Thursday, December 24, 2009

Family Christmas Card, written by S

I would like to honor BYU in their bowl win. They have had a good run the last four years although I found myself a bit disappointed in some of the games.They beat Utah and besides putting everyone at work in a bad mood that was great.
I would also like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. We didn't get Christmas cards out like we did last year but just so everyone knows we are doing good. I finished my last class to get my masters in electrical engineering and now I only need to pass a comprehensive masters exam which is set for the last week in February. It is strange to admit that just six months ago I was fantasizing what it would be like to be off of academic probation and worry about being expelled at any moment and now I will be graduating at the end of spring semester provided that I pass this exam.
From a facilities management perspective, we finished painting the front room and the kitchen from the original light blue to a brown, yellow, red and buff. The front entrance is a 16 ft high vaulted ceiling which required a lot of innovation on my part.
A is staying busy with Boo, He is now rolling which is a big development for him. He is 19 months old and he is always happy and smiling. He does laugh at anything Ashley does and very few things that I do. One thing funny about him is when we change his shirt, his hands are hidden from view for an interval of time and once either hand re-appears he always performs a full inspection of both hands checking his palm and back of both hands very carefully presumably to make sure all is still well with them. Also A plays a game where she pretends to be "getting Boo" and he curls up in a ball as a way to hide or protect himself from being "gotten." After watching this for a while, I determined that someone needed to stand up for Boo so I picked him up and started saying "Boo's going to get Mom" and A pretended to hide from Boo and he laughed very hard which was fun to see. It must have been nice to have the tables turned after so long. One other item about him is that if he is watching A unload the dishwasher he will laugh each time a cup is successfully placed in the cupboard but not when bowls or plates are placed. (Hence, the video). We hope to be able to learn why some day.
He is still on oxygen and is now on a constant feeding drip for 20 hrs a day. This has slowed A down a lot such that she must be basically only a few feet away from him at all times so that he doesn't roll too many times and disconnect his feeding tubes. We hope to be done with this constant drip after 4-6 months. We are on a basic quarantine again this winter so Boo doesn't leave the house except for doctor's apppointments. We do look forward to being able to entertain more friends and family after the season.
We did have a christmas miracle where we had an ultrasound performed the first week of December as a pre-surgery effort of Boo's heart in preparation for a pulmonary heart valve replacement surgery that we expected in Jan or Feb. At the appointment our cardiologist and A and I were very suprised to learn that Boo's heart was unchanged from September and that his surgery could be postponed. The cardiologist believes that Boo's lung disease is healing faster then his heart is getting worse to leave it unchanged. This is great news because it buys him more time to grow before this inevitable third open heart surgery. We attribute this as an answer to prayer.

Merry Christmas to you all, and enjoy the video in a post to be posted as soon as we can get it to work, taken just a few days ago.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Boo's Recent Mischief and More

To start off, here are some semi-recent photos of Boo doing his thing. From above left: Boo and one of his favorite toys (the 60cc syringe) in his new stroller; Boo and Dad - can you tell what is missing? (p.s. this picture was taken as we were switching out nasal cannulas, he still does need oxygen 24/7); Boo being happily impatient for Mama to get his breakfast (ie. to put his tray over him so he could play with his toys. This little guy has no concept of hunger!).

Now for some contrasting photos...

1. Boo LOVES frosting! Thanks for buying Walmart cupcakes just for me to play in, Mama!2. That's ENOUGH Mama! No more pictures. In fact, hand over that camera!2. Wild child. Who gave you permission to play Peek-A-Boo in the middle of the night?!1. OK, Dada, give me your glasses and you can play with your Blackberry in peace.2. OK, Dada, now hand over the Blackberry.1. Nursing?????2. Don't be fooled! :)1. Boo worked himself into a corner and then cried because he couldn't get out. (He only knows how to move forward and side to side.)2. After I so graciously removed him from his self-imposed time-out, he proceeded to scooch his little bum to him therapy board and erase it! Someone didn't want to do his assignments!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

It's been two years! And quite frankly, we both agree that it seems like it has actually been soooo much longer. This is not to say anything about the quality of the past two years, but it is to say a TON about the QUANTITY of happenings in the past two years. Our wedding day was so much fun. I love looking back at the pictures. We are obviously so happy to be wed and so in love.

I am happy to report that we are still happy and still in love, although much has changed. We used to lament that we did not marry during the "poor college years," because we imagined those years to be a wonderful time to "live on love" alone and grow close to each other. But, our "gravy days" did not last long. We have been welcomed in to the world of budgets and bills and mortgages and not being like Thomas Jefferson (who, according to John Adams, was never known to have denied himself anything). We love it. Hopefully someday we will be "loaded" (a prerequisite to our purchasing any number of things, according to S), but right now we are content (and when we are not, we remind ourselves that we are!). :)

It doesn't get much better than being married to such a thoughtful, caring, sympathetic, handsome, and humble husband as mine. I love him SOOO much and I am so glad to see him fill his fatherly role in our home. Boo couldn't ask for a better "da-da" (Boo's words!) either. Yay for our marriage! Yay for the temple! Yay for love! Yay for eternal families!

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This is the place...

Where Boo lives. (It has been rearranged/significantly improved, especially considering that we have no changing table. Where Boo sleeps. He has taken to sleeping with some sort of cloth (no favorite blankie at this point) and sucking it with his thumb. This position is taken in his sleep, as well as before his sleep, so it is a sure indication that he is tired. He also manages to scoot himself up to the top of his bed during the night, thus becoming my "Scooty Boo-ty"!Where our rose bushes (aka. eye sores) used to be. They are gone! Yay! (P.S. Thanks S!) :)Where our new couches reside. (Ignore the mess, please). They were used, actually. We are so thrilled with our little purchase. They were a great deal, so there is no buyer's remorse here! Pretty much it is our dream couch. 2 recliners, a hide-a-bed, a little storage place for all of S's pocket items, and it's in good condition. I think we would have picked this color too, although considering the color we are painting our house, it may not have been my number one choice. We will just have to see how it looks. Then if anything goes, it will be the paint because we love our couches!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Boo's 'Cation

I will comment on each of these pictures, starting at the bottom and moving up (just for confusion's sake...)

1. This is me, playing with my choo choo, all ready for my big cation!
2. Typing some emails while sitting in my pack and play in the hotel. This was my first hotel stay. Nothing much to speak of. I didn't even get to touch any surfaces of the hotel!
3. Me and Mom, looking at some cows at a rest area. This was a much needed break, as I was packed in the car tight and Mom was squashed!
4. Driver's seat made changing station. Thanks Dad!
5. Hard turn to the right!
6. A good driver in the making.
7. Final destination: Grammy and Grampy's house! (The grapes were not for me.)
8. Me and Grampy reading my favorite story.
9. Me and Dad kicking back at the Bandshell, listening to a nice concert in the park. By the way, this music was totally tolerable for me, but if my Mom gets out her flute or my Aunt H gets out her violin, watch out!!
10. Me and Aunt H
11. Me playing, my cousin O eating.
12. A crazy species bred only in Sioux City...
13. I really was packed in there like another piece of luggage. Mom and Dad are lucky that I am a good sport! I didn't cry but for about 5 minutes during the whole trip!

It was sure good to see everyone at Grammy and Grampy's house! We had a really fun trip. Thank you Grammy and Grampy for helping us have such a fun time. We love you!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pat-A-Cake

My turn to display a self-incriminating video of myself! :) Yes, I do all sorts of crazy things (voices, dances, jumps, faces, repeated and distorted words...you name it!) to entertain the little guy. We have fun.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Happy Birthday S!

So I guess I didn't post about my Sweetheart's birthday. It was relatively uneventful...I mean, how does a 29-year-old's birthday compete with a 1-year-old's? :) We both packed on the pounds with ice cream cake and chocolate cheesecake bars. (I intended to give S the chocolate chip cheesecake bars to share with his coworkers, but I accidentally doubled the butter, so I had to make TWO pans instead of one. That meant, of course, that we kept one and home for ourselves!) I got him everything he needs to change the oil himself on both cars, assuming that he already had the ramps. Well, now we can't find the ramps, so I guess we will have to buy new ones. :( If anyone has them or knows anything of their whereabouts, if you would be so kind... We also took a little drive on Antelope Island. It is BEAUTIFUL, though it has its own beauty. We saw lots of bison and, of course, an antelope. We are excited to go there again sometime, as it is soooo big and we only had an hour.

We took our first family vacation with Boo this past weekend - Idaho Falls! It was fun to be with family again and it was really fun to take a road trip. Boo is an exceptional car seat baby. He sat in his little seat and talked to himself and made calls on his cell phone and slept the entire time. He didn't cry even once during the trip (3 hours each way), not even when he had a major blowout! Changing him in the front seat of the car was a new experience. :) He enjoyed the family quite a bit, and we were especially glad that he got to meet Great Grandma and Grandpa T, his namesake. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures on the trip. What can I say, I am just not a camera person. It does make for somewhat of a boring post however...sorry.

Speaking of Boo, he has made a TON of progress this past week. The Early Intervention nurse is about to come over and I can't wait for her to see! He started sitting independently, bearing a lot more weight on his legs, grabbing things out of containers (surprisingly difficult for little ones), bending over to reach for things, and I even saw him roll from back to tum once! This is a lot to have accomplished in one week! I am hopeful that things will go smoothly during and after his surgery (June 1st) so that we can get right back on track developmentally. Who knows what will happen, but I am hopeful we will not regress too far for too long.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saturday's Protege Passengers and Mother's Day

Here is a list of Saturday's passengers in our Mazda Protege:1. S - He wasn't sleeping in the car, just in the picture! :) He and Boo were great male cheerleaders for me at the race. Seriously, I got a second wind after I passed them cheering. :)2. A - I raced for a cure (breast cancer) on Saturday! Yeah! It was a 5k and I did it in 33:55, including the time that it took to get to the starting line, since there were so many people and so many people walking. My goal was 35 minutes, so I was really happy about this. I am hoping to do a couple more 5k's and possibly a 10k this summer.3. Boo (in his car seat of course) - We have started to take him to uncrowded public places, especially those that are big and/or not enclosed.

4. Old, broken toilet - S and H replaced our middle bathroom toilet a few weeks ago. Our new toilet is very nice. It got Home Depot's highest ratings. Apparently it is not too difficult to replace a toilet, at least not for these two! We were going to have the plumber come out and fix the problem or replace the toilet if need be, but it ended up that that would cost around 500-600 dollars at the very least! S told me that if I could wait a few days with a broken toilet, I could pick out whatever toilet I wanted and he would replace it. I couldn't resist the offer, so I picked out a somewhat higher end toilet from Home Depot with an elongated bowl (much better, by the way) and it is supposed to be able to flush 30 golf balls in one flush! (Not that we need to test out that feature!) Anyway, all this means is that our old toilet was sitting in the garage for all this time (since the beginning of April) and we have finally gotten rid of it. It fit into the Protege and was taken to the dump.

5. 2 destroyed studded tires - These were also in the Protege at the same time as the toilet. We had tried to put these tires back on for the winter, but the car place said they were worthless. We made it fine through the winter without any semblance of snow tires, so thank goodness for flat driveways! 6. A 10 ft tree - We purchased an Ash Patmore tree after some research. It is a really nice tree, and hopefully it will grow to be about 45 ft tall and 35 ft wide. We stuck it right in the middle of our front yard. We did manage to fit it in the Protege, through the sun roof. We got all kinds of funny looks and pointing fingers as we drove through the city, but we made it home in one piece, and now it is planted. Admitedly, it did look pretty funny and I laughed the whole time we were driving around with it (excluding the time I spend telling S to drive slower so the leaves wouldn't get wind-whipped). I think our transport was successful, but time will tell for sure.

7. 2 bottles of Germ-X - We never leave home without it!

8. A bunch of papers - For some reason, we can never get rid of all the papers that invade every area of our existence.

9. Diaper Bag

10. Water Bottles - I have still not given up on bottled water. You can get after me for not being "green", but I still cannot stand the taste of tap water. One of these days I will actually buy a water filter, but I have to taste that water first too. I still only like Kroger bottled water. I guess I am picky...

11. Stroller - Massive.

12. Infant Front-to-Back Carrier - Which Boo has not yet liked.

13. 5 disposable pillows - From the hospital. They should work nicely for guests, I hope.

14. First Aid Kit

15. 3 Stakes and a bag of rope - For the tree, which we have not ended up using, even though S expended a lot of strength cutting the wood with a saw at Home Depot.

16. 40 pound bag of red mulch - I really wanted the colored kind. It looks pretty bright in front of our house. Hopefully as we get some more things planted out there it will all look nice.

17. 2 oxygen tanks and a portable tank - I am so paranoid about always having enough oxygen with us. We have run out in the car more than once!

18. Feeding pump backpack - This is new, and fairly convenient, although it is much less accurate in volume delivery than when it is on an IV pole, as it is at home.

19. Oximeter - aka. Beeper

20. Chewy Chips Ahoy and grape juice

On a side note, Mother's Day was good for me this year. Looking back, last year I wasn't sure I would have another Mother's Day with little Boo. He was still less than 2 pounds then. I couldn't even imagine having him at home with us! This year was so much better. S said it was "my day", so I did not have to worry about feeding Boo. This is always the big stress in our house, as it involves thawing milk, making sure the pump has enough battery, and carrying the IV pole all around with us, wherever we take Boo in the house (up and down stairs many times, since his room is upstairs, but not any of his fun toys, which are too big for his room). I also got to sleep in.

We went to church all together, but Boo and I left after the sacrament because all I could hear was COUGHING! I am sure that mostly everyone was just clearing their throat, but coughing is not what you want to hear when you have a child who needs desperately to stay healthy. (We just got the bill from our influenza hospital stay which was 6 days long - $19,400!) Really, the money has nothing to do with why he has to stay healthy. If he gets sick, surgery will be pushed back another 4-6 weeks and he could very well need to be hospitalized again. I don't know if I could deal with that. Plus, who wants to be sick?!We also went to Temple Square for Mother's Day to see all the flowers and the temple. Boo doesn't get out much, as I have already mentioned, so this was a fun trip for us. Unfortunately, when we took him out of his stroller in the Visitor's Center, he had VERY poopy pants (boopy bants), so we had to cut our visit just a little short. We walked around once and then we skedaddled. He was a very good sport.

Anyway, today S brought some beautiful roses home for me. That was very sweet. He knows I love flowers, yet he views them as so impractical as they are short-lived. So I am glad to have them. They have completely changed the feel in the kitchen!

I just love being a mother! I am so glad to have Boo and to be able to experience life with him. And I am so grateful for my good mother who raised me and is so kind and loving and caring. And I am glad that my husband has a good mother as well who cares about us very much. Hope everyone else had a good mother's day!

P.S. Boo learned how to give "High 5" on Sunday, so we have been having a lot of fun with this. I think this is the very first thing he has learned to do, in terms of on command and knowing what he is doing. So if anyone ever needs a "High 5", you know where to go!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

ONE YEAR OLD!!!!

Boo is ONE as of May 1st! This is a big milestone for our whole family - one that we hardly foresaw a year ago. Here is a quick run-down of the happenings of this weekend.Opening Presents - Boo had almost zero interest in opening presents. It was really too hard for him. I bought Cars wrapping paper, since he is a "Car Baby" (a story for another day). I took about 45 minutes wrapping everything (I am NO good at this!) and then we peeled it off in about 5 minutes. I now know what it is like to be a parent, with respect to the present wrapping part. Kind of a bummer. As expected, Boo did enjoy the paper. Then we took all his presents out of the packaging and he liked them too. He acquired: baby keys, a baby cell phone, some outfits, a Bumbo (we are almost sitting independently, just not quite...), a baby laptop, and some sanitizing products. He is set to be grown-up, just like his parents! :) Sometimes we still feel like we are pretending to be grown-up.

Balloons bouncing off head - As I was wrapping his birthday presents, I blew up five blue balloons. He doesn't care about them at all. However, I tried handing him a balloon a couple of times. Of course, the balloons are too big for his hands, but they did hit his head, which was really funny. It seemed like they were really heavy and they pushed his head backwards. So cute.Eating Frosting off cupcake - In lieu of buying a big birthday cake (since it is only the three of us and S doesn't like cake and Boo doesn't eat, I thought this wise), I bought six cupcakes. I love cake, so I ate 3. I put one on Boo's tray and he sort of dove right in! I was SHOCKED! He ordinarily will not touch anything resembling food. Anyway, he didn't willingly eat any, but since he is a "Sucky Thumby"...

Bath - We gave him a bath right after the cupcake scenario. It was all really very fun. We didn't care about getting anything messy. In fact, I saved another cupcake to do the whole thing again tomorrow! :) Unfortunately, the frosting was dark blue...probably NOT the best choice for a baby with a heart defect...Turning Blue - We wouldn't have known if he had, because he was significantly blued with frosting! It was great to see food all over him and his high seat and especially on his face. He didn't seem to notice that there was frosting on his fingers when he sucked them, but he didn't care either, so that was encouraging.

Barbecue with family the next day - Boo's first extended family outing was to D and A's house for a barbecue. Since it was nice out, he got to stay outside in his stroller and see everyone, including the kids from a distance! Otherwise, we were going to go somewhere while S visited with the family. It was so nice to be there all together and to see most of S's siblings.

Blessing - Today was Boo's baby blessing at church! I thought this day would never come, especially since his surgery got postponed, thus lengthening the amount of time we have to seclude ourselves. (Surgery for G-tube and Nissen will be June 1st now, so we will have to keep him in until mid-June). S was nervous but he did a great job at his first baby blessing! Yeah, S!! It was a very emotional day. It didn't help that the bishopric changed in the same day. :)Tuxedo - Instead of the traditional baby boy blessing rompers that go over baby's head, we got him a baby tux. (With all his tubeys etc, it is difficult to get things over his head). The tux was SOOOO cute! I had to buy a large (12 month), which I knew would be too big, but how else should I buy clothes for a guy that is 12 months wide and 9 months long? :) It was big, but not too big. It was still somewhat of a pain to get on him, mostly because we were in a hurry and trying to rush him through it.

Blessing Blank - My mom made a blanket for his blessing that she gave to us quite awhile ago (back when we thought we might bless him as a little guy...). Anyway, it is BEAUTIFUL! I got it out yesterday, and in an effort to get him excited, I squealed "It's your BLESSING BLANK!" and I threw it on top of him. He thought this was great fun, so we played the game over and over again yesterday and today. I am sure the humor of it all will wear off soon and I will have to think of some other crazy thing to do to make him laugh, as is usually the case.

Laughing - Speaking of laughing, he just started actually giggling just within the last couple of weeks. We LOVE it! He especially laughs when he gets his neck touched (or scrubbed) softly and today he laughed as I was putting his pants on. Come to find out, he is ticklish on his side. Oh man, it is fun to see him so happy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Current Thoughts without a Current Update

One of my current thoughts is about running. I joined a community education class called "Couch to 5k." Ha! I don't think I have been hanging out on my couch much, but since I started dating S (Feb. 2007), I have hardly run or done any kind of exercise at all. (Nevermind all that has happened since then!) Anyway, S has agreed to watch little Boo while I run 3 times a week and try to find some other kind of non-jolting exercise for 3 other days a week. So far, I have been doing pretty well in the class. In fact, I have already finished the "canned" running program!

I got an email from my teacher today, who said: "You are much more advanced than everyone else." In other words: "You should not have signed up for this class!"? Well, it just so happens that, as a sports-induced asthmatic, I can build up quite a bit of endurance, but I am painfully slow. I used to run for an hour on most days back in 2006, and I would get in about 5 miles, if that gives you any idea how slow I am. As it is, I have gone jogging with a number of people who have claimed to be slow and NONE of them have EVER been slower than me! So that should give you an idea of how "advanced" I am! I do really enjoy running though. Now my teacher is preparing a specific program for me to do "speed work" and the like. I think that will be VERY challenging for me.

On another note, I am currently marvelling at how much faster the songs on Boo's high seat toy go, now that I have changed the batteries. Ha! I have gotten so used to singing along slowly that it is now quite a challenge to keep up with the notes. :) And Boo is very entertained by my singing variations of his name to all of his tunes. I better get my tongue moving faster here!

As to what is REALLY on my mind (Boo's upcoming surgery)...I decline to write about it at the moment. I will update on this sometime soon, either here or on his carepage. Honestly, I have just repeated everything about it to so many different doctors and therapists lately that I just don't feel like typing it all out. Don't worry, it is not too serious, nor is it too soon (May 11, so far). I hope you all are well!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Review of the battles that Boo has won

We have both wanted to give a review of some of the battles Boo has won because it helps us to remember the great things that God has done for us which are inexplicably easily forgotten when Boo faces any ongoing or new hurdles of lesser severity.1. April 30, 2008. A didn’t feel Boo move during the day. It was such a minor thing that we didn’t want to go to the doctor and after praying about it we decided to call the on-call doctor who then directed us to go to the hospital for a checkup. Boo had irregular heart rate decelerations and A was diagnosed with severe preclampsia which is life threatening untreated. University doctors chose to deliver him immediately without waiting the 24-48 hrs to give him steroids/surfactant to be able to lubricate and prepare his lungs for their new role. The surgeon and I gave A a blessing. He was 3 months early and weighed 1 lb 13 oz (810 grams). His heart rate resolved itself once delivered. We felt that God inspired us to get to the hospital and that He was clearly in control of the events.

2. Day 2: Diagnosis of Tetralogy of Fallot, serious heart condition that would eventually require "intervention," (being surgery). The earliest that this intervention could occur was estimated to be at 1400 grams. Everyone’s primary objective and our prayers were to advance him to that target weight and beyond before he had a severe tetralogy of fallot spell.

3. Day 3: Grade 1: Brain Hemorrhage on left side. It was resolved by 30 days. They usually progress to more severe (grade 2 to 4) or can continue as is. Boo's disappeared. Grade 1's are mild.4. By the end of first week, he was transferred to the children's hospital to be able to be near the pediatric cardiologists and the operating room. After two weeks, J, one of our primary nurses, convinces the medical team to not transfer Boo back because she liked him. This allowed him to stay under close supervision of cardiology team, which proved very important.5. First full day at the children's hospital, A requests that V be one of his primary nurses. She is the cardiac specialist NICU nurse. Her last primary has just barely gone home. V's unparalleled experience and knowledge helped to properly diagnose de-saturation as either bronchospasms or basic lung prematurity. Some nurses would believe that he was undergoing a tetralogy of fallot spell but V would do other things first like listen to see if the heart murmur was the same and other techniques. J, another NICU nurse, said when a true tet spell occurs "you never forget it and you are running to the operating room." A misdiagnosis of tet spells could have encouraged the doctors to intervene sooner than was reasonable.6. Bronchospasms. Boo had these often but has since overcome them post the shunt. Something in his lungs would seize up and his oxygen levels would desaturate a lot. He frequently need to “be bagged” where the nurse would manually force oxygen and pressure in to his lungs to make him breathe.7. Subglottal stenosis: Boo is extubated (have the ventilator removed) three times but each time he needs to be reintubated because he cannot keep his blood oxygenated. The ventilator gives Boo lung disease by killing the lung cells charged with the responsibility of blood gas exchange due to the ventilator pressures needed to breathe for him. It is suspected that he has tracheal malacia, meaning that his airwaves collapse onto themselves without the ventilator tube present to keep him open. Study shows his subglottal area of the trachea to be heavily scarred and very sensitive (tracheal stenosis). A week later, when he was finally successfully extubated after his shunt surgery, another bronchoscopy showed the damaged area to be completely healed.8. Shunt: Boo had to gain 600 grams before he would even be considered for a corrective surgery. Week of June 24, Boo reached 1400 grams after two months. He had had no reserve for a few days and was on almost 100% Oxygen. Any movements would cause him to quickly drop oxygen levels. Tuesday morning A and I decide to ask our families to fast for Matthew since he was not doing well. At about 8:30, he experiences a "tet spell"where the pulmonary artery "spasms" and blood to his lungs is restricted severely. V, who has Boo at least once a week, was his nurse on this crucial day. Boo is readied for emergency heart surgery to create a shunt to allow blood to his lung and bypass the restricted pulmonary artery. Pediatric cardiovascular surgeon Dr. K consults with us that this is the only option and it is high risk because Boo is only 1.4 kilos. One item of serious concern is the question of whether Dr. K will perform the surgery with Boo on heart and lung bypass or without. The heart and lung bypass machine has the risk of brain hemorrhages (bleeds). He did decide to put him on heart and lung bypass because his oxygen was so unstable. I gave Boo a blessing with Dr. C and felt impressed to state that he would be fine. I also give A a blessing. We were very fortunate to have Dr. C as our attending physician, who was our attending neonatologist twice: when Boo needed the shunt and when we were discharged which we consider another tender mercy. Sister C stays with us during the surgery and provides the best company we could have asked for. Later we found out that Boo was the smallest infant to go on the heart and lung bypass machine at this children's hospital. At the end of the day, the surgery is deemed successful, as far as Dr. K could tell. After surgery, his oxygen saturations are stable for once! Later we confirm there were no complications from surgery. 9. Boo is finally taken off the ventilator and A can now hold him. His ability to regulate temperature stabilizes and he graduates from his isolette to a crib. 10. Boo is diagnosed with urinary tract infection. Further investigation reveals bilateral urinary reflux. There is risk that he would need some corrective urinary surgery and after six months of taking antibiotics it is resolved.11. Boo is discharged from the NICU Aug. 10. A and I notice that we can speak as loud as we want around Boo and we don’t wake him. The early intervention nurse confirms that he is deaf in his left ear. A later audiologist appointment states that it is possible that his deafness is only fluid build up. He later begins to hear and is woken up by the smallest sounds at night.

12. Boo is also diagnosed with kidney stones due to all of his diuretics/lasix. These have never bothered him and they will likely go away on their own.13. Boo’s cry is very hoarse due to being on the ventilator for 2.5 months. Even after he arrives home in Sept he still has a very soft cry. His cry eventually became a normal baby’s cry.

14. Our first cardiology visit after Boo’s NICU discharge, Dr. G tells us to turn Matthew’s oxygen down to ½ from 1.5 ltr/min. This is bold move since we have needed to keep him here in order to keep his oxygen saturations between 65 and 85%. We turn him down and within an hour he is fine on 1/16 of a liter/min.15. Oct.1, Boo undergoes full open heart surgery for his tetralogy of fallot repair. Shunts are generally good for twice the original size of the infant and now he is 3 times his original shunt weight. He is still small for a tetralogy of fallot repair. My brother, D, and I give Boo a blessing and felt to say that we wouldn’t have complications, something that I would forget but A did not ever forget. The surgery takes one to two hours longer than expected. Dr. H reported that he had never performed such a difficult tetralogy of fallot surgery in his 18 yrs of heart surgeries. Tetralogy of Fallot heart surgeries have been performed since the 1940s. Boo’s right ventricle was so thick that he could not see where to sew to patch the hole between Boo’s right and left pumping chambers. The risk is that the electrical conduction lines, which are nearby, may be severed during the sewing of the patch and require Matthew to have a pacemaker for life. Boo had already been on heart/lung bypass for a long time and every minute was putting him in a worse condition of fluid build up and bodily stress. Dr. H decides to sew the patch blindly and he said he did have to pull harder then usual to do the stitches. Dr. H reports that he accomplished everything he set in to do: take down the shunt, open up the pulmonary artery, and sew the VSD. After surgery, his heart needs to be paced with an external pacemaker. Dr. H said that he saw some evidence of his heart’s electrical recovery while still in the operating room so he says that we will wait two weeks before deciding on a permanent pacemaker and says that he has never had to put a pacemaker into a child after a tetralogy of fallot repair.16. A and I learn there is somewhat of a lifestyle impact with a pacemaker including a list of electrical devices that need to be avoided. For several days, his heart needs an external pacemaker and gets worse in fact where he is “in complete heart block” meaning both ventricles and the atria needs to be paced. Almost all of the medical team believes that Boo will need a pacemaker after the first week, but Dr. H and one random cardiologist that A spoke to once still believe it could come back. On the 11th day after surgery Boo’s heart electrical system begins functioning again.

17. After 3 three weeks, he is able to breathe without the ventilator so the lung disease is no longer getting worse, and he is able to breathe with nasal cannula, oxygen levels similar to pre surgery.18. Post surgery, one of his battles was fluid retention from being on the heart and lung bypass machine. Fluid in the lungs decreases his ability to oxygenate himself. At one point he was on five different diuretics to get him to relieve himself of the fluid, which were the most diuretics that anyone ever knew of any child needing. While in the NICU, he had received several lasix/diuretics in order to keep the fluid out of his lungs so he could maintain his oxygen saturations, which made his kidneys fairly unresponsive to the diuretics. These diuretics had side effects like unbalancing his electrolytes, and his body countered by retaining CO2 to maintain a constant pH. It also pounded his kidneys.19. After surgery they transitioned from feeding him through IV to through an NJ tube that was a constant drip feed that bypassed his stomach. They transitioned him later to an NG tube that delivered food to his stomach but brought with it the gastric reflux (spit up). He also had an oral aversion for quite awhile after surgery. When he was released from the hospital he had to receive his food via NG on a continuous drip. Since A and I had seen him pull out his NG tube during a feed and get milk in his lungs before, this was exhausting to make sure that he didn’t pull out his tube on a 24 hr basis during drip feeds. But gradually he was able to transition to a “bolus” feed where he eats once every three hours and it is not a continuous drip.20. Narcotic withdrawals in NICU and at home characterized by severe agitation, fevers, and sweating. The wean schedule on the narcotic was very slow and we were at the end of the wean by giving him only 0.05 ml of methadone when we accidently put 0.5 ml instead of 0.05 ml of narcotic. We pumped Boo’s stomach through his NG. He was upset the next day but we did not dare give him even a small dose of narcotic out of concern that he already had overdosed.21. Flat Head. His head is misshapen to the point where it is flat on the back and somewhat angled due to the time on his back. We finally decide to seek a medical helmet even though insurance wouldn’t cover it and now his head is shaped perfectly after 2 ½ months.

22. A special RSV prevention injection is given to any infant that was premature at birth, has lung disease or heart disease. Boo qualified with all three. His delicate situation required that we quarantine him from large groups of people (church & Walmart) and visitors that may be sick from November through April which is the end of RSV & rotavirus season.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Getting Stuff Done

Warning: This post is extraordinarly long! I don't know what happened, but just so you know, I did not mean for it to be this way! :)

So basically this picture has nothing to do with the title. I just looked at our blog the other day and realized how sadly pictureless it is! So here is a picture of Boo saying: "Just because you give me a spoon to play with doesn't mean I will eat!" In answer to the big question, no, he is still not eating. It has gotten to the point that our occupational therapist told us to not even try to put anything to his mouth at all until Monday. Wow... Who knew that eating could be such a rough topic?! I guess as long as we are on the topic of eating: Boo has been getting 24 ounces a day of regular breast milk, via the tubey. Due to his inexplicable, yet consistent and excessive weight gain, our pediatrician recommended that we feed him roughly 21 ounces of breast milk per day and 3 ounces of pedialyte! We are doing anything we can to get him to lose weight (or at least to stop gaining), as it seems to be making his breathing worse. He is now back on his original amount of oxygen that he was on when he came home from the hospital in November, which is disappointing. So that makes three of us Steeds who are currently on diets, varying in our levels of commitment thereto.

Now to the title of the post. My life has completely changed! Little Boo now takes 1-2 naps for 3-5 hours per day! WOO HOO!!! (He used to just do twenty minute cat naps and stay up late and wake up early, all of which made for a somewhat less happy me.) One might ask what I do with these extra hours of me-time. I...GET THINGS DONE!! It has been awhile since I have been able to get much done. It was all I could do to make the bed and get dinner on the table, in between all of the things I was doing with or for Boo.

Here are some of the things I have gotten/am getting done.

1. Tonight I pruned the rose bushes. When we were in the process of buying our house, the previous owner mentioned to us that her rose bushes were "the talk of the neighborhood." Personally, I have heard no such talk, but certainly if the neighbors were inclined to talk about these sorts of things, they would not be mentioning OUR rose bushes! Last year we did not get around to pruning or taking care of them and they ran wild. I really wish I had taken a picture, as they were really quite embarassing. At one point, S made a half-baked attempt at pruning them in the fall, but it really was still a mess. Now, they are all at knee-height (just like I learned in my yardwork class). I was glad to have accomplished this at night, when I at least cannot see the spiders. (What I can't see can't hurt me, right?)

2. The other day I organized one of our cupboards (the one that has the cups and bowls and plates in it). I guess S and I have been miscommunicating all this time about this cupboard. Since sometimes he puts the dishes away and sometimes I do, things got disorganized really quickly. After awhile, S started thinking to himself: "I wonder when A is going to organize this cupboard; it looks terrible." I was thinking: "If I thought it would make any difference, I would organize this cupboard. But S puts things in the strangest places, and it would not stay organized long enough for me to justify the effort." Well the other day, S suggested to me that maybe we could organize the cupboard. I told him that I always want to organize the cupboards and I hate having them be so disorganized, but that he puts things in such random places... Anyway, he claimed to have put things in random places because they were so disorganized. And I claimed that things were so disorganized because he put things in random places. It's hard to know which came first, but needless to say, the cupboard nearest the sink is now organized and has remained that way even to this very moment.

3. Yesterday I cleaned the main floor. This did not take me quite as long as I had anticipated. It involved transferring a bunch of stuff (namely, the baby bathtub, the activity gym, and the pack and play) to Boo's room upstairs. He now gets to nap in there. (He took a three hour nap in there today and I shut the door and he slept so well! It was great!) Soon we will move him into it entirely, but we are waiting for Samuel's schoolwork to slow down a little first. Then I vacuumed (while Boo was mad, since it usually calms him). I put away a bunch of papers, organized our little baskets full of stuff, mopped the kitchen floor and cleaned all the surfaces of the kitchen (I usually do a decent job of keeping the kitchen clean. It is one area that really demotivates me if it is dirty). It took all my me-time, but it was worth it for the way Samuel and I have felt in a clean house.

4. I have finally started attacking the office. My goal is to get everything in all the rooms in order so that when my mom comes we will not feel compelled to do that kind of stuff. And we need to be able to fit a couple of beds in them! The office, I am sorry to report, looks even worse than before I started to mess with it. There are just too many papers!! S has put up a fight about getting rid of all his old engineering homework, random mission things and such, which has made my clean up fairly difficult. I have done a fine job of getting rid of his old love letters and the like. :) Certainly I have my own things that are a mess as well, but I am having an easier time parting with them. For now, I believe my only option to be huge containers with labels such as: "S - Engineering; S - Mission; A - College Notebooks (which I cannot seem to part with); A - Mission; etc. I hope that we can fit all this stuff in our crawl space so we don't have to see it ever unless we are looking for it! :)

5. I also got the upstairs bedrooms in working order. As I previously mentioned, Boo will be moving to his room soon, which has many of his things in it already. Our future daughter's room (no, this is not an announcement) looks GREAT! There is no random stuff in there anymore and the bed is made and the curtains are up. Now for the master bedroom (aka the clean clothes room, being where we dump out all our laundry baskets on the bed)... that will not be an easy or a quick one!

6. I have also finished filing all our papers. Well, except for the ones that have come in the mail in the past two weeks. It seems like papers just keep coming and never stop and never get thrown away either. Hopefully at some point here we will stop getting so many bills and statements, etc. All this filing has been driving me nuts! So it has been nice to have it pretty much done.

7. Lastly, yesterday and today I have been raking. Our yard is not that big really (0.19 acres), but for some reason it is completely SMASHED! If anyone has a good explanation as to why our yard is entirely smashed and everyone else's yard in our neighborhood looks normal, I would be happy to know of it. My current strategy is to rake, just like I did last year. It takes forever, but it is a decent workout (moreso last year when I was pregnant) and fun enough. I usually just take Boo for a little walk and he falls asleep, so I park his stroller in our driveway in the shade and I rake. Like I said, I actually kind of enjoy raking, but I just can't imagine why our yard is the only smashed one around!

It seems like there are always plenty of things for me to be doing. I suppose that will always be the case, which is actually a good thing. What would I do during Boo's naptime if nothing needed to get done? (I mean, besides read a book in a warm bubble bath, like I did for awhile this morning... Hmm, can relaxing be considered part of being productive? :) I will say this: it is SOOOO much fun to be a wife and mom and full-time homemaker!!!!!! It is so satisfying to get things done, no matter how big or small the task. Seeing progress is awesome. Being with Boo all day and hearing his little laugh and watching his eyes light up when he smiles and laughing at him when he jumps in his jumperoo (insert photos), and talking to him in a squeaky voice is the best! Having S to talk to every evening is also great. He is a wonderful husband and we always have good, interesting, and often humorous conversation. I wouldn't trade my life for anything!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Boo & the piano & corporate interface & other ensembles of steed life trivia

Boo & piano:
Lately Boo will be busy eating or looking at A or playing with his rattle but when I begin to play the piano he seems fascinated by it and stops everything he is doing and just stares. I have told A several times that I think this is because one doesn't generally see male pianists so when one does it is more of a novelty. A denies with all of her heart that this is true but I still assert that this is the case. Perhaps he will be interested in playing the piano.

Corporate America & Small Business interface:
The month that Boo was born May 2008, we payed our credit card payment 1 week late and we were assessed a $40 fee. I called american express and asked them to rescind but they wouldn't. Then A called and they immediately agreed to remove the charges. That was a big moment for me. It gave me all of the ammunition that I needed to defer all of the bill paying to A because she was better then me. She has appealed several insurance company decisions and won. She has appealed the county's assessment of our house. She goes straight to the top when needed. The tradeoff here is the excessive cell phone minutes from being on hold. She does a good job of sticking to her guns when dealing with retailers. She went to a department store for a return last month and after spending several minutes with the clerk and then the clerk's boss the proper return was settled on after both the clerk and the boss had come up with 5 different refund values ranging from $6 to $114. They really struggled with the math but A helped them through it. Story problems have always been the most difficult for math students.

I will also admit that I do feel like I have a role as the automobile repair interface since A can be misled easily. In fact, while she was at the tire store, she watched a television show on car repair and then she suggested to the repairman that we needed new shocks and he said that we didn't because of the number of miles. There are other examples that I won't go into but basically I feel comfortable as the best automobile repair interface.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

CHD (Congenital Heart Disease/Defect) Awareness

Speaking of heart health...

I must mention CHD awareness week! I suppose it is over now (ended on Valentine's Day), but I must recognize it nonetheless. As many of you know, Boo was born with a congenital heart defect (heart problem from the womb). There are many kinds of defects, some more serious than others. Some children live for a long time without even knowing they have a heart problem. Other children have heart problems so severe that they require surgery almost immediately after birth. Boo was pretty much one of these children. He had his first open heart surgery at 1.5 months and his second at 5 months old. Now his heart is "fully repaired," although he will likely need valve replacements in the future. We are blessed in that Boo's heart defect is reparable, and that it is one of the defects that has been studied and had surgical procedures developed for a long time. Children with other defects are often not so lucky.

Honestly, I do not know very much about the purpose of CHD week, but I have been thinking about it all week and what it means to me. Here are some of the reasons I think it is important to be aware of the occurence of CHD:

1. Kids with CHD can have a variety of special needs, one of which is donated blood. This is something that most of us can do, and it really does save lives. Boo has received about 10 blood transfusions in his life.

2. Also, while Boo's defect has been well researched, there are many others that have not, and there is always more research to be done. So far, there are no known causes or ways to prevent CHD from occuring. We can donate money to help fund such research and to develop new procedures. Websites to visit include: http://www.childrensheartfoundation.org and www.intermountainhealinghearts.org. Were Boo to need his valve replaced right now, he would have to have another open heart surgery and he would have to have it replaced every 5-10 years for the rest of his life. But with the research they are doing now, this procedure could be done in the cath lab (without opening his chest - lower risk), and they are also working on getting valves that last longer. This could make a HUGE difference in our lives! The more surgeries Boo (or any other person, for that matter) has to endure, the worse. The worse on his lungs especially. So this is very important.

3. Finally, one of the most important reasons for all of us to be aware of the occurence of CHD (1 out of 100 babies born has a CHD), is that these families need support. Certainly our family has been blessed with GREAT support from family, friends, and church members. We also joined a support group for families of CHD kids and adults with CHD. Even with this support, it is very difficult to be a "heart mom." There are so many emotions involved and so much to learn. And so much worry and anxiety! And so much joy in the little things, often things you would never notice with any other child. And so many blessings. But yes, it is hard, and you do cry, and you do wonder about the future, and you do hope that you are doing what is best for the child without really knowing what that is, and you do put your child's life in the hands of competent medical professional strangers on numerous occasions and put all your heart and soul into praying that Heavenly Father will somehow take care of your little one when it seems impossible, and you do sit in the surgery waiting room while your child's heart is literally stopped thinking that your own heart might just stop too from all the stress, and you do always have the background stress of making sure your child always stays healthy since the smallest little cold could mean life or death. These are things that "heart moms" go through all the time. And certainly it is not just "heart moms" that need support, it is the whole family.

P.S. I am not currently in desperate need of support or anything. We are doing well and we expect this trend to continue. :) I share this point only to help others understand the stresses that come to families dealing with CHD on occasion (sometimes long occasions, sometimes short). But like I said, right now we are doing fine. (Although that getting-sick-background-stress stuff is VERY true for me! Please kindly keep your distance if there is any chance you may be sick. :)

Ultimately, I would like to say that I am VERY happy to be Boo's Mommy! I love him so much. I wish he did not have to go through so much pain, and I wish that I could experience it for him. I am glad, not that he has been so sick in his life, but that we could experience the great joy that comes as great difficulty and sadness and stress is overcome by miracle after miracle. Boo brings a joy to my life that I do not believe I would know otherwise. CHD is bitter, but life with Boo is so sweet.

So, Happy Valentine's Day and CHD Awareness Week everyone!!!! (Sorry this post is extraordinarly long and personal...)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Experiments

For lack of anything better to say (besides everything on Boo's blog), I am writing about my latest time-consuming activity (I wouldn't call it a talent yet...) - cooking! I believe I have 5 cookbooks total, and I have been cooking a new recipe from one of them almost everyday for the past month! We have been enjoying a family dinner almost everyday (something I have not experienced since high school)! This is a real accomplishment, as I have never been proficient in the kitchen, nor do I have a history of enjoying any kitchen-related activities except licking batter/dough off bowls and spoons. :)

We have found some new family favorite meals, as well as some complete flops. Some of our favorite meals include:
Chicken Cashew Casserole
Zuppa Toscana (from Olive Garden)
Banana Coconut Muffins (I liked these, S did not)
Blond Chili
Meat Loaf with Barbecue Sauce

Some of the flops (most of which came from my American Heart Association cookbook) include:
Greek Lemon and Egg Soup (I couldn't even drink it!)
Artichoke - Tomato Pizza (We REALLY did not like the artichokes!)
Corn Casserole (after buying so much low-sodium stuff, this was a very unwelcome and unhealthy dose of salty yucks. I believe that children would enjoy this meal, however, as it is reminiscent of macaroni and cheese with hamburger helper. Unfortunately, I do not believe my children will ever enjoy it.)
Pepper Steak (I married a man, just like me, who does not prefer peppers)
Blackberry Muffins (They were supposed to be blueberry, but the cans in the store looked the same...this one tasted like medicine)
Caesar Brussel Sprouts (S gagged down a few bites. I liked it at first, but as left overs I gagged too!)
Hot Bacon Cheese Dip (tasted pasty and yucky all around. I can't really describe it, but it was not good and it will never find its way into my slow cooker again!)

I would be happy to share any of these recipes if anyone is interested. As for the American Heart Association cookbook...save your money. Spend it on anything else. Anything. For those like me who are seeking a more heart-healthy diet, buy stuff that is low sodium and low in saturated and trans fat, and just eat what you like. The recipes in the book are GROSS!!! We have yet to try anything from it that we like. They are either flavorless or have really yucky flavor. And they usually require random ingredients that we would never buy. Why do we keep trying it's recipes then? Because I have a system and I just like to follow my system. :) I must have some miniscule glimmer of hope that someday something good may come out of that cookbook. Luckily, many good and great things have come out of the others!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Piano...um...USED Piano :)

I guess the title says it all - we got a new-for-us piano a couple weeks ago. It is a 10-year-old Clavinova. I LOVE messing around with digital pianos. This one does not have a full keyboard (it only has 76 keys), but I love playing it and seeing what kinds of fun tones I can play my favorite songs with. I suppose these are the marks of a truly mediocre pianist. Oh well, I don't care. I love the thing. I am happy that we splurged pre-tax refund. :)

S also loves the piano. I had forgottten what it is like to live with him and a piano in the same house. (We used to have a piano in the house we were renting right after we got married). S's piano playing style reminds me of a cross between radio station remixes and CD collection infomercials.

As a kid, I used to love CD collection infomercials. I would hear one snipet of a song I liked and then I would leave the tv on that channel to see if there were more songs I liked, which there usually were. I never bought any music of course, but for some reason I was happy to be entertained by these infomercials. Well, now I have my own infomercial living in my home. S has between 4 and 6 songs that he has memorized over the years. Every now and again he will pull out a new one that I haven't heard, but for the most part they are all very familiar to me by now. They include: Canon in D, Sonata Pathetique, Jurassic Park, the song that is playing when they say "One Grecian Urn" in some movie, and perhaps one more. S will sit down at the piano and do something like this: He will start with Sonata Pathetique (which I LOVE), and right when I remember how much I love it, it will all of a sudden be Canon in D! And that will suddenly morph into Jurassic Park! He never plays more than 5-10 seconds of any one song without changing to the next. Fortunately, the songs repeat themselves without neglecting any one song or adding any other songs to the list. So I get used to it, right? :)

Also, S rarely plays any song at the composer's tempo - they go much faster. Canon in D is even jazzed up a bit with different rhythms and ornamentation. It is just like when radio stations try to play little bits and pieces of some popular songs all in the same tempo, even when the songs are not meant to be at that tempo, or when they make a hip-hop version of a country song. Really, his style just cracks me up. I am glad that he enjoys playing the piano. And I am glad that he wanted to get this piano for our family as much as I did. If only we could get Boo to take an interest... (he isn't even yet interested in his baby piano). :)


Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Water Heater and other issues of relatively new homeowners

We just purchased a new water heater!!! Actually, we are hoping that our home warranty company just purchased a new water heater for us, but either way, we have a new water heater and it is wonderful! We have put up with unreasonably quick showers for some time now, and I personally am glad to be able to take long hot luxurious baths. :) Strangely enough, that is not the only thing that has changed around here...

When we first moved in last February, the woman who lived here before did not have time to clean, so we were left with the grime. I noticed that both bathtubs were soiled with some kind of brown thick layer of something that was stuck to the sides and bottom. That sounds grosser than it was. So it was basically just some kind of scum layer that looked nasty. Anyway, I was thrilled to discover that it all came off with Magic Eraser! I figured that she just didn't clean very much and since I cleaned it it would be gone forever.

Not so. In less than a few weeks, the yellowish-brown grime was back. I got in the habit of cleaning it out every now and again, but it was definitely an annoyance. Then we began to notice that our bathwater and drinking water was discolored. Makes sense. So we determined that the city water supply must be a yucky color. (This sort of color came out of the faucets in Iowa sometimes when they cleaned out the fire hydrants and such). No big deal, right? We decided to ask one of our neighbors sometime if this was true for them as well. And being the go-getters that we are sometimes, we never asked anyone.

So last week, I had a plumber come out finally, since I cannot STAND to take 2 minute showers and I cannot stand even more to be cold. He came in and basically decided right away that our water heater was not even worth looking at (being 15 years old - water heaters are supposed to have a life of 10-12 years tops). We would need a new one. Hoping that the home warranty plan was not some sort of fraud, I agreed to buy a new one and have him install it right then and there. Don't get me wrong, I didn't do this blindly. He went through and showed me all of the clear problems with our water heater and how a water heater is supposed to work. It was all very informative.

A few days later, I went to make some hot cocoa for myself (something I do relatively often). I put a bunch of water in our hot cocoa maker and turned it on. After awhile, I noticed something different...the water was clear! Every other time I had made hot cocoa, the water looked like some kind of weak tea. Then later I took a bath...CLEAR water! Only then did I remember that the plumber had showed me how rusted out our water heater was, and the fact that we could see a bunch of rust from the outside meant that it was COMPLETELY rusted out on the inside! It is embarassing to report that...we had been drinking RUST!!!!!! I am just glad that Boo doesn't drink water and that I only drink Kroger bottled water (except with my hot cocoa...let's not even go there!).

Take home message: Don't EVER put up with unexplained discolored water, check your water heater for a lack of rust, and if the explanation for your discolored water IS rust, replace it IMMEDIATELY, WITHOUT QUESTION, NO MATTER THE COST!!!!!!!

As for the other household appliances, we have had some other very easy fixes that have improved our lives significantly. For example, after getting to the point of having to dry our clothes 3 times before they were dry, I finally called up Sears for some service. We had a warranty with the washer and dryer, so I figured we would just have someone come out and fix it. I rehearsed all our dryer troubles and asked for advice. He told me to go home and check the vents. Upon doing that, Samuel discovered that our dryer vent to the outside was COMPLETELY clogged! We are lucky there was no damage to the dryer or anything else for that matter. Also, our lint screen was full (which, incidentally, is my favorite part of doing laundry) due to its being in an obscure place. Problem...SOLVED! (Without spending a dime, might I add.)

The dishwasher has also gone berserk on us. It looks like such a fine appliance, but we got to the point a couple months ago of giving up and going back to handwashing, even after using a rinse aid consistently. It was at that point I decided to finally call Maytag. I told the man how disappointed I was in our once-clear-now-frosted glassware, the fact that things simply did not get clean, and in fact that things came out DIRTIER than going in, requiring handwashing eventually anyway! He told me to try washing the glass with white vinegar and seeing if all the frost came off. It did, so he recommended that I use dishwasher magic once or twice and that would probably clear out the buildup of phosphates due to our hard water. Problem...SOLVED! (Again, without spending a dime!...well, ok, maybe a dime or seven dollars...).

We are finally starting to realize that there are some very simple things we can fix in our lives that will make things SO MUCH BETTER for us! (This is true spiritually as well, of course). Even these two small and one big changes in our appliances have made our lives considerably easier and less stressful. Hard to believe that such a small effort could yield such great dividends. So in a broad way, that is my goal this year...to look for the small things I can do that will make a big difference and DO them!