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!