For the sake of the archival of Jack’s journey, I thought I’d wipe the cyber dust off the ole’ blog to update Jack’s story. Hopefully this helps those of you on the same journey as us feel more prepared or informed (I put some tips in!), helps our friends understand more about Jack, and of course records his story should he every want to read it.

Jack (Jackie, Jack Jack, Jackers), now 7 years old, still looks like his cute, dimple faced self. I really doubt we’ll ever need to do a nose or lip revision–which is pretty incredible! However, this whole cleft thing is not just about aesthetics, but is just as much (or more) involved in the hearing, speech, and dental arena. Through his  school, Jack has continued having speech therapy once a week.  He’s had wonderful SLP’s that have faithfully met with him and pushed him to be as articulate has he can be. Those speech sessions, however long and numerous are worth it! {Tip for my fellow cleft mamas: Observe those speech sessions–practicing at home is where their success is made–integrate it into your daily conversations. I’ve learned to sneak in speech practice with his reading time–he doesn’t even know he’s getting the extra speech practice.}  His articulation skills have progressed wonderfully and Jack has also grown into a more confident little(ish) guy. T-tubes have allowed his hearing levels to remain satisfactory as well! {Also, Jack’s a super quick soccer player, lover of anything competitive, and a homebody that  enjoys snuggling in with a good book, legos, ipad games, or laughing hysterically with his siblings❤.}

One thing that has not improved with Jack’s speech is the amount of air flow that comes out of his nose when he speaks (nasal air emission). Because speech therapy hasn’t permanently helped this, it was deducted that it was a physical structure issue. Jack recently had a nasal scope performed at Doernbecher to determine the issue.  During the scope he participated in a speech therapy session {can we say, Rock star?}. My gag reflex was going off and I didn’t even have anything in my nose/throat! The camera showed air bubbles escaping in his throat when he speaks; we also got a peek at his epiglottis and voice box–SO cool. {Additional tip: Preparing kids for appointments is key–give a brief overview of what the appointment will be like, rehearse how to react (take deep breaths, stay calm, hold my hand etc), and state what reward lies at the end of said procedure all helps a TON! A fun sleep mask  takes the edge off an object coming towards ones face–we use this in dental procedures too, with headphones/fun music. Jacks song of choice here: “This is my Fight Song” ha!}

The results: Jack’s next surgery–the extension of his palate; the hope is that less air will escape when he speaks. Essentially, the soft palate will be “Z” cut and pushed back. Basically, Jack grew, so the palate that was made for him when he was a baby isn’t long enough. We are excited that this will help him, but also sad that he has to have this extra surgery; he is coming up on his gum line bone graft surgery, so it’s not ideal to us for him to have such major things close together. However, because we found out our amazing surgeon, Dr. Kuang, is leaving, we are super thankful she gets to do this surgery for Jack before her departure.

I am reminded again that there is joy and opportunity in suffering.We absolutely covet your prayers for Jack on March 7th! We know this is the sovereign path that we were placed on and are praying  to rest fully in peace, knowing that God has Jack, and for Gospel opportunity and growth in our family’s life. Will you join us?

Jack most dreads the point of separation from us on surgery day. Please pray for peace in his little heart. Pray for safety, zero infection and that the size on the palate will be perfect, as there is the risk of redoing the surgery if it is not. Pray that we can find yummy things for him to drink during his 6 week recovery. Pray!

Thank you to all that have followed Jack’s story, have prayed for him and love him like we do!! We are excited that he has the opportunity for clear articulation with less effort. Go, Jack!

Hauling out our dried out tree, tucking stockings and ornaments back into boxes… chicken marinating for a party…We are about to commence on the New  Year! This date naturally breeds reflection and a lil’ motivation.

Looking back, our kids have grown in every sense of the word.

Allie is the  budding pianist and artist {obviously her father’s daughter!};   we’ve loved seeing her learn what it means to grow in Christ and what it is to show love to others {namely her two side kick brothers}.

* Jack  as we celebrated the advent during December,  surprised us by memorizing our daily verse reading.  From just wanting him to say “daddy” with a “d” to this…wow.

Max… Well we could have an additional blog post on him, but he’s grown too. Let’s just say he’s a super cute, tiny climber boy {think kitchen island, bathroom sinks, and crib}. The super cute part saves him from his mama many a day.

Always thankful for….

* Anthony’s job that continues to provide him unique opportunities like seeing big doors blown up and taking lots of photos.

* Technology-I’ve been able to stay home more this year and have fun connecting with my online students–learning about about their lives, families, and interests.

* Friendships–New and Old.  From weekend getaways and daily living–we love you all!

In reflection, I’m so thankful for the unique family times we recently experienced. We watched Our kids fall in love with Anthony’s  east coast sisters and grandparents {whom they met for the very first time}.  Our kids bonded with their cousin Isamu not once, but TWICE {thanks for traveling, Miwa and Steve}.   Our kiddos are also pretty much in love with the “baby” cousin, Blake.  As a core family, we took big steps of faith and risk. We end this year with full hearts.

Set to  recalibrate in 2013, I {besides the token lose 10 lbs and get more sleep} desire to “set my affections on things above.” Col. 3:2  Or as Mary, one of our headlining characters from The Christmas Story also said,  “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38.    Surrendered Life.

Merry {belated} Christmas and a  Happy New Years to you!

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As any mother does on her kid’s birthday, my mind is reflecting on the now four years we’ve had with Jack.  Of course I can’t believe how BIG he is and that he can now do big boy stuff like ride his bike, say his letters, and aim his pee mostly into the toilet water.  However, my thoughts have also turned introspectively, and thus I’ve felt compelled to blog transparently about the very beginning with Jack.

So…

Jack was desperately wanted from the conception. He followed our miscarried baby, and our hearts were oh so excited once we knew we were pregnant again. We anxiously awaited passing that 12 week mark and then the ultrasound to find out the sex of our precious bundle.

When our world tilted...
4.5 years ago, chasing the heels of the announcement of “Its a boy!” I heard the word cleft for the first time {outside of a Smile Train commercial}. A small word that turned my safe world upside down. A few days later, a specialty clinic confirmed Jack’s bilateral cleft.

The next statement I recall hearing was “We have to first give you the option of  termination.” This was Emanuel’s first option for my very alive and active 24 week old baby inside my body that we had just intimately viewed in 3D.

I was stunned. My mouth said the right answer, “Absolutely not.” {I thought, I AM a pro-lifer, I believe in life!} But I felt my dry throat tighten and mind flash to the possibility of not having to face this. I have admitted this to very few, but feel compelled to share this today. {Also after the termination suggestion, we were then peppered by a geneticist with questions like, “Sooooo, are you guys related?I know we look a bit alike, but come on! Really???}

After that day, I grieved the loss of not having the”perfect” baby. I hurt deeply and privately. I cried much. These things I hate to even say now, because I love Jack so desperately. As the birth of Jack came closer, I came to terms with the cleft. We educated ourselves and prepared the best we could. To regain a sense of normalcy  I had maternity pics taken and shopped boutiques for his coming home outfit. {I couldn’t decide, so he had 2} We welcomed him with open arms; the minute he was placed on me… well, the rest is history. LOVE.

My heart today is for the  young mom who has stumbled onto our page, for the family who just heard the word cleft for the first time and is googling bilateral cleft, OHSU, Dr Kuang, Dr Garfinkle, NAM, or Doernbecher, and just in case there is even one woman sitting at the crossroad where I sat not long ago. Know this: your baby is a precious, important, and valuable person. You will grieve, and you will face challenges, but life is worth that. While my heart aches for all that our little guy will still face, more than that, my heart overflows with gratitude that I get to be Jack’s mama.  Choose life!

Happy birthday to sweet Jack and his BiG smile!

{Guess what he’s getting? The updated bat cave-to those who know him well, this may seem redundant, but we’re pretty sure he’ll love it!}

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Monday, Jack, Maddox, and I trooped up to Doernbecher for Jack’s follow up after his recent ear tube surgery. Results are in…Normal hearing!  His test was the easiest it has ever been-he even went in the creepy sound proof room all by himself.   Of course I rewarded him with a cake pop. (Max too, since he didn’t cause too much destruction to the lobby) For some reason I had gotten myself all worked up about this surgery and the success or failure of it. It’s crazy how fear can take hold so quickly and so strongly. I’m so thankful Jack is hearing well; his speech work can continue to progress.  I’m also thankful for my Lord, my awesome hubby and my girl friends who know just how to bring me into a sense of calm during these seasons.

Oregon has been good to us–SUNSHINE clear into October–wonderful {and not so normal}!  We have enjoyed this as our schedule has returned to a new normal as well.  {Hurried morning bowls of cereal, quick kisses good bye at school, snuggly boys to read to or take walks with, and mounds  of school work to grade}  Inserted into the mundane was a visit from my sister-in-law Miwa and nephew Isamu. He and Max got to share a fun birthday complete with pinata–so cute {and crazy–we have 4 boy cousins, ages 1,2,3, and almost 4}.  THEN Our nephew Chandler visited us during Sept, so we were able to squeeze in one last summer-ish vaca.  to Sunriver. LOVE!

Thank you to all of you who prayed for Jack!  Now go drink a Pumpkin Spice Latte, admire the changing leaves,  and soak in this season!

Yard.

Land EXCAVATED.

Gravel RAKED.

Pavers HAULED and Hammered.

Yep, we’ve been thinking about ROCKS! It’s only natural, after hand laying an entire patio in our backyard.  You see, we have these really large trees across our back yard that makes growing grass difficult.  {Well, this is  our excuse, but really we are just terrible yard keepers.} After Anthony and Justin EXCAVATED our entire yard by learning some mad bobcat driving skills via YouTube, Anthony’s dad and I trudged back and forth with gravel and pavers. Allie and Jack helped carry the load too! {Super cute workers btw}  Anthony hammered in each and every one.  Whew! Next topic: grass for the side yards. I’ll save that for the next blog.

Vaca! Another rock formation caught our eye this summer named Crater Lake. Wowzers–why is this our first time seeing this amazing natural wonder?  Anthony photographed  some views of it while I prevented Max from descending the sharp cliff above it.  Jack and Allie practiced being park rangers and spotted many fun trees and rock formations.  Close by we drove through the  Wildlife Safari.  Lions and tigers and bears.. .or rather, Cranes {Jack}, monkeys {Allie}, and lions {Maddox}–Roar! A camel ride and feeding birds are favorite memories they’ll treasure.

Cleft.  Metaphorically speaking, Jack’s had a rocky summer.  We tested his hearing again and discovered he has moderate hearing loss in one ear and mild in the other. So, we are headed off to surgery for some new ear tubes in a few weeks. He also attended speech therapy three times a week.  While beneficial, it was often a rocky time, persuading a very shy {at times a bit stubborn} three year old to focus for 50 minutes at a time, with strangers.  Sometimes I wish we could just let him say “hamGurber” and “aweSHome” because he IS three.  But alas, the school years loom ahead, and we shall press on!

Fun. Rock solid fun also filled these swiftly passing summer weeks. I’m trying to freeze frame to my memory each kid in their current phase.  They are growing all too fast for me!  Allie– jumping off her first diving board, painstakingly making the perfect fort for her and Jack, experiencing lots of ‘firsts’ {piano recital, vball camp, sleepovers} and spending long hours honing her drawing skills at our kitchen table.  Jack–holding his breathe under water with his bright goggles strapped to his chubby head, telling me tales of his imaginary dog, Ginger {while sipping chocolate milk at Starbucks}, and  Hulk Smashing every action figure.  Max jumping off random dangerous objects, saying “I dunno know” as one word, shuffling forward in a toddler gallop, and  praising Jesus with me in church.  Our speech journeys into PDX bonded us together as we discovered new fountains, parks, riding the Tram, and a fun day at the Children’s Museum.  Jack and Allie have read lots of books and camped out in a tent in Allie’s room for nights on end {while Max protested sleeping alone:)}.  Allie’s return to school in the fall {2nd grade!} may be a bit hard for poor Jack!

Friendship. Thanks to Jack’s cleft, our blog connected us to a wonderful new friendship. Vi and Tony have a cleft baby too, so we are now sharing our journey together.  What a gift to find such a ‘random’ friendship to not only help carry the load of sharing tips, worries and joys, but partaking in tasty meals {PDX food carts!}, rich faith, and fun times together!  We are so thankful for our tried and true friendships as well. We visited Salem family and friends, had fun play dates, walked with some for Smile Oregon,  and experienced generous air conditioning {we bartered Anthony’s good cooking skillz for this:)}, our friends and family are the BEST!

Church.  On Christ, the most solid rock of all, we stand.  As we search to connect with  a new church body, I have found that clinging to Him is what I must do.  As I peel off the layers  of ‘must show up,’ ‘must serve,’ and the ease of ministering in church ministries with those we love, I have felt a bit naked. A bit insecure. Without that connection,  I am left with my relationship to God alone; I must be a seeker of the Holy Spirit. What does HE want to teach me, whom does HE want me to minister to?  Intentional living.  While eagerly  looking forward to  being part of a church family again {awkward conversations in new places do get old!}, I’m appreciating the lessons learned along this part of the journey.

The last week of summer shines brightly before us. A whole week OFF.

        Time to build some SAND CASTLES,

{eat some SMORES}

                       bond with FRIENDS,

and skip some ROCKS!

James 3:17, 18
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is won in peace by those who make peace.

Happy End of Summer, friends!

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Spring breeds new growth everywhere we turn! Over Easter we visited Whidbey Island and Anthony’s wonderful parents. A few sunny days (and the hot date we squeezed in) made it pretty much the perfect weekend. Driving by some newly birthed spring calves, the kids and I ooo’d and awe’d over them. Anthony said “Yum, look at those baby steaks!” Perspective. I think our kids decided to join in the season and sprout as well. This is a quite a positive element considering they each have a bit of a vertical challenge!

Allie Girl, {a spring filly}, lanky legs race around, conquers new feats on her birthday roller blades. At first wobbly, arms spread wide, flailing for balance…now more smooth and comfortingly cautious.  God truly granted us this cautious, wise beyond her years girly girl, before blessing us with THE boys.  About to wrap up her first year in school, she has blossomed into a studious student who loves learning as much as all the playmates she’s developed friendships with at school. Her first few baby teeth have disappeared as we get to become seasoned tooth fairies. I am loving all the jump rope rhymes and hand clapping rhythms being 7 brings…a whiff of childhoods gone by.

Jackie Boy, {budding conversationalist}, recent newbie gum chewer, chatters my ear off as we travel about our days. Full sentences compose most of his vocabulary now, no minor miracle. We work on the randomly mispronounced words and add in our articles “a, and, the.”  Teacher Linda and Teacher Emily are the wonderful women he looks forward to speaking with each week, as they take him closer and closer to normal speech patterns. A recent cleft check revealed failed ear tubes, but the hearing test showed close to normal responses. We shall wait out this season to see if new tubes will be necessary. Big brother now defines Jack’s everyday as he lets Max invade his action figure world and helps alert us to the mishaps Max tries to get himself into.

Maddox, {adrenaline junky}, sippy cup tucked firmly beneath his arm, truly needs his life saved every. day. From climbing, jumping, ingesting, experimenting…this boy has it out for himself.  Max seemed to sprout from mini-baby to full on toddler overnight. Throwing balls (and other objects) far, sliding down the stairs quick as lightening, he has no problem keeping up with his older siblings. The only thing lagging behind now is his teeth…molars begging to erupt…but taking their sweet time. Doing the Hokey Pokey and playing with his little cars are favorite daytime moments for Max. From unique sound effects (aaaa–daaaaa being his trademark word), twinkling eyes, and crazy stunts, this guy keeps us all laughing (me sometimes crying) and on our toes. We treasure the few times a day he allows a warm snuggle or offers up a puckering kiss.

New growth also aptly describes the parents of these sweet kids. I’ve gotten to trot around a few races with Auntie Lolo (Laura)–growing endurance! Anthony has graduated to having his very own car. Initially I felt this was painful as I would miss the time as a family driving EVERYWHERE together. Then I saw the light. Two cars = awesomeness. There are growing pains as we strive to live out what it means to walk in obedience to God. To put Jesus first every day, to edify the body, to transform to look more  like Him than ourselves, to walk by faith, to share Him with others. Growth sometimes has aches, but yields lessons learned, maturity, and joy.

                Here’s to more sun than rain as we near lazy summer days!

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Convincing a 16 month old that the pantry isn’t a great hiding place for a sippy cup, filled with milk—considering the lack of fridgeration and all.  Drying off an adventurous 3 year old after his “shower” under the gutter spout.  Sorting out teeny tiny barbie shoes from dress up clothes and zoobles.  Action figures intermixed with clean laundry  silently begging to be folded.  A webinar at 10 AM to hone my teaching skills.  Poopy diaper.  I’ll look back someday and wish Batman was falling out of folded laundry and that soured milk is in my pantry….right?  Maybe not. At least I’ll wish that I have these rosy chubby cheeks to kiss and little voices calling “mommy!”  Reminding myself, Today is my someday.  Kissing some cheeks…and bellies….and toes.

Our mini-theologian, aka JACK PEREZ, is insistent as he learned more about the true meaning of Christmas, that we refer to baby Jesus as Baby God. Going as far as changing the words to songs, he’s serious about telling us that Jesus is God! As Allie crooned the words to “Happy Birthday Jesus, I’m so glad it’s Christmas,” Jack chimed in with his own version, “Happy Birthday baby Go–od.”  At the end of the day, he is right on. Jesus is God, and that is really what this Christmas is all about!  David and Goliath is another fav right now…especially the throwing rocks part.  Recently Jack has memorized a few verses as well. I’d say speech therapy is working. Jack meets with his new speech therapist once a week in our home.  Although assigned to us through our local school district, she did much of her training with Jack’s cleft team at Doernbecher. Coincedence?  I think not!

ALLIE crooned many other tunes this season as she participated in her first two Christmas programs via church and school.  It’s so strange to be the parents in the audience…weren’t we the ones just a bit ago standing in those choir lofts?  I’m not biased or anything, but our baby girl sure was fabulous in her sparkly Christmas dress from Papa, her dark hair flipped just so.  “Hark the Harold Angels Sing” was her favorite song of the season in addition to the dramatic bow that the choir did at the end of the program.

Baby MAX (in my totally honest opinion, is one super cute baby) has been taking steps for a few months when in response to our constant coercing.  This changed, however, this month as he decided walking was his best mode of transportation.  It’s so strange to see our little guy standing, carrying things around rather proudly.  This proud walking is quickly turning into more of a jogging action.  Max is a quick little guy that enjoys many mischievous moments (like jumping off stuff), keeping us on our toes!!

AP, along with continuing to be the best dad and hubs eva’, is also off galavanting in Vegas with Leatherman. Evidently launching new products is pretty important stuff.  He has had the awesome opportunity to become quite the photographer/videographer for them.  The photo ops have included local firefighters, swat guys, alligators and boars, and our cool friends….Amazing man. Enjoy some of his best photos below…our kiddos🙂

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!!

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School Days

Oh how I have loved seeing Allie learn and absorb the world as we have explored it together the past six years. But, alas, the milestones of strapping on the backpack, tucking in lovingly (and hurriedly) made pb&j’s into the Barbie lunch box, and tying “P.E.” shoes on has arrived in the Perez house.  As a family, we drove her to the first day of school, took the classic first day pics, and tentatively said our good byes.  6 weeks later, we “newbie” school parents are dropping her off with confidence as she practically bounds into her 1st grade classroom. She. LOVES. school.  New friends, reading circles, chapel, and playground adventures fill our car ride conversations as I plague her with questions so that I can still feel a part of her “every” day.  Love that girl–so proud of her!

3 years old

Ironman. Irrronnn maannn (there’s a song–who knew?) or Batman. That’s what consumes three year Jackie’s head these days. Yes, THREE years old. Hard to believe he’s not a baby anymore.  Jack has moved from toddling around to cruising around on his bike and tying to attempt any and all scary stunts.  He has grown from a vocabulary we could count on our fingers to endless chatter.  His individual words are becoming clearer as we focus more in on his conversational speech being clear to everyone.  Allie somehow understands everything he tells us, so we have to be careful to remind him to speak clearly anyway.  He recently passed his hearing screen, so no surgeries on the horizon…unless he somehow injures himself otherwise with the random stick or rock that makes its way into his chubby hand as some sort of weaponry.  What a relief it is to also see him become more open to people outside of our family and enter new situations without quite as much drama as last year.  His drama has moved more into trying to make anyone who will pay attention laugh!

1 years old

Maddox is helping us cross the threshold from baby days to toddler days. Goodbye infant carseat, bassinet, and swaddling techniques.  Hello into EVERYthing, master maneuvers, and first words.  I now know how the “baby” of the family is created as Maddox’s siblings protest us saying “no” to him or not putting up with baby fits.  They coddle him so much that it will be a miracle if Max isn’t spoiled beyond repair.  But, considering that one of this mama’s biggest hearts’ desire is that my children love each other, I will smile and pray for the best. I am thankful they are as in love with their baby brother as we are.  Now if we can just keep him out of the bathroom and off the stairs…

 And Us

Recently Anthony and I have had some fun times withOUT this crazy bunch.  We hit the road…literally, to help out a Hood to Coast team by directing traffic at 2:30 A.M.  Who knew it could be fun to shine flashlights at unsuspecting cars, runners, ourselves…  A fall concert was also calling our name–Casting Crowns to be exact.  For some reason we love the hootin’/hollering/singing/praising kind of night.  Yet another date was in the books–to run (or perhaps walk quickly) the Warrior Dash.  There was some great marital  bonding while pulling our  30-ish+ish bodies over walls and through mud pits–with our friends Justin and Sue.

Amidst all this busyness we like to book for our family, there are the myriads of normal, make-it-through the day kind of things going on.  The throw yourself in bed and crawl back out all too soon kind of days. You know, work, laundry, obligations, sick kids, etc.  Thank goodness for our Hope, our Reason, Jesus, who is the glue to binds us as a family through the regular hecticness that we call life!

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Perhaps it’s the fleeting hours spent with my aging grandparents–almost 92 and 97, or maybe the long hours of podcasting with my thinker husband, but this road trip has got me thinking.  As I sit passenger side, the  road seemed to unfurl, an endless ribbon before us (toy story 3 serenades in the background, 3 crusty noses sit, buckled).  Long, sleek, winding, turning, rolling up and down.  At times fields flank us, seemingly never ending, full of emerald. A baby calf lopes after his mama, a windmill rotates lazily in the breeze.  Along other points of the ribbon,  the terrain morphs into towering rock inclines–majestic, yet looming, casting their shadows on the road.

LIFE. Mine a mere 30 somethingish years long, Grandma’s broaching on 97 years, and my kiddos–so young.

Many life points consist of joy, pounding powerfully like Palouse falls, rainbows of blessing weaving and shimmering their way through the water.  Others, intersections and valleys, appear dark, unclear. Ups and downs. Turns. Valleys, straightaways, and mountaintops, each taking their time on the ribbon.

Truth: God is Creator. Sovereign. LOVE. I desire to live fully and worthily in the valleys and the peaks because God’s presence is there. In the shadiest valley, His face shines so brightly that I have to hide mine in a cleft of THE rock (Voskamp); as I emerge out of the valley, I see the footprints of his glory–evidence he WAS there.  Seriously, as I take a quick scan of “Lisa’s life valleys,” His footprint is there!  On the mountaintop the joy is easier, fully naked for all to see.   You know, graduations (go Daniel!), the birth of kids, fun trips, job promotions, retirement (Yay Dad!), a good prognosis, answered prayer, etc.  In both places there should not be fear, but joy (Chan). Joy in knowing He KNOWS. He PLANS.  My Planner. Am I  ready to plunge joyfully, fearlessly into future dark valleys, live fully in the straightaways, and to summit the peaks–to live intentionally on this ribbon of life?  As my belly continuous to process the copious amounts of sushi consumed in the last 3 days, my heart is hopeful and prayerful towards my future ribbon.

Exodous 33:22  “and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.”(ESV)    Psalm 23:4a  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;”  Psalm 37:23  “The steps of a man are established by the LORD when he delights in his way;” (ESV)

Chan, Francis. “Fearless.”  Reality Church, 29 August 2010.
Voskamp, Ann.  One Thousand Gifts. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.

Jack’s hearing!

Jack’s recent ear tube surgery came off without a hitch.  The drugs and anesthetics did make him more crazy than normal, but once that wore off, he was unphased.  Two weeks later he passed his hearing test with perfect scores. We can already hear a difference in his speech and are excited for him to have some intense speech sessions this summer.

Allie’s graduating!

From kindergarten that is.  She has been promised her first trip to Oaks Park upon completion of her school work. She is busily and carefully printing her last pages of handwriting, math, and language. We recently made the decision to enroll her in 1st grade for the coming school year (sob).  With that comes the end of her blooming gymnastics skills.  I only wish I could have such a sweet attitude when life hands me disappointment as she did when we told her that it was time to be done with her team. We’re excited to see her jump into her next endeavor–1st grade!

Max can see!

Anthony surprised me while home alone with the kiddos. I came home to Maddox sporting a new, much shorter hair do.  Much needed for sure, but sad too. Additionally, he is a little steam roller–by flipping his chubbiness over and over, he can pretty much get anywhere he feels he needs to be.  Our baby is growing up!

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I know, I know, wrong season, right?

Wrong!

However sleep deprived I may be at this point in my life, this one thing I know, it’s Thanksgiving.  Through  God’s Word, music, church, books, blogs, conversations,….(need I go on?) — God has so clearly revealed this season to me.  The wonder of the salvation He so freely gave to me is so often lost in the rush of the every day–in the overwhelmingness of life.  And so, as Easter, (yes, the true “holiday” of the season) has crept closer, God has stirred my heart to a place of Thanksgiving for this precious gift.  In this Thanksgiving comes a deeper joy for the simple things he’s allowed in my life, in addition to his eternal grace, coupled with  the deeper knowledge that I am absolutely nothing without Him.

Thanksgiving.  Salvation.  Daily walk with Christ.  Grace. The wisdom of Proverbs.  Praising Jesus with hands held high.  City lights at night. Impromptu dance parties with kids.  Babysitters. Date night.  Naptime.  Waking Maddox from nap, fists clenched, arms stretched.  Texting. Running. Rich friendships. Sunshine. Marshmellows.  You know, the simple things. Thanksgiving.

On the family front, all is well in our crazy busy lives.  Recently we were able to join Anthony in Seattle (THANK you Pass family for lodging!) while he took a class—fun, of course—the highlight being a coffee tour he and I  joined. What’s better than being hopped up on caffeine, on a date, in Seattle?  Allie will participate in her first “meet” for gymnastics this week—can we say, EXCITED?  Jack’s potty trained (for the most part)—this is JOY.  Maddox is rolling all around and trying to be the big 7 months that he is, while we try to capture and hold every BABY moment.

For some Cleft news, Jack did recently fail his hearing test by a long shot, so he’s headed into surgery this next Wednesday.  His ENT will be putting in new ear tubes which will hopefully improve his hearing and in turn improve his speech. Please keep our little chubby guy in your prayers.:)

As we turn our faces toward the cross this weekend and rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection and the relationship we can have with Him, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!  (and lots of candy, sunshine, pretty dresses, and hopefully a hot cup of coffee)

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