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Friday, June 30, 2006

What I aspire to......

So I'm reading the Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan, and I just thought this was kind of inspirational. At this part it tells about the mother not only takes care of 10 children, but also has an alcoholic husband. This was during a time period when the husband's alcoholism & asbuse was considered to be "at best a woman's lot and at worst her fault." That's a very depressing situation to be in. Yet the author, one of her children, states, "We knew our mother would never describe her life or ours as wretched. Her delight in living, reflected in her poetry and contest entries, rose out of bed with her every day. It was the one thin Dad couldn't drink away. "

I just thought that was neat that this woman lived in a situation that would make most people fall into a depression and yet it didn't get her down. She managed to raise happy healthy children and keep her sanity. And even delight in living. A lesson for me, if no one else.

sweet words

As what I suspect was an early present for Tom, Timothy said "Daddy" twice yesterday. The first time when he was holding him in a store, and again later in the evening. He was thrilled.

My ol' Man

Though he doesn't read this, I'd be remiss if I didn't send out birthday wishes to the toolman himself............


Justin's current favorite songs are (still) Fish Heads by They Might Be Giants and Castle on a Cloud from Les Miserables. Leanna doesn't seem to have one or two favorites. Castle on a Cloud was one of her favorites at that age too. She still likes it, just not with quite as much devotion as she used to. Same story with ELO's Don't Bring Me Down, Ballroom Blitz(I think Krocus), and Your Love(I think Outfielders)-all old favorites of hers.
She now sings along with many of the songs on the radio. That'd be zzo for us. Ones we listen to and occasionally ones we don't. Like when she started singing Hips Don't Lie-that one comes from Maree'.

But she's also become very creative with it-constantly making up her own songs about whatever she's doing. Both of them love to dance. We''ll have to catch one of Pop-Pop's summer shows to let them go out and dance. It'd be interesting to see Justin's reaction to seeing someone he knows onstage, and Leanna's also as she gets older.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

This morning

He ate one of my contacts.

I kid you not.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

At least it came out

Tonight I had a new experience. Now, Justin's put a few things in his ears before. But he just set them there, not jammed in or anything. Leanna's never really been a problem in that area.

I asked my Mom to come over tonight to hold the baby and help so I could clean up the messes Justin made as I was trying to get caught up paying the bills (spilled bubble bath, spilled my unopened ice-tea, smeared coffee grounds all over the stove and down it's front onto the floor, and dumped the leftover coffee out of the pot. And that's just while I was working on bills.) I occupied Justin with some play-doh while we started cleaning up. So imagine my surprise when suddenly a near hysterical Leanna screamed out,
"Mommy! I have play-doh stuck in my nose! I can't get it out!" Oh joy.

Let me tell you, it was not easy to get out. We used tissues and wet paper towels, rolled up in tiny twisted pieces to dig. (I offer my expertise just in case any of you find yourself in similar circumstances) I did ask her why she put play-doh in her nose, but she was too involved to answer. Just now she finally said, "Because I wanted to,and I didn't think it would be stuck there. I should have told you." I really wonder what was going through her mind. (I mean what, hmmm.....I wonder what this would feel like?) One thing I can say is that it is never boring here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Some days.....

You know it's bad when...........

Leanna, who had been sent upstairs, came running down yelling,"Mommy, I know I"m not supposed to come down but Justin went poopie in my playroom!" And I just laughed.

It's gotten to that point. It's not that if I don't laugh, I'll cry(well, maybe a little). It's just that I'm past getting angry and annoyed. It's just so constant, this kind of stuff. Everyone always says, oh years later you'll laugh about all this stuff. And yes, some of it will take time before that can happen. But the majority of it, I can see the humor in it now. I am just too angry or tired or whatever to laugh. And I have to focus on the serious side when there are disciplinary issues at stake. Sigh. Except for the one time when Leanna got angry at her Aunt Laura and called her a "heinie dragon." I couldn't make myself be serious long enough to lecture over it. That one still makes me break out in giggles.

Quick cute stuff

This morning I woke up to Justin laying next to me with two small toys, singing to them very quietly, " Vacuum, vacuum, playroom, playroom." Over and over.

A few days ago Leanna woke up and asked Justin to come with her and he said, "No. I busy." and layed there in bed with little arms crossed. Doing nothing.

Last week Leanna had a nightmare in which she wasn't behaving and a monster came and took her away. I guess phycologically speaking, that makes me the monster.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Did you ever see......

A pregnant power ranger? How about a power ranger with an elephant head and devil horns? Who likes to play with Lego?

You should come by my house. Events such as these are everyday occurances here!

new look

This is what Justin now does when you ask him to smile. Sometimes it gets even funnier.

A couple loaner camera pics

Timothy looks older in this picture. And here's Leanna using 3 new birthday gifts-the outfit, braclets, and fairy princess wand.

No more pencils, no more books............

A Belated Blog congradulations to Claire!!

Extra padding never hurts!

Uncle David shows Tom what a true pair of carpender's pants are, and Mimi helps Justin with his brand new big boy Elmo underwear. And he insisted on wearing all three pairs.

Mimi looked really cute in her little capris. She has good days and bad days, but overall I think the pacemaker has really made a big difference in how she feels.

More Birthday pictures

Later gifts from Mimi & Uncle David(play-doh, with all kind of cool gadgets to use on it for Justin and Leanna opening an apparently exciting coloring book):

Superman pjs from Mommy & Daddy-complete with cape!

More Birthday pictures

Later gifts from Mimi & Uncle David(play-doh, with all kind of cool gadgets to use on it for Justin and Leanna opening an apparently exciting coloring book):

Superman pjs from Mommy & Daddy-complete with cape!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

the house is on fire!

Justin waits to eat cake, and Tom's cake has so many candles we weren't sure a smoker could blow them out!

Night of the living Ant

Here's the original post from the Dilbert blog:

Night of the Living Ant

One of the perks of being a big-time celebrity cartoonist involves using a vacuum cleaner to get rid of ants in the kitchen. Before I made it big, I couldn’t afford a vacuum cleaner. I had to shout at the ants to scare them away. In retrospect, I don’t think ants have ears, because yelling never worked. Sometimes I had to keep my snacks in a wooden bowl floating in the bathtub. Eventually, when the ant army built up to the point where they could lift me in my sleep – but before they could get me down the ant hole – I would give notice on my apartment and find another.
Now I can afford high tech vacuum weaponry. It’s sweet. I’m not allowed to use the “good” vacuum cleaner obviously. That one is only for the carpet. I use the one that no longer stays locked in the upright position. So I suck up a few ants, then the vacuum cleaner falls over and impales my thigh. I curse, return the vacuum to its unlocked upright position and repeat. Suck-ow-%$&*#. Suck-ow-%$&*#. Suck-ow-%$&*#. Someday I hope to buy a new vacuum cleaner exclusively for ants.
Eradicating ants in the kitchen is exactly like being attacked by zombies, except the zombies are very small, and the worst thing they can do is walk on your crackers. As you know, when zombies attack, you can kill several hundred of them with your automatic weapons and flame throwers and stabby things, but additional zombies keep on coming as if they hadn’t noticed. Ants are just like that. They really aren’t good at pattern recognition. You can vacuum six hundred ants in a straight line and yet ant 601 won’t see it coming. He’ll be all “Hey, why am I suddenly in this bag full of dust? Carl, is that you?”
I get a perverse pleasure out of every ant that goes down the hose. It would bother me if they screamed in pain or begged for their lives, but they don’t, so it’s all good. Every time a new ant appears on the cabinet door, I delight in sending him to dustbag heaven. Ahhh, good times.
The only other household chore I enjoy as much as ant eradication is cleaning the cat box. It’s like panning for gold, except the gold is cat poop. That inconvenient fact doesn’t detract from the thrill of the find as much as you’d think. There’s something in our basic DNA that likes to find free stuff, even if the stuff is turds. Arguably, I paid for the cat food, so the nuggets aren’t really free. But as long as there’s some time lag between the paying and the prospecting, it’s still a low grade thrill.
What’s your favorite chore that shouldn’t be fun but is?

People are strange creatures

Wow. Ok, while feeding and comforting the baby I've been reading more replies to that Dilbert post. It reminded me of Tom saying something about putting salt on slugs to kill them. I thought that was really sick and wondered if maybe I should be worried. But after reading the all the replies I think that maybe this satisfies some basic (male??) urge to hunt and kill prey. Not so manly, maybe, when the prey stands no chance, but still.....Aside from kiling all sorts of small game, lots of people, male and female, also mentioned different household tasks as giving them satisfaction. Cleaning the house, ironing, dusting, cleaning the computer(defraging and such), washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, weed-wacking or lawnmowing, moving furniture, taking out trash, gardening, filing, sorting various items, sanding, woodcutting, argueing with a five year old, cooking, gardening, hole-punching, etc. etc.etc.

Anybody have one??

I like to iron, though I doubt I'd still find it satisfying if I did it all the time. But it's fun to flatten out the clothes and eradicate all those pesky wrinkles! Plus you get to spray that magic sizing stuff and that's fun too. I also like kitchen counters and stovetops to be clean. It bothers me when they're not. Not enough to say, do the week's worth of dishes that have accumulated while I've been catching up on laundry that are blocking me from cleaning the countertop. But it still bothers me. In fact, when I had only one child, I would always clean my Mom's kitchen counters when I went over. Occasionally after Justin, but I was just too busy at that point. I'm sure there are more, I'll have to think about that one.

Power tools and housework

Ok, this is just funny. It's from a Dilbert post which I will add later. He asks his readers what are their odd favorite chores to do. Tell me you can't see Tom doing this one:

I like cleaning the dishes. Seriously, I do. Having worked on cars my whole life, my friends and I (who share a house) have a few extra pneumatic tools than we needed in the garage, plus a large stationary air compressor.
One day we started arguing whose turn it was to do the dishes. We only did it once a month (whether it needed it or not *eyeroll*) and there was a sizable stack of flatware that needed de-gunking. It ended up with us running to the hardware store and plumbing a compressed air line into the kitchen, then retrofitting your usual kitchen cleaning items to work with things like pneumatic drills, angle grinders and blow off nozzles for drying. Now the dishes get done every day. Almost.
Posted by: Phoenyx June 20, 2006 at 09:40 AM

tired mommy

more pictures later

Time for presents

Leanna got a ballerina barbie! and the non-sluttiest clothes her aunt could find for it to wear! Justin took a nap, but it wasn't long enough. It took him a while to get into the party again. Maree painted Leanna's face with her new body & clothes paint. And Timothy is just cute.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

silly photos

How many five and two year olds can brag that they had free blood-pressure screenings at their birthday parties?? Well, maybe brag isn't the right word. Anyway..........Maree demonstrated how to make a knuckle sandwhich and Justin's new piggy showed that pigs aren't always opposed to eating a little sausage. Justin enjoyed being pushed in the swing and I think Pop-Pop J. was just wondering when he could go home and leave all the craziness.

birthday food

Here's me trying to fix the birthday cake. If I had time, I would have drawn little sea creatures around the edges. I had Nemo(the fish) looking cute but the baby was screaming as though his heart was breaking, Justin was smearing iceing all over his face, hands, and chest, and Leanna was lecturing me on how I wasn't letting her help get the party ready-I would only let her help clean!! So I wasn't exactly paying attention when I went to put the lid on the cake(to protect it, ha!) and the cake was too high and poor Nemo got squashed. He never really recovered, although Claire, the artist tried her best to fix him as well. See, she worked so hard she got ice-ing on her face. Claire also helped me by decorating the Father's Day/Tom' s birthday cake. That's a hammer on the bottom, if you can't tell. And the remaining picture is just burnt sausage. I thought everyone would like to see that.

Party getting started

Here's Leanna, getting her hair done.

And some of the kids, playing with balloons, blocks, and each other. It was nice for once not to have to worry about my kids breaking things cause the function was at my own house. (If they break something at someone else's house, that is a big deal! But here, it happens all the time, no big deal.)


Justin brought me his first dead animal today-a dead bee from the backyard. Gee, thanks. I kind of screamed and made him drop it.

party recovery

We're still recovering from all the excitement and preparation for the birthday party/graduation. It's nice to know that it's n0t such a big deal if I don't get the cleaning accomplished this week(cause no one has to see our house). That is actually a huge weight off my chest.
I don't want to return the loaner camera! I really do miss having one. We shall see how it goes when ours is returned. We may still trade it in for another model if we're not satisfied.
All the animals are gone here. The birds left a few days ago and all the frogs are dead. Justin still yells, "Hi bird!" at any random bird he sees flying around.
Thanks to everyone who came to the big birthday party, and especially to those who helped me to clean for it! Leanna especially had a really good time. Tom was surprised to receive birthhday gifts as well. I don't know why this still surprises him, it happens every year. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

wierd songs

Tonight we were singing songs trying to get everyone sleepy. Leanna suggested we sing the Turkey Chicken song. What?? "The turkey chicken who played and never worked!"
LOL! She means Ashton! (The tutin' Turk) I love it-I guess the Turk is turkey in her mind which she associates with chicken. It's this really wierd song my Mom used to sing to us. Well, actually she never stopped because now she sings it to her grandchildren. My Mom knows some of the wierdest songs ever! I think it really used to drive my Dad crazy. : )

The fighting, oh the fighting!

The fighting seems to be at an all time high lately. I am not enjoying this. I need a vacation all by myself!! I bet the neighbors think I'm abusing the kids. They scream and yell all day which causes me to lose my cool frequently. I used to be such a calm patient person. Tom's barely home, even when he's home. It's looking like school may be a bit of relief. Unless of course by that time Timothy is causing trouble as well. And I'm afraid to say it looks likely. Right now he likes to grab out at stuff, every chance he gets. This makes messes. Not too big yet, but the time is coming. I've been telling my sister for a long time now that I just don't think a mild child is in the cards for us. She was sure Justin would be calm compared to Leanna! Wouldn't that have been nice? I know, there are many good qualities in the child I did get, but weeks like this one I like to fantasize about raising quiet polite children. Well, Justin actually is very polite right now, but Leanna was at his age too.......and somehow it dissapeared. She used to say please and thank you and then she just stopped. I have to remind her all the time. So much for the idea that if you use nice words your children will also(And I do, I say please even when asking them to do something and thank you when it's called for.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ways for parents to use their imaginations

I liked this idea. It's a blog post on curing children's irrational fears (
Dealing with irrational fears
The addition of a new baby to the family has proven interesting. For the first two weeks, while Mom was in bed recovering with the tiny one, everything went smoothly. The last week, however, Linda has been up and about, much more involved in the day-to-day of our family life. And our daughter A- has had a really hard time with it.
Not directly, however. She's thrilled with the baby, eager for maximal Mom time, but her fears, never completely gone, came back stronger than we've ever seen. Fears about things like how pollution in the air might have gotten in her mouth and how she might die. About eating an egg and being afraid that a tiny bit of shell could kill her. About black widow spiders hiding out in her pajamas, waiting for her to go to bed.
We weren't sure how to deal with the problem because, at heart, we're like most adults and we rationalize, we talk about things and address them on a level that isn't in sync with the development of a child. So after some thought I realized that personification could be a possible avenue of solution and had A- create a "spider guest book", a page with a drawing of a spider and two columns of information, one headed "name" and the other headed "date". Just like a real guestbook.
When she did that, G- promptly made a guestbook for wolves and dinosaurs, more in the 'monkey see, monkey do' vein than because he has huge fears about either creature.
Then we had the children leave their guestbooks where they thought the scary creatures were most likely to appear, with a pen or crayon aside it. During the next 24 hour period, I would say that they checked their guestbooks at least every 2-3 hours (when they weren't at school). 24 hours later no spiders, wolves, or dinosaurs had signed their guestbooks and the fears vanished.
The fear of germs and microbes was a bit tricker, and for that we've been talking a lot about the "warriors in your body that beat up the germs" and how they're actually glad for some work because otherwise they're just bored. That's really helped too. Remarkably, actually.
My conclusion after this week of creating fanciful but tangible ways to help them address their fears is that sometimes children need something to imagine much more than they need knowledge. And, given that we're fully committed to a Waldorf education for our children, is that any surprise?

Scary Stuff

Report: ER care in U.S. at 'breaking point'
Investigation finds emergency rooms unready to handle mass casualties


This is a story from that Dilbert post, just touches me(having gone through three pregnancies and births in the recent past).

Well my story is a bit long and melodramatic, but here goes. There are some fairly intense medical situations involved, so please do not read if you are squeamish.
Thus far the defining moments of my life have been the first eight weeks of my daughter's life. My wife and I have been married ten years, and have a son who is now three.
When my son was born, my wife suffered through 26 hours of labor before they literally forced a C-section on us. Due to the long labor, my son's head was stuck in my wife's pelvis. A 20-minute operation became two and a half hours of four doctors trying to un-wedge my son and bring him out into the world. After a second, vertical incision, and a bunch of pushing, my first child was born- a healthy baby boy. We were the "one horror story from every class" the childbirth instructor warned about.
Fast forward two years. The wife and I decide to have a second (and final) child. Because of the serious C-section complications with my son, my wife will need a planned C-section. All pre-natal checkups went well, including four ultrasounds. My daughter, to be named Bridget Kathleen, was due in late April, my wife's C-section was scheduled for early Arpil.
On March 28th, I got a call at work from my wife, who was mostly incoherent. I got enough information to understand she was in serious pain and had called her friend to drive her to the emergency room. I asked if she needed to call 911 and she said she had to call her OB, and asked me what her OB's number was. That was a warning sign to me, but I called back three minutes later and her OB was going to meet her at the hospital. Having taken the bus to work, I called someone to drive me to the hospital ASAP to meet my wife. When I got there, the maternity ward resident on duty was ghost-white yelling at the staff to prep surgery stat and the baby was in crisis, and I needed to stay back and wait for information.
While I waited, I learned from my wife's friend that she had been yelling at my wife the whole way to the hospital to stay awake, and they had to nearly attack the ER check-in staff to get a wheelchair and take my wife to maternity. It seems the ER check-in staff wanted her to fill out some paperwork first... (I had been there the previous week with her with some false labor, and found that they had not processed the paperwork I had given them the previous month as requested. Fortunately I had kept a copy, and gave it to them, watching them fill everything out myself this time, just to be sure.)
So my wife's friend is freaking out and decides to go out and start smoking again after a few years of being a non-smoker, and I am left in a waiting area with nothing but my own thoughts and fears. I resolved that whatever happened, I had to deal with it, as this is how life goes. I text-paged a couple of my friends with an update and waited for the doctors.
The resident came out after about 20 minutes to let me know that my wife's uterus has ruptured. As in, split open and she had massive internal bleeding. As in, my daughter had let go of the womb and was floating around, without oxygen, inside my wife's abdomen, for an unknown period of time. They were trying to patch up my wife's uterus and get her stabilized, but she had lost a lot of blood. We were very lucky because another five minutes would have certainly meant death by bleeding out. My daughter was not breathing and was being resuscitated. Very deep crap.
About five minutes later, my wife's OB comes through and said, "I know your wife wanted me to perform a tubal ligation (tubes tied), but given the circumstances, I thought it best to hold off to find out how this is going to turn out. We were able to patch her up and she'll be able to have another child if she has time to heal." The OB tells me whatever happens, to be thankful my wife is OK, but... hesitation... "Your daughter's condition is very serious. We don't know how long she was without oxygen, how serious the injury is from lack of oxygen, or how she might recover from such an injury." This man does this for a living and sees a lot of crap. I'm taking it completely at face value but trying to be optimistic. Subtext of these messages is: Your wife is OK (phew!), but you daughter is probably not going to make it.
About ten minutes after that, the neonatal emergency staff are bringing my daughter through in an incubator, pumping her with air on the way to the ICU. It was the most stark-terror inducing, gut-wrenching scene I have ever witnessed; a six pound-ten ounce, jaundiced baby girl, gasping for air and trying to breath. MY baby girl. Barely alive and with unknown prospects. The nurse turns to me and says what I still consider about the worst thing I could have heard:"Now, that gasping she's doing, it may just be a reflexive motion. I want you to realize there's a good chance she's complete brain dead." Mountain of scary crap!
At this point, my wife is still in post-surgery, under anesthetic. I go out to make the hardest call of my life: explaining this to her mother. (It is important to note that my Mother-in-law is the sweetest, most supportive person I have ever met in my entire life. I do not fear telling her that her daughter is in trouble and her highly anticipated granddaughter is likely not going to make it, except for the immense emotional strain it is going to put on her... from five states away.) I tell her the situation to the best of my ability, in as calm a voice as I have ever spoken in my life. She goes, "Oh, my God." Repeats it several times, and starts to cry. My father-in-law agrees to rush her to the airport to fly in. I update my mom and my wife's friend as to the situation. My mom is keeping herself ignorant of reality with what's going on by taking good care of my son. Thank God for active denial. :)
I go to see my wife in recovery, and pester the nurses probably about 30 seconds for updates on my daughter. I hold my wife's hand as she slowly starts waking from the freakish cloud of anesthesia... she's been through this before with other surgeries, and doesn't react well. She asks where Bridget is. She starts crying and asking why she can't see her baby. All I can do is tell her, with the slightest crack of uncertainty in my voice, that "they are taking care of her, we'll see her soon." My wife breaks down and I try to comfort her, but how do you tell a mother the baby girl she's been carrying is seriously injured, and may not survive?
We are finally briefed by the neonatal specialists. Bridget has been stabilized but is still in critical condition. She has had several episodes of what appear to be "posturing," or seizure-like behavior. She is on a ventilator. Her nervous system is being deliberately impaired by drugs to better asses her condition and treat her. We wheel my wife in to see my daughter, who is under lights to reduce jaundice, connected to about eight different IV drips, and has her tiny wrists and ankles strapped to a backboard. A ventilator pumps air in and out of her lungs. They tell us she needs to be life-flighted (helicopter ride, whee) to the local Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Fortunately, that is only about half an hour away.
They strap my daughter into a special incubator and load her onto a helicopter, leaving my wife and I with a plush LifeFlight helicopter. My wife's friend writes on it, "They took my baby and all I got was this stupid stuffed helicopter." We sort of laugh to keep from crying. My wife talks with her friend for a while, as my mother goes to pick up my mother-in-law from the airport. My mother-in-law and I spend a sleepless night in the hospital around my wife, calling the other hospital to check in on my daughter. My wife keeps reliving the harrowing drive to the hospital where she "feels herself slipping away, thinking she is going to die." It's hard to be positive, but we're happy to have each other.
In the morning, I drive down to the other hospital's NICU to check on Bridget. Her condition was mixed. Her brain activity was "abnormal." They wanted to do more testing. The NICU doctor is a very compassionate, very young, and clearly very intelligent man who is explaining an anoxic brain injury. The loss of oxygen to my daughter's brain has caused a serious injury. The severity of which, recovery prognosis for, and long-term effect of, were unknown. I check on my wife, and find out that she and my MiL are being loaded up onto an ambulance to be moved to maternity of the hospital that I'm at.
Several sleepless days follow, where approximately 80 different doctors talk to us... "case workers" from the hospital to provide emotional and practical support, neurologists, neonatal specialists, interns, residents, cardiology specialists... wait what? Why cardiology specialists?
Well as my daughter is slowly being weaned off the ventilator, they are finding her breathing is much too fast for a normal baby. Could this be caused by the brain injury? (I already knew the answer, I kind of understand the basics of human biology.) No, even if she were mostly brain dead, her body would still know how to breath right. They start putting her heart and lungs under the scope. Nothing conclusive, check again later.
At day three, they do a much more elaborate neurological evaluation, a 24-hour monitoring of her brain activity, using electrodes all over and a camera to watch her behavior. No seizures, very good. More stable brain activity, a few anomalies, but the results are encouraging. They order an MRI. They show me an MRI. I see the surface of Bridget's tiny brain is covered with burst blood vessels (simply dark spots on the MRI). The neurologist says gravely, "normally when we see this sort of injury, the baby appears limp, unresponsive, or comatose... 99 percent of those babies are in vegetative states." His tone changes. "But in your daughter's case, amazingly, he muscle tone and reaction to stimulus appear to be almost completely normal. That's very encouraging. MRIs are not absolute, they are only indicators. Coupled with the EEG results, and her starting to breath on her own a little bit, her chances are pretty good." Yes! Score one for the home team! "But... she's still in very serious condition."
Day four. The heart tests (aka Echocardiogram, or Echo) are sowing some unusual things. First there's an abnormal formation in a bend in the aorta-- a coarctation, or coarct. This is causing some slow flow, but there's a 50-50 chance it will resolve itself within the first year. Then, the big one... a large hole between the chambers of the lower heart- a VSD, or ventricular septal defect. This is the most common type of defect, usually one this big shows up on prenatal ultrasounds. Dangit. "When they're this big, they don't resolve themselves. The reason she's breathing so quickly is that the blood flow through her heart is improper, it's circulating twice through the lungs for every trip through the body. Without open-heart surgery, she'll probably not survive six months." One step forward, two steps back.
Bridget is in the hospital for five weeks. They wean her off the ventilator at seven days. She starts to show signs of alertness, but because of the brain injury, is remaining on phenobarbitol to suppress brain activity and muscle spasms. She mostly sleeps. They have four IV needles in her, and a tube up her nose and down her throat to pump food into her stomach. At five weeks, we are finally able to take her home, though we have to feed her through the tube (which she is, amazingly, groping at with wild arm movements and managing to pull out, requiring us to reinsert it) and using a special pump and formula. She's on several drugs for her heart condition.
About three weeks after we took her home, we notice Bridget's starting to labor while breathing, and it sounds wet and raspy. We take her into the ER, and they keep her for a week before scheduling the open heart surgery. Bridget weighs six pounds, eight ounces-- less than when she was born eight weeks earlier.
The day of the surgery, my wife and I get up at 5:30 to help the surgical team prepare her. We kiss her and tell her we love her. She has surgery to patch the VSD with Dacron, and there is a small ASD (hole between the upper chambers of the heart) that is stitched shut as well. At around three in the afternoon, we hear that she is out of surgery and in recovery. We spend a few hours with her and decide to take a break. We leave the hospital at ten to meet our friends, who have tickets to the midnight premiere of Star Wars, Episode III. We're exhausted, we're emotionally spent, and we've been up 20 hours... but we have a great time with our friends, who are nothing but supportive. We go back and sleep in the chairs at the hospital beside our daughter. They tell us the average stay after this surgery for a baby is 10-14 days, Bridget is discharged after five.
Today, Bridget is fifteen months old. Her cognitive development-- speech and learning, etc-- are very close to normal for her age. She has no severe metal disabilities that anyone can detect. She has neuro-muscular deficiencies... she has just learned to awkwardly sit herself up, she can't stand or walk, and she has a difficult time with fine motor control... but she can feed herself well and gives us so much joy in our life. Bridget continues going to regular physical therapy to help her build strength and dexterity. She will probably be able to lead a semi-normal life. Her cardiologists are a bit concerned over some enlargement in the right side of her heart... she might have a bad valve. They'll try to figure that out for certain at her eighteen-month checkup. It doesn't matter what happens, though; we love her, we love her spirit, we love her strength, we love her. There's nothing else to say.
*Big sigh.* As a follow-up to the more practical aspects of the situation: Looking back I have no idea whatsoever how I kept it all together emotionally... but let me just say that certainly we couldn't have managed all the logistics of transportation and care for my son without the tremendous help and support of our families and friends. The OB told us that carrying another child had a good chance of killing my wife through another rupture, so I took one for the team and got a vesectomy shortly after Bridget's heart surgery.
Financially... well, it continues to be difficult. I almost lost the house once while trying to balance everything, but I took a loan out again my retirement plan to pay off outstanding debts and catch up.
My health care plan is good, but we are still trying to identify what our responsibility is and our payment options are for the remaining eighteen to twenty thousand dollars that the hospitals, doctors, and other billing companies believe we owe. Long-term, this is going to hurt us; the pre-insurance bills totalled nearly half a million dollars- it's 13,800 dollars for one night in the NICU, just for a bed and nursing care, drugs and equipment are extra. In the end, I don't stress over it. Bridget is worth every penny.
From a religious standpoint, many who hear our story proclaim that Bridget is a Miracle Baby, that this was divine intervention. I can certainly consider that possibility, but a guilt accompanies that thought: How was it that The Creator gave us this wonderful child, and took away so many others who were in the same situation? How did we deserve it? Maybe people who believe in a Divine Plan can accept this, but it is hard for me to understand. I'm happier thinking that, thanks to some lead-footed driving by my wife's friend, a spirit of determination to stay alert by my wife, raw will of life of our tiny fighter Bridget, advanced medical technology, and a whole lot of luck got us through. We are so thankful for what we have, I don't think it's as important to think about the why, as much as it is important to take the opportunity that we've been given to enjoy our lives and give our daughter the happy, healthy life full of opportunities that she deserves.
Posted by: RogerX June 13, 2006 at 07:57 PM

Teeth again

Timothy's got the two upper front teeth pushing through now too. It's just unbelievable how fast he's changing.

Back rubs

Both Leanna and Justin were just fighting over who gets to rub my back-how bizzare is that? I wish I could get Tom to do it. But that stopped early in my pregnancy(with Leanna). As Jerry pointed out, "Well how do you think he got you pregnant?" (Not physically. Meaning all guys are extra nice in the beginning. Sigh.)


We have two baby birds in the nest now. I noticed them two days ago. I really really wish I had my camera.

We're down to only one tadpole/frog. Two that had made the transition to frog died. We're not sure why.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Really Interesting

From the Dilbert blog, he asks readers to comment with their most amazing personal stories. (supposedly, at least) true stories. (Witnessing historical events, solving crimes, freaky coincidences, celebrity encounters, etc.) Do any of you have an amazing personal story? Heck, I'll even settle for where I was on the day of........stories. (such as where you were on the day JFK was shot, when the challenger exploded, stuff like that)

Lil Miss Bossy

Leanna wants to be a grown up already. Can you guess why? Well, you won't, so I'll tell you. She wants to grow up so that she can tell Justin what to do the way Mommy, Daddy, Grammy, and Aunt Laura do. That is so very Leanna.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Disney's Jo-Jo's Circus

I'm guessing this is where the clowns in Leanna's recent dream came from:

You can pay me in books!

I stayed up to clean, but I don't really feel like it. I'm mainly enjoying the silence.

Sometime in July I should be getting a free book in the mail. An author was offering a free copy of her book to the first 30 people to offer to read the book and blog about it. So expect a book review sometime in July. See, blogging pays off in so many ways! I get to vent! I get to talk about my little einsteins! I get to record stuff I'd otherwise forget! I get to keep grandparents current with the children's lives! I get to force myself to word thoughts on parenting I might not have completely thought out otherwise! And occasionally I get free stuff! As my Dad says, it's for free, it's for me!

Bruises and cuts and scrapes! Oh my!

Both Leanna and Justin are covered from head to toe with bruises. They've inherrited my skin which is so easily marked-I frequenly have large bruises with no idea where they've come from. When I was pregnant with Justin I remember the midwife telling Leanna that she liked little girls with boo boos, it showed they know how to live! That's a nice way to look at it.
Justin especially inherrited not only the bruise gene but also the clutz gene. It's probably not necesary, but I can tell you that that gene comes from me too. Poor kid, it's a good thing he's got charm to spare.

The bruised monkey

Justin was jumping on the bed. He's been told over and over not to do that, and so has Leanna. Both continue to risk it every chance they get. It finally caught up to Justin. I didn't actually see it but he smacked his head on either the wall or the headboard part of the bed frame. Instant goose egg. From his eyebrow three quarters of the way(at least)up his forehead. With a nasty long purple middle section. I calmed him down and then called the doctors office just to check. Being a mother I remember the 13 year old girl who got hit with a hockey puck while watching a game and died of a blood clot the next day. Better safe than sorry, right? They said he's probably fine but you should bring him to the emergency room for an X-ray just to make sure there's no fracture behind the eye or anything. She said we didn't have to though if we didn't want to. Tom didn't want to, and by the time he got home the swelling had gone down to almost nothing so it didn't look as bad. Then a few hours later he-Justin- goes and touches a light bulb(while it was on) and went for Daddy to kiss it("Burn! Burn!"). It just never stops here. I wonder what I am in store for with Timothy.

By the way both Leanna and Justin know the lovely song/rhyme No More Monkeys Jumping On The Bed. It makes absolutely no impression on them. But it's really fun to say! (Justin's also a big fan of ".......and they all rolled over and the little one says, roll over, roll over! So they all rolled over and the little one says........")


I need a magic wand. Or a fairy godmother. Preferably both.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Beyond Bugs Bunny

Slate article on a dad's search for a decent cartoon for his daughter to watch.

Birthday card

Birthdays and gifts
Leanna and Justin both received their birthday cards in the mail today. The health insurance sends them a birthday card which is really just a reminder to make appointments and give the parents a few safety tips. She was so thrilled to get a card in the mail! I mean unbelievably excited. At having it handed to her, at opening it, and at looking at it. It's neat that small unexpected stuff like can give her such pleasure. (another lesson for me)

Birthdays and gifts

Speaking of birthdays, I've been asked about presents. So here are a few suggestions. Justin can use T-shirts. Preferably not light colors because chocolate milk is my laundry nemesis. I just can't always get to the laundry in a timely manner so sometimes it sits there. And sometimes even when I wash right away, it stubornly remains on the clothes! Taunting me! It does, I swear! But anyway.......Leanna does not actually need clothes. If anyone feels so inclined, school is coming up soon and a few cute things to wear to school would be nice though. Arts and crafts stuff are always great, we go through crayons like crazy here. Leanna's big on stickers(and they're cheap). She's in a princess phase, kind of, music is good too. Books are always good. Justin's not as big on them though, he doesn't have the patience to sit and listen. He is fascinated by animals(doggies especially) and likes trucks, trains, and airplanes. Leanna's big on trains too. So any book with lots of big pictures of those things works. Maybe even a book on bugs or frogs(tadpoles). Justin's still too little for hotwheel type cars, but bigger ones that don't have parts that come off. Especially with Timothy able to crawl now I can't have tiny peices lying around. Silly little stuff like Sunglasses are good because they're forever getting lost or broken.

****People have been very generous to our kids. Thank you thank you thank you. That said, THEY DO NOT NEED ANYTHING ELSE THAT IS BIG. At this point in time we have a barbie jeep, 5 small bikes, at least 2 regular bikes, 2 small rocking horse type things, a wagon, any many other large toys(including but not limited to a toy kitchen, a toy vanity, and a toy washing machine,). We are grateful for all the toy donations, hand-me-down or otherwise! But if the big gifts keep coming in we will soon have to rent a garage just for their stuff!

They are too smart for my own good!

Justin approached me, cup in hand, and told me, "I poured it, accident! I sorry!" Now I ask you, how do you pour it on accident? Spilling it, I understand. But he knows the word spill, and instead used the word pour. And he is all too familiar with the word pour! This is the kid who will take your drink and just dump it on the floor to watch the water flow. This is the kid who grabs my water bottle, runs into the bathroom, and dumps it into the toilet. What fun! This was not a case of mixing up the words, I'm his mother, I can tell. The little stinker knows that if he says accident it's not as bad.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hi Claire

Cover your navel — God’s already checked it out
Priest invokes novel theology to keep belly buttons covered in his church
ROME - An Italian priest is resorting to some innovative theology to rid his church of young women's bare midriffs.
"God knew what your navel looked like even before you were born, so there is no need to expose it in church," commands a sign at the entrance to the church in Cinisello Balsamo.
Guards at major churches in Italy routinely keep out people wearing skimpy attire. But Father Felice says he resorted to the signs because his parish cannot afford guards to keep out the low-cut jeans and high-cut tops, newspapers reported Monday.

Moms and blogging

From a speach given by the woman who wrote It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons and the newly published It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters(Note, I can't wait to read that one!!)

The actual title is "The Secret Life of Mothers: Maternal Narrative, Momoirs, and the Rise of the Blog"

How could someone seriously say that mothers don't read??

Tadpole update

Right now we have two tadpoles that made the transition to frog! They are the tiniest things ever! They're about the size of my fingernail. One actual tadpole left (alive) (so far). If I can keep Justin away from him, he just might make it!

Monday, June 05, 2006

were they tired, oh no!

We visited West Park today in our new (for us) double stroller. A nice man in a wheelchair gave the kids a few peanuts to feed to the squirrels. Leanna especially loved that. Justin just kept yelling, HI! loudly at all the squirrels and birds(ensuring they wouldn't come near us!) I let the kids run around the band shell. They jumped up and down and ran all over it. A little girl with a cute dress and a too small slip on top of the dress came over to play too. Leanna loves to dress like that too! Justin kept trying to play with her but she just wanted to play alongside them. The little girl is running all over the stage doing these little mini leaps. I think she was being a ballerina. It was adorable. Then all the sudden she starts doing these moves that I recognize as yoga. I ask her Dad and sure enough, that's what it is! So then she and Leanna are practicing yoga onstage, and Justin's trying to immitate them. He's reached this stage where he has to do everything Leanna does. It was quite a show they put on!

Busy month

This is such a busy month. Some of the major stuff we have to do: Leanna's 5 year old checkup, finishing the school registration process, my grandmother's birthday, the kid's & Tom's birthday party, Father's Day, Tom has two definite jobs of his own to do, possibly more, plus several side jobs for relatives, my baby sister graduates from high school, whatever family vacation we have will be this month (and all the extra stuff that that entails!) Then we have the home projects going on as well. Tom painted the basement walls but has yet to mop the floor to get rid of the overspray. After that's done then we can move all the furniture and stuff back in place down there. We have the toy kitchen and washing machine that will be set up down there once everything is moved back in place. He started taking the paint off the vestibule door but it's still sitting outside waiting for him to finish. The downstairs bathroom still needs a final coat of paint-I've been asking Tom to show me how to do it. He won't just let me do it on my own because he has high standards for how things are done so he insists on showing me how. Then I might be allowed to finish it. Once it's painted I have stenciling I want to do on the walls to finish it. I'm deciding whether or not I think I could become a tupperware rep. I have to reorganize the kitchen stuff to put away my new tupperware sets(I had to do that anyway, even without the tupperware, I've just been putting it off cause it's a pain). I have to schedule Timothy and Justin's 9 month and 2 year old check ups. I have to schedule dental checkups. I've been trying to get more of our family photos framed and hung, I have to get that finished and put away before the kids break any more frames! I still have one more set of curtains to finish for that back porch(for the back door), and I have to go through all Justin's summer stuff to see what still fits, what will fit, and if he needs anything. I have the whole house to clean because I try to get it clean for the big party. Our house is very much a work in progress, and quite a bit has changed since last June. So I try to have it ready for people to walk through when they're here. Although it's looking like it will likely be a small party this year. But still-Leanna's room is a huge mess, so is the boy room. The third floor is also kind of trashed right now. I still need to buy and wrap presents. It's summer so there are plenty of walks to go on, parks to inspect, and flowers to water! And this is in addition to all the usual stuff. There's probably more that I can't think of now. And I really miss scrapbooking!!
You know, it amazes me how much hate and intolerance people have for other people's choices. I have posted a few times lately on the one blog I go to and I just can't believe the degree of anger and rudeness that people use responding to both the blog owner's posts and the people who comment's posts as well. I don't know how the blogger herself deals with all the negative stuff that is said about her and her family. I have trouble when people say things about my comments, and I'm not even identified like the blogger is! For example, on a recent post about a nasty article someone wrote about natural births being on the decline(no medication), I added this comment:

I've had three babies, the first with epidural, the last two natural. I don't think there is anything wrong with being proud of what your body can do. I don't think it makes you any more of a woman or better, it's a very personal thing. With my first, the pushing stage took so much longer than it needed to because I couldn't feel to push. I was so groggy and out of it and so was the baby. I realize that doesn't happen in most epidurals, but even without that,in my particular case, I much preferred the natural births. But every situation is different. Natural birth was both harder and easier than I expected. One thing that made it easier to do natural was that I didn't go to the hospital until last minute-I was more comfortable free in my own home.

I thought that made it pretty clear that I was in no way suggesting that I thought everyone should birth natural just because I did. I said, "in my particular case...." I don't think it means you are less of a woman if you don't. I commented to add a positive comment because mainly negative things were being said on the topic. Two people commented after me saying I was being smug and one said" I guess these people have very little else to be proud of in their lives." Geez. I didn't think I sounded smug. I certainly don't feel that way. I can be proud of my own accomplishments without feeling that others who don't do the same should be ashamed! And frankly, it isn't an issue that really comes up often. I don't proudly congradulate myself every day. In fact, unless I'm relating a birth story, the only time it's come up is when I was laughing at myself because I can go through natural childbirth twice(and the first one was no picnic either!) but I can't take a splinter out of my own foot!
I don't know, did anyone think my comment sounded smug? I'd appreciate the feedback because I think I often come across differently than I intend.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

for my Mom

Since hotmail isn't working(server must be down) I'll post this link here. This is the link about bacteria, breastfeeding, and c-sections:

Saturday, June 03, 2006

kissing bandit, the next generation

A couple days ago Justin was playing with the top to a sqirt bottle(it's never been used and isn't attached to anything). I don't know if he's just seen too much law and order or if he just pointed what he was holding, but he pointed it at me, like a gun, and said, "I gonna kiss you!" And he did, with much tickling.


Having a 2-year-old is like having a blender that you don't have the top for.
Jerry Seinfeld

Until you become a parent, you can't begin to discover your capacity for strength, love and fatigue.
Peter Gallagher

Friday, June 02, 2006


Last night on the way home from delivering tupperware, my right ankle just twisted and I fell. The ground was sloped, but I have no idea why my ankle twisted. I landed on my hands and left leg. It's not pretty. (If I had my camera I would post a picture and gross everybody out) Luckily my hands are fine, but my ankle is sore and a tiny bit swollen. And my left leg still hurts and is all scraped up and bloody.
Leanna was really sweet and wanted me to sit down and put a pillow behind my back. She even tried to help me walk! She was just a little nurse! Justin's fascinated with it and keeps wanting to touch my leg. After I explained to him what an ankle was(since he kept trying to crawl over it, hurting me) he walked around for a while, saying, "My ankle! My ankle!" Timothy(obviously) didn't notice, and Tom gave a perfunctory "Are you ok?" and went back to watching tv. Typical responses from everyone.
I miss my palmers cocoa butter, I'll have to get some again. On the bright side, I won't have to shave my left leg for a while!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Would $36,000 convince you to have another kid?

Maybe we picked the wrong country to live in. Here's the short version of the article:

Communism is officially dead in the Soviet Union, but the Marxist belief that men and women are essentially economic creatures is alive and well at the Kremlin. In May, Vladimir Putin, alarmed at Russia's declining population, which is falling thanks to short life expectancy and a plummeting birthrate (1.17 children per woman, down from about 2 in 1990), offered a bonus of 250,000 rubles (about $9,200) to women who would have a second child..........But for developed nations, the birthrates may have dropped too far. Europe and Japan face a shortage of children that endangers pensioners and undermines economic dynamism. Even China is facing a labor shortage, thanks to its one-child policy.........According to the latest estimates, depending on your income, it costs anywhere from $139,110 to $279,450 to raise a child to age 17. And that doesn't include college, or graduate school, or help with the down payment for a starter home. Phillip Longman argues that these are lowball estimates, because they don't account for the forgone wages of a mother. "For a middle-class couple in which the wife works, but takes some time off, I came up with a total per-child cost of $1 million in direct and indirect costs.......For many, of course, having children has nothing to do with financial calculations. Having children fulfills powerful psychological, human, and religious needs. There are some people whom you wouldn't have to pay anything to have another child. And there are some people who are so entirely satisfied with the two wonderful children they already have—and who, given their age, energy level, and real-estate prices in the Northeast—would require a Trump-sized incentive to embark on the adventure of parenthood again."