Tuesday, June 30, 2009

All those little expenses…

From the time you find out that you are pregnant – you are always caught up in those unexpected expenses.  The 800 co-pays.  Maternity clothes.  All of the little things you have to buy (should I get those alcohol test strips for breast milk?).  A new transmission for the car.

Well – ok.  Most people don’t have to get a new transmission because of a baby.  But we were out looking for maternity clothes and on the way home the car refused to move.  The five minute trip back home ended up taking about half an hour limping along.

Some quick searching on the internet quickly told us that this is certainly not an uncommon issue.  The 2003 Accord has a long and infamous history of failing at just over 100,000 miles (just after the warranty expires!).  And the interesting part is – apparently it’s a design problem!  The designed the transmission with absolutely NO external oil cooler!  It was only a matter of time before it “burned up”…

We took the car to a shop yesterday morning.  They gave us the news today.  The transmission is completely trashed.  A valve spring broke and pieces of the spring and the valve were thrown all throughout the transmission.  Lots of new parts are needed (bearings, valves, clutches, drums, bands, and a bunch of other stuff that I didn’t get to write down).

And you too can get all of these cool gizmos for the low, low price of $2700.  They will even put in a transmission oil cooler.

I hope the baby enjoys it.  After all - not every baby gets a transmission cooler before they are born!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Baby Update

Another doctors appointment has come and gone!  This one was a standard “4th month” checkup.  There were lots of questions (have you felt this – have you done that – have you seen any of this – have you had any of that – can we have some more of your blood - etc etc etc).  It was a lot like taking a test!

Fortunately, we had the right answer for all of the questions.  The doctor is very happy (even surprised) and how well things are going.  And since everything is going so well – the doctor decided not to do an ultrasound (bummer!).  But we did get to listen to the babies heartbeat – it’s still a strong 150 beats per minute!

The next big appointment is July 8th.  That’s the 2nd trimester anatomy ultrasound!  Lot’s of detailed pictures where the look at the eyes and look at the nose, count the fingers and count the toes.  And if baby cooperates – we’ll get to find out if it’s a boy or girl!

And there is just a little more than 23 weeks to go.  Wow!

Storm Damage

It’s been a rough June in Knoxville with the weather.  On the 18th – a particularly strong storm clobbered west Knoxville.  I really wish I had the camera with me – or that I had gone back out later to take some pictures.  Some of them were pretty incredible!

A lot of it was due to all of the prior rain we’ve had.  There were a lot of 100 year old trees that were uprooted simply because the ground was so soft.  There were scenes of destruction everywhere – a 80 foot oak tree that had taken out the entire corner of a house – or the super-sized tree that fell right down the middle of a Pontiac.

Actually, the Pontiac makes a good story.  It was parked at a hair salon not far from the house.  Imagine walking in to get your hair done and a bad storm rolls through.  You huddle under the hair dryer (not as good as a helmet – but in a  pinch, it’ll do).  Fifteen minutes later, the sun is out.  You finish your perm and walk outside to see that your car is now only two feet tall.

We escaped with much less damage.  The wind snapped one of the maple trees in our backyard. It wasn’t exactly a small tree (about 10 inches across at the stump) but it was snapped in half about 8 feet up the trunk.  At least it fell away from the house!


DSC_0246 The debris field



Some more firewood!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy News!

The last post was full of sad news.  So this one is chock full of happy news!

We got an email saying that Mike “Sharpie” Imel and Rachael Ayote and their son Edison officially welcomed the newest member of the family!

Franklin Henry Imel was born June 15th at 12:03am!  He is weighing in at a healthy 7 pounds 4 ounces and 20 1/2 inches long.  We can’t wait to visit with him.

And if you didn’t already know – you’ll figure it out from the birth announcement below.  Mike and Rachael are both engineers at GM.  I personally like the “innovative parental alert system”…



Sad News…

It’s never fun announcing sad news.  And this is certainly no exception.

Bryon’s step mom passed away on Friday June 12th.  And it really is a strange feeling.  Everyone knows that their days on this planet are numbered.  But when the end comes so unexpectedly, it makes it all that much more difficult.

And we’ve now had several days to grieve and reflect.  Sure – we are sad.  And sure – Debbie will be missed.  And if we all wanted to be selfish, we would do whatever we could to have her back with us.

But in the end – we are happy too.  She no longer has asthma.  She no longer has diabetes.  Her back pain is gone.  Her legs are healed and she’s walking around without pain.  No more trips to the hospital with pneumonia.  No more COPD.  She gets to visit with her mom.  She gets to visit with her dad.  She gets to visit with her brother. 

So – we will go on being sad.  But at the same time, we are happy that there is one more person in Heaven who is looking out for us.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Knoxville Tour de Cure

Last Saturday was the Knoxville Tour de Cure bike ride and the weather was absolutely perfect.  A beautiful day for a bike ride through the rolling hills and winding back roads of Roane and Loudon counties in East Tennessee.  The scenery really was great!

But the important part is the fundraising!  Over 425 riders brought in more than $84,000 (and still counting!).  That’s fantastic – and it is all due to the donations from all of you!

So a special thanks to everyone who donated online as well as everybody who made the cash donations.  And thanks to everyone “at the office” who contributed by buying the soft drinks in the fridge!  By the way – the drinks are still in the fridge and 100% of the money will still go to the ADA!

And if you would still like to donate – it’s not too late.  You can still go HERE and click on the “Sponsor Me” button.  It’s especially nice if you are looking for a tax deduction!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Looking at pictures

Last night, we were sitting in the living room.  We had just finished copying all of the scans of our ultrasound pics over to the AppleTV.

As a quick side note – if you don’t know what AppleTV is – it’s a pretty cool little box (about the size of a portable DVD player).  It stores digital pictures, videos, and music and will play it back on the big screen.  We currently have all of our digital pictures (several thousand), all of our cycling training videos (dozens of hours worth) and all of our music (almost 18 days worth) all on this little box.  And it is not anywhere near half full…

So back to the story.  We had copied the ultrasound pics over and were getting ready to watch the “slideshow” on the big screen.  The AppleTV automatically picks some music to play in the background while the pictures are flashing across screen.

We turn on the TV, turn on the AppleTV, select the pictures we want to watch, and hit play.  And here’s where it got a little weird.  The first ultrasound picture flashes up on the screen – and the background music that it picked to play was “Hallelujah” from Handel’s Messiah.  Nearly 18 days (that’s thousands and thousands of songs) to pick from and it chose “Hallelujah” for the ultrasound pics?  Especially when we were watching it on the day when we learned that the first trimester screening went exceptionally well.  Very interesting indeed…

Monday, June 8, 2009

First Trimester Screening

Last Wednesday we had yet another doctor’s appointment.  This one was rather interesting (and VERY long).  It was called a “First Trimester Screening”

It started with an interview with a “Genetic Counselor”.  She asked all kinds of family history questions like “Has anybody in your family had a heart attack before 50” and “Does anybody in your family have Down’s Syndrome”.  After what seemed like a million questions – she broke out her book.

First – it covered all of the different types of genetic disorders.  Many of the genetic disorders can’t be detected during a non-invasive screen (like the first trimester screen), but there are three very unique (and scarily common) disorders that can tested with 95% accuracy.

They are Trisomy-13, Trisomy-18 (both a fatal) and Down’s Syndrome (which is really Trisomy-21).  Down’s syndrome is extremely common in AMA pregnancies.  I still laugh at the “AMA” which stands for “Advanced Maternal Age”!  But at our “AMA”, the odds of Down’s is on average 1 out of 49 pregnancies.

So after the interview with the Genetic Counselor, we had an ultrasound.  They took measurements of the fluid at the base of the babies head (along with the other usual “crown to rump” and heartbeat measurements) and checked for the baby’s nose (apparently the nose develops late in Down’s babies).

Then we went to the lab and had some blood taken.  That was easy enough – just a quick whistle and it jumps right out of the arm!

Then we had to wait for the results – which came back today.  And the news is good!  The odd’s of Down’s has improved to 1 in 1501.  And the odds of Trisomy-13 and Trisomy-18 have both improved to over 1 in 2000.

One last note – during the ultrasound, we got to see all of the usual movements.  Arms waving.  Legs kicking.  Heart beating.  And we got to see some new ones too!  Mouth opening (apparently, they start drinking some of the amniotic fluid).  And maybe the coolest thing was – apparently, the umbilical cord was bothering the baby.  It kept reaching up and yanking it out of the way!

Here’s a couple of pics from the ultrasound for you to enjoy!


Ultrasound 06-03-09-3 If you look close, you can see my ear, eye, nose, and mouth!


Ultrasound 06-03-09-5

Here I am with my mouth open!  You can see my nose and

hand.  And the “zipper” at the bottom is my spine!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The quadruplets!

As you can imagine – most of our conversations these days are about babies.  And when we talk to our friends and families – we get all of the usual questions.  “When’s your due date?” or “How have you been feeling?” or “What about toothpaste?”

And if the conversation lasts longer than a question or two – it almost always turns to “Hey – what about those friends of your with the quads?”

Well – here’s the answer.  They are all doing great!  And they are all so darn cute that you wouldn’t believe it!  And they turn 3 later this month!  And sure – I’ve got a story or two (especially since they just got back from a week at the beach!) – but their mom and dad have MANY more stories than I will EVER have!

And if you want to keep tabs – you can cut out the middle-man (me!) and go directly to the source at harrisquads.blogspot.com.  Be sure to put it in your favorites!  The “terrible three’s” should be interesting…

Monday, June 1, 2009

The BIG News!

June 1st. That is the day we decided to announce the "big news". We decided it several weeks ago. Everything has been kept "hush hush" and on a "need to know" basis. It's been hard. Sneaking around behind people's backs. Secret phone calls. Mysterious appointments. Some people have become curious...

But as of today - right now - this very second - all of that is in the past! It's time for the big announcement. The big headline. Extra extra - read all about it. Ready or not - here it comes!

We are going to have a baby!

We really wish we could personally see / hear everyone's reaction to that! The few people we've told so far - the reaction has been mostly "Yeah, right..." - but it's true!

And there isn't a punch line (another popular reaction). And we aren't talking about another dog (although we treat our dogs like babies). And it's not adoption (although that's MORE than an admirable endeavor).

Nope - it's a real life "grow it at home" "do it yourself" baby! Today is the 13 week 1 day mark and the due date is December 6th. Everything is normal - the baby is currently 2 1/2 inches long (as of last Thursday) and has a strong heartbeat (a whopping 175 beats per minute). And the ultrasound picture shows that the baby has a big head (must take after dad)!!!

Still don't believe us? Here's a picture of the ultrasound from last Thursday!

Most of the people we've told have had some questions ("has Darlene had any weird cravings?" or "has Darlene had any morning sickness" or "do you know the sex yet"). And there is no way to anticipate them all (the answers to those are "no" and "no" - but there is a new aversion to toothpaste and "no - it'll be mid-July"...). So please - send us all of your curious questions. We would love to see them and will answer them all!

Of course, stay tuned. Same bat time. Same bat channel! We will keep you posted with all of the updates right here....