Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Sad Goodbye

Smudge suddenly appeared to be in great distress yesterday afternoon: yowling, cringing in the corner and having problems walking. We took her to our local vet who then recommended we take her to the animal ER a few towns over. Both the local vet and the ER vet said that Smudge appeared to be having some sort of neurological issue. She'd lost control of her bladder twice, once at each vet and was extremely upset and disoriented unless holding absolutely still. The first vet noted that one of her legs did not respond to pain and the other one just barely. The second vet noted this and also that she did not react to stimuli to her face and did not seem to "know where her hind legs were." The second vet said that it was possible she had a brain tumor or meningitis or something else entirely but that they'd have to perform an MRI to see...and if that showed nothing, they'd have to do a spinal tap. The cost for the diagnostic tests alone were looking to run upwards of $3000-4000 with a high likelihood of showing her case to be terminal anyway. So it was with a breaking heart that I decided to go ahead and have her put to sleep. The vet said that she agreed it was the best course of action. It was so awful because Smudge had been fine just that morning!!! Theron, Sylvie and I were able to say a final goodbye and we were there with her when she got the overdose of sedative. This was the first time in my life that I was there...that I had to make the final decision and it is really, truly awful. I sobbed the whole time and here I am going again dammit. Maybe some of you might think well she was just a cat, but she really was one of the sweetest, most loving creatures I've ever known. Even people who didn't like cats liked Smudge. She was my friend for over 11 years and I so wish we could have done more to help her get better.

Goodbye sweet kitty. I love you very much.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why living in Taxachusset is a GOOD thing aka the post with many abbreviations

Sorry for leaving it so long between updates, especially after the events of this past September. At least I'm sure you all know that no news is good news, right? Anyway, Sylvie is doing fantastically well and is pretty much fully recovered from her surgery. Most of the swelling is gone and the scar is healing nicely. We saw the pediatrician today and she recommended rubbing Mederma on the scar to help fade it. We saw the cardiologist last week and he had Sylvie's chest xrayed --which she hates with a PASSION--for the zillionth time. She fought so hard during the xrays that two adults (me and a tech) couldn't hold her still so they finally had to put her in a contraption that enclosed her torso and forced her arms up over her head. She was seriously pissed about that and I certainly didn't care for it but it was necessary to get clear xrays. Upon review of the films, the doctor said it appeared that although he couldn't hear it through the stethoscope, she still had some excess fluid in her lungs. Not a big deal but she has to continue taking the Lasix and we're to go back and see him in another month.

How
many therapists?
Because of Sylvie's Noonan's diagnosis and because of the developmental delays that can be associated with such a diagnosis, Sylvie has been seeing an occupational therapist (OT) and a developmental specialist. She also recently started seeing a physical therapist (PT) ans a speech therapist (ST). Each of these therapists comes for one hour, one day a week. All of this is through Early Intervention (EI). EI services are only provided up til age 3 when the public school system takes over and Sylvie has been receiving them since she was about 10 months. Payment is based on income bracket and ours is a whopping $60 for the year. She also attends a 2.5 hr playgroup every Monday through EI...they even provide a bus service that takes her to and from the playgroup. Not bad, eh? We also have begun attending a free, once a week music and movement class through the Malden/Everett Family Network. The class is 1.5hrs and they give us lunch! And a new toy (so far a mini kickball and a cheapie electric drum) every week!

On the advise of EI, we also recently had Sylvie assessed by Building Blocks. If you click on the link you'll see that they specialize in kids who are on the autism spectrum. We decided to do the assessment because Sylvie seemed to be displaying a few of the red flags associated with autism; seeming to become less, rather than more, verbal and less willing to make eye contact. There was nothing terribly off, but we thought it would be better to get it checked. The lady who did the evaluation said that while Sylvie has many strong skills she would like to see her socializing better and engaging in more imaginative play. She says that while she does not think Sylvie is autistic, she believes that she has Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDDnos) A diagnosis which is often given when all the criteria for autism or Asperger's syndrome have not been met but the child's difficulties are of the kind found within the spectrum of autistic disorder. As a result, on top of the 4 EI therapists she sees weekly, Sylvie will now have a 5th therapist working with her 2hrs a day, 3 days a week! When I mentioned this new diagnosis to her pediatrician today the doctor was incredulous, saying that Sylvie does not seem at all like any of her other patients with PDDnos. She also said that she thinks PDDnos is often "diagnosed" just so a kid can get the services. All I know is that enough people who are experts on child development have suggested that Sylvie would benefit from such services, so since she's getting 'em, we're taking 'em!

As I stated earlier, these services will only continue until Sylvie turns 3 whereupon it becomes the public school system's responsibility to address any delays or difficulties she may still have. There is a practically brand new preschool just a little over a mile away from us that from all reports is excellent. It opened just 4 years ago and is solely a preschool. Apparently the waiting list to get into this place is huge but because of Sylvie's "special needs" she gets an automatic spot. We had a meeting with the school just last week so they could assess Sylvie and see just what kind of needs she might have that would need to be addressed and we're supposed to go back sometime next month to go over their findings and create an Indivual Education Plan (IEP) for when Sylvie turns 3 and begins to attend the school. Hard to believe, but she'll be 3 in just over 4 months!

All of this talk of Sylvie's delays/issues/special needs sounds a lot scarier and upsetting then it is. I believe that our girl is one smart cookie and I doubt very much that these "delays" will have any effect on Sylvie achieving whatever she sets out to do in life. Sylvie has actually been a lot better about making eye contact and she is FINALLY starting to put two words together, if only rarely: "sing me" "help me". Though she may not be making sentences yet, her vocabulary is really rather extensive. She doesn't shy away from multisylliballic words, thats for sure : Heh'copter! Ock'puss! 'Nocerous! and though I haven't heard it myself, Theron claims she's said Ridiculous! several times...probably quoting from her Teletubbies book that has been loved almost to shreds. She quotes from it constantly saying "jabberjabberjabber 'tubbies jabber jabber veh much. Bih' Hug!" (Translation: Teletubbies love each other, very much. Big Hug!) She's really into fish right now and when Theron took her to the aquarium this past weekend, she was ecstatic, pointing in the tank and saying, "shock! tuh'tul! FISH!" Theron even called and left me a message so I could hear her excitedly naming the various sea creatures but sadly there was too much background noise for me to make it out.

Watch the video below to see Sylvie naming her sea creature magnets!

video

Saturday, October 20, 2007

POTTY TRAINING...Hooray#1!

**WARNING: possible TMI ahead!**

This afternoon we had the first successful "deposit" in the potty...and also the SECOND!!! While she didn't exactly indicate that she needed to go, the air had become perfumed with "the funk" (as we like to call it) and she was squatting and grunting a bit so I ran her to the potty. Once seated, nothing happened for a few minutes so I distracted her with Where is Thumbkin? until --at last!--the pooping commenced. I clapped and cheered for her and as she is very self affirming, she clapped for herself also. She started grunting again about 40 minutes later so I put her back on the potty and although she did get a few nuggets out before she was seated, most of it went where it should. Much clapping and cheering again ensued. Yay, POOP!!! in the POTTY!!! NO DON'T TOUCH IT!!!

*flussssh*

Friday, October 19, 2007

Welcome to the world, Wee Cousin Wallis!

Congratulations to Chad and Lindsey on the birth today of their son, Carmine Dante!!! He was born at 9:30 am this morning weighing in at 8lbs 7oz and measuring 20" long. (I'll add a photo once the proud parents have a chance to get some posted.) Much love to you all and we can hardly wait to meet the little guy!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

POTTY TRAINING Day #1

Current score:
Oopses 3
Hurrays 0

So one trial is over and a new one begins...the dreaded potty training! We started off the morning watching a DVD called "It's Potty Time." Then I put her in some big girl undies (which are really much too big altho they were the smallest I've been able to find). So far today, we've had a poop and 2 pees...none of which was in the potty. However, I have been able to get Sylvie to sit on her potty for upwards of 10 minutes at a go by reading to her. I am plying her with peanut butter and goldfish to amp up her thirstiness and keeping her sippy cup at the ready. Also at the ready: paper towels & antibacterial wipes! I'll try and post further updates as events warrant.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sylvie's Surgery Care Page. Read the daily updates.


(Theron filling in for Paige) With no allowance of cell phone usage and spotty wireless internet reception inside the ICU, we haven't had a lot of contact with the outside world for updates on Sylvie's condition. We are sorry about that. Paige started up a Care Page (you'll have to create an account first) for Sylvie where we can update on the odd moment we can get away from the room. Invites for the page were sent out to everyone we could think of...only to find out lots of folks never got them. So if you are interested, take this time to jump over to the Care Page and read the details as the unfold.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy *28th* Auntie Manda!

Long overdue update

Hi all.
I know I've really not been great about keeping up with the blogging for several months now and when I have it's been mostly "hey look what I can do" type stuff when I know that all you really want to see is "hey look what Sylvie can do!"

The answer to that is A LOT.

She's like a little monkey these days, climbing on and off furniture and up and down stairs...with supervision of course. She loves running around in our back yard or taking a stroll around the block. Unfortunately, she also loves picking things up off the floor/ground: hair, rocks, dirt, sand, lint, paper...this kid will eat almost anything if I don't keep an eagle eye on her. Even if I do keep a close watch, she's so quick that I still have spent time scooping crud out of her mouth. GAH! I hope this phase ends soon. I understand that small children learn a great deal via sensations but I just wish our child didn't favor so many new 'taste sensations' of non-food items!

She has long been over her Elmo obsession and now prefers the Teletubbies. She'll drag me to the TV at various times of day demanding, "Tubbies! Tubbies!" and I have to explain to her again that we don't have Tivo or On Demand (or cable) like our friends so we can only see the Tubbies at their regularly scheduled time. I fear this mostly goes over her head at this point though, heh. She doesn't much care for when the Tubbie tummy TV segment happens, but she performs her signature dance move (spinning in a circle) when they do their little synchronized dance. She has a Po doll that she loves and calls "Tubbie" and a Teletubbie book that she never tires of having read to her.

When she sees her reflection she says "Sylvie!" and when she's in the mood, she loves to give kisses. She'll turn your face to hers and purse her lips while making an 'mmm' sound. After you kiss her, she'll push your face away, then turn it back to her and repeat the process, sometimes several times in a row.

Her two most favorite toys right now are Bruin Bear and her Touch and Teach Busy Books. She asks for--and will play with--these all day long if we let her. It was a little monotonous for me at first but now I can pretty much block them out. (They tend to make Theron a little crazy however.)


My least favorite subject that I can't stop talking about
Surgery day (Sept 24) fast approaches...too fast and yet not fast enough. I don't want it to happen at all, but since it has to I want it to be OVER. We got our "Congratulations! Your child will be having open heart surgery with us soon!" packet in the mail from the hospital recently. It contained several brochures on the various areas of the hospital that we'll be intimately acquainted with. Sylvie's pre-op appointment in Sept 21 and will last 6-8 hours as they do various tests which may include while not limited to: echocardiogram, EKG, chest x-ray, blood work, cardiac MRI and lung scan. We will also meet with members of the cardiovascular team (which may include): cardiologist, nurse practitioner, cardiac anesthesia, cardiac surgeon and child life specialist. If we so desire (which I think we will) we'll be able to tour the Cardiac ICU and Cardiac Step-Down Unit. Sounds like a fun-filled day doesn't it? Then we get to go home and spend the weekend trying not to lose our shit.

While we can't help but be freaked out about the upcoming surgery, we are comforted by the knowledge that Children's Hospital Boston is a leader in the field of cardiovascular surgery, and they have a site specifically to help children and their families cope. It also helps that I have friends whose children also had surgical procedures performed there who have shared their experiences with me and have told me that both the staff and the care that their kids received were exemplary.

You can help support Children's Hospital by donating here.

In other hospitalization news
Sylvie's second cousin Abby came home today after being released from the hospital. She was admitted this past week with dangerously high blood sugar and later diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. Luckily, she's recovering nicely and seems to be dealing with the necessary life changes remarkably well for such a young lady. As someone who is needle-phobic (especially when I was a kid) I know I would have been a basket case! Welcome home Abby and know that you've got a lot of people praying for you :)

Please donate today to help fund diabetes research.


On a much happier note
Theron and I have FINALLY gotten new bedroom furniture. For those of you who don't know, we've been sleeping on our mattress and boxspring directly on the floor for over a year. We've really wanted a platform bed and weren't having much luck finding one we liked in stores so we scoured the internet until we found a great deal on 3 pieces of this set. We got the bed, the 5 drawer chest and a 2 drawer nightstand which just arrived last week.

Sylvie has some newish furniture too! We found a used set for less than a quarter of the retail price on craigslist thanks to our friend Marla. She had just acquired the same set (for $10!) on craigslist and Sylvie really liked it when we visited on Friday and she (Marla) told me she'd seen another set available. According to the guy we got it from, his family had owned it for 8 years and 4 kids and yet the thing looks hardly used at all now that Theron scrubbed off the crayon marks...for Sylvie to replace with her own!

Snake Bouquet - my second featured design on shirt.woot!

Check it out here. $10 today only, then still available for a limited time for $15.


(Non-shirt design related post coming soon, I promise.)

Monday, August 06, 2007

You wanna piece of me?!

Then buy my shirt : Sci-Fi Weenie Roast! Get it today to lock in the low, low price of $10! (Tomorrow it goes up to $15)


*UPDATE aka Wa-HOOO!*

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

SCARFACE pictures, yay!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy *!60th!* Birthday G'pa Dave!

Is it just me or does he look more and more like Wilford Brimley (albeit thinner and with more hair)? Eat all the Quaker Oats you want dad, but please try not to get the diabeetus, m'kay?

Love ya!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Just call me SCARFACE

Today I went and had a small cyst excised from the side of my face. It wasn't a huge lump, but it had the potential to grow so I figured it would be better to remove it before it got any bigger. When I consulted with the dermatologist initially, he wanted to make sure I understood that removing the cyst WOULD LEAVE A SCAR. No, really?!

He told me it shouldn't be a big scar, maybe about a centimeter or so, but for some reason he kept saying it over and over. He asked me if I was really sure I'd prefer the scar over the lump and I said heck yeah because then I can tell people I got it in a fencing duel.

*CAUTION: If you are easily grossed out you might want to skip this next paragraph*

The procedure itself was pretty quick and relatively painless. After he placed some covering around the site, he swabbed the lump down with betadine and then injected lidocaine 5 times in a circle around the cyst. As some of you know, I have had somewhat of a terror of needles from an early age and yet the knowledge that a needle was being repeatedly injected into my face was somehow not that disturbing. It hurt like hades at first, kind of a burning sensation when the lidocaine went into the skin, but after the 3rd shot it was pretty well numbed up. After that, I didn't feel much but pressure and a pulling sensation (somewhat like I imagine a face lift would feel). Then I could hear him scraping the cyst away from the underlying tissue which seemed very loud. He had told me earlier that if he left any fragments of the cyst behind then each piece would likely develop into a new cyst---YIKES!--but he was able to pull the cyst sac out intact. At my request, he showed me the cyst and it was yellowish-white and about the size of a small store-bought blueberry. Are you retching yet? If not, check out this other dude's cyst removal surgery on youtube!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Goofiness


Paige Wallis --

[noun]:

A person who is a master of making ravioli



'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at QuizGalaxy.com


Guess I should have studied the culinary arts instead of the visual arts, huh?

Monday, June 11, 2007

May Sylvie photos

Pictures...now with extra PDA!
Here at long last what I know you've all been waiting for, the photos for this past May! And let me tell you, there are some pretty darn cute ones this time. We visited Boston Commons and the public Garden with pals Sara and Peyton and us moms succumbed to a typical tourist photo op and snapped some shots of our offspring astride some of the duckling statues commemorating the classic children's book Make Way for Ducklings. I also got some cute photos of Sylvie and Sara sitting in the "picture spot" in Sara's house and some of Sylvie with Peyton slip slidin' away at a local playground. The absolute best shots for May though are of Sylvie and Peyton being VERY huggy while cooling off in Peyton's back yard. They were just so friggin' cute! These two kids have always been physically affectionate, hugging and holding hands (without any prompting for Kelly or I) but this time it was a marathon hugging session.

Medical Updates
Sylvie recently saw a neurologist because of concern that she'd possibly been experiencing absence seizures. On a few rare occasion, I had noticed Sylvie 'spacing out' for periods that seemed (to my admittedly untrained eye)to be longer than normal wool-gathering. My mother also noticed an episode while visiting a while back. Because of Sylvie's diagnosis, combined with a family history of epilepsy, it was recommended that she see a neurologist and have an EEG. My sister had had several EEGs because of her epilepsy (which she has since outgrown, which happens in some cases) and I had had one because of migraine headaches so i knew that the test wasn't painful or really a big deal. Sylvie was slightly fussy, but mostly cooperative while the technician applied the electrodes to her scalp. We'd been told to bring her in somewhat sleep deprived as part of the test needed to be conducted while she was asleep. Apparently we did a good job because she zonked before the tech was done applying the electrodes. After about 15 minutes or so they had to wake her up in order to get a wakeful reading as well and she was not happy about that at all. Despite Sylvie being cranky about her abbreviated nap, the test went smoothly and quickly and she even stayed fairly agreeable while the electrodes were removed. (The tech then did a partial hair wash to remove the goo that had held the electrodes in place but there was still alot left. In fact, it's been over a week now and despite sveral more washings, there is STILL some goo in her hair, but I have faith that it will all come out eventually!) We were told that the neurologist would examine the readout and get back to us in a week or so with the results, but he actually called the next day and said that the test was completely normal. Yay! While I know that the scan would only be indicative of epilepsy if she'd had a seizure recently and it's possible that she has had seizures, I'm not really going to worry about it. I've only noticed the 'space outs' a couple of times and I think if it was really a problem then they'd occur more frequently. And sometimes, a 'space out' is just a 'space out'!

Sylvie also saw her cardiologist recently and had an EKG and an echocardiogram. She'd had both of these tests before and (with the aid of a pinwheel and a sticky blue lizard toy and an Elmo DVD respectively) was pretty cooperative during them. When her cardiologist came to discuss the results with us he said everything looked the same as before which was what he expected. Then he said what I've been expecting/fearing he would say: there was no good reason delay surgery to repair the defects (which I previously discussed here). He also said it wasn't necessary to do it now either but that it would need to be done eventually, and kids Sylvie's age typically recovered quicker after surgery. Theron and I had discussed the future likelihood of Sylvie having heart surgery and we both agreed that we wanted it done while we were still in the Boston area since Children's Hospital has some of the best doctors in the world and also before we had another child. We both know that the surgery will be an extremely stressful event for us, but at least Sylvie should be mostly oblivious to what's happening because of her age. From what the cardiologist told me, one of the reasons he is encouraging the surgery now is because young children don't seem to have the same 'psychic' pain during recovery as older children or adults do because they don't realize that it's in any way strange to be up and playing the day after open heart surgery!

I know all about that 'psychic' pain because words like "open heart surgery" and "heart/lung machine" would frankly scare the shit out of me when used in relation to anyone I care about...but especially our tiny sweet child. I held it together at first while talking to the doctor, but while we were going over the step by step for the day of surgery I lost it for a bit. I'm sure these doctors are used to the reaction given their line of work and he was very compassionate and reassuring. He said that there were several surgeons at Children's that just did this kind of operation, that they were all topnotch and that Sylvie would most likely be out of the hospital less than a week after the surgery. I occasionally read a blog called Wonderbliss written by a woman whose son was born with a severe heart defect and has had a couple--and will require more--heart surgeries. I'm sure that Sylvie will make it through the surgery just fine but reading the stories this women posts as well as seeing photos of her healthy, thriving (and adorable!) son helps to ease the fear I can't help but feel.

We don't have an exact date yet, but the surgery will be sometime in September. I'll keep you posted.

On a brighter note...
Sylvie's first ever dance recital is this Saturday! They don't allow photos or video during the actual recital but the dress rehersal was on Monday and we got some photos and video then of Sylvie's group shaking their maracas (no really) to Jump in the Line. Sylvie did not seem the least bit fazed by being on stage under blinding lights and blaring music but neither did she seem to care to perform, preferring instead to watch the other girls in her troupe, but she still looked very cute in her costume! We'll have photos--and maybe even a bit of video!--posted soon.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Gimme a high 5!

All right folks, the time has come to gimme a high 5! (But only if you really think the designs deserves it.) Click on the images below to vote for In one ear, out the other and Crab Raccoon!

My Threadless.com Submission

(Alas, the above submission did not last more than 24 hrs having been removed from voting due to a low score. Hopefully Crab Raccoon and Monster Truck will fair better! If you were really hoping to own a shirt bearing the ear illustration...I'm obligated by threadless to wait 90 days after submitting a design before removing it and making it available elsewhere so check my cafepress store in about 3 months!)

My Threadless.com Submission

*UPDATE*

Here is one more design that I've submitted: Green Eyed Monster Truck Rally. Personally, it's my favorite of the three I've entered so far. It has to be preapproved before it's opened up for voting (which takes 4-8 days) but you can go ahead and preview it by clicking on the image. Make sure to check back within the next week to see when voting has started so that you can cast yours!

Green Eyed Monster Truck Rally - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Cousin Jack!

Hard to believe but Cousin Jack is ONE YEAR OLD today, hooray! We've got prezzies for you Jack, but we haven't sent them just yet because we want to get 1 or 2 (or 3..) more but they'll be on the way to you soon. Lot and lots of love from Auntie Paige, Uncle Theron and Cousin Sylvie XOXOX

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

One more 'Get Rich Quick' scheme (yeah, right)

Another day, another website that has caught my eye.

This time it is threadless.com, a site which sells graphic tees featuring some pretty kickass art. What particularly intrigued me about this site is that anyone can submit designs for the tees, have them critiqued, and then submit them for voting. People then can give your design a score from 0-5. Designs with the highest average score after a week are then in the running to be chosen by the folks at threadless as a new printed design. The very, very best part of the process is that if your design is chosen...you get beaucoup bucks! $1500 smack-a-roos! Not exactly chump change, especially considering that I've made less than $100 so far from all of the designs on my cafepress store, (which, btw, I'm not giving up on).

Anyway, I figured why not sub a few designs and see what happens? At the very least I'll get some feedback on my illustrations, which is nice.

Here are my first two efforts, currently in the critiquing phase:

Crab Raccoon
In one ear, out the other

Please let me know what you think, good or bad!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Help Theron (and Sylvie!) raise money for AIDS research

Dear Friends and Family:

I hope this letter finds you happy and healthy. I am writing to tell you about a challenge I have taken on and to ask for your help. On June 3, 2007 I will be walking with over 10,000 other people in the AIDS Walk Boston 2007, benefiting AIDS Action Committee.

In addition to committing my time and spirit for this event, I have committed to raising money for the 22nd AIDS Walk Boston that will go to the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts (AAC) to help provide needed services to people living with HIV/AIDS. AIDS Action provides housing/legal assistance; meals and social support; rent and utilities assistance, just to name a few. AAC is also involved in essential advocacy and policy efforts on current issues such as passing the statewide needle exchange legislation or increasing funds for HIV/AIDS services. These programs and services are in need of funds, and I hope to be able to generate some through my efforts and your generosity.

It is faster and easier than ever to support this great cause - you can make your donation online by simply visiting my personal walk page. When determining your donation amount please keep in mind the BIG commitment I have made.

Maybe making a donation on my behalf isn't for you? Maybe you'd like to join me as a participant! You can register on the website listed below as well as learn more about the event.

I hope that you'll support me in this effort. Check out the Walk online.

Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Sincerely,

theron wallis
To donate online, please click here.

(In case you were wondering why I'm not participating, it's because I'll be out of town that weekend visiting a friend)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Five Years and counting

Last Friday marked the fifth anniversary of our wedding. As they say, time does fly. My mother, who was visiting, stayed home with Sylvie while Theron and I went out to celebrate with a swanky dinner. (Being a SAHM, I'm generally a jeans and tshirt gal so it was nice to have a reason to dress up a bit. And because I am a maudlin sentimentalist, I wore the same dress that I wore the night before our wedding at our rehersal dinner...yay it still fits!)

We shared a bottle of Asti Spumante while we enjoyed our seafood and chatted comfortably like the old married folk we are. At one point I heard the John Denver song "Rocky Mountain High" playing over the sound system, which seemed like a funny song to be playing at a fancy seafood joint looking out over Boston harbor. "Annie's Song" would have been much more appropriate all the way around, since, as those of you who attended the ceremony know, it is the first song we danced to.

We are very aware that have a great deal to be thankful for: A happy marriage (despite occasional squabbles), an adorable daughter (despite occasional tantrums), good health (mostly, more on that in a sec), loving family and friends that we can count on it times of crisis. This last blessing was especially brought home to us when what could have been a major life changing event occurred this past March: Theron suffered a minor stroke. For those of you just finding this out, please be assured that there is no need for alarm; Theron is COMPLETELY recovered without even having to undergo any sort of speech or physical therapy.

He was on his way to work one morning when he started to feel 'funny' and realized we was veering into the hedge lining the sidewalk. He made it to the corner where he decided to sit down and try to figure out what was wrong. his right side went entirely numb, no feeling whatsoever, and he collapsed onto the ground. Luckily, it was a high traffic area and lots of people were on their way to work so some folks came to his aid immediately and dialed 911. He said that by the time he was being lifted into the ambulance, he'd regained most if not all feeling on his right side but that he couldn't seem to communicate very well. He was rushed to the hospital where they proceeded to do a battery of tests on him. He was able to call in to his work and tell them he wouldn't be in and then called me to fill me on. Obviously I was horrified because even though they had yet to come out and say he'd had a stroke at that point, it sure sounded like he'd had one from his description. He sounded almost normal on the phone but I could tell something was off in his speech. I was somewhat relieved that Theron sounded mostly ok, but still incredibly freaked out. Do 32 year old men in good shape normally have strokes??? What exactly had happened? WHY? What did this all mean long term?

I wanted to go to him right away but he said to wait because they were still doing tests and hadn't put him in a room yet; he'd call me again when he was settled. I figured that when I did go it would be better to leave Sylvie with someone because for all I knew he could end up in an ICU where children aren't usually allowed. So I called up our close (literally and figuratively) friend Amanda. She in turn got a hold of her husband Sean and filled him in. He offered to leave work early to come take me to the hospital while Amanda stayed at our place with her baby Bryce and watched Sylvie. So once I knew Theron had a room we did exactly that.

Despite having had a stroke, being poked multiple times with needles (including 2 IVs), Theron seemed pretty good. The only obvious sign that something had happened was inability to clearly communicate all the time. His speech wasn't slurred, but he had trouble thinking of the right word, at one point substituting 'mayonnaise' for 'artery'. He was aware that he was saying the wrong word at times and was very frustrated about it. He was put in the Neurology ICU overnight in case of another stroke, but moved back to a regular room (still in the stroke unit) the next day. Though the doctors initially thought he'd require speech therapy, his speech improved rapidly and was almost completely back to normal the next day. With the continued help of Sean and Amanda, as well as our friends Joanna and Dave and my cousin Randy, (Thanks again all of you!!!) I was able to see Theron every day he was in the hospital while knowing that Sylvie was well looked after. I did bring her in to see Theron once for a short visit, but her toddler energy could only be restrained for so long before she wanted to go exploring and we had to say our goodbyes for the day.

Amazingly, Theron was released from the hospital in less than a week. He initially had to give himself injections twice a day as well as take the pills he's still on in order to get a certain level of the medication in his bloodstream. A visiting nurse would come every few days to check on him and take a blood sample to test the level of meds. In fairly short order, the home visits and self-injections ended but Theron still has to go get his blood drawn once a week for now to monitor the levels. The good people he works with showed great concern over his and even sent us a ginormous fruit basket. He was out of work for 2 weeks but has since returned with no problems.

While Theron was still in the hospital, we were told a variety of things about what had happened and why so we were a bit confused. We knew he had a stroke for sure but a lot of the details were still fuzzy to us since the doctors themselves were still assessing all of his test results. After a recent follow up visit, many things were cleared up. In a nutshell, what happened is that Theron developed a dissected carotid artery, probably from a blow to the neck. The doctors told us that it could have been received in a car accident (which he hasn't been in since he was a teenager), via playing contact sports (which he doesn't)or even simply rough housing with Sylvie. It definitely was NOT from all those times I karate-chopped him in the neck. (Yes, I'm kidding.) Basically we don't know how he got the injury in the first place and probably never will, but at least we know that it was more of a fluke occurrence and not anything to do with some undiagnosed congenital defect or disease.

Anyway, while the injury healed, it developed a clot which broke loose and went to Theron's brain, causing the stroke. The medicine he takes is an anticoagulant to prevent any further clots from forming while the injury finishes healing. The doctors will scan his carotid again in a few months to ascertain it's state of repair and hopefully Theron will be able to discontinue his medication by this fall if not sooner.

As I said, we have very many things to be grateful for. I am especially grateful for the fact that I didn't lose the love of my life and that he came through the other side of this potentially cataclysmic event 100% intact; that we were still able to do something as simple as go out for dinner on our 5th anniversary and to toast the times past and the times yet to come.

I love you very much Theron.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

April Sylvie photos


Not many good photos for April I'm afraid. Sylvie has become somewhat camera shy...or at least almost always manages to move so I get a photo of the top or back of her head. This one was taken during a visit to the ICA.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spring is finally here!!!

More cafepress shop yammering
I know I haven't posted very much lately but ya see, when I have spare time to get on the computer--which as the mother of a toddler is getting less and less frequent--I tend to use the time to work on new designs for my shop. While I'm not exactly raking in the dough, I have had some modest success with my Make Everyday Earth Day design and I've made enough sales to be within a few dollars of paying for a full years shop fees...and that's just in the first two months! Even more incredibly, the bulk of my customers have been total strangers! Look out Old Navy!

Ha ha ha...er, ahem, yeah.

But seriously, I'm constantly adding new stuff to the shop so please check back every so often to see what's new. In fact I've just today added a Cinco de Mayo design and there's several Mother's Day designs if you're looking to get your mom (or yourself if you have ungrateful wretches for children, heh) something a little different this year. Wink, wink nudge, nudge..I'll say no more 'bout that.


Yay Spring!

It's taken a while but spring has finally, really and truly sprung around here. Magnolia trees are laden with fragrant blossoms, daffodils wave their sunny heads in the breeze and those little yellow flowers on the viney tree shrub things (obviously I don't what they're called) are like visually delicious pats of butter dotting the local landscape. Mmm...tasy, tasty spring.

Yay dirt!

Sylvie and I have been hitting the playground every day where she mostly prefers to play in the pebbles. I've been trying not to hover so much when she does go on the playground equipment but it's hard. She has no fear really, but does seem to be aware of drop offs and steps and navigates them with care. It's amazing and wonderful to see how much more capable she is on the equipment now. Her real love currently though is to grub in the dirt/sand/pebbles. She seems to relish the feeling of different textures running through her fingers. Theron and I took her to the Stone Zoo on Earth Day and she was far more interested in playing in the mulch then in looking at the animals. Maybe we have a budding landscape artist on our hands?

Monday, April 02, 2007

March Sylvie Photos

If you aren't completely blinded by this photo of Sylvie in her dance recital outfit, you can see more March photos of our darling girl here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

More shameless self promotion

Here we see the lovely Sylvie modeling her soothedbyrainfall designer original.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

ImageKind Sale!

If any of y'all are thinking about possibly ordering a framed print from my ImageKind store, you can get 20% off of custom framing through March 23 with the promo code: SPRING.

Just sayin'...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Holycrap-olageeWOW! Sylvie's done gone and turned TWO!

While we kinda sorta went all out last year for Sylvie's birthday--lots-o balloons, first birthday themed napkins and tablecloth with color coordinated cups and plates and even a bunch of tulips--this year we kept it low key. So low key in fact that we did nothing, heh. Well, I did make some cupcakes but it wasn't until the Wednesday following her birthday on a Sunday.

As you can see from February's photos, Sylvie is doing fantastically well. She's finally topped 20lbs (and 2oz!) and is 31" long/tall. At a follow up visit last week with GI, the doctor was very pleased with Sylvie's growth and said that after one more follow up in 4-6 months, we would likely be able to drop her from our list of specialists! Yay! Now that she has some teeth (8) with 2 more soon to pop through, she's really enjoying foods with crunch, like apple or bell pepper strips.

Sylvie seems somewhat stuck at the single word stage of talking. I figure she thinks she's gotten by pretty well with one word/sign and pointing...why upgrade? Long strings of indecipherable jargon still spill from her mouth on a regular basis though so I have faith that one of these days soon the mommy/daddy translator node will kick on in her brain. She likes to use action words while doing the actions, or at least her version of the action. For example: "Kick! Kick!"--said while kicking a ball around the house or "Jump!"--said while throwing her arms up in the air and occasionally kicking one leg out simultaneously. She does the "Jump!" one a lot at dance class.

A new trick she has learned is to grab us by the hand and lead us to whatever snack/activity she is currently interested in. Or sometimes she'll just take us for walks around the house with no apparent destination. I think she just likes asserting her perceived (well ok, at least some of that perception is accurate) control over us. Another newish trick is that she can do all of the accompanying motions to "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and she even says some of the lyrics while doing it! A sample:
Eesee beesee...raaaaain...dowwwwwn...suuun...eeseebeesee...all said in her most serious voice.

We have yet to start serious toilet training but we did buy her a new-fangled talking potty. She likes to play with all it's bells and whistles (and there are A LOT) and she even understands that she needs to lift the lid before sitting on the seat. She likes to go sit on it after she's pooped, but at least she seems to have the general idea. I'm planning to start training her once it's warmed up a little so that there will be less layers of clothes for her to have to struggle with.

Thank any-and-all-deities for the wonderful childproofing products available at Babies R Us! She's all about opening doors and drawers (while saying, "Opeeen...Shut!"), turning knobs and dials and pushing buttons. We've 'proofed the stove dials, all but one kitchen cabinet (which contains no toxic cleaners or easily breakable cookware), the entertainment center and the bathroom cupboard. Sadly, there are still many things that she attempts to get into or play with that have no such protective shields and so like the most parent's of toddlers, I spend the majority of my day following her around saying: No, no Sylvie...don't touch!...leave the kitty's tail alone...etc.

The cutest/scariest new development? Interest in boys. We had a couple of little male friends come play recently and Sylvie suddenly morphed into this super giggly, huggy girl. When her friend Riley came over, she was at first wary, as was he, but after about 10 minutes or so they were all over each other! Hugging, wrestling, tickling, even pushing each other around on a little car. Sylvie interacts a little with best pal Sara, but nothing like this! then when new friend Peyton came for a playdate, she was instantly hugging on him which seemed to cause him some distress at first. Luckily, he warmed up to her and on subsequent playdates has hugs her, offers her snacks and even holds her hand. In fact, when Peyton's mom Kelly drove us all to the Science Museum (where we met up with Marla, Sara, Carrie and Simone), Sylvie and Peyton held hands in the car most of the way there and back. How cute is that?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Buy prints of my art online!

I got a wild hair that maybe I could make an occasional extra buck or two by taking advantage of one of these online sites that allows you to upload images of artwork for printing on pretty much anything. I was all set to create an online store with cafepress.com (which I may still do for my more graphic/illustrative stuff) when my pal Sean sent me a link to this website which I thought was better suited to selling fine art prints of my work. While CafePress is cheaper, it only has the most basic framing option for prints whereas ImageKind allows potential buyers to pick and choose from a variety of mats and frames.

It's a loooong, slooow process to upload the hi-res images so I've only uploaded five so far, all watercolors. Later I'll add some of my more arty photographs and perhaps some acrylic paintings as well. If it looks as if there might be any real interest in my work, hopefully it'll spur me to get off my lazy keister and produce more recent pieces.

So check it out and tell your family, friends, enemies, neighbors, co-workers, random strangers at sporting events/coffeeshops!

*UPDATE*

And heeeeeeere is my CafePress shop!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

January Sylvie Photos

Hey look, I'm posting the photos for January in January! Crazy, huh? Yes, I am trying to make up for my past lapses in posting and I have to say that I think I'm doing a pretty good job so far. I doubt that I will be able to maintain this pace though so enjoy it while it lasts.

Tutu cute
We recently enrolled Sylvie in a nearby "Baby Dance" program. The class description is as follows: For ages 12 months through 21/2 years. This class will foster a love of music and movement in your child. A variety of music and song along with several movement tools are used to help children explore movement. It's not a real dance class as you can see; there's no bony old Russian woman with hair pulled severely back in a bun snapping commands at a room of tiny, terrified toddlers. In fact, there are two youngish (late teens or maybe early 20 somethings) who work with the kids very sweetly. They do simple follow along songs like Itsy-Bitsy Spider while sometimes incorporating small hula hoops, maracas and ribbon wands. Us moms wait in the adjacent room watching the proceedings on a closed circuit tv so as not to distract our wee dancers. There's a recital in mid June featuring all of the groups who currently take classes, including the littlest ones whose part of the performance will be probably be little more than controlled chaos.

If Sylvie likes the class, (and so far she appears to not hate it) we may consider continuing with the next level class "Preschool Dance": Pre School Dance is for ages 2-4. This class is a delightful introduction to the basics of dance technique and performance. The basic fundamentals of ballet and tap are taught with simple terminology and activity songs. Students will learn balance, coordination, dance steps, timing, rhythm, teamwork and dance technique. I can't say that I really want to encourage a career in dance, especially not ballet as I know it can be quite brutal. But I do feel that given Sylvie's gross motor skill delay, taking these dance classes will help to alleviate and hopefully close the gap between her and her peers in this regard.

And she does look awfully cute in her tutu, tights and ballet slippers!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A new fascination

I've always thought that I was aptly named because I love pages. I especially love pages full of words. I especially, especially love pages full of words collected in books full of other such pages. My parents nicknamed me "bookhead" because when they looked in my room, they often saw a figure lying on a bed with a book where the head should be. I am what is known as a "constant reader." I lovelovelove BOOKS! I must have read hundreds, possibly even thousands of them. And now I've found a neat way to try and actually get a complete tally of the books I've read with this way cool website, LibraryThing. My one complaint (so far) is that I wish there was a faster way to add books because it is rather annoying having to add them one at a time. Why not enable a feature where one can type in an author's name which would then list all of the books by that person. Each title should have a checkbox. One checks all the books they have been read and then clicks a submit box at the bottom of the list to add all of the books simultaneously. Is that so hard LibraryThing?

This might take a while.

Bit o' braggin'

I suppose it could've been a fluke but today while waiting for the subway train to come and take us to Harvard Square for Elmo's birthday party , Sylvie counted pigeons! I had pointed out a group of them on the platform and she said, quite clearly, "Birds! Birds! One...two...fee...fo...fi." There were actually six pigeons, but still, fairly impressive for a kid who is still about a month shy of turning two wouldn't you say?

Of course all attempts I've made since today to try and get her to count again have been ignored, but that's her usual MO: demonstrate some new and somewhat advanced ability like knowing the entire alphabet (written and signed!), numbers 1-10, solving quadratic equations (kidding!) and then looking blank when asked to "perform" the same again...unless/until she just happens to be in the mood to do so.

Maybe we were on our way to Harvard today in more way than one!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Happy Birthday CHF Amy!

Ya, I know I am lame for cadging your photo off of myspace but that's because all the photos I have of you are at least 2 years old. Guess we'll just have to take lots more when you are visiting...in a few weeks! EEE!!!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Welcome Sophia Leonie!

Hooray!!! and Congrats!!! to Alicia and Marcus on the birth of their beautiful daughter at 6:14 am today. She was 6 pounds, 8 ounces and 20 inches.

About time someone else had a girl...all the other people I know who recently had babies had boys! Thanks for helping bring balance to the world Alicia and we hope we'll get to meet Sophia in person soon!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Happy Birthday G'ma Judy!

Hail to the Queen Mum of the Crimson Goddesses! Did you know that she was recently crowned the reigning monarch of her Red Hat group?

Happy birthday mom. Love ya lots!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I guess it wouldn't be the holidays without a visit to the ER...plus December Sylvie Photos!

Here and here are the photos from December. Enjoy!

I know there's an "er" in every "Merry Christmas", but this is getting ridiculous
As you've already been made aware, we had another fun-filled trip to the ER this past holiday season. Luckily, there was only one trip, it lasted for less than five hours and Sylvie was not treated like a pincushion.

The story is during the final flurry of activity to get ready for our roadtrip to Canada, Sylvie fell off the couch. Despite the fact that there were no--immediately--obvious bruises and she was moving all of her limbs normally, she would not calm down and continued to cry in a very high-pitched, distressing way. I rolled up her sleeves and found that her right elbow was purple and swollen. YIKES.

Now Sylvie and I were both slightly hysterical.

Right about this time, Theron came home from having gone to fetch our rental van. We got hold of Sylvie's pediatrician and she recommended taking her in to the ER. Once there it was the usual wait an hour, see some nurse/doctor, wait, get sent to xray, wait, hold down squalling child for xrays of her elbow (always a pleasure...but at least no needles were involved!), wait, see a different nurse/doctor, get told xrays looked fine but that they wanted to take more xrays-of her collarbone this time-just in case, go to xray, wait, repeat hold down squalling child, wait, see different nurse/doctor, get told second set of xrays looked fine and that there was no reason why we couldn't follow through with our travelling plans and just to give Sylvie some Baby Tylenol if she had further discomfort. So while it was not at all pleasant experience, it could've been a lot worse.

The Long Drive
Because of the ER trip, we'd had to cancel dinner plans that we'd made with some extended family so that they could see Manda and Travis and meet baby Jack. When Theron, Sylvie and I returned home we found that cousin Chloe and her boyfriend Rich, (who made a long drive of their own a few days later as they moved down to Nashville, TN) had come over to hang out and were kind enough to get Chinese takeout for us all. Theron and I chowed down in between bouts of tossing stuff into bags while Sylvie acted as if the prior several hours hadn't happened. After a bit, we bid farewell to Chloe and Rich, finished loading up the van and took off for Canada, only 2.5 hours later than originally planned. It was a looong drive, around 10+hours in fact. The kids slept pretty much the whole way thankfully, so we made do with only a handful of stops for refueling and one-ing and two-ing.

Highlights

Ok, in the desire to just get this damn post POSTED already, I'm just going to sum up the rest of the trip as quickly as possible. So here in brief are highlights from the trip:

Seeing G'ma & G'pa Johnson!

Seeing local friends!
Christy & Jay, Doah & Owain, Michael & Danielle. Sadly, we missed seeing Dorie & Paul and Alan...hopefully we'll catch 'em all next time.

Eating at the Imperial!
I'm talking huge buffet, all-you-can-eat pan-asian dishes; everything from curry to sweet and sour chicken. My favorite was the sushi bar. Sylvie conked out in the car on the way there and ended up sleeping almost the entire time on a pile of our coats in the corner by our table.

Christmas! Christmas Cinnabons! Christmas presents! Christmas dinner!

Scrabble!

The boys got put to work!
Theron and Travis spent a lot of time on ladders helping install and wire stuff. They didn't look closely enough at the marriage contracts, did they?

Seeing long distance extended family on the way home! We stopped to visit with Great G'ma Ginny on the drive home, so she was finally able to meet her newest great grandchild Jack. We also got to see Sylvie's second cousins (I think that's the relation) Shannon, Sara and their mom Elisa as well as little William and his folks Amy and Peter. Sadly it was a very brief visit but as we all live in widely scattered parts of the country it was nice that we got to see them at all!

uh....
I forget, but I'm sure there was lots more. Mom, Manda, feel free to add stuff I've left out in the comments. I knew that the longer it took me to post this the less I would remember so if I've left out anything/anyone special please don't take it personally. My poor brain is a sieve these days.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Theron and I rang in the New Year with good friends, good food and Guitar Hero I and II. It was awesome. Wow...I don't know why but somehow it's hard to believe that 2006 is over. Kaput, even. Also that we no longer have a baby...we have a KID! And what a kid she is. Beautiful, clever, funny, compassionate. What strikes me the most about Sylvie as I think of my sweet girl on this first day of the new year though is where on earth does ALL THAT SNOT COME FROM?! Her nose has been leaking like a faucet all day. She even projectile snotted while we were getting groceries. Come on, say it with me now...EEEEeeeewww! Other than the snot-nosed thing (which I know kinda comes with the territory) she really is just incredible.

On to the point of this post: New Years Resolutions! (In no particular order)

Potty train Sylvie
Eat more vegetables
Don't eat mac n cheese directly out of the pot anymore
Start working out again
DRIVE
Paint/illustrate/craft/design more
ORGANIZE
Cook more from scratch
Blog more often
Collect unpaid woot winnings ($100)
KARAOKE
Procrastinate less (Yeah right. I might as well type "Give up chocolate")

I'm sure there's more I could put down but nothing is springing to mind at the moment.

I'll write about our holiday vacation when I get around to posting the December photos. In the meantime, here's a little teaser for ya: I guess it wouldn't be the holidays without a visit to the ER...