Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Saturday Fun

Oh January, we are thankful for the immense amount of rain you brought, but, wow, we have been waiting (and waiting!) for some sunshine.  Yesterday the clouds finally cleared and the sky was filled with blue.  Nate was working, but it was clear that we all were anxious to take advantage of a dry day.  So the kids and I headed down to the farmer's market on Sutter Street to explore and just get OUT. 

We've been sending Nate way too many "wish you were here" texts lately, including this one. 
We sure miss him at this time of year especially but are so thankful for his dedication to his career and our family.

After ice cream at Snook's we explored Sutter Street and walked across the old bridge.  The boys climbed rocks, big dirt hills and threw rocks into the water.  Just completely ordinary stuff, but oh my, all of us were happy to be outside and together.

A week ago our family reached another 100 days of reading the Book of Mormon.  After a short family council to discuss how to celebrate we settled on a trip to the arcade.

 This was a first for both Luke and Noah.  While they didn't entirely know what to expect, their excitement was immense.  
I think both Noah and Luke were most excited about an arcade version of Mario Kart.  They love playing it when K.C. comes to town, but to have their own steering wheel, brake and gas control was, as Noah put it, 'epic.'  

 Most of the games that we chose didn't give tickets, so at the end of our time we only had 50.  But just minutes apart three different people approached us and offered up their tickets that they didn't need.  Suddenly we went from 50 to 2500 tickets.  It was amazing.  Noah and Luke just kept picking out more items to take home. 

We are so thankful for those 'arcade angels' for further impressing upon our kids that good choices bring rewards, even unexpected ones.  Right now we've got some very motivated scripture readers who can't wait to get to another 100 days.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

There is Joy in Everything!

"Enjoy the moments, large and small.  There is joy in everything."

That note from a dear, inspired friend, BJ Warnick, arrived in my mailbox about a year ago with the most darling blanket for our new baby girl.  If ever there was an inspired message for a specific time it was this one.

I first met BJ in 2005.  She was traveling to Zambia as a volunteer for the first time, and I was her team leader.  BJ is many things: insightful and intuitive, smart, generous, and a whole lot of fun.  All of those traits and so many more are perfectly surrounded with immense love.  I felt it in Africa, and oh my, did those kids in Zambia know it.

It's been a long time, too long, since I've seen BJ.  But something inspired her last January to fill my mailbox with exactly what I needed.  Nate's busiest busy season was in full swing, and he was in the middle of being out of town for five weeks.  I was a mix (or mess maybe) of emotions.  My five and three year old wanted more time with their mom than they were getting.  I wanted that too, and I really wanted more quality time with them.  Our sweet new baby wanted to eat all day and all night long, and it seemed like I was wading through crumbs and dust as the house just continually didn't get clean.  Oh, and I was exhausted.  Fractured, insufficient sleep is a beast of its own, and I was losing that battle.

I haven't been shy about saying 2016 was rough, quite possibly the most challenging year I've had, and definitely the most exhausting.  But let it be said that challenging and miserable are not synonymous!  It was a wonderful, fun year!  I love looking back at the blog entries from 2016 and really remembering how magical it was. 

So back to that note.  It was the most perfect message at the perfect time for this mama:
"Enjoy the moments large and small.  There is joy in everything."

I determined before Leah was even born that I'd appreciate and hold on to the many sweet, but fleeting moments with her.  It was my last go at a newborn.  This precious time needed to be cherished and remembered.  BJ's note was the constant reminder I needed to keep perspective, stay positive, and just carry on in joy.

I can't begin to count how many times I recited those words.  In the middle of the night there most definitely was joy rocking and snuggling my otherwise perfect screaming baby.  As the boys argued about a toy they both had to have at the exact same time, there was joy in teaching them to solve problems with words and love, and joy that we actually have fun toys to play with.  And there was most definitely joy in Nate being gone so much (well, maybe).  He was working to provide, so that I could live this life and dream of being a mom to Noah, Luke and Leah.  And, he wasn't around to see the crazy newborn life that was sometimes swallowing me up!

So much joy.

A year later that note is still on my fridge, and I have no plans to take it down.  So thanks BJ.  Thanks for giving me a theme for 2016: there is joy in everything.  It helped carry me through my first year as a mom of three, and it's still giving me great perspective as a new version of crazy unfolds each day.

Life is so good.  Our blessings overfloweth.  And joy is everywhere.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Surgery Update

Noah's surgery went great!  

His hearing won't be retested until February, but our own observation is that there's definitely been an improvement.  He isn't asking for the t.v. volume to be turned up, we are purposely talking more quietly and he still hears us, and our smoke alarm went off the other day and he freaked out.  There were tears and some screaming involved.  The poor kid has never heard how loud the smoke alarm really is!

I can't say enough that I am thankful for skilled doctors nurses who love kids and know exactly how to make them feel comfortable in a rather uncomfortable, unfamiliar situation.  We felt completely at ease as Noah was wheeled off to the operating room and we were guided to the waiting area.  The hardest part was seeing him in recovery after the surgery and just waiting for him to wake up.  But once he started to stir, he was immediately wide awake.

After a little observation and a popsicle we were discharged.  Noah was given the option of a wheelchair or race car to be taken to the car.  He was thrilled with this choice.
It's been smooth sailing so far since the surgery.  Hopefully this is exactly what those little ears needed to hear and take in the sounds of the world.  I'm anxious for February to find out more!

Monday, January 2, 2017

By Small and Simple Things

According to Noah, "Today I get my ears fixed!"  It's been a longer road than I would have liked to get us to this point, but today Noah is having tubes put in.

Last winter his ability to hear seemed to decrease: when watching t.v., when we were trying to get his attention, just about any time really.  A visit to his doctor confirmed that he had some decreased hearing, but, according to a simple test, nothing significant.  It was recommend that we return in six weeks to retest.  Another test, and another six weeks after that one showed the same thing.  But I trusted (too much, I realize looking back on it) his pediatrician that the hearing issue was minor and would probably resolve once the cold season was over.

Fast forward to October when Noah got his first cold and once again couldn't hear well at all.  His pediatrician put me off again, but after a second visit we finally got a referral to audiology and ENT.

Just a few weeks ago we visited the Audiology department at UC Davis for a hearing screening.  They were so great.  Noah was totally comfortable, and did a great job as the assessment took place.
When the audiologist came out of the room she said, "Well, this is surprising."  In that moment I interpreted her comment as, "Awesome! It's not bad at all.  Just a little extra ear wax maybe?"

But she quickly followed up with, "How's he doing in school?"  I responded with, "Great.  At the top of his class."

She continued, "Wow, because it is extremely rare that we see a kid with this level of hearing loss who isn't speech or learning delayed.  He has developed some really impressive compensation skills."

She proceeded to go through all of the results, and it sure was surprising.  Summarized, his right ear is a little worse than the left, but they are both not hearing well at all, even in the 'normal' range.  A test given indicated that it's all related to fluid (his diagnosis is conductive hearing loss) and not something that would require a hearing aid.  So there's good news!

The next week we met with Dr. Funamura at ENT.  She reiterated and agreed with everything the audiologist had said and also remarked how uncommon it is for a kid Noah's age to have made it this far, doing so well, without hearing much.  This boy is remarkable for so many reasons. 

Nate and I had already decided before the appointment that tubes were the way to go, so the doctor got a quick yes when she recommended the procedure.  Noah and I went through the pre-op paperwork, met with the surgery scheduler, and headed back home.

This two week wait for surgery has seemed to take forever.  Once I knew how horrible Noah's hearing is I wanted it resolved immediately.  He's missing out on so many beautiful, amazing sounds in the world around him!

I've had a mixed bag of feelings: as a mom advocating for my kids is paramount, especially at this stage while they're so young.  I should have relied less on the pediatrician's judgement last winter and pushed him harder for a referral than I did. I wish I wouldn't have trusted a doctor's opinion and recommendation quite so much.

But mostly I'm immensely grateful that this small, simple procedure should significantly improve Noah's hearing.  In fact, both the audiologist and ENT said it's likely that Noah will be hypersensitive to sound for a while, until he adjusts to really hearing all of the sounds, loud or soft, around him.

And my mind can't help but think about a little boy somewhere in Zambia, or anywhere else in the world, who has fluid behind his ear drum too and has gotten used to hearing everything at a very low volume just like Noah.  And that little boy, wherever he is, will never have a hearing test, never meet with an ENT doctor, and never have access to surgery that will change the way he takes in the sounds of the world around him.

We are so blessed.  And that's what I'm trying to stay focused on when those feelings of frustration and nervousness for our kid's first surgery creep in.  Noah is brave, we've prayed and know it's the right thing, and now we just wait and have hope for the best results possible!

Finishing up 2016

Just a few random pictures that finished up December.  There are so, SO many pictures of silly faces on my phone.  Usually it's the boys taking selfies, but this time Nate jumped in too.

Nate and the boys snuck in a bike ride on Christmas Eve day.

 They almost rode all the way to Grandma and Grandpa's house, but decided to save that for another day.  Soon!

We spent the last few days of the year in Tahoe, with very few pictures to show for it.  That will happen when you're occupied with littles, the littlest STILL hates sleeping at the cabin, and you're just enjoying being with everyone so much that the camera stays put.

But this picture from the drive home kind of sums it up: exhausted brothers who played and PLAYED in the snow and a baby sister who is interested in anything except sleeping.

We decided to take advantage of the all wheel drive in Nate's new car, so it was a little tighter than the van, but still worked for our three in the backseat.

I 'thoughtfully' created a divider with pillows so each of the boys would have their own side of the bed.  But when I went to check on them they were snuggled up together. 
 We couldn't get enough of Leah's cousin-twin Charlie.  Why does Cleveland have to be so far away?  It's so fun seeing how similar these two are because they are so close in age.  We heard lots of the same sounds from them and occasionally even their cries sounded the same.
 Leah wouldn't sit still, Charlie almost choked on a chip, but it was still a great dinner with our favorite people. 
This girl LOVES wearing sunglasses.

After being sick with the flu for WAY too long, the Birons finally made it from Bakersfield.  We loved time at the cabin, but couldn't wait to get back to Folsom to meet up with them.  I just loved that Grandma Pebley chose the grandkids table as her place to sit at our New Year's Day dinner. 
We tried to get a cousins picture, but they were all so busy and wiggly!
 Leah and Grandma.
 Leah Evelyn and her Great Grandma Evelyn.  I love pictures of these two 'Evelyns' together.