Monday, December 30, 2013

High Five for 2013!

I know a lot of people do High Five for Friday posts...and I actually genuinely enjoy reading a few. It is nice to accentuate the positive. We've had a rough, rollercoaster of a year, and I want to be able to look back and think that it was awesome instead of frustrating...because there really were lots of awesome things about 2013 when I sit down to think about it, and the awesome really does trump the crappy, stressful unemployed parts...LOL So, here we go! High Five for 2013! If I could figure out how to set up a link party, I would totally love to read some of your High Fives....I will see if I can figure that out. :)

1. Number one was a frustrating journey, but a necessary one and one that has ended up being a HUGE relief and blessing. I still have my moments of grief and despair, but that is a post for another day (and that day is coming soon, as writing about my frustrations often helps me to find clarity) What is No. 1? We are almost to the end of the diagnosis journey for figuring out what is causing Faith's delays. This journey started in a very frustrating place, and Jeff's unemployment, in an odd way, actually ended up helping to end that frustration and lead us to better help. I am grateful for Early Intervention programs, but the way that Idaho has it set up is kind of a joke, and led to many of my frustrations in the beginning. Here they were, telling me that they agreed with me, and their assessments said that something was wrong, but I wasn't getting the help I needed. Instead of one on one attention with a trained professional in all the areas she needed help, I was given a coach who had an early education degree, who met once a week with a trained professional. Our meetings were often frustrating as I felt like we weren't getting any useful information and it felt like a waste of 1 to 2 hours of my time every week... Jeff's unemployment led us to Rock Springs, WY...and the Wyoming Early Intervention program was leaps and bounds better. We were blessed to work with an AMAZING speech therapist who had been working in the field for 20 years. I felt like I'd learned something at the end of every therapy session, and while Faith's progress wasn't easily coming, the little victories were always celebrated and she did an excellent job of helping me to see the small successes we'd had.  We were on our way to working with an Occupational Therapist when life threw us another curve ball and we ended up back in Cache Valley again, but this time in Logan, UT. The Utah Early Intervention program is every bit as wonderful as the program we left in Wyoming, with the added benefit of an Autism Specialist who really knows her stuff. After going through another month of assessments, we've been able to come to the conclusion that we really, most likely, are dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder..and the best part is that they are trying to do everything they can to encourage a diagnosis and get it done quickly so we can better understand her needs and find therapies that are targeted for whatever disorder she is diagnosed with on the Autism spectrum. We will soon meet with Audiologists at the university to completely rule out hearing loss as the cause of her issues (and we've pretty much established that she can hear through other assessments. Even after she failed her first OAE exam, she passed the next we have a fairly good idea that she isn't having any issues with hearing).  We will be starting Autism classes in conjunction with therapy that will help us help her to cope in public situations with her sensory issues.  We will start speech therapy again soon, and, hopefully, a diagnosis will give us some better ideas for how to target her therapies.  I know this is not the ending of a journey, but the very beginning of a very long one...but it is the ending of this chapter of the journey and I am grateful for it. If we'd stayed in Idaho, we wouldn't have been able to get her in for a diagnosis until she was three years old!  I can't even imagine how horrible that would have been, and how frustrating. It would have meant she would have had to start preschool with no targeted education plan in place to help her and she would have ended up light years behind the other kids her age...ugh.  We are fortunate that God led us on such a roller coaster this year... the more I think about it, the more I realize that the roller coaster really was a means to finding a HUGE blessing for Faith. Here's to hoping that 2014 leads us to a definitive diagnosis and more marked progress. So far, we've learned the sign for milk, and a modified sign for juice. We are working on thank you and water...I will let you know how that works out...since it took me 6 months to teach her the sign for milk and she still doesn't get the sign for juice right 75% of the time..

2.  We got to spend an awesome year discovering "Silly Phillie"...seriously, the kid is a card! We started the year with "the Hulk"...she was perfectly sweet and wonderful...until you made her wouldn't like her when she's angry...LOL  but she has morphed into the sweetest little cherub chub with the sweetest mischievous smile on the planet.  We started to meet "Silly Phillie" around her 6 months old mark when daddy decided, for a laugh, to put both girls in the same crib to see how they would react...she responded with an emphatic "GET OUT!" and has been surprising us with her charm and silliness, non- stop ever since. She has since become a master at "The Cosby", a new dance craze that will sweep the nation (anyone who has watched the opening sequence of "The Cosby Show" as a kid will get that reference, if you don't, look it up on Youtube... she dances like Bill Cosby and its HI-larious!)  She has also become a polite little thief. If you have anything that she wants, she has become a master of smiling her little mischievous grin, sweetly saying "Tankooo (thank you)" and ripping it out of your hands...Her new favorite game is also to hand you something, have you ask if she wants it back, and then she says "Tankooo" as she takes it away...then she repeats it....for 45 minutes...she thinks its great...mommy thinks she never thought she would be sick of hearing someone say thank you...LOL.    She also says the most random phrases at the most random times and shocks us with her ability to grasp language...for example she randomly as "Where we goin'?"  as we're walking out to the car...she has learned how to say "no" (something I know I will regret in the coming months), and "hungee (hungry)".   She also loves anything fluffy, cuddly and sparkly. Jeff looks at her and thinks that she will be a tom boy...but the girl loves sequins and sparkles more than anything on the planet...she is also a GREAT shopping buddy. Nothing makes her happier than pulling things she likes into the cart and saying how "pitty (pretty)" they are.   Good luck parting her from her "pitty" things...she still hulks out better than the best of them... 2014 will be the year of changes for our "Silly Phillie"...we have started to see that she really is kind of spoiled. For example, she didn't start walking until a month ago, but not because she couldn't, she refused to walk because, like the princess she is, she prefers to be carried.  Jeff finally cured her of her inability to walk by forcing her to hold his hand and walk almost every time we went somewhere as a family...she quickly decided she would rather be able to walk on her own than have dad drag her everywhere.  Fortunately, in spite of being kind of spoiled, she has started to want to be a little helper...and hopefully this will come in handy come June/July...which leads us to No. 3...

3.  We found out that baby #3, lovingly deemed "gummy bear", is on his/her way.  I will share that there were months of wondering if we'd be able to have a #3.  I shared a few years ago that I was diagnosed in high school with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) and had been told that I would likely never have children, and if I did, it would be a miracle.  Around Phillie's 5-6 month mark, I started feeling like someone was missing...I know...its crazy. I still had an infant in the house... but I couldn't help the feeling...and every time I tried to push it away, it only got stronger. After talking to Jeff, I found he'd been feeling similarly. When we coupled that with the issues I'd been experiencing with birth control pills (they were making me super sick, moody, and tired, and I was on a low dose pill) we decided we would just stop preventing and let God lead us.  Well...after 9 months of "not preventing", 3 months in a row where we thought I was pregnant, only to have negative tests, the missed period finally showing up 3-4 weeks late, and tears...I was beginning to fear and think that perhaps this was PCOS rearing its ugly head and that the two girls would be it for us biologically. This broke my heart because I truly felt (and still feel) that there were more children that were meant for our family. I had consigned myself to the fact that it just wasn't going to happen...and still cried about it daily when I was alone behind closed doors. In early October, my period was late again, and I was certain it was going to be another false alarm, so I refused to take a test for weeks. I couldn't handle the heartbreak of another negative test, and I just didn't want to go there...Finally, at the end of the month, we were preparing for the move back to Logan and I realized that if I was pregnant, I didn't want to do something stupid like try to lift a super heavy box on my own and hurt the baby, so I relented and took the test. Because I'd had such a rocky road getting pregnant, I was even more paranoid about telling anyone until we had been to the doctor and were close to the 12 week mark. I couldn't bear the thought of announcing it and having something go wrong. I finally announced it at the 11 week mark after we'd had several meetings with the doctor (because we found out that I was diabetic early on, he's been monitoring me closely), and I'd been reassured a TON that everything was fine. I am hopeful that 2014 will bring us another healthy, sweet baby to join the Nielson clan.

4. We got to move back to Cache Valley.  I was so bummed when we had to leave Preston to move to Rock Springs, but I was even more torn when we were leaving Rock Springs to come back to Cache Valley. I had my "safety net" there. I had lots of friendships that I'd developed, I also had therapies in place for Faith along with referrals to see specialists to get her diagnoses was a tough, tough call.  While I do miss my friends in Rock Springs terribly, and still kind of feel like a hermit here in Logan, I am glad to be back close to family again, and back in the beautiful valley that I love so much. While Logan is getting bigger, there is still a magic that surrounds this place. The mountains that surround it constantly amaze me with their beauty. Beyond that, my husband is FINALLY once again happy with his job.  He was so bummed and lost when he was laid off at Boomerang. Even though he wasn't doing what he was hired to do (yet) he liked waking up to go to work every morning. While I loved Rock Springs, I didn't love that my husband was cranky, and miserable every day. He hated getting up for work, he hated going to work, and he didn't have enough time to rest in between shifts to let the day wear off and be geared up to go back again. It was the last straw when they continued to refuse to put him on payroll, and the offer for his current job came at just the right time. He now is excited to go to work. He loves his bosses and the people he works with. He loves his job. He has time for the family (even though he is usually gone 3-5 days a week, he has time to relax and unwind when he gets home and really be present with us.) While I don't feel I've found my "niche" yet here in Logan, I definitely am more at peace knowing that my husband is happy and content. To hear him come home and say that he sees himself keeping this job for a long time is music to my ears.

5. We got to put an offer in on a house!  While we're still working out the details, and not everything is set in stone yet, we have been reassured that, barring extraordinary circumstances, we should be able to buy the house we've put an offer on and be closed by as early as January 31.  Since things aren't set in stone, I don't have pictures to show you (sorry, darlings).  I will show you pictures if and when we are closing on the house and have a set day to move in. Keep your fingers crossed for us, and, if you're the praying type, keep us in your prayers. All forms of good vibes are appreciated. It will be nice to be building equity instead of throwing our money away on rent, and it will be even nicer to have ROOM.  Our current apartment, while I'm very grateful for it, is very small for our needs (to be perfectly honest, when you consider we're a family of 4, soon to be 5, its downright teeny!)  It will be so nice to be in a place that we can spread out in, decorate however we like, and most importantly- get a dog to help with Faith's therapy goals. She really responds to animals and we've been wanting to get a dog to help her work on socialization skills and communication skills for quite some time, but we haven't  been able to because we've been renting. It will be a really big blessing to have a place of our own. We are trying to be frugal and prudent with our money, so we've opted for our first home to be a townhouse that fits WELL beneath our priceline. There is enough room for it to be a good 5-7 year home with a very low mortgage that will allow us to pay down debt and save up so that we can buy something bigger when we are more ready. It will also be a great investment property so, if we should choose to do so, we can put it up for rent and continue to have our money working for us and not for someone else.  We are really praying that everything continues to move forward like it has been. This property, and its owners, are truly an answer to our prayers. We found it, a for sale by owner situation, on a whim after being VERY unhappy with the realtor we'd been working with. I was really starting to wonder if we would find anything that we would be happy with that would fit in our price range...and the sellers were worried they would have to post the property with a realtor if they didn't start getting any notice soon. We actually contacted them and came to look at the house THE DAY they had decided that they would contact a realtor. As soon as we came, and a few hours after our visit texted them to let them know we were definitely very interested, they decided to hold off until we'd heard back from them. Here's to hoping that this really is a situation where God has guided us to one seems like it is so far, but who knows what the future will bring. For now, I am looking at it as a HUGE positive for us and have had my prayers answered as I've seen sign after sign that we're doing the right thing.

Here's to was quite the year...there were downs, but there were so many more ups! I'm excited for 2014. I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions, so I guess I'm lame and don't have anything to share with you.  I do want to pick a family theme for the year from the scriptures, so I've been working on that, and I'm hoping I can either get my own Cricut or access to one so I can make a vinyl cut out of the scripture to put on the wall in our living room in the new house. We will see how that hope plays out...LOL... More than anything, my goal for 2014 is to remain positive and do my best to encourage the rest of my family to be positive as well.  While the Lord may throw us curve balls, if 2013 has taught me anything, its that the curve balls, while crappy at the time, really do have blessings attached. You just have to be willing to bear the burden well until the blessings manifest.  If any of my hopes for the next year (Faith's diagnosis, the new house, etc.) don't work out, it is my prayer that I will continue to have faith in and find joy in the journey. Every black cloud TRULY does have a silver lining.

Hugs and loves until next time, darlings.

P.S. My morning sickness has FINALLY tapered off enough that I feel like I can start making meal plans again! (YAY!) As we need to go grocery shopping this weekend, expect a new one on Monday at the latest.  Don't expect it to include ANY crock pot meals, as I still am having MAJOR issues with using it (major issues that involve being sick all day as I smell stuff cooking in it...sad day.) but we shall find a way to eat tasty meals that don't involve a lot of demanding prep time...I have 2 toddlers and a rapidly forming baby bump..ain't nobody got time for time consuming dinners.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Today has been one of THOSE days. My girls decided to wake up shortly after daddy left for work. I am currently fighting the cold from HADES, and I really, REALLY wanted to sleep in...

Normally, I would have just left them to play in their room, but today they decided that it would be way more fun to bang on the door screaming and babbling loudly until I opened it for them. I found a familiar scene...the freshly folded clothes I'd JUST gotten back into their drawers strewn about the floor and the two of them had taken up a post sitting on top of one of the drawer bins turning on and off the lights...

TGIF!!!! That is all I can say...and with a beginning like that, you can guess that so far its been QUITE the day.

We had a meeting with an Occupational Therapist this morning to have Faith evaluated for sensory issues. She ended up watching her for about 30 minutes and how she interacted and asked me a few questions....the ones that I feel like I've answered a million times...but I also know that unless they hear it directly, it didn't necessarily get heard at all.  I do feel like she gave me some successful pointers to help Faith in the interum until she is able to complete her official evaluation.

Faith does have issues functioning in large group scenarios. She clings tightly to my legs and screams and cries until I take her out of the "scary" situation, she tries to hide somewhere quiet, or she tries to escape...and the problem with that last one is that when she escapes, because she doesn't answer to her name when she is called, it is quite difficult to locate her. She escaped nursery at church one Sunday and  I had 4 sweet sisters and a few bretheren trying to help me find her...After about 30 minutes of heart attack, she was found crouching under the water fountains... I was seriously so afraid she'd gotten out of the building, everyone was calm and reassured me that they didn't believe ANYONE in their right mind would open the door for a 2 year old to run away unattended...thank heavens for calm people because I was anything but! ...Fast forward though to the OT's suggestion. 

I had mentioned that when things seem to get loud in the house, Faith has a tendency to take her favorite toy and hide under the table until the sound dies down. She also did this at my sister's house over Thanksgiving, or, if the front door wasn't closed all the way because of kids going in and out of the house, she would try to run away out the front door. The OT suggested purchasing an indoor play tent to be used as Faith's "quiet space". She said that she would wager that if Faith had a place to escape to when she was feeling overwhelmed, she would be able to cope better in large group scenarios and that she would be less inclined to try to escape out an open door. She said we could set it up in a high traffic area, and watch to see if she has gone in or out of it. So...we're in the market for a kids' tent...2 weeks from Christmas...all the shopping is done, and we now have one more thing to buy! Oh well...I think it will be well worth the money it costs to bring us some peace of mind. 

Next week, we meet with our team of evaluators to discuss the services Faith will be receiving here in Utah. The Speech Therapist and Autism Specialist weren't around the bush and said quite frankly after their visits that I would likely be seeing much more of them. Faith does have some sensory issues, but I wonder if its enough to warrant Occupational Therapy, time and our meeting next Friday will give me a more clear answer. We also have a nurse coming before that meeting to assess Faith's health and to do a vision and hearing next week will be all craziness (but then again, its the week before wouldn't be the week before Christmas without a little bit of crazy.)  

The good news is that we will FOR SURE have insurance starting January 1...which means I can call the pediatrician and make an appointment to not only get Faith's vaccinations updated (they couldn't update them at her last well child exam because they couldn't reach the doctor's office to get an updated list of vaccinations she'd already had.) and I can ask him for a referral to see a pediatric development specialist or developmental psychologist that is here in town (I know there is one...I've been referred to them before, but we'd JUST lost our insurance at the time, so I couldn't follow through with the appointment.) There is a clinic here in town that is ALL out of pocket expenses, but considering what I've heard from friends about the clinic, it will be much more than my family can afford. Waiting until we have insurance to cover the visit with us making a co-pay is going to be the best scenario option for us.

The initial visit for this out of pocket clinic that apparently has sliding scale fees is $200...and they don't even see your child the first visit...I can't even imagine how much the rest of the testing doctor runs it and the rest of the staff are people working towards a DMD...don't get me wrong, I know people studying medicine have to learn somewhere, but if I'm going to spend that kind of money out of pocket, I'd rather spend it at a clinic with an actual doctor on the case and have a chance of my insurance covering the bulk of it...Hopefully, we can get all of this figure out soon. I know I have several family members that are frustrated with me for waiting, but you can only do so much with what you have...and right now, though I wish we did have it, we DON'T have that kind of money to spend out of pocket all at once... 

In other life news, Jeff goes out of town next weekend, and may have to work until Christmas Eve...providing his plane back doesn't get delayed, we should have him back Christmas Eve night, but if his plane gets delayed...Well, lets just say I'm REALLY worried about it... Jeff was kind enough to remind me that he'd be getting paid double time for returning home on Christmas Eve...which will help cover a lot of bills we have coming our way, but it still is nerve wracking to not be sure if he will be home for Christmas or not...however, considering that his last employer didn't give two pennies about Christmas or ANY holidays for that matter, I should just be counting my blessings and feel fortunate that he has an employer that cares and is trying to make sure he can be home.

Also, other earth shattering events (well, to me anyway)...I gave myself my first insulin shot last night. There were tears, there was a near panic attack at the thought of sticking myself with a needle...but I got through it...I can do this! These injections mean a healthier me and a healthier baby, and I can't balk at either of those two options.

Also...when I was putting her down for a nap this morning at 10 AM, Phillie actually thanked me...I laid her on the bed, she looked up at me and said, "Tankooo", and rolled over to go to sleep...I guess that's what happens when you wake up at the butt crack of dawn and realize that you are so sleepy that you can't see straight when you're one year thank your mom for naptime. (I was very grateful for her little smile as she rolled over. She was VERY happy to be safe in her bed and able to take a nap.) 

All in all, life is life...

I am learning how to navigate the world of diabetic eating. As soon as I feel like I've got more of a handle on it, I promise that there will be meal plans coming again (because I know that is why most of you bother to read my word vomit. LOL) 

As always, hugs and loves until next time, darlings.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Onward and Upward

Hello, darlings!

I am so sorry I have been silent for the last few weeks, but I have had good reason.

I have been SICK AS A DOG!

However, its the good kind of sick...the growing a tiny human being kind of sick... because of the onset of waves of nausea, I had to post-pone meal planning blogs because, lets face it, in the early stages of growing a tiny human, the last thing you want to think about is cooking...or food...or about doing anything but laying on the couch and trying not to want to die because you feel so sick.

The announcement was made Facebook official right after Thanksgiving, but I realize that I do have readers that I'm not friends with yet on Facebook (why is that again?)

I'm trying to remain upbeat and positive. Please bear with me as I get through the "yucky" part of this pregnancy and into the fun part. I promise, I will start posting meal plans again soon, its just that right now, the thought of food makes me super sick still. Since my husband has been travelling a lot for work (every week he's in a new state and home for the weekend), my girls have been living on a steady diet of mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, green beans, various fruit, and other quick fix things that I can imagine being able to stomach at the time.

My super cooking, diva goddess self shall just may take a little while longer.

There will also be some changes to the meal plans as they return, and the changes may cause me to have to return to making them sooner than I would like... The short version, my meal plans will now go to being 100% diabetic friendly. Here's why:

My blood sugar levels have been CRAZY. I had a physical in October right after I found out that I was expecting again and my A1C1 levels were on the high side of normal...high enough that the physician advised me to be checking my sugars NOW in case Gestational Diabetes set in again. Early detection means a much more comfortable pregnancy, and as I have a history with GD, I took it as sound advice and began checking immediately...only to find that my sugars were far from normal.

I finally saw my new OB here in Logan on November 26 to confirm my pregnancy and told him about my sugars being weird. He asked me to keep a chart for 2 weeks and come back and we would assess where to go from there.

Well...I did as he asked, and in spite of my best efforts to change my diet, my fasting blood sugars were never normal and I had one or two high values during the day.  At my appointment today, the doc dropped a bomb...

Since I'm not into the second trimester yet (about a week and a half shy of that 12 week mark...) chances are slim that my sugars being out of whack because of GD...based on what he's seen, he thinks I may just be straight up diabetic...and since my doctor with Phillie never did a check at 6 weeks post partum to see if my sugar levels had returned to normal (patients who are Insulin Resistant and develop GD have a 50-70% chance of remaining diabetic after pregnancy) there is a good chance that I have been diabetic since my pregnancy with Phillie and it has gone untreated.

That being said, if that is the case, I have done a lot of things intuitively to keep my sugars in check in the meantime, but, once you're growing another tiny human, all bets are off and it throws everything out of whack.

I will be starting on Insulin this week, as my dose of Metformin is already as high as they will let it be....

I am TERRIFIED of having to give myself shots, but I am working on remaining positive, and I have been reminding myself that the outcome will be a healthier me and a healthy baby. I think that outcome is worth 1 shot of insulin at night, don't you?

In other news, Jeff is LOVING his job and I am down to 5 boxes that need to be unpacked, in one more month I can start working towards getting Faith into a pediatric developmental psychologist to figure out where she is on the Autism spectrum and how to best help her, and Phillie is being her usual silly self, and talking up a storm... yes, I have a little chink in my chain of happiness called diabetes, but life is great other than that. I am truly blessed.

Thank you darlings for your positive vibes, prayers and thoughts throughout this year. They have been felt and appreciated. I love you all.

Hugs and loves until next time, darlings.