Showing posts from 2012


On Monday my right side hurt. My rib cage, specifically, ached.  No big deal.  I lug that 24 pound baby around pretty much every minute we are together. Not only is there lugging going on but I am also emptying the dishwasher, cooking, laundry, making beds, vacuuming, etc. during previously mentioned lugging. On Tuesday, I felt fine.  Great.   Must have slept wrong. On Wednesday, my side ached again and now a tiny spot of what appeared to be poison ivy showed up on the right side of my stomach. It itched. Then by the end of the day, a tiny spot on my back showed up.  Itchy.  Both spots would be places I might have scratched after touching poison ivy which we have been known to have in our giant backyard. Odd, but believable.  I have never been one to experience terrible reactions from poison ivy but my mother glances toward the leafy vine and instantly collapses into a heap of red and itchy - so I figured maybe now is my long-overdue, inherited poison ivy time? Thursday I was an itchy mess Calami…


During the season when everyone is reminded of their favorite things, I've been thinking of the things my favorite things are up to.
 Did that read right?
Jackson and Eli are my favorite everythings. They make me laugh. They amaze me every day.
 Eli blows enthusiastic, noisy kisses that melt your heart. He will tell you what an elephant says and what a cow has to say, too. Surprisingly, what they have to say is very similar to each other. He now says thank you, hello, night-night, bye-bye, sock and he calls for Jackson (his favorite thing!).
But the most adorable thing he does is something I've never seen another baby do. When holding Eli on my hip, I'm able to walk around the house and get quite a bit done - make dinner, vacuum, put away laundry, etc. Eli enjoys being carted around and observing my tasks. However, every now and then he will suddenly twist himself around and pop his tiny face into my view as if to say "Why hello there! Don't forget there is an ado…

Trash Day

Shoooo-wee Mama! That trash can smells so bad. I mean that trash can smells like ... well, I don't want to say what it smells like. It's ok. You can say it. Well, that trash can smells like ... well ...  I'll just say that trash can smells like something that came out of your bottom. Long pause. I mean not your bottom! But someone's bottom for sure....


After a long evening of Eric feeling poorly, he decided to take a hot bath. Jackson and I were being good nurses until the kid decided to flip on me.
........... Oh, mama I'm not feeling so good either. Really? Yes, my stomach is hurting, too. Really. Yeah, babe, he must be having sympathy pains. Hmmm. Yeah, mama. I have centipede pains. You have what? I have those centipede pains. Daddy said. You do? Yes, I have centipede pains. And I didn't even touch that centipede! ___


Honey, the tree is crooked.

No, you're crooked.



Jackson: Mama, why are you sitting in here while we all take a bath? Is it cause we're all being a family?

Amanda: Yes, of course. I mean, I did make this family.

Eric: Well ...  I did ... I mean ... It was shake-n-bake and I helped!

One Year

In a few days, Eli will be a year old.
 While there is always the bittersweet moments of realizing your baby is growing up, with Eli it is overshadowed by my joy for his achievements. Each month he gets stronger and healthier. Bit by bit he his shedding those NICU shadows. He is catching up to his adjusted age and slowly weaning off a few meds.
Of course we are still cautious, especially as winter approaches. I'm sure all parents of young children feel the same when the chill in the air signals the return of flu shots and runny noses.
Batten the hatches and break out the hoodies, the cold brings colds. Eli falls fast when it comes to the contagious. So we've primed the inhalers and refilled the scripts. I would love to go full mama-bear mode and hibernate away with the children for the winter, but instead I will dole out the Purell to anyone who will listen.
Getting to watch a stronger, older Eli is something that brings tears to my eyes daily. We are so very lucky. He has sta…


Mama, on the back of my drawing I have made a list of who is good and who is bad.


On the right are the people that are good. See? Here is you and daddy and I have to add Eli.


On this side is the bad list.

There is only one person on this side? Who got put on your bad list?

That's John Wilkes Booth.

I see.

Cause he's a bad guy.



I have called this family meeting to announce that we are going to take official family photos over spring break. So we will be looking for a photographer. We've got to find a great photographer to take our pics.

Oh Mama! Why don't we get Jimmy Olson?

(long pause)

He'd be good, babe. He is an ace photographer with the Daily Planet.


Jackson: Mama, I am going to live with you until I am 99 years old!

Amanda: Well, I am so glad we got that out of the way.

Eric: Babe, you know that won't hold up in a court of law, right? They'll say he was under duress when he said it.

Jackson: Elvis is under arrest!

Who's House?

Hello, God's house.
What? What did you say Jackson?
I'm saying hello to God's house. It's in the sky, so I look up and say hello to it.


Jackson, what is something your mama always says to you?
She says, I love you.
What is something your daddy always says to you?
Uh ... he says, Can you watch Eli for a second?

Colorful Vocabulary

Wah, dah, wah! Dah! Bah! Waaaa!

Hey Jackson, instead of just singing sounds to Eli, maybe you could sing actual words to him so he learns new words to say?

Ok. ... Red, red, red, red, red, white, white, white, white, blue, blue, blue, blue, magician, magician, magician, silver, silver, silver....

The Boys of Summer

You know how you have that one (or maybe two) friend who is your very close, bestest friend that you haven't really had a long conversation with in so long but you know that if you just set aside an hour or two and picked up the phone you would pick right up where you left off like you had never left each other's side? And you know how you can't just make a quick call to that particular bestie because there is just way too much to catch up on now so you keep putting it off and putting it off until now there is so much to catch up you feel like you need an entire Sunday afternoon to catch her up on all the details except that your afternoon is filled with recording your barely-five-year-old taking his own training wheels off his bike and zipping around the cul-de-sac while the nine month old is popping up tiny teeth and pulling up in his crib?


Well, you're  the one who majored in philosophy!
I didn't want to be a philosopher.
Then why did you major in philosophy?
Trust me, if I could go back and kick my ass I would!


There are about five or six texts that I keep on my phone's inbox at all times. Some of them include pics. All are kept for highly emotional reasons. Some are recent. Some from within the last six months. I keep a few with pictures of Stella from the hospital. I am afraid to delete those because they were her last photos and are all I have left. One is a text I sent to my dad and my cousin Pammy on the evening of 11/12/11. It is a photo of the machines crowding Eli's NICU room. I keep it to remind me how far he has come. That Eli is a miracle. I keep the early September text conversation between me and our realtor to remind me how lucky we were to find our house. And I still have the one on Halloween, last year when the ultrasounds to keep checking my fluid levels began. Some I am afraid to delete. Doesn't that sound crazy? But I get these silly notions that something bad will happen if I delete well wishes about Eli's health, or my family's health…


Outside dark clouds, booming thunder, soft rain and flashes of thunder - the stage was set for Eli's big move. He had been practicing for more than a month. Oh there had been lots of rocking, calling and baiting - but nothing had quite convinced him just yet. That is, until Jackson's toy tuck was placed just within reach. And slowly, tentatively, Eli's arms coordinated with his knees. His hands kept him upright, his knees no longer sluggish. We caught it on my phone. He crawled. Crawled. He crawled right over to the bright yellow, toy truck. We leapt with joy and shrieked and shouted. So much so, that even he joined in the celebration. Hooray! A baby who once never displayed proper walking reflexes reached a big milestone. We were so happy. And then ..... we started digging out the old baby gates. Damn.

My Oma

When Eli was born, Jackson had to suddenly do more things on his own as is common with a new baby in the house. But with Eli’s rough start, Jackson didn’t get to adjust to being a big brother like most kids. He had to transition quickly what with Eli requiring more attention than your average newborn. So when Omi’s red, white and blue afghan arrived he labeled it his very own “lovey” and cuddled into it immediately.
Jackson drags the bright afghan she knitted him around the house. He loves the crisp colors and how they match his room. He cuddles with it on the couch when he is feeling tired and sleeps with it every night. It warms my heart to snuggle our children up in the afghans she made for them.
Her love comforts her great grandchildren in soft, knitted layers.
Each purl stitch is a tiny bud harboring love sent from their great-grandmother. Each knot is a sign of hard work and love. These things: hard work and love are what Omi taught us.
 Omi taught us…
 … to be brave by her exa…


Jackson, what is the name of your monster truck?
Inventory Monster Truck Goblin Green.
I see, and the name of the other one?
Red Yellow Black

Happy Father's Day



Jackson has been attending vacation bible school this past week. He is always taken with good stories and music. Now that VBS has come to a close, Jackson has been regaling us with his own renditions of the songs.
 I asked him if we should call him Pastor Jackson.
 He declined the title.
 I suggested Reverend Jackson.
He disagreed.
How about Father Jackson?
 Finally, I asked him, "What should we call you when you are singing from the pulpit?"
"Michael Jackson."


Have you ever noticed that sometimes Jackson laughs like Greg?
Oh yeah?
 Yeah,sometimes he sounds just like Greg when he giggles.
Or maybe it's just that Greg laughs like a four year old?
Yeah, that.


So, Jackson is at VBS tonight?
So, essentially we have the house to ourselves?
*long pause*
We should watch a violent movie!
Yeah, with lots of curse words!

Six Months

This weekend is Eli's christening.
Eric, Jackson and I have been busy getting ready for visiting friends and family. Eli has too. His days are filled with sitting up and solid foods.
On his six month birthday, he could sit for only a few seconds at a time. Jackson and I spent many evenings sitting Eli on Jackson's bed and then predicting which way the baby would tumble. This entertained Jackson immensely. Eli, too. Now Eli sits for long periods of time working at his activity mat, listening to Jackson read a book, cloud gazing from my lap in the backyard, marveling at the existence of Elvis, etc.
He is also his own bouncy seat. He loves to bounce and rock and dance in the safety of your arms. Seeing these healthy signs of coordination and development warms our hearts. Eli has also graduated from rice cereal to solids. His first taste was squash. Jackson was enjoying an afternoon in our baby pool and it occurred to me that it would also make an ideal spot to feed a baby his fir…


Hey babe, thanks for making breakfast this morning.
No problem.
 So, uh.....
I left the water on in the yard all night.
So, we don't have to water that tree...ever.

Becoming a Man

Jackson pick up that dead bug.
Ewwwwww. No way.
Come on pick it up.
You're a boy aren't you?
Well, that's what boys do. Pick up bugs...


Jackson graduated pre-k. It was quite an event with cupcakes and a little musical number. I will have to post the video. He was quite proud of his certificate. Now that it is summer he will be going to Eli's school. This means I am driving both boys to the same location in the mornings. During the 15 minute drive Jackson reads a book to Eli. Eli loves anything Jackson does. Jackson loves reading. So it's a win-win. While reading a book about Eeyore, Jackson asked....
Mama, what does g-l-o-o-m-y spell?
What does gloomy mean?
Oh you know, like sad or kinda down. You know how Eeyore is always down?
 Yeah, it's probably because he always has a nail in his bottom.


It has been a few weeks since I received the call from my sister. I could tell right away it was bad news. You could hear the defeat in her voice. You could feel the grief welling up inside her little body spilling through the phone. That kind of sadness tastes metallic. She had confided a couple weeks earlier of her fears and I had responded with hope. You always respond with hope. In our family, it's hope mixed with a little gallows humor. "Kid's got a little hole in the heart...hey at least it's not brain cancer." I really thought we had this one. We wouldn't lose again. She wouldn't lose again. All the hope and all the humor couldn't stop that call. I think of a lot different things in retrospect. My father spending nights watching Elmo stroking her hand as she sleeps. My brother, ever the river marshall, making everyone comfortable, entertaining visitors before he would start his shift. My sister reveling at her daughter's spunk with her…


Eli finally sleeps in his bouncy seat to my right.His cold makes every breath tight and charged with static. Each breath takes too much effort. Each breath is work. ---
We have all been holding our breaths for Stella. We have held them for nearly six months. We have kept our lungs filled with hope.
Pray, don't breathe. There was no room for air, only miracles. We curled our fingers into fists of fury, raging at disease.
We had no time to breathe deep. We held our breaths for miracles.
Maybe a Thanksgiving day parade of cures. Maybe a Christmas gift of healing. Maybe a birthday present for everyone.
We held our breaths. And now we are breathless. Their star was stolen from the sky. The breath snatched right from our throats. Taken.
--- Time for Eli's next dose. The medicine relaxes the grip on his lungs. He can sleep. He can now breathe deep. Harder for us. Grief does not loosen its grip. Each breath is work.

Stella Rose

Our hearts are breaking. Please lift up Stella in your hearts. May she feel no pain and only our love surrounding her.


Eli had fallen asleep in my arms. He nestled into the inside of my elbow. Eventually, I cradle my warm little bundle of baby and make my way upstairs to put him down for the night. He is full of milk and sweet dreams. Just before putting Eli to bed, he stirs. He lifts his head from my shoulder and softly sighs in that most precious baby way.
Oh honey, did you hear that sweet little sound?
Yes, dear. It's like angels farting.


Right now the boys are four years and four months old. Jackson really enjoys telling peopl about this little numerical happening. But then he is quick to point out that he is really four and a half and Eli is zero. Technically. Every time he mentions this little extra half of four it gives me a little twinge. Really? Four and a half? My baby is closer to five? Four has been so much fun so far. Four has really developed a sense of humor and a serious appreciation for musicals. Wizard of Oz, The Music Man and Chittty Chitty Bang Bang are part of the musical repertoire now. However, recently the automotive repair program Wheeler Dealers has become a request when been given a special tv treat option. Four is trying to learn how to tie its shoes, has learned how to read and enjoys playing soccer. Four also has a lot of questions. A lot. Why does Superman have red boots? Can he get hurt? What do you know about construction? Why do they have port-a-potties out there? How much spinach do I hav…

Check Up

Eli's official four month check up was Thursday afternoon. He now weighs 15 pounds and 4 oz. I thought he was a bit small but the doctor felt he was right on track and was pleased with his growth. He is basically in the 45 percentile in height and weight. His head size is in the 24 percentile. These numbers shock me because for years Jackson would be well into the 90 percentiles and his head size would literally be off the charts. But as long as the doctor is ok with Eli's growth then I am, too.We have had a few scares regarding Eli catching colds. Basic stuff for a normal baby, but for him it didn't go so well. He catches a cold and his symptoms get pretty drastic pretty quickly. A slight cough and congestion lapse into difficulty breathing within hours. Now when he gets a few symptoms we put the breathing monitor back on his diaper so mentally we can sleep at night. Of course, then I stay awake staring at its little, flashing, green light. I'm so glad RSV season is w…



Four Months

... and very suspicious


A Baby House

Overall, we could not be happier about Jackson's reaction to his little brother. He still loves to help out when it comes to baby stuff and truly enjoys discussing Eli's ...uh... digestive productions.

Mama, is it a poopy diaper?

Yes, it is.

Well then, I better check it out.


Yep, let me see ... EWWWWWWW! You're right, that's a poopy one.

Thank you, Jackson.

When Eli is on my shoulder, Jackson loves to inform me if Eli is asleep or awake. Sometimes our conversations are endless:

What's the status, Jack?



He's awake.


Nope, asleep. Wait! He's asleep.

He is the most helpful when it comes to tummy time. He sings and dances, putting on such a show that Eli can't help but hold his head high to catch a glimpse of the whirling dervish. Of course, there are pangs of jealousy. They bubble up in unexpected moments. Like at the end of Eli's PT, when Jackson will suddenly have to show us his own tummy time skills. Or like the time he didn't…


The NICU Chronicles - While it is hard to tell, there is still so much to say about Eli's birth. Now that we are farther away from this traumatic event, we can finally revisit these moments. We want never to forget the amazing people that helped us through. This blog is how we will remember...

It was really the second night that our baby was in the NICU that was the worst. The first night was so full of shock and horror that it all just melded into white heat. A blur you can't really see. A thick fog that clouded our eyes and even made it difficult to hear. What did the doctor say? Our baby will be fine? Our baby can't breathe? His heart? Wait. Stop. What is happening? Recovering from surgery made it difficult to travel from my hospital room over to the NICU but that first night Eric wheeled me over and we got to sit with Eli, making sure our voices were barely a whisper so as not to stimulate him. We could only touch the big toe on his left foot while a pulse ox mon…

That's Just How I Roll ... Almost

It's In His Genes

Jackson has started soccer. We asked him what interest he would like to pursue and it was narrowed down to swimming, dancing or soccer. He mulled. Soccer was the final decision. He is so in love with everything about it. Especially the gear. Men and their gear. For Christmas, we got him a pair of shin guards. He was so thrilled he put them on immediately. He even wore them to school, without me knowing, to show his friends. He wore them all day. That is commitment. Once a week, we head to the soccer field and watch him learn the basics. But it isn't the soccer game basics I love to watch happen on the field. I love watching him experience so many simple aspects of the game that will become foundational pieces to his overall character. It may sound overly dramatic, but I really see him growing up during those 40 minutes of astroturf. I love watching him learn how to be a teammate, how to listen to his coach, how to coordinate his feet with his brain, how to win and how to lose. He is havi…


Eli's ECHO and EKG were this morning, and overall he did much better at this ECHO appointment compared to his last. His overall demeanor was so pleasant the nurses enjoyed "talking" with him and counting his grins. This time around I remembered to bring a bottle which meant that while the blood pressure taking was still not fun there weren't massive fits of hysteria and there was much less overall sweating.The results of his ECHO are the same. There has been no change in the hole in his heart and there has been no change to the clot (calcification) in his ventricle. The cardiologist says it may take up to 24 months before his ASD decides to close. And as for the clot, he may have it for the rest of his life. In the meantime, he will have to go back for a follow-up ECHO in six months. Overall, the cardiologist was pleased with these results, commenting that it is a positive that the clot has not gotten bigger and so far is not causing any extra leakage near his ventricl…

Three Months

Eli celebrated his three month birthday with a tiny cupcake and a hushed, late-night round of singing. Hushed because by the time the candle was lit he was fast asleep in his bassinet.

Something so ordinary to most babies - sleeping in a bassinet.
But for Eli, it was a big step. His painful reflux and moody temperament have kept him from sleeping on his back or for long periods of time. He has slept in his bouncy seat or swing for short naps since coming home from the hospital.
But in the last few days we have been successfully working on him sleeping in his bassinet. I say "we" because it has been hard for me to make the transition as well. It's harder for me to keep an eye on him from my own bed when he is asleep in the bassinet, but this process needs to be done. I headed ba ck to work, and I can't keep staring at him all night until he is 18. Maybe just until he is 5.
Eli continues to gain weight. He is now up to 14 pounds and has become quite smiley. He has the best…

Hogwarts Prep

What did you do in school today?
Oh, lots of things. Like ... math and stuff.
Oh really? What kind of math?
Well, I learned things you usually learn in college.
Like what?
Like potions, and how to pour things into a cup without spilling.


Jackson, how did you get this cut on your ankle?
I don't know. I wasn't there when it happened.

Mars Venus

Amanda: It is truly amazing what a woman can get done around the house with one arm while holding a baby when compared to a man around the house with two arms.
Eric: You mean like picking up a spider?
Amanda: Touché.


Jackson, you know how Christmas is over?
You know how all the decorations are put away?
And there aren't anymore Christmas things around anymore?
Can we finally go ahead and take down your gingerbread house?
Well, how long do we have to keep it?
How long do we have to keep it out?
For all days.

Big Tip

Jackson: Can I tell you something?

Waitress: Sure. Of course.

Jackson: My baby brother Eli doesn't have any teeth.

Waitress: Oh really? He doesn't have teeth. Hmmm. Not like you, huh?

Jackson: Right.


Jackson: Can I tell you something?

Waitress: Of course.

Jackson: I love my mama.

Waitress: I love that you love your mama.