Thursday, April 28, 2016

Happy 7th Birthday, Juli Rose...

 This girl turns 7 today.  

It has been a roller coaster of a year! It began with the anxiety of starting 1st grade (she chewed her fingers until they bled- we discovered the benefits of chewelry for children with anxiety).  We knew she would love 1st grade, because she got the teacher we prayed she would get, and her confidence has soared in ways we hoped it would.  Her speech has improved and her communication has gotten better as well.  Most people who meet her don't know she tested and falls on the spectrum, and while the sensory processing issue still comes into play we are better equipped to handle it now.

She loves going to OT.  At the start of the school year she got a new therapist at the place we go to outside of the school day.  Ms. Stephanie.  Ms. Stephanie works her hard, but lets her have fun too.  When I showed her the video clip of Juli riding the tiny bike with no training wheels on Monday, she had tears in her eyes.  She knows how hard of a skill it was for Juli to master, and how hard Juli will have to work to transition to a bigger bike.  With Developmental Coordination Disorder, there isn't a set standard of what you will and won't be able to do, but Juli is determined to do it all.  She also got to meet some special friends in November who were doing the Tower Climb with us, the Watsons.  Juli loves Ms. Shari and Mr. George so very much and she bonded very closely with Mr. George who also has to do OT due to a spinal cord injury.


She gave us a scare in February, when I got the phone call at work that no parent wants to receive: "We are taking Juli by ambulance to the hospital. She had a seizure and was unresponsive in the classroom."  I drove like a crazy lady and of course, hit every red light on the way to the hospital.  She doesn't remember much from that day, but her principal rode in the ambulance with her, and 2 days later both her teacher and her special ed teacher came to the house to make sure she was okay- she scared them pretty badly too.

She loves to jump and sing.  Most days you can find her on the trampoline jumping and singing to all sorts of songs that she puts on.  But if she catches you recording her, she will give you the stink eye!  She also loves to sing in the shower...

video

Happy Birthday, Punkin Horsie, we love you so very much!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

My Baby Boy Turns 9 Today...

Everyone tells you not to blink.  That time goes by so quickly.  I didn't believe them at first, but I do now.  Noah turns 9 years old today.  It was just yesterday that I held him in my arms and we rocked in the rocking chair and listened to Plumb's song, "In My Arms".  Now, my baby boy almost comes up to my shoulder, and while he still snuggles in my lap, I can't just swaddle him and hold him like I did when he was a baby.

There is so much I want to write about you, Noah, but you always tell me that it's embarrassing, so I will keep it short and sweet, with only 10 things.

10.  I love that you love to create. Right now you obsessed with the sinking of the Titanic and took it upon yourself to build yourself a Lego version of the Titanic.  You also love to build and you spent the entire day building your K'Nex Ferris Wheel.

9. I love that you love to read.  You constantly have your nose in a book, and you carry 2-3 books with you everywhere you go, in case you finish one or get bored reading one of them.  Your favorites include Harry Potter (but you can only read up to number 3, even though you want to read farther), the Zombie Chronicles, Big Nate, Humphrey, the 13 story treehouse series and the Jedi Academy.

8. You love all things Harry Potter, just like your mom.  We can talk about Harry Potter all day long and never get tired of it.  I can't wait until we go to Universal Studios and get to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter together.

7. Besides Harry Potter, Star Wars is your favorite.  You are a true Jedi.  You were so excited to get to miss the half day before Christmas break to go and see star wars with your dad and your cousins.  In fact, you were so excited after the movie, that you even blurted out about Han Solo as soon as you saw me.



6. You love to play guitar.  You are doing such a great job with your lessons, and were so excited when your teacher taught you part of the theme to Harry Potter as well as Darth Vader's march.  You aren't a fan of practicing every day, but if you could practice every other day you would be a happy camper.

5. You are a wonderful swimmer.  You work so hard to perfect your dives.  You have an amazing backstroke, you leave everyone in the dust even though you are one of the shortest kids in your level.

4. You love your sister and are a good big brother.  As soon as you got to the hospital the day of her seizure, you ran up to her and held her hand while she laid on the bed.  You kept trying to make her laugh while she was miserable and you made sure to bring home her valentine's because she missed her valentine's day party at school.

3. You love your cousins.  You guys have a really close relationship and it's fun to see you all play together.  It's even funnier to see you guys try to talk to each other on the phone or over the app on the kindle.

2. You love your grandparents and great-grandmothers.  You enjoy sending your grandparents text messages and talking to them on the phone.  You enjoyed going to Florida with them last summer and doing the Disney experience with both sets of grandparents.


1. You have the best heart of any kid around.  You desire to help everyone and if you could, you would volunteer at Feed My Starving Children every single week.  It makes your heart hurt to know that there are kids who go hungry in the world.  You love going to SouthField Big Kids.  You don't like when you have to miss going because someone is sick or you are sick.  You love to learn about Jesus and it shows in your actions.

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy, we love you so very much!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

SkyRise Chicago 2015...

Things have been so busy since I did the SkyRise Chicago climb, but I wanted to share with everyone about the experience.  It was such a humbling experience for me and I had many emotions to process through before the climb and afterwards.

A few weeks before the climb, I was contacted by the PR woman in charge of creating buzz for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.  She wanted to share mine and Juli's story with the media.  I was a bit surprised, because if you know anything about the RIC, they are the nations #1 rehab hospital for people who have been in bad accidents, had strokes, amputees, paralysis, multiple sclerosis, and the list goes on.  When we go for Juli's appointments, I am always humbled by the patients we see and meet, it really puts Juli's issues into perspective.  We emailed back and forth, while I answered questions about Juli, her doctor, and myself.  As we got closer to the climb, I did a phone interview with her, and she let us know that we would be paired up with a media personality the day of the climb so that they could get to know a patient before they climbed (there was a challenge that went out to the media, which included a trophy to the personality who climbed the fastest).  The Friday before the climb the RIC released a statement about the climb and some of the people who were climbing, we were included.
Early morning arrival
The day of the climb, we were instructed to arrive at 8 AM to meet up with our media personality.  Juli and I were assigned Jason Thomas of WXRT-FM.  He was a nice man, told me he had ridden his bike to the Willis Tower that morning as his "warm up".  He shared with me about his little one at home and how much he likes being a dad.  We talked for a little while longer, and then it was time to do "pictures with all the media" and then they were off on their climb.  Jason ended up winning the challenge, climbing to the top in under 18 minutes (crazy!).
Doing "press"

She had to do a "selfie" for her webpage- she's on WGN Radio
I didn't climb until 9:30.  I failed to mention that that morning I had woken up with a terrible head cold and was extremely stuffed up.  I hoped my nose spray would keep my nose clear until I got to the top, but by the time I was close to the stairway opening, I knew that was a pipe dream, lol.  I started the climb, slow and steady.  It was 103 flights, so I knew enough to not run up the stairs.  There were a ton of people on the stairs which made it difficult to pass the slower climbers.  As I finished the 2nd floor, I passed a man who was being helped up the stairs with a "gait belt" and had an entire team of people behind him.  Each step for him was a struggle but he was determined.  I told him he was doing a great job as I passed him, and he thanked me and asked me who Juli was (I was wearing a shirt I had made for Juli).  I told him she was my daughter and a patient at the RIC.  He wished me well and I wished him well and continued to climb.  By the time I reached the 33rd floor, my nose was blocked up totally and I began to question how smart I was to do this with a head cold.  Then I passed a woman who was climbing with an implant in her leg that was stimulating her leg muscle to work.  We encouraged each other and I continued to climb.  By the time I got to the 95th floor, I was sweaty, breathless and struggling.  They had volunteers on each floor encouraging us, so I picked up my pace.  My goal had been to climb in under 45 minutes, but I crossed the line at 48 minutes.  I think if I had been healthy I would have been able to make my goal.

The back of my t-shirt
Since Juli and I had "done press", Ryan, Noah and Juli were given VIP status and allowed to meet me at the top.  Noah and Juli were given finisher medals, and a representative from the RIC recognized us from the morning press shoot and ushered us to one of the ledges to take our picture as a family.  One of the best feelings in the world was receiving my finisher medal from an RIC patient at the top and hearing Juli tell me how proud she was of me.

Trying not to look too tired or sick
Taken by the photographer for the RIC
Thank you to everyone who supported our family for this climb.  To those of you who donated, I know that the RIC will be helping more families by building a new facility.  They have helped Juli so much in the 5 years we have been going there.

In my next post, I will tell you about George Watson and the amazing Watson family that stayed with us for the climb.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

2 Weeks Away...

After work on Friday, I got the mail.  There was a package sitting on our porch addressed to me.  I opened it...


It's starting to get real, folks.  2 weeks from today, I will be standing on the sky deck of the Sears Tower (sorry, I can't call it the Willis Tower).  All of that time running the stairs will have hopefully paid off and I will be at the top.

Why do I climb?  I climb for Juli! I climb to support the amazing doctors at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.


Thank you to all who have supported the 2 of us as we raised money for the climb. I am humbled by all of the love and support we have received.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Remember to Thank a Police Officer...

Most of us don't realize that when a police officer gets up in the morning, kisses their family goodbye, and walks out the door, that they might not come home that night.  Tuesday was just a regular day for me, until I checked my phone when I got home from school.  I had a bunch of text messages from friends who still live where I grew up.  The ones from the morning said- a police officer has been shot in Fox Lake.  I scrolled through message after message, and the last one- remember the cop who always came into Blockbuster to check on us?  My stomach dropped.

I met Lt. Gliniewicz when I was 18 years old.  Blockbuster Video had just opened in Fox Lake, IL, and several of my friends and I had gotten jobs there while we went to community college.  It was nice and convenient since I lived in Pistakee Highlands, it was maybe a 10 minute drive if you hit the stoplights.  I met Joe on my second day of work.  He was on duty at the time, and he made sure to tell all of us if we ever felt like we weren't safe, to call the police department.  At 18 years old, you think you are invincible, but we all told him that we would call.  He became a regular at our video store.  He would come in when he was on duty or off duty, and he always made sure our store was safe. When his sons were born, he told us all about them, showed us pictures of them and would show them off when he and his wife came into the store.

Eventually, we were made assistant managers, which meant we could open or close the store. Blockbuster closed at midnight, but once we closed there was always things we had to do before we could leave the store and sometimes we wouldn't get out of there until almost 1 in the morning, especially if the money didn't balance.  If Lt. Gliniewicz was on duty, he would come in close to midnight, check the store, and he would stay in his patrol car in the parking lot until we were safely to our cars.

When he found out I had been assaulted by another employee in the parking lot, the next time I was working, he came to me and asked me why I didn't call.  I told him I was ashamed and I didn't want people to know what happened, plus the guy had stopped and I had gotten away.  He told me that I shouldn't be ashamed, and asked me if I wanted him to put the fear of God into the man.  I told him my dad had already taken care of that.  After that incident, anytime I was closing and he was on duty, his car was in the parking lot and he always got me to my car.

My biggest regret is that I never I told him how much I appreciated him for keeping us safe.  Yes, I thanked him for walking me to my car after the attack, but I never told him that I always knew I was safe when he was on duty.  I hope he knew that it meant a lot to us.

No one likes to be pulled over or given a ticket, but the next time you see a police officer, remember to thank them for what they do for us every day.  Cops lives matter.  His life mattered.




Thursday, July 30, 2015

I Climb For Juli...

Those who know me, know that my daughter, Juliana, has faced some difficulties in her 6 years with us.  They started at birth with her VSD heart defect, then she refused to eat, followed with her developmental delay.  She has seen an array of specialists, all of whom have helped us in different ways.  The one I am going to highlight in this post is Dr. Gaebler at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC).

We were referred to Dr. Gaebler by Juli's GI doctor when Juli was about a year old.  Juli had noticeable weakness on her left side and her GI doctor was curious if that had any impact on why Juli didn't like to eat.  Our visits over the past 5 years have never given us insight into why Juli doesn't like to eat, but they have taken us down a different path.  I learned new lingo: AFO and UCB (the different braces/orthotics that Juli wears).
Juli's old AFO's, she has graduated to UCB's now 
We had even more tests done and were referred to different specialists from there.  Finally, this year, Dr. Gaebler was the first doctor who gave us names/diagnoses for what is going on with Juli and from there, doors continued to open.

Juli was diagnosed with Developmental Coordination Disorder along with Sensory Processing Disorder by Dr. Gaebler.  From there, our Developmental Pediatrician tested Juli and she tested high for anxiety (which broke my heart to hear that my 6 year old has anxiety, but it explained so much) and inattentive ADHD.  She will never outgrow Developmental Coordination Disorder and it will make learning difficult for her.  To help with this, we have added Occupational Therapy outside of the school (she already receives it during school). With the Sensory Processing Disorder, she is learning to handle it in her OT sessions.  Her screaming episodes where she becomes overwhelmed and doesn't know how to process are decreasing, although now she will "shut down" in order to shut out all of the sensory information.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Because on November 8th, I am participating in the SkyRise Chicago Tower Up Climb benefiting the RIC.  Juli asked me to do the climb, and how could I say no to this face?
So, I need to raise $150 in order to climb the 103 flights of stairs, and I am hoping some of you will sponsor me.  I want to make this little girl proud of her mom.

**If you click on the words "sponsor me" it will take you to my page.  I am overwhelmed already by those who have donated. Thank you so much!**

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

God Is Good...

Back in May, I posted a little bit about how the end of the school year sucked and I had to deal with having my character challenged.  At the end of the school year, there was a mass exodus of a bunch of people who had done little to help me out, and some new people were hired, who I knew would have my back.  However, with school starting back up in less than 2 weeks my anxiety level had begun rise to epic proportions starting last week.  I was having nightmares every night of having to work with the person who had done this to me.  Over the summer, I had worked on forgiving this person, but I knew that trusting that person wasn't going to happen, at least right away.

Last night, my cell phone rang, and it wasn't one of my set ringtones, so I almost didn't look to see who it was.  I am glad I did.  It was our new division chair.  Our conversation went like this, "Hey Jenna, I don't know if you're going to be happy about this, but I have some news about your Chemistry team."  My stomach dropped.  Had I been removed...again?  I had been summoned in over the summer by the new Assistant Principal to explain to him what had gone on, and I had made sure I was professional the entire time.  "Am I off the team again?"  "You're still on the team and so is Grant."  "Okay, then what's not to like?"  "Well, so and so has been removed from the team this year to go teach math.  You will have a new co-teacher on your team."  Immediately my anxiety level dropped, and I said as much.

God is good.  I also don't find it a coincidence that yesterday morning I started 2 studies on anxiety, because I couldn't handle myself anymore.  Thank you, Jesus, this year will be a better year.