Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fair-ly Fun Family

The State Fair in North Carolina is a big deal. People buy their tickets months in advance. Everyone can provide you with a list of their Fair favorite foods. There are more rides than you can count, more food booths than you can ever hit, and farm animals galore. Traffic and parking are a nightmare. Many people take a day off of work to spend the day without the night time crowds (but they miss the nightly fireworks). This year attendance topped 1,000,000 in just 11 days!

The Fair is made for eating anything deep fried that you can think of (in fact the official blog of the NC State Fair is the aptly titled "Deep Fried Blog"). There are articles in the newspaper that chronicle the new foods at the fair each year. Last year's big thing was deep fried Coca Cola and deep fried butter (don't ask, I don't know). The draw this year was the Krispy Kreme burger - a 4,000 calorie double bacon cheeseburger monstrosity with glazed Krispy Kreme donuts taking the place of the bun. We found the booth and I was going to take a picture of one if I saw it, but there were surprisingly few people indulging in this... um... treat?

The Fair is some thing that Nate and I have managed to avoid since moving to North Carolina. Call it Greenbelt Labor Day Festival and Spiedie Fest overload... big crowds just aren't our thing. We avoided the NC State Fair just like I avoided the NY State Fair when I lived in Syracuse! Once we had Luke and Will, we were even less excited about going.

But this year, at Oma's request, we braved the Fair. We had one adult per child, which I understand from other parents is absolutely the ONLY way that a parent stays sane with a child in tow at the Fair. And we live to tell the tale. Thanks to Oma for having a soft spot in her heart for all things remnant of her 4-H days, and for homegrown honey!

Truth be told, our Fair initiation was a lot of fun. The weather behaved. The boys (mostly) behaved. We went during the day when the crowds were less. We went there with no expectations. We left with full bellies. We ate what we wanted and threw calorie consciousness out the window! Between the 5 of us, we consumed a deep fried Snickers, 2 deep fried Oreos, a deep fried Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, one ice cream cone, a turkey leg, an ear of roasted corn, an Italian sausage, a cheesesteak, and a frozen Twinkie dipped in chocolate.

Here are some photos of our day. Luke definitely got the most out of going to the Fair, so there are a lot more photos of him than anyone else! I think next year we'll be going on a LOT more rides... we just have to figure out what rides it is safe to take Will on too!

The best picture of me from the Fair - my hand holding a deep fried Snickers bar. It might not look pretty. But that was a tasty break from my post-Matthew diet.

This was originally Nate's deep fried Oreo until Luke got ahold of it.

Will and Oma dancing to the sounds of the band.

Matt, meet Goat. Goat, meet Matt. Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Luke was fascinated with this turkey. Good thing he doesn't understand too much about Thanksgiving yet, otherwise I think he might have gotten upset about this turkey's future.

Oma, Luke and Will in front of the waterfall.

Luke was a bit tentative on the carousel as it started going around. This was our first ever amusement park ride with the boys.

Tentativity gone. True amazement and glee abound.

Once Nate figured out how to hold onto Will on the carousel horse, he was happier than we could have imagined! Will loves movement, and the carousel was right up his alley.

Immediately after the carousel, Luke got this cool ice cream cone. I think this might be Luke's version of heaven. He was remarkably hyper yet agreeable for the next 30 minutes after consuming this bubble gum flavored extreme cone.

Just you wait, Mommy... next year, it's your worst fear... toddlers on a ferris wheel. Just you wait. (Insert devious fingery baby laugh here)

Luke finished this whole ear of corn on his own as we were leaving the Fair. It looked to me as though all the corn was gone, so I went to throw it away. Luke ran after me with teeth bared. I thought he was mad... but apparently there were 5 kernels of corn still left on the cob. And he had to have them!

Monday, October 25, 2010

It is I, Captain Nilla Wafer... crunch, crunch, crunch

I highly suspect that most of the people who watch the video below will think it is boring. After all, watching a kid crunch on Nilla Wafers is about as exciting as watching someone rock climb.

However, I ask that you watch the video with the following information ahead of time:

  1. Will has really only been tolerating pureed foods and very small bits of mushy food up until this point. He hasn't really had to chew these things.

  2. Prior to Will's adenoidectomy in March, we had stopped giving him pureed foods altogether because he was perpetually so sick that even a watery puree was enough to make him gag.

  3. We have been working really hard to introduce him to new foods and textures since that time. A lot of the time, he gags when he is first introduced, just because the food is foreign to him.

  4. He had never had a Nilla Wafer before this video.

So with all that lead up, check out the video below of Will eating quartered Nilla Wafers. It was an amazing, monumental, totally unexpected surprise when he started crunching away on these cookies! This is really a wonderful breakthrough for Will... thanks Nabisco (:: cheese ::)!

Will continues to get the majority of his nutrition through Pediasure liquid. It has always been our goal with the feeding therapist to get to a point where Will gets most of his nutrition from solid food. This is a small step towards that goal... and although Will may never be able to eat filet mignon, Nilla Wafers sure can make these two parents awfully proud.

Who knew chewing could be so exciting! I love that at the end of the video, Will looks around excitedly for another bite. He used to CRY when we fed him anything solid. Progress!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Growing foodie

Matthew celebrated 6 months of age last week. We're excited to report that he is quickly becoming quite the accomplished foodie. After a long conversation with Talya after my last blog post about Matt not liking rice cereal, we decided to try something more tasty. Luke and Will never seemed to mind rice cereal but Matt was clearly not a fan. Thanks for the advice, Talya!

We started with bananas (he loved them), then moved on to sweet potatoes, applesauce, squash... and the new one this week, green beans (see photo above). He's showing clear preferences of fruits over vegetables, but that isn't surprising considering who his father is! Neither Will nor Luke ever tolerated green veggie baby food, so they turned a slight yellowy hue when they were this age from all the orange vegetables they were eating! Trying to avoid that this time around...

Matt had his 6 month pediatrician appointment as well. He's already 18.5 lbs and 27 inches long - sticking right there on that 75th percentile line. His head, unsurprisingly, is still at the 90th percentile. I take all the blame for that :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Trooper Will!

8:00a - We're here and we're waiting! Will is in a great mood. I think he likes having the undivided attention of two parents, as well as being thrilled because he's finally big enough to wear scrub pants before surgery! No more gowns and uncovered tushes when we're trying to have a serious conversation with anesthesiologists!

12:15p - Will is out of surgery! We haven't gotten a chance to see him yet, but the doctor came out to talk with us. The OR was backed up this morning, so Will didn't actually go into surgery until 10:30a. So his whole procedure was a little more than an hour.

Thankfully they didn't have to do the more advanced procedure, so Will's recovery will be a lot shorter. We've been advised to take it easy with him for the next day or so, but after that, he should be back to himself. No restrictions on hiking in the backpack!

In case you were wondering, the doctor ended up correcting both of Will's testicles. On the left side, he had a rare kind of undescended testicle called an ectopic testicle, and on the right side he had one that was almost ectopic. Apparently this isn't too uncommon with boys with spastic cerebral palsy, as their muscles contract a lot and this keeps the testicles from descending properly. We're happy that they corrected both of them today!

Hopefully this is the last time I have to blog about testicles. I know you all love reading about them so much, and Will is going to be thrilled to learn later in life that so many people got regular updates about the status of his!

4:30p - We're home! Will had a tough time coming out of anesthesia, so we were held in recovery (PACU) for more than 2 hours post-op. But Will eventually came around, drinking some Pediasure, and preferring to be cuddled. He even peed on his hospital bed, which appeared to be the last "test" before the doctors would release him. So now we're settled back in and have to pick up Will's pain meds soon. Will is enjoying some Elmo and love from his brothers and Oma! They told us that he should start feeling back to normal about 24 hours after the operation, which is a true blessing. He has certainly had more than his fair share of pain in his life (we determined today that this was Will's 7th surgery), so it is a comfort to know that he won't be in pain for long.

We had a very cute twin brother moment when Nate, Will and I picked Luke up from day care on our way back from the hospital. We explained to Luke that Will went to the doctor today and that he wasn't feeling very good. When Luke climbed up in the van, he sat next to Will instead of climbing into his own car seat. He told me that he wanted to sit next to Will (he never says things like this) so that Will would feel better. Once we got home, Luke doted kisses on his twin to make him feel better. Kisses make everything feel better, after all.

Thanks for all the calls and well-wishes today! Just because we're old seasoned pros when it comes to kids in the hospital and surgery certainly doesn't mean it gets any easier. The love and support was a great help and relief to both of us today.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Big day

Will's surgery is scheduled for first thing Friday morning. This date has kind of snuck up on us and we're scrambling to make sure we've got all our ducks in a row. It has really been a help to have Oma here to make up for where we lack!

We're definitely hoping for a quick, minimal surgery. Apparently, this kind of teste reconnaissance surgery can either be pretty straight forward or very tricky. The current plan is to go in through the inguinal canal and retrieve Will's hidden buddy. If it comes down easily, then the surgery will be pretty quick and recovery will be relatively easy. He'd be home tomorrow afternoon.

But if that little sucker has decided that he likes it better somewhere up higher in Will's abdominal cavity, then the surgeon will have no choice but to do an abdominal incision and retrieve the testicle from the front. I equate this kind of surgery to a male c-section, and will be a longer surgery and a more difficult recovery. If they have to do this surgery, then Will will have to spend the night at the hospital. They won't know until they start the surgery which way they'll have to go.

Think good thoughts for Will and his surgeon! Nate and I will be spending the waiting time at a place we know so well... the UNC cafeteria. Give either one of us a call if you want an update during the day, otherwise I'll plan to post an update sometime tomorrow night.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pumpkin patch (second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder...)

Last weekend we went to Hill Ridge Farm for some October pumpkin patch fun with a bunch of friends and Oma (who is graciously here for 2 weeks to help as Will tracks out and Nate studies feverishly for the professional engineering exam). It was a bit warm out (where is autumn???) so Will had a tough time, though we did our best to keep him cool and entertained. There were certainly more people there on the weekend than were there during the week when we went with Will's class!! Matt slept almost the whole time, so the photos we took are definitely Luke-centric. Thats ok, Luke hasn't had his own blog post in a while...

Luke and Oma feed some seriously over-fed goats and sheep.

Luke and Tyler scoping out chicks in the hay jump... they start so young these days.

The literal response to "Luke, show me your pumpkin!" I guess 3 year olds don't understand enough about unspoken language to know that those words actually mean "Luke, smile, show me your face, and hold your pumpkin at an appropriate height so that I can get a photo of both!"

Perhaps Luke's favorite part of the whole afternoon... washing his hands outside of the bathroom and getting to play with the extremely fast hand dryer!

Luke's class heads to the pumpkin patch (a different one) just a couple days before Halloween. Definitely stop by our house on Halloween... we're gonna have like 15 jack-0-lanterns after all these trips to the pumpkin patch! Maybe I should learn to make completely-from-scratch pumpkin pie instead?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


When it comes to photos, lighting can make all the difference. We took a hike this past weekend in a section of Umstead State Park where we haven't hiked before. The lighting was absolutely astonishing through the tree canopy, and we got some awesome photos of the boys. We also tired them out to a point that they slept amazingly through the night... but that's another story! We're super proud of Luke, who hiked the entire 2 miles down to the stream and back up again (with only moderate dragging from me and Nate). Not quite sure why Matt and Will were so tired, they got carried the whole way!

It seemed like everyone that we passed on the trail remarked on how many kids were in our party - some in amazement, some in encouragement... one guy even said something like "wow, you're really bogged down with kids, huh?" I guess some people think we're crazy. But we really enjoy getting out of the house, finding cool new places to go, and making some unique memories with the boys. Sure it takes us longer to move along the trail (we never claimed we were good hikers), but who really cares? I'd rather be heavier than lighter along this journey, anyway.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Look. At. Me.

Matthew like attention. Sometimes its a little tough to secure the gazes of your parents when you have two brothers and a dog running around, and you haven't learned how to talk yet. Check out the video for his most recent attempts at garnering the attention that he knows he deserves!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Half caf DC road trip

A little more than a week ago, Matt and I ventured up to DC to surprise my dad for his retirement from the federal government. What a surprise it was... and what a great day to be a part of! Congrats, Dad, on 32 years of service - you deserve a break! Thanks to Uncle Drew for helping to stash us, my dad's employees for making the day so memorable, and Nana Jean and Grandmama for all the fun and laughs!

Proud Grandpa showing off his newest grandson at his retirement party... all I could think of was that they had matching bald spots... hahaha, he's probably not going to like that I just wrote that on the internet!

Congrats Grandpa! My big brothers wish that they could have been here too, but it is the last day of school for the track and they didn't want to miss it! Plus, I want some one on one time with you!

Nana (great-grandmother) Jean snuggling with Matthew. So cute.

The proud family... now for more adventures to come!

Dinner at Skipper's Pier with Grandmama, Nana Jean and Matthew... perfect sunset ending to a great day (and a too-short trip!).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The coastest with the mostest

We took a quick weekend trip to Hatteras two weeks ago... partly because we've only seen the ocean one other time this year, partly because it was our 7th wedding anniversary, and mostly because we haven't seen Gail in a long time!

The weather didn't entirely cooperate (6 inches of rain in one day!) but we managed to squeeze in some time at the beach (the surf was a little rough because of Hurricane Igor), some smooth water time on Pamlico Sound, and some time at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. A good time was had by all... until we had to drive home 4 hours in the pounding rain. Thankfully we made it ok!

Some photos...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Little heartbreak

We always knew the day would come when Luke would have questions about Will. I don’t think that Nate and I were ready for it this quickly, though.

Luke has really made remarkable strides over the past several months with his language comprehension and usage. He is now able to carry on a simple conversation with adults, wherein he asks and answers meaningful questions with only a little prompting.

He does very well with interacting with other kids in his class, too, which is a huge step. During his first year or so of day care, he played a lot by himself. He is now engaging in conversations and pretend play with other kids his age, and is actually starting to try to engage with Will.

The other day, while Matt and I were in DC for Grandpa’s retirement, Luke, Will and Nate were hanging out at home. Will was playing with a toy, and Luke approached him. He asked Will how his day was going. Will didn’t respond. Luke tried to ask a couple other questions before walking away, looking rejected.

“Daddy, Will doesn’t answer me when I talk to him.”

Nate got choked up. My heart broke a little when Nate relayed the story to me. Even now as I am writing this, my eyes well up.

Nate handled himself remarkably well. He told Luke that Will just isn’t able to talk yet, but that he really likes hearing Luke’s voice and hearing all about Luke’s day. Luke seemed to be comforted by this answer, and we’re encouraging him to continue to talk to Will. We’re also working with Will to get him used to Luke asking him questions, so that when Luke asks if Will wants a new toy, Will can click for yes. We think that this level of communication will be good for both of them.

I suppose that events like this will become more common as all the boys continue on their own paths of development. My hope is that Nate and I continue to find the answers that make sense, and continue to encourage all of our sons in their various life endeavors. I am confident that learning compassion, understanding, and perseverance at such an early age will have a remarkable effect on Luke. He’s a great big brother.