Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Harlem Globetrotters...NOT!

I love basketball. My dad and I used to watch all the Bulls games together. The '90's were the best- two threepeats, and it doesn't get any better than Michael Jordan. I've always wanted to see the Harlem Globetrotters, and the opportunity presented itself in an odd way.

I needed to get new glasses and contacts, and Jaime recommended I go to America's Best to do one of their deals and get 2 pairs of glasses. So, I did that, and in the process, I got a pair with transition lenses. When I did that, I received a voucher for 2 free tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters while I was on Christmas break. I called my mom and booked her to babysit so that Ryan and I could go to the 2 PM performance.

My mom came from work on Monday, and both kids really enjoyed having her at our house. I was very excited to go see the Globetrotters on Tuesday. Tuesday morning came around, and I got up. I felt like I had been beaten up. My head throbbed, my joints ached, I couldn't breathe out of my nose, and I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.

Needless to say, we did not go see the Harlem Globetrotters. Instead, Ryan and Grandma took care of the children, and I slept on the couch and was miserable. Oh well, maybe I'll get to see them one day.

Here are some pictures that we took of Grandma and the kids, plus, a few I took today, when Noah decided to have me build a large railway complete with a nativity and zoo (we re-enacted the Polar Express all day).

Monday, December 28, 2009

An Excellent Christmas...

We started the Christmas festivities on the 23rd. Noah helped me bake Jesus' birthday cake, and then we made some cutout cookies (they didn't turn out so well, but we had fun anyway).

On Christmas Eve, it was very icy out. Our backyard was a sheet of ice, and the dogs had to walk slowly and carefully every time they went out. After both kids' afternoon naps, we opened presents. It was fun to watch Noah's excitement. He jumped up and down each time we gave him a present to unwrap. He even unwrapped mine and Ryan's gifts.

On Christmas Day we went to Jaime and Bill's house to open more presents. Noah and Liam were so excited (Rori Rose was too). I think Noah's most prized present was the book, "The Polar Express", that he got from Grandma and Grandpa. He has slept with it every night and brings it everywhere. He also really liked his new Thomas the train pajamas, and had to put them on at 3:00 on Christmas. It was a really nice day, and Auntie Val and Uncle Randy also stopped by for a visit.

I don't have any pictures from Christmas Day (hint Grandma Vicki), but I do have some pictures from Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

From The Mouth of Two-Year Olds Part II...

Since Eric's accident, I have avoided using the entrance of our subdivision, as that is where the accident occurred. Yesterday, I wasn't thinking and took that way home. Noah said, "Look Momma, crosses!" I started to cry. Noah said, "Why crying Momma?" I told Noah that Momma's heart hurt. Noah said, "Stop car Momma. I kiss heart and make better." What a sweetheart, right?

Later that afternoon, I noticed Noah studying Finchy. He pointed at Finchy's boy parts and said, "What those, Momma?" So, I told him, to which Noah replied, "Finchy has peanuts?" I laughed so hard.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Special Babysitters...

Last year for Christmas, my sister Jaime got us 2 movie tickets and a movie giftcard to go on a date. They would watch our kids while we went to a movie at the theater by their house. Well, almost a year has gone by, and Jaime said they would like to watch our kids so Ryan and I could go to a movie for Ryan's birthday. I asked her if she was sure; it's not that I don't trust her with my kids, it's just Juliana can be pretty high maintence if she's having a bad day- there are days here and there when we can barely handle her.

So, what did her offer involve?

This is Brendan, my newest and mellowest nephew. Isn't he cute? He's 2.5 months old. I think he looks like Jaime.
These 2 characters are Liam and Rori Rose. Rori is the oldest at 4 and Liam is 2.5. Isn't Liam the cutest Darth Vader ever? And Rori's the prettiest Jasmine around!

And you've met my two children already. Juliana 7.5 months and Noah 2.75 years.

So, how many children is that? Five. How many are either 4 or less? Five. How many are 2? Two. How many are under the age of 1? Two. Is my sister nuts? No, but she has a good heart.
Shortly after we left, my cell phone rang. It was Jaime. I was sure either Noah was melting down or Juliana was freaking out because they were trying to feed her a bottle. She called to say that Noah asked for us, but she explained to him that we had to leave for a little while and he was going to stay and play with them. He said, okay, and went back downstairs to play with his cousins. Not even a tear.
Did I mention that when we returned to their house (after seeing New Moon- Ryan's choice, not mine since I had already seen it), we were greeted with the wonderful smell of apple dumplings that Jaime had time to bake while we were gone? Talk about Super Mom. Then, we went downstairs to see everyone. They had gotten Juliana to take a nap, and as we came down the steps, Noah took a flying leap and tackled Bill to the ground (he's going to be sore tomorrow).
So, thank you, Jaime and Bill, for watching our children for us. We knew they were in safe hands and knew they would have fun. In fact, both kids were sound asleep before we got on the expressway to go home.
Oh, and the apple dumplings were delicious. Jaime even sent some home with us, AND she baked Ryan brownies for his birthday. I know, she's nuts (in a good way, of course, Jaimers).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Penguin Baseball...

Here's an addicting little site for you if you are ever bored:
Basically, you are the abominable snowman, and you click the mouse once for the penguin to slide down the iceberg, and then click the mouse again to swing the baseball bat and hit the penguin. I learned about it at school- our media center does stressbusters at Christmas time, and we had a competition during our lunch periods to see who could hit the penguin the furthest. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's So Hard To Say Good-Bye...

One of the hardest things about being a teacher is when you lose a student. Last Friday, one of the nicest kids I've known was killed in a car accident. I've lost 4 students in the 9 years that I've been teaching. 3 of them have been to car accidents. I've gone to all of the wakes. No one should ever have to bury their own child.

Last night, I went at 7 PM. I got into the long line of faculty, friends, and family to pay my respects. He was on the bowling team. Bowling teams from our conference came to pay their respects. It was amazing. I didn't get up to say good-bye to him until 8:30, that's how long the line was. I lost it when I got up to his casket, just like I did a few years ago when I lost another young man to a car accident.

It's so hard to say good-bye. Rest In Peace, Eric. I'll miss you.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Hate You Friday, December 11

This morning I was so excited that it was Friday. It has been a very long week. Things were going well today.

At the end of second period, I opened an email from the assistant principal of discipline. In the subject it said, "For your eyes only". We usually get these if someone has written a threatening message in a bathroom, or if they need us to identify a student in a picture. What I read was not something like that at all.

A former student of mine that I had as a sophomore, was in a car accident this morning on his way to school. He didn't make it. He was a senior. He was a nice kid. One of the nicest kids I've ever met.

I just realized that I keep typing was. This is so hard. I hate you, Friday, December 11. This is the 4th student of mine that has passed away. I hate you, Friday, December 11.

Here's a link that will tell you about his accident. He was a good kid. Please pray for his family, friends, and the students and teachers at my school.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Daddy's Little Girl...

Juliana has definitely become a daddy's girl. When he got home from California, she immediately stopped crying in my arms, lit up in a smile and proceeded to babble loudly at him. I imagine that she was yelling at him for being gone for a week, and to never do that again.
Last night, she was screaming in my arms, and Ryan walked into the house, and immediately, she started to smile, and then the following pictures were taken (I had to stand to the side, so as not to make her angry). How is that fair?!?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Daddy-Daughter Date...

Every Thanksgiving, Ryan and I watch the mini-series, "Band of Brothers". Every Christmas break, I read the book, "Band of Brothers". I'm a huge World War II buff. So much so, that I one of the people I would love to meet is Major Dick Winters, who lead Easy company that "Band of Brothers" is based off of. If you haven't seen it, you definitely should.

My dad is also very much into World War II. In fact, he has actual pictures of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, framed and hung on the wall. My dad's uncle worked for an admiral of the US Navy, which is how my dad got the pictures. His uncle was able to pull strings to get my grandfather pulled off of a boat heading to the Pacific and stationed in Honolulu instead of being shipped to Guadalcanal. When I was in 5th grade, I did a project on Hawaii, and my dad allowed me to bring the pictures to school as part of my project. That's how I first became interested in World War II.

When Jaime and I were younger, and living at home, our parents would take us to the Mariott-Lincolnshire to see different plays. We saw Peter Pan, but my favorite was South Pacific. I love reading about World War II, and that's a common link my dad and I share. This year, Ryan was gone over my Thanksgiving break, and I was disappointed that we wouldn't have our marathon watching of "Band of Brothers".

My dad found out that "South Pacific" was coming to the Rosemont Theatre, and got 2 tickets for the two of us to go see it. Needless to say, it was AMAZING! We went to the Saturday matinee, and had really great seats. The man who played Emile Debeque was a well-known opera singer, and I honestly don't think he needed to have a mic on him. I could have listened to him sing forever. Since we went to the matinee, we were surrounded by many older people (like my grandma's age). It was interesting listening to them talk about their memories of World War II. A younger lady mentioned that her father was stationed on the USS Arizona, and had gotten shore leave the morning of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and was unable to get back to the ship before it was sunk. She said he was never the same after that, and felt guilty that he didn't die with the rest of his "brothers".

Thank you, Daddy, for taking me to see it. I had a wonderful time :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Out Of The Mouth Of Two Year Olds...

I think that out of the ages that Noah has been, I have enjoyed this age the most. He says the funniest things! For example,

1) This morning, I was talking to him about being a good boy and he said, "I not a good boy. I Noah, momma!"

2) Ryan's been gone since Thanksgiving night, and I told Noah that Daddy was on an airplane, so at least 7 times a day we have this conversation: "Momma?" "Noah?" "Where Daddy?" "I don't know, where is Daddy?" "Daddy on airplane!" "Is he coming home today?" "No, momma! He flying now!"

3) A couple months ago, I smelled something foul and told Noah we needed to change his diaper. "No change diaper! I got gas!" He was wrong.

He cracks me up!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Eating = Weight Gain

On Sunday, we sent a bottle with Juliana to the nursery. In theory, the little girl should have been hungry. She hadn't eaten since 2 AM, and church starts at 9. We had tried to feed her right before we left, but when the little girl doesn't want to eat, she doesn't want to eat. One of my friends, Anna, works in the nursery and there is no one I'd rather leave Juliana with. Anna is a calm and loving lady. She has the ability to get any baby, no matter how fussy, to calm down, just by holding them and talking to them. I let Anna know that if the little girl got fussy, she could try to feed her with the bottle that was already made.

When I went to pick Juliana, Anna said, "I'm so sorry, Jenna. I tried to get her to drink some of her bottle when she got fussy, but she just acted like she was drinking." I assured Anna that it was alright; that the little girl likes to "toy with your emotions" when you're feeding her, that that was perfectly normal for Juliana. On a different note, Anna was able to soothe her right to sleep.

My point is this, if Anna couldn't get her to eat, then it's not just me, Ryan, Theresa, the grandparents, etc. So, we still continue to get up twice in the night to feed the little girl, as the night time feedings are still some of her best. During the day, she will eat between 5-6 ounces from 6:30-6. I know what you're all thinking, because that's exactly what Ryan and I think, "that's not normal". No, it's not, but we will continue to do what it takes to get food in this little girl.

Ryan and I had noticed that her legs have gotten a little meat on them (yay). We'd noticed that the 0-3 month clothes she had been wearing were getting a little small, and had finally switched over to all 3-6 month clothes (yay). The little girl turns 7 months at the end of this week, and we've been carefully monitoring and tracking all the food she has been eating- since birth. Ryan even prints out a graph that we take to doctor appointments, so that they can see that she still eats about the same amount of food she ate as a 1 month old.

Today, Juliana had an appointment at the gastroenterologist. I stripped her down to her diaper, and we weighed her. She had gained a pound in a month- this is a new record! I was excited. I had been feeding her when they called us back (hey, any weight counts, why do you think I didn't take her diaper off?). Dr. Smith was pleased as well. He told me, "I've been worried since I knew you were coming in today. If she hadn't made a big weight gain, I was afraid of what I was going to have to tell you." His statement took me by surprise. We knew he wasn't happy with the weight gains at all the previous appointments, but he never showed any worry. If Juliana hadn't made a big weight gain, he was going to send us to Children's Memorial downtown, and we were going to have to get her on a feeding tube.

Juliana is back on the growth charts (she had been on a slippery slope going downwards). She's hanging onto the 5th percentile by the tips of her fingers, but we will take it. Nothing has changed. He still wants us to do both night time feedings (sleep will have to wait awhile longer). We still have to concentrate her formula. She's still on both medicines. And we will still be working with the feeding therapist and dietician. He is hopeful that in the next 2 months, she will stay at the 5th percentile or even move to the 10th. All of our hopes are that she continues to gain and to eat.

Thank you for all the encouragement and prayers. You'll never know how much we've appreciated all of them.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Girls' Afternoon Out...

Being a high school teacher, I sometimes get sucked into reading books that my students are reading. Case in point, the "Twilight" series. Last year one of my students became my "supplier" bringing me a book as I finished each one. Fortunately, they are an easy read (otherwise I wouldn't have wasted my time because of my brain injury). As I read them, I found that I preferred one character over another, Jacob. I was totally turned off by Edward, he was too controlling, too overprotective, telling Bella who she could be friends with, where she wasn't allowed to go, etc. Jacob reminded me of Ryan. They both wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Anyway, if you're not a teenage girl, or the mother of a teenage girl, the movie, "New Moon" came out on Friday. It's the second book and second movie of the "Twilight" series. A group of ladies from work arranged to go see the movie on Sunday, and I went with. It was the first movie I'd been to since "Prince Caspian". Needless to say, I was excited. It was nice to get out of the house, and be out with friends. Plus, I enjoyed the movie, as it was more about Jacob than about Edward.

Was it a cheesy love story? Yes. Was there action? Yes. Was the acting better than it was in the first movie? Yes. Does Ryan want to see it now? Yes.

Go Team Jacob!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy birthday, Mom!

I love you so much. You are a great grandma to your ray of sunshine and ladybug girl, and to Rori, Liam, and Brendan (of course). I wish you lived closer so we could see you more often. Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Feeding Therapy...

People have been asking me about Juliana's feeding therapy and what it entails. I wasn't sure myself, but after a couple sessions, I can give you kind of an idea of what it is.

Our therapist, Vicki (same name as my mom, so that's a good sign), comes to our house, which is very nice. While she is at our house, she asks questions about Juliana and her lack of eating habits. Then, she holds her and touches her face and mouth, so that Juliana gets used to other people and having her face touched. After that, she gives Juliana different "toys" with different textures for her to put in her mouth, like a toothbrush, spoon, etc. We end the session with either Ryan or I giving Juliana a bottle while she watches Juliana eat (she's at the 1 month stage on sucking on a bottle, and the 3 month stage at how she sits while eating). While one of us puts Juliana to bed, she writes up her recommendations for us to work on until the next session.

This week's task has been getting her to hold a biter biscuit and having her put it in her mouth. We are supposed to do that every day. She's done pretty well with that, and lately she cries when she loses grip of it or if she can't get it to her mouth fast enough. We also have to try to get some baby cereal in her. We try that every day as well. That isn't going as great as the biter biscuits. I usually can get 2 baby spoonfuls in her mouth before she either gags or refuses to take anymore. The other night I got 5 spoonfuls in her before she turned away.

Anyway, that's what feeding therapy is. They tailor their therapy to the kid, so what works for Juliana may not work for another baby. Vicki told me that there are 32 steps to eating, and it starts with having the child in the same room with the food (some aversions are that bad- yikes!), so at least we've accomplished that step!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Special Visitor...

One of the perks of being a teacher is when former students come back to visit you, and you get to see the person they have become.

A few years ago, I had a student named Matt. Matt didn't care much about school, and he definitely didn't care about Chemistry, but he and I got along. I watched Matt make some poor decisions about friends and make other poor decisions. His mom works with me, and she and I would talk about the kind of person we knew he had the potential to become. We knew that if Matt got his head on straight, he could do great things.

At the start of the school year, I ran into Matt's mom, and she told me that he joined the Marines. As any proud Mom does, she pulled out pictures of Matt. I could barely recognize the young man in the pictures. A few weeks ago, Matt's mom asked me if I would be interested in writing to Matt if she gave me his address. I told her I would love to. Then she told me that Matt would be on leave and wondered if he could stop in and see me. I told her that would be awesome.

Yesterday, I was walking to an office to pick up the paper I had printed out, and I saw Matt's mom walking with a tall, thin, young man. It was Matt. I barely recognized him. I greeted him with a hug, and told him how proud I was of him, and then something happened that took me by surprise. I started to cry, because I was so happy to see that he turned his life around, and had become the young man that I always knew he could be.

Matt, I'm so proud of you! Thank you for serving our country!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Things I've Learned Today...

Okay, so Ryan is on a business trip, and I have had quite the eventful afternoon/evening.

Here's a list of things I have learned this afternoon/evening...

1) Noah's frames for his glasses have been discontinued, which means a trip back to the eye doctor's.

2)When you are soothing Juliana, and you don't hear Noah, you must immediately become suspicious.

3) The reason you should be suspicious is because the toilet in the downstairs bathroom is clogged.

4) YouTube has a video that will show you how to snake a toilet.

5) Snaking a toilet is not something you should try to do when Juliana is angry.

6) When the feeding therapist arrives, it isn't always happy news (Juliana is at a 3 month stage for several of her oral milestones, and is at the 1 month stage for feeding).

7) The feeding therapist is excellent about getting the dogs to go back outside after Noah lets them in (because I forgot to lock the patio door after sending them out) while I am changing Juliana's very poopy diaper.

8) When you are feeding Juliana (with the feeding therapist observing), and Noah goes upstairs, you should immediately become suspicious.

9) When Noah comes back downstairs and shows you his sticky hands, immediately become suspicious.

10) The reason you should become suspicious is because Noah has somehow gotten the cap off of his Thomas toothpaste (to brush his teeth like a big boy) and has smeared it all over the bathroom.

11) After stripping Noah down and cleaning him up, NEVER let him close his bedroom door when no one is in his room.

12) The reason for doing that is because, Noah hit the lock on his door when he shut his door, leaving him naked in the hallway along with his VERY frustrated mother.

13) Always leave the bedroom door keys on a bookshelf, it makes them easier to find.

14) Opening a locked bedroom door takes some skill, but eventually anyone can do it.

15) Just leaving a clogged toilet to sit, doesn't mean it's still not clogged.

16) After 15 minutes, I successfully snaked the toilet. Still don't know why it was clogged, and I don't want to.

17) Being a single parent is NOT an easy job, and I am thankful to have a husband.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Balding Already?!?

Yesterday, I took the kids to the opthamologist so that Noah could get his eyes checked. While we waited for his eyes to dilate, Noah sat on the floor and was playing with a toy. I happened to look down at the top of his head, and I notice that he's missing a patch of hair. I knelt down next to him, and moved his hair to examine it closer. The size is a little smaller than a quarter, but that's still a good chunk of hair to be missing. I couldn't believe it and Ryan and I couldn't figure out how he lost a patch of hair, until after we put him to bed.

Since Noah was like 10 months old, he always rocked himself to sleep. He puts his head in the corner of his crib, gets down in what we call the "praying to allah" position and rocks and rocks and rocks. The doctor told us not to be worried about it, so we didn't worry about it. We always had the bumpers there. Well, the last time Noah threw up, some of the ties on the bumpers broke and we couldn't tie them in his crib, so we didn't put the bumpers back in there (yes, he's still in his crib, but we have his "big boy" bed set up in the room in case he shows interest in it).

Ryan figured out what happened to his head. Sunday morning, Noah woke up at 4 am (obviously we didn't get him). He started rocking. He rocked on and off until Ryan got him at 6 am(the earliest time we will get him). So basically, he rocked on and off for 2 hours. The friction probably started loosening up his hair follicles (yes, the anatomy teacher in me is coming out). Sunday night he must have continued to rock, and his hair started falling out.

I tried to take a picture of it to post, but when I took it, it didn't look like he had a bald spot so it didn't have quite the effect that it should. I just hope his hair grows back.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Special Protector...

When we first brought Juliana home, Noah wanted nothing to do with her. By the time she was 7 weeks old, Noah acknowledged that he had a sister. Now that she's a little over 6 months old, he has become her protector. This is a good thing, and a bad thing.
On Tuesday, I came to pick up the kids. Theresa told me that Noah had a rough day. Noah is a stubborn child, a very stubborn child. He gets that from both of us (mainly Ryan, though- ha ha). He doesn't like it when Paxton (who's a little less than a year younger than him) touches Juliana or anything that belongs to Juliana.

Theresa said that Paxton touched Juliana's car seat, and even though Juliana was not in the car seat, Noah went up to Paxton and shoved him down. Theresa put Noah in time out (I would have done the same). Every few minutes she would ask Noah if he was ready to say he was sorry or if he could give Paxton a hug. Noah kept saying "no". 25 minutes later (I told you he was stubborn), Noah gave Paxton a hug.

A positive part of Noah protecting Juliana, is that now he wants to hold her, make her smile, and he plays with her. I just hope that continues.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Breaking Point...

Last night, the speech therapist came to our house to evaluate Juliana and see if she has a feeding aversion. Well, as I suspected, Juliana has a feeding aversion. Now, she will be having oral aversion therapy 1 night a week. Fortunately, the speech therapist makes house calls. However, she also suggested a referral for a dietician to make sure Juliana is getting the right amount of calories.

At that point, I was ready to start crying. Really? Do we need to add another specialist to our roster of doctors?!? We have the pediatrician and chiropractor (for both kids), we have the opthamologist (for Noah), we have the cardiologist, gastroenterologist, and speech therapist for Juliana. And now we're going to add a dietician?!?

Honestly, I am at my breaking point. I really don't know how much more I can handle. We see some doctor every week. I feel like I am constantly going somewhere and I'm never at rest. Tonight, I'm supposed to be at "Mom Connection", and I know I could really benefit from going to it. To tell you the truth, the thought of getting into my car and driving there through the exhaustion that I'm already experiencing does not appeal to me.

I am physically and emotionally exhausted. I am seriously hanging there by a thread. Every day I wake up and plaster on the fake smile and prepare to say "everything is fine" when someone asks me how I am or how my family is, when I just want to scream or cry instead.

I know that God doesn't give us more than we can handle. I KNOW that, but right now it sure doesn't feel that way.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat...

This year was Noah's first time going "trick or treating" for Halloween. Last year he didn't really seem interested and helped me hand out candy. This year, I started talking it up the weekend before Halloween. He wore his costume most of the afternoon on Sunday, and we practiced saying, "trick or treat" and "thank you".

After his nap today, Noah was ready to get in his costume. It was cold and windy, so I layered on his clothes, starting with long underwear, a turtle neck, and then his Winnie the Pooh costume. Noah was so excited. We (Noah, myself, and Grandma Vicki) started at our neighbors house, and he said, "We trick or treatin! Thank you!" Each time we left a house, Noah said thank you and took off running to the next house. We hit more houses than I thought he would want, but when we got close to home, I asked Noah if he wanted to do more houses and he chose to go home. Then he helped Daddy and Poppa Jim hand out candy at the door.

Here are some pics of my little boy and little girl (who stayed inside where it was nice and warm).

How cute is he?!?

Isn't she adorable? What a cutie pie!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Geo Trax...

Our house has recently been hit with what I like to call, the plague. Last weekend, I had the stomach flu. Then, Noah came down with the stomach flu. Then, Ryan came down with a cold and flu, which was then passed on to Noah. The males in our house have been miserable for the entire week. Also this week, Noah chewed through his last Nuk, which has made bedtime rough on all of us.

Yesterday, I decided that after such a rough week (with the males still currently sick), I would put together Noah's Geo Trax sets. When my dad found out that I was having a boy, he went out and bought his future grandson a giant Geo Trax set that he gave Noah the Christmas before he was born. Every Christmas since, he has given Noah more Geo Trax to add to the set.

The first set took me 45 minutes to put together. It required 13 AAA batteries! Before my brain injury, I would have been able to put the track together quickly and have it look like the picture, but it literally took me 4 tries before I was able to do it. The next piece was pretty easy and took me about 15 minutes to do. The last set that I decided to tackle before going to bed was the airport. That one took about 30 minutes (which includes getting it out of the packaging. I swear, whoever packages that stuff must hate parents).

This morning, I brought Noah downstairs, and put him on the couch. He immediately got off the couch and started to play with his train set. He thought it was so cool, and then when I showed him the train was controlled with a remote and that the airplane was controlled with a remote, he was even more excited. It's amazing that before he was even born, Poppa Jim knew he would like trains. Like isn't even the right word. Noah LOVES trains- we watch Thomas and Dinosaur Train a lot in this house.

While I showered this morning, Ryan and Noah opened the extra tracks that Poppa had bought, and they built an even more elaborate track. I think this was the perfect weekend to set this up for Noah, and he's going to have so much fun with it for a long time. Thanks, Poppa Jim!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mind Matters...

Today is the 7 year anniversary of my brain injury. I don't remember much of what happened. Here is what I remember: I woke up to go to work. I took some migraine medicine, because I had a migraine that was just starting. I got into the shower. The next thing I remember is waking up on the floor of the bathroom. I wasn't in the tub, but I was wet, like I had showered. My head was all "fuzzy" and I felt like I was in a fog. I started to pull myself up off the floor. The next thing I remember is waking up on the floor of the bathroom, only this time I was closer to the bathroom door.

My head hurt and I had a huge lump on the back of my head. I crawled into the bedroom, and started trying to tell Ryan that I needed help. I couldn't get the right words to come out of my mouth. I was slurring. Ryan could tell something had happened, but I wasn't able to explain it. He called me in sick to school, and called my friend, Bernadette, to make subplans for me. Ryan said that I just sat on the couch mumbling "call GP, call GP" (that's what I call Bernadette).

I don't remember much else. I made an appointment to go see a doctor (did we think to take me to the ER? No, we were dumb). The next day I went to work, but I was very fuzzy, wasn't talking too well. My boss told me that I couldn't come back until I was cleared by a doctor and sent me home. I remember sitting on the bed, staring at my pants. I couldn't figure out how to put them on. Another time, I walked away from the stove after I lit a burner, and just left it on (thank God Ryan was home).

When I went to the doctor, I remember that he made me feel stupid with the neurological tests that he was putting me through. I cried. He sent me to get a CT scan. I got lost on the way, even though I had directions. My parents were in Florida, but I called my dad to try to get me un-lost. He couldn't really help me. I called Ryan and he left work to look for me. I eventually got to the hospital and had the CT scan.

My mom called that night and told me to email my migraine doctor and let her know what was happening. As soon as I did that, my migraine doctor (Merle Diamond) got the ball rolling. She had me get an MRI, have neurological testing done the correct way, and had me get other tests, like an EEG, etc. That's when we found out that I had a brain injury. I had lost my short term memory.

I don't remember anything from the week before my injury, which is sad, because I was in one of my closest friends weddings, and I see pictures of myself in it, but I don't remember a thing about it. I don't remember anything for 3 weeks after my injury either. I try and try, but I can't. I fill in the blanks with things that I am told, but I don't remember it at all.

In the past years, I have learned accommodations to help me out. I carry a calendar with me to help me keep track of day to day things, everything has it's own special color in my calendar. I store directions to places in the car, so I don't get lost. I had a huge anger management issue for 6 months following my injury. I would go from 0 to rage in less than 30 seconds. I still have rage issues, but I am able to control it a lot better. I don't have a filter anymore. By that I mean, that I used to think before I spoke. I'm a blurter now, and that has gotten me in my fair share of hot water. I have to work hard to avoid blurting out everything that I say. I freak out and get very overwhelmed in crowds. I used to not be able to go into Meijers, because there are so many choices to be made, and it was sensory overload on my brain. I've trained myself to handle it now. I used to be able to have all my students' names memorized by the 2nd day of school. Now it takes me at least a month to do that. I have changed in many ways, but I have tried to stay as close to the same person that I remember myself as. It's been hard, on me, on my family, but I think I've been able to cope with it better each year that I live like this.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So long old friends...

I have been a San Francisco Giants fan since November 1990 (Do NOT accuse me of jumping on the Barry Bonds bandwagon- I think he is a disgrace to baseball). That is when I had my knee surgery, and when my dad bought me the book, "Comeback" by Dave Dravecky. When I was a freshman in high school, one of my dad's friends who works in California, sent me this gigantic t-shirt. I wore it to school, and eventually I wore it to sleep in, especially during my pregnancies. The shirt was 18 years old- yikes! Talk about sentimental, eh?
My first year teaching, my friend, Bernadette, bought me these Operation pants. I wore them during homecoming week- pajama day or when it was clash day. They also came in handy during my pregnancies. The pants were 8 years old.

At the end of my pregnancy with Juliana, Ryan and I noticed that both items were becoming holey, ratty, and threadbare. I made the sad decision to retire them to the garbage can.
It was a sad decision, and I'm thinking (hint, Ryan or my parents) that a new Giants t-shirt would make an excellent Christmas present, as would a new pair of Michigan basketball shorts (I didn't take a picture of those before I retired them- go BLUE!). Isn't it funny how attached we become to clothes?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Farm...

Up by my parents' house there's a farm, and in the fall, they have all sorts of fun activities for little kids. What sorts of activities, you ask? Well, they have several inflatables (one that is a giant slide, and one that is an obstacle course, plus a couple others), they have a petting zoo, a barrel train, pony rides, etc. We took Noah & Juliana up there this weekend, and for those of you who aren't on facebook, here are some pictures of our day.

Going down the big slide the first time...

Going down the big slide "by myself"...

Doing the obstacle course with Daddy...

Pretty Pumpkin Princess

Back to the big slide...

Mmmmm, warm apple cider donuts...

Feeding the very friendly llama...

Noah and the goat who tried to follow Grandma out of the zoo...

He was fine until the pony started to move...

Walking the hay bale maze...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Finally, Juliana gets a win!

This week has been tough. On Tuesday, we took Juliana to the gastroenterologist. Last time we met him, he was arrogant, and abrasive with us (he was excellent with Juliana, though). Ryan told me to give him another chance, so we did.

We were dismayed to see that Juliana had only gained 2 ounces when she was weighed, but it wasn't like we were shocked. She had experienced a significant decrease in the amount of food she had been eating since she was started on Prevacid. Thankfully, the doctor listened to us this time, and agreed that Prevacid was doing more harm than good and started her back on Zantac. He also gave us a prescription for a medicine that would coat her esophagus. He thinks that she has learned to associate eating with pain, and hopefully this new medicine will help take away the pain of eating. We have to re-train her to believe that eating doesn't hurt. We go back in another 2 weeks for a weight check and to see if the medicine works.

Today, I took Juliana to the cardiologist (we really like this guy, so if you ever need a pediatric cardiologist, which I hope you don't, I strongly recommend him). Ryan stayed home with Noah, who was running a fever and had thrown up in the night (unfortunately I discovered it at 7 AM when I went to get him up).

They were running behind due to some medical emergencies in the morning, but Juliana was pretty happy. We were finally brought back to a room, and they did the usual: blood pressure, oxygen, pulse, and EKG. When the doctor came in, he was concerned about her lack of weight gain, but I assured him we were seeing the gastro guy in his office. He listened to her heart and said the murmur was much more faint, but he wanted to do an echocardiogram to confirm it, as well as check on her left ventricle.

This is where Juliana began to make us pay for the long wait. It took me a half hour to get her calmed down and asleep, and then the doctor was able to do the echo. He was very thorough, even checking the bloodvessels up into the neck. He spent a good 25 minutes on the echo (see why I like this man so much?). At the end, he looked at me and said the words I needed to hear this week, "2 of the holes are totally closed, and the third one has gotten much smaller. Her left ventricle is slightly enlarged, but it's within normal limits. I don't need to see her again until the summer." I was floored. I couldn't believe it. Finally, Juliana got a win! Thank you God, and thank you to everyone who has prayed for our little girl.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

She just doesn't get it...

So, our park district offers this program called "the biggest loser", based off the television show. Basically you pay a discounted fee and get 8 weeks membership at a gym, access to a personal trainer and they teach you how to eat healthy and use the equipment. I signed up to do it. I have a terrible body image (made even worse by 2 pregnancies), and I really want to get healthy for my kids and for myself.

Saturday I met with my first personal trainer. I had to fill out some papers, and at one point, I had to circle a number saying how committed I was to the program. I did not circle the 10, which indicates total commitment, for several reasons, and I think if you know me you already know why. For those of you who don't know me too well, I'll get to my reasons a little later.

Then, I got to get on the scale (sigh), and then I got measured (even more humiliation). Then the trainer gives me the workout schedule. She wanted me to do cardio workouts 5 days a week and do strength training every 4 days. In addition to that she wanted me to attend 4 "classes" a week: yoga-lates, belly dancing (no one needs to be subjected to seeing me attempt to dance in any form), combat kick boxing, and yoga. I started to giggle a little bit- sometimes I do that when I'm nervous.

So, she asks me: " Do you think you can do all of this?" Me: "Not all of it." Her: "Why not?" Me: "My family comes first." Her: "I thought you wanted to get healthy." Me: "I do, but" (then I got cut off). Her: "Don't make excuses." Me (trying to control my temper): "Look, I have a 2 year old son that I don't get to see enough because I have to work. I have a 4 1/2 month old daughter who has health issues that I don't get to see enough because I have to work, and I haven't even been able to enjoy my daughter because all we do is go to doctor's and try to get her to eat". Her: "You're married right?" Me: "Yes, for 10 years". Her: "Can't your husband watch the kids so you can workout?" Me: "Yes, but that's not the point. I want to see my family. I will come to work out after my children have gone to bed, but I won't do it every day, because I have a husband and I want to see him." Her: "Why don't you work out in the morning? We open at 5". Me: "Well, my daughter gets up in the night, so I feed her, and then I usually get up for the day after 5". Her: "So, you can workout then". Me: "Well, not really. I have to get myself and 2 kids ready so that I can drop them off at the babysitter and then go to work". Her: "What about your husband?" Me: "He's helping me get them ready until he has to leave". Her: "So, you're not that committed to the program". Me: "Not according to your standards."

She just didn't get it.

I meet with a new personal trainer tonight. One who is married and has children. I'll let you know how that goes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Grandma Vicki and Juliana...

My mom prides herself that the reason she and Noah have such a close relationship is because she was in the delivery room when he was born and cut his cord (yes, Ryan refused to do it). She was also the second one to hold him (no, I wasn't the third person, more like the 6th person).

When I was in labor with Juliana it was progressing slowly, so we figured my mom had plenty of time to leave our house (she and Grandpa were watching Noah) and get to the hospital. Things didn't work out like that. Since the epidural didn't work, everytime Ryan asked if he should call my mom, I refused to let him leave my side and threatened him when he tried to pull out his cell phone. Needless to say, Grandma Vicki wasn't in the delivery room to welcome the little girl or cut the cord (I cut the cord and got to hold her second).

Juliana's body temperature runs very warm, much like Grandma Vicki's. Sometimes, Juliana's head is so warm that I take her temperature to see if she has a fever. She doesn't. When my mom puts her hands on me, I tell her to take them off, because they're like the "hot hands from h-e double hockey sticks".

Grandma Vicki hasn't gotten to hold Juliana as much as she'd like, because she tends to cause Juliana to overheat (and vice versa) and then Juliana gets angry until someone much cooler takes her. Grandma Vicki, of course, chalks this up to not being in the delivery room with her and not cutting her cord.

I have felt bad for my mom, because she so desperately wants to hold Juliana and instead she has to watch the rest of us hold her while she smiles and babbles at us. She wants to feed Juliana a bottle, (and we all know how well feeding her has gone for those of us who run a bit cooler than my mom) but she hasn't been able to do that either.

Over Labor Day weekend, my parents spent the night, and I was able to get some pictures of my mom with Juliana. Not holding her, but she's pretty close. Mom, these are for you!