Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Happy belated Thanksgiving 2016! We survived hosting in our new house. We had 16 people here and everything went smoothly. The food was good, the company was great and our house was officially broken in. I forgot to mention that we also had three big dogs here. It was a full house!

I woke up the following day SO EXCITED for our traditional day-after-Thanksgiving family time. We picked up a Christmas tree the easy way this year (no tree farm), which diminished the experience a bit but gave us more time at home together. The boys have been bouncing off the walls, so excited that it's finally Christmas season.

We are constantly working on getting settled into our house, but we've been able to relax and enjoy it, too. I still ask Dan to pinch me at least once a day because I can't believe we have such a cozy perfect-for-us home. We have MUCH to be thankful for! It is crazy to think back to six or seven months ago and how much we've done and also how much has changed for us since then. Wow! We are so blessed and grateful for everything that has transpired.

Elijah gets a new behavioral aide who will be coming into our home starting tomorrow (she'll come one or two evenings/week after school). E is still loving chess and music class and Sammy is constantly creating art projects that are spread out alllllll over our house. :) The boys have a full week of school this week so we need to wrap up some dreaded homework this evening and prepare for the week ahead. Thanks for peeking in and I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Croup: Season 9, Episode 2 (Elijah) and behavior/school updates

Apparently we are finding plenty to do because time is passing way too quickly. Life is full right now! We are managing everything ok, but Dan and I are starting to show signs of being over-extended and exhausted. I cannot imagine what it will feel like to be fully unpacked and settled in our house. We still have so much to do. And we're hosting Thanksgiving. And and's always a million things. Last weekend we pulled out our RV to give it a final clean-out before storing it for the winter and it was bittersweet! That was our home for four months. We made incredible memories in it. Life was SIMPLE while we lived in it. It made me both happy and sad to pull everything out. We will say our official winter-goodbye this coming weekend.

Two nights ago I recognized a few signs that Elijah might get a croup episode. I said, "Croup alert tonight!" and sure enough, a couple hours later we heard the stridor. It was a mild case, but of course it's never fun. We gave him a tiny dose of oral steroids and Dan sat outside with him for a bit. After that he was just fine, minus a few sniffles and sneezes that he's had since.

We had Elijah's fall school conference today and it was great! He has the BEST fit for teachers this year. They take the "rough" times in stride and certainly know how to bring out the best in him. So far this year, Elijah has shown interests in a few new things! He loves science and music. He just got a new recorder and he has been practicing it faithfully and learning how to read music. We've had a few people tell us that he has begun opening up a lot at church (the boys go to a separate area from us) and he's even been dancing to worship music comfortably in front of everyone. I love it! I have always had a feeling that music would be the bridge that connected him to church and Jesus. His teacher told us tonight that he has made some meaningful friendships in class this year (all girls, of course). There are a handful of girls who help to keep him on track (LOVE this) and really look out for him and care about him. He is keeping up with school work just fine and knows way more than he believes he does.

As far as behavior is concerned, his teachers explained his school behaviors to us and they basically mimic his home behaviors. This is good because he's being consistent! He has good days and he has tough days. I can tell within two minutes of spending time with him in the morning which kind of day it's going to be. Good days are really good. He doesn't defy authority, he completes tasks without complaining and he is generally good-natured and kind to everyone. Most days are good days. Lately I'd say we get at least four of them/week. The tough days can be really tough. There is a lot of talking back and refusals to do anything that's asked of him. He seems to want to anger and provoke everyone around him. I'm sure the tougher days are related to not sleeping as well through the night, but we aren't sure what causes that. We got new comfy (BIG!) beds for both him and Sammy and have made their rooms safe, comfortable, dark and peaceful places. I know that sometimes anxiety intrudes his mind and it's so hard to stop once it starts. We just continue to give him consistent love and care and pray that over time the good days will happen even more frequently!

A Sammy Prank :)

Sammy is loving first grade. His classmates and teacher could not be a more perfect fit for him. He is SO. Smart. He puts together and solves math problems that I'm pretty sure 5th graders can't do. His handwriting is perfect, he aces all of his spelling tests and he never has to be told to do his homework. He is such a sweet, kind little soul. He always has been, but it's been fun to see that sweetness in him even when kids around him start talking about more mature things. Despite his sweet spirit, he has not lost his strong will. He can so easily get mad at any one of us for something as simple as being corrected when using bad manners. He gets SO MAD and can say hurtful things and even threaten to run away from home. His latest tactic is running out to my car when he's upset and sitting in it until he cools off. Smart! He always comes back in with apologies and love.

It's a busy season for us, but a fun one, too! There are so many good things coming together for our family. I have to learn to bite off just a little bit at a time and not expect everything to come together overnight! Thanks for peeking in.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Croup: Season 7, Episode 1 (Samson) ...and so much more!

Well goodbye, October! Jeez, that month went fast. I'm so far behind with my posts. I hope you're still reading! Let's rewind to two Thursdays ago..

Sammy got a scary croup episode right in the middle of the day. We had just pulled into the driveway after school and he could hardly breathe. He looked at me with panicked eyes, so I rushed him inside, panicking myself, and got a small dose of oral steroids down his throat. I sat with him outside for a bit and decided to hold of on the epi neb until absolutely necessary. We never had to take the neb and his breathing became much less scary. As always, his body held onto the croup forEVER, but thankfully it never became that scary again. Two weeks later, he still has a lingering cough from it.

Along these same lines, sickness has totally taken over our family for the past few weeks. It started with stomach issues for me, then last week Sammy threw up before school one morning followed by some tummy troubles for Elijah. We all seemed to be healing when, two days later, Elijah started throwing up. A few hours later, Sammy puked ALL OVER his brand new mattress in the middle of the night. A few hours later he spilled his puke bowl onto his newly changed sheets. Two days later Elijah threw up again. The next day my stomach was bad again and I was bed-bound for 12 hours. A few hours later Dan was throwing up and he spent all of today in bed. UGH! We are ready for healing!

The boys, my little minions, had such a fun Halloween this year! Our new neighborhood is the PERFECT neighborhood for trick-or-treating, with it's big beautiful trees and friendly neighbors. Sammy was so excited and happy that he was skipping from house to house and giggling and telling me every ten seconds that this is the BEST HALLOWEEN EVER!!! The boys of course got tons of candy, but we've been rationing due to above-mentioned tummy troubles.

We have been trying to squeeze a few things in between the sickness, but honestly it has been frustrating how slow the unpacking process has gone. I just can't seem to get anything done! Soon. Right?

Not as much time will pass before my next post. Thanks for peeking in! Go INDIANS! (Cheering as we type, Gramps!)

Monday, October 17, 2016

All moved in!

I love this pic of Buddy and his half-brother Max playing. They are so funny when they play. :)

We are in our new house! It's been a bit of a crazy week, but we are LOVING our new abode. Going from four months of RV living to being in this incredible house is something I can't even explain in words. We all have been feeling like it's not real. Elijah keeps asking if he's in a dream. Sammy told me that he feels like we're visiting friends. We have spent the past two days getting our things out of storage and unpacking. We have sooooo much left to do, but it's more than livable and we're loving it. None of us want to leave and when we have to go somewhere we get sad!

Quick update on last week's urology visit.. The dilation Elijah had done in June has done the trick so far! This is great news and something we didn't expect. We have had to cath Elijah daily (just takes a few minutes) and will continue to do that for forever if it means we can avoid another surgery.

Although this is a super exciting time for our family, it IS a big change. Elijah particularly is having a rough time adjusting to being in a different place and sleeping in a new room ALONE for the first time since he was three years old. Behavior has been really really challenging, but things will settle down once we adjust.

Elijah has a hearing check-up tomorrow with ENT and both boys have Wednesday through Friday off school. Yay for more home time! If you want to see us in the next few months, you'd best come visit because prying us away will be tough. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Cardiology update and corn maze pics!

I could just squeeze these two cuties to pieces! Elijah has had a few rough days (ugly at times), but due to a double dose of very sad news at school we are keeping things in perspective. Last week the dad of one of Elijah's classmates died and last night the mom of one of Sammy's classmates died. That's hard for adults to process, so I can't imagine what kids must think of all of that. Sammy especially is so sensitive and takes this sort of thing to heart. We'll have to have some talks in the next days and weeks.

We checked in with Dr. G this week for E's standard six-month cardiology check-up. Everything checked out good! Function and pressures are fine. His valve is in the "mild" range for stenosis for the first time since his last OHS, but that isn't alarming. Dr. G said that when his next big growth spurt happens, we'll likely need to discuss surgery. We go back in six months! Wooo!

The weather in Minnesota has been GORGEOUS. We've been spending every morsel of time outside that we possibly can. Last weekend was one of the most perfect weekends of the entire year. After our Saturday morning routine where one boy goes to boxing class with Dan and the other comes to the club and coffee shop with me (I've been LOVING this quality time with each boy), we made our yearly fall trip to the corn maze! There have been years that we've been bundled up in boots, hats and mittens, so this was quite a nice experience. We hit all of our usual spots, but the favorite was (as always) the corn pit.

The boys love the parakeet house and Sammy thought it was so cool that a bird swooped down and landed right on top of his cute little head.

Then FOUR birds decided that Elijah's treats were best.

Both boys enjoyed the farm animal area more than ever before. It is so fun to watch them notice new and different things every time we come. Elijah was especially drawn to this cow. He kept walking back to him and just gazing deep into his eyes. There is something about him and animals. There's a connection there for sure.

I'm heading out of town for a conference tomorrow that I'm super-duper excited about. I'll be in Austin till next Tuesday and honestly, one less body in our RV for a few days is probably a good thing. Living "normal" life in there is making us all a little bit nutty. We are ready to be in a house. ALL of us are ready ready ready. I fly back home Tuesday at noon and house closing is at 4:00!

Have a great rest of your week and weekend! My next post will be written from our new abode!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pretty sunsets, needle-induced tears and large stuffed animals

Did I tell you that I have a new photo assistant? He's a super hard worker, he has a great creative eye and he can easily make people laugh. His name is Sammy! I brought him with me to a photo shoot last weekend because he was wanting to earn some money (this boy is so responsible with money). He took his job seriously and worked hard. He's super awesome on the other side of the camera, as well!

We have been staying at a new campground this week and it's been an experience. It's beautiful when you look past the other RV-homes! We've seen some beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

Buddy has been nutty since his surgery a few weeks ago. I've threatened to give him away a handful of times, which always results in the boys begging me to change my mind. We love our dog, we love our dog, we love our dog.....

On Tuesday I brought Elijah to Children's for a blood draw (ordered by his new Genetics doctor) to take a more thorough look at his genes and possible resulting genetic disorders. This is something we've done before but detections can be made that weren't possible waaaaay back in 2008. E hasn't had a blood draw in a while, so I didn't know how it would go. He was anxious leading up to it, but super brave through it. I saw the needle go in and the nurse began digging for the vein. I know how this feels. It's awful! Elijah began BEGGING her to please take it out, please stop hurting me, as tears streamed down his face. All I could do was hold his shoulders tightly, tuck my head behind his back, pray and of course cry. It was minor in the grand scheme of pains he has endured, but it was awful. Maybe because he's been through so much, I could barely handle it. He bounced right off the lab bench and smiled after the band-aid had been placed on his arm, but my tears wouldn't stop. I cried all the way to the elevator, through the hospital, to the parking lot and halfway back home. Elijah kept reminding me that he was fine, that sweet boy. Oh, I also cried through the entire trip to the hospital gift shop (which I partially blocked out), where I purchased two large and expensive pillow pets for E and S. Watching my boy endure pain = new stuffed animals! :)

I will be curious about these results. There is apparently more thorough testing that can be done, but our insurance won't cover it at this point. Hopefully soon!

Monday is Elijah's 6-month heart check-up with Dr. G. We always approach this appointment with trepidation, as we never know what to expect. We've had a good streak, so I'm hoping it'll continue!

We head back to Dan's parents' house tomorrow until we close on our house. We are all super excited and so ready to have a home larger than 200 square feet. We are ITCHING to get in and get settled.

Thanks for peeking in!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Croup: Season 9, Episode 1 (Elijah)

You know those cycles Elijah goes through where things are just off? Yep, we're here again. I won't go into the gory details, but he is being awakened almost every night somewhere between 1:00 and 5:00 with tummy troubles, which is affecting sleep. I remember this same thing happening a few years ago right around this same time of year. Tummy affected sleep affected behavior affected school affected life affected tummy affected sleep and on and on. We've cut way down on his sugar and dairy intake and this seems to help a bit. One thing about our summer RV trip is that we did not eat as healthfully as we normally do, so I know that has played a role. I've been trying to be much more intentional about getting healthy food into our bodies.

Elijah was up with croup for the past two nights to commemorate the 2016 Croup Kick-off! Thankfully with the help of oral steroids it has been very mild. But present enough to make sure he doesn't get any sleep! Last night he was up at 2:00 with a mild barky cough so mild that a neb wasn't needed. I would have taken him outside for some soothing cool nighttime air if it hadn't been raining. I tucked him in and told him to go back to sleep and he did not sleep another wink. How do I know this, you ask? Because his bed is two feet from my bed and I listened to him move around and talk for the ENTIRE REST OF THE NIGHT. His croup was just fine at 7:15 when I finally peeled myself out of bed, but I kept him home from school so he could sleep off the rest of the sickies and get caught up a bit. We just woke up from a little nap and we're both feeling better.

All four of us have been fighting little sore throats and runny noses and coughs. Sick season is here! And to join in on the fun, Buddy has begun acting up like a wily teenager. Having been cooped up for 2 weeks after his surgery, I think he is DONE with it. Yesterday while I was trying to wrap up homework with the boys I noticed that Buddy was being way too quiet outside. Usually he sits at the door and whimpers if one of us isn't out with him. We peeked out to find that he had chewed the cupholders and a head cushion off of our two favorite lawn chairs. I was so. mad. I moved the chairs out of his reach and went back in to finish homework. TWO MINUTES later I looked out to see a gigantic hole that had been dug in my in-laws beautiful green front lawn. I just about died. I put him in his kennel and kept him there until Dan got home. I realize it's pointless to be upset with and ignore a dog who has tons of pent-up energy, but I was and I did. I threatened to sell him and the boys begged for me to change my mind. The jury's still out.

In the midst of tons of good, positive, big things that are happening for our family, some little things are working against us. It's one of those seasons where we have to work extra hard to overcome the little things. We are trying! Swimming hard upstream! We'll get there!

Have a great rest of your week! If you know how to repair lawn holes, stop by any time! ;)