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I want to see how many times I can fit “4” into this post!

3 Dec

It is 8:04pm.  Four years ago I got my first drop of Pitocin and the contractions started in heavy.  We were already 40 minutes into the Raptors game, and I had to convince the nurse that I really DID want to watch it, and no, my husband didn’t have to turn it off…

I couldn’t have known that less than 4 hours later (in Room 404), my sweet Princess would make her grand entrance at the stroke of Midnight.  Maybe we should have named her Cindy?

Our sweet, nameless girl looked nothing like what we expected.  She was born within minutes of 2 other babies, and kept the poor OB hopping!  She arrived in the middle of the worst snowstorm of the season.  In fact, we got stuck in a ditch on the way to the hospital (right outside our house) and the snowplow driver had to hoist us out!

Who is this strange person? And why does she have more hair than me?!

Since that first snowy night when she entered the world, Holly Grace has been spreading life and love in our lives every day:

Announcing her new status as "Big Sister" just days before her 1st Birthday!

Can't get her thumb out of her mouth long enough to blow out 1 candle!

Year 2 was just as great.  Holly continues to charm and surprise us!

Terrific Twos!

And last year… this cool cake was inspired by Holly’s favourite book that year: Curious George’s Hot Air Balloon Ride.

Showing off Auntie Jenn's awesome Hot Air Balloon cake

Which brings us to FOUR!!!!  How on earth my baby is 4 years old is a mystery to me.  But I love her more every day and will spend the rest of my life trying to show her how much she means to me:

Happy Birthday, Holly!

Holls and Lamby... Best Friends Forever!


Two Cute

16 Jun

Josselyn celebrated her 2nd birthday last Sunday (May 29), and Monday, and Tuesday… and, you get the picture.  It was a week-long celebration, with a week of events leading up to the big event.  What did we do for her on her double fun day?  Weeelllll… we actually invited ourselves to a friend’s house, brought supper and made them join us while we took the kids mini-putting.  I don’t think they minded.  We were there again tonight…

The big girls studying a difficult shot

Bruce adjusting Holly's swing

Josh helping Maya with the rest of us looking on

Bored of golfing, Joss is checking out the wildlife

Hole in One! PS I also got a Hole in One but no one saw it since I was at the end, and they didn't believe me!!!

More animals

Mini Golf anyone? Come visit, and we'll go to a great place!

Now that Joss is 2, I am noticing a subtle, yet real change in her behaviour.  She is still a toddler, and has worse tantrums than the other girls at any age put together but she is so much better than she used to be.  She has smiles for strangers, and hugs for friends.  She spontaneously calls out the names of my friends who she likes.  She melts down and cries, but can be distracted with apple juice (just not right away- she needs time to feel she’s made her case).  She still loves Purple, but has rechristened it “Mimi”.  She is learning to share.  And she is showing a heart of sweetness.  If she receives a candy as a treat for peeing in the potty she holds out her other hand every single time and says, “Holl?”  I must give her one for Holly too, or she becomes indignant then inconsolable.

She is a pretty good eater, and is definitely willing to try new foods.  But beware if she decides she doesn’t like it, because she’ll spit it back out in your hand.  She also likes to feed you her food.  But again, BEWARE: one time it wasn’t food, it was a booger.

She always shouts “ong ong” before you lay her down in her crib.  That means “song”.  And you could find yourself starting half a dozen before she nods that it is the right one.  Lately the “right one” is “I want to Eat Apples and Bananas”.  Strange for a lullaby…

I can take her out for short errands with no Pull-Up on.  Except today when the wait in the line at Wal-Mart was so lengthy that she peed in the aisle.

She loves to swim, and wants to do it on her stomach with her face in the water, and a good strong kick.  Except, she also doesn’t want to be held onto, and I have let her sink a few times when she was too insistent.  She always came up sputtering and smiling.  I worry about her…  She has slid down the slide or jumped into the pool without waiting for anyone to catch her.  Several times.  Today, she was walking along the edge of the pool with her lifejacket on and fell in.  It wasn’t on purpose, she just leaned too far forward, and I watched as she wobbled and tried to regain her balance but eventually succumbed to gravity.  I was on her in a second and pulling her out.  She didn’t love it, but she didn’t cry.

She is in the 2s and 3s room at church now.  Which means I have no one in the nursery anymore.  That is bittersweet.

She loves Curious George just as much as Bronwyn did at that age.  I may have to buy second copies of those books they are so dog-eared.

She is fanatically, maniacally obsessed with Dora.  She screams in the car if we don’t listen to Dora (not that I give in all the time- the girls are sick of that CD as much as I am), and cries when we don’t watch Dora on tv (why would we bother watching anything else?!?!??) but she does eventually get over it, and quite enjoyed Barbie in the Princess and the Pauper the other night.  There will be a photoblog on that story coming up soon.

What else?  She is around 24lbs, 33 3/4 in, and cute as a picture.  FYI that puts her in the barely 3rd and almost 75th percentile respectively.  We are stopped daily by old ladies and store employees who gawk at her hair, her eyes, and her *ahem* sunny disposition.  My baby is growing up, and I am excited to see that her strong-will and wild (er) disposition have tempered with age, while still showing signs of being a valuable asset to her when she gets a little older.  I can’t wait to see how she’s grown in another year!

Happy Birthday Josselyn!

A Tip on Dealing with Nurses… from a Nurse

24 Mar

We had Josselyn’s regularly scheduled check-up with the nurse today to dip her urine and take her blood pressure.  We are into this routine by now, and it barely phases me.  I am aware that the nurses on staff at the health clinic good-naturedly joke about whose turn it is to take Joss’ blood pressure.  I understand.  She screams like a banshee and fights with every ounce of strength in her body.  No one has fun, least of all me.  But we endure it because we have to.

Anyway, today there is a new nurse in the room.  She introduces herself and I ask if she is new.  She reveals she is actually a student and tomorrow is her last day (score one against her for not disclosing her identity as a student immediately).  I have taken off Joss’ sweater and am sitting with her on my lap (like usual).  She turns and asks me to take off my sweater (score two against for not bothering to check the age of her patient).  I patiently inform her that the blood pressure will be taken on the Baby.  She sighs and declares she’ll need to find a smaller cuff (score three against… are you getting the idea?).  She returns and Josselyn is struggling even before she places the cuff on her arm.  I need to interrupt my description of our visit for a minute to explain how much better she has been since being on her diet.  She cried, yes, but there was no arching of her back, slapping me in the face, or otherwise going limp and boneless to the point where I can’t even hold her.  Not to mention the glaring.  Seriously the worst part.  So, when Miss Student Nurse announces that her reading would be artificially high due to her excessive reaction to the blood pressure cuff, I wanted to cuff her.  She is a BABY.  If you’d had any experience with children at all, you’d realize that unless the child is extremely ill or something, they will all have the same reaction to having their arm squeezed really hard by a stranger.  You sort of have to account for it.  Not repeat it 6 times to get a more accurate reading.  Because, believe you me, repeating the test will only serve to increase the falsely high reading not, somehow, calm the child down… sheesh!  I, politely, explained that we do this every month and no one has ever had the balls to try more than once insisted on trying to take her blood pressure reading more than necessary!  Especially since the initial reading was fine, despite the crying.  She shuffled out the door muttering about asking the other nurse.

When she returned she looked a little like she’d been thrown under the bus, and I don’t blame her, but I wasn’t through yet.  I asked her if she planned on dipping her urine before we left so we could make sure it was clean.  She wanted to know what she was looking for.  She wanted to know why we didn’t just send it to the lab.  I wanted to know why she hadn’t read the chart before she walked in here (score 274 against… game, set, match!).

The girl couldn’t help herself by this point.

“But why are you doing all this?”

So I explained all the symptoms, and the diagnosis etc.

“I’ve never even heard of that before” she whispered.

I did not roll my eyes.

Later when we were making our one hundredth next appointment our regular nurse came out.  I was a little ticked that she had sent in a student to work on Josselyn.  I know that students need to learn, and I am all for learning on real patients etc, but Joss is kind of a difficult case at the best of times.  We chatted a bit and she asked all the right questions.  And she asked about Joss’ diet, and she remembered Holly’s name, and I remembered why I like it there so much.  Besides, maybe Miss Know-Everything Student learned something that day.

I know when I was there, I made mistakes too.  I hope I learned from them.  I hope I am still learning.


19 Mar

I know that this is a poor excuse for a blog posting, and some might have noticed that I went 2 days in a row without posting.  Thank you for not inundating my inbox with complaints.  I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to keep this blog-a-day thing going while on vacation.  So… I’m sorry.

But today is our final day.  We are going to stop in Oakville to visit Aunt Jan, Uncle John, and this place.  We are also going to visit quickly with Joan and then HOME!

So, this is a cop-out blog because I am busy packing, and eating crepes.  But there is a finale!!

The Big reveal from this post!

That is a picture of Bronwyn, taken March 2008.  And to all of you who made the comment that you can tell by the eyes are absolutely right.  I almost didn’t post the picture because I thought the eyes were a dead give-away.  But there you have it, TWINS!

Cows are the enemy!

2 Mar

Well, at least for the month of March.  Along with blog-a-day March, we are also “celebrating” dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free March in the Howarth House.

Why would you DO that?!?!? I can hear you wonder.

It’s an experiment to see if Josselyn would benefit from a more restrictive diet.  I have already concluded (based on 3 weeks of loosely conducted research) that Josselyn is allergic to cow’s milk protein.  When I removed dairy from her diet, her stools loosened (if you aren’t privy to Josselyn’s every bowel movement, or are new to the blog or something… Joss has been constipated since birth.  And yes, I know the definition of constipated, I am an RN), and her disposition brightened.

And, I am not the only person to notice.

I have been getting comments from everyone who has been in contact with her these last few weeks about how happy she’s been lately.  She is still a moody, spirited child, but she is a toddler, and she is Josselyn, and I need to come to terms with the fact that she is what she is, and that even eliminating every allergen known to man is not going to make her less high-strung.

That being said, she is a new child.  Definitely.

We saw the NP this morning, and she was very supportive.  We are going on an elimination diet for at least a month, after which we can begin to reintroduce probable culprits and watch for reactions.

I am nervous about cooking for a family of 5 with so many restrictions in place, but I believe it is the fastest, and most efficient way to modify her diet to best accommodate her needs in the long run.  I do not believe she has Celiac’s disease, but we want to cover all our bases.

The good news is that if she is dairy intolerant or allergic, she will likely outgrow it in a few years.

In the meantime, I picked up a few supplies:

I am hesitant to invest too much money into this experiment until I see some returns, but, from the Celiac/allergy community: any suggestion?  Any foods I should try/stay away from?  Any brands better than others?  Any advice would be appreciated.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging to bring you this announcement…

12 Jan

I have known for several weeks that something was wrong with Josselyn.  She wasn’t eating, and was more miserable than normal.  We went to see the doctor before Christmas and she advised that we return after the holidays if she wasn’t improving.

When we got back from Christmas vacation, Bruce noticed that she had these white splotches in her mouth and I found a suspect rash on her bum.  “Yeast”, I declared, after doing a bit of research.  “I’ll bring her in on Monday”.

Monday arrived and the clinic was closed.  I felt bad leaving her suffering for another 24 (plus) hours so I brought her to the emerg in Renfrew.

Side Note:  I loved it there!  I could definitely see myself working there one day.  The staff was friendly.  The place was clean.  They were concerned with patient confidentiality.  It gave a good vibe.  Very reminiscent of my time at Bowmanville.

They were getting through patients quickly, but soon a bunch of cops and ambulances showed up.  I know what that means, and we made our way home.

The next day was walk-in at the clinic, but I decided to call and see if I could get an appointment anyway.  As luck (or God’s mercy) would have it there was a cancellation for 2 pm.

We showed up and our NP was immediately concerned.  She sent us for blood work, urinalysis, chest xrays and gave us a rinse for her mouth.  She made an appointment to see us again in 48 hours.

By the time Thursday arrived, the medicine had done its work and the mouth sores were healing.  Josselyn was finally eating and drinking again and the haunted, hunted, look of slow starvation was leaving her face.  The swelling went down, and the rash lost its angry appearance.  I was pleased.  We were told to return next Tuesday with another urine sample.

By the time Tuesday came I had convinced myself that she was fine, and that all her symptoms had just been due to dehydration.  Her urine came back clean, but her blood work showed elevated levels of ESR.  “I’m afraid that this is one more indicator in favour of our diagnosis”.

HSP it is.  The NP spoke at length to a paediatrician at CHEO and it was advised that we hold off treatment since her symptoms had abated.  I concurred.  The biggest complication at this point is kidney involvement, which means that we will be back to the clinic for weekly urinalysis and blood pressures.  After a month it will be dropped to monthly visits, then quarterly visits for a year.  She is more likely to suffer a recurrence in this year of monitoring, and we’ll have to be watching for symptoms.

All in all, her prognosis is excellent.  It will be more annoying than worrisome to collect urine samples from a pre-potty-trained stubborn child.

We would appreciate your prayers though.

Pray for me, please!

Funny story:

When we brought Joss to the lab to get her blood drawn, she was beside herself.  She was also so lethargic and ill by then that she didn’t give half the fuss she usually would.  When it was all over, they offered her a beautiful stuffed animal to take home.  She wouldn’t even look at the basket that was proffered.  I chose a border collie and assured the lady that she would love it when we got home…

It is Holly’s dog now.  Josselyn screams every time she sees it.  It is the same kind of toy that Lamby is and feels just like Lamby did in her- ahem- early years.  Holly refers to it as her “blood dog”.  Maybe her blood hound?!