Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Today it was decided that the only way to transport Anara home, and then later to and from the hospital for visits, is an ambulance. Our developmental pediatrician wasn't quite satisfied and wants to try one more car seat expert. I called our insurance company and they will pay for ambulance transport provided that it is deemed medically necessary. I guess it is either an ambulance or we stay at the hospital 4 more weeks (and that is not an option). From a surgical standpoint, the doctors are very satisfied with how Anara is progressing. The developmental pediatrician is still concerned about her left leg (lack of movement) and she wants answers to several home care and transport questions before we are discharged. I would anticipate just a few more days in the hospital.
Today Violet came to the hospital in her princess dress. My mom made Violet a beautiful dress with expensive material and several layers of crinoline, and Violet doesn't like the dress. In fact, Vi didn't smile the whole time we had her trick or treating around the hospital. It can't all be blamed on the dress because she is terrified of costumes, masks, beards, and all things that alter appearance or hide the face. She made Nate carry her around to the different stations to collect her prizes. Speaking of beards (or typing of beards to be more exact), there is a man (patient family) on our floor with white hair and a white beard. He has a round little belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly. He wears Santa suspenders and has a "Kris Kringle" identification card. Kids have been sitting on his lap but Violet finds him terrifying. She won't go to the activity room when he is there and clings to us if she catches a glimpse of him.
Anara is having a pretty good day. One of her ureteral stents didn't drain today and emptied urine into her reservoir. She was a little uncomfortable until we irrigated and pulled the urine out. We think we fixed all her tubes so that they are back to draining appropriately. Hopefully tomorrow we will come back off the IV and get closer to having a home care plan.
Thanks again for the emails, prayers, gifts, visits, and encouragement. Hopefully I will be able to thank everyone individually, but I have done a crappy job recording things and my brain cannot be counted on right now.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Right now Anara is high on morphine and playing with her glow worm doll, Ermie (Wormy). I imagine that toy is even more more fun to her than normal while floating on pain medication. I'm glad that she is feeling good. One of the doctors told Amanda today that kids that aren't in pain heal faster. I hope that's true.
Speaking of Amanda, she really has been amazing through all of this. She has been on top of everything and made sure that every step of the way Anara is getting the care that she needs. Today she was the squeaky wheel about Anara's leg, which was still bothering her. The doctors and nurses that had looked at it so far didn't seem to be doing anything about it, so she made a couple calls and now it's being taken care of. Anara has straightened it out a little bit this afternoon and evening, by the way, and doesn't act like it's bothering her too much, so hopefully it will be nothing after all. Still, Amanda was thanked by at least a couple doctors for bringing attention to it.
We are still not sure when exactly we might be taking Anara home, but the feeling is that it is going to be a lot sooner than we thought. We were pretty geared up for a long time here at the hospital, with tons of down time and possibly even boredom. Now it looks like that's not going to happen and instead we need to gear up for a long period (1 month?) of home recovery. That will be good, though.
This is the most talking I've heard from Anara since she's been here. It might be the drugs, but it's been pretty cute. Here is some of what she's jabbering:
"Woof, woof, woof...meow."
"Dee-daw, moudy daw." (See-saw, Margie Daw - a game we play with her)
"Mommy, aw you?" (Mommy, where are you?)
"Moo, moo, daddy." (I think she's trying to sing Old McDonald.)
"No, mow, eah." (Nose, mouth, ears.)
"Nigh-night Ermie." (Night-night, Wormy.)
"Uppa buva doodie." ("Up above the..." trying to sing Twinkle Twinkle.)
"Daddy, daddy." (Trying to get my attention, I think.)
Okay, I'm going to try to get her settled down so I can try to get at least a little sleep. This hasn't been too bad of a night so far. Maybe she really is Daddy's girl.
Monday, October 29, 2007
One additional concern is that Anara hasn't moved her left leg in the past 3 days. If I try to extend it or even touch her toes she gets upset. Tomorrow the Orthopedic Surgeon will take a look at it and maybe get an X-ray. His initial thought was a muscle spasm, but a 3 day muscle spasm sounds painful to me.
Thanks Allison and Jeni for stopping by. It was good to see some familiar faces after a tense afternoon.
By the way, Anara is singing right now, "La la la, la la la, la la la". I am so thankful for pain medicine.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Today I made the mistake of saying, "Anara, do you want to go home soon?" She immediately started nodding furiously, said yes, and smiled. When she realized that I didn't mean we were going home right then she started crying, and I felt terrible.
The orthopedic surgeon said that we can start holding her. Today when I left the hospital we still hadn't tried. It is very intimidating to try and pick her up and hold her absolutely flat knowing that she is still pretty ouchy and uncomfortable.
On a lighter note, Violet finally learned to pedal her tricycle today. She still goes forward two steps and one step back but it is fun to see her try. She is pretty pleased with herself. By the way, she is still using the term "Little widgeon". "Why don't you come out here and play with me you little widgeon."
Friday, October 26, 2007
This morning they removed her JP tube that was draining the surgery site - only four more drains to go. She didn't go crazy on clear liquids yesterday. I got her to eat about 1/2 a popsicle and a little water. We are starting formula today and praying that it doesn't upset her stomach.
Today is Christina's birthday. Violet and Anara call her "Nina". This afternoon she is leaving for Afghanistan for one month. You can read about her travels on the link from our blog. Happy birthday Nina!
Violet has been saying lots of funny things since everything started. I know that I am not going to be able to remember them all, but I will try to remember to post little things as she says them. The other day I told her that she would have to take the ICU bracelet off eventually and she said, "No. I was like, no" in a Valley girl sounding voice. She has also been calling people "little widgeons" except for my dad - she called him a big widgeon. We have no idea what she means or where this came from.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
This was a bad afternoon. Anara was pretty fussy today and it was difficult to determine the cause. Was it pain, was it too much activity, was it the ice or water, was it pain, was it the bath in the bed, was it brushing her teeth, was it too much prodding and poking, was it pain, was she just really tired, was it just general frustration with her circumstances, was it grumpiness from the morphine, or was it pain? It is hard to tell. Maybe it was everything. We are staying on the scheduled Valium to prevent spasms and we increased frequency of the morphine a little. I go back and forth with wanting to wean her down or trying to stay ahead of the pain. There has to be a happy medium - a level in which she doesn't have as much pain reaction but isn't totally stoned.
Today I made another discovery. One of Anara's tubes (SPT) hasn't drained in a couple days and there wasn't much concern because the other tube in the same area (Monti) was still draining. I kept ruminating and just couldn't let it go (because the Monti definitely used to drain). We flushed both sides and things would come out of one but not a drop back out of the other. I still couldn't let it go so I called her MD on his cell phone. He gave instructions to irrigate (meaning push saline in and pull it back out) of the side that wasn't draining. We pulled 80ml of stinky, mucousy sludge back out of the SPT. We aren't sure of the reason why things weren't draining but at least we know what to do if it happens again and I am relieved that there isn't a big moat of smelly stuff laying in her reservoir.
Anara cried for a really long time this evening. I couldn't figure out how to calm her. Our normal tricks just weren't working. I finally got her caught up on pain meds. and she calmed down. She watched our roommates TV for a while and then fell asleep. They really messed with her a lot and it is very likely that she was having pain from all the torment (the Ortho. pulled up on the construct and shook it a little just to make sure it was securely in bone). I think she is also becoming frustrated with the reality of the situation. But, she is finally peaceful and seems to do well at night. Hopefully tomorrow will be better for her than today.
Thanks for your continued prayer. We are praying for limited pain, speedy healing, good bone regrowth, sutures and stitches to remain secure and no infection.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
My friend Jen wrote a comment and reminded us that people we don't even know are praying for us. This is absolutely amazing and I do believe we have felt the prayers. I want to write this extra cheesy post to share just some of the ways we have been blessed during this time and if I forget to mention something, I am really sorry.
*We have had help and numerous offers of help since before we even came to the hospital.
*We have had enough energy, sleep, and peace to sustain us.
* People have fed us.
-Nate and my parents have made and bought meals.
-Nate's sister and brother-in-law bought everyone in the surgery waiting room pizza the day of surgery.
-My stepmother made 5 giant, frozen dishes of meals like chicken cordon bleu.
-My friend Jen provided an entire meal from spaghetti to dessert including her garden fresh spaghetti sauce.
-My brothers have brought or bought meals for us.
-Our church brought a basket of treats with some healthy stuff. The apples were amazing and it has made some great meals when we don't want to leave Anara's side.
-My mom brought in a huge basket of candy/chocolate to keep the nurses coming into the room ;)
-Joel and Nicole brought hot potato soup (with crunchy bacon) and warm bread for dinner tonight.
*My Stepgrandmother ;) (Angie's mom) sent cash for us to use for whatever we need. So far it has been awesome for parking and food.
*My grandma and grandpa sent money for food for us during our hospital stay.
*My brother-in-law, Nathan, posted about Anara on his blog and asked for prayers.
*Bloggers who I weren't even aware read our blog have commented and encouraged us. Some like Carmie have even wrote about Anara on their blog.
*Churches are praying faithfully and checking in on Anara. Englewood has overwhelmed us with support. My mom's church, friends, and small group have supported and encouraged us from the beginning. One of my mom's friends had her children saving their dimes during Anara's adoption process and it went towards Anara's adoption costs. My grandma's church, Mt. Pleasant, has been praying faithfully since 1st hearing of Anara.
*The missionary in Kyrgyzstan who prayed faithfully and loved Anara 1st has been reading Anara's progress and still praises God for the miracle He is working in her life - we love you Jeannie.
*Anara's MD is very serious about her care and has provided every means of contact so that we can reach him 24 hours a day. This is in addition to the docs who round on her daily.
*The nurses and doctors have been great and they meet our needs immediately.
*Nightlight continues to check in on Anara and follow her progress. The director of Nightlight really worked with us throughout her adoption and even raised money towards our adoption fees.
*Jody is the person God used to bring Anara into our family. Without Jody prompting our adoption at the time she did, we would not have Anara right now. Jody will always be a part of our lives and I am pretty sure that Anara will always be special to Jody.
*People continue to leave encouraging notes on our blog and send us special emails. After I post, I check frequently and am overwhelmed by the number of people interested in Anara's status and progress.
*There is something wonderful at the hospital called the "Cheer Guild" and they have been great in providing activities, decorations, blankets, movies, music and toys to distract and entertain the girls (Anara will appreciate this more in the weeks to come).
*People have been visiting and this helps pass the time and give me a way to use a few words.
*Anara is continuing to do all the things she is expected to do at this point. When we have a little problem, it is solved almost immediately. We are thankful for no infection or complication.
*My brother, Bryan, is staying in the hospital with me tonight since things are a little more stressful with Anara's pain (and for some odd reason he doesn't require sleep).
Notes to people- (this sounds kind of like an award show acceptance speech)
*Monica - I got your missed call in the ICU and I hope to call you back soon. Congrats on your baby boy.
*Laura Scott - thanks so much for you email. I had tears in my eyes.
*Lydia - thanks for your curiosity and support making me a feel a little more normal (I love your emails and comments) although I will probably never be as cute, formal, or on top of things as you ;)
*Jenny and Dave Price - thanks for being willing to do anything and offer any service. Thanks for checking in on us, showing us the ropes, and bringing snacks.
*Kids at Englewood - thanks for the awesomely huge card!
*Shelley VanAntwerp (sorry if I misspelled) thanks for updating the church on Anara's progress.
*Jeni Smith - thanks for the coloring pages, magazines, and crayon roll - Violet loves them and soon Anara will too.
*Mike and Lisa - it was really nice of you stop in during Anara's surgery. I wish I could have talked longer, but it was Barney ;)
*Kendra - thanks for the encouragement and prayers.
*Kerry and Beth - thanks for everything you are doing for us.
*Mom thanks for being so flexible, doing so much, and for putting up with me.
I know I am forgetting so much, but those are the things I can rattle off right now. Thanks again everyone for your prayers and words of encouragement.
Tonight might be a long night trying to keep her comfortable, but that's okay.
I know that lots of people are reading right now and I just want to ask for prayers for a friend. Karis is a little girl that has had a bad seizure disorder since birth. She has been all over the US and they can't seem to figure out what causes her seizures. Her family still has no diagnosis, prognosis, or cure, but tomorrow she is going to surgery for an implant (forget the name maybe VNS) that will hopefully stop her seizures. Karis has been on every medication and they usually work for a while and then gradually her doses have to increase until she maxes out. Please pray for miraculous healing and restoration of her body. Please pray that God sustains Brad and Christy (dad and mom) and they feel His presence and peace.
Right now things are going pretty well - thanks again for your prayers.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Today Nate was playing a CD for her and it came to a song that Violet doesn't like and always asks to skip. Nate said to Anara, "Violet doesn't like this song does she?" and Anara said, "Uh uh" and shook her head. We also got a couple smiles and the tiniest little happy noise when we put in a favorite DVD.
I say "pretty good day" because although Anara is doing great, Violet is struggling again with a hacking cough. She had 3 vials of albuterol today and is still upstairs hacking away. We are praying that she gets better fast so that we don't have two kids requiring around the clock care. We are hoping that Vi sleeps tonight so that Nate and I can get rest too (my mom is at the hospital and there isn't much hope for sleep there).
About catheterizing... Anara doesn't have her native bladder anymore. It was exposed to too much trauma which made it a cancer risk and too tough to work with anyway. They took a piece of Anara's small intestine and her colon to create her reservoir. It is attached to her stomach wall and doesn't hold the normal place of a bladder. It is not even connected to her bottom so there isn't a urethra or a chance of cathing her through anything other than her (something I can't remember the medical name of) appendix.
The amazing thing about her condition is that there is no indication that she wouldn't be able to carry babies. She will have to deliver through C-section with the help of urology (to help understand her anatomy). It is exciting to think that even though her anatomy was changed so dramatically, she can still have babies. Also, before the surgery Anara was considered to have ambiguous genitalia (because of the malformation of genitals and hip displacement). You can take my word that she indeed looks like a little girl now. I can't believe how much they changed the way things look down there. We kept asking her doctor how she would look after the surgery and he kept saying, "She will look good." I wasn't very satisfied with this answer presurgery but he was right, she looks good. We will wait a little longer for them to create a cosmetic belly button, but we aren't in any hurry.
One Violet quote: Today my mom was trying to help Violet finish her dinner. She was taking forever and my mom kept telling her that she couldn't get down until she ate a little more. Vi asked again to get down and my mom said, "When can you get down?" Violet responded, "After my surgery is over." Ha.
Thanks for your encouraging words, support, and prayers.
She won't be able to move with this construct on. As far as I understand she gets to lie flat on her back for 6 weeks. This morning I pushed the pressure sore issue. I guess kids are not as susceptible to them but when we picked her up her back was red. Now we are putting a blanket under one side for two hours and then switching. It is a very small move or transition, but hopefully enough to prevent yucky bed sores.
For the catheter curious, here is what I think will happen. Right now Anara has 4 tubes draining her reservoir (bladder). One of those tubes (Monti for the medical friends) is through her appendix which is now serving as a port from the reservoir through her abdominal wall. After the sutures are healed and things are okay we will start catheterizing Anara through the appendix (wonder what the exact medical term is?). In the meantime, she is a fascinating bundle of wires, tubes, beeps, metal and gauze.
Okay, time to go learn pin-cleaning.
The nurses and doctors have been terrific. Anara has several doctors with three different services (urology, orthopedics, and pain services) checking in on her. Everyone works together to come up with the best solution. We are confident that she is receiving the best care possible.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Here are some pictures from today. Below you can see the large, metal device that they are using to keep her bones in place. She will have this on for 6 weeks. I am kind of hesitant to post this picture because it is a little alarming, but she really is doing great and all these things were necessary to correct her malformation. We are so thankful that she is doing well. I know I keep posting this but thanks to everyone for your prayers. This might seem like a difficult time but we are grateful for it. I keep thinking that if we weren't going through this - if Anara didn't have bladder exstrophy, then we wouldn't even have her. We were not the next family in line at our adoption agency for a baby and the only reason that we got the phone call about her is because of her medical condition. Today I was remembering the phone call from the director at Nightlight. He wanted to know our 1st impression or thoughts about Anara. He said that if we wanted to pass then he would understand. One look at her picture and Nate said, "She looks like an H. When can we go get her?" What an awesome and amazing journey this has been. Praise GOD!
Still happy before surgery
Anara went into surgery yesterday around 8:00am and came out a little after 10:00pm. We got to see her in recovery about 11:30pm and followed her to her room in ICU. Nate spent last night with her in the ICU room. He said that she cried off and on and he spent time at her bedside singing and talking to her.
Her orthopedic surgeon and urologist have both checked in on her and say that she is doing great. She wakes up periodically and cries or says "moey" (more), "aw-doo" (all done) or "otay" (okay). She is currently on Tylenol and morphine and still has an epidural for pain control at the site. She will lose the epidural pain control tomorrow and start with some strong oral/IV pain meds.
I went home and slept last night from about 2:00am to 9:00am and I am feeling great today. We still have two grandmas (and one grandpa) here so they can stay at the hospital if we need them. We were surrounded by family and friends yesterday and that helped immensely to distract us and break up the day. Thank you so much for your prayers, encouragement, and love--we are blessed to have such great family and friends. Thanks to everyone who spent time with us in the hospital yesterday.
We did have one other distraction yesterday. Barney the Dinosaur is making a 20 city tour and picked our hospital for one of his performances. I think maybe the urologist knew Barney would be here yesterday and picked the date so that Violet would have fun. ;) So far Violet has benefited with snacks, McDonalds, chocolate milk, Barney, craft times, gifts and plenty of people to play with. She is definitely getting all the perks.
Our city's mayor introducing Barney
She said she wasn't going to be shy,
but who isn't afraid of a big, purple dinosaur
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thanks for your prayers through surgery. We continue to pray for perfect healing.
The surgery is expected to take probably close to 12 hours, so it's going to be a long day here in the waiting room. Amanda and I have lots of family and friends here throughout the day to keep us company, though. Amanda didn't get any sleep at all last night, so hopefully she'll have some chance to catch up on a few hours of sleep here or there, too. We'll try to keep posting to give updates.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Thanks for you prayers!!!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Anara playing Elmo on the computer
Tomorrow morning we check in to the hospital for Anara's surgery preparations. Her surgery is scheduled for Friday but we aren't sure yet of the time. So far she looks great - no temperature and no diaper rash. Thank you for your prayers.
Just a recap for the new people: Anara was born with her bladder outside her body. Friday a team of 2 urologists and 1 orthopedic surgeon will correct her condition in an 8 - 12 hour surgery. Her hips will be cut to bring her pubic bone together in the front and this will help hold in the newly formed bladder. A bladder will be made (or her existing bladder supplemented) from a part of her small intestine. A cosmetic belly button will be created. More than likely a port will be put in her abdomen that will allow her to be catheterized. Anara will recover for approx. 3 weeks in the hospital and come home in some hardware to keep the bones in the right place (external fixator). This is just a brief overview of what we think will happen. Anara's urologist said that it is difficult to tell what the exact procedure will be until she is in surgery.
The last time we were preparing for this surgery I was distracted by the diaper rash and didn't focus as much on the actual procedure or hospital time. Maybe I knew it wasn't really going to happen. This time I am feeling the reality of the situation. Thankfully I am able to reframe my thinking into prayers and trusting in God. It is reassuring to know that God loves Anara more than we do and He has a perfect plan for her. Join us in prayer that God will be with Anara, be with the physicians, heal her precious little body, and give us all peace during this time. I have also been thinking about Anara's birth mother. We know very little about her, but I wish that I could tell her that Anara is getting help and will be okay. I wonder if she ever thinks about her - I am sure that she does.
We are very thankful for the support, prayers, and encouragement of our family and friends. This adoption experience has been a wonderful manifestation of God's ability to move His people. We are grateful that we get to experience this life surrounded by wonderful people. May we all become more like His Son.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Since I didn't blog "green" yesterday and it is a topic of interest to me, I thought I would contribute to the conversation today.
Although I wouldn't consider myself a radical, I do care about the environment and preserving it by minimizing my impact on our limited resources. Here are some things that we do or try to do with an emphasis on a topic I love, cloth diapering. By the way, we don't do anything phenomenal and I am always looking to surrender more of myself to natural ways and I welcome your ideas.
1. Recycle - we pay monthly for a weekly curbside program. We put all of the acceptable materials in a bin and they collect it. Here are the things I wonder about. What happens when I don't get all the label off a can or all the peanut butter out of a jar? Why do we have to make a special trip for plastics #3-6? I would like to know if our recycle company recycles the inappropriate things people throw in (I might have thrown away a few yogurt containers in the wrong bin).
2. Tox Drops - we have a load of stuff waiting to go to the hazardous waste place. These items are things we inherited when we bought our house or have used ourselves like: paint cans, batteries, florescent bulbs, motor oil, aerosol cans, and insecticide.
3. I have been using more rechargeable batteries.
4. I try to run dishwasher only when full and do large loads of laundry.
5. We drink out of glasses or reusable bottles.
6. We are gradually switching to the lower energy light bulbs (although I am still trying to find ones that don't look so office-ish).
7. Our local power company offers a "green" option and for a few extra pennies on the dollar, you can get your energy from a clean, renewable resource. I just calculated our extra cost. Our budgeted electrical amount is $100.00 and 100% green power would only be an additional $3.12 monthly (I just enrolled - see, even just writing this post is increasing our greenness).
8. We live close to Nate's employer and do business locally. Since we live so close to Nate's job, he has the option to bike to work, and if he can't at least it's only 5 miles of driving. Also, I try and minimize driving by making several errands at once.
9. Unplug cell phone chargers (only 5% of the energy a cell phone charger uses actually goes to charging the phone) and other devices not in use (we are still getting used to this one). Does anyone know if a power strip in an off position still drains power?
10. We joined a CSA this year. We bought a share of organic produce from a local farm. Buying locally grown produce (and buying organic) reinforces good land management, better health, and best overall practice for farming and producing.
11. Composting - we loosely compost. We haven't built any structure yet or even made an effort to turn our debris, but we have been collecting our leftovers in a small corner of the yard to someday make into soil. I am still intrigued by the worm in container compost idea. Does anyone do this?
12. We keep our thermostat a few degrees warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter to use less energy and gas.
13. We use organic cleaning products (Shaklee) that don't add harmful chemicals and contaminants to our water. They are also much better for our children's skin and Violet's asthma. And, maybe the best part, they are surprisingly cheap!!!
14. I really want to say this and thanks to my blog-friend, Alyssa, paving the way, I feel that I can. If it's yellow, let it mellow and if it's brown, flush it down. Your toilet uses a lot of water especially if you flush it every time. I would also like to add that I don't shower everyday, but it isn't as much for water conservation as lack of time (too much information huh?).
15. We try to use native plants that don't require watering and we never water our grass. I am not kidding - this summer our lawn looked like shredded wheat with gigantic cracks in it.
16. Here are some other ideas from Alyssa's Green day blog. Stop using paper towels (use towels or rags that can be washed), reuse your own bags at the grocery store, and do laundry and dishes at non-peak times.
17. Diapers - ah diapers.... This is the one thing that plagues me. I was pretty good about using cloth with Vi until shortly before the adoption stuff started. I am fully aware of the millions of diapers that go to landfills daily and the fact that it takes 500 years for 1 to break down. Even the biodegradable ones won't really biodegrade with no light and oxygen getting to them. I have tried to use cloth with Anara but I haven't found a good way to keep her bladder from becoming irritated (it's so weird we can only use Huggies - not Pampers, not LUVS, not store brand, and not cloth). It kills me to buy disposable diapers especially at the rate she goes through them. This morning I bought some at the grocery without a coupon and they were .28 per diaper. Come on - for 30 cents a diaper, take a break with the diarrhea. I have tried the liners - they really irritate her bladder. I have tried fleece and cotton - both make her bleed. So, until Friday (Lord willing) she is in Huggies.
This morning I did a little math regarding disposable diapers. You can find diaper calculators on the internet, but I wanted to do it myself. Now, my numbers are ridiculously low because diapers are never this cheap at the grocery or a wholesale club even with a coupon. I found the diaper prices online, but they are lower than what we normally pay.
My numbers are based on the cheaper diaper prices, Violet's growth curve, and assuming the child is potty trained by 30 months (2 1/2 y/o). Obviously individual totals will vary based on number of diaper changes per day, size of baby, and brand of diaper used.
Size 1 - 8-12 diapers per day for the 1st 8 weeks of life. (1st number is 8 diaper and the 2nd is for 12 diapers) at $0.16 per diaper
Pampers - $71.68 - $107.52
Store Brand - $67.20 - 89.60
Size 2 - 8-10 diapers per day for 12 weeks at $0.18 per diaper.
Pampers - $120.96 - $151.20
Store Brand - $107.54 - $134.40
Size 3 - 8 diapers per day for 20 weeks at $0.20 per diaper.
Pampers - $224.00
Store Brand - $201.60
Size 4 - 8 diapers per day for 48 weeks at $0.23 per diaper.
Pampers - $618.24
Store Brand - $537.60
Size 5 - 6 diapers per day for 32 weeks at $0.26 per diaper.
Pampers - $349.44
Store Brand - $322.56
Pampers - $1,384.32
Store Brand - $1,236.50
Cloth Diapering Costs - $413.07
And that doesn't include the environmental impact.
Here is my cloth diapering costs breakdown - $250.00 (that's pretty generous price for cloth diapers and covers) and 6,272 diapers at $0.013 detergent per diaper and $0.013 water/gas/electric per diaper. Also, you can reuse the same diapers on each child and you don't have to buy an expensive cloth diapering system (you can get flats and covers for approx. $50.00).
For anyone still reading this post, I want to reiterate that these disposable diaper prices are lower than what we actually pay. This morning I paid almost 30 cents per diaper for size 3's. Most importantly, I didn't write this post to make any disposable diapering folks feel bad but to remind myself why I should recommit to using cloth.
Does anyone have any suggestions, answers to my questions, or thoughts of your own???
Monday, October 15, 2007
a) short nap
Which is a better way clean the house?
a) a little every day
b) one big cleaning day
How often do you change your sheets?
a) twice weekly
c) every other week
How long can you leave a load of laundry in the washer until is stinks?
a) remove it immediately
b) one hour
c) 5 hours
d) 1 day
What is your favorite version of macaroni and cheese?
b) Store brand or generic spirals
c) shells and cheese with squeeze cheese
d) whole wheat pasta with shredded cheese
How early is too early to start listening to Christmas music?
a) any time of the year is okay for Christmas music
b) any time after fall
c) after Thanksgiving
d) not until right before Christmas
How often do you eat fast food?
How many cups of coffee or doses of caffeine daily
d) three or more
Do you have recent prints from your digital camera?
a) yes, I order prints on a regular basis
b) what are prints?
Here are my answers to these questions.
*I am torn about use of downtime. Sometimes I am exhausted and feel like 1/2 hour of closing my eyes is exactly what I need. However, I feel better about myself if I accomplish a house-keeping task. Then, there are those rare days when the house looks somewhat orderly and I can sit and enjoy some quiet reading.
*I definitely think that a few tasks per day is a better way to clean the house, but I am such an extremist that I let everything get nasty and then work really hard one day to get it spotless.
*I love clean sheets and change them at least weekly (I would like to go only 3 or 4 days, but that hasn't happened since we had kids).
*I am pretty sure you can only leave a clean load in the washer for a couple hours until it starts stinking (especially when it is in an already stinky basement). Currently there is a load of rugs in my washer that have been there since Saturday - I will definitely have to run that again.
*My favorite mac and cheese is homemade, baked with wheat macaroni. There isn't always time to make this so we use a variety of boxed versions. If the organic kind is on sale (real cheap) then I buy it, but usually I use store-brand spirals and add about 1 C of extra sharp cheddar.
*Some people listen to Christmas music all year long, but I have to wait until at least after Halloween and Nate doesn't start listening until after Thanksgiving.
*I would like to say that we never eat fast food. For a long time after morning sickness with pregnancy and viewing "Supersize Me", I didn't eat fast food at all. Lately, we have been getting Taco Bell when we are on road trips to the grandparents. Last week the girls and I really needed to get out. I couldn't take them anywhere since we don't want to expose Anara pre-surgery, and I thought a car ride might break up our day. I decided to try and be fun by getting a Happy Meal from McDonald's. Thankfully Violet still cannot identify those golden arches and when I told her we were getting a burger and fries from McDonald's she kept telling me we were going to Old McDonalds. We brought the food home and neither of the girls were interested. Anara wouldn't take a bite of fries or burger and threw a fit when I tried to put a piece in her mouth. Finally I realized, "Why am I trying to force fast food on my kids." We threw the meal away and I hid the trashy toys (provocatively dressed dolls).
*I usually have one cup of coffee in the morning and one cup of tea in the afternoon.
*We have no prints of Anara's life with us. I ordered some of our digital prints of Violet last year, but haven't had any prints made in over a year. When our computer crashed we lost months of pictures. I like the immediacy of digital photography, but what a bummer to lose pictures. Hmm.... as I am writing this I am thinking, "Wait, no one ever makes albums or looks at prints anymore - everyone reads blogs." Maybe it isn't that big of deal to not have prints. This is definitely a cheaper way to capture your children's lives. Wonder how long blogs and access to blogs will be around? Has anyone ever tried to print a blog?
*And now I have a request. I am anticipating a little downtime while Anara is in the hospital. I am looking for some decent fiction to temporarily sweep me away from reality (I am in the middle of enough how to be a good Christian, what's wrong with the church, what's right with the church, how to be a good wife, how to be a good mom, how to make kids sleep, how to make kids eat and how to discipline your kids books). Any suggestions??
Friday, October 12, 2007
One more round of "Down by the Station"
Last refrain, "Cough-it cough-it chuget chuget it off we go"
The actual words, "puff, puff, toot, toot off we go"
A few weeks ago we sent the girls to G-ma's for the weekend (1st time for Anara). Nate and I undertook a slightly overwhelming, home-improvement project. We have a little moisture problem in our basement. It is pretty normal for old houses and so far we have treated it by constantly running a dehumidifier. Vi has asthma and neither of us like the idea of mold, so we thought a little masonry paint to block the moisture might be a good idea. We didn't anticipate how deceptively difficult the job would be. How hard could it be to powerwash a few walls and sloppily slap a couple coats of paint up? PAINFULLY difficult. Friday I started purging the basement of things we don't use or need. Saturday we rearranged the basement to keep the majority of our belongings dry and out of the way and then powerwashed the walls. Sunday we started painting and didn't finish until Monday evening. The painting can best be described as trying to brush sour cream on large slabs of coral reef. The waterproofing paint was so thick that rolling was not an option and brushing was nearly impossible. Our cement walls are pretty holey and lumpy so we were constantly stuffing our brush into the little holes. The basement does look brighter and cleaner, but the disappointing part is that the paint is starting to yellow and chip away from the walls that stay the most damp.
The slow-to-dry cement block walls
Nate getting started
We originally bought 2 cans - we used 10
A couple weekends ago we took a family trip to the zoo. Violet is loving her stuffed Teletubbies right now and really wanted to take Po. She said it was Po's 1st time to go to the zoo and told the other Tubbies that they could go next time. Here is some documentation of Po's 1st zoo experience.
Anara, Daddy, Violet and Po getting a better look at the giraffes
Anara going up the slide
Violet and Po rocking on the playground
Just when you thought it was safe to put the summer clothes away, the 10-day forecast says 78. I was all set to take shorts and sandals upstairs when I decided to check the weather forecast. There are at least 3 days in the upper 70's - when will Fall decide to stay? We did take advantage of the upper 50's yesterday and put on some warm clothes. Here are a couple pictures of Violet enjoying the cool weather.
Only 1 lonely leaf so far
"Mama, fall down here and look at the clouds"
Every once in a while (more frequently as of late) we have a night with very little sleep. Last night Violet woke up several times and Anara at least once. Even when the house was quiet Nate and I were not able to sleep - one of those nights when you can't wait for morning. Needless to say, things started out a little slow today. Nate and I tried to lay in bed until the last possible minute and even right now the three of us girls are still in pajamas (yes at 10:30am).
This morning we made a fort
And lastly, the collection is finally complete......
Earlier this summer the owner of our local antique/junk dealer gave Vi 3 of the 4 Tubbies for free. We were missing Dipsy so like any good mom, I ebayed a used Dipsy. She was perfect and Violet was thrilled. Dipsy is her "Fwavowit".
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
We have mentioned in previous posts that we live in an oppressed neighborhood (ghetto, hood, inner-city - you pick your dysphemism), but we don't talk about the opportunities or trials that come with it. When I truly reflect on our lives here, I can't imagine ever living anywhere else.
Let me start with the blessings and opportunities:
*I am a people person and there are always people around. We live in a 1920's house, and our house and every house on our street has a porch that spans the front of them. Most people spend time on their porch and it's a great way to get to know your neighbors. We can have conversations by yelling up to 3 porches away. Our houses are close together so isolating yourself or your family is impossible. If we are in the backyard and either of our immediate neighbors are in their backyards then you are pretty much together. If you get home from the grocery, you can't make it in the house without saying hi to a couple people. We don't have a garage so we park on the street in front of our house just like everybody else.
*Our neighborhood is very diverse. We have mostly black, Hispanic, and white but there is one lady from Thailand. All the kids play together without concept of color.
*We have lots of opportunities to love our neighbors by serving them. Sometimes we are blessed to care for material and physical needs, sometimes we care for spiritual needs, and most of the times we meet their conversational needs.
*This neighborhood won't allow us to become complacent (at least for long). The poor are all around us. Immediate neighbors struggle to keep lights and gas as well as food on their tables. If you sit on the porch and watch you will say hi to homeless and prostitutes. There is the "can man" who walks our street on Mondays collecting aluminum cans to turn in for cash. Then there are all the kids. Some of the families have food, but it is evident that not all the kids get 3 meals a day. We often have the opportunity to feed (and don't take it as much as we should) neighborhood kids. The public school, a block away, provides breakfast and lunch on school days and many times those are the only weekday meals a couple of our friends eat. For a while I was making an effort to buy "give away" food, but I haven't been so great about it lately.
*The latest blessing and opportunity is the Hispanic family to the north of us. We have been their friends since they moved in last winter. The mom works very hard (father is currently not around) and the kids are amazing. Sometimes we are close to them and share meals and other times they are quiet and elusive. The mom speaks very broken English and I have to decode it (man I wish I spoke Spanish).
*Another blessing is "J". I would guess him in his 50's. He and his wife live two houses to the south. We affectionately call him the "mayor". He takes care of things and always knows what is going on. He and his wife have been married almost 26 years and have 3 kids. He spends his days on his porch surrounded by family (kin) and friends, and his wife works 2 jobs. He greets us when we come outside or arrive home. He comes to our defense if undesired visitors come, keeps an eye out for the neighborhood, and intimidates people if they "holla" at me.
*We have sidewalks that go somewhere. We could walk to a local church, gas station, antique store and even post office or grocery.
*Every week the garbage man honks and waves to Vi and I while we stand at the back door and he empties our dumpster in the alley. When Vi was just a baby we would stand in the backyard and wave, and so now on Thursday when I hear him coming, I open the back door and Vi waves. Last week I forgot to open the door and heard him honk anyway.
*Our housing is more than affordable.
*I have an excuse to bake (for the neighborhood kids of course) and they are never short on compliments.
*Our house is old and has historic charm.
*We are part of something bigger than ourselves and have an opportunity to try and get to know and love people as Christ would.
Here are a few trials and obstacles:
*Developing intimate relationships is slow due to socioeconomic, racial, and language barriers.
*Sometimes scary things happen. Sometimes (not often) we hear gunshots and fighting. Sometimes people deal drugs in front of our home (but not lately after I got a little too brave and said something to scare them away). The upside to these things is that we rely on God for our security and realize that safety is an illusion and we have no control. When we were first married, we lived in an apartment complex in a more "desirable" or "safe" part of the city - one night Nate was robbed there at gunpoint in the parking lot.
*Sometimes it's a little louder than we would like. People love bass and hip hop. However, J loves blues and jazz and those nights are fun.
*Sometimes it's uncomfortable to be approached by strangers, asked for money, or interrupt family time to meet the need of a neighbor. However, these are the times when we have opportunities to be Christ-like and remind ourselves that our lives here are to be offerings poured out.
*Sometimes it would be nice to have new and comfy. A garage would come in handy for cold mornings or times when you don't feel like emptying your car of desirable merchandise. But, my brothers installed a remote starter and our car stays cleaner since we take everything in the house. Even with hardwood floors and a dank basement, our house is a nice and cozy home.
*It can be frustrating to not have a close neighborhood "friend." Since relationships are slow to form and I am human, I am always seeking out someone like me. I have been unsuccessful in manipulating people or God to meet my need for a walkable friend. This has probably been a good thing in making me rely on Him more and get out once in a while.
*Living with rentals on both sides of your house can be anxiety inducing when it comes to new people moving in. What if they are scary, what if they have a dog, what if we don't like them? Just one more reason to pray and trust God.
*Your kids are exposed to things. I am still struggling with whether this is good or bad. Before we had kids, we would get questioned about whether we would raise them here. We are here now and that's all we know. I am not sure the best approach as far as sheltering. I know that it is not my goal to expose our children to difficult things or evil. I will shelter them and protect them. Evil exists everywhere, and hopefully their exposure will be accompanied by explanation and support. Maybe their exposure will help them know the world and rely on Christ. Our prayer is that they walk intimately with Him and trust Him for guidance and conviction of right/wrong good and evil.
As I sit here typing, I am really reminded of how great it is to be positioned here. Sometimes we struggle with being content and looking for the next move, but it is obvious that God has us here for now and it's a relief to be okay with that.
Okay, Violet is awake - so much for my nap ;)
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
*It is impossible to sneak food with a 2 y/o - they can detect treats up to 1/2 hour after the last bite is swallowed. "What's that in your mouth Mama? Is that chocolate? Can I smell your breath?"
*You can never have too many blogs to read.
*If you are going to broom while your kids are awake, you better protect your dirtpile.
*Toddlers never tire of macaroni and cheese.
*It isn't a good idea to walk away from a dishwasher half unloaded - your kids might find things to play with.
*Caillou really is a bad boy.
*If you worship sleep, it will most definitely elude you.
*Our kids have better senses of humor than their parents.
*You can reheat the same cup of coffee 4 times but it might not taste good.
*Babies will never soil an old, soaked diaper - you must put the brand new one on.
*1 yr. molars and 2 yr. molars are named for the amount of time it takes the tooth to surface fully through the gums.
*Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a mother (of a toddler) like the phrase, "Oh no, I have to go potty" when you are at the back of the grocery with a full cart of items.
*If you let your 2 y/o carry the grocery sack with the eggs she might break them, but if you try to juggle the 2 y/o and the sack with the eggs you will definitely break them.
*Sometimes a box of Teddy Grahams isn't worth a grocery store brawl (and sometimes it is).
*Songs sound better when kids don't sing the right words "Uppa Uppa word so high, like a diamond in the sky".
*Sometimes spying on blogs passes for contact with the outside world (and other times it takes a trip to the grocery).
*A toy is only interesting if another child is holding it.
*6:30am feels earlier on a Saturday.
*It is possible to be too preoccupied to remember to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom.
*There are two phrases that don't register in the minds of toddlers, "Mama's making supper" and "Mama's on the phone."
*Farts are funny no matter how old you are.
*God heals owies faster if you use Band-Aids. They also take the pain away immediately.
*Some people play the cloud game and others identify shapes in their turds, but it is equally creative. (One day Violet called me into the bathroom, "Mama, my poop looks like Christmas candy" - she was right, it was shaped just like a candy cane).
*Man do kids need naps - they become different people when sleep deprived. (Sometimes moms need naps too.)
*A 1 y/o can be stubborn enough to hold peas in their mouth for over an hour.
*After all this excitement, life without kids might seem dull.
*Sometimes you have to sacrifice housework for blogging.
Monday, October 08, 2007
This past weekend was our last road trip before Anara's surgery. Friday we tried to do something Fall-ish despite the insane heat. There might have been pumpkins, apples, and piles of straw, but it is difficult to get into the spirit of the season when you are sweaty and dehydrated.
Sunday we continued the tradition of our Fall Family Fun Festival. Since it was 92 degrees outside, we sat near the baby pool instead of the campfire. Nate figured out that if you warmed up by the fire while roasting your hot dog you could overheat enough to pretend it was cool outside when you walked away. The Fall Festival is a celebration of a couple family birthdays and an opportunity to hang out with extended family. It was the first time several members of our extended family got to meet Anara. I forgot about taking pictures until everyone was packing to go (I should have given the camera to Clarissa).
That was our weekend. We arrived home last night to an 81 degree, stinky house and a dead goldfish, but it was still home sweet home.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
10:30 - go to bed
12:00 - Vi is coughing - give breathing treatment
12:30 - back to bed
12:50 - Vi cries and coughs some more
1:00 - 2:30 - Rock, hold, and try to convince Violet to go to sleep
3:30 - 4:00 - Vi coughing again prop her on pillows in bed beside me
4:30 - Anara crying, give bottle, change diaper, and back to bed
5:00 - 6:45 - sleep
This morning I woke up feeling, as expected, like crap. This was the 3rd night of very little sleep. I had a bad attitude and knew that I was in for a long day of cranky, tired, and sick girls with a cranky and tired mom. I made the girls and I eggs for breakfast (Nate left the house around 5:30am). I drank coffee and was still feeling sluggish. I decided to be a real wimp and just catch up on blogs while the girls wrestled over toys in the living room. Violet said, "Mama, are you almost done with blogs?" Whoops - pretty bad when your 2 y/o can call you on your laziness. I decided that the only way I would feel human again was to bathe. Usually when I am home with the girls I take the 2 minute, 3 essential body parts shower. Today I decided that I needed a bath. I filled the tub with water, made the declaration one should never make to a 1 and 2 y/o, "Mommy is going to take a bath, you guys need to behave", and turned on a Baby Einstein DVD. When Nate isn't home I have to leave the door open so that I can continue policing the girls from the bathroom. Again, as expected, the girls immediately start wrestling, screaming, whining, and crying - what a lovely, relaxing bath.
Now I am clean, dressed, and ready to go. I feel much better and I am determined to accomplish something today to redeem myself as wife and mother. I am not looking for sympathy - just giving everyone a glimpse of this morning. Not everyday is like today, but given the sleep deprivation, I am certain that God has given me a special dose of grace and caffeine has given me a little motivation - better take advantage. By the way - the DVD is on its 2nd round, and here I thought "continuous play" mode was only for child abusers. Don't worry, this is the last time, and I am not actually deceived enough to think my children are learning from the Baby Einstein DVD - I just hope it's draining their brains at a slower rate than some other television options.