Sunday, January 31, 2010

Disney...and the trip home

My presentations on Thursday went quite well. The sessions were fully attended, and we received a lot of positive feedback. I also had a series of great meetings with some clients. I received confirmation of a contract renewal, and worked out the details for a new contract with an old client.

As I am sure I have now said hundreds of times, I cannot believe how much Micah has grown and changed over the past year. All week, I kept remembering how little Micah was his first trip to Orlando last year, and I was amazed at how...BIG...he seemed this year. On Thursday evening, we took Micah to Downtown Disney. I have to say, dinner with a toddler was a bit more challenging than dinner with a newborn last year. Once again, we got a bit of a late start - we went to a reception at 5:30, and it was 7:00 pm before we made it to the restaurant. By that point, Micah was fidgety and hungry. There was butcher paper on the table, so I gave Micah a crayon and let him play a bit. My little boy was coloring!! Well, when he wasn't trying to eat the crayons. Micah was not being so cooperative at dinner - he didn't want to sit still, and he wanted to practice walking. The waiter gave him a plastic cup of water with a straw, and he wanted to play with the cup and the straw the entire time. Naturally, he managed to figure out how to douse himself with the water, and screamed bloody murder any time I tried to confiscate his new "toy."






Last year, Micah slept through dinner...well, he actually slept through the entire visit to Downtown Disney. We joked about him being a traveling gnome - he was sound asleep and we were taking him out of his stroller and snapping photos of him everywhere - at Lego Land, trying on hats, and at the candy store. By far, this was my favorite photo of Micah:


DH held him up next to the Lego bulldog while he slept. The bulldog was maybe 18-22 inches off the ground, and we were laughing at how little Micah seemed next to the bulldog. This year, we couldn't resist revisiting that spot and trying to re-create the moment. Can you believe the difference?



Funny - this year, the bulldog looks so tiny, and Micah looks like a giant!!

On Friday, we spent the afternoon in the Magic Kingdom. We drove over to the parking area and took the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom. Micah is FULL of energy and just does not like to sit still. He is content in his stroller if we are moving, but he hates to be on line, and he really hates when we hold him and prevent him from wandering around on his own. Upon arrival, we picked up our tickets and headed straight down Main Street. Micah seemed to enjoy the music and he LOVED the balloons.

We decided to start off in Fantasyland. Our first ride of the day was "It's a Small World." The line was relatively short - maybe 5-7 minutes long, but Micah was pretty unhappy that we were keeping him so confined. When we first climbed into the ride, he was angry and screaming. As the safety bar pulled down, he was squirming and crying. I turned to DH and said "if this does not go well, I think we'll be heading back to the hotel." As the car moved forward, Micah got a bit quieter, and when we entered the first room and heard the song "It's a Small World" from all the moving people, Micah's face lit up and he started to clap!! It was the sweetest thing I have seen. He was enthralled the entire ride!! He smiled, he clapped, he danced - our first right was a complete success!!

After "It's a Small World," we picked up a fast pass for Peter Pan's flight, then immediately hopped on the carousel. Once again, Micah was not so thrilled while we waited, but once the horses started moving, he was all smiles. We took a quick spin on Snow White - he was calm and content, but not so much interested in clapping. Then, DH decided to take Micah on the dumbo ride. At this point, I was having some issues with morning sickness, so I decided to sit this one out. This ride might have been the worst decision we made all day. DH ended up waiting in line about 40 minutes, and Micah was cranking and complaining the entire time! Once the dumbos took off, he was back to smiling. Immediately after the ride, we gave Micah a quick snack and decided to head on over to Frontierland to see the Country Bear Jamboree. We arrived just as the show started, so we had about 20 minutes to pass. We ran into the food shop and grabbed a veggie burger for the three of us to share, then made it back to the Country Bear Jamboree just in the nick of time. Once again, Micah was cranky about being held on my lap...until the lights went down and the bears started talking and singing. He was back to smiling and clapping for the entire show!

After the Country Bear Jamboree, we headed to Adventureland and took a ride on the Jungle Cruise. That has to be one of the cheesiest rides ever! Micah did seem to enjoy the animals, and he was even pointing at different things that caught his eye. We decided to ride on Pirates of the Caribbean before heading back to Fantasyland to use our fast passes on Peter Pan's flight. By the end of the day, Micah was clearly exhausted, but he seemed to have an amazing time. There were only a few other rides and shows I think he could have enjoyed at Disney, but we definitely felt that we took full advantage of those tickets. I am certain that Micah will not remember this trip, but I think it was a great learning experience for him and he seemed to have a wonderful day. Most of all, seeing him light up and enjoy the rides brought a bit of joy to an otherwise sad day for me.

That night, a friend of mine drove up to Orlando to attend my conference! While we waited for her to arrive, we stopped off at a wine and cheese party at one of the other villas. My friend arrived around 7:00 pm, and was able to see Micah in person. We went out for dinner together and caught up. After the crazy day Micah had at the Magic Kingdom, he just needed to go to sleep, so DH graciously volunteered to stay behind and put him to bed while I went out. I loved having the time to get out and catch up with a friend.

Saturday morning, I woke up and gave my final presentation. Another successful session, and I received more good news - apparently, the program in the Virgin Islands was thrilled with my sessions and wants to bring me out to provide my assistance there! Can I tell you how excited I am about the opportunity to go to the Virgin Islands? We might also have to visit Puerto Rico on the way out. Usually, I end up going to Wichita or Minneapolis or Podunk, USA - this trip promises to be far more exciting! My mother has already volunteered to come along as a "Grananny."

After my presentation, I spent a bit more time in the exhibit hall, said my goodbyes, and then we headed out nice and early to the airport. On the way there, my mom called to tell me that another friend of hers was stuck in Palm Beach because of the weather issues and flight cancellations. We checked on our flight...only to discover it was canceled! I was panicking - we needed to be back so that I could get to my grandmother's funeral, and DH had a group of Red Cross delegates he was coordinating for departure to Haiti. We spent the next few hours trying to switch our flights, change airlines, etc. During that time, my mom decided to postpone the funeral a day - the snow was far worse than had been anticipated. Ultimately, we finally did get on a flight home at 5:20 pm. Poor, Micah - it was quite a long day for him. We were lucky enough (again) to have a seat for him on the airplane. But, he just did not want to sit still. DH put on an Elmo DVD to keep him entertained, but it was a tough flight back. We finally landed around 7:20 and rushed to the car. Micah fell asleep on the way home, and transferred easily into his crib and slept through the night.

This morning, DH woke up early to help the Red Cross delegation leave for Haiti. I made Micah pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, and we had a fun morning together. This afternoon, we took Micah to a friend's house for a birthday party. He had a good time playing this afternoon, and he is just so sweet!

Tomorrow, I have to leave quite early to drive to Pennsylvania for my grandmother's funeral. We decided that DH and Micah would stay behind - the ride is just too difficult to make in one day with a toddler. I'm dreading tomorrow and saying goodbye, but I am so thankful that after everything, I made it back to be there with my family.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Goodbye, Grammy

My grandmother died this morning. I think, for the most part, I'm a bit numb. I've had my moments of crying and sadness on and off all day today - in fact, I'm tearing up now as I write this blog. And yet...a part of me feels as if I already mourned her loss. I think, on some level, I've been mourning her loss for years.

My grandmother developed dementia in her last years. Initially, she would misplace her car or her keys, or incessantly repeat herself. She forgot some basic things, and she started to have trouble knitting and playing cards or mah jong. In 1999, she moved from her home in Pennsylvania to an independent living facility near my parents' house. She was a lot of fun to have around - the repetition could be irritating, but she was in good physical shape, and she loved to just run errands, chat on the phone and keep me company. I used to visit with her every weekend (and talk to her several times during the week). She lived about 30 minutes from me, and I often went out to see her both Saturdays and Sundays. I would make the drive to her house and pick her up so I could run around, go shopping, grab lunch - whatever errands I had planned. Sundays, my mom, my grandmother and I would always spend the day together. We usually went to stores during the day, but we always finished our Sundays with a trip to the grocery store and dinner. I treasured those times we spent together.

While we knew her memory was getting worse, she was able to physically keep pace, and she always knew who we were. She repeated stories, but we could chat with her - about our lives, about important matters, and even she did not remember the conversation the next day, she was able to respond with advice and humor over the course of the conversation.

Things began to change when she fell and broke her hip. If my memory serves, it happened in 2002 - I had left my law firm and was taking classes so that I could sit for the patent bar. I had just started a part-time job (that ultimately led me to the work I do now). While physically she recovered from the injury, she rapidly deteriorated mentally after that. We had to hire assistants to make sure she ate and took her medication, and we had someone walk her to dinner every night. She lived for about another year or two in the independent living community before it became too difficult to sustain.

At that time, we decided to move my grandmother. She was aware of the move, and we discussed options with her. She did not always remember that we were moving her, and some days her memory was better than others. At that time, it was determined that she did not qualify for many of the care options because she was in great physical shape, and her memory challenges did not fully interfere with her daily living activities - she could feed herself, she could swallow pills, she could get herself dressed, and she could walk. Sometimes, she even knew the year and who was President. She always knew my mother and me.

After we moved my grandmother to the assisted living facility, she began to deteriorate rather quickly. Her memory worsened, and she slowly lost her ability to walk. It became too difficult to take her out for family dinners. By 2005, there were a lot of bad days - days when she did not remember me, and days when she was outright out of her right mind when I would go to visit. After a few horrible interactions, I became afraid of going to visit her by myself - emotionally, I just could not handle the "bad" visits alone.

I'm ashamed to admit that as the years progressed, I visited her less and less often. She was never awake after 6 or 7 pm. It was hard to coordinate my schedule to either bring DH or go with my mom. She was getting more frail and I did not want to see her when I was sick. But, more than anything, so often those visits just devastated me. I hated going to see her...and missing her while she was right in front me. Even worse, I hated the visits when she was angry or just did not know who I was. By the time I got pregnant with Micah, my visits slowed - sometimes weeks or even a month would pass between my visits. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I moved a bit further away from her, so my drive to visit her was over 1/2 an hour. I was on bedrest for much of the time, we were trying to settle into a new place and prepare for a baby, and 30 minutes in a car was uncomfortable for me. Once Micah arrived, it was hard to coordinate his napping and feeding schedule with a car ride and my work and her schedule. I brought him to meet his great-grandmother for the first time 2 years ago on her 95th birthday when he was 2 weeks old. Micah and I have both been sick a lot over the past 13 months, and I would have to say that sometimes 6-8 weeks would stretch in between my visits this year - perhaps even longer than that once or twice. This past year, my grandmother rarely knew who I was. On good days, she thought I was my mother. In a strange way, that comforted me - you see, I look a lot like my mother, and I always felt she was recognizing that I was her family when she thought I was my mother.

As always, we went to visit my grandmother on her birthday - January 1. I brought Micah for a visit then, and made her a birthday cake. It was a nice visit, but I had no idea that it was really the last time I would see her in such...good...shape. Less than two weeks later, she fell and fractured her skull, receiving the fatal injury that resulted in her death this morning. I went to her at the hospital the day she fell, and I even rode in the ambulance with her to the nursing home where we were placing her for hospice care. I visited her most days that she was there, but did not get there everyday.

On Sunday, I went to see my grandmother for the last time. It was bittersweet - I was so sad to see her like that. She was largely nonresponsive for most of the visit. When we finally woke her up, she ate a few bites of food, then started to refuse that. She quickly went back to sleeping. I stayed for about 1 hour before we left. I said goodbye, gave her a kiss, and told her that I loved her. As I looked back, I saw a very old woman sitting there - one who vaguely reminded me of the grandmother I had known and loved for so many years - but yet not the woman I remembered as my Grammy. She was disheveled and missing teeth, and she had a huge gash on her head from the fall. She looked thin and frail, and was sleeping with her mouth open as she sat in a wheelchair. I took one last look and thought "this may be the last time I see her."

I have worried all week that my grandmother would die this week while I was away. Even more so, I worried she would die at the beginning of the week, making it impossible for me to even attend her funeral. I cannot tell you the relief I felt when Wednesday came and went and she seemed to be relatively stable.

My mom called me last night (Thursday) to say that my grandmother had not had any morphine in over 24 hours and was still nonresponsive. She said she was breathing heavily, her heartrate was elevated, and she was covered in perspiration from breathing so hard. We both knew that my grandmother was done fighting - that the end was imminent. I think we both suspected the call would come in the middle of the night. I fell asleep at 1:00 am and woke up at 4:30. I checked my telephone, afraid I had missed a call. I was surprised that there were no messages. I tried to go back to sleep, but instead was up watching television. Around 5:30, I started to get drowsy...and just before 6:00 am, the phone rang. I knew before I even stood up to answer the phone that it was my mother and that my grandmother had died. My mother sounded very calm, and I do not think I even reacted much at first. The tears welled up a few times, but mostly we just talked about funeral logistics. My mom wanted to go visit my grandmother one last time, so she had to get off the phone and go.

I was up for the day at that point - tears coming briefly on and off all day, but for the most part, I kept busy. I was in meetings from 9 until 12 (and I fielded a few phone calls from family members about the funeral and travel). My grandmother's funeral was pre-planned and pre-paid...we only needed to agree on the time and day. The funeral will be on Sunday at 3:00. We decided there was no reason for me to rush home before my scheduled flight back tomorrow (Saturday). I came back to the room around noon, and we decided to go about our day as planned.

So, what did I do the day my grandmother died? I went to Disney World. Literally - we took Micah to the Magic Kingdom. I think on so many levels, I am appalled that the day my grandmother died, my world continued exactly as it would have if she was still alive. And while I am disgusted with that thought...I also think my grandmother would have liked that, too. We had two free tickets to Disney that DH earned through the give a day get a day program. Unlike any other year, I actually had no presentations scheduled today at the conference. We had decided before we even came down here that we would take Micah to the Magic Kingdom today. Since we decided not to fly back today, and since our only other alternative would have been to sit in the room looking sad all day, we decided that it was silly not to take Micah as we had planned. He certainly did not know that anything had happened, and I could not see how sitting around feeling sad and helpless would change anything. She would have loved seeing Micah on the rides and smiling, and she would have been happy knowing that he brought some joy to my world on a very sad day.

So, I'm ashamed to admit it, but my grandmother died, and I went to Disney World. Since I really am having a hard time with that, I will save my story about our time in the Magic Kingdom for another, happier post. I hope that doing something trivial and fun today does not make me a bad person - and I hope my Grammy knows how much I loved her, and how much I truly miss her in my life. I am so sad to think I will never again have a chat with her, or hold her hand, or kiss her cheek, or tell her that I love her, and hear her say "And I love you." I am so lucky that I had so many years with her, and so many wonderful times and memories. I cannot wait to go home and bake "Gram's Brownies" - and eat every last chocolatey, gooey one in her honor. Goodbye, Grammy. I miss you - this world is not the same without you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Expanding Horizons

The phrase "expanding horizons" has been at the forefront of my brain this week. Everyday, Micah is expanding his horizons - he is learning and exploring and growing and developing at an amazing rate.

On Monday, Micah, DH and I flew down to Orlando for my annual conference - one full year after we took Micah on his first plane trip. This year was quite a different journey. We were lucky enough to take Micah's car seat on the plane and put him in his own seat. He looked like such a big boy sitting in his car seat! We gave him some milk, cheese, crackers and applesauce, and Micah sat in his seat happily munching, clapping, laughing and chatting. During takeoff and our ascent, we ran into some fairly significant turbulence. At one point, the plane was thrown around quite a bit, and all I can say is how thankful I was that Micah was safely strapped into his car seat - I am certain he would have hit the roof of the plane during some of those bumps and drops had he not been securely seated.

For the entire trip, Micah was alert, awake, and quite active. Perhaps too active. In fact, he had a lot to say on the plane ride. He was practicing his high-pitched screech for all the passengers (one of his new tricks that drives my father insane - and probably all of those traveling on the plane with us). He felt the need to say "hi" and "bye" to the other passengers as well. After we happily ate and played a bit...Micah got antsy. After checking on the time, I realized that we were only 30 minutes into a 2 hour flight. Uh-oh!! DH took Micah for a quick walk up and down the aisle. When he returned, Micah was more interested in climbing on his car seat and smiling at the man sitting behind him than sitting in the car seat. We strapped him in over his objections, and then the fun began.

Micah was a bit cranky about being tied down and he was not afraid to express his displeasure. For the next 40 minutes or so, I was able to keep him quiet as long as I was quietly singing to him. If I stopped singing for even a moment, the loud complaints started again. I then spent some time tickling and playing with Micah...which kept him happy, but laughing quite loudly and probably disturbing the passengers almost as much as his unhappy noises. We intermittently gave him his bottle of milk and plied him with food. While we were on the plane, Micah spotted DH's cup of selzer water, and made it clear he wanted to drink from that cup. So, we let him try. While he did dribble a fair amount down his shirt, he was actually pretty adept at using the cup. Even funnier - he LOVED the selzer water! I thought he would hate the carbonation, but he could not drink enough of it. I think he easily drank 1/2-3/4 of a can all by himself. It was so funny to watch. Although the selzer water kept him occupied for the remaining part of the trip, he was clearly exhausted and ready for his nap. We finally made it to Orlando about 20 minutes late.

We moved quickly off the plane and over to the car rental place. Naturally, things did not go exactly as planned. The bank of elevators was broken and would not let us off on the first floor to get to the car rental. DH took the escalator up to check in, then I had to go back and sign the paperwork when he returned, and then we had to traipse all over the airport trying to find an alternate path via elevator back to the first floor so that we could get over to the garage and pick up our vehicle. After that ordeal, both DH and I were tired and frustrated and Micah was exhausted and desperate for his afternoon nap.

Our next challenge - installing the car seat. After doing a lot of calculation and consideration, we decided to buy a new but inexpensive car seat last week, specifically for traveling. We selected the Graco ComfortSport because it was inexpensive (normally $100, marked down to $80 because they were trying to deplete their stock of this color, and on a special sale for 20% off - so all told, the car seat cost us $65). This car seat is fairly easy to install, relatively lightweight, and comes with the EPS side-impact protection foam. We felt that it was a perfect seat that balanced safety against cost. We had researched renting a car seat, and we learned that the car seats cost about $15-$25 per day (so a 6 day rental would have cost us $90-$150). Additionally, many of the car seats offered by rental companies are not the best quality. With that information, we figured that this trip alone would cover the expense of the car seat.

Anyway, the day we bought the car seat, they showed us how to install it. I had asked DH to practice installing the seat before we left, just in case it presented any problems. I bet you see where I am heading with this. Yes, you guessed it - DH did NOT practice installing the car seat, and did not know how to properly install it when we arrived in Orlando. He would not read the directions, and he would not listen to me as I explained to him what needed to be done. I was SOOO frustrated with him! We initially tried installing via the seatbelt method (as we had been shown) but DH did not understand how to make it tighter so the seat would not move, and I just did not have the strength to do it myself. After that, we switched to the "latch" method of installation. After watching DH struggle with the installation, I pointed out the obvious flaw in his installation method. Once he gave in and listened to me, we were able to hook the seat in fairly quickly and tighten it up...just over 1 hour after we first started the process. Poor, Micah - he was tired and cranky and just wanted to nap!!

We got in the car and headed to the hotel. Micah fell asleep immediately and napped during the ride home, while we checked in, and while DH unloaded the car. This year, we decided to stay in one of the "villas" as opposed to the regular rooms. The villas are quite nice - they come with 2 full bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a living room/dining room area, a kitchen and a screened in balcony. Having the kitchen is so much easier for feeding Micah meals, and the layout really does give him a fair amount of room to walk and play.

Our first night, we decided to head out to dinner. We intended to go to Olive Garden - quick, inexpensive, and we know Micah loves the food. Instead, we decided to stop at Golden Corral. I think Micah fell in love with that restaurant. I find it amusing, as Golden Corral is not exactly known for its high-quality atmosphere. Regardless, Micah loved the music playing - he danced and clapped along. The diversity of food options also worked for him - whatever he did not like, he threw on the floor, but there were 300 other options to try!

We did make a few new discoveries at the Golden Corral. First, Micah learned that he likes olives (much to my surprise - I guess he takes after mommy and not daddy) and hard boiled egg whites. We gave him beans and fruit (he was particularly fond of the canned pears and peaches, and he even ate craisins, papaya and melon (and he NEVER likes melon!)). He ate a few strawberries, grapes and pineapple as well. Unfortunately, he would not eat the macaroni and cheese or the meat and chicken, but he did eat a bit of potato. I did not have much luck getting him to eat broccoli.

For a few weeks now, Micah has been obsessed with ice cubes. He will crawl over to the freezer whenever it is open (we have a french-door refrigerator with a bottom drawer freezer) and he reaches in and grabs ice cubes from the icemaker. He loves to sit and play with them, suck on them, and generally make a big mess whenever he can. When he sees ice cubes in DH's glass, he often will fuss and cry until DH gives him one. At the Golden Corral, Micah's experience drinking from a cup on the plane and his ice cube obsession converged into a new experience! He saw mommy drinking water through a straw from a glass with ice, and he wanted it, too. I presented him with the straw and told him to suck, and much to my amazement, he was able to drink the water! He went to town drinking water from the straw. Naturally, Micah spotted ice cubes in the glass, so he also had to dip his hands into the glass while he was drinking and fish out the ice cubes for playing. I swear, his hands were so red and cold that I think he might have gotten frostbite! He played with that cup of water, drinking, splashing, and enjoying the straw, for over half an hour. We did have one minor crisis - Micah dropped the straw and became hysterical. Luckily, the waitress quickly brought us a new straw and order was restored. I felt terrible about the huge mess we left on the floor for the staff - I hope the nice big tip we left makes up for that!

We stopped at the grocery store on the way back to the villa to pick up some food for breakfast and lunch. Micah went to bed fairly easily, and slept well. On Tuesday, I woke up bright and early to attend my first all-day meeting. DH played "manny" all day and the two of them had a great time. At lunch time, DH and Micah came to visit me. Micah showed off for all of my colleagues, walking all over the place, flirting with the ladies, and generally looking adorable. We fed him lunch and then I went back to my meeting. We had dinner plans to meet up with some of my work colleagues for dinner at 6:30. Once again, Micah was charming and quite well behaved (albeit loud). We opted to eat dinner in the "fancy" restaurant (I do not think they are used to children there). Service was incredibly slow - we were seated at 7 but saw no food until after 8:00 pm. We loaded Micah up on bread, but he really did not get much of anything nutritional for dinner. By the time the food arrived, he was disinterested in the options and sick of sitting in the high chair - he felt it was time to walk. DH was only able to eat half of his meal before he had to excuse himself and take Micah back for bedtime.

Today was the all-day pre-conference I was co-teaching. It was an 8 hour day, and I was the lead for 4 hours. My day got off to a rough start - I had set the alarm for 6:00 am, but the first thing I heard this morning was Micah wailing...at 7:45 am! My pre-conference began at 8:00, so it was a crazy mad and disorganized dash out the door and off to my meeting. I was quite out of breath when I got there. Running while pregnant (and without breakfast or medications in me) was a BAD idea. Once I caught my breath, the pre-conference went quite well. I returned to the villa around 5:00 pm, only to find that Micah fell asleep for his afternoon nap at 4:15. DH and Micah spent time at the pool today and apparently had a wonderful time. Micah slept until after 7:00. We eventually woke him up, and the 3 of us ate dinner together at the dining room table - a real family dinner! Because he napped so late, it was almost 9:30 before he fell asleep tonight. He is currently sleeping soundly in the pack and play in the second bedroom. Micah also discovered his stroller tonight. This is our new MacLaren Volo (the lightweight umbrella stroller). We are loving it - GREAT for travel. Micah thinks it is a toy - he loves to climb in and out of it and push it all around. He has been trying to climb on chairs and couches and coffee tables everywhere, too. We have quite a climber on our hands!

Tomorrow I have two more presentations and a series of meetings. It will likely be another crazy day. We are trying to figure out our plans for tomorrow night, and if I can keep my schedule clear on Friday, we are hoping to do something fun with Micah during the day. I have a friend coming up for a visit on Friday afternoon, then on Saturday I have one more presentation before our flight out at 2:45. Let's hope Micah falls asleep on the plane ride back!

It is hard to believe that another year has passed. I love to watch him now, exactly one year later, and see how much he has changed since our last journey down here. What a year this has been, with so many opportunities to expand his horizons! Over the past few weeks, we have been learning so much about Micah as he explores new things. He LOVES Clementines - he gobbles those little oranges up as fast as he can shove them in his mouth. He makes me laugh - if he sees us peeling one, he comes running right over to grab a section. No need to offer it up - he will snap it right out of our hands! If allowed, I think he would eat 2 or 3 Clementines on his own at any one sitting.

We've finally had some success getting Micah to switch to a sippy cup. He still prefers his bottle for comfort first thing in the morning and at bedtime (and if he is extremely tired or not feeling well), but I suspect we will be able to break him of that over the next few weeks. I still love how he snores when he sleeps, and how he can be actively playing with toys and he just needs to run over to me for a moment to give me a hug, snuggle his head down and suck his thumb for a moment before he returns to playing. I love watching him interact with his toys as he learns to use them more everyday. He loves to take all the different toys and stuff them inside other toys. We have a gumball machine, and we are constantly finding weebles, a polar bear and blocks stuffed in the top in addition to the gumballs that belong in there. The same goes for his choo-choo train that is meant to "spit" colored "ping-pong" balls - he prefers to stuff the caboose with blocks, legos and puzzle pieces. He makes me laugh as he waddles all over the house carrying his toys...or a dish towel...or puzzle pieces. I love his obsession with the phone and how he always pulls his socks off. I also love how Elmo is the center of his world - Sesame Street puts him in a stupor, but the moment he sees Elmo (and in particular, the Elmo's World segment on Sesame Street), he begins clapping and smiling.

I guess I am feeling a bit nostalgic about Micah growing up. At the same time, I am so excited to continue watching him grow and learn. There will be so many more opportunities for him to continue to expand his horizons, and I hope I will continue to experience all of them.

On another note, my grandmother is still hanging in there. She is no longer really eating much of anything, and she is rarely awake and communicating anymore. Everyone is amazed that she has managed to hold on this long - unfortunately, I wish I knew if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I am glad that she has held on this long for me. I just hope she can be at peace and comfortable.

Friday, January 22, 2010

New Shoes

Yesterday was a fun day! It is so nice to be able to say that for a change. Micah had a bit of a rough night on Wednesday - it seems his top two teeth (that have been sitting just under the surface and visible for almost two months now) finally poked through! He woke up around 4:00 am crying, but quickly put himself back to sleep. At 5:30, he woke up crying again, so DH went in and gave him some Tylenol. Thankfully, he fell back to sleep again...and slept until 9:45!!

He woke up nice and cheery and cuddly. I gave him a bottle and made him French toast for breakfast. He really seems to love that. I put a touch of cinnamon and vanilla in the batter, and we used applesauce and organic strawberry jam to add a touch of flavor. Needless to say, naptime did not happen as planned at 10:30.

The architect arrived at 10:30. We sat down and discussed options, and I think we finally made a decision to go ahead with the renovations. I must admit - I'm not exactly thrilled about the decision. I would much prefer to just get rid of this house and move somewhere new. I think I'm about to go off on a tangent here and get away from the "fun" part of the day :).

If we renovate DH's house, there are still a few basic problems. 1) The house is on an extremely small lot, and we will not have much of a backyard for our children (no swing set or jungle gym for them). 2) We cannot get all of the rooms we want. I could live with giving up some of those things if it was unreasonable, but for the money we have to spend, there is no reason we shouldn't be able to get exactly what we want. 3) Even with the renovations, the rooms will be relatively small and our storage and closet space will be somewhat limited. 4) We will definitely not have a garage at this location (while not necessary, it really is something I prefer to have). 5) I think the current house is kind of ugly - and the renovations will not fix the "ugly" part for me. I also do not like that we are situated near a very busy street (dangerous for children and animals) without sidewalks. The street is narrow, so street parking for visitors is also a challenge. Our "view" also includes two very large apartment buildings and a fire house, which I feel are detractors from the "ambience." Because of these shortcomings, I just am reluctant to renovate the house. Add to that, we'll have to move 2 more times - and live in my condo (which is also too small) for another 6-9 months. We will have to be living in the condo with a new infant, and we'll be moving with a baby that is a few months old. That is just a challenge in terms of space and exhaustion level. Did I mention that there are 40 steps to my front door at the condo? Imagine carrying an infant seat up and down that! And I'm worried about Micah falling down all those stairs, too.

As you may not know, if we decide to move, DH and I cannot agree on a location to live. Ironically, there is only a 3-4 mile difference between where he wants to live and where I want to live - and "compromise" does not seem feasible here (at least not for DH). DH insists on living within a few blocks of public transportation and wants the ability to bike downtown. That leaves us with a very small radius of "acceptable" and the homes are all quite small, on tiny lots, and very expensive. Any of the houses I want to live in that are in our price range are outside of DH's desired living radius. I just can't seem to convince DH to give in on any of his priorities and meet me halfway. He seems to think if he gives up any one of his priorities, then the living arrangement is unacceptable. It frustrates me, because he expects me to compromise on living environment, and he does not seem to think that is a significant compromise.

We went house hunting this past weekend - we saw one "perfect" house that I would love and he could manage the location (although not ideal for him), but it was absolutely outside our price range. We *might* be able to swing it with some fancy financial moves, but to me, it does not make sense to risk being that "house-poor" - what if we lose a job or have a family emergency? I just don't want to worry that tragedy could cost us our house, too.

My proposal was to figure out how much it would cost us to stay, and figure out what house we could buy for the same amount of money. I suggested we add the cost of our current mortgage to the cost of the proposed renovations, and then add in the profit we would make by selling our house now. I suggested that total should be the maximum amount we should spend on any house (basically, we would be paying no more than the cost of renovating our existing house). Luckily, that gives us a pretty decent housing allowance - but not quite enough to get the house I think we need in the area DH wants to live. We are in a no-win situation! I just feel like I'm left without options - we have to do something to make room for Twoey, and if we wait any longer, we have a real problem. I think if I insist that we move, DH will be miserable and make me miserable. I'm hoping that if I give in here, perhaps he'll be willing to move in 5 years and he'll give me what I want (or be willing to compromise then). I just hope I'm making the right decision - because this process does not make me happy.

Okay - forgive my divergence! I'm now back to the "yesterday was fun" part of the post. After our meeting with the architect (and our long discussion that followed), we took Micah to his class. Micah loves this class! It is an hour long, and they have educational toys and "free play" time, followed by music/singing, then physical learning activities, then tactile/art time (they played with butcher paper). He loves to dance and play with the instruments. The hour passed quickly, and it was evident that Micah was exhausted without getting his morning nap. Unfortunately, we had one more errand to run - we needed to buy Micah shoes! Micah fell asleep on the way to the shoe store, but we woke him up and dragged him inside. We picked out a pair of these adorable brown suede walking shoes - they come up to his ankles. My little man has fairly small - but very WIDE feet! He wore a size 4 double wide!! I love his adorable fat little feet :). By the way - many thanks to my parents, who paid for MIcah's first pair of shoes. I am fairly certain he'll need one more pair, so we'll go looking again over the next week. Baby shoes are more expensive than I expected, but it really is important to make sure they fit correctly. I've been shoving Micah's fit into regular width shoes all this time, and that is not good for his feet or his walking development. Now that I have his shoe size and one properly fitting pair, I'll go in search of a "bargain."

We got home from shoe shopping and Micah took a nap. He only slept for about 1 hour, though - I had expected a much longer nap from him! DH went out to help the Red Cross while Micah was sleeping, but did not get home until Micah's bed time. He went back out again around 10:00 pm and spent the night out working.

My grandmother seems to be holding her own. Yesterday was a good day, and I am hoping to get over there today and see her. I did not make it this morning yet - I fell down a flight of stairs last night and injured my ankle. Quite a good run of luck I'm having, huh?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bad Thing #3

Perhaps I should not have asked about Bad Thing #3...naturally, of course, I found my answer. I guess I should be feeling relieved - because in the scheme of things, Bad Thing #3 is fairly tame. I was in a car accident today on my way to visit my grandmother. Yes, that is right, a car accident! Some idiot plowed into the rear of my car while I was stopped at a red light. This guy was probably in his late 70s with a handicapped tag. He was driving a VERY expensive, shiny and new Mercedes Benz. He did not have his insurance card on him, and he seemed to be very amused by the situation. I think he was yapping on his phone and did not notice that there was a stopped vehicle in front of him. I was so angry at him - he made me late seeing my grandmother, he could have hurt someone, and he made me worry about Twoey's safety. I don't see anything amusing in that situation!

A police officer made it to the scene - and I think she should have given him a ticket for failing to produce his car insurance (and frankly, for rear ending me, too). I'm actually perhaps more irked about that than anything else. There was very little damage done to our vehicle, and I do not think this guy will learn anything about how dangerous his behavior was. I wish he had gotten a ticket or something else that would serve as a "ding" for his insurance.

I know - focus on the fact that I'm safe, Twoey seems to be fine, and there was very little damage done to the vehicle. I'm a little sore, and unfortunately cannot stop worrying. I called the OB office, and they said I should not come in unless there is visible bruising. I can do that, right? I'll be running upstairs to drink some orange juice and see if I can feel this little baby kicking around in there.

So...now that I've discovered Bad Thing #3, can I get back to the good things again? I miss focusing on all the good right now. Is it wrong to feel guilty for enjoying the good things when there is so much bad happening all around? Thanks for bearing with me...I will try to make my next post a happy one.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The good and the bad

I'm so sorry I've been quiet again. You see...I just didn't know how to write this post. I've decided to just write it all out - the good and the bad. I keep spinning around in circles, wondering if I should lead with the good, then tell the bad, or perhaps I should get the bad things out first and end on a high note. For lack of a concrete decision, I guess I'm going to ramble a bit, and perhaps just share the events as they unfolded.

Back around June 29 last year, I started to write a post entitled "Bad things happen in threes." I do not know how many people have heard this saying, but it always seems to ring true. When I started the post, Farah Fawcett, Michael Jackson and Ed McMahon had just died. Shortly thereafter, Billy Mays died, and I was wondering what "bad" things were coming next. I do not remember what the remaining 2 things were...and I guess I just did not feel the need to talk about Farah, Michael, Ed or Billy.

But, back to the present. Last Saturday, we went to a first birthday party for Micah's friend Owen. We met them in our breastfeeding support group - hard to imagine that a year has already passed and our boys are growing up. We had a great time playing and eating pizza. Micah showed off his walking skills, too. The following day, we had another birthday party at a Gymboree. Micah was so funny, trying to walk around and play with the "big" kids. He had fun on the slide, he loved the singing and the parachute, and he was all over the place. He even sat at the table in a "real" chair (okay, a child-sized chair) and ate off a plate (well, he occasionally tried to dump the food on the floor). I intended to come home and blog about our fun party experiences, but I got a bit distracted by "Bad Things."

Bad Thing #1: I guess the "bad things" started when I learned that my online friend, Eve, lost one of her precious twins - her son, Will - at 25 weeks pregnant. Like everyone else hearing this news, I was stunned. How could such an awful thing happen? And to "one of us"? Isn't infertility enough to endure without such tragedies? I have been stunned that something so awful can happen. I do not even know how I could possibly comfort her during this time...but my heart aches for her. I have been thinking of Eve and her other precious twin Abby, and hoping that she remains strong and continues to grow and thrive.

Even worse than how awful I feel for Eve - the selfish panic has a way of hitting home with me right now - at only 18 weeks pregnant. Yes, I said it - hearing of such a tragic loss became a selfish moment for me, too. I feel awful even saying that, but it has been sitting right there in the back of my head since I learned of this tragedy. I guess hearing that something so awful has happened to someone I care very much about is terrifying - it really made me think about how it could hit that close to home for me, too.

Bad Thing #2: Haiti. Need I say more? I just sit here, appalled every day that there is such devastation in Haiti. My husband works in emergency response, and he has spent much of his time since the earthquake planning logistics and getting equipment and supplies down to Haiti. I have to say, I do not understand why it is taking so long to truly provide the relief they need. I am angry that so many have died during the earthquake, but I'm even angrier that perhaps tens of thousands are dying because they are buried beneath rubble and rescue teams have not gotten to them in time. What a terrible way to die - alive, trapped under rubble, waiting to die of starvation or dehydration. I'm shocked that survivors are starving to death because there is no food or water for them. I'm disgusted that doctors are choosing to amputate limbs to avoid infection because there are not enough antibiotics or sufficiently equipped ORs to provide better alternatives. I heard that at ONE facility alone, they are performing more than 70 amputations a day. I hurt knowing that despite all of the will in this world to help, send supplies, send rescue teams - we do not seem capable of fixing this with sufficient speed to save everyone.

A GOOD INTERLUDE...I've been fixating on the bad things, but somewhere in this week, I wanted to post about how much Micah has been growing and changing. He is truly walking now - he is on his feet more than he is crawling. His language skills are growing - he makes a sign for phone, he claps, he understands when I tell him to bring me something or throw me a ball, and he has started saying the word "ball." I have some amazing video of him toddling all over the house! I'll have to post some more video in a few days when I can focus on all of the good things.

BAD THING #3: Perhaps it was foreshadowing, but we had a terrifying experience last Tuesday night. Micah was sitting on the couch with me, and as he always does, he crawled to the end of the couch by the arm. I was talking on the phone to my mother, and I had my hand resting on his feet. I thought I would feel him if he tried to push off to take a header off the couch, and that I would be able to pull him back or stop him. Yes, you can see where I am going with this. It all happened in an instant - so fast, and yet it was like watching a movie in slow motion. Somehow, without pushing off with his feet, Micah started to fall over the arm of the couch. I started to yell and dove after him, throwing the phone somewhere on the floor. I got to the arm of the couch and felt his legs brush through my hands as I missed grabbing him. I watched my sweet little baby boy land on his face on the floor...and then while his face was still down, I watched the rest of his body flip over, bending his neck almost 180 degrees before he landed flat on his back and his face popped up off the ground. I know I stopped breathing for a second as I stood over his body. From the way his neck bent, for a moment I was certain he was either dead or paralyzed. I was afraid to grab him and move him - terrified that would make the injury worse. For a second, Micah did not move or make a sound. That was the longest moment I have ever endured. I have to say, the relief washed over me when he started screaming and moving - my first thought was that he was alive and not paralyzed. Since he was already moving wildly, I decided to gently pick him up and hold him. I quickly realized he could move all of his limbs and turn his head. He had a bad scrape on his nose and a bit of a red mark on his forehead. We immediately called the doctor to figure out if we should go to the emergency room. Micah quickly showed us that he was able to walk and was behaving normally. When the doctor called back, she assessed the situation and told us that it was unlikely he needed to go to the emergency room and be put through xrays. We kept him up another couple of hours before putting him to bed, and I checked on him throughout the night, terrified something bad would happen to him overnight. The next morning, Wednesday, Micah appeared no worse for the wear. He had a big red triangle on his nose - the kind kids get with a skinned knee. He looked a lot like Raggedy Andy!! But, much to my surprise, he did not even seem sore. I hated letting him out of my sight for a moment, but he insisted on running all over the place.

A few hours later on Wednesday morning, I got another call. Round 2, Bad Thing #1: My grandmother fell and was being rushed to the hospital. My mother told me that the fall did not sound like a big deal, and they were merely sending her to the hospital as a precaution. When my mother got to the hospital, she called again - apparently, they suspected that my grandmother had fractured her skull, and her temporal artery burst. After they stitched it up and took xrays, they confirmed the fractured skull. She then had a CT scan, which identified 3 major bleeds in her brain. They briefly discussed surgery, but my grandmother is 97 years old and she suffers from dementia. Surgery is traumatic - if she survived it at all, it would definitively cause a loss of function. Because of the dementia and her age, she is not a candidate for physical therapy to recover that loss of function. So, any surgery (if she survived) would likely have made things worse. Add to that, my grandmother was taking a medicine called Plavix, which is a blood thinner. Because of the Plavix, she has a difficult time clotting (making surgery dangerous and the bleeds unlikely to stop on their own). Ultimately, the doctor suggested we transfer her to hospice care. They seemed to think she only had a few days to live, at most.

This was devastating news. While my grandmother is 97 and suffers from dementia, and while we've realized she could die at any time, we just never envisioned this scenario. I went out to the hospital to be with my family during all of this. After a number of hours, we got my grandmother's transfer to a nursing home for hospice care approved. When the ambulance arrived, my mother drove ahead so that she would be there waiting for my grandmother when she arrived. As we prepared her for transport, she became increasingly agitated. She managed to pull the bandage off of her head (which was there to try and control some of the bleeding). She started yelling at the EMTs and she was very upset. At the last minute, I decided to ride in the ambulance with her, to help keep her calm. My grandmother often does not recognize me, but yet, she seems to respond to me. Perhaps it is because I call her Grammy so she knows I am family, or perhaps somewhere buried in her mind I am still familiar to her. Either way, I thought she needed me with her, so I hopped in the ambulance.

Unfortunately, I did not think about my terrible morning sickness, or how it is exacerbated by motion. Nor did I think about the fact it was rush hour and we were traveling 10 miles away. It was a VERY long trip - but I only threw up one time. I felt awful for the EMT - you should have seen the look on his face when I calmly asked him if he had a container I could use for vomiting. We arrived at the nursing home, and both my grandmother and I settled down. It was amazing how alert she was, and she appeared not to feel any pain!

The next day, Thursday, was Micah's 13 month birthday! DH was up and out at 4:00 am again to help get a team and supplies out to Haiti, so I was on my own that morning. I should have posted something joyous here to mark the event - but I was finding it hard to celebrate with such sadness surrounding us. Thursday was not a good day for my grandmother. She just slept all day, and barely responded to anything. We were getting mixed signals all day from the hospice providers - one minute they said she was doing well, the next minute they were not sure she was capable of swallowing food and water, the next minute the doctor was telling us she was in a coma and we should pull all food and water. At 9:30 pm, my mother and I made a run out to see my grandmother. We thought it might be the end. We got there ... and my grandmother woke up and chatted with us. We were angry at the doctor for his misinformation, but it was a good visit, and once again, I am so thankful that I had the time to talk with her and tell her that I love her.

On Friday, my mom went to visit my grandmother in the morning, and she was quite alert and responsive. My mother insisted they do a swallow test to determine what she was capable of eating, and she passed. I went out to visit later in the day. We insisted that they give her food and drink to keep her comfortable for as long as she can take it. Saturday, my grandmother seemed to be holding steady. Sunday was another good day, although I was unable to visit her.

We had a very busy day on Sunday. Micah had a bad night and ended up sleeping until almost 10:00. As a result, he missed his morning nap, and was like the energizer bunny! I decided that it was not appropriate to take him to the nursing home - he is too restless and wants to get into everything, and I just did not think it was a good idea to have him fussing or crawling on the floor while I was trying to sit with my grandmother. In the afternoon, my mom came over for a few hours to spend time with Micah. DH and I took advantage of the time and went house hunting. I've mentioned before that we only have 2 bedrooms in our current house - so we have a space issue when Twoey arrives. We are torn between putting on an addition and moving, and we just cannot make a decision. I'll save that discussion for another post. Anyway, we looked at houses for a few hours and realized that we still do not know what to do. We got home around 4:00, just in time for DH's brother and niece to arrive. She is a college student, and headed off to South Africa for a semester abroad! She was leaving from the airport here, so they drove down for the flight out on Monday afternoon. It was a nice, but brief, visit.

(NOTE - Round 2, Bad Thing #2 - Another earthquake hits Guatemala and El Salvador). On Monday, much to everyone's shock, my grandmother was stabilizing. The doctors kept telling us that they could not believe she was breathing and not in a coma with the extent of her brain bleed. And yet...there she was, chatting. She was definitely sleepy and her dementia was still an issue, but she was quite responsive to us - more chatty than she has been in a while. They got her up and bathed her, and they even put her in a wheelchair for a bit. We had a long discussion on Monday about finances - insurance coverage, Medicare, hospice services, etc. Unfortunately, because the doctors were certain she would not survive more than a few days, we did not keep her in the hospital for 3 days, so she is not eligible for some of the Medicare benefits (which makes a few things a bit sticky for us). We are trying to work around this glitch, but we hope to be able to keep my grandmother where she is for as long as she is with us.

After I got home from visiting my grandmother, we took my niece to the airport. We got her to the airport in plenty of time (despite the fact we were pulled over on the way out for an expired tag - long story, but the tag is actually NOT expired, but we cannot get the new sticker to put on my license plate). Ironically, we ran into our friend, Bill, at the airport. DH & I actually met at Bill's Superbowl Party in 2005. We offered Bill a ride home. DH's brother left as soon as we got back home. Micah was being cranky and refused to nap - it was a LONG day.

Today, however, was not as good a day for my grandmother. She is back to being very sleepy. She responds to my mother (I was not able to go visit today), but she has not been responding to any of the nurses or caretakers. She has been choking more during meals, which is dangerous for her, so we have had to pull back on what she is eating. It remains to be seen if she is just exhausted because she overdid it yesterday, or if this is the beginning of the decline we have been expecting. I am planning to go see her again tomorrow.

Another selfish moment ... I have a huge conference for work next week. All week - Monday through Saturday. This is the most important event for me all year, and if I miss it, I would lose my job. I'm terrified that something will change (or, to be blunt, that my grandmother will die) while I am away at my conference. How am I supposed to choose between being there to support my mother during a terrible time and my job? I hope I do not have to find out.

So...that is the good and the bad. Once again, I'm left asking - what is Bad Thing #3? I wish there did not have to be anything else to complete this chain. I hate that bad things seem to come in threes. And I hate that there is so much sadness tainting all the good right now.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Nose!!

We've finally taught Micah where his nose is! We've been asking him to find Mommy's nose and Daddy's nose, and he does seem to grab our noses most of the time when we ask him, but today we asked him "where is Micah's nose?" and he grabbed his own nose!! It was cute...and he held on to it for a VERY long time. I love to see the language development happening every day.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sesame Street Stupor

This video probably says it all....


video

Friday, January 8, 2010

Twoey's 16 week OB appointment and ultrasound

On Wednesday, we had our 16 week appointment. Unfortunately, DH was unable to join us due to a work conflict, and I wasn't able to record the heartbeat this time. The appointment went well - I was measuring right on target, I lost 2 more pounds, and I'm probably just stuck with the morning sickness. I have to get more bloodwork done, but they didn't manage to get me the bloodwork requests before I left. Frankly, I hate getting the bloodwork done anyway, so I just couldn't be bothered fighting!

Today was Twoey's 16 week ultrasound! We hoped they would be able to tell us the gender, and we needed to meet with the doctor about my contractions and pain. Naturally, they were late getting started. They started out doing a cervical length check, and it did appear there was some shrinkage (not such good news) but it was still at least 3.5 cms, which is a decent measurement, just shorter than last month.

Then, the tech got to it and started checking the baby. Everything looked great with Twoey! Baby was measuring about 3 days ahead (Micah was measuring ahead at this point, too). Arms/legs/head all looked perfect, and the little heart was pumping away, with a heart rate of 155 bpm. We got to see the kidneys and spine, and cute little hands and face. Best of all, Twoey decide to cooperate and show us the "goods"! Here are the photos we got:




Isn't SHE beautiful? Yes, we are having a little girl!

In other news, the fibroid is hiding well up against the placenta, but the doctor feels that it will continue to give me some problems. I was given a prescription of Indocin to take for the pain and contractions, but not more than 48 hours worth of medicine in any one week period. Hopefully, that will do the trick! For right now, everything is going as expected, and our next ultrasound is scheduled for February 4.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Walking, Part II

After taking 3 or 4 steps a few times on Tuesday, Micah continued the trend on Wednesday, and even started to add steps. By Thursday, he had walked across the living room! He is still crawling more than walking, but we definitely have a walker on our hands. I finally got a video, but he would only walk for the video if I taunted him with my ipod.


video

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Walking!!

I can't believe it - Micah is finally walking! He has been so close for so long, and we've seen him take a single step here and there for a couple of months now, but no real progress. Since his birthday, he has started standing up just from the floor without any assistance or holding on to any furniture. The past week or so, he has gotten so strong that he could bend over, pick up a toy, stand back up again, and stand and shake or play with the toy. I've known he has been so close, but I just wasn't sure he would really get there.

Today, we were home with him all day (except for class). He kept getting this look like he was about to take a step, but at the last minute, he'd sit down. In the evening, we spent some time "walking" together and Micah would just hold my one hand. And then I started to encourage him. I got him standing on his own in the middle of the floor, and I stood just out of reach, holding something he wanted. He would lean and try and grab it, and after a bunch of different attempts, he took 3 steps and then grabbed me. I was able to get him to repeat this 3 or 4 times, and then he did it a few times on his own without prompting. I just can't believe it!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Turkey Burgers

One of my friends always seems to post recipes and demonstrations of the food she makes for her daughter, so this is my feeble first attempt to give it a try. Naturally, I forgot to take pictures of every step along the way, so it is quite light on the pictures. You'll just have to rely on my recipe and description!!

This is the 2nd time I've made turkey burgers for Micah. I actually am a vegetarian, so I have no idea how these taste, but Micah seems to love them, and DH says they are delicious. You could make these as a family dinner sometime, but I like having them around on-hand in my freezer because they are inexpensive, healthy, and I can pop one in the microwave and heat it up as needed in just one minute! We find this recipe quite inexpensive to make, and I think it is simple, too. We always use organic ingredients (meats and all the veggies) and in our area, we have been finding that Trader Joe's has some of the best prices for organic food, especially the meats. We have also had success with the "house" brand organics at the leading grocery store chains.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 vidalia onion, finely diced
1-2 tsps minced garlic
1 egg
1/3 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. grated zucchini (can substitute other veggies - I did it once with spinach, and I bet you could use pureed baby food, too, and I'm thinking about trying it with some tomatoes)

Take the ground turkey and place in a mixing bowl. Finely dice about 1/2 a vidalia onion. For the little babies, it is important to really make sure you have a fine dice - you want the onion to sort of disappear into the burger and just slide down their throat. I picked vidalia onions because they have a sweet flavor - they add some spice without being too strong. You could use a regular yellow onion instead, but use cautiously!!

Next, add about 1-2 tsps of minced garlic - Micah definitely likes the flavor, and you can go heavier as your baby develops a taste for spices. I'm lazy and buy my garlic pre-diced, but you could probably just use a garlic press with 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, or hand mince a clove or two. Feel free to add other seasonings to taste - whatever flavors you think will appeal to you and your baby! I have one friend that puts sage, basil and thyme into everything.

The next step is to prepare and shred the zucchini. The easiest way to prepare zucchini is to slice it in half, the long way:


Then, you take a spoon, and scrape out the seeds/pulp in the center. The zucchini will have a half-moon shape (or a c-shape) when you are done scraping. I scrape out the seeds/pulp because the texture is really not pleasant, and it does not add much flavor.

Next, grate the zucchini into the bowl. It may only take 1/2 a zucchini to get about 1/2 cup. You can feel free to add more or less zucchini as you see fit, and you can always substitute different vegetables. I have also made these with spinach instead of the zucchini, but any kind of squash, pumpkin or carrots or even broccoli could work just fine. Feel free to be creative! I am certain you could put pureed baby food in here, too (or instead of the grated vegetables). I like to grate the veggies because Micah really enjoys the textures right now. Adding the veggies is an easy way to sneak in some additional nutrition, especially now that Micah is getting picky about eating vegetables directly.

At this point, I add about 1/3 c bread crumbs and 1 egg. I find that the egg and bread crumbs help bind everything together and give it a good texture, but you can certainly try to leave it all out. I was told that after 8 months, we were allowed to give Micah things that contained egg whites, but we couldn't give him a straight egg white. I'm not sure why that matters, but pancakes and bread with eggs and burgers with eggs mixed in were all on the "okay" list. If you are nervous about using the whites, you could just put in the yolk. Micah was probably at least 9 months old before we were really giving him protein on a regular basis, but turkey burgers and hamburgers were a great texture for him as we started introducing meats and "table" food instead of baby food.

I put it on one of those burger pans - with the drip pan underneath and the slotted top. You can make the burger any size you feel appropriate. The first time, I divided the mix up into 16 burgers, but this last time, I only made 12. I am thinking that as Micah eats more, next time around, I may only make 8-10. I bake them in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes or so. It is a good idea to flip them as they start to brown on one side. You can usually tell they are ready by splitting one in half to be sure they are cooked all the way through. If you are at all nervous, you can always take a meat thermometer, and poultry is considered "cooked" when it hits around 160-165. The meat will continue to cook for a few minutes after you remove it from the oven, so once it clears 160, it is good to go.

Here is what mine look like after they are cooked:


I then let them cool, then individually wrap and freeze them. You can freeze them on a cookie sheet and put them in a plastic bag once they are frozen - that way they won't all stick together. I take them out one at a time when I want to give one to Micah, and they heat up in about 1 minute in the microwave. Any longer than that, they get too hot and we have to cool them down before we can feed him, but 1 minute makes them warm all the way through, and not hot.

Lately, Micah has gotten a bit picky, so he doesn't always like to eat these plain. Tonight, we discovered that a bit of marinara sauce on top makes them even more delicious - as far as Micah is concerned. These turkey burgers have been great for us - we can almost always count on him gobbling them up whenever we serve one, and it comes complete with some built-in veggies. It feels like a very complete meal.