Tuesday, December 22, 2009

:)

For the time being, the Witkowski family is on an internet hiatus; rest assured, we'll be back in the new year, but for the next few weeks, we're off line at home and enjoying some much needed and deserved family time. Have a wonderful Christmas holiday with your families and we'll see you in 2010!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's Probably His Cousin...

On the way home from taking Geo to work this morning, we encountered a deer. She was standing on the side of the road until we got closer and she darted in front of me. It's a great way to start the day, for sure, especially if you're Gabe. He was SO excited that there was a deer by our car, because it *had* to be a reindeer. He excitedly asked, "which reindeer is THAT one Mom??" I told him it wasn't a reindeer, just a white tailed deer-he thought about it for a minute then asked "are you SURE it wasn't a reindeer??" I told him no, it was a white tailed deer and that reindeer don't live in Illinois. He sighed and said "maybe that was cousin or something" I laughed and agreed, that yes, maybe it WAS his cousin. Goofy boy; he is SO into Christmas this year, and it's SO much fun :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh Bother


We've had a string of blustery days here in Northern Illinois, we have about 6 inches of snow, not counting the drifts. I haven't uploaded many pictures lately because I've been rather lazy busy, but I took this one with my phone yesterday...we couldn't see the fields around us, just snow snow and more snow! Thankfully today the snow has stopped, but it's about -25with the windchill and we're all staying inside today. It was SO cold this morning, actually, that we didn't send Gabe to school. WAY too cold for him to have to wait for the bus, which has become more and more erratic in it's schedule this week. We've spent the day watching Blue's Clues, drinking hot cocoa, and tormenting playing with the cat :)
Hope you're all toasty warm wherever you are today!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh really?

Our fridge is COVERED in family pictures; one of my favorites is of Geo's grandpa (Hi Grandpa!!!) laying in a hammock totally and utterly relaxed with a big grin on his face. It amuses me to no end, I really love that picture (and one of these days, I'll upload it)

Bitsy girl likes to look at the pictures and point people out, tonight after dinner she was doing just that. She got to the picture of Grandpa the Great, pointed to it, touched his face, and said "hey, that looks like my grandpa" I suppressed a laugh and said "That's because it IS your grandpa Bits" Shocked, she turned to look at it, touched his face again and said "oh hi Grandpa, it's me Bits!"

Goofy goofy goofy girl! So sweet :)

*shakes head*

Do you remember the scene in "Elf" where Will Ferrell's character is eating cotton balls in the doctor's office? He eats them, much to the chagrin of his father; in between eating them he asks about the skeleton. Funny movie-if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Great story, great soundtrack, perfect Holiday movie.

ANYWAY...so this morning I was making bread, as I usually do once a week. My family has been come addicted to fresh homemade bread. They only eat store bought bread if they "have to" The poor dears, having to eat store bought bread, what kind of mother am I? Their disdain for store bought bread ranks right up there with their disdain for PAPER napkins. How dare I not have cloth napkins for them? But, as usual, I digress, let me get back to my bread making this morning. SarahAnne likes to get a small piece of dough and kneed it while I kneed the main batch. This morning was not unlike other mornings, I handed her a piece of dough to kneed and turned back to kneeding my dough. I admit I wasn't paying the closest attention to her, I was preoccupied with the fact that the plow guy plowed in my sidewalk and I'd have to go out in the snow and wind to dig the sidewalk out, but I didn't think I was completely ignoring her. I asked her for her dough so it could be put with the rest of the dough to rise and she looked at me, grinned and said "ha ha" Red flags immediately went up, "ha ha" means only one thing-she's done something she should NOT have done. I asked her "what did you do??" and started looking for her dough ball. She said "HA HA I ATE IT!" and ran off giggling. Yes, that's right, she ate RAW bread dough. *shudder* I'm feeling nauseous thinking about it. So far she seems fine, but ewww...raw bread dough? What the heck kid?!

Bitsy the elf, what's your favorite color?!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Feminism and Child Rearing

Rather than regaling you with cute tales of what my children did this week (and there was plenty, in fact, SarahAnne and Gabe just got back from picking up coffee and donuts and SarahAnne decided to make snow angel in the dirt 1/2329979 of an inch of snow we had, very cute for a dirty little girl, that is) HOWEVER today I'm going to talk about a disturbing trend I'm seeing...anti feminism blogs.

I am kind of in shock at the sheer number of blogs I see these days talking about how feminists have ruined families and society, how the work force is skewed toward women who are taking mens' jobs, and feminism and gender roles. I won't link to any of these blogs to protect their ignorance identity, but I'm sure if you're so inclined you can find them.

From the time I was a little girl, my parents instilled in me (and my brother and sister) that we could do whatever we wanted if we put our minds to it. We were ALL raised to do household chores, from dishes to laundry to taking out the trash. There were no "girl" jobs, no specific "boy" jobs. Just chores to be done. Both of my parents worked; they both did things around the house equally. When my father would be laid off in the winter (he was a construction worker) he would do the majority of household chores, when my mom only worked part time, she would do the majority of the household chores. Imagine my surprise when I found out (via blogging!) that my family has been affected by feminism. Housework is a woman's job. Working outside of the home, even if for financial difficulty, is feminism taking men's jobs and, oh my heavens, a man doing laundry is screwing up gender roles
*gasp* *horror* *insert shock here*

What is feminism? For me, feminism means that as a woman, I have the choice to stay home or be in the workforce. I have the right to an equal salary and benefits if I choose to be in said workforce. It means that I have an equal say in what happens with my family and my country (What is this woman's suffrage you speak of? Women are to be allowed to vote?? The hell you say!) It means that I have the choice of what happens to my body; my reproductive rights are just that: MINE.

Now, my first reaction to all these "Oh the horrors of feminism" blog postings was to rant and rave and talk about what lunatics these women were...and my second, admittedly much more juvenile, reaction was to point and laugh, a la Nelson Muntz from the Simpsons and say "Oh you crazy anti feminist bloggers, if it weren't for the feminists you wouldn't have the privilege of sitting at home on your computer ranting about the horrors of feminism"
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It's a catch-22 really, you can piss and moan all you'd like about the horrors of feminism and what it's doing to your families, workforce, etc but without those awful women fighting for your rights as women to be treated equally, you wouldn't be able to do the things you are doing. I wonder how many of the anti feminist bloggers would like to give up their reproductive rights, their right to vote, and the right to choose what is right for them as a woman (ie: working/staying home) That's what I thought...you can't have it both ways. In the meantime, I'll be over here haw hawing like Mr. Muntz, telling my son and daughter that no matter what, they are both free to choose what they'd like to do in life as well as teaching them both how to cook and do laundry...and cast ballots to ensure that feminism lives on so that THEIR children have the right to choose what's best for THEM, male or female. Haw Haw!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Little Things

The simple things truly are the best...thank you Greats-your intentions may not have been to make things better, but they did :) We love you guys!
snowman Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ever the Optomist...

Gabe is such a sweet natured child; so loving and caring towards others (except for Bitsy on occasion he he)he's always so concerned with other people, he's very sensitive-he's just a great kid. I really truly adore him.

Tonight at dinner we were talking about his friend B, who has CP and uses a wheel chair to get around. Gabriel asked me why his buddy couldn't walk. I explained tp he that B's brain sends messages to his legs, but his legs just don't get the message correctly. He thought about it for a moment and said "but he'll walk when he gets bigger, like I did right?" I gently explained, that no, he probably wouldn't walk when he gets bigger, that he'll probably always have to use his wheelchair to get around. He thought about it for another minute or so and said "But I can walk and my legs don't always work right, he will be able to walk when he is bigger, I know it" I told him we could hope that happened and we would pray about it, but it wasn't our decision.

And then, as he walked to the trash can and then to the sink, I thought about how truly miraculous the conversation we had was, because the kid in the wheel chair, with the legs that "don't get the message" could have very well been Gabriel, in fact, it SHOULD have been Gabriel. People always tell us how lucky we are and while Geo and I DO know how lucky we are, it gets tiring to hear it sometimes. Maybe, though, we don't realize JUST how lucky we truly are when it comes to Gabe and his health and maybe Gabe and my conversation tonight was a gentle nudge reminding me to NOT take his walking/running/toileting for granted because it COULD have been and SHOULD have been him in the wheelchair. It could have been SarahAnne asking me why Gabe uses a chair to get around, it could have been my nieces or nephews asking why he's in a chair or wears a diaper still...but it's not and for that I am eternally grateful and thinking about just how lucky we all are that Gabe can do what he does. I hope that the next time I start to feel down about Gabe's spina bifida, I'll be able to look at this and think "hey you know what, you ARE lucky; so many people have it so much worse and God made it so YOU are not one of them" and maybe it'll give the dose of reality I so badly need at the time.

On that note, it's time for bed...it's been a very posty day for me over here so I'll consider this my Early Thankful Thursday post ;)

Happy Anniversary

A very happy wedding anniversary to the Greats :) Congrats on another year together...here's to many more happy years to come!! ♥♥♥

Happy Anniversary Pictures, Images and Photos

Excellent Read

Today I'm not blogging my own words; instead I'd like to share this blog entry from a blog I read regularly...
Gratitude
Enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Family...

In life, God doesn't give you the people you want. Instead, He gives you the people you need... to teach you, to hurt you, to love you, to make you laugh...to make you exactly the way you're meant to be.

Sometimes the family you make for yourself is stronger than the family God gives you. In an effort to maintain a positive outlook, I'd like to say thank you to all of the people who make up our amazing family...whether by blood or by the heart :) The last few weeks have been challenging and it's been eye opening to see who really has our best interests at heart and who is too wrapped up in themselves to see beyond their own needs and wants.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Too Much Disney

Just a few minutes ago, my rather self sufficient Bitsy girl walked up to me with an apple and a request: "Mom could you please wash my poison apple?" I couldn't help myself, and began laughing. I asked if she was sure she wanted to eat a poisoned apple and she said yes. I washed her apple and handed it to her, she happily took a bite and thanked me for a clean poison apple. I am happy to report that she is NOT laying on the floor waiting for a prince to wake her up :P We've been on a classic Disney movie kick as of late, must be time to switch out Snow White, huh?

Apparently, Tinkerbell's are impervious to poison apples, who knew?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday-Thanksgiving Edition

Today is the day when Americans traditionally express their thanks and gratitude for everything in their lives that's good...mine comes in the form of pictures this morning! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, enjoy your day!! Warning: This post is VERY image heavy, sorry Greats, it's going to take forever to load!!

Thank God for family and good friends who make life better just by being in our lives
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

you get in, you get done, and then you get gone

Today is our first of two nerve wracking appointments with Gabriel this week. Today we go for our evaluation/consultation at the family therapist, ironically enough WITHOUT Geo because this is one of the busiest weeks of the year for him and he cannot leave work because of it. Thankfully he doesn't actually have be there, it's just an initial consult but after this appt his attendance will be necessary. I've been stressed out about the appointment (more so about tomorrow's though, to be honest. Neuropsychologist is a scary word he he)

The more I think about what's going on with Gabe and everything else, the more I find myself questioning whether there actually is something going on or *if* this is normal behavior for a five year old. I'd like to think that Gabe could tell me what's going on, but he can't, he's only five...but if he could maybe it would go something like this:
"Mom-
I'm five. I know I have other things going on, things I can't barely pronounce let alone explain, but I am five years old. I know I am hyper and bounce and crash into people, but so do other five year olds. I know I don't pay the best attention in school or even when you talk to me, but heck, neither do other five year olds! I'm a kid first and have a disability second. I am not my disability nor can all the things I do/say/have happen pertain to my disability. My "labels" are just that: a label. They mean nothing to me and they shouldn't to you either. You're my mom, you always do right by me, even when it's a tough decision and you should follow your instinct in this situation too. I am five and some times five year olds are pains in the butt (but not as bad as two year olds, right mom?) sometimes we do things we shouldn't, sometimes we act like wild banshees and get into trouble...but we're also five. No one expects five year olds to behave like perfect angels all the time, now do they? I didn't think so. You're always saying this to other people and it makes them feel better, so I'm going to say it to you: Just Breathe.
Love,
Gabe"

(thanks Gabe, I needed that)

Monday, November 23, 2009

:)

After a nice long weekend with family, Aunt Katie, Uncle JD and Aubrey are headed back to Michigan! Thanks for a great weekend guys :)

A very happy birthday (yesterday) to my sweetie...and thanks to all of our friends for coming out and celebrating with us on Saturday night!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for family coming to visit. Sure it's a pain to have to actually put away the laundry and clean out the fridge (ha ha) but having family come to visit makes it worth it. Here's to a good long weekend filled with family and fun!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gabe to the rescue!

This afternoon, after a leisurely shower, I helped SarahAnne get dressed. As I was putting on her elmo undiepants (as she refers to them as) I held out her clothes to her so she could get dressed. She put on a pair of black pants then a blue Tinkerbell shirt (standard outfit lately, pants and a tink shirt. We MUST find more tink shirts, I am so sick of washing the same two over and over ha ha) After the tinkerbell shirt was on she looked down at herself, sighed, and said "Oh no, I'm not Batman anymore" and started to get a bit weepy. Gabe, ever the quick thinker, said to her "Your bottom half is still like Batman Bits, it's all black just like Batman! You're HALF Batman and that's still part of Batman!" She smiled and said "oh! half batman, OK" and ran to her bedroom (probably to get her bat-belt, but I can't be sure)

Ah yes, Gabriel has come to Mom's rescue once again...I guess he felt like he owed it to me since all week he's been relentlessly quizzing me (and I've been failing miserably, I might add) on state capitals, state locations, and bones in the body. Thanks for the help buddy, I needed it! :)

It's apparent that I need to get some new pictures of the kiddos on the pc...all of the pics I have are a few weeks old whoops!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Is a day late and a dollar short, per usual.

This week I am thankful that the suggestions our occupational therapist gave us are
working. I'm sure when Gabe went to school and told his classmates and teacher that he had a trampoline in his bedroom they didn't believe him BUT it's true, he has a trampoline in his bedroom to help him get some positive sensory input rather than crashing into people or things to get that "fix" (I don't know how else to describe it; his body NEEDS to crash, bang, bounce, etc to feel normal) So, Miss B, we're thankful for your awesomeness and Gabe, we're thankful this seems to be helping because it helps ALL of us when YOU feel good :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

I come from a long line of veterans; both of my grandfathers, my grandmother, my father, and my uncle all served our country proudly. George's grandfather, sister, and brother in law are also a Veteran--and in honor of all of them, let me say Happy Veteran's Day to all veterans and thank you for ensuring our freedom. God bless you all!
Maxine Patriotic Veterans Day Pictures, Images and Photos

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Last night, Gabe and Bits decided they wanted to watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (which is probably one of mine and Geo's favorites for Christmas) as we were watching, Gabriel said "Hey Mom, why don't we all have some hot chocolate and watch this together??" So our little family watched Charlie Brown and drank hot cocoa and took a breather from the past week and all that's gone on and man oh man, did we need it. It was nice to just not have to think about all that's going on. No ADHD, Neuropsychologist, omg the car isn't running, nothing, just Snoopy and Chuck and hot cocoa.

I'm hoping last night is indicative of what our holiday season is going to be like; calm, quiet, just the four of us.

Instead of stressing out over my holiday budget (ha, holiday budget) and the fact that this year may be even leaner than last year, instead of being cranky because the other 4488 people at Meijer were rude, instead of focusing on what Christmas ISN'T about, I hope that we'll all be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy ourselves. Enjoy delicious family dinners, enjoy holiday decorating and the Trans Siberian Orchestra (Gabe has requested them twice in the last week) and focus on thanking God for all the gifts and blessings we've received this year. Despite everything else going on, we really ARE blessed, we really ARE lucky, and we really are loved.

Now, in three weeks when I'm belly aching about the jerk in line at Meijer or lamenting the fact that my Christmas budget is gone, someone remind me about this post and hopefully it'll straighten me out :P

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Where's Idaho, Mom?

Gabe has become a geography nut as of late and as of two nights ago, could identify at least 45 of the 50 states by sight, no prompting. He's to the point where he can see states by themselves and know what they are. This has lead to a *bit* of cockiness on Gabe's part, as he demonstrated in the car the other night. We had the following conversation:
Gabriel to Mom: Hey Mom where's Idaho?
Mom to herself, frantically trying to remember where Idaho is
Mom to Gabriel: Uh, it's on the West Coast
Gabriel to Mom: No it's not Mom
Mom to Gabriel: Well it's close enough
Gabriel to Mom: Actually, Mom Idaho is next to Montana; Montana is a big state and Idaho has an odd shape.
Then he laughed to himself, as if to say "My God mom, you are SO clueless sometimes"

Guess who's going to be brushing up on her geography!? Ha ha

Good Ole Idaho

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Time for a Tune Up

After a whirl win day on Friday filled with doctor and therapists appointments, we are a bit closer to some answers with Gabriel's behavior.

First of all, the pediatrician is not convinced Gabriel needs the diagnosis of ADHD; yes he shows symptoms, yes there is a definite correlation between Spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and ADHD BUT he's also a five and a half year old boy going into a social setting like no other for the first time.

Then we went to see Mr. Brian (PT) to see if his braces were fitting alright (they are perfect and so is all of his tone, etc) and to discuss some of his struggles in the classroom physically. Brian suggested a neuropsychology visit to see exactly what was going on, especially concerning the ADHD/Spina Bifida link. We're were supposed to see a neuropsych before kinder, actually, but the one we saw years ago moved to a different hospital/network so we weren't able to get in touch with her.

THEN we saw Miss B, one of Gabe's favorite people in the whole wide world; his occupational therapist. She agreed with the neuropsych eval, so we'll be setting that up next week. Apparently the NP they referred us to is *the* best of the best. She's (Miss B) also going to start seeing him every other week to work on some body awareness issues. She said it's very common for a child like Gabe to not really understand where his body is in relation to the world around him, which makes total sense. For God's sake he didn't even know he had feet for the first year or so of his life. We're going to be starting a program called "How Does Your Engine Run" which is a way for him to learn how to regulate his "engine" or well being when it comes to impulse control and sensory seeking.

Now back to the "tune up" issue. Our pediatrician who has known our family since about a month before we had Gabriel and we trust completely has suggested some family counseling. Every time I've said that to people, they've immediately turned up their nose at the idea and made it sound like Geo and I are completely off of our nut for even ENTERTAINING the idea of getting a little bit of intervention.

Look here, ye scoffers of the Witkowski Clan seeking a bit of outside intervention. Until you've been in our shoes, I would ask you to not judge. Why does the word "counseling" have such a negative connotation? There's absolutely NOTHING wrong with seeking some outside support when you're looking for an outside opinion. There's nothing wrong with saying "ok, what we're doing is not working, so let's see if someone else has a suggestion we didn't think of"

In the last six years, we've dealt with a lot. Gabriel's diagnosis, for one, a nicu stay, two major surgeries in sixteen days. Crippling medical debt and countless specialists. THEN when Gabriel was ten months old, Geo's brother was killed and it shifted our family dynamic completely. Not only were we dealing with having a child with a disability, but we were also dealing with losing a dear member of our family. My father suffered a rather debilitating stroke in Gabriel's first year of life. My pregnancy with SarahAnne was incredibly stressful, I lost my teaching job, we moved to a new home and now we've moved yet again. All the while trying to deal with juggling medical appointments that are often and hour and a half to three hours away (hello Children's Memorial!! ha ha) Through all of this, George and I have been balancing our marriage, among other things. We have so many balls in the air, it was nice to finally hear someone say "Go see this counselor and see if s/he can help you juggle these balls a bit easier"

Even when nothing is wrong with your car, you get regular checks and tune ups, why would your family be any different?

The next few months are going to be hectic and stressful, but like we always do, we'll pull through thanks to the support of friends and family whom we are so so grateful for.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

woohoo!! Thankful Thursday right on time

I just sat down to update the blog and realized, gleefully, that today is Thursday and I am actually going to be on time with Thankful Thursday. Pardon me while I take a deep breath and attempt to quell my (ridiculous) enthusiasm.

*deep breath in* Whew!

This week I am especially thankful for our wonderful family who is always behind us 100% of the way, no matter what. This morning I received a sweet email from my sister congratulating me on my recently published article in an awesome new anthology My Baby Rides the Short Bus found here and then got an email from my father in law about Gabe's possible ADHD diagnosis that was just what I needed to hear. I'm telling you, we're SO blessed to have these people as our family!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ah yes

It's the time of year that students and teachers alike dread; parent teacher conferences. Having sat on the teacher side of the table for years, this year was a whole new experience for me. Here's the good: Gabe is academically right on par for most things and above where he needs to be on the rest. Here's the bad: He's having some difficulties socializing and here's the ugly: Gabe's teacher is pretty sure he has ADHD (attention deficit hyper activity disorder) Here's the even uglier part, all the research I've done today says that more than likely he DOES have ADHD because children with spina bifida are more likely to have it than children without and the ugly uglier part? Children with spina bifida AND shunted hydrocephalus are even MORE likely than kids with just spina bifida to have ADHD. Going over the symptoms check list with Geo was a sobering experience; on Friday Gabe will start the formal evaluation process to see if indeed we are dealing with ADHD. I suppose a part of me has always wondered if that was the case; he has a hard time transitioning, he goes at 1000 miles an hour, and he has trouble focusing on tasks at hand without someone sitting right with him working on it.

It fits, it really does and Geo and I wondered to ourselves out loud, how in the hell we had missed the red flag signs and symptoms.

Here's the thing, I can deal with Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus. I can deal with orthodics and physical therapy, I can deal with tripping and falling, shunts in the head, and latex allergies. I can even deal with open spine surgery, brain surgery, and medical bills totaling over a million dollars in less than five years. I can do that. I can and HAVE dealt with ALL of those things...but adding one new thing to the mix, something as complicated as ADHD? That's a whole new animal in and of itself. Spina bifida or ADHD I could do, no problem. It's the putting them together that I don't know if I can handle.

Friday we go in to start the formal evaluation on Gabriel; I'll know more from there and know what our plan of attack will be. If you are the praying kind, please say an extra prayer for our family as we go forward with the next part of our journey with Gabriel. Thank you

Monday, November 2, 2009

Gobble Gobble

Gabriel came home with a very important assignment; disguise Tom Turkey so no one can eat him on Thanksgiving. Geo and Gabe being the Blackhawks nuts they are decided to turn him into Patrick Kane, stud right wing for the Hawks. Much fun was had by both of the boys as they transformed Tom Turkey into Tom Turkane...see if you can pick the biggest "turkey" out of the bunch (hint, she's wearing Tinkerbell pjs he he)




Sunday, November 1, 2009

Late, again

Man oh man, this whole "Thankful Thursday" is rough for me-I'm either early or late, I think I've only been on time ONCE since I started. Oh well, the point was to post something I am thankful for once a week and that's what I've been doing, even if it is late :P

Today, for Thankful Sunday Thursday, I'd like to sing the praises of my wonderful husband, George.

George busts his butt each week at work to provide for us, he's great about taking over the housework when I can't (like today's housework since I've got two papers to write, and just finished a quiz and a test ugh!) He's an excellent father to Gabe and SarahAnne; always putting their interests first and most of all he is a wonderful husband. He always treats me with love and respect and works hard to fulfill all of our wedding vows that we made to one another. After eight years of marriage and nearly 13 years together, I am more and more grateful for his love and companionship that I was before. Geo, you're pretty fabulous and I'm lucky to call you my husband!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

crunch crunch

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
-Albert Camus




Saturday, October 24, 2009

Great News Regarding Mia

Just a quick post; I received a call this afternoon letting us know that Mia Hays has been found safe and sound. Thank you for all your kind words, prayers, and good thoughts. We all appreciate them!

Friday, October 23, 2009

woohoo!!

This weekend is our annual Witkowski Family Fall weekend :) Geo's grandparents are en route to Illinois and we'll be getting together with not only them, but Geo's dad and step mom as well tomorrow! Grandma is bring her famous meatballs and we're just going to enjoy each other's company tomorrow as they are calling for a snow/rain mix in the morning and then cruddy rain for the rest of the day :( Oh well, meatballs and grandmas and grandpas are always fun...sadly the Michigan Witkowski Clan won't be joining us this time...but they'll be here in November for Geo's birthday!

Have a great weekend everyone :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Theme Thursday: Thankfulness

A bit early this week because I work in the morning...

I'm especially thankful for feet, particularly the little itty bitty ones that started out smaller than the eye could see and now happily clomp around the house. The pitter patter of little feet is a lovely sound :D

picture of Bitsy and Gabe's feet, Bits was six weeks old, Gabe was a bit over three. This picture, almost two and a half years later is still one of my very favorites of the kids together.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Uh oh

We're in trouble here people. Gabe's in kindergarten and has friends...friends with CABLE. Friends who know what the "cool" toys are. For weeks all Gabriel has talked about is Battle Bots (or something) They are Bakugans (again, huh??) and according to Gabe (and Yahoo!) they are the coolest of the cool and he just HAS TO HAVE THEM for Christmas. *sigh* Really? Really?! Seriously? Is he already old enough to JUST HAVE TO HAVE IT?! when it comes to things?

We were out in our local sprawlWal*Mart this evening and lo and behold, what did I see? Bakugan super awesome gotta have battle bot thingees. Woo hoo. Now I know what he's talking about, and yeah, they are kind of cool. They are robots (??) battle bots (??) Weird little things that you roll and they pop open and you attack your opponents with them? I have no clue how it works and I suspect Gabriel doesn't either, BUT while Gabe and Geo were perusing the five dollar movie bin (our favorite part of Wal*Mart) I stealthily picked the coolest bakugan and stuck it in the cart. One gift down...
a picture of the most amazing, gotta have it or I will wither away and die, Christmas gift

Oops

I have been having midterm exams all week and totally breezed by Thankful Thursday...so I'll make it up today.

This week I am especially thankful for our health. After an interesting visit with a chiropractor I am thanking my lucky stars that we are all happy and healthy, I'm thankful that we have excellent (albeit pricey)insurance, and an amazing set of doctors at our beck and call. Gabe's doctors alone are worth their weight in gold.

Now if THAT'S not something to be thankful for, I don't know WHAT is ;)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Three Weeks and Counting

It's been three weeks since Mia Hays went missing; three weeks since anyone has seen or heard from her, three weeks since her sweet little Bella has been with her, and three weeks since her mom, who adores and dotes on her has seen her. It's been three weeks and yet...there's barely any headway being made on her case. After an exhausting day of dealing with the media, I managed to get a few things in the news, but that was two weeks ago. This weekend we went to the Scare Crow Festival in St. Charles and passed out missing fliers; our rough estimate is that we got out about 700 of them in a two day period. There are a few different facebook pages set up for Mia, there is a blog set up for Mia, and we, her family and friends, continue to make calls, send emails, and talk to people about her disappearance.

The most difficult part of Mia's disappearance for me is that it's leaving me with a very unsettled feeling. A month ago, I had no issue with the kids going to the arcade in the bowling alley a few feet from the lanes by themselves, now I'm so paranoid something is going to happen that I am hovering. I want them near me as much as possible, especially in public. I know that if they are WITH me, they are safe. As I've begun working more and more on finding Mia, I'm being contacted by people with missing children of all ages. Yesterday I was clipping coupons and came across a "Have you seen me" that made me full on sob. The girl in question went missing at 8 and THIRTY YEARS later she was still missing. Thirty years. I cannot even imagine the anguish that family has suffered, worried for thirty years where their little girl is. I wonder how that family has even managed to move on with their lives knowing a piece of them is gone. Awful, just awful.

I hope that everyone will continue to keep Mia and her family in their prayers, I've spent a considerable amount of time with Mia's mom and daughter in the last few weeks and know that they are hurting, they want, they need, they must HAVE this missing piece of their family back. Take a look at this picture, if you've seen Mia or even THOUGHT you've seen Mia, contact the Geneva Police at (630) 232-4736.

Thank you

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Theme Thursday: Thankfulness

It's no secret that I enjoy alliteration; I absolutely adore all things alliterative :)

In the spirit of loving alliteration and following a theme for Thursdays, I'd like to introduce you to Thankful Thursday. Each Thursday I am going to post about something that I am particularly thankful for...I'll try to control my alliterations, but I can't make any promises...

Today, Thursday October 8,I am thankful for the Greatest (daughter) of all time...
so sweet, super sassy, surprisingly social SarahAnne :D

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Adventures in Casting

The last time Gabe was casted, we decided to document it for posterity his classmates so they understood how Gabriel got his cast...I thought I would share a few of the pictures with all of you :)

First Gabe's PT, Brian, stretches his ankle and muscle to see exactly how much range of motion he has. He had 8 degrees of motion in this picture (18-20 is normal)


The casting process begins...a big cotton sock to protect his skin from the plaster


The plaster is put on-the worst part of this for Gabriel is that Brian (or whomever is doing the casting) has to push on his foot/ankle to get it into the proper position to stretch out that muscle. They obviously cannot measure him while he's in plaster, so they just push as much as they can and hope they get a good stretch


Now for Gabe's favorite part, the colors! The top layer of his cast is fiberglass; it's lightweight and colored. He usually chooses either orange and blue or red and black (Bears and Blackhawks-he's Geo's son for sure!!) This time, however, he got black and orange for Halloween (they were out of blue and red ha ha)





and now we're finished; I tried to get Gabe to sit next to Brian for a picture together, instead they decided to make funny faces at one another :) Mr. Brian is fabulous, we're so lucky to have him as Gabe's physical therapist!! In case anyone was wondering, Gabe ended up gaining 10 degrees of motion after three days in his cast-back to normal!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

SarahAnne loves you Julia...


SarahAnne has all of the sudden turned into Bob Dole (well, all except the ED medication advertising and the Republican leanings haha) SarahAnne speaks almost completely in third person now. Every time she needs something she says "Bitsy needs a drink" or "SarahAnne needs the potty" My favorite so far? "Bitsy loves her momma, does momma love her bitsy?" SO cute.

She's also started this running commentary in a low whisper thing. As she's playing or reading, or whatever, she runs a commentary of what she's doing. Sometimes in the car she sings her commentary which is even cuter than the talking commentary. Bits has a "Yoda" voice as Geo and I call it, that cracks us up to no end. We never know what's going to trigger the Yoda voice but we love hearing it.

So far this morning, Bits has played with a mouse (thanks Boni cat for bringing it to her *sigh*) and put the cat in time out for scratching her. Her exact words? "You need a time out in your bed, Boni cat, you are not being nice" *shakes head* oh Bitsy girl...

*a shiny nickel to anyone who can tell me where my title is from he he

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Field Trip

Today was Gabe's first field trip; I went with him and his 22 classmates, three other chaperons, and his teacher to Black Berry Farms, which is an apple orchard, among other things. The kids had a blast eating apple butter, checking out the orchard on a "hay" ride, and watching Tom (who was CRAZY as a bedbug, seriously) grind apples to make cider. Very interesting and enjoyable for the little ones.

This afternoon I spent my birthday relaxing and reading...what more could the birthday girl want?! he he

SarahAnne has begun talking in her sleep...she had a full conversation with Geo tonight about fixing her clothes *laughs* silly girl

On another, completely unrelated note, Mia Hays has still NOT been found...please keep her and her family (specifically her two year old daughter Bella) in your thoughts and prayers.

This birthday girl is tired...and will post again soon with pics of the kiddos...g'nite all!

Friday, September 25, 2009

PLEASE READ AND PASS ALONG

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GIRL



PLEASE READ AND PASS ALONG...

MIA B. HAYS...LAST SEEN ON 9/22/09 IN ST. CHARLES/GENEVA @ 8:30 P.M.
Age: 20
Description : 5'5" Tall, 125 Lbs., short brown hair, brown eyes (wears glasses). Wearing a denim skirt and white shirt.
Any Information please contact: Geneva Police Department 630-232-4736 or St. Charles Police Department 630-377-4435.

MIA IS THE DAUGHTER OF A VERY CLOSE FAMILY FRIEND...PLEASE HELP US FIND HER, HER MOMMA AND TWO YEAR OLD ARE SCARED TO DEATH!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

*Peek-a-Boo*


Bits and Gabe see YOU!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

*I* am your advocate

Gabriel is five years, seven months, and one day old. Since I was 31 weeks pregnant with him, I've been advocating on his behalf. It started with the doctor who wanted me to abort him and has gone from doctors, therapists, family, friends, and, most recently, school faculty.

For those who are unfamiliar and are hesitant to ask questions, allow me to explain. Gabriel was born with Spina Bifida on the L5-S1 region of his spine (nearly his tailbone) Because of the S.B., he was also born with hydrocephalus and Type II Chiari Malformation of the brain. The three of these combined had the potential to be a serious disability for him, however, by some miracle of God, it hasn't been. He walks, runs, jumps, uses the bathroom, has fine motor skills, is above average in intelligence, and other than wearing an orthodic brace on his weak ankle and seeing four thousand sixty two doctors once a year, he's a pretty typical five and a half year old.

To be honest, the doctors and therapists he sees are flabbergasted. They have NO clue why he can do all of these things and why he does them so well. Gabe's neurosurgeon, whom we refer to as "The NeuroGod" (because he's absolutely amazing) always smiles and says "he's just our little miracle" this man has been working with children who have spina bifida for nearly 30 years and can't explain it. Gabriel's physical therapist, another amazing individual, can't explain why Gabe can walk the way he can, or why he can skip, jump, hop on the trampoline, or play soccer like a pro (no really, the child is a soccer whiz, it's insane). Gabriel's nephrologist (aka the kidney/bladder/bowel guy) does not understand why he has full bowel and bladder control because he shouldn't. The kidney reflux Gabriel was born with and SHOULD have need surgery to fix has gone away...how? why? WHAT?

I have a theory, actually, about why Gabriel can do all of these things and why he will continue to do these things. First off, in this family, we never underestimate the power of God. Never, ever ever. We aren't particularly religious, to be fair, but we are spiritual and we believe that God can and will do things for those who are faithful. Gabriel, for the record, means "Miracle of God" :D

Secondly, we've never told Gabriel that he wasn't *supposed* to do any of these things! We've never told him that he had spina bifida and he shouldn't walk, run, etc. He knows he has spina bifida, yes, because he noticed his scar one day and wanted to know what it was from, but he has no clue what that means. When doctors and therapists told us it couldn't be done, we disagreed with them, sometimes to the point where we LEFT their office to show that WE, as his parents, knew what was best for him and HOW to do it. (yes, we were, and continue to be, that arrogant) When people, both familiar and unfamiliar, criticized us and things we were doing with Gabriel, we proved them wrong; we let Gabriel and his accomplishments do the "talking" so to speak.

We've surrounded ourselves with people who believe in not only us, but more importantly, in Gabriel. We've made a point to cut negativity out of our lives; we don't have the time OR energy for that. People who speak to us rudely and treat us like we've done something wrong don't deserve or receive our time or energy anymore. In the beginning statements like "you did something wrong" "what did you do to screw up your kid?" and "how does it feel to know you did this to your child?" used to hurt and would keep me up crying. Going to appointments where we were told Gabe wouldn't be able to do x, y, or z would worry me for days...and if I'm honest, these things still bother me, but not nearly as much because I know that what George and I do for Gabriel, every single day is the "proof in the pudding" so to speak. We don't justify our actions to anyone. They can question and criticize if they'd like, but I don't respond anymore. I just don't. It's not worth it; focusing my energy on Gabriel (and his little pain in the butt sister ha ha) is what I do now.

Why do I do this? Why do I not respond anymore? Because I am Gabe's voice. I am Gabe's advocate. I am the one who has to speak for Gabriel and I ought to be doing it politely, or I won't teach him anything. I educate people, I respond to people's questions and pity politely. I smile when we're stared at, I pray for those who say nasty things, and I make sure, in no uncertain terms that Gabriel knows that I will always continue to fight for him and for what he needs. Even when Gabe is 58 years old, an old married man with maybe a grandchild or two, I will fight for him. There is no backing down, there is no backing off, Gabriel deserves, and will receive, the most that life has to offer and I will be damned if he isn't going to get that. I've never told him any differently and I'm not about to start to either.

Special needs parents MUST be the advocate for their child. Your child cannot speak for him/herself and needs YOU to do it. It's going to be unpleasant, embarrassing at times, and down right heartbreaking to do it sometimes; it's going to cause rifts in relationships (that probably weren't very strong to begin with) it's going to cost money (oh yes, doctors and therapists are expensive and a lot of times insurance companies do NOT like you switching doctors because you didn't agree with the doc/therapist) and, quite frankly, it's going to be exhausting and very lonely sometimes...but we do it for the good of our children. We do it so their voices are heard. We do it, not for ourselves, but for THEM...because at the very least, they deserve it.



*As a heads up, as it gets closer to October (Spina Bifida Awareness Month) I'll be doing more posts like these; Special needs parenting is a huge part of the Witkowski Clan's life and I'll be expressing that more and more in the coming weeks.

Friday, September 18, 2009

*flutter flutter*

Yesterday at lunch, Gabriel asked for another sandwich (the child is growing like a weed and eating accordingly) I said sure and turned around to make him one. As I was handing him his sandwich he said "oh, here, take this tooth, will you?" and put something in my hand. Stunned I looked down and said "what IS this Gabe?" He smiled a gapper grin and said "it's my tooff" Sure enough, it was a tooth. I asked if it had been loose and he said "yeah, it was loose so I just twisted it and it came out, but how will I get a new one now? Do we need to call the doctor or what?" I stifled a laugh and told him that a new tooth would grow in it's spot in a few weeks and not to worry about it. He looked impressed and said "a new tooff is moving in!" (amazing how one tooth missing can make a difference in speech!)

And...a parenting fail. The tooth fairy forgot to leave Gabriel anything this morning. Whoops. In her defense, the tooth was not left under his pillow :P Better luck next time Gabe ha ha (just kidding, she'll come tonight)

Monday, September 14, 2009

"The Kissing Hand"


The Kissing Hand


SarahAnne loves raccoons. LOVES them. I'm not sure why, but they make her totally melt and say "oooooh cute" whenever she sees one. She has pair of great grandparents who have been kind enough to help with the raccoon obsession (they aren't as easy to find as one may think!) For her birthday this year, she was given the book "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn. It's the sweetest book about a baby raccoon going off to school for the first time. Absolutely adorable and even makes this momma tear up a bit (hey, MY baby just went to school for the first time, gimme a break ha ha)

Imagine my surprise when Gabriel's teacher sent home a note telling us that not only would they be reading "The Kissing Hand" but Chester the Raccoon would be coming home to have a sleep over with us!! Tonight is our sleep over night and poor SarahAnne is heartbroken to not be able to carry Chester all over. She keeps finding him (he's sleeping in his bag right now)and snuggling him and talking to him. I guess my goal this weekend is to find our very own Chester Raccoon so she can have one to schnoogle all to herself.

Now for a few pictures, since we haven't had any in a while :)
Gabe and Chester


Bits schnoogling Chester

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