Thursday, December 31, 2009

Where Did the Decade Go?

In just a few hours 2010 will be upon us. Scott and I are once again resolving to have a boring year. This year we enjoyed the wonderful arrival of Michael Perry, but also more drama than we wanted. So a little bit of boring is sounding perfect for 2010.

With the change to the new decade, I was thinking back ten years ago. Scott and I were unemployed grad students living off the our good friend Stafford Loan. Our only responsibilities were knowing the best places for happy hour deals and remembering to occasionally feed Buford, our cat. Today the list of responsibilities is long. Just like most of you, today there are the kids, the house, the bills, and all the stuff of real life. Plus, we still have to remember to occasionally feed Buford.

If you would have asked me on 12/31/99 what the decade had in store, I would have had lots of ideas and dreams and goals. And if you asked me today how many of them came true - I would say not too many. But that is just fine, because I wouldn't trade my life for all the tea in China. Sometimes the surprises that are the best part.

I could spout off lots of thoughts about what this new decade has in store, but I won't because I already know that it most likely won't turn out as I expect. Instead, I'll close with a couple of funny things from the kids during the holiday season.

Michael Perry - Thanksgiving Day, Just as the Turkey Came Out of the Oven - He treated us to his all-time biggest, messiest, need a bath now, diaper blow-out. So much for a hot meal - maybe next year.

Sarah - Before Christmas - "I want to ask Santa for a machine that cleans up the playroom for me." While your at it, ask Santa for a machine to clean up the house and do the grocery shopping for me.

Jaley - On Christmas Morning - "Wow drums. I didn't even want that." It was on the top of her Santa list, just the week before.

Who knows what the next decade holds, but I guarantee that the kids will give us many more laughs.

That is life in the Stroller Lane. Happy 91st Birthday Grandpa Harrell. Lots of Love.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Did Someone Give the Kids Red Bull?

Did someone give Sarah and Jaley Red Bull to drink? Or do I forget how excited they get for Christmas every year? Hopefully, the latter.

While I may not have the energy of the girls, I'm excited for Christmas too. This is our first Christmas with my mom living nearby. She is hosting us all for Christmas Eve dinner - a homemade Italian feast - complete with cannoli. All the feast and none of the cooking for me. That is better than any Christmas gift I could unwrap - but I won't tell Scott that. He's still on the hook for, at least, a little shopping. I figure I bore him a son this year - I must be on his nice list.

Cisco is shut down from Christmas until New Years, so we are planning to enjoy the week. We going to have ourselves a "staycation." It is a code word for when you want to enjoy yourself like a vacation, but are just too lazy to actually plan a get away.

The only thing that would make this holiday sweeter is having Jan, Mike, Emily, and Marcus in town, too. But, Santa can't deliver everything. So that is what we will hope for next year.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of Love.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Three Months and Counting

Michael Perry is 3 months old. It is hard to believe that it was only a few months ago and we were still anticipating his arrival. Now he is "a big boy." He is rolling over and laughing and (mostly) sleeping through the night. According to the pediatrician, those first two skills are developmentally much more important. However, as a parent of three kids - two of whom were crummy sleepers as babies - that sleeping skill is like a winning lottery ticket. Nothing is better for my quality as a parent than a full night's sleep.

Since we have been celebrating Christmas since the Turkey was carved, we made sure to have a little enjoyment this week. Sarah had her Holiday School Performance. All the kindergartners were bears in a "Share Bear" story. It was all that is school performance should be. There were problems with the AV system, missed cues, and lots of off key singing. In other words, it was perfect. We caught it all on video and loved every minute of it.

As for me, I am feeling much better and the problems with my eyes are mostly resolved. I even got out of the house today for a little while. I hope to be fully back to myself really soon.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Home and Resting

Thanks to everyone for their well wishes and support. I headed off to UNC hospital on Thursday and was home by Friday. I wouldn't say, I'm good as new yet, but I hope to be soon. While I did have surgery, I didn't have the pain mapping part. Much to the frustration of my surgeons, the anesthesiologist didn't want any audience participation from me. After a bunch of bickering amongst the docs (or dare I say fighting), we decided to skip the pain mapping, proceed with the hysterectomy, and hope that it solves the problem.

Everything went well in the surgery. However, I was in the recovery room for forever. The nurse told Scott I was just sleeping like a baby. I told Scott, I was just enjoying the opportunity to sleep for once without a baby. I was discharged on Friday and happy to be home. Typical of the hospital, after my long slumber in recovery, I didn't enjoy too much more rest. The lights were on all night and there were about a zillion people in and out.

The rest of the weekend, I became queen of the castle. I lounged in my room. Jan and Mike tirelessly entertained the girls and did the work around the house. Scott took care of me and Michael Perry. My mom took over when Jan and Mike returned home Monday, she has been cooking, washing clothes, and carpooling kids ever since. As of the start of the week, I have graduated to lounging on the couch. Though, I am still enjoying my queen status.

As of today, I am feeling much better. As is always the case with me, I am battling a couple of random medical mysteries. All weekend, I felt really dizzy, I had trouble seeing, and my eyes were dilated. I seemed like I had been double dipping in the pain meds. However, I hadn't taken any of the "good" pain meds, because they make me sick. Instead, I was trying to make due with just my friends Tylenol and Advil. I turns out I had a bad reaction to the anti-nausea meds that I got at the hospital. Yes, the stuff to make me feel better, made me feel worse.

As I said before, today I'm feeling much better. Now that I'm a close to a week post-op, the Advil and Tylenol are now plenty strong enough to keep the pain in check. My head is (mostly) clear. I am seeing well enough and should be back in my contact lens by Thursday. I am even planning to leave the house tonight to see Sarah's holiday show at school. I'll finally even get out of my PJ's.

Time will only tell if my pain problems are solved, but I am hopeful. The doctors, though not sure of the exact cause of problem, felt that a hysterectomy would most likely solve it. So now I need to get back to the TV. I'm sure there is some infomercial or soap opera that I am missing.

Once again, thanks for all the well wishes. That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

OK, Santa It's Time to Deliver

As you know, all I want for Christmas is a cure for my mystery pain issues. Tomorrow is the day for Santa to deliver. Jan and Mike are coming into town today to help with the kids and I'm off to UNC tomorrow.

Right now, I'm a whole mix of emotions. I'm apprehensive to be back in the OR again. Despite my current record, I don't consider surgery a recreational activity. I'm a bit nervous that they are planning to wake me up in the middle of surgery. I keep having this vision of someone giving me a shot of whiskey and a stick to bite down on, but they promise it won't hurt "too much." I'm thankful to have so many people offering help and support. It makes such a difference to know I have my own team of cheerleaders rooting me on. Most of all, I'm hopeful that the end of this two year saga may be near. You better sell short your pharmaceutical stocks, because I plan to take pain killers off my daily menu in the very near future.

Wish me luck tomorrow. That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of Love.

Friday, December 4, 2009

You know your a Mom when...

Monday morning we weren't running smoothly, we were just running late. It is Sarah's first day back to school after track out and we are all a bit sluggish after a four day weekend. With the final school bell nearing, I need to get the kids out the door. Some chant "ohm" or "peace," in the mornings I chant "put on your shoes."

With keys in hand, I realize Michael Perry needs a diaper change. So at lightning speed I whip him out of his wet diaper and into a dry one. He is ready to go and I just need to dispose of the nappy, when Jaley spills a glass of milk on the floor. I whip out the Swiffer Wetjet (what did we do be for mini-mops) and have the kitchen floor milk free in record time. Out the door we go.

Jaley is the first drop off. I get quite a few strange looks from the other moms, but I just chalk it up thinking that my hair is a mess or there is spit up on my shirt - both daily events. Sarah is the second drop off. I get a few angry glances in the carpool line, but I think that is because we are holding up traffic when Sarah jumps out of the car and forgets to shut the door - leaving me to jump out of the car and shut it for her.

Then, I am back home hollering at Scott that he needs to hop in the car - NOW. We are late for an appointment for him to get some medical testing. He gave me a couple of strange looks, but he was just feeling awful from the pre-appointment medication - so I just ignored them.

I drive like a bat out of you know where and get us to the doctor's on time. I get more strange glances in the office, but I figure that's because I'm nursing Michael Perry and no one really wants to see my boobs. The nurse calls Scott back and tells me he should be done in about an hour. Lil' Junior, now fed, is still fussy. I decide to take him for a little walk outside. As I walk out the door, I look down at myself for the first time since I brushed my teeth. There sticking out of the pocket of my jacket is Michael Perry's dirty diaper. Between the rush and the spilled milk, I guess I shoved it in my pocket instead of the garbage can. And now, I have gone to three different places, seen about 50 different people - all with a diaper hanging off me. I was horrified for a second, then I was laughing hysterically. And that my friends is when you truly know your a mom...

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

P.S. The results of Scott's testing were fine. He left with a couple of pieces of advice from the doctor and a timeline for follow-up, but overall a clean bill of heath (a big blessing for us).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Countdown

As you already know, we are on the accelerated Christmas plan. There may be 22 more shopping days until Christmas for you, but for us there are only six.

One priority was a visit with Santa Claus. We donned our holiday clothes and saw the man in the red suit. Sarah was thrilled, Michael Perry was asleep, and Jaley wouldn't get within 10 feet of him. Thankfully, Santa informed us to email him Jaley's list. So much for sending a list USPS, just log on and upload your list directly to the North Pole. By next year, he said he would be accepting text messages.

With only a few days left for holiday prep, it looks like everything (or at least enough things) will be done by December 9. We (which means mostly me) have the house decorated, the gifts bought, and the cards sent.

With the Christmas to-do list under control, I am planning to try and enjoy the next few days. I am nervous about next week's surgery, so I figure the best way to calm my nerves is to indulge a bit. Bring on the wine and chocolate - it is for medicinal reasons.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two Months Old

If I needed proof that time flies, all I have to do is remember that Michael Perry is already two months old. He crossed that milestone this week. Now that he is a "big boy," we are getting smiles, coos, and even a few straight hours of sleep at night - though I'm still getting plenty of time on the graveyard shift. To make the event all the sweeter, he enjoyed the celebration with Auntie Em and Uncle Marcus.

Emily and Marcus came in for a little visit. It was one part family visiting, one part wedding planning, and one part Raleigh touring. First and foremost, Emily and Marcus wanted to meet their nephew and catch up with Jaley and Sarah. As required, they made sure to spoil all three with love and goodies. Second, they have decided to have their wedding reception in Raleigh (lucky us). Since Chicago isn't around the corner, they squeezed in everything from food tasting to center piece planning. Third, they are hoping to escape the cold winters in Chicago and make the Triangle their new home (even luckier us). So they checked out the area and even a couple of places to live.

Emily returned home yesterday, so it is back to the grindstone. I am trying to get organized around the house before the craziness of the holidays fully hits. Though I don't think organized and three kids is an attainable goal.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My List for Santa - More on My Medical Drama

It has been a while since I droned on about my health issues, so no time like the present. Since the arrival of Michael Perry, my mysterious pain has been a million times better. I, however, am far from cured. I figure I'm back to where I was this time last year. I'm in pain, but still going on about life. Trust me, after too many months in bed, going on about my life is something for which I am very thankful.

Now that there are no babies on the way, it is time to find a full cure. So the only item on my list for Santa is a cure for my two years of mystery pain (I saved all my other gifts for my list for Scott). Santa is trying to deliver my gift a wee bit early - in the name of Dr. John Steege. He is the head of the UNC Pelvic Pain Center. He is one of the nation's top docs for treating "unique" (code word for we don't know what's wrong) cases of chronic pelvic pain. In other words, he's the doc for me and my problems. Lucky, for me Santa put this great doctor just a few miles from our house. I have had two appointments at the pain center and so far they still have don't know the root cause of my pain - but we have a plan to figure out.

On Dec. 10th, Dr. Steege will perform pain mapping surgery. It is a procedure where they not only take a look inside to try and figure out what's wrong - but they also ask me personally what hurts. I will be (partially) awake during that part of the surgery and hopefully be able to point them to the problem. Once they find the exact problem, it will be time to send me off for a good deep sleep and then the surgeon will do his magic and fix me up once and for all.

At least that is the theory. Though this is not a guaranteed cure, the process is successful most of the time. After seeing just about every doctor in the area, I am convinced that Dr. Steege is finally the right doc for my problem. So now that Santa has delivered up the doctor and my appointment in the OR, I just need Santa to throw in a little bit of luck that Dr. Steege and his team will figure out the problem on Dec. 10th and fix it on the spot.

With me facing yet another surgery, it is a bit of a mad dash around here. This time around we have 3 kids not 2, and we have that whole "get ready for the holidays thing happening." So right now, it feels like Dec. 20th, I'm in a mad dash to get the gifts bought, wrapped, and shipped. As far as the Harrell Christmas - this year if it ain't done by Dec. 9 it ain't getting done. Because as of Dec. 10, I'm back on the couch for a while.

I'm sure hoping that I'm on Santa's nice list. If he delivers on all of my wishes, I'll be cured and on my way to a full recovery by the time he loads up his sleigh.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tricks & Treats

It seems that the opossum was our only Halloween trick. Everything else was all treats. And there were treats galore - since we celebrated Halloween for almost the entire month of October (giving us many photo ops of the kids). With more wardrobe changes than a Hollywood blockbuster, we were happy to reuse a few costumes from last year.

As for our opossum, he decided that the Harrell home wasn't for him. We tried to roll him out in the garbage can - that didn't work. We tried to shew him out with a broom - that didn't work. We tried to lure him into a (no-harm) trap with cat food - that didn't work. In the end, he just moseyed out on his own. We sealed the lids on the garage cans and with nothing to eat - he headed on his way.

With Halloween gone and Thanksgiving not quite here, we are busy with the boring stuff of regular life. Scott is back to travel and in San Jose this week. Thankfully my mom is staying with me to help out this week. I'm definitely not ready to fly solo with the three kids yet. Sarah is tracked out of school and going to a sports camp. They play hard all day - she is asleep before I turn off the lights at night. Jaley is taking art classes and fully enjoying that. And Michael Perry is growing fast. He gave me his first giant smile this week - which is like crack for new moms.

This weekend will definitely have more excitement. Scott's sister and her fiance, Marcus, are coming to town. They are thinking of moving to Raleigh (cross your fingers) and want to check out the area. But, even more they want to meet Michael Perry and spoil Sarah and Jaley.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of Love.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Newest Family Member

You probably thought adding one new family member recently was enough. We did, too. However, our family was recently adopted by an opossum. At least, he has set up residence in our garage.

It all started last Wednesday. I went to throw a bag of trash into our garbage can. Two beady eyes were looking up at me. So I shut the lid on that can, wheeled it out to the driveway, and told the opossum to "run free." Unbeknown to me, he freely ran right back into our garage.

Around 3AM on Saturday evening Scott was taking a shift with the baby. He went outside to get a drink out of the fridge in the garage. Instead, he was unhappily greeted by our newest family member leaping out of the garbage can.

We now know a few things about our new resident. Our opossum is living up on the storage shelf above our garage doors. He and Buford (our cat) seem to be getting along fine, since I keep finding Buford hanging out on the same shelf. According to animal control, he, like all opossums, is docile (good news) and doesn't carry disease (very good news). Also, according to animal control, they will come and help us get him out of the garage (more good news), but they aren't allowed to relocate him (not so good news). If animal control releases him into our yard, our opossum will be back in our garage the first chance he gets (definitely bad news).

Now we are trying to catch him and relocate him ourselves. Our first attempt, luring him with cat food, was unsuccessful. We will try again tonight. So while we continue our opposum hunting, I don't recommend trying to steal anything from our garage. We have a new, furry night watchman keeping an eye on the place.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What's in a Name?

Let me sidetrack before I even get started. We went to the real photographer last week. Click Here to see the pictures. Just enter any name and any email address (no need for a real one) to see the pictures. TRUST ME THEY ARE WORTH THE VIEW!!!

We have (rightfully) been asked many times, what exactly we are calling Michael Perry? Is he Michael? Or Perry? Or Mike? Or MP? Or Junior? Or ???

The truth is we haven't fully decided. We needed a name for the birth certificate to leave the hospital. We accomplished that and indeed love the name we chose. The fact it is a tribute to both grandfathers is the extra bonus. The hospital didn't require that we decide which name or nickname we were going to use everyday. So we didn't. A month later we still are figuring it out.

Being that we live in the south - where Mary Sue and Billy Bob sound right - we usually call him Michael Perry. But two names and 4 syllables is a bit of a mouthful, so sometimes we call him just Michael or occasionally just Perry. And despite the fact that he isn't truly a junior, we find ourselves calling him Junior. So the short is, we don't have just one name for our son - we have quite a few. I'm sure by this time next year it will be all figured out. Until then, you have carte blanche to use the name you like best.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Creatures of the Night

I am starting to think early Fall is the ideal time to have a baby. With all the Halloween hoopla and talk of creatures of the night, Michael Perry and I feel right at home. We are up with the bats and the werewolves. And like Dracula, Michael Perry searches throughout the night for a woman to host his next meal - though his search is to me, his drink of choice is milk, and his cape is a burp cloth. And with my lack of sleep right now, I'm sure those around me could describe me as a witch (or a similar word starting with "b"). We have fully embraced the Halloween spirit!!!

The the Halloween season also means Michael Perry is one month old. It is hard to believe that a month has passed. He is doing fantastic. He had his check up and weighed in at 8 lbs., 5 oz. To you, it may not sound like much. To us, it is huge. He was only 5 lbs., 9 oz. the day he came home from the hospital. All those nighttime feedings are doing the trick.

And when the little guy isn't feeding, he is doing all the things a newborn should. He is dirtying plenty of diapers, growing like a weed, checking out the world around him, and getting more active every day. He even, amazingly, rolled over at only 3 weeks old. Now that he weighs a little more, he seems to have lost that skill. Jaley was the same way - rolled over incredibly early - then didn't do it again for over a month.

As for me, I am feeling better and better.
While I still have pain, I am back to my old self (except those pregnancy pounds). I am out of bed and back to exercise. I am running the house and carpooling the kids. I am even back to laundry and house cleaning - though I didn't much miss those. I have an appointment with a pelvic pain specialist in two weeks, and from there we will figure out where my treatment goes. However, there are no complaints from me. If this is as good as it gets, it is plenty good enough for me.

And not to exclude the rest of the family, the girls and Scott are doing fantastic, too. Sarah is winding down the soccer season. Jaley is starting art classes next week. And by the time you read this, the new product line on which Scott has been working for 5 years will have launched to customers. Like I said, life is plenty good enough for me.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Party of Five

We are settling in as a family of five. Scott and I have officially switched from the man-to-man defense to zone. Three weeks in and our defensive line is holding.

I'm sure this will change, but the jump from 2 to 3 kids has gone smoother than then jump from 1 to 2. Scott and I long ago gave up any expectations of quiet in the house, watching anything other than cartoons, sleeping through the night, or life without chaos. While we have a brand new baby in the house, we are operating under the same set of expectations.

As for Michael Perry, he is growing fast. According to my marginally accurate home scale, he over 7 pounds. As often as he is nursing that comes as no surprise to me. Now we just have to get him to the magic 10 pound mark. At that weight 3AM feedings move from mandatory to optional (though that is at the option of the baby not me).

I know that raising a boy will be very different from a girl, but right now the only major difference stems from diapering. No matter how fast I am, I am destined to get sprinkled once and a while. Plus diapers on boys leak in totally different places than diapers on girls.

Overall Michael Perry is doing great. He is healthy and really a good baby, though Scott would exclude a couple of hours last night in that assessment. Scott takes a shift in the evening and Nana has been entertaining the girls. These are things that make my job as mommy so much easier.

As for the girls, they are transitioning well into having a baby in the house. Before Jaley arrived, the world revolved around Sarah. So a baby's arrival was quite the transition. This time they are both used to life with a sibling. Instead of being a negative, Michael Perry means they have one more person to play with (soon) and new boy toys in the house. Plus we are already celebrating the month of Halloween - so that is helping to keep the girls smiling.

Mimi and Poppa stopped by for another visit on their way home to Florida. There was no way they were leaving NC without one more visit with their newest grandchild. In just two days, they showered Sarah, Jaley, and Michael Perry with enough love and snuggles to last until their next visit in December.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Michael Perry is Home!

Usually, one baby announcement blog is enough. However, I was just too happy not to share the good news. This morning the neonatal doctors gave Michael Perry a healthy report and even better a green light to go home. No more tubes, wires, or beeping monitors. He is just your regular (and tiny) newborn.

Now we are officially a family of five. Jaley and Sarah are so excited to cuddle their new brother and start bossing him around.

Here is the picture for which we waited nearly a week. Michael Perry all strapped up in his car seat for limo (minivan) service home!

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More on Baby Michael Perry

I am home from the hospital and back to my computer, so it is time for the full update on Michael Perry...

In the past 72 hours, Scott and I have received the crash course in neonatal care. We are tossing around new words like ductis arteriosis, RDS, surfactant, and bilirubin. Officially, baby is suffering from Respiratory Distress Syndrome. What was once critically dangerous is now hugely treatable and with no long term effects. Simply put, despite being full-term Michael Perry's lungs weren't quite ready. He just needs a couple of days for his lungs to catch up to living in his new air-filled world.

As we are learning with sick babies, they tend to get a little worse before they get better. After delivery, Michael Perry was doing well and we enjoyed cuddling him. Within the hour, he was struggling a bit. The nurses were quick to get him the care he needed. Since then, baby has been in the NICU under the care of some amazing doctors. Over the past three days, his breathing issues at first worsened and have slowly improved. He was doing well enough last night that Scott and I were able to hold and cuddle him before I was sent home (though I hated to leave). This morning his improving trend continued, and for the first time, I was able to nurse him. Both wonderful things.

The expectation is that Michael Perry will continue on his path to good health. He has several milestones to cross, but we anticipate that he will join us at home before the end of the week.

As for the timing of Michael Perry arrival, it turns out that doctor's like to change their minds a lot. We canceled the induction for last Wednesday, and instead I had an ultrasound that day. The results from that, made the docs decide that Thursday was our day. So I got a phone call Wednesday evening saying to be at the hospital the next day. The delivery was smooth as could be. Many of you moms out their will hate me, but I only pushed for four minutes and baby was born. And thanks to my lovely epidural even the pushing didn't hurt. I definitely know how lucky I am in that department!

As for me, I am feeling much, much better!!! My mystery problems are not gone, but I am cautiously optimistic that I can get back to a somewhat normal life (if such as thing exists when you have three kids). My pain is much less and for the first time in 9 months I am not nauseous. I even ditched the cane. Once again, I am walking upright like the rest of the human race.

While we are still worried about Michael Perry, we are counting our abundant blessings. His breathing problems should resolve quickly and we will get to enjoy a brand new addition to our family.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Baby Michael Perry is Here!!!

After a couple of changes and false starts at the beginning of this week, the doctors decided it was time to meet our son. The newest addition to our Harrell family made his debut on Thursday 9/17/09 at 1:28PM. He arrived weighing in at 6 lbs, 3oz and measuring 18.5 inches long.

Baby Harrell was considered a full-term baby, but he arrived a bit before his original due date. As a result, Michael Perry needs a little extra TLC and is spending some time in the neonatal special care nursery. We expect he will progress quickly and join the family at home by the end of next week. Sarah and Jaley are very excited to meet their new brother in person. And after that, let the craziness of being a family of 5 begin.

I am doing well and promise to post a full update along more with pictures soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Man Plans and God Laughs - No Baby Yet

Yes, I wrote that we were planning to meet Lil' Junior today. It doesn't seem like it will happen. As scheduled, I went to the hospital yesterday for my amniocentisis. The doctor was trying to check proteins in the amniotic fluid that confirm that baby was truly ready for his debut. Depending on how you count, I either had 3 amnios done or none. The doctor made three attempts to collect the fluid - turning my abdomen into a virtual pin cushion - to no avail. My amniotic fluid levels have been running rather low, and the doctor couldn't grab enough fluid to perform the test.

I was prepared for "baby's not ready" from the test results, but I wasn't expecting "we just can't complete the test." To add insult to injury, the doctor said to schedule the induction for next Monday. However, I know now that scheduling an induction is harder to get than hot concert tickets. Instead, we are scheduled to meet Lil' Junior next Wed. 9/23.

Unless, of course, he comes au naturale. I have a history of baby's debuting before their due dates and according to yesterday's exam, a baby in the next few days isn't completely out of the question.

Baby talk consumes most of the gossip around our house, but the stuff of regular life continues, too. Scott is, as usual, having a crazy week at work. Sarah had her first soccer match last Saturday - AND SCORED A GOAL. Jaley is dressing herself each morning in the most outrageous outfits ever. Jan is working tirelessly to run the house. As for me, I maintain my life of leisure in bed and on the couch.

Thanks to EVERYONE for the love and support. That is life in the Stroller Lane. Lots of Love.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Time for a Baby? Almost!!!

The time for Lil' Junior's arrival is almost upon us. In the last couple of weeks, the good checks at the doctor have continued. At a growth scan this week, Lil' Junior stunned us all (including the doctors) with how much he had grown - jumping from the 15th percentile to the 55th percentile. He gained almost 3 lbs in the past month and is weighing in at an estimated 6 lbs, 8 oz.

With that good report, we are scheduled to meet the little guy next week. I have an amniocentesis on Tuesday 9/15 and as long as that test gives the green light, I'm scheduled for induction on Wednesday 9/16.

It is all great news for me and the family. At his size now, I don't want baby to wait too much longer. I have no desire to birth a 10 pounder. Plus, my time on the couch is exhausting everyone including me. And as much as I like the my doctors, I would really prefer not to see them multiple times a week. So cross your fingers, that results from the amnio are good and baby arrives next Wednesday.

As for preparations for baby, we are as done as we can be. In the past nine months, I have focused on the "really important" things.

Shirley updated the mural in the playroom, so that baby wasn't left out. He won't be able to hold his head up when he comes home from the hospital, but you never know, he may be born knowing how to read. --- As for the name, it is time to share the name that has been picked out forever (since before we knew Sarah was a girl). Lil' Junior's name will be Michael Perry in honor of both Granddaddies - Mike Harrell and George "Perry" Pereira.

And I made sure to get that vanity license plate for the minivan. In my mind's eye having a personalized license plate was tops on my must-have-before-baby-arrives list. Wasn't it on yours? --- I liked all the choices (see 7/14 - Pimp My Ride) and thought long and hard about the Ga Tech option. In the end, I knew for certain that "Late for Carpool" was going to sum up the next decade or so of my life.

Don't worry, we got a couple of the normal things too - like an infant car seat and newborn diapers. I would love to say that we are "ready" for Baby's arrival, but we have done this twice before. There is no such thing as "ready" for a new baby. Instead, I will say we are eager to meet our newest family member. Bringing home a newborn is the most beautiful and overwhelming thing ever. I'm not planning to sleep through the night again - ever. But I also know that lack of sleep will be more than worth it.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Officially a Soccer Mom

It's official, I'm a soccer mom. Scott made a trip to the sporting goods store for cleats and more. This week, Sarah had her very first soccer practice. The "season" is only 8 weeks long and it is just for fun. There are no goalies and no bench warmers.

It isn't so much what this soccer season has it store, it is what it represents. It is our first foray into the organized (and wallet draining) land of school-aged kids' sports/activities. This marks the end of lazy Saturdays ever after. Sarah is starting soccer now. Jaley is close on her heals. If Scott has anything to do with it, Lil' Junior will be on a team by next fall.

We will soon be one of those families with a giant color-coded calendar on the refrigerator - desperately trying to keep each kid's activities straight. I know the day will come when Sarah calls saying "mom where are you?" I'll probably be on my way to take Jaley to piano and Lil' Junior to Little League having completely forgotten it was my day for the soccer carpool.

In fact, carpool isn't my reality right now. I have even outsourced that. Nana is at to the pool with Jaley right now and then off pick up Sarah at camp. I still continue my lazy ways lounging in bed and on the couch. The good news is that all my baby checks came back good this week. If that trend continues (which we are hoping), we are planning to meet Lil' Junior in about 3 weeks. The docs are now thinking an induction at 37 weeks (around 9/15) is the right balance between delivering a healthy baby and getting me off the couch. They figure Nana and Mimi can only drive carpool for so long and I better get back to being a productive member of this household. The countdown continues.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Start of Summer Vacation

For most of America, summer is coming to an end. The stores are stocking pencils by the pallet and school buses are back on the road. However, at our house summer vacation began this Monday. Sarah attends a year round school. Instead of one long summer break, she has four short breaks throughout the year. Her first "track out" began this week. And true to historic summer fashion, she is attending camp - complete with silly games and pool time.

She is having a great time at her camp and after diving right into kindergarten she was excited for the break. For the following two weeks, Sarah is going to camp where Jaley goes preschool. Jaley is very excited to be able to hang out with her sister again. The transition to kindergarten has been much harder for Jaley than for Sarah. Jaley misses Sarah and thinks that it is torture that she isn't old enough to ride the school bus.

Also, true to historic summer fashion, it is grandparent time. Nana is flying in today to spend two weeks as my personal indentured servant. She is taking charge of the girls and the house, while I lounge on the couch. As I said before and as I will say again, a mother's work is never done. I promise she will have long hours and no pay - a job that only a mother (grandmother) would accept. As soon as she leaves, Jan and Mike are arriving to take over where Nana leaves off.

So far, all of my inactivity is paying off. Lil' Junior had a non-stress test on Monday. According to the doctors, he is cool as a cucumber - not stressed at all (a very good thing). Unfortunately, I can't say the same of myself. I stress and worry about baby all the time. Today, I had my weekly visit with Lil' Junior (ultrasound). Again, it was good news. My amniotic fluid level was up into the normal range and Lil' Junior's biophysical profile (BPP) was good, too. I'm not quite sure what the BPP measure, but with good and profile in the results, I'm sure it means he will grow up to be very handsome.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Golden Corral Pregnancy

Lil' Junior's Profile - 08-12-2009

WARNING: It is time to gossip about my pregnancy again. I'm sure you are exhausted with all the baby talk, but tough luck - here is all the nitty gritty.

This is the Golden Corral of pregnancies. The buffet is in front of me and I have filled up my plate with one of almost everything from the list of pregnancy issues. I even grabbed a few things from the buffet that have left the docs and I wondering what they are.

Before, I get into all the details, I will start with the buffet items that are most important. I am 32 weeks, 1 day along. As of the ultrasound this morning, Lil' Junior is weighing in at approximately 3 lbs, 11 oz. Though we have had many issues with this pregnancy, we have been BLESSED with good news after every scare. While we don't want to meet our little guy for quite a few more weeks, Scott and I are breathing much easier knowing that even if he arrived now, his prognosis is great.

Now for the buffet list. This pregnancy has been quite a ride. If you remember, the pregnancy started out completely against the odds. I was talking hysterectomy with my docs and on medication that is rather anti-pregnancy when the stick turned blue. So much for odds, this little guy is my miracle.

Then, you fast forward a few weeks for my triple test and NT ultrasound. The results came back high for the chance of a baby with chromosomal abnormalities. We weighed the risks and opted to have CVS testing (which is similar to an amniocentesis, but earlier in the pregnancy). After a week of nail biting, the results were great - no signs of chromosomal issues AND baby is a boy.

Then, you fast forward a few more weeks for my mid-pregnancy level 2 ultrasound. The reports were all good, except there was one issue we needed to monitor with Lil' Junior's kidneys. Apparently, just like the girls when they were potty training - he was holding it for just a little too long.

While baby was looking and growing well, I have been on a downward slide. I am still having all sorts of pelvic pain. It is the same pain that started in January 2008. With my belly growing, the pain is worse each week. I have seen just about every specialist in the greater Raleigh - from surgeons to neurologists to gynecologists to gastroenterologists to acupuncturists to physical therapists. They are all concur that my issues are not currently threatening to me or the baby, but they also have only guesses about what is wrong. The treatment is pretty simple. I rest on the couch, take pain meds round the clock, and wait out my time until delivery. We have outsourced everything else. I am a master of the "dinner in 5 minutes" cookbook.

Then, you get to May. Half way through with my pregnancy and time to start thinking about my tendency toward pre-term labor. Luckily, there are now 17P injections that do a great job of keeping early contractions at bay. For the past 3 months, the injections have worked like a charm. No signs of early labor. Unfortunately, I am slightly allergic to the injection. I itch where they give me a shot - which just so happens to be in my backside. So for the past three months, I have been scratching my ass with no abandon. I apologize to all those I have offended.

Then, you get to mid-July. Sarah is sent home from school with a mysterious rash. I thought with 5 years of daycare under her belt, we were though these types of illnesses, but no such luck. We visit the doc twice with no firm diagnosis. However, Parvo B19 virus is one of the possibilities. Parvo is no biggie for kids or adults - just a little cold and a little rash. Parvo, however, can be dangerous to fetuses. Despite our strict regimine of hand washing and Purell, five days later I had myself a little case of Parvo, too.

Here we are at today. Back to the Perinatologist for another ultrasound. This was the follow-up for most of our earlier issues. Wonderful news - Lil' Junior's kidneys look perfect and there are no signs of anemia from Parvo. As an added bonus, my cervix is "competent" (I guess it passed end of grade testing) and shows no signs of heading toward a pre-term delivery. Sometimes, you solve one problem and uncover another. So was the case this morning. Now baby and uterus and showing signs of slow growth, plus my amniotic fluid is a little low.

Next steps are weekly ultrasounds, rest on the couch for me, and a countdown until delivery. Since I was already spending my day on the couch and counting down until delivery, nothing much has changed. I just traded in three pregnancy buffet items for two different ones.

Scott and I are hunkered down for the last few weeks of this pregnancy. The docs are promising an induction at 38 weeks so that puts me at 41 days to go (yes, I am counting each day). Hopefully, we will continue our trend of having issues to worry about, but blessed luck that none of them are causing serious issues.

Thanks again to everyone that has sent us prayers and lent us a hand this year. It has truly made all the difference!!!!

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Look Who's Three

Jaley is a big girl now. She turned three on the 27th and true to Harrell form we celebrated all week. There were cupcakes at school, dinner and singing waiters that evening, pool day with Mimi, and a party at Hopper's House with friends over the weekend. All told we had cake three times - which seems fitting for her 3rd birthday.

Now that she is three, we have no babies or toddlers in the house. It is a giant milestone, our household no longer requires diapers, bottles, or cribs. We are planning to fully enjoy this time with no babies - all 6-8 weeks of it. Then, you know what's coming.

Here are a few pictures of our week long birthday celebrations.

Friday, July 31, 2009

It Takes a Village

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It seems that I am using up all my help from the village before Lil' Junior even arrives. My pregnancy woes continue and the couch is pretty much my permanent home. However, all the R&R that I need doesn't blend all that well with my two little busy bodies that already call the Harrell House home - Jaley and Sarah.

In comes the village. Scott, of course, is helping out a ton with both the girls and the house. He has gotten reacquainted with both the washing machine and the vacuum cleaner - two appliances he has visited less in recent years when I was at home more. But try as he might, there are only 24 hours in his day. Cisco still takes up many of those. So during the week, we also have two babysitters on call. They have more energy to spare in a single afternoon than I have in a month. Chrissy and Jamie play with the girls while I go to my never ending doctor appointments or hide in my bedroom trying to pretend that napping is a normal part of my personality. And when the sitters are busy, I have an entire army of neighbors and friends that have been lending a hand.

But as the weeks have turned into months and my slide of feeling worse continued, we needed even more help. In comes the extended village. And as anyone knows the first call in the extended village is always for Mom. A mother's job is never done. Jan and Shirley would agree right now - it is truly never done. They are alternating visits to help with the girls and around the house. Shirley was here in mid-July. Jan was here while Scott was away in late-July. Shirley is back again when Scott will be traveling for work and Sarah is tracked out of school in mid-August. Then Jan and Mike are back to help for a short visit in early-September followed by a longer visit when baby arrives in late-September. Finally, Shirley is arriving in early October to make a new home in Cary. As I said a mother's job is never done.

This blog is a special thank you to everyone that is helping out right now. Ever since Sarah's arrival, I have known that it takes a village to raise a child, but this year it is clearer than ever. Thank you to everyone for the help, support, kindness, and love.

That is life in the Stroller Lane. Lots of Love.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Experiential Child

Jaley is turning 3 next week. And like all kids, she is growing up fast. Time has evaporated all of the pieces that made her a baby and seamlessly changed her into a little girl.

In thinking about the changes in Jaley, it made me realize something about her. I always struggle to describe Jaley - in this blog, talking to friends, or just bragging at the grocery store. I don't have this same struggle with Sarah. When I describe Sarah, my words usually seem to fit. When I describe Jaley, no matter how hard I try, my words never do her justice.

It was just this week, that I realized that Jaley is just a child you have to experience to understand. Her silly songs, crazy dances, and batted eyelashes can steal your heart in under a second. Her insistence to choose her style for the day by dressing herself can make you smile every time you see her parade by in a Halloween shirt in July. Her booming voice and screaming laugh that are much too loud for a child only 37" tall can insure that I always know where she is. It is the experience with Jaley that makes her so special. However, it is an experience would even cause Melville to struggle for the right words.

I can't believe my baby is almost 3, but I am so excited to experience all that that future years hold in store.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of Love.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pimp My Ride

Scott said I couldn't get spinners for our minivan, so I will have to settle for a vanity license plate instead. We have a couple of leading contenders and just for fun are looking for your votes. Remember, you are voting for a license plate for the backside of a (n)ever cool minivan that will be hauling three very loud children around town.
  • L84CARPL - Late for Carpool
  • OTNMBRD - As in Scott and I will be outnumbered 3 to 2
  • 3FTRJKTS - Three Future (Ga Tech) Jackets
  • NO YNING - A rule in the car (and everywhere) - No Whining
  • And any votes you may have...
Cast you vote, by either sending an email or commenting on this blog. Either way, I would love to hear your opinion on the best license plate for the new ride.

And since I am blogging about our new ride, I must make a confession. I had the car exactly two whole days, before the power of the minivan got under my skin. I got a speeding ticket! Yikes!!!! My last speeding ticket was in 1994. Usually, I drive so slow I make the senior citizens down in Florida look speedy. When we are together, Scott doesn't even let me drive. My lack of speed drives him crazy. But last Friday, with the wind at my back and a large downhill in my path, I drove smack dab into a speed trap. It was a 25 mph zone at the bottom of a very big hill. The kind of hill that because of gravity warrants a 55 mph limit. I was riding the brakes - but only to the tune of 40 mph - still enough to get me a citation. Even my pregnant belly and tears didn't help. He just said, "license and registration ma'am."

So while you are casting your votes, if any of you NC locals have a suggestion on law firms to help me get my citation revoked, reduced, or resolved, PLEASE let me know your recommendations. For those of you not local to the area, in NC people don't take speeding tickets sitting down. Here in the Tar Heel state you fight it in court. You gotta love the freedom of democracy.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Baby Is Off To School

For a child, everyday can be a milestone. There are a million firsts to learn and experience. By any measure, today was a biggie. Sarah's enjoyed her first day of school. She is now officially a big kid - a full-fledged kindergartner at Mills Park Elementary School!!!

On the one hand, it is hard to believe that my baby is 5 1/2 and ready for the big leagues. On the other hand, it is hard to believe that it was only 5 1/2 years ago that Scott and I were still DINKs - enjoying a simpler, more lucrative life with dual income and no kids - a life that was also less full of love and laughter.

We made the morning special. Scott went into work a few minutes late, so that he could join us for our first drop-off. We even took her out for a quick breakfast before we both walked her to meet Ms. McGuirt in her new classroom. Sarah was so excited. She was practically in the front door before we had the car parked.

I was a bit melancholy. Sarah has been in daycare since she was 6 months old, so it wasn't the leaving that was tough. It was the thought that she was growing up and spreading her wings. Someday (faster than I'll believe), she will spread those wings and find that she can fly on her own.

My melancholy wore off before too long. Lil' Junior started kicking in my belly and reminded me that while Sarah may be growing up, I still have two more first days of kindergarten to savior. And I have many, many years of the school years left. In fact, the tax payers of Wake won't finish the K-12 schooling of the Harrell clan for another 19 years (as scary as that is)!!! By the time that comes around, I will either very, very melancholy as my youngest leaves the nest or suffering from dementia because I'll be so damn old. Time will tell.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of Love.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Bought a Car in My Bathrobe

Actually, I was dressed in regular clothes (regular maternity clothes that is). I could have been dressed in only a bathrobe or even just my birthday suit. It didn't matter. Yesterday, I bought a car over the phone.

It was kind of fun. I haggled my way through all of the car buying hoops without ever leaving the comfort of home. It was the last day of the month and the salespeople wanted to make a deal. I knew which model I wanted, but I wasn't picky about features or colors. As Scott said, I only cared about it being green (as in spending the least amount of greenbacks as possible). I called a couple of dealers and said give me your best price. They called back and I said try a little harder. They called back again and I said try one more time. Before the end of the day, I got the car I wanted at a price even lower than I had hoped (though I didn't tell the dealer that). No running around town, no uncomfortable chairs at the dealership (the kind that make you want to sign on the dotted line no matter what the price), no fuss. I may never go to a car dealership to shop again.

I have to back up a little bit. You may be scratching your head, wondering why in the heck I was buying a car anyhow. Didn't I just by a car in September? Why yes, I did. In fact, I bought the perfect little microvan. I drive a Mazda 5 that I still love and that is still in perfect shape (especially if you like a few Cheerios crumbs on the seat).

The problem is that while my Mazda 5 technically seats 6, the third row of seats are in the cargo area. So as a family of 5 we can fit in the car, but I could never carry groceries at the same time. And as all moms know, having kids means a lot of trips carrying groceries.

Bye-Bye microvan! Hello minivan!

As of yesterday, we are the proud owners of a White Toyota Sienna. It is a couple of years old with only 16000 miles. With kids three young kids this car is going to take a beating. I figured get one that is a little broken in and then I won't fret when I find out that milk was just spilled all over the back seat. And though we already have a purchase agreement on the car, we haven't actually seen it yet. We will be introduced to our family mobile tomorrow in Greensboro. We are headed up to spend the 4th of July in the mountains and will sign the final paperwork on our way to Beech Mtn. The dealer is going to make one change on the interior for me (to help with all those inevitable spills) and we will pick up our car Sunday on our drive home. It should look like the one pictured above. If not, the deal isn't binding and I will be shopping by phone at the end of July.

While last week we made room in the house for Lil' Junior, this purchase means we will have room in the car for him. Of course, we still don't have a car seat for him, but that is just one little legality I will deal with another day.

Right now, I need to get the microvan packed for its last family trip. We are off tomorrow morning to visit Jan and Mike and celebrate the 4th. While we are excited to see them, we are really excited to see Emily and meet her boyfriend Marcus. They are making the trip from Chicago. As if those aren't reasons enough for the trip, Sarah has spent the week with Mimi & Poppa. And I really am missing my first born.

That is life in the Stroller Lane. Lots of Love.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Kids' Room Shuffle

As a party of two in 2001, a four-bedroom house seemed way too big. Scott and I bought it anyhow, and figured we would never fill it. Fast forward to 2009, add two (making room for three) kids and a whole lot of stuff. We find ourselves with no recollection of days with empty closets. It was time to clear out some clutter and shuffle around the bedroom arrangements to make room for our newest addition. Lil' Junior needed a room.

We said good-bye to the guest room (which doubled as my junk room). We want you to know the door is still open and welcome to family and friends. Sarah promises to bunk with Jaley and share her new big girl room with anyone who makes the visit NC.

And with decision made, it was time to do shuffle the kids. Sarah got the windfall - A BRAND NEW BEDROOM!! Still remembering our recent Disney voyage, she vied for a princess theme, I wanted something that she wouldn't outgrow next week. The compromise was a room "fit for a princess." If she asks, please agree that any princess would love to live in her room - especially princesses named Sarah (check out her name on the wall).

Jaley moved into Sarah's room. Other than moving clothes and toys, no change necessary. It is the perfect room for a girl turning three. Lucky for me, because re-doing Sarah's room wore me out. Don't feel too bad for Jaley. She won't always get hand-me-downs. I plan to redo her room in a couple of years.

And Lil' Junior is moving into Jaley's room. If you remember, we went old school with Jaley and didn't find out her girlhood until delivery. As a result, her room was gender neutral - in fact the jungle animals theme, dark wood, and blue walls it actually leaned more toward a baby boy. A decorating decision in 2006 that seems like pure genius today. So Lil' Junior will move right into a ready made nursery. We still need a crib (ours along with all of our baby gear is long gone), but otherwise his room is ready. If you visit before October, it is a private guest room for you.

With the kids' rooms shuffled, we now have room for our newest addition. I won't dare say we are ready though. I learned through Sarah and Jaley, that now matter how hard I try, I am never really ready for a new baby. Preparation aside, he still has a few months in the cooker. We are eagerly awaiting his arrival.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of Love.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Home Alone

Mimi and Poppa have escaped the FL heat and are settled back to their NC cabin. Scott and the girls took the opportunity to get in a little spoiling that only Mimi can provide. I, however, just wasn't up for the voyage. Since my belly and I remain on the couch potato list, we decided to man the house and rest a bit.

What could be better. I will be a mom of three in just three short months. This was my chance for alone time and a bit of quiet solitude. I guarantee after October this is house will never be quiet again. Even if no one is home, I'm sure there will be a TV or radio left on at a blaring level. As for alone time, I doubt that will happen again until 2028 (the year we hope to send Lil' Jr. off to college).

I did indulge a bit this weekend. I rented three movies - none from the "Family" section - none with a G rating. And I actually watched all three. I also went out for dinner and coffee with two girl friends at real restaurants - no crayons - no french fries - no indoor playgrounds involved. I didn't do any laundry or use enough dishes to warrant running the dishwasher.

But truth be told, I was a bit lonely. This house doesn't feel like my home unless kids shows are blaring on the TV and Goldfish crackers are being consumed by the truckload. Even while I was sprawled on couch watching my chick flicks, I was sad to miss the fun in the mountains. By the time Scott arrived home on Sunday afternoon, I was homesick. Not homesick for my house, I never left - but homesick for my home. The one that is loud and dirty and full of kid chaos.

Talk to me next year, and I'm sure I will be begging for a weekend alone again. But right now, I am happy that everyone is home. I missed them.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Our First Graduation

It was our very first graduation. Graduation as parents that is. Unlike graduations past, we didn't cross the stage. Scott and I sat in the audience and applauded. It was time for Sarah to don a cap and gown. On Tuesday night, she walked up and received her preschool diploma.

Yes, they give out diplomas for preschool now. It may be a bit of overkill. Her acceptance the local kindergarten was a guarantee based on the state constitution. Overkill aside, I loved the photo op. And I must say, my baby sure looked grown up wearing a mortar board.

Another right of passage has come and gone for Sarah. She grown so much in the past five years. Her first steps and first words are memories dated in her baby book. She is onto first diplomas and the start of the school years. The "firsts" for Sarah will continue to evolve, never returning to those firsts of babyhood.

While a piece of me is sad to see the baby Sarah has disappeared, much more of me is excited to spend time with the little girl Sarah. Plus with Jaley turning 3 and Lil' Junior on the way, I still will enjoy many firsts of babyhood and toddlerhood for years to come.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.