Monday, June 30, 2008

Proof of Our Insanity?

Well, Chet decided about TWO hours ago that he's going to take a two-week class that started ONE hour ago! This is totally unlike him to sign up for something so late, but some things have changed in the last couple of weeks that have made it more reasonable for him to take the class. It's an evening class, so it won't interfere with his sleep the same way that the day-time classes would. He'll have five books to read, approximately five or six shorter papers to write, 40 verses to memorize, and at least one or two exams. He has the two Wednesdays off along with this Friday, so that should be helpful. We basically decided that it's just two more weeks of craziness that could save him a lot of hassle in the future. So he's going for it! I'm actually really proud of him for taking the plunge!

I really appreciate his intentionality and thoughtfulness on a regular basis, but every once in a while, it's good to just dive in. I like the challenge of this type of thing. It's sort of like a race against yourself to see what you can get done in a certain period of time. I guess the fact that he only had one day in India to prepare for a full day of teaching the following day is coming in handy already! And, like I said, Chet doesn't regularly spring things like a class (or anything, for that matter) on me at the very last minute, so I get excited for the opportunity to help him accomplish the goal.

As many of you know, Chet generally has at least half of the reading completed and has been thinking about it for quite some time before he steps foot into the first class period. This is clearly not the case this time! We're thankful that the books are not too terribly intense compared to some of the classes he's taken. He can work on the scripture memory at work here and there, which will also be good.

So, basically, for the next two weeks, he'll get up in the morning, set up the card table and hide away in Ladan's room, hang out here until I get back from my afternoon chiropractic appointments (on the days that I actually have them), go to campus for 90 minutes or so before class, go to class all evening, and then go straight to work through the night. Then he'll start it all again in the morning. So much for getting caught up on things, but I think this is one of the best reasons to end up staying behind! And who knows, I might just get as much done in the next two weeks as I did when he was in India.

Maybe the attitude we're demonstrating is a mark of insanity... or maybe it's what helps us keep our sanity. Either way, we're having fun!

I had my second chiropractic adjustment today, and it was even better than Friday's if that's possible. I'm so thankful for the way this is all working out! I'll write about my doctor's appointment the next time for sure. I hope. Lord willing. Unless something more spontaneous and exciting comes up first. You get the point.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Gone In an Instant!

I have had a really great two days! Yesterday I took the boys to the park to meet up with some friends who are moving back to Columbia. Then Chet sent me off for a day to do whatever I needed/wanted to do. I ran a bunch of errands that are easier without kids in tow. One of them was a trip to Barnes and Noble to get new journals for the boys. I write journal entries for them every once in a while to describe what's happening (starting with the story of their birth). After a few other errands, I went to Panera, ordered some dinner, sat down to eat, put my earplugs in, read my Bible, read a couple chapters of Great Expectations, and then wrote in the boys' journals. Then I had to fit in some grocery shopping at the end of the day. So I pretty much ran around for about 5 hours of my time and was able to chill out for 3 hours. That three hours in the middle sure was awesome though!

Today I went to my second chiropractic appointment. Wednesday was my first visit, at which time they did some initial evaluation, x-rays, and hooked me up to an electrotherapy massage machine for a bit. Today I met with the doctor to review my x-rays, talk through my treatment plan, and have my first adjustment. I've been considering going to the chiropractor for years, but I didn't know enough about how to choose a good one and didn't feel like it was urgent enough to take the time. However, it just seems to be getting worse and worse as time goes by. My mid-back and neck constantly are letting me know they're there, and many times they just hurt. I also tend to have some pretty massive knots in my back and neck muscles that cause some issues. Generally, Chet can help me some by popping my back, but it's not usually enough to take care of it. And ever since I was pregnant with Gabe, my lower back has refused to pop the way it used to, which has led to a pretty intense build-up of pressure that never goes away and drives me crazy!

When I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago (further explanation of that visit is coming in the next post), he confirmed that I have some vertebrae out of place and marveled at the fact that I function with such large knots in my back. He suggested a chiropractor down the street from our home. That chiropractor isn't covered by our insurance, but I looked into it further, and there is a Christian chiropractor I've heard good things about who IS covered by my insurance. His office is also right down the street in another direction. I called on Monday, and they had me scheduled for Wednesday. GREAT! I went into the office and ended up knowing two of the staff. Even better.

The chiropractor reviewed my issues. My back is indeed a bit out of line. My neck is worse at this point. It doesn't have the natural curve it's supposed to, and it leans a bit to the right side. He talked me through the treatment plan and described how he plans to help me correct these issues. As it turns out, many of my other issues (exhaustion, thyroid issues, cycle irregularities) are directly connected to the nerves in the exact areas of my spine where I have the worst misalignment problems. The hope is that, if my spine is realigned, then many of these issues may be corrected... all without medication.

One of my major concerns is paying for these treatments. When I explained this to the doctor, he helped me figure out how I can do as much of it at home as possible and only come to him for the adjustments. I basically have to do some neck stretching and 20 minutes of pilates every day. Then the office manager worked things out with the doctor so that things will be VERY reasonable and totally within our means. What a blessing!

Anyway, he did the first adjustment and popped my mid-back into place. Then I flipped on my side, he twisted me up in a knot, and used his body weight to crunch me down a bit. In an instant, all that pressure in my lower back that's been there for 2 years was GONE! Then he did the other side. I literally exclaimed, "That's what I've been waiting for for two years!" At the end, I flipped onto my back, and he popped my neck into place. I walked away feeling AMAZING!

There has been a bit of tenderness along my spine throughout the evening, but it's that kind of feeling that lets me know things are good (kind of like sore muscles after a really great workout, which is something I experienced earlier in the week after I ran a pretty good distance in the rain). I've also had that after-massage feeling all evening. If you've ever had a good massage, you know what I mean--it produces just a different feeling in your head and behind your eyes. In total, I'll have approximately 20-22 adjustments between now and mid-September. I'm excited to see how things pan out over the next couple of months.

After the chiropractor, I came back and got ready for a lingerie shower for a friend. Those are always super-fun! It's been a busy but fun week! I'm SO THANKFUL that Chet made it a point to let me take some time to myself yesterday and that he's been so great about keeping the boys while I do things like go to the chiropractor and do other things! Beginning with my refreshing run in the rain, jam-packed with working on a bunch of projects, and ending with an evening of girl fun, this week has been really nice.

As I mentioned above, the next post will be a more detailed description of my other recent doctor appointment.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Skinny Boys Rule!

We took Ladan to his 4-year doctor's appointment yesterday. He measured in at 42 inches and weighed 33.6 pounds. Well, they said 41.75 inches, but he was afraid of the thing coming down on his head, so he scrunched down a bit. If he straightened up, he'd be at least 42 inches, so we'll go with that. That puts him somewhere just under or at the 90th percentile for his height, and just under the 50th percentile for his weight. Not bad! At least until you look at the height to weight ratio chart where he shows up as being so skinny for his height that he's not even on the chart. When I look at him, I don't see him as that skinny. So I decided to play it forward a bit. If he's on exactly the same curve when he's 20 years old, he'll be about 6 foot 3 inches and about 152-155 pounds! Okay, well, that is one skinny man indeed! In any case, he's healthy, and there are no concerns at this point about his size and stature.

We also did a quick weight check on Gabe, and he gained about a pound and a half, bringing him up to the 3rd percentile for his weight. All right, little man! Again, he's much taller proportionally, so he's way off the chart (as in, way below the low end of the chart) for height-to-weight ratio... but he's healthy, and that's all I care about.

The doctor surprised me and told me that they generally do all the 5-year immunizations at the 4-year appointment. Hmmm. I had just told Ladan that he wasn't getting any shots at this appointment. They schedule the MMR, polio, chicken pox, and DTaP shots all at the same time. As a quick intro to the post I'll write later about my vaccine research, I'll say we declined the vaccines at this appointment. In short, here's why.... We know for sure that there are certain vaccines that we're not going to do, and the ones we might do will not be done all on the same visit. I need to review my research, and we need to make some decisions about whether and when we're going to get started on each of them.

We do know that we're not planning to do the chicken pox vaccine right now. It's made with some pretty gross stuff, and we'd actually rather our boys get chicken pox as children and get it over with. The childhood vaccine doesn't necessarily give them immunity into their teen and adult years anyway, and it's MUCH more dangerous for them to get chicken pox as teens or adults. I did read that the 5-year booster is supposed to make it more likely that immunity will last into adulthood, but it's obviously new, so the jury is still out on that one. So, our plan at this point is to hope that they can get the pox sometime when they're young and get it over with. If they don't actually get chicken pox, then we'll have them tested as preteens to see if they've got immunity (sometimes you can build up enough immunity even if you've never had chicken pox). If they're not immune at that point, and if the manufacturers use different stuff to make the shot by then, there's a 2-shot series we can get them to give them immunity through adulthood. Basically, if we can avoid the nasty ingredients AND give them lifelong immunity just by letting them get the pox during childhood, then that's a lot better than the alternatives in our minds. Or, better yet, if they can develop immunity during childhood from little bits of exposure without ever getting the full-blown disease, then they're in even better shape... and we will have avoided putting nasty stuff in their bodies.

There are two manufacturers of the DTaP vaccine (diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis). One manufacturer uses ingredients and a procedure that does not make use of nasty (i.e. possibly morally compromising) ingredients, so we'll just ask if we can get that one at our pediatrician's office and go for it. Both the DTaP varieties do include seemingly excessive amounts of aluminum, so this is something to consider. However, it seems like it's the case that coming down with the diseases would likely be a lot worse than the side effects of the aluminum. Hard to tell since there have been no real studies done on the way the body processes high doses of aluminum in certain immunizations. In any case, we'll probably go ahead and do this one if we can choose the one made without gross stuff.

As for the others, I need to revisit my research, and we need to think more about them. If you're interested, one book I've read recently is The Vaccine Book by Robert W. Sears, M.D. It was very well-written, easy to read, and lists all his resources in the back of the book if you want to do further research. I will say that it's fairly important to read the entire book just so you can get his full perspective on things, but it's such an easy read that I completed almost the entire book on one flight to Texas.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ladan's 4th Birthday... and Catching Up

Well, I am now the mother of a FOUR-YEAR-OLD!!!! Crazy stuff! Ladan turned four on Sunday, so we had a big party for him on Saturday. About 55 of our friends came, and we had a BLAST! Instead of gifts, we asked each family to bring a side dish. We played volleyball, soccer, had little things for the tiny kids to do, Chet grilled, everyone had plenty of food, and we all got to hang out. The weather was perfect, and the mosquitoes weren't even bad that evening.

My amazing friend, Jessica, saved my life by making all of Ladan's cakes. She made one chocolate football cake, two baseballs, and two basketballs. They were not only cute, but they were super-tasty.

Ladan was SO EXCITED about his cakes, especially the chocolate football cake!!!!!!!!!!!

We went ahead and gave Ladan the few gifts we got him, and he had a couple to open from people who decided to bring one anyway. It was hilarious, because his gift opening was a bit of a community effort. There were about 6-8 kids all opening each gift with him. Inevitably, a few of them would say that they had that particular gift and would proceed to give Ladan instructions about its proper use. Then Isaac would neatly organize and stack the toys over to Ladan's side. Pretty much just like at an adult party, huh?

Ladan has been asking for a tennis racquet for nearly a year (and waiting quite patiently I might add), so he finally got one. This is to replace the coasters he used whenever he would play tennis before. We got racquets for the entire family so we can all play together. I wrapped Ladan's in special paper and put the rest of ours in tissue paper and then put them all in our racquet bag. He opened them up, and they were a total hit. In fact, he visited Isaac's house yesterday morning, and as soon as we walked in the door, Isaac asked, "Hey, Ladan, did you bring your racquet?" Awesome! Apparently, Isaac's family has some racquets too, so he wanted to play. They're getting big, that's for sure.

We went the next evening to play at the courts down the street from our house. We all had a great time. It was a really fun Father's Day activity too, which went WAY undercelebrated in our house (just like Mother's Day) because of everything we had going on to fulfill our duties as parents! (Sadly, I still have Chet's Father's Day card sitting right here in front of me. Don't feel too badly for him--I didn't even get a card! :) Maybe we'll celebrate a bit better next week when things calm down a bit.)

Even Gabe was able to play around and hit the ball a couple of times. His tiny little racquet is so cute! By the way, his shorts in these photos are size 6-9 months. I know he's a little guy, but he's not THAT little! Shorts for little kids are sized so strangely! For that matter, Ladan's shorts in these photos are a pair of 18-24 month shorts! Whatever!

My mom came on Friday for the party, but she came down with some type of terrible illness, so she was in bed from that night until today aside from a shower and a trip to the ER to get some fluids in her body again. She missed the entire party and all of the weekend festivities. She's feeling lots better today, and hopefully, she'll feel even better tomorrow so she can get back home and in the swing of things (she was supposed to go home on Sunday so she could go back to work).

She did, however, muster up the energy to give Ladan the gift that she and my step-mom, Robyne, went in together to get him... a magnetic dry erase board, markers, eraser, and cleaning solution. Amber had a great idea to put magnetic letters on a board for Titus and let him draw and write as he learns... so I suggested it to the family. Mom and Robyne took care of the board, and Megan and Mike bought him the Leap Frog 3-letter-word magnetic set (as well as the Leap Frog Word Builder DVD that we can watch to reinforce his board activities). I think it will be a really fun way for him to learn how to read and write words! He learned all his letters at the age of 19 months using the Leap Frog single-letter fridge set. He's definitely ready for the next literacy step--reading simple words--and I think this will be a fun way to get there. He had a blast with it the first night we put it all together for him! Chet helped him build a few words and he was very excited! (Look closely in this photo on the left, and you can see his left dimple--his only one--because he's smiling so big... and his clenched fists.)

I have so much to catch up on with this blog! As Caitlin was so kind to point out, I've been a bit out of it lately! Well, she didn't say I was out of it, but that is indeed the case. Here are some of the things I have on my mind to write about:

  • My recent doctor appointments (I'm not pregnant in case you're wondering)
  • Research I've done on vaccines
  • Research I've done on #7 plastics in baby bottles, baby products, and adult water bottles
  • Clifton's Vacation Bible School--I'm a teacher's assistant for one of the 2nd and 3rd grade classes this week... my first time helping with VBS
  • Chet's photos from India
  • My sick grandparents
  • My fun office organization project
  • Our finances
  • The final family planning post, including some helpful advice we've heard along the way

Okay, so that's enough for one entry! Let's hope I don't have to wait another two weeks to post. And let's pray that my life slows down just a little bit in the next two weeks. I'm not looking to be bored, just less frantic.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Chet's Trip #9

They're in the city now. They have to pick up their baggage, drive to the seminary on the shuttle, and then get rides home. Just wanted to let you know now in case I forget when he actually gets home.

Chet's Trip #8 and Chicco Infant Seat Recall

Well, the guys are back in the country... hanging out in the Newark airport. They tried to get on an earlier flight, but it was full, so they'll wait. Chet's pretty exhausted as I'm sure they all are. They ran around all day on Sunday in Calcutta and got on the first plane that evening. He slept very little on the plane from Mumbai to Brussels. He did get some better sleep on the plane from Brussels to Newark because he had a whole row of seats to himself and was able to stretch out... but it was still only a few hours of sleep at best. They have an 8-hour layover in Newark before they fly the last leg of the trip. So basically, by the time Chet gets home, it will be like he's only gotten 3-5 hours of not-entirely-restful sleep collectively since our Saturday evening. It's no wonder it takes a long time to recover from that!

I have so many things to tell him about. I'm going to use part of the day today to make a list of things I want to remember to tell him so I don't have to do it all at once. Then I'll rest at ease knowing I won't forget, and I don't have to bombard him with all kinds of randomness when he doesn't have the capacity to even understand what I'm saying.

I asked him if there is anything in particular that he'd like to eat in the next few days. He said he's most excited about drinking a lot of milk and eating a bunch of cereal. And he doesn't care what we eat for dinner as long as it doesn't resemble Indian food... so I guess he did get a little bit tired of it by the end of two weeks. Easy enough.

So I'll dust our bedroom, scrub the kitchen, and mop the floors this afternoon while Gabe's napping. Then I'll do the grocery shopping this evening, and our house will be in good shape. By the time he's home, I will have cleaned every room of our house very thoroughly, been to St. Louis and back, and completed so many other random small and large tasks that I can't possibly list them all here. Of course, there's always so much more to do, but I think it's worthwhile to stop and enjoy all that the Lord has helped us accomplish in the last two weeks.

On a totally unrelated note, my brother just called me and said that their Chicco travel system (infant seat and stroller) have been recalled. The recall was official just today, and it looks like the problem is with the car seat base. So if you are one of the millions of people who own the Chicco system (it's the most popular seller these days), you might want to keep your eyes out for the next couple of days and be sure that yours is not included in the recall. I just looked it up on Google, and I found this blog that listed more details. But keep in mind that this is just a blog and is not an official website... so keep watching for more details and instructions.