Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Matthew Turns Four

Wow....I have been pretty bad about keeping up with this blog lately.  I'll have to do a separate post on why later.  First, I want to document Matthew's 4th birthday!  We had initially planned on a Paw Patrol Pool Party for Matthew, but the weather turned a little too cold after a week of downpours.  Instead, we had a Paw Patrol party at Mike's work...Geyer Springs First Baptist Church!  It ended up working out perfectly!  There was a huge room for food, presents, and all of the kiddos to run around.  Plus, a new indoor play area that they all loved!

My favorite part of Matthew's party was his excited scream (aka "girly" scream") each time he opened a new present.  I have no idea where it came from, but it was pretty funny, and I have it video!  He is now the proud owner of the entire Paw Patrol town....at least it feels like it :-)  On his actual birthday, my sister and I took him to the zoo.  He was able to play in the new farm area which was really nice!  We then had a small pool party with the family.  Of course, he had more cake and got to open a few more presents.

Opening presents from Mommy, Daddy, and Bro before the party

Like always, here are some highlights from my little 4 year old!

~  You weigh 35.4 lbs (46th percentile) and are 3 feet, 5 inches tall (67th percentile)!
~  You LOVE Pre-K3!!!  You go Tuesday 8:30-11:30 and Thursday 8:30-2:30, and are always so excited to tell us about your day.  I love watching you learn and enjoy school!
~  Over the summer, you played soccer again.  Now, you are playing T-Ball!  We will continue to let you play both, or any other sport you want to try, until you need to choose 1-2 to focus on.  It's been fun seeing your athletic side come out over the last year.
~  Reading is still one of your favorite things to do, but you also love playing....any kind of playing!  Being outdoors, playing with cars/trucks/trains, Paw Patrol, Octonauts, Legos, Lightsaber "fights", and any kind of snack are your other faves. 
~  You want to help us with everything, and are so good when you do help!  The best part of this trait is seeing you start to help your friends or others outside of the family.  I pray that continues.
~  When we are in the car, you like to play "I Spy" and the "Animal Game".  You also like to have us tell you stories or try to make your Bro laugh.  This is also the best place for you to get in a nap :-)
~  I can tell your adventurous side is really coming out, but with many things you are still hesitant.  You still like to watch others when faced with a new task, and pretend you are shy around new people.  Those who know you, know that you love to be center of attention.

~ You still enjoy tagging along to your little brother's therapy sessions and doctor's appointments.  You've even started helping the therapists...you would make a great therapist or doctor one day!

~ We are still working on swimming without your floaties, but you are gaining more confidence.  You've been able to use the kick-board to kick around the pool without your floaties, so you're getting there.

We love you Matthew David Fleisher!!!!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Samuel Turns Two!

The events of April 7, 2014 are still very clear in my mind, so it's hard to believe it was two years ago.  I have vivid flashbacks leading up to this day, and probably always will.  What helps me from dwelling on how hard that day was is seeing how far Samuel has come.  I can easily say that he is the strongest kiddo I know...and the most feisty :-)

We celebrated his birthday with family and friends at the North Little Rock Athletic Club.  They went between a soft-play area and a bouncy castle in the gym.  It was an easy party because everything was taken care of for us.  The best part was that all of the kids had a great time!  Here is a little about what this sweet two year old has been up to...

~ You are now 23 lbs, 5 oz and 32 inches long!  This puts you in the 30th percentile for BMI and we are thrilled!!!  You've been 0.1 percentile, so you've definitely come A LONG way!  

~  You are wearing size 18 month clothes, and some 18-24 month clothes.  I'm loving the new things I can put you in since you were in 12 month clothes for so long.  You are also in size 4 diapers.

~ Your feeding schedule hasn't changed much.  You are still getting 5 oz of Peptamen Jr., 5 mls of Microlipid, and 20 mls of water 6 times a day.  We've combined two of those feedings with an extra 3 oz of Peptamen Jr., 2 mls of Microlipid, and 10 mls of water in your continuous night feed.  It's helped you bulk up fast!  We are adding in 1 Tbsp of stage 2 baby food to your 6:30 pm feed to get us one step closer to the Blenderized Diet.

~  You are loving play time more and more, especially when you can sit up by yourself to play and explore.  You're even able to go from your belly to a sitting up position all by yourself.  Toys that play music or have bright lights are still your favorite - you're not big on books unless they make noise.

~ You have become even more opinionated about what you want - especially at therapy.  We've started giving you a dose of Benadryl before you OT sessions to help calm you down.  Without it, you fuss about everything!  

~ Speaking of therapy, you continue to beat obstacles each week.  You're doing so much better with your taste testing and allowing the spoon to go further in your mouth.  You're walking with less support and for longer distances.  Overall, you're tolerated so much more than you used to!

~ The best way to calm you down is to sing to you.  You can be in the middle of a major fit, and stop immediately when I start singing to you.  My favorite thing is when you're snuggled up on my shoulder while I sing.  If I stop, you lean back and look at me until I start again and put your head back on my shoulder.

~  While you can throw 2 year old/preemie fits, you are one of the happiest kiddos I know.  You love to laugh, play on the floor with your toys, and roll around.  New sounds tend to make you laugh, as well as, being tossed up in the air.  Your smile takes up your whole face and it's just the best!  While playing, you find so many things hilarious.  I big part of me hopes you never lose your sweet belly laugh.

~  You are still working on getting all of your teeth.  Right now you have almost 14 teeth!  I can tell you're getting a few more because your fingers are always in your mouth.

~ You are starting to interact more with your big brother.  He will get on the floor and play with you, and you'll turn towards him or play with whatever he has.  I'm loving this because it's a little of what I pictured when we found out when we were having another boy!  

~ We are still keeping you in your bubble since a simple cold kept you down for a month in the fall.  We've gotten you out a little more now that it's spring, but I still like to keep you close to ACH and your pediatrician just in case.  

~  You are oxygen free during the day!  We are hoping to get you completely off oxygen when we go back to pulmonary in a month.  I love seeing your face without anything....I've waited a long time for that!

I could go on and on about how proud we are of you, Samuel.  God has made you such a special & strong little boy, and we are so blessed to be your parents!  I'll end with a few of my fave memories from this past year with you!

 New Glasses

No More Oxygen!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

2015 Review

I'm trying to get caught up on my blog, so here's another one!  I always like to do a year in review post just to capture the highlights from the year.  It's such a great way to focus and look back on all of the blessings from our Lord.  So, here's our 2015...

1.  Mike and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on January 12, 2015.  We were able to enjoy a true date night while my family watched the boys!  We went to eat at Marketplace Grill in Little Rock and it was delicious!  
2.  Our feeding routine with Samuel was drastically changed at the end of January when he had to get a feeding tube.  This was his first surgery since leaving the NICU and we had to stay over night in order to learn how to feed him and make sure he was tolerating his new g-tube.  What I thought was going to be a huge burden, turned into a blessing.  It's because of the feeding tube that Samuel has been gaining weight and making his way to being back on the growth curve.

3.  January was a big month for us in 2015.  This was also my first official month as a member of the ACH NICU Family Advisory Board.  The "FAB" is made up of former NICU parents and a few NICU staff.  It has made a huge impact on me being able to make connections with other parents who really get what all we went through (and continue to go through) with Samuel.  Plus, it has given me the ability to reach out to others who are now in the NICU.  Because of our journey with Samuel, the Lord has opened my eyes even more to the struggles that others endure.  My heart longs to reach out to them and help them in any way possible.

4.  Samuel turned 1 year old on April 7, 2015.  It was such a surreal celebration after all that he went through the first 6.5 months of his life.  We had a huge party at a park in NLR and welcomed family and friends to come meet Samuel for the first time!  It was absolutely perfect!  We chose a Superman theme since he is our "Super Sam" and he was Superman the day he came home from the NICU!

5.  The very next week, we attended our first March for Babies through the March of Dimes.  It was held at the Clinton Presidential Library and offered a family-friendly way to honor and celebrate premature babies!  It was fun getting so see a few of our NICU buddies hearing stories of other little fighters!  The #SamuelStrong team definitely made their presence known with our bright orange shirts!  He is one lucky little boy to have such a big group of supporters!

6.  In May we went with Mike's family to Orange Beach, Alabama.  There was a lot of anxiety leading up to this trip because of all of Samuel's needs, but it ended up being fairly relaxing.  The condo had great amenities for the kiddos - private beach access, private pool, lazy river, and a water slide!  It was definitely a successful beach trip - plus, we also got to visit the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo like we did the year before when I was pregnant with Samuel.

7.  Our other vacation was to Branson with my family.  We stayed in my parents condo and spent our time shopping and at Silver Dollar City!  This was a first for both boys, and it was so fun to see Matthew experience big rides for the first time.  Samuel only made it 1 day at SDC, but I'm sure that will change over the years.  One night, Mike and I were able to take Matthew out for some quality time just the 3 of us.  We took him to the Dixie Stampede and had a blast!  He was mesmerized the whole time - horses, buffalo, and other animals/entertainment made the ticket price all worth it!

At the Dixie Stampede

8.  Something I've been waiting for since having Matthew happened over the summer - I got to watch him play soccer and tee ball for the first time!  It was the cutest and funniest thing to watch!!!  He was on the Fireflies soccer team through the Arkansas Soccer Club - he started learning basic skills with ball handling and listening to the coach.  He loved chasing Mike around the field and kicking the soccer ball into the goal.  For tee ball, we went through Burns Park.  He had 1 practice and 1 game a week.  The dog piles on the ball and them running the bases gave us all a good laugh - each week!  I'm so excited for this coming season!

9.  We spent almost every weekend at my sister's pool over the summer!  This has been the best addition to our family get togethers!  It's so much fun to either play in the water with Matthew or just relax under the umbrella with Samuel.  We've made some great memories by that pool!  We tried Samuel in the water a few times, and he started getting used to it.  I'm hoping this coming summer he'll enjoy it more!  Matthew is a little fish - he loves to jump in the water and have Mike throw him around in the water.  I'm ready for him to really learn how to swim because I'm a ball of nerves when he's near the water without his floaties.  Fingers crossed, he will learn this summer!

10.  Matthew turned 3 years old on August 24, 2015.  He grew up so much the last few months before his birthday.  It's crazy to look back at videos of him - he's lost his baby fat and his vocabulary has grown!  He's even shocked many doctors with his vocabulary!  We had his party at my sister's pool again, but this year it was a pirate party!  He had a blast with his little friends - the best was watching him tear through his gifts.  It was, literally, like a tornado! 

11.  Samuel's 1st "Un-Birthday" celebration was in October.  Being a preemie gives you the right to 2 parties a year....he's definitely earned it!  This was a celebration of him coming home from the NICU....he's an official NICU Graduate of 2014!  We went simple with just getting family & friends together at a local pumpkin patch.  While Samuel spent much of the party asleep, the other kiddos had fun looking at the animals and playing!

12.  Our home is filled with a lot of stress due to Samuel's medical care, which I wouldn't trade for anything.  However, I need my girl time to help me recharge.  I am beyond grateful for my Bunco girls and our 3rd year of getting together once a month!  We still have a theme each month and use one of our Bunco weekends for a girl trip.  We went to Hot Springs again, but didn't do as much at Oaklawn.  It was the Derby and crazy crowded, so we settled for dinner and shopping followed by relaxing at our cabin.  Bunco time is something I look forward to each month! 

Looking forward to 2016 and the plans God has for our family!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Christmas 2015

I'm late again in posting, but better late than never right?  We had an amazing Christmas season - it's definitely my favorite time of year!  I love the magical feeling in the air and all of the decorations and lights around town!  I also love seeing Matthew get so excited about the same things now that he's old enough to better understand it.  I had hoped to do a lot of the traditional Christmas things with him (Christmas cookies, Santa, etc), but time got away from me.  Also, Mike and Matthew went to Illinois to visit family right before Christmas so there just wasn't time.  We did manage to go see Christmas lights and introduce Matthew to the crazy inflatables at the house on Convington Drive in North Little Rock!  He now wants a lot of inflatables for our yard - ummm...no!

While Mike and Matthew were in Illinois, I had some quality time with Samuel!  We hope to be able to take Samuel to Illinois next Christmas so he can meet our family there, but only time will tell.  It just depends on his health, and the health of others.  Thankfully, we have 11 months for him to grow and for his lungs to get healthier before we have to make a decision.  I loved getting to focus on Samuel and his therapy during our alone time.  I was also able to play with him more than usual - he's so much fun!  I did miss my other two boys though.

He was in little boy heaven with all of the trackers!

Climbing to the top of the silo with daddy!

Christmas day, we went to my parents house.  We had a yummy breakfast before opening presents.  While Matthew tore into his gifts, I opened Samuel's for him.  Matthew got a lot of cars, a car transporter, remote control cars, clothes, and other toys & games.  My parents surprised us with a full blown cowboy outfit for Matthew and it's the cutest thing ever!  He now has a hat, boots, belt, shirt, handcuffs, gun (suction sup), and a star badge.  It's pretty awesome!  He also got a ride-on jeep...this was definitely his fave!  After opening all the gifts and relaxing a while, we had lunch.  It was just like when I was growing up and I love that my boys get to experience the same thing!  

My favorite gift that I gave were signs that I found on Etsy.  My grandparents got a sign that reads "Great Grandkids" in the background and underneath it says "Make Life Grand".  There are several clothes pins attached at the bottom for them to display pictures.  For my parents, I found an Etsy site that custom makes signs also.  My boys call them Emie and Pops and there are never any grandparent things with those names on them.  Their sign says "Pops and Emie Established August 2012".  I wanted them to have something with their unique grandparent names and I thought this was perfect!


The day after Christmas, we headed up to Conway for the Fleisher Christmas.  This one cracks me up because it's 5 kids under the age of 4 ripping into presents.  We pass them out one at a time and watch as they each open a gift.  Samuel got more clothes and a multitude of light up toys!  Matthew stocked up on Octonaut characters and their ships, plus Paw Patrol & Jake and the Neverland Pirate toys.  His big gift from them was a big boy bike!  We haven't put it together yet because we are waiting on finding a new house and for the weather to warm up.  I know he will love it!

Overall, Christmas 2015 was a huge success!  Matthew keeps asking about when Santa will come again, so we are trying to teach him about the concept of waiting 11 months - haha!  I want my boys to know to true meaning of Christmas, so it's my goal this coming year to do a better job of incorporating the story of Christmas.  Any ideas are welcome!