Sunday, January 29, 2012

Roadtrip 2011!

This past fall. we decided to get brave (or possibly insane...?) and planned a road trip of epic preportions for our motley crew. We desperately wanted to see family but the thought of trying to keep 3 little rambunctious boys happy and regulated through 32+ hours of driving plus a week staying with family was a wee bit scary. (Yeah, major understatement there. We were petrified!) But we decided to try anyway. I spent weeks getting prepared. We rented a bigger van, each boy had a basket of entertainment that sat on the floor next to their seat, we had a huge selection of snacks, we had DVD players, hand held video games, books, stickers, colors, books on CD and headphones for each child. I packed minimal clothes, counting on layering clothes if it got really cold, and the fact we would have access to a washer and dryer.  (And I packed a pile of knitting to keep me sane and calm)

And so we set forth.....
Over the river and through the woods
To Grandmothers House we went.
(and Grandpa too!)

The boys on Thanksgiving Day, all dressed up and on their best behavior.

Chris and his father, two peas from the same pod. Some nuts don't fall far from the tree!

Seth was attached to Grandpa from the word GO. Grandpa didn't seem to mind that he suddenly developed a second shadow.

Levi watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, trying not to get too anxious to eat while smelling all the super yummy food!

Heading out to take hay bales to the cattle. Chris's parents live on a real working ranch deep in the heart of America. They are the salt of the earth, just like Chris. You couldn't ask to meet better people. 

Bye bye, off to feed hungry cattle!

Cousin Dustin challenges the motley crew to a Wii game (we brought our own Wii just to have something to entertain the crew when they grew restless. Brilliant idea! It entertained everyone!

The action in the danger zone. Food was coming out of everywhere. Home made breads and pastries, turkey, cookies, cakes, roasts, pizza and pasta, and a host of other gourmet goodies flowed out of this kitchen all week long. We didn't complain! It was the best cooking I have had in a long, long time!!!

We did a lot of relaxing. I have to say that as nervous as I was about this trip, I ended up being the most relaxed I have been in years. I felt like I had travelled a million miles away from my troubles and entered the home of perfect calm. The boys were well behaved and happy, we didn't stress about anything, and it was the most rest I can remember getting since I had kids. Seriously, it was better than any spa!

More food and family. Oh, and the laughing! Chris's family is hysterical! They had me laughing so hard my ribs are still sore!!!!!!

The end result was that the trip was the treasure of a lifetime. Good memories, good family, great food and many, many laughs. The bonfire at Uncle Randy's and Aunt Carla's. The visit to the dam nature center, even eating at the big buffet in town with the chocolate fountain. The boys still talk about it. The drive was even fine! We drove straight back (almost 17 hours) because the kids were sick and we needed to get back in time to get them to the doctor. No one whined, cried or got mad, not even once! We didn't even have to stop very often. It was a true blue miracle!!!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hmmm, let's see...

What has been happening around here lately....

Legos have multiplied and now cover nearly all horizontal surfaces. Are they related to Tribbles (from Star trek the original)

Somehow one large dog has decided that the bestest place to sleep in the entire house is on top of me. I wake up pinned to the bed and stiff and sore. Great, the dog loves me!

The ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy Seth has been receiving has opened a floodgate of emotions. Now that he understands emotions and has a name for them, we are seeing many emotions flow out of him each day. This is a wonderful thing, but also very trying. Having a child who cries and whines all day long is exhausting! One minute he is clinging to my leg like a toddler and the next his anger flares and he is kicking the wall, all with little or no provocation. Still, I am proud of him for working through these emotions. He can tell me what he is feeling now and actually talk about it. Amazing!

Work is amazingly busy and rewarding. Each breakthrough gives me goosebumps and nearly reduces me to tears. I am registered to get my certification this year, a tough and demanding process. Wish me luck! I have written essay questions, a written exam and oral exam to complete by October. I am super-psyched to get this certification!

Kaytee begins her first semester at Texas A&M in a few days. She is registered for 5 classes, has her books and has studied the campus bus schedule. She did it all on her own. I am so proud and yet so sad. My baby doesn't need my help. Aw heck, I am just so proud!

Ashley has already earned her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate this year as a junior in high school. She is now working on an EMT certification and a Pharmacy Tech certification. She should have both by the time she graduates at the end of next year. She attends a special school in Dallas for kids interested in medical careers. By the time she is 18 years old she will be more certified than many adults in the work force. Can you say 'Overachiever'?

Ahren is going to see a diagnostic/genetics specialist soon. The last specialist agreed 'something' is really wrong, but never could define it. His last idea was to wait and see if he has new symptoms or detiorates further. Yeah, I can't sit by and wait for that! I'll keep you posted.

Levi has had a sudden burst in independence. He gets himself up in the morning, gets dressed, and brushes his teeth. He can also take a shower (complete with appropriate soapage) and get his pj's on all by himself. The only problem is that the child has absolutely no fashion sense. I hate to correct him and make him him feel bad so I am forced to let him go to school dressed in bright blue track pants and a green/brown camo shirt. At least the clothes are clean.....

Oh, one last member of the family I failed to mention. My sweet teddy-bear of a husband is still the love of my life, my rock, my soft spot to fall and the funniest man I know. I know you are jealous!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Doctors can be WRONG!

  Oh my sweet Ashley. She has unfortunately inherited a thyroid disorder from my side of the family that causes weight gain, lethargy, enlarged thyroid/goiter, dry skin, hair loss, problems concentrating and depression. This disorder is well-documented in my family. If left untreated, or poorly treated the end result is a life-threatening enlargement of the thyroid gland that restricts the airway and esophagus, and cancer of the thyroid.

  The normal blood tests that look at thyroid function look perfectly normal in those suffering this disorder, because the assays only look at the presence of the hormone. Unfortunately, in our family, the hormone is there but non-functional. Normal blood work, no active hormone equals bad news.

  Ashley was diagnosed at the age of 8 years old with this disorder and began treatment. The treatment helped immensely and her symptoms resolved. Unfortunately (I am using that word a lot!) her doctors after she moved to Dallas failed to increase the dose as she grew and had a very poor understanding of the disease.

  Fast forward to the present. Her general doctor has a vague understanding of the issues and agreed that continued medication was called for, but since this was not his area of expertise, he wanted her to see a pediatric endocrinologist. It took 9 months to get her into one, and then the fun began. (Heavy note of sarcasm)

  First of all, after the med student spent 20 minutes getting a detailed history, the doctor failed to look at any of it. She waltzed into the room, her lab coat flapping open to reveal very low hung tight jeans and a tight tee shirt that rode up revealing her abdomen and tattoos. (WTF?) She then proceeded to spend 4 minutes listening to the abbreviated history and reason Ash was there, then proclaimed that all the other doctors were wrong. Ashley did NOT have a thyroid problem, it was probably something else and she needed to get off meds right away. So Ashley weaned off of the support and began to feel like crap, gain weight, and struggle with overwhelming tiredness.

  I made many phone calls trying to explain our family history to the nurses or doctor. All I got was the run-around. So since i couldn't be at her next appointment, I wrote out a very detailed summary of the family history, what the genetic basis was for the disorder, how to test accurately for it, and how to treat it effectively. I was as detailed and informative as I could be.

  Yesterday, they had the follow-up appointment. The doctor argued with everything I had written and said it 'couldn't possibly' be the same thing her aunt and grandmother suffered from because that was just too rare. OMG WTF ^^&($*%*#$&&^^&)(&*^DFC!!!! I have no words for Doctor Hussy. if you have a strong family history of a condition, and the child exhibits every single symptom of the disorder and has previously been diagnosed with the disorder then treated for it and it improved, how in the heck can you even begin to think it is NOT that?

  I am preparing to write a letter of complaint to both her superiors and the AMA. This is criminal. If left untreated, Ashley will suffer her entire life and possibly face cancer, life threatening conditions and many surgeries. All because Doctor Hussy is stuck in  her own mind set.

I want to slap that woman silly. Or worse. Much worse. Needless to say, we are seeking out a new endocrinologist.

Monday, January 02, 2012

2012 Hooray!

  A new year filled with hopes and dreams, resolutions and promises, and lots and lots of cooped up kiddos! We are lucky here this time of year. It has been mild and sunny allowing us to get the boys out of the house and physically active every day. I have been taking them on long walks. Our route covers two miles and goes up and down gentle hills. Boys and dogs are all tired by the time we arrive back home. Yesterday we walked it once in the morning and again in the late afternoon. Poor Ahren was so tired on the second walk that I literally dragged him the last mile. It is so much harder for him but he didn't complain. He was a trooper! Afterwards his poor little legs were so tired I sat him in a warm bath to soothe them. It is very important to keep him as active as possible to maintain as much muscle as we can.
  We take the two boxers on the walks and they are extremely well behaved, even the puppy! The boys, on the other hand, seem oblivious to my commands that they get out of the middle of the street, stop picking up trash, and stay out of the muddy ditches. Boys....maybe I should have put the leashes on them instead of the dogs! (Oooh that is sooo tempting.....hahahah)

  The week following Christmas went so much smoother than the previous week. I think the anticipation brought out the worst in my munchkins. There were many instances of pinching, hitting, kicking, name calling and even a chopstick stabbing (more of a poke). By the time the big day arrived I had lost every shred of my patience and was ready to push the tree over and run away. Christmas day was very pleasant and say I was shocked is an understatement. They shared and laughed and played happily together all day, and the next day and the next and so on. I am actually sad that they go back to school tomorrow and I have to return to work. This has been a lovely week.

  Therapy has been really helping Seth. He is starting to process some of the things that have hurt him in the past and is talking more and more about his feelings. It's always amazing when he has a breakthrough and also incredibly sad. He has made such amazing progress. In fact, when he has a breakthrough now there is very little fallout afterwards. His 'behaviors' are now limited to poor impulse control including the pinching, hitting, etc (minor offenses but without sufficient provocation) and lying. His teacher is working with us on both of these issues and she holds him to a pretty tough standard. That is great because he is a super-smarty who quickly figures out how to work the system.  If she acted like she felt in the least bit sorry for him, he would run with it. Instead, he is treated fairly and just like all the other kids. There is no gray area, the consequences are black and white. He responds best to this approach.

  One of these days I will actually catch up on my posts and pictures, but for now I am just moving forward. Forward feels good. Really good.

 Now it's off to scour the boys bathroom, a job that probably should require a hazmat suit. I swear, how can three little boys make such a mess. I have scrubbed the toilet so much the coating has worn off the seat. I am so glad I re-painted the walls with gloss paint that is super-washable because I am constantly washing all sorts of nastiness off of them. Dirty fingerprints, mud, toad-slime, you name it. The best idea would have been to build a floor drain into that bathroom and just epoxy-coat every surface, add a large industrial sprayer nozzle to the sink and be able to hose it down like an animal cage. In fact, I could hose the boys and the bathroom off at the same time! A brilliant idea if I do say so myself!!!!