Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Card Holder

I got my first Christmas cards in the mail the other day. It was so much fun to get mail and see how loved ones are doing. Then I realized that I didn't have anything to display the cards on. How would I be able to enjoy them all season long if they sat in their envelopes amongst a pile of bills? No no, this would not do at all. I decided to come up with some way to display them using things I already had at home.

Presenting my Christmas card line!
It was super simple and cheap to make. As a result, it's not the best looking thing but it's functional.
I took a piece of green ribbon (probably 2.5 or 3 feet long) and fastened it to the wall using two clear push pins. I positioned the pins so that the ribbon would sag a little, creating an arc.

Then I tied an extra bit of red ribbon into a bow on the middle of the line to give it a little extra holiday flair.
Using paper clips, clothespins and any similar devices, I attached the cards to the ribbon. I happened to have these adorable mini clothespins left over from another project, but they are not necessary for having a card line.

And there you have it! A beautiful, easy way to display Christmas cards.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Great Sunday!

We had a wonderful Sunday yesterday! I wouldn't have predicted it being so great, but it really was.
It was our ward's Christmas program in church. Mckay and I are part of the choir in our ward, so naturally we participated in a large chunk of the program. We had 3 choir songs and I played the piano for all 3 of them. One of the songs had a very important and difficult tenor part, and Mckay being one of only 3 tenors in the choir, was nervous about getting it right. In another song, Mckay sang a solo for the first verse. A week ago we were asked to give talks as part of the program. I could have just said no because we were already participating in the musical part of the program, but I said yes. On top of that, I was asked 2 days before Sunday to play in a violin piano duet for the program. Granted, it was a song that I had already practiced and knew well, but it was one more thing to do for Sunday. AND on top of the the program, we still had our regular Nursery duties for church. I had to plan my Music time, and Mckay had to plan his lesson.

In case you couldn't have guessed it, Saturday was a stressful day in our home.

Of course, we had procrastinated writing our talks until that day. Mckay had 2 finals on Monday (today) that he should have been studying for, but had to write his talk. We were up until the wee hours of Sunday morning writing and perfecting our talks. Just to add to all the chaos, Mckay and I were both starting to feel sick. Ordinarily, we might have considered staying home from church, but you just can't skip out when half of the 3 hour meeting block is resting on your shoulders. Since we had to be at church at 8am for an extra choir practice before church started at 9, we didn't get much sleep.

I'm sure you're thinking, "Wait a second, Sheri said they had a great Sunday and this sounds like a terrible one." Don't worry. It got much better.

We had a wonderful Christmas Program. The music sounded beautiful. Mckay did a wonderful job on his solo. I made a few mistakes on the piano here and there as I played, but no one noticed. The violinist that I played with is amazing and I would perform with her any day just so I could hear her play. I feel very privileged that she asked me to play for her.

Our talks were wonderful, especially considering the amount of time we put into them. My talk was about the wise men and how they searched for Christ. I talked about how we need to come unto Christ and shared some ways that we can do that during this Christmas season. I used a lot of Elder Uchtdorf's talk from The Christmas Devotional last week. Mckay's talk was about how Christ has shown us the way to be with him again. We learn about His birth at Christmas time, but more important is that we learn about His life and atonement. He used the following line from the song "Once in Royal David's City" (the song that Mckay's solo was in): "And our eyes at last shall see him, through his own redeeming love. ...And he leads his children on, to the place where he is gone."
I've always thought that giving a talk in sacrament meeting is almost more uplifting for the person giving it than those listening. I learned a lot while researching for this talk and it made me appreciate the wise men's role in the Christmas story so much more. It helped me to see them more as spiritual leaders for their people who sought for Jesus out of faith, rather than astrologers who sought for the star out of curiosity.

Nursery was..... Nursery. It can be very draining on your energy and patience, but it's hard not to love those little kids. Especially when you're teaching them how to sing Away in a Manger and they rock on the 'asleep' chorus. They can roll around like crazy and cry for hours, but then they can be quiet and reverent as they pretend to be wise men, follow the star through the building, and present the baby (doll) in the manger (wicker basket) with gifts of gold (plastic fake coins).

The rest of our Sunday was spent relaxing. We had a Choir Christmas Get-together where we ate treats, played a game and talked with friends. At home, we listened to Christmas carols and had Gyoza for dinner. Perhaps the best part of the day was putting Dallin in bed, having spiced apple cider and pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and snuggling on the couch. We reflected on how much we actually enjoyed giving our talks. It's been really easy to get caught up with finals, travel plans, Christmas decorations and presents. It was nice to a have a day to recognize the importance of this season. Our talks helped us remember why we celebrate and it got us into the true Christmas spirit.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Parties

We've been to a few Christmas parties in the last week. It's really getting us into the Christmas spirit and I'm getting so excited for Christmas.

Our ward had a "Night in Bethlehem" Christmas party at the church. Every one dressed up in biblical time attire.
Here is our little street rat.
(Recognize the vest and hat from the Abu/Aladdin costumes from Halloween last year? Who knew I'd be able to use them for something else!?)

The whole family sitting together.
All the families brought blankets to sit on in the cultural hall. We were given bags of coins (i.e. pennies) to buy our dinner from the various shops and stall around the room.
There was a fruit and vegetable stand, a soup stand, a snack stand, a dessert stand, and my favorite, "The Bishop's Winery" where we got our drinks.

We sat on our blankets, ate our food, and enjoyed the company of others.
Then there was a Christmas program and the nativity story was told.
The songs we sang along the way were accompanied by guitar. Yes, there were electric guitars at the time of Christ's birth.

It was a really fun ward party. I liked that it was a little different and it was fun for us to dress up.

Our apartment complex had a Christmas party last night. It wasn't anything really big or spectacular, but there was a free ham dinner and LOTS of desserts so we went.
They had Santa Claus there for the kids to get a picture with.
Dallin really liked Santa. (Go figure, when has Dallin NOT liked a stranger?)
It's hard to tell his emotion in this picture, but he was just staring at Santa the whole time with this happy grin. We couldn't get him to look away to smile at the camera.

I think all this partying has worn Dallin out though.
He fell asleep while I was doing the dishes.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's a Christmas Miracle!

Dallin had a check up with a cardiologist last week. This was his first time seeing a cardiologist here in Indiana. He got an EKG like he has gotten for every visit and everything looked normal (like it does every time). We met with the doctor, talked for a bit and she was pleased to hear how well Dallin has been doing. (Her file on Dallin included all of his recent hypercalcemia adventures in the hospital.) She asked when the last time was that he had gotten an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound). I realized that he hadn't had one performed since he was 2 months old and still on oxygen. Since it had been almost 18 months since his last echo, she decided it would be good to do one that day while we were there to see how things were going in there.

He did so much better this time with the echo than he did when he was a screaming newborn. He really just wanted to play with the ultrasound wand and the goo on his chest. After the technician finished, she called the doctor in to look at the images. The doctor saw them and wanted to look at Dallin herself with the machine. That worried me a little, thinking that she saw something that might look serious and wanted to find it for herself. She spent a few minutes studying Dallin's heart and then told us what she saw.

She said that his narrow pulmonary valve (the whole reason why he has to see a cardiologist) is barely even there anymore. He still has a slight heart murmur, and the narrowing is still there, but it's very slight. She said she would categorize it as VERY mild pulmonary stenosis. We were so happy to hear that great news. His check ups with the cardiologist have been every 6 months, but she said that we didn't need to come back for another 9 months, and if things were still looking good then (as she expects them to be), we might lengthen the time between visits to a year. I'm so happy about this! It's great to hear that something is going well. Most people with Williams Sydrome will have either aortic stenosis or pulmonic stenosis. With aortic stenosis, it usually gets worse over time as the child grows up. We feel very lucky that Dallin only has the pulmonic stenosis, because that mostly gets better with time and is usually cleared up on its own in infancy.

Dallin has also been doing very well with his calcium levels. He gets his blood drawn every few weeks (it sucks, I know) to monitor the calcium. His most recent number from last week was 9.9 for his total calcium. The normal range is 7-10.5. He's finally in the normal range for something! The kidney specialist said that now that his calcium is at a good level, we can start cutting back on his medication doses and see how his levels continue to do with less medication. You have no idea how happy that makes me, even though it has only cut out 2 medication doses. I'll take what I can get.

In short, Dallin's heart is great, his calcium is low, and he's gaining weight.

It's a Christmas Miracle!
(No, Dallin did not get really huge, it's just a miniature tree.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Feast

We had such a delicious feast. The brined turkey was amazing! It was so juicy and flavorful. I did a lot of research on the turkey cooking process and I think it paid off very well. That Alton Brown is a genius! Seriously, the white meat was even juicier than the dark meat. We had our feast with 4 of Mckay's engineering classmates, at the house that a few of them live in. I made most of the food and there were a few other contributions, like spanish rice, Pillsbury biscuits from a can, and jello that never set up properly. Our lovely food selection is pictured below.
I made carrots, Julie's AMAZING sweet potatoes, asparagus, turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce.
The food was quite a hit with the boys. I'm guessing it's probably been a while since they've had a really good home cooked meal. One of the guys said he didn't like sweet potatoes, but Mckay made him try the ones I made. He liked them and even went back for seconds. It's amazing what soaking something is sugar and butter for 3 days will do. Thanks for the recipe, Julie! (Or I guess thanks to Christian's grandma.) Even though we somehow missed a few essentials like stuffing and mashed potatoes, we managed to stuff ourselves quite well.

Of course, I had to make some pie. It felt weird only having 2 pies for Thanksgiving, but I wasn't about to make more than 2 for just 6 people. We went with some classics: pumpkin and pecan.
We stuffed ourselves full of food, watched some football and played cards games. Dallin enjoyed crawling around and getting into stuff. Single guys don't really have baby proof places, but Dallin kept himself entertained with a 30lb weight, empty soda bottles, pizza coupons and a screw he found. We all had a really great time.

Today I had a great Black Friday experience, with no waking up early and waiting in line out in the cold. We've been needing a vacuum cleaner for a while, so I've been searching online for good black friday deals on vacuums.
It's like the stars aligned and the vacuum gods paved the way for me to get this great deal. I left home at 9am for Target. The parking lot was packed but I found a close parking spot as soon as I pulled in. I walked right into the store and got the last Dyson DC17 on the shelf. There was no tag on the shelf anywhere, no DC17 model on display, but I knew what the sale ad had printed. I went to checkout, waited no more than 30 seconds in line and got my vacuum at the sale price. Normally $449, I got my dyson for only $269. That's $180 off! And Target was offering a $10 gift card for purchases over $100 before 10am. So I saved essentially $190 on my vacuum. Pretty awesome. It's a lot to spend on a vacuum but I'm hoping it will live up to the Dyson hype and keep us happy for years and years.

Dallin was pretty excited about it...
...until he realized it was a vacuum. His strong sensitivity to loud sounds (related to Williams Syndrome) makes him hate it when I vacuum. He starts to cry when he sees a vacuum. He had fun playing with the box and packaging while I set the vacuum up. But when I had it assembled and rolled it around on the floor (before I had even turned it on), he realized what it was and got really scared and started to cry. It got worse when I turned it on. (If people try to tell you that a dyson is a quiet vacuum, they're wrong. It's still a loud machine that Dallin is scared of.) But beside all that, I'm pretty happy with it so far. It picked up A LOT of dust from our carpet and our apartment looks semi-decent now.
Yay for good Black Friday Deals!
And Yay for yummy food!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brined Turkey

For Thanksgiving this year, we are staying here in Indiana. Unfortunately, this means we won't get to be with any of our family, but it also means that I will be making my very first turkey! I'm really excited to make a turkey and all the fixings that go with it. I wanted to try soaking the turkey in a brine. I've heard it makes for a juicier meat. We'll see. Today my turkey is soaking in brine. I used this recipe. On Thursday I'll use this recipe to make a delicious Roast Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy.

If it ends up tasting as good as this looks
I think I'll be pretty happy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bubble Bath

Dallin loves taking baths. He likes to wade around in the water and play with his toys.
The other day he started blowing bubbles in the water with his mouth. I love that he figured out how to do that. It's pretty cute.
video


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Holiday Treats

I love this time of year for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is an excuse to make lots of treats. Cookies, pies, bars, fudge, muddy buddies, cheesecake, desserts, and anything with pumpkin in it! This week our Relief Society had a holiday treat exchange. A great excuse to make some sweets! There were 2 recipes I wanted to make. I should have just chosen one, but instead I made both. Things got a little more hectic and stressful at home while baking than they should have for a simple R.S. activity, but now I get to enjoy the leftovers of 2 treats. I'll share both of the recipes with you. They're pretty easy and so very yummy.

Pumpkin Crumble
This recipe reminds me of my days at BYU working in catering. During Christmastime, we catered a lot of events and Christmas parties, and one of the common dessert choices we offered was Pumpkin Crumble. Catering could be a crazy, hectic job sometimes with long hours on your feet. I always looked forward to breaktime, sitting back and eating a plate of turkey, stuffing and gravy, and finishing it off with a heaping spoonful of Pumpkin Crumble. It was a peaceful heaven for 5 minutes. And then off to the dishroom.... I got this recipe last year at a R.S. holiday treat exchange. I don't think it's the same recipe the BYU kitchens use, but it still tastes pretty darn good.

Layer 1: Put 1 pkg white cake mix (set aside 1 cup) in a bowl. Add ½ cup melted butter and 1 egg. Mix well and press into a 9x13 pan. Do not bake.

layer 2: Mix 1 large can of pumpkin, 2 eggs, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup milk, 1 cup white sugar and 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice. Pour over cake batter.

Layer 3: Take reserved cup of dry cake mix and mix in ¼ cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and ¼ cup butter (cold). Cut into crumb mixture and sprinkle over pie filling.

Bake at 325° for 45 minutes. Let Cool slightly before serving.

Topping: Whip together 2 cups whipping cream and 1 small pkg instant vanilla pudding.


Mini Pecan Tarts
My mom would make these sometimes around Christmas, so I always think of these when I need to make a holiday treat. This is not her recipe (because I don't have it), but this one was taken from Laurel's Pink Family Cookbook (pg 26, for those who have the cookbook or even know what I'm talking about), with a few changes based on online recipes. To make these, you need a mini muffin pan. They're easy to find and I just got mine on sale at Target. A wonderful tool that helps form the dough cups in the pan is the mini tart shaper from Pampered Chef. My mom has this and it makes the tart forming part go much faster. It's not necessary to have though. I found that my fat toe thumbs did the job just fine.

3 oz cream cheese
1/2 c. butter
1 c. flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 c chopped pecans
1 t vanilla

Cream 1/2 c. butter and cream cheese well. Add flour. Shape into 24 balls. Press into mini muffin tins to make cups (this is where some fat thumbs come in handy). Mix the rest of the ingredients well for the filling. Fill dough cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow to cool a few minutes before removing from pan.

Eat and enjoy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Progress

After last month's excitement with Dallin in the hospital, things are back to normal and going very well. Dallin saw the kidney specialist again this week. His calcium is much better. It was 11.5, and while that is still a little higher than the normal range, it's much lower and a much safer number for him to be at. His potassium is in a good range now as well. He's getting used to all the medical tests he's subjected to on a regular basis. He hardly cried when they drew his blood. We've been taking his blood pressure at home a few times a week. He used to scream and fight when his blood pressure was taken a the doctor's but now he's used to it and doesn't care at all. As a result, his blood pressure has also been lower.

He's completely on the formula now, except for one nursing session in the middle of the night because I'm too lazy tired to get up and make him a bottle. He's taking the formula very well and doesn't seem to notice a difference. It also seems like he's gaining weight! (knock on wood) His weight has fluctuated between 14.5 and 15 lbs. for the past 10 months so I'm trying not to get too excited, but he weighed 15 lbs. 2 oz. at his appt. this week. That's almost 6 oz. more than when he left the hospital. He looks like he's getting chubbier. His face is fuller and his belly is more round. The trouble is getting him to KEEP gaining weight, but I'm pretty optimistic that he'll be getting bigger.

We are finally getting him started with a physical therapist here. It's been a pain to jump through the insurance and medical referral hoops to get therapy started for him, but we're finally making progress. I'll be meeting with our coordinator on Monday to plan out his goals for the next 6 months and choose his therapists.

He's still cautious around food, but making some attempts. The other day he tried and loved this chicken tortilla soup. He actually opened his mouth again for several bites! And it was a little on the spicy side for me. He is his father's son. Another thing he enjoys is cheese puffs.
He likes to lick the cheese off them.
And it makes him happy to be a big boy and feed himself.

We're still very far away from getting him completely onto solid food, but he's making little baby steps of progress.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I did it

I did it!
I finally succeeded.

I watched The Illusionist without falling asleep.

It probably helped that we started it at 7pm instead of 9 or 10 like we had done before. Through my sleepy viewings of the movie, I'd seen parts here and there (like the ending) that I didn't understand. Now having seen the whole thing, it all makes sense! It's almost like the movie was intended to be watched this way!
And it's actually a pretty good movie. I still prefer The Prestige, but I would definitely enjoy watching The Illusionist again.

Now I have to watch other movies that I've never been able to finish.
Next on the list: Casino Royale.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Embraceable - A Film about Williams Syndrome

I found out through some friends on facebook about a documentary film being made about Williams Syndrome. I have no idea when it's coming out or if it will be in theaters. I'm just excited that it's being made and I hope I get to see it when it comes out.


Embraceable - Trailer from Kent Creative on Vimeo.


This makes me want to start teaching Dallin how to play the piano. I think we have a few things to work on first though, like not eating the music or the piano keys. And being able to sit up at the piano without falling over.

Tasty Music

I keep a box of piano music underneath the piano. Dallin likes to crawl over to the piano and stand up by the box.
I always think he's so cute when he does that.

Now I've found out what he's really been doing.
He took a bite out of my music book!

Do you think I can say "paper" when the doctors ask what he's been eating?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trunk or Treat

The three Lafayette wards had a Trunk-or-Treat for Halloween at the church. Dallin, of course, still fit into his monkey costume from last year. We came up with a different theme to go with his costume this time.

He was a monkey and we were zookeepers.
Apparently metal buckets and zookeeper hats are hard to find. (Thank you Hobby Lobby!)

The inside of our trunk has stuff in it, so we passed out candy next to the trunk.
There were a lot of kids and lots of creative costumes. Dallin doesn't understand trick or treating yet, but he did like taking candy from people and chewing on the wrappers.
All three of us.

When we got home we looked through the candy and let Dallin play with.
He was pretty excited about that.

He managed to unwrap a chocolate and melt it all over his hands.
And wouldn't you know it, with all the chocolately mess he made, he didn't eat any of it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Oh my Gyoza!

My mom and dad are both excellent cooks. That must be where I've gotten all my awesome cooking talent. One of the more amazing dishes they have made is Gyoza. Gyoza are Japanese Potstickers and they are wonderfully delicious. I had a really strong craving for them recently so I called my parents to beg for the recipe. My parents just moved from St. Louis to California and are in between houses, so most of their stuff is still in St. Louis. Apparently the beloved family cookbook with the Gyoza recipe did not make the cut of necessary items to bring with them. My dad did, however, give me some general tips on making them. He also sent me a link of one of the recipes he used and tweaked to get their recipe.
So, here is my first try at making Gyoza.
Soooooo Yummy!
I think it turned out very well. It's actually easier than I thought it was to make. The filling mixes up really quickly and frying them only takes a few minutes. The most time consuming part is putting the filling in the wrapper and sealing it, but it's not hard. You can fold the edges to make it look pretty, or just leave it as a semi-circle. It will taste the same either way.

I'll share the recipe with you. Now remember, this is not "THE" gyoza recipe, but a close, very tasty approximation. So, until the real recipe is retrieved and posted on my dad's blog, here is the reigning Gyoza recipe.

Ingredients:
1/3 cup chopped cabbage, boiled (about 1 cup raw)
2 Tbsp chopped green onion
1/2 pound ground pork, raw
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
20-26 gyoza wrappers (depending on how much filling you have)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Dipping sauce: equal amounts of soy sauce and rice vinegar, with chili oil to taste

Combine all ingredients other than wrappers and vegetable oil in a bowl. Mix well with hands. Place a teaspoonful of filling in a gyoza wrapper and put water along the edge of the wrapper using a finger. (It helps to keep a small bowl or dish of water close by while assembling.) Make a semi circle, gathering the front side of the wrapper and sealing the top. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Put gyoza in the pan and fry on high heat for a few minutes until the bottoms become brown. Turn the gyoza and brown on the other side. (Some recipes say to just fry on one side. This is up to you. I like the crispiness of frying both sides.) Turn the heat down to low. Add 1/4 cup water in the pan. Be careful when adding the water as it will make the oil splatter. Cover the pan and steam the gyoza on low heat until the water is gone. Serve the gyoza with dipping sauce.

This recipe link has some great pictures to show the method of making the gyoza if you're interested, but the recipe itself doesn't sound quite right.
And here's the link to the recipe I used if you want to look at that in addition to my well written directions.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that you can make extra gyoza and freeze before cooking. Once you're already in the groove of forming the dumplings it's pretty easy to make extra to freeze for another meal.

And finally, here are pictures of the gyoza my dad made. His look crispier than mine. Notice how I served my gyoza with rice and green beans too. It sounded like a winning combination. Really, all the recipes and information on this blog are from my dad. I'm passing it off like it's mine, but my dad is the one who researched links, emailed them to me, and gave me all the tips on how to make them that I've now passed to you. So thank you, Dad. Thanks for all your help. The gyoza were delicious!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mystery Package

We got a package in the mail yesterday.
(I realized after I took the picture that I probably didn't want my address showing. Oops!)

It's always fun to get a package, and this one was even more fun because we don't know who it's from. There was no return address.
It was full of Halloween candy and goodies, like a Halloween pencil and those awesome Halloween rings with skulls, bats and spiders on them.

This awesome guy was in the package too. He's already hanging on our door.

Even the outside of the package was fun. It was decorated with lots of festive stickers and a fun Pacman-like maze that I am still trying to beat.
We've been trying to figure out who sent it. The postmark is from Salt Lake City, Utah. We're thinking that maybe it's from some Easton relatives there.

Whoever it's from, Thanks for the package! We loved it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Falling off the Couch

Dallin as been learning how to get down off the couch by himself. He has gotten down a few times all by himself by putting his feet over the edge and slowly lowering/falling down to the ground and landing on his feet.

Now he's discovered a new way to get down from the couch. Head first. It really scared me the first time he tried it and I caught him and helped him down slowly. But now he thinks it's fun and he keeps doing it. I've stopped trying to catch him on the way down, because I figured the only way he's going to learn not to do it is to get hurt, and then he won't want to do it again. But it doesn't hurt him! He just thinks it's funny.
video
I guess it's not so bad if he's not getting hurt, but I'm worried that one of these times he'll fall onto something hard/sharp and hurt himself, or fall on his head wrong and injure his head or neck. He even tried once to go over the arm of the couch (ie higher off the ground) head first. I let it happen. No crying. A little shock at first, but then he smiled and proceeded to play with whatever he was after.

I don't know what to do with this daredevil.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What a week!

Last week was not spent quite how I planned to. On Tuesday, Dallin had an appointment with the Nephrologist (kidney specialist) at the children's hospital in Indianapolis. That's a little over an hour from us, so it's not too far, but you have to plan for it. We saw the doctor, and he got his blood drawn, an ultrasound of his kidneys, and gave a urine sample. (Is it weird that I would rather he get blood drawn than a urine sample? At least with the blood I just hold him while someone else pokes him, but I do not like being the one who has to peel a very strongly adhered bag from his body.)

This was the first time meeting with this doctor and Dallin's first time seeing a Nephrologist since the one in Utah 2 months ago. It went pretty well. She was mainly concerned with his blood pressure being high and about his diet (just like everyone else.) I mentioned the low calcium formula that was being mailed to us and the plan to start him on that as soon as it got to us and she agreed that it would be good to start him on that. The doctor told me she would call in a few days to go over the lab results with me, and then we left.

It was about 5:30 pm and I had just gotten home from Indianapolis and picking Mckay up from school when I got a phone call from the Nephrologist. She said that Dallin's lab results had come back and that the calcium levels in his blood were extremely high. To give you an idea of how high, a normal calcium level would be from about 7 - 10.5. His calcium level was 15.2. She said that we needed to come back immediately to the emergency room. We talked to her for a few minutes and asked if it was really that necessary to take him to an ER an hour away. She felt it was. We called a few other people, including our nephrologist in Utah, and they said we should go to the ER.

We packed a few quick items, got in the car, and drove all the way back to the hospital. The doctor told us that she had notified the ER and that they would be expecting us. We got to the ER and checked in and they seemed to be in no hurry. We told them that the doctor had said they would be ready for us, but the ER nurses said they didn't have any beds and we'd have to wait. After waiting for an hour, they took us back. I've decided that if you need to go to the ER you should go in an ambulance. You get much faster service. Both times we've had ER/ambulance experiences (one for Mckay, one for Dallin), a room was ready for us as soon as we pulled up. I do not like being told that I need to rush my son to an ER, and then waiting around for an hour.

They got him a gown and a bed and still seemed in no hurry to do anything.
They asked us a ton of questions. They almost seemed more concerned about his other issues (low weight, not eating "normal" food, not walking, developmentally behind) than his calcium levels. I wanted to say, "Look guys, we know exactly why those other things are happening and they are being treated just fine already by the proper medical assistance. The only thing I need from you is an IV and drugs to lower his calcium!"

Dallin of course had no idea what was going on. He was just happy that he got to stay up past bedtime and play with his daddy.
Finally we had some nurses come put an IV in his arm. More nurses volunteered for the job than was actually needed. They just wanted to come play with Dallin.
At 1:30am we were finally admitted to the hospital and got checked into a room. We all tried to get some sleep, but it's hard to sleep when nurses keep coming in every 2 hours to take his vitals, give him medication, or draw his blood. And it was a shared room so we were woken up when they came in for the other patient too.

In the morning we talked to a bunch of doctors. This was a teaching hospital, so we had a lot of doctors "practicing" with us. And of course, Dallin is a medical rarity, so a bunch of doctors asked if they could come in just to listen to his heart or examine a patient with Williams Syndrome. I'm glad we could help them learn! Our team of doctors told us that the IV and medication he had was helping to flush the excess calcium out of his body. The blood test from that morning showed that his calcium had come down, but they wanted to get it much lower before releasing him. So we spent 4 days in the hospital waiting for his calcium to come down. Mckay talked to his teachers and worked out missing class so he could stay with us in the hospital.

Dallin was a good sport about the whole thing. He got really sick of being confined to a hospital bed, but he found ways to entertain himself.
Like eating the wires and IV attached to him.

He played with mommy and daddy.

He pulled the sensor off his finger.

He also did some not so fun things. He had to get his blood drawn 2 times a day. It was nice to see how his calcium levels were doing each day, but it was not fun to see him get poked so much. They always had a hard time finding a good vein. And once it was used, they couldn't use the vein again, so they were running out of places to stick him by the end of the week. One time they drew blood from a vein on his head.
He did not like that one very much. At least it was a really good vein and they were finished pretty quickly.

They also took his blood pressure a lot. He has always hated getting his blood pressure taken. Maybe it's the cuff squeezing him? I'm not sure, but he always cries. By the end of the week, he was so used to it, he wouldn't even make a sound when they took it. He would just smile and keep playing with his toys. His high blood pressure was related to the high calcium, so they wanted to get his blood pressure lower before releasing him as well. He is on a medication for it that has been keeping his blood pressure consistently low.

We didn't plan on being there that long and we did not bring enough extra clothes. The wonderful Ronald McDonald House organization saved our lives. They had showers, laundry facilities and a kitchen for families of patients to use anytime they wanted for free. They had snacks and meals every day made by volunteers, so we never starved. It is a great organization and I'm so grateful we were able to benefit from it. And we didn't have to wear dirty clothes the whole time!

Part of Dallin's medical plan for lowering his calcium was that we start him on the low calcium formula immediately and begin weaning from breast milk. I was already planning on doing this but not quite so abruptly. It's going ok though and he seems to be handling the change to bottles pretty well.
Saturday morning, the doctors said his calcium was low enough to release him. It was still a little high (12.2), but it would keep getting lower with continued medication at home and continued weaning to the formula. The medication that lowers his calcium also lowers his potassium, so he has to take medicine to keep his potassium up. We were released from the hospital with three prescriptions: calcium meds, potassium meds and blood pressure meds. He is supposed to have his blood drawn again on Wednesday to see how his calcium level is doing and a follow up with the doctor in 3 weeks.

Now we're home and Dallin is loving being able to crawl around and have his freedom back. He has to take medicine 3 times a day and the only way to get him to take it is to put it in his bottle. I'm trying to adjust to making and washing bottles all day AND getting the right medicine in the right bottle at the right time. It's a bit of a hassle.

It wasn't very much fun, but I'm glad we are getting his calcium situation taken care of. We had some really great doctors and a few great nurses in the hospital and that always makes things a little better. We were approved for Medicaid literally the day before all this happened, and I am so grateful for that! If it weren't for Medicaid, we would be in so much debt from all Dallin's medical bills.

This experience made me realize how lucky we were to be so close to family in Utah. When Dallin was hospitalized before at 3 weeks old, my siblings came to visit, brought us food and kept us company. No one could come visit us here since we're so far away from everybody and it got lonely. But we did appreciate the people that called to see how things were going.

So that was our fun experience! Now I'm off to do laundry and dishes and the things that were neglected for a week.

Monday, October 18, 2010

If "Spring has Sprung," then "Fall has... Fallen"?

It's definitely fall here now. Earlier in the month we had a few cold days mixed in with the warm, but now the weather has resigned to be cold for the duration of the year. All the leaves are falling and I've started pulling out our winter clothes. Dallin still fits in last years winter clothes. I'm so glad I'm getting a good use out of them. Today has been a cold, dreary day. We've been inside all day. Dallin has been crawling from room to room collecting things and putting them in other places. I found a cell phone amongst the board games. Currently, Dallin is shoving toys in with my piano music. In an effort to do something a little exciting, I made rice krispy treats. In honor of the season, I melted some chocolate and piped festive designs on the squares.
It's nothing fancy, but it was pretty fun.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Exploring Lafayette

This past Monday and Tuesday was Mckay's fall break from school. We had 4 potential days off to take a little trip or go somewhere fun. That didn't work out though. We had to be in our ward for church on Sunday because I was playing in a musical number. Mckay had a midterm on Wednesday, the day right after fall break that he had to study for and felt very unprepared for. And he couldn't have studied for it last week because he had midterms on Thursday and Friday. I'm trying to figure out why they scheduled fall break in the middle of midterm. That doesn't seem very smart. I thought that Purdue was supposed to be full of smart engineers. Anyway, we didn't really get to do much for the fall break, but Mckay said that he could spare Monday and take a break from studying so we could do something fun. We decided to stick close to home and see some sites in Lafayette. We are still relatively new here and there are a lot of pretty cool things we haven't seen yet.

We got an idea from a Lafayette/West Lafayette visitors guide. There is a lot of outdoor art downtown, and there was a little map showing some of the more interesting places.
It's not a really detailed accurate map, so it was kind of like a scavenger hunt to find the art.

These "people" are made entirely out of old farm equipment and objects.
We saw some cool art and some mediocre art. I think the best part was just walking around downtown and discovering the cool things there. We found a cute little antique store and looked around there for a bit. We went to the train/bus station and learned about the travel and trade along the Wabash River and the Wabash & Erie canal.

We stopped at a park for a bit.
Dallin really liked swinging while Mckay pushed him.
We went to this really cool store called JL Records. It's a HUGE music store that sells CDs, records, DVDs, and VHS tapes.
They seriously have any album you could think of, from current pop to oldies and everything in between, rock and even really obscure bands you've never heard of. We found Lady Gaga on a vinyl record. Who knew they even made that? And it's owned by this hippie guy with long hair and a beard. It was a really cool place.

To top off our little adventure, we got some pizza at a little Italian restaurant we've never been to. Then we walked back to where our car was parked, probably about a mile away. It was a really fun day. We walked a lot and got some good exercise, we saw some really cool places and got to know our city better. I think the best part was just spending a day relaxing and enjoying being together as a family. Mckay is always so busy with school and it was nice to have a break and spend time with him.