Friday, November 21, 2014

SB Christmas Card Exchange!

Don't forget to sign up!



If you want to participate, then email me at sbcardexchange(at)gmail(dot)com

Send me your name, address, and the name of your child with SB (if you are a parent). I will be taking addresses throughout the month. I divide the list into groups and then you will be given a list of addresses of fellow SB families to send a card to, typically about 15 cards. And then anxiously check your mail each day in December as you receive several cards a day! So fun!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Caleb's fight with anxiety



I've mentioned before that Caleb struggles with anxiety. Really he's always been a somewhat anxious kid but it has gotten worse and worse over the last couple of years. We have done all that we could to try and help him. We pray. We read scriptures. We distract. We pray some more. We push him to do things even when he's nervous. We try to give him control when we can. Sometimes those things work, but more often they don't. They are working less and less these days.

It's been incredibly frustrating for all of us. This sweet boy is riddled with anxiety. He doesn't know why. We don't know why. Most of the time, his nervousness makes absolutely no sense. He knows he's worried about things that he shouldn't be. His hands shake. He cries. He won't eat. He throws up.

There aren't words to describe the battle I see raging within him.

Sigh.

It's truly heartbreaking. He's only 9.

We finally tried medicine. We put Caleb on a low-dose of Zoloft. We tried Zoloft for about 8 weeks and this medicine brought Caleb's anxiety to an entirely new level. It was awful. He couldn't leave the house. Even doing things that he would normally enjoy like wheelchair basketball would cause such a fit of anxiety that he just couldn't get past it. We tried to go to a pumpkin carving party at a friend's house. Caleb wouldn't get out of the car. He threw up. The smallest thing would cause significant anxiety. Even a grandparent coming to the house would send Caleb over the edge. The peak of the Zoloft nightmare was Caleb's anxiety got so bad that he couldn't even go out on Halloween. So ya know that awesome Wild Kratt's Createrra I made....well it never got used...it's collecting dust in the garage. Oh the irony.

He's lost 6 pounds. He was already thin.

So we took him off Zoloft because that stuff was making everything way worse. The child barely smiled for weeks. He face was fallen all the time. He had no peace. He was truly miserable. We've all been miserable. He's been off the Zoloft for over a week now and he has improved some. Still anxious of course, but we are closer to his "normal" anxiety and not in the crazy zone anymore.

We met with a counselor this week. I really like her and I'm optimistic that she will be able to help Caleb over time. We may try a new medicine once he's been off the Zoloft for a bit longer. I want to give him whatever tools he needs to fight this. We will fight this. He will get his life back.

This is really hard for me to share. It's been a really rough time for our family. It's so much easier to share the good, the pretty, the perfect. But I know that we don't struggle alone. I know that our honesty and transparency can benefit others. So I'm shining a light on something painful. As a mom, my heart breaks for Caleb. I hate it. I'm frustrated by it. It's maddening.

But we are pressing forward. We are doing what we can to help him. While I feel like our lives are on hold right now, we are still taking one day at a time.


Some of our favorite verses:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil 4:6) 

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.“ (Matt. 6:34)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)



Monday, November 10, 2014

Weekend retreat with our church family

We had a super fun weekend at a beautiful retreat center with our church family. The boys were so excited and we had a blast. It was gorgeous weather and it felt really nice to get away for a couple of days. We stayed in cabins (my kind of camping), had community meals in the dining hall, S'mores by the camp fire and a full weekend of activities.

Nature found Caleb right away. This grasshopper claimed a spot on Caleb's leg as soon as we got out of the car! Benjamin named the grasshopper "Megan". 

Getting ready to head to breakfast.


This child had plenty of room to run free. He was non-stop the entire weekend. 

For the most part, the retreat center was fairly accessible for Caleb. The Dino Hike wasn't wheelchair friendly at all so Benjamin and I tackled that activity together while Dad and Caleb had fun on their own.

Benjamin loved the hike. We hiked through some very tough terrain called the Rocky Creek.


So handsome.

The water was crystal clear by the rocks. We even saw some dinosaur footprints! Benjamin thought that was pretty cool.

Waiting for his turn on the paddle boats. 

A quick thumb-sucking break.


Dad and Caleb on their boat. Dad is doing all the paddling.

The weather was gorgeous...but that water was cold!


Caleb got down in the dirt with some other boys. They were convinced they had found a meteorite and they spent quite some time examining it. 

He's a natural at archery. Look at that form. So cute I can't take it.

It was a really fun, really exhausting weekend....as you can see.

He still looks like my little baby when he is asleep.



Thursday, November 06, 2014

3rd Annual SB Christmas Card exchange

It's that time of year again folks! Time for the 3rd Annual SB Christmas Card Exchange! I started this tradition in 2012 with great success. I look forward to this every year and it is truly my pleasure to organize it. 

Here is how it works: The card exchange is a way for SB families to send holiday cards to each other. 
If you want to participate, then email me at sbcardexchange(at)gmail(dot)com

Send me your name, address, and the name of your child with SB (if you are a parent). I will be taking addresses throughout the month. I divide the list into groups and then you will be given a list of addresses of fellow SB families to send a card to, typically about 15 cards. And then anxiously check your mail each day in December as you receive several cards a day! So fun!




That's it! It's a lot of fun and I promise you will be blessed if you choose to participate. 

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Our 15 minutes of fame

"15 minutes of fame is short-lived media publicity or celebrity of an individual or phenomenon"

At the beginning of the month, I mentioned that Caleb's wheelchair costumes were starting to get a little buzz online. It started with a Today story and then it just exploded from there. I was getting several emails a day from media sites wanting to run the story. It was crazy. I couldn't keep up. Here is a list of some of the larger sites that ran the story.

Good Housekeeping

BabyCenter Blog

The Gloss

Scary Mommy

BuzzFeed

RedBook Magazine

Life and Style Weekly

Today (the article that started it all)

Huffington Post (my favorite)

People (this one was kinda exciting)


A local story: Star-Telegram


We even got some international love!

1023 Clear FM

Antena3

Joe Monster

And that's just some of the articles. There are far too many to list here. If you read any of the above stories, I recommend the Huffington Post piece. That one was my favorite. They did a great job of sharing my heart and the message I intended. It was perfect.

The fun didn't stop with online articles, we even  managed a couple of t.v. spots! Dr. Oz  showed a few pictures of Caleb's Halloween costumes at the very end of the show. The show aired on Halloween. It's a pretty quick segment at the very, very end. Still cool though.



AND, World News Tonight on ABC took an interest in our story and sent a camera crew to our house to film us! CRAZY!


Oh ya know, just a typical day in the McLelland house! Did I mention this was so CRAZY!

What?!

They spent about 3 hours at our house, filming and interviewing. It was insane and nerve-wracking but so much fun. The segment aired on the October 31 episode of World News Tonight. It was at the end of the show. They did a fantastic job on the story. As of right now there isn't a link to that segment so I can't share it here. If it becomes available, I'll post it. I've heard that you can watch the entire episode on Hulu and it should also be available on the WNT site.

I've spent the last few weeks trying to figure out why in the world all of this happened. And honestly, I never did come up with an answer. I am not the only one that makes wheelchair costumes, not by a long shot. Many people do it every single year, and their creations are far better than mine. It baffles me that our creations and our family got so much attention. I just tried to make the most of this very rare opportunity by sharing as much of our story as I could. It was such perfect timing because October is SB awareness month. I tried to shine a light on Spina Bifida and how God has blessed our lives through Caleb. I tried to share my heart. Hopefully that came through.

I also had some SB awareness fun on Facebook this month. I had the genius idea of creating some "Hey Girl" memes. If you are familiar with the Ryan Gosling memes, then these will make more sense. These were a big hit on Facebook :)








The past few weeks have been so crazy but so much fun. I suspect that our 15 minutes of fame is coming to a rapid close now that Halloween is over but it was fun while it lasted. I'm exhausted and ready to return to our normal, boring lives :)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014: Wild Kratts Style!

Both of my boys love, love, love the show Wild Kratts on PBS. I love it too. So when they decided to be the Kratt brothers for Halloween, I was excited. I found some great ideas for making creature power suits on the cheap; and I was ready to make Caleb's chair look like the Createrra.

Here was my inspiration:

Martin and Chris Kratt.

The Createrra

Easy enough, right?



Wheelchair turned Createrra!

Not too shabby for a homemade costume, if I do say so myself.

Talking on his Creature Pod.
Benjamin loved his costume. He was so excited to wear it. 

Here's how I made the costumes:

I bought black v-neck tshirts and cut off the sleeves to make them look more like vests. I used blue/green felt for the design. I hand stitched these...because I don't own a sewing machine. I put a small velcro circle in the center to hold the Creature Power Disc.

I made Benjamin a Creature Pod using cardboard that I painted blue. I found the photo online, printed and then laminated it. I added some buttons and a wrist strap made out of felt. 

Benjamin wanted something to hold the Creature Discs in, so I made this pouch out of black felt (again, hand stitched) in about 10 minutes. Super easy. The Creature Power Discs I found online, printed and then laminated.

$1 black gloves that I stitched felt to.

 You can go to the Wheelchair Costume blog for detailed instructions on how I made the Createrra.
As always, cardboard and a hot glue gun are my main tools.



This may have been one of the easiest wheelchair costumes I've made. The Createrra was pretty simple and didn't take me long at all to put together. I think I only spent about $25. I'm pretty proud of it!





Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wheelchair Costume Blog

Just a friendly reminder to those of you that create amazing wheelchair costumes for your kids, I have a wheelchair costume blog that you need to check out. I need more costumes to feature and show-off. So, if you tackle the creative task of making a wheelchair costume, please consider letting me share your creation. Just click the link below:


The site is designed to be a "how-to". It's a great resource for folks that need ideas or help in creating a wheelchair costume. But it's only a great resource if I have plenty of costumes to share!

4th Shuntiversary

Last Friday was a special day in our house. We celebrated Caleb's 4th Shuntiversary! His shunt officially turned four years old on the 24th. A working shunt is a good thing so it is something we celebrate in this house. Plus any opportunity to eat chocolate cake is a good thing.


"I don't need a fork mom."

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