Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just read this wonderful Thanksgiving message from Governor Palin and couldn't resist sharing.
Hope you enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Eat Carsten Eat!

This post comes with very fresh tears.  I am thinking back to our very first days with Carsten and his eating problems that began to surface soon after he was born.  I remember even a post that Chad wrote in the NICU about trying to get him to take his bottle, I think he titled it Eat, Carsten Eat!  Well, here we are FOUR long years later and we are still saying it, but now we are saying with even more expectancy and hope than ever!  Our God is good people, for today Carsten ate a whole hot dog before school.  I can't even write that sentence without sobbing.  The emotions, the memory, the pain, the tears, the vomiting, the tube feeding, the prayers, the hopes, the waiting are all so raw and so fresh in my mind.  Carsten truly is a miracle and our God truly is the Miracle Maker.  He has brought us so far.  He has brought us through this fiery trial of feeding and we are finally seeing some victory.

I began to wonder last fall if God was going to work in this area this year.  Our first service at our church here in Fairfax was called "Hold on".  One of the worship leaders had written a new album and she sang this song and then the lesson from the pastor was all about "holding on."  I felt in my spirit the Lord was referring to Carsten's eating as my "hold on" signal.  Later on last year I read a book by Leslie Parrott called "The First Drop of Rain."  (I highly recommend this book, it was funny because it is all about spiritual paradigms related to rain and while I was reading it it was raining everyday:)
In the book she happened to talk about her little boy that had a feeding tube and feeding troubles like us.  Eventually the boy overcame them after a very long and hard journey.  I wondered if the Lord was speaking to me also saying that we would get through this too.

Now here we are today and Carsten just ate a whole meal with no pureed food.  He had a hot dog, piece of toast, some banana, and blueberries.  We have discovered that he likes ketchup and barbecue sauce.  It was so funny because he was eating his hot dog pieces after dipping them in ketchup with a fork.  So I thought, let's try banana with a fork.  Lo and behold, he ate the banana pieces after dipping them in ketchup!  Ok, I said, I don't care what you dip in ketchup as long as you eat it, AMEN?!  So for now, Carsten's repertoire is chicken nuggets, hot dogs, french fries, and toast.  He can eat all kinds of "snacky" things as long as they are contained to one bite that he can put on the side of his mouth, like a teddy graham.  It was funny because we went on a little family getaway last weekend and this is where Carsten started eating (and liking) chicken nuggets.  He started eating cheerios on our summer trip back in July.  So I told Chad I guess we're just going to have to go on family trips all the time to get him to eat more ;)))

This all started to speed up a few weeks ago and he has been slowly gaining momentum with eating.  Now I feel if we can add to his variety and textures we will be getting closer, so close I can taste it!  Last week after church I was able to say in faith that Carsten will eat lunch at Kindergarden next year, oh wow, more tears.  Again, God is good.  God is good even if Carsten never ate, or never eats, He is good all the time.  But His Goodness in the "goodness" is oh so much sweeter.

Leslie Parrott couldn't have summed it better:

"Every time I see John take a bite of salmon, or spinach, or even lick an ice cream cone, I marvel.  It's a miracle.  Two miracles, really.  We all survived the drought and, somehow, John adapted.
In the desert, after a rainfall, color explodes everywhere.  Flowers bloom overnight in response to rain.  They last for only a short time, but they make an appearance.  They celebrate.
So do I.  Grace before a meal is less a ritual than a time of true celebration.  "Give us this day our daily bread."  And thank you, REALLY, for the ability to eat it."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Carsten using the Proloquo2go

Here is a link to the video of Carsten using Proloquo2go at school.  This is the one that was submitted to the Congressman to petition for iPads in the Virginia school system.  

Carsten on Capitol Hill?!

Carsten is well into his first semester at Kings Park Elementary school in the preschool special needs program. We LOVE Mrs. Melissa his teacher and his class is full of boys, Carsten loves older boys. Carsten rides the bus to and from and goes Tuesday through Friday from 12-4. The teachers realized early on how much Carsten could understand and demonstrated a large sign vocabulary when prompted but his classmates struggled to communicate since sign language isn't universal. So they wanted to try something else with him and suggested an application on the iPad called proloquo2go. Within the first day of using this application at school Carsten was using 4 word sentences to express his needs and wants. He was able to tell the teachers what he wanted to play with, what he wanted to eat, (yes eat, that is another post!) and talk to his friends through proloquo. Well word kind of got around how he was thriving with it and other teachers began asking about Carsten and how they could get iPads for their classrooms. Mrs. Melissa's husband happens to work in Congress as a graphic designer. So she began taking videos of Carsten using the proloquo2go and put together a small paper on him and research articles to support proloquo2go. Her husband then created a finished video of Carsten using it in different settings and the whole thing has been submitted to Congressman Connelly of Virginia. They are using Carsten's success to petition for iPad distribution in the Virginia school systems. It is pretty neat how the whole thing happened and Chad and I are excited to see if it will be presented in Congress. Mrs. Melissa is keeping us updated so we can go to the open session if they play Carstens video. I will try to put a copy of the video here on the blog, and I will keep you updated on what happens. Either way, we are so proud of him and are blown away by the school systems and Mrs Melissa his wonderful teacher, they really not only see his potential but try to help him reach it as well. Go Carsten!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Falls here!!!!

Come on cold!  I'm so excited for fall this year.  I've recently decided that fall is my favorite season.  I love the feeling you get with the first cold air, winter is coming, and so is change.  I love the fall recipes like apple cider, apple crisp, soups, stews, and crock pot cooking, bring it on!  I used to hate the cold when I lived further north.  But after being in Atlanta for a year in 100+ degree weather, moving so many times in the July heat, and toting 2 kids around in hot weather, I get so excited when fall rolls around.  I also admittedly love my coat collection.  Here are a couple of my "secret" recipes.  I make the apple cider for our small group on Wednesdays and the soup I have to make when Chad is gone since he won't eat anything with the word squash in it.  Actually, I did get him to eat a whole butternut squash last year (I told him it was a sweet potato, hee hee ;)  

Apple Cider
1 gallon apple cider
1 spice container of red hots
10 cloves
3 or 4 cinnamon sticks

Percolate the cider with all of the spices on top :) Yes, the secret is the red hots.

Butternut Squash, Carrot, Ginger soup
1/2 medium butternut squash
2 TB olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 lb carrots
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 (2 in) piece ginger peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 cup heavy cream

Bake the squash cut side down in greased baking dish until fall apart tender.  Scoop out squash and discard seeds.  Heat olive oil in saucepan add onion and garlic, cook until soft.  Pour in water, add squash carrots and ginger.  Bring to boil, cook at least 20 minutes or until carrots tender.
Puree mixture into blender (something I've gotten really good at with Carsten's diet:) Should be thick and creamy.  Season with cinnamon, salt, and pepper.  Mmmmmm :)  Anybody have a favorite fall recipe, please share with me!

God at work

Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month!!!  Okay, I'm a little late this year, my sweet friend Stephanie always reminds me every year to do the 31 for 21 blogs, (31 days of blogging for Trisomy 21) well how about 1 for 21, better than nothing right?  :)  Okay take a close look at this picture.  Yeah yeah ok what's the big deal, its just a boy throwing a ball at Carsten with a bat.
But it's so much more than that.  That special day at the park, we met two boys about 7 years old that automatically "took" Carsten in and were "teaching" him how to play baseball.  I was hesitant at first as Carsten ran in between them trying to get into their game (like he usually does when any older boys are playing sports).  I always cringe and usually apologize over and over telling them that he just wants to play with them.  But this time was different, the two boys were excited about him playing with them and actually began to "teach" him how to play.  I watched (with tears in my eyes) for about 45 minutes while these boys (with the most patience I've ever seen from 7 year olds) showed him how to play.  Finally after all that time, he hit a ball and the two boys went crazy screaming yeah Carsten yeah!!  It was such a special moment for me to see the goodness in those boys, sent straight from above.  Moments like those give me so much hope for the future.  If that ain't some Down Syndrome awareness encouragement I don't know what is:)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Savoring my kisses while they last!

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Mall train with Nana

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Just wanna eat her she's so cute!

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Carsten Chad and Papo

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Carsten and Grandaddy

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Mimi at Aunt Jacquis house

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Love this

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Chucke cheese

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Starting to warm up to the costume people.

Six Flags

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Water bug

Dallas trip

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At Chads aunts house in her pool! Aunt Nae and Nana in the pic.

Waikiki Beach

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Views from the top of the crater of Waikiki beach where we stayed.

Diamondhead crater

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This is the second time in my life Chad has dragged me up this crater! Ha! But the views are breathtaking and totally worth it. It is about a 45 min hike up. We were hiking up this when we heard about the earthquake at home in DC, crazy! Whe we got home there were pictures that had fallen all over the house. I was a little disappointed because I've never felt one before.

Hawaii! This is the life (or should I say USED to be the life!;))

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer surprise trips

Yep! I'm still not sure if it was real or a dream but I think I was in Hawaii for 6 days two weeks ago. We did a summer circle to see Chads family, drop the kids off at my folks and headed out to Hawaii for a few days. Chad trip was half work and mine was ALL leisure! I still really can't believe I got to go and I think for the first time I understood the word "vacation" and took it literally by relaxing and rejuvenating. The trip was almost as unforgettable as Carstens face as he ran towards us at the airport after that week, it was priceless and we didn't even get it on camera:(. More pics to come of our trip there and to Dallas to see Chads family and Cmans first day of school yesterday! We were gone nearly three weeks so I'm still getting caught up and back into a routine. Hopefully I can get back into blogging soon with updates on Carsten and Chloe. Stay tuned....


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While they were doing this at my parents house........


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We were doing THIS in Hawaii!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Williamsburg and Virginia Beach trip

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Family pic

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This was the only pic we managed to get of the four of us, a kind soul took it on the pier at Virginia Beach. The kids enjoyed Busch Gardens and Water Country USA the best so we'll probably skip the beach next year and just go for the amusement parks!

Fun at the beach!

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Love him!

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Pure elation

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Chad and I love this picture and laugh over and over again at his face!

Turns out he's an amphibian

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Jumping into the pool! Can you believe his school PT said he might not ever jump?!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"I wa Babuuuus"

Yep!  This is what I heard come out of Carsten's mouth last Monday at speech therapy, "I want bubbles!"
Some of the first words I've ever heard my little boy speak, can you say tears please?!!!  He also said "apple" and "blow".  "Dada" is an everyday occurrence now around 6:00 when the outside door handle starts to turn.
And let me tell you he sure isn't going to let his sister get away with saying anything if by golly he doesn't try to say it too!  So yes, many things have been happening at the Bridges house, many good things:)

I wrote this little poem Monday after I heard him talk

 My son said bubbles today,
it nearly took my breath away.
I never thought tears would come from such a simple phrase,
but this is the pure way of God.
A gift he's given if I just open my eyes to see.
You may just think its a delay,
but I see miracles like this everyday.
So much joy from simplicity,
an innocence only heaven knows,
but I've been given a glimpse
inside Kingdoms gate,
through the mouth of my babe.    

Cman eating update

Wow!  Three posts in one afternoon!  This is what happens when you take your kids to a splash water park in the morning and (secretly) wear them out, ha ha mommies are so tricky :)  Quick update on Carsten's eating.  His new feeding therapist is absolutely wonderful!!  She is actually trying to feed him verses past therapists that never get much beyond the chewy tubes.  Last Monday he ate about 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on crackers.  He is eating blueberries at home now with a little help getting them to the side to chew them.  He is eating cheeto puffs on his own pretty much!  This is BIG ya'll and God has brought us so far!  Even though we still have so far to go there is hope and we are encouraged with the progress.  He is now drinking all of his milk through a straw (with a little encouragement) and I no longer have to manually give him drinks.  He is still on pureed food which I have to blend daily and feed him but I am just recently adding a "snack" to his meals like 15 blueberries or 2 pieces of graham crackers.  I think once the skills come the challenge is going to be programming him to actually like and/or want food.  I believe he knows now when his body needs water and will drink quite a bit throughout the day, but the food part will be harder.  So, big big progress and much to be excited about but also a journey ahead of us.  I have to look at it like a marathon, it is long and sometimes slow but we WILL get to the finish line!  I often tear up thinking about the day that Carsten can finally eat on his own and how amazing it will be to look back and see God's faithfulness and I pray I will NEVER take for granted the simple things such as going through a drive through or flying on an airplane, or going to the beach and being able to just throw him a banana, I believe it will come to pass!
Please keep praying for our little guy as the Lord brings him to mind, he is a miracle in the making!   

Growing roots

The dark roots in my hair are not the only roots that have been growing lately.  I'm feeling my roots grow down deeper into this city, this life, these friends, Carsten's schools, his therapies, church, our beautiful little lake I get to walk the kids around everyday, and pretty much everything about this place.  And being a military wife (and a follower of Christ in general), this is NOT good!  I just feel like it is and has been an answer to so many prayers after a year of drought in Atlanta where I didn't have many friends or outlets.  I confessed this to Chad the other day and he pretty much told me I better not water my tree quite as much so that my roots don't continue to grow because we could and can be uprooted at any time.  Well, I understand his advice, but I'm going to continue to drink the water from this tree in faith.  I'm going to take hold of the blessings He has given and try, somehow to hold them loosely, ready to be replanted at any time.  I have seen that God is faithful even in the droughts and that water is always coming if you can just hold on in your thirst.  So I will drink in the blessings and the water He has given and I will drink enough to keep me going during the next drought.  I will let my roots grow and delight in it knowing that if I am torn up from this ground that there is another sturdy ground waiting to take me and nourish me.  It might not always be the kind of soil I want but it will always be the kind of soil that my soul needs.  As for now, I'm simply thankful for the kind of soil He has provided and pray that I, in return, can be a life giving tree in this place.        


Girls night!!  Oh yeah, it actually happened and here's the proof!!  We were seriously investigating a chocolate shop in the city to make sure it would be a prime spot for a wedding shower we're throwing.  After we were forced to try the wine and chocolates we decided it would be the perfect venue.  Can you see how giddy I am?  Chocolate, friends, wine, city, even iced hot chocolate drinks, it doesn't get any better, especially when you've been cleaning poop diaper after poop diaper in the suburbs all day.  Thanks hun for watching the kiddos!  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Schools out!

School is officially out for the summer and Cman is done with his first year of preschool at Cardinal Forest! We had to say goodbye to our favorite teacher Mrs. Ginger because Carsten will go to another elementary school next year called Kings Park. He was supposed to go there this year but they were full. And as it always happens, we (or should I say I) became attached to Mrs Ginger and now I don't want him to change schools. So in a desperate last minute attempt I tried to find another house in the Cardinal Forest school district but it just wasn't going to happen so I said my teary goodbyes and now off we go to start a new adventure next year. Now I am excited about Kings Park and have heard rave reviews, but we sure will miss Mrs Ginger, a southern military transplant like us that loves the Lord and sees her profession as a calling not just a job, oh how we were (are) blessed.
Carsten wrote Mrs Ginger a little goodbye poem for the last day :)
I love my teacher Mrs Ginger,
I am very sad that we have to part.
She was my first you see and she gave me a head start.
She taught me to eat, and talk, and play,
with her I had so much fun everyday.
She encouraged me and pushed me to learn,
I got better at waiting and taking my turn.
Many teachers will come and go,
But you will always hold a special place in my heart I know!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


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Happy Easter!


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Easter Weekend fun!


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Doesnt get any cuter than this!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

NOT playing catch up

So okay yes it has been four months since I updated our blog, oops!  I do apologize to our faithful bridgesbunch blog readers (all two of you probably:)  We have been crazy busy and enjoying our new life here in Virginia so I guess it's a good thing I haven't been blogging.  We had a crazy marathon Christmas in Dallas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas visiting family. We have also had visits here from my parents and Chad's family so we are just about experts with the "dc tour" by now and I can even tell you what and where the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monuments are!:)  
Let's see, my big boy Carsten started school!!!  He is in an afternoon preschool class four days a week and is thriving beautifully.  He is loving it and has lots of "girl"friends that Miss Ginger his teachers says "asks for him" constantly when he's gone:)  Chloe turned one on February 11th, unbelievable right!  She is walking around everywhere and even saying some words, "dadda" is a favorite.  Her and her brother are smitten with each other as long as she isn't playing with one of HIS toys.  Carsten has been trying to talk and has said dada and bye bye in the last week!  Chloe is turning out to be quite the little signer as well and is learning new ones everyday.  Carsten has started with a new feeding therapist last week who I am VERY excited about and anxious to see some progress with.  He has made a little progress just seeing the kids eat at school but feeding is still a struggle and he is still on a pureed diet.  He had a new set of tubes put in his ears at Walter Reed Medical Center a couple of weeks ago and an adenoid revision, we're hoping will open out his ears and assist in his hearing and speech for more progress.    
We are settled into our routines here, loving our suburb Burke, and enjoying having some military friends around.  We love our church Fairfax community church and host a small group that Chad facilitates on Wednesday nights.  The Lord has given me a great friend Erica who is in our small group and also has a son with a disability.  We are incredibly blessed here and I will definitely be sad to say goodbye to this place when that day comes, but I'm not even thinking about that now and hoping it's still far off.  There are so many other things I want to do and get involved in, however, my days are pretty much just filled up with these two little wonderfully and fearfully made creations and when my head hits the pillow at night, it hits it hard!  Chad is enjoying his job and is working with national guard units all over the country that are deploying to Afghanistan, proud military wife here as always!  Well that's about it for us for now, I will try to be a better blogger but I'm not making any promises.  I even signed off of facebook (gasp!) temporarily, I guess I just felt like I couldn't keep up with all of the online "obligations" so I'm taking a little break but I will be back to blog again hopefully before summer, ha!  We miss all of our Arkansas folk!  

Hugs from the "southern" east coasters!