Saturday, March 31, 2012

Yellow Ranger

Science Fair

It was a busy Saturday at the science fair with Katie.  All of my older girls have made it to the regional science fair, so we have been in attendance for the past few years.  Katie was up bright and early this morning to set up at the community college at 7:30am.  There were many impressive projects on display this year.  These kids worked hard to get to the fair this year.

Katie is a lot like me, very competitive and wants to be the best at everything.  She anxiously listened to the director announcing the awards.  As she nervously shifted back and forth in the bleachers she appeared to be levitating over her seat, waiting for the moment she would hear her name called.  When she didn't place or win an award, I could see the disappointment on her face and the tears starting to well in the corner of her eyes.  During the awards ceremony I tried not to bring attention to it.

On the way home we stopped at the store to pick up something quick for dinner (frozen pizza) and ice cream.   Katie asked, "Are we having a party?"  I promptly answered, "Yes, to celebrate the science fair."  She looked away with a curt, "No."  I immediately had a talk with her about how proud we (Pierre and I, her teachers) are of her for all her hard work.  Still, I could see that she was disappointed with herself.

I was the same way.  I remember how it felt not winning any awards at the regional science fair in seventh and eighth grade.  I was happy to have made it as far as I did, but still, I needed a silly piece of paper to tell me my worth.  Now, I know that because I didn't win a shiny medal or an award it did not negate all the victories that came before.  I have to figure out how to teach Katie to be proud of all her accomplishments whether she comes in first or third or doesn't place at all.

Tonight, we celebrated all our victories, big and small, with warm brownies covered with scoops of ice cream and caramel sauce.

It was a party.

Friday, March 30, 2012


Abigail is on her way home from her trip to Washington DC.  Pierre dropped her off to school at 5:00am on Wednesday and she will be arriving at school any minute now.  It was only 3 days, but it is a good preparation for me as I will have a few birdies leaving the nest in the next few years.  Soon, my oldest will be looking at colleges.  Only two more years and she will legally be an adult.

I am already dreading the term "empty nest."  It is comforting that as they start leaving, I will still have little ones at home to take care of, but what happens when the littlest get ready to leave?  Linus is barely a year old, but I know how fast times flies.  Babies turn to children who turn to teenagers in the blink of an eye.  Wasn't it only yesterday I was teaching her how to tie her shoes?

I have been spending some extra time rocking my babies these past few days as I was missing my Abigail.  Next year all but two will be in full day school and Josie will be in a preschool program.  I don't think I remember what it is like to only have one with me as I run errands.

Maybe I can find the rewind button on my life so I can relive it all.  Not to change anything, but to etch the memories deep in my mind and really enjoy each moment.  I would like to go back 16 years ago to when it all began in a small apartment, just Pierre and I awaiting the day I would go into labor.

Time to go hug my babies tight and wait for my Abigail.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Spring break is coming next week and I am gearing up for some arts and crafts, besides egg dying, with the kids.  With 9 days off from school we have plenty of time to color eggs, paint, make homemade play dough, and melt some recycled crayons.

A few years ago, I taught a preschool art class.  I enjoyed introducing a room full of bright-eyed three and four year olds to various art concepts.  I don't know what I enjoyed more, art or the kids.  I am passionate about both.

One lesson I taught was about Pointillism.  Pointillism is a painting technique used where dots of pure color are put together on a canvas to create a larger image.  Georges Seurat developed this technique in 1886.

Google "Georges Seurat" and check out A Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte, which happens to be a favorite of mine.

Over break, grab the kids and create a masterpiece using Pointillism.  Most likely you will not need to make a run to Hobby Lobby (or Micheals or AC Moore) to grab supplies, but if you are like me, I am always looking for an excuse to make a run to pick up art supplies.  A trip to Hobby Lobby is a close second to Disney World at my house.  Guaranteed, you will come home with a few more things than were on your list.

Here is a list of supplies to have on hand for your little artists:

  • Red, Blue, and Yellow paint
  • Q-tips
  • Paper

Have your child dip his/her Q-tip in the paint and create dots on the paper.  Have him/her vary how much or little paint he/she uses and how hard he/she presses down on the paper.  Have him/her notice that red and blue dots placed closely together look purple from far away.  See what other color combinations he/she can come up with.  This gives you an opportunity to talk about primary colors and color mixing.

Search around the house and see what other things can be used to make dots (pencil erasers, wood dowels of varying sizes, etc.)

This activity can also be done using markers instead of paint.  Try markers or Sharpies with different sized tips.

Have fun!

On a side note, if you have been following my "tonsils saga,"  Katie has not been cleared for surgery on Monday.  We drove down to the children's hospital to meet with a hematologist this afternoon.  Katie had eleven vials of blood drawn.  We will not have results for about a week.  Most likely, she has the same bleeding disorder her father and brother have (even though she tested negative in the past.)  Josie also had blood drawn (since she was with me) and I need to bring the rest of the kids for blood work to recheck them.  Linus is still too little to be tested since so much blood needs to be taken.  He has been very cranky all day, so it is probably a good thing he didn't get poked and prodded.

We saw many little heroes on our visit to the Pediatric Infusion Center today.  Keeping all of them in my thoughts.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I guess I spoke too soon yesterday about Katie getting the all clear for surgery.  Her blood work came back that her bleeding time was prolonged and we have an appointment with a hematologist tomorrow afternoon.  My husband and Evan both have Von Willebrand's disease (a clotting disorder)  The other kids had been tested, but maybe something was missed with Katie or something new has developed.  We will find out tomorrow if surgery is still on for Monday.  There is always something going on around here.  It keeps things exciting.

Today, I have been remembering my Aunt Claire on her birthday.  Aunt Claire was one of my grandmother's older sisters.  I had a very special relationship with her.  I spent many weekends and summer days at her house.  She played endless board games with me and taught me how to play poker and rummy.  She always had carrots and celery cut for me to snack on and she used to call me her little rabbit.  I can still taste the farina with sugar she used to make me.  Country Time Lemonade and powdered ice tea were treats during the summer and she always had coffee ice cream in the freezer.  We would sit on her porch to watch fireworks on the Fourth of July and I would sleep over.  I remember climbing into bed with her and snuggling while we could still hear stray fireworks going off outside.  She told me stories about when she was younger and all the different places she lived.  She told me about her only daughter that she lost as a toddler, but I never asked many details.  She loved children and she loved me.  I hope that I helped fill a part of that empty space in her heart.  She died 20 years ago and I still can remember her scent and the feel of her beige sweater when she hugged me.  I have her worn photo album that we used to look at together.  It was the only thing I wanted after she passed away.  Photos are very important to me.  

Happy birthday, Aunt Claire.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Took the girls for their pre-op appointment this morning.  Katie is supposed to have her tonsils removed on Monday.  Josie was going at the same time to get her tubes removed and possibly get a new set.  Katie passed the appointment with flying colors.  Josie, not so much.  I knew Josie was not going to be cleared for surgery and if she was I was going to refuse.  The runny nose started two days ago, closely followed by the little wet cough.  With her asthma, I was not going to chance this just to have tubes removed.  Tubes that are working very well.  Yes, I know, they are the permanent type of tube that can only stay in for two years, but a few extra months until we are out of cold and flu season shouldn't make too much of a difference.  I hope.

Josie had the tubes put in when she was only 9 months old.  Her ear infections were terrible, with two ruptured ear drums each time.  She was cleared for surgery, not only by her pediatrician, but by her pulmonologist as well.  Plus, she was put on oral steroids for a few days beforehand.  Wouldn't you know it.  As soon as we arrived home from the hospital, and took her out of her car seat, she was burning up with a fever of 103.  Off  to the doctor's office, and after an x-ray, we left with a prescription for antibiotics and a diagnosis of Pneumonia.

Now to reschedule Josie's surgery for when school is out.  Hopefully, there will be less of a chance she will be sick during the summer.

On a side note, the pediatrician seemed very happy with Josie otherwise.  She is a very different child developmentally and he notices changes every time we see him.  She was looking at a book, while pointing and naming fish and animals.  She loves her sea creatures and can name them all...jellyfish, seahorse, shark.  I can't wait to take her to the aquarium.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Next week is Spring Break, and Katie's tonsils will be coming out.  My first daughter to have her tonsils out, Abigail, cried and screamed and moaned in pain for two weeks afterward.  Codeine was our best friend.  My second daughter to have her tonsils out, Lucie, bounced out of the hospital and asked if she could have chips as we drove home.  Hoping our third experience with tonsils is as easy as the last time.

I have heard that redheads, like Abigail, have a lower pain tolerance than people with other hair colors.  If I had to group my children by hair color, I would say that Abigail has the lowest pain tolerance of anyone I know, but she has also been the sickest.  All of my redheads have problems with their ears and have had the most health problems (reflux, asthma, chronic ear infections.)  At the Children's Hospital, I learned from the anesthesiologist that redheads do not tolerate anesthesia as well as other hair colors. I am intrigued by redheads, and have been known to become a redhead myself on occasion.

We are starting stock up on ice cream, icees, jello, and pudding.  Arts and crafts and quiet games will be pulled out to occupy restless hands.  I am crossing my fingers that recovery will be quick and the pain will become a distant memory.

In case you were wondering,  Lucie is a brunette.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


If it looks like I haven't brushed my hair today, you will have to excuse me.  I have been working on many different projects lately.  Most importantly, for the past 31 days, I have posted a blog post every day. Did you hear that?  Every day! Adventures From Beyond The Crib is not my first blog.  I attempted a few blogs over the past two years.  In the past, I had always found it hard to get started writing, and once I started, it was even harder to keep going.  I have at least two blogs sitting out there, waiting for me to post again.  A few years ago, I read an article where I learned if you keep doing something daily for a month, it becomes a habit.  Blogging is not a habit I am looking to break any time soon.  Since mid February, I have achieved 31 blog posts and over 2800 page views.  Exercise is the next habit I need to acquire.  I'll let you know how that goes next month.

Along with blogging, I am also doing marketing and advertising for a local business.  I have become involved with the March of Dimes as the leader of our March For Babies family team, "Linus' Lemmings."  Lastly, I am coordinating an event for Katie's gym to raise awareness for the March of Dimes, which will take place in Center Court of the Galleria in a few weeks.  Writing press releases, blogging, coordinating Early Intervention visits times 2 kids, homework times 6 school age kids along with last minute doctor appointments, getting Linus to the orthotist, and trying to keep a clean and orderly household is hard work.  I need to start scheduling my day better and figure out how to organize my time more efficiently.

How do you schedule your time?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Big Wheel

A little more than eleven years ago, I found out my much wanted third baby would be coming.  I will have to admit it took a bit of convincing on my part to get Pierre on board for a third.  Creed's "Arms Wide Open" came out that summer.  That song always reminds me of that time in my life.  I was thrilled to be pregnant again.  Abigail was already three and out of her baby stage.  I was even looking forward to changing diapers again.

When I was 14 weeks pregnant, I hemmoraghed.  My house looked like a scene from CSI.  I ruined my beautiful white and blue plaid couch.  My obstetrician, Dr. J,  met me at the hospital.  He had the operating room prepped and ready for a D&C.  I asked for an ultrasound and he listened to me, even though he believed my baby could never have survived. You can imagine the look of disbelief on his face when he found that little flickering heartbeat.  My bleeding miraculously stopped, but still he was not convinced this was a viable pregnancy.  I was given 24 hours to prove it to him.  

I was sent off to the surgical floor to wait to see if the bleeding resumed.  I was not allowed any food or water since Dr. J was afraid I would need to be whisked away to the operating room at any minute.  By the next morning, I was sent home on strict bedrest.  I was on bedrest from October to mid December.  The blood clot that was tearing my placenta away from my uterus had started shrinking until  it was reabsorbed.  I was admitted to the hospital two more times for observation due to an irritable uterus and put back on modified bedrest.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to learn to knit, did a lot of crossword puzzles, and watched too much television.

At one of my last obstetrician visits in late winter 2001, I was told by Dr. J that he had never had a baby survive after a bleeding episode like the one I had.  I was not sure what I was to expect.  I knew I would love my baby, no matter what, but the uncertainty was frightening. 

Tomorrow, is Katie's eleventh birthday.  She was born on a sunny Saturday morning just before noon.  She looked just like a baby doll.  There were no ill effects from my tumultuous pregnancy.

Happy birthday to my eleven year old, miracle girl.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Linus had an appointment with Dr. S, the opthamologist, today.  In the NICU he was screened every two weeks to check for Retinopathy of Prematurity.  Linus had Stage 2 ROP, so we needed to follow up with Dr. S every 2 weeks until he was cleared.  The ROP exam was terrible to watch.  Three sets of drops were administered over a period of time.  It felt like forever, but I think it was a total of 45 minutes.  Then, once in the examination room, Dr. S would have me swaddle Linus and hold his head steady while he took this metal plier-like object to pry Linus' eyelids open while he looked into the eye to examine the retina.  I'm pretty sure Linus wasn't a big fan of the exam either.  I was very relived when he was cleared.

This afternoon, in the waiting room, we met two lovely women.  One was an elderly woman in a wheelchair and the other was her caregiver.  The elderly woman had almost the same exact jacket on that  my grandma wore and she was wearing a turquoise shirt, which is the color grandma wore most.  She also had my grandmother's nose and light eyes, and no teeth too.  She was admiring Linus while he smiled and entertained her.  She told me that she loved having boys and that her boys were 51 and 58 now.  She said multiple times, "His grandma must spoil him."  I think maybe grandma was there with us in the waiting room today.  It sure felt like she was.

Dr. S told us that Linus is more farsighted than would be expected.  We need to bring him back in 4 months for another exam to see if he needs glasses.  Linus is the only member of our family who doesn't wear glasses.  I am sure he will get his own pair sooner or later.

Waiting for Dr. S

Happy Linus

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Go Speed Racer Go

8 months ago today, I was recovering from a c-section and hooked up to a morphine pump, which I didn't like very much, when I was wheeled to Mother/Baby from the recovery room.  I was so happy when my favorite night nurse walked in.  I had been in the hospital for a month prior, so I was able to get to know the nurses well.

Pierre made some phone calls and turned on the tv.  I wished I had made it to term, and that there was a little bassinet next to my bed.  I was in a unit called "Mother/Baby," except there was no baby with me.  Instead, my son was on the other side of the hallway in the NICU.  I was worried about my baby (he was still nameless at this point.)  I knew he was being poked and prodded in the NICU.  In the delivery room we were informed he was missing a piece of his skull bone, the skin was intact, but the bone was missing.  Not only was he born at 24 weeks, but now we had to deal with the fact there could be something terribly wrong.  I worried he would not survive.  On top of that worry was the fear he could die before I could be with him.  My last 2 pregnancies ended with a funeral, how could I think this would be any different.  I couldn't lose three boys in a row.  I had many people praying for us.  There was hope.

All I had was a brief moment with him after delivery as the neonatal doctor held him and showed us his skull deformity.  I didn't even get to touch him.

The next morning, I wanted to get out of my bed as soon a possible.  I wanted to make it to the NICU before rounds.  I needed to see my little man.  He was so tiny, just 1 pound, 8 ounces and 12 1/2 inches long.  The nurses called him feisty.  That was a good sign.  Back in my room (before I started Googling "skull deformity") we looked at all the pictures Pierre took and decided on his name.  I had a rather long list, but I knew he was my Linus.  I have always wanted a Linus (and not because I have a Lucie.)

My little miracle is now over 12 pounds.  We made it through 3 months in the NICU.  We survived a scare, including a call to 911 and an ambulance ride back to the hospital after Linus was home for 2 weeks.  We made it through reflux, breathing treatments, and bi-weekly eye exams.  We are very blessed that we haven't had to deal with anything more than that.  Linus is doing great with physical therapy and wearing his helmet.  Soon, this too will be a distant memory.

That missing piece of skull bone?  It grew in before Linus was discharged from the NICU.  Like I said, Linus is a miracle.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Happy First Day of Spring.

We are really enjoying the beautiful weather we have been having.  It didn't even seem like it was winter anymore with temperatures in the mid to high 70s.  My kids have been playing outside in shorts and T shirts.  Soon, they will be asking for bathing suits and sprinklers.  It won't be long now.

I love springtime and always have.  This is my absolute favorite time of the year.  I think back to my favorite pair of lightweight pink pants from when I was a little girl, the Pussy Willow branches I used to hang egg ornaments off of, and Forsythia in bloom.  I think of the sailor dress I wore for Easter and playing softball at the park.   It reminds me of when I started dating  Pierre in mid-April a very long time ago.  I think of bringing Katie home from the hospital, on a cold spring day in March 2001.  It snowed and her big stork "Its A Girl" balloon on the mailbox deflated.

Last year during Spring, I was getting excited knowing Linus was coming.  In between preparing for Easter (and eating my share of Cadbury Mini Eggs) I was having sonograms and appointments and looking at tiny baby clothes at the store.  I put Linus' "first picture" in a frame and put it out among the Easter baskets last Easter morning.  A blurry sonogram picture in a dragonfly frame was better than any gift the bunny brought last year.

I can't wait for flowers and park play dates.  I am planning for lots of picture taking at the Samuel Morse site (we go every year to take pictures.)  I need to go look through all the pretty spring dresses and sandals stored in my attic.

It's time to paint my toenails.

Spring is here.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Mondays are a good TV night here. I enjoy one new show this season (Smash) and really, there are only a few television shows that I really like. Most shows on these days are either inappropriate to watch with a child in the room or just don't hold my interest. I get nervous during a suspense filled storyline. I don't enjoy action or guns or violence. I will admit I am very picky when it comes to my TV time, and when my husband flips on Burn Notice I roll my eyes and find a good magazine to read. I do like reality TV, but you won't catch me watching The Bachelor or Jersey Shore. I am addicted to watching the news and if Joan Rivers is critiquing fashions on the red carpet, I am tuned in.

I am a little embarrassed to say, one of my guilty pleasures is Dance Moms. Now, I think the premise of the show is terrible, but I find myself watching it. I am not sure if I am enjoying myself, or just observing a train wreck and cannot bring myself to turn away.

I think the draw of this show is due to the fact my daughter is involved in a competitive sport. That being said, I would never allow my daughter to be treated the way those girls are.  The mothers are no better than the instructor.  Not that I don't think the entire show is scripted.  I picture them all sitting around  and sipping tea while deciding which girl will be at the bottom of the pyramid, which moms will get into a catfight, and which mom will storm out of the studio, never to return again (until the next episode.)

For the most part, the gyms Katie has trained at have been very warm and supportive. I have heard of local gyms where the girls are punished by their coaches if their scores are not high enough or if their legs are not perfectly straight.


No arm around the shoulder with a “You'll do better next time.”


Extra conditioning, harsh words, no support.

I would not stand for that. I don't care how high your daughter's scores are, she will not thrive in a toxic atmosphere.

Katie's gym is another home. She is treated kindly and with respect. The girls work hard and achieve great things and feel good about themselves. If a girl is having trouble mastering a skill, the coaches will work tirelessly with them and encourage them.

I guess when I watch Dance Moms, I am reminded of how lucky we are.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


It was a busy weekend...St. Patrick's Day, gymnastics, lots of playing outside, and a visit to Linus' Godmother.

Hope you all had a beautiful weekend too.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Linus the Leprechaun

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Stewart's was charging 50 cents for ice cream cones if you were wearing green today.  We had to get the kids to pose with the cow.  Check out the cool 15 passenger red van behind the kids.

My very talented husband made us a treat for dinner tonight.  Well, I guess this was actually dessert since we had ice cream for dinner!
Green chocolate chip pancakes 

Shamrock Pancake

Friday, March 16, 2012

Flying High

I watched Katie at gymnastics today.  She was working on aerials.  They look like so much fun.  She almost appears to be flying.

What I wouldn't do to be able to fly like Katie.  To be flexible, weightless, free.  

I came home to two little girls who ran out onto the front lawn to greet me with cartwheels across the grass.  I think I have a few more gymnasts in the making.  Everyone wants to fly.  

I achieve flight through my words.  

How do you fly?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kick Flip

While visiting the elementary school for Day 2 of Open House, I thought about all the inspiring teachers my children have had touch their lives. Fortunately, for the most part, we have been really lucky. Our experiences over the past 14 years have introduced us to nurturing teachers, teachers who challenged my children, and exuberant teachers who made learning fun . Even some of the most disagreeable teachers have taught my children patience and tolerance.

Evan can't wait to get to school each morning. Every day is a new adventure and he does not want to miss a single minute. He has told me that his teacher this year is the best teacher ever. As we were getting ready to leave open house, Evan needed to go back to his classroom one more time. When we walked in, we were introduced to his teacher's family. Her mother, father, sister, niece, and husband were there looking at the projects on display around the room. I was impressed by the support she has from her family. That support  is what makes her the teacher she is.

Katie's teacher makes learning an adventure. He is fun and energetic.  He empowers those kids and gives the tools to successfully move on to middle school next year.  Evan is crossing his fingers (I am too) that he gets the same teacher next year.  Pierre found this hanging in the classroom:

I am thinking forward to the future for Josie and Linus, and hoping they have the same positive experiences in school as their older siblings.