Saturday, September 27, 2008

Houston...We Have A Creeper

That's right folks, Della Belle moved from Point A to Point B while standing up and moving along the furniture. The distance spanned may have been less than a foot, but this is a pretty big step developmentally. Especially for the world's laziest baby. I mean that seriously, she hates to do anything that requires effort and strength, and she would much rather lay on the ground and watch everyone else tire themselves out. This is not a good combination for her- being lazy does not help her progress. Those who have children know that your kids come to you with distinct personalities and that's just the way it is. Anyway, we bought Della some soft soled shoes so that she can practice her walking (aka I hold her under her armpits hoping she will try and take steps while she just lets her legs drag lifelessly on the ground).

We are still struggling to get services for Della. When we left California she was receiving one hour of physical therapy, one hour of occupational therapy, and we were in the process of getting approved for an hour of speech therapy as well, totaling 3 hours a week. Here in Texas we get 1 hour a month with a physical therapist and one hour a month with our case worker. Hmmmm....quite a discrepancy. We were looking into hiring an educational lawyer which is a lawyer (duh) who works with mostly children with special needs by ensuring that these children are getting the maximum amount of services that they are entitled to under state law. Allison met a woman at her son, Tistan's, school who had moved from north Texas and has a son with autism (I think). This woman recommended we hire an advocate. My first thought was "Sounds cheaper than a lawyer!" Allison gave me the name of an advocate as well as an educational lawyer who has 2 sons with autism. Thanks Allison!

Behind therapy, I feel that finding a diagnosis is probably the second most pressing issue with Della. I have been e-mailing (nagging incessantly) the Meyer Center at Texas Children's Hospital. According to their web page they "diagnose and develop management plans for children who have complex problems such as learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autistic spectrum disorders and disorders of language, behavior and attention."
Their diagnostic team consists of
  • A neuropsychologist/developmental psychologist to provide cognitive, emotional, behavioral and social-adaptive assessments.
  • A speech/language pathologist to evaluate receptive and expressive language development, articulation (speech) skills and oral motor abilities.
  • An occupational therapist to provide evaluations and treatment plans to improve children’s small muscle (fine motor) skills and activities of daily living.
  • A physical therapist to provide evaluations and treatment plans to improve children’s large muscle (gross motor) skills, including posture and locomotion.
  • A social worker to discuss family concerns, provide emotional support and identify appropriate community resources.
  • Additional consultations can be requested through Texas Children's Hospital from neurology, child psychiatry, otorlaryngology, the Learning Support Center and other disciplinarians as needed.
Sounds right up our alley! It's hard to not start feeling desperate when I don't hear back from this clinic. I know that some places in Houston are still with out power and so I am trying to be patient. If we don't get in there then there is a private diagnostic center also in Houston that we could go to. However private is another word for expensive- the initial exam is over $1,000! I hope we don't have to go that route, but how can you put a price on better understanding how to improve your child's quality of life and improving her future?

That's enough complaining for one post. Chad is convinced that Della is saying "Da-da" in reference to him, I am not so sure, but Chad is really adamant that she is. I guess only time will tell. Here are a few pictures of Della below, in this first one she is bustin' a one-hander and sporting her cherry kicks...

How do I get these off?

She also has been learning how to drink from a cup and although she is perfectly capable, she would prefer if you held the cup for her. After all, what else would you expect from the world's laziest baby?

We went swimming at a friend's house on Thursday and everytime I turned around Della would be leaning forward in her fortress of floaties and lapping up pool water like a little dog. I couldn't get her to stop. Apparently adding 2 jars of baby food and a carnation instant breakfast made with whole milk to her watery snack was just too much. Instead of taking her nap I found her playing with her partially digested food in the crib. It was everywhere. Archer walked in, exclaimed that it smelled like throw up and promptly made these faces in rapid succession. Good thing I had my camera out.
I love how accommodating restaurants, stores, and other places of businesses are to children in our area (maybe the whole state, I am not sure). We went to a restaurant called "Willies" last night and they have a patio with a huge sand box for kids to play in. We plopped the kids into the sand, sat back in the cool evening, and ate obscene amounts of onion rings. It was great.

*Stay tuned for a new post in the near future. Chad has been in Galveston all day working on a demo crew put together by the church. Should make for some interesting reading.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Local Ike Damage

We are just starting to venture out now that things are settling down after Hurricane Ike. I think we were one of the first areas to get power. There are still many people that live a few blocks away that still don't have any electricity and some have been told that it will take another week. Chad's warehouse has had no power the past 4 days, so he hasn't been able to work. He braved the store yesterday and replenished our main staples; milk, yogurt, ice cream, slim fast, goldfish crackers, and peanut M&M's. We are still not able to drink our water, but that hasn't been a huge problem since we just use bottled. Gas stations are all monitored by police officers and the lines are usually around 20 cars deep. As you can see, we are trying to conserve on fuel, but after 4 days of being cooped up we decided to venture out to a park a few miles down from us. I took pictures of some of the damage on the short drive over. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos, they were all taken with my phone. A little boy who will remain anonymous broke our regular camera and when we tried to turn it on smoke started to come out of the back end. Literally. *Sigh* Maybe Santa will bring us a new one.

Here are some pictures of the trees blown over at the park we went to...

Notice the people sitting under the broken tree, it puts the actual size of the tree into perspective...
Our neighbor's shutter was blown off in the storm and I found what I thought was theirs lying in our local park about a block away. So I picked it up and carried it in one arm, pushed the stroller with the other arm, and had Archer follow behind me. I felt pretty silly carrying a 4 foot shutter and it was made worse when a neighbor jokingly asked if I was looting. Ha ha.

This was some debris that was blown into our neighborhood, it looked like some tin roofing from some one's shed...

A sign on our porch from a subdivision miles from us...
Tonight we went out for dinner to one of the few restaurants that was open to "celebrate" making it through the storm. It was nice to get out and be in a good mood. One thing I have learned about Texans, they get stuff done and don't wait on others for anything. There are dozens of fires burning in people's yards getting rid of tree limbs and other debris left over from Ike. Nevermind the fact that trash pick-up is coming tomorrow, it's much more fun to burn it yourself!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Go home Ike, Tina ain't here!

Friday, September 12th at sunrise...

3pm - The wind started picking up. Caitlin thought that it would be a good idea to get an action shot...4pm- The outer band of the storm comes rolling in...
Sunset...8pm - We tried to put the kids to bed early planning on having them awake most of the night. Didn't work out.

9pm - Caitlin sent me to make pina coladas (with 7 Up) but we were out of the frozen mix. The nightmare begins.

10pm - We unplugged everything in the house including the washer and dryer and went to bed. I purposely left the dishwasher going with the hope that it would explode. Worse dishwasher ever.

Saturday, Sept 13th

3am - The power goes out. Caitlin turned on her phone to see where the storm was...

The most recent radar image was already almost an hour old. According to the above picture, the eye was just coming ashore in Galveston. We are located in the strip of blue at 9 o'clock. There's a freeway that makes a loop around Houston (see it?). We live just a few exits off the north-west corner of the loop.

The storm was pretty bad. The wind was really hitting us hard from the north with heavy heavy rain. Della's room is on that side of the house so Caitlin and I went in to see how bad it was. We were surprised that the neighbor's hurricane party was still going strong (beer+powerful flashlights=hurricane party).

Caitlin had been making ice all day so we went down stairs and filled a cooler with perishables. The north-facing wall downstairs is mostly glass, so we were pretty nervous the entire time and tried to make it quick. It really sounded as if the windows were going to blow out.

We went back to our bedroom and I commented to Caitlin, "Yeah sure, this is a pretty bad storm but it's not as bad as I imagined it was going to be"

4am - Things got worse then I imagined it would be. We later learned that the winds in our area reached the high 80 mph with gusts exceeding 110 mph. The gusts would shake the entire house. Now we were even more worried that the windows would blow out. We gathered up the kids and put them in our room which is located on the other side of the house. When I went in to get Archer I had this conversation:
Me: (whispering)"Archer, are you awake?"
Archer: "Yes Daddy. Daddy, did you and Mommy turn on the bathtub right now?"
Me: "No we didn't"
Archer: "Daddy, is that loud noise coming from outside?"
Me: "Yes it is. The big storm is here now and Mommy and I want you to come in our bed."
Archer: "Daddy, this is not a normal day."
How right he was.

4am-6am - We did our best to sleep. We had both the kids in our bed and it was very hot because the power was off taking the A/C with it. The wind and rain were very loud. Flashes of white light that faded to blue would come through the blinds with no sound of thunder. We couldn't tell if there was no thunder or if the thunder could just not be heard over the wind. Gusts of wind would rock the house and I could hear the framing pulling and creaking. There were a couple of longer gusts and at the end of one I said to Caitlin that if the winds sustained that speed we'll have to go into the laundry room. It was pretty scary.

6am - We check satellite image again...
It looked like the worst of the storm was passing us. The winds, while still strong, seemed to be (slightly) slowing down. Tired of laying in bed with kids we got up and went down stairs to listen to radio reports. There was some water in the kitchen, I can't say it was flooded, but it was quite a puddle. The only theory that we could come up with was that the wind was blowing so hard (80 mph with 110 mph gusts) that it forced the rainwater underneath the weather stripping.

Archer and I opened the front door to have a look. There was a house sign from the neighboring development next to our door. The front mat was also folded over. I reached down to unfold it and a mouse jumped out. Sorry little mouse, we wrecked your hiding spot.

We had no water pressure, this means that no water is coming out of the faucet and we can't flush the toilet. That wasn't a big deal until we all had to use the bathroom. Radio reports said that either a pump was down or there was a break in the main line. We were told not to drink the water without boiling it.

7am-9am - When Caitlin turned on her phone there was a message from the alarm company saying the alarm had been set off at work. I knew that it was probably just the storm but not wanting to risk being looted, I decided to venture out and have a look. The amount of damage was incredible. The roads were nearly covered in debris. Pieces of fence, shingles, I even saw a aluminum awning that was in someone's back yard laying in the middle of our park. There were also trees down everywhere. Some of the trees were so big I had to cross the median just to get by. There were also a few broken power lines that were dangling down over the road. I was surprised at just how many people were out driving, and in very small cars no less. The office turned out to be fine. Just a little flooding that won't hurt anything.

10am - Archer was getting antsy so we bundled him up and let him run around in the storm. I was a little nervous to let him do it. I kept thinking that a strong gust could carry him away. There wasn't any lighting so I let him go for a few minutes...
4pm - We woke up from our nap to the sound of the toilets filling with water again. The water was back on! By the time we got downstairs, the power had been restored as well. Yes! I had promised Archer that if he had a good nap, he could go back outside to play. He was disappointed that the heavy wind and rain were now gone, but playing in the mud more than made up for it...

They say that this was a 50 if not a 100-year storm. Regardless, as Caitlin put it, we're not doing this again. If there's another hurricane, we're taking a vacation.

Here is Archer making a "yarn wig" when the power was out...

It started to get very hot a stuffy in the house with no A/C. So whenever there was a lull in the wind, we would crack open the windows. Here is Della enjoying some fresh air...

Very humid= very curly...

About an hour ago I looked up and this guy was crawling above the back door almost to the ceiling. As Caitlin said "I don't even want to know how that got there."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pray for Mojo

We might be in trouble. We're on the boarder of Extreme and Catastrophic. I made a run to the grocery store early this morning and it was a madhouse. I grabbed up the last of the water and a few remaining loaves of bread. Caitlin had me get some baby food and by the time I got in line the remaining water was nearly gone. Here I was with 20 gallons in my cart and a crowd of desperate people looking for water. Time to jam.

After work everything was closed down. While stopped at a red light I noticed that a gas station had wrapped up all their pumps with hurricane fencing. "So that's why they call that hurricane fencing" I thought.

We're a little nervous, however, I was listening to the news on the ride home and they were covering a story about a couple of guys riding wave runners out in the surge off of Galveston. They're getting 50' waves coming over the concrete storm wall flooding Galveston and these guys are doing extreme sports. As crazy as that sounds, it made me feel a little better. I'm excited to see the hurricane up close but I'll be doing it from the safety of my bedroom.

By the way, our mobile phones aren't working very well. If you need to contact us, try email. If the power is out for more the 48 hours, we might jet to Austin.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day 5 - Getting better maybe

In my last picture I looked too sad. So this time, I shaved and tried to smile. Look how happy I am to have a jacked up eye! Yippy for black eyes and stitches!
Caitlin did some wheeling and dealing with the Walgreens nurse who does the flu shots. She's going to take out my stitches for cash. Yeah, that's my kind of deal. Really I would rather just have Caitlin take them out here at home. What's the big deal anyway? Snip and tug right? But I guess she's worried about infection or something. I see her point, it is my face we're talking about here.
Hurricane note- Church canceled!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

No, I wasn't in a fight.

There was a bobcat. It came out of the night and I had to fight it. But what I didn't know is, the bobcat was owned by a Yeti. It was the Yeti that gave me the shiner.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Bookshelf of Pain (Chad's title)

This is Caitlin writing, I was too lazy sign out of Chad's account. Our Fullerton house had lots of bookshelf space. So when we moved here to Houston, picking up some bookshelves was pretty high on the list. What one might not realize is, without some where to put your stuff, you can't very well unpack it. So we have boxes and boxes (and more boxes) of books hanging out in different corners of our house. We purchased some shelves from Ikea within a week of moving here but we found ourselves trying to "make it work". In the end, we weren't overly happy with them. So after reading an article on bookshelves in Popular Science, Chad decided to try his hand at some carpentry. He was going to start downstairs but I thought it would be better to work out the bugs upstairs in the loft first.

So this is what we (Chad) started with. Two walls, one with a window and the other with a closet. He started with some demo work and tore out the closet and cleaned up the drywall. Then he put in some can lights to illuminate the shelves. This was a big deal because it was his first attempt at electrical work. Things went without a hitch and the lights are beautiful. I knew he could do it! We then went and bought paint and came home with the wrong color (anyone want 2 gallons of Baehr paint in "loveable"?). That was soon taken care of and then Chad started on the shelves.

I was in California last week visiting my family and I will post more about that later. So Chad did most of this work while I was away with the kids. Yesterday I turned on my phone after landing here in Houston and I had a text message that read "Had to go to the emergency room. Busted my head open. Need stitches. Sorry, I meant to have everything cleaned up and nice but didn't work out that way." Then I got this picture:

So Chad has 9 or 10 stitches in hie eyebrow and plenty more underneath. He was using his drill trying to do something difficult while he was in a hurry. In fact he thought to himself "I really shouldn't be doing this. This is really stupid." Long story short he was putting all his strength into the drill and something gave and the battery pack jerked back and hit him in the face splitting the skin right open. Ouch. Good thing our health insurance started last Monday! In spite of it all, look what he made!

This is the wall with the closet...

And he even brought out the windowsill to make a cozy window seat...

I will take a picture of Chad's stitches later, just take my word that it is gnarly-looking. I have ordered him to take a break for a week although I am anxious to put our stuff away. So you will all have to wait to see the finished product. I know you are anxiously checking our blog to see how things turn out. For now, Chad will be busy healing.