Sunday, December 6, 2009

To Stay or To Go

That is the question . . .

Our landlord called to let us know that he'd be coming through the house on Saturday with his real estate agent. He plans to put the house on the market on May 1st - and wants us out by April 30th. Putting aside the fact that our lease doesn't end until June and we have a three month extension option after that . . . it still now presents us with an added complication to our decision of whether or not to stay in Canada for year #3.

If we stay . . .

We will likely - according to Canadian law, our lease, and common sense - not have to move out before our lease ends in June . . . at a minimum. And, yes, he's pretty much a jerk for even putting us in this position. And, yes, we're going to have to involve lawyers. Annoying.

But, it still means that if we decide to stay another year, we still have to pack up everything we own, find another appropriate rental home - preferably allowing both kids to continue attending their same schools - and move again . . . for just one year.

On the other hand, staying is the only real job security we have. Moving back home means that I hire and train my replacement before we return to Utah - and then I don't manage the Canadian market anymore. So strange. My business - as stressful as it can be - is my little world. It's my baby. I started the website and have managed it since. I doubled the sales in less than four years. I have worked incredibly hard - and definitely too much. Nevertheless, for better or for worse, I can't imagine not doing this job.

If we go . . .

The 'adventure' ends and we move back home. We then are faced with a series of decisions. First, are we actually moving back into our house (assuming it has not been destroyed by the renters) or trying to find another house to move to directly? Of course . . . see section above on 'job security'.

Buying another home is much more scary when you aren't exactly sure what job you will have. And, yes . . . I know that most people don't have 100% job security at any time. I do understand that. But, if you don't know much about me . . . I am very conservative and risk-averse when it comes to money . . . and that factors in heavily here.

Looking for a job in Utah while I live in Canada would be incredibly difficult. I don't want to have to think about hiring, training, moving and job-hunting at the same time (plus two kids and a husband). And, it is very likely that I will have a position with my company when I return. What that will be? That's a great question. All senior marketing staff are in San Francisco now. And, moving there isn't really an option for us (or at least Jeff). I can do a lot of things . . . but, I would ideally like to factor in job satisfaction, too - since it doesn't look like I'll be a stay-at-home mom anytime soon. And, if I were to find another company . . . I would potentially face a long commute. Ancestry is the closest company you can find out of Provo Canyon and there are not many options in Park City either. Anywhere else and I'll be traveling at least 45 minutes.

Then there's the vital question of Gavin's medical care. I am definitely not making commentary here on universal healthcare versus the US system. I will leave that debate entirely for another day. I am, however, hesitant to 'go back'. To clarify . . . I don't want Gavin's progress to be delayed for a split second. I don't want to have to convince (or re-convince) a group of therapists that Gavin's potential far exceeded the perceptual limitations that they had established for him initially. I do love that there is an entire hospital here (and even an elementary school) dedicated to rehabilitation and treatment for children with special needs. That's pretty incredible.

And, there are a million other considerations. Is baby #3 a possibility? When? Where? Yes, we think about it all the time.

And, I haven't even addressed proximity to family and friends. There's nothing like being back home. I feel so incredibly lucky to have such amazing friends . . . and people that still support us and love us. Oh how I miss you all. But, after a year in Toronto, we've made some great friendships here. After two years, it will be that much harder. Change is never easy.

We'll be able to drive to Colorado again from Heber . . . but, we are actually in driving distance to Virginia out here. And, the road actually traveled both ways one time (ahem . . . yes, Mom and Dad, we'd like you to come visit again).

There's the beach in Toronto - the one thing I miss in Utah. But, there are mountains in Utah. I can't live without them.

When did we grow up and have to make such adult decisions?

I won't go on . . . but, there's the story. We've been praying to know what we should be doing and where we should be.

All ideas are welcome :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Family Photo

When we were in Utah a few weeks ago, Sherry took our annual family photos. And, as always . . . she's amazing at both the photography and working with a bunch of unwilling models. Believe it or not, Gavin was the trouble-maker this time around. And, Jory was working and wasn't there to make him laugh.

Thank you Becky for making Autumn's hair so cute. It's the reason Autumn says, "Only Becky can fix my hair, Mommy. Not you." Shame we live in different countries!

More to come on these photos and the whole near-month trip.

Thank you, Sher!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I love House

Despite the large, looming TVs scattered throughout our house, those who know us well realize that Jeff and I are not big TV watchers. We love our football and other sports. Only one show carried over to this season ...The Office. I record The Biggest Loser and So You Think You Can Dance and watch those occasionally, too. Those are new.

When Jeff and the kids were away for the two week period while I was launching the new Census Collection for Ancestry in June, I found myself home no earlier than 9 or 10pm, eating my leftover pizza or crackers/hummus nightly dinner . . . and watching House reruns at 11pm every night with my computer on my lap, finishing up work for the day.

And, now I'm addicted. I love it. AND . . . wait for it . . . Jeff loves it, too!

I joke with Jeff that the reason he likes the show is that he identifies himself with the main character - known for being brutally honest, arrogant, and unforgiving of 'stupid people' (that's Jeff's quote - not House's). Of course, House is totally intriguing and brilliant and amazing . . .as is my man. For those who know Jeff . . . and those who have watched the show . . . you'll get what I mean.

Last night's episode was intense. I think I have a crush on Chase. I have a soft spot for any man that adores his wife. And, he's certainly not harsh on the eyes.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Horse is the Answer!

Autumn: I was really trying hard to be good - but, I just forgot.

Mom: Autumn, what can Mommy and Daddy do to help you remember to be the best you can be all the time?

Autumn: Get me a horse.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Being Karen

Work: Thursday morning I was at the office before 8am for a staff call with the UK, German, Chinese and US team leads. I had scheduled calls with our legal counsel and our PR Director, finished a creative brief for our upcoming Remembrance Day promotion, re-forecasted the H2 budget, provided feedback on the second round of TV ad concepts, submitted tickets to update several product features on my website, created a statistical model to analyze our Free Trial landing page test and a few other things at the office.

Bloorview/Spina Bifida Group: I pulled into our driveway at home at 1pm and hopped directly into Jeff's truck, where the kids were waiting and buckled. We all drove to the Bloorview Rehabilitation Centre for Gavin's Spina Bifida Baby Group. I ate some crackers and tuna on the way that Jeff brought for me. He checked Gavin in while I dropped Autumn at the Ronald McDonald Playroom so she could play during his appointment . . . begged and pleaded for her to remove herself from my leg and then had to have the woman in charge rip her off so I could run upstairs to meet with Jeff and Gavin.

We met with his physiotherapist, nurse practitioner, speech therapist and set up an appointment with his occupational therapist (who was sick) to help us find the right material to sew in some pants to protect his poor protruding tailbone from continuing to rub sores on his bum. Then we went to a class on Learning and Development at 2:15pm with one of the psychologists specializing in Spina Bifida . . . where we proceeded to try to sit patiently while the one other parent in the room (who Jeff calls the psycho mom) dominated the entire conversation wondering why her 2-yr-old was acting like a 2-yr-old. Jeff spent another 10 minutes convincing the physiotherapist that he had already attempted to use plungers (at her insistence) instead of the quad canes for Gavin . . . and that now we would like to please order the quad canes. We went upstairs to the orthotics group to meet with Crista, who had replaced the straps on Gavin's AFOs. Then, we ran down to pick up Autumn. I answered emails on my Blackberry until we arrived home, right before 5pm, and then had one more call with my Marketing Ops Manager in the US.

Cooking/Dinner: In honor of opening night for hockey season, I made two cakes (with Autumn's help) and decorated one for the Toronto Maple Leafs and one for the Montreal Canadiens . . . for Jeff's party. We made three lasagnas (Jeff was super helpful) - froze two and had one ready for Friday night. Jeff grilled hamburgers - and I ate bites in the kitchen during the cooking extravaganza.

Curriculum Night: I was at Autumn's school by 6:40pm for my first ever parent/school night. We met the principal (who I had already met since I had to beg and plead our way into the morning session so it wouldn't conflict with Gavin's therapy home visits) and then went to the classroom for a presentation by the kindergarten teachers. I sat with Lisa, Alita's mom (who is Autumn's closest friend - and now bus partner - from preschool) and met one other mom, who happened to be the mother of Elias, who Autumn announced on the third day of school as her "boyfriend" (although I do think she means 'friend that is a boy').

Hockey Party: I was home by 8:45pm to eat some chips and salsa and tell Jeff all about the Elkhorn Elementary Curriculum.

Bedtime: Then, I excused myself from the hockey party by 9:30pm to head upstairs to read and pass out.

The crazy thing is . . . despite it being such a hectic, busy and long day . . . I actually really enjoyed it. Because I felt like a real mom for a change.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Trike Maniac

Gavin is getting stronger and stronger . . . and loving his trike.

Ignore the grumpy face in this picture. He's happy - I promise. He's always happy riding his trike.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Palmyra #1 - Hill Cumorah Pageant

I'm pretty desperate to get all of my pictures off my memory cards, onto a computer and uploaded to my blog. The beloved, yet cursed, Mac is still giving us trouble. We're counting down the days until an IT guy from corporate comes to the Toronto office. I'm bringing him home, too, before I go completely nuts. Having 10s of thousands of pictures on our 5 year old Mac is apparently a no-no. Anyway . . . we've had an eventful summer of 2009 . . . so, I'll do my best to document as much as I can. It will be a bit out of order and a bit random. But, I'm dedicated. If not for everyone else . . . at least for me!

Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 31, 2009

Florida Rewind . . . Marco Island Memories

Florida was truly one of my all-time favorite vacations . . . in fact, it was our first family vacation. I was pregnant with Gavin when we visited Maui - and that was our last vacation alone as a family.

The timing was perfect in Florida. Vacations tend to be just a week long in the US - and 'holidays' in the international world are typically two weeks. I know I'm just an American in a Canadian world - but, I'll take two-week vacations any day. At least I'll shoot for a 10-day minimum.

The first six days were in Disney World and we spent the remaining six days in Marco Island, Florida. Because it's a 'Snow Bird' destination, peak season is in the winter. So, we were able to rent a three bedroom house with a huge private pool for a great deal. Disney was so much fun. I think I was the saddest when we drove away! But, having a few days of complete relaxation after the frenzy of Disney was fabulous.

Autumn was as wild as usual and wanted to live in the pool all week.

Gavin was happy to chill on the side of the pool.

One of the best (and only) family photos was a lucky shot at a seafood restaurant.

We built card houses . . . and then knocked them over.

I taught Autumn some cheering stunts.

And, we enjoyed the beautiful beach.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gavin's 'Baby and Learn' Class

Gavin was able to attend a preschool program created through the Bloorview Rehabilitation Center, where he goes for Spina Bifida clinic, therapy and swim classes (both Gavin and Autumn). The class was once a week for a parent and child . Jeff was among only a few 'parents' that attended. The other adults were mostly nannies and one grandma. They try to maintain a 50/50 ratio between children with disabilities and able-bodied kids. One little girl was fairly severe - diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy among several other things. Another beautiful little girl was born without part of her arm. Otherwise, Gavin showed the most visible disability since all other children were able to walk. Of course, it didn't slow him down at all. After a few classes, he became a bit less shy and then was diving head-first down the slides.

Autumn and I both attended the last class with Gavin and Jeff. I was able to finally meet the mother with the shockingly foul mouth in front of the kids (confirmed within the first 30 seconds of talking to her). I was able to see for one morning what it might be like to be a stay-at-home mom. I chatted with the women there about doctors we should know, sales at local stores on children's shoes and school registration . . . all the topics that women tend to cover in groups . . . and, all conversations that don't come as naturally for Jeff with the other moms.

They played with toys and ate snacks.

The super soft, fully padded colorful gym was by far Gavin's (and Jeff's) favorite part of the day.

Wayne, the Music Man, was the highlight. He came in every week to the gym and taught the kids some cute songs that we still sing regularly - and now I use in Nursery, too. Since it was the last day of class, they took the kids to the outside playground instead.

Because Autumn will be in Junior Kindergarten for half the day and Gavin's preschool is so far away because of traffic (should be 15 when it usually takes 50 min), Gavin will be attending Autumn's nearby preschool instead this fall for only a few days a week. It makes my stomach turn to think of him being with someone else for even a few hours a week alone - especially given he has only been left alone a couple of times with sitters, other than Becky and Jeff's parents, in his 2 1/2 years. I'm his Nursery leader at Church - so, he's with me even then. I'm sure it will be good for him. But, it makes me so anxious . . . what happens when they take the kids outside to the playground? What if they have balloons in the classroom? What if they try to feed the kids kiwis?

As if being a normal paranoid mom wasn't enough . . .

Oh Happy? Graduation Day

At Autumn's preschool Christmas performance, she might have been the only one who refused to wear her angel halo. I was surprised she even let the teachers put her graduation cap on . . . clearly, she was no happier to wear it. We had a hard time sorting through the many sad-faced pictures to choose one. Pretty much the whole first hour, this was her expression. The amazing thing is that I have never seen a more perfect frown. She's talented, I tell you. Perhaps Hollywood is in her future.

Once graduation was over and the cap came off, Autumn let loose a bit for some dancing and bubble popping. This is her best little friend, Alita. Jeff and I were cracking up watching and hearing Alita sing during the performance. Her little mouth was open so big and she was singing her heart out. Autumn, who picks up the words of all songs with unbelievable speed, refused to sing at all. We're hoping they will be in the same Junior Kindergarten class. Alita lives nearby and they get together for play dates. Gavin absolutely loves "A-li-li."

Autumn and a few of her teachers. Giselle (on Autumn's immediate left) runs the program and was Autumn's favorite teacher.

Autumn is already sounding out and writing words on her own. She loves any and all books. She has become quite the artist and loves to cut every drawing out. I come home everyday to a pile of fresh confetti under the kitchen table. Autumn is dramatic and moody and emotional . . . but, with that comes a little girl that loves to sing, is passionate about all animals (we always have a collection of snails, worms, and lizards), is so sweet to her little brother . . . and makes us laugh constantly.

We're so proud of Autumn and how much she has learned during her preschool year. In Utah, she would have one more year of preschool. But, here in Ontario, she is set to start Junior Kindergarten in just over a week. I'm not sure I was prepared to send my little girl off on the bus so soon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yes, we do want the first haircut package . . .

A momentous occasion occurred just a week ago. Autumn had her first ever haircut . . . at 4 1/2 years old. She'd never had so much as a trim (I'm not bragging here). Knowing our sweet little precocious girl, you know that she is fiercly independent, fearless of anything physical (albeit shy in social situations initially) and a stubborn little chip off the ol' block (you can blame that on me or Jeff - take your pick). So, you may be able to understand why I didn't want to introduce her to scissors too young. Until recently, Autumn was unconvinced that girls even got their hair cut. All worth it since we haven't (yet) experienced the super short self-inflicted bang cut. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

We made it a girls' day out. We went to Sharkey Cuts, a children's hair salon, first. Autumn actually sat in a pink Barbie jeep during the cut. After they painted her fingernails purple for her 'mini-cure', we headed to Boston Pizza for a lunch on the patio followed by a trip to Michael's Craft Store.

The beautician gave me a reproving look when I explained that this was indeed her first haircut experience. And, then she hesitantly asked if I wanted the "First Haircut Package" that typically applied to young babies, including a before and after photo and a pink sachet for her cut hair. Umm . . . yes.

She had a huge frowny face on the entire time her hair was being cut. And, then immediately afterward she said, "Mom, that was such a great idea." Oh, Autumn. I can only imagine your teenage years.

They cut at least 4 inches off . . . and you still can't see the bottom of her hair in either picture.

When Autumn told us that her hair was almost hitting the water in the toilet when she was going potty . . . we knew the time had come.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Canadian Ladies

On Tuesday, we all decided that the ladies needed to schedule our own night out. And, I - of course - pushed for a movie night since Jeff is generally anti-movie . . . and actually going out to a movie is out of the question for him (can you sense the bitterness?).

We saw Julie & Julia . . . which was a cute movie. Just my style . . . nothing scary . . . happy ending (generally).

And, for all of my beautiful girls back home . . . I miss you all so much. You will never be replaced. I just feel so lucky that I have made friends with incredible people while living in Toronto - especially since it was so hard to leave Utah. And, now you can put a face to a name of all of my friends here. Hopefully we'll get some of these families down to Utah to visit when we move home.

In order, from left to right:


Amanda. She is actually an American from New York. Her husband is from Ecuador and they live in Canada. She is a professional (brilliant) opera singer. Amanda is a strong woman with amazing insight . . . and incredibly funny. She makes the most realistic sounding animals noises I've ever heard. I've joked before . . . but, it's true . . . if I could buy stock in Amanda, I would. I have complete faith in everything she does. I have much respect for this lady. Her baby boy is due in November.

Angie. Angie's the newest addition to the group. She and her husband and their two boys (2 and 5) moved into our ward in May. They are the perfect playmates for Gavin and Autumn AND for Jeff and I. After babysitting their boys one night, Angie, Nathan and I stayed up until 4:30am talking . . . if that tells you anything about how much I like this family! I admire Angie for her strong beliefs and hope she rubs off on me.

Marjorie. Marjorie and her husband are French-Canadians from Quebec. Her accent is luscious. She's artistic and creative and designs beautiful things for her son, house and friends. Her husband is a language genius, fluent in at least 3 languages. I love her contagious, hearty laugh.

Sarah and Violet. Sarah is the newest mom of the group . . . in a bikini 6 weeks after delivery and looking amazing. She had Violet - naturally - at home and then hand-made her blessing dress when she was just weeks old, because she didn't know the sex. She never ceases to amaze me. Seriously. And, Violet didn't make a peep during the movie. Wow.

Emily. Emily was my first Canadian friend. She is honest, sweet and open. Emily was so kind and accepting of me right from the start (yes - despite me being an AMERICAN). She is amazingly crafty and a domestic diva. She made us all headbands and gave them out for no good reason. I have never once seen Emily get frustrated, mad or impatient - even though her daughter is well-known for her incredible lung capacity. You truly cannot help but love Emily.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Day Gavin Was Born

I was cleaning off my computer desktop today (I was finally annoyed with everyone commenting on my desktop clutter whenever I projected my screen for a presentation) . . . and I found this document. I hardly remember writing it. And - wow - what a flood of memories it brings. It's long and not our happiest moment. I need to continue the story with all of the amazing things that happened over the first year of Gavin's life, how his story brought out the best in friends and family, how his presence increases everyone's faith and perserverance, his first time standing in the stander and his first time pedaling up a hill on his trike. He is such an amazing little angel. For now . . . here's the story of Gavin's first day:

Autumn was well over a week late when she was born . . . and we had to force her out. So, when my water broke at about 4 am a week before my due date . . . Jeff and I were completely taken off guard. It was so unexpected that I was unsure about what had actually happened. I called the hospital for instructions, gathered my bag and decided to drive myself to the hospital. People always get a kick out of that part. Since I wasn’t really contracting yet, I insisted it wasn’t worth waking Autumn or the friends that would be caring for her. So, I drove myself. We live about 3 minutes from the hospital . . . literally.

I don’t know if it was because an earlier and un-induced delivery was so far out of the realm of our thinking or that somehow we were all gaining a sense for what was to come . . . but, the day was shadowed with doubts and concerns. Later, Suzanne, our nurse, said that she could not shake the worried feeling she had . . . although she attributed it to the meconium they had already found in the fluid. She had insisted that the anesthesiologist be in the room during delivery in case the baby had breathing problems.

Dilation happened more quickly and more easily than it had with Autumn. And, the pushing began. Everyone in the room (Jeff, Dr. Tayler, a medical student, our nurse and the anesthesiologist) cheered when the baby’s head emerged. And, that was the turning point that foretold of the month ahead. Suddenly, instead of pushing only during contractions, they were instructing me to push straight through. Voices became more frantic and louder as minutes ticked by. As I leaned forward, I caught a glimpse of my doctor – red, sweating, and panicked. Jeff told me later that the baby’s face was turning a sickening blue. Options were limited and time was critical as Dr. Tayler jammed his knee against the bed for leverage and forcefully yanked the baby from my body. That was likely the moment when Gavin fractured his left femur, we discovered later.

There was no celebration or pause to allow Jeff to cut the cord. Everyone in the room except me immediately recognized that the problem was more severe than the baby’s breathing. The nurse and anesthesiologist immediately went to work on the baby in the warmer beside me. Instantly, the nurse gestured for the doctor . . . he stood for a moment at the warmer and came back to announce that “the baby has a large open cyst on his back . . . we will need to confirm . . . but, it looks like he has Spina Bifida.”

“Spina Bifida? I didn’t think people even got that anymore. I took my prenatals . . . how could that be!?” Those were the only words I spoke for almost an hour. The rest of the time I sat in bed, my head covered with the sheet . . . hysterical.

This wasn’t what was supposed to be happening. It’s not real. They’re going to fix him. How bad is it? I can’t see him. What does he look like? Is this my fault?

I can’t account for who left the room . . . but, almost immediately, there were 10 or more people in and out of the room . . . most of them hovered over the warmer . . . huddled over the baby. Life Flight had been called. They needed to talk directly to the doctor. A different nurse was holding the phone to Dr. Tayler’s ear so he could talk to the Life Flight team.

Life Flight? For my baby? I can’t see him. What does he look like? Is he okay? What do his eyes look like?

Strangely enough, I can remember the smallest details from that day. But, I can’t remember if Gavin was crying. I was obsessed with his eyes. Did they show signs of mental defects?

Dr. Tayler continued to work on me and asked for something three times before he raised his voice and demanded medicine immediately. He couldn’t stop my bleeding. I was oblivious.

One blonde nurse suggested they try to put the IV in the baby’s head . . . people were rubbing my arm coaxing me to breathe . . . Life Flight would have to drive down to pick up the baby because a helicopter couldn’t fly in because of severe weather . . . Dr. Tayler was yelling orders – No latex gloves! (all children with Spina Bifida are on latex precaution their whole lives and/or develop an allergy) . . .

Jeff wasn’t crying . . . but, I still cannot find words that describe the way he was looking at the baby. He was rubbing me, too . . . and then he was standing a bit farther away . . . watching the scene transpire.

I finally heaved myself forward enough to try to catch a glimpse of my son. I saw what looked like it might have been a leg . . . but, badly disfigured . . . flop up and sideways over his body. I laid back down in utter and complete devastation.

“How bad is it?” I finally asked Jeff.

“It’s bad. He’ll never walk.”

Dr. Tayler kept saying over and over, “You need to let Karen see the baby. She has to see the baby. Make sure you show the mom the baby.”

They finally placed him in my arms, but with support from two others, so that he could nurse. He was wrapped in plastic and blankets . . . and I could hardly see his face. I couldn’t see his eyes . . . they were badly swollen. The nurse that had been rubbing my arm told Jeff to grab the camera . . . “Daddy, this is a proud moment.” Jeff snapped two pictures. They took him back. Life Flight had arrived.

Jeff’s parents were en route and arrived minutes after the baby was whisked away.

“Where is the baby?”

I told them. And, then they were crying, too.

A nurse came back in to tell me that he was doing well. The team had found a vein for the IV in his head (the blonde nurse was right); they were snapping pictures (that I’ve still never tracked down), stabilizing him and preparing him for the drive back to Primary Children’s Hospital. He was wheeled back in and we asked for a few moments alone with the baby.

Jeff was sobbing uncontrollably and could not regain composure enough to give the baby a blessing. We decided immediately upon his name . . . Gavin Jeffrey Peterson . . . and his grandfather said the prayer.

“Will the father be traveling with us?” Life Flight asked.

One of the things that still strikes me from that day was how the shock of it all prevented us from immediately thinking and acting like Gavin’s parents. We would never let Autumn be alone . . . but, Jeff and I were so confused . . . so completely incapable of making a decision and being separated at that time that Gavin was taken without either of us by his side. And, then he was gone.


It was so strange . . . I had been in labor, delivered a baby . . . and he wasn’t there.

A nurse came in to say that people were starting to call the hospital. Friends and neighbors knew we were there.

We don’t want to talk to anyone. Send them away.

One of the nurses asked me, "Honey, what can I get you?"


Friday, June 19, 2009

Ice Cream = Happy

Jeff just sent me this photo from his phone. He and the kids are at Costco - which is their equivalent of an amusement park in Canada . . . it has delicious hot dogs (that's what they claim), ice cream, food, random gifts, shopping carts and more.

This is true happiness for Autumn.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Disney World Photos (by Disney)

This is just the start of our Disney World photos. These were the photos taken by the Disney staff for the PhotoPass (one of the coolest services ever). So, this doesn't include the 100s of pictures taken by us. We're still very much enjoying our vacation right now in Marco Island, Florida.
More to come!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Disability Tax Credit no more . . .

Okay . . . this is not the fun blog post about my beautiful family, or me falling down the steps on Friday while carrying Gavin (he's fine, btw), or even how crazy work is . . . this is just a pure rant.

I found out today that Utah canceled the Disability Tax credit that Gavin received for one year - in 2007. Come on, people!! Gavin qualifies for nothing. zero. zip. Not one penny of support for all of the equipment he needs (yes, think $1500 for each pair of ankle braces that he will wear for life, $1300 for each CT scan, and $1500 for his stander - just to name a few). And, Jeff and I are incredibly blessed that we prioritize and can afford these expenses. But, we work hard, darnit, and make a lot of sacrifices. So, I won't even get started on the mooching idiots that use my tax dollars to pay for their needs. I know there are people who truly need it, deserve it and are working hard, too. I'm not talking about them. But . . . ooooooo . . . this is just one more example of idiotic legislatures.

And, to be honest, the tax credit was SMALL . . . literally a few hundred dollars. Whatever. I am angry at Utah today.

Utah 0 - Canada 1

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Guess Who Rode a Trike Today?

If that's not worth blogging about . . . I don't know what is. Gavin has come so far since we moved to Canada.

He first got a stander from the physical therapists in September . . . it may seem useless since he is completely bound to a metal frame. But, as both hips are out of socket, it is incredibly important for him to bear weight so that cartilage forms around the ball joints. Since both hips are out, this is not something they will correct. They have discovered after years of attempts, that spina bifida patients do not respond to surgery and hips pop back out of joint because they lack the nerves and muscles to hold them in place. Gavin was thrilled the first time we strapped him in to the stander that allowed him to stand up straight for the first time. And, Jeff and I were amazed that he was so much taller than we thought since we'd never seen him stand. Who knew?

Then, two weeks ago he graduated to a walker. The very first time Jeff propped him up at the walker, he was successful. The therapists could not believe that he was able to hold himself as upright as he does and with no practice. They say it is an indication of great trunk strength. It's a great validation since Jeff spends a lot of time working on strength exercises with our little man. And, the therapists also suggest that Gavin is definitely one of the most active spina bifida patients they have seen. I guess that's a bonus of having an absolutely unstoppable big sister.

On Friday Gavin gained another apparatus from the orthotics unit . . . twister cables. When Gavin stands, he is most comfortable with his toes pointing at each other, a full 90 degrees in from where they should be. The orthopedic surgeons confirmed that the rotation was not from his hips or twisted femurs (which were both possibilities), but from his ankles. The surgery last April helped to correct his clubbed feet, but considering their severity, they still curve sharply in post-operation. The "twister cables" are actually plastic strips that run from a harness around his waist down to his braces (where they screw in). They have joints that allow his knees to bend and they keep his toes pointing straight forward - all the time (which makes it really difficult to crawl, but good for walking).

So, today we attempted his first trike ride. And, we hadn't even finished strapping his shoes to the pedals with velcro before he took off across the kitchen and pedaled all the way to the front door. He was - as he is with every new movement or achievement - absolutely thrilled. We took him outside into the driveway and let him pedal back and forth over and over until we were all too cold. He was super fast pedaling towards the road and made it up the slight incline of the driveway with a lot of focus.

What an amazing kid . . . absolutely unbelievable. We are so proud. Nothing will stop him. And, this is just one more example of why you can never label people or set limits on what you think people are capable of.

The silver lining of our move has been a matter of refreshed expectations. Dr. Tayler, who delivered Gavin, was shocked a year later that he could even sit up on his own. All he had seen was the open cyst on his back and the first few weeks of his life.

Our Heber-based physical therapist, who helped Gavin relax his hips so that he could literally unfold and then helped him bend his knees, saw no possibilities of Gavin ever walking.

And then our Toronto-based physical therapist, who met Gavin when he was 17 months old and had no history or knowledge of the progress he had already made, saw no reason why he couldn't be a candidate for a walker. It was only last week that we showed her pictures of Gavin from birth through his first year. And, she said that had she been the therapist working with Gavin initially, she would never have suggested that he would be where he is today. She was absolutely stunned.

Now . . . all of this said . . . we have no idea of what is in store for our little one . . . or the mental, physical, or emotional battles that are ahead . . . and there will be many. But, our goal is to never put a limit on his potential. We want to push him to the very edge of abilities and not beyond. And, in the end, I think this is what we want for Gavin and Autumn. It's no different really. It's ultimately what every parent wants for their children.

I just feel lucky to be witness to such an amazing life. I am honored to be Gavin's mommy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My excuses . . .

I want to confirm that I am not giving up on blogging. I'm coming back. And, I'll even make up some time . . . unfortunately, our Mac has literally 10s of thousands of huge pictures on it. So many that our poor computer is not cooperating anymore. I can't even describe the frustrations of the process involved with trying to extract the pictures from our camera to the Mac and then off to another computer with a workable (and tolerable) internet speed. Truly peeps . . . the Internet doesn't even respond on the poor Apple.

Let me be a warning to all of you moms out there that refuse to delete any picture of your little kiddies because you feel like every little moment and expression is one to be remembered forever. Soon those pictures will become Mt. Everest to you . . . scrapbooking, printing photos, and photo albums are all a thing of the past right now.

Anyway . . . faithful blog readers . . . stick with me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Autumn's Canadian Preschool

Here's Autumn's first preschool class picture. I can't believe my sweet little girl is going to be 4 in a few short weeks. It pains me.

The girl on the back row in the middle with the feather is named Sonia. And, she is Autumn's best little friend at school. Apparently they are elitists and often exclude the other little girls, refusing to let them play at their table. Great.

And, yes . . . Canada is very multicultural. And, yes . . . that teacher on the left in the back row does scare me a bit.