Monday, March 31, 2008

CDH Awareness Day

I know I don't live in Massachussets, but I think if you read the proclamation below you'll realize the prevalence of CDH is rather high, and this is an effective way to spread the word about CDH and honor those who have been affected by it. Through Carole I came to learn about CDH, and I am so glad I did. Carole, this is for you and Joseph. . . Commonwealth of Massachusetts
A Proclamation
His Excellency Governor Deval L Patrick

Whereas
Often a life-threatening birth defect, congenital diaphragmatic hernia is an opening in the diaphragm that allows the abdominal organs to push into the chest cavity, causing the limitation of lung growth; and

Whereas According to Children's Hospital, a congenital diaphragmatic hernia occurs in every one in 2,500 births in the United States; and

Whereas Proactive diagnosis and appropriate management of fetuses with congenital diaphragmatic hernia minimizes the incidence of emergency situations, dramatically improving survival rates; and

Whereas Today provides the opportunity for families whose lives have been affected to celebrate life and to remember loved ones lost, to honor dedicated health professionals and to meet others and know they are not alone; and

Whereas Through public awareness, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts seeks to minimize the devastating effects of congenital diaphragmatic hernia among all Massachusetts citizens,
Now, Therefore, I, Deval L Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, do hereby proclaim March 31, 2008, to be


CONGENITAL DIAPHRAGMATIC HERNIA DAY

And urge all citizens of the Commonwealth to take cognizance of this event and participate fittingly in it's observance.

Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston, this twenty-fifth day of March, in the year two thousand and eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the two hundred and thirty first.


By His Excellency,
Deval L Patrick
Governor of the Commonwealth

William Franis Galvin
Secretary of the Commonwealth



God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Sunday, March 30, 2008

What a week!

First, let me begin with the news about Kiana. Her mass is pretty much gone with only a small, residual spot remaining. The doctor is confident it was an infection in her bone and contributed to the pain in her hind legs. She probably got some type of puncture wound (from a stick or something) that was too small for us to notice, causing it to become infected. The vet took her off her arthritis medication because her hips look better, too. We have to monitor her behavior over the next 2 weeks to determine if the pain was mainly caused by arthritis or the infection. If she begins to show signs of pain, we'll put her back on the medication. That was a huge answer to prayer and I thank God for teaching us the lessons we learned but also sparing her life (at this point).

Second, Paul made it safely to Iraq on Wednesday. He called my sister and has emailed a couple of times. She seems to be doing okay, but is dreading returning home to an empty apartment. I don't blame her! Kaylee is sick and has been fighting a cold since she arrived. Erin was going to leave today to get her in to the doctor but I convinced her to stay until tomorrow morning. I'm glad she's here and we've been able to spend some time together. The baby is adorable and has changed since I saw her 6 weeks ago. The most noticeable change is her weight gain. She eats as much as Ta did when he was a baby. My poor sister is constantly nursing, but she handles it well and doesn't seem to mind. The baby slept through the night for the first time while here, so Erin is hoping that will continue once she returns home. Kaylee is also smiling now, and it just melts my heart when I am able to make her smile. Ta and T.G. are both captivated by her and just love to hold her. I guess it's good preparation for when our new baby arrives in the fall.

We went to the zoo on Friday and had a great time. The weather was gorgeous (almost 80 degrees!) and the kids had a blast. The animals were active and fun to watch. The highlight were the bears playing together. The boys watched them for a good bit before I ushered them on to the next exhibit. It was so cute to watch them wrestling, and a good visual reminder of their strength and power. They were both up on hind legs fighting, one had the other's ear in it's mouth. I think I got a good picture of it but I'm not sure. My camera battery is dead so I'll have to post the pictures at a later date.

Busy week ahead as I finish up some assignments in preparation for the Wilds family camp this weekend and Ta's surgery next Monday. TJ's grandparents are traveling here from PA to join us at the camp, and the kids are very excited about it (as are we!). Until next time, have a great week!

~T.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Before I begin, let me just tell you that Th's favorite channel on television is Food Network. He especially loves to watch Ultimate Recipe Showdown, and every night before bed, he is allowed to watch it if he a) had a good day at home/school and b) took a nap.

I was up late last night for moral support for TJ. He has some Microsoft tests he has to take, and he took one yesterday and has another one scheduled on Friday. Anyway, he was up late working on homework and needed some computer help. He asked me for assistance, and I offered to stay up with him in case he ran into some more difficulty (it was with Excel, not anything to do with hardware). He said, and I quote, "You're the Excel expert." And I am because of my military training. Crazy, huh. I joined the A.F. to work on airplanes yet I left being an expert on Excel. It's because I created spreadsheets to track different aircraft tools and equipment more efficiently, and you know the saying, you learn by doing. Anyway, I'm way off point.

So, as I was saying, TJ and I were up until 12:30AM working on his homework. Lack of sleep left me with a major headache all day. Nothing helped: not Tylenol, not a 2 1/2 hour nap, not a hot bath, nothing. So I prepared and served dinner this evening. An easy meal, spaghetti and meatballs (frozen meatballs, I must add). Boil water, heat some sauce, dinner's done.

We sit down, pray, and begin to eat. Th says in his most serious voice ever, "The noodles are tender but the meatballs are overcooked." TJ about fell out of his chair laughing so hard. Me, on the other hand, put my fork down as I was still processing what I had just heard. I think my jaw hit my plate, too. TJ just smiled at me and said, "He's been watching too much Food Network. Now he thinks he's an expert!" I don't think the meatballs were overcooked, but a good laugh helped me to feel better and appreciate that at least Th is taking the time to taste his food. Who knows, maybe he'll grow up to be a food critic. I mean, he's already practicing, right?

*******************************************

On a serious note, Kiana returns to the vet in the morning for another x-ray to determine if her mass is gone. I pray that it is, and will update on her when I know something further.

Have a great day!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Erin and Family

My sis made it late last night with Kaylee. She (my sis) seems to be doing okay considering what she is facing. I spoke to her on Thursday and could tell she was very distraught and trying her best to keep it together, at least until after seeing her husband Paul off on Saturday. I called her about 3:30 yesterday to see where she was. She hadn't left yet. She was at the Marine base until about 1 with P. and was so emotionally drained she went home to nap before driving here. I can't say I blame her. . .

I had difficult sleeping Friday night. I kept thinking about her. I experienced a similar situation with Carole the days leading up to Joseph's birth. I really, honestly, with all my heart believe that times like that, the Holy Spirit is prompting me to pray. So I did. I just kept trying to put myself in my sister's place. The fear she must be facing, the uncertainty. She was telling me everything P. is going to be doing in Iraq, and I must say, he will be facing death every morning he wakes. I kept thinking that she probably has some regrets in how she treated him in the time leading up to his deployment (not that their fighting or anything, just the everyday stuff. You know how you get irritated or annoyed at daily stuff.) I kept praying that they would have time alone together that last night, that Kaylee would sleep well and allow them time to talk and bond and share.

He (Paul) won't be home until sometime between November and January. He will be missing out on Kaylee's first year of life. It's sad, but at least it's before she is really old enough to remember him and miss him. Plus, if E. has to be a "single mom" for a season, it's better to do it as a newborn/infant than as a toddler (in my opinion). The toddler years are difficult because of all the exploring, so hopefully E. can make an easy adjustment to this new way of life.

I am just glad she is here with us, and we are able to do things to keep her from being stuck in the house alone and depressed. We have a busy week planned, and as much as I get tired, I know it's important for Erin.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter

I am still brought to tears when I read the account of Christ’s crucifixion on the Cross. I am still brought to tears as I read the prayer for me, for all believers, He prayed before His betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 17:20-26). Yet, above all that, I am deeply saddened that so many people of this world do not know Christ as Savior. Even worse, in my opinion, are those who claim to be children of God yet the focus of their Resurrection Sunday (Easter) is on a rabbit, eggs, and baskets of candy. Why? What is the point? It was Christ who died for the sins of the world, not a rabbit.

In our family, we bake Easter cookies to provide a more concrete understanding of the importance of the empty tomb (see recipe below). We don’t do baskets, egg hunts, or candy unless they are given as a gift from a family member. My kids received “Easter” cards yesterday in the mail and Th said, “It’s not my birthday. Why did _____ send me a card with a bunny on it?” I smiled inside and thanked the Lord that my children, as much as possible, understand the true meaning and importance of Easter. Without Easter, there would be no eternal life through Christ. Without Easter, we would all face an eternity of suffering in Hell.

I urge you to read and meditate on the account of Christ’s crucifixion. It was bloody; it was painful; He prayed to not have to suffer (Luke 14:36), yet He willingly faced it knowing what was to happen and the ultimate outcome of salvation through belief in His sacrifice. That is love only God could provide!

Easter Story Cookies
To be made the evening before Easter

You need:
1c. whole pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 c. sugar
zipper baggie
wooden spoon
tape
Bible

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. (Read John 19:1-3.)

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. (Read John 19:28-30.)

Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. (Read John 10:10-11.)

Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. (Read Luke 23:27.)

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1c. sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. (Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.)

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. (Read Isa. 1:18 and John 3:1-3.)

Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. (Read Matt. 27:57-60.)

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.
Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. (Read Matt. 27:65-66.)

GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were sad when the tomb was sealed. (Read John 16:20 and 22.)

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! Explain that on the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. (Read Matt. 28:1-9)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm not complaining. . .

I'm applying what I've been learning from my bible study (I lead a bible study with some friends of mine). This week's topic: being thankful for ALL things, even the bad.

So, Th finally was well enough to return to school today after missing a week. However, I had Ta and T.G. at the doctor yesterday. T.G. has an ear infection so she was put back on oral antibiotics in addition to the antibiotic ear drops I am already giving her. Last night, I started with a sore throat and ear aches and Ta started with a fever.

I rushed him to the doc so a flu test could be given within the 48-hour time period. Guess what- it's not the flu. It's strep throat! Since T.G. is already on an antibiotic, I'm not too concerned about her. I am concerned for myself and Th since his immune system is still weak from just getting over the flu. I have a regularly-scheduled OB appointment in the morning so I'll just deal with the soreness until then.

All this with TJ out of town at Microsoft training this week- lovely timing!

Like I said, I am thankful everyone is sick now, at one time, so that we can get better together, and return to our "normal" lives next week. Also, we are going to the Wilds in a couple of weeks for family camp and I know the kids would be disappointed if they were sick while there. God's timing is perfect, and for that I am thankful! Just pray we all heal quickly. . .

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Update on the Kiddos

Well, Th's fever hit 102.5 yesterday afternoon. He did so well all morning, and when we went to pick up the other 2 from preschool, he was excited at the prospect of eating out for lunch. But, when we got to the restaurant, he had lost his appetite and just wanted to get home. He didn't eat 1 bite for lunch and napped for 3 hours. The good news- he hasn't had a fever since, and he only woke up twice last night coughing.

Ta and T.G. have their well-visits today so I am going to talk to my doc about Th. I am trying my best to keep him "resting" on the couch, but when he has good moments, it's very difficult. That's what happened yesterday. He felt fine in the morning and then crashed in the afternoon. Who knows what's going on with him! I called a friend of mine who used to be a pediatric nurse to solicit her opinion about his fever. She seems to think he has a strain of the flu virus, and I agree with her. There is no way his allergies alone are causing him to run a fever for this long and this high (granted, I know the fevers haven't been terribly high, but usually with allergies they are very low-grade).

Hopefully he's on the road to recovery and can get to school tomorrow, especially since there is no school Friday for Good Friday. His teacher called to check on him last night, which was so sweet and made him feel good. Just another reason I am sad to see him "graduate" and move on to kindergarten. . . he's been at this preschool for 4 years now, and we all love it!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sick kids

T.G. has an ear infection, but thankfully her tubes are working properly so the infection is draining. Th has been sick since last Wednesday. He woke up with a headache, but after some Tylenol, he was well enough to attend school. His teacher said he was fine while there, but when I got home after my afternoon class, he was burning up. He's been running a fever between 101 and 102 since. He has a terrible cough, and vomits from coughing so much. I had him at the doctor on Friday, and the doctor said it was a combination of allergies and a virus. I had never seen that particular doctor before, and I didn't really care for him.

I did what he advised and put him back on his allergy meds, and it's helped to loosen everything up, but he's still running a fever. I called the doctor back today and am still torn as to whether I will make him an appointment. Ta and T.G. have their well-visits in the morning, so I may just have my regular doctor take a look at Th while I'm there. The poor kid hasn't slept in over a week because of his cough, and he looks terrible. I am on spring break this week so I don't have to miss class to care for him, but I was hoping to accomplish some pretty major assignments to ease my school burden.

Hopefully he'll feel better by this weekend because my sister is coming with the baby and we are planning a trip to the zoo. . .

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Nausea

Being pregnant and sick has allowed me to lose at least 4 pounds this past week. Plus, I still don't really have much of an appetite, although I did "splurge" yesterday as we celebrated Ta's and TJ's birthdays.

Yesterday began with breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. I love this place, yet nausea limited me to only 1 donut and then regretting it the rest of the day (because I felt worse, not because of it being junk food!) I ate 1/2 a sandwich for lunch, and then we went to Red Lobster for dinner (TJ's choice- Ta's birthday dinner is Thursday night. We switched them because where Ta wants to go, kids eat free on Thursdays). Again, nausea limited me to 1 cheddar biscuit, 3/4 of my salad, 8 shrimp scampi, and 4 fries from Th's plate. I forced myself to eat birthday cake when we got home so I didn't hurt anyone's feelings, but I was stuffed.

Today, I had a small handful of pretzel sticks (the small ones), 1/2 of a sandwich, and a cup of tea. I'm just not hungry, and food doesn't even sound appealing to me.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll get some pictures posted of the birthday boys and a conversation between me and Th. Until then. . .

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Weekend Recap

I have survived my cold, although I seem to be regressing instead of progressing. I am back to blowing colored stuff rather than clear, and my chest is still really tight, especially at night. I'm still taking my antibiotic, but maybe I need a different one. Who knows!

Ta had his birthday party on Saturday and he was very excited because his friends from preschool came. Plus, he's been wanting this huge digger/excavator ride-on toy from Northern Tool & Equipment. He asked for it for Christmas but we substituted it with a 4-wheeler. It worked for a little while but then he was back to constantly talking about the digger. So, we bought it for him for his birthday and TJ put it together Friday night. He woke up to it on Saturday and had a blast!

I brought cookies to his preschool this morning (his choice) to celebrate his birthday today. He was the special helper of the day and got to pick from the "birthday box." He was very excited to have TJ and I there with him. His actual birthday isn't until tomorrow, so he's been telling everyone he wants donuts for breakfast and Backyard Burger for supper. It's funny to me that he wants donuts for breakfast because he really doesn't like sweet foods; he prefers salty foods. But, on Christmas Day, because we have family over for brunch, I don't like to feed them a heavy breakfast so we have donuts and sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. I think he just thinks that when it's your birthday, you have donuts for breakfast. It's fine by me, I just have to get some tonight so they'll be fresh for the morning.

Spring Break is next week and I'm excited. I have so much I hope to accomplish to get me ahead in school. However, TJ will be in a class out-of-town all next week, so I'll be alone with the kids. He'll be home at night, around bath time, but it's still a lot of work. He'll also have to leave around the time the kids wake in the morning. I don't really mind because I know he really wants to attend the training. It will definitely benefit his career and make him more marketable to potential employers, which benefits us as a family (more $).

That's about it. Just trying to make it through this week without getting sick all over again!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm Sick

I just got home from the doctor. . .

I have a nasty chest cold, but she's concerned because I'm running a fever. Bacterial infections this early in pregnancy can cause birth defects, so doctor's orders, I'm on bedrest for today. I feel horrible. My chest is so tight, it hurts to cough, I'm achy, my head hurts, and I'm freezing. Plus, morning sickness on top of everything else means I literally feel like death would be better than how I feel at this moment.

But, hopefully my antibiotic will kick in before bed tonight and I'll sleep good. Anyway, time to put this heavy laptop down so I can take a nap before TJ and the kids get home for lunch.

Have a great day!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Today Was a Bad Day

Kiana had a bad day today. She was doing so well; TJ had her out yesterday playing with her ball. Have I mentioned how much she loves her ball? It's a big, red ball, and she can barely fit it in her mouth. She has to open her mouth really wide to get it in there, and it's all scratchy and rough from her teeth marks, but she loves it! We've bought tons of tennis balls hoping to get her "hooked" on those, but she prefers the big, red ball and leaves the tennis balls for Jenna to unpeel and break apart.

Anyway, she was really playful yesterday morning and spent a good bit of the morning outside with TJ and the boys. I guess she overdid it because yesterday afternoon and all day today she's barely moved. Of course now I worry if the cancer is eating her alive (and I don't even know if it is cancer yet) so I make sure I give her plenty of hugs and kisses before I leave or go to bed at night; I don't know if she'll be alive when I see her next. I know that sounds really morbid, but that's how my mind works- pessimistic.

I guess I thought I'd have my "old" Kiana back based on how good she was doing late last week. I was only fooling myself by thinking if she stayed medicated, she'd be okay. That's not the case. Jenna is back to staying away from her, and Kiana is back to just lying on the couch. I am having a birthday party on Saturday for Ta and I don't know what to do about Kiana. I hate to have her locked up but I know some kids are scared of dogs. She used to bark and look really viscous, but now she barely musters up enough energy to raise her head off the pillow. Hopefully it will be nice outside for the party and we can keep her out there with us, just away from the people.

I just feel guilty for all the times I got frustrated with her for wanting to play ball with me; I’d give anything to have that Kiana back. I guess that’s the lesson one learns when a family member (yes, she is a family member) goes through something like this. I have realized all the ways I’ve taken her for granted, or treated her unkindly, etc. I also don’t think this is a lesson one can learn any other way. Let’s relate it to people. How many times have you heard, “Kiss your loved ones” and “Always say ‘I love you’” to those you hold dear? I know I have heard it several hundreds of times, yet I still get frustrated and angry and upset and hurt feelings and everything else that goes with being a human. Until I actually experienced this situation, the thought of losing a loved one (pets included) was pretty distant in my mind. Now, it’s pretty much on my mind all day long. Those who have lost really close family members or pets will understand what I mean. This is a lesson God teaches on an individual basis, not like some other lessons that we can learn from examples of what not to do. So, I am learning my lesson on being kind to others and wishing I had learned it earlier in life.