Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter when we, as Catholics, enter a period of penance, prayer, and sacrifice to prepare ourselves to celebrate Easter. My penance today is sick children - complete with one who hacked so bad from his allergies that he vomited all down his bunk bed and into his sister's (one of the cons of bunk beds) and the other one who has been screaming bloody murder all day from an ear infection that won't go away (after two rounds of antibiotics). All I can say is, after stripping and scouring two beds, inspecting a zillion stuffed animals, steam cleaning one bedroom carpet, and doing five loads of laundry, the one bright part of my day is that Violet has been an angel baby today. She has decided today is a good day for sleeping (which I am sure is going to mean a fun night) - even during the animal inspection! (Can you I Spy the sleeping baby?)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tree's Law

Kind of like Murphy's Law, but in my life!

It never fails - this is the first time Shawn has ventured on an overnight business trip since Violet's birth. The night before he travels to northern Maine, his car is broken into and his GPS stolen (an essential tool for the medical salesman to find those out-of-the-way rural hospitals!). This means an unexpected trip to Best Buy to shell out a couple hundred dollars because Shawn depends on his GPS to do his job. (And me freaking out because there are footsteps in the snow all around our driveway - just the thought of a thief sneaking around our house in the middle of the night now that I am home by myself with the kids. This is why we have a house alarm!)

I actually get my act together and am able to get all four kids fed, dressed, and in the car (it was 11am when we left the house, but I still consider that successful because I did it all by myself). I have packed snacks, drinks, and activities to sustain us through Clare's speech therapy. I herd the four of them inside the building, fighting the driving wind. We wait 15 minutes (which is FOREVER when you're trying to keep little children entertained and not touching everything in sight) before someone finally figures out that Clare's speech therapist took the week off work. Thanks for the phone call!

And then Jamie succumbs to the flu. The actual fever-aches-chills-vomiting flu. On the positive side, he required only 20 minutes of attention before falling asleep in his bed at 5:30pm for the night. It was much harder getting Clare, Simon, and Violet to comply with bedtime, but now they are all asleep by 8pm. (Although I hear little snorts coming from the bouncy seat, so I think my nighttime companion is waking again. Violet missed the memo about being Baby #4. The poor baby is plagued by gas at night, and we are still working on finding out what works best for her. Her worst times are usually 7-9pm and 12-3am. Fun, fun, fun!)

Addendum: As I am now up at 3am with Violet, our house was rocked. There was a loud boom and the entire house literally shook on its foundation. (Thankfully it did not wake up the sleeping children.) Being home alone with four little children, I immediately dialed 911 versus going downstairs to investigate myself. While on the phone with the fire department (trying to figure out if a bulldozer had rammed into our front door), the dispatcher broke into our call stating there were multiple reports of "house rocking" in our neighborhood. Turns out there was an explosion in one of the houses on the street behind us, and the house immediately went up into flames. I can watch from my bedroom window - the sky is white and orange between smoke and flames. I am going to try to go back to sleep, but I will say a prayer for the family who was in that house. I am not sure if anyone could have survived the explosion.

Baby in White

We had a beautiful Sunday, surrounded by family and friends, for the Baptism of Violet Grace. Violet was precious all in white!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rats... Foiled Again

Clare had her pre-op physical yesterday to get the thumbs-up from her pediatrician for her surgery in 10 days. Unfortunately, those thumbs stayed down.

Clare has had a lingering cough from her cold and sinus infection. She also has been very tired these days (her teacher has told me every day this week that Clare seemed tired at school that day). The thought always crosses our minds when Clare seems more tired than usual that there is something going on with her heart. She has her next echo scheduled for mid-April and that cannot come soon enough! But, this time, her lethargy is explained by the lingering cough and congestion and the brewing of an ear infection. She is back on antibiotics (she just finished the course of antibiotics for the sinus infection) and will not stop taking them until the day of her scheduled surgery. So her pediatrician does not want her to undergo the surgery, even though it is a minor one, given her cardiac and pulmonary history.

Clare's ENT only performs these surgeries on the first Monday of the month, so now her frenulectomy is pushed off until April 6. We are disappointed not to have it in a few days (especially since we have been looking forward to seeing how she improves speech- and feeding-wise post-surgery as well as we had all the arrangements in place for Jamie and Simon's care while we were gone). Now probably only Shawn will take Clare, and I will stay home with the boys and baby. I hate being the one left behind, but only one parent is allowed in recovery and Violet is not allowed, so Shawn has to be there with Clare. I would have liked to at least be there to wait and see her before and after the operation, but it can't be helped.

Cousin Casey is Here!

We don't have many details, but Casey Susanne arrived last night! I was talking to my sister Christina on her cell phone on the way to the hospital at 8pm, after her water broke. Next thing we hear, she was having an emergency C-section at 10:30. My mom called after midnight to let us know that both Christina and Casey were okay, but that is the extent of the details this morning. We cannot wait to hear more about Casey's arrival, and our own little brood is so excited to have a baby cousin! (They have never had a baby cousin - they have two terrific older cousins.)

It has been a rough couple of days for Christina and Tee Jay. Thursday night, Tee Jay's 13-year old cousin was killed in a car accident. His aunt and another cousin, also in the car, are in the hospital with serious injuries. After absorbing the shock and grief of this news on Friday, Christina and Tee Jay were dealing with the conflicting emotions of not being able to travel back to RI to be with the family because Christina was almost due (Tee Jay comes from a very close family), while trying to still be excited about their own life-changing event (Christina was scheduled for an induction on February 23). Then Christina's water broke late Friday afternoon. So please keep Christina and Tee Jay, and Tee Jay's family, in your prayers through all these tragic and wonderful events that have happened in their lives over the last few days.

(Later) I just chatted with Christina and all are doing well. Casey was behaving in utero pretty much how Violet was, thus the C-section. My new niece is beautiful!!! (If a little grumpy-looking!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Before we knew whether we were having a boy or girl, part of me really wanted the baby to be a boy. I was afraid what it would be like having another little girl - and a "typical" girl. Would we constantly be comparing Clare and her? Would Clare be left out when her sister had girlfriends, went to the prom, got married, had babies? Would a sister resent having an older sister like Clare? I was afraid of the answers to all those questions (and still am) and just wanted to have another boy to ensure that all those questions remained hypothetical. Then Clare could just continue to be the princess in our house, surrounded by brothers.

Sometimes God has other plans for us, and He sent us Violet instead of another boy. I truly love having another little girl, and I am happy that Clare has a sister. (I have two sisters and know how wonderful that bond can be.) And Clare is delighted with her little sister. She wants to hug, kiss, and love her daily. I still am apprehensive of what the dynamics of their relationship will be as they grow, but I hope both Clare and Violet always treasure the gift of having a sister.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Couch Potato

It's amazing how 21 months can completely erase your memory. I forgot how much time I would spend on my butt on the couch nursing a newborn. When there are a zillion other things I need or want to be doing. (Like the mounds of laundry, dust bunnies everywhere, and my sorely-neglected scrapbooking! Don't roll your eyes, K or R - it really is neglected right now.)

But then as I become the self-titled couch potato, Violet and I are usually joined by another child (if not all). Our days have become filled with simple things like playing Candyland Castle a dozen times in a row (Clare's current obsession), reading any board books we have that feature numbers (Simon's), and poring over puzzle books (Jamie's). I play Planet Heroes and save the universe from the evil antics of Professor Darkness (my hero does not move around that much - did I mention I was still sitting on the couch?). I direct Handy Manny (aka Clare) to whatever needs fixing in the house. I endlessly recite numbers with Simon (sometimes it's like talking with Rainman).

Having a new baby always forces me to just sit back and enjoy my children. The laundry can wait.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Visiting Friends

Violet and I headed down to Boston last night to hang out with Kerry and Brady at Children's Hospital. I couldn't believe how good Brady looked just a few days post-open heart surgery. He was very out-of-it, but looked like a sleeping angel. He was just wearing a diaper, so I had a good look at his incision (and Kerry - who looked great, too, although I know from experience how exhausted she was - did not mind my gawking - I let her gawk over my baby instead). I wonder if Kerry feels how I felt when I first saw Clare's incision. That disbelief that someone cut into your baby and that visible scar is now there forever. As parents, our scars are not physical, but I think they show just as visibly sometimes.

Kerry was taking everything in stride, like she typically does. One of the things I appreciate most about Kerry as a friend is her down-to-earth attitude. She truly understands how to be a good friend. We can share what we're going through and bounce things off each other without feeling like we're adding drama to the other one's life (I've had friends like that and it is not helpful when you have enough of your own drama in your life!).

Although it was weird going back to Children's (we have not been there since Clare's last cath in September 2007) and my visitor ID badge still said Parent/Guardian, it was good to visit with Kerry and see how well Brady is recovering.

On the way out, I visited briefly with Brian, Tarynn's dad. (On top of the stress of having your newborn undergo open heart surgery, Tarynn's mom, Heidi, is recovering from childbirth and a bout with mastitis, so she was sleeping.) Tarynn is still in the cardiac ICU, but making strides toward getting out on the cardiac floor in the future. I am in awe of Brian and Heidi's strength and courage right now. Tarynn is their second child to undergo open heart surgery as an infant, and in the late spring, their 3-year old is most likely having a second open heart surgery. These last three weeks following Violet's birth have been rough for our family - dealing with the recovery of a C-section, adjustment of bringing the fourth child into our family, extremely sleep-deprived parents, and Jamie, Clare, and Simon are now all battling a bad cold and cough and are usually on the grumpier side (Clare's cold has turned into sinusitis, so she is now on antibiotics, but has not turned the corner yet - which is why Shawn and I are even more sleep-deprived because Jamie is the only child sleeping 12 hours through the night right now!). But everything always gets put into perspective when I see what other parents are going through. I feel as if Brian and Heidi are living my personal nightmare - doing the "heart thing" all over again with another child. I know from experience that you do what you have to do and you get through it, but I don't want to ever have to do it again. I can only imagine how Brian and Heidi feel facing this road for the second time. I hope that we truly are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with Clare, since she has been doing so well for over a year now. She has her next echo in late March/early April, so we continue to look for good news.

In the meantime, we continue to keep Brady and Tarynn and their families in our prayers and that they all get to come home soon!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Friends in the Hospital

I am always constantly thinking and praying when other "heart" friends are in the hospital. This week, we knew of two families whose children underwent open heart surgery. Right now, both kiddos are doing well, but are still at Children's Hospital Boston. (And I am hoping to get down there tomorrow night to visit.) Our thoughts and prayers go out to 3-year old Brady (who has WS) and 1-week old Tarynn and their families for continued recovery and smooth transitions home in the near future.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bounce You!

What do you do when you have a brand new baby, mom recovering from a C-section, overworked dad, and a 6-year old birthday boy who wants to have his entire kindergarten class at his birthday party? Bounce U, of course!

We usually do our big birthday bashes at our house, complete with fancy, homemade cakes and creative party games, but we were not up to the challenge this year! Jamie was thrilled to have his birthday party at a party facility filled with giant inflatables - slides, bounce houses, and obstacle courses. He invited his class (and all showed minus two!) and we had our family and some family friends as well. Jamie had a blast, as did all the kids and even the adults! (I won't post the pics of Shawn going down the big slide!) Even Clare and Simon loved bouncing and were non-stop the entire time. It was a fabulous birthday party!

(I've been trying to upload a video taken at Bounce U, but Blogger has not been cooperative. I will keep on trying!)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Monarch Time

Jamie loves our local minor-league hockey team, the Manchester Monarchs. For his birthday, we bought him his first real jersey (as in it cost three figures!!!), since he has been begging for one for over a year now. The next evening, Shawn took Jamie to a game so he could wear his jersey for the first time. I just thought this photo of Jamie at the game was so adorable! (It's all for you, Auntie Erin!!!)

Two Weeks Already

Violet turned two weeks old this past Wednesday - where has the time gone? Oh, yeah, I've been in bed or laying on the couch... ha ha ha... No, seriously, I am starting to be more and more on my feet. I've even picked Jamie up from school, although Shawn had to put the other three kids in the car for me to get there. I have my check-up with the OB next week, so I am hoping to get the thumbs up to do heavy lifting again - gotta get back to the gym. (That is most definitely a joke!)

Violet had her 2-week visit with the pediatrician today. It was her first visit with our regular doctor. The doctor's goal is for the baby to be back to their birth weight by this visit (Violet was 6 lbs, 7 oz at birth), and she weighed in at 7 lbs, 5 oz today! The one issue he had was with her tongue-tie. He took one look at it and said we should have it clipped soon. Although Violet shows no clinical signs of having complications from her tongue-tie right now (because she obviously is not having any problem with her feeding!), the pediatrician predicts that she will have feeding and/or speech issues in the future due to the severity of the tongue-tie. (Like I mentioned before, Violet's tongue actually forks like a lizard's when she sticks it out because the tie is so prominent.) I have not called the ENT yet (it's been a crazy day), but we are planning on doing so next week. At this young age, Violet can still have the tongue released in the doctor's office with just a local anesthetic. Violet's newborn blood tests have not come back yet (which usually means that all is normal), but we are planning on having her thyroid labs repeated in a few weeks regardless due to Jamie's and Clare's history of congenital hypothyroidism. Hopefully Violet's results will turn out like Simon's and we will have another medication-free baby!