Saturday, April 9, 2011

The First Sleepover

Last night, M had one of his little kindergarten friends over for a sleepover.  It was loud, raucous, and a lot of fun.  The highlight of the evening was giving the boys (and tagalong L) a couple of glow sticks and setting them loose out back after dark.  

Authentic, hand-crafted sign designed to keep girls out.
The boys slept in the tent that we have in what should be our formal dining room.  (Wait.  You don't have a tent up in your living room?)  Over the course of the evening and in to the wee hours of the morning, I discovered that kindergarten boys giggle and shriek exactly like little girls.  Go Figure.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Family Vacation

This year for Spring Break, we packed the car and hit the road for San Antonio.  We were only gone a few nights, but we hit up two main attractions:  the Alamo and Sea World.  The plan was to get up early and hit the road before sunrise and let the kids sleep most of the way in the car.  Yep.  That did not happen.  Sure, we got the kids up early, but they did not pay attention to the part of the plan that called for them to fall asleep.  So everyone was awake the whole time on the way down (though I may have dozed off for a moment or five).

Our car is a little old-school in that it does not have built-in DVD players for the kids, so we had to entertain the kiddos the old-fashioned way, through lots of songs and stories.  Since we were en route to San Antonio, I figured why not teach the kids the good old Texas classics.  We spent a great deal of time singing Deep in the Heart of Texas.  I could not remember all the lyrics to Yellow Rose of Texas, but I managed to teach the kids a modified version.  We listened to Johnny Cash's version of Remember the Alamo a number of times, but I opted not to teach the kids the lyrics -- we'll wait until they're a little older.  Of course I had to regale the kids with the story of the Alamo (somewhat edited, of course, to accommodate the 3 year old and 5 year old in the car).  M was totally engaged in the history of the battle and was, of course, reverent when he entered the shrine.  I was very proud of my budding historian.

Overall the trip was a success - fun was had by all.  The ultimate highlight was the visit to the Alamo.  M and L had already seen it once, but it was Steve's very first time.  I suppose that makes him a true Texan now.

Ooooh look!  An old cannon!   
Yep, they're brother and sister.
Happy visitors!  Lauren was clearly still saddened by the loss of the heroes.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Subchorionic Hemorrhage

It's been a while since I've posted, not that we've been terribly busy doing fantastic things mind you, we've just been busy with everyday, run-of-the-mill stuff, which, when you think about it, is awesome.  That being said, lately we've been processing something rather heavy - a subchorionic hemorrhage. 

I'll spare you the gory details, but in a nutshell within the past six weeks I had to make a handful of emergency visits to my OB/GYN because of irregular bleeding.  I underwent a battery of ultrasounds and other assorted probes only to be told to take it a little easy and just wait and see.  Which, of course, I did.  It was tense and stressful (let's not forget about the antibodies) and I wasn't on official bed rest, so I couldn't even kick back and watch my stories.  Fast forward a few weeks and another OB/GYN visit and we've gotten the all clear.  The clot is no longer visible and the bleeding has subsided, so we are very thankful.

Soooo...this hemorrhage on top of the antibodies on top of the fact that I'll be over 35 when #3 comes around, which in medical jargon translates to me being older than Methuselah and opens up yet another batch of potential problems, has made for a pregnancy unlike the previous two.

Spring Break 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Kids, the LARPers

The other day, I overheard this interesting exchange between L and M.

M to L:  Let's play Star Wars, you be Qui Gon and I'll be Darth Maul.  I'll use the lightsaber, you can use your unicorn.

...grunting and swiping that results in L crying...

M to L:  Ok, Ok,  You can be Darth Maul now.  I'll be Obi Wan.

L to M:  NO!  I'll be Darth Vader.  You be Obi Wan.

...grunting and swiping that results in M stalking off angrily...

Alas, no pictures of the kids in battle.  This is from 12/2010.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What I forgot about being pregnant

Given that this is our third pregnancy, you would think that I would have the hang of it down by now.  Alas, I seem to have forgotten a number of things about what it feels like to be pregnant.  I know pregnant women are supposed to glow and have fabulous hair and skin and have inordinate amounts of energy to nest and clean, but apparently I have forgotten the, how do I put this delicately, blahs of pregnancy.  Please indulge me for a moment while I wallow in self-pity.

This day-long "morning" sickness really blows.  Though I do not have any solid evidence, I firmly believe that it was a crusty old male doctor who coined the phrase "morning sickness."  

My gag reflex is hypersensitive, which makes brushing my teeth awkward and dangerous.  I had this with #1, #2, and now #3 is right on track.

My sense of smell is also hypersensitive.  I nearly lost my lunch in the grocery store when I passed by the meat counter.  That elderly lady in the salmon cardigan probably thought I was having some sort of seizure.

Finally, I contend that my emotions are also in hyperdrive.  On Sunday night, when Randy Newman sang "We Belong Together" at the the Oscars, I kind of lost in on the couch.  Steve made fun of me, so I tried to blame it on my pregnancy hormones and he replied that I was not that pregnant and therefore had no excuse to be crying over Randy Newman.  He is clearly made of stone.

Thank goodness babies and kids are cute.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What's in a Name?

The other day, L and M decided to offer up some suggestions for the baby's name.  If we go with any of these choices, it looks like we'll end up with a flower child or a nerd.

L's Suggestions:  Rainbow, Unicorn, Purple, Polka Dot, or Baby.

M's Suggestions:  Skywalker, Yoda, Chewie, Jedi, or Darth Maul.

Darth Maul Chalmers. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm no expert

The other day, someone asked me why I was posting all this personal stuff on the blog.  I am not all that great at thinking on my feet, so I mumbled some response about sharing our story with other people.  That individual made a good point though, since we are dealing with some heavy issues and by posting them on the blog, I went ahead and made them public news...well, "public" for my blog anyway.  I suppose we could keep our experiences a secret, but the way that I am looking at it, for now at least, is if I can offer a tiny tidbit of information to someone else who may be wrapping their head around antibodies, for example, then I suppose it is worth it.  Not that I am saying, of course, that my measly little posts should be the go-to sources for information concerning any of my topics.  From antibodies to ligers, there is probably someone out there who knows more than me.  So please seek the advice of your doctor (or your local liger expert).

My liger expert.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blood Antibodies and Pregnancy, anti-Jka and anti-c

As I was saying, in late 2007 we found out that in addition to the anti-JKa antibodies, I also had anti-C antibodies (also known as "little c antibody") floating around my system.  As is the case with the anti-JKa, the anti-C poses no problem unless you are pregnant with a child that possesses the antigens for those particular antibodies.  Since we were not pregnant immediately after bringing Lauren home, we did not think too much of it - just filed it away in the backs of our minds.

Flashforward to present day and now we have two antibodies to fret about.  My new OB has me on the same plan that we followed in Kentucky.  At every appointment I will undergo a ritual bloodletting, which will be used to measure the antibodies in my system.  If the levels stay low, then we are in the clear until the next appointment.  If the levels begin to increase, then I will have to come in to discuss the options, though I am not exactly sure how high these levels need to be before we take any action.  As far as I can tell, the anti-C operates in the same manner as the anti-JKa; however, the anti-C is in the Rhesus blood group system, whereas the anti-JKa is in the Kidd group.  Again, my "biology for non-majors" background is not too helpful right about now, so I am not entirely sure if one is "worse" than the other, though I am fairly confident that neither are awesome to have.  With this pregnancy, I have had two titers so far and both results have come back at low/minimal levels - hopefully we can keep this up through September!

M & L in February 2009.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blood Antibodies and Pregnancy, anti-Jka

Midway through my first trimester with L, my OB informed me that my routine blood tests  reported a positive antibody titer.  She determined that I was carrying the anti-Jka antibody.  Since I did not test positive for this when I was pregnant with M and I had not had a blood transfusion since he was born, we determined that the antibodies in my blood probably came from M's blood mixing with mine during his delivery.  I am no scientist, but from what I gather, Steve passed to M a blood component that was "normal" in him, but "foreign" to my body.  When M's blood somehow infiltrated mine, it made my body think that it should build a defense against this component just in case it should ever encounter this particular creature again.  

Now that I was pregnant a second time, those antibodies became an issue as they could potentially recognize this foreign blood in the baby that I was carrying, and attack.  Eventually this could result in hemolytic disease of the newborn.  My anti-Jka antibodies, which target antigens in the Kidd blood group, can travel across the placenta and attack the fetus's red blood cells if it happens to be carrying components of the Kidd blood group.  Over time, this can result in severe anemia and ultimately multi-organ failure in the baby.  The good news was that if the baby could be born without my antibodies attacking, meaning the baby was not carrying the antigens, then there was no further risk to the child.  This was strictly a problem in utero.

When my doctor was explaining all of this to me, I kept flashing back to what I had briefly read about the Rh sensitization and I knew, or I thought I knew, that there was some sort of shot, or something, that was able to help women who were dealing with that.  I asked my OB and she gently told us that there was nothing we could do about the antibodies except undergo regular blood tests to monitor their levels.  As long as they stayed low, then all was well.  Should my antibody levels start to rise, then that would be an indicator that teeny tiny baby L carried the offensive antigens.  If that happened, my OB would conduct further blood tests to confirm fetal anemia and in the worst-case scenario teeny tiny Baby L would have to undergo an intrauterine blood transfusion or she would undergo transfusions in the newborn period depending on far along in my pregnancy I was.

Naturally, this was all ridiculously impossible to wrap my head around.  Antibodies?  Antigens?  Kidd blood group??  Why didn't I pay more attention in "biology for non-majors" in undergrad?  Of course I went to the internet and I did not find much - either complicated, medical-jargon heavy articles or other moms in my position posting questions on assorted forums.  I found stories with happy endings and stories with tragic endings.  Eventually, I made myself stop scouring the internet and I trusted what my doctor said.  At every appointment, I surrendered a vial of blood and waited for the nurse to call me with the news.

Fortunately, throughout the duration of my pregnancy, my antibody levels remained at safe levels and L was born, as scheduled, on 16 July 2007.  She was born with high billirubin levels and had to be admitted to Kentucky Children's Hospital for a one-night stay where she got to sleep under a special light machine.  Whether or not the antibodies contributed to L's jaundice is debatable.  My antibody levels remained low and she had a mild case of jaundice, but I'm not sure if they would be able to make a significant link between the two.  To be honest, once she was born, we kind of forgot about the antibody business until I received confirmation from my OB that in addition to the anti-Jka antibody that I developed from M, during the course of L's delivery the same scenario had happened and now I had the anti-C antibody (little c antibody).  But more on that later...

30 July 2007

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pssst! It's top secret, kiddos.

It all began on Friday, February 11th, when Steve and I took the kids with us to Babies R Us to look at a new car seat for Lauren.  Steve and I knew that if we wanted any chance of fitting all three car seats in the second row of our car, we would need a slimmer, trimmer car seat for L, since the one she is in now is a behemoth.  While Steve and I were debating between two models, we gave M and L some tasks to keep them occupied.  We told them to pick out some bibs and sippy cups just in case we had any baby visitors.  M & L were so cute and generous with their selections, that I knew they would be so excited to find out that we were actually expecting a little one of our own in September.  Later on that evening, we told the kids and they were quite excited.  We ended up telling them a littler earlier than we had planned, but I just couldn't keep the secret from them any longer.  Of course, we swore them to secrecy - explaining that this would be a special family secret for just the four of us.  The kids were totally on board with that and even promised not to tell anyone.

On Saturday, February 12th, barely 12 hours later mind you, my parents came over to watch M's basketball game.  They were barely in the house for a nanosecond before M spilled the beans.  He was quite adamant about it and clearly very excited.  At first I downplayed his declarations with comments like, "Oh, you mean L is getting a new baby DOLL."  But this went on for hours and M was becoming quite confused and even a little sad - thinking that we were not actually going to be having a baby.  So over lunch, when M brought it up yet again, I caved and confirmed M's story.  There was happiness all around.
You know, a baby doll.  Get on board with the secret, M.
The moral?  If you need to keep a secret, be sure NOT to tell my kids.  They're lousy at keeping secrets.  I mean, they are 5 and 3, so this should not come as a huge surprise, but still.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Triple Whammy!

Come September, we'll be outnumbered.  That's right, Steve and I are expecting another little bundle of joy!  Both M and L were born in the horse capital of the world, Lexington, Kentucky.  With two wildcats running amok down here, perhaps a longhorn will help control the chaos.

Standard hospital picture of M, taken on his second day on the planet - 8/4/05.

Similar picture of L, taken 7/17/07.  (She's a yellow bean here, because she had jaundice.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Day in Texas

When I went to bed last night, I kind of figured that the kids would not have school today, and sure enough after a night of fitful sleep (due to the sound of sleet hitting the windows), I woke up at 5:00am to find that M didn't have school today.  I turned off my alarms and snuggled back in to bed and sure enough...not even 10 minutes later, M was in our room.  He was up and ready to go.  So much for sleeping in on a snow day.

After living in Ohio and Kentucky for a while, I'm not all that amazed by snow.  The kids, however, were harping on me incessantly all morning to go out and play in the snow.  I'm not sure what they thought it was going to be, but I tried to explain to them the difference between full-on snow and the weird sleet-ice-trace-amount-of-snow combination that we had going on.  In any case, I made them eat lunch first and then we went outside to explore the winter wonderland.

Snow Eater Extraordinaire 
Ice Stomper Extraordinaire

Looking for more snow to eat.

A bright sunshiny snow day!

Snow ball fight!

February 1, 2011

July 16, 2010

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Full Contact Basketball? I'm not sure we signed up for this.

I read this post by a friend of mine and it has had me thinking for a few days now.  No, I don't think she's failed as a parent.  Far from it.  Her kids are bright, happy, healthy, absolutely adorable, and I've only seem them be nothing but polite.  But no matter how well we "train" our kids in the art of interacting with other people, there is no way we can control how other parents train their kids.  Do I want to be the mom who goes off on another mom whose child is bullying one of my own?  Not really.  In a perfect world, the other parent would be a parent in the true sense and take care of the offending child's behavior and we could broker a peace deal over coffee and juice boxes.  Alas, playground politics don't usually work out that way.

Right now, M is having some trouble with a brat punk jerk bully on his basketball team.  This bully has managed to include elements of football, ultimate fighting, and Dynasty-esque slapping into the basketball practices and games.  Sure, these kids range in age from 5 to 7, so they are still learning the rules and, for the most part, the coach has done a stellar job of wrangling this bully, but practices and games are crazy (hello...the kids are 5 to 7 years old) and there are times when this little bully gets away with stuff.  Of course, I know about this because I'm on the sidelines at all the practices and games and I see it happen, but I've never gone over to the bully to rectify the situation.   But you know who else is there on the sidelines?  The bully's parents.  They've sat through a number of practices and several games watching their spawn wreak havoc on and off the court and haven't said a word.  I think that juicy tidbit is what angers me the most.  If I saw M running amuck like that, I'd definitely be having stern words with my boy.

In any case, up until a week ago, I didn't want to be the mom who lays into another mom.  However,  everything changed at last week's practice.  Some time during the course of Thursday's practice, this bully called M a, "bitch."  Really.  This word wasn't even on M's radar and now, thanks to this bully, it is.  I took a day to process this and I decided a carefully-worded email to the coach would be my first move.

Hi Coach,
I'm writing this brief email to let you know about something a little unsettling that happened during last night's practice.  It seems as if a little boy on the team (not C-----) called M------ a "b-tch" last night.  Another team member brought it to my attention - apparently she witnessed the name calling.  Even though that particular word isn't really on M------'s radar yet, he does understand that it's a bad word and he's pretty bummed about the whole affair.  We've been working on the whole "words can hurt" lesson at home and now M------ is all full of questions about why one of his teammates would call him a mean name.  M------'s pretty shy and a little overwhelmed on the court, so we are not making a huge deal about this because we are trying to emphasize the fun parts of basketball.  In any case, I understand that your role as a volunteer basketball coach does not include policing everything that comes of out the kids' mouths, but I'm wondering if you'd be able to give the team a little pep talk either this Saturday or next Thursday - whichever best fits your schedule.  Perhaps you could remind them that since they are all on the same team they should work together, not call each other names, and have fun.
Liz Chalmers
(M------'s mom)

I heard back from the coach almost immediately and he was completely on board with my suggestion and in a subsequent email I admitted which particular kid it was and the coach said he'd bring it up one-on-one with the parents.  That should be an interesting conversation.  Hopefully this unfortunate incident will help get this bully under control and the rest of the team can relax a little.  M seems to be enjoying basketball, but I can tell that he's intimidated by this little bully and I don't want him to lose interest in a fun sport just because there's a feral punk on his team.  If I want to think on a grand scale, perhaps this incident will knock the feral punkishness right out of this boy, because if he's this much of a bully when he's in the first grade, I don't want to know him in junior high or high school.

So, even though I don't want to be the mom who goes off on another mom whose child is bullying mine, I will if I need to.  It's my job to keep them safe - physically safe and emotionally safe - and I want them to know that I've got their backs.  

Matthew is number 13.  Go Spurs!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Adventures in Cowtown

Yesterday M was home from school, but L still had nature school, so it ended up being a special M Day.  On days like these, I like to try new things that might otherwise be somewhat difficult when there's an ornery three-year-old in tow.  So, we got up early and headed over to Fort Worth to check out the going's on of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.  The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is the nation's oldest, continuously running livestock show and rodeo.  I believe the first stock show took place in 1896 and in 1918 they hosted the very first indoor rodeo.

Quick Disclaimer:  I grew up over on the "Dallas side" of the Metroplex, so when we moved to Colleyville in 2008, I wasn't too familiar with Fort Worth.  By now, we're quite at home on "this side" of the Metroplex and enjoy going to the Fort Worth Zoo, the Colonial Golf Tournament, and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.  Yesterday's trip to the Stock Show was my first and I'm glad I could enjoy it with M.  Here's what we did.

Our first stop was the Watt Arena to watch a few rounds of the Longhorn Cattle Show.  We caught the Texas Longhorn Breeders of Tomorrow - Youth Division, which meant that the people showing the cattle were kids.  One little girl was in third grade, at most.  Seriously, the cow was taller than she was.  I'd like to say that M was impressed by the little girl's achievement, but when you can witness cows going potty making fresh cow pies, then nothing can really compete with that.  One poor boy had trouble with his heifer - she laid down on her side and refused to get up.  The boy, the wranglers, and even the judge worked for a good 20 minutes before they were able to get her out of the judging area.  I'm pretty sure we had that cow for lunch.  After the excitement of cowpies and lazy cows, we moseyed through the barns and took a gander at all the animals.

M would NOT stand next to the Longhorn.  He wasn't afraid of being poked or speared, rather he feared falling into the ginormous cow pie.
Do you think a five-year-old can resist crowing like a rooster when he's surrounded by cages of crowing roosters?
Goats are crazy.
After we sized up the animal barns, we hit the carnival and midway.  The Stock Show was very much NOT crowded, so we were pretty much the only ones in the carnival and midway section - which meant that the carnies and the barkers had only us to do carnie stuff at and bark at.  In spite of that, M had a blast because he never had to wait for a single ride.

What do you call a non-Dumbo elephant ride?  Kind of creepy. 
And there's nothing wrong with the name "The Dragon Wagon," either.  Right? 

Thankfully the petting zoo and pony ride area were a bit more populated.  I discovered that M is generous, if somewhat naive, when it comes to feeding animals in the petting zoo.  We spent nearly 20 minutes and two cones of pellets feeding the four fat goats that hung out by the entrance.  Those goats totally owned him.

I'm fairly certain M alone gave those goats their RDA of livestock pellet and cone.
Knock Knock.  Who's there?  Alpaca.  Alpaca who?  Alpaca the feed if you pack the cones.
M riding "Brownie," while The World's Most Enthusiastic Pony Ride Helper helps.
There's my guy.
Yesterday was immensely fun and we are definitely going back next year with a certain ornery little girl who will love the goats.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Budding Ansel Adams

For Christmas this year, we got the kiddos some digital cameras.  They've been messing with ours for quite a while, so we decided to surprise them with their very own.  L's camera is one that is designed for little hands and big drops, while M's is a little more grown that it has a zoom feature and a flash.  Here's a sampling of what M has deemed worthy to photograph.

L, dressed for Valentine's Day, on December 30th.
Me and a not-so-happy L.
Thunder and assorted dolls.
Close-up of couch pillow - probably could've done without the flash.
M's Lego treasure trove.
You can see from the pictures that we've been hanging out indoors lately.  It's been a bit chilly here, but once it warms up, we are planning on going to the neighborhood park to take some nature pictures.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bulbs are Fun to Plant and Grow!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season!  We had a great time hanging with family and friends.  M and L really seemed to understand Christmas this year.  Perhaps we've watched 'Talladega  Nights' a few too many times, because the kiddos were extremely excited about Little Baby Jesus's birthday.  What about Santa, you ask?  Why yes, Santa had a big influence over us this year.  It's amazing what a phone call or an email from Santa can do to elicit good behavior from children.  We've spent the past few days playing with new toys, chowing down on holiday goodies, and watching (and re-watching) 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' and 'Night at the Museum.'  If anything, I'll be glad to see the kids go back to school so that I don't have to hear the high-pitched chipmunk voices for a while and don't get me started on Ben Stiller's comedic hijinks and excessive mugging.

L received a unique gift from her Nature School teachers.  We found this school in Summer 2009, when M attended a one-week summer camp there.  In addition to its summer programs, River Legacy Nature School also offers a NAEYC accredited preschool.  Last year M attended the Wednesday morning program and this year L is enrolled in the full-day class that meets on Mondays.  She absolutely loves it there, which is why she was so excited to get to work on the holiday gift from her teachers...a paperwhite bulb.

Thanks Ms. Toni and Ms. Ellis!

Assessing all the components and getting ready. 
Filling the bottom of the cup with a layer of gravel. 
Placing the bulb on the gravel. 
Adding gravel until only the top of the bulb peeks out. 
Every bit of gravel has its special spot.

Adding the water.

Hopefully the bulb will thrive, provided the cats and the kids leave it alone.
Happy 2011 Everyone!