Friday, August 28, 2009

Sunday in the park

Carter has a super cool swingset in our backyard and loves to play on it. However, we also have so many nice parks in our area that are vastly underutilized by our family. I got home from my whirlwind trip to PA on Saturday evening and I had missed my family like nobody's business. We decided a fun family outing was in order for Sunday. Wes and I mulled over just what outing would be fun for the family and realized that places open much later on Sundays and all of our ideas would end up interfering with the boys' afternoon naps. We decided to go to Stumpy Creek Park. Carter was thrilled. Wes had taken the boys there once before and Carter couldn't stop talking about how much he loved the playground. It was so nice to be together as a family, having fun and enjoying the outdoors.

I even have some pictures to share. (Are you surprised?)Carter climbing the "spider web"

Daddy and Owen on the teeter-totter.

Carter taking my lunch order.

Daddy pushing O on the swing.

Uh, lean back!

O looking into the distance. Actually I think he was looking at Carter playing.

Smiley O'Reilly

Carter is perfectly capable of pumping his legs on the swing, but would rather be pushed. We are working on that.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy First Birthday Owen!

Last year on this day at 8:47 pm my life changed. It was a wonderful change, one that can be brought about only by the birth of a child. One year ago today my second son Owen was born. I am blessed to have him. As I celebrate him today and thank God for giving him to me, I am also a little bit sad as I think of our angel baby. Owen's twin did not make it to celebrate this day with us and that is hard.


There really are no words (or maybe there are just a while lot of them) to begin to describe my love for you. Your arrival truly completed our family, and certainly completed me. For the past year, through all of the ups and downs, you have added happiness, smiles and endless love to every single day. I have loved watching you grow. Every milestone you reach has given me endless joy. Seeing you smile, roll over, sit up, babble, and walk has been priceless. I have been through this type of joy before with you big brother, and I can say for certain that it is just as wonderful the second time around and love truly does multiply. Speaking of that big brother of yours, one of my favorite things to watch lately is your interaction with him. Seeing the love that you and Carter have for each other, watching you cuddle or play or chase each other is extremely heartwarming and rewarding.

You are a fighter. You are my tiger, my strong Little Man. You have been through more this year than any baby should have to endure. One of the things that I love most about you is that through it all you have been so happy. Always having a smile on your face and bringing smiles to those around you. I don't want you to hurt and I wish you didn't have to fight, but I'm so thankful that you did. I also know that you will continue to fight and that the future holds great things for you. I can't wait to see what those things are. Most of all I want you to know that I promise to always be right there beside you, fighting along with you. You are lucky to have a wonderful Daddy and a great big brother who will be there for you also.

I love you Owen, thank you for being the one and only you. I hope that your second year is even happier than your first.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

VCUG- Moving Forward

Today Owen had his fourth VCUG (voiding study). The first was last October when Owen got sick, when this whole nightmare began. It was the study that diagnosed his Grade 5 Vesicoureteral Reflux. The next two were diagnostic of issues with his ureterostomies. The one performed today was for the purpose of checking out his bladder. I apologize if I am repeating myself, I don't even know what I have said and not said. Essentially Dr. Gazak needed to see what condition the Little Man's Little Bladder is in after just sitting disconnected in his body since early December. The bladder is a muscle, therefore prone to atrophy when not used. Owen's bladder has not been used in the voiding process to store and release urine. Atrophy is to be expected.
The actual study did not go well. Actually that is a vast understatement. It isn't a pleasant thing to have done under the best circumstances. In order to fill the bladder with dye it is necessary to place a catheter. Painful. To start things off, the radiology nurse didn't even know what a bilateral ureterostomy was. I explained it to her, and I did it well if I do say so myself. I have never professed to be a medical professional, but I have been through the ringer as the mom of a baby with a very serious urological condition. To her I guess I was just a mom bringing her kid in for a procedure. That is to say, she didn't believe a word I said. It didn't take me long to realize that she had no clue what I was talking about so I quickly resorted to my "he voids urine through holes in his belly" explanation. I'll cut this short so as not to get too graphic, but he had to be cathed three times. As a mother, it is a miracle that I did not physically harm the nurse that was performing these many failed catherizations. I finally became the voice of reason- "the cath is too big that is why the dye is leaking out. Do you have a feeding tube that could be hooked to the IV drip? It would be smaller to insert." What a novel idea! That is what they did and what finally allowed them to get the images they needed. Poor Owen cried, screamed and wailed. I stood there singing to him, talking to him, reassuring him and wanting to scream and wail myself. Nothing I did could soothe him and we both just wanted it to be over. Poor Wes was sitting right outside the door listening to him wail because only one parent is allowed in the room. I don't know which is worse.
After the VCUG we headed straight to the urologist's office. Dr. Gazak hadn't arrived yet, having gotten stuck in surgery. This is not uncommon, and is also totally understandable. I know if it was my child on the table he would do what he needed to do so I don't mind waiting when it is someone else's child. I also knew that I was not leaving that office without seeing him and getting some answers. The wait was really very short and Owen amused himself walking around the waiting room trying to play with a few bigger kids that were there waiting also. All of the nurses in the office were thrilled to see him, couldn't believe how big he had gotten and were shocked to see him walking. We were called back to see the doctor and he reviewed the films with us. Owen's bladder is smaller than it should be at this point, but slightly. It held roughly 40 cc of fluid before voiding. The stumps of his ureters (the parts left connected to his bladder during his ureterostomy and sutered closed) were very large, particularly on the right side. Without getting into too much medical jargon, this is because they were the parts left connected. The ureters which were disconnected were allowed to "rest", given a chance to have the pressure that was being put upon them by the reflux alleviated. As a result they shrunk. They are ready to be reconnected to his bladder along with valves to be created by the doctor. The doctor left those stumps in there on purpose. He left them in case he needed extra "material" to enlarge Owen's bladder if need be. As it is his bladder is a bit smaller than it typically would be. If he had the reimplantation surgery without any alteration to his bladder, normal use would reverse the atrophy and allow the muscle to grow. However, since that extra ureter is there and just waiting to be put to use, Dr. Gazak is going to use that ureter material to augment Owen's bladder.

If you got through all that, thank you. I am having trouble completely wrapping my own brain around it and I have been living it for 10 months. The bottom line is that while Owen is doing wonderfully, it is time for him to take the next step in his health journey. In this case that means another surgery. I am scared. I hate that he has to have another surgery. I hate that it is so major. On the other hand I love my son. I look him in the eyes every day and he shows me that he is a fighter. All I have to do is be there to fight next to him along with Wes and the rest of our support system. The surgery will likely take place toward the end of Septmeber. I am waiting for a call from Dr. Gazak's scheduler. It will last about 3 hours and Owen will spend about 3 days in the hospital. Semi-permanent stents will be placed and then be removed a few weeks later during an outpatient cystoscope under general anethesia. Like I said, it is a lot to digest and I am scared, but we know that this is a HUGE step in the right direction for Owen.

Lip Progress

Yesterday we had another follow-up appointment with the Little Man's plastic surgeon. His lip looks good. (See below)

This is great news. I already knew it and you probably did too if you have looked at the many photos I have posted in the past few months, but it is good nonetheless. As I think I've made pretty clear, I do not like this particular doctor. I have great respect for his surgical ability and the good that he does for children in need. There are 4 million children in the world waiting for some type of cleft surgery. Because of this man and the fact that we are fortunate to have good health insurance, Owen is not one of those children. That being said, he is still and odd man prone to making offensive comments or just plain not listening. Yes Owen is the patient, but Owen is (almost) one and I am his mother, his advocate. I guess what I am saying is that I am still glad to have this man as part of Owen's medical team, but am unlikely to invite him to a dinner party. We follow-up again in 3-4 months.

This afternoon is Owen's VCUG, a voiding study that will give us more information about the condition of his bladder, relevant to what will take place during his surgery next month.

Monday, August 24, 2009


You are going to have to cut me some slack as I try to get this post out of my head, where it has resided for several days now, and into words. This past week has been particularly challenging for our family. How is this different than the challenges that we have faced with Owen's health in the last year, you may ask? A week ago today our family learned a lesson about loss that no one should have to learn. Of course Wes and I as well as my parents and sister have experienced loss before, just not like this.

I am very sensitive to this in my own life and the lives of those close to me: each person experiences grief differently, just as each loss is a different experience. I was going to dedicate an entire post to what happened, but frankly I can't. I also don't want to get into too much detail because I don't think it is appropriate or necessary. Please do not interpret this as a lack of empathy or grief on my part. It is just a private issue, about which my personal feelings are all that I feel comfortable sharing.
Many of you know that my dad owns a business. Wes and Ashley work there. My mom also works there on a part-time, as needed basis. I worked there during summers in college and for the past five years, taking leave only recently to attend to the Little Man's issues. A woman that works for the company and has worked with my dad for about 12 years had a major tragedy in her life last week. Her husband committed suicide. He had a hard life, and suffered greatly in the recent past. They had only been married a year and a half. The loss of his life and their love has obviously been devestating to her, and is something I have been trying very hard not to even allow myself to imagine.

What does this have to do with home? I'm getting there. After we found out what had happened, after we cried, it became necessary to think about logistics of the business. This woman runs our PA office and will obviously be out of work for a bit. Much discussion led to the decision that my mom and I should head North and gather vital information needed to keep things running smoothly. This was only the second time since moving to NC about 14 months ago that I have made the trip. The first time was for Ashley's bridal shower and that was a whirl wind weekend during which I really had no time to stop and think, let alone reflect. Mom and I drove on Thursday, a 9 hour drive. We arrived and I dropped my mom off at a family friend's house where she would be staying. I then went to visit my friends, a couple who were my chiropractors when we lived there. After that visit I got in the car to head to my in-laws house where I would be staying. I was in the next town over, probably about a 7 mile drive from their house. As I drove out of the parking lot I could not for the life of me remember how to get there. I lost it. How could this possibly happen? I have known Wes for 12 years, almost the whole time I lived in PA. When we lived there I could navigate the area with my eyes shut. I essentially grew up there, it is where I learned to drive. Different routes from where I was to the in-laws house started to pop into my head. Unfortunately none seemed like the quickest or most direct route. Finally I just chose one. As I drove I saw places that had changed ownership, new businesses that had cropped up.

Reminder: I was already in a very emotional state. The route I had decided to take had me passing my parents old neighborhood, the house I lived in all through middle school and high school. I hadn't thought about it at the time, but I had inadvertantly chosen a route that included a 5 mile stretch that I have driven hundreds of time. I ended up driving from my old house to Wes' parents house. After I passed the old 'hood it didn't take me long to realize the situation I had put myself in. So much has changed. Not just the new businesses or all of the houses for sale on River Rd. following all of the flooding in the past 5 years, but my feelings about this place that I used to call home. I left there 7 months pregnant with Owen and very emotional after residing there for 12 years. Leaving was hectic, last minute things kept creeping up, and I really didn't get to say a proper goodbye to my "home".

I love where we live now. I wouldn't change it for the world, and I knew that before I made my trip "up North". Still, I expected to feel differently once I was back in the area. I didn't expect to feel any desire to move back but I did expect to feel a little sad or perhaps nostalgic at the least. Instead I felt hatred and anger. I hated being there. Of course the reason I was there and some of the ridiculous things that happened work-wise were not helpful, but I felt no desire to return ever again. This place was certainly not my home.

As I drove I cried and cried, almost having to pull over at one point. I missed my husband and my kids. That is when I hit me: Home is where the people that you love are. I suppose on some level I have always known this. In part the issue is that when I lived in PA so did Wes, my parents and my sister. The only tie we have to the area now is Wes' parents and even that won't be for long, as they have bought a house here in NC about 3 miles away. I was so glad to be staying with them. After 5 miles of driving this route that was as well-known to me as the back of my hand, I found myself at the house that Wes grew up in. The only problem was he was not there. Luckily for me his parents were. They were there to welcome me with open arms. They were there to listen and support me. Maybe I was not Home, but I was about as close to it as I could get.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Swim

Our neighbors and good friends went on vacation this weekend. They took their two sons who are avid baseball fans to see the Phillies play the Atlanta Braves. While they were gone they were nice enough to offer us the use of their beautiful pool. Yesterday was a super busy day with the birthday bash for my mom, Justin and our friend Matt (more on that later) so we decided to take the boys for a swim this morning. We waited until after Owen's morning nap but before lunch. It was the perfect time for a swim because the sun wasn't too hot yet, and it is also the most likely time to catch both boys on their best behavior. They didn't do too bad, and all in all we had a great time! Of course I have photos to share!The boys in the pool.
Little Man standing on the steps.

Thinking about sitting down.

Sitting down enjoying the water!

Daddy and Owen beside the waterfall.

Daddy and his boys.

Mama and Carter in the pool.

Mama and Carter in the hot tub (not hot though)!

Helping Carter "swim".

Mama and Owen poolside.

We really had a nice time swimming and spending time as a family. Thanks guys for letting us use the pool!!

Never Again...

Never again will I set foot inside the walls of Lake Norman Regional Hospital. I had to go there Friday for a CT scan of my jaw to rule out any bone infection, abscess or errant piece of root tip. This after having my wisdom teeth removed a month ago, followed by complications, another surgery, more complications, and a lot of pain. When I found out I had to go to Lake Norman for the CT scan (it was the only place the surgeon's office could get me in the next day) I knew I was going to need someone to come with me. I hadn't been back there since we rushed Owen there 10 months ago in shock (him not me), so sick, and unresponsive. Since that day when the doctors and nurses looked at Owen and said he was fine, looked at me and said I was a hysterical mother. Luckily we waited for our pediatrician and Owen received the proper care before being transferred to at *real* hospital. I made a decision that day that neither of my boys would be taken there for care ever again. Anyway, I figured there wasn't much they could do to mess up a CT scan, I just wasn't sure how I was going to be able to physically make myself walk into that building after everything that happened. The answer? Anxiety medicine and help from my sister.

I checked in at the front desk, situated in front of a waiting room that smelled awful and was accurately described by Ashley as a Labyrinth. Finally a volunteer came over and told me that the woman at window 2 would help me. We made our way over there, where a hospital employee was waiting to check me in for my procedure. Ok, I'd rather call it a test, but I wasn't going to get into semantics with this woman. All I knew was that if I needed to be treated in any way Ashley had strict orders to make sure I was taken to a different hospital. To make a very long story short, the woman could not find the orders from my doctor for the scan and the doctor's office was closed. I called him on his cell phone, which he didn't answer. I was so angry and so anxious, knowing that I could not possibly leave this place and then make myself come back on Monday or whenever they got the orders for my scan. It was now or never. As she had people looking for my scans she took my information.

Lady: Have you ever been here before?
Me: No.
Lady: Has anyone with the same address as you been here before?
Me: (Trying not to cry) Yes my son.
Lady: What is his name?
*At this point I'm sure this is all up on her screen since she has my license and insurance card, and frankly I don't want to talk about Owen.
Me: Owen
Lady: Are you the primary on this insurance?
Me: No my husband is, Wesley B.
Lady: What is his cell phone number?
Me: Why do you need that?
Lady: For and emergency contact.
*I pointed to Ashley, sitting next to me and said "She's here."
Lady: Well, in case you are ever brought here again.
Me: I won't be.
Lady: Well, like if you were in an accident you wouldn't have them bring you here?
Me and Ashley in stereo: No.
*Her phone started ringing just then so luckily we got to skip further questioning on the subject because I definitely would have told her exactly what I thought about the hospital and the treatment Little Man received there, but I'm glad I didn't have to.
Ashley: So you're telling me that she can't have the CT scan and we are supposed to just sit here and twiddle our thumbs until someone can get a hold of the doctor?
Me: I have had 2 oral surgeries in the last month and am in a great deal of pain, I need to have this CT scan done to rule certain things out.
Lady: Well, you could always go over to the ER...
Me and Ashley in stereo: Laughter...

Finally the lady "found" my orders. In other words they were sitting back there the whole time and some moron forgot where they put them. We were given directions to the imaging department, complete with an explanation that L,L,R means left, left, right. Thanks.

I checked in at imaging and signed some papers, making sure it was clear that I was only consenting to the CT scan and no other treatment. There was a sign there saying that "If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant please inform the technologist." Ashley and I weren't sure that technologist was actually a word. I've always been under the impression that the proper term is radiology technician. A little research on our phones while waiting and we found out that yes technologist is a word, just not the proper one in this context.

This is also when I found out that it was to be done with IV contrast. Awesome, I hate that stuff. We waited in that waiting room for an hour and a half. I finally went back for my scan and the "technologist" started my IV. I told him that last time I had this done I got sick afterward. Not an allergic reaction, I just got flushed, sick to my stomach and vomited. He told me he was going to slow the drip of the IV to help prevent that. Yeah, didn't work. Again, shortly after feeling the awful warm feeling spread throughout my insides, I started feeling sick. It was all I could do to be still for the rest of the test. As soon as they were done I was searching for a trash can. The guy's boss, the head of imaging, came in with wet wash cloths and was trying to help me. She told me to lay down for a few minutes because I was looking very white. The guy left the room and when he walked back in said, "I wish I could lay down." I said, "Yeah, I wish I could inject you with dye." He wasn't amused, but his boss definitely was.

Now I just wait until probably Monday when the doctor calls to tell me what the scan showed about my jaw.

Like I said, never again will I allow myself to even be scanned at Lake Norman Regional Hospital.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today I want to wish a very happy birthday to a very special woman, my mom. She is the greatest mom and Grandma, but also one of my best friends. I truly don't know what I would do without her and am truly blessed to have her as such an integral part of my life. Knowing that I can always count on her means the world to me. Most importantly, watching her with my boys and seeing how much she loves them just warms my heart. We are all very lucky to have her. I love you mom!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tax Free

We have lived in North Carolina for about 14 months now. I love living here, much more than I ever thought that I would. The area is beautiful, I love living on a lake. I love our neighborhood- it is quite but we have made some great friends here. The weather is much better than "up North" as the Southerners say, but I do find myself occasionally complaining about the heat. Surprisingly, there are few things I find myself missing about Pennsylvania, despite having lived there for 12 years. That being said, this weekend made me feel nostalgia for PA. This weekend is tax-free weekend in NC. They do it twice a year, but this is the big one, right before back-to-school. This weekend there is no tax on clothes, shoes, and other back to school items. Of course in PA there was never tax on clothes, so that was a big adjustment when we moved here. Of course I had to take advantage of this tax vacation. Friday morning I loaded Owen into the car and we went to Target and the mall and got ourselves some tax-free clothes! A lot of stores have sales to coincide with this event, which is even better. I scored Wes a pair of jeans he needed, a few things for myself, and most importantly clothes for the boys in the next size. Owen didn't have quite as much fun as I did, but at least he was cooperative!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Random Fever

It feels like this summer has been one illness after another at our house. Probably the worst of which the complications after my wisdom tooth extraction and the surgery that resulted, but luckily nothing too serious.

I got a call today from Carter's school that he was complaining of not feeling well and had 102 degree fever. His seat was in Wes' car so I called him to let him know he needed to pick him up. Wes took him straight to Urgent Care where he was given a (mostly) clean bill of health. His temperature was just over 100 under his armpit when they took it, so really just over 101. Other than that, no symptoms. They did an exam and swabbed him for strep and everything was fine. The doctor said to keep him hydrated and watch him, but it is probably nothing.

He came home and wanted to lay on the couch and watch a show, but within no time was adamant about "helping" me do laundry. By bedtime we had a little boy running around acting like his normal self telling us that no, it was not time for bed.

Of course as I post this I am knocking on wood.

Quick Birthday Shout-out

Yesterday was my new brother-in-law Justin's birthday. He spent it with his new lovely wife watching the sun rise over Haleakala. Not too shabby!

Today is my father-in-law's 60th birthday. We wish we were with him to celebrate but had a cake and sang last week when they were visiting.

Happy Birthday guys!!

I miss my sister!

As many of you know, my sister got married on July 25. A few days later she and my wonderful new brother-in-law jetted off to Maui for their honeymoon. I am happy for them. I hope they have enjoyed their trip immensely. I am thrilled that they were able to enjoy the beginning of their married life in such a magical and beautiful place. Really, I am very happy for them. I'm even past being jealous that they got to go to Hawaii and I didn't, but now I want them to come home. I miss my sister! She is coming home tomorrow and I am very excited to see her. While I wait (well I won't actually just sit here and wait, I miss her
but I do have other things to do) I thought I would share some photos from her wedding. Also below I am going to copy the speech I delivered as Matron of Honor because a lot of people have asked me about it. The inspiration for my speech came from the song My Wish by Rascal Flatts. Due to some drama that we will not get into here I couldn't use the song, but did integrate some of the lyrics that were most important to me into the speech. Enjoy!

The happy couple at the rehearsal dinner.

Ashley and me at the rehearsal dinner.

My sister, the beautiful Bride!

The very handsome Ring Bearer
My dad walking Ashley down the aisle.

The are married!

It was a gorgeous wedding. I am so happy that Justin is now officially part of our family. It was quite a party afterward also, I think a good time was had by all.

And now my speech:

Three days after my third birthday I was gifted with a baby sister. Of course I don’t remember Ashley being born or her homecoming. These early memories come in the form of photos I have viewed countless times over the years along with stories told to us by our parents of the early days. From what I hear, one of the most exciting parts of getting this new baby sister was that I also got a new Cabbage Patch doll. My mom can attest to the fact that I took the care of my new doll very seriously. As Mom took care of Ashley, I diligently cared for my own new baby. As I said, I don’t specifically remember this, but I do know that before long the Cabbage Patch doll was cast aside and treated just like any other toy. Evidently my assistance was much more crucial in taking care of my new sister. I didn’t know it at the time, but I can tell you for sure as I stand here today that it wasn’t just my sister that was born on that day nearly 25 years ago, it was my best friend.

I have always made every effort to take care of Ashley, her happiness and well-being has always been very important to me. It would be fair to say that I have had many hopes and dreams for Ashley. My greatest wish is that her life would become all that she wanted. Ashley is a wonderful person; full of life, happiness, smiles and spunk. Ashley, when it is cold outside, continue to show the world the warmth of your smile. You will never know how much that smile means to so many people. My sister has always marched to the beat of her own drummer and I admire her for that. The best thing about our relationship is that it has always been reciprocal. Although in many ways we are polar opposites, this has allowed us to compliment each other. It seems that whatever one of us needs, the other is right there to offer.

Ashley and I have always had each other. We have been through so much together, good and bad. Ashley has always been there right by my side, and I have tried my best to do the same for her.

Today, Ashley and Justin have pledged their love to each other in front of God and all of us. They have become husband and wife and vowed to be there for each other in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. Ashley, I hope you never look back, but never forget all the ones who love you in the place you left. But really, you have not left. Our family has grown today. The commitment you have made to Justin today does not in any way change the commitment that I have to you. True, we have never taken vows, but we have the bond that only sisters share. Today, through your vows I have the pleasure of sharing a new bond with Justin as my brother.

As I said, today, my husband Wes and I have gained a brother in Justin. I know I speak for both of us in saying that we feel very blessed. Justin is a wonderful man and compliments our sister perfectly. He loves her as every man should love his wife. They are lucky to have found each other and we wish them all of the happiness in the world. I wish that their life becomes all that they want it to. Know that we all want the same for you. Dream big, love each other, and keep smiling. I love you both very much.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Walking and Talking

Little Man has really come a long way with both walking and talking lately.

First the talking. He has probably 5 words: Mama, Dada, Carter, this, doggie, Grandma, Nana. Ok that is 7. Today he was holding my cell phone, which is something he isn't usually allowed to do but he was really trying my patience, when someone called on the home phone. He had the cell phone up to his ear and said "hello". Of course a stranger on the street wouldn't have recognized what he said at hello, but he definitely said it. He also knows several signs including Daddy, eat, more. I can't for the life of me get him to sign Mama. Little stinker. It is wonderful to see his language develop.

Ok, walking. Little Man has certainly earned his new nickname, "Spider-baby". He has been cruising for quite some time, and in the past few weeks has realized that he does not need furniture to cruise. He can literally cruise around the entire house using walls, molding, anything he can get his little hands on. And the boy is fast! He took his first steps 4 days after his 10 month birthday, but quickly became apprehensive, deciding to stick with the cruising and crawling for the most part. O is now a full blown walker. He still dabbles in cruising and crawling, but he will walk across a room, taking great care with his balance and keeping his eye on his destination.

In addition he has become quite the climber. Who am I kidding? He is a monkey. Our stairs sort of fan out at the bottom, making a normal baby-gate impossible. The result- he is constantly making a break for the stairs with the intention of booking it to the top.*

Here he is trying to climb up the sides of the stairs.

Our temporary solution was to put one of our ugly hand-me-down benches from our dining room set in front of the stairs. This was the result:

Not wanting to spend my entire day retrieving Little Man from the bench, I quickly searched for something to keep him from climbing around the bench (see below). He hasn't figured out how to traverse this particular set-up yet, but I am certain that it is only a matter of time. We really need a permanent solution. I did find a large gate with multiple pieces that we could finagle for the space, but it is rather pricey. Suggestions welcome!

*Disclaimer: I was within arms reach for these photos to prevent Little Man from taking a spill, but of course had to document the climbing.

Welcome to the Hive!

As some of you may know, since Owen's health problems developed almost a year ago, I've been writing on a Care Page at

CarePages is a great site, but I think my blogging needs have outgrown it at this point for several reason. First of all, although he still has at least 2 surgeries ahead of him, Little Man is doing much better. In fact, he is thriving. Secondly, I have a lot more to talk about than ureterostomies, leg length discrepancies and doctor's appointments. O is a beautiful, wonderful, funny, spectacular and developmentally "normal" little boy with some health issues. I'd like to share with you more of the non-health stuff that makes this hive buzz everyday. Along those lines, I also have Carter who is a wonderful, active, smart, hilarious 3 1/2 year old. He gives me lots to talk about too.

Shortly I will be posting over on the CarePage and linking to this site. I may still post health updates there as well as here, we'll see how it goes. Anyway, I hope you join me for the ride and enjoy!