(These 4 amazing kiddos keep asking me to make a blog about them, maybe a little jealous??! But, I just haven't found the time to do that. So, instead I am dedicating this post to them. And this post I even started in June, started over on July 12 when I was at the hospital w/ Mason and am hopefully going to post today July 23.)
Ammon has been globally developmentally delayed (mentally and physically) since he was an infant. We started running diagnostic tests through neurology and genetics since he was 11 months old. Still to this day we have no true diagnosis. He fits slightly under the "autistic spectrum" umbrella... but not typically. He holds his "own" title as of right now. He just doesn't seem to fit under any other genetic syndrome. Although, he does attend an autistic unit preschool through our school district. And this, on top of the 2 years of early intervention he had, has helped him to progress leaps and bounds! I couldn't be more grateful to his wonderful teachers, therapists, and the bus drivers who pick him up at our house and bring him home.
Anyone who meets Ammon today has a hard time believing he didn't walk until he was 26 months and didn't talk until he was 3 (well, he spoke about 4 words and did 4 signs for words he couldn't quite say yet when he turned 3). He now runs faster than any other 4 year old I know and he's also talking in 4 and 5 word sentences. Although he is quite an energetic handful, he is sooo happy and loving! One thing he hasn't been delayed in ...... finding a girlfriend! The picture above is Ammon holding his little girlfriend's hand on the bus. He held her hand on the bus everyday the last few months of school. When she wasn't there he would come home and sadly say "Sydney sick. No hold hand bus." He's already a heart breaker!! And oh does he love to cuddle Mason, just sometimes scares him with all his energy. We love you Ammon.
BRAIDEN (turned 6 in February)
Braiden just graduated in May from kindergarten (picture above). He has been my morning helper all year because he attended afternoon kindergarten. And a very good helper he is!! He loves to help bathe Mason, pick out his clothes, feed him (that's when Mason really has food from head to toe!!!), carry the oxygen tank to the car when it was time to take to kindergarten, take him on walks with me, accompany us to many many doctors appointments and much more. Braiden was also the first to hold Mason after he was born , besides me! He was the only one who wanted to come down late that night to the hospital to see him. He loves babies! Although, he can still be my most stubborn one at times, but has matured so much since he was my mischievous 3 year old (the one who backed our suburban out of our garage, across the street, and into the neighbor's flower garden).
Braiden (and Preston) joined the neighborhood in a hair buzzing party (this picture is half way trough his buzz or should I say shave?) in May (the day after the cute graduation picture above). They were bribed by my sweet neighbor to a large shaved ice at Snowasis. Thanks a lot Susan!!! Braiden was not going to pass up that offer. So I gave permission for a #2 buzz, and he came home with a "0".....that's bald!! That's what he wanted. I'm sure at church the next day people were thinking "that poor Strickland family! now they have a child going through chemotherapy?!"
Braiden also asks constantly "when is Saturday?" or to him better known as "lawn mowing day". He absolutely loves mowing the lawn! He is our hard worker and our comedian! We love you Braiden.
PRESTON (turned 8 in April)
Preston was baptized on Saturday May 30th. Originally he was supposed to be baptized 4 weeks earlier, but Mason was really sick so I had asked him if he wouldn't mind waiting until our little guy felt better. At first he felt disappointed but said he would think about it. Later that night he said, "Mom, it will be just fine to wait because I want my baptism day to be a happy day for everybody". That was such a big decision for an 8 year old and I was also very grateful he made it with a good attitude!!
His baptism was very special and thanks too great family and neighbors it was no stress to me. They all pitched in and made it a wonderful evening for all of us. And a very big thank you also to Preston's 12 year old cousin, Natalie, who performed beautiful violin solos! We are mostly grateful to Preston because he is such a good role model for his younger brothers, cousins, and friends.
Preston and Braiden have contests to see who can make Mason laugh the loudest. Mason loves to watch them act crazy.....and he laughs and laughs himself to exhaustion. Preston was my sweet boy that drew a picture at school that said all he wanted for Christmas was"his baby brother Mason to be healthy". His teacher and I both cried! Preston also spends a lot of time playing sports and hanging out with all the neighborhood boys. He is well liked by everyone! I am proud of him because he is always (well, most of the time) willing to include his younger brothers with he and his friends. We love you Preston!
Kaitlin (10, almost 11 in September)
Westfield Elementary (where our three oldest attend school) did a couple of fundraisers for
Mason's trust fund this year. So at the 'end of the year awards assembly' Kaitlin stood up in front of the whole school to tell them "thank you" and presented them with a poster of Mason to hang up in the hall (picture above). She did a great job and I'm very proud of her for offering to do that for me. (I was going to present it and then they changed the time of the assembly and I had to take Mason to doctors appointment.) Kaitlin is definitely the most social and out-going out of all our kiddos. She has no problem making friends and I know many kids look up to her as an example. She is fun to be around, is always worried about others' feelings, and we can always count on her to makes good choices!
(Kaitlin, in this picture, decided to dress a bit crazy for the last day of school with a friend)
I must say Kaitlin helps out in our home more than any other child her age that I know! She watches Ammon a lot, helps hold Mason when I'm preparing dinner or putting other kids to bed etc... (he adores her), helps her brothers with homework, and does a lot of chores around the house. (All our kids do a lot of chores, but she seems to be asked to do more because she's the oldest!) She even gave up dance when Mason was born and diagnosed with his heart disease, because she knew I just couldn't add that to my plate anymore!
Lately Kaitlin has been very sad about Mason's heart failure and his need for a transplant. When I tuck her in at night she begins to cry and asks me, "Mom, is Mason going to be okay?" Then my eyes begin to feel up with tears and I say, "I hope so honey. I sure hope so honey!" .......What else can you say??! Bless her tender heart! She loves her baby brother so much. And Kaitlin we love you too!
I feel so blessed to be the Mom of these five wonderful children. I pray each day thanking my Father Above for each of them and asking for his help to take care of them.