Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Softer?

I took V for an appointment with Dr. N (the surgeon) this morning to see what he thought about the hemangioma on V's eyelid, now that she's been on the medication for a little while. Though he agreed with me that it's not any smaller, he did think it might be a little softer, which could be a good sign. We're upping her dose of medication, which has its good and bad sides - the good being that it might make a difference and help us to avoid surgery, the bad being that it already makes V pretty sick to her tummy at the current dose, which leads to lots of crying and not much sleeping. I'll take her back in two weeks, and if it's remained static or grown, we'll probably schedule a surgery at that time. If it's shrinking, we'll keep her on the medication, provided the side effects haven't become intolerable. I'm torn, because I do NOT want to put her through surgery, but I hate seeing her in this much discomfort, knowing it might be prolonged. There just doesn't seem to be a great option. But hey - maybe it is getting "softer"...and maybe it will quickly go away. That's what I'm praying for.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

River Dance Baby


Is it wrong to laugh really hard at this photo? I suppose that if that's wrong, I don't want to be right. ;) She's so stinkin' cute, I can't help myself.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Helper

The J-bird and I love to be outside, and now that the rain seems to finally have stopped, we're spending as much time out in the fresh air as we can. He's even getting over his screaming terror of every single tiny bug he sees. :)







And here's some of what we've been growing!
Lilies - some of my favorites.

Daisies.


I have no idea why, but I have this NEED to grow tomatoes. I don't even like them raw, but I...must...grow them! And I've never really gotten the knack. This year, I'm trying the "Topsy Turvy". I'll let you know how it goes.
Now grapes, on the other hand, grapes I've got.


I cannot ever, for the life of me, remember what these are called. I planted them years ago and have forgotten the name. I love them though.



And more lilies.



My best friend just had her first baby and gave her the name she laid claim to when we were still in college, years from having children. Can you guess what she named her? That's right - she had her sweet Lily while the lilies are in bloom. I just love that!

Sharrel's Birthday Cupcakes

My mother-in-law celebrated her birthday with us when she was here, and a birthday calls for cupcakes. Normally, I'd break out my favorite chocolate cake recipe, but Sharrel can't do chocolate, so I made them with white cake, a lemon glaze and a whipped cream/buttercream frosting, then I topped them with toasted coconut. They were great!

The Cupcake Part

-1 Cup White Sugar
-1/2 Cup Butter
-2 Eggs
-2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
-1 & 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
-1 & 3/4 teaspoons Baking Powder
-1/2 Cup Milk

-Bowl 1: (I do this part in the mixer) Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla.

-Bowl 2: Combine the flour and baking powder.

-Alternate adding some of Bowl 2 and then some of the milk to Bowl 1, mixing after each edition. Don't overbeat, or the cake will be tough.

-Spoon into lined tins (I always do this step with a pastry bag) and bake at 350*F for 20-25 minutes. This makes a fairly dense cake.


The Glaze:

This part isn't super exact. It's just powdered sugar and lemon juice, slowly stirred together until thick. A little lemon juice goes a long way, but you can always add more powdered sugar if the glaze is too thin. I apply the glaze with a pastry brush.


The Frosting:

-1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
-1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
-1 Tablespoon water
-1 Cup Powdered Sugar
-3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

-Mix the gelatin and the water and heat for about 20 seconds in the microwave. Pour whipping cream into cold bowl of mixer and start the whip on a slow speed, drizzling in the melted gelatin. Turn whip up high and whip cream to stiff peaks. Scrape out into a separate bowl.

-Thoroughly beat together butter and powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl.

-Gently beat in the whipped cream. You can add some vanilla, if that floats your boat.


When the glaze sets on the cupcakes, frost them with the whipped cream frosting (again, I use a pastry bag). I topped these with toasted coconut (just spread some sweetened coconut shreds on a baking pan and stick in the oven on 350*F for 10 minutes or so. Watch it closely though, or it'll burn. So sad when that happens.) If I'd been feeling reeeeeeally ambitious, I'd have filled these, but I'm still not sure with what. Whipped cream? Lemon curd? Pudding? They were good as they were though and very well received, which is every cook's happy reward!

Dude

It's been awhile since I posted a recipe. In my defense, I've been baby-ing :). This one's a doozy and will kill any diet you might be on. I got this recipe from the Tasty Kitchen, and...dude....so, so good.


COCONUT AND CHOCOLATE FUDGE BARS

  • FOR THE CRUST:
  • ½ cups Old Fashioned Oats
  • ½ cups Sweetened Coconut Flakes
  • ½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • ¼ cups Packed Brown Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoons Salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (3/4 Stick) Unsalted Butter
  • _____
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • ¼ cups All-purpose Flour
  • ¼ cups Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Instant Espresso Or Instant Coffee
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 1-½ cup (9 Oz) Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 1 whole Large Egg
  • ½ cups Sweetened Coconut Flakes

Preparation Instructions

Crust:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, with the rack placed in the middle of the oven. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overlap on the sides. Spray the foil with cooking spray.

-In a medium bowl, whisk together oats, coconut, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir melted butter it into the oat mixture until combined well. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press it firmly until it forms a flat crust.

-Bake the crust until golden brown, 9 to 11 minutes. Cool completely on a rack, about 1 hour.

Filling:
-In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, instant espresso or instant coffee, and salt.

-Combine chocolate chips and butter in a medium bowl. Melt in the microwave, stirring frequently, 1 to 3 minutes. The mixture will be thick. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a large bowl and let cool for about 10 minutes. Whisk in the egg until thoroughly combined. (I changed this up a little. I beat the egg in a separate bowl and tempered it slowly with some of the heated chocolate mixture. Then, I added the tempered egg into the chocolate and mixed it vigorously).

-Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Spread the chocolate mixture over the cooled crust.

-Bake at 325 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle coconut over top and gently press the coconut into the chocolate layer with the back of a spoon. Bake for additional 15 to 20 minutes, covering the pan with foil when the coconut is light golden brown (after about 10 minutes). Watch carefully so that the coconut does not burn.

Place the pan on a cooling rack and let rest until completely cool, about 2 hours. Holding onto the foil edges, remove the bars from the pan and cut into 16 squares. Serve.

Lord of MERCY. Cut them small, because these babies are RICH.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mermaid In Training

My baby girl loves her bath...

...and she has learned how to SPLASH!! Drenching Mommy is SO hilarious, don't you know :)

VBS!!!

When I was a little girl, one of the best parts of summer break was attending Vacation Bible School. The songs, the crafts, the stories, the games...a week of fun with all my church friends. I. loved. it! Last week, I had to run something up to my friend at church, and she mentioned to me that, being 3 now, the J-bird qualified for VBS himself. I thought about it and, with a little bit of trepidation, I signed him up. He was excited, but this is the first time he's ever done anything like this. I wasn't sure if he'd catch on quickly enough to sitting still in a group, etc..., but I took him on Monday, introduced him to his teacher, and....left him there.

Is it totally bizarre that leaving was really hard? I try and I try, but being away from my kids is not fun or relaxing for me.

This isn't about me though. The J-bird had a FANTASTIC time this week! The theme was "On the Farm". They all wore specific colors each day, which was fun. His teacher said that he caught on pretty fast, which was gratifying to know, and he just talked and talked and talked about all the fun he was having and how much he loved "BBS". Today was the pre-schoolers' turn to ride on the church bus out to the bison farm - I may never hear the end of that - not that I want to. ;)


Here's J with our pastor, Jennifer. The thing around his waist is a neckerchief, which he apparently refused to wear around his neck and insisted on wearing as a belt all week.

Well, I didn't say he assimilated perfectly. :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Step 1 - Not So Much

Well, step 1, topical medications, has not worked. I knew I would get my hopes up, so I've taken a photo each day to document any changes. While the part of her eyelid further out from the growth seems a little less puffy, the hemangioma itself has remained the same.


Day 1



Day 2



Day 3



Day 4



Day 5



Day 6



I haven't taken a photo yet today, but there's not really any point. It's not changing. I'll take V in to her pediatrician tomorrow to start her on the oral medication, which is step 2. If this step fails within the next two weeks, we'll be heading toward surgery, so please, if you pray, pray for our baby. If you chant or send good thoughts to the Universe or stand on your head and say "homina homina" and wouldn't mind throwing our girl in there, we'd appreciate that too.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Unadulterated Joy

I so wish I could take credit for this photo, but I wasn't even there when it was taken. James and his mama took the J-bird to the Farmer's Market on Saturday, and, though it was chilly that day, J apparently decided it was a fine time to overcome his shyness about it and play in the big fountain. He's always loved this fountain, but he's never wanted to run around under the big jets of water or put his feet in the puddles much. He mainly likes to watch it and to admire the other kids who get soaking wet running full tilt into the very soaking-est part. The nice thing is that a person can play around this particular fountain without getting entirely soaked, so only his shoes and the cuffs of his jeans were wet. He had a blast!

A Dedicated Baby

Yesterday, we had Miss V dedicated at church. We want our kids to decide for themselves if and when they'd like to be baptized, so dedication is a public declaration without the baptism part, that we'll raise our baby in love and as part of our church community and that we'll teach her about our faith so she can make a decision, when she's old enough, about where her heart lies.


And what a sweet heart she has!

She had a bath when she got up, and I dressed her in her sweet little dress, chosen just for this occasion. It was a good thing we had the dedication yesterday, as the sweet little dress was straining at the seams. She's growing fast, our girl.



Because this isn't really "that kind of blog", I don't talk all the time about our church or our faith, but we have both. We adore our church, and it was neat to stand up at the front and see everyone, hearing them affirm that they'll love and support our precious babe along with us. The J-bird doesn't quite grasp the concept of "inside voice" just yet, and he infinitely prefers the company of Miss Wendie in the nursery to that of his parents who force him to sit still and hush, so we usually don't keep him in the service with us. We wanted to stand as a family though, so he stayed through the dedication and the "Time With Children" and did just fine.




Though I worried she'd kick up a fuss at being handed over to someone other than Mama (this is her trend lately - no one but me will do), it happened to be her nap time, so she snoozed away like a little angel in Pastor J's arms. The blessing was lovely, so I cried for the both of us (of course).


As an added bonus, the J-bird got to hold the basket at the end of children's time for all the kids to put their little offering envelopes in - a coveted honor among the kiddos in our church. As he was walking proudly out of the sanctuary to go to the nursery, he loudly proclaimed, "That was FUN!"

I agree, my little sweetheart.

But seriously...inside voice. ;)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day 2010

Happy Father's Day! To the man who made the me the luckiest little girl of all time by becoming my daddy:




And to the man who made me the luckiest woman by giving me not only his own heart, but also this little blond haired boy -


and this little red headed girl -
I love you both so much.




And now, for your entertainment, I present to you, the degeneration of a photo shoot. I call it "Sit Still Please!"




Hope you had a good one!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Plan

I took V to see Dr. N in the big city yesterday morning. Our appointment was first thing, and I knew traffic would start to clog early, so I set out two hours ahead of time, knowing I'd spend some time sitting in the car in the parking garage, but also knowing I prefer being early to being late. I sincerely hate being late.

I mean, it really bugs me.

Anyway, V fell asleep in the car, which was lovely for her and for me. She hates riding in the car and will wail inconsolably if she's awake in her carseat. Poor baby. We sat in the parking garage for a half hour or so. She slept and I read and then talked with my mother on the phone. Eventually, we made our way into the building - the Casey Eye Institute at OHSU - a really beautiful and impressive place, and found Dr. N's office. I filled out the requisite paperwork and presented my proof of insurance (de rigeur in any encounter with health care, thank God we have it!), waited briefly and was then shown back to an exam room.

A tech examined V very gently and took our information, then left, promising the doctor would be back shortly. I won't lie: I was nervous. V was fairly oblivious, so the song I was softly singing her ("Don't you worry...about a thing...'cause every little thing...is gonna be alright") was probably more for me. :) As it turns out, I needn't have worried. Dr. N was simply lovely. He did NOT do that awful, annoying thing doctors often do of talking down to me because I am a woman or a mother or whatever other inexcusable offense I might have committed to earn such condescension. He was kind, gentle with V, spoke plainly to me, but was not afraid to use technical terms, thinking I might be too thick to understand. He agreed with Dr. A (the pediatric ophthalmologist) that her age and the position of the hemangioma lend this a definite sense of urgency. Time lost is potential vision lost, and no one wants to do that to V. He answered all my questions (carefully written out for reference) and some I hadn't thought of, and, after discussing all the options and the generally proscribed course of treatment, decided on this:

First, I will apply a combination of two topical medications, one a steroid, the other a beta-blocker for one week. If that does not drastically reduce the size of the hemangioma, we will try a week or two of giving her the beta-blocker orally. If this also fails, V will undergo an MRI to determine the "involvement" of the growth, and then she will have surgery to remove it.

The good, relieving things I learned about the surgery are that she would have very minimal scarring, that healing would be pretty fast and, most importantly, that the growth would have almost no chance of returning because of the manner in which he would remove it. The terrifying prospects of putting my tiny, tiny baby through both the MRI and the surgery include her needing to be sedated and intubated for both, nevermind the other risks of even this very minor surgery. I am resolutely refusing to contemplate or picture that yet.

The long and short of it is that, by one means or another, this awful thing that is encroaching on my baby's vision will cease to be an issue within two months at the very outside. I feel optimistic and deeply grateful.

And still worried. I can't lie about that. I think it's to be expected though. Only a few months ago, she was still growing just under my heart. Is it any wonder, then that she occupies so much of it?

Mother-In-Law

Here to meet our V and play with the J-bird. :)

Mr Charming


Little Boy

Friday, June 11, 2010

So Here's The Deal

About two and a half weeks ago, I noticed a swollen, light purple colored bump on V's right eyelid. I thought maybe she'd whacked herself in the eye and though I wasn't happy about it, I just watched it for a few days. When it didn't go away or start to disperse, I took her to the pediatrician last week (you may remember that's what I was doing when this happened). The pediatrician recommended taking her to a pediatric ophthalmologist if it lasted another week. I made the appointment right away, figuring I could cancel it if the swelling abated. It didn't, so I took her in yesterday to see the eye doctor. V was not excited about having drops put in her eyes and even less excited about having someone hold her eye open. She fought the whole process - hard. The doctor was finally able to get a look at what he needed to see (and was very gentle, though he did have to use a small device to hold her eye open, which just looked awful. He numbed her eye first, so she didn't feel it, but...I couldn't look at it.). Unfortunately, he did not give me the "it's nothing" I was hoping against hope for.

It's called a capillary hemangeoma. It's an abnormal growth of capillaries, kind of like a strawberry birth mark. They occur in about 1-3% of infants, more commonly in girls. They grow for awhile, then they start to "involute" or "go away", but that can take years. This wouldn't be an issue, if it weren't on her eyelid, obstructing her vision. Leaving it be could cause serious problems with her visual development, so we need to address it "urgently", to use his word.

The ophthalmologist referred me to a surgeon, whose office I called from the parking lot, only to hear that their earliest appointment would be in five weeks. FIVE WEEKS?!?!? I'm sorry. I'm not waiting five weeks. Normally fairly willing to be a doormat and wait, I made an utter pest of myself all day and got a call at 5:00 yesterday evening from the ophthalmologist's office, letting me know that the doctor himself had called the surgeon's office to tell them that they must see V next week. The surgeon's office opens in 15 minutes, at which time, I will be on the phone to them, attempting to schedule.

As far as I can tell, treatment for this can go a few ways. Rounds of oral steroids may halt the growth, but there are wicked side effects, and I will argue against this. I cannot conscience putting her tiny body through that if it's not going to get rid of the issue. There are injections of steroids, a combination of long and short acting, that seem (from internet accounts in medical journals anyway) to be successful. There's also surgery.

None of this fills me with joy.

I know that I should be glad it isn't something more serious. I should be thrilled that we live in an age of such medical marvels. I should count my blessings that it's not cancer, that we caught it WAY early, that she won't remember any of this. And I do. I also feel awful and helpless, knowing I'm going to have to put her in some situations that will be uncomfortable, painful, scary for her. I'm supposed to protect her from those things. She's so little, not supposed to know anything but comfort and love and smiles and milk and warm baths and her funny brother.


This guy. Who was SO good while all this was going on yesterday, by the way.


Anyway. That's what I know right now. The world isn't ending, and in the grand scheme of things, this is a minor medical problem that can and will be fixed. We'll put one foot in front of the other and take care of our precious girl. I just wish...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Happy Baby

I took V to her eye appointment today, and there are things to talk about, but it's a little too...near... just yet. I'll think about it and probably talk about it tomorrow. Instead, please enjoy this little video of my sweet girl watching her "friends" turning above her on the mobile on her swing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

TWO Months!

For Heaven's sake...this little pumpkin

is 2 months old today! (I'm posting this in the evening though - sorry!)


At two months, our Miss V smiles and coos, she loves to look at our faces, and she is fascinated by her brother's antics. She can focus her gaze now, and is delighted when we engage her eyes and talk or sing to her. She's still sleeping really, really well. She usually gives me a six hour stretch at night, followed by a three or four hour stretch, and then she goes BACK to sleep for another hour and a half or so! She's getting into a morning nap "schedule", and she still takes her big afternoon nap at the same time as the J-bird. How lucky is that?

She is a very calm and placid baby - rarely fussy, rarely demanding, SO easygoing and very "go with the flow". She loves to snuggle. She LOVES to nurse (much like a little J-bird I once knew :) ).


You may have noticed the weird swelling on her eyelid. Rest assured, I've noticed it too. We have an appointment tomorrow with a pediatric ophthalmologist. Hopefully, he'll have a reassuring answer for me.

Meanwhile, I'll be snuggling my little sweetheart and celebrating two wonderful months.