Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year to all!

Happy New Year to all! May 2010 bring you the things I wish for myself: health, happiness & peace. My love to you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bleargh. Feel crummy today.

Bleargh. Feel crummy today. Baby puked all over me this morning. Great...Looks like we both have the plague.

Monday, December 28, 2009

the Great Glass Elevator of Doom Incident of December 2006

On December 10, 2006, Mr. Fantastic and I had dinner at the Tabor Center. We finished and headed to the elevator to go down to the parking garage. They’re these cool glass elevators, in like an atrium sort of thing. And all four walls are glass so you can see not only into the atrium, but also to the street outside and everything. Mr. F presses the DOWN button.
Great Glass Elevator of Doom: *opens invitingly*
Me: *strolls innocently inside*
Mr. F: *starts to enter but is forced to stop when…*
GGEoD: *whooshes shut alarmingly, catching Mr. F's arm in the process*
Mr. F: D’oh! *hastily yoinks arm free*
GGEoD: *doors close with decisive clang*
Me: *turns around* What are you doing?
Mr. F: (shouting through the glass) THE DOOR SHUT ON ME! IT BARELY MISSED CLOSING ON YOU!
Me: *presses DOOR OPEN button* The button doesn’t work. *giggles*
Me: You don’t have to shout. *presses all the buttons* None of the buttons work!
Mr. F and Me: *futilely struggle to pry open the doors*
Mr. F: *helpless shrug*
Me: *embarrassed giggle*
Mr. F and Me: *share look of ‘seriously, is this really happening?’*
Purple Sweater Lady: *presses DOWN button* What’s going on?
Mr. F: My wife is stuck in there!
PSL’s Teenage Daughter: Ohmigod!
PSL: Did she press the buttons? DID YOU PRESS THE BUTTONS?
Me: *presses all the buttons again* None of the buttons work! *laughs helplessly *
Mr. F: Try the CALL button.
Me: *presses the CALL button again* It’s not working! *laughs helplessly some more*
GGEoD: *alarm bell rings*
Me: *looks hopeful*
Black Hat Guy: What’s going on?
Mr. F: My wife is stuck in there!
PSL: His wife is stuck in there!
BHG: *peers at me*
Me: *waves feebly*
BHG: Did she press the buttons? DID YOU PRESS THE BUTTONS?
BHG’s Girlfriend: Ohmigod!
PSL’s Teenage Daughter: I know!
Me: *facepalm*
BHG: (to Mr. F) Let’s see if we can pry the doors open. WE’RE GOING TO TRY TO OPEN THE DOOR.
Mr. F and BHG: *futilely struggle to pry open the doors*
GGEoD: *lurches unnervingly, lights flicker*
Family of Five: What’s going on?
Mr. F: My wife is stuck in there!
PSL: His wife is stuck in there!
BHG: His wife is stuck in there!
Me: *waves feebly*
FoF: *peers at me*
Me: *feels like zoo animal*
FoF Dad: Did she try the CALL button? DID YOU TRY THE CALL BUTTON?
Me: *facepalm* None of the buttons work! *laughs helplessly, demonstrates how pressing any of the buttons does nothing*
Family of Five: *takes escalator*
Mr. F: *calls my cell phone* I don’t know what to do! I’m calling 9-1-1.
Me: *laughs helplessly* I can’t believe this is happening.
~ Meanwhile, Mr. F calls 9-1-1. He gave me the recap on the way home.
911: What’s your emergency?
Mr. F: Er, I’m not really sure—my wife—we’re at the Tabor Center, and um, my wife is stuck in the elevator? And um…
911: At the Tabor Center? They’re already on their way. She’s in elevator 2, right?
Mr. F: Er…
911: We were alerted when the alarm bell went off.
Mr. F: Oh! Okay.
~ Back at the Great Glass Elevator of Doom…Mr. F has been forced to the back of the crowd of people while he was calling 9-1-1. They are all looking in at me and helpfully shouting suggestions.
A Small Crowd: *has gathered*
Me: *still feels like zoo animal*
Me: *presses the ALARM button*
GGEoD: *alarm bell rings, then shuts off*
Me: *facepalm*
Mr. F: *calls my cellphone* I called 9-1-1. They were already on the way.
Fire Truck Sirens: *wail in the distance*
Me: *facepalm* They’re sending a fire truck?! I cannot believe this is happening to me! *more helpless laughter*
Mr. F: *waves at me over the crowd* You okay in there?
Me: I’m fine. This is just…*laughs helplessly*
Fire Truck Sirens: *wail in proximity*
Mr. F: *laughing* Look! They’re here! *points behind me, outside*
Me: *looks outside* OH MY GOD.
~ There are TWO fire trucks plus that extra non-fire-truck vehicle, roaring down the street, sirens wailing, lights a-blazin’. I am mortified.
Me: They sent TWO fire trucks?
Mr. F: Well, you’re very important.
Twenty Firemen: *storm the atrium*
Me: *waves feebly*
Mr. F: I have to hang up now, they want to talk to me.
PSL’s Teenage Daughter: Ohmigod! This is SO embarrassing!
My Brain: No shit, Sherlock.
A Small Crowd: *disperses somewhat*
~ So the head fireman is very kindly and concerned about me, probably thinking that my continued helpless laughter is bordering on hysteria. He was really nice and kept talking to me through the glass, asking if I was okay and such.
Head Fireman: ARE YOU OKAY?
Me: Yes, I’m fine. *helpless laughter*
Me: Okay, no problem.
Head Fireman: *goes off to do fireman stuff*
Me: *twiddles thumbs*
Twenty Firemen: *do rescue-y things*
Me: I still have no problem with that.
Me: Okay, no prob—Wait, what?
Me: You think it might crash?!
Head Fireman: *glares at Fireman #2* IT’S NOT GOING TO CRASH. JUST SIT TIGHT.
~ So then I twiddled my thumbs some more, and took pictures of the firemen with my camera phone, and called several people, including my brother and a friend. It was very hot and boring inside the Great Glass Elevator of Doom, despite the fact that it lurched alarmingly a couple of times and there was still somewhat of a crowd milling about. Also, Mr. F entertained me by taking pictures of the firemen and me in the GGEoD and also making faces and flipping me off behind everyone’s back.
~ And then they got the first set of doors open.
A Dwindled Crowd: *claps*
Me: *thumbs up*
GGEoD: *laughs evilly*
Me: *facepalm*
~ And it took three of them and some sort of jaws-of-life-y tools to pop the gears and pry the doors and then they finally got them open enough for me to get out.
GGEoD: *doors open reluctantly*
Head Fireman: *gallantly hands me out of the GGEoD* EVERYTHING—er, everything all right, miss?
A Dwindled Crowd: *claps* HOORAY!
Me: *humbly* Yes, yes, I’m just fine. Thank you. Thank you so much. (loudly, to all the firemen) THANK YOU!
Twenty Firemen: *tip caps politely*
GGEoD: *shakes fist* Curses! Foiled again!
~ And then we went home and ate cheesecake and all was well.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas dinner

Christmas mas dinner w/ my family tonite, then laid in bed w/ hubby & son watching It's a Wonderful Life...and it truly is. ♥

Happy Birthday, Steve

I miss you big brother. It's just not the same without you, T.B. Cott.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Blue Bayou and Buckets

On our recent trip to Disneyland, we ate at the Blue Bayou restaurant, some place I have wanted to eat since I was a little girl. This restaurant really isn't that great - mostly just another overpriced, marginal food, theme park restaurant. But the thing about it is, it's located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I know! Coolest thing in the WHOLE WORLD to a little girl on her first trip to the Happiest Place on Earth.

When you get on the ride, before you get to the Pirate part, you first go through this sort of Louisiana swamp area at "night", and it's all dark and there's crickets chirping and fireflies and such. (This is because the ride is located in the New Orleans Square area of Disneyland. You know, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland...and New Orleans Square. Yeah, I don't get it either.)

So in this first part of the Pirates ride, you go through the swamp, and in the swamp, there's the restaurant. And you go by in your little boat and can see all the people on the "terrace" "outside" at their tables eating by lantern-light. And when I was a little girl, I wanted DESPERATELY to eat at that restaurant. A restaurant! Inside the ride! Clearly, you had to be somebody special in order to eat there. Of course, on that trip, we didn't eat at the Blue Bayou, probably because it was too expensive, but all I really remember is how much I wanted to go there and we didn't.

Since that first visit to Disneyland, I have been back several times. And each time, I still wanted to eat at the Blue Bayou and for whatever reasons, circumstances have always prevented it. So finally, this time, neither time nor money nor ANYTHING else was going to stop me. I told Mr. Fantastic that no matter what, we were eating there, come hell or high water, whether he wanted to or not. I called two weeks early to make a reservation.

Come the big day, it all went off without a hitch, and suddenly, there we were, sitting in the dark of a Louisiana swamp, listening to the frogs and crickets, watching the people go by in their little boats and eating our marginal food. And I could not have been happier. I sat there the whole time enjoying the heck out of myself, remembering how it felt to be the little girl in the boat going by, wanting so badly to be on that terrace eating my lunch. I was inordinately pleased - so happy I was almost in tears and could not wipe the giant grin off my face.

As our meal came to a close, I had a realization. I had just done something I had longed to do almost my entire life. I looked at my companions, Mr. Fantastic and Mummy Fantastic and little Fletcher, and I said with swelling heart, "I think I just crossed something off my bucket list."

And the thing is - I don't even have a bucket list. Or, I didn't. But I do now. The feeling of happiness and accomplishment over achieving something so trivial yet so important coupled with the recent loss of my brother made me remember that yes, life IS too short. Too short to put off doing the things you want to do and too short not to have a list of crazy things you've always wanted to try.

So, here it is, the start of my bucket list - most definitely a work in progress that I will be adding to as I think of things that time or money or distance or sheer seeming-impossibility have always kept me from doing.

1. Eat at the Blue Bayou in Disneyland
2. Go on a hot air balloon ride
3. Visit Australia
4. Visit Ireland
5. Ride/drive a Ferrari
6. Wear a sexy red dress someplace fancy
7. Partake of a croquembouche
8. …

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thank you.

I know I still owe a lot of people thank yous for everything everyone did after Steve passed away. Writing the necessary thank you notes and emails has been incredibly difficult for me.

The physical acknowledgment of all the help and support we received makes it all the more real. Almost as if, if I keep putting it off then I can pretend a little bit like it didn't happen. I know it's not good for me to push it away like that and it's actually been weighing on me - I've lost sleep over these thank you notes even though I know nobody is checking their watch waiting for them.

Even so, I want everyone to know how much my family has appreciated everyone's support over these past few months. So many people have done so much - cards, emails, calls, flowers, visits, food and just providing general support and shoulders to cry on. I can't begin to tell you all how much it means to me.

Thank you all so very, very much for everything.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's getting harder

Things have been really hard lately. I am missing Steve more and more as it starts to sink in. Driving through his parking garage the other day, I just burst into tears out of nowhere. Just being there brought me back to that day in August when he called me for help when he suddenly couldn't use his arm or speak and then everything that came after.

I keep thinking about the unfairness of it. I had these same thoughts when my mom died 12 years ago. Why do we have to lose good people? Why do I have to lose the most important people in my life? After a long time, I was finally able to learn and grow from my mom's death. I have often said that losing her changed me in many ways, mostly for the better. Of course, I couldn't see it then, and as such, I have difficulty seeing it now. I can only hope that losing Steve too will make me a better person.

I am also feeling a lot of stress in dealing with the estate. I knew it would be difficult but there have been some things happening that I didn't expect that make it that much harder. I have had a couple of sleepless nights with everything going through my head.

As always, my son is my bright spot. He's recently learned to stand by pulling himself up. It's so amazing to see him growing and getting stronger and learning new things every day. He makes me so happy but I'm also so sad that his Uncle Steve isn't here to see it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

State of the union, plus Peanut - 7 & 8 months

It's been almost two months since Steve passed away. I guess it's about time to end radio silence.

Things are going okay. We all miss him every day in so many big and little ways. In many ways, I don't think I've even begun to really process it. I feel all the small things, every time I want to pick up the phone and call him or when I think of something that would have made him laugh or ask him a question about something as I so often did since he knew so much about everything.

But on the larger scale, the void where he was, just hasn't hit me. It's still too awful for me to really think about. I catch myself twenty times a day starting to think about it and pushing the thoughts away because it's still too much. I find it hard to watch football now because it was such a part of him. But how I do wish he was here to see the Broncos off to such a good start! Then we could debate whether last year was Cutler's fault, Shananan's or both.

In the mean time, we are doing the things that need to be done. Steve made me the executor of his estate, so it's been hard, but with Mr. Fantastic's help, I've been getting started on getting his affairs settled. It is so sad to wrap up what's left of a life. It's awful, to see all the things he left behind. It's awful to see things he started but will never finish. I picked up a book with a bookmark in it, realizing that he would never know the ending and it made me so sad. To look at his DVR and see all the things he'll never get to watch. To know he'll never find out who won the World Series of Poker this year - we were all so excited to know Phil Ivey made it to the final table, and now he'll never know how it goes. All these little things just break my heart.

I don't know when it will stop being the little things and start being the big things. Probably I'm shielding myself until I get the estate taken care of so I'll just be able to handle it. When it's all done, I imagine that's when it's all going to really sink in. One day at a time, right now.


In happier news, my little boy has helped to make this bearable. He is my absolute joy, my reason for getting up every day and going on and smiling and laughing. Peanut just turned eight months at the end of October and is flourishing. He's been threatening to crawl for a while now. Right now he's doing sort of an army-crawl type thing. I call it the "wounded soldier" because it's mostly using his arms and one leg while he drags the other behind him. But on occasion, he'll get up on all fours and take a "step" or two, then sort of flop over to his butt. Won't be long now until we won't be able to keep up with him.

I didn't know it was possible, but Peanut has become even more vocal than before. Lots of ba-ba-da-da-la-la stuff, plus some yowling and little noises that I call chirps. It is a delight to hear him babbling away to himself or to us. And he's still laughing all the time. However, he does get this charming little disgruntled look on his face when he's not laughing or squealing or chattering away. I can't wait to hear what his first word is. Knowing him, it won't be mama or dada, it will be yumyum.

Speaking of yumyums, he is still nursing but has finally decided that he likes people food. Hooray! He still hates formula and I don't know that we'll ever get him to take it, but I was despairing that he'd ever start eating food and using all those teeth of his. He's got seven teeth now! Four across the top, plus the bottom two in the middle and he just cut the next bottom one on the right side.

I gave up on trying to get him to eat baby food - I think he didn't like the puree texture. But he is happy to eat what we're eating. So far he basically seems to like any "grown up" food that we give him - mashed potatoes, chicken, sweet potatoes, whole grain pasta, grapes, pears, etc. Plus I've been mixing baby oatmeal into fruit puree and making it thick and lumpy and he loves that. As long as it's not the thin, runny consistency of baby food, he seems to be okay. We tried some pea puree the other day that he wasn't too sure about but otherwise, he's chomping at the spoon for whatever we give him. Also he does well picking up the bits and feeding himself. Since the puree thing was a no-go, we are generally practicing a sort ofbaby-led weaning, which basically means we let him do the eating himself, with the exception of the oatmeal/fruit stuff. But we also let him handle the spoon and stuff to help him get used to it, and we let him reach for it as opposed to just sticking it in his mouth indiscriminately. I put a variety of foods on his tray and he decides what he wants to eat and how much. I'm going to try him with yogurt this week and see how that goes.

Peanut finally had his very first diaper rash last week. Amazing that we made it eight months without one! Don't know if that's the breastmilk or just being fanatic about changing him all the time, but we're thankful he's had a healthy butt for the majority of the time.

Halloween was a success - at least, there was no crying, so I'll count that a win. Peanut had two costumes, a monkey and a pumpkin. Both were adorable. Check out the awesome pictures at the link below.

New pictures here, plus new videos here (and more to come!)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My ray of sunshine...

My reason for smiling every day. My happy little monkey. I could not be more thankful for him.

More videos here and new photos in the Peanut Gallery too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Final update on Steve

As many of you already know, Steve passed away Monday morning, September 21.

There are no words to express the magnitude of this loss. The world is lesser for having lost him; we are better for having known him.

I can't begin to thank all of you for all the support you've given me and my family for the last two years, and especially the last few weeks. You have our deepest gratitude.

I am putting together a memory book of Steve, so if you have any stories or favorite memories of Steve that you'd like to share, please send them to me to be included.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Steve status

Mr. F, Monkey, Grampa and I are watching the Bronco game with Steve. We had his hospital bed all set up in the living room right in front of the giant screen t.v. so he can keep up with all his football when he's not dozing. Mr. F is so sweet - he went and got Steve's Champ Bailey jersey and laid it over his chest since he can't put it on for the game.

Steve's had some ups and downs the last few days. Having some pain in his head, especially near the right temple where we know a tumor to be located. I can only presume that means it must be growing. In the last day or two, his breathing has gotten kind of rattly. That's probably partly due to missing half a lung and partly due to the way things progress. He didn't rest much the first few days but he slept a lot last night and some today. We are doing our best to keep him comfortable but it's hard to know just how he's doing when he can't tell us. Sometimes it seems like he's drifting away from us, and other times he's so alert and awake and aware of what's going on and the conversation around him.

It's been funny how expressive he can be without words! Especially how sarcastic and funny he can be without saying a thing. I love it when he makes a joke and I get it just from his body language. Everybody always said we had our own little language and I guess they're right. We still understand each other even without talking.

We've had a parade of people in to visit Steve since we brought him home. Work colleagues, college friends, high school buddies, family. All of them hold Steve in such high regard - everybody loves him. A trait he has in common with our mom. And it's been really great for me to see guys I've heard a million stories about but haven't seen since I was a little kid, and to put faces with the names of other people I know to be part of Steve's life. Steve's been thrilled to see so many dear friends and just lights up when I tell him who's coming to visit next. I know he sure wishes he could chat with them like he wants to.

Talking with everyone and especially receiving the all the emails from all over has been amazing. I always knew that Steve was a wonderful, generous, kind person, but I'm his sister - I'm prejudiced. Hearing the glowing way others speak of him and the great stories they tell has made me so proud to be his sister and so pleased to have him a part of my life. We gave our son Steven for a middle name and I can only hope my little Monkey grows up to be just like his Uncle Steve.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thank you.

I'm going to be pretty busy for the foreseeable future, and I don't know if or when I'll be able to get back to everyone individually, so I just want to say thank you to everyone who's called, posted and emailed. Your words of love, encouragement and support mean so much more to me than I can convey.

We are all doing our best hanging in there and making Steve as happy and comfortable as we can. Knowing my family and I are in the thoughts and prayers of so many is helpful in so many ways. Thank you all so, so much.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Latest on Steve

We received sad news on Steve yesterday. We spoke with his doctor regarding his MRI from the 11th. The new scan shows further disease progression and more tumors in the brain, including regrowth in the area where he had the tumors removed on the 3rd. This is why he hasn't seemed to be getting any better since the surgery.

His medical team has done their absolute best for him but there is nothing more they can do. He is not experiencing any pain, but he will not regain the use of his right arm, nor will his normal speech return. His oncologist said it would be optimistic to expect that he has two months left. From looking at the MRIs and seeing just how many tumors there are, I am not expecting it will be that long.

We are bringing Steve home from the hospital tomorrow under hospice care. He wants to stay at his place as long as possible, and my dad, brother JT, Mr. F and I will share taking care of him. There will also be a nurse that comes in 2-3 times a week, and we are talking about hiring another nurse to help out. At this point, Steve's whole right side is weak and he has difficulty walking so he will mostly be in bed.

I am in turns numb and near hysterical with grief. Losing my mom was hard but this will be even more difficult. I have known him longer and better than I knew my mom. Not only is he my brother but he is one of my - and Mr. F's - best friends in the world. I cannot even begin to imagine what life will be like without him.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Not much to update on Steve

Have been in to see Steve every day since surgery. He doesn't want me to spend too much time at the hospital and protests at me if I do, but I feel like I should at least go see him every day, if only for a few minutes. Mr. F and Peanut always take me so they can see him too.

No real change - still can't move the arm much and still has the expressive aphasia (that's what the trouble finding words is called). I think he's getting a little discouraged since there hasn't been much improvement in that area.

He says he's not having any pain and is just really tired. He says he's not up for visitors or calls because it's so hard to talk and wears him out even more. I've told friends/family that if anyone wants, they can send email or cards to me and I'll bring them to him. I think that would do a lot to cheer him up.

I hung up some pictures in his hospital room - me and the baby and Mr. F - not just for Steve to look at but so the staff knows that he's a person with people who love him. And I put up a photo of me and Steve and Mr. F together at last year's Fantasy Football draft so they can see what he looks like in healthier times. Not that his nurses and CNAs haven't been great, but I like to remind them that he's not just another one in a long line of sick people. With him unable to talk much, and mostly just sleeping and lying in bed, I'm afraid they won't really get to know him as a person. Hopefully our daily visits and the photos will help.

I'm hoping to hear from the surgeon soon. Tomorrow is a week since surgery, so the plan is to assess him in the next few days and move him to the inpatient acute rehab center they have at the hospital. He's told me he doesn't feel ready to be at home on his own yet, so this will be a good step for him.

Please continue to keep him in your thoughts.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Steve's ok

Steve's doing fine. Was still a bit sleepy when we got to see him last night around 6 and had some blurry vision. Not sure yet about his arm and speech but we think both seem a little better. Fingers crossed! He has a bit of a headache but is in good spirits.

The surgeon got the mass out - it turned out to be two tumors right next to each other. It came out cleanly and he said he was happy with how it went. Apparently, with melanoma, it doesn't invade the brain tissue so much as take up space, so when they take the tumors out they almost just fall right out because they're not attached to anything inside.

One bit of bad news, though - yesterday morning's MRI was much more detailed than the previous MRIs he's had, and it shows what looks to be 12 small tumors instead of the previously thought 5. They're not sure if those are new or just showing up better on the more detailed MRI. The plan is still to get as many as they can with the gamma knife on the 14th and go from there.

Sure hope this aggressive treatment will be able to keep on top of what's happening in the brain. I wish we knew whether those were new tumors so we'd know if things are moving really fast or what.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Latest on Steve

So after everything that happened earlier this month with the two ER visits and the speech problems and losing the use of his right arm, Steve and the rest of us were getting increasingly concerned about Drs. Jotte & Lamond's wait-and-see approach to treatment.

The idea that Steve has a tumor in his brain that has burst and was/is bleeding, therby putting pressure on certain parts of his brain and making certain parts of his body not work is incredibly scary. What's even more scary is when your medical team basically says, "Eh. It'll get better," and sends you home literally without doing anything. Steve is so frustrated with both the arm and the trouble speaking and we've seen no improvement since they sent him home. It's terrifying, for him especially, to think that it might never get better.

With all of us feeling more and more uncomfortable with doing nothing, Steve decided to get a second opinion from the Cutaneous Oncology department at the University of Colorado Anchutz Cancer Center. We got quite a different story from them. Bottom line is that Steve is scheduled for surgery tomorrow to have the tumor removed.

We met last week with Dr. Karl Lewis, an oncologist, and also with Nurse Practicioner Amanda Brill who works for the neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Breeze. We met with Dr. Breeze today. What this team has told us is that the lesion that is bleeding is too big to reabsorb and needs to be removed. The blood/fluid surrounding it may reabsorb but the tumor itself is large enough that it needs to come out or the arm and speech won't improve. They let us look at the MRI and we saw that this tumor and the surrounding blood clot is about the size of a golf ball. And we also found out that there are four to five more small tumors, which was complete news to us. The plan is to get those tumors using the gamma knife (an outpatient procedure) on Sept 14.

This is basically completely the opposite of what the previous doctors were doing but after meeting with the new doctors, we all feel so much more better about Steve's future. It felt a lot like the previous doctors just didn't know what else to do or like there wasn't anything more that they could do. We all have a renewed sense of optimism with this new treatment plan. Basically, they feel like you have to treat melanoma aggressively, and make sure you treat the systemic disease (in the body) in conjunction with treating the brain.

I think the big difference is that Dr. Breeze's and Dr. Lewis's practices have been working as a team for twenty years treating melanoma specifically, whereas Dr. Jotte and Dr. Lamond are just two doctors that I don't know if they ever actually spoke to each other regarding Steve's treatment, let alone formed a plan of attack as a team. I feel personally that Steve's prognosis is much better with this new approach.

Surgery is at noon tomorrow following an MRI at 10:15. It will take 3-4 hours, and then he'll go to recovery so we won't see him until the early evening. He'll spend the first night in the ICU, but then they plan to move him to a regular room early to mid day Fri, and hopefully have him home by Mon. The arm and speech could be better right away - within hours or a week, or it could take a few months - no way to tell ahead of surgery. It's even possible, since they're mucking about in the motor strip of the brain, that the arm and speech could be worse for a while until the swelling goes down. Should that happen, they'll assess him and may send him to an acute inpatient rehab center for a short time until they feel like he can take care of himself.

So, please think of him tomorrow and keep him in your thoughts and prayers, send good karma, rub a rabbit's foot, whatever you can do to help him out. And as always, thank you so much for your support. It means so very much to him and to me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Monkey (or the baby formerly known as Peanut): 5 & 6 months

MonkeyBoy (as Grandpa calls him) turned 5 months in July but as you know, I've been distracted by the situation with my brother, so I'm late. So late in fact, that he turned 6 months yesterday so I seem to have missed out on the 5-month update. For posterity's sake, here's things that have happened in the last couple of months.

Big news: He learned to sit up! All by himself! The first week of August we were at my dad's and I had just finished feeding Monkey and had him on a pillow on my lap. Like I always do when he's done eating, I sat him up on my lap - normally he leans back against me, but this time he leaned forward and sort of sat there. I thought maybe the pillow was making it easy for him, so I plopped him on the floor and poof! There he was, sitting all by his lonesome. Luckily, I told Mr. Fantastic what I was doing first and so we captured it all on video. It was terribly exciting and exceedingly adorable.

He's getting better at sitting for longer periods - but sometimes he will get distracted and reach for something or just forget what he's doing and tip over, but we're working on it. Practice involves the use of many, many pillows as our hardwoods are not forgiving to tender little baby heads. Monkey is also thiiiis close to crawling, I think. He's doing this sort of army-crawl thing - only backwards - and when he sleeps, he sticks his butt in the air, which I've heard is a sign crawling is nigh. We've also started him using a sippy cup, trying to get him used to water and a new method of drinking. He took to it right away, although he makes a yuck face when he realizes it's just water in there. He's even drank from a straw which surprised me that he figured that one out on the first try.

Monkey has definitely found his voice and spends much of his time babbling away and also making "pbbbbbt" raspberry noises with requisite spit bubbles. LOTS of spit. Also there's this happy little "arooo" noise he does that comes with a super cute face. He continues to be the drooliest kid on the planet, despite the fact that I don't think any more teeth are coming for a while. He has his two front bottom teeth and they say the top two are next but so far they don't look like they're coming anytime soon. He chews on his hands a lot and has now discovered his feet in earnest. It's really hard to change a diaper when he's got his foot in his mouth. Babies are bendy! Plus, if it's not his foot or hand in his mouth, it's whatever is within grabbing distance. They say babies use their mouths to explore the world, and boy does this one! He still won't take a binky with any regularity though - there was a brief week or two when he started taking one so we rushed out and bought some more, but he's back to not liking them. And he does a thing where he doesn't so much suck his thumb as chew on it, with it stuck way back where his molars will be.


We also have just started him on solids. My cousin Heidi and I did a day of baby food-making for our boys - steaming & pureeing a bunch of fruits and veggies and then freezing in ice cube trays. So far the jury is still out for the most part. We have tried peaches, pears, banana, avocado, sweet potato and rice cereal. Mostly everything gets spit back out although he does seem partial to the pears and might actually be swallowing some of that. Until he's 1, solids are mostly for fun and learning new textures and tastes, not for nutrition. Which is a good thing because some of the yuck faces he made while eating were hysterical. We did a video of the first time and at one point, he gave me this big smile, so of course I stuck some food in there and the speed at which he went from smiley to yuck face is hilarious. He looked so betrayed. Evil, evil Mommy, where is the boobie juice?

So, it turns out Monkey is a boob snob. We thought it might be a good idea to try and introduce some formula in case I'm unable to pump enough boobie juice for times when I have to be away. Unfortunately, in a disastrous trial by fire, Mr. Fantastic learned that formula is NO GO. He wound up having to drive home from his mom's with a hungry, crying baby so I could feed him. He called me from the car and put me on speaker phone so I could talk to Peanut, which would calm him down momentarily until he figured out that I was not actually present and the yumyums were not forthcoming. Poor Mr. F. That was a rough one for him. We are going to try some other formula brands and maybe work on getting him to take a little each day so he'll get used to it. The majority of the time he'll still have breastmilk, but we'd like to have the option just in case.

We had his 6-month checkup and shots yesterday, including flu shots for all three of us. As always, he cried for a minute or two and Mommy cried for ten. The doctor (Dr. Sarah this time) said he looks great - good strength and control, and she commented on how resourceful he is when she put the eye/ear scope thingy down on the exam table and he wanted it but couldn't reach it. So after a few tries of reaching for it, instead he started pulling the paper table cover towards himself until the scopey thing was close enough to grab. Smart boy!

This month he weighs 17 lbs, 5.5 oz and is 27 3/8" long, putting him in the 50th percentile for weight and 80th for height. Funny, I keep thinking he's gotten quite thick - in fact, I've taken to calling him Chunky Monkey - but people still comment on how skinny he is! Also, we get asked a lot if he's a boy or girl (despite the fact that he wears a lot of blue and baseball hats). This is because although I call him the Cutest Baby in the World, a more accurate word is pretty. He has ridiculously long eyelashes and big blue eyes and this little tuft of blond hair that sticks up in the middle of his head.

Aside from being beautiful and intelligent, Peanut is still the happiest baby I've ever met. He is so content, so happy to just sit and play or be held. He hardly ever cries except when he's hungry. He takes to strangers easily - so far has no fear of being held by someone he just met. He smiles and laughs all the time, especially when he sees Mommy or Daddy. I cannot tell you how much joy it brings us when he just lights up at us. I hope he has some idea just how much we love him and how much our lives have been enriched with his presence. I think having a child my own has finally given me an understanding of just how much my parents loved me.

So, all is well in Peanut Land and I will hopefully be back on track for next month's update. Stay tuned for such newsworthy evens as Peanut tries Peas! and Bathtime for Monkey: Is it time for the big tub yet?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Brother update

So, as I previously mentioned, I'm long overdue for a 5-month Peanut post, but things have been a little crazy these last two weeks. My brother was back in the hospital for a week - we just brought him home on Monday afternoon and had to bring him back in yesterday.

Steve called me the morning of Tuesday the 4th because he was having what he thought was a stroke. His right arm and hand had stopped working and he couldn't feel them and he was having trouble speaking and finding words. We had a very disjointed conversation because we were both panicked and he was unable to tell me what was wrong. Through a combo of me playing twenty questions and him telling me as much as he could, we determined that he wasn't bleeding and could breathe but couldn't use his hand, didn't want an ambulance but wanted us to come get him and take him to the ER. I have never heard him sound so scared and that in turn scared me. I hung up with him long enough to get Mr. Fantastic and we loaded Peanut up and raced over.

I called Steve back as soon as we were on the road because I was imagining him sitting all alone in his car, not being able to do anything and being scared and so I wanted him to know I was there, that we were coming as fast as we could. Since he still was having trouble talking, I just told him where we were and played more twenty questions. It was weird, he could understand me and knew what he wanted to say but certain words just wouldn't come out. Like I asked him what floor of the parking garage he was on and he couldn't tell me. He could say, "I'm on..." but couldn't get out the word "three" even though he was staring at the big number 3 on the wall.

We got him to the ER and there was more twenty questions as he and I tried to explain what had happened and tell them about his medical history. They took him off pretty quickly for an MRI, and when he got back we had another scare. They wheeled him back into the little curtained area where he'd been and I'd been waiting. As the nurse was fiddling with the various monitors and tubes and things, I was asking Steve how it went and he started having a twitch on his right cheek. Then he started sticking his tongue out and I asked him why he was doing that and suddenly he started having a full-body seizure. It was awful to watch and to just have to call for help and not be able to do anything. It didn't last long and they quickly gave him some anti-seizure meds.

That was the only seizure he had, but his right hand was still not working. He spent a few days in the ICU, then got moved to a regular room where he had visits with physical therapy and occupational therapy. He had several scans and basically the brain doc said it was a metastatic brain lesion that burst and the bleeding into the brain causes swelling and pressure, which in turn causes the stroke-like symptoms. Apparently, given time, if the bleeding can be stopped the brain will reabsorb the fluid and that should relieve the symptoms. They keep assuring us that use of his hand will come back eventually if the swelling and pressure go away.

I was not comfortable with this "wait and see" approach, but we're told it's better to give the brain a chance to heal itself as opposed to going in surgically to drain it with a shunt or something. So they ended up sending him home on Monday with medication for seizure and blood pressure and appointments for more OT and scans. Through it all, Steve was basically feeling fine - no headache or pain of any kind and all the doctors were amazed at how well he presented despite what was going on in his head.

He was home all week and basically doing ok. We did some grocery shopping for him but he has been mostly self-sufficient even with the right hand still not working. He can move it and grip loosely, like to hold a highlighter, but not squeeze tight enough to open a factory-sealed jar. The OT told him to keep using it for everything he could, even if it means taking longer and making more of a mess than with the left.

We thought things were going well since he's been feeling and doing fine, and then yesterday he was on the phone with a friend and started having trouble finding words again. They hung up and he called me. I know how much he hates being in the hospital but I told him I thought we had to go back to the ER, since it was Saturday and I didn't think there was any alternative.

They admitted him to the ICU again and kept him there overnight last night. They did another scan and there's some discussion on whether it's bleeding in a new area or more bleeding from the same area or what. They are moving him back up to a regular room again today and the brain doc will by to see him tomorrow and make some decisions. I'm still uncomfortable with the waiting-and-seeing but I'm trying to keep in mind that it's supposed to be better for him in the long run.

They have him on steroids this time, which is supposed to help the swelling and I think it may be having some effect. He says it feels like his right hand is working a little better - not major improvement but enough to make him hopeful. So, we'll know more tomorrow but they've said he could possibly even go home again as early as tomorrow.

This whole thing has been incredibly scary - I thought more than once, "Is this it? Is this when we lose him?" I try not to have the mindset that we're going to lose him to this cancer but sometimes it's so hard to push that fear back. For all that it was terrifying, he seems to be just fine now (with the exception of his right hand, of course.) I don't know what to make of it. I mean, a bleed in your brain can't be good but nobody seems to be in a big rush to do anything. Is it because it's a lost cause and they just aren't saying it? Or is it really as simple as they say? It's his brain. But sometimes these things can be deceptive.

So, I'm trying to keep my spirits up (and his) and would dearly love your good thoughts, wishes and karma to help him.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pants! (in the good way)

I have, right now, comfortably on my person, a brand-spanking-new pair of a size 10. Please join me in celebration!

This means it is entirely possible that in my adult lifetime, my pants size might actually become one digit. It boggles the mind.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Health care reform is a joke. Here's proof!

My dad sent me this email today:

The American Medical Association has weighed in on the new health care plan being developed by the Obama Team.

The Allergists voted to scratch it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.

The Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.

The Obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception.

Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted.

Pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body!" while the Pediatricians said, 'Oh, Grow up!'

The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it.

Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.

The Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter."

The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea.

The Anesthesiologists thought the idea was a gas, and the Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.

In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the assholes in Washington.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Is there a word that means "bigger than a poosplosion?"


I'm writing this naked because my clothes are covered in baby poo. If you don't want to know more than that, stop reading now.

As the parent of a nearly five month old child (!!), I am no stranger to the various bodily fluids that come with the territory. I have, at times in the last five months, had various parts of my body covered in drool, spit up, pee, poo and breast milk. Sometimes all at once. We have had our share of barfs and poosplosions and diaper blowouts that require changing baby's clothes, maybe a ghetto bath with a washcloth, sometimes even requiring an actual bath if it's 'splosion-y enough.

Look, the point is, I am not afraid of a little poo or what-have-you. I have determined that once you become a parent, your acceptable level of tolerance for having any or all of the baby-associated bodily fluids on your clothes or person increases greatly. Look at all the parents walking around covered in spit up. You become resistant to the disgustingness of things. Either that or you're so sleep deprived that you just don't notice.

Despite my increased tolerance for baby poo (hee! it's funny when baby poops on daddy's hand!), today's poosplosion and subsequent blowout was masterfully horrifying. I got done feeding my little Monkey and was holding him sweetly on my lap, still sitting on the boppy, as I talked on the phone with my dad.

It started innocently enough. There were the usual poo noises he makes after a feed and I thought nothing of it, planning to let him finish the job and then change him. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then I started to notice that the places where he was pressed against me seemed a little sweatier than usual, so I leaned him forward to check his diaper, just in case - and - AND. OMG. POO. EVERYWHERE. This was like the silent assassin A-bomb of poosplosions. All up and down his back, all over my shirt and pants, all over the boppy.

I gasped mid-sentence, got off the phone with my dad and then hollered for Mr. Fantastic because this was a job for two people, at least one of whom was not screeching in horror. Mr. F took Monkey - he had to hold him by one arm and one leg to avoid getting pooed - and I ran to strip off in the bathtub, only to discover that my bra and underwear had also been 'sploded. I can't believe the amount of poo that escaped that little body. Thank heavens for Mr. F who got the boy cleaned up and dressed in new clothes while I was hopping around going "ewww" and trying to wash poo off everything at the same time.

This is why they make babies so cute. See?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Breaking News

I officially now weigh less than my driver's license says I do. *\o/*

Monday, July 6, 2009

Peanut: Four months!

Peanut - four months already! So it turns out, we're not really calling him "Peanut" all that much anymore. He has lots of nicknames - most often I call him Monkey. I have no idea where that came from, although he does have these big ears that kind of stick out, so maybe it was subconscious. And he gets called PreciousPreciousPants by the both of us a lot, with the occasional Captain FussyPants thrown in as needed. Also, there's Noodle and Doodlebug, and I seem to call him ____-y Bear all the time, inserting whatever adjective fits at the moment, such as Sleepy Bear, Hungry Bear, etc. This has somehow morphed into Monkey Bear oftentimes which I'm sure when he gets older will be confusing. Also, he gets from Daddy a lot Fletch-y Poo. And to round it out, I seem to be calling him Buddy a lot when we're (I'm) having a conversation. So, lots of names, but strangely, not usually the one we started with.

All is well, although we have discovered that it turns out Mom really does know best. See, since about the time he was three months-ish, Fletcher has been excessively drooly, fussier than usual - especially at night, and had green poo. If you read as many baby books as I do, you would know that these are all classic signs of teething. The books say average age for first teeth is around 6-7 months but it can happen as early as 3 and as late as 12. So I was thinking maybe he was teething but couldn't believe it was happening this early.

Fletch had a cold a couple-three weeks ago and while we were at the doctor for this, we had to see a different doc than our usual Dr. Matt. So I asked Dr. NewGuy about Fletch possibly teething already and he totally dismissed it, like "No. No chance. Waaay to early."

So of course you know where this is going...about five seconds after that doctor visit, Fletcher's first tooth broke through. I know! My little baby, all grown up. :) It's the bottom right front tooth and from the looks of things, the left one is close behind. And let me tell you, that sucker is SHARP. I am trying to figure out what we can give him to gnaw on to dull the thing down a bit.

As you may recall, some time ago Fletch randomly decided he doesn't like the binky anymore. This means that when I'm not boobing him, if he wants to suck on something he gets one of our fingers. The other day Mr. Fantastic and I were talking and right around the time Fletcher's tooth was cutting, we both thought we had paper cuts on our finger because it would sting whenever we stuck it in his mouth. Turns out it was the brand new little tooth! Ah, if only we had each complained about our respective paper cuts sooner.

Now that the tooth has fully broken through, you're taking your chances putting a finger in Fletch's mouth. Kid has a powerful bite and it hurts like the dickens if he gets a good chomp on you. Naturally, I am very concerned with how this affects breastfeeding. Turns out, since it's the bottom teeth, as long as he's latched right his tongue will cover the teeth and it shouldn't hurt me at all. It's when the top teeth come in that I'm going to have to worry. I can only hope that won't be until he's a bit older so he will be more "trainable" and I can teach him not to bite Mommy. Yikes.

Let's see...we had our 4 month checkup and shots on the 29th. Everything went well. He was a champ with the shots again and again, I cried more than he did. Same process as before, Mr. F helped hold him and two nurses gave him two simultaneous shots each. Then Mr. F cuddled him and gave him a bottle with a little sugar water (maybe 1/2 oz.) and all was right with the world. As before, he didn't seem to have any lingering effects, although he was hot that night, which I'm not sure was a fever from the shots that they told us we could expect or if it was just because of the heat. Either way, he was fine the next day.

Peanut's growing like a champ. At the 2 month checkup he was 24 inches and just shy of 10 lbs with head circumference of 15 inches. This time he was 13 lbs 13.5 oz, 25.5 inches and 16 inches head. Last time he was in the 15th percentile for weight and the 85th for height, now it's 25th for weight and 75th for height. So while he's still considered tall and skinny, he's much more roly-poly and chubby-baby looking. And of course, still the cutest baby ever. :)

He's made good progress in the rolling over department and although he hasn't quite mastered the straight front-to-back, he is quite good at the multiple roll and pushing himself off things. What that means is that I'll put him on the play mat, turn around for a millisecond, and when I turn back he is three feet away and sideways from where he was. I can see this becoming troublesome in the very near future. He's super strong - holds himself up really well, will push all the way up on his arms when on his tummy with no head wobbling at all. He can almost sit up unassisted and when he's on his back, he will lift his head up and do like a half-crunch and hold it for ages just so he can look at his feet. (They appear to be very interesting feet!)

Peanut's also getting very vocal - lots of laughing and squealing, cooing, etc. He's getting LOUD too. We'll all be minding our own business and suddenly out of nowhere Peanut will start squealing and yowling to raise the roof. I've had to ask him to hold the ruckus down several times. And now we can't stop him smiling, especially when he sees Mommy or it's time to eat. This makes Daddy sad to be second fiddle, but what can we expect? It's Mommy that has the boobie juice.

Doc tells us we can start solids any time now but we would like to hold out until 6 months. There's no evidence that it will make him sleep longer at night (we are still feeding every 2-3 hours at night but sometimes up to 4 hours during the day) and he doesn't appear to be ready yet anyway - still has the tongue thrust thing where he pushes foreign things out of his mouth.

Peanut has some favorite things (besides Mommy, that is...). He still likes bathtime and doesn't mind riding in the car. In fact, riding in the car and going for walkies in the stroller are two surefire ways to put him to sleep. Mr. F has been on some nighttime strolls when Peanut doesn't want to go to sleep. Lots of times the little guy is asleep before Mr. F gets out of the building. Peanut received a gift of a brightly colored squeaky moose from Mr. F's Aunt Joan and he seems to be partial to Mr. Moosey, so we don't go anywhere without him. Peanut also like to clutch fabric in his hand and suck on it - does this a lot with his bibs, so we have taken to giving him these cute little burp cloths to hang on to instead and he seems to love them.

And we had another first this month - swimming! Well, not actually swimming but going to the pool. First we went to the pool in our building, then to Aunt Heidi's pool with cousin Brody, and finally to Water World for cousin Megan's 12th birthday. He doesn't know what to make of the water at first but I think he had fun. He especially seemed to like the wave pool at Water World.

I have uploaded lots of Peanut videos (fairly short - most under a minute long) at my YouTube channel if you want to see Peanut being cute and hear Mr. F and me being dorks. I think I might even be in one or two of them. And as always, for Peanut pictures, check out the Peanut Gallery, which I update regularly with new photos.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

And so it begins...

Last night was day one of the Twelve Days of My BirthdayTM. Went out with my cousins H1, H2, H3, T and G to one of my favorite restaurants, Cherry Creek Grill (where I had a glass of champagne, a grilled artichoke and my favorite salad. YUM!) It was a really lovely way to celebrate my birthday and I had such a good time just talking and laughing with them.

I missed Peanut horribly though, and H3 and I had a hard time not talking about our babies, but everyone assured us they'd just tell us to shut up when they got sick of it (which they never did, bless them.)

Today is my actual birthday, and Mr. Fantastic and Peanut have let me take a nice long nap. And when I woke up, there were beautiful roses and cards from both of them and Mr. F is in the kitchen right now baking me a cake! And he tells me that later we are going out to eat with my dad and Steve and I'm to put on my pretty dress but won't say where we're going just yet.

Tomorrow we have a family BBQ for the both of us at Mummy Fantastic's (Mr. F's birthday is on Wednesday) so I am looking forward to that too.

By now you all know just how much I love to have a big deal made out of my birthday, so this one is already shaping up wonderfully. I love surprises!

Thanks to all of you who've already posted birthday wishes! ♥

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fletcher: 3 months, plus bonus HATSTRAVAGANZA

So. Three months. Apparently, the mantra for the rest of my life will be "Where does all the time go?"

Our little Peanut is doing great. He has his fussy moments, but for the most part, he is still a happy little guy. Lots of "talking" and smiles, squeals and laughs. He has excellent head/neck control, and so loves to be upright, whether in his bumbo chair or when we're wearing him in one of the carriers or sitting on a lap. He's also gotten good at grasping things, especially if you touch them to his fingers. His playmat/gym thingy has a monkey hanging from it and he spends a lot of time pulling on it. Because we are twelve, Mr. Fantastic and I giggle like loons when one of us says "Look, he's yanking the monkey!"

Fletcher has also gotten the hang of rolling over, although he doesn't do it a lot. He's pretty content to lie on his back, but he hates tummy time, so he's pretty good at flipping himself over to his back. He's much happier doing tummy time when we lay him on our own tummies. He also does the little mini-pushup thing and rests on his elbows.

Since he was born, when it's time for him to eat, we have always called it "Yum-yums." As in, "Time for yum-yums, baby!" And he may not recognize his own name yet, but he sure as heck knows what yum-yums is. He can be fussy or crying or whatever, and we'll say "time for yum-yums!" and he will stop whatever he is doing and lift his eyebrows and look around for mommy. And then he'll open his mouth when Mr. F brings him to me. The downside to this is that if we accidentally say "yum-yums" and the yum-yums are not forthcoming in the next minute, we move immediately to Defcon 5. You can bet we didn't slip up often once we learned that. Also, "boob" has become a verb. As in, "Well, lets go for a walk now so I can boob him at 3."

Sometime in this last month Fletch suddenly decided he doesn't like his binky (the pacifier) anymore. I know there are whole books written on this subject and many, many people who feel babies should never use a binky. But when the other alternative is your boob, it sure would be nice to have the binky sub in. Luckily, he seems to find a pinky an acceptable substitute, so at least Mr. F can take over.

While he's pretty great at sitting up in his bumbo chair, he's not real good at sitting on his own yet.

Still a little top heavy.

Success! And a little bit of a smile.

Peanut, being the sartorial genius he is, has a lot of hats. Many of which he doesn't get the opportunity to wear that often, especially now that the weather's nice, so I decided to take pictures of Peanut in his hats for posterity. I have to say, he tolerated the pictures for hatstravaganza extremely well. Mr. F would like you to know this is his favorite bib in these pictures. It's a polar bear!

The bee hive hat. How cute is this? That's a little row of bee buttons going up the front.

His other baseball hat, which is a bit bigger than the one he usually wears. But which is nonetheless darling.

Ride 'em cowboy! He is clearly thinking, "Look, lady, I'll wear the hat. But don't you dare put me anywhere near a horse."

Winter cap with a dinosaur on it. "I have just seen the pile of hats you have over there..."

An absolutely adorable hat my friend Erin knitted him. I wish he could wear this hat every day. "OMG, what is sprouting from my head?"

"Hmm...actually, this is quite fetching. I can see why the bringer of the boobie juice likes it."

Traditional baby bonnet. He'll probably wear this a lot this summer since it's so light even though it looks pretty old fashioned. "Lady, what year do you think this is? Bring back the ball cap."

Another winter hat that I adore. "Ah! The fetching sprouty one in blue. Very nice."

Reversible summer hat. "How YOU doin'?"

"Good lord, I have just seen the inside of this hat!"

And this hat, which he has worn only for this picture and probably never will again. It's one of those painter-style caps with flaps in the back, very reminiscent of the 80s. It reminds me of Russ from European Vacation. Probably not the look we're going for this summer. "Duuude."

So that's it from the world of Peanut for this month.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fletcher: Two months (and a bit)

Ok, more like ten weeks, but who's counting? Either way, it's still hard to believe my little guy is already two and a half months old. I have to ask again, where does the time go?

Fletch is grand and growing like a weed. He is a skinny boy, but I think that's mostly because he's long (tall?) and we just can't fatten him up fast enough to keep up. He is outgrowing clothes already (!!) but it's funny because they are clothes which he never filled out around the middle but which are too short. If they have feet on them, he can't straighten his legs but has room for an entire pillow to be stuffed around his tummy. It makes me sad though, to already have to set aside some of those teeny tiny outfits that I love so much. My favorite bear suit may only have one more wearing left. (Which I suppose is ok anyway, considering it's May now and he prolly doesn't need to be quite so bundled up!)

I got nervous for a while and tried to feed him extra, but to no avail. At his two-month doctor appointment Fletch was in the 15th percentile for weight and the 85th for height. Dr. Matt says not to worry and that he is likely just destined to be a tall, skinny kid. Who ever would have thought any child of mine would be both tall and thin? At his one month he was about 8 pounds, at the two month around 10, and I'd bet he's already at 11 by now. And 24 inches long! He's no longer my tiny burrito.

OMG, my whole life is going to be like this now, isn't it? One milestone after another and at some point I'm going to have to let him out of the house alone, aren't I?

People keep asking if he's sleeping through the night...I don't even know what that means anymore. The books classify it as a 5-6 hour stretch at night, which, NO, we are not doing. Sometimes we get a 4 hour stretch without having to feed him at night, but that's not often. He's still eating every 2 1/2 to 3 hours around the clock but it's gotten easier to live my life around that schedule. Plus I have gotten better at dozing/napping when I feed him at night, so in all I am feeling pretty well rested.

We also had Fletch's first round of vaccinations at his last appointment. He did a great job! I was all prepared for an unhappy baby the whole day, but he hardly even cried. Mr. Fantastic helped hold him while two nurses gave him simultaneous shots. He cried briefly but calmed down right away when they handed him back to me and I gave him a bottle with some sugar water. As a matter of fact, I cried harder and longer than he did! What a trooper.

Fletcher smiles all the time now - it's hard to catch it on camera still, but we did get a great video a few weeks ago.

As you can see, he continues to be the Cutest. Baby. Ever. More photographic evidence here. In addition to the smiling, he also laughs all the time - one of my favorite things ever is when I am feeding him, and he's all peaceful and sucking away with his eyes closed, and then he will pause - eyes still closed - and start laughing around his mouth full of boob. I wonder what's going through his little baby head to make him laugh so. I would video it for you but again, it would require showing you more of my clown porn boobs than I'd like.

He's also started "talking" in earnest. When we get up in the morning, he's particularly chatty and we have long conversations that involve him laughing like a fiend as I repeat his gurgles back to him. Also, he has inherited my laugh-snort. It is spectacularly adorable.

Peanut: Grr?
Me: Grr!
Peanut: heeheehee!...Ghee?
Me: Ghee!
Peanut: heeheeheeSNORT!
Me: *heart melts*

We had a lovely Mother's Day and I got a gift certificate for a mani/pedi at my favorite place from Fletch (he had a little help from Daddy picking it out.)

Being a mom is the best thing I've ever done in my life. Here are some reasons why:

Monday, April 27, 2009

So I forgot to tell you that my brother is home from the hospital and doing great. We actually got to bring him home last Friday (the 17th) - can you imagine, having brain surgery on a Monday and going home by Friday? Last time he was in the hospital for almost two weeks and on the ventilator for like five days.

The nurses told him that it was not being on the vent that made such a difference. Apparently, the ventilator really takes a toll on your body and you get really weak. The difference in him between last time and this time is astounding. He felt so good when he got home, in fact, that he decided to start his next round of chemo right away, so he went in on the 21st for that. I couldn't be more thrilled with his progress, and he is in such better spirits this time around as well, which I think can only do good things for his recovery. So keep your fingers crossed that things keep going well!


Sadly, it has already been two months and my maternity leave is over. I started back to work today, but luckily I have sneakily been checking my inbox during my leave and deleting stuff that I don't need to take care of. So the potentially scary inbox situation was luckily under control. Plus, the cool thing my company does is give you a "transition week" your first week back, where you only work half time but get paid for the full week. Peanut and I have somewhat settled into a routine and I am sad to have to chage it. Hopefully we'll be able to fit work into our busy schedule of eating, sleeping and pooing.

Speaking of eating, sleeping and pooing...I haven't been doing much of any of them lately. This unfortunately landed me in the ER again last night with that same stomach pain/gallbladder thing that I had back in August. Since we are now getting it down to an art form, some pain meds and a couple hours of IV fluids to rehydrate me, and I was good as new. I think what we are learning from this is that I really have got to look after my diet better. And apparently, since I'm breastfeeding, I need to drink sixteen glasses of water a day as opposed to the usually recommended eight. Unfortunately, it hit me at about 1 a.m. and so we didn't get home until almost 5. And Peanut, while he was so good at the hospital, was fussy as soon as we got home and didn't really let us get much in the way of sleep. Very glad I didn't have to do a lot at work today because I was pretty useless until after noon.

That's pretty much it for me...Peanut is two months old now - where did the time go? I'll post more about his second month later, but in the mean time, let me leave you with this picture.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Surgery success!

Thanks to all of you who sent you wishes and good karma our way. Steve's surgery went great. And even better, they took him off the ventilator before he woke up and aren't keeping him sedated for several days like last time. Major improvement over the previous surgery! I know the vent was one of the things Steve was dreading - last time he was conscious for a few days while on the vent and it was absolutely horrible for him. Although it does your breathing for you, it made him feel like he couldn't breathe and so he was constantly fighting it. It was awful to see him like that, so that makes it easier on his loved ones also.

So, he is already awake and alert and feeling good (obvious headache notwithstanding) and in much better spirits. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that the rest of his recovery goes just as smoothly.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Steve - surgery

Steve is having his second brain surgery tomorrow. We're picking him up at 5:30 to go to the hospital for check in and an MRI and then surgery is scheduled for 8 a.m. They expect to be done around 1 p.m. The tumor is basically in the same place as last time, so this should be pretty similar. They'll likely keep him sedated and asleep for several days while he's on the ventilator and hopefully we won't have any of the same complications as before.

Please keep him in your thoughts tomorrow and send us any spare good karma!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Maybe the Grumpy Face was better.

So we finally were able to snap a picture of Peanut without his usual Grumpy Face. The result:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fletcher: One Month

I can't believe it's already been a whole month. I've been somebody's actual mother for a month! What an amazing adventure it's been. I have no idea what we did with all our time before we had a baby but every minute spent with him is an absolute joy. Yes, even the times when he's crying (which, so far, is thankfully not all that often). I've posted some more pictures in the Peanut Gallery so you can continue to see that he is indeed the cutest baby ever.

Our little Peanut is growing so fast - already over 8 lbs, which is great because he lost quite a bit of weight right after he was born and got down to 6 pounds something in the hospital. We are breastfeeding and have been on a schedule of about every three hours, but recently he's been wanting to eat as often as every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The non-scary books say this is probably a growth spurt.

Breastfeeding is an adventure of its own. It took some doing to get started - as part of the larger birth story that I will someday relate, let me just say that I got very dehydrated in the hospital and that caused my milk to be sluggish which in turn caused the baby to lose a lot of weight and enormous frustration for both of us - but we seem to have gotten the hang of it. My Boppy pillow is fabulous and Mr. Fantastic and I seem to have learned Fletcher's hungry cues. This is useful because if we wait too long, our happy little baby will go from precious snuffling and lip smacking to wailing Defcon 5 BOOB BOOB MUST HAVE BOOB NOW in the blink of an eye.

There is nothing like hearing your baby cry from hunger to make you feel like a giant flaming failure as a parent. A week or two ago, I was driving him home from my mother-in-law's close to feeding time and he made the transition to Defcon 5 on the way. It was the most horrible, awful feeling, driving with Fletch wailing in the back seat, knowing that I'd be home in 15 minutes and would be able to feed him then but that he was hungry NOW and I couldn't do anything about it. He started crying and then I started crying and trying to reach into the back seat to comfort him...ugh, it was awful. And I felt so horrible, like he was going to hold it against me or think I was starving him on purpose. Of course I know that he won't even remember, let alone think the world is a terrible place where his mother abandoned him to STARVE TO DEATH, but it's hard not to feel that way in the face of your baby's pitiful cries.

He cried himself out and fell asleep after less than ten minutes, but it was the longest ten minutes of my life. And when I got him out of the back seat, I discovered that he'd cried so hard his hat fell off and I felt horrible all over again. Thankfully, we are mostly on top of keeping him fed, so we don't have a lot of Defcon 5 moments. I do still pretty much cry every time he cries and we can't fix it despite the fact that I know sometimes babies just cry and it's no reflection on us.

So the breastfeeding is going well, although I have started getting upper back aches from hauling around these enormous boobs. Seriously, I thought that at size 34 H, I was big before. Ha. Those boobs were a walk in the park compared to my boobs now. My boobs now are like giant porn star clown boobs. And yes, they are WAY bigger than Peanut's whole head. I don't know how he isn't scared of them, but instead, they are his most favorite place in the world. When he's eating and it's time to take him off the boob, he does this adorable little nom-nom-nom turtle mouth thing chasing after it and trying to get back on. I would video it for you but the video would also have to include a whole lot of my clown boob, which I am just not willing to share.

Mr. Fantastic is an awesome dad. He loves this kid so much I can't even tell you. Not that I expected any different, but I can't even explain how much it fills my heart to see them together. My heart goes all *meep-clench-eee* whenever Mr. F shows me our baby he's holding and says, "Isn't he the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?" I never knew I could love two people so much. My little family. ♥

Aside from being an awesome dad, Mr. F has also been an awesome hubby and unbelievable help to me. Breastfeeding really takes a lot out of you (or me, anyway - I am so tired and constantly eating, trying to keep up my energy and milk supply) so Mr. F basically does everything else. Makes me sandwiches, gets me drinks, helps clean up, does all the laundry, and so many other things, but especially, he is the Diaper King. Changes Peanut halfway through each feeding (which is like 8-10 times a day) and has become such an expert already that I call him Quick Draw. We both keep telling each other that we feel like the other is doing all the work. So far, I think we make a pretty good team.

We had bath time recently, which was a tag-team event and went extremely well - Peanut didn't cry once, despite some obvious dubiousness at the start.

Peanut has achieved several of the milestones the book says he should or may be able to do by now, including gaining some head/neck control, focusing on a face, following an object, making noises other than crying, smiling and bringing his hands together in front of him. Unfortunately, we can't seem to get a picture of him smiling - the camera seems to promote Grumpy Face.

We did, however, get a photo of him with his hands together and discovered that this makes him look uncannily like Mr. Burns.

Mostly though, he's just about the cutest thing you ever saw. ♥♥♥

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mission Accomplished: The Peanut has landed!

Hooray! We finally welcomed Peanut to the world on Saturday, Feb 28 at 12:56 a.m., almost a whole week past the due date. Fletcher Steven Farley weighed 7 lbs 10 oz and is 21 inches long. And, incidentally, is the cutest baby ever. I have photographic evidence.

All of you who suggested my lower back ache was back labor were indeed correct. At some point, Peanut flipped himself face up (otherwise known as "sunny side up"), which puts lots of pressure on your lower back and tailbone and hurts like the dickens. There was some minor drama during delivery, which if I ever have the energy again, I will tell you more about, but all in all, everything turned out well and we are both doing great.

Will check in more as Peanut allows!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Still here...still pregnant

Week 41

Hi! Yep, still pregnant. Had a dr. appt. on Monday, regular visit plus we went ahead and did the membrane sweep. I will not lie, it sucked. Somewhat painful and pretty unpleasant. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to have done anything...usually if it's going to jumpstart labor, it will do so within 48 hours. So I guess me and Peanut are just not quite ready to part ways yet. Doesn't mean I'm not doing my best to evict him anyway!

I have been having lots of low back pain since then, and also what I think are contractions in my belly. But the stuff going on in front is nowhere near as painful as the low back pain, so I don't know what that really means. I was under the impression that if the baby is turned the right way (which Peanut supposedly is) then you don't have back labor, but that could be wishful thinking. The back pain usually goes away after a nice rub from Mr. F and the front pain tends to go away on its own. I'm guessing things are progressing and we are getting under way but I don't think we're too close yet. Who knows!

I'm scheduled for another appointment on Friday, where they'll do an ultrasound to check fluid levels, another NST and something called a biophysical profile, which I guess is part of the ultrasound.

They'll also want to talk about scheduling an induction, which they know I don't want to do but they don't like to let you go past 42 weeks. Today I am 40 weeks 3 days, so technically, I have until March 8 before I am 42 weeks. I'm sure they would like to schedule me the first week of March but I would like to put it off until the second. Steve has chemo the first week of March and I was sort of hoping not to be having the baby when he was feeling crappy. So if I could have the baby before the 3rd it would be great (hint hint, Peanut!), if not, then I'd like to wait until the 8th when Steve will hopefully be feeling better after the chemo.

These last few days practically everyone I know has called or texted me (some of them multiple times) to see if I've had the baby (and possibly forgotten to let them know!) and I feel so bad when I have to tell them I have nothing to report yet. My doctor told me at the very beginning not to tell anyone my actual due date because everyone would start coming out of the woodwork wanting to know if I'd had the baby yet, and she wasn't kidding! It's sweet that everyone is so excited, but I really do feel kind of bad saying, nope, no baby...and no idea when, either.

Also, I have been advised by both my sister-in-law and Mummy Fantastic that we need to be having sex to get Peanut going and I had to tell them both we've tried to no avail. Also thus far unsuccessful: walking, swimming, bouncing, nipple stimulation, pineapple, red raspberry leaf tea, evening primrose oil, chinese food, bribery, pleading, threats. I am considering acupuncture at this point! (which I have actually done before - obviously not to induce labor - but I found it very relaxing, so it might not be a bad idea.)

So! Keep your fingers crossed that Peanut will see his way to joining us in the real world in the near future. Will keep you posted as always!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dear Peanut:
Okay! Today is d-day. Or b-day, whatever. So really, ANY TIME now would be great. Especially if it means this back ache will go away. Plus, Mr. Fantastic says I can't be having you tomorrow because Tottenham v. Hull City is on. You know we wouldn't want Daddy to miss that. And you know, it would be totally awesome if you didn't make us wait until next week or anything. I'm just saying.

Dear Battlestar Galactica:
Yeah. Still watching but there're only 4 more episodes, so I might as well. But you continue to be mysterious and confusing and a whole lotta work for not much reward. Maybe we're just not right for each other...maybe I'm too old and unhip to understand your depths. Maybe some people like having to figure you out, but that's not me. I watch t.v. so I don't have to think.

Dear Stargate Atlantis:
Oh, I miss you. My Friday nights will never be the same. Yes, there are other things I can watch, but they're not like you. Those things will never replace you; they take too much work. You were easy to love, with your pretty and your splodey and your shiny stories that nobody ever needed to draw me any kind of chart to decipher.You will always have my heart.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster... Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

We found out yesterday that my brother's surgery is being postponed. The doctors have agreed they want to give the chemotherapy more time to work on the lung tumor, so instead of going ahead with the brain surgery, they are going to do at least one more round of the chemo instead. The next round is scheduled for the first week of March - they were originally scheduled to be every three weeks.

Steve is feeling much better physically and is in much better spirits with this news. I, of course, am having mixed feelings. On the one hand, I worry that we're not moving fast enough on the brain, or what exactly this means about the lung tumor. I have to keep reminding myself that they don't want to go in surgically to take care of the lung tumor because it can and usually will leave lots of bad cells roaming around in there. It's actually better and more effective to try and kill it all with the chemo instead.

But I'm also glad because putting off the surgery gives me some time to have this baby. Apart from hoping that Steve will not actually be in the hospital when I deliver, it's crossed both our minds that there's a possibility that he might not come out of the surgery okay or at all. He said to me last night that he's glad they're putting off the surgery so he'll have a chance to at least meet my baby. They've given us no reason right now to expect the worst, and it breaks my heart to even think about it, but I can't help it. I do worry about how much longer we'll have Steve with us. I want him to have as much time as possible with his nephew.

I'm doing my best not to stress and focus instead on Peanut. Of course, being 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant, this is its own source of stress. I am so ready to have this baby and he seems to be perfectly content to keep percolating. I'm due in 3 days, but it's average for first-time moms to go over past their due date by 7-10 days. So even though Mr. Fantastic is convinced that I'm having the baby ON Sunday, I am not expecting that to happen.

I had my checkup with Dr. O on Tuesday and there was no change from last time. She asked if I wanted her to sweep my membranes, which I didn't want to do yet, and also about getting an induction scheduled for once I hit 41 weeks, which I REALLY don't want to do. So I told her I'd consider doing the sweep for next appointment and we could talk about the induction then too. I'm actually scheduled for two appointments next week - Monday for my usual checkup and then Friday they'll do an ultrasound, another NST and a biophysical profile. All this is just to make sure things are still going okay in there.

I don't want to be pressured into interventions that I don't want to do, such as an induction or the membrane sweep. I am willing to wait until 42 weeks before we start interfering, whereas the doctors don't like to wait past 41 weeks. But Dr. O just happens to be on vacation again next week, so I am seeing two of her colleagues on Mon and Fri, which I think will make it easier for me to put off scheduling the induction. I may agree to the sweep, though. It only works about half the time and carries a risk of breaking your water (something I want to avoid as long as possible), but Mr. F and I have discussed and he thinks I should consider it. I'm still thinking about it. I am anxious to get the ball rolling, and the sweep, if it works, could help avoid induction, so it's worth considering.

In the mean time, I am doing all the "natural" things I can to help get things started - eating pineapple, drinking red raspberry leaf tea and some other things. None of it may actually work, but if it does, yay! Of course, will keep everyone posted as things progress on both the baby and the brother fronts.