No News is Good News

Sam’s dilation went well. His esophagus was VERY strictured (narrow), almost shut again. The dilation was definitely needed.

As in the past, as soon as Sam gets dilated, his spitting and retching almost instantaneously stop. These are usually the tell tale signs he needs a dilation. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything else that can be done, except put him under anesthesia, and stretch his esophagus.

As of now, surgery will wait to hear from us. IF Sam gets symptoms, they will put him on the schedule as needed. With Sam’s thirty-five plus esophageal dilations, we’ve only been wrong once. There are many, but one great thing about Sam’s care team, is they trust our judgment. They listen, really listen to us. I call the surgery scheduler, who I’m on a first name basis with, and they get him on the surgery schedule ASAP.

We are going to believe Sam won’t need as many dilations as the first time, and even better, he won’t need anymore.

I’ll leave you with a moment from a day in the life of Superman Sam. You just can’t make this stuff up!

We were sitting in “school” with Sam. When Sam does distance learning, we prop his iPad on the kitchen island and he sits on one of the bar stools. I usually stand next to him. His nurse will stand or sit on the stool on the other side of him. All of the sudden, I thought I noticed something about Sam’s mouth. Does he have a missing tooth?!?! With Sam’s camera on, I didn’t want to disrupt school.

As soon as school was over, Sam’s nurse and I pried open his mouth. Yes, we had to do this. It’s the only way to be able to see inside his mouth. Yep, I saw it right the first time, a bottom, front, tooth, MIA! What?!?! Where did it go?!?! Did he swallow it?!?! Was it in his bedroom somewhere?!?! How did I not know he had a loose tooth?!?!

Mom guilt, setting in. And then, that good ole self talk. Stop it!! You have a lot more things to keep track of in the world of Sam, then a loose tooth!!! It’s not a big deal!! He’s clearly okay!!

Mom guilt. Raise your hand if you’re a mom and have had mom guilt recently. Okay, I’m feeling better already. It’s so silly. Why do we do this to ourselves? Because, we’re human.

Give yourself grace mama. To me, giving yourself grace is acknowledging the situation, doing what you can to rectify it, then moving on, and letting it go. It’s knowing, we are not perfect.

From the mama with typical children, to the mama with special needs children, to the mama of a prodigal, and everything in between, give yourself grace, because we all need it, every single day.

Sam Strong!

Faith Over Fear!

Donate to RMH Today!

If you’re able, don’t forget to make a last minute donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities today!

Last year our team won the Largest Team Award. Way to go Team Sam Strong! Maybe this year, we can win the award for Most Last Minute Donations! It’s not actually a thing, but it sounds good. 😁

Click here to donate in honor of Team Sam Strong!

Click here to read my latest post on what RMH means to me.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

The Abbreviated Version

It isn’t until I see Sam’s story on paper or I’m asked to share it at a volunteer event, I think, Holy Smokes!!

I shared my “What Will You Remember” post with one of Sam’s nurses he had while “living” in the hospital.

Her: Oh my gosh!!!! We were out on a boat today and I literally was thinking about Sam! I honestly CAN NOT believe it was 4 years ago!

Her: He changed my life!

Her: That post made me bawl 😭😭😭 so perfectly said! You have all been through SO much.

Me: I don’t even realize it until I write about it!

Her: And that is truly the abbreviated version. Insane.

That hit me hard. The abbreviated version. Wow. So true. Crazy. 

Here’s the thing.

I don’t want discount Sam’s story and I know it’s significant. I know it’s a big one.

I also know so many have been through so much more and it could be so much worse.

Side note, never tell anyone else when they’re going through a rough patch, it could be worse. That’s a whole other topic.

It’s completely different when it’s coming from the person experiencing the tough time. I believe when your having a “poor me” moment, because we all have them at times, acknowledging others are going through or have been through worse, is not a bad thing.

Sometimes it’s not even a “poor me” moment. It’s truly a crisis situation.

Either way, it’s important we don’t stay at the pity party for too long. Pity turns into wallow and self loathing. Then we’re in trouble. When we’re here, it’s a lot harder to be there for the other people in our lives because we’re focused solely on our self.

Having a moment is okay, but staying there isn’t good for anyone.

For me, acknowledging “it could be worse“ helps me see the bigger picture and focus on the things I am grateful for. It quickly gets me out of the party no one wants to be at for very long.

It’s that self talk that says…

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Homeschool, What?!

MANY of us are parents or caregivers who have turned into teachers overnight. Who would have thunk?! 

Change is not easy, but with a little elbow grease and most importantly an overall good attitude, you can do it.

Yes, at the beginning, we have to work out the kinks and navigate through the unknowns, but the more we focus on what we are going to do with the change and not dwell on what has changed, the more successful and happy we will be.

Like I’ve said before, technology can be a blessing and a cursing. Right now, in the world of education and beyond, it has been an absolute blessing, no doubt.

I don’t know about where you live, but the teachers and educational staff in our community have really pulled together and made the best of a tough situation. And we are the largest school district in our state.

Many teachers are working hard if not harder then they did before to do their best to keep up with our children’s education. Let this time remind you of how hard teachers work to educate our children. This situation in not ideal and they would rather be in the classroom with our kids.

Hopefully you have settled into somewhat of a routine. Is it going to be the same as if kids were in school? No.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve caught myself having yelling matches with my kids and their schoolwork. It’s funny, because I was a teacher, so you would think I have more in my tool belt when guiding them with their schoolwork, but all that education and patience seems to go out the door when it comes to your own kids. Hahaha!

I’m so grateful I don’t have to plan the curriculum!

This is tough, but let me tell you, there are much tougher things.

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We can fight the change or we can embrace it. Knowing what it’s like to live in a new normal, if you can embrace the change, you will stay mentally strong.

While we are quarantined at home, and things are out of the norm, someone else is grieving the loss of their daughter/son to Suicide, or just found out they had cancer, or have been waiting in the hospital for over a year with their child for a bone marrow transplant, or the list goes on and on and on and on. It can always be worse.

Let’s not forget there are many out there who have been through or are currently going through far harder things than suddenly becoming their child’s teacher.

Teachers are working very hard to keep things as normal as possible for our kids. Many have kids of their own at home, while also working full-time.

I’m not saying we can’t have a bad day, here and there, but let’s refuse to let COVID-19 steal our joy and be thankful for what do have!

Let’s be grateful for our educators who are working hard to make the best of the cards they’ve been dealt.

Hang in there.

This too shall pass. 

Best Christmas E…v…er!

Well, I’m overwhelmed again and it’s not because things aren’t going well. Again, it’s the opposite.

We were shocked and surprised when our friends showed up at our door the week before Christmas with gifts…so…many…gifts. I tried to ask what was going on and everyone just ignored me. Then, strangers started to follow with even more wrapped presents! The presents kept coming and everyone kept ignoring me! After the gifts were literally overflowing in our living room one of the strangers with the sweetest, kindest smile began to talk. I don’t remember much of what she said. I remember hearing, We are here with the Vikings and the Best Christmas Ever and your friends nominated you...

I don’t know if I was sobbing before or after that, I just know the tears were flowing off and on A LOT that night.

The sweet gal from the Vikings had our friend read what she wrote to nominate our family for the Best Christmas Ever. You know when the tears are falling so fast down your cheeks, you can barely catch the next one? Yeah, that was me during that little reading. I just kept thinking, we do not deserve all of this. Yeah, I still feel that way, especially after all we’ve been blessed with in the last few months.

We were given SO MUCH stuff, from a trip for our family to anywhere warm to Sesame Street pjs for Sam. Things we could easily do without, but those things put some pretty big, heart felt smiles on my kids faces. Okay, okay ours too. I got a KitchenAid mixer, something I’ve always wanted, but either couldn’t or just didn’t feel right about buying in the past.

We have been beyond blessed by our family, friends, and strangers the past three years, but this year has been over the top.

Honestly, I’m still in shock and it all feels so undeserving. I get a lump in my throat each time I think about the whole thing. Why us?

I guess I tell myself it wasn’t for me, or Sean, or Sam. The Best Christmas Ever was for Ryan, Will, and Abby. You see, when you have a complex child, everything revolves around that child. If you haven’t seen the movie Wonder, I would highly recommend it. The way it depicts each member of the family with a complex child is spot on. The sister of the boy who is medically complex in the movie says, “August is the Sun. Me and Mom and Dad are the planets orbiting the Sun.” Although she deeply loves her brother, she feels left out sometimes. I could write a book about the mom guilt feelings I have with my other three kids since Sam has been born.

It really is incredible what can happen when people use their pain to help others. Click here to learn more about the Best Christmas Ever and read the story about this amazing dad who decided to pay it forward year after year to families who have been dealt a tough hand at no fault of their own. We were blessed this Christmas because one person tried. And we weren’t the only ones blessed, all that partook were uplifted. We can’t thank all involved enough. Sometimes, thank you doesn’t do justice. At the end of the day, it’s my hope, my kids will see His work in all of this.

Grateful

My heart could not be more full. We walked to raise money for a charity who gives families a home-away-from-home when their child is experiencing a serious illness.

Put yourself in these shoes. You’re watching your child fight for his/her life. It doesn’t matter what is it or how they’re fighting. Bottom line…they are fighting to stay alive and it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life.

During that time, someone comes in and gives you the simple things in life, like a homemade dinner, a hot shower, or a place to step away without feeling like you’re in a hospital. When you’re watching your child fight for their life and you are able to access these things that seem so simple, but really are not, it means the world to you. I speak from experience.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the Ronald McDonald House Charities and how thankful I am to be able to give back to them.

Our team, Sam Strong raised $2,285 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities – Upper Midwest! Thank you to all who donated!

2019 RBC Race for the Kids Family Walk
Team Sam Strong

2019 RBC Race for the Kids Family Walk
Award for the largest team! Go team Sam Strong!

We also won an award for being the largest team! I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Winning this award is evidence of the amazing support system we have. I feel so blessed. Thank you to everyone who gave up a their Saturday and endured the humidity for Sam, our family, and this incredible organization.

3rd Annual Ronald McDonald House Walk

“This is the house that opens its arms, that feels like home, that embraces the children, that comforts the parents. This is the house where families meet, to eat and sleep, to find their strengths and dry their tears, to look forward with hope to better years.”

I never knew the impact of Ronald McDonald House (RMH) Charities until life threw a curve ball at my family. If you don’t already know, RMH Charities provides a home-away-from-home to keep families close during a child’s serious illness. For over seven months, they did just that, and more for my family. Please consider donating or walking with us.

Click here for more information on donating and/or walking. 

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Happy Birthday!!!

Happy 3rd birthday to my sweet, miracle boy! Many didn’t think you would make it home. Although you are still very medical, you are thriving. Hospital staff continue to be amazed at your progress. Thank you for the joy you bring into my life and so many others. Thank you for reminding me daily how precious life is. Thank you for being so strong for all your little body has endured. Thank you for inspiring me to do better every day.

To the medical professionals who didn’t think Sam would make it home from the hospital. Thank you for doing everything you could to keep him alive. Thank you for losing sleep over my little boy. Thank you for talking with us, not at us. Thank you for looking at Sam as an individual and not just a little boy with Down Syndrome.

To the family and friends who continue to stick by us. We couldn’t do this journey without you. Your prayers and continued direct support are a constant reminder of the good in a chaotic world. We are where we are mentally, physically, financially, and emotionally because of people like you.

To our Heavenly Father. It’s because of your love I make it through each day with a smile on my face, even when it’s hard. Thank you for promising to stay with me in the storm. Thank you for giving me a heart of gratitude or a glass half full mentality, no matter the situation, even though I know it sometimes annoys people a little. Thank you for your grace and mercy.

I joke my life seems to have a timeline, BS (Before Sam) and AS (After Sam). Ironic, I know. My friends and I have had some good laughs over that one. It’s weird how life can seem to stand still and fly by at the same time. These last three years have been the longest, shortest years of my life, if that makes any sense at all. We don’t always get to choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose how we deal with the cards we are dealt. Shortly before we knew Sam would come into our life, I bought this sign for our house. When Life Gives You Lemons Make LemonadeI’d be lying if I told you I haven’t had tears streaming down my face, while looking up at that small decor in our home. That silly little sign has given me hope on days that felt hopeless. No matter what you are going through, I hope you can make some lemonade out of lemons. All you need is a little sugar.

This Precious Life

As we all know, getting family photos taken is not the most affordable thing to do. Let’s face it, it’s down right expensive!

Thanks to a sweet gal who is using her gifts for others, we were able to capture some memories we will cherish for years to come. Like Nicole says, it’s not going to end world hunger, but it is a gift.

There isn’t anything much more powerful than knowing your gifts and then using those gifts for others. That’s just what Nicole is doing and we will be eternally grateful.

It’s been a dream of Nicole’s to start “This Precious Life” and we were able to be her first candidates.

Click here to see what “This Precious Life” is all about.