01 January 2017

Our Christmas

Our little family had a really great Christmas.  A few weeks ago, we took the kids to travel the Polar Express for the first time, pajamas and all.  It was a lot of fun.

The kids loved riding a train and getting to "visit the North Pole."  Oliver, who is 9 years old, is becoming increasingly cautious about the magic of Santa but was still this year very open to enjoying things like this.  Brian and I recognize magical experiences in childhood happen for such a short period so we really enjoyed taking the children on the Polar Express. Plus, it's always fun to pretend you are a character in a book!

Each of the children were given a Polar Express golden ticket in which the Train Conductor punched a hole and wished us a safe trip.  While on the train, we were entertained by dancing men and women in white uniforms who served us hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies.  Then, we read the book at the heart of it all: The Polar Express. Shortly after we arrived at "the North Pole" and Santa came aboard and gave each of the children their very own silver bell.  (It was dark by that point so I don't have a good picture.)

Thankfully, I was able to capture a better picture of the kids with Santa a bit later.

Avonlea and Kelcie, her ballet teacher
Beyond visiting Santa Claus, December brought us lots of fun celebrations...including Avonlea's first ballet recital, which she loved.  I was hesitant to put Avonlea, who had just turned 3, in dance class in September.  As much as I wanted for her to enjoy ballet, our family's time is so limited due to Bennett's treatments, appointments and needs that I didn't know how we'd do it.  But I learned the classes were provided at the school during the school day so it doesn't add one more thing for our family to have to do. Then I wondered if Avonlea would enjoy it and whether or not it'd be worth paying for.  Sensing my hesitation, the sweet owner of the Waco Ballet, Sara, who knows Bennett's story reassured me she wanted Avonlea to be a part of the class and would do whatever she could to make it work for us.  I am so glad she did because Avonlea has absolutely loved it.  I couldn't be any more more thankful for Sara and Kelcie giving us such a fun opportunity to see our little one shine on stage.

 Oliver had a stage of his own at his school's Biography Fair a few days before the Christmas break.  Each of the third graders were asked to choose someone on which to write a biography report and do a presentation.  Oliver chose composer John Williams who is known for his work on Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, Jaws and much more (including writing the Olympics theme song - who knew?!). Oliver did a great job presenting to his peers, parents and teachers.  The children were asked to dress up as their character but Oliver freaked out when I told him we needed to make him look grey-haired and bald.  So, he dressed up as John Williams as a young man instead - ha!

Oliver Christmas, Brian and I took the kids up for a week to visit Brian's parents in Missouri.  We had a wonderful time despite the 3+ stitches Brian had to get at Urgent Care shortly after this picture when he accidentally ran into a pole at the Incredible Pizza Company.

As if getting stitches wasn't enough excitement, things really got real when Bennett's AffloVest stopped working shortly after arriving in Missouri the day before Christmas Eve.  (Apparently there is a known defect in our model but no one had told us.)  

Thankfully, we were able to do some hand percussion lung therapy but beyond it being a lot of work, our not being used to doing it brought us a lot of anxiety.  Were we doing it well enough?  Were we getting all of his lungs, hitting all of the right places?  Bennett is a skinny kid so it's easy to cause him to be sore, which was worrisome to us.  Thankfully, Brian spent much time on the phone trying to find ways to fix our Vest (which was only received last year) or get a new Vest.

At one point, someone tried to rent us a Vest from a local medical durable equipment company but that fell through because they didn't have one small enough for Bennett.  I was glad since "borrowing" equipment that might have been exposed to those with respiratory infections is always anxiety-producing due to infection control.  We were fully prepared we might have to wait until after Christmas to receive a new Vest.

But, lo and behold, on Christmas Eve, just minutes after I had finished giving Bennett his morning CPT by hand, a box showed up at the door.  It was our AffloVest that had been overnighted to us.  I was so happy and filled with thankfulness I cried.  It took several people working overtime to make this Christmas miracle happen.  We made sure to contact each person to let them know their time away from their family to help ours was immensely appreciated.  Families with children with special needs feel so vulnerable at times like these.  It means a lot when people help, even when they don't have to.

Thankful for magical memories, tiny ballet feet, the music of John Williams, extended family we love, stitches for a noggin that got knocked and new Vest this Christmas,
(p.s. Happy New Year!)

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