Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The left ear miracle

I'm typing through happy tears right now. We just got back from Elijah's ENT visit. His hearing test showed very mild hearing loss at low frequencies and NORMAL HEARING for the other frequencies in his left ear. Dr. L's mind was blown. He kept repeating how incredible, fantastic and mind-blowing this outcome is. He said that he NEVER thought things would turn out this way. Back in January Elijah's footplate in his left ear was cracked in half and dried up. Dr. L told us to expect complete deafness in that ear for life. This is such a major answer to prayer!

Dan has been saying it all along. Even on that sad day back in January he told me that he knew his hearing would come back. He was right! I am so incredibly thankful and happy about this news. Elijah has enough things that make life challenging for him. I am so relieved that this won't add to his struggles. Thank you thank you thank you, God!

Apparently Elijah should never take up scuba diving or deep-water swimming, so hopefully he doesn't develop an intense desire to try that. We will do another hearing test in January to make sure everything is still looking good!

In other news, I started noticing a few days ago that E has been looking extra tired. He was struggling here at home and I saw some behaviors pop back up that I hadn't seen in a while. He had a tough day at school yesterday and needed a bit of extra attention from his teacher. We'll move his bedtime up a bit for the next few days and hopefully that will help him feel more rested.

We LOVE his teacher. Instead of seeing Elijah as a behavior problem and sending him out of the room, she does her best to help him work through whatever is going on. She told me that she didn't want to make a big deal out of the things that happened yesterday because she knows he's just tired. Wow! There's another answer to prayer!

I have a bunch of cute Sammy-isms that I've been wanting to share, so I'll do that soon!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Yay for an awesome second grade team!

The boys have both been working toward earning a particular Lego Movie lego set for the past month or so. Yesterday they both had their respective charts completely checked off (Sammy's was to control sass/talking back and Elijah's was potty-related), so guess what we got today! I brought the boys to the store after school to pick it out and I honestly have NEVER seen them so happy and excited. Wow! They sure were excited about getting Lord Business' Evil Lair! :) Dan and I spent a good chunk of our evening putting it together and we aren't quite finished. Sammy and I will finish the rest tomorrow.

The meeting with Elijah's team went great yesterday morning! He has an entirely new team (minus his deaf and hard of hearing teacher) and I think this is a really good thing. We love his teacher and his new case manager. They are super positive and proactive. He even has a new DAPE teacher (developmental adapted physical education) and he seems awesome, too. He was an EBD teacher for many years and seemed excited about helping Elijah feel like he belongs in PE class. This is huge! Our boy has some great advocates this year and we feel very grateful!

Elijah has been talking more about friends this year, which is great. He loves his new friend John, who he has "meetings" with in Mr. F's office. The other day his class must have been practicing writing compliment notes because he had a few notes in his folder from girls in his class. One said, "Eligah: You make me smile and laugh." Awww. His teacher mentioned that she has been giving Elijah big hugs when she feels he needs them and I LOVE this and encouraged her to keep doing that. Elijah even mentioned it to me the other day: "Mom, Mrs. G gave me a big hug today and it made me feel reeeeeaallly good."

The plan is for some of his care team to observe him in various settings and for various purposes. Very little evaluating will need to be done (if any) since he has had so much done in the past 6 months. In about a month we will schedule another meeting to discuss possibly switching his label to Autism Spectrum Disorder instead of Deaf and Hard of Hearing. We feel like the ASD label would suit him much better, especially since he seems to be hearing so much better since surgery (official hearing test is next week).

We only had 30 minutes in the meeting and I feel like we could spend 2 hours discussing Elijah. Dan and I spoke quickly and I feel like we got the main points across that we wanted to. It was good to be able to fill in the gaps a bit since most of the teachers have just met him. We feel really positive about his team and the year ahead! Yay!

My thumb is feeling better after spending a few hours in the ER yesterday. A band-aid got stuck to my wound, so I spent hours yesterday trying to get it off. I couldn't handle the pain and crying any longer, so I had a nice doctor rip it off (OUCH) and clean it out for me. I am shooting a wedding tomorrow, so please pray that goes ok! Thanks for peeking in. I'll try to get a photo of the Evil Lair posted tomorrow. :) I know you'll just be dying to see it.

If you happen to want to win your very own apple peeler/corer, hop over to my food blog!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Elijah's updated resume, impending IEP meeting and an injured thumb.

We have Elijah's IEP meeting bright and early in the morning, so I updated his resume! :)

We will let you know how the meeting goes! We expect good things. Elijah has had a good couple of days at school. Dan and I have been making an effort not to focus on behavior AT ALL. Instead of asking "Did you have a good day?" (like every day last year; real meaning of that question in his eyes: "Were you good today?") we say, "Did you have a fun day? What did you enjoy?" Last year we looked in his folder immediately to see notes from the teacher. This year we are not doing that.

We had an interesting afternoon in the Porta house! I have a HUGE bag of fresh apples, so I've been trying to cook and bake tons of apple recipes. This afternoon was Apple Pie Bread (soooo good!). In the process of peeling the apples, I cut my thumb. BAD. Blood was dripping all over the kitchen floor and I was moaning and sobbing from the pain. Thankfully Dan was home to help! Sammy was seriously upset about the ordeal. I'm pretty sure he thought I was dying. It was actually really sweet how concerned he was about me. He said the following lines repeatedly: "I need my nice mommy back! Mommy, please don't die! Ohhh, Mommy, please be ok again! I love you, my nice, sweet mommy!" 

I refuse to look at the wound. I've handed that task over to Dan. He is bandaging me as needed. And I've purchased an apple corer/peeler that should arrive later in the week.

More tomorrow! Please say an IEP prayer! :) Thanks for peeking in.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Week one of second grade done-zo.

Week one of second grade is done! We are feeling really good about the week and the year ahead. On Thursday afternoon I got a call from E's teacher. I saw the school's number pop up on my phone and my heart started racing. I knew the number well from last year. She was awesome and so so very kind. Elijah had reached a point of being overwhelmed and there was a minor incident with a classmate. She did the PERFECT thing. She calmly told him she was going to call me and did so immediately. From that point, he was able to turn things around and he was fine for the rest of the day. I was able to give her a few pointers so she could better understand how to deal with the situation. If this incident had occurred last year an entirely different scenario would have transpired afterward. We are feeling very grateful.

Elijah's new special education case manager, although we haven't officially met him yet, is AWESOME. In the four days Elijah has been in school, Mr. F has initiated a few one-on-one social situations for Elijah that have already been a success! Elijah and a friend from another class have been meeting for monitored play time together. Mr. F said that the boys formed a quick friendship and (when encouraged) found that they had a lot in common. Elijah has been talking about his new friend John and seems excited about the friendship. We SO appreciate this proactive approach! Elijah gets to spend time with Mr. F daily (away from class), which is great!

So far Elijah has told us:
- He really really REALLY wants to play the drums in music (so much that he started banging away on them, against the music teacher's wishes).
- "Mommy? I think my teacher this year might be better than my teacher last year."
- His favorite part of school so far is reading. :)
- Going to the bathroom after lunch (we told his teacher he NEEDS to do this) is annoying.
- His teacher has taught him to do stretches when he needs a break. I LOVE this!

Dan and I were very impressed with how well Elijah has held things together this week. He was a very tired boy tonight, so we put him to bed a little bit extra early. We feel so good about the people who will be caring for him while he is at school this year. Grateful grateful grateful!

I have been relishing my time with Sammy! I can't believe he will be in school full-time next year. :( We've had a few fun excursions this week and we will make the most of our time together this school year. I love my sweet, snuggly Sammy sooo much!

Weather permitting, Dan will be working all weekend. The boys and I may head to the dropzone tomorrow for some down time before another week of school begins. Have a great weekend and thanks for peeking in on our family!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Second grade, here we come (and some funnies, too)!

How is it possible that Elijah is in second grade?! That seems so hard to believe. After we got him on the bus this morning, I found myself thinking back on his precious little life up till now. I remember being in the NICU with him when he was a few days old and having a nurse tell us that these kids (heart kids) are special. They are unique and awesome and they stand out. Seven and a half years later...YEP! That describes our awesome oldest boy! I was filling out a paper from E's teacher and she asked us to describe him in three words. Ha! Three words?! I said, "Elijah, describe yourself in three words." Without skipping a beat, he said, "Smart, awesome and cute!" :)

Dan and I met with E's teacher, Mrs. G, last week. She was SO kind and comforting and we both got a really good feeling about her. We are grateful. I know we will likely have struggles on some level this year, but I have a feeling it'll be a much different story than last year. Elijah has matured and we have learned so much about how he thinks and operates.

This morning before school, as I was combing and re-combing Elijah's hair so it would stay down, he said to me, "Awww. I'm going to miss my brother today." Just before E got onto the bus, Sammy hugged him violently and said, "I'm going to MISS you, my cute, sweet BUDDY!" These boys love each other sooo much. When E's bus rolled up to our house this afternoon, Sammy RAN to it, screaming, "MY BUDDYYYYYY!!!!!"

And on a Sammy note...oh my goodness, he is so funny and precious! I have a few boy (mostly Sam) funnies to share from recently..

Me: I love you, Sammy.
Sammy: I love your body but I do NOT love your head.
(pretty sure the translation for this is: Please stop talking, Mother!)

Sammy: Daddy, I love you.
Dan: I love you, too, Sammy. I love our whole family.
S: Hands down, we have the best family EVER.

He has been so smart lately with the way he responds to being upset with us. Instead of punching or kicking (thank goodness this reaction seems to be fading), he will throw out the words instead. Here are a few examples:

I'm going to catch Daddy in a giant net.
I'm going to catch Daddy in a giant tornado.
I'm going to explode Mommy.
I'm going to pop Mommy's head off.
I'm going to run away from you.
I'm never going to be in your family again.
I'm going to lock my door forever.
I'm never getting out of this car again.
I don't love you.

Elijah (upon seeing Dan walk by with his hair pulled back in a ponytail): What the heck?! Why is there a ponytail on the back of Daddy's head?
Sammy: Is Daddy MOMMY?!

I don't think I ever wrote about this one, but it definitely needs to be told! While we were in Iowa for our family reunion last month, I brought Sammy downstairs to the bedroom for a time-out. I told him to stay there until he was ready to be kind and use kind words. As I left the room, I heard the door lock behind me. "Sammy, open the door, please!" "NO." "Open the door NOW." ....long pause....then Sammy said from the other side of the locked door, "RUDE WOMAN IN THE AREA!" I about died laughing. I ran upstairs to tell my family and they laughed, too. Then..back downstairs to get through the door that was being guarded by the Sassy Sam. :)

The boys, especially Elijah, fell asleep QUICKLY tonight. Novel situations and times of transition are particularly scary for him, so please pray with us for a positive school year and a seamless adjustment period. Our family has a CRAZY couple of months ahead of us, so I'm doing my best not to think too much about it. We'll get through it, right?!

Thanks for peeking in! Have a great week.

Friday, August 29, 2014

State Fair 2014

I have the most handsome boys on the planet! Sorting through these pics, I'm realizing how many close-ups I took of my three boys at the State Fair this year.

We had such a fun trip there this week, as we always do. We counted out years and figured that Elijah has been to NINE Fairs (including when he was in my tummy) and Sammy has been to five. 

We always start out with a massive Pronto Pup. :)

Then we move onto Sweet Martha's Cookies. The boys' favorite.

We tried a few new things this year, like this dreamsicle smoothie that the boys sucked down in 60 seconds. Another new favorite: reuben bites.

Sammy was so excited about seeing Cowwy's (his favorite stuffed animal) family! "LOOK! It's Cowwy's family! Take a picture!"

Our standard Oink Booth crown pic that I take every year.

Sammy was excited to see the "Daddy Pig" (MN's largest boar).

Aww, love this one.

It took MUCH effort and many tears to capture this photo. I'm glad we made it happen.

Waiting in line to get my age guessed.

Sammy, snuggling with his new I-Love-You-Monkey.

In previous years only Elijah has wanted to go on the ferris wheel, but this year Sammy joined us. Can you spot their cute faces?

Last year Elijah would not go on the Giant Slide because the previous year had traumatized him. I talked him into going this year and he was a little scared, but loved it once it was done.

The boys' first time ever eating snow cones!

As usual, we ended with the kid rides. The boys have a love-hate relationship with the Winky the Whale ride. They love it once it gets going, but anticipating the strange noise it makes drives them just about crazy!

Elijah rode on the little swings alone while Sammy watched.

Then Sammy decided he reeeeallly wanted to go, too, but only if Elijah could sit right behind him. Once the ride got going, he reached back for Elijah's hand and they held hands for the duration of the ride. It was the sweetest thing ever, and it totally calmed him.

My favorite pic of the day.

Note to self: buy THREE sheets of ride tickets in advance next year. Now that the boys are older and enjoying more things, we go through them quickly.

Super excited to be exiting the Wacky House.

The boys each won a handful of toys and had plenty of sugar in their bellies at the end of the day.

We spent a family record amount of time at the Fair--FIVE hours! That's a lot for us.

Dan and I had saved money up specifically for the Fair and had a tiny bit "extra" in the end. So we caved when the boys pleaded for us to buy them a fluffy unicorn from Despicable Me.

Fluffy Unicorn is treated like royalty in our house. She gets tucked into her bed in the loft every night and is gently awakened every morning.

It's so sad that our Fair time is done this summer! That means Fall is near. :( We had such a fun time and we are thankful that we are able to do this as a family every year.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Anticipating second grade

I have State Fair pics and some other fun bits to share, but I have a few dozen things ahead of those things on my to-do list. For now I'll write a quick post to say that we are all doing well! The little boys and I went to Elijah's second grade open house tonight. I cannot believe my big boy will be in second grade! It's surreal to consider our journey and it takes a lot of effort for me not to cry when I think about it. I think his teacher is going to be a really good fit. I was very happy with our interactions tonight. She is KIND, very warm, engaging and she made an effort to make Elijah feel important. She knew of his hearing difficulties, so she made a point to ask about seating and what would work best for him.

We are trying to be as proactive as possible, so Dan and I have a quick meeting with Mrs. G in the morning. I'd like to discuss Elijah's challenges in a nutshell and what helps/hurts. I'm hoping it will help him get through the first few weeks without any issues. His IEP meeting is scheduled for 9/10, so we'll get deep at that point! :)

Other than that, we are doing our best to get Elijah as much sleep as possible (some nights are better than others) and make him feel as safe as possible as we prepare for a new school year. We might spend a night at the dropzone this coming weekend, but we plan to lay low these next few days before school begins.

Thanks for checking in! I hope you're all having a great week!