We were thrown into some intense parenting when Johnny was born almost three years ago. The learning curve was steep and we had to run to keep up. Parenting Johnny required knowledge of things I never could have imagined I would need as a parent, like how to change a colostomy bag, or how to nurse a baby without pulling out his hearing aids, and what a left superior vena cava is. I remember feeling so overwhelmed by the information being hurled at me, like parenting would never be normal, or easy. (Little did I know, parenting is always crazy, no matter your circumstances). But the Lord was requiring of me something different than what I had imagined, and I had no choice but to rise up and face it full on.
And you know what? I survived! We all did.
Facebook recently reminded me that Johnny had his (hopefully) last GI surgery two years ago. It seemed like we would never be done with that colostomy bag, but now it's a distant memory.
Then things settled down for us quite a bit. Johnny started speech therapy, and we've had to deal with some pretty bad diaper rash. But aside from that, parenting has been pretty "normal" these last 2 years.
I liked that things were going well and we didn't have to worry about anything, and that life was going the way I expected it to. So when Johnny stopped hearing this fall I think I didn't want to admit it.
It's easy to blame things on toddler-hood.
He's not responding to us because he's a toddler.
He throws a lot of tantrums because he's a toddler.
Speech therapy isn't going well because he's a toddler.
What was really going on though was that fluid was collecting behind his ear drums and not draining, taking his hearing loss from mild-moderate to profoundly deaf. He hasn't been hearing us. And the thing that kills me is that we have no idea how long it's been going on. We do know that in September his ear drums were working normally. And then in December they weren't.
He was referred to get ear tubes, and after the referral it took almost 6 weeks to get it done. So worst case scenario, he went four months without hearing. But now he's got his ear tubes, the ENT said she drained a ton of thick, goopy fluid, so that's good. We still have some follow up testing to do, but it's looking good.
So here's the part where I'm still learning how to be a parent.
Around the time Trixie was born I began to suspect that he wasn't hearing. But I didn't say anything or schedule any tests because no one else noticed it. That was my first mistake. You can't wait for the experts and the professionals to tell you that something's wrong, because they don't know your kid like you do. You have to speak up for them.
Then, when we finally did figure out that he wasn't hearing us it took SO LONG to do something about it. Everyone is booked out so far. And that brings me to my second mistake. I was afraid of being impolite. Maybe it's Minnesota Nice, maybe it's German Passive-Aggressiveness. Whatever it is, I don't want to inconvenience anyone or ruffle any feathers. So when I called to schedule a consultation for the ear tubes and the ENT was booked out 3 weeks I said "ok, that's fine!" But after one week of scrambling to learn some sign language to use with Johnny and seeing how eager he was to communicate I knew it was not fine.
I was back on the phone with the scheduler, pleading for something sooner, expecting to be denied, when she said, "Are you free tomorrow at noon?"
Parents, you gotta speak up for your kids, even though it may be annoying or inconvenient for someone else. As the old adage goes, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."
The consultation held no surprises, Johnny was declared a candidate for ear tubes. Then it was me and the scheduler again, trying to find a date when we could do the tubes and an ABR hearing test at the same time. He needs to be sedated for both, so it makes sense to do them during the same appointment and avoid a second sedation. But because this would involve the ENT and the Audiologist, scheduling was tricky and the earliest availability was four weeks out.
Four more weeks of him not hearing.
I had this nagging feeling that maybe in this case it would be better to sedate him twice to get the ear tubes in sooner, but it took me three days to do anything about it. I called our pediatrician (aka Alex's dad) to see what he thought and he agreed with me, we should get the tubes in right away and worry about the ABR test later. I called the scheduler on more time, was annoying one more time, and she got us an appointment one week later.
So I guess this is what I'm still learning about being a parent: You have to trust your gut and speak up for your child, because no one can advocate for them as well as you can. And don't worry about inconveniencing someone in the process, because that doesn't matter. Usually people are happy to help. But you have to speak up first.
We survived the black hole of the 4th trimester just in time to jump into the black hole of January. Alex is back in class, it's been absolutely arctic around here (on a few days, technically sub-arctic), and Johnny gets a little stir crazy from all the staying indoors. But at least Trixie has transformed from a fussy newborn who needs to be bounced constantly to a very happy infant who takes 3 hour naps. Yay Trixie!
Also, those ears!!
I didn't make any resolutions at the start of the New Year. But the weekend before Alex started class again, when my anxiety was mounting and a knot of dread was growing larger and larger in my stomach, I decided I needed a resolution for the semester, and it is this: to work on my attitude. When the days are long and lonely, and the job of mom never ends, it's easy for me to get into negative mindsets, and to feel sorry for myself. Yes, things are crazy-hard sometimes. I can't control how long the kids will nap, I can't control Johnny's toddler tantrums, I can't control Alex's study load and how much time he will get to spend with us, but I can control my own attitude and how I react to all those things. If I can keep a good attitude it makes everything go so much more smoothly. So that's what I'm going to do. That's what I'm going to try to do.
I had some pretty big plans for knitting projects over Christmas break, and I only completed one of them. But it was an adult-sized sweater, so that's pretty good I guess. I made this sweater for my mom! She picked out the yarn and the pattern and I knitted it up to say thanks for all the babysitting she does for my while I teach piano lessons. I think it turned out pretty nice!
P.S. those photos were taken on a day when Johnny styled his hair with Vaseline. Thus the crazy.
Another thing that happened over Christmas break, which I totally did not see coming, was that I got really into The Walking Dead! Who, me? Yeah! Totally weird.
Alex has been watching that show for the last few years. I thought it would be way too scary for me, so it's always been the show that he watches when I'm not around. He was catching up on the most recent season over his break, and every now and then I would come in during the last few minutes of an episode. I ended up being drawn into the story and the characters, so I watched the last two episodes of season 5 with him. And when they were over, I wanted to go back and watch from the beginning. So I did!
It is scary, and it is pretty gory. It's a zombie show after all. But it's not really about zombies, it's about the people who are surviving in spite of the zombies, and in spite of other people. It's about family, loyalty, moral dilemmas, and ethics in light of a zombie apocalypse. But if you have a squeamish stomach, you may want to avoid. Also, I think the only reason I could handle it was because I had seen some of season 5, so I knew which characters survived. That made it much less scary.
I read somewhere that season 6 starts up on February 14th. I know what what Alex and I will doing on Valentines Day!
Last weekend I did my first solo mass with 2 kids. Alex used to be a regular cantor at our parish, but he hasn't done any singing since he started PA school. Last Saturday the cantor for the 5:00 pm mass had a family emergency to attend to and they were in real bind. So I told Alex I was up for trying it alone with the kiddos if he wanted to sing.
And it went...not terribly. Trixie slept in her car seat for the first half and Johnny was very interested in watching Alex up on the altar. Then Trixie woke up and wanted to nurse, and Johnny began to realize he could get away with a lot more. Afterwards I had a few people tell me that I was very brave and that my kids did really well, which was so encouraging, especially when you feel like you're in survival mode during mass.
Did you realize that Lent is less than a month away? Crazy, but true. It's time to get ready now. Especially if you want to get a hold of one of beautiful Lenten Devotional Workbooks found in the Blessed is She Shop. They are going like hot cakes so if you want one you'd better hurry! I'm also giving one away here! I wish I could get one for all of you, but this will have to suffice. Good luck entering!
A lot of my favorite bloggers did the 52 project in 2015. Hosted by Practising Simplicity, the 52 project is "a portrait of my youngest children, once a week, every week, in 2016". The posts are short and sweet, and the photographs are beautiful.
All through 2015 I thought to myself, "I'm going to do this next year. Well, next year happened I didn't think about it until I saw it pop up on a couple of my friends' blogs (here's looking at you, Jacqui, and Britt). So I'm jumping on the band wagon, albeit a couple weeks late. I'll post the first two weeks today and then post week 3 sometime this coming week. My blog. My rules. Cool? Ok.
i love you, even when you are procrastinating bedtime and won't get out of your tent.
your hair always sticks up, and I love it that way.
Hi! How are you doing? Did you survive the holidays? I'm only now beginning to to feel like we've stepped off the crazy Christmas carousel. The dust is settling, and we're getting ready for the start of Alex's next semester and regular life to resume.
But it was a great Christmas. Here are some highlights!
When I was a kid my mom would get me and my siblings an ornament every year for Christmas. The ornaments were reflective of our personalities, or things we had done that year. Some of mine include piano and violin ornaments, glass candy canes (I loved them as a kid), and a horse (yup, I went through a horse phase). Alex's family had a similar tradition. The result was that when we got married we already had a nice collection of ornaments for our tree.
I decided I'd like to carry on this tradition with my own kids. Johnny's first year he got a little green "sweet pea" ornament. Last year I got him a bus, because he was (and still is) really into buses. This year I wanted to get him a Curious George ornament, but they are really expensive! He also really likes ketchup. Like, really. We use ketchup to get him to try new foods. So when I saw this ornament at Target I knew it was the one.
I had a hard time finding any "baby's first Christmas" type of ornaments that I liked this year, so I had to get creative for Trixie's first ornament. My favorite local gift shop had this frame ornament. I decided to put a picture of Trixie just moments after she was born in it. And I just love it. I think it was my favorite gift that I gave this year.
I got some wool socks for Christmas. One question: how have I lived in Minnesota my entire life and never owned wool socks before? What a game changer in the quest for warm toes. To all my dear friends in the North. If you haven't tried them yet, you don't know what you're missing.
I dressed my kids in matching clothes.
On Christmas Eve.
And Christmas Day.
And I'm not going to apologize for it.
One of my December projects was Trixie's stocking. I got it done in time and now we all have homemade stockings.
Alex made this recipe for our Christmas morning treat. I always get a knot of dread in my stomach when he wants to make a yeast bread on a holiday because they are complicated and take a long time, and the days are already busy enough. But he really wanted to make this, and I'm glad he did because it was awesome! And so pretty.
My little brother got Johnny a pair of Chuck Taylors. Johnny got a lot of really great gifts, but this one was special to me, I think because it was totally unexpected. On Alex's side there are a lot of grandchildren and we have a name draw system, so ever kid ends up with a few gifts. On my side our kids are the only grandchildren, so there's no name drawing yet. I certainly don't expect each of my siblings to get something for my kids (but they did anyway), especially not my 20 year old brother. I just didn't think buying a gift for a toddler would have crossed his mind. But it did. And it was a gift that totally screams my brother, and becomes Johnny very well.