Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Christmas Letter

Yes, I officially claim defeat on the Christmas card/letter. Tough. Here's the run-down of the Life of Fry.

Merry Christmas!
And I mean that sincerely. Because it's been a tough year, no? We had a baby, via c-section, which was terrible (the section, not the baby.) The baby, one Mariana Lynn, was born with Down syndrome and has since spent life defying odds, exhibiting stubbornness and illustrating the fact that "special needs" is a term that applies to everybody in the world.

Kate the Great received her First Holy Communion, went on a trip with Grandma and finally has lost all the "tooth fairy" teeth, which everyone knows are the non-molars. She's doing well in school with a little encouragement, sometimes a lot of encouragement, and she has quit guitar because she was "burnt out". Yep, my 8 year old claimed to be burnt out. Rather than argue with her I just welcomed her to the club of "Much Too Young to be This Damn Old". Lo and behold the child misses guitar lessons. Because I use all advantages, I'm making her earn them. Heh.

Charlotte was front-toothless for many many months and finally has one and a half front teeth. She rocked 1st grade and is really working hard in 2nd. She has had 100% 7 times in a row in spelling and I'm running out of bribes, I mean rewards. Luckily she thinks things like feeding the baby her solids are privileges. God bless the naive. Charlotte also made her First Reconcilliation, which nearly gave her an ulcer. She's been a true gem, which she admitted was because she doesn't want to have too many sins to tell the priest. She's a keeper.

Molly graduated from PreK, and I spent the summer worried that Mrs. Robinson was the only teacher that could handle her particular self. Over the summer she and I and the baby went to Houston. She is such a fun companion! Kindergarten came and Molly's teacher couldn't be better. Molly's reading very well. Her clean diet seems to help her attitude and energy and she's a little more compliant which is a lot of help. We do have bad days, but alas, we all have bad days, don't we? She and Paul are currently fighting constantly and spend a lot of time in separate corners. Scott and I spend a lot of time thanking God for separate corners.

Paul is now (FINALLY) four. This year he has grown up so much! He has some boy buddies with whom he can wrestle, fight and be a boy with. This is good for all of us in the house. He adores his baby sister and she helps ground him when he is particularly wild. He still wakes up grouchy, but he and Daddy are working on that. The good news is that he adores his teacher, the bad news is that he never wants to come home from school. The term "Mama's Boy" does not apply to him.

Mariana was born, baptized and has been spending the year nursing and ignoring the experts. She loves to eat, says, "Mama" and signs "milk, please" and "eat". The goal is 10 words by a year. I'm shooting for 15 only because I have a motivated student. The crawling thing is not really working well, but I'm hopeful she'll get going by mid-January. She does not like to do anything she perceives as work, and she's stubborn. In other words, she's like her mama.

Scott and I bought a new house, moved in October 20th, and proceeded to be exhausted the rest of the year. It's been one of those years where the unexpected is a constant factor in our lives. Luckily God has never let us down, and answered many many prayers, some that we never thought to express in words. Every breath we take has been a gift, and we are so very grateful.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
The Frymans

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pink Candles

This past Sunday was Gaudete Sunday, or "Pink Candle Sunday" if you are one of my kids. Rejoice. Fat chance, right? 

This was a weekend that our children could do no wrong. Waking up in the middle of the night with Molly snuggled up against me brought no irritation. I scooped her closer to me and rested better with her body near to mine. That body, it is so beautiful. Her milky skin and freckle dappled face, her pink lips and pointy chin and merry eyes all bring such joy to us. What would I do without that body? I would still love her, wholly as always. How could I live without the heat of her back against me, the feel of her delicate fingers stroking my face as she does, the scent of her hair and breath?

Understandably many people are outraged and angry. I suppose if I dug deep enough I could get pretty angry too. It's not so much the Sandy Hook horror that makes me angry. That just makes me sad, deeply inconsolably sad. It's more of the political opportunism of left and right, atheist and theist, etc. Can we not take a few days to just have broken hearts, to just hold one another tighter, smile at our kids' naughty antics and try our very best not to let our pain dribble over into irritation at the innocent? But I refuse to get too worked up about those things. 

I could get pretty angry about this too. Here is a man, who is well respected, openly advocating for the forcible murder of babies he deems too much of a drain on society. I could get pretty furious that there are people willing to vote for him in spite of this, since they refuse to be a "one issue voter". Or that there are many who, in the recesses of their hearts, agree with this utilitarian eugenicist. Yes, I could be very angry about that.

There are many things in daily life that frustrate me so much I could muster up some serious rage. Kids getting sick at the worst possible time, a child who I can not seem to get to nap properly, the time that slips away when I should be preparing for the upcoming school break and Christmas holiday. All of these things can build and build and build until....KABOOM! Mommy's on a rampage through the house listing all of the things that are wrong in the house, the neighborhood, the city, the country and the world. STOMP STOMP STOMP SLAM!

Instead I'd like to share my prayer these days:
Lord, give me peace and joy this season, but if I cannot have it, give me a peaceful and joyful face, voice and body. Let my heart suffer in silence while my body becomes a vehicle for the peace and joy you wish to share with the world. 

Or in the case of an emergency: God help me fake it.

Yesterday I heard of one of the children of Sandy Hook being buried in his favorite jersey. I thought of Paul and if I had to bury him I would not put him in "button pants" (pants that are not elastic).  He hates button pants. I do not wish to live in a world where I consider, even for a moment, what my child would want to wear in his casket.

St. Therese wrote of living life "The Little Way". St Therese translated “the little way” in terms of a commitment to the tasks and to the people we meet in our everyday lives. Meaning that we, in each moment of our lives have the opportunity to act with purpose, consideration and kindness. If we see our jerky kid left his stupid socks next to the couch last night, we don't blast him either aloud or under our breath. We pick up his socks and say nothing or, if you've really perfected it, say a blessing for him.* We wake and get busy about the tasks in our lives happily rather than grudgingly, and yes, that means dealing with school traffic with patience. The "little way" has a way of becoming bigger and bigger in our lives and transforms us into saints.

I think starting small is the best way to keep the devil in check. I'm sure he is dancing victoriously over the vitriol that has spilled over from the tragedy, as I'm sure he danced with delight at the moment of the tragedy. I quit this game. I'm saying no to the anger and vitriol and petulance. I'm going to let myself be sad, let myself hurt and pray I can be a beacon of comfort and joy for those who need it. While I grieve for all the loss this past Friday, I will light a candle in my heart for the deceased. But it will be pink, if just to win one for God. Gaudete indeed.

Gaudete in Domino semper
iterum dico gaudete.

Friday, December 14, 2012

2nd week of Advent

--- 1 ---
Many many things of note have happened this week. Let us begin with Sunday, when our dear friends let us keep 5 out of 6 of their children. Two of the kids are Paul's age range, are boys and give him someone to wrestle and box. It is lovely when I am not the one being punched and the person who is thinks it's a fun game. There also is a two year old boy, and there are twins, all of whom are perfect and wonderful. Even though that is the case, I still can't remember why I thought it was a good idea to put together bookshelves that day. Needless to say, the shelves are not done.
--- 2 ---
Scott's mom came into town on Monday to celebrate Paul's 4th birthday (which was on Tuesday, but that was a busy enough day!) True story, I can't remember what we ate for dinner. Oh, wait, pot roast. Scott took the day off work because I'd been grappling with a virus, and we had a really lovely day. I made grain-free pumpkin bread with a pumpkin spice whipped cream frosting. All was delicious and well received by the kids. 
--- 3 ---
Tuesday things got crazy. Once again, I hardly remember the morning, but I do know I had quite a few things to do. That said, I was able to drop Mariana off with our friends, the ones whose children came to our house, and take Paul and some buddies to Wreck-it Ralph. Unfortunately one of his buddies got the business from his mom for some potty humor right before we left, and Wreck-it Ralph has quite a bit of that. Oops.

A lot of people gave me looks as though I was a martyr when I told them my plans to take four young boys to the movies. I really thought they were weird. While the boys were really perfect during the movie, I have to say I've never understood the term "herding cats" so well in my life. These boys just took off the minute they were out of the car. Luckily I parked near the sidewalk, so there was no parking lot safety issues. But holy cow, girls and boys are totally different.

That night was a normal night, only Paul got to snuff the Advent candles -it wasn't his turn- and he had a few gifts to open.
--- 4 ---
Wednesday may take a while. Mae had her Developmental specialist meeting and met with her new OT. Luckily it was at our house. We have had it made clear to us that keep Mae slightly quarantined is our primary obligation this winter. I will get into that later.

The basic run down of Mae's assessment is that she is doing very well. Her gross motor is on target, though she is low tone in her upper body, it is only partial. We must keep working on crawling, but her gross motor is good. Her fine motor is also on target, but we must work on her pincer grasp, and her sign language. Most of the feedback was to keep up our work with her because she is close to on target.
--- 5 ---
Mae's 9 month check up was Thursday. This is where I lose it. She is 15lbs, so she gained 11oz in a month. Yay! The pediatrician did say she wasn't too freaked out by that plateau earlier because it looks like a normal curve. Most babies plateau around 8 months because they are more active, and since our OT has upped a bit, the doc wasn't freaked out now that she's gaining again.

During her appointment I explained that on Wednesday Mae had begun to say Ma-ma. Two syllables instead of her normal, "Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma..." Doc lit up and began telling me this is a 12 month skill. I also explained that she is signing for milk and starting to point. Again Doc became almost giddy. Pointing is a 12 month skill. Also, early communication skills are directly linked to IQ. This doesn't mean if your baby doesn't talk s/he will have a low IQ, because most babies communicate well before they talk. But for Mariana, for obvious reasons, this is a huge deal.

I am scared to be happy. Predicting the future is not my favorite game. I am happy she is progressing and beginning clear communication, but there are a million and one What-ifs. I do not want to put too much into this report lest I get caught up in fooling myself that Mae is "just fine". She needs our help with everything, we can't leave her to develop on her own. That said, it is lovely to have all of our hard work pay off in the form of impressing the professionals
--- 6 ---
GI update: Clear x-ray! No indication of a physiological reason for her issues, and prune juice is keeping things moving. HURRAY FOR PRUNE JUICE!

Our ped told us that the flu season is practically killing her practice with overtime. She was very firm about keeping Mariana protected, which reiterated what the GI doctor had said. We are to stay away from malls (no Santa photo!) and keep a strict hygiene routine. We cannot travel, we cannot host travelers. Boo hiss.
--- 7 ---
Now the REALLYbad news. So all three pros (Doc, Developmental specialist, OT) stated that children with Down syndrome tend to have a stubborn streak that beats all. This has been witness by me in Mariana's refusal to do OT many times, and her refusal to sign what she can. And it is clear refusal, not confusion. We are facing some bedtime issues with this one, and my tenderness toward her condition does her no favors. Pray I get through this. I know she'll be fine, but my nerves are frayed as it is. And to think, I'm the militant mama in my family!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, December 7, 2012

--- 1 ---
BUSY LIFE! I can't tell you how many things we have going on, so here is a fast rundown. You no like? Sorry! Advent is a time of penance.
--- 2 ---
Mae will be visiting with a developmental specialist once a week. She's 9 months now, and we really need to stay on top of oral-motor, gross motor, and fine motor skills.
--- 3 ---
Mariana had her GI test. Waiting upon results, praying there will be no biopsy needed. I remember that time when I swore my life as a mom wouldn't revolve around poop. Once again, God loves me enough to constantly teach me humility.
--- 4 ---
Diet changes have revolutionized our family. Molly is doing amazingly well. We've even cut her vitamin B supplement out with no ill effects. This is the greatest blessing to our family, even if our grocery bill is obscene. Praise God!
--- 5 ---
Speaking of dietary changes, have you tried coconut oil yet? It really is a wonderful product, from skincare to medicinal purposes to a yummy way to cook shrimp. And before you knock using it on your face, try it. AMAZING
--- 6 ---
Christmas is amazing. I love Christmas. But advent is my favorite church season, I think. I love the darkness of it, with the small light from the advent wreath. Advent doesn't get enough credit. Listen to this and tell me I'm wrong.
--- 7 ---
Alright, I'm off to shop. Pray Mariana doesn't lick anything gross. I think she's teething. 
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!