Sunday, November 22, 2009

Great news

We got some fantastic news this week. The pediatrician at the Houston spina bifida clinic was amazed at Kaitlyn's leg strength and movement, and told Shelly that she would definitely be able to walk someday! She said her leg function was about the same level as kids with lesions starting at the S1 or S2 vertebrae (meaning she may be able to walk with no assistance at all or with ankle braces), even though Kaitlyn's lesion was much higher, starting as L2 (we would have expected her to need full-leg braces and crutches, and maybe be confined to a wheelchair when she gets bigger). Of course everything is still "wait and see," but we are SO happy that things are looking so promising for her.

Our kids are all so fun right now. Damon is an incredibly sweet little boy. He is very kind to his two little sisters, and often will say to Kaitlyn, "Who's a cute baby? Who's a cute baby?" He is very helpful, and is our little errand boy. He has been going to preschool and loves to learn his new letters. He is very social, and very funny. He's been watching old He-Man episodes on Hulu with his daddy, and gets so excited when Adam and Cringer turn into He-Man and Battle Cat... his heart rate probably jumps to around 300 every time. He also has an imaginary friend named "Bony," who he only mentions once every couple days. Apparently he has "bone teeth," probably inspired by Skeletor. But he's not scary, and he tells us knows he's just pretend. The other day he was saying his prayer and just casually prayed for "the other member of the family, Bony."

Audrey is most certainly two. She gets into every cupboard, cabinet, drawer... and the way she climbs, nothing we own is beyond her reach. She is such a bruiser and always so active that she keeps getting hurt -- she burned her fingers and arm on a hot pizza pan the other day -- but she's so tough that she doesn't mind as much as we do. She and Damon love to go play in their "rocket ship," which is just one of the cupboards in our kitchen. Her vocabulary has exploded, and can pretty much communicate everything she wants to us. This morning she said, "Mommy, I so pwetty." She is always showing off, saying "Wook at me!" She loves to point out "twees" and "fwowows." She calls her daddy "Kenno." Tonight she was encouraging Damon to kick the "socco baw!," saying, "You can do it, Danin!" It is an often frustrating but very fun age.

And Kaitlyn, again, is doing awesome. She rolled from stomach to back. Her legs are SO strong; sometimes we think they are even stronger than our other kids' were. Maybe we just think that because we have to fight her kicking when we catheterize her, which we only have to do that 4 times a day now. In pretty much every other way she is just like our other kids(including the acid reflux; she's on Zantac, which helps), especially in appearance. She looks just like they did. We love all of them so much.

On another note, there is a family we got to know when we lived in the Family House in San Francisco who could desperately use any help that anyone can provide. They learned that their 3-year-old son, T.J., had a brain tumor this past summer, rushed him into surgery, and are now slowly watching and praying that he regains as much function as possible. They are wonderful parents and have been through so much, living for months on end in that house with their 9-month old son and spending all of their time in the hospital. He's going through both radiation therapy and chemo right now. Any help you can provide, even a few dollars, would really bless their family. There is a website you can donate through, Thanks so much for your help.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

At long last

... I found a new job. It's a litigation boutique firm called Edison McDowell & Hetherington (see here). I started on Thursday, and so far am quite happy.

It was quite a whirlwind, but it couldn't have come at a better time, as it plucked me away from a miserable contract job doing an electronic document review. For those who don't know, firms often hire attorneys on a contract basis for weeks at a time to review documents. This firm was, no surprise, up against a deadline and needed a ton of the client's employees' emails reviewed. But the client wanted to staff the project leanly, so there were six of us staring at computer screens 84 hours per week and clicking furiously (e.g. this document we can produce, this one is privileged, this one is irrelevant, this one screws us over, etc.). And it was a patent case involving mechanical parts for downhole oil well operations, so the emails we were reviewing were all written by engineers. No offense, Dad, but you guys write very, um, 'technical' (i.e. soul-crushing) emails. My back and eyes were quite displeased; my eyeballs would quite literally shake in their sockets for the last three or four hours of each day. Plus, almost every day I had an interview or a meeting with a recruiter or something like that, which would take up a few additional hours. Add that to a 45-minute commute, and a newborn who enjoys slowly savoring her bottles in the middle of the night. I've been in a few trials before, where we'd work 22-hour days for a few weeks straight, and even that was more tolerable; at least then the work is interesting and you can let your eyes drift from the computer screen occasionally. We were grateful to have some income, but I deeply resented the invention of email and its unfortunate effect upon the practice of law.

In the midst of this, on Tuesday morning, I got a call from a friend from my old firm. He had been networking and advocating for me, putting me in touch with various people he knew around town. Apparently he had mentioned my name to an old law school friend of his, a partner in a small litigation boutique, and by happy coincidence, he and his partners had just decided the day before that they needed to hire someone new. They wanted me to give them a call, and when I did, they asked if I could come in that afternoon. I didn't even have a suit, since I was downtown slogging away on the document review, but they didn't care. The interview went great; I met with all three of the named partners, and they wanted me to come back the next morning to meet with their fourth partner, who works up in Dallas. On Wednesday morning I met her and a few of the associates, and then they offered me the job right afterwards, saying they would be eager to get me started the next morning, Thursday. After a 3-minute phone call to Shelly (who didn't need any convincing), I accepted and then gleefully skipped off to go quit the contract job.

So far the firm has been great. The partners and everyone else are all extremely nice, friendly, likable people, which for me is by far the most important factor affecting whether or not I enjoy my job. The pay is less, but enough for our needs. The firm is quite busy -- they started with eight attorneys just this past January, most coming from a bigger Texas firm (Bracewell & Guiliani). In the ten months since they have now hired nine more attorneys; all of their clients followed them from Bracewell, and they just keep getting more and more work. The environment is much more collegial and close-knit than at my prior firms; everyone seems very proud of this new enterprise and dedicated to building it up. And so far, they really like my work product. I know it's only been two days, but it looks like I'm really going to like it there.

To yet again restate the obvious, we absolutely recognize and are deeply grateful for the way our path has been so unmistakably guided. It's not even remotely subtle. My last day at my prior job was in July. One week later went to San Francisco and qualified for an extremely rare surgery which so far appears to have been a wild success. It would have been infinitely more difficult for Shelly to have gone through that alone, if work had kept me in Houston. And then, just weeks after returning, I find a new position, one that so far looks like it will be a great fit for me. We've been so incredibly blessed, clearly much more so than we deserve. So again, many many thanks for all your prayers, your faith made it happen.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kaitlyn kicks!

We wanted to post a video showing you all how well Kaitlyn is doing. As you can see, her legs move quite well. Of course, her legs weigh mere ounces now, and we can't guess yet how strong and coordinated they will be when she gets bigger, but we are very optimistic.