Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Greensboro Buddy Walk 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope that all of you are doing well and enjoying this beautiful fall weather. As our little Jack grows bigger and stronger everyday, we like to give thanks to those of you who have shown us such great care and support during these last few months. At this time, we also would like to invite you and your family to further support our Jack and many other special children at the Down Syndrome of Greater Greensboro's (DSNGG) Seventh Annual Buddy Walk this fall.

The Buddy Walk of Greensboro will be held on Saturday, October 23rd at Triad Park in Colfax, NC from 11 am until 3 pm. Activities will include games, crafts, music, volleyball, a short spirited one-mile walk, food, fun, and more! The Buddy Walk is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness about Down Syndrome, and last year over 275 walks around the country were held during the month of October.

The DSNGG is a group of parents (like us) dedicated to supporting one another, raising awareness, and providing opportunities for individuals with Down Syndrome throughout central North Carolina. The Greensboro Buddy Walk is the main fundraiser for DSNGG, and the money raised at this event provides funds for our group to provide gift bags for families of newly diagnosed babies (like Jack), quarterly activities for families, and scholarship opportunities. We are also affiliated with the Family Support Network of Central Carolina, a wonderful organization that serves families of children with special needs in Alamance, Caswell, Guilford, Randolph, and Rockingham counties.

Our family would love for you to join us this year at the Buddy Walk in honor of our little Jack, born May 28th. You can register for the Buddy Walk through the website http://www.buddywalkgreensboro.org/ or you can register on the day of the walk at Triad Park. Registration is $15 per person (includes a DSNGG Buddy Walk T-shirt) but there is a discount for families of more than three. For more information, you may contact us or the event coordinator, Lauri Lyn Hodges, at (336) 870-5238 or send an email to nickelhodges@yahoo.com.

Although DSNGG T-shirts are included in your Buddy Walk registration, we are also making our own "Jack's Pack" T-shirts for the day of the walk in order to show Jack our utmost support. So, if you are interested in standing out in the crowd with us and want an additional "Jack's Pack" T-shirt, please send us a check ($10 per shirt) and let us know what sizes you need. We need to order them soon, so please send your order and money to us by October 5th. Email me at korey.hickling@gmail.com if you need our mailing address to send your check.

We realize that everyone might not be able to attend the Buddy Walk this year, but we would greatly appreciate any donations you could offer to the DSNGG. Our new "High Five" campaign permits a fast and easy way to donate in increments of $5 by giving Jack "high fives." To send Jack a "High Five," simply visit http://www.buddywalkgreensboro.org/ and click on "Donate" at the bottom of the screen. You must click on "Donate in support of" listed on the left hand side underneath the Down Syndrome Network of Greater Greensboro area and insert "Jack Hickling - HIGH FIVE" before your final click. If you want to donate more that $5, you may insert the amount you wish to donate, and then type in the amount of "high fives" your donation corresponds to. (For example, if you wish to donate $20 (this would be 4 "high fives"), you would type in "Jack Hickling - 4 HIGH FIVES." The child who gets the most "high fives" will be featured in our Buddy Walk brochure for 2011, so let's make sure it's Jack!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this, and for considering support for our group, particularly for our little Jack. We would not be where we are in our lives without our many friends and family. We love you all very much and appreciate any support you can offer. Please email with any questions!

We hope to see you on October 23rd!


Korey, Robert, and Jack Hickling

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A "Jack" Pot Update

So, I wish that I had the chance to blog before now, but I also wish that I hadn't been called into work while I was on call yesterday for an entire twelve hour shift. I have unfortunately had to work more like 38 hours this week, rather than the 24 that I am supposed to as a part time employee. But, this is my job after all, and with my luck (please refer to last post), it seems that whenever I'm on call I end up getting called in A LOT! Oh well ... I do love being a nurse, but it's just very difficult not seeing your baby for 13 hours a day for the better part of the week! :(

Jack is doing so great! He's getting so much bigger, we can hardly believe it! He hasn't been officially weighed since he was about 10 weeks old (and he's now 16 weeks), but we estimate he's about 13 pounds. We'll find out for sure at his 4-month check up at the pediatrician's office within the next couple weeks. Feeding, in terms of Jack's suck and swallow, is much better; however, we have found that a 4 month old is much more interested in his surroundings than a 2 or 3 month old, so he gets very distracted very easily while eating. I was actually concerned one day about how long it was taking to feed him, so I researched "4-month old behavior" online and found that feeding typically takes a difficult turn at this age, due to babies' fascination with their surrounding environment. While it can be frustrating to take longer to feed Jack (due to many breaks to watch the ceiling fan, or to listen to the dog bark, or to watch his fingers and toes move, or to grab mommy's hair or face, or to fixate on the fun patterns on our couch pillows), it is very exciting to see him take in so much of what is happening around him. I know that all parents experience this excitement, but to see our "special" little boy is so alert and reactive to his environment is just absolute bliss!

Furthermore, when Jack does not have a bottle in his mouth (or a hand or a toy), he is chatting up a storm. I swear, some days the kid doesn't shut up! He's now making all kinds of noises and using all kinds of oral muscles to do so (according to his speech therapist aunt Nancy). Aunt Nancy was amazed last weekend at the beach (yes ... Jack's fourth beach trip within four months of life ... some people would die for such vacations!). She said that he looked great and was right on track in terms of his communication and language development as far as she could tell at his age. Jack "talks" so much some days that I have a hard time believing that he's ever going to have speech delays. I understand that realistically Jack will need speech therapy for speech articulation and word forming, but I have no doubt that this child wants to talk, and he already has a lot to share!

A couple of weeks ago the CDSA (Child Development Services Agency) visited Jack with a physical therapist to evaluate him for PT, because our Lisa, our Family Support Network liason, had recommended it. The PT who evaluated him noticed a slight head tilt to the right (as Lisa suspected), but said that it was very slight and not terribly concerning. And, other than that, she evaluated that Jack was right on track with his milestones for any typical three and a half month old baby (of course, he wowed her with his stunning "tummy time" skills ... as seen above, and he also rolled over while she was here, ruining his shot at needing PT!). His gross motor skills and fine motor skills scored as right on track with his age, so she did not feel that he currently qualified for PT their services. (Yay!)

Well, knowing me (the perfectionist), the head tilt thing clearly bothered me, so Robert and I have made the decision to get Jack physical therapy privately through Moses Cone Outpatient Rehab with a very highly recommended pediatric PT here in town. It required a referral from our pediatrician to get our first appointment and insurance should cover some of the therapy, but we still feel very fortunate to be able to afford private therapy for Jack. We count our blessings everyday, and hope that, while Jack is currently meeting all of his milestones, we'll keep it that way by having weekly PT.

Did I mention that Jack LOVES music? We discovered this early on, but this reality has come into full bloom (with his adorable, happy personality) only recently. We found that music was the magic trick to him lifting his head well during "tummy time" when my sisters were here a few weeks ago. My sister Kelly had this boom box toy that Jack was immediately drawn to so she let us have it (thanks, Kelly!), and he's been a pro ever since. We also found out that Jack shares a commonality with his "Pops" last weekend on the way home from the beach. He was a little fussy in the car ride home, so we changed the Sirius radio station to classical music, and Jack immediately calmed down ... he loves classical music! Good thing we've enrolled in Musikgarten class for music therapy this fall, thanks to our friend Evan Logan!

So, all is well at the Casa del Hickling, and we hope that all is well with you too! We love all of you very much, and thanks for reading. Stay tuned ...

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Life and Times

If you require eyeglasses for reading, I suggest you don them, as this is going to be a LONG post ....

So, today is Robert and my second wedding anniversary, and this weekend I have learned a lot about myself, about my family, and my future.

Foremost today, I look back on our wedding day two years ago which, not unlike many portions of my life this far, was nothing short of very, very eventful. (Those of you who were kind enough to still attend our beach wedding during Hurricane Hanna in Atlantic Beach two years ago know exactly what I mean.) It was certainly a day to remember, just as this weekend has been for me.

This day has been as much about reflection as it has been about gratitude and thankfulness.

As much as Robert likes to deny this, I knew that I was going to marry him the very moment that I met him. For those of you who don't know the story of our beginning, here it is ...

The year was 1999, and Robert was a freshman at NC State while I was a freshman at UNC. We were both from Greensboro but had never met before, despite our knowing many mutual friends. It was a Saturday night, and I, having recently been through some personal difficulties, planned to stay in for the night. My suite mates, two wonderful girls from Eastern NC, were loudly enjoying some Backstreet Boys on their CD player (yes, this was before the days of I Pods). At the time, in Granville Towers, we stayed in rooms (two people per room) that were adjoined by one bathroom. Fairly early in the evening there was a slight tapping at my bathroom door, while I was in my room "minding my own business." Who would've known that on the other side of my door was the beginning of the rest of my life!

As I remember it, Robert was on the other side of the door, asking to come hang out in my room (I was playing either Led Zeppelin or the Beatles ... still up for debate!) because he could no longer stand the music my suite mates were playing. Well, one thing led to another, and before we knew it (and after several beers), we were grooving together on the dance floor of a UNC fraternity house. And the rest is history ...

I knew that he was very special the moment I met him, and I was very certain of this as I introduced him to my incredible family, and as he introduced me to his.

The strength of our love was affirmed a few years later as my father was diagnosed with end stage colon cancer in 2003 and when he ultimately passed away on my 23rd birthday in March of 2004. There is no way I would have made it through this time of my life without the support of my family and friends, but mostly Robert. This is when I really started to believe that we were meant to be together.

As college ended, we decided to live together for about a year in Greensboro (yes, we lived "in sin" ... say what you will) before I returned to UNC for Nursing School and Robert for his MHA. These might have been some of the happiest days of our lives. We made fantastic and lasting friendships while we were in school there. We lived within walking distance from the Dean Dome and within driving distance from Forest's favorite dog park in Carrboro ... pure bliss!

This all brings us to our life here in Greensboro. Robert received a wonderful job offer as the Administrator Fellow at Moses Cone Health System in Greensboro, and I quickly landed a job in the Surgical ICU there as my first job out of nursing school. Since then, Robert has earned the wonderful (and stressful) opportunity of being the Administrative Director of Moses Cone's hospitalists' group. Life was hectic and grand as we anxiously awaited the months before our September 2008 wedding and soon thereafter the birth of our first child.

Leave it to me to plan a wedding on the North Carolina coast during hurricane season!

Here's where I get defensive ... yes, there was a confirmed Category 2 hurricane my wedding weekend (her name was Hanna ... that B@#&*!).

Yes, many people RSVP'd "yes" and did not come.
Yes, we lost shingles on the house my family rented the weekend of the wedding.
Yes, several people texted the bride to find out if the wedding was still even happening. (Just a tip for the future ... never text the bride to find out these kind of details!)
Yes, the wedding venue lost power the morning of the wedding.
Yes, the wedding planner (God bless her) was sweeping sand from the 'altar' minutes before the ceremony.
Yes, the bride and groom didn't care (thanks to Xanax) and still got married ...

You don't quite know what life (or God) is going to throw at you until you experience it yourself. The day my father died on my birthday, I truly thought I was "done" for a while. Then, I had a hurricane on my wedding day, and I thought, REALLY?

This all leads up to the day that our little Jack was born. I won't get into personal details because you can find all of those on earlier blog posts. But, it just seems to me that when things seem tough, they get tougher ... but then, out of the blue, they get easier! (Jack's doing GREAT, by the way!)

We recently just surprised our Mom with a wonderful surprise 60th Birthday Party last night (I hope you were surprised!) at my house. No words or gifts could ever express how much we love you, Mom and Ci Ci! And, let me just tell you -- it was almost as much fun to host the party as it was to set up for the party with my sisters and their hilarious families with six kids under the age of 6! (Thank goodness for Miller Lite!)

Throughout my short (and some days long) 29 years on this earth, I am fortunate to have found that I am just as blessed as I am challenged, and that the birth of my special boy is just one of those many blessings that I have grown to be thankful for. I mean, the kid rolled over eight times with his aunt Kasey this past weekend. (Babies don't usually do this until 4 months and he's only 3 months old, by the way! Kasey, can you move in to be our personal therapist?!?!?)

I like to think of the challenges and feelings I have experienced as practice for my real life, because nothing I have ever experienced could have prepared me for when my baby boy was born (being"chromosomally enhanced" and all).

So today, being our anniversary and all, I choose to remember the day I met Robert as the day my life truly began ...

To reckon with the days that have ensued, and to celebrate the days that have come to chance.

To my Dear Husband and Sweet Baby Boy

I remember Robert's contagious spirit and his beautiful smile.
For his love of good music, I'd been waiting a while.

The look in his eyes every time we kissed,
Is something that I couldn't have possibly missed.

Life was unstoppable, pure and fun
But little did we know, our web was newly spun.

Our lives blended together, fast and true,
No one knew exactly what could ensue.

As my father passed away, my days turned gloom,
But with His true love, good days did resume.

With our past behind us, we married soon thereafter
Thinking our life now would be nothing but laughter.

Having children was always a part of our scheme,
Future doctors and lawyers were of what we dreamed.

But our little Jack came along and taught us the truth
About loving forever and keeping our youth.

There are engineers, police officers, and teachers galore
But there is only one single Jack, whom we adore.

For he will teach us more about life and about love Than we could ever learn from God or our angels above.

I love you so much, Robert. Happy 2nd Anniversary!