Archive for August, 2015

(Big Breath) Okay, Here We Go!

August 30, 2015

This week marks a major milestone in the life of our family as Wilson heads off to college on Friday.  I’m definitely bracing myself for the inevitable “pit in my stomach” feeling that I know I’ll experience when we say goodbye and leave him behind at APU but, right now, I’m mostly feeling very excited for Wilson knowing he is so ready for this.  He is going to LOVE college…fresh challenges, new friends, new opportunities…new EVERYTHING!

I’m trying hard to find an appropriate balance in this first-time-ever-mom-moment for me.  Yesterday was Wilson’s last day at the car wash and I wondered out loud whether or not he wanted to commemorate it by taking brownies in to his co-workers to which Wilson responded “It’s just like any other day, Mom.”.  I got weepy at church this morning during worship practice listening to him sing and play knowing it was his last day behind the drum kit to which he said “It’s just like any other day, Mom.”.  Ha Ha!  I may be hearing his refrain multiple times this week as we pack up his belongings and make room for Rudy in his soon-to-be shared bedroom and I get that Wilson doesn’t want me to make a fuss…he’s navigating the process his own way but the reality is that these days leading up to Wilson’s departure aren’t “just like any other day”.  It’s a big deal.  It’s the very thing Rolf and I have been preparing him for for eighteen years.  He’s getting ready to fly and what’s more terrifying, I’m getting ready to watch him lift off!

Up until now, Wilson’s steps toward independence have felt a lot like when my kids jumped into the pool by themselves for the first time…toes over the pool’s edge, knees knocking, eyes on me waiting in the water with my outstretched hands ready to grab and hold tight if needed.  This step feels more like the first dive when I stood behind them on the pool deck, helping them position just right (chin to chest, arms at your ears!), giving them the final encouragement (“You got this!  Here ‘ya go!) and then watching them dive and…swim away.

I really don’t mean to be overly dramatic about the whole thing…billions of kids have left home for the first time before Wilson and billions of kids will follow (including three more Geylings) but I can’t help but rest for a minute on the fact that this is it…we have been helping Wilson position himself for a successful launch his whole life and now it’s time for our final encouragement…

I’ve been thinking for several weeks about what my “final encouragement” to Wilson (and Max and Olivia and Rudy when the time comes) would be and, honestly, when I pare it down to the heart of what Rolf and I tried to cultivate in our kids, it fits on three quarters of one page.  My encouragement would read something like this:

Precious one,

LOVE GOD with everything that makes you uniquely you. Love Him with your big heart, your passions, your gifts & talents and your intelligence. Demonstrate your love for Him in your joy for life and in your knowledge of and love for His word…BELIEVE, whether you “feel” it or not, that you are loved by God and worthy (worthy not because of what you do but because of what Christ did on the cross) of His love.

BE KIND to people. Be discerning…Identify and seek to understand the weaknesses in the people that surround you but ALWAYS encourage, support and celebrate their strengths. Prioritize people and be known for your gentleness.

BE KIND to yourself. Be self aware…Identify and seek to understand your weaknesses but know and use your strengths with confidence, humility and grace. Enjoy yourself. Laugh often. Make room for things that refresh your spirit and bring a smile to your face AND CHOOSE to do the less desirable things in life with a happy heart.

BE RESPONSIBLE for yourself, the things you say and the things you do. Own your mistakes and grow from them. (PERIOD!  No elaboration needed.)

EMBRACE LIFE…ALL of it! Live life fully in all circumstances…sometimes in BIG, OUT LOUD ways but mostly in simple, quiet ways. Embrace each season whether happy or heartbreaking with faith and, most importantly, never forget that God is near.

As you prepare to take this next big step toward independence, it boils down to this:  the choices your dad and I made in raising you won’t guarantee you success or wealth or even an easy life but we can guarantee you a life rich in relationship and purpose if your choices from here on out reflect the values we tried hard to live out as a young family…sometimes our efforts were clumsy and sometimes our efforts were spot on but our goal was always that you would know God and that you would know through word and through action how very much you are loved…okay, so here ‘ya go, you’re ready, you got this!  Oh yeah, and one more thing, we’re so very proud of you!

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And So It Begins….

August 26, 2015

Today marked the first day of the 2015-16 School Year for the three youngest Geylings and despite it being wickedly hot (for Santa Barbara), it was a good day for all…

First Day of School Eve 8-25-15

“First Day of School” Eve 8-25-15

The traditional first day of school porch pic looked a little different this year...

Umm, I guess it’s not EVERYONE’s first day of school…

Take Two!

Traditional First Day of School Porch Pic – Take Two! (8-26-15)

Max was cool as a cucumber heading off to 11th grade!

Max was cool as a cucumber heading off to 11th grade!

8th grader Olivia also playing it cool.

8th grader Olivia also playing it cool.

Rudy reunited with Nurse Viviana!  Woo Hoo!!

Rudy reunited with Nurse Viviana! Woo Hoo!!

Although Rudy is officially a 1st grader this year, his special ed class is a K/1 combo that mainstreams with one of the Kindergarten classes on campus.  As a result, Rudy’s schedule looks a lot like it did last year (with an additional hour and fifteen minutes at the end of the day after the K’s leave).  Not that Rudy had ANY inhibitions about going to school but the familiarity of his daily routine is nice and will aid in what we hope will be a smooth transition back into a structured day.  He was so happy to see his friends and teachers today.  Rolf and I dropped him off and as Rolf started to push his wheelchair from the parking lot toward his classroom, Rudy said “No Dad!  Walk!”.  Rolf took Rudy out of his chair and he (very proudly) made a bee line for his classroom the second his feet hit the ground!  Ha Ha Nurse Viviana reported at the end of the day that he had a great first day.  We are so grateful he is starting the school year off healthy and with great energy and enthusiasm for learning.  If today is any indication, this is going to be a fun year of progress and growth for the boy wonder.

With that, we say one last final goodbye to Summer 2015 and set our sights on the next big family “milestone” – Wilson’s college departure on September 4th!!  Yikes!!

Bye Bye Summer!

Bye Bye Summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quality Sibling Time – QST

August 22, 2015

Summer is coming to a quick close and we have just a couple of days left before the 2015-16 School Year begins here in Goleta.  Max is all checked-in and registered for his Junior Year, Olivia gets her class schedule and 8th grade school ID on Monday and Rudy meets his teacher on Tuesday…all report to school bright and early on Wednesday morning.  Thankfully Wilson doesn’t leave for APU for another couple of weeks so we have time to get everyone else settled before facing his departure.

Rudy is healthy and happy.  When I asked him earlier this week if he was ready to go back to school, he exclaimed “YESSSSSSS” with an added fist pump!  Ha Ha  I’m glad he is so excited.  😉  We’ve enjoyed some quieter summer moments the past couple of weeks (aka “quality sibling time”)  as well as squeezed in one last week o’ fun with Rolf’s sister and her two daughters who visited from Boston this past week (QST of another kind).  🙂

I’m grateful for our summer…we made a lot of fun memories and enjoyed time with a lot of fun people…and it seems everyone is ready to head back to school so I guess it’s time to embrace the shift to a new season and say goodbye to summer.  (sniff, sniff)

Here is a last look at Summer 2015…

Rudy beating the heatwave on a lazy afternoon.

Rudy beating the heatwave on a lazy afternoon.

Hockey road trip to Calabasas...Max AND Rudy are excited hockey to starting up again!

Hockey road trip to Calabasas…Max AND Rudy are excited hockey is starting up again!

Checking out the competition...

Checking out the competition…

Chillin' with Olivia

Chillin’ with Olivia

"Play with me Wilthon!!"

“Pay with me Wilthun!!”

Cousin fun in a surrey.

Cousin fun in a surrey.

A surrey selfie!

A surrey selfie!

Fun with Aunt Andi and cousins Maya & Kyra

Fun with Aunt Andi and cousins Maya & Kyra

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Sis-in-law selfie!

Sis-in-law selfie!

Sweet Sibs

Sweet Sibs

 

 

 

Remembering Gwendolyn

August 6, 2015

We said goodbye to Gwendolyn Strong last weekend. She was an inspiring girl with heroic parents, Bill and Victoria. On our journey with a medically fragile child, we haven’t really found that “support groups” work. Life with a family member in need of round-the-clock care is uniquely demanding such that carving out time for structured activity and another meeting is very difficult. But we have come across people who serve as valuable examples and encourage us in our own journey by the way they navigate theirs. While life doesn’t allow for extended and regular contact, when they live in your town you can run into each other occasionally, you can touch base with a question about a doctor or local resource, and— perhaps more than anything—you can get a knowing nod, smile or sigh as you keep battling on.

Gwendolyn was an amazing child who lived an amazing life and, while it’s hard to look past how much a terrible illness robbed her of, it was a life so abundantly rich in love from friends, family, our community and the world beyond. But no one’s love was more evident than that of her parents—and I’m so glad Gwendolyn experienced that. Bill and Victoria were knowledgeable advocates who fought hard alongside their daughter. They never lost sight of the severity of her condition and the likely outcomes, but also constantly kept the fact that she was a little girl filled with wonder and personality in view. They nurtured, celebrated, trusted, challenged, inspired and pressed on. While their child’s condition would have justified narrowing their focus and attention only to their own family’s concerns, they looked broadly beyond themselves to other families facing similar struggles and poured energy into a foundation so that future suffering might be spared.

THE PART WHERE I (ROLF) MAKE THIS ABOUT ME: I’ve got no real eloquent way of wrapping this up and I’m very hesitant to go on as any grief I might be feeling is nothing compared to the Strongs’ heartbreak, but I guess since this is my blog about me I can do that here.

I was in a bad mood in the evening after the memorial service. At first I thought it was just frustration over a few things breaking around the house, but it became clear at 2am that things were running deeper. A few years ago, I remember coping with Nina’s memorial by going numb. Not sure I’m doing that now, but the thoughts that fly through your head at that hour can be torture:

Rudy is an outlier—like Gwendolyn—having lived significantly beyond what several doctors might have thought. that’s cause for celebration…but also makes you wonder how long such a run can last. you can be the best special needs parent in the world and that won’t save your child. with life dominated now by care needs, how could we ever adjust to life without them? not sure if I can list all the kids in our circle who’ve died. i can only think of three HLHS kids Rudy’s age we’ve been following since birth who are still alive. when did their parents know it was the end? what kind of warning will we have? we know of two kids who died on the transplant table last month. i hate that I go to kids’ memorial services and actually entertain what things I might include at my son’s.

Once the musings start, it’s kind of hard to stop the avalanche. Scary to stop all the activity of life to verbalize the raw questions we wrestle with and the feelings that accompany them.  I’m grateful to have fulfilling and meaningful work as well as commitments and hobbies that demand a healthy degree of focus and energy, but events like this can trigger a temptation to dive into them to the point where they become a distraction.  Don’t freak out–we’re OK.  This is our reality.  We laugh a a lot and embrace all the moments of beauty we capture on this blog.  Perhaps the fact that they take place amidst the undercurrent we don’t often talk about is what makes them all the more precious.

Still no eloquent way to wrap this up. Time to hug my family and gaze in wonder at the little half-heart warrior.

Fairy Godmother…plus one :)

August 3, 2015

Rudy was pretty lost without the big sibs last week which made a visit from his godmother and her daughter especially fun!  Grace and C.C. arrived late Wednesday night and Rudy was in heaven demanding their undivided attention.  He had had a bit of an episode the day before which spooked me enough to warrant a trip to the ER.  His symptoms were such that I thought he was having a stroke but he perked up with additional O2 while in the ER and a specific cause could not be determined.  We came home and laid low the rest of the day…a visit from Grace and C.C. was a healthy distraction for us both.

Fun at the harbor!

Fun at the harbor!

Cuddle time with Grace.

Cuddle time with Grace.

C.C. is a talented young artist (you may remember her “Rudy’s Heart” painting  from couple of years ago) and planned ahead to do a painting project with Rudy. She drew one of Rudy’s favorite objects and they painted it together…can you guess what it is?

Craft time with C.C.

Craft time with C.C.

Masters at work.

Masters at work.

 

Tah dah!

Tah dah!  “Rudy’s Robot”

The big kids made it home from camp on Friday and enjoyed a couple of days with Grace and C.C. too.  We didn’t hear from the kids while they were on the mountain (no cell service) so we were especially excited to catch this little glimpse into their fun…the boys serenaded Olivia with an original parody of Ed Sheeran’s song “Thinking Out Loud”…LOVE IT!!!

Things are a little slower this next week which is nice…the kids all came home with colds from camp and are in need of a little rest.  It’s hard to believe August is here already!  Happy August dear ones…

super fun times!

super fun times!