Since we were on vacation last week I decided to wait to really begin Abbie’s new neurodevelopmental program until this week when we could be consistent from the start. It’s only been three days and we can already see that our intution about her response was correct. We are already noting changes, she is improving every day and it is incredibly motivating for each of us — which is good because this program requires all of us to contribute.

I have been so impressed with my boys, each taking an arm or leg to help Abbie complete an exercise. I honestly hadn’t planned on including the twins in the patterning team, but they refused to be left out. They are doing wonderfully, listen to instruction well, and most importantly, give Abbie constant encouragement while she works. Her program has blossomed into a “Team Vara” project, and that is a blessing for all of us.

Some particulars: one of her activities is “phrase building” where I make up a three word phrase then say the first word, followed by the first and second words together, then finally the first, second and third words. I use anything from “Abbie dances ballet” to “pigs smell stinky” (from our recent trip to the zoo). I call them her “stories”, and we have to do them as often as possible, with her looking right at my mouth. At the end of the first day of program Abbie was wide awake long after bedtime. So, I said, “Time for stories! If you want them, you have to look right at my mouth.” Within about a second her eyes were locked onto my face and we began. This was really exciting to me because we are stil working so hard on her vision!

Many of the exercises are physically demanding for Abbie, from being moved in a crawling pattern to her favorite, “tuck-in/blast-out” where we curl her into a little ball and then “blast out” all her limbs. In just three days we have seen such an improvement in her tone, especially in her arms. She also knows all of the patterns already, so often we have to tell her to relax and let us do it for her instead of trying to help us.

It’s also been interesting to see changes in areas we haven’t been working on directly, like her mouth. We do have exercises for her mouth, but I lost the special piece of equipment that we use while we were in Dallas, and we’re awaiting the arrival of a new one. So. right now she’s off the hook for those exercise, but I think the general stimulation of the program is causing her mouth tone to improve, cutting down on drooling and suctioning immensely!

As much as we cherish her, our whole life does not revolve around Abbie. With four other kids we get joy and laughter from all directions. An example is a conversation I had with Matthew on the way to the store a couple nights ago. He said that girls “freak him out.” I was wondering if he is entering the “freaked out because I’m starting to like them” phase, so I asked what was so troublesome about girls. He said, “Ugh! Mom, hardly any of them even know how to play dodgeball!!” I got a good giggle from that, and a bit of relief too. In his mind it’s still all about playground prowess.

Also want to pass on some terrific news I got this morning. Our friend Jim Winand is at Dr. Tennant’s clinic, being supported as he fights stage 4 colon cancer. His wife, Remle emailed me that she almost called yesterday morning to tell me they were quitting because it was so hard and Jimmy was in so much pain. Then, in the afternoon they met with Dr. Tennant…they are in the healing range, his body has responded, and they think the cancer may already be gone (they will be testing for that at the end of the week.) Praise God!! Please continue to pray for Jim’s pain to abate, and for their homecoming to be soon. You can check in on them at

God is so good to us, it overwhelms me!