Wednesday, December 02, 2009

On infant cues and attachment...

I am writing masters' competencies today, and I just thought I would share a little piece of what I'm writing.

This concept of knowing your child’s cues backwards and forwards makes a HUGE difference in the parent-child relationship. It made an incredible difference in my relationship with my son. We spent the first several months of his life in a constant struggle. At first we struggled just to stay awake for feedings, and he ended up in the NICU. Then once we got eating under control and came back home, I felt like he spent his second and especially his third months crying A LOT. I was checking books out of the library about colic and trying to figure out what I could possibly to do help us all get some sleep and some stress relief. Sometimes if I just couldn’t figure out why he was crying, I got into the crib and cried right along with him. Looking back on it, I think it was probably mostly a combination of reflux pain and having a mom who spent so much time figuring out feeding that I still didn’t know his cues. One of my son’s babysitters recommended to me that I “get my pH.D. in him” - that I do everything I could to get to know his cues. I followed part of the recommendations by the “Baby Whisperer” and put him on an eat-play-sleep rotation. That way, I stopped feeding him every time he cried, and it ended up teaching me what his hunger cry really sounded like. I read Elizabeth Pantley’s “No-Cry Sleep Solution”, and I learned what his tired signals looked like. I started the sleep routine at the first signs of being tired, and he fell asleep easier. When he woke up, I started to be able to tell if he was hungry. Instead of feeding him every time he was unhappy, I fed him when he was hungry. As I got a better picture of how much and how often infants generally sleep, I started realizing that babies weren’t supposed to wake up every half an hour - so I sat there in my sleep-deprived state and watched him sleep to see if I could figure out why he woke up. As I did that, I realized that because he was on his back to avoid SIDS, his startle reflex was kicking in and he was startling himself awake! So I started to swaddle him for sleep, and it was AMAZING how much better things went. By that time, I started to actually know his hunger cues and his tired cues, and the swaddling was getting us both some real sleep. I started to realize that he might have some reflux, and I started to make more of an effort to keep him upright after meals. Sometimes I gave him a little bit of gripe water to soothe his tummy. And we both started to get along SO much better. We liked each other better and understood each other better. I felt empowered as a parent, and he was getting his needs met. It was a powerful preparation for later on when he was sick, because I knew him so well by then that I really could tell what he needed.

So I just want to express my thanks:

  • to my friend who taught me about attachment parenting and gave me permission to not let him cry it out
  • to Timmy's babysitter who told me to get to know him so well I might as well have a Ph.D. in him
  • for the Baby Whisperer and to the No-Cry Sleep Solution for giving me the tools that I needed to do those things well and for making me feel like I really could be a good parent, and so that Timmy could have a few really good months before he got sick.
  • to the other friend who introduced us to Happiest Baby on the Block, which taught me the basics of how to calm a stressed out baby, although clearly Timmy taught me how to alter it to fit his own personal style.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy 100th Birthday, Great Grandma Nelson!

Visiting with Mom J

Had a great time visiting with Mom this week, including seafood on the
pier at Santa Cruz.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Random Thoughts On Grieving

Grief is such a weird thing. I can talk about Timmy to just about anyone at just about any time. As long as I don't have to explain for the 100,000,000th time that he's already gone, it feels SO good to talk about him. It makes me feel like he isn't forgotten. But when we went to Red Robin this afternoon, I didn't realize until we got there that it was the first time I had been there since Timmy died. When the hostess asked how many people were in our party, it really bothered me. Who knew? I'll have to go again now and see if it's better the next time around. I mean, we go to Outback all the time and that same question never bothers me there.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Job update

So in case you haven't heard, I (Lara) found a job. God is so good! I am working as a co-teacher in an early childhood special education classroom.

In the meantime I have applied for a program to get my masters degree in early childhood special education. That way, as I get more training I will be able to have my own classroom and I will be able to go into kids' homes as an early intervention specialist. My goal is to be able to support young children with special needs and their families. So far I have been accepted for non-degree status, and I am working on taking some pre-requisite tests and a community college class to apply for degree status in December.

Please keep us in your prayers as I apply for financial aid and as I take tests and start my classes in mid-September. Please praise God with us for this opportunity to use our experiences with Timmy to help other families.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Timmy's Gravestone

For those of you who wanted to see it...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Overdue update

OK, so my friend Kathie and I made a deal to both blog this week, so I am trying to figure out where to start...

I would say that we are finishing up the first phase of our transition. We have found MOST everything in the boxes of unpacking. The house is pretty settled. We have a trip coming up to celebrate our 10th anniversary. The renter on our Idaho house is moving out, and we are working through our options on what to do with the house next. (We do wish our former renter and good friend the best in his new adventures, however, and are looking forward to visiting him in his new location!)

Marshall is settled in his job and liking it a lot. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the keynote to the developer's conference this Monday, and Marshall has been back and forth to San Francisco several times this week for conference sessions. Now I really want a new phone!

I have had 3 fabulous trips to visit with some friends and family in SoCal, Western NY, and Idaho. I am applying to temp agencies to see if I can get some temporary work. I am hoping to find something that will pay some bills while I figure out what I REALLY want to do next. I am doing a writing group and an "uncover your calling" group. I have been volunteering at the Center for Employment Training Immigration & Citizenship Program. When I was in Idaho, I took a seminar to learn the Simply the Story Bible study method, and I LOVE it! (Another good site on storying: here.)

On a Timmy note, I think that we are finished with funeral stuff. Thank-you notes are done and sent. (I am almost afraid to say that in case we missed someone, but I hope not!) We recently sent the approval back to the funeral home to have his gravestone made. This week also marks the one-year anniversary of "Diagnosis Day" (sadly just in time for Father's Day :-( although that is a week later this year than it was last year), as Timmy started losing his strength. So I've been thinking a lot about that and about that fateful night when he stopped being able to hold himself up anymore.

Last, but not least, is Brutus. He enjoys being the center of attention again. He still barks at other dogs when he is on his leash and he is very much the neighborhood watchdog. He welcomes us home with the greatest excitement. He likes his peanut butter. He loves to play ball in the evenings. He loves to snuggle on the couch with us when we watch movies. He has now moved up to sleeping on the bed whenever I am home, and he takes up as much space as I'll let him have. But he is the cuddle dog, which is just fine with me!

Well, that's the deal on us. What about you???

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Friday, May 08, 2009

Jackson Latham Bromley

1:01 pm
8 lbs. 14 oz.
20.5" long
Mom and baby are doing well.


Baby is happy as long as we leave him/her alone, but when Beth has
contractions, the heartbeat starts to dip. So they are prepping for a
C section. She should go into the OR in the next half hour.


7:45 am

The doctor just gave orders to start pitocin. We are giving this child
an eviction notice.

7:20 am

Nothing much happening. She is starting to feel the contractions but
at 5 am when they checked her, she had not really progressed. So they
gave more meds and we are still resting.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Progress on becoming an aunt (again)

When I arrived in Rochester, my sister was just getting set up in the
hospital. She had the fetal monitors going, and they had just put in
the IV. At 1 am Eastern, they gave her something to help ripen her
cervix. At 2:30 am they started her on fluids. It is almost 3 now, and
we are all just doing our best to rest while we can.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Travels & Mother's Day

Last year we celebrated Mother's Day at Papaya Bay restaurant in Redlands (one of my very favorites!). Timmy was still doing quite well. He was pretty tired, and getting close to Diagnosis Day... but he was still eating and smiling and standing and laughing and taking a binky. No tubes or meds.

Tomorrow I leave for New York, so that I can be with my sister and brother-in-law as they welcome their precious child into the world. So even though we won't get to hold our own precious little one this Mother's Day, I am looking forward to being with my family and meeting this sweet niece or nephew. And I think that under the circumstances, that will be about the best way imaginable to spend the day.

P.S. I posted more photos from last Mother's Day in the photo gallery.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Timmy Haiku

If you are interested, I loved Kathie's haiku that she made for Timster, as well as her great post about how it came about. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Path Assailed, by Lara Elfstrand

I remember the cold, white tile of the emergency room.

"Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you"

Our son's feeding tube was clogged - again.

"Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you."

He was over-tired and getting dehydrated.

"God will take care of you,
Through every day, o’er all the way;
He will ... care [for] you,
God will take care of you."

An infection caught from the other people in the emergency room could cause him to have an energy crisis and leave this world behind him.

"Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you"

Even if we don't feel His presence, He is here with us.

"When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you."

In dehydration, feeding tube procedures, and energy crises, our God is still present, loving and caring for His children.

"God will take care of you,
Through every day, o’er all the way;
He will ... care [for] you,
God will take care of you."

("God Will Take Care of You" by Civilla and Walter Martin, Public Domain)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An image of progress

Today was another unpacking day. Until today, I actually don't think I've done much unpacking in the last few weeks. It was supposed to be "tax & to-do Tuesday" — but it took all day to find the right box that contained the paperwork I needed to do the taxes. In the meantime, I sorted loads of other papers and books, and soon I will be able to remove my silly post-it notes that tell me where things go. I'm feeling more settled, and I found my MAF Doves music, which makes me feel SO much better about auditioning for the church worship team coming up soon. There's just something about having my familiar music with my own wacky notes on them.

So now we have our work cut out for us to actually finish up the taxes. And tomorrow I have my women's Bible study group. Thursday morning I'm going to a women's writing group at church, and we are looking forward to hanging out with friends (some old and some new) in the afternoon & evening. On Friday a new friend is coming over to listen to me practice what I will say for my (small) part of the panel at the Trinity Women's Retreat coming up soon. (I'll be talking about the ways that God was faithful through Timmy's life and death... and the fabulous part is that I have so many things to say that I'm going to have to be careful not to talk too much!) The movers are going to come pick up the empty boxes on Friday too. That should help give us some space! Saturday I have 2 different events for the career actions ministry I am a part of to help me learn job hunting skills and network in the area. And Saturday night we are going out for the church's "great dates" night.

Life is definitely busy for us these days - and I don't even have a job yet! But I've made progress by going to job hunting seminars, editing and re-editing my resume, cutting my hair, checking out dog walkers and doggie day cares, and buying a new suit. So now we'll see what the Lord has in store! In the meantime, I'm thankful to have time during the day to organize the office and get involved in our church. Thanks to all of our friends and family who check in with us from afar. We appreciate you — especially as we are still settling in to our new life here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

At Pier 39

First trip to the city

For our first trip into San Francisco, we decided that we needed to have crepes at Pier 39. Yum!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Masha's baby shower

Last Thursday I got to attend a baby shower for my new friend, Masha. She used to work with the Learning Technologies group at MAF before we got there, so a mutual MAF friend introduced us.

I had a great time at her shower and can't wait to meet her little Daniel. He has a great name and great parents, and he will be born about the same time as my niece or nephew. :-)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hello, stuff

The movers have come and gone and we are starting the process of
getting settled.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On the road

We are all packed and ready to go.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The grave site

So glad to know that Timmy is with Jesus and it's just his body in the ground. But still so hard to say goodbye even to that body and to that little strip of ground where it lies. I rather feel like one of the little pieces of grass that is just starting to grow in the dirt where his body lies.

Monday, February 23, 2009

There goes our stuff

Bye bye stuff. See you soon.

Packing up

Brutus is the movers' supervisor dog.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Home search successful!

Just wanted to report that we have both a place to live and a moving date! So I am headed back to Mentone today to go wrap things up there and collect the Brutus dog. (So thankful that the Townsends have been able to keep an eye on him these last days while we were doing our home search!) Thanks for your prayers!

Pictures and more info coming soon!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Our home search

We are heading out on a home search tour this morning. Please pray
that God would make it clear to us where we should live.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

One more day at Disneyland

Enjoying our annual passes one last (rainy) time before Marshall starts his new job in the Bay Area on Monday...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Enjoying a birthday chocolate strawberry

Having fun at Disneyland.

Birthday flowers

Just had to share the beautiful flowers that my hubby gave me as a
"just because" / early birthday gift. So pretty!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Uncle Ron's birthday

We are spending the afternoon celebrating my great uncle Ron's birthday. Here he is with 3 of his sons (my dad's cousins).

Monday, January 19, 2009

A special time of remembrance

This weekend we celebrated Timmy's life and his graduation into Jesus' presence. Marshall and I agreed that the day went just like it should have: it honored Timmy and the Savior who created him. Be sure to check out the photo gallery to view, post, or download pictures.

We started the day at the funeral home, where we got some time first as a family and then with a small group of friends. It was a special time to be together and to cry together. Outside of the room was a beautiful portrait of Timmy. It was a black & white picture that our friend Dayna had taken and then hand painted in color. Along with that picture, there were also some blue and white balloons at the entrance. On either side of Timmy's casket there were picture boards of Timmy's life. We enjoyed looking at them and remembering the times when Timmy was stronger and we enjoyed his bright smile and cheerful laughter. There were also some brightly colored butterfly balloons on each side of Timmy's casket. These were there because Timmy loved shiny balloons, and to remind us that Timmy has broken out of his (human body) cocoon and has been made new in Jesus' presence.

After the funeral home, we went to the church and enjoyed a beautiful service together. Pastor Mark Brown led the service. It started off with a slideshow using Plumb's song "God Will Take Care of You." That album was something Timmy needed in order to sleep for a long time, and we just couldn't have a service of remembrance without playing something from it. After Mark prayed, he and two other dear friends did an excellent job sharing about Timmy's life and some of the stories from the times that they had spent with him. Our friend Kathie spoke to represent our times in Idaho, when Timmy still was mostly healthy. My favorite Kathie story was when we had requested prayer for Timmy and they were looking for a volunteer to pray - and she was SO quick to volunteer for that job. It was fabulous. Then our friend Lauri spoke to represent our times in California. She played a special role in Timmy's life as his unofficial nurse and helper. Then we enjoyed a beautiful slide show of pictures of Timmy using a song called "Who's My Pretty Baby" by Elizabeth Mitchell.

Then Mark gave a beautiful message based on Philippians 3:20-21.

To conclude, Marshall's dad read Romans 8:18-27.

We finished up the service with one more slideshow, using the music from Brooke Fraser's "C.S. Lewis Song":
If I find in myself desires

nothing in this world can satisfy
I can only conclude

that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best
only light and momentary
then of course I'll feel nude
when to where I'm destined
 I'm compared

Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh 
and with all creation groan

as I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just less found?

On the straight or on the roundabout
of the wrong way?
Is this a soul that stirs in me

is it breaking free

wanting to come alive?
'Cause my comfort would prefer

for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth

of who I was born to become


For we are not long here
Our time is but a breath

So we better breathe it

And I was made to live

I was made to love

I was made to know you

Hope is coming for me
Hope...He's coming


Following the service, the ladies at the church provided finger foods for a very nice reception. It was great to get to spend a little time with everyone and celebrate Timmy's life together. At the very end, we decided to release the balloons together. It was just beautiful to watch them fly away and think that Timmy is now free from the body that was getting so heavy for him to carry.

So now as our families have all gone home and we look toward an uncertain future, may Timmy's life remind us of the One who made us and cares for us and who loves Timmy even more than we do.

Timmy's Story

Timothy Joseph Elfstrand was born on August 11, 2007 in Caldwell, Idaho.  His first few weeks were challenging because he had such a hard time learning to eat, but for several months after that he appeared to be growing normally.  After we moved to California in February 2008, we noticed several months where there were very few changes in his development, and there were things that he did once but couldn’t repeat.  On June 12, 2008, Timmy became so weak that he could no longer stand.  On June 13 he was diagnosed with Leigh Syndrome, a type of mitochondrial disorder.  Something in his mitochondria (the energy powerhouse of the cells) was broken, which meant that his body could not produce enough energy for brain and muscle function.  Next he lost the strength to eat and was hospitalized for six weeks.  After he got home, our family had five months together to enjoy our sweet boy. We love him dearly and miss him so very much, but we rejoice that he is in the presence of the Lord and has all the energy he needs.

For more information about mitochondrial disease, see The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation or The Mitochondrial Disease Action Committee.

Timmy's iTunes Music List

In Timmy's honor, I made a mix of songs. They are not in any particular order. They include some of the songs that Timmy liked, as well as songs that different people mentioned on the blog that were a special comfort to them in times of sorrow. I hope that you enjoy them. (To see the whole list, click on "Timothy Elfstrand's iMix", and it will open up the list in iTunes if you have it installed. If you don't have it installed, you can click here to install it.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Timmy's Memorial Fund

I am Josi Kenline, a sister in Christ who has been working with the Elfstrands to establish a memorial fund.  The fund is with their bank, US Bank. 
Please make the Non-Tax-Deductable Donation Payable To:
The Timothy J. Elfstrand Memorial Fund
Mail to:  US Bank
             The Timothy J. Elfstrand Memorial Fund
             2385 Esplanade
             Chico, CA  95926

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Timmy's Memorial Service

Timmy's memorial service will take place at Trinity Church in Redlands, California at 1 PM on Saturday, January 17, 2009.

  Trinity Evangelical Free Church
  1551 Reservoir Rd.
  Redlands, CA 92374

In lieu of flowers please contribute to Timmy's Memorial Fund.  Information regarding Timmy's Fund will be posted soon.

Thank you,
Martha I. Daggett

Monday, January 12, 2009

Elfstrands house cleaning

For those of you who are coming to help get the house ready on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 please come anytime after 11:30 am.  Thank you

Martha "Marrrta"

Meals for Lara and Marshall

If you are wanting to provide meals for the Elfstrands please contact Debbie Pierce.

Thank you,
Martha I. Daggett

Sunday, January 11, 2009

For those who are asking...

We will post Timmy's memorial information to the blog as soon as we
know it, but if you need additional information or if you would like
to help in some way, please feel free to contact: Martha Daggett or Lauri Ficke. Thanks!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A peaceful farewell

Timmy went home to be with Jesus today.

In the last few weeks and especially the last few days, Timmy grew more and more tired. Yesterday he slept through almost the whole day and night. This morning he was awake for about an hour before he fell asleep in tummy time. He slept for about another hour.

Then at about 10:30 AM, I looked over at him from the kitchen and realized that he had stopped breathing. I thought that we had lost him, but after I picked him up and held him he started to gasp for breath. After that, every breath became a struggle. It seemed that all of his energy was being used just for breathing.

He stayed with us for several hours. Marshall and I took turns holding him. Timmy's two favorite nurses came to help us decide the best way to keep him comfortable. He passed into the presence of our Lord at around 3 PM today. We praise the Lord that he died peacefully at home in our arms, surrounded by people who loved him. We will post information about funeral arrangements as we know them.

Thank you to everyone who has loved Timmy, prayed for us, and helped us in so many ways. We are so grateful that Timmy had such a wealth of love surrounding him. Although we will miss him terribly, we know that he will be happy and strong now, in a way he couldn't be on this Earth.

Timothy Joseph Elfstrand
August 11, 2007 - January 10, 2009

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Small earthquake

Just in case anyone's seen the news, yes, we did feel a small earthquake just before 8 pm. It was apparently a 4.5, over in San Bernardino. We are all fine, and nothing fell or was damaged or anything.  It needs to be a bit stronger than that to be interesting.

Playing in the ball pit

Timmy got to play in the ball pit today for occupational therapy. Fun!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Sweet dreams

I was sitting at the computer tonight when I heard noise coming from Timmy's room. When I went to investigate, I found that he was laughing in his sleep! I had to join in! If only I knew what he was dreaming about!

Petting a goat

Timmy with the LA Zoo lion

Celebrating the new year at the zoo.