October 14, 2014

A Little Bit of Life

You know, one would think after having a horrendous cough for a week that at the very least, a nice set of six-pack abs would be the reward for all that core toning.

Alas, it is not so.

*sigh* All that unintentional hard work for nothing.

Is it possible to pull a muscle from coughing? Because I swear it felt like I did, right at the base of my rib cage....

Anyhow, it's nice to be able to talk again without having to repeat what I said six or seven times before I am understood through all the coughing.

My kids were starting to give me blank stares every time I tried to talk to them.


Okay, so I wrote the above about a week ago when I started this post.

I assure you that I have spent a good week blissfully cough-free.

Why did I leave in this post you ask?

Because I'm still miffed about the abs thing....

Moving on.

Life in our household has had it's share of your everyday ups and downs.

It's been loud, and messy, and good, and fun, and hard, and crazy. Lots of fighting, Lots of laughs.

You know, the usual.

Homeschooling is going remarkably well.

Not that there haven't been days that have been, eh hem, rough. (to say the least *mumbled quietly under my breath... lovingly of course*)

Like when Joseph had to this science project. We had been discussing the importance of diagrams in science.

You would have thought I had just asked him to go weed the garden with a fork and cuts all the grass in the yard with scissors by the way he was moaning and carrying on about it.

Now he is so dang proud of it it's been hanging up in our kitchen for almost two weeks!

One of these days he'll let me take it down.


Joseph's chorea is barely noticeable these unless you knew to look for it. Then you'd see it. But he is doing amazing.

I encouraged him to try painting the other day. He actually seemed to enjoy it instead of being so frustrated with the inability to hold the brush or to control his movements enough to do it.

It's awesome.

Savannah is also doing well with homeschooling and does a lot of this when she has completed her work.

Can't imagine where she gets it from!

Eh hem... *glancing around suspiciously then sneaking a bit reading in while typing this post at the same time*

Alayna and Claira decided a while back that since I am being too slow at putting up my Fall and Halloween decorations, they would take matters into their own hands and decorate their bedroom.

The dried up leaves have been there long enough that most of them have been knocked off or crushed, leaving the stems still taped to the walls and ceiling.

True story.

Jacob is seven. 

I've decided that seven is a reeeeeeeally hard boy age.

The end.

Jackson is just... awesome.

Everyone in the family down-right adores him and he is, quite literally at times, smothered with love.

It's hard not to really. He just has the best little personality one could ask for in an eleven month old.

I am so not looking forward to when he turns seven.

Just sayin'.

But my favorite of all favorite things that he does right now is, whenever we gather for family prayer and the kids all fold their arms, so does he!

Seriously, I can't explain it. It's just simply the cutest thing ever.

Be still my heart. I love it so much.

Well that and, every time he does anything that seems to get more attention than usual, he just tries to do it over and over and over again.

Like sneezing or coughing.

Okay, so maybe it's not such a fun thing when he starts throwing food on the floor and all the kids start telling him no. The attention simply means, more food on the floor.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that's banana stuck to my foot right now....

September 26, 2014

Jack-Jack Attack!

"Jack-Jack" is Jackson's nickname.

My father started it.

I told everyone that if they called Jackson "Jack" they would end up on my blacklist.

But Jack-Jack was okay.

Because I'm the mom. Mom's are allowed to have weird quirks about their children's names.

Besides, if you've seen "The Incredibles", you can't help but think of the movie. The "Jack-Jack Attack" clip is just awesome.

And totally explains why my house is in ruins after we have a babysitter.

Just kidding.

It's just in ruins on a normal, day-day basis.

Especially when the little man is hungry.

He's working on the self-serve policy.

Can't you just see his thoughts?

"Oh hey mom!"

"So, I got kind of hungry and found these little babies."

"They tasted pretty good at first, but then I discovered something." 

"They are way more fun to just rip apart and throw on the floor. Here, let me show you!"

Yes, he's a regular comedian.

Love him.

So it was heart-wrenching when this little guy was crawling around outside one sunny afternoon while I was unloading groceries, and he decided to follow me into the house.

He climbed up to do battle with the metal threshold of our front door...

the threshold won.

I was so upset that he was so hurt and upset that Savannah kept trying to make me feel better!

It was so cute.

She tried to make me smile by asking about "grafatee-tee".

The day before she had been telling the boys all about "grafatee-tee" which she had learned about in a book she read.

Hubby and I had busted out into full-belly laughing.

She meant graffiti.

Anyway, Jack-Jack's hand is healing wonderfully and it doesn't bother him anymore so he's back to crawling around like a maniac.

We just keep it bandaged to stay clean while it heals.

On top of all that, Jackson has decided he likes the idea of walking.


So here are Jackson's first steps!

He's 10 months old. Not my earliest walker, but close.

(On a side note, Savannah and I were messing around with the video clips and this was the result. Don't blame me! Savannah is a very touchy-feely person and wanted it to be "cute". I was trying to get "500 Miles" as the background music.)

(Sorry to those who tried to watch before. Video is fixed!)

September 11, 2014

Giddy-Up Cowboy!

They say hind-sight can be a terrible thing.

But I can honestly say, sometimes it's an amazing thing.

It was at my cousin's surprise birthday party a few months ago where it first came up.

Horseback riding lessons.

One of my cousin's friends was talking about this wonderful lady they knew who gives lessons from her home. They raved about how great she was, how amazing she is with the kids, and how low her prices were. She gives lessons simply because she enjoys it so much.

Well sure lessons would be fun, sure the kids would love it. But you know, it's not something I ever really thought about so, cool info but meh, whatever.

But the more we dealt with Joseph's chorea, which made for one wickedly hard summer especially for him, the more I kept thinking about it.

Horeseback riding.

It just kept coming back to my mind! I kept thinking about how therapeutic it could be for Joseph. He doesn't always enjoying being around people, I think he gets embarrassed too easily.

I didn't know if he would like it or not, but it was worth a shot! 

Hubby wasn't exactly keen on the idea, but I just couldn't shake it, especially when we decided to homeschool.

So I finally got her info and made a phone call. 

We went out for an initial visit and all the kids just had a blast meeting and feeding all the horses. 

But it was Joseph who I watched carefully.

His eyes lit up and a giant smile debuted on his little face. He couldn't get enough of the animals! Yet he seemed calm and content.

After so many tantrums, so many tears, it was like seeing a whole different kid.

I made up my mind then and there.

So the first week of school also brought with it Savannah and Joseph's first riding lesson.

So out we went. I couldn't wait to get some pictures!

Then my camera card was full.

Then the camera battery died.

Story of my life people.

So this week I made sure to go fully empty, charged, and prepared.

And... it was freezing cold and very windy.

But that didn't matter to Savannah and Joseph! No siree-bob. It's one of the only times I can think of that they didn't wimp out of something just because they were cold.

We found some cowboy boots earlier this week and I can say without the tinyist bit of exaggeration that those two literally wore them from the moment they woke up until the time they went to bed for three days straight. 

Joseph looked awesome in his bright blue shorts, bright red shirt, and cowboy boots that first day.

Oh ya.

He even walked around saying "howdy partnah", while Savannah insisted on wearing plaid.

Hope the cowboys don't mind the stereotyping.  Haha!

So here we are in the freezing wind. Joseph leading out "his" pony: Little Red. 

And up we go!

Working on balance.

Loving every second of it.

Seriously, I haven't seen this kid smile this much in a long, long time. He L.O.V.E.S. it.

Brushing Little Red down after a nice ride.

While Joseph rides, Savannah impatiently waits for her turn on "her" horse: Gayla.

She was pretty concerned the first time about how she was going to be able to get up on the "giant horse"

Good thing stairs were invented.

Up she goes!

Also working on balance exercises.

She too loves every minute of it.

I love that both Savannah and Joseph are doing it. They talk about the horses with each other all week long.

Since we go in the middle of the day, Alayna is home from half-day kindergarten so all the kids get to come expect Jacob, who is still in school.

So while the oldest kids ride, the younger ones get to enjoys the other animals.

Jackson was mad every time I set him in the back of the car to get out of the wind.

He preferred hanging out with his pal Bess.

It's the only time he will actually stay put! He'll happily play in one spot as long as Bess is with him. Otherwise I have to carry him or his exploring leads him to taste test everything.

And since rocks and horse poop all looks the same to him right now... needless to say he doesn't get the freedom he wants.

Sometimes it's easier to see the Lord's hand in your life when you look back at how things worked out, especially when you can finally see how all the pieces fit together.

I'm so grateful that Joseph has been watched over and cared for, even when things were at their worst.


It can be a wonderful thing.

September 3, 2014

First Day of School 2014 and Other Random Things

Rabid kittens.

If I could (lovingly) describe how my children have behaved the last couple weeks, it would have to be rabid kittens.

Why? Who knows. 

I could put together a list of all the possible reasons why, but in the end it would still only result in rabid kittens.

So it was good that school started this week because it forced me to put myself back track.

Take command.

Set a routine.

Get rabies shots.

No wait....

Anyhow, yesterday was the first day of school for us.

Savannah (5th grade) and Joseph (3rd grade) are my two homeschoolers this year.

Oh, and Claira, who thinks she wants to do all the same math problems that Savannah and Joseph are doing.

I didn't know she understood Greek.

Joseph was exceptionally excited about the idea, until I came into his room at 6:30am that morning and woke him up along with everyone else.

He was under the very false impression that he would get to sleep in because he was being homeschooled.

MWAH HA HA HA! (laughed lovingly of course)

It will take us a bit to work out the bugs and figured out a good pace and schedule, but I think it will all work out.

After watching Joseph in action for just the first day, I have no doubt whatsoever that homeschooling was the right choice.

As for Jacob (2nd grade) and Alayna (Kindergarten), they were excited to head out the door!

Alayna is beyond thrilled that she "finally" gets to go to school.

In case you couldn't tell.

What is that big scab-looking thing on her face you ask? Funny you should notice such a gigantuous looking mark.

Here's what happened.

The kids were outside playing when Alayna starts screaming at the top of her lungs.

All my children have been, er... blessed *eh hem* with extremely robust local cords and strong lungs to pair them with.

With hand over cheek Alayna manages to scream out to me that she was stung by a wasp in her eye!

Obviously it wasn't in her eye, but close.

Dare I mention that I had crouched down in front of her and turned her head so I could see better? And that said screaming was done directly into my ear?

So don't think I am ignoring you. It's just that I can't hear anymore.

We immediately put on a insect bite/sting pain reliever pad from the first aid kit and I busted out my handy-dandy Melaleuca oil that I always put on the kids stings.

Yes she has been stung before and no, she is not allergic to anything mentioned above.

Yet this was the result.

Weird right? Upon closer inspection it almost looked like she had been stung twice, but I can't be sure.

The oddest thing is now that's it's been a few days, the discolored skin started to peel off, like a burn does!

In fact, by this morning she had about picked away all the discolored skin.

Strangest thing.

So now that we have veered far off the "first day of school" course, I might as well throw in a few adorable pictures of this trouble maker.

He's a crawling machine!

He tries to put everything into his mouth, including ants. (don't worry, no ants have been harmed... yet)

He's realized that standing up on his own is soooooo cool and has been trying to figure out how to move his feet after achieving that stance.

I made the mistake of mentioning to Savannah that Joseph was walking at nine months. Since Jackson is nine and a half months old she thinks he is lagging behind.

I have assured her that is not the case and he still has plenty of time.

Also, if she keeps up with her goal to make him walk before he's ten months, I will lock her away in the tallest tower and chain a dragon in front so that she will never escape!

She didn't seem too concerned.

August 20, 2014

Update on Joseph - Just When I Thought We Had It Figured Out

I apologize for leaving everyone hanging with Joseph's situation. But I appreciate the comments from you asking for an update. It's nice to know that people are thinking about him.

Well let's see, there is much to tell so where to start... I guess from where we left off on his last update.

When Joseph was first diagnosed we were given a prescription for an anti-seizure medication called "Gabapentin" to help control the chorea. Unfortunately, after several weeks of slowly working our way up to the highest dose, it was clear that the medication wasn't working... at all.

Well, other than the side effect of fatigue that is. That seemed to be working just fine.

About three and a half weeks ago, we switched him over to a new medication called, "Depakote". We were told it would take 2-4 weeks before we started seeing any results from it.

The side effects for this would also be fatigue, but include increased appetite (which for Joseph is good), lose of vitamins and minerals in his system, and a possibility for complications with his kidneys... or liver... or both.

I can't remember now. But blood work will need to be done every month to make sure those organs aren't being effected.

As we weened him off one medication and started him on the other, Joseph was exceptionally moody and high strung. It wasn't until someone mentioned that perhaps it was the switching of the meds that was throwing him off that I even considered that could be what it was.

I haven't had enough experience with meds to have even had that thought cross my mind. But I really think that was the case. Now that we have adjusted, his mood has improved significantly.

But it was a really difficult couple of weeks, lots of tantrums and melt-downs, and Hubby was traveling for work.

Sometimes I felt so far out of my parenting league it seemed I didn't know which way was up and which was down.

About the time we switched his medication, we were also to start him on the never-ending round of antibiotics. We had decided to go with the shot every four weeks instead of taking daily doses of liquid.

I had the appointment all set up for his first shot when I was informed that the shot is quite painful. Not at all a quick or easy experience. The liquid is thick and goes in very slowly, also his arm would be very sore for a couple days afterwards.

Well, I for one was getting nervous about it. Joseph was really struggling, we had just found out he had lost five pounds which on him was not good since he is so skinny anyway, and I really was concerned that this would all just be too much for him.

That's when someone blessedly told me the penicillin comes in a pill form! When we talked to Joseph about the two options, he immediately jumped on the pill idea. He doesn't have a problem at all with needles and no matter how many times his blood gets drawn, he doesn't even flinch. But the idea of a painful shot was too much. Since he has to swallow his other medication, it has been no problem throwing in an extra pill.

I'm sure at some point in the future we will re-visit the shot. But for now, this is his daily regiment.

  • Anti-seizure meds
  • Antibiotic
  • Probiotic
  • Multivitamin

It is a lot. But he does remarkably well with it and takes them all like a champ.

About a week and a half ago I thought I started seeing a bit of improvement. But I almost didn't trust myself. I was nervous that perhaps I was just seeing what I wanted to see.

But then others started commenting on how much better he was looking, that he wasn't quite so floppy and twitchy. Even his speech was starting to improve! Yay!

Up till now we had only seen our regular pediatrician and the pediatric neurologist. Yesterday we finally met with a pediatric cardiologist to learn more about his heart.


I should just know by now that every specialist will have new and/or different information than what we were told before.

I was under the impression that we were trying to avoid rheumatic fever so that more damage wouldn't be caused to his heart. But according to the cardiologist, Joseph already had rheumatic fever and that is what caused the chorea and the leaking in his heart valves.

I'm not sure if it's the other doctors that got that wrong or if I just wasn't understanding it right.

But whatever result you got from having strep is what you'll get again if you catch strep again. If he does get it again, his heart valve would probably receive enough damage to need a valve transplant!

So we were then informed that Joseph would need to be on penicillin until he TURNS FORTY YEARS OLD OR UNTIL HE ISN'T AROUND CHILDREN ANYMORE, which will probably be never. So basically he will be on antibiotics FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE!

If I had a hard time swallowing the "until 21" bit, the whole "for the rest of his life" thing is rather mind-whirling for me.

*double deep sigh*

We are suppose to meet with someone from "Infectious Diseases" at some point so we'll be asking them about this.

Other than that his heart looks and sounds really good. But if he ever gets sick, especially with a sore throat, or if any of us get a sore throat, or if he is around anyone with a sore throat we will need to take him in to see the doctor and get a quick strep test.

Every. Single. Time.

The cardiologist also told us that there has been an epidemic in the mid-west since the 1980's that about ten percent of people who have strep don't even know they have it because there are no strep symptoms! This often leads to other very serious health issues.

She said that millions of dollars have been dumped into research to find out what is causing this but they still have no idea why this is the case.


But if for some reason Joseph does catch strep again and shows no signs, we would eventually know because his chorea would come back.

As of now we are still dealing with his chorea, it is still noticeable, but has indeed improved.

It gets bad when he is tired, stressed, or upset.

However the cardiologist said that besides the anti-seizure medication, steroids are usually used to help bring the inflammation down quickly, thus getting rid of the chorea faster.

Well, this is the first time I've heard this! So she is going to look into that for us.

On that note, we had been debating whether or not to send him to school this year or if I should homeschool him.

I had been waiting to see how much his chorea would improve before we decided. I had almost reached the decision that I would send him when we met with the cardiologist.

She encouraged the idea of homeschooling because, despite the improvement, it will still be hard for him to hold still at all, let alone for long periods of time. Same goes for writing and holding a pencil.

Plus will all the stress that would come with school, it would only make the chorea act up and as we all know, kids can be mean. I'm afraid he would get teased and picked on.

Not to mention all those lovely colds and illnesses that he we would constantly be around.

So, I guess I am homeschooling my oldest two this year. I think it will be easier to do the two instead of just Joseph. This way they have a "work" partner. Someone else who is doing school work and they can work together.

Believe it or not, I don't mind the thought of homeschooling, though I do feel rather unprepared for it all.

But I am thankful for the kindness of our Heavenly Father and others who have reached out and helped us through everything. And I know He will continue to help and be with us.

It's all good. It is!


I can do this... right?
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