More About Kalea's Eyeballs

Today we ventured back to the Children's to meet some more friends at the vision clinic. This time Kalea did great at the vision test, if she were more patient, she might have done way better but so far on her good eye we have 20/40 vision, more than I think they were expecting. So that's great. The optologist today got a way better look at her eyes- thanks to the fact that she wears glasses and was clipping all sorts of fun little dinosaurs and animals to the bridge of her glasses- pretty clever trick if you ask me. At the end of the optologist part of the appointment Kalea had to have the dreaded dilation drops dripped into her eyes. It's a good thing Steve joined us for this appointment, he was able to hold man-handle Kalea in his lap so that her head was still and her arms were under control. Haha, but as we know from prior experience, as soon as she saw to bottle of drops she spazzed, and not just a little spazz, a full out kicking and screaming fit. As in, she almost kicked the nice optologist lady in the face before a drop even made it to her eyes! LOL So then I got to hold  grab/hug her legs while Steve and the optologist pried her eyes open enough to get the drops in. Weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth x100, I'm sure every kid that saw us come out thought something really bad had happened. We hid in the waiting area with the tv and the farmhouse, so as not to disturb the others. It's crazy how big those drops made Kalea's pupils, like MASSIVE difference from normal to that. It was all good though. Dr. Cooper is AWESOME. We couldn't have asked for a better person to treat Kalea, she was super straight forward and blunt with us about how Kalea's behaviors will affect how we treat her. Yes ladies and gentleman, someone was finally brave enough to say "There's no way in heck your very strong willed child is going to willingly participate in any of this", I knew that already, but it was nice to have a doctor not sugar coat it and say "Oh all 3yr olds are like this" because we are well aware that they aren't. That is refreshing and makes me so happy that we were referred to this specific person, she is just what my strong willed child needs. She was able to get a really great idea of what is happening with the turned eye, and was good at getting Kalea to listen and do what she was asked. Dr. Cooper is one of those kind of awkward ladies that's really smart, and at first you think kind of abrasive, but she's actually super friendly. I am a huge fan.
On that note, we now have a plan for treatment, and it's not the route we were necessarily hoping for, but it's going to be what's best for Kalea, so we're happy. We will be putting drops in Kalea's good eye to blur it's vision for the next 6wks. That will force her turned eye to straighten out a bit and to work harder/better and hopefully increase it's function. As Dr.Cooper said "She's not going to like this because she doesn't see so great out of that turned eye." When we go to the doctor in March we'll decide if patching the eye is worth it- which probably would be, but knowing Kalea it's not going to happen. So we'll probably skip that step and go straight to the surgery step to straighten the eyes and give her some depth perception. Oh yeah, new development, she has very little, if any, depth perception- which may be why she's so fearless. She can't see 3D movies?! Now I know why she's never interested in them or any kind of 3D animation/claymation etc... It is kind of nice to know we'll never have to pay extra to go see 3D movies- I guess that's a bonus, right? For now anyways. The reason they want to get the weak eye stronger is so we only have to do the surgery once, some doctors will go straight to surgery without strengthening the eye and then these little kids have to have 5-6 surgeries before they're 6yrs old. Sad. So tomorrow we begin the drops which is going to make Kalea really unhappy with us. It's also going to make her seem a little blind. She's also going to be pretty irritable, and more whiny than usual. Lovely. We are looking forward to the little bit of annoyance in exchange for her being able to see more clearly out of both eyes. Hopefully she gets used to the drops fast and doesn't put up a crazy fight every day, but I'm not holding my breathe on that one, I might wear a helmet just in case!
***Somebody asked me the other day how I'm dealing with all of this, ha, maybe this is a good time to explain some more of the "tender mercies" that I've noticed recently that have been with me for a long time. First of all, I have the knowledge that this is not the worst possible thing to happen in our life ever. In fact, I've had 3.5yrs to prep for the surgery, we were hopeful that we wouldn't need it, but definitely not surprised that it's the best option. I also have more experience with eyeball dysfunction than I remembered, in fact all this eye stuff doesn't really bother me at all. In Kindergarten- yes Kindergarten- I rode the bus to school with a little girl who had what I now know to be a "wandering eye", she just told us all that one of her eyes had "jumping beans". Cute. She had glasses and a bunch of surgeries, I remember because there would be a stretch here and there, where she wasn't on the bus because she had to stay home, etc... And she almost always had funky sunglasses with her- just in case the light started to bug her eyes. She was always talking about doctors and nurses and her surgeries, but I think that helped make it less scary for her, and now I'm realizing what a blessing those memories are for me, no need to be scared they are highly capable people. I also had another friend in Kindergarten who got stabbed in the eye with something, and a tip of whatever it was broke off in his eye, so he had to have major surgery and he wore a patch with glasses for as long as I can remember. I'm talking well into Elementary school and then he moved away and when he came back to visit in Gr.6 he was finally just wearing glasses. Anywho, it seems that in almost every stage of school I've come in contact with someone who has an "eye thing" and I think all that has just made me more comfortable with the idea of my own kids possibly needing strange prism glasses, eye patches, glasses, surgeries, etc...Things have come a long way since I was in Kindergarten, the drops that Kalea will be on have only been used for the last 20yrs, haha that made me feel old. But it's amazing how certain medical fields have advanced in just my lifetime and we have a lot of faith that those advancements are really going to benefit Kalea now. We are so grateful to be working with such knowledgeable and fun people, and are looking forward to Kalea being able to enjoy more perfect vision really soon! Wish us luck, the next few weeks are going to be an adventure I'm sure.


I Forgot to Post: Christmas Cuteness & Craziness

I'm so grateful for these 3 crazy people, or maybe they're normal and I'm crazy? Haha, anyways, Christmas morning was SO MUCH FUN this year! Every year gets better and better, but this year the kids really got it and it made me and Steve so happy. We were so caught up in things this year that we didn't really take a family picture?! I am still so sad about that, the only one that we took is so hideous of me that it's been deleted forever. Why is it that in real life everyone says to me "you look like you've lost tons of weight" which is great and a nice boost and then I get a picture taken and it's like "are people actually looking at me from the neck down???" LOL Anyways, gong show attempts all failed, so maybe we'll take one this week while it's still at least the right season.
It was fun to have Christmas be on a Sunday this year. I loved being able to focus on our Savior even more, and have the girls so excited for "Jesus' birthday!". It's amazing to think that the Son of God came to this earth as a tiny baby, and grew up into a man who could suffer everything for us, and because of Him we have the opportunity to access His atonement and repent and return to Him and our Heavenly Father, that is a gift that we love to celebrate as long and as much as possible.
I am sad that I didn't get to pay as much attention to our Christmas Program at church as I would've liked, our kids were horrible that day and it was only 1.5hrs long, not our usual 3hrs! Go figure. They've been really good every Sunday since, maybe that's our Christmas gift from them? Their only saving grace was that they looked so sweet in their Christmas dresses- again no picture this year, slacker mom.
It was fun to get to spend the morning with just the 4 of us and then go to my parents for the afternoon, so much less stressful this year. We had a great time visiting with my family and especially my brother and sister who are both away at school. The girls have been so confused when we go over and uncle Steve and aunty chelle (Michelle) aren't at Nana's anymore. All in all, a very fun-filled and successful Christmas season, only 11mths until we get to do it again!


Kalea's Eyeballs

So for the last 3yrs and 5mths since becoming a parent I have been asked on a very regular basis, "Have you noticed that Kalea's eye is um... crossed?" to which in my mind I respond "Of course not, why would a mother notice something like that, dough head?" and then in real life I respond "Yup we have, nothing we can do until she's older and can tell us if she can see stuff", pretty generic but really that's all we had at the time. Oh and sorry if you've asked me that question and now feel like I think you're dumb. I know you aren't dumb, the question just gets old really fast and I know everyone is well-meaning and that's great, my inner response is just a bit more um, abrasive than my outer.
One of Kalea's referrals from our family doctor a few weeks ago was a referral to a "children's ophthamologist" so that we could take her somewhere that was fully equipped to handle uncooperative preschoolers children. So today we had our first date at the Alberta Children's Hospital, which is a really incredible facility, go check out their website. The hospital is 100% kid friendly, the windows are huge, there's a park and a track, an indoor play area for sick kids and their siblings, and a million other awesome kid friendly things. I didn't expect to feel so happy there, but it was great. The vision clinic is on the second level at the end of a huge hallway with various other clinics along the way. Genius is the fact that in every clinic's "waiting area" there are awesome little play areas, it was a bit of a struggle to get to the end of the hallway without stopping at every single one, but we made sure we hit them all up on our way out. When we got to our check-in desk, the counter was child-height, Kalea just walked on up and rested her elbow on the desk and said "good morning" to the receptionist. It was hilarious. They called her "Miss Kalea" the whole time and I was "mom" to everyone there, they had stickers and all sorts of entertaining toys to help them check her eyes, even if she was more interested in avoiding eye contact and being 100% disobedient :) We'll blame that on the fact that we had to wake up super early to get there for our 8:30 appt...
Anyways, they got a pretty good general assessment of what's going on, and luckily they figure the vision in that eye is actually pretty good and "the eye moves really well", so that's a plus. Another plus is the fact that today was basically a "screening" day, we didn't meet the actual doctor, she's booked up a year out. I know, where's the plus in that you ask? Ahem, another answered prayer, literally while we were doing these initial tests, somebody cancelled for MONDAY!!! This is huge and will get the ball rolling so much faster for us in this area of Kalea's health, what a blessing. The orthoptist that we met with today figures that we might get away with just patching the good eye for a while, which we have been preparing for, and of course we know that could change when the ophthalmologist gets a better look with our next round of tests- including the dreaded "pupil dilation" that will give us a look at the back of the eye and the health of it. It's all very interesting stuff. Anyways, we know that we are in good hands, they even gave us some "homework" so we are moving forward with that, and now just have to worry about making sure that we prep Kalea for the eye drops on Monday... Just that alone might be traumatic enough for me to never want to show my face there again. Let's pray that she stays relatively calm while she freaks out about not being able to see...
Pretty soon this will just be a fun "party trick"!


How to Ask for What You Need

I don't even really know how to start this post, but I guess we'll just throw it out there and then it won't be just filling the space in my head that needs to be clear to manage life and it's roller coaster.
I am not the kind of person to freak out before knowing I have reason too, so in regards to the present situations that we're dealing with, I'm feeling pretty good. I thought I'd be feeling worse, because I expected that people like me who like to be in control usually find situations out of their control very hard. But I have a theory about everything and I just think it has to do with knowing how to pray and how to ask for the things that you really need. So continue reading at your own risk, it's all kind of personal and I'll try to spare details so it's not as personal, but I just thought that maybe my bits of experience might help someone who reads my little corner of the blog world.
1. Fertility & Such: I think that somehow I was under the impression that I was some weird phenom of a baby making machine, and others have thought so too. I mean I think we all assume that people who pop out babies so close together must be "Fertile Myrtle". I think I underestimated how much of my fertility is completely outside of my control. It's been just over 2yrs since we've had a baby, that's so strange for me- for Steve not so much, he's quite happy to be finished with the 2 rowdy girls that we have. But I had different plans, my own plans. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that my own plans are sometimes ridiculous. I also have a tendency to not listen when I don't like the idea. Haha. But I think I've been a bit stubborn in acknowledging the voice that's told me repeatedly that Brynlee is my last baby. And maybe I was taking it to mean that's just a "last for right now" kind of thing and maybe it's literally not, but either way, I'm coming to terms with it, slowly. Oh and the doctor can't figure me out, so don't ask me what's wrong because none of us have a clue, everything "looks normal", a clear indication of just how out of my control it is. But who knows, I could also post this and then find out I'm "with child" and you can all tell me how ridiculous I am, but just a heads up, it's a topic that I have no answers for.
*Through this one I've learned how to ask for acceptance of what is, and for the ability to acknowledge and be grateful for the blessings and benefits of His timing, because I would have never planned it this way, but it's working out perfectly for us in more ways than I can count*
2. Kalea: Somehow I was under the impression that I was fully aware of who she is, but I have recently learned that there is more to her than meets the eye, even the one that watches her all day. She surprises me quite often with the things she says, but most often with the things she does. She is sweet and is calming down so much and becoming such a "kid", it's fun to watch, and kinda sad, but mostly fun. She has a lot of "stuff" going on in her 3 year old life right now, and somehow it doesn't really seem to phase her. She's been informing me for quite a while that she needs to go to the doctor, and bless her heart, I didn't listen until I decided (stubborn me) I needed to. That was wrong, but I find myself not carrying too much guilt around, not because I don't care, but because the point isn't that I didn't do something, it's that when I did, we got what we needed, which is a blessing. 1 referral to a children's eye specialist and 1 referral to a neurologist later, I'm feeling much more comfortable.
*Through this one I've learned how to ask for things that maybe a person shouldn't or should, not the blessing that she's miraculously all better the day of the appt, but that her symptoms would exhibit themselves for our family doctor so I wouldn't have to convince him of her need for these referrals, also that I wouldn't have to wait a tedious amount of time with her because she needed to be calm for the appt. Can I just say that I have NEVER as an adult walked into my Dr.Office, checked in and then been taken right into the exam room, but it happened that day. Also, I have never been with Kalea in a Dr.Office or anywhere really where she has been so pleasant and calm while we wait or while she's being checked out, it was a miracle. And then, while we're checking out her eyes, and she's calmly sitting on my lap, her other symptoms start and the doctor can see exactly what I'm talking about. Pray for what you really need all the time.*
Through these 2 major things, I'm finding that there is so much comfort in communicating with my Heavenly Father on a regular basis, and how annoyed He must be with me when I don't. I feel that under the surface type of growth that comes with adulthood and experience, and I'm finding out that He really has to be a part of that process, or how can I really become His? I'm understanding how the Atonement of our Savior covers much more than just the daily screw-ups, but brings peace when your heart is troubled and stable ground when it feels like you can't find that foothold. I don't doubt that His hand is working miracles in our family life, I'm seeing them on a regular basis, and it's nice to know He's with us. I'm learning that there is so much joy in even the uncertainty of things, so I don't need to focus on that part because eventually it'll sort itself out. But I'm learning that all of these things would be harder to deal with without the knowledge that I have of His gospel, and in turn feel extremely blessed and grateful for it.
Thanks for reading, Christmas posts resume tomorrow!


The Day/Night Before Christmas

I was pretty good at time management this Christmas (thanks to all the party planning throughout the rest of the year), so we actually had a really nice Christmas Eve Day, mostly just me and the girls while Steve ran around on different errands. I had made a whole bunch of sugar cookies with the girls earlier in the week and so our major activity of the day was to decorate some of them. It was a lot of fun. This might actually turn out to be an age that I really really like with Kalea. She's finally calming down enough to sit and do some of the things that I have planned for her- it's refreshing! Kalea and Brynlee were equally determined to decorate their cookies unassisted and that made for some very interesting looking cookies, but I'm sure the recipients didn't mind. Oh and yes, we actually did give some of theirs away, it was pretty fun for them to see me wrapping up some of their cookies to take to our friends. Too bad upon delivery that night both kids fell right asleep, I had grand plans of standing them on friends' porches to sing Jingle Bells or Frosty the Snowman, instead I was the delivery person- not quite as fun! Oh well...
This year we spent Christmas Eve at Steve's parents' house. It was so fun to see all the cousins together and get to pig out, make gingerbread houses and enjoy some meaningful moments together. I'm sad I never got a picture of our gingerbread house though, it was so cute, and the landscaping was pretty stellar, not that I had anything to do with that... Anyways, we enjoyed the fact that spending an evening with cousins tuckers our kids out, and appreciated them falling asleep en route home that night. It made it so much easier to get them into bed, the only thing they didn't get to do was put out a plate of cookies and milk, but I did it for them later. I don't know why that's such a big deal to me, I mean, all they noticed was the half eaten cookie by the fireplace and then they fought over who got to eat it! It was a much more relaxed evening for Steve and I than it usually is. This was the first year that we didn't have any really huge last minute wrapping to do, we took care of stockings right away and we were in bed by 10:30, no kids woke up in the night, we didn't have any babies to worry about. It was AWESOME! Next post, *CHRISTMAS!
*life keeps interrupting my good intentions to post these quickly so bear with me*


The Days Before Christmas Part 3

We were extra lucky to get to have a lot of time to spend with our cousins this Christmas. I think it has to do with the fact that there are fewer nap schedules now that the kids are older and the babies are portable while they sleep. On this particular day we headed to Cross Iron to see Santa at Bass Pro and to maybe do some shopping- well we didn't get to do that part, but we saw things that we liked while we walked chased our kids down the corridors of the mall. K, can I just mention that it is way worth the long car ride to get to this mall, it is pretty much deserted every time that we venture out there, I always forget that. Anyways, it would've been nice to have cooperative kids that day, but it's probably a good thing. Another thing to love about this mall is the "kid tables" in the food court. Genius, except for the fact that at one point the kids in our posse decided to line up as many of the vacant chairs as possible, in rows, just like at church on Sundays! Pretty funny watching people try to maneuver through that obstacle with loaded trays of food and strollers, etc... Ah, but the kids were having so much fun, who were we to try and stop them? Evil laughs... Oh and just to explain, the Cinderella carriage, this was quite the experience for our kids, haha, they had never been in one of those mall rides before. Steve and I were definitely entertained by their "hit the deck" reaction when we put the money in and it started to move. It was soooooo worth the $2.

When we got home the girls had a huge amount of energy- stupid power naps on the way home. Anyways, we decided that since it was decently warm we would suit them up and go make a snowman. It's a good thing we took advantage of it while the snow lasted, we have just a few teeny tiny icy patches left now. Anywho, Kalea was hellbent on eating the snowman, she was super confused, we put it all together and she exclaimed "ICE CREAM! Let's eat him!" I mean, yeah he might've looked good enough to eat, but that doesn't mean you do it, but she did and there was no stopping her, until he fell over, and then she stomped the life out of him while Brynlee looked on in disbelief. Party. All in all it was a day well spent and we were glad that the girls went to bed early that night so we could just relax and wrap some presents and rest before our Christmas Eve festivities.


The Days Before Christmas Part 2

 It's fun to have friends our age that live so close, so when we're having a crazy day we can call them to come be crazy with us! Haha, Fern brought her two over to decorate some gingerbread men with us, and succes, we actually did what we planned to do! Kalea took decorating her gingerbread man very seriously, while Brynlee was more serious about eating all the m&ms she could find. It was a fun morning with our friends and gave me a bit of a break from chasing my 2 crazies around the house.
After a fun playdate for the kids, I got to go have a fun playdate with my family. This year we continued with the enormous task of making hundreds of chocolates to give away and to enjoy ourselves. It's a lot of work, but it's one of those traditions that we'd really miss if we didn't do it. This year we added the chocolate covered raspberries that we enjoyed so much at the reunion in Bear Lake and they were well worth it. Also, this was my first year dipping the fondant. In years past I have been the roller, but I guess this year I must've grown up enough to do the more "adult" job and as you can see above, they look awesome- I'm not partial to my own talents at all...Ha! We also got way more done having two people dipping this year, so I'm sure we'll be making way more in the upcoming years.
While on the topic, a huge shout-out to my Mom for all the work she puts into carrying on all of these traditions for us. And a big thank you to my Grandma for starting a lot of these traditions way back when her kids were growing up. It's so much easier to see the meaning behind all these things now, as an adult, than it was when I was a kid, I appreciate it in such a different way. It takes a lot of love to carry these things on and what I realize now is that maybe I just thought my Grandma was awesome because she made such good food and her house looked nice, but now I understand how Christmas was her time to bring her whole family together, share her love through her cooking and share her testimony of the Savior through all the little details that are still etched in my mind. As the years go on, I'm hoping that I can pass on these pieces of her to my own children, so they know where they came from and feel a connection to her. I have a feeling it's going to be a lot of work!


The Days Before Christmas Part 1

We have had a lot of fun with family and friends this Christmas season. Maybe part of the "nothing happens in November" lament of mine has to do with the fact that I need a month of nothing before we get bombarded with visits and last minute plans and lack of schedules and craziness! It's good on all fronts though, I have stretched myself a little more over the last month and I'm really happy with how things turned out this Christmas.
Here is our house at Christmas this year. I wanted to focus more on what Christmas is all about this year, so I simplified the mantle a bit- much to Steve's dismay- "where are the santa and the snowman?" But he still liked it, he just missed our Christmas buddies I guess! Any new stuff I got came from our new Dollarama. I have to admit, that place can be dangerous and the close proximity to my house is probably not the best for controlling my spending, however, it made it much easier to change things up without breaking the bank and we got all of our stocking stuffers & candy there this year, which also helped keep costs minimal. Our nativity was from Superstore, I hadn't had one for the kids and thought this one was decent since it's wood and it was under $10, I'm not regretting that choice at all, they played with it everyday and were so sad when I put it away. Recently I heard comments from someone about how you can't decorate your home nicely unless you have money, which I found interesting since I don't have money in the way she was talking about. So, here are some tips that I have found to be beneficial for decorating for Christmas or any holiday that you want to celebrate. All I know is that it can be expensive, but I just make it a goal to buy everything either super cheap or use 40-50% off coupons at the stores that offer the higher quality things that I want. Haha, this has created the issue that my Dad noticed when they were visiting one time,
Dad: "Allison, why do you only have that beady garland stuff on the top two thirds of the tree?"
Me: "Um, because I forgot to take my coupon and go get another strand to finish it this year"
I'm not kidding, let's hope they have the one I need next Christmas! Also, shopping after Christmas for the next year is always a good idea, for example, I would consider Crate&Barrel one of the higher end stores that I really really like, but can't justify spending much money at unless it's a necessity purchase. This year, I noticed their Christmas ornaments are super cheap after Christmas and by that I mean, I bought 8 really nice unbreakable ornaments for under $4 total for our tree next year. Anyone with small kids knows how awesome it is to find nice ornaments that their kids can't destroy, so a victory for all of us, and someday my kids will get to take some of these ornaments with them, so a small investment for the memories.
I also shop the after Christmas sales at Superstore for some of their supplies and ornaments. 14 ornaments for under $3? Um, yeah I did. Tablecloth for next year for $3? Yes. All the Christmas napkins and plates I'll need for Advent next year? $5.
I buy nothing at full price when it comes to decorating unless it's from the dollar store. Simple, and everyone that came over this year really liked it, so it must not look that cheap. I also think that if you don't have a ton of space, don't try to decorate for everything and then stress about where to put it all after. Steve and I decided the first year that we were married that until we had the space, Christmas would be the only holiday that we buy decorations for. For the most part we've stuck with that, we have one giant bin of Christmas stuff and a small rubbermaid container with some Halloween stuff from Brynlee's 1st birthday. Other than that we don't do a lot through the rest of the year, unless me and the kids do a craft and tape it to the window, or use our window crayons to draw hearts or leprechauns, etc...
I also accept hand-me-downs when people offer, even if I may not use them. Case in point, my giant wreath on the inside of our door. Steve's mom changes her decor ever few years, so when she offered the wreath form one time, I hesitated and then after thinking about it I accepted it. I really thought it was too huge for any door I might have, but I could probably do something with it eventually. I started working on that in the weeks before Brynlee was born. Then she came and the work was delayed. Then last year I realized that I had a bunch of gorgeous glass ornaments from our first year of marriage, that I couldn't put on the tree because Kalea would rip them off, so I used them in the wreath.This year I added the wired ribbon that I bought for $.50 last year, and voila! A few years later it's done and I love it and I loved that Steve went along with putting the snowflake lights where we did this year, to highlight it. I made another wreath for the other side of the door with leftover burlap and random scraps of ribbon from my sister in law's wedding in April and my own stash. It turned out okay, I dunno if I totally love it, but it served it's purpose for this year. I did add a wooden, sparkly "FALALA" to it and it looked a bit more Christmas-y but I think I'll have to play around with it some more.
Websites like Pinterest, although addictive, also have some great ideas on the cheap. That has been an invaluable resource to me in all areas, since I caved in and started using it. But really, life is only as expensive as we make it, so if we can do something super cute for super cheap I am a fan, and if I can make it myself with stuff I already have, huge bonus.
Anyways, I hope my thoughts in this area are helpful to at least one person who reads this blog. I am such a slacker I'm sure nobody does anymore! Haha, more Christmas posts to come this week!