Friday, August 29, 2008

Say Cheese!

I got my new camera today so I thought I would share some cute pictures.

This first one is of Eli when he woke up. I went in to get him and he smiled at me and gave me this face.

We went to Dad's work today so the boys could pick something out of the treasure box. They get to do this when they have completed all of their schoolwork for the month. This was a short month, but I promised them they could do this at the end of Kindergarten and we never did it. We decided it was only fair to let them count August as a full month. They won a movie and arcade night with Dad. They are out there right now while I chill at home with Eli. I was also able to get some shopping done for myself. I got brand new running shoes, some super cool sandals from REI and a dri geen shirt.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tag...I am it!


1. Rinar, Raef, Zach, and Eli

2. Dinner parties with fun people

3. Waterfalls and rivers with mountains as a backdrop


1. Someone hurting or stealing my children

2. Black widow spiders that fall out of the ceiling

3. Eyeballs

Current Obsessions/Collections

1. Popcorn from my stove popper

2. The USA Network (Monk, Pscyh, and now Burn Notice)

3. Homeschool books

Surprising Facts

1. I hate shopping for clothes or shoes or anything like that, if it's for me.

2. I despise lima beans, unless it is in Brunswick stew and then its okay because there are only a couple and the tomatoey flavors kind of drowns it out.

3. I prefer not to make u-turns. If I am on a trip, I don't like to backtrack. I would rather take my chances at the next exit than have to go back for any reasons. Now, I will make u-turns if it is part of the plan and it is the way you are supposed to get there, but for any other reason I try to avoid it as much as possible.

Okay, now I am tagging Lindsay from Brooklyn and Lindsey from Vegas.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Now the Day is Over

It was a long day today. I am glad it is over.

Nadja, I know you tagged me and I promise I will do my homework tomorrow.

Mel, I haven't looked at what you have done to me yet, but you better be nice or I will send you more "cool" flairs from facebook, so watch out.

Oh, and I ordered a new camera, so I should be able to start posting pictures this week...yeah!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Weekly Update

My kids started soccer this week. This is the very first time they have done any kind of organized sports. They have had 2 practices so far, and they both were smiling the whole time. It was joyful to watch them. Of course, the first practice they did not have the proper gear. After five minutes of playing, Raef cried out that he didn't want to play anymore. He had gotten wacked in the shins several times. I informed him that he did not have shin guards and that we would get them before the next practice. It seemed to placate him. He did finish the rest of the practice and had loads of fun. But today's practice went a lot more smoothly for him and he enjoyed it immensely.

On Monday we had a very nice Family Home Evening on prayer. We got some interesting comments from the kids. Raef took several minutes explaining why we pray: because there isn't a telephone that can reach that far into outerspace. It was so adorable. He was really thinking about it.

This was our first official week of school. The kids did really well and I was mostly patient. I have added some really good new curriculum that I have been very happy with so far: Math-U-See, Spelling Power, and Rosetta Stone Spanish. All three of these have been a nice addition and I look forward to seeing there progress as the weeks pass by. We are going to be doing school from Monday-Thursday and take Fridays off to clean the house and do fun things together. Violin has been going really well. Raef is working on Musette by Bach and Zach has finished with Hunter's Chorus and is now plunged into Long, Long, Ago in G Major, with a variation. They are both loving it.

I had a very sweet moment with Zach today as we wrapped up school. He sat down at the piano with me and sang some Primary songs very exuberantly: Called to Serve, Samuel Tells of Baby Jesus, Away in a Manger (he sang the harmony!), and Stars Were Gleaming. When Raef finished his spelling, he came and joined us for the last few. These are the moments you savor as a mother.

I had Zach read to me from McGuffey's and he did a couple stories. Raef read 3 easy pages from the McGuffey Primer. I am taking a step back with him again since I am getting resistance. I am going to try to ease him back into reading, and in the mean time just saturate him with stories I will read to him. He really likes for me to read to him. I read "Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar" and they were both fascinated with it. This book will be good to read to them a lot so that they can understand the factorial principle (i.e. 10!=10x9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1). I get to learn lots of stuff too.

I found this wonderful language program that is based on the Suzuki Method. The kids memorize poems. They are really easy to start with and then get progressively harder. For example at one point they will learn "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll. This week they learned 3 poems: Ooey Gooey, Celery, and another one and I can't remember the title. As they memorize, so do I. I love that. I want to have beautiful language in my head too. It is great.

There is so much to learn...we are having a lot of fun together.

This is now my official educational philosophy: Drip, drip, drip...trickle, trickle, trickle.

It really works. I didn't do as much history as I would have liked to do and we only did an art class once. So next week, I know I need to get those in more as well.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


This was a big day in the our household.

1. Eli rolled over from his back to him stomach.

2. Eli is a solid sitter now.

3. Raef can whistle.

We are reaching important milestones everyday.

(I would post some pictures, but my camera has disappeared.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Difference Between Raising Multiples and One

My friend Corinne has a cute blog called Momma Sassy. It is like a little magazine and she asked me to write about my experience having multiples and having one. I am going to reprint it here for my records, but make sure to check out her website. It is a fun one.

My name is Kelly and I have been married for 12 years. I have twin boys, Raef and Zach, who are 6 years old and a 5 month old named Eli. These are just a few observations about the difference between having twins and having one.

When you wake up in the middle of the night, you know for sure which baby you are holding because there is only one. Sometimes it would take me hours to realize that I was holding Zach, when I thought for sure it was Raef in my arms.

Baby slings/carriers are actually relevant this time around. When it was just me toting my twins around, those kinds of things were just out of the question.

When I go to the store to buy clothes for Eli, I don’t have to worry about the price so much. If the price tag says $10, it actually means $10. With my twins, $10 = $20. Yes, I know some stores will give you a twin discount, but it is really negligible and not very common.

Now it is half the diapers, no bottles (nothing to clean), no formula, and more money in my pocket.

I only need one crib, and I haven’t even gotten around to buying one yet. Eli is still sleeps in a portable crib.

Loading Eli into the car is a lot less stressful than when I had to do the same thing for my twins. I had to be very strategic about how I would put them into the car so that they were not left unattended in a parking lot. I would always start on the passenger side and put Zach in and then pull Raef out of the stroller and put him in his car seat on the driver’s side. Then I could quickly put the stroller away and get in the car myself. There was one time when I was getting ready to put them in the car and the stroller started to roll away by itself. Both of my boys almost took a dangerous jaunt through a parking lot. Like I said, loading the kids in the car could get stressful.

I only had a two-stop limit before I had to go home. Loading and unloading and loading and unloading was a chore in and of itself. That is why I was so grateful for Super Wal-Mart. I could get everything in one store…Hallelujiah!

Grocery shopping was a major ordeal as well. When they were tiny I would just wait for my husband to get home and then go shopping. However, as soon as Raef was old enough to sit up by himself I devised a new strategy that worked really well. I would put him in the shopping cart and then put Zach in a backpack. It was great. I was the ultimate multi-tasker.

I always wished that they sold baby food by the case because I would buy at least 50 jars in one trip and it was a pain to put it in the cart, take it out of the cart, put it back in the cart, etc. I just bought baby food for Eli today and I noticed that the volume was significantly less.

If Eli gets fussy, I can pick him up and haul him around the house and still do other things. When one of the twins got fussy, I would pick him up but I couldn’t really go anywhere because I had to watch the other one also. I was always a little bit envious of Gumby. His skills would have come in handy, for sure.

My kids have always been great sleepers, so I really can’t complain about that.

Whenever my kids decided to get sick it was always, always Friday afternoon as soon as the doctor’s office had closed. It was quite a juggling act to get them to the Urgent Care and still take care of the other one. And then when there was an accident, you really have to improvise.

One time, and I have absolutely no idea how this happened, Zach lodged his head in between the slats of a stool and I could not get his head out. He was stuck inside the stool. I really freaked out. He was probably a little over a year old. He was crying and Raef was really crying because he was worried for his brother. I had to put Raef behind the gate so he wouldn’t interfere in our extraction efforts. Then I ran across the street frantically to get my neighbor. I had to leave the kids where they were. When we got back, I tried lubing him up with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to pull him out. It did not work. So then I got a small hack saw and sawed the slat off, with my neighbor holding Zach down, and I was able to extricate him. I was very upset from this so I sent Raef back with my friend and then gave Zach a bath and tried to calm myself down. Who knew a regular old stool could be so diabolically dangerous? If this type of thing happens to Eli, I can have one of my twins hold him down while I saw. I already have the experience I need to deal with this kind of crisis, no EVOO needed.

The twins always have a friend, which really came in handy the older they got. I will have to put more effort into reaching out to other kids Eli’s age or he will probably drive me crazy.

My husband was much more involved in the nurturing of the twins. He was able to bottle-feed one of them every day and he changed a lot more diapers. He did so much. With Eli, the burden is so small that I do just about everything and I don’t really think about it. I nurse him exclusively, so no bottles are needed. Diapers seem almost non-existent compared to having two babies so Rinar doesn’t need to do very much. Don’t get me wrong, he wants to take care of Eli any chance he gets, but the chances are quite a bit less than before. I haven’t asked him how he feels about that, but I probably should. I wonder if he misses those moments that he had with the twins, when it comes to Eli?

I am very grateful I had my twins first. A single birth is soooo much easier. I would dread doing it the other way around. Kudos to anyone in that boat!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Juvenile Rheumetoid Arthritis

I have been thinking about this for a while, and I have finally decided that I wanted to write about my life with Juvenile Rhuemetoid Arthritis. If this is not something you are interested in, then you can skip this post.

I had always thought of myself as a healthy little kid. I didn't have vivid memories of earlier childhood, but apparently when I was around 4-5 years old, my parents said I got really sick. They had to give me my own room so that I could get lots of extra sleep. They did't know what was wrong with me and neither did the pediatrician. My parents did tell me that I had this large mushy bump on my wrist and the doctor whacked it with a heavy book, and then it went away. I also was subjected to strange diets like no butter or chocolate or things like that.

When I was about eight years old, I was standing at the bus stop with all of my schoolmates waiting like everyone else. I didn't have anything particular on my mind. I remember that it was an overcast day, but the weather was fair and rather pleasant. I was wearing pink jelly shoes. Don't you remember those? They are now back in style. A boy that I didn't really know, yelled out in disgust as he was pointing at my feet, "Ew, what happened to your feet?" I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. I looked down at my feet and there were identical mushy bumps on the tops of the outsides of my feet. Underneath my ankle bones on the insides of my feet were two very pointy bumps. I was embarassed. I had no idea there was anything wrong with my feet. I had never noticed it before. So, from that point on, I stopped wearing sandals. The bumps never went away. I didn't know what it was, but it didn't hurt, so there was really no point in worrying about it, I thought.

Fast forward 3-4 years... I really started to get involved in sports. I loved to play basketball and I planned on trying out for my middle school team. In North Carolina, you are required to get a physical before you can play organized sports. My Dad took my to the doctor and they did the whole examination. Finally, the exam was over and the doctor non-chalantly asked me if I had any questions about anything. That is when I asked her about my feet...

After 2 other doctors had looked at my feet, they decided it would be a good idea to extract the fluid out of one of the bumps with an exceptionally long needle. It was a horrifying experience, but at least the bump was gone, right? {the bump came back and then some in about 3 weeks, or so} They also took my blood.

***Note to all readers: never let a doctor extract fluid out of your joints, no matter what they say!!!

After a few weeks had passed, my Dad took me to the grocery store and as we were walking around, he informed me that he thought I had arthritis. Huh? Arthritis? Are you kidding me? Isn't that a disease for old people? I really didn't have a clue what to think but I was scared.

The pediatrician referred me to Dr. Deborah Kredich (she was an amazing doctor) at Duke University. She was actually a specialist in pediatric Rheumatology. This is a highly specialized field and the Lord truly blessed me that I lived in the right place at the right time so that I could get a correct diagnosis from a lady who knew what she was talking about. The first appointment must have taken about 8 hours. It was draining. Dr. Kredich came in and examined me and made the diagnosis: Polyarticular Juvenile Rhuemetoid Arthritis. She prescribed 10 esoteric aspirins per day and leg braces. Yes, I had to take that many aspirins every day, even though I don't think I ever consistently took all of them. The aspirin made my ears ring, but I was always good at taking them on a full stomach, so I never had any type of stomach problems. The leg braces were a whole other story.

Once I finished my exam with Dr. Kredich, I went with a tech to get leg braces made. They made them there on the spot. I had to wear leg braces for about a year because there was so much fluid on my legs, they were afraid that it would cause my legs to grow crooked, so at night while I was sleeping I wore the braces to keep my legs straight. They were made of this plastic that had large holes in it. They put red velcro straps in four places along the length of the leg. When I would wake up in the morning, my knees would be swollen even more and it took a lot of effort to get my leg moving again. It was very painful.

After a while, the swelling went away and I had fairly good movement in my joints. I had to go to the doctor all the time. They wanted to check my aspirin levels to make sure they were never too high. It was an unusual test and every single time I went to the lab, the phlebotomist had to get the big book out to look it up. It really became comical after a while. And every time you told them what it was, they never believed you.

I would always get anxious about getting my blood drawn. It was not because it hurt. It was because I was constantly forgetting to take my medication, and I was afraid I would get into trouble. After a while, Dr. Kredich added Naproxen (which was a prescription at the time) to my drug regimen.

I stayed very active all through middle school and high school. It was part of my treatment. I had to stay active to keep the muscles around my joints strong. Inactivity was a big no-no. When you have arthritis, you don't want to move. You don't want to do anything, but you have to force yourself to do things you don't want to do. To this day, I still have a natural aversion to picking things up off the ground, sitting on the ground, and the ground in general. It requires way too much bending. Yet, these are things that I really cannot avoid, no matter how much I try. I ran track, cross-country, played basketball and softball. At one point, I was pretty good.

My senior year, things took a turn for the worse. Dr Kredich was not there for my appointment and a new doctor decided to change all of my medication. It was less pills, but they were potent. After a few months, I started to get acid washing, churning, broiling headaches every day at about 2 o'clock. I also got this acid build up in my left calf. It was horrible. If you touched it, it would cause excruciating pain. And on top of all of these side effects, my knees were huge! She really messed me up. I had to ace-bandage my leg for months. This doctor also thought it would be a good idea to inject my knees to get rid of the swelling. I was absolutely terrified!

Yet, I was obedient, so my sister took me to the appointment. Remember, Duke University is a learning hospital and I had two perfectly good knee specimens for residents to practice their injection procedure. I already am very protective of my knees. If they get poked in anyway, it hurts. Little children are the worst culprits at hurting my knees, by poking and prodding me. I am usually pretty good at protecting myself. But here I was at Duke, completely vulnerable and scared to death...and for good reason. They just used a topical analgesic, no little needle before the big needle. Each knee took about 5 minutes each while the doctor talked to the students as they slowly tortured me, with NO PAIN MEDICATION!!!! It is like getting your teeth pulled without the novocaine.

When they finished, I sat up and then fainted off the bed, smack onto the floor. I was out cold.

I actually did this procedure again at a regular doctor's office about a year later, and he used the little needle first, and it hardly hurt at all. It really ticked me off to think about what I had gone through before. I guess that was my one and only contribution to science, thank you very much.

My first job was at a retirement home as a waitress. I had never been on my feet that long, just standing around. My knees got so swollen that I could barely bend them, maybe 30 degrees or so. A lady dropped her fork on the ground and asked me to pick it up and that was a very painful experience for me. Even now, I don't like standing around for long periods of time for that reason. If I am at a museum, or a clothing store, or wherever, I always try to keep moving or I can feel my knees swelling up. I have explained this to my husband, so that he can understand why I am always 3 steps ahead of him.

Since I have been married, I decided not to take any medication at all. Occasionally I will take an anti-inflammatory as needed. However, I have come to realize that Rheumatologists in general do not know very much about this disease. I have been fortunate in that I don't have a lot of pain in the joints that are infected (which is just about every joint in my body). I just have restricted movement. Doctors will just start throwing pills at you, and I don't find that they help anymore than eating right and exercising (yoga is especially effective when I work up the courage to go). Also, in the experiences that I have had visiting doctors in adulthood, I feel like a victim. I feel weak and helpless. I know that this is not true. I am strong and can do many things. I just have limitations. I don't like feeling like a victim...ever.

The times when I have felt the worst as an adult have a direct correlation to the things that I eat and how much exercise I get. There was a time when I could make a subtle movement and have a hip joint go out of the socket. I was in really bad shape. It is a very painful. So, you just keep moving it around until it pops back into place. You can actually hear it pop. Its great! This made me realize that my joints will go out of their sockets because the muscles and tendons around them are weak. When I do strength training, this type of thing happens very infrequently.

I ususally don't think about having arthritis, but these past few weeks my knees have had a lot of fluid on them. It keeps me humble, but it doesn't slow me down too much. I also get the feeling that I live with a lot more pain than I realize, but I guess you can get used to anything. Humans are very adaptable.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Poop and Pedicures Make Me Dance

I had a couple interesting things happen to me today.

1. I put Eli in a Jumping Johnny up in the office while Zach sat right next to him and played the computer. While they were doing that I went downstairs to practice the violin with Raef. We practiced for about 20 minutes or so. Then Raef headed upstairs so he could play the computer too. However, at the top of the stairs Raef frantically called my name. Why, you may ask?

My sweet little baby was dancing in his own poop! That's right. He had his bowel movement, which seems to come with a bang about every 3 days. And all of that bang came out of the diaper and landed on the carpet beneath him, which happened to be where he was stepping and spinning around. It was disgusting, but Eli was so happy. Since it was that bad I just stared at him and was trying to figure where to begin. I took him out and gave him a bath, then cleaned up the bathroom floor from where all the poop smeared, then I got rid of the diaper. Then I tackled the floor and the Jumping Johnny. It was great. As my friend Jared always says, "Good times!"

2. Rinar and I went on a date tonight. We ate at Pei Wei and then headed over to the mall so he could get his glasses fixed. Lenscrafters was too busy, so we had to ex that plan. However, as we were headed over to the sporting goods store, my husband saw a salon and thought it would be a great idea to get a pedicure. He was adamant about it. So we got settled in with our gossip magazines, massage chairs and got two fabulous pedicures.

Rinar asked me how many times I had gotten a pedicure before. I told him once, when we went to Florida and his company paid for it. He thought I had gone more than that, with a girlfriend or something like that, like Melanie, let's say. I looked at him like he was crazy and said, "Do you know my friends? They don't get pedicures!"

It was Rinar's first pedicure so it was a very special moment in his life.

So I went to the mall with my BFF, huh?
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