Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oreo Cookie Balls - A Tutorial

I have made these little balls of deliciousness many times and I always get asked how they are made. They are deceptively simple, really. Especially when you consider the taste! To quote my cousin Nathan: "that has to be the best thang I ever wrapped my tongue around"! (He was talking about my dad's baked beans at the time but still...) Nathan makes me laugh. I might quote him again on my blog someday... Really! He has Larry the Cable Guy beat all to holler. I digress. Back to the Oreo balls...

Here we have the actors in the play: The actual ingredients are pretty basic. One package of Oreo cookies. One normal-size block of cream cheese. One package of candy wafers. I get a little creative with things but you can just use this basic recipe to start with. A side note before we begin: when I took these photos I was getting ready for a big church event in which a large number of people were anticipated to come by our home. I made a big-ole batch of this stuff. Can you say "FIVE package of Oreo's and FIVE blocks of yummy cream cheese"? Just wanted to be clear. The gi-hugic bowl of cookie gloop did not go on my own personal thighs. Though I will admit to snarfing down my fair share!
Then you can add some Just-For-Fun items. I chose these sprinkles. You'll see a rhyme to my reason directly. I also like to put the little balls in candy papers when I serve them. This is because I'm a "presentation" kind of girl and I like things all tied up with a bow! You don't have to do them this way. I'm sure they taste the same straight out of your hand without the little papers hugging their bottoms. Pretty sure anyway...
Rip open the package of Oreo cookies and...
...toss 'em in the blender. I can put one full row at a time in my blender. You might live dangerously and try more but I found if I tried to get my blender too full, I ended up with some cookie chunks and not the finer texture I wanted.
Almost there. You want these puppies almost the consistency of coarsely ground coffee. The cream part (arguably the best part of the Oreo) will mostly just disappear right into the whole blended powdery stuff.
Did I mention you should have your cream cheese at room temperature? You should. Take it out of the 'fridge an hour or so before hand (a day or so if you live in the north in the winter) and let it soften. You can soften it in the microwave but I don't recommend you do that if you can avoid it. The heating tends to separate the cream cheese and your dough turns kind of greasy. They firm up okay in the final steps and taste just as wonderful so go ahead if you forgot or the cat got into the first batch you laid out to soften or something...
Just plop the cream cheese in on top of the Oreo powder and wash your hands really, really, REALLY good with antibacterial soap. Then go wash them again just because I'm a nurse and it makes me feel better to say that. I can't stand the thoughts of grody hands in food I'm expected to eat... If your aren't sure about your hand hygiene, feel free pull on some sterile gloves. I was very certain my hands were very clean so I just started squishing the cream cheese into the Oreo mixture. Just keep smushing until all of the powdery bits incorporate into the cream bits. It only takes a few minutes for it to all stick together into a dough.
I have never placed the Oreo dough wad out on a plate before, but because the bowl was so big, I found it easier to work from a plate than leaning over a cavernous bowl spelunking for my next blop of dough. Do that if you want to.
I make my balls on the smallish side. Smaller than a ping-pong ball but bigger than a shooter-marble. You want them about the size of a typical chocolate candy so they are a good mouthful but not so big that you go into a sugar coma before you finish one. Line the little balls up on a piece of waxed paper or parchment - I have used both and they both work well - put over a cookie sheet. My favorite cookie sheets to use for this task are the stone ones because when they come out of the 'fridge after the cool down cycle, the stone stays cold longer and in Houston that is a good thing!
Now bear with me while I chase a rabbit for a minute. One of the batches I did I used mint Oreo's. I wanted to try some different flavors. I think the green Oreo filling looked so cool in the blender so I had to show you...
This is what the mint looks like all chopped up. You can almost see green in there if you look hard enough.
Then pop everybody in the fridge for a cool-down. Even dough that is very soft will firm right up when you get them in the cold for a bit. I normally clean up everything at this point and go check my email, make my bed and paint my toenails...whatever I can find to do to let time pass. I try to allow at least an hour.
Then you pull them out and baptize them in melted chocolate wafers. I'll did the white color first and I forgot to take a picture of the melting process so you'll have to wait a minute for that. Going in...
...and coming out. The chocolate stays soft for only a little while before it hardens back up and it doesn't appreciate being re-melted very much so you want to work quickly.
Then have you seven-year-old daughter sprinkle the still melty tops with the "Cookies and Cream" sprinkles you have sitting right handy in a ramekin. Yes, she washed her hands very well too!
Now I'm gonna do the chocolate ones. I put the wafers in a Pyrex measuring cup. Mine can hold the entire bag of wafers. I have had so many people tell me this is where the process fails! So I guess this is important! Melt the wafers exactly like this: Pop them in the microwave for one minute. Take them out. Give them a stir. Notice that they are looking a little soft around the edges but don't get concerned - because, well, because I told you not to! Put them back in the microwave for 30 seconds. Give them a stir. One more 30 second zap and you should be starting to get quite melty. Many people don't realize that when you cook with a microwave you are changing the molecular structure of food by exciting the molecules and they will continue to move for a short period of time after you take them out of the microwave. You can really see this work when melting chocolate. So if you pull the wafers out after one full minute and two half-minute cycles and you are almost smooth chocolate but still a little lumpy, just give it a stir for a few minutes and make sure you really need more time in the microwave before you put them back in for another go-round. So if you have had the experience of your chocolate getting hard and crumbly, you have over-cooked it and now you know...
See? Almost there. This will stir out to very smooth. Mmmmm...chocolate!
For the plain chocolate coated ones, we used toffee crumbles.
And now for the mint...these sprinkles aren't mint flavored but they look minty so we'll just use those so folks know which ones are mint. Okay? (BTW, that hand is chocolatey NOT dirty! She washed! Promise. I watched her do it.)
Lovely, rich mint chocolate melts make the mint cookies even yummier.
And the green sprinkles look really pretty on them.
Sittin' pretty in their little paper dresses all ready for someone to snatch them up and dive into chocolate heaven. We did have a few left over so I sent a small box to Melissa and Jamison's teachers. They loved me. They sent me notes of rapture. I was the favorite parent that week! I think I'm gonna do it again next week with a bigger box for their Christmas presents. I have done these with the golden Oreos and they are quite divine. I found some berry flavored Oreo's the other day and bought a couple of packages but I'm not sure they are going to make it to the project. Think chocolate-covered strawberries. Yes. That good. I hope the grocery store has more. I'm not sure I have enough left for even one batch...
Let me know if you try these. I'd love to hear about your own personal combinations. I saw some peanut butter Oreos the other day. I refrained from purchasing them though. If you did, tell me how they turned out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brendan's Vision Diagnosis

It has taken me a few hours to assimilate the information given to us by the vision specialist yesterday. If you will indulge me a bit, this post will likely be a bit more of a "rant" than normal. I am just gonna be frank here. Can I be Frank? Okay, just call me Frank! "Frank, you say... "

Yes, I am a bit punchy. I haven't had much sleep. I can't sleep. My mind is on overload and I am WAY stressed out. I am working on my trust issues with God. I do okay a lot of the time but after a night of tossing and turning, I don't have my normal ability to "cast all my cares upon Him". I know, I know...that's when I should be doing the best at it!

Our conference call with the vision specialist took place yesterday afternoon. Mom was in her office for the call and Randy and I were patched in. The whole via-teleconference thing was hard.

One of the first things she asked was if we had had Brendan tested for Aspergers Syndrome. I told her that we had indeed had him tested both by a psychiatrist and a developmental psychologist. Aspergers was ruled out. Over the two hour conference, she mentioned Aspergers many times. It was as though she couldn't get beyond her big idea that he had Aspergers! Her other points:

While Brendan sees 20/20 on a vision test, his eyes don't function together as they should. I am trying to re-create it the way I understand it so it is more understandable for folks without these issues.

The first issue is with eye movement. Most people have the ability to accurately follow a moving target and shift their eyes from one point to another with ease. Brendan cannot do this. It requires gross motor (movement of his head and neck) movement for him to function as opposed to fine motor (eye shift). The goal here was 50% - Brendan was less than 1% in vertical and 1-5% in horizontal. I know. Those numbers don't mean much to me either. I just know they aren't great! The diagnosis of this part of the exam was Oculomotor Dysfunction. Have you had him tested for Aspergers syndrome?

In real life this means that Brendan will lose his place frequently, skip or omit words, have a difficult time copying from the board and have a really hard time performing in any sporting activities. It is totally amazing to me that he can ride a bicycle and played basketball for many years - even making a basket every once in a while!

The next piece dealt with the ability to focus the eyes rapidly and automatically. Reading and writing both require the eyes to be able to focus for long periods of time. Coping from one place to the other (the chalk or marker board) requires a change in focus from long distance to near. Obviously this is also linked to the ability to sustain visual attention. The goal for Brendan was 10 cycles per minute. He was able to do 5. The diagnosis for this part was Accommodative Infacility. We really do need to consider the fact that he likely has Aspergers...

Probably the biggest piece of the puzzle was the binocular integration. God designed our eyes and muscles to work together with such a high degree of precision that both eyes perform as if they were one. This ability is related to eye movement control and focusing ability. Since both of those are off somewhat, it stands to reason that instead of working as a team, Brendan's eyes have some rivalry in the ranks! Sure enough, we have big issues here! We won the diagnosis lottery in this area and got a two-for-one deal: Binocular Dysfunction and Convergence Excess.

To accomodate, his brain just shuts down one of his eyes at near range. He is totally blind in one eye when he is reading or looking at things close up. He also has an extremely slow response in focusing on anything requiring fine depth discrimination - meaning his depth perception is way off. There is a good chance that Aspergers Syndrome has some meaning to his diagnosis.

Again, the test measurements don't mean anything to me but to give you an idea, the goal for far distance was 12 pd (prism diopters) and Brendan made it to 4. The goes for near distance was 25 pd and Brendan made it to 6. The time it took for the two eyes to fuse images to allow depth perception was 70 arc seconds (whatever an "arc second" is!) with normal being 20 arc seconds.

So, lets take a look at what that looks like for Brendan practically. This is what a white marker board looks like with a few words written on it.

This would be a typical assignment and this is how you or I would see it... Aspergers?
Now let's make it doubled like Brendan sees it...
And let's add in the "I-can't-focus-the-dumb-thing-so-it-looks-like-I'm-drunk" bit... I'm pretty sure this is how it looks to folks with Aspergers Syndrome.
And you get just a clue as to why he was barely passing in classes that required him to write notes off of the chalkboard! It makes my head hurt to look at just that little piece...image your whole world in full color looking like that...MOVING...for THIRTEEN YEARS! If that isn't overwhelming to you than you are way stronger than I am!

And then the doctor has the audacity to ask if he has Aspergers!! Uh, no, lady, he is on sensory overload from the vision issues you just told us about in great detail!

I was in tears. I cried a bit and then I did what all red-blooded American women do in a crisis (after the chocolate)...I picked up the phone...
  • I called my sister. Dori is an RN. She has known Brendan since before he was born. Her husband is a school counselor. "Do you think Brendan has Aspergers?" "NO!!" I love my sister!
  • I called my sister-in-law. Kim is an Occupational Therapist. Kim has many years of experience working with a child with autistic-like tendencies. She too has known Brendan since before he was born. "Do you think Brendan has Aspergers?" "No...I really don't. Why do you ask? I have a check list at home we could consult...I really have found that 'Aspergers' is the new catch-phrase for diagnosticians to use..." I love my sister-in-law!
  • I called my BFF. Sandie is a teacher. But not just any teacher...she is the team lead for special education in a junior high. Sandie has known Brendan for five years. "Do you think Brendan has Aspergers?" "No! Who told you that?..." (I won't repeat the rest as I wish to keep this family friendly. Let's just say Sandie got a bit defensive on my behalf. I love Sandie!)
  • I called my Mom. My mom didn't even know what Aspergers was. She had been sitting in the doctor's office listening in when the doctor had said that though and she remembered it. She went from there to the school. She walked into the office of Ms. Whorton, the Principal Sent from God. She told Ms. Whorton what the doctor had said. Ms. Whorton said something along the lines of "I really think that 'Aspergers' is the new catch-phrase for diagnosis when they don't know what else to say and I don't think Brendan has it." I love my mom... and I love Ms. Whorton!
Evidence based medicine and my critical thinking skills (thank you nursing school for those long words there - they keep me from sounding like I belong on an episode of My Big Redneck Wedding!) tells me that our son does not have Aspergers Syndrome. He does have some neurological issues. We will get therapy for those issues. The therapy may or may not work. If it does not work, we will figure out something else that will.

Please know that if at the end of the day he does have Aspergers Syndrome, we will still love him and I have absolutely nothing in the world against anyone with this syndrome. I just think with all the other issues he is dealing with, it is a bit ludicrous to pile something on that the child doesn't have just so you can slap a label on it and feel better about yourself! And at what point did a optometrist (even a developmental specialist in the field) gain the training necessary to diagnose Aspergers?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Brendan and my Prayer Closet

Several of you have kindly asked about Brendan and how he is doing. I think he is doing very well. (Though he mostly doesn't seem to want us to know that!) His grades are excellent though we are working to make certain he is being challenged enough. Since he can type most everything he needs to write in class now, it seems a big obstruction to his learning has been resolved. He did several hours of testing with the vision specialist this past week - we won't have a report on that until later in November. She has indicated that he has several issues with his eyes that will likely require therapy. Please help us pray about that - from what I have been able to research on his conditions, the therapy can be painful and make you very nauseated. In Europe one of his conditions is commonly treated with surgery - I am hoping we don't have to even consider that! It just makes me queasy to think about getting anything that close to his eye that cuts! I know they do it all the time, just one of the things that makes me kinda sickish-feeling to think about...
When you live way out in the country and trick-or-treating is not an option, (it just isn't worth it to drive a mile to the neighbor's house to get a candy bar!) you do a weeny roast! Brendan has wanted a bon fire since it has turned cool in the evenings and we finally talked Grammy and Papa into doing it for a fun activity on October 31st. When Grammy sent me these pictures, I was a bit surprised to see they had their fire in the trash barrel...(no trash truck to pick up garbage in the country either!) but then I noticed they were actually burning wood...and then I noticed all the dry leaves and finally figured out that was better than some of the scenarios that could have played out! The trash barrel is good. Really.
What tastes better than a weenie roasted over an open fire on a cool October evening in the Ozark Mountains?
S'MORES! Nuff said!
Aunt Dori and her family came down on the weekend to take their RV to a state park close to Ft. Smith. Brendan enjoyed playing on this rock with the two E's...These flat rocks are one of the things I like the most about the mountains in Arkansas.
Brendan and Ellie are laughing around the fire...
'K...this isn't what it looks like! I was a bit disturbed at this picture. It looks like Brendan is about to whack the red off of poor Ellie's hair! Not so. Aunt Dori reports that she told them to "strike a pose" and this is what they came up with. So they aren't gonna make Vogue anytime soon-looks like they still had fun!

We are making it here at home. Today marks the point when we can say "Brendan comes home next week"! They will leave after church on Sunday and drive all or part of the way to Katy. So "the Lord willin'" we will get to see our boy Sunday or Monday! We are all very excited!

I have discovered that this trial has been bearable only one day at the time. Sometimes I can't even think about a whole day - I have to do it moment-by-moment. I spend a lot of time in my "prayer closet". When I was younger and Dad would preach about his "prayer closet" I always wondered where in the world that was. I always pictured a dark tiny room with only room to squat in the corner and cry out to God! I didn't realize that was "pastoral speak" for a not-so-literal place! I, however, have an actual prayer closet! I don't do so well with staying focused on only one thing at the time.

Like, for instance, I can't just sit and watch a TV show. I have to be doing sewing or painting or beading or something! I think I drive poor Randy crazy. But he loves televised sports so I'm thinking we might just even out in the "driving crazy" regard! Is there anything worse than the sound of a huge crowd roaring above a bad organ (or school band) playing a "charge"? I think not. But I digress. And if you are a huge fan of televised sports, I'm sorry. And your wife has my sympathies!

Back to me. I have learned that I can get a lot of time with the Father in while I am sewing. I have been sewing since I was ten-years old and for me it is not tedious or difficult. I mostly can sew without paying a lot of attention to the actual construction. So when I feel the need, I sew. ( think I'll call my next devotional book "So She Sews"! Just kidding. I have no plans to write a devotional book. But it's a cute name anyway, huh? I thought you might like to get a peek inside my personal prayer closet.
At one time I had a gi-hugic room all for myself for the sole purpose of expending creative energy. I did not appreciate what I had. It was taken from me.

When we moved into the incredibly lovely home we now reside in, I had a beautiful (albeit much smaller) room for sewing and jewelry-making. I did not appreciate it. It too was taken from me.
Now I have the end of the dining room to use in any way I see fit-as long as I can stand the mess! This space does not have a door on it. You can see it from the entry way (translate: total strangers can see inside my prayer closet when they stop by to sell me another Kirby vacuum cleaner). I do appreciate it. I so much appreciate having sewing machines (yes, plural! I have an embroidery machine, a serger, two regular sewing machines and an older more heavy machine for upholstery work), lots of fun fabric, thread, beads, and way more other stuff to play with than I care to admit here! I have spent many hours lately thanking our Creator for all the stuff I have at my disposal with which to create.
So I am spending time in my prayer closet and you know what? God is good! He has given us a wonderful peace that we are doing the right thing. Yes, it is still incredibly hard. Yes, we miss our boy so bad it hurts. There are certainly moments when I wonder if the pain will ever get better. But the same God that is at work in Katy is working even harder on the top of a little mountain in Arkansas and one day it will all be better! And we get to see Brendan for several glorious days next week! How do you spend your time with God?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What a whirlwind. No really...I am all turned around just thinking about everything.
  • Brendan started school
  • He said he loved it the first day
  • Today wasn't as great
  • He chipped a tooth and Grammy had to take him to the dentist in Sallisaw, OK to fix it
  • It was just a little chip so it didn't require a shot
  • He had his "pre-test" visit to the vision specialist in Fort Smith, AR
  • She said he has many "issues"
  • It will take two to three months to complete testing and get reports
  • She said he has a fine-motor deficiency with his eye tracking
  • He will need a lot of therapy
  • He had a visit with the Really Awesome Chiropractor in Van Buren, AR
  • Dr. Dave said he has scoliosis that we can likely correct with "lifts" in his shoes
  • Dr. Dave said one of his arches is falling worse than the other one
  • Brendan discovered his shoes are too small
  • This required a side trip today to Academy
  • Papa found a teacher for saxophone but somehow they haven't had time to go find a sax...wonder why?
And we are only to Tuesday! I am exhausted just thinking about it all! I have certainly spent my share of time in a fetal position crying these days and I'm sure my Mom wants to but just doesn't have the energy to curl up that far! The financial load is becoming very overwhelming. Testing, therapy and treatments for all these issues is running into the tens of thousands of dollars. I get so very frustrated that the doctors insist on doing things to make more money off of us. None of them seem to take our insurance (but they do take Medicaid...)so they all want money up front...a LOT of money! When Mom made the appointment for the vision specialist, it costs $125 for the "pre-visit" to screen him to see if he needed to be tested. The tests themselves will cost over $400. Then $125 or so every week when he gets therapy...and on and on it goes.

We are making it here at home. It still seems so empty and lonely with our boy not here...we are all counting the days until Thanksgiving break - now just pray we can manage to let him go back to Arkansas!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

And the latest on Brendan is...

This has been a busy, busy week. It has been Field Day two different days this week...Wednesday and Thursday. Jamison is in Ms. Waite's class so they were the "Waite's Warriors". We had to do a faux-hawk (all the girls with hair long enough wore theirs in two braids) so we used a ton of gel and got it up in the air!
Here we have the "Wagon-Pull" event. This was a kid got in the wagon - the other pulled. When they reached the end, they turned the whole shebang around and traded places and raced back to the starting line! Jamison's class came in first!
Then we had the "Pumpkin Sweep"...think a shuffle-board type game. Okay, I made that up. I have no clue how shuffle-board is played. In my world, this is similar to shuffle-board...just work with me here! The kids had a small pumpkin they had to sweep down their lane to the end, turn around and sweep it back to the starting point. This one was a relay as well. Jamison was the "end man" or the last to take a turn. By the time he started, another team was a bit ahead. But my man blew them out of the water and pulled his team ahead to finish first again!
Last year one of the other dads just loved on Jamison constantly! Even though his daughter is in another class this year, he came over to "enemy territory" to congratulate The Champ and give him a M&M reward! Thanks, man.
Jamison ran in the 50 yard dash. He did not come in first but he still did really well. His mamma would have come in dead last. Like several minutes behind the others...let's just say running is not my forte'! But since I'm a mom now, I can find other ways to keep myself busy and leave running to those younger and less inclined to pass out. Amen.
See the determination on that face? Oh if he would only be that focused on homework or cleaning his room...
This is Jamison's best friend, Noah. Noah is not in Jamison's class this year. But I still love him...and the adorable look on his face when he was cheering for his class.
Warrior Jamison.
Have I mentioned I really dread getting all that gel-ick out?
Missa with Ms. Jones. They were the "Jones Jaguars" - this sign originally said "Jags Are Jazzed Up". As you can see, somewhere along the way we lost a few letters. It's all good though - Ms. Jones is an Aggie and even though the Hays would typically need a Sooners sign, we can let it go for today. Really. We can play nice.
Missa was a contestant in the "Hop-a-Roo" relay. This looks like fun!
They both did really well. Melissa's class came in 3rd overall. There are six 2nd grade classes so the Jaguars did great! Jamison's class tied for 2nd. There are seven 5th grade classes. I was really proud of both of them. I am even more proud that Field Day is over for another year. Have I mentioned that I hate Field Day? Sitting outside in the hot sun with elementary children screaming several decibels above eardrum-rupture level is not my idea of a fun day! I almost always come home with a migraine...but this is Jamison's last year and Melissa will only have a few years left to do it - I will do my best to keep on until I cross the finish line on this thing! By the time she has her last one, I will have done it for 14 years! Now that is motherly love, folks!

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch...
Brendan is doing great! We miss him horribly. I still find myself crying for no reason. I'm glad Hallmark hasn't started their holiday commercials yet or I might not stop weeping! It feels like the sunshine has left our home. I know it hasn't, it just feels that way. Brendan however is doing well so far...
Meet Jack. Daddy and Brendan rescued Jack from the pound on Monday. Brendan is working on training him...or he is training Brendan - we aren't clear which!

He does well on the leash so if he would just stop pulling so hard!
Sit Jack. Good dog.
Over the weekend, Mom's house was filled with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and the Cousin Offspring (have no idea if they are "second-cousins" or "first cousin's once-removed"...not sure I care!) and Brendan had a ball. One of the guys took Brendan down to Dad's woodshop and they emerged some time later with this awesome bow.
On Saturday morning the men went fishin'. (You don't go fishing at Grammy and Papa's's fishin'!) Brendan caught a few. I think they came home with 10 fish. Grammy fried 'em up to eat with the brisket Papa smoked. Let's just think about that smoked brisket for a your mouth watering? Mine is. Papa's smoked brisket is rockin' awesome! What I wouldn't give for some this very minute...I'm just gonna for a bit. See you in a minute or three...
And what's not to love about holding a fish you caught? I personally have no desire, but it apparently is a fun thing for him!

Mom and Dad met with the school counselors, principal and assistant principal yesterday. The school faculty asked if Brendan could be in on the meeting too. When he came into the room, he was pretty "shut down" and only answering in monosyllables. The counselor tried to engage him but had no luck. After trying a few time, she left the room and came back with a gizmo called an "Alphasmart". She typed a question on it and passed it to Brendan. He typed an answer back to her and passed it back. She asked another question. He answered. Pretty soon they had the AP in on the game. Brendan laughed. He snorted milk out his nose...okay, not really that last bit - but in my mind he was in that mind-boggling place where you are having such a ball that a little milk out your nose is a good thing! He did have a great time with them though. Dad really enjoyed watching him interact with them and then enjoyed telling me all about it. I enjoyed hearing it.

Today Brendan is eager to start school on Monday. This is new for me since he hasn't really enjoyed school in a very long while. Oh, don't get me wrong - there were parts that he enjoyed but for him to actually be eager to go to school? Haven't seen that since about third grade! I am eager for him to go to school! I am so excited to see what he can do with the right tools! I called him tonight as we were driving home from the barn-to-feed-the-pig trip and he was laughing like a hyena at Papa and Grammy who were playing Uno with him. It was incredibly gratifying to me to hear him laugh that Brendan-laugh. If you have ever heard it, you know what I mean. If you haven't heard it, you should! Rainbows swish, unicorns dance and the sunshine breaks through the clouds when Brendan laughs...his laughter is one of the very best things in the world. Amen.

I got wonderful letters later in the afternoon from both the counselor and the principal. I cried when I read them. It was a good cry-sort of. Bittersweet, honestly. They were beautiful...both of them assured me that he was in good hands and they were very happy to meet him and really enjoyed his personality. I enjoy his personality too so I am happy they saw how much fun he is.

Tomorrow the school faculty, my parents, the doctors at the Lawlis-Peavey Center and I will all come together on a conference call at 8:30 am to hammer out a plan for his school. The school has indicated that they will do everything that the doctors recommend. We are so very happy that they are willing to cooperate. One of the counselors told my dad that they are eager to learn from the doctors as it may help them with other children as well!

It's not ideal. My son is still a 10-hour-drive away. But he is doing better than I thought he would and that makes me happy. I miss him terribly and really don't expect to get over that. I have informed my children that they will be living in the immediate vicinity of their mother until she is not longer on the earth! I think they heard me. Probably not though! In the meantime, the "Skype-three-times-a-week" thing? Well, yeah, that's more like three-times-a-day! But it keeps us going and for now that is enough. Thank you Mother and Daddy for your willingness to help and the great job you are doing!