Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Go Ma, It's Your Birthday!

Tonight, just before midnight (EST) as we are all preparing to welcome in the new year, Washington, D.C. will be commemorating another fantastic event. The last baby born there in 19__ will be celebrating her birthday!

That baby was my mom. And yes, she is documented as the last baby born that year in our nation's capital. And what a gift she has been to the world. There is no one smarter, more dedicated, or more compassionate in my life. She has a heart of gold and if she loves you, hold on and be prepared to be loved for a lifetime.

Happy birthday, Ma. When you tell me how proud you are of me, when you tell me that I am a good wife and mother, all I can say is I'm everything I am because you loved me.

Now party like it's your burf-day. ;)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Isaiah's Determination - 1 ; His Ankle - 0

Just a week after taking his first unassisted steps, Isaiah had his first "mobility-related" trip to the E.R. last night. He had been cruising along the couch yesterday when he stopped to stand and watch TV. Suddenly he lost his balance. His body twisted and down he went ~ face first. His cry wasn't the usual, "I fell down, went boom, now baby me!" It was the sound of pure agony. I grabbed him up and examined his lips, teeth, nose, and head. I couldn't find any blood or obvious injuries. I cuddled him in my arms and after a time, he calmed down. In hindsight, I should have noticed that he didn't try to pull up on anything after that.

When James came home and went into his whole, "How's my little man?" routine with Isaiah, I told him about his tumble and how mellow he had been since then. He asked me if he had hurt himself and that's when it finally hit me. I asked James to try and stand him up. Isaiah absolutely could not put any weight on his left foot. James sat him down and attempted to rotate his foot around the ankle. Isaiah yelped out in pain. James removed his socks. Isaiah's left foot and ankle were not only swollen, but warm to the touch as well.

James didn't think anything was broken, but since Isaiah couldn't tell us exactly what was wrong, off to the E.R. we went. Four hours and 7 x-rays later we had the verdict: Isaiah sprained his ankle. In his fall, he had twisted his ankle and rolled over his left foot. The doctor asked us if we thought he would tolerate a brace. We told them about his orthopedic leg braces (AFOs) that he wears to school everyday. He said to try putting those on him and the follow-up team would call us to schedule another round of x-rays in a few days.

We decided to keep our weekly appointment with his physical therapist today (we usually go on Wednesdays, but this Wednesday is the practice's rescheduled holiday party). It was the best decision we could have made. By the end of the session, PT Larry had Isaiah successfully in his braces and adaptive sneakers. Ever so gingerly, Isaiah had even begun to bear the slightest weight on his left leg. PT Larry says he sees a lot of injuries like that in kids like Isaiah. (He even demonstrated how it probably happened). He says Isaiah will be just fine. That's exactly what I needed to hear. We'll keep him braced and Motrin-ed and he should be good-to-go before we know it.

At the moment, Isaiah is sitting in my lap happily kicking his right leg---as if to say: Rest up, Lefty. We have places to go.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The week between Christmas and New Year's

There's that whole post-high from Christmas morning and the anticipation of New Year's Eve. Do we take down the decorations or leave them up a while longer? James is on a half-day schedule and the kids don't go back to school until January 5. No schedule. No real routine. It's kinda nice.

We hope everyone had a blessed Christmas. The snow has finally melted and the Seattle rain is back in full effect. We don't have any plans for New Year's Eve; I don't think we've had "plans" since the early 90's. Yesterday we started to talk seriously about our travel plans for 2009.

Originally, we were going to drive down to California, see the Golden Gate Bridge, visit some friends in the Bay Area, and dip our feet in the Pacific Ocean. But now we are thinking about Super Sizing it--all the way to Arizona. (My sister lives there as well as some friends of ours whom we met during our 2nd tour in Germany). It's going to take extreme planning and patience, but James thinks this is something we can totally do. Not doubts from me; we did drive from Oklahoma to Maryland before we moved back overseas.

But then again, we didn't have to drive back...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

"If only I had operated earlier..."

...before it cleared up on its own".

Dr. R tried his best to feign disappointment at Isaiah's ophthalmologist appointment today. Dr. R is the latest eye doctor to follow Isaiah's nystagmus (shaky eyeball movement) and strabismus (misaligned eyes). At our initial appointment back in the spring, he had been eager to perform corrective surgery. But he wanted to see Isaiah 2-3 more times before scheduling the procedure.

Before he even began the exam this afternoon, he noted vast improvements in the very appearance of Isaiah's eyes. He joked that his colleague in private practice always says to operate when you get a chance--before it corrects itself (because, you know, little Sally needs braces and Mama could use a new Coach bag...) Surgery is OFF the table now and he wants to see Isaiah again in 6 months. He isn't even worried about the ptosis (droopy eyelids) at this point because it doesn't seem to be affecting Isaiah's vision. He is tracking beautifully with both of eyes.

Isaiah has definitely opened our eyes to the little miracle he is.

Our Early Christmas Present

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowed in. And I haven't killed anyone yet.

The kids got an early start to their Christmas Break. Thanks to the unusually snowy weather and freezing temps., their last week of school was fragmented with late starts and snow days. (Lucky duck Isaiah hasn't had preschool since December 12). So I have essentially been "snowed in" with James and kids for a week now. You might think I'd be ready to pull my hair out. You'd be right. But it could be much worse.

When my mom came to visit last month, she couldn't get over how much of a young lady Savannah has become. "Didn't those 11 years go by fast?", she mused. "And just think: in 11 more years she'll be 22." Whoa. That really struck me. The last 11 years have gone by in a flash. Could the next 11 years truly turn my sweet Savannah into a legal adult?

Children grow up way too fast. And we waste so much time sweating the small stuff. Being surrounded by my lovies for so long now has made me realize how much I love being with them. Despite the "Tom & Jerry" antics of the girls. Despite the Cabin Fever. Despite the constant snacking.

James is home for Christmas--not off fighting a war. Savannah still wants to spend time with us. Mariah still believes in Santa. Isaiah is taking steps.

Aw heck. Let it snow, afterall.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Why I love Michelle Obama

With Inauguration Day just about a month away, this is the tribute I have been meaning to write for a while...

The night Michelle Obama gave her speech at the Democratic National Convention, I found myself beginning to weep like a child. I hadn't expected to be so moved by her words, but there I was--choked up, tears streaming down my face. As I watched her, was transfixed on her, hanging onto her every word, I was struck by this woman who at that very moment was poised to become our nation's next First Lady. There she was on the television screen. Not shaking her booty in a rap video or hysterically shouting on Maury that she is 110% sure of who her baby daddy is. There she stood proudly expressing her love and appreciation for her parents, her upbringing, her husband, her children, her country. An educated, devoted working mother and wife--not unlike many of my friends and family members. Not exactly the image the world is used to seeing, but the reality I (and many of the people in my life) have known.

Michelle Obama gives an undeniably high profile face to the "black woman" not many in the mainstream get to see. A woman so obviously dedicated, classy, loving, smart, and so real headed to the White House is a coup not only for black women, black people, or even democrats, but for us all as a nation.

Isn't America great?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow,...wait. That's enough.

The kids' reaction to today's "Snow Day":

Mommy's reaction:

Daddy helped the girls create Uber Frosty:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fortune Cookie Say: You will make sugar cookies next time.

With our budget tight and time running out, I was practically at a loss for teachers' gifts this year (Isaiah has 6 school-related personnel alone). We drove down to Michael's over the weekend with the intention to buy baskets and fill them with the standard cookie fare. But then, these festive holiday Chinese takeout boxes caught my eye and I knew I had to have them.

Later that night, some particularly bad macaroni salad from the Wal-Mart deli allowed me some alone time to web surf for Christmas cookie recipes. Imagine my delight when I came across homemade, ginormous fortune cookies! Ding! Ding! Ding! That was it! I would write cutesy fortunes for a happy holiday to the teachers and place them in gigantic cookies that would fit just right in the festive takeout boxes! Too good to be true?

First of all the recipe called for "anise seed" which they apparently don't sell at the commissary. James called me from there and had 3 ladies helping him in the search. They didn't turn up fennel either. So I told him to grab some almond extract and call it a day.

The second issue was the size of the cookie itself: 8 inches in diameter. Which meant: A) one batch made only 1 cookie and B) I could only bake 1 cookie at a time. I began baking this morning after the girls' 2-hour delay. Isaiah and I had to brave the cold for a silicon pan liner when cookie #2 decided it liked the cookie sheet better than the cooling rack. After settling back in and completing cookies #2-#4, it was time to get the girls from school. Oh and who needs a snack? And look who's home--Daddy! Oops! Did I forget to cook dinner?

It was a ton of work and a truckload of patience, but I was really pleased with how they turned out. The irony of it all--we had to actually eat takeout for dinner.

Giant Fortune Cookies:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 7 hours

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow. Here. Really.

If the kids have a "snow day" tomorrow---a full week before Christmas Break officially starts, someone is going to owe me big time...


People throw around the term "best friends forever" entirely too casually. I mean, how many people actually stay best friends, forever? Along with my cousin, Michele (who has been my "Cousin Buddy" forever), and my good friend, Jennifer K.(whom I met in junior high school), Linda and I have been friends as long as I can remember. We met in 1981 and she recently celebrated her thirtysomething-th birthday! (And because we have been friends so long, Linda, I won't reveal your age).

My family moved to Virginia Beach the summer before I started the 3rd grade. Linda, her mom, and dad lived a few streets over. We ended up in the same class. There was something about her kind and sweet demeanor. I knew I wanted to be her friend. Our friendship has spanned decades--as we both got married and had 3 children each.

You know you have a lifelong friend when, in the 7th grade you slip on a patch of ice getting off a school bus IN FRONT OF THE SCHOOL--losing a shoe up into the air in the process and said friend not only retrieves your wayward shoe, but does so without so much as a smirk.

Now that's a BFF.

I wouldn't blame her one bit for cracking up once she got to homeroom, though.

Video of the Week*

*...unless he Moonwalks before next Sunday. Feel free to turn the volume down on this one. While Isaiah is amazing, I annoy myself.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

"I can make your life easier, Mrs. B..."

I was all ears at that point. Any way that Isaiah's cardiologist could lighten my load--sign me up. Yesterday's appointment wasn't as productive as I had hoped; James couldn't get out of class to go with Isaiah and me and I couldn't convince Isaiah to be still for the EKG. So we'll have to go back to have it done.(*light bulb* James should be finished with his classes next week). We did manage to get a short echocardiogram done. I love seeing my little guy's heart on that screen--especially when it's doing what it is supposed to.

Up to this point, Isaiah has been on Digoxin (since he was 35 weeks in utero, through 18 months-old) and Propranolol. It requires dosing him several times a day. But yesterday, Dr. P. said Isaiah is old enough and hefty enough to start on another drug that he will take just ONCE a day: Atenolol. Ironically, it's the same medication I started taking in October. Can't you just see my stash getting low and I'm hitting up Isaiah for his drugs? At any rate, this change will definitely make our lives easier. Buh-bye Costco-inspired vats of applesauce and pudding!

Dr. P. did mention that as early as next year we should pursue a catheter ablation for Isaiah. Even on the drugs, Holter monitoring shows Isaiah's heart still having short bursts of SVT (rapid beating). The procedure would locate and remedy the problem with his extra pathway. We believe in the power of prayer, so please keep Isaiah in yours.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

He likes to move it, move it!

Today was a good day at physical therapy. PT Larry has suggested we send back the stander and rocking horse seeing as how Isaiah has made so much progress. He's ready for Isaiah to move on to bigger and better things (and by "bigger", I hope he's being figurative. Our house can only hold so much). My awesome son has been standing unassisted for several seconds at a time. And today he even treated us to an unassisted side-step. It was breathtaking. I couldn't even take my eyes off of him long enough to retrieve the camera. The movie clip I did post was all he would give up. He has learned to transition from a stand, to a crawl, to a tall kneel--all the way to "knee walking", which is as hysterical as it sounds. I'm sure he'll treat us to another side-step show soon enough. For now, this will do just fine.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Child with a Heart of Gold... 9 years-old today! She is so much like me, it's scary. In our crazy little world Mariah is our belly laugh, our voice of reason, our ray of sunshine. I am so proud to be her mom. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, sweet girl.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Getting My Cookies On!

We finally heard back from the Girl Scouts this week. Mariah asked months ago if she could join. I contacted the local chapter, but apparently there was a huge waiting list. They are just now getting back to us. They are in the process of forming a new troop--with most of the girls coming from Mariah's school. That's good in that she will know most, if not all, of her troopmates. She was really pushing for this Girl Scouts thing. She pitched it to us as something she could do on her own; her own space and time away from our challenging, but normal-to-us lives. It sounds like something that is right up her alley and I'm happy she's reaching out.

And I'm happy for me: they start selling Girl Scout cookies right after Christmas. Resolutions be darned.

It's a Boy!

I just want to take the time to congratulate Jamie and Nacho on the birth of their beautiful baby boy this week! Congratulations and I know the girls are going to love having a baby brother!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pierced Pastor

I remember getting my ears pierced like it was yesterday. The excitement of picking out earrings! The anxiety of the pain! The giddiness of getting pierced! Being like my friends at last!

Oh and did I mention I was 33 at the time?

We had grown up in a church that frowned upon it. And after a time, I had no interest anyway. But as I began to grow, mature, and discover the many sides of Sharon--I also discovered that sometimes a little bling on the ears does a body good. I started wearing clip-ons in high school. But as anyone who has worn clip-ons during the last 20 years can attest, they aren't always the cutest or most comfortable to endure.

After watching an episode of Oprah (ironically, it wasn't the one where she pierced her ears. It was an episode on aging beautifully), I made the decision to go for it. I also decided on that very same day to get contact lenses and a really great weave. Hey, you only go 'round once and there is no reason not to go 'round fabulously.

In early 2006 while the girls were in school, I left Isaiah with James and hopped the street train to downtown Darmstadt and headed straight for Bijou Brigitte. My functional German coupled with my awesome charades (*making a gun with my fingers and pointing at my ear lobes*) made it crystal clear to the shop lady just what I had come to do--either pierce my ears or blow my brains out. She handed me a piece of paper that I filled out (entirely in German), sat me down and got down to business. The whole process was relatively quick and painless. I've had clip-on pain that hurt more. And it was done. And I was thrilled.

So imagine my utter joy when my sixty something-year-old mother told me yesterday that she had taken the very same plunge. Two days ago my mother got her ears pierced!!! And it only took her twice as long to decide than it took me. At this rate, Savannah will be ready by the time she's...15!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Big Sis!

Today is my sister's birthday! We weren't always as close as we are now (she cut off one of my ponytails when I was 4 and she was 6). But I am honored to say that she is one of my best friends now. (You'd be my true BFF, Char, if not for that unfortunate ponytail incident. Or perhaps that "peanut butter incident" sealed your fate. Ew. I promised myself I wouldn't go there.)

I love and admire you, girl. Your determination and success are inspirational for me and a wonderful example for my girls. You are the best Ti-Ti in the world! We all wish you a very happy thirtysomething-th birthday!!!

PS: We can discuss the terms of the bribe to keep the peanut butter story off of my blog later a little later...