Thursday, December 6, 2007


So Olivia got her first "love" note. It is in the shape of a heart and reads:

To Olivia
From Andrew
Merry Christmas
I "heart" U

She was so excited to show it too me yesterday. The little boy is her friend at preschool. He is smart, cute and comes from a good family. I couldn't approve more.

They nap right next to each other, and apparently like to whisper and laugh until they both fall asleep. Oh the innocence of three-year-olds. Unfortunately, I am sure this means when he is 15 and she is 14 she will want nothing to do with him.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mike Mike He's Our Man

So this weekend we finally got the lead out and painted our bedroom. The paint was bought weeks ago. It took months, and many purchases of pint paint cans to find the right color of brown for our room. Yes, brown. And brown is tricky. You don't want it looking even remotely like poop, especially baby poop, and that is a lot easier said than done.

My mom offered to keep the kids overnight for us so we could get 'er done. Turned out the night we planned the sleepover was also the night the high school musical was performing Annie, in which two of the guys in Mike's small group were performing. It was a must see. So with free babysitting, we went Friday night. Arriving home at 10:30, we started painting.

Now when I say we painted the room, I use the term we very loosely. I finished the taping Mike had started while I drove the kids to my parents. I started the cutting in process while Mike put on the first coat, getting about half way around the room before we called it quits at 1 am.

The next morning was a women's event at church I had sort of forgotten about. Hey, it wasn't completely my fault. Planning a big event on the 1st of the month is risky, you don't see it on your calendar until you turn the page for the new month. Mike stayed home and finished the rest of the room. When I got home he was pulling off tape.

And boy does it look good.

And so you think after all that hard labor he would just take it easy for the rest of the weekend? Not my man. He decided to put up our Christmas lights on Sunday. I will say it is our best showing yet.

So needless to say, I have an amazing husband. Thanks Mike!

(A side note, for the first time I ran spellcheck on my post and there were NO MISSPELLINGS FOUND!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not the Only One in Need of Therapy

Today was Thomas' third visit to Baylor Our Children's House for Occupational Therapy. Overall, I have been very impressed. The session lasts thirty minutes and Katie, his therapist works him the entire time. Not toy is easily obtained. Fussing doesn't get him out of an uncomfortable position. This is serious stuff.

Today's visit went well. Thomas is adjusting to the routine and sweet Katie said she could already see progress. She is absolutely one of the nicest people I have ever met, so it is hard to know if she would ever say anything not positive after a session.

Thankfully the drive down went much better than last week.

It was our first trip to Baylor OCH from our house and our appointment time is 8:30 am. Thomas had not slept well the night before. I was tired and driving a new route in traffic, nervous about getting there on time. I turned on Abrams instead of Skillman, but the whole time thinking I was on Skillman until I had gone too far and had to backtrack. While trying to get myself back on the road I knew, I made a right on red. And there were the flashing lights and siren right behind me. The policeman wanted nothing to do with my sad story of being lost, trying to get to my son's therapy appointment, you know the adorable one the the back, and yes, that is a heart surgery scar you can see there by the neck of his shirt. It was just this past April, sir. Sob, Sob. A hard time for the family. No he didn't want to hear any of that. Didn't even give me a chance to start my pitiful speech, just wrote the ticket, jumped back on his motorcycle and in seconds was pulling over a Ford F150.

I don't know if you have had the joy of being pulled over with a three year old in the back seat. Let me tell you, it is a joy. "What's that policeman doing?" "Why are you turning on this road mommy?" "Why are you stopping the car?" "Why did he give you a ticket mommy?" "Why did you turn?" "Were you not supposed to turn mommy?" "Red light means stop, right, mommy?" "Where are we going now, mommy?" "Are we going to a police station?" "Are we going to the police station after Thomas' appointment?" "When are we going to the police station?"

Oh, good times. Let me tell you.

And then, when we got in the car to go to where else but Target later that afternoon, she says "Remember to stop at the red lights, mommy." Thanks Olivia.

So today's visit went much smoother, and was much less expensive. There truly is a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

This is my house from a different angle

So, since only my parents and sister will get the title of this post, I have to explain. I hate when I am left out of the inside jokes so I would never do that to you.

My sister set me up with a guy she worked with while I was in college. I will not name names in order to maintain his privacy, and because his name is a whole other inside joke story to share at another time.

He was a little different from the guys I had dated in the past. An example being that one of our dates was to a Monster Truck Show. Second row. So romantic. Also, he had a huge passion for hunting.
He came to dinner one night with my family and brought along a video of his hunting trip to show us all the dear he shot. When we turned it on it was a shot of Bambi's dad, dead, strapped to the back of a four wheeler. All was quiet as the camera gazed upon the animal, then the videographer walked to the other side of the four wheeler and you heard a voice say "And here's the deer from a diffrnt angle."

On Friday morning Olivia jumped in bed with Thomas, which she loves to do, and asked me to take their picture. After I did she asked to look at the pictures in the camera. Then she apparently walked around the house taking pictures while I finished getting dressed.

Our House: A Photo Essay by Olivia Fawkes.

Thomas' Room

Our Bathroom

(with the missing drawer knob)

Hallway Shelf

Coat Closet

(what made her open the door to take a picture I will never know.)

Olivia's Room

Table in Entry Way

Dining Room


Thomas, still waking up


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Tricky Tricky Tricky

We are officially in the post-Halloween candy craze. And it is not just me, but Olivia, too, however it seems I am much worse. I cannot stop myself from raiding her candy bag. Thankfully she is happy to share, so I am not like hiding in closets and popping mints to hide my addiction. Last night she didn't eat enough of her dinner to get a piece of candy for dessert, but she had just as much fun picking out candy for Mike and I to have for dessert. Sweet girl.

Halloween was a fun night. It started a little stressful as Mike had to work up until about the minute we had to meet friends to trick-or-treat, but once we got going door to door it was great.

Olivia chose to be Ariel, The Little Mermaid this year. Since Thomas is too little to argue, we ordered him a crab costume so he could be her sidekick, Sebastian. He really got into the character, as you can see in the pictures, and did his best to give his crabby face. He was not into the whole dressing up thing. Just wait kid, once you know the sweet addicting pleasure of Halloween candy, you will sing a different tune.

And sad to say, that is the best I got, because they were much cuter than the pictures show. Here are some pumpkin patch snaps, although our camera battery ran out about 10 seconds after we got there so not much better here.

Better go, it's nap time, a candy raiding free for all.

Friday, October 26, 2007


My friend Jennifer called after reading my last post to see how I was doing. My response was "whatever". She shared how she had taken a liking to that word as well as she had spent the last week going to doctor's appointments, juggling work and sick kids, and a lot more.

And really it is a perfect word to describe frustration over life's circumstances, at least for me right now.

I loved when Kelly on The Office freaked out on Darryl and ended the conversation by making a W on her forehead and then an L. Whatever Loser!

It means you're an idiot.

It means I don't want to talk about it.

It means I don't have an opinion.

It means sure.

It means I can go with the flow.

It means bring it on.

So after my online pity party on Wednesday I picked myself up, dusted myself off and got back to being a mom to the best kids in the world. Bring it on, I am ready. We can handle anything that comes our way.

I know this because I have an awesome God, one who uses my many friends and family members to gently remind me that life is hard and we are in this together. I know this because they call, offer support and to take me to coffee, they bring meals and pray for my family.

My devotional yesterday was perfect.

I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument Isaiah 41:15

A bar of steel is worth five dollars, but when made into horseshoes is worth ten. Into needles, $350. Into penknife blades $32,000. Into springs for watches $250,000. What drilling the bar must endure to be worth this.

It is painful to watch my son be "drilled". It is painful to watch my family. I know though it must be painful for God to watch us be drilled as well, for he calls me daughter, and I call Him Father.

In the end it will all be worth it, I believe that to be true. So whatever, bring it on.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Can you hear me now?

So today was our post tubes check up with the ENT. After our 15 month well-baby visit on Monday where Thomas failed the hearing screening, I knew it would be an interesting appointment. Definitely one where I was hoping to get some answers.

So the truth is I have had concerns about Thomas' hearing for quite some time. Almost since he was a baby. Friends and family convinced me, nicely, that I was being dramatic. He was fine. I was just looking for things to be wrong.
Hearing tests were scheduled, cancelled due to illness, scheduled again and cancelled again in quite a ridiculous and frustrating circle of repetition. Finally my pediatrician called enough and said we would just wait until he was old enough to sit still for a less invasive test. Fine. There were too many other health issues going on to argue.

Well, Monday he sat still for the test and his left ear especially did not have good results. Something where they put this probe in the ear, shoot sounds waves at the drum and measure the waves that are returned by the ear, or something like that. Today there was a similar test, but with a much more accurate, high tech machine performed by an audiologist. Neither ear passed.

So now we scheduled again the auditory brain stem response test where he will be put under anesthesia and they can measure how his brain responds to noise (I mean how smart are these people and machines!). The test will be on the 7th.

And truthfully I feel both scared and hopeful. Scared that my son will be going under anesthesia for the FIFTH time. Scared that there is nerve damage causing the hearing issues, which the doctor seems to think is probable. I am hopeful, too. Hopeful we will get answers. Why doesn't Thomas startle to loud noise? Why doesn't he seem to know very much vocabulary? Why doesn't he have any more sounds when he babbles than "ma"? As scared as I am of learning Thomas has hearing loss, I am almost as scared to learn he doesn't. I want so bad for this to be an answer, at least to something.

At the beginning of the month I took Thomas to see a specialist in San Antonio. The woman we met in Annapolis this summer had a clinic there we had an evaluation done. I didn't write anything about it because it wasn't an easy trip or time for me and I really didn't want to dwell on it. The reality of the future felt placed in front of me. The words mental retardation not just loomed, but surrounded me. It is so hard to look at your one year old son, who you love with all your heart, and reconcile that.

So I came home focused on today, focused on the love I have for my family, focused on Thomas as a boy, as my son, not as a diagnosis, or an impending one. But truthfully it lingers back there.

And if I am being truthful, I want a hearing loss to be more than an answer, I want fixing it to be a solution. I want a solution to all this and the truth is there isn't one, and that sucks.

A friend who drops in sometimes to read my blog asked what made me want to start it. I said some stuff about out of town friends and family keeping up with us and how I hope it is something Olivia and Thomas will read one day and enjoy. Kind of like an online scrapbook.

Really I started it so I could say that it sucks my kid will most likely have mental retardation, I am scared he could have severe hearing loss, and whatever else and then move on. That I would be able to share my feelings with my friends without having to see the looks on their faces or stumble through a conversation where they didn't know what to say, because what do you say?

Nothing. You look at this precious face and you smile. He is joy, he is happiness, he is perfect. Oh, and his sister is pretty great, too.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Going to the Chapel

Weekend before this past one, or the 14th of October to be specific, my sweet friend Pam married a wonderful man and friend, Ben. I had the joy and true privilege to be in the wedding as a bridesmaid. I will confess here that this was only my third time to be a bridesmaid. And technically you could say this was my first time, since the other two times I was maid-of-honor.

My first wedding was my sisters. I was young, 17 I think. I had no idea what all was required of a maid-of-honor and I am pretty sure I did a crap job since I was most concerned about how cute I was going to look to my then boyfriend during the ceremony. Would he dream of the day he would marry me? How good would he look in a suit? Can I ask the photographer to take a picture of us? Wait, what? I need to straighten the train? Hold the ring? What? Thankfully she did not keep score because she was a wonderful matron-of-honor to me.

The second wedding was my best friend and college roommate, Karen. I was somewhat better at my job. I hosted a shower (with my mom's help and financial contributions). I attended other showers, bought gifts, attempted a toast, cried. I was young though and had little thought about the actual marriage, the vows, the witness I was and the statement I was making standing with them.

This time was so fun and so much more meaningful. I adore Pam, she is a treasured friend. I have known her since she met Ben and always tried my best to be a support to her as she worked to figure out her relationship with him. I was so honored to be in her wedding. Since he was the Director of High School Ministries and she was the Administrative Assistant to Student Ministries at our church, it was kind of like a celebrity wedding. There was so much more meaning to me this time. As a bridesmaid I committed to supporting their marriage, not just on that Saturday, but FOR ALL TIME. Seriously, I will pray for them, love them (unfortunately from afar) and do my best to be there for them.

This experience was such a good reminder to me, and I think Mike, of the commitment we made to each other. This past year has not been easy. There has been sickness and health, we have felt both rich and poor. So many marriages end when a child is diagnosed with special needs. I am too lazy to look up the statistics, but it is high, I know from teaching. Despite all this, I have never been more confident in my love for Mike, his love for me and our dedication to our family. I do think though we have been so focused on being parents that we have lost focus on being husband and wife. I am thankful for the reminder.

So, congratulations to Ben and Pam! And doesn't Mike look good in a suit?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Values Compromised

So tonight I did it. I fed my family dinner in front of the television at home. In three years we have not allowed television to be a part of our family meal, at least since Olivia has started sharing it with us. Don't get me wrong, we have eaten many a meal in restaurants or at social events where the tv was on, but not here in our own home when it is just the four of us.

Tonight was the night, and what show you ask caused me to bend the rules? The Cowboys, specifically Tony Romo, and my belief that he could lead his team to another come-from-behind victory. I had high hopes, and a friendly bet at church of all places, that he could do it.

Do you ever fall into the belief that if YOU, the fan, keep watching the game then the momentum will change? If YOU, the fan, were to turn it off or give up it would make a difference, because YOU, the fan, are such an important part of the team, equal, to say, the kicker?

Funny, and totally not true, for they lost and there we all were, watching them, in the living room, with our left over pork loin in front of us.

Recently I heard a wonderful sermon from a missionary during Scofield's Missions Conference. He talked about how satan will use anything to keep our focus off God and His wants. Media, music, hobbies, literature, telephone, computer, even ministry. Anything that fills our eyes, thoughts, actions, keeps us moving, keeps us from seeing, hearing, feeling God.

It was convicting because it was true for me. So often when I am alone in the house or have time to myself I seek noise. Music or television or a phone conversation. Once I have had my quiet time, prayed and/or read my bible I am back up, in action, filling space and time with so many trivial things.

And tonight I made a football team more important than family time. I am disappointed because now I realize how much I do this in so many other instances. At night, when Mike and I finally get to sit down and be together, so often we watch reruns of the Office or our latest Netflix. I make phone calls to dear friends while driving or doing chores when my attention is not on listening to them, but divided. I read magazines while my daughter plays in the bathtub. If I keep going I might get depressed.

So will my kids remember this night when we chose a football game over quality time with them? I seriously doubt it, they are young. But will Olivia be asking repeatedly in a high pitched whine if she can eat dinner at the coffee table and watch Cars tomorrow night? Probably, and oh the joy that will bring to my heart knowing I am the one that introduced that fantasy to her young impressionable mind.

Monday, October 8, 2007

So much to say, so little time

Life has been a little hectic lately. I am definitely the over scheduled mom. I think my problem is I get beat down by the doctor and therapy appointments that fill our calendar, so I plan just as many fun outings or get togethers to try to balance it out. New plan, get over it.

Anyway, here is the latest around here in news blurb format:

Good news! Thomas graduated from DOC band and no longer wears a helmet! Yea! We have been swimming, to the park, on walks, played in the backyard. It is great. AND his head looks so round and purty. Way to go Thomas.

Bad news! Thomas had another ear infection, his 5th. He is now getting tubes. In fact, he will get them on Thursday morn.

Good news! This should stop the ear infections and get us through a winter season with much less pondering of whether or not to take him to the doctor to have his ears checked and risk exposure to all kinds of airborne diseases or not.

More good news! Thomas got his first tooth! It was a typical evening late in August, the baths were done, Mike was giving him his prevacid and felt it. A TOOTH! Bottom right. Glorious.

A job! I got a job! It is a part time working mostly from home gig with RISD and I am thrilled about it. I will be back with some of my favorite people, bonus, and I will be helping educate kid, double bonus.

So, what's there to complain about? Olivia LOVES school, the kids are healthy, A TOOTH!. Now if only the Cowboys can pull off an upset....

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Little Miss Manners

After a dinner of cheeseburgers, baked beans and broccoli, Olivia was eating some jello at our coffee table. Next thing you know she toots, looks up at me and says "That was just the steam from my beans."


She is definitely her father's daughter, who says he didn't teach her that. Is it just in the DNA?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Up Up and Away

We had a family outing last weekend and all went to the Plano Balloon Festival. Mike nor I had ever been. I was excited, Mike was his usual. Olivia and Thomas had no idea what to expect.

We decided to ride the train to the shuttle and avoid parking lot nightmares. Olivia really likes the train and we don't ride it enough. Actually, this past year we haven't had a lot of family outings, so all in all this was a thrill on many levels.

We got to the festival just as they were blowing up balloons for launch. We joined some friends on the hill and started our picnic dinner while we watched.

It really was quite impressive if you ask me. Massive balloons of all shapes and sizes leaving land and traveling quite fast through the sky right over our heads.

If you ask Thomas I think he will say he was much more impressed with the dinner we packed since he woofed down food for almost the entire time we were there with hardly a glance at the display in front of him.

If you ask Olivia she will probably tell you more about the baby cricket she found in the grass that she caught in her own hands and then played with most of the time we were there, glancing up only when we pointed things out or wanted to take her picture. Together with my friend Ladonna, she named the cricket George. Luckily she did not grow too attached and releasing him back into the wild was easy enough.

After all the balloons had lifted off we gave her the choice of going to the kids play zone or heading back on the train. She chose the train.

What does it take to impress a kid these days? Apparently a miniature cricket and a $2 DART train ride are enough.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

First Days and Eating Crow

Olivia started pre-school/mothers day out last week. Yes, it was on that extremely rainy Monday, hence the raincoat and rain boots. Supermommy was nowhere to be seen since I ran in with no umbrella and no cover for Thomas, who was in my arms. He was SOAKED and had no idea what to think. Olivia, however was dry and after changing shoes was ready for a day-o-fun.

Starting preschool has already taught ME a few things, never mind Olivia. First, always have an umbrella in the car. Second, eating crow is no fun.

Four days into this, I realize I am going to be way too critical of my kids teachers. This may be a result of being a teacher by trade. I mean heck, my last job was helping other teachers. It is what I like to do. And it is hard to change focus and recognize I am not here to give ideas or model lessons, I am here to drop off my daughter, be supportive, sign up for snacks.

The first day I drop Olivia off in her room. She walks in fine, eager to see her best friend Melanie. I am a little sad, but mostly excited for her that she will be having fun with her friends and not sitting at home enduring another Physical Therapy session for Thomas where she is constantly hearing, "Not right now, Olivia." "It is Thomas' turn." "Let's find something else for you to do." "Don't climb on Rebecca (the therapist)."

I walk down the hall and run into a girlfriend. Her daughter is in the other three year old class. She just had a baby a few weeks ago. Somebody walks by and asks if she brought a picture. She said no, she forgot and then tells me they had to take one last night to bring to class this morning since her teacher asked for the kids to bring a family picture for the All About Me Wall. She did? Hmmm, we didn't get asked for a family picture.

So now in my mind this other teacher is perfect, and Olivia's teacher is not. Wouldn't it be great if Olivia could have a picture of me, her adoring mother, in her classroom so that every time she became even the slightest bit homesick or unsure she could glance up at my loving face and be reassured of her place in the world? Wouldn't it?

When I picked her up at 2:30 she was ecstatic. She LOVED preschool. She got to play in the gym. THE GYM! She goofed off at rest time with Melanie, there were snacks, baby dolls, and the gym, mama.

So she liked it. Great. That's all that matters, right? But in my mind I am still thinking, yeah, but what does she know. She is three, she is easily amazed. I mean, the place has a GYM. And this was the beginning of my daughters school career. There was a lot at stake here. I mean, isn't your child's entire perspective on education going to based off this first, three year old Mother's Day Out experience? Surely, this is not just a case of too high expectations. This is near tragedy.
Then I get a email with a newsletter from her teacher on Friday. It tells about the week, what books were read, what the themes are for the month. Good, good, good. As I read I am feeling somewhat better. And then I see in the margin a request: Send a family picture that can be left at school for you child to share next week. Now I feel like a jerk.

I guess this is just the beginning of letting go. Letting other adults play a role in my daughters life will not be easy, but I do believe it will make her a better person. I am sure it will make me one, too.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


So, I started working out.

In a gym.

That's right. I am a workout girl.

Gym rat.


Yeah, I lift weights.

A couple of weeks ago I met with a dear friend who is a few steps down the road from me and she gave me some great advice for life, including to start working out at least three times a week. Right around that same time we were offered a year long Y membership for an extremely reduced rate. Could God have been speaking any more directly to me?

I am fortunate Mike has done all he can to help me find time in the week to get to the Y. It is not easy, especially since Thomas HATES the childcare. I am not sure why. They are very nice, have lots of great toys and nobody pinches him. Olivia loves it in fact and is excited when we go.

My plan of action is to start taking him swimming post work out in the hopes that he learns there is something in this for him.

So now, for some reason, I think this means I can eat as many and as much dessert as I want. Twice a day. Double portions, whatever. Heck, I even had ice cream for dinner one night (this was after the kids went to bed, I did not torture them at the table singing "Look what I can do that you can't, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah"). I really don't think this new found hobby is going to have the effect I am hoping for on my body at this rate, unless lifting really heavy spoonfuls of ice cream to my mouth counts as a workout....

For a little nostalgia, I looked this up on YOUTUBE for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy and remember back to when SNL was funny, or sort of funny.

Girly Men Pumping Iron

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's been awhile...

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. I kind of got in trouble tonight at book club for it, so here I am. At least I know somebody reads this, Hi Jennifer!

It has been a little busy around here. I went to Schlitterbahn with the youth group. Good time. Then I had to throw myself this really great pity party. A couple of days long, in fact. Not so good of times. Then I had to get over myself. Then I had this great idea to go to Oklahoma to see Mike's sister over Labor Day since we would have a three day weekend and me working on Saturday mornings makes it hard to make the trip on a normal weekend.

Mike was heading up to Norman already with my brother-in-law to see the OU v. UNT game and I thought why not just drive up and meet him there after the game and go on to Oklahoma City and see his sister's family?

I'll tell you why not. Me + packing up two kids and myself + loading the car + getting two kids ready for bedding down in the car + driving three hours in the car alone at 10:00 at night - Mike = not good. This is one of those times I believed too strongly in my Supermommy capabilities.

Mike left for the game about 11:30 on Saturday. I took the kids to the grocery store, fed them lunch, put them down for a nap. All was going well, so well that I thought I would just go right on ahead and take a nap with them. Mistake #1. I woke up to the sound of a firetruck outside our front door. Crap, our neighbor's birthday party had begun and we were late. I woke Olivia and Thomas up and rushed them out the door for it would have been THE END OF THE WORLD if they had missed even a second with the real life firetruck. The same real life firetruck Olivia had no desire to climb in, touch, or basically even get near. Mistake #2. I then stayed at the birthday party, in zone defense mind you, and proceed to feed my children cupcakes and ice cream at 4:30 in the afternoon. Mistake #3. We schlepped home about 5:15 and, of course, nobody wanted to eat dinner. At this point nothing had been packed, it was 6:30, and Thomas was near hysterical. I sat Olivia down, told her "Mommy is getting a little frustrated and I need you to be my helper." She must have heard the desperation in my voice because she went into perfect child mode. I was somehow able to get two kids bathed, pajammaed, packed and in the car by 9:00. Victory at last, except now I was being asked over and over again why I got frustrated. That's not frustrating at all.

I learned something about myself Labor Day weekend. Zone defense is not my strength after 5 pm. I am MUCH better at man-to-man and I need to realize that when it is 1 on 2 it is best to keep things as simple as possible post sunset. Hey, lesson learned. Supermommy only makes appearances around here when the sun is out. Maybe the moon is her kryptonine??? Something to ponder.

Turned out it was all worth it once we got to Oklahoma (at 12:30 am with Olivia wide awake and ready to play). Olivia is CRAZY about her aunt, uncle and cousin. We had a great time just hanging out, talking, eating really good food I didn't have to make (thanks Trish!) and watching the kids play. I really enjoyed just seeing what life at their house was like without anywhere to go or a holiday to celebrate. We really just hung out.

I have been terrible at recording life on the camera lately, so I only got a few shots at this awesome water park we went to on Sunday.

I think Thomas is looking at the water slide thinking "Just wait until I am tall enough to ride, I will OWN you!"

Friday, August 31, 2007


So, turns out 3 1/2 is not the right age to take your kid to the toy store and let them pick out a birthday gift to give a friend. Who knew? Actually, I knew, so I devised a plan. I was going to buy a toy that we already had, one I thought the friend would enjoy. This way, there wouldn't be any screaming, fit-throwing, or crying because Olivia wanted the toy for herself, for we already had the toy on the shelf in our playroom. Brilliant, I know. I should put this stuff in a book and sell millions.

One problem, the toy store forgot to keep the toy in stock.

When Mike called saying he needed to work late tonight, I thought, we'll run up to Northpark, grab the toy and run back home to meet him for dinner. There is an entrance right by the toy store, perfect. I showed Olivia the toy I thought we should get for the gift. She agreed, perfect.

Everything was going according to my perfect plan until we got in the toy store, went back to the puzzle rounder and the puzzle wasn't there. I searched the puzzle rounder an extra three times, it still wasn't there. As I stood there perplexed, completely unable to have a conscious thought about what to do now, Olivia pokes me and says "I need to go to the bathroom."

You must know Olivia is really good at picking difficult times to say she needs to go to the bathroom, usually when there isn't one for a good 3 miles. Well, we rush out of the store, find a nice clean, mall bathroom, do our business and then go back to the toy store. I search and find a toy that seems suitable. We purchase it and we leave. Perfect. Olivia didn't ask for one toy. She didn't whine once. Thomas was happy as a lark in the stroller. I was SuperMommy.

Then we get home. Olivia pulls the toy out of the bag and asks if it is hers. I say no, that is for her friend who is having a birthday party tomorrow. She proceeds to fall on the floor screaming, throwing a fit, and crying. She is excused to her room, where she continues to throw an even bigger and louder fit. Man, life is hard when you are 3.

About 5 minutes later, she comes out and says (and I quote) "Can you read me a book, mommy? I think it will help me calm down."

In that moment I thought, maybe I am getting something right. Maybe she won't need therapy when this is all over. Maybe.

(I can't get blogger to let me upload a picture, or I would share some scrumptious adorableness with you. Hopefully soon.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Over Budget

(Yes, my blog looks different. I decided to play with the other templates. Maybe this one is too dark, or colorful, or something....I can't decide)


Mike and I are a little weird when it comes to budgeting. We categorize everything we spend, down to the penny. Every receipt is hand entered and accounted for in our wonderful computer program created just for this purpose. It has made me slightly obsessed. My nickname around here is the Budget Nazi. Maybe it is not such a good thing.

Now, just because we scrutinize our spending constantly, doesn't mean we always stick to the budget. Every month we seem to go over in grocery spending, usually due to our ridiculous spending on fast food. And when I say over, I am talking hundreds, not ones. Really, it is out of control.

Always there is an excuse. We had meals to take to the sick or newly babied. There was nothing to eat for lunch after church so we had to drive through Wendy's (funny when my grocery shopping day is Saturday...). Thomas must have organic baby food, name brand diapers and special formula, for what parent would deny their heart patient son such luxuries?

Well, soon he went to generic diapers, for what parent paying for heart surgery can afford LUVS? It helped, but it wasn't enough. Then he started eating off our plates, instead of from the expensive reusable organic baby food plastic containers. Also helpful. And finally this month he started whole milk. It was huge. I had been concerned, fretted even, that we would have so start toddler formula. So many kids I have read about with Thomas' syndrome have eating issues. Whether it be because of extreme pickiness, texture defensiveness or out right refusal, some of the boys were still being supplemented with formula.

Now, Olivia never took to milk. She just wouldn't drink it, from a bottle or sippy cup. I had reason to fret. Thomas is barely on the growth chart, like 3rd percentile. There is little wiggle room here when it comes to the scales. More reason to fret.

Well, I met with the dietitian and we devised a plan. Guess what? The plan worked! In two weeks Thomas was on whole milk only, drinking it like a champ from a sippy cup, and later a straw cup. Yea! Go, Thomas, Go Thomas. Really, it has been so great to have an area where he is completely age appropriate.

Now back to the budget. Did whole milk save us? Was formula the culprit all along? As of today, I am only $9 over budget. That is amazing. The only problem is we have 3 diapers left in the drawer. Ouch. Guess we are going to have to start working on potty training that boy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Group Play

So the basic difference between a playdate and a playgroup is the number of people. Today we had about 15 of Olivia and Thomas' friends and mom's over to play. Probably a category 4 playgroup.

This was only our second time to host playgroup with the Early Childhood PTA. The first time was fine. There were three boys Olivia's age and another sibling that was Thomas' age. The kids who came seemed to have a fun, however Olivia clung to me almost the entire time. The mom's chatted, as usual. There were snacks which hardly anyone ate. Overall successful.

Today there were 8 moms, 9 three-year-olds, 7 one-year-olds and two newborns. It was a party. This time I hardly even saw Olivia. I had forgotten to buy snacks, so of course everyone was hungry. (Luckily my SuperMommy friends came to my rescue.) There was hardly much chatting due to the fact you couldn't finish a conversation before somebody needed to be taken to the bathroom, or helped down the stair, or fed a snack. Just about every toy we own was licked, thrown or played with. And of course there were frogs, for every good playgroup needs frogs.

Here are the kids looking at the frogs eating the web worms we caught (die, web worms, die!). I will have to elaborate on the frogs in another post, it will only bog this one down. And, no that is not a real baby on the other side of the aquarium, or in this case, terrarium. It is just a very real
looking doll.

The moms got the most enjoyment out of the dressing up that was going on. Oh, the careless life of a three-year-old. They have no idea what will come back to haunt them in their teenage years...

I didn't take any pictures of the aftermath. No need to scare Mike, or any of you for that matter. I don't want to be the cause of you never signing up to host playgroup in your own home. It really is a gift to be in a room of women who are in your same life stage, trying to feel your way through a foreign land. It is freeing, it is comfortable, it is what made today a great day.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Learning English

Today while leaving church and carrying Olivia out to the car, I commented on how big she was getting. Very concerned she said "I want to keep being holded." It took me a minute to understand what she was trying to say, and when I did, my heart melted. I love the grammatical mistakes these days, saying her instead of she, foots instead of feet. It is such a perfect reminder of her age, her innocence, and how she is just trying to figure things out. I want her to keep being holded, too.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


For the longest time we thought Thomas had a severe hearing problem. This stemmed from a lot of things, like the fact that he rarely startles, is hard to wake up and is not interrupted by noise. When he wasn't responding in fear to the vacuum cleaner, I began to really get worried. We scheduled hearing tests, but they were always cancelled due to illness. Then one day he startled. He turned to his name. And he started crying when the vacuum cleaner came on. I was no longer very worried. Annoyed that I had to now carry my baby while vacuuming to keep him from screaming in fear, yes. Worried that he was deaf, no.

Then last week our air conditioning slowly started getting louder and louder. Finally it maxed out at a mind numbing hissing like, ticking like, screeching sound that nearly drove me crazy. Literally. I could not stop complaining about it. I think what made it worse was that when it wasn't running it sounded absolutely silent in comparison, and then VROOMHISS it would kick back on, infuriating me. We watched a movie Saturday night about two feet from the tv. It was the only way we could hear what they were saying when the AC kicked on, even with our volume maxed out. And I am not exaggerating. Infuriating.

What was weird to me was that our kids never even noticed. Not once did Olivia ask what was that sound (maybe she was too afraid that by bringing it up steam would begin seeping from my ears). Thomas didn't even flinch. Not once did he look up, or stop what he was doing when it kicked on. Nothing.

Then miraculously the AC healed itself. At 3 am on Sunday night (Monday morning?) I got up with Olivia (who was going to the bathroom, and seems incapable to do so without one of us getting up with her) and the AC was running and I could barely hear it. No hissing, no ticking, barely even a hum. I think I smiled in my sleep for the rest of the night.

The next day I went to vacuum the living room. Thomas was awake and playing in his saucer, but I thought for sure it would be no big deal since he had given no notice to the demon possessed AC, why would he even look up for the mild mannered vacuum cleaner? Boy was I wrong. Immediately he lost it, and truly, crying is so unlike him. Fuss, yes, but cry? Hardly ever.

So the scientist in me is perplexed. Is my hypothesis all wrong that it is the noise that scares him? Is it possible that he understands the function of the vacuum and fears being sucked up with the goldfish crumbs? Oh, to get into that little head of his. It would make house cleaning so much easier.

And for the SEVEN of you that voted for the calendar picture (I am really trying hard not to take this as a blow to my ego), no, Super Mommy did not show up at the appointment on the 14th. Man, I could have called it. We all layed down for a nap, and then I rolled over and looked at my watch and it said 3:59. The appointment was at 4:15. We ran out the door, shoes in hand and I drove in a safe, mad fashion to the clinic. There was little chance for SuperMommy. Anyway, the good news is that I know how to pick good friends, and Carole, the mom of the other adorable DOC band baby, sent in four snap shots. The bad news is we are competing with babies from all over the United States, not just our little Dallas office like I thought. So maybe we won't get in. And maybe I really am becoming a showbiz mom. I am going to have to watch it.

Monday, August 6, 2007

SuperMommy Wanna-Be

So I will admit, I love the feeling of accomplishment when I pull off a SuperMommy moment. SuperMommy can thwart any attack of the whines, she handles all tantrums with poise and patience, she never runs out of healthy snacks, wipes, or antibacterial gel and she always has an extra change of clothes for accidents not just for her kids, but for any kid at the playground.

SuperMommy makes rare sitings around here lately. Like last week I took my kids over to my dad's house to nap so I could go to the dentist and I had no bottle, no formula, no lovey blankets. Even after a trip home to get the forgotten bottle and formula I STILL had no lovey blankets. Happy napping! Or when I took the kids to Scottish Rite for Thomas to be measured for orthotics. A visit I thought would take mere minutes. I mean his feet are only 3 1/2 inches long, how long could it take to measure them? Turns out it took about an hour and a half and I had no snacks, no books, no toys, not even a sippy cup of water. Olivia was not thrilled.

So Thursday night when I was walking through Northpark Mall alone, on my way to make a return and my husband calls asking where Thomas' pacifier was, my heart sank. Both of the ones I knew of were in the car, in the diaper bag that my hands were too full to carry in when we came home from the doctor earlier that day. I could hear Thomas crying in the background and I knew the frustration Mike felt. I gave him the grim news and hung up. But wait, what's that? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's SuperMommy! Braincells start firing and I remember, I had put a runaway-paci-found in the dishwasher that afternoon. I dial home and relish in my moment of saving my husband from a torturous bedtime, for trying to give medication without a pacifier is a difficult task, as it aides so nicely in the swallowing that is necessary.

Victory at last.

Now I have a favor to ask. I need your help picking the best picture to submit of Thomas and his friend Hunter to a calendar photo contest. And for those of you worried that I am becoming the next Lynn Spears, fear not. I don't even think it is fair to call it a contest, as it appears that as many pictures as can fit are in the calendar. Anyway, here's the story.

My dear friend Carole has a son who also has had to wear a DOC band. In fact, the boys got them only a week apart. For Thomas' birthday, Carole has Thomas' helmet painted like a Cowboys football helmet just like her sons. So when we heard that the DOC band company was having a calendar photo contest, we knew our boys would be a shew in for the cover (that is as long as those people over there at DOC band have more sense than Babygap).

We had our photo shoot this weekend and now we need your opinion on which one to submit.

Picture 1
I will edit out the red line.

Picture 2
I like that you can see the stars

Picture 3

Not a candidate, but how cute is this picture.

So this is how this works. You pick the picture you like. You click on comments at the end of this entry. You post a comment, either as a member (if you have a blog on blogspot) or as anonymous, which you will have to sign your name in your comment if you want me to know who you are.

So vote people! Exercise your right as an Internet user!

And let's all hope that SuperMommy will show up to Thomas' helmet check appointment on the 14th with a printed copy of the winning picture and a copy on disc, for that is the last day to enter. (And seriously, every month of the 2006 calendar probably had 20 snap shots of kids in helmets. This is not the Mr. Universe Pagent.)

Monday, July 30, 2007

To D.C. and Back Again

So you may or may not know that Mike and I were going to the D.C. area this past week, first to a conference and then on to see friends. You also may or may not know that Thomas was diagnosed with an extremely rare syndrome back in January. We found out while he was in the PICU, in fact the geneticist chose to break the news to us actually in his hospital room. It was really a good time, but another story I will not go into now. Well, this conference was for families of boys with this syndrome. We were very wishy washy about whether or not we wanted to go back when we found out about it. My parents were very encouraging of us to go, offering to keep the kids, and a friend I have meet through the Internet who has a son with the same syndrome was going, so we decided to go for it. (The fact that we would also get to spend a couple of days sightseeing and hanging out with our closest friends who moved to the area earlier this year was a huge bonus.)

About the conference. The main speaker/presenter was a woman with a practice in the Annapolis area. What I read on her website before the conference indicated that she works with families to write the best possible IEP (individualized education program) for her patients and then helps get the best possible and most effective services (like therapies) to bring that plan to fruition. Sounds good to me, especially as an educator, but I was a little skeptical. She charges a lot of money, and I mean a lot. Could she really provide what she offered, which to us was expertise, or was she praying on our desperation and profiting? We decided not to take Thomas, he had been through so much this year and traveling is never easy with a baby. Mostly we were going to check it all out, and our hope was to get some information that was more accurate than the doom and gloom picture that our geneticist painted, one we already knew Thomas would best.

You must understand this syndrome is rare. None of our doctors have seen it, there is little information out there, even with this vast arena we call the Internet. A boy has a better chance of being struck by lightening, probably twice. Well, the rarity really hit me we when found out there were 13 families at the conference, 3 from other countries. And our "expert" had data to share on 10 boys she had evaluated. This conference was going to bring her numbers up to 25. I must say that left me feeling lonely and also chosen. Maybe that doesn't make sense, but I don't know if I can elaborate.

I liked the doctor. She is the kind of person you are drawn to instantly. Her presence is felt, she seems important. She wants to help kids. She wants to help families. She wants to change the doom and gloom picture. I am for it, as it is not fun to hear what we heard about our son's future and from what I saw of the boys at the conference, it is not a good depiction. I want to do what we can to help.

The conference was a good kick in the pants for me. It reminded me that I need to be doing more of the things I used to tell parents to do when I was a teacher. This is serious. This is forever. This is my son's life and, really, both my kids are depending on me to set them up to be as successful as they can be, aren't they? I can be doing better. Now, don't feel you need to call or write and tell me I am doing good, or so much already or whatever make me feel better thing you are thinking. The truth is I can, and so I will. I will do the best I can.

The rest of the trip was great. Mike and I needed the time together, and we really enjoyed ourselves. Annapolis was a fun town. Lots to do and see. We walked around the Naval Academy and my respect for my brother-in-law, a graduate, grew 10 fold, which wasn't easy considering my already high level of admiration. We were able to see and eat dinner with old friends from church which was fun and refreshing after the long day of doctors and presentations. Of course, I took no pictures of our night with them, so there are none to post here.

On to D.C., where we stayed with my best friend Mary and her husband (again, I took no pictures). I miss her so much and being together is always the breath of fresh air I need. We did a lot of the tourist sites which was hot and tiring, but completely worth it. I did take pictures of this, however I am sure nothing that you haven't seen or could google.

I will admit here and only here(which means I don't really want to talk about it) that there were low moments . As we walked around the Naval Academy I thought about how my son would not go to school there. It would not be an option. Am I being harsh? Am I supposed to be a Polly Anna who believes anything can happen and smiles naively through it all? After hearing about brain capacity, speech delays and behavior issues, I just didn't have it in me. I fact is stared me harshly in the face. In reality, who cares? We are not from military families, this is an elite school, so many kids would not be going there, but it would have been fun to dream, you know? It was just like the Future President onesies we saw in kiosks. It felt like the dream of anything is possible has been taken.

At the end of the conference one of the dads made a DVD of snap shots taken of the kids and families. He ran them to the song Anyway by Martina McBride. There is a line in the song:

You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway

Maybe I am not alone in feeling this way.

My new dreams are for walking, running, playing a sports. Talking, yelling, calling a friend on the phone. They are enough. They would be amazing.

The conference really confirmed to me that Thomas is who HE is, and not defined by this. He has a great personality with likes and dislikes and he lets us know both. He adores his sister and thinks his dad is hilarious. He is happy and he is healthy. He is my son. I wouldn't change a thing.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Happy Birthday to You

Happy Birthday Thomas (on Saturday!)

What a year it has been! I am so excited to see what this next year brings for all of us.
Thomas' party was a great time. He got to swim, try cake for the first time (which he liked) and try ice cream for the first time (which he LOVED). Olivia fed him almost her entire bowl of vanilla. It was so sweet, a memory of my two kids and their special bond I hope I never forget.
The party was especially great for Olivia. Her cousins were here, the closest thing to a celebrity in her life, she spent hours in the pool, again there was cake and ice cream and she loved all his presents. Score for her. This having a brother thing does have its perks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hard Hat

We picked up Thomas' DOC band today. He was less than thrilled. As soon as the therapist put it on he looked at us like we were crazy. Within minutes his head was soaked. Man that kid is a head sweater, and this is his worst nightmare. At home we would see the trickles of sweat running down his cheek. He fussed his way through dinner, was inconsolable until we took it off for an official head-check and bath. He was too tired to care when we put it back on and fell asleep during his bottle. I guess that extra 6 oz. will take some getting used to.

I hate to say it, but I hope he adjusts quickly. This kid has been a dream patient through everything (okay, except needles, but do those count? Nobody likes needles.) rarely crying or getting fussy. He had one bad day after heart surgery. One bad day. I think that it what makes it harder for me to see him have a hard time with this. What makes it worse is that we really went through some changes trying to decide whether or not we wanted to even get the thing. His flat spot is not that noticeable, he has gone back to sleeping on a flat surface, maybe it would self correct. It was the stinking insurance company that turned on the final Jeopardy music causing us to make the appointment. They wouldn't pay once he turned a year old. He turns a year old on Saturday. Love you Aetna!

So now we will be doing our best to keep that boy in air conditioning. No parks, no walks, no hot cars. I signed him up for this torture device, the best I can do is make it as comfortable as I can for him.

Really, I know it will be fine, that he will adjust, it was a bad night, whatever. The truth is I think that after this appointment I used all my remaining brain cells. Over the past 8 months I have taken in so much new information about medications, feeding strategies, neurological disorders, muscle tone, Scottish Rite (let me in!), heart defects, more medications, exercises, car seats, cornea myopathy, chromosomal mapping, and more that I fear I have no more brain cells to give. Unfortunately we start a whole new topic with testosterone therapy on Thursday so I better start clearing out space. I mean, what would happen if I was illiterate? Uneducated? Had to work full time outside of the home? What would happen to my son? Maybe he would be just fine, maybe none of this matters and it would all work itself out in the end, or maybe I really am increasing his chances for success, quality of life and access to the world around him. Probably I will never know, but I hope. I mean look at this adorable face, I would do anything for him.

Some pre-helmet cuteness:

Post helmet and just as cute!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Doggie Vac

Before we had kids, I remember Mike and I wondering could we ever love our own child as much as our dog? There was no way that he or she would be cuter than Dexter. Not to mention his loyalty, his companionship, his charm. We were in doggie la-la-land, and he had it good. Treats, long walks, tummy rubs, sleeping in our bed. It was doggy utopia.

Then Olivia came. Dexter who? Treat money was spent on diapers. Long walks were now with a stroller not a leash. Tummy rubs? I had to hold the baby. And the few precious hours of sleep I got were not going to be spent with a smelly dog, for we no longer had time or money to groom him as often ourselves or professionally. He knew his position in the food chain had changed (there was rarely food in the bowl), and thankfully never took it out on her, instead he started running away.

It was fun, driving the streets of our neighborhood in my pajamas, on four hours of sleep, hanging a squeaky toy out the window and yelling with my newborn in the back seat. Good times.

Well, thankfully life has improved greatly for Dexter over the past three years. Olivia learned to throw a ball. She started walking and later holding the leash herself. She loved to be outside and even moved to a big bed where there was plenty of room for Dexter.

But best of all was when she started eating. Food fell from the sky in what must have seemed like a dogs version of those raining Skittles commercials. A regular smorgasbord for Dexter, and I was never going to complain for I never had to sweep.

Then came Thomas and it is was like Dexter knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. He loved on Thomas from the beginning, licking his toes and head, laying next to him on the floor, letting Thomas pull his hair. Never once has he run away, even when the dog bowl was empty. And now it is time for the pay off. Cheerios, black beans, crackers, veggie puffs, cheese, banana bread. Dexter is in dog heaven. And I am glad, for he deserves it. He's a good dog.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Helmet Head

We are going to get Thomas' Doc Band helmet on Tuesday. The casting was a couple of weeks ago and I think it is a positive sign for how he will handle the actual helmet that it went great. He hardly whimpered.

For some reason, I could not stop giggling when he had the cast on. I mean how cute are those puffy cheeks and only the pacifier sticking out from the mesh?

I am amazed how much stronger he is since his surgery. He is holding that heavy cast up while sitting practically on his own. What a stud!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Give me your tired

Being a mom makes you tired. At least it does me. I take a nap almost everyday now, and boy do I feel lazy. Sort of. Dr Pepper, who used to be my best friend, is now my alter ego, and ironically most likely the cause for my constant sleepiness. Yes, mom I am taking my vitamins and and eating fruits and vegetables. Yes, I am even taking my calcium.

In this house we are sleeping the best we have in awhile. Unfortunately, those under 4 feet tall like to awake with the sun. Without fail, there is a three year old at my bedside or calling for me from hers by 6:15. Shortly there after I hear the thump thump of Thomas kicking his feet against his mattress. I beg for more sleep, offering books, polly pockets, even my own bed, but she will not be thwarted, and by now the kicking in the other room has turned into a yelling/calling sound. I must get up and tend to those I am responsible for. I mean three is a little too young to be teaching her how to make her own cereal bowl and turn on the DVD, right?

We found an appropriate song for our little early bird by Trout Fishing in America. It is called My Hair Had A Party Last Night.

Surely, those who wrote it have a child with curly hair.

I guess my sleeping in days will have to wait until my kids are teenagers, until then, feel free to call or pop in before 7. We're up.

**P.S. Parents, you do not have to succumb to nursery rhymes and kid sing alongs as your only source of musical pleasure when with your kids (however we do enjoy those, too). There are a bunch of great artists out there that are making good kids albums, like Trout Fishing. Sara Hickman, Lisa Loeb and Dan Zanes are a few of the ones we really like. AND, for those of you from my generation, They Might Be Giants even has a kids album, and it is not bad (we may be late on this since we do not have cable and therefore do not watch the new Mickey Mouse show which it appears they wrote the theme song for). Oh, and for those who enjoy a little flava, Andre 3000 (of Outcast) has a kids album, too. And apparently a show according to itunes. Check it out.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Our lunchtime conversation:

"Has it been raining three years or five years mommy?"

"Feels like it has been five years."

Nothing like having a pool party to go to, something the whole family would love, and looking up into the sky to see those luminous grey rain clouds. Oh but wait, now it is sunny, now we can go! Oh, check again, it is raining. What is up with the moody sky?

Plus, Olivia has an extreme fear of thunder. When we were getting out of the car after church, she was walking up to the house when the thunder started rolling. She immediately started crying and running in circles, for she didn't know if she should run to me or the house. It was cute. Where was the greater safety? Mommy's arms won out. It's great to be a mom.

Despite the rain we have had some outdoor fun.

Swimming (Thomas' first time):

Bike Riding (Olivia's first bike! Thanks Kate for passing it along.):

A visit to the Nasher Sculptor Gardens (which BTW is free the first Saturday of the month):

We hope you too are finding time for some outdoor recreation. To quote the late, great John Denver, "Sunshine on My Shoulders Makes me Happy".