Friday, July 29, 2011

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!

One year ago today I woke up really early in the morning and thought, "Oh no.  This better not be what I think it might be."  And it was.  I was in labor, and my husband was out of town.  Oh well.  This baby couldn't wait. 

Aaron Wesley Zeitler
8lbs, 3oz
19 inches

Happy First Birthday to my sweet son, Aaron Wesley Zeitler.  I can't imagine life without this guy.  In the last month or so, his little personality has really been shining through.  He loves to watch his brothers play and is becoming more and more interactive with them.  It's no secret that Aaron's a mama's boy, but he's also really been warming up to his daddy lately.  He loves to eat, eat, eat.  Anything he doesn't like, he just drops over the side of his highchair.  Mommy loves that.

Aaron is over 20 pounds now, probably about 20.5lbs.  He has the eight teeth he had at six months, but just yesterday, one of his 12 month molars poked through.  The other three are swollen, and I can feel one really close to the surface, but we'll call it 9 teeth on his first birthday. 

We were lucky to have Ryan's sister and kids here last week, so we had Aaron's birthday party while they were here.  It was so much fun to share Aaron's birthday with his cousins.  They were so sweet to him, and all the kids were so excited to have a party.  Eli questioned me several times throughout the day, making sure we would be having cake after dinner.

We had walking tacos for dinner, a fun little treat I learned from my VBS ladies at St. Andrew's.  Then we had a little cake.  Aaron dug in like he was an old pro, and he ate every bite of his slice.  He also ate a bit of ice cream, something the other two wouldn't eat until they were older.

This morning I made blueberry muffins, and the boys and I serenaded Aaron with his birthday muffin.  We went to Chick-fil-A for lunch and then went to the library.  Aaron opened a couple presents from family tonight after dinner, and that was that. 

I can't believe my baby is one year old today.  The big boys are growing so quickly, and I was hoping Aaron would stay my baby forever.  I don't think it's going to happen.

 Birthday muffin

 Deer in the headlights

 Lunch at Chick-fil-A

 Silly brothers

Gifts from Papa and Gigi

Birthday Party Pictures:

Party prep

 Table set and ready for the cousins

 Eli put on his hat and couldn't understand why we all thought he looked so funny.

 Yummy cake and Bluebell, of course

Bring on the cake

 The birthday boy

Singing Happy Birthday

 My niece and nephew

 Trying it out

 It'll do.

 Getting going

Finishing it up and obviously loving being one year old

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag sweet Aaron!  You are loved!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cousin Time

We were so fortunate that Ryan's sister was able to bring her kids out to Oklahoma this month.  The kids hadn't seen each other in 18 months, so it was kind of like meeting each other for the first time.  We had a busy, but fun time together.  They were also able to be here through a lot of Clayton's arthritis hoopla, and that helped me tremendously with the little boys.  Aaron was a little cautious around Ryan's sister the first day or two, but by the end of their stay he was actually reaching out for his aunt to hold him.  I think he earned some brownie points for that.

While they were here, we had several fun outings and spent a lot of time just hanging out at home, letting the kids play.  I wish it hadn't been so hot, but we still managed to have a little outdoor fun.  I have a million pictures to share, so if you're not into pictures, you can stop reading now.  I tried to narrow it down.

We spent a lot of time in the backyard.  Water was always involved.  The hose was the most popular toy.  Sometimes a spray was welcomed, and sometimes it wasn't.

We went to the science museum.

These two were the only ones brave enough to pose with Otto.

We went to the splashpad.

 Aaron is my most enthusiatic splashpadder.  He sat at this little fountain for a good half hour.

We went bowling.

And just spent some time being cousins.

There was also a short trip to the zoo, lunch at Chick-fil-A, more ice cream than should be consumed by small children, and sno cones, of course.  Time with family is a rare treat for us, and we had such a great time.  Clayton remembers his cousins and aunt, but they were just pictures for Eli until this trip.  Now he knows them and is talking about them nonstop.  We really, really appreciate them making the trip out here, and I especially appreciated all the company/babysitting/cooking/cleaning help.  Love you guys.  We miss you already.

Monday, July 25, 2011

VBS 2011

In the middle of all Clayton's health drama, we've had a very busy Vacation Bible School season around here.  I love VBS.  I went almost every summer as an elementary schooler, and I believe in its ministry.  I love that kids who never have the opportunity to attend church show up for VBS.  As we work and work to put on the program, I always try to remember that many of our kids will only have this one week each year to learn about Jesus. 

Our VBS was July 11-14, and this year's theme was Pandamania.  Clayton was able to attend the preschool VBS again this year.  He had the same teacher from last year, and we love her so much.  I wish I had some pictures to share, but trust me, between all the VBS prep, teaching at VBS, and Clayton's issues, a camera was the last thing on my mind. 

I'm so thankful to belong to a church with so many ladies dedicated to making VBS a success.  It's a summer staple, and I'm so grateful to be a part of it.

It's Been a While

With all that's been going on with Clayton, I just haven't felt up to blogging in a while.  We didn't have any firm answers to his leg problems, and I didn't really have anything to say.  The last few weeks have been very busy, but very productive.

Since my last update, Clayton's knee continued to grow more and more swollen and stiff.  He was unable to walk in the mornings.  After a lot of painful warm up, he would walk with a severe limp until he sat for any amount of time.  Then he'd be back to crawling again.  I felt terrible for him, and Ryan and I recently began to notice some changes in his personality as well.  He's been a little depressed.  He began just laying around most of the day, and he didn't seem to enjoy anything anymore. 

On Wednesday, the 6th of July, Clayton was unusually sore and stiff.  After calling and calling and calling, trying to get some help, I finally broke down and took him to the ER.  I didn't know if there was anything done, but at least it would be noted somewhere that I felt he was in enough pain to be seen in the ER.  I took him to Children's, and they were, as usual, extremely helpful.  The attending doctor made some calls, and got our orthopedic surgery appointment moved up and got us in (eventually, it's a long story) with rheumatology. 

On Wednesday, the 13th we met with an orthopedic surgeon who, as we expected, told us he didn't feel Clayton had an orthopedic injury.  He felt that it was more likely a rheumatology issue.

On Monday, the 18th we met with a pediatric rheumatologist at Children's.  She was wonderful and had already been over all our information (what a concept!).  She had actually already consulted Clayton's cardiologist about all the ins and outs of his HLHS and all the dos and don'ts of medications for him.  Even before examining him, she was pretty sure he had developed juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.  After her exam, she diagnosed him with JRA in the right knee, as well as the the left ankle.  Her normal course of action is a 6 to 8 week ibuprofen regimen, but Clayton is unable to take large amounts of ibuprofen due to his heart meds.  She recommended we move on to the next stage of treatment, which was steroid injections in the affected joints.  In children these are usually done under anesthesia, and she recommended we do it as soon as possible. 

On Friday, the 22nd, we took Clayton to Children's for the injections.  Anesthesia, even for quick, small procedures, is complicated for Clayton's anatomy.  They were ready for him though, and we felt pretty confident.  Things went well, and we were home for lunch.  Clayton did really well.  He was a little bit of a wreck coming out of the anesthsia, but he eventually snapped out of it.  When it was time to leave the hospital I helped him take off his hospital pajama pants.  He saw the band aids on his knee and ankle and angrily said, "Hey, who put those there?"  Apparently he hadn't even realized anything had been done to his joints.

Friday afternoon and evening didn't really bring any changes, but Clayton woke up walking with only a barely noticable limp first thing Saturday morning.  His walking has been great ever since.  He does still have a slight limp at times, but I'm wondering if that's more of a muscle atrophy thing than anything related to the joints.  He hasn't complained about pain once since Saturday.  The swelling is still there, but the doctor said that could take weeks or months to resolve.

The steroid injections usually last somewhere between two and six months.  As long as Clayton doesn't develop arthritis in his fingers or toes, and as long as he has five or less joints affected, we can repeat the injections when needed.  They seem like the most compatible treatment with his heart condition at this time, so that's the plan.  Sometimes these things miraculously go away, sometimes they outgrow them as teens, and sometimes they hang around forever, so we'll just have to wait and see.

I'm so relieved.  I was really worried about Clayton, both physically and mentally.  I am still worried about the future, now that he has half and heart and deteriorating joints, but with Clayton, it's just one day at a time, and for now, he's looking good.