Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Turning the Page

Yesterday we started a new chapter for our family.  I went to work (teaching at the community college), Jackson went back to preschool, Matthew went back to daycare (after a year at home with me), Alyssa went to Kindergarten, and Darren went to work.  For the first time in a year, we all had somewhere we needed to be at a particular time--a new routine for all of us!

I love teaching-- I teach Sociology, which is my passion, and I feel honored to share that with others.  I teach 3 classes (2 introductory classes and 1 Marriage and Family), 30 students in each class.  My Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes seem to be a bit lively, not surprising since they are mid-day.  My Tuesday/Thursday class is first thing in the morning, and I'm thinking I will need a coffee pot installed in the classroom to get them going.  It should be a great semester!  I had always wanted to teach as my second career, and I never envisioned that this past year and a half would be the road to that chance.  I can't believe how lucky I am to be doing what I love!  

My only regret is that Matthew had sort of a rough first day back at daycare.  Today was better, but he spent the time I was away with our dear neighbor instead of at school.  He enjoyed that a lot more. I'm hoping he just needs time to adjust back to daycare.  He's only there 12 hours a week (3 days a week), and if he doesn't adjust, we'll figure out another way.  I'm just praying tomorrow is better for him!  

Right now, all of this change still seems a bit crazy, but I do foresee us getting into a routine.  I'm looking forward to it being our 'new normal'.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Streak is Broken

In all of the chaos with school starting, I jumped the gun on wishing Matthew a happy 18 months by a week.  We still have a lot to celebrate!  With Matthew turning 18 months yesterday, he has broken his every other month surgery streak! 

5 months- intestines
7 months- heart
9 months- skull
11 months- ear tubes
13 months- nasal fracture repair
15 months- urology
17 months- NOTHING!!

Yipee!!  With the streak broken, I'm hoping Matthew can stay out of the OR for some time now!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

1st Week of Kinder

Alyssa had a great first week of Kindergarten!  According to Alyssa, the highlights have been--

-going to the gym, which isn't like her preschool gym, because her new gym doesn't have toys. 
-the science center, where they played with a color wheel, making new colors out of others.
-reading books, the classroom has a bunch of books we don't have at home.
-meeting the librarian.
-walking to school in the rain.
-playing with Cleo and TBone (stuffed animals from Clifford)
-the extra curriculars- PE, Art, Music.

From the mommy perspective, it was a great week.  Alyssa was beyond giddy to go to 'big school'.  And each day she came home excited, though a little tired (7 straight hours of kindergarten is a lot).  Walking with her Thursday in the rain made my heart sing. She was just so excited to be going to school, AND to be walking in the rain.  She asked if I would buy her some rain boots so she could jump in all the puddles next time, not just the small ones.  (Thank you Cindy for the hand me downs!)

Every day of the week, she got more and more confident. The first day she let me walk her to her classroom.  Tuesday she asked if I'd wait at the front doors. Wednesday she said she was fine once we got to the bike racks.  Thursday she ran from the corner.  Finally on Friday, before we left the house, she asked if I would wait across the street.  At least she let me kiss her goodbye before she joined the herd of elementary kids crossing the street to the school, but she never looked back. 

I love watching her and her friend Jack enter the school each day ready to conquer whatever may come to them and I equally love watching them come out of school with the big grins on their faces.  I love kindergarten as much as Alyssa does!

Alyssa came home her first day and
wrote this note for me.
Alyssa ready to walk to school in the rain.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rarely Boring

This week Jackson has been high maintenance as he recovers from having his tonsils out. Thankfully I think the worst is finally behind him, but he has a long way to go to be 100%.  

And yesterday Matthew was being pretty high maintenance.  First I noticed that he was just generally fussy.  Then I realized he wouldn't stand, which was weird since that is all he has wanted to do as of late.  Then I realized he wasn't crawling around.  Finally it dawned on me that it was time to call the doctor.  Darren took Matthew to the after hours pediatrician last night, and she suspected that Matthew may have a broken bone in his leg, ankle or foot.  So, first thing this morning, Darren took him in to get x-rays.  Surprisingly, we were able to get Matthew's renal ultrasound done at the same time instead of later this afternoon.  And now we wait...to hear from the pediatrician about Matthew's leg and the nephrologist about Matthew's ultrasound and labs. 

It is rarely boring in the Hoy House! 

Mid-Day Update-- X-rays came back clean, so Matthew likely has a sprain or pulled muscle.  If he's still struggling early next week, we'll take him to the pediatric orthopedist.  Matthew's renal ultrasound was 'stable' meaning no change from the last time, but there was an abnormal reading in his blood work that they want to get rechecked (in hope that it was a lab error).  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beyond Crazy

I thought our life was crazy before--but now with Alyssa in elementary school, and next week, Jackson and Matthew going to preschool 3 days a week, and my teaching 5 days a week (in addition to the doctors appointments, therapy appointments, classwork, dance, tball, etc)--I am afraid crazy just doesn't do our life justice anymore.  We have moved beyond crazy. I keep telling myself that we just need to adjust to the new routines.  That we should be settled by mid-September.  At least that is my sincere hope! 

Yesterday was nutso!  I ran in the morning, came home, threw on a different shirt, rode with Alyssa up to school, rode home, jumped in the shower, grabbed the boys and ran out the door...all before 8:15am.  Matthew had a renal appointment at TCH yesterday.  This is his typical 6 month check up for his 1 kidney, but it was good timing. 

We are trying to eliminate all of the possible reasons for Matthew's increased sleeping/sweating and decreased liquid intake.  We've ruled out cardiology (the pediatrician said the echo report was fine).  So, yesterday we continued down the list to renal.  Matthew had labs drawn, which is never fun.  I always explain I need their best person because Matthew doesn't have radial veins in his arms, but somehow they never believe me until the first phlebotomist can't do it.  This time it only took 2 sticks and 7 minutes of them digging for a vein, poor baby Matthew.  But it was an improvement over last time!  Matthew also has a renal ultrasound scheduled for Friday.  Between the labs and the ultrasound, we should be able to check renal off our list and go on to neurology next (and then endocrinology).  If we make it through these 4 specialties with no issues, I think we'll just chalk up these new symptoms as a Matthew phase...unless it gets worse. 

So, yesterday, after the blood draw, we stopped by medical records to get a copy of Matthew's echo (which still had some out of range measurements, but nothing concerning), quickly fed Matthew and then Jackson and jumped in the car to get home in time to get on the bike to go get Alyssa at school (in the 100+ degree heat).  Whew!  And somehow, next week, I need to fit in teaching 5 days a week and prep work.  I just keep telling myself-- mid-September.  We'll be in a rhythm by mid-September!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Saving for Disney

When Matthew was scheduled for his skull surgery last Fall, I was beyond myself trying to get a picture of the 5 of us before that surgery. I was worried it might be our last family photo.  (Thankfully we have had and hopefully will have many more chances for our family of 5 photos.) 

After the photo session, I came home and freaked out crying. I kept telling Matthew that just because we had the photo, it didn't mean he could leave us.  That day, I told him that he has to fight to be here, and fight to figure out the world.  I needed something for us to look forward to together.  I promised Matthew that we'd take him to Disney World when he learned to walk. 

Well, I better start saving up.  With Matthew, we don't know what he will and won't do in time.  But I'm pretty confident now that I can say that Matthew will walk.  He's pulling up on the furniture, and trying to 'cruise' a few steps on his own.  I am certain that he's going to walk!  It may take him months or even a year to figure it out, but he's going to walk!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jackson's Recovery

Poor Jackson. He's still recovering from getting his tonsils out.  I expected him to bounce back in no time, but he hasn't.  Up until this morning, he wasn't eating much and he was lethargic.  And even though he seems a bit better this morning, he still just wants to be held.  Overall, he is pretty high-maintenance, not himself.  Yesterday I was really concerned, but today I feel like he's made improvement.  Well, in almost all areas except for his breath, which smells like hot garbage.  That was noted as a side effect of the surgery and healing process, but dang!   
Jackson just wanted to lay in bed yesterday.
Definitely unlike himself!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy First Day of Kindergarten, Alyssa!

Alyssa was ready for her first day!
Sitting at her table in her classroom,
opening her play-doh.
She didn't blink an eye when we left. 
Alyssa was ready to play and learn!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy 18 Months!

Matthew turned 18 months today.  He may not talk or walk like a typical 18 month old, but he does communicate and he gets where he wants to go!

He's come such a long way in these short 18 months!  Matthew waves hi and good-bye, he gives high-fours, he army crawls (modified), he feeds himself small bites of table food, he throws a ball, he can transition from crawling to sitting, he holds his own bottle (when he takes liquid, and throws the bottle when he's done), and he is learning to stand.  I'm just awed at the progress he's made!

He loves...
...the dogs.
...being with Alyssa and Jackson.
...being held.  
...playing with blocks.
...standing in his exersaucer.
...doors and door stops.
...being upside down.
...remote controls and headphones.
...crawling to the edge of the bed.

Matthew still has the sweetest disposition. He rarely cries. He's content to just be with us.  When you talk with him, he makes direct eye contact with those piercing blue eyes. And when he gets really happy, he still gives us the squinty grin.  Happy 18th month to our sweet baby Matthew!

Jackson's Tonsils

Jackson had his tonsils removed yesterday.  They were continuously inflamed and when they were removed, they were infected.  Our pediatrician had previously joked that they were so big, we should give them names.  

According to Darren who took Jackson to TCH for the procedure, Jackson was a trooper.  He was a little grumpy coming out, but recovered well from the anesthesia.  After his required 2 hour wait in recovery, they were home by 2pm yesterday. 

Today, Jackson's a little less energetic than usual, but he seems to be healing remarkably well.  And although he's enjoying his jello and pudding, he seems to be tolerating more solid foods.  Very good news.

Our ENT has indicated that having the tonsils out should improve Jackson's breathing, his speech (not so nasally), and possibly even his sleep.  We have already noticed a change in Jackson's voice.  It is more crisp, a lot less nasally.  I wished I had taped his voice before, as now I can't even really remember what it sounded like, except that it was different. 

Jackson watching WordWorld while
waiting his 2 hours in recovery.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Giddy Girl

Alyssa met her teacher today and toured the school and classroom.  Can't wait for kindergarten to start in 3 days!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gift of Today

Some days I forget this in the hustle and bustle of life, but as we are looking forward to new milestones (Alyssa going to Kindergarten, starting my new job, and Matthew starting daycare), I am very much reminded how lucky we are to have been given the gift of another day.  Thank you God for the gift of today!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kids' Moods

Alyssa is so very excited for school to start.  Yesterday her kindergarten teacher called to introduce herself and invite us to the meet the teacher on Friday.  Alyssa heard it was her teacher and she stood right next to me, jumping up and down, mouthing to me that she'd like to say hello.  Alyssa just beamed when she heard her teachers voice.  Alyssa has been in a great mood this week and that call, combined with the fact that there are only 2 days till meet the teacher and 5 days till school starts, she's just giddy.  This morning she came in to tell me about her dream (that she was in WordWorld- a tv show), and she tells me "I just love dreams.  No one can take them away from me. I can see my old preschool teachers in my dreams."  She's just so happy right now!   

And on the other hand, there is Jackson.  Lately I've been noticing that he reminds me a bit of Eeyore (the donkey from Winnie the Pooh). He cracks me up.  His favorite Star Wars line right now is "I've got a bad feeling about this."  It so fits him.  We've always said there is nothing better than Jackson in a good mood, and I just wish we would see it more often. 

And to remind us to be joyful, there is Matthew.  He finds joy in everything.  As soon as I put his foot braces on, he clicks them together and smiles.  He'll be crawling around on the floor, and realize that he can bang the braces against the floor and they make a loud clicking noise.  He'll do it half a dozen times and just smile.  Almost everything makes him happy.  He still has such a sweet disposition

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Random Bits

-Matthew has been all about doors lately--opening and closing them and playing with the door stopper.  It is nice to see him doing something so very typical for a kid.

-Jackson is making slow and steady progress learning his letters and numbers.  Either I've gotten used to working with him or he's catching on faster because it is much less frustrating working with him than it was 2 months ago.

-Alyssa is so very ready for school to start.  First thing every morning she tells us how many days till kindergarten.  We've done a few dry runs up to school and are working on making our morning routine a bit more efficient.

-Alyssa and Jackson have been all about Star Wars lately.  We listen to the radio version in the car, they play the Star Wars Lego game on the Wii when we let them, they look at the books at home, and anytime we look at toys at the store they have to check out the action figures and Lego sets. 

-Matthew is pretty independent these days.  He still does a modified army crawl, which is probably the hardest way to get around, but he does it and he's pretty fast. It is nice to be able to put him down and watch him go where ever his heart desires.

-Jackson's tonsils are coming out Friday, the same day as Alyssa's meet the teacher.  For once, we have conflicting schedules that have nothing to do with Matthew.

-We still haven't heard the results from Matthew's echo despite several messages for the cardiologist.  We will be going back to the private cardiologist for the next heart check.

-We know things are about to get crazy with the start of school for Alyssa next week, then Jackson and Matthew and I the following week.  In addition to that craziness, Alyssa started dance (ballet/tap) and Jackson is starting t-ball.  Should make for an interesting few weeks till we get into a rhythm.
I tried to convince her to play softball, but
Alyssa had her heart set on dance.

 Matthew with the door stop and on the move.
Jackson built his 'pod racer' (from Star Wars- Ep 1) out of pillows,
and Alyssa and Matthew are taking a ride.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Micro Milestones

Before Matthew, I had no idea that children's major developmental milestones were comprised of many micro-milestones.  I guess I hadn't ever thought about it, because all though it is likely that every child has to go through the micro-milestones to get to the major ones, they do them for a very short period of time.  

I remember Alyssa and Jackson cruising (walking holding on to furniture), then standing independently, then walking.  I'm learning that even those seemingly interim steps to walking are predicated by more micro-milestones, like putting pressure on the legs, getting on 'tall knees', learning to stand by putting nose over toes, supported standing, learning to shift balance, etc.  I'm sure Alyssa and Jackson had to hit these micro-milestones before they walked, but I didn't notice because they did them for a day or maybe a week.  I notice with Matthew because he does them for weeks, maybe months.  He is making steady progress, hitting micro-milestones consistently, but the major milestones are a slow struggle. 

Matthew on 'tall knees', a step toward walking.
Just this morning, for the first time,
we found Mattie standing in his crib.
Guess he's figured out "nose over toes".

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gastroperisis Meds- Update

So, it has been over 2 weeks that Matthew has been on his gastroperisis meds, and I'm excited to say that we think they are working.  

Pre-medicine, Matthew would eat a handful of table food and more times than naught, he would throw it all up.  Since the meds, he's been eating much more table food and he hasn't thrown up at all.  Very exciting news!  

We now aren't fearful of letting him try new things.  In the past 2 weeks he has tried lots of new things-- blueberries, cereal, black beans, small bits of bread, broccoli, carrots, corn, peas, etc.  He still gets baby food as his main source of sustenance, but he has made huge progress toward eating non-pureed food!  I guess the frustration over working with the GI's unbelievably annoying nurse and the cost of the meds have been worth it!  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

No News=Good News?

Yesterday Matthew had his echo cardiogram, but we still haven't heard from the cardiologist. Though we haven't heard the official results, the tech did say that if there was something of concern, she wouldn't have let us leave.  And since we left, I guess no news is good news right now.  As well, yesterday was a pretty good day for Matthew, only sleeping 16 hours instead of the 18 he has been sleeping lately.  And he took twice as much liquid as he has been.  We know one day doesn't mean all is well, but hopeful it is the beginning of a good stretch. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No Big News Today

We were hoping to either put our minds at ease today or have some answers about what is going on with Matthew. Unfortunately, our cardiology appointment didn't really do either.  The echo cardiogram technician was out, so we didn't get the echo that I'm hopeful will put our minds at ease.  We did meet with the cardiologist and though he doesn't believe that Matthew's symptoms are heart related (though Matthew has fooled people in the past---remember the cardiologist trying to say that his very large, very dangerous PDA was just allergies or asthma?), the cardiologist does believe that there is something going on with Matthew that needs further investigation. 

The echo is the key to determine if it is cardiac related.  Thankfully we were pushed into the schedule and it is tomorrow morning first thing.  If the echo shows all is well, the cardiologist has referred us to a neurologist.  (A specialist we haven't seen yet!) There is a 4 month wait at TCH for neurology, so we received a recommendation for a private neurologist from our pediatrician. Matthew has an appointment there in a month.  I'm hopeful that these symptoms will subside in that time, but as our pediatrician mentioned today, it might not be such a bad idea to have a neurological evaluation of Matthew anyway.

Also today Matthew had an appointment with an allergist.  Matthew has had bumps on his legs and sometimes arms for months and we thought we'd at least get it checked.  Matthew was tested for a host of things, and he wasn't allergic to any of them.  That was a relief!  He just has a common skin condition that should be treated with a lotion.  Although these bumps don't seem to bother him, we do hope they will clear up so his skin will feel like baby skin instead of sandpaper. 

Hopefully tomorrow we'll confirm that Matthew's heart is healthy and we'll start down the list of other things it could be.  And we'll continue to pray that it is really nothing but a random group of events and they all resolve on their own.  We hope and pray.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy Friendship Day

Happy Friendship Day!

I can't imagine how much more difficult life would be without our friends.  They have shown us tremendous amounts of love, compassion, support, and wisdom during our most trying times and have celebrated, smiled, and been joyous with us during our best times.  Yet again, mere words cannot convey the amount of thanks we owe to our friends...but thank you!

"Walking with a friend in the dark is better
than walking alone in the light."
- Helen Keller

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Days Are Long

Yesterday was the kind of day that reminded me that with kids the days are long but the years are short.

We made our first dry run bicycle ride up to the elementary school.  We made it up there and back in respectable time.  While I watched Alyssa and Jackson swing on the swings and tell jokes to each other, I was amazed that my little babies had turned into these big kids.  The years are short!

Then to make sure I didn't get too nostalgic, both Alyssa and Jackson had complete meltdowns right after lunch. The crying, wailing, 'mommy is mean' kind of meltdown...both of them at the same time.  The days are long!

To finish off our day, we went over to a street festival in a neighboring town.  It was a grand time.  Matthew was distracted enough to take some milk (yipee!). Alyssa had a ball sliding on the big bouncy slides.  Jackson got his face painted like Spiderman (though at the end of the evening he was saying it was Darth Maul).  Lots of small town fun!  And a very nice end to the day!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lovin' the Outfit

This is what happens when I let Alyssa pick out her socks and shoes.  Yes, the socks do match and the church shoes bring a touch of class to the outfit. I love this girl (and the boy too)!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I vacillate between worrying about Matthew and thinking that it is all in my head. 

Making me think that something is amiss with Matthew-- The excessive sleeping, increased hemoglobin, decreased oxygen saturation rates, the sweating when no one else is, and now Matthew has decided he won't take liquids.  A few weeks ago, he was taking 16-20 oz of milk/formula (in addition to baby food). Now we are lucky to get  3-6 oz of liquid in him a day.  We've tried various methods (bottle, sippy cup, cup), various liquids (milk, formula, water, sports drink), and various locales (while he's in his chair, in the car, on his changing pad, in our arms, etc).  Nothing seems to help and we cannot get him to take anymore, no matter what.  Again, Matthew is making sure we know that you can lead a baby to the liquid, but you can't make him drink.  We learned this lesson the hard way a year ago, I'd prefer not to be reminded. 

All of these things...are they symptoms of 1 issue, or a symptom of several issues, or is it nothing?

Making me think that these are all random events and Matthew is just fine--

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Happy August

Not much new news from the Hoy House. 

We haven't heard back from the cardiology assistant in regards to moving up Matthew's cardiology appointment.  I haven't been pressing because with his good heart xray, I just don't feel like he is in danger.  I do feel like we need to be prudent and get his heart checked because something is going on (with the sleeping, the increased hemoglobin, the sweating, etc) but a week from today seems reasonable.  Of course, that may change in a moment and we'll do whatever we need to do. 

Besides 2 therapy appointments for Matthew this week, Jackson has an ENT appointment to talk about removing his tonsils.  I'm hopeful we can get that procedure scheduled before school starts.  I know the ENT has OR time on Fridays, maybe it will even be this Friday.

We took the older kids out of preschool for the month of August.  So, all 3 are home for the next 3 weeks.  At first, I was hoping to take them on a road adventure to visit our friends up north, but with Matthew's upcoming appointments and current issues, we are just hanging around the homestead.  And with Matthew's increased need for sleep and the very warm weather, we are having to hang out in the house more than I would like.    Hopefully we can carve out some time at the pool, the library, and have a few other adventures in our time together before school starts!