Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let In Snow!!! (Except Where Are the Snow Plows?)

Jake got an early Christmas present this morning... school being cancelled for today and tomorrow! He was as giddy as a school boy when he learned that he didn't have to go to work! It would have been better though if he hadn't gotten his car stuck in the driveway and had to help shovel the whole driveway this morning with Brad, Carlee, Tyler, and myself. The kids came outside too and had an absolute blast! (I think Jake and Brad were having a little too much fun too!)

This is Brad pulling Emmett up the snow in the driveway before we had everything cleared.

Brad sat on the sled while Jake pulled him down the driveway. At the bottom of our driveway is a steep slope. The guys had a fun time going down the bottom of the slope into a snow embankment.

This is Jake smiling and having sweet dreams of not shoveling snow for the next 6 weeks because of his leg surgery on Thursday. The stinker did that on purpose! I am positive of it!

Nathan liked the snow for about 10 minutes. Then he decided it was too cold and went back in the house by himself to play with his trains. (Notice Ellie and Addie in the background. They were trying to throw snowballs at Brad and Jake!)

Nathan wanted to help clear the snow so he picked up a plastic child's hoe and tried to push the snow around.

Ellie thought she was on top of the world. At least in this picture she was 3 feet taller than Jake when she stood on the snow mound.

Ellie and Addie are best buddies. They were so excited to play with each other in the snow!

Ok - so even with all of the playing Brad and Jake did get the driveway cleared. No sign of the snow plows that are supposed to clear the driveway for us! Jake and Brad kept calling themselves the "Sweaty Dudes" and are offering classes for a physical workout in our driveway each time it snows. They thought it was a pretty good take off of "Sweaty Chix Fitness" that Carlee and I like to go to!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gingerbread Houses

On December 11th we met up with our friends the Hansen's and Hamricks at the Blue Lemon to make "gourmet" gingerbread houses. The girls had such a fun time together! We hadn't seen the Hansen's since they moved away in July... Heidi and Ellie were good buddies and went to preschool together. The girls talked about school (kindergarten is a BIG deal to these two!) and babies. Lisa is due in January and us in June. We wished that they hadn't moved but totally understand the reasons for doing so!

Our class had everything necessary to build the houses. It was really interesting to see the couple who had taken their child to the class that was sitting next to us. Their house turned out beautiful! Except the little girl didn't seem to have any fun doing it since the parents did all of the work. Now, Ellie and I for the life of us could not get our house to stand. The gingerbread that was supposed to be the roof weighed too much and kept collapsing. Once we got a better roof and had some serious help from Carlee and Lisa we were on our way to a fun house building experience. It was fun to spend some girl time with Ellie. We don't get to do stuff like that very often and it meant a lot to me. Especially when she said, "Next year Mom we HAVE to do this again!". Yes, Ellie we definately HAVE TO do this again. And hopefully the Hansen's and Hamricks will be there too!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When the Inn Keeper is Your Little Brother...

On December 4th the Ellinger Family had their annual Christmas party. A BIG thanks goes out to Dan and Calli for letting all of us into their home! We had a yummy dinner and then had the kids recreate the Christmas story. Its nice having the kids old enough to play the parts. Some are a little more willing than others though.

For instance, Elisabeth was SO EXCITED that she got to be Mary. Nathan on the other hand had no appreciation for the story whatsoever and DID NOT want to participate. When the adults prompted Nathan to go tell Mary and Joseph that there was no room he put the blanket on his head and walked the other direction. It wasn't until I told Nathan that he could go tell Ellie "No" that he took the blanket off and ran over to her. He firmly planted his feet on the ground and his whole body shook as he growled, "NOOOOOO ELLIE!!!" Then he walked away, picked up his blanket, and then went to sit with Grandma and her iPad. (He was really more interested in the iPad than Grandma!). Ellie just looked dumbfounded with the expression on her face that said, "I can't believe he just go away with that!"

With a performance like that I think Nathan has officially earned his title as the Inn Keeper for MANY years to come!

Libby, Mallory and Kierra were the 3 Wisemen who followed the star...

Keaton and Ellie were Joseph and Mary...

Nathan was the Inn Keeper who refused to participate until he was "prompted"...

Doesn't Ellie make a pretty cute Mary?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Transitioning from Early Intervention to Preschool

I cannot believe that Nathan is almost 3. Where did the time go? We have spent the last month and a half meeting with the school district a couple of times for transitioning Nathan into their preschool program. I was so worried... worried that Nathan was doing so well and making SO MUCH progress that he wouldn't qualify for services.

Yesterday was the official testing. Nathan sat very patiently for 2 hours being tested on speech and his overall development. He was such a champ! I can say that he sat so well and worked so hard with the therapists that the testing was very accurate.

The results: Nathan has the understanding of speech of a 48 month old. (He has a need to know what is going on. I would too if I feared the doctors as much as he does!) On the flip side, his articulation puts him in the 7th percentile for his age. A plus is that we can put in feeding goals for Nathan at his IEP since Nathan's speech and eating problems are directly tied to each other. We are having his IEP with Nebo School District on January 7th. I wasn't all that impressed with his teacher over the phone, but hopefully it is because I don't know her. I'm still very nervous transitioning Nathan from Early Intervention to the school district. I'm sure things will work out, but its what I have been used to and I think sometimes that I struggle with change.

One thing that Nathan can say very clearly though when asked if he thinks the baby in my belly is a boy or a girl is "No... Nathan is the baby!". Maybe I'm not the only one who struggles with change...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue!!! (And Mulan too!)

Nathan just ADORES Toy Story. Ever since we took him to see Toy Story 3 last summer he is constantly talking about Buzz Lightyear. Even in his sometimes garbled speech you can make out, "To finity and yond!" We bought his costume about a month and a half ago and he likes to strut his stuff in it at least 3-4 times a week. If we didn't need to get to his g-tube I'd let him wear it all of the time.

Poor Ellie! I got 1 (yes just 1) picture of her at Halloween. It was because we were at the ward trunk or treat and she was DYING to get started. We went along for about 10-15 minutes before the wind, rain, and HAIL!!! came. It was quite comicle to watch 350+ people scream and run to their cars all at the same time. Since Jake had his leg in a cast and couldn't get it wet, we decided to bag trick or treating and went home to get in our pj's and watch Jumanji with the kids. We made some yummy pumpkin cookies and popcorn and made a mess all over the place! It was super fun!

Nathan had so much fun trick or treating. He even tried to eat a couple of chocolate bars which is a big improvement over last year.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

She's Pinkalicious

For Halloween a local farmer donated a pumpkin to every child at the school to help with the "Reagan Reads" program. Each child was assigned to dress up their pumpkin like a book or book character. Ellie had to choose Pinkalicious. I think she did a pretty good job of helping me make the tutu and painting her face. This was a fun project for us to work on together!

Gymnastics, Staples, and Ellie

Ellie is my monkey...poor kid was blessed with (cursed?) the Larson clumsiness. I swear that sometimes all she has to do is walk around the house and she'll trip for no reason. That being said you'd think she would really have struggles with balance on a bike or a balance beam. She learned to ride her bike without training wheels at age 4 and can walk across the balance beam without any help to keep her from falling. I think the difference is that she loves to do both of those things and she is really focused when she does those activities. She amazes me!

Remember how Ellie had to have her chin glued back together a while back? She was sitting on our coffee table and laughing at Nathan a week and a half ago. She wasn't watching what she was doing and slid off the back of the coffee table and the back of her head caught on the corner of my piano bench and gashed it open. She started screaming in pain and I had her turn around so I could look at her head. I placed one hand on her head to steady it and felt this wet oozy feeling on it. I took my hand off her head and looked at it to discover it was COVERED in blood. I looked frantically for the source since head wounds are always worse than they seem and sure enough she had an inch and a half gash in the back of her skull.

We gathered her up, made sure she didn't have a concussion, called Grandma, and then took her to the Instacare in Springville. They were just closing when we got there so we were instructed to take her to Provo for medical attention. It is pretty uncomfortable to see your child have staples placed in their head. She was holding onto me and digging her nails into my hands. I now know what I put Jake through last May... The biggest concern for Ellie was that she was told she couldn't go to gymnastics for the week.

Ellie is such an interesting girl. She is a ball of fire for sure!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Intermountain Healing Hearts - Walk for Healing Hearts

On Sept 11, 2010 we participated in the annual Walk for Healing Hearts. I love participating in this event and look forward to it every year. To me its a celebration of life - for those that are living with and courageously fighting their congenital heart defects and for those that have lost their battle whom we honor their memories. I especially love to see all of our friends and that we get to "catch" up with each other. Its about finding the strength within each other to keep up with the kind of life that a CHD hands you - the doctors visits, the worry, the intervention... but its good to see that you're not alone.

I was so grateful that Janice, my little sister that is living in Nashville, came out over the weekend and went with us to that event. I'm glad too that Jake's family could support us again.

Nathan, Baseball and Overall Development

Nathan has been fixated lately on baseball, which is strange since Jake hasn't really watched much of it this summer. He walks around the house with Jake's Boston Red Sox hat on his head and usually with a ball in his hand and a red child's bat in the other.

This is the "UH OH, Mom caught me and I'm a deadman for knocking everything all over with my bat!"

This is what Nathan usually looks like walking around the house. He is such a little ball of energy who is starting to stick up for himself a little bit more. Boy, if Ellie gets in his way she has to watch out! He starts growling at her in a deep voice saying... ELLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEE. Then in response she justs starts laughing at him and then runs before she gets in trouble with us.

Here is his current stats at 33 months:

Weight 26lbs even (he lost 3/4 a pound last month)
Height: 34 1/2 inches
Speech: 22 month old
Gross Motor: 24 month old

Nathan is going to be tested on November 12th by Nebo School district to see if he qualifies for services that could be provided by the preschool. They do not take into account that he still does not eat orally because that does not meet an "educational" goal. To which I think that's a bunch of bunk because it will affect his academics if he goes to school in first grade and is teased for having a g-tube. We are doing all we can to help him but its only been 5 months since we have been able to really make progress with him and in many ways his oral skills are at that of a newborn. Articulation is going to be Nathan's biggest hurdle to get over in the next little while, but that is mostly due to the Pierre Robin and cleft palate.

Overall Nathan is doing awesome. Maybe someday he will be a professional ball player (just not for the Angels or the Yankees :).

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dysphagia Clinic at Primary Children's

Nathan has been seen by the Dysphagia Clinic at Primary Children's since he was 5 months old. Following his open heart surgery Nathan had a very difficult time for a couple of months having too much in his stomach and though he was drinking about an ounce with his cleft palate nurser (bottle), he completely quit and wouldn't have anything to do with oral stimulation. He was refluxing and throwing up several times a day through his nissen and he was in a lot of pain during feedings.

Dr. Molly O'Gorman (Dr. Molly as she calls herself), took Nathan right under her wing. She has been very frank with us about Nathan's problems, but what I really love about her is that she is a mother. She speaks to me from a Mother to Mother standpoint and makes me feel informed and empowered about Nathan's medical decisions. She is a rare jewel of a doctor and I hold her in the same high regards as Dr. Park, Nathan's ENT.

From a g-tube standpoint Nathan is doing quite well. We are going to try to change his G-tube brand to see if it helps the leakage/drainage problem we have been having. With Nathan not having to work so hard to breathe and his heart function getting better they actually had to REDUCE his calories! He is gaining a little too well for his heart to keep up with the work. He is now taking 5 cans of Nutren Jr. a day which totals to be 1200 calories a day. Nathan is weighing in a a whopping 26 lbs and is just shy of 35 inches tall. That puts him in the 5 percentile for his weight and 8 percentile for his height. His overall weight/height ratio (which is what the doctors actually look at to determine correct weight for the child) is 98%. That is Nathan's BEST EVER figure!)

From an eating standpoint... well... yeah. Nathan did chomp down on celery and peaches for Helene (the feeding therapist). He also put Nutella in his mouth and swallowed a little bit. We had considered sending Nathan to Kennedy Krieger or Hershey Penn State for intensive feeding therapy. Both the doctors cautioned that we would not see the results that we hope for because Nathan's feeding problem does not stem from a mental/emotional disorder. It is from SERIOUS physical impairments. She cannot recall a child in her clinic who has had 18 operations alone in their facial area. Only 1 other child at Primary's has had jaw surgery twice for Nathan's diagnosis. They are VERY IMPRESSED with the feeding abilities that Nathan has and pointed out that the muscles we use to eat with have been cut through MANY times on Nathan and they are extremely weak. Asking him to go through that kind of therapy would be like asking me to run a marathon a month after having a c-section. I wouldn't ask it of myself and so I shouldn't expect it of my child. Helene gave some good feeding ideas and then said that Nathan needs to be seen 1x per week from both Early Intervention and the Orem Pediatric Rehab Center.

I wish that Nathan didn't have this G-tube and would just eat. The lessons we've learned as a family in regards to patience is phenomenal! I am grateful, though, that for the first time in 31 months Nathan is STABLE and no more immediate surgical intervention is required. We are very fortunate that feeding is our big issue.

Dr. Molly and Nathan

Helene Taylor (Feeding Therapist) and Nathan

Gotta love the chubby cheeks!

Nathan LOVES his Nacho Cheese Doritos. He won't eat them, but he loves to lick them. He asks for his CHIPS all of the time!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Its That Time of Year Again

Growing up my mother made it a point to can every item in our garden that she possibly could. As a kid I HATED IT. Well, except for the part of eating the yummy bottled peaches. I disliked snapping beans, HATED bottling tomatoes, and the worst was making grape juice. As a mother now I see why my mom took the time to do those things. It was definitely cheaper to can the items from your garden than to buy them in the store... but there were even more important lessons that she was teaching us.

1. The effort of what you put into something is exactly what you get out of it. We worked hard on keeping that garden producing and it was satisfying seeing what we could do. I remember so many late nights with Janice taking our "water irrigation turn" at 12:00 or 2:00 in the morning. I have fond memories of that time spent with Janice and my brother Brian.

2. We learned self reliance.

3. I am convinced now that Mom could have easily done a better job than us if she had just done the work of bottling by herself. I believe that not only did she have us help for the reasons listed above, but because it was a way to spend some quality time with her where we could just talk about whatever and she knew that she had our attention for a 4-6 hour time span.

Julie Beck couldn't have said it better in her Mother's Who Know talk:

Mothers Who Know Are Nurturers
Mothers who know are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness.5 To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes. Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world. Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate. Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth. Growth happens best in a "house of order," and women should pattern their homes after the Lord's house (see D&C 109). Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work. Helping growth occur through nurturing is truly a powerful and influential role bestowed on women.

Mothers Who Know Are Teachers
Mothers who know are always teachers. Since they are not babysitters, they are never off duty. A well-taught friend told me that he did not learn anything at church that he had not already learned at home. His parents used family scripture study, prayer, family home evening, mealtimes, and other gatherings to teach. Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre–missionary training center. Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and not a revelation. That is influence; that is power.

I know that it was very difficult for my mother to raise 2 daughters (after dealing with 7 other children) by herself after my dad passed away. But she kept at it with faith and diligence. I am selfish in wanting my mom to be here still to keep teaching me, but I know that she is happy with her eternal sweetheart and my sister.

I want to be the kind of mom that I had. The summer after Elisabeth was born mom "retaught" me the art of canning. Since then Jake and I have made it a tradition every year to make jam, bottle tomatoes, bottle spaghetti sauce, bottle salsa... you name it and we like to try it. If I get brave enough I might even make apple butter with the help of my best friend Tammy. (This is your warning Tammy!)

So here is my first attempt at teaching Ellie how to make spaghetti sauce. So far in the past week we have made 41 bottles of spaghetti sauce. I think this weekend we will be brave and do salsa...

Ellie had such a good time. She is a great helper in the kitchen when it comes to cooking. She is so much like her dad... good cook but when its time to clean up she takes off running!

Only Ellie....

Though Elisabeth just adores Princess things such as the jewelry, stories, and bracelets... I believe that she is really more of a Tom Boy at heart. This summer she has been practicing riding her bike without holding on with her hands (she ditched the training wheels when she was 4!), doing "tricks" on her scooter, and practicing jumping/diving in the swimming pool. Elisabeth has taken 3 sessions of swimming this summer and is proficient at swimming by herself across the swimming pool at our clubhouse. She is a pretty daring kid who isn't afraid to have some good ol' fashioned fun.

Last Thursday after swimming lessons our niece Halee took her swimming at the clubhouse. Ellie was dying to practice jumping in the swimming pool and then after floating to the top she would swim across the pool. She ran to jump in the pool, lost her footing, and cut her chin open. Blood started gushing everywhere and Halee freaked out!

We took Elisabeth to the pediatrician who decided that because the cut was so straight that he would prefer to glue her chin back together rather than to stitch it back together. She was still freaking out quite a bit and so Jake bribed her with some Cold Stone ice cream. That seemed to help her quite a bit!

This is the second time Ellie has cut herself on her face. We know that with some of the stunts that she pulls it will only be a matter of time before she breaks a bone!

The pictures below were taken after her chin had been glued back together. I couldn't stomach the "before" pictures so I didn't post them!