Thursday, November 10, 2011

In Honor of Dex

When someone experiences a life-altering challenge or tragedy, it is not uncommon for them to seek solace in a personal cause. Some are lucky enough to find their inspiration quickly. For others, it may take much longer.

It was three years for me.

I have long searched for a project that spoke to my soul. I wanted something that would honor Dex's memory and give purpose to my grief. I needed a service project that would be as useful to others as it would be cathartic for our family. I preferred something kinda "different" and it had to be something within my skills and abilities.

When my sister's friend Emily showed us what their friend Arah had started, I knew immediately that I had found my answer. My heart told me that there was no turning back.

Micropreemie stillbirth diapers it would be.

I reached out to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center and the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation of Salt Lake, sent them pictures of my plans and asked them if they could use these little diapers. They enthusiastically responded, "we want them YESTERDAY. And could you make us some micropreemie blankets and mats too?"

So this summer, we began another chapter in our healing. At Girls Camp, our Young Women cut and pinned 78 stillbirth micropreemie diapers for local hospitals and my friend Jennie helped me sew them up. My sisters and their families have rolled up their sleeves in Washington and New Mexico to make diapers. My friend Tracy is sewing with her family and YW in Canada. My youngest sister has researched where we can eventually requisition teeny little teddy bears. As a family, we trace, cut, iron, turn, and sew on vacations, weekends, and slow evenings. Kinley's friends have begun asking for diaper-making playdates. I've sewed and worked on this blog, deciding what exactly I want Teeny Tears to be.

Justin never raised an eyebrow when I suddenly transformed our formal sitting area into my sewing headquarters. Anyone who knows my husband understands what a profound declaration of approval that is. He has seen how this project has carried me through the autumn. I have long believed that the phrase "Time Heals All Wounds" is a load of garbage. Time heals absolutely nothing; it's what you do with the time that makes all the difference. When the autumn anxiety nipped at my heartstrings this year, I cranked up all of my "Dex Songs" and immersed myself in cutting, tracing, ironing, pinning, and sewing. I have felt so close to my son as I have worked on this very special birthday present for him. I've enjoyed a peace and stability that has eluded me for three Novembers. When my daughter Kinley gets hit by the November blues, she grabs a stack of diapers to work on; this effort been very healing for our entire family.

So, happy birthday to my darling Dex! Teeny Tears has been created in your memory and your honor. When a grieving family receives a T.T. diaper set or blanket for their little one, we want them to know that someone understands that their son or daughter was special, loved, and that they mattered. Because "a person's a person, no matter how small."

We introduce to you: Teeny Tears.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

After More than Two Years

It is time. Crew and Dex have moved to our family blog.

That can be found here.

I may still update this blog from time to time, but they can always be found there.

Monday, January 24, 2011


We were still recovering from our most recent plague-of-endless-mucus when the new firehouse had their grand opening. Some great neighbors stopped by our home and brought fire hats for each of the children. Who knew what a hit the hats would be with Little Critter? I wouldn't let him wear it to bed that night; you would have thought I was plucking his toenails out one by one, the way he screamed and carried on.

Cute little fireguy, huh?

Afternoon Surprise!

I cried. I did.

I was sitting in the living room this afternoon, minding my own business, when Crew very casually did this right before my very eyes:

Then I fixed his pant legs...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rank Has Its Privileges

While we watch and work for Crew's many developmental milestones, a very important one has creeped into playtime.

Tanner has long served as the "monster" of the house, the chaser that everyone runs away from. He has also been quick to foist the responsibility upon younger friends and cousins when they come to play.

Crew has officially graduated from sideline observer, very enthusiastically taking over all monster/ogre/dragon responsibilities.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Crew's New Year

I have many New Year's resolutions for our little beast, none of which he's really thrilled about.

We never gained traction with mealtime independence, but I'm ok with it. The independence was never really the issue. I just wanted him to eat and I was willing to give him 100% control if that's what it took. Justin thought I was just tired of feeding him. Not true at all. I was tired of trying to feed him and having him open his mouth invitingly wide just to smack the spoon across the kitchen as soon as it got in range of his little paw.

Heck, I'd spoon feed him every meal until he went to kindergarten if he'd just eat willingly. If he wants to feed himself oatmeal with his fingers, I'm totally up for that too. I'll do whatever he wants, as long as he happily and successfully gets nutrition down his throat. It seems his extended strike was probably because he didn't feel well. He's been sick for more than two weeks and is only now starting to sleep and eat respectably again. So he is back to eating and he now likes to spoon feed himself 4 or 5 bites per meal, which is big news.

He knows where his belly is now and I'm sure he was trying to say it tonight. It came out "bah" as he patted his belly. I also think he is trying to say "more", and it comes out "mah". He is starting to be more obedient to the word NO. He folds his arms when it's time for prayers. He pulls himself to standing at the couch. He is getting the hang of time-out; he gets plopped/trapped on the bottom step when he pitches fits.

He is attached to Kinley and Tanner at all times. He follows them everywhere, thinking he is so big. We don't keep a gate on the stairs because he can safely navigate them to go up and doesn't try to come down. He will sit at the top of the stairs and call for someone to rescue him.

He has never stood up in his crib, but we are going to lower the mattress down from the newborn setting hopefully this weekend because I think that day is coming. He has recently started sitting up in his crib every morning. For some reason he has always woken up and stayed on his belly, calling for us. So strange. But, now he sits up. He also sits up as soon as we put him in his crib at night or naptime. Like his brother and sister before him, he rocks himself to sleep. We have to put blankets on him after he falls asleep.

He waves "bye-bye" and "night-night". He can sign "more", "all done", "drink", and "cookie". Some of them aren't official ASL signs, we we know what he means. For example: banging his fists together means "more" or "eat". But... banging his fists together with his mouth open wide means "drink".

Our little blue engine is coming along, working his way up the mountain. We think he can, we think he can!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Update on Crew

Crew continues to make wonderful progress in all areas of development. He climbs the stairs a thousand times a day. He is pulling himself up to the side of the couch on occasion. He LOVES to have someone read books with him. He fights with light sabers, plays with toys, and is really into copying. He is a shameless tease. He has four animal sounds: cow, kitty, pig, and bear. They aren't real clear, but they are there. He now slaps his knees and hides his face at the appropriate times when we sing "Leo the Lion" and has started making the motions to "Popcorn Popping". He yells "Ma-maaaaaaa!" frequently. He is trying to imitate words. He twists his mouth around while he stares at my face. I have never seen anything cuter. He eats better than he did before, though he has regressed some in recent weeks. And we think he's losing weight, which stinks.

I had a really long conversation with PT Julie recently. Crew has a lot of flexibility in his feet and ankles. Too much, in fact. Way too much. He rolls his weak little feet in when he climbs and stands, stretching out those muscles looser than we want for future stability. So... foot braces, here we come. We don't expect he will need them forever, but we need to stabilize him while he strengthens his foot and ankle muscles so that he doesn't continue the habit of compensating by walking on the insides of his feet.

Today I pulled the Tough Love card on him. He has been playing Games of Manipulation with mealtime lately and I have grown weary of it. It's been an interesting day. Do you realize that Crew has never once held his own bottle or sippy cup? At this point he is capable, but unwilling. We have made a tiny bit of progress today, but he's super mad about it. He did manage to stick a fork into his mouth with pasta on it, and he fed himself a grand total of 3 bites of omelette with his fingers. We're in for a messy transition, but we are long overdue for mealtime independence.

We're very grateful for everything he has overcome and our longterm prognosis is so promising. Sometimes progress feels really slow and it gets overwhelming to have to fight so hard for every single milestone. Sometimes I just wish something would come easily for him. Cuteness doesn't count.

We have two therapists now. PT Julie comes twice per month and Cognitive Therapist Kathleen comes twice per month. He dearly loves them both, little grandmas that they are. It is hysterical to watch him show off his new skills when they arrive. He likes to let them know that he has been working hard in their absence. At one point, Julie had been away for a few weeks and hadn't yet seen him crawl independently. As soon as she arrived, Crew pranced circles around the livingroom repeatedly, smiling proudly at her, smacking her and yelling when she wasn't watching him closely enough. He knew exactly what she wanted to see and he performed with great flair.

Next year he will be enrolled in Special Ed preschool a few hours per week. I don't have much information on that yet. I'm not even sure whether it will start in September or November.

So that's the update on our little guy. He's doing well and we love him.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pipsqueak Picasso

Crew is a tiny artiste. Hang on to this, folks. It will be worth big money some day!