Sunday, December 27, 2009

Max's New Buddy


Nana continued her tradition of making life-sized dolls for the boys and introduced Max to his this Christmas. The tradition is that it will be named whatever Max chooses and can say. (So it's yet to be named, though it looks like it's leaning towards an 'A' name.)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!


We hope everyone has a day filled with family, friends, good food and safe travels!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

80's Keys


We found my old Casio PT-100 keyboard in the storage unit yesterday. We're talking old school! I loved this keyboard growing up for it's awesomely cheesy rhythm banks (Bossa Nova was my fave) and synthesized strings, perfect for playing Axel F. We decided to load it up with fresh batteries for Max and the boy LOVES it!

We also found Max a Christmas church outfit last night. Mommy was *very* excited to have him try it on this morning and accidentally stuck both of his little legs in one. (Whoops, my bad!)


Monday, December 21, 2009

Olympic Dreams

Last night was the second night in a row I dreamt very vividly that I was an Olympic swimmer. (The difference in last night's dream vs the first night's was that it's soundtrack was by Mannheim Steamroller.) The Penn State women's volleyball coach was our coach and he decided to put me into a relay at the very last minute. I was all "Put me in, Coach! I can do it!" and was jumping up and down raising my hand like a fifth grader trying to be called on in class. He finally said "You're in!" and told me to get going. He didn't tell me what stroke I was swimming in the relay, which freaked me out. I kept trying to ask the other swimmers what I was supposed to do, but no one answered, so I figured I'd just figure it out when I got up on the starting block.

I was also wearing a very Mom-ish moo moo type swimsuit, so I didn't match the other swimmers in their sleek racing suits. *sigh* Such is life...

It turns out I was to race the breaststroke leg of the relay, which was a huge relief because it's my breast (I mean, BEST) stroke. HA! HA! (I used to be on swim team in junior high for real, yo.) The rest of the story goes downhill from here. I did my laps and did okay, but we didn't win. I remember being very proud to hear the National Anthem played, though. I think I cried with pride. I mean, I was an OLYMPIAN.

I guess that's probably how it is for real Olympians. I'll just stick to dreaming. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

White Christmas





It looks like we're going to have a White Christmas after all! Max enjoyed his first sled ride yesterday immensely!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Random Tidbits

I'm trying to pass time away as we wait to hear the results of Michael's latest CT scan, so I thought I'd blog out a bunch of random things I've been meaning to write about...

Max is proving to be the little jokester. The other day we were sitting on the floor watching Sesame Street and he was eating a cracker. He got up and walked behind me to play peek-a-boo and then reached out to feed me what I thought was a piece of the cracker. I bit into it and realized it was actually a teeny piece of PAPER. I pulled it out of my mouth and he threw his head back and laughed as if to say "Ha! Sucker!"

Max & I attended a church dinner with Nana last week and I think it's safe to say he was a hit. He charmed everyone and their mothers. Everyone at our table was amazed at his mad utensil using skills and kept commenting on how well adjusted he was and how he doesn't put on a 'show', he's just *that* happy and pleasant. (I was very proud.) After the dinner there was a little concert of Christmas music by an all ladies barbershop group. One of the ladies at our table really wanted to see Max walk, so I put him down as they were assembling to begin. He walked away to the next table (of strangers), stood beween them and greeted them. One of the ladies picked him up... and the concert began. It then became apparent to me that my child was not going to be sitting with me during the show. Hilarious! He stayed with that lady for awhile, then got down and started walking amongst the other surrounding tables. Thankfully, no one was annoyed with a little guy toddling around and kept trying to reach out to get him to stop so THEY could pick him up. I counted and he made contact with no less than a dozen people during the concert! We'll obviously have to teach him about 'strangers' eventually, but it was really heartwarming to see everyone's faces light up when he walked over to them.

Our latest trick is blowing kisses. And yes, he blew kisses as we said goodbye to people at the dinner. :) He also waves to people from the grocery cart. Oy, what have we started?! To quote my husband: "All three of us have nasty head colds. This is retribution for having a flirtatious son...a.k.a...."germ magnet".


This past Friday night I went to the Penn State Santa Crawl with some of Michael's classmates. The Crawl consisted of at least 50 people dressed up in holiday garb- as Santa, elves, or in my case, a reindeer. (I picked the reindeer headband because it made Max laugh when I tried it on in the store.) My favorite Santas of the evening were a Chef Santa (complete with the huge tall hat), a 60-something Boston Marathon Santa (he'd actually run it), and a Run DMC Santa. The girls and I had dinner before the crawl and then joined in at the second bar. There was a huge hollowed-out sleigh and as we walked to each establishment people would 'ride' (walk) in it. The most hilarious part was that they would bike lock it to a pole outside each bar! The whole thing was very festive and jolly and I was surprisingly pleased that it wasn't 'cliquey'- it was just a bunch of strangers & friends dressed in funny outfits celebrating the season. I joked with the girls that I was flattered that they thought I still had what it took to do a bar crawl (they're all anywhere from 4-10 years younger than this old girl) and that I'd probably only make it for one or two stops before heading home. Surprisingly, I made it for 4 or 5 and stayed out till midnight! Whoo-hoo, party animal. ;) It's fun though because not only are they a super fun bunch of girls, but one of them is also a mother of a 2 year old, so we have something in common. We joked that it was 'Momma's Night Out'. All in all, it was a blast and I'm really glad I went. Probably will next year too if they're up for it! (Above photo courtesy of Taran!)

Sunday night Michael and I attended the annual Theatre Department Christmas party at one of his professor's homes. Also a great time- good food, drinks and friends. My favorite part of the evening was when a complete stranger saw us talking and commented that we 'looked like newlyweds'! It'll actually be four years next month!

UPDATE!!! Michael just called from Hershey: the previous lumps that were found at the last scan have NOT grown! His oncologist will continue checking in on him every three months, but he continues to be CANCER FREE!!!

Time for me to go throw up in relief.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chores


Nana had a chore for Max this week. He helped her clean out her tupperware cupboard so she could sort the bowls/lids. In turn, he got to play in a fun little cubby!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good News, and Some Thoughts

First off, we got news today that Aunt Jean's surgery went very well today. If the next 48 hours go well (and theses are the diciest hours of the the procedure) then Jean will be moved to the neuro wing of the hospital, which a a very good thing. Thank you for all your well wishes and prayers. This has been a torturous year for Allan and Jean, and we hope that the news will only get better for them from this point forward.

On another note, I noticed that NY state legislature voted down a bill that would allow gay marriage. As I read several stories on the subject, I found myself reading the "comments" section underneath the articles. I have my own views on the subject, which I'll get to later, but what amazes me is the hostile dialogues people will engage in. No one can hear what the other person is saying. I've never known a problem so dangerous it can't be talked about, but I believe we have lost the ability to have a thoughtful, respectful, and meaningful debate in this country. People (I can be included in this group) are quick to anger, quick to take offense, and as a result, nothing gets done. No points of views are shared. I don't know the solution. I think listening is involved, but I know it's hard for me to listen when the first thing I hear is something I totally disagree with. I shut down. I think "horse feathers" (okay, not really, but this is a "G" rated blog)and think of the first condescending, nasty thing I can say. What is the solution? For my part, I need to listen more. I'm not the "end all, be all" of knowledge. Do I think I'm right? Of course! And maybe that's why I should shut up and listen. At the very least, I'll be able to understand what the other person values, and then maybe I can be respectful of that and have a meaningful dialogue. Will the other person be as respectful? I hope so, but experience (and 100,000 blog posts) say otherwise.

That being said, I was disappointed the measure didn't pass. I'm not sure I fully understand the reason behind the defeat and the rallying cry of opposition which, to my understanding is, marriage is between a man and a woman because that's how God wants it, or because that's the natural way of nature. I respect a person's right to believe in any faith they chose. For my part, as a Unitarian Universalist, I believe in a concept of God that is accepting and loving, even of the things that I don't understand or fear. Homosexuality is not the typical orientation in nature, but it is of nature.. It is found in nature, and not just in our species. But that being said, marriage is at the center of the argument (though I have my suspicions that there is a larger issue at hand). My definition, based on my experience, is that marriage is between three entities. Traditionally, it's been a man, a woman, and the state that demands $50 to provide them the marriage certificate. Did my wife believe that I loved her before we got married or after? I'm going to hazard a guess and say "Before", just 'cause I'm an optimist. I made a commitment to her long before I proposed. The marriage ceremony was for us, too. We didn't invite the state, because we felt the state would have other things to do that day, and frankly, I would have been surprised if it did show up. The only thing that is different between my wife and I and our homosexual friends who are in committed relationships is that Angie and I get certain legal benefits from the state, and our homosexual friends don't. And to me, that's unacceptable. If the church wants to deny marriage to people who are homosexual, that's their prerogative. There are many Christian congregations that will allow marriage ceremonies between same-sex couples. Perhaps if it were called something else for legal purposes, like "Maniage", or "Femiage" when applied to gay and lesbian couples and "Heterioge" when a man and woman get hitched, and "marriage" when the church is involved, the problem might resolve itself?

Probably not. But it's nice to dream. I understand that separating one's faith from one's politics is almost impossible to do. I guess what I'd like to hear is a good legal reason to deny same-sex couples the opportunity to enter in a state recognized marriage. Of course, that statement inherently implies that the reason must be "good" in my eyes as well as the person who provides it. Very unfair of me, I know, but that's the fly in the ointment, as it were.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Prayer Request

Hi everyone,

Thoughts, prayers, positive vibes or whatever you may subscribe to would be appreciated for my Aunt Jean (and Uncle Allan) tomorrow morning. It has been almost a year since she was the victim of a horrible hit-and-run in Brooklyn.

To assure I give the correct information for your prayers, here's a bit of info sent to me by my uncle:

"The surgery date is exactly 50 weeks since her first surgery after the accident. The surgery procedure is called cranioplasty and will take a little over three hours. During the surgery the two surgeons will implant the "flap" that was made by a computer with a digital scan of her head. The flap is designed to exactly fit the opening where she has no skull. (Note: she has been wearing a helmet to protect her brain all year) There are some serious risks with the surgery, but it is not an option to not have the implant. After the surgery, if all goes well, they project that she will have loss of function, both motor skills as well as cognitive skills. Jean will start rehab as soon as possible."

So, as you can see, there's obviously a long road ahead. Jean & Allan are amazing people and every single good thought to help strengthen & sustain them through this journey will be very much appreciated. Thank you!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Toddler Steps


We took a semi-mobile toddler to Nana's house for Thanksgiving and came back with a walker! Max took his first 'real' steps on his own last Tuesday and has been testing the waters since. (He even showed his physical therapist his mad skillz that Friday!) We predicted that he'd be walking steadily by the time we came back home after a week away. Throughout the week he started walking more and more each day (at least attempting to walk more than crawl anyway), and this morning he TOOK OFF. As soon as he woke up he was all about walking from here to there. Mind you, he's not running marathons or anything, but the Boy is mobile! We half-joked this week that we're kind of glad that our current apartment is so tiny vs Nana & Dave's houses. (LOTS to get into! So much room to roam!) The little man proved us right as soon as we walked back in this afternoon. Here, there, everywhere! He's truly the master of the house now. (And we couldn't be prouder.)

We had a relaxing and delicious holiday. Max started eating huge meals starting Thanksgiving lunch and hasn't stopped since. He visited his Uncle Dave in Pittsburgh twice and got to see his 'pet fish'. (Ahem, the fish that may or MAY live in Dave's aquariums.) A big highlight was last night- Max made his Nana's millennium! As Michael was getting ready to take him to bed, Nana said to Max "Night, night!" and Max responded "Naht naht!"

video

Friday, November 20, 2009

National Adoption Month

"November is National Adoption month, a month set aside to raise awareness about the adoption of children and youth from foster care." (Description borrowed from the Child Welfare Information Gateway website)

I am an international adoptee, as are my three siblings. My sister and I were adopted from Korea and my two brothers from India. We were adopted by our incredible parents and had an awesome childhood growing up in the midwest. To our knowledge, we were all 'products' of orphanages overseas, so although we were not in foster care (as is the topic of National Adoption Month), I felt compelled to write today about my experience with adoption in general.

I have never been overly interested in my past until last spring when I asked my parents for my adoption records. There was something about being pregnant with my first child and realizing that I didn't know anything about my genetics or what my early months were like. The information in the file was very interesting. After all these years, it was kind of neat to know little things:

- I was 12 lbs and listed in fair health when abandoned at the orphanage
- When my diaper was wet or I was scolded (even in a joking manner), I 'fretted'
- I was in a crib of sorts with 6 (whoa, six!) other babies
- A note in the summary/recommendations: "Hope she can be taken care of with deep love"

My siblings and I were about as 'American' as they come. I remember being offended growing up when one of my dad's friends referred to us as "The Tribe". Or amused when a lady at church asked my parents "when they were going to tell us that we were adopted". Really?! Like our differing skin color wasn't clue enough? Hilarious.

In any case, my parents were always open about our adoption and facilitated ways for us to learn more about our cultures. I have many happy memories of times visiting the Festival of Nations in St. Paul, MN. FON was held at a huge convention center and featured all kinds of displays, music/dance concerts and food booths from many countries. We were able to try Korean food, as well as Indian. (Although I'd venture to say we all gravitated to the WI cheese curds!) I'd like to return someday, it was a jolly good time.

One summer, my brother and I even attended a Korean Culture Camp at the Minnehaha Academy. (Yes, me and my Indian brother.) One of the things I remember most was: damn, there were a lot of Koreans there! Growing up in our small town, my siblings and I were in the relative minority, so suddenly being surrounded by Koreans! Everywhere! was a new concept. We took classes in language and dance and ate Korean meals. (Much to the chagrin of my husband, to this day I do NOT like kimchi.)

Back to us being 'Americanized', I remember feeling really out of place at the camp. Perhaps this was because many kids attended summer after summer and already knew a bulk of everyone in their age groups. It just felt 'clique-ish' and frankly, I thought "What's the big fat hairy deal?" My point being though was that we were fortunate that our parents gave us the opportunities to learn more about our cultures. The sky was the limit as far as they were concerned.

And as for the hopes of my "being taken care of with deep love", heck yeah. Couldn't ask for better parents! I hope that every child, be it in the foster system or orphanages (here and overseas) can be as fortunate as my siblings and I were- to be adopted into a loving and nurturing family.

Thanks, Mom & Dad.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fight For Preemies Day

Max entered the world when he was 31 weeks and 6 days. In addition to his prematurity, he was born with the eColi gram rod negative virus. He was not expected to survive.

He's a miracle.

November is Prematurity Awareness Month and today, Nov. 17, is Fight For Preemies Day. Please please please visit here to see what you can do to help these little guys and girls. I pray for the day that every premature baby can have Max's miracle ending.


UPDATE: Our boy took his first steps on his own today! He was very proud of himself and his mom, of course, got teary eyed. There's no turning back now!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thankfulness

This morning during Max's nap I copied and pasted all of our Carepages posts and the comments left for us into Word docs. Seeing as his entrance into the world was so early, many of the 'normal' things you'd put into a baby book require rather lengthy explanations, so we're going to assemble a separate NICU Album of the posts Michael and I wrote, as well as pictures we posted on Max's Carepage site during our 30 days there. I took the time to notate certain things that an adult Max might not know and/or might want to know down the road. (i.e. who some of the commenters were and their relation to us, what certain short posts meant, etc.) I hope that one day he'll enjoy/appreciate having a comprehensive 'documentation' of his start in life.

While reading some of the posts again was very difficult, I'm really thankful that we wrote them and thus, 14 months later, are able to print them out for posterity. It also makes looking at our thriving boy in person even more incredible- the little peanut who gave us the scare of our life is now just shy of 20 pounds!

I was also touched once again by the support and love we received in comments from family, friends and even strangers! For those of you who are still reading this blog and commented- THANK YOU! They meant so much to us. Going back to our room at the Ronald McDonald House to write and/or read comments after a long day in the NICU always cheered us up. For so long, it was our contact with the outside world. We are so thankful to have had such amazing support during our journey there.

Even after Max came home with us, we continued posting on Carepages now and then, particularly when Michael was diagnosed with cancer and after my Aunt Jean was a victim of a hit-and-run last December. The support continued and we are forever grateful. Hard to believe it's been a whole year since all of this happened!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two Candles


Today Madeline Alice Spohr would have blown out two candles. My thoughts have been with her Heather and Mike all day. The world wide web will always remember and celebrate your life, Maddie!

Please take a moment to visit Friends of Maddie, a charity created in memory of Maddie to provide support to families of NICU babies. Having spent an extended amount of time in the NICU ourselves, this is a cause I fully support.

On a side note, today has also been a day to celebrate and honor our veterans. I'm a proud sister, daughter and granddaughter! Thank you, Eric, Dad & Buddy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Inspired

I just got home from a date with myself to see the Michael Jackson movie, 'This Is It'. It was, in a word, amazing. Michael & Max are both asleep, but I can't sleep yet- I'm still jittery and 'electrified'.

I grew up listening to MJ music and have many happy memories of it. My Mom would often have church-related meetings on Wednesday nights, so it would be Dad and the four of us kids at home. We had the Thriller LP and Dad would blast it at ridonkulous decibels and we'd dance around. The fun of it was that we were 'being bad' by (literally) shaking the house! (And on a school night?! What?!) I remember TONS of laughter. Our favorites were 'Beat It' and 'Thriller' and to this day, I smile whenever I hear them. Our dance parties would often end with Mom driving into the driveway, the stereo being turned off and us running to our rooms and into bed as if nothing out of the ordinary had been going on. But she knew. Oh yes, she knew. So did the neighbors. *tehee*

I'd planned to see the movie with our friend Amanda, but couldn't get ahold of her, so I went by myself. (Don't worry Amanda, I will TOTALLY go again with you! For real!) It was a late night showing and there were 12 people in the theatre including myself. The thing that amazed me the most was that NO ONE moved at all during the whole movie. I completely rocked out the whole time! I guess it's the musician in me- it was impossible to stay still. I was hooked (line and sinker!) within minutes. This was definitely a movie to be seen in Dolby Surround Sound.

Coming from a theatre background, it was like watching an extreme behind the scenes tech rehearsal and it really made me miss my (currently on hiatus) career, but inspired me to get back to it eventually once Max is older. I'm a huge fan of modern rock musical theatre and watching the movie reminded me of one of the most exciting shows I've ever conducted- The Who's Tommy- at a theatre in Boston. We (the six piece rock band) were placed on platforms about 8 or 9 feet in the air onstage and it was the closest thing to a 'rock star moment' I'll ever have. (see pic- I was on the right hand platform with my drummer & bassist) The show starred Jake Simpson (a two time Star Search winner) as Tommy and whoa, could he wail. (He was also an incredibly sweet and humble human being. Bonus.) It was like playing a rock concert every night for a month. THRILLING.


But I digress. One of the things that impressed me most was that it was very obvious that MJ was actually singing during the rehearsals. He did 'mark' to save his voice now and then, but there was none of the tracked lip synching stuff that goes on with so many pop artists these days. He also marked some of the dances, but it was brilliant even when he was doing so. Seeing him marking next to his posse of back-up dancers (who were going full-out) was incredible- he made it look so easy and flawless, even when it wasn't at performance level.

He was quite obviously a perfectionist and though not bossily, coached everyone from his musicians to dancers. One of my favorite 'scenes' was his coaching of his musical director on the intro of 'The Way You Make Me Feel'. He kept telling him to 'lay back' into the beat. It reminded me of an almost identical coaching I received from my mentor in college almost 10 years ago. "Lay back, Ange! Just LAY BACK. Easy!" (Love you, Hoff!) I also thought it was tres cool that he made it very clear to his MD that he wanted everything to sound exactly like the recordings. It's so easy to stray and be all 'artistic', but on songs as iconic as these, heck yeah! As an audience member, I wanted to hear exactly what I've been hearing in my head all these years. (On a side note: he had a kickass female electric guitarist named Orianthi in his band. ROCK, GIRL POWER!)

So in closing, I thought it was a fantastic documentary and would strongly recommend running (not walking!) to see it before it closes in theatres next week. Seeing the footage of 'Smooth Criminal', 'Beat It' and 'Thriller' was worth the price of admission alone, but you get SO much more. It's such a shame that MJ is no longer with us and was unable to present such an incredible work to the masses, but thank goodness this footage exists. It's really special.

P.S. Happy Halloween! Although we're not trick-or-treating, we're dressing Max up as Coach Tanaka (the football coach) from 'Glee'.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Making Progress



Max is currently in a big imitating stage- both with words (kind of) and actions. As you can see above, one of his favorite activities is playing with pots and pans. We've conveniently baby proofed all of the kitchen cupboards, but every now and then I'll open one and let him loose. The other day I found him pretending to 'stir' the pot. Mere minutes later he was stuck in the oven drawer, but still insistent to continue practicing brushing his teeth! (another new hobby)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Max Attack @ The Gap!

As I told some family & friends in an email earlier this evening, I never thought we'd be 'Those Parents', but yes, we've entered Miracle Max in the Gap Casting Call. *insert amused giggle here* Max & I were at the mall earlier today and I saw the contest website on Gap's window and noted it in my BlackBerry for viewing when we got home.

After checking it out and asking Michael (I wouldn't want us to get into a whole Jon & Kate fiasco- HA! HA!), I thought "What the heck?" and entered him. The kid likes to smile and is pretty photogenic. And without personal bias (okay, who am I kidding- we all know that would *never* be possible!), he's a pretty cute little guy.

Official 'judging' begins Oct. 23. During this time, the Top 20 finalists will be selected and featured in a professional Gap photo shoot. If he was selected to be in this Top 20, voting would continue Dec. 7-21. The top four kids (Baby Boy, Boy, Baby Girl, Girl) will be featured on the windows of BabyGap & Gap Kids in Feb 2010.

And a side note, the winner of this 'Fan Favorite Vote' will win a seven-day/six-night family vacation to either Turks & Caicos or Jamaica from Beaches Resorts - The Luxury Included® Family Vacation. I'll be straight- that would be RIDONKULOUSLY AWESOME. :)

So if you've got a spare minute or two, you can vote for him once daily (starting now!) until Nov. 17. Vote here!

(Max B, Baby Boy Category, ID #648176418)

P.S. Photo credit goes to my Dad, the infamous Stu Fu. Thanks, Dad!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flying Nightmare


Having flown with Max on multiple flights this summer, I was appalled when I learned of an internet friend's recent run-in with TSA agents while going through a checkpoint with her young son. (Nic's son was taken from her for a security check *out of her view*! Read her account here.)

When preparing for our very first flight together, I read everything possible on the TSA website so I made sure I knew what to expect. I particularly recall reading this and feeling relieved that Max would not be taken from me. I also remember feeling almost comforted, as it sounded like the agents were trained to be sensitive to children.

We were stopped before boarding our last (of six) flights. We were 'randomly' pulled out of line and they used the magic wand on both of us. At the time, I didn't think anything of it when they took Max and stood him on a table to scan him. But that's the difference between my experience and Nic's. They took her son not only away from her, but to a completely different location! I would have gone ape-sh*t had they taken Max.

I understand the need for intense airport security, but just thinking about what happened to Nic makes my blood boil! I've run into plenty of less than friendly TSA agents in my time, but it seems to me that she was treated *particularly* unfairly.

Grrr, TSA. Grrr!
--------
UPDATE:
It appears that there may be some discrepancy in Nic's blog/story. The TSA posted a response to her blog last night and included video that may or may not prove that 90% of her story was false. In my own opinion, it's really hard to say. Was the video edited? Perhaps. Does the TSA really have time to do something like that? Probably not. Do I feel duped? Yep. She has since posted a response on her blog, but surprisingly after spending a bulk of the day just plain confused by the whole situation, that was all I needed to move on. It was good to finally hear from HER. I wish you the best, Nic, and give you the benefit of the doubt. I hope that things get straightened out soon so you can move on as well.

ANOTHER UPDATE:
The TSA updated their site last night (10/18) with the video in it's entirety from all 9 camera angles. You really can't argue with it. I'm sad that it's come to this.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dogs, Mr. Roboto & RAJ- oh my!

Attention all theatre lovers, dog lovers, music lovers and RAJ lovers! (That's one of our dearest friends- Robert Anthony Jones- for those of you not in the know!)

Be sure to check out the brand spankin' new 101 Dalmations Musical, now open in Minneapolis at the Orpheum Theatre, then hitting the road on a national tour!

Direction is by theatre great Jerry Zaks, with a brand-new score by Dennis DeYoung (of STYX fame!), and featuring the aforementioned RAJ as Jinx, one of Cruella De Vil's henchmen!

(I'm going to admit something here. It wasn't until *just now* that I realized Cruella's last name spells DEVIL. Hi, I'm a little late to the party!)

Anyhoo, I can't say enough about what an amazing performer and friend Robert is- I've had the pleasure of working with him in 'both' capacities and I'm so so SO proud of him. Doing a brand new never-before-seen piece is always a huge rush and for him to get to do it at this scale thrills me to no end. GO SEE HIM! (We unfortunately have to wait until May! Grrr!)

P.S. There's apparently real dalmations in the grand finale! Dogs?! Doing tricks! Boo-ya! :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lil' Stinker Strikes Again!



So apparently the baby gate wasn't fully locked earlier today. I specifically 'hide' Bernie's food & water dishes behind the gate so Max can't get to them.

He got them.

I found him full on dunking for apples. It was very wet.

The End.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sheet!

We recently realized that Max has a 'sheet preference' and that change in said preference messes with his sleep patterns.

One night last week while I was bathing Max, Michael went to change the sheet in Max's crib. It was white with a speckled dot pattern. As he was changing it, he had an 'Ah-ha!' moment. (This kind of 'Ah-ha!', not this.) He noted aloud that Max had recently started waking up at least once in the middle of the night, which was very unlike him since our hard-earned victory in the Sleep Wars. As a designer, he knows to veer away from using blue, as it lulls people to sleep.

The previous bed sheet had been- you guessed it, BLUE. And Max had been sleeping like a champ... when he was on the BLUE sheet! (Coincidentally, just the previous evening my friend Betty had been talking about how she had the same fiasco with her daughter- changing from a solid pink sheet to pattern.)

So we went back to blue and wouldn't you know it? He's been sleeping like a... well, like a baby ever since! Ta-da!

Thanks for joining us in Adventures in Parenting 101. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

One Year Ago





One year ago today (and one month to the day of his birth) we said goodbye to the amazing staff at the Geisinger NICU and brought Max home! I'll never forget the feeling of taking him out into the sunshine and actually putting him into the car with us. We enjoyed our first day as a family at home with the guys watching a Steelers game... kind of. Max didn't watch the game last night, but he wore his Steelers gear to bed!

Friday, October 2, 2009

More Proud Mom Ramblings



We're starting to work on using utensils at mealtime. It's messy. REAL messy.

One of Max's favorite shows is the Imagination Movers. I must admit that I've become quite a fan as well. They dance and sing catchy songs- think Teletubbies, only not creepy colored aliens. We originally tuned into them awhile ago because I found that they were a good distraction for when I was trying to change the squirmy worm's diaper. I don't know if it's the bold primary colors or music (probably a combination of both), but he's hooked. Without fail, he'll plant himself in front of the TV and watch until the half hour episode is finished! (see above) The same goes for our other favorite show (Handy Manny), which is really the only other show that we watch with regularity now that I think of it.

We like Manny because he's a fix-it guy (like Michael) and he carries around a toolbox of talking tools. Okay, and I'll fess up- I enjoy it because I always crack up whenever they make reference to the tools. (Because I'm obviously a mature... 12 year old.) "Hola, Manny! Hi, Tools!" See? Admit it- even *you* laughed. :)

The Boy has started giving hugs and kisses, or rather licks. When you ask him for a kiss (provided he's in the mood), he'll either peck his head back and forth and/or lick your cheek. I noticed him playfully licking my leg the other day and when I mentioned that I thought it was a little weird to Michael, he reminded me that it's an affectionate gesture on Max's part.

I'm still job hunting, but I'll admit it- I'm absolutely LOVING my time as a stay at home mom to Max! We have a great daily routine carved out and I'm just super happy and content being with him every day.

On a side note, he had his first of two flu shots earlier today. He was a champ and thankfully, has not had any side effects so far. He and Michael had fun 'rough housing' together after dinner tonight. The house was filled with laughs and squeals- I don't think I've ever heard him laugh that hard! I love to watch them roll around and play together. Michael is the BEST dad.

Being home with my guys = priceless.

P.S. A very happy birthday to our dear friend and Max's 'honorary Godfather', Brian! He gave Max the green shirt you see in the pic above- I couldn't get a good shot of it, but it says 'U of I Am Awesome'. Hilarious! Hope you had a fantastic day, B! We love you!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Update on the Maxster


This past Friday Max's physical therapist told me that she's going to start doing the yearly testing at his next appointment, but that chances are, he *won't* qualify for PT anymore! :) A baby must be 25% lagged to qualify and he's *thisclose* to walking already. She said that she has another baby about Max's age (2 mos early) and he's nowhere near Max's development! (Um, yes- we're quite proud. Not that it's a 'Race of the Preemies', but you know what I mean.) She'll still do the testing and if he needs help in other areas, she'll recommend another therapist. It's bittersweet because Kathy has been with us since last November almost weekly. She's a wonderful lady and has (obviously!) really helped Max along. We'll miss her!

Max is taking a great interest in Bernie these days. Bernie is tolerating the extra unwanted attention pretty well so far. It just depends on his mood. Some days he's all over the attention, while on others he's not into the petting. (Max still doesn't have a grasp of his strength, so it's really more hitting than petting.)

We love the kitchen cupboards! There's hardly a moment I'm in the kitchen that he's not standing up next to me or playing with the pots & pans. He also realized how to open the drawer underneath the stove the other day. I found him stuck sitting Indian style in it! (see pic)

Gab gab gab. Rinse and repeat. Tons of jabber! We'll often hear through the monitors that he's awake- just up and talking to himself.

And finally... he found his 'boy parts' during bath time last night. Probably one of the more hilarious things I have ever witnessed! He first found his tummy, then realized "Heyyy! There's something *else* down there too!" He also found that the boy parts are a lot of fun, which made him laugh, which made ME laugh. I couldn't stop and it egged him on even more. Ahhh, and so it begins...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dr. Sister!


Happy Birthday to my beautiful, smart and funny sister, Becky! Hope it was awesome!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's the day of the show, y'all!


Just a quick note to wish our friend Brad a fantastic opening night on 'The Broadway'! He's an amazingly talented dude and is in the brand new show 'Memphis' at the Shubert Theatre on West 44th in New York City. Break a leg Brad, we love you and can't wait to see it!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tailgating #2




Today was a beautiful day! We headed in to tailgate at the Penn State/Temple game earlier than last week. We left the house a little after 7, picked up one of Michael's classmates and were to the site by about 8. Sleeping in was definitely enticing, but we fully admit that it was nice to not have to sit in traffic to get to the stadium! We made it in time for Todd & Liz's yummy breakfast casserole and pulled pork sandwiches and I took pumpkin bread this week.

We were all pretty tuckered out by the time we got home around noon, so we took a nice two hour family nap. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing an impromptu house 'straightening' and then I made some more pumpkin bread- this time with real pumpkin from the Farmer's Market. (Yesterday's was canned pumpkin) It was definitely a longer process (steaming the pumpkin, pureeing, etc), but worth the wait!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bloggin' in the Dark

The power is out tonight. Not sure of the cause yet, but it's apparently city wide and they've even cancelled the local HS football game.

We'd just gotten home from dinner and were giving Max his nightly bath when the power started flashing on and off. And on and off. And then it stayed off and has been ever since. We lit candles & oil lamps and were fortunate to still get him down to bed. Michael checked on Max a bit ago and reported that he'd turned on his music & light toy in his crib. Good thinking, little man!

Now we're sitting here playing on our phones. What did we do before technology?! I joked that it feels like we should be playing Boggle or Scrabble by candlelight. I also wished (aloud) that we had a good bottle of wine. Unfortunately we've just got hard stuff: scotch & gin. Guess we could get hammered in the dark...

Instead, I'm blogging about this... but the night is still young!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Website

We've gotten our website back up with a new host. It's easier to maintain, so hopefully we'll be doing that on a regular basis. Also, we'll be posting massive amounts of pictures on the photo page links. Click on the picture to see the galleries.

www.keysandhammers.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pictures, finally!

So I recently purchased Adobe Lightroom on the recommendation of a friend, and I must say, it's wonderful. I've been easily able to publish some of my photos of my London trip quickly and easily to our website. Currently, I have the "Best of Ireland" pictures up. Take a look!

www.keysandhammers.com/irelandphotos/

And if you shoot in RAW format, seriously look at Lightbox if you haven't already...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tailgating!

This morning we tailgated with our friends Todd & Liz at the Penn State vs. Syracuse game. I've never been to a Big 10 game and was a little blown away by the magnitude of everything. Full-size motor homes, tents, grills, tables/lawn chairs- the whole shebang! It kind of reminded me of the MN State Fair. Traffic was crazy, though probably not as crazy as it might be on a nicer game day. (It was drizzly this morning, though it stopped in time for the game.) We missed Todd's breakfast, but made it in time for his delicious steak sandwiches. I took cinnamon applesauce bread and butterscotch brownies as well. And of course, the Yuengling!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The CAT says...

I had a routine follow-up CAT scan today. I didn't really get the news I wanted. Well, it's not fantastic news, but its not terrible either. There are small nodules in my abdomen and in my lungs. This is the path that testicular cancer would take if it spread. However, they are around 6mm, meaning they are too small to worry about right now. The nodules in my abdomen were on my last scan, but they didn't mention anything to me at Geisinger because they were too small. According to my Penn State doctor, he saw them on my last Geisinger scan, and they haven't grown, which is good news. The lung nodules could have always been there, and this machine today was the first to pick them up, either because it was newer or because of a different technique. Anyway, there's nothing saying that it's cancer, but they are keeping a serious eye on it. They'll know more when they get the blood test results. If those are funny, they'll call me back in pronto. If I don't hear anything...well, then I get to worry until Dec 15th, when my next CAT scan is.

So, now we get to worry until December. Unless we hear back about the blood, then we'll worry a little sooner.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sleeping: Then & Now



A year ago tonight Michael started our CarePages site for Max. We were so grateful for all the support we received and it was a great way for both of us to keep everyone up to date on what was going on in the NICU. Painful as it is at times, I've found myself re-reading the entries and I'm so thankful we have them. They're definitely going in Max's scrapbook!

Duet


Got this from my dear friend Fran today. An awesome impromptu piano duet by a couple at the Mayo Clinic. They've been married 62 years and he'll be 90 this year!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Max's 1st Birthday Cake: The Process

The original design
The cake
Naturally, our Pittsburgh Penguin had Asian eyes!
Time to blow out the candles!
Penguin Autopsy (courtesy of Jill H.)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Letter to our Son


Dear Maxwell,

Today you are one year old. It's so amazing to think that a whole year has passed since we first 'met' you. It has been a year filled with both joys & hardships, but we've made it to this point stronger, wiser and even more grateful for life.

Your entrance into the world was a scary one. There were over a dozen doctors in the room with us, all there to help as soon as you were born. Did you know that they tried to give me an epidural FIVE times, but none of them took? You *knew* that something was wrong in that womb of yours and you were ready to come out, so I said "Screw it! Get him out NOW!" Did you also know that Mommy & Daddy were supposed to start birthing classes just three days after you were born? Funny, huh? I didn't have the slightest idea how to push correctly, so it took quite awhile.

But after over 32+ hours of labor, at 11:07am our life forever changed. You were born and we became a family of three! You were very sick, my love, so they immediately took you to a bed next to us to help you breathe. It all happened so quickly, but we got a glimpse of you and I remember saying to your Daddy "We have a Max!" and feeling a gush of love I didn't know possible.

We spent the next 30 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with you. You gave us quite a scare on your first night of life, but we'll talk about that another time when you're older. Just know this: you're a miracle baby! That's why everyone calls you 'Miracle Max'. We don't want you to get a big head, but you're truly amazing. ;) You defied all odds, especially that first night, and we take *nothing* for granted anymore.

You melt our hearts on a daily basis and we fall in love with you over and over and over. Waking up to your smiles and chatter and watching you fall asleep in our arms at night makes life worth living. Your spunk, curiosity, energy and flirtatiousness continue to amuse and amaze us.

Momma was adopted by Grandma & Grandpa Fu when she was a baby. You are my first known blood relative. You even look like me! It's you and me, kiddo. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I could go on for hours, so I'll bring this to a close. Little Boy, you have brought a richness to your Daddy's and my life that I never knew possible. Your unconditional love is the most amazing gift we could ever receive and I hope that you know just how much we adore you. We love you with all our hearts.

Happy 1st Birthday, Bubba.

Love,
Mommy & Daddy

Friday, September 4, 2009

Max Eve



A year ago as I start this post we'd been at Geisinger for a day. I'd received another shot to strengthen Max's lungs and we'd done a lot of sitting. The one 'nice' part of being at Geisinger was the amazing facilities. My room was downright posh! It was like a fancy stay at a hotel. More importantly, we had an amazing nurse, Kristy, taking care of us. (Kristy, if you're reading this- we love you and are so thankful for everything you did for us!)

After a long uncomfortable night in the chair, Michael checked into a hotel room up the road to send some email updates to friends & family, as well as try to get one last night of sleep. The plan was that after my final shot, they'd let the labor progress and if Max chose to be born, we'd go with it. My contractions were getting relatively strong by about midnight and I was just plain scared/uncomfortable being by myself. I sucked it up for awhile, but eventually it got unbearable and I called my poor husband and asked him to come back and sit with me. The man was there within a half hour. (What a saint!) He spent the rest of the night watching the monitor and helping me in and out of the contractions. (He would have little to no sleep by the time Max was born the next morning.)

Tonight I worked on The Cake. I'd been throwing around the idea of either a penguin or elephant (Max's current favorite stuffed animal/comfort toy given to him by his Fairy Quadmother Calley!) and ultimately decided on a Pittsburgh Penguin. Keepin' it real, yo. I baked two round cakes tonight (yellow) and will decorate it when we get to Dave's tomorrow. The perfectionist in me is constantly reminding myself that it doesn't matter if it's not 'exact' or if something goes wrong, but rather that Max's Mommy is making a cake for his very first birthday!

My Dad decorated a cake for Max's Minnesota birthday party last week. (see above) The little man wasn't really into smashing his face into it and as you can see, he wasn't a fan of getting his hands sticky! It was hilarious. We'll see how he does tomorrow! (He did LOVE it when we sang Happy Birthday to him though!)

Tomorrow is the big day. I can hardly believe it's been a whole year. Max's Uncle Dave is hosting a party at his house tomorrow afternoon and I think it will be quite emotional. (I've already teared up several times today while just watching the boy sit and play!) It will be really special because all the people who were there right after he was born will be in attendance- Dave, Nana, Michael's best friend Jill and our dear friend Shawn.

To be continued tomorrow... Miracle Max will officially turn one at 11:07am EST!