When the News Isn’t Good

What a rough week. Earlier this summer, we noticed some strange white splotches on Knox’s ankles. This was right after our vacation, so he’d been in the sun a lot and was pretty tan. It looked like someone had dribbled sunscreen on his ankles and left these odd spots. I noticed a few others scattered around: two behind his knee, on two of his fingers, on his neck, his back and his shin. I quickly Googled and figured this must be some sort of common eczema-related thing, seeing that there were lots of posts about it, saying it was noticeable in the summer months when skin was darker.

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I kept it in mind, but tried not to fret over it. The past couple weeks, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I asked anyone I could think of with some sort of medical knowledge, and I finally took Knox to the pediatrician Tuesday. He thought it looked like an inflammatory response to eczema that caused some hypopigmentation. That should have made me feel better, but I had this gut-feeling that it was more than that.

My stepdad is friends with a dermatologist and called for her opinion. She said that I should send her some pictures of Knox’s spots, so I did. Her response? “Looks like early Vitiligo, but I’ll need to see him to be sure.” The thing I’ve feared all along, coming into focus. I was pretty hysterical, even though I had been pretty sure that’s what it was. It was a rough night of crying, fervent praying and more crying.

The next morning, I drove Knox into the dermatologist’s office where she confirmed her suspicions and mine. We were told that there is nothing that can be done, it may spread, it may not, we’ll have to wait and see. If you don’t know, this disorder causes depigmentation of the skin and can spread all over the body, across the face, torso, extremities, etc. It’s not a “health” problem per se, but it can be a major psychological one for anyone, especially a child, dealing with a marked difference in their appearance. As parents, we only want our children to have a good life, and I just cannot stomach the idea of this taking over my beautiful boy and causing him any sort of hardship or difficulty.

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder. I’ve been dealing with my own mystery autoimmune issue for the past year of my life, and let me tell you this with certainty: AUTOIMMUNE STUFF SUCKS. But I also know this- when autoimmune issues are at play, nutrition absolutely can make a difference. I’ve read so many stories of people reversing their autoimmune diseases by going Paleo and reducing the inflammation in their bodies. So for now, we are focusing on getting Knox great vitamins and nutrition- that means eliminating Gluten fully from his diet (this is a bread-addicted child) and moving towards Paleo. His pickiness is extreme, and I’ve met failure head-on many, many times already in the past couple weeks attempting to switch his chicken nuggets to a gluten-free variety (I’ve had suspicions of a another issue for a while now and decided to act on it). He has yet to eat a single bite, and I’ve probably tried five different kinds, including homemade.

I don’t know what this is going to look like. I beg God to spare my children from this stuff. I pray this is an isolated incident that will not spread further, and that my sweet Brody will be spared from any health issues. It’s very scary when things happen to your children that are outside of your control. Knox is already dealing with Autism, and the thought of adding one more hard thing to his life is killing me and breaking my heart.

I am so thankful for Knox’s sweet spirit. He exudes happiness, and he has no idea about any of this. Our next step is to take Knox to a pediatric rheumatologist to make sure there is nothing else lurking (please join us in praying that there is not!!), then we’ll look for another dermatologist that has experience with the laser therapy to treat his existing areas. My main concern is to keep them from spreading and from anything new occurring. The areas he has now aren’t super noticeable, and I just hope it stays that way!

Please be in prayer for Knox and for the health of our family, in general, as we walk through this new diagnosis and try to do what we can for Knox. This boy melts my heart, and I just want his life to be everything that he deserves.2015-07-21 17.40.33-1

Progress Means That Sometimes You Get Peed On

We took the leap on Friday and went full-fledged potty training boot camp mode at our house. I am determined to have both of these boys fully potty trained by the time school starts back. Well. I also feel like an idiot for dragging it out for so long. With Knox, we’ve been dragging him to the potty for YEARS now, but he would never take initiative on his own. Like never. Finally, after reading the advice of many of you guys, we decided to just dump the pull-ups and do “big boy underwear” only for both kids. It has been surprisingly amazing.

On Friday, when I told Knox we were wearing big boy underwear, he objected heartily and requested “little boy underwear.” I told him no way, and even hid all of the pull-ups in his closet. He has a history of removing real underwear and changing himself back into a pull-up. He ransacked his closet after I dressed him, searching, and he was not super thrilled with me when he realized I junked up his plan. So he decided to take off all of his clothes in rebellion. After putting underwear back on four times, we had a come-to-Jesus discussion, and He resolved himself to his fate. The kid didn’t have an accident for four days, you guys. FOUR DAYS. This child has also NEVER gone #2 on the potty. Well, that night, Trevor told him that he could have a Pop-Tart if he’d poop on the potty. Knox is Pop-Tart obsessed. When I was putting him to bed (we are still using Pull-Ups for bedtime because I am not an idiot), he requested his Pop-Tart. I told him he could only have a Pop-Tart if he pooped on the potty. So, he got up and after a good 20 minutes of trying, he did it. SHOCK AND AWE commenced. I seriously could not believe it. By Day #2, Knox was taking himself to the potty on his own. Those stupid pull-ups were the problem all along- he had no desire to go on his own because it was just easier to go in his pants. Duh, mom.

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Brody has used the potty before, both #1 and #2, but not with any sense of regularity. We did the same method with him and let him choose some big boy underwear at the store that week (he chose Lightening McQueen and Mater… of course). He had two accidents immediately that first day, but went the rest of the day with no problem. Same thing on the second day- two accidents up front, then none. Third day, one accident. Fourth day, no accidents. Yesterday and today he woke up in the morning totally dry, as well, and requested to potty right when he woke up.

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I AM THE QUEEN OF POTTY TRAINING!!!

Obviously, arrogance is punishable by poop. I was getting too cocky, apparently, so I got smacked down by life this morning. Knox went to play in his bed and peed all over himself AND the bed. Because obviously that’s where he would decide to have his first accident in five days. Then Brody comes running out of his room five minutes later (it’s about 7:45 and he’s already peed twice) going “Ugh!! Uhhh!!!” and pointing down. He took a massive poop in his Mater pants, which was JUST THE LOVELIEST way to start the day. Changing pee sheets and dumping huge, smelly turds into the toilet. Yay motherhood.

All in all, though, I’d say we’re doing pretty well. However,  I can’t leave you without sharing one more gross potty training story because that’s obviously why you are here. Last night, poor Brody really got the short end of the stick.He had gone off into the bathroom to pee (I didn’t know this) and was sitting on the toilet. Knox comes running up to me grabbing himself and telling me “Go pee pee!” I said, “okay, go then.” So he did. A couple minutes later, I hear some heated conversing coming from the bathroom. I walk in to see Brody, still sitting on the toilet, but scooted all the way back on the seat. Knox was pants-less standing in front of him, smiling ominously. Brody had a look of pure horror on his face, and there were some sprinkles on the seat in front of him. Apparently, Knox decided that the space Brody had left around his legs was PLENTY of room to aim through so that they could both use the potty at the same time. It was not.  “Mommy! Knoxy peed on meeee!” I heard about this for the rest of night, as Brody continually held himself and told me that it burned because Knox peed on him. Note to Knox: we have three toilets. Use one that your brother is not currently sitting on.
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I’m Still Alive & Potty Training Woes

Sorry for the absence, I don’t know, sometimes I just cannot blog to save my life, and that’s how it’s been. Nothing in particular stopping me, just busyness and lack of motivation! Over the past few weeks, we’ve been enjoying summer time. The best part about the kids not being in preschool is obviously not having to wake up as early. Only, oh yeah, my kids still wake up early. At least I don’t have to drag them out the door quite so fast, though! Trevor is probably way ready for summer to end, however, since he now has the boys ALL day on his off days (two out of three days). They are very, very hyper children. They are in motion ALL OF THE TIME and climb everything. Including their father and the furniture (see below for evidence).

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Knox’s school situation is still up in the air. I believe we’re going to do public school but choose a different transitional program than the initial one that was recommended. I just didn’t feel good about it, so we are going to check out some other options in the next week or so, then call a new IEP meeting to nail down details. It still makes me want to have a heart attack to think about him going to kindergarten, but it’s a milestone he has to reach, so that’s that.

We are in the throes of potty training both kids, and KILL ME NOW over that. Knox is five and still not potty trained. He will pee every single time you take him to the potty but has yet to go #2 on the toilet. He also takes no initiative to go on his own, which is just awesome. Brody is three and needs to be potty trained by the fall. He, on the other hand, has already conquered going #2 on the toilet (last week!!), and I think he’ll be significantly easier. We are using jumbo M&Ms as an incentive, but it seems that just using Pull-Ups isn’t going to work-  I think we’re going to have to go full-out big boy underwear until it clicks for him. I just love having my kids pee all over the house and change their clothes 40 times a day. LOVE. IT. The other week, I had Knox in regular underwear and even though he insisted that he didn’t need to pee, he decided to do so all over the couch. I know he did it out of spite because 1) he had just peed five minutes before and 2) he was livid that I took off his Pull-ups and made him wear big underwear. I’d say “Knox, let’s wear big boy underwear!” He’s say “No, little underwear.” That kid is a mess.

I will literally pay someone $1,000 to come to my house and potty train my kids for me. Like, check in my hand, I’ll write it (but don’t tell Trevor).  Why isn’t this a thing? There should be professional potty training people- I bet they’d have a booming business. I, for one, would sign up in approximately one second within finding out about them.

So, hit me with your potty training wisdom- how the heck do you do this without losing your mind??

On Not-So-Alone Time

So after about five days on vacation alone, Trevor and I caved. We missed the boys and really wanted them to experience the beach (it has been over two years since they’ve been), so we called my mom and stepdad. They offered to drive the boys down, and since we were using their condo, they stayed, too. We had two nights with the whole crew, and we are so glad we made that decision. Knox and  Brody were THRILLED by the beach. Knox had been talking about it non-stop after my mom told him they were going, so as soon as they got there, we had to take a trip downstairs. Knox could not stop smiling! Brody kept saying “Wow! Look at that BIG ocean!!!” Here are one billion pictures of our trip. Starting off with when the kids first arrived. Brody was so excited to take his “bucket da beach!”IMG_1948 IMG_1952 IMG_1962 IMG_1967 IMG_1971 IMG_1977 IMG_1980

After they checked out the beach, we went to Broadway at the Beach, which has lots of fun things, including ducks, which my kids tailed the whole time. We grabbed some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (Brody ate his, Knox held his), then, we visited the Ripley’s Aquarium, which was fun and a very wet experience. You can touch stingrays and sharks, and Knox made sure that he participated in everything that involved water. And yes, I nearly died when he tried to put his face in the water with the horseshoe crabs.

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That evening, we went back to the beach for a longer experience, and the boys ended up sandy, wet and very happy! They laughed, ran and had a wonderful time. We hadn’t planned on actually getting into the water and digging in the sand until the next day, but obviously, kids don’t care about plans.

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The next morning, we got ready for a full day on the beach. Knox LOVED the ocean and was having a great time with me in the little waves. Then, Trevor came and did what dads do: too deep, too soon. He took Knox into deeper water where he was promptly hit in the face by a wave and declared “no ocean!” He then retired to the sand. Brody started cautious, then ended up loving the waves. He’d say “look! Here comes another ocean!!” every time a new wave came towards us. It was precious. We stayed knee-deep and he was very content and happy there. After a while, we move to the pool so they could swim.

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This was the entire time. Nothing but boys jumping into the pool. We didn’t put Knox’s puddle jumper on, and he was swimming all over the place like a little fish. No swim lessons ever, just a natural love for the water like his dad.

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That night, we went to dinner then to a gigantic ferris wheel that was about 20 stories high. The kids loved it.

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This picture and Knox’s cheese face. I die.

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The kids saw minions at Build-a-Bear and Gigi, being herself, HAD to get them each one. So we went back to Broadway to build a minion. Knox was furious- he wanted the pre-made minion and did not understand why he was being given a limp and empty minion shell. He freaked out a little bit and Trevor had to take him outside to calm down. He finally chilled out and came back inside to participate in the minion-building process.

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We left the next morning. On our way out, we stopped for brunch. DISASTER. Brody’s bacon was broken. Heavens to Betsy, that is UNACCEPTABLE brunch people. Then, I had the audacity to put syrup on his pancake. THE NERVE!!! Trevor had to actually walk him outside to relax- he was hysterical. Then, I quit the day. After ten minutes on the road, Knox started freaking out, crying. Finally, we figured out that he had to pee. He is not potty trained, yet, so I have no idea why he decided that then and there he needed to use a bathroom when any other day he drives us crazy and pees in in pull-up. But, we pulled over so he could pee on the side of the road because, well, that’s what happened. Then, five seconds later, Knox was done.

IMG_2220That, in a nutshell, is the tale of our vacation. The End.

On Alone Time

The whole point of Trevor’s and my vacation last week was to get in some good “alone time.” We’ve never gone away together for so long, since our kids came on the scene. We’ve done a weekend away, and the kids have spent the night away for several nights, but never a full week. Since we just did the full-out family vacation situation in September when we went to Disney, we thought “this is our time” and decided to do a week at the beach alone. My parents have a condo at Myrtle Beach (i.e.: FREE), so that was the obvious decision of where to go. I had Knox’s IEP meeting on Monday, so after that, I was in emotional parent mode and not too keen on the idea of leaving my kids for a week (the week prior, I was pretty darn ready, let me be totally transparent). But we did leave, dropping them off at Papa G and Gigi’s house on our way to the beach. Did I cry? You betcha. Couldn’t even help it, I was trying so hard to keep a straight face, and yet, those big fat mama tears oozed their way, despite my best efforts.

But once that car headed down the highway, something amazing happened: conversation. You remember that? You know, where you speak and someone speaks back at you? I know, I know, it may have been years since you’ve had one of those, but try hard to remember the sheer glory of that. I swear to you, our children have a radar. It’s called “my parents are trying to talk to one another? oh heck no, let’s fix that situation” radar. They can be all the way across the house, and if Trevor opens his mouth to speak to me, they’ll materialize out of nowhere and be suddenly shrill and shimmying up our legs. So the entire way down to the beach, we talked. We laughed. We reconnected. We were married people for two hours. It was amazing. It was then we knew just how badly we needed this time away, time to just be “Trevor and Jessica” and only be with each other.

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We developed a new vacation-life schedule immediately. It involved waking up naturally (to the sound of the ocean through our open door) and eating our simple breakfast on the balcony while reading the Bible. Then, after an hour or so, we’d get ready for the beach and head downstairs. We’d lay by the beach for a good six hours (taking a quick sandwich break at lunchtime), reading, listening to music and relaxing. Then, we’d head back inside, clean ourselves up and prep dinner. Even though we were on vacation, that wasn’t an excuse to eat badly, so we grocery shopped and cooked 90% of our meals at the condo. This was 1) healthier 2) tasted better and 3) cheaper. That’s a win-win-win in my book.

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Our cable and internet were both out, and normally, this would cause me to FREAK OUT because how on Earth can I stay connected to the universe living like a cave person, so oblivious to everything?!! Then, we realized, this is a huge blessing. We had already resolved not to watch TV, and now, we couldn’t even cheat, so yay. We took lots of walks on the beach in the evenings, just talking. The first night, we had the amazing experience with the woman on the beach that I blogged about last week. Coolest thing EVER. It felt like God reaffirming my faith and purpose, and I love that so many have been encouraged by it. When we’d get back to the condo, every night, we played games- Uno, Phase 10, Pass the Pigs (so glad we brought those along!) and laughed and talked.  It was so much fun.

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We did all of these things, visited local shops, ate out twice and even {GASP!} saw a movie (I swear, first movie I’ve seen in two years… Pitch Perfect 2, of course) and just did whatever we wanted. We had to eat some seafood.

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Of course, after a whole five minutes at the beach, we started talking about our kids. As much as we enjoyed our alone time, we couldn’t quit thinking about those boys we had left at home. It got pretty intense after five days, so we did what any parental schmucks would do: decided to bring them to the beach for our last two days of vacation.

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I’ll talk more about that portion of our trip later, but I will say this: even though we caved and brought our kids at the end, we desperately needed those five full days alone as husband and wife. I truly believe that the best gift you can give to your children is the example of a happy, sane set of parents that love the Lord and each other. We cannot be the best parents we can be without taking time to spend together so that we can stay connected to each other. It was an amazing gift to be able to have that time alone, away. Before we lost our minds and brought our kids (just kidding. Sort of.).

Look. We are so tan. Yay vacation.

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