His First Graduation

Back in April, our son Andrew began his helmet journey. I blogged about it here:

Originally, we were told he’d probably be wearing it until July. With each measurement that was taken from the beginning, his head continued to reshape itself quickly. Today, he was measured by the clinician and we were told that he would no longer need to wear it daily. Today was his Helmet Graduation!

Over the past 7 weeks, he wore the helmet 23 hours a day. In the hour that it was off he had to have a bath to wash his hair (which smelled like sweaty helmet). The helmet had to be wiped clean before it could be put back on.

In the time he has been wearing the helmet, he has become more adventurous and is standing on his own and has even taken a step or two. There have been plenty of falls over the last 7 weeks and the helmet had brought some great protection for his head. Both Sam and I realize that now that the helmet is off, the possibility of a good bump on the head is more likely. We’ve joked that the helmet saved us a few trips to the ER.

It’s actually weird to see him without the helmet for so long. We got used to seeing him in it. Now, we can actually hold him and snuggle him forehead to forehead. It’s not such a chore to kiss him on the cheek. The hugs feel closer because that “barrier” is no longer there. It’s fantastic.

Today he had his helmet graduation. When he graduates high school, his helmet and graduation certificate will be on full display at his graduation party. It will be a reminder of one of his first hurdles that he jumped over successfully. I’m proud of our little boy today!

Well Rounded Indeed!

Back – But Not 100%

Despite the few blogs I had scheduled to be published, I really only got to jump on here to blog a couple times over the past few weeks because of Covid. So I figured I would fill you in on what’s been happening …

Daddy Daughter Pirate Adventure

Prior to my Covid diagnosis, I was planning on taking Ella to a Daddy/Daughter Pirate adventure. I took the Tuesday off and worked Monday night instead. The Sunday before, I didn’t really feel great. I felt like I was getting a cold. Ella was diagnosed that Friday with a double ear infection. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to go because she was sick.

Monday I felt a bit worse and took a home Covid test. It was negative and I went to work. While at work, I just felt stuffed up. I was coughing a bit, and just achy. I went home and slept. When I woke up, I was still hoping to get to go to the Pirate adventure, however, I just felt like crap. My wife talked me into going to Urgent Care, where they swabbed me and gave me the Covid and Flu diagnosis.

It rained Monday and they called Tuesday to tell me that they had moved the pirate adventure to the next day. It didn’t matter, I wasn’t going to be able to go.

Mother’s Day

I’m glad that I planned ahead this year. So often, I wait until a couple days before to go out and get cards and presents. This year, I ordered Sam something online and had hoped to get her a few other things, but thanks to Covid, I was only able to give her the gift I ordered.

I saw this Facebook and thought it was perfect. It was a framed sign, printed on burlap that said, “My greatest blessings call me Mommy.” Under that I was able to put the kids names and birthdays. It came out better than I thought.

Because we both were in quarantine, we had to place our grocery order online and have it delivered. Because I couldn’t get her a cake, Sam ordered one and we had it after dinner. We were able to spend a little bit of time outside in the sun, hoping the extra vitamin D would help with the Covid.

Mother’s Day 2022

The Kids

Thank goodness the sun has been out a lot this week. The kids have been loving being outside on the swings, playing in the yard or taking brief walks around the neighborhood.

Nana stopped by with some clothes she got for the kids on day and found Ella some “Princess Dresses.” She puts one on and then takes it off so she can put the other one on. I’m not sure what she was doing when I snapped this picture, but I love it. I can’t wait to be able to dress up for a daddy daughter dance!

Earlier this week, Ella was outside with Sam and heard a bird. She told Sam it was a “Nutpecker!” Sam did a double take and asked her again what kind of bird it was. Again, the answer came back, “Nutpecker!” I’ll just add that to the list of wonderfully funny things my daughter says. Nutpecker = Woodpecker.

Andrew turned 7 months old this week. He’s been crawling all over the place and is doing everything he can to stand up. He will pull himself up with the help of couch cushions, toys, pillows, you name it. He is able to stand for 30 seconds at a time, but then usually falls. It drives us crazy. Case in point:

Ella got a Doc McStuffins doctor kit. It comes with the typical doctor toys – stethoscope, otoscope, fake shot, thermometer, bandage and bag. Take a look at the shot, which is the second from the right in the picture below.

See how it is flat? Ok, good. Andrew was standing up next to me on the floor. I was sitting and he had pulled himself up and was standing. He quickly turned and fell and faceplanted right on the corner of that shot. Almost immediately, under his eye (at the top of his cheek bone) began to bruise. Then it began to swell. There was a huge bump under it. At first I thought he broke his cheek.

With 30 minutes before the Urgent Care closed, Sam ran him up to get checked out. He had a hematoma under his eye. Basically, it was bleeding under the skin. So he got his first shiner.

We were told to call his doc and follow up. The doc stated that she didn’t need to see him, but we should have him looked at by an eye doctor to be sure nothing was wrong on the inside of the eye. So he also had his first visit to the eye doc this week.

The good news is that the eye looks great and he will be fine.

He followed up with the Orthotics folks today about his helmet and they said he is progressing so well that he probably will be able to get the helmet off in a couple weeks. This is fantastic news, since we were planning on him having it on through July.

My Crazy Co-Workers

I was cleared to return to work today. The afternoon tech was off, so when I walked in I was the only one in the building. When I walked into the tech room, I was greeted with a masterpiece created by my co-workers.

They basically went through my Facebook page and found every ridiculous picture of me and created a “Covid Keith” board. It certainly made me laugh. I also realize that I make a lot of silly faces. There is a story behind the Alfalfa picture that I will share another time.

I suppose things are sort of getting back to normal-ish.

Recapping the Holiday Weekend

Saturday

When I woke up Saturday afternoon, Sam and I ventured out for the first time to the grocery store with both kids. We were also picking up a couple car seats to keep at her mom’s house, just in case she ever needed to take them for a drive. Because of this, we had two carts. Andrew was in one and Ella was in the other. It was actually quite comical and weird at the same time. As we both anticipated, the last part of the trip was quickly shortened as it became obvious that we were close to nap time and the kids got more and more fussy.

This was our first in person shopping experience in a year or so. Our local Meijer got rid of the Schipt shoppers recently. We actually liked having them shop. You picked your items online and they shopped for you. If they didn’t have an item, they’d text you and ask about a replacement. They even loaded the car for you! One good thing about having someone shop for you is that you are not tempted to add things to the cart that are not on your list. On the other hand, not shopping yourself often leads to you forgetting things that you might remember needing as you pass it on a shelf.

After the kids went to sleep, Sam and I fixed up the Easter baskets and set them out for them. Sam had the idea of putting plastic eggs in Ella’s bed and a trail of them leading to the front room. Of course, any time I got up to get a drink of water in the kitchen, I was kicking or stepping on those plastic eggs!

Easter Sunday

Andrew was wide awake early Sunday. Ella on the other hand was snoozing pretty good. I snapped a picture of her sleeping and put a caption on it that said, “Happy Easter. He is Risen. Ella on the other hand has not …”

When Ella finally got up, we handed her a bucket and she collected eggs from the trail of eggs, until she spotted her Easter Basket. At that point she dropped the bucket and ran to her basket. She was excited because she’s been asking for a xylophone. There is a picture of one in one of her favorite books and it is also featured in an episode of Bluey. She saw it and immediately began to play it.

I love that kids can sing whatever song melody perfectly while banging away in whatever rhythm they want to on the xylophone. The two “melodies” are vastly different, but to the performer – they are perfecting in synch! I really think she is going to be our little musician. She loves to play her xylophone and loves to sing!

We were invited to Sam’s mom’s house for Easter dinner that afternoon. Sam found some cute outfits for the kids in bright spring colors. They looked so cute together.

Sam’s mom had hid plastic eggs around the yard for an Easter Egg hunt. Andrew isn’t quite ready for that yet, so Ella went out and gathered eggs with her cousin, She loves being outside and despite the cooler temps, the sunshine made for a beautiful Easter Sunday.

After dinner and conversation, we decided to head home. Andrew is in his helmet 23 hours a day now and during the time it is off, there is a lot to do. It is important to wash the inside of the helmet, as well as make sure his hair is washed. This prevents any type of fungus or nastiness from growing in the helmet or on his head.

It’s almost weird to see him out of the helmet now. Sam took him to his appointment Friday and the measurements are looking very good. The helmet is doing what it is supposed to do.

Sunday night wrapped up with an unexpected emergency. Just before we got ready to get the kids to bed, Sam got a phone call. Her sister had to be rushed to the hospital. Sam drove to her mom’s and then drove them down to the hospital. She was admitted and is now home, but it was a bit scary. Sam got home around midnight Sunday night. I’m glad that she had the night off work so she could take her mom and sister.

Monday

We woke up to snow showers! There was very little on the ground in the morning, but after the kids woke up from their afternoon naps, there was a good coating of snow on the ground and you couldn’t see the grass! Typical Michigan weather, I guess.

What I found to be absolutely crazy was that the high school baseball team (who uses the field behind our house to practice/play on) was actually still having practice Monday afternoon. Those poor kids were out there on the diamond shagging balls in the outfield, running plays, and swinging blindly at balls being thrown to the plate because the snow was coming down so hard! It was nuts!!

Tuesday

I don’t even want to talk about Tuesday … LOL

I hope that you had a wonderful and blessed Easter weekend.

My Kids – Posers?

One of the things I love about Facebook is the ability to meet others who share the same interests as me. I belong to many different “fan” groups and have connected with some very cool people through those groups.

Some time ago, I saw a painting of Moe Howard that I thought was very well done. I’m not sure exactly where I had seen it, though it may have been in Moe’s book. At any rate, through one of the Three Stooges groups, I found that the artist was a member. Her name is Belita William and she painted the amazing portrait when she was in her teens!

Moe, Belita, and her painting.

She and Moe became friends and they were in contact with each other until he passed away. Moe liked her work so much, he had her paint him a portrait of President Kennedy.

Moe, JFK, and Belita

I was surprised to find out that she had also painted a portrait for Larry Fine, as well. This is another picture I had seen somewhere prior to learning she painted it.

Larry and his painting

Belita is very talented and I am in awe of her talent. She has painted portraits of her children, church members, and many others. Here are just a few examples of her fantastic work.

To make a long story short, Belita and I became Facebook friends shortly after connecting through the Stooges group. She has often commented on photos of Ella, Andrew, and my kids. I was truly surprised when she reached out to me privately recently.

“Hi Keith. Your kids are gorgeous. Maybe you might consider portraits.”

I won’t lie, it is certainly something I would love to do. She talked about pricing and such and it is something that I definitely want to save up to do. It may take a while (thank you highest inflation rate since 1981!), but I really think this would be an amazing and one of a kind way to capture the kids. I am sure that she would do a wonderful job.

When Ella was first born, one of my co-workers said we should enter her in a “Cutest Baby Contest.” Others have said the same about Andrew. As a parent, you are biased. I mean, you KNOW how cute your kids are, right!? Sure they are “model” material! Sure they would be perfect for a portrait! Absolutely they could be in a magazine ad! You always think that, but when someone reaches out to you and actually asks to paint them (as Belita has done) or asks to use them in promotional material (like Andrew was by the place where he got his helmet), it makes you feel pretty darn good!

Thank heavens they got their good looks from their mommy! LOL

Not Exactly the Helmet I Was Expecting …

I have three sons. I had always hoped that they would be involved with sports in school. I played a lot of baseball with the neighborhood kids, but never did any in school. My two oldest boys played T-ball and baseball for a short time, but they never pursued it further. Neither one was interested in football either, unless it was a family game of touch football.

My youngest boy will be 6 months old in just a few days and he’s already got his helmet – although it isn’t a sports helmet. This helmet will help insure that his head is shaped properly.

I have never been one to doubt my wife’s intuition. I’m not exactly how she saw it or exactly what she saw that made her ask our pediatrician for a referral, but she was right. Andrew’s head is a little off. This could be because of the way he sat in the birth canal, or a variety of other things.

This has been quite a process to get evaluated, fitted, molded and receive the helmet. My wife went to pick it up yesterday. While she was at the appointment, they went over the meticulous instructions of what has to happen over the next week, month, and afterward. To say that it is overwhelming is an understatement.

For example, to start he has to have it on an hour then off an hour and repeat throughout the day. The next day it is 2 hours on and two hours off. Then that increases until he will eventually have it on 23 hours a day!

Then you have to watch his temperature. If he has a fever, the helmet could make the fever higher and may cause seizures. When it is off the inside of the helmet has to be cleaned and his hair has to be cleaned so that nothing “grows” in the helmet.

As my wife told me all of this I felt like I couldn’t process it!

I’m sure that the longer he wears it, the easier it will be.

The good news is that he seems to be totally ok with it. It doesn’t seem to bother him. This may change the longer he wears it, but for now, he is ok.

His is a light blue and it really brings out the color of his eyes. The guy who was fitting him asked if he could have professional pictures of him taken to use in a brochure for some clinics they are running for parents. How cool is that?!

Anyway, we’ll adjust to this new change and embrace this knowing that we are doing the right thing for him. Who knows, maybe in 16 years, he’ll be out there in a football helmet calling plays and winning championships!

Future Quarterback?

Another Weekend Wrap Up

On Friday, my son told me that he wasn’t coming over for the weekend. Sam and I decided that we’d take Ella somewhere to burn off some energy (Andrew came along for the ride). When I got home from work Saturday morning, I stayed up and we all went to the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum in Saginaw.

I’d never been there before, but I was impressed with it. There was plenty of stuff for Ella to do. We thought she would spend more time at the “water area,” but she was only there for a short time. She was running from station to station and I probably lost a few pounds chasing her around.

We got there right when it opened, so there wasn’t a lot of people there. The longer we were there, the more crowded it got. Both Sam and I felt our anxiety levels rising, so we wrapped things up with a trip to the gift shop. Ella found a stuffed kitty cat that she hasn’t really let go of since our trip.

On our way home, we stopped at Halo Burger. Halo Burger is a Flint area restaurant that is known for their Olive Burgers. They are SO good!! They are also known for serving Boston Coolers (It’s like a shake with Vernor’s ginger ale and vanilla ice cream). We don’t go there often, but when I do, I always get a Boston Cooler. I brought it home and Sam had Ella try it. She called it “Ice Cream Pop.” Needless to say, she finished it off for me.

Later than night, we took the kids to see Sam’s grandma. She loves her great grandbabies. She is in her 90’s and sharp as a tack! I am so glad that the kids have had the opportunity to know her and love her.

Andrew has been scooting all over the floor now. I’m sure he is trying to keep up with his sister. I know that it won’t be long before his is crawling and walking all over the place. This week, he actually got himself sitting up. It’s not consistent yet, but he seems pretty dang happy when he is sitting up and able to look around.

He was recently evaluated by the doctor and he will need a helmet. We’re hoping that he will only have to wear it for a couple months. The helmet will basically help to make sure his head is shaped properly. We’re hoping that the helmet won’t slow down his progress by weighing him down. He should be getting it this week.

He is such a happy baby. He always seems to be wearing a smile. Sam has been playing a game with the kids where she makes Andrew “get” Ella. They both laugh out loud and I love watching them!

I just love the outfit Andrew has on …

All of my kids are pretty awesome, there is no doubt about that.

A friend of mine posted something on Facebook that was 100% true and really struck a chord with me this week. It said:

Your first kid teaches you how long the days are. Your last kid teaches you how short the years are.

Powerful stuff! That’s why I try to take advantage of all the time I can with them.