Update: AFernieJourney 2

(Sincerest apologies if you are landing here from the link on our Christmas card! Should you wish to skip this post for something lighter, just scroll down… or go here)

Over the past month, (I can’t believe it’s been a month since most recent trip to the ER! Time flies) we’ve seen both Fern’s neurologist and cardiologist at OHSU and I just wanted to type up a quick update!

Following her seizures in the ER on black Friday, we were sent home with directions to follow-up with Fern’s neurologist and orders for a sedated MRI . The ER doctors started Fern on an anti-seizure medication  (Keppra) at the lowest possible dose that theoretically should raise the threshold at which she would have a seizure, hopefully preventing any more seizures. Her blood work also came back showing that she was severely anemic so we started her on an iron supplement that she’ll likely stay on until she starts ingesting more iron-rich foods.

Although it was tough to see our baby go under anesthesia, the MRI went very smoothly and the doctors were able to get great pictures of her brain. She tolerated the sedation well and didn’t require any help keeping her vitals strong. Her blood pressure was somewhat alarmingly high during the test an the anesthesiologist felt that a follow-up with cardio was necessary considering her heart murmur.

Our appointment with cardio was VERY reassuring! Our doctor felt very confident that the VSD would still likely close on it’s own. Although most cases of this kind of VSD close sometime in the first year of life, the majority of those that don’t are still likely to close on their own within the first 5-6 years of life and don’t require surgery. The location of the VSD is not cause for concern and in his opinion, not something they would operate on unless it was causing some kind of symptoms. More or less, his words were, “You’ve got a green light from cardio!”

The MRI results also came back “unremarkable” and as far as we can tell for now, Fern’s brain looks totally normal. Obviously this is a huge relief and answered prayer but also leaves us a little in the dark as far as where to go next. Our neurologist recommended a referral to genetics next. Although we have already done extensive genetic testing (mostly when I was still pregnant) genetics may have some ideas on other syndromes, conditions, etc. to test for. She also recommended a referral to a pediatric ophthalmologist who might be able to provide another angle or opinion, also just checking another box/getting another “green light” to add to Fern’s chart. She also sent us home with a prescription for a rescue drug (a suppository sedative) to use in the case that we are home and Fern has another seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes. Theoretically she should be able to stay home even if she has another short/mild seizure but we, of course, wouldn’t hesitate to go back to the hospital if we felt like it was necessary or if anything new/different presented.

Cold and flu season has officially hit our home. I suspect that this is just a side effect of three young kids. Olivia came down with a nasty (likely flu?) bug on Christmas Eve. It would appear that Townes is next and we appreciate all the prayers in the world that we can keep it contained to just the two of them.

 

 

 

 

Family P: Christmas Newsletter 2017

2017 got off to a fairly slow start with lots of snow days, hygge, and pho. The kids took turns in a constant rotation of flu, cold, and stomach bugs; but thankfully, looking back, all I really remember is extra snuggles and home time. Fern’s adventures at OHSU continued with our first appointment in the CDRC (Childhood Developmental Rehabilitation Center) and we added a wonderful physical therapist, Helga, to her team of providers.

In February, we completed our first hike as a family of 5, in near-freezing temperatures, at Silver Falls State Park. Olivia celebrated her birthday with a dozen or so preschool friends by way of a unicorn-themed birthday party at our house, complete with a rainbow cake, piñata, and lots of glitter. Dan was able to sneak away for a weekend stay-cation with “his dudes”, experiencing Portland through kid-free eyes. 

In the Spring, we made our first “triangle trip” as a family of 5: Portland -> Dallas -> Orange County. Texas highlights included: a trip to the Dallas Arboretum with loads of pals, day trip to Ft. Worth to visit grandparents and a sweet new babe, some country-time with cousins and lots of filling up on salsa and Texas BBQ! Successful flights and juggling of 3 carseats and luggage for 5… California didn’t disappoint with always wonderful weather – Fern, especially, enjoyed loads of sunshine and tummy time in short sleeves! We made treks to Balboa and Laguna, rode by ferry and by boat, ate tacos at loco and walked on the pier. Gramma G treated Olivia to a special trip to the Magic Kingdom that she’s sure to say was the highlight of her year!


In April, we had big plans to make some of our first REAL home improvements (new carpet!) which were somewhat more complicated than we bargained for. Upon returning home from our two-week vacation, we spent a few days in our own beds only to be out again. The discovery of asbestos flooring (hidden beneath our current carpet) resulted in a two-week process of abatement, demo, and rescheduling installation. Living in a hotel room for two weeks with three kids five and under isn’t for the faint of heart! That said, Townes still celebrated his third year and the Easter Bunny managed to find us, in spite of the circumstances!

With fresh new carpet, in May we finally officially celebrated our little Townes man with a “pancake party” at home with a few of his close buds. Olivia danced around the Maypole wearing a crown of flowers at the May Day celebration at her preschool. For Memorial Day weekend, Papa G came for a quick visit and helped us check another project off the list: New stairs off the back of our house. We also managed hikes to Wachlella Falls in the Columbia River Gorge and a nature walk through the Redwoods at the Hoyt Arboretum.


As always, our plans to u-pick our way through summer went off without a hitch starting with strawberries in June. Trying our own hands at a green thumb, we planted, and successfully grew, several of our own veggies in our backyard garden this year. Olivia enjoyed her last few days of preschool and we kicked off summer with lots of playdates and splash pad adventures. Both kiddos are becoming great little hikers and enjoyed “Super Nature Adventures” to Tryon Creek State Park, Powell Butte Nature Park and Wapato Greenway on Sauvie Island.  July was packed with summer concerts at Kruger Farms, more berries, and a week-long escape to Redmond/Bend with Gramma G. Come August, Mamaw brought Remie for a special cousin visit and we hiked our last hike in the Gorge as we knew it before a massive fire broke out, scorching most of our favorite trails. Olivia enjoyed her first summer day-camp at the South West Community Center Community Gardens and Townes at Woodhaven Preschool camp. We walked in our neighborhood “Multnomah Days” parade and enjoyed the Solar Eclipse at 98% totality from our backyard. The kids would say the highlight of our summer was the addition of 6 laying hens to our family and our official embarkation on an urban homestead journey. Affectionately named, Waffles, Oakie, Lay-A, Coconut, and Sam and Ella, they are slowly adjusting to their extra-snuggly handlers. Because many will ask, we get 5-6 eggs a day in the spring/summer and 2-3 in the winter.

September was a big month of change for us. All within its first week, Olivia started Kindergarten at the neighborhood elementary school, Townes started preschool at our sweet Waldorf-inspired co-op, and Fern turned one! We spent the bulk of the month adjusting to our new routine and pick-up/drop-off schedules but were nonetheless lucky to squeeze in some Auntie and Uncle time with all my siblings in town for a long weekend. My brother, Christopher, also settled in to a pretty consistent schedule at work leaving us looking forward to “Chip Fridays.” I am so thankful for his help ushering us in to the weekend each week and the kids adore having a fresh audience.

Gramma G made an extra trip in October and got to experience the cusp of Fall in the Pacific Northwest with some misty morning hikes and apple picking. We were lucky with plenty of dry weekends for a few family pumpkin adventures followed by one very soggy field trip to Bella Organics on Sauvie Island. On Halloween, with a ballerina, train engineer and sleepy little bumblebee, we enjoyed trick or treating with Olivia’s kinder pals. Favorite fall hikes included Hoyt Arboretum, Forest Park “Witches’ Castle” and a “leaf walk” at Laurelhurst Park.

November brought lots of germs and sick bugs to our house. Fern had her first febrile seizure, in Fernie fashion, sending us to the ER by ambulance and keeping us on our toes.  Dan started a new job at Polysync – math, and self-driven cars is what he does. We welcomed the darker days with a celebration of light and giving with a sweet Waldorf tradition, a lantern walk through the forest, at Townes’s school. November was filled with long afternoons practicing reading fireside with hot apple cider and popcorn. We hosted Thanksgiving with Auntie B and Uncle Chip and enjoyed a fabulous ballet performance starring none other than Olivia Kate Pittman. We “opted outside” and selected our annual Noble Fir at a Christmas tree farm in Sherwood. Unfortunately, Friday also brought on Fern’s second and third seizures and we spent 24 hours in the ER running all sorts of tests. A black Friday indeed.


Thankfully, December brought unusually dry weather and we’ve been fortunate to enjoy lots of Christmas activities outside! Townes walked in his first spiral walk at Woodhaven, another wonderful Waldorf tradition. The children walk to the center of a spiral of evergreen branches where they light a candle, then retrace their steps back to their families. Singing and watching the light in the room grow was such a wonderful reminder of the light we carry within, and the importance of sharing it with others during this season. The days are extra short here; sunset on the solstice is at 4:29 pm! I’ve really come to enjoy the opportunity to spend extra time creating coziness and warmth at home. We’re still working our way through a long list of advent actives and looking forward to a solstice hike, the grotto lights, Peacock Lane, and spending lots of our hygge time with family and friends!


We are, again, so thankful for the enormous amount of support and love we’ve felt from our friends and family this year as we navigate through becoming a family of 5 and the ongoing FernieJourney. This has definitely been a year of growing deeper in many of our relationships and friendships (far and near) and we are profoundly grateful for our “village.”  Our plans for next year include a summertime trip with friends to the San Juan Islands, celebrating both grandmas turning the big 6-0, some home improvements, and hopefully dipping our toes in the Pacific. Who knows, maybe 2018 will be the year we brave a campsite with kids?!

We sincerely hope that your holiday season is filled with love, light, and peace!

Dan

“I subsist on a steady diet of coffee, tacos, and math papers.  After the tire fire that is our political predicament became inevitable, I took an interest in the political and economic philosophies of myriad leftists.  The ones who resonated with me the most are the midcentury Critical Theorists and the Frankfurt School, and how could they not:

“I’ve been listening to the radio today, and it’s got me thinking about Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment. Which could ultimately be reduced to: Capitalism gives us existential cavities, because we’re so broken at the end of a work day, we just want to consume cultural M&M’s. Wallace talks about this in Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. Paraphrasing: if all you consume is this, you will die. In a meaningful way, you will die. But his assessment does not include the cause, only the symptom. It’s not about incremental fixes, filling those cavities, those holes in our souls, with the occasional square meal. It’s a complete change in diet. Art could save the world.”  – From my own notes this year.

These inclinations lead to me joining up with the Democratic Socialists of America, and although time does not permit much activism, I at least make it to monthly meetings to get updates from the folks who do.

Because of our adventures with Fern, I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with the big kids just the three of us and our favorite outing is, and has been, Hopworks by way of Powell’s.”

Meg

On a first name basis with the Instacart and Prime-Now shoppers, I am super thankful for the multitude of grocery delivery options and am proud to say that it’s been months since I set foot in the grocery store with 3 kids in tow! Meal planning, Pinteresting and scouting fun stuff to do, is how I spend the few moments each morning before the kiddos wake up. On the board at Woodhaven, I’ve really enjoyed playing an integral role in directing our little Waldorf co-op. Cooking, cleaning and chauffeuring fill most of my days but I sincerely find so much joy in some of this mundanity. Watching our kids grow and change and helping them become good humans is the most rewarding work. Still dreaming of the day the yoga mat will stop collecting dust and showers are a more regular thing but for now I find pride in my ability to just be the glue that holds us together (with Dan, of course). Currently enjoying the research phase of all things urban homestead and look forward to lots of home projects in the near future.

Olivia

If you hadn’t guessed already, Olivia is really into ballet at the moment and we have plans to get her started in some classes this Spring. She is loving Kindergarten and is becoming an excellent writer and reader. She loves handling the chicken chores (at least the fun ones) and is an expert at both wrangling and snuggling. She’s an excellent conversationalist, never leaves without a big hug and is blowing our minds with how self-aware and empathic she is becoming. This year has brought a new-found confidence and level of independence that we’ve been waiting for. Olivia (mostly) appropriately dresses herself everyday for school, can whip up a personal batch of guacamole, and loves to fetch the mail from the mailbox solo. Her favorite foods are breakfast burritos and pho, just like her mama.


Townes

Townes is sweet and mild; such a snuggler. He has really blossomed in preschool and most days at pick-up can’t wait to tell me all about what he did, who he played with and what the snack was. On days home, he is quite the taskmaster and loves to help with laundry and dishes. Playing with trains, Magnatiles, animals, and marbles are his favorite solo activities. Anything with a button or switch and you can bet that this little dude wants to see what it will do. He’s a tinkerer and thinker – always wanting to understand how things work. While just barely on the growth chart, he’s a slender little fella who, like his Dayda, loves chicken tacos! One-on-One time with this little guy is priceless, he looks forward to Maplewood Coffee dates with mama and going to Powell’s with Dayda.

Fern

Fern is so sweet and easy going. Just happy to be held, to watch and wait for someone to engage her, she mostly qualifies as an “easy baby”. I am thankful that Fern’s story is just a tad bit different, as some of her developmental delays have really allowed me to soak up just a tiny bit more time with her in the infant stage. Now sitting unassisted, doing some standing, lots of clapping and smiling, she’s excelled so much with physical therapy and we couldn’t be more proud of how hard she’s working to overcome. In typical 1-year old fashion, she loves getting into everything, loves to play with anything she’s not allowed to and still puts everything in her mouth (including, but not limited to: faces, fingers, hair, and anything paper, plastic or resembling a wrapper.) She loves anything that makes sound and feels like such a big kid when her big brother and sister include her in their games! She loves guacamole, hummus, and chili and makes a huge mess at every meal. Always a positive force, she truly is the perfect completion of our family. 

 

More Pictures Here:

Instagram // @mmoguu

Instagram // @pittman_

Facebook // Megan

Facebook // Daniel

Twitter // @pittma_

 

Update: #AFernieJourney

My sincerest apologies for the giant gap in documentation of Fern’s story here on this blog. As I’m getting ready to write out annual family newsletter, I’ve realized that I never finished or published Fern’s Birth Story over a year ago. I’d like to attempt a quick catch-up here although, I’m afraid it will likely be the cliff notes.

Sept. 8th 2016 Fern was s born at 37 weeks with no major complications. The muscular ventricular septal defect (VSD) that we saw at our fetal echogram at 19 weeks was still present, resulting in a murmur but did not require surgery. Cardiology ordered follow-up at 1 year.

During the first 6 weeks, we battled strep, flu, stomach bugs, galore at home, but luckily Fern and I both stayed pretty isolated from the germs. Around 6 weeks, some intense colic settled in and we started down a long road to discovery with a lactation consultant. We ultimately decided that a combination of constipation and food sensitivities could be causing her troubles and I experimented with cutting dairy and eggs from around 6 weeks to 8 months! We tried various homeopathic and probiotics and found the  most success with a Chinese herbal called “Easy Going.”

Between 4 and 6 months we started having some concerns that Fern wasn’t meeting developmental milestones. The first thing we noticed was that Fern wasn’t smiling (granted, she was crying and screaming a lot, even in calm times, she was less expressive than “normal”). She didn’t smile until just a week shy of 6 months. This was also right around the time she started rolling over. For perspective, these are both milestones that babies start reaching at more like 3-4 months.

At 6 months we were referred to a developmental pediatrician at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Dr. Brian Rogers, who gave Fern her first official diagnosis of congenital hypotonia (low tone). His assessment was essentially that Fern had “significant delays” and that the cause was more likely than not neurological. (This did mean that it was not likely a muscular disorder!) The scariest on the list of possible diagnoses was Cerebral Palsy and although we don’t suspect CP, we haven’t effectively ruled it out. He ordered a test for Prader-Willi Syndrome that came back negative. We reviewed the results of the Micro-Array (Genetic Testing) that we had done when I was pregnant and found nothing interesting.

The developmental delays that Fern has make her eligible for enrollment in a program called Early Childhood Intervention, through Portland Public Schools that is FREE to us. We have a wonderful occupational therapist who comes to our home once a week to check in with Fern and work on developmental milestones.

At this point we also started with weekly physical therapy with a wonderful provider, Helga Lang, who has been working with Fern to start hitting some of those gross motor milestones – rolling, sitting, transitional movement, pulling to stand. She is such a kind and gentle woman and probably the single person, outside of our family, who Fern is most comfortable with.

Around 7 months, we were referred to the OHSU feeding clinic to assess Fern’s feeding abilities. We determined that although feeding was difficult for her it was something we were effectively achieving (she was gaining plenty of weight and overall successful at nursing, even if she was miserable) and that we didn’t need to do further studies until we started solids.

At 9 months, Fern’s heart murmur remained unchanged so we were referred to the cardiologist at OHSU who was unimpressed and saw no urgency in monitoring her through their office. Their direction was to reassess every few months but their prediction was that the VSD would still likely close over time.

We also had another appointment with the feeding clinic at OHSU to get some help with transitioning to solid foods. Swallowing, chewing and coordination are still difficult for Fern and although she is making progress with solids, she’s still “several months behind.” I am so thankful that i have successfully been able to nourish her with essentially breastmilk alone. I still have an ample supply and she seems satiated by just nursing. That said, since she’s never taken a bottle successfully, that means that in 15 months I haven’t been away from Fern for longer than 4 hours.

At 1 year, Fern is sitting up on her own, developing at her own pace in most areas. Her social and emotional development are the only things that are relatively “normal” and she’s a generally happy and easy baby. We were referred at this point to a pediatric neurologist at OHSU, Dr. Erika Finanger. Her assessment was similar to Dr. Rogers, identifying Fern’s delays as primarily gross motor, with some cognitive delay. Since Fern is making progress with weekly physical therapy we are encouraged that she will eventually “catch-up”. We agreed that an MRI was likely the next step but that we would wait until she turned 2.

At 14 months, Nov.1st, I was home with Fern and Townes, Dan had just left to take Olivia to school, and I had just climbed back in bed with a mildly under-the-weather Fernie. I had taken her temperature to make sure she wasn’t running fever and at 100.5 determined that if she had higher fever after I’d fed her and let her nap that I would give her Motrin. After a few minutes of feeding, she began convulsing in my arms and it took me a few seconds to realize what was happening. The seizure lasted a little over a minute. This was long enough for me to get up with her in my arm and walk from our bedroom (where Townes was thankfully watching a show) to the dining room where I grabbed my phone to call our pediatrician. When I reached the after-hours recording, I decided that a 911 call was necessary and hung up to call. Fern was still convulsing about half way through my emergency call. The firetruck arrived in less than 5 minutes (paramedics shortly after) and they took Fern’s temp at it had only climbed 1 degree since I’d taken it 15 min or so prior. Because of her medical history they felt that a trip to the ER was necessary. Luckily, Dan was still close to home and by the time we were strapped in and ready to go he was home to hang with Townes. When we arrived at the hospital, sure enough, her fever had spiked to 104.1 The ER confirmed that this was likely nothing other than a typical febrile seizure and sent us home with direction to manage her fever and not let it spike.

Certainly a terrifying experience but I know plenty of kiddos who have had febrile seizures and we all bounced back fairly quickly from the experience. The illness that initially caused the fever resolved and a little cough remained but for the most part, Fern seemed to be her happy, healthy self.

The few days leading up to Thanksgiving, Fern’s cough seemed to return but since she otherwise seemed to feel fine, we weren’t too concerned. Black Friday. We had been out to a u-cut tree farm to cut down our Christmas tree with Auntie B and Uncle Chip when she started to run low grade fever. I had given her Motrin around 4 and she went to sleep around 6:30. She was asleep in my arms at 8 when I woke her up to give her more medicine. Her temperature on our infrared thermometer read 104.7 and I didn’t have time to take a rectal temp before deciding that we were going to need to take her in. As I was on the phone with the pediatrician on-call, she started having another seizure. Similar to her first, this seizure also lasted around a minute. Towards the end of the seizure Fern’s lips turned slightly blue and it was clear that she wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Just as we were hanging up with the doctor to call 911, the seizure stopped and her color improved. We threw her in the car and went as fast as possible to the ER. As soon as they had her fever managed, they ordered a chest x-ray and blood work to rule out all major suspects that could be causing the high fever. It took 6 nurses over an hour to get her IV started. Since it was a holiday weekend IV therapy and PANDA (pediatric IV therapy) weren’t on call so they called up to both NICU and PICU to get some baby vein experts. At some point in the night, Fern began convulsing again, this time the convulsions were more like whole-body twitches (like startling) every 3-5 seconds for 5 minutes. At the 5 minute mark, concerned about her oxygenation, the doctors gave her a drug called versed, that stopped the seizure and sedated her. At this point, they ordered a quick scan MRI and we started discussing  a lumbar puncture to rule out meningitis. When the chest x-ray, blood, urinalysis and MRI all came back normal, we decided it was safe to assume that the fever was being caused by nothing more than a cold and that although she was “at risk for developing pneumonia” there was nothing we could do more than manage her symptoms and keep her fever reduced. After 10 hours in the ER, we were released again with orders to manage her fever and follow-up with our neurologist for an EEG and comprehensive MRI. Fern was also started on an anti-seizure medication called Keppra.

After being released from the ER, Fern’s cough worsened and although we were able to keep her fever under control. Initially we were very concerned about some developmental set-backs. It seemed like, overnight, we had lost almost 3 months of physical therapy work. Fern wasn’t even holding her head up on my shoulder, much less sitting, rolling, trying to scoot. After a week, we were still suppressing her fever and with lungs full of gunk our pediatrician agreed that we could safely call the illness pneumonia and prescribed an antibiotic and an albuterol inhaler. 5 days of antibiotic and Fern FINALLY seems back to normal. Her tone has mostly returned and once again she’s proven stronger than we give her credit for.

We were able to get in for an EEG last week and the results suggested that there is no seizure activity. Obviously fantastic news but not enough to understand why the second seizure in the ER happened. Our sedated MRI is scheduled for Friday and we’ll have a follow-up with our neurologist sometime before Christmas.

Please excuse and brevity, typos, grammatical errors, etc. 3 kids and this update has been produced over the span of 5 days, in 15-20 min increments of time… Your prayers, well wishes and love are FELT and we cannot say enough how much we appreciate the support we have been fortunate to receive from all of our friends and family. More on this #AFernieJourney to come.

 

XX

Megan

Family P: Christmas Newsletter 2016

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Maybe the rate at which we experience time is a function of age and number of children.  This year, we increased on both of those inputs.. 2016 brought the longest days and months as we waited, wondered, and prayed for our baby Fern. As a result, our year was full of amazing adventures and the building of the most wonderfully supportive village in the Pacific Northwest. That said, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that we were mostly, and frankly are still, in survival mode. No doubt, there were lots of exciting moments in 2016 – but none as amazing as the addition of our sweet miracle, Fern.

Last year, an easy theme emerged as I recapped our year: The seasons seemed to mirror our experiences during our first year in Portland. The flow of words came unimpeded… Effort or not, this year has been about embracing chaos with happy hearts and positive attitudes. So here goes.

[Note: this was written of the course of 8 hours, mostly with an infant wrapped to my chest, while I served 3 meals, no less than 7 snacks, changed numerous diapers, mediated lots of toddler conflict, explained where babies come from and why we have to cover our mouths when we cough. I hung some garland, helped the kids with a less-than pinterest worthy craft and *almost* swept the floors and got the laundry put away.]

Long gone is the appeal of a wild night out on New Year’s Eve. Maybe our desire to be hip and feel young will return one day when the kids actually sleep through the night, but for now a celebration in “the Tiki Basement” complete with tamales, guacamole and an epic ping pong tournament seemed ideal. This sentiment yielded a new tradition with the bringing in of 2016.. Family Gorham traded SoCal sunshine for a New Year’s celebration in the cold and rainy Pacific Northwest. Luckily, we enjoyed a few crisp, dry days that allowed for a trip to the Gorge and wine tasting in the Willamette Valley.

As we approached the anniversary of our move to Portland, we began to feel settled in our new home. Finally feeling like true Oregonians ourselves, we learned that we were expecting our first (and only!) native. In February we celebrated Olivia’s 4th birthday with a party of Olivia’s own creation: The Rainbow Party — rainbow cake, playdoh and decorations.

In March, at around 11 weeks pregnant, our adventures with Fern really began. During what would become an emotional few months, we were fortunate to have the support of our families and an amazing village of friends. We waited anxiously, week after week, for a miracle. You can read more here, here and here about our journey with Fern.

In April, we celebrated Townes’s 2nd birthday, camp style, complete with a campfire cake and e springtime creek play. As I entered my second trimester, we shared the news of our sweet new addition with friends and family. We celebrated Easter with the first of many epic egg hunts in our front yard. We ventured to Woodburn for the Oregon Tulip festival and made multiple trips out to the Gorge to hike Olivia, now officially ambulatory on her own accord,, conquered 3+ mile treks. She has become quite the little hiker!

May brought gradual improvements in Fern’s sonograms, and by 16 weeks were very close to “normal.” Now on summer’s cusp, we welcomed the longer, warmer days. Again, we u-picked our way through the summer, trying our best to stock the chest freezer for the winter months: Strawberries and cherries in June, blueberries and raspberries in July and peaches in August. Dan made a trip in June to CA to help “Uncle Chip” move North. It was perfect timing.e needed a landing spot in PDX while he got settled, and I was in desperate need of an extra set of hands. I honestly don’t know how I would have survived this summer without his help.

We celebrated my 30th birthday,and the beginning of my third trimester, with a trip to Bend. We adventured in the Santiam State Forest at Three Pools in Opal Creek, had our first family hot springs experience at Paulina [pronunciation: PAUL-EYE-NAH] Lake, and enjoyed some amazing meals. With August came the return of weekly doctors visits  for fetal monitoring. This, of course, on top of acupuncture and chiropractor visits and our schedule seemed packed. The kiddos were lucky enough to see all three grandparents for summer visits this year. We shared concerts at Kruger Farms, picked berries at Smith Berry Barn, and hiked the Gorge.

September’s arrival also meant Fern’s arrival, and we started making plans. We were almost certain that I would need to be induced a few weeks early due to the general “high risk” nature of my pregnancy. With induction scheduled for 9/21, I was thrilled to be the parent helper for Olivia’s first day in the “Sunflower” class at her Waldorf-inspired preschool. The following day at my fetal monitoring appointment, with concern about my blood pressure, my doctor and I made the decision that induction that night was the safest call. Our perfect Fern Opal was born the next day, September 8th, at 5:05pm, 7lbs 4.4oz. I’d love to provide you a link where you could read Fern’s whole birth story, but alas,  that has yet to be documented (#thirdbabyproblems). The most uncomplicated part of my pregnancy with Fern was labor and delivery. It was remarkably fast and easy; I had a short, active labor and successfully avoided any unnecessary intervention. Townes and Olivia were over the moon to meet their new baby sister and we were anxious to get home and start settling in as a family of FIVE. Fern’s post-birth echocardiogram revealed a still-present muscular VSD (something we’d identified somewhere around the 19th week of pregnancy), resulting in a grade 2 murmur. Thankfully, this is not cause for immediate concern, and will only require a follow-up with a pediatric cardiologist at 6 months. We were blown away with the outflowing of support and love from our friends and family,especially our Woodhaven community. Through delicious meals (and wine!), rides to school for Olivia, and entertainment for Townes, we survived those first few months.

Outings were sparse., Fern’s first was a trip to the u-pick apple orchard where we collected almost 20 pounds of apples and pears.  Dan’s 6 week paternity leave allowed for him to volunteer as the parent helper in Olivia’s class several times. It was an experience he would say was  transformative, validating our choice for more gentle and peaceful parenting approach. After the first day, he came home saying that it was one of the highlights of his year!  The big kids loved having Dan home and enjoyed numerous “Dayda Dates” to the OMSI, Powell’s, “The Coffee Store” and of course, Hopworks. Qhen Dan returned to work, we welcomed more family help, and I started practicing our new normal tackling daunting tasks like the grocery store with more kids than hands and getting three kids in and out of car seats and gear in the rain.

Halloween in the PNW is challenging for small trick-or-treaters. Not only is it likely to be raining, but by October, “the darkness” has started to set in. Shorter days with earlier sunsets, coupled with the lack of sidewalks or light pollution in our quadrant of Portland bring a different Halloween experience. Still, set on trick-or-treating this year, we braved our neighborhood streets with a forest fairy, a knight, and a colicky baby.

Some of our first big storms came in the first weeks of November, turning our creek into a rushing stream (sometimes flooding into a lake) and the promise of a very wet rainy season became apparent. Since this isn’t a political statement, we’ll just casually move right into the next (fittingly dark) season.

We enjoyed the lantern walk at Olivia’s school, and despite the pouring rain, we welcomed the darker days with a celebration of light and giving. After hosting for 27 last year, our Thanksgiving was wonderfully casual and intimate this year with just the five of us. I stayed in PJs, cooking all day, Olivia handled the decorations and “turkey games” and Townes (my biggest helper in the kitchen) cut all the green beans by himself with his “kid knife.”

For Dan’s favorite of our family’s Christmas mores, we selected our very first Nordman Fir, Hillary Nordman,  retiring Juan Noble in favor of the healthiest and happiest of the u-cut trees, while also maybe paying homage to our first almost lady president. After cutting and carrying our 6.5 ft beauty through the forest, we enjoyed a late lunch (and good beer) at cozy spot in the country. Kicking off the advent season, we gathered with our Woodhaven community to participate in a spiral walk. The children walk to the center of a spiral of evergreen branches where they light a candle, then retrace their steps back to their families. Singing and watching the light in the room grow was such a wonderful reminder of the light we carry within, and the importance of sharing it with others during this season.

We’re looking forward to some fun Christmas outings including: The festival of lights at the Grotto, watching the Christmas Ships from the bank of the Willamette, and visiting hipster Santa downtown. In a year with basically zero travel, we’ve been super lucky to have our families all here to visit. Plans for next year include a 2+ week “triangle trip” to both Texas and California over spring break, and hopefully our first family camping trip over the summer! We sincerely hope that your Christmas season to be filled with love, light and peace!

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Olivia: Four and a half and will tell you her life story if you so much as glance in her direction. She loves chatting up adults and telling them all about her age, siblings ages, and her school. She still has very strong opinions about “soft pants” and what gets packed in her lunch. She loves “dragon tears,” playing doctor, and dogs. Chickens & a coop are on the top of her birthday wishlist (we told her that Santa doesn’t bring live animals and we’re on board with chickens, in fact they’re already in the works for Family P: Spring/Summer 2017). She has become quite the artist, practicing drawing pictures of her friends, family and school. You can often find her sitting at the kitchen table, listening to “Magic Treehouse” books on tape, doodling cards for her friends. She’s mastered writing most of her letters and loves to help me write “to-do” lists.

Favorite Colors: Red and Pink.

Favorite Foods: “Flat Cheese Sandwiches” (not-grilled, American cheese sandwiches). “Bongo beans and Rice” (Garbanzo Beans, Brown Rice and Aminos) and “Noodle Soup” AKA Pho from TuTus (Our favorite neighborhood food truck).

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Townes: Two and a half and becoming quite the chatty little guy. He managed to inch his way on to the growth chart this year. He’s still very reserved in new situations and environments; it takes him a tick to warm up. He officially weaned around 22 months but  is nonetheless still quite attached to his Mama. He’s always practicing all things “big kid”, following Olivia’s lead, and likes to “do it myself.”  He’s perfectly content being sandwiched in between a big “tita” and a little “Fernita” as long as he still gets adequate snuggle time from Mommy and Dayda. Some of his favorite things include: binoculars, flashlights and anything with a button, cord or plug. Loves to paint and get creative at art class at the Multnomah Art Center. Starting to get the hang of sitting on the big potty and fingers crossed will “potty train” without much assistance. Wakes up hungry and although picky, is a great little eater. Loves to help himself and knows exactly where to find the “Damn Crackers” (Perfectly endearing pronunciation of Graham). He’s a big helper in the kitchen and has become the expert potato scrubber, carrot peeler and chopper of all things. We never imagined it possible after Olivia, but Townes really is an even goofier kid. One of his favorite phrases is “oh! a joke!” followed by forced laughter. Refers to himself as “Tao Tao” or “Tao Bamboo”  and is constantly keeping us in stitches. He’s a little risk taker, not afraid to climb up on stools, counters, and chairs, resulting in the most adorable little chipped front tooth earlier in the year.

Favorite Foods: Seaweed, Any kind of pasta, Crock Pot Chicken tacos, “Ah-Wos” (Olives), muffins and all kinds of fruit.

Favorite Color: “I really want a flashlight”

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Fern: A “chunker-monker” with many nicknames. Depending on who you ask… she’s Fernie, Fernita, Tenacious Fernacious, Ferniture, the list goes on. A challenging temperament, she’s certainly the completion of our family. Colicky as she may be, her presence is such an amazing miracle and we’re reminded of it frequently. Hard as it is, we’re rejoicing in every difficult moment in this newborn stage. My best nurser, with the biggest tummy issues, we’ve at least (at LAST!) been blessed with a good sleeper! This girl sleeps a pretty predictable 6 hour stretch almost every night for which we are super grateful! Loves her paci, keeping a watchful eye on her big brother and sister, and being worn. THis snuggle bug, loves tub time with Mama and watching Dayda play his guitar. She’s already scared us with more ER/ Urgent care visits than her siblings combined. We’re all absolutely and completely in love with our little Fern and are enjoying every moment of the fleeting infant stage. The longest, shortest time.

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Meg – How many pair of yoga pants do I own? At least one pair for every day of the week. How long has it been since I last hit the mat? Let’s just say, I’m grateful that athleisure is officially a trend. Between the dusty, dirty days on the u-pick farm and the wet and muddy preschool pick-ups, I very rarely find myself motivated to really “get dressed.” This year has left me incredible thankful for lots of things,even more than spandex pants and baseball caps: some of the greatest friends – far and near, who have really come together to support our family during a really tough year. Survival mode has me saying “yes” to the big kids a little more often and indulging in take out, grocery delivery services and  coming 2017: a housekeeper!? I’m practicing choosing joy among the piles of laundry and crusty floors.

Hobbies include: breastfeeding, calendaring, pinteresting, and meal-planning.

Favorite Foods: Vanilla Hemp Latte, Coconut LaCroix, Pinot Noir, and anything I can eat easily without spilling on Fern’s head.  

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Dan – Between lots of doctor’s visits, sonograms, and fetal monitoring in the first half of the year and a generous paternity leave, Dan was actually home a lot! He successfully escaped for a weekend camping in Big Sur en route CA to OR in June and made some time to enjoy some of his favorite bands as they came through Portland. This was a year of cooking for him.  He’s learning the basics, now, but has generally assumed responsibility for breakfast every weekend morning.. Monday through Friday you can still find this dude at Intel, computing about computer stuff. He’s professionally into category theory, compilers, and hacking on distributed consensus problems,all while listening to lots of bones music and occasionally brushing up on his ping pong skills.

Hobbies include: Telling dad jokes, reading books, hiking on trails, camping in tents, listening to tunes, and the constant mission to grow as an empathetic human being.

I say it every year, this annual recap is really for us, but I really hope you enjoyed catching up with us too and would love to hear from you 🙂

Catch up with us Here: megan.gorham@gmail.com and Here: danielscottt@gmail.com

More Pictures Here:  @large_arborist and Here:  @MMOGUU

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Update: Fern (32 Weeks)

Well… my posts certainly aren’t getting any closer together which is a beautiful thing. I’d love to say that the past 10 weeks had been completely uneventful and that my second trimester had been all precious baby kicks and sweet and salty cravings… And although we’ve still been on a bit of a roller coaster with our sweet baby Fern, I’m absolutely thrilled to be looking at the end of my third trimester carrying the most perfect, wiggly baby girl. The past few months, I’ve continued to feel a little bit of improvement with my energy level but am definitely slowing down at we approach the home stretch.

At a few of my appointments between 24-28 weeks my blood pressure readings had been slightly elevated. My doctor ordered a few tests to determine if I was showing early signs of preeclampsia… Luckily, since there have been no traces of protein in my urine, no swollen extremities or vision changes – we’ve continued to feel confident that I’m just experiencing hypertension with pregnancy. My doctor has since had me monitor my blood pressure at home with direction to call if I was over 140/80. Of course, the first time that happened, we happened to be in Bend on vacation.. and I was successful at laying down and resting long enough to relax and bring my rates down without an ER visit. Slowly my doctor has altered her recommendation (considering my blood pressure) from induction at 39 weeks… to 38 weeks… to “between 37-38 weeks” depending on how things progress. After a long ER visit on Tuesday night (my blood pressure was through the roof 153/106!) followed by a 24 hour migraine (surely a result of the stress) we suspect that induction “between 37-38 weeks” is probably reality. Currently praying that I don’t develop true preeclampsia symptoms and can more safely attribute my symptoms to anxiety and stress.

We did finally decide on a doula and I’m feeling a little less anxious about what my actual labor and delivery process will look like considering induction. The fact that Fern’s birth could be as little as 5 weeks away is SUPER exciting and wonderful! Daniel and I were just talking yesterday about how we’ve both had that same calendar realization – Fern is coming NEXT MONTH. He’ll likely start paternity leave around Labor Day to be able to be home with us the last week or two then be off 4 weeks after. Your continued prayers and support are so appreciated.

 

Much Love and Gratitude,

M

Update: Fern (15 Weeks)

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For the past month, our weekly appointments meant holding our breath until the sonographer announced that Fern had a heartbeat but only letting that relief sink in skin-deep, knowing that the doctor would also have to address any changes positive/negative. A few weeks in, after hearing that the fluid around Fern’s belly had disappeared was about the same time we decided to share the news of our sweet new addition.

Yesterday we had another our weekly appointment (15 Weeks). A combination of lack of childcare and wanting to include our kids in the process of getting to bond with new baby sister landed us in the same waiting room as a family. Still anxious, we waited quietly for the sonographer to find a heartbeat. Olivia was mesmerized by the sound – We all were, but seeing her face was priceless. Another clear view of her heart and anatomy and significantly smaller cystic hygroma measurement. One of our doctors came in after reviewing the images a wanted to take a second look for herself. She felt confident enough to say, “If you had come in today for your first dating scan, we would NOT have mentioned anything to you about the hygroma – or anything abnormal!.” My heart stopped. Baffled and confused, overwhelmed… again, we kind of sat in shock. The same way I remember feeling at our first sonogram, like the world stood still and my brain and heart didn’t know exactly how to process. Have you ever felt an overwhelming sense of God’s presence? Sometimes for me it’s chills or overwhelming happiness – the kind that forces you to smile… but this was different, like a really big warm hug. The kind that holds you really tight and you don’t want to end. The kind we should embrace our spouses, kids, friends and families with. Love is amazing. In this season, I’ve experienced the most amazing outpouring of love for our family. All of your sweet words, gifts, (um… delicious food!), prayers and support  have been so incredible. We feel it. I have never felt so surrounded by love and I want to thank you ALL from the bottom of my heart – it means the world to us.

Of course we’re still praying for complete resolution and for a clear genetic panel results (micro array) to come back in the next few weeks. We will likely stay in the Fetal therapy clinic for several weeks to come, possibly throughout pregnancy, and will probably still do more testing around 20 weeks on Fern’s heart for peace of mind. But for NOW, our exam showed only one thing, a perfectly healthy sweet baby girl, sitting “criss-cross applesauce” with long bony fingers (Olivia is convinced she waved at her!) and an adorable Pittman nose.

Fern

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Because there is not a great place to start this story and since we’re quite honestly still very raw, I’m going to attempt to share mostly just what the facts are today and ask for support and prayer as we embark on this journey. I should add a disclaimer or trigger warning but after turning to a number of friends and community I am realizing how much more common these types of scenarios are and how much I don’t want to contribute to the masses of people who feel like they can’t or aren’t allowed to talk about it. Here’s our story:

Wednesday March 9th, at 11 weeks pregnant (adjusted 11 weeks + 2 days) Dan and I went in to get a sonogram at OHSU (Oregon Health and Sciences University). We’d told very few people that I was pregnant, only a few close friends and had just really begun to share the news with our families. Thrilled to be finally getting the first look at our sweet babe (we’d known I was pregnant since around 5 weeks but didn’t have an ultrasound scheduled until 11 weeks, which seemed like an eternity already.) With two healthy happy babes at home, and no other signals that anything unusual was happening with the pregnancy, we were completely caught off guard when the sonogram tech (after seeing a strong heartbeat – 162 beats per min! and seeing our sweet baby wiggle and wave) practically tossed one blurry sonogram photo at me and nearly ran out of the room. When she returned with not one, but TWO doctors, one of whom we learned was a genetic specialist we knew there was something seriously wrong. Dan could maybe give a more accurate account of what was said here – I truly heard the most horrifying silence – I could tell everyone was speaking, and even felt myself respond and ask questions, but all I can remember is silence – we were quickly ushered to the genetic counselor’s office where we learned that our baby had a cystic hygroma (fluid surrounding parts of the baby) resulting in some concerning NT measurements (Nuchal Translucency – 4.7mm, normal is under 2mm). We learned that although most of the cystic hygroma is near the baby’s spine/back there is a very small amount surrounding the baby’s belly. We immediately agreed to a CVS (a test that involves scraping the placenta for a small sample of tissue that can be cultured/grown to determine if baby has one of the major chromosome abnormalities, e.g. downs, turners. The perinatologist who performed this procedure was clear about her feelings that this baby would have a less than 5% chance of survival considering the ultrasound results and urged us to consider termination. We left the hospital heartbroken and confused – we were asked to consider our options and sent home to wait for the CVS results.

Friday March 10th, our CVS results came back clear, they were able to see that chromosomes 13, 18, and 21 were all normal and only 2 XX chromosomes…. Yep, a girl! – good news but unfortunately only an answer to what is NOT likely the cause. We officially transferred my care from the Midwife group to Fetal Therapy and met with our perinatologist, who specializes in genetic abnormalities. Considering the results of the CVS, her outlook was slightly more positive, although she still believes we fall into a 20% positive outcome likelihood. Past this, things are hard to put in writing, because the truth is, these are all the facts we know at this point.

A sweet and happy note, weeks ago, when we’d first told Olivia and Townes that we were going to have a new baby in our family, Olivia was insistent that we add the name Fern to our list of considerations. Moments after hearing that it was a girl, Dan and I both knew exactly WHO she was. We agreed that the kids (mostly Olivia) should be included and allowed to grieve and process with us… She knows that there many different outcomes and that Fern may get to be an angel before we ever get to meet or hold her.

Next steps will be a microarray panel (?) where they will test each of the other chromosomes – the CVS only looked at 13, 18, 21 and XX – and determine the likelihood of any of the more rare chromosome abnormalities. Unfortunately, if this test comes back clear and the cystic hygroma gets worse or starts to cover more parts of the body (or develops into fetal hydrous, basically an extreme case of cystic hygroma) we will still be a bit in the dark.  The most likely other cause of cystic hygroma, outside of genetic conditions, would be a congenital heart defect. Ranging from something that would prevent the baby from surviving  the next days/weeks/months… to something that could resolve itself during pregnancy… to something that could possible require surgery after birth. There are fortunately an overwhelming number of miracle stories where babies with these types of cystic hygroma / NT #s seen at around 11/12 weeks that miraculously resolve.

From here on out, we will have weekly sonograms to check baby’s heart rate and monitor any other changes or development. At around 17/18 weeks when we would typically have an anatomy scan, when we will be able to look at her heart more closely, we will have more of an idea of what type of defect is causing the hygroma. At 20 weeks we’ll have a fetal echogram and meet with a team of doctors including a pediatric cardiologist who will help us determine next steps.

Our prayers are big. We believe that God made my body to sustain and grow new life and we have faith that these problems are not too big to be fixed. We’re choosing to believe that our sweet Fern will thrive and we’ll get to hold her in our arms come September and get to raise her and see her grow into a happy and healthy little girl then into adulthood. I’ve already felt so much amazing support and love from our friends and family and we would appreciate your continued prayers, positive thoughts and support as we embark on this journey.

 

UPDATE:

 

March 24th, 2016: At our weekly sonogram, we got wonderful news that the fluid surrounding Fern’s belly has actually disappeared! An encouraging sign that her tiny body is working to resolve whatever abnormalities are causing the fluid build up. We were also able to get an almost complete anatomy scan at 13 weeks pregnant which was wonderful! Fern’s heartbeat is strong and we were able to look at 4 chambers of her heart, her kidneys, brain and vital anatomy. We were encouraged to hear our doctor say that if there was something major with her anatomy, it is most likely that we would have been able to identify it today. The cystic hygroma is still present but is limited to the area behind her neck and is still concerning. We are waiting on a Micro Array Panel that will hopefully rule out any other genetic abnormalities. We’ll continue to be seen weekly and will remain on course with the plan for a fetal echogram and complete anatomy scan between 16/18 weeks. Thank you for your continued prayers!

2012 Resolutions: Updated

The Pittman Family 2012 New Years Resolutions 

MEG

1. Exercise regularly to feel good and lose baby weight. Aim to be back at goal weight by June/July. Walk daily (with Durch). Pick-Up yoga again and practice strength training/toning through workout videos like Tracy Anderson Post Preg Workout and Metamorphisis.

June 2012 Update: Officially gained 58 pounds with Liv. The first 30 pounds came off with little to no effort at all. The second 30… I’m having to REALLY work for. Loosing about a pound a week by eating healthy and exercising as much as lil nugget will let me. She thinks it’s hilarious to watch me dance around like a fool with Tracy Anderson. As of today – I have 13 pounds to lose to achieve pre-baby weight. I still cannot fit in to a single pair of pre-prego jeans… but some of my looser “boyfriend” style pants and shorts are starting to fit again. THANK GOODNESS.

October 2012 Update: As of 2 weeks ago – I am officially back down to my pre-baby weight! Everyone promised me that as soon as I stopped stressing about it that the pounds would melt away… As skeptical as I was (and still am) the past few months have been so incredibly active that in addition to a slightly more conscience diet and a few sit-ups… and by a few… I mean – as many as I can get in before Olivia starts playing “climb the mommy.”

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Not even the holidays ruined my weight-loss marathon! And there’s that whole nursing an 11 month old baby thing… I’m telling you. BREAST FEED YOUR BABIES. I mean… who wouldn’t want to burn an extra 700-1000 calories a day. 

2. Slowly eliminate soda and sugar beverages from diet. Minimize to one a week. Drink more water. Choose tea instead of coffee. Take Vitamins.

June 2012 Update: Well.. I’m doing GREAT with the vitamins. Still taking these prenatals ( below) recommended by brother Gorham. As for cutting out soda… I’m still working on that. Attempting to cut back on caffeine and eventually cut out completely. 

Octover 2012 Update: Still doing great with minimizing sugar beverages but could definitely drink more water. As silly as it may sound – Dan and I both started drinking water during the day out of Tervis cups… which has REALLY helped. Also still taking a daily prenatal. Giving up coffee though… that’s just never going to happen.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Really have done a great job at minimizing soda and tea… coffee… not so much.

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3. Launch Internet business for reselling craigslist/ estate sale/ canton finds. Learn to Sew. Make & Sell Pillows and other handmade goods on Etsy.com Thrift More. Plan for Canton

June 2012 Update: I have had some success selling things we don’t on craigslist… but that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. (Unrelated note: I hate the word gotten but am too lazy to rephrase)

October 2012 Update:  Well.. I did learn how to sew a few weeks ago (Thanks Michelle!)… Now I just need a few good naps to practice my new skillz. Who’s up for a trip to Canton next weekend!?

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Maybe we can carry this resolution on to 2013… or at least the Thrifting More portion?

4. Be more supportive of Dan’s job search. Hold him accountable to actively seeking out new opportunities without getting discouraged.

June 2012 Update: DING DING DING… Completed! Dan took a new job as a Sr. Systems Administrator at Consuro/Enterhost a Data Center in Ft. Worth.

October 2012 Update: Dan’s job continues to be equal parts challenging and fulfilling… with lots more travel than we anticipated. 

END OF YEAR UPDATE: As many of you know, Dan accepted his 3rd job of 2012 in December… definitely an exciting time in his career!

5. Find a way to support financial needs through some kind of supplemental income.

June 2012 Update: I’ve failed miserably here so far. Yesterday I sold $14 worth of books we don’t read at Half Priced Books! …

October 2012 Update: The closest I’ve come to supplemental income is filing a petition to recapture our 2010/2011 homestead exemption. Hopefully in the next few months we’ll collect a nice little check for that… other than that… Dan brings home the bacon… and I bring home the sugar (AKA baby kisses)

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Although this technically came to fruition in 2013… I’m going to go ahead and say it counts… I’ve started doing a little bit here and there (mostly babysitting and working the resale/ garage sale market) to pick up some extra cash)

6. Go to the Optometrist Get Eye Exam/ New Glasses

June 2012 Update: I found some glasses I like here: Warby Parker

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October 2012 Update: Cross this one off the list. I will say – I never really wear my contacts. And my glasses are way more hipster than I thought that they would be – but hey, I can see.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Now I just need to work on some prescription sunglasses.

7. Stop Using Macy’s card and spending irresponsibly on credit cards.

June 2012 Update: I suppose progress is progress… 

October 2012 Update: Two words – Paid OFF.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Thinking that 2013 will be our year.

8. Keep the house clean between monthly maid service. Do dishes after every meal. Manage Durch hair with new vacuum. Laundry as needed, not waiting until Sunday to do it all. Spread cleaning out throughout the week

June 2012 Update: I will say… it is becoming easier and easier to keep the house picked up… mainly because I can “pick-up” in short spurts all day long… and do laundry, dishes, etc. HOWEVER … cleaning, with a baby… that’s a whole other story. I have made the bed every day for 2 weeks. I feel like I deserve a gold star for that… at least.

October 2012: I feel like I’m in the same place I was in June with keeping a clean house. The fact of the matter is… it’s hard to really CLEAN a 100 year old house… Or that might just be a little bit of an excuse. I mean.. baseboards are baseboards. Maybe my resolution next year will be to better utilize nap time by tackling tasks like… dusting… and well, yah. baseboards. I have continued to make the bed EVERY day and keep the laundry under control.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Not much change since October… although I’m comfortable with that.

9. Finish decorating: office, dining room, guest bedroom. Re-Decorate (baby proof) master bedroom, guest bathroom. Plan for renovation of Kitchen/master bathroom (@least fix leaking in shower/ faucet in tub and create new storage solution for bathroom stuff) Plan for DIY renovation.

June 2012 Update: none. what-so-ever. HOWEVER… I did purchase clear bath+kitchen caulk, caulk remover, and spray foam to remedy the leaking issues…

October 2012 Update: all those yucky issues… I did caulk the shower/tub in the master bathroom to further prevent water from leaking under the house… Dan and I agreed the other night that if we plan to stay in this house for another few years  minute, we need to make a plan for some NECESSARY improvements. 

END OF YEAR UPDATE: My Pinterest boards are busting at the seams.

10. Organize Photos (and memories boxes in office/ digital pictures on picasa/ wedding pictures in album

June 2012 Update: I did collect all of the frames from around our house and do a 4X6, 5X7, and 8X10 tally of photos that need to be replaced! Figured I’d start there!

 October 2012 Update: HAHA… Was it really June that I collected all of those frames? They’re still in a pile in the guest bedroom… waiting for new pictures. I will say that I did finally clear off 2,800 images off my iphone (I got the dreaded “You Do Not Have Enough Memory To Capture An Image” message) and backed up all my iphoto pictures to Picasa. Still need to print/frame our wedding pictures, maternity pictures, Olivia’s newborn pictures and 2 rounds of family portraits…. 

END OF YEAR UPDATE: I have a feeling that this will be a lifelong resolution. Daniel and I did brainstorm some new data storing solutions (I currently use Picasa and google Drive to save/store all our family data and pics)… and have a great idea for how I’d like to print/save pictures in a family year book… more on that in our 2013 Resolution post.

DAN

1. Complete 2 certifications: CCNA, MCSE, & VCP by August 2012

June 2012 Update: Dan has been taking a test every-other week and will have completed both by Sept 1!

October 2012 Update: Completed – VCP4, VCP5, MCSA, MCITP, MCSE and since his CCNA expires soon… considering starting to study for a CCDP. (Disclaimer: I have no idea what most of the above acronyms stand for – In my eyes, Dan is a certified techie badass.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: No change since October – Still a certified Badass.

2. Seek out and secure a new career path.

Update June 2012: As I mentioned above, Dan started at his new job with Consuro/Enterhost the week before Olivia was born! A crazy hectic time for our family, but his new boss/coworkers were incredibly accommodating and even let him work from home quite a bit for the first few weeks! I’d have to let him elaborate on the technical job specifics… 

October 2012 Update: Dan is still loving his job at Consuro/ Enterhost – they recently opened new offices less than 5 minutes from our house near downtown Dallas so his commute has improved dramatically although he has been traveling quite a bit as the company is quickly growing and expanding. 

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Dan accepted a new position in the R&D Department at VMWare… since his job is super high-tech and all kinds of classified… I’ll let him decided if he wants to share more here.

3. EAT MORE VEGETABLES, try new foods

June 2012 Update: if burrito bowls are considered a new food… we’re succeeding here. 

October 2012 Update: If only salsa were considered a vegetable.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: No, Cilantro is not a vegetable. 

4. Start an Internet venture

June 2012 Update: Check back on this one… I think we may have stumbled upon something together…

October 2012: Stay tuned for “Keep or Toss” coming 2013…

END OF YEAR UPDATE: @DANIELSCOTTT what happened to K or T?

5. Make and Take lunch/breakfast/coffee @ least 4 days a week.

June 2012 Update: We’ve both been much better at eating at home or packing snacks/meals for when we’re out

October 2012 Update: being on a tight budget definitely makes this easier.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Since the new gig frequently caters breakfast and lunch…. this has only become easier.

6. Get in shape. Get Bigger muscles.

October 2012 Update: in all of his spare time – Daniel joined a gym and now runs 500 miles a week, lifts lots weights and also drinks protien shakes all day long. JUST KIDDING. Maybe next year we’ll both really get in shape? 

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Still rocking the Seth Cohen look.

7. Go to Doctor & Dentist

October 2012 Update: At the risk of sounding like I’m nagging….  Despite my nagging – Daniel hasn’t quite made it to the Doc/Dentist yet.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: And another year passes…

8. Keep a positive attitude at work

June 2012 Update: Instead he got a new job. haha JUST KIDDING. All jokes aside… I think Dan would agree that he’s made progress here.

October 2012 Update: Dan has been working SO incredibly hard to provide for our little family. He brings work home on most nights but is great about making sure that we spend the 5pm-9pm hours together as a family (mostly uninterrupted). Then he frequently works after the baby and I have gone to bed. He really never complains about the long days, weeks, etc. His work ethic is unmatched by any I’ve ever seen and the way he keeps a positive attitude even in moments of sheer exhaustion always amazes me. 

9. Do special things for Meg – Dates. Flowers. Bring Sexy Back

June 2012 Update: Dan is incredibly good at picking up the slack with dishes, laundry, and general picking up (especially while Olivia and I enjoy our nighttime bath, massage, songs + books, routine. That’s special  sexy in my book…

October 2012 Update: Dates + Flowers? Not so much. Making me feel special and beautiful… always.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Do Love Tweets count?

10. Practice Patience

October 2012 Update: I think Dan would agree – we have the Durch to thank for his daily does of patience practice.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Key word, practice. 

FAMILY

1. Cook Dinner/ Eat in 5+ times weekly. Plan meals weekly to minimize money spent on food (takeout/ dinners out). Try to only make one trip to the grocery store weekly. Better utilize leftovers.

June 2012 Update: Having a baby has made this resolution so much easier to achieve. Not really because of the baby-in-a-bar factor (most of our favorite places to eat suddenly feel like bars) because… we’re totally fine with having our baby in a bar as long as it’s early and there’s a NO SMOKING sign. Moreso because of the sheer cost of eating out….we’re spending that money on diapers… We do indulge on a weekly basis at our new favorite spot: Stackhouse Burgers, great because it’s definitely family friendly, great food and Deep Ellum IPA on tap.

October 2012 Update: Having a baby learning to live on a VERY tight budget has made this VERY easy. Daniel bought me a Meal Planning tool for Christmas last year that has definitely come in handy. I’ve found that if the dinner plan is publicly posted – I’m 90% more likely to stick to it. I’ve learned to do all of the grocery shopping in one trip instead of buying as we decide what to cook. Also embraced the dreaded “leftover night.”

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Lately we’ve fallen short of this resolution, with more frequent meals out and lots of sandwich/ crock pot nights. Maybe 2013 will bring more inspiring menu selections.

2. Visit Tricia & family in Lena, IL

June 2012 Update: It doesn’t look like Dan will be able to take the time off work with the amount of vacation time he has in this first year at Consuro. We’re tentatively thinking about a trip next Spring or Summer. Although I think Tricia + the girls are going to get to come to TX this summer! We can’t wait to meet our new niece Remie! 

October 2012 Update: Nothing new to repot. Although Tricia + the girls have made a few trips down to Dallas to visit. 

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Gotta get on this!

3. Start recycling bottles and cans.

June 2012 Update: Cross this one off the list! We ordered a recycling bin (Actually.. Gramma G ordered it from the city while she was here on her last trip! Thanks Gramma G!!). 

October 2012 Update: Now if we could just get the cans out on the right day of the week…. DAN.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: DONE

4. Spend Christmas in So. Cal with Family Gorham, including weekend in Big Bear, New Years celebration 2013

June 2012 Update: Although we haven’t firmed up these plans yet…they’re definitely on the calendar firmly in pencil!

October 2012 Update: Tickets purchased! We fly out on Christmas Eve (yes, we’re traveling with a 10 mo old on one of the busiest travel days of the year!) Daniel can only take a week off of work but Olivia and I are going to stay an extra week and soak up some Poppa G+ GeeGee time. 

END OF YEAR UPDATE: and it was wonderful… read here

5. Get Macy’s/BofA Credit Cards paid off/ Make a new savings plan for Little Liv

June 2012 Update: B of A card… what’s that? yep! got that one paid off! WOOOhooo… Just working on all those Macy’s purchases. I’m convinced that’s why they give you an employee discount… so that you can afford the interest rates.  

October 2012 Update: It’s really no secret that we’ve struggled to adjust to becoming a one income family… Overnight we increased expenses, decreased income and encountered several unexpected financial burdens… and have STILL managed to keep our credit card debt to a minimum. This year has been a clear exercise in trusting God to provide. And this year… isn’t over yet.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Adjusting financially in 2012 was without doubt one of our biggest challenges… leaving us with (still a relatively small amount) some debt but we’ve got a plan to tackle it and are finally settling into a comfortable spending and saving routine.  

6. Find a church where we feel at home. Stop bouncing around.

June 2012 Update: We’ve been going to Fellowship White Rock for the past month or so. Not 100% sure that it’s the right fit but we’re going to stick it out for another few weeks to see if we click.

October 2012 Update: Giggling now… knowing that when you post a link (like above) to a managed site… for example, a church’s website… that someone (from said church) will inevitably visit and read your blog then refer to you as “The Blogging Couple” for the rest of all time. That being said… We’re REALLY glad that we “stuck it out” at Fellowship White Rock – as we really have come to find a fit. 

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Feeling even more awesome about White Rock Fellowship. Getting more involved, making friends. Oh, and Daniel is drumming again… which makes me SO SO happy. 

7. Have a garage/yard sale. Clean Out House. Minimize and simplify. Sell stuff on craigslist/ amazon/ ebay/ etsy

June 2012 Update: We did have a garage sale a few month ago! Raked in $250 (minus a $15 fee payable to the city of Dallas…. Note: In the city of Dallas you MUST acquire a permit for a yard or garage sale AND you cannot post signs unless they are on your personal property… WHOOPS. Did not know that. So.. other than the minor citation from a Dallas… uhh garage sale inspector? it was a huge success!)

October 2012 Update: We’re just about ready to have another garage sale. Also looking forward to selling at the next Just Between Friends (which unfortunately isn’t until next Spring – so we can add that to next years resolutions)

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Actually… we’re having a garage sale this weekend… and planning to sell at JBF in March.

8. Make new friends. Keep in touch with old friends.

October 2012 Update: Dan and I have both made huge efforts to put ourselves out there (individual and as a couple/family) in order to meet new people (Especially families). I joined MOPS this fall and got connected in a Mom’s bible study at church. We’ve definitely stayed busy with play dates and daytime activities. Definitely still feeling a bit isolated on some days but reminding myself to embrace the special alone time I get to spend with Olivia. Overdue for some quality catch-up with time with some of my long distance pals 😉

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Definitely will continue to grow some of the new friendships we made in 2012

9. Celebrate 2nd anniversary by doing something special

October 2012 Update: Considering the degree of celebration we showed our 1st anniversary – I’d say we made some progress this year. We managed to make it out for dinner (@ Sissy’s Southern Kitchen) and to the Texas State Fair while the Grandmas babysat. Nothing glitzy… but hey! we’re not really the glitziest of people.

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Maybe I should start planning for year 3 now?

10. Take more pictures (journal/blog/baby book) to document young married life + Baby P’s first year.

Update: turns out… it’s easy to take TONS of pictures of a beautiful baby… I’ll post one.. just because I can. Although I need to get better at getting pictures of all three of us!

 

However, we did meet up with Deena Riley of Deena Riley Photography to shoot some family portraits at sunset at the Filter Building on White Rock Lake! Here’s a shot from the preview she posted: (Olivia WOULD NOT smile… I know what you’re thinking… “WHAT?!! That baby? wouldn’t smile???”… NOPE… not even a smirk. But… WHATEVER. She’s still beautiful. And we love her… in all of her stinker-ness. 

 October 2012 Update: 2,800 iphone pictures later… I STILL don’t have many pictures of all three of us. Recently, MOPS reposted a challenge that I’d seen floating around the internet encouraging moms to stay IN the picture. Especially in the next few months, with all of the holidays, Olivia’s 1sts, etc. I’m going to make more of an effort to get myself (AND DAN!) in front of the camera!

END OF YEAR UPDATE: Another one that should be carried to the new year… 

 

In the Kitchen: South of the Border Fettucini

Aunt Mary’s South of the Border Fettucini

 To say there are some great cooks in my family would be an understatement. This is one of my favorite creations from my Aunt Mary McElyea. I’ve come to always stock the ingredients in my pantry just in case I get a hankering. South of the Border Fettucini is one of my go-to week night dinners; Relatively healthy and inexpensive, I guarantee you’ll love it.

4T. Butter (Cut this in half for a healthier version or use Earth Balance – it’s just as delicious)

1/2 T. garlic, minced

1C. diced tomatoes

1/2 C. canned black beans

1/4 C. sliced black olives (I don’t think these were included in the original recipe… so if you’re not a fan of olives- Omit)

1 whole roasted chicken, meat removed and chopped (Can substitute 3-4 grilled chicken breasts – I find it so much easier and just as inexpensive to buy a pre-roasted chicken)

1/4 C. white wine

1/4 C. chicken stock (I use “Better than Bouillon” Chicken Stock” mixed with some of the leftover pasta water)

1C. chopped cilantro (or more)

1T. chopped, seeded fresh jalepeno

8 oz. Spicy fettuccini (al dente Three Peppercorn Fettucini) (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE! This pasta makes the dish!) Buy Online Here or my local Albertson’s and Central Market carry it.

 

Image From Here

In medium saucepan, heat butter. Add tomato, half the cilantro, black beans, jalapeño and garlic. Saute 3 to 5 minutes. Add chicken, wine and stock and simmer until reduced by 1/4. Add salt and pepper to taste. In a large pot, cook pasta. DO NOT OVERCOOK! This pasta only takes 3 to 5 minutes to cook! Do not rinse. Just before serving toss all together and add the rest of the cilantro.

South of the Border Fettucini

Note: This is a VERY forgiving recipe….sometimes I use canned tomatoes, sometimes fresh. Very easy to omit the wine and/or chicken stock and just add the can of diced tomatoes with their juices for a slightly healthier option. Daniel almost always makes me add more cilantro, because he’s kinda a cilantro nut!

Momma Meg Loves: The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

At about 6 months 6 Weeks pregnant, Daniel and I decided that I would NOT be returning to work after Olivia was born . We weren’t really sure how we were going to make it work… just that we both agreed that it was a) important for me to stay home with our new babe and b) that my measly little salary would barely cover quality childcare and therefore be no more practical than staying home and cutting costs. So here I am… full-time, stay-at-home momma… lookin’ for cheap… or better yet, FREE, things to do.

I’m considering starting a summer series on baby-friendly adventures under $10/day. Consider this the first edition.

Image from Here

When my mom was here after Olivia was born (around 5 weeks) she bought me an annual pass to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens – Become a Member Here. Our family pass  was $109 and includes admission for 6 individuals, not living under the same roof, for one year, free parking, discounted concert tickets for Chihuly Nights concert series, various discounts at the gift shops, restaurants, and local nurseries. Liv and I have easily been two dozen times in the past 4 months. She LOVES being outside (mentioned here) so most of the time we just pack a picnic and park ourselves on a blanket next to the Koi pond or water walls and just relax. (I’m that lucky one that has the baby who will happily lay still and thoughtfully gaze up at the trees or sky #naturebaby) Tickets for adults are $15.00, so after 8 visits, the family pass has paid for itself. With the exception of the past month (it’s been unbearably hot to go during the day) the arboretum has been my go-to, get-out-of-the-house, activity. At an average of 3 visits a month, each trip would cost $3.02.

At The Arboretum with Uncle Chippy + Gramma G at 7 Weeks Old

Watching the Koi Fish at the Arboretum at 3 months old

This year, May through October, the Dallas Arboretum is hosting the Chihuly exhibit: a collection of large hand-blown glass installations. Like nothing I’ve ever seen, Chihuly is definitely worth checking out…. And, since it’s been SO hot during the day, I recommend checking out the exhibit during Chihuly Nights (Either during one of the summer concerts Tues/Thurs nights or on Wednesday nights when the exhibit is beautifully lit and the heat isn’t quite as intense)

Image from Here

There are also 50+ affiliated gardens all over the country to which we can visit for FREE! Hopefully planning to check out the Los Angeles Arboretum or the South Coast Botanic Garden in Long Beach while we’re in California next month!