Thursday, July 28, 2016

Levi update

People who don't see Levi every week are constantly reminding me how "great" he looks. I agree- even with that mint fudge on his face! It's easy to forget how far he's come though, until I look back at this blog and see how quickly he's changed. As much as people tend to hate forced changed, I think humans are remarkable creatures of adaptability. As quickly as I adjusted to feeding Levi through a tube, I just as quickly adjusted to not using it at all! Yes, he went 10 days without using that G tube once! But similar to those old testament humans who were given bread from heaven and water from rocks, we quickly forget God's goodness the second something isn't ideal and start complaining about our circumstances.
In three weeks, Levi lost 9 ounces and is back down to 16 pounds 14 ounces. Thus, before we get a serious scolding and backtrack from our GI doc, the nutritionist wants to double his formula intake. We were syringing (because he can't drink from a bottle and we need an exact measurement) his night-feed formula into his mouth the last 10 days, which was a lot of extra work in feeding, but worth it to avoid the tube. However, 60ml of formula before and after each meal is a bit much for Levi to handle by mouth, so we are back on the tube. However, the great news is that he's holding it all down, (for the last 24 hours), so we don't have to struggle with hooking him up at night. While, this is a setback, I'm realizing it's really just a tiny setback. His entire life has been two steps forward and one back, so I'm getting much better at quickly dispensing of my personal pity party, and choosing to focus on the constant miracle Levi Joe is to us. He could be so much worse, and sitting in multiple doctors offices each week is always proof of that.
Levi is making huge strides with development too! He's understanding way more than people realize at his small stature and babbling his own language and preferences with whiny toddler ease. He is pulling up and trying to cruise a bit, but his week core and right side still inhibit him. It's seems obvious to me that Levi would lose a little weight because of how active he is. Moreover, instead of having control over his muscles like a normal 17-month old, as Levi's therapists describe, Levi uses practically every muscle in his body to make small movements because he doesn't have the centralized control and strength he needs. Instead of crawling or scooting a few steps to get to what he wants, he'll lunge his entire body forward in a desperate attempt to claim his prize. Luckily he's really tough and doesn't seem to bruise or cry easily. :)
We also had a recent visit with the orthopaedic doctor. Levi's legs have been the least of our worries and the strongest part of his body. I did ask about potential future walking issues, and the doc said that 20 percent of kids with club feet end up rolling their feet inward when walking. She said that they'd have to watch him walk independently for at least a year to see whether this was an true problem, and if he was part of that percentage, then they'd do another surgery to correct it. Prayers for some normal walking in the near future!
All is all, little Levi remains a daily source of our joy. His belly laughs are contagious, and I'm so grateful for his slow and steady progress!

Thank you for continuing to pray. Oh..... and I forgot the other fabulous news- baby boy three (don't worry baby you will never be forgotten, except maybe at a theme park ;) ) had a full anatomy scan a few weeks ago and is wonderfully and anatomically normal! Such an unexpected praise! We are utterly blessed Smiths.

Learning about "Life" during our pink eye weeks. I love that Silas just wants to set it up and drive his cars on the board. Boys are great.

We had a great day in Dahlonega visiting an old mine, panning for gold, and eating fudge!

Nothing better than family memories.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What do we deserve?

Just as I predicted, we had a wonderful day of respite from pink eye with undeserved ice cream, but soon after, Levi began to show yucky pink signs, and Silas, who we can't seem to hold back physical affection from his brother, looked liked he was getting it again. That said, I've done the exceptional doctor mom thing and shared the antibiotics between the two of them...enough to kill this sucker so they stop passing it back and forth. Praise God Matthew and I learned years ago to refrain from putting toys in our mouth. 
With this long stint of laundry and cleaning, it is easy to say that I "deserve" a break soon. While this phrase is commonplace and in no way wrong, I personally have concluded that I dislike the phrase. It's not that I never think certain people have worked hard and deserve rest, but hearing or stating that I have merited or become worthy of a privilege seems to only fuel my sense of self-righteousness and pride in my work.
I was reading some of the historical roots of "vacationing" (because I have nothing better to do), and it turns out, as you'd probably assume, that "the first vacationers in the early part of the 19th century were elite people, some of whom were going away for their health" (Aron, The average Joe, those who were probably working harder than others, comparatively speaking, the blue-collared men and women building families and cities, didn't take real vacations. Their rest and relaxation probably occurred more organically. Their perspective and definition of respite was likely different from their "elite" counterparts. I'm sure a nice rocking chair on Sunday or star gazing during a quiet evening on the farm was the extent of their breaks.
It's not that I don't like to take "vacations," but I've come to conclude that we are a bit too entitled in our society, and I fear that if I don't change myself, my children will entitle themselves right alongside of me.
There's a hidden message prowling around that says we must look out for ourselves or no one else will. I disagree. God looks out for me daily. I've seen Him give me exactly what I need, exactly when I need it. I know I've preached that before, but I neglected to recognize because of my disciplined and ritualistic personality that subconsciously I believe my time, my body, my rest, my sleep, and my abilities are mine. I always tell Silas everything belongs to God when he proudly takes toys away from his brother stating they are "MINE." Somehow physical objects are easier to associate with an owner than invisible ones. But God really owns everything.
Fighting our own selfishness is constant. When I give up everything and deny myself such distinct ownership, I somehow experience more peace and gain exactly what I needed in the first place. Instead of getting angry at a thousand sleepless nights because I "deserve" a good night's rest, instead of striving to fit in a full workout because I "deserve" to some exercise, instead of justifying my academic career or resume with my current mom title because I "deserve" mental stimulation or adult interaction, if I just give it all up, somehow a perfect night of sleep, a wonderful long walk, or an unexpected date occurs without all my complaining efforts. Then I actually enjoy each moment knowing I'll have what I need whenever God opens that door. There's so much more peace in living in each moment, letting God take care of all the details. If I want my children to trust me and not worry about getting "their turn" or "their share," shouldn't I do the same?

"Be still and know that I am God." - Psalm 46:10

---Deserving Buster

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Good for Evil

This picture sums up our past week. When Silas Smith gets sick, whether simple sniffles, a tummy ache, or full blown pink eye, he is not himself. While most people are somewhat different when tired or hurting, there are definitely some that handle it better than others.
Our country has certainly experienced its share of hurt this past week too. As I've been trucking along through the monotony of First and Second Kings in the Bible, I (forever literature teacher) saw the striking applicable connections between then and now.
The kings of the old testament often times continued on with the "evil that their fathers had done" for many generations. When we are brought up around prejudice, self-righteousness, entitlement and the like, no matter how outright or subtle, it becomes ingrained in our psyche. It isn't until we consciously choose to examine our upbringing and surroundings and seek to know a world outside our own that we can decipher truth from lies. There is so much evil in the world, and when we are taught that something different is something evil, we begin to show our own evil instincts.

While my boys can be precious and sweet, I know that there is natural ugliness that must be weeded out, and it always shows it's ugly face when planted with tiredness or illness. If you think anyone has perfect kids, wait until they are all tired and you'll decide otherwise. Levi seems to have a higher tolerance for doctors visits (for obvious reasons), than his older brother. When I took the boys to the doc on Monday to get a pink eye verification, Silas not only tried to bite the doctor when she was listening to his heart, but he proceeded to try and spit on her when she tried to look at his ears. I was mortified at his outlandish behavior and even more frustrated at his stubborn inability to apologize afterwards. It wasn't until two days later that he heard a children's song about Romans 12:21, which says, "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good," that he said, "Mommy I was evil the last two days." While that wasn't my first choice of words, I didn't fully disagree with him either.

This world may have evil in it, but that doesn't mean we should repay evil with evil. We must choose to love even when we aren't receiving it in return because that's the only way to show what Jesus really looked like on Earth, and as a frustrated mommy this week, I need this reminder more than anyone.

Thank goodness Levi didn't lose weight at his appointment yesterday. He only gained 5 ounces, but I'll take it. We are continuing to try to get him to eat more by mouth and less at night, and now we have a new hand splint that I'll attempt to strap on his right arm during bedtime.

It's been my experience that after a tough week, there's usually some rays of sunshine on the horizon! Here's to those sweet moments in the future!

May God bless you in whatever kind of hurt you may be in this week.

~Goodness Buster

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

Here's a quick snapshot at our holiday (more for my remembrance).

Because Silas loves "science experiments" so much now, we always look for ones with great reward. Homemade rock candy was perfect!

When it's hot and you only have a short time to get out, water balloons are always a hit.

I thought Christmas was packed with sugar treats, but it seems 4th of July is no different!

Everyone enjoyed the rock candy experiment.

But definitely reserve it for the last thirty minutes of a car trip due to seat belt restraints.

Visiting my parents lake house was a blast! Especially since this little boy is still doing well and only using his tube feed at night.

The tradition of blueberry picking has continued!

I remember doing this last year after Silas met Levi in the hospital for the first time. It's an unbelievable gift to have Levi here with us this year!

Two different cobblers have been made from our harvest!

My husband never ceases to surprise me. A late night paddle board session wasn't on my agenda, but I'm glad it was on his.

Silas enjoyed sparklers with Dee Dee, but burned himself more than once!

I mean.... seriously there are no words to express this boy's thankful joy of living.
We are not sure if Levi is gaining weight (our scale tells us the opposite), so I am praying hard that our appointment with the nutritionist this Tuesday will not force a reversal of food intake. I pray he can continue to eat solely by mouth during the day and strengthen his right arm, which seems to hold him back from much of his exploration. Yet, I can only be grateful for the joy that Levi is in our lives. My boys (all four of them) always remind me to keep it simple and focus on the greatness that we've already experienced!

Thank you for prayers and love! And thanks be to God for all those serving our country to keep us in such glorious freedom. We are deeply appreciative of your selfless service.

~Grateful Buster