Tuesday, December 30, 2014

TC is back.

We have been sooo lucky for the past few years in the realm of acquiring coughs. When Elijah was a baby, actually until he was 4 or so, he pretty much had a terrible cough through every winter. Tons of sleep was lost due to those darn coughs and they never seemed to want to go away. I remember considering The Cough to be an honorary member of our family, as it had a life of its own and never wanted to leave. There were stretches of time when I would sleep in our closet because that was the only place in our house where coughing couldn't be heard. Since Christmas break began, TC is back in our house in a way that he hasn't been in years. Since Elijah's croup episodes last week, he's been coughing like crazy. It has gradually become looser and it has disturbed his sleep less with each passing night. Sammy's cough started two days ago and has been getting worse. We brought him to the doctor today and the poor boy has bronchitis. He sounds awful!

In one sense it's been frustrating because I really wanted Elijah to get caught up over this two-week break. But on the other hand, THANK GOODNESS he hasn't been in school while this sickness ran through him. He'd be a double mess! At one point today Elijah was red-eyed and stumbling around and Dan said, "He is running on fumes....no, not even fumes. I don't know WHAT he's running on." He is so depleted still, but we have cleared our schedules for the next five days. We have nothing planned but rest and early bedtimes!

That's all we've got for now. Aside from the coughs and sickness, we have been enjoying spending tons of time together and napping and eating and playing games and reading books. I love my boys! Please pray for our sweet Sammy to HEAL!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas! We had an INCREDIBLE day in our house, lounging and napping and playing games and reading books and watching Christmas movies. It was one of the most enjoyable Christmases I can remember, despite Elijah being sick. :( He got a second round of croup two nights ago and since  has been trying to cough his lungs out. Just tonight his cough became super tight, although not wheezy (there's a difference). Dan is currently out trying to find a store open that sells Vics so we can rub that on his chest. We gave him a dose of cough medicine and an albuterol/pulimicort neb (we haven't had to do this in years), but none of these seem to be helping him much. Please pray with us for healing for his body!

Onto the important stuff....Christmas! We had a memorable celebration with Dan's family last night on Christmas Eve. Elijah was a tired mess by the end of the night, but both boys had a blast opening presents and eating cookies (Sammy was doing his best to do more bargaining) and playing with cousins. We were awake for a lot of the night trying to ease E's cough, so we were all tired this morning. But Santa still came and we had a very memorable and awesome day. We are so blessed and thankful for everything and everyone we have in our lives.

Our boys just before leaving for Christmas Eve service..

As always, Elijah was up before the birds this morning. Dan and I pleaded with him to lie down in the loft (so he wouldn't wake Sammy up) yet not peek downstairs (so he wouldn't get a pre-glimpse of Santa's surprises). When "awake time" came, the boys were sooo happy to run downstairs!

Elijah has been wanting the board game Trouble for months, so he was SO EXCITED to unwrap it!

Sammy got Sorry!, which he was indifferent about. He was indifferent about a lot of things today. We are finding that if we expect him to be happy or excited about something...he acts very unexcited.

Oh my gosh, the loot!

Elijah picked out a Pluto stuffed animal for Sammy and it was his FAVORITE gift. He hugged it like this for a long time.

Dan and I spent the past three nights putting the boys' BIG gift together. A Lego Movie spaceship! Once the boys had opened all their gifts, we asked them to face me and close their eyes while Dan brought in the exciting stuff. :)

SURPRISE! Have you ever seen happier faces?

We started our morning with a GRATEFUL prayer (that Elijah spoke eloquently). THINGS definitely occupied our day, but we had greater purpose today. We are grateful for Jesus and the gift that HE brings this time of year. We hope you all had a wonderful day, as well! Thanks for checking in. xo

Monday, December 22, 2014

Croup: Season 7, Episode 3 (Elijah)....and Christmas excitement!

Elijah had a mild case of croup last night at 10:00ish. After ten minutes in a steamy bathroom and ten minutes outside, he came to bed with me (no neb needed, yay!). I don't think Dan will ever understand my need for bringing him to bed, but it puts my mama mind at ease. The rest of the night was ok, with some coughing. Today was a little rough since sleep was not ideal last night. We gave him oral steroids during his episode (and again tonight before bed), which pretty much guarantees terrible sleep. I have been praying so hard that we can get him back to baseline during this two-week winter break, but things are not looking promising at this point. 

We have started re-introducing technology back into our lives. We are going to see how the week goes. I'm convinced Sammy is a college professor somewhere in his spare time, coaching people on manipulation and bargaining. He got us to agree to eating FOUR peas tonight (he despises vegetables) in order to get a few bites of dessert. After we agreed to the four peas, he looked at Dan and said, "Ok, four!" as he held up two fingers. Seriously!

Today Dan and I decided to each take a boy and have separate "date days" with our boys. It was a Sammy-Mama day and an Elijah-Daddy day. Sammy and I ran a few last-minute Christmas errands and then had lunch at his establishment of choice - Applebee's. During lunch, I learned that Sammy wants to be a "firefighter daddy" when he grows up. I explained that firefighters need to be strong and therefore eat their vegetables. Also that he will first need a wife if he wants to be a daddy. He told me that he wants to have FOUR boys and have a "pretty and nice" wife. :)

The boys are LOVING the Christmas season this year more than ever! It is so much fun. I got presents wrapped last night and they ooo-ed and aahhh-ed over the gifts that sat "under the tree" this morning. Ohhh dear...our tree. This year we got the prettiest, biggest, fullest tree we have ever had before. It is beautiful! About a week into having it as a part of our family, Dan and I started commenting on how much water this thing could drink! "I filled it up twice today!" "Me too!" A few days later our house had a unique scent. Our tree stand had a crack in the bottom, we found, and we had been pouring gallons and gallons of water straight into our carpet! GROSS! We got a new stand and all is well now for our pretty tree, minus the lingering wetness and smell. We have air fresheners, fans and towels all over our downstairs. So our presents aren't technically under our tree yet. 

We are super excited about the next few days! When we said our bedtime prayers tonight, I was so happy to hear Sammy say, "I'm so happy for Jesus!" We try very hard to keep that at the forefront amidst this totally crazy time of year. It seems impossible sometimes, doesn't it?

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! Thank you so much for checking in!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The runaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sass-quatch and fun photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This next photo is titled We Are the Griswolds!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Like bbq sauce

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

Monday, December 1, 2014

Meeting in Room 103

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

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

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

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

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

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