Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ending with a Bang

I should be asleep. But instead I thought I would share a little piece of the Alley pie with you. It's been a rough couple of weeks. Charlotte has been sick for about two weeks now, and I was on the verge of losing my mind today. But the second half of the day was fabulous. Something about the trip to the grocery store must have awakened Charlotte's desire to be chipper, because I don't think she did the "I'm going to cry and force you to hold me even though I'm not tired, hungry, dirty, or in desire of companionship" thing after 12:30 pm. Yay!!! Or maybe it was the desperate prayer that I sent to the Lord this morning. Probably that.

We also have an extra companion in our home to add to our excitement. A rat. Yep. Gotta love it. Actually, he hasn't presented himself since we got back home from visiting family, so maybe he decided six is a crowd. But he certainly had a great time while we were gone. Pooped all over our bedroom. Ate a hole in my sheets. Peed on my kitchen counter. You know that last post where I said I hate cleaning? Nothing like a little rat urine to bring out a girl's desire to scrub the crap out of her kitchen (pun intended). I knew that our area has had some trouble with roof rats, but this is the first time one of them has found a way in. I have two very sticky professional traps in my bedroom that dare one of them to do some more exploring. Is it wrong to wish death upon them? I think not. I'm tired of sleeping on the pull-out in the living room.

On a happier note, Charlotte clapped today. And Owen showed off his skipping skills at the library. Fun times.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Complaints and Confessions

Will was talking to a friend the other day and told him that I only tell the happy stories on the blog. So I'm proving him wrong, today I'm going to share my messier side.

It irritates me when people ask questions of my ten month old instead of directing them to me..."How old are you?" "What's your name?" I'm very tempted to reply with, "I'm sorry, she hasn't learned to talk yet." This also applies to people who criticize my parenting choices through statements to my child. If you're a mom, you know what I'm talking about. "I bet your little feet are cold aren't they sweetie, too bad you don't have any shoes on." "I'd give you some ice cream, but you're mommy won't let me."

I detest cleaning. My family has clean clothes to wear. I make sure they have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But my floors haven't been mopped in 10 months. I dust the furniture on a biannual schedule. And the bathroom toilet MIGHT get cleaned once a month. I keep pretending that this is going to change about me. That I'm going to come across some fantastic plan that will work for me. But I'm thinking about accepting myself just as I am. Of the four people in my house, I'm the only one who judges myself for this. I'm sure there are those who have been to my house and passed their own judgment, but really, who cares. If they love me, they will get over it. I'm tired of being disappointed in myself.

I am a hypocrite. I can present a fantastic argument for why we should all be doing more to care for the poor, then go out and eat lunch at Qdoba that I could have foregone for a sandwich at home. I can rail on about the latent racism and classism in the church today, while busy judging the crap out of the people who are commiting said sins.

If you invite me to a shower, don't ask me to bring food as well as a gift. If you don't have the money or time or space to throw a shower by yourself, ask a person or two to help you. But please, don't ask fifteen different women to give of their time, food, and gift budget.

And if I leave you a message on your phone...call me back. I'm becoming a fan of texting (I know, hard to believe since I just got a cell phone a year ago), but I should not have to text you to get you to communicate with me. Speaking of which, it is rude to text someone in the middle of a conversation. It is rude to make other people wait while you finish your conversation in the grocery check-out line. It is rude to cut me off on Granby Street because you are talking on your cell phone! Stop being rude.

I think I'm done now. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Heart is Full




Someone asked me how I was doing today. And I am great. I think joyful might be a better word. Fantastic and superb sound too melodramatic. Wonderful sounds too cheesy. The reason...everything I suppose. I love Christmas. Will has a decent schedule right now. We know where we're going to be moving in seven months. We get to visit our families soon. My friends are amazing. Owen warms my heart and makes me laugh. Yesterday contained the perfect example of both:

I made Owen pancakes for breakfast. Usually I just throw frozen ones into the microwave, but we were out, so I actually MADE pancakes. About ten minutes or so after he finished eating, Owen stopped playing and said in the most heartfelt manner, "Mom, thanks for making me pancakes." If people would only understand how effective I sincere "thank you" is, they might find themselves inundated with pancakes. Later in the morning I was pulling out of our driveway and headed slowly down our street. About ten houses away, a van was also pulling into the road. With great feeling, Owen declared from the back seat, "Mom, there's a van in the road, supply the brakes!"

Charlotte is learning something new every day it seems. She learned how to wave yesterday. She had been throwing out the random wave, but yesterday she really figured it out. I think she discovered the Christmas tree this afternoon. It's been up for two weeks, but today she finally decided to scoot over and touch it. I put her in my lap so she could reach the branches, lights and ornaments. She tentatively touched everything, awed by the prickliness, the brightness, the dangling egg ornament. With a huge smile on her face, she waved at the Christmas tree. Too bad it couldn't wave back.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Voices

When I was a teenager I dreamed of becoming an actress. Playing the role of the murderer in our high school Moustrap production lit a spark in me that I never had the resources or drive to fan into flame. But part of that aspiration still lingers and shows itself when I'm alone in the house, reading to my children. Tonight it was The Princess and the Pea. For those of you who don't know (because you have a had a traumatic brain injury which left you without memories from your own childhood), the story revolves around a queen in search of a "real princess" for her son. In my mind, this queen is British and haughty, so that's the way her words come out of my mouth. This evening Charlotte, Owen and I were all in the floor of his room. She was preoccupied with a toy while Owen was listening to the story. Every single time I spoke in the voice of the queen, Charlotte would stop chewing on the toy and laugh. Not just giggle, but truly and deeply laugh. This would make me laugh, which would make Owen laugh, and before long I didn't know if I was going to be able to make it through the book. These are the moments that overwhelm me and fill me with joy. I'll take mom over actress most any day, but particularly today.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pea pods

Today is Will's birthday. In light of that fact, I would like to get some memories down on paper, so to speak, that I don't want to forget.

During the spring of my freshman year I had a crush on a guy named Robbie. He signed up to take Shakespeare in the fall, which I needed for my major, so I decided that would be a perfect time for me to take it as well. This was a bit short-sited of me, seeing as how my crush had dissipated by the time fall semester rolled around, and I was left watching him gush his ooey-gooeyness all over his new girlfriend every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Thankfully, Will (who I met my freshman year but did not know very well) was also signed up for Shakespeare, and on the first day of glass I gratefully took the seat in front of him.

I'm sure there was some flirtatious chatter going on during Shakespeare, but I can't remember any specifics. I do recall the tentative twirls of my long hair from the seat behind me. And the time he rode with me to The Sign of the Fish (a Christian book store in the next town over). During a pause in conversation on the ride home I made a request that I had tried on another guy (who failed miserably), "Tell me something." Will immediately launched into a description of his love for Stewart's Cream Soda, which he overindulged earlier in college, so he was now drinking Orange 'n Cream Soda instead. My heart fluttered. You see, the failure of the other dude was his response of, "What do you mean??"

Another moment which makes me smile occurred during our first date. We had eaten at Ham's and were heading back to the car. Will walked to my side and opened my door. I was beaming inside. However, somewhere along the way, my friends and I had joked about dating etiquette, and one thing mentioned was that a guy should always walk around the front of the car. Will did not do this (I'm pretty sure we were parked too close to the wall or car in front of us for him to go that way). So when he got in I dryly joked, "They say you shouldn't trust a guy who walks around the back of the car." He immediately replied, "They say a girl doesn't like you if she doesn't unlock your door from the inside." We are two peas in a pod. And I suppose we have been from the beginning.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Argh

I just uploaded a ton of birthday and Halloween pictures, and most of them need some work--red eyes, bad lighting. However, I knew if I waited until editing was complete before posting anything, it might be a month from now, and I'd just feel too lame to post my old pictures. So here you go.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Seaweed

Thursday was beautiful. Low 70s, sunny, nice breeze. I had a meal planned for dinner, but a picnic on the beach just sounded so much better. By "picnic" I mean we picked up something at Arby's and took a blanket to sit on. We had such a great time. But I believe Owen had the most fun. He stayed busy building shelters for the seaweed. By "shelters" I mean holes that he could throw seaweed into and then cover them up with more sand. My first inclination was to tell him to put down the gross slimy seaweed, but then I stopped myself. Even though I wouldn't want to touch it, why should I prevent him from enjoying it? Sometimes I feel like I'm programmed to say "no," without even really thinking about why I am saying it. Who cares if he gets seaweed slime on his shirt...that's what a washing machine is for. And after seeing his smiling face, how could I suggest otherwise?




Neglect

My camera was poorly abused last month. It sat forlornly in its bag during a wonderful outdoor dinner with friends. I took it on a weekend trip to see some of my favorite ladies, and then left it in my suitcase the entire time. I'm trying to make up for it. I've used it three times during the past seven days.

This picture is actually from the month of camera neglect. I just couldn't go without getting a picture of me covered in watered-down chocolate pudding. No this is not a scandalous moment, just a night in the life of a high school youth group volunteer. Have you ever done a chocolate slip-n-slide? You should try it. Maybe you won't do a painful belly-flop in front of forty high schoolers. That's right. I'm so cool.

Yay for the State Fair! It's exhausting, smelly, and oh so fun.

Just a fun moment. I came home from the grocery store and found my three favorite people, chilling on the couch (though I only photographed two of them, I'll let you guess who the third was).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm Still Here

It's way too late. I really meant to go to bed an hour ago. But I had to check my email. And Facebook. And check up on some blogs (sorry I missed the giveaway Christianne). And then I realized what a crazy blog-slacker I've been lately. Just life. School started. Bible study. Youth group. Two crazy kids. Life just starts to run away with you, you know? But I'm still here. Though I must admit that yesterday almost did me in. Owen was in rare form. Everything was a struggle. Not to mention the lunchtime art project...

I had to breastfeed Charlotte. Best done in her room where her hyper brother won't distract her. So I left Owen in the dining room with two small bowls of food and a cup of orange juice. At some point he decided that he needed more juice. Instead of asking or waiting, he decided that a stool and an adventurous spirit would get the job done. He poured himself another glass, and two bowl fulls, and enough to cover half of the table, the front of his shirt, the seat of his chair, and part of the floor. He also thought it was a good idea to go ahead and ruin the orange juice lingering behind in the carton by shoving in some peas and black beans.

Yay.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Moving Target

Feeding Charlotte solid food makes me want to run screaming from the house. When Owen was six months old, sitting in his high chair, he looked like a starving baby bird. Every time you got near him with food his mouth would pop open, he would greedily devour whatever you stuck in it, and immediately open his mouth again, ready for the next bite. Charlotte, on the other hand, never opens her mouth at all. I wait, spoon poised in mid-air, praying that she will ever so slightly part her lips so that I can shove baby food in at lightening speed. She is not defenseless. She has mastered the "spray the baby food back at mom" technique and the "stick out my tongue, close my lips, and let all the food dribble down my chin" method. The latter is very well executed because Charlotte has the craziest tongue ever. She can lick her bib. Not that she's trying to get any food off of it. Oh no. Just trying to mock me. I've tried singing little songs, eating the food myself to show her how easy and tasty it is, and trying to distract her with cool toys. I would just say, "Forget it, I'll try again later," but when you have a smallish little girl, the doctor isn't so cool with mom giving up on solids. So if you have any awesome secrets that will make feeding time more pleasant, please share.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Being Friendly

During eighth grade "Shannon" moved to town. It was clear from the beginning that Shannon would be part of the popular crowd. It was also fairly clear that Shannon was not a fan of mine, as evidenced by her declaration, "I don't like that girl." I pretended that this did not bother me in the least, but deep down, I was wounded. Not only because this girl that I did not know had hurt my self-esteem, but because I knew that this was the nail in my popularity coffin. I'm not sure what the popular equation involved, but I'm fairly certain that your neighborhood, attractiveness, and involvement in certain activites played key roles. I had a few strikes against me already, and now I had been black-balled by one of the queen bees. Our dislike for one another culminated in an unseemly exchange during ninth grade (which I am not proud of). She made a snide remark, I flipped her off, and three of her worker bees called me aside in an attempt to intimidate me into submission. I'm fairly certain that was our only interaction until some minor conversation occurred during our senior year. At yet, as an adult, I still recall that interaction with clarity. Mostly, I think, because I deeply yearned acceptance. I wanted all the girls to like me and every boy to have a crush on me. As an adult, I realize the foolishness of this desire. But somehow I still feel a residual sting from the whole high school experience.

These memories are floating at the surface of my mind because I have recently joined the world of Facebook. It has been great to reconnect with friends from the past and keep abreast of the goings-on of my local friends. However, I never considered who would ask to be my "friend." Some of the girls from high school, girls who I perceived to be in a crowd that I didn't feel welcome to join, have sent me "friend requests." And quite honestly, my gut reaction is to ignore them. I tell myself that they are probably just friend-hoarders and this is not a genuine effort at being my friend. Or that this is not real human interaction anyways, it's just computer networking after all. But truly, I'm ignoring them because I want to return the favor. I'm keeping record of their wrongs. And I thought I was more grown up than that.

In actuality, fourteen-year-olds are not the only ones who yearn for acceptance. My mind knows that I should not strive for the approval of man, that God is the only one I should seek to please, but it's a struggle to put that into action. For now, I suppose my next step will be to quite clicking the "ignore" button.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

You Like'a the Juice?

I'm now relearning all of the baby-feeding facts I learned four years ago. We have tried rice cereal, oatmeal, carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, and bananas (surprisingly, peas have been the big winner so far). In my efforts to reeducate myself, I've done a little reading, and not just for Charlotte. Years ago I learned that toddlers should have no more than four ounces of juice a day. But Owen is almost four, so I thought I should probably check to see if there are new guidelines. In fact, there are not. From 6 months to 6 years, they should not exceed four ounces of juice a day! What was even more interesting was to learn that many toddlers/preschoolers consume their entire day's worth of calories in liquids. The pediatrician writing the article said that parents were showing up, concerned about their child not eating, not realizing that two sippy cups of juice and four or more of milk contained more than the recommended 1200 calories their child needed for the day. It's hard to think of liquids as having quite so many calories. Since I've been breastfeeding, I've been drinking lots of caloric beverages, without much consequence. But it's going to be tough to break the habit once I have to go back to feeding just myself. So if you see me six months from now, staring lustily at a Dr. Pepper, please hide it from me.

Fecal Matters

There were so many comments about toilet usage on the last post that I just can't resist. Are all of you aware of toilet spray? Years ago a friend shared this with me, but I looked it up for myself the other day. I found a summary of a scientific study about what happens after you flush your toilet. Spray from inside the toilet is expelled six to eight feet in all directions. That means that poo is on your ceiling, in your sink, on your toothbrush, and hanging out in your fuzzy little bathmat. The article stated that your toilet seat is infinitely cleaner than your sink because of the lack of moisture on the seat. Have you touched your sink lately? Maybe you should stop. Maybe you should get a pair of gloves to wear whenever you come near it. Maybe you should start peeing in your sink and brushing your teeth over your toilet. Poo is everywhere, people. Embrace it (not literally, that would be gross). Stop hovering. Give yourself a minute to relax.

On a related note, we were in Bethesda for a research study the last several days. Part of the study involved a blood draw. They had poked our little girl twice, gotten no blood, and left us all a little traumatized. While I'm holding, bouncing, and soothing, one of the technicians hands me a urine cup. He declares that they also need a urine sample from Charlotte. I stare at him in bewilderment. How the heck am I supposed to get a six month old to put urine in a tiny little cup? I suddenly have visions of me trying to wring pee out of a cloth diaper or holding her over a cup for hours, hoping to catch the pee as it comes spouting out. I laugh at him and ask, "How?" He vaguely says something about a diaper. We go to the peds clinic, and I get a VERY detailed explanation of urine bags from one of the nurses. These are plastic bags that get taped to babies in the hopes that the urine will collect inside. The best part was that every time she should have used an anatomical name she instead whispered, "girl parts." Needless to say, these bags are NOT foolproof. Catching urine is quite the tricky business. Thankfully, the little teaspoon that didn't dribble out into her diaper was sufficient. At least I didn't have to wring out anything.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Summer Hiatus


So I've noticed that many of my friends and acquaintances are on a bit of a summer hiatus from their blogs, so I thought I would post something, just to give you regular blog-checkers-with-nothing-to-read something to do. I was thinking in the car today about little bits of info that I have acquired that others might find useful:
1. Dawn dishwashing detergent is fabulous for removing grease stains on clothes (I never wear an apron and therefore am constantly splattering my clothes with oil in the kitchen).
2. You do NOT need to get your oil changed every 3000 miles. Read your manual. Most car manufacturers recommend either 5000 or 7500 miles.
3. Your local library probably has most of the movies that you spend money to rent. You might have to wait an extra month to see it, but it will be free. Just put it on reserve and you get an email when it comes in.
4. Consignment and thrift stores are a gift from God. I buy all of my clothes there. I purchased a Guess skirt (that's still in style) for $3. Get over the whole, "eww, someone else wore this," problem and realize that you park your bare butt on a toilet seat that MANY others have used every single day.

If you have any bits of wisdom, please share.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Familiar Waiting Room

I feel like a regular here. I know the location of the bathroom. I'm aware of the weird hours of the caf. I know that you don't sit near the desk, because once the volunteer receptionist leaves, someone has to answer the patient update phone. And I'm used to the obnoxious sounds of The Suite Life in the background. But anyways, thought some of you out there might want to know that Charlotte's cath has gone well. We haven't been able to see her yet, but the procedure went as planned. Her aorta is looking good, and her clot in her femoral artery has dissipated. We'll be back here in two months to keep an eye on her aorta, but for now, we're awaiting our release.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Red Menu

Tonight we went to our favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner. Every time we go I am amazed at how wonderful the food is and feel really dumb for every time I have eaten at any other Chinese restaurant in Hampton Roads. Seriously, if you live around here, you need to drop everything and drive straight to Jade Villa in Virginia Beach. Don't worry, they're open until 1:30am. You should know, this is not your average American-Chinese place. They have two menus--one white menu and one red menu. The white one (how appropriate) is for the faint of heart, the weenies, the Americans. The red one is for the actual Chinese people who eat there. No joke. And every time we go, I scour the red menu. You see, I really want to be one of those people--the adventurous, well-traveled, not-scared-of-your-crazy-jellyfish-appetizer types. But I'm not. I cannot find a darn thing on that red menu that sounds better than Mongolian Beef, egg rolls, wonton soup, and General Tso's. I am not enticed by tripe or duck tongue or boneless pig's feet. So I suppose I will continue to order from the white menu, happily gorging myself on the best Mu Shu Pork I have ever eaten.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

God Made the Fish

We had salmon for dinner last night. We're a seafood loving family, so Owen is no stranger to fish. But last night he was apparently thinking about the food on his plate. He held up a piece of salmon on his fork and declared, "God changed this from a swimming fish to a fish that you can eat." Hmmm. I don't know what you would have done, but I'm not quite ready to tell him that someone kills the fish, so I just kept right on eating.

On a different note, I finally put together the "Who Loves Baby?" book we were given when Owen was a newborn. It is squishy and slobber-proof and has slots for pictures of all the people (or however many will fit in 6 photos) who love your baby. So I filled it up today and let Charlotte look at it. Every time she gets to the page with Owen's picture on it, she smiles.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tidbits



I don't have much to share today. Just some random little bits.

-Charlotte has two teeth now, and loves to chew on my finger with them.
-She is also quite the roller, but she still forgets that she knows how to roll back after she lands on her tummy, resulting in angry cries for deliverance.
-Owen filled up his Potty Sticker Chart and took his earned quarters to the store to buy a prize. We even counted out the money together. He proudly told the cashier that he "pooped in the potty."
-He's a big fan of the phrase "chill out," though he doesn't know how to use it contextually and often says instead, "Chill up, Mom."
-We watched Ice Age together a few weeks ago. He cried at the end when they gave the baby back to its dad. So did I.

My kids make me smile.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Freud

We have a slight problem. Owen is going through the Oedipal stage. "I want Mommy to make my breakfast. I want Mommy to read my books. I want Mommy, not Daddy!!!" Please make it go away. I tried to look up advice online, but searching for "parenting" and "Oedipal" produces mostly psychoanalysis websites that have absolutely no practical advice. I don't need to know in-depth analysis of Freudian behaviors. I just want to help Owen get through this phase as quickly as possible. Anybody out there have any advice?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Deceptive Recipes

I've been on an on-again/off-again cooking hiatus for around five months. I'm sure you understand. Sometimes life just forces you into "Let's look into the fridge and eat whatever we find" mode, but I've been in the kitchen a bit lately and couldn't resist complaining about a few things. Namely, recipe writers. Who are these people? Which evil genius wrote the "Low Fat Brownie" recipe I made earlier this week? Because I must say, I didn't see it coming. It had a beautiful name. It had beautiful ingredients. I was excited. And then I poured the batter into my 8 x 8 pan and discovered why it was "Low Fat"...I could barely convince the batter to slide into all four corners. When they came out of the oven they were a centimeter tall. And they suggested you cut them into TWELVE portions. If I had mashed the brownie into a measuring device, I think it would have been about a tablespoon. Who the heck eats a tablespoon sized brownie?? Ridiculous.

My second complaint is in regards to the kitchen ninja who wrote my recipe tonight. I suspect he has also participated in writing MANY other recipes. At the top my recipe declares that I only need 20 minutes to prep and 31 to cook. In 20 minutes I'm supposed to shred an entire chicken, finely dice an onion, and measure out 10 other ingredients. My 31 minute time-frame is fine as long as my stove will heat oil to a shimmer and bring cold liquids to a boil instantly. No problem. I believe that they search out the world's fastest prep cooks and ask them to compete in chicken shredding and vegetable chopping. Whoever has the fastest time gets to write that at the top of the recipe.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Be Still

I got a call yesterday from the Cardiologist office. They wanted me to bring Charlotte in for an echo. They had been discussing her case at their weekly conference and thought it best to make sure that her aorta looked okay. When it was ballooned, there was a spot in her aorta that pooched out a little bit. We had been warned that this might happen, and that it could be insignificant. But it's still something they like to keep a close eye on. So we went in today for the echo. Charlotte was NOT excited about the ultrasound. I ended up breastfeeding her WHILE they scanned her, because that was the only way to keep her calm enough. After they spent lots of time looking at the images, they came in to tell me this...we want a CT. Apparently the echo was making it appear that her little "pooch" was much worse, and the only way to tell for sure would be a cath or a CT with contrast. They explained that normally CTs for infants are done under sedation, but that we would give it a try right now. If she would be still enough, they would be able to get the pictures they needed, otherwise we would have to be admitted so they could do it first thing in the morning under sedation. I had just breastfed my baby so that she would be calm for an ultrasound, and now they think this same five month old is going to "be still" in a giant CT machine? I mentally prepared myself for spending another night in the hospital. She got an i.v. We took her to Radiology. A tech, two doctors and a PA all hovered over her, attempting to keep her calm and still. Owen and I went to a waiting room where I continued my repeated prayer, "Please keep her still, God." And He did. They got the images and realized that the echo was distorting the look of her aorta. Praise God.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Colorado

Now that life is back to normal, I feel like I can post trivial things again...like vacation pictures. We spent a week in Breckenridge with my family. This was the view from our front door. If only all front door views were this breathtaking.

With eight people in one house, we cooked and cleaned a lot. Amanda has the clean-the-kitchen-right-after-dinner gene. I certainly do not.
Charlotte spent a LOT of time in her carrier. She loved it. Thankfully, the straps are adjustable, so we all took turns hauling her around Colorado.
This was taken in Vail. Incredibly adorable little town. There are fountains everywhere for kids to splash in. We naively thought rolling up Owen's pants would suffice. Ha ha. He was soaked by the time we were ready to leave.
Group shot. Right after we paid to go kayaking in Lake Dillon. Right before Will went back in to get a refund due to big black clouds sneaking closer across the sky.
Nearly every night we got in the hottub on our deck. Owen loved it. He renamed it "the warm tub." He also liked to provide nightly entertainment in there. Our favorite was "Shamwow."
On our last day we finally worked up the energy for a big hike. If you are ever near Breckenridge, you have to do the McCullough Gulge trail. Amazing. For much of the trail, you hike near a waterfall.
Then you cross a snow field.

And end up at a glacial lake on top of the mountain. Worth every painstaking step.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Home Again

We're home. Charlotte is napping in her room, and I'm reclining on the couch. So nice. She still has the clot in her left femoral artery, but she is doing well--happy to no longer be attached to beeping computers and subjected to rectal temperature checks and ultrasound goo. She has plenty of blood flow to her leg. Her diagnostic cath is scheduled for next month and if the clot has not dissolved on its own, they will possibly balloon it then. So we're cool with that. It's just good to be home.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Optimism

I've been contemplating my optimism today. I tend to look at the bright side of things. When my husband pointed out to the midwife that our daughter didn't have any thumbs, and she looked at me with shock and apologized, my response was, "That's okay. God must have a plan for our daughter that doesn't include thumbs." And that's just how I see things. When the cardiologist told us eight months ago that the ultrasound may show an A/P window, but probably not...I focused on the "probably not." When they saw some scar tissue at her follow-up cardiology appointment four months ago and said that it would probably go away on its own...I focused on the "would probably go away."

Today has shaken me a little. We're still in the hospital. Charlotte has a clot in her femoral artery that is requiring some attention. It's not causing her any problems. However, they need both of her femoral arteries in good condition because "she's going to be a frequent flier." I hadn't expected that phrase. I understood that they were going to need to take a look at her aorta soon to make sure all is well, but I had no idea that she would require lots of repeat caths. I found myself holding her, unable to stop myself from crying.

When she was in the NICU a few days after her birth, I asked one of her cardiologists if the A/P surgery would take care of everything. He gave me a slightly condescending look and told me that this would be "like catching a tiger by the tail." He went on to explain that you might think you've got the tiger by the tail, but then it jerks away from you. I developed an immediate dislike for him due to that analogy. But he was right. I've never tried to catch a tiger, but I imagine that this is what it feels like.

But I still hold to my optimism. Not because I believe that the outcome of every situation will be what I want. But because it's what God calls me to be. He wants me to know true joy. He wants me to trust Him. He wants me to live in today, in the now, not worrying about tomorrow. You can't do any of those things if you're busy measuring the emptiness of the cup.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Good Report

I'm sitting in the PICU now. Charlotte is beside me, sleeping peacefully. The cath went really well. She had a significant narrowing in her aorta, so they used the balloon. It isn't 100% open, but it's much, much better, and the cardiologist was very pleased. We will be staying overnight for monitoring, and then we'll have to come back in a month to take another look at the site of repair, making sure that the aorta is holding up well. But I'm feeling incredibly blessed. So many answered prayers today.

The Waiting Room

I'm sitting in the surgery waiting room. Charlotte went back about 45 minutes ago for her cardiac cath. She hadn't eaten since 2 a.m. but was happy, so that was a huge answer to prayer. They will keep us updated, but I can't imagine they've even started the cath yet, considering all of the pre-op work they have to do. Her doctor said they will only balloon open her aorta if she has a 50% blockage, otherwise they will just leave it alone. So I have no idea what to hope for...bigger blockage, get this thing taken care of, but more risk in the procedure? or less blockage and more watch and wait? So I'm just praying for God to take care of it. He's knows way better than I do.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rock Band




Charlotte is working on her emo image.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Walk this Way

I can't say that I've always been a consciencious walker. Before I met Will, I was one of those free-minded walk any ole' way kind of girls. Then I met Will and learned that there are rules to walking.

1. ALWAYS walk on the right side of the sidewalk
2. Be aware of the path of the person beside you and do NOT cut them off by taking a crazy sharp turn or edging them off the sidewalk
3. Do not walk so quickly that you leave your loved one behind, feeling lonely and unimportant

After ten years together, these have now become second nature to me. So you can imagine my consternation when I crossed paths with a non-rule-followerer the other day. Last Wednesday morning we took Owen to the free kids' movie and then headed to the Fun Forest for some playtime afterwards. We're on the sidewalk at the park, me in the lead, and there are two ladies approaching from the other direction. They are walking side-by-side, taking up the whole sidewalk. I assume that one of them will drop back so that my family can pass. Neither is moving. They get closer. Still nothing. I'm starting to wonder if I am playing chicken with this lady. I will not jump into the pine needles so that she can continue hogging the sidewalk. So I stop. For a second, I think she contemplates just bowling me over and stepping on my face so that she doesn't have to swerve, but finally, she caves. Am I crazy? I know she doesn't know The Walking Rules, but doesn't this particular behavior fall in the common sense category? So I'm taking a poll...are you a sidewalk hog?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ocracoke

Last week we spent a glorious week in Ocracoke. Will's parents rented a house in the village, and we spent 7 wonderful days being lazy. However, when we weren't lounging around the house, we did have quite a lot of fun...

Our neighbors let us borrow their kayak for the week. All week long Owen talked about putting the kayak in the water. The sight of it strapped to the roof of our car was about to send him over the edge. So on Thursday, Will heaved and hoed, dragged the thing to the sound, threw Owen in the back and headed out into the wild, blue yonder. Yonder being about 40 yards from the sand, because that was when Owen declared, "I want to go back now."
Since Owen was not a fan, Will and I decided to try to go out together. This was not a good idea. This kayak was not made for two adults...hence the dumping that occured when Will tried to get us started. Eventually we did each take our turn kayaking out into the sound. The water was perfect. I could have stayed out for hours, but leaving two babies on the shore while I enjoyed myself seemed a bit selfish. It was fun while it lasted. Oh, and my favorite Owen quote from the week occured on the shore while Will was loading the kayak on the car. We were playing in the water, and I told him that we were going to have to go in a few minutes. He quietly picked up a piece of grass that was floating nearby, cocked his head to the side and declared, "You know, old seaweed is something to think about." That it is.We were blessed to be able to spend an hour on a real boat, one in which Owen was more secure, a large sailboat. Even Will said it was fun (he's not a fan of boats).

Another thing Will is not a fan of, this kite. Notice the face he is making at it. A few things we learned...do not let your three year old pick any ole kite he wants. Also, do not buy a kite that looks like a boat. A kite should not have an identity crisis. It should know what type of vessel it is. Because if it gets confused and thinks that it is indeed a boat, well, then it won't fly. And finally, if the package calls it an "Easy Flier," but it has more parts than your average vehicle, the package is lying.
Just had to show off my husband's culinary skills, not to mention the quality grill he was using (note the cinderblocks holding up the rusted-out back legs). The cornish game hens were so, so yummy. And I didn't have to lift a finger. I love vacation.

And of course you have to see my favorite angelic photo of Charlotte. There was another one with her tongue sticking out, but I just can't resist the sweet little smile in this one.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Learning

She lies on her back, chubby arms and legs wiggling wildly. Without warning, she slams her legs down, heels thumping the floor. She likes the sound. Again and again she pounds on the floor, satisfied with her newfound power to make noise. Suddenly, she discovers that she can make her playmat sing if she kicks the music box. She stares wonderously at the bright lights dancing in time to Mozart. She is thinking, experimenting; she sticks out her tongue in concentration. Then she notices that I am watching her and warms my heart with an exuberant smile.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

BBQ and other items of importance

In relation to my post yesterday...

Christy: Why do you ask a question when you already know the answer?
Owen: Because I like to talk.

Also, I made Charlotte laugh a few minutes ago. Almost made me cry.

And now to the reason I wanted to blog...BBQ. Will and I were watching a show on Food Network last night and the subject was barbeque. I watched in horror as they slathered beautifully smoked pork in red, goopy sauces. But then they commited a true offense. They showed someone pouring a dark red sauce on a plate of pulled pork and labeled it as "North Carolina style." Is this some North Carolina in Asia that I don't know about? You know, like Georgia. I have eaten barbeque all over the fine state of North Carolina, and at no point have I ever poured a dark red sauce on that yummy meat. Sure, some of the OPTIONAL vinegary sauces might have a dark hue, but they aren't thick and masking of the barbeque's exquisite smoky goodness. So of course I had to go online and see if there is some new variety of BBQ that I don't know about, which is how I happened upon this. You see, the state of North Carolina takes barbeque so seriously that they are busy discussing it in the House.

Can you tell that I miss my favorite NC food here in Norfolk? And on a related note, here's the song that Will is trying to get Owen to learn next.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Growing

They grow too fast. Tomorrow they'll be going to college. May God grant me the ability to appreciate each day, not wishing for next week (so I can go on vacation) or next month (so Charlotte will be doing new and more exciting things) or September (so Owen can go back to school and stop asking me every single morning, "Where are we going today?!").

For those who want to know, we've had a lot going on with Charlotte and doctor visits. The visit to the orthopedist was very encouraging. She should be a great candidate for pollicization when she is about a year old. We also had a visit with the geneticist. They have connected us with a physician at the NIH who is doing a study on VACTERL. Charlotte only has three of the seven birth defects, but they are still interested in having us participate. This means more doctors, possibly more advanced tests, and hopefully more answers. As for her heart, she will have to have a repeat cardiac cath in July. The scar tissue in her aorta is not stretching as they would like, so the plan is to balloon it open during the cath. Please pray for her. We have so appreciated your prayers up to this point and truly need you to continue to lift us up.

On the non-medical front, Charlotte is doing really well. She has found her hands, so she spends lots of time holding them or sticking them in her mouth or reaching for her giraffe and spider (on her play mat). She loves looking at funny faces, rewarding us with huge smiles, or watching us make noises. What do you call those anyways? Seems sort of crass to call them fart sounds, but that's the best descriptive I've got. She's even pretty good at replying with her own.

As for Owen, he's always very busy. And his mouth seems to be lacking a mute button. I got so tired of the non-stop soundtrack one day that I asked him to tell Charlie, our dog, about it instead. So he did. He's really interested in letters right now. He wants to know every word I can think of that starts with P or B or whatever letter he is currently interested in. Also, we're learning to tell time. Mostly so I can get him to stay in bed until 7:00 am. He's really sweet with Charlotte. He wants to hug and kiss her all the time. Whenever I put her in a dress he declares, "She's a princess!" Such an amazing little boy.

Well, I have a squirming little girl in my lap, so we're off for nap time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

George Clooney

Our nine year anniversary was a few weeks ago. We got all dressed up because we were going out to a nice restaurant and to a Broadway show. I had no idea that a suit without a tie would be much to notice, but as soon as Will walked downstairs with his open-necked button-down and beard, I thought, "Hmm, that's very George Clooneyesque." By the way, the Broadway show was Wicked, which you should consider selling one of your vestigial organs in order to get tickets.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

ShamWow

No, we did not buy a ShamWow. However, we know all of the words to the commercial. The story goes like this...one day we had the t.v. on and the SlapChop commercial came on. I stared at the screen, fascinated, waiting for the spoof to end. But it wasn't a spoof. This was a real-deal commercial. I expressed my shock to Will, who said, "Of course not, that's the ShamWow guy." The what?? He then pulled up this video for my viewing pleasure:

video

Owen happened to be in the room while we watched and immediately fell in love with this song. Nearly every time Will is on the laptop he asks to hear "The ShamWow Song." Thus, we all know the words. Charlotte's going to join in soon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Cold Side

Owen has a bedtime routine. Put on pajamas, brush teeth, read two books, pray, go to sleep. My favorite part, of course, is curling up in his bed with him and reading together. Tonight, I had just finished the books and was about to pray when Owen said, "Wait! I have to turn my pillow." He flipped his pillow over and lay down with a smile. This aroused my curiosity, so I asked why he had to do that. His reply was, "Because I like it cold." I just had to laugh. I never would have thought that a three year old could appreciate the difference between a warm and cold pillow. I smiled and told him that I like my pillow cold too.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Blessed

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by God's blessings.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Like Corndogs

If you haven't been living in your bomb shelter during the past few weeks, you may have heard of the swine flu. Due to my husband's profession, I've actually had several people ask me about said "pandemic" over the past few days. Here's what I have to say, and I feel as if I'm channeling my husband as best I can here, so go ahead and picture a subtly incredulous stare...it's the flu.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.
Every year in the United States, on average:
5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications; and
about 36000 people die from flu-related causes.


This was written on the CDC's website before the "outbreak," regarding the regular ole' flu. 36000 people a year die from the run-of-the-mill flu, and we're up in arms over this one because it has the word "swine" in it? On a swine flu website there was even a list of possible questions the public may have and their corresponding answers including "Can I still eat pork?" Are you kidding me? Please go out and buy yourself a corndog. So listen carefully, unless people start dropping like flies around you, please do not commandeer your neighbor's motorcycle and head to Nebraska to prepare for battle against Satan's minions in Las Vegas. It's not time.

M-O-O-N, that spells flu.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Chocolate Yoohoo

In the ongoing battle with poop, we have a temporary solution. Owen will go in the potty if he is not clothed. This means that if you drop by my house any given afternoon (he can wear clothes in the morning because he's not a morning pooper), you will find Owen minus pants. This has gone very smoothly as long as you don't count the following situations:
-Ninth grade girl drops by my house to pick up something. I hurry to meet her in the yard so as to avoid awkwardness. I turn around to go inside and find Owen on the front porch, waving, exposed. Ninth grade girl's mom stares incredulously.
-Lunch time today. Chocolate cake for dessert. Owen is not a pro at eating anything with icing. Icing all over his face, hands, arms, and.... Oh well. That's what washcloths are for.

On an entirely different note, I have a question. Will and I were at Baxter's (a sports bar) last night. We ate dinner and then asked our waitress about renting a pool table for an hour. She said she would transfer our bill "over there" so that we could pay all at once. When we got to the table a different waitress approached who asked if we needed anything, to which we replied "no." When we were ready to leave I asked Waitress #1 if our tip would go to her, and she said "no, it will go to [Waitress #2]." In my opinion (as a former waitress), this is total crap, but Will assured me that all is fair in tips and the sports bar. I thought we should have left our tip off of the credit card and given Waitress #1 a cash tip. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Open Wide

I'm not a fan of going to the dentist. And yet the Responsible Gene in me forces me to go every six months (or so) and get my teeth cleaned. In my opinion, the most unpleasant part of the experience is when they are using the crazy spinning toothbrush, all the while sucking spit out of your open mouth. But I must say that you don't really notice the electrical instruments in your mouth when you are precariously dangling one leg off of the dental chair and using your toes to rock your fussing infant in her carseat. Ahh, motherhood.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Talking to Jesus

Owen (from his doorway): Mom! Mom!
Christy (appearing stage left): Yes, Owen?
Owen (staring around blankly): ummmm...Mom, my play-doh is missing
Christy (increasingly aggitated): Do you know what time it is?
Owen holds up some fingers
Christy: No, it's quiet time. What does that mean?
Owen: Mom, I'm telling you about my play-doh.
Christy: I don't want to talk about play-doh right now, it's quiet time.
Owen: I'm not talking to YOU about my play-doh...I'm talking to Geee-sus. I'm talking to Jesus about my play-doh, not you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Girlfriends

Couldn't resist posting a cute picture too. This is Charlotte with her sister from another mother (and father), Tessa.

Another Update

We got the results from the Holt-Oram test today...normal. This, however, does not mean that she does not have Holt-Oram. Apparently, they tested the more common gene that shows Holt-Oram. There are two others. We're not sure if the doctor is going to pursue that route or look in another direction or what. Our actual genetic appointment isn't for several more weeks. At this point, we're really just looking for an explanation, so I suppose there's no need to be in a hurry. All of her other tests have come back normal, and she's a healthy, thriving little girl. "Wait" is always a hard thing to hear though. On the fussy front, losing the dairy in my diet seems to be making a huge difference. I gave myself a dairy-day two weeks ago that resulted in lots of extra screaming and a vicious diaper rash. So here's saying goodbye to tall glasses of cold milk, Dairy Queen blizzards, grilled cheese sandwiches, and pretty much every darn cookie on the cookie aisle. If you have any great recipes that don't involve dairy, please send them my way.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pondering in the Shower

I was in the shower this morning, enjoying the hot water, not ready to get to the actual cleaning, so I decided to read the back of the shampoo bottle. It has "directions." Do you really need directions for your shampoo? Anyways, it says, "Rinse and repeat." What a thinly veiled ploy that is to get you to use more shampoo than you actually need. Which led me to think about something I read online the other day. I was on a forum for cloth diapering (granola mom alert), reading about the best washing methods, and one lady declared that, even on her regular clothes, she only uses half of the recommended amount of detergent. Her reasoning was, do you really think the detergent company would tell you the exact amount to use? Don't you think they're going to tell you to use a little more than necessary so you'll blow through their product faster and go buy more? This freaks me out a little. How many manufacturers could be lying to us?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Poop Smears

When your child poops in a little kid potty, and you've dumped it in the big potty, what do you do with the residuals? The best I can figure, you wipe it out with toilet paper. But that seems a little bit gross to me. Those little potties don't leave lots of hand-manuevering space, and I'm really not pumped about getting little poop smears on my hand. Any advice?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Scrub-a-dub-dub

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was all about getting the laundry done yesterday. I was transferring my final load to the dryer, and suddenly I thought I might be losing my mind. That's because I was staring down into the washer and, gosh darnit, that looked like my cell phone there in the bottom, hiding beneath my robe. And then it really hit me...oh my word, that's my cell phone in the washer!! Words do not adequately describe my frustration. I have now learned, however, that all hope is not lost. Many tech nerds online declare that if I let my phone sit in a warm place for three days with the battery removed, it may very well recover. So here's praying for phone healing. If you need to reach me, please send me an email or call Will.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

I'm folding laundry in the bedroom. Owen is playing in his "train room" (aka the oversized laundry room which is now serving double-duty). Owen walks into the bedroom and declares, "I didn't color on the floor." I ignore this statement because I am certain that this is a giant lie, and quite honestly I just don't feel like disciplining right now. Charlotte is asleep downstairs, Owen's usual time-out spot is dangerously close to her room, and dang it, I just want to finish folding the clothes. But he is persistent. "Mom, that room is a MESS." Resignation. "Why don't you show me." As we walk to the laundry room, Owen covers his ears with his hands. This is the second time he has done this. I suppose he thinks I'm going to explode, which is interesting because I'm not really the exploding type. But as we enter the room I realize that Owen was being honest, he really had not colored on the floor, the room was indeed a MESS, and his ear covering was once again done in vain. I suppose I would have known he was telling the truth if I had just looked at him during his coloring declaration. You see, Owen always looks up when he lies. Not just a slight, sneaky glance up. Oh no, his eyes are as far up as they can possibly go. I've heard that all people usually do something with their eyes when they lie, but who would have thought that it started at three?? Hopefully he will hold onto this handy tell for many years to come.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Beard



It just so happened that I was uploading pictures from the camera today and noticed that I had individual shots of all the Alleys (save myself). So I just couldn't resist posting one of each. The first two are, of course, me just reveling in my kids' cuteness. The last, however, leads one to wonder...why is Will taking a picture of himself? And why on earth does he have his head turned at an awkward angle? Well, dear readers, it's all about the beard. For weeks he had been growing this majestic red beard. And for weeks he had been debating with himself about shaving. It was the request from his wife to go to the beach mixed with the fear of having a strange beard-tan if he chose to shave afterwards that led to his spontaneous decision to do away with his whiskers. He was so hasty, in fact, that he had already shaved the right side of his face before he realized that he simply had to have a picture of his glorious red beard (thus the awkward head angle). And now I have to listen to him moan about the loss of said beard. The beard is always more glorious on the other side of the fence.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Changing Mat

The changing mat is nothing special--a run-of-the-mill, slope-sided, waterproof fabriced place to change a baby's diaper. It's not on a table because something in me balks at changing her in the same place all the time. Which is probably a good thing because that has resulted in the discovery that Charlotte adores being on her changing mat (without a diaper). She will happily lay there, airing-out, two or three times a day for around half an hour. We even had friends over for dinner and let her enjoy her changing mat on the living room floor after dinner. Is that weird? Granted, these were two of our best friends, so they already know we're a little bit weird. However, it does make things difficult when you're changing her somewhere like the church nursery or a restaurant bathroom. They really frown upon you leaving your baby there to hang out.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

An Apple a Day?

Picture this...you're three years old. You've been playing hard in the backyard, and now you're hungry. Your mom is preoccupied with changing your little sister's diaper, so you ask if you can get an apple. She's excited to not have to get up from the floor and says yes. As you open the refrigerator door and pull out the produce drawer, you take a good look at the apple bag. Usually, you would just grab an apple and close the refrigerator, but something occurs to you today...why not just take the whole bag? Sitting at your little table you stare at those five juicy apples and wonder, "Which apple is the best?" And then you realize, "Hey! I could just try them all." So you take a bite out of one, nope. Number two, nope. Number three, nope. Apple number four is promising, but after four or five bites, you think, "Maybe number five is better than this." And you were right. You're about halfway through number five when mom appears. Why on earth is she making that face? She seems upset. But this sure is a great apple.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Genetics

We all like answers. Sorry to say that I don't have any of those from the genetics physicians. Charlotte was scheduled for an appointment with them today, but it has been cancelled because there just isn't any point right now. They did a whole slew of tests while she was in the NICU, all of which have come back negative, save the one that we're really curious about...Holt-Oram Syndrome. It's going to be another month before the results are back. If it too is negative, well, I guess that means more tests. God is faithful though, and I can honestly say that He's giving me lots of peace about this whole situation. Thank you for your continued prayers through all of this.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Random Update


I really don't have anything too exciting to share. I know there are some grandparents just itching for picture posts, so here are a few to satiate your voracious appetites. As for the answer to, "How's life without milk?" It's not so bad. I'm substituting Sprite ;-) I'm not really sure if it's helping or not. The crying does seem more manageable, but I'm not sure if that's because I'm learning how she prefers to be soothed, or because she's getting older and becoming more capable of dealing with the crazy gassiness, or because of the new diet. I'm going to give it two full weeks and then possibly reintroduce the dairy and pay close attention. We'll see. I'm trying to remember all of the other interesting things going on lately, but my brain is fried. Hopefully I'll have something more lively to share soon.



Thursday, March 19, 2009

I love milk

God bless the person who invented the baby swing. It took about ten tries, but I finally got a shot of her with the swing in the center of the photo (maybe I should have just taken a picture before I turned it on...hmm...oh well). As I mentioned before, Charlotte is a good bit fussier than I'm used to, so I'm incredibly grateful for any apparatus that allows me to put her down and not hear screaming as a result. This Cadillac of baby swings goes either side-to-side OR front-to-back. Amazing. Thanks so much to the Alleys for blessing us with this glorious gift. This is related to the title of my post, I promise. Because of said fussy daughter, I'm going to give up dairy for a week. Total insanity. I adore all things dairy (except cottage cheese--anything that looks like it's already gone bad should not be put in your mouth). I can drink a gallon of milk by myself in four or five days. Yogurt is one of my favorite snacks. Cheese goes on everything. However, my daughter poots and poops like nothing I've ever seen. And she's not happy about it. So at her doctor's appointment today it was suggested that I stop consuming dairy for a week to see if it makes a difference. I don't know whether to hope that it will (so she won't be fussy) or hope that it won't (so I can resume drinking milk every morning). I suppose this is where I put her needs above my own and hope for a big change, but I'm not going to like it.
And on a totally different note, meet Frosty. Our whole inch of snow two weeks ago was just enough for Will and Owen to make a 12 inch snowman. Isn't he cute?