Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our Boy is Home

What a huge relief to be home from the hospital! We were supposed to be discharged in the "early afternoon", which in hospital-speak actually means 6:00pm. Traffic from the holiday weekend was horrible, so the home care nurse who was bringing our supplies to the hospital and teaching me how to do the new stuff said it took her 2 hours to get to Emanuel from Beaverton. Ugh! Then they had forgotten some key supplies {hello, the pump for James' TPN!} so we had to wait another hour for someone else to bring them. Annoyances aside, we made it home and James was one happy camper! I was worried that being in the hospital so long would throw off his sleeping schedule at home, but apparently he's just as exhausted as the rest of us...I put him down at 8:30 last night and it's now almost 11:00am and he's STILL SLEEPING! Poor little guy.

While the surgery allowed us to get rid of some medical stuff {no more nose tube or ostomy}, it produced new tasks for us to do every day. He's still on an IV antibiotic every 6 hours around the clock until next week. He's now on TPN {IV nutrition} for 24 hours a day instead of 20, since he's not yet able to tolerate formula. He's putting out a lot of fluid from his stomach into his G-tube, so we have to measure and record that, add it up over 12 hour periods, and then give him doses of IV replacement fluids twice a day for 4 hours at a time. This wouldn't be so bad if we could do it like they do in the hospital...just hang an IV bag and let it drip...but since the volume we need to give him every 12 hours fluctuates, we can't use a normal pump. We have to calculate the volume he needs, use a syringe and needle to draw the fluid up from IV bags, and then change it out *every hour* in the pump...from 5am to 9am and again 5pm to 9pm. TOTAL PAIN IN THE REAR if you ask me! But you know what, we're doing it AT HOME! I'll take the inconveniences over being stuck in a hospital room any day!! Our docs said if this was any other family there's no way they'd send us home with all this to do, but we are a persistent bunch and have proved ourselves capable! :-)

As I laid in bed last night, my brain would just not shut off, swirling around all the new tasks and schedule and not wanting to miss anything. So I typed up a schedule. I've included it here so that one day I can look back and remember what these crazy days were like...

James’ Medical Schedule

5:00 am tasks

  • diaper change & temperature

  • measure G-tube output
  • add up 5:00pm to 5:00am total volume
  • determine 4+ hour amounts for IV replacement fluids
  • prep 4 syringes with fluids/red caps/prime tubing
  • record on chart
  • start 1st syringe in IV pump

  • give antibiotic: 5 ml saline flush, push antibiotic for 5 minutes, 5 ml saline flush

6:00 am

7:00 am

8:00 am

start new IV syringe in pump every hour

11:00 am task

  • give antibiotic: 5 ml saline flush, push antibiotic for 5 minutes, 5 ml saline flush
  • give Actigall meds

3:00 pm task

  • set out TPN and supplies

4:00 pm task

  • prep TPN

5:00 pm task

  • start TPN
  • give antibiotic: 5 ml saline flush, push antibiotic for 5 minutes, 5 ml saline flush
  • give Actigall meds

  • measure G-tube output
  • add up 5:00am to 5:00pm total volume
  • determine 4+ hour amounts for IV replacement fluids
  • prep 4 syringes with fluids/red caps/prime tubing
  • record on chart
  • start 1st syringe in IV pump

6:00 pm

7:00 pm

8:00 pm

start new IV syringe in pump every hour

11:00 pm tasks

  • give antibiotic: 5 ml saline flush, push antibiotic for 5 minutes, 5 ml saline flush

{Check out my new tummy! Those scars are healing nicely. Wondering what that thing is on the right side? Our surgeon's high-tech device for keeping the stomach tube from bending/pulling out...a bottle nipple! The tube is about 1 foot long coming out of that, with a "urine sample" cup on the end, then a diaper wrapped around it to catch the leaks. Glad this set-up is only for 6-8 weeks, when they'll switch it out for a flat little button on his tummy!}

All the nurses who cared for James commented on what an adorable, happy little guy he is and we couldn't agree more! We love you, buddy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Coming Home & Mommy-Daughter Date

Finally some good news...James gets to come home tomorrow! Keith put the docs in a headlock today until they cried Uncle and gave in. :-)

It's now been almost 10 days since surgery and his bowels are still not really "awake". This is on the longer side of the recovery timeline, but they aren't overly concerned about it yet. Since things aren't moving through much, he's still not getting any formula--just the nutrition thru his IV line. {The reason he was throwing up so much was because a huge volume of fluid/formula was just sitting stagnant in his stomach, making him nauseated.} He'll come home with extra IV fluids that we'll have to hook up for 4 hour periods, depending on the volume of output from his stomach tube. Even though he's not getting food directly into his stomach, he's been producing a large amount of fluid/mucous/bile from his stomach tube, so that is something we'll have to track to make sure he's not getting dehydrated. Eventually once his system calms down and things seem to be moving all the way through the intestines, we'll probably be able to start formula on a very slow drip. He hasn't had any fevers over the past few days, so he may or may not come home with IV antibiotics. His incisions are looking great and are already healing up very nicely. I made sure to take pictures of his tummy before surgery, so once he heals more I'll post the before/after pics!

I know we have a lot of "medical tinkering" ahead of us, but for now we're just so excited to get him home and to get re-settled into a somewhat normal routine around here.


In more "normal life" news, Keith took the hospital day shift today, so I got to take Madeline on a special girls date to OMSI. The sand pit! Playdough! Dinosaurs! Puppet shows! The water toys! Face painting! By the end of the day she was a big, tired mess...mission accomplished! :-)

{These were really cool magnetic blocks called Magna Tiles. All sides are magnetic, so you could build really cool stuff. I bet Keith would have just as much fun with these as Maddie!}

{Hopefully this photo sums up Maddie's feelings about our date!}

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Update

I was with James all day and he was better than yesterday. He had periods of smiling and laughing and playing with his toys in between taking a few naps. He only threw up one time {on my shirt, darn!}, just after they gave him some medicine, so it was probably too much-too fast for his system. They increased his stomach tube feedings to 2 mL/hour and hopefully tomorrow he'll go up to 3/hr, which is what he was up to before the surgery. He's been mostly happy, except when he has to be changed. Kids with short gut syndrome often have really horrible diaper rash, since the output is very diarrhea-like and acidic, it really eats away at their poor baby skin. He hasn't had a fever since last night, so the docs said that once he's fever-free for 24-48 hours he can go possibly tomorrow or Wednesday! We had two nights by ourselves in the room, but today we got another roommate...a 3-year old girl with cerebral palsey and seizures who'd just had her tonsils out. Very painful and confusing for her. Please pray for everyone's comfort and sleep tonight! Keith said last night he only got about 2 hours of rest {and that was when it was just him and James!}. Keith heads back to work tomorrow and Darlene is fighting a cold, so it's a good thing we'll only have another day or two of this hospital schedule!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday: James Update

Today IS Sunday, right?? The days have just blended into one another around here, so I'm never quite sure...I think I lost Friday altogether. :-) Keith, Darlene and I have been taking turns staying at the hospital, which usually means that one person will get there in the morning to relieve the night-shift (like I got there at 9:30am today and stayed until 6:30pm) and then someone will come at dinner time to relieve the day-shift (when you're in the room with James, pretty much the only break you get is the 5 minutes every 4 hours when the nurses come in to take his then you can go to the bathroom! Yay!) and then stay all night. You'd think that just sitting in a chair and holding a baby for 9 hours wouldn't be that bad, but it's exhausting! You know, like when you've been traveling all day and you can't figure out why you're so tired. And then add a fussy baby and lots of alarms into the mix and you can imagine the fun!

James has been doing pretty well, but he's still far from his happy-go-lucky little self. The past few days he's been throwing up pretty often, which is scary because it makes his heart rate spike from the normal range in the 150-160's to 190-200's and all the alarms go off like crazy. The gagging/dry heaving is actually good when his heart rate spikes, because that sends a message to the brain to reset and calm down. I remember in the NICU we had a big scare the night before we discovered his NEC infection when his heart rate suddenly spiked to over 300 and they had to do a procedure to gag him, which brought his rate back down. Super scary! He gets very upset whenever you move him to a new position or to/from the crib {he just wants to be held all the time and I don't blame him}. One good thing from today: I got to enjoy snuggling my little boy while watching a 2-hour marathon of Barefoot Contessa shows on Food Network! That would never happen at home! :-)

James has been running a fever off and on and the lab found some Ecoli bacteria in his urine sample {not a dangerous level}, so he's being treated with strong antibiotics to combat any infection that might be going on. He's been getting a very slow drip of 1 mL per hour of formula into his stomach tube {just mere drops}, but he hasn't been tolerating that very well. Yesterday he was spitting up pretty much everything and the docs were starting and stopping the feeds throughout the day. His last spit up was around 8:00 am this morning, so he's had some success today keeping things down. His belly is tight and a bit distended and they're not hearing many bowel sounds, which means things aren't moving as well as they'd like yet. We'd originally been told that he could come home on Monday {tomorrow}, but now they want to keep him a few more days to get over the fever, get feeds more regulated, hear more bowel sounds, and have his BM's be more consistent. Right now it mostly looks like he's just getting out stomach bile. {Hey, I don't usually write about poo on my blog, but this is the kid's first poo of his whole life, so it's a big deal around here!} :-)

We'd appreciate prayer for all those factors so that he can start getting back to "normal" and so that we can bring him home in as healthy a state as possible. Also, we thank you for your prayers for Keith and me! It takes a lot of energy to care for a sick baby and then when we get home it's hard to find the energy & patience just to do the everyday household stuff. I'd also like prayer for my back. I've had sciatica-type pains ever since I was pregnant with Maddie, which flare up about once a month but are taken care of with ibuprophen, a heating pad and taking it easy for a day or so. Two weeks ago an episode of it was so bad that I could barely walk or bend over for 3-4 days. Then this week the pain started to be constant, plus shooting pains down the back of my leg and numbness in my foot {not a good sign, in my mind!}. So I went to the doctor and had some X-rays taken and now I'm waiting for results. It could be a pinched nerve, a slipped disc, or something else. I'll be doing a few sessions of physical therapy to help manage the pain and decrease the episodes, but if it gets to the point where I have any muscle weakness in my leg or foot, I'll need an immediate MRI to check for nerve damage. Let me tell you, I now have new empathy for anyone with chronic back issues! It takes a real toll on daily life! {Sleeping on a hospital cot [aka: pile of metal springs covered by a thin layer of plastic!] is not exactly the best remedy, so it's a good thing we're taking turns.} I'd love to figure out how to fix this so I can feel 100% again. Anyway, enough whining by me! Let's focus on getting our little sweetie pie healthy and home again! Thank you to everyone who is supporting us--we feel your prayers!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday: James Update

Hi Everybody,

Thank you sooo much for your prayers! We've definitely needed them over the last few anxiety-filled days with James. They took him into surgery on Tuesday at 10:00am, they were done around 2:00pm and then we had to wait until 4:00pm while they put in an epidural for pain management, a urine catheter, and monitored him in the recovery room. I think I was actually more anxious during the wait from 2-4pm, just wanting to see him! The day seemed to take forever. My mom, our friend Bonnie and our friends Jason & Cheryl held vigil with us in the waiting room for most of the time, so it was nice to have physical support during that time! We are holding up pretty well emotionally, now that the dreaded surgery is over. Now we're just taking it day by day, trying to get through this hospital stay and get our little guy back home.

Our surgeon was very happy with how James did during the surgery, but once we got back to our room, he started having some reaction to the anesthesia and began foaming at the mouth / vomiting a bit. This is upsetting for most kids, but especially for him since he's never spit up anything in his life {nothing stays in his stomach long enough}. He calmed down after awhile and slept for most of the afternoon until about 10pm, when I had to convince the nurses to up his epidural because he was jerking his arms and legs around and causing himself pain. He literally has about 10 tubes coming out of him: nose tube that fills one whole nostril {for draining the blood, etc. in his stomach, since his bowels are still asleep}, central IV line for his TPN, urine catheter, monitors for his heart rate / oxygen / respiration, G-tube directly into his stomach. He has these long cuffs around each arm so that they are somewhat immobilized {to keep him from pulling out his tubes}, which he's of course already found a way around. That's my stinker boy! :-) His pain seems to be pretty well controlled, but it's hard to tell why he's fussy sometimes...pain, hunger {he hasn't had anything to directly eat/drink since midnight on Monday}, discomfort from being immobilized in his bed, frustrated about why we aren't picking him up and holding him, not being able to get restful sleep, etc. I'm actually anticipating that each day will get a little bit worse, since he'll become more alert and aware of what's going on.

We saw Dr. Moyer, James' GI doctor, and she gave us some hope in terms of James coming off TPN one day. She said she's had kids that only have 15 cm of short bowel {James now has 35cm} go on to regulate themselves and be able to come off TPN within a year or there's hope! She was glad there wasn't any damage to the valve between the short/large intestines, since the health of that valve and the length of the short intestine are big indicators of future success in terms of nutrition, absorbtion, etc. Not to say that James might not need a bowel transplant in the future {Seattle would be the closest place}, but that would be years down the line, most likely. And with the power of prayer, there's no telling what wonderful things could happen! One of our home nurses told us about a 2 year old boy who's been on TPN since birth and was on a double-transplant list, in need of new bowels and a new liver. But suddenly his labs improved drastically and now he's been taken off both lists and is doing great! Those are the stories we like to hear! :-)

On Monday night we unfortunately got a roommate. The rooms are pretty small, so in order to fit two fold-out cots in the room for the parents to sleep on you have to shove everything else up against the walls and then the two cots are in the middle, touching with just a curtain in between. A lovely arrangement! Luckily, the family was very nice and their 3-week old baby girl was very well behaved, but each night our two babies have taken turns crying and having alarms going off and the mother of the baby snores like a trucker {she later told me she has sleep apnea}, so there's not much sleep to be had. The little baby girl is very sweet, but they are running tests on her because she randomly quits then everyone panics and there's lots of commotion. I hope they can figure out what's wrong with her soon. How scary to never be able to leave your child's side, even for a minute, because they might stop breathing and turn blue!

Keith and I are taking turns staying the day/night with James, so tonight is my night to sleep at home in my own bed--yay for peace and quiet! {And hopefully more sleep than the 2am-5am I got last night!} When I saw my boys at 7:00 tonight, the other family had been moved to a new room so he had space all to himself. Please pray that this can continue for the next couple of nights...I know it's selfish, but it would be a big boost to James' recovery if he can have some uninterrupted sleep {well, as much as can be had in a hospital setting!} James was uncomfortable and in some pain when I left, so I'm hoping the nurses can get it under control and that both my boys can have a peaceful night.

We'll try to either send out an email update or put up a blog update each day so that people can follow along and know how to pray for us. Thanks for everybody's support!

P.S.--I'm not sure how well it's going to work having visitors at the hospital. We try to keep the room very quiet and there's not much space, so we'd have to leave the room to be able to do much more than stand and whisper. Perhaps by Friday or the weekend things will be better...we'll just play it by ear. Also, my cell doesn't get any coverage in the hospital, but feel free to leave me a phone message or email and I'll check those daily.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Off to the hospital

We'll be leaving in about an hour for the hospital, doing surgery preparations today and the James will be going into surgery tomorrow morning around 10:00am. We'd appreciate your prayers!

Thanks! :-)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dinner Tonight

Wow, what a difference a week makes! Last week it was cold, raining & hailing. Now it's going to be 75+ degrees all week! Time to dust off the GRILL. :-)

I don't know what it is, but something about grilling just makes food taste better. My menu this week has grilled meats and a ton of veggies and salads. Something about warm weather just inspires me to eat more fresh and healthy ingredients. In case you need some inspiration, how about whipping up some of these delicious recipes? They've been road-tested at the Frank household and passed with flying colors! {Next on my list to try: grilled pizzas!}

Garlic Lemon Chicken Kabobs

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ¾-inch pieces

{I also added chunks of red bell pepper and red onion to my skewers. Served with tzatziki cucumber-yogurt sauce from Trader Joe's.}

In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix to coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

Prepare a medium fire in a grill. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 20 minutes before use.

Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and discard the excess marinade. Lightly oil the grill grates. Place the kabobs on the grill, cover, and cook until the chicken is opaque throughout, about 8-12 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking. Transfer to a warmed platter and serve immediately.

Rice and Black Bean Pilaf

{from Ellie Krieger on}


  • 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
  • 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1 tsp. taco seasoning
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley leaves


Place rice and chicken broth in a saucepot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook rice, covered, until tender and all the liquid is absorbed, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and fluff with a fork.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, celery, carrot, cumin and chili flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not mushy, about 6 minutes. Stir in black beans and cook until just warmed through, about 1-2 minutes.

Combine onion-black bean mixture and hot rice in a serving bowl and toss to combine. Garnish with parsley.

Mexican Corn with Queso Fresco & Cilantro


  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped scallions (about 6 large)
  • 12 ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs
  • 2/3 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 6 oz queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1 cup cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped

Heat butter in a deep 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides. Cook scallions, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the corn and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

Stir together the cream and cornstarch until thoroughly combined. Add to the corn and simmer, stirring until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

Transfer 2 cups of the corn mixture to a blender with garlic and puree until smooth. Return to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until heated through. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer corn to a large serving bowl and mix in most of the cheese and cilantro. Sprinkle additional cheese and cilantro on top to serve.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day, everybody! My hubby has already been treating me to good things favorite Starbucks nonfat white chocolate mocha {which are few and far between these days}

and fabulous waffle sandwiches from one of our favorite street carts, Flavour Spot. Keith and I got the waffle with sausage and maple spread and Maddie got the Nutella with raspberries. Check out the you think she liked it???

{the licking of the lips...for the 1000th time}

{"Hey Mommy, I think I have just a little bit of chocolate right here."}

I also have to say, it feels a bit empty around here without Nana and Papa. We usually talk to them and see them all the time, but they are both halfway around the world for a couple weeks. Nana is in London visiting Dana and Travis, having fun sightseeing at castles and grand gardens and going to musicals and traveling to Holland to see the tulip fields. Papa is traveling between Dubai, Beirut {May 9-15} and Syria {May 16-20} know, all totally safe leisure spots. :-) He is there with our pastor, John Johnson from Village Baptist in Beaverton, and together they are leading workshops on business, leadership and marriage. My dad is pretty wise in the ways of the Arab world {since we lived over there for 3 years}, but please pray for their safety. Crazy things can happen over there. We love you and miss you, Nana and Papa!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Prayer for James' Surgery: May 18

Behind this adorable face is the heart of a fighter. I could tell he was going to be a fighter even when he was in my womb. On hospital bedrest, I was hooked up to monitors on my stomach twice a day to track any contractions and James' heart rate and movements. Ideally it should have only taken 20 minutes, but it often took an hour or more because Little Stinker knew exactly where those monitors were, would kick me directly under it and then scamper off to a new hiding place. He was a clever boy and knew exactly what he did/didn't want! :-) To this day, he's pretty much happy all the time...unless you're messing with him or doing something medical. {Forget this, let's get back to the snuggling and playing!}

James will be going to Emanuel Children's Hospital on Monday, May 17 for a bowel-clean-out procedure and to get extra blood products, etc. We'll stay overnight and then he'll go in to surgery on Tuesday, May 18. Regardless of the surgery outcome, James will continue to be on TPN through his chest IV for a long time {perhaps a year or more} as his main source of nutrition. If the surgery works, we'll start the balancing act of increasing the volume of formula he receives through tube feedings/by mouth to see what he can tolerate. {Currently he's on a slow drip for 20 hours per day of both TPN and formula.} Eventually we hope to start mixing in small amounts of the breastmilk I have stored in the freezer, and then someday add in solid food like baby cereal and pureed baby food by mouth. We are lucky that James loves the one bottle {approx. 1 tablespoon of formula} he gets each day--he'd love to have more! Some kids with digestive issues develop a total aversion to anything being in their mouth, so I'm happy that he's a willing eater! The ultimate goal is for his body to be able to sustain its nutritional needs by oral feeding only, allowing him to go off the TPN completely, which is very damaging to his liver long-term.

We have an awesome pediatric surgeon, Sanjay (Jay) Krishnaswami {he also teaches at OHSU} who's been with James since the very beginning and we trust him completely. He said there are three likely scenarios for the surgery:

Best Case Scenario:
The doctors would discover minimal scarring internally {scar tissue is a big risk, since they had to leave his stomach incision open to heal from the inside out when he was in the NICU, which took a couple months}, the two cut ends of the small and large intestine would be easy to find and healthy, and James would come out of this surgery with re-connected small and large intestines that function normally {or as normal as possible, given his trauma}. He will most likely have a G-tube placed directly into his stomach {for feeding through a tube/syringe} and would no longer need his nose tube. This long G-tube would later be replaced with a Mic-Key button on top of the skin {looks similar to the little tube you use to blow up a beach ball, then collapses down flat}. If the intestines reconnect well, he'll no longer have the ostomy or catheter tube in his abdomen {this tube was a "place marker" that the surgeon put in the first time--he said when you go in to reconnect intestines, it often looks like wet mangled toilet paper inside, making it nearly impossible to find one end of tissue unless you have something to guide you}.

Middle-of-the-Road Scenario:
There may be a lot of scar tissue, which sometimes adheres to the stomach wall or other organs, which can make separating and reconnecting tissue a challenge. If the cut ends of the small/large intestine do not look healthy or look like they would not form a tight seal, he may not be able to reconnect them. At that point, he'd have to create a new ostomy {bring one end of bowel outside the skin, like James has now for the small intestine} with the longer piece of intestine that includes small bowel-connection piece-large intestine. This would allow James to have more length of intestine with which to absorb nutrients from his food. We'd likely then have to schedule another surgery for 6 months-1 year from now to try again. {I REALLY hope he doesn't have to have another ostomy! His bag leaks every single day and it's just a huge pain all around. I can't imagine how that would work once he starts crawling.}

Worst Case Scenario:
He'd open James up, the scar tissue would be too deep and intrusive to even find the cut ends of bowel or what bowel he did find would be damaged enough that it couldn't be reconnected, and he'd have to just sew James back up without really doing anything. We'd have to wait 6 months-1 year to try again, if he even deemed it possible.

Aside from the bowel issues, James could have complications from the surgery itself, like he did last time. Here's a list of complications we want to pray against:

1. Blood loss or problems with his blood work/labs; erratic heart rate.
2. Infection in the bowels, at the incision site, in his IV line or anywhere else.
3. Trouble breathing, causing him to need to be intubated and kept on a respirator after surgery {would need to go to ICU}.
4. Severe swelling and/or scar tissue, so that the skin would not be elastic enough to allow them to close the wound; needing the wound left open.

I generally have a good feeling about this surgery, but you just never know what may happen. We'd appreciate your prayers for strength, peace, good sleep at the hospital, and patience with the nurses. Keith's mom Darlene has been gracious enough to fly out here to be with us, starting May 12th through June 5th, so we'll have some extra hands to help with Maddie and giving us a break at the hospital.

We'll likely have to be at the hospital for a whole week {ugh!}.
Probably after the first couple days go by, we'd love to have visitors {those who show up with Starbucks and/or Diet Coke and chocolate get double brownie points!}...but we'll update the blog or email as things get closer and we know more.

Thank you all for your faithful prayers and continuing to ride with us on this journey! Here's to a big next step! :-)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Family Update

Big loves to Nana in London & Papa in Dubai--
we miss you, you crazy world travelers!

Hurry home safe!

Apparently I've been "gone" for a long time, since just in the last week I've had multiple people call/email me and say, "Where have you been? Is everything alright? We need an update!" Strange, since it didn't seem to me like I was out of the loop...just going about our days as usual. :-) So for everyone who's been wondering, here's a bit of what we've been up to:

Guys Weekend
Keith had a fantastic time here with his buddies from Ohio. Scott, Troy and Brent were here for 5 days full of specialty beer & wine, cookouts on the grill, cigars out on the deck, movies and many hours of board/card games. I only got a couple pictures of the group, but I'm pretty sure it looked just like this...repeated many times over...throughout their whole stay. :-)

Keith & Scott

Troy & Brent

This past Saturday night I got to spend a wonderful couple of hours with my "Bible Study Girls", as I call them. Allison, Katy, Anna, Heather, Heidi, Kari and I were in a Bible study together for 8+ years and became great friends. Although we don't meet often anymore, it's always such a blessing when we can come together and share about our lives and tons of laughter. We've all been through so much...lots of babies (me-2, Alli-2, Katy-4, Anna-5, Heather-2, Heidi-4, Kari-3...whew!), deaths of loved ones, financial woes, health troubles, you name it. Over the years our questions have blossomed from "How do you know if he's The One?" and "How in the heck do you break your baby's Nursing Strike?" to now "What's your best discipline trick for such-and-such?" and "What age should a kid start wearing deodorant/training bras/shaving, etc." Our kids now range in age from 15 down to 3 months, so we have quite the range of conversation! It's so wonderful to be around friends who know your heart, who see you as you really are and never judge you for it!

Maddie has been her usual energetic self, although all of us are feeling the effects of being cooped up in the house with all the rain (and hail!) around here. We need a sunny day so we can get to the park! I feel badly because I lose my cool with her at least a couple times a day...the non-stop questions and WHY??? {especially when the questions are so ridiculous or she already knows the answer, but she asks anyway just to hear herself talk} drives me INSANE and I become one short-fused Mama. Just had to admit that I have my moments {Maddie will probably cut-and-paste this part of the blog for her I Hate Mommy journal when she turns 13.}
Anyway, she often comes up with really creative ways to entertain herself...

{today she came up with these "ice skating cups"
and skated all over the house with great balance!}

and we've done a few projects together...

and practiced some math and reading...
{I'm so proud of her--she now knows most letter sounds
and can phonetically read and spell some short words!}

{some new learning games I've been coloring/cutting out/laminating for Maddie}

But mostly it seems I've been on a cooking-baking-finding new recipes marathon.
In addition to my regular weeknight cooking,

over the past week I've been stocking the freezer {in preparation for our week in the hospital for James' surgery and the 3 weeks Grandma Frank will be staying with us--yay!} with:
(click on the linked recipes if you're interested!)

roasted {whole} chicken, cooked meat shredded & cubed before freezing

Barefoot Contessa's outrageous brownies {these freeze well for many months}

Martha Stewart's crepes and lemon curd {seriously, the best crepes ever!}

Greek burgers/meatballs

my friend Christine's chicken enchiladas {a family favorite}

quick omega-3 granola {in the fridge}
*my new go-to breakfast: Yoplait Greek yogurt, ground flaxseed, this granola & fresh berries*
Note: If you make this granola, the baking time is way off--bake for 7 min, then 7 min, then check after 6 min...or else you'll end up with charcoal!

chocolate cookie dough truffles {Keith eats these straight from the freezer}

Barefoot Contessa's lentil soup with sausage

garbanzo bean-corn patties

Oh, and tonight I made chicken burgers and Yes, I think they even top Red Robin's! I usually just roast them, but they never get crispy on the outside. This recipe from Annie's Eats is perfect! Crispy outside, tender inside. All-around goodness. They take a bit more time, but TRY THEM--they'll be on your menu for all those summer BBQ's! I bet they'd be great with sweet potatoes, too--that's my next round {all for me, since Keith won't touch 'em!}

I also have a few new favorite food blogs, which I've been shamelessly stalking,
digging through their archives, and printing like a mad-woman:

And last, but not least, our resident Cutie Pie James, who is doing great.
{I'll do another post all about his health/surgery tomorrow
so that people can put him on their prayer list!}

FYI: James' surgery will be Tuesday, May 18th...coming up soon!

{Doesn't it look like he's beginning to turn a bit blonde?}

{Flashback: Maddie @ 5 months}

{Maddie @ 5 months. Apparently it's in the genes that this elephant
is destined to be the favorite toy!}