Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The update (Part 3)

Hmmm.  At the rate we are going, this “three part update” might turn out to be a continuing series!

If you recall from the last post, we had left off with Mike’s birthday – which was three weeks ago now!  And we are back to that old cliché – time fly’s when you’re having fun (or is it time’s fun when you’re having flies – I never can remember…).  The next day was Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving certainly was special this year.  The holiday’s are time for celebrating with family.  Sure – technically this was Mike’s 2nd Thanksgiving.  But last year, we had just brought him home from the hospital.  As “brand new parents” (ahhh – those were the days), we were having trouble keeping up with AM and PM – we certainly had no idea what day of the week it was.

And with our current job “situation”, any time that we get to spend together as a family means so much to us!  And being able to spend five whole days together – it was the first time we were able to spend five days in a row for over 7 months – it really was something to cherish.

Mike’s “Nan” had come in the day before.  And we had one more visitor joining us.  After some successful visits to the “eye doctor”, Mike’s “Grandpa Lee” was cleared to make the trip to K-town!  So he hoped in the car Thursday morning and headed our way.

We had a wonderful time with some fabulous food.  A really wonderful “long” weekend and a great way to officially kick off the holiday season!  And have no worries if you weren’t able to make it to our house this year.  We plan on having Thanksgiving dinner at our house again next year!  It’ll be a “double party” since Mike’s birthday will be on Thanksgiving next year.  Come and join us!!!

Mike and Nan

Mike and Nan checking out the “Black Friday” adds.  Mike is already picking out toys!

Not an inch to spare...

We fixed so much food – there’s not an inch of counter space to spare!

Mike and Grandpa Lee

Mike and Grandpa discus their dinner plans

Is it done?

Is this stuff done yet?



Ready to go

Mike is suited up and ready to eat!



Everybody's happy!

Everybody’s happy after a full belly!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Update (part 2)

Part 2 of our “catch up” series takes us back to this past Wednesday.  Wednesday, November 24th.  It certainly was a big day!  It was Mike’s FIRST BIRTHDAY!!!

To coin a phrase, what a long strange trip it’s been (I don’t think Jerry would mind…)

From a parents point of view – it has all gone by so very fast.  We’ve always taken the time to enjoy each of Mike’s “stages”, but it seems like they are here today and gone tomorrow.  It’s just so incredibly hard to comprehend that a year ago, we were sitting in the hospital holding our newborn son.

From Mike’s point of view – I would say that the trip has been even longer and stranger!  Going from a nice comfy cocoon to a bright world full of casts and surgery and braces.  Baths and diapers and changing clothes.  Bottles and food.  Cutting teeth and recovering from colds.  Going from completely stationary to fully mobile.  Talking, sign language, books and toys.  Thanksgiving, Christmas (who’s the dude in the red suit?) to Halloween (why am I dressed like a dog?) and all the crazy holiday’s in between.  Snuggling on laps and taking naps.  Mom and Dad and grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, even dogs for “sisters”.  Don’t forget the magic ceiling fans.  And he takes it all in – studies every little detail – and always has a smile to give you.  Even with all of that craziness…

And how would you celebrate surviving a full year of all that?  With presents, cake and home made ice cream, of course!

It took just a second for Mike to get the hang of ripping the wrapping paper.  Then it became a game!  Not to get the presents open, but to see how many pieces he could tear the paper in to!



“Check this out!”


“Whoa!  The paper comes off!”

After the presents, we gave him some home made ice cream.  At first he wasn’t too sure of it – he’s not much on sweet foods.  But the cold felt good on his gums (we think he’s cutting about 37 teeth since he’s puts out around 24 gallons of drool per day).

Then came the grand finale.  His very own birthday cake.  A yummy carrot cake with home made cream cheese icing!  Again – he’s not much on sweets.  but he loves squishing things through his tiny little fingers!  Perhaps the best part was after he had made a grand mess – he decided he didn’t really need the plate and dumped the whole thing.  The dogs ended up eating more of the cake than Mike did!


“What in the heck is this?”



“It sure is squishy!”



“Did someone say they needed a plate?”


“Maybe I’ll try eating a bite…”




“Ummm – guys?  Have you seen how dirty and sticky my hands are?”


“Dang!  Cake and ice cream aren’t so bad after all!”


One year.  A whole year.  It’s such a cliché to say that it feels like yesterday.  But it is so true.  The cool part?  It’s just the first step down the path of a long, beautiful journey…



Once upon a time…


…I was such a…


…beautiful little baby.



Now, I’m turning…



…into a…




…beautiful little boy!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The update (part 1)

Obviously, the Thanksgiving holiday has kept us pretty busy and the blog posts have suffered a bit.  But never fear – we are going to get you all caught up and back on track!

And this is “part one” of our installment.  This will take us back to the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  For the whole weekend, Mike had been sleeping a little more than usual and eating a little less than usual.  He was due for another “growth spurt” where he grows “up” instead of “out” and we had decided that the time had come.  We really had no reason to think otherwise…

“The Dad” was just getting ready to leave and head back to Cincinnati.  Mike was just finishing up his supper.  And then it started.  Just a little cough.  That turned into a bigger cough.  Then bigger.  And bigger.  Then some gagging.  And a little more.  And some more.  And then the whole digestive system went into reverse.  He had primarily eaten peas and yogurt.  You can imagine what THAT looked like after it all came back up!

By the next (Monday) morning, it had stopped coming out of that end – but it all started coming out of the other.  Oh joy!  Eight outfits before lunch.  After calls to the doctors office and about a hundred gallons of Pedialyte, it had started to slow a little.  By Tuesday, he still had a touch of diarrhea, but we had definitely crossed over to the recovery side of “the event”.

By Wednesday, Mike was nearly 100%.  And not a moment too soon!  Because Wednesday was Mike’s first birthday!

But for the details on that, you’ll have to wait until part 2…

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The results are in…

We woke up this morning with a little bit of apprehension.  Today was the day of “THE BIG DOCTORS APPOINTMENT”.  It’s been the same with every appointment with Mike’s orthopedic doctor.  The same ol’ questions / feelings / concerns / nervousness – and throw in a dash of hope.  It can all be summed up into a common theme.  “I hope everything is ok”…

We loaded up and headed out.  Walked in to the doctors office and signed in.  We waited a short time before the nurse called us back to “the examination room”.  Oh – the memories.  Memories of being in this room while they put casts on our 16 day old baby.  Memories of being back a week later to cut them back off with a Stryker saw and put on the next set of casts.  After his series of casts – which all went from the top of his hips to the tip of his toes – I can’t believe that he didn’t get even one nick from the saw.

The memories of getting the first brace.  Meeting with the orthotics specialists.  Pressure spots developing on Mike’s feet.  Lots and lots of crying (mostly by Mike, but some by mom and dad too…).  Sitting in this very examination room and discussing the tenotomy surgery on a 9 week old baby.  General anesthesia?  On a 9 week old?  A timely message from a fellow blogger who has a child with clubbed feet (Thank you JoAnne!  You’ll never know how much that little message about the tenotomy set our minds at ease…).

Checking in to Children’s Hospital.  Watching them roll our son – our little 9 week old baby – through the double door with the bright red letters “SURGERY”.  Waiting and waiting and waiting in that little waiting room…

More casts.  More Stryker saw (I can’t believe he still has all 10 toes!).  Then more of the dreaded brace.

No – I can’t say my memories of this room are especially fond ones.  But with each visit, the news kept getting progressively better and better.  Perhaps today, that trend would continue.

In comes Dr. Crawford.  A quick examination of his feet.  It all goes much quicker when all you have to take off is his socks!  The usual bending, twisting, turning.  Then the prognosis…

Dr. Crawford looked up and smiled (did he just smile?  He never smiles…  Is this a good?  Is he smiling because he is getting ready to give us bad news?  Trying to soften the blow?  Is he trying to…)

“Mike’s feet are absolutely excellent!”  (WHEW!) 

He went on to say that Mike had more maneuverability and flexibility in his feet than some non-clubbed foot kids.  Things were CERTAINLY looking up!

We still have to wear the brace at night until he starts walking.  Given that Mike is already pulling himself up with no problems and has begun a little “furniture surfing”, Dr. Crawford’s estimates (both as a dad and an orthopedic surgeon) – he (Mike – not Dr. Crawford) should be toddling around in about a month.  Once that starts – we can stop using the brace altogether!

And that is what we call “GOOD NEWS”!  And while that was certainly the bulk of the good news – we also received another little tidbit of good news.  Dr. Crawford told us that the chance of Mike’s feet regressing are “essentially zero”.  We now only have to see Dr. Crawford for “routine checkups” – when Mike turns 18mo, then yearly until he turns 5 just to make double sure that there is no regression. 

Really?  I’ve only got to sit in the little examination room 5 more times?  Really?  Seriously?  AND there’s a chance that he could be out of the brace by Christmas?  Now THAT’S what I call a successful visit to the orthopedic doctor!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two more days…

Two more days.  Two short little days until it is Thursday.  Thursday, November 18th.

And what is it about Thursday, November 18th?  We have an appointment that day.  And by “we”, I really mean “Mike”.  And it’s not just any appointment.  It’s a doctor’s appointment.  “But”, you say, “Mike has doctor’s appointments all the time.”

True, my friend.  Very true.

But this one is with Doctor Crawford – Mike’s orthopedic doctor.  It’s been month’s since we’ve seen him.  The last appointment was stellar.  Mike’s feet were doing fantastic.

But there is always that little bit of dread that starts creeping in.  After all, bilateral clubbed feet can certainly become a lifelong struggle.  Sure – Mike responded extremely well to the serial casting.  And after a short struggle with his brace, we had the tenotomy procedure done.  After that, Mike responded very well to the brace which holds his feet in position.  So well in fact, that for the last 3 months, he has only had to wear the brace at night when he’s sleeping.

And his feet have had no relapse.  They are still fully corrected.  They still have plenty of pronation.  When he stands on them, he stands flat footed and not on the outside edges.  To the untrained eye – they look perfectly normal.  If we didn’t tell you that he was born with bilateral clubbed feet, you would never even suspect it.

But the key phrase is “to the untrained eye”.  Sure, we might know a little more about bilateral clubbed feet than your ordinary average Joe – but we are still very far from the “expert” range.  The “expert” in our case is Dr. Crawford.  His is the final word.

So, we will cross our fingers, say our prayers, kiss the Blarney stone, rub the Buddha belly, and whatever else we can think of that might bring us “luck”.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Our little helper…

Mike has reached the age where he is beginning to understand “helping”.  Things like he will “help” you with his bottle – or he will “help” you get the spoon up to his mouth.  He will help you put his arms through his shirt sleeves or put his arms through the straps on the car seat.  When it’s time to get out of the car seat, he will help be sitting up and making it easier to grab him.  There are a ton of other examples, but here is his most recent attempt at “helping”.

We were trying to get some of his clothes folded and put away.  He decided it looked like fun and wanted to help.  He reached in the laundry basket and pulled out some clothes and threw them on the floor.  Then reached in again and pulled out some more.  Then some more.  And some more.  And more.  He had a blast – and thought it was hilarious when we would put the clothes back in the basket.  I have to admit – it was a lot of fun!  More fun than laundry has ever been before.  Now – if we could only get him to fold the clothes instead of throwing them on the floor…

Look at me "folding" the laundry

“Look at me ‘folding’ the laundry!”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No no!

I’m sure all parents have stories about when they started trying to teach “right and wrong” to their children.  A couple of examples would be things like – “it’s wrong to eat the dog’s food” or “it’s wrong to try and remove the ‘childproof’ cap from the electrical socket so you can stick your finger in it”.

Of course, you can’t use long winded sentences like that to a 11 month old – so you say the traditional “no no”.  Perhaps you even waggle a finger at them as a signal for “don’t do it –or else”.

I know that we certainly do!  And it seems to be working.  The events that occurred at daycare today seem to be proof!

Mike and Harper were sitting at a table.  The teacher in the room had apparently just finished changing a diaper and was on her way to put the wipes away when a group of parents showed up to pick up their children.  The teacher sat the wipes (securely sealed in a rubber maid container) down on the table where Mike and Harper were sitting.  Shortly afterwards, some of the parents starting laughing.  The teacher turned around and saw that Harper had managed to get the lid off and pull all of the wipes out.  She was wiping her face, the table, the floor.  And there sat Mike – looking over at Harper and saying “No no.  No no.  No no.” all while wagging his finger at her!

That’s my boy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mike the teacher…

Yesterday morning we were dropping Mike off at his “school” when we ran in to Harper’s mom.  Apparently, Mike has been teaching Harper some sign language! 

Remember back a few months ago, we took an infant sign language class.  It turned out to be really good – especially with how to teach sign language to an infant.  We’ve been working with Mike – especially with the signs that are “most useful” (like hungry, eat, more, please, mom, and dad – and a few “non-standard”  ones like “go vols”!).  And he’s getting pretty good at them too!

So good, in fact, that when he is getting fed at “school” (he eats with Harper, of course), he’s been showing Harper things like hungry, eat, and more.  It turns out that Mike must be a pretty good teacher because (believe it or not), she has started using them!  Just imagine to 11 month old babies “goo goo” and “gaa gaa” back and forth while signing “more please hungry”.  How cute is that!It’s too bad the teachers aren’t allowed to take pictures of the kids (it’s horrible that we live in a world where something like that is considered a “security risk”) – I would LOVE to see it in action

So yesterday morning, we gave harper’s mom the quick rundown – “this is eat – this is hungry – this is more – this is please…”.  Oh, and if she raises her hands over her head giving the “touchdown” signal – that’s “go Vols”!!!! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

As hard as it is to believe, it is already November!  In three short weeks, we will be celebrating Mike’s 1st birthday.  And that seems absolutely unreal!

But before Mike’s first birthday comes Mike’s first Halloween!  Since Halloween was on a Sunday this year, we started the day out with our usual Sunday morning trip to church.  Mike was his usual angelic self (and spent a large amount of time flirting with the ladies in the pew behind us).  Afterwards, we went to lunch with our neighbors Todd and Maureen.  Maureen was convinced that we should try something for Mike from the kids menu.  She is well aware of our difficulty in getting Mike to try solid food, but she insisted. 

We decided on the macaroni and cheese.  We ordered our food with a “just you wait and see – he’ll spit it all on the floor!” attitude.  After all, we tried the same thing from the same restaurant just 3 weeks earlier.  We would have tried something else, but “chicken fingers” just didn’t sound like it would cut it!

The food came.  We got out the “travel spoon” for the mac-n-cheese.  We put on the bib and made sure it was strategically positioned so that when Mike spit out the mac-n-cheese, it would be deflected to the floor rather than in his lap.  We dipped the spoon in to the huge (and soon to be wasted) mac-n-cheese – help the spoon up the Mike’s mouth – and…

He ate it!

He actually ate it!  And the next spoonful and the next spoonful.  Before long, he was using his baby sign language (which he has recently starting using fairly regularly) to say “more please more”!  Unbelievable!  And he ate and ate and ate.  We have never seen him put away so much food.  We were absolutely shocked and stunned.

Of course, Maureen thought we were a bunch of leg pulling liars…

Mike eats mac-n-cheese!

“Hey man!  This mac-n-cheese is great!  I could eat this whole bowl!”

Later that afternoon, we got Mike all dressed up in his Halloween costume and took him to his first Halloween party at the church.  He was absolutely adorable!  It was fun just watching his expressions.  He simply stared at everyone in amazement wondering why everyone was dressed so oddly.  Then we would look down at himself and realize that he too was dressed somewhat oddly.


“Look everybody!  I’m a puppy!

Once he realized that it seemed to be “normal” that everyone wasn’t dressed “normally” – we decided to be a little social.  We went around and took his picture with several of the folks…

Mike and the Scarecrow

Mike and the Scarecrow!


Mike and the pirate



Mike and the bumblebee



Mike, “the Dad”, and our neighborhood fireman!


“Don’t I make a cute puppy?”


After the fun, we went back home.  We stopped by a couple of the neighbors houses to show off our new puppy.  Everyone absolutely gushed about how cute he was!  And – let’s be honest.  There’s nothing that a proud parent likes to hear more!  We ended the day with a quick “family portrait”.  We tried to get Foxy in the action – but (as usual) she had her own agenda to attend to and didn’t have time for “those silly human activities – there are squirrels to chase from the yard!”


“Hi Izzy!  I’m a puppy!”



“Mike, “the Mom”, and “the Dad”


“Happy Halloween everybody!  Forget the candy – send mac-n-cheese!!!”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Random kid things…

Kids are the most amazing things!  Everyday there is something new – some new discovery – some new event – some new amazing thing from a world that is nothing but fascinating to them!  It is something wonderful to watch (and be a part of!).  And it really makes us “adults” put on our kid goggles and look at the world from the perspective of a child…

Mike is certainly no exception.  Here are three of his more recent items…

First – he has begun to “study” his toys.  He will stare at them silently for long periods of time trying to figure out how they work.  For example, he has a motorized toy that rolls along and drops balls as it goes.  He loves crawling after it and gathering up the balls that it drops.  Recently, he decided to turn it over and see what made it roll.  He spent several minutes studying the wheels – trying to figure out why the back wheels spun on their own while he had to use his fingers to spin the front wheels.  You could see the gears turning in his little head.  A true engineer at heart!  And that makes dady proud!

He has also started to “repair” his toys.  He will pick up a small toy, like a block or some keys, and crawl over to a larger toy, like his exersaucer or his car.  He will then crawl underneath the larger toy and begin banging on it with the smaller toy.  And to top it all off – he will make occasional grunting noises as if he were doing some seriously hard work!

Mike working on his car

Time to do a little vehicle maintenance…


Mike working on his car

Ahhh – here’s the problem!

Mike working on his car

This little “whack” should do it!


Mike working on his car

There – that’s MUCH better!


Another thing Mike has started to do is playing interactive games.  One of his favorites is one that everyone knows.  Peek-a-boo!  He absolutely loves it.  You do it a couple of times (where’s mommy?) – then he will do it a couple of times (where’s Mike?).  And he is not afraid to let you know that he is a big boy and can cover his own head!

He also has a game that he made up all on his own.  It’s called “share the passy”.  He will yank his passy out of his mouth and hold it out to you.  But he doesn’t want to hand it to you – he wants to plop it into your mouth!  He finds this extremely funny, and after a few giggles, he will grab the passy back and plop it back in his mouth.  Then it starts all over again until he is propelled into a full-out gut-busting belly laugh!

The passy game

“Here Dad – you take the passy!”

The passy game

“Give me that passy back! ”


The passy game

“Here Dad – you take the passy!”


The passy game

“Give me that passy back!  Are you hiding another one in there?”

And the last new development with Mike is the discovery of the joy of being naked!  I’m positive that this enjoyment will only grow – especially once he figures out how to disrobe on his own.  And he doesn’t necessarily have to be completely naked to have some “naked fun”.  Apparently, running around with no shirt is nearly as fun!

Naked Mike

“If I hurry, I can get away before they get this diaper changed…”


Naked Mike

“Quick!  Here’s my chance to get away!!!”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A busy fall break!

What do you do when you and your spouse live in two different cities and one of you happens to have a four day weekend?  You plan a road trip of course!

Mike’s mommy was on fall break this past Monday and Tuesday.  So she packed up the mom-mobile and loaded up Mike and the dogs and headed to Cincinnati for a four day weekend!

It was a great time!  Saturday morning was spent relaxing and enjoying each others company.  Something we don’t get to do as often nowadays – and we certainly cherish every second that we get!  Mike was so cute!  With all of his toys spread all over the living room, the thing he kept crawling back to was his books…

Mike reading his book

I always enjoy a good book…”

Polar Bear Polar Bear

   “Polar Bear, Polar Bear.  What Do You Hear? is one of my favorites!”


Books as pillows...

“I can even read one book while I use the other as a pillow!  Who needs all of these other toys…”


Saturday afternoon we went wine tasting.  Who knew that Ohio was the leading producer of wine in the United States until the 1890’s?  Prohibition all but killed the industry – but it is now beginning to make a comeback!  So we tried several varieties – and ended up buying several bottles!  They even let Mike join in the tasting.  He got to try the “100% Concord Grape Juice”.  And while it might not have ranked #1 on his list of drinks – he did indeed drink it!

Sunday was museum day!  We started with the Museum of Natural History and Science.  We weren’t exactly sure how Mike would do.  But all of our worries were over when we entered the museum and the first thing Mike saw was an extremely large stuffed polar bear!  Mike’s eyes got as big as pies!  He pointed at the polar bear, looked at us and said (in his best baby voice) “oooooohhhhh”!  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a picture (the polar bear was simply too big!) – but we did take several others!

   Buffalo Bone

“Wow!  Look at that!”



Mike and the dinosaur

Are you sure that thing isn’t going to get me?”


Mike and the wolf

Look at the teeth on this wolf!”


After the Museum of Natural History and Science, we moved over to the Cincinnati history museum.  It was very interesting to say the least!  Perhaps the most interesting thing was how in the mid to late 1800’s, the Irish were thought of as “immigrants who are coming to our country – legally and illegally – to take our jobs and escape their debt.  They have no interest in learning our culture and stay together in ‘herds’ rather than trying to integrate into the community.  They have absolutely no allegiance to this country”.  It’s almost funny now – we once hated the Irish with a passion and now they are one of our most endeared heritages.  Substitute “Mexican” for “Irish” and “2010” for “1850” and you have a similar story.  It also was the beginning of the resentment towards Catholics (since the Irish were Catholic after all).  People were convinced that the Pope was trying to end U.S. political independence.  People even tried to pass laws to prevent the Irish from becoming citizens (so they couldn’t hold political posts and the Catholic Church couldn’t take over).  Very interesting stuff…

Irish need not applyIrish need not apply” was very common in the mid 1800’s…

Sunday evening, we went to church.  We decided to go to St. Lawrence since it was close to the museum and and a 7pm mass.  What an interesting coincidence to discover that the St. Lawrence Parish was founded in 1868 (see how that figures in to the dates above!).  The cornerstone of the church was laid in 1886!  The entire building – inside and out – was absolutely beautiful!!!  It’s not the oldest church in Cincinnati (that would be “Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church” – and yes, old is indeed part of the name), but it’s traditional gothic design could keep you wandering around the church for hours…

St. Lawrence Catholic Church circa 1896  An photo of St. Lawrence Catholic Church circa 1896.  It still looks the same today!

Monday was “back to work” day for “the dad”.  It was almost like being a a normal family again!  Leave for work, then come back home to find the family waiting for you!  It sure does warm your heart and soul…

Welcome home from work daddy!Welcome home from work daddy!”


And that was the end of the break.  Tuesday, “the mom” loaded up the car.   Before she could head back to Knoxville, she had to have a tire replaced – there was a screw through the sidewall that couldn’t be patched.  But the day ended up being a good!  “The mom” took a quick detour to see Aunt Diane, Uncle Jessie, and all the cousins!  Mike had a great time playing with Amber, Jessica, and Anthony!  And then it was on to Knoxville and back to the normal routine!