Monday, December 8, 2014

7 Quick Takes Monday (?) of Breaking the Plague of Silence

Yes, yes, I know....I once again allowed the crickets to overcome my blog. I mean for Pete's sake, I haven't written in a month! 7QT has relocated since then! Thankfully it has not been a plague of biblical proportions, and we're all surviving over here, we've just had a lot of things going on. So in honor of the hosting duties moving to Kelly @ This Ain't The Lyceum, I figured this was a good time to jump back in...even if it is a Monday. So I'll do my best to summarize the last month of our life in seven theoretically quick takes (have to be pretty quick, since I need to finish before Sunshine comes home from gymnastics!), and expand upon parts of them at a later time.


Sunshine had a really good birthday. She got one gift from us, but a big one. I took one corner of my office/our school room and turned it into what we're calling her "creation station". This will most definitely be getting a post of it's own! She loves doing crafty stuff, but lacked good space for both creating and storing in such a way that her materials and projects would be safe from the wrath of Fidget. So I decided to repurpose a lot of materials, attempting to focus my budget on getting her some more grown-up, quality supplies, and give her a space in which to express herself. She's been absolutely in love, and declared it the best present ever. More pics will come later, but here's a teaser of my artist at work.


A couple weeks after her actual birthday we had her party here at home. She chose a Lego Friends theme, and I made my first attempt at decorating with (marshmallow) fondant! Not professional quality, but I don't think anyone will post it on cake wrecks, so I'll call it a success! The kids played in the yard, we had a mega block relay race and a pin the stud on the Lego brick game, and of course time for the kids to just play in her big bin of Legos. And she got lots of craft kits to add to the creation station, which made her very happy. She also got a Lego Friends advent calendar which she is very much enjoying.


The day before her party, the four of us went out to a nearby state park for a family Thanksgiving celebration with her Girl Scout troop. It was great to see them putting their newly acquired fire building and camp cooking skills to use! We weren't sure how Fidget would do with so much open space to run, and us occasionally being busy and not able to attend to him closely, so we arranged for one of his ABA therapists to come with us as a community outing. He did better than I expected, and it was good social skill practice for him.


Our personal Thanksgiving had a strange vibe to it this year, with my Dad gone, but we had a good time celebrating at my sister's house. For once we didn't try to see both families, and I got to enjoy the entire Macy's parade which I haven't done in awhile. I also made some new recipes to meet Fidget's GFCF diet, which came out really good! A cinnamon no-roll, which was almost more cake like, for breakfast; spinach mushroom quinoa; and an apple cranberry pie. I also made some rolls with my favorite GF baking mix.


Sunshine and I have been doing a lot more with her DIY membership. She has earned her Maker skill badge, and has many more in progress. One of the things that we have done is to finally start her Etsy store! She's been planning this since late spring, and spent the summer and fall building up her inventory. She is selling Rainbow Loom accessories for American Girl dolls! She's had lots of views and a few things added as favorites, but no sales yet. I'm hoping she will get at least a couple before Christmas, as to not squash her little entrepreneurial spirit.


Shortly after Thanksgiving, Papa Bear had to go to Florida for about a week for work. This was his first trip out of town since Fidget's diagnosis, and I could definitely tell the difference all his therapy has made. Before, although I'm sure he noticed, he never expressed any awareness at his father's absence, but this time we had a great many circular conversations about "Daddy go bye-bye. Daddy go work. Daddy go white truck. Daddy come back?" "Yes, Daddy is at work, very far away. He will come back, but not tonight." "Not back night. Daddy go work. Daddy go white truck. Daddy come back." That made it even cuter though to see his excitement to talk to Papa Bear on FaceTime in the evenings.


We had been prepared for Papa Bear to be gone even longer, so we decided that we would forgo our annual trip to the Christmas tree farm and go with an artificial tree. I got it put together while Sunshine was at gymnastics last week, then she and I decorated it. She was quite miffed about the break in tradition at first, and I think doubted my ability to make it actually look like a real tree, but even she conceded that it was easier to decorate, since we could make holes where we needed them, and didn't have to worry about "pokey, scratchy needles." And I think not a bad decorating job, for a 7yo and a Mom on Wheels :-)

In other advent preparations, we've got our advent wreath up, and are doing our Jesse Tree using the ornaments Sunshine made last year (printables she colored, and then we glued on to cardboard from soft drink boxes to make stronger). And of course, our nativity went up before anything. It will also be the absolute last thing we take down. My sister gave us a Fontanini 5" set as our wedding gift, and it's been one of the most used things we received. We've also added a few pieces over the years. We don't do the travelling Holy Family or Wise Men, but we do have the manger empty, and baby Jesus waiting up in the loft. On Christmas morning we will sing Happy Birthday and put him in before opening any of our gifts.

We have an elf in our family, though not the typical Elf on the Shelf. I've never been fond of the fact that the EotS is supposed to be there practically as a spy for Santa, as well as the restriction on the kids touching them. Our elf Hazel is an Elf Magic elf, and her story specifically mentions that she is here to spread joy and remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. In our house, Hazel does some of the silly things like EotS, some of the Kindness Elves type things, and some religious things like reading scripture, or playing with the nativity. Last year she even brought the gifts for St Nicholas Day! In order for Hazel to "keep her magic" she has to be set out each night and sprinkled with "magic snowflakes" and needs snacks of ice water and crackers. So if Sunshine doesn't take care of Hazel, we don't have any elfcapades to discover in the morning.

So that pretty well brings us up to now! Tomorrow is a big day, at Fidget's monthly clinic meeting we will be joined by his caseworker from early intervention and a representative from the school district to discuss his transition of services that will occur when he turns three in March. Our current plan is to send him to our parish preschool part-time with a shadow from his ABA provider, but are hoping we can still maintain speech and OT from the school district. Either way it should be quite informative; praying that it is a fruitful meeting as well!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Of the Birthday Girl

Hello all!  This weekend is Sunshine's birthday, so today's quick takes are all dedicated to her!

A very brief birth story: we got pregnant with Sunshine almost exactly two years after I became a woman on wheels. Because of my paralysis, I was automatically considered high risk, and saw both my regular OB and maternal-fetal medicine the entire pregnancy. Because of risks that I could go into labor undetected, and an unattended delivery could become a serious emergency, our plan was always an induction at 39 weeks, with immediate epidural to avoid the complication of autonomic dysreflexia. Pretty much from the beginning, she measured small, but was growing steadily. At about 35 1/2 weeks, literally the day after our baby shower, it was discovered on ultrasound that she was now "too small", and MFM recommended moving up delivery day to 37 weeks. Two days later, though, it was discovered that I had large amounts of protein in my urine, and as my blood pressure was also elevated I was admitted straight to the medical obstetric unit due to pre-eclampsia. The doctors took that afternoon and the next day to stabilize my condition and monitor Sunshine, and we induced on Friday morning. We started at 8:30am and Sunshine slid her way into the world - without a single push from me and almost before the doctor was ready - at 2:56pm. She was 4lb 12oz and 18 inches long, so quite tiny for a 36w baby, but perfectly healthy. She roomed in with me, and we only stayed one extra night for some temperature regulation issues she had before bringing our little sack of sugar home.

We had just started building our house when we found out I was pregnant. We had hoped to be in the house by the time she was born, but we were doing all the interior work ourselves, and VASTLY underestimated the time involved. The day after we brought her home, we received a certified letter saying that the mobile home park we were living in was shutting down. Since we had the house under construction, we opted to sell the trailer and let them move it, rather than moving it ourselves, and moved in with my sister for eight months. We then stayed in a studio for about 4mo until the house was complete. Our first night sleeping here was Christmas Eve, when she was 13 months old.

As a baby and toddler she was the type of kid who made this whole parenting gig look easy. It was clear she had a lot to say from the beginning; I can remember her at 5mo old, sitting with me babbling intensely and energetically, as if telling me a story. Her first word was "mama" at nine months, and she had about half a dozen words by her first birthday. I tried to keep up with her words until she was about 18mo; at that point she started gaining words so fast I couldn't keep up! By her second birthday she was already speaking in 5-6 work sentences! She was very compliant as a 2yo, and never really went through the terrible twos; looking back this was probably an early sign of asynchronous development, which often accompanies giftedness.

Most of her defiance and testing limits came from ages 3-5. Over the last year things have really improved, though she still feels emotion very intensely. Not in a bipolar way, just that the peaks of her highs and lows are more extreme than most people. This can be challenging when they are feelings of anger, sadness, fear, or frustration; but it also makes her feelings of joy, happiness, and excitement that much sweeter. Not many turning-seven year olds I know still stop what they're doing and run outside to see an airplane or helicopter fly overhead! She struggles with frustration and perfectionism, but is also very helpful, compassionate, and giving. And I don't think she's ever met a stranger; she manages to find a friend everywhere she goes!

By her second birthday she knew all her letters, basic colors, and basic shapes. I started suspecting her giftedness around her third birthday. She had an intense ability to concentrate; she would sit and play with puzzles, little people, or look at books for hours at a time! I vividly recall a conversation around that time, one day after preschool as we were eating a snack of teddy grahams and yogurt. I commented that our snack of "bears" started with the letter B, and she then embarked on an hour long conversation of "what else starts with B?" All her teachers commented how quickly she picked up new information, the complexity of tasks she could handle, even the way she could engage adults in conversations. We considered trying to put her into kindergarten "early", still the fall that she turned five but her birthday came about six weeks after the cutoff. We discovered that our school district doesn't even consider it, so we left her in preschool while we assessed our educational options. We loved the parochial school we visited but it was well out of our budget, and we just had a nagging feeling that while we both did fine in public school, it just didn't seem like the best fit for her. I did some research about home schooling, and brought up the issue to Papa Bear. He was a bit skeptical of how we would do with it, but agreed to let us give it a shot for kindergarten; we surmised that she was so far ahead, even if my attempt to homeschool was an abysmal failure she wouldn't be behind if we put her in school for first grade. We made the decision in late February, and despite still being in preschool, she wanted to start right away! So we started part-time right before Easter of 2013.

Here we are about 19 months later, and it has gone much better than any of us thought. She has completed kindergarten, first grade, and we are now working on second grade (at a minimum). We haven't had much opportunity to be active with our local homeschool group, but she's involved in a homeschool gymnastics class, Girl Scouts, our church children's choir, as well as CCD classes to help her maintain the skill of appropriate classroom behavior. She also spends lots of time playing with neighborhood kids of many ages, so she certainly isn't missing out on opportunities for social time!  Her favorite things in school are reading, logic puzzles, science and art projects, and world geography. To help me make sure I incorporate lots of hands-on activities for her, I have signed her up on the DIY website, where she can explore skill building activities in artistic, scientific, and athletic areas.  We also use the Little Passports mail subscription to give us a jumping-off point for our geography exploration, and incorporate reading, art, cooking, and even TV programs. (She loves Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern!)

Other Aubrey favorites & fun facts:
Colors - pink and purple, also anything red white & blue;
Foods - aside from the usual kid stuff, she loves salad (I used to pack it in her preschool lunch box!), hummus, and sushi;
Sports - she only does gymnastics, but likes to watch baseball and football with us. Some time in the coming year she wants to try out a team sport, maybe soccer
Books - she is currently working on the Castle Glower series by Jessica Day George
TV shows - Full House, Wild Kratts, Tanked, Treehouse Masters, Bizarre Foods
Activities - Reading, riding her bike, creating art projects, singing
Toys - Lego Friends, American Girl, Barbies
Future aspirations - a mommy, a religious sister (gonna have to pick one way or the other on those two!), a fireman, "someone who teaches people to drive with their hands" (aka an OT who specializes in hand control driver training), a teacher, "a tv person who gets to travel the world"

I couldn't be more proud of the sweet kid she has become. I'm so glad I get to spend my days exploring the world with her, and can't wait to see what paths life takes her on.  Happy birthday, sweet girl!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, November 3, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Of Stay-cation & Education, Ghouls & Souls

Better late than never, right? Welcome to

Papa Bear has still been on stay-cation this past week. I've tried not to hit him with much on the honey-do list, so that he could recover from the crazy schedule he worked, well, pretty much from mid-spring to now! (Not that there aren't big things I need done, but the man deserves a break!) It's just plain been nice having him around, and having an extra pair of hands to help with the kids. After two weeks of having him at home, I've been spoiled!

With Papa Bear around, we were able to move Fidget's bi-weekly ABA clinical meeting to the office instead of in home, which was helpful since this was one of the weeks that his clinical supervisor is also in with us. As usual, everyone is impressed by his progress! We discussed a few problem issues we were experiencing, evaluating what skills he has mastered, and setting updated goals. Since we were at the office with Dr. C, I was also able to ask her about something that had been kicking around in the back of my brain for awhile: the potential that Fidget may be 2e (aka twice exceptional, in this case both autistic and intellectually gifted). I was a gifted child, there are others in my side of the family who are, and Sunshine is presumed to be so. I know it is typically said that siblings fall fairly close to each other in IQ, and that autism and giftedness are not unusual combinations, given that both are just diagnoses where the brain is uniquely wired and the person thinks about things differently than most others. Literally everyone who has worked with Fidget has commented how smart he is, and how quickly he picks up new skills, so that made me curious. Dr. C said it is a bit early to speculate, but is something to be on the lookout for, and that probably in about one more year we could take him in for IQ evaluation. Upon telling this story to our new OT/special instructor from early intervention, who teaches the special ed class at our local elementary, she said she was glad to hear we are planning to homeschool him along with Sunshine because especially if he is indeed 2e then she isn't very confident how well the school system would be able to meet his needs. They would want to put him in either special ed or gifted, and likely wouldn't know how to handle a kid needing both!

Speaking of Fidget's educational path, I spoke last week with the director at our parish preschool, which Sunshine attended for three years. The ABA team feels that the best setting for him for the preschool years would be a neurotypical classroom, with a shadow which they can provide. Public schools can be funny about letting in an outside shadow, plus the only class they offer at 3yo would be special ed, so it was suggested we look for a private preschool. The director at our church preschool said they've never had a full time shadow like that, but that they do have speech or occupational therapists from time to time, so she didn't see where it would be a problem. Such a relief! Our hope is to start him next summer part time, mostly to help improve his social skills, and that likely he will be able to learn so much through imitation that by the time he is kindergarten age we can bring him into our home school and just address further social development through extracurriculars such as scouts and sports.

The four of us had a fun evening trick-or-treating in my mom's neighborhood on Halloween. Sunshine dressed up as an EMT, we made a fire truck costume for my wheelchair, Papa Bear wore a fire department shirt (he was gong to wear his bunker pants at least, but he was worried about possibly having to run after Fidget). And as for Fidget, he was supposed to be a fireman, but the little stinker refused to wear even a SINGLE piece of his costume! So he just wore jeans and a t-shirt that does at least have a fire truck, police car, and helicopter on it. Oh well, at least it is big enough that he can wear it again next year, and then we'll know to spend some time acclimating to wearing it before Halloween night!

Fidget is still trying to adjust to a recent increase in ABA therapy hours, so we kept it pretty low key over the weekend. We caught up on some chores Saturday, and that evening met my cousin and his wife for dinner. They were in from out of town, and it was her birthday, so we were glad to get together. (Their daughter is Evan's Godmother, so we're always excited to see her too!)

Sunday of course was All Souls Day in the Catholic Church. I hated that we never made it to mass for All Saints Day, but I woke up with a nasty ear ache, so we missed both mass and the All Souls memorial service for all our parishioners who have passed in the last year. We did at least make it to blessing of the graves, though. It was my first time visiting since Daddy's grave marker was put in place. Bittersweet. The deacon who married us and baptized Fidget came over to bless Daddy's grave. Deacon P is a veteran himself, plus the personal relationship we have with him, so that was extra sweet of him. Such a kind man.

Oh, not to be left out, we had a new addition to our family last week!!!  No, not expecting a baby, but rather a four-legged addition! A stray cat wandered into our yard and was lingering around. We made certain no one knew him, then we took him to the vet who confirmed that he is healthy and doesn't have a microchip with owner information. So now Tuxedo Man (aka Tux for short) is all ours! Our other cat, Boots, still isn't keen on him, but I'm sure she will adjust soon.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Of a million places to be in one week

I totally did not intend to go an entire week without a blog post, but we have been very on the run this past week! Lots of things to share, so we'll hit the highlights here. No time for pics now, will try to update with photos tomorrow.

Last Sunday, our parish children's choir was invited to sing for the noon mass downtown at the Cathedral. Sunshine was so excited! Papa Bear sadly was working, so we arranged for his twin brother & wife to keep Fidget (which allowed him to be there for our niece's birthday party) while my mom went downtown with us for mass. We were nearly thwarted in our attempts, as my mom saw a couple of small pieces fall off of my chair as she was putting it together at the church - pieces that hold the backrest on! I didn't have any tools with me, but thankfully a parishioner from an earlier mass happened to see our distress, found the Cathedral maintenance man who had just what I needed, and he came out to my mom's car to fix my chair just in time for mass. Fr. gave a sweet homily to all the children in attendance, and the choir performed well. Then as part of their "Grand Day" celebrations there was a big block party! Petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, balloon animals, live zydeco music, hamburgers/hot dogs/ice cream/drinks, a man dressed as a shepherd, and even Bubbles the Camel made an appearance. We had so much fun; Aubrey spent a lot of her time going around with one of her choir friends, which made me happy to see her building friendships through her extracurricular activities.

Monday was surprisingly an even more hectic day! We moved Fidget's morning ABA session from home to the clinic, as I myself had a dr. appointment at the neurologist. It was mostly just a routine visit for new prescriptions, but we also did a nerve conduction test on my hands, since I reported at my last visit that here Fidget is 2.5yo now, and I never have gotten full sensation back since the severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome flare-up from pregnancy. Unfortunately the results aren't good; severe CTS in both hands, doc recommending surgery by the end of the year. So I'll go to see my neurosurgeon in 3 weeks. Normally this is done one hand a time so that people still have one good hand left, but just taking away one hand removes my ability to push my chair, transfer, use the bathroom, etc. so I may ask him about doing both at once. It means I'll be completely out of commission, but in this situation at least I'll only go down once instead of twice. The doctor actually finished sooner than expected, so we walked over to Barnes & Noble and browsed for awhile. On the way to pick up Fidget we got lunch at Dairy Queen, then once we had him shot off across town to Sunshine's gymnastics class. I don't normally go with her, so it was a treat to get to watch her practice and thankfully Fidget wasn't as much of a pill as I expected. Her coach reported she can tell she is getting stronger, which is great. We're mostly just in it for the fun and exercise, but I wouldn't be surprised if she gets into competition at some point. My main concern though is just that she develops good technique and conditioning so help prevent injury, which her gym does a great job of ensuring.

Tuesday morning Sunshine and I worked on her room while Fidget had ABA, then that evening we all went with her Daisy troop to a nearby pumpkin patch. The kids had a hayride, story time, got a snack, and each one got a mini pumpkin. Fidget esp. enjoyed himself; so many new sights and textures! He had this one pumpkin that he kept picking up and putting in my lap, so it came home with us as well. Tuesday was also my mom's birthday. None of us wanted her to just sit at home alone all day, this being her first birthday without my dad, but neither of my siblings were available, so Mom joined us for the pumpkin patch then we took her out to dinner. One of the local pizzerias was donating a portion of that evening's proceeds to our church parish, so we took her there. And wouldn't you know, we got sat right next to our priest! Papa Bear and I were a bit nervous how Fidget would do, but we actually managed to all make it through an entire restaurant meal for the first time in MONTHS! This was a huge relief and gave me hope that maybe we'll all actually survive our trip to WDW in the spring.

Wednesday was the one relatively low-key day of the week. Fidget's ABA case worker came to do a couple hrs of parent training with Papa Bear and I while Sunshine *finally* finished cleaning her room. We got some school work done in the afternoon, Sunshine went to CCD, and Fidget had his OT session. I was extremely glad for the quiet day; after three straight days of running around I could really feel myself struggling with fatigue.
Yesterday Papa Bear took Sunshine on a field trip to go hunting! Not much to shoot, but at least they had a nice hike. Papa Bear is on a stay-cation from work so he's been enjoying having some fun time with the kiddos. Fidget had morning ABA yesterday; they recently updated his schedule so he now has a full morning on Thursdays instead of just two hours. During the afternoon Sunshine and I read up on the sun and eclipses, and made two different kinds of pin hole projectors, but unfortunately thick cloudcover moved in about 45 minutes before the solar eclipse began. So we had to settle for watching the live feed from NASA, and Sunshine helped her Daddy fix supper while Fidget had speech. I loooove his speech therapist, and will be so sad when we lose her in the spring (when he ages out of early intervention). She said he is doing so very well; it amazes even her to think back to where we started 8 months ago. He didn't even call me Mama, would only label Papa Bear and Sunshine, not use their names for any purposeful reason, and wasn't attempting to name things around him. He had little receptive understanding as well. He still needs a lot of work on articulation, and there are still some things that he cognitively doesn't understand when we speak to him, but his vocabulary is almost caught up! Absolutely astounds me.
ABA this morning was cancelled, so we had a quiet morning around the house. Papa Bear fixed breakfast, then we all played outside and the kids "helped" him wash both cars. Sunshine has spent the afternoon playing with a neighbor friend, and Papa Bear went out to run some errands for me. This evening we have a Halloween party at Fidget's ABA clinic, which should be lots of fun. Tomorrow I'm going to try to have a regular school day with Sunshine, since we've slacked a bit on the formal school work this week. Fidget has ABA until noon, and Papa Bear is taking the troop camping training class at one of our council's camps. Then we'll all gather around the TV to watch the big LSU/Ole Miss game!
I'm happy to report that although I still have a day or so of medication left to take, I successfully made it through staph-watch without a trip to the ER. There were a couple of evenings I was a bit concerned, but by morning it always looked better. Especially in light of my now upcoming surgery for my hands, it was nice to dodge the bullet of a hospital visit at least once!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Of germs and anniversaries

I've been missing doing a link-up since there's no longer a weekly Answer Me This, and our Wednesdays are proving to be way to busy for Whirlwind Wednesday posts, so I'm going to try to start linking up with

So to anyone who may be visiting my little corner of the digital world for the first time, welcome!

Maybe not the best way to greet new readers, but anyone who doesn't want to hear about my heebie-jeebies, feel free to skip this one!

For those who have never had the displeasure of experiencing it, staph infections are miserable. And once you've had an infection, you're "colonized" with it and it can recur at any time. The first time I got it was back in either 2003 or 2004, just before Christmas. I just went through a really painful one in August, and had another one pop up at the beginning of last weekend. I've been pushing my body rather hard lately trying to keep up with all the demands of my life, and obviously pushed it a little too far. I had come down with a cold on Thursday (which was thankfully short lived) and then Saturday I noticed a spot on my leg looking a bit infected. Since this isn't my first trip around this block, I went into wound care mode right away: washing with hibiclens soap, keeping it topically medicated with bactroban, gently helping it drain once it opened up. By Monday it had grown but was still staying relatively in check; I might have considered going in to the doctor then but Papa Bear is working a big turnaround at one of the local refinery plants, and my mom had gone to Disney World with my sister and her two teenagers while the kids were on fall break. So I kept managing it at home until Wednesday evening, when all the sudden the hot redness and swelling really flared up; then I had a second spot appear on my wrist Thursday morning.  So off I went to the doctor yesterday (both kids in tow) for oral antibiotics. I got gently reprimanded from my doc that I shouldn't have let it go so long, and he said it was "a breath away" from needing IV meds. He put me on two oral antibiotics, instructed me to continue what I'm doing with wound care, and that at any sign of worsening or lack of improvement relatively soon, and I'm to go to the ER. Easier said than done with needing someone to watch both kids, someone to take me in, Fidget's ABA schedule, and Papa Bear working roughly 24 hours on two job sites today, but we always seem to have a team of people around us who rally and pitch in when we need it. I just hope that after an initial dose in the ER they'll set up any further doses through home health and not admit me; I can break away for a few hours but can't imagine being MIA from the house for several days!

It's truly only because of Papa Bear that I was able to get over my cold so fast. I've learned from experience that with my chronic fatigue and autoimmune issues, when I'm coming down with something I have to give my body more rest than an average person would need so my body can focus on healing. So thanks to Papa Bear stepping up, I was able to spend pretty much all of Thursday evening in bed, as well as Friday morning during Fidget's therapy and the afternoon while he napped. And Papa Bear always fixes me my favorite sick dinner: grilled cheese, tomato soup, and a cup of hot tea. Now if I can just remember to take better care of myself! As much as I want to tell myself that I'm living a normal life, I have to realize that being an active paraplegic does take a toll on my body, and I need to build more recovery time into my weekly routine.

Speaking of Papa Bear, yesterday was our 10th wedding anniversary. Statistically we probably shouldn't have achieved this milestone: we were together less than four months when we got engaged, only about 14 total months when we got married, we married before 25, I was disabled less than six months after we got married, we've been through debt struggles, unemployment, and now raising a child with special needs. I'm pretty sure all of those should raise our likelihood of divorce, but before we got married we both discussed the fact that we intended this to be a life long commitment. "Irreconcilable differences" just isn't an option for us. We even went so far as to choose a covenant marriage license when we got married to ensure that if there was damage to our marriage, we would have to do absolutely everything in our power to repair it. Now, I know that I have my share of personal faults, just as there are things that Papa Bear does that bug me. But it's kind of like with kids - you have to pick your battles. Some things might be annoying, esp if they are habitual, but not worth making an issue over. If something is worth making an issue of, we try to address it calmly; he's not my third child, so there's no reason to fuss at him as if I'm fussing at one of the kids. (Though also like with kids, there are definitely times that we lose our temper with one another.) And for myself, if I feel like a bunch of little issues are piling up and I'm really getting aggravated with him, I try to sit down and literally make a list of all of his good points so that I don't let it build up until I snap. When I sit and remember all the reasons I married him in the first place, and all the ways that he has proven himself to be a good husband, then the little things don't seem so bad. I also try to sit and think about my own behavior, and if I have possibly done or said anything to provoke him annoyances. And unless one of us says we need time to cool down and finish a discussion later, we try to never go to bed angry. It means we've sometimes stayed up well into the night to work things out, but our marriage is certainly worth it.

While we were certainly excited and proud to have achieved such a milestone, our celebration yesterday was much less exciting. I spent the morning at the doctor, Fidget had two therapies, Papa Bear worked a little late, and he had to get to bed early because of his early wake up and long hours today. So for now it was just Papa John's pizza and Pitt football on the tv for our "celebration". (Hey, at least Pitt won!) Papa Bear has to take his vacation time soon so he doesn't lose it, and we have some gift cards to go out to eat, so hopefully we can actually enjoy a date night in the relatively near future.

The one exciting thing we did do for our anniversary was to get new wedding bands. Neither of us can actually fit in our wedding rings at the moment, not to mention that mine was getting a bit banged up from constant contact with my wheelchair rims, and Papa Bear isn't allowed to wear his gold one to work. So for our anniversary we got silicone wedding bands from Qalo, which will be both more forgiving of size fluctuations, as well as more suited for our lifestyle at this time. It was only recently that I had to quit wearing my original wedding band, but it's been quite awhile since Papa Bear wore his; it was nice to look over during dinner last night and see a ring on his finger again.

With me not feeling well and so much to juggle, school for Sunshine has been rather minimal this week. We did take an afternoon Tuesday to work on the basics, but mostly we're working in more of the fun things right now. (She's expressed to me some feelings of me never having enough time to do fun things with her anymore.) Last week in my bed we did 3-D illusion pictures of our hands, we've been reading books about cave men and germs, and working on some skill challenges for her DIY membership. Yesterday she drew what she thought a swimming skill badge might look like and made a list of potential requirements to earn it, as one of the challenges for the Maker badge. Another challenge is to make something that is your avatar picture, so we started making some lady bug rocks which we hope to finish today.

As for Fidget, we seem to have gotten past a reappearance of his fecal smearing. I think he was cutting a molar, and also HE IS NOW PACI FREE!! We are seeing an uptick in the pica as a result of no paci, which we knew would happen, but are working with the therapists to address that in an appropriate way. And he's been doing a lot of pretend play recently which is a big change for him: just this morning he and Sunshine were trotting (or at least he tried) back and forth across the living room pretending they were riding horses. Another funny thing he's doing is if he's on his way to find you in another room, he'll say "Coming! Coming! Coming!    What?" as if you had called for him (even if you didn't). So stinkin' cute.

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