Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Done and Done-In

Whew. I am so glad today is over, and so not looking forward to the run of craziness yet to come in the next few weeks due to our appointment overload. It seems that everything happens at once! When it rains doctor's appointments, it pours them.

We ended up spending an hour at the hospital this afternoon, and about 80% of that time was waiting, waiting, waiting to be called. The boys were miraculously angelic. Really. I was shocked at how patient they were, especially because we were waiting in a regular, adult waiting room and I spent most of the time reading to them from Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens.

The actual blood draw went fairly well. They found a vein quickly, for which I am grateful. I think they had the arm band on too tight though, because his blood was pumping out way way too slowly (and of course he was screaming and flailing the entire time), but it's done now. Tommy was fascinated by the entire process. Maybe we should start saving for Med school. Both boys were pleased to receive juice and Teddy Grahams at the end of the ordeal, and anything graham goes a long way to solve Nicolas' problems.

I am physically exhausted from the ordeal, and also from taking them to get some groceries afterwards. Not my preference, but we were out of milk and low on fruit. My children are fruit monsters, so the situation had to be remedied at almost any cost.

Thank you for your prayers for Nic! Please continue to pray that the results from the tests are good. It's going to be a long week as we wait for the news.

Monday, 30 January 2012


This morning we got started a little later than usual, since I'm still dragging a bit from my cold. Thus I was rushing by the time I hit the shower, trying to get ready in time for the arrival of Nic's speech therapist. While thus indisposed, I heard a loud crash...and then silence. I figured no crying was a good sign, so I didn't jump out to check. A few minutes later Tommy runs into the bathroom to deliver this lovely nugget of information:

"Mom, Nicolas is doing something DANGEROUS."

I ran out to this scene:

Nicolas had taken their entire box of audio tapes (yes, I said tapes - we are old school around here), dumped it out, opened and separated every case, removed every tape, taken out every tape liner, and scattered them all across our living room floor. He was so pleased with himself. Look at this smile:

Needless to say I had a whole lot more to do in even less time than I had planned. At least we didn't get locked in any rooms this time, and there was no drooling...

Please pray for the aforementioned troublemaker tomorrow (Tues) at 1pm CST (11am PST). He is having a big blood draw and he is not going to enjoy it.

Friday, 27 January 2012

As Predicted...

in my last post, someone got sick. Me. The funny thing about taking a "sick day" when you have two energetic boys is that it is almost less restful to stay home than it is to drag yourself out of the house. I need to remember that next time.

I woke up Thursday aching and congested, and decided we would not be making the trek to story-time/playgroup at the library. I knew that if I didn't get my rest on Thursday I would be in big trouble come Friday when I had to get Nic to his audiologist appointment. After all, all this speech therapy would be for naught if the child can't actually hear any of it. Thus, I announced at breakfast that we were having a special stay-home day. Over the course of the day the boys had an extra long bath, played construction, cars, read books and listened to music. Because Tommy has recently decided that cooking is the best kind of fun, we made a crock-pot full of potato soup, two tortilla casseroles (one for dinner, one for the freezer), a loaf of cinnamon raisin swirl bread, and did the million dishes associated with all that cooking. By the end of the day I was wiped out, and it was time for the boys to watch part of a movie so that I could sit down and try not to pass out. I've learned my lesson - never get sick again. At least the boys had a lot of fun.

Today we made it to MOPS, and it was a very low-key meeting so I think I got more rest there than I did all of yesterday. We hit up "Old McDonald's" by way of bribery/reward for attending yet another appointment, and then went to Easter Seals. I feel rather sorry for Tommy these days because Nicolas has had so many appointments (and will have many more in the coming weeks), and thus not only is Nicolas getting to play with new fun toys and receiving special attention, Tommy has to sit fairly idly and watch all of this happen. Of course I bring special toys for Tommy to play with, but for an extrovert like Tommy toys do not make up for missing out on interaction. Today Nic got to sit on my lap and watch light-up animals making sounds in a little booth while playing with squishy Thomas the Train toys...and Tommy really wanted in on that action. At least next week when we go for Nic's blood draw Tommy will be pleased not to participate.

The audiologist appointment went well. Nic sat through all of the tests very nicely and fussed only minimally about having strange objects stuck in his ears. Also, his ears got a fairly good cleaning from all the squishy things being poked into them (I know because they came out super gross - but I follow the directions on q-tips and do not stick them into my kid's ears so there is bound to be wax in there). He passed the tests on one side and had borderline results on the other. We have to go back in two months to retest, because the audiologist believes that the mixed-results were due to congestion/negative pressure on the ear drum, and while she thinks that will clear up on its own, she still wants to check it. In any case, her verdict was that even if he does have a small problem in one ear, it is minor and should not be affecting his speech development. I am thankful to have this particular cause for delay ruled out. My limited experience with baby signs has convinced me that sign language is not one of my gifts.

In other appointment news, the insurance approved Nic's tests for his upcoming hematology appointment, praise God! He is scheduled to lose a few vials of blood next week, which should allow plenty of time for the tests to be completed before his appointment. Please pray for his fetal hemoglobin levels. We want those to stay elevated, as those cells are the ones that are keeping him healthy and preventing his sickle cells from causing problems in his body. We are hoping for 38% fetal cells in his blood, the amount he had last time, and the typical amount for adults with persistent fetal hemoglobin...which is what we are hoping he has.

Finally, for Jess, who has requested recipes that use cream soups...here is a favorite in our family, and it just so happens I made it this week. It is from my Aunt Robin's Taste of Home Cookbook. It calls for turkey, but if it isn't right after Thanksgiving I use chicken.

Turkey Tortilla Casserole

Combine and simmer until vegetables are tender:

1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c chopped celery

In a large bowl stir together undrained vegetable/broth mixture and the following items:

3 c chopped cooked turkey or chicken
10-12 corn tortillas, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 4-oz can Cream of Chicken soup
1 t pepper
1 t salt

Stir in:

1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c Jack cheese

Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 9 by 13 pan (a 9 by 9 works too, but it will be very full- this is what I do).

Top with:

1 c mild salsa
1/2 c cheddar
1/2 c jack

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tearing the tortillas is a pain, so when I do it myself I cut them with kitchen shears. However, tearing them is a great task for little helpers...so I let Tommy sit and do it while I put the rest of the recipe together.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


I am a bad bible study leader who missed the first week of our new study because I was still on vacation in CA. I would feel super bad about it, but I think I was probably lying on the beach while everyone else was shivering in the church library...enough said? Anyway, based on the conversation the week I returned, everyone picked a new word to focus on for the year. Last time, I chose contentment.

I would be lying if I said that I had mastered the art of perfect contentment. I have not. However, I have managed to lay aside a good portion of my unnecessary grumbling, both in my utterances and thoughts. I do still struggle on snowy days, or worse, freezing rain days, when I have to trudge outside to do the laundry, but overall I have felt much more at peace. I have even learned to see the bright side of small apartment living (so much less vacuuming!) and have come to terms with the impermanence of Jeff's current job.

Considering that our apartment is about to feel a whole lot smaller come May/the arrival of the baby, and that Jeff's current contract is non-renewable, contentment might be a smart thing for me to continue to focus on. I seriously considered it. However, the more I thought about it, the more short-sighted it felt. Contentment, or being satisfied and happy with what you have, is very important. But the longer I spend actually feeling satisfied with what I have, the more I realize that it is absurd that I wasn't before. I live in a situation that the vast majority of the world would envy. I have 850 square feet of climate controlled, safe, housing. I have not only enough food, but more food than I need. I share ownership of a car, loads of furniture, and more kitchen appliances than can possibly be necessary. I worship freely every Sunday and can meet openly with my peers to study God's word. I have been allowed to steward four precious lives, and wake up each morning to care for the three that I am blessed to have with me. I have an amazing husband who loves me so much (and don't worry, I love him too). I also have a wonderful extended family and caring friends. Talk about abundance!

Thus, abundance is my word for this year. Instead of focusing on the gap between what I think I need to feel happy, satisfied, or complete and what I actually have, I am declaring that what I have is not only enough, it is more than enough. It is abundant.

Now that I've stated publicly that my life is abundant and I am focusing on abundance this year, I'm sure that this is going to get a whole lot harder. In fact, I know it is because it's winter and freezing out and the walls of my apartment are going to feel like they are shrinking once somebody gets sick and we get stuck in here for a whole week. My skin is starting to crawl just thinking about it. So, this is the verse I will be clinging to on those days when I need a little reminder:

Psalm 66:
10 For You have tried us, O God;
         You have refined us as silver is refined.
11 You brought us into the net;
         You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins.
12 You made men ride over our heads;
         We went through fire and through water,
         Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Fun in the Snow

Amy went up to Evanston yesterday afternoon for a baby shower for a good friend of ours, so the boys and I had a fun guys' day full of quesadillas, Bob Dylan, and playing outside in the snow!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Our Week In Review

It's been one crazy week. We spent the first half of the week in a vicious nap/staying up late/sleeping-in cycle with Tommy thanks to jet lag. I think we are done with it, but it was not fun for anyone, especially in the morning. We started up all of our activities this week, and that went well - the kids were very excited to see their friends and get back to their schedule.

Nic had his first "speech" appointment, which might be more appropriately described as his first "sign language" appointment. I have nothing against baby signs. We used them a bit with Tommy, and have used the very basics with Nic (eat, more, please, thank you), but we are apparently moving into a more hard-core use of signs. I'm not entirely sure why, in fact I am positive that I read somewhere that extensive use of signs delays verbal expression, so I am a wee bit skeptical about this approach. That said, I am doing everything that they ask and Nic is now using all but one of the signs that were introduced at this week's session. This has been frustrating for Nic, because he had a fairly good system in place for communicating what he wanted and that has now been disrupted. However, since he picked up on his signs so quickly it hasn't been horrible. The therapist was very pleased with Nic's participation at the session, but not happy with his lack of vocalization, since he made almost no noise the entire time except a few "neutral sounds." Right now I am supposed to be training him to mimic adults so that when the therapist asks him to try a sound he will respond. Interesting story: we were reading one of Nic's favorite books, and I asked him to make a "Baa" sound. He looks at me and does a perfect "Baa." So I clapped and encouraged him and tried to get him to do it again. He looks at me, smiles smugly, and turns his head away, then points for me to read the book again. He is such a stinker! (Yes, Nic has a known "smug" smile...the child totally knows when he is being mischievous). I am really hoping he doesn't decide that the stubborn game is one he wants to play continuously...especially with the therapist. It's so funny because Tommy is dying to participate in Nic's therapy. He keeps trying to sneak in and answer the questions and play the games; he just loves showing off his skills. Nic, on the other hand, doesn't seem to care about performing, he just wants to do what interests him. (I love how different my kids are - it really is fun to get to know them as such different people).

I had another appointment with the OB and I brought the boys. This time no one asked me how I managed to have a family without giving birth. Mission Accomplished! I kept them strapped in the stroller for the whole time, so they didn't cause much of a commotion. Second mission accomplished: I totally gained weight and I don't have to worry about it anymore. They started measuring my uterus this time, and it is completely on track, so that seems good. Next appointment I have all my blood tests and my shot for having a negative blood-type. Ugh. I hate shots. I turn 25 weeks on Sunday, and after that I will officially be the most pregnant I have ever been (Leah was born at 25 weeks to the day). Tomorrow (snow permitting) I get to pick up my newly hemmed maternity pants, and it will be good-bye jeans and belly band combo. Hopefully the new pants will be more comfortable. I also got all the paperwork sorted out so I can have my follow up ultrasound for my low lying placenta in another six weeks. Apparently I had a referral to the high-risk doctor for more visits than anyone could need, but they were all in relation to SRPS. Since he has ruled out SRPS, I needed new paperwork for this new complication, but it has been procured and everything has been arranged.

Nic has an appointment with his hematologist in early February, so it is time for yet another big blood draw for the poor guy. Despite having done this before (twice) it has required a number of emails, phone calls, faxes, and paperwork, and it is probably only half-way to happening. Please pray that his insurance is willing to approve the tests at the facility that our hematologist prefers, and that the approvals will come in time so we don't have to reschedule our appointment. If we have to do the tests at the lab our pediatrician/medical group usually uses then our hematologist won't get to review the slides himself, and the state of Nic's blood on the slides tells him useful information (and is not an official test that the lab records). We really want our hematologist to have as much information as possible when he reviews Nic's case. Between my medical paperwork and Nic's I feel like I have spent half the week on the phone! In reality it was probably like 30 minutes total...

Now it is snowing like crazy. I have time to blog because Jeff got sent home from work early, which is always a treat! He and Tommy are having an awfully good time reading books and playing cards while Mum has a break...in the afternoon...it's crazy! Yay for snow!

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Our attempt to leave California was foiled by a snowstorm in Chicago. This gave us another chance to eat more and see a few people we missed on the first round. We also may have managed one last trip to the beach...because it was 75 and one really shouldn't not be at the beach when it is that warm in January. Although I was more than a little disappointed when I found out we wouldn't be heading back as scheduled (seriously, I was missing Jeff and loathed the idea of re-packing our bags), by the end of the beach day I was feeling less out of sorts. It also helped that I didn't unpack much, so re-packing was not the ordeal that the initial packing turned out to be. Below are pictures of our Chic-Fil-A date (at the new "sit-down" restaurant) with Aunt Emily, Aunt Annie, Molly, and my parents, and our time at the beach. The kids both really loved the beach this trip. Tommy has finally plucked up the courage to go in the water a tiny bit by himself, and to go pretty deep with help (my mom took him and tells me he was singing "Oh the Deep Deep love of Jesus" as the water rose). Nic still prefers splashing in a bucket and playing in the sand, but he also dipped his toes in on this trip. You will note there are no pictures of me at the beach, despite my mother's attempts to photograph me in her old, stretched-out Land's End tankini (for the record this is nothing against tankinis. There are many cute tankinis in this world. This is not one of them). My dad's comment on this was that I was wearing a very old-lady like suit. It was true, I looked like a grandmother. My own mother looked way better than me because she has recently upgraded to a much cuter tankini. But nothing else fit. I will endure that humiliation on the beach for my children, but NOT ON MY BLOG.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Goodbye (First Attempt)

Our first attempt at leaving California involved lots of eating and visiting relatives. It is very important to eat as much Mexican food as you can before leaving California, because it just doesn't taste the same in Illinois. Unfortunately we didn't get pictures at all of our stops, but below you will see us chowing at El Burrito, visiting Great Gran, and having lunch with Aunt Emily in LA.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Maternity Madness

In two weeks I will officially be more pregnant than I have ever been, and it will be all new territory from there on out. However, my body already feels more pregnant than I ever felt with Leah, I think because I am now bigger than I ever was last pregnancy (and I probably have been fore 2 to 3 weeks now). I am happy to report that I still have a belly button, for now, and as of yet no varicose veins. I am unhappy to report that the whole "carrying low" thing is extremely unpleasant already. I thought the second trimester was supposed to be the honeymoon period of one's pregnancy, with morning sickness a thing of the past (true) and aches and pains and sleepless nights yet to come. Instead, I have a child that spends all day bouncing up and down on my bladder. Even when I don't have to go the bathroom I feel like I need to, and I am learning to live with the feeling, because it is annoying to run to the bathroom every fifteen minutes and realize that it was for nothing. Also, my hips are starting to ache, I think they may be working on the whole spreading apart thing, that or the little mister using them for his acrobatics. I am fairly convinced that at this point my uterus/placenta are not properly migrating because nothing feels like it is moving upwards and there is no more room for it to grow down unless it decides to travel down one of my legs (writing that reminded me of the old female moodiness/mental illness being caused by a wandering uterus school of medicine, and while that theory is obviously ridiculous I have also always thought that it was a funny). I am convinced that I have gained tons of weight in the last few weeks because I am much bigger, so now I will resume more normal eating habits lest my doctor tell me to lose weight next appointment. Thank you wheel of brie, wedge of cranberry wensleydale, berry pie a la mode, double doubles, mayonaise, and popcornopolis zebra corn, you have done your job well.

I am feeling much better about things since our twenty week ultrasound. I still have moments panic over the possibility that the doctors were wrong (ultrasound diagnosis is never 100 percent), or when I remember that are a bunch of other things that could go wrong, or if I haven't felt the baby move in a while, but overall things are much better. I was able to maintain my sanity whilst shopping for maternity clothes- an activity that almost sent me over the edge the first time I tried it at about 14 weeks. In fact, that night was probably the worst night of sleep I have gotten this entire pregnancy. This time I was able to shop without anxiety, which was a nice change. Well, I had some anxiety since apparently I am too tall for the "short" jeans and too short for the "regular" jeans, so now I have to get myself to the tailor and have my maternity pants hemmed pronto because my regular jeans held on by a rubber band are just not that comfortable anymore. Since the 20 week I have had one nightmare about delivery (it was so awful that I don't feel like recounting it), and I woke up completely panicked, but thankfully it hasn't happened again. My next appointment is next week, and this time I am taking the boys so as to prove they exist and prevent my being annoyed when the OB (the last one I have to meet) inevitably asks me how I managed to have children without being pregnant. I think the answer is fairly obvious in person...

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Thomas the Train and Richard Nixon

Last week (while Jeff was still here) we had the opportunity to go to the Nixon library to see their Christmas train exhibit. I know, every time you think of Richard Nixon TRAINS are the first thing that comes to mind. For whatever reason, probably because it brings in visitors and makes money, the Nixon Library does a big train display every year. They have one massive Lego train exhibit, designed and built by a local lego club, as well as a separate exhibit featuring four different displays of regular electric trains, one of which featured (current favorites) Thomas and James. Tommy was absolutely fascinated by all the trains, and Nic was interested enough. They also have a presidential helicopter on display, tours of the house that Nixon was born in, and of course an exhibit on the Nixon presidency. The boys really liked the helicopter, tolerated the house, and were not at all interested in the actual exhibits except for the big computer touch screens in the new Watergate display. I was surprised that they lasted as long as they did....I barely made it!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Game Day!

So, our bowl game didn't go exactly as we hoped...or well at all, BUT, the boys looked great watching it. We all know that that is what really matters...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Tide Pools!

Crazy surf

Rock Climbing

Growing Bump

Yesterday the weather was a glorious 80 °F, so we decided we HAD to get outside and enjoy it. We opted for the tide pools instead of the regular beach (we've already done that a few times) and it proved to be the perfect, if exhausting, choice.

We drove to White Point and had a picnic lunch as we waited for low tide. There are some awesome rocks around the beach, so I taught Tommy a few rock "climbing" (aka scrambling) techniques, and we watched the waves together for a bit. Then we ventured into the actual pools. There was a very high and wild surf, so we stayed away from the outer banks of the pools where all the really good creatures are, but safety is more important than sea cucumbers...

In the lower pools we did find lots of neat shells, as many hermit crabs as one could ever want to see, mussels, barnacles, sea anemones, and little fishy things. Tommy enjoyed collecting shells and looking at the various creatures, while Nic wanted to splash around with all of them. He was putting his little toes in with the hermit crabs, poking (gently) at anemones, and spent the entire time wading and splashing. As the tide began coming back in there were some pretty spectacular waves breaking along the outer banks, so we sat and watched those for a while to both boys' delight. Then we poked around at a nearby land conservancy/nature center before heading home.

It was so much fun, but all of that activity wiped me out (and the kids too). It is a lot harder to lug kids over rocky tide pools and over trails when you are great with child than when you are not. We were so hungry when we got home that Tommy at 3 1/2 of my mom's special tacos...which is more than I can eat! For my part, I could barely stay awake to get myself into bed. I must say that it was entirely worth it though. The boys had such a good time that I would do it over again in a heartbeat...aching feet and all.