Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Braces, X-Rays, and Kinesio Tape - An Update on Eloise

I realized today I haven't written an update about Eloise in a while! So, here's some quick info on where we're at with her foot. (If you want to catch up on what's going on with her you can do so here and here).

Yesterday we had an appointment with pediatric orthopedics to get some x-rays done and just confirm that nothing is wrong with Eloise's hips, knees, or feet that could be causing her right foot to turn in. The x-rays came back all normal, which means that the cause of her in-turned foot is neurological. That means that it's stemming from the brain, not from any deformity in her bone structure. This is what we were expecting as we are pretty sure her condition stems from a brain injury or disease as an infant.

The orthopedist is pretty sure she does not have cerebral palsy but a possible mild form of dystonia is still on the table. He mentioned Botox as a possible option in the future and also mentioned that in a year we can reassess if she needs to continue wearing her brace or not. He was positive and encouraging, saying that her condition is very mild and he expects it to stay that way! We have appointments to see all of her doctors (pediatric physiatrist, neurologist, orthopedist, etc) again in 6-12 months, at which time they'll reassess her condition and treatment.

In the mean time we are still doing weekly physical therapy at Wolfson's and she is supposed to be wearing a foot brace all of her waking hours. I say "supposed to" because it's a constant struggle to get her to wear it. She loves to either be barefoot or wearing her ballet shoes - neither of which she can do with her brace on. =(

When she first got her brace a few months ago, she started out with a smaller brace that just reached the ankle but her physical therapist wasn't happy with it as it didn't seem to do much to straighten out her foot. Yesterday she got a new brace, one that reaches half way up her calf and controls her leg much more. I do think her foot is pretty straight with this one on and am hoping that I can get her to wear it enough to help retrain her leg/brain how her foot is supposed to turn when she walks!

Eloise also gets something called kinesio tape at each PT visit. It's a blue tape that the therapist wraps up her leg that pulls on the muscles in her leg, teaching them to pull outward instead of inward when she walks. The tape stays on for about 5 days, then falls off, then she gets more at her next appointment.

In addition to what is going on with her foot, Eloise has been getting a rash on her face and sores on her legs and feet since she was a baby so we are trying to get to the bottom of that. We have been seeing allergists and dermatologists to try and figure out what it going on. I swear, this girl LOVES doctors! (Actually she hates them, poor thing!)

Overall we are hopeful! We don't know if her condition will worsen over time. We don't know if it will ever be corrected. We don't know if we'll ever know what is causing it. But one thing we know is that the Lord keeps giving us the strength to deal with each new development, each new doctors appointment (God knows how hard it is to take 3 kids to the doctor by myself!), and whatever each day brings. For now we are thankful for a sweet, happy girl who doesn't let a little in-turned foot keep her from much of anything! Praise Him!!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Living in a Martha Season

Today I have a very special guest on my blog! My dear friend Rebekah from Surviving Toddlerhood has come over to share some thoughts with us! I first met Rebekah in a childbirth class in Fremont, MI when I was pregnant with Isaiah and she was pregnant with her son, Seth. Our boys were both born 3 weeks early, in the same hospital, just days apart! We have been friends ever since. =) 

Rebekah has two boys and is currently pregnant with her third baby. Although she still lives in Michigan and I've moved here, there, and everywhere, we have remained friends over the years. I know you'll enjoy what she has to share today!

A few days ago I noticed a status that came through my Facebook feed.  A fellow momma of littles was sharing how she wanted to be spending her time like Mary, but life was getting in the way and she was having a hard time dealing with that.

It made me rather sad.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being able to spend hours of your time with Jesus, listening to him, calling on him, reading the Word and journaling, but sometimes as mommas of littles it is hard to do that. And guilt sets in. Guilt over what we aren't doing.

The pressure to be Mary is everywhere. Look in any Christian bookstore and you will find shelves full of books on how to be a better wife and mother. One common theme that runs through them is an early morning quiet time before anyone else rises and how to be a Mary who spends her time worshipping at her Lord's feet.

This is what my devotional schedule used to look like......

I had a whole list of things I wanted to do every time I sat down. The only problem, I have two littles who like attention and every time they interrupted me I started yelling at them for interrupting my "devotions". Not really very Christ like behavior, but I had goals and the goals needed to get done. If I didn't get all the things read that I was supposed to then I wouldn't accomplish one of my goals for the year of reading through the Bible, but how much was I teaching my boys if I was raising my voice every time they needed something and I was reading/journaling/studying?

Of course the answer must be to get up earlier right? Jesus rose early and went to spend time with his Father... But that doesn't work for me for a couple of reasons {if it works for you that is great!} 1. if I have a baby who isn't sleeping through the night yet, 2.if I have to get up a bazillion times to use the bathroom during pregnancy, 3. or if my thyroid is being crazy. I have tried it but it was always driven by guilt. Guilt that I wasn't being a "good" Christian. Guilt that if I wasn't getting up early to spend time with the Lord than I couldn't be a good wife and mother.

Being Martha doesn't mean that there is not time for fellowship with God, but that we spend time with him while serving.

There is a time to be Mary and there is also a time to be Martha. My time to be Martha is now. I am serving God by serving others. By training my sons, loving and honoring my husband, keeping my house mostly acceptable. Later when my children are grown and can take more responsibility themselves then it could be my time to be Mary. 

Martha got a rebuke from Jesus not because of what she was doing but because of her attitude while she was serving.  She was distracted, anxious and troubled that her sister was not helping to serve her Lord. Her sister was sitting there doing nothing to get a meal ready for this man who was the Son of God.  Her heart wasn't in the right place. Her actions weren't wrong. Her attitude was.

Here are some practical ways to spend time with the Father while also serving our families:

1. Find a good children's Bible and read it with your littles.
We have The Jesus Storybook Bible and we LOVE it! I love how it shows the thread of Christ through the whole Bible.  I learn lessons from this children's Bible probably more than my boys do.

2. Write out verses on blank note cards and hang them where you can read them often.
On the bathroom mirror, on the window above the sink, anywhere you will see them and be reminded of the truths of God's word is the place to hang these verse cards.

3. Play Christian music in the house.
We have just started pulling out our cd's again and listening to music while we clean or play. It helps me to stay focused during the day and there really are less fights and less yelling that goes on while the music is playing. It helps everyone. I do have a couple of children's praise cd's but mostly we just listen to mine. Aaron Shust, Chris Tomlin, Amy Grant, Micheal W. Smith.... {I haven't bought a cd in a really long time okay? :-)}

4. Try to pray more than just at mealtimes.
If there are bad attitudes happening, heart correction is easier if we rely on God's strength not our own. This is me more than my boys honestly. We have prayed about favorite lost toys, over many owies and we have thanked God for lightbulbs and trains. Teaching your child that everything matters to God is something that will never be forgotten.  We are also told to pray without ceasing, so whenever you get a moment throw some thoughts heavenward .

5. Train your toddlers and preschoolers to leave you alone for ten to fifteen minutes.
This gives you a chance to sit down and read a few verses, meditate on them or pray over your day. I like to throw in a movie and make a cup of coffee to sip on for a few minutes. Now I know I just said that I'm in a Martha season, so this may seem to contradict everything I have said so far, but to survive toddlerhood at my house, I do need those few quiet moments. Because I really can't do it on my own. I need to lean on Jesus.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Do What Makes You Oh-So Happy (Not)

I came across this cute little sign last week while I was browsing the decorations aisle at Target (you know, because I go down that aisle every time I go to Target...). The sign says, "do what makes you oh-so happy". And as soon as I saw it, I immediately got defensive and thought, "That's not true! Life is not about doing what makes us happy!"

Even God did and does things that don't necessarily make Him happy.... sending Jesus to die on the cross comes to mind. God sent Jesus (and He went willingly) to the cross but it was not with happiness over His painful death. It was with deep sorrow that He had to do this to save His creation in the first place. Also, I think about the consequences the Lord bestows upon humans because of sin. I don't believe He punishes us with happiness but instead with sadness over our disobedience, just as I don't discipline my children with joy but with grief over the choices they've made. God does things that are just and right, not necessarily things that always make Him (or us) happy.

You see, life isn't really about happiness at all. Sure there will be plenty of happy times! God has given us {SO MANY THINGS} to bring us JOY in this life!!! And because we are children of God, I believe our Father desires happiness for us just as you and I do for our children. But the Bible surely doesn't teach Christians to do whatever makes them happy. There are many things I can think of that would be fun and would make me super happy but I know, without a doubt, would be against the Word of God. When we live our lives trying to do whatever it takes to make us "oh-so happy" we often end up oh-so miserable in a life of sin. Chasing worldly happiness eventually comes up empty. Because only living a life in obedience to Christ can bring deep, everlasting joy and happiness.

I'd rather do what honors the Lord in the long run than what make me oh-so happy in the moment. How about you?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hey Dads: A Man of Sayings for the Man of Sorrows

In honor of {Throw Back Thursday}, this Thursday I am posting from our blog The Hutcheson Headline that we used while living in Uganda from 2012-2013. The post below was originally published by Drew on February 27, 2012. You can view it here if you'd like to see the original version.

Because Father's Day is just around the corner, I thought that this Throw Back Thursday Post should honor one of the best dad's I know - my husband! In looking through our old blog for a TBT post for today I came across this post where Drew listed some of the sayings that he lives by and teaches his kids. I can attest that Drew truly is a man of sayings. He is currently teaching the kids The Two P's - Patience and Perseverance. Both Isaiah and Eloise know The Two P's and what they mean!

I am incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful man as my husband and the father of my children. I am so thankful for the time that he invests in training our children in the Lord and how he aims to leave them a godly legacy. I'm so proud of that man! 

Happy Father's Day!

Hey Dads: A Man of Sayings for the Man of Sorrows

Below is my collection thus far of some quotes, one-liners, and their explanation (if need be) I have collected from others over the years and or have created from something I've learned. I want to instill these into my children.

"Envy is the seed of discontentment; it gives birth to chaos!" - From James 3:16

"Teach-ability is the posture of humility."

"You can have the best jam in town, but if you spread it on too thin, the toast is no good." - Stewart Hamrick, on spreading yourself too thin in life.

"God will not protect you from anything he will perfect you through." - Bill Muntz on losing his toddler son to a drowning accident.

"Per-se-vere is a three syllable word. Just as 'life'." Referring to life being birth, living, and dying and that trials will come. But we're to persevere well through all 3 eras.

"Unresolved anger is like bad coffee." Referring to unresolved anger or bitterness being like coffee on the burner for too long. If you drink pop over coffee, then it's like pop that's gone flat.

"Discipline is doing what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, when it needs to be done, regardless of how you feel." - Ron Sauer, Greek Prof at Moody Bible Institute

"Cheer for the team, even in defeat." - On loyalty

"Do > Say." - On James 1, being a person of action makes for more influence than merely a person of words.

"Be offensive towards defensiveness." - Referring to being a person who takes ownership of mistakes.

"Who cares if God doesn't?" - On learning in life what matters to the Lord.

Leaving a legacy our children will be proud to carry on is a more difficult feat to conquer than ever. Amidst so many distractions our world promotes today, it is more of a sheer fight to focus on what really matters most.

You can easily look at one's Twitter or Facebook page and easily see where their priorities are. No, I'm not trying to play the role of judge nor cirtic. I just often find many disclosing things virally which are a tad weightless and vain. Do you agree? (And I myself have been victim of this.)

Having said this, one thing I have come to want to be known for by Isaiah and future children, as well as friends and family, is to be a man of sayings for the Man of sorrows. Simply meaning, I want to have several expressions, phrases, figure of speech which I collect or create which teach a life-lesson, a principal, or a token of character. They don't have to be from the Bible or even from a Christian. But, I would love for the greater portion of them to help me and those who hear me say them live life well, and in turn, reflect the work God has done in me through his cultivating grace.

Trying to conquer fixing the sink together.
As I am a young father, I write this post with other young dads, older dads, and future ones in mind. As we're all terminal, and as life is such a blink, seemingly smoke on a mirror, it will be what we did and were known for which lives on following our passing. What is so awesome is that even our words are seeds which give birth to action in the lives of others. Hence, what we say and how we say it hold great potential in leading others in how they may live. Therefore, I want to be known not merely for the things I do, but for what I say.

If you have any that you could add to the list or you say often, I'd like to know - so please share!

Monday, June 15, 2015

OneDay - The Super Easy Way to Create Video Memories of Your Kids

I discovered a new app a few weeks ago that is incredibly easy to use and creates beautiful memories of my children (the type that I don't usually have time to create!) with minimal work.

The app is called OneDay - Instant Movie Maker and can be found in the app store. It is free!!

From the OneDay app site:

"OneDay makes it fun to create short movies of your life with a few simple steps. You open the app, pick a question from a wide selection of fun story sets, and record your answers. Then the app automatically stitches the recorded videos together, and adds music to make quality, priceless movies to share with family and friends."

OneDay is quick and simple to use. The app prompts you what questions to ask based on the theme you have chosen, records the person's answers, and then puts them together in a fun video. The videos are not just for kids, thought that's what I mainly use the app for. They have videos for adults and holiday themes as well. They even have videos you can use for babies to record their giggle or them rolling over. It gives you a cute, funny, memorable video without the work!

From the i-tunes OneDay app site.
A sample of the adult videos from the app on my phone. 
Check out the video that I made of Isaiah. Such cute answers that I will treasure forever. I really think this app will help me take more videos of my kids. I'm often overwhelmed at trying to make cute videos of them but this takes the thought out of it!

They have several Father's Day themed ones right now that would be perfect to brighten up the day of the dad in your life. Go check them out!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Madness at Mandela Stadium: Happy Birthday Drew!

In honor of {Throw Back Thursday}, this Thursday I am posting from our blog The Hutcheson Headline that we used while living in Uganda from 2012-2013. The post below was originally published by Drew on June 10, 2012. You can view it here if you'd like to see the original version.

Since today's Throw Back Thursday also happens to be my sweet husband's birthday, I thought it'd be fitting to post one of his old posts for today. Drew wrote this post after going to his first soccer game in Uganda almost exactly 3 years ago (June 10, 2012). 

I know Drew wishes he could be at a sporting event in Uganda for this birthday too. We all miss Uganda so much! But we'll celebrate here in Florida and hopefully have just as much fun.

Happy Birthday, Drew!! I'm so thankful for the blessing you are in my life and look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you! 

Madness At Mandela Stadium!

This past Saturday, my father-in-law (dad), and Janae (one of Amber's little sisters) had an incredible experience: We went to a 2014 World Cup qualifier match at Mandela Stadium and watch the Uganda Cranes battle against the Senegal Lions! Some of my IJM colleagues joined us and we had an unforgettable time as it would be quite hard to forget an atmosphere as loud and electric as the below videos portray.
Jump Mzungu, jump!
*This is the penalty kick from dad's view*

This was the video taken by dad (my father-in-law), Mark. Feel free to laugh as much as I do each time I watch this video.

*This is the same penalty kick, but from my view*

I get a kick (pun, pun) out of this video each time I watch it.

One ticket was 25,000 UGX, which is a little less than $10 USD. Wow, a professional sports event where the seating is first come, first served and tickets are $10 - can't beat that!

IJM Colleagues
Colleagues and loyal Cranes fans reacting to a bad call.

At first I thought this was the team and I came to watch radical rugby.

Final score! A draw is always better than a loss.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Boy And His Old Boo

Before Isaiah was born I bought him a soft and cozy blue blanket. And then, a few weeks later, I went back and bought him another of the same exact blanket, because I knew that if he ever became attached to it I'd want a back up.

And boy did he become attached to it. And boy was I thankful for that back-up!

Between 15 and 18 months old Isaiah really started to show an interest in his blanket. He started not being able to sleep without it, carrying it everywhere he went, and looping it on his finger while he sucked his thumb.

When he started being able to talk the word blanket came out as "boo". The name stuck. When he was two years old we accidentally left one of his Boos at a grocery store in Uganda. Uganda is not really known for their stellar "lost and found" and that blanket was never to be seen again. Good thing we had a back-up! The back-up wasn't quite as worn in but it satisfied him and he grew attached to it. When we got back to the U.S. we quickly got another identical blanket just in case anything should happen again. The new blanket got dubbed "New Boo" and the old blanket became "Old Boo." New Boo mainly just sits in Isaiah's bed most of the day while Old Boo gets all the love and attention! 

{Just as a side note, so you don't get wierded out, Old Boo is not an "it". He is a "he"! Don't really know how that happened but we always call him by "he" or "him". He's kinda like a person in our family.}

Old Boo and Isaiah are the best of friends. Old Boo is full of rips and tears, stained with dirt, and has a big hole right in the middle (Isaiah tried to iron him and then cried and cried because he "hurt" him!). To Isaiah, Old Boo signals hundreds of wonderful memories they have made together. His smell reminds him of the many adventures they have been on. His softness calms and relaxes Isaiah, bringing him comfort. 

Old Boo goes with us EVERYWHERE! He rarely gets a bath because Isaiah can't stand to part with him. He has been to Uganda, SeaWorld, and the dentist. Sometimes he eats food, sometimes he takes a nap in the car while he waits for Isaiah to get back, and sometimes he needs his own toys when playing. 

I don't know how long Isaiah will carry around Old Boo. We've been talking a lot about preschool starting in the Fall and how Old Boo is going to stay in his backpack all day. We'll see how that goes! For now we're letting Isaiah enjoy being a kid, and enjoy being a kid with one of his very best friends - Old Boo. 

Isaiah and Old Boo go way back.... back to when Isaiah was just a few days old!
And a few months old. 
Old Boo has been to Mackinac Island.
He has gotten his picture taken with Gigi.
He has snuggled with Daddy.  
He has been bowling. 
He has been to St. Augustine. 
He has been to the airport. 
And on an airplane. 
He has been to London. 
And to Uganda.
Where he got very very dirty almost every single day. Can you tell which Boo is the one Isaiah was using and which one was the spare?!?
On numerous occasions he has been a comfy pillow. 

He has eaten chicken on a stick. 
And read hundreds of books with Isaiah. 
He was there when sweet Eloise Ann join our family. 
Isaiah even allowed her a little snuggle time with him!
He has been in many many many family pictures. 
Old Boo has been through numerous car washes. 
He has even helped us cut down a Christmas tree. 
He has watched many movies with Isaiah.
Old Boo helped us celebrate the arrival of Baby Olive.  
And was with us when we moved to Florida!
Even Olive is a fan of Old Boo!
He has been shopping with us many times - along with a purse and Jenny Dog.

He has helped Isaiah fall asleep in lots of random places. 
Especially the car.
And he makes it into many pictures with friends. 
Old Boo has been through many trials and tribulations and has remained strong. After almost 5 years in our family, it's safe to say that Old Boo is VERY VERY well loved!!!
Here's to many more years with Old Boo!!!
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