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you’re TWO!

Q-is-Two

dearest Quincy August,

you, our boy, are TWO today. you may have entered our world by surprise by showing up a few weeks early, but you’ve held my heart in your chubby little fingers since that day.

a few things that i love about your two-year-old self:

  • your uninhibited love for your brother. your best days are the ones that start and end with your brother Lionel, and you find everything that he does to be enjoyable. he has created quite the path for you to follow, and following him is exactly what you intend to do with your days, but with your own Quincy-Bug flair. my prayer is that your relationship, even though i know that it will ebb and flow, will always be tender.
  • your frequent utterances of “No, Bob!” oh, Rhyming Dust Bunnies, if the laughter that you’ve brought to our family paid dividends, this book would never leave the bestseller list.
  • your affection for rocking in the wooden rocker before bed. while your big brother’s love for the rocking chair developed quite early in his life, you were a late bloomer; you only grew to love the rocker when, desperate for you to go-to-sleep-already, we dragged it out of Grandma Patty and Grandpa Joe’s garage and used it to instill a bedtime routine. now, even on the nights that you don’t want to stop play-play-playing to go to bed, you relish your stories (usually Pete the Cat and Thomas the Tank Engine), your snuggles (we relish those, too), and your songs before you slumber. you even let me rock you all the way to sleep today before nap time, which was quite special – thank you.
  • your penchant for hiding when Mama and Daddy want to do any of the following: A) change your diaper, B) dress you for the day, or C) leave the house. even more adorable? your sheer incapability of hiding anywhere but Mama and Daddy’s bedroom.

there are not enough keys on this keyboard, tears in my eyes, or giggles in my belly to describe how much i adore you. i remark often that despite your stubbornness, that you are one of my favorite people on this planet, and it’s true – i couldn’t feel more proud to be your Mama.

xoxo, my loving boy.

you have my heart forever,

Mama

well hello there.

this is my first post in three-and-a-half months, and i’m not even sure what to say. so, hello there!

i suppose that i should catch you up on life in these parts. in short, we’ve been soaking up all that life has to offer, and i’ve been trying to focus on living life instead of documenting it – hence the radio silence over here.

but, i miss writing about our lives, and i miss sharing our little part of the world with all of you, so here i am.

all about L

first, our sweet L turned 4 in June, and he had a memorable baseball-themed bash at our local park. all of his dearest friends and family came to celebrate the big ‘4’, and we sweat and soaked up the opportunity to be amongst kiddo laughter on the gorgeous (albeit windy) day outside. we ate some concessions-themed food in cute little red-and-white-checked cardboard baskets (baseball theme!), we opened gifts (our boy’s toy collection continues to burst at the seams, which made Goodwill donations even easier this year – yay for sharing forgotten toys as we acquire new favorites!), and we even played a game of t-ball, which was a fascinating and wildly entertaining way to close out the festivities.

L-Hockey-Fall-2016

speaking of t-ball, our boy had his first season of organized sports this summer, and he LOVED it. he loved his purple Hawks jersey (go Hawks!), he loved hitting and fielding (playing pitcher was his most favorite; even though pitchers don’t throw the ball in this t-ball league, pitchers often see the most action on defense), and he especially loved his coach…Daddy.

we’re now in the midst of L’s first soccer season, and he adores that as well. he already has four goals to his name, as well as countless steals, assists and, of course, foibles and fumbles. but he couldn’t be having more fun, which is all that matters to the Mama of the house.

lastly, in semi-big news, we added a dog to our family…for about 18 hours. unfortunately, we’ve discovered that L (for sure) and (most likely) Q are allergic to dogs…and we aren’t talking stuffy noses; instead, our boys coughed and coughed, woke up with itchy and red eyes, and had buckets of snot making it difficult for them to breathe. so, despite our love for the adorable, perfect, sweet sweet SWEET Golden Retriever that we brought home (we called her Millie!), we returned this sweet dog to the family who had been caring for her in hopes that she would find a new home. we know that she will be a wonderful pet to her new forever family.

we do have hopes that perhaps the boys will outgrow their allergies, as many individuals that we know have experienced. we are also very, very cautiously investigating the opportunity to bring a hypoallergenic dog into our family. we are visiting friends in a few weeks that have a Schnoodle (Schnauzer and Poodle mix), and we’ve heard that Golden Doodles shed much less than Golden Retrievers, but we aren’t ready to make the financial – or, frankly, the emotional heart – investment yet.

all about Q

our sweet Q has been replaced by a stubborn, insistent, “i do it myself” child who is, to put it nicely, challenging to parent these days. however, he still has that killer smile, so he’ s largely walking all over us as we grapple with this new reality. of course, we should have expected this turnaround, as our beloved L also sported quite the stubborn streak around 18 months of age, but my Mama memory (and, ahem, my heart) sure wasn’t primed for this transition.

i have all the feelings for the baby stage of my boys’ lives, but when they hit the toddler phase, and the “i love you’s” give way to the “noooooo’s,” i begin to lose my mind a bit. in short, attention Jord: #weneedmorebabiesinourhouse.

Q-Baseball-Summer-2016

despite the arrival of his attitude, Q is one of my favorite humans. he is saying more and more words (and complete sentences, as of the beginning of September!) as the days pass, including a few of my recent favorites:

* “i block,” which is only uttered when Q, engaged in a football or wrestling match vs. Daddy and L, makes a killer block like he’s in the NFL

* “i OK,” which he says every time he coughs, trips, sneezes, falls…the list goes on…

* “Lionel?” which is said…all the time. he LOVES his brother and always is actively seeking him out, whether it’s to play cars, to watch iPad (which Q is also obsessed with – thanks, Blippi), or to wrestle

lastly, Q’s love of water knows no bounds. we visited a local water-park as summer drew to a close, and while L wavered between courage and caution when it came to slides, waves and fountains, Q couldn’t get enough. “wa wa” is a frequently-uttered phrase in our household; i can’t wait to get Q into swimming lessons.

what’s new with Jord and me

Jord and i snuck away for a long weekend in July to celebrate the bachelor/bachelorette parties of our friends. we left the kiddos with the grandparents and drove to Wisconsin, which is becoming our new favorite state – it’s just so pretty, guys. i wanted to buy every little adorable old house on every street corner in the small town of Hartford, where the parties took place, as well as in the neighboring town of Ceaderburg, where the bachelorette and her girls partook in some delicious wine (i only bought two bottles, but i’m totally regretting not buying a whole case while i was in town). we also had our very first batch of Wisconsin cheese curds, which will definitely not be our last – YUM.

Jord-Sara-Fall-2016

in other news, we’re doing well with our budget plan, thanks to Financial Peace University. we’ve had to put a bit of a pause on our additional payments to our debt as of late, due to some uncertainty with my contract negotiations at my day job (i teach English at a local technical college), but these stalls in extra payments are allowing us to more readily afford a new roof on our home – it’s funny how God provides!

both Jord and i are experiencing times of busyness at work, so we relish the opportunity to soak up time with our boys and with each other. one new thing that we’ve been doing lately: we’ve been playing board games together (L’s newest favorite is this, which he purchased with his own money that he earned doing chores around the house and from his birthday; Jord and i are OBSESSED with this game). we also recently added this game to our collection, and we’re anxiously awaiting a break in our schedules to play it.

big (and little) home updates

speaking of a new roof…we learned this summer that our roof experienced significant hail damage during a storm in the fall of 2015 (yes, almost an entire year ago). we had an insurance adjuster come out to survey the damage and estimate replacement costs. during this process, we learned that our homeowner’s policy had an ACV (actual cash value) stipulation, which, in simple terms, means that when something is damaged, our policy only covers the actual cash value cost, not the full replacement cost. SO, long story short, if we want to claim our roof damage and replace the shingles, we would have to pay out a bit of money in order to replace our roof. luckily, we’ve worked with an excellent contractor who’s been tirelessly appealing to our insurance company for more comprehensive coverage of our damage, and our out-of-pocket is significantly less than we initially anticipated. so, in the next few weeks, we’ll have a new roof installed!

Front-of-House-Updated

i’m also way behind in updating you on a few little tweaks that we’ve made to our home in the past few months. i’ve completed a phase I makeover of our upstairs bathroom (i’ve had a post on this drafted for MONTHS). these inexpensive updates have made such a difference in the space, and i hope to share it here soon – i just have to find time to clean the bathroom (HA) and then snap some photos.

we’ve also moved L into his own big boy bedroom downstairs (as mentioned here), and we’ve reorganized Q’s room to better suit him. i have also painted a dresser from my childhood to use as storage in Q’s room, hung a few more items around the house, and officially traded (with my brother and his girlfriend!) our black 4×2 Expedit in exchange for a distressed dresser.

what’s coming up

we’re headed out on a few mini vacations this fall and winter, mostly to bigger cities in neighboring states to take in a baseball game, go shopping and/or see friends. but this December, we will also embark on a Black Hills (South Dakota) family vacation with my parents, my brother and his girlfriend, and their new Yellow Lab puppy, Copper.

we’re excited to cozy up in a cabin with snowy mountain views, to play board game after board game, and to (hopefully) teach sweet L how to ski, all while soaking up time as a family unit. it’ll be my family’s first real getaway in a very, very long time, and we know that introducing our boys to the magic of the mountains in the wintertime will be an experience that they won’t soon forget. in short, we couldn’t be more excited. hopefully, we’ll recreate moments like this, except with four people (and no babies – sob!) in the photo:

Hills-2012

that’s all the news that i have from our world – what’s new with you?

the arrival of the ‘tude.

Q-Dyeing-Eggs-Easter-2016

our dear Quincy-Bug is many things – deliciously chubby, thrives in routine, adorer of books and cars, and owner of a mega-watt smile – but he’s also posing quite the attitude in recent weeks.

wonder where he learned that? ahem.

exhibit A: Q meets the toilet.

since big brother L’s potty-training adventures began around Halloween 2015, sweet Q has also grown quite fascinated with all things potty-related. so, it was no surprise to me that Q often joins me in the bathroom each morning as i ready myself for work.

but last week, things took a turn.

Q-Flushing-Toilet-April-2016

the boy discovered that not only could he reach the flush handle on the toilet, but that he also knew how it worked.

in other words, we’re taking donations for our water bill, which is sure to skyrocket.

exhibit B: the “all done” flop.

Q has become quite the book lover this spring. among his favorites: Eight Silly Monkeys, Go Mater and Chicka Chicka ABC.

Q-Books-March-2016

however, our Q-Bug is not an equal opportunity lover of books…no…he’s much more of a one-book man. while i’m telling myself that this is a positive sign for his future forays in the world of romance, it’s quite amusing to watch how this devotion plays out currently.

the scene: Daddy and Q are seated on the floor of our living room, reading Chicka Chicka ABC together. Mama is watching from the kitchen.

as Daddy finishes the story and closes the book, Q begins stroking his belly, using his interpretation of the sign for “please” to communicate his desire to read the story again.

Daddy obliges…and then obliges another time, leaving this reading session’s book count at one book, read three times in a row.

after the third round, Q’s hand again goes to his belly, yet this time, each upward and downward stroke of his hand on his chubby middle becomes more and more fervent, more determined. it’s almost like he’s anticipating the “no” that’s imminent.

after a short pause, i hear it: “all done,” Daddy says, as he flips his hands from palm-away to palm-out, using the sign for “all done,” which our boy understands.

and then, it happens. the “all done” flop.

Q throws himself out of Daddy’s lap, wrenches his chub-filled body so that his belly is akin to the floor, and buries his face in the carpet, wails emitting from his saddened face like a lamb bleating for its mama. it’s quite dramatic, and given that he is my child, quite typical.

* * *

i could go on and on with countless examples, but rest assured: things have certainly been an adventure with this boy, right from the start. and even though i joke about trading him in for a new model (one who is, ahem, female – this mama wants a girl someday), i love this little bugger as high as the moon is hung in the sky.

weaning Q: photos to treasure.

as i mentioned in my post last week about our decision to move L into his own big-boy bedroom downstairs, part of the decision was impacted by my nursing relationship with Q. as i did with his big brother before him, i nursed Q for a total of 15 months, and despite some hiccups with my supply when i returned to work, our breastfeeding relationship was wonderful and fulfilling.

when reflecting back on the two growing boys that i nursed, is that in the early weeks of motherhood and breastfeeding L, i felt so, for lack of a better word, confined and tied down to my “job” as his sole food provider. now, i know that the biggest culprit behind those feelings was the fact that i was a brand-new mama who was doing all of this for the first time, but what’s interesting to me is that i never, ever felt this way when nursing Q. perhaps it has something to do with the fact that i was still reeling from his unexpected early birth and subsequent time in the NICU, or maybe it was simply the blessing of my status as Mom 2.0 to two children, but it was so, so different. while i certainly treasured my nursing relationship with L, as i reflected here, it was more of a battle to appreciate, at least at first, the ability to meet his needs in such a meaningful and intense way. but with Q, i was likely more prepared for that responsibility, and instead of battling against it or feeling emotionally drained by it, i soaked it up – i relished it.

when it came time to wean Q, as i mentioned in my post last week, we did it in stages; we day-weaned Q in December 2015, and a few weeks later, we then weaned him to only nurse one time per day, right before bed. in mid-February, i would be traveling away for a few nights for a work conference, so i felt strongly that a few nights before i left marked a good time to “make the break,” so to speak.

on Monday, February 15, i contacted my sister-in-law, Larissa, and i asked her if she’d be interested in snapping a few photos later that evening of me nursing Q for the very last time. she was kind enough to take photos of me nursing baby L, and i am so appreciative of those photos.

here’s me and L in the midst of our nursing relationship:

Sara-L-Nursing

thankfully, Larissa agreed to stop by, and what follows in this post are photos that i so treasure, for they capture this special time in my life, and in Q’s life, when we were bonded so inextricably close together. many, many thanks to Larissa for taking these special photos!

here’s me and my sweet Q:

Sara-Q-Nursing-1

Sara-Q-Nursing-5

Sara-Q-Nursing-2

Sara-Q-Nursing-3

Sara-Q-Nursing-4

our boys’ journey with short stature.

Troubled-Waters-Cleansing

Our waters over here aren’t the most troubled in history. We are certainly blessed beyond measure in numerous ways. But lately, I’m feeling stuck in these can’t take a breath, life-jacket-breaking waters, and I need to come up for air in this space.

Our sons, while immeasurably bright, gracious, kind, and as silly as they come, are short. Our boys have never, not once, met even the bottom percentile of the growth chart when it comes to height, and since we were pregnant with Lionel, and then with Quincy, we’ve been prepared by doctors, genetic counselors and physicians for many outcomes, the majority of them terrifying.

Thanks be to God alone, our boys do not have concerns that align with the scariest of conditions, but they are remarkably behind where the doctors feel that they should be. For instance, in Lionel’s case, the age of his bones is one year behind what’s normal for his age. And in Quincy’s case, he’s shorter as a one-year-old than even his big brother was at age 1.

It’s not simply that my boys are short. In these modern times, we are blessed – and challenged – by the question of what can, what should be done to augment their growth, and what, if anything, would be effective in doing so. It’s this question that has me grasping for oars to wade us out of these, our troubled waters.

Our boys have undergone extensive testing to rule out genetic abnormalities or deficiencies. We’ve had extensive discussions with our sons’ specialists about medical intervention to augment their growth. And these tests and these discussions continue, with little to no answers regarding where this height challenge came from, other than the determination that it’s a familial condition that’s been passed from Daddy to our boys. Yet, the time is quickly approaching to make determinations about whether or not to intervene medically, and, if we elect to do so, whether or not treatment would actually work to help our boys to grow.

In other words, given the lack of information regarding our boys’ short stature, the decision whether or not to pursue growth hormone therapy is a nuanced one, and one that is immeasurably difficult. Our doctors are unsure as to whether this treatment will help our boys to grow. To provide context: Jordan took growth hormone when he was a child, and following his treatment, he grew to 5’4″, but there’s no certainty that it was the growth hormone treatment and not a delayed growth pattern, for example, that played a role.

It’s always been in our medical plan to make a decision about growth hormone therapy for Lionel around ages 5 or 6, but his sluggish growth pattern has pushed up the timeline for treatment to ages 4 to 5. And last week, we were told that our Quincy may be in need of intervention sooner than his brother, around ages 2 1/2 to 3.

If you do the math, that means that both of our boys, our treasured, healthy boys who just happen to be short, may be receiving growth hormone treatment at the exact same time. And we, their parents, are left to grapple with not only the question of whether this treatment will be effective at all, but also the logistics of daily growth hormone injections for TWO wiggly toddlers, the financial burden of growth hormone therapy for not one but TWO boys, the pleas of “Why do I have to have shots?”, the recognition that our boys are different from their friends, their cousins, their peers.

Jordan keeps telling me, the Mama who has no experience with what it means to be below average height, that it’s important for our boys to be taller than the doctor’s projections, which, to be honest, will leave our boys near five-feet tall, if they are lucky.

But I won’t speak for him; my own fears speak loud enough.

I fear that if our boys are short, and not just short, but quite short, they may have to bear the taunts and the teases of bullies.

They may not be picked for the team at recess.

They may be made to feel inadequate, either consciously or subconsciously, by their peers, even well-intentioned ones.

They may not be asked to dance at prom, or they may be needlessly fearful to do the asking themselves.

They may arrive home from school in tears, wondering why the children tease them so mercilessly, why they are different from everyone else, why they are so short.

And it’s the hurt faces of my two boys that prevent rest from taking hold of my body, that pound my heart violently, that give way to tears more often than not.

No mother wants her child, her children, to bear the brunt of what cannot be helped.

But this. Can this be helped? Should we pursue help, even if it’s not guaranteed to work?

Though it’s felt at times during these past four years as though the rain is pouring down on us in immeasurable buckets, I haven’t said a word about this publicly, because I’ve long insisted that it’s not my story to tell: it’s our boys’ story.

But, I’m coming to realize that this, for now, at least, is my story, too – it’s the story of me, the Mama of these two bubbly, wonderfully exquisite boys, coming to grips with what God has handed us in this life.

I’m learning that I’m allowed, if I want, to throw a fit and say that life isn’t fair and ask for God to just help my boys to grow. And on better days, I take comfort in the the hope that God is using these troubled waters to cleanse me, to cleanse my boys, even when – especially when – I doubt the purpose of these trials.

Thank you, friends, for reading this muddled snapshot of my Mama heart. More to come soon. xo