Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The runaway

I mentioned in my last post that the Sammy sass has been escalating. A few nights ago something very minor occurred in our home. I can't even tell you what it was, but Sammy turned it into a major ordeal. He said, "I DON'T WANT TO LIVE HERE ANYMORE! I'M LEAVING THIS HOUSE FOREVER!" I said, "Oh shoot! We will miss you so much! Please be safe. I love you, Sammy." He put on his coat, hat and boots and eagerly left with the door slamming behind him.

I perched myself next to our front window with my computer and acted like I was working as I kept a sideways eye on our strong-willed youngest cutie. I watched him walk halfway down our front yard and stop. He stood still for 10 seconds and then walked in a few circles. Then...he walked back to our patio and sat in a chair. I peeked my head out once and asked if he wanted to come back inside. "NO!" Okie dokie..back to my spot in the blue chair by the window. Our strong-willed Sammy sat for over 30 MINUTES in the cold before coming back inside. When he came back in, he acted like nothing had happened! "Hi, Mommy! I love you! What's for dinner?" I foresee some interesting teen years. :)

(ps: We are still abstaining from technology until the sass diminishes.)

When Sammy isn't trying to run away from home, he is telling me that he wants someone to sleep with him in his bed at all times. A handful of times over the past week he has told me, "I just want someone to sleep with me and snuggle ALL THE TIME!" Today I explained that someday when he has a wife he can do that every night! He was sooo happy about that idea!

Dan had a random day off work today and so did I. We took Sammy out for a lunch date and we made him feel very special. We asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up and he was adamant about wanting to be a fire fighter. I think he would be an incredible fire fighter!

Both boys have separate big days coming up to start off our holiday break. They are both excited! We'll share more later!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sass-quatch and fun photos

The sassiness I mentioned last week escalated at the beginning of this week. Sammy showed me a caliber of sass that I have never seen before. He did not want to go to daycare on Monday morning, so I carried him inside kicking, punching and screaming. I set him down and turned around to watch him run back out of the gate and into the alley (where cars speed through occasionally). Again, I carried him kicking and flailing inside and I have bruises on my shins to prove it! Elijah has had a really rough week sleep-wise and that has carried into his days at school and life in general. 

On most mornings, I get him out of bed in the morning and see two very tired eyes looking back at me. It makes me sad to see him so exhausted right away in the morning and to place expectations on him to behave appropriately for an ENTIRE day. We obviously have expectations, but I also know how he feels! When I have reached my limit, I am not nice! I understand his lack of control, but at the same time we can't let him get away with physically lashing out at his classmates, etc. Life is tricky for our precious E! We continue to learn and do everything we can to understand certain behaviors. He has been seeking physical closeness a lot lately. He constantly says, "Mommy, I need SNUGGLES!" as he plops his 6o-pound cuteness in my lap and insists that I cradle him like a baby. He needs love! And sleep! And a much less tired brain.

On Monday after Sammy's rough morning and after dealing with some rough behavior from Elijah, Dan and I decided to pull the plug on technology until things turn around. Neither boy has had phone, iPad, computer or tv privileges all week. They have both asked, but haven't put up much of a fight about it. We will keep it this way until things calm down (minus our Friday night pizza-movie nights which is very cherished family time).

Another crazy week is done! I am still working in Cannon Falls, which is great ($) but also not great (sanity/sleep). Once Christmas is done, I think you all may hear my huge sigh of relief echo around the globe. Isn't it crazy that this time of year is sooo stressful?! It should be just the opposite, but it's just not.

Dan starts a new job on Monday! He was hired by a nearby high school to be a paraprofessional. I am SO EXCITED and happy for him! He will be back in a school setting and it is such a great opportunity. Ok...I'm tired, so here are a few photos from the past few weeks.. 

Sam refused to be in the picture (of course), so I had to sneak him in. :)

Our tree this year is the BEST! It is huge! And so pretty. We love it and comment on its awesomeness approximately 25 times/day. I don't think we will ever have a better tree than this one.

This next photo is titled We Are the Griswolds!

Our very good friends Kendis and Chris stopped by for a visit over Thanksgiving weekend. It was SO good to see them! The boys were all over them. :)

The boys are great at dough rolling, I have discovered! Good thing, because I do not like rolling dough.

Sammy was super excited to put the star on the tree this year.

Our Sammy.. he is so thorough and completes projects with pride. He took tree decorating seriously and didn't stop until every ornament was on our tree.

Elijah helped, too! In his way-too-small jammies. :)

Every December, we build a gingerbread house as a family. This year the boys were SO EXCITED about doing this.

We all contributed to the cute sugary home and it was a fun family activity. always, the boys did everything they could to talk us into allowing them to eat as much of the home as possible.

I hope you are all having a nice December so far! Wishing for peace and happiness for all of you! Thank you for peeking in.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Like bbq sauce

This week seemed to last a million years. Dan has been working overnight two nights a week and it is starting to wear on us, in addition to Elijah's very early morning awakenings. In the past week he has been awake for the day at 1am TWICE. 2am once. 3am twice. His brain is still on overload. He still looks like a zombie when we get him out of bed in the morning. He is EXHAUSTED constantly. We are all exhausted. I have been praying so hard that Christmas break will bring him back to baseline so we can begin to live somewhat normal lives again.

Now for some Sammy funnies. This boy. He is sooooo sweet yet sassy. Mostly sassy lately, likely because he has been waking up super early due to a certain early-bird brother in his vicinity. Lately when we ask Sammy to do something, he replies with the most ridiculous comments. Examples:

Me: Sammy, it is not ok to line your meatballs up on the floor. Please put them back on your plate.
S: But I am a guy who cannot hold things!


Me: Sammy, please put your coat on so we can leave.
S: But I am allergic to touching coats!


Me: Sammy, it's time to go upstairs to get ready for bed.
S: But I am a guy who cannot walk. I'm stuck to the floor! Help!

Seriously. The sass from this boy has reached new heights. When he is sweet, though, he is the SWEETEST. He is the snuggliest boy in the world.

I have tons of photos to share from the past week, most of them involving our Christmas tree. I will post soon!

ps. Dan got a new job that he'll be starting in the next few weeks! Details to come!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Meeting in Room 103

I have said this a thousand times and I will say it again. We have been SO blessed with the doctors that have been placed in our lives to care for our precious boys. Dr. M traveled all the way to our southwestern suburb today to meet with Elijah's team at school. The meeting was AWESOME. Dr. M spoke as if he has known Elijah his whole life. The entire time, I found myself shaking my head yes...yep, that's our boy...yep, that's him....oh definitely yes, that explains Elijah..

He started by explaining that E has not just one or two strikes against him, but many strikes. The main ones being an extensive medical history, Nonverbal Learning Disorder and also being on the autism spectrum (some resulting strikes being sleep issues, anxiety and OCD). He explained the main aspects of NLD and how it is not a learning disorder but an information processing disorder. Also, how there are certain things that E's brain cannot do and will not ever be able to do, such as looking at a sheet of math problems and having the ability to prioritize the information and get through it without being totally overwhelmed. I could see things clicking with the teachers as Dr. M described how NLD kids react to school work and expectations and visual clutter.

Together, we addressed the main problem areas and even set a few plans in motion. Dr. M really stressed reinforcing SKILLS. For example, probably E's biggest "trouble spot" while in school is his inappropriate talking. Sometimes he blurts out noises and sometimes he says potty talk. Sometimes he calls people names for no reason at all. Since kids like Elijah think in steps and learn through a lot of verbal repetition, we came up with a plan to write out three concrete steps for him to follow when he starts to say an inappropriate word or noise. Dan and I are in the process of coming up with exact verbiage and then we will repeat, repeat, repeat those steps to him until he can stop the inappropriate sounds/talking before they happen. We will share our exact steps with the school so they can use the same words. Every time I talk to Dr. M, I gain some sort of new and valuable information. One of the things he said today that really helped me understand Elijah was that we (teachers/parents) need to keep repeating things to him until he understands....and that even though he might appear to understand and tells us he understands something, we will not truly know that he understands until we HEAR HIM REPEAT OUR OWN WORDS TO HIMSELF. Our scripts become his scripts. This is how he is going to get through school and life.

One of the things I've been saying for so long is that Elijah is confusing because at first glance, he appears to process information in a completely normal manner. He makes eye contact, he is engaging, he answers questions (mostly) appropriately and he smiles, laughs, interacts and even tells jokes. A person just meeting him could have a 2-minute conversation with him and have no idea the amount of processing that is taking place in his brain. So when you ask this engaging, smart little person to complete an abstract task like draw a picture and write a story to go along with it, you become confused when he absolutely cannot follow through. It can even be seen as complete defiance or manipulation.

Dr. M once again provided such good information. We feel very thankful for him and for E's teachers and team who were so willing to attend the meeting and who seemed so receptive (as they feverishly jotted notes in their notebooks) to understand more about Elijah and NLD in general.

I'll end on that thankful note. Next installment...the sassiest Sammy you'll ever meet. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Surgery, Santa and thankfulness.

Elijah did great today! Surgery was quick, with an easy recovery. It was one of the better recoveries from anesthesia that we've seen. I have been careful about saying what the surgery was all about in order to give him some semblance of privacy. It's sort of a private ordeal, so I don't want to scream about it from the rooftops. Catch me in person or over email and I'll explain! He was in a bit of pain afterward and had a mild fever. We will stay on top of pain meds through the night.

Elijah was, again, terrified of the mask. :( Also, again, terrified of removing the IV tape. I am thankful this is behind us! He was such a brave boy today. I could see signs of him being more self-aware than ever before, which was encouraging. He was able to recognize that he was feeling scared about specific things and he was willing to try tactics to not be so afraid. This is a first!

Dan and I always feel so terrible watching him endure pain, both physical and emotional, so we always allow him to pick out a toy afterward for being brave. So that Sammy never feels left out, we let him pick something out, too, for being a good and supportive brother. Today we picked out a toy for both boys to share, a new Lego Movie lego set! They were both SO EXCITED. Oh my goodness, they were happy boys!

One thing Elijah said repeatedly today in the midst of his discomfort was, "MOMMY! I miss you!" When I finally asked what he meant by that, he said that he missed me when I have to be at work so much. :( Ok, this kind of kills me. Obviously we all need to work, but I have been working an exceptional amount lately and obviously it is affecting our family. If Elijah can verbalize it, it means something. Thankfully things will start to slow down soon.

Here is the boys' photo taken with Santa from last weekend! (yes, I believe Santa's bare belly may be showing..)

Tomorrow will be busy, but I'm hoping we can take some time to breathe and be THANKFUL. We have so much to be thankful for. I am looking forward to four days of no work and tons of family time. Friday will be our annual getting-our-Christmas-tree day and we will spend the day decorating our house. We are all looking forward to the next few days! Thanks for checking in and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Hug your family. Tell them how much you love them. Be thankful!!!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Accidental snot

Sammy was extra tired tonight and having a tough time getting through dinner. He threw his fork onto the floor and when I asked him to please pick it up, he did his I'm-stuck-to-my-chair-and-can't-reach-it routine. This went on and on. Dan brought him to our bedroom for a little timeout. A few minutes later, he quietly came downstairs and said, "Mommy? I'm really sorry for what I did in your bedroom." I asked what happened. "I accidentally rubbed snot all over your bed." Seriously.

Elijah had a few rough patches at school today, but he confessed a major one to us before we even heard about it from his teacher. This is a new and huge thing! The behaviors we are hearing about are not ideal, but it is a big step for him to communicate not just that "something bad" happened (or not to mention it at all) but to actually explain the details. We are thankful that he will have a big chunk of time off school. Tomorrow is surgery, so if you wouldn't mind praying for it to be quick, painless and successful we would appreciate it!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Package directions

Since I'm on a roll sharing Sammy funnies..

Today our boy who is ALWAYS looking for a way to get us to give him sweets said to Dan, "Daddy, it sure is cold outside! I bet some hot chocolate and marshmallows would warm us right up!"

Tonight after Dan gave him an Oreo cookie for dessert, Sammy said, "I think it says on the package that each kid should eat TWO cookies." Nice try, Sammy. :)

Today was another odd day involving LOTS of stressful driving on icy, snowy roads. We aren't sure how Elijah's day at school was, but his spirits sure were great at home tonight! Dan took him to get his pre-op physical this afternoon, so he is set for a minor surgery on Wednesday.

More later!