Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy birthday, JESUS!


We try so hard to instill generosity into our boys this time of year. It gets to be so much, doesn't it? The gifts and hosting and baking and cooking and everything, heaped onto everything else?! It can be so hard to manage it all. This year we gave our boys one "big" gift to share (which they LOVED) and two individual gifts. (I have dreams of lessening next year's gifts even more.)

Yesterday, on Christmas Eve, Dan and I took the boys out to buy a plentiful amount of toys and books for "the kids at the hospital." We picked out all kinds of things and had so much fun with it! Then we drove to Children's Hospital and delivered our goodies to "the kids." This will be a tradition we will carry on forever as a family. This time of year does not have to be all about receiving. There will always be families and children who will have to spend time in the hospital during the holidays, and they will always need extra love.

Elijah and Sammy before our Christmas Eve service yesterday..

We had an incredible Christmas celebration with family and this morning we declared JAMMIES ALL DAY! :)

The boys were happy with their gifts and we spent the entire day enjoying each other and playing games and cuddling and watching movies. We began the day by singing happy birthday to Jesus!

This police/fire-station was our "big" gift to the boys and they loved it so much!

Sammy is so much more hesitant to enjoy gifts. "Really, Mom?! This is for ME? Do I deserve this?"

Whoa! Look at all the Santa and Mommy/Daddy gifts!

Bible reading with Grandpa on Christmas Eve!

One of my favorite Sammy faces. :)

Legos is the ONLY thing Elijah asked for from Santa. He was happy to see a box in his stocking!

Merry Christmas, everyone! We wish you all an amazing Christmas. Please remember Jesus' birth during this crazy season!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Out of the mouth of Sammy!

Starting literally the minute we departed for our trip, as we were being driven to the airport in a limo (so so cool!), Sammy began spouting funny lines. I typed every one of them into my phone during our trip. So here you go...quotes from our 3-1/2-year-old, funny, creative, imaginative Sammy. They will make you laugh!

We had just gotten into the limo and the boys had many questions. "Is this a bus?" "Is this a house?" Silence....then Sammy said, "When are we going to outer space?"

Two minutes later: "What if there is snow on the plane?"

Then: "My eyes are getting cold!"

Then: "Maybe we will go on a talking airplane!"

We found a playground in the airport for the boys to play in while we waited for our plane. I asked Sammy if he was going to go down the slide and he said, "That is NOT a slide! It's a drain!"

On the airplane, I sat across the aisle from Sammy. Just after take-off, he leaned over to me and said in a super cute whispery voice, "Mommy! Please do me a huge favor! Ask the pilot to get me some juice!"

Later in the flight, Sammy used the same whispery voice to say, "Daddy! I think you should wake that guy up!" as he pointed to the guy sitting in front of me.

On our way through the Orlando airport I tried to hold Sammy's hand and he said (just after taking his thumb out of his mouth), "HEY! I have a wet thumb here! I canNOT hold your hand."

Randomly, in traffic, with no obvious concerns on the road around us, Sammy said heatedly, "Daddy! Honk the horn NOW!"

We got a ride to our Villa for the first time on a golf cart. On the way there, Sammy said loudly, "Mommy, I think this cart is running out of gas!"

"I want ice burgers for breakfast tomorrow!"

"Look, there's a squirrel! Is he going to eat the owie on my knee?!"

The next morning when I got him out of bed: "Mommy! Monsters didn't take Cowwy (his beloved stuffed animal) in the middle of the night!"

After someone complimented Elijah on his glasses, Sammy said proudly, "I have sunglasses!"

On our way to one of the parks, Sammy said cooly, "Roll out the roof!" (i.e., open the sun roof!)

Getting ready to go to the waterpark: "Mommy! You have a swimsuit on your boobies!"

After we got a behind-the-scenes tour of the waterpark and we were walking past whooshing noises coming from the pipes and inner workings, Sammy said, "Nice air!"

Stopping at the edge of a sandy beach and looking at the footprints in the sand, he said, "Look! Someone's feet are broken!"

After taking a sip of milk: "I'm drinking moo juice. Also called cow coffee!"

We were in the Castle of Miracles, looking up at Elijah's star that had been placed on the ceiling. Another family walked out the door next to us. Sammy looked over as they were walking out and yelled behind them, "It's dangerous out there!"

"Mommy? I love you more than a banana and a slug!"

As we pulled out of the parking lot of Animal Kingdom: "Hang onto your helmets and lock your doors!"

As we were going through a tunnel on the little train at the Village (in a whispery voice): "Mommy? I don't think the tunnel is strong enough for Daddy!"

"I have three legs! One, two, three!" (pointing to each leg and an arm)

Dan said, "Sammy! Where is my KISS?!" Sammy: "It's GONE!"

As we were leaving Magic Kingdom, Sammy yelled to the teenage(ish) girl walking next to us, "HEY, young lady!"

After he got in trouble for using potty talk, he said to me in his hushed and whispery voice, "Mommy! I begins to punch Daddy!"

Waiting in line to park at Universal Studios, Sammy said, "This is a GREAT spot to park! Do it! Park HERE! NOW!"

"Elijah, tomorrow I'm going to have two heads!"

Sammy had been pouring loads of antibacterial soap into his hands in multiple batches and rubbing it in. Over and over. I told him he was nice and clean and that he didn't need any more. He said, "But it keeps falling into my hands!"

Sam has very sensitive eyes, especially when tired and even more so when the sun is shining in them. While we waited for Dan and Elijah to get out of the Shrek ride at Universal, Sammy rubbed his eyes and said, "Maybe sometime we should come here when the sun is not shining in my eyes!"

"It looks like a giant brown banana!" (use your imagination....heard coming from the bathroom)

"Mom! Somebody painted an M on here!" (pointing to an M&M)

In the car one day he said, "I was just taking a nap with my eyes open!"

After I explained to him that his beloved blankie needed to go into a bin at security, he held two corners out with his arms as far as they could go. "My blankie WON'T fit in the bucket if I hold it out like THIS!"

This is the ONE Elijah quote from the trip and a great one! As we were coming in for landing in cold, snowy, grey, gross Minneapolis, he said, "Coming into Freeziac with an order of MINNESOTA!"

And a few more Sammy funnies since we've been home (I can't seem to stop writing them down!):

"Turn on the water! My toothbrush is thirsty!"

Me: "Sammy, you're the cutest!"
S: "Mmm hmm! I AM!"

"Mommy? Is purple water hot?"

I called into the other room to ask Dan what he was doing and Sammy said, "He's jumping in the sea!"

Friday, December 20, 2013

Back from the land of magic!

We are home from our amazing Florida trip! I actually don't even know how to describe our adventure in words. It would be impossible. It was the most magical, amazing, memorable vacation I have ever experienced in my lifetime. I only pray that our boys will take the good memories with them forever! 

Give Kids the World Village was our "home base" for the week, and I cannot say enough good things about this amazing place. They treat children like celebrities 24 hours/day. Our boys have never gotten so much love and been so spoiled ever before (and that's saying a lot!). Around every corner was a surprise. A cookie truck handing out cookies and lemonade. A generous group of people randomly handing out Christmas presents. Gifts being left on our kitchen table daily. Free food and ice cream whenever we wished. Rides on trains. A huge party every single night, in which EVERY child was made to feel like the most important person in the world. A carousel to ride any time of the day. A tree that snored. Access to a pool and splash park and mini golf and arcade games and a magical castle with a wishing well that burps (this was the boys' FAVORITE place and we visited it twice/day minimum). I could go on and on.  

In addition to everything at the Village, we were given passes to every theme park in the Orlando area. We made the most of those passes and managed to hit most spots on our list. Elijah's main wish was to go to Aquatic Waterpark, and we got the FULL treatment there. We felt like celebrities!

Not only did we get our very own dolphin show at Aquatica (seriously!), but we got our own HUGE cabana. We had our very own, private space for the day, which was stocked with goodies (a TON of goodies), a fridge filled with water and a couch and comfy chairs and the whole works. As the generous man from Aquatica walked us back to our area, I began to cry. I really didn't expect that sort of treatment. I felt overwhelmed and grateful for the experience and everything that was being done for us. Then we received two huge bags of goodies, including water guns for the boys, a framed photo of the four of us from the dolphin show, towels and candy and chips and seriously it went on and on. That wasn't all! We got a behind-the-scenes tour of the waterpark, where we learned about the inner workings of the park. Elijah and Sammy got to "line a backwash" by turning a giant wheel, which meant they helped to purify the water in the park that day! 

(taking a break in our cabana to eat mid-day...can you tell Elijah was tired?!)

We went to Magic Kingdom on Sunday and had a BLAST. I think it's safe to say it was our favorite place. One of the perks we received was having a Fast Pass that put us in the front of every line in every park. We took full advantage of this, as we knew we would never have this opportunity again. I think we made it on 10ish rides that day alone. They were all incredible! We walked for about 7 hours straight. The boys got to meet Mickey Mouse (Sammy loved this). Elijah got super duper special treatment and was sent back to meet the other Disney characters (Sammy ran screaming).

Elijah and Sammy bonded with Mayor Clayton and his wife Ms. Merry at the Village. They appear at the parties every night (there is a different theme every night of the week...pirate/princess, pool party, CandyLand, Halloween, birthday, Village Idol, Christmas) and at other various events during the day. Elijah especially was enamored by these two and was ready to pose with them for a photo at every opportunity. The last night of our trip, the boys got tucked in by Ms. Merry. I got video of that and Elijah has watched it about 100 times.

Elijah decided he wanted to be a contestant on "Village Idol," which is the Village's version of American Idol. He sang the Alvin and the Chipmunks version of Jingle Bells. He asked me to PLEASE come out on stage with him, so I did. I coached him through the song and he did GREAT! It was one of the cutest things I've ever seen and I'll never forget it.

We also made it to Animal Kingdom, although that was our roughest day. Elijah did not sleep well during most of the trip, and the night before AK was the roughest night. Our AK day was rough for all of us. We were running on fumes and we were all grumpy and totally spent. We did enjoy the Festival of the Lion King show, where we were again treated like royalty. We sat in the front row! Dan was called on stage to demonstrate a warthog noise (super funny). Then Elijah got to run around on stage with the performers! It was an incredible, colorful and enjoyable show. Sammy hid his face in my lap for most of it, in fear that someone would ask him to come on stage. :)

We went to Universal Studios one day and had a blast there. This is where we were introduced to the world of 3D! Elijah did great with it, which surprised me. Sammy was terrified. All of us except for Sammy loved the Despicable Me and Shrek rides. I rode on the Harry Potter ride by myself and was in HEAVEN. I was super happy to walk through Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. :)

There are so many other things! We went to Hollywood Studios and loved (all except Sammy) the Toy Story ride. We also attended a live Disney Junior show, which the boys loved. We went to Sea World and watched the Shamu show, which we thought was really cool until we watched the Dolphin Show. AMAZING! That was one of the highlights of our trip.

I'm hoping to put together a video of our trip in the next few weeks. I also have a huge list of Sammy quotes to share that are hilarious!

Elijah's sleep on the trip was sporadic, but mostly poor. He was up early (4:00ish) on most mornings. We tried the medication for a few days that his sleep specialist recommended and the following couple of days were VERY challenging. So we stopped the meds. We are praying so hard for answers in this area. I am dreading sending him back to school because I cannot stomach anticipating calls/emails from teachers and the principal. It makes me sick to think about it. Something needs to change and we are praying about what that might be. I have a few other things in the works that could help our boy. More on that to come (hopefully soon)!

We are SO GRATEFUL for our amazing trip, but we're also dealing with some major post-trip blues. Thanks for checking in! We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's complicated

This week I keep thinking of Facebook and how under "relationship status," there is an option to select "It's complicated." If Elijah were to choose a status for his life right now, that's exactly what it would say. It's complicated!

I attended Elijah's special education planning meeting this morning. I got to hear all about E's "horrible" behavior. It was fantastic! (sorry for the sarcasm....have to laugh or I'll cry!) In a nutshell, we need to find a new special ed category for him to fall under in order for him to keep receiving services after age 7 (which he desperately needs). He's a tricky one. He doesn't fully fall under any category. Like the school social worker told me, it's like fitting a square peg into a round hole. He has a little bit of every issue, but nothing in full.

Most likely, we'll be able to figure out a way to continue his special ed services, although it is going to take some thinking. The team gave some brief thoughts about which category would be best for him, and then a member of the team (who I had never met) suggested that Elijah receive the EBD label (Emotionally and Behaviorally Disturbed). Sirens blared in my head. I remembered Dan telling me stories about subbing in EBD classes. Not good. Not good at all. We do not feel this is necessary for Elijah. It doesn't fit him. I will not allow them to put that label on him. I'd rather pull him out of public schools and home-school him.

Elijah has had a ROUGH week. Really rough. Multiple calls from the principal rough. We don't know what to do to help our boy. We do feel like exhaustion is still a major factor, and we are working so hard to get that under control. We also feel like he's not feeling totally understood at school. Like maybe he's not getting the magic combination of warmth/firmness that he needs to succeed.

I was thinking of examples of how to effectively interact with E on my drive home tonight. Here's one: I cannot hand Elijah his clothes in the morning and tell him, "Get dressed!" If I did that, a 30-minute battle would ensue. Instead, I wrap my arms around him and snuggle for a few seconds. I tickle him for a bit and say something silly. Then I say, "Pick the ONE piece of clothing that you'd like me to help you with. You will do the rest." Done. I give him minimal assistance getting his shirt or socks on (his usual picks), and he does the rest with no problem. A unique combination of warmth and connection and firmness is needed for this boy. This applies in all areas of his life.

SLEEP! I have been chatting with E's sleep doctor this week since he has been struggling so much in school. Again, things get tricky because we cannot give E any meds that are typically prescribed for pediatric sleep disorders. They could interfere with heart and kidney issues, which we definitely want to steer clear of. The sleep doctor did think of a medication to give him to help him sleep better in the early morning hours. It's basically a delayed antihistamine that would be given at bedtime and hopefully make him feel sleepy early in the morning, when he always wants to get out of bed and play! We plan to start this tomorrow to see what happens. It'll take some time to tell, and the hope is that eventually he will "grow out" of this. 

I honestly could go on and on. There are so many components to our oldest boy that seem super complicated right now. We just have to keep holding on to our faith. We know it will be ok. It is overwhelming right now, but everything will be ok.

After all, we do leave for E's Make-a-Wish trip on Friday morning! We can't wait! We all need miraculous sleep before our limo picks us up at 5:45 AM! :) We have not even begun to start packing! 

Thanks for checking in and please pray for our oldest boy! Pray for answers and for peace/rest in his mind and body. Thank you!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chipping away at life and an AMAZING send-off party!

We have been chipping away at life. It seems like so much sometimes, doesn't it? Work, work, work and everything else. I don't mean to complain. I am GRATEFUL for work and busy-ness.

Today we surprised the boys with a Make-a-Wish trip "send-off" party. Our amazing wish team hosted the most incredible party at our house, and we were supported by our amazing family! It was a day to remember for all of us. We will never forget it.

I knew guests were showing up at 2:00 and the wish team was arriving at 1:15. I left the house with the boys at 12:30 with a destination of "the mall" in mind. The roads weren't ideal due to snow, so we ended up driving around on back roads (I wanted the boys to nap in the car) and then going to Target. When we arrived back home and drove by our driveway, we saw my cousin Trevor and his cuties walking along the snowy sidewalk. Elijah said, "Hey! Who IS that?!" I said, "Our neighbor Tom" (I knew he'd ask a name). "Why is Tom going to our door?" Uhhhh...  "What is Tom doing? Does Tom have kids?? WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE? WHY ARE THEY GOING INTO OUR HOUSE?!?!?"

Elijah was onto me, but both boys were genuinely surprised when they walked into our home to find so many people saying "SURPRISE!!!" The party was a huge success. Its official name was Surprise Snowy Sunday Sundae Send-off Party (SSSSSP). The wish team had an extensive ice cream sundae bar set up and the kids played fun sundae-related games. It was a blast!

Sammy insisted on sitting RIGHT NEXT TO his brother...on the same chair. Those boys love each other so much.

The games the kids played were so much fun!

Here's a photo of all the kids on the stairs. HIIII! I'M ELIJAH! :)

The complete opposite of his brother, Sammy had to be physically forced into the photo.

Dan is flying out of town as I type. He will be gone until Wednesday morning, so I'll be playing the "single mom" role for a few days. Getting S to daycare, E on the bus, driving down to Cannon Falls to work, getting E from bus and S from daycare.. Please tell me we will survive the week! I can't quite yet envision that we are leaving for Florida in a few days. WE ARE LEAVING FOR FLORIDA IN A FEW DAYS!

I don't think I've mentioned Elijah's ear issues of late. He has had a bit of blood oozing from his surgery ear (along with an occasional low-grade fever), causing some concern. We are praying for minor issues, and his ENT doc does not seem worried. We are giving him ear drops a few times daily, in hopes that he had an ear infection after his last round of strep.

The sleep/behavior saga continues. Last week was a grueling one at school for our oldest boy. We continue to try to find the perfect formula for him. Things seem so complicated sometimes. Every little piece ends up affecting other pieces and it gets so tricky. I just hung up the phone with his sleep specialist and she told me, "He is such a tricky case!" Uhh, yep! In every aspect. But we love him unconditionally and we will continue to do our best to find the perfect formula to make him the happiest person possible, along with his precious brother, Sammy.

That's all for now! Have a great week and thank you so much for checking in!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Light at the end of the tunnel

I am titling the next 10 days THE END OF INSANITY. An end to the madness is finally in sight.

One of the catalogs I've been putting together for my freelance job is going to press this week, which means lots of hours. I have 2 food blog deadlines to meet and 3 photography sessions to edit. Both of our cars are causing us trouble, so we have to bring them in. I have skis to service (so excited to share about skiing opportunities coming up) and physical therapists to call and Christmas shopping to do and a party to plan (excited to share about this, too!). Elijah has his usual stuff going on this week, along with an appointment with his psychologist. Oh, did I mention Dan's birthday is on Thursday?! We'll try to get out for a date that night.

Dan will be out of town for a few days for work early next week and we have E's special ed re-eval meeting next Wednesday morning. But work will be dying down for me by then (I hope) and we leave for Florida next Friday. I plan to do ZERO work in Florida and focus only on my boys and having a ton of FUN with their cute selves! I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and I'm embracing it, hugging it, calling to it! Come closer, light!

Elijah did a photo shoot with the Make-a-Wish photographers a few weeks ago. Some of his pics may be displayed in their booth in the Mall of America (we haven't seen it yet, so not sure if he's there). We just got an email from his awesome wish team today with this link! Check it out!

I know, I know. We are NOT the only ones who are stretched beyond measure this time of year. It is fairly normal, which seems wrong somehow, doesn't it?! We wish you all grace and peace in order to get through this "season" while keeping smiles on your faces and keeping your focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

Thanks for peeking in! We wish you all a wonderful December!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Giving thanks and picking out a tree!


Happy belated Thanksgiving! After a very busy couple of weeks, we had a nice and relaxing day yesterday. Well, aside from the 5K that I ran in the morning and aside from the cooking and baking we had to get done before dinner. Aside from all of that, it was relaxing! Ha!

The day after Thanksgiving is the day every year when we go to pick out a Christmas tree. We spend the day putting it up and decorating it....and resting. TRULY resting. No exercising, no cooking, no working, no nothing except enjoying each other. Just the four of us. I remember last year being snowy, windy and COLD, so it felt balmy this year at 20-something degrees. We picked out our tree pretty quickly and the boys got to meet a few of Santa's reindeer.

Giving each other the eye.

Sammy wanted NOTHING to do with Santa this year. Elijah was eager to get onto the sleigh and chat with him. He told Santa he'd like some Legos. We always try to downplay Santa, so I was glad he asked for a relatively little thing.

Loaded up and ready to get our tree back home! The boys were very concerned that the tree would fly off the back of the car.

The majority of Elijah's days in school lately involve some struggling. It is really really difficult to hear about the things he says and does and not know what to do to help him. I feel like we are doing absolutely everything we possibly can as his parents, and I try to be content with that.

I don't remember who I was saying this to the other day, but Elijah needs not only super strict rules but he needs about 10 amendments and 5 sub-amendments to each rule. It feels so complicated and overwhelming sometimes. There are a bunch of "little" things that we are constantly working on with him, but they all add up and they end up complicating one another (if that makes sense).

We continue to do light therapy and we have tried to put him to bed no earlier than 7:00 every night, even though some nights he is ready for bed at 5:00. For about five days last week he was waking up between 5:00-6:00, which was GREAT! Then he had four days in a row of 3:00-3:30 wake-up times. I have a gut feeling this was a result of the antibiotics he was taking for his strep. This morning he slept till 6:00! On the mornings when he is awake at 3:00, we give him a tiny dose of melatonin, although it doesn't seem to help much.

He tends to get into moods where he literally seems to want to upset/annoy everyone around him. It's really tough trying to stay positive while managing this behavior. We enforce the no "icky" words rule, so he resorts to making horrible noises and using icky tones with regular words. This is where the sub-amendments come into play. Suddenly an innocent word like "baby" becomes just as bad as an actual bad word. When we enforce no bad tones, he finds other ways to get under our skin. I so often wonder what is going through his smart little brain. Is there something he needs that I'm not giving him? He's such a complex little guy. He always has been, and we love him for it. I was just thinking tonight about what a relatively easy kid Sammy has been. I was thinking about what life would be like if we would have had two Sammys and I thought, Wait a second! If we had two kids like Sammy, Dan and I would have missed out on so much! In all honestly, it can be tough sometimes, but I wouldn't trade any of it. Elijah is EXACTLY who he was meant to be and we accept him 100% and love him TO PIECES. If you know us personally, you KNOW I mean that.

Here are some GOOD tidbits for you because we do have a mostly happy home and happy family!

Whenever all four of us are at home in the morning, we all crawl into Dan's and my bed. The boys LOVE our "fluffy blankets and pillows" (I do have a mild obsession with pillows) and snuggle and watch cartoons and hold hands and say "I love you" to each other every couple of minutes.

I have been extra smitten with Elijah and Sammy lately. I think it's because I've been working so much away from home. My heart will literally ache in the middle of the day when I think of how soft Sammy's cheeks are or how Elijah's arms feel around my neck when he hugs me or how he will not allow me to leave home without "a hug and a kiss!" I love my boys so much!

Here is a funny conversation that took place last night:
Me: Hey Sammy, what's up?
S: Ohhh, just pickin' my nose. Trying to find a booger.
Me: Icky! Do you need a tissue?
S: No, I didn't find any.

We have another couple of busy weeks ahead, but two weeks from today we leave for Elijah's Make-a-Wish trip! We cannot wait! The boys are sooo excited!

We pray that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you have a peaceful rest of your long weekend! Thank you for checking in!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Hello! Usually I have some idea about what I'm going to say, but not tonight. I just wanted to log on and let you know we are still here. Elijah is still struggling at school, but it is getting better. "Getting better" = not hitting or kicking teachers or calling them names. He is still having a tough time following directions and he becomes defiant when asked to do something outside his agenda (same as at home). We are thankful things are overall better, but we continue to pray for progress!

Dan brought the boys to the doctor today so they could get their flu shots. Finally. We've had to put it off a few times due to illness, so I was happy to get it done. turns out Elijah has strep throat. What?! He did complain of a sore throat yesterday but we thought it was a passing cold, as he always seems to have a tiny one of some sort. No school tomorrow!

After the busiest busy week yet (that is not yet finished), I have plans to spend an ENTIRE weekend with my bestest college buds. It's not quite yet real. There is much to be accomplished before then! I am thankful for a husband who encourages me to "get away" once in a while. All of us harried parents need an occasional get-away.

There is so much more, but I can't think right now. Bed is calling! Thank you for checking in!

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Even just a few short months ago I never would have dreamed that Elijah would be earning an orange belt in tae-kwon-do. It happened today! We are so proud of him! I'm sad I wasn't able to be there, but trust me when I tell you that my reason for being absent was worthwhile (more on that another time). Dan said he did GREAT. It sounds like it was a lengthy process, but he hung in there. Kudos to Sammy, as well, for being a good sport while waiting on his bro!

To make the experience WAY cooler, Elijah got to meet and shake hands with.....get ready....the ATA GRAND MASTER! If you are at all familiar with tae-kwon-do, you will know that this is a VERY big deal. An experience of a lifetime. Elijah was very excited about his day, and we are all proud of the progress he has made!

Here he is doing his form. In the background you will see the blue judge table. The judge to the left is a good skydiving friend of ours. How cool! In the middle is the Grand Master.

Super blurry, but here is Elijah shaking the Grand Master's hand!

Receiving his orange belt from his (blurry) instructor (we love him!).

High-fiving the black belts.

A little intermission involving brotherly love (and wrestling, from what I hear).

We made our long day even longer by heading up north to celebrate Dan's grandma's 90th birthday. It was so wonderful to see family that we don't get to see very often. It was a LONG and tiring day, but so very worth it. It feels nice to have my butt in a chair. Relaxation is calling!

Friday, November 15, 2013

IEP meeting

I wanted to write an update about Elijah's IEP meeting before I headed to bed. After a few really tough months dealing with behavioral issues, I didn't know what to expect. Despite my worries, it went great. Elijah's amazing special ed case manager began the meeting by having everyone say what their favorite thing is about Elijah. Every person said pretty much the same thing: "I love his big smile and how happy and friendly he is." :) He makes people smile!

As far as his IEP plan goes, Elijah is doing great. And in the behavioral realm, he has improved a lot in the past 3-4 weeks. He is officially done with speech, which is great but also a bit sad. His speech therapist has been with us since he was a little guy. She is amazing and we all adore her. It was sad to say goodbye today.

The PE teachers are doing a great job of working with Elijah in the large group PE class and also in his pull-out small group. His sass pops up occasionally, but they seem to deal with it appropriately. He is obviously slower than the other kids, but seems to be doing the best he can during PE.

His OT has made some really great observations during Elijah's "tired time" in class, which typically occurs after 1:00. She noticed that a lot of his undesirable behaviors occur when he is overwhelmed, which is a common theme at home, as well. She is going to create a daily calendar for him so that he can cross off "little" tasks as the day plays out. We do this at home, too. One little thing at a time!

His case manager wants to continue working with him on being independent with daily tasks such as putting on his coat and zipping it up without complaining. These little tasks are a constant struggle at home, so we appreciate help in this area.

E's teacher has a new approach with getting him to accomplish tasks in the classroom. She made really fun little punch-cards for him. Any time he does something positive he gets a punch in his card. After 20 punches, he gets rewarded. Today he received 3 punches and he was so excited!

The next trick is figuring out a way to keep Elijah under the special education umbrella after he turns 7 years old in February. His current label is "developmental delay," but at age 7 that can apparently no longer apply. In my opinion, he still very much needs to have special ed services. Without them, his teacher would bear the weight of about 5 or 6 people while he is at school. We have a meeting scheduled for December 11th to discuss this further. Please pray that we can come up with a way for him to continue receiving the help he needs while he is away from us! He definitely needs it and we will rally for it.

Thanks for checking in and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sleep insight

Dan brought Elijah to see the sleep specialist today at Children's. In a nutshell, we need to reset Elijah's sleep cycle. This is pretty much what we already knew, but she gave us a few key pointers. We had been having him do light therapy, but stopped a few weeks ago because it didn't seem to be helping. We had also started giving him melatonin occasionally at night, which we learned today was probably hurting more than anything only because of our timing. What we want to try to do is decrease his melatonin levels at night (consistent light therapy should help with this) and increase the melatonin in his body when he starts to stir in the early morning hours, around 2-3:00am. What we will begin to do is get up around 3:00 (or earlier, if we hear him stirring) and squirt a few drops of melatonin drops into his mouth. The doctor's hope is that after four weeks, he will have a much more normal sleep cycle and will not be waking up so early. If there is no change in four weeks, we will borrow a device from the clinic that would go onto his wrist and measure night-time activity. I'm feeling hopeful! Giving him melatonin in the early morning (as opposed to right before bed) is something I NEVER would have thought of on my own.

Early tomorrow morning Dan and I will attend E's IEP meeting. I have such a pit in my stomach about it, but we are praying for the best!

I'm off to enjoy my brand new computer set-up! It's unbelievably awesome! I have been editing thousands of photos on my little 13-inch laptop for the past two years. Now I have a gigantic monitor that I barely know what to do with! So exciting!

Thanks for checking in! Have a great Friday!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Tonight after I got home from work the boys and I did tickle time, chasing, pinching butts (don't ask), dancing crazily around the living room while listening to worship music, playing Candy Land and on and on.. It was wonderful. I am so grateful for my awesome boys!

I don't know that I have mentioned some recent appointments Elijah has had. He got new ankle braces a few weeks ago. His PT thought they were necessary, as his ankles are turning inward more these days. He is adjusting to them well. We also decided it would be beneficial to have Elijah start seeing a psychologist after dealing with some behavioral issues at school. After talking to this new doctor, I had the idea to create Emotion Cards at home. Whenever he feels a negative emotion, we encourage him to seek out the appropriate card and flip it over. On the other side, there are multiple suggestions about how to handle the emotion (most of which E helped me come up with). Take a deep breath! Say silly words! Count to 10! Take a rest or time-out! So far it is going well.

We had E's parent-teacher conference this week. It went as expected. Elijah is doing great academically. His teacher struggles with his behavior, mostly in the afternoons (when he becomes tired). Honestly, it's tough hearing her view on him. Not many positive things are expressed. Dan and I know how challenging his behavior can be, but we have perspective and therefore grace. We know where he's been. His IEP meeting is on Friday morning, so please pray that it goes well. And that I don't cry! I have been preparing myself and I'm bringing tissues.

We ran into one of Elijah's kindergarten teachers after his conference the other night. It was so nice to see her! She knows our boy so well and we will never EVER forget the effort she put into shaping him into a great student and person during his kindergarten year. I asked her if we could please just take her along as his teacher every year. :)

On Thursday E will see a sleep specialist who will hopefully give us insight regarding his sleep issues. I am feeling hopeful that this will take care of a lot of other things!

Our sweet Sammy is doing great. He certainly has a sassy and independent side, but he is such a sweet and caring little boy. I love being his mom! I literally yearn for him during the day while I am at work. When I get home, I practically attack him with hugs and kisses. He is precious and adorable and I love him to pieces!

Thanks for checking in. Here's hoping you all have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Halloween 2013

Life is crazy. Do I always say that? Because if I've said it before I didn't mean it. Or maybe I didn't know that it could get crazier. I am so thankful for my boys who make me smile and give me comfort constantly.

We had a fun Halloween! The only way Sammy would dress up this year is if he could wear his robot costume from last year. Uhh, do you see how short the pants are (look closely)? We had to literally cut the seams with scissors to get them on him. Next year the robot will NOT be working. :) Elijah was so happy to be a Ninja Turtle! Can you tell?

We took the boys to the mall to trick-or-treat again this year. They still love it and get PLENTY of candy (some of which I am munching on as I type). I suppose in a few years we will have to change things up, but for now it's a good fit.

I'll write a quick update about school/behavior, etc. Last week ended up being an improved week at school for Elijah. He had a few rough patches, but overall was much improved from the previous weeks. Yay! According to him, he had a rough day yesterday. I haven't gotten a report from his teacher yet, which I don't seek out these days (too much heartache). She is great about filling me in eventually. He claimed to have a good day today, so we are hoping for many many MANY more of these.

We also started bringing E to a child psychologist for a little extra insight. His second appointment is this week, so I'm hoping to feel a sense of relief in some way. His sleep specialist appointment is next week already, which I am super hopeful about. Also, his IEP meeting is next Friday (yikes). Lots of stuff coming up!

Look at the loot! :)

I will write more later! I must get to some work before I head to bed. Thanks for checking in! Please pray for upcoming appointments, if that is on your heart. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Just another week!

I'll begin with a bit of disheartening news. A tiny bit of consumed chocolate has pushed Elijah's ear surgery back by 2.5 months. It is now scheduled for January 7th. We feel bummed about this, as we were hoping to have it out of the way (and having his hearing restored) by now. But we are TRUSTING in this timing. In HIS timing.

And now for some positive news! After receiving a disheartening email from Elijah's teacher yesterday afternoon about his behavior, I just felt...saddened. He is SO. TIRED. Dan and I both feel that his exhaustion is the main reason for his behavioral issues. I feel like his upcoming appointment at the pediatric sleep clinic will be insightful, but that isn't on the schedule until December. On my way home from work yesterday, I called the sleep clinic and left a sobbing message on their voicemail (yes, I'm that mom). I asked if there was anything they could do for us in the meantime, as we suffer through major difficulties with exhaustion and behavior, etc. I received a call back right away this morning and they had a cancellation! Elijah can now be seen on November 14th! We are so excited about this and it was a major answer to prayer.

His behavior in school has been totally sporadic and inconsistent, which has been difficult to understand. Some days he has ZERO issues. Some days he has 27 "blurt-outs" (yes, his teacher counts). Some days he has great mornings and horrible afternoons. Some days he begins his afternoon horribly and is able to turn it around. Some days he screams at his teachers. Some days he is kind to his teachers and peers. ????? I pray to God that exhaustion is the culprit of all of this and that he will be much more even-keeled once we figure out the sleep issues.

SAMMY, our sweet/sassy Sammy, is so stinkin' cute and smart (when he's not exerting his independence)! Please let me indulge in a my-kid-is-smart story. The other day Sammy asked me if he could watch a show. I said, "I don't know. How many shows have you watched today?" He said, "Let me ask Dad!.......Daddy?! How many shows did I watch today?" Dan said, "One this morning and one after nap." Sam came back to me and said, "Mom, Dad said I watched two shows today." Wait....did my 3-year-old just do math?! He is also beginning to write letters and sound out small words. Just to be sure on the math thing, I tested him this morning. "Sammy, what is 1+1?" "TWO!" "What is 2+1?" "THREE!" "What is 3+1?" "FOUR!" Scary. Our boys are going to be out-smarting us in 2 years. Oh wait, they're already doing that.

And Sammy is now a mostly potty-trained big boy! Not only is he peeing in the toilet all day by himself, but he is keeping his diaper mostly dry during the night. Dan and I are a bit taken aback by this. Shouldn't this process take four years?! Like we've always said, Elijah and Sammy are learning things side by side in so many areas. Now Elijah is asking us, "When can I not wear a diaper through the night? I'm NOT a baby!" :)

Thanks for checking in! We pray that you are all happy and healthy! Have a great week!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkin carving 2013

I realize I am a bit biased, but...aren't these boys HANDSOME?! Look at these beautiful faces!

We did our annual pumpkin carving tonight, which involves...

..the boys getting the process started.

And Dan and I doing all of the work while the boys play. :)

We love it! Guts and all.

Dan broke out his drill this year (unsuccessfully). Notice the ear-plugging going on in the background. :)

We decided to have a contest this year. Daddy-Elijah vs. Mommy-Sammy. I think I know who won, don't you?! :)