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Happy 2nd Birthday, Thomas!

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BlowoutCandlesHappy 2nd Birthday my sweet boy! I’m so blessed to be your mommy. Your daddy and I watch you and can’t help but to smile; neither of us were prepared for just how much joy you would bring us. You’re growing up so fast, a little too fast for me, and I find myself with that now familiar lump in my throat thinking about another year gone by. Your personality has blossomed over the last year and here are a few words  I would use to describe you:

  • Spunky – you know what you like and how to get it. You use your cuteness for good and evil. BlowingBubbles2
  • Stubborn
  • Smart (so Smart)
  • Inquisitive
  • Intuitive
  • Tender Hearted
  • Thoughtful

You’re learning how to express your emotions and no matter if you’re feeling happy or sad, the way you tell me always seems to touch my heart. For instance, you were struggling (still struggling a bit) with separation anxiety and after a few very rough days, on the car ride to daycare, out of no where you sweetly said “my happy now.”  After having to literally pry you out of my arms to leave you at day care, those words brought tears to my eyes because no mommy wants to think  they’re the cause of  their children’s sadness.

MakingMusicHere’ are a few cool things about you. You march to the beat of your own drum (as the saying goes). A bike ride typically has many stops to exploring so can get a closer look at bugs, flowers or birds. You’ll randomly stop in the middle of  a walk to play the air guitar (complete with a foot tap) or to pick up two sticks to serve as musical instruments.

You are also very stubborn and for that I’m sorry. You got a double dose of that from your parents but if used for good, it can actually get you far in life. I think it is our stubbornness that has helped your dad and I survive life and it is our stubbornness that drives us to work until we get what we want.

Things you say that make us swoon, or laugh or simply smile:

  • “It’s my favorite” because everything is.
  • “I Love You!” You say this so sweetly and with such genuine love that it makes our hearts explode every time.
  • “My Happy Now.” You use this after a rough day or sometimes just after suffering a skint knee to let us know you’re OK.
  • “That’s enough!” for when you need to get onto us for not behaving very well.😉
  • “Let’s rock a bit.” You use this when you don’t want to go to bed or leave for day care and it gets me every time and I”ll give it just a few more minutes so we can sit and snuggle.
  • “8,9,10! 8,9,10!” You’re response every time we ask you how many there are of anything.

 

Your favorite things include:

RidingMotocycle

  • Animals
  • blowing bubbles
  • sidewalk chalk
  • exploring nature (bugs and birds especially)
  • Your wagon
  • Your tricycle or  “motorcycle” as you call it
  • Daddy’s boat and lures
  • Trains

Zoo_mommyanddaddyAs a matter of fact, to celebrate your birthday, your Poppi and Gigi drove 750 miles to go with us to the zoo. Along with me, your dad, Poppi and Gigi, we also had Uncle Jason, “B,” Joey, Sumi, Chloe and Jasmine. Your favorite animals were the giraffe, gorillas, and lions. You were whispering to Chloe about the lions waking up. Aside from the animals, I think your very favorite part of the entire day was the Tram ride back to the entrance. It was a train to you and you kept saying “All Da Board!”

whisperingtoChloe

I’m not sure if you’ll remember your Birthday and celebrating with family, but if nothing else I just hope you’ll remember feeling loved. Happy Birthday Little One.

Love always,

Mommy

 

IntheLightRidingMotocycle PlayingintheSand2

Oh How I Love His Sensitive Soul

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Image courtesy of Lisa B Photography - http://www.lisabphotos.com/

Image courtesy of Lisa B Photography – http://www.lisabphotos.com/

I’ve often wondered to what capacity my son can love me. Part of me wants him to feel the kind of love for me that I do for him but part of me doesn’t because this much love often brings me to tears. The tears are often good, in an oddly painful way. For instance, after one particularly rough day last week as I sat holding my son, rocking and reading a bedtime story, I was moved to tears because I was just glad to be in that moment. It rejuvenated my heart.

I think I’ve learned more and more about my son’s capacity for love over the last month. One morning, before we even made it out of the neighborhood my son vomited. We pulled over and I changed him into a spare outfit. I’ve learned to always have two on hand because he will always need a change at daycare. As we’re driving down the interstate I hear my son giggling in the backseat saying “all gone” over and over. I looked in the review mirror and was horrified to see him shaking the milk out of his sippy cup onto his clean pants. Panicked, knowing he was down to only one spare pair , I started yelling “no no Thomas, no no!” I wasn’t angry, I just couldn’t reach him and I needed to get his attention.

Poor Thomas did not take my reaction well. I’ve never been that forceful and his lip went out and the tears started flowing. Talk about breaking my heart. I genuinely hurt his feelings. I spent the rest of my ride stretching far back to hold his hand as I tried desperately to explain that mommy didn’t mean to hurt his feelings.

Then just this week something else happened. That same night that I was having a moment, I wiped my tears dry so he wouldn’t see them, pulled him a little tighter and started reading a book we read together often. “Night Night, Little Pookie.” We open the book and Thomas always reads the first line “Oh Pooooooooookie, it’s time for bed now.” Then we got to the last page. The same words I’ve read 100 times to him, but I was feeling emotional that night so perhaps I read it differently. or perhaps he was actually feeling my emotions as I read the words. I’m not sure, but I whispered the words to him as I always do: “There are gentle winds blowing and stars all above you. Night Night, Little Pookie. I love you and love you. And love you and love you. And love you and love you.”

As I read these words, I saw something happening. Thomas’ little lip started poking out. He was fighting an emotion and I’m not sure he even understood it, but he was feeling something powerful. That image has been burned into my brain for days. It was amazing to see and hard to see all at the same time. As you can read, I’m even having trouble putting it into words.

He has the best personality and the best heart. I love his little sensitive soul. So we sat a little longer, rocked a little longer, sang a little longer and snuggled a little longer that night. I think maybe he and I both needed a moment of rejuvenation and  together we got there. Oh how I love his sensitive soul.

Eating Like a Dinosaur

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As you all know by now, my son has Eosiniphilic Esophagitis. For those of you that don’t, this essentially means that my son has an allergy to something, (what we don’t know) and his body reacts by producing Eos in his esophagus which is an over-production of white blood cells that form scarring that, if untreated, will cause the passage way for food going down his esophagus to become smaller and smaller creating a very scary choking hazard. Additionally, it seems that his body also reacts by regurgitating the contents of his stomach. Unfortunately, you never know when it will happen so connecting that to the food he has eaten has been impossible.

So how do you identify the allergy? Elimination Diet and a lot of endoscopies. We’re currently working with an allergist and for round one, we’ve eliminated 4 major allergens from his diet: Wheat, Soy, Milk & Eggs. In other words, convenience foods are a thing of the past. Everything must be made from scratch. I was very lost and uncertain of where to even start to eliminate these allergens. Let’s not forget that my son also has pediatric dysphagia and his therapist has the types of foods he can eat very limited as well.

EatLikeADinosaurBook

Luckily, I have a  friend whose a registered dietitian and she turned me on to the Paleo Parents and they’re amazing recipe and guide book: Eat Like a Dinosaur. I love this book because it isn’t just a recipe book, it has taught me a lot about how removing processed foods and foods our bodies simply were not created to digest can help with so many different issues.

Additionally, they really encourage you to get your children involved in the cooking and baking process. This is really important for us because I work full-time and therefore my time is already limited with Thomas. Add to that the need to prepare ALL of his foods from scratch, and that takes away even more time. So, Thomas does the grocery store runs with me and he helps me cook everything we prepare him. By allowing him to help, he is naturally curious about the taste and he tests everything. Luckily, there isn’t a lot he rejects but occasionally we’ll have to create a second batch to make up for what he eats during preparation. I’m not mad about it.

I’m also very intrigued by and impressed with the untold benefits of simply eating what your body is meant to eat. Not only does it resolve issues related to food allergies, but it also has the possibility to help resolve disciplinary issues, ADHD/ADD, Asthma and more.

The opinions in this post are mine and mine alone. I was NOT compensated in any way for this post; I simply wanted to share something that I find pretty amazing with you.

EatingBunnySoup Preparing Tropical Smoothies Testing Anytime Cookies WashingStrawberries

Holidays and Family

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With both our families 12 hours away, every visit is special.We’re lucky that my sister and brother-in-law moved here a couple of years ago. Otherwise we’d have no family close by for Thomas. We’re also very thankful for technology like Skype so that Thomas can have interactions with those he loves regularly.

We avoid driving long distances with Thomas because his vomiting makes the typical stress of traveling with a baby that much harder but as Jarrad and I drove home through the night New Year’s Eve, Eve with Thomas sleeping in the back seat, we reflected on how important the visit home was for Thomas and how it was so very worth it. Not that our visits before Thomas meant any less, but it’s definitely different. Just watching him interact with family was so special.

Luckily, before we headed down to Bama,  Gigi, Poppi and Uncle Charles (or Chuck as Thomas calls him) made the trip up for Christmas this year so we had extra help on our drive to Bama, including a very patient Gigi that helped me clean and scrub puke from the car seat twice within a couple of hours, someone that didn’t judge me when I accidently drove 20 minutes in the wrong direction and that would turn around and pick the iPad back up from the floor board for Thomas over and over again without complaint (THANKS MOM!).

Unfortunately, I didn’t pull out my camera as much as I should have because I chose more to live in the moment this year, but here is what I did capture. Consider it a holiday recap in photos. Happy New Year!Fall11 Fall14 IMG_1947 Chase Cousinlove HolidayPost_AuntB Mooootorcycle MovieswithGigi2 OpeningGifts Planes Running Running2 SillyThomas TackleThomas ThomasandMommyopeninggifts ThomasCheeseFace ThomasmeetsThomas ThomasMommyandChuck TractorJarradandThomas ChristmasCard4 ChristmasCard6

18 Months – A Letter to Thomas

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18months

Dear Thomas,

18 months have come and gone; just like that. I can’t believe it. I feel like it was just yesterday that we were welcoming you into the world.

You are truly the silliest, most intelligent little human I’ve had the pleasure of knowing (and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased). Wow, it amazes me how quickly you’re growing. You’ve experienced a lot of challenges with the GERD/Dysphagia/Eosinophilic Esophagitis diagnoses you’ve received and that causes bad days and occasionally bad weeks for you but despite all of that you continue to laugh, dance and enjoy life. It makes me wonder just how much more you could enjoy life if those had never been a factor.

In just 18 months, you’ve taught me how to unconditionally love harder than I’ve ever loved before. You’ve taught me to slow down and enjoy every moment and I certainly take every opportunity I can to do just that. If we need to stop and pick up leaves, I say let’s do it. If you need to be held a little longer before bedtime, then I’ll hold you and tickle you upon request, and kiss you as many times as you ask and give you as many hugs as you ask because I know one day those requests will stop, or at least won’t be as often. I love seeing you grow but at the same time I find myself begging you to stop. I wish I could slow down time so I could enjoy each stage a little longer.

I know one day I’ll be looking into the face of an adult and not a child but there are three promises I can give you now that I will keep until I’ve taken my last breath. It doesn’t matter how old you are, I will keep these promises to you.

I will ALWAYS be there when you need me.

I will give as many hugs and kisses as you request (and more) and I will rock until your heart is content (and mine); I will kiss every boo boo; I will help you adjust to new situations and though as you get older you will be faced with situations that won’t always come with an easy answer, I’ll still be there to help you through. NO matter what, I will ALWAYS be there when you need me.

I will say “I’m Sorry”

I can’t promise that I won’t make mistakes as a parent. I will, however, promise you that when the dust settles and the realization that I was wrong is brought to light, I will tell you I’m sorry. I will do this because I want you to do the same. Not just to me, but to your friends, to your current loved ones and to your future loved ones. Those two words are so powerful because they set the stage for forgiveness and healing.

I will ALWAYS Love you

I’m your mother so that means no matter how awesome I am (and I’m pretty awesome, just ask me😉 ) and not matter how amazing you are, there will be times that we will not agree on something and we may even fight. My hope is that you will make good decisions your entire life, but I know what it’s like to be a teenager and a young adult and bad decisions happen. I may be angry, I may be disappointed, I may even feel hurt but there is something that will never change and that is the love I have for you. It runs deeper than any other love could. It’s the awesome part of being a mom. So read these words carefully: No matter what, I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU!

Love Always,

Mommy

Pumpkin Patches and Toddler Lessons

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Last weekend my sister and I took Thomas to  Green Acres Farm for some Fall festivities and pumpkin picking. I guess it’s now a tradition since this is our second year. Last year we spent $10 just to go in and take a 5 minute hay ride with Thomas. At just 6 months, he couldn’t really get into anything but at least we got a few cute pictures.

FirstHalloween

This year I was so excited because he was old enough to enjoy many of the festivities. However, what I did not anticipate is that my son would become “shy guy” and would cling to my sister and I refusing to let go.

ShyGuy

Then something happened. After an hour and a half of trying to get him comfortable, he sees a cute little girl running through the inflatable maze and he forgets all about his insecurities and suddenly he was able to enjoy himself.

Cutegirl

funpic2

funpic3

Funpic1

And when it was time to pick out his pumpkin, Thomas took great care in selecting just the right one.

Thomas_17months_pumpkinpatch2013

Oh, you know that Toddler lesson I mentioned in my title? Well, here’s where it comes in. After the pumpkin patch, we decorated our pumpkins from home. Jarrad and I carved the big pumpkin and Thomas decorated his pumpkin with some fun stickers they gave him at the pumpkin patch. We then carefully placed our pumpkins on the front porch for all to see.

One evening we arrived home after the work day and discovered someone had smashed Thomas’ pumpkin. It was horrible to see Thomas discover his pumpkin. He sadly sat on the ground and pointed to the smashed pumpkin and with a look of concern and a sadness in his voice he just kept saying “punk” (his way of saying pumpkin) over and over again.

Sad Pumpkin

So I bent down with Thomas and told him I was sorry his pumpkin was smashed and “mommy will take you to get a new pumpkin, I promise.” That was enough for Thomas; he was over it and walking towards the front door asking for a pumpkin. That’s a great lesson for adults to learn. I sat and fumed and agonized over someone smashing Thomas’ pumpkin, even though I’m sure it was not a direct attack on Thomas, and remained upset all evening. Thomas, on the other hand, showed me that it was OK to be upset but that there was no use dwelling on something you could not change.  I wish I could be more like Thomas and just live in the moment.

You’ll be happy to know that we did take him back to pick out a new pumpkin

HappyPumpkin

What other lessons could you learn from your children?

Therapy is Boring

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Therapy

So here’s the thing about having a smart kid – you know how some really smart kids don’t excel in school because they’re not being challenged? Well, that’s Thomas with his feeding therapy.

Every time he has been introduced to a new training or practicing technique, he loves it. He practices it over and over again and even enjoys therapy if we make it a game. Until he’s done it for about a week, then he’s over it. Now we’re out of new techniques and the best advice that could be given is to take a week long break then go back to practicing. I’m not a fan of this because I fear his progress will come to a standstill and that’s more frustrating to me than you could imagine.

Add to that my lack of motivation when everything must be forced and you have a bad combination. When he’s a willing participant, we make a lot of progress in a short amount of time but he’s strong willed (Really! I have no clue where he gets this from *looks around to see if anyone is buying it*). So when he’s uninterested, he will just completely refuse to participate. When this happens, I feel a bit like this

On a positive note, despite taking a break from therapy between sessions and simply focusing on chewing, we got a great report at this morning’s session. Per his therapist, he’s at stage 4 and there are only 6 stages. I was told he’s actually progressing faster than most children do. She equates that to our sticking with the plan and never cheating (haha, if she only knew).

So this week he gets to add steamed carrots and sweet peas to the mix. Carrots by themselves and sweet peas in mesh for practice. Also, snack time at home is now supposed to be focused on the solids that he has been approved to eat and keeping purees to meal times. Thomas’ reaction can best be summed up by Cookie Monster.

Despite feeling like we’re not making the progress we could make, I’ve been watching Thomas closely and it’s amazing the progress he has made. I’m so glad we sucked it up and moved forward with Therapy. I am seeing that happy little boy again.

Side note, I did give Thomas a cheat night and allowed him to have steamed broccoli instead of broccoli puree and you would have thought I gave the kid cake for his supper. He screamed “BROC!” over and over and danced in his highchair as he shoved the broccoli in his mouth. I guess for him, as it relates to food, it’s the little things that count and we continue to push forward.

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