Monday, November 13, 2017

Almost Thanksgiving

The girls are continuing to have a fantastic school year.  Riley had some great successes with her volleyball team this season.  Riley consistently served the ball over the net and grew to be a stronger player.  Julia continued to play soccer despite having a cast (sorry doc - she didn't want to miss and we figured there wasn't much more damage that could happen).  She played like a champ and only complained a few times about the cast.  That usually happened when she was tired and became frustrated that she still had to put up with it.  However, her teacher at school said she was a trooper and never asked for accommodations -just kept keeping on!  She did use it as a heavy paper weight.  She'd write until she needed to reset the paper, would lift her heavy cast, klunk it down on the paper again, and continue to write.

This past weekend we were in four different places.  Jeremy and Julia went to Dragonfly Ranch in East Texas.  They had a blast with the other first grade girls and dads.  Riley spent the weekend with her best friend Charlie Grace at her house.  They spent hours on Minecraft and finished with a fun afternoon of trampoline jumping at JumpStreet.  Val went next door to Billie's house (Billie like a boy, as she calls herself).  Billie is 82 years old and as spry as ever.  She was so sweet to allow Val to stay with her and Zeva, her dog.  Val and Zeva love being together.  Billie said that Val was really good, but had some moments of not listening.  It's pretty funny to get a report about your dog as though he was a little human being.  Because, let's face it, he is a lot like having a little human being and is definitely a member of our family.  I spent the last five days in Fort Worth for the AOSA National Conference.  I was fortunate to be the Hospitality Chair and help oversee the greeters who help make everyone comfortable and welcome at the conference.  It was amazing!!  Always so nice to see the inner workings of something you're involved in and love it even more.  The final banquet was a blast with an incredible live band and tons of dancing.  I never get tired of that!

SMU Graduation is roughly one month away!  I've passed my comprehensive theory final and waiting to hear back about revisions for my comprehensive history final.  I'll know by the end of the week as to whether it is a pass or if more revisions are needed.  Then just a few more weeks to finish my final project on Orff Schulwerk Curriculum in the Middle School Classroom... and then graduation!!!  Can't wait!  Has been an amazing three years and so thankful.  And now so ready to have more time with family and continue to develop all the learning I've had over these past few years.

Other news:
- Jon and Allison had sweet little Abigail about 3 months ago.  She is precious in the pictures and my parents said that she is just happy and easy going like big brother Matthew.  Can't wait to meet her!
- My dad had a hard time with his back while visiting them, but is on the mend.  Already up and raking leaves again.

Here's to four more days before Thanksgiving break!!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Broken Fingers

The girls have had a great season of volleyball and soccer.  Riley's volleyball team has improved so much over the past year and it's been fun to see their progression.  She is doing really well with her overhand serves.  I'm thankful for the friendships and skills she's learning.

Julia is now playing on the larger soccer field and there are goalies in the games.  As her team has 7 players, all of them play the entire time of the game (4 quarters for 10 minutes each - 40 minutes total).  It's a long time for them to run but they are crushing it.  Julia has had a few goals and absolutely loves to play.

In the first quarter of last week's game, Julia had possession of the ball and was heading towards the goal.  You could see the determination in her face and body.  She saw a girl from the other team coming toward her so she began to go even faster.  Somehow they became intertwined and Julia went up in the air and landed hard on the ground.  She stood up and began walking off the field.  Jeremy turned to me and said "Go get her, Mom."  He knew I wasn't quite sure what to do as I didn't want to interrupt the game or cause a scene.

Julia was upset and holding her left hand.  She said it really hurt.  Her hand didn't look weird and while she couldn't make a fist, we thought it was likely just sore.  There were only six girls who could make the game that day so they were playing against 7 girls on the other team.  Julia said it hurt, but that she'd play.  So she went out there and played the remaining thirty-some minutes of the game!  She was a total trooper!  She did have her hand bent down and wasn't at her full speed like before, but we figured she was just shaken up a bit.

When we got home, the swelling had really begun as well as the bruising.  Her four fingers were turning blue/purple and the palm of her hand was also swollen and bruised.  We soaked it in epsom salts and wrapped it with some bandage material that we had as well as used popsicle sticks and gauze to make it better.  It was the weekend and after texting back and forth with Jeremy's sister Monica (who is a nurse) that we could see the pediatrician on Monday and go from there.

I was fortunate to have Monday off for Columbus Day and that the dr's offices were open.  Win, win. We took Julia in to Dr. Stellman.  They sent us to a pediatric office where x-rays could be done.  We saw the X-rays of her hand and it looked amazing to me!  I thought we were in the clear as I had truly no idea what I was even looking for or where the break might have been.  Her hand was so swollen and bruised that we weren't sure if the break would have been at the knuckle or middle of finger, if anywhere.  They gave us a disk with her X-rays on it and contacted Dr. Stellman to tell him that Julia had at least one fractured finger but that it was possibly two fractures as it was hard to see in the X-ray.

We were then sent to Scottish Rite pediatric hospital in Carrollton/Plano area where we waited for almost two hours to be seen.  They were really busy!  The dr looked at her X-rays and pointed out where the breaks were located on her middle and ring finger of her left hand.  The breaks were above the growth plates and were just above the knuckle of both hands.

He then looked at her hand and had her try to straighten her fingers - which she couldn't.  And to make a fist - which she couldn't.  When she bent her fingers to try a fist, they kept collapsing onto one another and were 'cascading' towards the pinky.  The dr. took some time comparing the hands and how the fingers were working.  He talked to us about what her hand was doing and explained that there was more than just broken fingers here.  The bones inside both fingers and turned internally.  It wasn't showing up on the X-rays, but was clearly seen when she brought the fingers inward.  He said that they would need to numb her nerves at the knuckles and then physically twist her bones back into place.  He would do this under a live X-ray to be sure they were turned back to the right position.  Then they would put a 'cobra' cast (hand looks like a snake as the fingers are straight and out and the wrist is bent slightly).

Riley was asked to sit in the hallway while the shots were administered to Julia's knuckles.  They gave her a spray of some freezing numbing spray on the knuckles before putting in the needle.  She had her back to me and I had my arm around her to help comfort her.  It was awful.  She didn't scream, but was definitely in major pain.  They had to give her four shots on each side of the two fingers and in the middle - into the nerves so that she wouldn't feel them turn the bones.  She cried and kept saying 'ow.'  It isn't anything I'd like to see done to her again.

Riley was able to come into the room as they gave it 10 minutes to fully numb her hand/finger.  Riley had tears in her eyes and asked if Julia was ok.  She said she heard her from the hallway and was worried about her.  She was so very sweet.

Once it was fully numb, the dr. came in to turn the bones.  He said that this was one of the hardest things for him as it's just not a fun thing to do to a child.  He was a strong person and gave great effort in putting her fingers back into position.  Thank God for numbing!!  It was really something.

We finally got the cast on and left after almost 7 hours of being at the doctor that first day.  The girls were total troopers.  Julia has handled this so well.  She has been really positive and has managed to figure out how to do things without the use of her hand.  She has no use of her fingers as they are fully wrapped which makes it difficult to hold things and near impossible to pick things up.  We went back yesterday as the cast was coming loose from the swelling reducing.  We go back on Tuesday for X-rays, a follow-up appointment and likely another cast.  We'll know how the bones are healing and praying for good news!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

When the Lost Don't Want to be Found

Trying to find my brother is like playing a horrible game of hide and seek.  He's hidden out there somewhere with no evidence of where he's been.  There are no signs that he's moved or that he was in the location we think he's been.  He hasn't left traces of himself to lead us to where he is.  Being the seeker means taking on a detective role without any clues.  Or very few.

I've been reading the book Falling Free by Shannan Martin.  Don't read it unless you really want to be challenged by a family who simply followed God in ways that look so foreign to us in the middle-class but has resulted in learning more about who God is.  (In other words, go read it!  It's a quick, amazing read.)  As I read about the kids brought into her life through different circumstances, I kept thinking of my brother Jim.  We have continued to pray for him every night.  I've continued to think about and look at various websites that might lead to finding a trace of him.  Until today.

Today I did a google search for 'feeding homeless savannah ga.'  I simply wanted to get a contact number of someone I could talk to about Jim.  The Old Savannah City Mission came up and after looking through the site, I decided that I needed to call them.  I said a quick prayer that I wouldn't cry through the entire phone call.  And dialed.  The conversation went something like this:

P (person):  Hello.  The Old Savannah City Mission.  How should I direct your call?

M (me):  Hi.  My name is Jessica.  I have an odd circumstance and am honestly not sure who to talk to.  My family is looking for my brother Jim and we know he was in the Savannah area at some point but we don't know where he is and are trying to figure out where he might be so we can contact him.

P:  Ok.  Let me get you to other person.

Transfers to OP (other person)

OP:  Hello.  This is other person.

M (me):  (repeats similar statement)

OP:  Let me give you to another other person.

Transfers to OOP (other other person)

OOP:  Hello.  This is other other person.

M:  (repeats statement again)

OOP:  Well, let me at least look in our database online to see if he is possibly in the local detention center here.  (I give him Jim's name and info)  He's not registered in the detention center here - no record found.

M:  I know that he was in one of the tent cities in Savannah at one point.

OOP:  If he's in the tent cities, then he is likely not at a shelter.  Most of the people in the tent cities don't come into the shelters for a variety of reasons.

M:  Oh ok.  That makes sense.  I know that many shelters require people to be sober and detoxed.

OOP:  Not necessarily.  They do require that the people are not intoxicated or high.  It doesn't mean that they don't do things.  They just don't do them while at the shelter.  There are shelters that are wet shelters where they don't turn away people who are intoxicated or high.  There are liabilities and such things.

M:  That makes sense.

OOP:  I would recommend calling the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless.  They will likely not be able to give you any information, but may be another helpful source.

M:  Thank you.  (Get number and info)

OOP:  Our records here are still paper forms and it is tedious and time consuming to go through them to find someone.  Especially someone that you haven't seen in several years.  However, I'd like to help you.  Let me go through our files for the last four months and look to see if he's at least been here during that time.  Call me on Friday to let me know what the Authority says and I'll be able to let you know if he was ever here.

M:  Thank you.  I know that God has a plan for him and that as long as he's alive, there's hope.

OOP:  Yes ma'am.  I pray you find him.  I can only imagine how I would feel if it were my brother.

M:  Thank you.

**Deep breaths, teary eyes... I call the Chatham-Savannah Authority before I think too long about it.

CSA:  Hello.  This is the CSA for the Homeless.  How may I direct your call?

M:  Hi.  My name is Jessica and I'm trying to find my brother.  I know that he is homeless and I'm trying to figure out where he is.

CSA:  We can't give out information about the whereabouts of your brother.  His information is confidential and we are not allowed to give out any information regarding homeless people.  Unless it is local authority, police who are looking.

M:  How do you find someone who is homeless?  How would I go about finding someone who is homeless?

CSA:  Well, I guess the homeless person would contact their people.

M:  Oh.

CSA:  You might consider searching for him as a missing person.  Have you made a missing persons report?

M:  Oh - I hadn't thought of it in that way... we haven't.

CSA:  That may be a way to find him.

I thank them and end the call.  It's such a tricky maze.  If a homeless person doesn't want to be found, they are protected and no information can be given out.  Do other families have homeless family members that they can't find or are we alone in this crazy situation?  How do you get in touch with someone who doesn't want to be found?  Or does he hope to be found, but can't get to us?  And does that even make sense?

Thankful for these people that gave me more information about the system.  Now to continue pressing forward to finding him and accepting that he may not want to be found.  Doesn't everyone want to be found?

Friday, July 7, 2017


Song: Vacation by Dirty Heads

Talking to Riley at lunch about how I want to put together a short clip of us to this song after our vacation next week (without the use of the two cuss word parts).  I begin dancing to it and she makes a face at me.

Me:  I think that'd be neat!
Riley: Yeah that's cool
Me: yeah cause I'm cool
Riley: No, You're like the total opposite of that

Time to dab.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


Riley had one of her closest friends over today.  They've been giggling, talking and playing on their iPads in her room.  It's times like these that make me thankful the walls in our home are so thin :)
I knocked on her door and then entered to tell her friend that her sister was on her way.  Riley was pulling her screen low so I knew that she was listening/watching something she didn't want me to see.   I gave her the 'mom look' and asked her to show it to me.  She pulled it away, but I caught the picture of a mom and her daughter.  She finally showed it to me and the title was '8 parenting fails you should not do.'  She then gave me the 'tween look' and smiled/smirked.  Oh boy... I walked out of the room.  Not sure what she's hoping to learn about being a parent but I'm pretty sure she's thinking I've failed something and she's trying to figure out how to tell me.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fourth of July

We participated in the Sparkman neighborhood festivities for the first year since moving two summers ago.  It's such a special place to live and we love the community.  Each street decorates and builds a float for the 4th of July parade and has a street party at someone's home.  The kids fill up tons of water balloons and have a huge multi-street water balloon fight.  This was Riley's favorite event and she can't wait to do more in it next year.  She loved the planning, plotting and filling of the balloons.  Julia just wanted to hang out with me, but I think she'll get into it as she gets older.

On the 3rd, we went to the Garland's house down the street and met tons of neighbors.  Kids set off small fireworks while we watched and grilled out.  The float was "the Marquis of Marquis."  It was a castle made of cardboard boxed with Guy Mitchell as the Marquis on the trailer throne.

The morning of the 4th, we walked down to the clubhouse for the Kid's Parade.  Riley's friend Vivian had been asked to hold the banner at the front of the parade and she'd invited Riley to hold the other side.  They took two loops around and had a great time leading the bikes, scooters, strollers and kids around the block.

The next parade was the neighborhood float parade with a fire truck, old cars and various street floats.  Julia rode in the truck on one side of the castle and Riley was on the other side.  The girls threw candy to the other kids on the streets.  Jeremy and I walked down to the Neuschafer's home to chat with them through the parade before returning to the start to get the girls.  Regent street did an amazing Star Wars Theme with this massive Darth Vader head, storm trooper golf carts and music blaring.  It was awesome.  My other favorite was 'the world's smallest float' which consisted of this teeny cart being pulled.

It was really special to meet so many neighbors and spend time with new friends.  As I was leaving the party on the 3rd, I went to say goodbye to a lady I had met that night.  I tried to remember her name.

Me:  So nice meeting you!  Is it Nikki?
Her:  No - Linda.  Rebekah?
Me:  No - Jessica.

Then total laughter erupted.

Bunk Beds

The girls have decided that they want to share a bedroom.  And that they need bunkbeds.  They conspired together to draw up an outline of the set-up of the room.  Julia said she would be the thinker and Riley could be the draw-er.  They had an art wall, combined clothing closet, and planned to use the spare bedroom closet for all their games and toys.

To prove to us that they can sleep in the same room and to show us how much they want this, they decided to pull out Julia's trundle bed and sleep in her room every night this week.  They also shared with us that they are pooling their allowance money together to buy the bunkbeds themselves.  Can't tell yet if these are threats towards us or collaboration between them.  Or both.

Their current rooms are linked together with a full bathroom (Jack and Jill set up).  Julia likes a nightlight and sound machine on each night.  Riley likes her changing color iHome station.  Julia likes the fan on high and Riley prefers it to be on medium.  Julia wakes up around 7:00am and Riley likes to sleep in past 10:00am.  Three nights in and they've reached some good compromises that have made it work.  The sweetest part has been that they talk to each other for a short time before falling asleep and truly enjoy being together.

The first night was the hardest.  We said read books, prayed and said goodnight.  Julia was cold so she asked Riley if she could snuggle next to her on the trundle twin size mattress.  The two of them were packed like sardines together and could not get to sleep.  Jeremy and I were watching our new favorite show 'Scandal' and had assumed they were sleeping as all was quiet.  An intimate scene between a couple on the show began and towards the middle of it, we heard sounds near the gate to the hallway.  Bug-eyed and staring at the tv were our precious girls who had never seen anything like that.  Riley whispered "Oh wow."  Julia said nothing.  Jeremy and I were wide-eyed as well.  They had come to ask if I would serve them breakfast in bed in the morning.  I told them I would.  They went back to bed and we heard a little giggling.

When the show ended around 11:15pm, I went back to our room and saw that there was a light on in the bedroom coming from Riley's iPad.  They were laying side by side watching Liv and Maddie and hadn't yet fallen asleep.  I took the iPad away and the girls laid down once again to sleep.  Riley looked particularly tired in the morning, but they insisted that they had slept well.

The second night a compromise was made that Julia had to sleep in her own bed and Riley would sleep on the trundle.  Last night Julia came into bed with me in the middle of the night and tonight Riley wants to sleep in her own room.  The bunkbed conspiracy may be coming to an end.