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Monday, November 30, 2015

Hope and Courage

The reason I felt compelled to start a blog was for two reasons: I wanted to put out in the world who I authentically was, my real self. And I wanted families to know they are not alone in their struggles.

Every Christmas season, I would send our Christmas cards to friends and family far and wide. My glowing children would be beaming on the front of a picture-perfect card, sending merry wishes and holiday hopes. This one snap shot of our life was not accurate, and I felt like I was perpetrating a cover up about what our insane life is really like on a daily basis. Yes, once in a while, our life is picture-perfect. For one millisecond here or there. For instance, last night Ben and Jonah were doing their funniest Michael Jackson impressions, with a "Ben and Jonah twist." It was hilarious. I couldn't stop cracking up. They were doing this as Ella was carefully putting her last ornament on the tree. Ella, who begged to dye the tips of her hair pink yesterday (To be like an American Girl doll she adores. Of course I couldn't refuse because how cute is that?) and looked so beautiful, thoughtfully hanging her last ornament. But most of the time it is fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants-total-chaos. I love holiday cards for the same reason I love Facebook: You can see a snapshot of what life might be like if you lived in a movie. These aren't real life moments, these are "What We Could Be Like If Everyone Cooperated And Took A Shower And Smiled At Exactly The Same Time And Didn't Try To Kill Each Other For A Split Second" pictures of our lives.

When I was young, we lived in Africa. In pretty much the bush of Africa. I grew up with extreme poverty all around me. While I had all of my needs met, African children all around me did not always have their basic needs provided for. I have always felt a sort of world consciousness. I remember being very young and crying myself to sleep many nights because I felt the weight of the world's grief and need on my shoulders. I could feel the sorrow, the unfairness, the need of those less fortunate. I still feel that weight. As idealistic and naive as it sounds, I wish I could help the entire world fix all our problems. Hunger, poverty, violence, war, loss, illness...I wish I could fix it all. I often feel powerless and insignificant in such a big, needy world. What can I do alone? Silly naive me, I can't fix the world's hurts.

But what if I could? Just one person at a time, just little by little. I won't be able to fix all the world's wounds, but I can always strive to help in any way I can. I was reminded of this over the weekend.

We have several family members who are very ill. One of these family members reached out to me, and I was so honored and humbled to be someone that she wanted to support her. There isn't much I can do to actually help her, except just keep letting her know I understand a smidgen of what she is going through. And that I am always here for her. And how I love her. And remind her how many many people all around the world are sending their healing energy and love to her family.

I started thinking about all the people who have reached out to me from far and wide since I started my blog. It's pretty incredible! I am constantly amazed, humbled, and honored to be able to share our story with people just so that they know they are not alone in their struggles. Just so they know that you can hang on to hope even in the darkest times. Old friends, new friends, people I haven't seen or spoken to in 30 years, people I saw yesterday--they all have a yearning to connect and to know they are not alone in this Crazy we call life. If I can make even just one person feel a small bit more understood or comfortable, I'm changing the world. I am always taken aback when someone says they read my blog, or were touched by what I wrote, or the same thing happened to them. I am honored and humbled. And I just feel love. I know, naive and idealistic. But that's just me. It's the way I've always been and will be until I'm a hundred and two. (I may become bitter and grumpy when I reach 103. Just warning you all.) 

When you reach out to me, it takes courage. And it helps me remember I am not alone either. My soul feels the worries of those around me who struggle, and those far away in third world countries who struggle. But my heart feels enormous bursts of love and gratitude for everyone who touches my life. I am thankful and blessed by every single person who crosses my path each day.

A friend remarked the other day "You just love everyone, don't you?" I stopped for a second to consider, because I never thought about that before. But then I said yes! Yes I do! Ok, some people irritate the crap out of me, I admit it. Putzy drivers, mean people, people who don't understand my kids, ventriloquists...but most everyone else I do love. The world needs more love.

Alex bought me a sweater this weekend that says "Let your love shine." That is totally my motto. When I saw that sweater, I knew I'd just have to wear it every day for the rest of my life. When I'm 104, you can bury me in it. It'll be threadbare, but that's ok. 

In my old age, I've realized it's ok to be who I am. It's ok to be idealistic and naive. Because isn't the world better served by love than by cynicism? I never told anyone that I used to cry because I can physically feel the sadness of the world. I haven't told anyone that sometimes I cry because I can feel the fear and stress of family members and friends who are sick, or struggling with special needs, or scared, or suffering. I know my tears don't do anything to help anyone. But with my tears come silent prayers for healing, wholeness, love, peace. Peace for the mamas I know who are struggling in so many ways. Peace for little ones who are sick or have disabilities. My tears and prayers are a deep yearning for healing in the world. 

Sometimes all I can do is be here for someone. To let them know I understand, and they are not alone. Sometimes all I can do is hold them in my heart and love them. Tragedy happens to us all, it happens every day all around the world. But you can't be defined by tragedy. You must be defined by the hope and courage that carry you through the tragedy. Sometimes hope and courage come easy. Other times you have to claw and cling to any shred of hope and courage you can find, and fight with all your might to hang on. But at least you're still hanging on. It may not be pretty and Christmas-card-worthy, but you're hanging on to hope and courage however you can, and that's what is important.

Here's to being naive and idealistic and loving everyone and healing the world one small act of kindness at a time. It's just the way I roll. 

At least until I'm 102.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Ella & Arnold"

I love kids. They are so perfectly, endearingly fresh and funny and adorable. I just want to squeeze them and make them feel how much I adore them.

Last week was my sweet hubby's birthday. He had to work all night the night before his birthday, got three hours of sleep, then worked all day from home. What a way to start a new year. I had an insane day. Yes, part of it was awesome- I got my hair done, which is a major production these days since my darlings are giving me more and more grays. AND since my hair has finally stopped falling out (For the past three months it fell out in clumps because of my tick and mold illnesses. My doctor assured me it was just a phase and it would end and I would not go bald. I seriously doubted him for a while.), now I have all these funky fuzzies that my hair artist (she is truly gifted) had to figure out how to deal with. We decided on bangs to hide the funky fuzzies. So anyway, that was a great appointment, but takes quite a bit of my day.

Then I had to pick up Ella and Ben a little early from school and take them to get their orthotics fitted. When we got there, the doctor asked if the kids had gotten their new shoes. Um, no...he said the orthotics wouldn't fit in their current shoes because they were almost too small as it is. SO, we dashed just around the corner to Target and hustled little, and not-so-little, feet into shoes as quickly as we could so we could go back to the doctor and still get the orthotics fitted. It was pretty comical. I've never seen Ella and Ben run so fast. They got new shoes- completely unexpected and totally exciting- and new orthotics. They knew they had to hustle!

We got home just in time for me to switch out kids and take Jonah to OT. Ella had a meltdown. In true Ella fashion, she cried and freaked out because she couldn't decide if she wanted to stay home with Daddy and go to swimming lessons, or come with Mama and be bored at Jonah's appointment. Finally I convinced her to stay home. 

After Jonah's appointment, we came home to find only Ella, and not Aidan, ready for swimming lessons, and still in the driveway, when they should have already been at the fitness center. Argh! Alex was exhausted, but willing to cart Ella to her lesson. 

Ben has a Thing about birthdays. Especially family ones. He MUST go to a store and pick out a card for the Birthday Person, a small present, wrapping materials, and possibly their favorite candy. Every time there's a family birthday, I forget Ben's Birthday Thing. And always, always, the day of the birthday, Ben freaks out because he hasn't gotten his Thing for the birthday person. And always, we're running to Walgreens at a very inconvenient time to satisfy Ben and his generous need to get a Birthday Thing. He is so thoughtful and kind. I love that he HAS to get something for the birthday person. So after Ella and Dad left for swimming, I took Ben to Walgreens to get his special things for Dad. He goes through all the aisles, looking for the perfect card, the perfect gift, the perfect wrapping paper. And the perfect 3 Musketeers Bar- because that's Dad's favorite. Ben has a little OCD, in case you weren't aware (I say 'little' sarcastically), so this process takes quite a bit of time. Each candy bar must be carefully inspected to make sure it is up to Ben's standards of quality. Most are not. 

Eventually, we made it home. I felt sorry for Alex, having had to work so much the day and night before his birthday, and then also on his birthday. I firmly believe in Birthday Magic. No matter how old you are, birthdays should have at least some brief moments of magic. So Ben and I scurried around to make the house- that was FAR from magical- clean, make frosting, frost and candle the cake, wrap presents, and sign cards in the 15 minutes before Dad and Ella got home from swimming lessons. During this frantic race for Birthday Magic, I called to Aidan who was upstairs on the computer. Playing Minecraft. As usual. I told him Daddy would be home in 10 minutes and he needed to come downstairs and help us get ready! His fingers flew off the computer and he got downstairs faster than he's ever stopped a game. He asked if Daddy was home. Nope, 10 minutes. He exclaimed "OK! I'm going to HIDE!"

I don't know what my childrens' fascination with hiding is. They've always loved hiding gifts, goodies, treats, people...I think they love discovering unexpected goodness. The morning after Halloween, Ella strangely went downstairs all by herself. I thought for sure she'd be down there stuffing her face with candy, so I went down shortly after I heard her shuffling around. I found a trail of lollipops all the way from the front door half way around the whole first floor. Ella looked at me sheepishly as I caught her with her hand inside the cereal box. She grinned and explained that she was hiding treasures all around so that when people found them they would be surprised and happy! She put one in the fridge. I found a treasure on top of the toilet. I found another one in that box of cereal two days later- when I had forgotten Ella had done this and when the next kiddo wanted Cheerios. It did make me surprised and happy! I remembered the joy with which Ella hid all her tiny treasures to make us all happy. I keep finding them in odd places, even weeks later. Love that kid.

So Aidan was hiding for Daddy. After about 3 minutes, I hear a muffled "Is he here yet?" Nope. 7 more minutes. Aidan decided he couldn't stay hidden for that length of time, so he popped back out. He proceeded to spend the next 9 minutes- because Daddy was late- rushing around from room to room, watching to see if the passing cars were Daddy's car. He would yell "I SEE ONE! I SEE ONE! IT MIGHT BE DAD.....nope. it's not dad....I SEE ONE! I SEE ONE!!" Cracked me up. 

Finally it was Dad's car, and Aidan flew to hide in another room. As Daddy and Ella came in the house, Aidan blew open the door to the room he had been hiding in and yelled "Happy Birthday, Daddy!!!" Now that was Birthday Magic.

We sang and lit candles. We had cake and presents and cards. When I say "we" had presents, I mean Ella opened them all as Alex supervised. It was a fun way to end our crazy day. Birthday Magic was achieved.

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The other night I was driving the Mama Taxi around with Aidan and Ella after therapies. They were happily chatting in the backseat. I was thinking about a million Mama Things. Slowly, my attention was drawn to what my little ones were talking about. I realized Aidan had an old phone out. He had it turned so he was recording his sister and himself. He was doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression. Ella was doing her best Ella impression. It was another episode of "The Ella and Arnold Show." Aidan loves to talk like Arnold. He repeats all these lines from movies, and then inserts his own comments in Arnold Speak. It's so hilarious to hear this skinny little boy talking like a big strong macho Austrian man.

Ella and Aidan have these moments where they 'find' each other again. When they were little and Aidan would go to preschool, he would come home in the afternoon and he and Ella would play together for hours. They have always gotten along so well. They crack each other up; they have the same sense of humor. Ella can play "boy" games with the best of them, and Aidan is intrigued with "girl" games. They make the cutest pair. 

As they have gotten older, Aidan and Ella spend less time together. They have their own friends, their own interests, their own activities. Which is a good thing, part of getting older. But once in a while, they 'find' each other again, and it's so fun for me to listen to them when that happens. They are like two little peas in a pod, laughing and hooting and carrying on like wild children. They get into their own little world where nothing else matters except the two of them. Love it.

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The other day before school, I said something and Jonah responded "Mom! That's assititis!" 

Um, what now??

He said "You know, assititis, like you said yesterday."

Ohhhh, asinine. He had been talking about something and I had replied that it was asinine!!

"Assititis" cracked me up all day, every time I thought about it. What cracked me up even more was then Alex, Ben and Jonah and I kept thinking of more hilarious words. Like if you fart and poop, it's a pooart. And a sneeze and a tinkle is a sninkle. The boys are usually in pretty cranky, irritable, angry moods in the mornings before school, due to the anxiety they feel about the impending day. But that morning was awesome. I had them rolling on the floor with my funny word combos before they hit the bus. It was great to see them laughing together and having fun.

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"Don't put a worm on the table!" are the words that came out of my mouth the other day when Ella found a pet worm in the backyard. It was another afternoon where Ella and Aidan had 'found' each other and were fully entranced with finding wildlife in the backyard. They both love rocks, and they often bring in handfuls from outside. They present their dirty, cold rocks to me with sticky open hands, their chests puffed with pride at the bounty of their treasures. So I'm accustomed to the kitchen being filled with dirt and rocks and pebbles, leaves, grass, etc, after my darlings have been excavating outside. But I draw the line at worms. And other backyard critters that belong underground. If you have a container for said worm, fine. You may keep it as a pet and feed it grass and hope it lives while you examine it with wonder before freeing it back into the garden. But please don't put it on my kitchen table! I assumed this rule was quite understood, but Ella sincerely was confused as to why I didn't want worms on the table! Apparently I have not been crystal clear about Worm Rules. We revisited the rules about backyard critters having to be contained before bringing them into the house. Filthy rocks, fine. Backyard critters- they need containers.

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My twins have always been cuddlebugs. The first time I saw them snuggling together, they were days old, in Ben's NICU incubator. The nurses said that they weren't doing well, so they put the little boys together so they could draw comfort from each other. The boys each had cords and tubes and bands and wires attached to them, so the nurses had to carefully organize all of that for two babies to snuggle. It was pretty funny, because after a while of snuggling and gaining strength from each other, Ben started hollering. His little body went straight and tense and he screamed. Jonah looked around as if to say "Really? I come over here to hug and snuggle you, and you're yelling at me?? See what I've had to put up with all my life?"

When we brought our micro-preemies home from the NICU, they slept together in one crib. As babies, the boys often spent time in one crib together. As little boys, I would find Ben and Jonah snuggled in one of their toddler beds together. Not only did they spend most waking moments in each other's presence, they also sought out their brother in moments when they needed comfort or amusement. Alex and I always have said it's too bad Ella and Aidan don't have a twin. Having a twin is a beautiful thing.

Periodically as the boys have gotten older, they still snuggle. I'll come downstairs in the morning and find both boys squished into the corner of the couch, snuggled up, watching TV together. They always have this look like it's completely natural to be squished up, side by side. Like this is the way life is supposed to be. And for them, it is. They have been together since the moment they came into existence. 

Now that the boys are teenagers, you might think they would be less willing to snuggle with each other. And while they do spend most of their days apart, there are times when they still need that physical twin bond. The other night, Alex was putting Jonah back to bed in the middle of the night. Jonah said "I need Ben. I just want a Ben Hug." They sometimes will snuggle in one of their beds before they get up for school. It's the sweetest thing to hear them say "Goodnight, Jonah. Love you." "Goodnight, Ben. Love you too." Yes, they can be each other's very worst enemies. But they also have this bond that will never be broken because they were given life at the very same time. Being a witness to their miracle of twin-ness is a beautiful thing. 

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Kids. Aren't they funny? So precious, fragile, their childhood so fleeting. I love these little things that make them so endearing.                                           


"Let It Go"

This week, our kids have learned the word "concussion" and what that means. Ella was playing at a friend's house, when a swing bashed her in the head. She had a HUGE HUGE bump on her forehead, a small bump on the side of her forehead, and a scrape on the bridge of her nose. She was inconsolable. I worried about a concussion. I put ice on her head and made her lay with me and be still. She wanted to play with friends again after she recovered a little bit. I invited her friends in to play with Ella, and made Ella lie down while they played. At dinner that night, I noticed Ella's pupils were very dilated. I wondered again about a concussion. But I had heard that if you have a concussion, the things to worry about are passing out, vomiting, or sleeping too much. And acting very weird. Ella wasn't doing any of those things, so I just watched her very closely, like I thought you were supposed to do. I checked on her frequently that night. She had a headache for a couple days, and was extremely emotional and anxious. She cried for like 3 days straight. She's always emotional, but wow, this was bad. The next day her pupils were still dilated, and she was a sobbing mess. But I thought since she was overall physically ok, I should make her go to school. It completely broke my heart to peel her body off of mine and stick her on the bus, tears rolling down her sweet little cheeks. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. 

I was totally eaten alive by guilt for the next week because of that decision. 

The teacher emailed me to let me know Ella was doing ok that day, although she was more emotional than ever. The social worker also checked on her.

Ella had OT for her reflex integration. The therapist made a comment that Ella's eyes were dilated. I said I know! Do you think that's a sign of a concussion? She said she would call the doctor to be sure. I called on my way out of her office, and by the time we got home, I had an appointment for Ella right away. We zipped over to the doctor's office. I was worried. The doctor did an extremely thorough check of Ella from head to toe, inside her eyeballs, how she moved, etc. He asked a million questions. And then confirmed that yes, she does have a concussion. He explained that the first 48 hours are the most critical after getting a concussion, and that you shouldn't do any physical or brain activity during that time in case you have hemorrhaging in your brain. I had sent Ella to swimming lessons and school, and her brain could have bled into her spinal column. Ohh, the Mommy Guilt.

The doctor said Ella couldn't go to school until she was doing better. No sports until she has had two headache-free days. Limited brain activity- not too much TV, electronics of any kind, reading, singing, art...pretty much she is supposed to lay down and just breathe until she feels better.

I now recognized that Ella's spike in emotionality and anxiety had been due to her brain being jiggled around in her skull. I felt terrible about how I had made her go to school. I know, I didn't know any better and thought I was doing the right thing, but that doesn't matter when you're in the midst of a Mommy Guilt Episode. I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and twisted my heart until I couldn't breathe. Our OT said that it was actually me who figured out Ella had a concussion, because if I hadn't noticed her pupils, I wouldn't have known this was something abnormal for Ella when the OT commented on them. She made me feel a little better. But not totally. Because Mommy Guilt is so overwhelmingly powerful. And when you could have caused harm to your child because of your own ignorance, ouch. It still stings.

There have been changes in Ella since her concussion last week. She is afraid to walk down the sidewalk to a friend's house. She used to do that all the time without giving it a second thought. She is even more afraid of going to school, of being away from me. She cries every night about having to go to school the next day. She can't make decisions. She says she wants to do something but she doesn't want to do something. She can't make up her mind about anything. 

But now that I know that this is all symptoms of a concussion, I'm much more prepared to deal with it, and much more patient. I know nothing I say will heal Ella's anxiety about school. So I just hug her and hold her tight and tell her that I promise everything will start to get better and be ok. 

Jonah is so intuitive. He said the other night that he thinks the reason Ella cries so much about leaving me is that she is afraid of being hurt. She feels like I can protect her from all the bad things in the world. She feels like she needs me in order to be safe. That's why she wants to be with me all the time.

Wow. This kid. He is amazing. So sensitive and brilliant. I said yes, I was thinking the same thing about Ella. I told Jonah how smart and intuitive he is. How much I love him and admire him for the person he is. He has such compassion for those around him who are hurting.

This week, Ella stayed home one day from school. Yesterday she went for a half day. Today she is there almost the whole day, and hopefully the entire day tomorrow. But no dance. No swimming lessons. No therapies. I'm obsessed with Ella's noggin. I make her wear her helmet every time she even puts a toe on something with wheels. I make her not jump. No cartwheels, please. No, no summersaults. Please run carefully. Can we just leave her helmet on 24 hours a day? She can sleep with it on, right? She's a little annoyed with me at this point. But she has learned how to use this whole thing to her advantage: "Well, technically, I have a concussion, so..." i need more toys, or i can't go to school, or i want ice cream, or i need a pet unicorn.

It's so frightening to me how fragile my children's lives are. In the past few weeks, Ella has had two major traumas- a dog bite and then a concussion. If anything had gone a tiny bit differently in either of those situations, she could have been a whole lot worse off. I could be writing a totally different kind of blog today. I didn't realize how easy it is to get a concussion. I didn't know you should always go to the doctor when you suspect a concussion, it's not just about watching closely. I didn't know last week, but I do this week, which is making my Mommy Guilt soar. Alex suggested I be like Elsa and "Let It Go." Our OT said she seconds that idea. I'm trying. It's just amazing to me how a split second can change the course of your minutes, days, life. I send my kiddos out into the world every day- well, most days; they're home sick so much that sometimes I think they'll never make it back to the world- praying for their safe return. My mom reminded me that I can't be everywhere my kids are all the time. I responded "Why not??" It's hard to be a parent and "Let It Go."

Just be careful with those little noggins out there in the great big world. I think I'm going to make Ella wear a helmet every time she leaves the house, not ever go to a friend's house that has a swing or a dog, and follow that child everywhere. Actually, she would enjoy that last part. So maybe I should rethink that. But the helmet idea is a keeper.

So if you see a tiny little blond girl running around the neighborhood, or walking down the hallway at school, or in the grocery store, and she is wrapped in bubble wrap from noggin to toe, and wearing a beautiful Elsa tiara bike helmet, that's my girl. No judgement, people. Just trying to protect my baby from the big, bad world that keeps hurting her. You'd be a little neurotic too if the world kept causing physical damage to your baby. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Broken Angel Wings

Our Halloween went just as expected- typical and amusing. After all the prep to get Ella's costume, makeup, and hair just right, Alex was out trick or treating with Ella and Aidan for about 7 minutes before he texted me and said Ella had decided to take her witch costume off. Fabulous. About 9 minutes after that, the threesome came home- Aidan was done. He was over trick or treating. It was tiring and soggy and he didn't care that he didn't have much candy in his limp pillow case. Ella tried to go back out with friends but her anxiety got the best of her and she came right home.

Before he went to do Big Guy Things, Ben sat on the front porch, candy bowl in lap, waiting for tiny treaters. After a long time without any treaters, I said "Ben! Where are all the trick or treaters?" He replied "Probably at better houses than ours. I mean, we're handing out TATTOOS, Mom." What's wrong with that? Tattoos are allergy-friendly! There were also spider rings, pencils, and candy in the bowl. But Ben did not like my choice of Halloween offerings. 

Ben and Jonah got to go to a Halloween party and trick or treat with their Big Guy Friends. Jonah called about an hour before I was supposed to pick the boys up from their party. I thought here we go, they want to come home early because of anxiety. But NO! They wanted to stay a half hour longer! Woohoo! I didn't care how late they got home, because they were asking to do something away from home for longer. That was big. So I said yes. And then regretted my sleep deprivation the next morning.

When the boys got home from their party, they commenced the Annual Candy Swap. They all get out their candy and divide it up: Jonah and Aidan's piles- without nuts, Mom's pile- all candy that contains peanut butter, Ben and Ella's piles- anything and everything that has sugar in it, and Dad's pile- whatever is left over. Ben yelled at me for "scavenging" in his pile for peanut butter candy. I patiently explained the rule: Since I grew him in my body for 29 weeks, and he has given me many many gray hairs since then, he is required to hand over almost all his peanut butter candy to me. He claimed temporary insanity and forked over the Reese's.

We made it through yet another Halloween without too many problems. Good times.

Want to hear about something totally magical? I took all the kids to see our developmental optometrist for a check up. The doctor checked to see how the kids' special glasses are moving their brains closer to functioning more effectively. She said Ben needs a different lens for his left eye to balance his eyes out. Aidan needs totally different lenses. She said the first pair he's had are called a wedge. Because Aidan's brain and body were so tense, she used this wedge lens to crack open the door to his brain and let a little relaxation in, in the form of these lenses that help Aidan process the world better. Now his brain is much more relaxed when it comes to visual processing, so now the doctor can put different lenses on him that his brain will accept and learn from! Crazy. 

After working with Jonah for a bit, the doctor stood back and announced that for Jonah, the problem is processing. She asked him to tell her four words that start with the sound "g." He said "The letter g?" She said no, the sound "g." He struggled but found four words. Then she asked Jonah to tell her four words that start with the letter "k." For the life of him, he couldn't do it. He sat there for about 10 minutes, silent, giggling because he was embarrassed that he couldn't think of any words. He finally did come up with some. The doctor said what will help Jonah is vision therapy that addresses processing. And luckily, the clinic is setting up virtual therapy that Jonah can do at home on the computer! So we don't have to squeeze any other appointments into our already-crammed schedule. Hurray for Mama!

Next Miss Ella got in the doctor's chair. She pulled her legs up into "crisscross" position. The doctor did some tests on her. Ella did perfect. Then the doctor asked her to uncross her legs and sit like she has to at school. Ella failed all the tests the doctor gave her-- the SAME tests she had just aced!! I was floored. I love this magical doctor. She is pure magic. She said Ella's problem is not her eyeballs, it's her muscles and reflexes. She needs reflex integration therapy, and after that may not even need her glasses at all. What?!? Seriously? Crazy. I told the doctor that Ben and Jonah are both doing reflex integration therapy- MNRI. The doctor personally knows the doctor who 'invented' MNRI, so she said that is exactly what Ella needs also. The doctor said that the testing she does with people's brains, nervous systems, bodies, etc, is only being done by her and a handful of doctors in Europe. I just can't ever understand this. Why, when a therapy or solution is so obviously valid and true and helpful, why don't more doctors do it? Why doesn't insurance cover it? It's ridiculous. 

So we've added Ella to the MNRI group. She's getting OT twice a week now, as well as counseling, speech, and PT. Ben and Jonah get OT once a week. Aidan gets counseling and speech. Ella and Ben get their orthotics tomorrow. Jonah and Aidan go in a couple weeks for their orthotic appointment. We see the psychiatrist next week to talk about three of the kids' meds. Sometimes I feel like I need to stop and catch my breath, but there's no time! There's only more appointments!

Speaking of my littlest angel, I don't know what about this life has broken her beautiful, iridescent angel wings. She is wracked with Anxiety again. She's falling apart. It may have gotten worse because of the dog bite she suffered a couple weeks ago, but regardless of the 'why,' it's all-consuming. She sobs when she has to go to school. She worries and protests if she has to go in to therapies by herself. Her dance teacher has made an exception for me to sit in the classroom so that Ella will actually agree to dance. She is back to sleeping as close to me as she can physically get every night. My poor angel. I don't know how to cure Anxiety. If I did, many of my children would feel a whole lot better. It breaks my heart that I don't know how to fix this for them. 

The other night, Ella was crying about going to school the next day. Finally, she said "I'm weird." I asked why she said that. She explained that no one else in her class cries because they miss their moms, and she does, so she is weird. Dagger to my already-fragile Mama Heart. Sometimes I just want to gather my child tenderly in my arms and cry with them and not ever let go. Why isn't that a Thing that Mama's can do? 

Sorry, I know you're 47 years old, kid, but I'm not ever letting go of you. 

We talked about how lots of kids feel like Ella does, some just don't cry at school because they can hold it in. Ella said she's weird because if I leave her at a friend's house to run an errand, she cries there too. I told her that it's ok to be sad when you miss your Mama. It's ok to cry. But it's also ok to be ok, and have fun when you're not with your Mama. I told her how lots of kids have this problem of being sad when they're not with their Mama. In fact, look how many of those kids live right in our house! Even her big brothers sometimes have to go to their school nurse and call me to come and get them because their Anxiety is too close that day.

My pep talk didn't help her feel better. But I tried. I ended up just tenderly gathering her in my arms and letting her weep until my shirt was drenched and she fell asleep. 

It's as hard for me to peel my baby off of me and put her onto the bus as it is for her to walk up those bus steps. Kids should never know how hard life feels to their parents. 

Ella's teacher emailed me that Ella was just laughing hysterically about something in the classroom, so at least she's having moments of joy today. I'm trying to have moments of joy too. The weather is not helping- all gray and morose. Ben stepped out of the house today to go to the bus stop and asked "Why is it so blurry out here?" I said it's called fog, kid. He cracks me up.

I guess today is a day where we just keep putting one foot in front of another and get through it. Maybe someday I'll find The Fix for all those broken beautiful angel wings my babies have.