Thursday, May 24, 2007

More Teeth!

I forgot to post this earlier but baby girl now has her 4th tooth and is starting to look more and more like a little person as opposed to a gummy old lady! Her 2nd top front tooth came in around Tuesday this week!

Tom also caught her up on her knees in the crib the other day playing with her crib toy. She is sitting up on her very well now and it takes almost no effort for her to do so. She gets around very well and very quickly!

Emily and Ryan are the highlights of our lives and they bring so much joy. Ryan has been such a great big brother and he's so helpful and thoughtful in making sure everything gets carried out to the car and back into the house for all of our weekend adventures. And, Emily loves her big brother. Even though she's lost most of their staring contests so far, she LOVES staring at him! (I'm not quite sure she understands the rules yet and with an attention span as long as mine she finds something else to look at to distract her from the game.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Emily's Mom

Emily took a trip with Tom and I to Children's Hospital's Northwest Office this afternoon. Since there was so little recorded about her birth history in Kazakhstan, our pediatrician asked that we do a little investigating to learn a little more.

This is old news to some of you, but Emily was born 10 weeks premature... that's about 2 1/2 months early. Her records indicated a cerebral hemorrhage at birth but stated nothing about the severity of it. It could be very minor and cause no problems for her in the future or it could cause complications later on. The big buzz word that keeps getting thrown around by the doctors is cerebral palsy. Because of this, our pediatrician just wants to get a peek inside that noggin of Em's and map out what we might be dealing with this.

In order to "map out" Emily's brain, our pediatrician has requested that we get an MRI done. Again, this is just so we know what we're dealing with -- not because we suspect any problems. We are still working with the kind people at Marion's Help Me Grow and they have been phenomenal at plugging us into the proper channels to get things done. It's not always the most streamlined, but in the long run it's probably best for Emily. Help Me Grow has referred us to the Marion County Health Center for Emily's Occupational Therapy (which she was done with after 2 visits) and for Physical Therapy (which we still go to once a week). They have also referred us to the Marion County Health Department in order to complete an application for BCMH (Bureau for Children's Medical Handicaps). In my very basic understanding of BCMH, this is state funding that will kick in on the MRI after our insurance picks up their part. We were encouraged to go this route so we wouldn't have to pay as much out of pocket on the MRI (on whatever insurance didn't cover). At least I think that's right!

One thing about having a kid is that I now have to learn all that insurance stuff that I never had to bother with or cared about before. Tom and I very rarely had to use our insurance until our little blessing came along. Now, it's baptism by fire... or something like that! ;-)

Anywho... back to the regularly scheduled program!

As part of the BCMH red tape we had to see a neurologist prior to getting the MRI done. That was what our trip to Children's was for. In the course of 3 1/2 months (since we came home), I have lost my identity as Jenni Hypes. I am now the lady formerly known as Jenni Hypes -- otherwise known as "Emily's mom". The nurses at the doctor's office referred to me as such. After I checked in, when it was time to fill out some paperwork I heard "Emily's mom!". When they had a question for me it was the same... "Emily's mom!". It's not such a bad thing and made me giggle each time they said it.

I can see it now... instead of answering my phone with my typical "Hi. This is Jenni." schpeal I just might have to start saying "Hi. This is Emily's mom." All you moms know it's true. When you walk into a room with young children and their parents, the parents in the room quickly become simply the puppet handlers... invisible to the naked eye. I do it too! I frequently say hello and goodbye to the little tikes and forget that mom and dad are in the room too. Heheh... oh, well. Such is life.

Well, now that you know that highly important part of the visit, I can share that all went well. Dr. Khuhro did seem to notice some stiffness in Emily's legs but other than that said her skull was forming well and he didn't see any signs of her brain not developing correctly. (Yes, I know her brain is not in her legs! But stiffness can be a sign of CP so they check for it! Hehehe) He ask for an MRI to be scheduled as our pediatrician has requested and also said that from what he's seen so far he probably won't need to see us again.

This is good news and basically what we expected to hear! At times, I feel like we are almost being encouraged to look for problems but I keep reminding myself that we truly don't know much about Emily's birth and the circumstances around it. All we have to go by are some really scary medical terms on a sheet of paper and on top of that we've been told that "sometimes" the doctors that are trained in the Russian-based medical schools put lots of labels on things that aren't necessarily as serious as they sound. In other words, nearly all children coming out of the Baby Houses in Kazakhstan are labeled with a lot of the same diagnoses and many of the terms are nothing to be concerned about. They view childbirth has a tramatic experience that is basically a miracle if you survive. It's something that all children must "overcome". They have a much more pessimistic view when compared with childbirth in the U.S.

With all that being said, we continue to be amazed at Emily's rapid progress and the new things she's learning each day. She's a tough kid and is still very content and adaptable. We get frequent comments on what a good baby she is and how happy she seems. We've been told by an older lady at our previous church that she has "a peaches and cream complexion" and I think that's about the best way to put it. She always has rosie cheeks and a happy glow about her. She loves to laugh at her daddy and he loves to make her laugh. Seeing them play together melts my heart.

We were in the waiting room for a while this afternoon after our appointment as we waited to get the MRI scheduled with Children's main campus. Tom likes to sit Emily on his head and play with her on the couch but this time he fully put her on his shoulders while we were waiting and she let out the biggest belly laughs. Here's a snippet for your enjoyment!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Teeth, Crawling and BIRTHDAYS!

Since my last "real" post on the 8th we've been quite busy.

We had Aunt Michelle and Aunt Laura over for supper and to celebrate Em's birthday a little early. She ate "real" table food for the first time (all by herself too!)... cooked, diced carrots and did really well! She got some really cool birthday presents and especially loves to play with her new singing pots and pans.

Emily had physical therapy again. She's definitely getting better at crawling. I learned some more tricks to get her to sit up on her own, some more stretching techniques and some other things to get her crawling a little better. I expressed some concern that over the weekend she regressed for a few days and started standing on her tiptoes again, arching her back more and tighting/straightening up again when I was trying to change her diapers. It was all a bit scary but I was reassured that this was normal after kids have been sick and especially after they've had a big growth spurt (which I'm certain Em has just experienced)! This is caused by bones growing faster than muscle and we had to stretch all those muscles all over again to get them caught up. It took us a few more days of stretching and she seems to be getting back to normal again. It sounds like we might run into this problem each time she has a major growth spurt for a while but at least we'll know what's going on next time so it's not quite so scary.

I volunteered at a local food pantry this morning while Emily stayed with Grandma and Grandpa. She went with them to the Ladies Spring Banquet at their church and I joined them as soon as I could after my work was done. After that, we went home and napped for a couple of hours before heading off to Johnstown to celebrate Mother's Day and Em's birthday with Tom's parents. It was a great evening and Em had lots of smiles to share even and hour and a half after her bed time. She loves spending time with family and friends and holds off on sleep because she doesn't want to miss a thing. The good part though is that she hasn't gotten cranky when she does that (so far)... but she definitely fell asleep as soon as the car started rolling home!

Emily and I had nursery duty at church and then we went to Grandma Isler's house after lunch to celebrate Mother's Day with that side of the family. Emily received a few 1st birthday cards and again loved spending time with her family.

Some time over the weekend Em's 3rd tooth broke through. She now has 2 bottom teeth and 1 top one. The 2nd top tooth isn't too far behind...we can see it on it's way!

Emily turned 1 year old! She spent the day at "daycare" -- otherwise known as Grandma and Grandpa's. She even had her own mini party and birthday cake with them. In the evening we played with Emily and let her stay up late playing with her new toys.

Today brought all kinds of new things with it. Grandma happened to have a video camera out when Emily decided it was a good time to sit up (on her own!) for the first time! And then, she let me witness that skill 2 more times later that night. She's also become very adept at crawling. I sat her down in the living room in front of her toys while I walked around the corner to get supper ready in the kitchen. To my surprise, a couple of minutes later I heard a little shuffle in the doorway and had "followed" me about 20 feet away to the kitchen. She's a sneaky little thing!

Tonight we celebrated Em's birthday AGAIN with another cake. This one was sent home over the weekend by the Hypes' and I had promised to take some pictures of Em sinking her teeth (gums) into it. It's a good thing I had a digital camera... I took over 20 pictures of just her making a mess of her piece of cake and then another handful of the post-cake clean-up.

Never fear.... she's still squeaky clean!!!

Now, in retrospect, I probably ought to update this blog a little more often... I can't believe this entry is already over 8 paragraphs long! Sorry about that!

Friday, May 11, 2007

My job description...

Another email I just couldn't resist passing along to all of Emily's reader's.

Mother, Mom, Mama, Mommy, Momma, Ma

Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.

HAPPY MOTHER'D DAY TO ALL YOU MOMS OUT THERE! And... to those of you who might be mom's but just don't know it yet... my daughter was born on Mother's Day last year. I didn't feel like celebrating at the time but in retrospect it was a pretty good day... we just didn't know that until 8 mos. later!

Take care and be blessed! We still appreciate your comments on the blog!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Look Out World Here I Come!

Today is the first day that Emily has truly shown her commitment to crawling!

I also noticed I still owe you some pictures from the past couple of weeks...

A few of the teachers at the middle school threw a baby shower for Emily at the end of April... Once again, we have been so blessed with such caring co-workers and friends.

After the party was over, the girls continued their conversation while the grown-ups cleaned up.

I know it doesn't look like it, but Spencer was actually leaning into this "petting". He usually admires Emily from a distance but was under the impression that someone was going to pet him if he got brave.

Emily is still fascinated by the camera but at least now I can sometimes con her into smiling for a photo op.

Here's a little carry-over from our Karen Kingsbury event at the store. This is the staff at The Shepherd's Nook.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Price of Children

I got this in an email this morning and thought it was worth sharing...

- - - - - - - - - - -

The Price of Children

This is too good not to pass on to all. Something positive for a change. I have repeatedly seen the breakdown of the cost of raising a child, but this is the first time I have seen the rewards listed this way.

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition.

But $160,140 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into:

* $8,896.66 a year,
* $741.38 a month, or
* $171.08 a week.
* That's a mere $24.24 a day!
* Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is don't have children if you want to be "rich." Actually, it is just the opposite. What do you get for your $160,140?

* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
* Glimpses of God every day.
* Giggles under the covers every night.
* More love than your heart can hold.
* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
* A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or chocolate.
* A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140, you never have to grow up. You get to:

* finger-paint,
* carve pumpkins,
* play hide-and-seek,
* catch lightning bugs, and
* never stop believing in Santa Claus.

You have an excuse to:

* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,
* watching Saturday morning cartoons,
* going to Disney movies, and
* Wishing on stars.
* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay or Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.

For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for:
* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,
* taking the training wheels off a bike,
* removing a splinter,
* filling a wading pool,
* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat to history to witness the:
* first step,
* first word,
* first bra,
* first date, and
* First time behind the wheel.

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits. So, one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a deal for the price!!!!!!!

Love and enjoy your children and grandchildren!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Getting Better...

... at least we hope when gravity is working to her advantage and she's sitting on Daddy's head... ;-)

Emily's ickiness had another bad day or two before it started getting better. We (Emily and I) decided to stay home from church on Sunday to give her another day to rest up and to give me another day to see how she was doing... it was a long, fussy day. She usually only naps for about 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Sunday morning she napped for 3 hours!

I took Emily to the doctor on Monday to see if there was something we could give her to help her feel better. Cold medicine definitely wasn't doing a thing for her. According to the doctor, Emily's been fighting bronchiolitis... a lower respiratory infection that seems to only cause problems for kids under about 12 mos. old. At that age, their lungs aren't developed enough to fight it off. The doctor also seemed to think this might be what they were talking about when the babyhouse doctors were saying she was quite susceptible to respiratory infections. We've taken her off the cold medicine and have only given baby tylenol if she's really uncomfortable.

It's now about a week since she started showing symptoms and she's on the upswing. Our baby girl is now smiling again and although not back to 100% she's definitely getting there. She still sounds like she's got a "smoker's cough" and she's come to dislike anything that looks like a tissue coming towards her schnozola.

In other news related to "Getting Better", I got to spend my 35th birthday yesterday with best-selling Christian fiction author, Karen Kingsbury and her family... and our family and friends through our store. Our store's name was pulled in a drawing at a Christian bookseller's conference earlier this year to have Karen Kingsbury come to our store for a booksigning, dinner with the staff and a speaking engagement.

On a personal note, I was anxious about this event because I had met Karen about a year ago and she struck me as one of the very few "famous" authors, musicians, etc. that we've met at these things over the years that seemed truly genuine. Yes, unfortunately, Tom and I have become a bit jaded over the years from some of the things we've seen behind the scenes at these gatherings. I was worried my impression would be ruined. No worries friends! Karen and her family (husband, Don and 6 children came too!) are the real deal and strive to be humble and follow Christ in everything they do. They treated her (Karen's) readers and retailers as friends not as business partners. Karen had people lining up for her booksigning 2 1/2 hours early and she spoke with each and every person and took pictures of each of them for her website. She stayed at the school where the speaking engagement was until 10:30pm when every last person had been spoken to and had their books signed. And... she was even happy to eat my salad and finish off my sweet potato at supper! ;-) It did my heart good to enjoy this birthday with our new friends and our friends from the store.
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