Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spoiler Alert!

Happy 2011 New Year's
Create photo new year's cards with Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.
Sorry for the spoiler to those who will get this in the mail, but posting this got me a 25 dollar discount on my holiday cards.... :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Neurology Appt.

(Shelby's Braille Alphabet Blocks from Aunt Ash and Uncle Matt)

Dr. Grant, the neurosurgeon called me before Christmas with the news that not only did the mri show that Shelby's shunt is in proper working order, but that her brain is growing! We knew this from the 18-month head measurements at the pediatrician, but I still harbored a small fear leftover from the radiologist's report that maybe her head was swollen or under pressure. Thankfully that is not the case.

Shelby had bloodwork to check her Keppra (seizure medication) levels and an EEG on December 23rd. We went to see Dr. Poplawski yesterday to get the results. Shelby's EEG showed abnormal epileptiform discharges in two different parts of her brain. This is not surprising since Shelby's brain is not typical, but it basically means that she is very prone to seizures (which we knew). Even though we have only noticed seizures a few times, and not at all since October, the doctor thinks it would be detrimental to take her off the Keppra. This is fine with Trip and me, because Shelby doesn't seem to have any side effects on this medicine. If she starts to have more frequent seizure episodes, then we may increase her dosage.

Dr. P was very impressed with Shelby's development over the past 6 months--especially with how much her cortical visual impairment has improved. We're done with doctor appointments for awhile....yippee! (As you can see below, Shelby is in complete agreement with this sentiment).

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Merry Christmas!

We have had a wonderful quiet Christmas complete with about 8 inches of beautiful snow. Here are a few of the pictures I took.

Aunt Ashlee helping Shelby unwrap the scarf she made for her: I think Harding looks a bit like the younger kid from the movie, "A Christmas Story" right here after his mom bundled him up:
Is there any other way to eat hot chicken noodle soup than by the light of your new headlamp?
Shelby was in a particularly good mood on Christmas day. I think she looks beautiful here.
Exploring her new drum from Papa and BeBe.
Trip and Harding took a long walk around the neighborhood after it got dark Christmas evening. Harding pretended he was at the North Pole the entire time.
I haven't left the house since Christmas Eve and have loved being snowed in with my family. Harding and Shelby have enjoyed playing with their new toys and Trip and I have been doing a lot of reading and relaxing. They finally plowed our road today, so Trip was able to go to the grocery store. He and Harding are busy in the kitchen now making Beef Massaman Curry (Trip got a new Asian cook book from his parents). I plan to start on a quilt today which I can hopefully finish before Christmas break is over.

Monday, December 13, 2010

No school!

Another snowy day here, which means that school was canceled yet again. Harding is ecstatic. He has gotten to watch the Polar Express this morning in pajamas and is now having a play-date with our neighbor, Isaac. I'm trying to share his enthusiasm and enjoy this unexpected time home with my family instead of dreading the probability of having to make up this and other missed school days on some Saturday next Spring.

H-man and Isaac playing trains on the stairs:

Shelby being silly with Bailey:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

visitors and pre-holiday snow

My friend Melanie came to town yesterday with her 17 month old, Henry. Melanie and I took Shelby and Henry on a very baby-friendly outing...antique shopping. Luckily they were willing to hang out in their strollers and (for the most part) behave. Last night, Trip watched the kids while Melanie and I went out to dinner. It was so nice to get to relax and catch up with my old friend over wine and a ridiculously good meal.

We woke up this morning to a couple inches of slushy snow on the ground. Henry got to walk around in it for the first time. Isn't he cute?
My little snow bunny. First snowball fight of the year.
Whoops! Daddy accidentally got him in the face.
Hot chocolate cures everything!
A great weekend, which will likely continue as long as we don't lose power.....

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shelby's MRI and 18 mo. well visit

Picture of Shelby at Thanksgiving

I took Shelby to her MRI appointment on Tuesday afternoon. They had to sedate her for this and as usual, the nurse had a hard time finding a vein to get the medicine in her. After 3 sticks, they were successful. Unfortunately, Shelby seems to have gotten to the point where she realizes what they are trying to do and resists (not that I blame her). I really don't want her to become afraid of doctors since she sees them so often. She handled the sedation just fine, they got a good scan, and she was snuggly and subdued for the rest of the afternoon. The mri c.d. and report will be sent to Dr. Grant at Duke (Shelby's neurosurgeon).

We went to her 18 month well check-up with the pediatrician on Wednesday afternoon. I think Shelby remembered her doctor experience from the MRI the day before because she cried any time Dr. Love came near her. Anyway, though Shelby has gained weight and is almost to 20 pounds, she is still in the 2nd weight percentile. The good news is that Shelby's head is starting to grow a little bit. Maybe one day, it will be on the charts! It is a good thing she has big hair....

Dr. Love already had the radiologist's report on the MRI. According to the report, one of Shelby's ventricles appeared swollen when compared to the scans from last June. This could indicate that her shunt is slowly malfunctioning. Dr. Love assured us that this was not an emergency situation, and that the radiologist may have even misread it--especially because it is nearly impossible to get the same cross sections on each scan. Since I knew it would be a few days before we would hear anything from Dr. Grant, I called Shelby's neurologist on the way home. He pulled up both of Shelby's brain scans on the computer and compared them. He did not see any significant difference. Now we are just praying and waiting for that same reassurance from Dr. Grant. I don't think he would want to do a shunt revision unless Shelby were actually showing outward signs of a malfunction, which she thankfully isn't. But it is frightening to think of her brain (which has already been through so much) under any kind of pressure.

We've got an EEG and appointment with the neurologist coming up after Christmas and will keep everyone posted on the results.....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Picture Woes

On Sunday, we attended the annual Christmas tea at my grandmother's nursing home. They always have professional photographers on hand to take pictures of family members attending the tea. Here's what we got.

I actually think this photo is pretty hilarious. It was the best of several attempts. Harding was being impish and uncooperative. Shelbs was simply not having it. I finally had the brilliant idea of bribing Harding with chocolate. That worked instantly. But at that same point Shelby was done (and so were the rest of us). So we had Harding take a picture with just Burney and it turned out completely adorable.

Chocolate is a huge motivator for Harding--he comes by it honestly. I plan to use this to my advantage again in the near future. If only it worked with his little sister...

Shelby is difficult to photograph to say the least. She does not sit still or smile for the camera. We had a snow day yesterday, and I decided to order our Christmas photocards while the kids were napping. As I sifted through all our picture files, I was once again reminded of how impossible it is to capture Shelby and Harding smiling (or even looking at the camera) at the same time. Don't think I am striving for perfection, I just want to get a decent, card-worthy shot of the four of us.

(Picture taken of Shelby Frances last October. Doesn't she look mischevious? This is actually a pretty accurate representation of her personality...the little stinker!)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Harding's 4th Birthday

The actual birthday was on November 30th, but the celebration has been drawn out over the course of a week and a half. On Thanksgiving day, my parents gave Harding their birthday gift--a Sheriff Woody doll "with a pull string" as Harding called it. This has been a huge hit.

Last Saturday, we stopped in the middle of bamboo floor installation chaos and went to a puppet show of Aesop's fables. Harding loved it! Here he is with Momo and Bop.

Harding poses with his four wrapped gifts from Trip and me on the morning of his birthday. He was very pumped!

Perhaps his favorite gift of the morning--an E.T. t-shirt which he wore to school that day. Harding has been a big fan of E.T. since he saw the movie a few months ago.

Forced birthday pose with mommy. When you have gone through the ordeal of birthing a child, you deserve to get a good picture with them on the anniversary of that day. But try telling that to him!

Birthday dinner at Papas and Beer. Here he is wearing the birthday sombrero that was plopped on his head when all the wait staff sang to him. You can tell how unsure he was about that situation.

Every four-year-old deserves to own a bicycle. Unfortunately, the one we picked out was too big. We'll exchange it for a smaller one this afternoon.

Our friends the Gillilands came over for dinner last night and brought Harding a gift--costumes! Harding has been either Spiderman or Woody ever since.

Here is Spiderman with his train cake:

And here is when spiderman blew out the candles on the train cake:

Derek spent the night with us last night and the boys had the best time playing together. They were thrilled to wake up to the first snow of the season this morning. Here they are on the front porch (Harding still in pajamas).

My baby boy is growing up. It seems like yesterday that Trip and I were still adjusting to our new life as parents to a tiny little newborn. It is amazing how much they grow and change over the course of 4 years......I love you Harding! Thanks for making me a mom!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010, 2 top it all off, we got to see my mom's entire side of the family the day after Thanksgiving at the house they rented in Montreat. Love this motley crew!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Festivities

What?! Did you think we did nothing but work on home renovations the entire holiday? Trip announced that he was not going to do any work on turkey day. That seemed reasonable to me, partly because the bamboo planks needed to acclimate to the humidity in our house for a couple days before being installed and especially because Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is all about food and family and gratitude and it doesn't involve very much stress on my part (since I haven't ever hosted Thanksgiving). Growing up, we always had Thanksgiving at my Nana and Grandpa's house in Johnson City, Tennessee. All my cousins and aunts and uncles from my dad's side would be there. We kids would sprawl out all over the floor in the downstairs living room (the grownups got the bedrooms) and watch movies and catch up on what had been going on in each others' lives since the previous summer. We watched the Macy's parade together and played with Nana's scottie dog, Charlie outside. I have so many wonderful memories of Thanksgiving with my family.

When my grandfather died, I wondered what Thanksgiving would be like without him there to carve the turkey. He always seemed quite stern to me (he was a retired army colonel), but I also remember an amused twinkle in his eye as he listened to all of us talking at the table. Thanksgiving is different now--we have dinner in Arden at my parents' house, more people participate in the cooking, and our extended family has grown by leaps and bounds. But the key elements are the same--family, food, friendship, love and laughter. Plus, we have added yard games to the mix, which is brilliant! I think of Grandpa every year when we sit around the table for the Thanksgiving meal. I know he is pleased that we still get together as a big extended family--that was important to him. He and my grandmother are the reason that I am so close to my aunts and uncles and cousins and I am grateful for that gift.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Almost finished!

I think Harding and Shelby are happy to no longer be "rug rats". Trip and his dad and brother have worked really hard for the past two days to get this beautiful bamboo flooring in. I can hardly believe that this is my house...I absolutely love it! Once we put the quarter round on, this home makeover project will thankfully be done. Now to go rug shopping....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Trip and I have been racking our brains trying to figure out what Shelby might like for Christmas. She's a tough one. Her favorite activity lately is army crawling to the bookshelf and pulling books down to chew on. She is really starting to explore her surroundings these days. Last week she crawled all the way into the kitchen for the first time. She found the top to a to-go coffee cup on the floor and started throwing it and absolutely cracking up at the sound it made when it fell on the floor. The video is pretty cute. Maybe she'll get a stocking full of coffee cup tops this year....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

House Anniversary and Projects

We have been homeowners for 6 years this week! As an anniversary gift to our house, we've got some big projects underway. Trip and I (with the help of my dad) spent the weekend painting our living room. It has been bright yellow and it was time for something more neutral, especially since we plan to sell our house in a couple years.

I will miss the cheerful yellow though. Here is Trip cutting in with the new color, "milestone". Painting this tall room is quite an undertaking! Harding wanted to "help".
We've been thinking of putting in bamboo floors for a long time. We finally have saved enough money and they went on sale last week so we ordered them. They should come in Wednesday and we're going to install them in the living room and dining room next weekend (gulp)! Thank goodness Trip's parents have done this before and are going to help us.

My sister, Chris is in town for Thanksgiving. She came over with Riley today to watch the kids and give Trip and I moral support as we finished painting. I love these two baby girls!

Things are certainly busy around here, but our house deserves some love after 6 years and the final product is going to be really nice....happy anniversary house!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ophthalmologist and Orthopedist Updates

We have a wave of check-ups with all of Shelby's specialists every six months. It is that time again, so last week we went to the Orthopedist in Charlotte and yesterday we went to the Ophthalmologist here in Asheville. Shelby will have an MRI at the beginning of December which we will mail to her neurosurgeon so that he can check on her brain growth and shunt. Thankfully, if there are no problems we won't have to travel to Duke for that. Then Shelby will have an EEG and go to the neurologist after Christmas.

At Shelby's ortho check-up, Dr. Casey noticed that Shelby's left leg is shorter than her right leg. Apparently it is pretty common in cerebral palsy patients for the weaker leg to be a tad shorter, so that was not surprising. Plus, several family members on Trip's side have one leg that is shorter, so there are probably genetic factors playing into this as well. She may wear lifts to correct this in the future. Shelby's hip x-rays looked great. Her hip socket is deepening nicely. Shelby will keep wearing the hip abduction brace at night for another six months to make sure that her hip dysplasia continues to improve. We also talked about using AFO's (ankle foot orthotics) in the future on Shelby's left foot when she begins to pull up to standing because there is a good deal of muscle tightness on that side. Basically, Dr. Casey and our PT, Beth are monitoring Shelby closely. When she starts crawling and walking, we want her to do it as symmetrically as possible.

Shelby's ophthalmology appointment went well. Dr. Bachinsky was pleased with the huge CVI (cortical visual impairment) improvements she has made. Shelby is still far sighted, but within the normal range for her age, so no glasses at this point. When they dilated her eyes, Shelby's optic nerve showed no further damage than it did six months ago and that is not expected to change. I asked what the optic nerve damage meant for Shelby's vision. Dr. Bachinsky said that Shelby will probably need assistive devices in school to help her read. She also encouraged us to look into pre-braille instruction in a couple years. Learning braille will give Shelby another reading option on days that her eyes are tired. It is frustrating to not know how much your child sees, and we won't really know until she can tell us. But it is so exciting that she sees and that her vision is improving!

I feel so much better going into this wave of appointments then I did a year ago and am incredibly thankful for that. Shelby is doing great, which tells me that her brain is still "happy" as her neurosurgeon, Dr. Grant told us a year ago. It'll be nice to see it on the MRI too though. More doctor updates coming in the next month....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekends make me happy!

I really appreciate and revel in the weekend now that I am a working mom. I love to wake up without an alarm clock. I love to keep my pajamas on all morning and drink coffee and eat breakfast at a leisurely pace. Most of all, I love being with my family for extended periods of time.

This weekend was especially full of fun. Friday night, we went to a puppet show in West Asheville. Harding has been begging us to take him to a puppet show, so this free one near our house was perfect. All of the puppets were handmade by the puppeteer.The "scary" puppets were Harding's favorites. He was enthralled by this one's tongue which touched the ground when it came out.

Conveniently, the puppet show happened to have been at an ice cream shop. Yay for me!

Of course Harding chose chocolate ice cream.

We got to have a lovely lunch with Nana on Saturday. Here she is telling Shelby a story.
The kids model their latest set of matching pajamas. Harding was so excited to be a snowman. He kept saying, "If you touch me, you will become frozen".
This picture is actually from last weekend, but the meal Trip made was particularly amazing and worthy of being photographed. Trip loves ethnic foods. He mastered Mexican cooking a long time ago, but is now on a huge Asian kick. The balti lamb pictured below was to die for. We also had boc choy, papaya, and naan on the side.
My only complaint about the weekend is it goes too quickly! Now back to my lesson planning for next week.

As promised....

More Halloween pictures.
Trip's lovely jack-o-lantern:

Harding as a scary spider:

The four of us at trunk-or-treat:

Shelby kept cracking up at the sound of the crunching leaves:

Harding and Shelby's jack-o-lanterns: