Monday, April 20, 2009

The Storm has Passed

We got great news about Brennan today! It's been a while since I posted an update about him, so you may want to refresh your memory by clicking here and here. I mentioned in my previous Brennan update that putting this puzzle together was a bit like putting together a puzzle of a bunch of spilled candy and doing it without the box. Only now it's as if I just realized I just needed to turn the pieces over for it to all come clear. OK, enough intrigue and metaphor: Brennan's neurologist called today with the results of his EEG that he had over a month ago (finally!); everything's clear! Before, he was showing subtle epileptic activity, but now, even knowing what to look for, there's nothing there! No epileptic activity, no seizures, nothing. Just plain-jane vanilla brain waves. She thinks it may have been one of the medicines he was on to treat his supposed bipolar.

His psychiatrist rescinded the bipolar diagnosis a while back and replaced it with anxiety. Thankfully, we've been able to manage that with weekly therapy sessions and without medicine. He still struggles with temper outbursts, but I think it's getting better. You can almost see the wheels turning in his head when something makes him mad. He's fighting his demons to determine which side will win. That's a huge step forward! Of course the true test will be when his mother gets back, since that's where he's had the hardest time controling his outbursts. I'm convinced it will be better, and perhaps (hopefully), this separation has been a healing rain of sorts.

On top of his weekly psych therapy, he's getting weekly occupational therapy. Brennan's incredibly talented in some ways, like sports and math, but has problems in multi-sensory environments and with real-world problem-solving. His occupational therapist specializes in that sort of therapy, so we're hopeful that will ease some frustration he may be having over "simple things". He's at least having fun! He gets to do things like build obstacle courses and test them out and play with putty that makes bathroom noises when you squeeze it. What more could an 8-year-old boy ask for?

We are so absolutely thankful that yet another burden has been lifted. Brennan still has a fair amount of therapy ahead of him, but we're now convinced that there's nothing extremely serious or harmful wrong with him. Praise God! He is good!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rock You Like a Hurricane

Our family loves the Wii. And last weekend, I had the chance to try out a game I was sure I would love but hadn't yet played: Rock Band. What made it even sweeter was that Lauren loved it, too!

I got to babysit Lauren all morning while Cristi went out shopping, and she wanted to play, not once, not twice, but three times!! Well, being the good dad, I couldn't really turn her down, could I? We jammed to Bon Jovi, Nirvana, and a couple of others. When Cristi got back, she said, "I see Daddy babysits different than Mommy!" Yup!

Of course, then I got Cristi in on it, and we all played together: Me on drums, Cristi on the axe, and Lauren wailing on the mic! I loved it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ridin' the Waves

OK, so this is, like, so last century by now, but I wanted to share pics of our trip to Great Wolf Lodge. We went down with some friends of ours, the Leonards, with their three kids, and we had a blast! It was our fourth time down there, and it just never gets old.

The lobby

The wave pool

Addison, Brennan, Vanessa, and I coming off the Howlin' Tornado

Disciplining Brennan with water torture

Splash down!

My model

All boy...

The Wolf Den

Dancin' the Night Away

Teaching Brennan to boogy board

Good learner!

Great time!

Count Your Blessings (Reprise)

Last week was a tough week.

Lauren seemed to be declining again. She "just wasn't quite right" as Cristi described it to me. She was also falling a lot -- like her legs were just giving out underneath her. That was certainly a disturbing new development. The doctors were beginning to get concerned. Of course we're always concerned that she'll start going d0wnhill before she gets her heart.

Work wasn't going well. I have two main programs I'm responsible for. One is already on life support, and started getting worse. The other one was going fine, but then an organization I work with decided to start throwing a fit about stuff I didn't think was that excitable.

I was starting to get nervous about finding a house. We thought we found one, but it looked like it was going to fall through. Then, instead of going to Philadelphia to see Cristi and Lauren, I'd have to stay here looking at houses...and I really missed Cristi.

The kids were off to Georgia with Opa and Oma, and I was left by myself. I absolutely HATE being by myself. I wound up working late every night only to come home to work that needed to be done around the house. Then stay up late, get up early, repeat.

The stress was mounting to the point that I just wasn't sure how much longer I could take it. Everyone always talks about how positive we are. I do try to look for the positive --to have joy -- in every situation...and in most cases, it helps. But it didn't this time. Little annoyances just kept happening -- things that ordinarily wouldn't be that big of a deal. But they were this time. The veneer had cracked, and I feared I had somehow lost God's protection and comfort. I feared that others might be disappointed that "the Schwambs who are so strong" hadn't cracked the code on perpetual peace after all. How can I encourage others when I've no longer got the calm assurance that all is good? I actually felt a bit like Elijah when he was hiding in a cave, running from Jezebel. He said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:10). Okay, so I didn't really feel like people were trying to kill me, but I sure felt the kind of stress that Elijah felt...and it's okay.

God calmed Elijah with a gentle whisper. He calmed me with the gentle whisper of friendship and prayer. It was then that things started looking up. I went to praise team rehearsal last Wednesday, and it was good to be around people, and good to be prayed over for my stress. My spirits began to lift. My kids would be back that weekend. Two days later, I got notified we got the house, which meant I could go to Philadelphia -- two more weights lifted. Lauren stopped falling, and today seems to have her energy back. I briefed my 3-star yesterday on my program with so many issues and got kudos for a good brief. And, Brennan passed his milk challenge yesterday. Wow! So much relief over the last several days. Life is definitely good again.

And God continues to be faithful.

Cristi posted a new blog entry a couple of days ago (you can read it here), called "Count your Blessings". I think it's time I did the same:

1) Lauren is at the best children's heart hospital in the world, getting care from top docs. You couldn't ask for more.
2) A wonderful wife that I truly love with all my heart and, amazingly, she tolerates me.
3) Two kids that have been through more than kids should ever have to go through, and they just roll with the punches.
4) God continues to answer my prayers -- about Lauren, the house, work, Brennan, ...
5) A boss that lets me take off whenever I need to, with no questions asked
6) An amazing base of care and concern from a ton of friends that I know -- and some that I don't
7) Two sets of parents that would move heaven and earth to help in any way they can
8) I get to sing my heart out and throw all my cares away at least once every week
9) I don't have to worry about health insurance costs. The military is truly a blessing.
10) Facebook and e-mail. It's been our lifeline.

"Your light broke through my night, restored exceeding joy. Your grace fell like the rain and made this desert live. You have turned my mourning into dancing! You have turned my sorrow into joy! This is how we overcome!"