Our good friends, Elaine, Kent, & Isaac graciously invited us to explore the Plano Balloon Festival with them a couple of weekends ago. It was a blast! The boys had a great time and the balloons were nothing short of gorgeous.

Here’s a cute one of the boys early in our outing–

Ethan & Isaac in front of EDS booth/car

Here’s one of me with Ethan just in front of the launch site where moments before the EDS balloon had just floated away–

Ethan & Leigh in front of Launch site

Speaking of the EDS balloon . . . it was gorgeous; see for yourself!

EDS Balloon

And another . . . check out the beautiful clouds, too!

EDS Balloon 2

The kids got to play games and win some cool prizes. They loved the arts & crafts booth where they created some fantastic keepsakes. Below, you can see them dancing with their “shakers” made at the arts & crafts pavillion–

Boys dancing during Glow

Don’t want to over-do-it, but there were a few “favorite” balloons the kids adored.

The Daisy:

Daisy Balloon

The Tree:

Tree Balloon

I’ll stop there! What a great time we had. The boys were both worn out by the time we left. What an adventure . . . Ethan is already asking about going again next year!

 

 

 

Posted by Leigh, filed under Family. Date: September 30, 2008, 12:45 pm | No Comments »

Clay has actually been home for awhile now, because he was doing so very well in the hospital following the surgery! When I spoke with him last, he had a respiratory infection and felt lousy from it. That didn’t stop him from going out to ride Shellie’s bike though! (When I mentioned that he *probably* shouldn’t be doing that with a numb right leg and left hand and some lingering double vision, he said something like, “well, it is just a one speed.”) He’s a little wild, but he always has been. I’m thankful that hasn’t changed but reminded him that the last thing he needs is a bike wreck.

His physical therapists will be coming to his house to work with him again after the respiratory infection clears up. Then maybe he won’t feel the need to go riding bikes without their assistance . . .

I DID get his permission to share the photos I have and he said, “I have even more.” But, let’s start with these. The first is tame–of the hospital only–and the other two are a little more difficult to view if you don’t care for incisions.

Swedish Medical Center

Again, if you don’t handle “medical” stuff very well, no need to scroll down. Otherwise, have a look; it amazes me that he has only the one incision with stitches.

Clay’s Incision

There are 2 staples on top where they removed drainage tubes a day or so after surgery. Poor Clay.What we can’t see are the 20 screws in his skull. Amazing. He is doing simply phenomenal, all things considered!

Clay’s Incision Close Up

Keep on improving Clay!

Thanks to everyone, again, for continued prayers and positive thoughts. I will be thrilled to repay the favor anytime for you or your loved ones.

Posted by Leigh, filed under Family, Uncategorized. Date: September 30, 2008, 12:22 pm | No Comments »

All of the prayers sent on Clay’s behalf certainly worked! He is doing AMAZINGLY well. Thank you to everyone who sent prayers and positive thoughts; not just thank you–SINCERE, HEART-FELT THANKS!

An update: Clay’s tumor removal surgery lasted about 7 hours on Friday, September 12th. While I didn’t see pictures, the Neurosurgeon showed the immediate family a digital image of the pinkish, fist-sized tumor lying in a surgical tray. (They DID ask to see it, BTW.) The doctor was unable to remove all of the cells due to their proximity to an important vein and had to cauterize the remaining cells. A follow-up MRI on Sunday afternoon confirmed that there were no live tumor cells remaining!

Miraculous–simply miraculous!

Clay was in recovery for several hours following the surgery and was moved to the Critical Care Unit of the hospital (Swedish Medical Center) late Friday night. After the gush of complete relief and a surge of other related emotions we all had after hearing the Neurosurgeon’s update, everyone was on pins and needles waiting to hear how Clay fared in the recovery room. Shellie was able to go back to sit with him and came out looking like a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Clay was actually chatting with us in sets of two by around 8 or 9pm when they moved him to the CCU! And–not just chatting–Clay was making jokes and recalling fond memories and nicknames from childhood. Again, I see this as nothing short of a miracle! Hallelujah!!

During my short stay, I was able to witness steady and tremendous progress in Clay’s recovery. What a blessing to get to observe such a miracle! I also watched Shellie stay phenomenally strong, with very little sleep–no less, and saw Jason (Clay’s youngest brother) take care of Shellie like a Mother Hen. (I mean that as a BIG compliment by the way!!) Also, thanks to the fantastic medical staff at SMC, Clay’s pain was kept tolerable for the most part (which also astounds me) and they watched all of his vital signs very close. He did have some issues with unusual blood pressure which finally resolved after the addition of 4 BP medications on Saturday. 

Of biggest concern at this point: Clay is having some numbness in his right leg. He says it feels “like a ghost leg,” and is very worried he may not get that sensation back. (This is where our prayers and positive thoughts will become useful again, I believe.) I also believe that extensive work with a Physical Therapist will work wonders, too.

Clay WAS having issues with double vision until early, early Monday morning. My prayer is that the double vision remains resolved and simply removing the tumor is all that was needed to keep his vision on track.

After I left Monday, Clay was able to move to a private room on the Neurology floor and can now begin to focus on his rehabilitation and physical therapy there. I think he probably finally got to see his sweet kiddos and niece, too, yesterday afternoon. There is nothing is quite as cheerful as a bunch of energetic, beautiful and funny tots! Brody (4 years) and Chloe (3 years), Clay’s kids, have grown into such spunky, gorgeous cherubs. Jason’s daughter, Jessica (3 1/2 years), is just as gorgeous and spunky. I enjoyed spending time with the three of them on Saturday evening. They’re certainly a “Happy Handful” and great motivation for Clay to focus on getting better!

Clay is able to receive e-mail and would love to hear from friends and family and/or anyone who has been praying for him. Go to www.SwedishHospital.com and click on “Patient & Visitor Resources” and then “Patient E-mail Service.” Clayton Bryant is his full name (for those of you who may not know or remember) and he is in room 9-269.

I do have a couple of pictures of Clay pre- and post-surgery but haven’t had a chance to #1) download them or #2) ask for Clay’s permission to share them. If you’re interested in seeing the pix, keep checking back here every now and then . . . I have a feeling Clay will be fine with me sharing the pictures, but I feel obligated to ASK FIRST. 

Again, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to pray for my sweet cousin and his family throughout this very scary ordeal. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE let me know when I can repay the favor for you, any of your family or friends. I wholeheartedly believe in the power of prayer!

YAY FOR CLAY! Yay for Clay.

[Big, long sigh of relief.]

Love and Gratitude,

~Leigh

Posted by Leigh, filed under Family. Date: September 16, 2008, 8:29 am | No Comments »

My witty, sweet cousin, Clay, just found out on Thursday that he has a brain tumor. The tumor is gigantic, taking up about one quarter of his brain, roughly the size of a baseball. Surgery is scheduled for sometime Friday. Clay’s Neurosurgeon is consulting with other experts tomorrow and we should have more details after that.

Clay is married to a beautiful, amazing girl named Shellie and has two precious small children–Brody and Chloe. His parents, my Aunt Libby and Uncle Kenny, are two of the funniest, most in-love people I’ve ever met. Clay has three siblings: Jeff, Jason and Liza, who all adore him as much or more than I do. Your prayers for all of them, and for all the medical staff who will be working with Clay, will be greatly appreciated.

Clay used to live in the DFW area and as a result we became very close. That he is having to go through this just breaks my heart. I’m flying out to be with him and his family on Thursday. I won’t have access to e-mail, but will be glad to answer phone calls to share updates.

Thanks in advance for your prayers and positive thoughts.

With Loving Appreciation,

~Leigh

Posted by Leigh, filed under Family. Date: September 7, 2008, 10:32 pm | No Comments »

The saying that grandchildren are God’s reward for not killing your own children cracks me up!

There really ARE those days that leave you wondering how things could get any more difficult and why you can’t seem to get it all together (keep the clothes washed and put away, keep the dishes clean, put healthy food on the table, etc.) Reality dictates that things can always get worse and sometimes do; we’ve lived through our share of heartbreak and frustation in the past few years. But, if you’re dedicated to loving and raising your child well–everything falls in place at some point–even if it isn’t in a tidy manner. You can bet it is going to fall out of place again, but if you’re prepared, at least you’re not caught by surprise.

Grandparents have been there . . . they’ve lived through it all (sometimes more than imaginable!) and still choose to be there on the good and bad days to shower grandchildren with love and acceptance. What a gift!

Ethan is blessed to have two very wonderful sets of grandparents who love and adore him. Since we live close to Greg’s parents, they get to see Ethan often. They’re always ready to answer our pleas for baby-sitting services and they make Ethan feel like a king. Ethan’s school invited grandparents to eat lunch with the kids on Friday and Grandpa & Grandma were thrilled to do it. I snapped a few fun photos.

Grandparents Lunch at Sem

Ethan had a hard time saying goodbye, but felt super special thanks to having his grand guests.

Grandparents Lunch at Sem

While my parents are in the far NW corner of New Mexico, they, too, shower Ethan with love and adoration. Anytime we visit them or when they occasionally visit us, Ethan re-bonds with them as if it was only a week since our last visit. Since Papa has a tractor, a golf cart and a four-wheeler, Ethan thinks that HE is the master of all cool vehicles.

Ethan & Papa   

[Can you tell Ethan is happy?]

Ethan & Papa

[What a good sport Papa is!]

Ethan & Papa

[Ethan even gets to operate the barrel sometimes!]

Mam goes out of her way to feed Ethan gluten-free/yeast-free/sugar-free goodies when she’s around and Ethan and his sweet-tooth are absolutely delighted.

Mam & Ethan

[Ethan LOVED having Mam come visit us in June!]

Ethan also has a great-grandmother in Albuquerque who adores him. Grandma ‘Re loves getting pictures in the mail; good thing Ethan is so photogenic! 

Ethan loves his grandparents!

I’m profoundly thankful that Ethan is so blessed. Happy Grandparents Day to Grandma & Grandpa, Mam & Papa  and Grandma ‘Re along with other loving and dedicated grandparents out there. The world is a better place thanks to all of these truly GRANDparents.

Posted by Leigh, filed under Family. Date: September 6, 2008, 8:22 pm | No Comments »

MSU has a phenomenal new program for high-functioning Auties and Aspies that has LOTS of parents (like me) cheering. Check out this article talking about Dr. Millie Gore and her amazing new program. We need more dedicated advocates like Dr. Gore and more programs like this for our loved ones across the nation. When I stop to think about Ethan’s future, I know he’ll be sucessful, but I do worry about how difficult schooling may be for him as a young man. I pray for a program of this caliber for Ethan in the coming years. 

Hooray for Dr. Gore, MSU, the Hampstead House and Dr. Gore’s students who are all helping to make this a reality for these precious families. MSU ROCKS!

Posted by Leigh, filed under Asperger's Syndrome, Family. Date: September 4, 2008, 12:20 pm | No Comments »

03  Sep
Write What?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the question, “How’s your writing going?” in the past couple of months . . . which is really a nice question. Very nice that people actually care that I LOVE to write and that–when I can–I pour my heart and soul into it.

However, with Ethan home with me 100% for the summer (i.e. no week-long camps, etc.,) I didn’t have any spare time for writing. I didn’t seek any freelance work because I knew that my schedule wouldn’t accomodate it. In fact, the only writing I managed to do was write a book about Ethan for his school’s staff, and a little writing for Ethan’s school PTA.  (I’m the publicity chairperson for the PTA this year and started working on new forms, etc., in July!)

So, while “my writing” is progressing very slow, I’m rather proud about it. I KNOW that this time is fleeting . . . sharing this past summer with Ethan was relaxing and enjoyable. Truth be known, it disappeared in a flash. He has developed a love of reading that I can honestly say developed in a very organic way, thanks to our long hours of devouring books together over the past five-and-a-half years. It won’t be long before Ethan will be asking me to enroll him in week-long summer camps; for all I know it could be next summer! Ethan is my #1 job–my #1 priority. My dedication was to him this summer.

Now that he’s in Kindergarten (full day) I’ll get to focus more on my writing. I’m even going to substitute a bit to earn some extra dough for the family and spend some quality time with the elementary set, but I am a bit sad to say goodbye to this past summer. We “accomplished” so little, but so much, in the big scheme of things. Our mother/son bond has never been so strong. His social skills have continued to develop and he is a total love bug when it comes to me. I love this kiddo more than I ever knew possible. I’m thankful.

Posted by Leigh, filed under Children's Writing, Family, Uncategorized. Date: September 3, 2008, 9:19 pm | No Comments »