Thursday, November 21, 2013

Family Getaway to Lake Anna

Over Veteran's Day weekend we traveled to Lake Anna with my family. We rented a great house that was located directly on the water. Lake Anna is the second largest lake in the state of Virginia, measuring 17 miles long with 200 miles of shoreline. The greatest part of this little weekend getaway was that it was only about an hour and forty-five minutes from DC. You can take I-95 to Fredericksburg or I-66 to I-29 if you're looking for more of a scenic route.

The name of the house we rented was Libby's Landing and my mom just so happened to stumble across it online at Vacation Rentals. It had great reviews so we thought we'd give it a shot and it certainly didn't disappoint! As you can see from the pictures it is a huge house with 6 bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths. Its peak season are the summer months for fishing and boating; however, we found it to be the perfect fall escape.

A view from our backyard
Lake Anna is about 50 miles outside of Charlottesville so we decided to make a day trip into town on Saturday. We enjoyed lunch at Michie Tavern which had some of the best fried chicken I've ever tasted! One of my dad's cousins, Cathy, and her husband, Hal, live in Charlottesville so they came and joined us for lunch. The Tavern itself is located about half a mile below Monticello and accommodated travelers with food, drink and lodging more than 200 years ago. Today visitors are welcome to tour the grounds and dine at their rustic restaurant where the servers dress is period attire and offer you nothing but the best southern hospitality. Their buffet is based on 18th century Southern recipes so be prepared for a very rich and filling meal! Following lunch we visited the General Store and stopped for a family picture.
The General Store 

After lunch we headed up the hill to Monticello. We were excited to tour the grounds of Thomas Jefferson's home but were disappointed to discover that all the home tours were sold out through the afternoon. We decided that it wasn't worth the price of admission to go on the grounds without getting an opportunity to tour the home so we visited their new museum and then headed to Carter Mountain Orchard for some tasty apple cider doughnuts! This is a great place to take kids on a nice day. They offer hayrides, apple picking and gorgeous views.
Playing at Monticello's children's museum
Gorgeous views from Carter Mountain Orchard
The best apple cider donuts!!!
On our way home from Charlottesville we decided to make a pit stop at Barboursville Vineyards which is home to Virginia's Octagon wine. We enjoyed a fun wine tasting (16 to be exact!) and a gorgeous sunset before heading back to the house for the evening. Carter went without an afternoon nap on Saturday so he was beyond tired by the time we hit the road to head home! It was the perfect time of year to be in Charlottesville. All the leaves had changed color and the views were spectacular.

We decided that Sunday was meant for rest and relaxation! We enjoyed being outside and taking advantage of the beautiful weather and of course the guys had to squeeze in some quality time for football. Mom and I even managed to convince the guys to take a few family pictures. My mom always struggles to find the perfect picture for her Christmas card and I now realize her frustration. It's not easy getting the entire family together and snapping that perfect picture but I certainly think we managed to do it this year. I made sure to leave those pictures off the blog for a Christmas surprise, ha!

Since Chris, Carter and I are staying in DC for Thanksgiving I decided it would be fun to have a separate pre-Thanksgiving dinner with my family since we were all going to be together. Chris fixed a rack of pork and green beans and I was in charge of the sweet potato casserole. We also managed to squeeze in some biscuits and cranberry sauce onto our plates too! It was a wonderful meal and it was nice to be together as a family considering we won't see each other at Thanksgiving. We also celebrated another Panther victory which made dinner even better!

Lazy day around the lake
Can you tell that Carter enjoyed his first fishing experience? Ha, maybe uncle Justin will have better luck next time. Carter wasn't the biggest fan of our evening fires either. 
These ducks came to visit with us every time we walked down to the dock. Notice how Chris is trying to show them "all finished" in the picture above when he ran out of bread. The ducks weren't happy.
Yummy rack of pork, Carter's Jacuzzi tub for the weekend, lounging by the fire while watching TV and snuggling with dad. Hard to beat!! 

The best thing about the group shot in this frame is what happened immediately beforehand. We had our camera set-up on a tripod so Chris had to move very quickly from the shoreline to the pier to get in place. He was in the process of running from the tripod and made a jump to the pier and little did he know that one of our friendly ducks was directly beneath him in the water. I guess Chris's sudden movement scared the duck so he flew up directly at Chris. There was a huge splash and we all thought Chris fell into the water. Notice how we're all laughing except for Carter. He wasn't amused. 
Pre-Thanksgiving dinner with the family. Notice how we all got dressed for the occasion. 
It was just the weekend we all needed. If you haven't visited the Charlottesville area I highly suggest making a trip. There were several things that we didn't get to see while we were there so I would certainly go back. I had a number of people tell me that Charlottesville has some of the best restaurants they've ever eaten at so if you have a babysitter or can manage to get away for an adult weekend let me know and I will send you the recommendations. If you plan a trip there in the fall make sure to check UVA's home game schedule.

I'm not sure if I'll get another post up between now and Thanksgiving. I feel like we've had so much going on lately. So in case I don't get to say this later, I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving full of love and joy. It's been a great year and we certainly have a lot to be thankful for.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween!

This past weekend was filled with Halloween fun! On Friday night we attended the Fairlington Mom's Club Halloween party. This is their biggest party of the year and they had a great turnout. It's a potluck dinner and all the little kiddos, and some parents, get dressed up for the occasion. At this year's party we took pigs in a blanket (that were gone in the flash of an eye) and these cute sweet treats (thank you, Pinterest)!

Each year two of the moms in the club, who are professional photographers, volunteer to set up a photo booth. You can get your child's picture made for a $5 donation or 2 canned goods to give to the Arlington Food Assistance Center. This year our club raised $120 and collected 317 pounds of food items. The photographers snapped a great picture of Carter in his monkey costume. I don't have the link to it yet but when I do I'll make sure to share. After we had Carter's picture made we did an arts and crafts project and ate dinner. That was about all he could handle considering he decided not to nap Friday afternoon.

On Saturday we went to pick out our pumpkins to carve for Halloween night. This is also the pumpkin patch we used for Carter's Halloween card photo opp. For several years we've have picked out our pumpkins from the patch at Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill in Alexandria. This year they are celebrating their 20th anniversary. The pumpkins are grown on the Navajo Indian Reservation in New Mexico and are distributed to Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill and over 1,300 other churches of various denominations throughout the nation. More than 20 non-profit organizations benefit from the proceeds of the sale including ALIVE!, Carpenter's Shelter, Community Lodgings and he Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry.

The pumpkin patch is open daily from 10:00a.m. - 8:00p.m. from October 6th- October 31st and is located at 3606 Seminary Road. Upon your arrival you're given a Radio Flyer wagon to pull around the patch to gather your pumpkins. They have pumpkins of all sizes, sweet treats and autumn soups.

Following the pumpkin patch we took Carter to Shirlington to go trick-or-treating. Most of the stores and restaurants were participating which was fun. A few places had special activities for the kids. Cakelove had free mini cupcakes for the kids to ice and decorate. I diligently worked to ice and sprinkle a cupcake for Carter and he ate it in a matter of seconds! The library had a few arts and crafts stations set up for the kids and Cafe Pizziolo gave away free slices of pizza and had a painting station for kids to decorate miniature pumpkins. It was a fun way to enjoy a nice afternoon in one of our favorite areas.

On Sunday we went into Del Ray and ate lunch at Del Ray Pizzeria. If you haven't eaten there you should definitely give it a try. I'm a bit of a pizza snob and I loved their pizza, especially the deep dish! They have a great bar and a lot of TV's so if you need a place where your husband can watch a game and grab a beer this is the place. After lunch we had a little time to kill before the parade got started so we walked around the shops. We stumbled across the cutest store called Del Ray Variety. It's like an old mom and pop shop with a little bit of everything. They have toys, party supplies, home decor, greeting cards, craft supplies, food, cosmetics, books, electronics and more! They're having a sale through the end of the month and offering 25% off all Melissa and Doug items. We've been looking for a wooden block set for Carter to play with and of course they had and we got it for $15! It was down a side street so I haven't come across it over the many years I've shopped in Del Ray but I'll now add it to my list of favorites.

Following our shopping spree we put Carter in his costume and marched in the annual Del Ray Halloween Parade. I never knew this parade existed until this year and it was so much fun! There were hundreds of parents and kids. Just as many people lined the sidewalks to watch the parade as there were participants. Carter got a little impatient towards the end because he was sick of riding in his wagon. He decided it would be fun to take everything out of his diaper bag, drop it on the ground, have me pick it up and hand it to him- repeatedly. Not fun!

We're (or maybe it's just me) excited about Halloween Thursday night. A few moms in the neighborhood and I are hosting a Court potluck dinner before the kids go trick-or-treating. It should be a great time for all the neighborhood families to get together and eat before their candy extravaganza! We have the absolute best neighborhood for trick-or-treating. There is townhouse after townhouse and they sit back off busy streets so it's safe for all the kids. In addition to the sweet treats I made above I'm also going to make these two things for our potluck dinner.

Funny Bones- PS if you make the Oreo spiders & Nutter Butter ghosts then you'll have plenty of pretzel sticks and white chocolate leftover to make these. Just purchase a bag of small marshmallows.
Crescent Mummy Dogs
I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Leftover Invitations

I'm sure you have leftover party invitations stashed in a container somewhere in your house. If you're like me I hate to throw them away. I have extra wedding invitations, holiday cards and party invitations that I can't talk myself into tossing in the trash. Why? That is a great question. I guess I'm a sentimental person (insert Chris's laughter). However, a few weeks ago we were invited to one of dear friend's second birthday party and I realized I didn't have a card. I didn't have time to go to the store so I decided to get crafty and came up with a great way to recycle Carter's birthday party invitations!

Carter's Under The Sea Birthday Party Invitations 

Jack's personalized birthday present!

Now if I can only come up with a creative way to use the remainder of my wedding invitations!

I hope everyone has a great weekend. We're off to the Fairlington Mom's Club Halloween party tonight. Check out these cute little sweets I made.

The spiders are Oreos with pretzel sticks as the legs and M&Ms as the eyes. Put a dollop of chocolate icing in a Ziploc bag, cut the tip of one of the corners and pipe the icing on the back of the M&M and there ya go! The ghosts are Nutter Butters dipped in white chocolate candy bark and the eyes are mini chocolate chips. Super easy and tasty!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cox Farms

This past weekend we decided to take Carter to Cox Farms in Centreville, VA. It is a family owned and operated farm situated on 116 acres of undeveloped land in the Centreville/Chantilly community. They host a fall festival each year which is easily one of the most popular in the DC area and Cox Farm's biggest event.
Carter enjoyed sitting on the John Deere tractor
I have heard friends and co-workers talk about this event for years so I was excited about our first trip. It surely didn't disappoint! We started off our afternoon by enjoying some BBQ, which was smoked on the farm. After lunch we ventured to our first slide. That is one of the best things they have at Cox Farms. There are over six different ones to choose from, the biggest and baddest being the Dino-slide which is 150 feet long and six lanes wide. Unfortunately we didn't get to give them all a try, but that's what next year is for. Chris took Carter down the treetops slide and Carter joined me on the castle slide. I don't really know what he thought about them but he certainly didn't cry. I think he was overwhelmed by everything surrounding him. There were hundreds of people there and little children running around everywhere.

Chris & Carter going down the treetop slide!

Waiting to go down the castle slide.
A view of the Dino slide in the background.
Throughout the farm they had bails of hay stacked high for the kids to climb on and beneath them they created a tunnel to crawl through. Carter wasn't really interested in either. He preferred to pull himself up on the bench and watch everyone else. They also had a kid zone for the little kids to run around.

Enjoying the kid zone!
In the center of the farm they have a music stage featuring live bluegrass and classic rock music. If milking a cow is more your thing, they have a stage for that too. They feature a musical milking show and guests are allowed to go on stage afterwards and give it their best shot. If you're looking for a little something sweet you can treat yourself to funnel cakes, caramel apples and kettle corn. They also have fresh pressed cider for everyone to enjoy. There is a Nacho Cheese House, the Dawg House (featuring gourmet hot dogs), the BBQ Shack, Cox's Kitchen for hamburgers and pizza, among many other options. Maybe you're in the mood for hot chocolate or a pumpkin spice latte, not to worry....they have it too!

Besides the great slides, the hayride was one of my favorites. They take you on a 20 minute hayride throughout the farm pulled by an antique tractor. You go through an enchanted forest, encounter some aliens, see Charlie Brown and friends, visit an old western town and Superman even made an appearance to help pull us through a muddy ditch.

I could go on and on about this place. It is huge and a lot of fun. The only downside was that it was really crowded on Saturday. Obviously the weekends are the most popular time for families to attend; therefore, I definitely think it would be worth taking a morning or afternoon off work to take your family. We spent a lot of time waiting in line to go down the slides and to take a hayride so we didn't get to do everything that I wished we had. We stayed about two and half hours and that was all Carter could take before we had to head home for his nap. So my suggestion is to go on a weekday and call ahead to make sure there isn't a school field trip on the day you plan on going. There is an option to purchase your tickets online which I highly suggest doing. We were able to avoid long lines to get into the farm by purchasing ours in advance. There is also a secret entrance to the farm which helps you avoid long lines of traffic entering and exiting the parking lot. Visit their website for further details.
The new mascot for the Pork Producers!
When you're leaving the farm everyone gets to pick out a pumpkin to take home for free. There is also a great market to visit where you can purchase fresh apples, cider, homemade pies, pumpkins and many other fun treats.

On Sunday we took it easy around the house and Chris smoked a pork shoulder and I made taco soup. Justin came to town on Sunday and is staying with us this week while he's here on business. Brandon came over on Sunday night and we all enjoyed each other's company while watching football. I think Carter really enjoyed all the attention and was a bit of a show-off!
U.S. Capitol tour on a gorgeous day


We're approaching a busy weekend filled with fun Halloween activities. It's hard to believe that Halloween is just a week away. Before we know it Christmas will be here!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Carter Alan Wall

I've held off writing this post for several months for many reasons. Part of me wasn't sure where to begin. I want to share our story simply because I hope it will help someone else who may be going through the same situation as we are and can give them some comfort. As we navigated our way through the past few months I was always hesitant to tell people what we were going through because part of me kept waiting on that appointment where we would be told everything was just fine and then there would be no story to tell. So much happened over the course of just a few months that it was exhausting to even think about catching people up individually, so here is our story.

When we took Carter to his nine month appointment we were asked to fill out an Ages & Stages Nine Month Questionnaire. It was a series of questions about activities that babies may do at nine months. It stated that our baby may have already done some of the activities described and there may be some that our baby has not begun doing. As I got about midway through the questionnaire I started to get worried. I realized that I was answering "not yet" to the majority of the questions. I asked Chris, "do they really think he should be doing all of these things at nine months?" The questionnaire covered communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving and personal-social skills. After our pediatrician came in and spoke with us at length we were told that they recommended Carter be evaluated through the P.I.E. (Parent Infant Education) program in Arlington County. She said that Carter may have enough significant delays that would qualify him for speech and/or physical therapy. Seriously? I remember the end of the appointment being a blur. I could hardly think or see straight. Was she really telling me that something was wrong with our precious angel? How could this possibly be? I was so upset and mad that I just felt sick.Chris and I weren't sure what to think of her recommendation. Part of us wanted to tell her that she was wrong and we knew Carter was OK but then the other part of us started to worry.

The P.I.E. program is provided through the county and it's a developmental assessment where early intervention service providers meet with you and your child to learn about your child's developmental strengths and needs. They help you devise a plan for any early intervention they may deem helpful for your child. We were first assigned a case worker who came to the house to meet with us and ask us general questions about my pregnancy, Carter's birth and the first nine months of Carter's life. The second visit was with our case worker, a physical therapist and a speech therapist. They watched Carter play with toys, communicate with others and use his muscles to move and play. Following our play time they proceeded to ask me a series of questions. Where do I want Carter to be in a year? What would I ideally like him to be doing at this time? I was so overwhelmed I didn't know what to say. All I wanted to know was whether or not they thought therapies were necessary. Why were they asking me all these questions? Aren't they the ones who are supposed to tell me what activities he should be doing at this time and where Carter should be in a year? Ugh, it stresses me out to think back to it. They wanted this to be a team effort yet I felt so overwhelmed and was looking for more guidance than anything else.

During the last five minutes of our appointment I was told that Carter did qualify for speech and physical therapy and they recommended both therapies every other week. Part of me was still in shock that they thought he needed help. I guess that was denial on my part. When someone tells you that something in wrong with your loved one you don't want to believe it. I honestly had no idea that the second appointment would be as lengthy as it was nor did I expect them to say that Carter qualified for speech and physical therapy. Chris wasn't able to be home for the appointment so of course he had a lot of questions and concerns afterwards when I told him the outcome. My recommendation is to make sure both parents participate in these appointments should you have to go through the P.I.E. program evaluation. Everyone we met with was extremely nice and considerate but you need both parents present. When I think back to our situation we strongly believed that Carter was fine and wasn't going to need therapies so the fact that we both couldn't be there didn't seem like a big deal at the time. I guess the lesson learned is that we should have gone into the evaluation with more of an open mind and been prepared for the two different outcomes.

Following Carter's assessment and diagnosis we were assigned a speech therapist, Beulah, and physical therapist, Colleen. They having been coming to our house every other week since Carter was around ten months old. Beulah comes at 8:00a.m. on Mondays and Colleen comes the following Tuesday at 8:00a.m. Yes, they actually come to our house! I guess that's the nice thing about qualifying for therapies through the county. They will come to your house or if you child is in daycare they will meet you there. It's important to do the therapy in the child's environment so he can learn skills to use on a daily basis.

We were a little skeptical of speech therapy at first because all Beulah really does is sit on the floor and play with Carter. She works on over emphasizing letters and words. I read online, before we got started, about creating a sound bag. I placed several toys in a bag that began with the same letter. We decided to start with the letter B. I put a boat, ball, book, and bird in his bag and we constantly worked on emphasizing the letter B and playing with those particular toys. We were pleased that just two weeks later he started making the B sound. We sing a lot of songs and read a lot of books during speech therapy too. At the end of each session Beulah will give us a sheet of recommended activities we work with Carter on for the following two weeks. Beulah told us at the beginning of our therapy sessions that it's very common for children with physical delays to have speech delays too. Typically children become more vocal once they mobilize. We noticed a huge improvement in Carter's overall speech and sounds once he started crawling. He needed to work on his core strength in order to verbalize sounds so you can easily see how these two therapies work together.

When Colleen comes to see us she gives Carter a full blown work-out! The little guy is absolutely exhausted by the time she leaves but it's great to see him working so hard. Colleen just recently finished graduate school so Carter is one of her first patients. She's young and reminds me a lot of myself at her age so Carter responds to her really well. When Colleen first started coming Carter was just starting to sit up securely. We have done exercises varying from baby sit-ups, to balancing on a big bouncy ball, to wheelbarrow walks, and recently we were given the task of mastering the stairs! Funny huh? Most people try everything they can to keep their kid away from the stairs and we're encouraging Carter to crawl up them.

At Carter's nine month appointment were also told that he has low muscle tone. There really isn't much you can do to change his tone, other than work to strengthen his muscles. Carter was breech and didn't really move around a lot in the womb. Some of our personal research has suggested that being breech can cause low muscle tone and other studies have shown that some babies are breech because they have low muscle tone. I guess we'll never know, but Carter was basically in a V shape throughout my pregnancy. When he was first born, and for several months afterwards, he kept his little legs pulled up like a frog. We also began to notice as he got older, that when sitting up the soles of Carter's feet were turned so much that they faced the sky. Once he had the strength to stand up we noticed that he stands on the inside of his feet. He won't stand flat footed for the life of him. After we brought this to Colleen's attention she decided to order him orthotics to wear in his shoes. Not only will this help correct his foot but our hope was that it would give him more confidence to stand and walk.

Carter's legs stayed like this for several months.
Nine month check-up. Can he get any cuter?!
Notice how Carter's feet turn up.

After two months of these therapies under our belt we approached Carter's 12 month check-up. We weren't worried going into this appointment at all. Actually we were very pleased with Carter's advancements and were happy to share them with his pediatrician. On a side note, we don't necessarily see the same doctor at every appointment. That is the one down side to our pediatrician. It's a large practice; therefore, to get an appointment with the doctor you like you have to schedule it months in advance. Not convenient at all. We had seen the same doctor for all of Carter's appointments up until his nine month appointment, but we were fortunately going back to our original doctor for his 12 month appointment. We were anxious to see what she had to say about Carter and we really hoped that she would just shrug off the worries before and tell us that Carter was right where he needed to be. Well unfortunately that wasn't the case. Things started to go down hill when she told us that she was concerned because Carter's head circumference hadn't changed since his nine month appointment. I didn't exactly share her concern because Carter has always been in the highest percentile for his head circumference so maybe his body was now catching up to his head size. Secondly, she was concerned that his soft spot hadn't closed even though she told us it can take up to 18 months to do so. Thirdly, she was worried about his feet. Fourthly, she was worried that he wasn't crawling and walking even though we told her we had seen significant improvements since we started the therapies. Before we knew it she was throwing out words like neurosurgeon, geneticist, diseases, disorders, etc. Once again we were caught completely off guard. We expected her to be pleased with Carter's progress not throw out additional concerns! Long story short, she was concerned that there may be an underlying issue that could tie all of these things together. She referred us to a geneticist that she said could take us months to get into (very encouraging) and if we couldn't get in with a geneticist then we at least needed to see a neurosurgeon about Carter's head. Talk about sucking the life out of you.

Seriously? We had already gone through enough and were happy with how far we had come with Carter and now we're facing this? Like I mentioned earlier, part of us wanted to tell her she that she was crazy and walk the other way but at the same time she had planted a seed of doubt in our minds so how could we not proceed? Fortunately I was able to get an appointment with one of the geneticists she recommended. The first one was booked through the end of the year (I called in June); however, the second doctor happened to have an opening two weeks later. We accepted the appointment and took Carter to see a geneticist at Children's National Medical Center. At least I knew we were going to one of the top children's facilities in the country but I was worried sick. The hospital was extremely nice but it was hard not to have a knot in your stomach when you saw all the precious little kids there, some for cancer treatment and others for various other medical concerns. If you have a child then you know that deep almost painful love you have for your child and how you would do anything in this world for them. As we checked in and made our way to the genetics department I saw the faces of so many strong parents strolling the hallways with their little angels.

At our appointment we first met with a genetic counselor. She asked each of us our family history, asked me about my pregnancy and had us bring her up to speed on Carter. Then the geneticist came in and following a round of questions he did Carter's physical exam. He looked and his hands, stomach, back, head, feet and legs. He said from a physical standpoint there was absolutely nothing that concerned him. However, Carter did have enough developmental delays that he recommended genetic testing. He informed us that when they see children with these basic delays they recommend three different tests as a starting point. The first test was for muscular dystrophy and any other  underlining muscle disorders. Since Carter has low muscle tone they felt it was best to rule this out. The second test was for a rare disease called Fragile X, an inherited type of cognitive impairment. I still haven't researched this disorder because the doctor told us that it is a very bad diagnosis. There was nothing that made the doctor think that Carter had the disease; however, he said it's common that symptoms don't present themselves until children get older. By this point my heart was racing. And last but not least, the third test was a chromosomal micro-array analysis, which is a DNA-based method of genetic analysis that can identify chromosome abnormalities. It's a very complicated process and if something should come back abnormal then that would potentially open Chris and I up for testing. They said that this piece to the puzzle is important because should there be irregularities there is a chance we could pass them along to additional children should we have them. Chris and I certainly want more kids so it was important to us to make sure that everything was normal.

Since we were already at the hospital they told us they could go ahead and take Carter's blood so we wouldn't have to come back. You would think they would take a child's blood differently from an adult but that certainly wasn't the case. They had me sit in the chair like you would at your doctor's office and place Carter in my lap. I had to hold his little arm up on the arm rest and hold it in place while they tied the tourniquet around his arm. Talk about tears! Not only was Carter crying but so was I. Poor little guy was such a trooper. He had no idea what was going on and how worried sick Chris and I were but yet there he sat through all of this with a big smile on his face. It will get you every time!

As you can imagine all of this was hard to process. There were a lot of technical terms thrown at us so there was a lot to think about. Of course the process couldn't be easy so the first hurdle was to get our insurance to approve the testing. Some insurance companies don't cover the testing, some cover portions of it and some cover all of it. The three tests run around $4,000. After waiting about two weeks we heard from our insurance and were relieved to find out that they would cover the majority of the costs. However, Chris and I had already decided that we were going to go through with the tests regardless. As I mentioned before, these doctors planted multiple seeds of doubt in our mind and for our own sanity we knew we needed to get these tests done so we could move on with our lives. Heaven forbid they come back abnormal, then we were prepared to put our game faces on and fight it, but we also prayed that everything would be OK so that we could move on.

Since we knew it was going to take a month before we heard back about Carter's tests we decided to try and not give it much thought. August was filled with fun trips and we decided not to let anything keep us from enjoying our time with family and friends. Our worries were continuously put at ease over the following few weeks with Carter's progress. That was the one thing that always gave us hope in this situation. Maybe Carter wasn't where most babies his age were developmentally but we continued to see progress on a daily basis. Of course I would have been concerned had we not seen improvements, especially once we started his therapies, but we were! What's wrong if a child takes a little longer to develop? Nowadays all these percentiles are thrown at you and it causes you to worry about whether or not your child is below average, average or above average.

Chris and I have gone through a range of emotions. Part of us has been very angry with our pediatrician and we've wondered if all of these tests were really necessary. Were they just covering themselves in this situation? But then again, they're the experts so we wanted to trust them and if something was wrong then we were getting a jump start on intervention. You don't know what to think or what to do. Regardless, you put your faith in God and hope and pray that everything will be OK.

We ended up getting the test results back at three separate times and thankfully everything came back normal!!! Hallelujah! They told us that no further testing is recommended at this time and that they'd like to see Carter in six months to make sure he's still progressing. While we tried our best to remain confident through all of this, it was hard. When someone plants that seed of doubt you can't help but worry, or at least I can't. I unfortunately will let my mind run to the worst case scenario but I knew whatever we were faced with we would handle it. Team Wall is strong and even more so now that Carter has joined! There isn't anything in this entire world that we wouldn't do for him. Thankfully we don't have to face that fight right now. Carter is our precious little angel and while he may not be walking right now like most 15 month old kids, he will!

Carter loves to be around other children. He just lights up when he sees the kids outside and he can't wait to get out there and be with them. It can be hard at times to see all the other children running around and you can see in Carter's eyes that he wants to be right there with them. They'll always run up to Carter and say hi and play with him for a few minutes, but as all kids, then they're off to play with something else. I wish he could chase after them but I just have to remember to be patient. Carter will do things on his own timetable and there is nothing wrong with that. We're blessed to have a wonderful nanny who loves him dearly and works with him throughout the day. We're also blessed to have wonderful family and friends who have prayed for each of us through all of this. Their love and support means the world to us.
Carter with his cousins, Witt and Walker.
Carter is doing great. He is crawling everywhere these days and getting into all kinds of mischief. He can crawl the stairs on his own and cruise around the furniture, but we have a ways to go before he will walk. His left leg is considerably weaker than his right so we're working on strengthening it. We're really going to have to work hard on his leg strength and balance before he will get to walking but we'll eventually get there. He waves and says "bye, bye", and loves to say da-da, ball, bu-bu (for bubbles) and recently started saying mama (but has given that word up this past week, ha)! At Carter's 15 month appointment our pediatrician (the one who recommended the genetic testing) was very pleased with his progress. He gained two pounds, grew two and a half inches and his head grew by half an inch. She was happy that the testing came back normal and that he was progressing with his therapies. When I told her that he still wasn't walking she brushed it off like it wasn't a big deal at all. Funny how circumstances change in just three months.

All of this has certainly been a learning process. Part of me wants to say that it's important to stick with your intuition and gut. You know if there is something wrong with your child. This doesn't mean that you should discredit your doctors but maybe consider getting a second opinion. After our experience I feel like our pediatrician's office doesn't know what to do if your child isn't text book. I think they're so worried about missing something or being at fault that they refer you to to a specialist. Maybe that's the right thing to do in certain situations. I don't know. I guess I let my fear turn into denial to a certain extent but in the end I guess it never hurts to rule things out. Maybe a wait and see approach is best for your situation. It's hard to know what to do but if you're faced with a similar situation go with your gut, get a second opinion and have faith that everything will work out the way it's supposed to.

So that's our story for now. Maybe it will answer some people's questions when they wonder why Carter isn't walking. Hopefully it will ease someone else's fears if their child has developmental delays. But most importantly we want to thank everyone who has been there for all three of us over the past seven months. It has been an emotional roller coaster but we made it through with everyone's love and support.


Erin, Chris & Carter