Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Driving & Dancing

Wow! What a busy & successful weekend!! I-20 was very familiar with me headed back and forth all weekend long! I enjoyed such an exciting trip full of personal growth in Dallas with my amazing team, but I was not about to miss my sweet girls first dance recital. Mimi came to help with the kids Thursday through Sunday! I don't think I could ever fully express how thankful we are for her help and support! She's a true God send! 

One of my drives to Dallas even consisted of a reevaluation for Drake with his new Speech Therapist. All of this therapist are excited about his progress and looking forward to working with him on new goals. My heart fills with pride to hear that he has mastered previous goals!! This is HUGE!!! The difference we have seen in our sweet boy since he began taking supplements is undeniable! When you see something have such an impact in your own life, you just can't help but want to share it with everyone! 

Kennedy's dance recital was even more exciting than I expected! Watching her preform on stage was heart warming! For a 3 year-old performing, we were all very much impressed with how well she did! The best part was during her tap routine when she was waving and blowing me kisses on the side of the stage...oh, how I love that girl! 

Brian did an amazing job as Super Daddy this weekend! He even took Kennedy & Hayes swimming! Hayes attended a meeting at the brewery with daddy while Kennedy was at her dance rehearsal with Mimi! Spending a little extra one-on-one time with their daddy is good for them...and for him :) 

Pool time with Daddy!

He's getting so big!

My handsome boy! 

Ready to dance!

"hi mom!"

The finale!

So proud of our tiny dancer!

Breaking ground at the brewery!!!

So proud to call these amazing women my business partners! 

Another wonderful business partner! 

My sister's sweet family!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Exciting News!!!

A new adventure has been brewing in the Gilstrap household for the past 3 years! Endless amounts of planning, researching, and brainstorming ideas have gone into the creation of our family owned business! Back when we were adjusting to our new life following our NICU stay, I asked Brian what he wanted to do for work if he could do anything in the world.

me - If money were no object, and you could do whatever you wanted, what would be your dream job?
Brian - I would love to own a brewery with my brother.
me - Then lets do it!
Brian - We could never afford to do that.
me - Well, we didn't think we could afford to live on one income, but somehow we are making that work. 
Brian - You really think we can do this?
me - I know we can do this! 

And so it began...East Texas Brewing Company was born! I am thrilled to have the wheels in motion and know that we are going to be up and running in just a few short months! We are excited...nervous...and overjoyed! Witnessing Brian and his brother, Matt, bring each of their strengths together in a collaboration of an excellent business model has been fun to watch. I also enjoy throwing in my two cents, as well!

More exciting news...i received a call this week letting me know that the food I requested for Drake has been approved and our DME company will be able to deliver it with his monthly order! Adding supplements has already improved his overall health and wellness; therefore, we are looking forward to getting him on an organic whole food based diet! He is consistently able to press his buttons (Big Mack Switches) to communicate whether he wants "More, Please" or if he is "All Done." All of his therapist have been commenting about his improved head control and his elongated rib cage! His nurses are pleased with his increased time off of his ventilator. This is good for a multitude of reasons...including the fact that he doesn't like being on the vent and he is able to disconnect himself now, too! Brian and I are thrilled about every improvement! 

Our sweet Hayes has his first two bottom teeth! Even through the teething, he is still just the happiest baby. He is great about sitting, playing with toys, and entertaining himself. He enjoys talking to us (in his own way) and he doesn't miss a beat of anything that goes on around our house.  Before we know it he will be crawling everywhere! Kennedy loves helping with both Drake and Hayes! I absolutely LOVE hearing and watching her interact with her brothers! One of their favorite things is getting in Drake's bed right before bed to play! Kennedy provides lots of entertainment and belly laughs for the boys and us! 

While we don't know what the future holds for us, we are excited to embark on our next journey together!    

Our ETX Brewing Co. will be located just "off the square" in downtown Tyler, TX.

Over the next few months, this former tire shop will transform into our dream of a microbrewery! I look forward to sharing the progress along our journey!

Signing the paperwork and getting things started! 

Gait trainer time!

Oh, this sweet boy! Favorite activity...removing the boarders from the mats

Helping daddy make pizza!

Hanging out with daddy!

We enjoyed a wonderful lunch with Brian's grandparents! 94 & 86 years old plus 67 years of marriage! How very lucky we are to be able to spend time with them!

Our tiny dancer!

Standing tall!

"Can Drake watch one show before bedtime?" 

UT Tyler Patriot Million Dollar Hole in One - Such a fun evening raising money for scholarships! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Happy Smother's Week

Looking into the sweet faces of Drake, Kennedy & Hayes make me happy to be their mother every day...actually, they make me thankful to be their mommy! My Mother's Day was complete with a homemade breakfast, lunch & dinner along with a single rose delivered by my sweet Kennedy! We sent Happy Mother's Day videos to the special mothers in our lives, but Kennedy sounded more like Happy Smother's Day on the messages. On the message to Mimi, Hayes chimed in with his message and it caught me completely off guard! He was just too funny! 

Brian said one day simply isn't enough; therefore, we are celebrating Mother's Week around our home! I'm certainly not going to argue about that! On Thursday, we took a fun family boat ride on the lake! It was Hayes' very first boat ride, and he really seemed to enjoy it! We even had a picnic dinner out on the water! Definitely Kennedy approved! 
On Friday we took a family walk down to our neighborhood park, and Hayes experienced another first on the swings! His smile was a good sign that he loved every second! 

Today we packed everyone up for a visit to Prosthetics Orthotics Associates here in Tyler to have adjustments made to Drake's leg braces. His right AFO (Ankle Foot Orthotic) was causing a sore on his ankle. After several adjustments, they seem to be much better! Lisa and I were excited to have a "quick" appointment here in Tyler! We only needed: his chair, vent/tubing, suction machine, emergency bag, and backpack! His therapist thought we were funny this morning when we were talking about "traveling light." Hey, for us, that is traveling light! 

Just when we thought our nursing situation was ideal...Poor Lisa is still having to deal with the aftermath and drama of her car accident. Our other day nurse, Lindsey, injured her shoulder and is currently recovering. One of our night nurses informed us that he can no longer work on Friday bad as this may sound, Lisa is making progress, Lindsey is already feeling better and at least we have night nursing 6 days per week! Plus, they are all really wonderful and we can't have just anyone caring for Drake. 

On this Mother's Week and every week I am forever thankful to my 3 precious kiddos who made me a mom...a truly lucky mom! 

My little loves! 

Real life! 

7 Months Old!!!

Brother time!

He loves the swings! 

Park time!

Baby's 1st boat ride!

She loves her daddy!

I love this one! 

Group pic!

My baby boy!

Future nurse or doctor???

King of the house!

Everyone was great during Drake's appointment! 

Sprinkler fun!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Mommy's Weekend Getaway!

What an honor...I was asked to speak at an event in New Braunfels on Thursday night! We had an excellent turnout, and I love being able to share my story in the hopes of helping others. I stayed with Brian's sister and her family for the weekend and enjoyed the luxuries of vacations...staying up late, sleeping in, pedicures, brunch, and visiting my favorite No-Kill Animal Shelter! 

Kennedy had a big weekend, too! Daddy took her out on a boat ride with him and Papa! She told me all about it..."We went really FAST and then we went SLOW! Maybe next time you can come with us, too!" I definitely think we will have lots of boat time in the near future! Hooray for summers on the lake! 

Drake is continuing to do well with therapies and he seems to be adjusting to his new speech therapist. We are almost 2 weeks into him using 2 buttons: one for "more, please" and one for "all done." He enjoys being in control of the situation & he has caught on really quickly! Seeing our sweet boy getting stronger, healthier & accomplishing so many goals is the best feeling in the world! 

Hayes is teething, and it is not fun. Praying this will pass soon and our sweet boy will be back to his happy little self in no time! 

I was able to enjoy my time away because I knew my sweet babies were in good hands with daddy, Mimi & our wonderful nurses! I'm so very thankful for our "Village" who are all big part of our lives!

Oh, this laughter!
Boy time!

Grocery shopping with Daddy!

Pure joy!

My FUN trip!!!

Soccer with Daddy!

Boat fun!

Love these two!!

Sweet baby Hayes is getting so big!

Just hanging out!

Skipping rocks...well, Tossing a few rocks into the lake!

Play date with Harper!!