CRAZY Proud of Mitchell!

Hello friends & Hello blog,

I’ve been missing you!  Today I was reminded just how lucky we are when I saw my Memories from one year ago today…  This is what was going on in our world just 365 days ago.  It was a really scary moment in time for us and I have been meaning to give a little update on our best little boy.


TWO year check-up! Off the charts of cuteness. 🙂

Mitchell Dennis is now TWO and doing great!  We celebrated in January with a rockin party, Elmo style!


He was Loving his favorite furry friend!


HUG time!!

In just 365 days, Mitchell has really come a long way and we are SO proud of him!  I was reminded a few weeks ago during an Open Play at our favorite kid spot, Rolly Pollies.  Mitchell went in the bounce house and loved it!   He was bouncing with a bunch of other giddy toddlers, climbing up the ladder and whizzing down the slide. It was a proud moment.  I couldn’t help but think back to last spring when I was next to him in a similar bounce house and it all became too much for him… the other kids, the noise, the heat, the slide… his little body responded by shutting down and then going into a seizure.  We rushed him home, cooled him down and then he slept about 11 hours. He recovered by the next morning. Us, not so much. We were a wreck.

For most of 2016 we walked on eggshells.  Some days Mitchell would be completely fine, then other days he would experience 4-5 pass-out episodes in a 24 hour period with occasional seizures and an occasional hypoxic shock states.  The episodes would tire him out so much that we would have to drop everything and get him home so that he could nap it off.  Leaving the house seemed daunting.  The Cleveland Clinic kept telling us that he would be fine and that he would outgrow it, but we were still terrified.  He was our baby boy and we just couldn’t seem to keep him safe.

Then our pre-school suggested that we call for early intervention services (thank you Childrens Kastle!).   We had no idea that this existed so we did some research and set up his evaluation.  Given his challenges, he qualified.  It felt SO GREAT to actually have some control over a scary part of life… talk about a game changer!   Mitchell started working with up to 2 therapists a week to help him improve his coping skills as well as his verbal skills, and we have noticed some really positive changes!  His therapists are wonderful and gave us the analogy of a stop light… he’s good on green, and okay on yellow, but he’s not good on Red.  If he gets too overwhelmed or stressed on Red his body shuts down and it causes an episode.  So now we have a number of tools to use to help him avoid Red Light moments.  And it’s working!!


Big Sis helps him to sloooow down when he gets to Red Light moments. Makenzie is such a good girl!

Perhaps he is improving because of his age, but I attribute a tremendous amount of his improvement to his team of therapists.  His confidence has grown substantially – way to go buddy!   And they have given us tools and wisdom to keep our little boy on Green.

So now, we are slowly getting back to regular life.  We might sign Mitchell up for toddler soccer this summer and we may even let him ride his trike without 54 layers of bubble wrap… or maybe not.  For those of you who know Denny, you know that he is Captain Safety.  🙂    But we’re definitely figuring out how to manage fear and still have fun.  He loves hanging out with his big sis and his big cousins and he will do anything to keep up with them!


Buddies… Ry guy and Mitch Mitch!



We are absolutely counting our lucky stars, and I have a feeling this summer is going to be a good one.  Here’s to spring and here’s to hope!  For those of you going through tough days, just keep swimming!

The Littlest Love of my Life!

Lots of Love,



Life in the slow lane, and that’s okay with me

Sweet, sweet summertime.

A little thing in life that I have come to adore is the smell of my babies covered in sunscreen.  It usually means that we are on the brink of leaving for a fun day – swimming, riding beep beeps at the kiddie park, or running through the splash pad.   Some of the best memories that we have made with the kiddos involved the use of sunscreen.


This summer has been a little bit different than we expected and we haven’t quite used as much sunscreen.  Mitchell’s episodes have gotten worse (more about those here) – more frequent, worse in duration and still plain scary to see – so we have toned it down and shifted to the slow lane.  It’s hard to say what will trigger an episode, but we know that they are exacerbated when he is overtired, overwhelmed, or overheated.   Although they have no consequences on him in the no-long term, they are exhausting on him in the short-term and often lead to an immediate nap.   In general they are something we strive to avoid at all costs.

But in a weird way, there is a silver lining to this whole situation.  His breath-holding spells (which fortunately will subside in the coming years, hooray!) have helped us find fun things to do close to home and within our normal routine.  Rather than spending hours chasing down fun or pushing the limits with schedules and activities, we have been able to savor the little parts of life.

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These two! 🙂

We have been living up summer with two toddlers in small ways.  Water balloons, hide n seek, walks around the neighborhood, indoor Olympics, tunnel races, short (yet sweet) trips to the kiddie park and extra story times.


Sweetest & happiest boy ever!


Water balloons!


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Imitating Big Sis during the indoor Olympics

Kenz had her dance recital in June and is now loving “nastics” class so she hasn’t noticed the slow pace.   In a few weeks we’re even hitting the road to enjoy the slow pace in Lake George, which I’m pretty sure will be good for all of us.  And it may include sunscreen, but if it doesn’t that’s okay too.


Such a proud night

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Loving “nastics!” and getting excited for the Olympics!


So here’s to a great summer!   Here’s to enjoying life, being silly and making memories in unexpected moments.  Here’s to getting out and wearing sunscreen, and here’s to staying in and having just as much fun.  Here’s to trips near and far, and loved ones on our street and on our minds.  Here’s to life in the slow lane and here’s to appreciating it.

And here’s to all of us taking a deep breath and just focusing on the really good stuff in life.



slow down

Cheers & love,



Clarity about Mitchell!

Clarity!  What a beautiful thing.

It’s been a long & emotional few days but given the huge amount of support we’ve received lately, I owe a blog post to give updates on what we discovered at Cleveland Clinic.


On Sunday we headed to Ohio in preparation for our visit to the Cleveland Clinic on Monday.  Some time with Nana & Papa always makes things better, especially on the day before an important doctors appointment.


“Can you turn on Elmo, Mom?”

There is no doubt that the Cleveland Clinic is amazing.  We met with a fantastic pediatric neurologist who did an incredibly thorough job of understanding what’s going on with Mitchell.  Here’s what we learned:

  • Mitchell is experiencing cyanotic breath holding spells.  These are usually caused by either a change in the child’s breathing or a slowing of the heart rate. These reactions may be brought on by pain or by strong emotions.  In cyanotic spells the child’s face and lips turn blue and then they lose consciousness.  And in case the doctor wasn’t sure, Mitchell confirmed that it was cyanotic when he passed out smack dab in the middle of the appointment while the doctor was in the room.  Good timing little buddy!
  • As for the suspected seizures, it’s not what we thought.  Mitchell is actually experiencing hypoxia due to the lack of oxygen during the breath-holding spell.  Think of a computer rebooting.  His body is doing the same thing after some of the episodes.  Although he is not responsive while in this hypoxic state, the Dr. said this is not harmful because he is breathing.  I’m not exactly comfortable with this yet, but we will take it one day at a time.


We have a few more tests to confirm everything we discussed, and then it’s back to normal.   Or our new normal as I’ll call it.  Unfortunately this might get worse before it gets better because this type of situation peaks between 18 months – 3 years so we are preparing to have many days with many pass-out episodes.  It gives Terrible Two’s a new meaning.   But by age of 6 or 7 at latest this should go away completely.  Hooray!!

So now we do our best to manage this.  To be honest it feels slightly overwhelming right now, but we will just take it one day at a time.  There is a huge part of me that wants to snuggle him up forever and never let him go, but I realize it’s just not possible.   So we will choose to focus on the good!  And there is plenty of good for this cute, sweet, lovable baby boy of ours!   And despite the fear this causes, we are SO incredibly lucky!   Mitchell is able to live a normal & happy life, and we finally know that this is not going to cause him any harm.

On another note, Mitchell just can’t stay away from the doctors office (perhaps he will go to med school someday?).  Tonight we found out that both he and Makenzie have left ear infections.  Looks like we might be headed for tubes in his ears.

Our deepest appreciation for all the thoughtful notes and positive thoughts!

Much Love,



For you Little M

A quick update on the Littlest M

Talk about being blown away by support!  We know that you all have your own busy lives but since posting about Mitchell’s frequent pass-out episodes a few weeks back we have been inundated by calls, texts and messages from people who have experienced this and wanted to share their insight, and from people who just wanted to say that they care.  Thank you everyone!   Our kids are so lucky to be so loved!

M & M say Thank you!!

But on a serious note, we are still in search of answers.  The pass-out aspect seems to fall clearly in the category of the involuntary breath-holding syndrome, but we are still baffled by the (potentially) seizure-like activity that sometimes occurs after the episodes.   Our little guy had an awful episode this week and spent about 7 minutes in an unresponsive state.  So scary.

After weeks of doctors visits and few answers we decided to head to the best of the best and we were highly fortunate to get an appointment with a well-known pediatric neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic.  We are thrilled!  We are also nervous but overall we know that this physician could be the one to help us gain clarity.

Our little boy ready for more carefree days at the park!

We will ideally know more early this week.  We will keep you posted.  Thank you SO much for all the good thoughts!

Much love,


Holding our Breath

One of the hardest parts of being a parent is when to react and how to react.  It’s usually not the situation that needs triaging, but it’s the reaction.  First time parents are notorious for this.  Us included.  Within the first 24 months of life Makenzie went to the ER and urgent cares 3 times because we thought she had either concussions, broken bones or both.  All false alarms.  Lesson learned.

So with kid #2 we were ready to be laid back & relaxed.  But then kid #2 started passing out.  At the sweet age of 4 months, Mitchell lost consciousness for the first time.  Then it happened and again and again.  Approximately 60 more times in the past 10 months, including 4 episodes in the past 24 hours.

We are no longer laid back or relaxed.  We’ve been to our pediatrician’s office about this multiple times.  In fact, we used to call them after every single episode.  It was the least we could do after watching our son turn blue, go limp and lose consciousness.  We came close to dialing 9-1-1 every time but then he would wake back up.  He would start breathing, and so would we.  But it continues and we recently saw what we think was seizure-like activity.  That warranted a 9-1-1 call but the paramedics knew less than we did.

What we have been told is that this is most likely a form of involuntary breath-holding syndrome.  Likely it will go away by the time he is no older than 7.  And likely there is no long-term effects.  But yet, we are still highly unnerved.  Somehow it doesn’t seem normal to watch your child lose consciousness for something as simple as a diaper change or a loud noise.

So now we’re continuing on the path of figuring out where to go next.  Ultimately we just want a physician who deals with this regularly to give us a thorough understanding of why it’s happening and what to expect.  Dr. Google has led us in circles.  Our pediatrician is wonderful but is not an expert on this.  The neurologist was perhaps an expert but poorly able to communicate anything helpful to us.  In one sentence he said it’s not a big deal, and in the next sentence he said we need to see a cardiologist.  So that’s where we head next.  But we feel like we’re driving along without a map in a fog.

Perhaps it’s time we stop and ask for directions.  There has to be someone out there (or many someones) out there who have been down this road before.  Is there an expert out there on this, or another set of parents who have figured out which tests to run and which tests can wait?  If so, please pass along your insight!

Much appreciated,