is Gavin on the bus (even smiling!) and leaving for school:

It was difficult watching the bus pull away, but I knew that ultimately Gavin is in God's Hands, so I knew that he would be safe!

I didn't even follow the bus to school, which I did consider doing! :)

My Mom offered to go to lunch with me and to walk around the mall so that I could keep my mind off from it for the first day. This was very helpful, but seeing Gavin's smiles and excitement as he got onto the bus is what really kept me comforted! He is such a big boy! I guess he's a lot like his brothers. They have always been quite independent and didn't really care if they were with me all the time, plus they all enjoy adventure, so I guess Gavin is no different!

Here is the bus arriving back home:

Yay Gavin's Home Again!!! All the brothers were home from school to watch him get off the bus too!

And, finally, here is the note that his teacher sent in reply to Gavin's note to her:

So Cute!

So, that was our big day and Gavin's adventure! I really hope that Gavin continues to enjoy it! And, now maybe I can start getting more things done around here with 4 hours to myself! This actually makes me sad, but I'm sure that I will get used to it.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I'm sure that I've mentioned before how much our oldest son, Jacob, is not impressed with school work. Some days he puts a lot of effort into homework and studying and then many other days, he just doesn't care at all! Yesterday was one of those days. He has exams coming up and I told him to plan on studying LOTS this week to prepare for them. He agreed and promised that he would buckle down and study hard.

I guess that he forgot that conversation, because every time I turned around yesterday, I would find him distracted or doing something else. He always had an excuse why he wasn't studying....."I'm just taking a break.", or "Gavin needed some attention." I realize that everyone needs a break and I AM happy that he cares enough about Gavin to give him some attention, but it was getting ridiculous! I finally said, "What will your next excuse be?!" You want to know what his response was?!..."Umm...I can't study anymore because I'm dead." Then he laughed.

This is how much this boy hates to do schoolwork! All I can say is, "Lord, Please give me the strength to get this boy graduated from school one day!" UGH!


Onto a more pleasant part of my day:

Yesterday I received the best birthday card ever! I nearly burst into tears when I saw it and opened it! Why was it so special to me? Because it was from Gavin!

Gavin came home from school with it yesterday. His teacher must have helped him make it and they put a ton of effort into it!

Here is the front of the card:

She used his fingers and thumbs dipped in ink to make the butterflies! Isn't that ingenious and so adorable?!

And then, for the inside of the card she put his handprint on a heart!

I LOVED it!!! She is such a great teacher! And, there is no doubt that Gavin has left his handprint on my heart for life!


Finally, Gavin has another big day tomorrow! Well, it's big to me and him anyway!

Here is a clue to what will be happening tomorrow:

The clue is that Gavin will need to use his wheelchair for the first time ever!

Any guesses?

Gavin and I aren't so sure about this whole thing, but we're hoping it all turns out great!

We'll let you know tomorrow what this new adventure is! :)

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

38 Years

In my head I am still 25 years old, but the calendar tells me differently, because today I turn 38 years old!

The funny thing is, the last few birthdays that I've had, I seriously thought that I was already the age that I was about to turn! So, on the day of my birthday, I haven't feel badly about the age I am, because I already thought that I was that age anyway!

I like to take a few moments on each of my birthdays to reflect on my past year and life in general. I started doing this yesterday and found myself very emotional. When I think back on my last year, I feel kind of sad, because what do I really have to show for it? In my head, not much.

Sure, I lead a very busy life having 4 children and a husband to care for, but is that really enough to show for myself? I mean, it is quite a feat that they are all actually alive, well and thriving today, because there have been many days this past year that I have felt like strangling their necks! So, I suppose this is a lot to show for myself, since I curbed my desires and allowed them to live, right?! And, I'm only half joking when I say this!

You should have seen my morning today. I often tell Joel that we could make a ton of money if we were on a reality t.v. show, because our family would be very entertaining to most people! And yet, it's not so entertaining to me!

Yesterday the boys asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told them that all I wanted was some peace. I wanted them to do what they were told right away, try not to be so goofy all day, get along with each other, and just show some love. I didn't think that this was asking for too much.

Well, this morning brought about the same old chaos that ensues every single school day! I even reminded them what I wanted for my birthday, but do you think that did any good? NOPE! Actually, there were only 2 culprits this morning; Nolan and Caleb. They are usually the issue and they made sure to start my day off the same way that they always do!

They are always EXTREMELY slow each morning and they always goof off and waste lots of time. Plus, they have to add many "Stop looking at me's!", or "Why do you always have to do that's?!" And, today they decided to argue over who's lunch bag was bigger, for crying out loud! And, when these 2 argue, they are loud and angry, so Happy Birthday to me!

I try to control these boys, but they are very strong willed and every morning I drop them off at school feeling defeated and sad because very few words out of my mouth were pleasant words. Plus, I am usually giving them a speech on the way to school.

Today's speech went something like this:

"This has to stop! There is no reason to act the way that you do every morning! You guys are nice to others outside our house, so why can't you treat each other the same way?! It makes me sad to see such hatred between you two! If it makes me this sad, how do you think God feels looking down on you? He has given us SO MUCH and this is the way you repay Him?! I can only imagine how sad it would be for God to have to look down on all of us humans each day and see how dumb we act each day! He must feel very sad, having cared for us and loved us and then seeing so much hatred in the world! We are all sinners, but we should try very hard each day to be kind to one another and loving and less selfish. Don't you think? I love you guys and it makes me sad to see you behaving this way. We have a lot to be thankful for, so please start showing your thankfulness more often, O.K.?!"

Then we arrive at school and I say, "Have a great day! I'll see you after school. I love you!" We only live about 5 minutes from school, but I'm sure that they feel it's a long way to school each day! :) But, while I have them captive, I need to use the time to set them straight each day!

So, the fact that my family is alive and well is a huge accomplishment at the end of each year!

Actually, I have to share the good too!

1. Lastnight Joel came home from work with flowers for me for my "birthday eve" and bagels for the boys and I to eat for breakfast today. Thanks Joel! This was very thoughtful of you!

2. Jacob studied really well and hard for his test today, with very minimal complaining! Keep it up Jacob!

3. A dear friend brought over a cake for me. The boys wondered why she did this and I told them that "Women have to look out for other women in their lives, because we know that most of the time, the men in our lives don't do special things for us on our special days." After hearing this, Nolan (our sensitive one) brought his brother down stairs to make cards for me for my b-day! This seriously touched my heart, because I try really hard to make birthdays special for all the members of our family(including the dog!), and most of my birthdays seem to just pass right by because I'm the one that does all the birthday planning in our family, so knowing that my boys made cards for me, without being asked, is a REALLY special thing! I don't really care if I get anything for my birthday, but it is nice to be remembered, right?! Plus, I do try to instill respect and giving for people and especially wives and mothers, in our children. This way they will hopefully be great husbands one day, because I believe that a "happy wife, makes for a happy life!" And, also, I want grandchildren someday, ya know?! :)

4. And, my aunt sent me a card that read:

"Thinking of you on your birthday and wishing you...A little more joy than you've known so far, more pleasure in being just who you are, a little more peace in your heart all year through...and, God's love shining warmly on you!"

5. I've already received a couple of birthday calls and e-mails this morning wishing me a great day!

6. I went out this weekend with some friends and family for a girl day, and my sister surprised me by coming to town!

7. My mom and I are going for pedicures this afternoon while Gavin and the boys are in school!

What more could I ask for?!

As for looking back on my life:

I was born. I went through many years of schooling and ended up with a nursing degree that benefitted me greatly when Gavin came along! I was born into a wonderful family, that I thank God for each day! I have worked various jobs in my life.(Babysitter, Floral arranger, Retail and Sales, House Cleaner, Nanny, Nurse in a hospital setting, Nurse in a home care setting, and finally Homemaker.) I got married to a wonderful man and birthed 4 wonderful children.(And, they are all still alive! Ha!) I have made lots of friends and lost a few friends. I have went through the divorce of my parents and although it saddens me to this day, I have weathered it fairly well. My mom, my sister and I fought hard to live a great life together, just the 3 of us and we formed a wonderful relationship least I think so! I hate that my parents got divorced, but I gained another mom, sister and another set of grandparents out of it all! And, they have all helped to make me the person that I am today! I have spent months in the hospital with one of my children. I have seen things that no parent should ever have to see their child go through. I have learned MANY, MANY lessons through all of it and met some wonderful people because of it! I have had the priviledge of getting so close to people that I've never even met in person and they have made my life a brighter place! I have felt like I was on the receiving end of angels on earth, by the kindness and giving spirit that has been shown to me and my family in our darkest days! I have seen human goodness in the best possible form. And, most importantly, I have learned that God, TRULY does not give us more than we can bear. It may feel like it at times, but then He sends us people to take some of our burdens from us and who give us what we stand in need of to get through our trials. And, I know that this life is only the beginning for me and that, because I know God, the best is yet to come!

It took 38 years to do and learn all of this! There has been lots of heartache, lots of pain, lots of stress, but it sure has been a WONDERFUL and FULL 38 years!

Thanks to all of you that have touched my life in a very special way! I have been blessed with some wonderful people in my life! And, Thank You God for everything!!! I am very excited about the next few years of my life! Bring it on!

"And this testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." I John 5:11-12

Monday, January 11, 2010

Is it working???

So, are you wondering if the Botox treatments are working for Gavin?

Well, this is day 7 and this is supposedly when it's effects start to peak. And, we think that it is definitely making a difference for him! It isn't a huge difference, but there is definitely good improvement!

It's easier to bend his hips for sure! This makes for easier diaper changes and clothing changes. As for his ankles, they are still very stiff, but there still is improvement in their flexibility. I wasn't sure about this, but Joel thought that he had more range in them. The test came when I tried putting his AFO's on his feet. It was at least 50% easier than it normally is! This is WONDERFUL! I thought that maybe I was just thinking it was easier, but even his teacher thought that it was easier getting them on.

Normally Gavin will only wear his AFO's for an average of 30 minutes at a time. At this point he usually begins crying and nothing will calm him until we take the AFO's off. On Friday he tolerated them for 2 hours! Before the Botox his ankles were so tight that he was constantly pushing his feet in the AFO's and this probably caused him pain. Now, his ankles are a little more relaxed, so he doesn't fight them as much.

And, he's even happy while wearing them! YAY!

He played like normally he does and didn't seem to even notice that they were on his feet!

Hopefully this continues and hopefully the next few days will bring about even more looseness!

I'm happy to say that Botox has been a success! Not a huge improvement, but definitely better than before!

"If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success." Ecclesiastes 10:10

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More Blog Time Please!

Someone turns 5 years old in our household today! Any guesses who this might be?

No, We haven't gained another child recently, and none of the four that we do have are turning five years old.

Any idea yet?

Here's a clue:

No, that's not our dinner........Thankfully!

That is our dog's breakfast this morning.

We don't usually serve Hunter his food with a candle in it, but today he turns 5 years old!

He waited not-so patiently for this delectable meal this morning.

So impatiently, in fact, that he went at it before one of us could even blow the candle out and he ended up burning a couple of his whiskers off his face! OOPS!

I think that he thought that it was worth it though!

Happy Birthday Hunter!!!

I feel kind of weird blogging about all of this, but Nolan told me that he thought that Hunter needed more blog time and that I should blog about Hunter today. So, there you go! Happy Birthday to all you dogs out there! :)

"A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." Proverbs 12:10

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Working Overtime!

Between me, school and Joel, Gavin gets some form of therapy everyday. But, since Gavin got botox treatments this week, we have been working him overtime! The doctor told us that Gavin really needed to be stretched out and exercised a lot the next week to keep the botox from pooling in one area. He also said that sometimes if a person is really stretched out well after getting botox, additional treatments aren't even necessary. So, we've been working Gavin hard!

He's been in his stander more often:

He has been stretched and put in a standing position more often:

It's nice having a physical therapist for a Dad! Well, except when your Dad gives you a wedgie while doing treatments on you!

He's been practicing sitting up in a crossed leg position, to help stretch out those hips!

I think that Gavin is very proud of himself and he seems to be really enjoying all this extra work! Keep it up Gavin! You are doing great!

"Listen to this, O Job; Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God." Job 37:14

"Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing towards sons of men." Psalm 66:5

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gavin loves his lights, but Botox, not so much!

Gavin's appointment went fairly well yesterday. He received 6 injections of Botox. He got 4 shots in his calf muscles and 2 in his inner thigh muscles. Gavin usually does fairly well with his immunizations, but this is probably because I insist on holding him when he gets them and 2 nurses do them at the same time, so it doesn't take very long. Yesterday he had to lay on his belly on the table for the injections and the doctor did one at a time, so it took a bit longer than a normal shot session does.

Gavin was NOT happy about this! He was literally sobbing and it broke my heart! As soon as I picked him up, he settled down nicely, but he has decided that Botox is NOT FUN!

We won't know if the Botox has made a difference for about 7-10 days. This is when it's effects peak. I hope that we notice a difference, but only time will tell.

On a brighter note, I put rope lights around Gavin's crib and he LOVES them!

Here are some pictures of him with them, with the room lights on:

And, here are some pictures of him with them, with the room lights off:

Pretty cool, Right?!?!.....That's for you Amy! :)

"Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. You have put gladness in my heart." Psalm 4:6b-7a