Thursday, December 27, 2007

Los Angeles - BLECK....

Well folks, the time has come!! We are in Australia!

Short story first - Michael was born in Australia. When his mom remarried when he was about 4 and married an American who was in the USAF and stationed in Australia. Then Michael's ex-stepdad got stationed in another city in Australia, they were transferred to Holland when Michael was about 11 and were there for a few years before moving to Florida - where I met Michael. So, Michael's dad, stepmom, siblings, grandparents and aunts and uncles all still live in various cities in Australia. We have not been over since 2002 (before we had kids) and other than Michael's dad visiting us a few times in the last few years, Michael doesn't get to see his family very often and none of them have met our kids! So, we started planning this trip (and saving our $$) about a year ago and here we are!!!!

We left Colorado on Sunday, December 23rd and flew to Los Angeles. We spent a few days in Los Angeles - and drove down to San Diego one day to go to Sea World! This post is actually going to be about our stay in Los Angeles....................... I had never been there and Michael had been once on a TDY for a few days.

Day 1 - we arrived around lunch time and got our rental car and headed 2 miles to our hotel! Gave the kids a short nap and then we decided to go to Santa Monica for the rest of the afternoon/evening.

This is a photo of the famous Santa Monica pier. It was 2 days before Christmas and it was totally crazy. I know it's part of LA and LA is famous for the zillions of people, but it's really crazy to actually see how many people there are and all the different "styles." Oh and all the "crazies!" I could definitely NOT live there.

Day 2 was spent at Sea World in San Diego.

The kids had an amazing time, loved every minute of our time there and were very well behaved even without naps!! Jacob's has said several times that his favorite show was the Sea Lion and otter show!

Day 3 - the morning was spent driving around looking at famous Hollywood things and then we had to head to LAX at around 3:30 for our flight.

Of course, no trip to Los Angeles is complete without a photo of the Hollywood hill!

Grauman's Chinese Theater and a few "characters" standing outside. Hollywood Blvd. is very strange...... characters everywhere. We saw, Darth Vader, some storm troopers, spiderman, batman, incredible hulk, Homer Simpson, a transformer and Chewbacca!

Sunset Blvd.
I know I already said this, but I NEVER, ever want to live in/near Los Angeles - thankyouverymuch!
Next time I'll write about our flight (with 2 small children). Let's just say it's LOOOOONG.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Look at us!

I think this is my absolute favorite photo taken of the 2 of us -EVER. It was taken this past Sat. night at Michael's squadron Christmas party. We had a great time - and the boys LOVE their babysitter, so that means we get to enjoy ourselves even more on those rare occasions.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snow and Eli update

This is our winter wonderland!!

This was taken while driving on a dirt road up in the mountains after a fresh snow! Beautiful.

This photo was taken at MIDNIGHT and look how happy he is..... He had a cold and couldn't sleep because he was coughing terribly and when we brought him downstairs, he actually wanted to play.

What a cutie! This is what my little man looks like right now! If you know us personally, you know the story of his neck. Looking at him now, you would probably never guess he started out with a 35 degree right tilt of his head and neck. He was born with a condition called congenital torticollis. Here's some information for you:

"Torticollis, also known as "wryneck," is a condition in which your baby's head is tilted. The chin points to one shoulder, while the head tilts toward the opposite shoulder. Treatment is necessary to prevent your baby's face and skull
from growing unevenly and to prevent limited motion of the head and neck.

"Congenital" means a condition that is present at birth. Congenital torticollis occurs at or shortly after birth

Congenital torticollis occurs when the neck muscle that runs up and toward
the back of your baby's neck (sternocleidomastoid muscle) is shortened. This
brings your baby's head down and to one side. This is known as congenital
muscular torticollis.

Experts don't know what causes the shortened neck muscle. Some experts
believe that the muscle may sometimes be stretched or torn during the baby's
birth. The tear causes bleeding and swelling, and scar tissue replaces some of
the muscle, making it shorter." Side bar: Eli was born via planned c-section so there wasn't any birth trauma and no one really knows how he developed this condition.

You can just barely notice it now. He is doing amazingly well with physical therapy. He started physical therapy at about 5.5 months of age and the program was a lot of stretching and forcing (not painfully, though) his muscles to stretch beyond what he could do on his own. We have done tons of therapy since then and there had been quite a bit of improvement until he got to a plateau about 6-7 months ago. So, in early October he started wearing a "TOT collar", here's a pic. of what it looks like:

The 2 posts sit just where his jaw connects (kind of in front of and below his right ear) and the other just to the right of center in the base of his skull. This collar makes it so that he cannot tilt his head to the right, forcing him to purposefully hold it straight. Dont' worry, it doesn't "poke" him or anything. It really just makes him aware of how he is holding his head, kind of like a reminder to him. Because he physically cannot tilt his head with it on and he gets use to that when he's wearing it, he holds his head up better without it on! The goal is for him to purposefully hold his head up. Since we know now that his muscles have been stretched and strengthened enough for him to be able to do this, now it's just a matter of training him to do it. And that's mostly what the collar is for. We're praying that this will be the last step in his physical therapy. It may take a while for him to be completely corrected, but we know that he can do it!!

This was taken at 3 months of age. See how far his head was tilted then?

On to Eli's other condition; hemi-hypertrophy:

"Hemihypertrophy, also called hemihyperplasia, is a greater-than-normal asymmetry between the right and left sides of the body. This difference can be in just one finger; just one limb; just the face; or an entire half of the body, including half the brain, half the tongue and the internal organs, or any variation in between."

Eli seems to only have the asymmetry in his legs. At this point, his left leg is somewhere between 5/8" and 3/4" longer than his right. His left leg is also quite a bit fatter than his right and he wears 1.5 size smaller shoe on his right foot.

We buy his shoes at Nordstrom because they are the only shoe retailer in the world that ells shoes in different sizes. We just got him a new pair about 3 weeks ago and he is a 6.5 on the right and an 8 on left..... We also then have to have a lift custom made for the bottom of his right shoe to even out his legs (to reduce hip discomfort and possible displasia).

He is followed by a geneticist and a pediatric orthopedic surgeon along with his regular pediatrician. Because of the research that has been done on this malformation - doctors have determined there is an increased risk of kidney tumors and kidney cancer in children with this disorder. And because this kidney cancer can develop very rapidly - progressing to stages 3 and 4 within only a few months - Eli has to have an ultrasound of all of his internal organs every three months until he is EIGHT years of age. In these ultrasounds they check the sizes of the organs to make sure they are not growing disproportionately since the previous ultrasound and to make sure there are no tumors or growths on the kidneys. We believe (along with the pediatrician and the geneticist) that he will not develop any of these complications because he doesn't exhibit any of the other symptoms that usually occur with the more severe cases and it seems that only his legs are affected. So, in reality, we do these ultrasounds to appease the medical community because no one really thinks that he will develop anything further - but I'd also rather know sooner than later if he were to develop something......

There is a possibility that his right side will catch up in growth, but there's no real way to know if it will happen until it either does or doesn't. He's not bothered by it and with the lift you can't even notice a difference so we're not too worried about it. He can run almost as fast as Jacob (and Jacob's about to be 4) at this point, so in reality, there's nothing "wrong" with him, he's just unique - who isn't?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The best husband on the planet!

Yesterday was my birthday and I was absolutely NOT expecting any sort of gift, a card maybe, but definitely no gift since we are going to Australia in just over two weeks to visit his family and there is no $$$ (or so I thought!!). We already have plans for a babysitter and a dinner "date" this Saturday evening, so I really hadn't thought anymore about a "gift" and he had already called me from work to wish me happy birthday. I really thought that was the end of it, really.

When Michael got home from work, he went upstairs to change out of his uniform, as usual. Only, he came right back down with an envelope instead. He had had Jacob write "Mommy" on the front and I just thought it was a card.... boy was I wrong on that one. It was a gift certificate to the Springs Spa & Salon for a sweedish massage, spa facial, manicure and pedicure!!! My first thought was "wow, he spent money on me...." Lame, I know, but really we just charged $6,000 for our Australia trip. My second reaction was to cry, I got all sappy and cried because it was just sooooo amazing of him to do this for me. His reason was enough to make me cry all over again "You work so much being home with the kids, probably more than you ever have before and I thought you really deserved this for YOU."

So, I officially nominate my husband for the most amazing and unexpected gift ever!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fun comparison!

I thought these were cute!

This is Jacob at 19 months (8/05), he woke up from a nap and had tried to remove his shirt.

This is how Eli woke up from his nap today! Same arm and everything! He is 18 months. I guess this must be the age where they start trying to take their clothes off since they've both been pretty consistent at doing it around the same age.

I also find it funny that they look so completely different! Jacob looks EXACTLY like Michael and Eli looks like me! There's one for each of us!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My boys.....

Gotta love being outnumbered!

Michael built a tower with every single block we have and Eli was trying to "crash" it! Please, no comments on Eli's attire! He had just gotten up from his nap and Michael had put pj pants on him so he'd be more comfortable when napping (because he had jeans on).

Look how proud he is!!! He did this all by himself, are you impressed.... BOYS!

My little "crasher." He loves to crash things. He even runs and plops on things and yells "CRASH"! Too cute!

Just a little brotherly love!

This was his first "time out." He probably really doesn't understand why he got it (for hitting) but he did what he was told ("time out, go sit and hands on knees") even though he cried the entire time.

Just thought I'd share some of our life with you. Enjoy.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Who writes a blog about baking? Me. Why? Oh, you'll see...

I'm not one of those moms that loves to bake just for fun. However, I do occasionally like to bake some cupcakes or brownies or cookies - you know, things for dessert. I don't usually bake from scratch, I simply break open a box, crack some eggs, measure some oil, etc. This is my kind of "homemade baking." Now, I have never had any problems in the baking arena, I just don't particularly enjoy it - too time consuming with all the measuring and waiting and stuff. This is how I felt until about a year ago.....

Fast forward a little. I now live in Colorado Springs. Do you know what the elevation in Colorado Springs is? 6,500 feet. Do you know what that means to the average, non-pastry schooled baker? ARGH. That's what it means. Anyone ever tried to bake at that altitude after living your whole life no more than 10 feet above sea level? Trash can. That's what happened to my first attempt at making some cupcakes about a year ago - not too long after we moved here. Aren't there high altitude instructions on the packages, you say! Yep. Do they always work? Nope. They tell you to decrease this and that or add flour and sometimes alter the temperature and the baking time. If you read the high altitude instructions carefully, they say "High altitude: 3,500 - 6,500 feet." I barely qualify in the "high altitude" category. Tell me, is there a "super high altitude" category. Because there are people that live above 6,500 feet. What do they do when baking or do they just not bake?

I tried to bake a nectarine cobbler - because we had a nectarine tree at our rent out and I canned the nectarines before we moved so that I could use them later. I got my grandma's peach cobble recipe (because hers is always soooo yummy) and attempted to alter it a bit to make it high-altitude-friendly. It turned out ok. Instead of taking 45 minutes at 350 to cook, it took over an hour....... I just don't get it and it was tough on the bottom but perfect on the top. Does the amount of oxygen in the air really make that much difference?

For now, I'll just stick to the one brownie mix and sugar cookie mix that I've found that actually work!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Jewelry website

I finally have a jewelry website to sell my handmade jewelry. Please check it out and if you like what you see, bookmark it and tell a friend!!! I will be adding some more items in the next few days so check back often to see what's new! I ship domestically to the US and also ship internationally.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


If you are unfamiliar with croup - defines it as:

"A pathological condition of the larynx, especially in infants and children, that is characterized by respiratory difficulty and a hoarse, brassy cough"

First off, "brassy cough".... what the heck? What it actually sounds like is a seal/sea lion barking inside your childs throat. Just imagine that.

Secondly, it's usually sudden onset in the middle of the night (sometimes preceeded by a minor cold/virus) and symptoms can usually be reduced by a steamy shower, cool humidifier or trip outdoors on a cold night - at least this was always the case with Jacob.

Last, they typically outgrow it by the time they are about 5 because then their trachea is larger and minor irritations don't cause as much swelling.

This family is not strangers to croup. Jacob had his first bout with it sometime right around his first birthday. Having been first time parents at that point in time, we immediately took him to the ER (he actually did need a breathing treatment to get some relief - so it was good that we took him). After that there was much research done and Jacob had a few more, less severe recurrences. None of which needed to really even be treated by a dr. - just a steamy bathroom and a cool humidifier. He hasn't had it since he was about 2.5 yrs.!!

Eli... now he's a different story. Eli had his first bout around 14.5 months. No ER trip was immediately needed, but he still wasn't much better by morning so I had to take him to the pediatrician for a shot of Decadron (a fast acting, single dose steriod that reverses symptoms within 24 hours) to reduce the swelling in his trachea/vocal cords. In the 3.5 months since then, he has had FOUR more recurrences. Same drill, up and down all night and a trip to the pediatrician the following day (we even had to do it once when we were in Florida). However, he had a recurrence Saturday night that actually landed us in the ER about 4:30 Sunday morning - the Decadron couldn't wait any longer. He was actually getting worse, rather than better. On Monday - 24 hrs. after the Decadron shot, he still wasn't any better........ called the pediatrician's office and the nurse said they didn't have any openings and to take him back to the ER. Back to the ER we went. Got a second dose of Decadron AND a 5 day Rx for Prednisolone (liquid steroid) and "call his pediatrician and get him in by the end of the week for a follow up." Went to the pediatrician today and she said since this bout was so different than what he normally experiences, maybe he has allergies and his trachea/vocal cords are aggravated from that and it's what's causing the "croup"- makes sense since Michael and Jacob both have allergies..... Gave us a Rx of Zyrtec to try. Other than that, there's no preventative, we just have to wait until he outgrows it.

I feel so bad for him because I can't make it go away and STAY away. I figured it up, he's averaging every 3 weeks with this nasty stuff. It's horribly uncomfortable for him and it usually only affects him during the night when he should be sleeping. He's such a champ though, he really does try to be in a good mood, but sometimes he just can't take it and just cries and cries and it breaks my heart that I can't make it better. We do the steamy shower and sit outside since it's colder now, but that only provides a little relief for the little guy.....

Friday, November 16, 2007


I absolutely love living in Colorado and here are a few reasons why:
This is a view of Denver from the Denver Museum of Science & Nature.
First snow of the winter on October 21.
This is the giraffe exhibit at our zoo which just happens to overlook all of Colorado Springs. PS - Our zoo has the #1 rated giraffe breeding program in the world. There are 3 babies right now. So cute!
Jacob feeding the giraffes their special crackers, with me supervising so he doesn't drop the crackers. He's still getting use the the giraffes licking his fingers when trying to get the cracker from his hand!!!
I love this reflection pic. I took up in the mountains a little west of Denver.
And, of course, the little men in my life!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Congrats to my friend...

Our friends, Meredith and Mike, just found out that the young lady they were suppose to meet with later this week who has chosen them to adopt her baby gave birth to a healthy baby boy yesterday!!! This is extremely exciting for them, yet they have a 3 week wait ahead of them for paperwork and sickle cell test results before they can go get him. This is their 2nd child. Jack was born in South Korea in October, 2003 and came home to them in April, 2004.

Please keep them in your prayers as they endure these rough weeks waiting for their precious baby boy to come home. Also, even if you don't know them, please hop on over to their blog and leave them a comment. It will mean a lot to them to know people are thinking and praying for them.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Completion.... well kinda

After moving into our new house just a few days shy of a month ago, I finally accomplished ONE room. The boys now have a nice room complete with all their things hung back on the walls - they're sharing a room now, too!

However, the loveseat is still covered in all of the things that need to be hung on the walls downstairs and the floor of the closet in the office still has all of the other things to be hung on the upstairs walls - ugh. It takes so long to move into a house. It doesn't help that I'm a little OCD on how things get hung. They have to be just right and no unnecessary holes - thankyouverymuch! Seriously, I get out the measuring tape, level and a pencil and mark where all my nails will go!!

Owning a home is fabulous, but moving is so daunting to me, I think mainly because I really believe I have a touch of OCD in the organization category. I need my house to feel like a home, and that to me means things must be in their place - except toys - and there must be no clutter. My brain just can't wrap around clutter and it literally makes me feel stressed. Is this strange?! Anywho, I think being a stay home mom adds a little extra urgency to the "getting-the-house-put-together" bug. I mean, I'm here A LOT.
We moved into our house on a Saturday and Michael left for 12 days on Monday.... He made sure before he left that all of the necessary-for-life things were put together/away, etc. So that left me with the monstrous task of unpacking the rest - I really didn't have to get it all done, but I physically couldn't stand living with the boxes. I felt very accomplished because he came home to a decently organized home with very few boxes left to unpack!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The end of daylight savings time is wearing me out...

I am (in no uncertain terms) NOT a morning person and definitely don't handle rising early (unless previously planned) very well at all. However, I can manage to muster all of my will-power every morning at 6:30 when the alarm goes off to get myself out of bed and into the shower. The only reason I can do this is because if I don't, the boy I babysit on Monday and Wednesday mornings would not make it to preschool on time and on Tuesday and Thursday mornings Jacob wouldn't make it to preschool on time. Friday's are my "off" mornings and I don't have to get up until someone needs/beckons me.

Normally the kids go to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 and Jacob gets up around 6:30 when the sun comes up (but Michael usually leaves the tv on for him to watch until I'm ready to meet the world!) and Eli rises around 7:30. So, I usually have time to drag myself out of bed and get ready before anyone needs me. This has NOT been the case since Sunday morning. The sun now starts coming up a full hour earlier than before meaning Jacob is getting up in the 5:00 hour, most days before Michael is even out of the shower to turn the tv on. Since the tv is not on for him, he comes to my side of the bed and either SIGHS really loudly or this morning he tapped me very gently on the arm. So, I am definitely thankful that he's not coming into my room and talking loudly in my face or talking at all for that matter!!!! Jacob rising early isn't quite so draining as Eli rising early. Eli is in the crib and he will just cry until someone gets him out. And he has also been getting up in the 5:00 hour. I could get use to the getting up early, I could adjust my bedtime and not stay up so late at night. Not a huge deal, BUT what also wears me out is that Eli normally takes a 3 hour nap and yesterday he slept a grand total of ONE hour. Today he's been asleep right at 2 hours, so I'm praying he'll "get his nap out!"

I know you're asking, "so, if you're so tired, why aren't you napping while the kids are?" I know, I know, really I should, but I am by design NOT a napper. I HATE naps (for myself - the kids must have naps). I don't feel well no matter how short or how long the nap and it just throws my day off even further. Not to mention that no matter the length of the nap it messes up my ability to get to sleep at night....... I swear I'm just too complex!!

I think I'm going to boycott daylight savings time, anyone with me? Oh, wait, that would only make matters worse by making me late (or early during DST) for everything. I just can't win. Oh well, just one of those parenting things, I guess.

Here's a map that shows the countries of the world that do/do not use daylight savings time. The countries in yellow are the ones that do. All others DO NOT. Why is it that we must follow this trend?

Oh, there's one more problem for my family with DST..... Michael's dad, step-mom and his half-siblings live in Australia. The time difference changes by TWO hours depending on DST. When we are in DST (April-October) they are not in DST, so we are 16 hours apart. However, when it's the other way around, the time difference changes to 18 hours. As if it's not hard enough to figure out when to make a phone call or get on the webcam, now we have to REfigure it to the new time......