photo taken by Angela Speiker

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Is she MIA????

Yes, and no.............Ah the life of a mom.  I love it, and I am exhausted by it.  I can't believe there were days in my past in which I sat in my empty, quiet living room and literally cried myself to sleep because I just wanted "the dream".  Well, God listened, and answered my prayers in ways I can't even begin to dream up!! 

Some things that occupy what others refer to as "all that time"........
  • just being mom, answering questions, teaching, applying kisses to boo-boo's, being a nurse, and a shopper, and a chef, a taxi service, a secretary, financial advisor, housekeeper, thrifty person.  Answer to "mom" no less than 95 times today, and it's not too bad.
  • being a friend--seems like I have several groups of friends these days.  There is the friend's I'd trust my deepest secrets with, the I can text you at midnight friends, the friends I hang out with because they totally get who I am and don't expect me to ever change, the friends I have known in my past and love to keep up with because we went through some of life's most difficult times with, the friends I don't chat with for months and pick up right where we left off, college friends, high school friends, neighbors, friends by association, and so many others.  I have such a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  It has drawn me in too much at times, and I find I wasted too much of my day on the computer again.  However, in about 3 minutes I can learn more info than I can in a 20 minute phone conversation.
  • PTO mom--yes, PTO has consumed my time these days.  I'm not complaining at all, because there were so many days I dreamed of being able to help from this side, the mommy side, and give those teachers what they deserve.  I am the PTO president this year and I don't feel I am being the best at it, but I'm doing what I can do.  It has helped me make more friends, which is a good thing :)
  • attending more doctor appointments than I care to mention.  This year has been dedicated to me.  I hurt my back and have gone through the chiropractor, moved on to the orthopedist and gotten an MRI, and steriod shots, then moved on to physical therapy, and now seeing the neurosurgeon.  Surgery is scheduled for's Saturday night, 'nuff said.  Not focusing on this at this moment.
  • attempting to save money for our family.  While I HATE being that person that ever is known as the "keeping up with the Jones's", I really want to try to keep priorities in line.  However, I also really love the idea of vacations, and not being in the dark ages in the world of technology.  I try to coupon, and shop smart, and earn a little on the side.  I've been watching 2 kiddos to earn a few dollars, and it is crazy when I went up to school to grab my 5 kiddos in a day. 
  • trying to keep our family focused on God, and keeping him at the center of our home, and our life.  However, I feel like I am failing here, too, as this wasn't even in my top 3 posts of how I spend my time.  I love our church right now, and I feel the people there are great.  However, I hate that it is 25 minutes one way away from our house, 50 minutes round trip!  That keeps me from joining the mother's group, or going to bible study, or even volunteering for the random happenings.
  • watching my kiddos grow every day.  Em & Cal are playing soccer, so we have practice and games in a week.  Skip is coaching, and I love watching him work with the kiddos.  It is so fun to see.
Kid status-

Em-plays soccer, takes a gymanstics class once a week which creates a tumble bug at home, she is constantly doing cartwheels, handstands, walkovers, splits, etc. all over the place.  She currently has her 2 top front teeth gone, along with 1 1/2 on the bottom.  Toothless Jane :)  She is getting much better at her math facts and still has some work to do with her reading and spelling, but we work every day.  She loves Zachary, tolerates Calvin unless she can boss him, gives us just a little bit of Tween attitude, is quite particular on her clothing choices, and just melts my heart.  I don't ever get enough one-on-one time with her.

Calvin-such a little reader!  He has won his teacher's attention with his skills in the classroom.  I do believe that our Calvinator has some serious leadership potential.  We see this at home, in the classroom, at swimming lessons, and have heard from several that everyone seems to want to follow Calvin.  Let's just try to keep him steered on the right path :)  He is on a serious med for his migraines, and it seems to be doing the trick, which is great!  He is in love with anything and everything Fireman/firetruck related.  He is rotten to the core one moment, then he breaks into his Jim Carrey face and makes everyone laugh.  He also gives fantastic nose kisses to his momma.  Love him with all my heart!

Zac-is finally potty trained!!  Yes, it has been a long process, but we are finally there.  He has been cleared by the urologist from his surgery when he was 8 months old.  That was awesome news.  However, that doc and the hernia repair doc did advise us to watch him closely, which we will do.  I will quote his physical therapist at school "he must have been working hard this summer because he grew by leaps and bounds".  He is hopping some, walking up steps now, walking on a balance beam, and even sat in the swing on his own the other day.  This sounds crazy and unimportant to your average mother of a 3 3/4 year old, but we smile bigger than you can imagine with each of his new skills.  He is a cuddler, and loves his mommy, his race cars, his monster trucks, and everything related to transportation.  He wants to be a monster truck driver for Halloween, so I think we are going to get creative with that one.  Zac seems to melt the heart of anyone he is around, is still incredibly easy, and we just adore him so very much. 

Gotta run for now, more to do, but wow do I miss blogging.  I love writing about our crazy lives.  I love sharing my kiddos stories and cute pics.  I'm going to try, and you hold me accountable!! 

For now, I will say goodnight.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I miss blogging.  I miss having an outlet to share my feelings, brag about my kids, share the funny stories, inform the masses about our happenings, and prove that we really are doing something when I say the perpetual "we are just busy" without pinpointing exactly what.  I love blogging!  I am going to try to commit to doing it more, perhaps this summer.  I need to catch up on the happenings of the last 5 months.  I need to share all that is going on with us.  I know people look at our blog, and that inspires me.  I stand in the shower, or lay in bed at night, and create my vision of what I want to say....and it is perfect and  beautifully written, and the rainbows flow in the background, and no kids are screaming at me to help them, no doorbells are ringing, nothing else is happening but me writing and doing what I love. 

For now I will just say that we have been doing the following over the last 5 months:

Zachary turned 3.  He is doing so well at school it is awesome!  He has had a ruptured eardrum, but other than that (and it was no big deal on his part, didn't even phase him), he has stayed healthy!!  Wahoo!!  So 2 doc visits, well-child and ear.  Not bad.

Calvin turned 5 and had a big pirate party.  He went to kindergarten round-up and loved it and can't wait for kinder to start.  He is still all boy claiming to love dirt, and sticks, and "guys", and anything fireman related.

Emerald turned 7 and had a sleepover, tie-dye, peace party.  She is losing teeth and doing much better in the attitude and academic world. 

I have taken on more.  I am finishing up VP of PTO, will be the president next year of PTO, helping the March of Dimes by speaking at functions and helping with the walk, running our OPR team, helping with our town's Fall Festival, watching a kid or 2 a week, oh, and maintaining a house with 3 hyper kiddos.  It's the dream :)

Skip puts up with me.

That's all the time I have, b/c I have to go to school to meet with Emerald, who is principal for the day.  We are chatting about PTO stuff :)  I love it!  Pics to come later.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lingering Christmas pictures

The kids lined up waiting for their stockings.  So cute to see them waiting patiently, and eagerly!

It's Tow Mater!

Practicing for tomorrow, Zac's 3rd bday

"Is it like this, Emmy?"  Last day of age 2!
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why I feel so passionate about March of Dimes

Hi, my name is Stephanie Pankewich.  I am the very proud mother to 3 amazing children, Emerald, age 6, Calvin, age 5, and Zachary, age 3.  Today is a special day in our house because it is the 3 year “homecoming” anniversary for bringing our youngest, Zachary, home from the NICU. 

Our first 2 children are adopted, and we didn’t get to experience their actual birth and first few days and weeks of their lives.  But they are healthy and thriving little munchkins, and I now realize that I took their good health for granted. 

We were completely shocked and astounded when we discovered we were finally pregnant, after 9 years of being unable to conceive.  We chose not to find out the gender of the baby because we really didn’t care as long as he/she was healthy.  My birthday present was to go to our 20 week sonogram.  I walked into the appointment excited, and didn’t expect to walk out of the appointment terrified, scared, and wondering what to expect for our future. 

During the routine sonogram, they discovered that our baby had a 2 vessel umbilical cord.  As the doctor was explaining it, he threw out words, information, statistics, and much more.  There was mention of severe kidney issues, problems with his brain, damage to the chambers of his heart, increased chance of Spina Bifida and Downs Syndrome, and so much more that my ears began to tune him out.  I remember him going into detail about the good chance of a growth restriction which could lead to an early birth, or having a preemie.  To be honest, though, with all the other major problems possible with multiple vital organs, prematurity sounded like a breeze.  At the time, my naive mind told me that prematurity just meant that your baby spent a few extra weeks in the hospital, and they weren’t supposed to be at home with you yet anyway.  Wow, did I have a lot to learn!  The first person I called to share about our sonogram referred me to the March of Dimes website, in order to learn more information about his single umbilical artery.  What a lifesaver!  The information on the March of Dimes website was very beneficial in calming my nerves about the medical terms that the doctor had thrown at me.  Obviously, money raised by the March of Dimes goes toward funding this educational site which arms mothers with more knowledge about their potentially scary situation.

Our doctor monitored the pregnancy closely, and everything looked pretty good until my water broke in the middle of the night at 31 weeks………. At 3:00 in the morning I made 2 phone calls.  The 1st was to my doctor, whose on-call nurse said I should go into the hospital to have it checked out.  The 2nd phone call was to my best friend, a NICU nurse.  She was so calm, so awesome.  She answered the phone in the middle of sleep and immediately calmed me, told me to get it checked out, and that everything would be fine.  She told me later that after she hung up she cried and began to say some prayers for me because she didn’t want us to have to go through this—she had seen countless NICU stories ending in heartbreak. 

At the hospital the nurses pulled me back to evaluate me, and were fairly calm and casual.  I assumed they were thinking that my water hadn’t actually broken.  After monitoring and checking me out, the attitude changed, things jumped into fast mode.  They pumped me full of magnesium, got the Perinatologist there to monitor the baby, gave me the first steroid shot to hopefully help develop those preemie lungs, and hoped that labor would stop.  A few hours later they casually came in at 12:18 to suggest that we might have to take the baby pretty soon, as if I had a choice.  Our baby was born at 12:32.  We didn’t hear him cry, we didn’t get to see him, we didn’t get to hold him and cuddle with him.   I do remember that the nurse came over and said, “do you want to know what you had?”  It is an incredibly weird moment……..every parent in the world is overwhelmed the second they find out if they are having a son or daughter.  That moment lives within their hearts forever.  For me, at that moment, laying exposed, literally my insides being shoved back within me, feeling faint, scared for my newborn child………it didn’t matter what “parts” he had.  I didn’t feel happy or sad, excited or nervous at the fact that I had just delivered a son.  It wasn’t at all about him being a boy.  I hadn’t heard him cry, I hadn’t seen if he had any color.  I didn’t know if he’d live or not.  That was what mattered!!

Zachary spent the next 6 weeks slowly and steadily getting better in the NICU.  He received 3 doses of Surfactant within the first hours of his life.  The Surfactant, thanks to research funded by the March of Dimes, helped him come off the vent so much sooner, and helped him come home without assisted breathing.  I remember being there when Zachary got his heel pricked to help determine if he had any genetic disorders, another credit to the March of Dimes.  I didn’t get to hold Zac for the first 36 hours, and I still feel like I’m making up for that today! 

3 years ago today we were finally able to walk out of the doors to the NICU with Zachary in our arms.  We took him home and I cried seeing all my children under one roof together. 

This is where I think most people think the story ends for the world of preemies. 

The story didn’t end there.  Over the first year of his life, Zachary had 65 visits with a medical professional.  His core muscles were weakened because he didn’t get to fight for space inside of me, pushing, kicking, forcing room for his expanding body.  He had one major surgery, a detailed MRI to determine if he had a spinal problem, visits with a neurosurgeon, urologists, physical therapists, dieticians, ENT, and so many more.  In the 3 years he’s been home, Zachary has had 3 surgeries, been physical delayed, placed in a developmental preschool to help him with those weak core muscles, didn’t walk until he was 23 months, and obviously required some special attention.  The best part of all, though, is that he has had the opportunity to fill our lives with smiles and love!!  That day 3 years ago didn’t end our prematurity story, because those medical issues still remain, and my son is still behind.  Our story of prematurity didn’t end there because I haven’t clearly expressed what an impact it had on my other two children.    They endured countless hours lost to mom and dad traveling to the hospital for the 6 weeks of his NICU stay and the countless hours devoted to further appointments.  Zachary’s being a preemie was not just about those 6 weeks in the hospital, but about the impact it has had on our entire family each and every day since this day, 3 years ago.

But those familiar with the world of prematurity can appreciate that I feel fortunate that our situation wasn’t THAT bad.  Our son was born at 31 weeks and weighed 3 pounds 14 ounces, he wasn’t a micro preemie.   I feel fortunate because our story is NOTHING compared to so many others.  Our son did walk, even if wasn’t until 23 months.  Our son does talk.  He did finally learn to eat.  He is able to hug us, and tell us he loves us.   He plays with his siblings, and he will be with us for a lifetime.  So many other NICU families don’t have that chance because they don’t even get to bring their baby home. 

All I can say is thank you.  I know that those 2 words aren’t enough.  However, without supporters like yourself, my precious munchkins might not be the energetic, talkative, precious pieces of joy that help make our family complete!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Christmas morning take 2

Such a cutie

Patiently waiting his turn

He thinks he knows what is in the bag

Eli was so excited to get his bowls


Those bowls are the best gift ever

Daddy, what else did you find in the garage?

Is that for me?

Yes, I'm turning growing up too fast!

Love this shot!

Merry Christmas

THE thing Calvin wanted with all his heart and soul!

Zachary found his way into the middle of the race track to watch his cars

I had to post so many pics of Calvin.  He found a fire station while we were out shopping.  He adores anything and everything fireman related right now!!!!  He fell in deep, lusting, drooling love with this thing.  He bent over backward throughout the pre-Christmas season.  Best behavior I've seen out of him. 

Santa his the Christmas presents in the garage.  We brought the gifts in, and Calvin sat so patiently watching as each of the other 4 kids opened their gifts.  He got his fire hat.  He didn't say a word.  He just sat and waited.  When we said that was all there was, his face dropped.  I mean hit the floor with a thud dropped.  The frown nearly broke my heart.  We quickly recovered his sad little face with an "oh, wait, there might be one more thing" and he shot thru the rough.  He saw Uncle Shane and Daddy bring that fire station in and he was dancing all around the room.  It really was the perfect Santa present for the perfect age!  I loved being part of this and making it so special for our sweet Calvinator!  Not that the other kids didn't have fun, but that moment will remain in my heart forever.  Who knows, he may be a fireman some day.......
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Christmas morning

Calvin so excited to get his fireman hat

Eli opening his gift like a  big boy

Zac getting his dream, race cars!

Not the best form in picture taking, but I love how excited she is.  That is all she wanted, an mp3!

A Colorado boy needs some nice gloves, especially since he's started ski school

Showing off her mp3 to Uncle Shane

Christmas morning was so much fun.  Santa was smart and created a scavenger hunt for the kids to find their gifts.  He even made them eat breakfast first!  This was probably a good thing b/c those kids wake up so early and we would have missed all their excitement.  They eventually found their gifts in the garage and were so excited :) 
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Christmas Eve

I love how all the kids are lined up in eager anticipation

Waiting to see what Nana has to open

2 boys ready for Christmas

Nana showing off her t-shirt quilt

The 3 (nearly) 3 year olds playing with their Garmin cars

On Christmas Eve we went to church and then spent a beautiful evening together, our 5, Heidi, Jeff, & Josiah, Laura, Shane, Simon, & Eli, Nana, and Skip's Uncle Allen and Aunt Janet.  The best gift shared on this night were tshirt quilts made by Aunt Heidi out of Walt's former tshirts.  She also made each of the grandchildren a pillow out of the shirts.  It was so special and gave us a feeling that Walt was in the room celebrating with us.  At one point I looked out at the busy chaos in our house and just smiled.......  Just 4 short years ago when we purchased this house we had Emerald and Calvin, and I knew that Christmas would be fun and lively.  I didn't really picture the fun noise that did fill our living room on this wonderful Christmas Eve.  6 kids, and all our our happy smiles, jokes, tickles, and sweet memories shared and created, that is what it is all about!  So happy we were all able to be together to celebrate.
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Elliott, our Elf

Elliott made a snow angel and decided to take a warm bath to warm himself up

Ken decided to join Elliott

having fun just building a wall to hide behind

having a snowball fight

the audience watching

going fishing

yep, he found his way in the balloon!
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