Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The first camping trip…

The weekend after Easter was absolutely BEAUTIFUL in Knoxville.  And what is there to do on a beautiful spring weekend when you don’t have any other plans?  Why you should load up the family and go camping!!!!

First, let’s start with a definition.  Camping means different things to different people.  For some, it’s loading up a backpack and walking down the trail until you start running out of daylight.  Then pitch a small tent for the night before hiking on down the trail.  This probably isn’t the best method if you are planning on taking a 5 month old with you.

As a matter of fact, if you are planning on taking a 5 month old, you probably should forget the whole tent idea anyway.  Of course, anybody who knows us already knows that we gave up tent camping after the “bear incident”.  We’ve even moved beyond the pop-up camper.  Yes indeed – our version of camping is to load up the 28 foot rolling hotel.  And our version of “roughing it” is cooking steaks on the grill while baking some potatoes in the microwave and some biscuits in the oven followed by a little dip of ice cream from the freezer.  Yep – it’s rough…

So we loaded up the camper and head up to Norris Dam State Park – one of our favorite spots.  We arrived, got the camper set up, fed Mike, and fed ourselves.  By then, it was time for Mike to go to bed.  He slept like a little angel is his pack-n-play.

Gonk Zoom

Mike’s first night camping!

The next day, Mike woke up in his usual good mood…

Good Morning!

 Hey everybody!  I’m camping!

The weather was absolutely fantastic.  We fixed some scrambled eggs, biscuits, and sausage (yep – that’s roughing it!) and decided to work a little bit of that breakfast off by taking a stroll around the campground.  And we decided that Mike, who has now demonstrated his ability to control his head and neck, could ride in the stroller seat (rather than in his car seat attached to the stroller).  He later told us that he likes the new way MUCH better than the old way – he loves looking out at everything going by!


Dude!  I can see out!  This stroller thing might not be so bad after all…

Mommy and the babies

Mom with all her babies – Izzy, Foxy, and Mike!

 Camping is FUN!

Camping is FUN!


After that, we came back to the campsite and relaxed a little.  Mike took a little nap, got to spend some time on Dad’s lap and got to spend some time on Mom’s lap too!  All while looking out at the blooming red-buds and budding trees.

Mike and Dad

Howdy everybody!

Mike and Mom

Me and my mommy!


 Dude!  Look at that tree! Dude!  Look at that pink tree over there!


The view...   The view from our campsite on top of the ridge…

Now – just because we don’t hike in to our campsite, doesn’t mean that we don’t like to take little hikes!  No indeed!  And as it turns out, there is a short little trail that loops around the top of Andrews Ridge that we thought would be perfect to take Mike on.  We’ve been on it enough that I believe the dogs know it by heart.  So dad loaded up Mike in his carrier (would you call it a “front pack”?), gathered up mom and the dogs and headed to the trailhead.


Dad and Mike ready to hike

Dad and Mike – ready for the hike!

Andrew Ridge Trailhead

The Andrews Ridge trailhead – one of our favorites!

 We know the way!

The dogs already know the way…

This is a short little trail, only about 2 miles.  And it’s nice and wide, smooth, not rough terrain and reasonably flat (especially for East Tennessee).  We started of down the trail and Mike would swing his head from one side to the other watching all of the scenery.  He even looked up to see a couple of hawks gliding above.  Then, about half way down the trail, we noticed that he wasn’t looking around any more.  He had fallen asleep!

Asleep on the trail...

  Mike says, “Boy, this hiking is HARD work”!

After we got back to camp (and Mike finished his nap), we had some supper and hung out.  Mike was just beginning to wonder what was next when his dad began piling up some wood.  He told Mike, “it just isn’t camping if you don’t have a campfire”.  And Mike loved it!  He set out with mom, dad, and the dogs until he fell asleep.

Mike in the chair Mike hanging out in the camping chair!  Soon we will have to get him one that is more his size!!!

Sitting by the fire

Mike and dad sitting by the campfire.

Long day

This fire is great – but I’m ready for bed!

Our last day was a little less eventful.  We spent the morning enjoying the beautiful weather before packing up our stuff head heading back home.  It was a fantastic weekend and Mike has told us that he can’t wait to do it again!

Mike and mom Mike and mom get ready to start the day.

Little Al Bundy?

Man!  I can get used to this!!!”

Bye bye!

Bye everybody!  I hope you can come visit and go camping with me soon!”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Easter in Knoxville

Easter has become our favorite “holiday”.  There are so very many reasons for this – and now we can add some more reasons!

It’s hard having a new baby when all of your (and his!) family live so far away.  You want him to have a close relationship with all of his family – so it’s always extra special when we get to visit…

Friday night, Mike’s “Nan and Pap” arrived.  They were amazed at how much he had grown in just a few short weeks!  Of course, right away they set in to spoiling Mike – and he ate it all up!

Mike and Nan

Mike and his Nanna

Saturday, we all loaded up and went to the Easter Vigil.  For Catholic’s, the Easter Vigil is considered the “most important” mass of the year.  It is also one of the most beautiful masses and is thick with traditions that date back almost two thousand years.  It really is amazing – and perhaps one day I will try (as best I can) to describe it all…

During the Vigil – Mike got to spend time with our neighbor Maureen – who also happens to help out at the church nursery.  Mike and Maureen hand a wonderful time hanging out (as they usually do!).  By the time we got back home, Mike had a little surprise waiting for him.  Aunt Jennifer, Derrick, and cousins Lucas and Kiersten had decided to come and visit!  It was the first time they had seen Mike.  It’s ALWAYS fun meeting new relatives!  Not long ago, we found out that Kiersten wants to teach Mike how to jump rope and Lucas wants to teach Mike how to spell.  They didn’t have time this weekend – but I’m sure they will get their opportunity!

Mike and Lucas

“Hi Lucas!  I’m Mike!”

Sunday morning we all hung out and had fun.  Lucas and Kiersten finally got to play the Wii (always a hit with the kids – and the adults too!)  That afternoon, we had a nice little Easter ham.  Aunt Jennifer didn’t make us a pecan pie – but we will forgive her (this time…).

It's Wii time!Kiersten and Lucas battle on the Wii  





That afternoon, everyone had to return home.  We sure were glad that they were able to come and visit us!  We had such a wonderful time and can’t wait to do it again soon!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More catching up…

First off – we’ve had some inquiries about Mike’s health.  And we are very happy to say that he is doing MUCH better!  He is still taking some medicine (and I have to say – it tastes pretty darn good!) as a precaution, but other than that – he’s 100%! 

Now back to the catching up.  The weekend before Easter, we had some great friends (Matt, Karen, and their two kids Sara and Nathan) who decided to come and visit!  As it turns out, they were looking for something to do while the kiddo’s were on spring break and they decided to make Knoxville their destination of choice.

Sara and Mike just loved each other.  She would get up in front of him and (in her best Pauly Shore voice) would say “Hey buddy!” and he would just grin and laugh.  For Nathan, it was always “baby” Mike.  Never just Mike (or Michael or Mikey) – always “baby Mike”.  And anytime he walked past, it was always a quick wave with a “Hey baby Mike”.  It was adorable!


Nathan and Sara with “baby Mike”

While they were here, we took Sara and Nathan to Smokey Mountain National Park.  We drove up to Newfound Gap where it was so foggy that you couldn’t see more than about 30 feet in front of you.  So much for the good view!  And the wind was blowing about 20 miles an hour causing the fog to form icicles on the trees.  We stayed long enough to take a bathroom break and head back down into the valley where it was considerably warmer.  We walked a short trail to Laurel Falls – and with the rain we’ve had, the falls were very pretty.



Matt, Karen, Sara, and Nathan at Laurel Falls

Of course, we also had to go the the aquarium – what 7 and 4 year old wouldn’t love that!  They were fun to watch – zooming from exhibit to exhibit.  To say that they had fun would certainly be an understatement…


Look at that one!”


The next day was an adventure too!  And this time Mike got to go along.  It was Mike’s first trip to the zoo!  He had a really good time all the way up to the point where he passed out from shear exhaustion.  He is in such an inquisitive stage – he really enjoyed staring out at the animals and trying to figure them out.  He had so much fun that we decided to buy a family membership so we can go back whenever we want!


 Mike and dad with the “Waterbucks” in the background…

It’s always so much fun when friends decide to visit.  It’s the next best thing to living next door!

And a preview of the next post – Mike got to meet some relatives for the first time over Easter!  And the weekend after Easter, Mike had yet another “first” – it seems like April has been full of “firsts” for Mike!  We’ll tell you all about it!!!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sick and Tired

We are still behind on the posts – but this particular entry is all about the here and now.  Don’t worry – we’ll catch you up on all of the folks that have visited us the last couple of weeks (and all the fun we had!) – and Mike’s first trip to the _______.

But today was not about fun and games.  We had noticed that Mike was crankier than normal last night.  We weren’t concerned at all.  Mike had a very busy weekend and his schedule was all out of whack.  This morning he was still very sleepy, but we took him to daycare and thought that everything would be back to normal once he rested up.

But at 3:00 this afternoon we got a call from daycare telling us that Mike had a fever.  We picked him up and sure enough, his face was flushed, he was warm to the touch, and he was REALLY cranky!  Our unofficial parental diagnosis was that Mike was “sick and tired” – literally.  We drove to the pediatrician and if they would have poked and prodded and pricked me as much as they did Mike, I would be cranky too!

They started with the usual battery of “why are you here” questions.  Then we moved out to the scale (he’s up to 12 pounds and 3 ounces!) and the ear thermometer read 101.3 degrees.  We went back to the room to wait for the doctor when the nurse (her name was “Starla”) came back in – the doctor wanted to confirm his temperature with the rectal thermometer.  Starla lubed up the thermometer and took the reading.  Mike patiently waited with a “shouldn’t we have dinner first?” look on his flushed face.  Low and behold, the temperature came back at 101.3 degrees.

The doctor came in and did the whole physical exam - listen to the lungs, look up the nose, look in the ears, look down the throat (wow those tongue depressors look big in his mouth!).  We were scheduled for the 4 month exam this Friday, and the doctor decided “We should go ahead and do the ‘CBC’ today”.  What is a “CBC” you ask?  It’s a Complete Blood Count – but it certainly sounds cooler to say that you had a “CBC” done.

The pricked his finger and BOY he did NOT like that!  Then the nurse had to squeeze his finger until the little vial was filled up.  Then it was off to the lab to conduct the CBC.

About 5 minutes later, the doctor came back in.  Mike’s CBC showed an elevated WBC – I think I’m diggin’ this doctor talk.  The “WBC” – or White Blood cell Count” – should be between roughly 5,000 and 11,000.  Mikes was 22,000.  A temperature and an elevated white blood cell count – the conclusion was that Mike was sick.

The doctor decided to do a chest X-ray.  He’s had a stuffy nose for a little while now, and even though she didn’t hear any congestion in his chest, she wanted to confirm that his lungs were clear and rule out pneumonia.  And while we are at it – let’s stick these swabs up his nose so we can test for the flu and RSV.

The chest X-ray came back clear, and both the swabs came back negative.  The doctor decided on an antibiotic shot in the leg and told us to start him on some Tylenol.

So, the short version is, Mike had a fever and the doctor stuck a thermometer in his ear, a thermometer up his butt, stuck a cold stethoscope all over his chest and back, pricked his finger and drew blood, wooden sticks down his throat, swabs up his nose, doused him in X-ray’s, and gave him a shot in the leg.  And the end result?  Take some Tylenol and we’ll see you tomorrow.  How cliché! 

So – we have an appointment for tomorrow afternoon…

Friday, April 2, 2010

The hiatus is over!

Our apologies to everyone for our extended absence!  Needless to say, we have a lot of ground to cover – so let’s skip the formalities and get right down to business!  We need to update everyone on Mike’s feet!  So let’s start there…

As we mentioned (a month or so ago), Mike’s orthopedic doctor gave us the “ok” to start taking the brace off during the brace and wearing it during “naps and night”.  Needless to say, mom and dad were very worried about this – even with the doctor’s blessing.  Before the tenotomy, Mike’s foot would begin to regress a noticeable amount in 12 hours.  The doctor assured us (several times) that with the tenotomy and 2 months of wearing the brace 24 – 7 that his feet would be fine.

And so we tried it.  For just a few minutes at first.  And I think we spent the entire time obsessively staring at his feet as if they might suddenly spring back.  But low and behold – they stayed in their perfect little position!  And we tried it a little more and a little longer.  And sure enough – no regression!  I guess after all those years of medical school combined with all those years of working in pediatric orthopedics – Doctor Crawford truly did know what he was talking about! 

Mike has absolutely LOVED the time out of his brace.  He kicks and plays and plays and kicks.  And the interesting thing we’ve noticed – now that he gets to have time OUT of the brace, he doesn’t mind so much being IN the brace!  Those crazy kids – you never know what they will think of next…

We have also marveled about how much little babies actually understand.  At four months, Mike knows who mommy is and who daddy is.  He know that “going to school” and “going to see Miss Stacey” means that it’s off to daycare.  All of the wondrous beginnings of communication.  We began to wonder about Mike communicating with us – of course he smiles when he is happy, cries when he is hungry, has a different cry when he is sleepy, and yet another cry for when he is generally mad.

But it is still many months before Mike will be able to say “I’m hungry” instead of simply crying.  Or is it?  Mike’s daycare sent out an email to all of the “baby parents” about a class they would be hosting called “Wee Hands”.  It’s a class about teaching babies sign language.  We signed up – and so far it’s been a wonderful experience!  Mike doesn’t have the motor skills yet to sign on his own – but he watches us intently when we sign to him.  Our teacher has an 8 month old who has began signing – and our hope is that in the next 4 months, Mike will do the same!  And there is a girl in our class who just turned one – and she now knows more ASL words than she does spoken words.  It really is amazing to watch her “talk” to her mom and big sister!

As of right now, mom and dad have nearly a 100 word vocabulary.  Of course, we aren’t expecting 100 words from Mike anytime soon.  But our focus is going to be on 10 words that mom and dad want and 10 words that Mike wants.  We haven’t settled on all of the words yet, but here’s what we have so far.  Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, hungry, eat, more, milk, dog, please, thank you, change diaper, toy, and play.  That should get us started!

So that’s the “beginning” of our update.  There are still several things to share.  Don’t worry, I’m keeping a list so I won’t forget to share!