Sometimes I forget just how much time we spend in the same circles, rotating from school to therapy to church to family/friends’ houses to familiar places and back again. And then we hit a new spot, go on vacation, or change up the schedule and I realize just how many second glances Joel’s wheels rack up in a day. Obviously a cute little boy with adorable specs and the wavy locks of a hair model could attract attention all on his own, but the shiny red wheelchair with light-up wheels seems to be a huge draw. (Occasionally I tell myself it’s his overtly witty, chic mother who causes the staring, but I suppose that’s not quite it.)

I’m still working on my stock answers to the whats-and-whys that curious souls ask about our Super Joel. Thankfully they’re mostly children who ask questions with such an earnest inquisitiveness that I’m fairly good at answering them with a smile. One precious little fellow at the museum recently surprised me with my first, “What happened to him?” He was likely equally surprised by my answer of, “Nothing.” His mother thanked me for my patience after I then mumbled something about how he just uses wheels to get around.


I understand, truly, because the equipment (wheelchairs, gait trainers, standers, harnesses, communication devices — all of it) used to intimidate the heck out of me. I nearly cried the first time a therapist strapped Joel into a wheelchair.  I thought no one would ever notice my handsome little guy again because they’d only see his gear. I worried about the barriers created by the things designed to help him. Then, over time, I realized:

Equipment = Freedom

When I see him fly down a familiar hallway in his wheelchair, mischievous grin spread across his face, I’m just as proud/terrified as I was of his big brother’s learning to run. When I see him execute a perfect 90 or 180-degree turn or work his wheels on grass I’m amazed. Oh, and it’s kind of impossible to ignore his handsome (in my extremely biased opinion)!





Along with the excitement of school starting, we’ve been lucky enough to receive some new gear for Joel in the last two months. His wheeled stander arrived, which is really just a shinier version of the one we’ve had on loan from Children’s. But this one is his:

IMG_1681I picked out his first pair of glasses, and he miraculously posed for this glamor shot the first day he met his new teacher. (Quite the feat if you’ve never tried to photograph Joel…she’s good!):

DSCN3030-1 We were thrilled when his Upsee flew in from the UK. It’s indescribable how much joy it gives him and big brother Luke (and Daddy too!):









We’ve also been working on integrating a new communication switch into Joel’s daily routine. Our hope is that, together with the switch we purchased last year, it will help him learn to express his choices more clearly. Just last week his supportive bath seat was delivered, making bathing Joel a one-parent non-contortionist job. And a relaxed, happy mom/dad means that Joel loves bath time now more than ever!

Of course, we have our eye on more new gear in the coming year as well. Below Joel tries out a gait trainer at school. (This shot captured by Luke’s fabulous Kindergarten teacher who also knows quite a bit about being a Children’s Hospital frequent flyer family.) Joel has also become a big fan of riding bikes at Perlman, and I can’t believe how quickly he’s learning to propel and steer :









Last week, when Joel took a mommy climbing/snuggle chair break at the soccer field, little friends of ours happily climbed in and out of Joel’s wheelchair, trying out the various straps and grinning at its comfort. I marveled at the simplicity of the moment…what’s more typical than kiddos checking out each others’ wheels?

It’s just gear, after all.

Bonus: Two of my favorite guys…Joel and my dad. They like each other quite a bit too. xo





It happened a few days ago. On Sunday at church as we corralled our boys into a side pew near the big wooden doors (always, always by the doors for a quick exit or easy Joel entertainment), a fabulous older woman I admire but don’t know very well said, “I’ve been watching you. Even when you think no one is watching.” Suddenly my mind raced trying to recall if I’d done something embarrassing or a boy had tripped/injured someone/something that morning. All are highly likely. Quickly she continued with, “And you never sigh or look sad.” She was addressing all four of us, beaming and choosing her words carefully. “You’re happy. Really happy. He’s such a blessing. Well, both of them are.” Then she smiled and went on her way.

It’s pretty ridiculous how much I needed someone else to remind me that I’m happy. [And of course I immediately thought: “Pffft. I sigh frequently. Heavily. Maybe I’m just good at faking happy. Many people don’t know I have a theatre background, after all. Which reminded me once again of those fantastic old SNL sketches with Jon Lovitz loudly proclaiming, “I was merely…ACTING!”] I seriously did need that reminder though because we are living in the sweet spot of the summer I longed for last spring during Luke’s recovery, but I’d almost forgotten just how delicious it is. It has always been my favorite time of year. Long days of sunshine, pool time, catching fireflies, melting ice cream, and laughter. Days that smell like sunscreen and s’mores. And my children are thriving.


In June we went camping in the Smoky Mountains at a beautiful accessible campsite, and John was able to visit his first love, the Appalachian Trail!

DSC_0530  DSC_0545 DSC_0509DSC_0477

We were delighted to have all of Luke’s post-op activity restrictions lifted at the beginning of June. Joel’s hips are also hanging in there, and we were told we didn’t have to bring either one of them back to the orthopedic surgeon until next spring. (!!!)

Joel was able to resume aquatherapy this summer through the Perlman Center in addition to his regular class program. He came much closer to loving it this year. We’ll go with “tolerated surprisingly well”, and he was actually quite happy most of the time. (Depending on how much work was asked of him during a given activity anyway!)

IMG_1424 IMG_1427

Joel also had an amazing opportunity to participate in hippotherapy this summer at no charge to us! Normally this therapy (which isn’t covered by insurance) runs $65-$75 a session. This is all thanks to our good friend Karen, an OT, who hooked us up with an awesome instructor who knew a therapist willing to volunteer her time on Saturday mornings. And I simply cannot shut up about the barn owner who refused to charge us stable fees when she heard about Joel! Karen also recruited a terrific teenager from our church who cheerfully led the horse each week. What a gift each person’s time was to Joel! (Someday I’ll probably write an entire post about how it’s rather phenomenal who we “bump into” and how many of our church friends work in the hospital/health field and have given us endless support and ideas…) Seeing little man happily sit up so big and tall on the horse was absolutely breathtaking. And adorable!

IMG_1360 IMG_1362

These extra therapies have noticeably strengthened Joel’s core, and he is pushing himself up to sit regularly throughout the day. I don’t have a great picture yet, however, because whenever I grab my phone or camera he throws himself to the ground. He’s not ready for his closeup I guess. But occasionally I catch him…IMG_1186


And a few more happy summer pics just because:

IMG_1421 IMG_1460 IMG_1369


“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”  -Kurt Vonnegut

Notice, my dears. Even if you have the long list of worries or frustrations that you could easily allow to take over your life. Even when it’s hard, painful even, to let the light in. Just look for the happy because you will find it, I promise.

Enjoy your happy.

Summer’s Coming

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” -Art Williams

This morning an acquaintance asked how we’ve been, and I summed it up with, “Well, our Spring was chaotic but now Summer’s here!” And it is. Really. Shockingly. Finally. Memorial Day marks four weeks that Super Luke has been brace-free and nine weeks post-op. Physically he is doing great work, getting stronger every day and surprising us with his superpowers.

ImageWalking again was a challenge at first, and I couldn’t believe it took him a week to really want to use his walker. But now he’s moving very quickly and we have to remind him that running isn’t an option now. Neither is jumping, kicking ball, or folding knees all the way to his chest. (Although that last one is trickier to monitor…) He has physical therapy twice a week and aquatherapy once a week. By the end of a busy week like this one, he’s toast.

It has been difficult for Luke to mentally let go of his King of the Couch title and remember that the universe doesn’t actually revolve around him. (Have I mentioned he’s sort of a dictator?) I suppose I’m a teensy bit to blame…I did spend a lot of time convincing him that superheroes are born out of trials. But, in my defense, I taught Arthur Miller’s The Crucible a dozen semesters in a row. The concept of arduous testing revealing one’s true character is burned into my psyche.

Example of directorial tendencies…”Mom, take a picture where it looks like I’m eating. Like this!”:


Super Luke workouts:

IMG_1111 IMG_1087









Super Joel has also had another rock star month. A great IEP progress report and excellent checkups with his rehab/CP doctor and neurologist all make Mama worry a little less. (Maybe.) He is flying around in his wheelchair, especially in familiar places. His progress in multiple areas this year makes us feel like we’re on the right track with his education and therapies. He’s adding hippotherapy (on a horse!!) and returning to aquatherapy this summer. Very exciting stuff!

He also got to try out the awesome new Upsee at Perlman a couple of weeks ago:

IMG_0985 IMG_0994









I like to think of myself as a recovering worrier, but I’ve not been doing the best job of decompressing lately. If it has anything to do with our family’s future, I’ve thought about it. Intensely. Perhaps obsessively. And then I worry that I’m worrying too much! (No doubt.) But I do my best living in the moment when I look at this face:

IMG_1017 IMG_1047









And this one:

And even this one because it makes me laugh:IMG_0980 DSC_0454








Tonight, in a surprisingly successful attempt to climb into my lap on the couch, Super Joel pushed up to his hands and knees (!) then grabbed onto my leg and pulled himself up to a tall kneel (!!). Then he pushed and pulled to get his feet under him and tried to stand (!!!). John and I gaped at him for a solid five seconds before sniffling with pride. We needed that today. “Worth it” doesn’t even begin to describe that string of moments.

Here’s what I’m trying these days: Choosing Joy. It’s not always easy. Actually it’s been excruciatingly hard sometimes. And some days I experience a Joy Fail and give up. But it might be getting easier. I’ll let you know. Regardless, the brilliant Henri Nouwen explained it better than I can:

“Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many, joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently from the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it. What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.”

Choose Joy. Summer’s coming.

IMG_0922P.S. This is my adorable niece with Joel. Her birthday (and both of her brothers’ also) is this week. How the boys adore their awesome cousins! Happy Birthday David, Mike, and Nicki!!!


“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

Super Luke is now one month into his post-op metamorphosis. His Buzz Lightyear-style brace/fixer has made it relatively easy to care for him during recovery, and we hope he’ll be cleared for brace removal and weight bearing next week. (!!!) Just like regular parenthood, the weeks are flying by, but the days (and sometimes hours) are long.

Luke is, 97IMG_0863% of the time, pretty much himself during this adventure. He is funny, inquisitive, silly, imaginative, sweet, and can be a bit of a dictator. (It’s okay; I can admit it…we are frighteningly similar.) Overall, we’re so proud of him and his attitude. He rolled well with the chaos of surgery and a three night hospital stay, despite all the poking, prodding, medicine, and tubes that were included.

Although he is frustrated that he cannot do many things for himself, he’s handling his King of the Couch role well by overdosing on Wild Kratts, Legos, and M&Ms. I ration the M&Ms and screen time (sort of), but the bricks are everywhere. (If you stop by and notice our house to be entirely composed of Lego bricks, don’t be surprised!) It’s tempting to compare his recovery to caring for a newborn, but he does feed himself, communicate clearly his bathroom needs, self-entertain sometimes, and sleep soundly. Actually we’re all sleeping pretty heavily, thankfully.


Once again we are somehow shocked that I/we cannot seem to accomplish much more in a day than the basic business of daily life. John asked me recently, “Have you blogged yet about how we thought we’d get all these little projects done around the house/yard during Luke’s recovery?” We were clueless about how physically tiring it would be to transfer a 40+ pound preschooler from bed to wheelchair to couch to potty and back and forth each day on top of corralling our 30 pound explorer Joel and his many accessories.










But here’s the thing…little brother is not going to be ignored during this hectic phase. Nope, Super Joel is on fire. In the past month, he has started to self-propel his own wheels constantly, utilize three separate communication switches at a time (this is HUGE!), and push up to self-sit like a boss!!! He has also (with assistance) attempted to climb up on the couch to get to Luke and more consistently shouts “bwa-a” if separated from big bro. Affectionately, we also nicknamed him the Brown-Eyed Menace because of his typical toddler-like marauding through the house to overturn stools, move chairs, and upend/dismantle all toys. His inner Evel Knieval resurfaced last week when he rolled away from me in a parking lot at Children’s and caught a slight incline that built up his speed and flipped his wheelchair forward onto a curb before I could reach him. He was fine. I cried the rest of the day. And now I will never turn my head again without locking his wheels.IMG_0918

The creative genius volunteers and staff at May We Help designed and built a tray for Joel that allows him to simultaneously access switches and reach/maneuver his wheels. It’s amazing, and we are so grateful to Mr. Ray’s team who turned it out in a month flat. Joel’s preschool SLP actually did a happy dance when she first saw it! What a gift this organization is to our community!!!

We are so overwhelmed and humbled by the kindness shown to us during this crazy time. Many, many thanks to our village who have made survival possible and downright fun! xoxo


“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”  -Henry David Thoreau

Here’s the scoop if you’re in a rush: my five-year-old son is becoming a super hero. It’s important that you know, especially if we’re lucky enough to see you on a somewhat regular basis. Some may think superheroes are just fiction, but I showed Luke clips of Batkid in San Fran last November and that’s all the proof he needed.

IMG_0716I guess I haven’t discussed Luke’s upcoming surgery much with others for a few reasons.  Probably the biggest is that he is extremely intuitive and picks up on the attitudes of others easily. He also catches every word uttered about him within 100 yards. (Further proof that he “selectively” hears mom’s requests. Please put your shoes on…please. PLEASE! SHOES! NOW!) We have chosen to turn his surgery and recovery period into the biggest adventure possible, and I’ve been reluctant to allow others to share their opinions for fear they might influence Luke’s attitude. For example, our nurse this morning said several times, “Oh, you’re going to have a loooooong Spring.” Not helpful.

I also might as well admit that discussing Luke’s hip operation makes me uncomfortable because it feels so personal. We’re still exploring what (genetic or otherwise) caused Joel’s brain to form so uniquely, but we know for sure that Luke’s hip formation of coxa vara was inherited from me. My dad, a cousin, one nephew, and I have all had hips reconstructed at various points in our lives. I remember being seven and stuck in a cast during a large chunk of one hot summer. I don’t remember previous surgeries very well. My lack of flexibility and annoying arthritis frustrate me daily. I’m also positive that I would be *just a bit* taller if my hip joints weren’t so unusual. (Just kidding. Maybe.) But all of my self-image and guilt issues aren’t really the point of this post, anyway. They also haven’t stopped me from having a pretty fantastic life. (That sounds pretentiously Pollyanna-ish, but it’s true!)

IMG_0636I realized that Luke’s hips were different when he was quite young, and we confirmed with an orthopedic surgeon that his right hip won the lottery when he was about 20 months old. Of course I thought it was just horrible at the time…my precious, perfect firstborn had a “problem”!  [Yes, I eschew usage of the words “defect”, “deformity”, “malformation”, etc. because I believe words have the power to color our attitudes.] But that was B.J. (Before Joel), before I realized what true challenges are, and before I grasped that everyone has (or will have) obstacles. Some people are just better at hiding or ignoring them.

In ten days Luke will have reconstructive surgery on both hips because his funky right hip has thrown the left hip into the opposite formation of coxa valga. (Joel and his other non-weight-bearing friends are also “at risk” of developing coxa valga, so he is followed by the same surgeon. Ortho thinks we’re interesting!) Luke will likely be in the hospital for a few days and then come home with a brace or cast to stabilize the hips and pelvis as they heal. We’ve been told a brace will mean about 4 weeks on and a cast will mean about 6 weeks before it’s removed. Then he’ll begin physical therapy. Other than that, I don’t know much because the team keeps reminding us that they don’t see many typically developing kids. So everything will be a bit of a surprise, including whether he receives a brace or cast!

But it’s important that you don’t forget he’s becoming a super hero. I like the name “Lukeman”, but I think he’s going for “Super Luke” and I don’t believe Super Joel will sue for copyright infringement. It seems to me that all super heroes have some struggle/pain/loss/hurdle/something they’ve had to overcome to get their super powers. And haven’t we all?

IMG_0665P.S. – When I think of true strength and pure tenacity, I think of my dad (a.k.a. “Pizza Grandpa”) who TURNS 80 TOMORROW! (Happy Birthday, Dad!!!) He is tough, and Luke and I *might* have also inherited our ridiculously stubborn natures and love of movies from him.

P.P.S. – I have to thank our family and friends who have already offered help with Joel and meals during Luke’s recovery. We know we are so lucky to have each of you…what a gift you are to our little fam! MANY, MANY THANKS!!! [Sidenote: Super Luke also doesn’t know how lucky he is to have streaming video, multiple touchscreen devices, and countless toys at his fingertips during this time. Back in my day…well, you get the picture. Homie is spoiled. Do not feel sorry for him! ;)]


I have two preschoolers in my house now, and I’m a little confused about where my babies have gone. Maybe it’s because we don’t yet know if we’ll have another child [yep, crazy for even considering…], but I’m a bit shocked at how suddenly grown up my boys are. It could also be that I was so wrapped up in the disorienting turmoil of Joel’s diagnosis (at 13 months old) that I failed to notice how huge turning three was for our big guy Luke. But, age three is MAJOR. (So is age five…more coming about big brother in my next post!)



The birthday boy discovers his sled and other presents!

On December 23, we finally received Joel’s first set of wheels. It was a long process that we are about to begin again as we work on acquiring more equipment to assist Joel. We were so happy that our equipment rep. was able to push through the wheelchair before the end of the year. Otherwise, we would have had to begin all over again with approval, ordering, etc. and would have lost our Durable Medical Benefit for the year. What was truly amazing, other than the obvious fact that our vendor works directly for Santa, is how instantly ecstatic Joel was when he first sat in his chair. This is a child whose vision and other senses require time to process new things, people, places, etc. But he was ready!


He is learning to propel his wheels, little by little, and has shown some impressive understanding of turning already. It took months of work this past fall for him to touch wheels and now he prefers to keep his hands on at all times, especially if it means he’s in charge! In addition to celebrating Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and then both of our boys’ birthdays this month, we also marked Joel’s one year anniversary at the Perlman Center at Cincinnati Children’s. I cannot explain how Perlman has changed our lives. Last year he was a child who had no idea that his feet and legs were meant for standing and walking, and this year he laps the hall loop in a gait trainer. And then there are the amazing families who share ideas, hopes, fears, support, and everything else. They are family to us now.

By the way, Joel decided to sit up by himself for the first time at our boys’ family birthday party. We were quite surprised!:


We also celebrated our one-year “van-niversary”…which is so cheesy I should delete it. But, I love the van! Being able to haul around a stroller, wheelchair, children, and groceries, etc. makes life easier. I’m in a bit of denial about the potential need for a van that can accommodate Joel sitting in a wheelchair as he grows. We might just paint flames on the side and embrace it, though!

When children receive early intervention services from the county, their case is transferred to the school district at age three. (At least in Ohio, anyway.) Our education specialist, physical therapist, and occupational therapist worked with Joel in our home since he was about ten months old. (We added speech about a year ago, too.) It was so hard to say goodbye to them in the past few weeks because they have helped with every aspect of diagnosis, therapy, and life in general. I will be forever grateful for their wisdom, cheerleading, and care over the past two years. Our county has a Developmental Disabilities Services levy on the ballot this May, so local friends especially will be hearing more from me about the phenomenal work they do!

And this week Joel went to his first day of preschool! For me, it felt a little bit like the first time I flew in a plane…excited, nervous, elated, and a tiny bit nauseous all at the same time. But he loved it! I’m pretty sure he was thinking, “Hey fam, love you and all, but there’s fun stuff to do in there. See ya!”


We are so very proud of this boy who has changed our lives in ways we never anticipated. A great friend shared this quote today, and it’s exactly what I’ve been trying to explain to others, especially those who wear the “oh, such a pity/how sad/I’m sorry” faces when asking about Joel. I personally wouldn’t have been ready for my jacket right away (maybe delivered about six months post-diagnosis), but John (who, thankfully, is the steadiest person I’ve ever met) would’ve said, “Sweet!”, and put it on immediately.  This is taken from an interview with the actress Laura San Giacomo (whom I adored in Pretty Woman and the TV series Just Shoot Me) who has an 18-year-old son with CP:

“I think first of all there’s so much negativity around [disability]. Perhaps a really difficult birth, a really difficult childhood trauma, an extremely difficult diagnosis and there’s a lot of mourning that goes on and a lot of fear. And trying to adjust your mind around what you thought your parenting was going to be to what it’s now going to be.

And I wish that medical professionals would tell parents, ‘This is your chance to be the most incredible person, to be better than you ever thought you were going to be, to become smarter than you ever thought you were, to become more imaginative than you ever thought you could be. And this is your chance to really shine and step up to the plate for the biggest game of your life.’ There’s a lot of great power surrounding the community and I sort of want to inject with, you know, the green masters of jacket – of the golf world.

And I wish that doctors and medical professionals when they give the diagnosis would also put a green jacket on your shoulders and say, ‘Hey, this is your chance. You have been given this most incredible and amazing challenge and it is going to be the hardest thing you will ever do in your life, and it is going to be the thing that is going to be the most joyful thing in your life. You will experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and you are going to be amazing and your child is going to be amazing.’

And they will play basketball, whether it is from a wheelchair or someone helping them, they will find all kinds of things that you do not know, because your mind is too closed to what a disability might be. They will find and they will show you what they are going to be excited and passionate and joyful about. And your job is to take a machete and carve the path in front of them. Find out what they love to do and carve it and let them experience all of the world.

And that’s a lot, and nobody is going to want to hear that. They just want to cry, but at the other side of the crying is going to be a full and rich life that is going to be tiring, but also extremely fulfilling and joyful.”


“All my life I was blind, I was blind, now I see”  -The Lumineers (with credit, I believe, to The Bible)

This lyric swims around in my head a lot lately as I’m out and about.  When I see the young man at Half Price Books with a walker and an awesome communication device happily perusing the titles.  When the bagger at Kroger sings a lovely “Good Morning” song.  When I greet the various members of the cleaning crew at the YMCA.  And, of course, when I see so many delightful children and their adoring families roll through the Perlman Center at Children’s.  I was a decent person (I think) before Joel rocked my world, but I didn’t really see these people before.  I sort of looked through them, and (I’m embarrassed to admit) probably pitied them.  [Which is even more absurd if you know that my mom gracefully battled the effects of Polio throughout her life with various pieces of equipment.]  But do you know what I do every time I see an adult or teen with obvious physical and/or mental challenges A.J. (After Joel)?  I thank God for this beautiful soul who is doing this work or seemingly simple activity, and I pray that Joel will be able to have that some day.  Whether it’s a job (or whatever), but I hope he has that thing he can do that makes him an integral part of society. And I kick my former self for her narrow definition of success.


Joel’s village has practically doubled this fall.  With his Hypotonic CP diagnosis came the addition of biannual visits to CP clinic, comprised of a rehabilitation doctor and team of therapists.  They were great and seem like an excellent resource.  Joel and some buddies also advanced into a true toddler classroom at Perlman with new therapists.  This was a big step for mama too because it’s his first drop-off program.  We both have done surprisingly well with the transition!

Joel has been evaluated and is all set to begin preschool right after his third birthday (inconceivable!) next month.  We knew we picked a phenomenal school district in which to raise our children, but we had no idea just how important the preschool special education services would become.  We are so lucky that there is a preschool classroom with half general ed. and half special ed. students in the same building where big brother will start Kindergarten next year.  I was a teacher and know basically what an IEP (Individualized Education Program) entails.  What I didn’t expect was how it would feel to walk into a meeting with a team of nine experienced professionals who have carefully analyzed our child and formulated a set of goals tailored specifically to him.  I must say it feels pretty amazing. They know he’s a gift, and they are going to push him forward. [Insert mama’s sigh of relief here…]


Part of Joel’s forward progress has been some ridiculously typical toddler behavior.  He dumps bins of toys, bangs cabinet/all other doors continuously, destroys all structures big bro leaves within his reach, and even pulled a garland of wooden beads completely off our Christmas tree.  In a feat that terrified me and thoroughly elated him, he took off down our basement stairs when the door was apparently left ajar.  I found him ten feet across the (thankfully carpeted) floor, grinning as if he’d won a huge prize.  He was completely fine. Luckily we were already heading to the pediatrician’s office that day.  We also installed another gate to keep Evel Knievel safe.

We also just got word today that we really, truly should have Joel’s wheels in our hands by the end of the year.  Sometimes when I’m discussing the entire scheduling/approval/ordering mess I feel like Buddy the elf and “the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest”, except I’m talking about seven levels of insurance Hades.  Seriously, people with special kiddos have an endless list of other things to do besides battle for basic necessities.  Completely exhausting, but Santa is apparently on the case because *fingers crossed* it seems to actually be happening.


At this time of year, we like to count our blessings.  Joel has brought us some of the most incredible people we never would have met if he wasn’t Joel.  He has also reminded us that we were surrounded by some pretty fantastic people even before he was born.  Thank you for your encouragement and support, dear friends and family.  Your love and kindness mean more than we could ever express.  Thanks for joining us on this journey!