Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas! We wish you all the best and thank you for being here. We had a great day filled with games, snuggling, playing, present-opening and a bit of sickness. This progression of photos will show you how Sammy has been feeling. Tonight he went to bed with a bit of a fever. We are hoping for healing tonight because we are leaving for vacation in the morning. Enjoy the faces..

Despite the sickness, we had a great day. Dan and I increased Elijah's med dosage a few days ago and we have already seen an improvement in behavior. He has been sick AND he slept only 6 hours last night and despite all of that his behavior was impressive today.

I was trying to get Sammy to bed early tonight because he was not feeling well and he was being defiant. Elijah, without prompting, saw my distress and grabbed Sammy's favorite toy and brought it over to us. "Sammy!" he said, "I'm bringing this upstairs, so you should come, too!" It worked. I was grateful because Sammy went to bed without dispute and Elijah helped...and without any prompting! After Sammy was in bed, Elijah asked if his prompting had helped. YES! Dan and I were super impressed with the forethought.

Our "big" gift for the boys this year was a little drum set. Elijah has impeccable rhythm and I have always had visions of him being a drummer at our church. :) Both boys had fun playing with the drums today. Elijah asked for exact timing, so I found a metronome app that helped him stick with a rhythm.

Right away in the morning we are heading to Illiniois. Sunday we will head to Indiana, where we will spend five wonderful days with my family in a rental home. We are so excited! Thanks for peeking in!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Merry Crazy Christmas!

We received our family photos that Hope Kids took for us this past fall. Look at these handsome boys!

We have had a bit of a crazy past week. Both boys have been sick on and off. Two nights ago Sammy was borderline for a croup episode. It was minor enough not to report on here officially. :) After a very brief and semi-unnecessary steamy bathroom stint, he grabbed his favorite blankies from his bed and said, "Well?! Are you going to help me with these, or what?" "OH! You're coming to bed with me??" And yes, he came to bed with me. It was wonderful because I LOVE having him close to me, but I typically do not let our boys in our bed. Sammy is a restless sleeper, so we didn't sleep much after that. It was worth it, though.

Ever since, he has had his typical lingering croupy cough. For the past few days, Elijah has had some random ailments, too. Tummy pains, headaches, sore throat, random aches....and today he woke up at 2am FOR THE DAY. When I saw him this morning I actually gasped. I have NEVER seen such tired and bloodshot eyes on my oldest boy. NEVER. And that is saying a lot. It was a rough day. I'm grateful today was timed well. We have a BIG agenda ahead of us and I want to be sure our boys are feeling good for the days ahead.

This holiday season has been so crazy, but we remain grateful and feel so blessed. Merry Christmas to all of you! Thanks for checking in. xo

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

One man's good days trigger another man's rough ones???

Elijah has had a GREAT past couple days. When he gets off the bus I can instantly see whether he is doing well or not. His spunky, bright-eyed spunkiness has been back this week. Which somehow has cued Sammy to bring out the sass. Tonight was ROUGH with our sweet little Sammy. It began when he got onto my computer without asking. I kindly told him that he couldn't use it and he defiantly unplugged it, stuck it under his arm and started marching downstairs while saying, "I'll do what I WANT!" Uhhh...I don't think so, sir! After telling him that he'd be having a little visit with Daddy for the defiance, he went back upstairs to write out a slew of Mommy hate mail on scrap paper. When Dan got home Sam got a little spank on the bum for all of the above, which sent him into a tailspin. Sammy informed us that he was running away from home and tearfully broke the news to Elijah. He then begged me to help him prepare to run away. "If you're going to be on your own, you may as well learn to do things for yourself!" I told him. He did not like this, so after 30+ minutes of whining and crying he let us know that he had changed his mind. He apologized and required THREE sets of snuggles before bed because he felt so bad. That strong will of his! In a way, I love that he has it but goodness he can be a little stinker!

Elijah's sweet friend A came over tonight and I witnessed one of the SWEETEST moments I've ever seen in my life. His friend loves Pokemon (just like E!) and recently had her entire collection stolen. Tonight while she was here I happened to find Elijah's old book that was empty because he had upgraded to a bigger one. I pulled him aside and suggested that he give his old one to A since hers had been stolen. I didn't push it and wanted him to do it on his own if it was on his heart. A little while later he approached her and I heard him say, "Um, my name is written on this book, but I'd really like for you to have it to put Pokemon cards in if you'd like. I'd love it if you had this! Do you think you want it?" She said, "Elijah! This is the NICEST thing anyone has ever done for me! THANK YOU! This is so sweet!" My heart melted into a puddle from the other room. They are such a great team and I'm so grateful for the connection they have.

A quick funny before I forget.. The other night we were driving somewhere and we were on a street that had a ton of Christmas lights strung through trees. I heard Sammy whisper under his breath from the back seat, "Thank you, Jesus, for putting this here." :)

Good news! Today was my LAST day (possibly ever) working in Cannon Falls! They have been sooo good to me and I have verrrrrrrrrrrrrry affordably acquired tons of home decor and good paychecks from them, but this also means more time working on my own projects and more time at home.

We are wrapping up our week before Christmas break begins! The boys are SO excited for Christmas and everything surrounding it. We have tons of fun stuff coming up! Have a great rest of your week!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Feed My Starving Potty Talk

Tonight we joined some folks from Dan's work at Feed My Starving Children. We worked hard for an hour and our group packed 18,000 meals, which is enough to feed 51 kids for an entire year! WOW! This is something we never would have done "before" (i.e., before meds). Staying up till 8:00? No way! The boys were TIRED when we got home, but it was so worth it. The boys worked HARD! Elijah's favorite task was weighing the bags of food and determining if they were an appropriate weight. Sammy was a good bag sorter, but really enjoyed the scooping. Elijah said such an awesome prayer on our drive home for the kids who will be receiving this food. He truly seemed to understand the depth of what we did. The rest of the way home he kept saying, "We helped lots of kids! We are keeping kids alive!" Good lesson!

We've experienced some rougher days again, so I'm going to call Dr. M in the morning and possibly increase med dosage by just a bit. Potty talk and inappropriate talking in general has been OUT OF @#$% CONTROL lately. We have cracked down at home and no longer tolerate even an OUNCE of inappropriateness. If we let even a few words fly, things are suddenly spiraling out of control. This has been an issue at school, as well, and we got our first "rough day" email from E's case manager this week. :(

Sammy, by the way, is no innocent bystander in the potty talk escapades. He's quite the instigator and has no problem fibbing when he gets caught, but only at home. He is also a super hard worker and aside from being an incredible budding artist, he also creates homework for himself almost every day. The other day he decided to sit down and write out numbers starting at 1 and going up to 200. He went to 217 just because that extra mile was so enticing. Over-achiever. :)

Elijah really wanted to get an Elf on the Shelf this year. I think he's heard about it at school and wanted in on the fun. When we explained the concept to Sammy, he was mortified! It was hilarious! He very seriously told us that he would NOT allow this crazy elf into our house because he might...gasp....STEAL OR DESTROY HIS TOYS! He loves his things. And his people. He is a loyal kiddo. He also hates change and has recently been able to express this very thing. We did a major loft clean-up/organization last weekend and when I asked Sam if he liked it he said, "NO. I don't. Because I HATE change." At least he knows this about himself!

One last non-funny funny and then I'm heading to bed. I mentioned the inappropriate words that have been bouncing around the walls in our lives? Earlier in the week I got an email from E's case manager saying that Elijah had been trying to bribe his classmates to say inappropriate things along with him and he was using fake money THAT HE HAD CREATED HIMSELF to do so. WHAT?! We had lots of talks and the following few days were much better, thankfully. Part of me is proud that he was able to think through this escapade, but the potty words are driving me batty!

I'm off to bed! I have just a few more days of work in Cannon Falls and I'm hoping to be sane in the end. :) Have a great rest of your week!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thanksgiving Weekend 2015!

What happened to the past week?! We had such a nice Thanksgiving weekend. The food and company were wonderful. We invited Elijah's bud over the Friday after Thanksgiving and it was so much fun to have her here with us. We did our traditional Christmas tree shopping and spent the rest of the day decorating it, along with the rest of our house.

Oh no, we're the Griswolds. :)

Fish lips!

Elijah of course remembered that Sammy put the star on the tree last year, so he got to do it this year.

Dan and I have been wanting to clean out our HORRENDOUS storage closet for literally years. On Friday as we were decorating, we just decided to start. It became a HUGE ordeal and our house was a complete mess while we sorted through tons of junk. After a couple days of work, storage looks amazing!

The boys have had a good week at school and Dan and I have been working and doing the weekday routine. I'm still working in Cannon Falls and will be there for another week or two. Once I'm done, I will probably be done for good which is both good and sad. It has been such a blessing of a job, but this season is coming to an end.

Because I know I'll want this information next year, we learned that it takes THREE WEEKS for the trauma of daylight savings to wane for Elijah. After three solid weeks, he started waking up at 5:00 instead of 3-4:00. Post daylight savings has brought some rougher days, but overall things are still soooo much better. "Rough" days now cannot be compared to "rough" days a year ago. We constantly see so many areas where great progress has been made. Especially on the rougher days, I remind myself constantly of the progress. One of the big things that we have noticed at home and at school is that he now shows remorse! He still has such a hard time stopping certain behaviors in the moment, but after they have happened he feels bad. This is good! He will now approach whoever he has wronged and apologize on his own (without prompting), which is always followed by, "I feel bad!" This is such huge huge progress!

Potty issues are also so much better. We still have a ways to go, but the progress has been amazing! I still attribute so much of the positive things we've seen in the past few months to medication. He is still taking 18mg of Strattera/day for his anxiety and we are so happy with it!

I can't remember if I mentioned this or not on here, but in the past few weeks Elijah has complained a handful of times about chest pain on the right side of his chest. It lasts for a few minutes and seems pretty intense and the last time it happened it was followed by a headache. That last time I grew concerned and called Dr. G (cardiologist). Based on what I told him, he thought it was unlikely that it has anything to do with his heart. If it happens again, he'd like for us to make sure his heart is beating at a normal rate. If it's not, we'll bring him in. It hasn't happened for almost two weeks, but I scheduled an appointment to get him checked out by his pediatrician just to be on the safe side. That appointment is tomorrow morning.

Ok, some fun things to end with..

The boys have both settled on what they would like their future professions to be. :) Sammy wants to be an art teacher (he'd be a great one!) and Elijah wants to own and operate a bakery! They talk about this all the time and it's so cute. Elijah always says that he will give free donuts to his immediate family, but everyone else has to pay. :) Sammy is already planning lessons for his art students (he wants to teach elementary kids and wants the students to call him Mr. Sammy).

Sammy is SO thoughtful and responsible. Sometimes I cannot even believe the thought he puts into things. Tonight he colored a birthday card for Dan (whose bday is on Saturday) and then hid the card under his little art desk in the loft. When I put him to bed he told me that he made sure to put all of the markers away because if he left them out, Dan might figure out that he had been making a card and then the surprise would be ruined. Sometimes I think he is soooo intelligent beyond his years. He tries to keep up with his brother on so many things and I know he listens in on our homework sessions, but I was so impressed the other day when he wrote the following (without help) on a piece of paper: 100+100=200   200+200=400   400+400=800  His reading has improved by leaps and BOUNDS! His writing, too. He has such a strong little will at times (I have sooo many stories I could share), but I know this will be in his favor one day.

There is so much more I could say. I need to post more often! Signing off for now! Have a great rest of your week.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New friends and MUCH to be thankful for!

The past week has FLOWN by! Holy cow! We have been working, schooling and everything in between. Over the weekend we had our sweet niece Alyssa over, did some baking, cooking and made it to small group. For the past week we all have been PRAYING that Elijah would survive being at small group with us (going to bed past 8pm). He struggled a little bit that night, but he did GREAT on the days that followed. Our prayers were answered!

On Saturday morning we went to a Hope Kids event at the Mall of America that we've gone to for the past few years...Cookies with Santa! The boys had a blast, as always. They made cookies, cards, ornaments and played video games, skee-ball and air hockey (Elijah is SO good at air hockey, we discovered!). They even got to sit on Santa's lap and tell him what they want for Christmas and thankfully their requests were reasonable.

I was able to spend the afternoon with Sammy in his class for Parents' Day today. We had fun! I love spending time with him in his classroom. He is such a good friend and student. Doesn't he look great in his turkey leg hat?? :)

There is a little boy in Sammy's class who he LOVES....and who loves him back. It is so sweet. This little boy reminds me a lot of Elijah. He just needs a little extra love and I am always so wanting to give it to him. R, Sammy and I make a good team. R hung out with us today and we had a great time together. At the end of the day Sammy and I got ready to grab Elijah from his classroom. R did NOT want us to leave. :( He kept hugging Sammy and saying, "Please don't leave!!!! Who is going to take care of me?!" It was sweet/sad. I believe Sammy is so patient with him because of his experience with Elijah. I LOVE that Sammy is such a kind and patient boy and that he is such a loyal friend!

Since it is a special holiday weekend night, we let the boys watch old-school Charlie Brown while munching on popcorn. They were in Heaven! Elijah even played the part of a pilgrim. :)

Speaking of friends, Elijah has a friend at school that he has been talking about ALL year. He has said things to me like, "Mommy, A is SOO nice to me. She is my best friend. She always makes me feel special." Well, coincidentally, we discovered that A's mom works with Dan! What a crazy coincidence! We had A over last Friday for pizza-movie night. The boys loved having her here. She is such a sweet and kind girl and it is obvious how much she loves Elijah (and vice versa). Today their class earned an afternoon party (allowing electronics), so A took this super-cute selfie of her and E with her cell phone. LOVE!!!

We are so excited that A and her mama will be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow! Both boys are beyond excited!

We have so much to be thankful for! We pray that YOU do, as well. Thanks for peeking in. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tears and happiness

For the past two years we haven't known exactly how much Daylight Savings has impacted Elijah's sleep because everything else was totally chaotic. It was impossible to pinpoint the main pieces of the puzzle because we were basically existing in the middle of a tornado. Now that things are much calmer, we have been able to see that Daylight Savings wreaks havoc on our early bird. That one teeny tiny hour of change sends our oldest boy into a tailspin. We have seen wake-up times between 1:30 and 4:30 for the past few weeks. Today he slept until 4:46 and I practically did cartwheels around the house! We will find our way back to a better place slowly. 

Last Friday Dan and I went to the boys' school to watch Elijah and the rest of the third graders do a Veterans' Day performance. Honestly, it made me sad and I wish we could redo it. Right away I could see that Elijah was upset. His teacher told me that he was nervous, but I know my boy and I could see that something specific was bothering him. I noticed that every kid was holding a flag...except for him. I knew he was upset about this. I frantically looked around for an extra flag that I could grab and bring to him, but I couldn't see anything. Aside from interrupting the music teacher, I didn't know what else to do. I stood and watched my boy cry through the entire performance. :( He stood so still with his arms folded in front of him, occasionally reaching up to wipe tears from his face and not doing a single action or singing a single word. I have been beating myself up, thinking I should have done something! I don't know what, but I should have been able to make him happy! The good news is that when it was his class' turn to come down in front and do a dance, Elijah participated! He didn't just participate...he did GREAT! He did all the actions! That turned things around for him (and for me). 

On Saturday we were so lucky to be able to spend time with my cousin's cutie pie. The boys were BEYOND excited to have Veda over! She is such a sweet girl and they all play so well together. The three of them played "Inside Out" and created some Play-Doh animals and then we headed to see the new Peanuts movie. It was such a fun day!

And on Sunday, thanks to Hope Kids, we were able to watch a live Timberwolves game! KG is back! I worked at Timberwolves games years ago, so I felt right at home. It was fun to watch the boys take everything in.

My silly boys with their pants pulled up just a tad too high! :)

Yesterday after the Twolves game, our boys were TIRED. Sammy was being especially sassy in the car and started doing some uncharacteristic whining that lasted for way too long. I said, "Sammy, can we please stop the whining?" He whined back to me in the longest, most drawn out voice: "WHINING IS WORTH IT!" Dan, Elijah and I exploded in laughter.

The boys got Operation Christmas Child boxes at church on Sunday, so today after school we picked up some goodies to put inside the boxes. I LOVED watching them get so excited about blessing kids who are less fortunate. I let them pick out what to put in the boxes (with some direction) and they took such pride and were genuinely so excited about making other kids happy. Tomorrow they will write letters to the kids and we will drop off the boxes together so they can experience the entire process. I love that they are old enough to appreciate and understand the concept of giving!

We have noticed some definite self-awareness in Elijah lately that is good...and bad. He is starting to see how other kids see him and he doesn't like it. He tells us all the time, "Everyone thinks I'm dumb." It kills me. We do our best to assure him that he is so super smart. That he is SUCH a good boy and so loved and liked by so many people. Even though this hurts my heart, it is also good. It's good that he is starting to look outside himself a bit. This will be a process for him, but we are here to love him and help him through it.

Both boys got their report cards today! Sammy's report was excellent. He is doing so well in kindergarten. We are so proud of him. Elijah's report was great, too! We are proud of how far he has come in the past year (heck, the past almost nine years!) and we see every "little" success as a very huge thing. Instead of getting hung up on current challenges, we see the progress and it encourages us and makes us so happy. There is SO much progress being made these days and we see every bit of it. We see it all, Elijah!

Thanks for checking in! Hoping you all have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Good-bye, Croup! Hello, chores!

Dan was traveling for work over the weekend, so the boys and I hung out. Sammy's croup from last week lingered and he just could not shake it. By Sunday night it was almost worse than it was last Wednesday! His breathing was super tight, even after Pulmicort and Albuterol nebs. I went in to check on him before I went to sleep and at rest his breathing was strained. Ugh. If Dan would have been here, I would have taken him to the ER. With Dan gone I knew I couldn't do that without waking Elijah up. I tried all of our tricks and they collectively helped enough to get through the night. I put his wiggle-worm body into bed with me and got NO sleep, but I liked being able to hear his breathing as he slept. I was so thankful when morning arrived. I called right away and got him in to see a doctor. The dr gave him a huge oral dose of decadron (steroid) to wipe it out. It helped, but very slowly. Even today, he still sounds a little bit tight. That nasty croup loves to linger in his little body!

Waiting for the doctor...again..

Ever since Daylight Savings, Elijah has been struggling a little bit extra. It is slowly getting better. He is gradually waking up later in the morning (4:30ish now, yay!) and by evening he is SO TIRED. He will even say things like, " TIRED." He has NEVER claimed tiredness before. I've also noticed that right before bed strange things begin happening to his body. He gets headaches and he also gets scratchy, jittery and antsy. Tonight he had some weird pains in his chest (this one always freaks me out), he felt dizzy and his head got super scratchy. I laid down on the floor with him for a bit and just hugged him before we got ready for bed. I cannot imagine how he must feel. I know it feels different than what most of us feel. While I was lying on the floor with him, he said, "Mom? Am I dumb?" I assured him that he is so super duper smart. He said that when he makes bad decisions at school, he is sure the other kids think he is dumb. This is perhaps the first time he has been aware of others noticing certain behaviors of his. I told my sweet boy that he is kind and so smart and that anyone who thinks he is anything but that is not worth spending time with. Some people will never understand (that applies to all of us!) and that is ok.

We started a new chore system where the boys can earn money by helping out around the house. I included a few things that they are struggling with like, um, LISTENING! They can earn $0.25 just by obeying after the first request! Elijah wants to earn $9.99 to buy a book at next week's book fair, so he is motivated! It is nice to have a motivated boy around here. Shoes are being put away, coats are being hung, recycling is being carried to the garage and dishes are being brought to the counter. These boys have gotten out of control with their potty talk, so hopefully this new plan will help that, as well.

It hasn't been the greatest of weeks, but thinking back to last year at this time....things are GREAT! After school today I got 45 minutes of quality snuggles from BOTH boys...with NO boy fights! It was heavenly. Elijah has a new behavioral aide who will be coming by our home a few hours/week. We are all super excited about this! We have some fun plans coming up these next few weekends. The boys are getting excited for the holidays. It is so much fun to see their excitement and to have energy to enjoy things this year.

Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Croup: Season 6, Episode 1 (Samson)

You can't make this stuff up, people. Sammy came into our room verrrry early this morning barking like a wounded seal. At first I thought it was a part of my dream and I couldn't make out what the sound was. Usually Elijah's stridor comes with frantic screaming, so it was unique hearing a calm but stressed breathing. Dan sat in a steamy bathroom with him for 20 minutes and it got a little bit better. He came to bed with us (post-croup protocol) and we did NOT sleep for the remainder of the night. But at least I could monitor his breathing. I stayed home with him again today because the stridor just did not leave and he looked pale and tired. We gave him oral steroids before bed tonight and we are praying for a peaceful night!

He made himself a little fort today and tucked himself into it, feet sticking out. He said in his deep growly voice, "I'm resting, Mom.....I could stay in here for HOURS." :)

We watched a bit of tv today, but did a ton of art projects, as well. This boy is an artist! He loves painting and drawing and coloring and even creating his own fonts ("fancy letters"). He is so creative and takes pride in his work. I love it!

A few funny things he said to me very early this morning..

Before he got sick, he ran out of his bedroom a few times and into ours. When I told him to go back to bed he said, "Yeah...I do keep running back to my bed. You know why?" "Why, Sam." "Because it's UN-COZY out here."

After the croup-shower treatment, he laid in bed with me and tried to talk except his voice was super scratchy. He said, "Oh no! My body isn't letting my voice work!" .....long pause and some thinking.... "MOM! What if I don't know the sign language for a word and also can't SAY the word to you?! What will I do!?!?"

A silver lining from staying home with Sammy today was that I had time to organize and clean! I dominated our kitchen! :) I reorganized a handful of our dreadful cupboards and threw tons of unnecessary stuff away. (If you're wondering if this photo is a before or after shot, it's AFTER!)

I also made a delicious soup in the crockpot, washed and put away every dish and article of clothing in our home, cleaned out our fridge and wrote up a detailed dinner menu for the following week. I also wrote a list on our white board of every item of food in our freezer and fridge and which ones should be used sooner rather than later. A day of progress!

NOT along those same lines, Elijah has had a really tough past couple of days both at home and at school. We are seeing glimpses of last year and while it is frustrating and difficult, we understand it now. Daylight savings is always KILLER for him (so much worse for the early early birds) and we also gave him a few doses of steroids during and after croup this week (which always makes him extra edgy). Tonight was rough and I remembered just how difficult EVERYTHING can be when a single force is working completely against me. Literally the second he stepped off the bus today, the aura of the day totally changed. We are praying for a restful night of sleep tonight and for things to fall back into a more peaceful place.

Thanks for peeking in! Pray with us for PORTA PEACE! :) And peace for all of you, of course, as well!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Croup: Season 8, Episode 1 (Elijah)

I did not see last night's croup episode coming AT ALL, which is rare for me. Elijah was showing a few tiny signs of sickness yesterday, but I was so consumed with Sammy's strep that I didn't give croup a single thought. He woke up around midnight gasping and I knew he needed an epi neb asap. We got him downstairs and thankfully we were able to find the neb quickly since we haven't had to use it in so long. He was scared and was borderline panicking, which always makes things so much worse. I tried my hardest to appear calm so he would calm down. We turned on a show and let the racemic epi do its thing. When it was done he still had stridor, but it was manageable. We gave him a dose of oral steroids and I brought him to bed with me for a few hours so I could listen to his breathing. I loved that he kept reaching for me and wanting me to wrap my arms around him. :) After a few hours, Dan brought him back to bed and the rest of the night was uneventful. He was up extra early, thank you, Daylight Savings. This will happen for at least the next week.

I kept both boys home from school today, Sammy because of strep and Elijah because of after effects of croup. Despite not having slept much and having steroids in his body (usually these make him super irritable), we had a pretty awesome day! Both boys weren't at full capacity, but feeling good enough to play a bit and snuggle a lot. We barely got out of our pajamas today and took advantage of sickness-related technology privileges. :) Dan and I have implemented a no-technology rule on all school days, so today was an exception!

I'm wondering if the germs that infiltrated their bodies conspired with our boys because their dual day of sickness coincided with a very important day. As I walked bleary-eyed out of my bedroom this morning, this is the sign Elijah held in front of me.

I said, "Oh, how exciting!!" and then told him that I wasn't going to just go buy it. So he and Sammy grabbed their wallets and pooled the money and gift cards (thanks, Grammie and Gramps!) that they've been saving and presented me with enough money to cover a dvd purchase. So being the nice mom that I am, I went to Target at 8:00 this morning and bought their beloved dvd so my sweet sickies could enjoy it today. They were soooo happy.

They are both doing much better tonight and I plan to send them to school in the morning. Phew, another sickness under our belts! Getting on with our week now. Thanks for peeking in!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween 2015 and an update

I was hoping that we got sickness out of the way for a bit, but it has invaded our home again. Yesterday Sammy had a fever and sore throat so we kept him home from school today. As the day went on I noticed he was swallowing more and more gingerly, so I took him to the doctor right before the clinic closed. Thank goodness I did because he has strep! We got Elijah tested, too, and he's in the clear for now. Sammy and I will have another day tomorrow of chillin' at home. Not that I ever wish for my boy to be sick, but I LOVED our time together today. 

I'm so glad the sickness struck after Halloween! The boys had such a blast dressing up and going trick-or-treating. I don't know if I have ever seen Sammy so excited and happy. He was bouncing off the walls, even before the sugar entered his body. :) Sammy decided to do his own thing with his pumpkin this year and I love it. He even carved most of it by himself!

Sammy and Elijah dressed up as Fear and Anger from Inside Out. They love that movie SO MUCH and have been so excited to personify these cute little guys. My talented mom knitted Sammy's sweater vest. Isn't it perfect?! I think they both looked so darn cute.

We went trick-or-treating at a nearby mall and the boys got TONS of candy and had fun hanging out with a couple of their awesome cousins. In standard fashion, our organized Sam came home and immediately began counting his loot in perfectly straight rows. 54 pieces (or something like that)!

Elijah isn't quite as organized with his candy, but he of course still enjoyed it!

Our boys are so different in just about every way. Dan and I always know not to touch a single piece of Sammy's candy stash because he will know immediately that something is amiss. Elijah gets excited about acquiring candy and enjoys eating it, but not to the degree that Sammy does and without so much forethought and organization. IF...we "steal" candy at all, it is from Elijah's stash because usually by the next day it is off his radar. :)

Aside from Sammy's sickness, we have had a great past few days. We are still adjusting to things in this new life of ours with Dan working "normal" hours and with Elijah being able to handle so much more than ever before. For literally the first time since before I got pregnant with Elijah, we feel like we have room to breathe. We are able to go above and beyond with some things, which is actually probably just "normal" for most people. We have scraped by for so long and it feels good being in the place we're at. I have been printing and hanging pictures on walls, keeping up with laundry, reading books, keeping up with Elijah's homework and so much more. Life is good!

Speaking of Elijah and homework, he is doing so much better with it this year. I sit down with him every weekday after school that he doesn't have therapy. His teacher told me to JUST have him do 2 problems per section so we don't overwhelm him and that is going well. I usually hear a few BOOORRRINNNNGs, but not much more than that. Last year and the year before, something that took 45 minutes and with MUCH more complaining now takes 10 minutes. Tonight he sat down with me and wrote five sentences by himself without a single complaint. Last year he never ever ever would have done that. He is so smart. Math clicks quickly in his brain and we all know that reading has always come so naturally for him. He told me the other day that science is a new interest!

I need to write more updates because I could go on and on. Working in Cannon Falls for this season doesn't allow me quite as much time to do that, but I need to write down more about daily life with these awesome boys. They are still so little and funny and sweet. They still enjoy being with me and holding my hand and snuggling with me and I love it. I soak it up every single day and enjoy every single moment.

Thanks for checking in and reading to the end. :) Have a great night!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

School updates and boy funnies

I don't have anything specific or huge to report. We have had a mostly good past couple days. The weekend was nice since none of us were sick! We went to see a movie at the cheap theater and we cleaned (exciting!), went to church and to the club and hung out at home. Elijah's sleep has been good and bad and as always, the challenging periods come in spurts and they are usually related to potty issues. I received a heartbreaking call from his teacher today. A few kids in his class conspired and put a HIT ME sign on his back. :( Another kid stood up for him and told the other kids to take it off. It sounds like it was a fairly big ordeal. Parents were called and kids were talked to. I talked to Elijah about it very gently and he seemed sad about what had happened. Other than that and a few minor things here and there, things at school are going well for him. I am constantly reminding myself how far we have come and how much progress Elijah has made! It's pretty amazing, actually. I tell BOTH of my boys how proud I am of them all the time and I think it confuses Elijah to hear that because it has become so ingrained in him that he makes bad decisions (scars from the past two school years). I constantly try to remind him how much he has learned and about the good decisions he makes now.

Sammy is doing great in kindergarten! His sweet teacher has told us that he is very patient and kind and a hard worker and good friend. His handwriting and reading have improved SO MUCH since school began! He could read maybe 15 words starting the school year and now he can read at least 50. He will actually come home from school and create work sheets for himself and complete them. He has his first class field trip on Thursday and I'm so excited that I'll be able to go with him! Last week he got invited to a birthday party for a little boy in his class and it broke my heart when Elijah read the invitation and excitedly said, "Can we go, Mom?!" :( Sammy was able to go to the party and he had a blast. Such a blast that he woke me up at 3:00 the next morning to tell me that he wanted to go back. Seriously. Elijah was upset that he wasn't able to go along, but we arranged a Daddy-Elijah date during that same time and they had a great time.

I'll end with some boy funnies that I've been collecting. Thanks for checking in!

One night Sammy didn't want to eat dinner and kept trying to get Dan to take bites of his food so he would need to eat less and still get dessert. Sammy grabbed a name tag that was lying on the table near him and that Dan had worn at a recent conference and that had his name on it. Sam turned to me, held up the name tag and said, "Send this guy over here!"

After getting mad at me because I ONLY got Sammy a cookie at Subway and not a cookie AND chips he said, "You are NOT my favorite person." I quickly reminded him that we always need to be grateful for every little thing and he was silent for a few minutes. Then he whispered into my ear, "The word 'not' was actually supposed to be silent. I meant to say that you ARE my favorite person."

After giving Elijah after-school snuggles today as I do every day (usually upon his request) he said, "You're the greatest woman in the world. You're like a little good person!" :)

Dan: Elijah, if you had to pick ONE of the following which would you choose...the biggest lollipop ever OR a giant pool of chocolate?
Elijah: Hmmmmmm....wellllll....normally I'd choose both. (long pause) But if I had to pick one...hmmmm.....I'll pick the pool of chocolate.

Sammy's bedtime prayer one night last week: Dear Jesus, thank you for this day. Thank you for Earth. Thank you for life. Thank you for my faaaaaavorite person in this family, whoooo iiiiizzzz.......(long dramatic pause) sweetest brother Elijah. Amen.

Sammy (calling from bed): Mommy! My toenail is rubbing on my sheets. Will you clip it?
Me (wielding clippers): Ok, which one is it?
Sammy: Foot ONE! Toe ONE!
Me: Would that be right foot, big toe?
Sammy: You got it, clipper woman!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

House of Sickness

Ugh! What a miserable past few days we have had. Elijah caught a bug that he had Saturday and Sunday. Mine came Sunday and Monday. Then it was Sammy's turn and now Dan is down. Poor Sam threw up in a garbage can at school yesterday. :( Thankfully (??) I was home sick so I was able to get to him quickly. We spent yesterday being miserable together, watching movies and dozing in and out of sleep on my bed. Today we all seem to be on the mend. All of our bugs lasted about 36 hours and all of us had some sort of tummy issues along with fatigue and no appetite. Elijah had a fever with his, but none of the rest of us got that thankfully.

Aside from that, not much has been going on here! Today I stayed home with Sam again and we have been catching up on laundry, washing all of our germy sheets, getting caught up on Elijah's MA paperwork and I just put a batch of applesauce in the crockpot! We are heading out for OT in a bit and I wanted to write a few words before the evening got ahold of me. Hopefully my next update will be packed with good things. :) Hope you all are having a great week!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cardiology check-up and IEP meeting

The past week has been FULL and filled with great news! On Friday we took Elijah to his 6-month cardiology check-up. Instinctively I knew everything would be good and that turned out to be the case! His heart function and pressures are the same as they were six months ago, which is pretty incredible. For the past 2.5 years not a whole lot has changed with his heart even despite him continuing to grow. Dr. G told us to keep doing what we're doing and to come back in six months. One of these years Elijah is going to need a heart cath, but it's impossible to know exactly when (we thought it would need to happen almost 2 years ago!). And after that, he'll need another open heart surgery but we will have to play that by ear, as well.

Our second bit of GREAT news comes from E's IEP meeting today! I know. I have never used the word "great" to describe an IEP meeting. It sounds like the same positive changes we have seen at home in the past few months are being seen at school, as well. Every person who spoke in the meeting today talked of significant positive changes from last year. His two main struggles are blurting out inappropriately and staying on task while completing school work, but compared to last year he is doing SO much better in both areas. I told his team today that for the first time in TWO YEARS, we are not just scraping by. We all have extra energy for things in the "other" category, which feels sooo good. For the past few years, anything "extra" that came home in his backpack (extracurricular opportunities, fundraisers, etc) went straight in the trash can after a loud "HA!" escaped my mouth. This year some of those things are actually feasible! It feels amazing and we are so incredibly thankful for the changes and the way this medication helps his brain. It felt good to sit down and chat with Elijah's excellent educators and not be totally sleep-deprived and edgy and anxious. It was a relaxed meeting and we were able to discuss how to help Elijah above and beyond just getting him through each day. The main objectives in this year's IEP are improving his social skills, helping him to be more self-aware and to get him to advocate for himself when appropriate. He is actually making strides in these areas already, which is awesome!

To go along with the more-than-scraping-by theme, Dan and I have pushed ourselves in some areas, as well. After technically being a part of a small group at church for two years and NEVER going to a single gathering, we finally went to one on Sunday night. We got a babysitter to come put Elijah to bed (since we still can't skimp in that area quite yet) and brought Sammy with us so he could play with some of his sweet friends from Sunday school. On the drive home he said, "Mommy, this was the best day EVER. I love Hayden's house sooo much." Dan and I felt a good connection with the group and we are excited to get more involved.

This is my second week working in Cannon Falls and it's going fine. The mornings are EARLY, but I have to be home by 3:00 for the bus so it's a short day. It's good to have the extra money (Christmas $$!) and I love the people I work with. The boys have the rest of the week off school, so they'll be going to daycare for a couple days (pray this goes well).

Here's to many more great weeks! Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Our presidential candidate

Due to our accumulating tiredness, we barely did a thing last weekend. We tried to catch up on sleep, but didn't get very far. For the past few nights, after multiple days of hugely cutting back on his sugar intake, Elijah has been sleeping better and later. I, however, am now getting up before 6:00 to get to work by 7:00! I'll be working in Cannon Falls 4 days/week for the next couple months. Dan will have to man the morning fort and get the boys on the bus before heading to work. I will be home in the afternoon to get them off and I'll man the late afternoon/evening routine! 

Last Thursday night Elijah told me that he was running for third grade student council and that he was doing so THE FOLLOWING DAY. We scrambled to get a poster partially made and I sent him to school hoping he'd follow through. After a little bit of encouragement from his teacher, he stood up in front of his class and gave a speech! We are so proud! His teacher said that he did GREAT. He didn't win, but he did receive a few votes! Yay Elijah!

For almost a week now, Elijah has been taking 18mg of Strattera (a slight increase from 15mg) and I think it's a great dose for him. Overall, his behavior and attitude have been great! There are still specific issues that we're constantly working on, but we are so happy with this medication. His days at school have been mostly positive, as well. His case manager has described at least three of his days in the past week as being "AMAZING." Last year at this time, nothing was amazing.

Sammy is doing great in kindergarten. I imagine he's probably the perfect little student. I have gone into his class to volunteer a couple times and he is so cute and sweet and kind. I love it!

That is all for now! Gotta work so I can get to sleep early. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Corn Maze 2015

Finally, corn maze photos! And an update of our week at the end of the post.

As always, the boys had so much fun at the corn maze this year. Elijah remembered that he was the driver last year, so the boys switched spots.

Playing on the train, even though Elijah is WAY too big for it. We let him get on anyway.

The corn pit! Sammy was more comfortable playing in the corn this year than ever before. Look at these two handsome boys!

I love getting into the corn with the boys and I always find kernels in our house for months after. In fact, I found a kernel from LAST year in July's laundry this year. :)

The hay bale maze is one of Elijah's favorite things, but Sammy just so-so likes it. He ran through once and was done.

Elijah, on the other hand, ran through the maze at least 5 times. He has always loved it, even as a really little guy.

Brothers posing with the giant hay fireman.

The parakeet house was a favorite again this year. Both boys seemed scared of the birds, but they came around. Sammy sure loves animals.

Elijah stared down this cow for a long time. "Wow, you are a really gigantic and funny-looking cow!" he said repeatedly. :)

After much coaxing, Sammy fed the...uhh, what are these animals? He thought they were going to nibble his fingers off.

I love these handsome boys!

Finding our way through the BIG maze!

I love this beautiful face!

Handsome boys..

This week has produced a TIRED Mama and a TIRED Elijah. We have given Elijah a little too much sugar (there's such a fine line), which has caused some very early morning potty issues. When he is awakened at 3:00-4:00am, he does not go back to sleep. When I am awakened at 3:00-4:00am, I do not go back to sleep. Today we totally cut out sugar and will do so for the next few days to get things back on track. Homework tonight was painful...more difficult than it's been so far this year. :( We are praying for a much better night of sleep tonight. My red, tired eyes are screaming for sleep!

Earlier in the week, Sammy's attitude was sour and he seemed distant. I have made an extra effort to give him one-on-one time and things were better today. Each night after Elijah goes to bed, we sit on the floor in our living room and play a few games of Mastermind. He is SO smart and is getting so good at this game. It is such a special time for us to spend together and I think he cherishes it, too. I love my Sammy! He is my precious, smart and wonderful boy!

That's all for now! More later. Thanks for checking in!