Sunday, August 5, 2018

Chickens, Goats, and Why We've "Gone Farming"

It's been a journey since we last talked. I find myself thinking more about writing now than taking the time to put pen to paper. But today I'm writing to answer the big question everyone's thinking and asking us - "Why did you guys buy chickens and goats?"

Oatmeal, Yummy

Nash and Knox
    Mary and Noah with Misses

It's a pretty simple answer - I wanted chickens, worked on convincing everyone in the family that we needed them, then I changed my mind! But it was too late. Everyone was on board with having chickens so off to the feed store we went. Now fast forward a bit.. In the beginning having chickens was an experimental hobby idea but through having them we have discovered some basic benefits that are worth sharing (and part of the reason we've added goats to our homestead too).

  • Rhett has shown signs of Apraxia since he was very young, he now has a better control of his movements from handling the birds.
  • Noah, Levi and Rhett all are included and expected to care for their chickens - they assist with feed, water, cleaning the coop, and bringing in fresh dirt.
  • Routine - Every day rain or shine we care for our flock. Not just Mary and I, but the Boys are responsible too.
  • Our extended family are involved with raising our chickens as well! Our Nieces come over to play more, close friends are intrigued, and Mary's Mom has begun "tending" to the flock when we're away on business and leisure travel.
We began with 7 chicks. We had no idea there were as many varieties of breeds, we didn't know how to care for them, and we certainly didn't expect to Love them the way we do. And that my friends is why we have expanded our Farm.
Mama loving on a new baby
Feed time with Rhett and Levi

We now have 2 dogs, 12 birds, 2 goats, our pond has more fish and turtles than ever, (we eliminated our gator problem with new fencing), we built a coop - That was a fun family project, and a swimming pool. What a busy 2018 so far!

But the meat of the story is this - Find something that your family can do together to grow and learn. I never knew the importance of a hobby as an adult until this year. It just so happens my hobby includes my Wife, Children, Parents, Grandparents, Neighbors, and Friends.
Hei Hei, Our Silkie Bantam Rooster
Farmer Levi
You never know what will happen next in the "Ainsworth Story". Stay tuned! Our project today is turning regular seed and feed into viable growing plants for winter (1 pound of oats becomes 6 pounds of feed, Lord willing.)
The beginnings of our "seed into feed" project
Our "Seed to Feed" Project


At the end of a "Farm" day
PS - All of the Boys are happy, healthy, and excited for school to begin. Rhett has come leaps and bounds in the last several months. He recently had a minor medical scare that we're still learning about but he thankfully doesn't have any tumors or contributing factors that we've discovered. Please keep him in your prayers.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Your Child's Development Isn't Due to a Genetic Issue...

"Your Child's Development Isn't Due to a Genetic Issue..." the Genetic Counselor said aloud to my Wife and me yesterday. Our immediate response was confusion. And honestly, I'm still confused. For me, everything has a "what and why", ask anyone I've worked for or anyone who's worked for me - cause and effect. For Mary, her outlook is much easier to comprehend than mine, her question becomes - "Is he this way just because he is this way?"

I'll allow myself to backtrack some. To catch up if you don't know our story. Or to fill in blanks if you only know part of the story..

Rhett Solomon was born in May of 2015 at a whopping 8 pounds 15 ounces. He was (and still is) the most beautiful child I've ever seen. Blue eyes, blonde hair, curious and alert. His "new baby" smell still lingers if I close my eyes and think hard enough. Noah and Levi both were excited and in awe of their brother. Rhett was absolutely perfect. His delivery and first weeks at home were amazing. His being alive made a difference in everyones lives. As he grew he didn't do the things our older children had done. When he was placed in his car seat he would scream, yelp, and cry. His hands, feet and head would pour sweat to the extent of washing his carseat so frequently we could put it all back together in the dark - because life continues to move forward, we can't stop what we're doing because he hates the car right?

But, Rhett didn't hate the car. And Rhett never rolled over. A month went by and Rhett again, didn't roll over and while other children his age were sitting up, Rhett wouldn't and he couldn't. The car seat continued to be a problem, we began staying at home and missing out on life. The doctors said children do things in their own time, don't compare him to your others. So we didn't. We waited, not much longer but just a bit. Then one day, while crying in the doctors office we were offered help.

Fast forward a bit.. Rhett completes a series of MRI's, MRA's, extensive blood testing, testing sent to the Mayo Clinic, travel to and from destinations close and far meeting Neurologists, specialists, different hospitals, more nurses all the while he continued to scream in the car. And one day we had an answer..

Rhett is missing part of Chromosome 17. Chromosome Deletion. Much being unknown about his particular strand missing. "Therapy is key." "We need time to see how he will respond."

This "diagnosis" allowed us to get Penny. Our lifesaver. Penny is Rhett's Occupational Therapist. She has been in our lives as his Therapist for two years now. She has done everything from feed Rhett, change diapers, introduce him to grass (I know it seems silly but really), and so much more. He walks, and talks, and crawls, and the list goes on and on because of Penny. She is our constant. She wears many hats and until recently she would do the job of all the therapists we should've had working with us from the beginning. Without her, Rhett would be another statistic.

Because of Penny, we eventually learned where to go next. Rhett was given a chance to meet a doctor many miles away who, through her sphere of influence, helped us get two additional therapists assigned to help Rhett - Brooke (Rhett's Physical Therapist) and Amber (Rhett's Speech Therapist). Now we're busy, three therapies a week! And life begins to change very fast for Rhett. This all has happened within the last six months, and Rhett no longer can cling to Daddy and Mommy - he begins to build rapport with others. His trust in strangers, acquaintances and friends begins to build. He no longer fears being away from us. Rhett has also made a friend in Miss Christie, his gym partner. She watches out for Rhett each day, Monday through Friday for an hour to two hours. She has instilled organization and "cleanup" in Rhett. He loves each of these women in the most adorable way.

And although I've shortened the sequences and left out more than enough important data we get to our trip to Jackson yesterday. Deflated is the emotion I feel. For two years I've accepted that Rhett is delayed due to a Chromosome Deletion that should've never been reported to us - the agency that completed Rhett's initial genetic evaluation didn't have enough information available and the amount of his deletion is so insignificant that we now have lost time in determining the true cause of our son's condition. And although we have made significant progress through therapy, part of me still worries that we haven't done enough. Had we not gotten the wrong information in the beginning perhaps we would have a more definitive answer. Confusion has taken over.

The one thing we all agree on at this moment is that Rhett is Delayed with muscle development, motor functions, and things of that nature. Another thing we can agree upon is Rhett is brilliant. His mind is sharp. He isn't impaired mentally. If anything, he has mastered manipulation - he has everyone wrapped around his fingers.

I think frustrated is a simple word for how I feel today. And I could go on and on but we now must refocus our energy on finding an answer. So I'll ask each of you who read my letter today to please send good vibes and prayers to my children, my wife, and our family as we begin our next adventure. Our life is blessed. We work hard, our children are loved, and Mary and I rely on each other to make the best of each day even in the unknown that lies ahead. Maybe he is the way he is just because he is the way he is, that's hopeful thinking right?

- Jacob

Monday, November 21, 2016


He's Doing It!! Rhett is Walking!

Wow! I can't believe I'm writing this today, Rhett is WALKING!!

See the video of him walk here

For those of you who don't know the whole story, I want to catch you up so you know how amazing this milestone is for our family and our sweet baby boy.

Rhett attempted to come about 4 to 5 weeks before he was born. My wife had been hospitalized multiple times for dehydration and numerous kidney issues and Rhett decided that March was his month! Thankfully Mary's doctor was able to keep him incubating a bit longer.

Fast forward to Rhett being 4 months old. He is sleeping only a few hours a night, he won't nurse well and transistioning him to formula seemed to be the best way to get him additional nutrients. On top of this, Rhett would scream in his car seat for the entire amount of time we were in a vehicle. This made for a disaster. Then, we began noticing he was not hitting some of the milestones he should be. Having our son Levi, 13 months older than Rhett, milestones were fresh on our mind and Rhett wasn't anywhere close to Levi's timeline.

Everyone we met kept saying "don't compare your children, he will get there". But by 6 months we knew that Rhett needed help. Through a confidential conversation with our doctor she was able to get us help. Also, due to the community volunteering Mary and I participated in we knew a wonderful therapist that could help us! First we were referred to a neurologist, a specialist, then a program through the state that would allow Penny to begin Occupational Therapy with Rhett. All the testing pointed to apraxia (similar to a stroke patient, your mind knows how to do something but the wires that send the signals are no longer viable or haven't redeveloped - in Rhett's case, they thought the wires never connected). After multiple tests they determined a Genetics Test would be the most accurate chance of helping Rhett.

The test itself was simple but the waiting game for the results became torture. On top of the wait, our insurance decided not to pay the claim and I was called by the testing facility to say they were going to stop waiting for the insurance to pay and process Rhett's DNA because of how important it was to diagnose him, they also asked if I would sign appropriate documentation for them to fight legally on my behalf for the insurance to pay the claim. (At the end of October they finally paid the claim).

Fast forward another month and half, by now our Occupational Therapist has begun to come see Rhett at home weekly and Rhett has gotten tubes in his ears to help keep his multiple infections away. And then!! Rhett's Genetics Test results came back.. Rhett is missing parts of Chromosome 17 also known as Chromosome Deletion. Wow. What does this mean? Well.. no answers. There isn't sufficient documentation on this particular deletion. We do know that duplications or mutations of these pieces of DNA cause shortness of a person, stubby fingers, a small not fully functional mouth and a few other things - all of which Rhett doesn't display, with the exception of his mouth muscles not being fully functioning but that goes along with all his other muscle movements.

Again, fast forward. Medical bills are stacking up, company premiums increase significantly, insurance is refusing to cover Rhett's therapy. This is taking a serious toll on my relationship with my wife and other children. I stress out constantly. I cry because I'm helpless with my sons condition. I begin doubting whether he will walk or crawl. I also begin being influenced by friends and family members to begin making accommodations to our home to support a wheelchair and other various ridiculous things before even knowing what life would be like for Rhett.

And finally, we hit rock bottom. We weren't happy as a family anymore. We couldn't function the way we should. We let too many people be involved in personal decisions regarding the wellbeing of our life. It was the end of the line for our family.. Then, we turned it all over to God. And I promise you, on that Tuesday life began to change. We began to change.

We were blessed with a new insurance company that was willing to help all of our children, Rhett began to crawl, we stopped taking our love for each other for granted, the kids began to have a normal routine again. And we began to smile and laugh again. And that was it. We could've given up our lives together and who would that of helped? Instead we asked for help to change ourselves and we haven't looked back.

Fast forward to yesterday. Many therapies, appointments, 2 new dogs, our oldest has moved on to kindergarten and our middle son is trying to potty train.. and Rhett lets go of the couch and walks across the room on his own. No help. No encouragement.

Appreciate the milestones. And don't be afraid to fight for what you believe is best for your family. And always turn your troubles over to God.

Click Here to see our latest VLOG here with tons of footage of our weekend fun with Rhett walking!
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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Noah, You are Destined for the Greatest of All Things!

My Dearest Noah,

I don't know how to begin to explain to you the hurt you feel in your heart and how that feeling fades with time. I know that you want to bring certain individuals back into our lives, that your heart longs for the relationship you have lost, and Son we know your hurt - but you must be protected from the things that will damage you as you grow older. 

You waited for me today. You waited too long for Daddy to arrive home so you could tell me about how sad you are. All you wanted was to see me all day, for me to make you feel better. Mommy just couldn't cut it today, you needed a Daddy. So here I am. You're sleeping, and I'm typing. Trying to put my thoughts to words so that one day you will know that I have tried to share with you all that I could to heal your heart but that I must protect you.

You're upset. You don't understand why an adult you Love would not choose you over their vice. And I get it. I know your hurt. I just hoped that some day people would grow up and not let history repeat itself. Your life is perfect Son. Your Momma and I will do our absolute best to show you the world and Love you more than you could ever imagine Loving another person. So as I type tonight, I think of the sound of your tears. Your sniffles. And the sound of your innocent heart breaking because you don't understand yet that some people are not cut out to be part of a family.

One day when you're older, you will see how sheltered you truly are. You can Love a person to the depths of your soul but that doesn't always mean they will choose your Love over their selfish ways. Remember the Love your mother, brothers and I share with you - this Love is Eternal, the kind of Love that not everyone is blessed with in life.

You're so young, handsome, brilliant, and you hold one of the few keys to Daddy's heart. The best advice I will give you is to remember who is true to you, and keep moving forward. Life is too short to let others hold you back, you are destined for the greatest of all things!

Daddy Loves you Noah.

SN: To all of you out there who forget how fragile children's hearts are, shame on you! I won't curse you, nor will I rag on your behavior - I will however remind you that we all will face judgement day.

Click Here to See "It's an Ainsworth Story" The VLOG