Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nate in a girl's bathing suit


Okay, so it's really Emma at exactly 5 months old, but I could have fooled you, huh? She's a bit chunkier than Mr. Nateman (showing that breastfeeding went well for at least one of my kiddos. HA!), but I declare if they don't look like they are related or something.
Nate...at exactly 5 months old:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A smile for your humpday


Monday, July 28, 2008

A bit of advice from the not-so-wise


Or as Confucius would say: "When you have bottle of leaky formula, best be not to put in same plastic bag as cellular telephone."

What? You haven't heard that famous quote from him? Well, obviously I hadn't either...that's why my cellular telephone is kaput. So...if you have tried calling or texting me (I'm up with the times, y'all) in the past few days, please know that I haven't been avoiding you. Or maybe I have. Depends on the person. Feel free to call me at home this week, and I'll answer if we are actually home. Or maybe I won't. Depends on the person.

I was reading the Bernstain Bears "Go to School" to the girls the other day and wouldn't you know that I broke down midway through and couldn't read anymore? Abby was all like "What, Mom?" And I was all like "I can't believe you will be in school in a year." And she was all like "Yeah, I'm a grown up girl. It's okay Mom. I'll come back home sometime." And I was all like "Wahhhhhhhhhhhh."

She talks about going to school every single day, and I think that she would start tomorrow in a heart beat if we let her. With her birthday in December, she'll be an old kindergartner, and I am just so glad that we have the next year together. The bright kiddo read her first sentence all by herself last week...something like "The fat pig sat in the mud." And her favorite game right now is for me to give her three-lettered words for her to sound out. I can't believe how big she is getting.

So as her friends start Pre-K this fall, Miss Abigail (and her side-kick Emmabear) will be participating in some homeschooling up in this hood. I ordered the phonics/numbers/crafts/whatever they usually do in Pre-K stuff a few months ago, and I plan to figure out some sort of schedule this week. Due to our August being plum full of doctor appointments for Nateman, we will be starting "school" the first week of September. I have to admit that I am excited but also a little apprehensive about how I am going to fit everything in around the PT and Dr. appts. We shall see, my dear Watson.

Soooooooo...............

Taking a little break this week from blogging. It is our last week of having really nothing planned (except for PT) before the madness of August begins. Nate has 2-3 appts/tests/pt every week in August. Therefore, I will use this week to (only writing this for my own bad self so I can reference it when I am walking around the house in a foggy stupor in a couple of days wondering what I had wanted to do this whole week):

*Get a new cellular telephone...and change my plan to include texting so I won't be charged out the ying-yang every month for each text.
*come up with a lesson plan for pre-K
*find my toothbrush (I think I left it at your house, Tara) or buy a new one before Jay realizes that I have been using his.
*finish reading two books...okay, at least get a few more pages deep in one of the books.
*edit pictures of the kids
*figure out a plan to get the kids to pick up their toys (HELP! ideas?)
*take all the size 12 month shorts out of Emma's drawer...poor itty-bitty child can still wear them, though they look a bit "painted-on" in her bodunkadunk region. Time to pass 'em on.
*put bricks on my chillen's heads to keep them from growing up on me and doing something crazy like starting school in a year. Wahhhhhhhhhhhh!
*Make sure all the marbles from the Hungry, Hungry Hippos game are off the floor...I've got a mover on my hands:

He's doing great! It is so wonderful to see him moving and rolling both ways now...he's not missing a step with his gross motor skills. He just started on his downward cycle, but so far he hasn't had any regression in skills this time around. He doesn't want to eat more than about 3 ounces a bottle and his heart monitor has started going off like crazy (8 separate times in the past 12 hours) and he seems to tire out faster, but he is still rolling and inching along to get toys. I love seeing it!! He just seems so strong right now.

Okay, so the plan is to post a picture a day on the blog for the next week and start to check off my to-do list. Have a great week everyone!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

5 months


I hold your head against my chest and rock you back and forth. Some days you like to lay so still against me and suck your thumb, and I treasure these moments. I stroke the hair on your head that is growing long enough to play with...I rub it over and over and wonder how you will look like when all of your hair comes in. I look down at your dark eyelashes batting up and down and you look up at me with eyes that are dark grey with a hint of green in them. I love your dark eyes...they are soft and kind. They say so much about you. You smile with your thumb still in your mouth and your eyes squint up from the outside in. I put my hand on the side of your face and give you a mini-squeeze while pulling you tighter against my chest.Your cheeks are so scrumptious that I have the urge to lean down and take a bite out of them. What we used to call your "chicken legs" have been covered with a nice layer of chubby rolls. I open your tiny fist and fit my finger in the palm of your hand as I count the little dimples that cover your knuckles. I love those pudgy hands. I do this each and every time I have the chance to rock you...I want to soak up as much of your babyhood as I can.
Sometimes I feel like we have been on this journey of your life for so long, and other times I feel like I just gave birth to you last week. How did 5 months pass by so quickly?This month will forever be known as the month of the heart monitor. You've adjusted to it quite well and don't seem to mind the belt fastened around your chest day in and day out. The girls and I do a little dance each time I unstrap you from the monitor and proclaim "You're free, Nathan! You're free!" It now feels strange to hold you without the belt protruding from your clothes during the rare occurrences when you don't have the monitor on. I look forward to the day when we can toss the thing back into the hands of the ones who gave it to us, but I am thankful for the information it has given us as you have worn it.You are strong, my son. Somedays I pick you up and am amazed at how solid you are finally starting to feel. Other days, not so much, but I pray that the "solid" days continue to increase in frequency. You are still gaining weight quite nicely...a Dr's appt a couple of days ago put you on the scale at 14lbs. 10oz.You love your sisters. Abby makes you laugh on a daily basis and you really don't seem to mind her getting right in your face every time she talks to you. You awarded her "in your face" antics by spitting up in her mouth this month. I gave you big high fives afterwards, and then tried my hardest to coax Abby into not throwing up. It still makes me laugh when I think back on that. Emma was highly traumatized by the incident and will always utter "Don't pit on me, Nate!" if you are anywhere in her vicinity.You spoiled me last week with sleeping through the night for 2 nights in a row...and then brought me back to reality when you started waking up 2-3 times a night again. What's up, little dude? You still sleep a lot during the day, taking 2 big naps that are usually 2-4 hours in length and then a little 30min nap in the late afternoon. I wonder if this is normal. In fact, we scrutinize every little thing you do and wonder if it is you just being a baby or a result of whatever seems to be wrong. I hate that we do that.You have the sweetest personality and disposition, but you also have a hot little temper that seems to erupt every evening after bath time while I am scurrying to snap your pajamas on the right snaps. Or if I am moving a little too slowly in making your bottle. Or if I have waited too long to put you down for bed. But that's about it...you are sweet and loving and smiley and willing to cuddle as much as your mama desires. Thank you for that, hun. I love those moments.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Utterings around our house this week


"Honey, get the crayons out of your underwear."

"For goodness sakes, stop poking your brother in his eye!"
"When you become a mommy, you can drink out of the milk jug too." Shameful, I tell ya. I never drink out of the jug (promise, honey!), but the one time I just wanted one little quick drink, I peeked around and saw 4 eyes staring back at me. Nice one."Just because you ask 'why?' doesn't mean that Mommy always knows the answer."

"No mom! Don't throw that barbie away. I know it's broken and I never play with it, but I promise to play with it for a few minutes today. Don't throw it away!" (Can you tell we did a deep clean of the playroom today?)
"P-U! What dat smell? Did you toot?" (clearly, working on manners is something I have on my to-do list...right after I successfully teach her that her underwear is not a place for storing things if you have no pockets.) "No, that's my soup." "Mmmmmm, I want some of your soup!"

"Abby, I luvs you. I luvs you so much." "Awwww, thanks Em. I love you too."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Will someone come clean my playroom?


Nate hasn't been sleeping well lately, and my mind is the first to go in my sleep-deprived state. Every post that I have started over the past couple of days has just ended up being a jumbled pile of mess, so all you get is a post of pictures today...oh, and a little update: Nate's EKG went well last week. The print out reads: consider left atrial abnormality, but otherwise normal. I haven't heard from anyone on the official read, but I am guessing that no news is good news, right? He had an echo when he was 2 weeks old, so I think that they would have found any structural abnormalities in his left atrium then.Also, some people have asked a few questions about his breathing issues. The thing is that Nate looks healthy as a horsefly fully clothed...you really wouldn't have any idea that anything at all was wrong until you took off his shirt. You see, his respiratory muscles seem to be the most affected on his body, causing him to breathe using his stomach muscles when he is awake. Instead of his chest expanding with each breath, his stomach expands...his chest does not move. This causes him to take more shallow breaths which is what is causing his rapid respiratory rates (try saying that three times fast) which is what could be causing his rapid heart rate. Still with me here? It's all a little confusing. An enigma...that's what the little guy is. Anyway, I have caught what it looks like from time to time as I am taking pictures of him, but I usually just delete those pictures...here are a couple that were on the camera this week: He's doing great though. He is gaining a lot of strength in all areas except his respiratory muscles, and it is just so wonderful to see him looking so strong. He's a sweetie...I wouldn't have said that last night as he was playing in his crib at 1:00am, but he truly is a sweetheart.

(Oh, and I couldn't come up with a title, so I wrote the first thing that popped into my head. Any takers?)

Friday, July 18, 2008

I love that she can't say her S's


I wake up each morning to her telling me "Mama, your breath thmells tinky." "Really? What does it smell like?" "It thmells like poo-poo." How's a little honesty to get you moving in the morning?

She routinely goes around the house pretending to burp and then saying in her loud squeeky voice, "ExTooooooooose Meeeeeeeeeeeee!"

She has a specific way she wants people to burp Nathan...your hand must always be flat as you hit against his back. If you ball it up into a fist, she immediately gives you her "I mean business" look and says "Don't knock on him!" Sometimes I do it just to pester her.

She refused to sing a lick (mixed metaphors anyone?) of anything until just recently, and now she walks around the house singing at the top of her lungs all day long. I love it! I love music in my house...especially music coming from cute little voices.

And I kind of sort of but not really feel a little bad for always posting videos of Emma all of the time, but she is just in that stage right now of pure cuteness. It doesn't last long, so I have to record it. And besides, the last video I took of Abby was her hula-hooping in her underwear while watching TV. And I think that only the creeps would want to see that one.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Therapy


"Madalyn, come here!" yelled Maria, Nate's therapist, as she positioned her voice towards the opened door of the "baby room" at our therapy place. Madalyn, Molly (both front office personnel) and another therapist poked their heads into our door to see my little man showing off his newest skill. He sat without anyone holding onto him as he braced himself with his arms stretched in front of him: a tripod stance."And look what else he can do now" Maria said as she moved Nathan onto his belly and positioned his arms stretched out all the way to where he was putting his weight on them. A round of clapping and "Way to go Nathan!" erupted from the onlookers, and I immediately felt a sense of triumph. His shoulders gave way under the pressure after a few seconds and he started kicking against his therapist's arm to try to get closer to the mirror and see the handsome little boy who stared back at him. He smiled and cooed at the reflection while everyone around him laughed and stood in awe."Can you believe what he is doing?" Maria asked as she glanced at the faces in the door. "He is so much stronger than he was even last week!" As she said this, the area around his mouth turned blue...an indication that he has had enough. Not being freaked out by his blue episodes anymore, we calmly turn him onto his back and praised him over and over for his incredible accomplishment. He smiled in satisfaction at the faces around him, and Madalyn picked him up after his color came back. "I need to hold my boy for a few minutes" she said as she took him back to the front office. It was time for the session to be over anyway. As she walked out of the doorway, I heard "Gosh! He even feels different than he did last week." It makes my heart happy to hear those things.Nathan is going through what we have labeled a "strength surge". Since his hospital stay when he was 2 weeks old that prompted the endless supply of tests and Dr. visits to try to figure him out, we have noticed a cycle in his development...a cycle of periods of strength and periods of weakness. The periods of strength are simply remarkable to watch. They usually last about a month long with a great surge for a couple of weeks in the middle. During this time, he eats incredibly well, is alert and very active, and he gains all kinds of skills and milestones. He still has moments of weakness during this time when he tires out, but his stamina and energy seems to last longer.His periods of weakness last about 2 weeks long. During this time, it takes so much out of him to eat, and he seems to only be able to consume about 3 ounces of formula at a sitting. He sleeps more than he should and just likes to snuggle on your chest when he is awake. His head lags a lot during this time, and he generally feels more floppy than usual. His periods of weakness are a scary and unsettling time for us, no matter how many times we see it.
I left Nathan's physical therapy yesterday with excitement and elation. He did so well! He has had a great week! His heart rate is so much better than last week, and he is alert and active and just alive.I didn't really know what to expect when Nathan was referred for physical therapy almost 4 months ago, but I definitely didn't expect what we are currently experiencing right now. I didn't expect for him to respond so well to the exercises. I didn't expect him to smile at everyone the moment we walked into the door for each session. I didn't expect for him to be passed around and hugged and kissed by so many that work there. I didn't expect for them to care about his well-being so much...to show sadness during the seasons of unsettling tests being run and show supreme elation when test results come back negative. I didn't expect for them to love my son, and I didn't expect to fall in love with them either. I am so thankful for the wonderful women who work with Nathan so closely over there. Tuesdays are a bright spot in our week because of them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To help me remember


I hear the pitter-patter of four little feet on the kitchen floor and peek at the alarm clock on the nightstand...6:50am. It's rare if they sleep past 7. Nathan slept through the night for the third time in his little life...I had forgotten how good it was to sleep 8 straight hours. My eyes still feel heavy. If I am really still, the girls will curl up on either side of me and suck their thumbs for a while. It should buy me at least 15 more minutes.I fall back asleep instantly as cold feet gravitate to my direction to warm up. Just as I had thought, the girls become restless exactly 15 minutes later. "Wake up Mom! The sun's up. Wake up." "Hmmmmmmmmmm." "Dood Mornin' Mama. Dood Mornin'." "Hmmmmmmm." After a little poking and prodding at my lifeless body, they pull out the big guns...manually opening my eyelids. I can't help but smile at the eruption of their belly laughs when I move my eyeball from side to side as they take turns opening my eyelids. I want to remember these times.

There are things the kids do everyday that prompt the same internal response: I want to remember these times.

Like when Emma strips down to her skivvies and slaps her buddha belly while singing, "I nakey, It's pouring, the old man is snoring..." Or when she tells others that "Daddy swims nakey" because he swims without a shirt on. Yeah, try to explain that one to his mom.I want to remember Abby teaching herself how to hula-hoop in a day...and really actually doing it. And the entourage of stuffed animals she takes with her absolutely wherever she goes: Sarah, Bella, Fuzzy, Beavery, Divey, and one that she adopted yesterday but is currently nameless because she thinks that every name I come up with is stupid, and vice-versa. And how cute she looks in her Daddy's over-sized t-shirts that she insists on wearing for pajamas almost every night.I want to remember the girls wanting to stay in the bath after the water has drained so they can "body-skate" on the slick, soapy bathtub floor. And how they play mama and baby and come up to me saying "Pretend that you have never seen my baby before" to which I have to act all surprised and giddy to see this little 2 year old sucking on a paci and saying "goo-goo gah-gah" all the time while her "pretend mother" beams with pride.

These are wonderful times. These are times I want to always remember.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My 2 favorite photos right now


They both are from a shoot I did a couple of weeks ago:
Monday is cleaning day. The girls make a royal disaster of the playroom every Monday while I clean the rest of the house. Nathan fusses all day on Mondays from the busy weekend, sending his heart monitor into overtime mode. We have gotten spoiled from the monitor only going off once or twice a day over the past 3 days. I think he made up for it today. He goes for an EKG on Wednesday. I received the orders for his MRI in the mail today: pre-op is on August 13th. He has to undergo pre-op since he will be put under anesthesia. The MRI will be August 14th, and they will be looking specifically at his head, cervical spine, lumbar spine, and thoracic spine...whatever that means. I would like to know what exactly they are looking for, but I forgot to ask the nurse when I talked to her last week. He should be under for about an hour, from what she said.

Now I must return to my regularly scheduled program...that would be folding the 4 baskets of laundry that piled up from last week. And changing the diapers of the puppies that Abby and Emma are pretending to take to the doctor. "They are having problems with their breathing, so we have to take them to the doctor a lot" Abby tells me as I fasten the velcro on the newborn-sized diaper for her puppy. They play this game a lot.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

An unloading of my thoughts


I see a cute little blonde-headed boy about 3 years old, barefoot, stepped up next to a black tee with a baseball on it. His hands are wrapped around a little aluminum bat, and over his tiny hands are his father's stronger hands directing the swing of the bat to precisely meet the ball. A giggle erupts as the toddler drops the bat and runs in a circle ahead of the tee. An imaginary baseball field. I know the scene all too well from the reflections of my childhood. He stops mid-stride to smile and wave at me as I jog by. I wave back.

Will I be able to see this same scene with father and son in my front yard in a few years? Will Nathan be able to swing a bat with his father's hands guiding him? Will he run around imaginary bases? I think so. But I don't know.

Ahead of me, an unsteady little 1 year old boy wobbles from one foot to the other. Each step brings a smile to his face and worry to his grandfather's who is walking behind him with arms out-stretched to catch the wee one lest he should fall. From the memories of my girls at around this age, I see that lad is learning to walk. His wide, unsteady gait is unmistakable. He is oblivious to me coming in his direction but centered solely on the concentration required for such a monumental task. His grandfather gives an uneasy chuckle and mini-wave as I jog by. I smile and wave back, but my heart is heavy.

Will Nathan walk these same unsteady steps in a few months? Will we cheer him on as he walks between us as we have done twice before with our girls? Will he smile that same mischievous smile of freedom that every toddler smiles when experiencing this newfound skill? I think so. But I don't know.

The questions are familiar in my head. They are the same questions I have been wondering about since I was pregnant with him and knew that there could be problems. Will he be able to...? I have plans and aspirations for all of our children. I have visions of baptisms, ball games, vacations, driving lessons, graduations, marriages, grandchildren. They are the plans of most parents...we just expect them to happen.

I am a planner to a fault. I fill out our calendar every January for nearly every trip and important event for the entire year. I keep stacks of lists...of plans...of expectations. This is my security blanket of control. If I have planned it, I know what to expect. I feel confident over the situation.

I don't do well "flying by the seat of my pants". I get behind in my daily tasks. I forget to make lists of things to do. My mind is a jumbled mess trying to find structure. Things I have planned go undone. Visions of our family like I have always pictured change. Our life as a family does not go how I have planned it.

"As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him." Psalm 18:30

My way is not perfect. My way, my plans, my expectations will never be perfect. And although those plans feel so comfortable, so right, I must not trust in my own ways, for they are not perfect. God's way is perfect. Through a little boy with an uncertain outcome in this world, God is teaching me to let go of the comfortableness of the plans I have in my head for our family, for my son, for our lives...and trust in him to the fullest effect.

It is not an easy lesson. I fight against it almost daily. I desire to feel like I am in the driver's seat, but with each protest, I am brought down to my knees again...asking, begging for strength, for help, for forgiveness in my hardheadedness.

I don't know what Nathan may or may not be able to do as he grows older. I don't know what Abby and Emma may or may not be able to do as they grow older. I don't know what God has planned for our family, but I am learning daily to trust in only him.

For his way is perfect.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Detox


We are undergoing an intense detox period from the stream of sugar and junk food my girls have poured into their soon-to-be-cavity-ridden mouths. A month of junk food. A month of me not monitoring how often they brush their teeth. A month of honey buns, doritos, air heads, and oatmeal cream pies. Obviously when company is here, nutrition seems to be put on the back burner. Thus the detox period.
Abby keeps running around and around the couch, pausing briefly every few seconds to jump up and down with her limbs a-flailing while shouting "woohoo woohoo" in some sort of Bugs Bunny type fashion. Emma is unusually sweet and unselfish and showing numerous accounts of having such a good heart while willingly sharing her most-prized possessions with her sister.

I am thinking they are undergoing some serious sugar withdrawals.

We had such a beast of a time with Jay's family. I feel a little spoiled...not only did I go and snag me up a great husband 8 years ago, but I inherited some awesome in-laws in that deal as well. And I'm not just brown-nosing here to score points. The kids adore the extra attention and love they receive when with their extended family, and I have heard countless stories of their fun times together ever since they left last week.
Amidst the age difference between the "tousins" (as Emma likes to call them), they all get along and play together so nicely. They enjoyed catching lizards, finding mammoth snails, playing in the water and teaching each other different computer games. Abby was heartbroken when they left.
I have more pics of playing mini-golf and of Marty and Rachel with the hooligans, but they are at the end of a list of editing I need to finish this week from some photo shoots I am behind on. More to come...

Thanks for coming all the way down here, guys! We had so much fun and miss you all terribly.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What's one more specialty doctor anyway?


Nate's apnea monitor and I are about to take a little walk to the woods, and one of us ain't comin' back. Turns out that Mr. Nateman likes to keep his heart rate on the high side...especially in the middle of the night. The past 4 nights, a beeping alarm so loud that it makes fire alarms cower and hide with their tails between their legs has piped into our room via the baby monitor and catapulted our exhausted bodunkadunks into panic mode to get Nate's heart rate back down before the girls wake up. Abby woke up during the first round of seemingly unending beeps during the 3:00am hour last night. That one lasted for a full 15 minutes. When the second round started at 5:30am (and lasted until 6:00am), we were smart enough to throw the machine under 3 pillows and a blanket and then lean against it. Dude, I'm telling ya...IT'S LOUD! Emma didn't wake up for either middle-of-the-night episodes, and I fear for her safety lest a fire break out someday.Unfortunately, Nathan stayed asleep during the majority of these episodes also, which isn't technically a good thing. You see, the annoying little machine has been going off A LOT each day due to too high of a heart rate. For the most part, it goes off if he cries, or fusses a little, or sometimes when he is eating...all somewhat okay things to be doing to cause an elevated heart rate. Sleeping should have the opposite effect.

After our home health nurse made an unplanned visit today due to Nathan's apnea monitor needing to be downloaded prematurely because it was full, she called the Pulmonologist with the findings. He has to review all of the readings tomorrow morning, but from what he said on the phone, it looks like he will be referring us to a Pediatric Cardiologist.

As a mother, this is a triumph. I have mentioned having his heart rechecked a few times over the past month...breathing difficulties are usually tied together with heart issues...but my wonderings have been dismissed. I have also wondered if his "dusky" and "blue" episodes are related to his heart instead of his breathing, and it looks like this could very well be the case. Score one for a mother's intuition.

Other than getting practically no sleep over the past couple of nights, we are doing well. Nate had a wonderful therapy session today, and I have some new, fun exercises to add to our daily home therapy sessions. We also found out today that he will probably be starting aquatic therapy in September when our therapy place gets their pool. Awesome! He's going to love it!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Refuge from the storm


"For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall." Isaiah 25:4

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Back to our little family of 5


Emma: Daddy, read this book to me! (we are working on asking politely...it isn't working quite yet.)
Jay: I can't. I'm helping clean up the house.
Emma: Oh! Who is coming to our house now?

Today ended the 6-week adventure of hosting friends and family in our home, and though we are glad to return to a bit of normalcy around here, we really do miss everyone. I guess it is time to relearn how to care for 3 kiddos by myself during the day. And after eating crap, crap, and more wonderful delicious crap for 6 weeks (and obtaining the extra weightage that usually accompanies such crappage), it is time to start the post-company diet.

I'll update with more pictures from this past week later, but I wanted to post a few pictures of the photo shoot with my brother-in-law/sister-in-law and their adorable kiddos. We dodged rain showers, poor lighting, and alligators...not everyone can say that. Always fun! We miss you all...and Emma misses her "tousins".

Abby and Daniel have the exact same eyes. In fact, they both look like they could be brother and sister.The following two are my favorites of the shoot...it is often difficult to get "natural" shots of kids this age, and it is always a triumph when it happens. I just love these.
This week is "catch-up" week. Nate has a few appts, but I should be caught up with editing photo shoots and returning emails by the end of the week. I look forward to being able to stay on top of tasks more now. Thank you for your patience over the past few weeks!

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