Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas So Far

I've been loving all of the Christmas activities so far this December. A little cheesy Hallmark Christmas special here...a little nativity re-enactment there...and a little chubby-cheeked toddler whose current obsessions are:

1) Garbage trucks
2) Kitty cats
3) Purple
4) Golf ball (or "goof ba")
5) Police car
6) Cereal
7) More banana
8) Watch TV/Mickey Mouse
9) "Coo Ki-mas Laaaaahhhts"
10) Nail biting
11) Baby Kade

Notice Santa did NOT make that list?

I love Santa's annoyed expression here
Besides thinking more about our Savior and trying to find ways to do more service and show more kindness to others this holiday season, it's the desserts that really put me in the holiday spirit. We had an excessive about of pies and treats at our 2nd annual Hudson after-Thanksgiving dessert get-together. It was wonderful. A week or so later we enjoyed a Christmas goodie-themed recipe exchange night with ladies from church. And two days after that was our family Christmas baking day, complete with cornflake wreaths, sugar cookies, white chocolate popcorn, and homemade Oreos with peppermint cream. If that doesn't put you in the holiday mood, I just don't know what will.

See Mama, I CAN fit the entire homemade peppermint Oreo in my mouth 
We've also had two awesome Christmas parties with Evan's therapy and with our church group, and our community held a Creche Festival with hundreds of unique nativity displays to see. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

San Diego

Did you know that traffic is terrible on the Sunday after Thanksgiving? Because I sure didn't, and nobody seemed to find it important enough to tell me before I planned a trip to San Diego on that day. Our 7 1/2 hour drive turned into 11 hours. Good thing my kid loves driving in the car. (I mean that seriously. Evan and Maya were both angels.)

Sarah and Maya joined me and Evan on a little trip to San Diego last week. I had a little bit (cough cough, extensive amount) of dental work to be done. My Uncle Mark and his two sons, Matt and Jared, all shared in the blessing of fixing my mouth and offering gentle reprimands for my poor flossing. It was my first time at Packard Dental. I felt like each of them channeled a little bit of Grandpa when they sang while working. Now I brush and floss like it's my job.

Other highlights of the trip included:

Trips to the park

Riding bikes on the driveway

Visiting the San Diego temple lights and listening to Uncle Garth, Aunt Bonnie, Matt, Jared, and Angela singing in the community choir

One of these sheep is not like the other

Walking to Mexico
I guess my back itched?
Waiting in line for 2 hours to come back from Mexico

CPK Thai pizza, In-n-Out burgers, "authentic" Mexican food, Denny's milkshakes

Can you tell which half of my mouth is still numb?

Cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie with hot chocolate and a fire

Visiting with cousins, aunts, and uncles

Uncle Mark and Aunt Bonnie's basement playroom. This was easily Maya's favorite thing about the trip. She also loved having more people to listen to her stories. "I need to go tell your family something," was a commonly-heard phrase. Sarah was wonderful to watch Evan while I was getting high on nitrous oxide.

Lotion parties on the bed


In Utah I was connected with so many families of kiddos with spina bifida who lived nearby. We had a few lunch/play dates and we chatted with each other online. Our family was also part of a local foundation that supported families of children with disabilities of all kinds and sponsored swimming, skating, and pizza parties for us. Moving to California kinda killed that network for us. I tried but failed to find similar groups here so I started my own Spina Bifida California families Facebook group. That helped. Then I reached out to Evan's therapists to find other local families for play groups. None of Evan's therapists work with or know any other kids with spina bifida. Zero. From what I could find there are literally ZERO other kids with spina bifida within an hour and a half in all directions from us.

That's one of the reasons why today was nice. The Spina Bifida Association held a Walk-N-Roll for Northern California. Families from all around gathered in a semi-centralized place and we were able to meet some of the faces we've seen online and learn about their families and their kids. Most of the families are more experienced than ours--most deal with more issues than we currently do--and they offered advice and shared their experiences. I don't need a formal support group to sit around a circle with and talk about my challenges, but what I really enjoy is seeing how families like mine deal with everyday life--seeing the "normal" life of a family with spina bifida.

Now for the good stuff.

The event was held at Coyote Point Recreation Park in San Mateo. It's a large park along the bay where you can see the planes from the San Francisco airport. When we first arrived there were some kid games (toss the ball/beanbag). They had some breakfast snacks and there were sponsor booths like healthcare people and Coloplast--stuff for bowel/bladder management. Exciting, huh? There was also Bucky the Bronco, the mascot from a local school. Evan kept an eye on him the whole time out of sheer terror. To start the race you had to walk past the cheerleaders and Bucky, but Evan was paralyzed with fear. We ended up as the last group to take off and we didn't leave until Bucky had walked away.

The walk was a one-mile trail around the park. Evan took a lot of breaks to watch the ducks and the airplanes. There were lots of bumps in the road (literally), but he plodded along alright. We gave him a little break in the middle but he walked a good portion of the race and finished strong...once Bucky left the finish line. 

All of the teams had coordinating t-shirts, and leis were used to distinguish the stars of the event. Our team of 3 didn't make shirts. We just decided to match with black and red, not knowing that Team Ethan would be showing up in red as well. They were a large team so there was lots of red and their shirts had the superman logo with an "E" on it. A lot of people approached Evan and said, "So this must be Ethan!" We had to explain ourselves a lot. At the awards ceremony we won the "Smallest but Strongest Team" award. 

Evan helped draw a number for the raffle
Team Evan and Team Ethan
Ethan's mom, Jen, and I had met on Facebook. We both had fetal surgery at UCSF and we both have the cutest boys in the world. We gladly passed on Evan's parallel bars for Ethan to use as he starts standing and eventually walking. I think these two were the youngest ones at the event.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cowboy Evan

I hate Halloween costumes.

Evan was a cowboy this year because we already had a sherif badge and a cowboy hat. Costume done. It was an especially convenient costume since he had to wear it for 3 different events: UCSF NICU reunion, trunk-or-treat, and Halloween night. 

Every year UCSF has their NICU reunion in October. There's only one nurse who really remembers us but I like going anyway just to reminisce. We've moved on and grown a ton, but San Francisco will always hold a tender place in my heart. I love that the reunion is in October which is when Evan was born and when we were discharged. It's also the most beautiful time of year in San Francisco. We got to the event right on time which means Evan had all the games and the bounce house to himself. I don't think he would've participated otherwise, so that was a nice bonus. Delicious food, pumpkin decorating, costumes, face painting (Evan got a lizard). My favorite part was that Evan got to walk around the streets of San Francisco for the first time ever. That was pretty special.

Even with all the events we only got one picture of his whole ensemble--with the iPad as a distraction. Most of the time the hat came off, and somehow on Halloween night we forgot the bandana. 

This picture cracks me up every time I look at it

This is how we trick-or-treat

Pumpkin Patch 2014

We had a family date night one Friday in October and tried out a new pumpkin patch in town--Bobby Dazzlers. Mostly I wanted to take Evan to the petting zoo part of it, but we also picked up a few unique pumpkins and took some lovely photographs and made some happy memories. Evan mostly threw hay and dirt.

These two love each other so much.