Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bring it on!

Having the countdowns on the side of our blog have been fun watch as the days tick away, but it's a little overwhelming some days. Here's our life in numbers right now:

6 days till our first camping/fishing weekend of the season. Hopefully several more to come.
20 days left of law school classes, then 14 days of studying/exams
33 days till my 30th birthday
41 days till Law School Graduation - Hooray! Way to go Chuck!
43 days till 10 days of DISNEYWORLD and more Florida fun
99 days (hopefully a little less) till our baby is born (even though Leland gives me a wonderful reminder almost every day that the baby will be here very soon because I'm so HUGE!)
122 days till the Bar Exam
??? days till we have to move away from Lexington. It will be a very sad day for me whenever it comes. Hopefully later, than sooner.

Monday, March 23, 2009

cannons, swings, & ducks

We had a fun weekend with my friend Kristen. She came down from Baltimore for a few days while Chuck was in Florida for his last ABA meeting. We were so lucky to enjoy some beautiful weather.
I forgot to take any pictures while at Lee Chapel and the Colonnade, but the girls loved walking up to Lee Chapel right as the bell tower started to ring. Leland loves listening for the bells. We then walked over to VMI. It was spring break for VMI, so it was very empty and quiet.

Leland, of course, needed to have a picture of her on the cannon. Once she was up there she got very nervous, but I was able to get a picture.

We also strolled through Boxerwood Gardens. We found our favorite hidden spot of swings and hammocks. We heard lots of frogs and can't wait to go back in the next few weeks when all the trees start to bloom.

If you notice Lucy's jacket, I added the flower to it. I bought a few solid colored jackets at Target for $2. They were boyish colors so I added flowers to the corners to make them a little more feminine.

We spent part of the day on Saturday in Staunton at Gypsy Hill Park feeding the ducks. I forget that it is still kind of winter, so there were not many ducks there yet. Last time we went I took a box of Rice Krispies and the ducks went nuts eating them, this time we just fed them the food from the machines and they were not as impressed. The girls still enjoyed themselves.
Leland wanted to say "cheese" for her picture and jump at the same time. I was able to catch her mid-air. She's a riot.

We enjoyed a yummy lunch at the Depot Grille next to the train station. The girls loved eyeing the "choo-choos" during their meal. Thanks Kiki for coming to visit us!

I just have to say I am so lucky to be Leland and Lucy's mother. I have enjoyed being a mom more than I ever imagined. It is such a joy to watch my girls grow and learn everyday. I love watching them as sisters play and laugh with one another. They love each other so much. Even though sometimes my husband needs to remind me of how lucky I am to stay at home, I do know that I am lucky. Even on those hard days, I try to find joy in something that we were able to do together. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Funnies for the Record

I have been keeping a list in my phone of funny things my girls do and say. Things that I know I will forget about and want a record of. (I'm writing this also to encourage my sister to write down things like her son peeing on the front porch or the other son peeing in a cup while standing next to the toilet. I'm not sure about my desire to have boys now.)

Leland says the word shark when it should be sharp. She sometimes uses shark instead of cut too. It cracks me up. She will say "Your knife is shark and it might shark me." It makes me laugh and I don't correct her because I love it so much.

A few weeks ago we went to a pancake breakfast fundraiser at Applebee's. Now every time we pass the restaurant Lucy will yell, "Apple! Apple!" She loves the word apple right now, every fruit is an apple to her.

Lucy is into finding things that match. While at Aunt Barbara's they read an ABC book. When I read it to her the day we picked her up, she would go get things from around the house that matched the pictures in the book. She got the chicken farm animal to match H is for hen and even went to the fridge to pull out the L is for Lemon. She made the amazing discovery yesterday at the Library that her Ariel sticker matched Ariel on her socks. She was very excited.

To preface the next story: Leland's middle name is Joy, Lucy's is Maydene.
When Leland is wrapped up in a towel after a bath Chuck will call her his "Bundle of Joy". Well the other night he was carrying Lucy wrapped in a towel and called her his "Bundle of Joy". Leland says, "No Dad, she's your Bundle of Maydene!"

When I ask, "Who wants a snack?," "Do you want some milk?," or "Who wants to go outside?" Lucy's response is always "I Do!" while raising her hand in the air.

Leland and Lucy love to dance together. They will spin around in circles until they are dizzy and fall over. It's pretty hilarious to watch.

The pictures are from our recent "treasure hunt". We walked on the trail by our house and down our street to find treasures to put in our buckets. I also put Lucy's hair in a ponytail. It made her look so grownup.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Flower Child

While Leland, Chuck and I were hanging out at the hospital, Lucy got to hang out with my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Rick. She had such a great time and I know they did too.

This tie-dyed t-shirt was my cousin's shirt and it looks adorable on my little girl. It totally describes my aunt and uncle and I love that they had her wear that shirt during her visit. I am so grateful that we had family close by to help take care of our girl. I knew that she was in wonderful hands and I could focus on taking care of Leland.

Lucy loved picking the flowers that just bloomed in this warm weather. Her favorite toys were the toy power drill and the rocking chair just her size.

Note: Pictures were added to the previous posts of Leland's hospital visit below.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Coming home!

I am on my way to pick up Leland and Ashley (23 weeks pregnant) from the hospital to go home! Leland is doing great. Just in time for us to get home before the Tarheel vs. Duke game, too. More to come soon.

Leland singing - If you're happy and you know it, shout Hooray! HOORAY!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Just like Sunshine

This afternoon, Leland finally ate real food, went for a walk, and is seeming to feel more like her usual self. At about 3pm we went for a short walk outside the room and I think that helped her a lot. We saw a bunny rabbit, a toy room, and a fish tank. After returning to the room she just wanted to rest, but did eat some graham crackers and juice.

Finally about 5pm we went for a longer walk without the IV pole to a different section of the pediatric floor. We found another fish tank and play room. There was a little boy (5 yrs old) playing in the hallway with a remote control car. He was so sweet and came right up to Leland asking her if she wanted a turn with the remote. They had fun laughing and playing together for a few minutes. It was so great to see her smiling and back to normal a little.

After returning to our room, she was ready for some food. A dinner tray had not been ordered for her, so they gave us a voucher to go down to the cafeteria for her to choose what she wanted to eat. She ate a plate of pasta noodles and half a banana! We were so excited and just hoping she could keep it all down, which she did.

As we were coming back to the room, she says "I really don't want to get back in that hospital bed." I set her up in the rocking chair with some pillows to watch a movie. We said goodbye to Chuck so he could spend the evening with Lucy.

At about 8:30pm, as her pain mediation was wearing off and it was a little too early for her next dose, it got a little rough. She just laid on the bench and cried. It just was breaking my heart. She wanted to go home, she missed her sister, her belly hurt, she had to go pee but didn't want to walk, she wanted the IV off her arm. Every little thing brought tears to her eyes for the next hour and I could not comfort her. She wouldn't let me hold because she said her cuts hurt on her belly. I started to cry, then she cried more because I was sad. It was heartbreaking. Finally her next dose of medicine kicked in and she slowly cheered up.

Luckily, I had some great advice from the pro at hospital visits, my sister-in-law, Charise. When it was rough and I really needed her to get up and go to the bathroom, I pulled out a small present that Leland could play with once we were done. It worked nicely and she was able to play with her sticker book for about 20 minutes before falling asleep.

She is now sleeping soundly and it is looking great that we will go home in the morning.

One funny: She tried a few bites of yellow, lemon jello this afternoon and says, "It tastes just like sunshine!"

Staying one more night in hospital

Leland is going to spend one more night in the hospital. From the very beginning, the doctors have said that she would spend "at least one night" in the hospital. They have not pressured us in any way, but they made the decision this afternoon to keep Leland overnight again because she hasn't really begun to eat. Since 9 PM on Thursday night, she has only ate three graham crackers and a couple bites of jello. She has been drinking lots though and we know that her bladder is working well (if you know what I mean).

We are trying to get her up and walking to the bathroom or around the floor as much as possible, but she always starts off pretty nervous and in a bit of pain. She always feels better after walking around for a bit though.

Gorgeous Day - in the hospital

So these are a lot of posts with no pictures, just what has been going on during our stay in the hospital. This is our family journal, so there will be lots of mundane details. This also gives me something to do while our sweet little girl sleeps the day away. We have taken lots of cute pictures, but unfortunately did not bring our photo cord, so we will have to add them later.

We all enjoyed a good night's rest, considering, and Chuck is now taking his MPRE test. He was able to get a few hours of studying in last night, then went over to the school early to try to squeeze in a little more.

Having the private room has definitely made a huge difference. It is very quiet and comfortable for all of us. Leland has done a lot of sleeping so far this morning. They came in about every hour last night to check her vitals and only once at about 4am did it actually wake her up and it took me a little while to get her back to sleep.

This morning she still is refusing to eat anything and her options were graham crackers, jello, applesauce, pudding, and even ice cream. She finally agreed to eat some applesauce, but when it came she refused and went back to sleep. We really would like to get some food into her, so they will feel comfortable about taking her off the IV and catheter to walk around. The nurse decided that we should try some anti-nausea medicine, Zofran (Meilani's BFF). Hopefully when she wakes up it will have kicked in and she will feel like eating.

We will more than likely spend one more night in the hospital, unless Leland takes a dramatic turn in her desire to eat and ability to keep things in her stomach. Lucy is still having a great time with Aunt Barbara and Uncle Rick. I'm sure she is loving all the attention.

It makes me a little sad to see Leland so out of her usual happy and excited self. I know that this is only temporary and she will be back to normal very soon.

I have been so grateful for the love and support that we have felt from friends and family. Getting all the e-cards brought tears to our eyes to see how many people took the time to send Leland a message. Thank you.

Update on Leland - Friday

Quick update: Leland's surgery went very well and quicker than planned. She has spent the rest of the day sleeping for an hour then waking up for 5-10 minutes before going back to sleep. She and Ashley have settled in for the night in the UVA Children's Hospital.

Detailed (very long) update for Leland's journal: Before the surgery, Leland's doctor told us that the surgery would take 3 - 4 hours. I went back with her to comfort her as she fell asleep, but she probably didn't even need me because she handled it all so well. Once she was under, they escorted me out and started the surgery just after 8 AM. We headed to the Family Surgery Waiting Lounge where the nurses could call us throughout the surgery to give updates over the phone.

The Family Surgery Waiting Lounge was the strangest place you could imagine that I can best sum up by calling it the DMV of hospital wait rooms. To its credit, UVA Health Center is finishing up a huge renovation project that has resulted in a beautiful hospital - entry way, cafeteria, lounges, etc. However, the Family Surgery Waiting Lounge was just odd. On the good side, it is a huge room that has clearly been recently remodeled with lots of new lounge chairs, various large plasma screen televisions, and one side of the room covered floor to ceiling with windows. That is where the good ends.

The chairs were tightly overcrowding the room so that it felt like everybody was right on top of each other. Because it was quite crowded, it was very loud in the room with people talking loudly to one another and everyone knowing each other's business. There were a few special over-sharers, including an old man who spoke at a volume level that can best be described as Chuck-level-times-three and a mentally-handicapped adult man who kept yelling out that various people in the room had "farted."

About every 30 seconds, the phone would ring extremely loud before the staff would answer the call, then holler out somebody's name, and tell them they would transfer their call to the single phone in the middle of the huge room. Then most of the room would stare at them during their phone conversation.

The flourescent lighting in the room was extremely bright and annoying and, for some crazy reason, that wall of windows that would allow natural light to enter the room was covered with 50 feet of closed blinds just so we could enjoy the flourescent craziness. If it isn't clear yet, the place just about drove us nuts.

At this point, I probably should mention that tomorrow I am taking the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) - a sixty question, two-hour and five minute, multiple-choice examination administered only three times each year, but required in order to be admitted to the Bar. Between the stress of Leland's surgery and the crazy waiting room, I only studied just over 30 minutes.

Thankfully, the whole building has wireless internet, so we could distract ourselves somewhat. We also took an hour of the time to go get a delicious and inexpensive breakfast in the very large and pleasant cafeteria. Based on a nurses suggestion, we also spent some time finding the admitting desk to ask that we be assigned a private recovery room for the overnight stay. Ashley told every person we talked to that she wanted to make sure to have a private room and her annoying everyone paid off.

Around 10:45 AM, the nurses called down to say that the doctors were closing up and that Dr. Corbett would be down to talk to us 20 minutes later. A little after 11:00, Dr. Corbett came to see us and told us that things went very smoothly. He said she did very well and that it was an easy surgery without complications. We were relieved and got to leave the DMV-Surgery Waiting Room.

Dr. Corbett took us up to the post-op room where we were supposed to wait "about 20-30 minutes" for Leland to wake up before we could go up to her final recovery room where she would spend the next 24 hours. Unfortunately, the previous patient in the private recovery room they assigned us was having to take longer than planned to get discharged. This resulted in us spending nearly 4 hours in the very tiny post-op room. It was difficult to study in there as well, but our nurse Ana Perron was a joy and made it much better. Having the comforts of a private room and bathroom were definitely worth the wait.

During that time, Leland was very groggy. For most of the day she would sleep about an hour, then wake up for about 5-10 mins. She didn't want anything to drink for a while, but finally asked for water, got ice chips, ate one, then went back to sleep.

When we finally moved upstairs and she was drinking more water. She got her morphine and we were all able to nap from 4:30-6:30pm. When Leland woke up she started feeling nausea and threw up all the water.

When Ashley asked her before we came to the hospital what toys she wanted play with while at the hospital, she said, "Cars that can varoom all over my bed!" So Ashley had bought some Lightening McQueen and Friends race cars. Leland was very excited about getting to open a new toy. Another big hit has been the Mr Potato Head and Friends set. The coloring and activity books we haven't gotten out because Leland has been very frustrated that the IV splint is on her left hand and she is left-handed. The thought never occured to me to tell them and I'm left-handed.

She finally ate a few graham crackers, but ended up throwing those up as well when we tried to give her Tylenol with codine instead of morphine for her pain.

At about 8pm she got a little teary eyed and said, "I miss Lucy." We called Lucy on the phone. She is staying with Ashley's Aunt Barbara and having the best time. Lucy said Hi!, I love you!, and goodbye. I think it made Leland feel better to hear her voice. They are just sweet sisters and love each other so much.

As Ashley was gone to get us some dinner from the cafeteria Leland says to me, "Thanks for taking me to the hospital." What a sweetheart.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Leland in surgery today

Leland is in surgery this morning to fix her reflux issue (previous blog post; previous post on VCUG test; more info on V-reflux). Everything went smoothly this morning and Leland was very cute about going in. The nurses and anesthesiologists were very nice and good with kids.

For me, the biggest relief was when the doctor walked into the room wearing jeans and a polo and carrying his shoulder bag so that it was clear that he had just come from home. I hear so many things about long shifts and sleep deprivation of doctors, that I was happy to see that he had come from home.

They gave her a sedative that made her very loopy and silly. Later, I went back with her to hold her hand while she was put under anesthesia.

UVA Children's Hospital offers a cool free feature where y'all can send Leland an E-card through their website and they will deliver it to her room. Enter her name as Leland Gates and our hometown as Lexington, VA - don't worry about her room number as we don't know it yet and it is only optional.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


On Monday we had a few more inches of snow and I was able to take Leland sledding in our front yard. It is a very small short hill, but it was perfect for her. Lucy was still nursing a cold, so we went out while she was napping.

Leland had such a great time.

Our snow angels looked pretty good. After coming inside she continued to try to make snow angels on the carpet.

She played outside for the longest time. She kept telling me she needed to clean all the snow off the bushes. After bribes of more hot chocolate with marshmallows she came inside.
I can't believe that I am writing this just 5 days later and it was 75 today.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snow Day Randomness

Church was canceled today due to the weather. It snowed a little last night, but the roads seemed clear enough this morning. At about 3 o'clock this afternoon it started to snow and came down pretty good for the next few hours. March is coming in like a lion. We have enjoyed a day at home with the family.

Here's a little update for the journal.

Lucy - She is growing up so fast. She is starting to talk a lot. I used to think she was just along for the ride, following and wanting just whatever Leland wanted, but she definitely is starting to develop her own opinion. The other day at the grocery store (Leland was not with us), I started to put her in a regular cart and she started yelling, "Car! Car!" I kept trying to explain to her that this was the carT. I finally realized that she was pointing where the grocery carts with the cars on front usually are and that she wanted the Car cart. She is getting an opinion and finally learning how to express it.

We had one day this week of nice outdoor weather and headed to the park with some friends. This was the first time Lucy actually played independently at the park. She went up and down the big slide by herself and went from one thing to another with out requiring my help. After over an hour at the park it was clear she was ready to go. She climbed into her stroller tried to clip herself in and started telling everyone good-bye.

Her vocabulary is growing everyday. She is finally saying her own name - it sounds like Su-ci. Leland is E-nan. Snack is also a new word and she uses it often. The kid can put down some food when she is in the mood.

Leland - Her newest obsession is playing with the refrigerator clip magnets. It is pretty amusing to watch. I keep meaning to try to catch a picture of it. She lines them up and pretends they are different characters - mom, dad, baby, dog, etc. Her newest additions to the family are mixing spoons and spatulas. She likes the household objects better than her actual toys.

Her surgery is scheduled for Friday, March 6th. We've started talking about what surgery is, going to the hospital, and scars. I have been showing her my scars from laprascopic surgery I had a few years ago. I am confident that all will go well, but I am still nervous about her going under and how I will be during the whole process.

Ashley - I have been having fun with Photoshop Elements that I got for Christmas. I have completed my first digital scrapbook - a wedding album (5 years in the waiting for some actual printed pictures). I haven't gotten the printed book yet, but should this week. I am starting to work on my next one - Our 10 day cross country RV road trip. Chuck has taught me some cool things like removing people and objects from pictures. It's been a lot of fun to learn.

The pregnancy is going well. This baby is on the move all the time. It's crazy how much and how strongly I feel this child move.

I'm starting to feel sad about the fact we will be moving in a few months. I have loved living in this town so much. Our house, the charm of the small town, our friends, all of it. We have the bar set pretty high on the next place we get to live.

Chuck - Staying busy with the last few months of school. Feb was his last month working on the Student Lawyer magazine. He will go to FL this month for his last ABA meeting to train the new editor for next year. He is now in job search mode and preparing for the Bar.

We have been gathering the ridiculous amounts of information necessary for the Bar application. For example, listing EVERY place you have ever lived. For some people this might be an easy task, but not for Chuck. So far we are at 17 addresses in the last 9 years. We have a ways to go. Tonight he decided to post on Facebook that he was looking for all these addresses and actually had some old roommates respond with some info. Awesome!