Saturday, May 28, 2011

Date Forty-Two: Volunteer Together

For date forty-two, we decided to spend the weekend volunteering together. Camp Eagle, the camp that we worked at when we were engaged, was hosting an Outdoor Pursuit Weekend. People from all over came out to camp overnight, fish, participate in archery contests, skeet shooting, and other hunting activities. They also had hay rides and a bonfire and a barbecue dinner complete with bluegrass music. Darren drove the tractor for the hayrides while I helped with some of the administrative details. We had a great time working together for a wonderful purpose.

If you are looking for a great place to send your kids this summer, be sure to check out Camp Eagle!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fifteen Months Old

I can't believe my baby is 15 months old! And she is BUSY! Running everywhere and getting into everything, she keeps me chasing her. She enjoys the pool and playing outside. Swinging is one of her favorite things. She keeps us laughing with her dancing and funny antics. She is quite the rotten mischeivious little stinker. In speech therapy, she has been working on her body parts. They ask her where her nose is, and she has gotten too frustrated with trying to remember which is her nose, so she just swipes her hand over her entire face and laughs. And what do you do with that?!

Brooklyn is quite affectionate. She gives the biggest, best hugs ever. She also bestows wet kisses on everyone. This month, she learned to blow a kiss as well.

She continues to be a good eater. She can finally drink without having to have her liquids thickened, which has made life easier. She is down to one nap per day, but it is usually a long one. She sleeps 12 hours at night.

She isn't talking, and may be traveling to a large research hospital this summer to do some tests to try to figure out why. She did learn the sign for "more" this month and uses it well.

We sure are enjoying loving on this toddler! She is such a blessing to us.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hold On To Your Hats

Oh my, what a busy few weeks we've had! I thought about doing separate posts for everything, but I'm in summer school now and its intense, so I've lost a bit of my free time to ramble on here. You're welcome.

Savannah celebrated her summer birthday at school last week. Now, let me just tell you that its a bit confusing for a preschooler to celebrate turning 4 approximately three months in advance. But nevertheless, I told her that the school was celebrating her birthday, and that I would make her anything she wanted to take as a treat for her classmates. She wanted to go to Kroger and buy storebought sugar cookies. That's just wrong.

There have been other random happenings in our house. Like this huge turtle that showed up on Sunday morning in the backyard. Darren was going to take Savannah down to see it, and I warned him not to let her get close in case it bites. He came back with the following picture. Pretty sure he failed at following directions, but it is a cool photo. Now, if only I could teach that kid to be more ladylike...

We've also been spending some time at the pool. And I swear that Brooklyn has been around for all of these activities, even if she isn't as camera-ready as her sister. Savannah is a brown little indian child already. I wish I had her skin! And can I just add that swimmies today are way better than they used to be? Pink and ruffled? Yes, please!

We are never short on silly moments around our house either.

Another thing we don't run out of is hospital bills. Darren broke his ankle and has been laid up on the couch all week. Its been a trial for our marriage, ahem. Its very difficult to have two small children and a large husband who can't walk! Nevertheless, we will survive. And he will heal soon. I hope.

Savannah graduated from 3-year-old preschool yesterday. I can't believe that day has already come. Didn't I just drop her off? I wonder if I will feel the time has gone just that fast when she graduates high school?

There was some happy singing...

And then there was some boredom. What can you do? At any rate, we are proud of her. Even if she did pick her nose during the program.

And oh, have I mentioned lately how much I love to use coupons? Yesterday, I went to CVS and saved almost $23 using coupons + sales. I paid $7-something for all of the following things, whoohoo!

Sigh. Now I know why I'm so tired lately. I've done all of those things within the past week. Oh well, it is a short season of life... to be enjoyed with many cups of coffee. And now I'm off to finish studying before going to the gym, taking Savannah to her last swim lesson, and then taking pictures as my kiddo crosses the stage at the Cubbies award ceremony tonight. Aaaand we're off!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Home Again!

This sweet girl had her tubes placed in her ears this morning.
She had to rise and shine at 4:40am.

But she actually did very well with both procedures (she had a brain response test also) and was out of there in record time.

They told us in order to send her home, she needed to eat and drink. We all know this girl has noooo problem with that.

She'll be taking it easy the rest of the day, but things went better than we expected.

Thanks for praying for Brooklyn!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Prayers Appreciated - Please and Thank You.

This sweet face goes to the hospital in about five hours for ear surgery and some extensive brain response testing. Prayers are appreciated!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Motherhood is Messy.

This week, I was supposed to log on to my summer courses and introduce myself, with a brief description of my life. As all of my classmates posted about their awesome jobs in the military, or the Pentagon, or for the FBI... I was trying to figure out how to describe my life. I finally posted up something lame like Hi, my name is Lauren and I stay at home with my two young kids and I enjoy exercising and baking and reading, and I look forward to learning with you all. But then I thought that seemed so... insufficient. Here is what I should have said.
Motherhood is so messy. If you walked in my house today, you would notice...
... that while it is clean...ish... there are hallmarks of children everywhere. Handprints on windows (and walls!), art on the fridge, a smattering of toys in random locations, sippy cups drying in the sink, and mismatched flip flops flung off by the back door...right next to the backpack in the floor...where it shouldn't be.
You would also notice that at 2:53 pm, I'm eating lunch while paying bills in a rare moment of quiet. And I'm about to squeeze in a few phone interviews while there is no background of Elmo and "MOM! Mom! Mommy! Momma! Lauren!" Next to me, on my desk, you would see a bouquet of pink baby roses that my sweet girl picked out for me in Kroger last night and came home shouting "Happy Mothers' Day!" even though that day is long past. You would also see a pair of broken sunglasses, smashed by chubby baby hands. And a few books of a political nature that I've yet to crack open for next week's summer courses.
You wouldn't see an ipod anywhere, because I'm pretty sure it was misplaced by someone pretending it was a cell phone. And there is a colony of ants feeding on toddler crumbs under the dining room table (where do they come from so instantly?!). You would notice that "Going on a Bear Hunt" and "If You Give a Moose a Muffin" are on the couch, because we've only read them 734 times since Saturday, when we checked them out from the library.
You would notice that while I completed the Ironman (26.2 miles running, 112 biking, and 1.2 swimming), I still have the signature baby pooch from carrying two little humans within me. I quit kidding myself that it would go away quite some time ago. You would probably notice a smudge of snot on my shoulder from comforting a baby's boo-boo, and see a small streak of mascara under one eye where I got the sniffles in the car after hearing a song about making memories with your daughter. And there might be a chance that I look tired.
Motherhood is messy.
In spite of all of those things, you would probably also notice the myriad of pictures plastered to the walls, and the preschool progress report on proud display. You would see a sweet homemade candle holder with daisies painted on using fingerprints, and if you stuck around long enough, when naptime was over... you'd see me greeted with huge smiles and bear hugs and "Mommy, what are we doin' next?!" You would probably hear some sort of singing and tons of giggles. Dinner would be served on plasticware. There would be games played, kisses given, and bedtime prayers.
Motherhood is messy, but I wouldn't trade it for any other job in the entire world. Not even the freakin' Pentagon. I'm so thankful for these silly monkeys that let me have the greatest. job. ever.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hair is Overrated

My pawpaw was recently diagnosed with Stage IV Transitional Cell Carcinoma. He is a fighter, and he started chemo last week. So, it was time for a haircut.
I think he rocks the bald look. He will probably be a chick magnet in the Cancer Center.
He didn't want to be alone though, so Darren "sacrificed" with him.
He looks like it was really hard for him to let his hair go, doesn't he?
Bottom line? Hair is overrated.

So take that, cancer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Date Forty-One: Bedroom Re-do

Darren doesn't really think of redecorating as a date. And maybe its not typical. But, we needed some extended time without the kiddos to paint our bedroom. And how else do you get a big block of time without toddlers running through your paint pans?
We've lived in our house for almost three years and never gotten to really decorate our room. I think I just concentrated on everything else because very few guests actually care what your bedrooms look like. Anyhow, this weekend, I decided the white walls had to go, and talked Darren into going to dinner, shopping for a new comforter, and then painting our bedroom. It took us about 8 hours, start to complete finish (stripping down the room, dinner out, target shopping, paint picking-out, painting, and putting furniture back). We were tired when it was over... but now it looks fantastic! I'm thankful for a husband who is willing to paint on a date. :)

What do you think?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Strawberry Festival

This past weekend found us at the Strawberry Festival. I'd heard so much hype about this event, that quite frankly, I was disappointed. The chocolate-covered strawberries were good, but the shortcake was really a biscuit... and I wasn't overly impressed. Also, the kid zone was more like 3 games. Lucky for us, we were in the company of great friends, and the kids were none the wiser about the lack of entertainment. After dining on a yummy mexican lunch at Alejandros, we returned home full of good memories. And that, my friends, is what life is all about.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Day in the Life...

Someone asked me the other day, "What does being a mom of a special-needs child look like? What do you do differently? What do you watch out for?"

I thought I would try to summarize in a blog post, but that will probably be difficult. I like to talk, and summaries aren't my strong points. ;)

As most everyone knows, Brooklyn has seizures fairly often (1 every 6-8 weeks). As a result, we have to always be prepared for an emergency. She has a syringe preloaded with an injection that we can use to stop a seizure that we carry in her diaper bag. She also has one I keep in her room. Anyone that keeps Brooklyn has to know how to use that. We also know how to check for breathing issues and her pulse, etc (most people know to do that anyway, I hope!). Her doctors are all programmed into my cell phone and know Brooklyn's case pretty well. I have the number memorized to page a doctor on call at the hospital. And blood doesn't gross me out anymore.

One thing I've had to learn, that doesn't come easy for me, is that nothing can be a set plan when you have a special-needs child. If Brooklyn has a seizure, everything for the day gets dropped and rearranged. She usually has to go to the pediatrician or the hospital for a neurological exam following a seizure. Sometimes she has to have testing done afterward. I am a planner, and as petty as it sounds, it is really hard for me to live life knowing that it all can change in the blink of an eye. For example, the last time that Brooklyn had a seizure, I had her out with me running errands. She was in the shopping cart while I was looking for summer shorts. She went limp, unconscious, and bit her tongue. Blood went everywhere (your mouth bleeds a lot, even if it isn't serious) and people started staring. A nice lady went and got me paper towels. About the time I got all of the blood cleaned up, Brooklyn threw up all over the floor, and then fell into a deep sleep fairly instantly (seizures make you very tired). In 5 minutes, the day had gone from shopping and running errands to driving to the hospital, jeans spotted with blood and puke stains, while having the physician on call paged. They have a flag on Brooklyn's chart that she is a seizure patient, so she is taken right back when we arrive at the hospital, and the security guard parks my car. How quickly a few minutes can change everything. And all of this for a mom who doesn't even like to have to white-out things in my daily planner. ;)

Another thing that I've had to do with Brooklyn is make a notebook of her complete medical history, phone numbers of doctors, instructions to administer an injection, copies of insurance cards, etc. This way, if she is ever away from me and has an emergency, her caregiver has everything he/she needs to communicate her special needs to medical personnel. It is also helpful when she is sick after a seizure and crying to just be able to hand her history over to the physician on call and let them read through it.

Brooklyn also has a special tag on her car seat in case of an accident that alerts paramedics to her special medical conditions in case I am unable to explain.

Since Brooklyn is unable to drink liquids at a normal consistency, I take her cup with her places with thickened liquids in it. It helps her to swallow them without aspirating.

Those are the major things. There are also minor things, like watching for her left-sided weakness and correcting it when she is sitting incorrectly, etc. I am a physical therapist in training. ;) When she is playing in the floor, and she tucks her left leg out to her side, everyone else thinks she is just sitting sideways. I know that her left side muscles are weaker and she is using that leg to prop herself up. So, I tell her to "fix your leg" and move it back out to normal position.

There are other small things too. Since she is having trouble hearing, I make sure she is looking at me when I say something, and I use gestures whenever possible. When she does make noises on her own, we cheer and make a big production out of it so that it will encourage her to do it more. She still has a little trouble sitting in the bathtub, so we have a sticky mat on the floor and someone has to keep their hands on her so that she doesn't slip.

I have file folders of her progress in speech and PT, and talk with her therapists and doctors frequently.

Any mom would do these things for her children, anytime. That is what makes us mothers.
I've been blessed to be on this journey with other moms as well, and have drawn inspiration from their strength.

Another thing that special-needs moms have to worry about is their other children and their reactions to the whole situation. I never want Savannah to feel neglected because she doesn't need as much attention, the therapy, the doctors visits, etc. She is every bit as important to me.

Being the mom of a special-needs child isn't easy. That being said, I've been so blessed to see what a fighter that little girl is. She has to work so much harder at everything, but she does it. She doesn't have a lazy bone in her body. And the accomplishments are so sweet, because they are fought for. And she is doing remarkably well. Doctors didn't expect her to be walking already or to progress so much in PT. Her speech still lags behind by almost a year, but she has surgery scheduled at the end of this month that may speed that up a bit. We shall see. But even with all of Brooklyn's adjustments, I wouldn't trade her for the most perfect, normally developed child in the world. Because to me, she is perfect. She is just on her own little timetable. And she always has been.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Daddy-Daughter Date Night

Darren and Savannah went on a date a few weeks ago. They went out to Camp Eagle for Hillbilly Date Night. They played relay contests, ate country fried chicken, rode a hay ride, and flat-footed. It was a smashing success. And somehow I forgot to post their photo. Cutest hillbillies ever? I think so. ;)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Best Mom Ever

I never knew the joys and mysteries of motherhood until I was blessed with my own two sweet girls, so I never fully realized that I had the best mom in the world.

Always there with advice (wanted or unwanted), hugs, a positive attitude, time, or a listening ear, God knew she is exactly what I need. Darren still teases me to this day... "How many times did you talk to your mom today? Only five?"

My favorite memories of my mom are the mornings I spent getting ready for school growing up. We had two bathrooms in my childhood home, and the girls got ready in the upstairs bathroom. Sharing makeup, hearts, and laughter, those were some of my favorite times. To this day, I still either call her or text her while I'm putting on my makeup most mornings because my bathroom feels too lonely without shuffling around each other and fighting over the curling iron.

Always sacrificing, she has never missed a special occasion or memory. She taught me that motherhood is never selfish and always strong and forever cherished.

Now that I have two girls of my own, I've enjoyed watching my mom grow into the new role of "Mimi" to Savannah and Brooklyn. Forever spoiling, babysitting, giggling, and scheming, I know my girls will have many cherished memories with her as well.

I hope I'm just like her when I "grow up." But in the meantime, I sure am lucky to call her "Mom."

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Rootin' Tootin' Good Time

Savannah had Western Round-Up Day at school this week.

She didn't want to be a cowgirl. She wanted to be a princess. I somehow convinced her that she is a cowgirl princess.

When we got to school, the teachers lined the halls saying "Yee-haw! Howdy boys and girls! Ready for a rootin' tootin' good time?"

They spent the entire day outside riding ponies, milking cows, testing out their lasso skills, riding on a hay ride, eating pizza, and more.

Savannah had so much fun! We love her preschool!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kendra Lee Zepp

Today, I start Lamaze classes. And I'm not pregnant.

I never thought I'd be someone else's labor coach.

But my stepsister is having a baby. A beautiful baby girl.

And I'm so excited for her!

I can't wait to meet Kendra Lee Zepp!

And I know that Becca will be a rockstar mom.

So hurry up July 27!