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!