Archive | May, 2013

The fam.

13 May

I’m getting behind on posting again! Daggum! 

This may not be super entertaining, but here is an update on our little family: 

Phillip: I’ve thought Phil was amazing since (literally) the first time I saw him. Now, nearly a decade after the first time we met (seriously!) and almost 6 years since being married, he is STILL amazing me in new ways all the time. He is juggling so much right now — he is, of course, working hard on his dissertation. He has been researching for years now and is now at the point where he must actually write. He hasn’t been in this writing phase for too long, but he has the first chapter nearly done (though it is still in pieces), is pretty much done with the most complicated chapter, is working on the third chapter, and has a pretty good plan for the other chapters. He is also formatting a book and translating a different book, both of these jobs are for Konrad. In addition to all of this, this summer he will be acting as a chair person (or something like that) at a conference that one of his colleagues is organizing. He is also working hard to continue to learn German (though he is already using it basically 24/7 at work) by working with a tandem partner once a week. Oh, and he is about to submit his yearly report to his PhD supervising team and is gearing up for his research agency’s annual work retreat. And on top of all of that, he makes random trips to the grocery store, does dishes, puts MY laundry away while I’m sleeping, changes plenty of diapers, gives lots of baths (to Asher, not me… but if the tub were big enough…bowchickabowwow), and he and I recently beat Super Mario Bros on the Wii. I’m sure I’m forgetting some things that he has been doing, but just know that he is doing so much… and is still typically always in a good mood and being the awesome husband and dad that he is. He’s just… I don’t know. For however much I enjoy writing, words just fall short when I try to share my love for my husband. Just know he is absolutely, overwhelmingly amazing. 

Me: I am doing well! The skies have been open for weeks on end — we’ve had SO much rain! The rain always makes me super sore and tired, but I’m managing. Thankfully it helps to keep busy and I am keeping busy! Ash and I are still going to German class on Tuesdays and to our conversation group on Fridays. I’ve felt really behind in my German lately, which has kind of put a damper on my motivation to study at home. I am aware that I need just to suck it up and get to work, but I think I’m just needing a bit of a break. I only wish I didn’t feel so guilty about slowing down for a bit so I could enjoy not worrying about it. Asher and I also go to a women’s Bible study at our church once a week. Since it’s in the morning I typically “don’t want to go” when my alarm wakes me up… but then I’m always really glad that I went once it’s over. It’s a smaller group of ladies (it might get up to a dozen people here and there), and right now we are doing a topical study on Biblical characters who went through major transition. It is extremely applicable, since we are all foreigners to Switzerland (except an old lady named Trudy, but she spent a couple decades in the US and has expressed that she feels a bit out of place since returning to CH). Asher and I are also trying to spend lots of time with our new friends around here. It’s nice to have people whom we see regularly. Asher is learning how to play with all of his little friends and I very much enjoy having other mamas/wives/ladies to talk with. 

Asher: Seriously? Our little boy is beyond perfect. He is so much fun! He is now talking all the time. One of the conversations we had this morning was: 

Asher: (Looking around) Dada!! Dada?! (then looking to me) Dada? 
Me: Dada went to work today. He’s in Zürich. 
A: Go? 
Me: Dada went, right. 
A: Bus?
Me: Yes. Dada went on the bus to Zürich. 
A: Baby baby waaaahhhh waaahhhhhhhhh. (runs to ride-on car toy) Car! Car! Beep! Beep! Beep!
A: (signs Mickey Mouse with his eyebrows up)
Me: You want to watch Mickey?! 

I guess that doesn’t seem like much, but it’s amazing to have back and forth communication with him! And, just so you know, most of our conversations include talking about a bus at some point and typically end in him asking to watch Mickey on TV. hehe 

Asher knows almost all the letters of the alphabet now! He has also kind of started to sing small parts to his favorite song, The Wheels on the Bus. He can now count to 10 and recognize the numbers 1-10 in both English and German. He knows lots of animal sounds and likes to practice them when he is going to sleep or waking up. Consequently, we often hear a tiny little voice behind his closed-bedroom door calling out “hee-haw! hee-haw! Raaaawr! “Hooo! HOO!! Ooo-ooo-ooo-ahh-ah!” hahaha One of my favorite things is that he has now refers to himself in the third person. this. is. adorable! He does it a lot, but for example he does it when we try to brush his teeth (I say “try” because it’s quite a struggle most of the time): He frantically tries to grab his toothbrush while yelling “Ah-doh! Ah-doh!” (“Asher! Asher!”). 

As for Asher’s eyes — he is now basically a full-time glasses-wearer. This is very good news, since the glasses will not only help him see better, but they will also aid his eyes in strengthening and communicating with his brain. Our next appointment with his eye doctor is mid-June and I am already feeling anxious about it. I am SO hopeful that his eyes will already show some improvement. Since vision treatments can be a bit subjective and the wrong treatments can actually cause harm, I’m very anxious to make sure that we get a good report from the doctor. We are putting 1 drop of Atropine in his eye 5 days per week. This doesn’t sound too bad, right? But have you ever tried to put an eye drop in a 1-year-old’s eye? He fights as if I were trying to murder him! I’ve had to do it alone most of the time so far (since Phil goes to work), and I’ve literally had to sit on top of Asher so I can hold him still, hold his arms down with my knees and try hard to keep his head still AND his eye open. The drops can actually be very dangerous, so it’s important that I only get 1 drop in his eye and it’s important that it not go near his mouth or nose or other eye or even his skin… it’s difficult! I decorated a little “Asher’s eyes get a surprise” box that I’m bringing out each morning with his drops now. So far he has received 2 matchbox cars and some stickers in the box. He seems to understand and gets really excited when he sees the box, but he still fights hard and for a long time. But we’re only in our second week, so I’m very hopeful that he will become more compliant and not get so upset. 

As always, I have more to write, but I will stop for now. I have tons of videos that I want to share, but for right now this will be it. Please enjoy Asher being adorable by saying his own name a few times, singing Mater’s hit song “Dad-gum!” and finally ending our little exchange by asking to watch Mickey Mouse. 

 

 

 

Little four eyes

1 May

It all started about a week and a half ago:

My precious little boy was the center of attention. He sat in his Mama’s lap, with his Dada right next to him. He watched the little toys move back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. He pointed to the wheels on a car. He roared his biggest, scariest roar at the tiny lion. He said “B! B!” and pointed to the letter B, which we didn’t even realize he knew. He stared through 3D glasses at a picture, but he didn’t pinch the cats.

“I think he’s fine. I think the problem is muscular, not ocular.” -Doc said.

Great. We knew that. We didn’t think there was a darn thing wrong with his eyes.

“But since he did not see the (3D pictures) and his pediatrician wants me to rule everything out, I need to dilate his eyes and look in the back of them.”

Whatever, we thought.

Dilate the eyes, blahblahblah.

Wait 20 minutes, blahblahblah.

Watch Disney’s “The Jungle Book” in German, again in Mama’s lap with Dada a few inches away. Unfortunately she started it at the opening credits… very slow start for an antsy toddler.

The doctor picked up little lens after little lens and put them up next to my baby’s eyes, shining a little flashlight inside each time. I noticed she seemed to hover, looking deep into his eyes, but at the time I didn’t think much of it. Little flashlight off. *sigh* “He needs glasses,” she said.

What the heck?

Dilate more. (Asher screamed and fought like a wild beast this time)

Wait 30 minutes. (Asher got a snack and went to the street to watch some trams and cars for a while)

Now Kaa is hypnotizing Mogli. Mogli’s eyes are all distorted. I imagine how distorted the world must look to Mogli through those psychedelic eyes.

“Yes. He has blahblahblahblahtopia.” (As if we knew what it meant).

So… Asher’s eyes are having some trouble. His right eye is bad enough for a toddler to get glasses, and that’s his ‘good eye.’ His left eye is much weaker, to the point that his brain has started to ignore the blurry images the left eye sends. His glasses’ lens will each have a different prescription. Since he is young, we may be able to train his ‘bad’ eye to work again in an attempt to strengthen it and keep it from turning a lazy eye and/or basically becoming blind as the brain will continue to ignore it. This condition where the brain ignores the images from one eye is called Amblyopia. Since Asher is so young, the damage should still be reversible. The two options for treatment are: 1. Put a patch over his good eye or 2. Put drops to blur the vision in his good eye — both of these things are in an attempt to block the vision in his stronger eye thus forcing his bad eye to strengthen, develop appropriately, and start communicating again with Asher’s brain.

I’m still learning, so I’m not sure if this is a condition separate from and in addition to the Amblyopia, or if these things are just paired together, but he also has something called Anisohypermetropia. This means (I think) that he is excessively farsighted and that his eyes have different levels of Metropia, again dealing with the fact that his eyes see at different strengths. Does that make sense? I may need to correct this information as I learn more about it, but that’s a start. Hopefully that makes sense. I’m new to this stuff!

There is not a darn thing wrong with glasses, so why does it make me sad that my little boy needs them? Perhaps because he is only 1 teeny tiny year old? I think that’s it. I feel bad about feeling bad, though. I am, of course, incredibly grateful that we are getting Asher what he needs, but I just wish he didn’t need anything. So I’m a little sad. I’m allowing myself to feel a little bit sad so that I can get over the frustration and disappointment that has weighed me down after finding out that my perfect little baby is struggling with something.

I found a great Web site (littlefoureyes.com) with resources for parents whose babies/toddlers/preschoolers need glasses. It has been my every-free-moment source of reading and information since coming home from Asher’s first (of many) eye doctor appointments. I have thumbed through the gallery to “ooh” and “ahhh” at the precious little ones in their glasses. This has been good since it reminds me that glasses are all kinds of cute on little kids and since it helps me to feel less shocked when I look at my 1-year-old, who is now a full-time glasses-wearer. He’s in good company! The site also has a Facebook group. The parents in this group are so friendly and open and ready to talk about all kinds of things. I’ve posted some questions and gotten great help so far. It’s encouraging to communicate with other people who are just now starting this journey of glasses and drops/patches, etc. as well as those who have already been doing this stuff for a while. It’s nice too, just to see so many precious little ones in glasses and patches and to know that, even though I don’t know any babies in glasses, my little guy is not alone. (Random fact: I’ve read some crazy statistics about how many small children probably SHOULD be in glasses. One of the articles I read suggested that 1 in every 20 preschoolers should be wearing glasses!) In addition to the other little kids I’ve learned about online, I’ve also found out that random people I know either have or have had issues similar to Asher’s. A girl who works in the nursery at church (and who will hopefully become Asher’s babysitter!) told me that she also had glasses as a little child AND that she had to wear a patch for a few years to prevent a lazy eye… and now she doesn’t wear glasses at all! Certainly this would be the ultimate goal for Asher, to have completely corrected vision. It is possible! If not, at the very least I was very encouraged to know that the glasses and patch she wore as a child helped her eyes and I hope that, even if Asher is a life-long glasses-wearer, that the drops and glasses will help save the communication between his brain and his left eye. I also learned that my BFF’s sister wore a patch as a baby. She still wears glasses, but she obviously no longer needs a patch.

I hope that this hasn’t sounded too blue. I’ve been so up and down about this stuff — one minute I’m feeling sad and overwhelmed at the thought of what is going on with my baby and how he is going to adjust to full-time glasses and drops and if these things will work or if he will have to wear a patch and how is he going to do when we get his glasses adjusted and when he goes back to the eye doctor again and again andagainandAHHHHH!!!!! But then I move from the small bouts of depression to intense feelings of enormous gratitude for our pediatrician who referred Asher to the eye doctor and to the eye doctor for being thorough and for knowing that he has this random condition and for the medical know-how to (hopefully) correct his condition. Yesterday Asher wore his glasses for long periods of time several times throughout the day. At one point, he and I were playing together on the floor. We were both laughing and he looked right up at me — I saw his beautiful little Asher Michael eyes through his cute blue and green-framed glasses and he flashed his most perfect and precious little Asher Michael smile. That was one of those cheesy-but-wonderful moments that left me feeling like everything is going to be okay. Not “okay” in a “this will do” way, but “okay” in a “this is good, normal and wonderful” way. Phil and I are confident that Asher is in good hands with his doctors here AND we know he is the same amazing little boy that he’s always been, he’s just a bit more accessorized now.

Whew. What an emotional week! It certainly hasn’t helped that good ol’ Aunt Irma decided to be extra terrible to me this visit. Aunt Irma? The way of the woman has come upon me? Lady’s days? Red sky at night AND in the morning? No? Nevermind.

On that note, let me share some pictures of our perfect, precious, adorable, cute, handsome, smart, loving, hilarious little boy sporting his new glasses. There are a few shots of him prepping for his eye exam (by first giving Bear an eye exam to see that it’s not scary), one of him getting fitted for his new glasses, some of him hiding because he was afraid to wear them at first (Saturday), and then several of him wearing his glasses with ease and pride Monday and Tuesday. Here goes:

 

Information about Amblyopia: http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/eyes/amblyopia.html
Information about Anisohypermetropia: http://www.pediatriceyemd.com/service/child/anisohyperopia/ (I’m still trying to figure out the official title of this condition. I think that German and English-speaking people call it basically the same thing, but the spelling differences are confusing me)

And, here is my new favorite Web site: http://littlefoureyes.com