Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Game Ball Baby!

Each game, Jacks' coach gives a game ball to the player on the team he feels has earned it.  It may be awarded for great defense, a home run, great sportsmanship, or for whatever reason his coach decides.  Monday night Jack got the game ball!

My little buddy was so excited and proud of himself!  He got a double and hit really well.  He's improved his hitting a lot since the start of the season and he's really worked hard.

I'm so proud of my big boy!

And, by the way, when he saw this picture he said, "Mama!
You look JUST LIKE that girl what was in Scooby Doo!"
Um, thanks?

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Wordy Wednesday: The Work in Progress Edition

Let's be honest.
I've been fat for a long time.  Like, pretty much my whole life.  Let's not call it chubby or heavy or overweight.  I was obese.  There's not any reason to call it anything other than what it is.   I'm not really sure why, and it doesn't really matter.  I love food - I love cooking food, I love eating food.  That's a bad combination, and it leads to this:

Are you kidding me?  I cannot believe that I looked like that.
And I looked like that for a long, long time.  I looked like that before I had children.  I have been overweight pretty much my entire life.  I think eighth grade is when it really started.  I'm not sure why - nothing happened to me.  I didn't have some traumatic life.  I have a great family, I wasn't abused, I have no "reason" I was so fat.  Other than I ate too much, ate the wrong things, and had absolutely no concept of portion control.  In college that just got worse.  And add alcohol to that mix and it just packed on some more pounds.  

I have always had great self confidence, even when I was that fat.  I always had tons of friends, was involved in lots of activities in school, always had a boyfriend (and not fat girl boyfriends - cute boyfriends!), had great jobs, and met my husband when I looked like that.  Being fat - really fat - never seemed to impact my life.  

So then I got married and had four pregnancies in four years.  Right, when you're already fat, that doesn't do much for you.  I would get pregnant, lose a bunch of weight, get pregnant again, lose a bunch of weight, repeat, repeat.  When I delivered Jack I weighed way, way more than I could ever imagine I would weigh.  That was over five years ago.  In June 2012 (four years and five months after Jack was born, mind you) I weighed the same freaking amount I weighed the day I delivered Jack.  Except I wasn't nine months pregnant anymore.  My "baby" was four and a half.  What the hell?  And nobody ever told me that I should lose some weight.  No doctor ever said I was overweight.  (Like I didn't know. . . )  Instead there were passive/aggressive comments.  Really?  If you're going to make those comments, just say, "Hey Kim, you're way too heavy.  You need to lose some weight."  But here's the thing - even if someone had told me that, I wouldn't have lost weight.  I needed to be ready to do it.  Losing weight, as anyone who has actually lost a significant amount of weight can tell you, isn't about what you eat; it's about what you think.  

Last year I realized I had four children and no energy.  When they wanted me to play outside, I didn't want to.  When they wanted to go to the park, I didn't feel like it.  I woke up one day and did not want to be that way anymore.  I also realized that if I continued the lifestyle I was leading, I would have health problems eventually.  It was only a matter of time.  You see, there is a loooong history of heart disease in my family.  Like, everyone on my dad's side of the family.  Risk factors for heart disease?  Among other things factors are family history, poor diet, obesity, and physical inactivity.  My father had a heart attack when he was forty-five years old.  And he didn't have four little kids.  I realized that I would do everything I could to ensure that I have a long, healthy, active life with my children.  I owe them that.  I also owe it to them to set a better example than I was setting.  I do not want my children to struggle with their weight for their entire adult lives.  It sucks.

This is me now.  

I've lost over forty pounds since October.  I started the process with an AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge and started eating clean.  In that twenty-four days I lost fifteen pounds and felt amazing.  I've lost weight before, but it never lasted.  This will last.  Before I think I wasn't really ready to make true lifestyle changes.   Now I work out.  I've completely changed what I eat, when I eat, how I eat, and why I eat.  I've stopped only taking care of everyone else and started taking care of myself.  Nobody else is going to do it for me!  

I'm not skinny, and I probably never will be.  And that's totally OK with me.  I want to be healthy, not skinny.  I want my children to make the right choices with nutrition and exercise and what they put in their bodies and why, and I have to be the person to model those choices for them.  I have more energy than ever before.  I sleep all night without waking up.  I don't have trouble falling asleep.  I am excited to ride bikes with my kids instead of doing it and feeling like crap when we're done.  My skin has never been better.  My clothes fit so much better (uh, or don't fit at all).  There is not one single way I do not feel better than I used to.  And I'm not done.  I'd like to lose about fifty more pounds.  I want to do a triathlon.  I want to finish a half marathon (walking or running - either is fine with me).  If I keep doing what I've been doing, I should be able to lose those fifty pounds by January 1st.  And there's a half marathon with my name written all over it in October.

I'm really proud of myself, and I have no qualms about saying that.  Losing weight is not easy.  Being consistent and losing it slowly over an extended period of time is really not easy.  But I also can't say it's been hard.  And it has been so, so worth it.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Henry's Art Exhibition

Henry had a piece of his artwork selected to be in the second grade collection for our school in the county art exhibit.

Here is his elephant!

I'm so proud of him.  He loves to create art, and he did such a wonderful job.  He was also very, very proud of himself.

This little love wasn't feeling completely like herself.
 Katie loved this little chair!  The exhibit was very crowded, and we spent a lot of time in the little museum/gift shop area, which was far less busy.

The exhibit was held at The Fly Arts Center.  
We had never been there before, and it was a neat place. 

We took a walk after the exhibit and the kids threw sticks in the river.

Jack ran his little heart out on the greenway during our walk.  He has two speeds:  asleep and fast.  There's really no in between with him!

Note to self: don't wear this dress again.
I look pregnant.
And I'm not.
I'm so proud of this boy!

Jack took this!

After the exhibit we had a little ice cream treat to celebrate.

We had a great day and are so proud of Henry!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

A Big Bunch of Random; iPhone Dump

What is this you ask?
Baby hands doing big boy work.
The day those baby hands are big boy hands I will need to be medicated.  He may have the attitude of a big boy, but he's still my baby.  And it needs to stay that way.

New. Favorite. Drink.  
I may or may not hide this in my car so my husband and children don't drink it.  
It's 130 calories per can, and it's my sweet after lunch treat.
There are several other flavors, but this is my favorite.

I have never had long hair.  Ever.  
I am still surprised when I see my own hair and it looks like this!

David + FaceTime = Hilarity.
Anyone know a good orthodontist?

My mom has an at home gel manicure kit, complete with the curing light.  Are you kidding me?  They look as good as getting them done in the salon.  It's supposed to last two weeks.  I'm ROUGH on a manicure.  Let's see how accurate the two week prediction is.

Cake.  It's what's for breakfast.  Always helpful when trying to lose weight and eat a clean diet, no?  I tried a new buttercream icing recipe for this one, after using the same recipe for ten years.  The new recipe is the best buttercream I've ever tried.  For real.  You can find it here.  You're welcome.

It's grilling time!  I love some grilled food, and I'm so glad the weather is warm enough for grilling.  Tonight I had a turkey burger on lettuce with buffalo sauce, red peppers and pickles on top, asian salad, and grilled asparagus.  YUM.

And my saddest thing that happened this weekend. . . I lost my wedding band.  It had been my grandmother's, and I'm so sad about it.  We've retraced my steps as much as possible and left my business card or phone number at the places I had gone, but I don't have a lot of hope that it will turn up.  I don't even care about having to replace the ring; it's the sentimental value that was more important to me.  Thankfully I have my engagement ring still, which had also been her's and has a diamond that had been my great grandmother's as well.  And, of course, I hadn't done a rider on my insurance policy for them so I don't have insurance coverage.  Let this be a lesson to you!  Have your jewelry appraised and included on your insurance!

Henry is Eight!

My sweet baby Henry turned eight this week.  
I cannot believe he is already so big.  

Last year when he turned seven I wrote about how terrified I was of Henry when he was born.  That is completely true.  I was so afraid that I couldn't or wouldn't be a good enough mother to take care of two babies at the same time.  Little did I know, that was the easy part!  Someone should have told me that it only gets harder as they get older.  I still worry every day that I'm not a good enough mother for this crew, but Henry makes me feel like I am.   

Henry is a wonderful child - compassionate, caring, silly, smart, fun, obedient (for the most part), happy, eager, funny, witty, energetic, delightful, and proud.  He has not changed a tiny bit in his sweet personality since the day he was born.  I really think that Henry knew that I needed him to be a good boy literally when he was born, because there have been very, very few challenging moments with Henry through his little life.  He is an incredible boy, and I am so lucky to get to be his mama.  I wish every parent had a child like Henry. 

The birthday cake photo is my favorite every year!

Because we took our birthday trip to Atlanta, we did not have a friend party this year.  On his birthday he brought cupcakes to school to share with his class.  He also had a baseball game that night, so we brought cupcakes to the game for his team to share, and his team sang him happy birthday.  Saturday we had our family over for dinner and a little celebration.

Henry wanted burgers for his dinner, so we made some hamburgers, buffalo turkey burgers, cheesy grilled potato packets, asian salad, and of course cake!

He got his long awaited, desperately coveted, iPod for his birthday, and he's barely put it down.  He loves it.  He also got some iTunes gift cards and a fun Lego set.  He had a lovely birthday, and I am in denial that he is eight.  Happy birthday happy Henry!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Surviving the Spica: No Spica Needed!

Last Saturday, Katie and I met Chris' parents in Nashville to pick David up.  He had been with them overnight for his special birthday weekend.  Katie was all over the playground with her brace on.

It made me sort of sad while we were there to think that she was likely going to have to wear this huge, cumbersome brace for the indefinite future.

It didn't stop her from doing much, but it's certainly a pain.  And let's be honest - it is exceptionally obvious, and for a child who already has a disability with physical features that people think are different, we've got enough different going on; we don't need a brace too.  Katie, however, really didn't seem to care about the brace.  She hates wearing it, takes it off and hides it, yells when it's time to put it on, and slaps it on her leg, but she tolerates it.

Tuesday we went to the hospital for her tubes and her sedated hip exam.  We spent a lot of time waiting in the surgical waiting room.  (Like, three hours a lot of time waiting.)

She was such a good girl, and she entertained most of the people in there as she pushed a shopping cart around, and around, and around, and around the room waiving to people and telling them goodbye.  Seven people in that waiting room told me they loved her hair, which cracked me up.  It's not some unique haircut!

I cracked up when I saw this on her pre-op intake information.  "Down's facies".  I guess that could be offensive to some people, but according to the dictionary "facies" means "a facial expression characteristic of a pathological condition."  It sounds like a word Jack would use.

Once we got moved back to the pre-op section, Katie knew what was up.  And her patience went out the window.  We had to wait a little longer than normal, because her ENT doctor wasn't actually in surgery that day; he was seeing patients.  We knew that, and I'm so appreciative that he was willing to run over to do her tubes so she didn't have to be anesthetized on a different occasion for it.  We have the best doctors!

Some children snuggle with a stuffed animal . . . Katie snuggles with an iPad.
With a monogrammed cover.

Her exam by her orthopedic doctor was quick.  Chris and I were STARVING by the time they finally took her back (no eating or drinking in the waiting room, as none of the children in there can have food or drink) and ran downstairs to the dining area to get something to eat.  As soon as we came back up, they put us in a consult room to wait for her doctor.  He had a big smile on his face when he came in and said he had good news and bad news.  The bad news was that he couldn't get her hip to dislocate, no matter what position or with what force he tried.  It would not come out of the socket.  That's also great news!  Based on her symptoms when she "dislocates" and the fact that he couldn't get it to dislocate at all, he is quite confident that she doesn't, in fact, have hip dysplasia.  That's the best news we could have gotten.  Hip issues for people with Down syndrome are life long problems.  

He now believes that she has iliotibial band syndrome.  Essentially what is happening is that the iliotibial band (the huge band of muscle that runs down your thigh) is getting hooked on part of her hip, and it gets stuck.  When that happens, her leg is stuck in the same position it would be if it were to dislocate.  He said that the symptoms are essentially identical.  It is excruciatingly painful, the leg is locked in one position, and you hear a pop when the muscle releases (as you do with a hip dislocation when it pops back in).  All of that describes what has happened to Katie.

It's an injury that a lot of runners get, but it can also be caused by:  flat feet, supination of the feet, excessive lower leg rotation from pronation of the foot, bowed legs, weak hip abductor muscles, and a weak multifidus muscle.  (You may note, all of those causes are also issues for people with Down syndrome, including Lady K.)  This is a much better problem for her to have than hip dysplasia.  This can be repaired with a surgical procedure, which is far less invasive than the osteotomy we were anticipating.

The plan now is to go back to see him in three months.  No brace until then!  YAHOO!  He wants it to happen again.  If/when it does, we are to take pictures and video as much as possible, then get her to an ER and have them x-ray the leg in the "dislocated" position without repositioning her legs so he can be one hundred percent certain that the hip is in the socket when she has this issue.  We are very encouraged and feel good with the results.  And never in my life have I so badly wanted her leg to "dislocate" again!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Surviving the Spica: Change in Plans

Monday Katie and I were back at Vanderbilt for her pre-op CT scan.

We were there from 3:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. for a scan that probably took fifteen minutes.  She had to be completely still for it, so she had to be sedated.  Hence the three and a half hour procedure that really took fifteen minutes.

Katie was a trooper!  She didn't cry at all when they put in her IV - she just looked at them and said, "BOO BOO!"  She was more irritated by the cover they put on the IV than anything else.

She couldn't eat anything all day long.  And by all day I mean after 7 a.m.  I would be miserable if that were me, and Katie was completely normal.  I guess maybe four years and eleven months in an orphanage makes you more able to withstand hunger.

So then while we're waiting for her to be taken back the child life specialist brought her a toy to play with . . . it was pretend food.  Uh, she hasn't eaten all day!  She tried to each each thing in that basket.

When we were discharged, the doctor who did the scan told me that I could call her surgeon Wednesday to get the results of the scan.

Wednesday morning at 8:00 I called the doctor and left a message for a nurse to call me back and let me know about the scan.  And then I sort of forgot about it.  My phone rang around noon, and it was Katie's doctor himself calling.  The first thing he asked me was how the brace is working out.  He then proceeded to tell me that the scan didn't show him what he was expecting.  What he planned to do in surgery on the 16th was essentially to reshape her femur and reposition it in her hip socket.  The scan showed him that her bones "look beautiful".  While that sounds great, it means she can't have the surgery that he was planning to do.  You know, the surgery that was going to fix this dislocation issue.

Now?  Now we don't know why her leg is dislocating.  He said since it's not a bone issue, it is a soft tissue issue (say that ten times fast).  He said he was disappointed that this is what he found and that, in her situation, it is the worst case scenario.  Not what I wanted him to say.  We had a very lengthy conversation and he discussed a lot of possible options, one of which is continuing to wear a brace until her growth plates close and then operating.  Hey!  Her growth plates will likely be open for five more years!  That would not be fun.  At all.  Five years of not fun at all, in fact.  

What's the plan now?  Uh, we don't know.  And I hate that.  With the surgery, we knew it would be a big surgery.  We knew there would be lots of painful days and sleepless nights.  We knew we would have to deal with the spica cast and a long recovery.  We were ready.  We knew that it would likely resolve the issue.  Now?  Now we are back to knowing nothing.  Well, I guess we know slightly more than nothing, as we know that she has hip dysplasia on the left side.  But we sure don't know what to do about it!

Tuesday we will go to the surgical appointment as scheduled.  Her doctor will sedate her, dislocate her leg while she's sedated, and watch with some special camera he has to see what happens when her leg dislocates.  He will determine if she dislocates to the front or back or both, and what her muscles, tendons, and ligaments are doing when her leg dislocates.  And we'll figure out from there what we can do.  She will also still get her tubes placed (in her ears) as scheduled, and I hope that will help with her speech.

Because of her young age and because of her Down syndrome (which means her soft tissue is already far more relaxed than a "normal" person) he did not sound very optimistic that there is a real fix at this stage.  He does believe that when she had her first episode of dislocation that we are aware of (which was in September) she damaged the soft tissue around the ball of the femur in the hip socket.  Because her leg continues to dislocate, that tissue has never healed and just keeps re-injuring.  One thing he mentioned was having her wear the brace to keep the leg relatively immobile and allowing that tissue to heal and scar, which may help to keep her leg in position.  My prediction is that we will leave Tuesday with no more real answers than we have now.  I think he will tell us to wear the brace and come back in six months to re-scan.  

I'm disappointed, and I'm discouraged.  I wanted this to be fixed.  I wanted to get on the road to healing.  I didn't want her to have to endure such a painful process, but I knew it would be worth it in the end.  Is this the end of the world?  Absolutely not.  She could have so many bigger, more challenging things to deal with.  A brace is not going to kill us; it will merely inconvenience us.  If that's what we have to do, we will do it.  It is just disappointing to think we have an answer and find out that we in fact don't.  I'm keeping a very open mind about it and we will roll with whatever our doctor tells us.  I trust him completely, and he is very knowledgeable about the hip and particularly hip dysplasia and children with Down syndrome.  I firmly believe we could not be in better hands.  We'll figure this out for my girl - it must may not be on my timetable, and that's OK!

One Year Ago: It's Official!

April 12, 2012

Happy One year anniversary to our sweet Katherine Ruth!  One year ago a judge named Chris and me as Katie's legal parents.  What a year we've had.  We are so lucky to be Katie's parents and so thankful that we have this job.  Katie is absolutely amazing, and we could not have been given a better gift.  

She has changed SO much in every way, but most noticeable is obviously the physical change.  

Our sweet Lady K celebrated our one year court anniversary by losing her first tooth!

She lost it at lunch at school, and her teacher said she was very excited and had to show all of her friends the tiny tooth.  

Can't wait until next month when we celebrate our first gotcha-versary! 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Batter Up!

For three years, Jack has wanted to play baseball.  
In 2011 he was signed up to play.  And broke his arm.
In 2012 he was signed up to play.  And broke his arm.
2013 is his year!

His first game was Monday night.  He was SO excited.  When he got up Monday, he game downstairs in his baseball pants and said, "It's baseball day baby!"  He was ready!

He hit the first pitch thrown to him and got on base!
How tiny does he look out there?!  His team is 5-6 year olds.  It's based on your January 1 age (and really Jack was four then) so some of the kids are really already seven or are turning seven very soon.  He just turned five, so he's literally the smallest kid on his team.  And probably the scrappiest.  

He was up three times to bat, got three hits, and made it to first or second base each time.  His team won 14-0!  He was so happy and proud of himself.  And he told me all about it at 2:00 a.m. when he couldn't sleep because of his excitement.  Here's to a great season!