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


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.

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!

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

Saturday, September 12, 2009


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!


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.

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!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Countown to One

One year ago tonight (almost to the hour as I start this post) my water broke. Michael had moved to Penn State one month prior to start grad school and I stayed with my kickass brother-in-law and his roomie while I finished up in the office in Pittsburgh. I'd been here all of three days when the water broke. At first I wasn't sure what was going on (I'll spare you all the details), so I called the on-call doctor. He said to keep an eye on things, but wasn't overly concerned. Awhile later (and again, no details), I went to Michael and said "I don't want to freak you out or anything, but I think something weird is going on" and called the doctor again. This time he told me that he couldn't promise I was okay without an exam and to go to the ER immediately.

As we got in the car and headed into town, little did we know how much our lives were about to change...

"Well, this is kind of cool. We're getting a dress rehearsal for the real thing!" said the theatre geek (ahem, me) to Michael was we walked into the ER.

We checked in and sat down in the waiting area. I think this is when I started to freak out and I remember shaking uncontrollably- the kind of shakes you get when you're really cold. We didn't have to wait too long to be seen and we had an amazing nurse taking my blood pressure, asking questions, etc. To this day I wish we knew her name because she was so calm and comforting. I also seem to remember the three of us cracking jokes, laughing and having fun even under the circumstances.

The doctor came in, did an exam and then said words I'll never forget: "Yes, your water has indeed broken".

WHAT?! I'm not due for two months!

And then the realization of "You can't UNBREAK water... this is it."

It's all kind of a blur after that. The hospital (the one where we'd planned to have Max) was not a facility that would be able to handle such a premature birth and it was suggested immediately that we be transferred to either Geisinger or Hershey Medical Center (aka where Jon & Kate's gazillion kids were born). Both were highly recommended, so we chose Geisinger because it was closer (one hour).

They immediately gave me a shot to strengthen Max's premature lungs as much as possible and informed us that chances are, I'd be kept at Geisinger until Max was born and the goal was to keep him in there as long as possible. They then sent Michael home to walk the dog, pack a bag and call our families and transported me by ambulance. The same wonderful nurse rode right next to me, which was again, very comforting. I remember her wishing me luck and telling me to be sure to bring our baby in to visit her when were back in town. (Again, darn that I don't know her name because I totally would.)

I was wheeled in and moved to a room with another woman. At one point, her mother came over and introduced herself and said that her daughter was pregnant with triplets and only 27 weeks. They hooked me up to all the IV's and machines, which was quite painful because the nurse couldn't find a 'good' vein and poked me multiple times without luck.

Michael arrived shortly thereafter and I've never been so happy to see him in my life. I remember being petrified and uncomfortable (they hadn't been able to put in a catheter yet and I despise bedpans), but everything was okay as soon as he walked in the room. The trooper stayed with me and spent the rest of the night sleeping in a very uncomfortable chair.

Little did we know as we attempted to sleep that we'd have a child just a day and a half later, not to mention the journey the coming month(s) would prove to be.

To be continued tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mall Stroller Fun

In addition to being a teacher, theatre director & EMT, Max's late Grandpa B was a volunteer fire fighter. Max would do him proud, don't you think?