Sunday, December 9, 2012

Catching up again

So, what's been happening for the last two months? More of the same, mostly, which is one of the reasons we haven't been posting much.

After another 2 rounds of antibiotics Eliza finally fought off her colds and ear infections for a while, getting a much-needed break from snotty noses, fitful sleeping, and general discomfort. Since she'd had such a rough time even so early in the fall cold and flu season, we decided to go ahead with getting ear tubes placed. It took a while to get an appointment for the surgery - she even came down with another new cold before then! - but she finally had the tubes placed two weeks ago. Seems to be healing fine so far and no more infections yet, so fingers crossed that the good health continues.

We took Eliza to the NC State Fair in mid October (just like last year) with mixed success. We went first thing in the morning to beat the crowds, but as a result it was still very chilly outside and Eliza was less than thrilled to be out and about in the cold and having to wear her warm coat. She liked seeing the animals inside the expo center, though, especially the goats and donkeys. We had the speedy tour of the fair since we were in and out after only 45 minutes, but we pretty much saw everything we wanted to see nonetheless!

Then and now!

The next weekend we took Eliza on the Bull City Coop Tour to visit different backyard chicken coops around Durham. Eliza liked the chickens a lot (which is a good thing since we're raising some birds of our own... but more on that in a separate post.) We even got interviewed and mentioned in a local newspaper article by name - Eliza's first taste of fame!

Also in October, Aunt Hannah and Uncle Bizzy brought Cousin Benjamin up to visit us and we all took Eliza and Benji to go "trunk-or-treating". Eliza was unsure at first, until she realized that the event was all about picking what she wanted out of a bucket, and then she quickly became a fan.

We also took her trick-or-treating on Halloween proper - though with Eliza's early bedtime, we had to go before the sun even set, so we were the first family out and about by a good margin!

Also of note: by the end of the month, Eliza's hair was getting long enough to pull up into a topknot or pigtails. Super cute!

Well, that's at least a start at getting caught back up on the blog. Future posts hopefully coming soon: the never-ending chicken coop and getting into the Christmas season.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sick Baby

Eliza's had a really rough couple of months. She's been sick on and off for the past 7 weeks. Runny nose, cough, and congestion. Of course the nights have been the worst with coughing fits and lots of retching and throwing up mucus. This week, after finishing up a round of antibiotics for a second ear infection within the last 2 months, I took her back in to the pediatrician since the snot was still pouring and the coughing was worse.

The good news is that the cough is just due to the post nasal drip, even though it sounds bad. The bad news? The ear infection has turned into a double ear infection and sinus infection! UGH! So she has a superbug that's pretty resistant to antibiotics. The pediatrician decided it was time to get out the big guns since this has been going on so long. Now we are on to injection antibiotics which means she has to get a shot in each leg 3 days in a row... then we start on a stronger oral antibiotics to make sure this bug dies for good. It's pretty scary thinking about how resistant it's been to the drugs so far and it starts setting off alarms in my head about total antibiotic resistance (!) but at the same time its just as serious to let this bug keep going.

By the way the new antibiotic is super thick which means extra big needle. UGH!!! Poor baby. She is so amazingly tough though. With as exhausted as she must be from poor sleep and being in pain you really wouldn't know it.. could just chalk it up to an extra clingy period. I wish I was as tough as her! :)

Here's hoping we are done with this very soon!

P.S Also good news: Doc says she isn't contagious.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Newest Milestone..

for Eliza is waving! She waves "Hi" and "Bye" and it is one of the cutest things I've seen her do! She's even waved a few times unprompted. Today at her first dentist appointment (yikes!) they have a giant saltwater fish tank with really large beautiful fish and Eliza started waving to the fish! I wish I'd thought to take a video of it!

Eliza really likes fish and its one of her newest signs. I think we might have to get a fish tank at some point. Eliza knows 5 signs now: please, book, music, more, and fish. I love the baby signing time videos!

Also tied for most heart-warming things ever: Eliza likes to get kisses back and forth from each parent a few times in a row and then she literally pushes us together for us to kiss, then repeats the whole process again. It's a ritual she's created all on her own. Oh my gosh it's just too sweet!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Two-year-old's silhouette

Continuing a tradition we started last year, I made a silhouette of Eliza at age two. I think it's the best one I've done yet. I'm really happy with how her hair and eyelashes turned out.

For comparison, here's her previous two silhouettes:

How much she's changed in the past year is clear even in her silhouette. She's definitely a kid now, no longer a baby!

For anyone who cares about the nerdy details...

All three of these silhouettes were done with the GNU Image Manipulation Program (a free, open-source Photoshop clone). I started in each case with a profile photograph of Eliza against a high-contrast background (this year I got smart and had her pose in front of a white sheet of posterboard), then used a combination of the polygonal lasso selection tool, the pen tool, and image threshold/levels filters to create the silhouette. Of these three, threshold and levels is the fastest technique (but the least realistic as a silhouette, as it tends to make blurry or overly rough edges), the polygonal lasso tool produces good results very quickly but is hard to fine-tune afterwards, and the pen tool is more time-consuming but infinitely adjustable. (The pen tool is how I did Heather's veil in our wedding silhouette - couldn't have done that any other way.) My approach for this latest silhouette was to use the polygonal lasso tool for her face and the outline of her head, then use the pen tool for her hair since that required the most fiddling to get right. I think it was a very successful approach!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Two years past

Thinking about our babies today. Wondering what Oliver and Charlotte would be like today and wishing Eliza had her siblings around her. Can't believe it's been 2 years today since getting to hold Oliver for the first and last time.

Sending up lots of love to both Oliver and Charlotte today. It would mean a lot to us if you could send up some love and hugs today as well. 

 Love you forever sweet babies!  xx

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Eliza's Second Year

Eliza turned two years old yesterday! (It was a weird - but good - feeling, waking up this morning as the father of a two-year-old!) Here's a video slideshow of the last year:

After last year's debacle, I was determined to start early and use a different program from last year, so this time instead of Picasa or Windows Movie Maker, I used iMovie '09. While still not a perfect program by any means, it was a lot easier and less frustrating than the other programs, and we're very happy with the resulting video.

(Previously: Eliza's First Year)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Wow such a long time since the last post! This is a good one though... Eliza took her first steps in her walker last Tuesday during physical therapy!!! It was completely amazing to watch her figure it out. She was concentrating ever so hard to get her legs going the right direction. I definitely had the biggest smile on my face!

Please take a look at our oh-so-happy moment!

We love Eliza's PT! Unfortunately she is moving far away soon so we won't be able to see her anymore and we are so sad! Thanks for helping us make such great progress the last 7 months!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Baby's got a new pair of shoes!

Those of you that see us often have probably noticed that Eliza is usually barefoot or just wearing socks. It's not (just!) that I am too cheap to buy shoes for a non-walker. It's actually (you guessed it) another micro preemie thing. She has extra small feet for her size but in addition to that she's always had very little movement in them. Typical children move their feet around a lot, figuring out how to make them work, putting pressure on them, and uncurling their toes (this all stimulates growth and change in feet too). Eliza has just started doing this in the last couple months...before that she always held them still and stiff (which is really bad for blood circulation too). Being barefoot encourages the movement in her feet so her Physical Therapist has always recommended to keep her barefoot as much as possible. But now we have a new pair of special shoes for Eliza from her PT! We call them her 'clod hoppers' cause they are extra wide and heavy to give her a bigger base to try standing. They are so cute on her and they really help with making her feel more relaxed while practicing standing. Eliza is doing an amazing job at pulling up to stand! As with all Eliza's motor skills we have to work on it over and over and over and over! But it sure pays off....


Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Last month, we spent a week in north Georgia on vacation. Heather's parents rented a cabin in Ellijay and invited the whole family to come stay with them for the week.  It was a very relaxing week, with nothing on the agenda except good food, good company, playing with babies, playing board games, and occasionally tubing down the river that ran through the back yard. While we were there, we also got to celebrate her parents' 35th wedding anniversary! Here are a few pictures from the week.

Happy anniversary, Pops and Nana!

...So much baby love...

Eliza and her Uncle Bizzy

Cousins - you just KNOW these two will be causing trouble together soon!

 Baby Benjamin, relaxing with his parents

Glenn's parents were able to come visit for an afternoon

 Eliza showing off her "monkey face" - what more is there to say?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Feeding Tube Tribulations, Part 2

Continued from this post...

Everything went pretty smoothly that Friday night. Saturday morning we noticed that it was much more awkward to connect her extension tube to the button but we didn't really think too much about it. Saturday night Eliza started puking formula. If you've been paying attention you know that that's not supposed to happen while being fed through the J port because there shouldn't be anything in her stomach. Sunday too we could tell she was a little more uncomfortable during her feeds but since it was the weekend we just tried to hang tight until Monday.

After talking to the GI nurse on Monday she asked us to come in for an X-ray and possibly to have the tube replaced. She said that if Eliza was puking formula during J feeds then the J tube most likely had changed positions and was coiled in her stomach instead of feeding into her intestine like it should be. I asked if this was a common occurrence for G/J tubes and she said "It does happen, but never this quickly."

And exactly as predicted the tube was curled in her stomach, in the wrong place. Fortunately the re-placement of this tube went much smoother. I requested some lidocaine for her belly since she was already so sore. The resident was extremely quick, efficient and actually acknowledged Eliza and talked to her throughout the whole procedure which probably took 10 mins. After questioning the radiology folks about why this happened so fast they said we needed to make sure we weren't rotating the exterior "button" of the tube. This is fine with her old G tube, but not with a G/J tube because of the problems it can cause with the J tubing inside her, as we had discovered. It would have been nice if anyone had warned us about that, because when we'd had the button previously placed on Friday, they'd put it in "upside down" so that when we hooked the feeding tube up to it the tube was running up her body toward her face instead of down and out of the way. Naturally after a couple of rounds of that annoyance, Glenn had just turned it around right side up to fix the problem - whoops! Thankfully this time it was put in right side up from the start.

After all this chaos I talked to our Gastroenterologist and we discussed if there were any more problems with the G/J tube we would have to come up with a plan C or D since we weren't willing to continue subjecting Eliza to this. Fortunately we haven't had anything else this dramatic happen with her tube since then (knocking on wood here). She had several weeks of soreness and sensitivity that made everything a little tricky and I think it took her a while to get used to NOT having anything in her stomach at night.

All in all I think the G/J has helped us get a little closer to some of our original goals. The puking is a little better. The interest in eating was (yes, I said "was"!) better. Her comfort at night seems better.

But after a couple months I think we've realized that it's not going to be the only answer. The GERD and interest in eating aren't enough better. So we've continued looking into additional ideas, trials, medical professionals and approaches. We have also been advised to start considering an intense in-patient feeding clinic. There are a few around the country but none in North Carolina. We are looking at ones in Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey. I've heard and read that these can make a huge difference in a child with feeding issues so we are hoping to get on the waiting list for one in the not too distant future. A few of the negatives - questionable insurance coverage, 6 month waiting lists, 4-6 week stay at the clinic (for all of us- no idea how this would work for Glenn). So nothing definite so far, a lot to research and think about, but it's a next step we're considering.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Feeding tube tribulations

So that was funny huh? My sincere post about posting more and then I don't post anything for a month. Good going self! :)

There's been a lot going on with Eliza's feeding tube over the last month. I've been very slow to update about the fiasco we've had with Eliza's tube because its been ongoing but think we are finally moving out out of the chaos now. Hold on to your butts, long post ahead.

Oh about 6 weeks ago now (holy cow 6 weeks already) Eliza had a GI procedure. As mentioned before, Eliza has a case of reflux (GERD) not to be laughed at. There's been many a day we've cleaned up 4-5 projectile vomits a day. According to Eliza's Gastroenterologist most infant (and preemie-related in our case) reflux gets significantly better by age one. Since Eliza's only got worse instead, he wanted to rule out eosinophilic esophagitis that can cause reflux. He also wanted to get a good look at her esophagus and stomach to make sure everything looked typical. We also discussed getting her G tube replaced with a G/J tube (I'll discuss this more in a second). So since she was going to be under anesthesia for the upper GI scope anyway, we decided to go ahead and get the G/J tube placed as well, since it would require dilating her current g-tube tract up 2 sizes and this would be an extremely uncomfortable and drawn-out process for her if awake.

So first, the results of the scope and exam. We now know that she fortunately does NOT have eosinophilic esophagitis! The procedure also found her esophagus looks typical - for a child with reflux. However, Eliza's GI is concerned about a piece of tissue (pancreatic rest) in her stomach that is attached adjacent to her pyloric sphincter (as of course you MUST know, that's the opening to her small intestine). Basically, it could be intermittently blocking the formula's exit from her stomach into her intestines. He has seen this in another child that had regular vomiting and once they removed the tissue her vomiting stopped. But since we still have lots to think about with reflux, the plan is to leave this be for now.

Back to the G/J tube. This is an attempt to help Eliza with the reflux and also with oral feeding. G/J's look very similar to G tube buttons on the outside except with an extra port. But the structure is a lot different on the inside. There is a long tube connected to the extra port that is threaded into her small intestines (jejunum). Basically she can be fed into her stomach through the "G" port (like usual for her) or we can use the other "J" port to bypass her stomach completely and feed her directly into her small intestine (modern-day science is a crazy thing eh?). Of course formula has to be fed at a much slower rate through the J port, since intestines cannot handle large amounts of food at a time (otherwise known as a "bolus" in feeding tube world) but since she was already getting fed continuously overnight this wasn't going to be a big change for us. 

Some people require this type of tube because they can't tolerate or digest food in the stomach but for Eliza the situation is a little different.  The hope and plan for the G/J with Eliza is to: 1) be able to feed her a little more formula overnight on continuous J feeds and also eliminate any overnight vomiting (since there wouldn't be anything in her stomach to vomit) 2) be able to reduce amount we feed her by G tube during the day therefore also decreasing reflux during the day 3) Decrease her feeling of fullness (and discomfort) during the day 4) Having all of these combine to form a more encouraging environment for eating orally - less reflux, less vomiting, and less fullness should make for a baby who wants to eat more!

So the initial procedure to place the tube went pretty well! I was worried about anesthesia due to her past troubles with adrenal insufficiency. I asked the Anesthesiologist to keep a close eye on her and she did fine and woke up quickly. I asked our GI specialist about getting a back up G/J tube in case this one falls out (like her g tube has in the past) and he told me we don't get a back up since this type of tube can only be placed with use of a x-ray (fluoroscope to be specific -- but folks round the hospital just refer to it as radiology). Therefore we must come back to the hospital if anything happens to the tube.
Dun dun dun...

Next day: Eliza's tube started acting suspicious and right at 4:30pm it partly fell out. We taped it down to her belly so the whole thing wouldn't fall out... because if it did, her tract could rapidly shrink closed or even seal up entirely, which would need more surgery! Now with the timing of this incident (radiology closes early it seems) we had to go to the ER to get it fixed. Unbeknownst to us, the ER department can't place a G/J any more than we can - it seems they don't have a fluoroscope either. A resident fished a g-tube button out of the bowels of the hospital (literally what he said) for us to use in the meantime and off we went back home. (As it turns out the balloon that was supposed to hold the tube in place for months, was defective.)

Next day: Back to children's hospital, radiology department, and under the fluoroscope to get a new G/J placed. Mind you this is the 3rd time in 3 days Eliza's belly has been massively manipulated. Furthermore since we go to a teaching hospital the residents have to give it a good go first before they let the attending radiologist step in to get it properly placed. (Side note: Why do the parents have to hold their child down for these types of things? I want to be the soother, not the torturer thank you.. and making us do both things simultaneously pretty much means we're gonna suck at one or the other of those. One guess for which one!)  Ugh it was pretty horrible for all of us. But it was done and Eliza took a good nap after that. Did I mention this was a Friday? Yep dun dun dun again.

To be continued in part 2....

Friday, May 25, 2012

Beach Trip

For Mother's Day weekend, we were invited to join Heather's parents on Hilton Head Island. Since Eliza's last beach trip, she's grown so much and made so much progress developmentally (even if my prediction that "next year, we'll be one of the families walking hand in hand with their toddlers" was a bit overly optimistic) that it's hard to believe it's been less than a year since then.

The beach in mid-May turns out to be a bit early in season for Eliza's liking - though she enjoyed sitting and playing in the sand, the chilly breeze and bright sun (hardly a cloud in the sky!) were more than she wanted to handle for an extended period of time. After a half hour at the beach, trying to eat handfuls of sand and rubbing her eyes against the brightness and wind, she was well and truly coated with sand, so that counts as a successful beach trip right there. Across the three days we were there, we probably only spent an hour total on the beach, but it was fun anyway and good for Eliza too.

We spent more time at the hotel pools than at the beach. I'm not sure Eliza even noticed how cool the water still was - we got her out when she started to turn blue but I think if it was up to her she would have stayed in longer. She really likes being in the water lately! Bath time is probably her favorite time of day at home, and in the pool, floating free in her ring (with us nearby of course) really made her happy. We're signed up for swim classes with her in June and are really looking forward to it!

Since the official reason for the beach trip was a Rotary Club district conference (for Heather's dad), we were also able to cross paths with my brother Paul and his wife Michele, who were there for the same reason. It was the first time we'd had a chance to see them since December, so it was a very welcome visit. Unfortunately I didn't think to take even a single picture with them and Eliza!

That's enough news for one post, I think. Hopefully another post soon!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Apparently keeping this blog up-to-date has somehow fallen off of my to-do list. Along with grocery shopping. I don't think I have been in 3-4 weeks. Luckily, I had (HAD!) a decent stock of food and we get a weekly delivery from the farm so no real lack of food here.

I've been struggling with what's happening with this blog and that's been demotivating for doing any updating. Lately it's evolved into an irregular, sanitized, and general update to family, friends and whoever else wants to read. Ideally I would like to see it be more of an accurate, day-to-day view at Eliza's childhood. The ups and the downs and all the nitty gritty in between. I think we've tended lately to highlight just the positives and especially the "normal" child milestones. Probably cause it's easier, and we don't want to feel like we are complaining about any of the downs or the struggles that we go through....cause people definitely have it much worse.  But this is our story and I think we owe it to ourselves and to Eliza to document it completely and honestly.

Perhaps others are also interested in a closer view of one baby's (and her parents') journey through overcoming her much too early beginnings, and perhaps not. But even if not, this is Eliza's only baby book, so we need to at least keep it current for her! Poor kid, she doesn't get anything normal.

So we will see if we can manage to make changes around here... since living the nitty-gritty seems to take time away from writing about it. :)

And to make up for all that  philosophizing here are cute pictures of babies (from way back at Easter, woops!)


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Any resemblance?

Looking through pictures of Eliza from last month, we were struck by one in particular. Eliza seems to be looking more like her Daddy lately, don't you think?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Plane Ride

Eliza took her very first plane ride over Easter weekend. We were super nervous since we decided to fly "Infant in Arms" instead of buying her own seat. (Cheapskates.) We had valid reasons for concern. Eliza likes to constantly move, my friends. Sitting contently on a lap? No. She is a wiggle worm; she pulls, yanks, tears, puts-in-mouth everything she can reach. We were also overwhelmed thinking about lugging a bunch of baby stuff, and a baby, around the airport. Plus, we didn't want to pay (cheapskates) to check any bags. Therefore due to some very creative (skimpy) packing and my mom having a well-stocked house, we ended up only taking 2 small rolling suitcases, a backpack, a diaper bag, and one large toddler car seat. This feat of minimalism would've been hard to accomplish if we were going anywhere other than Nana's house, but for this trip it worked!

After doing some research on traveling with a car seat I came across this little gadget: traveling toddler car seat strap. It was inexpensive (remember, cheapskates?) and a good solution! It basically turns one roller case and car seat into a stroller. It was pretty easy too. It took a little practice to get the tightness of the straps right but once at the airport things went fairly smoothly:
1. Take car seat out of car and decrease recline of seat. 
2. Use strap to attach seat to case with LATCH system. (A matter of click, click and tighten)
3. Unclick at security and put everything on conveyor for x-rays.
4. Reattach easily on the other side (while juggling baby and waiting for spouse to get the full-body pat-down by a TSA officer).
5. Nod and agree with strangers about what a good invention it is. (the strap, not the pat-down)
6. Planeside, detach and check car seat into baggage, and carry baby onto plane. 

Pretty painless! 

Riding the concourse train in ATL

As for baby wrangling while on the plane: It went pretty well too. I think it would have been impossible for one person to keep her contained for the whole flight, but with two of us, it went just fine! Eliza spent a lot of time climbing between Glenn and me, leaning backwards to check out the aisle and people, looking at books, listening to us sing at her, shaking rattles, slobbering on Delta cookies, and making friends with some of the flight attendants. She even got her picture with the pilot in the cockpit! (After we landed, of course!)

She looks a little freaked here but she gave him a shy smile right before this. :)

He's Here!

My nephew made his long awaited appearance on Friday, March 30th!  This was 6 whole days before our scheduled trip down to Georgia to meet him. I kept telling myself it was only few more days, and that worked on Friday... but by Saturday morning I couldn't wait any longer and I was in the car making the long drive to GA on my own. Glenn was awesome to handle the house and Eliza for the weekend and he even downloaded a digital audiobook for me to listen to on the drive.  Good hubby isn't he?!

I am so proud of my sister! My nephew is a super cute, sleepy, and healthy little man. I was so honored to be there for the first couple days of his life!

Benjamin - born 8 lb, 8 oz, 21 inches long. What a cutie!

As a side note: apparently there are still hospitals out there that haven't gotten the message that “breast is best”. Theirs was one of those hospitals. When a woman wants to breastfeed and you deter her and suggest that it is NOT what is best for baby? CRAZY. We're still shocked about that one!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Coming soon!

My sister is having a baby any day now! We are so excited to meet the new baby boy! I can't wait for Eliza to meet him and have a new cousin to play with. In February we threw my sister a shower to help her get ready for this new, exciting, and expensive time in their lives! We had a great group of people join us and I had a good time creating things for the shower. I left all the yummy, creative food prep and coordination to my mom, grandmother, and aunt and they did an amazing job! I wanted to share a few pictures on here from the shindig, but of course I completely forgot to take even one picture. :( I think that makes me a very bad at this blogging thing. Fortuitously my brother-in-law took some pictures. We went with a "Cute as a Button" theme for the shower.

The yummy food spread

Another of the food and  the flower arrangement created by my grandmother

My gorgeous sister

The loot! Also, a beautiful afghan by my mother for baby b.

Trike diaper cake. My mom and I had fun putting this guy together!

Button cake, cake pops and pretzels. Cake was red velvet with cream cheese icing and fondant buttons!

Close up of fondant buttons created by my mom

Shadow box of invitation and button flowers

'Cute as a button' cookie favors that my mom outdid herself on. These were super cute. Sorry no close up picture of these!

Button flower arrangement. These were a lot of fun to make and hunt buttons for.

My nephew's nursery. My sister did a great job of putting together this room. It is so sweet and full of love. My mom, sister and I spent a few days over the holidays making these yarn eggs and I think they look great hanging in the corner. 


I made this fabric garland for the room. It's the same pattern of the one I made for Eliza's first birthday but with colors to match baby b's nursery.

Everything is ready (well, as ready as can be) for baby b so now we are just waiting to meet him. I know he will be cute as a button (or much cuter!) :)