Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Under the stars at Brazos Bend State Park

We went to Brazos Bend State Park on October 17 for Thomas's work party.  This state park is a little less than an hour away from Houston and is know for the alligators and the observatory.  We fortunately didn't see any alligators, but we did get to see the observatory and gaze at the billions of twinkling stars.  Living in Houston its hard to see all the beautiful stars due to the bright city lights, but at this park the stars were stunning.  I, of course took my camera and tripod and took some pictures of the stars.  In fact I had been wanting for a while to take pictures of the stars.  I just needed to get away from the big city.  This was the perfect opportunity.

Love the reflection off the pond
In this pic you can see some of the milky way

Billions of stars

I did take some pictures of the girls before the sun set:


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September Happenings

I can't believe that September has come and gone!  It went by too fast.  Some things happened during the month of September and of course I didn't get to post them as they happened so here is the low down of our September happenings.

September 13: Houston Dynamo Game - parents night out!  We had the opportunity through the Lighthouse of Houston to go to a Houston Dynamo Game (Houston's soccer team) while all three girls were being watched by staff at the Lighthouse of Houston.  The girls enjoyed playing and swimming while we enjoyed some time together.  

September 16: Rachel had an appointment with a new GI doctor.  She has not seen a GI doctor in quite a while so I thought it was time for a check up.  The doctor recommended to increase Rachel's formula feeds since her rate of weight gain has decreased recently and the total volume of her feeds that she was getting per day was low for her age.  He increased her feeds one ounce per feeding so she is now getting 41 oz per day.  We will increase more if her rate of weight gain is still not where he wants it.

September 21: Rachel was admitted to the hospital.  The day before she went to the hospital she was not feeling good.  She had a fever, was not tolerating her feeds and was in pain.  The next day (the 21st) she was doing worse.  Her neck seemed to be bothering her and it hurt her to move it.  Immediately I thought she might have meningitis.  It scared me.  I called her pediatrician's office and they advised to take her to the ER (Texas Children's hospital).  Once we got to the ER they checked her over and ruled out meningitis.  She had a CT scan of her neck and they found that the lymph nodes in her neck were swollen and that was the cause of her stiff painful neck.  Also Rachel's heart rate was high and they wanted to keep an eye on her so we had to stay overnight in the hospital.  She did get  IV antibiotics and ibuprofen round the clock.  Also her lab work indicated an infection.  Rachel ended up having to stay 2 nights at the hospital.  She is all better and feeling well now.  We still don't know exactly what was the cause of the infection, but we are so glad Rachel is all well now.

Rachel in the ER

Getting the CT scan

Going home (Sept 23rd)

September 22:  Thomas's birthday!  Unfortunately spent his birthday at the hospital with Rachel and I.  His brother and two of his friends were so nice and brought us lunch at the hospital.

Daddy with Rachel on his birthday

September 25:  Haley had her yearly visit to the NOVA clinic at the University of Houston eye institute.  Yearly she is evaluated at this clinic to test her vision and get as best of an understanding as possible of how much she sees.  Her vision is 20/710 with her glasses on.  She can see objects as small as 2 inches in size as well as high contrast items.  We are blessed with the amount of vision Haley does have and grateful for the doctors at the NOVA clinic for getting a good estimate of Haley's vision.  

September 26:  I had the opportunity to go to a day long photography seminar.  It was nice to spend the day learning more about photography.  I learned some new things that I look forward to trying out with my camera.

September 29:  My Birthday!  Another year older :( enough said.  I did have a good day, but it's no fun getting older.  Thomas, I and Kayla went out to lunch at Jason's Deli.  Kayla finally had her very first ice cream cone.  She loved it!  Also I got my yearly cookie cake from the Great American Cookie Company and Thomas was so sweet and bought me some beautiful roses.  I love roses!  I had a nice birthday.

Close up of the roses.  So pretty!

Kayla loving her first ice cream cone

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Trampoline

We got the trampoline put up the last week of August.  The girls have been enjoying it since.  They love it!  Our backyard is small and therefore the trampoline takes up most of the yard, but this will be a fun activity for them for years to come.  Now just waiting for a a little cooler weather so that they can spend more time jumping on it and not melt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Day of Kindergarten!!!

Rachel and Haley had their first day of Kindergarten Monday August 25, 2014.  I can't believe they are already in Kindergarten!  It's so different to have them at school longer.  They are going to Ridge Creek Elementary Monday-Friday 8 am - 1:50 pm.  They ride the bus which they really enjoy.  They are such big girls!  On their first day they got to know their new teacher, Ms. Marcia Vanhorn.  Rachel and Haley are in a Special Education/Life Skills class.  They are the only kids in this class due to the large number of kids in the other Life Skills class the school has.  Rachel and Haley will be able to have more one on one attention in this class of their own. They will get to interact with the students in the other Life Skills class.  The teacher really believes in interaction with other students and doesn't want to isolate the girls just because they are in a class by themselves.  All the special education teachers at the school work together as a team.  They had a good first day of Kindergarten and I hope for a good school year!


Waiting for the bus together
Daddy helping the girls get on the bus
Rachel and Haley in their classroom

Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Haircuts!

It was time!  We finally got the girls their first professional haircuts.  They needed it!  Rachel and Haley have had their first at home haircuts back in 2012 by Grandma Stansel and I.  We only cut a small amount from the back of their hair.  So it was nice to get a good professional cut this time around.  They really only got the backs of their hair cut since it was getting so long.  They all had mullets!
This was also Kayla's very first haircut.  She loved it!  I thought for sure she would be scared, but not at all.  Rachel was scared.  She cried.  Haley was scared too, but she got through it well.  Haley gets scared in new and unfamiliar situations.  

Of course I took my big camera to the hair place.  I'm sure they thought I was an overzealous mom taking pictures, but I can't help it.  Taking pictures is an enjoyable way of capturing special moments like these.  I want to remember moments like this for years to come.

Rachel getting her hair cut.  She had to be held by a friend of mine to allow her hair to get cut. 
This after she was done getting her hair cut.  She was not happy.
Haley sitting so well for her hair cut

Haley after her hair was cut
Kayla getting her hair cut
Kayla after her hair was cut

Its kind of hard to see a big difference in their hair from these pictures since only the back of their hair was cut.  I took more pictures the day after their haircuts to try to capture their new looks.


Thursday, August 21, 2014


The girls love jumping on trampolines!  We found out that there was a place called Sky High Sports (trampoline place) here in Houston that offers a discount to children with special needs every first Tuesday of the month.  We jumped at the opportunity to go since the girls love jumping on trampolines.  This trampoline place was huge!  The place was covered (floors and walls) in trampolines!  The girls had a great time as well as Thomas and I.  We had so much fun that we finally decided to go ahead and buy the girls a trampoline for their birthday.  Yes this is a late birthday gift, but it took some convincing to get me to agree to it.  I really didn't want to see a big trampoline outside my back window everyday, but its for the girls.  I will get used to it.  We haven't put the trampoline up yet, but that will be happening soon and I will post pictures for sure when they finally get to jump on it.

Thomas caught this pic of me.  Too funny!
Thomas doing a back flip.  What a show off :)
Haley and Kayla

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rachel and Haley 5 year old update and stats

My miracle little girls are 5 years old!!!  Can't believe how the time has flown by.  I still remember the day they were born.  That day was bittersweet and full of uncertainty, but the Lord blessed us and allowed us to raise Rachel and Haley.  Yes my girls have disabilities due to their extreme prematurity, but they lived and they are meant to be here with us today.  They are making progress, but their progress is slow.  For as early as they were born (22 weeks, 6 days), they are doing well.  These little girls are special and melt the hearts of everyone they meet.

Rachel and Haley

Rachel and Haley

Haley and Rachel


Stats: 38 lbs (38% ile)
          3 ft, 7.5 inches (72%)
          BMI: 14.12 kg/m2 (17%)

Rachel is tall and thin.  She is growing so fast!  She is right on target for the size of a 5 year old.  She is just how I was when I was a kid - tall and skinny.  Rachel is doing well with her cochlear implant.  She likes wearing it and will even go get it when its not on telling me to help her put it on.  That tells me that she is hearing and that she likes the sounds she is hearing.  She is still not talking and we still don't know when she will.  Rachel continues to get speech therapy as well as occupational therapy and physical therapy.  Rachel is still learning sign language and is doing well at using signs to tell us what she wants.  Her speech therapist is impressed at how she communicates and how much progress she has made since getting the cochlear implant.  Rachel likes routine and schedules.  She was doing so well at school with doing her everyday schedule and routine.  She knew exactly what to do and what was expected of her at school.  I hated to see school end since Rachel loved it so much!  Rachel is still not eating by mouth or better yet she is still not swallowing much.  She likes putting food (especially bread) in her mouth and chewing it, but she will just spit it out instead of swallowing it.  We think she is afraid to swallow because sometimes when she does swallow she gags and I think that scares her.  Sometimes she will swallow some water or  liquids, but overall not much at all.  Rachel gets her nutrition through her g-button.  I wish there was a good feeding program here in Houston, but unfortunately there is not.  Rachel is still not using the potty.  We have her sit on the potty, but she just doesn't understand how to use it.  She does sign to us sometimes when she has a dirty diaper.  That is progress and I will take it!  I know it will take Rachel more time than typical kids to get the hang of it, but I'm sure she will get it one day.  Rachel used to be our good sleeper, but recently she has been getting up in the middle of the night and not wanting to stay in her bed and go back to sleep.  We have tried several things to help her, but so far they are not working.  I hope this is just a phase and she will out grow it soon!  We are exhausted!  Rachel is a very active kid and just doesn't stop.  She still likes to get into things a lot and still seems to be like a 2 year old developmentally sometimes.  She loves playing on the iPad and likes watching cartoons on Disney Junior.  Rachel loves attention and she needs lots of one on one.  Rachel is a beautiful little girl and she is our challenge.  She is helping me to learn the things I have yet to master.  


Stats: 29 lbs (0%)
          3 ft, 0.5 inches (0%)
          BMI: 15.31 kg/m2 (55%)

Haley is short and skinny.  She is the size of a 3 year old, but she is proportional.  She has grown, but again its slow and she will always be small.  Haley is doing as well as can be with her vision.  She saw her retinal specialist a month ago and all looks the same.  Her doctor thinks its remarkable how she has any vision when he looks into her right eye.  She has lots of scar tissue and not much retina in her right eye, but Haley does have some vision and she gets around fairly well.  What a miracle and a blessing!  We are grateful.  Haley is still not talking yet either.  She does seem to understand what we are saying and when I ask her to do certain things, she will do them so we know she is hearing and understanding some.  She just doesn't know how to get words out.  I do hope that she will be able to talk one day as well.  She is getting speech, occupational and physical therapy as well.  Haley also loved school and I know she is looking forward to getting back to school the end of August.  She loves to be with people and stay busy doing something.  Haley was also doing well at school with her routine and schedule.  She had learned what was next and had a preference for what she liked to do and not liked to do.  Haley is a sweet girl, but when she doesn't want to do something she will let you know.  Haley loves to give hugs and be held.  She still goes up to just about anybody and will raise her arms to indicate she wants to be picked up and held.  Its hard for anyone to resist not picking her up.  Haley likes eating and is doing good with it, but she is very picky and prefers only junk foods (crackers, chips, cookies, sweets, cereals, etc).  Her diet is limited to a small number of items that she will eat.  Her occupational therapist brings new things for her to try and sometimes she will eat it and sometimes not.  This is typical behavior of some kids, but is also typical of kids who are blind/very low vision.  Haley will smell her food very well before she will try it.  She is just uncertain about foods since she can't see them very well.  Haley is our good sleeper and we are so grateful for that.  She will sleep a good 11 hours at night with no problems.  Haley has not learned to use the potty either and I anticipate it taking her a long time to learn to use the potty.  Haley is our noise maker.  She likes to bang toys to hear them.  She has her favorite toys she likes to bang and she searches for them in the toy bins.  She always finds them!  Haley is our sweet, sensitive little girl.  She has a special spirit about her. 


Here's a little information about school coming up.  They will start school on August 25th.  They will be in the same class at a new school.  They will go to school from 8 am to 1:50 pm.  They will be in a special education / life skills Kindergarten class.  I know they will like it! 

Rachel and Haley