"What really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary. And, without the love of Jesus, everything is useless." -Blessed John Paul II

Monday, July 7, 2014

Kid quotes

Joseph: I tooted!
Me: What do you say when you toot Joseph?
Joseph: ewww gross!
Me: No, what do you say Joseph?
Joseph: Stinky butt!
Me: ....
Joseph: I tooted?
Me: ...
Miriam: Joseph, you say "excuse me"
Joseph: God bless you

Followed a trail of turds and at the end of it I found a naked diaper-less 2yr old. Treasure hunting takes on a whole new meaning when you're a parent.

Parental lesson in humility #187:
While sitting in the front pew at church (for the very first time), our 2 1/2 yr old projectile vomits towards the altar, bathing himself and Josh in chunks. Josh had to do the walk of shame covered in vomit to the back of church while I used a pack of baby wipes to clean up all the vomit from the kneeler, pew, and floor in front of the altar on my hands and knees.

Miriam to Joseph: You be the monster and chase us
Joseph: No, I'm a butterfly. I'm not a monster.

Miriam: Mommy, I can't go to school today because I'm sick (fake cough* fake cough). I guess I have to stay home and watch Frozen and drink lemonade.
Me: ....
Miriam: I have germs Mom. I better stay home.
Me: Get dressed for school now.
Miriam: Fine, but I am telling my teacher on you.

The children's current favorite bedtime story is The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Starring Miriam as the big billy goat, Joseph as the middle billy goat, and Gianna as the little billy goat. I asked Joseph "Who does Mommy get to be?" and he answered "You're the big ugly troll Mama!"

Miriam as we get in the bath tub one night: "I have little boobies like Gianna. I think I want bigger ones. For my birthday, when I'm bigger, can my boobies be bigger?"

One day on the way home from school, Miriam told Josh "Graham said that his daddy sometimes wears dresses at home."
Josh said "Maybe Graham meant something else. Like pants."
Miriam "Nope. Dresses. He said his dad wears dresses at home."
As Josh tells me the story over dinner, I ask the kids "What do you tell your teachers that your daddy does at home?"
Joseph says "He toots on my head!"

Friday, July 4, 2014

Quick Takes (from the past year... whoops)

I have been terrible at documenting on this blog for the children but in all fairness, it is because a lot of what has happened lately is not worth remembering! (and I am not trying to be overly dramatic, of course there have been good times)

  1.  Our first house got struck by lightning 6 weeks after we moved into it. 
    • No joke. I was upstairs in the master bedroom getting ready to take a shower while Josh was downstairs with the kids and there was a very loud crash and then darkness because our power went out. I said "Oh, a transformer must have blown" (forgetting that in our new neighborhood, they be fancy and have underground wiring) I look out the window to see where the downed line must be and notice lumber in our front yard. Ever the quick-thinker, I shouted to Josh "The neighbor's house must have gotten struck! I even smell smoke!" and headed downstairs to go outside to assess the neighbors. Upon walking out our front door, my attention was caught by the flames coming out of the side of our house. I yelled at Josh to call 911 and I dashed back inside (ever the genius) to grab my wallet and the diaper bag. To Joseph's excitement, 6 fire trucks showed up and about 50 firemen with axes invaded my home (as I imagined them ax-ing through my doors and windows and drywall). They immediately darted back out the house as they smelled the raging gas leak that Josh and I did not (I blame the diaper bombs we change daily that have desensitized our olfactory glands). Yep.... a fire and a gas leak. The fire marshall couldn't believe we didn't explode. The pouring rain extinguished the flames so they didn't have to use their hoses at all. After the gas was off they swarmed into the basement and attic with their infrared cameras to look for residual heat and electricity. They gave the all clear for me to go back into the house and grab some things. (That could be a blog post.... "What to grab when your house is struck by lightning") Long story short.... after an insurance deductible and a couple weeks of ugly home and a night with the 5 of us sharing a futon at a relative's house, our home is intact once again. There was about $10,000 worth of damage to our siding, insulation, water piping, gas line, and electrical outlets on the one side of the house. No one was injured. The only battle left at the moment is trying to convince the insurance agency to let the contractor paint the whole house instead of just the one exterior side (the other 3 sides won't match up since they'll be faded from time and dirt, it'll look silly).
  2. We bought a minivan. 
    • After having a Porsche SUV park beside us at the grocery store and almost witnessing our 4 yr old door-ding it, Josh agreed that maybe sliding doors would be enough to win him over from the SUV world. So I found my dream 8 passenger DVD player minivan. Ahhhh life is good. (You know you are a mom when.....)
  3. We were pregnant.... and then we weren't.
    • God giveth and He taketh. He knows what He is doing and we just have to trust that. 
  4. I braved a "vacation" to Michigan to visit my friend and her new baby, with all 3 children, by myself. Not smart. I hope to get some pictures uploaded soon. Once I finish working 26 out of the next 29 days. That deserves a whole tale of its own. 
  5. In good news, Josh got his first article chosen to be published in a European cancer research magazine! 
  6. Gianna started daycare and has been doing really well..... at collecting ear infections. 2 of them in the first month of daycare! But she tolerates them like a champ and still flashes her beautiful one tooth smile. 
  7. Miriam is obsessed with Frozen. She requires her hair be made into two styles, either "Elsa" with one french braid or "Ana" with two french braids. Those are our only options. Every single day. And she can only wear dresses day and night because "my friend Clare only wears dresses". Lord help me.
  8. Joseph is still not potty trained but has been producing some winning quotes. I will have to transfer them over from my Facebook when I get more time. (Our computers were fried from the lightning strike so I can only use the work computer)
Note to kiddos: 
You guys make me very tired. But I love each of you so incredibly much. I hope I don't sound all downer-ish in these postings. You guys make me laugh daily so I hope that I can get the opportunity to post some of your funnier quotes and photos soon. Mama loves you :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gianna 6 months old

I don't know if this counts as a post or not, but I only have a few minutes to type before she awakes.

Feb 18th was her 6 month birthday. Crazy. It was Jan 23rd of last year that I had my positive pregnancy test. And 13months later she is 6 months old. Crazy how fast those 13 months went with her after she skipped a couple months in my belly!

What she has accomplished: rolls from back to front and front to back. Scoots on her knees and forehead to get toys the bigger kids place in front of her. Smiles. Coos. Gargles her saliva.
Foods: We have made homemade baby foods and she has loved them. Butternut squash, zucchini squash, carrots, bananas and applesauce. She gobbles it all up.
Sleep: Slept 7 hrs straight the other night! Best sleeper yet! Of course the big kids were up sick all night, but she slept! So there is hope in our future of a restful night! She does like to stay up until 11:30pm, because after the big kids go to sleep at 8, of course it is her time to shine and hog all of mom and dad's attention :)

Gianna, I love you. I am so proud of you. You have beaten the odds as far as being born so prematurely. You are ahead of all the milestones for a normal infant, far exceeding the milestones for premies your same age. You have been relatively healthy all winter and so far we have escaped nasty bugs. You are such a joy to us all. We love you so much lovebug

Love, Mom

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thyroid Cancer Part 2

So 7 days after receiving my cancer diagnosis, I went into the hospital to have my thyroid removed. Josh was to have his PhD defense the next day. It was a big week. My parents came up to take care of you kids. I still was in a whirlwind, so it was all business to me. I was familiar with the hospital, familiar with health histories, the questions doctors and nurses would be asking, the process of everything. I was all business, let's get in there, get this thyroid and cancer out, and get home and back to life and work. So we went to the OR and a few hours later I woke up in the recovery room. I remember everything here after waking up, I started having some bleeding complications and we had to go back to the operating room. That part was slightly overwhelming, but I won't linger on it here. I was discharged from the hospital the next day and Josh went to defend his dissertation. He did a phenomenal job (I heard) and he passed! It ended up being a very successful week!

Because of the complications, I had quite a bit of bruising from my chin down onto my chest. I was very sore. When the kids got home from daycare Tuesday and saw me, Joseph didn't seem to notice anything strange. But Miriam, you seemed very unsure of why mommy looked funny. And you kept staring uncomfortably at the incision on my neck. My mom had offered to take you guys to Hastings for a few days, and at first I didn't like the thought of missing you, but after realizing I wouldn't be able to snuggle you and my incision was scary to you, I thought it might be a good distraction for you to have some grandparent time. So Gianna stayed here with Josh and I since I was breastfeeding her and you two big kids went to Hastings until Saturday morning.

The following week I met with the surgeon again and found out that they had removed the whole thyroid as well as 2 lymph nodes. The pathology came back showing the nodes to be clear of cancer and that the tumor was all contained within the thyroid gland, so I was cancer free! I still have to have followup visits with lab work and scans every 3 months for the next year at least. And I will meet monthly with an endocrinologist until we get my thyroid supplement medication dosed appropriately. But I am cancer free :) Josh said that I "kicked cancer's butt", but I don't see it that way. I let them cut into me to remove some cancer that I only knew existed for 7 days. At this point they don't recommend radioactive iodine treatment, which is good because I wouldn't be able to breastfeed anymore and I would have to spend more time away from children and work. But if my tests indicate any remaining thyroid cells in my body then I will have to have the treatment at a later date.

At this point it has been 5 weeks since my surgery. I'm still feeling pretty wiped out. They checked my labs and my thyroid levels are within the normal limits. The endocrinologist says sometimes your labs normalize before your feelings do so hopefully they catch up soon. Since my diagnosis, I have completed quite a bit of research on thyroid cancer. Rates have increased more than 274% since 1997. Middle age women, ages 20-45 have a 3 fold increased diagnosis rate. I updated friends and family with a post and recommended that everyone assess their own necks. One of my old coworkers contacted me a couple weeks later and said that after seeing my recommendation, she found a mass in her own neck and she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer a week later. She's 28 and has twin 9mo old girls. Her husband just battled testicular cancer 3 years ago. And I had a patient at the hospital whose mother also found a mass in her neck after hearing my story from another coworker of mine. She is having half her thyroid removed next week after also receiving a thyroid cancer diagnosis. It is scary how common this has become.

All I can say is that you need to be your own advocate. You need to be vigilant, but don't be obsessive. There is not a lot of sense in being overly paranoid, but you do need to be aware of yourself. Having worked in the healthcare industry, doctors (and nurses for that matter) are not experts in everything. They are not gods. Find a physician you can trust that will admit when something is out of their scope of practice and refer you to someone who specializes in the information you need. Be aware. Be curious. Don't just read a pamphlet or take a doctor's word always. Do your own research. With the internet and access to research journals and databases, you can educate yourself.

I hope that this is the end of my personal cancer story. And I hope that my children never have their own. But if any of you find yourself with a cancer diagnosis, know that I have been praying for you since I typed this post. I have been praying that you have strength, wisdom, courage, and humor and that those carry you through your situation. Know that you are loved so very much and that I will always be thinking of you my loves.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thyroid Cancer Part 1

Hey Kiddos -

So I have debated back and forth the benefits of documenting this recent health scare, and I have come to the conclusion that seeing that you all come from my gene pool, one of you might find yourself in a similar situation and it might be helpful to know that your mama has been there too. Proceed with caution, this might get emotional for me as I try to describe my own thoughts and fears :)

Shortly before Halloween of this year, 2013, I was brushing my teeth and looking in the mirror and I noticed a lump to the left of my esophagus, right above my collar bone. I figured it was just a swollen node, as we had all had recent head colds, so probably just related to that. But I kept my eye on it for the next week and it didn't go down. I emailed my doctor, to see if it was anything worth making an appointment for, and he replied that he would see me the following day. He too felt and saw the lump so he set me up for an ultrasound of my neck. I watched the screen out of the corner of my eye as the technician focused in on the mass. I knew I couldn't ask her what she was seeing, as only the radiologist can confirm the findings. But I knew, having worked in the industry, that her focusing in on the lump and taking that many pictures, that something wasn't quite right.

The radiologist called that afternoon and said that there were "some concerning findings" and he wanted me to go see a Head & Neck Oncology surgeon the following week. So on a Thursday I went to see him and his initial thought, due to the fact I was newly postpartum and so young, was possibly Hashimoto's disease, which could be ruled out by a simple blood test. He said that there were indications from the ultrasound that it could possibly be a benign or cancerous tumor, and suggested we also do a biopsy to rule those out. So we did the biopsies right then, where they stuck needles in my neck 4 times, wiggled them around a bit to make sure they got cells, then gave the samples to the lab tech. (I'll give you something to tease your dad about, after the doctor was finished, I hopped out of the chair because I was in the middle of my work day. When I went to tell Josh to come along, even though he hadn't watched or felt the needles, he was white as a ghost and said "I don't think I should stand right now". hehe) That was a Thursday and the following Monday we would hear the result.

So all weekend I tried not to fret or stew on what the results would be. By nature though, I am a planner. I ward off fear with planning. So I had to hope for the best but plan for the worst. I have a full time job, 3 children, and a husband who is about to defend his dissertation.... I have a lot of bases to cover if I potentially have cancer. Monday came and I was on my way to pick up the big kids from daycare and take them to swimming lessons. The surgeon's PA called me and said "the results came back consistent with papillary thyroid carcinoma". "Oh, okay, sounds good!" I said. "Um.... that's cancer" she said after a shocked pause. Then it sank in. I had cancer. I had prepared myself to hear the words "Oh it was nothing, everything came back clear." so my response was what I had prepared beforehand. Then I struggled to absorb those words "I have cancer", as the PA continued to talk on the phone. She said the surgeon wanted to see me the next day to make a plan of action and I agreed and hung up the phone.

I don't think it really hit me that I had cancer. I still don't think it has hit me completely. It is a weird concept complicated by a few factors. First, this type of cancer has a 20yr 99% survival rate. So as they say, it's an "ideal type of cancer to have if you're going to have some". Yet, at the same time, it is cancer. There are mutated cells in my body that could be lethal if not addressed. It took me two days to say the phrase "I have cancer". And that was only when Joseph laid a bomb of a diaper and Josh said "Mama's turn!" and I said "Hey! I have cancer!" in a sarcastic tone. It made us laugh. I found myself when talking about it though, saying "It's cancer" as if it were not a part of me. And in a sense it wasn't. I didn't want it to define me. I didn't want my friends, coworkers, and family look at me with pity. I don't like being seen as weak or damaged. Second, after meeting with the surgeon the next day, we planned surgery for 6 days later. I had daily labs and pre-op physicals and scans to do every day as well as work until surgery. I also had a lot of other stuff to do. So it was such a whirlwind that I didn't really have time to think about it. Which is probably a good thing.

I didn't want to be morbid, but I wanted to be realistic. I was about to have surgery. That carries risks, even little ones. I know that I have a higher likelihood of dying in a car accident, especially with my lead foot, but at this time, I am the main provider for this family and I have 3 children and a husband in grad school. I need to make sure my bases are covered, I need to be realistic. So I spent the next few days making sure bills were paid, paperwork gathered, babysitting covered, insurance taken care of, and then I sat down and completed the hardest task, I wrote you kids letters. I didn't want them to be sappy "goodbye letters". I just wanted something physical that you could hold onto, if ever, whenever anything happens to me. You are all so young right now, I wanted you to have some personal message from me, letting you know that your mama loves you. So I wrote you each a letter and left them in the filing cabinet for if ever they are needed. They are more "thinking of you" letters instead of "goodbye".

I'm splitting this story up before the post gets too long.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Five Favorites

I decided to make a note of the kiddo's five favorite Youtube videos (who knows if the links will work someday when the kids are old enough to read this blog, but we'll give it a shot)

1. This kid is adorable. I want to adopt him. He has 3 videos we all can't get enough of:

Also see his Spinach/Spanish and Karate Kid videos

2. The Talking Twins

Joseph just giggles and giggles when he sees these babies.

3. The Evil Eye

4. The Elmo Slide

They love to dance to this. And since it's a variation of the Cha Cha Slide (which I am a sucker for after a few drinks), we all enjoy participating in this version of the slide.
This is our other favorite dancing video....

5. Laughing Quads

Friday, September 6, 2013

Quick Takes

Quick Takes time

1. Being outnumbered is and isn't as bad as I thought it would be. The worst part about managing a third child so far, has been the fact that she only eats 1oz at a feeding. So every time I nurse her, I have to finish by pumping. And during her one 4hr nap stretch a day, I have to pump in the middle. I am constantly pumping or feeding her. Which leaves little time and no hands to manage the other children. That has been the worst part so far. Luckily the older kids still go to daycare during the day so it allows me time to do a few minutes work around the house in between feeding/pumping sessions.

2. Good news is though that my work in not in vain! Gianna is back up above her birth weight! Porky is weighing in at 5lbs 4 oz this week and her bilirubin levels are down so she is growing beautifully!
Miriam adores Gianna. I love it. I am storing these moments to show her when they are a freshmen and senior in high school and Miriam claims to hate her little annoying sister :)

3. Joseph is a chatty kathy these days. It's hilarious. He commentates everything. This morning as Josh was getting him ready for daycare, I hear Joseph say... "Socks, shoes, socks, shoes. Toes. Joseph toes. Daddy toes. Joseph toes. Nose. Eyes. Daddy shirt. Joseph shirt. Chair. Shoes. Sissy shoes...." and so on and so on. The really funny part is that to the untrained ear, it all would sound like absolute gibberish.

4. I've gotten rehooked on Project Runway since my bedrest in the hospital. Stupid cable tv shows. I really miss my Bravo. And HGTV. And Game Show Network. Oh Supermarket Sweep....

5. It only took 2 weeks, but I braved my first adventure out of the house with the 3 kids all by myself. We went to the park to wear out the older two. As soon as we got there, little Gianna decided she wanted to belly up to the boob and spend the next 2 hrs there. So I'm sitting there at the playground nursing her and Miriam runs past me on her way to the car in the parking lot, full sprint, shouting "I have to go poop QUICKLY!" I whip my head around shouting "Miriam! Out of the parking lot!" and tweek my neck. Badly. So I sprint after her, baby on the boob and all. She drops her pants in the parking lot and lays a big ol' turd. When I get to her, she pulls up her pants, says "I have another turd coming" and I say "go by the tree!" and so she does. Like it's nothing. She just drops her pants at the tree, squats down and leans back against the tree and finishes her business. Then pulls up her pants and looks at me innocent as she says "I need germ-x" Oh parenthood. 
I really never pictured picking up my kids turds with a wipe out of the parking lot and playground like you would a dog. And for the next 36hrs I was unable to look up because my neck was spasming so badly. I had to go get a quick massage the next afternoon which kind of fixed it but still left it very sore. Yep... I think we'll allow some recovery time before braving adventure #2 solo with my posse. 

6. I always think the professional newborn pictures are adorable. I wanted them with the first two children but they are too expensive and so I invested in a really nice camera instead. I haven't regretted it. But with Gianna, I wanted to capture her tininess. My friend Diana has a really nice camera and is trying to start up a photography business so I asked her to take a few photos of G. I really liked the first couple she has shown me.

7. I think the biggest challenge I've faced as a parent is the battle to eat dinner. The kids prefer to stick to the basic requests of chicken nuggets, hot dogs, corn dogs, and hamburger pizza. It is a battle every night to get them to eat "just one bite" of anything else. I read Parents magazines and blog suggestions but I'm almost just resigned to the fact that I have bred the most stubborn children that have ever inhabited this planet.