Thursday, December 31, 2009

Losing the last cast…

What a way to end they year!  The casts that Mike has donned from hip to toe are officially history!  Here’s the breakdown…

Three weeks ago at the tender age of 16 days, Mike was put in his first cast to correct his bilateral club feet.  The cast started at his toes and went all the way up to his hips on both legs.  Seven days later, that cast was cut off and the second one put on.  Then after another seven days (on Christmas Eve), that cast was cut off and the third one was put on. 

That was when Dr. Crawford gave Mike some early Christmas news – the bones in Mike’s feet had responded much faster than he anticipated and the third cast would be the last! 

And today was the day that the third cast was removed (Happy New Year Mike!!!). 

The saga isn’t completely over yet.  Mike still needs to wear a brace between his feet to hold them in place while the bones set.  For anyone who has had braces for their teeth then you will understand exactly how this works.  The casts are like the braces – that is what actually does the moving.  The brace is like the retainer you had to keep your teeth from moving back.

So now he looks like he is wearing a baby snowboard!  Who knows – maybe you will see him in the winter X-games in the future!  He has to wear the brace 24/7 – and it’s winter.  It’s never to early to start training!



Check out my hot new brace – it’s red anodized aluminum!


X Games here I come!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Baby’s first Christmas…

Christmas is always a special time of year, but this year was a little extra special for a couple of reasons.

First of all, we didn’t travel this year!  For us, this was really exciting.  Since we have moved to Knoxville, we have done the whirlwind, tri-state tour of Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee.  Twelve years of hectic traveling from state to state and house to house.  And all of the drives would be at least 3 hours long.  It was pretty exhausting.

This year, we had Christmas at our house!  We didn’t have to travel, but it was not any less hectic!  If you’ve read about our Christmas decorating saga, then you know what I’m talking about (by the way – we put up two trees but only put lights and ornaments on one!).  But we have enjoyed every single minute with lots of friends and family stopping by and spending the holidays with us!

But what really made Christmas extra special this year was sharing it with Mike.  Sure – he was just a smidge over 4 weeks old.  Sure – he had no idea what was going on (or why).  But it was still his first Christmas and his first visit from Santa.  And he surely didn’t understand what Father Michael’s homely (since he sleeps through Mass), but we certainly enjoyed sharing it all with him!  As a matter of fact, he’s asleep in his bouncy seat wearing one of his outfits from Santa – it has dinosaurs on it and says “snugglesaurus”.  And while there will be many, many, many other firsts for our new family, there is only one “baby’s first Christmas”…



Dad and Mike waiting to open presents!


Mike with his new teddy bear under the Christmas tree…

Friday, December 25, 2009

A first for UT basketball…

Yesterday was a monumental day for UT basketball program.  It might not seem that way on the surface.  It was a non-conference game.  It was against North Carolina A&T.  They dominated the entire game.  They bounced back from a frustrating and disappointing loss on the road.  But none of these things a firsts. 

Tyler Smith probably isn’t aware of it.  Neither is Wayne Chism or Scotty Hopson or any of the rest of the team.  If you were to ask Bruce Pearl, he wouldn’t have any idea either.  Not even the three sisters that sit behind us know (because they missed the game last night).

Indeed – one of the very few places for you to find out what monumental fist was is to read it here!

Last night was Mike’s VERY FIRST UT BASKETBALL GAME!  I would really like to say that he was excited and sat on the edge of his seat the entire time.  The reality is that he slept through the entire game.  But the Vols put on a spectacular show for him anyway.  They jumped out to a 21 – 0 lead at the start of the game and never looked back.  The ended up winning 99 – 78 and played much better defense with 21 steals and forced 34 turnovers.

So, Mike not have realized what was going on.  And the rest of the people in Thompson Boling Arena most certainly didn’t realize that it was a monumental night.  But we did – and that makes it all worth it…

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why the casts?

First of all – we have an announcement about Mike!  He has officially passed his first milestone since his birth.  This past Sunday, his cord stump fell off!  Now he has a completely normal looking belly button!

That would usually mean that he could begin taking a “normal” baby bath since we no longer have to worry about getting the stump wet.  But we can’t get Mike’s casts wet so it’ll be sponge baths for a little while longer.

Casts?  Yep – that’s right.  But before we go into all of that, we would like to fill you in on the “Best Baby on the Block” progress!  Last night was “evening three” of our little experiment.  And we are EXTREMELY happy to report that it was Mike’s third night of normal sleep!  In bed at 11:00, a feeding at 2:30, then up at 6:30 for breakfast!  While we hesitate to proclaim this a success (we wouldn’t want to jinx it), it is certainly the first time that we have had three nights of sleep all in a row!  Or stress level has been dramatically reduced and we have been able to enjoy and love Mike even more!

But why the casts?  Back during the ultrasound around week 23, the doctor told us that there was a possibility that Mike had clubbed feet.  We thought it meant that his feet and toes were fused together making his leg look like a “caveman club”.  But we were looking at the ultrasound and could clearly see 10 toes on the end of his feet.  Obviously, we had no idea – so we asked the doctor…

Turns out that club foot is simply when the foot is turned downward and inward (more like a golf club rather than a caveman club).  It is also the most common congenital disorder of the lower extremities.

Sure enough, when Mike was born he had “bilateral clubbing” (both feet were turned in).  So we scheduled an appointment with a pediatric orthopedist, Doctor Crawford at Knoxville Orthopedic.  He took a look at Mikes feet, and told us that the clubbing was not bad and that successful treatment was almost certain. 

And the treatment?  A series of casts put on weekly to turn the feet upward and outward then braces to hold them in place until the bones are set.  Mike had his first cast put on almost two weeks ago and will get his third cast on Thursday.  Already his feet are turned outward and we are hoping that he will only need 2 or 3 more casts before he is out of them…

The first casts bothered him for a couple of days, but now he doesn’t mind them at all.  He will actually bang his heals together with a loud “clack” when he gets mad! 

So we will be certain to keep you posted on his progress.  And if you happen to be in the neighborhood, stop by the house and sign Mikes casts!

IMG00010-20091210-1445 Mike at the doctors office just before his first cast.  See the feet turned in and down…


The second set of casts.  See how my feet are already turned out?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thank you Lisa and Tanya!

It seems like we are always thanking people for helping us with Mike.  Sometimes it was during the pregnancy.  Recently, it’s been with all of the help, tips, and support coming from everyone we know.  Many of you we have thanked in person.  A few have been mentioned here.

In this particular case, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Tanya and Lisa.  Here’s the story…

Mike has been less than happy for the last week, particularly in the evenings.  He’s never enjoyed laying on his back which makes bedtime something of an adventure.  And this past week, his unhappiness started creeping earlier and earlier into the evening.  First it was 11:00.  Then 10:00.  Then 9:00.  Then 8:00.  And the unhappiness would usually last until 2:00 or 3:00.  Then an hour of sleep (maybe) followed by more unhappiness.  We were prepared for waking up once or twice a night to feed Mike, but we weren’t prepared for an hour or less of sleep… 

So we read and we search and we search and we read.  Nothing useful was to be found anywhere.  Most things mentioned “colic” which seems to be an ancient Indian word for “baby’s who cry a lot” and they say that it seems to go away after about 3 months.

3 MONTHS?!?!???!!??!  I’ve had 2 hours of sleep in the last three nights!!!!!  I can’t wait 3 MONTHS!!!!!  What in the world are we to do?  Certainly there must be something…

That’s where Lisa comes in.  About 2 weeks before Mike was born, I asked her if she had any suggestions for new parents.  She seemed an obvious choice for advice since she just had her first baby just a few weeks earlier.  She had many good tidbits of advice – but the one that is particular to this story is a DVD titled “The Happiest Baby on the Block”.  I had ordered the DVD before Mike was born.  It’s been sitting in front of the TV since it arrived from Amazon.  But with the hectic excitement of a new baby quickly followed by the panic of getting grades submitted followed by the hectic preparation for Christmas – it wasn’t long before the DVD became buried under a pile of mail.

And that’s when it happened.  In our moment of near despair and our pleading, “there must be something else” – there it was.  The corner of the box poking out from under last Tuesday’s newspaper and the water bill.  “Hey – maybe there is something on this DVD!”

We shoved it in and immediately, Dr. Harvey Karp starting talking to us and giving us suggestions on how to calm a baby who seemingly can’t be calmed.  We watched it through to the end (with some skepticism – it can’t be THAT easy), looked at each other, looked at Mike, shrugged our shoulders and decided that we didn’t have anything to lose by trying.  Within minutes, Mike was sleeping blissfully on my lap and was very happy the rest of the evening.  Then came the dreaded bedtime.  We went to bed at 1:00, woke up at 4:00 to feed Mike, and then slept until 9:00 and Mike was a happy baby the entire evening!  And behold – he has been happy all day today too!!!

And Tanya plays a part in this too.  She has five kids of her own, like a good Catholic mom would (although she has only had one child since she became Catholic!).  She gave us a CD that actually works very well with the aforementioned DVD.  The title is “Infant Calm” which sounds normal enough.  It has 6 “songs” on it – and this is where it gets a little weird.  The tracks are “Clothes Dryer Hum, Hair Dryer Whistle, Washing Machine Purr, Vacuum Cleaner Waltz, Washer and Dryer Combo Special, and White Noise Plain Wrap”.  Mike’s favorites, at least so far, appear to be “Hair Dryer Whistle”, and “Vacuum Cleaner Waltz” which are both 10 minute recordings of – you guessed it – a hair dryer and a vacuum cleaner.  Combined with the tips in the DVD, Mike is now sleeping like a baby.  And the pun is fully intended!

So we owe our current sanity – or what is left of it – to Lisa and Tanya.  Thanks to you both!!!


IMG00018-20091218-0040 Ahhh – peaceful sleep.  What took mom and dad so long to figure it out?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Decorating for Christmas – the update…

Well – we’ve been at it for nearly a week now but we have made some progress!  We have all of the “nick knack” decorations out (and we have a TON of those things).  The mantel and hearth are decorated, wreaths are on doors, the stockings are hung, poinsettias are out, our absolutely fabulous nativity scene is out (handmade by Aunt Suggie!), and so on and so on.


We can check the mantel off the list…


But what about the Christmas trees?  We have made some progress on that front too!  We’ve had two trees up but undecorated for a couple of days – but last night was the night.  After Mikes 1:00am feeding – out came all of the ornaments for the living room tree.  It’s pre-lit (thank goodness) and by 2:15am we were wrapping it up and hitting the sack! 

“2:00am?!?!?” you say?  We say “no problem”!  With Mike (who currently likes to eat at 1), it seems to be the norm to go to bed at 2.  Then we wake up with Mike around 6 for “breakfast” then again around 10 for “second breakfast”.  So it all works out in the end!

So – are we finished?  I’m guessing that we won’t really get finished this Christmas.  We still have another tree in Mikes room with no lights and one lonely ornament on it.  We plan on decorating it tomorrow night – we’ll see how it goes.  But for now, we are enjoying holding Mike up next to the tree in the living room and watching him stare wide-eyed at the pretty lights!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Decorating for Christmas.

Decorating for Christmas has been quite an adventure this year.  Two sleepy parents, a brand new baby, and two stressed out dogs make for a strange combination.  Add a room full of boxes filled with Christmas decorations (most of which are in some state of unpacking) and it looks like a Christmas tornado has swept through and strewn things all about the house.  Not to mention the “baby stuff” tornado that swept through the house a couple of weeks ago – we still don’t have that straightened up!  Our house could currently be declared a “Christmas decoration / baby stuff disaster area”.

But we are on the downhill side of the decorating.  Most of the things are out of the boxes and in the designated place and we should have no problem getting the rest of it done today.  But there is another big task on the horizon!  We are going to attempt to put up one of the trees today!!!  Not the monumental 12 foot tall 6 foot across tree – that took a full weekend before we had Mike!  We are going to attempt the skinny 6 foot pre-lit tree that normally goes up in less than 2 hours.  If all goes well, we have a couple more 6 foot trees we would like to put up – including one for Mike’s room!

And it may sound like all of this decorating is a big hassle.  After all, Mike needs feeding/changing and mom & dad need a couple of naps during the day.  But believe us – a hassle it is not!  It may be taking longer than normal and we apologize in advance to Dad and Andrea – the house may still be a mess when you get here tomorrow.  But we are having a lot of fun doing it!  And Mike is only going to have one “1st Christmas”.  It sure wouldn’t be much of one without decorations!

And speaking of decorations – there is one particular one that we dig out every year.  Debbie gave us a head band with antlers on it several years ago.  Every year, there is a picture of us wearing that headband while we are decorating.  This year we couldn’t resist.  When we opened up the box with the head band in it, we put it on Mike!  He was so cute laying in his bouncy seat with the antlers on his head!

IMG00007-20091209-1834If they are doing this to me now – imagine what my teen years will be like!”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Two weeks under the belt…

Wow!  Tomorrow is the official “two week” mark.  Two weeks since our little bundle of joy decided to come and visit us!  And people have been asking us a lot of questions about these first two weeks.  Here are some of your answers!

One of the biggest questions we’ve been asked as new parents is “How are you doing on sleep”?  Actually, we are not doing as bad as we thought we would!  The first few days were certainly a whirlwind – especially while we were in the hospital.  I remember looking at the clock and seeing 6:00 and wondering if it was AM or PM.  Our experience at Parkwest Hospital was absolutely top notch.  But if I could offer a suggestion – the digital clock on the wall should have an AM/PM designation!  But since we’ve been home, we’ve taken plenty of naps (we absolutely LIVE by the motto “we sleep when the baby sleeps”) and that has kept us reasonably refreshed.  Even if it is on a somewhat new and foreign schedule…

Another big question is about the c-section.  For anyone who has never had (or witnessed) one – then you are probably under the same misconceptions that we were.  We thought the steps for a c-section were something like this:  1 – start the spinal, 2 – make incision, 3 – lift out baby, 4 – sew everything up.  This was partially correct – but step 3 was WAY off.  There was absolutely NO lifting the baby out.  It was an actual delivery where the baby comes out the incision rather than taking the usual path.  Lot’s of pushing and nurses pressing on the belly.  It was certainly quicker, but every bit as “traumatic” as a “regular” delivery.

Yet another big question is “who do you think he looks like”?  At first we didn’t know how to answer this.  Mike looks like a new baby – small and wrinkly.  But on a whim, we dug out Bryon’s old baby album.  We were STUNNED!  Mike looks EXACTLY like his dad when he was a newborn!  We’ve shown the pictures to everyone who has stopped by the house and everyone agrees.  Some people even mistake the pictures for pictures of Mike.  But I think our next door neighbor (Becky) said it best - “Oh my GOSH!  That’s eerie!  Maybe he’ll grow out of it…”.

And I’m sure there is more to tell, but Mike’s eyes are getting heavy and he’s starting to yawn.  And if he’s getting ready to go to sleep – then we should to!

 DSC_0037 Hello world!  My name is Michael!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

No need for catching up anymore!

Well wouldn’t you know it!  Sometimes things just have a way of taking care of themselves.  We had a bunch of little tales that we wanted to share with everyone.  Things like Bryon being quarantined in the camper with acute bronchitis.  Or Darlene’s multiple doctor appointments (2 ultra sounds, a 2nd non-stress test, the pulmonologist, the physical therapist).  Surely these tales from the last 5 days will make in here eventually.

But all of the little stories are currently completely eclipsed by the current news of the day…


The short story is, Darlene had an ultrasound yesterday and the fluid measured less than 5cm.  The OB decided that “now is the time”.  She actually came into the room with a great big grin on her face singing “happy birthday”!  So we left the OB office and walked straight over to the hospital.  Darlene checked in an we spent the night here last night.

This morning at 10:30 (we were the third c-section this morning!), the nurse came in and we made the short trek down the hall.  By 10:50, the spinal was in and the doctor was ready to go.  At 11:06 Mike was out on the scale getting weighed!  6 lbs 12 oz and 18 inches long!


What in the world is going on?  This is what I expected!  I was so nice and warm

Some short clean-up, and they wheeled us back to the room.  Mike has already had a bath (a sponge bath from a nurse!) and has been fed 4 times!  And the pee/poop machine is starting to kick in to full production.  It’s all been a fabulous experience – a real whirlwind 10 hours.


Mom and Mike are doing GREAT!

We really do hope that we get a chance to see each of you VERY soon.  We should be home in a couple of days – give us a call or stop by the house!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The “Non Stress” test…

I always wonder about the medical profession.  At first glance, it seems like they may possibly make things up to support a self-fulfilling prophecy.  At second glance, it seems like there sanity may actually need to be called into question.  But then at the third glance, it seems like they may actually have it right.

This all began with our “non stress” test at the OB office this past Monday.  Hmmm.  Just the name makes me a little suspicious.  So my “first glance” began with a question – what do you do for a non stress test?  The answer was – nothing!  You do absolutely nothing.  Now what just a minute.  This seems like a top-notch self-fulfilling procedure to me.  Maybe the good Doctor needs a little extra bacon this month and thinks she can test how good we are at doing nothing!  I’m far from convinced…

But the Doc has never led us astray in the past.  In fact, it’s been just the opposite.  So my “second glance” began with another question – who exactly needs this non stress test?  The answer?  People with diabetes (nope not in that category – the two glycol test more than proved that!), high blood pressure (115 over 60 certainly doesn’t qualify), gestation hypertension (again – 115 over 60 is out of the question), baby appears small (nope – at the last visit he was soundly in the “normal” category).  It was right about here when I began to question the doctor’s sanity.  She has obviously gone straight to the loony bin! 

But before I could raise any objections the doc (who certainly appeared sane) said, “…but the symptom I’m most worried about is low amniotic fluid”.  Uh oh – here’s the “third glance”.  Suddenly this isn’t about the Doc needing some extra coin and I had no further doubts about her sanity!  She tells us that the ultrasound was showing the amniotic fluid level to be “below normal” which in itself was absolutely no cause for concern but that it did require some additional monitoring.  So the ultimate goal of the non stress test was to evaluate baby Mike’s heartbeat and movements for an extended period of time just to make sure he is still happy in is little home.

So Monday was the non stress test.  Hooked up the monitors, kicked up the feet, click a little button every time Mike kicks – this is way better than work!  And the results were very easy to interpret.  Mike was so happy with his current living conditions that he was dancing a jig and putting on a show for all of the nurses!  Needless to say – there is no cause for concern…

First things first

A lot has happened over the past week! And I'm sure that over the next couple of days, most of it will find it's way here. But er certainly need to put first things first...

I've come to find out that there were several people following the countdown. However, once the OB scheduled the c-section 5 days before the due date, that threw the whole count off. AND - it raised a VERY important question that I hadn't considered until it was brought to my attention (thanks dad!). "What are you going to do with the leftover bottles of beer?"

Well - I've been doing some checking and it seems that the answer is more complex than it first seems. It turns out that the Federal Government Family Oversite Committee imposes an early baby withdrawal tax that requires we put back a minimum of 20 bottles of beer. And the IRS (where would we be without them...) imposes an early withdrawal tax of 10 bottles and a penalty tax of 5 bottles and then taxes the penalty tax another 2 bottles (but none of that is "double taxation"). The State of Tennessee has some of the craziest liquor laws I've ever seen and they certainly like to tax their beer. Upon finding out that the Feds were taxing / penalizing us 37 bottles they informed us that the State ABC Board would impose another 13 bottle tax. The good news is that the 13 bottles would take care of all state, county, and local taxes and fees.

So it looks like we are going to have to add 50 bottles back to the fridge for having 5 bottles leftover.

I talked to our local distributor (who is WAY nicer than the tax boys) and he quoted me a price for the 50 bottles of beer. Then he politely inquired as to why I needed the extra 50 bottles (knowing that Mike wouldn't be born 50 days late!). I told him of my circumstance and we agreed that at some point in time the "boys in power" lost site of "for the people - by the people". He agreed to cut me a deal - rather than the 50 bottles of beer, he would give me a pony keg and "massage the paperwork" to make it all work out.

So the end result is that we now have a pony keg (80 bottles of beer!). The unfortunate part is that we might have to make that quick trip to the hospital at any point in time! Certainly not a good time tap the keg. So here's the plan...

Mike will be here on the 1st (maybe earlier! more to come in another post...). After he's here (you will all receive official notice of the arrivial!) everybody needs to migrate over to our house at some point in time to help drain this keg. We can make toasts to Thanksgiving, toasts to Christmas, toasts to babies, toasts to family and friends. The big thing is - this keg absolutely needs to be empty by December 31st. Because you don't want to know what the taxes and penalties will be for waiting until the first of the year...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another OB visit!

Another day – another trip to the doctor! 

Not that there is ever an insignificant visit to a doctor – especially when a pregnancy is involved.  But this visit carried a little extra importance.  Today we had an ultrasound to determine if Mike was still breech.  If he was, then we would have a “much more definitive” due date since we would be scheduling a c-section.  If he had flipped head down then it would be in Mother Nature’s hands…

It was pretty exciting being back in the ultrasound room.  We hadn’t seen any pictures of Mike since the Sept 22nd.  He has certainly grown quite a bit since then!  In some ways, it was the same as the other ultrasounds.  They measured his head circumference, measured the size of his belly, and measured the length of his femur.  With that, they determined that he is currently weighing in at 5 pounds 12 ounces.  They measured is heartbeat (and you have no problem seeing it beating on the monitor!) and it was a strong 150 beats per minute.  They listened to the blood flow through the umbilical cord – and they can do this cool red/blue overlay where you can actually see the blood going back and forth through the cord.

And then there were some new things.  They got some good views of his face.  We could watch him open his mouth and watch his chest rise and fall while he was practicing his breathing.  And everything was so much BIGGER!  Even with the screen zoomed out as far as it would go, his face barely fit!  And a cute little face it was.  Here’s a picture of him looking straight into the ultrasound wand with his hands resting on his cheek.


Ultrasound 11-12-09-1

So what’s the verdict?  Breech or not?  Is December 6th still “D-Day”?  Is Mom Nature in control or are the doctors going to take over?

After the ultrasound, we went into the regular patient room and met with the doctor.  She was pleased with how things are progressing but told Darlene that she needed to start taking it easier at work.  So she immediately decided to give up all of the 3 hour labs and just teach her lectures.  Everything else was fine.  Iron was good.  Strep-B was negative.  BP was staying remarkably low.  Blood sugar is good.  All systems go!  Just a little extra rest – because that’s what you are supposed to do!  And the OB visits have officially been stepped up to two days a week.

But the real news is…

Mike is still head up!  And at nearly 37 weeks, the chances of him flipping for a “natural” birth are essentially nil.  That means that it’s officially a “scheduled delivery” and the big day will be on December 1st at 8am!!!  It’s officially scheduled at the hospital and all of the pre-admission paperwork is complete.  That makes it a mere 19 days away…

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Playing with the dogs…

Fall has arrived! The leaves are just past their prime. The weather is cool and sunny and the gentle breeze blowing through the trees brings the leaves down in a rainbow of colors.

The dogs love it. This time of year, it’s all we can do to get either of them to come inside. They spend the whole day outside, playing, wrestling, barking, napping. They absolutely love it – and we absolutely love enjoying it with them!

This morning, we snapped a couple of pictures of them playing. It’s really funny to see foxy in the 12 inch deep leaves! She’ll run and bark and bark and run and then jump head first into a pile of leaves. She all but disappears, and she has an uncanny knack for being perfectly still and quiet so that you can’t see her. It certainly is the dog version of “hide and seek”.

DSC_0013 (2) C’mon sis! Let’s go play!

DSC_0007 (2)

You hide – I’ll seek…

DSC_0010 (2)

Betcha can’t see me!

DSC_0009 (2)

Where did she go?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Scared to death! (A very special thank you)

Some know - but most don't. Bryon was "invited" to some last minuted training in Nashville this week. While it was certainly not the most opportune time to be 170 miles from home ("your wife is HOW many weeks pregnant?!?!?!?!?), the only other option was to take the training at the first of the year. All things being equal, Bryon and Darlene both decided that it was better to be in Nashville while Mike was "safely tucked away" rather than traveling within the first couple of months after Mike has been unleashed upon the world. After all, the pregnancy has gone marvelously well with the exception of some issues with brushing teeth.

So Bryon packs his bags and heads to Nashvegas. Darlene's fall allergies had finally worked their way into her chest (like the usually do) and had called the doctor to see if she could get her usual prednisone prescription to clear it up before it became pneumonia. Bryon left strict orders to call immediately after the doctors visit so he would know everything was alright.

Darlene called later that afternoon and started the conversation with "you'll never believe this". The doctor was admitting her to the hospital!!! Right away - do not pass go - do not collect $200. WHAT?!?!?!!!? You've got to be KIDDING!!!!!!

You can't put into words the kind of fear stricken panic that passed through Bryon's very soul. He does a pretty good job showing the "macho man" side of the pregnancy (happy, excited, can't wait for "the boy" to get here) and hiding the not so "macho" side (nervous, scared, anxious, "what do you mean 'they don't come with instructions' "). At that very moment - 170 miles might as well have been a million.

So, what in the world had happened to Darlene? Her blood oxygen saturation (while just barely out of the "normal" range) failed to rise after a breathing treatment. Worried about low O2 levels for Mike, they decided to play it safe. To make a long story short - the OB and the Pulmonologist both agreed that it was overkill. Mike was better than fine. And a steroid shot, some Prednisone, and an antibiotic (along with some rest) and Darlene would be better than fine too! But she still got to spend the night at the hospital (for the first time EVER). And in the Labor and Delivery wing on top of it! After all, that's where all of the baby monitoring gadgets are!

The next day, she was back home and doing better. And even though she was barely in the hospital 24 hours - there are still a couple of extremely selfless people who helped out. So a big thank you to our neighbor (Todd) for taking care of the dogs - they were our first "babies" after all and we are sure they enjoyed the slumber party at your house! And also Todd's wife Maureen. Being able to ask your neighbor to break into your house and rescue your dogs is wonderful enough. When they break into your house so that they can bring clean underwear to the hospital (and then sit and visit for a couple of hours) - that is beyond words. So a big THANK YOU to Todd and Maureen!!!

And we can't forget Jim (the nearly world famous "Quad Dad"). You can only imagine what his evening is like when he gets home from work. And even with all of that, he fixed some chicken noodle soup and drove it over to the house so Darlene wouldn't have to cook. Oh - did I forget to mention that he worked to 4am doing some call testing? Talk about selfless...

And there are other countless people too - Pat Zing for find subs for Darlene's classes (and the subs themselves), the countless ears that have been bent listening to this story and the shoulders that have been leaned upon, the kind words, the "tips and tricks", the support, the relief (not just over the last two days, but over the last 8 months). We are not sure what we have done to be blessed with such wonderful friends, family, and co-workers. But believe us when we say that you are, each and every one, appreciated beyond words!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or treat!

All Hallows Eve has come and gone.  Once again, the little ghosts and goblins that plague so many places were few and far between at our house. 

I remember the first year at this house (almost 13 years ago now!).  Not knowing what to expect, we bought a ton of candy thinking that several goblins from the many neighboring sub divisions would swing by our door.  That first year, we had 3 trick-or-treaters.  And they all came as one group!  Not to say that we are surprised.  If I was 7 and was standing at the bottom of our street looking up that hill, I would probably skip it too.

This year was much the same.  “Ferocious Dragon” and “Maniac Monkey”, also known as Michael and Ben from a couple of houses down, paid us a visit.   They rang the doorbell and the dogs started going crazy.  We thought the dogs might scare the kids.  However…

Ferocious Dragon stepped up to the door.  Unfazed by the growling and barking creatures that had sprung from the depths of the house, lunging and jumping, guarding the candy with their very lives.  This was going to be harder than anticipated.  Ferocious Dragon sprang forward in a most vicious dragon pose, arms in the air, head tilted back, sharp teeth gleaming in the moonlight.  Sucking in air like never before, he tilted back his head and let out a deafening roar.  It was working!!!  The barking creatures cowered back as the roar continued, shaking the very ground on which they were standing.  Trembling in obvious intimidation to Ferocious Dragon’s superiority, they fled back in to the depths of the haunted dungeon.  Ferocious Dragon peered carefully through the entry way.  Unbelievably, the Pregnant Princess was right there, completely unharmed with the Charming Prince right at her side!  Free at last!  Pregnant Princess was so grateful that she showered Ferocious Dragon with some of the finest confections in the land.

Or at least that’s how the story goes…


Ferocious Dragon lets out a deafening roar!


Maniac Monkey with his dad!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It’s BASKETBALL time in Tennessee!

Sure – right this very second we are sitting in our living room watching College Gameday (the FOOTBALL version).  We’ve watched the highlight of Tennessee nearly beating Alabama.  They’ve given Tennessee the edge today (must be the home field advantage) over number 25 South Carolina.  Lee Corso has said, “Not so fast my friend” about 100 times already.  And we are hardly paying attention to it at all.  I guess it’s sort of a “basking in the afterglow”…

Because a significant event happened last night.  Bruce Pearl officially unveiled the 2009-2010 basketball team!  And what a team it is.  Fast on offense with lots of fast breaks packed with an unrelenting defense that guards the ball for the full 94 feet.  And they let it loose last night against North Alabama last night in a 117 to 79 exhibition victory.

And that’s not all.  Obviously, in an exhibition game, you don’t have all of the pieces plugged together yet.  Bruce has enough talent this year that is having trouble getting it down to a 8 or 9 man rotation (he played 14 people last night).  And even with scoring 117 points, Bruce admitted that he only has about 10% of the offensive plays in place. 

So sure – we’ll be watching some football today.  And we’ll watch Tennessee take on “the ol’ ball coach” and South Carolina tonight.  But watch out.  Roundball is coming to a television near you!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Nursery Is Complete!

Yes indeed.  Little Mike’s room is ready for his arrival! 

Well – ok.  You caught me.  It’s not really 100% ready – but it’s finished enough to give you guys a few pictures!  We still have two small things left to do.  We still need to hang the valance – but we need a rod first.  And we need to put the rocker in the room – but we need to get a rocker first!

So here’s the story on the room.  About two years ago (yes, you read that correctly – two years ago) we had talked about what to do with this room.  We decided that it would be a multi-purpose room.  Music for Bryon.  Crafts and scrapbooking for Darlene.  Darlene decided that she wanted it painted a calming color – perhaps a blue color.  One weekend when Darlene was out of town, Bryon decided to whip the room into shape.  Rip up carpet.  Paint the room.  Put down some laminate flooring.  Hang some crown molding.

Darlene laughed when she came back home.  “It looks like a baby boy’s room”!!!

Fast forward two years and we decided to try and have a baby.  The home pregnancy test shows the double line.  The ultrasound confirms it.  A baby is on the way!  Call it parents intuition (or the fact that we already had a blue room), but we always felt that it would be a baby boy.

So since the room was already blue – only some slight remodeling was in order.  Bring in the baby crib.  Hang up some shelving.  Put up a few decorations.

We picked out some colors based on the crib bedding.  It is primarily blue (the same blue as the paint on the walls) with some green and brown in it.  We matched the green and the brown to paint some accents.  The brown paint had a great name for a baby’s room.  “Melted Chocolate” – yum.  The green on the other hand was not such a baby name.  “Cabbage Green”. 

So mix up some baby blue.  Add a little melted chocolate.  Top it off with some cabbage green.  And viola!  A room for Mike!

The ultrasound agrees that it’s a boy.  However, Bill Cosby (who has become a parental reference of sorts) has told us that God has a sense of humor.  Here’s His chance!  A girl would REALLY throw us for a loop!


DSC_0002 Notice the Smiley bank at the bottom.  That’s from Bryon’s room when he was little!  And the dresser it is sitting on is from Darlene’s room!


“M” is for Mike!


It’s hard to see in this picture – but above the bed is a quote that says “Every good and perfect gift comes from above…”


And for those of you following along with the countdown – Forty bottles of beer on the wall.  Forty bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around.

To be continued…

Friday, October 23, 2009

Birth and Babies graduation

We’ve done it.  We are trained professionals.  Five weeks of grueling training.  10 hours of actual classroom experience.  We’ve graduated and are completely planned out and prepared for the birth of this baby.

Ha!  Not in our wildest dreams!  While it’s true that we have completed the class (and we have the “diploma” to prove it) – not even the two of us are naive enough to believe that!  At best, we’ve learned that we need to put together a plan (which we’ve done) and that we need to be prepared to throw the whole plan out the window!  We’ve heard that babies don’t always do what we plan for them to do…

So our course was called “Birth and Babies”.  The first four classes were all about “birth” (and the planning and then why you might need to throw it out the window).  The last class was “babies” and some fundamental care (did you know you have to feed these things?).

So we get to class and check out our assigned “baby” – ours was a girl named Diana.  We covered all of the basic creams, lubes, ointments, sterilizers, umbilical cords, circumcision (poor little fella), pacifiers, bottles, formula, milk storage, etc, etc, etc. 

Then we moved on to the actual baby.  We learned how to swaddle.  It certainly was easy with the plastic doll.  I’m certain that Mike will be just as still and cooperative.  We got to undress and dress the baby.  Again – we excelled at this and we are both positive that Mike will lay still and allow us to change his clothes at will.  We got to change diapers.  This was yet another easy task and again, we are certain that Mike will lay still while we wipe his butt, lube him up, and put on a fresh diaper.  And our practice baby didn’t pee on us or puke on us.  Again, we have talked with Mike and he seems agreeable to this.

IMG00005-20091013-1907Look at that expert swaddling! 

Then comes the more humorous part of the class.  We got to give Diana a bath.  “Sure”, you say.  “What’s the humor in that?”

Well – Diana had something sticky on her belly.  We had our little tube of water with a little bit of soap in it.  We washed her up, but the unknown sticky substance remained.  In an effort to be nice to the next couple to “adopt” Diana, we decided to try a little more diligently to remove the substance.  More soapy water.  Scrub a little harder.  Little did we know that we had began to draw the attention of Nurse Nancy who was running the class.

The unknown substance was being rather stubborn.  We decided more soap was in order.  We opened up the bottle and poured a little directly on Diana.  That was when Nurse Nancy (with a look of disbelief on her face – after all, we had been star pupils) decided she had better intervene.  “Ummmm – you really don’t need to scrub quiet so hard.  Babies skin is pretty sensitive.  And you should put the soap in the water and not directly on the baby.”

We started laughing which made Nurse Nancy a little more nervous.  I could see that she was beginning to doubt our abilities!  So we quickly showed her the unknown sticky substance and she gave a huge sigh of relief!

And all was good in the world again.  Class ended a short while later, and Nurse Nancy handed us our diploma.  Ahhhhhhh – already a successful parent and Mike isn’t even born yet.  Good thing that he has already agreed to be as cooperative as our plastic training baby!

Are you following the countdown?  If you are – here it goes!  “Forty-four bottles of beer on the wall.  Forty-four bottles of beer.  Take on down.  Pass it around.”

Yikes – it’s getting close now.  Less than two cases to go…

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We’ve been busy!

Yes.  It certainly has been a while since we posted.  But there has certainly been a lot going on!  Rather than run it all together in one long post, we thought we give you a little teaser.  A preview of coming attractions if you will…

First – we have officially graduated from our birth and babies class!  Now we are trained professionals (ha!).  Once again, Bill Cosby comes to mind.  We will fill you in with all of the details very soon!

And we have been working on the baby’s room.  It is now 99% done.  We have just a little to do above the crib.  It would have been finished this weekend, but Bryon made a small mistake that requires a trip to the store.  Oops!  As soon as we get it done, we will snap some pictures for you all to see.

But we don’t want to leave you completely empty handed (so to speak).  Darlene’s sister had a beautiful baby girl!  We put a quick blurb about it in a previous post but there is so much more to tell.  It was a scheduled cesarean and mom and baby are both doing well.  Here’s the story.  Darlene’s sister, Diane, had placenta previa.  It’s a condition where the placenta blocks the cervix making a normal delivery impossible. 

Having a scheduled c-section is a little scary when you had a “normal” delivery with your other two kids.  Darlene made the trip to Stanton to be with her sister while the birth was taking place.  She was prepped.  The spinal tap was inserted.  The tent was raised.  The doctor walked in and gave her a little pinch on her belly and asked “can you feel this?”  Much to his surprise, she said “Ouch!  Yes I can feel that!”. 

The doctor was a little surprised by that.  They made some adjustments.  Turned some knobs.  Pinched again.  “Ouch!”

The doctor then explained that since everything was already prepped, the only thing to do was to use a general anesthesia.  Poor Diana.  She was already nervous enough just having the c-section.  She had never had any sort of surgery in her life and this had now turned in to a full blown major procedure with a general anesthesia. 

Fortunately, there were no additional complications!  Amber Penelope was born mere minutes later and Diane was awake and holding her a short time after that.  They are both home and doing great! 

And here’s an opportunity to make a good ending even better.  As you can imagine, Darlene’s mom was very excited that both of her daughters were pregnant.  It’s a special bond between mother and daughter.  And it’s just as special between sisters.  But when both sisters are expecting, those bonds grow in a way that is truly spectacular.  Unfortunately, Darlene’s mom didn’t get to see those births.  But this is not a sad story!  You see, her middle name was Penelope.  And we we know that she is looking down and smiling and that the bond between Amber Penelope had her mom will be every bit as strong.  Isn’t life truly beautiful…


And if you are following the countdown, we are officially past the halfway point!  Here it goes…  Forty-eight bottles of beer on the wall.  Forty-eight bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around.

To be continued…………………………

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dogs, acorns, and the National Anthem…

If you live anywhere near Knoxville, you have undoubtedly realized that we have had more rainfall than a typical this year.  In some ways, the rain has been nice.  Especially after two years of officially classified “drought conditions”.  Here it is, the second week of October, and most trees still have green leaves while the fruit trees and flowering trees are just starting to turn red and orange.  The fall colors should be spectacular this year.

The fantastic part is that we can enjoy those fall colors just by sitting out on our deck.  Not only do we have the woods behind the house, but our own backyard has several Sugar Maples that provide beautiful pinks and reds.  And the gigantic Pin Oaks and White Oaks in the yard put on a fantastic show of yellows and oranges.  When they are all in full color, you can walk upstairs on a sunny day and it looks like pink lights are on in the rooms.

Yesterday, we noticed something else that the rain has provided for (other than the occasional frog getting trapped in our garage).  You see – yesterday was a fairly windy day as a cold front was sweeping through.  Our smallest dog absolutely loves being outside chasing squirrels and birds and yesterday was no exception.  Even our bigger dog, who prefers more to be inside, couldn’t turn down the great weather.  The weather was so nice that we just left the door open and let them come and go as they pleased.

Then suddenly a gust of wind started blowing and looking out the window it appeared that large brown hailstones were falling from the sky!  The dogs were ducking and running for cover – scattering everywhere with cartoon like motions.

I realized how odd it is that hail would be falling on a relatively sunny day.  Not to mention that they were brown.  Some investigation is in order here!  Carefully stepping out onto the deck (and staying under the protection of the eve of the house) I reached down and picked up one of the “hailstones”  Turns out it was an acorn!

Now these aren’t the normal “pea sized” acorns that normally fall from these trees.  These acorns are larger than quarters and there are hundreds – even thousands – falling from the trees.

The dogs enjoyed the rest of the day from the safety of the house while looking out the window on to the deck.  After being caught in the “storm” they had little interest in being outside.  The hickory nuts aren’t quiet ripe yet – there may be another storm brewing…

Monster Acorn Under attack by monster acorns!

On a completely separate note – a family member sent us a video of some very talented little girls singing the National Anthem and a Texas Tech basketball game.  Some of you may have seen this already – but if you haven’t, take two short minutes out of your day to watch (and listen to!) this short clip.  Sometimes we get too caught up in red states or blue states, being liberal or being conservative, or advancing the party (or worse – ourselves) rather than advancing our country.  24 hour news programs and talking head pundits with radio shows who are more interested in “sensationalizing” a story to boost ratings or promote an agenda.  Underneath it all, we are ALL Americans.  And we live in these UNITED Stated of America.

So for two minutes, listen to these 5 young girls sing and don’t think of yourself as a republican or democrat.  Think of yourself as proud to be an American.


And for those of you who are joining in on the countdown – here it goes!  “Fifty-seven bottles of beer on the wall.  Fifty-seven bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around………”  To be continued!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another “Birth and Babies” class under the belt…

Today was the fourth installment of our birth and babies class.  Four down and one to go.

We completed our “birth” portion of the class tonight.  We now have no disillusions about natural birth, induced birth, birth with “pain relief”, and even cesarean birth.  We’ve even had the opportunity to “watch” each type of birth (obviously on video) and I have to say – the cesarean procedure, while relatively safe, certainly looks scarier than the others!  Who knew that skin (and the abdominal muscle!) could stretch like that…

And tonight we moved on to the “babies” part of the class.  We learned about some of the more “gross” aspects of the few days after birth (as if moms haven’t gone through enough up to this point – I guess a little more “humble humility” gets poured on).  We also learned about the color of poop (who knew?).  And we learned about car seats!  So I guess with one more class to go – we are nearly experts!!!

And if anyone believes that – please watch the following clips regarding experts in childbirth (here’s part one and here’s part two).  Boy, I wish I had that $17,000 Ferrari…



Here’s our little “practice” baby – safe and secure in it’s car seat!


We hope you enjoyed the comic relief!  And if you happen to be following the countdown – Sixty bottles of beer on the wall.  Sixty bottles of beer.  Take on down.  Pass it around……

To be continued!!!!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Family and friends are the most beautiful thing…

What a big weekend we have had!  I don’t even know where to begin.  It’s easy to say “start at the beginning” – so let’s give that a whirl.

The first big event of the weekend was - Darlene’s sister had her baby this past Friday.  Darlene was actually there in the delivery room and got to be the first person (after the doctor of course!) to get to welcome little Amber Penelope into the world.  It was a wonderful experience that put many of the concerns and fears and anxieties and questions about delivering babies all at ease.  And the reward was a beautiful new niece that will only be a few weeks older than Mike!

Then it was off to Evansville for the weekend.  And an action packed weekend it was!  Saturday, Bryon’s mom (with some help from the special hostess Kiersten) had a baby shower for Darlene.  It really was a wonderful time.  It was enjoyable enough just to see all of the friends and family all gathered under one roof!  We could have sat and visited with everyone all night long.  And the wonderful gifts?  Well that was just the icing on the cake.  We truly love you all!

Of course, we couldn’t see everyone on Saturday.  And those of you who couldn’t make it – we tried to get around to see you all on Sunday.  We made it to a few stops.  But not nearly everyone!  When it was 7:30 (that’s pm - our time!) and just leaving Haubstadt – we decided that we should probably head for the house. 

We really wish the weekend could have been longer and we could have spent long hours with everyone.  But we didn’t get home until 1:30 (that’s a.m.!!!!).  Wow – that made for a really long Monday!  But rest assured that even if we didn’t get around to see everyone in person we were thinking about each and every one of you.  And we consider ourselves the luckiest people in the universe to have the friends and family that we do!!!

And if you are following the countdown…

61 bottles of beer on the wall (Only sixty-one?  Are you kidding me?)  61 bottles of beer (I’m sorry – you must be mistaken. Only sixty-one? ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh…).  Take one down.  Pass it around.

To be continued!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two women, two guitars, two mics, one great evening.

This past Friday, we had a wonderful opportunity to get out of the house for an evening.  There was a band – the Indigo Girls – playing in Knoxville.

It was a reunion of sorts for Bryon.  He first saw them at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver way back in 1989 and has been a fan ever since.  Twenty years later, it was at the historic Bijou Theater - built in 1817 which makes it the fourth oldest building in Knoxville.

The great part about their Knoxville show was how much it was stripped down.  The stage was completely empty with the exception of two microphone stands and a small set of speakers.  No drums.  No bass.  No keyboard.  They (the two “girls” that make up the Indigo Girls – Amy and Emily) came out on the stage carrying two guitars.  The music began.  Beautiful music that made you want to sing along with wonderful words filled with emotion.  All from two little guitars and two lovely voices.

And the played and played and sang and sang in the old historic theater.  It was music that makes you feel good with words that touch your heart.  We clapped and cheered and cheered and clapped – not just from the enjoyment of the music, but also because of the fascination that it all came from two little guitars and two women with extraordinary talent.



The Indigo Girls – live at the Bijou Theater!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vols win!

Last night, Lane Kiffin and the Tennessee Volunteers took the field once again.  The weather had been less than cooperative all day dumping several inches of rain on the field before the rain stopped (just before kickoff!).  But considering that we have people that get PhD’s taking care of that field – it was in remarkable condition!  Even more remarkable – it looked as good at the end of the game as it did at the beginning…

The Vols were taking on Ohio University.  No – NOT Ohio State.  Ohio University.  There was some expectations of another 60+ whipping a la Western Kentucky.  But alas, the game was much closer than comfortable.  If it weren’t for a few key plays (like our defense getting an interception and running it back for a touchdown) – the mighty Wildcats of Ohio might have pulled off the upset.  But in the end we were victorious, 34 to 23.  Not an impressive win – but we will take it.

And speaking of impressive – what about those Hoosiers!  If you didn’t see the game, you need to flip over to SportsCenter right now and watch the highlights.  They played Michigan down to the wire.  Indiana had the lead all the way up to the fourth quarter.  Michigan scored a touchdown with 2 1/2 minutes to go to take a 3 point lead and ended up winning 36 to 33.  Man!  That was CLOSE!  The Hoosiers certainly looked better on the field than the Vols did.  We need to try and get a non-conference game scheduled!!!!!

And on a completely different note – today starts week 30 of the pregnancy!  Ten short weeks to go.  That means it’s time for the countdown!  70 bottles of beer on the wall.  70 bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around. 

To be continued…………………

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Baby Update!

Finally!  It’s a baby update!

So – the third trimester is well underway.  The biggest change so far (besides getting bigger!) is that we visit the OB every other week now.  That means that we’ve been to the doctor a couple of times since the last baby update.

They have performed another 1 hour glucose test.  The blood sugar came back as 104!  That would be a great number for non-pregnant people.  It’s a FANTASTIC number for someone who is 29 weeks pregnant.  So good, in fact, that the doctor has said there will be no more glucose testing!  WOOT!  No more horrible orange drink!!!

And of course they check blood pressure every visit.  Last visit is was 102 over 69.  Again – great numbers for non-pregnant people but FANTASTIC numbers for someone who is 29 weeks pregnant.

But what about Mike?  He is doing just fine in his little baby cocoon.  He is weighing in at just under 3 pounds!  And he is CERTAINLY enjoying kicking his momma. 

We tried twice to get a 3D/4D ultrasound.  For those of you who might not be familiar – click here to see what the pictures look like.  They are really cool and we were really excited to be able to “see” baby Mike.

Unfortunately – we couldn’t get the 3D/4D images.  It seems like the biggest reason was the placenta getting in the way.  It was causing the 3D/4D images to appear “watery” and not nearly as clear as those pictures in the link above.

But we were not disappointed at all!  The first attempt we saw Mike with both of his feet folded up over his head.  It was a very interesting view!  And we were able to confirm once again that he his indeed a boy.  In the second ultrasound, he still had one foot over his head and the other one was folded underneath him like he was sitting on it.  And this ultrasound was particularly interesting – the tech had zoomed in on his chest and you could see it rising and falling while he was practicing his breathing!  And overall, he was particularly active.  It was very interesting to see him move on the monitor while feeling him move!  That was great…

And for those of you counting down – 73 bottles of beer on the wall.  73 bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around.  To be continued!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another football update

Week three of the NCAA football season has come and gone.  This week was tough for Tennessee football.  A new coach.  A new offense.  A new defense.  It’s like having a brand new team with all of the same players.

So nobody expected to run the table this season.  And if you asked most folks – they would say that they would be happy if the Vols won more than they lost and were at least competitive in the “big” games.

And Saturday was certainly a BIG game.  Number one ranked Florida.  That’s tough.  And adding fuel to the fire was some “motivational” quotes from Coach Kiffen.  The one that was played the most was during the press conference when it was announced that he was the new head coach back in December.  He was looking forward to the Vol Walk.  He was looking forward to running through the “T”.  And he was looking forward to singing Rocky Top all night long when we beat Florida.

Ouch!  The press had a field day with that last week!  Especially with Florida being number one and the Vols being unranked.  “Florida is going to kill them.”  “Coach Meyer won’t let off the accelerator all day.” 

And indeed – the bookies thought the same thing.  The last I saw – Florida was favored to win by 29 1/2 points.  Everyone expected us to leave Gainesville with our head hung low.

So how did it turn out? 

We did indeed chalk another one up in the “L” column.  But they only won by 10 points – 23 to 13.  Our defense looked good – holding back an extremely high powered offense.  And the Florida defense hadn’t allowed a touchdown since sometime last year – until they played us that is!

So we may have started the season out 1 and 2.  But we all are excited about the prospects of the rest of the season!

And for those of you patiently waiting for a baby update – your wait is nearly over!  I know – I know.  It’s been two weeks since a baby update.  but we have a Dr. appointment this afternoon and we’ll fill you in on all the latest news…

And the countdown continues!  75 bottles of beer on the wall.  75 bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around.  To be continued!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

UT Football and the Lane Kiffen sequel

This past Saturday, UT and the “Lane Train” took on their first BCS team of the year.  UCLA.  The Bruins.   Not exactly a BCS powerhouse – but they did beat us last year so there was an element of revenge.

However, that would not prove to be enough.  Unfortunately, our quarterback fumbled a snap and then threw three interceptions in a row.  And against any BCS team, if you turn the ball of FOUR times, you’ve got a pretty good chance at chalking one up in the “L” column.

So my take on it is – week one was the week for all of the Coach Lane Kiffen fans (or CLK or the “Lane Train”).  An excellent outing.  A “see – I told you so” performance.  Week two is for all of the Phillip Fulmer fans.  Proof that not all of the pieces are in place.  A “see – I told you the grass isn’t always greener” performance.

The true test is coming up. Since the “downfall” of Alabama football – the biggest rivalry in the SEC East has been UT and Florida.  And this year they are playing in the swamp against a VERY good Florida team.  We’ll see how things look when the Lane Train pulls out of Gainsville…

And which side of the fence am I sitting on?  Am I a “sorry to see Fulmer go” person?  Have I been drinking the “Kiffen Kool-Aid”?  Actually – I’m neither.  I enjoy seeing the football team win and I’m disappointed when they lose.

But I’m REALLY excited when I look and see the the MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM has only SEVEN WEEKS until they start exhibition play!  WOOOOT WOOOOT!!!!!

And speaking of countdowns – 82 bottles of beer on the wall.  82 bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around……

To be continued!!!!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Celebrating another milestone

This weekend marks the end of an era.  Ok – maybe it’s not quite that monumental.  But it does mark the end of the second trimester!

Twelve short weeks until baby Mike comes out to play.  It’s unbelievable how quickly the pregnancy is progressing!  It seems like just yesterday that the HPT came back positive!  And it’s absolutely amazing (a miracle really) at how easy the pregnancy has been.  Mikey has been taking it easy on his mamma.

So it seems that you are supposed to celebrate every time a monumental occasion occurs.  So what do you do to celebrate the beginning of the third trimester? 

Well – why not turn back the clock 25 years!

So we loaded up in the car and headed out to the Rick Springfield concert!  And we certainly had a lot of fun.  Even Mike was dancing around!  Rick certainly gets around good for an old guy.  He even sang songs out in the audience.  Not on a small stage out in the crowd – but actually standing on the seats and jumping from row to row while everybody was grabbing on to him. 


Rick Springfield live in Knoxville!


Not too bad for a guy that’s 60!  That’s right sixty years old.  We both hope that we are that energetic when we are 60!  Here’s our new goal – to be 60 and riding our bikes mo 60 mile rides.  I’m pretty sure we can do it!!!

And now the countdown continues.  Tomorrow officially starts the 28th week with a mere 12 weeks to go (ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh).  So strike up the band and sing along.  85 bottles of beer on the wall.  85 bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around. 

To be continued…

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The most common question…

When we first announced that we were going to have a baby, we got a lot of interesting questions.  Most of them involved strange cravings (nope – haven’t had any) or morning sickness (is it still called “morning” sickness in the afternoon?).  Recently, the questions have began to focus on one central theme.  “Have you registered yet?”

We have recently been “practicing”.  We’ve both been to “Babies-R-Us” several times over the last few months and it seems that all we could do is walk around the super-sized store and say “Hey – look at this thing-a-ma-bob.  I wonder if we’ll need one of these?”

We began to realize that this was a daunting task.

So we gathered up input from lots of moms (and thanks for all of it – feel free to keep it coming!).  And then we contacted our “secret weapon”.  Allison, the nearly super-human quad mom with mom powers beyond our comprehension or understanding, agreed to accompany us on our registry adventure. 

Without her help, I’m sure that we would have never known about “baby safe feeder” (which is a great way for baby Mike to get some fresh fruits without the choking hazard!) or that we should add some “lap pads” to the list so that when changing a particularly messy diaper we can lay the lap pad down over the changing pad (or whatever surface we might be using) and if the diaper spills a little it gets on the pad (much easier to throw in the washer) instead of the changing pad!

And a special thanks to Jim as well.  He spent the evening wrangling four three-year-olds so that Allison could help us out.  That is certainly not a small feat!

So the list is there.  There’s about a gazillion things on it.  I wonder where it will all fit!  Feel free to check it out.  Just go to Babies-R-Us (either the store or online).  It is under both of our names.

And for those of you on the countdown – 87 bottles of beer on the wall.  87 bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around.  To be continued…

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day Visitors!

Labor Day Weekend.  The unofficial end of summer.  Some think it’s a sad time – especially the kids that have to go back to school.  But for us – anytime you get a paid day off, it’s reason to celebrate.

And what a better way to celebrate than to do it with family!  Bryon’s dad, sister (Tracey), niece (5 month old Kylie) and nephew (Treylan) made the trek from Evansville down to K-town for a little visit.  They even brought the dog (Macy) so that Izzy and Foxy could join in the visitation fun!

We hade a great time.  Saturday, we watched the football game (how can you have a bad time when the Vols win?).  After the game, we let Treylan loose on the Wii.  Bowling, boxing, baseball, driving, carnival games, even some Guitar Hero Metallica.  How cool is it to see Trey jamming to “To whom the bell tolls”?  It was an awesome evening.

Sunday, we made the trip to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.  There was a slight drizzle in the air.  We figured that most of the out-of-towners would have drove in Friday night or Saturday and that the light rain would keep any locals from driving down.  So we didn’t take the “super secret back way” – which is shorter when traffic is heavy, but longer if it’s not.

Oops – traffic was heavy!  But all was good.  After all – what’s the difference between sitting around the living room and sitting together in traffic?  We still had lots of time to visit!

We finally made it to the aquarium.  Trey and Kylie had a marvelous time.  Trey was so amazed with all of the fish, he could hardly decide what to see first!  I don’t think we could pin him down to one favorite thing – but he certainly liked the shark tunnel, picking up the horseshoe crabs, petting the stingrays (oh – and don’t forget the piranha's and the king crabs and the giant catfish and the jellyfish and the blow fish and the………)


Treylan and Aunt Darlene visit the giant Catfish

Kylie Jo was simply on sensory overload!  There was so many moving colors and lights and sounds and people that her big baby eye peepers were looking all over the place.  The absolute best part for her was at the very end.  Passing through the gift shop, Tracey decided to buy Kylie a souvenir “pink stuffed stingray”.  She gave it to Kylie and her eyes popped open and she broke out into that big toothless baby grin.  It was as good as gold.


Kylie meets her stingray!


After all of the excitement of the aquarium, we ate some dinner at the Apple Barn.  If you’ve never been then you need to go.  And if you have been – then you know that even with an appetite as big as what we had, we still brought food home!  It was delicious as usual!

So it was a wonderful visit.  We only hope that they come back to see us soon!!!!!!

…and for those of you counting – 88 bottles of beer on the wall.  88 bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around.  To be continued…

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Vols are UNDEFEATED!

Ok.  So it was only their first game of the season.  But give me a minute to make my case and you’ll see why everybody around here is so excited!

First – the football team was miserable last year.  The were last in the COUNTRY (and yes – I mean the United States – not Paraguay) in the percentage of drives that ended in a “three and out”.  That’s sad enough.  But they also finished up last year with a 5 and 7 record.  They only won 3 SEC games.  They lost to Wyoming on homecoming day for goodness sake!  I could go on and on, but you get the point.  Besides – you should study the past, learn from it, and move forward.  Not wallow in your own self misery.  So moving forward…

This year, we’ve got a new coach.  Actually a bunch of new coaches.  Everybody has been walking around on pins and needles for weeks wondering how they would do.  Not to mention that Tennessee hasn’t won a season opener since 2006 (UGH!).

So today we found out.  They came out of the gates looking good and finished up with a 63 to 7 win!  And they played good!  Not great – but good enough to have the biggest season opening win since they beat UNLV in 1996.

So indeed.  Undefeated.  The best starting record in three years.  It finally feels good to say - “It’s football time in Tennessee”!!!!

And for those of you counting down - “92 bottles of beer on the wall.  92 bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around…”.  To be continued…

Monday, August 31, 2009

Strange days indeed.

So this morning we woke up (that’s always a good thing).  The sun was just starting to peak over the ridge.  Fire up the coffee maker.  Take a look at the thermometer.  Wow!  59 degrees!

Pinch, pinch, pinch.

Nope – I’m really awake.  And it’s still 59 degrees.  And it’s still August.

Well then!  Let’s load up the coffee cup and head out on the deck.  I certainly need to take advantage of this little slice of heaven before the work week begins.

Ahhhhhh.  The smell of fresh coffee.  The dogs running around the yard.  The sun just coming up over the ridge.  A gentle little breeze.  This is the life.  I could get used to this!  If only EVERY August in Knoxville were like this!

And for those of you following the countdown – 97 bottles of beer on the wall.  97 bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around… (to be continued).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The final countdown begins…

The day has come.  There are now officially less than 100 days until baby Mike’s due date.  What started out as 40 weeks – 280 days – has now been drawn down to a mere 99 days.  What seemed like a near eternity has flown by and has certainly become something that seems so close!

Of course, we had to do a little celebrating.  We already have a few things for Mike.  A few clothes, some onesies, bibs, hats, and some other little things that we’ve picked up at some consignment sales over the last few weeks.  But now there are less than 100 days.  Now we need to start getting serious!  We need to start making a list and checking it twice.  Wait a minute – that last thing is something for Santa…

So what did we do to celebrate?  We bought a baby bed!  Nothing says “oh my gosh there is a baby that is going to be living here” like having a baby bed.  It is so exciting!

Here's Mike's new bed!

Here’s Mike’s new bed!



And here’s a little tune to help you keep track of the number of days remaining until Mike’s due date…

“99 bottles of beer on the wall.  99 bottles of beer.  Take one down.  Pass it around”…  (to be continued)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Milestone crossings

It seems that there is always another milestone to cross during a pregnancy.  And today we are officially crossing another on.  There’s not a doctor’s visit, or an ultrasound.  There are no test results or classes attended.  Yet, this particular milestone seems to be among the more significant ones.

What milestone could it possibly be?

As of today, there are only 100 days until the due date!  100 small days.  The last “triple digit” day.  Only two weeks and two days until the third and final trimester.

So – starting tomorrow, the “official” countdown begins.  We want it to be something snappy.  Something that will stick in your head.  Perhaps a little tune where we can all whistle along.  I’m sure you can all thing of a “countdown” song that starts with 99.

Can’t think of what song it could be?  Tune in tomorrow!  And all posts from tomorrow until “due day” will end with the next line in the song!!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Unusual Weather

I’ve lived in Knoxville nearly 13 years.  For the previous 12, if you were to say the word “August”, I would associate it with 95 degree temperatures and 95% humidity which would combine for a heat index of 195 (with evening lows dipping all the way down to 85).  Brown grass.  Sweating just walking to the mailbox at 6am to get the morning paper.  Red ozone alert days with the weatherman telling “healthy” people to not be outside more than an hour and “people with breathing problems” to not go outside at all.  That’s August in Knoxville.

Except for this year!  Blame it on El Nino or El Nina or jet streams or Martians or Saturn’s moons or whatever.  This year has been absolutely wonderful (other than a little wet!).  We’ve only had 11 days above 90 this year (most of them in June) as compared to thirty-some-odd at this time last year, and sixty-some-odd at this time two years ago.  So you can say it’s the jet stream – I think it’s mother nature giving us a break…

So what should you do with this unforeseen gift of nature?  Why you should go outside and enjoy it of course!  And that’s just what we did.  A little backyard campfire.  A couple of cold beers (or lemonade if you happen to be pregnant!).  Sitting around and enjoying the company.  What a night.  We just might do it again tonight – especially since it’s going to be back down to 62 degrees…

backyard campfire

The weather is great – wish you were here!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our most recent doctor visit

Yesterday afternoon, we made our regularly scheduled visit to the OB.  The doctor continues to be pleasantly surprised with how smoothly everything is going!

Sure – it is certainly more exciting when you go to the doctor and get an ultrasound or a battery of tests and those results all come back normal.  But it is really comforting when the doctor says that everything is so normal that there is no need for any special tests or ultrasounds.

So she poked and prodded a little and she answered some questions.  She used her little portable doppler to measure Michael’s heartbeat.

That was the most exciting.  She put the goop on the probe and started listening.  Immediatly we heard the heartbeat – no rubbing the probe around and searching for little Mike!  The monitor said the heart rate was a healthy 140 beats per minute.

We had been listening to the reassuring lub-DUB lub-DUB lub-DUB for just a couple of seconds.  Then little Mike must have realized that attention was focused on him because suddenly from the doppler speaker there was a loud BOOM followed by a lot of rumbling!  Apparently, Mikey decided to kick the doppler probe and dance a little jig.  The doctor giggled a little and said “Wow!  He sure is active today!”

After a few minutes of flipping around, his heart rate had climbed to 150.  The next thing you know – he’s going to be asking for a little exercise bike to pass the time.  And he’ll deliver a little poke to the bladder as a reminder.  He is such a bad little boy – I love him!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The foyer is complete

Hey everybody!  We just wanted to post a quick pic of the completed foyer work!  It really looks great and we highly recommend that you come and see it in person!!!!  Not bad for a day and a half of work.

And this concludes our remodeling for a while.  Are we finished?  Of course not!  There’s always more plans and ideas in the works.  But for now – we are going to kick back and enjoy the new digs.  So come on over and kick back with us!


DSC_3074 The completed foyer tile marks the end of the downstairs remodel!

Friday, August 14, 2009

More Tile Work!

Zak and Mitch from Exact Tile are back at the house today.  For those of you who have been following the tile saga – I’m sure that you just gasped and are wonder what has gone wrong this time…

The answer is – nothing has gone wrong!  The kitchen tile is still absolutely wonderful and is as sturdy as it has ever been.  They are back today to replace the old foyer tile with tile that coordinates with the kitchen tile.  Since the living room touches both the foyer and the kitchen tile – it makes since to have them coordinate rather than be two different styles!  I had better watch out.  I may be working towards a new career as an interior designer.  Ok – maybe not…

At any rate, it looks fabulous!  The old tile is long gone (it only took about an hour to get it out) and the new tile is about 75% done!  Tomorrow will be the grout and viola – it’ll be done!  Two quick and fairly painless days.  Not too bad!

So once again, our thanks to the the Exact Tile crew – the owners, Marnie and Zak, and their sister Jennifer and the installers Bruce and the twins (Zak and Mitch).  If you are in the Knoxville area and need tile work – I would highly recommend them!