Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012 Paskins Family Recap



Thanks for stopping by.  It's been a busy year, so we're sorry for not taking the time to write. 

Some highlights from the year:
Adding Cameron to our family on 3/19
Bob and Danielle running the Hood to Coast Relay together in August
Celebrating Danielle's 40th Birthday on a weekend away in San Francisco
Celebrating Bob's 20th High School Reunion on a weekend away in Minneapolis
Celebrating Bob's Mom's wedding in California in October

Cody turned 6 in September and is in all day Kindergarten this year.  He is thriving in school.  Last Spring he played on his first T-ball team, The Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies.  His favorite moment was when he "hit the ball over their heads and they all ducked".  Cody loves playing with his Transformers and building things with his Legos.  In October, he served as a Ringbearer in his "Grams" wedding.  Cody is a sensitive, energetic, active boy and is doing a great job as the oldest of our 3 boys.

Nate will be 4 on New Years Day.  Nate attends two to three therapy appointments each week.  He attends Early Intervention preschool two days a week as well.  This past October, we learned that Nate has Sensory processing issues as well.  This helps explain his difficulties with solid food.  Nate continues to be on an all smoothie diet.  However, his smoothies are packed with nutrition making Nate the healthiest eater in the family.  We are beginning to see some forward progress since beginning with a new therapist a few weeks ago and have a renewed sense of hope for Nate. 

This has been a very challenging year with Nate.  We hope to share more details here soon.

Cameron is 9 months old and a very sweet baby.  He adores his big brothers and is always full of smiles.   He closely resembles his Dad, but he has a dimple on his chin just like Mom.  We are very grateful to have an easy baby and are looking forward to him interacting more and more with his big brothers.

Bob continues to work for K P D Insurance and had another great year.  He is a very committed Dad and Husband.  Bob continues to work with the 5th graders at our Church every Sunday.  This year he attended his 20th High School reunion back in Minnesota, once again attended his "FOV Guys Weekend" over Labor Day, and ran Hood to Coast. 

Danielle has spent most of this year learning how to find a new routine with the addition of Cameron and increased needs for Nate.  You can now catch her driving a snazzy minivan (which she loves).  Her Boot Camp business continues to grow and she enjoys working with her clientele. She also enjoys running several times each week.  Plus Dani created and acheived many items on her "40 by 40" list. 

We wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and happy New Year.  We are blessed.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 3rd Birthday, Nate!

Dear, sweet Nate...

I can't believe it's been 3 years since God placed you into our arms and challenged us to allow you into our hearts.  Our hearts broke in those first moments, weeks and months.  The picture of what we'd imagined for our lives had been shattered in an instant.  But, slowly, God picked up those pieces and showed us how they fit into a beautiful picture of love and grace.

Nate, you are...a true expression of joy, resilient, patient, the best cuddler I've ever known, pure, loyal, adventurous, expressive, musical....you are LOVE.

I have learned so much from you.  I have gained a deeper understanding of what it means to love.  I have learned a new level of patience.  I have learned to rely on God and recognize that he planned every step of your life (sorry, I struggle with this one from time to time, but I'm getting better).  You have taught me a new level of compassion and understanding for others.

My frustrations with your extra needs and numerous appointments with therapists and doctors are FAR outweighed by my deep, deep love for you - who you are NOW and who you will become.  You are amazing to me!  Thank you for being one I can come to when I need to feel God's love in flesh.  You wrap your little monkey arms around me and squeeze me just the way you know I need it.

Nate, I am proud to call you my son.  It's hard to believe I hid you from others in those first few months of your life.  If I could now, I would carry you on my shoulders everywhere we go and shout, "He is mine!  He is amazing!  God loved me so much He gave me this precious boy!".

Happy Birthday, Monkey!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Family Recap

Hi Friends and Family!  Thanks for stopping by to read our family recap for the year.  We had a year of growth, change, fun, love, challenges and a lot of laughter.  We like to laugh around here!

Cody turned 5 in September.  He is full of life and very active.  He continues to attend Heart Centered Montessori a few days each week and has begun the afternoon math and reading program twice a week.  He also plays soccer and has become quite a slugger with the baseball.  He loves to build all sorts of things with legos and trios.  He takes his role as big brother seriously and is great at teaching Nate new things.  Cody talks to Mommy's belly quite a bit these days and tells his 2nd brother that he will "love him for life and can't wait to meet him".

Nate will be 3 on New Year's Day.  It is hard to believe it's been that long already.  Nate just began walking confidently in the last month and motors around ALL DAY LONG.  We are amazed with his resolve to master new tasks and always with a great attitude.  The biggest challenge continues to be feeding as he still hasn't learned to eat solid food.  Much of the problem is likely due to the congestion he deals with, so we are working hard to try to resolve that issue.  Last week he had new ear tubes put in and had his tonsils out.  He's been a trooper.  Nate's favorite things to do right now include cuddling, walking, wrestling with Daddy and Cody, putting anyone's shoes on his feet and playing the conga drums that sit in our hall.


Danielle is now 7 months pregnant and trying to soak it up (she's one of those crazy ones who actually loves being pregnant).  This has been the easiest pregnancy with no morning sickness or any other real challenges.  She continues to run her boot camp business, West Linn Fitness, and is hoping to teach her classes up until 38 weeks (just like the other 2) before taking a short break.  She is constantly trying to learn how to be a better mom and growing in patience daily.  Danielle is enjoying being a small group leader for the woman's study at church.  She celebrated her 39th birthday by writing a list of 40 things to accomplish before turning 40 and has enjoyed checking those off.  Aside from welcoming boy #3 in March, she is most looking forward to running Hood to Coast again this summer (look for team "Girls and Guys with Achin' Thighs").


Bob continues to thrive at work and home!  He has now been with KPD Insurance as a Broker for almost 5 years and has built a great book of business.  At home, he works hard to connect on a meaningful level with Cody, Nate and Danielle on a daily basis which makes our home a warm place full of laughter.  Bob coached the church softball team to victory and is looking forward to playing again this summer.  He is teaching the 5th graders at our church each Sunday and finds new ways to connect with them each time.  He's been suckered into running Hood to Coast this summer.  Bob's latest quest is to convince executives at Porsche to develop a high performance Minivan (to be purchased before boy #3 arrives in March).

We have grown and learned a lot this year.  We thank you all for being a part of our lives.

Merry Christmas and may your 2012 be deeply blessed!
The Paskins Family

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hard days come and go

Hi friends,
Again, it's been too long.  I'm not a writer so sitting down to write here is something I often overlook.

Yesterday was a hard day.  They come every few months.  Early on, when they came, they hit like a tidal wave and stayed for a while.  Now, they come and go quickly.  But, they do come.

While these days are never about not loving Nate, they are about the extra time/attention/perseverance/money it takes to raise him.  We love Nate deeply, but sometimes it just feels so hard.

We are on the cusp of a new phase in Nate's early intervention.  From zero to three early intervention services come into the home for therapies.  In January, when Nate turns 3, we will move into a classroom setting.  Nate will be in a class with 3 teachers and 8 students with a variety of special needs.  So, what does this mean?  A LOT of hard work is happening right now to try to prepare him.  We generally have 4 appointments each week (right now, 2 in the home, 2 private) and that's both exhausting and expensive. 

Nate is much like Cody was in the major milestones....taking his own sweet time....and then some!  He is just now able to walk across a room unassisted (which is exciting for all of us) - Cody didn't walk until 18 months and if you double the timeline (which they say is an average for kids with DS), Nate's right on track for a Paskins boy.

Our biggest challenge continues to be feeding.  Nate still eats like a 5 month old.  The mainstay of his diet is smoothies (which I fill with all I can think of!) and he'll tolerate very smooth textured spoon feedings.  He does not touch any food.  Each time we seem to take a step forward, he gets sick and then we take a few steps back again.  We've barely made progress in feeding over the past year.  We have just begun working with a new therapist who has some great ideas, so we're hopeful, but it's a slow and stressful road.

I constantly feel like I'm inadequate....I am always wondering if I'm doing enough.  If I've found the right therapists....if I'm working closely enough with him at home....if having him be so far behind now is a predictor of his future independence....

Last night Bob and I sat down to work through all of our medical bills from this year and came to the realization that $10-$15K each year is what we should expect in expenses for Nate.  Our out-of-pocket for Cody this year?  $3.71....yes, three dollars and seventy-one cents!  That's hard too.

I'm not writing this to complain or get your "oh, Danielle, you're a great mom" comments.  I'm writing because every now and then I just need to vent.  Ninety-five percent of the time I'm fine.  I love Nate and am confident God placed him in our family for a very specific reason.  But every now and then I have a hard day.  And that's real too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

To Test or Not to Test....

Of course, at my "advanced maternal age" of 39, nearly the first topic of conversation at my first prenatal appt was regarding testing.  Would we test?  Would we meet with a genetic counselor?  Did we know our "risks"?

Our risks....as in, did we know EXACTLY what was growing inside of me.  Did we know for certain that this baby would be a perfect addition to our family?  All the right genetic material?  "Normal"? 

WHO.EVER.KNOWS.THIS?  We all know that we cannot guarantee anything with our children.  They may have all the right chromosomes, yet bring us the greatest struggle and heartache.  And those with an extra chromosome, deemed expendable by many, may bring us the greatest joy and learning.  We just never know!

BUT, there was a piece of us that still wanted to get some information.  To prepare ourselves.  We had many long discussions and prayed about it for weeks.  We were leaning toward not having any testing done and then Bob gently passed the final decision to me saying, "I know this is a lot different for you.  You are living with the baby growing inside you and think about it a lot more than I do.".  Again, my sweet and considerate husband. 

For many, this is not even a discussion.  They think we should test.  But why?  We know we wouldn't do anything different if we had more information.  And, ultimately, isn't this all about trusting God.  Trusting that the God of the universe knows exactly what we need and would never give us more than we can handle.

We soon realized that the initial screening tests likely wouldn't give us the definitive answers we would want and we'd need to do an invasive test such as CVS or Amnio to really confirm anything.  These both carry a risk of miscarriage.  Nationally, the risk is 1 in 250, but the experts in the Portland area have a rate of 1 in 850.  BUT, once you ARE the statistic, the numbers really don't mean anything any more!  Then, I spoke with a friend who had recently had a close friend of hers lose a baby after an Amnio.  They later found out the baby was healthy.  It happens.  How could we possibly take that risk just so we'd get some information we'd do nothing with?!

So, we decided against testing.  And we are COMPLETELY at peace.  We are trusting that the little one growing in my ever-expanding belly is the perfect child for us. 

 Will the boys have a little brother or little sister...now that's some information we can't wait to get!  
October 24th is the day we'll know!

With great anticipation,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Adding to the Family

 (Day before Nate was born)

Near the end of my pregnancy with Nate, we felt pretty certain 2 would be a good number of children for us.  But after learning Nate had Down syndrome, we began to question. 

 (Heading home from the hospital the day after Nate was born)

After about 6 months, I started feeling strongly that I wanted to have another.  At this point, we were just getting into the nitty gritty of what having a child with Ds is all about (especially in regards to appointments and medical bills) and Bob was feeling this was enough for us to handle.

I continued to express my desire to have another who could "help Nate" and be a long term partner with Cody in watching over Nate.  I'd so often heard that children with Down syndrome who are sandwiched by siblings are more successful, with a sibling to look up to and one who quickly catches up and pushes him.

Bob did not feel this was a good reason to have another since we wouldn't know what God would give us and he really didn't want me desiring a child to try to be or accomplish anything specific.  So, we continued to bounce back and forth between periods of discussion and periods of independent prayer, promising to come to the other if God revealed anything to us.

About a year ago, after a several month hiatus from talking about the subject, Bob asked me why I wanted another child. 
My answer: "I just love both of our boys so much that I want more of that."
His response: "That's what I've been waiting to hear."

My oh-so-very-wise husband had been waiting for well over a year for me to decide I actually wanted another child for the love of a child rather than to fill in some gap I thought was there.  He was wise in never pointing me in that direction, but waited for me to come to it on my own. 

So we both agreed that we wanted to try for another child and would trust that God would give us what he wants for us.

We will meet who God has designed for our family in the beginning of March.  In the meantime, we grow deeper in love with Cody and Nate.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Behind closed doors

My boys, that is.  They're behind closed doors right now in the laundry room.  Cody and Nate don't want me in there.  Because they are brothers and isn't that what brothers do?  They sneak away and do their own thing and don't let mom in.  I opened the door and moments later, Cody slithered his body back over to the door to close it and remind me that it's "boy time".  And.I.love.it!

Cody and Nate have really begun developing a close bond lately.  Of course, Nate adores Cody and Cody loves the role of showing Nate his new tricks and trying to help him learn.  Because 2 mischievous boys are always way more fun than just one.

This is something I really wondered about for a while.  Would Cody miss out?  While their relationship may be different from other brothers, I am deeply convinced that the brotherly bond they have will continue to develop into something amazing.

We still haven't told Cody that Nate has Down syndrome.  We  haven't seen a need to yet and he hasn't seemed to notice that Nate is any different from anyone else.  Isn't that beautiful?  We know the time will come, but at this point, Cody just sees Nate as his little brother and loves him as such.

They are blessed to have each other!

 Always wanting to put big brother's shoes on!

 Chat's in "Daddy's Chair"

And, of course, wrestling matches!