Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mom's Morning Out Photo Dump

Abby goes to a Friday program at our church called Mom's Morning Out.  We just call it school, and she loves it!  Her teachers are wonderful and have really helped her to blossom this year.  The main teacher sends an awesome email each week explaining in detail what their activities were for the day.  This is really helpful for a mom whose daughter doesn't share too much with me!  They even have a Snapfish album where they upload pictures so that we can see what they do each week.

I've so enjoyed seeing the pictures of Abby at school interacting with her friends.  I picked out a "few" of my favorites and thought you might enjoy them too!

I love the way she's reaching here.  We try to encourage standing on her tiptoes to strengthen calves, gluts, etc.


Amy and I love dressing the girls as twins when we can.  They are the only girls in the class, so it's pretty cute.  :)


Making applesauce ornaments


Halloween twins!


"Milking" a cow


Raking leaves!  (I love the life experiences her teacher provides!)



We have this one in a cute orange fall frame they made.  Love it!!

This one was early in the year, given that she is wearing shorts and doesn't have glasses yet!


She's definitely a girl!


Playground fun


Woo hoo!  Making a huge mess with shaving cream...and I didn't have to clean it up!  :)



Love this one of the tummy time we work so hard on to strengthen the core and her arms...


Nice fine motor activity stringing fruit loops for the birds


Ice skating with wax paper shoes...not sure what she's thinking about this one!


Another great fine motor activity using tongs to pick up ice cubes!


This look cracks me up!  


"Eating" lunch...but sitting nicely!


This is how her teacher gets the kids to sit on the blanket quietly for Bible time--Cheerios!  At the beginning of the year, Abby wouldn't even consider putting any in her mouth.  She pretty much just tossed them on the floor.  Now, Caleb has to chase her away from his cereal bowl because she keeps stealing his Cheerios!  I love it!!


We are so thankful for loving, Christian teachers who have calmed my (many) fears about leaving Abby and accepted her just as she is.  She's come so far in just 5 months!  

Girly

Abby has decided that her purse needs to hang with mine.  Never mind that she has a lower hook for her backpack that would also hold her purse.  Apparently, purses belong together.  Now she just needs a Vera!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bob

Abby got a new hair cut!

Friday, January 25, 2013

I Can Do All Things...

Remember last week how I said that when we first brought Abby home, I doubted whether I would be able to handle a true emergency?  Well, it didn't take long to face that concern head-on...just one week, as a matter of fact.  Today marks two years since we almost lost Abby.

You can read all about what happened in this post.  Turns out, she had RSV.  I'm not going to retell the story, but I will say that the image of Abby lying there, blue, will stick with me forever.  I really thought I was losing my daughter in that moment, and I still tear up when I think about it.

During our hospital stay, this situation, and in many other situations we've had with Abby, many well-meaning people quote the old saying that God won't give you anymore than you can handle.  I  used to say it too!

But now, after having a front-row seat in Abby's life, I truly believe that God will give you the strength to handle anything that you face.

There's a difference there.  It's not about how much I can handle on my own.  It's about how much I trust God with and the belief that He will be right beside me through it all.

Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  I have to remind myself not to ignore the last part of the verse!  It's not about how much I can handle.  It's about putting my trust in God and knowing that He will give me strength to face all of this and everything in the future.

So whatever you're facing...Our God is greater!  :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Snow Day!!!!!

When there's tons of hype, we get no snow.  When we are told that there's not going to be anymore than a dusting, we get a day off of school!!

Today didn't start out so fabulously.  A snow day meant Caleb had to come with Abby and me to the genetics appointment.  I got an early start to allow for slow travel this morning.  It was a good thing, because it took me twice as long to get out of the county as normal.  (Am I the only one who has landmarks to check my time?  Ie:  out of the county within 30 minutes, get to rt 665 an hour before my scheduled appointment, enter Baltimore City within 20 minutes, etc.  Is that weird?!)  The roads in the southern end of the county were really not so good.  It got significantly better the farther north I got, so I was able to drive closer to the speed limit by the time I got to the county border.

We had just left the county when I heard Caleb yell, "Uh oh!  Uh oh!"  I pulled over, but not quickly enough.  He threw up all over himself.  Awesome.

I called Matt, who was going to meet us so that he could take Caleb home while I continued on to the appointment with Abby.  A few minutes later, I got a call from a very frustrated Matt, who got stuck trying to leave our road.  His little car couldn't handle the ice and snow!  I ended up just going all the way home while Matt called the geneticist to reschedule.  I tried my best, but it just wasn't happening today.  Darn...I was really looking forward to going to the geneticist...! :)

So, I go home.  A neighbor pulled Matt out and cleaned off the road so that he could get to work.  Caleb went to his room for about an hour to rest, but my suspicions were confirmed.  When he has an empty stomach, he throws up.  Since he refused to eat dinner last night, he was a little too empty.  New rule:  not eating dinner is not a choice.

Once I realized that he wasn't really sick, I got the snow gear out and the three of us went outside.  That's when the day started to turn around.  :)

Not the "neatest" snow gear ever, but it worked!  I didn't have Caleb's snow gear hand-me-downs because...he is still wearing the 2T snowsuit...#mykidissosmall!

After throwing a few snowballs at each other, the kids meaning me made a tiny little snowman out of the not-so-packable snow.  It was a little too powdery to make it much bigger than that, but they seemed satisfied!  Caleb did a great job making the face out of a carrot, acorns, and a smiley stick!

We have a pull sled that Abby absolutely loved!  I got my exercise pulling her around the backyard as she squealed, "Weeeeeeeeeeee!" for half an hour.  It was pretty stinkin' cute!

I have not perfected the art of loading videos that I downloaded from my phone, so I can't share the videos I have of us sledding in our disc down the hill.  But that's pretty much what Caleb did for over an hour, and Abby loved going down with me.  I even managed to impress Caleb when I went down on my belly.  I got a few cool points, apparently.  :)

Believe it or not, Caleb went in way before Abby was ready to!  I pulled her around on the sled for another 15 minutes or so before I decided it was time for lunch.  I think they'll be ready for round two when Matt gets home, so we can all go out.

I love snow days!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Genetics

Abby has a genetics appointment tomorrow.

I am so not excited about this.

We saw a geneticist at UMMC many times when Abby was a baby, and I just started feeling like it was pointless.  Countless genetic tests showed absolutely no abnormalities.  We even did testing that isn't approved in the U.S. and had to be sent to Canada!  (I really am not sure how our insurance paid for that one, but we never got a bill!)  Her genetic make-up isn't going to change, and we can't find any issues.  So why keep going?

Plus, I am not a huge fan of someone whose job it is to point out every single imperfection in my daughter.  When Abby was a newborn in the NICU, I had to endure a lengthy examination by two geneticists where they oohed and ahhed over all of her abnormalities.  The last thing a stressed-out mom wants to hear is a laundry list of the things that aren't "right" with her daughter--and there's something downright wrong about hearing almost excitement in their voices as they discover yet another problem.  They even had a camera and would take close-ups of every little issue.  It still angers me when I think about it, and I refuse to put Abby through that.  She only needs to know that she was fearfully and wonderfully made, and that every single inch of her is perfect.  It's what makes her Abby!!  I wouldn't have it any other way.

So, we stopped going before Abby turned one.  I had already decided that I was done, but the bill in the mail that I got when our insurance decided that they were done too just confirmed it for me.

But, I was told by the cleft clinic at JHH that we didn't have a choice.  (I know that I always have a choice, but I didn't want to tick off the doctor who would most likely be breaking Abby's jaw in multiple places in a few years!)  They got the insurance issues taken care of so that it would be paid this time.  Soooo...I told them I would go.

Once.

I'm trying to remind myself that this is a different geneticist and that Abby is in a completely different place now.  Plus, I know that I'm the expert in this circumstance.  I'm not saying that to be snooty.  I am just fairly certain that she has never seen a child with CCMS.  I don't care how many case studies you read--it's not the same.  I should know.  I have read them all!  And I'm the expert in all things Abby.  :)

I've heard that she requires blood work at every appointment.  I do not understand this.  As much genetic testing as we have done, I'm pretty sure she can't offer us anything new.  If she can, then I'll agree to it.  If she can't, then I will sweetly point her in the direction of the huge pile of UMMC medical reports and keep Abby's sleeve rolled down.  I'm just not going to put my sweet girl through anymore pain than I absolutely have to.

Admittedly, I probably don't have the best attitude.  I won't be rude to her and I'll attempt to have an open mind.  But I'm just not a big fan of genetics.  Ugh.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Pack Your Child for a Hospital Stay



I get asked a lot how people should pack for their child's hospital stay.  Apparently, we're pros at it.  Everybody's got to be good at something, I guess...

This is by no means the end-all to be-all for hospital how-to's, but these are some thoughts I had based on our vast experience.

1.  Pick out a few of your child's favorite toys about a week ahead of time and stash them away.  When you bring them out at the hospital, it will be a grand reunion!  Plus, she will be so thankful that you didn't take them to the thrift store after all.  :)

2.  Pack a LOT of toys.  This will vary according to age, but we bring an entire suitcase full of toys.  Abby gets bored much quicker when she is confined to a hospital bed, so I just go to my bag of tricks and pull something else out. Toy suggestions for preschoolers:  play dough, mess-free finger paint, stickers, movies on a portable DVD player, coloring books with crayons, Color Wonders, blocks...anything your child can do sitting in bed on top of a small table.  If you have an older kid, I'd say pack some electronics, movies, card games, drawing paper, and small toys.

3.  Bring a favorite blanket.  You can take this to the recovery room to help your child feel more comfortable and snuggle with something familiar.  Make sure your name is on it so that it doesn't get tossed in the hospital laundry when they change the sheets.  

4.  Pack your child's own comfy clothes.  As soon as Abby is given the all-clear to wear her own clothes, I take that hospital gown right off of her!  To me, she looks too sickly lying in that bed with a four-sizes-too-big gown on her. Plus, I think there's something comforting about being in your own comfy sweatshirt and pants.  Obviously, do whatever is most comfortable for your child, depending on his or her reason for being in the hospital!

5.  Socks are a must--especially if you  have little ones!  This has nothing to do with having warm feet, although hospitals are known to be chilly.  Chances our, your child will have to have a pulse oximeter probe for at least part of his or her stay.  If your child is young, the nurse will probably wrap it around a foot or toe.  A sock keeps it on so much better!  Plus, with the little ones, out of sight, out of mind!  Abby pulls on hers if she sees it, so I always take socks with me.  You can also use socks for the hands if your child is known to mess with a surgical wound or pull on IVs!

6.  If you have a child who isn't a fan of doctors, consider bringing "peace offerings" for the doctors to give to your child before examining him or her.  We bring Hello Kitty stickers for the doctors to give to Abby, and it seems to help break the ice a bit...and if nothing else, it reminds the doctors that Abby isn't just another patient!

7.  A medical history takes some time to type up, but it is SO worth it!  When you have to answer the same questions multiple times, it gets really old.  I update Abby's medical history periodically and keep a copy in her diaper bag and in the glove compartment of the car.  If our hospital stay is planned, I make multiple copies and pass them out when the doctors come for the interrogation.  I get more compliments for the medical history than anything else during our stays!

8.  For the last few hospital stays, I have hung a sign on the end of Abby's bed that says, "Hi, my name is Abby!" I got the idea from the pediatric hospital we go to, because they made special little signs for her bed so that people called her by the right name.  We all know Abby isn't too fond of "Abigail," so this helps doctors remember!

9.  If you are planning to stay at the hospital with your child, bring layers of clothes.  The hospital is notoriously cold, but medical equipment can add a lot of heat to the room.  I tend to just pack for both temperatures!  Of course, make sure you have all of your toiletries and such--and bring flip flops if you are going to shower there.  Ew.  Bring cash for the cafeteria and snack machines.  Make sure you have all of your chargers, and I would highly recommend you bring a laptop or tablet if you're going to be there multiple nights.  You'll want something more substantial to surf the internet on when your child is resting!  Pack multiple writing utensils.  They are so hard to find in the hospital, and you don't want to pay $3 for a 5 cent Bic pen in the gift shop!  

10.  Bring your child's own pillow.  If you've ever slept in a hospital, you know how terrible they are.  It's amazing what sleeping on my own pillow did for my night's sleep when I was in the hospital!

I hope these tips help.  Feel free to add others if you think of them!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Homemade Finger Paint


If you've ever bought finger paint, you know how expensive it is.  Plus, someone inevitably squirts a large amount out on the paper and wastes it!  Abby doesn't like the consistency of store-bought finger paints, but will use the Color Wonders finger paint.  

I found this easy recipe on Pinterest and used some of our many baby food jars to store them!  The "cooking" process only took about 10 minutes, and then it became the consistency of the Color Wonders finger paint. 

Guess what?!  She LOVED it!!!  Abby painted for over half an hour and really liked the different colors.  She mixed them a bit after getting colors on her fingers and then dipping them in other colors, but that's ok. 

Bonus:  This didn't cost me anything!  I already had the salt, sugar, corn starch, and food coloring! What a cheap alternative to store-bought finger paint!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

RMH Fundraiser

If you are local, please consider visiting Chesapeake Grille this week, starting Sunday, 1/20, to next Sunday, 1/27.  Any tip that you leave will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House.

The Grille has wonderful food and is run by wonderful people!  Support a local business and make a donation to RMH!

Note:  Only tips will be donated to RMH, so please make sure you put a donation in the container before you leave!

Your Child

Please watch this video.  You won't regret it.  Get your tissues ready--especially if you are a special needs parent!



"When those eyes are looking up at mine, 
every trial, 
every fear, 
in that moment disappears.  
And you realize 
that it's all worthwhile 
when it's your child."

This is just about as true of a song as anyone could write.  This woman is a special needs mom, and she wrote from her heart.

I'm often asked how I do it all.

My first answer is that God will give you strength to handle any situation.

This is my second answer.



Friday, January 18, 2013

2 Years Ago Today...

...we brought our Abby Joy home for the very first time at just shy of three months old.  What an emotional day that was!!

It started out frustrating because bad weather (that wasn't very bad at all!) was going to keep the nursing agency representative from being able to do our intake.  The hospital wouldn't let Abby go home without nursing care, so this would have made us stay at least another day.  Several phone calls from a very angry husband later, she agreed that she would "try" to get down there.  (The weather was fine!!  Kids didn't even go in late!!)

Once we realized that this was actually happening, it became surreal.  We hugged and cried tears of joy because we were finally doing something that most of the doctors didn't think would happen.  As we walked out of the hospital, I almost felt like we were stealing her and someone was going to take us down the moment we stepped out of the door!

Thankfulness overtook us as we pulled out of the parking lot with "Our God" blaring.  Absolute thankfulness.

I think the terror started to set in right about when we left the city limits.  We'd been trained extensively in her care and the equipment, but all of that kind of went out the window when the apnea monitor first beeped and I couldn't get it to stop!  What in the world have we done?!  Why did they let us leave the hospital?!

Along with the fear came the doubt.  I distinctly remember sitting on the floor trying to put away some of the mountain of medical supplies, just sobbing because I didn't think that I could do this.  It wasn't that I didn't want to--it was that I just doubted myself.  Would I be able to handle a true emergency?  (I'd find out just a week later that yes, I could!)  For quite sometime, I wouldn't even allow myself to be alone with her.  I always had to have someone else in the house with me in case something happened.

I don't think I slept at all that night.  Yes, we had nursing, but my many nursing interviews had already informed me that you can't necessarily trust them.  Just because they have credentials doesn't mean they are truly competent.  (We sure did learn that in our year and a half with home care!!!)

Do I still have frustrations?  Oh, of course!  Doctors don't return phone calls, our supply company sends the wrong items, appointments get canceled, etc.  It happens.

Is it still surreal?  Sometimes!  When I think back to all we have been through in the last two years, it certainly is.  Sometimes I think I'm just peeking in on someone else's life!

Am I still thankful?  Every single moment.  Even when Abby spits her food at me and I have to change my outfit for the third time that day.  This happens multiple times a day, or until I just get tired of changing and leave the stains there.  When I look at that girl and all that she has overcome, I am so thankful to my God who healed her, who protected her, and who gave her that spunkiness that I have come to know so well!

Am I still terrified?  I don't think that it's as terrifying anymore.  I still struggle with the fear of the unknown, but being trach-free also means that Abby is not nearly as susceptible to germs and illnesses.  The fear of infection was the worst because we knew that a common cold could kill her--and nearly did.  I am learning to not fear the worst every time she gets an illness, now that I've seen that she can handle it without being hospitalized.  Probably my biggest fear these days is when she will need to be intubated for the first time under anesthesia.  Because of her tiny airway, she can't be intubated like most people.  Abby has to have fiberoptic intubation, which only specially-trained anesthesiologists can do.  This will require some planning to coordinate the appropriate anesthesiologist, the surgeon performing the surgery, and our ENT, who wants to be there for the first surgery...just in case.  One of the pluses of a trach was knowing that she had a stable airway for surgery.  Needless to say, I'll be a nervous wreck the first time she goes under!

Do I still doubt myself?  I think I've become a lot more confident in myself since I've had Abby.  I have researched, studied, observed, and performed so many medical tasks that I feel like I can handle most situations.  I certainly don't know everything, but I know Abby.  Most of the doctors have come to respect my opinion and include me in their decisions because they know that I am knowledgeable.  A little doubt is healthy--overconfidence leads to mistakes.  But I think the crippling doubt that I had before that could have kept me from acting quickly is mostly gone.

Two years.  Two years since she's been home.  Two years since my daughter truly became my own.  SO thankful!!

Disappointment

Well, our "snow" was nothing but one big disappointment.  We got a whole lot of nuttin', but Caleb did get to come home from school two hours early because of the threat of snow.  I dug out the snow suits, waterproofed the boots, and anxiously awaited the "storm" to begin....it never did.  :(

So, I guess Abby's first real snow won't be until next year.  Sadness.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Huge Breakthrough

This month's Parents Magazine features, Emily, a 3 year old with Spina Bifida.  She uses a walker (a snazzy gold one, at that!) and has a beautiful smile!  People in the "know" seem to be in agreement that this is the first time that a special needs child has been on the cover of a major magazine.  Go Emily!

You can go here to read the article about Emily written by one of my favorite bloggers.  Then go here to read the interview she did with Emily's mom and watch a video of some advice Emily's mom gives to others regarding children with special needs.

I think society has a long way to go in truly accepting those with special needs, but this is a huge breakthrough!!  Congrats, Emily!  You're gorgeous!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The White Stuff


SNOW!!!!!!!!

I am sooooooooo excited for the snow in the forecast!!!  We had none to speak of last year, and I'm really looking forward to seeing Abby's reaction to the white stuff.  This will be her first experience!  Caleb has never really cared for it, but I'm hoping maybe I have one snow lover who will build a snowman with me!  :)

If we get what they say we're going to, then pictures of our snow activities will be coming!!

Wordless Wednesday: Star Wars Party Style!




Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sweet Friends

This is Caleb's sweet friend, E.  He has really enjoyed getting to know her this year and they spend a lot of time together.  Apparently, she is the queen when they play Star Wars on the playground at recess.  :)  She is a really nice girl.  I'm glad he has such good taste!


Unfortunately, Caleb is not bending down and the camera isn't at a weird angle.  E is pretty tall and Caleb is pretty short.  But they still make a cute pair!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Inspiring Video

I recently found a video that was being shared on Facebook about Connor and Caden Long.  Caden has Cerebral Palsy, but he is perfect in his brother's eyes.  For Connor, he believes that Caden can do anything he wants to do--including running triathlons    Over the last year or so, Connor and Caden have participated in multiple triathlons together in a very special way--Connor pulls or pushes Caden in all three events.  He rides in a bike trailer during the riding portion, he is in a jogging stroller during the running, and he floats in a raft during the swimming.

This video bring tears to my eyes because of the love and the bond that these two boys have.  Just look at the smiles on Caden's face during the race!  He would probably never get to participate in something like that without Connor's help!

These inspiring boys earned the Sports Illustrated Kids of the Year award, and I couldn't agree more.  I'm so glad that SI chose to honor these two sweet kids.  I just love this story!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Star Wars Party: Darth Vader Crashes the Party

Just as our Jedi Master was saying goodbye, the Darth Vader music starts (compliments of Matt!) and Darth Vader himself enters the party room.  Someone yelled, "Get 'Em!" (I'm still not sure who!) and then all you-know-what broke loose!


I know he's the bad guy and all, but I kind of felt bad for poor Darth.  He was totally outnumbered!


He challenged Caleb to a duel.  Caleb had SUCH a serious look on his face when he agreed!  I couldn't keep a straight face about it!


Darth made a few good shots, but then his light saber flew out of his hand!  Caleb snatched it up and began battling double-fisted.  Poor Darth didn't stand a chance!



He fell to the floor and was promptly tackled by many young children with pool noodle light sabers.


And I stood by and took pictures.  :)






Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sickos

We finish disinfecting the house from one sick kid (We never did figure out what it was, by the way!  All of the tests came back clear, so we're going with Salmonella) and then had to do it again for another.

Caleb got an unwanted birthday present--Scarlet Fever.  He started feeling badly at dinner on his birthday.  I knew it couldn't be good when he didn't even eat his special birthday dessert!  By the time we got home, the poor kid had a fever and lots of pitiful tears.  He couldn't really tell me what hurt, but we'd already decided that the fever alone would keep him home from school.

The next morning, he told me his throat really hurt.  One look into his mouth showed a throat full of red bumps.  Strep!  Matt was already home that day, so he took Caleb to the doctor while I went to a meeting for work.  (I feel the need to mention once again how much I love our pediatrician's office!  "Our" nurse saw that Caleb was sick on Facebook and called Matt before the office even opened to let him know that she had an appointment for Caleb that morning.  How awesome is she?!?!)  By the time he got to the doctor, Caleb had also developed the sand paper rash that points to Scarlet Fever.  Thankfully, it's the same antibiotic either way, so it was okay.

The fever hung on for several days and he started not being able to hold anything down, so he stayed home on Friday too.  Every time I thought he was clear, it would come back again.  There were times when he was so hyper full of healthy energy that I considered driving him to school.  Then he'd just crash again and sleep for several hours.  He's been fever-free now for 24 hours.  Dare I say that I think he's on the mend?

For anyone who runs into Caleb:  he does still have a rash, but it is not contagious!  We've researched and asked to make sure.  The rash can stay for several weeks, but he's not contagious after being on the antibiotic for 24 hours.  Promise!  :)

Of anyone, I am a huge supporter of not sending your kids to school when they're sick just so that they can infect everybody else.  I abide by the "24 hours fever free" rule and quarantine the sick one so that the rest of the family avoids catching it.  Disinfectant is my friend, and I clean those door knobs until they shine.  And yes, I did do five more loads of laundry to disinfect all of the blankets, sheets, and clothes.  Yay.

But I'm done with sickness.  D-O-N-E done!

Star Wars Party: Jedi Training

As I said, the Jedi training was the main focus of the party.  We did this for the second hour and the kids had an absolute blast.  Just look at their faces in these pictures!

We had a wonderful friend from our church come and be our Jedi master.  Bill is pretty funny in real life, so I knew he would be perfect for this.  He did not disappoint!!



The kids started out doing stretches to get them ready for the strenuous training.  They all took this so seriously!!





He then had my nephew, who was his "Young Paduan," to demonstrate push-ups for strengthening exercises.  For some reason, the Jedi master didn't want to demonstrate them himself...

I have to say, it's pretty funny watching these kids, who are mostly 6 and under, trying to do push-ups!



Next came the team-building activities, which went over the kids' heads a little.  Bill realized this and simplified things a bit, but the kids were hysterical to watch!



Now came time for the Light Saber Ceremony.  Each child was given a light saber, which each color symbolizing a character trait.  I can't remember what Bill said for each one, but it was something like red is bravery, blue is honor, and green is strength.  The kids ate it up and no one complained about getting a certain color!  :)  

Next, the Jedi master taught the kids sword positioning, and even had names for the different positions.


They took turns throwing their light saber at a poster of Darth Vader, darts-style.  My four year old nephew won the prize for the most direct hits!  He's got a future as a Jedi...or a darts player!



After a bit of one-on-one sparring to practice their moves, we had a dueling tournament.  We had two groups of two going at once, and I timed each battle for one minute.  We had "touch counters" who counted how many times each person was touched with the light saber.  The person in the pair with the lesser amount of touches was the winner, and we continued with the tournament.

We tested out the light sabers ahead of time and whacked each other pretty hard (getting out some marital aggression!) to make sure the kids wouldn't get hurt.  So we knew they were safe!!

Just look at the smiles of these kids during their battles!  





Cousin-on-cousin here!  These boys are just 3 months apart!



Completely coincidentally, the finalists were brothers!  Just look at the snarl on Andrew's (who is 2 years older than Jacob) face!  These boys are also experienced with light sabers, having had many battles of their own at home!


Despite his size and age, 5 year old Jacob beat Andrew and won the championship!  His signature move was the spin-and-swing, which he did often while yelling out a battle cry.


Paduan Owen didn't get to be part of the championship, but the Jedi Master and Matt took him on. I think they may have won... :)


The fun turned sour when Darth Vader crashed the party though...Stay tuned!!  :)