Friday, December 31, 2010

Trains, Trains, and More Trains

Last year, we began a family tradition of seeing a model train exhibit in a mall near us. The trains are a fund raiser for a children's hospital and well worth seeing every year. The exhibit is set-up differently each year and doesn't cease to be marvelous.

This year, Snugglebug has been very interested in trains, and we knew this tradition was going to be a big hit with him. It was!! He enjoyed it so much that we circled the room three times before leaving. He kept signing, "More Trains. More Trains."

He was enthralled with every single train, and we noticed that no matter how many times we went through the exhibit we saw more things that we had not seen before. We were just as amazed as he was. This tradition will be one that we keep for quite a few years!

I want this Christmas tree! There are three trains circling this tree. It is absolutely the most magical and spectacular Christmas tree I have ever seen! Whoever designed this gets a huge round of applause from me!!

My favorite pose. He is leaning on the plexi-glass and watching the trains go by.
He would do this for several minutes at a time, just taking it all in.

"Look at that one, Daddy."

"More Trains! More Trains!" Both words signed together
over...and over...and over!! Love it!!

He just assumed we weren't paying attention to the trains.
He pointed them out to us to make sure we saw them.
(I wonder where he learned this.) She asks, sarcastically.

Our Wonderful Families

This year was the year of family photos. At gatherings of both my family and my husband's family, someone suggested family photos. This great idea is often overlooked and forgotten due to the milieu of gift opening. But, this year it was a priority to someone and now we have the gift that keeps on sharing throughout the coming year. Here are a few photos of our fabulous families:

Papa and Grandma Felini
My husband's parents

Three generations of Felini men. This one will be framed
and hang on the wall next to Papa Felini's father.

My beautiful family.

The Western Clan
My siblings, their children, and my parents.

Grandpa and Mama Gran Western
My parents

All total, Snugglebug has:
2 sets of Grandparents, both still together and not divorced
8 Aunts
6 Uncles
12 Cousins
9 Second Cousins

I don't dare count any higher than that or you'll be able to guess the grade I received in basic college math. :-)

Operation Actually Read the Bible, Year 2 Complete

Two years ago, my friend Becky and I began trekking through the Bible. She aspired to read the Bible in a year and did! I aspired to study the Bible but in five years. The goal was a chapter a day read more than once so as to truly absorb the scriptures.

I have done just that and am actually ahead of schedule. January begins Year Three of my study through the Bible. I am more than half through the Bible and if I keep reading at the same rate should finish in 18 months but I hope to finish by this time next year since many of the Old Testament books are short.

I spent a great deal of time reading the Old Testament this year. I started alternating Old Testament and New Testament books but was quickly absorbed by the men of faith throughout the Old Testament. I read Genesis straight through to 1st and 2nd Kings jumping over 1st and 2nd Chronicles to read about the women of faith in Esther and Ruth. I learned so much from the men of old and am inspired by their faith and tenacity.

This fall I read the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and John will start the new year. The Gospels as well as the previously read Old Testament books have shown me the depth of God's Grace that I never fully understood.

As a mom, reading time is practically nill. I read before falling asleep, which sometimes allows me 5 minutes to read and sometimes an hour. You don't always accomplish much when you fall asleep 5 minutes after picking up your book.

From time to time, I have taken a break from the scriptures to quickly devour another book, thus the reviews you see from time to time. I don't have time to read my Bible and a book, so breaks are required. It works and keeps me from being burned out on one book.

In the meantime, I am making quite a list of books that I want to read when time allows me to go back to devouring books again.

.....And as 2011 begins, my trek through the Bible continues....

Where'd November Go?

I'm not sure where November went. I searched high and low and found it right where it should be, sandwiched right between October and December. I questioned November thoroughly about his absence, and he assured me that he had been present for all 30 days. I distinctly remembered only one day (Thanksgiving) in November. But, he argued that November had 30 days and even quoted the poem, "Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November..." Yes, he was right. November does have 30 days, so now I must search for the other 29 that I seem to have misplaced.

Don't know the poem. You can follow this link to see the original poem and some modern renditions.

Halloween and the Almost Costume

Halloween, while ages ago, deserves a post for several reasons. The first is that I promised someone to post on Snugglebug's first Halloween adventure complete with costume. The second is because it was the day before what turned out to be a VERY important doctor's appointment.

Halloween didn't exactly go as planned which I am learning happens all the time with kids. Snugglebug's costume was simple. It was a police shirt, costume hat, handcuffs to be secured to his belt, and a badge. If you are picturing a miniature of Snugglebug's policeman daddy, then you are correct.

Snugglebug, however, had other ideas. He got up grumpy, fussy, and refusing to eat which made things even worse. When his blood sugar gets to a certain level, he gets really grouchy. We didn't know what was wrong except that he just seemed to not feel well. He didn't have a cold or a fever. He wasn't constipated. Nothing seemed to add up except that he was a fussy, grouch.

So, when it came time to put on the costume, as simple as it was, he refused. He wore the t-shirt but that was it. No costume for this kid! But, off we went to the church's fall festival. We thought for sure he would perk up when he saw the other kids in their costumes and all the fun games. But, alas, he wasn't happy. He wouldn't even allow a cute photo. So, I have no photo of Mr. Grump from Halloween. It is just as well. Who wants to remember a mood like that.

Snugglebug did find a table where they were giving away candy and no game participation was required. He made himself at home at this table and pigged out on chocolate which actually helped his mood. (He's my son. Chocolate always lifts my mood too.)

The next day, he was still in a mood. We had speech therapy followed by a GI appointment. Speech therapy was a complete waste of time but the GI appointment was a turning point.

This summer, this GI had discovered Snugglebug was bleeding internally from massive amounts of acid collecting in his stomach and causing extremely bad reflux. He changed his acid reflux medication and put Snugglebug on a dairy-free diet. With the exception of the chocolate, the day before, we adhered to the new rules fairly well. But, alas, I saw no real change. The new medication didn't seem to be doing its job either.

The doctor changed his medication once again. This would be Snugglebug's fourth acid reflux medication change. I also, reluctantly, agreed to stay on the dairy free diet for one more month (which turned out to be closer to two months) until another endoscopy could be performed to see if the new diet was helping.

Within a week of starting the new medication, Snugglebug was a new kid. He was sleeping through the night for the first time ever. He was eating better! And he wasn't a grump!

After 2 1/2 years, we finally found a medication to control Snugglebug's acid reflux!!

Shortly before Christmas another endoscopy was done (Snugglebug's third in 6 months). The doctor was pleased with the results. The stomach bleeding was gone, the acid was down, and his esophagus was healed. The new medication was working!!

We, the doctor and I, compromised on the diet restrictions. Snugglebug can have cheese, but not milk or milk products. He can eat birthday cake and ice cream when we go out or to parties, but at home will remain dairy free. That's a compromise I can live with. And now, I have a happy child that I can live with!!

Next year, I'll bet he'll wear his Halloween costume and play all the games.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Note: I have a long list of blog posts to catch everyone up. Unfortunately, our week of break has turned into a week of specialist's appointments as we try to beat the Jan. 1 deadline when deductibles roll over. Now, back to the regularly scheduled post.

New year's resolutions are on the mind's of many as we approach January 1st. I typically have a list of things I would like to get done but they are by no means resolutions for the new year. It is the ongoing to-do list that typically encompasses my entire white board each week.

Once at a small group meeting (many years ago, while I was still in college) the question was for us to list our new year's resolutions. I didn't have any, but had read a truly insightful Garfield cartoon earlier that day.

The Garfield cartoon had Jon making his usual list of resolutions. Garfield snuggled in his bed, under his blanket says that his resolution is "to lower his expectations." I decided to announce that I was following the example of a cartoon cat who likes lasagna and lots of naps.

Despite my lack of resolutions, I have no lack of drive and no lack of plans for the future. I don't always reach those goals, but I work hard to at least give it a try.

As a mom, I have found that long-term goals often go unmet, and I can plan all I want and those plans fall through. I can have a to-do list the entire length of my whiteboard, and if it is a good day, check off one of those items. Typically, my expectations are to complete the whole list in one day and have the rest of the week free for the therapy appointments, playdates, park visits, etc. Typically, that never happens. I've really struggled with the fact that I just never accomplish what I want to anymore. The post-baby, new-mom world is a struggle for me. I've been really focusing on this struggle this past year and have come to this knowledge:

I need to lower my expectations!!

I expect so much of myself that I can't appreciate what was accomplished. I am focused on how I didn't reach my goal or fell short of completing my to-do list. I find myself falling into a bit of depression when plans fall through or don't go according to plan.

So, after reading some really great mommy advice books including, I WAS A REALLY GOOD MOM BEFORE I HAD KIDS and I'D TRADE MY HUSBAND FOR A HOUSEKEEPER, I am following the advice of a lasagna loving cat. I'm lowering my expectations. My new year's resolution is to let it go when plans don't work out, to "play it by ear" more. To not be depressed when goals aren't met, but to admit that that's part of life.

As a mom, my only goal should be to raise a godly son who loves the Lord. He can't see love if I am frustrated over not meeting my own expectations.

This doesn't mean I am putting away the whiteboard or the to-do list. The laundry still has to be done. Doctor's appointments must still be made and attended. Insurance paperwork must still be completed. The to-do list will never go away but my expectation of completing everything on the list in one day or even one week will go away.

Just to prove that I am following my new lower expectation resolution. Christmas cards will be in the mail today...hopefully (2 days before the new year.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010