Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in review

January
Painted a chevron accent wall in our attic!

February
I found out Potbelly was opening near my work and I darn near fainted. Also, I think it speaks volumes that this was the most exciting thing that happened to me this month.

March
After two horrendous delayed onset vomiting episodes following the consumption of rice, we found out Elden had food protein-induced endercolitis syndrome, or FPIES, which is a little heard of food allergy. Elden also began sitting up with support.

April 
We survived a work-turned-play trip to Chicago. Barely.

May
We did a LOT to the house in May. We also found out that Elden would almost certainly need to get tubes for the recurrent ear infections he had been suffering since the end of January.

June
Three year wedding anniversary. Elden got tubes. I went on a very last-minute business trip to Germany.

July
First night away from Elden for both of us at the same time. Jam-packed and last-minute half bath DIY remodel in anticipation of Elden's first birthday party. Virginia road trip to visit my second family.

August
Elden turned one!

September

We went apple picking for the first time as a family of three. Elden also began getting his bearings with walking.

October
Easily the most difficult month for us as a family. Unexpectedly got pregnant and shortly thereafter miscarried what would have been our second child. A bright spot was the family pictures that Nikki took of us. I also hit the big quarter of a century milestone.

November
I discussed why I think sharing the bad days of parenthood is important. I also whined about our life and revived my Instagram account.

December
Both my metaphorical heart and Elden's physical health were dealing with their own issues, but on the whole both problems seem to be healing.

In a lot of ways 2013 was good to us and in a lot of other ways it really sucked. Looking forward to 2014 with a hopeful heart. Happy New Year, ya'll.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

everythang

The good news is that Elden's counts improved! The bad news is the white blood cell counts are still quite low. We have to repeat in a week and go from there. So long as they continue to improve (which is what his pediatrician expects to see) we will be good to go. If they level off at a lower number then we will be given a hematology referral to discuss additional testing. Thank you for your prayers and for checking on us!
--

This Christmas was a ton of fun and we had such an amazing time with our families. Definitely a far cry different than last Christmas which Elden cried through. As much as I love the charm of Christmas I am looking forward to taking down the decorations/tree and reclaiming my living room.

--

Life has been treating us well on the whole lately. I am feeling much better about the way our family looks and my heart is definitely healing. Jon has been on break from school (just one more semester, baby!) so that has certainly contributed to the generally laid-back vibe in our house as of late. Work is going well and I am so happy there--I couldn't have asked for a better fit. Even though my body has been freaking out lately (I think the miscarriage really messed with my hormones) and I am bearing the face of a pubescent girl I am feeling more comfortable in my stretchmarky skin than I have since pre-Elden. I guess this is all just to say my heart is full and I am trying to be intentional about paying more attention to the blessings in our lives instead of the voids. My resolutions for 2014 are to always search for the good and abundance and to minimize my time on social media because I attribute most of my healing to focusing on what we have instead of what everyone else has.

--

It could be the fact that he's still on the mend, but homie has been sleeping insane amounts. It appears as though his 16th month of life has also brought the realization that sleeping in is totally rad because we've been seeing him sleep til 8 and even 9 am. This is the biggest miracle of our lives because it never used to matter what time he went to bed (once he went down at 10 pm)... Elden was up and at 'em between 5 and 6 erryday.

Friday, December 27, 2013

elden update

When we went on Tuesday, we got more bad news.

Elden's white blood cell count stayed about the same, but his neutrophil count went down to 500. His platelet count also went down to 117,000 with 150,000 being considered normal. We were unable to see Elden's normal pediatrician because he was out, but he had briefed the pediatrician we ended up seeing. Based on how Elden physically appeared (and was acting), she felt comfortable with us just waiting until Friday (today) to retest but needed to consult with the internal medicine attending at Children's to confirm they also felt like all of this was due to a virus. After a long wait we were given the all-clear to just repeat the labs/appointment on Friday. However, if Elden started experiencing a fever or abnormal bruising or bleeding we needed to go to the ER.

Luckily, none of that was necessary. We've repeated the labs and are waiting on our appointment at 10:40. We are praying Elden's counts have started to increase because he has not been symptomatic of anything since Monday. If they have not started to increase that is an incredibly bad sign and will likely warrant more invasive testing to figure out what's causing these low levels. No one (the doctors or us) expect this to be the case, but it is enough to make my mama heart quite apprehensive. We are appreciative of continued prayers until we get the results later this morning.

Monday, December 23, 2013

illness update

When we first met with the pediatrician, a slight rash had started to appear on Elden's head and torso. As far as I was concerned this was good because it meant Elden's illness was most likely mostly harmless roseola. Upon further examination, his doctor looked concerned and said he needed to step out to look through Elden's chart. I knew that couldn't be good since his chart was in his laptop which was in the room with us. After about 5-10 minutes, he was back in the room and told us not to be alarmed but Elden was presenting some symptoms indicative of Kawasaki disease ("that we had probably never heard of").

I'd like to pause here for comedic relief. I had been texting my friend, Ina, whose mom is a pediatrician, asking her to ask her mom all sorts of questions about whether his fever could be due to random serious diseases about an hour before Elden's appointment. After quelling my numerous concerns, Ina texts me this:
foreshadow alert
Needless to say, when Elden's doc said those words it was pretty hard not to laugh because I had literally just heard about this disease (and when I Googled it that didn't seem like it was what Elden had). I wasn't too worried and his ped ordered a urinalysis and some blood labs to rule it out definitively. The urinalysis was surprisingly simple and involved a strategically placed bag with adhesive but we were referred to Children's for the blood draw since Elden's veins are so tiny (sorry 'bout that, bud, that's all your mama's fault). His doctor said that once he got the results in a few hours he'd call us with the plan of action.

Fast forward to 7 pm. When it was the pediatrician on the phone and not a nurse my heart sank. The good news is that it does not appear to be Kawasaki. The bad news is Elden's white blood cell count is very low and his neutrophils are dangerously low (500-1000 is considered low, he's at 540). When his neutrophils are this low he is susceptible to serious bacterial infections. The doctor said it is likely the result of whatever his body is fighting and he's not gravely concerned but we need to monitor this very closely. As such, we have to head back to Children's at 7 tomorrow for a repeat draw and then follow up with the pediatrician at 9:30. If his neutrophil count goes down again we need to discuss "next steps." If Elden's fever spikes in the middle of the night (it has been hovering around 100-101F) or he seems very sick we are under strict instructions to go to the ER. It's probably nothing but I'm still nervous and I wish he didn't need to get another draw. At the end of the day I'm grateful that he is able to receive such incredible medical care and that his pediatrician is so diligent. If the neutrophil count stays the same/goes up, we can just follow up again after Christmas, and that's what Elden's doctor believes is going to happen. In any event, we still covet your prayers while we ride this storm out.

still feverish

Today is day 6 of an unexplained fever in Elden. We have another pediatrician appointment at 1. There's a chance his doctor will run labs. As you know, the internet is a treacherous place for worrying moms and natch I'm thinking the worst. It is likely just viral (may even be roseola) but I'm really anxious. Would greatly appreciate prayers for peace and also wisdom that his doctor may be able to find the cause promptly if it is serious...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

zoo date

Seeing that Elden is still feverish and we've been cooped inside for days and days, I decided to take advantage of the 60-degree weather and head over to the Akron Zoo. I figured it being the weekend before Christmas (and winter) that it would not be busy so we could get out without posing an infection risk to those around us. I was right as there were about 4 total other people there. This turned out to be a great trip--for the first time since we started going, the otters were out and swimming around the slide that dips through their enclosure! It ended up being just what the doctor ordered and really helped put Elden in a less cranky mood.

Do you spy two little otters in the upper right? This was on the slide.
This guy had quite an interest in Elden
I attempted to get video of the otters swimming around Elden on the slide, but it's pretty awful. Bear with me!:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

16 months

I had been putting off writing this tardy to the party entry in hopes of getting a picture of Elden with our good camera. Unfortunately, life got busy, Elden got sick, and I realized that it wouldn't be until at least his 17th month that I actually got around to taking the photo. Elden has added a few phrases to his vocabulary including bye bye, night night, and (my personal favorite) love you. He also says water, hot, brr (when he's cold... or when it's dark; he hasn't quite figured out they are not one in the same), dark, berries, cup, door, and chair. He adores the tree and garland on the stair railings and says "oooo" every single morning as we bring him down the steps. Elden will go over to where the bananas are, point, and say "nine-uh?" until you give him one. Unfortunately, he's had a 104-degree fever since Wednesday night and has thus been far from himself lately, but I think (hope) we've turning a corner this evening. Elden has been an overall fantastic kiddo lately. He engages you, loves playing games with you (his current favorite is closing the door on you if you are in the kitchen and he's in the dining room), and gives you kisses without even having to ask for them (sometimes). He loves his little recliner that his GG Pat got him for Christmas and having a pillow in his crib but has not yet figured out that the blanket in his crib is meant to stay on him for warmth.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

DIY bottled soda, chocolate bar & gift card teacher gift

As many of you know, Christmas is the time to give daycare teachers a little something extra to thank them for loving on your kiddo so well that year. This year we wanted to do something that was special but also simple. We headed to World Market and got a chocolate bar and special holiday soda for each of Elden's three teachers. Since this only amounted to a few bucks per teacher, we also wanted to throw in a Starbucks gift card for each teacher to treat herself. As for packaging, I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to present it. I did some Pinterest searches and turned up empty-handed. Jon and I decided to get creative to see what worked. I am SO in love with the end product:

Things you'll need to DIY this:
-bottled beverage (you can vary the type depending on the recipient... best friend?: wine. buddy?: beer)
-chocolate bar
-gift card (optional)
-tape (we used scotch)
-yarn
-scissors
-bow (optional)

Step 1: figure out how you want to arrange your gift. I did the center minimalist one in the shot above, Jon did the edgy tilted ones.

Step 2: put a little bit of tape on any of the surfaces that overlap (using the method where you stick the tape to itself to create a loop) and press together.
Step 3: wrap yarn around the stuck together items a few times, cut, tie in a bow.
Step 4: add gift bow to the bottle cap.

We had the yarn, tape, and gift bows already (got these at Walmart for $0.98 for I think 8 of them), so the only expense was that of the gifts themselves. I'm so excited to give them these and I hope they love them.

on defamation and copyright infringement



So things have taken a dramatic turn since my last post. 

At first when I saw Jon’s picture on what was clearly a satiric news article I was amused. I figured the authors didn’t realize it depicted an actual (and pretty private) person. I contacted Nikki, the photographer, and we began attempting to contact the authors to ask them to remove it since they had neither of our permission to use it. Nikki commented on the post on their Facebook page, as did I. Minutes later, both of our comments had been deleted and either they had locked down commenting for the entire page or just for us. Whichever the case, it’s clear that they not only saw our comments but wanted to blatantly ignore them. This is also the case with the post itself--I repeatedly commented on it saying they needed to remove my husband's image/they were infringing on a copyright. Blogger allows you to see where your readers are referred from. One of my referrals was an admin on the comments (they had to approve all comments before they were posted) section of that article. They were clearly reading our requests and continuing to ignore us.

That irritated me. I thus took to Twitter to attempt to contact them, repeatedly tweeting that it was a breach of privacy and a copyright infringement. They continued to ignore me. As comments grew on the story itself, I grew enraged. When I first read the article I knew it was satire; surely everyone else would recognize that as well. Wrong. People began calling Paul Horner, who bore the image of my loving husband and doting father of my son, a pervert, pedophile, etc. This, in my book, is toeing the line of defamation. He will be graduating in May and will likely start looking for a full-time job. If someone he interviews with happens to have read that article, remembered that face, and not realized it was satire, that could hurt his chances of getting a potential offer. Jon was visibly uncomfortable by all of this—as you know, I usually don’t write much about him and when I do he has executive say over whether or not what I wrote is okay to post. Approximately three hours after I first began contacting the authors of that page, they took the image down. It felt like a small victory, albeit a bitter one. All I wanted was for them to recognize that perhaps stealing the image of a man who is real wasn’t the best decision. I would have been completely appeased with a quick, ‘sorry, didn’t realize! Will take it down right now!’ 

As of this morning, the picture has returned to their post—they just photoshopped an actor’s face onto Jon’s. This is still copyright infringement (editing a picture you do not have permission to share is still posting a picture you have no rights to). I am fed up, as is Nikki (who, by the way, has been reporting that organization/person/whoever to their Twitter, Facebook, and web hosting accounts for said copyright infringement). We are going to start exploring what, if any, legal options we have. This is the first time I’ve personally dealt with the shady side of the internet and I certainly hope it’s the last.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

so about paul horner / the satire mega millions winner

A friend emailed me to tell me that she saw a link to this article posted on her friend's Facebook page. This is the image she saw when she opened it:

Yep. That's Jon from one of our maternity pictures. I think it's pretty obvious when you read the article about the creepy, childless, baby clothes-loving Paul Horner that it's satire. Jon is peeved because he doesn't like that the internet knows so much about him as it is and now presumably hundreds of thousands have seen his face. I'm peeved that all the comments on that article don't realize it's satire and have now associated my husband's face with the imaginary [perverted] winner. Nikki and I are trying to get in touch with the article/website writer(s) to take it down. But look at that. I guess this blog reaches a lot more corners than I knew.

Excitement for your hump day.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

the tree

Taking a break from the raw honesty series I seem to have gotten myself into to share something more upbeat. I also dipped a toe in the blogosphere today and didn't have any ugly meltdowns so that's got to be a good sign, right? Healing! Growing!

--

Jon and I took advantage of a night in yesterday to put up the tree. We first planned to do so while Elden was asleep, but then he took an unexpected (and very late) 2-hour nap so he was not ready for bed at his normal time. We decided to give it a shot with him awake and if it was a disaster we'd finish up once he finally went to bed. And guess what? Elden was insanely helpful. He would see which pile of branches we were pulling from and bring them over to us. Once the branches were all up we wrapped the lights while they were off. I wish we would have gotten video of Elden's reaction once I plugged them in. Ear to ear grin. As for the ornaments, 99% of the ones we own are shatterproof so that wasn't a huge concern at all, and just as he had with the branches, Elden would bring us ornament after ornament (often too quickly) to hang. It was a roaring success and this morning when he saw it all lit up he giggled. I am so glad that this is the way things shook out and that we got to include Elden in the festivities.
Sadly, he has been taking all the ornaments off the tree, but we intentionally didn't put very many on. He's also been moving those snowpeople all over the living room, wrestling them, kissing them, etc.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

i never thought i'd be in this far

It's a wonder what 4 days of being unplugged from social media can do to a weathered soul. I feel refreshed and burden-free and this turned out to be everything I never realized I needed so desperately. I'd say my growth from unplugging is around moderate but I'm still not to a place where I trust I'll experience nothing but peace and joy for others when I see the pregnancy posts.  It was to a point where I felt nothing but jealousy towards 90% of the people I knew who were expecting and yes I know how terrible that sounds. I hope to remain unplugged the rest of 2013 but am unsure how strong my resolve is.

In other news, I had my annual OB visit this week and he reassured me that odds are a subsequent pregnancy would be normal. It was good to hear but we all know I'm a pro worrier so when the time comes it will likely be a trying lesson in faith, especially the earliest weeks since I miscarried around 6.5 weeks. At any rate, I am grateful for the kind words and prayers as I continue to deal with my heart issues. I've been keeping up on my instagram with pictures so if you need a daily dose of cute Elden pictures feel free to check over there.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

explore the cave that is my chest

One of my biggest struggles in all of this has been the fear I'm just being dramatic. I'm well aware that I have a penchant for drama so I fluctuate between feeling like what I'm feeling is authentic and questioning whether I'm just fishing for sympathy. This may have been apparent when I kept saying things like "stuff happens" and trying to minimize it when people apologized for our loss. I actually drafted a post last night for today but as of this morning decided not to publish it because I don't feel as strongly today (and I'm embarrassed by some of what I wrote in the thick of my grief and want Jon to read it to tell me how extreme the backlash may be). That's not to say I won't post it eventually, but I'm recognizing that my emotions come in waves with the primary trigger being pregnancy-related posts (announcements, "bumpdates," etc.). That's what evoked my sadness last night. Now that I've had time to rest and reset I'm not nearly as angry/upset. That's how these things go, right? That's why I made the decision to avoid the platforms these things use. Everyone who is pregnant has a right to share whatever they'd like on social media. It's not their fault that those posts cause me to struggle. I will certainly do things differently with regard to what I share here and on Facebook the next time around but that's a personal decision because I now know what it feels like to be on this side of things.

Monday, December 9, 2013

five stages

Upon the discovery that I can use the blogger android app to write and publish blogs without viewing a feed of others, I've decided to bare my heart to the world. Full disclosure is something I've prided myself on so I don't feel right hiding myself during one of my biggest struggles. Truth be told, writing is a form of therapy for me so it is probably ill advised for me to stop.  The content here will likely be depressing for a while and honestly I'd almost prefer you didn't read because I'll be sharing some of my mortifying thoughts that I'm pretty ashamed of. In any case, it's a free world and I'm making my soul open for public consumption so please be gentle with me. My heart is hurting and while I thought I had dealt with everything and closed that chapter I'm realizing that I was really just in the swells of the first stage of grief. The tides have shifted and I think it's fair to say I've moved on from denial and am entrenched in anger. My Facebook page will remain deactivated and I won't be reading my usual rotation of blogs as I cope, but I still check my email on the regular so if you want to talk privately and don't know my phone number feel free to email me. If I know you personally, I ask that you don't bring up any of the upcoming content when we talk as that's just too intimate for me to handle comfortably right now. I know it's counterintuitive that I can write something for the universe to read but can't carry a simple conversation about, but that's just where I am right now. I appreciate your understanding on the matter.

hiatus

After what seriously feels like the three-thousandth pregnancy announcement on a blog or Facebook in less than a month and a half, I have decided to take a hiatus from social media. It is petty and immature but every time I read another's proclamation of joy I grow jealous and sad. For my own mental health, I need to step away. Sure, we were the ones who made the decision not to try for another after the miscarriage, but every time I see these announcements I can't help but think about how I would be nearing my second trimester and how great it would have been to give Elden a sibling so close in age. This is just a dark cloud hanging over my head and I think it's best to unplug and focus on what I do have. So until I work through it things will likely be pretty quiet in these parts.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

nutcracker

On Friday night Jon and I were able to go to a special preview of the Nutcracker by Ohio Dance Theatre. The preview included seeing five variations from the show up close and these dancers did not disappoint!

The event also included wine, hors d'oeuvres and dessert. It was great getting to see the dancers in action but an added date night was certainly a bonus. The only downer was the fact that the weather was horrible and I was convinced we were going to die either on our way to/from the event. In any case, we didn't die and it was totally worth it. Thanks to Jon's parents for watching Elden for us!
hot date
ridiculous cookie
Anyone in the Cleveland area, don't miss the show! You can find more info here, but it will be held at the Stocker Arts Center on the campus of Lorain County Community College on 12/20 & 12/21 @ 7:30 pm and 12/22 @ 2 pm. Support local arts!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

thrifty find

As we prepped Elden's Thanksgiving outfit, we realized we had no nice button down shirts that fit him. I decided to check out the site thredUP after hearing great things about it. It's essentially an online consignment shop that sells like new--their staff inspects items sent in by potential sellers--children's and women's clothing on the cheap. They have 'bargain' brands like Children's Place all the way through 'designer' brands such as Marc Jacobs and Armani. Wouldn't you know, I found the following things for Elden for a grand total of $8.94 (and that included shipping & tax!):
Gymboree
Chaps
The Children's Place
I've also begun perusing their women's section for a Christmas dress for myself and I am so freaking excited to have found this site. If you sign up using this link you can get $10 off you first order! I highly recommend checking it out. This is way better than the thrifting we normally do for Elden because a) I don't have to leave my house and b) all the items are either like new or new with tags (a far cry different than many thrift store finds). Also, if you're interested in selling your like-new stuff, you can send them a bag for free and you will get paid for it! What are you waiting for!?

Disclaimer: if you sign up using that link we both get a $10 credit, but other than that I am in no way compensated for writing this. I'm legitimately excited about this company!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

lean in (?)

We're holding on by the skin of our teeth over here.

Elden continues to wake 2-6 times nightly, often for extended periods of time. We would let him cry it out but he gets himself so worked up that he usually has an asthma attack so we have to go in to give him his inhaler anyway. So, why bother with the unnecessary drama?

All that's left in the wake of Elden-ado is countless cups of coffee, a half dozen donuts, and bags under our eyes darker than the northeast blackout of '03. Suffice to say, we're out of ideas and straight up exhausted. We have a date night planned for Friday but are contemplating calling it in lieu of a hefty round of naps. The jury's still out. So that's why I've been leaning in. Okay. I probably used that really wrong because I have no legitimate concept of what the eff that buzz phrase is. I'm really just saying that with the minimal energy I have you better believe I'm not spending it blogging. I hope to return soon because that would mean we are actually sleeping again but based on the last 3.5 weeks I'm not holding my breath.

Please pray for us. And send caffeine.