Archive | September, 2011

Birthday Party Preparations

21 Sep

Are now fully underway!

This week I have made my first batches of marshmallow fondant.  It is amazing!  It’s this recipe, which I only found thanks to my friend Heather.  I have never tasted fondant that I really liked, but I LOVE the way it looks on a cake.  I kid you not, this fondant tastes really really good.  Right now I have about 3 batches of it pre-made and hanging out in my fridge.  I’m excited to see how it turns out.  I still have to color it, but I’ve heard it’s the best to wait until you’re getting ready to use it.

It’s amazing what a little pressure can help me accomplish.  A while back, we discovered that she sleeps much better in a super dark room.  I had a black sheet that I’ve used for photo shoots, and I just slipped the fitted sheet over the curtain rod and around the widow sill.  It helped, but it was super ugly.  At that point I would do anything for a little sleep.  But I’ve had blackout fabric for Clara’s room for about 3 months now.  Just sitting there.  Waiting.  Every day I would go in to get her in the morning and think, “gee, I really need to finish that blackout curtain.”  And yet, nothing would get done.  With the threat of people coming over on Saturday for a birthday party and potentially wanting to see her room, I managed to remember to pull down the curtains this week, find the blackout fabric and finish it up.

And I even hung up our diplomas in the office, as well as a magazine rack where I’m putting all the magazines in which my photography has been published, and some additional decorations in Clara’s room.

I don’t know what it is, but I need the pressure of people coming over to my house to get things like that done.  And to get serious cleaning done.  I’m just being honest.  If no one ever came to visit, I would probably never get anything done.

So, stay tuned.  It’s not likely that I will make a lot of updates between now and Saturday.  Tomorrow I’m baking cakes.  Friday Joel is going to Charlotte to talk with the FBI and hopefully move on to the next round of interviews, and I am decorating the cake.  Oh yes.  It’ll be a great weekend.

Any bets on what color my hands turn when I color the fondant?

As a parent…

18 Sep

I now understand the feeling of the parents depicted in the movies on Christmas Eve.

You know the ones.  The dad who is trying to put together a bicycle, and ends up putting the handle bars on the wheels by accident.

My grammy sent Clara a play house for her birthday.  My dad offered to put it together for me, but since he won’t be able to come until next weekend, I thought I’d try to put it together so she can enjoy it a little sooner.  I got out all the prescribed tools, and put the pieces on the patio, and started to put the thing together.

It’s not terribly difficult, just time consuming.  And add to that the fact that I have been foiled at ever step, and I’m just about done trying.  Yesterday I tried assembling it with a screwdriver, which would be fine, but takes a seriously long time due to having to screw through plastic which doesn’t already have holes in it.

Can I just take a second and mention how surprised I am at how many real screws there are in those little plastic houses?  They look like linkin logs that just slide together, but no.  Lots of screws.

Ok, back to it.  This morning I pulled out the big guns.  That’s right, the drill.  It was all going well, until the battery died.  No problem, we have another battery.  So I went and got it and was all ready to continue the project.

Until I discovered that battery was dead as well.

And so, being completely defeated, I have given up.  At least until the batteries are recharged…


12 Sep

Life is full of days.

Good days, bad days, exciting days… days of beginnings and ends, days full of promise, and even some dark days.

There are not a lot of days in my life that I remember with the clarity of a movie playing in front of my eyes.

They say that every generation has at least one of those days in their lifetime.  A day that everyone remembers because of some event, and that they all talk about where they were when they found out about x, y, or z.  This is mine.  Likely, this is yours as well.

I can see that morning as vividly as if I were living it over again.  I was a sophomore in college at NC State.  Engineering major.  Mechanical.  I had an 8am Calculus class (talk about torture).  This day, like every other day, I would walk out of the round building where my class met, cross the brickyard, and go to the Atrium to get some breakfast.

The Atrium was normally a very noisy place.  There was a Chik-fil-a there (and a few other inconsequential eateries, because we all know that when there is a CFA nearby, nothing else matters), and lots of tables filled with chatty college students filling the time until their next class.  In the corners, there were small TVs that were usually turned to a news channel or MTV.

That morning, it seemed like a different place.  When I walked in, the whole place was eerily silent.  Filled with people.  But silent.  It was so odd, that it took me a minute to figure out what was weird about it.  Then I realized that everyone was gathered in the corners, silent, watching what was unfolding in front of them on the news.  It didn’t seem real.  It seemed like, well, it seemed like a movie.  But then they would cut to a shot of the news anchor (Tom Brokaw, I think), and you could see in his eyes that this was, in fact, very real.  I joined the silent crowd and stared up at the TV in disbelief.

They were reporting that it was an accident.  That a small plane had accidentally plowed into the World Trade Center.  Accidentally.

And then the second plane hit.

And there was no more mistaking it.  This was no accident.

I remember actually going to my next class.  The professor refused to cancel it.  I can’t remember a word of what he said, or even what the class was, to be honest.  All I could see was that plane hitting that tower over and over in my mind, and wondering what the heck was going on.

Back at the dorm, I gathered together with all my friends and we cried and questioned and wondered together.  By this time, the other two planes had gone down and we were learning more and more about the situation, but there were still lots of questions.  I was fortunate to have such great friends to walk through this day with.

That day was a lot of things in this country.  It was a very dark and sad day.  It was a day of mourning and weeping.  It was the end of the carefree world that we knew.  And it was the beginning of wars.

But it was also a day that we forgot about our politics and our opinions and we came together as a people.  It was a day when so many sacrificed their lives for others.  When others sacrificed their time, their comfort, and so many other things to help a neighbor.  And that was very good.

I hope that there is never another day like this that my generation can remember with all the clarity of a movie.  But if there is, I hope that there is a memory following closely after it about how we came together to help one another get through it.  And that perhaps it even made us better and stronger people as a result.

Dear Clara

7 Sep

Dear Clara,

You’re 11 months old now, and have been for a few days.  We’ve had quite a bit of excitement and worry with you since you turned 11 months, but that is another post for another day.

You are turning in to quite the independent little girl.  You don’t like to sit on our laps anymore unless you are feeling sick or tired.  You would rather have your own chair and make me have flash-forwards to when you are 16 and asking for the car keys.

You are walking running everywhere now, and that hilarious crawl/butt scoot is nowhere to be seen anymore.  You’re trying to get into everything you can find.  It’s hilarious to pull everything out of my purse, gym bag, any box that’s laying around, and especially the toy bin.  Mess-maker!

You have a bunch of words now – of course there’s the standard mama and dada.  But now you also say nigh-night when you want to go to bed, yogurt, no, yes, and lots more.  I counted the other day and I think you had 9 words, but you’ve added some since then.  It’s so hard to keep track!

You’ve had your share of ER visits already, and I would really appreciate it if we could keep any future visits to a minimum.  Or at least have your issues during the day so that we can just go to the doctor’s office instead of the hospital.  Ok?  Thanks.

Because of those visits, though, we know that you weigh 21.5 lbs.  You sure don’t look it – with your tall, lean frame.

We’ve discovered that you have some drug allergies and that you don’t tolerate steroids.  Next time, could you include that info in the manual that comes with you? That would have been good to know.

You are more and more chatty every day.  You just babble and babble and you sound like you’re having a whole conversation.  If we respond to you, you’ll talk to us and it sounds like you’re asking questions and answering ours.  I really do wish I could understand what you’re saying, because it sounds very important.  I have a feeling that when you start really talking, you will be like your Aunt Rachel who was just always full of questions when she was little (and sometimes still is).

This morning you sat on my lap for a minute when you were drinking your bottle, and when you wanted to get up, you slid yourself to the edge of the chair, arched your back so that you could get your feet closer to the ground, and got down all by yourself.  It is a bittersweet moment for a mama, you know.

You no longer like for us to cut your food up for you.  You want big pieces that you can hold in your hands and take bites from.  I think you’re ready to be a big person.  I’m not ready for that yet.

You have started answering questions.  If I ask you if you want fruit, you will nod your head up and down and say “yss.” I do love that, and it makes things so much easier for me.

I’ve been planning your birthday party, and it’s going to be so much fun!  You won’t remember it, I know, but I’m having a good time planning all the little things anyway.  It’s a little surreal to think that this time last year we were still getting things ready for you to arrive and this year you are almost 1 year old, a little walking, babbling toddler.

You made it through your surgery like a champ!  You are healing up great, and the surgeon and his staff just raved about how cute you were when we went back for your follow up appointment.  Everything went perfectly, and now your daddy likes to tell people that we had your “horn” removed.  Don’t worry honey, it wasn’t really a horn.  He’s just practicing for the first time you bring home a boy.  He’ll do everything he can to scare him – because that’s what dads do.  It’s only because he loves you to pieces.

This little letter is a bit short because it has been a crazy couple of weeks, but I wanted to write to you anyway.  Next month’s letter will be nice and long, as a big milestone birthday letter should be!!

Your daddy and I love you so very much, Clara.  We are so blessed to have you in our lives, and we hope that you know how much we cherish you.

Mommy and Daddy

Clara and the week that wouldn’t end

5 Sep

I hope that at the end of this post, I will be able to declare the week ended. Finally.

Last weekend, and for a few days before that, Clara wad being kinda fussy and just not herself. I figured it was because she was teething, and I could see how swollen her gums were where those 1 year molars were trying to come in. So I was giving her Tylenol and ibuprofen and that seemed to help a bit. We even made it through Monday, which is Joel’s long day of class, thanks to Heather and her kiddos making the trek down to Sunni sky’s and over to holly springs to hang out with us for a bit.

Monday we also found out that Joel has been invited to the phase 1 selection process for the FBI. Crazy, and (again) another story for another time.

Tuesday rolls around, and Clara’s still not feeling great, and I’m still giving her ibuprofen. She had a low grade fever – maybe 99 or so – but again I thought it was just her teeth. Until that night.

When I picked her up to get her ready for bed, she was burning up. Just so so hot. She wad still in the middle of a dose of ibuprofen, so it was a bit worrisome. We took her temp and it was almost 103. So we made a frantic call to the pediatrician, heard back from a completely incompetent nurse, and decided to go to the emergency room.

Why do kids always get sick after normal business hours??  Seriously.

We were put in a room almost immediately, and she was given some Tylenol, with her having a fever of 103.5, but didn’t see a nurse or even a doctor for almost 2 hours. Not a soul entered our room. Eventually a nurse did come see us, took Clara’s temp again – still 102 – and then the PA finally came to see us. He said he thought the fever was from her teeth, too, at which point I started to feel really stupid and silly for bringing her in. But he also mentioned that there was a good possibility that she could have a UTI. They would need to do additional tests to determine that.

What followed seemed more like torture than treatment… but that’s probably just because it was my baby in the ER screaming as they took a urine sample (with a catheter), blood sample, and chest x-ray.  Oh, and then the lab screwed something up and didn’t keep the rest of her urine for a culture, so they had to come back and get some more.  Awesome.  I felt terrible, and as much as I wanted all the tests to come back negative, I would have felt like a complete and total idiot, not to mention a terrible parent, for putting Clara through all of that.

The end result was that they decided she did have a UTI after all, and I felt slightly better about making her endure those tests, since they found something.  They gave her antibiotics and sent us home.  At 2am.

End of the story, right?


Friday morning we headed down to the beach for the long weekend.  We were excited to spend some time with friends, enjoy the pool, the beach, and the sun.  That afternoon, I saw that Clara was getting a little rash on her belly – it was very faint, but red and kind of raised.  I gave her the antibiotics again that night and when I got her ready for bed I noticed that the rash was getting worse and was spreading to her back and neck.  I called my mom for about the 50th time that week (she’s a pharmacist, and super smart) to ask her what she thought.  Drug allergy.  So we called the pediatrician again.  They refused to call in a different antibiotic for us, I think because they were not the original prescriber… but still.  Frustrating.  They told us to go to an urgent care in the morning and give her benadryl that night.  Easy enough.

In the morning we went off in search of an urgent care.  Well, as it turns out, with the new hospital in Brunswick County, all the urgent care places have closed.  ALL of them.  So the ER was our only choice.

On a separate note, I feel like I should write reviews of all the hospitals and ERs we’ve been to.  Brunswick County takes first place by far – for speed, staff, cleanliness, and room size.  It was really the best possible experience you could have in an ER.  They were very quick all around.  They prescribed a different antibiotic, benadryl for days, and steroids and we were out of there in 45 minutes.

End of the story, right?

Don’t I wish.

We picked up all the meds and went back to the beach house to give them to Clara.  And she threw up immediately.  All over the carpet.

I almost lost it.  Ok, maybe I actually did lose it.

We made a few more phone calls – me to my mom, Joel to the ER – and were told to wait 30 minutes or so and give it to her again.  So we did, but we withheld the steroids.  After a while and no throw up, we put her down for a nap.  When she got up, we fed her lunch and tried the steroids again.  And again, it was immediate.

We stopped giving her the steroids and everything seemed better.  Generally it was, aside from the screaming and waking everyone up at 1am because of a nasty case of diaper rash… but that was pretty easily remedied .

On a positive note, we now know that Clara is allergic to a couple of drug classes and doesn’t tolerate steroids well.  I am thankful that the reaction wasn’t worse than it was.  It could have been a life threatening situation, and thankfully it wasn’t.  I am thankful that my mom is a pharmacist, and doesn’t mind if I call her at all hours with questions, concerns, and more questions.  I think the worst part was thinking that the situation was coming to a resolution every time, and then some other crazy thing would happen.

It has just been an exhausting week.  But Clara has seemingly made a full recovery, and got a clean bill of health from the doctor at the follow up appointment.

I’ve had my fill of hospital time for a while. Let’s just leave it at that.