Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

A Scare

Zachary’s asthma had been inching back into view the last couple of weeks. It started slowly, and he required nightly breathing treatments at bedtime. Then, he started needing a treatment at bedtime and one or two during the night. Then, cold symptoms appeared, and Zachary got more miserable. By the time we got to our out-of-town destination to celebrate Christmas with family, his asthma was getting out of control.

We ended up going to ER the next night after returning back home since the rescue medicines that we have at home were not making much of a dent in his coughing and wheezing. That trip to ER ended up being a 10-hour experience that lasted from 8PM to 6AM. It was brutal, being there all night long and getting no sleep at all.

Zach was diagnosed with walking pneumonia, bronchitis, and bronchospasms along with his asthma. At the end of the 10 hours, his stats had improved enough to head back home.

We came home, crawled into bed at 6:30AM and slept for 6 hours. We continued treatments and meds throughout that day, New Year’s Eve.

At 6:30PM Zachary asked if he could stay up til midnight to see the new year in. I responded with an “absolutely not!” Then, less than 30 minutes later, Zippy had showered and crawled back in the bed before 7:00PM.

That night proved to be a bad asthma night, too. We continued treatments each time Zippy woke up coughing and wheezing. How it happens with him is he breathes in pretty decently, but the air gets stuck in his lungs, and he can’t exhale. He coughs violently to push the air out of his lungs. The medicines work to open up the passageways, stop the spasms, and allow the air to enter and exit more easily.

Finally at 1AM, Zippy woke up in a coughing fit. He vomitted several times and was in a violent coughing fit having lots of trouble with every single breath. In between heaves, I heard him say to himself very matter of factly, “I’m dying.”

He is well aware how serious asthma is and knows that he could have died from asthma several times in his life.He also has heard stories of when he had pneumonia when he was 5 and knows that pneumonia can be deadly, too.

He came back to the bed and we began more treatments which were terribly slow to help his breathing. He was in pain and was really struggling to breathe. I looked up from working on the nebulizer and meds to see his very large, very panicked eyes, and they were brimming with tears.

“Am I gonna die?” he asked with thick, very real fear.

“No, Baby. You’re not gonna die. We’ve got this,” I tried to assure him.

But he wouldn’t be convinced and the tears started falling and the wails started sounding. He was sure this was the end and that he was dying.

I had to give him a stern talking to about not crying. Crying at a time like this would do nothing but exasperate the problems, causing more mucus and more issues. I reminded him that now was not the time to cry and tried to assure him that he was not going to die.

“We’ve got this,” I said over and over. “But you have to keep breathing. Don’t talk; don’t cry. Your job is to breathe. We’ve got this.”

In a whispered voice between gasps of air, he asked me to get Dad and Elliot. He wanted them in the room and wanted hugs from them. He told me later that he remembers one night when paramedics were in our house working on him during an asthma attack, and Elliot was watching, with terrified eyes, from the hallway. For some reason, that’s why Zippy needed him in there now.

I didn’t get Elliot, but I did go get Paul to be with Zachary, who was still in repiratory distress.

Just so you know, I realize I really should have called 911 at that point, but I decided to give it another minute. Thankfully, things started to turn around really shortly.

I laid there beside him with my hand on his chest, feeling and listening carefully to each breath. I kept checking in with Zachary, asking if he could feel the medicine helping or not so I’d know whether to call the ambulance or not. He said each time that it was getting better. Finally, one time when I asked, he noticed his voice was stronger and it didn’t hurt to answer me, and he got a little spark in his eye.

“I did it! It’s gone for now!” he said with a big smile and an amazing amount of relief.

And, yes, it was over for now. This terrible attack was done, and we could rest for a bit.

We laid there together and tried to relax back to sleep while I kept my hand on my boy’s chest. When I noticed his eyes still open, I knew he was struggling with a fear that 11-year-olds shouldn’t have to struggle with.

“You can go to sleep, Baby. I’m not going to let you die,” I said, realizing the trust he had to have in me at times like this.

“Will you wake me up if it gets bad again?” he needed to know.

“Your body will wake you up. You can go to sleep. It’s okay,” I told my scared little boy.

And he closed his eyes and was asleep in 60 seconds, feeling secure enough to give in to sleep.

I laid there with my hand on his chest, listening to his breathing for a long time. I wished that I never had to say such a phrase to my child: “You can go to sleep, Baby. I’m not going to let you die.” The things I never thought I’d have to say…

But then I thought of people I know who have been in the position that they couldn’t make that promise to their child because their health was so bad and was so out of their control that they couldn’t promise their child that they wouldn’t die while they were asleep.

And I was thankful. Thankful for my son … and for my other two children. Thankful for how blessed and healthy we all really are. Thankful that I could promise Zachary with confidence that I would take care of him. Thankful. So thankful.

Rescued … again

I’m thinking I’ve got you beat. I’ll bet my kids have been rescued by the lifeguard more times than yours have!

Zippy, especially when he was younger, would go under water at the city pool and stay there. He would just sorta sit there under water for a long time. The kid has pretty durn bad asthma, but, man, he could hold his breath under water. He would stay there. Just suspended half-way between the top and bottom. And just stay there. A long time. Long time.

When the young lifeguard(s) couldn’t stand it anymore, he/she would jump in and save him. Except the saving would nearly drown him! He would be peacefully relaxing, his little sensory-overloaded body in a very calm and relaxed state, when suddenly he was grabbed violently up out of the water! It would terrify him.

And it would always confuse the lifeguard(s) who really thought he/she was making a daringly brave rescue attempt.

This scenario played out more than a handful of times. Too bad we didn’t go to any one city pool often enough to let the lifeguards get to know Zippy and his floating-yet-not-drowning ways.

However, I don’t think Zippy was rescued even one time this summer. A first! This summer, more than any other, we really only swam at Mimi and Papa’s house and didn’t really frequent any city pool or water park. Would we make it a whole summer with no rescue?

I’m thinking so.

But Chloe nearly ruined it yesterday. She came really, really close to being rescued, and I can promise you it would’ve really surprised her.

Chloe has been loving floating on her back in her flotation suit this summer. She went to a friend’s birthday swim party at a nearby city recreation center. The center had a nice indoor pool which included a little lazy river. (But watching the rate at which the kids made it around that river, I’m thinking it’s not so lazy a river!) Chloe was floating by herself around and around and around the not-so-lazy river while I watched nearby.

I noticed one time around, she flipped up on her back and was loving the experience. How did I know she was loving it? Well, I could hear her growl over the noise of the river. Chloe has a happy growl that she uses when she is really enjoying something, and I am sure she was really loving the back-floating river experience by the intensity of her growl.

Enter in the young man on lifeguard duty. He sees, first of all, an awkwardly floating young girl making strange noises, not smiling. He goes into instant alert and concern. He takes half a step and alarmingly surveys the child’s situation. Indeed, the child must be in trouble because she’s still floating, moving in an awkward way, and making a strange, alarming sound. His neck lengthens as his alarm heightens. He takes another step toward the child.

I’m watching from the other end so I can’t communicate to the lifeguard at all. I am sure I am about to witness another of my children getting rescued from the pool.

As Chloe comes floating around the bend of the river and I see her a little more clearly, I laugh out loud at what I see as the lifeguard grabs his little red life preserver and jams his whistle in his mouth: my paler than pale little girl, floating oddly atop the water, motionless … and seriously appearing lifeless in her pale skin! I laugh, thinking of what that poor lifeguard is thinking and start swimming toward her.

I know I shouldn’t have laughed, but I couldn’t believe a Mastin was about to be rescued again!

Quickly I was on the move toward her — not to save her life but to save her mood. Being violently rescued by a stranger when your are happily in your own little peaceful space is not nice. I know this because Zippy has told me so!

As Chloe floated pale and motionless by me, I grabbed her by the arm and laughingly told her she could not float on her back at this pool — she was scaring people. She looked at me and with her eyes asked me to repeat that — it really didn’t make any sense.

I repeated, “You can not float on your back here, okay? You’re scaring people.”

She nodded okay and went on back around the river, careful not to flip up on her back again.

Later I talked to the young lifeguard and told him I had instructed her not to float on her back anymore since it was freaking him out. He genuinely thanked me, agreeing that he was very freaked out.

So there you go. I think I win! While none of my kids have been rescued by a lifeguard when their lives were in danger, my kids have been rescued — and nearly rescued — the most!

I Remember …

Last week, we had 2 Chinese exchange students stay with us for 5 nights. (That’s a story for later — we really enjoyed it!) While they were here, they slept in Zippy’s room, and Zippy slept with me. Paul slept with us the first 2 nights, but he must have tired of it because he landed himself on the couch the other 3.

One night when Zippy was having a hard time going to sleep, I went in and laid with him. After a few minutes he reached up and touched my hair. He proceeded to run his fingers through my hair for a while.

It came flooding back to me. He used to play with my hair every day. Each morning (he woke up in the wee hours of morning every single day) he would come to bed with us and would play with my hair until he was back asleep. Several times during the day when we would snuggle or hug, his fingers automatically went to my hair. He played with my hair all of the time.

But what had happened? Why had he stopped? Had he grown out of the need for that calming, sensory, love experience? No. I now remembered that I (who am a little sensory-challenged, myself) went through a time when I couldn’t stand for him to touch my hair all of the time. (Please don’t judge me! It sounds terrible, doesn’t it?!) But I entered a season in which for some reason I couldn’t stand to be touched all of the time, and I remembered myself saying things like “not right now, Zippy,” and “don’t touch my face, Zippy,” and “oh, please don’t do that right now.” And lying here with Zippy, his hands in my hair, I knew that I had forced him to stop this amazingly sweet, loving touch with me.

And I loved the feeling of his hand in my hair.

He complained that my hair is a little too short (perhaps reason enough to grow it out again!), but we both enjoyed his playing with my hair.

“I remember that you always used to play with my hair,” I finally said to my now sleepy boy.

“Me, too,” he said.

I smiled that he remembered it. Maybe we could start this little habit up again after all.

“I miss it,” a sleepy Zippy said.

“Me, too,” I said back with a heart full of deep, deep affection for my boy.

Now a week has passed, and he hasn’t played with my hair every day. But he has done it several times. I will enjoy it when he does it, and I will really, really try to endure it even when it drives my sensory-self crazy. And we’ll just see how it goes. 😉

The Button

I’m nearly constantly amazed at my girl.

Chloe is 10 and is mostly nonverbal.

Please understand nonverbal to mean that she doesn’t communicate with the same spoken word that most of us do. Please do NOT understand nonverbal to mean non-communicative which would be a huge misunderstanding of Chloe.

My girl communicates! She signs, she gestures, she acts things out, she attempts to vocalize and pronounce words. She also cries, screams, kicks, throws things, and jumps in frustration — all of which are part of her communication.

As most of you know already, I’m a big believer that all behavior is communication. It’s one of my mantras, really. Generally, Chloe has no problem getting her point across and her needs communicated. We may need to stop and survey the situation to access exactly what she’s saying, but I promise she is not just throwing that toy to play catch — she’s trying to tell us something that we’re missing! (And we all need to learn to be better listeners!)

But no worries to you today — I am NOT hopping up on my behavior is communication soapbox today! No. Instead I’m telling a cute story — one of many– of a time recently when Chloe impressed me with her communication skills, flexibility, and creativity.

The other day as were getting out of the car, Chloe saw the name on a name tag that was stuck on her purse: Parker.

Chloe read the name aloud: “Parker.”

And then she signed: “School,” indicating that she knows a Parker at school.

I acknowledged her statement, not completely sure I knew which kid Parker was. I thought I knew, but I wasn’t for sure. “Whose class is Parker in?” I asked to clarify which kid Parker was.

Chloe said pretty clearly (although let me point out that I had a definite context and there aren’t that many teacher names that she would’ve said at this point): “Power.”

I acknowledged and clarified that Parker is a student in Ms. Power’s class, and Chloe nodded her head in agreement.

Next as she stood in front of me just before stepping out of the car, she drew a circle in the air and then drew a line right down the middle of it.

Hmmmmm. Not sure what that was. “A circle?” I asked. “Did you draw a circle?”

She nodded, but I wasn’t convinced that was what she had done or what she had meant to communicate. Hmmmmm. Maybe it was a P?

“Did you draw a letter P? P for Power?” I asked Chloe.

She nodded yes as she oftentimes does, but I could tell that she was just saying that. She had meant to communicate something else, and I had just missed it, and she doesn’t usually give me 2 chances.

Chloe went on in the house, made a beeline right to her room, and grabbed the first battery-operated toy she could find. As she pointed to the toy’s power button, she vocalized something … something … power?

“That’s the power button, huh?” I said, grasping at straws.

She again pointed to the power button and said, “power” again.

And then I noticed the symbol: a circle with a line through it — the exact circle and line that Chloe had drawn in the air!

“Oh! Power! You drew the power-button symbol in the air! Of course, Ms. Power!! Yes, Parker is in Ms. Power’s class! Yes! Good! Good!”

I smiled, again amazed at the lengths she goes to to make sure she is communicating with those who will listen. She must be so relieved when we get it!

She is remarkable. And how many times do I just miss it??

I’m guessing she wishes everyone she tried to talk to had a power button and all she had to do was push it …. We would “turn on,” and then we would all get exactly what she was trying to tell us! Yeah, that’d be nice!


Our Side of the Street

Seems our house is the neighborhood hang-out, which I really like for the most part. Ours is the driveway where everyone congregates to play basketball. Ours is the yard where the mega sword fights take place. Ours is the front door where all the kids line up for their pick at Zippy’s arsenal of Nerf swords.

And since the weather has been so nice lately, the boys have been playing outside more and more. And something that’s made a big difference in their outside play: a bunch of the once-tiny boys on our street are now big enough that their parents are letting them come down the street to play with my boys. And at least a couple of them are surprisingly … ummmmm … noticeably … ummmm … strikingly … crazy and loud and a tad-bit frightening with a sword. You get the picture.

One day this week, Zippy was outside playing with a multitude of small boys, involved in a rigorous and serious Nerf sword battle. There was much screaming and wailing so I went outside to check it out. I am not yet used to the screams and wails of these newly-grown neighbor boys so I couldn’t tell if their screams were from pain, fear, anger, fury, or fun. Seems they were mostly screams of fun with just a tad bit of fury which is the tad-bit frightening part I mentioned earlier. I decided I had better stick around and keep an eye on these new, wild boys.

As I watched, the boys ran, screaming and wielding their swords, from one side of the street to the other. And back again. And back again. It was really a scene to take in.

Now, I should tell you that our street is not a busy one. Not many cars travel down our street. But some do. And oftentimes those cars travel faster than I wished they would.

Well, what I noticed was that the boys (including my 10 year old) would run across the street without ever glancing up to check for cars. On the rare occasion they did look up to check for cars, they did so in the middle of the street. We all know that if you wait until you are in the middle of the street to look for cars, chances are you will get squished by one before you decide to look up. This was not okay.

I called Zippy over to where I was standing. I told him no more crossing the street in the middle of a sword fight. “Either you choose that side of the street and stay there, or you choose our side of the street and you stay there.” I checked for understanding. It was clear that he heard and understood my meaning as he repeated it back to me.

And he ran off to play again, obviously choosing our side of the street as he hollered to all the boys to come over to our side and to stay there. And pretty quickly the crazy battle migrated over to our side of the street.

It wasn’t but a couple of minutes later that I spotted Zippy in the street. Flabbergasted, I called him over to me again.

“You are done. Go inside. You’re done playing,” I said, shaking my head.

“What did I do??” Zippy begged to know.

I looked at him with disbelief. “You were in the middle of the street!” I nearly yelled.

And then as serious and as genuine as he could be, he revealed to me exactly how little he had understood my instruction. He reminded me just how literal he is and how very careful I must be when giving him commands or instructions. “I wasn’t in the middle. I was on our side! You told me to stay on our side of the street!”

And I stopped.

He was right. As I replayed it in my mind, I could see him clearly on our half of the street. He carefully had stayed on our side of the street — not veering to the center of the road, but staying way to our side of the street. In the street, but on our sideof the street.

I laughed out loud and hugged him close to me. I re-explained what I meant by wanting him to stay on our side of the street. “I mean stay on the lawns on our side of the street. But no road. If your feet are in the street at all, you are disobeying. Do you understand?”

And I think this time he did. And he obeyed carefully.

Safety Sleeper Travels!

Ok, you already know how much we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Chloe’s bed, right? Well, we love it even more after having traveled with it.

Over spring break, we planned a little get-away for a few days. The day we left we had to leave very early in order to get to our destination by lunchtime since we were meeting my nephew for lunch. I set the alarm extra early so that Paul and Elliot would have time to take down Chloe’s Safety Sleeper bed and figure out how to get it back in its little travel bag.

Unfortunately, my alarm didn’t go off as planned so we got a 30 minute later start than planned. I was worried we’d leave later than we really needed to.

The amazing, surprising news? Before I even realized that Paul had gone to Chloe’s room to take her bed down… before I could even send Elliot back there to help him figure it out, Paul came out of Chloe’s room grinning and holding the bright pink bag that held all the parts to Chloe’s bed. It took Paul less than 6 minutes to take it apart and pack it up! Wow!!

And we were ready to hit the road … on time!

(In case you’re wondering, we made it in time to eat with my nephew! :))

That first night in the hotel, Paul set up Chloe’s bed right beside the window, where you’d put a roll-away if you ordered one. And he set up Chloe’s bed by himself in only 5 minutes! Voila! It was ready to go! It took longer to blow up the twin air mattress that we had purchased than to set up Chloe’s Safety Sleeper!

And it worked like a charm. In the past when we sleep in hotels, I push one of the beds against the wall and put Chloe next to the wall, me in the middle, and Elliot on the other side of me. And then I hardly sleep because I’m squished and claustrophobic between them — and because I can’t go to sleep too deeply for fear that Chloe will escape the bed and possibly the room! But with the Safety Sleeper, I slept more soundly, knowing that she was secure and safe in her bed!

We stayed two nights in that hotel, and then we traveled to Paul’s parents’ house for a night or two. Again, Paul set the bed up easily in their guestroom in under 5 minutes time! For the first time since Chloe was mobile, I was able to stay up with the grownups instead of laying with Chloe to make sure she stayed put.

What a way to travel!! Love it!

And I think Chloe did, too.

The Safety Sleeper for travel? Ummmm, YES!! 🙂


*Disclaimer: Rose gave me a good deal on The Safety Sleeper and I’ll be credited a bit with every buyer who mentions me because I promised that I would talk about it on my blog. But as most of you know by now, I’m gonna tell it how it is! So you know I’m not joshing or exaggerating the truth. The truth is that the bed is incredible, and I have a feeling I’ll be singing its praises for a long, long time!  If you visit the website or purchase a bed, be sure to let Rose know that I sent you! 🙂

Her Voice


Recently I also delighted in the sound of Chloe’s voice. Chloe is 10-years-old and is mostly nonverbal. When she vocalizes something, we notice. And we smile. And we’re proud. And we think it’s precious.

We were at a group Bible study recently at a friend’s house. Chloe was back in the little girls’ room playing toys. And several times she mimicked a talking toy. I heard her clap a couple of different times. She talked off and on, unaware that anyone was listening.

But I was listening. I heard it. And it made my heart glad. It was difficult to follow the adult conversation because I was so taken by the sound of Chloe’s voice in the next room.

I love that precious little girl. And anytime she is talking, it makes me stop and listen. And my heart is so filled with singing and smiling.

Keep it up, little one!

Delighting Today

As most of you know, I chose a word for 2012. A word to focus on. A word to sorta guide me. A word to remind me.


My word for 2012 is Delight. It has been more of a challenge to Delight than I was expecting. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the daily struggles, big and small. It is so easy to get carried away with my to do list each day.

But today I delighted.

I went away for the weekend on a church women’s retreat. I was gone for 2 nights, and Paul took care of everything single-handedly. (Well except for a few hours when my sis-in-law had Zippy and Chloe.) Coming home, I was excited to see my family. Don’t know if you’ve noticed before, but I rather like my husband and my kids. They are my life, and they complete me. I adore them. I breathe easier when we’re all together and accounted for.

So coming home was a nice feeling of expectancy and reuniting.

Elliot was the first one I saw. He ran across the parking lot to greet me. He was genuinely pleased to see me and told me that he missed me.

Then I greeted Zippy who is always glad to see me. Even when I’m gone for only an hour, he often greets me as though I’ve been away for a week. I love that kid.

And then I said Hi to Chloe. When she heard my voice she looked up into my eyes for longer than she usually does, seeming to take it all in and making sure it really was me. It was a sweet look. And then I made her give me a sweet kiss.

And then I saw Paul and was genuinely glad to see him and to touch him.

I was home. And all was well. 🙂

I Finally Did It…

I finally did it.

I committed the unpardonable sin.

I’m not surprised. I figured it was coming, and I knew I was completely capable of doing it. Any mom is in danger of committing it; and probably most of us eventually follow through and actually do it.

Yes, I committed the unpardonable sin.

I completely and totally –100% entirely — embarrassed my child.

The scene: dropping off my junior high son in the drop-off line at school; several other junior high students milling about on the sidewalk and porch; Elliot walking to the building, approximately 35 feet from the car.

I suddenly remembered that I didn’t know what time to pick him up. Was he staying for student council after school, or did I need to pick him up at the regular time?

And then I did it. I knew at the time that it was probably a mistake. My heart knew that I was messing up and that I would not be able to turn back or take it back.

But I did it anyway.

I rolled down the window, and hollered out the window: “Elliot!”

And there. It was done. It was unpardonable. And it was done. It was out there.

I watched as Elliot melted with absolute and utter embarrassment right there on the porch of the school. I watched, wincing with pain, as he turned his face to the bricks of the porch and attempted to disappear from sight. Realizing he could not disappear, he proceeded to nearly turn himself wrong-side-out and shoot me the quickest of tiny glances to see what in the world could be so dire that I would dare shout his name in front of all of these people.

It was too late to turn back. I knew it would be.

So I shouted again. “3:15?”

Elliot stood, still attempting to melt into the bricks, not even looking my way. And I thought I detected the very slightest of nods, agreeing that 3:15 was the correct time. But I couldn’t be sure that that really was a nod.

He was beginning to convince me that the entire world was staring, pointing, and laughing at us both for this unbelievable act committed by a dorky mother right here in the drop-off line in front of everyone.

“3:15?” I shouted again, this time also signing the time just in case he couldn’t hear my yelling voice.

I immediately got the message that signing while yelling at a junior high boy is even worse than just yelling at a junior high boy. Oh, boy. This was getting worse by the moment.

I would surely burn in Hell for this.

Elliot looked at me ever-so-slightly with a look of sheer desperation and gave me a nod that accompanied a look of … well, a look that said something that Elliot is really not allowed to say to his mother.

Elliot once more stuck his face in the bricks of the building until he was sure that the insane yelling from the mini-van had stopped, and he turned and headed into the building, out of sight of the multitudes of teenagers who were surely laughing and pointing and texting and tweeting about the horrific scene out in front of the school.

And I sat there, alone in the pick-up line, ashamed of how I’d behaved. I knew that I had finally committed the unforgivable sin — the one that Elliot will probably hold against me until I go to my grave … and perhaps even beyond the grave.

Yes, I was one of those moms. And I was ashamed.

(Or at least I pretended to be ashamed after I laughed out loud at my funny, horrified, ruined-forever pre-teen boy!)

What A Week!

Glad it’s over!

A week ago today, Elliot got stung on the eye by a bee and swelled up like a great big red and purple balloon. A couple of hours later, after who-knows-what-the-whole-story-is, Chloe had to be on the school bus for TWO HOURS. I was not a happy mama.

The next day started with Chloe and a stomach virus. Elliot later joined her in the fun of the virus.

Paul was the next to fall, coming home from work and going to bed.

Then came me. I am not one to miss a party! I spent a day in the bed with the virus and the next day in the bed with a migraine — probably from dehydration.

Elliot and Chloe were home all week from school. Ugh. Makeup work won’t be fun.

And then yesterday, one of my children got provoked by a particularly maddening student in his class and responded in a way that was unwise. (Being vague purposely for protection’s sake. 😉 Some of you detective-types may be able to put the pieces together, I realize!) My child was devastated by his choice and by his pronounced sentence: detention during recess and lunch. He literally cried himself to sleep after school. While inside I think this particularly maddening student got what was arguably deserved, I mostly just hope this terrible experience will keep my child walking the straight and narrow for a long time. Like forever.

To top it all off, today it’s cold and rainy. I’m a wimp and don’t like the cold.

But it’s Friday. And next week is spring break.

I love Fridays. And I love spring break even more!

Bring. it. on!

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