You will have significant experiences.
I hope that you will write them down and keep a record of
them, that you will read them from time to time and refresh
your memory of these meaningful and significant things.
Some may be funny. Some may be significant only to you.
Some of them may be sacred and quietly beautiful. Some
may build upon another until they represent a lifetime of
special experiences.
- Gordon B Hinckley

Friday, April 13, 2012

Changes...(Everett is 2 1/2 years old)

Dear Family and Friends,

With the changes piling up here in our family, I thought it was probably time (or well overdue) to send out an Everett update.  Change is a constant that I am constantly fighting.  I thought that after everything we went through with Everett that I would be more adaptable to change, but alas…I am not.  Some things never change.  These past few months have been stressful and our emotions have been running high.  But we are finally settling in…changes-and-all.    

Change #1:  For those of you who received our Christmas card, you probably noticed that we moved…two weeks before Christmas.  It wasn’t the best timing, but it was totally out of our control.  We did the best we could and even got our Christmas tree up and (slightly) decorated in our new place.  Now we are all moved in, boxes unpacked, pictures hung, routines established, and are making new memories in our new home.  We have gone from a tri-story, two bedroom with a tiny and noisy backyard to a single story, three bedroom with a large yard and land to spare.  It is awesome!!!  Almost immediately we noticed a HUGE change in Everett.  Our tri-story house was very difficult for his mobility and independence, as he couldn’t go anywhere without encountering tile stairs.  Our old house was “baby gate central.”  So it was either play in the living room, play in his bedroom, or play in the backyard (which also had brick stairs).  Shortly after moving, this child went from cooped up to crazy!  He started running, jumping (kinda), and began to play independently when he hadn’t done any of those things before.  It was as if he grew up from toddler to little boy overnight.  He adjusted so easily.  Now we spend 2-3 hours outside daily!  I never knew how much we were missing with having an unusable backyard.  I’m learning about gardening and planting and we hope to have chickens by summer.  Yes…I said chickens!!!

Christmas Morning

Change #2: In the last update, I mentioned that Everett needed glasses.  Well, that whole project was an exercise in his will and my patience!  He absolutely refused to wear his glasses.  What started out as simply removing them only moments after I put them on turned into full force running away from me screaming when I was holding them.  He even hid them around the house when I wasn’t looking.  I tried everything…EVERYTHING…to keep them on his face.  I tried TV, I tried books, I tried Oreos and toys.  I tried them with the strap and without the strap.  I tried wearing my glasses and pointing out other people’s glasses.  Nothing worked.  The idea was that eventually he would realize that he saw better with them on and he would begin to leave them on…HA!  That was not our experience.  So after four months of a back and forth battle over the glasses, I called the doctor and asked that she recheck the prescription.  Come to find out, the reason Everett wasn’t wearing the glasses was that he no longer needed the glasses.  Somewhere in between the exam room and trying to get him to wear them, Everett’s eyes drastically changed and he no longer needs glasses…for now anyway.  His astigmatism greatly improved.  It is still there but isn’t severe enough to warrant glasses in a kid who fervently fights wearing them.  So yay!  I’m relieved.  And I hope with all my heart that is something we never fight through again. 

The glasses...

Change #3: On a regular day here at home while working with Everett’s physical therapist Kate, Everett stood up on his tip toes while barefoot and we noticed some odd curling of his toes.  Basically, when he stood tip toed, his big and second toe stayed on the ground while his third, fourth and fifth toes curled under and were touching the bottom of his foot.  We both said “Huh, that’s new” at the same time.  Everett has become increasingly knock-kneed over the last few months so these two things combined had us thinking that something was going on orthopedically.  At Kate’s suggestion, I made an appointment with our pediatrician and he confirmed that Everett’s feet were definitely hypotonic (meaning they are looser than they should be) while his toes were hypertonic (tighter than they should be).  All caused by loose Achilles’ tendons, basically, Everett’s arches collapse under weight.  The inner malleolus (the bone that sticks out on the inside part of your foot/ankle) touches the ground when he walks.  Not normal!  This collapse is causing his feet to rotate inward, which is causing his knees to rotate inward, which is causing overstretching of his hip joints etc. etc.  Everett has always fallen more than most children.  We believed his balance issues to be due to his vision and thought that the glasses would help…not so much.  When we went to the pediatric orthopedist he told us that Everett’s balance issues were due to the feet problem.  Essentially he is only walking on his inner foot because he is rotated inward so badly.  The lack of contact with the ground is what is making him fall.  Secondary to this is also an inability to jump and walk up stairs independently (something his 18 month old friends can already do proficiently).  So, this new diagnosis means that Everett gets braces for his legs.  Insert my own anxiety attack here.  They are specially designed and molded to his feet.  They not only correct, but permanently treat the problem…physically forcing a change in the bone structure of his foot.  I didn’t have the courage to ask how long he’s going to have to wear them yet.  One step at a time (literally). 

The fortunate thing is that this condition is usually diagnosed when children begin playing sports and they experience excruciating pain while jumping and running.  But by then, permanent treatment is too late.  You can only support the arch but its actual shape can’t be changed.  At Everett’s young age, we can actually fix the problem.  His pediatrician was surprised that he was walking, running and attempting to jump.  He says the condition is very painful and toddlers are typically reluctant to play hard on their legs.  But we noticed quite some time ago that Everett’s pain tolerance is frighteningly high.  This kid takes hard hits and doesn’t even cry.  It sort of scares us sometimes as we think there is a real possibility that he will break a bone someday and we won’t know it.  He just doesn’t feel pain, or deals with it very differently, compared to other kids his age.  He’s a tough cookie!

In just one week of wearing the braces, Everett is already balancing on one foot, kicking a ball, walking up and down stairs independently, and is closer to jumping than he’s ever been.  I’m a true believer that these braces are going to make a HUGE difference in his mobility!  The only drawback was having to buy all new shoes for him as the braces don’t fit into his old shoes.  He went from a size 5 to a size 9 wide in order to accommodate them.  They make his feet tired and sore.  He often asks for his “baces” to be removed.  But with the immediate results we are seeing, I’m on board with this for the long haul. 

The braces...
Change #4: Everett moved to a big boy bed (sigh) a few months ago.  He was dangerously close to climbing out of his crib so it was time for the transition.  I’d like to say it has been smooth sailing, but it has been a challenge.  The toddler bed has offered him the ability to get up frequently (I think his record is 23 times in one night) and because we have lever door handles, he can also get out of his room.  All this aside, he loves his new bed.  While hanging onto the side, he jumps and jumps and jumps.  And after a few weeks of waking up painfully early, he finally adjusted back to his usual wakeup time and now plays in his room for about half an hour before he needs attention.  This makes mama very happy! 

We are Dale Jr. fans in this house,
and E knows that Sundays are NASCAR days

Change #5: At the urging of Everett’s other therapist Marla, we joined a Parent Participation Program about six months ago.  It is kinda like preschool but with moms (or dads) present.  It is structured play, group songs, snack time, play time, parent discussion and overall fun for parents and kids.  We love the program!  Marla thought it would be a good idea to have Everett interacting with children in a group setting to stimulate his language.  It has been quite the transformation!  He is now speaking three word sentences.  For example, “Mama, I love you (oh that’s four actually!),” “I go poo poo,” “Want cheese please,” “Jack made mess,” and a ton of other endearing toddler phrases.  He is singing songs now too, which is pretty neat.  He gives me the first line or two and then I finish singing them for him.

On March 16th, we celebrated the second anniversary of Everett’s homecoming!  A very special day indeed for our entire family, we spent 30 minutes trying to take the annual picture of Everett’s head being held in Zac’s hand.  Last year’s picture was easily achieved but this year…well, we got one good picture out of the whole shoot!  But I think it is pretty neat to see physically how far Everett has come in his 730 days at home.  In another big moment for our family, just 10 days before Everett’s second “home-iversary,” Zac and I made the final payment on our first CHLA bill.  Talk about timing!  Almost two years to the day, we paid off our first bill.  It feels pretty good :-)

We were blessed in getting to celebrate Easter here in our home.  For the first time since we were married, we hosted both our families for the holiday.  I think my mom would laugh a little as I wasn’t a very prepared host (our china still had the price tags on it…so she had to wash all the dishes when she got here, plus help me set the table, and provided all the Easter decorations), but we are SO THANKFUL to have the space to finally have both our families under the same roof.  It was a great celebration! 
At the Great Egg Hunt

So that’s where we are today…new house, new school, new bed, new braces!  I’m sure the changes will keep on coming.  But one thing that never changes is the love we carry for our son, our family, all of you (our precious friends), and our gratefulness for our lives!  Change, while sometimes hard, has a way of bringing blessings that we never dreamed possible.


The Bollinger Family

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