Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Remembering Day

I know that Memorial Day signifies different emotions for different people. Some see it as a sweet reminder of those who have given their lives in battle. Others focus on the start of summer and smell of barbecue and long weekends. Still, many people no doubt have a palpable taste of loss and mourning the brothers who died alongside of them. I do not personally feel that true sense of mourning on Memorial Day, but that doesn't mean I do not appreciate those men and women who lay down their lives for my freedom and justice. I just can't empathize and appreciate the day as it deserves. But we all have an area of life that we can appreciate more thoroughly than others.
In watching my baby Ro Ro grow, I have a deep understanding and thanksgiving for his natural ability to develop.
Fun fact: all three of my children have been on feeding tubes at the beginning of their lives. However, sandwiched in between my natural developers grows a sweet boy that still holds a hole in his belly for emergency purposes. He has required the aid of many great people to develop properly, and I do not know at what point those persons will be a distant memory. Thus, my appreciation for infant milestones is a bit more accurate than others. This doesn't mean I should fault those who take such easy growth for granted because I would hate for my fellow soldiers to hold a grudge against my lack of understanding Memorial Day's significance. Instead, we should always maintain our unique appreciations no matter how many years pass.
Maybe you appreciate your health more than others because of a chronic illness. Maybe it is a better understanding of financial stability because you grew up in extreme poverty. Or maybe it is an appreciation of every little American invention because you reside most of the year in a country without electricity. Whatever it is, big or small, don't judge others for not recognizing something properly. Be grateful you have that uniquely wonderful perspective, and work to hold on to it, as well as learn to appreciate new aspects of life that may not hit close to your home.

We cannot thank our soldiers enough who fight the good fight in this broken world.

I think Roman's quick development is helping little Levi work harder because he doesn't want to be surpassed by his baby bro. Levi's doing amazing with eating solids. We just have to pace him a little better or he'll stuff his mouth full and have no room to chew.

We had a great visit with the hand specialist doctor last Friday. Levi got both hands x-rayed and all normal growth plates, bones, and joints are evident. His flexibility in his right hand looks good, which is what we watch for now. During growth spurts, there is a chance he could stiffen his hand, but hopefully that will resolve itself or never happen. At this point we just have to continue with therapy. Only the future will tell whether he needs any surgeries in that right hand or not.

Please pray for our nutrition appointment next week. His weight-gain is key at this point in whether or not we have a foreseeable g-tube extraction date. We'll get input from our nutritionist next week, and then see our GI doc two weeks later.
Lastly, we will see Levi's orthopedic doctor in July to determine how much longer he has to wear leg braces at night. We are hoping to be done with those metal shoes soon because Levi is starting to hate them. Plus it makes for difficult bed-sharing during travel. You could wake up with a huge bruise the way Levi flings his legs around at night!

Thank you for all your love and prayers, and thank you again to all our soldiers!

God bless you!
~Memorial Buster

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Helping hands

Letting someone help you isn't always easy, nor is it always helpful, but it's definitely essential, not only for you, but for them. In the same way that children must learn to take care of themselves through trial and error (even if their clean up work makes your clean up harder), likewise when you accept help, you may actually give someone joy in serving; they receive an opportunity to shine and grow their strengths in ways they wouldn't otherwise be able to do.
I recently watched my friends two children for just over an hour, to give her a little break. While it wasn't a ton of help on paper, I definitely loved being able to be the one giving help rather than always receiving it. Plus, we you always try to do everything yourself, it is easy to get a big head.
During our recent ten-day trip to Texas, I was constantly on call with my kids. Being on the road had its ups and downs, but by the last few days, I was starting to feel pretty good about my ability to travel with little ones. We had unpacked and re-packed six different times by day seven. We even stayed in one hotel for just an hour nap when we found out a larger space was available across the street (in which case I didn't let any child under the covers to avoid the cleaning fee). The kids were pros at sleeping now!

One morning I had all three kids quietly eating by themselves in a hotel breakfast area without any high chairs! I was able to go get my coffee around the corner and come back to sweet obedience. But it goes without saying, "pride comes before a fall," and in my case, it was a literal fall. When I attempted the same strategy the next morning, something inside my gut told me to take Levi with me. He was a little too fidgety, and Silas was a little too interested in the lobby television that morning. No sooner had I grabbed my paper cup around the corner that a bloodcurdling scream echoed throughout the entire hotel. Little Levi had fallen out of his chair and decided to make the biggest scene on the planet. He was absolutely fine, both physically and emotionally, but I, on the other hand, was embarrassed beyond belief. I had just been asked by a man and his wife if I needed any help to which I politely responded, "Oh I'm fine, I'm used to this." It was that same man and his wife who ran to save my middle child. Talk about a punch to the gut. I just wish it had been me that had fallen instead of little Levi.
There's no shame in accepting help, even if you don't think you need it. Sometimes it is simply for your own humility sake, or the sake of your children's.
We were able to take some vacation time before Matthew's conference and stopped by a few of our favorite reality television locations:

While these pit stops meant nothing to the kids, I was in hog heaven. Plus, it's no coincidence that The Magnolia Silos was also discussing the topic of "confidence." As Joanna Gaines explained, "we're not talking about the strut-your-bikini-on-the-beach variety. We're diving deep into a quiet kind of confidence that allows us to live our lives bravely, unfettered by popular opinion or nagging fears." In her recent journal, she opened up about a time she was unable to perform all her daily responsibilities because of a back injury, and at this particular time, she realized that when she stepped back and let others do the problem solving, "[they] came alive as they were given space and encouragement to really go after it without [her] standing over their shoulder." This is another real reason to let go of control and let others help. There are always times when we have to step up and do ALL the work ourselves, so when a time comes when someone wants to take something out of your hands, as long as that something isn't what brings you to life, let them. It may very well help them discover a strength they never knew they possessed.
All in all, it was a great trip. I just wished I'd been able to get some pictures of the boys with their cousins, but a little bug on my nephew's part kept us apart quite a bit.

Whenever this happened for more than five minutes...

This happened.

A pit stop in Memphis meant Roman got to meet my BFF's new baby boy, John.

Papa came out from San Diego to see all his grandsons in one place!

After being grandpa doctor for one nephew, he took his other ones to their first baseball game!

Since Papa is a baseball player himself, this meant the world to him!

The Frisco Texas Rough Riders had a great stadium!

Thanks to Aunt Nicole, we got to stay in Fort Worth and see these awesome "Water Gardens."

And splash grounds!

Fountains were a little too much for little Levi, so he stuck the the rock area. 

Forth Worth cattle run was a favorite stop!

And when daddy had to work, we just looked for acorns and sewer drains. I love boys!

This sweet face was a sweet traveler! He's changing daily!
So thankful we could travel, but so thankful for a home to come back to at the end of it!

~Helpful Buster

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dear Moms,

Not everyone is called mom, but everyone has a mom. Whether that mom is down the street, in heaven, adopted, a distant acquaintance, or your best friend, everyone was born of a woman, and thus Mother's Day is a holiday that is understood in some easy or hard way by all Americans.
As I walk in these familiar, yet uniquely designed shoes of many women before me, I am struck by the difficulty of the Hallmark holiday. Some people ache to become pregnant mothers, while others ache to hear their mama's voice again. Your mom may be your ideal parent, or she may have been a huge disappointment, but someone helped keep you alive from infancy to adulthood, and that is whom you should thank this Sunday.
I'm reading a sweet little book called Mom Enough by some fellow sisters, and I greatly appreciate the idea that motherhood is not an extra hobby we take on because we are bored; nor is it an activity to enter so that we have some cute clothes to buy or cute pictures to post.
I walked with a fellow mommy last week, and we shared some of the "hard" of mothering. My friend recognized how few young moms want to admit the hard parts of parenting for fear of isolation or judgement, and how older moms seem to have parental amnesia from early years comparing their teenage and adult children's hardships therein minimizing a young mom's tiresome troubles. I hope that no matter what "hard" or "easy" phase of life you are in right now, you will be an encouraging ear to someone who feels like they are drowning. Leave self-righteousness at the doorstep and realize that we all face our own hard in our own way at our own time. Instead of comparing those hards, just listen and love. I love what one of the authors of Mom Enough says about the job description for moms:

Lay yourself down. Sacrifice yourself here, now. Cheerfully wipe the nose for the fiftieth time today. Make dinner again for the people who don't like green beans. Laugh when a vomiting child thwarts your plans. Lay yourself down for the people here with you, the people who annoy you, the people who get in your way, the people who take up so much of your time that you can't read anymore. Rejoice in them. Sacrifice for them. Gain that which you cannot lose in them.
It is easy to think you have a heart for orphans on the other side of the world, but to resent the demands of the children in your living room. You cannot have a heart for the gospel and fussiness about your life at the same time. You will never make any difference there if you cannot be a peace here. You cannot have a heart for missions without a heart for the people around you. A true love of the gospel overflows and overpowers. It will be in everything you do, however drab, however simple, however repetitive. (Rachel Jankovic) 

To all moms (and dads for that matter) everywhere, especially those who have been moms without the biological attachment, thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for giving of yourself even if you never felt celebrated on "Mother's Day." There is one who sees all, and He celebrates His love for you every single day.

And a little about those who call me mommy:

I am thrilled to thank you all who read this little blog and pray. Little Levi can suck from a straw!  THIS IS HUGE! While his stamina still needs to build, it's a big milestone for the little man. Levi did great after surgery, and he's still eating very well, but more like a 12-15 month old diet than a two year-old diet in addition to all his extra caloric Pediasure. We are just thrilled that he's motivated and continues to make improvements with self-feeding.
While I'd hoped his balance would improve after surgery, I've come to recognize that Levi is showing some signs of sensory processing disorder. Many NICU preemies struggle with sensory input, but thus far, we've been so thankful to hear from his therapists that Levi has NO issue with sensory input. However, he may have slightly the opposite issue. As we always thought it humorous to watch Levi stumble and laugh like a drunken sailor shaking his head and falling down, I believe (and this is not a clinical diagnosis, just talk with therapists and my own mommy intuition) Levi has excessive post rotary nystagmus. Before you go looking it up, let me explain. Basically Levi has a little vestibular dysfunction, meaning he is hyposensitive (not hyper) to movement. This means that Levi craves movement like a thrill seeker; his eyes don't catch up with his body when he gets dizzy, he loves increased sensory input like falling or banging himself. At this point, his OT says he should grow out of this, even though he'll probably always love the fastest rollercoasters and highest mountains, but for now, please pray for wisdom as we continue to watch the sweet boy grow and develop in his own perfect way.

Other milestones were hit by my baby Ro Ro too! I forgot how quickly babies change when they are on a normal developmental curve. Roman had his six month appointment today, and he's 16 pounds, which is just four pounds short of catching Levi. He got his first two teeth already, his first swing ride, his first Johnny jumper experience, and many first table foods. He's the sweetest little bug, and I love watching all three boys talk and play together.

Silas finished his first year of preschool, and continues to be the best big brother I've ever known. I'm nervously excited about our road trip to Texas tomorrow! It'll be a Mother's Day weekend I'm sure I'll always remember!

Some much needed shenanigans from our home to yours:

A sweet Mother's Day musical. Can you spot my boy in the red shirt middle.

He sang with pure gusto!

Two days before they broke ground. This tough man showed no symptoms! I welcomed change.

Cool as a cucumber.

Oh so that's what the word "suck" means!

I could get into this!

This boy... oh my heart. 

So far eating is at the top of his "likes" list. 

Levi keeps wanting to show that he's bigger than Roman. :)

Ro Ro finally found his feet. Even when sleeping, they are still there buddy.

Best seat in the house. 

Sweet boys watching Si man be silly.

Nothing better for boys than sand and trucks. 
Except maybe puddles and jumping!

And mommy's phone.

 There's nothing quite like it--- Happy Mother's Day!

~Mommy Buster

Thursday, May 4, 2017


Teaching middle and high school students helped this aging coffee-drinker stay "hip with the times," but now that I rarely watch tv, mostly play with trains or trucks, and don't have a twitter account, I'm starting to lose my edge. When my younger step-sister labeled my oldest son's social disease FOMO, I thought she was speaking another language, but now I see that the "Fear Of Missing Out" syndrome has been created for the social media generation and also applies to my silly Silas. As observed by all, Silas Smith HATES to miss out on anything. He has begun to have serious panic attacks whenever he thinks SIMO (Silas is missing out) on anything! We are talking a simple diaper change, a trip to the grocery store, or a date with dad. SIMO like all social syndromes occurs when we want to be a part of everything, we don't want good times to occur without our presence. We see pictures (for others it's on social media) or hear stories (again on social media--Silas isn't on social media but you get the point) of wonderful times that excluded us. We dread the idea that insiders know something that we don't know! What is at the root of this problem? An over-inflated idea of self mixed with an irrational and unrealistic idea of others. Instead of enjoying the present moment, my sweet Silas is always wondering what is coming next. He has a rare male gift of listening to stories told in another room in order to make sure he's in on any jokes or possible preparedness for future disasters while still maintaining his individual playtime. We have tried to calmly explain that he cannot be a part of everything, nor can he know everything to which he responded appropriately, "WHY Can't I?!" Ah Ha.. there in lies the real teachable moment: "Because baby boy, you are NOT God."
Most recipients of FOMO have their identity in who they know or what they do, rather than in their creator. My prayer is that my attention-craving, experience-driven four year-old would one day realize that by trying to be everywhere all the time actually makes you miss out significantly on where you actually are. If you are always wondering and wishing you were somewhere else, you can't possibly enjoy any aspect of where you are purposely placed in the present moment. Silas also maintains a gift in his dilemma: he has a beautiful awareness of everything occurring around him. This will serve him well when he seeks to serve others. He is very in-tune with other people's emotions, which many men struggle to understand. However, letting go of watching everything will give him an inner peace to trust that God is in charge of keeping everyone under his watchful and loving eyes. I hope that if you suffer from FOMO, you'll see that not only are your fears self-inflicted, but contradictory because you are missing everything if you think you are missing anything. Enjoy where God has placed you and let go of trying to be everywhere all the time. 

For those of you who simply want to know how little Levi is doing, let me just say, that boy seems to have the opposite issue of his big brother. Levi has the gift of living each moment to the fullest. He was blissfully unaware of what was happening on surgery day (two days ago) until they asked me to put the hospital gown on him. That's when he knew EXACTLY what was about to happen. Thankfully a little "relaxing medicine" had him open to anything. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your prayers. The surgery went very smoothly (minus the angry-hornet coming off anesthesia with no food, no nap, and wires all over him). The ENT doctor said Levi's ears were beyond "filled with gunk." He was surprised he could hear anything at all, so we are hopeful that speech and balance will improve now. Also, Levi's adenoids and tonsils were very swollen, but for some reason they don't take tonsils out of little ones because the risk of bleeding is major, so for now, Levi has barely any adenoids like his mama. Levi continued to improve quickly after surgery, and actually seemed to be more driven to eat in order to replenish those lost calories from his pre-op fast. 

Please pray that he continues to improve, as well as learns to speak. Since I understand him pretty well already, he seems to lazily use his gestures and mono-syllabic sounds instead of real talking. We hope his weight continues to increase so that when we see our GI doc and nutritionist next month, they'll be a little more excited that we don't use his G-tube anymore. 

Before surgery we were able to escape the norm, turn off our phones, and enjoy our anniversary with our boys up at my parents' lake house. No FOMO happened as we all enjoyed the sweet moments together. 

Lake prep work...

They were ready!

Too ready

This sweet boy was in my belly last time we went to the lake!

Lost on an island
and loving it

Rain or shine, it's fun there.

Levi wants to eat whatever I'm feeding Roman. It's like having twins!

Family hike in the mountains of North Carolina!

He didn't have to hike at all, but acted like it was the hardest hike ever!

3 captains this trip

And one mommy first mate


We love you all and can't thank you enough for continuing to keep our little family in your coffee-drinking prayers!

~SIMO Buster