Sunday, July 19, 2009

How I have neglected this blog...

I didn't even look to see the last time I posted something. So much for checking back often to read the updated "news from Joy."

I guess I haven't felt the need to write much lately since things have been difficult over here. In the beginning, things were falling into place. Some of the hardship of moving was expected and understandable. Months later things still feel out of order and it's taken a toll on the whole family.

As of right now, we are still praying for good solid employment. It's amazing how powerful that word really is. My faith has been high for the most part and I've stayed pretty positive. I believe things will happen in God's time. However, the waiting part is tough. Moving on...

I will give a quick update on the events that have taken place in the last few months.

In May, we celebrated both my parents' birthdays. As well as my nephew, Trent's 1st birthday. It's times like these that make living here so nice. We've missed so many special occasions over the last 9 years away from home. It's nice to be a part of them even for a short while.

Happy Birthday Mom and Dad! (Maddox is my 5 yr old nephew)

My brother and his family at Trent's 1st birthday


I drove with the girls from my family to my cousin Jerome & his fiance Kathleen's wedding shower in Toronto

While in Toronto, we celebrated my sister-in-law Mindy's 30th birthday

This month we also helped my mom and dad celebrate their 40th anniversary

July was a busy month as we threw Aliza her 3rd birthday party at my brother's house. His house is bigger than my parents' place and he also has the luxury of a pool to help keep the kids entertained on a hot summer day. Unfortunately for us, the weather forecast changed 2 days before the party from sunny 83 to mostly cloudy 74. So although it wasn't hot enough for the adults to jump in the pool, the kids had a blast swimming. And even though it was kinda cool and breezy, it could've been worse with rain.

I was going nuts planning and making sure things were in order. The one thing I added to my long list of to-dos was making her cake. I don't know why I decided to do it, but that was the most stressful task I had. I wanted to make her princess cake perfect and I am not a baker. In the end, it turned out perfect! The only problem was transporting it to my brother's house. Luckily I took pictures before because on the way there, the back corner ripped off and part of the front got smushed. The drive was fine until the last mile when I hit a couple potholes and then I literally heard the cake bounce up and down. I fixed what I could and Aliza didn't know the difference and that's all that mattered to me.

So all in all, a great party. We ended the night with fireworks from OH since her party was on the 4th of July. That was a crazy show! There was a couple dangerous moments but thankfully no one lost their hand!

Aliza in her 'birthday tutu dress' as she called it. She wanted one so bad and when it finally arrived, she hated it! We had her wear it periodically throughout the party to have different family see it.

Family photo

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why do I ever worry when the Lord has always proven faithful...

It's been a while since I've given any updates on our new life as civilians back in MI. It's definitely been more busy than any move we've made. Although we have a lot of support and help with family here, we are doing a lot more. For instance, I have made more phone calls to doctors' offices and the insurance company in reference to referral authorizations in the last 2 months than I have in the previous nine years. The reason why is when you live by a large military hospital like we did, most medical specialties are located there. So besides a referral from your primary, you don't need to do anything else before being seen. Most importantly, by using a military hospital, you never pay a co-pay or worry about how things may be billed because every service you receive is covered 100%. Now I have to stay on top of things and make sure the right services are authorized and are billed correctly or else payment will be denied.

Anyways, let me get to what I was intending on writing. Every challenging circumstance we've faced, when we've given it to God, has ALWAYS worked out. And that is why it baffles me that I consistently have moments of worry that something might not go well when a new challenge arises. I guess I figured that this was different. Before we left WA and the military, I was prepared and confident that we'd be okay. But once we reached the other side and were now dealing with the reality of being out of our secure life in the military, finding it difficult to get a job here in Michigan, and that our insurance coverage is slowly coming to an end, I started to get real nervous.

Well, once again, the Lord has proved me wrong and reminded me of why He tells us not to be anxious about anything. As most of you know, Ryan's care is a huge priority of us. With our current insurance ending soon, we have been focusing on two things: 1) Get a job with good coverage 2) Get Ryan on medicaid. Well, up until last week we weren't being very successful at reaching our goals. The reasons are, first, we live in MI--America's highest unemployment rate. Second, the medicaid office is months behind here with so many people needing aid that our app wasn't due to be reviewed til end of May. Plus, although our unemployment meant qualification, we currently have comprehensive coverage. So I thought they would try to deny us. By the time we would send an appeal, our current coverage would almost be done. We just kept praying for some intervention in our lives since things didn't seem to be working out as well as we had planned.

But then, Patrick received an email about a security job in the area nearby. Rather than wait til the next day, he decided to go apply in person that same day. He got the job and started the next day. Although it's part time and not a permanent thing, we're thankful for the job. Most of all, it was for a security job in the exact office where our Medicaid case worker worked. Patrick nicely asked our worker if she knew how much further down the line we were and because of him working there, she reviewed our application that next day and sent us our approval letter for medicaid!! God had a plan and it worked!

Not only that, we also got approved the same day for Children's Special Health Care, which provides case management services and covers specialty appointments for Ryan based on his disability. So although we don't need to utilize these services yet, there will be no break in coverage when our current insurance ends. God is taking care of Ryan as He always has and I don't know why I allow myself to worry.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement! Continue to pray with us as we are praying for the right job for Patrick and myself. I'm mostly looking for a pt job but since nothing has opened up yet, I know my place is still at home. Now that Patrick's temporary job fulfilled what I think it was meant to, I'm hoping the better job is right around the corner.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ryan's Feeling at Home

I wish I had pictures to show how excited Ryan was when we brought him to his room last night after setting up his own bedroom furniture. He was like a little kid at a candy store, or for him, as if he was watching his favorite scene in Shrek.

Our household goods finally arrived yesterday so it was a long day of unpacking, setting up, and sitting at the storage center. The movers came to the house first to unload Ryan's furniture and medical supplies, as well as, some of our clothes and Aliza's toys. Poor girl also had nothing here but markers and a couple dolls.

The whole time they were unloading, Aliza wanted to play with everything. She would just yell from the driveway, "MY SLIDE, MY SLIDE!" or "MY BIKE, MY BIKE!" At one point, she found her stroller and wanted to go on a walk but I told her I had to help the guys know where to put stuff plus I was marking things off the inventory list. She was unhappy until I pointed out that the guy was bringing all her stuff. Then she was excited and kept saying, "Thank you, Mr.!"

After things were unloaded, we drove to the storage center. After opening the storage, everyone was a little nervous because they knew how much stuff we had and weren't sure if it would fit. Granted it looked small, but I picked the 4 bedroom + garage house size. I probably needed the 5 bedroom + garage + small car to get everything in with ease. In the end, after 7 hours, everything fit right up to the door from floor to ceiling. We had some great movers. The storage manager was shocked and said that only they could've done what they did. They utilized every inch and I am so thankful. So our stuff is permanently in storage until we find a house (and job).

I had left with Aliza to return home after a couple of hours at the storage center to work on Ryan's room and the many boxes in the basement. Sometimes I just wonder why the movers wasted so much room in the boxes. I found a paper towel roll with like 3 sheets left all wrapped up in packing paper that took up like a foot of space. Hey but at least I know that everything was safe...for the most part. I found a box that said pillows. I picked it up and it was so light I threw it on the ground. Big mistake! I opened it up and Ryan's flatscreen was in between all the pillows. It still worked but I would've been so mad if I broke it because it wasn't properly labeled.

At about 9:30, Ryan's room was done. He had been hanging out in his lazyboy in the living room. I walked him to his room and his face just lit up! He stared at his own chair and his own bed and couldn't stop smiling in delight! I put him in bed immediately because he was tired. But he didn't want to lay down. He stayed sitting up leaning over on his bedrail and just looked around giggling. He was so happy that he finally had his room. Ryan is very comfortable with change and new people but he's not always happy. He doesn't have anxiety or stress out, but he won't always light up either until he's somewhere familiar. As soon as he laid down, he relaxed instantly and went to sleep so peacefully. At least with all this change, he has his little safe haven.

I will post pictures later since I haven't kept up with uploading them. But here's an older one of when the kids just arrived at the Detroit airport. Notice Aliza looks exhausted since she only slept 1 hour during this 5 hour red eye. And Ryan is awake as can be and laughing! He slept at least 7 hours from the drive to the airport til we arrived in Detroit.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Things are slowly getting better...

We've been in MI 5 days now. I'm feeling less stressed and have a little more energy each day. I'm also so excited that Patrick arrives in the morning. He's a maniac! Who drives 2400 miles in less than 2 days? He left around 11 am Thursday and is due here 5 am Saturday. Crazy huh? I usually worry about him on these long drives but I gave it to God; plus, it was a relief knowing that his dad, who is a truck driver, was with him to help. I knew he couldn't drive crazy fast with his dad in the car and if he needed a break, he had a great partner.

This week we met Ryan & Aliza's pediatrician. Did I already mention that on the previous blog? I think I did. But anyhow, I am so thankful for him. He's experienced, kind, caring, knowledgeable, and also a pulmonologist who will be a huge asset for Ryan's respiratory issues.

We also met four of our home care nurses and so far they have been great. I trained one today and will be training each of them this week. It's a lot of work, but that's part of the move and it will all get better soon.

Aliza has been enjoying my brother's kids. They've stopped by in the evenings to play and she just seems so big playing with them. I'm so used to her interacting with other two-year-olds that I'm surprised how well she does with older kids. I've been thankful for them because they've helped her stay occupied while I've been caring for Ryan full time.

This coming up week is another busy week full of errands to the DMV, storage place, Medicaid office; training new nurses; and unpacking our furniture that comes. So keep us in your prayers as we continue to settle down. I'm also getting a little stir crazy and can't wait til I can have a fun day out eating at a local favorite restaurant! By the way, it felt like 60 today! The sun was out and Aliza played in the yard and took a walk. She was so happy not to be bundled up. Funny how it was 9 degrees when we arrived and today it was 60. But I'm not complaining.

Aliza enjoying the sunshine in the yard--don't you love her good kicking form in this pic?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's happening whether I'm ready or not...

I definitely have been doing a horrible job of updating this. Sorry about that. I will try to do better especially since many people will be wondering how things are going for us post-military life.

Well, the kids and I are in Michigan now. We arrived yesterday and reality hit hard. Nothing emotional or anything. And it's not like I wasn't planning for this move for months now. But being on the other side just makes it so much more real. I'm suddenly getting the sense of urgency, which I probably should've had this whole time, to figure out what we're going to do now.

I realize though we've done everything we should've and nothing else could've been done. But it's like someone has turned over the hourglass and time is already running out.

I am staying positive as best as I can. Although Aliza and I were sick flying out, the flight started out the best we've experienced. We have actually flown quite a bit over the last 9 years with Ryan and this was the best time we've had. The Northwest Airlines staff from check-in to flight attendants were great! Ryan did well the whole way through. He fell asleep in the car to the airport and didn't wake up til we walked off the plane in MI. Aliza did pretty good too despite being sick. She didn't sleep but an hour but she was very good and didn't run up and down the aisles like I was worried about.

We met the kids' pediatrician today and I am so happy. He's also a pulmonologist--exactly what Ryan needs for his respiratory issues. We did find out why Aliza's been asking for ice for a booboo on her cheek that we never see: ear infection. But luckily, she recently stopped spitting out the medications we try to give her.

Patrick will be arriving next week. We have lots to do still so I can't wait til April when things have slowed down a bit. That'll probably be when I will realize this isn't a vacation and I am here for good. I will feel all the emotions that have been covered from being so busy. But when all my tasks are checked off, I will be happy to be home but so sad to leave the great life I've enjoyed and all the people I've met along the way. I will post pictures soon but I hardly have time for anything. I'm sneaking this in way past my own bedtime.

I will do my best to keep this up weekly as promised!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Aliza's Swim and Dance Lessons

As I mentioned last post, Aliza is now swimming with a float on her back. Today was her third week doing it and although we don't take her to the pool besides Saturdays, she shows improvement each time we come back. Today she went from one wall to the other without stopping. Here are the videos I took:

Aliza also had her 1st dance class. It's called Creative Movement where they basically have fun with music on. It's somewhat structured but flexible since it's for 2 year olds. Aliza was shy at first and just walked around looking at herself in the mirror or watching the others. She would participate if I was by her side. But she would still end up running to her dad and sitting down. The few times she joined the group was when they were running around. Hopefully with a few more sessions, she'll figure out how to follow the leader. When Aliza watched the first video at home, she said, "Aliza being shy." The second video is her highlight of the class because they ran around in circles. Although it wasn't part of the lesson.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"I'm doing it, Mom!"--gulp, gulp, cough, cough

Well Aliza's been in swim lessons since she was a little under one. She is now 2 1/2 years old. She's taking lessons from the YMCA so they're not intense or anything. Their approach for infants and toddlers is to let them have fun and get comfortable in the water while learning some basics skills, such as kicking, paddling, holding breath, climbing out and jumping in.

Last Saturday, after taking a nice break for the holidays, we returned for a new session. During freetime, we attached the float to her back as always and practiced treading water. This time ended up different because instead of sinking or flipping on to her face and belly when we let go, she actually put everything together for a split second and was swimming!!! She was so excited! Even if it lasted 2 seconds, it was amazing to watch! There was fear but also a lot of joy in her face and in her voice. It was cool to see all the different components of her lessons finally click. That afternoon she managed to tread up to 5 seconds.

Today was an awesome day!! She improved so much. She would swim about 6 feet to catch me, rest and then do it all over again. The panic has changed to excitement and to, "I'm doing it, Mom! I'm swimming! I'm a fish!" followed by gulp, gulp, cough, cough. But even with the minor choking, she's ready to start again. I wish I had photos or a video but I was the only one there. I'll have Patrick take some next week.