Saturday, February 22, 2014

Andrew Turns Nine!

We go a good eight months every year with out a kid's birthday around here.  From February until June we celebrate six birthdays.  We've got one in February, three in April and two in June.  Andrew is our February guy, being born at 2:21am on 2/21!

He turned nine this year.  I know all parents say it, but I truly can't believe it.  Nine.  He's such a great kid too.  He's got a great sense of humor, a great sense of compassion and he's super intelligent.  He spent his entire week all revved up for his special day.

I think it started pretty well too.  Andrew lost a tooth about five days prior.  The tooth fairy decided to hold out and give him a really awesome birthday gift.  He woke up to a $20 bill under his pillow.  He was so excited and told all of his friends at school!  He said that they didn't believe him!  I was so glad that his day started off so happy!

When he got home from school (so lucky his birthday was on a Friday!) the first thing he wanted to do was play video games.  We have that pretty restricted around here, so it was such a special treat for him to be able to play and hang out with his brothers while his Dad and I prepared his requested meal.

For those who may not know, we allow our children to pick their birthday meals and desserts.  Andrew's had some really awesome requests in the past.  When he was just three years old he requested orange roughy.   Another year he requested fettuccine alfredo.  This year he requested pasta salad with strawberries and cinnamon apple sauce.  He didn't want a cake either.  For his dessert he wanted root beer floats.  I thought this was the coolest idea!

I decided though to make him some cupcakes anyway.  Candles don't exactly sit well in a root beer float.  I had those all ready to go when he got home from school.  He asked me, "Mom, what are these for?".  I got a kick out of it because it was pretty obvious they were for him!

While the boys were off playing their games, I snapped a couple photos of my other trouble makers.  Quentin, of course, wants to always be up in everything.  Trying to "help".  Which usually ends up in some frustration on my part because he's grabbing just about everything he sees on the counter, all of which he most definitely shouldn't have.  But the little guy is so friggin' cute that you just can't stay mad!

Then there's Miss Mallory.  She just kicks it in her high chair.  Checking out what's going on around her.  Chewing on her rings.  I can't wait until we can do all of this for her first birthday!

After Andrew's wonderful pasta salad dinner, we did his treasure hunt.  Another tradition around here.  It also helps save on wrapping paper!  We ask the kids in advance if they want their gifts wrapped or if they'd like a treasure hunt.  I don't think I've had any kid in probably five years request wrapping.  They LOVE the treasure hunts.  Andrew got some pretty cool stuff.  He got a coupe of the Halo Megablok sets he wanted, a Lego Galaxy Squad set he's been dying for, a Rainbow Loom book (packed with all the tutorials on how to make a ton of bracelets) and a Rainbow Loom storage container.  He was one happy kid!

Once treasure hunt time was over, it was onto dessert.  All the kids really enjoyed the root beer floats.  I'm really glad he picked that!

We sang happy birthday with a candle in his cupcakes...

 and then a final photo of the boys saying, "Cheers!".  Happy Birthday, Andrew!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Distractions and a Birthday Celebration!

I've been working very hard lately to try and preoccupy my thoughts.  Keep myself busy and as calm as possible.  We've got a lot of things on our plates coming up that are making me quite anxious.  So distractions are very welcomed.

I watched two of my boys write out their Valentine's cards last week and get excited about their school parties.  Of course Quentin wanted in on the action.  Even though he couldn't write out any Valentine's he had a blast trying on some temporary tattoos!  Of course, in true Quentin fashion, he spent the remainder of the night trying to scratch them all off.

The evening before Valentine's Day I waited until all the kids were in bed, including Tyler, and baked them some cupcakes.  I set up a nice little treat for them to get up to in the morning.  This isn't something I get to do often, so I was happy to do something I knew the kids would love!

I attempted a little Valentine's shoot for Mallory, but she just wasn't having it.  Clearly.  I think she's catching on to this whole camera thing.  I eventually got a decent iPhone picture of her though, so that was nice.

Come night time though, we had to head out to Children's for her sleep study.  Let me tell you, the look of betrayal on her face after she was all hooked up was priceless.  She actually fell asleep with that look on her face.  She did pretty well during the sleep study.  She woke up once, I have no clue what time.  I have this thing where if I look at a clock when one of my kids wakes up at night I know it'll say it's like ten minutes until I have to wake up.  I figure if I don't know how much longer I have to sleep I can lay back down and fall asleep and even if it is actually ten more minutes, it feels like longer and I'm not grouchy about it.  I'm kinda weird like that.  Anyway, come 5am she was up again for good and they shuffled us out of there by 6.

My mom came for a little visit over the weekend.  We got a chance to all just hang out for a bit and have some lunch.  Nicholas and Quentin decided it would be fun to wear their happy meal boxes on their heads.  It's amazing how such a simple thing can be so fun!  They ran around like that for quite a while!  My mom also brought a birthday gift for Andrew, who will be turning 9 on Friday.  He's really into all of that Rainbow Loom stuff, which admittedly is pretty fun!  She brought him a bunch of new rubber bands and another loom.  Frank and I had bought him a book on how to make different bracelets, so we decided to give it to him early so he could play with all the new things from Grandma.  He really had a blast and I even made myself a little bracelet!

This week is pretty quite for the most part.  No doctor's appointments.  Well, I guess that's kind of a lie.  Jeremiah is going to be getting his eyes checked on Wednesday.  He's been complaining he can't always see things on the chalkboard at school, so it might be time for glasses.  It was really only a matter of time.  Both Frank and I wear glasses and pretty much everyone in our families wear glasses.  I'd be surprised if he didn't need them.  Is it weird that I'm a little excited though?  I actually love glasses.  They almost become a form of self expression.  Choosing glasses always seems so important!

Anyway, we'll be wrapping up the week with Andrew's little birthday celebration on Friday.  I know he's super excited!  For his birthday dinner he's requested pasta salad, cinnamon apple sauce and strawberry salad.  For dessert he didn't ask for cake or pie, he wants root beer floats!  I thought that was a pretty cool idea.  Although I think I'll make some cupcakes for him anyway!  I can't believe he's going to be 9!  Time sure does fly!!

The quietness of this week though feels like a calm.  Almost an uneasy calm.  The closer we get to Monday, the more anxious I am feeling.  No amount of distraction seems to be helping.  I even nabbed myself a mid week photo shoot to try and have something else to do.  I'm trying to stay positive and tough.  Like she's just going to walk through surgery without any surprises.  This is Mallory we are talking about though and everything with her seems to be a surprise!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Quentin's Super Ears

Today was an interesting day.  Never in a million years did I think I'd be taking my two year old in to be fitted for his first pair of hearing aids.  Although, we'll be calling them his super ears.  Much better suited for the little guy!

This all started a couple months ago when I took him for a hearing screening.  I had been concerned about his hearing for quite some time, especially since his speech is delayed.  I finally got him in and he failed the screening.  We were referred for further testing at Children's.  After a couple of appointments and various tests, we found out that Quentin has lost about half of his hearing.  We aren't sure why or how but we know that we can now try and do something about it.  

When I was driving up to Children's this morning I wasn't sure what to expect.  Would Quentin be happy?  Would he be scared?  Would he cry?  Would the hearing aids work?  Would we notice a difference right away?  So many questions.

We arrived and this little kid had lots of spring to his steps.  In the waiting room he was hopping from chair to chair looking out the window at all of the cars.  Totally unaware that those things were about to get louder to him.

The doctor called us in and Quentin took off running.  He remembered from last time not to run too far ahead and would turn and check to make sure we were following.  He actually remembered the way to the screening room, which wasn't the room we were going to, but it was pretty impressive!

Once we got him reigned into the correct room, I began to learn about Quentin's new ears.  How to clean them, how to change batteries, how they would help him to hear better.  Then it was time to try them on.  One of the nurses took some video for me to share with Frank since he couldn't be there today.  This kinda sums up how he felt about it.

After the doctor tested them for some feedback I turned him towards me and was telling him what a good job he was doing.  I'll never forget the look on his face, it was confused but it was like it was the first time he was really hearing my voice.  I wanted to cry but I just kept on smiling so that he knew that this was a-okay!

I let him get down off of my lap and let him play for a little bit while I finished up talking to the doctor.

He pressed the button on one of the toy trucks in the room and was surprised to hear it make a sound. He had been playing with it before the hearing aids were put in and I don't think he realized it made noise.

When we finally left I still wasn't sure what to expect for the rest of our day.  The fitting hadn't gone all that well.  He wasn't pestering his new ears though, so I thought there could be some hope.

He fell asleep on the car ride home.  As a treat for being so good, I stopped at McDonald's and got him a happy meal.  He was all smiles once we got home!  (He got a really sweet cup from the Lego movie too!)  When I was going in and out of the garage door bringing Mallory's bags in he turned around every time and said, "Hi!".  It was awesome!

From that point on I spent some time trying to figure out how well those super ears were working.  He seemed quite happy for the rest of the afternoon.  I would ask him questions and he was actually saying "yes".  Something he doesn't do often.  I also noticed him trying to repeat things I was saying! 

The icing on the cake of the day for me was at dinner time.  We had sloppy joes.  Tyler cut Quentin's joe into 4 pieces.  Quentin ate one and then started pointing at the apple sauce.  I told him no apple sauce until he ate at least one more quarter of his sandwich.  He whined and complained for a little bit, but then he did it!  I was so surprised!  Getting him to eat different things has been challenging but now I can actually give him options and he can understand!  

There's still going to be a learning curve, I know that.  He points to his ears every so often and says "ow".  I'm not sure if something is actually hurting or he's just saying that because it feels different.  I'm hopeful though that this is the start of getting this kiddo talking much more and behaving much better too.  

All in all, I saw a happy little Quentin today with his new super ears!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My Day in Photos....

Things in my life lately have felt very chaotic.  Mallory's demands have consumed a lot of my time and energy and now we've added Quentin's hearing loss to the mix.  Often I feel like my other kids aren't getting as much of my time as they really need.  When I'm not shuffling around to doctors appointments or talking on the phone with doctors, the insurance company or equipment companies I'm dead tired.  Whatever energy I can muster up goes towards making sure there's a hot meal on the table at dinner time, that Mallory's cares are being done daily and that my kids get out the door for school on time every day.

Cleaning falls to the wayside on most days.  I don't eat or sleep well.  And on top of it all, when I have to run my photography business at the same time, I feel very overwhelmed.  I want to be one of those super moms that can manage the kids, the meals, the running around, the special needs child and the job all at the same time.  It's proven quite difficult.  

I've decided to take a step back.  Slow down my business for now.  Do what I need to do for my family.  I don't want to toot my own horn, but I'm what keeps us all moving every day.  I have to be on my game all of the time and not too overwhelmed.  I have to enjoy my family and make sure they are my priority 100% of the time.  I know I'm still going to feel overwhelmed quite often but knowing that I'm choosing them and focusing on them more than anything else energizes me.  Especially with what's to come very soon.  We're gearing up for Mallory's first cranial surgery.  It's going to take a toll on all of us.

I've also decided that I'm going to blog more (I know I've said this before, but hopefully I don't lie this time.).  I'm going to take more pictures of my own kids.  I don't do it enough.  I'm going to stop worrying about what the perfect thing to write about is.  If it's too serious or funny or stupid.  I'm just going to share.  

So, all that said, I introduce my blog for today.  My day in photos.  I wanted to start this on Saturday, but it didn't work out as planned.  We actually took the whole family out (Tyler excluded as he was with his dad).  I woke up in the morning and decided I didn't want to just sit around all day.  I also decided that I was tired of being scared of taking Mallory out of the house.  It's a fear I have to get over at some point.  We packed everyone up as best as we could and traveled to Jewel and picked up Mallory's prescriptions.  Then we hunted for a place to eat lunch.  The boys wanted Culvers but when we got there the parking lot was so jam packed we just couldn't justify squeezing ourselves in there.  We drove around a bit more and decided on Taco Bell.  Not really my top pick, but the kids enjoyed it.  Especially the cinnamon twists.  Who doesn't enjoy cinnamon twists?  Then we went to Walmart to do some grocery shopping.  I was too busy with my list and making sure our two carts of children and groceries made it out alive to stop and take photos.

Today I took my camera out more determined.  Even though we didn't go anywhere I wanted to document my day.  So, with out further ado, here they are.  (Photos copyright of Cathy Broz Photography.)

I woke up to my sweet ray of sunshine.  Always happy and ready to play!

My husband took Quentin for a hair cut.  I tried to cut it myself a couple weeks ago but didn't have a comb to work with... or hair cutting talent.  So we left it to a pro.

He came home with a balloon!

Then it was time to give the little lady a bath and do a trach change.  She was extra stinky today, so a bath was well needed! 

 Lunch time!!  Woohoo!!

 The boys decided to wave those hands in the air... wave em' like they just don't care!

 Quentin wanted to give out some high fives!

After all that fun I decided it was my turn to go out.  I ran to Target to grab some Valentine's goodies. I picked up a couple new shirts and a high chair for Mallory.  We've been needing a new one but her therapist gave me the kick start I needed last week.  It's not built yet, but, you know... there's always tomorrow.

 By the time I got back from Target it was time to start dinner!  I swear, not enough hours in the day!

Tonight, Chef Mom prepared a Smoked Sausage Pasta with Green Peppers.  It was tasty!

 While I was cooking, Quentin decided it was a good time to take a nap.  Of course it made it near impossible to put him to bed this evening!!

Tyler loves playing with his little brother!  Especially if it means avoiding his chores! ;)

Finally, Quentin sleeps.  Not in his own bed mind you, but he's cozy on the couch until Mommy carries him to bed!

Mallory is all set for the night too!  Finishing up her feeding and then lights out!

There you have it.  My day in pictures!  I hope to do something like this a little more often.  I enjoyed it!!

Have a great week everyone!