Hallmark, Take Me Away.

We have been watching a lot of Hallmark Channel lately.  A lot. We have. That’s right Dave loves Hallmark Christmas Movies as much as I do. In fact, it was he who coined the phrase I used as the title for this post one special night at dinner when it felt anything but idyllic.

Hallmark has nailed the formula. Pretty people, festive scenery and one-of-three story lines that always end up with a happy ending. Even when someone is “struggling,” they manage to make the challenge, well, something right out of Hallmark. The foster child is running a coat drive for the less fortunate like him. The parentless adult child (every single movie, right?) has siblings who like to have snowball fights with cocoa afterwards instead of real life where resentment is harbored and eye-rolls are the norm. You know what I mean, right?

I’d imagine if Hallmark did a movie on my family, we’d show up on the drama-version on Movies and Mysteries channel instead of the happier Holiday Romances. More strife and more challenges but still beautiful. Stressful but Successful, as I always say, right?

Lately I do feel like the movie reel is rolling on our life. Kelsey is struggling. She’s been sick for a month, having trouble in school and going through changes with some of the main-stays in her life.  We changed churches and we changed physical therapists…twice!  She loves school but is finding the frustrations and challenges harder to deal with than in the past. She’s been refusing to work, hitting her teachers (and family!) and throwing things. From what we can tell, her inabilities are catching up with her heart. She wants to do what her peers do but she can’t. Her teachers seem to be having trouble finding what makes her tick more than in the past.

Her inability to focus on tasks, her incessant chatter and her impulsivity has led us to explore the world of ADHD. That’s right. Another diagnosis. Turns out ADHD and epilepsy are closely linked.  Oh yeah, and Cerebral Palsy and ADHD are also often seen in conjunction with one another. Throw in a stroke and you’ve got yourself an atypical brain for sure.

So, in addition to Topamax for her seizures and amoxicillin for her sinus infection, Kelsey started on a stimulant to manage the ADHD symptoms she’s exhibiting. Oh and those symptoms are what we’ve been experiencing for 6 years. The ones that make me pull my hair out over the summer and the ones that turned that same hair super-grey years prior. We have always seen these symptoms. It’s just that this school year is the first where other adults seemed to highlight her short-comings instead of chalking it up to her initial diagnoses.  And for that, I’m grateful. In fact for others to see what we’ve been trying to explain her whole life is validating. But it doesn’t make it easier.

We will see where all this goes with new medications and new experiences, but in the meantime we all really use a little Christmas right now.

Luckily Ben puts us back in the Hallmark category.  He’s happy as a clam in middle school, praise Jesus! He’s winning character awards for helping others and ending himself up on the honor roll for his hard work.  We also managed to fit in some pretty spectacular festive fun this week with wreath making, holiday concerts and small-town shopping and parades.

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Our annual dinner of spaghetti and pizza in our town’s main street Italian restaurant before the annual Santa parade was last night. Kelsey was still fighting the cold, was overwhelmed by the crowds, by the chilly temps and by the noise. Dave didn’t even get to see the first group walk by because he was heading back to the car to calm Kelsey down. It was anything but what you’d see in the Hallmark version. Other kids (including my own) were jumping up and down, catching thrown candy canes and waving to their friends and neighbors in town. But Kelsey was crying and heading to the car in her most adorable festive frock. My instincts were to immediately feel sad. To look at everyone else with jealousy and resentment. To think “woe is me.” But, in true Hallmark form, I picked myself up and thought about ways to make it better next year. And then Dave and I came home, put the kids to bed and turned on Christmas in Evergreen on, you guessed it, the Hallmark Channel. We laughed at the blissful preposterousness of it all and toasted in front of the fire and Christmas tree.  Hallmark, take me away…

Merry Christmas, friends! May your season be full of health and happiness.

Love,

Kim

“He who has health has hope; he who has hope has everything.” -Thomas Carlyle

 

This is 41.

Today is my birthday and I thought a good time to reflect on my year.  It sucked.  Honestly I can say, without a doubt, that my 41st year was the worst year of my life.  Let me recap.  My daughter had a seizure a week after my 40th birthday that caused paralysis of her left side that lasted for six months.  She has still not fully recovered and I’m not sure she ever will. The doctors are stumped…what’s new?

Then my son needed to have a 12 hour surgery to fully reconstruct his internal organs.  That surgery took six weeks to recover from and a lasting, life altering situation that he deals with multiple times a day and night.

After that, just as he was learning his new normal, my daughter had a seizure on her 6th birthday that set us back again with development.  That was crushing and I’m still pissed because birthdays are precious to me, and if it can happen on a birthday it can happen any time and the possibility of a seizure has us worried on the reg.

Soon after her birthday, summer came and it was a lot of care-taking which definitely takes years off my life, but was virtually catastrophe-free. BUT, Kelsey did have surgery to remove hardware from a surgery the year before.  So more anesthesia, immobility and wound care.  Oh and they left a staple in her back which required removal post-hospitalization.  But that’s all catastrophe-free for us and “no big deal” when it comes to our rap sheet.

I could write a book.  But would this year of my life be one chapter or five? Who knows.

As I look ahead, I see healthy kids (KNOCK ON WOOD) who are doing well in school.  They have off today and tomorrow (lucky me!) and we will spend the day shopping and dining with friends and family.  It also happens to be my husband’s birthday and we were lucky enough to get away for the weekend to celebrate.

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I can also look back and recognize that even through all those trials this past year there were also so many things to be grateful for.  And that’s life isn’t it? If we don’t know this at 41 than we may never figure it out.  Life is about every up and down along the way and how we choose to focus on it makes the days we experience full of gratitude or dismay.

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So Happy Monday, happy birthday to me and my love, and in honor of Rosh Hashanah, “Leshana tovah tikatevee v’tichatemee,” which means, ‘may you be written and sealed for a good year.’  I love it.

Xo,

Kim

 

 

 

Summer Manifesto

I have mixed feelings about summer every year.  Being a stay-at-home mom of two special kiddos, summer means non-stop entertainment, nursing and care-taking.  At school, Kelsey alone has about 10 people taking care of her.  Someone to help her learn, someone different to help her play outside, another person to help her eat her lunch…go to the bathroom, communicate, draw and have fun.  Ben has some extra teachers too. But in the summer, that’s me.  Moi. Their one-and-only.  I’m a schedule girl.  I like routines.  So the freedom of time in the summer makes me a little twitchy.  For that reason, I have written our Summer Manifesto to help us survive and enjoy these oh-so-precious moments.

  1. Slow down.  We typically do a lot of rushing.  Rushing to get ready. To leave. To come home. Hurry up! Let’s gooo! This summer, we will try and stop to smell the roses.  We will take our time.  The days are long! This is not an aphorism.  In the summer this is TRUTH.  There is no point in rushing.
  2. Clean up.  In regards to not rushing, we will clean up after ourselves. Yes the children are making memories but they’re also giving me a migraine!!  I don’t like messes! There I said it! Disorder makes me feel out-of-control and I don’t like it.  So with all the time we are savoring, we will clean up before we leave the house. I’ll make Ben grab the fifty things he brings into the car when we return home to put away.  I’ll make Kelsey clean up her own mess before making a new one because this is something she CAN do, but it’s usually just easier to do it myself, so I do it…or ignore it for days as my anxiety quickly rises.
  3. Learn to deal with messes.  #2 above sounds ideal.  But I know it ain’t going to happen.
  4. We will be productive and active in the morning and sloths in the afternoon.  Period.
  5. We will have screen time and that’s ok. I’m raising kids in 2019! Let me live my life! And if you’re better than me at limiting it to an hour a day, that’s amazing.  I’m better at stopping a seizure and catheterizing kids.  You do you and I’ll do me.
  6. I will take off from work in July and August. Ha!  I know I just started my business, Kim Larrick Concierge, in June but what can I say? I’m the boss and I make the rules.  My regular summer hustle is too much to handle…I can’t have the side-hustle too. Contact me to set up September consultations! ;-))))
  7. Let the summer school work go.  In case you hadn’t heard, Kelsey is repeating kindergarten.  After the number of seizures, hospital visits, paralysis and prematurity, we decided to have her repeat kindergarten.  Therefore she is ahead of the game and I won’t worry about facts and sight words and the rest.  Ben will have tutoring and that will be enough to fight the summer slump.  I’m taking it off my plate of guilt!
  8. Appreciate the health.  It’s really easy for me to get caught up in how hard our life is.  But helping Kelsey in and out of the pool 18 times in an hour because she’s healthy and strong is much easier than stopping those seizures and being in the hospital.  And I will try to focus on how Ben is healthy and free from constant infections instead of all the hardships he has to tackle on a daily basis to stay healthy.
  9. Play.  I don’t like to play.  Uno is fun once a week but other than that, no thanks. But I know the kids want it from me.  And I do feel “productive” when I play with them and I like feeling productive so I will try to play with them once a day.  LOL! I’m a mess.
  10. RELAX.  As you can tell, I’m uptight.  Type A.  A Perfectionist.  I’ll try and fight all that and relax with my kids because I can already feel Ben growing up and maturing, and I know I’ll miss these precious summers when I felt crazy and stressed. I may have a full plate, but my heart and hands are full of love and happiness.
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Last Summer’s Fun!

 

I hope everyone enjoys their summer too!

Love,

Kim

Kim Larrick Concierge

Ladies and Gentlemen! I’d like to announce my newest venture!  As you may know, Retail Therapy has always been one of my favorite ways to cope with this challenging life I lead. It’s a healing activity for me, albeit a tough one on our bank account.  So, I’m going to put my talents to a more useful purpose and shop FOR YOU!

Do you hate shopping?  The lines, going to multiple stores, picking through racks!?

Are you short on time and shopping is at the bottom of your list?

Do you love parties but hate planning and finding supplies for them?

Do you want to spruce up your space but don’t know where to start?

Do you need the perfect outfit for an event?

Do you need help looking put-together for work or social events?

Well, I’m your girl!

For $20 per hour, I will help you plan and shop for your home, your party and your closet.  Attention to details, organization and creativity are all things that I excel at.  

HOME-I will come to your house, look at your space, discuss what you like and dislike, and make a plan for helping you to find the perfect pieces to make your home feel warm and inviting, and look wonderful.  I’ll go on the hunt for the pieces and come back to help you decorate.

PARTY- It’s all in the details and themes are my jam!  I help you plan, shop for supplies, and organize the timeline and party prep.  I can make your Pinterest Party Dreams a reality!

CLOSET-I’ll help you assess and organize what you have, get rid of what you don’t need and find the right items and accessories to make you feel confident about what to wear each day!

Contact me today and we will get started! I can’t wait to help you!

Love,

Kim

kim.larrick@gmail.com

443.996.4689

Permanent

Awhile back, we received a Permanent Handicap hang tag in the mail.  And it’s been hanging here, in the mudroom–not the car–for months. Let me explain.

Not long after Ben started walking, we begrudgingly realized that a handicap tag for parking would be necessary.  As he got heavier, carrying him was not an option, and you don’t always want to get a stroller out for a six year old to go into the library.  We filled out the necessary forms and got a doctor’s note for a temporary handicap tag.  It really was a life saver.

Then Kelsey came along and the tag became more for her than for Ben.  You have to renew the tag every couple of years and we did.  But on the regular, the tag would take up it’s daily residence on my rearview mirror in the van.

We are very strict about using it only when the kids are in the car. But it gets used a lot.  At school when the drop off line of cars is around the parking lot and our exodus requires a stroller, walker and two kids who move differently than their peers. At amusement parks when walking the length of two football fields just to get into a park is not an option–not that we visit amusement parks on the reg but that’s another post.  Ha! We are deeply disappointed when we forget to bring it on trips that require flying and renting a car for vacation (we’ve done this too many times to count).  Seriously, I have shed a tear for that before. We need the tag and the right to park close–and we use it.  It’s a necessary part of our life.

The permanent version came in the mail not long after Ben’s surgery in mid-February and it’s been hanging on the mail slot since then.  It’s still there because admitting we are a permanently disabled family is tough. But we are. THEY are.  And they will likely need a close parking spot for the rest of their lives.

But when that tag came in the mail, that we didn’t apply for, it stung.  The word PERMANENT–it stung.  How did “they” know we need this? Does the MVA read my blog? Do they follow me on Instagram? Who let them onto the fact that we had another bullet point on our list of reasons we need a handicap tag?

When Ben was getting back to normal, but still very much recovering from surgery, we took both kids to their weekly speech therapy appointment.  The image of us was the epitome of what one would claim disabled.  It was laughable. And depressing.

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Womp womp

BUT, as time does heal all wounds, we are getting back to our normal with new routines in place.  Ben is KILLING it as I knew he would with his new responsibilities after his surgery.  To respect his privacy, I will keep it at that but we are super-impressed with how he’s handled such life-altering changes.

Kelsey will turn SIX tomorrow and is loving life.  She still has a tiny bit of paralysis left over in her left thumb from her seizure in October, but it doesn’t affect her too much.  She is sunshine-y and sweet and as cute as can be.  PTL (Praise the Lord, Mom)!!!

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At Kelsey’s Princess Birthday Party

Miraculously, Kelsey’s seizure had some benefits.  Because she didn’t have the left side to catch herself when she would stumble, her independent walking has become smoother and more controlled as she developed the core muscles while she tried not to fall.  Go-freaking-figure.

So the MVA thinks we are in need of a permanently disabled handicap tag.  I wouldn’t argue that one bit, but it stings a little less when life, itself, is a bit brighter and their disabilities are in the shadows.

I’ll get around to hanging the tag in the van someday, but for now remembering that everything in life is temporary, despite what the MVA thinks, is fine by me.

 

Love,

Kim

Numb

We are almost two weeks out from surgery.  Things could be better but I know they could also be much worse.  I’m really finding myself a bit numb in response to it all.  We have been preparing for such monumental surgeries and life-changes for eleven years and (luckily?) my brain has trouble feeling truly depressed about it.

Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t all Pollyanna and sunshine over here.  Far from it.  But when I think of the magnitude of what the surgery accomplished and where it leaves Ben, not only in the short-term but for life–I would predict (knowing myself better than anyone) that I’d be moping around, crying a lot and complaining a ton.  But I’m not.  And I think it’s because I’m numb.  Well that and Lexapro.  And Pinot.  And daily naps.  And ALL the food.

I feel the magnitude.  I see it.  I nurse it.  I worry about it.  But it’s not collapsing me like some of our other news, surgeries and diagnoses have done in the past.  Numb.  This seems like a ridiculous comparison but I’m currently reading the Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (2018).  The main character talks about becoming numb to some of the atrocities that he witnesses in the time he is in the concentration camp.  I’M IN NO WAY RELATING MY LIFE TO A CONCENTRATION CAMP PEOPLE–just the numbness to Ben and Kelsey’s relentless struggles.  It could also be described as acceptance, which is something I struggled with for awhile but have achieved, I suppose.  I tried to cry and let it out on Sunday when I learned Dave had to go back to work the next day…the nerve! (love ya babe and how hard you work for us!)…and that our one-on-one time at home convalescing for five weeks would begin, but I couldn’t.  Not as much as I wanted to anyway.  Numb.

All of that being said, Ben is recovering as he should be.  He has daily pain, but most of it is handled quickly with a heating pad and his medicine.  He’s sleeping a lot, but we just got word from his surgeon that backing down on the Valium he’s taking is a good idea which should help the lethargy.  He’s moving a little more each day, but he’s nervous to do so.  Apparently all of this is exactly as it should be from our surgeon’s perspective so that’s reassuring.  Ben’s appetite is nowhere near it’s normal, but it’s increasing.  He’s playing a little more too which is good to see.  It’s hard to remember to be grateful at a time like this, but it’s such a relief that there doesn’t seem to be any infections brewing or complications from the surgery either.

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Pathetic picture of reality

I do feel sadness that Ben has to deal with this. He knew why he was having surgery but at 11, there’s no way to truly understand it.  Bottom line it was to protect his kidneys.  Who cares about their kidneys at 11?  Even as an adult, unless there’s an acute problem, we adults don’t protect all our organs as much as we probably could.  So imagine being a preteen and having to endure all this crap!? He doesn’t seem to complain about it as much as I worry about it, though so that’s a relief. It’s also bittersweet.

Another thing that I constantly worry about is making Ben’s time home productive.  He is missing so much school (six weeks at least!).  I will beat myself up in the very near future that I’m not forcing him to read and practice math on the reg.  I even considered having him do a project for the Science Fair during this time at home so that he could be involved…and then I thankfully reconsidered. Ha! The county in which we live will eventually send a Home/Hospital teacher to the house for a couple of days a week to do some instruction.  I’m not sure how it will all play out, but hopefully enough will be accomplished in their time together that this can be one thing to take of my worry list. Doubtful though.  When the kids aren’t at school I am ALWAYS critiquing myself in how little I make them do educationally.  I am no Tiger mom by any stretch.  And that stresses me out.

Okay, I guess I’m not completely numb.

So, could be better. Could be worse.  Patience is not a virtue for me so I’ll try to remember to put my head down, soak in the numb, and hold on for the next month or two.  And to look forward to the next season which is hopefully less awful and more amazing.  Hell, I’d settle for mundane right now.

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Thanks, Tribe.  I couldn’t do it without you either.

Xo,

KIM

Final Update

Good evening!

The Larricks are now safely all at home, ready to hunker down for the latest winter storm. Springing from the hospital is not the end of this journey for them. Quite the opposite. It’s the beginning of a long road of healing and learning a new normal…again.

This is where I give the helm back to Kimmie. If you want regular updates, be sure to follow her on Instagram (@kimlarrick) and/or Facebook. Now, I just return to observer and supporter of this amazing family.  They handle so much with grace and love…and a heaping dose of humor (as Kels would say, “womp, womp!”).  It’s been my joy to be able to help in some small way to carry a bit of their load. Thank you all for your patience. Please join me in continuing to pray for Ben’s recovery and the whole family’s resilience. As much as they endure, they truly are a gift.

I love you, Larrick family!