Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Week of Firsts

This has been a week of "firsts" for us. Miss Beth took her first train ride on "James" (actually the Light Rail which looks nothing like James or any other steam engine). She also went ice skating with me today.

The train trip was a bit of revelation for us. It was my hare-brained idea to take the train down to McDonald's for lunch. My thought was that we could let the kids play in the indoor playland, get lunch and then take the 3 mile train ride back to the historic district. It is a short walk from the light rail station to our home. What could go wrong?

We managed to get down there without too much trouble. It was the trip home that was difficult. To be more specific, it was the process of getting from McDonald's, out the door and to the light rail station that was the most troublesome. In the span of ten minutes, Beth threw a stupendous fit on the McDonald's floor earning giggles from every other mother who had been there but at the same time, mortifying Mike. I was about to lose my cool as well. Elliott thought the whole thing was hysterical.

We don't really know why Beth suddenly decided to counter anything she is offered or asked to do. She just hit the point where nothing in God's green earth met her approval be they chocolate chip cookies, Mommy, Daddy, play, no play, eat, no get the picture.

We carried her out into the cold without shoes, gloves or a jacket because we couldn't get anything on her. In the process of walking out the door and down the street to get to the train, Mike announced that there was no way in H^&* that he was going to get on a plane with Beth to go visit his mother.

I admit that his prediction that we might not actually make it down to Arizona without grounding the airplane is probably correct. The latest decision is to send Mike and Elliott down there without Beth and me. ...I wonder who is getting the better end of this deal?

Oh, the other first? This is the first time that I admitted Mike was absolutely, 100 percent correct.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Beth does NOT like Santa!

We met Santa a few weeks ago. Poor Beth had other things on her mind besides sitting on the lap of a strange man with a beard! You might enjoy taking a peek by clicking on the link above. Copyright prevents me from taking an illegal screen shot or scanning the photo so that I can post it here. Besides, I'd like to credit Katchinyakandid Photography for capturing such a hysterical moment!

Here is a happier moment captured last weekend as we stood in front of our Christmas tree. I had intended on capturing a nice family moment at the tree farm but Beth had other things in mind (or OUT of her mind).

Here is the story...she had a major meltdown at the Christmas Tree farm. Beth wanted to carry back the saw we had used to cut down said tree and despite her ministrations, I refused. She resorted to kicking and rolling about in the bright red dirt while I held the coveted saw and limb loppers from her grasping hands. Daddy and Elliott were lugging the 8-foot tree (more like a 10-footer if you asked Mike) up and down two small valleys to the car. I couldn't pick up Beth with the pruning implements in my hand and yet I had no help in sight.

Three families wandered by with knowing smiles on their faces. When I finally did manage to get her back to the car, she tried running "back to the forest" when only 10 minutes before she was yelling "back to the car."

While Daddy tried to tie on the tree, I tried to tie Beth into the car seat...another thing she did not want to do that afternoon. We struggled long enough for the family next to us in the parking lot (one of the same who saw Beth's tantrum on the forest floor) to skip back to the car, drop their tree into the truck bed, load up the kid and drive off. Ten minutes later while we were still trying to get Beth in the car seat and the flippin' tree onto the roof, this same family drove back into the parking lot. I don't know why... I don't know how long they were away...

Some time later (actually it was at some point in the middle of the forest), I ditched the idea of taking a pleasant family photo of us at the glorious tree farm at Apple Hill. Our Christmas card proudly shows the four of us smiling in front of the tree in our living room.

...Only those who read our blog will know the true story.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fundraiser for Friends of NICU

The Friends of the NICU ( will be holding a fundraiser at Strings Italian restaurants on December 11. A portion of all meal sales will support this worthy group.

The Friends of NICU provides items directly to the families who have babies at Mercy San Juan and Mercy Sacramento. We were fortunate that I did not have to work while Beth was in the hospital for her 90-day stay. Not every family is so fortunate. With the economy taking such a hard hit, families may have an even harder time coping with the financial and emotional stress.

You can go to either restaurant between 4:00 and 9:00 on Thursday, December 11 knowing that your dinner out will help other families. This day has special significance to us because this is the day I entered the hospital. Beth was born--by the grace of God--almost 8 weeks later and came home on May 1.

Strings in Folsom (by Kohl's)
1013 Riley Street., #100
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 983-9556

Strings at Country Club Plaza
2380 Watt Ave. Ste 150
Sacramento, CA 95825
Phone: (916) 487-7877

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

She Eats But Can She Wear Clothes?

Beth has discovered eating (as long as the television is on or she has her Leappad to play with)! What a joy to have her consume an entire "am-booger" without major protest. Now we have just two problems to work through: getting her to wear clothes and using the potty! Funny how when we finally enter the winter season, she has begun to demand living "au naturale."

Each night, she gets a bath and we calmly dress her in cute pajamas. She sits on the potty (usually unsuccessfully), she brushes her teeth, I read stories and then she climbs into bed. Beth asks for a drink of water, we give her a kiss and then she says..."naked?" Off they go.

Guess there won't be much energy conservation in our house this winter.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Still Tiny

Can this girl grow!? We took a trip to our doctor for Elliott's annual check up and flu shots. Despite the fact that Beth was not there for a check up, just a shot, our pediatrician wanted to take a look at her. He checked her heart and ears. One can never be too sure when a child has heart heart surgery (the PDA ligation 4 days after her birth). All seems well except for her size - a mere 23 pounds!

We have taken her off of the Periactin because about three weeks into the med cycle, she stayed awake for two nights straight. We figured the only thing that might have caused her to do this would be developing some new response to the medication. Since taking her off, her appetite has decreased dramatically but we are using new tricks to get her to eat. The best one seems to be playing a television program of interest while surreptitiously stuffing food in her mouth. Puzzles and the LeapFrog LeapPad seem to work as good diversions, too.

On another topic...
One of my clients has put my work on hold through the rest of 2008 leaving me a big chunk of time. I have alluded to a little project I've been working on before but here is the real admission: I am writing a book. I am writing about the journey to get pregnant and the unbelievable journey to keep Beth alive during the midst of losing her sister. I spent almost 8 weeks in the hospital between the 18th and 26th week of my pregnancy. My time ended when Beth was born at 26 weeks and 0 days. Her journey is written in great detail in the early posts of this blog but the hospital time BEFORE she was born...well, that was a source of pain, fear and wrenching loss.

I had started writing while she was in the hospital as a way to work through my grief and fear for her survival. In that process, I discovered some things that I think others should be able to read like the ability of one's mind to overcome extreme adversity. What I am reluctant to share is the personal nature of our struggle. Since I have more time on my hands with one less client, I am turning the 60,000-word jumble of chapters and essays into a book that may or may not have commercial appeal. I just don't know. Writing about here just makes it a little more "real" and helps keep me committed.

I may publish excerpts here since the topic of our lives is so normal now--one might find recent posts about our lives to be boring. It may be more interesting to have something new to read (for those who follow our story.) I'll be interested in hearing feedback which will hopefully encourage me to keep going.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween Photos

It is a little difficult for me to write a post since my father's death. I almost don't want to put another post up here because it will go above my tribute to Dad and I won't get to see his photo show up on my monitor every day. At some point I am supposed to move on and in reality, life has been moving along regardless of my desire to stop time. So here are some photos of Beth and Elliott in their costumes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Father's Passing

My dad passed away on Saturday night. He suffered (and my mother right along with him) for over 10 years with Alzheimer's Disease. Even as his brain grew increasingly foggy, Dad noticed Mom. He would smile and call her name and when language escaped him, his eyes would twinkle as she entered the room or he heard her voice.

A family friend emailed me to say "Who didn't like Lowell." He was that kind of man. He still had an infectious laugh even through this year. A good joke (or even a bad joke) brought gales of full-body laughter. Never have I met a grown man who's laugh would gather up everyone else in its pure joy. He would scrunch up his eyes, jiggle his tummy, and slap his knee if he truly wanted to show delight.

Dad was keenly smart, something that frustrated me and my siblings while we were growing up. He often fell asleep with a dictionary on his chest. He filled our vocabulary with words like unctuous, myrmidon, and verisimilitude. "Look it up" he would say to our great consternation. He taught us to handle checkbooks at an early age. He worked like a plough horse among the fancy warm-bloods and pedigreed horses in our barns, fixing fences, stringing hot-wire and shoveling horse poop from their paddocks. Then he would work at his consulting business while classical music sang in his office.

I have great memories of Dad sitting in the living room with some fabulous piece of music playing on the giant 3 foot speakers we hoisted up the tall redwood lined walls. He would close his eyes and direct an imaginary symphony, enraptured by the complex genius that created such beauty. His gifted mind could truly appreciate the intricate musical score -- a talent he passed on to my sister, Nicole.

When I was very young, he would rough-house with the four of us. We would sit behind him and pull his hair while he pretended it didn't hurt. "Pull harder", "ah, refreshing." We could never hurt him. Our family constantly ribbed him for his gargantuan hands and the generous circumference of his head. Mom loves to tell of a trip to Mexico where every street vendor in town rushed to find a hat for the Gringo with the "grande cabezza."

We had fabulous opportunities because of my dad. We had crazy times too but the strength of our family's connection never wavered. Dad could be counted on. Mom could be counted on. Together they balanced our lives like the giant oaks that grew on our farm. From their co-joined trunk sprouted many, many branches. They shot out in different directions, some went one way and then jutted back another seeking brighter sunshine. All of them thrived and dropped acorns that spawned new trees.
That amazing tree has lost half its truck, damaged by the slow choking of Alzheimer's disease. Yet, like those incredible trees that still manage to harbor abundant life when half their trunk is gone, our branches continue to grow, feeding on the remaining cambium, protected by the bark and still feeling life and love from our mother and the memories of our father.

May your memories all be together now, Dad, and may the music you hear be even more brilliant than you ever thought possible.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Elliott's Seventh Birthday and Other Photos

Beth continues to do well and is eating more now that she has been on Perictin (Antihistamine Stimulates Appetite ). I have been experimenting to see if she avoids eating when not on the meds. Sure enough, if it has been over 4 hours since her last dose, she will fight me when I ask her to eat lunch/dinner. We feel a huge relief when she sits in her high chair without argument and actually consumes something more than dried blueberries and cocoa bumpers.

Elliott turned 7 last week. We had a wild party at the local Bouncy place, Bounceopolis. I could not take many photos because it was absolute chaos for 90 minutes. There were 26 kids launching themselves into the air, crashing into each other and generally beating the heck out of each other. I had to shadow Beth everywhere to keep her from getting squished. There was no way to keep her in the "kiddie" room where she would have been safer. Noooo. It is 4 days past the party and my arms still ache.

This photo shows Elliott at home with his birthday cake that I made (can't you tell it is a bear??). The pig is part of a reading program conceived by his teacher. He and 5 other animals circulate around the classroom with related books. The kids get to take one animal home and read all the books overnight. Then they record their day in a journal. We are lucky the pig didn't get chocolate frosting all over him.
The two photos of Beth were taken by my sister-in-law, Cathie. Again, her amazing photographic talent shines through. I'm so envious of her skill but appreciate that she captures these priceless images.

On the sad side, my father who has suffered with Alzheimer's Disease for over 10 years is having a very difficult time. These photos by Cathie were taken at an Alzheimer's fundraising walk last Saturday. Thousands of people rallied at the Capitol and raised funds for research and caregiver support. My father's health seemed to take a step backwards with every stride we made in his honor. He is still with us but we fear it will not be for long.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

3rd NICU Reunion

Last Saturday was our third NICU reunion. I can't describe how important it is to go to these reunions. I can never adequately thank the talented, dedicated doctors and nurses who worked with Beth every day for those three months. We developed many special relationships with people whom we would never have met under normal circumstances. Despite the difficulty of the first 45 days in the NICU, Mike and I consider it a gift to have met these wonderful people.

These pictures show just a few of the dozens who helped Beth. The two Mercy hospitals in Sacramento see about 500 babies each year; the staff are exceptionally busy. I don't know how they remember us but that is testament to how committed they are to their vocation.

Joan (green shirt) was Beth's primary nurse. The Mercy San Juan NICU assigns a primary nurse to oversee all care. When Beth was in 1:1 care, Joan was the person who sat by her side for an entire 12-hour shift. She watched Mike and I cry giant crocodile tears for hours on end. She has attended Beth's birthday parties and become a special friend. She was the first person I called when Beth ended up back in the hospital just a few weeks after being discharged. She is a quiet, unassuming genius at her job. Mike and I would trust her with our lives. She certainly saved Beth's!

Bree (pink shirt) is another one of the special nurses. She was also assigned to Beth on many of those early days. She is the one who made me hold Beth at 11 days of age when she was still intubated. I was scared to death and not all of the nurses are comfortable making this happen with such a tiny, fragile baby. Bree knew how important it was to get over this hump and she had the glowing confidence to make me know it would be alright. She is generally considered the IV/PIC line specialist. I have seen her place PIC lines and IV's in other babies after other nurses had tried and tried. Bree is the only nurse who could get an IV started in Beth when we were re-admitted that first May. Joan calls Bree a genius but I think they think that of each other...

This is Kathy, the developmental specialist. Kathy saved Beth from developing an oral aversion. She was our champion when trying to get her discharged on breast feeding. She spent hours softly caressing her and teaching us how to hold her arms and legs in the "midline" and mimic the comfort of the womb. Not all babies like to be stroked and Kathy taught us how to see signs of stress, reading Beth's cues for what she needed at any particular time. I am sure that her keen insight and unexplainable "feelings" prevented many of the sensory processing disorders we seemed destined to have.

This is Lori. She was Beth's nurse on the last two days when we were doing our "feeding trial." It was an odd time for them because they don't usually discharge babies who breastfeed. Beth wasn't taking the bottle but she would nurse. It took a lot of commitment to make this happen but Lori really took charge so we could bring our girl home!

These last two guys are respiratory therapists. Randy (with the beard) was the nurse who intubated Beth in the delivery room while chaos reigned. I was bleeding profusely and their was much confusion about how to get me under, get blood, and who knows what else. He stayed cool, did his job and paid attention to Beth. She needed all sorts of things immediately and he did a fabulous job (not that I saw any of it. I just heard about it much later).

The other guy is Simon. He had a twinkle in his eye for Beth from day one. He would tell me that Beth was the poster child for what a 26-weeker should do in the NICU. She did all those scary things that a seasoned pro like he expected and he never wavered, never panicked. He was a rock and I was always certain that Beth would be given delicate, perfect care for her oxygen needs (which for a preemie can mean the difference between vision problems and the perfect vision she seems to have). Joan would tell me that Simon had soft spot for Beth. Too bad she can't remember that! All respiratory therapists will tell you the babies don't like them because they are always being fiddled with in their face. We know the RTs save our babies' lives. Thank you!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Antihistamine Stimulates Appetite

We (maybe I) finally got pushed too far with respect to Beth's abysmal food consumption. Last week I secured a prescription for her to boost her appetite. The drug is actually an antihistamine called Periactin We have discussed this option with Beth's pediatrician many times and each time we have put it off as a "wait and see" approach.

I had to take Elliott to the doctor because he had a bad case of poison oak which was steadily descending down the trunk of his body to more...sensitive parts. I thought it best to nip the thing in the bud before poor Elliott experienced insane itching in his privates. While talking to the doctor, I mentioned that Beth was now 33 inches tall and just 22 pounds. He decided that it was probably time to start the drug.

"Now be careful with her," he told me. "She might be a little sleepy."

...Okay Moms. Do any of you think being "a little sleepy" in a toddler is a bad thing? Do any of you know my toddlers? Heck, sign me up!!

It has been a week and I am only giving her two of the three doses she could have each day. There has been a noticeable improvement in her eating and her willingness to try some other foods. I am hoping that this will help her understand what a hungry tummy means and that sitting in the high chair means that it is time for food, a pleasurable experience rather than the pleading and begging time it has been in the past.

What about her sleepiness? Sadly, I cannot detect any change in her behavior or sleeping pattern (actually I am glad to see no change). Beth has always been a good sleeper and there is no difference in the duration, frequency or degree of her sleep. She was a light sleeper and easily awakened before the Periactin and she is still a light sleeper and easily awakened.

Overall we consider this a good thing. Elliott's poison oak is gone and Beth is actually sitting down and eating food while asking for more. She still gets in a mood where she doesn't want anything but I estimate she is eating 50 percent more than she did before the drug. Yippee!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Is Elliott Smarter than His Parents?

Our drama these days is centered around Beth's eating habits (thank Heaven our problems are as minor as this!) As you know, Mike and I struggle to get Beth to eat. There seems to be no pattern nor rhyme/reason to her eating. We've tried all kinds of tricks and cajoling.

We make sure no one says the word C-O-O-K-I-E around her prior to or during a meal because she will instantly stop eating and fixate on a cookie. She then steadfastly refuses to eat anything else until said cookie is produced. I, however, have decided we will try training her to eat by sticking to our guns and only producing said cookie after she has finished at least some of her meager meal. (...don't ask me how this silly lesson is going...)

Anyway, a few days ago Elliott started coaxing Beth into eating by telling her that everything on her plate was C-A-N-D-Y! I'll be an ostrich-with-my-head-in-the-sand, but Beth started eating whatever he put in front of her.

...sometimes you just gotta stop thinking so hard.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer Vacation Photos 2

Mike and I took about 7 rides together during out two week vacation (thanks Mom and Athena for babysitting). One of those rides was up a 7 mile climb along Barker Pass. Towards the top we came around the corner to find beautiful wildflowers. Later on, we brought mom and the kids up to 8,000 feet where the flowers were stunning.

Just a handsome shot of Elliott. He does look like a grown up boy here. I must say I am happy to have Beth around (for obvious reasons) because I don't feel like the 40+ mother that I am when holding a toddler in my arms.
This other photo shows Elliott and Beth sleeping together in our room at Tahoe. Because Beth won't sleep in the port-crib anymore, we had to be creative with sleeping arrangements. It took a few days but eventually got Beth to settle into bed with Elliott (on most nights). She managed to crawl up into our bed numerous times over the two weeks we were away but overall, they enjoyed sharing a bed.
The young lady on the left is my niece, Nicole. She and her friend, Maddie, came up for the first weekend. Beth enjoyed their attention and teenage giggles. By the way, Elliott was not lost on their good looks either. He is a flirt and the more girls around him (especially pretty girls), the better. We foresee trouble ahead!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Eat Something, Darn-it!!

Beth is on an eating strike again. Sure, she loved beef four weeks ago but now won't have anything to do with it. In fact, she won't have anything to do with anything that isn't spelled C-O-O-K-I-E. By my estimate, she brings in 400 calories a day and most of that is from milk. Here is how today has gone so far:

  • Up at 6:00 and won't eat. At 7:30 she consumes 2 bites of raisin toast, 8 pieces of Golden Grahams and 4 ounces of milk.
  • After dropping off Elliott, I take her to McDonald's to see if she will eat pancakes with copious amounts of syrup. No dice. She won't even eat the bacon or sip the O.J.
  • at 9:00, I take her to My Gym. In the course of an hour she finishes the other 6 ounces of milk. At CostCo, she eats a few dried blueberries.
  • At lunch, I offer her part of my sandwich. She takes it apart and eats 1/4 of the "bun" which is the wheat bread holding the salami. She pines for a cookie and I tell her she has to eat her sandwich.
  • She awakes from her nap asking for a cookie. I won't give her one without eating. I pick up Elliott and she asks for juice. I give her juice and offer the sandwich. She eats two chips and half a pickle but no sandwich.

This is typical for her. She either stuffs her face or refuses any sustenance. I am really getting concerned and frustrated! I could operate a grocery store with the food we have tried for her. Two nights ago I made a chocolate milkshake with banana in it. She drank about 3 ounces. ...just a little whining on my part and a fair bit of concern. Any feeding advice would be happily received.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

21.1 Pounds!

How do I maintain my cool when Beth is tipping the scales at a mere 21.1 pounds! I took her to Maternal Expressions on Monday after our return from vacation because the sight of her tiny legs is scaring me. I was not pleased by what the scale revealed. Beth has gained over a pound since January so I suppose that is acceptable but I just keep hoping she will surprise me and hit 22 pounds.

I keep getting reassurance from all sources. The kind lady at the maternity store where I weighed her remarked about how tall she seemed and that her skin, hair and eyes are healthy. Two moms at My Gym told me stories of their tiny kids (one 4 year old only weighs 33 pounds). All my friends remind me that at 5 feet tall, I’m not exactly a giant myself.

I think the issue – well two issues, really – is that she is a lousy eater except when she decides to go on a BEEF BINGE. The other is that we mothers of preemies never get over the panic of seeing such tiny babies fighting for their lives. I have read of Holocaust survivors who have eating disorders all their lives. I’m not saying that our ordeal was as horrific as the Holocaust but I can attest to the long-term scars wrought by extremely stressful situations. And when they go on for a long time like a 90-day NICU stay preceded by the horrors we experienced, it is sometimes difficult to find where normal lies.

Each day this week, I have threatened to call our doctor to get his opinion on Beth’s growth. I keep saying to myself that if she eats well today, I won’t call him. Guess what? Beth is eating very well this week so Dr. Arab has been spared my paranoia.

Let’s see what she weighs in two weeks, eh?

Next up... vacation photos from Tahoe. What fun we had!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Proof Positive

Remember my post a few weeks ago about Beth the Carnivore? Well, here is proof positive. This is even funnier to us because she has been on an eating strike the last week. I doubt she is consuming 400 calories a day. Thankfully she likes milk because that is where the bulk of her calories come from.

Anyway, fun photos of Beth and can I gush about Elliott? Dang, he is one cute kid. When he smiles, those dimples melt your heart. He is getting a few freckles on his nose to make him even cuter.

One hysterical point to add about these ribs. Guess what Elliott was eating while Beth noshed on pork ribs?...tofu.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Yin and Yang

Each day I watch Beth grow but what amazes me the most is how her personality matures. Isn’t it amazing that toddlers show their own sense of humor and traits that will make up their adult personas? Mike and I often reminisce about how Beth is different from Elliott. Ah ha! What a fun exercise for our blog.

Beth loves to sleep. Elliott hates to sleep.
Beth sucks her thumb and uses a blankie. Elliott has never used such comfort devices DESPITE my pitiful pleas for mercy!
Elliott climbs into the high chair. Beth climbs into the crib.
Beth BEGS for books. Elliott BEGS for TV.
Elliott eats tofu. Beth eats BEEF!
Elliott eats vegetables. Beth won't touch them with a 10-foot pole.
Elliott can’t stand to get water on his face. Beth giggles and laughs and gurgles the water as it runs over her forehead.
Beth smiles as she is laid down to sleep. Elliott required 20 minutes of rocking or dancing to get him to sleep and he still finds a way to delay sleep as long as possible.
Elliott used to go on hour-long walks with the stroller. Beth has a hissy-fit and can’t even make it the 15 minutes it takes to walk Elliott to school.
Elliott was born with hair and grew loads of beautiful blonde curls by 12 months. Beth was born with hair (but that doesn’t count), lost her hair and still has roughly 200 pieces on her head!
Elliott could sleep through a rock concert. Beth wakes up when the door squeaks open.

How are they similar? They are loved more than we ever thought it possible.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Beth the Carnivore

I have been remiss in past weeks for writing about Miss Beth. I am far too overworked with a new client and preparation tasks for an upcoming conference. The end is in sight, however and I am looking forward to relaying some humorous stories again. Despite my lack of time, I could not pass up this little gem...

Having a open afternoon and the inability to go outside with Beth and Elliott due to the smoke in the air, I decided to take a trip to the grocery store to stock up the pantry and fridge before my trip to Texas. Elliott is always happy to go to "play care" at the store where he can play with other children and watch a movie without me pestering him to turn off the T.V.

Beth is not at all interested in going to play care. She cries mournfully and wraps herself so tightly around my neck and arm that it is nearly impossible to pry her away. I have lately ushered her through the aisles as fast as I can while feeding her various treats to keep her seated in the shopping cart (never thought I'd do that - she must be out of danger, eh!). It is very difficult to make it through our neighborhood Raley's quickly because we have become friends with many of the employees. Furthermore, the pharmacy staff are all fans of Beth's and want to admire her when we visit the store (they know of her scary start and complicated first year with the hundred or so prescriptions we have filled there).

Every time I go to Raleys, I race up and down the aisles hoping I can get the shopping done before it becomes impossible to keep Beth in the cart. Today was especially difficult so I detoured to the bakery counter a little earlier than usual to get her a cookie. We waited patiently for the baker to bring us a cookie while Beth admired sprinkled donuts and various treats. Since the baker was occupied, the deli person came over to give her a cookie and take my order for roast beef. While she handed Beth her sprinkle cookie, I asked for a half-pound of roast beef.

Now, who in their right mind would expect my diminutive little girl to prefer meat to a cookie, right? I mean, it is a little hard to picture her devouring a chicken leg with strings of meat hanging from her delicate mouth like a she-lion ripping flesh from a wildebeast. Well, Beth proved me wrong; as soon as she heard me say "roast beef," her ears perked up and she looked me straight in the eye, dropped her cookie and said "MEAT!"

I thought the deli-girl was going to drop that 10 pound hunk of prime rib right on the floor! She did manage to gather herself and then promptly presented Beth with a giant piece of the reddest, prime roast beef I have ever seen. Beth's response was a most endearing smile and a rapid stuffing of said protein and cholesterol into her gaping mouth.

I made it home with scarcely more than a quarter pound of roast beef but the rest of the shopping trip went a whole lot smoother. Yes, my girl is a carnivore. She never did touch the cookie. Elliott ate it on the way home. Beth was curiously thirsty, however...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Summer Begins

Elliott has graduated from Kindergarten. T-ball season is over. Beth has entered a new level of consciousness. As if she wasn't trouble enough, now Beth is learning to assert herself. Two nights ago, I spent over an hour with her screaming and pounding on the door because she did not want to go to bed. Beth is usually a great sleeper, happily plopping herself down in the crib for naps and her 8 p.m. bedtime. Lately, she has decided bedtime happens AFTER she has had her fill of books.

Everyone who has spent more than 10 minutes with her knows that her fill of books is not what the average mommy/daddy/gramma/nanny/friend/uncle can handle at one sitting. Beth can sit for an hour while any available adult reads to her. On Thursday night she was in that mood and nothing Daddy and I could do would fulfill her need for literature.

Daddy (who was up at 4:30 a.m.) and I were pooped and looking forward the 8 p.m. quiet. Beth wasn't amused. She ranted and raved. She kicked and screamed. She refused to be held until a book was clearly in view for reading. I fed her. I played with her. Nothing worked. I was so concerned about her in the crib that I took her out and sat on the rocking chair inside her room while she screamed and pounded on the door. I finally distracted her with some tinker toys (thank you Mattel!) to quiet her down. At 9:15 I looked her in the eye (which were drooping considerably by this time) and told her we could get a nice warm blankie from the dryer and then she was going to bed.

Thankfully she complied and dropped to sleep the instant she was in bed. The last two nights have gone down without complication but I suspect we may be hitting a new developmental milestone for her and she won't be so easily placated in the future.

Elliott's Graduation

Elliott has finished Kindergarten and said goodbye to his wonderful teacher Mrs. Young. You can just read LOVE in her eyes. It is sad to move on but we are happy to have him at home for some summer fun.

He was a very good boy in school. His overly friendly nature (...wonder where he got that trait??) got him into trouble a few times but his intentions are always sweet. We were pleased to see high marks on his report card.

I often question the rigor we subject our young children to these days. I represent many K-12 education companies including Holt McDougal, one of three top publishers in the country. My job as a public relations professional requires being knowledgeable about policy and public sentiment. While I support the need for learning standards, standardized assessments and the high rigor we expect of our children, I do feel sorry that Kindergarten is not the blissful, low-pressure time of old. I commend teachers like Mrs. Young who still manage to combine fun and colorful learning with the requirement of "popcorn" words, phonics, basic number sense and penmanship. It is the mark of highly skilled and dedicated individual when she can bring 24 students through the year with a good foundation for first grade and do so in 4.5 hours a day.

Once again, special, special people have been a part of our lives. I feel Shepards and Angels all around us.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Snoozing and Mom Falling Down on the Job

Try as I might to plan this better, I cannot seem to keep Beth awake during a bike ride while she is in the trailer. Today I left at 9:30 a.m. thinking that since she had just woken up two hours earlier, she would stay awake. No such luck. Within 30 minutes her talking stopped. Then she stopped reading books (look at her feet for discarded works). Soon, her head started to nod and then, BAM! She was out like a light.

I've never seen her sleep with her mouth open, catching flies like Gramma used to do on long car rides. She didn't even hold on to her ever-present blankie. The result of my snickering at her rapturous repose is that she didn't nap this afternoon -- just punishment for me!

I suppose this is payback for my transgression on Monday. I found a dead bumblebee on the ground and thought Beth would enjoy touching it since she would never get the chance with a live bee. I considered the option that the bee was not TOTALLY dead but apparently...I didn't consider that possibility strongly enough to muster the necessary caution. Instead, Beth snatched him from my hand and was promptly stung by the stunned, possum-playing bee.

Lord have mercy! She didn't even get a stinger in her finger but she let me know about it for about an hour afterwards! I realize it really did hurt and I felt very low after my failure to protect her but she made a fuss for a loooong time.

After we were sure she wouldn't swell up or go into shock, Mike and I had a few good jokes about it. I reminded him of the time he left Elliott alone in the stroller at the top of our very steep driveway and he plummeted down 40 feet of a 15% slope into the fence across the way. Or, the time he didn't connect the tag-along to my bicycle properly and Elliott dropped to the pavement going 10 miles an hour!

We have had some failures and minor transgressions in our parenting but thankfully both children are in good shape. Now if I could just get Beth to go to bed tonight...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Happy Bird-day to Gwamma

Mom turns 75 today! It is hard to believe but all too true. To show off her boundless enthusisam and good health, she is travelling in Italy with her other not-so-young friend. We miss you mom! Here is a cheerful rendition of Happy Birthday from Beth.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day 2008

Beautiful children. Lucky me.

Sometimes I drift off and think of what we have lost. But, then I get to hug these two and I am profoundly thankful for what we have. Lucky, lucky me.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Friends You Could Count On

I grew up on a horse farm in the middle of suburban Sacramento. We had a great little spread with 10 acres, pastures, barns and FABULOUS neighbors. We have remained friends with nearly everyone who lived on Mason Lane. Our next-door neighbors from those happy days were the Goldbergs and their eldest daughter (whom I used to baby-sit!!) has an adorable 3-year-old. Well, little Ginger had a birthday party last weekend and their Grandmother (our old neighbors who still live in the same house from years ago) brought horses to the party for the children to ride.

I have not sat on a horse for over 20 years so here I am atop Ann's old polo pony holding Beth who was not too happy about the situation. Elliott rode his stead like a young cowboy but Beth raised quite a ruckus.

It was a treat to sit astride a horse and for a brief moment, I yearned for the good old days when I would spend hours in the barn washing horses, cleaning tack and riding. There were many stalls to muck and more hard work than I care to recall but the rewards of having horses were many. More importantly, perhaps, the friendships we developed when horses were sick, accidents occurred or emergency floods ripped through the barns taught us how to respect our neighbors and rely on their aide. When our world fell apart two years ago, many of these same folks visited us in the hospital, said prayers for us and kept us distracted with phone calls and cards.
Haven't we been lucky...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy Beth-Day

We are nearly speechless with joy and amazement. Beth's presence never ceases to amaze us. A little over two years ago, we never imagined we would have celebrations like this. We were so full of fear, unsure we could even get her to the point of survival. And then when we got there, we feared she would not live through her days in the NICU let alone become a beautiful, vivacious little girl. Bless you Beth for having such spunk!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Can She Really Count?

I am a little freaked out here. Maybe other mothers of girls will roll their eyes at me but Elliott could never do the things Beth is doing at her age. Yesterday I sat down next to her while she was playing and listened to her talking. She was counting the sections on one of her toys! She went all the way up to 13 (although she missed number five). Do girls typically do this at 26 months (she is actually only 23 months)? She also knows most of her letters. I think she is just very verbal and likes to talk -- not that I want to reinforce stereotypes...

Now she is uttering Japanese, Spanish and French from her Baby Einstein DVDs. I know she hasn't actually learned those words but she is mimicking the voices on the DVD. I am sure she will follow Mommy's footsteps into some career like public relations. ;-)

Friday, April 18, 2008

T-Ball Season

No, Beth isn't playing T-Ball yet but she is certainly making her presence known on the field! Daddy coaches Elliott's team, I am team-Mom and Beth is the team mascot/clown. We only talk T-ball in this house! I hope you enjoy these photos of Elliott, Daddy (with our tiniest player) and Beth. We are the red team, the Phillies!

Yesterday I went to see my OB-GYN, Dr. Cragun. He is a dear man whom we credit for saving Beth's life. I almost miss seeing him these days. Each day of our hospital stay, we relied on his confidence to see us through every day of our hospital stay. We just can't say enough great things about him. Thank Heaven he entered our life at just the right time. I am absolutely sure that Beth made it because of him.
On May 1st, we will celebrate "Beth Day"! Two years ago on May 1, 2006, Beth came home from the hospital. Her real due date was May 9 (rather than January 31) so we designated May 1 as her "Beth Day." It is a time to celebrate her life and the miracle of her coming home. It was an amazing day for us and I'll never forget hearing Dr. Getman ask us "How would you like to take Beth home today?" So May 1 commemorates this special day and we smile ALL DAY LONG!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spring Thoughts

Wouldn't it be nice to sleep so soundly? Looks like Beth just dropped into her crib and feel instantly asleep. Thankfully, she does sleep easily (unlike her brother) because her energy level during the day is the stuff legends are made of. She seems to be rivaling her brother.

"Beth Day" is coming up on May 1. We get to celebrate two years of her being home. Despite the completely typical life we lead with her now, Mike and I still shake our heads in disbelief.

No amazing news except that she now knows almost every letter of the alphabet and can discern small letters, too. She weathered through another cold without complication and even though she is now weaned so no extra immunity support from me!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter 2008

Reading the stories of other micro-preemies reminds me of how lucky we are. Knowing that Beth is in good health is a wonderful gift and it allows us to enjoy nice times like this. These photos are of an Easter Egg Hunt and party at my good friend's, the Rozzanos. Food and good cheer were abundant. The kid's had a fabulous time. I can write now only because Beth is still sleeping at 7:00 a.m. this morning (12 hours straight!)