Thursday, December 30, 2010

Good Things A-Comin

Over in the Land 'O Corn (aka Illinois), where the streets have no names (okay, well they are numbered in a grid-like fashion so farmers can find themselves amidst the summer corn crop), we are doing AMAZING things...

I stole the computer just long enough to jot out this quickie post to let everyone know:

A.  I haven't fallen off the face of the planet; the Internet just blows in rural IL.
B.  Christmas was AMAZING (more to come).
C.  I made a blanket.  Yes. It's true.  The no-sew fleece kind that get pinned and sliced and diced and then tied into knots.  It rocks.  Just sayin. 

But mainly...

It does my heart good to see her surrounded by her four cousins who adore her, and treat her like a human doll.  They love her up and squish her and it makes me grateful for these extended visits.

1.  I am telling you, there are two teeth ready to poke through way in the back...2011 watch out!!!
2.  On Sunday night, Grandma and Papa had Cameran sleep in their room.  The next morning it was announced that little miss can PULL TO A STAND in her Pack N Play!  Yay!!!!!!!
3.  She is standing for even longer, and looks so determined as she tries to keep her balance. 
4.  Constant smiles and babbles.

Have a safe and happy New Year!

(Pictures to come...just not worth uploading ;)

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Fellow blogger Kelle Hampton recently has blogged about family traditions, how she feels as the matriarch in charge of said traditions here. 

It got me thinking about this whole living in the moment mantra.  In some ways, I feel like Cameran's delays are an excuse for me to cop out of going balls to the wall in terms of festivities and such.  At times I catch myself thinking, "She won't remember this [Christmas] anyway", or "I bet she still won't be interested in unwrapping gifts again", or "Do I have to bake REAL Christmas cookies?", or "We don't need a real tree this year because Cami's still little", or "We don't have to freeze at Dutch WinterWonderland this year because Cameran can't walk so we can put off going", and even, "I am too tired to finish decorating the tree."  In fact, that last statement is still true.  I lugged the tree out of the basement and assembled the whole thing while Cami played next to me on the floor.  I even strung the lights and wrapped the ribbon.  However, except for the 6 or 7 ornaments I received from this year's church ornament exchange, the tree is ornamentless.

And then I feel horrible and guilty.  If I am honest, sometimes I feel downright jealous of other friends and family members whose same-age and sometimes younger children are already walking, talking, and enjoying the beginnings of such traditions.

So, instead of procrastinating, I am resolving to apply the mantra of living in the moment to family traditions starting today.

Tonight the tree will be decorated.  We will walk around and look at Christmas lights.  Heck, maybe we will still go to Hershey or Dutch Wonderland to see the lights. 

If I am the matriarch of traditions, then I had better get started.


I have some traditions to cultivate.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

123 ABC ASD ...PFO

Confused already?

My life is filled with acronyms.  Between life as an educator and life as a Down syndrome parent, there are more acronyms than spaces in my memory to store them. 

Luckily there will be some overlap in Cameran's future, so I have a head start over parents who perhaps are not in education or psychology job fields.


IFSP, PT, OT, SI, SLP (wish that one stood for sleep)

And then there's the added medical jargon, also chock-full 'o acronyms...


It's a wonder I don't go crazy with all of these abbreviated terms!

Anyway, Cameran is feeling a little better.  Her fever topped out at 101.6 on Monday night.  I was hoping and praying that we wouldn't need to cancel the cardiology appointment.  Thankfully, Cameran slept through the night and woke up all smiles and fever-free.

I was able to leave work in order to backtrack to C's daycare and then turn back around to trek to Harrisburg for the appointment.  Traffic was horrendous along the main roads in H-burg, and we arrived a few minutes late.  Luckily they didn't mind, and we went back within ten minutes of our 2:00 appointment.

From there, Cameran was weighed (19.6 lbs..the kid won't gain weight) and measured (21 1/4 least she's getting longer).  We then went back for an ECHO-ultrasoundy kinda thing.  The tech was awesome, and he sang to Cameran while he did his thing.  You know how techs are not allowed to "interpret" images?? Well, this dude rocked.  After singing Cameran's praises for cuteness factor (I agree) and mellowness (a word??) despite feeling sick, he said that things looked good, and things were small enough that he couldn't get a measurement.  We then proceeded to wait for what seemed like an eternity before Cameran was hooked up to her EKG.  Overall she did well, only crying when the sticky tabs were pulled off.  We ended with a blood pressure check and the wait...

We waited and waited.  A PA came to speak with us while we continued to wait for the doctor.  She explained that everything looked fine, and that Cameran does not have an ASD like they first suspected, but instead has a PFO.  Her Branch Pulmonary Stenosis has resolved itself. 

So instead of this...
where an actual piece of tissue is missing and needs to grow shut....

Cameran has this instead...

...which is actually pretty sweet because it was so small (less than 4 mm) that they could not even measure it!

Apparently 1 in 4 people has a PFO, and they often resolve themselves, or cause pretty much benign irregular heartbeats and sometimes mild murmurs.  In any case, it is continuing to improve, and it is AWESOME news that it is a PFO.  Even if they were still thinking it was an ASD, it still would be just a case of monitoring. 

We are very blessed.  This was an excellent early Christmas present!

Sayonara Cardiologist (until next December)!

Oh the Possibilities...

The link for the full news article is here.

It makes my heart swell to see how teenagers can rally with love and support amidst the sea of cliques and popularity contests of high school.  This school district is a neighbor to my home district and my teaching district.  This is just one of multiple examples of how our schools provide inclusive environments to our students with special needs. 

It is stories like these that put my mind at ease when my brain enters the "what if..." realm of future worries.  Just another reminder of how we need to make the most of each moment.

But it is kinda cool to picture Cami in a cute little cheer outfit ;)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sick but thankful

Cameran is sick.  No surprise here.  She has had a nasty lingering cold for a month now.  It seems to be going deeper into her chest, culminating today with the dreaded 100.2 temperature.  Thank you daycare, for not calling me after she vomited due to a coughing jog.  Thank you Lord that her temperature did not climb to 100.4 where I would be called from work to come rescue my child.

Tomorrow she has her annual cardiology appointment where they will check to see that the hole in her heart is still closing.  I fear that they will not be able to hear because of her chest congestion.  Hopefully the EKG? EEG? (You'd think I'd know by now, but she gets EKGs, EEGs, MRIs, and Xrays like they are a common occurence) will show that there is still improvement. 

Even if they cannot tell for sure, I am grateful that Cameran is not in the range where surgery appears to be needed.  For that I am thankful.  My prayer is that the former is true, and also that Cami does not have pneumonia.  She went to bed at 6 after a not-so-constructive PT/SI session.  She has been asleep since.  I have a strange suspicion that she will be waking up in the middle of the night once again, therefore bedtime for me needs to happen ASAP.  Three hours last night was not nearly enough.  If when she wakes up, Vicks Vapor Rub is getting slathered on, followed by Motrin going down the hatch.

Tomorrow morning-repeat procedure-and hope and pray to make it until it is time for the cardiologist!

Merry Christmas from the Gerbers

(Disable sound before viewing our spectacular moves.)  Enjoy.

Not so much into rap?  Try this 80s version...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Major Award

You know how in A Christmas Story Bob, the dad, wins the leg lamp as his "Major Award"?

Well, it's Christmas time, and I feel like I have won my own "Major Award", except it's way cooler than an ugly lamp.  I get to share my personal experiences of life with the coolest person ever--my daughter Cameran--with even more people!

Jessica over at Four Plus An Angel decided to do a Friday feature, unveiling a new mommy (or daddy) who is traveling her (or his) own personal journey through life as a parent of a child with special needs and wants to share the journey with others.

So thank you, Jessica.  What a fabulous idea.  I love my Major Award, and I am honored to be your first Friday feature, showing that even though there are a few added challenges to the daily schedule of the Gerbers...


If you have a minute and are not already familiar with Jessica's blog, stop on over and say hi!

Happy Friday :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Tunes

I am totally stealing this idea from my high school friend.  In no particular order are some of my favorite Christmas/holiday songs.  Some are traditional classics while others are more contemporary.  If you wish to listen, be sure to pause the playlist at the bottom.

and another...

And my favorite (apologies for the grainy version---the official TSO's sharing and embedding is disabled.

There a tons more songs I could add. These are just a few I am digging this year in particular.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Snowy Berry Branch Holiday Card
Create photo new year's cards with Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Last night was rough.  Ryan, Cami, and I said a relucant goodbye to Jasmine, our 6 1/2 year old Boxer. 
 She had been growing sicker since mid-November.
Apparently dogs hide pain from their companions as long as possible.
I am convinced Jasmine did just that.
Four weeks in a row we trekked to the vet, beginning with belly pain.

The first week's x-ray diagnosis was arthritis.
She got prednisone.
She did not get better.
The second week's x-ray showed nothing unusual, but Jasmine's coloring was pale and blood samples were drawn.
She showed signs of anemia.
Without an ultrasound nothing more would be known.
We went back for more blood samples and improvement was shown.
We were leaving for Florida the following day.
Thankfully my parents took Jasmine so she was not in a kennel alone.

After Florida, Jasmine seemed perky at first, but then she started backsliding.  Her third blood sample showed a decrease in oxygen levels.  A third x-ray was taken.  There were hints of a shadow in her abdomen.  Tumor? Maybe. 

Three alternatives were given. 
1.Let it ride, knowing that more than likely her anemia was caused by some sort of internal bleeding.
2.Get an ultrasound to figure out what we were dealing with.
3.Do exploratory surgery. Risky, but could solve the problem and potentially increase lifespan by 3-12 months.

We opted for the ultrasound.  Ryan drove Jasmine the whole way down to Gaithersburg, Maryland after taking off early to do so Friday, December 3. 
Unfortunately the US was inconclusive because part of the spleen was hidden.  A sample was taken for the belly that confirmed internal bleeding.  Surgery was recommended.  We declined.

Saturday was a good day.
Jasmine and I went to Petco and got doggy pictures taken with Santa.  Jasmine was afraid of jolly old Saint Nick.  We loaded up on treats.  I bought her FAVORITE treats ever--stuffed pig hooves.

The rest of the day she went from bone to bone, eating and munching away happily, stubby tail a-wagging. 

See evidence is below.

 Sunday to Tuesday flew by. 
Sunday and Monday Jasmine seemed in good spirits.  However, she was growing pale again.  Tuesday afternoon she seemed very pale, and was more reluctant to eat.  Ryan left for class.  Mom, Cami, and I left for Park City to Christmas shop. 
When we came home, Jasmine was having difficulty breathing and seemed dizzy.  She alternated from wanting to be near us, to trying to find a place on her own. 
Ryan called the vet and was reassured that Jazzy would either pull through, or that this was indeed the end.  He said that internal bleeding causes a shock to the system and that the disorientation that comes before the last breathe makes it painless.  I opted to spend the night downstairs with Jasmine, since at this point, she could not stand up, let alone lift her head, and was lying on a Pier 1 cushion-turned doggy bed.  I didn't even get my makeshift bed made when she took her last breaths.  She died at 11:00 pm.
We took great care to say goodbye.  Ryan had to pull me off of her, as I lay sobbing in her fur.  She is being privately cremated, and we will receive her remains, at which time we will decide what to do with them. 

I know it sounds silly to be going into detail about Jasmine's last days with us, but Jasmine was special.  One of a kind.  Impossible to replace. 

Because of this, although I love the boxer breed, I doubt we will ever have another boxer.  None can replace Jasmine. 

Jasmine was the largest female in a litter of puppies that Ryan and I impulsively went to see prior to leaving for our honeymoon.  Ryan picked her out.  She was the calm amongst the storm.  The only puppy to be calmly sitting amidst her chaotic siblings, yet when we scooped her up she looked at us with such love that there was no other choice. We picked her up the day after we came back.  I named her, thus beginning the Disney duo that would become Jasmine and Nala for four years.  Giving Nala away to a loving home was difficult, but seeing Jasmine leave this earth was heartbreaking.  

I will miss my...

Jasmine Turquoise Sky Princess (AKC name)
Batu-Batu (Ryan claims this means "Swift Feet" in some random tribal language)

I will miss Ryan singing, "She's a good girl. She's my friend. She's a Jazzy-Jazzermine."

I will miss watching Cameran dangle over the edge of her high chair in search of Jasmine.

I will miss watching Cami figure out how to pet Jasmine.

I will miss Cameran using Jazzy to push off of in an attempt to stand.

I will miss Jasmine's docile nature.

I will miss her love of the outdoors.

I will miss saying "Car, walk, outside, Pappy and Nanny, treat" and seeing her head cock to the side.

I will miss her nudging open the bathroom door and backing herself inside for a Botu-belly rub.

I will miss her butt-wiggling almost as fast as her nubby tail.

I will miss her Tigger-like four foot vertical attempts at any door.
I will miss taking her for rides with her muzzle sticking out of the window. 

I will miss my instant dishwashing pre-rinser.

I will miss having the unconditional love of my first four-legged child.

I will miss burying my face in the nook between her eyes and nose.

I will miss sleeping like a contortionist while Jazzy made herself comfortable in bed.

I will miss our little Peter Pan-Nana wannabe.

I will miss being greeted at the door by the being most excited to see me arrive home from work each day.

I will miss Jasmine.  Always.

Nana Botu

Blizzard early 2010


I love you Jasmine. Forever.

Monday, December 6, 2010

'O Christmas Card

By now you have surely read multiple blog postings about Shutterfly and their Blogging holiday card special.  If not, then wait no more....

Right now, and through the holiday season, bloggers are eligible for 50 free photo cards once finished writing a post about Shutterfly and their awesome offerings! 

We took our homemade Christmas picture during Thanksgiving.  Believe me, it was an ordeal in and of itself.  Somehow, with the help of lots of editing I can get it to look great in the middle of one of Shutterfly's many holiday cards.

For those who like to write a year-end wrap up letter, these story cards provide beautiful displays for you to show off your family while adding 2010's highlights.

Not only that, those who like to add personal touches to wrapping paper also can try your hand at photo gift tags!

I have used Shutterfly for Cameran's birth announcements, as well as trying my hand at a photo book, for which there are many easy to use pre-made layouts.  When ordering regular prints you can also pick them up in as little as an hour from stores such as Target.  I am super excited to try out the holiday card special, and hope you are able to take advantage of it as well!
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