January 20, 2011
November 3, 2010
Over the last 3 months, we've had two major milestones! Sarah turned one, and Michael turned five. Both caught me off guard with how significant they were. I guess we were a little distracted when Michael hit 1, so Sarah's 1st was, let's say different. Nobody warned what a big deal 5 is... Although he's still the same kid, Michael seems much older to me now. Funny how something as simple as the number of fingers he holds up when telling people how old he is can change things.
Michael started Young 5's back in September. MI allows kids who turn 5 as late as Dec 1st to enroll in kindergarten. Luckily, the AA school district realized a couple years ago that it's not always a good idea to send 4-yr-olds to school and created a class for kids with Sept - Nov birthdays to give them an extra year before officially starting school. We had a hard time deciding what to do, but only 8 states would have allowed Michael into kindergarten with his mid-Oct birthday and we decided the extra year could only help in the long run. So, he has school every afternoon and he's really enjoying himself. We have our fist parent/teacher conference later this week, so we'll find out how he's really doing. He's made lots of friends, as usual. His class is mostly boys, for the first time, which is good for him. He's having lots of fun exploring rough boy play.
Outside of school, he's been keeping plenty busy. We just finished fall soccer, and he had a good time. Most weeks were pretty cold, so he may enjoy it more in the spring if he chooses to play again. Karate starts this Saturday, and he's really excited about that. I like that it's inside. :) He's also looking forward to the local ice skating rinks to open for the season. I think we'll look for a pair of skates for him to make sure we get out there as often as we can for him to practice. He may or may not want to do hockey. Parents take it very seriously here, even at this age, so we'll have to see how much he really wants to do it.
I'm not sure how much of it is school and how much of it is on his own, but he's well on his way to reading, which is very exciting. We had a level 1 reader from the library a while ago that he had never seen before and he was able to read about 90% of it on his own. There's lots of repetition and picutre hints, but it's still reading. Just last night we had a book that he didn't have memorized (his ridiculous memory can blur the line between actually reading and guessing based on memory) and we took turns reading pages. The downside is that we can no longer spell in front of him because if he's interested in what we're talking about, he can figure it out. We'll have to text back and forth now if we want to try and keep a secret from him.
Sarah has gone from just crawling, to pulling herself up, crusing all over the place, and has even started walking a bit. She actually took her first real steps between Tim and I back in the beginning of October, but she wasn't real interested in practicing. A couple weeks ago, she decided she wanted to walk holding my hands when we drop off and pick up Michael from school. It's a decent walk, so she gained a lot of confidence and is down to just holding one of my hands (and my back thanks her). Last Monday night, she put on a show for Grandpa Dave and started walking around the family room. She still crawls most of the time, but she's made it all the way across the playroom a couple times and is capable of doing it. It's just a lot more effort and takes longer. It's very different from how Michael started walking. Granted, he was several months older, but once he took his first couple solo steps, he walked all the time. Maybe by Thanksgiving Sarah will be up to walking all the time?
She's also starting to talk quite a bit. She has the standard mama and dada down, although she uses mama as a general "I want something." She says "bra-ba" for brother and has lots of other variations using b's and a's for ball, bink, bottle and balloon. We've got "mo" for more when it comes to eating and up is mostly just the p sound. I figure out new one's every couple days, so her vocab is growing quickly and communication is well on it's way.
So between learning to walk, talk and getting new teeth (molars, yuck!), she's got a lot going on. I think we're working our way toward just one nap, so we've had some unpredictable schedules, but as long as she gets enough sleep she's a very happy and easy going baby. She will go into the playroom by herself and just play on her own for very long periods of time. Her new thing is to look at books on her own. She's facinated with looking at all the pictures, but trying to actually read them to her ends up in fights over pages being turned and books shoved in the face of the unsuspecting reader. She may be sweet and happy, but don't mess with her agenda! :)
The kids had a great Halloween, and several weekends of outings leading up to the big day. Michael, a seasoned pro, was an excellent trick-or-treater. I don't think he missed saying thank you and Happy Halloween at a single house. He was a great Batman. It was a really fun costume. Sarah was an adorable ladybug and really wanted to be running around with the big kids. She was so excited when she got to sit on the front porch for pictures with everyone and threw a fit when they all ran down the driveway and she got stuffed into the stroller. I mistakenly thought the costume was big enough to keep her in the stroller without being strapped in. About a block into the trip, Sarah was all the sudden crawling across a driveway. She had wiggled herself under the tray and gotten out to follow the big kids. She found the wagon to be a fair compromise since she had various companions in it with her between houses. It was a really fun night!
So, that's what we've been up to... Daily life with a school aged kid and a two times a day napper gets pretty busy, but it's a lot of fun too. So far, we've all stayed really healthy as the weather cools down (knock on wood) and we're getting ready for lots of indoor activities and playing in the snow as winter aproaches. We're hoping for lots of snow this year, but I'm sure our tune will change after a couple months of shoveling out the driveway and having to wear several layers of clothes every time we want to leave the house....
Since I didn't actually add pictures after the last story update, I thought I'd do an other one before Sarah's birthday next week.... A couple of important milestones for both kids have happened over the last couple weeks.
Michael can officially swim! He can get all the way across a small pool on his own and even does it with his face in the water most of the way. It's work for him, and Tim said it best with "he's not going to get anywhere, but he won't drown either." My only goal for the summer was for him to be able to do that, so I can cross it off the list. He's also started sounding out words and writing them down on paper on his own. He just finished "Rabbet" right here next to me. I was so proud I didn't have the heart to tell him it's really and "i" but I'll have to clue him in someday. :)
Sarah has started pulling herself up on everything, stationary or not. She cruises around a little bit and walks along with her little shopping cart as it rolls. She's not super stable, so we've got some time before she starts walking, but it will be much sooner than Michael's 16 months. Her favorite things (outside of people) are her doll, any ball she can get her hands on, and any toy with wheels. She made up her own little version of catch that she loves to play and she pushes any of Michaels wheeled toys all over the place. Her face lights up when she sees her dolly and she gives her the biggest hug when she first gets her out in the morning. I need to get a picture of it.... Oh, and although she's been using "mama" for pretty much everything for months, she is starting to use it just to get my attention and is working on "dada" as of late. She also says "mo" for more when she's eating and we're not feeding her fast enough. Hopefully she'll really take off with new words in the near future. She has opinions and definite wants/needs and things will go much more smoothly if she can communicate those to us!
So, that's the latest. We're having a small gathering for Sarah's first birthday next weekend, so I'm sure I'll have tons of pictures of her first cake eating performance!
So, after almost 5 years of parenting, I think it’s finally sinking in that life doesn’t really slow down. I have no idea where the last 3 months have gone or how summer is half way over. Apparently I’m a slow learner….
Since the last update, a lot has happened and changed. Sarah is a completely different being for one. The kids and I spent almost a month in WA with family and friends. Tim flew out to spend the last week out there with us after a lot of long hours in the office and a trip to Japan. Then we got a really nice long weekend at a cottage with some of Tim’s extended family up north.
Between now and the beginning of September, we plan to stay closer to home and find fun things to do around here. This summer has been a little tricky with all the thunder storms and severe weather warnings. On the days where it’s not too humid and no storms, we get outside as much as possible. We just had a great weekend and spent the whole time on the deck in a blow-up pool with the BBQ going non-stop.
And now for the usual kid updates:
I’ve posted a ton of pictures that show what we’ve been up to so far this summer. We’ve been really busy and had a lot of fun. Hoping the rest of the summer is more of the same…..
April 26th, 2010
Well, so much for more frequent updates…. Time just keeps flying by. The good news is that outside of some seasonal allergies, we’ve all been healthy for a good six weeks! Having been responsible for about 75% of the illnesses myself, I think I am the most excited about that fact.
We had a great visit to the PNW in the middle of February. Michael was a fantastic ring bearer in Christine and Ryan’s wedding and we got to spend a lot of time visiting family. It was a very busy trip, and I got sick (of course), but for our first trip with two kids, it went really well. Other than that, we’ve been in our little bubble here in AA. Our first winter was a mild one, and spring has been a mixture of really warm weather and then typical wet and windy spring days. We’ve really enjoyed having seasons again, but I think it creates a sense that time is moving more quickly. Last month marked a whole year here, but it felt like we’d just unpacked all the boxes.
Work has picked up for Tim again. Not to the extent it did in LA, but he’s been traveling again and has had longer hours from time to time. He’s a one-man-show just like before, so it can be a little demanding. We were very spoiled over the last year to have him at home so much more than we were used to, but a shorter commute helps and so far it hasn’t been too disruptive. He will be taking longer trips in June, along with some big deadlines, so I’ll be taking the kids to Olympia for almost a month. I have to fly out on my own, which will be interesting, but we’re really excited to get to spend so much time out there and have the opportunity to see everyone at a more leisurely pace than normal.
Now that I’m finally healthy, I’ve gotten the routine of two kids down pretty well. I’ve been able to get back into the gym more regularly, which has been great. In an attempt to finally make friends out here, I joined the book club for the parents of Michael’s preschool class. I got a sewing machine for my birthday and started taking a class last week to learn how to use it. I have no experience whatsoever, so I’m a little out of my comfort zone, but it’s good for me. We also discovered a neighbor two houses down that has a little girl (with a boy on the way), so we’ve been going on little adventures around the neighborhood with them.
So, we’ll be keeping ourselves busy getting ready for nicer weather and our trip for the next couple weeks. It’s going to go by quickly and we’ll be on the plane before we know it! If you have time to read my mini-novel, here’s the update on the kids:
January 24th, 2010
I guess we've been a little busy considering it's been 4 months since the last update. I posted a lot of pictures that should give the general idea of what we've been up to lately. I'll just fill in the blanks here and try to be better about keeping up going forward.
So, we're keeping busy.... Tim and I are both doing well and surviving a very mild Michigan winter. Next up is our trip out to Washington for a nice long visit. We're excited to see everyone and introduce Sarah to her extended family out there. Wish us luck with two kids on a much longer flight than we're used to!
September 23rd, 2009
Oddly enough, not a lot has happened in the last month.... We're just making the adjustment of becoming a family of four and functioning on less sleep. Tim went back to work and Michael's school started back up the week after Labor Day. Grandma and Grandpa came out for a nice long visit in the end of August and Uncle Rob stopped by a few weeks ago. I'm getting used to juggling the needs of two kids when I have them on my own during the week and have been able to get them out of the house from time to time.
Sarah is coming up on 6 weeks now and is growing like a weed. About a month ago there was concern about her weight gain... She slept so much that she didn't really get enough to eat (she likes to sleep while eating), but we were able to correct that and her weight gain has been fine. She still likes to sleep while she's eating, so "meals" are a bit time consuming for me, but she's coming around on that a bit. They say 6 to 8 weeks is the peak of fussiness in newborns, so as long as she follows that time line we're in good shape. She really only fusses when she's hungry or has a gassy tummy. She'll let you know when she's bored, but is easily entertained. Like her brother, she doesn't like to fall asleep easily at night, so Tim is wearing a path in the carpet due to the 20 minutes of walking he has to do with her every night. She absolutely loves her baths. She'll just sit in the water, very quiet and calm, looking around at everything. She also really likes to be outside, so we go on walks as often as possible to get her out in the fresh air. All in all, things are going really well and she's an easy baby.
Michael adores his sister, but doesn't really know what to do with her. From time to time he'll ask how much longer until she grows up? He just really wants a playmate. For now, there's just lots of kissing in the head and talking to her. Since he was on the smaller side for so long, he wasn't really big enough for a bike, but with all this growing he's done since the spring, he was more than ready. He's been going on lots of rides around the neighborhood and has gotten really good. He did have a decent spill a couple weeks ago, but once he realized he was OK, he jumped right back on and kept going. We'll run out of clear sidewalks once it starts snowing, but there's room in the basement for practice during the winter.
Other than that, we're just enjoying having a fall for the first time in almost a decade and are getting ready for more visitors and the upcoming round of birthdays and holidays. Should be fun!
August 20th, 2009
Well, it's been a very busy week! Sarah Kathryn Tracey decided to be born last Friday, August 14th! Michael was napping and I was taking the time to rest, but had mentioned to several people that it felt like the baby was trying to punch her way out. A little before 3 pm, she apparently punched hard enough to break my water and we were off to the hospital....
By the time we got through triage and into a labor and delivery room it was about 5 pm. I wanted to see if I would start having more regular contractions on my own before starting the pitocin. Walking around actually brought everything to a halt, so around 7:30 they started me on the lowest dosage possible of pitocin. That got things going VERY quickly. The nurse was supposed to be upping the dosage every 15 minutes, but we all agreed that wasn't necessary. With the unexpected onset of labor, we had no coverage for Michael, so he was pretty much in the room the whole time. When things got painful, it was difficult because I didn't want to scare or worry him. He went to the nurses lounge while I got the epidural and impressed them with all his knowledge and skills.
Turns out I'd gotten myself to 8 cm w/o any drugs, so less than an hour later and four contractions of pushing (yes, I counted), Sarah made her grand entrance! She gave us a big cry and was perfectly healthy. She was 7 pounds even and 20 inches long.
Once everyone was cleaned up and settled, Michael got to come in and meet his baby sister. It was practically midnight, but he was so excited to see her and didn't want to go home. Fortunately, some friends were able to get to the hospital shortly before Sarah was born, so Michael got to play in the waiting room with them and Tim got to stay with me.
We had an uneventful hospital stay and were able to come home Sunday morning. Since all of us to date had been jaundice at birth, we had alerted the nurses and pediatricians to make sure we had a treatment plan in place prior to leaving the hospital if necessary. Her levels weren't off the chart, but we had they had a biliblanket delivered to the house and Sarah spent a couple days on the blue light to stay ahead of the jaundice. We actually had her second blood test yesterday morning and her levels had decreased and she's just fine now.
Sarah spends pretty much the entire day sleeping, including while she's eating. Once the jaundice was cleared up a bit, she did start to have waking periods. She prefers to be up between 11 pm to 2 am and 4 am to 6 am. We're clearly working on getting our nights and days back on track. :) As of yesterday, she was back to her birth weight and all systems are working properly. We have a very healthy little girl and couldn't be happier!
Michael adores his baby sister and kisses her head every time he gets close enough. He's been very gentle and good about listening to what he can and can't do with her. He was a little disappointed that she wasn't interested in all the things he wanted to show her just yet, but all in all, he's been very good with her. There's definitely going to be a transition period for him, but he's been getting a ton of good time in with Daddy this week and had already been signed up for "camp" at his school, which has worked out well. I think that once school is back on it's regular schedule after Labor Day, he'll be in the swing of things and will have a better grasp of no longer being an only child.
Prior to all this, Michael's big news was that he reached the 40 inch mark and hit 35 pounds! This puts him roughly 50th percentile for weight and between 50th & 75th for height. We had a lengthy discussion about whether this growth rate was healthy or not, so we're waiting for results of a blood test to make sure the growth hormone indicators aren't too high before making any changes in his medication. The doctor thinks that given the height of his parents, he could just be catching up to where he should be more rapidly at this point, or that maybe it just took his body this long to start to use the hormone efficiently. I'm not sure I buy that it took 15 month for his body to get used to the drug, but he's the expert. Regardless, this rate of growth can't be healthy if occurring for too long, so if he continues at this rate, we'll have to slow things down.
So, everyone is healthy and happy and adjusting to being a family of four. We couldn't be more excited about the future of our family!
July 24th, 2009
Where did July go? I think we blinked and there's only one week left! As you can see from all the pictures, we've had quite a few activities going on..... The 4th of July weekend at Grandma Lucy's, getting Michael's room finished and a last minute work trip that brought "Auntie" out our way for a long weekend. We've really been enjoying the summer, which everyone says has been mild weather, and getting to spend time with family and friends.
Michael just finished up a two week class of swimming and he loved it. We were told that the Y has a warm pool, so we tried that out. It was in fact warm, and it was the first time I've ever seen him play in the water like a normal kid. He clearly does have some sort of temperature regulation issues which we'll have to talk to the Endocrinologist about at our next visit. By the end of the two weeks he was swimming (assisted) with his face in the water, constantly putting his head all the way under when it wasn't his turn with the teacher, and even jumped into the pool all by himself on the last day when they got some time to play. I think we'll go back in the end of October for the next level of class. I'd really like him to be able to swim on his own by next summer.
On the medical front, I think I mentioned that the new Endocrinologist changed up some of his medication dosages back in April with the purpose of making the same low dose of growth hormone more effective. Well, it worked, and then some! We had a school check up with the new Pediatrician in the beginning of July, and in about three months he had grown just over three inches! I knew his pants were getting short and we could definitely tell he had been growing, but we had no idea it was that much. We go back into the Dr. in two weeks and I have a feeling we'll be reducing the growth hormone dose. He's pretty much going through a constant growth spurt and not only is it rough on his body, but it impacts his behavior from time to time. Jumping over 20 percentiles on the growth chart in three months isn't something they'll want him to be doing on a regular basis...
We all got to tour the hospital where the baby will be born last night. They do special "family tours" so the older siblings get to see where mom will have the baby in the hospital. Michael is so familiar with the hospital setting that he wasn't too impressed with any of it. He did attach himself to the tour guide and chat with her quite a bit. Unfortunately, it's not quite the luxury set up we had when Michael was born, but you always have your own room and it's only for 48 hours. Hopefully everything will go by the book and we'll be able to get back home as soon as possible.
I had a check up earlier this week and everything is on track and looks good as far as the pregnancy is concerned. Just five weeks and counting at this point! Less if I'm lucky, but those chances are slim without medical intervention. Michael loves going to my appointments because he can usually talk the nurses into letting him help take my blood pressure and the doctors always let him hold the doppler when they listen for the baby's heartbeat. Everyone in the office knows him....
June 29th, 2009
As you can see from the pictures, we're back to painting... We decided some things needed to be "fixed" sooner than later, so we're in house project mode again. After four years of working on the old house, we just can't seem to help ourselves. :) The good news is, we're pretty good at it and Michael is old enough to understand when he can and can't help, and gets really excited when he can. We did the family room and eating area in May, so it no longer looks like shades of a dirty diaper. Then we spent the first few weeks of June working on the baby's room. It still needs some minor decorating, but the "work" part of it is done. Michael, of course, loves the pink and flowers. It also got him really excited about getting his room done, so that got started this weekend. He chose a space/planet theme and we think it's going to turn out really nice. The biggest challenge is painting over the horribly painted dark blue trim in his room. It would be OK if they'd done a good job, but it looks terrible and you know how we are about details.... So, his room should be done in the next couple weeks and we may or may not attempt the kitchen before the baby is due. Then we'll just live for a while and not have projects. We'll deal with the rest of it later...
We have exactly two months until our baby girl is due, and we're all ready for her to be here! Since Michael is so fond of baby toys, I've been bringing things out here and there to let him play with everything in hopes that he'll be bored of them by the time the baby actually needs them. We've been having lots of discussions about what he can do to help the baby play and how to be gentle with the various toys and apparati. Hopefully his "training" will stick with him once she's actually here. If nothing else, going through all the stuff helped me figure out what we have and what we need to get ready to have an infant again.
Michael just finished up his first soccer experience and it went pretty well. He really enjoyed the drills and has been playing with us in the backyard quite a bit. The games weren't so much fun for him toward the end. He understood the concept of getting the ball and scoring a goal, but wasn't super aggressive in trying to get the ball. A couple of his teammates were a little more aggressive and did most of the scoring. Michael didn't like that so much and would tell us he wanted to "play in a better game." We took that to mean one where would have the ball to himself for scoring purposes. All in all, for a group of 3-year-olds, they did really well and it was a lot of fun for Tim and I to watch.
Next up is swimming lessons which start tonight. They have to be four before they can be in the pool w/o a parent, so Tim gets to go this time around. He's lucky though, it's an indoor heated pool instead of the ice cold death pool we had in CA. Hopefully Michael will enjoy it more as well. He dealt with the cold about the same as I did, which isn't saying much. After that, he really wants to learn to ice skate and play hockey. He asks about it all the time, and luckily we have one of the bigger ice rink facilities right down the road. He's also become quite the bike rider, so we think it's time for a "big boy" bike. He's probably been ready for one for a while, but we had no place to ride before and he wasn't too interested. His other big thing is learning how to play instruments. When we listed to music in the car he always wants to know what instrument is making that sound and when can he learn to play it. We'll probably start with piano and see if he really likes it or not, but that's a while out I think. Apparently we also have to set expectations that not everyone knows how to do everything there is to do. He has an idea that there's a specific age to learn how to do every activity on the planet, and although it's good to be well rounded, we'll have to narrow his interests at some point. :)
May 12th, 2009
Since the last update, we've pretty much just been getting settled into the house and learning the area a bit better. If you don't count the basement, the house is about 95% in order with just a couple little things left to do. The house and yard did need a little more TLC than we originally realized, so Tim has been keeping busy doing basic maintenance and getting the yard in decent shape. We also didn't realize how big the lot was.... it's huge compared to what we had in CA! Luckily, all the remodeling/upgrades we want to do can wait for a couple years. We're just going to do some repainting and live for awhile. Everyone needs a break from constant house projects....
Michael started soccer last weekend and we all had a great time! He was really good at listening to instructions and doing all the "drills" and skill building activities. We were actually kind of impressed with his skill level. I think that quite a few of the kids had just turned 3 or maybe hadn't had as much preschool as he has, so that gave him an advantage in the following directions arena. For the last 15 minutes they played a "game" against one of the other teams. It was highly entertaining.... Some of the kids understood the concept, others just watched the action and some tried to bring extra balls onto the field so they'd have one too. Michael was a combo of the last two activities, so we'll have to try and explain the concept to him a little before next weekend. We took some video, so as soon as I figure out the new camera, I'll post some clips on the site.
Michael is really enjoying being back in school. He goes 3 days a week now and they offer a program where they can even stay for lunch. That's a big deal for him... he really enjoys eating there with his friends. Once a week a woman comes in and does songs, stories and games in Spanish. He's actually getting a little vocabulary down and insists we use some of the Spanish at home. The discipline is a little relaxed compared to his previous school, so we're working on remembering how to behave properly at home.... There are so many other positive things about the school that it's not worth trying to move him for next year. Plus, they offer summer "camp" programs so he'll go for half days a couple weeks this summer as well. They'll have all sorts of field trips and he's really excited about it.
I'm counting down the last three and a half months until our baby girl is due. I haven't had any additional pregnancy issues since I over did it a bit during the move, so we're both healthy and doing well. The ultrasound showed that the baby is developing properly and on schedule, which was great news. Unfortunately, I've had a lot more of the unpleasant pregnancy symptoms than I did with Michael, so at times I don't feel great. I knew I had it easy with Michael, but I didn't appreciate it until now. I should have expected it though.... They always say no two pregnancies are the same, so having two easy ones would have been asking a bit much.
Michael and I actually had to go to Babiesrus last week so I could take an inventory of all the things I've forgotten that you need for an infant. It's amazing what you forget in three and a half years.... Michael was very excited about all the baby stuff and was showing me how he was going to bounce and swing the baby in the appropriate apparatus. From what I saw, we're definitely going to have to teach him to be more gentle and careful with the baby! He's very excited though, so it's pretty cute.
April 6 th, 2009
We've been pretty busy since my last update, but here's a quick rundown of what we've been up to....
· We finally made it to Washington for Christmas morning despite the series of flight cancellations. We got to spend time with both sides of the family and had a great visit.
· When we got home, the house had been listed for a couple days and within a week we had 5 or 6 offers to choose from. We didn't expect it to go that quickly, so it was kind of a shock and the relocation company made us do a lot of unnecessary repairs before they would buy it from us and take over dealing with the new owners. It kept Tim pretty busy in January.
· In the end of January we took a trip to MI to look for a new house. We'd done some online research and ended up making an offer on one of the houses we'd seen online. This area has held its real estate values better than a lot of places in the country, but we got a good deal on a house twice the size of our old one and had the whole transaction wrapped up before heading back to the west coast.
· In February, we just got ready to move across the country and saw all Michael's specialists for the last time before leaving the area. They were all sad to see him go, but gave us recommendations for new doctors in this area so we'd be set when we got there. Moving across the country was a little more work than anticipated.... It wasn't like moving up and down the west coast, which had been my only experience in the past. I'm sure part of it had to do with having a child and being pregnant. In the end, everything worked out once we got the timing sorted out and it was pretty smooth from the CA end.
· Erica also came down for a last CA visit. We had a great time and went to Knott's Berry Farm one more time before moving. We tried Disneyland, but the lines just to buy tickets were way too long. Michael didn't freak out or even fuss when we left. He's pretty agreeable when we have company... The next day, he wore Erica out by making her dance and play with him all morning. It made me tired just to watch, but they had a great time!
· So, we had to be out of the house in the last week of February, but didn't close on the new house until March 13 th. Tim still had to work in CA, so Michael and I flew up to stay with Grandma and Grandpa while Tim and Riley stayed in CA. Luckily, we were able to find flights from each end that landed in Detroit within a half hour of each other. It made getting here so much more convenient...
· While Michael and I were up north, we got to visit with lots of family and friends. Tim flew up with us for the first weekend and we got to meet Michael's new cousin, Samantha. She was a sweet little girl that just slept the whole time we were there. She even cooperated while we went out to lunch with Grandpa Dave, Nana, Melanie and Eric. We were glad to be able to see everyone because I don't think we'll be back out west for quite a while.
· We also got to spend several days with my friend Katie and her girls, Natalie and Courtney. Michael adores the girls and they all played together really well. They're all getting to the age where Katie and I even got to have a conversation now and then. It was great to catch up!
· After two weeks, we had to say goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa. All things considered, Michael was pretty good during that part of the transition, and it was hard to leave. He keeps asking when we're going to go live at their house again. I'm thinking that solo visits while mom and dad get away may be possible in the near future. J
· So, that brings us to the middle of March and closing on the new house. We needed to have some work and cleaning done before we could actually move in, so we lived in a hotel for about a week and a half. Tim had to start working right away, so Michael and I were on our own in the hotel. Luckily we found a gym with a kid's area right away and did some other errands to learn the area. We would have gone stir crazy just sitting in the hotel all day... The weather was OK and we even had some warm days. No snow or rain, so getting around was easy.
· We finally got to move into the new house and get all our stuff back after living out of suitcases for almost a month! Everything showed up and nothing major was broken or damaged, so we called is a success. Unpacking has been slow... I overdid it a bit on moving day and ended up having to go see my OB for an unscheduled visit. She put me on restricted activity for a couple weeks, but did an ultrasound and nothing is wrong with the baby or me. It just means I need Tim to help me do almost everything around the house, which is fun for both of us...
So that brings us to April.... Tim actually has his first trip back to CA for work this week and we're getting our first real snow here in Michigan. It's pretty windy, so Michael and I didn't stay out too long. Surprisingly, Riley actually liked it. He used to hate going outside in the rain, so I wasn't expecting him to tolerate snow very well.
Michael had his first appointment with his new Endocrinologist last Friday and he's still growing at a great rate. Getting his specialized oral suspension compound medicine is a little more difficult out here, so the new Dr. wants to have him start taking the pills. The dosage works out to a half a pill twice a day, and luckily they're pretty small pills. I'm hoping chocolate milk will entice him into taking them. We'll have to see how it goes.
His last MRI (February) was clear and it's almost been two and a half years since his surgery. Dr. McComb actually said Michael is pretty much in the clear at this point regarding regrowth of the tumor. I almost did a cartwheel in the exam room. This is the guy that made a 95% chance of no regrowth seem bad because they're so cautious in what they'll tell you. To hear him say we're in the clear was a huge weight off our shoulders! We'll start seeing a new Neurosurgeon out here this fall to keep track of everything and probably will for a couple more years.
Other than that, we're just learning the area and finding things to do. Michael starts a new preschool next week and he's very excited about it. He misses his school and gym friends from CA, so I think it will really help his transition to be back in school. He's also going to do some classes this spring. Soccer and swimming for sure, and maybe a gymnastics or dance class as well. He's REALLY into dancing these days and it's great for coordination. I have my 20 week ultrasound next week as well. Hopefully the baby will cooperate and we'll be able to find out if it's a boy or girl. Michael is sure it's a sister, but I think it's a boy. I'm pretty much wrong about every gut feeling I have about that kind of stuff, so we'll see if Michael is any better at it than I am. One of us has to be right, so we're good either way....
I'll be better about updates now that we're settled and will probably start taking more pictures again. It's been a crazy 4+ months for us!
Instead of being in La Conner getting ready for Christmas, we're stuck at home hoping our flight out on Christmas morning doesn't get canceled like our previous two scheduled flights did. At least we're stuck at home vs being in an airport and aren't buried in snow like so many other families! We already did our little family Christmas morning and took down the tree and other decorations in preparation for our departure. So, we're just hanging out at home happy to be warm and not dealing with the crowds trying to get last minute shopping done. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we'll make it to Grandma & Grandpa's for Christmas morning and get to spend New Year's Eve with Nana and Grandpa Dave. (New Year's Eve is also known as the Earth's Birthday - try explaining it to a 3-yr-old....)
It's been a while, so here's the rundown.... On the medical front, Michael is officially in the 25th percentile for height, so he's still making good growth progress. No changes on the Endocrine side of things. He also had his annual Neuro-Ophthalmologist check up earlier this month, and the prognosis is fantastic. He has very good vision and since he follows instructions so well for his age, they were already able to determine that his existing optic nerve damage has not caused any real issues with his sight. Last year they were worried about peripheral vision, but they don't expect him to have any noticeable impairment, which was a relief! We go in for an MRI in the end of February and see the Neurosurgeon in March. We'll be close to the 2.5 year mark, so a clean scan will mean we're almost totally out of the woods!
We got to spend almost a whole week at the Sisler's for Thanksgiving. Michael had a great time with his cousins and him being 3 instead of 2 made it much easier on us. I was pretty sick and just slept for the first three days, but we had a great Thanksgiving and got to see Katie play in a soccer tournament on our drive home. When we got home, we got the house all decorated for Christmas before Tim had to go back to work, so it was a really full week.
The next weekend, Erica and Zach came for a visit. We didn't have any grand SoCal plans, so we got to have a nice relaxing visit. Since it was so warm, a beach trip was in order and everyone got to play in the sand. Since Erica was down for work, we picked her up and dropped her off locally. This brought up a lot of questions for Michael.... We had to do lots of reinforcing that Erica didn't work so close to our house all the time and this was a special trip she made for work. He was pretty miffed that she seemed to work so close yet this was the first he'd heard of it. Finally, she was allowed to return home so Zach wouldn't be lonely. :)
There is a piece of significant news.... Even though no one believes us when we talk about moving to Michigan because we've been talking about it for so long, it's actually, really happening. Our house was officially put up for sale today and Tim is schedule to start working in the Ann Arbor location in the middle of March. It's an awful time to be selling a house, especially considering when we bought, but we're not upside down on it and the relocation policy allows for some assistance in cases of market decline, so we'll be OK. We won't get back Tim's blood, sweat and tears, but we wouldn't be able to sell it if he hadn't made all the improvements. So, we're off on a new adventure and are looking forward to raising a family in an environment that is a little more conducive to doing so for us. We'll probably be making a trip out east in January to get the lay of the land and start looking for a house. It will be my first taste of a Michigan winter, so I'm sure I'll be in for a climate shock!
So, we'll be spending Christmas Eve repacking for our trip and getting the house ready to be shown while we're on vacation. We're trying to downplay it for Michael because he's beyond overstimulated as it is and needs to recover from this head cold he's been fighting for a couple days. If we just don't tell him it's the night before Christmas and we're supposed to get on a plane in the morning, he'll never know.....
Happy Holidays to everyone and we're wishing you a wonderful 2009!
Well, we had a great Halloween, as expected and have been keeping ourselves plenty busy since then. We've discovered that Michael loves to hike, so we've been exploring the kid friendly nature/hiking trails in the area. It's a great family activity and we'll be doing it as much as possible (as soon as the air quality clears up from this weeks fires).
Michael really enjoys school and had no trouble with the transition to a new teacher and new classroom. He especially likes the days he gets to stay for a couple extra hours and gets to have lunch at school and then special activities. I also especially like those days because I can get more things done! Tim has been VERY busy with work, but after this week it should slow down a little bit. We've had more time together on the weekends since the house has been done, but we miss him during the week..... I'm finally into my training routine and may actually be able to run the entire half marathon. We'll see how my knee holds up. One successful 4 mile training run does not mean I'll be up to 13 in two and a half months.
Michael spent all afternoon throwing up, which wasn't fun for anyone. He must have a fast moving stomach virus because he was able to keep water and bagels down before bed. We still had to give him the big intramuscular shot this afternoon, but since he's keeping fluids down we got to skip a visit to the ER. Hopefully a couple days of rest at home will have him back to his usual active self. I'm a little nervous with Tim going on a test trip tomorrow... Last time Michael had this kind of illness, we both got it less than 24 hours later. I can handle Michael sick on my own and I can be sick on my own, but I'm hoping I don't have to deal with both of us sick by myself!
Other than that, we're getting ready for our Thanksgiving trip to visit the Sisler clan, which we're really looking forward to. Tim is taking the whole week off, so we get to spend more time out there. Crossing our fingers for a healthy family and mild weather for traveling!
Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible during the holiday season!
So much has happened since the last update that I kind of have to do bullet points in order to avoid writing a full blown novel. I'm not the most brief person you all know....
Of course, there's still a ton of excitement in the air because of Halloween. I'll have pumpkin patch and trick-or-treating pictures to post next week, I'm sure!
It's been a busy couple weeks in the Tracey household.... Michael started preschool last week and loves it! From what I can tell, he was ready for it. He's very social and helps bring some of the other kids out of their shells and he's doing pretty well at following directions and doing what he's supposed to be doing. I don't think a lot of "learning" is going on just yet, but at this age, figuring out the boundaries and routine, as well as listening to people other than mom and dad is really the point. It's only two days a week for three hours each day at this point, but he needs to be with other people and it's a nice little break for me.
This past weekend we drove up to San Francisco to visit our friend Chris. We haven't seen him in ages and it was funny that we ended up spending our 5th anniversary with the person who married us. I kind of forgot about our anniversary when I scheduled the trip, but it clearly worked out like it was supposed to. We had to do kid-centric things, but they have a great zoo up there and we stumbled upon an open to the public time at AT&T Field. We got to go in and run the bases and take in the ball park. It was pretty cool. It was a quick trip, but it was nice to see how well Chris is doing and spend some time away from home.
Tim has been spending very long hours doing all the finishing work in the bathroom. We had a couple unforeseeable setbacks, but we should be ready to move back into it early next week. Tim will have completely rebuilt this entire house in about 3.5 years. I'll have to create a before and after slide show. You'd never believe what this place looked like before!
My photography class is going well. Until the last couple weeks, I'd never developed my own film or printed my own photographs. I also don't have a lot of experience with black and white photography, so I'm learning all sorts of new things. The fact that it's an actual class can be troublesome... I had to take it as a credit/no credit class so I wouldn't get too caught up in trying to get a good grade. It also requires time in the dark room outside of class time, so I've been using Michael's time in school for that. It does mean Tim gets to come home at a decent time the two nights I have class, which gives him more time with Michael and hopefully some time to himself.
We've also taken on training for the Carlsbad Marathon which is this January. Tim is running the full marathon and I'm sticking to the half. I'd love to run the whole thing, but that will depend on how my knee takes to the training. I haven't run consistently in almost 5 years, and I may have to back off and walk some or most of it.
So, we have plenty on our plates and will spend the next couple weeks getting ready for my family to come for a visit as well as Michael's third birthday party. Should keep us on the move and having fun!
We saw Michael's Endocrinologist last week for our regular three month check up and we have more growing news! He's grown 2 inches since our last visit for a total of 4 inches in less than 6 months! She was all ready to up his daily dosage until she realized that's 8 inches a year at this pace, which is more than enough at his age. He is now 36 inches, which puts him just under the 25th percentile mark, and more importantly, tall enough for a lot more rides at the local theme parks!
He's also just under the 25th percentile for weight these days. I was worried I was going to get in "trouble" because he's not really gaining weight these days and had been told that weight gain would be good. Two things in my favor here... One, his height and weight are pretty much the same percentile, and two, the cast on his arm boosted his weight enough to keep me out of trouble. I explained he eats a ton and I feed him when ever he asks for food, I just don't give him junk on a regular basis and he's so active he just burns it right off. She didn't seem as concerned this time, but told me at least a pound every three months would be better than his current pattern. I'm going to have to start giving him lots of water before weigh-in's in the future! :)
Well, I was officially inducted into the league of having fearless young boys this weekend.... Tim was in Chicago for a wedding and Michael and I were on our own. Sunday afternoon we were at his favorite park and he was playing in the "big kid" area that he prefers to the more age/size appropriate play structures. When he's climbing I'm usually right there to make sure he's not going to fall - a couple of the ladders are pretty high. He's been climbing these things for months, I guess I've become a little less diligent b/c my couple feet of distance was too far away to catch him as he fell about four feet off a ladder and into the sand....
Instant crying. I asked him what was wrong and he said he had a big owie. I asked where and he said his arm and hand. Quick look to the right arm and it looked normal. Left arm check made me scoop him up and run to the car. Clearly something NOT right above his elbow. It looked like the elbow could have been dislocated. Under most circumstances, an injury of this type is more uncomfortable than anything until it can be fixed, but in Michael's case, it's not that easy. Under any sort of traumatic stress, he needs the shot of the steroid his body doesn't produce on his own since the tumor was removed. Because I wanted his arm tended to ASAP, instead of going home, I went to the local ER. Assuming they'd be able to administer the shot as well as diagnose the specific injury to the arm more quickly than me going home to administer the shot and then go to the ER.
To make a long story short, I had to be very persistent in order to get him seen and the ER was unfortunately busy with quite a few very serious cases. I was in panic mode and a mess for having let him fall, not having the medication with me in the first place, and being on my own. He was x-rayed pretty quickly and confirmed a broken bone and before he was showing any signs of illness, he received the shot. OK, everything is fine now - it's just a broken arm and we'll get a cast that will cause inconvenience for a while and be sent on our way.
Nope. Things can't be that easy.... His break was going to require surgery to repair along with several pins. I was told that his growth plate had been broken as well and that a complication is that it doesn't heal correctly and that part of his arm could end up never getting any longer. That is the point I had to really compose myself. "It's a complication, not a diagnosis" is what I was repeating to myself when I started to feel my chest get tight. By this time, Tim was on his way back from Chicago (a day early) and my parents had tickets on the first flight down the next morning. Michael had been scheduled for surgery at 9:30 that night, but we had to transfer to Long Beach Memorial b/c the local hospital didn't have Orthopedics for Pediatrics. Michael had been splinted and was on pain medication, so he was just fine and was somewhat interested in the ambulance ride we got to take to the new hospital.
We got moved into his room and I was bombarded by several nurses and residents. Emergency surgery calls for lots of information to be given and paperwork to be completed in a very short period of time, and his Endocrine issues were causing lots of additional leg work and communication with Michael's medical "team" up in LA. The OR was waiting for us to get situated, so we didn't get to meet the surgeon until we got to pre-op. She got her first look at the films and was explaining the procedure to me, which would hopefully not even require an incision. It was very basic, and even if an incision was required, it was going to be short and routine. I asked how badly his growth plate had been broken and for the first time, someone told me the break was above the plate and there was no damage there. She was lucky to be on the other side of the bed b/c I would have tackled her! We were back to a more standard broken arm again and I couldn't have been happier. The only issue was general anaesthesia, which I HATE. (Not that anyone enjoys the risks associated with it....)
So, Michael was taken into the OR, the surgeon was back out to tell me everything went great and no incision was necessary less than 45 minutes later and I was called into Recovery immediately to be with him. He looked great and all his vitals were perfect. We got back into his room and when he woke up he wanted to use the bathroom, eat and drink right away. Everyone showed up as planned on Monday morning and we ended up just waiting around all day for everyone to get their acts together and get us discharged. The surgeon was ready to release us by 7 am, the Endocrine team spoke with us at noon and had a discharge plan in place. However, it took until about 7 pm for us to actually be released. We started asking questions and pushing around 2 and it took the surgeon, who stumbled upon us around 5:30, to get really involved in order for everyone else to get their acts together and get us released. It was pretty concerning that the communication between specialist groups and the family was so poor, but Michael was fine, so at the end of the day, that's all the matters.
Tim went to work today and Michael has been keeping the rest of us occupied at home. He's in no pain and hasn't even had any basic motrin since yesterday afternoon (about 12 hours post-op). He's been very brave and tough through the entire ordeal. He's even already getting used to only having one arm and knows his limitations very well. This is very good b/c the arm needs to be pretty stabilized in order for the pins to stay in place and have the bone heal properly. At the end of the day, the special attention and unexpected visitors may have been worth the broken arm to him. :) Perhaps, someday sooner than later, I will decrease my own level of trauma and realize kids fall and break bones - that's just the way it goes. You don't get a pass even if you've beat a brain tumor....
Oh, I also learned, the hard way, that no matter where we go (even just down the street) I must always have all of Michael's medical information and emergency medicines and instructions with me. It sounds obvious after the fact, but it would have saved a lot of stress... Live and learn.
First, we saw Dr. McComb on Tuesday and he agreed with the Radiologist - everything looks great and the same as it has since the "extraction" over a year and a half ago. Great news!!! We've graduated to having MRIs and follow-ups every 9 months instead of 6. The standard schedule would have him going every 6 months for an other year and a half, but it doesn't appear to be necessary in Michael's case. If nothing is visible after starting growth hormone treatment we're in pretty good shape. An other milestone and we couldn't be more relieved!
We got back last weekend from a visit to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Tim and my dad spent the majority of the time finishing part of the wine cellar/basement, which was a lot more work than anyone anticipated. They did a great job! Michael, Grandma and I got to do some relaxing and every day pre-shcooler based activities. Michael followed Grandma everywhere she went and I was completely unnecessary. I think I was the only one who got a break - everyone else ended up with more work. :)
We all got to go to the annual 4th of July party and my aunt and uncle's house - posted pictures of that. My uncle drove in the vintage races that weekend as well, so we let the guys out of the basement for some car time. :) I got to see my friend Katie for the first time in way too long and we got to meet each other's kids. Michael is still talking about his new friends and wants to go back to their house soon. On this trip, Erica and Zach made quite the impression on Michael as well. He's especially excited that they'll be joining Grandma and Grandpa in October for his next trip to Disneyland. He keeps talking about all the things he needs to show them.
On their road trip down south, Grandpa Dave, Nana and Great Grandparent's Tony and Jane stopped for a visit. We went to a park near the capitol and the lake, which was a great setting on such a warm and sunny day. Michael got to run around and impress everyone with all his general "skills" while the adults got to chat and enjoy the day.
So, now we're home until the holidays start up and we (Tim) have to finish remodeling the master bath. I think we're going to step up the schedule a bit to get it done sooner than later. With his long hours at work, it's just too much for him to have to spend time on the weekend doing construction. The sooner we can get it done and behind us, the better. Plus, Michael has become more and more of a Daddy's Boy over the past couple months and wants to spend every waking moment with him. It's getting hard to hold him off when Tim has to work on the house....
So, we've been going through potty training since March. Michael caught on to the pee process quickly and with minimal accidents. I just focused on that for a while and things went ridiculously well. Poo, on the other hand, was something he chose to fight us on. In a moment of desperation, I promised I would take him to visit the Princesses where they lived if he stopped using diapers. (He's in a big princess phase these days....) After changing techniques a couple times and coming up with the visual chart for him, it worked. As of yesterday, we were three weeks without diapers and I held up my end of the bargain. Perks of living in the area can be few and far between, but promising this type of reward w/o paying for airfare and hotel is definitely one of them! We were a little apprehensive about going on a weekend during the summer, but it worked out pretty well and I wouldn't have had Tim miss it in order to go on a weekday with smaller crowds.
The pictures I posted tell the majority of the story and we got some video as well. If I can get that downloaded I'll try to post some of that soon.... As parents, I think our favorite part was when he met Cinderella. You have to wait in a line and then you get to go meet several of the princesses in a one on one kind of environment. There's clearly a time constraint and you have to be moved from one to the next in order to keep the line moving. However, Cinderella took a really long time talking to Michael, asking him all sorts of questions and making it a great experience for him. She even gave him a kiss (w/ lipstick evidence) and asked if he would like to meet one of her friends and actually walked him over to the next princess. It was really sweet to watch and I could have hugged her myself for taking the time to make him feel so special....
Luckily we got there pretty early and got to go on some rides before the lines got too long. There's not a ton of rides that are really appropriate for his age, so we stuck to the basics for little kids. He's still really into carousel's and there's never a line for those, so that was a major plus for us. We skipped lots of things b/c of long lines, but we didn't really have time to do them anyway - it would take days to get through the entire park. We had a great lunch in the French Quarter area and got to watch the parade on Main Street. Michael really enjoyed the parade.... the music was pretty loud, so I couldn't always hear what he was saying, but he had a lot to say about it and had a lot of fun.
Overall, it was a great experience. Tim and I aren't really big Disneyland people, but we really enjoyed ourselves and definitely loved watching Michael experience it all. We'll have to spend some more time there on a weekday when the older kids are back in school....
In other news, Tim spent all day yesterday tiling the shower in the master bath. I can't believe he got it all done in one day, and it looks great! The cabinets we ordered come in this week, so now we'll really get to make some progress. This is the last room in the house to be redone, and we can't wait to be done and just enjoy life w/o any major house projects hanging over our heads. (By we, I mean Tim.... he has to do all the actual work.) It will have been over three years in the making, and I'll have to make a before and after photo album to show everything Tim has been able to do. You'd never look at the before pictures and believe that one person could do so much work on his own. Needless to say, I'm very lucky. :)