Friday, March 9, 2018

Two Weeks Later: Happy 7th Birthday!

Two weeks to the day later....Happy birthday to our 7-year-olds!

One of my favorite things to do is to click back year-by-year and see how much the kids have grown and changed. For anyone who wants to see their age progression (and so that I can easily look back in later years), here they are at age 6, age 5, age 4, age 3, age 2, and age 1. The thing that strikes me so much in looking at their photo this year is how little "baby" they have left in their faces. Even last year, there was still some left. But this year? Ack! I think we are definitely in the kid-phase no matter how much I wish I could freeze some of those early baby days.

It just goes too fast, you know?

Their 7th birthday didn't come without drama though. Abby has been dealing with a lot of anxiety lately, and it just became too overwhelming for her on their birthday weekend. I think it was the intangible change of turning 7 and not knowing what to do with it or how to handle it that put her over the edge. It was a rough couple of days with many tears to the point where she made herself throw up, she was so nervous. Next year, I'm going to try not to play up the birthday thing so much. Maybe it will go better for her. Thankfully, once the weekend ended, she adapted to her new age (I guess?) and life is better.

For the record, Caleb was also nervous about turning 7....but only because he was afraid of doing more "chores". Keep in mind that their chores have mainly consisted of putting their dirty underwear in the laundry basket, taking their dishes to the sink after meals, and picking up their toys. He is currently one of my "responsible humans in training."

Elijah and Ellie rolled with it and thought it was grand! :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

7th Birthday Interview: Elizabeth Grace

Little Ellie!

 Elizabeth Grace

So much personality packed into such a tiny little girl....tonight at dinner, she turned to us and announced that she was "born serious." Lol!! Serious, yes, but also an absolute riot! She has a strong sense of justice, a determination to be the best at what she tackles, and a love of reading chapter books, along with a hilarious personality that fills the room when she speaks up. Ellie's focus on always improving herself will be so helpful in her future. We know there are big things in front of her!

How old are you? "Six, and I'm going to turn seven!"
What makes you happy? "Unicorns"
What is your favorite animal? "Tigers" 
What is your favorite color? "Red"
What is your favorite thing to eat? "Pizza...Pepperoni Pizza" 
What is your least favorite thing to eat? "Spinach" 
What is your favorite thing to do? "Play on my tablet"

What is your favorite TV show? "Calico Critters" (this lady plays with toys on YouTube...and my kids love it. I don't get it...)
What is your favorite movie? "Frozen"
What are you really good at? "Playing Data Stream on my tablet" (it's a game on ABC Mouse)
What is your favorite song? "Cups" by Anna Kendrick from the Pitch Perfect soundtrack
What do you and your mom do together? "Go grocery shopping" 

What do you and your dad do together? "Trivia Crack"
What is your favorite book? "Actually....I don't have a favorite book?"

What is your favorite toy? "My stuffed animals" 
What do you want to be when you grow up? "There are a lot of things that I want to be. I haven't decided yet. I'm probably going to be a vet. If not, then probably an artist with [my friend] McKinley."

Sunday, February 18, 2018

7th Birthday Interview: Elijah James

Elijah is our Baby C! He *loves* being asked his birthday questions!

 Elijah James

Just looking at the difference between Elijah's birthday photo last year and his birthday photo this year...I realize how much he has changed and grown up on me. So many of his baby features have given way to this big boy look. I'm sure his new glasses (as of 6 months ago) are contributing to that! Elijah is a very tenderhearted kiddo who cares about what others think and if he is hitting the benchmark for everything. He worries often about his school work and making his teacher happy, so we are working hard on helping him be okay with where he is at....since he actually does quite well in school! His biggest struggle is just sitting still and knowing when to listen. He talks nonstop. Literally. Nonstop. So many questions and constant movement. It is exhausting. Our sweet boy doesn't realize it though, so Sean and I are refining our patience right now. haha! Elijah is all about science, all the time, and we love seeing his interests starting to bloom in a direction that makes him happy!

How old are you? "Six" (only for a few more days!)
What makes you happy? "Playing with Dad"
What is your favorite animal? "Monkeys, dogs, and science animals" 
What is your favorite color? "Green and orange"
What is your favorite thing to eat? "Italian pasta and Mexican food, which you should know already." 
What is your least favorite thing to eat? "Zucchini" 
What is your favorite thing to do? "Play Trivia Crack or Words with Friends with Daddy"

What is your favorite TV show? "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jimmy Neutron" 
What is your favorite movie? "Winnie the Pooh and The Musical Too, and Cars 1, 2, and 3" 
What are you really good at? "Somersaults"
What is your favorite song? "Jack Johnson songs"
What do you and your mom do together? "Cook"
What do you and your dad do together? "Play Trivia Crack and Words with Friends" 
What is your favorite book? "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

What is your favorite toy? "Baby Jingle, my stuffed animal, and my microscope" 
What do you want to be when you grow up? "Paleontologist"

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

7th Birthday Interview: Abigail Rose

Up 2nd....Our Abby! 

 Abigail Rose

Abby is consistently our most grateful child. It doesn't matter what the situation is or how much she wants something, she will always say "thank you" and express her genuine appreciation for what she is given even if it's not quite what she wants. It's really encouraging to talk to her on days when it feels like none of the other kids care about what we are doing for them. Parents, you know what I'm talking about here. :)  Abby works super hard in school to please her teacher and absolutely loves her friends. She feels the highs and lows of life deeply, and that comes through in dancing and in tears depending on the day and the situation. Abby is one of the most precious, loving souls and always ready to give a hug to anyone who might need one.

How old are you? "Six turning seven"
What makes you happy? "Unicorns!" 
What is your favorite animal? "Unicorns!" 
What is your favorite color? "Pink!"
What is your favorite thing to eat? "Waffles, even pancakes"
What is your least favorite thing to eat? "Spinach" (she is super picky)
What is your favorite thing to do? "Skip. Play Dragon Master. Jump Rope." (Dragon Master is a book she is reading at school)
What is your favorite TV show? "Calico Critters" (this lady plays with toys on YouTube...and my kids love it. I don't get it...)
What is your favorite movie? "Moana"
What are you really good at? "Hula Hooping!" Do you know how to hula hoop?? " I just want to say that!"
What is your favorite song? "How Far I'll Go" from Moana
What do you and your mom do together? "Eat cake together"
What do you and your dad do together? "Drink kombucha!"
What is your favorite book? "Fancy Nancy: Apples Galore" 

What is your favorite toy? "Moana barbie"
What do you want to be when you grow up? "A princess!"

Monday, February 12, 2018

7th Birthday Interview: Caleb Sean

Time for our birthday interviews! I'm a bit late getting started this year, so I'm going to have to post one every few days to get through all four kids by the time their birthday rolls around!

 Caleb Sean
Caleb is doing so well these days! While he still gets several therapies at school, he has settled into a rhythm and is transitioning from activity to activity much better than at the beginning of the school year. He reads incredibly well, although any written assignments can cause some stress and frustration as it's definitely at the bottom of his preferred activities list. One of his best talents is having a super sharp memory which means that he can recall details, sections of historical speeches, and songs weeks after he hears them. At the same time, he doesn't talk nearly as much as his brother, but when he does, it's usually pretty well thought out and direct. Thankfully he has become good at letting us know what he needs, so there isn't nearly as much guessing now when he starts to struggle (he thrives on schedules, structure, and predictable days!) As a sibling, he most certainly has an ornery streak, and has clearly spent the last few years figuring out exactly which buttons to push when it comes to his brother and sisters. He can be both the most concerned kid for another sibling's welfare and push them to the edge all in the same 5 minutes. Sometimes it's hard to keep a straight face because his sense of humor is hilarious!

How old are you? "Six" (for two more weeks!)
What makes you happy? "My BB8 headphones" (He wears headphones to block extra noise.)
What is your favorite animal? "Lions, foxes, and cats."
What is your favorite color? "All of them."
What is your favorite thing to eat? "Pancakes, waffles, mashed potatoes, tacos, burritos, hash browns, fries, chicken nuggets, and chicken tenders." 
What is your least favorite thing to eat? "Sweet potatoes and hash browns that are not in a fry shape."
What is your favorite thing to do? "Learn some good tricks and get fit."
What is your favorite TV show? "Miles from Tomorrowland and Sonic Boom."
What is your favorite movie? "Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Big Hero 6, Planes: Fire and Rescue, Cars."
What are you really good at? "Fitness tricks like stretch out."
What is your favorite song? "The Trolls Soundtrack....Hair Up."
What do you and your mom do together? "Have some fun and get a goodnight's rest"
What do you and your dad do together? "Rest and wrestle" 
What is your favorite book? "A Fancy Day in Room 1-A. It's Fancy Nancy."
What do you want to be when you grow up? "I don't know what I want to be...I just want to be a hero."
What is your favorite toy? "My puppy named 'Blue' and all my other stuffed animals."

For fun, here is Caleb dancing to the "Hair Up!" song!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Our Christmas Family Recap: So long 2017, Hello 2018!

I'm still of the old-fashioned sort to enjoy sending out Christmas greetings via snail mail. Nothing is quite like opening the mailbox to find a newsletter and a photo, in my opinion. Receiving them is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season, so I figure others might like it to? I don't know. No one has thrown the card back at me yet. haha! But because we have so many more friends than I can possibly get a card to, I thought I'd post our Christmas newsletter here as well.

We hope each of you had a very Merry Christmas and are enjoying a New Year filled with blessings!

-- Rebecca

(Special thanks to Elijah's preschool teacher, Ms. Brittany, for taking the photos in this post! When we make a friend, we try to keep them around for life!)

A Very Merry Christmas to our Friends and Family!

I’m starting to realize that maybe a Christmas newsletter is a bit old fashioned in our high-tech age, but hey…I’m okay with bucking the current trends. Christmas cards have always been a favorite part of the holiday season for me, so I’ll keep the tradition alive as long as I can!

Elijah, Abby, Ellie, and Caleb

The Kids!
The kids are 6-years-old now, and it’s hard to believe how fast the time is going. Just today, we were watching videos of them as babies, and reminiscing about the 32 bottles that we used to go through every day….and now our kids are in 1st grade!

Caleb had a few rough days this fall with adjusting to new teachers, a new schedule, and new expectations at school, but he seems to have hit his stride. Both of his teachers (regular and special needs) are such a good fit. They are patient but expect great things out of him, so they set the bar where he needs to reach for it. Even the school staff are working with Caleb this year by allowing him to go up to the front office to help with shredding paper one sheet at a time (white noise) or opening the door for visitors when he needs a break. Caleb definitely thrives on having “jobs” to do, and the whole staff seem to love and want to see him be successful. We are beyond thankful for his team at school. Caleb’s favorite things are Legos, Star Wars, Lego Star Wars, and teaching his invisible students at home how to do life. We just roll with it.

Abby has also had a bit of a rough time this fall, and was diagnosed with anxiety, social/emotional delays, and sensory integration disorder about a month ago. We are in the process of getting a 504 Educational Plan set up for her at school which will give her some accommodations to make it easier for her to function well. Thankfully, she has the best possible teacher to help her navigate life at school. Her teacher is beyond patient with her but pushes her to do hard things and give her best effort. We are very grateful for her calming, grounding influence in Abby’s life. Abby is still 110% girly girl and positively squeals with delight over dresses, glitter, unicorns, Moana, and the idea that one day she will be a princess who is a doctor. We are hoping that Prince George doesn’t mind an older woman when he comes of age.

Elijah is doing so well in school! He still gets speech therapy, but other than that he is entirely in his main classroom. Despite his speech delay, he talks non-stop. Literally, non-stop. We joke that he will be a politician, auctioneer, or motivational speaker as an adult, because he clocks so many words that it’s impossible to keep up. Little man has a lot to share with the world, that’s for sure! Elijah’s current obsession is all things science, and he is determined to be a paleontologist when he grows up (a perfect mashup of his love of dinosaurs and science). We love that he has such big aspirations! In his free time, he is always asking for paper so that he can create art and he enjoys writing his thoughts in his notebook (which we also appreciate).

Ellie is our sweet little spit-fire who is always bouncing around and making sure things happen on schedule and in the right way. She is the natural leader amongst her siblings even though she is our runt. Ellie is doing very well in school, and her teacher’s only issue with her so far has been Ellie’s tendency to socialize during the wrong part of the day. She loves her friends, loves school, loves reading chapter books, and loves pretend play.

Abby, Ellie, Rebecca, Sean, Elijah, and Caleb

The Parents!
In January, Sean switched departments at Sprint, and started a new career path in IT. He now works on…something. I’m actually still a little fuzzy on what he does, but it has something to do with supporting the website that people go through to apply for jobs at Sprint. He has been with Sprint now for 19 years, and has enjoyed the new challenge of IT. An extra bonus is that he gets to work from home two days a week, which gives us more family time since he isn’t commuting every day.

I am almost four years into teaching wellness and non-toxic solutions withYoung Living Essential Oils. Sean works the business with me on the evenings and weekends, and even the kids have gotten to the point where they pitch in and help as well! This year, we started off by winning an all-expense paid Caribbean Cruise that was charted just for Young Living members. It was amazing and most definitely one of the highlights of our married life! We also earned a promotion and were able to travel more for conferences and to teach classes. Young Living keeps us super busy, but we consider ourselves blessed to get to help thousands of people in the process. We love having this be a family affair as we get to enjoy more travel and freedom than we ever imagined possible a few short years ago. The best part of all is that our medically fragile babies have turned into very healthy 6-year-olds, and Sean and I are much healthier as well.

Each year makes us more and more grateful for the people in our lives who have helped us get to where we are today. Thank you so much for being part of the tribe of people who have prayed for our family and cheered us on as we raise our kids!

We hope your family has a very Merry Christmas!
Sean and Rebecca Ishum
Caleb, Abby, Elijah, and Ellie (age 6)

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Price of Missed Mother/Baby Bonding

“She lacked the usual mother/baby bonding.”

That was one of the entries in the evaluation form that we just went over in Abby’s 504 meeting today.

I know that. I know that the bonding didn’t happen like it *should* have happened. I remember the weeks where we couldn’t even touch her while she fought for her life in the NICU. I remember feeding babies systematically, putting each one down after their bottles were finished so that I could pick up the next baby and get them fed. I remember having to give up nursing to keep my babies from aspirating the breast milk into their lungs and drowning. I remember having babies crawl up to me to be held, but I was too busy trying to get 4 diapers changed and babies bathed, and I couldn't pick them up and snuggle for hours.

I know we didn’t get the cuddle time that we both should have had in her baby days.

I have grieved the loss of what pregnancy and motherhood should have looked like many times. People see a "cute quad family" but they don't realize the lost dreams that are often tied to it. Seeing a missing piece formally written out in official paperwork reopened every lost aspect of that first year that I’ve let heal over with time.

I feel like I failed, but I know I did the best I could given the situation I was in. Four babies and one mom. I didn’t have enough arms. I still don’t.

It’s been a rough year for Abby. She is so smart….genius level IQ…but she struggles with anxiety, social/emotional delays, and sensory integration disorder.

When she gets super anxious, her “fight or flight” response triggers, and she loses all rational. School staff have caught her fleeing the building twice this year already. Both times, they caught her after the first set of double doors, and as she was exiting the second set at the front of the school. I’m incredibly grateful to her teacher, principal, other staff, and the lunch ladies who all know that she is a flight risk. They warn each other if she’s having a rough day, and they pay attention to where she is sitting in the cafeteria to make sure she doesn’t get triggered and start running.

Today we had the first meeting to get a 504 in place at school. She needs some emotional accommodations so that she can focus better and manage the anxiety that pops up without warning. There is no predicting it. She is so social, adores people, and does amazing work at school….but the anxiety can cripple her in an instant, making it impossible to do worksheets or talk to friends.

“She lacked the usual mother/baby bonding.”

I’ll admit to crying in the meeting because I love her so much and don’t want this struggle for her. The teacher and school counselor tried to reassure me and offered to remove the sentence from her evaluation form if it would make me feel better. They weren't blaming me for anything, and made sure to clarify that it was just a collection of data on Abby and her past, but I told them to leave it in because it is part of her story.  Her story is a beautiful one of hope, frustration, love, some downright scary moments, and ultimately God's graciousness on her life. I don't like this part of her story, but I won't edit it out because it's part of what has shaped our sweet spirited little girl...the part where there wasn't enough of me to go around.

I know she is struggling, but tonight I’m struggling too. Wishing I could have done more when she was a baby. I’m heartbroken that although she doesn’t cognitively remember those days when I couldn’t hold her because I was feeding another baby or because she was too fragile…that somewhere deep in the recesses of her visceral and emotional memory, there is a mom who couldn’t meet her basic needs. 

She is one of my miracle babies, and while I wouldn’t trade any of them for the perfect version of motherhood that I thought would come my way when we decided to start a family, I can acknowledge that this quad thing means that some of my kids will struggle long term because of it. And yes, I do realize that even if I had held her constantly, she may still deal with these things, but it's hard to separate out what she didn't have from her struggles today. As a mom, I always wish I could be more for my kids. I think that's only natural.

Raising them doesn’t get easier. It just shifts into something different. Right now, our something different is helping Abby learn how to cope with the world emotionally. We will get there. It’s just another hill to climb, but we will do it together.
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