Friday, September 28, 2007

Good Morning America -- Monday, October 1

Great News!
This coming Monday October 1st the Good Morning America show will do a feature about the importance of 5-point harness carseats, and they will interview my friend Christine Miller and her family. They will talk about the importance of keeping kids in a 5-point harness car seat, and will also promote the foundation they have set up in honor of their son, Kyle. Most of you know by now that I have been volunteering for the Kyle David Miller Foundation ever since I first learned of Kyle through his YouTube video (a link to his video is in my favorites on this blog page...if you have not seen it, please watch it now) The Kyle David Miller Foundation helps to educate people on car seat safety and the importance of keeping kids in a 5-point harness car seat for as long as possible, and also to use the top tether to secure the car seat to your car. They also give the larger car seats to families that cannot afford to buy them. I am proud to be a part of such a worthy cause. My kids are all in the safer 5-point harness car seats now -- even Alex who will be 8 years old in just a few weeks. Car seat safety has become a passion of mine, and I am doing my best to spread the word to others.
These two pictures, of course, are of Kyle. My heart hurts when I think that he is no longer here for his parents to hold. What a beautiful boy. I know, though, that Kyle's death was not in vain. His legacy lives on through his foundation, and he is helping other children -- including mine! -- travel safer in cars. Thank you, Kyle!

To all those who are reading this blog, please tune into Good Morning America on Monday morning to watch my friends as they share some valuable information with all of us. And tell your friends, your family, new parents, older parents, and grandparents to never know whose child might be saved because of it!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Avery, Aislynn and Andrew are getting clean before bed. I love these ages where they still will take a bath together. Those days are long gone for Anthony, Audriana, Afton and Alex. So all four of them take separate showers & baths before bed. Needless to say it gets VERY busy in the bathrooms right around the 7 'o clock hour around here!! Water running for an hour straight, it seems, and all the towels -- left on the floor, of course -- all end up in the laundry hamper (even though technically after drying off a clean body, shouldn't it still be clean?) If ALL the towels were hung up after each use around here, that would lessen my laundry load by at least one load per day.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Can't Get Any Cuter Than This....

I don't think there is anyway that this baby can look any cuter than he looks at 14 months. There's just no way! Such the face! Yep, I'm in love with my baby -- can you tell??

Eating a pretty BIG ice cream cone! ( he didn't end up finishing it all, which is a good thing!!)
Aislynn and Andrew are the ones in highchairs this year. A year ago it was AJ and Aislynn. The year before that it was AJ and Avery. The year before that it was Avery and Alex. In the SAME two high chairs!! I swear, these cheap models from Target were the best $29 investment we ever made. They held up the best, wash easily, no fuss about them at all.


I love dressing Avery and Aislynn in matching outfits -- I think they look so darn cute!! They had this same outfit in Afton's size, but she was like, "NO WAY, MOM --I won't wear it!" (See? There is only a certain window of time where you get to dress them alike! Afton has already passed hers. Oh well.) This is a Halloween outfit that I saw at Target!! I thought it was pretty neat. They've been wearing it as pajamas, but it's actually a daytime outfit. Oh well, whatever works for them is okay with me.


Day THREE of his black eye..... AJ got his first black eye. I say "first" because this is one rough and tumble kid. How did it happen? He was in our living room (where the homeschooling table and bookshelf are set up) and was spinning around and around (you know how kids do that to get dizzy) and I was in the kitchen doing some dishes, and I could hear him in there saying things like, "oh...I'm getting so dizzy...whoa....weeeee......oh my gosh I'm gonna tip over......" things like that, and I said, " better stop before you get hurt" and so of course he didn't stop, and then next thing I hear is him crying. Turns out Alex bumped into him during one of the dizziest times, and AJ lost his balance and fell into the bookshelf face first. So he came running to me, and he had a cut under his left eye. I put ice on it and made him lie down on the couch with ice for about 15 mintues. The bleeding stopped (it was a small cut) and then I noticed it starting to get black and blue. He went to bed shortly after that, and when he woke up in the morning his eye was very puffy and it was really black and blue!! Then the next day it was purple and had spread to the top of his eye as well. A full circle black eye. He had to go to preschool that day, and everyone commented on it. His preschool teacher thought I should take him to a doctor for it. I just smiled and said he would be fine. (really... what would a doctor be able to do for him?)
Here he is on day 3 of his black eye -- the swelling had gone down a lot at this point, but it was a much darker color.

and here he is on day 2 of the black eye. This is what he looked like when he woke up that first morning.
And this is the night that it happened. It didn't look too bad right at this point. Actually, at the time I thought it looked pretty bad, but it's nothing compared to how it looked the next day and the day after that!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Happy Andrew

Andrew is one happy baby. Here he is with his Uncle Phil (Rich's brother) and of course Andrew is naked again, just like always. This is right after his bath and he ran out of the room before I could put a diaper on him. It's his little game after the bath. He knows that I'm going to put a diaper on him right after his bath, since it's just routine to do so, so now as soon as I towel him dry he takes off running -- out the bedroom door and into our hallway, just screeching down the hall in delight because he hears me behind him saying, "Oh... you come back here, you little poop! I'm going to get those buns!!" and he runs so fast, laughing. He's so darn cute I just can't stand it sometimes. It's moments like that when my heart is too large for my body. I love him so much that sometimes it actually hurts. Sounds strange, but it's true. There is no other love like the love for your children.

...and here he is on our backyard hammock! I put him on really quick and then took him off right away because he immediately started rocking it and it was about to flip him!

And here is my sweet boy leaning in for a kiss from his #1 fan -- his mommy! I love his sweet smile, his kissable cheeks, his squeeky little voice, the smell of the top of his head, his soft curly- at- the- bottom hair (that I don't want to cut, but it's getting so long!) and I love that he loves me so much. Ahhhh....babies. They are the greatest.

First Day of Preschool

Today was A.J.'s very first day of preschool. He was so excited he could hardly sleep the night before. He goes three days a week from 12:45-3:30, the same hours Avery went two years ago when she went to the very same school. What I love about the hours is that he is home with us all during the morning hours, so he sits in and is homeschooled with the other kids. Then, after lunch, he goes to preschool and gets to learn and play there as well. It's just something for "him" right now. All the bigger kids have their sports and activities and all that. So it's neat to see A.J. have something special in his day that's just for him.

When it was time for me to leave, he didn't even run to give me a kiss. He wouldn't wave, either, which is not like him. I got a little worried that he was going to cry or something, he seemed a bit apprehensive when it was time to sit down with the class. It seemed like it just clicked in his head at that moment, "Hey...this is actually happening. I'm sitting here with a bunch of kids I don't know, and my mom is leaving...." He just had a weird look on his face, but didn't seem to mind that I was leaving.
After I dropped him off, I drove 30 minutes to help with Micah's program. My midwife met me there so she could meet Micah and Micah's mom and learn what it is we do with the program. I stayed about an hour and a half, and when I left, Su (my midwife) stayed on another 30 minutes visiting with Micah and Stephanie. She really enjoyed playing with Micah and getting to know him. She's going to be a volunteer now, which is SO great. I'm really working on getting as many volunteers that I can for Stephanie. Su will be great. She loves babies.
When I came back to pick A.J. up for preschool, he RAN to me and wrapped his arms around my legs and I said, "How did it go, Bud?!!" and he said, "I had so much fun! Do I get to come here tomorrow?!!" and then as we walked to the car he told me ALL about his day, what he did, who he played with, all about the artwork they did in class...he just went on and on and on. Then when we got in the car and we buckled up, he sincerely said, "Mommy...thank you for taking me." He's so sweet sometimes. Out of all the kids, he says "thank you" the most. If we all go to the park, when we get into the car to leave for home it is always him who says, "Mommy..thank you for taking me to the park." or the pool, or a friend's house to play -- anything. He always says thank you afterwards.

Simple Fun

Andrew loves getting pulled around by his older siblings. This boy gets played with A LOT in this house! Being number 8 sure has its advantages. Why do we spend a fortune buying expensive riding toys and bikes and all that? A box of Huggies entertains them for hours!

First Day of School

Andrew woke up early this morning when normally he sleeps in. I think he could sense that the day was different or something. I think he wanted a "first day of school" day, too. Here he is eating his breakfast.

Alex, Avery and Aislynn sit at our school table waiting to start their first day of school. I got up early to prepare the lessons, so we are all set to go!
Aislynn still has major "bed head" but she still looks very cute and eager to start her day. At only 2 and a half years old, she is very much aware of what we do at the homeschool table and wants to be a part of it.

I'm happy that we are starting school today and will get into a routine around here. The summer months are awesome, but the lack of a schedule sometimes makes it very unorganized around here. I think we all do better on a schedule!!

First Day of Middle School

Today is the first day of school. Audriana and Afton are the only two who are not homeschooling. They are going to our neighborhood middle school which is just a mile down the street. They were up early and ready to go this morning, and the morning went very smooth. They are in a carpool with our neighbors, which is new for them. Afton is a very prompt person and at 7:45am when the carpool hadn't arrived yet, she was stressing out. They were supposed to get here at 7:45....they pulled up at 7:46. And she was all bent out of shape because they were late.

Afton is the Vice President of the school this year. They voted her VP last June.

Afton is in the 7th grade and Audriana is in the 8th grade.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Falling Out of the Bed

What is the DEAL with my kids? Every single night someone falls out of their bed. I swear for the life of me I cannot remember this ever being a problem for me or my sister when we were young. I might have fallen out of the bed a few times, but every night? Maybe my mom would remember more about that, but I know for a fact that I wasn't 8 years old and unable to keep my body on a twin bed for the duration of the night.

Alex, A.J. and Aislynn always fall out of their beds at night. Sometimes Avery does, too. I am so tired of being jolted awake by a loud THUMP. Tonight it was A.J.

I've had IT. They are all sleeping on the floor until they are older. No more beds for the younger ones. I'll just make them a nice little floor bed of blankets and pillows and they can sleep NEXT to their beds. This is just ridiculous. The older three never had a problem with sleeping in beds. I can't even remember a time when they fell out of bed (Tony, Audriana or Afton) Am I doing something wrong with my younger five?? Man, you would think I'm doing something wrong. I mean it, every night someone -- or sometimes more than one -- falls OUT of the bed!

I never get a solid's night rest -- NEVER. For starters, someone always falls out of bed. ALWAYS. And so then I have to go in their room, comfort the half-asleep child, put them back into bed...then go back to my room and try to sleep again. Only to be woken up by a child coming into my room to use the bathroom (their bathroom toilet isn't working correctly so we don't' use it) Then after that child leaves I will try to go back to sleep, only to be woken up again by Andrew crying (who is in a crib in our room) and then I go to him, take him to my bed and nurse him for a bit, then put him BACK into his crib so that he doesn't fall out of our bed (when Rich is home and in bed with me then I let Andrew sleep inbetween us) Once he's back to sleep, I go back to sleep...only to be woken up by either A.J. or Aislynn who comes in crying, telling me that they wet the bed. I'll get the child cleaned up and back to bed...I'll go back to sleep....only to be woken up by the first child who climbs up into my bed to sleep. Most of the time that is Afton, who is 12 but still comes into my bed to sleep probably 3 times out of the week. Then I'll go back to sleep...only to wake up yet again when someone falls out of their bed. Or wets the bed. Or has a bad dream. And then of course Andrew cries again and I go to him, put him back to sleep. Then the next kid will find their way into my room (usually Aislynn or Avery....sometimes both.) I'll see that my bed is too crowded and I'll just give up and go lay on our little love seat that's in our master bedroom's tv room (where Andrew's crib is) and then Andrew will wake up, see me there, and will cry until I get him out. I take him out and lay him next to me on the love seat, and THAT is where I end up getting most of my sleep hours, on that little tiny couch with my feet hanging over the edge and Andrew laying on me nursing all night long.

You'd think that I'd get tired of all this craziness at night, in the middle of the night, and in the wee hours of the morning, but I guess I'm used to it. And I know that this will not always be the way it is. Sooner than I know it, my "baby" will be a 12 year old or a 15 year old, and there will be no more little ones waking me up, coming in my bed, wetting the bed or falling out of the bed. And believe it or not, I really think when that day comes I will miss these days of no sleep. So....I'm not really complaining. Just venting. I believe there's a huge difference between complaining and venting. Complaining is not enjoying the process and wanting it to change. And venting is just letting you know how it is you get a little sympanthy :)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I'm getting attached....

Today I spent some time with Micah and his family celebrating his first birthday. He turned one year old on September 1st. I'm getting really attached to this little guy -- he's stolen my heart.

This is my favorite picture of him, with his little birthday hat on. I think he looks so darn cute in this shot. He is being held by his grandfather. You can't see it, but his head is being held up from the back. He still cannot hold his head up by himself too well. I think he has the sweetest mouth, and the little half-smile he has on his face here is priceless. This is definitely my favorite picture of him.

And here he is laying on Stephanie's lap (his mommy) He is always happiest in this position. He smiles most when he is on her lap like this and is looking up at her. Although he is very brain injured, Micah definitely knows when his mommy is holding him or is near. When she passed him to me, he instantly started to make a face and whimper. Then I soothed him and he was okay. I held him for a while and he was fine. Then Stephanie came back and started talking to me as I was holding Micah, and he started to turn his head toward her and fuss. It was so good to see him do that, because that shows that he is aware of his surroundings, that he is "thinking" and processing information. Every little thing he does is special. When I use my nails on his scalp and "tickle'' his head, he opens his mouth really big and turns his head to the side, and that's how he laughs. And when his mom passes him off to someone else, he starts to protest in his own small way, even with just a little whimper, that's still a protest. Everything counts. I think the most important thing that a parent of a disabled child is taught is to see the little things as big things, to appreciate everything and not take a simple smile or laugh for granted.

I held him a lot today and didn't want to put him down. I'm going to help with is therapy program two days this week. I look forward to seeing him again. I wish I could write about all the feelings that are inside of me when I'm spending time with Micah, but I just can't explain it. He's such a beautiful baby and didn't deserve the cards he got dealt in part of me is so sad about that. He had a perfect brain until his birth -- and to no fault of his own, he was deprived of oxygen and so much of his brain was destroyed. He should be crawling or taking his first steps and saying "da da" and "ma ma" at this age. He should be able to giggle and laugh out loud. He should be able to move his legs, kick his feet, clap his hands.... I get so sad when I think about that. But then I think about how young he is and how much growth his brain is still capable of doing, and I get hopeful about his chances of making developments in areas of his brain. I'm so happy that he has a mom that is willing to do all the hard work that this therapy program demands. Being with him and doing his therapy reminds me of the days, weeks, months and years after Audriana's accident and how we did this same program on her, and those memories sometimes make me sad. But then I think that I am all that much more capable with helping Micah with his program because of my past with that makes me happy to be able to help. I guess I'm just all mixed up with emotions about this little guy. I do find that when I'm holding him I just never want to let him go. It's like I want to cuddle and kiss all the brain boo-boos away. If only love could heal, this little guy would be perfectly well by now.