Saturday, December 29, 2012

2013 Goals

At the very beginning of 2011, I set 11 goals, and then at the end of 2011, I reviewed them.  My "report card" wasn't awful :)  And if you read that last post-- I just want you to know that we finished the office and got to the Children's Museum last year and we have plans to celebrate in Vegas again.  I "promised" to set some goals for 2012-- well my direct quote was "Mine (2012 goals)  will be scaled back and just shy of 'survive the first year', but I still have some things I want to check off!"  Turns out "scaled back" means never even written down.  And, regardless, no one saw-- "research everything you know about Craniosynstosis and go to one million appointments and spend half the summer recovering your kid from skull surgery" coming.  So, I'm kinda glad I didn't set out a bunch of ambitious goals to conquer in 2012.  They likely wouldn't have gotten done anyway. 

In hindsight, and this is so limited and off the top of my head, 2012 did bring some great things.

* We did, in fact, survive the first year of Tucker's life.  I feel like taking care of babies must be harder for me than other women.  I have come to accept that.  That being said-- the first birthday is a nice milestone for Dave and me.  Normal sleep-deprived, demanding, teething baby stuff plus surgery was hard on our marriage and on us personally-- but we survived just fine. We love Tucker so gal-darn much, and I can certainly say this year was good for our faith.

* I joined Farrells in May (Happy Mothers Day to me-- you get to like yourself again!) and have kept my long-term commitment of staying active at minimum 4 days a week.  I have not noticed a big physical change, but I have noticed a huge mental change.  I have learned that working out is an incredible stress reliever for me.  It is exactly what I need to take care of myself in a way that frees up mental love and energy and patience for my family.  I feel stronger, more confident, and less like a hot-mess and I truly enjoy the workouts and people at the gym.  I would say my mental health is about as good as it has been since I had kids!  (Did you know that one 45 minute cardio workout has the same hormonal effect as one antidepressant Zoloft?) Plus, I know it is great for my overall and long-term health.  And I have gotten to the point where I miss it, and notice it, when I don't go.  I wish I would have lost more weight, but I am coming to terms with the reality that we "lose weight in the kitchen and get fit in the gym."  I credit keeping my cool this last year and even enjoying my summer to Farrells.  (And yes, I get a referral bonus.)

* I preached on Mother's Day-- something I love to do.  I hope someday in my life I get to do more public speaking.

I'm sure there are more.  Like, tons more.  But for the sake of the fussy baby at my feet, I will stop there and move on to the few goals I have for 2013.

1. Write an official will.  I need my friend Natalie's help on this one.  Natalie, put on your lawyer hat and help me and anyone reading this-- do I write a will?  Does a lawyer? Do I need a lawyer?  Why do I need a will if my life is fairly 'uncomplicated'?  What is a fair price to pay?  Is there some template I fill out?  How do I get started?  Anyway, I add this goal because I once served a client who was my age and had lost her husband to a freak accident.  They had a house and a kid-- no divorce, everything jointly-- and she said their lack of a will was really making her life more complicated then needed at the time, and she really encouraged me to write one.  Well, some clients you just never forget.  Also, I feel like everyone needs a lawyer and a prescription- writing medical professional as friends.  So thankful I have both.

2. Do a little emergency preparedness.  To not sound like a crazy, I would like to start a little tote or duffel bag or shelf designated for an emergency.  For more on the book I read, which really got me thinking about this in a practical way-- check out the old blog post here (specifically #4).

3. Redo my living room.  It is a little dated, and heaven knows I spend a lot of time in these four walls.  I am pretty tired of the brown walls/brown furniture combo.  And since paint is cheaper than furniture, I think this means some new paint and accessories, and a carpet cleaning which I have already scheduled.  You all know how much I love Legacy Carpet Cleaning.  Maybe I could have a piece of furniture recovered--- ohhh that is something to think about.  Any referrals?  Is that uber expensive? Maybe just a new accent piece.  Oh this is getting more expensive as I type.  Anyway, I keep thinking that while the room is cleared for the carpet is the perfect time to paint (because it is)-- and the carpets are scheduled for early January because I can't stand it any longer-- so I need to get Kim Hazlip out here and pick some paint and at least get the living room walls done.  The stairwell will be a big task, but we could technically do that after we put the furniture back in.  I do know a great paint-guy.  Maybe I should just call him :)  He could probably do in a morning what would take me three weeks.  Anyway, I'm so excited to do this.

4.  Get a pool pass, love it and use it.  Last summer, I still had a morning napper and two afternoon nappers (and an incision that couldn't get immersed), so we got a little blow up pool and used our "pool money" for a new sandbox out back.  But this summer, I will be down to "just" afternoon naps.  I have a few friends that use outdoor pools at a gym, which typically open much earlier than public pools-- and love the idea of a 9AM-1PM stretch at the pool.  They say it is less crowded, you can eat on the go, and then come home for rest time.  I am so IN.  Last summer I was hating my body.  So when I joined Farrells I told myself that "I will do whatever it takes to NOT stay in all next summer simply because I hate myself in a swim suit.  That is not fair to my kids."  So, I think I need to keep going to the gym and probably lose a little weight, maybe jump on the Isagenix bandwagon.  Last year I bought a swimsuit on clearance that I still really like.  I am also working with my doctor to get the red bumps off my arms.  And I might tan.  Or spray tan until I get a real tan.  Look out Prairie Life :)

5.  Maybe try something radically different with my hair.  I feel like I have had the same style since 8th grade (because I have).  My sweet hair lady is trying to talk me into a massive inverted bob this summer.  She said it would still "mostly" go into a ponytail and that we would need to really highlight it.  It looks cute on Pinterest :)

6.  Spend some quality time with Dave.  We are going back to Vegas in February to celebrate my 30th birthday (15 months late) with some of our Besties.  And I got him a hot air balloon ride for Christmas.  And we would just love to schedule a regular sitter, or at least intentionally get out more-- to dinner, or a movie, or Starbucks and a walk after bedtimes for goodness sake.

7.  Memorize more scripture.

That's it.  At least this year they got written down!  How about you?  Do you have any goals that you need to write down?  Thanks for listening to mine!

On the journey,

Monday, October 22, 2012

the unDisciplined life

Have I mentioned how much I love my Monday/Wednesday mornings?  Allow me to feel just a little guilty that I drop Dekker off at preschool, then come home in time for Tucker's morning nap.  Then, I turn my iPod on, which I recently updated for the first time since 2010, and do "other things"-- like Bible study, cleaning the kitchen in peace, laundry-- and sometimes I institute a "30 minutes of quiet" time.  Meaning I sit quietly for 30 minutes with no TV, music, phone, etc.  (Dekker rarely naps in the afternoons on the days I am at home with him, so I am learning to cherish that 30 minutes.)  Anyway, I do sometimes feel guilty that Dekker is gone on my mornings "off"-- but I'm over it because he LOVES preschool and I am confident that I am doing the best thing for him.  All of this to say that I am reading through a Bible study, and the recent topic has really been good for me.  The title is "The unDisciplined life."

As I have read through these passages, I have been thinking about three things in the back of my head: My nutrition, My prayer life, My language/gossip/building others up.  The text has helped me shape each of these areas as a spiritual battle between what I want (my flesh) and what I know to be the best answer (the Spirit).  I am reminded in scripture that I am only human to sometimes give into "the flesh"-- but that doing so consistently has consequences. 

Here is a little bit of what has stuck out to me:
* God can change every lack of discipline in our lives and be the strength we have not known but always needed.
* Our ONLY RESCUE from the war in our flesh comes from God through Jesus Christ.  Jesus is our only answer!
 * God is bigger than whatever we've given control of our lives.  He can change our nature and take control of our compulsions.
* I want to live fully engaged.  Learning to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and then obeying God with ALL of my heart.
* Becoming a more disciplined woman is a process and will require training.
* God allows my lack of discipline because it keeps me running to Him and relying on His strength.  A holy-dependence is a step toward life-long growth.  We must maintain an intimate, consistent dependence on the Spirit of God inside us.
* The fruit of an undisciplined life looks a lot like the life of the lazy-- and that path leads to a dead end.
* When we allow ourselves to indulge we also set ourselves up for the consequences (they are inevitable).
* People engage in undisciplined behaviors because they don't like themselves. (Interesting.)
* The Holy Spirit gives strength to weary bodies and discouraged hearts.
* Luckily and thankfully, God works through weary women all the time.
and finally...
* The next time you recognize the struggle of flesh against spirit, stop and listen for God. Then obey as the Spirit leads you, and watch what happens. Every time, God will add a strength because of your obedience."

 So I don't have any answers after all this, but plenty to think about. I was hit between the eyes that consequences are inevitable.  Regarding nutrition, I weigh more than I would like, and I have a closet full of clothes that still don't fit.  Regarding an undisciplined prayer life: I have anxiety, I spend too much time worrying, I have guilt and shame.  Regarding undisciplined talk: I have worry that I have quietly  (or, mercy, loudly) offended people, I don't think before I speak which leads to hurt feelings and distrust, I miss opportunities to encourage and build up people.  

Interesting, as I sit here-- I realize that each of these has to do with my mouth.  I need to stop putting unhealthy things into my mouth, I need to use my mouth to talk to God more, and I need to close and filter my mouth regarding what does come out of it.  Perhaps if I talk to God more-- the other two will fall into place easier.  I truly find great hope in the promise that He is strong in my weakness and that I do not have to do this alone.  Further, I find great hope in Galatians 5-- that the more dependent on the Holy Spirit I become, the more I am filled with things like joy, kindness, goodness and self-control.  I have been so discouraged lately-- I really need more of those things!

Random Ramblings from my kitchen table!

Happy Monday, Friends.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Random Ramblings

Since I haven't posted for awhile, and since I seem to work best in 10 minute spurts-- I decided to post a few pictures and just give a brief little update on a few things we have been up to.

To begin...our sweet baby boy is nearing the ONE year mark, and weighs as much as an average 2 year old and is in 24 month clothes.  He is recovering tremendously-- so much so that I don't even call what he is doing "recovery" anymore.  He is just crawling all around and getting into everything.  He loves electric cords and outlets and the Carbon Monoxide detector.  I am so proud of Dekker-- he is a great Big brother.  He is learning to share... but he IS three... sharing is super hard sometimes and a mobile little brother has given him lots of opportunities to practice. 

Tucker loves to play a little game where he moves his head to one side, then we do, the we move to the other side, etc.  It is precious, but I can not get a picture of it no matter how hard I try :)  His scar looks great, and his hair is growing in really thick and dark.  He has had several follow up appointments and everyone says he looks great.  We think so, too.  We can't believe the difference in his head shape.  Initially we were at a small risk for a second surgery to correct the forehead, and the plastic surgeon thinks this will not be necessary.  We will continue to follow up with both surgeons for some time, but thankfully the time in-between appointments will get further and further in-between.  Tucker sleeps all night-- but loves mornings-- takes two naps a day and eats great.  I have a hunch he is going to consolidate his naps sooner than Dekker did, but that is okay.  And, I'm trying to transition him to more and more table food.  Why does it feel harder the second time around?!? 

After seven years in this house, we decided it was high time to get our deck power washed and stained.  We wanted to do the good stain-- the 5 year warranty kind-- and get a high-powered wash-- so we hired an aspiring handy-man to do it.  He has been fantastic to work with and his bid was 1/3 of the other people we considered.  Kinda frustrating, each person that came to look at the deck commented that the way the previous owners had it built was wrong and that it was starting to show signs of wear and tear that it otherwise wouldn't had they done it right in the first place.  Ah! Oh well.  The above picture is of Dekker, who wanted to watch the power washing but thought it was too loud so he found some earmuffs in the shape of footballs to put on.

I love this picture.  Dave did some carpentry work between the power washing
and the staining (which is going on now) and Dekker was his big helper.  

Dekker is growing up everyday and we can't believe it.  He has "best friends" and "old favorite" things.  He plays jokes and his vocabulary is hysterical!  He knows his letters and his numbers and he is "playing" soccer.  Many of you know that his first few games didn't go so well, but he is improving.  He is a slow to warm up type of kid, and it just takes him awhile to adjust.  Last week, Dave took him to the game a few minutes early and they played around on the sidelines.  By the time the game started, he was ready to go.  We go again in a few hours here so we will see if this little "trick" works again this week.  Dekker is also going to preschool, which he LOVES.  I really debated, and actually decided not to send him, then changed my mind at the very last minute.  In the end, he has to go to daycare two days a week AND then goes to preschool two of the mornings that I am home.  I really debated that-- because I wanted to be at home with him on my days "off".  But I knew he would thrive and love preschool, too.  Plus his bestie Lily is in his class.  So we did it and I am really glad we did.  I do miss him in the mornings, but right now Tucker is still napping and I am cleaning and doing Bible study and drinking coffee in the quiet and that is pretty nice, too.

Finally, I am still loving Farrells.  My clothes are fitting, finally, PTL.  I haven't needed to buy any new clothes yet, but my current ones are super comfortable.  I'm kinda in a weird spot in my closet because most of the stuff I was wearing before Tucker is almost too big, but my stack of "skinny jeans" is still too small.  Maybe I need to go shopping.  Yes, yes I do.  I am so glad to feel fit and strong and not huge like I did one year ago... ...

Happy Weekend Friends!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Skinny-ish Jeans

I am dedicating this post to my new work-out love, Farrells, and to my skinny jeans "I"ll buy these while I lose the baby weight after Dekker" jeans. That ended up being my "I hope they still fit after Tucker" jeans. Sigh.  Actually, I should just dedicate this post to any pair of jeans in my home that I can wear.


Sigh again.

In May I decided that my belated 30th birthday present to myself and my Mother's Day gift to myself was to do the Farrells 10 week challenge.  It's that expensive much of an "investment in my health", I'm just saying-- I needed two holidays to justify it.  And I have the summer "off".  It was great timing.

So anyway, I love it.  Actually, I love, love, love it.  It is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time, but I never was willing to shell out invest the money.  I'm so glad I did.  Dave was on board.  He works out every morning, so I joined the 4:30 class in the afternoon.  Dave gets off early opens his office door and listens real good while the kids play educational games watch TV for 30 minutes (Tucker is secure in the swing).  And I love not having to get up at the crack of dawn and still get a good workout in.  In fact, this brings me to a short list of things I have loved:

 * I love having the workout toward the end of the day-- it is like a "reset" button if I have had a tough day with the kids.  And I like being home early enough to be a big help for the dinner/playtime/bath/bed routine.
* I love that it is climate controlled and indoors, even when it is 199 degrees outside.
* I love that somebody else does all the thinking and planning and all I have to do is show up.
* I love that it is a combination of strength and cardio.

So it is six days a week.  That is a lot, but it feels good to get back into the habit of working out finally do something consistently for more than six weeks for one of the first times in my adult life.  Now that I am not living a life of leisure working my buns off all day at home, and am back to work right down the street 30 minutes down the interstate in all but a different town at NCC two days a week, it is a little lot harder to get to the gym on my "work days".  There is a Farrells location by my office, but it is still hard to leave work in time to get there and get home all but before dinner is cleaned up and the baby is in bed.  On my work days I pack a cute little Puma bag reusable HyVee bag and cross my fingers.  Then I inevitably go early, change clothes and introduce myself to the instructor come barreling through their doors and change my clothes in front of a bunch of strangers in the bathroom and rush out onto the mats.  But I'm always glad I am there once we get going.  I usually workout in a super chic, matching outfit from Scheels one of two pairs of black Capri pants and a JDRF T-shirt.  One of the girls there called me Ms. Sallinger the first few weeks because most all of my shirts all say "Team Sallinger" on the back.  I love it.

Sigh.  Why is it so hard to work-out??  And make it a lifestyle?  I wish jobs required an hour of exercise a day.  It would sure save a lot of money on health insurance. 

Anyway, it's a pretty hard workout.  On my first day as a not "newbie 10 week-er" I kinda thought had convinced myself all day that maybe it would be easy.  And then I nearly threw up.  On my very first day ever, I had to get a drink and take a break before the warm-up was over.  Hahahahahahaha!  But whatev.  Today I had a flawless workout the instructor point out that I was punching with the wrong arm, but I am getting the hang of it.  And I feel better.  And I'm losing inches and my 10 week before and after pictures showed some improvement.  And I lost several 2 or 3 body fat percentage points... that counts.

I'm focusing on my nutrition for this10 week cycle.  I'm using "My Fitness Pal" on my phone because apparently "watching what I eat" means I just watch food go into my mouth.  Besides, 80% of change is made in the... ... kitchen.  Ug!  For my first 10 weeks about the only part of the nutrition plan I followed through on was drinking more water and enjoying a "free day" on Saturdays.  I didn't earn the free day, but I loved the concept.

Good Grief.

Why can't I work out one hour 45 minutes a day and eat whatever I want for the other 23 hours?  Is it too much to ask that I want to eat candy and breads and coffee and muffins and cookies and Chinese and sushi and crap, crap, crap and still lose weight and inches as long as I work-out???  I mean, I'm working out here! 

And I might become an instructor.  If I can get up the nerve.  And skill.  And fitness level.  And I think in the next 10 week cycle (Oct-Dec) I might add a few days of running.  Why am I even typing that?  Now people know.  Please, if you see me in a few weeks tomorrow saddled up to a plate of nachos at La Mesa with my work bestie Leslie, drinking pop and loving my life, don't judge me.  I am a work in progress.

Looooooooooong Sigh.

One Day At A Time.

On the journey,

PS If you are looking on an update on Tucker, it's coming.  He is doing great ah-mazing!!!!  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Good. The Bad. The Incredible.

It's time to talk about that Cranial Vault Reconstruction.  I purposely didn't blog immediately following the surgery because I was afraid about what I would write.  And everything seems worse "in the moment."  Plus, I have had a summer cold, which has made my few "both kids are in bed" moments look like this: Scream around the house, do the dishes, dash into bed.  You understand.

I also want to let you know that there are some pictures in this post that some people might find uncomfortable.  I didn't put them on facebook because I didn't think anyone wanted them showing up on their News Feed all of the sudden.  But since you clicked on this blog, and since you will have to scroll down to see them, I am putting the responsibility on you to know what you do and don't want to see. Um-k.

The Good.
There is so much good to share.  So much to be thankful for that it is hard to know where to start.  We had fantastic medical care at Children's Hospital.  Everyone was a united team, rallying for Tucker's best.  We believed he was in good hands-- great hands-- his entire stay.  Two touching memories and then some pics from pre-op:

Memory One: We got stalled in pre-op for almost two extra hours.  Since we brought Tucker in fasting, he was very hungry when the nurse finally came to get him.  We were all a little exhausted, and hungry, and tired of the small little cubicle we were bouncing around in.  Well, finally the nurse came to get Tucker.  She was so sweet.  She gave us lots of time for kisses and hugs-- such a sweet memory in my mind-- and when she went to put him on the bed he started crying.  So, that woman just scooped him up in her arms, draped the blanket we brought around him, and offered to carry him into surgery.  I was so thankful to send him off like that.  The doctors and nurses all told us he was all smiles when he was brought back into the Operation Room.  We sat in the little cubicle and gathered ourselves and prayed to ourselves and then went to the lobby to wait with our parents, and our sweet bestie Suz who had brought us Jimmy Johns (she was freaky fast with her delivery, too).

Memory Two: Our night nurse on the 5th floor, Leliana.  I probably spelled that wrong.  If anyone personally knows Leliana I hope you will point her to this blog so she knows what a great nurse and women she is.  There is something touching about watching another woman care for your child, knowing she can do what you can't.  No one did this with more grace and skill and compassion than Leliana.  She was patient, soft-spoken, knowledgeable... wonderful.  The last two nights I sent (practically begged) Dave home to sleep, so it was just Leliana and me.  One night Tucker was up, and uncomfortable, and spiking a fever.  She took care of all his meds-- then offered that maybe he could sleep in the hospital bed instead of on my chest-- perhaps this would lower the fever (body heat) and give me a chance to rest myself.  So we carefully laid his sweet head on his pillow, elevated the bed and laid our cheeks down on the bed at his head level-- one on each side.  We talked softly to him and patted his tummy and when he was just drifting off to sleep we chatted with each other a little.  She laughed at our birth story, got me to talking about sweet Dekker, asked about my life outside the home.  It occurred to me later that Tucker was asleep most of that conversation and she had become my middle of the night caregiver instead.  She was a ray of light during some bleak nights and I am so thankful for her job ministry to me.  I slept as well as I could knowing she was monitoring Tucker, too.  (This memory is making me cry.)

The Bad.
After much mental debate, I have decided to not offer too much commentary on "the bad."  Frankly, I hope I remember the Good and the Incredible and never remember and quickly forget the bad.  I will just say this-- our first night in the PICU was the longest night of my life, and I am not kidding when I say that I might need to see sweet Dena the therapist again before I can fully move on.  It triggered every awful thing I can think of, and seeing Tucker in such pain, and being able to do literally nothing about it, was nothing short of traumatizing.  Seeing his lines and monitors was nothing compared to hearing him scream, watching him thrash about-- I almost dropped him once when I was holding him, watching his heart rate race into the 260's, a midnight blood poke, a 3AM blood transfusion-- it was scary and terrible, terrible, terrible.  But it's over.  And, luckily to me, that is the only time I have experienced that, and I knew it would eventually get better.  The PICU at Children's is a sad place, and we were reminded that our situation could get much worse as we watched a family two doors down prepare to say Good-Bye.  Upsetting in its own right, it was also perspective giving.

The Incredible.
We were totally humbled, and amazed to feel the power of prayer during the surgery and during our stay.  We couldn't keep up with texts and updated facebook instead, which landed nearly 100 "likes" at one point.  To know so many people were thinking about us and praying for us made a huge difference.  We felt uplifted and encouraged, even during the roughest times.  We had a few visitors, who came with a serving heart and full of encouragement.  They brought us Starbucks and dinners and lunches and thoughtful gifts and my bestie Beth even gave me the jacket off her back.  David's parents juggled loving on Dekker with encouraging us, and even rearranged one night to bring Dekker to the hospital so we could see him for awhile.  My parents exhausted themselves taking care of us, and getting in a couple days of work so they could take Dekker the next week.  They drove the 250 mile round trip between their house and ours countless times.  Please know that your prayers were noticed, every encouragement counted, your support was our nourishment.  Thank you.  And in the best way possible, I hope we never experience it again.  (Or that we never need to, anyway.)

We also think that the medical science behind this surgery is Incredible.  It is hard to think that his scalp was cut back, his skull cut open right down the middle, his skull removed, reshaped, and then put back in.  On a Wednesday.  And we went home Saturday.  What?!?  One surgeon said that when they cut the suture down his skull that it had a sort of "pop".  This is an indicator that his head had been under pressure.  Poor baby.  Seriously.  The surgeon said this pressure can lead to excessive fussiness, and several other "Cranio Families" have told us that their kids had a spike in developmental milestones after the surgery.  So far, we have found that when Tucker is awake, has good pain control, and isn't tired, that he is a little different.  Maybe it's just in my head, but I feel like he's sitting independently more, closer to crawling, talking more-- and just in general a bit more pleasant.  I don't know.  I suppose we will see over time. 

Here are a few pics of his scar, etc. The scar and his swelling is looking much better.  When we see it, we are reminded that we serve an Incredible God.

 Our recovery at home has been here and there.  We have good moments and tough moments.  We expected that, though, for the most part.  (Though it seems cruel that we got sick right now!)  Our friends are bringing us meals and every time they leave our fridge is full and our heart is overflowing.  If you want to keep praying for our recovery, we would appreciate it.  We look forward to the day when he is off all his pain meds (which might be causing an upset tummy) and acting like Tucker again.  We see glimpses of that now, and we know it was worth it, and that within just a few weeks this will feel more like a memory than a reality. 

In the mean time, this sweet boy is still winning us over with his smiles.  He has "discovered" the dog for what feels like the first time and is about to get whip-lash every time he sees her.  He is talking more-- the sweetest sound to any Mom's ears.  He is sitting totally by himself, feeding himself his bottle, and only waking at night once (for a bottle and pain meds and then back down).  He is getting back to a nap schedule, loves his big brother, his soccer ball, and fresh air. 

Here's to more of all things wonderful.

On the journey,
And almost to the other side.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Quick 5-- Happy Friday!

Hi Friends.  What a gorgeous week.  Thanks to my friend Tori's dedication to her "Quick Five"-- I am inspired.  So here are five things that have been keeping us busy this week.

1.  Monday I took a trip to Lincoln while the kids were at daycare.  My mom and I had a great day together shopping and having lunch.  I do love South Pointe mall!  It was a nice distraction and a great time.  This was their last day of daycare for quite awhile.  I can't risk Tucker getting sick, and I love having them home.  I didn't realize how much I would love the "summers off" part of my job!

2.  We had Tucker's pre-op appointment Wednesday.  We saw his pediatrician for a little physical-- to make sure he's not sick or doesn't need any medicine before surgery.  She gave him the "thumbs up."  Then she held him for awhile and turned to us and said, "It's going to be hard."  I prefer my denial so we just smiled and nodded.  Thursday we went to Children's Specialty Clinic for a pre-op blood "draw".  It ended up being a finger poke, and took twice as long to drive there, park, and check in than it did to actually have his finger poked but I am not going to complain about incredible medical services down the street.  Dave came with and we had fun playing with Dekker and making jokes with each other.  I married one funny man, who can seriously make any situation better with his humor.  Here are a few pics from our adventure:

All this for a little finger poke!

That's a real tear!  So sad!

He melts my heart! He was really a trooper.
3.  Thursday morning Tucker got up super early.  He was UP from his morning nap by 9AM, so we headed to  Natasha's Clubhouse at the church.  It was great!  The kids learned about the Rainbow House, then we had a Bible story, made a snack and made a craft.  Dekker is on the young end of the crowd, so he required some help (like reading a recipe and measuring ingredients!) and little man was needing some attention, so a few sympathetic Mom's with wonderful older kids helped Dekker bake.  I met one mom who was really nice and just loved on Tucker all morning.  I hope I get to go again this summer to see her!  We also exchanged our library books Thursday, and had a front yard picnic.  Both boys napped all afternoon.  It was a great, busy day.  (P.S. Check out the Stonebridge 5K coming up this weekend!  You can still register, but probably won't get a shirt.)

I love the way these two interact!

4.  I recently read, in one day, a book about packing your house for survival in the event of a disaster (natural, terrorism, or other).  It was incredible.  I got turned on to this author thanks to this blog post-- another great read about how to pack a little bag in your car to help you get home in the event that you are at work or away from home when a disaster hits.  The book was a little anxiety producing, and I seriously prayed all the way through it that God would help me keep perspective and remember that He will be with me no matter what happens in this life. Call me crazy, but I'm just saying that it's not a bad idea to be intentional about keeping some water, a poncho and a good pair of shoes in your car, or a weather radio/water/extra formula/meal replacement bars in your house.  This author suggests that you pack your goods in a backpack at home, so if you have to leave quickly everything is in one place.  We would abandon home in a very worst case scenario, so I am going to start with a tote at home and car bag and go from there.  I already found some good stuff he suggests second-hand on Craigslist in the camping section.  And now you think I really am crazy :)

5.   We had "Memory Verse Monday".  I have been thinking about this more and more, especially because Dekker can all but recite a book by memory after we read it to him three times.  His little mind is such a sponge.  So I bought a little 2 & 3 year old Memory Verse book at Parables last week and am trying to keep it simple.  Am I the only Mom who avoids this stuff because I think it has to be an all morning amazing event?  Instead, we did a little lesson, seriously 30 seconds, and finger painted a coloring sheet I copied out of the book, and learned the verse.  This week it was Genesis 1:1.  We keep a copy of it on a note-card by his books for before nap and before bed, and another copy of it on the fridge-- and randomly all day we practice it.  It is adorable to hear him recite it, which he is very proud of.  Here's to being more intentional about memorizing scripture-- it will be great for Dekker and Mom!  Any other mom's of preschoolers out there want to join us??  Click here to see the book we are using.

Next week is obviously a big week for us.  We appreciate your prayers so very much.  Surgery is scheduled for 2PM on Wednesday, June 27th.  We check-in at noon.  Big thanks to our family and small group and friends who are taking great care of us-- and making sure we feel supported and encouraged and well fed and that Dekker is taken care of and having fun!

On the journey,

Friday, June 8, 2012

Quick 5 Thoughts on Car Seats

It is no surprise to anyone that Tucker is just huge.  Weighing in at over 9lbs on his birthday, he continues to grow in the 90th percentile (or bigger).  Which means that at not even seven months, he wears 12 month clothes... and is a beast to carry around in his infant seat.  He is way too heavy, and about to top the height requirement anyway.  And he doesn't sleep in it anymore, for the most part.  So I decided it was time to move him up to a convertible car seat, which means a little car seat switcharo here at the Rowe household.  Which means I am confused and conflicted about guidelines, rules, what to buy, how to install, how much money to spend, etc.

So I decided to do some research and I am posting it here-- mostly so I can have SOMETHING to show for a few hours of research-- and so I can review it at the next step with these kiddos-- and because it might help someone else.  Please hear absolutely NO judgement in this post.  I am, by no means, pointing fingers or assuming or making character calls or telling you what to do.  In my life right now, Tucker is riding in an expired infant carrier and Dekker has been riding in his convertible car seat in my Civic (which does not have the LATCH system), which I have since learned he has grossly outgrown.  A lot of this material is cut and paste from various websites, including mostly the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the product websites for the two brands we currently have (Graco and Britix).  I am not an expert, just trying to not spend a fortune and still keep our kids safe as we grow to the "next step."

Quick 5 Thoughts on Car Seats:

1.   Once in an accident, your car seat has been compromised.  Some bloggers and websites suggested that minor fender benders (the vehicle could be driven away from the crash, the vehicle door closest to the car safety seat was not damaged, no one in the vehicle was injured, the air bags did not go off) do not count but anything remotely damaging to the car could be "very damaging and compromising to the car seat." Even if there appears to be no damage to the car seat on the surface, the impact and force of a collision can cause unseen structural damage to the interior of your car seat. Any such damage may prohibit your car seat from properly protecting your child in the event of a sudden stop or crash. Good news though is that time and time again, authors suggested that insurance companies will pay to replace your car seat when you have been in a crash.  Heck, it's worth a try.

2.  Car seats do expire.  I sometimes feel like this is a marketing ploy, especially when you consider that a child's safety is perhaps the most vulnerable thing for marketing professionals to make money off.  Based on this research, I am still comfortable using our barely expired (typical life of a car seat is 6 years) infant carrier, and upon inspection the materials still appear to be in good shape, it has not been recalled, etc.  I do see some validity to the points below that plastic can stress and can have hairline fractures which we might not see that wouldn't hold up as well in a crash.  I once read that sunlight in particular breaks down plastic, especially in cars which are parked outside in the hot sun.  That just makes sense to me.  According to the Google, here are some of the basic reasons why car seats expire:
  • Technology Improves and Standards Change. A good example of this is that back in 2002 car seats were not even equipped with Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children (LATCH). Now however, they are a standard feature in nearly all car seats. Car seat expiration dates ensure that seats being used are current and up to snuff.
  • Materials Wear Down. Car seats were not made to last forever. Overtime the seat base can develop hairline fractures which may shatter in a crash, and belts can become slightly elastic after years of use.  Plastic stresses and warps, the Styrofoam can degrade. Straps and fabrics fray and rip. Important instructional labels fade, tear or fall off completely.
    • If you are still wondering what can happen, check out this crash test video.  In the video, the car seat harness breaks through the shell of the seat upon impact.
  • Only Tested for a Certain Period. After a certain amount of time, manufacturers do not test seats. They cannot attest to how older seats will perform in an accident. 
3. The 5-point-harness is easily misused.  I was researching this exclusively for Dekker, because he needs a new car seat for my Civic.  I was about to simply buy him a second car seat just like the one in our 4Runner (The Graco Nautilus-- which has a 5 point harness but "breaks down" to a high back booster and a backless booster), but I felt like I had vague memories about shoulder straps that I wanted to double check.  At first glance, the online manual says that this car seat (with the built in harness) fits children 20 to 65 lbs and 27 to 52 inches.  Dekker fits that category.  But if you look closer, and actually download the manual and get to the right page-- it also says that shoulders must be at or below the top harness slot (this is for forward facing) and that if the shoulders are above the top harness slot, the child is too big for the built in harness.  This was consistent among all car seat manufacturers and websites. But for the life of me I could not find out why it is considered unsafe to have the shoulders above the harness slot.  Any ideas out there?  I would suggest that if it is important for you to keep your child in a 5 point harness that you do some research as to the height of the harness slot.  A lot of car seats advertise and market that they have a 5 point harness "up to 65lbs", for example (as our Nautilus does) or even "up to 85 lbs" as Britax does.  BUT that does a mom no good if her child has outgrown the harness height anyway.  This reminds me of the infant carriers that go up to 35lbs.  I have yet to meet a family who has a baby weighing 35lbs who hasn't outgrown the 32" height restriction on such a seat and who still want to lug that beast around.  

It should also be noted that some car seat manufacturers, instead of discussing this in terms of the child's height, they discuss it in terms of "seated shoulder height."  Basically, if you have your child sit against a wall and then put a mark on the top of his shoulders and then measure from the floor to that mark.  Britix is the most popular manufacturer who details their seats like this.  This accommodates torso height, not just overall height, which might help some families make a better decision about when to move out of a 5 point harness.

If I could do it again, I would have done more research on harness height when I bought the Nautilus.  There is a pretty big discrepancy.  I'm not worried about weight, because my boys will probably always outgrow something by height before weight.  Dekker still safely fits into the 5 point harness in the Nautilus, and I am glad about that, but when he outgrows the harness height we will move him to the belt positioning booster. I think with a little more research I could have bought him a seat where he could have stayed in the 5 point harness a little longer-- but I'm not sure to be honest. Which leads me to my next point.

4.  If a child is forward facing and has outgrown the 5 point harness (by height or by weight) then the next step is to use a "belt positioning booster."  This is the old school "high back booster" and has the little detail at the shoulder to feed the seat belt through.  This helps position the seat belt correctly so that it does not end up across the neck, across the stomach, or totally out of the picture in the event of an accident.  You have outgrown the "belt positioning (high back) booster" when the child's ears reach the top of the seat, or when s/he has outgrown the seat by weight or height.  For example, our Nautilus can become a "belt positioning booster" for a child 30 to 100 lbs and who is 38 to 57 (4ft, 9inches) inches and is approximately three, as long as the child's ears do not go over the top of the back.  Dekker barely fits this requirement (but since he also still fits the 5 point harness requirement I will keep it "as is" until he gets too tall).

5.  Just recently the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration set out a few new child restraint recommendations which got a lot of press, jokes, blogging space, etc.

The first recommendation was that all infants and toddlers remain in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they outgrow the height and weight limits of the seat.  (My first question to that is: Which carseat?  The infant carrier or the convertible?  I assume the convertible because I know very few children who are still in the infant carrier at one, and because they are only recommended by the manufacturers until age one.)  For our rear facing convertible car seat, the Britix Marathon, that means until Tucker is 2, or until he is 35lbs with a seated shoulder height of 16".  Just as a reference, Dekker is 35.5lbs, with a seated shoulder height of 18".  So if these recommendations stay, that pretty much means Tucker will be rear facing until he is two.  Ug, that is a little excessive to me.  Then again, this recommendation was made because children's "head and neck are often left free to sort of whip forward in the event of a crash" when they are forward facing too early.  And, well, that sounds awful.  Maybe Tucker will be "super long torso boy" and will outgrow his rear facing car seat before two.  Otherwise, he might end up looking like this.  Man, those legs look cramped.  (But maybe her head and neck look really supported?!?)

VIDEO: New Car Seat Recommendations

The second recommendation was that the age limit of the booster (age 8) was replaced with a height limit (4-feet-9 inches)-- when experts believe the seat belt should fit properly across the chest and lap.  The booster seat is designed to "boost a child up higher so that the car's seat belt fits properly over the child." A high back booster will accommodate a child up to 4ft, 9inches (and 100lbs) and a "no back" booster will accommodate a child from 4-10 years old, from 40-100 lbs and 40” to 57” (4ft, 9inches) tall so long as the child's ears do not top the back of the actual seat in the car.  So I'm a little unclear if this recommendation is to keep kids in a HIGH BACK booster, or just A booster.  Does anyone know?  4ft 9" and 100lbs is the dimensions of some adults, by the way :)  There are some pretty clear guidelines about how to know when your child is ready for no car seat, but since we're so far from that I really didn't give it much attention.

It is interesting to note that Nebraska Law only requires children to be bucked up until age 6.  They state:
The Nebraska child passenger safety and safety belt laws, like other states’ restraint laws, are the result of compromises between the “best practice” recommendations of safety experts and provisions that the legislators feel are practical, enforceable, and will be tolerated by the general public and their own constituents.  Occupant restraint laws can be considered to be minimum standards.

In the end, we decided to outfit the 4Runner with our "good" car seats-- for interstate and highway travel and for long trips.  For Tucker, this means the Britix convertible, rear facing, until he is in preschool (just kidding).  For Dekker, this means that he will stay in the Graco Nautilus with the 5 point harness-- until his shoulders are taller than the harness slot.

For the Civic, which will now need two new seats, we are buying a "belt positioning booster" for Dekker.  He meets all the requirements and it is $58.  I can't see why I would spend an additional $100 for the 5 point harness, if he is just going to outgrow it in a few months anyway.  For Tucker, I am likely buying a used convertible car seat from some reliable friends.  It is not expired and has never been in an accident.  It should be noted that we use my car two days a week, and I transport the kids typically home from daycare twice a week in it.  It drives about 10 miles a week with kids in it-- right down Blondo street.  But I still believe it needs up to date and appropriate car seats because if I get in an accident I never want to wonder about these things. 

You can learn more here and here.

So there you have it.  Sigh.

I'm interested to know what other Mom's think about this issue.  I am fairly hyper-diligent about this, maybe boarder line obsessed, and I know not everyone is.  Do you pay much attention to it?  Does it bother you if a car seat is expired?  Why is the 5 point harness so bad if the slots are below the shoulders?  Will you keep your child rear facing until s/he is basically two?  Will you keep your older kids in a booster until they are 4'9"?  What kind of booster?

On the journey,
(and buckled up!)