Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why I Had Surgery While 17 Weeks Pregnant

After I finished my post about my gallbladder surgery, I realized that I keep talking about the risks, but I hadn't painted a clear picture from diagnosis to the decision to have surgery. So here it is:

Jan / Feb 2012: I had some occasional pain right under my ribcage on my right side. It felt like baby toes hooking up under my ribs, but I was not pregnant. My mother (who had her gallbladder out when I was a pre-teen - and almost DIED because she let it get out of hand before seeking treatment) told me that it was my gallbladder, and told me to get it looked at - immediately. I didn't blow her off... exactly... I knew that she was probably right. I just didn't want to go to the doctor.

March 2012: During my annual exam, I mentioned my occasional pain to the midwife. She told me that it was probably my gallbladder. She told me to have it looked at immediately. I didn't ignore her... it just stopped hurting... and I forgot :-/

09/04/12: Knowing that I was 7 weeks pregnant (and I had already felt a bit of ligament loosening), I chose to pick up my cranky daughter and carry her on my back as we were leaving the Botanical Gardens. I was hoping to ward off the impending temper tantrum. It worked, but I felt an ominous twinge or two in my back.

09/05 and 09/06: I thought that I was having a really bad muscle spasm in my back, but everything that I tried to relieve it either had no effect, or made it worse (!?!?!?). I went to bed Thursday night in a lot of pain. I knew that I would most likely spend a good chunk of Friday at the minor emergency clinic.

09/07/12: By the time that I got Miss Lily Ruth dressed in the car for school, I was almost in a panic. I couldn't take a deep breath in, and I became convinced that I had herniated or otherwise compromised my diaphragm. My intercostal muscles were in constant spasm.

Somewhere between our house and the church, the pain began to ball up under my ribcage on the right side, and I remembered the gallbladder warnings.

Immediately after dropping her off, I signed myself in at the clinic.

By the time the doctor came in, what I called my 'All Day Nausea' had kicked in, and I was taking weird, shallow breaths because of the pain. He very sweetly told me that I looked awful. I laughingly acknowledged my misery and gave him a rundown: possible back spasm, diaphragm weirdness, gallbaldder? oh, and the nausea - but I had that almost all day pretty much every day.

He decided to address the nausea first. One Zofran and 10 minutes later, and I felt like a new person. A person who was in a lot of pain, but who could function.

I was sent off with A) prescriptions for 1) Zofran for nausea 2) Hydrocodone for pain 3) An antibiotic in case I had a bladder / kidney infection (only a minor possibility) and 4) Flexoril (a skeletal muscle relaxer) in case it was just a muscle spasm AND B) an appointment for an ultrasound of my gallbladder in a few hours. I had to wait a few hours without eating so that my gallbladder wouldn't be 'active' during the scan.

The ultrasound revealed a 3 cm stone and sludge in my gallbladder, but no current inflammation or thickening of the gallbladder walls. A mixed bag. The doctor put me on a clear liquid diet through the weekend, and recommended that I contact my midwife group for a surgical referral immediately. I thanked him politely for the advice, and hung up thinking - 'Not on your life, buddy. I worked hard for this baby! No way I'm gonna risk losing it during surgery.'

I eventually called the midwives. They recommended a surgeon, and told me to set an appointment. Not because they wanted me to have surgery, but they pointed out that if surgery became unavoidable, it would be better to have a consult in place, and to know what my options were.

I became aware of having a small to moderate amount of pain after almost every meal.

10/08/12: 12 weeks pregnant. I had my surgical consult. I went in with a list of questions and a mental list of reasons why I was NOT going to have surgery. The surgeon put me at ease immediately. I felt confident in him right off the bat. He told me that he was willing to give me a few weeks to let it ride and let the baby grow stronger, but given my current level of pain, and the images of my gallbladder, he did not believe that I would make it to the end of my pregnancy without surgery. He very gently explained that this probably meant surgery before the end of the year because this procedure is least dangerous to the fetus during the second trimester. It is also less dangerous to both mother and fetus before the uterus reaches the height of the navel (20 weeks). After that, it can no longer be performed laparoscopically, and a full incision is inherently more dangerous.

We talked about how I would know if I needed to call him. He said that if my pain level did not decrease or if it got ANY worse, I would need the surgery. I asked if I could try yoga, exercise, acupuncture .. he said that I was welcome to try any or all of it - he hoped that it would bring me some relief.

He told me to stay on a no fat / low fat diet (less than 5g of fat per day :-O). He also told me to stop taking the Flexoril (I had only taken one or two total) since my condition was not skeletal. Instead, he prescribed Bentyl - a smooth muscle relaxer - to help keep the gallbladder from contracting so forcefully.

10/29/12: 15 weeks pregnant. We head out on vacation. By now, I was taking at least 1 Zofran per day, 2-3 Bentyl per day, and a Hydrocodone every 3 days or so. While I was still well below the prescribed limits for each medication, I was not comfortable  Over our vacation, it became apparent that I was getting worse. Despite the awesome vacation, I was in daily, almost constant pain. I scheduled a pre-operative consultation for 2 days after we returned.

By the time I went in for my second consult, I had an almost Pavlovian, negative reaction to eating. Knowing that pain would follow any meal (no matter how fat free) caused a physical wave of dread to wash over me. I found myself avoiding meals for as long as I could - not good. I also knew that I could not healthily support a pregnancy with the stress of this much pain.

The rest is history, or rather, has already been talked about in other posts.

So there you have it. Not in a nutshell, but in a loooong, drawn out manner: Why I Had My Gallbladder Removed When I was 17 Weeks Pregnant by Rachel. I hope that this helps someone who is struggling with either gallbladder pain, or the decision to have surgery.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's a BOY!

Last week was very eventful :-)

On Wednesday, I had my anatomy scan. For those not up on their pregnancy-speak, somewhere around 18 - 22 weeks of gestation, most mothers-to-be undergo an anatomy ultrasound. The technician takes a lot of skeletal measurements, checks the function and size of all of the major organ systems, and checks things like amniotic fluid level, placenta placement, umbilical cord function and cervical position. After all of that is done, they will also attempt to tell you the gender of the baby. I say attempt, because if the baby is not positioned favorably for a gender picture, or if they are feeling active and won't hold still, then you get a maybe guess or a 'come back another time'.

Our baby was feeling mellow and cooperative, so in addition to seeing a beautiful array of skeletal poetry and healthy organ function, we found out that our baby on the way is a boy.

Isn't he just precious ;-) If ultrasound photos are not your 'thing', this is a profile shot. Baby's head is on the left. The 'curlicue' on his forehead is actually the fingers of his right hand. Just above his tummy on the right side, you can see his knee and leg bones. He seemed pretty cramped in there, and I resolved to drink more water, but then I read that babies spend their time curled up like that until around 20 weeks. After that, they start to really stretch (as much as possible). I'm assuming that this has to do with skeletal and muscular development, but assuming is usually unwise... so I have some research to do... but I will also up my water intake!

I am not posting the gender shot. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Lily Ruth is thrilled. She is already referring to him as 'little brother' or 'baby brother' instead of just Baby Bean.

Don and I would have both been genuinely happy with either a boy or a girl, so instead of the gender reveal being emotionally charged either way, it was just something that was nice to know after they told us that he was healthy and developing right on schedule.

After the fun of watching the baby move in real time, Don and Lily Ruth headed out for school and work. I stayed for my post-surgical visit with the surgeon. Leading up to the appointment, I had a lot of anxiety about how slowly I felt the healing process was progressing, and how much scar tissue was massing. Even just two days before, I was really frustrated and quite worried. I STILL didn't feel like myself, and I could feel a 'ball' of swelling / scar tissue / muscle weirdness right above my poor, sore belly button. Honestly, it freaked me out.

My doctor heard me out, then palpated my navel and the surgical path. Then he adopted a fairly insulted tone and asked me exactly what I was worried about since that was obviously a beautiful incision that was healing remarkably well.

I had been in a bit of a rush that morning. I bathed, slapped some Neosporin in there and took off. At his request, I looked at it and did my own poking around. Much to my surprise, it was fine! No redness. No swelling. No lump under the skin. So I apologized, thanked him for the incredible non-scar, and promised to bring the baby in for a visit after he arrives.

You guys, I cannot tell you what an incredible feeling it was to see our beautiful, healthy baby and then be released by the surgeon with a clean bill of health. I felt like I was taking a deep breath for the first time in AGES. I felt like a boulder had been removed from my shoulders, and blinders had been taken from my eyes. I felt happy and peaceful for pretty much the first time during this pregnancy.

I finally feel like a can acknowledge this baby and work toward his healthy birth.

I even bought him something to sleep in once he gets here...

2-Pack Sleeper Gowns
I LOVE sleep sacks!!!!!! I couldn't help myself. It's time to celebrate this baby, ya'll!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Gallbladder Surgery by Rachel

One of my biggest frustrations leading up to surgery is that I could not find anyone to tell me what the surgery would be like or how my recovery would go. Me being me, I needed this information. While my surgeon described the procedure to me, that was just a few short days before undergoing it myself, and I still had no real grasp of what I could expect while recovering.

*** WARNING: I am going to discuss my surgery, my recovery, and gross stuff. This post is intended to be helpful, not funny or insightful or pithy. As a pregnant lady who was facing surgery, I wanted this information, and I was unable to find it. If you do not want this information in your head, DO NOT READ THIS POST.***

Here's (my recollection of) how the Robotic Assisted Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy was described to me (*my surgery was performed through ONE incision in my navel - some are done with more incisions*):

- you will be anesthetized
- an incision will be made in your navel
- your abdomen will be inflated with carbon dioxide
- the table you are lying on will be tilted until you are almost upright - this is done so that the majority of your organs press downward and are 'out of the way'
- instruments are inserted into the incision, and guided up to the gallbladder
- the gallbladder is removed, and surrounding ducts are checked for additional stones / blockages
- navel incision is glued closed
- et voila! surgery is complete
- 1 week out from surgery, most patients still have some pain, but are reporting improvement
- 2 weeks out from surgery, most patients have returned to a normal level of activity

This is a relatively short procedure. Barring complications, my surgeon estimates between 30 - 45 minutes for this surgery, but reserves the operating suite 2.5 hours just in case.

I was required to fast - no food, NO liquids, no fooling - for 12 hours prior to my procedure, so I woke up at 3 a.m. and had some soup and a TON of water. In the future, I will schedule all procedures requiring fasting for the MORNING so that I do not have to spend the day hungry and cranky.

I was asked to shower using Hibiclens (a hospital grade antibacterial wash) twice in preparation. After the second time, I couldn't use moisturizers, lotions, deodorants or perfumes... that was hard. I cheated and moisturized my face...

I arrived at the hospital at 1:30 for my 3:30 procedure. Admitting was quick, easy and friendly (THANK YOU, staff at St. Luke's Baptist!). As soon as the paperwork was done, admissions called surgery, and were told that they were waiting for me :-)

The hospital provided an incredible woman in an expensive looking sheath dress and low heels as the Family Liaison. She escorts all patients into the surgical holding area and personally settles them in. Then she keeps track of each patient and all of their family members for the entire time that the patient is in the care of the Surgical Unit. She escorts all family members in and out of the holding area (where pre-op & recovery take place) so that family spends as much time with the patient as possible. She was incredible. Organized, authoritative, knowledgeable and compassionate. She is worth her weight in gold.

I handed over my dignity in exchange for a hospital gown and some gray socks... o.k., fine. I got to keep my dignity, just not my underwear... Then the nurse took my vitals and asked aaaaaaaaaaaall of the usual questions. Since I am 17 weeks pregnant, a hand-held doppler was brought in to check Baby Bean's heart rate. It was (as expected) perfect.

Next was my I.V. Now people, I have a vasovagal response to needles. This means that I am probably going to pass out - it's just how my body reacts. I can be as calm as I want, but my body reacts poorly to the introduction of needles, and that's that. It's also worse when my blood sugar is low, so... I expected this to be hard. It was, in fact, the part I dreaded the most out of the whole day. Crazy, right? I almost panicked when she was looking at placing it so high - it went in my left arm right at my wrist, just below my thumb. I was positive that I would be able to feel it the whole time and would throw up then pass out. Well, a surgical catheter is a completely different animal than a regular I.V. First, the area is numbed with Lidocane prior to insertion, so that's awesome. Second, an 18 gauge flexible catheter is soooooo much more comfortable than any I.V. that I've ever experienced.

The next step is meeting with each member of your surgical team. In my case, this was my surgical nurse, my anesthesiologist, and my surgeon. Each explains (or re-explains even if you've heard it all before) their role in the procedure; including any risks involved.

I asked the surgical nurse to set my gallbladder aside before sending it to pathology so that I could see it. He wrote that down.

The anesthesiologist explained that the baby would not be monitored during the procedure. He wasn't being ugly, it was just some hard, simple truth. Fetal monitoring in this procedure is difficult at best due mostly to patient positioning. Also, at 17 weeks gestation, since the baby is not yet viable outside the womb, there is not anything that could be done for the baby should things go badly. His promise to me was that he would keep my blood pressure as even as possible with no wild spikes or dips that would put additional stress on the baby. He also explained that I would not receive a dose of Versed (ver-SAID). Usually, patients are given a dose before being wheeled into the operating theater. It makes you slightly drowsy. The nurses call it the Margarita Mix. It's given to reduce anxiety leading into a procedure. It is not given to pregnant ladies. Dammit.

My surgeon again outlined the risks (general anesthesia always carries a risk. Surgery during pregnancy always carries a risk of miscarriage), and gave a general outline of the procedure. My mother got very quiet and still. She gathered her thoughts and started by asking if things would be removed in pieces. I jumped in to explain that it all has to come out in one piece because the possibility of loose stones in a duct was baaaaad. Then she stared at him for a moment and said 'Her bellybutton is smaller than her gallbladder.' Um, I had not given that any thought... dang. 'Yep' replied the surgeon. Yikes.

I said 'see ya soon' to my family and my surgical nurse wheeled me into the operating theater. I moved myself onto the table since I wasn't looped up on Versed. Then he bustled around getting things set up. I had to take my gown out from under myself, and I began to wonder exactly what would be covered and what would be exposed... to late to start caring now! Cardiac monitoring leads were placed. Anxiety started to set in, and 'Perfect Day' by the Fresh Beat Band started to play on a loop in my head. That just pissed me off. I wanted the Beatles, and I got the Fresh Beat Band.

The anesthesiologist came in and made easy, light conversation about parenting as he set up. I held up my end of the conversation, but was starting to really freak out in my head. As he put the oxygen mask over my face, I hit 'I REALLY DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS!' I started to formulate sentences about how I had changed my mind as the oxygen started. He asked me to slow my breathing down to deep, even in and outs. He let me know that as the medicine was introduced, it would burn a bit. I had time to say 'there it is' as I felt it start, and then I was out. I know that I was dreaming when they started to bring me around, but I don't remember any of it.

As I came to and was wheeled into recovery, my nurse showed me my gallbladder. I wanted to hold the vial and get a good look at it, but he told me it was gross and whisked it away :-/ As soon as the bed was locked into place, I started asking to hear the baby. 'Just a minute, Mrs. Doyle. We have to get you settled.' It took her less than thirty seconds to find Bean, but it was just enough time for me to feel anxious. Bean was (of course) just fine. My throat hurt from the intubation, and pain was starting to set in. I tried to wave away meds, but my nurse just frowned at me and told me that I was going to receive a small amount of morphine (to help keep in front of the pain instead of getting behind it) and a small amount of zofran (for nausea). I sighed and gave her a grudging 'fine.' Then I took a short nap (5-10 minutes) and snapped at her when I woke up. Luz is a saint. She let me gripe and gave as good as she got.

My family was brought back, and I was allowed to have some water. I drank more than I should have. My nurse explained that I had to urinate before I would be allowed to leave, so I should start thinking about that. I said 'DEAL. Let's do this' and started trying to stand up. Luz helped me up, hugged me, then told my mother that I was 'very stubborn'. Nobody was surprised. I peed and we all puttered around for a short while. Then Luz removed my catheter (yuck) and let me get dressed. She went over my discharge orders with my husband. Told me not to sign any legal documents for 24 hours, and sent me home. The ride home sucked. I was so sad that I'd had 4 ounces of water. I kept cursing and feeling nauseated.

I shuffled around my bedroom briefly. I made myself a nest of pillows on Don's side of the bed. The dog was incredibly confused - she hates change. I tried to eat some soup, but only managed two spoonfuls before deciding that was a terrible idea. I had some sparkling water and a hydrocodone left from my initial gallbladder attack as the pharmacy was closed by the time I was discharged. I kept up the cursing. My mom called to check on me... you know... stuff...

Fairly soon, pain really started to set in right around the level of my shoulder blades. It wrapped around my whole rib cage, but hurt more in the back. My surgeon had filled me in on this ahead of time, but nothing can really prepare you. People usually attribute this pain to 'trapped gas' because it feels a lot like you need to let out a huge burp (from your back!?), but it has nothing to do with gas. According to my surgeon, if you were to take an MRI of the torso after this surgery, there is no trapped gas, There is no extra space. A very large majority of the gas is expelled as the procedure ends, and the remaining tiny percent is absorbed by the body VERY quickly. The pain is actually a diaphragmatic spasm. Your diaphragm doesn't like to be messed with. Your gallbladder is right under your diaphragm. Inflating the abdomen to get to the gallbladder really pisses of the diaphragm. It has a bit of a temper tantrum, and goes into spasm. That spasm HURTS. I had my husband 'beat' on my back, then tried to take a bath. Want to see a pissed off husband? Curse loudly and randomly for an hour or so, then ignore him when he tells you not to get into the bath tub.

After a heated argument about the bath and a few tears because I lost, Don left to buy me a heating pad. They were all out of heating pads that weren't $40, so he came back with the herbal packs that heat up when exposed to air. I am in love with those. They stayed warm for almost 24 hours.

I finally fell asleep.

Thus ended my day of gallbladder surgery.

I will end this post here because it is crazy long. I'll talk about my recovery in another post in case you want to hear about that as well...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Long Day

SO - we had a wonderful vacation with fantastic friends. More on that later...

My gallbladder did not respond to treatment with a low fat diet and medication. I have continued to have a moderate to high level of pain pretty much every day. In the 9 weeks since my diagnosis, I have had a few good days and even a good week, but let's face it - almost constant pain and developing a Pavlovian response to food (I am overcome by a physical wave of dread when it is time to eat) are not healthy. Nor is that an acceptable burden to put on this pregnancy.

I came home from our vacation resigned to the fact that I would probably have surgery between Thanksgiving and Christmas and with an appointment to talk it over with the surgeon two days later.

I felt just at ease with the surgeon as I had on my first visit. He listened and nodded and we talked and joked. Then he started checking his surgical schedule. At my suggestion, we started out by looking at the week after Thanksgiving... moments later, he was on the phone requesting a room for Monday - as in THIS Monday - as in 3 short days from where we were sitting. I swallowed a huge knot of panic. He said that if we were going to do this, we might as well stop putting it off... plus, this way I have less time to freak out. What I want to know is how he figured me out so quickly! The man has spent a total of 45 minutes with me, yet he knew that giving me a long lead time into surgery was a bad idea. *sigh*

That brings me to today. Monday. THE Monday. Lily Ruth is with her paternal grandparents in Houston. She's having such a great time that she is refusing to talk to me on the phone :-/ I have bathed twice with Hibiclens (the hospital-grade sterilizing wash), and had my last food & drink at 3 this morning. Now I just have to show up and do this...

I asked one of my on-line communities for meditations or mantras or prayers that they use to offer things up and let them go. I know for a fact that dragging fear and uncertainty into surgery with me is not helpful. I got a few responses - all very sweet and well intentioned - but none of them struck a chord with me. Then today, I jumped into the car to get gas and cash before we go to the hospital. In 15 short minutes, I heard 'Let it Be' by the Beatles TWICE. Not an everyday occurrence. I stopped the car and cried. Let it be. Let it go. Trust and breathe. I can do this.

Here's my list of reasons why today is so awesome:

1) After I recover, I can stop taking all of this damn pills!
2) I won't be in pain or afraid to eat anymore.
3) I can resume my love affair with cheese very soon.
4) ... that's enough for now...

Gotta run. They're expecting me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

And STAY Out!

Today was just one of those days... Well, to be honest, YESTERDAY was one of those days, so today sort-of felt like a hangover (if I even remember what a hangover feels like). I was completely uninspired in the parenting department today. Left to my own devices, I probably would have flopped around between my bed, the couch and the bathtub.

Since I was not left to my own devices, I asked Lily Ruth what she wanted to do. She wanted breakfast tacos. Specifically, breakfast tacos brought home by daddy. Well, it's not Saturday, so we decided to take breakfast tacos to daddy instead! That was great until I got cranky.

Our next stop was the park with our friends! That was great until I got cranky - and hot.

Next, Starbucks with even more friends. Great until Lily Ruth got cranky. Hey - at least it wasn't me!

When we pulled into our driveway I was having the kind of energy-sapped moment that made me feel as though taking off my seatbelt was an impossible task. So I left my purse, my drink and all of the assorted shoes, socks, legwarmers and other detritus of the day in the car and hoisted my sweaty, whiny, shoeless angel onto my shoulder.

As we crossed the threshold into our home, a small lizard darted across the tile. Not wanting to find a sad, desiccated lizard corpse in a few days, I immediately turned my focus to catching then freeing said lizard. Within seconds, we were all in on it. Well, I was hunting lizards, Keely wandered out the open front door, and Lily Ruth raced after her yelling 'Keely, get back in here you bad dog! Get back in this house you bad dog!' Keely really is a good dog, so in a matter of 10 seconds or less, she sauntered back through the door with Lily Ruth hot on her heels. They managed to foil a perfectly timed scoop-and-grab maneuver, and the little lizard darted in the opposite direction. I spun around and peered  behind the cedar chest. Not only was Little Lizard there, but he was in the company of Big Lizard. To be fair, Big Lizard was (hopefully is) only big in comparison to Little Lizard, but they were the only two around for reference, so there you have it.

I spent the next few minutes engaged in cartoon-esque behavior. Completely ineffectual chasing and shoo-ing foiled at every turn by lithe, graceful lizard ballet. In an attempt to gain an upper hand, I opened a rarely used connecting door into the guest room. My hope was that I could use some sort of surprise ninja attack that they would never see coming since they were unfamiliar with the floorplan of the house. In actuality, I managed to chase Big Lizard into a previously unknown-of giant gaping crack under the guest room window, and scare Little Lizard into a petrified, heavy-breathing panic under the cedar chest.

I gave up for the moment and wandered out to the car... only to find that I had left the rear door open. Swift. I gathered all of our belongings, and berated myself back inside.

After fortifying myself with the dregs of my Passion Tea Lemonade (I'm sure that requires capital letters and some sort of TM or C), I peered once again into the entry way. Little Lizard had moved himself behind the chest. I grabbed a junk mail post card and blocked his escape route. After that, I scooped him up in seconds. He froze in a very macho lizard pose - mouth open, eyes averted, fledgling red mating pouch partially inflated. I gently deposited him outside, and he scurried away. He didn't so much as glance back in gratitude.

I took a deep breath - well, um, if we're being fair, most of my breathing feels pretty dramatic what with the increased blood volume, bloating and growing of new organs... but I digress -  and turned to look for Big Lizard. Luckily for me (and probably for him - I was about to give up), he was staring longingly out of the guest room window. I scooped him up very quickly and headed toward the door. He also tried the macho route, and added in an attempt to bite me. Now, I dubbed him 'Big Lizard', but he was still tiny. We're talking four inches tops from nose to tail tip. Also, green garden lizards do not have teeth. Just flat, white cartilaginous gums. So when I say that he tried to bite me, what I mean is, he opened his mouth, managed to get it 1/3 of the way around my index finger, and closed his jaws. If I hadn't been staring straight at him, there is a pretty good chance that I wouldn't have even registered a change in pressure on my skin. Since I was staring straight at him, I said 'OUCH!' and even became annoyed with him for 'biting' me.

I continued to think cranky thoughts about Big Lizard as I walked out and set him free in approximately the same place where I left Little Lizard (and yes, I gave it conscious thought. What if they are friends or even family members? Community is important, people!). As I set him down, It struck me how ridiculous this was. My ingrained response to being 'bitten' was so strong that I was irritated with a teensy lizard for being terrified of the giant who chased him around then held him high in the air.

I decided instead to be proud of both of them. They both took me on with courage and panache. Well fought, lizards. Well fought.

Because my life is so rich, full and fascinating, I decided to post about my lizard bite on facebook. One friend commented that her gecko had quite a nasty bite despite his toothless status. In an effort to clarify the complete inanity of my situation, I commented that the bite was akin to 'being gummed by a sock puppet'. In retrospect, I am delighted with myself. That may become my new catch phrase. I adore it. So completely ridiculous. So whimsically fun! My afternoon agitation has given me something fun - for once.

Come back here, lizards! I'ma kiss you on the lips! O.k., fine - I'ma kiss you on the cartilaginous gums!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In Which I Update...Yet Again...

One thing that I have dicovered about being an almost 40, pregnant, gallbladder-trouble-having mother to a three-year-old is that I have very little time left to blog. *sigh* I have a lot to say, just no time or energy with which to tell you about it.

'Let me explain - no, it will take to much time - let me sum up' (Sorry, gratuitous "Princess Bride" quoting is sometimes unavoidable):

I met with a surgeon last week. He made me feel very comfortable and confident in his abilities, but (and?) he is highly doubtful that I will make it through my pregnancy without requiring surgery. The other catch / caveat is that the surgery is really only 'safe' (safe-er, safe-est... ugh.) in the second trimester of pregnancy. This means that I will more than likely undergo surgery to remove my gallbladder before the end of the year. I feel very calm about the diagnosis; which is surprising given the level of terror I was experiencing before meeting the doctor. I felt like surgery was the worst possible option, and I was committed to doing whatever I needed to in order to avoid it. After meeting with him, explaining my current daily situation and showing him the sonogram images of my gallbladder, he looked me in the eye and calmly explained that I REALLY don't want to enter my third trimester with a deteriorating condition that would then put an additional stress on my pregnancy. I suddenly felt very calm and certain about trusting him with the health of my baby and myself. He also (very reassuringly) told me that he has not once had a patient experience a miscarriage as a result of this surgery. He was clear that he was not promising a perfect outcome or attempting to downplay the possible risks, rather he was letting me know his personal experience with pregnancy and this particular procedure.

I wish that my disk drive was working properly. Since it's not, I can't put any of them here, but ya'll, the images of my gallbladder with a 3cm stone (approx. 1/3 the size of the entire gallbladder) are pretty dang cool. Well, you might not find them as awesome as I do, but I am an anatomy nerd, and I adore stuff like this.

Oh, and I'm now taking a smooth muscle relaxant to keep my gallbladder from contracting quite so forecefully. I'm supposed to / allowed to take it 3-4 times a day - with each meal and before bed. I'm only taking it twice a day, and it really has helped with the pain, but I feel seriously doped up, nauseated and sleepy most of the time :-/ I almost miss feeling clear-headed but pained. Which is the lesser of two evils?


In order to retain my (self conferred) Awesome Mom status, I have been Pinterest-ing my heart out. Lily Ruth and I have made play dough with Jell-o and glitter:

gack / slime / goop:

dreamcatchers, necklaces for friends and dogs, and from-scratch sugar cookies with glace icing. I don't have pictures of most of it, because I am not quite as awesome as I used to be :-P but MAN are we having fun! Links to all of the things I've mentioned are on my Pinterest boards - I'm 'lilyruthsmama' if you're looking for me.


You guys, until the addition of this new muscle relaxant a week ago, food had become my enemy. Everything I ate caused pain, and foods with even the smallest amount of fat in them caused even more pain. It was an internal battle every meal time just to prepare food for my family. Eating required a separate act of sheer will and resignation to the fact that pain would follow. The new pill really has helped. I should stop complaining about it.

Luckily for me (and my family), I have that small Pinterest addiction, and the folks that I 'follow' are forever pinning good recipes. The past few weeks have found me turning to my pins at 4:00 each day in a last-ditch effort to stir up some internal incentive. I have FINALLY made recipes off of my food board! I am pleased as punch to report that all of them have been wonderful :-)


Lily Ruth has decided to be Peter Pan for Halloween! I am triple excited: 1) This is a costume that I can make by myself - no wacky pouffed sleeves, zippers or tulle. 2) I dressed as Peter Pan at the themed restaurant where I worked when I met Lily Ruth's Daddy, so it's an unintentional (on her part) homage to that time of my life. 3) It's a comfortable, fun costume that she can run around in for an entire night (or more) without worrying about smeared face paint or lost accessories. All of the fabric has been purchased. All of the relevant tutorials and PDF files have been perused and downloaded. My patterns have been drawn, measured and re-measured...

but I am strangely resistant to beginning the actual process... What's up with THAT?


Ooof. I am suddenly left with the vague ennui, and I have lost interest in my own whining. Let me leave you instead with a link to one of my favorite wickedly funny bloggers - David Thorne:

27b/6 - Employee Self Evaluation Form

Enjoy, Sweets! TTFN...

Friday, September 28, 2012


My appointment with the midwives was wonderful, you guys! I'm not sure that I could convey how scared I was leading in to this. I was fairly certain that my body was once again deluding me, and that there would not be a heartbeat.

With all of the delays involved in our visit (Don went with me), I was completely on edge by the time we made it into the ultrasound room. I tried to stay cool, but I burst into tears when we saw Baby Bean's heartbeat flicker into view.

Doyle Baby Two is measuring right on target, and has a beautifully strong heartbeat. For my more visually oriented readers, here is our glorious Bean:

For those not up on their ultrasound reading skills, the black center is where Bean lives. The largest round bit near the top center is a baby head. Following down to the right is baby body then baby leg. Branching toward the center is coiled umbilical cord.

It's so wild that almost exactly 4 weeks ago, our baby looked like a stick attached to a bubble, and now it is pretty much baby-shaped (albeit a bit lacking in birth-ready proportion...). Our medical group has huge monitors attached near the ceiling in their ultrasound rooms so that you can easily see the images in real time. This little one was moving a mile a minute. Legs peddling, arms pumping. Quite impressive for one so tiny (3.43 cm from crown to buns)!

Good news, great day! Followed closely by an energy crash of epic proportion. I had the kind of nap where you literally cannot force your eyes open even though you NEED to. I plan on repeating that nap in a much longer time frame tomorrow, because it is currently 2 a.m., and I cannot seem to shut myself off for the night :-/

Send me sleepy thoughts, friends. And tell Bean that I'll send down as much fat as my dumb gallbladder will allow me to... and if more is needed, just borrow from the reserves in my thighs - please.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wait, WHAT!?

In the three weeks since my last post, things have been a bit wild around here. In fact, the situation has been completely non-conducive to writing of any sort. Lily Ruth's Daddy worked through his two-week-notice, and started out in practice with a friend. Things are going very well for them, but start-ups on this scale border on terrifying... especially when you are the one who sits down to pay the bills...

Also, I have gallstones. I know, right? Sadly, I should have (and sort-of did) see this coming. When I had my annual lady exam this year, I complained of feeling like there were tiny baby toes under my ribs on my right side. My midwife told me in no uncertain terms to get it checked out as it was probably my gallbladder. My mother vehemently seconded this as she had her gallbladder taken out only after it reached a crisis state, and it was NOT fun for her. Well, I meant to do it, just like I meant to have all of my 'I'm almost 40' tests done this year; but I forgot... because it stopped hurting.

Well, it started hurting again big time. Two weeks ago, I thought that I had strained a muscle (or twenty) in my back, but everything that I did to relieve it either didn't help, or made it worse. By the next morning, I was having trouble taking in a decent breath and I was afraid that my diaphragm was somehow involved/compromised. Then it hit me - it was probably my damn gallbladder. I dropped Lily Ruth off at Parent's Day Out, and headed for the minor emergency clinic. Seven hours and an ultrasound of my gallbladder later, I had my diagnosis. Definitely gallstones. Swelling was present, but no inflamed tissue. So it was the famous Clear Liquid Diet for a few days plus pain pills, muscle relaxants and anti-nausea tablets.

Here's the rub, you guys: that sucker's gonna have to come out. Not maybe, definitely. Apparently, you can have gallstones for ages before they present any sort of problem, but once symptoms present, it's a downhill slide... with no set timetable because everybody is different :-/ It doesn't have to come out today, because it's not currently irritated or inflamed, but if it does reach that point, it has to come out immediately. Why not have it taken out now, before it becomes a crisis? Good question, friend. THIS is why:

Since most folks don't walk out of their friendly neighborhood radiology clinic with images of their woe clutched tightly in a sweaty fist, you have perhaps surmised part two of my news... The round 'ball' in the center of the darker area is a yolk sac, and the tiny bit being measured just blow it is a 6 week, 1 day old embryo! I am (yet again) With Child! We are thrilled, delighted and terrified. Thrilled and delighted because we have been hoping for another baby for a year and a half now. Terrified because of last year's awfulness, and because I was so sick with this gallbladder stuff. As of now, I'm two weeks out from the gallbladder attack, and three days shy of being 10 weeks pregnant. I think (hope, pray) that after my appointment and ultrasound on Wednesday, I'll feel secure enough in this pregnancy to feel truly joyful instead of just scared.

For those of you feeling like 2 ultrasounds this early on is a bit much - after all, aren't I using midwives who believe that pregnancy and childbirth are natural processes and not medical emergencies? - you're right on. BUT, a woman of (get this) Advanced Maternal Age (dammit) and my history of loss gets a bit more of the medical side of stuff weather she wants it or not :-/ I must admit that the glimpses of our tiny bean are so reassuring that I'll gladly submit to whatever they want to do along with the imaging.

Back to my gallbladder - focus, people! For now, I have to understand the signs of an acute attack, and manage the rest with diet and pain medication in moderation. My diet went from 'um, fairly healthy' to '5g or less of fat per day' overnight. It's scary and frustrating to make a change that big while in pain. I'm feeling better every day, though, and it turns out that my morning sickness was mostly gallbladder sickness - so that's pretty great!

This is a very strange time, friends. Full of all kinds of new things and challenges both wonderful and not so great. I am ready to celebrate this pregnancy and shed my fear. Pray for me, guys. We should have an answer by Wednesday.

So, there you have it. Joy and Pain... Like Sunshine and Rain (what else... :-P) *whew* That dance break got out of hand FAST. But if you don't have a dance break every now and then, what do you have, really? Not enough, that's for sure. Keep on dancing!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Toast!

For my mother on the anniversary of her birth:

To the one who taught me that learning to laugh and dance and sing is just as important as learning to walk.

The one who showed me to eat because food is good and to cook because food can be love.

The one who drummed into me that it's important to show up on time and ready to work, but still made it clear that you should shed pantyhose and bras into the back seat the instant you get into your car to leave.

The one who gave me the strength to leave the nest and in doing so, showed me how to build my own.

To the woman I always assumed I'd turned into - I'm still pretty surprised that I didn't.

I love you, Mama!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Too Much To Process

Oh my GOODNESS! There have been a lot of goings-on around these parts! There were things that I couldn't talk about until they settled out / were made formal. There were just busy things like trying to stay active without over heating in 108 degree heat. And, as always, there was OKRA...

That's my second batch. I have an entire bowl in the fridge right now just waiting for me to take action... I am still in love with the pickles, bit I am TIRED of picking okra. The trees are so tall that my arms are covered in itchy spines by the time I'm done picking. I can't seem to make myself pull them up, though since they are FOOD and still producing. :-/

Well, in other news, we settled the insurance for Don's car. Luckily, we still carry full comprehensive and collision coverage even though the car was paid off. Listen up, folks - this is my big advice: ALWAYS carry full coverage on your car. If you think that you cannot afford full coverage, let me tell you what you really cannot afford - a new car. Without the insurance money, we would be down to one car right now. In a town this size, that means one of you is S.O.L.

Oh, in other GIANT SIZED news, Don quit his job. :-O He is officially going into business with another attorney in just two short weeks. It is totally scary to jump like this without a safety net (a.k.a.: a savings account), but in his previous position, there was no way for us to build a safety net... so we jump. I am completely on board with this decision. I trust my husband to make well-thought-out decisions that will ultimately benefit our family. Also, the planner in me is scared out of her mind. I loathe not having any absolutes. I take that back - the only absolute that I have is that this is really happening... GAH!

*sigh* Well, at least there's this:

and this:

and thanks to (you guessed it) Pinterest, and this pin:

Source: via Rachel on Pinterest

we have the beginnings of an underwater theatre:

I'll post more pictures when we're done, but we're very excited! All of the animals will receive googly eyes and various other embellishments tomorrow (after they dry). Then we will craft their aquarium!

And just in case you were worried about me, I have had some down time in all of this :-) We spent last weekend on the Dry Frio in ranch house heaven. Just me and 13 of my closest family members...

If you're not from Texas, this might not look like heaven to you. If it does not, then we are no longer friends :-P Trust me - it's awesome. We walked down the river while in the river, then I slept all afternoon. No lie.

I'm trying to break the rest of my update into actual blog posts, but I will tell you now that I am in full-on Fall Garden Planning Mode. It may be epic... or it may just be a garden...

Oops! Must dash - time to head over to my Mama's house to try and put a dent in the leftovers from last weekend! Besos!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Okra, Okra, Oh-KRA!

You guys, my okra plants are out of control. Granted, the beds are raised, but each of the 5 plants is taller than my head. I harvest between 5 & 8 pods per day, and the pods are GIGANTIC. We love us some okra in this house, but we've finally grown weary of every-other-day consumption.

okra with purple beans ready to bake
It was time to bring in reinforcements in the form of my colleague/inspiration, Nora. Nora is a fellow massage therapist and an all-around great soul. She has a soothing energy, great hands, an incredible laugh... I could go on all day. She also gardens and has much more experience than I. When I told her about my chronic, shallow over watering issue, she stopped, smiled and said 'you're a caregiver, Rachel. You were just taking care of them.'

When Nora posted recently about pickling some of her okra, my ears pricked up immediately. I adore pickled okra. When I say 'adore', I mean 'I can eat a jar in one sitting'. My tummy might hurt afterward, but that will not stop me from doing it in the first place.

This week, the okra harvest reached the level of 'ridiculous', so Lily Ruth and I wandered over to Miss Nora's house to see her chickens and get her recipe. I also had a chance to sample some of her already made okra pickles, and I almost melted into the floor with delight.

I am completely jumping the gun here because my batch is barely out of it's boiling water bath, but I'm going to post the recipe anyway knowing that even if I managed to personally mess it up (which I won't know until it's time to open a jar), the recipe itself is good :-P

Nonna's Pickled Okra
    courtesy of Nora Pullin

For 3 pint jars:

2 cups water
1 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsp canning salt

1 1/2 Lbs fresh okra
3 dried red chili peppers
3 tsp dried dill
3/8 tsp Pickle Crisp granules (Calcium Chloride)
** I also added 1 whole garlic clove and 1/2 tsp whole dried corriander seeds to each jar**

First, boil your jars, lids and bands for 10 minutes to sterilize them. Take them out of the water & set them aside (do NOT wipe them off with a dirty kitchen towel :-P). Keep the water hot - you'll need it again in a minute.

Combine the water, vinegar and canning salt in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil

To each jar, add 1 dried chili, 1 tsp dill and 1/8 tsp Pickle Crisp (and garlic & corriander if you're feeling saucy). Divide the okra between the jars. Add the brine (a.k.a: water, vinegar & salt) then tighten the lids onto the jars.

Return the jars to the water bath, and boil for 10 minutes. CAREFULLY remove jars and set aside to cool completely (approx 6-8 hours).

Pickles are ready to eat as soon as the jars are cool, but will get spicier as they cure... if they last that long...

Refrigerate after opening.

1) This recipe easily doubles, triples, etc. I made 6 wide-mouth pint jars using just my large pasta pot and a medium saucepan.
2) Canning lids (the round, flat disk with the rubber gasket) can only be used ONCE, but the jars & the bands for the lids can be reused.
3) Ball jars do not automatically come with labeling stickers - I am bummed, but I guess this just gives me an opportunity to make something fun...
4) My daughter is especially patient today. I gave her some soap and free rein at the bathroom sink. This kept her occupied for most of the writing of this post...

*edit: DANG, these pickles are guuuuuuuuud! I managed to wait approximately 7 hours after removing them from their water bath before opening the first jar, and I am hooked! SO tasty! So crunchy! The garlic and corriander are permanent additions to my version of the recipe! I also ended up with enough okra to make a second batch of 7 jars just one week later! The okra is out of control!!!!*

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sometimes, Life's a Total Wreck

Lily Ruth and I slept in yesterday. By slept in, I mean that it was after 10 o'clock when we woke up. We both needed the sleep. Between my insomnia and her nonstop approach to life, we were a bit overtired.

Once we decided to wake up, we smiled sleepily at each other, and she started babbling happy morning nonsense. I grabbed my phone to check the time, and saw a text from Lily Ruth's Daddy - it was over an hour old. 'Good morning!' It greeted me cheerfully.

"I'm going to call Daddy and tell him good morning."
"O.k., I'm going to go in the living room!" She slid off the bed feet first and padded off.

I can hear lots of highway noise as he answers. Not a surprise as he was driving to Houston for a deposition.

"Hi! Where are you guys?" His voice was loud and overly cheery.
"At home - why?" I answered cautiously.
"Good. I need you two to jump in the car and head for Seguin to pick me up. I just totaled the car."

I was completely confused. His tone was all Hail Fellow,Well Met but the message conveyed was terrifying. I started scrambling for clothes as questions fought for space in my mouth.

"Are you o.k.?"
"I'm fine. I just need for you to come pick me up. The officers should be done with me by the time you get here."
"Oh. Um. We'll be right there..." Not strictly true as the drive alone is over thirty minutes, and I still had to get us both ready, but he took it in the spirit it was intended. "Great!"

It took me almost twenty minutes to leave the house. I was at a total loss. What would we need? How long would we be gone? Would we have to take him to the hospital? I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find a bra, but I left Lily Ruth's hair wild and uncombed. I threw ridiculous combinations of blankets, pillows, bathing suits (swim lesson at 4 - mustn't forget!), art supplies, toys and snacks into the car in case we ended up needing to occupy our time someplace awful. By the time we left, I was milliseconds away from tears, and I desperately wanted to throw up. But I did neither - I had a child in the backseat, and if I fell apart... well, it wouldn't be fair to her, and it wouldn't do any good.

As instructed, I called him when we hit I-10. The cheerful tone continued: "Good! We're just about done here, and the officer is going to drop me off at the Home Depot a few exits away. I don't want you or Lily Ruth to see the car." That almost did it. I almost threw up again.

We found him in the parking lot surrounded by the detritus of a totaled car. Leather satchels, legal notebooks, sport coats... He was talking on the phone and pacing (as he always does). I pulled up next to him and jumped out - I just needed to touch him. Without breaking off his conversation, he hugged me with one arm and began loading his things into the car. I don't think he had any idea that he was shaking like a leaf.

Lily Ruth begins her interrogation from her carseat. "DADDY - did you have an accident in your car?" He hangs up the phone and gives her his full attention: "Yes I did, Boo. My car hit another car, but I am fine." She plugs her thumb into her mouth and twirls her hair tightly. I realized much later that to her, 'accident' means not making it to the potty in time. The news that something had happened to daddy AND his car was a surprise to her and the information was highly confusing.

He wouldn't show me pictures of the car until after we got home. He made the right choice.

We spent the rest of the day doing mainly accident-related stuff. A trip to the minor emergency clinic for a check up. Calls to the insurance company. Picking up a rental car and his prescriptions. I finally dropped Lily Ruth off with some friends around 5 o'clock. "I just need a minute to fall apart" I told them. I had kept it together the entire day because every time I even mentioned the accident, my tiny shadow would plug in that thumb and go a bit purple under the eyes.

I just hugged him for a while and sobbed. "This is probably harder for you than for me" he said. "I didn't have time to be scared, and by the time it was over, I knew that I was fine." I, on the other hand, had spent all day worrying about him. I just wanted to crawl into his body and check it out bit by bit. How could they know if he's o.k.? Shouldn't someone have come along shouting about a need for full body scans or something? Like some sort of lunatic, I just kept asking him if he was really all right or not.

I eventually pulled it together and went to collect our daughter. She spent the rest of the evening glued to us and nervously staring at our faces hoping for some kind of clue as to what was going on. We finally got her to talk to us about why she was scared, and it was mainly because she had no idea what had actually happened... and (like me) she was unconvinced that daddy was truly fine. Luckily, when you are three, mama and daddy can usually convince you that all is right in your world with fairly little effort. She fell asleep easily, and we settled in to our own bed to unwind.

As he always does, Don drifted off long before I did. I'm sure the pain pill helped. I stared at his silhouette in the dark, and listened for his breath. For once, I was thankful for the snoring.


Thank you, Lord for your presence in our lives. Thank you for keeping your hand on my husband. You kept him calm and saved his life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Summer of Being Three Marches On

I cleaned Lily Ruth's room the other day. It won't be too long before I stop doing that, and insist that she do it by herself... hopefully I won't have to add 'RIGHT NOW' too many times... After that, it won't be long before my uninvited presence in her room will be considered prying or snooping... aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! One Mama freak out a time, please!

For now, I love to go in and sort through her things. She tends to play with more of her toys if they're sorted in some manner, so every once in a while, I make that happen. This time, I started with her Special Drawer. The bottom drawer of her dresser is set aside for things that she especially treasures. We started it together - adding the things she was currently the most fond of - and since then, it has been up to her what is added or subtracted. I occasionally troll that drawer for missing items of my own, and am not surprised when I find them. She even has me follow her in there just before friends come over to play so that her most prized possessions can be put 'way up high' out of the fray.

Emptying out this drawer is a true and honest insight into her three-year-old brain. I found things that I expected like tiny dolphins, sticky frogs, plastic bracelets and princess cards (playing and Valentine versions); but I also found basil from our garden, rose petals from Nanny's house and what looked like either a carnation or a pomegranate flower. I found rocks, pencils, Hello Kitty lip balm, rings, the felt wallet that I made for her and random googly eyes.

I love the transparency of childhood. She has yet to develop any sneaky or hiding abilities. When she wants to keep something from me, she fumbles it behind her back and demands "Don't see this!" Things that she sees as special are put in special places, carried around proudly and shared with those that she loves. When do we learn to hoard and guard our treasures? How do I keep from teaching her that?


"MAMA!" Her voice cuts though the quiet of the house.

"MAMA!?" Her plea is followed by crying. Not a drama-queen-crocodile-tears-moment, but scared noises.

I round the corner to find her teetering on unsteady legs. Her tiny body wavers in the middle of her floor in sleepy uncertainty. I kneel in front of her and gather her in close. "What happened, Boo?" Her eyes close and her weight melts into me. "Yes" she replies. She pats my back softly as though I am the one who woke up alone. She kisses my cheek and takes for granted the fact that she'll be snuggled up to Daddy's head the next time that her eyes open.


Lily Ruth is sad. This is something that she decided quite deliberately once we got to her 'school day' today. We actually left at least half an hour before we normally are able to... mind you, this is still half an hour after the parent's day out program starts... and then I forgot to make her a lunch. Literally. Forgot. Didn't remember until I was far enough from the house to insure that I wasn't interested in turning around. So we went to Central Market and got her favorite things for lunch AND a new bag to hold them all. Good stuff. We were on a happy roll.

When we walked into the nursery, her friends were walking toward us to go up to story time. Lily Ruth was engulfed in a wave of happy voices and hugging bodies saying 'Lily! Lily Ruth! You're HERE! Let's GOOO!' She tucked her chin and plugged in her thumb. "We'll join you in a minute." I gave them time to get down the hall, and knelt in front of my daughter. The skin under her eyes was violet. Tears welled then spilled silently.I asked her to talk to me about why she was so sad. "Because, when you leave, I'm going be alone" she whispered. Holy cow. So she has chosen Friday morning (one day that I could spend achieving goals or napping - or BOTH if napping was my goal) to feel abandoned... in the middle of a group of people who love her without reservation.

I'm at a loss. I reassured her as best I could. I loved on her. I reminded her of the love around her. I reminded her of the fun she would have alllllll day. I talked about how important it was to CHOSE to have a good day. I even offered to pick her up early for a 'Mama/Lily Ruth Treat' before swim lessons. All to no avail. I put her in the lap of one of her favorite teachers, and turned to leave. A glance over my shoulder as I ran for the door showed her scooting down to sit alone on the floor; wrapped in a ball with more silent tears and her hair swinging forward to hide her face. That kid can work a room. *sigh*


I thought about this 'alone' business all the way home. Why would she even say that? Then I realized that it's me - she's pulling it straight off of me. I have felt very alone recently. I have lost all but facebook contact with most of my friends who work. My few stay-at-home mom friends have had busy summers with kids out of school and visiting/visits to family. I have felt alone and cut off. I've been resentful that I can't even find the time to write. I've made way too many crafts...

'Brave' dress, anyone?
... but I haven't addressed the fact that I'm lonely. Last night, for the first time in a long time, I offered it all up. I prayed for openness and acceptance. I prayed for gratitude and hope. I prayed for the ability to let GO. I prayed for the strength to receive these gifts when they are given. Today, I feel lighter.


Lily Ruth is an author. Writing books is her new passion. Our supply of tiny notebooks is depleted almost faster than I can replenish it, but it's worth every penny. She fills the pages with stickers, crayon, marker and pencil. She 'reads' me stories of pirates and fairies. She lines up her 'kids' in the Viking fort and weaves tales of princesses, dogs and saber-toothed tigers. Her stories vary wildly and verge in and out of nonsense. I love to sit outside the fort and listen to her incorporate every book she's been read, movie she's seen and person she's ever met. She often says things like 'and then Brad heard the commotion and came out to see.' Commotion?! Where does she learn this stuff?


I have a reoccurring feeling that this is a summer of Firsts, but since my kid is only three, um, every day is full of Firsts. But this summer has been particularly good.

Lily Ruth's Nanny took us to Family Camp. Lily Ruth decided to love the beach!!!

She also witnessed her first Variety Show, and attended her first DANCE PARTY! During said dance party, she performed her first YMCA, Chicken Dance and Electric Slide. She also followed her cousin around until he caved in and danced with her:

Since then we've kept the ball rolling with Firsts like First Time Off the Diving Board, First Time I Chose to Wear Cowboy Boots All Day:

and First Time to Use Gymnastic Equipment (a birthday party at the Little Gym):

This week included First Swimming Race and First Swim Race Victory! That girl can SWIM! It's too cute. I'll have to hold myself still long enough to take a picture for you :-)


p.s. I made Lily Ruth's Merida dress using an e-pattern (the A-Line Dress) purchased from Lil Blue Boo. It is a darling dress pattern and easy as pie. I modified it only slightly for my purposes, but fully intend to make it as directed soon. You should buy it and make some for yourself!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Keep Calm

This delightful reminder to stop taking myself so seriously made it's way bravely across the Atlantic Ocean. It weathered various hardships and survived the breaking of it's protective glass. Now it sits on my desk and mocks me. That's right - it mocks me. With it's beautiful green print and it's smug laissez-faire attitude. *sigh* If only it were that easy.

I have allowed myself to stress out again - big time. Ya'll know how I get, right? I have a problem that becomes a tail-chaser, and I practically turn myself to butter like the tigers in Little Black Sambo... or perhaps I could find a less racist comparison... This particular muddle is a well worn refrain: I need to go back to work but child care is mucho expensive - can we really afford to pay out an average of 2/3 of my wage in child care? Also, my career involves early and/or late hours including weekends and holidays. With a husband who travels for work (and therefore can't be reliable back-up), how can I go back to the spa? If I DO, then when will I see my family? This is what happened when we fell apart the first time! But if I don't go back to massage, how will I earn even enough to pay for child care never mind contribute to the household? BUT if I don't go back to work, will we EVER be able to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck?!... you see where this is heading, right? Mental instability and sleepless nights, that's where...

So I'm making stuff. Again. It's insane. I start to obsess, then I just shuffle zombie-like over to the computer. If I was already on the computer (say, looking for jobs), I just open a new tab for... wait for it... Pinterest, and start browsing for something that I can make NOW.

So, in addition to the macrame bracelets:

And the Viking fort and the Astrid costume and the garden, there is also some Celtic knot-work:

(toddler headband on the left & random, useless Celtic Heart Knot made from twine on the right)

Dream catchers woven into metal links:

(possibly to be made into bracelets or necklaces? possibly just because I like them :-/)

A new blanket for LR:

I bought the fabric and trim intending to make a blanket for our neighbor who was very pregnant at the time. When I got home, I realized that while the coral of the trim was one of the colors in the baby's room, the pattern and color combination were strictly my taste, and not my neighbor's taste at all... so it sat around waiting for me to have a crafting emergency... I finished it this past weekend in just under 2 hours... Lily Ruth LOVES it :-P

And now we come to what may be the death of me. Tiny pom poms. I saw a garland on Honestly WTF a few weeks back, and the thought of it has haunted me. I almost bought an actual pom pom maker (no lie - there IS such a thing), but then I saw the tutorial for making pom poms with a fork (A FORK?! I have one of those!), so I spent the $7 that I would have spent on the pom pom maker on tiny cards of yarn instead! Check me out:

*sigh* Well, I may not be gainfully employed full-time, but my life is gaining color, splash and spice... right? That counts... right? *double sigh* I wish that somebody would pay me to make all of this stuff. Anybody know a benefactor with a weakness for home-spun craftiness? And don't say 'Etsy' to me. Some of this stuff takes way more time to make than I could re-coup in selling prices. I want a flat-out benefactor or a full time job with child care. Make it happen. Toute de suite.

... I talked this all over with Kittyn - the one who sent me the Keep Calm picture - and she suggested that perhaps my angst is due to a sense of defeated expectations. I really didn't picture my life looking like this right now. Despite the fact that taken big-picture, my life is pretty damn good, I still expected to be in a different place right now. I mean, the big 4-0 is right around the corner. I fully expected to have more stuff figured out by now! I already went back to school and found a career that I love, so why isn't the rest of it all just falling into place? I expected to be working full time, and even working hard. What I didn't expect was constant uncertainty and/or worry. I expected to feel like a grown up... you know - steady job, bills paid, work all week & weekends are for family... grown up stuff... yet here I sit. Me. Just me in a 39-year-old body. When do the grown ups get here?

p.s. Aside from the blanket (which is me sewing two pieces of fabric together then adding a satin edge), all of these projects are on my Pinterest boards. You can find me as lilyruthsmama (big surprise). If you want/need a Pinterest invitation, just ask me :-)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lily Ruth Turned Three!

... and I forgot to tell you about it... My camera crapped out in the middle of candle-blowing-out pictures (or at least, that's what Lily Ruth's Daddy claims, but it seems to be fine now...), so my Mama was the one who captured the lion's share of images from the party. As wonderful as that is, now i can't get my CD-ROM drive to spin up, so I can't share any of her pictures :-/

Here's what I do have:

Just before the party: 'hiiiiii-YA!'

soooooooooooooooo cute!

We knew that we were going to have balloons, but when I got the ribbons out for strings, she asked for streamers!

Lily Ruth's Nanny made cake and cupcakes in ice cream cones - YUM!

a low-res cell phone photo of us - I always end up in that dress...
 All in all, it was a GREAT party. Lots of friends, lots of crazy, running, swimming, eating kids. The Viking fort was a huge hit. As were Daddy's balloon-figure-making skills. He spent the afternoon fashioning swords, dragons and Viking helmets with a tiny balloon pump and a giant bag of balloons. I was so sick of the balloon popping noise that they are now banned for at least another month, but everyone else was in heaven.

We said goodbye to the last of our friends around 9 pm (!!!) and finally wound down enough to sleep around 10:45... well worth it!

To celebrate the actual day of her birth, it was just the three of us, lots of hugs and a few presents. Since she tried to change the theme of the party at the last minute, I set our dining table in her character of choice, and we talked about how happy we were (and continue to be) when she joined our family. We did not have another cake or any more candy :-P

 I put a '3' candle in a cup... genius.

Strawberry Shortcake table setting with presents from Mama & Daddy :-)
It's good to be three - just ask Lily Ruth.

Friday, June 22, 2012

My Little Viking

Ya'll know how Lily Ruth is obsessed with 'How to Train Your Dragon', right? Well she is, and has been since last summer when she saw the movie for the first time.

Also; somehow last fall, she found out about having a themed birthday party. I have no idea how that happened, but it did, and she immediately began lobbying for a Viking Birthday. I said 'sure', and assumed that she would either forget or change her mind ninety times before her birthday. I was wrong on both counts. The lobbying continued unabated until two weeks ago when I actually began to put together guest and task lists for said event. As I sat at the computer typing e-dresses into evite, she announced that she had 'changed it to princesses'. I told her it was too late, and hit 'send'. Then I got to work...

You've gotta see this stuff! So, this is Astrid (Lily Ruth's favorite Viking):

And this is the beginnings of Lily Ruth's Astrid costume:

- by the by, it is hilariously funny to stand on the kitchen table and have your picture taken :-P and it is very important to spend some time checking yourself out in the mirror...

The T-shirt is one that we had on hand. I used Pentel Fabric Fun pastel dye sticks to draw lines on it and make it look more like Astrid's sweater:

The skirt is made from crafting felt that has a reptile skin-esqe finish. I cut it into 2" x 7" strips (7" being the measurement from LR's waist to just above her knees), and made a 19" long, 2" wide strip that I folded in half (lengthwise)and sewed over the layered strips (a.k.a. a waistband). Add ties on the ends & et voila, skirt:

It is tooooooo hot here to even pretend to wear boots and/or arm warmers right now, but the leg warmers from our immense stash do add a cute touch of boot-ish fun. But ya'll, this is the best part - I convinced her to put on her bear feet slippers and 'hi-YA' for me. In the interest of honesty, she was already going to 'hi-YA', I just got her to do it on camera...

LOVE it!!!!!!

The costume is still in progress. I made a finger-woven headband from old T-shirt strips. I added silver embellishments to the skirt, and I'm finishing up the shoulder decorations (Um, I made tiny faux bird skulls from Sculpey clay...), 

but I'm sure i can have it done by tomorrow...............

**EDIT: I've noticed a lot of hits for this post as we near Halloween. If anyone wants better (or actual) instructions for any potion of this costume, you can e-mail me at aintelmosworld(at)yahoo(dot)com, or comment here and I'll gladly supply more of a tutorial for you :-)**

But wait - there's MORE! We made a fort out of giant boxes! Grandpa brought us three boxes like we used for her very first hideout. We put them to good use:

The colors on the top are tissue paper glued over cutouts. It looks WAY cool from the inside!:

Our friends Lola & Jett helped us decorate it (inside & out) with giant markers, then the kiddos pretended to take a nap in the fort: 

In an over-stimulated frenzy, bickering and crying ensued. Our friends went home to nap for real, and Lily Ruth settled in to 'read'.

I can't WAIT until tomorrow! This is gonna be GREAT! What time are you coming over? ;-)