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.