Tuesday, September 24, 2013

MY GRANDMA

**I wrote this in August after my last visit to see my Grandma. I was struggling with a lot of emotions after seeing how weak she was, how not like my Grandma she was. So as I usually do, I put my thoughts and feelings into writing. I found this today when I was trying to clean out some old drafts. I finally felt like posting it. My grandma passed away on Saturday, September 21st. I won't be writing any more this week, but wanted to share with you my feelings and my thoughts on this absolutely amazing woman** Here is her obituary.

My grandmother is nearing the end of life.

This is a first for me, to be honest.
Other people have lost grandparents, parents, pets, or even siblings around me, but I have always been there offering my condolences, my support. I have always considered myself very blessed, very lucky to have such health and longevity in my family.
To have grown up with both sets of grandparents, and experience the amazing memories and share such love is truly, truly a blessing.

So, like I said, this is a first for me.

But really, this isn't about me.
This is about my Grandma. My wonderful, sweet, strong, amazing Grandma.
My Grandma has cancer. In September, after probably a year of coughing, she was diagnosed.

And here we are.

My sadness brims to the surface occasionally, only to be pushed back down below.
My Grandma has always been strong. Always a woman who does everything for everyone. Have a stain in a shirt you can't get out? Call her for advice. Need baby blankets? She made me 20 when I had Gabriel. Doubting a career change? She will tell you straight up what she thinks.

So to see her at this stage in life, so not in control of what is happening has my family a little unsteady.
We are trying so hard to hold on to the memories we've had, while slowly letting her go.

It isn't fair.
It isn't fair that I want her to stay. It isn't fair that she has to go.
But I am coming to understand that her suffering needs to end, and thankfully, she is nearing that end as she draws closer to God each day.
I am thankful for her and my Grandpa's faith, as they are now using that for comfort.

My Grandma taught me to bake. She taught me to stop and watch the world go by and see all of the little wonders most people are too busy to notice. She taught me to make a boat out of an empty butter container and float it down curb gutters after a rainstorm. She taught me endurance and a true meaning of toughness when, during a not so great episode after chemotherapy, she still loaded herself into a car with my grandpa and aunt and came to one of Caderyn's soccer games in the freezing cold just so she could see him score a goal. She taught me to love nature and adore my family. She taught me that sitting around is pointless, you've got two legs and you live in Montana, get up and go! She taught me to have a lighter side of life and immense respect for my elders,aunts, uncles, and cousins. She taught me that its okay to keep your eyes on the ground, you might have luck and find a penny.

People aren't just lucky, it doesn't happen that way. People are lucky because of the people they have in their lives, especially their family. I feel so lucky to have been given such a wonderful Grandma. As hard as this time is, I also know it is time to let her go, for her suffering to end, and for her to fly free.







Friday, September 20, 2013

IPHONE LATELY

The first couple picture will just confirm my inner fat kid.
Two weeks ago I got to go to a Pampered Chef Party. I don't get to go out a lot y'all, so this was a big deal. While at the party we made THIS decadent and super, super rich dessert as a party team! It was a chocolate s'mores cake. It was good, but my teeth hurt after from all the sweet.  
 
 
Pinterest WIN! Crockpot Ravioli was super good.  
 
This kid cracks me up...butt seriously... he is so cheeky.
 
 How all the cool kids sit.
 
Some mornings I walk into my kitchen and I could swear it is a scene from Twilight Zone 
 
Caderyn is going to get his tonsils out in December. While waiting for the doctor he struck a pose as a "Bubblegum Tree" 
 
"Wash my hair!" 
 
Like a majestic lioness she regally maintains order upon her cemented stoop. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

DID YOU KNOW



Aaaaand now for a post about moi!

1. Did you know I love to get my nails done? I will hold off on all other pampering (i.e. haircuts, buying new clothes, buying new makeup) if it means I can have my nails done.

2. I love Cheerios with a chopped up banana in it. Yum.

3. Lately I have become really bad about keeping up with people via the telephone/ facebook. Part of it is I just don't have a ton of time to talk and part of it is when I do have time to finally talk it is like 8:45 p.m. and all I want to do is wrap myself up like a burrito in my new Sherpa blanket (softest thing ever!) and watch either Once Upon A Time, Modern Family, or Pretty in Pink--cause that's what I'm in to right now. Don't take it personally people, I'm just pooped.

4. I am terrible, absolutely terrible when I have to ask someone for something. I hate doing it. I hate asking for help. I hate asking to borrow something. So people, if I sound super uncomfortable or awkward when I'm asking you for something it is because my brain is fighting me every step of the way and screaming "Noooooo! Noooooo! You are being ruuuuuuuude!" But I try really hard not to ask for help, so you know if I'm asking you for help it is because I really need it.

5. I love blowing bubbles with bubble gum and cracking it. Bad habit. My dad hates it.

6. I do not like feet. I can't stand being touched by feet (except my kids). I seriously get the creeps.

7. Sometimes I am quick to judge. I have been trying to be much better about listening openly to what people are telling me and not judging.

8. I am impatient.

9. I have never dyed my hair. I wanted to dye in black when I was in middle school. So glad my parents put their foot down on that one.

10. I have an intense desire to be an extra in a movie that gets to jump from a height-- be it a window, a tree or a cliff--just so I can watch it over and over again and be like "That's me!" I want to jump onto the big blow up pillow thing they use. 

11. I don't like wearing socks. 

12. Is it just me or is anyone else noticing that the older we get the bigger our purses also get?

13. Yesterday this made me have one of the best laughs I've had in awhile. 

14. I do not have a green thumb. I want to garden and have beautiful flowers so very much. But I just end up killing everything. It is embarrassing.

15.  Adults that dress up in animal costumes TERRIFY me. That includes the video I linked you to. It took me a minute or two to calm down and just watch it.


And that's all I have for you today. Tune in tomorrow for picture updates!

Monday, September 16, 2013

CADERYN SAYS

About a month ago we started a positive reinforcement tactic with Caderyn. I got the idea from a friend's blog. We basically have an empty jar that we have named the "Yes" jar. Every time Caderyn does something positive, like doing all of his chores without being asked, doing something the first time when asked, or just all around being a good kid he gets to put a penny in this jar. We also used this jar to combat one of his tics where he was sticking his tongue out all of the time.

We have drawn line markers on the jar and once the pennies fill up enough to get to a level, Caderyn will get a reward. The ultimate reward is going to be a Spiderman costume for Halloween--he asks about it multiple times on a daily basis.

So there's a little background leading up to this conversation we had.

Me: Caderyn pick up your toys and put away your dishes so we can go.
(Please note I wasn't really looking at what he was doing when I asked him this) A few minutes go by
Me: Caderyn! Pick up your toys and put away your dishes now. That is the second time I've asked you so you need to take a penny out of your jar.
Caderyn: But Mommy...
Me: Caderyn, do not argue with me or you lose another penny.
(At this point I've walked into the room and see he has picked up his toys, his dishes are in the sink and he is dressed and ready to go)
Me: Oh! Mommy wasn't paying attention. Good job buddy! I needed to pay attention! You don't have to take a penny out of your jar, here are TWO pennies for your jar.
Caderyn: Mommy, you have to take some pennies out of your jar because you weren't being very nice to me.
Me: Don't push your luck.

Friday, September 13, 2013

WHEE IT'S FRIDAY!

And now some random phone videos for you to feast your eyes upon!
 
My fearless Caderyn absolutely loves bouncy castles and slides. He is fearless and will go down and up them as fast as he possibly can in the allotted time he is given. When we were in Spokane he got five minutes on this slide and did a complete rotation of ups and downs probably 25 times.
video
 
Mr. Piggie Pants sure loves his food. He is probably the cutest little eater I know...especially with a Cheerio on his chin.
video
video
 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

BIG BOY CRAWLING

Last week Gibby went into full on crawling mode. Hands and knees people! Hands and knees!
He looks like a little robot.
video
Isn't it amazing that three months ago he wasn't doing anything!?
Look how far we've come now!
Proud mom moment.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

WHAT IS TOURETTE'S SYNDROME?

Tourette's Syndrome.
To be honest, before Caderyn was diagnosed or even born, I was one of the people who thought Tourette's Syndrome was funny. Yes, I was naive. Very naive.
This is what I thought of when Tourette's was mentioned *there are curse words in this video*:

http://youtu.be/fFn0llYqM8w

And you know what? I thought this was funny--especially when I watched this movie.
I don't think anyone ever imagines Tourette's could be a part of their life, so I don't regret my past immaturity, but now I definitely take a different approach to all people and their experiences in this life of mine.

Most of you already know this cutie:
This is my son Caderyn and he is four.
He was recently diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome, or the full diagnosis is Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.
A little definition and history taken from this source, and I quote:
 
"Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (Tourette Syndrome or TS) is a neurological disorder which becomes evident in early childhood or adolescence before the age of 18 years. Tourette syndrome is defined by multiple motor and vocal tics lasting for more than one year. The first symptoms usually are involuntary movements (tics) of the face, arms, limbs or trunk. These tics are frequent, repetitive and rapid. The most common first symptom is a facial tic (eye blink, nose twitch, grimace), and is replaced or added to by other tics of the neck, trunk, and limbs.
These involuntary (outside the patient's control) tics may also be complicated, involving the entire body, such as kicking and stamping. Many persons report what are described as premonitory urges -- the urge to perform a motor activity. Other symptoms such as touching, repetitive thoughts and movements and compulsions can occur. "
 
I took a video of Caderyn when his tics were at their worst, so people could understand how this isn't really something to laugh about, or to see that he has no control over them.
video
Showing this video is a big step for me because the last couple times I watch this I get very weepy. I am most sensitive when it comes to my children and I struggle with knowing that they will struggle. We took this video to show our neurologist when we visit her next month in Spokane. And parents, that's the nice thing about smartphones these days. Your doctor doesn't live with you, so they don't have any clue what's really going on. If you think something is wrong with your child, try to take a video of them to show your doctor. We took videos of Gabriel to our neurologist and that helped her see some of his mannerism's that we were concerned about.
 
Since Caderyn was two, he has had tics. It just up and started one day out of nowhere. I remember my mom saying, "Did you know that Caderyn is clearing his throat a lot?"
I hadn't noticed, but then I slowed down a little and listened as my son cleared his throat every 20-30 seconds.
We took him to the doctor many times and were told it was more than likely a result of asthma he had due to contracting RSV at only five weeks old. So he got an inhaler and a nebulizer and proceeded to try a medication for asthma that was highly recommended by two doctors.
Just to be clear, I really do not like medication for my children or myself, ESPECIALLY if it can alter their moods. Caderyn was on something called Singulair and he turned into a puddle of emotions. After consulting with our main pediatrician (see, I keep making the mistake of going to other doctors), we decided to take him off the medication after only a month.

Caderyn continued to clear his throat. We would just tell people he had asthma or allergies because that is what we were told. Then, sometime last year he started adding eye rolls into the mix. He will roll his eyes up into the corner of his eyes while clearing his throat. It looks like he is having trouble focusing on something or has something in his eye. So back to the doctor he went and as it persisted, we became unsure as to whether this was truly allergies and asthma. Caderyn moved on to teeth clacking and mouth breathing where he would clear his throat, roll his eyes, then breath in loudly through his mouth before clacking his teeth.
That one just gave me the willies, and, as naive parents, we tried to get him to stop. We would tell him to stop and I even remember covering his mouth with my hand at one point and telling him to stop because he would ruin his teeth. When we would tell him to stop, he would get upset and then the movements and noises would get worse.
Finally, after another doctor's visit to our regular pediatrician where she was able to witness everything that was going on, she mentioned his tics and that Caderyn should probably go see a neurologist because she thought he may have Tourette's syndrome.
Perhaps it was because I was in a little bit of denial, or maybe it was because I was feeling overwhelmed because all of the neurology and therapy appointments we were going to for Gabriel, but I made an appointment to see an allergy and asthma specialist instead.
Don't ask me why. We never ended up going.

One day we woke up and Caderyn was doing all of his tics and had added in a neck circle where he leads with his jaw and circles all the way around with his neck. He did it all day and then came home and cried because his neck hurt.
I took him to the doctor (again!) and she basically blasted some sense into me. He needed to see a neurologist and I agreed.

We saw the neurologist in August and he was diagnosed and put on medication.
Since going on the medication, I actually think the tics got worse. It also made him a zombie, so we are weaning him off the pills and just trying to go at it from a more natural approach. We have also switched to Gabriel's neurologist because she gave us more of the "warm fuzzies" than the other doctor.

I had such a profound feeling of sadness with Caderyn's diagnosis than with Gabriel's. To be honest, I'm still struggling. Gabriel just showed so many signs of improvement so quickly and there are so many positive stories out there for children with Autism Broad Spectrum Disorder that I pretty much just pushed most of my feelings aside and barrelled full steam ahead into therapies, case workers, and organizations who could help us or provide us with more information.

With Caderyn, it has been a slow, yet gradual realization and I am usually overcome with a wave of sadness at random. I hate crying, it feels like lately all I do is cry. It just hits me all at once where I am sad, overwhelmed, and unsure of everything that is happening in our lives. I think a lot of this is just trying to understand and process how both of my children could have something wrong with them that was completely out of anyone's control. I felt so angry. I felt angry at people I knew and didn't know. I felt angry that I always try to do everything right, especially when it comes to my children, and I felt like we were being punished. I do not feel angry anymore, but I'm glad I felt that emotion. I am thankful of any emotion I feel because wouldn't it be weird if I didn't have any emotion at all about what we're experiencing? Now, the emotion I deal with the most is just the sadness and feeling of helplessness.
About three weeks ago I took Caderyn to the musical play, Shrek, when it came to town. He had wanted to go and asked about it nearly every day for a week. I scored tickets and set up a little date night where he and I could go and enjoy the experience together.
It ended up being a disaster. For some reason, Caderyn's tics went out of control during this play. He was all over with his movements and his noises and kept grabbing my hand to cover his mouth while he made loud noises. He was upset and exhausted by the end of the play and my heart was just broken. I came home and cried for about an hour after I put him to bed. My heart just hurt because he didn't even get to enjoy the night. His neck was bothering him and he was trying so hard to stop what he was doing that he was actually making it worse.
Since Caderyn was diagnosed we don't point out his tics or try to draw a lot of attention to them. I've just been trying to let him know what he's doing is okay and to not get frustrated. I leaned over a couple of times that night when he was getting upset and told him to relax and that he was just fine. To which he replied, "But people are looking at me and I can't stop. My neck hurts."

Oh that made me so sad for him! My heart just broke!

But you know, Caderyn, being such a young age right now, isn't overly affected by his Tourette's. When they are really bad, he notices them and talks about them and usually gets very frustrated with himself. That makes them worse.
My biggest fear, as his mother, is that when he gets in to school, kids will make fun of him. I was made fun of in school and it can seriously do some damage on your self-esteem. Caderyn is so sweet, seriously he is the best little person I know. He is extremely smart and athletic and just all around a  wonderful boy. I want people to see him for those qualities before they look at what his body is doing.

So here is what I have done as of late:

1. I have been doing tons of reading on Tourette's syndrome. Seriously, the Internet has so much information! It has helped me find books and articles to share with Caderyn and our family.

2. I adopted a positive reinforcement technique from a friend and our doctor has helped us apply this to correct/ diminish the more extreme tics Caderyn has.  
About three weeks ago Caderyn started doing another tic (which you can see in the above video) where he would stick his tongue out like a lizard and make a snorting or clicking noise. So I have a jar that Caderyn gets to fill with pennies and every time I notice him "locking his lips" to keep his tongue in or not doing the tic he gets to put a penny in the jar. We have drawn marks on the jar to indicate prizes (movies, ice cream, a Spiderman costume for Halloween, etc.) that Caderyn gets when the pennies reach one of the levels. This has helped to almost completely eliminate the tic--which is shocking to me. He will usually only do it now when he is tired but he notices he does it and will say, "Uh oh! I need to lock my lips."

3. We are also taking Caderyn to a behavioral counselor who will help work with Caderyn on what he is going through, help figure out what triggers the tics (stress, excitement, etc.), and possibly even help correct the tics and show him another outlet or calming technique.

4. Since taking him off the medication that made him zombie-like, I can honestly say I've noticed a huge difference. He still does the tics, but they are not as profound or noticeable as they have been in the last couple weeks.

5. We are trying to distract him when the tics start getting out of control. Putting an ice pack on his neck really seems to help for some reason. When his neck gets going and he starts to complaing about it hurting, he will lay on the couch with an ice pack beneath his neck and I think it is really just a nice break for him. I try talking with him about something like Legos, I give him a fun math problem he hasn't heard before, or I try to tell him a new joke. Anything to try and make him stop to think about something else.  

5. And we really just try to go about our daily lives. With both boys it is sometimes extremely hard to take them anywhere, so we just stay at home a lot or go for walks. Caderyn loves to be outside and I feel like he is peaceful running around the yard or riding his bike (when he isn't complaining). Caderyn is back in soccer this Fall and still absolutely loves it.

For this time in our lives, we are just working on getting Caderyn the help he needs, even if it is just someone to talk to. His health and well-being goes before anything I might personally be dealing with, and I want him to look back on this time and think more of the joy, fun, learning and growth he experienced.

This little kiddo is a Lego building machine. He loves science and declared yesterday that he wanted to be a scientist and asked if he could meet a scientist. He asks about a bazillion questions a day and is so interested in learning about everything. My son can read, I kid you not. This kid is reading books to me at night. He can do addition and subtraction--only if applied to Spiderman (Spiderman has three webs. The Green Goblin comes and destroys two of them, how many webs are left?) He loves absolutely every single superhero and knows everything about them. He is sincere and so, so loving. He is still super tall. Yesterday it took us three pairs of pants from his dresser to finally find some long enough...guess I'll be hitting the stores soon. Caderyn loves to run, About two weeks ago Jeff got home from Missoula for the weekend and as soon as he walked in the door Caderyn jumped up and said, "Daddy, lets got for a run!" And they ran for about a mile without stopping and then turned around and ran all the way back. He things his nose is bleeding when in all actuality it is only running. He hates being left out of a conversation and is constantly trying to butt in or ask what we're talking about. Caderyn loves going on trips and travels like a pro.

He is just a normal little boy with a beautiful gift. This gift will not define who he is, but will make him a stronger and more well-rounded man, shaped by his experiences, his struggles, and his triumphs. 




Monday, September 9, 2013

SPOKANE: DAY FOUR

Monday was Labor Day. I felt considerably better than the day before-hurrah! We got up, made a delicious breakfast and then packed up to start heading back home. We wanted to stop at Manito Park before we left town, since we'd done some reading about how beautiful the gardens were.
We only made it to a few of the locations around the park, and I loved each stop. It was gorgeous and so peaceful. If anyone is in the Spokane area for the weekend, I would highly suggest the stop. I would love to go back in the spring and see all of other gardens, especially the Lilac Garden since those flowers are my fave!
Here are pictures from Rose Hill:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pictures from the Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden 
 
 
 
 

Friday, September 6, 2013

2013 TRIP TO SPOKANE DAYS TWO AND THREE

Day two in Spokane looked like this:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
What's that? You don't see anything? Well that's because on Saturday I woke up and was whisked away to the doctor by my (reluctant *ahem*) husband who wasn't sure the trip in would be beneficial since it was probably just a virus. But oh no. After an hour of waiting and about 20 minutes with the actual doctor I had strep throat. Hurrah!
So I took no pictures that day because I basically got my prescription and went home to bed. Jeff and his parents took the kids to the Carroll College football game, but I stayed home and watched Indiana Jones and slept.
 
On to day three:
I was able to get up and moving around noon and, according to the doctor, I wouldn't be contagious after a full 24 hours of antibiotics. So we all got ready and took the kids down to the Riverfront Expo Park in downtown Spokane. You will notice I am not in the pictures. I pretty much stayed away from my kids all weekend in hopes that they wouldn't get sick, and as a result I took all of the pictures!
 
Papa Craig snuggles 
Still in pajamas at lunch time 
I was trying to get some photos of the house we stayed in. The result was a rather ethereal shot of my mother-in-law in the kitchen.  
Lego time with Dad.  
Nap hair 
 
 
 
 
The Wagon Park! Oh the wagon park! How we love the wagon park.  
 
Gibby being cute at the carousel. Sorry for the dark pictures, my photo corrector won't work.  
 
I would like to state for the record that Caderyn pretty much won king of the bouncy slide. He would rush up and then rush down over and over again. He overtook kids on the ladder up and passed them without even batting an eye. He had a blast.  
 
The airplane ride was at the top of favorites for Caderyn. 
This picture makes me a little sad. His tics were really bad this day and his poor neck was bothering him. Here he is trying to hold on to his neck so it won't move. Poor guy. More on that later.  
Whee! 
Sky view 
Mr. Piggy Pants discovered that he LOVED noodles. He was actually covered from his chin down and I only thought it would be a good idea to take a picture of him after we'd cleaned up most of the mess.
This kid LOVES food.