happy heart day… one year after

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This week marks Everett’s one-year anniversary of his heart surgery. March 11 is the day Everett’s heart became new, and he could finally breathe easy.

When I think back to where we were one year ago, the feelings are bittersweet. My heart aches remembering the worry, the unknown, the exhaustion, and the pain my two-month-old son had experienced in his short little life. But, the week following surgery, there was joy. There was hope. There was relief. And, for the first time, there were smiles from our sweet Everett.

How far he has come in only a year. We didn’t know what his future would look like following surgery – Whether he would be delayed, how long he would require the NG tube, whether the surgery would work.

On the week celebrating his first anniversary, Everett is taking his first continuous steps. We have a walker. He has overcome all the obstacles, big and small, from this past year. And, today, we have a happy, healthy little boy.

There will always be worry and concern that his heart is causing problems again, but, for now, our life is crazy in a normal way. We have a newfound toddler who never ceases to explore the world around him, who already has a determined personality, and who smiles through all life’s hiccups.

I never could have imagined this is what life would be like a year after surgery. Or, how beautiful that scar would look through my eyes. I never dreamed he would be walking, talking and causing mischief like any other child his age. I thank God for my miracle. Happy Heart Day, Everett.

too much information

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Potty talk is in full swing at our house. We talk pee. We talk poop. We rejoice over every secretion that doesn’t soak Austin’s pants or land on the floor. We proudly clap as he literally shows us his latest drop off in the potty. It’s amazing how dull I have become to such disgusting discussion. And, that’s parenthood.

But, nothing quite prepared me for the new public embarrassment of potty training. When you introduce pee pee and poo poo into a toddler boy’s vocabulary, there is no filter on their mouth. And, the moment you frown at their potty talk, well, you’ve just fueled the fire. Let me replay our recent trip to the store.

As I push the boys in the basket through the store,

“Do tigers go poo poo?”

“Yes, honey.”

“Do Tiggers go poo poo?”

“Yes, Austin.”

“Do birds go poo poo?”

“Yes.”

“Do cars go poo poo?”

“Uh, no.”

“Cars do go poo poo.”

“Huh, okay then.”

“Does Everett go poo poo?”

“Uh huh.”

“Do you go poo poo?”

“Yes, dear.”

“Does he go poo poo?” pointing straight to a man within earshot.

“Uh huhhh..” as we quickly turn down the nearest aisle.

“Do dogs go poo poo?”

I pause in silence trying to rack my brain as to why I am actually in this store. Funny. All I can seem to think about are body fluids. Yuck.

“Momma. Momma. MOMMA. Do dogs go poo poooo?”

“YES. Dogs go poo poo, too.”

He giggles, and, then, is distracted by a shiny object. Thank goodness for a toddler’s attention span. This buys me about five minutes to finish our trip. I wrap things up and proceed to check out, where, of course, there is a mile-long line. We wait, and I mentally go through my to-do list for the day. During this time, Austin has begun singing.

“Bye bye pee peeeeee. Bye bye pooooop. Bye bye pee pee. Bye bye pooop.”

To be honest, I’m pretty sure he was several choruses in before I really paid attention to what he was singing. By this point, we had quite the mixed audience of chuckles and disapproving glances. Oops.

We reach the cashier, and Austin is mesmerized by the candy. Awesome. One child distracted. Now, I just have to play keep away with my credit cards from Everett in the basket. I begin paying, and, out of nowhere, Austin is standing next to me. He proudly tells the cashier how he went poop in the potty. She nods awkwardly. And, then, Austin announces with no less pride that Momma also went poop. Fantastic.

TMI, Austin. Too. Much. Information.

drama for his momma

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I recently came across a link on Facebook with a photo montage of children crying and the absurd reasons causing the tears. I laughed because, like any other mother with toddlers in the house, we can relate. It’s been quite the emotional morning at our house so I give you our last five hours of why one or both of my children are crying…

* He woke up.

* I gave him the wrong cup.

* I said Yes.

* I said No.

* I looked at him.

* I wouldn’t let Everett eat an electrical plug currently in the wall.

* I wouldn’t let him climb the shutters.

* He doesn’t want to poop in the potty.

* He doesn’t want to wear pants.

* He wants to see Grambear, Nana, Kenneth, Grayson, Collier, Carson, along with every other person he has ever met in his life.

* Because I picked him up. Because I put him down.

* I wouldn’t let him cram his hand into my mouth.

* I wouldn’t let him eat my chapstick.

* Because the wall touched him.

* Because the clock said it was only 9 a.m. Oh wait. That was why Mommy was crying.

* Because I wouldn’t let Bambi go swimming IN the potty.

* Everett looked at Austin’s toys.

* Everett crawled near one of Austin’s toys.

* Everett tried to eat one of Austin’s toys.

* I dared to ask if he wanted to take a nap today.

* I put food on his plate.

* AND, his slippers that can go on either foot were on the “wrong” way.

Only seven hours until bedtime… Sheesh. I can only imagine what the afternoon will bring. I think it’s a two Sonic drink kinda day.

a foodie of sorts

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So, here’s the deal. Everett is an awful conventional eater. No surprise there since we struggled with bottle feedings and again struggled with the introduction of solids. Several months in occupational therapy, and he finally takes solids but it’s limited.

Oreos were the first actual solid he willingly took. And, for a while, they were a staple in his diet. From there, he began accepting other types of cookies and various crackers. Pretty sure those baby teeth are going to rot out from that menu.

Eventually, he welcomed cubed cheese and the occasional spoonful of oatmeal into his diet. And, that’s where it ended.

I’m not sure cookies, crackers, cheese, a scoop of oatmeal, and a liquid vitamin he often vomits back up would be considered a well-rounded meal. And, I can’t bear the pediatrician’s advice of only offering him what we are eating for each meal. Tried that. He eats nothing and then wakes up screaming and starving in the middle of the night. Something had to change. So, I got creative.

I scoured Pinterest looking for recipes incorporating hidden veggies and fruits and pulled out some of my old favorites from when Austin was younger. My tried and true recipes for Austin were not such a hit with Everett. Usually, they were tossed to the floor with Everett grinning ear to ear. He was taunting me. “You’re going to have to do better than that, Mom.”

Recipe after recipe, he rejected. I have cooked a lot over the last few weeks, and, really, I dislike cooking. Up until a few years ago, the extent of my culinary expertise was Mac ‘n Cheese… from a box, toast, and driving through Chick-fil-a. The hubby certainly didn’t marry me for my skills in the kitchen. But, since then, I have expanded upon that and can happily cook meals for my family (as long as it has less than five ingredients). I was determined to make something Everett would eat.

And, then one day, I discovered the “in” to Everett’s eating. Saltine crackers.

We started with peanut butter. He loved it, and we love that it’s an excellent source of protein. Score one for us. Several days passed, and I was feeling “daring.” I smothered the cracker in cottage cheese, expecting him to throw it back in my face. He ate it. And, another. And, another.

This is about the time I started brainstorming all the concoctions he might eat off a saltine cracker. After he tossed his banana for the 50th time, I tried mashing it up. I spread a chunky layer on the cracker and handed it back over. He surveyed this new paste then promptly beat it against the tray until all the banana had slid off. Score, Everett.

I gave him a couple days and tried again with the banana, but this time, making it a smoother paste. He devoured three banana crackers with no hesitation. The key is in the cracker.

Since then, we’ve used strawberries, turkey with melted cheese, and the most recent, green beans with melted cheese. So bizarre. It’s even more bizarre to me because this kid would not touch purees, and he still won’t. Unless it’s mashed on a saltine. Oy.

But, it could be worse. He could want everything atop an Oreo. Mmm… Veggie paste Oreos.

batman undies to the rescue

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Good news for us. Bad news for Pampers. Sorry, Pampers. My kid won’t be going to college in diapers after all. Release the confetti and pour Mommy a glass of Champagne. It looks like big man Austin is finally potty trained.

I’m not sure what changed to lead to this success – whether it was time, a new method, or truly by the grace of God. But, based on our previous experiences, I might chalk this one up to a miracle… or, the new Batman undies. Yep. Pretty sure it was the undies.

Our last attempt was in the fall. Frankly, after that bout, I was feeling chicken about trying again. We made lots of excuses about it not being the right time. I didn’t want to deal with meltdown after meltdown or mopping up tee tees and poo poos in the middle of the floor produced out of downright defiance. My sanity would not survive. So, we continued to put it off… until we received the registration paperwork for Austin’s Mother’s Day Out program for the fall.

Apparently, they are not interested in changing diapers on three- and four-year-olds next year. Ha. I can’t imagine why. For Austin to move up, he has to be potty trained. And, not “We’re working on it” potty trained, but experienced potty trainer. That’s the kick I needed. As soon as he recovered from the flu, we started training. Cue the Rocky theme song.

I borrowed “Potty Training 1-2-3″ from a friend that recently had success potty training her son. And, I loved it! If you are having trouble potty training, pick this book up. Now. The method around the book is primarily rewarding your child for staying clean and dry, not for producing on the potty. Obviously, you still reward for using the potty, but it’s not the emphasis. Most of the methods we had tried focused on using the bathroom. That was a dead end for Austin. Once he decided he didn’t want to sit on the potty, it was a lost cause and power struggle. This methods puts the control in our hands and sets him up for success.

Don’t get me wrong. It was still hard and frustrating, even with a method that seemed to work for Austin. We didn’t leave the house for two days, and in that time, we focused on Austin and patience (LOTS of patience), and attempted to keep Everett from climbing on, playing in and eating the potty chair.

Plus, we watched The Potty Movie on constant repeat for 48 hours. I’m quite certain I will never be able to rid the tune or images of toddlers singing “Bye bye pee pee. Bye bye poop” from my head. Ah, parenthood.

But, a successful weekend has led to a triumphant week. He’s still not 100 percent trained, but there are rarely accidents and he no longer pees on himself when I announce it’s time to sit on the potty in an effort to avoid sitting on it. Progress, people. Progress.

This child will be attending school next year.

an impromptu graduation

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For six months, I have barely seen the hair on my child’s head. My kisses to his forehead have been blocked. Snuggles to his cheek have been interrupted by cold, hard plastic. And, I have been head butted… a lot.

But, last week, we said goodbye to all of that. Goodbye to the melon. Goodbye to the DOC band. Six months gone and done. Everett is helmet free. Hallelujah!

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We pushed through the thousand-degree days in August… and September, and our trip to the beach where that helmet couldn’t get wet. We battled many sleepless nights in the beginning. We bit the bullet and paid for a second helmet completely out of pocket. We celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and birthdays in the helmet. For six months, that little boy wore a helmet 23 hours a day.

But, it’s all over, and what a beautiful head he has.

The first day free of head gear, I kissed his sweet head at least a thousand times. I rubbed my face against his. I covered him in kisses, and I ran my fingers through his soft, silky hair over and over. How I’ve missed these last six months.

It’s taken about a week for Everett to adapt without his extra protection. The slightest bump of the head sent him wailing into meltdown mode, and that first day, there were lots of tears. Dramatic, much? Now, when Austin decides to smack him over the head with a toy or he face plants into the floor, you usually hear me gasping as opposed to him screaming. I think he’s back to being fearless.

What a journey it has been, and I’m thankful to bring this chapter to a close. Here’s to no more helmet head butts and smothering my sweet boy in uninterrupted smooches.

get the flu out of my house

Break out the Lysol, we have been hit with the flu. Nothing prompts a nice deep clean like having two littles ones coughing, sneezing and snotting on every square inch of the house. I’m not even going to pretend that I didn’t find dried boogers on my clothing from where they either a) flew out of their noses, or b) were wiped purposely by children. Ew.

Two and a half weeks ago seems an eternity, but that’s when this all began. Austin woke up with a cough. He hacked and coughed all day Monday, but other than that, no problem. So, Tuesday came, school day, and what did I do? I sent him to school. Still coughing, slightly runny nose, but no fever and no problems. In my defense, I assumed it was allergies. Two hours after getting home from school, he spiked a fever. Super. Off to urgent care.

He tested negative for the flu, was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and sent home with a breathing treatment because he was wheezing.

The next morning, Austin didn’t move. Literally. I asked him to sit up, and he insisted upon lying back down. I offered him a cookie, and it was rejected. And, he could barely stay awake for more than 10 minutes at a time. Nothing slows this child down, and he never rejects sugar. Needless to say, we ventured back to the doc. This time, we walked out with a positive flu test. Tamiflu for all.

Despite Everett receiving two doses of the flu vaccine and Tamiflu, he still caught it. Thankfully, it was mild and no complications arose, other than an ear infection. He actually landed this ear infection while he was on antibiotics to clear up an infection in his other ear. Oy. Unfortunately, it’s looking like tubes are in Everett’s near future. Any complications clearing this one up or another one soon will prompt the referral to an ENT. I really think we are going to know all the pediatric specialists in Dallas.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to bathe in a bottle of Clorox. Is it summer yet?

wait and see

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This day has been looming over me for the past month. Every time I would begin writing, I would stop. Writer’s block. My mind would drift to this date. Today was Everett’s cardiology appointment. They hadn’t looked at his heart in six months. That’s the longest stretch we have ever gone.

Needless to say, I was feeling a bit anxious. In fact, yesterday, I landed a midday migraine that I can most likely attribute to my anxiety for this appointment and, earlier this week, I randomly burst into tears on the phone with my mom dreading this day.

To ease all of my relatives reading this, the appointment, overall, went well. But, we did hit a snag. Everett’s heart is not perfect. It never will be. After the surgery, there were still a couple problems with his heart that we have been watching. One of those things has worsened over the last six months, but, because he is not having any symptoms, we wait. Things very likely could resolve on its own, or, it could become worse. It’s just a waiting game.

When I spoke to my parents about the appointment, they both told me this was something to celebrate. This baffled me. Sure, we didn’t receive news that another surgery was imminent, but we also didn’t receive the all clear. I didn’t really understand how I could rejoice. But, tonight, it hit me. Everett’s entire life will be a “wait and see” game. And, that’s a harsh reality for a Momma.

We have to celebrate the good news as it comes and not drown in the bad. Today our heart warrior is thriving and strong. There’s no sense in living in fear. He certainly doesn’t. Everett takes this world by storm. He is more daring than I knew a child to be. He meets every obstacle with a grin. Nothing stands in his way.

My child is strong. He is a fighter. And, I have a lot to learn from him.