Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rainbows and smileys

Hello! We are still alive! I have been immersing myself in personal projects, so I haven't made much time for this beloved blog. School for Elijah is going ok. He has "pretty good" days and some pretty rough ones still. At this point I am taking it one day at a time, trying very hard not to over-analyze or stress out. There seems to be absolutely no consistency with behavior/sleep patterns, which can make me crazy if I think about it too much. Sleep is still overall pretty rough, but we are continuing with the oils. Dan and I get by on so little sleep because we are basically awake for the day at 4:00 (sometimes earlier). I still have not heard back from Dr. M regarding another med recommendation. I haven't put a second call into him because I secretly don't want him to recommend anything else.

I feel like we've fallen into a good place during a rough stretch. Does that make sense? We have learned how to make the most of a sleepless/impatient/stressful time. We are doing fine. Tired, but fine. We have each other and tons of love and faith. Thank you so much for peeking in! It means so much to us!

I have saved up a few Sammy funnies from the past week..

Sam is so good at thinking through things ahead of time. There was a coloring sheet of a rainbow that he had colored at the club a couple times. The next time he was there, they were out of that particular sheet. So the next day at home he sat down with a black sharpie and drew the outline of a rainbow on a white piece of paper. Then he brought that "coloring sheet" with us to the club and colored it while he was there. I thought that was impressive!

Another thing he likes to do is take band-aids from the box, draw hearts or smiley faces or rainbows on them...and put them back in the box! He told me his drawings will make owies heal much faster. :)

Driving through the grocery store parking lot, Sammy said, "Mommy, go faster! Speed makes me come alive!"

Other Sammy quotes: "If you don't give me whatever I want, my heart will explode!"
"Will you do me a huge favor, Mommy? Will you please take away the whole world?"

He is constantly worried about things he does not need to be worrying about. I field at least 100 questions/day about "bad guys." He wants to know if bad guys were bad kids? Do bad guys watch us through our windows? Can good kids turn into bad guys? Can bad kids turn into good guys? What would I do if a bad guy tried to steal him? Could a bad guy get in our house through our windows? Where do bad guys live? What is prison like? What kinds of food do bad guys eat in jail? Are their beds comfortable? Seriously...and that is just one topic. Other topics of choice: tornadoes and car crashes.

Needless to say, our front door is ALWAYS locked. He asks me a bunch throughout the day, "Is our door locked?" and then runs to check it.

Sammy: What happens if my foot turns purple?
Me: Then your foot probably needs blood. 
S: What if it doesn't get blood?
Me: Then you could lose your foot. 
S: .......
Me: Having feet is important, right?
S: No-ight. (a new, creative version of "no-kay")
Me: Sammy, you are the funniest person I know.
S: You don't know me! I live in Russia.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy 8th birthday, Elijah Daniel!

Today was a strange, happy, tearful day. Little bouts of crying surprised me a handful of times when I would think about Elijah turning eight. On one hand, I feel like the past eight years have lasted 20 years. On the other hand, I can't believe our oldest boy is EIGHT!

This boy. His beautiful, smart, funny little self has transformed me into a kinder, more faithful and patient person. He has added a great deal of color, richness and depth to our family. Dan, Sammy and I love him to pieces. We would not be the same without him!

Happy 8th birthday, Elijah Daniel! You are a LOVED little person! I can't wait to experience many many MANY more years with you.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Waterpark Adventure 2015

I'm feeling a need to get this post done tonight because tomorrow I will be writing about a certain 8-year-old's birthday!

Our fifth annual waterpark trip was a smashing success. Dan and I both agreed that we managed our time better than ever before and we ALL enjoyed ourselves, even more than in past years. This was the first year that Sammy truly enjoyed himself. It was fun to see.

Here is the photo I take every year upon first entering the hotel/waterpark. The boys love to run to the windows to peek into the waterpark and get a glimpse of the "big bucket" and all of the action. This year we found that the windows had been frosted, so the boys had to peek through the cracks.

The first few minutes in our room are always SO EXCITING!!!!

Annual photo with Mama and boys in the top bunk!

Followed by....JUMPING ON THE BED! This year we talked Dan into joining us.

We spent an hour at the waterpark our first night. Both boys had a blast! Sammy willingly got into the water for the first time EVER!

I'm so proud of him. He stuck to a very specific area, but he went down the same slide about 100 times over the course of the weekend. Progress! A few times I tried to get him to extend his territory, but he resisted. I'll take it.

I always get photos of the post-waterpark bathers. It'll be so sad when they don't take baths together anymore! 

 I LOVE this cutie! Yikes, look at his tired mama..

Posing with the waterpark guys.

On our second day, Elijah literally RAN around the waterpark at full speed for hours on end. Dan and I could do nothing to get him to slow down, short of making him leave the place. Literally...he ran from the slides in the kiddie area to the big tube slide to the wave pool to the lazy river (with one of us following close behind)....repeat repeat repeat...without taking a breath. Toward the end of the day, Dan handed Elijah off to me and said, "Watch him!" I took one look at E and knew what he meant. He had worn himself out. He was totally exhausted and even felt sick to his stomach. He literally could hardly stand. I hadn't gotten many photos of him yet (and I always snap a few!), so I asked him to smile and pose since I knew these were our last moments there. After a dozen attempts, I got a smile..

Then he sat down in another area on the way out and after another dozen photos, I got another smile..

Then I realized I was being selfish and had Dan scoop him up and take him back to the hotel room. He was draped over Dan's shoulder like an exhausted baby! Poor guy. I got a partial smile..

We had dinner in our hotel room (a second-night tradition) and by that time Elijah was feeling much better. We headed down to the arcade for a bit of gaming fun! Both boys had a blast. Sammy keeps telling me that the 30 minutes we spent in that arcade were his favorite moments of the entire trip.

Elijah threw a ball into the teeny-tiny 1,000-point bucket in the tossing game (impossible feat), hence the celebrating..

Look! It's Sammy! Participating in games and not hiding behind a Pac-Man machine (yes, he really did that)!

We won BIG at Deal or No Deal! Hundreds of tickets, which earned us.. toy handcuffs (you can imagine how much we've loved THIS) and ring pops (which Sammy calls "Rain Pops").

A few more notable things about our adventure..

It was so much fun to watch Sammy (Elijah wasn't so interested in this) RUNNING through the hallways to get to the elevator, push the button and accomplish absolutely everything before his brother could.

I loved our family nap on our second day. It was a revitalizing intermission when Sammy watched a movie by himself while the rest of us slept like we were dead.

Trips to the ice machine! Who knew this could be sooo exciting?!

Elijah and I made a few trips down the "blue-tube-slide" together and WOW was it fast! I cannot believe how much that boy loves speed. It was a ton of fun, and each sliding experience was followed by a trip around the lazy river and then a jaunt in the wave pool.

Sammy insisted on wearing his goggles in his own Sammy way (of course). The straps folded his ears in half and hung at the bottom-back of his head. He swiped our hands away any time we tried to fix them and refused to take them off, even when they were completely fogged over.

As always, I LOVED our first hour in our hotel room. It was pure happiness and excitement for all of us. Elijah kept asking me, "Is this a dream?!" We all cherish this trip so much every year. On our way home, both boys whimpered constantly.. "I MISS OUR TRIP!" Me too, boys.. can't wait till next year!

Monday, February 16, 2015


We got home from our yearly family waterpark adventure today. WE ARE TIRED. Despite the tiredness, we had probably the most enjoyable/fruitful time ever. This is our fifth year in a row taking this trip.

I'll report MUCH more on this in the next few days! I have photos to edit and memories to sort through..

In the meantime, Dan is cooking me a belated Valentine's dinner that smells delicious! I thought I'd write a quick update regarding medication. Per Dr. M's suggestion, we gave E a super low dose of fluoxetine for three consecutive days last week. His sleep didn't seem to be affected much, but he woke up looking EXHAUSTED. The purple eyelids and droopy/constantly-blinking eyes returned. I had a bad feeling in my gut about it just a few hours in.

Almost immediately after the first dose, I noticed that E had three new tics - super intense eye-blinking, an upward chin jerk and a head jerk to the left followed by eyes shooting straight up (I have never seen any of these tics before starting meds). As the days went on, the tics became more frequent and behavior went downhill. Dan and I quickly made the decision to stop the medication. Dr. M is out of town until Thursday of this week, so at that point we will discuss other options.

He took the smallest dose possible (0.5 mL/day) for only three days and was adversely affected. I am hesitant to try anything else! We feel like we're in a tough spot right now with his anxiety. I'm also looking into finding him an excellent cognitive behavioral therapist. We are continuing with the essential oils, although I am still skeptical. It isn't hurting, so we will press on..

I have so much to share about our fifth annual waterpark adventure! I love my three men so much! Thanks for checking in..

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A week of newness

I feel like this past week has been packed with activity and new things. On Monday Elijah started back at school for the first time since mid-December (minus one day in January). He was sooooo super excited about going back. He was beginning to miss his teacher and friends. Things seem to be going well so far. His class went on a field trip today to a nature center. I went along and we had fun. It was freezing cold, but it was nice to do something different. Elijah did struggle a bit so I was glad I came along. All of the activity was hard for him to process, and the cold weather and all of the walking didn't help. It's good for him to push himself a bit in every capacity once in a while! I'm hoping he will sleep really well tonight.

I'll say this for the millionth time..his teacher is INCREDIBLE. She understood that I would not have resources to dedicate to other children, so I was not responsible for anyone except Elijah. This was super helpful, and I'll admit I almost didn't want to go on the field trip because of the traumatic field-tripping experiences from last year! The little girls in E's class LOVE him. It is so cute! There is one little girl who asked him to sit by her on both bus rides. She even snubbed one of her friends, grabbed onto E's hand and said, "Sorry, I'm sitting with Elijah!" They snuggled so cutely and closely (and innocently) that my heart almost melted. I chatted with this little girl a bit and she is just the sweetest thing. I thanked her for being so kind to Elijah and she said, "No problem. I like Elijah! He makes me smile." :)

E's teacher and I had a good chat on the bus ride to the nature center. I told her about recent developments and for the first time (maybe because we weren't sitting at a conference table with ten other people), I felt like she really understood. She just seemed to get it. She intimated that if we asked enough times, and articulated ourselves well enough, Elijah could probably get his very own aide. So I will start this process tomorrow. It would help him immensely to have someone with him at all times while at school.

On Monday I brought E to see Dr. M, his developmental pediatrician and one of the best doctors on the planet, in my opinion. He took tons of time with us and asked a lot of questions. He is another one of the GREATS who understands our boy through and through. He agreed with the recent thoughts of the new sleep doctor and thinks we should try anxiety meds. I always love the analogies he makes. He said that for Elijah, every little thing that happens is the straw that broke the camel's back. He heard my worries about E's sensitivities to meds, but urged us to at least consider it. As he said, if we can possibly find a good fit for him, it could muscle the weight of some of the other, many straws. So...Dr. M very carefully selected an anxiety med for E to try. Dan has been on board with trying something for a while, but I really wrestled with it. Starting yesterday we began giving him a super-duper small daily dose of fluoxetine. Now...we wait. Last night he slept better than we have EVER seen, but that could be just a fluke. Who ever knows?! Time will tell.

I brought Sammy to kindergarten registration last night! It is sooo hard to believe my sweet baby boy will be going to school next year. :( I was pleased and somewhat surprised that he entered the building willingly (by the way, he has stopped getting into the pool for swim lessons). He seemed excited about the idea of being in the same school as Elijah next year. We stopped in a few classrooms, one of them (the above pic) was the class I am really hoping he will be in next year. Elijah had Mrs. H in kindergarten and she is incredible!

I'll end with a few cute things..

A few weeks ago I decided that these boys need to earn their technology time. No more just handing it out willy nilly! Each boy needs to earn FIVE "chore points" in order to earn 15 minutes of technology (iPad is usually their pick). Chore points can be earned by feeding the fish, taking out garbage/recycling, getting completely dressed with no help or complaining, helping with meals, cleaning up toys, etc. I've never had such a clean house! Elijah is even willing to dust our entire TV stand for a chore point. Win-win! Sammy is Mr. Helper lately with meals. He wants to help prepare all meals and he fills up his and Elijah's plates with food and brings them to the table with pride.

Any time I ask Sam, "Okay, Sammy?" he will say, "NO-kay," if he does not agree. :)

There's so much more, but my brain is tired! More later!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cavities be gone

Sammy and I had a "date" this morning. We went to the dentist! Super fun! He was very afraid and I worried he would do what I did when I was his age...refuse to open his mouth. Yes, I did this and I ended up in the hospital to have a tiny cavity filled. Thankfully Sammy was not quite as extreme as his mama. He was the bravest little boy. He cooperated 100% and pushed through some big fears. I was so proud of him! He was proud, too. The cavity is gone and will NOT come back as long as he is under my roof! :)

Elijah and Dan also had a dentist date this afternoon to remove a cavity and that didn't go quite as smoothly. He has legitimate fears about "the mask," which is just laughing gas but to him it is the same mask he sees right before surgery. Dan said he was anxious throughout the entire visit, so they turned up the gas to help calm him down. The extra gas made him tired and grumpy, understandably. He just about fell asleep during story time, which never happens...not even on the really tired days.

Elijah showed signs of sickness today, which has me on croup alert. We gave him a tiny dose of preventative steroids, rubbed some oils on his feet and he was OUT. Speaking of oils, we are still experimenting. His sleep patterns are different, but he still doesn't ever seem entirely rested. He has been sleeping until after 5:00 every morning (wow!), but he still has nights when he is awake for long stretches in the middle of the night. The 5:00 wake-up times are pretty nice, though! I am still learning about essential oils and what each one does. I am skeptical, but I remain hopeful that we can find a good recipe that actually helps him. Stranger things have happened!

I took E to see a new sleep doctor a few weeks ago. This doctor is INCREDIBLE. I put Dr. R in the same group as the rest of the excellent doctors we have. We talked for an entire hour and at the end of the visit he gave one of the most perfect descriptions of Elijah that I've ever heard. I appreciate top-notch doctors immensely! His conclusion: We are doing everything POSSIBLE to get Elijah rest. There really is nothing more we can do as his parents aside from getting his anxiety under control. He suggested trying an anxiety med, just like Dr. M has been suggesting for the past year. I have not been in favor of the idea only because of E's super sensitivity to ANY medication. At this point, though, I am willing to give it a try. We have an appointment with Dr. M next week, so we'll address anxiety with him. Our sweet boy is constantly anxious, even when he is lying in his comfy bed with his heavy blanket draped over him in his dark bedroom that smells so good. We just have to relieve some of that  anxiety for him. As Dr. R said, every little thing we do for him helps by tiny increments. We need something that is going to help him in a big way so that he can function and sleep! Please pray with us about this. Medication is a big step and I feel uneasy (yet hopeful) about it.

Homebound instruction has gone pretty well. Elijah generally has done so much better with his tutors (who were AMAZING) than he does with me. He had a few rough sessions, but most of them were productive overall. He will return to school on Monday. He is super excited about going back. We are praying so hard that there will be a positive change in behavior and overall experience at school!

As I said in my last post, I have begun trying to embrace everything we face, no matter what, instead of fighting. Difficulties have shaped me into a better person and that is more clear than ever right now. I can feel all of us being molded into better humans every day.

I'll end with a letter one of Elijah's classmates wrote to him this week. Could anything possibly be any sweeter? :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Warmly hugging challenges

I have sat down a few times in the past few days to write a post, but it just hasn't felt right. Anything that is going on in our lives, good or otherwise, seems so insignificant when I think of my friend whose heart is aching because she wants to hold her son again. One thing Isaac's passing has taught me is that there are so many things I obsess about that either really don't matter or that cannot be changed. Worrying about the things that aren't going MY way is pointless! I have made an effort in the past week to truly appreciate every day and moment, even if it is challenging. I envision myself wrapping my arms around whatever challenge I am facing and smiling at it and even thanking it.

It still feels wrong to talk about anything that is going on in our lives. It's too soon. We are good. We have each other, we are all healthy, we have a warm home, comfy beds and food in the pantry. I really couldn't ask for more than that.

More later!