Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin Patch 2014

Of course now that we have a kiddo, we'll be joining the ranks of sharing pictures of kids & pumpkins together! :) But we just have to show him off as he takes in his first real time at a Pumpkin Patch {and by patch, I mean that generically as they're all just stacked together}. While he was there last year too, he's just now realizing what's going on and taking it all in.

Watching him experience everything and seeing it through his eyes was SO much fun!!! It was seriously incredibly special.

So on Saturday morning, we went to a nearby pumpkin patch, farm, cafe, etc, that holds an annual Fall Festival with tons of goodies and animals everywhere. We didn't do any of the rides or animal stuff yet since Elijah's not old enough, but we did take a peek from the sidelines and I reminisced about 3 years ago when we first took our little buddy Parker there!

Such sweet memories. And now there are many more!


Elijah enjoyed helping choose 8 little pumpkins to donate to his daycare classroom. What fun!


Grandpa & Grandma were with us too! Such a special treat!!



We tried taking him around to the corn and places where you could stand and take pictures behind random cartoon characters, but he wasn't the least bit interested. He just wanted to run back to the pumpkins!!



First time touching a real, big pumpkin!




Our lil' fam


Not quite sure how my mom managed to grab such a great pic as it was so crowded and we were feeling a bit rushed, but isn't the look on his face priceless?!?! :)



Yum, yum!



Elijah was quite enthralled with the camels



And the giraffes in the distance!


Aww my sweet boy


Funny faces with daddy


Before we left of course we had to get some yummy treats - including fresh hot apple cider, some coffee for Grandpa, fresh apple cider donuts, and freshly made kettle corn. Super yummy!

And finally, here's our big boy walking with Grandma back to our car. Love this. :) 



A truly wonderful experience on a perfectly gorgeous Fall day!!

It is amazing to watch the world through a child's eyes. I'm floored every day by something he sees or does or exclaims "whoaaa!!" to. He's growing and changing so much, I can barely keep up. He's almost 16 months old and I'm not sure how to process that.

We are trying to soak in every beautiful Fall day, and every chance we get to experience something new with Elijah in this stage... because all too soon we'll be stuck inside for the Winter. For a child who looooooooves the outdoors, this will be a challenging season!

So Fall, please stay around just a little bit longer.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Home for 11 Years

Photo credit: Unknown. Just wanted to clarify it wasn't taken by us,
but by the previous owner's realtor when we bought the house.

This little place. 
This place we have called home for 11 years now. 
This place with all the memories.
This place with the long commutes to work,
but more space than we could afford close to work.
This place with its 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full finished basement,
a spare room we made into an exercise room, a wood-burning stove, 
two car garage, a backyard that leads into the park behind our house,
and a quiet neighborhood that while we've had irritants, has been utterly safe.

This place that went through significant neighborhood changes 
just one year after we bought it. 
Land was sold next to us and the house by us was torn down to its roots, 
and two houses were built where previously there'd only been trees.
This place where we live at the top of a hill and rarely had to worry about flooding.

This place that is less than 15 minutes from our church. 
This place that is less than 5 minutes from good friends who could be here
quickly in case of an emergency.
This place that is near the best bike trail, petting zoo, and walking paths around!
This place that gets me to LL Bean and Cabela's in under 15 minutes.
This place that allows us to get to our favorite mall in 15 minutes, 
to Tim's mom's in under 30, to Walgreens in 2, 
Dairy Queen in 1, and Target in 7. 
Because, hello, priorities!

This place where we both got different cars.
This place where I sobbed and cried out to God in desperation
when we found out about my illness symptoms, was tested
out the wazoo, and eventually where I came home after finding
out for sure that I had Fibromyalgia.

This place... a place of refuge, safety, and some days... confusion and loneliness.

This place where we got to talk to families struggling
with infertility and beginning adoption, 
wondering if we might someday be on the same course.

This place where, after years of trying and struggling, 
we finally brought our sweet baby home. 
After 11 days in the NICU.
Where we entered over that threshold with fear and trepidation.
And much rejoicing.

This place where we were scared. 
This place where we got the call that Tim's dad had passed away
and we sobbed.
This place where we found out about all of our grandparent's deaths.

This place where we argued a lot and found out the
real meanings of "for better, for worse, for richer, 
for poorer, in sickness and in health".
This place where we felt God's goodness and grace,
and his sovereignty over the overwhelming, sad, 
and hard parts of life.

This place where we became a family.
This place we've shared with so many family and friends.
This place where people met Elijah for the first time. 

This place where love was shared, tears were shed, laughter was abounding, 
grace was given, fights were hard, God was glorified, deaths were wept over, 
voices were raised, whispers were given, prayers were constant, songs were sung,
and God's love for us and our son was ever-present.

Memories.
11 years of sweet memories.
All the better now with a little one's voice echoing through the hallways.
And where we get to truly see God at work every day.
Through the eyes of a child.





Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fall TV 2014

Fall TV goodness has begun, woot!!

image credit: CBS

My favorite new shows are Madam Secretary {CBS: Sundays at 7 pm CST or after 60 Minutes when football runs long} and Scorpion {CBS: Mondays at 8 pm CST}.

My least favorite new show is Gotham. I'm trying to like it. I'm watching it because hubby likes it. Its premise is intriguing, but it's to me so far it's dark and depressing and gross.

We ended up deciding not to watch NCIS: New Orleans because well, it just wasn't pulling us in enough and we have plenty to watch. We want to try to watch The Flash but we'll see how it goes once it premieres next week.

We LOVED Chicago Fire. It was the premiere that I was the most looking forward to. That show always has me gripped and on edge and cheering and booing. It's the best little roller coaster ride and I love it! Some compare it to E.R., but I like this one so much better, the characters are more interesting and it's much more exciting and uplifting I think. Plus, it's in Chicago. Hello.

We continue with all our favorites and catch up late at night and on weekends:
Big Bang Theory, NCIS:LA, NCIS, New Girl, Shield, Person of Interest, Arrow {premiering next week}, Chicago PD, The Millers {premiering 10/30}, Elementary, (premiering 10/30}, Amazing Race, Hawaii Five-O, and Blue Bloods.

What are you enjoying this season?? What new shows are you trying and liking or not liking?


Sunday, September 28, 2014

In the ER with a Toddler

One week ago today we had quite a scare.

Saturday night/Sunday morning at 1:00 a.m. we were startled awake by Elijah gasping for air. [We have a video monitor, so hearing this was easy... and jarring.] We called his doctor's office, gave him a stream treatment in the bathroom, and gave him a breathing treatment with a nebulizer that we already had on hand from last year. The doctor on call told us that if the breathing treatment didn't work, that yes we should get him to the nearest ER.


At 3 a.m. he was back in bed. At 4:30 a.m. he was gasping for air so desperately that there was nothing we could do but rush him to the nearest ER and pray that he'd be okay [we emphasize nearest because it's not our preferred hospital or the one we're most familiar with, but it's 10 minutes closer than the hospital he was at in the NICU for 11 days]. There was a momentary debate over calling an ambulance but since he wasn't turning blue, we didn't feel that was needed. And while technically we were sure he'd get the help he needed and be okay, it was still very hard to watch.

Gratefully the ER people paid him pretty quick attention at first. He was pretty uncomfortable until the doc examined him and we were able to get him a breathing treatment with a more powerful medicine than what we have at home. Unfortunately because he was so uncomfortable and struggling for breath, he fought the breathing treatment hard. Tim had his legs and arms wrapped in a figure 4, I had his head, and the respiratory therapist had the mask over Elijah's nose and mouth. Thankfully it was only 5 minutes and near the end we felt Elijah starting to relax. After it was over, there was an immediate difference in Elijah's breathing and we all felt a little better.

Not too long later, the nurse brought in his oral steroid. And that also really helped. And he just melted in daddy's arms and finally went back to sleep.


The doc said because he was better after the breathing treatment, he was going to cancel the X-Rays. Whew.

There was a time after that were we didn't seem to see anyone at all for about an hour. Gratefully after the shift change, the day nurse was more attentive. Prior to this point we had to do everything ourselves - get blankets and pillows that I found in the closet, etc. There was nothing in the ER for Elijah, and nothing to help us be able to contain him or get him to relax. I realize that's not the typical environment for that... but come on ER's, kids have emergencies too! Even just a standard wooden rocking chair would have helped us a lot. Anyway, I digress.

Around 7:30 a.m. the doctor told us we could go home, he was doing better, and started to get paperwork ready to discharge us. When the nurse came back to walk us through that... I voiced another concern that Elijah's breathing suddenly didn't seem quite right again and I was a little worried. I knew I'd hate myself if we got home and had nothing to do but go right back to the ER, because they were sending us home without any medication. It just felt weird.

The ER doc [who was great, by the way] called in the pediatrician on-site, who came sometime that hour to see us. That whole time I was beating myself up that I said anything because Elijah was not bad, and we wanted to go home and rest. But Tim had to keep reminding me that it was wise to make sure he was okay, and just like back when Elijah was born... I was the one who insisted there was a problem and he finally got checked. For his breathing.

Oy vey. Breathing issues really have always scared me. It's my little thing. My fear. Is God using this in my son now to teach me lessons... to teach me about what it means to really trust him? I admit, I don't like it. But I am learning to trust him more.

The pediatrician is the specialist, which is why he was called in, and after listening to Elijah's heart & lungs he immediately looked up at us and asked if we'd ever been told he has a heart murmur. Tim & I said no at the same time while we both looked at each other wide-eyed and a bit unnerved. We hadn't heard anything like this at all! As the doc explained, he said it could just be because he's sick and a lot of murmurs turn out to be nothing. But still he said we might want to get an echo done, just to be sure.

That made my heart skip a beat!

The pediatrician wanted him to receive another breathing treatment and then to be in observation, which meant an extended stay and he needed to be admitted to the pediatric ward.

Ugh. This was hard news, and while we just wanted Elijah to be okay, we were disheartened to hear the pediatrician seemingly contradicting the ER doc [who was great by the way, I'm not saying this in any way to "diss" him, it was just different]. We were exhausted so it was just hard to swallow, but we knew it was best for him.

The doc ordered another breathing treatment and around 9 am Elijah had that. This time he was more receptive to it - and that treatment really helped him turn the corner! [There were no more problems after that and no more medicines, he was simply there for observation and monitoring.]

Then we waited 2 more long hours in the ER. Just waiting. The nurse did okay with communicating with us about what was going on, checking in on us occasionally and letting us spread out in the room so we could get some rest. She made us more comfortable and helped make it more private for us as well. We did get a little shut-eye here and there, but the key thing was that Elijah rested!



It was annoying to just be sitting around the ER, waiting for a peds bed to open up, waiting a half hour for a transfer technician to take us up to our new room, etc. Just for more waiting and observing. So it felt frustrating and annoying, but we knew when we left he was going to be okay. We were finally transferred a little before 11 - so we spent 6 long hours in the ER. 

Once up there and settled in, the patient care technician we had in our room was fantastic. She was really helpful and gave us more information than anyone to that point. She let us know that the medicine Elijah was given in his breathing treatments can have some side effects and some patients regress a little bit within hours. So they wanted to make sure we wouldn't have to come back, and that medicine usually required 6 hours of monitoring. He had his last dose at 9 a.m. Obviously we can't just stay in the ER that long [gratefully], so that's when we started to relax a little more. 

I will say that our experience in the NICU did help me to learn and understand how to be a better advocate for my son. That I don't have to just take what they're saying and that I'm free to make myself comfortable and ask a gazillion questions.


One cool thing when we got to our room was that we were on the side with the geo-thermal lake, and that we had a view of our church! Right in the middle far back in the midst of the trees you can slightly see the tops of a large brown building. That's our church! :) It was very calming and a good reminder of God's sovereignty in the midst of the hard.

Once we were settled in and the nurses weren't coming in as much, we ordered lunch for all 3 of us [our little boy is eating solid foods pretty well now, so unreal!], and then relaxed. It was nice to finally be more comfortable and to have a place where Elijah could be contained. 

                                        

It was a freaky-looking contraption but he was contained and he slept for just over an hour in it! Whew!! And then he slept a little more in daddy's arms...

                                         

I did keep asking and checking as the nurse and PCT came in to find out when the doc might be around again. It was looking like we wouldn't see him until 3. So even though we understood that it might be 6 hours of observation, we were baffled that it meant no doctor sees him or observes him. This felt insane to me. But we kept waiting.

I finally made it a bigger deal once it was a little after 3 and I was fed up. I asked the PCT to please do whatever she could to get the doc to come in and see us. Elijah was fine and we were ready to go home, if he approved. She came back in a few minutes later with the doc right on her heels, hurray! 

He listened to Elijah and checked him over thoroughly. At this time he was apologetic that we had to stay, but was kind about reminding us why it was important, which I really appreciated. He told us to follow-up with Elijah's pediatrician in the next 1-2 days not just for the croup but also to have his heart murmur checked out. He did mention that the more powerful meds he was on could cause his heart to work faster, and as it turned out 2 days later at our ped's office, that's exactly what our ped thought too. There was nothing to worry about, no murmur, praise God!!

The doc finally gave us the approval to go home and within another half hour, we were outta there!!


Finally.

Wow what a wild ride. Nearly 12 hours at the hospital. With a toddler.

He explored his room in pediatrics quite a bit and liked climbing on the bottom section of his "bed", and he was fascinated with the TV remote. It's hard to keep a toddler contained, especially when they just want to explore such an exciting new place!

We collapsed in a heap when we got home. Seriously, we all napped for an hour upon getting home. It was exhausting. I can't even fathom those who have to go through this for longer periods of time. I think especially of those I know who have or have previously gone through cancer with their kids. Mega respect.

---

The following days were so. very. hard. They were draining, still scary overnight, praying each day that we wouldn't have to go back to the hospital but also grateful that we have a hospital and good medical care so readily available, etc. Elijah was not himself and was super clingy, fussy, and just plain not himself.

He was too sick to be at daycare so I stayed home with him all week. To the point of near insanity. No real interaction with the outside world except the two doctor's visits, one quick trip to Target, and walks around the neighborhood or a park. No going to the playground or the mall play place. No direct interaction with kids so that he wouldn't get others sick. I really thought I might lose my mind. But was also grateful he was slowly seeming to get better. But on Thursday it seemed to regress a little.

And then as of yesterday we had to make another call to his doctor's office for more medicine he could have at home because the barking cough and slight gasping for air came back. Since then he's finally stabilizing again, but we kept him home from church today. How long must this go on? We are ready to get back to real life! We miss people!

We have a follow-up chiropractor/holistic doc appt tomorrow and his pediatrician on Wednesday. Then next Sunday we have a reunion with the NICU unit he was in - we are really looking forward to seeing hopefully some of his old doctors and nurses [anyone not working that day], so we are praying he's fully well by then and we can go!

Oy.

---

My final thoughts:

I know emergencies happen all the time in parenting. Kids get hurt. Scary things happen. Worse things than this happen.

I get it, I know.

But for us, this was a really big deal. It was a hard crisis to work through. Fears brought back to the surface from when he was an infant with all of those wires and lines, beeps and machines.

Thankfully this time there were hardly any machines or wires to him. But anytime a machine beeped, a wire was attached, or anything went seemingly wrong... I jumped.

It's hard not to spend that time thinking back to those days. Wondering what we could have done differently. Thinking about how much I didn't trust God and how much I needed to now. Wondering who I could be kind to and how I could help those around me also going through hardship [which as it turned out, we didn't get to do because we were in isolation given Elijah's specific illness... they were super careful to make sure it didn't spread and when nurses & docs came into our room they were instructed to wear gloves and masks at all times].

I'm grateful for God's control of all this and of the final outcome. I know this enterovirus 68 has a lot of people on edge, and initially that is one thing we had wondered about except Eli never had a fever [and it was very obviously croup with that barking cough].

Do we wish we never had to face this? Sure. Will we have to face worse and scarier things as he grows? Most likely.

But we are grateful to God for his comfort and strength during all of this. For his people who reached out and helped calm us. For the wonderful care he provided, the PCT who turned out to be the daughter-in-law of good friends [wow!], and for the ways he reminded us throughout it all that he was with us.

Life is scary and so hard, friends. I want to be a good steward of what God has given to us. I admit that I'm a sinful, frightened human being who gets riddled with anxiety and fear at the idea of great loss or hardship. I'm weak. So weak.

I'm glad that God is so strong.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Death and Eternity



There's just nothing quite like death and grief.

You can't fully comprehend it. It tries to choke the life out of you.

You can't completely prepare for the waves of sorrow and grief that will overwhelm you. You can't prepare for the joy that will strike you when you picture your believing loved ones at the foot of Jesus.

After a loved one dies, sorrow hits you at the most random of moments. You grieve all over again. When it's not a sudden, tragic death - like my 94 year old Grandpa who passed away 2 weeks ago yesterday - it's easier to process, though still unbelievably sad. You wouldn't wish they were still here because they had a good, long, happy, healthy life. But the heartbreak of losing them is still awful and it gnaws at your insides for days, weeks, and sometimes years to come.

Tragedy is something else altogether. Tragic deaths - like my 2nd cousin who died suddenly in a tragic accident 1 week + 2 days ago - is impossible to really ever wrap your head around. It's shocking and hard to believe that you'll never see them again. In this case, I'd actually never met him, but I knew his dad and I adore him. It is an utter tragedy and he left two teenage girls and a wife behind... no more hugs, no more kisses on the cheek, no more cheering them on and weeping with them on their hard days. He's gone. And there's a really big, lonely, aching hole where he used to be. It will never fully make sense.

There's my friend whose precious 6-hour-old baby died 9 months ago in two days. It's incomprehensible to me why babies are allowed to die. I mean, I get that God is in control and it's part of the Fall of man and sin... but, why sweet innocent little babies? That's crazy hard. I cannot pretend to understand. But I know God is good, gracious, and kind, and he weeps with us in our sorrow.

For us personally, with Grandpa's death, this is the end of an era. We have no more living grandparents. We don't know when or if or how often now we might even see most of our cousins who live far away. The glue that tied us all together is now gone. I can hardly even begin to really imagine life without any grandparents. It seems so strange. Yet as we grow older, I fear the days of no more living parents. That knocks the breath out of me and makes me want to sob like a little girl.

So we think of all the days gone by and reflect on all those childhood memories. And we wish we could go back and tell our childhood selves that the days are fleeting, don't just toss them to the wayside for the next thing to come along.

THIS was the last time we saw him. It breaks my heart we didn't get to see him over the past year. We were planning to go this past weekend. It hurts me so much to realize this. But with his dementia, honestly he wouldn't have really understood. And Elijah never would have remembered. It was more about seeing him, touching him, having the picture together with him. One last time. One fond farewell.

Elijah will never know our grandparents. That's so very, very sad. And he will never know his paternal grandpa [Tim's dad].

What a reminder it is to savor the moments. We truly never know when it could be the last for us or someone we love. How easy it is to simply go through the motions of daily living, forgetting that the most important things in life should matter to us every single day. It could be our last. We aren't meant to live in dread of dying, but we should count the days and know that we are one day's march closer to eternity.

Where will you spend eternity?

Without knowing fully that you have an answer to that question, my friend, the answer isn't a good one. Get right with God today and make sure you know that you know that you know Jesus, accept his free gift of salvation for dying on the cross for you, and commit your life to serving him today. I'd love to see you in heaven someday!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We Have a Walker!

Photo courtesy of his daycare teachers

We are unceasingly amazed at how much he's growing and changing!! So fast. He's been a rock star this past weekend, with flexibility and generally a good demeanor with traveling, messed up schedules, etc. Of course now that we're back home, he seems to be a mess and he misses my family as much as we do!

I'm so grateful. It's like he knew it was a hard, important weekend.

On another note, I'm much better today! I don't know how people just go, go, go, go. I love people and being around others, but I need "me" time too or I get cranky and hit empty. Been super busy today, but I'm so glad I was able to have a day to myself to recover. It was important to my sanity, and now that I can see straight and feel refreshed, I can get back into normal life. :) I needed my own tank filled back up.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Rough Week

Last week was super stressful at work with a stream of very important, big deadlines.

Tuesday night I got a phone call at 8 pm from my mom, just as we were putting Elijah down for bed. Her father, my grandpa, had passed away.

Gratefully he was 94 and had a solid, good, healthy, happy life. He was ready to go home to be with Jesus.

The past week has been a whirlwind of activity - from wrapping up work projects to traveling to reconnecting with family to a crazy schedule of here there and everywhere. We got back home mid-afternoon today.

This morning my dad's first cousin's son {so, my 2nd cousin} was killed in a tragic accident at a construction site {he was a construction worker}. I didn't personally know him, but I know his dad and I adore him.

Mostly I thought I was doing fairly well, all things considered, because my Grandpa truly had an extraordinary life and I know he's at peace with Jesus now.

But as we've come home and entered back into "normal" life... I feel a bit empty. I'm sad and still wrought with grief and an overwhelming sorrow for this world and those without the hope we have in Christ.

Just sharing random thoughts. All I know is the hope we have in Christ, and I'm so incredibly grateful for his love, mercy, grace, and care for us even in dark times. No matter what, it's always hard to lose people we love or are related to, and death doesn't get any easier to handle. 

Tonight I'm just really sad. Down to the core of my being. Grieving is such a hard process.....