Saturday, February 28, 2009

Star Girl--Saturday Salute to Grandma Farnsworth

This is my Grandma Farnsworth--my father's mother. Isn't she beautiful? I'm proud to say that 25% of my genetic make-up comes from this woman.

Of course, she looked somewhat different from this picture when I met her--curly gray-white hair, horn rimmed glasses, soft wrinkles around the eyes and jawline. But she was always beautiful and fascinating to me. When I was a little girl, I loved to feel her super soft skin and the smattering of very light peach fuzz on her neck. (She didn't like it when I did that!) But it wasn't just her skin that was soft. She was soft, and harmless as a butterfly--but less gaudy. She had the quiet beauty of a star--nothing too garish. Subtle, quiet, easy to miss even, if you aren't looking. Prone to be taken for granted, probably.

Thelma Ruth Sexton (Farnsworth) joined the Church of Jesus Christ when she was a teenager. She said it "felt like coming home." That is where she had the opportunity to meet my grandfather--an affectionate man prone to talking your ear off. (Love you, Grandpa!)

Grandpa was immediately taken with her deep blue eyes. He said he had always liked blue eyes best, and hers were the bluest he'd ever seen. (She was generous enough to share her blue eyes with me. Of my 4 grandparents, she was the only one with blue eyes. She gave them to my father, and he gave them to just 2 of his 7 children--Laura and me.)

She was an efficient little lady. Grandpa always said she could clean the whole house from top to bottom by 10 am, and then set about her other business. She spent years and years of her life researching her geneology and preparing names for temple work. She also did the most difficult puzzles I've ever seen! 1,500 pieces of a black and white photo of zebras. Aaaaah! How did she have the patience? (I honestly don't know. She was not generous enough to pass on this particular trait to me...) She was sweet, modest, and unassuming, but you'd better believe she'd get the job done if it was within the realm of her percieved duty.

Grandma Farnsworth died of cancer when I was just 18 years old. We were actually en route to her house in Arizona to see her one last time when she passed. I felt awful that I didn't get to see her...didn't get to say goodbye. And I had spent the previous summer in Washington state when the rest of my siblings went down to see her. I lamented it for a long time.

When I got married, I was presented with this beautiful quilt:

See how the light goes through it? It is a very light, Arizona appropriate quilt, in a beautiful star pattern. Grandma Farnsworth made it for my wedding before she passed away. Isn't it wonderful?

This quilt is one of my favorite possessions of all time. I get it out for special company, and especially when my dad comes to visit. I figure he'd like to sleep with his mother's handiwork comforting him. And sometimes I wrap it around me just to feel close to Grandma.

I like to think about how her nimble fingers touched this quilt in every possible place. See the tiny handstitching?

Sometimes I flatter myself that she was thinking about me when she was working on it. Blue eyes AND a wonderful quilt besides? Thanks so much Grandma! I love you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Favorite

My mother always told me that you love all your kids equally--they each get all the love you possibly can hold. But if you press her, she will admit to having "favorites." It is always whichever of her children is sick, or struggling, or suffering. Basically whoever is most in need of love.

Joey after eating his Christmas pomegranate 3 years ago.

Well, today my favorite is Joey. This scruffy little guy just had oral surgery today. What? you say...Surely he is too young for oral surgery! Yes, he is young--only 6, and small for his age at a minimal 38 pounds. But he is no stranger to surgery. Actually, today was his 5th surgery. None of them have been serious surgeries--2 eye muscle surgeries for strabismus (crossed-eyes), and 3 oral surgeries.
It is all my fault, of course. I consciously choose a path that would ruin 4 of his baby molars forever. But let me 'splain!

When Joey was first born, I noticed that he tended to choke a little bit every time he nursed. He always had to cough a lot and nursing was a slow going process. Still, he gained weight and seemed to be doing fine. Look how cute he was at 6 months:

He has "Bambi Eyes."

Sometime around 6-8 months we started having real problems feeding Joey. He didn't seem to want to eat--solid or liquid food. He would pull off while nursing a lot, like he was too excited or wiggly to eat. I started to loose my milk. He stopped gaining weight. I had to transfer him to formula around 7 months. It was SO hard to get him to drink even just 3-4 oz. at a time. When I took him to his 9 month appointment, I told the doctor about the problems we were having with him. The pediatrician said not to worry and that he was just a skinny little guy--and too interested in everything else to eat much.

Joey began to have chronic diarrhea and continued to refuse to eat. When I took him back to the pediatrician at around 12 months, his pediatrician was hysterical. She said he was in the "failure to thrive" category. I still remember how traumatic that visit was. We had him tested for allergies, for parasites, for lactose intolerance, for genetic diseases that might cause his ongoing diarrhea. I tried different formulas, I took him to "natural" doctors, I tried hokey alternative treatments, such as fancy oils, homeopathic medicine, chiropractice (the weird kind), difficult diets. Nothing produced results.

By the time he was 18 months, we had enlisted the services of a feeding therapist as well as a physical therapist and an occupational therapist. It was discovered that the "choking" problem was due to poor muscle tone in the esophagus.

Here is the part where I ruin his teeth--I started feeding Joey almost nothing but pediasure every day. He liked it and would drink almost the full 8 oz. But he would only drink it on one condition. He had to be completely alone--with no distractions, laying in his crib.

Every day for at least 6 months, probably closer to a year, he drank 4 pediasures a day in his crib. Often he would fall asleep with the bottle still in his mouth. I knew it was bad for his teeth. I KNEW it. I had read all about it in my child developement classes, but I didn't care. I was too worried about his brain and the rest of his body. He had started to seriously lag behind in physical and even cognitive developement. (He didn't walk until 18-19 months.) Drinking the pediasure was good for him in lots of ways. He started to gain weight again. He got back his adorable chubby cheeks.
Around his 2 year mark we had a breakthrough as to what was causing a lot of his problems. Joey had never really slept well at night. He woke up coughing almost every single night--croupy, often. I had to put him in a steamy bathroom during the night about 4 times a week, so he could start breathing easily again. I attributed this to his tendancy towards asthma. And there was always a large drool spot on his pillow in the morning. Always. The doctor finally put all this together. Coughing at night, spots on pillows, refusal to eat=really bad acid reflux.
Remember the low muscle tone in his esophagus? The acid from his stomach was coming up and burning his esophagus and throat. This made it hurt to swallow food. He had learned that eating was a painful thing. It had also caused inflammation of his airways so that it was very easy for him to catch every illness on the planet, and get croupy at the drop of a hat. I'm not sure, but I think that the inflamation in his throat was somehow related to the inflamatory response in his intestines that was leading to the unending diarrhea. All I know is that everything fell together when we started treating his reflux. The diarrhea stopped, he started responding to the feeding therapy, he gained weight and he looked this adorable by the time he was 2 1/2:

Perfectly healthy, right? Well, almost...
He caught up to all the regular developemental milestones quickly, running, jumping, talking, counting. The one casualty in this whole process (besides my mental health, possibly) was his teeth. Those months and months of drinking in his crib led to really bad decay on his first molars. All four had pulpotomies (root canals) and had to be capped (surgery #1). I felt a little guilty, but I still think it was a fair trade. Teeth or brain? So he had 4 silver little teeth in the back of his mouth. We got used to it. This is Joey at 3 1/2. He has 4 silver teeth, but who can tell?

Then one day about a a year and a half ago, one of the bottom silver teeth just popped out. I freaked, I shreiked, I cried... The dentist told me that he had never seen anything like it in his whole career. Sometimes, he told me, the teeth don't like the fillings from the pulpotomy, and the roots start to dissolve a little in protest. He had seen this VERY occasionally in his practice, but he said he had NEVER seen the entire root dissolve, until Joey. (Of course HE would be the exception!) So surgery #2 was placing a spacer to hold the spot for when his adult tooth finally comes in (around 11, I think).

Then last week Joey bit into a raw baby carrot and said ow! He indicated that his bottom silver tooth on the other side was hurting. I touched it, and it wiggled precariously. Ug. Here we go again. It fell out, but THIS time, the root was not completely dissolved. 2 shards of root remained embedded in his mouth below the gum line.

Sooooo, today I took my little sweetheart to the dentist for his 3rd oral surgery. He had to drink something nasty, and breathe in a funny gas until he was quite loopy. The dentist removed the 2 pieces of root (which was difficult, he told me later--he ended up having to remove some bone tissue to get them out) and placed another spacer. Now my poor little Joey is in my bed, with bloody drool coming out the corners of his mouth. But he was such a little champ. He did not fight the dentist at all.

So it's been a little bit of a bumpy ride for Joey, growing and eating and all. I still stress a little bit about his eating. I always wish he would eat a little more. But all's well that ends well, right? He is a healthy, active little guy. He is at the tip-top of his class at school, and his permanent teeth will eventually grow in and replace his spacers. So all is good in the long run.
But for today, he is my very favorite-ist of all little kids. Ever. I am going to sing to him and spoon feed him apple juice until he is lucid enough to hold his own popsicle. And sometime tonight we might be brave enough to venture a cracker or two.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Well...Ultrasound Results!

Are you curious about our ultrasound results? Did you have a hard time falling asleep last night because you were so excited? Did you wake up before your alarm went off this morning, positively itching for the day to begin? No? Just me then.

As you all know, I have been hoping against all possible hope that our next baby would be a girl. Almost my whole marriage, I have often found myself thinking about the things I learned as a teenager that I want to pass on to my girls. I go on and on in my head explaining the importance of wearing modest clothes and make-up, etc. I get pretty far into these discussions with these imaginary female descendants, until I realize that I don't have any girls, and there is a very good chance I will never have a girl. And though I have been blessed with just about every ardent desire of my heart, I could still work myself up to the point of eeking out a tear or two at the prospect of being girl-less forever. So you know my hopes...

But this morning I woke up with the feeling of certainty. It is a boy. I just know it. And he will be cute and blonde, and I will treasure him forever and ever. But for the second time in my life, my motherly intuition on gender prediction led me completely astray. See?

A GIRL!!!!!!!!

If you can't tell it (SHE!) is a girl from this picture, don't worry, you are not alone. But the ultrasound tech was quite convinced, and she typed those little letters in the left corner "GIRL" that mean so very much to me today, so I believe her!

Wanna see some more pictures? Warning: it looks like her head is about to pop off because her neck is so kinked, but the ultrasound chica assured me over and over that she is, in fact, okay and normal.

Profile of head, chin to chest. Cute, huh?

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes, knees and toes...and look at those little fingers!
Are you shocked! Are you stunned into silence? I was. If I had been less excited to find out it was a girl, I would have shouted "yea!" right there in front of the doctor and everything. But I was SOOOO excited, I couldn't talk--I couldn't say a word. The tech must have thought we were hoping for a boy. For the second time this pregnancy, I just couldn't express my happiness with words and just let the tears roll down. (Read about the first time here.) I feel like I just won the gold medal at the olympics. Every simple, normal, little life is entitled to just a little bit of absolutely exceptional joy, and today was one of those days for me.
Thanks to everyone who prayed for us!
You're prayers are darn effective, I must start praying for peace in the middle East, ok?

Monday, February 2, 2009

"Showing," "Quickening," and a Plea for Help

I've missed a few days, sorry! In an act of penance, I shall now show you pregnant photos of myself.

Here's the best shot. It's pretty accurate to real life. 18 weeks--4 1/2 months.

This (above) is the one in which I suck in really hard and plead with James to hurry up taking the picture so I can breathe. I am trying VERY hard not to get too humongous before my time. This (below) is what I am doing to avoid premature hugeness:

Yoga. This is the "star" pose. It's my favorite.

I had fun with James tonight showing him some of my yoga stuff. He made me laugh because he told me it was all easy, but c'mon, he was totally shaking--but he said that was just because I made him laugh. (Yea right!) But it must be said, my guy is very tough. Doesn't he look like those male gymnasts that for some reason all walk around the corners of the mats on floor looking like tin men who need oil in their elbows and their knees? (Why do they all do that?)

In other news, I can feel our little baby kicking me from the inside. Awww! But sometimes it is just gas, probably. (I figured that out after my first delivery and I thought I felt the baby kick--NOPE!) But I'm SURE that sometimes it IS real, and that tickles me to the core.

By the way, I hope you are all praying that this baby is a girl. We find out on Friday. I am nervous! Everybody--think pink! Eat lots of sugar and spice (that's what I've been doing). You may say that it has already been decided and there's nothing you can do about it, but that's just a looser's way of saying that you won't help a pregnant woman in need!!! Now c'mon, everybody--send me girl vibes!