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




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.


Monday, September 21, 2009


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 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

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Note About Birthdays...

Today I spoke to my adorable godson who was celebrating his ninth birthday with a party this afternoon. He turned nine, actually, on 09-09-09 which is probably the coolest way to spend your golden birthday if you ask me. He was giddy, telling me about his presents telling me he had "so much money" he was taking me out for dinner, his treat. Man do I love that little guy...

This afternoon my niece is celebrating her 2nd birthday. TWO, already. I swear it as only a week or two ago when I was on the phone with Katie as her water was breaking. Two, really? REALLY?

Birthdays are a fact of life; if you want to be alive, you MUST have birthdays. Birthdays mark the passing of time; growing up, getting wiser, more mature the whole nine yards.

Last night Geo and I started our Friday night bowling league (Children of the Corn is gonna win it all this year, watch out!) It was really really odd and unsettling, to say the least, to see some of the people we were bowling with because they had bowled junior leagues with Geo's little brother Joey. It's been five years since we lost Joey and while some days it feels like five years, most of the time it seems like it was just yesterday. All of these "kids" are now in their early 20's. They hadn't even hit puberty when we started watching them bowl, now they are of legal drinking age-how in the world did that happen? When I think of Joey, it's hard to imagine him being of legal age, graduating from college, bowling in adult leagues, doing all the things that all of his peers and friends are doing now. He's forever going to be 16 in all of our minds because that's how he left us.

On the night I left Gabriel in the hospital (five days after his birth-day)I came to the startling realization that just because *my* world had stopped it did not mean the rest of the world stopped, or even CARED that my world had stopped. Last night, seeing all of those grown up kids (adult league? REALLY??) really really reinforced that again; our world may have stopped (momentarily) when we lost Joey but the rest of the world did not. They went on growing, maturing and celebrating birthdays...

As I approach my 30th birthday (yes, really) I'm realizing what a gift each day is; not just the special occasions but the simple mundane days. The days where Geo, the kids, and I sit on the patio and watch cars whiz by, the days when SarahAnne colors my hair, the days when Gabe comes home from school telling me about Mother Goose, the days when friends visit, the days when nothing at all of any significance happens. Our days ARE let's celebrate!

A very happy birthday (on Monday) to our little sweetie Aubrey Rose...and to all of the other September birthday celebrators (is that even a word? It must be, Mozilla didn't tell me I spelled it wrong ha ha) enjoy your days...and your gifts

Friday, September 11, 2009

An Itty Bitty Bitsy Update

As promised earlier this week, a Bitsy update. Oh Bitsy girl. What a little love, what a joy to be around, what a pain in my neck :P

Bits is nearly two and a half (just a few more days now) and is 100% two year old and 100% girl. Her favorite color is pink, she carries around a doll all day long, and sleeps with forty two stuffed animals and approximately sixteen babies*

She talks a blue streak, thinks her bruhby is the most amazing person ever, and torments the poor cat on a daily basis. She seems to think that Boni cat is her real live baby to play with, this morning I found her trying to give him a "bottle" of milk. To say that the cat was not amused would be an understatement (and God love that cat, he didn't scratch, bite, or hiss. He merely looked at me and I swear he sighed and shrugged his shoulders as if to say "she's two, what can ya' do??")

She and I are enjoying our mornings to ourselves. We put on our aprons, we do our housework, we usually cook something together. She gets excited when the bus pulls in the driveway and this afternoon she said to the bus driver "thank you for bringing my bruhby back to me" She hugs and kisses Gabriel like she hasn't seen him in months, then promptly starts to annoy him.

Bits has started doing somersaults all over the house (but thank God, not on the stairs) wears her "tip taps" (tap shoes) whenever possible, and is on the go from the moment she gets up until she finally collapses at night, snoring like a little beast.

Lately she likes to "help" me with my hair. Apparently she overheard me telling Geo I'd like to get highlights in my hair because yesterday while I sat on the floor working at the computer (my desk is currently a box and a footstool, don't judge me!)she took a yellow highlighter and proceeded to write all over my forehead and hair. I was fairly engrossed in my homework so I didn't notice that it was indeed a yellow highlighter until the giggling started-I was just relieved she hadn't tried to pull out my earring again to be honest, and didn't figure she'd ACTUALLY write on me. *sigh* Oh well...

Now it's off to chase Bitsy down and see if we can get a nap in before we go bowling tonight...odds are no one will nap, but we'll give it the ole' college try!

*give or take a few dozen at any given time

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Young Love

Ah yes, Gabriel, my little ladies man. *sigh* Women of all ages adore him and he eats up their attention.

Last week, on the third day of school, Gabriel said to Geo and I, "Dad, can I wear some of your 'oderant?" I asked him what in the world he would need it for and he answered "So I can smell good on the bus" Okay, fair enough, daddy takes him to the bathroom and gives him a little bit of Old Spice deodorant. Gabe is sitting on the couch, smelling good when he drops this little bombshell "M* is good for kissing on the bus" Whoa, whoa, whoa, back that train of thought up little man, I think and ask, calmly I might add, "who is M and why are you kissing on the bus?" He informs me that M is his girlfriend and they sit together and she kisses him. *face palm* As daddy stifles giggles (that's right, Geo giggles, you read it here first) I calmly tell him that we do NOT kiss girls (or anyone for that matter) on the bus and that we may HUG our friends, but we are NOT allowed to kiss them. Gabriel says "But but but! SHE KISSES ME. I don't kiss HER"

I thought we had heard the end of the M saga, being that Gabriel is five years old and a fickle creature at best, until last week when we stopped into a girlfriends' house. Said girlfriend happens to watch M after school. M was there (and oh so cute, nice work Gabe ha ha) and so was her very large, very bald, VERY tattooed and scary looking father, who when introduced to Gabriel said "OH YOU'RE the Gabe M talks about" I thought it would be funny to share the kissing story. Bad idea. Lesson learned: Fathers do NOT like their daughters being kissed, even innocently by five year old boys who INSIST the girl was doing all the kissing, he was just there. M's father and I gave a joint talk to the kiddos about germs and kissing and that hugging our friends was fine but no kissing. Then M's father asked for Geo's cell phone number and his exact work address with a far off look in his eyes. he he. Just kidding. He was a very nice man actually and his wife was pleasant as well.

Oh Gabriel...getting so big so quickly.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I'm back from my hiatus :D We're slowly but surely getting settled into the farmhouse. We absolutely love it here. LOVE.IT. The kids are thriving and are calmer and more relaxed than I've seen them in quite some time. I have a feeling having their own space is making a huge difference for them, I know it's making a difference for Geo and I.

I have a lot to update on and will do it in future posts; Gabe at school, Gabe and his *gasp* girlfriend, and a full on Bitsy update (whew, what a big girl!!)

For now, though, this will have to suffice :)


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