Monday, September 30, 2013

The scenic route

Our oldest boy could use your prayers. He is having a VERY difficult time right now. His behavior at school is getting worse by the week and home isn't any better. He spent the majority of his day in the school social worker's office today because he couldn't control himself in the classroom. He is being defiant with adults and also being disruptive by talking and giggling a lot. I haven't heard many positive things at all, and I feel sick to my stomach about it.

I know that he is exhausted and that is a big culprit. Sleep has always been tricky with him because keeping him rested is nearly impossible. He LITERALLY does not have the ability to sleep past 5:00-6:00am, so we are having to put him to bed at 6:00 every night in order for him to get adequate rest. Except, it's not always feasible to go to bed at 6:00 in the evening! Dan and I were both working on Saturday until 8:30, so Elijah and Sammy were with their auntie and cousins. By the time the boys got to bed it was 9:00 or 9:30. There's 3+ hours of lost sleep because guess what?! Elijah was up at 5:00 the next morning!

Yesterday I sat down and made a behavior chart for him, writing out specific behaviors that he needs to improve in order to earn rewards. Today was our first day of employing it, and BOOM! I feel like punching a hole through it. I called his pediatrician and chatted with her today. He needs help right now beyond anything we can offer. Dr. Judy gave me the name of a good child psychologist, and I'm waiting to hear back. I feel like that is a good first step. Employ the smart people! :)

He is struggling and we could all use prayers for peace, patience and wisdom. Oh and self-control and obedience. :) Before first grade started, I envisioned a gigantic swirling tub of turbulent water. I knew it would be rough, so when the first few weeks were so smooth I was thrown off. Turns out, that was the calm before the storm. Here we are, in the middle of the storm and trying to figure out how to help our boy.

Today on my way home from work I had the thought that this is going to be the year that we move mountains. Moving a mountain is not easy from what I hear, but I can imagine that a feeling of major accomplishment would follow. It's going to be a tough year, but I believe we will gain tons of understanding and make huge gains.

As we have always said about Elijah--we will get there! I saw a quote the other day that I loved and that I'm going to steal. We're taking the scenic route! We will be arriving at the same destination as everyone else, but via a much twistier, more adventurous path.

WE WILL GET THERE, Elijah, and we love you so very much!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Quick Elijah update and SUPER DUPER EXCITING NEWS

We got a little more of the story today from Elijah's teacher and special education case manager. Apparently there is no possible way he could have been sitting at a table all alone at lunch, like I had imagined all night last night. I'm guessing he is feeling excluded in some way and that is the issue. We don't really know. Dan went along on a field trip with his class today and got a feel for Elijah's relationships with his peers. It's about what it's always been like. He does not know how to appropriately interact with kids he doesn't know very well. He SO BADLY wants to interact, but he gets nervous and mumbles and turns and runs away out of pure excitement. Put him in front of an adult or his bro Sammy and he does just fine!

We went to his school picnic tonight and he was so excited to see a few of his classmates. One little girl approached him and said hello. What did Elijah do? He ran the other way. I could tell he wanted her attention. BADLY. So I ran over and literally picked him up and brought him over to this sweet little girl. I said, "Elijah, TALK. Is this your friend?" She introduced herself and told me that she was in his class. I encouraged him to interact and finally got him to ask her, "Do you want to play?" They ran around for a bit and that made me happy. We will get there. Just like with everything else!

On a semi-related note, Elijah had to come home from school early twice last week due to an icky tummy and some accidents. He had been complaining of stomach pains last week, and had been having issues off and on since mid-August when we changed his diet. We took him to the doctor on Friday and had a bunch of tests done. We just got results back today and everything came back normal! Thank God! Now we need to figure out what is upsetting his tummy.

And now for super exciting news! A few of my heart mama friends suggested that we turn in a Make-a-Wish application for Elijah. At first I just didn't know. I felt some guilt since Elijah is doing so well and has such a great prognosis. I filled out the application and Elijah's cardiologist approved it without hesitation. We met with the Wish people and of course E won them over. His primary wish?? To go to a waterpark in Florida that he has been DROOLING over on my iPad for months. His secondary wish?? To go to his "factory." (Waterpark of America here in town.)

I got the call tonight. Elijah's primary wish has BEEN GRANTED. We will spend one week in Florida, at Aquatica (THE waterpark) or Disney or Seaworld or wherever. I am speechless. I am so happy. Our boy who has been through SO MUCH (and of course his awesome bro, too) will be SO HAPPY. I was sobbing on the phone and could not speak coherently. After the week we had with school-related issues, we decided that a school reveal would be perfect! Elijah is going to be so excited and it is going to be a total surprise!

Thank you so much for reading! Have a good night, friends.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

First grade sadness

As I do every evening, I asked Elijah what his favorite part of the day was. He said he didn't know, so I asked about lunch (his previously stated favorite part of the day). A sad look came over his face and he grew silent. I carefully inquired and he shared with me that the other kids in his class don't like to sit with him, so he sits "alone" during lunch. Dan and I agreed that this was a top 3 biggest punch-in-gut moment, six years of hospital and medical drama included.

Granted, I feel like I should speak with his teacher before getting too upset but gauging from the sad look on his little face I'm assuming there is some speck of truth here. Our sweet, kind, strong, friendly, AMAZING child is feeling excluded and is hurting.

He has been having behavioral problems in school, as well, which truly doesn't surprise me much. It was a rough summer in that department. We are working with his teacher to take care of specific behaviors and hopefully put them to rest.

Please pray for our sweet boy. Pray that he will have confidence about awesome he truly is and how LOVED he is. Also pray for the teachers at his school to know how to care for him the best. Thank you!

On a much lighter note, I'll end with a little bit of shameless bragging! :) I was published in a magazine! Go grab the October issue of Southern Living magazine off the shelf and check out page 12!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The fall crazies and a TON of boy funnies

This week has been nuts. Dan is beginning to phase out of dropzone work for the summer and I am phasing into fall freelance work down in Cannon Falls. I remember this time last year being tiring, and I wasn't nearly as busy with blog/photography then. Bring on the tireds! 'Tis the season. Life is good, though. I love all of my jobs and find them each to be so rewarding. Even though he gets drained when the summer is done, Dan loves being a skydiving instructor. He has some new work opportunities that lie ahead that he is excited about. I always wonder how Sammy and Elijah will answer the question, "What do your parents do?" Maybe: "Which day of the week?" 

I finally gathered up the courage to email Elijah's teacher to see how school is going for him from her perspective. I'm curious to hear what she will have to say. Or as Sammy would say, "I'm exciting to hear." :)

Also on the list is talking to E's gym teacher. Elijah told me the other day that he wasn't able to play what the other kids were playing. I don't know if they are adapting activities for him, or if he's just hanging out on the sidelines. I have been wanting to get him involved in a sport or activity that would make him feel like he was keeping up with other kids, so I called his cardiologist last week and got the thumbs up to put him in karate. Then I called one of our skydiving friends who is a karate guru and got the name of a great instructor just down the road.

On Monday night we all went and checked it out. Of course we could not get Sammy to participate, but Elijah willingly put on the white pants and jacket and ROCKED his first karate class. He did great! At the end of the class his teacher put a blue "stripe" on his belt for having a good attitude. He told him that his parents have the power to remove the stripe if he does not have a good attitude. We have threatened removing it a couple times since then and he does NOT like that. He straightens right up! We are hoping that in addition to being great for gross motor and confidence, it will also help with respect and behavior. Hoping!

Dr. Sammy playing a little b-ball

I have a bunch of boy funnies to share, so I'll end with those! Have a great week and thanks for checking in!

Sammy often refers to me as Mommy Birdy. When he calls me that, I am supposed to refer to him back as Baby Birdy. He usually does this when he wants to snuggle. Which is often, and which I am not complaining about. I love that boy.

There are two mannequins in the hallway at Lifetime that Sammy has named Kooky-buncho and Kooky-bundo. He goes up and touches a hand and says, "Look at this guy! His name is Kooky-buncho!"

Speaking of Lifetime, when both boys go with me they sing the same silly song together as we walk to the childcare area. They sing super loud and think they are the funniest little boys alive. "WEEEE'RE OFFFFFF TOOOOO THE BUUUUUDDY!"

Sammy has such a creative little mind. The names he comes up with for people and things are so cute and funny. The other day in the car he decided he wanted to be called Superdog-Juicyman and that Elijah was Dr. Juicyman.

Sammy has also been referring to himself as Sarah lately. "I'm Sarah, Cowwy's mommy!" I ask if maybe he could be a daddy? "Nope! Sarah! Cow's MOM!" So now Elijah refers to himself as Lomey, Lamby's mommy.

We have a couple balls in our garage that Sam has devised a game with. He puts them over his head and lets them drop to the ground. That's it. Depending on which ball you're holding, the game is called either Bunky-ball or Bunchy-ball.

Dan got a little basketball hoop for our living room that the boys LOVE. I had no idea how much Elijah would like it. His face was seriously priceless when he got off the bus and saw it. Pure happiness and excitement.

Sammy says to me a lot, "Mommy! I need you!" I say back: "I need you, too, Sammy." This is usually another snuggling prompt, which I obviously adore.

Elijah still asks me to do "tickle time on the couch" with him. He likes for me to cradle him like a giant baby. His head lies on one of my arms and his legs go into my other arm. If I drop one of his legs, but puts it back. Then he says silly words and I respond with tickles. He CRAVES that one-on-one time. If I attempt to ask him anything that makes sense during tickle time, he looks at me like, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING. I love it. It's our little slice of quality time that we have each day.

Sammy has a new obsession that began during our summer road trip. Washing hands! If he sees a sink, his hands absolutely must be washed. I've never realized how many sinks there are in the world!

One of the games we allow the boys to play on our iPad is a states/countries game. After a few days of playing it, Elijah knows the exact location of every state. He knows their capitals, as well, and is freakishly good at seeing the outline of a state and labeling it. Now we're moving onto countries!

The boys still love to do Mommy (& Daddy) Mountains. At least once a day they ask for one. They take turns climbing up onto my back. The mommy mountain grows and runs a lap around the house and deposits them onto the couch. The boys who is not on the mountain chases the mountain around the house.

A few from Facebook..

E: Hey Mama, how are your pretty eyes goin' this morning?
Me: Uhh, they're just fine!
E: Nope, they're goin' hilarious!

Today's commentary, courtesy of Elijah:
Mom, you are as pretty as a whale...with a tiger's tail...that looks like a butterfly and the sun.
You are as pretty as a lamp...when it's turned on.

Dan must be coaching my boys. I came downstairs this morning and Elijah greeted me by saying, "Good MORNING, my beautiful queen!"

This morning: "Good morning, beautiful woman!"

And in great contrast to Elijah's "beautiful queen" comment, he told me tonight: Mom, you are as fluffy as a lamb, as shiny as a horse, as milky as a cow and as pretty as a.....DOORKNOB. Now that's beauty.

Friday, September 13, 2013

New friends

I used to take photos of the boys all the time. Lately, I take so many pics of other people that I honestly get a bit tired of seeing my camera. A few weeks ago on one of Dan's days off (and before school began), we went to a new park with the intent of getting Sammy and Elijah photos! Sammy is a bit challenging to photograph. He is way more camera-shy than our ham Elijah, so we have to use trickery. 

Week 2 of first grade is complete! This week Elijah has been telling us that his favorite part of the day is lunch. :) We've worried about lunch time a bit since he has a hard time still with opening wrappers/cartons, etc. Dan and I try to get every wrapper started for him before we put it in his lunch box. I asked him yesterday if he was needing help with opening wrappers and he said, "Yeah, sometimes. My friends help me." Thank you, Elijah's friends. :)

Speaking of friends, I've had a constant prayer for E to connect with a friend for....well, since he started school 3.5 years ago. It hasn't happened yet, but I remain hopeful. I asked him last night if he has a favorite friend at school yet. He gave me a name and talked giddily about this little boy. Tonight when I took Sammy and Elijah to the park, guess who was there?! The friend! Elijah was SO excited to see him. He approached him and the little boy said, "ELIJAH?! What are you doing here?!" Elijah introduced him to Sammy, which I thought was precious, then the little boy introduced E to his little sister. Then he became distracted by his sisters and grandpa, but I could tell Elijah wanted nothing but attention from him. When we got home, he sat down and immediately wrote his friend a letter.

Have you ever seen anything so precious? Please, God, let this friend accept him for the amazing little person he is.

Sammy and I were able to meet some friends at the Children's Museum today. We had so much fun! Sam's favorite thing was the bus. I was his passenger and he brought me to many different places. We have so much more flexibility this year since Elijah is in school all day. For the past few years, we've had to make it back home by 11:00 to get him off the bus. Now Sammy and I can stay out and party on our days together!

I have some funnies from both boys that I want to share, but I need to collect a few more tidbits. I also still owe you my last installment of our summer road trip. I'll squeeze it in one of these days, I promise! Praying you all have a good and safe weekend! Thanks for checking in.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Mission completion: first week of first grade

We will not know for certain how last week went until we chat with Elijah's teacher (I've been afraid to ask), but based on what E has told us he did pretty well! He is pretty good at being honest about bad behavior when he is away from us. It's almost like he feels compelled to confess, which is just fine with me!

What we have gathered is that he was told multiple times by his teacher to stop doing "blurt-outs." I didn't even have to ask about this, as I instantly knew what he meant. I witnessed a blurt-out when I attended his talent show for camp in July. After one boy's singing performance, Elijah broke the silence by yelling, "ROCK IT OUT, MAN!" Ok, it was super funny, but not necessarily appropriate. So I'm sure he thinks it's hilarious to do this sort of thing at school, as well.

He also confessed that he laughed a couple times when other kids were being naughty, which is something he does at home all the time. When Sammy is trying to get under our skin, Elijah will give him a subtle thumbs up and smile and very quietly say, "Cool! Good!" Seriously.

He seems to be really excited about music and art class. He is even doing ok so far with having homework, which is a little bit surprising.

We have been putting E to bed before 6:30 every night since mid-August, and it has been helping in the behavioral realm. We also removed (95% of the time) artificial sweeteners/dyes/preservatives and we have cut way back on his sugar intake. It's hard to know how much the food change has helped, but I'd like to think it helps a little bit. Sometimes we have to make exceptions to our rules because we have to live life!

Speaking of living life, the "life" that we lived in July and August has primed Elijah for first grade VERY well. I had been so worried about how last week was going to go and it turns out it was NOTHING compared to some of the behavior and tiredness I dealt with during our crazy summer travels. Last week was a piece of cake and I'm praying it continues to be that way!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Onto another week!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First day of first grade!

My oldest baby started first grade today! I can hardly believe it! I remember so clearly putting him on the bus for the first time, back when he was a tiny little three-year-old (Sammy's current age - crazy!). Now look at him! He's such a big boy. Both of my boys are growing up so fast.

Can you tell that we "forced" Sammy to pose in today's portion of the below photo? :) He was not at all happy about all of the attention we gave to Elijah this morning. While putting a lunch together for E, I looked over to see Sammy taking every single cereal box out of our pantry and throwing them all onto the kitchen floor. This was not normal Sammy behavior, so I knew he needed some love. Dan snuggled with him on the couch while I got E out the door.

I'll be honest. I was worried about today. Considering some of the behavioral issues we have been dealing with at home, I was expecting a phone call all day long. But my phone never rang. Elijah hopped off the bus this afternoon with a smile, and he looked as perky as ever. I can't know for certain, but I feel like today went well! He used the potty and he told me he was kind to everyone. He enjoyed punching in his meal code to get his milk at lunch (funny that this was a highlight) and he loved the note I left for him in his lunch box. :) He also enjoyed learning about drums in music. He is excited to start drumming, he says! I'm so excited about what this year will bring for him. One of my specific prayers is that he makes some friends.

I feel like our summer of absolute craziness has primed him for this first grade experience. First grade? That's nothing compared to what we experienced in our recent travels! As always, things unfold just as they are supposed to, right? 

Dan has been feeling good since his accident. His knee is still a little bit sore, but he has felt no other after-effects. Amazing! We have all felt super blessed this week. I have a hard time being away from him, which is a new thing. I chatted with a friend of ours from the dropzone who happened to be driving by "the scene" shortly after Dan's accident. He stopped to make sure Dan was ok. He said to me, "Megan, your family has been in my mind since Saturday. I can't believe how close you were to losing your dad and husband. Inches, Megan, inches."

I am getting ready for another season working at Midwest. It is the same freelance gig I did last year and I LOVE this job. The people are incredible and the work is rewarding. This will start in the next few weeks, which will be a fresh new season for us!

Thanks for checking in! I still have to wrap up the last installment of our big summer trip, which I'm hoping to do in the next week or so. I'll end with a photo of Dan on the side of an airport shuttle bus trailer that I saw while driving down the interstate last week. Pretty cool! I have a famous husband! :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013


On the way to the dropzone yesterday morning, Dan was in a car accident that has left all of us thanking God. He was on the interstate fifteen miles from the dropzone when a semi changed lanes and ran into the back left part of his car. Dan was in the middle lane and the semi was in the left lane. The semi and Little Red became "stuck" together, so the semi driver hit his brakes. At that point, Dan was sent into a 360-degree spin in front of the semi (!) and then headed toward the center ditch. He crashed directly into a hefty construction sign and his airbags were deployed. It is miraculous that the airbags worked at all, considering they were nearly 20 years old with no service ever having been done on them.

We drove by the scene afterward, and realized that the placement of that construction sign was divine. To the left of the sign was a cement construction median and to the right was open ditch. If he would have hit the cement median, he would have battled the semi. If he would have gone into the open ditch, he would have battled oncoming traffic. God was there. Angels were swarming.

Dan is fine, thankfully. He has a sore knee and a very mildly sore back. Actually, I don't know that his back is sore at all today, but it was just a little bit after the accident. Other than that, no issues. Little Red finished her life by saving her precious Dan. Now she is in the junk yard, which is super sad. She has kept us (but mostly Dan) safe for 378,000+ miles. Dan loved that car. We all loved her. Even the boys keep asking when we can see her again.

Yesterday was a day of processing for all of us. My main thought yesterday was--Dan is ok! Today has been different. Now I'm thinking--I could easily be without a husband! :( I hate that thought. I am just so grateful that he is here with us. Ever since the accident, I have not been able to stay away from him. I want to be next to him at all times. As I made the boys breakfast this morning, I began to cry because he was away from home (ok, this is definitely not a typical thing).

Ironically, one of the cars that stopped to see if Dan was ok right after the accident was a group of guys on their way to the dropzone to make their first skydive. Dan told them, "Getting to the dropzone is the dangerous part!" :)

I love my husband so much! I am so thankful that he is sitting next to me right now.

We are all feeling very thankful, blessed and grateful. Tell your loved ones that you love them every day. Spend time with them. Make them feel special and loved. You never know what the next day will bring!