Monday, February 23, 2015

Germs, Germs, Everywhere

This post is brought to you from a hospital room on the pediatric floor.

Poor Elby has RSV. And it only took an urgent care visit, ambulance ride, and 2 ER visits to discover it.

He started coughing on Friday. His breathing started sounded really bad on Saturday, so we took him to an urgent care for what I thought would be just a prescription for breathing treatments. Uh, wrong. We didn't even make it 2 minutes into the exam before the nurse called the doctor over, the doctor took one look at his oxygen levels, one listen to his chest, and informed me that they were going to need to call 911 and have him transported to the hospital via ambulance. 

They gave him oxygen and a neb treatment and by the time EMS got there his sats were back up in the 90s. It was so surreal being wheeled into an ambulance for what I thought was just a cold. I can now check that off my bucket list and hope to never be inside one of those again. It was the fastest we've ever gotten into the ER since we got to bypass the waiting room, so at least there's that. 

The ER doctor told me it was just a case of bronchiolitis and that he didn't need to check for RSV because the season was pretty much over. He said I could take him home and just keep a close eye on him but to bring him back in if he got any worse. No pressure or anything! Needless to say, I was an anxious mess all night long. His breathing was still labored the next day and he was retracting even more, so I brought him back to the ER even though I was second-guessing myself and wondering if I was just being paranoid. So glad I went with my gut. His O2 levels had dropped again and breathing treatments weren't helping, so the doctor admitted him and sure enough, he tested positive for RSV. 

And because that isn't enough drama for one weekend, Rick called me while I was at the ER Saturday night to let me know he was running a fever and felt like death. He caught the stomach virus that I had earlier last week. And of course Harrison's fever showed up yesterday. Because that's apparently how we roll. 😷

I joked that our germ-infested house is obviously cursed. But in reality, this is one of those tangible illustrations of God using our struggles and trials for good, and a perfect example of how He puts us right where we need to be, right when we need to be there. I may not have a huge skill set, but I have my fair share of experience taking care of babies with respiratory issues. And I can only speculate, but I would say there's a good chance he might not have been taken to the doctor had he still been where he was 3 weeks ago. I am sad for his mom that she's not here with her baby. I can't imagine either of my kids being in the hospital without me there by their side. There's obviously nothing I can do to change their circumstances, but I can most definitely stand in the gap and fill in for her the best I can while she's not able to be with him. I can love on him, comfort his cries, rock him to sleep, and most importantly, pray over him for restored health.

And speaking of Elby, now for an update! He's been with us for 3 weeks now. He is the sweetest, most easy-going baby I've ever met. He eats like a champ (as if that wasn't obvious, ha!). He is also a great sleeper. He's somewhat serious, but when he flashes that adorable toothless smile it's worth the wait. He rarely fusses. He loves to play and interact and is at or ahead all of the normal 6-month milestones. He's trying to crawl despite the 21 lbs of chub weighing him down. He's over the 99th percentile for weight but only in the 10th percentile for length. He's the sweetest little butterball baby and we all completely adore him! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Final Goodbye

Right before Christmas, we were given the opportunity to see Lily & Violet one last time. We never thought we would see them again after they left in September, because that's generally how it works in foster care. I had met their biological father several times at the visitations but we didn't have any contact with him outside of the supervised visits so there was no way to keep in touch with how the girls were doing (other than some FB stalking, which I really don't recommend).

But when their CASA advocate asked their grandmother (who now has custody of them) if it would be okay if she passed along a small Christmas gift to the girls from us, she instead suggested that we meet up with them in person. I did not at all expect that and was so excited and grateful that we were going to get to see them again.

The visit went well. It was at an indoor playground which was perfect. At first, they were very anxious to see Rick and me. I'm sure it brought up all kinds of emotions and fears about being moved again. But they instantly hugged and locked hands with Harrison & Harper and ran off to play. Eventually they warmed up to me and even climbed up in my lap a few times, but I could tell they were being guarded and felt uncomfortable since their grandmother and siblings were also there. This used to happen at the visitations as well -- I'm sure it's very hard having two different lives and families in the same room together. Bless their sweet little hearts.

This was my first time meeting their grandmother. She was very kind and took me aside to tell me how grateful she was to us for taking good care of them and loving them so well. She said they still talk about us and look at their scrapbook frequently. And then she gave me a small gift to open. It was a frame with a picture of the twins in it. I think it might possibly be one of the most touching gifts that I've received. It was a simple gesture but it meant a lot to me that she took the time and her very limited resources to do something nice for us.

It was wonderful closure for the kids. It gave them the reassurance they needed to see that they really are okay. It was hard for me though. I was expecting that same peace and closure, but instead it stirred up some emotions that I didn't know were still hiding in my heart. It's one thing to know that they are not in your family any longer but it's another thing to see it with your own eyes. I'm still so thankful that I got a chance to see them one more time, but it was bittersweet.

Oh how I miss this mischievous smile

wrestling like wild children

This was my house pretty much 24/7 :)

sweet hugs, even when they were playing

Harrison and Violet

He was showing her the cards he made. I love how he has his arm around her.

Harper and Lily

It seems like the appropriate time to post the last pictures of the girls I have left to share here. They are from way back at the end of summer but I want to document them here since I turn my posts into memory books. They were sitting in a draft post that I couldn't bring myself to finish because it was still too hard to look through the pictures without feeling sad and gloomy.

On their birthday, we went to Space Center Houston. It was our first outing in a couple of weeks since Harper had just had her tonsils and adenoids removed and had had a rough recovery. We started off with a picnic breakfast with kolaches. I remember it being a great day. We had fun celebrating the twins and all the kids were so well behaved. It is quite empowering taking 4 preschoolers out in public all by yourself -- and successfully at that!

We came back home and I made rainbow chip cupcakes. The very. last. batch. ever. If I gave them nothing else while they were here, at least I gave them the beautiful experience of rainbow chip cupcakes.

Rest in peace, RC. Thank you for making my life better for 31 years.

And then we finished off the day with a birthday trip to Build-A-Bear. Lily chose a creepy looking tie-dyed octopus and Violet picked out a Hello Kitty.

And then we had a birthday party for them the next weekend. It was extra special because their big brother and sister were able to come. Of COURSE it was a Frozen theme, because they are obsessed with that movie. Along with every other small child in this country. I can still clearly picture in my mind all of the bajillion concerts that took place in our living room. And in our car. And in our shopping cart. And anywhere else we happened to be at any given time. Sweet memories for sure.


A few weeks after they left, I opened up Harper's folder and their school picture proofs were staring back at me. There were a handful of those in-your-face, catch-you-off-guard moments like that after they were gone. Harper's artwork assignment where she talks about how she has one brother and two sisters, finding a left-behind sock or toy, getting dentist appointment reminders in the mail for them, their speech therapist showing up and ringing the doorbell because I forgot to call and let them know they were no longer here. It was tough. And some days, it still is.

I miss these girls SO much. We all do. We still talk about them daily and pray at every meal that they have full bellies too. Even though it's been months since they left, typing out the title of this post stung. And technically, I probably shouldn't have said "final," because nothing in foster care is certain. We have friends that raised an infant for a year, had the baby unexpectedly removed and placed with a relative, to have the baby unexpectedly returned years later where they were able to finally adopt her. I would selfishly love to get that same call telling me they were coming back here, but for their sake, I do hope it is final. I hope that their family is able to provide for them and care for them in the way that they need and deserve. I pray that they are loved well and and never have to experience the instability and trauma of losing their family again. They are sweet, sweet girls and will always have a huge piece of my heart. Our family is better because they were in it, even if it was only a for a few months.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Adventures of Chip Chesney

Chip had a very warm welcome this year. This kids were so excited to see him and see what fun shenanigans he was going to be up to. Harrison asked me every night if I thought the army men were going to tape him up to the wall again like last year. Apparently that one made a lasting impression.

He showed up on Harrison's birthday, like always.

fishing for goldfish

hello down there

enjoying some miniature pancakes
Tic-tac-toe with Belle

Chip in drag Princess Chip riding a pony! Rick had fun with this one. At any rate, Harper LOVED it.
and of course Harrison loved this one. Darth, using the force. I laugh at what Sydney must be thinking here.

This was my favorite. I had fun with this one.
Legos SO aren't just for kids.
I see you!

I know a lot of people complain about the Elf on the Shelf. About how it's extra work and not related to Christ and so on. And I  know there are also a lot of people go over the top with it. I personally think it's fun toy, but we definitely don't stress about it. There were many nights where he just moved to the mantel or counter. There were even some nights he didn't move at all. We aren't huge about the whole naughty or nice list (although we've definitely used it a few times). But we also don't reward bad behavior with fun activities. There were several days where the kids wondered why Chip didn't move, and we explained that when they have bad behavior he's too tired and doesn't feel like doing anything silly or fun. And on really good days, he was their cheerleader. He left them several post-it notes of positive encouragement. I think he's a fun little dude and there were probably some days where Rick and I had more fun with his shenanigans than the kids did.


The kids went to my mom's house when we had the company Christmas party. I came out of the shower and found that Rick had had a little too much fun. Yes, folks, Chip Chesney wrote a suicide note and then hung himself. The note reads, Dear Children, due to very poor behavior, I can no longer go on. Hope you are happy with yourselves. Love Always, Chip Chesney. You'll either find that hilariously funny or absolutely disgusting. I, for one, found it hilarious. Especially the fact that a grown man voluntarily spent 20 minutes playing with a doll when the kids weren't even home. Ha! He really got into the Elf this year. Which is quite adorable if you ask me.

Now, OF COURSE we didn't leave him like that for the kids to see. It was just a little adult humor. After getting a lots of laughter out of it, Chip miraculously came back to life and settled in on the bar as a paparazzi. I had my mom text me pictures of the kids while they were at her house and I printed them out. They were concerned that Chip wouldn't know where they were when they weren't at home, but clearly he found them and photographed them while they were sleeping to prove it. Thankfully they are too young to find it creepy. Haha!

On Christmas morning he is always at the nativity admiring baby Jesus. We do lots of fun things around the holidays but my kids have no question about why we celebrate Christmas.

Santa always leaves a thank you note for Jesus' birthday cookies and the toys they donated. He also lets the kids know that before Chip has to leave, they get to have 1 day where they can play with him.

Telling Beda all about Chip's adventures

He may or may not have forgotten to fly away Christmas night. Oops! Thankfully it was only Harper who noticed him still hanging out the next day. She's much more gullible than her brother and didn't ask any questions. See you next year, Chip!

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