Friday, April 1, 2011

March in Review

de Jong Family, March 5, 2011

If you've been to our house, you may have seen a sheet of paper we have hanging on our frig. We hang up a new sheet each month to jot down important dates, highlights, decisions made, projects completed and cute things that Daniel is doing and saying. Since my brain's ability to make and retain memories is a bit shoddy, this is the way I "remember" our life (plus lots of photos!).

I haven't been very good about updating the blog, so I thought I could use my month memory sheet to make at least a monthly blog report, so here's March.

One of my all time favorite pictures of Bailey, circa 2005

Of course, the biggest news of March is that we lost our sweet Bailey girl to liver failure on March 5. It's been much harder than I thought it would be and it's still hard to think of ourselves as a pet-free family.

The other major theme of the month is that we've been quite busy with preparing the house for sale. We started almost a year ago, but we knew that with me, it would take a while, with lots of starts and stops as my brain needed rest. This month we replaced all the carpet upstairs and are in the process of putting a hood in the island above our stove. We've also done some deep cleaning projects: the fireplace, the frig, the pantry. And we finally got the septic tanks cleaned after flooding caused some friends' basement to be flooded with two feet of sewage. Blech! We bought new bedding for our room and the third bedroom, and we bought some new tables and art for the front living room.

Daniel's Room with New Carpet

Along the housing theme, we signed our contract with the builder on the 29th! We were approved for our construction loan on the 25th, and it looks like we'll break ground in May. (We may push off til June, but right now we're thinking May!) Even though we first started talking about building our dream house "someday" four years ago, I can't believe it's happening already! We're hoping everything will be ready by next Friday so we can list our house on April 9. Feel free to start praying for a quick sale!

It has definitely been an expensive month. In addition to the house repairs and improvements, we've had higher than average medical expenses. I had minor surgery on the 22nd for an ongoing issue, which can hopefully be resolved without a major surgery. I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor next week, so we're doing a bit of praying about that. I've been really tired for quite a while so hopefully that can get resolved.

I've also been struggling with vertigo and vision issues for several months, and finally realized that I gave myself another concussion when I hit my head on the sloped ceiling at Niels' parents house on New Year's Eve. The neuro who manages my headaches referred me to a neuro-opthalmologist and I've started vision therapy with her this month. So far, I have new contacts, and I have new glasses to wear when I drive or exercise to help with the vertigo and double vision. The official diagnosis is post-traumatic vision syndrome. I had it with my original TBI, but it's definitely more pronounced now. In a nutshell, my eyes are fine, but my brain is not communicating well with my optic nerve, so what I see is slightly distorted, and my vision field is smaller than it should be. Hopefully, my expensive new glasses will help remind my brain how to place nice with my eyes.

Watching the cars go by.

Daniel continues to be a joy. We are so blessed by this curious, serious, happy boy. Thomas the Train continues to be his obsession and we're looking forward to surprising him next month with A Day Out With Thomas. He also still loves Elmo, airplanes--he's always on the lookout for planes in the air, letters, books, beads, clocks, coloring, cooking with Mommy and helping around the house. He loves to put his clothes in the hamper, put clothes in and out of the dryer, empty the dishwasher, sweep and wipe the table. His big accomplishment this month is that he has given up the pacifier. I was starting to wonder if he would take it to college with him! We started to wean him when everything happened with Bailey, so we put it off a couple weeks and after a couple of rough sleep-less days, we did it!

We are amazed every day at how quickly his language skills--both Dutch and English!--continue to grow. He repeats everything we say and frequently uses 4 and even 5 word sentences. He's very polite and regularly says "please," "thank you," and "help" without prompting. He has thoroughly mastered his letters and has moved on to learning numbers, colors and opposites. He's pretty shy around groups, but is super chatty when he plays by himself or is in his crib. We love to listen to him on the monitor as he recites all the words he knows and practices conversations.

When he isn't playing with his trains, lego or colors, he LOVES to help me in the kitchen. I cook most meals at home each night, so after his nap, he's quick to get us in the kitchen to start dinner. He has an impressive knowledge of whole ingredients. How many 2 year olds do you know that can identify bay leaves and chick peas and basil and couscous? He's amazing.

***cute story alert: I think one of my favorite memories of Daniel and Bailey will be this...when Bailey first got sick, she was home and sitting on my lap. Daniel was playing with his train in his own world. I was talking softly to Bailey, petting her and saying soothing things like, "It's okay, Bailey. I love you, Bailey." Daniel stopped, walked into the kitchen, opened the pantry, found the bay leaves, and brought them over to us. He put the bag of bay leaves right up to Bailey's face and said, "Bay leaves for Bailey." ***

Love that kid.