Monday, May 31, 2010

To Those Who Serve

This post is in memory of my grandfathers Frank O. Thomas and Dale E. Samsel and in honor of Matt's grandfather Al Schmitz.

I am honored to be the granddaughter of two wonderful and brave men who served our country, risking their life to provide for my freedom. I will always be grateful to them and although Gabe will never have the opprotunity to know these men, Gabe will know that his Great Grandpa Frank and Great Grandpa Dale served his country to provide him with the freedom and liberties he's going to grow up knowing.

Many thanks to all our veterans and to those still serving; we are grateful and our prayers are with you.

Gabe, our sweetest American yet!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

PT, OT and his splint

Everyone has heard of me refer to Gabe as a miracle and along with being a miracle he is a determined and hardworking little boy. Due to his schizencephaly Gabe has torticollis (high tone) on his left side as well as an overall gross motor delay (but remember, with Gabe's right-sided closed lipped schizencephaly he 'should' be paralyzed on his left side). So in December, Gabe was evaluated by a physical therapist and referred for weekly treatment. This began our weekly trek to the Cleveland Clinic Children's Rehab and our daily regimen of stretches and exercises.

Slowly Gabe became less stiff and more mobile on his left side. However, while his leg was catching up quickly to his right leg, his left arm and hand were not doing as well. And because of this we began to see Miss Danielle an occupational therapist as well as Mrs. KC his physical therapist.

Little by little, Gabe continues to improve. Stretching, reaching, practicing rolling over, sitting up and standing are now just regular parts of Gabe's daily routine. And he is a trooper; he lets me stretch his chubby little leg and cute long arm all day long. Gabe gets fiesty when we do excersices that force him to use his left hand but we love his fiestness! And just this past week Gabe sat virtually unassisted (mama helped him with his posture a couple of times) for 20 minutes playing with a wagon full of blocks.
Besides all of the physical work, about a month ago Gabe has another 'activity' to do, only this one he does in his sleep. Every night before bed I put a splint on Gabe's left hand to force his fingers to stretch. Again, something most would find terribly uncomfortable, Gabe just rolls with it! It took Miss Danielle two tries to make the straps small and tight enough for his little fingers and me about a half-dozen different tries to get his fingers in exactly the right spot so that he's unable to wriggle his fingers out during the night.
Gabe's splint:
It's totally fool-proof!

Sleeping Gabe in his splint

Close-up of Gabe's left hand!

And each day we notice Gabe keeps his hand open more, his fingers are less stiff and he's now able to hold and more importantly for his enjoyment, shake toys in his left hand!

Gabe does a great job stretching and excersing everyday. I think the definite plus to the situation is that most of his 'work' seems like play! And while Gabe does a phenomenal job at home working he's a bit of a stinker at therapy. He cries off and on each time for me, and while it breaks my heart to let him cry, I know that therapy is extremely important for him and I must let him work through it. And his therapists are so wonderful and take such good care of Gabe. Gabe is certainly in good hands.

And while Gabe keeps working hard to reach all these milestones the obvious was pointed out to us on Friday at therapy: the older Gabe gets the further behind he becomes. And while, it's a very obvious observation, I just loathed hearing it out loud. Especially since Gabe works so hard. But I know as Gabe works he is getting better and stronger each week and that years from now, weekly therapy appointments will just be a small blip in Gabe's miraculous past.

We are so proud of Gabe and his determination to keep rolling with the punches. And we are so thankful for wonderful therapists like KC and Danielle.

So while therapy is wonderful for Gabe and continues to help him each day get further to reaching his full temptation, I hate that he's so miserable while he's at the rehab center. Could you spare some prayers for our little guy that he's not so miserable when he's working with his therapist? Thanks!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Signed, Sealed, Delivered!

He's ours!
Although he's could never feel more like ours than he did since August 18th when he was first placed in our arms but it's nice to have all of the legalities out of the way!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gabe, Monkey's and a Garage Sale

Another trip to the doctor but this time it was for a 'good' reason: Gabe's 9 month well visit!! Gabe now weighs 22lbs 1oz and 29.5 inches long! However, if he's 29.5 inches long he shrunk an inch from his neurology visit in April. So, I measured Gabe at home and he willingly stretched out for me and according to my measurements is 32 inches long. According to Dr. Miller, at 29.5 inches he's in the 85th percentile for height, so at 32 inches... well, we'll just say he's one long baby! In case you're wondering he's in the 70th percentile for weight... I knew he was losing some of his juiciness.

To be honest, it's a bit irritating that the nurse would input an incorrect measurement into the computer, although Gabe was being pretty difficult to stretch out - that silly boy! And while he didn't want to be stretched out he was quite the champ when it came to his shot. Gabe didn't even flinch, just kept smiling at his Mama!

Earlier this week Gabe and his two favorite ladies found a new game to play:

3 Little Monkey's Jumping on the Bed!

London and Waverly jumped on their own while Daddy helped Gabe! Gabe loved the jumping but especially loved when one of the girls would fall down! Good times with some of the cutest kids ever!

And now about our garage sale: as Gabe's adoption is finalized (tomorrow) we are following our hearts and our Father and saying 'yes.' Yes to the call to adopt, yes to following our father's desire and care for the orphans and yes to adding to our family giving us more children to love and Gabe a sibling (or siblings) to grow up with! Last year before we knew Gabe was joining us we were planning a garage sale to raise money for our adoption process. Back then we were planning on adopting from Ethiopia and that is where our hearts still lay. So we're beginning again and staring with a garage sale!

So if you live in the area and have 'stuff' you'd like to donate, just let me know. And keep June 25 - 26 open to come to our garage sale. Because it's not going to just be our junk! As we grow in our faith and passions we've found that we have a lot of stuff we don't have a lot of use for or need. And we'd rather sell it and use the money to bring our family home then have lots of things.

Here's to hoping for a successful garage sale!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hijacked part 2

Well guys, I'm ba-ack! It took me awhile but I finally convinced Momma to give me another try at this blogging thing... I had to promise I wouldn't share too much information or talk about things like bowel movements, gas or other bodily functions (although, I agree with my Daddy cause boys should be able to talk about gross stuff).

So, here I am, handsome as always and now 9 months old. And even though I'm 9 months old, my hats say that I'm 12 months old and my clothes say that I'm 12 - 18 months old. It's kind of confusing to be so many ages all at once so I'm just going to trust my Daddy when he says I'm 9 months old.

Speaking of being 9 months old, it's only 3 months until my 1st birthday. I'm a little nervous because Momma has already started 'working' on it. I'm not sure what that means, but I think I'll follow my Daddy's lead and just let her have her way with this one. Because if it was my birthday I would prefer to just be naked (oops, was that too much information?)

Since we talked last a lot of things have changed for me. I still drink that nasty white 'milk' but also get to eat lots and lots of food! Yogurt, fruit, vegetables, oatmeal and these little rice rusks. I love it all, well except avocado's, but Momma says I'll learn to like them. Maybe she'll learn to like my 'milk' then!

Besides eating lots of new things, I'm very close to sitting up by myself - sometimes I do it and sometimes I don't. I really just get a kick out of seeing my parents so excited. Rolling over is pretty much the same thing, some days I like to do it and others I don't. Really, I just like to do my own thing, Momma says I'm stubborn like my Daddy. I think that it's less of that and more that I'm independent and free-spirited!

I love play dates now and even christened my good friend Waverly with my urine one day (too much information). I have lots of friends and love spending time with them - going to the zoo or the playground our my favorite places for play dates. And since I'm still young, I'm still really good at sharing my toys. Even when I don't want to share, they're able to walk away from me so I have to share.... hmm... maybe I should put a little more effort into crawling.

Speaking of crawling, I've added occupational therapy to my regimen of appointments and while I think Miss Danielle (occupational therapist) is as wonderful as Mrs. KC (physical therapist) - I just don't like therapy. I don't whine and cry as much because they've caught onto my game and make me keep working. And work it is, therapy days are the only days Momma can be guaranteed time to do housework as napping isn't really my style anymore. I'm more of a party guy!

Well... I'm running out of things to say, which is kind of hard to believe as I love to talk! I especially love talking at 3AM, it's the bestest time to have a conversation with Momma! But anyways, until next time.... MUAH!

XOXO, Gabe

(aka moosh-moosh, bucko or gaby-baby - yes my parents are nuts)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

this to this

(fair warning... a little bit of lovey-dovey gooeyness is coming)

From this....

To this....
Life doesn't get much sweeter!
4 years ago when we were married I never could have imagined the path our life took. But I wouldn't change a thing.
4 years ago I didn't think I'd be as grateful for the hard times as well as the good times, but I am.
4 years ago I couldn't have imagined loving Matt more than I did that day. But I do.
It's hard not to love someone more than imaginable when they make you laugh through your tears, hold you together when you think you're falling apart and keep on loving you even when you make it difficult!
I am so blessed to have not only spent the past 4 years with a husband only God could have picked for me but to know that these past 4 years are only the beginning.
I'm excited (and also a bit nervous) to see where the next 4 years take us!
Happy Anniversary Matt, I love you!!!! (and now everyone says 'awe')
By the way, don't you love my new blog look? Carla did a fabulous job! Want her to design your blog? Click here!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of my favorite momma's out there! You know who you are! But a little shout out to the mom's who've modeled for me what it's like to be a great mom... My mom, Auntie Kim, Annie, Anna, Sarah, Kristin, Natalie, Jessie, Becky.... the list could go on but each of these mom's has recently taught me at least one valuable lesson on how to be a good mom! Thank you and you are all a wonderful inspiration! I love you guys!
And a special Happy Mother's Day to all my waiting friends - being a mother without a baby is the hardest obstacle of all. Have faith, you're time will come. And since I know how much it stinks to hear that, I'll just say I love you girls!
It comes around every year;
but when you have empty arms,
it's very hard to hear.
It's a day to celebrate a mother,
for all the trials she overcame;
and a reminder to an infertile
of her loneliness and shame.
But what really makes a mother,
Is it just conception and birth?
Or is there something more,
that shows a mother's worth?
It's putting your child first,
in everything you do;
it's a sacrifice and determination,
and love and patience too.
An infertile woman makes all her plans,
around a child not yet conceived;
she loves them even though they aren't here,
more than she ever could have believed.
She appreciates and understands,
what a blessing that children are;
she words hard for just a chance
that motherhood is not that far.
All odds are stacked against her, and yet she still has hope;
everyday is a another struggle,
finding ways to help her cope.
So even though her arms are empty,
she can still be a mother too;
So say a special "Happy Mothers Day;
for those waiting for their dreams to come true!

And to Miss B... I can't imagine how hard today is for you. To know the love and joy of being a mother but not having Gabe to hold. Without you, celebrating today wouldn't be a possibility for me. Thank you so much for loving Gabriel so much that you allowed us the opprotunity to raise him. Never a day goes by without thinking of you, loving you and praying for you. Thank you so much for giving me this day and everyday with our Gabe. Love you!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Was it just last year?

Last year I skipped Mother's Day. And it stunk. And it didn't just stink for me, it stunk for my Mom too. And believe me, I have a fabulous mom so to skip Mother's Day was not an easy, or quick decision I made. But I knew, emotionally I would not be able to handle another Mother's Day without being a mom.

So last Mother's Day, Matt and I went to church where I gave my Mom a hug but couldn't utter those 3 words that I knew would break my heart and then taught Sunday School where I let Matt and Tiffany (the other girl that helps us - she's the best) work the door so I could avoid all of the mothers picking up their children. And then Matt and I went home, ate and had just an ordinary Sunday. And that's what I needed; it was cathartic yet selfish. Because more than any other day, even her birthday, my mom loves Mother's Day. Because she loves being a mother. And she is such a great mother. Unselfish, devoted, kind and loving; a wonderful, devoted to God type of Mom. The type of mom I hope to be, just with a lot more babies:)

Last year I never would have believed that I would be the mama of a beautiful 8 month old baby boy. I hoped but didn't believe it. But the other fabulous mother in my life did. At my nephew Jacob's birthday party which occurred the day before Mother's Day my sister-in-law (but, really I mean sister) gave me my first Mothers Day gift. An angel that came with the saying "May you find strength, peace and beauty every day." It was beautiful, sweet and made me cry, of course! But what meant more to me than the gift was what Annie said, that she believed this would be my last Mothers Day without a baby. And I wanted to believe her and I hoped she was right, but for the sake of my heart, I couldn't fully believe. But on nights when I was sad, days that I felt hopeless or mornings I awoke empty I clung to her words, her belief that soon I would be a mother.

And I am! Sometimes I still can't believe how God has blessed my life and answered the desire of my heart by giving us Gabe. Even though I'd like a few uninterrupted hours of sleep or a shower that doesn't include popping my head out to talk to Gabe, I wouldn't change a thing. If our journey has taught me anything (and believe me, it's taught me more than I could ever share) it has taught me to cherish every moment. Sleepless nights and cold showers, sweet baby smells and accessories, smiles and coos, dirty diapers and peed on mama, furniture, clothes.... all of it, everything - I love it and wouldn't trade for anything.

I am so blessed and I know it. And maybe that's why my heart is feeling a little heavy tonight. Because I am blessed and know so many couples that are still waiting. I know what it feels like to see a pregnant belly, a newborn baby or a disheveled new mom and wish that was me. So this year, as I celebrate the wonderful life of motherhood I am not going to forget my sisters and brothers that are still traveling this journey, still waiting for their blessing. I'm going to pray that God comforts them and blesses them soon with the desires of their heart. And that while they're waiting; the people in their life remember them on days like this, just like my sister Annie remembered me last year.

Would you join me in praying for all of the people waiting for their family? Whatever path they take on this journey; adoption, fertility treatments or just waiting and trying that they find peace and comfort. And believe me, even if you don't know who they are, you know someone who's waiting.

Prayers are powerful. "Confess to one another therefore your faults and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The earnest prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available." James 5:16

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

And We Headed Downtown

Last week Gabe and I ventured down to the clinic (Cleveland Clinic) for his neurology appointment. And unlike last time, this time I came prepared. I was (or at least thought I was) ready to hear whatever Dr. F had to throw at us. We were there ready and on time; actually for once, we were early and I was not seen running through the halls pushing Gabe in his stroller!

So we got there on time and ready to see Dr. F. Can I tell you how much we love Dr. F? At each appointment he comes out and get us himself. Peds neurology is the only place I've seen that happen so far. He walks us back and talks to Gabe the whole time. I love that he talks to Gabe first; interacting with him and acknowledging him. I think that this is important. Even though Gabe can't talk back to him, Dr. F always acknowledges Gabe as his patient and I as a parent really appreciate it. I appreciate the fact that Dr. F respects even his littlest patients enough to consider what they need. And his respect for Gabe causes me to respect him more.
Dr. F gave Gabe a full and lengthy examination and then discussed the results with us (me and Gabe). In summary, Gabe is doing really well. Developmentally Gabe is behind gross motorly (which we knew) and he stressed the imporantance of continuing his physcial and occupational therapies. But cognitively Gabe is right on target (again, we thought this) and for us, this is the most important. We know with Gabes wonderful therapists and all of the work we do at home, that he will catch up gross motorly. Knowing that thus far Gabe is on target cognitively is such a relief and blessing for us.
Gabe really hammed it up for Dr. F. too. He smiled, chatted and was very social. Gabe has only recently found consonants (m,c and an occasional b) and boy did he show those off for Dr. F. I was one proud mama!
And while I was prepared for whatever the doctor had to say, I wasn't exactly prepared to hear different, or shall I say more results. Dr. F confirmed everything we learned when the nurse called after his MRI, but he also added that there was an area on the left side of Gabe's brain that also has some dysplasia (where the brain is not convuluted like it is supposed to be). Like all the previous results, we will just continue to play the wait-and-see game.
So far, the wait-and-see game has been great. Gabe is doing great, developing well and hasn't had any seizure activity!
So Dr. F seemed happy and that makes us happy. Except just a little bummed that Gabe has a little problem on the left side of the brain. But as I sit here and type this out, I just realized that even though we just found out about the left side of the brain not being 'perfect' God knew all along.
God knew that while everyone was concentrating on Gabe's right side of the brain, that the left was a little different too. Even though we didn't know, God knew. And even though we don't know what all of this means, God does. And in that I find immense comfort.
Though we don't know where the bumps, forks and intersections in this road are going to take us, God does. Better yet, He's already there. Now that is SWEET RELIEF!
Here's to God forgiving me of my past, guiding my present and already being in my future!
Love & Blessings, Meredith
Silly Gabe!

How the cool kids ride around Crocker Park. Asleep and with their foot up!

Monday, May 3, 2010


Chief Wahoo that is!

The Game: Twins vs Indians

The Date: May 1, 2010

Gabe's Age: 8 months

Gabe went to his first Indians game this weekend! Matt bought the tickets for the 3 of us to go a while back, but then the weather was predicted to be quite rainy so just Matt and I were going to go. Well, the rain got pushed back and a family night at the Jake was declared. (I know, I know. It's Progressive Stadium now, but it'll always be the Jake to me!

Gabe loved it (at first)! He was so intrigued by all of the lights and sounds, and every time people clapped he'd get a big smile and look around all proud. Maybe his Mama and Daddy clap too much for him?! Eventually he got tired and the Indians made a good play, the crowd cheered and then Gabe cried. After calming him, we found a more quieter area of the stadium and watched a few more innings. Then loud people moved behind us and we decided to head home before Gabe became scared again. But we stayed through 8 innings! And the Indians won in 11 innings! Wahoo!

In our seats...

Gabe & Daddy at the Indians Game

Family picture at the stadium - look at the camera, Gabe.

Watching the Twins warm-up!

I just can't stand his cuteness!

Gabe and his very first souvenir, a Slider doll - eck! I mean stuffed animal!

I realize Gabe won't remember going to his first Indians game, but going to Indians games (especially on dollar dog nights) is one of mine and Matt's favorite things to do and I loved being able to do it as a family of 3!