It's almost here!

Well, it's almost here...Christmas, that is. I am excited about Christmas, mainly to see how our kids (and Jeremiah) respond to the mountain of gifts under our tree. Cate knows who Santa is (sort of) now and enjoys looking at the tree and the lights outside. I'm not sure if Will knows what's going on, but he will have a blast opening all his gifts and then playing with the paper and boxes. I'm not excited that I have to work on Christmas. It is supposed to be out-of-house call, meaning that I go in, see the patients, and go home on my pager. However, my out-of-house call shift yesterday was anything but at home. Luckily, the clinic isn't open on Christmas, and most people try not to come to the ER on Christmas unless they're super sick. We're having lunch at home. We were invited to one of my boss' house, which is super sweet of her, but being on call and traveling too far from home makes me nervous. Anyway, I'm very proud of myself because I purchased all the food for our Christmas feast for the low low price of $37! Woohoo! I've learned to shop very thriftily (if that's a word) and use coupons, price matching, etc. to save some pretty decent money. I'm very sad that we won't be able to spend the day with our family. We'll be thinking of them all day and probably talk to them on the phone several times during the day. I'm praying for a day of excitement in the morning with presents, then a quick time of rounding at the hospital, yummy lunch, and quiet evening at home. Anyone who wants to pray for the same thing certainly can. I hope all of you have a very merry Christmas, get everything you put on your list, get to spend lots of time with the people you love, and spend a few moments reflecting on the true meaning of the day. We love you, and Merry Christmas! ~ The Saunders Family

Second Video of Cate

Here is the second video. Enjoy!


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Video of Cate Singing

Enjoy this video of Cate singing some songs she learned at school. I couldn't get them to upload to Facebook.

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Thanksgiving 2009 - Part 1

We made it to Montgomery yesterday to spend Thanksgiving with our families. The trip was pretty uneventful. Before we left Tulsa on Saturday, we took the kids to Sears to have their picture made with Santa Claus. Cate freaked out. She cried and cried, and we didn't get any pictures. She wouldn't take pictures with Santa, without Santa, in the other room with the festive background...she wasn't having it. So, after waisting basically an entire day in Tulsa (we could have left Friday afternoon if we hadn't stayed for the pictures), we hit the road. While we were driving, I got a phone call from my wonderful friend who was watching Baxter, our dog, on Saturday. She went to let him out, and he jumped the fence. She looked everywhere but wasn't able to find him. We made it into town on Sunday afternoon, and Will and Cate were very glad to see Gran and Papa. We got to visit with my brother and sister and have a great dinner together. My sweet friend has visited with our neighbors, driven around our neighborhood, etc. in an effort to find Baxter. Unfortunately, we still haven't had any contacts or news about him. We did put out a Home Again alert (the microchip thing), called our vet, and notified the local animal shelter. My friend is going by the shelter tomorrow to see if they have him. Cate is getting her hair cut tomorrow. It will only be her third hair cut ever. She is getting "a big girl bob." I'm really excited because I know how cute she's going to look. Then it's off to church for the traditional EHBC Thanksgiving dinner cooked by the one and only Al Steineker. After church I get to visit with my best friend Melanie and her husband. It's going to be a very busy week, but it will be a lot of fun. I'm excited that we're going to get to be together with all our families on Thanksgiving day. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with your families and friends and that God blesses you with many things to be thankful for.

Minnie Mouse

These are some pictures of Cate in her Minnie Mouse costume for Halloween. She LOVES Minnie Mouse. The first picture is the night before her class party - she just had to wear her ears. The second is one of her trying on her costume and checking it all out. The bottom picture is of her and some of her classmates in her preschool class during their Halloween party.

Times, they are a changin!

Well, as I was informed on Thursday, I have 7 months and 3 weeks left of residency. Yes, I am excited. And I'm even more excited about starting my fellowship and spending my days at work doing what I truly love. This does, however, bring along with it a lot of change. This is what I'm not so excited about. Those of you who know me know I don't do so well with change. I'm excited to be in Little Rock, where we'll only be about 8 hours from Montgomery. We'll also have access to any and all doctors Will might need. I do have a few friends there, so that will make the transition easier as well. My biggest fear and concern right now is finding a house. You see, we have to find a house in the right neighborhood so Will can go to be best special ed public elementary school. This has proven to be difficult so far. All of the houses are small and expensive, not a good combination. We're praying for a 3 (preferably4) bedroom and 2 (or even 2.5) bathroom house with at least as much space as we have now (about 2000 sq.ft.). We'd love more space but I'm not going to press my luck. We also need a fenced back yard and a landlord that will allow pets. We're also having to deal with getting Will's schooling arranged from Tulsa. He's having testing done in March, and then we'll be trying to get the IEP meeting set up. This is all hard to do from 4 hours away. I'm praying that my attendings will be lenient and allow me to go to Little Rock when I need to. We'll also be traveling there over the next 3 months or so for Will's MRIs and neurosurgery and neurology appointments. I'm also praying God will provide a good preschool for Cate. She is doing so well in the one she's in now, and she really needs it for the socialization with other kids. Finally, we're praying God will provide a church home like we have here in Woodlake. God is going mighty things at Woodlake, and we love Pastor Jamie. We're really sad that we'll be leaving this summer, but are going to enjoy every minute of until we're gone. Then, we are believing God will provide the same thing for us in Little Rock. Please continue to pray for our family and all of these needs that I've mentioned. We love you all and appreciate your support more than you'll ever know. Hope to hear from you soon. And, hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving. Love you!

Good news, bad news

Well, Mini Laps is over and it was great! Thanks to all of your support, Will raised a little over $6400! We exceeded our goal of $5000 thanks to all of you. We are so grateful to have your prayers, support, and concern for Will. He is doing well at school. This is his last year at The Little Light House, a thought that makes me want to cry. We will be moving to Little Rock in June, and he will start kindergarten there in the fall. We're on the look-out for a good public school with good special ed for Will there, so if any of you know of good special ed elementary schools in the Little Rock area, please let me know.
I was able to go to Cate's speech therapy today (for the first time in a long time). She has really been doing well at home with her speech. She's up to probably 150 words and is using 3-4 word sentences and phrases. She is not, however, talking at school or church. Her speech pathologist was hoping that this was just part of the usual progression of a child with expressive speech disorder, so we waited. She told us today that she thinks Cate has selective mutism, which is a disorder where the child talks and interacts in one environment but doesn't in another environment. She told me not to freak out or go googling it, and I'm not, but I also had to let it out. You guys are always so supportive and pray for us, so I wanted to let you know so you could pray for Cate. We're trying some techniques that are supposed to help her, and her prognosis is very good according to her speech pathologist. We are going to see her pediatrician to get the official diagnosis, but our speech path specializes in expressive speech disorders and this area, and says she meets all the criteria for diagnosis.
Anyway, that's the update for now on the kids. I'm in the NICU at OSU MC. I'm done with wards at Saint Francis!!! Hooray!!! I have several electives coming up and then will start my fellowship in developmental pediatrics in Little Rock in July. I'll be going to the AOA convention in New Orleans Nov. 1-5, so if you're in the area, come see me! That's all the excitement in our lives right now. Hope to hear from you guys soon.

Will's 5th Birthday






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Long Overdue Update

I am the absolute worst about posting updates, and I apologize. Well, Will and I went to the neurosurgeon on the 25th, and we got great news. Rather than do surgery right away, he decided to wait 6 months and do another MRI to see if the syringomyelia has changed at all. I was surprised but very happy to hear this. Will started his final year at the Little Light House last week. He is in a new room (the purple room) and doing well. They are in full swing with their big fall fundraiser, Mini Laps. If you want to know more about Mini Laps and help Will raise money, go to this website and you can donate directly from there: http://littlelighthouse.donordepot.com/civicrm/contribute/pcp/info?reset=1&id=45
Cate started her second year of preschool at Highland Park Learning School. She is in the green room this year. There are 5 kids from her class last year and 2 new kids in the class. I think she really enjoys it, and I know it's good for her development. She also goes to the Little Gym once a week for "gymnastics" class.
I am in my last month at Saint Francis Children's Hospital. It is so stinkin' busy. It's just me and one intern. We round everyday until 6:oopm. We are averaging 26 patients each day - which is a lot with just two residents. I come home super tired and fall asleep on the couch most nights.
Jeremiah is still staying home with the kids. He is so excited about college football, but he's not very happy about the way Alabama is playing tonight.
We got a new pastor at church, and I think he's going to be really good for Woodlake. He is young and has a family. He is a wonderful speaker and has a heart for the lost. He also has a passion for passing on our faith to the next generation. It makes me even more sad to think about leaving Woodlake next summer when we move to Little Rock.
Anyway, that's all I have for now. Hope all is well with all of you. I'm going to post some pictures from Will's birthday for you to enjoy. Hopefully I'll be back with another update soon.

Spine Surgery!

We got Will's MRI results yesterday. His brain is fine, but there is something on his spine called a syrinx. A syrinx is basically a fluid filled cyst or tumor (not cancerous) that forms on the spinal cord. It can cause all sorts of problems, and the doctors think it may be responsible for some of Will's signs and symptoms. His neurologist called us today and said the neurosurgeon had looked at the films. He agreed that it was a syrinx and not a normal variant as we had hoped it might be. He also said we need to be seen in neurosurgery clinic soon to arrange treatment. The only treatment I can find is surgery to remove it. His symptoms probably won't change as the sugery tends not to reverse things but does prevent any worsening. I'm expecting to hear next week about when he'll be going back to Little Rock to see the neurosurgeon, and I assume that we will get a date for surgery then. This, of course, brings about lots of things to pray for. So, please pray for the following:
1. Will's symptoms don't get any worse before this can be taken care of.
2. We can get seen and scheduled in a timely manner.
3. I can get someone to cover my shifts at the hospital so I can be in Little Rock with Will.
4. God will provide financially for all of the medical bills this will bring.
5. We can have enough help with Cate and the house while we're gone.
6. Peace for all of us, especially me, and I worry about things that could go wrong before, during, or after the surgery.
7. A quick recovery for Will.
8. That nothing else goes wrong.
This has been an extremely trying week. We've lost Will's medicaid. We'll probably be losing his SSI. Social security is asking us to repay $5700 of "overpayment" that is their fault. Will has been sick with intermittent fevers. Work is super stressful, and now this. I feel like my life is best described by the phrase "when it rains it pours!" I feel completely overwhelmed, sad, worried, stressed...I didn't mean for this to turn into a pity party. My main concern is my son. Anyway, I'll post more when I have some news. Until then....

Trip Home

We have spent the last week at home in Alabama with our family and have had a wonderful time. We came to town for me to be in a wedding of two of my friends from med school/residency. The crazy thing is that the groom is from Alabama, but I didn't meet him until residency in Oklahoma. The wedding was beautiful and we had a nice one-night vacation from our kids. We love them very much, but as you all know, everyone needs a break now and then. We've also been able to visit with some other friends and family. It has been a very nice week. We are leaving tomorrow morning and heading to Little Rock. We're going to visit a school there on Monday that is for special needs kids that we're considering for Will when we move there next summer. Then it's home to Tulsa. Sorry this is such a short update. Hopefully there will be more exciting stuff to share soon.

Neuro Update

Surely by now you have come to expect the 4-6 week breaks between my posts. My appolgies. Life is crazy busy, and I've just come off two straight months at the hospital. Anyway...
Will and I left Tulsa this morning at 5:30 to drive to Little Rock for his appointment with his neurologist. The drive went well; he slept for the first 2-2.5 hours. Once we were in with the doctor, she began to notice some changes in his neurological exam, changes that weren't good. His deep tendon reflexes are increased from his last visit. He also had some motion that shouldn't have been there (when she checked reflexes on one leg, the other leg moved). Then I told her about how I've seen Will's leg move/twitch spontaneously 2 or 3 times over the last few months. All of this plus his very unsteady gate lead her to believe that lab work and imaging studies were needed. She acted like none of this was a particularly good thing. She drew the lab today to check for chromosome problems and other genetic issues (apparently the technology is much better since the last time he had this done) and also a muscle enzyme level to see why he is having some weakness. She also wants us to come back to Little Rock to have an MRI of Will's head and entire spine done. This will all be done either under general anesthesia or at least sedation. Point being, it will be an entire day affair, and I don't know when yet. It is so hard for me to get time off to take him there, but we'll work it out. After all of this, it left me scared and worried. What if we're wrong about what we think is going on with Will and it is actually something worse? What if it is progressive? It just doesn't make since. He's been doing so well with his communication lately, but his motor stuff has been off. I don't know what to think. I mean, I just want an answer. But, I want the answer to be something we can deal with. Anyway, please pray for Will. Pray that the lab tests will come back quickly and that they will give us answers. Pray that the MRI's will get scheduled quickly and at a time that I can go and be with him. I guess that's all for now. I'll update more when I get results.

I know....I know

I'm sorry I've been such a slacker about blogging. I've been on wards (in the hospital) at Saint Francis. With my 12-13 hour days, I'm so tired when I get home that I don't even think about posting. And, to make things worse, I'm on wards again for May. Woohoo! Anyway....
Will started taking Focalin XR (an ADHD medicine) about a month ago. We also increased his seizure medicine. Apparently he was have several seizures everyday, but Jeremiah didn't realize that what he was doing was seizing, so it went on and on until I figured it out. (Will's seizures aren't the kind where you fall down and shake all over.) Anyway, since we've made those adjustments to his medications, he has been doing AWESOME! His teachers say he is vocalizing more and using more signs. He's also able to match a few simple pictures - something he's never done before - and make some associations. Easter week they were learning about the Easter story. His teacher held up a picture of the cross, and Will pointed to the Christian flag and soluted! I cried when I found out. I'm just so thrilled he is making progress. He has also started saying his fourth word - cookie! he learned this one thanks to his little sister who is always asking for cookies. Will's seizures are back under control since the increase in the medicine. Knock on wood, he hasn't been sick recently and is doing really well overall. We may start trying to potty train soon, depending on recommendations from his teachers and therapists. Keep us in your prayers about that.
Cate is doing great too. She has been in speech therapy for about 3-4 months now, and her vocabulary is exploding. She still doesn't have as many words as she should for her age, but she is catching up. I swear it's like she has a new word almost everyday. She hasn't been sick recently either (knock on wood again!). Her Singulair and Flovent (asthma and allergy medications) really help her. She recently turned two and does at time act like a "terrible two." She is generally a very good natured child. She is really funny too. She loves to dance, and dances to American Idol with me every week. She also dances everytime the I-Phone commercial comes on. She had her two year old well child check 2 weeks ago and is growing well. She weighed 27 pounds and is 34 and 1/4 inches tall. She has definitely made up for that time period when she was "failing to thrive."
Jeremiah is still a stay-at-home dad and loving it. I'm sure he doesn't love it when I complain about the house being messy though! He is so good with the kids, and that really is the most important thing. He also helps me a lot by feeding them before I get home from work, getting them to school and therapy, etc. I do wish he was a better housekeeper, but hey, if I have to pick between a good dad and a good housekeeper, dad wins out every time.
I'm wrapping up my second year of residency. I officially become a third year on July 1. It will be my last year of residency, and boy am I ready. I have senioritis badly! I found out last week that I got the fellowship position in Little Rock. This is my first choice, so I'm really excited. I can't wait to only be doing development and behavior and not have to worry about all the other stuff I don't like as much. We're researching schools for Will. That will really determine where we live, especially if he winds up going to public school. I want him to be at the school with the best special education program in Little Rock. There is also a private school for special needs kids that we're looking into. It's fairly expensive, but definitely not what they could charge for all the services the kids get. I also have a friend in Little Rock who I went to med school with, so that will help. Her church has a ministry in their children's department just for special needs kids. How cool is that?! We're going to visit for sure. We'll be coming home to Alabama in June. My best friend from med school is getting married, and her fiance is from Alabama. How crazy is that? I mean, she's from Oklahoma, he's from Alabama but is doing his residency in Tulsa. The world really is small. Well, I'd better run. I have to get up at 5:10 in the morning. Hope you all are well, and I'll try my best to get at least one blog in this month...but no promises!

Zoo & Aquarium Pictures





Doing Great!

Well, Will had his surgery on Monday, and he did very well. He tolerated the anesthesia wonderfully and only had one seizure that night. He still has some pain when I change his diaper and wipe him, but otherwise, you'd never even know he had anything done.
My parents were here this week for spring break. We had a wonderful week with them. We went to the zoo and the aquarium. We also did some shopping, ate out, and all the other fun stuff you do when you're on "vacation." Will and Cate always have a good time with Gran and Poppy (or whatever the will eventually be called).
The kids are doing well in their respective therapies too. At Cate's speech therapy appointment the therapist told us that she was doing well and that she was sure that one day things would click and she'd just start talking all the time. She also said Cate was doing some things, like color matching, that are advanced for her age. Will's occupational therapist said she's noticing a better attention span and improvement with his fine motor skills. Praise the Lord for their advancements.
I start back to work tomorrow. This is my last week on the developmental rotation and then it's back to the grind at Saint Francis. Those days are long and tiring and don't leave much time to do anything else. I'm at the hospital for April and May, so say a little prayer for me and my family who will be doing without me more then they have this month. I'll do my best to post one more time before the madness of the hospital starts, and after that, no promises!

Please Pray

I have 2 things I'd like you all to pray about.
1. Cate was sick today. She was weak and very mopey. She vomited several times, and her breath has had an acetone smell to it. It is probably nothing, but the doctor in me worries about diabetes. My reasoning behind this is that most kids are initially diagnosed with diabetes after a period of vomiting and a fruity/acetone smell to their breath. Like I said, I'm probably worrying about nothing, and I know too much for my own good. Nevertheless, we do have a family history of diabetes, so please pray that Cate only had a stomach bug and that she'll be fine.
2. Will is having another surgery on Monday. This surgery is to bring his undescended testicle down. (Sorry if that is too descriptive for you!) Hopefully this will be his last surgery...at least for a while. It sill be surgery #4, and he's done really well with the others. Pray that he tolerates the anesthesia and that it doesn't cause any seizures.
Thanks for your interest in our lives and all of the support you give my family through your prayers. I'll update next week.

Our Medical Issues Never End

Will can't seem to be well, and it's totally frustrating. He had an ear infection, then got a yeast diaper rash from the antibiotics. It took cream and oral medicine, then another ointment to get rid of it. Now he has strep throat and is on another antibiotic. I'm praying he doesn't get another diaper rash because he's supposed to have surgery on his "boy parts" in 2 weeks. So far so good on that. Also, he's never had eczema, but suddenly he has a terrible outbreak on his face, arms, hands and legs. I swear, he can't catch a break.
Cate's speech is really coming along. She now know 8 of her body parts (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hair, hands, feet, and belly). She is also saying more words almost every day. I think speech therapy and preschool are really helping her. (They better because they aren't cheap!) She's even starting to put 2 word sentences together like "I go" and "want bow."
Both kids are really starting to learn to use their fork. This is especially a big deal for Will because we've been working on it for over 2 years. I've attached a video of the kids eating dinner tonight - with their forks!
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Uugghhh!

Today has been one of those days. You know, where nothing can go right and you just keep getting bad news? Well, this morning when we dropped Will off at school, his teacher told me that he had to go to the principal's office yesterday and that his hitting is really getting out of hand. This makes me so sad, because I don't know that Will understands that hitting is bad. I also don't think he understands that the kids he's hitting can't fight back. Then, we go to get our taxes done, and they tell us we have to have our social security cards. We've been looking for them for several days and can't find them. We called , and they place that does our taxes said if we came to the same location we used last year, we wouldn't need our cards. We got there, and they said we had to have them. So then we go to the social security office and wait an hour and a half to apply for new cards and get receipts that we can use at the tax place. Once we finally got to go up to the window, they told us the shot records we brought for the kids' ID's (this is what they told us to bring), weren't the right kind of shot records and that we would have to come back once we had the right kind of shot records. They wouldn't accept the official birth certificates I had with me. I was so mad. I just don't understand why people have to be that way. Anyway, I just really needed to vent. Please pray that things get better in my life because right now I'm stressed to the max. Hopefully my next note will be more uplifting and light hearted.

New Van

I'm sure I've posted about our wreck that happened at the end of December. Well, Jeremiah has been driving a 1996 Crown Victoria that belongs to our Sunday school teachers for a month now. Today, we got a new van! It's awesome! It is a 2008 Chrysler Town & Country. The only thing it doesn't have that we really wanted is a DVD player, but we're going to get one when we get our tax refund. Jeremiah and I are both really excited about it. It's pretty and big and will be great for driving around with the kids. Anyway, that's all for now. I start night shift Monday, so I'm not sure how much I'll post over the next few weeks.

Little Rock Rocked!

Well, today is my last day on my developmental pediatrics rotation in Little Rock, and I have had an awesome time! Everyone has been really great and encouraging about me coming here for my fellowship. One of the psychologists asked me this morning if they had promised me the position yet, and when I told her no, she said, "Well, I'll start talking to Jill (the program director) about that them." Things look very encouraging. I had dinner with the program director and the two fellows and had a really good time. Everyone here is really nice and seemed very excited that I wanted to do the fellowship.
There is also a lot of stuff in Little Rock for Will. They have every type of pediatric subspecialist there is and also have places for outpatient therapies. There is a special needs private school that goes kindergarten through 12th grade, but I don't know how much it cost yet. Anyway, if we came here, I think Will would have all of his needs met. I also have a friend who lives here. She is the person I've been living with for the past 2 weeks. We went to medical school together, and the is at UAMS in Little Rock doing her residency in anasthesia. She will be completing her 4th and final year of residency my first year of fellowship, so we'd be in town together for at least one year. It will be nice to have someone to help us get to know Little Rock. The church she goes to even has a program just for special needs kids! How cool is that?
Cate had her speech evaluation yesterday, and she tested to be delayed in her speech. I kind of suspected it, but she had been saying new words over the last month or two, so i was hopiung I was wrong. She'll start speech therapy soon and probably go at least once at week. It stinks because she doesn't have medicaid like Will does, so we'll have to pay out-of-pocket for some of the costs. It's okay though because we want what's best for her. I'll update more after her first session. Hope all is well with all of you. More to come...

Happy New Year!

Well, it's 2009, and so far so good. I had yesterday and today off from work and have been able to spend some quality time with my family. The kids have even been sleeping relatively late, so I haven't had to wake up incredibly early. Hooray! I'm trying not to make resolutions for this year but rather goals for myself and my family, that with the grace of God we'll be able to meet. One of our big goals is to potty train the kids. I think Cate will be fairly easy to train because she's started hiding when she goes to the bathroom. I'm not so sure about Will, but I'm hoping that maybe if Cate is doing it that he'll be interested in it too. Another goal is to get a contract for a fellowship position - specifically in Little Rock. I'm going there on Sunday to spend 2 weeks, and I'm hoping I'll make a good impression and that maybe even this early talks will start about the position. I'm also hoping for a healthy year for our family. That hasn't started out so well. Jeremiah and the kids were in a wreck on Monday, and he has a pretty bad burn on his right wrist. I'm hoping that it heals well and soon, but it's looking like it's trying to get infected. Will is also going to have surgery in March, so it won't be a fantastic year, but hopefully it won't be too bad. Well, that's all I have for now. Hopefully, I'll have great news about potty training soon. Happy New Year!