Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Home improvement and...

Will had a good clinic visit yesterday; lung function, blood work all look basically okay and similar to the last time. Stability is good, so he is happy, I think with that. Will's lung function is holding at about 60% of what is predicted for someone of his age and height. It's been about there since the cancer/rejection/pneumonia/cancer/pneumonia events of 2004-2007 started to wind down. I'm sure he'd like more improvement, but, again, I think he's pretty happy with stability. He still doesn't feel great though. . .so we're hoping it is something benign like lingering symptoms from Liam's cold, and not something nasty brewing.

I got the notion to finally ask Grandpa DM to help take the old chimney down in our house; it was very old (110 or so years), no longer went all the way to the roof, and was slanted in the attic in a way that was alarming to me. No grass grows on Grandpa DM; quick as a wink he got it all organized with day-workers, figured out how to get the bricks out of the house, etc., etc.. So, as of today we are minus about 2/3 of a chimney. The large mass of it is out in the back yard waiting to joined by the remainder (tomorrow) and hauled away (sometime soon). A significant fraction remains here in the house with us in the form of nasty, nasty made of old lime and brick dust. Will has taken to his room (which was shut up all day and is, he promises, relatively dust free). Maybe tomorrow he'll go to his parents' until I can get all this cleaned up, which is not going to happen in a meaningful way until Friday with my work schedule this week.

I am glad the chimney will be gone. Grandpa DM reports that when the workers started to take it down in the attic large sections just crumbled away and had to be caught to prevent them dropping to the floor. (I knew it; I just knew it.) Given that we're prone to earthquakes around here, I'm so happy not to have to lie awake any more worrying about this. Thanks Grandpa DM!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I saw a thing today

driving back from Bellevue. There was a convoy of military trucks headed south, not just one or two, a whole bunch. They were in the second lane over from the right or the right lane (once the freeway went down to 3 lanes from 4). I was in the third lane over from the right (what can I say, I work in collaboration, I'm comfortable with the middle). And there was this car in front of me that was really speeding up a lot and slowing down a lot, and it would pull in to the lane with the convoy in it, and then it would pull out in front of me, you know, you all drive. And then I realized it was a car full of girls and they were waving and making faces at the guys (it was mostly guys as far as I noticed) on the military trucks. And then some of the guys on the trucks made the universal signal for "show me your boobs." You know what I mean, you've seen it. And, I guess the girls did, because the people on the trucks went nuts. (I can only imagine the radio traffic going up and down the convoy at this point.)

Anyway, I found this all strangely touching and was not particularly bothered by it---although I suppose the guys would get in trouble for encouraging something like that, and it's not at all professional, and definitely a home country only type of interaction to invite; and I felt sort of sorry? sad? for the girls because, really, what on earth is the point. And it was all very stereotypical in the way of some of the worst types of stereotypes. Plus, it seems dangerous to do that sort of thing whilst speeding at 65 miles an hour in 3 or 4 lanes of traffic. But here are these guys off to we all know where, for I can only guess, can't even begin to relate to, what kind of hardship and crap. And here are these poor girls, zipping down the road in their car. It was pretty human.

And to think, all I do to support our men and women in uniform is occasionally send money for phone cards so they can call home. Which you all can do here, should you so choose.

Another quick update

Sorry, so long, no post. And I wonder why no one reads this thing. We are all fine. In random order our work week so far has included:

  • Trip to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in south central Washington State. It's something. (Me.)
  • Trip to Seattle to the doctor for hearing testing and GI consult. (Will; and, note, it turns out he can hear just fine, thank you.)
  • Four shots, two in each leg. (Liam; 15 month check up.)
  • Two days of moderate grade fever and feeling crummy. (Will; although he seems like he's doing slightly better or at least not getting worse.)
  • Trip to Petco to see real snakes and rats as opposed to the cat-toy versions. (Liam; thanks grandpa DH and GG.)
  • Four days in a row of working at least 11 hours and billing at least 9. (Me; woo hoo.)
  • Long plane ride home from Boston to reclaim their dog (Grandpa DM and Grandma KM; welcome home!)

And there's still one whole day to go!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Will had a fever today, and generally felt crummy especially this afternoon. Liam still has a runny nose and, I think is now getting all four molars at once. For a sweet little kid, was largely a pain to be around today. Still, groceries must be shopped, dogs walked, baby fed, etc.. I had hoped to use today to get my work finished, since yesterday was a day off. Honestly, I've never, ever been this far behind at work. I'm done missing the made up deadlines that I give myself to try to keep things in order and am now missing actual deadlines with clients. Great. I learn, again, that it is impossible for me to get anything done at home on the weekend while taking care of Liam. In the good news department: my neighbor told me about a Waldorf preschool within walking distance that takes only 12 kids (hidden message: sign up now even though your kid won't be old enough to go for almost 2 years), good to know. And, since we took the pusher away Liam (1) doesn't chase the dog with it any more and (2) has moved to about a 60/40 or Will says 70/30 walk to crawl ratio.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Emma is fine. . .

Emma, my parents' SWD is visiting us while they visit my sister across the country. This is a photo to prove we haven't lost her. She's fine, mom. She came with us to the park today and ran around like a "real" dog; she misses you, but she's fine.

Finally, the pictures of Liam walking

Captured today at the park. He really doesn't want to hold anyone's hand, but he will if he thinks he has to.

The other highlight of today's trip to the park was helping Daddy drop rocks into the storm water cistern. I kid you not. This went on for, oh, I don't know, maybe 20 minutes until Liam got tired of dropping the rocks into the water and started putting them in him mouth.

Finally, he is really starting to enjoy the slide. He likes trying to go up almost as much as going down, but we try to get him to walk around and climb up the stairs.

Fall Soup

We love the fall around here and this is our favorite fall soup, which, as Will says "only seems fancy" seeing as how it's made from basically canned ingredients and is cheap, cheap, cheap to eat and would be even cheaper if I bothered to get dried beans and soak them instead of using cans. I feel sure that this was originally an America's Test Kitchen recipe. It goes like this:

Get a heavy pan out and put it on low heat to heat up. Cut up about 4 slices of bacon into smallish dice. Panchetta is good, if you have it, but regular bacon works fine (not apple wood or maple flavored or any of that, just regular bacon). Okay, that's the most complicated part, getting the right bacon. When it's brown and crisp add 1/2 to 1 onion and 2-4 ribs of celery, diced. Saute those until they're basically cooked. Add 3-4 cloves of garlic, diced, and, if you want, 1 or two anchovies. Stir all this around for a minute or so until the anchovies are broken apart. Add about 1 tsp oregano and some red chili flakes and some salt. Stir around some more. This is all over pretty high heat still.

Now comes the cans of stuff. Add one can of diced tomatoes and their juice. Stir around. Add a 3-4 inch or so Parmesan cheese rind. This is exactly what it sounds like: it's what is left after you've eaten all the cheese. I typically have a number of these in the freezer. If you don't have one, don't worry, leave it out. Add 2 cans of cannelini beans. Bring this to a quick simmer and let it go for about 10 minutes to meld all the flavors. Then add 2 or 3 cans of chicken broth, and 2 or 3 cups of hot water. Bring to a boil and let it go for 30 minutes or so. Longer if you like, just keep an eye on it so the cheese rind doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.

About 30 minutes before you want to eat it add 1 or 1.5 cups of small pasta. We generally use orzo. Make sure there is enough liquid in the soup to cook the past and still be soup. Dice up some Italian parsley. When the past is cooked add the parsley. Garnish each serving with a little good-flavored olive oil and some Parmesan cheese, if you like. That's it. We're having some tonight.

Will's rowing race

Will's race went well, he finished the course in about 1 hour and 18 minutes and 11 seconds, which was at the slow end of times, but about what he has been doing in practice and he is happy with it. It also was nice for him to see some of the people from Vancouver Rowing Club, it has been a long time since we've seen them, and some of the kids that Will used to coach were around too, so that was great. Liam loved it once I gave in and let him down to crawl and then walk around on the sidewalk and grass. He got sopping wet, but was very happy with the whole thing, curious about the boats, friendly to new people and dogs, and clapped along with everyone else when the awards were given out. Photos are: Will taking the boat down onto the floating dock to launch; crummy view of the start; and after the race with Liam.

Least anyone think we are exposing Liam to only one political candidate. . .

Edited: this is an update and explanation. We are pretty consistent democratic voters in this house. Liam, though, has become fascinated with the photo of John McCain that is on the cover of the Atlantic magazine this month. He loves it. He keeps trying to give John McCain a kiss. I tried to get a picture of that a few days ago or whenever the first picture was taken, and finally was able to get one today. Go figure.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Quick update

We're all basically fine here. Will is on some new medications and it's not clear how they're working yet. Liam goes to yet another specialist today. . .I'm a little frantic trying to meet about a million deadlines at work and still keep food on the table and get everyone else where they need to be. My parents' SWD (small white dog) is staying with us for a week. Liam likes playing with her, which is nice. I'll try to post pictures soon, but by the time I get Liam home from work and fed it's basically too dark to take pictures in the house without the flash, and I hate the flash.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rowing! And, Liam has a cold. . ..

A quick Will update. Will has been rowing almost every day for the past month and has gained at least 5 pounds of solid weight and feels so much better. The rowing is so, so good for him. He is convinced that the exercise in the salt air (Will rows on salt water in the beautiful Puget Sound.) helps significantly with airway clearance and, of course, the exercise itself helps both his body and his mind. I am so grateful that Will has this in his life and that he is willing, and even enjoys, keeping at it. He is scheduled to row in a race this weekend -- 8 miles! He has been practicing the course and feels good about it, so we'll let you know how it goes and try to get some pictures. Yesterday Will was coming in just as Liam and I were headed home so we stopped at the boathouse to see him. Liam was fascinated by the boats and so excited to see his Daddy in a new setting. We hope and pray daily that this can continue and continue to be helpful to him and that it will keep him out of the hospital for many months!

Liam has developed a fever (low, but present) and a stuffy nose and was up most of the night with these complaints. He also is still getting 3 teeth at once and is, understandably, unhappy about that. We hope this is a quick event, that Will doesn't get it, and that Liam feels better soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Liam ate his entire dinner tonight without once throwing his plate on the floor. And he only tried to throw it on the floor a few times. Amazing.

Today's Activities

Today included:

  • Trips to Target (AM) and the park (PM)
  • Viewing of a new Baby Einstein video about farm animals (Liam was interested for about half the approximately 20 minute length; Will for slightly longer)
  • Playing in water in the sink, and Mollie's water outside (got very wet and messy)
  • 2.5 hour afternoon nap
  • Not a very good breakfast or lunch, but an enormous dinner of: yogurt and nectarines, green beans, cheese pizza, and baby macaroni and cheese (from a jar), and milk

Photos are:

  • Liam and Daddy at the park getting ready to throw the ball for Mollie
  • Liam and Daddy reading
  • A rare glimpse of Liam and Mommy (also at the park)

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Liam has been practicing his walking, it's more like lurching. he is especially excited to lurch quickly towards Mollie. It's interesting, Mollie will let Liam pet her if he can get over to her while standing up (she doesn't hold still to make this easy). It seems like she recognizes him more as a person when he's standing or walking. When he's crawling, she just runs away or darts in and licks his face and then runs away. I'll try to get some better pictures or ask Will to get some video; I know these suck.

Happy birthday to GG today; we're excited to get together for dinner tonight and even more excited that Grandma KM is cooking it! Thank you!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On my way home tomorrow morning

early. Still, I'm very much looking forward to being home. Not overly excited to be taking a long flight on Sept. 11, but I guess these days it's like any other day for flights. This is the east to west, or "uphill" portion of the trip. Seems to me if you're going to be in an airplane for 5 to 6 hours you should at least land somewhere where they speak a different language; preferably, French.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sick and Happy Link

I wanted to link to the Sick and Happy blog because I think it is such a thoughtful and interesting commentary on living with chronic illness. The writer is a 47-year old physician with CF (no transplant) who is now working as a wellness coach and is writing a book. So, here it is, for your reading enjoyment: Sick and Happy.

Traveling again

I'm traveling again for work this week, won't be home until Thursday evening. Liam is at Will's parents' house until Wednesday morning and then at my parents' house. When I'm on the road like this, especially in a really different time zone (I'm 3 hours ahead of Liam and Will here), it is so very nice to have my blackberry and get updates on Liam's day. Today I got updated morning, noon and night and everything seems to be going fine. Keeping my fingers crossed that Will's rowing goes well and that Liam (and everyone taking care of him) gets some sleep.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Foods Liam has tried for the first time, I think, in the past few days and really liked:
  • Cheese pizza
  • Fig newtons
  • Daddy's expensive strawberry/banana juice (from a straw)
  • Couscous
  • Mushroom (eaten with the couscous)
  • Tortilla with melted cheese
  • Bacon (tiny, tiny bits served with scrambled egg)

Foods tried recently that were less of interest:

  • Chocolate cake (can you believe it!)
  • Marinated and grilled pork

Foods that remain high on the list of favorites:

  • Salmon (although I'm thinking of cutting this back and/or having Liam tested for mercury, he probably eats wild salmon at least once a week if not more, he loves it)
  • Sauteed zucchini, he cannot get enough of this
  • Steamed green beans (also likes them stir fried with black bean sauce)
  • Chixpatty (the original, MorningStar version); honestly, Liam loves tofu in any form, but he especially likes chixpatty
  • Plain Greek yogurt, or any yogurt really
  • Boiled/poached carrots
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Any kind of soft fruit, but especially nectarines and grapes
  • And the all time favorite, most requested food, Gerber "stars" puffed cracker things

He may not ever win any awards for sleeping, but he's a good eater, our baby. Takes after his Mommy that way.

Important things to have on hand when you're 14 months old and getting two molars at once...

1. Frozen fruit and ice cubes in a mesh bag for a teething Popsicle.
2. A phone that plays music and a Daddy willing to take you for walks so Mommy can finally have a cup of coffee in peace.
3. Children's' Tylenol, infant drops.

Liam is getting his butt kicked by his teeth these past few days. Last night and Saturday night he was up from about 2:30 to 5:00 (AM!) restless and crying. Finally this morning at around 5:30 I gave him Tylenol infant drops (about 2/3 of a dose) and he was able to go back to sleep. Me, not so much. Today he has been resistant to naps and alternating between fussy and over-tired wacky. Finally napping now; we pray for a solid 2 hours or so of sleep, he needs it.

The phone and Tylenol are unremarkable. The Daddy is wonderful as has been remarked on extensively. The mesh bag is worth a special mention. This is (yet another) example of a baby item that someone gave us that I thought was ridiculous and now love. You can put whatever food you want in it and the baby can suck and eat away with no danger of choking. We use ours almost exclusively for frozen fruit and ice cubes -- it has been a Godsend for the days when Liam's teeth are really bugging him. Ours is like this, except brighter colors. Ours is an older model, but now they're easy to find, made by all the usual suspects in the making-stuff-for-babies corporate world. They're cheap and a great baby gift; I give them to everyone.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Will's blog

Will has started his own blog, although don't' get too excited, he claims he cannot be relied upon to keep it up. It's Will's Charmed Life and you can find it here. Today's feature (or was it yesterday's): video of rowing and a commentary on ergs.

Friday night walk around

First to the park with Mollie, then to the playground to play on play structure with Daddy, then to the local pizza place to eat dinner, Liam's first dinner out, ever. He liked it just fine, especially the pizza (it may have been his first pizza too). Drinking from the straw also was a big hit. (In the photo, Will and Liam are both looking at Mollie, who has just knocked her water over or something like that.)

We're all fine here. It has been a busy week. Will's rowing is getting faster, Liam is doing well, and I may someday even get caught up at work. We think Liam was inspired by the Olympic coverage on television. He is very interested in the rings, more so than the other play equipment. Will says he holds almost all of his own weight---but of course, his hands aren't really strong enough to test that theory fully yet.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Busy few days. . ..

It's been one thing after another it seems like the past few days and the forecast is that it will continue until I leave for a work trip on Monday. Lots of deadlines and meetings for work, visiting and visitors, Will trying to keep up with his rowing and treatments because they so help him feel better, and yesterday Liam had an all day series of appointments in Seattle to be assessed for potential development delays.

Liam was given the Bayley Scale test of Infant and Toddler development. It was really interesting to watch the test. The equipment looked exactly like what is in this picture, except in Liam's kit the baby doll was missing a leg. (He still, or maybe because, was fascinated with the baby doll, he doesn't have any toys like that at home.)

The assessment is basically a play-based test. Liam was asked to do a huge number of specific tasks including:
  • Take cubes out of a cup,
  • Put all the cubes into a cup,
  • Make a tower (stack) of blocks,
  • Find something hidden under a washcloth,
  • Put pegs into a peg board,
  • Point to pictures in books,
  • Run a car back and forth to the examiner,
  • Imitate noises and actions,
  • Bang two spoons or blocks together,
  • Drink from a cup,
  • Pick up a cheerio,
  • Get a cheerio out form a small pill-like container,
  • Put shapes into the right places on the shape board (like a puzzle), and
  • Look at things when they are named. (E.g., where is daddy?)

The examiner also watched Liam pull up to standing and he obliged by toddling around the room energetically. (He also tried to turn a somersault on the play mat, which he loved. I think a somersault might have resulted in extra credit, but he stopped part way through.) Liam sat on my lap at a table during most of the evaluation and the examiner sat across the table. Will watched. We were not allowed to talk or help or encourage Liam. Liam was very interested in the whole thing, enjoyed the examiner, paid attention and seemed to like the testing. He didn’t cry and only got fidgety a few times when it was taking a few minutes for the examiner to get the next testing toys out of the kit.

The good news is that Liam’s scores were only slightly below average except for fine motor skills where he is a little bit further behind. But nothing was so far below average that it triggered a serious concern and right now there's every reason to believe that he will catch up on his own just fine. They will see him again in December to make sure he's making good progress.

Liam also had his blood drawn to be tested for lead and a few other things, just in case, and his hearing tested. Liam SLEPT THROUGH HIS HEARING TEST. The baby who doesn't sleep was so tired by 3:15 and after the drama of his blood draw, once he got into the quiet hearing test room he just curled up in my arms and went sound to sleep and would not be wakened. They tested Liam’s hearing using a method called otoacoustic emissions, where they put a little thing in his ear and it made a tone and they measured the response of the little ear hairs that process sound and graph it on a computer. Liam's hearing seems to be great. When he goes back in December they’ll do the part of the hearing test that he can’t sleep through, but they’re really not worried about his hearing.

It would be nicer if Liam didn't need to be followed in this way, but on the whole it was a very reassuring visit.

Then, at the end I made the mistake of picking up a pamphlet on MRSA at Children's Hospital and read that immune suppressed people shouldn't come to the hospital because. . .well, you get the picture. Great. Will spent all day there will Liam and me. He is careful, but, still. I will discourage him from going back. And then when we got home Liam wouldn't sleep until almost 9:30 PM and then FELL OUT OF BED at 10:45 or so and spent a least an hour crying. And who can blame him. The bed goes onto the floor today to prevent future falls. Liam seems fine this morning. So, one thing after another. . ..