Friday, March 27, 2009

Story Time

A few photos of Charlie enjoying his bedtime story on his 9 month birthday! He's getting very serious about exploring the pages. This book is especially interesting with the fun things to feel in it.

9 Month Update!!!

Well, we thought this might be the case, but I confirmed it this morning when dropping Charlie off at daycare...HE CRAWLED YESTERDAY AT DAYCARE!!! She put a note on his "report card" for the day, but we weren't sure if he actually moved in a forward direction and HE DID!!! Go Charlie Boy!!! We have yet to see him in crawling action, but I'm sure he will show us his new moves soon!!

Good memory for his 9 month birthday!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

9 Months Baby!

Our little man is 9 months old today. Charlie will probably never, ever know how much he means to his Mommy and Daddy. He is the best little baby. We frequently are amazed at how deep our love is for this little guy.

It seems that Charlie is constantly changing and learning new things. Some memorable moments he has had in the last month include:

** Learning to move from laying on his belly to sitting up, all on his own.

** ALMOST crawling. Any day now, we keep saying. He's up on all fours now and then the little guy just collapses.

** He continues to roll around EVERYWHERE!

** If you sit and watch him playing on the floor, you can see him zero in on something across the room, then position himself in the right direction and start rolling to the intended target. He's really good at using his arms to move himself around to the position or angle he wants to be at.

** He continues to sleep a minimum of 10 hours a night.

** He is eating 3 meals a day now and taking much less formula. It's usually in the range of 20 - 28 oz. a day.

** He is really good at standing if we put in that position, but doesn't seem to have an interest in pulling to stand on his own yet.

** He frequently gets told "NO, NO!" Normally, he is taking something from the coffee table he shouldn't have, pulling on the drapes or pulling on my hair or ears. Sometimes he laughs and sometimes he cries. We think there is some level of understanding there, but it doesn't stop him from trying!

** He has already enjoyed a few stroller rides through the neighborhood this year on some delightful, warm days. Stroller rides don't seem to make him tired anymore as he is very interested in his surroundings now.

** He does alot of talking when he is comfortable around the people he is with. While he babbles alot, bababa, gagaga, dadadada are some favorites. Most of the time it means nothing, but from time to time, he associates bababa with bottle and dadadda with Kenny.

** He is GREAT at rolling trucks back and forth with you and recently has added rolling balls back and forth. A few nights ago, instead of rolling a ball to Daddy, he handed it to him and laughed and then Daddy gave it back to him and he continued to hand it back to him several times.

**He wears a range of sizes now, some 6-12 month stuff still, but mostly 9-12 months or 12-18 months. He continues to grow out of clothes length wise quickly.

** He only got one shot for this doctor's visit and a finger prick for an iron test. Both only resulted in some very minor crying in comparison to previous visits. His iron level is on the high end of normal -- good news!

** He continues to show signs of teething, but no teeth are visable yet.

** He has enjoyed several tastes or meals that include "non" baby food. Pasta with Nona's homemade sauce, cheese, pancake, mashed potatoes and a few others. We are working on a slow move towards "non" baby food.

** He has just recently figured out how to pick up a puff (or other food) from his tray and get into his mouth successfully.

** Best of all, we KNOW he loves his Mommy and Daddy as much as they love him!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Charlie Talking

More and more, Charlie is talking to us. It's so fun to hear him babble or try to mimick us. He's been saying DADADADADA for some time now, but this week, it seems like he is associating it more and more with Kenny. It's the cutest. He's actually watched Kenny walk in a room and then said "adddaaddadadada." It couldn't make Kenny happier!

Go here to check out a video of him talking...

Playing Around with the Camera

Gwen's Birthday

Well, I'm not sure how I managed to not get a picture of Gwen on her birthday, but I did. We had a great time at her party.

Here's the birthday girl one month ago!

Adina is holding Gwen up at the butterfly...but you can't see her well.

Charlie had such a good time, he passed out!

Is that Comfortable?

So, yesterday, I caught him in action, playing in the crib when he should have been napping. I watched him go from laying on his belly to the sitting position. What a strong kid! I was so impressed. I let him stay in his crib playing, since he wasn't crying, hoping he would go to sleep. I went back a little later to check on him when it got quiet and found this:

curled over from the sitting position, head down on the mattress, sleeping. How is that comfortable?

Playing in the Crib

Charlie has learned how FUN it can be to play in his crib...when he should be napping. St. Patrick's Day, my mom called me at work and said "Has Charlie ever sat up in bed before?" I said no, not unless we put him down in the crib, sitting up. Well, she had put him down for a nap, and he cried a little, which is normal for him, and he then got quiet. She went to peak at him and he was happily sitting up in his crib and starting to play with the mirror/musical toy on the crib. He enjoyed playing and rolling around in his crib for a long time, resulting in not much napping that day!

So, that night, we sat him up in his crib to see what he would do. He went straight for the musical toy and was successful at making it work. He loved it. He was in a good mood, so I caught a few pictures of him.

Slightly confused at first.

PEEK! Cute baby!

Are you trying to trick me into something, Mommy?

Ok, I'll do the belly button dance for you!

And screech too!

Ok...I'm done now.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Kenny and I are each 1/4 Irish, which also means that Charlie is lucky enough to be 1/4 Irish too! We got him a few St. Patty's Day items. As we left for work that day, we told him it would be a fine day to learn how to crawl (he's SOOOO close!!). Well, he didn't. He did learn a different trick I'll post about later.

The shirt says Dad's Lil' Leprechaun. He lost his pants that afternoon because it was SO WARM! In the 70's for St. Patrick's Day -- I'd say that's pretty lucky!

A few days before St. Patrick's Day, sporting his new hat that says Mom's Lucky Charm.

There's a good smile from our little leprechaun.

Playdate with Reese and Gwen

Charlie had a great playdate with two of his friends. Reese is about 4 1/2 months older than Charlie. Gwen is 3 months older than Charlie. It's great to see them "playing" together. I love seeing Charlie interact with other kids.

Reese, our host.

Charlie enjoying a different toy to chew on.

Gwennie and Charlie playing in the playroom.

Bedtime Stories

I've posted several times about reading to Charlie. We've been reading a story to Charlie at bedtime since he was about 1 month old, in part to help establish a bedtime routine for him. It has worked really well. Some nights, it's a really short story and sometimes he sits happily for a whole Dr. Seuss book, read by Daddy with the best voices! Sometimes, I'm not sure if Charlie or Daddy is enjoying themself more.

Charlie ready for bed and "picking out" a book.

Yes..I think this is the one I want tonight.

Hmm..could I read it to myself?

Charlie Brown again!

A few shots of the cutest Charlie Brown I know!

Family Party

A few weeks ago, my family got together to celebrate Ben and Will's birthdays. It was so fun to see Charlie interacting with his cousins and family.

Jack and Charlie checking out Baby Penelope. This was Penelope's first family party!

Goodness, she is cute!

Jack, Ben, Charlie and Brynna. Jack is a great big cousin -- he greeted us with toys that were good for Charlie to play with. I think Amy helped him a bit, but it was so nice to see him sharing with Charlie.

Penelope got lots of cuddles from family.

Jack and Charlie. Jack also was trying to teach Charlie to clap.

Penelope is awake!! Oh, and that's her mom, Mary. :)

Pops and Charlie got a little play time too.

Penelope lovin' Daddy.

Will holding Charlie and Jack trying to entertain him.


Charlie eating his first puff.

About a month ago, Kenny and I started letting Charlie try new things besides baby food. Many friends told me all kids love puffs...try that. And we did. And that picture is the face we got for 3 weeks, each day or two when we forced one in his mouth.

Four weeks later...he likes them.

Kenny's Birthday...a Month Late!

As I was going back through photos, I realized I've missed some posts recently. I did a birthday post for Kenny, but never any photos of him opening the mentioned gifts. Kenny ended up having to plow snow on his birthday (bummer!!), but did make it home by late morning and was able to enjoy a late breakfast with Charlie and I.

Kenny opening one of the car books he got.

Charlie amusing himself during gift opening.

Since I didn't actually get Kenny a GTO, I thought he should get a book about one!

Kenny and I also got a sitter that night and enjoyed a wonderful evening out with yummy food, drinks and cake!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Charlie enjoying some Lasagna.
Charlie is working on trying 3rd's foods now, in an effort to move into "adult" food eventually. 3rd's are more chunky, something that Charlie has not experienced. Frankly, he's shocked me with this adventure. My baby loves food...I mean LOVES it! First, we gave him a puff...he HATED it. He gaged and choked and made horrible sounds like we were trying to physically harm him. I had been told kids love these things! Now, when we come at him with puff in our hand, he clamps his mouth shut and won't open up. So, we stopped forcing it and moved on. Eventually, I'm sure he will like them.
But for now, we moved to 3rd's foods. The first two or three jars he gagged, made faces, again, like we we harming the child. Finally, he warmed up to the food when Kenny broke out a jar of lasagna. Now, if you know Kenny, lasagna is one of his FAVORITE foods. And I don't make it. I make all other kinds of pasta dishes, but not lasagna. So, when Kenny was serving the lasagna to Charlie, who was eating it very well, he was explaining that this was one of the "staples" in life as far as food goes. And that he's very lucky that he's Italian and his mommy is Italian so he will likely be exposed to it alot. And he was SO proud that this was a food he decided to enjoy and not make gagging noises with!

Some Sort of Gene He Carries...

Charlie LOVES things that move. Cars, trains, you name it, he plays with it. Kenny has shown him how to roll cars back and forth across the floor and he will happily push cars back and forth with Kenny. I think it's some sort of gene he carries that makes him love this. Kenny is a proud papa about this love he has for cars.

The larger car in the picture, Charlie loves. It's been in his room, but he likes to play with it now, so we have it out with his toys now. He beeps the horn, plays the "radio" and even has a toy key he aims at the dashboard area. It's really cute! He pushes this car around and he flips it over frequently. Kenny talks to him about working on the transmission or fixing a tire. It's adorable!

I've Got a New Hat...I'm Ready for Spring!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

Today, marks SIX months since the longest day of my life.

Six months since my Kenny had his pituitary tumor removed.

For the last six months, I have relived parts of that day in my mind. It just takes one word to make me think of some moment that day.

These last few weeks, it’s been hard for me not to think about those moments from the evening of August 24, 2008 – August 30, 2008. I don’t think I will ever forget them, but so our family has written history, I want to record some more of that time.

And more importantly, I want to celebrate with Kenny for all he has successfully recovered from. He is something to celebrate and be proud of.

Let me go back a few days before his tumor was removed, when he was at a local hospital.

I had been looking for a sign. Something or someone to tell me I was making good decisions, even though I wasn’t sure what I was doing. This was scary serious stuff. I’m a planner and need to have some time to plan and think to make the best decision possible. What I longed for was time to do research, to understand what we were dealing with, how bad it was or how good it was, time with the doctors at Northwestern to ask my massive lists of questions to. I needed to plan for this and there wasn’t time to plan.

I felt out of control. And I’m a girl that needs to be in control.

Family and friends tried to help me and they were helpful, but I still never felt like I had the answer I was looking for. There were a few moments that Kenny would wake up and very clearly state his wishes or his thoughts on his care. I took those moments as my signs. I was searching to do the best thing for him, but also what HE WANTED. I was convinced if I did what Kenny wanted, it would be the right thing. Those were the times that it felt good, like the medical decisions we were making were right.

One sign came several times in a few days. We were trying to figure out what hospital and doctor in Chicago to take him to for the tumor removal. The local doctor was talking about releasing him, but I just wanted to keep this moving and get him well. I was scared to go home with him and then have to go back to the hospital again. We had worked with Northwestern in the past but the local neurosurgeon was urging us to go to “his” hospital in Chicago. I didn’t feel good about that. His take on what type of surgery they would do was different than what we had always been told. Nothing seemed right about it.

It was early afternoon the day after Kenny’s shunt placement and he woke up as I was having a conversation with his nurse and he said “Call Dr. C.” He must have heard the conversation because it was about what doctor and hospital to go to next. Honestly, I didn’t even remember the Northwestern doctor’s name there was so much going on. Dr. C was the doctor we had used at Northwestern for a second opinion 1 ½ years prior when we learned of this tumor. But as soon as Kenny said his name, I knew that was right. I confirmed with him that he wanted that and he said “Yes, I liked him then. I had a good feeling from him. Call him.”

And then I realized --- I had planned for this, we did tons of research when we went to Northwestern for a second opinion so many months ago. Kenny just had to remind me.

So the nurse was sweet enough to help us by finding his number for us, so that I wouldn’t have to go home to go through our records. And started our process of getting transferred to Northwestern. In the following day or two, as we told people the plan to go to Northwestern, Dr. C’s name was confirmed by several family members doing research for us, to be an excellent surgeon --- and he is. He’s the best. Thinking about that man will always, always bring a tear to my eye.

Fast forward to the night before surgery.

He arrived at Northwestern around 7pm the evening before his surgery. I had talked to Dr. C’s assistant on the way down and then received a surprise phone call from Dr. C himself. He was waiting around to see Kenny and his MRI before he went home and we talked about some of what would happen the next day, the type of surgery and he made me feel good. Like we were in the right place. I knew the NeuroICU room Kenny was being taken to and I got there soon after him. The nurse, Kenny and I started getting settled and answering the millions of questions you must answer when you check in the hospital. And in walked Dr. C. I was amazed and touched. It was at least 8pm and he was still there. On the phone, he said he needed to leave and he’d see us in the morning. But when he walked in, he said he just really needed to see us and talk. We spoke briefly, he got some of the medical information that was sent from the other hospital and he gave some orders to the residents. He’s not a man of many words, simply there, efficiently doing his job. Kenny said something to him like “Good to see you again. Get some rest, you have a big day tomorrow.” He laughed and told him to do the same.

Kenny’s parents and sister came to visit with him that night and Kenny was quite awake through the visit and enjoyed a meal before his midnight cut off on food intake. They left, and I settled in for the night with Kenny. He had a million and one tests done that night to prep him for surgery and the nurse was kind enough to give me a blanket and pillow to nap with in the waiting area. I dosed for a few hours that night in the waiting area while Kenny had a MRI done that would be used in surgery the next day. He was scheduled for something like an 8am surgery time and I knew we would be rolling early the next morning. I woke about 4am and headed back into his room. He was sound asleep and I just watched him sleep for awhile, praying that these good feelings that I kept getting would continue through the day. When he woke, I put on my cheerleader uniform and began my pep talk, making sure he knew how loved he was, how strong he was and how much our sweet Charlie needed him. Positive thoughts were the only thoughts I was letting enter his brain that morning, so that was all he would be thinking of as he slept during surgery.

As we learned, surgeries are never on time - even when you are the first one of the day. Eventually, we went to pre-op and we sat together and looked at pictures of Charlie and talked about how good everything was going to be. The surgery was supposed to be about 4 hours, maybe 5. He was rolled in as I walked out to the 5th floor waiting area about 9am.

That started the longest day.

There are wonderful volunteers that work at the desk in the waiting area that take calls from the surgical nurses about the progress of the surgeries that day. They are like a lifeline to those waiting for their loved ones in surgery. I checked in with them and they advised me that it would be a little while before they called to say they started. I took that as my cue to head down for a big, tasty, well deserved Starbucks and some food. Amazingly, my stomach was actually asking for some food. I found Joan and our adorable nieces while getting food and loved the company and the distraction of the girls. Anna, gave me a great “get well” picture for Uncle Ken. Kate and I played – well, Kate tried to get into things and I tried to make sure she didn’t. J Kenny’s parents arrived and Joan and the girls left for lunch and nap time. News of the surgery would come out every two hours or so and all reports were that things were going well and that he was very stable in surgery.

The day dragged on with moments of me trying to read (pointless), fielding phone calls from our loving family and friends, phone calls to my mom so I knew about sweet Charlie’s day and pacing the halls at times.

By 5pm, I was going insane.

I had seen families come and go and surgeons come to talk to them all day, but where was our “Surgery is over” phone call??

The waiting room was clearing out.

Ted and Dom came to sit and wait. I thought seeing new people would calm me but it didn’t.

I realized the only thing that would calm me was Kenny.

Through all of this, all I wanted was my Kenny.

I started to make trips to the bathroom, trying not to throw up. You see, when I’m anxious or nervous, I tend to at least gag. I have a good gag reflex. I was proud that I made it that far into the day before feeling like that. As I stood in the bathroom, calming myself down, taking nice cleansing yoga breaths, I prayed that we would hear something from the OR. I just needed to know something was going well. Why was this taking SO long?? Again, this was out of my control.

As I stood there, taking my deep breaths, the phrase “Good things come to those who wait” came to me.

Well, I had sure been waiting, so good things must be coming, right??!! I added patiently to the end of that phrase and just kept repeating it to myself as I got anxious. It calmed me. I just needed to be patient.

Finally, I walked up to the sweet volunteers taking the phone calls and asked them what to do and told them I needed to know something before I went crazy. They called in for me and left a message for a nurse to call out. Minutes later, they were packing up to leave for the day and they turned the phone over to us and the three other families left waiting. They reminded us to answer it. Soon, it rang, I was called over to speak to a nurse who said “Dr. C got the tumor and he is closing up. He will be out to see you shortly.” It was well after 8pm. I screamed the news to our family and friends, which now included Joan, and cried. Thank God!

See -- Good things DO come to those who wait - patiently.

Dr. C came out to talk to us. He explained the details, why it took 12 hours, since the time I left Kenny going into surgery and I cried, tried to ask a few questions even though I wasn’t thinking clearly and hugged that man. He welcomed me into his arms.

We waited the required time and headed up to see Kenny briefly in his room. I needed to meet his night nurse, make sure she had about five phone numbers to reach me on if she needed me and thank her for caring for him. It took longer than we thought to see him and eventually, it was just Dom and I waiting to see him. I’m so glad he was there with me. Seeing the person you love, awake, but with a tube in this throat, and very scared eyes watching everything in the room, is grueling to say the least. But I needed to see Kenny that night, just for peace of mind, even if he didn’t remember it.

His eyes got huge when I walked in and he was immediately try to talk to me. I felt so bad, like I was hurting him.

I quickly told him “It’s OK. Don’t try to talk. You Are OK!”

I explained that they had to leave the breathing tube in overnight because of the length of the surgery and soon they would sedate him so he could sleep better and they would take the tube out in the morning.

As I held his hand, I explained simply that Dr. C got IT and he would be just fine.

Dom said “Keep talking to him. You are calming him down. Look at his eyes.”

Sure enough, the frantic look in his eyes was gone. Kenny was rubbing my hand and was calm. He closed his eyes. I knew he understood what I said and knew he needed to sleep. I knew he was out of it and hoped that it calmed him enough to rest and that I could repeat the wonderful news a million times the next day.

All I could think about was how scary it must have been for him to wake up with a tube in his mouth and wondering how he was and if the surgery was successful. I asked the nurse if she told him everything was fine and she said no. That was one of the only times I got frustrated with his care because even if he was coming off all the medications from surgery, somewhere in there I knew he understood and needed to know he was ok.

Dom and I left the room and then I cried. I didn’t want to confuse Kenny by seeing my tears because these tears were happy tears, the good kind.

Good things DO come to those who wait – patiently.