Monday, September 27, 2010

Laughter

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. -e.e. cummings

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Boys Lately

Jack's Acrobatics






Graham's Acrobatics




Brotherly Love


You can tell how much Graham likes his food by how much he kicks!
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Sooner Saturday

Before the game, the boys were up early to go to the farmer's market with Daddy:







Then we spent some time playing at home:










And Uncle Kenny stopped by on his way to Norman!

Jack Discussing Graham

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My 8 Month Old



My little Graham-a-lama is 8 months old today! He is such a mover and a shaker, we are going to have trouble keeping up with him! It's fun for me to see the similarities and differences between my two kiddos. So far, I mainly see differences, such as:

- Jack was extremely colicky from 1-6 or so months of age. Graham is the most laid back, happy baby I've ever seen.
- Jack was a fabulous eater and still is. He would live on broccoli alone if we let him! Graham on the other hand doesn't seem too interested in most foods. He likes yogurt, strawberries, pears, crackers, toast, and Gerber puffs. He tolerates green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, and apples. We have to pretty much force feed him anything else!
- Jack was always a careful baby and toddler. We never really baby proofed our house, other than covering outlets and removing extremely breakable objects from reach. If I redirected him from something, he didn't really try to get it again. Graham is into everything! I can't turn around without realizing another would be death trap in my house that I need to baby proof. He is a climber and I fear he'll be climbing out of the crib long before I'm ready to move him to a bed!
- Jack let go of furniture and stood on his own for the first time around 10 months old. Graham did it at barely 7!
- Jack had two teeth when he turned 8 months old. Graham has 7!
- Jack was saying more words at this age than Graham is.

It is so interesting to watch them grow and to see how they are different. Jack seems to be my thinker. He has amazing language skills, an exceptional memory, and is very imaginative. He loves books and music. He has always been a cuddler! Graham is more physical. I can barely hold on to him long enough to get a hug. He just wants to be on the ground working on his next trick. He loves rolling the ball, practicing walking, and exploring every inch of every room. One thing they both are is sweet. I am so in love with them!!

Graham's milestones this month:
- He is saying four words: mama, dada, bubba, and bye-bye. He just said bye-bye for the first time today, to Paul and Judy in the book Pat the Bunny! It was precious.
- He is trying to stand up from the ground up and is getting close. He is letting go of the furniture and standing with no hands. He attempts to take a step but falls down right away.
- He began clapping and will start doing it when we say pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake!
- He is waving bye-bye

We can't get enough of him!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Conversations with Jack

This is a conversation we had after school today:

Me: Jack, what did you do at school today?
Jack: I played and played and played and played!
Me: Who did you play with?
Jack: Milan! And I gave her lots of love!
Me: How did you give her love?
Jack: I'm not going to tell you that...

Hmmmm...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bedtime With Daddy

*Posted by Randy

A few weeks ago, we welcomed a new sitter into the Biggs house so that we could have a night on the town. I thought I would make her life a little easier by quickly jotting down a few things pertaining to Jack’s bedtime routine… it was somewhere around bullet point number fifteen that I thought I wonder if this is getting a little out of hand? Jack has become a master of extending his routine by making small (and very cute) requests that always seem harmless at the time; naptime, though, has become an at-least-twenty-minute ordeal. My sweet boy’s routine:

- After bath, Jack dons his white tee shirt and boxer briefs (“just like daddy”)
- Jack visits the potty and brushes his teeth
- I turn on the light switch then hoist Jack up to turn off the light using the pull.
- Jack or Sally (his kitty cat) turns on the reading lamp.
- I open the Bible and ask Jack to choose his three verses (Matthew 1:7 is a must...yes, that’s the genealogy verses).
- I choose my three verses (while Jack encourages me to “choose” the other ones he wants).

We take inventory:
- Blankie. Check.
- Other Blankie. Check.
- Sally. Check.
- Owen (kitty cat #2). Check.
- Polly (kitty cat #3). Check
- Big Bible. Check.
- Little Bible. Check.
- Water. Check.

- Jack jumps out of bed and he or Sally turns off the lamp.
- After he climbs back in, I say a prayer for him and for someone we love.
- He says a prayer for his friend, Parker.
- I tell him a story.

Favorites include:
- Spiderman goes to the park
- Spiderman goes to the water park
- Spiderman goes ice skating
- Spiderman buys a new car
- The Mean Little Prince (one that Kristin invented after a particularly *ahem* special day with Jack)
- David and George (a modern play on David and Goliath)

- I sing Jack a song (Silent Night or the OU Alma Mater).
- I put on his covers.
- We do “hugs and kisses”.
- He asks me to get ice for his water.
- Yes… I get ice for his water.
- We do “’nother hug” (and ‘nother kiss too… his hugs never come without a kiss).
- I put on the covers again (which he has already kicked off).
- We say our “goodnights” and “I love you’s”.

The best part for me is our Bible reading. It used to be one verse and a few other books, but Jack just wanted more Bible, so now we have ditched the books altogether. I noticed once that I paused to clear my throat, and I guess Jack thought I wanted him to “read.” The next thing I knew, he was spouting off the genealogy verses one after another. We’ve become intimately familiar with Uzziah, Jehoram, Jotham, and plenty of other Old Testament figures I had never heard of before… in fact, the friend the Mean Little Prince visits in the story is named Jehosaphat. He has been memorizing books since he was two years old, and it seems like he won’t be satisfied until he’s got the whole “Little Bible” down pat. I will continue to relish every prolonged minute in the meantime.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jack Reciting Matthew 1:7-11

Jack loves reading the Bible. Loves it! Seriously, it is one of his favorite activities and we have to limit his Bible time each night. As part of his bedtime routine, usually he'll choose a couple of verses to read and Randy will choose a few as well. At some point he chose to have Randy read Matthew 1:7-11 (part of the genealogy) and now it seems to be his favorite passage. Not the most exciting verses, but oh well! I still find his recitation skills impressive!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Jack and Singulair

I've been wanting to write about our experience with Singulair for awhile now, but I've been so busy dealing with the situation that there wasn't much time left to write about it.

Last September, I became concerned about Jack's allergies. It seemed that he was always congested, sneezing, and had red, itchy eyes much of the time. His coughing had been keeping him and us awake at night off and on for a few months at that time. We had tried Claritin daily but it wasn't helping. Finally, I called Jack's pediatrician in hopes that he might do some allergy testing to identify the problem. Instead, he recommended that Jack take a combination of Singulair and Zyrtec daily. He seemed sure that if Claritin did not work, this would. For whatever reason, Randy and I didn't question him, but filled the prescription and he began taking both medications each night at bedtime.

A couple of weeks later, Randy and I heard a report about Singulair being linked to suicide in older children and teenagers. Obviously this concerned us, so we contacted Dr. A again, who assured us that these types of side effects were extremely rare and to just let him know if we noticed anything unusual in Jack's behavior. We thought that sounded reasonable.

A couple weeks after that, I forgot all about it. I blame it on being pregnant and preparing for a natural/drug free birth. It was a very busy time. That isn't an excuse, but it is the only explanation for how we failed to see the link in his later behavior.

At the beginning of January, Jack began displaying some odd behavior. When I took him to music school for the first time after Christmas Break, he broke down into tears and just did not want to go. This was the first time he had EVER cried when leaving me. He has just always been the kid to say, "see ya, Mom!" and enjoyed any and every social opportunity to the fullest. This began happening every time we took him to school. I began to think that he must not like school, the teachers must not be doing a good job, etc. Then after a few weeks, it began at the gym...then at church. We didn't know what to think. He even began saying things to me at home like, "Mommy, don't go to the store and leave me here." "Mommy, don't take Graham and Daddy and leave me!" It was heartbreaking to know that he was afraid, but we just didn't know what could cause such a fear!

Around this time, Jack also began throwing some monstrous temper tantrums. At first they were severe but manageable. But over the course of a few months, these tantrums turned into what I called, "rages." When Jack would go into one of these episodes, it did not matter what you said to him, there was no getting him out of it. He would be screaming at the top of his lungs as if he could not stop. He even said to me sometimes that he wanted to stop crying but he couldn't. I felt so helpless and because he would always snap out of these episodes, it seemed possible to me that this was normal and that it was just a discipline problem.

Lastly, the sleep problems began. Now, Jack has always been an expert sleeper. Beginning around 9 months old, he slept for 12 hours each night and we never heard a peep out of him. Even when he moved into his big boy bed, he never got up or came out of his room. Beginning in June, he all of the sudden began crying at night. We would go in his room and he wouldn't be able to explain what was wrong. He would fall back asleep. Then after a week of that, he began wanting the hall light on when he slept. Then he wanted his door open. And finally, he wasn't able to sleep at all unless one of us stayed with him in his room. He would just scream and cry if we left him.

Some other changes were so gradual that we see them now looking back, but didn't quite catch them at the time. He became disinterested in things he used to enjoy, like singing, playing on his swing set, coloring, etc. He would really only like to play with his cars and trucks. I thought this was just a phase. He periodically complained that his back hurt and that his hands felt funny. He had constant ear infections.

Finally, I decided we were beyond the point of being able to manage his behavior on our own. I didn't know if we need to see a psychiatrist or if he perhaps had a food allergy that was messing with his body chemistry, or perhaps he had some kind of mood disorder. I was scared. The pediatrician was no help. After researching online for a bit, it occurred to me to check out the drugs he was taking (DUH!!). There it was. Page after page, site after site of parents' stories about their kids and Singulair. The list of side effects is astounding:
- mood swings
- depression
- anxiety
- agitation
- hostility
- anger
- excessive worry
- abnormal fears
- hyperactivity
- insomnia
- night terrors
- suicidal thoughts
- otitis (ear infection)
- fatigue
- back cramping
- leg cramping
- parasthesia (numbness and tingling)

The list goes on and on, but does it sound familiar? We immediately took Jack off of both Singulair and Zyrtec. While things actually got worse for a few days (I think he was going through withdrawals), within a week we were noticing HUGE changes. He was beginning to sing again, to be excited about life, to want to go places, see people, do things...he was just himself. However, the side effects lingered for awhile. I would say that after a month, he was pretty much back to normal. He was sleeping through the night by himself, with the door shut by then. His "rages" are GONE. He immediately began going to the gym and church without screaming, although he was still nervous and anxious about it until about a week ago. Yesterday when we left the gym he said, "I love the gym, it is sooooo fun!" Now that is my little boy!

I cannot believe that we didn't connect the dots sooner. But, it was all very gradual up until about April or May. He began taking it in September and we didn't notice anything unusual at all until late December or early January.

I should mention that Dr. A insisted that if Jack's symptoms were not fully gone within two weeks of stopping the medicine, then that wasn't the culprit. He gave us the number for a psychiatrist. We sought a second opinion in Dr. Garrison at Mercy Edmond and he said it could take a month or more for the residual effects to go away. Children will remember their fears, nightmares, and anxieties even though they are not currently being effected by them and that can take time to "reprogram." His estimate was right on, so we'll be sticking with him.

After mentioning this to friends and posting it on facebook, I have heard of many similar stories. This is not rare. It may not happen to all children but it is certainly not rare. If you know anyone with a child on Singulair, please share this information with them. It is terrifying to know that your child has been living in a "dark place" when he is too young to vocalize it. I can't even imagine if we had put him on it sooner. We may not have known his personality well enough to notice the change. He could have been diagnosed with some kind of psychiatric disorder!

Although our experience with Singulair was an absolute nightmare, I am so very thankful that the solution was simple and that we didn't have a bigger issue on our hands. I'm thankful that I have people around me that support me and believed me when I said that I didn't think this was just who Jack was. I'm so thankful to have my amazingly sweet and loving little boy back! He is the most outgoing, social, friendly, curious little boy I know and I missed him so much for those few months!

I should also mention, we are using local honey from the farmer's market to control Jack's allergies now and it is working very well! We will certainly be more careful with drugs in the future. It is amazing how uneducated doctors are about some of these medicines.

Thanks to everyone for supporting Randy and me through this and for keeping Jack in your prayers! You have no idea how much it means to us.

Here are some links for more information:

Medications.com Side Effects Message Board

Parents For Safety

FDA Press Release