March 28, 2014

It's All About Balance

As I have mentioned before, it is not my medically complex child that causes me to lose sleep at night, it is my worry for my other children.  Every night when I go to bed I think about their day, their burdens, their emotions, their health. . . am I balancing it all?  Do they have what they need to stay healthy and thriving through this crazy 'Life with a Side of Special'?

We have an exciting Spring that awaits us -- when our two year process is over and Bridger will be paired with his service dog from Canine Companions for Independence.  Bridger and I will go up to their facility in New York for two weeks in May for an intensive team training.  I am bringing my two older daughters with us to help with Bridger and also be part of this exciting process.  This process, however, is all about Bridger -- as life all too often is.  I am keenly aware that this exciting experience also holds the potential for jealousy or for the other children to feel like they are living in his shadow.

God knows those concerns and in those late night hours of worry I have before I fall asleep I was given a little inspiring direction for them.

Canine Companions for Independence has on their website a "wish list" of items they need to help the training and care of the future service dogs to continue as well as facility improvements.  What if my girls put on their fundraising hats and raised money to purchase a few items that they can present to the organization when we arrive?

I talked to them about the idea and they were over the moon with excitement.  They got their notebooks and pens and immediately started brainstorming.  Before I knew it they had created flyers and posters offering their products and services.
grinding the wheat

It is quite an impressive offering! They are cleaning baseboards on houses, dog walking,  cat sitting, kid sitting, selling baskets of homemade wheat bread with jars of homemade strawberry jelly and whipped honey butter that they are making themselves, teaching a cooking class of how to make those same delicious treats to their friends, selling boxes of our famous Springerle Cookies and more! 
making the jam
At first I thought they could just purchase a couple dog toys and some towels.  Well, they are on track to nearly purchase the whole entire wish list!
delivering over a dozen bread baskets of yumminess

dog walking in the rain, sleet and snow

My heart is just giddy at the thought of those two little girls, after all of their hard work, pulling in their carts laden with supplies to present to CCI.  I am excited to sit back in the shadow with their little brother and, in this Bridger-centric time, let them have the spotlight and let it be all about THEM.

Shine on Evie and Sadie. Shine on!

If you would like to help them or donate to this cause, please contact me.  100% of all funds given to them will be used to purchase Wish List items for Canine Companions for Independence.

March 27, 2014

Eva's Heart

Spring might be rolling around one of these days. . . hopefully.  And with spring comes a dozen fitting occasions to warm up the ovens and start making some Springerle cookies! The butter is softening as I type and the fine cloud of powdered sugar dust that blankets the kitchen is being created as my littlest one starts on her favorite task of sifting.  I treated myself to a couple new cookie molds this season.  Added to my collection is this little beauty. . .

It is called Eva's Heart and the cookie mold dates back to 1710.  I couldn't resist getting it for the name alone.  The beauty and detail of that cookie mold reflects the beauty and intricacies of my own little Eva's heart.

I was going through some old notebooks this past weekend and found one that I had started to record all those cute things my kids say that I know I will forget.   Ahh, yes,one of those mothering ideas that ends up being one of those "grand intentions" that dissolves away after child number 3.  But, for the 2 years I actually used it, it has turned into a priceless treasure of those precious things that came out of my older three children's mouths once upon a time that I did indeed forget.

One of those recorded treasures was a conversation with Eva in the hospital after I had just given birth to Bridger.  Some of my favorite moments of all time are the 4 times I introduced my child/children to their newest sibling.  Eva was the ripe ol' age of three when Bridger was born and she was overjoyed at having her own live baby doll.  She held him and cuddled him, rubbed his little fuzzy head and when it was time for Alan to take the kids back home she announced as she started to walk out with him, "Well, he will just be coming with us now."

I smiled at her and explained to her that Bridger needed to stay in the hospital with mom for one more day.  Her eyes filled with the most sincere, oversized crocodile tears as she protested through her quivering lower lip, "But Mom, I just love him so much."

And so that love continues just as strong 7 years later.

Yesterday morning I went into Bridger's room and under his pillow was a note that Eva had left for the Tooth Fairy on Bridger's behalf.

(note: I quickly purchased a little toy while she was at school and stuck it under his pillow -- which she promptly found for him after she got home from school.)

Alan and I went to a presentation this weekend about the 'blessings and stressings' of being a special needs sibling.  There are very difficult challenges and a constant awareness of emotional health to be mindful of, but the presentation also reiterated that there are many studies that show the unique and amazing qualities that develop in a child that has a sibling with special needs, including a greater compassion and empathy for others compared to a child without a special sibling.  That is Eva.

She is his advocate.  She celebrates him.  She protects him.  She loves him.  And for that, and so much more, I love Eva's Heart.

March 26, 2014

When "Thank You" Doesn't Suffice

What do you do when your heart is so overwhelmed with gratitude that a simple spoken "thank you" seems like an awfully pathetic offering?  You say a prayer that those two spoken words will be accompanied with all the feelings in your heart.

I have one of those such "thank you's" in my heart for this place. . . 

Jill's House.

Did you feel the love in my fingers as I just typed those two words?

This past weekend marked our one year anniversary attending Jill's House and I absolutely love that place and every single person and thing under that roof.  

Jill's House is a place created just for me (and hundreds of other parents of children with special needs.)  It is a respite lodge where Bridger can go and play, swim, have fun, love and be loved for an entire weekend so the others in our family can go play, swim, have fun, love and be loved some place else, without the weight, worry and stress that accompanies daily life with Bridger.  They are a special needs dream home - with roll-in showers, track systems, a pool heated extra warm for those that struggle with thermal regulation, sensory toys for every ability and need, a SleepSafe bed so Bridger can be just as safe at night there as he is at home, adaptive bikes, accessible playground complete with a wheelchair swing and more!  Jill's House is staffed with skilled nurses 24/7 that can care for his medical needs.  And even more importantly, Jill's House is staffed with people whose desire it is to care, love and nurture children with special needs so their parents can have a moment to care for themselves and the other children in the family.  My goal has always been to fill Bridger's world with people who love him just as much as I do - and Jill's House does!

When Bridger went for his first stay in March of 2013, I was a mess.  None of my children had ever had a sleepover or been away at overnight camp - and now I was sending Bridger away for two nights?!  I worried about him not understanding the concept of sleeping away from home and that mom would come back again in a day or two.  Would he feel abandoned or scared?  When I picked Bridger up from his first weekend there, his reaction as we drove away answered every one of my concerns.  He was sobbing.  Not just a whiny cry, but a full-on body heaving bawl as he managed the words, "More Jeh How" in between hyperventilating breaths as we drove home.

We have attended many weekend respites and day camps since that first stay and there are always two people crying in the car now.  Bridger - and me.  I cry on the way there on Friday evening.  The weight of surviving the week hangs heavy on me and as I drive there I am overwhelmed with anticipation of a weight soon to be lifted.  I enter the lobby to a welcoming fire roaring the stone fireplace and the feeling of love in the air is so thick you can cut it with a knife.  Within those walls are dozens of the most perfect and loving children ever created by God and you can feel of that greatness the minute you enter through those doors.  Volunteers are warmly welcoming every child and contributing to that aura of love.

As I walk back to my car I pass a plaque on the exterior wall upon which is engraved the words of the Savior in Matthew -- "Come unto me, all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Rest.  That is a rare commodity in my life. But a reminder of that promise and the feeling that hits me when I get behind my wheel to drive home will cause my eyes to start leaking again. 

This time with tears of relief.  I know that I will survive 48 more hours.  We have used that 48 hours of rest in different ways - I have gone on a date with my husband, we have gone out to dinner as a family (and enjoyed it!), we have gone away to the cabin, we have slept in past 7am, we have gone to amusement parks, gone on a trip as a couple in another country, cleaned the garage, gone to games and concerts. . . all activities that we could not have done with Bridger.  And that evil companion of guilt is removed - because Bridger would rather be at Jill's House than any of those other places.  The final set of tears is the consistent ones from Bridger every time we get in the car to return home. We go through our recitations every time we drive away:  Bridger, "I go back anader day?" Me, "Yes, you will go back another day." Repeated over and over for the next 20 minutes.
Sensory room with every fancy gadget you could dream of.

Bridger's favorite place - Big Sky Gym.  Bowling, more bowling, and let's bowl again!

Dining area in the Pod.  Pizza party every Sunday!
Lance hanging in Bridger's private bedroom he enjoys at Jill's House.
Game room - not to be confused with the Arts and Crafts room, which is down the hall.
This weekend Jill's House went the extra nurturing mile by tending to another weight on my heart - the experience of my other children in this journey.  I worry about their needs, their emotions, particularly jealousy.  Jill's House answered that need by having a party just for them - Bridger was not invited! They invited them into Jill's House for a fun pizza dinner and to play in all of the fun areas the same way that they imagine that their brother probably does.  All the while Alan and I were treated to a delicious catered dinner and a presentation from a counselor about the blessings and stressings on special needs siblings.
Music room where Bridger dances along to other's karaoke.

Eliza testing out the Chill Out chair in the pod

My dream bathroom.  truly.

Amazing heated pool where Bridger has two attendants caring for him to keep him safe.

Looking back over the past year, Alan and I both agree that Jill's House has been the greatest blessing in our lives and the single most important tool for success we have had to help us thrive in this journey.

So now you understand my conundrum.  How do you say a simple "thank you" to that?

March 25, 2014

No More Mr. Four Eyes


Love the full unobstructed view of those beautiful baby blues now.

A few weeks ago Lance said that he was interested in contacts. {insert total shocked expression from me} The kid who doesn't like change, who could care less about his appearance, who hates to touch anything wet, wants contacts?!

After having his glasses torn off of his face and broken three times in the past month by his brother, I jumped on that request before he had a chance to second guess himself and made the appointment with the ophthalmologist to get fitted.

Today was his first morning to wear his new contacts and I went into his room to wake him up.  He was dressed, ready, bed made and at his desk rereading the instruction sheet to put them in.  Lance has gotten himself out of bed, um, let met think. . . NEVER this year, so it was cute how antsy he was for his debut of his new set of eyes.

I gave my not-so-little-boy-anymore a hug and sent him out the door to the bus stop.  I do declare, I think I detected a bit of a new swank to his gait.

March 23, 2014

Never Mind the Mud

Today marks 11 years since my father died.  When so much time has passed since an event, some may say "it feels just like yesterday."  Not this.  It feels like forever ago.  I miss him.   I wish he could have known my children.  I wish that he could have seen me as a mother.  He taught me so many life lessons that I am calling upon now as a parent.  A particular lesson I  often reflect on was not taught from his words or example, but was taught in his death and was taught to me by my brother.

When my father was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer our family was in shock.  My father was just entering that golden stage of life - having just become an empty nester, excited to make use of the first bit of free time he ever had in his life to enjoy his grandchildren.  Upon diagnosis came the prognosis of just a few months to  left to live.

Our whole family lived nearby and circled together during this difficult time.  That is, our whole family, with the exception of my youngest brother.  He was 2000 miles away at college.  So as my mother and other 3 siblings got to hug my dad and cry and be with him, my brother was alone, trying to digest the news that he was going to lose his father at an age that no child should have to.

My brother said that when he found out the tragic news, that he went outside in the dark and sank in sadness at the trunk of tree.  He remained by that tree as it began to rain.  When he realized he was not only wet from the rain, but then covered in the mud the rain had created, he felt beaten.  Then a feeling hit him to the core, that same rain that makes mud, is what also causes the flowers to grow.  He no longer was angry about the mud.

This year has been a muddy one for me due in large part to the many new challenges we faced with Bridger.  However, that same rain that caused that mud has caused the flowers to grow.  The most beautiful flowers are budding all around me and I am so grateful for those rain storms that I weathered, even if I had to sit in some inevitable mud holes.  I no longer mind the mud.

March 14, 2014

Not Get Over it, Get on With it

There is rarely a time that I am not mindful of what I say in a social situation.  I am constantly monitoring my conversation to make sure it is not too, you know, "Special".  I don't want to tire people of my talk of Bridger -- people may want to hear what you did that week but I have learned that they don't want to hear it if it was 10 hours of doctor appointments and therapies, 6 hours of IEP prep and meetings, 2 sleepless night, 3 vomit episodes and the 4 bottles of salsa that your son kicked off the shelf at the grocery store as your other child pushed him in his wheelchair while you managed the grocery cart.  So what's left -- the hole in my sock.  I can talk about that.  This fear of what to say and not to say, and in what quantity and detail is on the mind of most special needs parents.  Many of us used to be fun, social people and now find ourselves unsure if we are supposed to go back and find that same carefree social fluency we once had or resign ourselves to be good listeners to the raving chatter about the latest home accessory find from the social company we find ourselves in.  At times a piece of the "old me" comes out and I can talk about the new color scheme for this year's fashion trend and it is indeed refreshing.  But most of the time during such conversation attempts I am thinking that I can still smell the morning's vomit on my shoulder, and that I hope the important call back from the doctor doesn't come while I am in the bathroom, and the realization that I only had time to put mascara on one eye.  Yes, I fully own that becoming a special needs parent included a free pass to becoming a social oddity.

I will never forget a dinner I was having dinner with some girlfriends a while back - trying to exercise my same caution in my choice of words that I usually do.  I apparently failed in my efforts, however.  As we were taking the check to the register and I must have let the word "Bridger" escape my lips one too many times and one friend touched my arm and said, "You just got to get over it."

Get over it? I inwardly chuckled.  It is my life. Every aspect of my life is directly affected or otherwise indirectly touched by it.  It's like telling someone who wants to have breath to get over it.  It is me. No, I can't get over it, but I can get on with it.  I am taking this special package that affects what time I wake up every morning, what I do every minute of the day and what order I do it in, that affects what earrings I wear or how I do my hair, that affects my constant mindfulness that the toilet seats are always down, front door is locked and stairs gates are closed despite the constant traffic of children going in and out, that affects what I spend my money on (or don't spend my money on since Bridger's annual unreimbursed medical expenses are the cost equivalent of a couple of new cars), that affects how I physically feel each day and if I am able to stand upright, that affects what car I can drive or where I can park, that affects what volume I am allowed to speak without evoking screams, what room I can be in in my house, that affects building in 30 extra minutes into my schedule whenever I have to leave the house and affects how long I can stay at a store or even what stores I can go to, that affects what restaurants I can go to or what vacations my family can take or the attention I must pay to every 1/2" offset in whatever floor or ground surface I walk on, that affects if I can talk on the phone or have play dates over for my other children, that affects what I eat and when, that affects if I can leave a door open or a glass on the table or a shoe in the middle of the floor, that affects if and when I can go to bed and for how long I can sleep. . . and I am getting on with it.  You see, all of that has made me a different person and I am still getting to know her.  So in the meantime, please don't start twitching if I talk the special talk one too many times at dinner, and please laugh at my story of Bridger shattering salsa jars all over the grocery store (I am finally able to laugh at that too.) Special needs parents are really trying to avoid finding themselves constantly tongue-tied, but back in the world of jovial social conversationalists.  Be patient.  We will get there. We will get on with it, not just over it.

March 13, 2014

Farewell, Old Friend

I'm still sick to my stomach this morning.  I think I am having an emotional hangover from last night.  Last night I said goodbye to a dear friend, one that has been by my side through thick and thin.  I parted from the most loyal friend who has never let me down and has been part of my life through the most critical last six years.  How do you let go?

I gave my friend one long last look, then snapped a final picture and walked away - too emotional to turn back.

Pathetic, some may think.  Who else has to hold back tears at a CAR DEALERSHIP?! But I found myself choked up.  We purchased our big mega van last spring and so we became  a family of two drivers with three cars.  Totally unnecessary and a small part of me was really wanting my driveway back for the kids to shoot hoops without a car in the way. We also are needing to fund the 5-digit out-of-pocket price tag for Bridger's specialized physical therapy this summer - so it made sense to part with it.  But as I sat there waiting at the dealership to make the exchange I found myself hurting inside at the thought of parting with it. That feeling stems from what the suburban represents to us.  When Bridger was first diagnosed and we were released from our 9+ week hospital stay, we had a brand new minivan. We realized with this new diagnosis we were going to need to make some changes - a lot of changes, to adapt our new life to his needs.  We didn't know a fraction of what those future changes would be, but we knew that we needed a car that could fit a wheelchair.  So we took our still-had-the-new-car-smell minivan and traded it in for this gently used suburban.  We were over the moon.  The perfect car showed up at a local dealership exactly at the perfect time and we were excited for our first change for Bridger.  This car, even down to the color, had been our dream car for several years and we finally had a reason (however unanticipated that reason was) to buy it.  

The wheelchair could be thrown in the back so easily along with all of our other gear for our large family.  It could even fit his wheelchair and his pushchair at the same time so I didn't have to think ahead of what mode of wheels I made need for where we were going with him.  That car has taken our family through at least 15 states.  It has heard a lot of laughter (from all of us), a lot of screaming (from Bridger) and its share of tears (from me.) It has been up to the cabin more times than I can count.  It has sat it hospital parking garages for a collective year of its life.  It has been everywhere from the narrow, clogged streets of Manhattan to the sandy roads of the Outer Banks.  It has never let us down and at 130,000 miles, only ever needed one minor repair.  It has taken hits of spilled soda, ground up french fries and dozens and dozens of vomits like a champ.  I will never forget a particular series of vomit slams it received as we were driving across Ohio.  The only place we could find that could help was a truck stop with a power washing hose with icy cold water straight from Lake Michigan.  So a nearly naked Bridger was power washed as was his side of the suburban.  Alan was equally soaked when he finished the job so he went inside the truck stop convenience store to see what he could find to use to dry himself off (we used everything we had to  dry Bridger and the car) and he came out wearing an Ohio t-shirt.  (If you ever see Alan in that Ohio t-shirt, know that there are a million memories behind it!)

The suburban represents the first change of many hundred that we have made to embrace our new life.  It was one of our "tools" - the things that help us help Bridger, and to say goodbye to our first tool was bittersweet.  I have a whole arsenal of tools now, but it doesn't take away the sting from saying goodbye to that first one.  Silly, it may sound, but as I walked away, I think it was saying, "You are welcome."

March 10, 2014

One Fish Two Fish

The most fabulous development in Bridger's world of late is his engaging in imaginative play.  He and little spunky Eliza create scenarios together every morning.  Camping, church, school. . . you name it, they pretend it.  It usually involves at least a dozen hangers from my closet, every laundry basket they can find and 6 stuffed panda bears.

Last week I walked into Bridger's room one morning when I heard him chattering to himself.  I opened his door and gave him a morning greeting, to which he replied, "I CAUGHT IT!" I asked him what he caught and he told me, "A Big Bish!" (holding his little Bristle Block stick up like a fishing pole) and then let out a huge disappointing grunt and exclaimed, "Oh no! It got away!"  I can't imagine a morning starting off with a bigger smile than that put on my face.  I changed his diaper and proceeded to get him dressed and ready for the day.  All he could say from that point forward, repeating hundreds of times over the next three days straight was, "I want to go bishing and baca wit dad." (translation: I want to go fishing and to the cabin with dad.) I wish I could record the way Bridger says it.  His voice never ceases to melt my heart.

The weather forecast screamed for a fishing and cabin weekend so we headed to our favorite trout farm (really, the best way to fish with Bridger) and to the cabin.  60 degrees on Saturday!  It felt heavenly.

Bridger knows how to cast and patiently waits for the tug at his pole and he reels it in like a champ.  After a few turns, he is excited to set aside his pole and to play with his fish in the bucket.  I don't have much feeling for fish - but I think I did for this poor fish.  After living its life peacefully in its pond, it suddenly found itself in a bucket with 6" of water with Bridger's wild hand splashing it around as he excitedly screamed at it.  This went on for an hour.  I'm sure that fish was traumatized beyond the point of recovery.

Lance, Evie and Sadie are wonderfully self-sufficient now and can bait their own hook, cast and reel them in.  Eliza is getting her lessons from dad and will soon follow suit with her siblings.  Hopefully we will "teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime."

We  settled into the cabin for the afternoon and enjoyed this window that comes each spring and fall of no bugs, no snakes and beautiful weather.  The kids would play out here for hours.  I rang the dinner bell and they came scattering from the four corners to dish up a bowl of simmering chili in the crockpot with a slab of homemade cornbread hop in the car and dash into town and enjoy some cheap and saucy Mexican food (mom needed a break too).

The following day included a family hike. The sun was trying to send some warmth - but the crisp breeze was still dominating.  Close enough, we'll take it. This terrain proved the exception to Bridger's 'all-terrain' wheelchair so Bridger's hike was on four wheels slowly driven by dad coasting next to us.  

Bridger was captivated by a little waterfall and just wanted to pause for a long time and stare at it.  The others insisted on traversing every log that lay fallen over the creek.  We made it back to the cabin with four pairs of dry sneakers.  Miracle.
Bridger sometimes knows just what our family needs - and this weekend it was "Bishing and Baca".  The best kind of cabin fever there is!

March 07, 2014

Lunch Box Love

I know we are still finding sticky spots on the table from National Pancake Day, but there is always a reason to celebrate in our home and so we move on to National Cereal Day!

"I think I want to eat cereal today" said no husband of mine, ever.  He cringes at the very thought of it for breakfast, let alone any other time of the day.  So this day must be celebrated in secret.  This day calls for a little lunch box lovin'.

I can't wait until the kids open their lunch sacks to find this! Silly, simple little noonday surprise. But do they feel love from a little bowl of their favorite cereal that they never get to have? Yes. So on we celebrate!

Those that know our family know that we celebrate these silly days all of the time - I just spare you the cheesy posts about them.  But what you might not know is the root of these celebrations.

When Bridger was born, and then shortly thereafter diagnosed, and shortly after that manifesting the severity of his symptoms, life came to a screeching halt.  We could no longer do a majority of the activities that had previously dominated our life and filled it with fun.  The exciting vacations, birthday celebrations, outings and holidays were all changed.  We were in the hospital for long periods at a time that would have otherwise been a vacation time. There were many months that Bridger didn't sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time all night long because of a horrible medication that he was on which put me in the category of barely surviving and therefore didn't have energy for creating grand birthday celebrations.  Life as I knew it was ending and I was desperate to still make it the life that my young children needed.  Feeling helpless and overwhelmed one day, I saw that it was National Cookie Day.  So while the kids were at school I managed a challenging trip to the grocery store, bought a cookie of every variety, threw up a quick banner and a few balloons I found in a drawer and my tired, depleted self welcomed them home from school to a National Cookie Day party.  From their reaction, you would have thought I had just bought them a pony.  The look in their eyes and smiles on their faces said, "Mom, this is all we need."  As the difficult weeks and months went on, I added more simple celebrations.  I would drag them around through an entire day of medical appointments for their brother with nothing but a library book to keep them busy for hours then, in between appointments, I would surprise them with a trip to Taco Bell and picnic at a park between doctor's offices and they would laugh and smile to celebrate National Taco Day. And so seven years later, our tradition -- created out of desperation, continues because of sheer corniness.

My children have learned that there is reason to celebrate the most simple accomplishments, like learning how to swallow, how to sit, how to find the breath to laugh, how to scratch a mosquito bit, and have learned that there is also reason to celebrate simple things, and today it is cereal.  There is always reason to celebrate.

Happy National Cereal Day!

March 06, 2014


As in, 

I. Am. Frozen.

The beauty of never having time to check the weather forecast is that every day is a surprise and you live on rumors and heresay.  The rumor that I had heard for today was that it was supposed to warm up.  Clearly rumor.  I ran out of the house today for a two hour assistive technology meeting today with Bridger in tow.  I didn't wear a coat because of this rumored warm up.  Anything but warm.  It is freezing.  And now, so am I.


I decided we needed to talk about warm.  If we talk of warmth surely we can wish it to reality.

So let's talk Summer.

I welcome every summer vacation.  Summer is my time to reclaim my children and work full time on all those critical elements of their lives that only can have part time attention during the school year.  I cherish that my calendar with my children is all mine and I protect it with both fists.  I won't let anything go on those pages without careful scrutiny.  We don't answer the phone very often and check out into our own oblivion of family fun.  I savor those precious mornings of slow moving pajama time.  I love the random fun and carefully planned adventures.

And then late July hits.  Then those proclamations listed above become self-affirmations I recite to myself every morning to convince myself that I can survive summer and that everyone will get through it in one piece.

Somehow, those days do pass and I am always proud to say that I survived another summer.  I know these summers that I have with all my children home are numbered -- and that the summers that they actually still like me and want to hang with me every minute of the day are even fewer.  So we seized the day and lived it up!  (lol - no pun intended, but "seized the day" - did I really just type that?  Yes, several times this summer, Bridger literally "seized the day")

So here is the photo dump of a few pics off my phone of the summer that I never blogged about because I was too busy surviving, er, uh, I mean living it.


Fishing camp. A joke, really, since my kids could teach the class. Couldn't resist a class where they could all do it together though. One stop shopping.
Final service dog interview.  Wishing and hoping for a dream come true this summer!

30 minutes until complete exhaustion.  Best money spent.

Hershey, sans Bridger, and the world's tallest cookie sandwich. Sadie face reflects that was still remembering the dude throwing up behind her on the roller coaster.

Archives and DC fun

kickin' back - cabin style

air show

his favorite place - I stopped counting at 5 visits last summer

hitting every train museum thru VA to PA and dad got to be part of our summer for a brief moment!

a first time Newseum visit for us - love Certifikid

Shhh, she doesn't know what the front looks like on those. Couldn't resist.

pretty much every day

 Eliza's choice for her mommy-daddy date night

weekly library trips -- until a patron told us how bothered and disturbed she was by Bridger's sounds.  Not a good day:(

Cookology - her favorite camp ever!

weekly moonbounces set up in our yard by our most awesome friends that needed a place to dry them out as much as we needed some random fun in our backyard
shooting his first clays

weekly visits to the place that now loves us (remember THIS? )

using 32 ounces of hand sanitizer in one day

OH, that very NON-accessible Mom-venture to Knoebel's.  My arms are still trembling from pushing Bridger's wheelchair through the gravel walkways and lifting him through the entrances and onto every ride. 

We Movie'd, Pool'd, Museum'd, Hiked, Cabin'd, Ice Creamed, Bike Tripped, Violin'd, Camped, Amusement Park'd, Zoo'd, Playgrounded, Hershey'd, Beached, Train'd, Spraygrounded, Farmed, Barbecued, Service Dog'd, Tennis'd, Fenced, Berried, Cookology'd, Art'd, Shoot'd, Playdate'd, Seashore'd, Gymnastic'd, New York'd, Partied, Go Karted, Dined, Henna'd, Wedding'd, Fished. . .**breath**breath**

After all of this summer talk, my toes are still cold. *sigh* Oh well, back to my electric blanket I go.

Think warm thoughts! spring will come spring will come spring will come spring will come spring will come spring will come. . .