Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My worst Christmas present

The week before Christmas, Jacob came home from school one day and acted like he just didn't feel well.  He didn't eat dinner and just laid around the house.

The next morning he also acted like he was sick, but he had no other symptoms - no fever, no congestion, no cough.  As the morning dragged on I had just about decided that I needed to let his teachers know he wouldn't be at school when he perked up and wanted to eat and acted like his old self so I sent him on to school.

Once the twins woke up from their naps, Jeremy was running a fever but Joel was fine.  By the way - let me just say that it is awful when one of the kids are sick, but Joel is well.  That kid is seriously the most obnoxious kid to the sick ones - all they want is to be left alone and all he wants is to jump all over them and bug them.
Poor, sick Jeremy
Jacob came home from school and still seemed fine but meanwhile I was starting to not feel so great and Jeremy definitely didn't feel well.  We had lots to do over the next couple days to get ready to head up to DFW for Christmas and I didn't have any energy.  I kept feeling feverish, but my temperature never got over 100.

We had a rough time getting everything ready to go out of town because Jeremy was sick and I felt a bit awful as well, but luckily we only left an hour or so later than we would have preferred to head up to Grandma and Grandpa Mac's to spend Christmas.

Over the next few days everyone else was well, but I felt miserable.  I had a low-grade fever, nauseated, and just felt yucky.  I would take ibuprofen which would help me feel a bit better and I felt like I could function, but then I would feel awful again and crash on the couch for a while.  We had ordered tickets in advance for movies and a train ride so I couldn't let money go to waste and just rest at home.

Things that happened while I was sick:
Shared my drink with Jacob
Rode The North Pole Express
Saw The Hobbit with Justin
Went to church with everyone
Trip to Costco

Christmas Eve morning I still had a low-grade fever and felt pretty miserable so I took myself to an urgent care clinic.  There was a long wait but when I was finally seen the doctor was convinced I had the flu and did a nasal schwab to test.  I was convinced I didn't have the flu because my temperature never got much over 100 and when I took ibuprofen I felt hungry and well enough to go out and do things.

The doctor was right - I tested positive for flu.  Merry Christmas to me.  I was going around spreading my germs all over the DFW area (but I tried to be careful by using hand sanitizer, coughing into my shoulder instead of my hands, etc.).

I was basically sick until after New Year's since I got a ear infection after having the flu.  But no one else in my family got sick (my younger sister got sick sometime after Christmas, but she didn't have the flu so I'm pretty certain she didn't get sick from me).

I saw a news clip a few weeks later talking about the difference between having a cold and having the flu.  They said that the way you know you have the flu is that you physically can't get out of bed or really function.  Should I assume that I'm just amazing, or that I had a mild case of the flu?  

Let's go with amazing.

Monday, April 15, 2013

North Pole Express

We took the kids to ride the North Pole Express close to where my parents live the Saturday before Christmas.  Both Grandma and Grandpa Mac went with us which was very much appreciated because I was not feeling very well.

The kids weren't all that thrilled with the train ride and didn't want to stay in their seats at all.  It was very helpful to have them outnumbered.  
Jeremy's head in the bottom corner as he is trying to get away from Grandpa Mac
There was a performance before the train ride which was ok - none of the boys really cared about it.  But outside the performance area they had all these ride-on toys and Jacob loved it both before and after our train ride.
He always chose one of the Thomas toys to ride
We did get to see Santa on the train - but the boys didn't really care.
Grandpa Mac and Jacob with Santa
Joel and Jeremy are not so interested in seeing Santa
After our train ride we let Jacob have a pony ride.  I think that this was Jacob's very favorite part.  And also Grandpa Mac's favorite part.

So happy!

Off to a wedding and an unexpected relaxing weekend

Justin's sister, Sara, got engaged this past summer and set a wedding date for December.  She really wanted us to bring the kids and we didn't have anyone to leave the kids with so, completely and totally not happy about it, we planned to take the boys with us.

As the weekend of the wedding approached, it became very clear to us how difficult it would be to drag the kids to the wedding festivities.  Our kids are very schedule oriented and have a lot of trouble handling much change.  They also go to bed early and are pretty terrible to be around if we try to keep them up late.    Thanksgiving was hard enough with them because meals were happening later than normal and with so much going on around them they couldn't settle down and eat so I think they were also hungry (even though there was tons of food).

The plan for the weekend was that we would not send Jacob to school on Friday because instead we would be making the drive into middle-of-Louisiana and that night there was a family dinner arranged at one of the nicest restaurants in the town everyone was staying in.  A 7pm dinner.  Our kids go to bed between 7 and 7:30pm.

The next day the wedding was at 1pm.  The twins go down for naps around 12:30pm.

Justin's mom was flying in to the Houston airport and driving to the wedding with us and offered to help us out with the kids while we were there, but any amount of help we got there wasn't going to have our kids deal well with messed up sleep schedules, sleeping in a hotel, etc.  Not to mention that we felt like it would make the festivities far less enjoyable for her as well.

The Sunday before the wedding, church was completely awful with the boys.  They were loud, out of control and made us never want to take them to church again.  That evening Justin and I discussed how hard the weekend would be and how much we would want to kill ourselves halfway through.

We toyed with the idea of me missing the family dinner the night before the wedding and just putting the kids to bed at the hotel while Justin had dinner with his family.  But then we would still be faced with tired, cranky kids during the ceremony for Saturday too.  And I would be stuck sitting in the dark at the hotel with sleeping kids instead of eating a nice dinner.

We finally decided that I would just stay home with the kids and not go at all.  It just was not going to work.
Then my dad called two days before Justin would be leaving to let me know that my mom was able to get the day off work and would come and keep the twins so we would only have to take Jacob with us.  So my mom drove down from DFW the morning of her birthday to watch the kids for the next 50 hours or so.
And as luck would have it, Jacob was having some tummy trouble that morning so he still missed school, but he also stayed home with the twins and Grandma Mac.  Amazingly he didn't have any other tummy trouble after we left.

Since we didn't have the kids with us we were able to have a great time and enjoy seeing family and seeing Sara get married.  We know that she had wanted to see the boys too, but it was so much better to not bring them.

Here are some pictures that we got from Justin's dad (we may have forgotten our camera).
Siblings and spouses holding up Justin's dad
3 Generations
Siblings and spouses with Justin's mom
Siblings and spouses  with Justin's dad

Thanks to my mom for being so awesome and letting us get away to  the wedding together and have a great time instead of a super trying experience!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Jacob is 4!!!

Jacob turned 4 this past December.  Time seems to have both crawled and flown by simultaneously.
Next to our broken TV before the new one was delivered
Unlike most 4 year olds, Jacob doesn't understand the concept of a birthday or even seem to recognize the word.  I have no doubt that he enjoyed the attention and presents he got on his birthday, but I also don't doubt that he didn't understand it was his birthday or what that means.

Have you seen those cute questionnaires to do with your kids each year on their birthday?  They all say to start at the age of 3 and ask the same questions each year so you can look back and see how their answers change throughout the years.  Last year Jacob would have ignored me had I attempted to do that with him.  This year he mostly ignored me but every now and then he just repeated back the questions.

Here is what we think his answers would be if he understood enough to answer.

Nicknames:  none (I guess we're no fun)
How old are you?  4
What is your favorite color?  Red (only because Grandma Mac gave him some choices and he said the last color she said)
What is your favorite animal?  Dog
What is your favorite book?  We read GoodNight Moon and Skeleton Hiccups every night
What is your favorite TV show?  Super Why
What is your favorite movie?  Cars
What is your favorite song?  Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (he learned a new verse at school with different body parts too)
What is your favorite food?  Ramen (isn't that disgusting?)
What is your favorite drink?  Root beer (not that he gets it very often)
What is your favorite breakfast food?  Chocolate chip pancakes
What is your favorite snack?  Graham crackers
What is your favorite outfit?  Jack o' lantern shirt
What is your favorite game?  Wrestling with his brothers
What is your favorite toy?  Innotab
Who is your best friend?  His Daddy
What is your favorite thing to do?  Play with Innotab or a phone; or help in the kitchen
What is your favorite thing to do outside?  Play in a bounce house
What is your favorite holiday?  He likes Christmas lights and Christmas presents so I guess Christmas
What do you like to take to bed with you at night?  Cup of water and his "friends" (little stuffed animals)
Where is your favorite place to go?  Pool
What is your favorite restaurant?  Arby's
Where do you want to go on vacation?  Somewhere with a pool
What do you want to be when you grow up?  ?????
What did you do on your birthday?  Went to school, played basketball, got presents

Jacob has made TONS of progress over the past year.  He is talking a lot more - a year ago he could only identify letters, numbers and animals.  Now he is able to request things, but he still has a problem with wordless whining when he wants something - we are working on learning how to request something without whining.  He also typically repeats what we say instead of answering questions or using his own words.  His speech is still delayed at least 1 year and a lot of words he says, he pronounces incorrectly (he calls me "Monny - like a cross between Mommy and money; he calls Jeremy "Jeheny").

Jacob impressed all his teachers by showing them that he can recognize a wide variety of sight words from animals, to shapes, and even action words.  If Jacob didn't have the delays he has - we all feel really confident that he would be reading at this point.

Jacob loves to help in the kitchen.  He pulls the folding step stool we keep in the kitchen out and sets it up right in front of what I'm doing in the kitchen.  He loves to help pour things in, stir things, turn on the mixer and turn it back off.  He gets very upset if I am in a big hurry and don't have time to have a helper.

Jacob potty trained before going back to school in the fall!  He did really well once he decided he wanted to and the only rewards he ever wanted were lots of enthusiastic praise.  He had a rough time a few months later where he never wanted to go use the potty anymore, but luckily he is doing much better and accidents don't happen very often.

We're so happy that Jacob is progressing, but it is still hard to see him next to "normally" developing kids.  We frequently see children 1-1.5 years younger than Jacob who communicate and comprehend better than he does and it is a little heartbreaking.  We just keep praying that he'll continue to make good progress and keep communicating with us more and more.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jacob's 4th birthday

I think I'm going to write a couple different posts about Jacob - one about his birthday and one about him (if that makes any sense).

Jacob's birthday was on a Friday this past year which means he went to school on his birthday.  I wanted to do something for him at school, but our school district has very strict policies about that - you can't bring any food item at all to be given to other children other than your own and also they have a policy about foods with little or no nutritional value.  So I wasn't really sure what I could do, if anything.  So sad - one of my favorite memories from when I was a kid was that for my birthday my mom would make cupcakes for my class that I would get to take to school with me.

I sent an email to Jacob's teachers asking what, if anything, I could do.  They reminded me that all the kids' parents in Jacob's program at school have signed a waiver regarding the district's food policies.  That may sound weird, but most of the kids in these programs have issues with being very picky eaters and so they work on getting the kids to try different foods.  As long as I sent something with Jacob on the bus and didn't bring it up to the school where it would have to go through the office I could send whatever.

I figured that the easiest thing to send with him would be chocolate chips cookies - plus Jacob is super picky but I know that chocolate chip cookies are about the only cookies that he'll eat.

They had a little party at school with him and sent me a picture.

I also attempted to take his picture with our blue elephant.  Don't worry Jacob - we'll only do this until you are 18 or so.

Finally - success!
We didn't do anything else to celebrate his birthday that day, because Justin and I went to his company's holiday party instead.  Grandma and Grandpa Mac came into town that evening though and we all celebrated the next day.

Jacob played in his basketball game and after that we spread out opening his presents.  I imagine that lots of 4 year olds are pretty excited to open all their presents and see all the stuff that they get.  Jacob is excited, but once he opens something, he doesn't really understand that he could get something else - he just wants to play with what he opened.  So we give him time to play with something before we move on to anything else.
Wow - I think this is for me!
Wow - a Thomas set!
Gotta play with this before we can open anything else.  And yes- we set up the train where the TV that Jacob broke used to sit.
Work bench/ tool set that Justin thought Jacob would love - Daddy was right!
The tools are used to put the bench together

Making a bat using his work bench
Some neat cars from Aunt Sherry and Uncle Rick
Opening present from Grandma and Grandpa Mac
An InnoTab2!!!  By far Jacob's favorite present (this was also part of his Christmas present too)
I really went back and forth over what I should make him as far as a cake went.  Sadly I didn't get any great pictures of the cupcakes.  He was excited to see his Finding Nemo cupcakes, but didn't eat any until I got him a cupcake with no frosting (I'm not sure if my blood really flows through his veins since he won't eat frosting).  And really was most excited to blow out candles again and again.
Please ignore all the junk that got placed on our table
Making a wish
Getting in position to blow out the candles
Wow - don't burn yourself!
"More candle?"
And again
And yet again
No more candles?  OK, I guess I'll eat one then
We hope you had a happy birthday Jacob!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Our unplanned gift to ourselves

The week of Jacob's birthday in December, Justin didn't get home from work until after I had to put the kids to bed (tithing settlement, his group from work Christmas party - something like that).  

If you know me - you know I hate having to put the kids to bed by myself.  The twins are out of control in the bathroom and without 2 adults to keep them in order and assist, I always bathe the twins one at a time in the kitchen sink.  Then dress them in their PJs and once they're all ready, take them up to bed and get Jacob bathed and then get him to bed.  

I had something on TV to help keep them contained and a bit easier to deal with, but once the twins were ready for bed and all the kids were tired I turned the TV off and told everyone to come upstairs.  Jacob got upset about the TV and started his usual crying/half-way screaming that he does when he doesn't get his way.

I told everyone again that it was time to go upstairs and told Jacob that he needed to go upstairs so he could take a bath.  He was still throwing a fit about the TV being off so I got the twins up into their room and into their cribs.  Then called down to Jacob to come up and take a bath.  

No response.

I came downstairs and he was standing in front of the TV.  Looking like he had done something wrong.  Everything looked fine though, so I took him upstairs and bathed him.  We read stories and then I put him to bed.

It had been a long day and I knew I should clean up but I was just ready to veg.  I turned on the TV and this is what I saw.

I turned the TV off again and realized that even though I didn't notice it at first, there was a spot on the TV screen where it looked like it had been hit and was very slightly dented in (like if your car door got hit by someone else's car door in the parking lot).  The point of impact of Jacob's head hitting the TV in frustration.  And the screen had shattered.


So that night and the next evening we discussed whether or not we thought Justin would be getting a bonus, how much we were willing to spend on another TV and then searching for what we wanted.

We ended up spending about the same that we spent on this 32" HD TV from 5 years before and got a 55" 3D HD TV.  And it is mounted on our wall.  Out of reach of children.  Thanks to the very unplanned gift that we got for ourselves (that arrived on Jacob's birthday), we didn't get each other anything for Christmas or Valentine's Day.

Although we hadn't had any intention of getting a new TV anytime soon, now sometimes when we are watching something we thank Jacob for breaking our other TV.  Don't tell him though.


Jacob has loved basketball since he could recognize a basketball.  We got him a Little Tikes hoop the Christmas right after he turned 2 and after a little practice, that kid never missed a shot.

In September we noticed that the YMCA where I workout has sports leagues for children as young as 3 and that the winter sport was basketball so we decided to sign him up and give it a try.  Luckily, Jacob was still 3 when the season started so the team he was on didn't have practices.  They would meet the day of the game and have about 20 minutes of instruction and then about 20 minutes of game time.

The first couple weeks were really frustrating.  The first week Jacob had a lot of issues with the noise level in the gym.  The full size court had a large blue curtain from the ceiling to the floor dividing it into 2 smaller basketball courts which means there were 4 teams, lots of spectators talking and cheering, referees blowing whistles, the buzzer going off.  It was really loud and Jacob ran around for a little while with his ears covered, but about halfway through he decided to just sit down on the side covering his ears.
Way too loud!!!
The next week he wasn't as bothered by the loudness, but he was all over the place which included running to the other side of the blue curtain and onto the other court where some older kids were playing.  He also realized there was a water fountain right outside of the gym and kept deciding how great it was to run out and get water rather than drink from the cup we had brought for him.
Walking in a very straight line with arms to his side - we assume he does this when he walks through the hallways at school

Jacob was the only kid who just ran all over the place doing his own thing, but he wasn't the only kid having issues at the games.  A couple other boys on his team would sometimes play, but would sometimes just go sit in the stands.  Another little boy wouldn't let go of his dad at all and his dad would be out on the court with him.  It was interesting to see half of the kids on our team having issues, usually the other teams seemed older and more together.  Good thing no one ever kept score!

Even with the lower basket, it was too high for Jacob

Getting some help from Daddy
By the end of the season Jacob would occasionally run up and down the court with the other players and would try to take shots every now and then.  
Wow - he looks like he's playing!

Getting his trophy

And when they gave him his trophy, he tried to give it right back!
And putting it back


After our scare Memorial weekend with Colby, we thought he was all better and that he had ingested some kind of toxin, but it worked its way out of his system and that he was all better.

But driving home from Dallas on the 6th of July, Colby had a focal point seizure.  He was fine for a couple more days and then he had another.  After a couple weeks the focal point seizures started happening almost daily and we decided we needed to take him to vet, but Justin was out of town (no way was I going to the vet with all 3 children).

Then Colby had another focal point seizure which turned into a grand mal seizure.  Seriously scary stuff.  And the boys didn't know what was going on - they thought that Colby was playing a game.  They kept laughing and trying to lay on him while he was seizing.  I called the vet and made an appointment for the next afternoon once Justin would be home.

After spending way too much on Colby's hospital visit in May, we really didn't have the money to have testing done to find out why Colby was seizing.  Instead we had some blood work done and started Colby on anti-seizure medication.  He would go a couple days without seizures, then have a few focal point seizures within a few days, then repeat the cycle of no seizures for a couple days.  Luckily he didn't have another grand mal seizure.  But after a month of medication when Colby went back in for blood work our vet felt like Colby shouldn't be having seizures that frequently while being medicated.  Since his latest blood work was all good, we upped his dosage a bit.

Another month went by and we continued to see focal point seizures every few days.  Apparently, Colby should have only had a few seizures a month while being medicated.  We tried out another medication in addition to the one that he had been on and while the seizures were a lot less frequent Colby had completely changed and he just wasn't our Colby anymore.

He had no energy.  He acted like he couldn't hear well, couldn't see well and couldn't even smell things right in front of him.  He never played.  When he came to clean up the scraps of food thrown on the floor (if he came to clean them up) he couldn't find them.  He walked around in circles a lot.  He slept like 22 hours a day.

We knew that Colby's time with us was over.  It was hard.  We cried.  I cried a lot.  Without testing we don't know for certain what was wrong with Colby but the vet felt like we were looking at either a brain tumor or brain lesion.

I spent all night one night crying and sent Colby to the vet with Justin the next day.  I didn't think that I would see him again.  Instead Justin and the doctor decided that we would put Colby on steroids for a week to try to help him act a little more like himself and we would be able to say goodbye to him.

That made it even harder for me because Colby WAS acting a little more normal.  He was nowhere near back to his normal self, but he wasn't sleeping as much and would perk up when we called him, which he wasn't doing before the steroids.  I was starting to doubt if we should say goodbye to him.  Maybe he would get better.

But then he started having more seizures.  First it was a few focal point seizures, then he started having grand mal seizures.  When he had his 3rd grand mal seizure in less than 24 hours I felt like he looked at me and asked me to end his suffering.  I held him and wept.

Justin and I took him together to the vet that evening (Thursday, October 25th).  The week before Colby pulled and pulled trying to not go into the vet's office.  This time he willingly walked in.  He was ready to not be suffering anymore.

We cried as we said goodbye to Colby.  We stayed with him for a while after he was gone.

Sometimes I still expect to see him come running into the kitchen or out the doggy door to chase birds out of our yard.  It seems like he should still be here curled up on the couch next to me.

Even though it was almost 6 months ago, we miss our Colby like it was yesterday.