Saturday, February 27, 2010

These boots were made for walkin'!

We've been having some of those days, since Andrew turned three, where we just want to pull our hair out!  He is all boy, and I'm slowly realizing that my house isn't always boy proof!   He wants to run around and be chased around the kitchen island.  All the time.  It literally wears us out!  He goes to each of his toy bins and dumps everything out.  All over the floor so there isn't even a place to walk.  He doesn't nap anymore at home, so our weekends are filled from morning until night with finding constructive things for him to do.  Every minute.  And he's only satisfied with something for a few minutes at a time.  Yeah, it's exhausting.  
He's been into everything lately.
Including mommy's boots!
This just makes me laugh.  Enough said! 
Recently I came across a blog of a family who is losing their little girl to cancer.  It made me reevaluate my priorities and was just another reminder of how grateful I am that Andrew is here.  Is able to make those messes, and has the energy to go from morning till night without stopping.  I think all parents could use this reminder sometimes.  So I copied a paragraph from this mother's blog.  Her words just cut through me and made me feel guilty for ever thinking that bedtime couldn't come soon enough...

The house is quiet. I am able to go through the motions of laundry, dishes, cooking and picking up without interruptions. But I WANT interruptions. I WANT Layla to be under my feet asking for cookies. I WANT to hear her playing with her toys. I WANT to take 45 minutes to unload the dishwasher because she keeps trying to help. For every time I uttered the words “I just can’t get anything done with these kids under my feet all day” I am eternally regretful. The days that I looked forward to naptime so I could get a grocery list made, or finally fold all the piles of laundry…I regret those days too. If I could do it all again, I’d enjoy EVERY SINGLE WAKING MOMENT I had with her. I would never wish for her to sit still or take a nap or go to bed early. I would never look forward to the days when she could sit through an entire episode of Dora silently. I would treasure every second with her.

I just think those words are amazing.  A reminder to hug our kids a little tighter and be grateful for every interruption our kids are able to give us.  To remember that each interruption is a blessing, rather than a distraction.  Andrew has taught us many of those same lessons.  But I am only human.  Sometimes I forget too.

Thank you again to those who left comments or emailed me about Andrew needing tubes and his adenoids removed.  I spent this week trying to find spare minutes during the school day to call Andrew's long list of doctors to involve them in this decision and get everyone's opinion.  All of them were on board with it.  And to top it off, I received an email from the school audiologist who had tested his hearing and the results were not good.  And we've noticed at home he's not hearing as well either.  We'll try to get his attention or talk to him and he doesn't even notice.  (Well, either that or he's just ignoring us!  Ha!)  But we think it is time to get something done about it.  With his hearing already being a concern, it just makes sense.

I spoke with his local ENT a couple of days ago to ask some final questions I had about the procedure, and to remind him of all of Andrew's needs.  Our cardiologist recommended a cardiac anesthesiologist, and also wanted me to make sure they knew Andrew takes a daily aspirin (blood thinner).  When I went into detail on these things, the ENT seemed more reluctant to go ahead with the adenoid surgery.  Oddly enough, he mentioned that Iowa City has one of the best ENT clinics in the country.  I concluded that he felt more comfortable with us going there to have this done.  A few of you had mentioned that I should check out Iowa City as well, so this seemed like a sign to me. 

I called and made an appointment.  So we are headed to Iowa City on Tuesday to meet with a highly recommended doctor there.  It'll seem strange to go there for something not related to Andrew's heart!  But we know this is the right decision, and we feel good about it.  We love Iowa City.  We trust them.  We know Andrew is in good hands there.

So he'll have his consult and then we'll go from there once they give us their assessment.  I spent most of the day yesterday faxing forms back and forth to release information from all of our doctors here to the ENT clinic there.  All of this during school when I need to be writing lesson plans and getting ready for conferences coming up.  Who ever said working full time and having a child with *increased medical needs* would be easy???  (*A nice way of saying "high maintenance!")  It's okay.  I brought the mountain of school work home with me to work on during all my free time at home.  Ha!

Last weekend my niece, Mary, and her boyfriend were in town visiting from New York.  Mary is Andrew's Godmother, and we just love every chance we get to see her since she moved to NY.  Mary and I grew up like sisters, we are only seven years apart.  I am so proud of her as she moved to NY after college for an internship, and didn't know a single person there.  I don't think I could have survived on my own in NYC!
Andrew had a blast playing with James and Mary, as you can see from the look on his face!
We all met at my mom's house to play for a little bit and then have lunch.  We wanted to go to Hickory Park, but it was packed so we settled for the Pizza Ranch.
The Pizza Ranch is a pizza buffet, and they have other things also, like chicken, etc.  It's a great place for kids!  Because you don't have to wait for your food!  Ha!
 Andrew just loved James and Mary.  They brought him a birthday gift, and that immediately made them his best friends!  He wanted to hold their hands, it was so cute.
We loved their visit and we miss them so much.  Wish they lived here!  But I am trying to talk Craig into visiting them sometime, especially since they are only a couple hours away from the Sesame Place (SS theme park!)  Andrew would go nuts!
This is the giant snowpile outside my mom's house.  It's taller than Andrew!
This was so funny.  When it was time to head home, Andrew didn't want to leave Ga Ga's so he just plopped right down on her sidewalk and wouldn't move!  Ha!
So Ga Ga had to carry him, kicking and screaming the whole time!  He loves going to Ga Ga's and he never wants to leave!
I guess he'll be happy to hear that he is going to Ga Ga's again tonight to sleep over!  My mom is watching him again so Craig and I can have another date night.  We did this a few weeks ago, and we enjoyed it so much that we wanted to do it again.  Sooner rather than later!  Plus, my mom and Papa loved having Andrew stay.  Andrew got spoiled.  All of us were happy.  Ha!  I think we are going to head out to one of our favorite places- out to Jordan Creek by where we used to live.  They have great shopping and eating places.  Our church is there as well, so we will go to the Saturday night service, which we rarely get to do anymore!  I am looking forward to it so much!

Even though I'll miss my little monkey like crazy...
  It's good for us to do these things sometimes.  It makes us better mommies and daddies!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Wheels on the Bus!

Thank you so much to those who commented on my last post regarding Andrew's ENT report.  It sounds like most people thought the surgery worked well for their kids, and they were glad they did it.  I plan to call a lot of Andrew's doctors this week (audiologist, pediatrician, cardiologist, etc!) and get their thoughts.  From there, we will make a decision.  Thanks again!

Now onto some news about my little man!  Those of you who have followed us since the beginning on Carepages know that Andrew spent a good portion of his life in therapy to catch up with his developmental delays.  Since he was born early, and had two open heart surgeries within 7 months after birth, he just didn't have the chance to learn those things most kids do.  He was also born with a moderate hearing loss, and has worn hearing aids since he was 5 months old.  He spent the first 5 weeks of his life in the NICU, where he developed torticolis (a head-tilt condition from laying on the same side too much).  At 11 months of age, he still couldn't sit up independently.  He didn't walk until he was 22 months old, and I must admit, there were times I thought the day would never come!

So I spent a good portion of my year off with him, dragging him back and forth from physical therapy, occupational therapy (because he also had eating/feeding issues), and eventually, speech therapy.  He was also seen twice a month by separate PT, OT and ST through the local Heartland Education Agency (they came to our house).  Needless to say, it was a busy first couple of years (Another reason why working full time was next to impossible).

The day Andrew "graduated" from physical therapy (because he walked all by himself!) was a day I'll never forget.  We had waited so long, and worked so hard for those first steps.  Andrew had excellent physical therapists who worked so hard with him.  In fact, we love every single one of those people who spent so much time with our son in those first years, helping him play "catch up".  All of them made a difference in his life, and we are forever grateful to them. 

Eventually we got to the point where Andrew was only seeing speech therapy.  A lot fewer appointments!  Whew!  His Heartland services also continued and his wonderful speech therapist, and his awesome teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (who has been with him since he was 5 months old) followed him to his day care this year and have been seeing him there.  However, we were told at that time, that when he turned 3, he no longer could qualify for these services.  If he still needed the help in those areas, then he would need to be evaluated for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and if he quallified, he would have the opportunity to attend an actual preschool, with a certified special education teacher. 

Being a teacher myself, I'll admit, I was hesitant at first.  I know what an IEP is, and the "label" it holds for kids.  I've been part of many IEP meetings for my students over the years, where parents refused to sign papers because they didn't want that label for their child.  I would get so frustrated with those parents.  Why would they not want to do everything they could to help their child succeed?  That was my teacher's perspective.  Now I was the mommy.  I now understood where those parents were coming from.  But at the same time, I also understood that I needed to get past the "label," and do what is best for my child. 

So we signed the papers. 

Andrew was evaluated and it was determined that he is still slightly below the normal standards in the areas of speech and communication (this came as no surprise to us).  So he qualified for an IEP.  And we think it is a wonderful opportunity for him.  He has already displayed so much growth.  And by Kindergarten if he is caught up (which I suspect he will be), we lose the "label" and services are discontinued.  We feel that right now, we are doing what is best for him.
So, he gets to take a special school bus from his day care 4 mornings a week.  Here he is waiting for his bus.
I was lucky and got to go with him on his first day.  I took the morning off to go along and make sure he felt comfortable, and wasn't too unsure of what was going on.  I just felt he needed that reassurance that mommy knew they were taking him somewhere else and that it was okay.
For insurance reasons, I didn't get to ride the bus with him.  He was a little unsure at first, but the bus driver had animal crackers.  He's now Andrew's new best friend.
They even have a car seat on the bus for him.  Let me tell you, this is big time stuff.  Andrew absolutely loves riding the school bus.  He talks about it all the time.  On Wednesday mornings he doesn't go to preschool, and I guess he asks the teachers at day care where the bus is!  Ha!
So here he is, arriving at school on his first day (this is one of the elementary schools in our town).  The principal is greeting us at the door, and the teacher is walking him in.  He didn't know either of these two people, yet he marched up to that school like he owned the place!  He was so excited!
Right away he found the Thomas trains.  All was well with the world!
And then he moved on and found something even better!  Jungle animals!
He lined them all up in a row.  He loves these animals.  The teacher says he goes right to these every day now.
This was too funny.  He found these little birthday cakes.  He had just had his birthday, so he got really excited and kept saying "Happy birthday!"
The little candles come out and they have a number on the front so you put that amount in the cake.  The little boy with Andrew here was getting annoyed with him because he kept taking the candles out!  Ha!
As you can see, Andrew didn't care!  He just wanted the cake!  Ha!
Just a view of his classroom.  It is huge!  But there are fewer kids and it is a lot quieter of a setting than his day care.  It is so good for him to get more one on one attention here.

Plus, he found a pretty little girl to flirt with!
I just love this picture of him.  Look what a big boy he is, sitting on his little carpet square!  You may recall last summer when we took him to speech camp in Iowa City, they had to strap him in his booster seat to get him to stay put!
Apparently he's learned!  He's sitting up so straight and paying such good attention here!  (Even though it probably only lasted a couple minutes! Ha!)  He's come a long way.
I loved it when they went to their little centers.  I love how hard he is concentrating here.  Probably his first experience with a geoboard!  He is going to be so smart!  Ha!
They rotate to different centers for part of the morning.
I absolutely love this picture of him sitting and reading with his little friends!  He found a Woody and Buzz book, so he was very content!
I love his little legs crossed!
He's even reading to his new friends!  Ha!
I was happy to see this part!  Hand washing!  Ha!  Before they had snack everyone washed their hands.
He ate pudding and drank out of a big boy cup.  Wow!  No sippy cups at this place!

As fate would have it, this just happens to be the one elementary school in town where my best friend, Alissa works as an instructional coach.  Andrew knows and loves Alissa.  She checks in on him for me, and gives me updates on how he's doing, and I love it!  It makes me feel so good to know she is there with him, too, in case he ever needs a familiar face.

It makes me a little bit sad to think my baby is big enough to go to preschool now.  But it also makes me proud.  Proud to look back at everything he's been through, and to see how far he's come.  I knew back then, in those days where the future seemed so uncertain, that there was a light at the end of the tunnel...but I just didn't expect that it would be so bright.  He has made such amazing strides since those days where he couldn't even sit up.   
Here he is saying "cheese!" on his way back to the bus after school.  The bus comes to get him and takes him back to day care for lunch and nap.

I had so much fun on my morning off with Andrew!  It was awesome to see his classroom and the things he'll be doing there.  He is such a fortunate little boy to have these wonderful opportunities to grow and learn all that he can.
I had a great time at your school buddy!  
You've come a long way, baby!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I realize Valentine's Day is now a distant memory and I am just now getting around to blogging about our weekend.  But hey, it's for journaling purposes, so I wanted to get it written in the "books!"
This picture above is now one of my new favorites (I have about a million, but this one just cracks me up!)  I remember wishing for the day where Andrew would sit still and smile for a picture- and I must say, lately if the mood strikes him, he'll do it!  And he'll even throw in a big "CHEESE!!!!!!!!!!!"  And I am loving it! :)  When I was showing my blog to my students the other day, one of them said, "Mrs. Huegel, your camera must be tired!"  I almost had to pick myself up from the floor I was laughing so hard.  He wasn't too far from the truth on that one!  Ha!
The Saturday before Valentine's Day we went to the Home Show in Des Moines with Ga Ga and Papa.  I thought it might be a long day for Andrew, since he hadn't napped, but he did great!
He loved riding on all the big tractors!
And on Papa's shoulders!
He liked this better than the stroller, so we went with it!
 He signed up to win a car!  Ha!
Enjoyed a popcorn sample...
And crashed with Papa on the couch when we got home!  What a long day!  (And "Cheese!" again!) 
On Sunday we got out our Valentine sacks.  Yes, as in more than one!  Andrew had 2 (since he is going to a new preschool now, which I promise I'll blog about soon!  I have pictures!)  And we had the sack from my class, which I let Andrew help me open. 
He loved going through all the sacks and opening the cards.  He especially loved the Buzz and Woody ones, and the Lighting McQueen ones!
This was so precious.  This was Andrew giving Daddy his Valentine card.  He was in such a cute and smiley mood (Andrew, not Craig! Ha!)
My two Valentines :)
Then Andrew opened the card from Ga Ga and Papa.  He went crazy over it!
Do you see why he loved it so much??
Besides the fact that it had all his favorite Toy Story characters on it...
It had money in it!!!!!
This little guy loves money!
As you can tell!  Ha!
Thank you Ga Ga and Papa!!!  CHEESE!!!!!!

So, since Andrew turned three a few weeks ago, he's been going through some changes.  The first literally started on the night of his birthday.  He insisted I lay with him as he fell asleep.  I saw no harm in this (at the time!)  After all, he is the cuddliest kid I know, and I love nothing more than snuggling and lovin on him!  

However, this started a spiral of out of control sleeping patterns, which we are currently trying to break!  He got so every single night he expected us to lay with him.  He'd pat the pillow next to his and say "Mama way wip me?" (Lay with me) in the sweetest little voice.  How could I resist?

Until night after night, it took him longer and longer to fall asleep.  And I'd be in his bed for up to an hour and a half, waiting for him to go to sleep as he played, and I fell asleep myself!  Ha!  Craig and I were missing out on our time together, and our DVR needed some use!  As much as we love being together as a family, we really need our alone time together.  To regroup, talk about the day, and just hang out.  

So... how do you break this habit??  People (our pediatrician included), told me it wasn't going to be easy.  It was going to take a while.  I dreaded it.  I decided to set the stage early in the evening, and I just kept telling him mama wasn't going to lay with him anymore.  That he was a big boy, and he needed to go to sleep all by himself.  At the time it didn't seem like he was listening to me.  But I just kept telling him.  I told him during dinner, during his bath, as we brushed his teeth, after his story...

And it worked like a charm. 

That night, he asked me once, but when I reminded him, he was okay with it.  I couldn't believe it.  How could that have been so easy?  Well, it wasn't as easy as I thought.  Ahem.
See Exhibit A.
 He has now started getting out of bed, opening his door and falling asleep on the floor!  I have decided this is his way of making me feel guilty for not laying with him!  Ha!  I figure, it's okay, I just put him back into bed once I make sure he's asleep so he's not there for very long.
So, there's more.  He's also been waking up in the middle of the night.  And not just waking up, but staying awake for hours.  We're exhausted!  He insists on coming in our bed.  And quite frankly, at that time of night, I have no desire to try to break that habit.  A few nights ago, he woke up at 2:30am and wiggled around until almost 6:00.  He got up and down and up and down.  Went from our bed, to the pillows on the floor, back and forth.  And finally ended up like this.
Yep, that's our clean laundry in two baskets at the foot of our bed that I haven't had the energy to put away.  And hey, now it's Andrew's bed!

Needless to say, the start of age 3 is wearing on us!  He's also been naughty at school (gasp!) and has learned to say "NO!" to his teachers (and mommy and daddy too!)  Apparently he and the other kids at day care are getting into wrestling matches.  We are hoping this is just a phase.  And that it passes quickly!

Oh, and there's more!  You know Andrew has pretty much had a permanent cold since he started day care last fall, right?  We've been on so many different antibiotics around here it is getting out of control.  Lately, he's had fluid behind his ears that won't seem to go away.  Even after a variety of antibiotics.  Our pediatrician referred us to an ENT.  They did a hearing test, and apparently he isn't hearing as well (due to the fluid, in addition to his already moderate loss).  

So he suggested Andrew get tubes, and hey, while they are at it, they want to take his adenoids out too.


So, now I need advice.  From all of you experienced mommies who have been through this.  Do we just wait it out, let spring come and hopefully it will get better?  Or do we worry about his hearing not being the best right now and get it taken care of so he can learn all he can at school?  Do we do the tubes and not adenoids?  We just don't know what to do.  Now, this is small peanuts compared to what the poor kid has been through.  It's not like we're skiddish about the surgery.  We just want to know what is best for him.  We need guidance.  Will you please pray for this decision?  And any advice on the topic would be greatly appreciated!
Andrew says thank you!  And CHEEEEESE!!!!!

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