Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Lesson

I've learned that it's not necessarily the best idea to make a pledge to do something with any consistency when it's the busiest month of the year for your business, your husband is working a new job with strange hours, and you have an unpredictable newborn.

Alas, I'm working hard on doing an activity each day and will post a 2-week wrap-up next. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Getting Involved - The Plan

Lately I've been feeling the (mostly self-imposed) judgement that I'm not doing enough as a mom to "raise" my children.  Yes, I feed and dress them (or give them clothes so they can dress themselves).  I change diapers and give snuggles.  I drive them to and from pre-school, read them stories and listen to an endless stream of conversation. 

But where I've felt that I'm lacking is doing stuff with them.  Especially since Split Pea's arrival, I've become completely unmotivated about interacting with them on an "extra-curricular" level.  And I feel horrible about it.  So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I chose to do something to fix it. 

One night after Thanksgiving, I came up with a plan that every day for the month of December, I'd do an activity with the boys.  Sometimes it could be with family, sometimes both hubby and myself, but something.  Something to reflect on at the end of each day and something that could remind me that I am a good mom to my boys.  Plus, I figure that it will help save my sanity since the older boys have winter break for 2 1/2 weeks at the end of the month. 

In addition to the daily activities, I wanted to also commit us to an activity outside at least once a week.  Interestingly, the temps have been unseasonably warm around here, but I really do hope that building snowmen and making snow angels is one of our activities this month.  

My hope is that at the end of the month, I feel a renewed sense of self-worth as a mom, and have kids that are inspired by the flurry of activities.  And hopefully I also feel motivated to continue the activities into the New Year (2011?!?  Wow.  SO not ready for that). 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm not that interesting.

I want to be a good blogger.  I want to document my life and the interesting things that occur every day.  Each night I realize that I feel very run-of-the-mill and ordinary.  I wonder who would want to read about my daily life?  But there are a few things that I know in a few years I would at least like to look back on and think about, so I figure I'm going to try my hardest to keep writing. 

Tomorrow, bright and early, we're headed to a magnet school in the district to learn about their philosophies and how their enrollment process works.  I'm not really sure, but from everything I've read, I think it would be a good fit for the Monkey as he starts kindergarten next year.  To be completely honest, the realization that hubby and I are responsible for setting the stage for our sons' educational futures and successes in life is absolutely overwhelming and scary.  I wish we had lots of money and could invest in a perfect private school (I'm still hoping they'll be able to go to private school around age 12).  I think public school for the elementary years is good, but I just don't know.  I can't believe I have to think about this already and feel like the decisions I make now are going to set off a cascade of results leading through all the years of education. 

And that I'm going to have to analyze it and decide if what I do for the Monkey is the best for Small Fry and then the best for Split Pea.  I love having children, but I feel like I know less and less as they grow older.  They're starting to get out of my realm of control, starting to be influenced by friends, educated by teachers that are not immediate family or friends, and it scares me.  Not that I feel like I know what I'm doing or would have the first idea how to instruct a 5-year-old in the ways of the world, but just the fact that I guess, that he's GROWING UP is really frightening. 

So tomorrow, hubby and I will drop the older boys next door, take Split Pea with us, and go to a new school to learn about their mission and educational style.  And I'm going to have to figure out if it "fits" for the way I believe my son should be educated.  It's pretty cool that these choices are available for us, but at the same time, scary.  I don't feel old enough to be making these kinds of decisions, these are the decisions adults and parents make.  Oh crap.  I am an adult and a parent.  I have no idea how that happened. 

That's where my head is at tonight. Now I'm off to do some more work as always and think about sleeping for a few hours. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Split Pea's Babysitter

I often get asked how the Monkey and Small Fry like their new brother. 

Small Fry LOVES his brother, but he's not as into taking care of him.  He's 2 1/2 (almost 3!), and a little rough with him.  He loves giving kisses and keeping his binky in, and "bouncing" the bouncer for him too. 

The Monkey on the other hand, is a natural.  He wants to hold Split Pea, feed him (I've got quite a story to offer about that incident), rock him, sing to him, carry him, etc.  We have to set boundaries for safety reasons (as in "PLEASE do NOT take your brother off the bed and bring him to me!), but they get in plenty of cuddle time.

Yesterday, Monkey thought it would be fun to sing some songs to his little brother.  It's a silly video, complete with some 4-year-old humor.  Enjoy!

(Oh and I apologize for the fact that the Monkey was being more like a chipmunk and storing some fruit snacks in his cheeks the whole video!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guess Who?

Thought it would be fun to see what each of the boys looked like when they were between 6 and 8 weeks old.  WOW.  How time flies.  Looking at the pictures though, I clearly can recall each moment in time. 

I'm still amazed I'm a mom of three...and three BOYS at that. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Our routine

Life with Split Pea is really quite similar to life with a normal newborn, we just have a few extra steps added in our day (and special things to look out for when he's sick or stressed). 

This was a recent night after bath.  I was giving Split Pea a oral dose of hydrocortisone, an injection of growth hormone, and testing his blood sugar level. 

He takes hydrocortisone (1.2 ml) by mouth every 8 hours.  (It tastes a little like cough syrup, but he doesn't mind.).  We have it mixed at a compounding pharmacy at the hospital every 30 days.  It is only good for 30 days at a time, and must be refrigerated.  He will need this (or an oral pill like prednisone) for the rest of his life.

At night, he also gets an injection of growth hormone (currently .18 mg/day).  We were trained by a special nurse on how to use this computerized delivery device, how to insert the needles into the device, how to mix the hormone, etc.  The vials of hormone come in a powdered form with a system to mix the vial into a liquid.  Once mixed, the hormone is only good for 21 days and must be refrigerated at all times or it will break down. 

The injection is really quite easy and he rarely cries when getting it (we rotate clockwise from each upper thigh to each butt cheek).  When he gets older, he can even do it himself.  He will need this every day until he's done growing, and perhaps occasionally as an adult. 

Approximately twice a day, before he eats, I test his blood sugar.  The steroids he takes, in conjunction with the growth hormone help regulate his blood sugar, and when it's low, that can signal a problem.  (That's why I carry a glucagon injection, just like a diabetic).  This is a heel stick and a little test strip that is read by a computerized meter.  The endocrinologist can download the meter information at each visit and get an overview of his sugar levels.  Very high tech. 

So it's overwhelming sometimes, but in only 2 1/2 short months, it feels pretty 'normal' to us.  I'm just thankful everyday that all of this medication exists, and that Split Pea is going to be able to live a healthy and productive life thanks to the amazing marvels of science and medicine. 

The Arrival of Split Pea

September 2, 2010

I'm not going to write a long birth story because, well, I don't want to.  The labor and delivery was uneventful.  It was similar to my others, but longer.  I was induced about 8 am, but Split Pea didn't arrive until about 4 pm (I have the exact time somewhere, but things are a little disorganized these days).

We held him for quite a while after birth and finally the nurses got their hands on him so they could take him to the well-baby nursery and check him out.  I hadn't seen him for over 2 hours and asked my sister to see if she could find out what was going on.  The next thing I knew, my pediatrician entered the room and delivered the life-changing news.

Her news was a laundry list of things that were wrong and ranged from his extremely low blood sugar (19!) to his weak femoral pulse (which she chose to tell me could indicate a problem with his aortic arch and may require heart surgery).  (For the record, none of the laundry list was as dramatic as she'd made it sound.  I'm still angry about how it was all presented to me.)  Needless to say, once she left, I lost it.  Hubby had left the hospital to play in his weekly poker game (when he left we all assumed everything was fine), and it was just me, my sister, and my nephew.  I freaked out (I think silently, but was clearly bawling).

My sister was amazing.  She called hubby and told him to get back to the hospital and asked my mom to come back too.  About midnight, they wheeled me into the NICU so I could see Split Pea for the first time since after he was born.  He was under an oxygen hood, had heart leads, a temperature monitor and a dextrose drip.  I could only touch him.  I hated being in my post-partum room that night, all alone.

The next morning, I went to the NICU again and this time he was on a nasal cannula, off the oxygen hood, but still on the dextrose drip.  I got to nurse him (or try), and then feed him a little bottle.  It was wonderful holding him, and I held him for as long as they would let me.  The NICU even allowed the boys to come visit, and they were immediately smitten with their new brother.

Small Fry giving his new brother a tiny kiss

Split Pea had ultrasounds, chromosomal tests, blood tests and most importantly, an MRI of his brain over the next day.  The results showed that his pituitary gland never completely grew together and therefore wasn't functioning properly.  The official diagnosis is "Panhypopituitarism", aka "Pan Pit".  The pituitary gland is the "master gland" in a body that sends out signals to all the other glands.  Everything downstream is functioning well, it's just the master gland that is not working.  

Once we got the diagnosis and met our new best friend, the endocrinologist, we started meds to stabilize him.  (Side note: The endocrinologist took a few days to talk to us, and when she first met us the first two things she said were, "He's going to be fine", and that she took a few days because she wanted to have ALL the information before talking to us.  THAT was when I knew she would be an amazing doctor for us).    He was able to leave the NICU after 6 days.  Although I wouldn't wish the NICU on my worst enemy, the nurses and doctors were absolutely AMAZING.  I cried a whole lot there, and they were always willing to offer up a hug, an encouraging word, or just make me laugh.

We left the hospital after filling more prescriptions than I'd ever filled for both the other boys combined.  When we left, Split Pea (aptly named because the pituitary gland is pea-sized in adults, and his is "split"), he was taking hydrocortisone three times a day.  I was also testing his blood sugar with a glucose meter before each feeding.  We were given dozens of things, including an emergency injection of glucagon in case of hypoglycemia, and an injection of Solu-Cortef, in case he couldn't ingest his dose of hydrocortisone. 

In the weeks following his discharge, we visited a doctor or lab every single day.  We had visits with the regular pediatrician, the urologist (he received testosterone injections), the endocrinologist, and visited both a regular lab and a pediatric hematology lab for blood tests. 

I had a whole different plan of how things were going to go with our Split Pea, but I think he just wanted to make sure that we never forgot about him!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hey! I have a blog!

I think about my blog all the time, but that's about as far as it goes.  All intentions toward actually writing seem to get pushed to the bottom of the ever-expanding to-do list.  Then lately I started thinking that there is SO much going on, especially now, that I want to remember it all in say, just a year from now.  I feel like the past few months have gone in the blink of an eye, yet were packed full with some of the most life-changing events ever. 

So to catch up...I posted last in February, after posting some "Monkey-isms" (a feature I've decided to continue), and after the announcement of our newest addition. 

Winter and Spring were fun.  We took our annual Steamboat ski trip and decided that week that we'd move Small Fry out of his crib.  When we got home, my parents offered us a bunk bed that was in their guest room.  In 24 hours, we painted the Monkey's old room so we could move in the bunk bed.  Just a week or so after getting back from vacation, the boys were sleeping together in the same room.  Small Fry's old room would remain the nursery. 

The Monkey also started in a soccer program with the local rec center.  It was okay.  Not great.  He didn't care that much, and we had no coach.  It was very disorganized, which I guess is to be expected with 4-year-olds, but I just didn't feel like we really got our money worth.  Plus we had to drive almost 25 minutes to get to the fields, and we had a lot of snowed out games.  Needless to say, we aren't going into organized sports again for a while. 

As Spring gave way to Summer, we continued preparing for baby, but enjoying our time as a family.  I started getting excited for Small Fry to start pre-school at the same place as Monkey.  They would be doing a summer-camp program and attending 3 days a week for 3 1/2 hours each day.  Small Fry was ready.  He wants to be exactly like his big brother, and I often (really) am asked if they are twins.  People are shocked when I respond that in fact, they're 23 months apart. 
A quick picture as we headed out for the first day of summer pre-school  
I had nothing to worry about.  Small Fry loved preschool and it was incredibly nice to have a few mornings each week to do my own thing.  The time always seemed to pass too quickly though.  Also in June, hubby decided to leave his job and pursue a new opportunity.  I was excited, because the insurance change would kick in when I was 35 weeks pregnant, just in time to deliver at the hospital of my choice and use the doctors I'd previously used with Monkey and Small Fry. 

The rest of the summer was busy with keeping cool (pregnant in a house with no air-conditioning is not so fun), swimming at the club pool, visiting the zoo and enjoying the outdoors as much as possible. 

As August wound down, we knew our newest addition was just over the horizon.  The boys were anxious to meet their new brother, even shouting at my belly, "COME OUT NOW BABY!".  Due to high blood pressure and being just a few days away from my due date, I chose to have an induction. 

Our Split Pea was born on September 2nd, and his arrival would affect our family in ways we never expected...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I am in awe of the brain my little Monkey has. The things he says, the way he plays with his toys, the way he interacts with friends and family, it all amazes me.

Today was particularly hilarious for his "Monkey-isms". I was already impressed when he showed me his painted American flag with presidential silhouettes, and he could readily identify George Washington and Abe Lincoln. SO cute.

In the car, I told him that he was the best little boy I knew. His response?

"I'm not a boy anymore, I'm a MAN."

As we drove closer to home, he saw the usual cows out for their daily pasture time.

"Hi cows!! Enjoy your grass! Eat lots and make good milk!"

And finally tonight as I was reading stories and singing songs to him and Small Fry. I sang "Hush Little Baby", a favorite of mine. At the end of the song, the Monkey told me...

"Mommy, you don't need to buy us all that stuff"

"Why?" I asked

"Because we're already the best little boys in the town. And if you buy us the glass (the looking glass), we won't break it!"

I think that I fall more in love with my boys as each day passes.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Shhh...I have a secret!

Well, it's not so much a secret anymore, but our family of four is going to soon be expanding to a family of five!

We're not very far along yet, only 9 weeks, but after seeing a baby with a heartbeat and all, I breathed the biggest sigh of relief imaginable (I've had two miscarriages, one in March '07 and one in June '09).

Our latest addition is due to arrive in early September, which is super exciting since Small Fry and the Monkey have January and February more joint birthday parties!

I don't have anything else exciting to share right now, but I'll be sure to keep updating as the appointments progress.

I must say, telling the Monkey was lots of fun, because now that he's almost 4, he has MANY more questions about the baby growing in mommy's belly then he did when he was two (when his brother was born). He did ask if the baby was going to grow into my lungs (he is fascinated by the human body, science nerd like his mama).

Happy weekend all!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Banana Cream Pie

Everyone has their favorite pie. My dad's is cherry. My husband's is pumpkin. My pie is banana cream pie. But in my almost 30 years of life, I have never made one.

I have a strange love affair with the Williams' Sonoma "Baking" cookbook. I've had it for maybe eight years or so, and it has the best challah recipe EVER. It has lots of other tasty recipes too, and I've often desired to make each and every one a la "Julie and Julia", but I fear I'd gain 100 pounds. There is a recipe for Banana Cream Pie in the cookbook, and this weekend, while doing some major weekly meal planning, I decided to take the plunge and make the pie. I even got a half-dozen perfectly ripe bananas at the store for only $0.75!

This pie uses pastry cream, which I've never made, and any time you're cooking milk, and adding eggs to that hot milk, there's always a chance of disaster. But I make lots of things that use that technique, so I figured I could do it.

The recipe starts with the pastry cream...whole milk and the insides of a vanilla bean. The Monkey was my sous chef and told me the vanilla bean smelled like a raisin (it did kind of).

After the milk had heated, we added egg yolks, cornstarch and some salt, cooked it until it thickened (this was amazing, I was afraid it would never thicken and then, voila! All of the sudden it was like custard!).

The cream was pressed through a fine mesh sieve, covered with plastic wrap and cooled.

I layered the pastry cream on to the baked pie crust, then bananas that were tossed with orange juice, then more pastry cream. I covered that and let it chill all afternoon.

Then it was time to make the whipped cream. My boys have seen this lots, I never buy pre-made whipped cream because it's just SO much better made fresh.

I covered the pie with the whipped cream, and neither of the kids could WAIT for dessert.

We finished our homemade pizza (so tasty), and the kids couldn't stop asking for pie. Clearly Small Fry and the Monkey LOVED it. And as for me and hubby....we've each had two pieces. I'm sure the pie won't last through tomorrow!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Joining a CSA

I've talked to so many people about the great experience we had with our CSA this past season, and thought it would be worth it to write it all down in a blog post so everyone could learn in detail what we did and how we liked it.

As some background, we've been using Door-to-Door Organics for a little over 18 months. I heard about them through word-of-mouth, and they deliver various size boxes of produce (fruit, veggies, or a mix) to your doorstep once a week. It has been really a fun experience, and made having fresh produce even easier than going to the grocery store (especially because we don't really have specialty organic store around here, soon though!).

In April of 2009, I started to hear the "buzz" about joining a CSA. A CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture". It is a way to support a local farm and enjoy fresh, local and often organic produce for the season that the farm is producing. You buy a "share" of produce (all CSA's are different in what they offer), and in return you get a variety of the current bounty from the farm on a (usually) weekly basis.

We got a booklet in the mail, I honestly can't remember who wrote it, but it had a HUGE list of CSA's, farmer's markets, local meat producers, everything agricultural in Colorado. I poured over that booklet for weeks, researching on the internet, talking to friends, talking with my husband, just seeing what would be a good fit for us. My sister had mentioned joining a CSA also, so I looked further into it, knowing that we'd likely be able to split a "share".

After lots of research, I decided to buy a share at Grant Family Farms in Wellington, CO. Okay, so Wellington is pretty far north of us, but it is still local, and a LOT more local than buying produce from out of the USA or even from California. If you buy at Whole Foods, you may even have bought Grant Family Farms produce, as they sell to many of the Whole Foods in the state, and even to a lot of the local restaurants (they have a restaurant list on their site).

We purchased a "Family Share" for the entire 26 week season. This share is the largest they offer, and includes only vegetables. The variety of veggies would vary depending on what was ripe when they packed your boxes each week. We also added a "Single Fruit Share" which was 22 weeks of local fruit. Some of the fruit comes from Grant Farms, but most is obtained from other small, local farms around the state (like Ela Family Farms...we used to buy their applesauce at Whole Foods!). I called when buying the share and was able to split the payment of the shares into three payments over the course of the season. They're really nice about helping you out. All of their fruit and vegetables are certified organic.

There are many other share sizes, from small to single shares, even working shares, where you can work on the farm as a way to pay for part of your share. They very clearly detail the options on their website.

There are dozens of "pick-up" locations, so we were able to choose one that is only about 5 minutes from our house (just a few blocks past the local grocery store!). We were able to pick up our veggies and fruit each Wednesday from 3-6pm. (Other locations had different pick-up days, but all the times would work for those who work full-time!).

Each Monday afternoon, I'd receive a wonderful email in my inbox. There was a great note about what was going on at the farm that week, and a description of what to expect in the boxes that week (of course, it could vary depending on what was ready to be harvested). The boxes are picked the day before you pick them up, so really you can't get any fresher. Also in the email would be facts about maybe some strange veggie that we'd be receiving that week (kohlrabi anyone?), and recipes. Often there would be two recipes that utilized the veggies we were expecting. And they'd even include interesting articles that related to earth-minded people.

I printed out each email and kept it in a binder so by the end of the 26-week season I had almost a cookbook full of recipes along with descriptions of veggies, how to ripen various fruits, and how best to store all of my produce.

Every Wednesday, around 5 pm, I'd drive over to my pick-up location. I'd bring four or so reusable bags with me. The family share bin was HUGE. I'd sign the check-in binder, and open my bin of produce. We had so many different kinds of veggies, I don't know if I could list them all. A month after we started the veggie share, we started getting fruit, so I'd pick up our single fruit share during this time too. I'd put everything into my reusable bags and leave the bin there, to come back to a full one next week.

One of the early pick-ups in mid-June. (See the strawberries? They were the best I'd ever eaten)

Sometimes, the amount of veggies, the amount of green stuff, the amount of apples was unbelievably overwhelming. But my husband said it perfectly when I told him I had 56 apples to do something with, and he said, "I welcome the challenge". It was a challenge. I spent more time in the kitchen than I could remember spending in recent years (and I cook dinner 5 nights a week).

When I was cooking a meal, I'd have to add on usually an extra 40-60 minutes for prepping veggies, something I wasn't used to, but became much easier with practice. I experimented with vegetables I'd never eaten or even heard of in my life. We made kale chips, brownies with beets (they were good), mashed kohlrabi, and more. Thankfully, my children are adventurous eaters, so they would always try what we had planned.

The HUGE summer squash that was larger than my first born son at birth.

In the first half of the season, it was a LOT of greens. Large bunches of romaine and red leaf lettuce every week, plus kale and chard. In the middle of the season, we were overwhelmed with corn. Thankfully we like corn, but we were getting about a dozen ears a week (and organic corn can have worms, which scared the bejezus out of me the first time!). It was good, just a LOT. Sometimes (I hate to say it, but it's true), we didn't eat everything. Even splitting it with my sister for the first half of the season, it was a lot. But it was always wonderful, and if there was something we really didn't care for (like cilantro), we knew others who would use it and we were happy to share the bounty.

One thing to note that this was a very bountiful year for Grant Farms. They told us that not all years are as plentiful as this, and some CSA's were hit by horrible hail and had to suspend delivery for a time because they didn't have enough to fill boxes. This is the risk with a CSA. If nature doesn't cooperate, you may see a slim picking of produce.

I think the only problem we had the whole season was with the tomatoes. If I recall correctly, they picked them too ripe and they didn't do well while waiting to be packed. They were all very mushy and no longer good when we got them. But that was only one week.

The fruit. OH MY GOODNESS the fruit. Unfortunately, apricots and nectarines didn't make it to the share this year due to an early freeze (the risk of joining a CSA), but we ate the most unbelievably delicious cherries, peaches, pears, plums, apples, melons, watermelons and more. I baked a lot of it, but often we'd eat it all up before I had a chance to bake anything.

A pick-up from late September.

Even as the snow came in, we still had delicious produce to pick up. Our pantry was bare, no processed foods came into our house all season. Instead we bought local meat (sorry, we love beef), and made dinner every night with our CSA bounty. It was healthy, tasty, organic and a culinary challenge. Some things didn't always turn out for the best, but 99% of the time, we had a fantastic meal, with rave reviews from all family members.

We also got many "perks" throughout the season. We would get a half-dozen eggs to try their wonderful egg share (they were SO good), or a small pint of raspberries or strawberries tucked in the box. A HUGE summer squash (along with a good recipe for using it). When they were promoting their fall festival, we received a bottle of local beer, along with free-tickets to the festival. During the fall, we got pie pumpkins, many decorative gourds, and a taste of the most wonderful bread they'll be offering as a share next season. As winter approached, we received a bottle of wine and a beautiful hand-tied pine bough wreath, made with pine boughs from the farm. (Oh, and I even got a credit for referring someone to the CSA!)

One of the last pick-ups in late November - still a HUGE bounty!

I visited the grocery store maybe once a month (if that - I started to notice because I never earned enough to get my $0.10 discount on gas, haha!). I'd get some pasta or meat, and maybe a few grains. But I was so inspired by the need to put more prep time into the meal, that I started baking our own bread too. We get our milk delivered, so I didn't need to rush to the grocery for that.

Sadly, the season turned cold, and the crops were done. Grant Farms does offer a monthly, winter share, but we chose to forgo the winter crops and wait until the summer. We miss it dearly though. They were right when they said we'd have "culture shock" having to shop in a supermarket produce section again. I missed just knowing that I was eating local, organic, fresh produce, instead of having to pour over labels and find out what I was eating, where it was from, and has it been sprayed or treated with something? It was really hard for both my husband and I to buy produce at a supermarket again.

We can not wait until the season starts again in June 2010. In addition to veggies and fruit, Grant Farms offers SO many other options. They have an egg share, which we are definitely going to purchase next year. In addition, they are now offering, bread, baguette and pastry shares. All are made with local, organic ingredients (even local wheat from Grant Farms) and baked the morning the share is delivered to the pick-up location.

They also have meat: duck, chicken, turkeys, lamb and goat all available for purchase. All are raised right on the farm without antibiotics. (Not all is certified organic yet, but they give details about that on their site). You can even get your Thanksgiving turkey from them!

So that's it. We're beyond pleased with the amount and quality of produce we received as well as the amazing communication from the farm. I felt such a part of an important local business, and am so happy with everything it did to raise my ecological awareness. We're counting the days until the share starts up again, and wondering exactly which bread and pastry shares we're going to get this year!