Tuesday, March 31, 2009


This morning Natalie had a CT scan on her head and then a follow-up appointment with the neurosurgeon.  He said the tumor that he removed from her back was benign.  He is concerned that her shunt isn't functioning as well as it should, though, so she is having surgery again on Thursday to replace it.  It was kind of short notice, but we want to go ahead and get it over with.  It should take about an hour or so and she'll be out on Friday as long as everything goes well.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Silence in the Afternoon

The house is spotless because we always have to have it ready to show. Ben is out playing poker. Both girls are asleep on the couch. I hardly know what to do with myself!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Here are a few videos of Lauren performing.

First, "I'm a Little Teapot":

Then, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes":

And finally, telling me about her party and her hot iced coffee:

Not much has been happening here today.  This morning I said to Lauren, "Here's the deal: you're going to finish lunch, then you can watch one Strawberry Shortcake video, then take a nap, then go to dance class" and she agreed to that deal.

She went in the playroom and was watching Strawberry Shortcake and Ben and I were in the living room playing a video game.  She wandered into the living room and I asked her if her video was done.  She said, "Yes" and I said, "It's time to take a nap then" and she said, "Here's the deal, I don't want to take a nap, and I don't want to go to dance class."   Hahahaha!  Ben and I laughed so hard.  We did still make her take a nap, though.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Back at Home

Saturday morning they told us that Natalie could come home or stay if we felt like it. We opted to have her stay one more night just to heal a little bit more before we took her home. She has been doing great. She gets a little bit of tylenol every 6 hours and is healing really well. I went to the hospital to pick her up bright and early and we came home Sunday afternoon.

Lauren had a pretty fun time while we were there. Ben bought a little inflatable pool to put up in Victor's back yard and he got her some bubbles. She had so much fun chasing them around the back yard. Here she is standing in her pool. I can only assume she's pretending to be a flamingo:

Ben and I enjoyed the nice weather and sat out and played cribbage. Lauren had to get in on the action and I think Ben is teaching her strategy already. (Move your piece when no one is looking.) Ha!
The house was shown a few times while we were gone. We still haven't heard an offer yet. It's hard living in the house knowing we need to have it ready to show at any time. I feel like I can't start any projects and I'm just waiting around in a house that has to stay clean. I guess I should get used to it, though. The house has only been on the market for a week and a half and it may take a while to sell. The feedback has been positive so far, but like I said, still no offers and that's the only thing that matters right now.
Lauren's birthday is coming up in less than two weeks. We're going to go down to San Antonio the week following her birthday and do Sea World and maybe the zoo. It will be nice to go down there and get to do something other than spend the day at the hospital.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day After Surgery

Natalie's surgery went great.  She lost very little blood when they removed the teratoma and they were able to release her spinal cord and examine the cysts.  He thinks the cysts are benign and the teratoma was sent off to pathology.  While she was sedated he also tapped her shunt and confirmed that it is working and drained the area under her skin where some fluid was building up and wrapped her head in an effort to get the skin to heal back down.

I stayed at the hospital until 7:45 last night.  They ran her blood after surgery and her hemoglobin levels were low, so they gave her some blood to raise those levels before they took her breathing tube out.  She was stable last night when I called, but had thrown up after they tried feeding her.  She is moving her legs and toes which confirms that they didn't damage any nerves during surgery.

They said she'd be out Saturday at the very earliest, but I'm still going to plan on Monday just so I'm not disappointed if it isn't earlier.

As for the house, the same couple who had a showing on Wednesday went back yesterday for another showing.  Word is they LOVE the house, but they still haven't placed an offer yet, so we'll see.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day Before Surgery

Natalie's next surgery is tomorrow morning.  I have to have her at the hospital at 5:30 am.  I came down here Monday night with Natalie while Ben and Lauren stayed at the house to get it finished for showings.  On Tuesday I met with the Neurosurgeon for our pre-op appointment, then I filled out the pre-admit paperwork and then went to pre-anesthesia to fill out more paperwork.  Before I could see the anesthesiologist, it was time to go to Natalie's  ophthalmology appointment.  That took almost two hours, and by the time we finished, everything was closing for the day.  We went back this morning to finish at pre-anesthesia and then have blood drawn at the lab.  Or not.  They stuck her three times at the lab and couldn't get a vein, so they sent us up to the PICU to see if they could get her.  She was stuck a total of SIX times before they got the blood she needed.  She was really not happy, and I felt quite sick by the time it was over.  I did see the same nurse she had last time, and she was very excited to find out Natalie would be there with her this weekend.

The eye doctor thinks Natalie is far-sighted and has a stigmatism.  She also has one eye that looks like it may be starting to be a lazy-eye.  He wants to see her again in April after he has a chance to look at her MRIs and CT scans and he'll see if she has any changes from this visit.  She may get glasses to see if seeing better will help strengthen her eye muscles.

Ben and Lauren are on their way down to San Antonio right now.  Ben has been working his butt off to get the house ready for showings since we'll be gone all weekend.  We had our first showing today at 4:30 and Ben said he used every last minute to finish up and get packed.  I guess he was pulling away just as the realtor showed up to the house.  I'm very much looking forward to any feedback we get.  While we're gone, the realtor is going to go in and set up the 360 degree virtual tour of the house to post to her website.  

Saturday, March 14, 2009

For Sale

We put the house on the market as of yesterday. We've been cleaning and packing like crazy over the past two days. Ben rented a storage unit and we have packed up a few car loads to put away until we get to Washington. We also went through and gave away a bunch of small kitchen electrics to Goodwill. The house looks SO EMPTY now! I got some good pictures of most of the rooms and sent them to our realtor to put up on our listing. It's pretty liberating to be rid of so much stuff. There is still a lot we have to get done, though. We need to get the play room under control, hopefully I can get a box or two of toys to the storage unit without Lauren noticing. We have to get everything done by Monday because we leave Monday night for San Antonio for Natalie's next surgery. Hopefully the house will be shown every day while we're gone.

Natalie's pre-op appointment is Tuesday morning and she also has her follow up with Opthamology that afternoon. We'll have nothing to do on Wednesday and then her surgery should be first thing Thursday morning. She's having the teratoma on the base of her spine removed and if she doesn't lose too much blood he is going to cut the fiber that is tethering her spinal cord and also remove some cysts at the base of her spinal cord. There's a chance he'll have to stop after removing the teratoma and we'll have to do the other surgery later.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Pacific Northwest

As you know, our orders to Germany were pulled this January.  We had a few options about what we could do, like stay here or go to Virginia.  Earlier this week we got a new offer for Fort Lewis, Washington.  We debated it for a day or so, and then decided to take it.  Fort Lewis is between Olympia and Tacoma and we thought we'd like to get out of Texas and try out Washington.  We'll be about two and a half hours away from Jon and we'll be about the same distance from Ema.  Ben is scheduled to go to the same Instructor Pilot course in Fort Rucker in June, so we should be in Washington in late July/early August.  That's coming up pretty fast, so we called our realtor today to get the house on the market.  We're starting to get things cleaned up around the house and are looking for boxes to start packing away some clutter and knick-knacks that we can do without until we get to our new place.  Our plan is to clean out and give things away, too, so we don't end up moving stuff we don't want anymore.

I took Lauren to Hobby Lobby this week and let her pick out some fabric.  I made three dresses for her so far.  I took some pictures, but they didn't come out great, so I'll have to take new ones to post.  She picked out a purple fabric with the Disney princesses and glitter all over it, and she picked out a green fabric with Strawberry Shortcake on it.  Both dresses came out pretty cute.  The Princess dress is a little too long, but she won't let me shorten it.  She's been on quite a dress kick lately, it's all she wants to wear.  Thankfully the weather has been getting nicer, so she's been able to.  Last week she had to wear tights under and a jacket over her dresses if we went anywhere.  I do have one good picture of a dress that I made, but it's going to someone else and I don't want to post the picture until I give it to her.

Natalie and I met with her Physical Therapist on Thursday.  We're going to start meeting twice a month with her.  She showed me some new ways to do tummy time with Natalie that she might tolerate better that will help with her muscle development.  We called the Neurosurgeon's office and scheduled her surgery for March 19th.  On the 17th she has her pre-op appointment as well as her opthamology appointment and then we plan on being there for about a week.  Her surgery is Thursday morning and the doctor said she'll have a few days in the PICU afterwards.  So I'm guessing she'll be out on Monday.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cranberry Vanilla Chip Cookies

Last fall I bought a jarred cookie mix from Harry and David that sat on my counter for months. I finally made them in January and they were so delicious. The jar didn't have the recipe included, so I've had to search recipes and adjust things here and there, and this is what I came up with:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats

1 1/2 cup vanilla chips

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a mixing bowl combine butter, sugar and brown sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla. Add in salt, baking soda, cinnamon and flour. Finally, stir in oats, vanilla chips and cranberries.

I use a 1 Tablespoon ice cream scoop to drop on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake 14 minutes (I usually have to bake things for one or two minutes more in my oven, so check yours at 12 minutes.) Cool, then move to wire baking rack to continue cooling.

Here's a tip: put the mixer on low and add the flour in little batches, slowly, or else you could end up with flour everywhere, like this:

And here are the finished cookies:
They're chewy and hearty and delicious.

Ben made pulled pork sandwiches for dinner again yesterday and they were good just like last time. Lauren has a little bit of a cold happening. I don't know if it was because we had been slacking on giving her her Zyrtec or if she has an actual cold. Natalie is doing pretty well, though.

Yesterday Ben started another small project in the kitchen, he added an outlet to the end of our bar. I think that's going to be SO helpful. I'd love to be able to put the crock pot or KitchenAid on the end of the bar when I cook because there's just so much more room there than anywhere else in the kitchen. He had to go back to Home Depot today to get a plug with the right amps, so I haven't taken any pictures of the finished project.

Oh, and my desktop computer is dead. Well, not dead. Maybe just in a coma.

When I was little I used to think it was "acoma" because that's how I always heard it. You know, "Erica Kane is in acoma." It wasn't until I asked, "Is she out of her acoma?" that someone finally corrected me.

So, back to my computer in its coma. The power source just went out, so Ben had to order me a new one. It won't ship until tomorrow and it probably won't get here until Wednesday or Thursday, so I'm just on my laptop until then. Which is fine, but I can't edit photos like I would like to on the laptop.

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