Coming Up in 2009

Everyone knows how much The Skees Family went through in 2008. It was a LONG year filled with much heartache, worry and stress, but also much joy and many blessings. Rather than reflect on the past, I've decided to focus on the year ahead. We've got no less going on in the coming year, however by keeping a positive attitude and looking forward to the good things, I feel much better about being able to overcome the struggles we have ahead as well.

Here are some of the "bigger" things on the calendar in 2009:

JANUARY
  • Aiden and Ethan both have an appointment with the eye doctor - Aiden's is his recurring 3 month checkup (helps see if there is any pressure building up in his brain) and Ethan because he complains daily that his "eye hurts". Probably nothing, but it's always the same eye so I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and bring him along as well.
  • My neice Avery turns 1! I remember fondly making the up-and-back trip to NKY to visit my sister and brother-in-law at the hospital after Avery was born. She was this little (er, well, actually big) baby with a head full of dark hair. Little did I know that just 4 weeks later, her cousin Aiden would make his very dramatic debut.
FEBRUARY
  • Aiden's first birthday! It's hard to believe it's already been a year since Aiden came into the world 5 1/2 weeks early. With everything we've gone through, and all Aiden has endured, we're so happy to celebrate this milestone. We're planning on having a party for him early in the month so that he can dig into cake before his little hands will once again be in casts.
  • Aiden's 2nd surgery on his hands and feet. We will once again make the trip to Dallas, TX for surgery with Dr. Fearon, the trusted surgeon with extensive experience operating on kids with Apert Syndrome. Following this surgery, Aiden will have 10 fingers and 10 toes! It truly is amazing!
MARCH
  • Ethan turns 2! My sister pointed out to me that for a few short weeks, I will be able to say that I have 2 ONE YEAR OLDS! Wow! It's been a wonderful year for Ethan. He's growing by leaps and bounds and is super smart (have you seen the post with him reading his book? I mean come on...!)
MAY
  • Aiden has his head surgery. This surgery entails opening Aiden's forehead and making additional space for his brain to grow. They will also push the brow bone forward to better protect his eyes. The midface of kids with Apert Syndrome is typically recessed from just above the eyes to the upper portion of the mouth. Because of this, the orbits or sockets that the eyes sit in are usually more shallow. It sounds pretty scary, but we've been assured by Dr. Fearon that as far as recovery goes, this is easier than the hand/feet surgeries.
  • My cousin Joy is getting married! We're super excited for her and Chris. They make such a wonderful couple and we look forward to celebrating this special day with them.
  • Ricky and I celebrate our 4 year anniversary. We've accomplished quite a lot in the past four years, don't ya think?
JULY
  • My best friend Audrey's little boy Ty turns 1! Ever since the day I walked down the aisle as matron-of-honor in her and Todd's wedding I was asking her when they were going to have kids. I couldn't wait until my friends started having babies - I mean my kids needed playmates for gosh sakes! And even though I wasn't able to be there with her when Ty was born (they live in Owensboro), we try to get together as often as possible. They just grow up too fast!
AUGUST
  • My cousin Angie (Joy's sister) is getting married! We can't wait for this event - it's going to be one of a kind! Angie and Tim are a match made in heaven and we look forward to being a part of their day.
SEPTEMBER
  • Yet another cousin, Nick, is getting married. He and Kate make a perfect couple! Can't wait!
OCTOBER
  • My Godson, Jakob, will turn 1!
  • It must be the year for weddings! Jen, my friend and roommate from college will be marrying her high-school boyfriend Chris. I'm honored to be a part of it!
Then the holidays begin all over again! One thing we do know for sure - there will be no pregnant Taryn in all of 2009! Stay tuned to 2010...

I'm just sayin'...

So I've always heard that when kids show an early interest in books, it is a sign they may be a genius...

CLICK ON THE PHOTO BELOW


...I'm just sayin'.

As promised...

Click below for Christmas pics (keeping in mind that I'm NOT a photographer by any means...)!

> Christmas Eve at Grandma and PawPaw Skees'
> Christmas Morning at home

More to come from Christmas Day at Nana and Grandpa Pikes'!

A Very Merry Christmas!

Twas the night before Christmas on South Skyline Drive,
two boys went night-night in hopes Santa would arrive.

The stockings were rigged up on the mantle with care
as the cheap stocking holders held barely a hair.

As soon as the children were snug in their beds,
we each took a shot (our stay-awake Christmas meds).

With me in my pjs, and Ricky in his too,
there were presents to place...there was so much to do!

When all of the gifts were put under the tree
We both went to bed, at a quarter to three!

Bright and early in the morning (no sleeping in here)
we awoke to the sounds of "MOMMY, DADDY, COME HERE!"

We sprang from our bed to see what was the matter,
Was he hurt? or excited? It was luckily the latter.

As we pulled little Ethan right out of his bed
He clearly had visions of Santa in his head.

Away to the hallway he flew like a flash;
tore open Aiden's door in one hurrried dash.

The moon was still shining when he woke up his brother.
"Morning Aiden - wake up" he said. We smiled at eachother.

When what to his wondering eyes did appear?
"Pwesents! Santa!" He had in fact made it here.

With little restraint, he made his way to the tree.
Followed shortly by Aiden, daddy and me.

More rapid than eagles, the paper it flew.
He'd stare at one gift, then move on to a new.

And Aiden, a bit overwhelmed by it all,
warmed up to the chaos and was having a ball.

Our Christmas was special - the boys were so cute.
But for Ricky and I it was more than the loot.

It was having our family and everyone's health
that mattered much more than the measure of wealth.

We've got tons of pictures - and boy they're a sight!
But for now, I'm too tired to load them...GOODNIGHT!

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(Be sure to check the photo link tomorrow - I promise I'll add them soon!)

Ricky is an AWESOME dad!

It is an awesome thing to watch your children light up when they see their dad get home from work. He pops his head into the room and it doesn't matter if the Wiggles are on (I mean, come on, they usually are - sorry - I'm not one of those "TV off" kind of moms) or if Ethan has a bowl full of fruit snacks (oh yeah, not one of those "no sugar" kind of moms either), but when daddy gets home, their heads spin around and Ethan jumps up and down. Aiden giggles and laughs like crazy.


He immediately gets down on all fours to give Ethan a horsie ride or throws him high up into the air (WAY too high in my opinion).

They sure do love their daddy!

Some people might complain that their husbands don't do enough. I am one of those people that just can't do that. He cooks (way more than I do in fact), he does an occasional load of laundry, and every now and then he'll wipe the toothpaste from his sink. He makes fires when it's cold outside. He changes diapers. He fixes things. He empties the litter box. He really is sensational.

No - this is not a ploy to get a good Christmas gift. I post so much about the kids that I wanted to say something about the guy that makes all of this staying at home stuff possible. Although it is definitely difficult to go from having a full-time job and actually interacting with other adults to having tough to understand conversations with a not-quite two year old, I really am thankful that we've been able to make this work.


So thanks Ricky! I love you! And the boys love you so very much!

I do still have a social life...somewhat...

Now that I have children, my family is my focus. Although after being pregnant for nearly two years straight, then adjusting to life with two kids just under 11 months apart and all the medical issues with Aiden, sometimes a girl just has to get out and have some fun. And a few weekends ago I did just that!

First, I got together on a Friday evening with some of the gals that I used to work with at Service Net. After leaving my job when Aiden was born, I kept in touch with a few people, but hadn't seen some of them since I was in the office. It was a blast! We met up at a friend's house in Louisville for cocktails and appetizers (thanks Jennifer and all who contributed to the spread - it was wonderful). It's always fun to hang out with friends and watch the atmosphere change from standing around daintily sipping drinks to breaking it down in the living-room-turned- dance-floor.

That's when we hit the bars. I felt like I was back in college as we crammed into the backseat of one of the night's designated drivers' cars. Destination = Flannigans. Now, I'm well past the legal bar-hopping age, but I guess because it has been so long, I felt my palms get a little sweaty as we approached the door with a sign that clearly stated "Two Forms of ID Required for Entry". What? I had a Driver's License and a Sam's card - I hoped that would work.

It did. Phew. And in no time we were ready to throw back some Purple Hooters, Lemon Drops and the drink of the night, a concoction they called The Grinch.

I could go into detail about continuing our dance party (the fact that we were now in public didn't seem to matter to me!) and hitting up the bar one too many times, but instead, I'll just say I enjoyed myself.

When I arrived home a little before 4am, my husband knew he had his work cut out for him the next day. Luckily, by some miracle, my hangover wasn't too bad - although when Ethan insisted on watching the Wiggles bright and early, I will say that hearing "Toot toot chugga chugga, big red car..." was slightly more irritating than usual.

After popping a few Advil, I headed up to NKY to visit with my family and go out to dinner to celebrate my mom's birthday.

On Sunday I attended a cookie exchange party hosted by college friends Anna and Becky. I'm no Betty Crocker - that's a well-known fact, so even though they were going to be "judging" the cookies, I opted to make the super-easy Peanut Butter Blossoms (you know, the ones with the Hershey Kiss on top...one of my all-time favorite holiday treats). Needless to say, I didn't win but I thoroughly enjoyed tasting everyone's fabulous and a bit more complicated creations and sipping on some martinis and mulled wine. Yes, I know, more drinking - but hey I don't do it very often...well not with these friends anyway! Besides, my mom was watching Aiden and Ethan stayed behind at home with dad. This night was a little more sophisticated (no dancing ensued), but I had a GREAT time. A big thank-you to the hostesses with the mostesses (you know what I mean...) for throwing a great get-together. I can't wait until January when I get to see my old college pals once again at our house for our annual holiday dinner party.

So as you can see, a weekend out on the town may be a rare thing for a mom of two young kids, but knowing that, I just make up for it by having enough fun to last until next time!

Aiden's next surgery has been scheduled!

It will be Thursday, February 19. We'll be heading back to Dallas on Tuesday the 17th and if all goes well, should be returning home the day after his surgery, Friday the 20th!

As for his recovery from the first round, he's doing GREAT! His hands have healed very well and we've even gotten to the point where we no longer need to do his wrappings. He loves to use his new little fingers and can do so many new things with them. He's even taken a liking to tummy time! We're working with him to try to get him crawling, he's not quite there yet. But with all things considered, I'm amazed he's doing as well as he is!

Updated pictures!

I've FINALLY gotten around to making the move from Shutterfly to Picasa Web Albums. So...you can click HERE to view all the latest photos from the past couple of months, as well as the best ones from months past.

I went back through and looked at them from when Ethan was first born until now and same for Aiden and I can't quite believe how much they've both grown and changed in such a short period of time. It really is true, time flies!

Some of my friends are amazed at how organized my photos are. I must say it has taken a lot of time to get them this way - but what a gift to my boys when they are older to have them all in order like this. Gone are the days of thumbing through hard copies and wondering when a particular photo was taken. Isn't technology wonderful???

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Having children has totally brought back the excitement of Christmas and the holiday season. Don't get me wrong, I've always loved it, even pre-kids, but here are some of the reasons it's going to be SO much fun this year:

1. Ethan LOVES Christmas lights!

I mean really, what kid doesn't. But when Ricky and I put up lights and garland and decorations all throughout the house last year when Ethan was still a baby, we half expected him to start talking when he saw them just so he could tell us how beautiful they were. Needless to say, that didn't happen. He barely paid any notice. We were kinda bummed, but held on to hope that his reaction to presents under the tree Christmas morning would make up for it. That was another flop. We were definitely more excited than he was - we actually woke a sleeping baby because we couldn't wait any longer. We plopped him in front of the tree and videotaped his (barely there) reaction. And when he wasn't quite getting how to open his gifts, we impatiently ripped them open for him (yes, I know, we sound like the kids in this scenario!) Much to our dismay, he fussed and cried the whole time. We just didn't get it - why wasn't he excited? Then we remembered. We were so wrapped up in having our first Christmas as a family that we neglected to feed the poor child all morning!

This year, however, Ethan's little eyes sparkle the second we flip on the switch with the Christmas tree lights. "Christmas!" he shouts, pointing with excitement. He loves it all. The tree, the lights, the ornaments, the stockings. All things Christmas. Hooray!

2. Seeing Santa Claus.

Aiden is a month older than Ethan was last year (I know...11 months apart...terrifying!) so he is smack dab in the middle of his separation anxiety phase. I don't think he was scared of Santa, per say, but I think it was more the experience of his mommy and daddy throwing him in some strangers lap and running off to try to get a picture. He cried the whole time - but we expected it. We just wanted a picture. Now Ethan was only mildly afraid of Santa this year. He cried at first, but then he just stared at him intently. It looked as if he was scheming to pull his fuzzy white beard.

With a little distraction, and what could be called a small miracle, we got a great photo in which both boys are at least looking in the direction of the camera. Neither one smiled (but if you just glance at Aiden wailing, it kinda looks like he's smiling really big...) Despite the workout we got (we were actually sweating!) and the looks from others waiting in line - we were quite pleased with the way it turned out and look forward to many more visits with Santa in the future!

3. Teaching my children about the TRUE meaning of Christmas.


We've been attempting the whole going to church as a family thing for a while now, but have decided to split the responsibility as it's almost impossible to get two kids under 2 to behave and sit quietly for a full hour (okay, 45 minutes if you leave after communion, but still). So Ricky takes Ethan (and still spends most of the time in the crying room - remember the library post? We're still working on the whispering thing) and I stay home with Aiden. I think God understands.

But Ethan knows that we go to church to see Jesus, to read and to sing. He will point out churches and crosses that we see when we're driving. And when Nana sent the Fisher Price Nativity set in the mail the other day, I took the opportunity to teach him a little more. We set it up and put baby Jesus in the manger with Mary and Joseph on either side. I told him the story of when Jesus was born and about the three wisemen. He loves to play with it and I hear him saying their names under his breath.

Okay, so he may not fully "get it" yet, but if he's old enough to start understanding that "Santa Claus comes down the chimney to bring presents and toys" (yes, he will say full sentences like that...and he's not even two yet!), then I figure it's also time to help him understand why we celebrate this holiday in the first place.

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This year will be an extra special Christmas for us. Not only is it more fun now that Ethan is old enough to enjoy it so much more, but we have wonderful families with whom we will share the holidays as well. They keep growing and growing! The adults have decided to forego exchanging gifts between ourselves so that we can focus on the kids - there will be 6 kids at my in-laws on Christmas Eve this year ranging from just over two months old to 6. And the same goes for my parents on Christmas Day - 6 kids from ten months to 6 years old. How much fun will this be?!?!

But more than anything, it reminds Ricky and I of where we were a year ago and how far we've come. Last year a nine month old Ethan sat in my lap with my pregnant belly not giving him much room. We talked about how neat it was going to be to have two children, two boys, to celebrate this holiday next go round. We couldn't have been happier.

Then Aiden was born and our world was turned upside down. It certainly wasn't what we expected, and it took us some time to adjust, but here it is Christmas time once again. Our boys are both healthy and we're so thankful Aiden's surgeries went well. Despite it all, we've been able to turn our world right-side up again. And we couldn't be happier.

I'm addicted to Facebook

That's right. I'm officially an addict. I started out with MySpace - it was a great way to get back in touch with old friends or just be nosy about acquaintences. My mom said I was setting myself up to be stalked by sex predators. My sister told me I was so stupid for having a MySpace account (she was way too sophisticated for that).

Then I heard about Facebook and decided to check it out. I didn't like it - it was so different from MySpace and the layout was difficult to get used to. Besides, I felt like once I had an established MySpace page, it would be too hard to switch over to Facebook (kind of like getting a new email address - you're afraid people won't get the memo). I cancelled my Facebook account and decided to stick with MySpace.

I'm not sure when it happened or why - but I suddenly felt the urge to check out Facebook again. I started to feel like MySpace was so, like, ya know, juvenile. Yes, Facebook was definitely the way to go. I posted the best possible picture of myself (nevermind that it's from 3 years and 2 kids ago) and was on my way, slowly adding friends and updating my "Taryn is" status a couple times a week.

Out of the blue, my sister sends me a friend request. Yes, the same sister who gave me crap about MySpace. I laughed out loud as I confirmed her as my friend. I was her first. A few days later I checked her page again. She had 35 friends! Wait a minute, I only had 27. My too-sophisticated-for-MySpace sister had more friends than me. It was on. I began to message people from high school, grade school, college, my old job, and on and on. My sister was not going to out-friend me! What's become of me?

I now check my Facebook page religiously. I get excited when I open my email to find that so-and-so who knows me from such-and-such wants to be friends. Again. I used to laugh at the frequency with which people changed their status. I mean is it really necessary for people to know that you just changed a poopy diaper and now you are trying to get through last nights episode of Grey's Anatomy on DVR before your kid wakes up? Well, not really, but I find myself typing things as trivial as that on a daily basis. No, make that several times a day. UGH.

Let's face it (no pun intended), Facebook is pretty much the new high school reunion. The only reason anybody ever really wants to go to those things anyway is for one of two reasons: to show off how good you look, how much money you make, or how beautiful your children are OR to find out how good others look, how much money they make or how beautiful their children are. With Facebook, you eliminate the stressing about what you'll wear to the reunion. Instead, you can post pictures that show off only your best side. And if you really want to, you can photoshop the picture to make yourself look 10 pounds lighter (I've never done that by the way ;)

So, yes, if you ask, I'll be your friend. I sincerely love seeing how and what everyone is doing. And if I ask you to be my friend, I promise it isn't just to one-up my sister :)

PS - does anyone know if Dixie's class of 99 is going to have a reunion?

Casts away!

Today Aiden got his remaining three casts off. He was once again such a trooper - only crying a little when they took off the dressing that was closest to his hands/feet. I felt like I needed to reward him by taking him out for ice-cream or something. Still a little too young. Darn.

I'm glad that he had to get the one cast off early because it allowed me to prepare myself for the job of cleaning his hands and feet and applying the dressings. I had all the supplies I needed and had the system down pat. It definitely helped to have two weeks of doing just the one before having to organize myself to do both hands and both feet 3 times daily.


Here are some of the pictures from the doctors office today. Let me remind you all that they are a little graphic - but I guess I'm used to looking at them enough now that I'm not as hesitant to post them as I was the first time around. Please remember that they don't look "normal". And they probably never will. He will have all 10 fingers and 10 toes once all is said and done, but this was just the first stage surgery.

So right now, his left hand has the pinky free; the ring finger and middle finger are still together, the index finger and thumb are still together. The right hand has the thumb free; the index finger is still together with the middle finger and the ring and pinky fingers are still together. Those will all be separated in the second surgery in Dallas in February.

Regardless of how they look, let me just tell you how amazing it is to see your child wiggle his new fingers for the first time. He is already using them to feel all the different textures that he wasn't able to feel when they were all fused and had no finger tips. He loves to put them in his mouth. He plays with his toys. He holds his paci. I would have given a million dollars to get into his head and know what he was thinking the moment the casts came off. I guess the look on his face will have to do.

We are finally home (hopefully for good this time)

We got home from Kosair late yesterday evening. Aiden is still not eating consistently, but he will take a few ounces here and there when he feels like it. They felt that based on his input v. output measured while in the hospital, that he was okay to be discharged.
The bigger news is that we have removed one of Aiden's arm casts to reveal his brand spankin' new fingers. Over the past couple of days, we noticed that his left arm cast had a very pungent odor that continued to get worse. It smelled different from the other casts.We had spoken to Dr. Fearon and his nurse Cindy and they told us that we could go ahead and remove it at our discretion if we felt that the odor was bad enough that it might indicate a problem/infection. I didn't feel comfortable making that decision, so while we were at Kosair, I asked to have an orthopedic doctor come visit to get his opinion. As we were waiting to be discharged, the orthopedic resident came by and I filled him in on the situation. He said that he thought it was necessary to remove the cast to check for infection and be on the safe side.

I was panicked. I mean I know Dr. Fearon said it was okay to go ahead and do it (2 weeks early), but I was nervous, excited, and worried all in one. I wasn't sure if I was prepared. He spoke to his boss and he agreed. I had Dr. Fearon on the phone as he rolled the cast off his tiny little arm. He laid there calm as could be.
I won't post pictures of his hand for the mere fact that it looks VERY rough (which can be expected after surgery of this type and being bandaged and casted for 8 days). But let me assure you that the moment I saw his hand exposed and he wiggled his little fingers, I was a bigger mess than the pile of bandages left on the bed next to him.
My little boy has fingers. Amazing.
By the time I got him home, he was staring at them with as much awe as we were. He immediately used his hand to bat at toys and rub his eyes. All I can say is that it must be such a relief for him to be able to open and close his little hand after all of this time.
I am very excited to show everyone his new hand, and will share pictures on this site once it has healed a little more. But if you are anxious to see it and don't have a weak stomach, please email me separately and I will be happy to send some of the pictures to you.The remaining 3 casts are set to come off a week from Tuesday.
Oh, and the hand had no signs of infection. :)

A Day in the Life

We're finally able to do what we love to do - hang out as a family with both kids good and healthy, watching random stuff on tv while we laugh and act silly. It's been a long time coming with Aiden's surgeries but finally, we're back to "normal". Of course some people might question if dancing to the Wiggles and playing in a laundry basket or an empty box is "normal", but hey, that's a day in our life.

Here's some of the best moments captured in photos:















Ethan preparing to eat his favorite thing in one of Daddy's old t-shirts...BLUEBERRIES!







Yes, that is a drop of blood on his chin - he just busted his lip climbing in and out of the box. Like I said, just a day in our life!



Aiden enjoying his brand new hand! Check out that pinkie!!!

Ethan's special day

We've been so busy with Aiden's doctor visits, the trip to Dallas, and his recovery that Ricky and I wanted to take Ethan out for a "special" day. My mother-in-law watched Aiden and we started our excursion by having lunch at Pizza King. They have a big train with booths that you sit in and each table has a little window where you can watch an electric train go around. It has flatbeds on it that bring your drinks to your table. Obviously, this is a big hit with Ethan!

Next, we dropped Ricky off to get his haircut and Ethan and I headed to a medical store to get some supplies we need for Aiden (not really meant to be part of Ethan's special day, but it was in the area so I was multi-tasking!) There was a 4 ft. fake Santa Claus right when we walked in, so once I peeled him away from that, he wanted to help me shop. I let him carry around (drag around really) the little shopper basket as I threw in the things I needed. He was sooo cute - he would throw random things into the basket and then I would take them right back out and reshelf them - but I would ask him what each of the things was. The first was a small box of gauze pads and for whatever reason when I asked him, he said "It's 'tatos mommy" (that's potatos in toddler speak). He was cracking me up.

Finally, we headed to our next destination - Puzzles Fun Dome. Ricky nor I had ever been here before, but it was clear that Ethan would have a blast when we walked in to see 4 or 5 HUGE blow-up bouncies - a 30 foot double slide, a Superman obstacle course/slide, moon bounces, tunnels, toys, and more! Ethan was in heaven. And quite honestly, I wasn't sure who was more excited when we walked in, Ethan or my husband!

We spent a few hours there until Ethan was thoroughly tuckered out and then headed home. He was so good and it was really nice to be able to spend some one-on-one time with him since we've been so busy with Aiden. Unfortunately, our camera battery was dead, so I don't have photos to share, but we did have our video camera so if I can figure out how to get those on here I will.

Back to the hospital...

Yesterday, my mom drove Ethan down from her house in NKY so she could come visit Aiden when he got home. She kept Ethan the week we were gone...and she survived! He had a great time at Nana's and didn't want her to leave. But he was happy to see his mommy, daddy and little brother and was completely wound up the whole night. Ahhhh - back to normal.

Well, almost.

Aiden was doing great until he decided to be stubborn and completely refuse to eat anything all day Sunday and Monday. So we called Dr. Trone who thought it would be a good idea to have him get some fluids via IV. I took him to his pediatrician who was going to draw blood in the office to check his level of dehydration and then hopefully we could 'force' liquids by mouth at home to avoid another hospital visit.

"Where are you going to draw from?" I questioned, thinking it probably slipped her mind that it wasn't going to be easy since he was casted. "Well, shoot, I guess we'll have to send him to children's downtown," she replied. We were trying to avoid having to bring him here - I mean, hospitals are germy places - but with the difficulty of trying to draw blood from a scalp vein, it had to be done by an IV nurse. The blood work showed him to be borderline - that is it was probably necessary for him to be admitted.

So that's where I sit now. In ANOTHER hospital room. I had one good night sleep in my own bed and now I'm back to a pull out chair. This stinks.

But my trooper Aiden is doing just dandy. Now remember he wouldn't eat ANYTHING AT ALL for the past 2 days. Not formula, pedialyte, water, pureed foods, nada. Not in a bottle, through a syringe, from a spoon. And what does he do after they put us in our room for the night? Scarf down 7 oz.. What a stinker. I think he just missed flirting with nurses...

Again, I must say that I am very blessed to have an awesome family and wonderful friends. My friend Kristin brought me dinner - comfort food staple chicken pot pie - and visited with Aiden for a while. And my neighbor surprised us yesterday with a pot of chili and some chocolate chip cookies. Man, I'm never going to lose any weight!

Here's some pics from tonight. He looks like an indian with the IV sticking up out of his head and the green head wrap holding it in place. He kind of looks like Karate Kid too! You be the judge. Regardless, he's pretty stinking cute! As usual, the nurses all just want to eat him up...I told you, he was just craving attention, that's all.



We're heading home on Saturday!

Dr. Trone came to see Aiden and was very pleased with his progress. He decided that it wasn't necessary to keep him here until Sunday, so he's said Saturday will be okay. Yippee!

We're flying home Saturday around 4pm and will arrive in Louisville around 9. I am so looking forward to getting Aiden home in his own bed. We will all be much more comfortable there.

Thanks so much for everyone's thoughts and prayers - it has been a long week and we really couldn't have done it without our friends and family.

Also, I mentioned earlier that we were able to see pictures of Aiden's hands post-surgery before they put the casts on. We've asked Dr. Fearon to email them to us and he said he will be doing that this weekend. The photos are too graphic to post on here, but if you are interested and don't have a weak stomach (that pretty much eliminates the Cozzie side of the family), please email me and I can share them with you separately. Otherwise, you can wait until December 3 when his casts come off and we can get his new fingers all cleaned up - I will definitely be posting those pics on here!

Unless anything changes in the next 24 hours, this will probably be my last post from Dallas. Thanks again everyone for your support!

Yet another...

Good news - we were able to move to the pedi floor late Thursday night at around 10p. Luckily, the nurse after shift change told me just as Ricky had made his way down to the car to head back to the RMH so I caught him before he left the hospital. He and I are both staying the night with him now. We've decided that sleep is over-rated...

Aiden continues to do really well. He's eating more and fussing less. We've been very pleased with the staff here at Medical City Dallas. That combined with the wonderful team of doctors that we've chosen to care for Aiden and do his surgeries only reassures us that we have made the right decision in bringing him here.

Until next time...

Another update...

Okay - so we are staying another night in the PICU, but not because Aiden needs the extra care and monitoring, simply because they don't have any open rooms on the regular pediatric floor. This stinks because this room is too small for both of us to stay and Ricky really wants to but I am kicking him out (I guess the mommy wins this one!) Don't get me wrong, there is nothing comfortable about (not)sleeping sitting up, hearing your child cry on and off all night and having a nurse pop in just when he does actually fall asleep, but my maternal instincts just won't let me leave him for the night.

Dr. Trone (the ENT) and Dr. Fearon (the craniofacial specialist) had differing opinions about when Aiden would be ready to go home to Indiana. Apparantly, Dr. Trone won this fight and we've been told that Sunday is the best we can do. We're okay with it because we want to have him be 100% ready to go home with us, but it is still frustrating. We miss Ethan terribly and are ready to be back in our own digs.

Anyway, Aiden is smiling some (finally) and even eating his formula in small amounts. We tried giving him pears but he wasn't ready for it. I'm sure I'll continue to update while we're here so keep checking.

Surgery #2 Update

Surgery #2 went well. Aiden is now tonsil and adenoid free. Dr. Trone said he had a little trouble getting his IV in - they had to put a central line in his jugular and it took several attempts. No problems though. They did an x-ray of where it goes in to make sure it looked okay and it does.

He (and I) will be staying in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to have very close monitoring throughout the night. He seems to be in some pain and is just very irritated that he can't suck on his paci without his throat hurting. He still hasn't taken a bottle so the fluids in the IV will have to suffice for now. He definitely wants to eat, he'll try sucking, but then stops and cries as I'm sure his poor little throat hurst terribly. (Not to mention his Mega Man arms and legs too!)

Ricky went back to the Ronald McDonald House for the night to try and get some rest. Knowing him though, he won't be able to stop thinking about Aiden and how he is doing so that will pretty much be pointless. But only one parent is allowed to stay in the PICU as the rooms are very small. I'll be sleeping (or not) on a recliner chair - and let me tell you, it ain't no Lazy Boy! The broken pull-out love seat in the room on the regular floor where we stayed last night doesn't sound too bad now...

If all goes well tonight, that's where we'll be tomorrow night. And then (fingers crossed) we may be able to go home on Saturday. I'll continue to update everyone here. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. We're really glad to have the surgeries over with finally so we can focus on getting Aiden back to his normal, happy self.

PS - Some people were wondering what all the stuff was on his hands and feet. From the picture, you can see his dark blue casts underneath all the foam padding. They put the foam padding on so that he doesn't bonk himself in the head with the casts before he realizes that they are there. The padding also helps to keep his hands and feet elevated. Tomorrow, the padding will come off and it will just be the casts. They are soft wrapped casts (not plaster) and will only stay on for 2-3 weeks. Our local pediatrician will be removing them so we don't have to come all the way back to Dallas for that.

Aiden surgery update #4

Dr. Trone is able to do Aiden's tonsillectomy this afternoon at 12p. Yay! So now we don't have to wait until tomorrow - when Aiden would be feeling much better than he is today - and do it all over again to the poor little guy. At least this will blend his overall length of feeling like crap and shorten the recovery time (even if it is only a day).

He didn't get much sleep last night. He woke up frequently, crying, fussing, lifting his heavy little arms and legs in the air trying to figure out just what in the world we had done to him. Man it broke my heart. It's not his normal "I'm mad/tired/hungry" cry. It's a very pathetic soft whimper.

So the plan for today is to wait to speak to Dr. Trone, surgery at noon, stay one night in the ICU and go from there. We could go home as early as Friday - but more likely, it will be Saturday or Sunday.

I'll update after his surgery.

On a lighter note...

Too bad he didn't have this surgery done before Halloween - we would have had the perfect costume. Introducing...Mega Man!

(I wasn't personally aware of Mega Man's existence, but Ricky knew of this video game character and I have to say, the resesmblance is uncanny!)



Aiden surgery update #3

Okay - change in plans. We thought we were home free, but I guess we were counting our chickens before they hatched. As I mentioned before, Aiden had a follow-up sleep study done last night to look for any type of apnea. We met with the ENT during the pre-surgery appointments yesterday and after his examination, he concluded that Aiden did not need to have a tonsillectomy during his operation. He did, however, want to get the sleep study results to make the final call before starting surgery. That did not happen. We made several calls to the sleep lab but couldn't get anyone to get this done. So we went ahead with surgery.

After sitting in our room for a few hours, Dr. Trone (the ENT guy) came in looking concerned. He said that he finally got the results from the sleep study and it showed mixed apnea - a few episodes each of both obstructive and central. He then said that he recommends to go ahead and have Aiden's tonsils removed while we are here. Ugh.

So what this means is that instead of spending tonight in the hospital and tomorrow night back with us at the Ronald McDonald House before heading home on Thursday, we will now be here a few more days. We have tentatively scheduled his tonsillectomy for Thursday. He'll spend 1 or 2 nights in the ICU, then a couple extra nights in a regular room to monitor the swelling and his ability to take in fluids.

We keep throwing around the "if only" scenarios - if only we would have had the sleep study on Sunday instead of the night just before his surgery; if only we would have pushed the sleep lab more to get the results prior to the operation so they wouldn't have to put him under anesthesia again (for the THIRD time this week!); if only Dr. Trone would have been able to contact them to stress the importance of getting the results ahead of the surgery time...but we are just going to put all that aside and focus on the here and now. What it comes down to is that we want to do what is best for Aiden. And if that means a little more time here in Dallas, so be it. Heck - it's 74 degrees here and a lot colder back home so we'll take it.

So, if we can, we'd like to ask for a few more days of prayers our way!

Aiden surgery update #2

Great news - the surgery went well and Aiden is now in his own room for the night. We had been told the surgery would take 4-6 hours. He went back at 7:40 and was finished right around 11:45 so not bad! Dr. Fearon came out to meet us in the waiting room and he showed us some photos he took of Aiden's new hands (after first warning us that they might be pretty yucky looking). We didn't care - we wanted to see them. It was amazing! (and a little yucky though too).

Right now Aiden is very comfortable. He's sound asleep. We took some photos of him in his casts in the recovery room and I will load those in a little while. I'm waiting for Aiden to wake up so that I can feed the poor thing - he hasn't eaten all day! We'll start with Pedialyte to make sure it sits okay on his stomach, then he'll go back to a normal diet.

Ricky and I are so relieved the surgery is over with. It's been a very long and emotional day. We're both pooped, but still holding up well. We're in much better spirits now that the hardest part is behind us.

Thanks again for all the emails and phone calls!

PS - a big thank you to my sister for putting together two beautiful DVDs of photos of the boys (one of Ethan, one of Aiden). I miss Ethan so much so I've watched it over and over. And having pictures of Aiden smiling and acting like his normal self makes it easier since he's so not himself right now. Thanks Lauren!

Aiden surgery update #1

I arrived at the hospital bright and early to meet Ricky and Aiden in the surgery department. Aiden was happy as can be. They asked if we wanted him to have any "goofy juice" which would help with any anxiety when they took him back for anesthesia. He was so content that we decided against it - one less med to have in his system. (I did ask, however, if they were able to give goofy juice to me as I would probably be the one with the separation anxiety. Unfortunately, they couldn't...)

We met the anesthesiologist and then Dr. Fearon arrived. They assured us he will be well taken care of - but it didn't make it any easier to hand him over and watch the nurse walk away with him into the OR. Of course, I cried. Luckily, Ricky was there with me to keep me strong and hold me tight. I feel very blessed to have such a strong relationship with my husband. I couldn't do this without him.

Now, we sit in the pediatric surgery waiting room and watch a large television screen for updates. It shows the names of each surgery patient (abbreviated for privacy) and details as to what part of surgery he is undergoing - holding, OR, recovery, etc. You can see from the below picture that when there is a scalpel next to the name, that is when surgery has begun. Aiden's as of 8:30am (9:30 EST), still doesn't show a scalpel. The nurse said that it will take about an hour and a half to prepare the room, make surgical markings on his hands and feet, etc. Then they will begin by taking skin grafts from his groin area to use between the incisions of his new fingers/toes. We are then able to call directly into the OR for updates as often as we want (they recommend every 30 minutes).

We're holding up well - just very anxious to make that first call. They have asked us to wait until the screen shows the scalpel. I can't remember ever wanting to see a scalpel in my life until today...

I'll keep everyone posted!

In the meantime, here are some photos from our trip so far:


The television update screen in the waiting room.



Last picture of Aiden's cute little feet before his toes!



In the pre-surgery area. Notice his shirt - it says "High Maintenance". I've always called him my high maintenance baby (well, he is!) so I just had to get it when I saw it at Children's Place.



All hooked up during the sleep study. I told you there were a ton of wires!



Just as happy as can be!



After a bath.



Daddy and Aiden



He's sure going to miss sucking on those feetsies. He won't be able to get to them until the casts come off. I wonder what he's going to think of his new toes!!!!

Farewell old hands, hello fingers!

This moment is bittersweet. I am flooding in emotions as I prepare for Aiden's surgery tomorrow morning. It seemed like this day would never get here - and now that it is, I'm starting to get all sad and weepy thinking about how my perfect little Aiden is going to change so much in a matter of a couple of hours. His little hands, all curled up like a rosebud, are going to blossom into an actual thumb and fingers with Dr. Fearon's gentle touch. Of course I won't be able to see what it looks like until the casts come off on Dec. 3 (might be earlier for the feet). I've had dreams since his birth that his hands suddenly start to open up - fingers sprouting like they just had to continue the process of separation in their own time. And now, this surgery is going to make that dream come to life (well, sort of).

I keep thinking about his soft little feet. I'm going to miss those feet. The smooth, kissable little feet with stuck together toes. With the surgery and the casts and the healing, it might be a while before I get to kiss them again. And even though his feet will look more "normal" - they won't be the same untouched feet that God gave him. Bittersweet.

Aiden has spent many hours staring at his hands, then looking to mine in amazement and wonder with my fingers dancing around in front of him. I could see the wheels turning in his head - I just know he was thinking "Wow, what are those and where can I get me some?"

Well Aiden, tomorrow you will. But always know that I love you just the way God made you.

A Million Thank-yous!

I'm sitting at the Ronald McDonald House thinking about Aiden and how he is doing during his second sleep study. Ricky and I decided to split shifts - he is staying with him at the hospital tonight while I (try) to get some sleep, and I will stay tomorrow following his surgery while Ricky heads back here to rest.

I'm not supposed to have food in my room, but I couldn't resist sneaking in the wonderful box of cookies sent by our friends April and Tate to munch on as comfort food. Man are these things delicious. Although I'm trying to lose a few lb's, I think there is some kind of unwritten diet rule that says it's okay to eat bad while out of town when your child is about to have surgery. (Alas, I don't think it says it's okay to eat ALL of the cookies in the box...hmmm, better put that one back...) A HUGE thank you to The Gormans for sending these our way.

Having Aiden has brought so much joy into our lives that we never imagined possible. During those first few days when we were dealing with the emotions of learning about Aiden's condition, we were in a very dark place. Nothing that anyone said to us could make us feel okay. We worried about what our family's future had in store. We worried that the way we imagined our lives turning out was never going to be our reality. After a few weeks though, something changed. And I have to believe that the love and support of not only our friends and family, but also complete strangers, is what has helped us pull through.

I've already mentioned the Gorman's. We had never before met in person, we'd just sent emails back and forth and read eachothers blogs - but it's amazing how comfortable it was meeting them for dinner. It's like we had known each other for ages. I feel very lucky to have been connected with them. It will make our trips here a lot easier knowing that we have a support system who has undergone some of the very same things with their child as we are going through with Aiden. Their adorable son John is Ethan's age and we're hoping to bring him along next time so they can meet. They also have a little girl, Rory Cate, who is so beautiful it briefly made me get the baby bug and had me thinking about trying for baby number 3 just to try for the girl I so want to have (Don't worry - I said briefly - it will be a few years...trust me we've got enough on our plate!)

And then there is Glenn Dixon, the direct sales guy who works for Samtec and lives here in the Dallas area. He and his colleagues at a local rep firm arranged and paid for a rental car for us to use. The rep company, Kruvand, hand delivered a care basket to the Ronald McDonald House with fruit, a veggie tray, drinks, snacks, crossword puzzles, magazines, you name it. The kicker...we've never even met these people! Out of the kindness of their hearts, upon hearing about Aiden from Glenn, they so generously donated their time and money to put this basket together for us.

Finally, all of our family members who sent us their kind thoughts, prayers, and things to help us relax (no, not drugs!) and keep our minds off the tough stuff, have also played such an important role in helping us stay positive and strong. We simply cannot thank them enough for their support.

We feel truly blessed to have such amazing people in our lives - family, friends and even complete strangers. A million thank-yous go out to you from The Skees family!

And what the heck, I might as well go ahead and eat that last cookie. I mean, I'm gonna eat it for breakfast tomorrow if I don't eat it now - so what's the difference - right?

We are in Dallas

We made it to Dallas with no problems at all. Aiden was great on the flights - we came prepared with toys this time since we knew he probably wouldn't sleep the whole time like he did as a 3 month old.

Once we got in, we were met at the airport by a direct sales rep from here in Texas who works for Samtec (where Ricky works). He had offered to let us use his car while we were in town, however it turned out he needed it for out of town travel so he and his colleagues pulled some money together and rented us an SUV for our stay. All I can say is WOW! A big thank you to Glenn and those who made this possible (and don't even know us!)

We went to the Ronald McDonald House and after getting settled, we had arrangements to meet with a couple and their 2 children for dinner. I met them via the internet - April emailed me a while back after doing a google search for Dr. Fearon and coming across our family website. Her son also has a craniofacial syndrome, Crouzon's, and they ended up having him treated by Dr. Fearon as well. It was so nice to finally meet them in person. We had a wonderful time. You can read more about them at www.thetatertot.blogspot.com.

So - tomorrow is going to be a long day of doctors appointments and pre-surgery visits. He'll then spend the night at Medical City for his sleep study before surgery on Tuesday morning.

Check back for more updates to come later!

And the results are in...

Aiden did wonderful at his early morning visit to Kosair for his follow-up ABR and his MRI. He was put under general anesthesia which was needless to say very nerve racking for me. Luckily, I had my cousin there with me for support. She flew in all the way from Chicago to be my "nanny" for the week! Isn't family wonderful???!!!

He passed his ABR with flying colors - once again, they said he had text book results. I really didn't have any doubts about it though. He always flips around when big brother Ethan enters the room or the tv turns on.

The MRI was the "big" test that we were really nervous about. The need for it came about quite suddenly after his sleep study last week showed possible central apnea. He was finished with the MRI by 10am and we were told we had to wait the standard 24-48 hours for results. Ugh.

I did get a copy of the images on a disc to overnight to Dr. Fearon though, so of course I had to check it out myself the second I got home. I pulled up the images, then googled "MRI images, chiari malformation". My sister (who also came in town to help out!) and I sat there comparing what we saw and determined that things looked good - that is we didn't see the same blocked area that the images of chiari malformations showed. We still had to wait to hear for sure.

I called the pediatricians office to ask if they would make a note to call as soon as they received the results, as I was very anxious. Although it was only 2pm, she said it wouldn't hurt to call and check to see if they had by chance completed them. A few minutes later, she called back with the news...

MRI results show NO chiari malformation, no fluid, and no pressure on the brain! Yippee! What a relief!

So, after speaking to Dr. Fearon's office about the results, the plan is back to normal for his surgery next week. We will still do the sleep study on Monday night to see if there is indeed some apnea. But he doesn't even think we will do the tonsilectomy at this point if we can avoid it while he is so young.

Thanks for everybody's thoughts and prayers! And a special thank you to my helpers - my cousin Joy and my sister Lauren. I couldn't have gotten through today (and the rest of this busy week for that matter) without their help!

Also, another thank you goes out to my grandma who sent a lovely note and some Lourdes water from the Sacred Spring at the Grotto in France.

Boo at the Zoo

Okay, so I'm a little biased, but I think this might be the cutest Penguin and Lion I have ever laid eyes on!

Ricky and I took the boys to the Louisville Zoo for The Largest Halloween Party in the World. We went on Sunday - the weather was perfect - sunny and in the high 60s. We're forgoing the whole Trick or Treating on Halloween thing this year to try and keep the kids healthy prior to Aiden's surgery, so this was the perfect substitute.

Ethan loved saying Trick or Treat at all the candy stations throughout the zoo (even though I ate all the candy) and he had a blast dancing - check this out...

video

And Aiden, well, he worked so hard at being so stinking cute that he just pooped himself out. But he definitely ate up all the attention he drew from people.


Last year, Ethan wasn't so sure about the train ride (more specifically the headless horseman that runs next to it at one point). And this year, although this face (captured in the tunnel) might make you think otherwise, he really loved it. He did say "All done" a few times while we were riding, but after we got off, he wanted back on again!


All in all, we had a really good time. Can't wait to do it again next year!


Aiden's sleep study and results

Well this was quite an experience. We went into it thinking nothing would be wrong, but we got some results we weren't expecting. First I'll describe the study, then the results.

We went to the sleep center at 7pm and got settled in our room. A nurse came in when I started to give him his last bottle of the night and began putting electrodes all over him. There were about 30 or so from his head to his toe. When he was done eating, he was very sleepy so I put him in the crib and the nurse finished putting the electrodes on - while Aiden screamed horribly. I could tell it was very uncomfortable for him - but not painful. (Although kind of painful for me to watch...) When he finally settled down and fell asleep, I went to bed as well.

Let's just say it was a long night. Aiden usually sleeps great. We have a video monitor at home so we see if and when he wakes up or wrestles around. This doesn't happen very frequently at home. But here, anytime he would move to switch positions, he became aware of the sticky things all over him and fussed and cried. And the nurse had to come in and reattach some of them that shifted or fell off, which just woke him up more and more crying would ensue. Needless to say, he didn't get very much sleep (75% sleep rate to quote the test results) - and I got about 5% :)

When he woke up at his normal time of about 6 am, it was over and we were out of there by 7 am.

Now, the results. The sleep center called me this morning and said the doctor reviewed his results and wanted to speak with me in person...I had a gut feeling something wasn't good about that. I explained that I couldn't come in (didn't have a babysitter) but asked if she could scan and email the report for us to discuss over the phone. They did that and the doctor called - I put Ricky on 3-way calling from work so he could hear as well.

She said that it appeared from his tests that he had something known as central sleep apnea. There are two types - central and obstructive. Central apnea, in a nutshell, is caused from a lack of messaging from the brain to tell Aiden to breath. He may stop breathing for a few seconds, then when his oxygen levels dip down, he kind of startles himself awake enough to take another breath. Obstructive would be caused by anatomy (deviated septum, smaller airways, large adenoids, etc.) She said she was concerned because often times central apnea can indicate pressure on the brain. Obviously, this is bad, and something we've been on the lookout for because of his Apert syndrome. Most Apert kids experience pressure at some point because of the closed suture(s), which only requires surgery if and when it becomes a problem for the growth of the brain.

We were kind of confused because just a week ago his eye doctor said his optic nerve looked great which is a good indicator for any pressure being present. And we've been in communication with the team in Dallas on a regular basis to share photos of his head shape and circumference measurements which Dr. Fearon has said all look normal.

So, after talking with the doctor at the sleep center, we had her get in touch with Dr. Fearon. She suggested doing an additional sleep study while on oxygen to determine if he needed to be on it all the time while he slept. I didn't feel comfortable making that decision without Dr. F's input.

She spoke with him and called back to say he wanted Aiden to get an MRI of his brain. She didn't give us any more details so I called him myself to get more info.

Dr. Fearon seems pretty confident that it is NOT central apnea but rather obstructive apnea. The MRI will give us more info - showing us if there is something called a chiari malformation. The way he explained this was that there is a hole in the back of the head that connects the brain and the lower body where cerebral spinal fluid travels. A malformation would mean the brain was pushing on that hole, blocking the flow of fluid and causing it to build up, thus the pressure. Central apnea is often present when there is a chiari malformation. However, obstructive apnea is not usually related to a chiari malformation - so in Aiden's case, if Dr. Fearon is right, we're hoping that the test results were wrong, the MRI shows no malformation and it is obstructive and not central apnea.

We were able to get the 2nd sleep study scheduled for Dallas during our trip down there on the 9th. This is good news because the sleep center there deals with kids with Apert Syndrome all the time. This one here had never tested anyone with Apert (which might be why Dr. Fearon thinks the results were scored and/or read wrong).

So now, we're waiting to hear back when we can get the MRI done. If the MRI shows chiari malformation, we will still be going down to Dallas as scheduled but will meet with Dr. Sacco (the neurosurgeon) to determine a plan of action. His hand/feet surgeries will most likely be put on hold.

If the MRI shows NO chiari malformation, we will go to Dallas, have the sleep study and based on those results continue with the hand/foot surgeries while also having Aiden's tonsils removed at the same time (if it is determined to be obstructive apnea).

In the meantime, Aiden will be put on a nasal canula while sleeping to increase his oxygen levels.

Did I mention this child is high maintenance??? :)

Upcoming appointments and surgery information

Aiden certainly is a high maintenance baby ;) - with all of the appointments we have scheduled over the next few weeks, we're going to be even more busy (if that's possible!) Here's what we have on our plates:

Sleep Study - Tuesday, October 28:
This was recommended by Aiden's pulmonologist and will measure all sorts of things while Aiden sleeps through the night. He will be hooked up to numerous (I'm talking like 30+) little wires from his head down to his feet to monitor brain activity, heart rate, oxygen levels, movement, breathing sounds, apnea episodes, you name it. This information will help us to see the quality of sleep Aiden gets and if anything needs to be done at this point to help promote good sleep.

ABR Hearing Test - Tuesday, November 4:
This is a follow-up exam to see if there has been any changes to his hearing over the last 3 months. We don't anticipate any issues - he seems to hear and respond to us just fine! However he has had 2 ear infections which can sometimes cause hearing loss if they are severe enough and Dr. Fearon (in Dallas) will proactively be putting in tubes during his hand/foot surgery as kids with Aperts tend to be at an increased risk for ear infections.

Swallow Study - Wednesday, November 5:
This will be done by Dr. Morton (pulmonologist) to determine if Aiden has any occurrences of aspiration (fluid entering the lungs) when drinking/eating. He will have to drink a liquid barium substance that can then be watched as it travels down his throat, esophogaus and into the stomach.

Pre-surgery physical - Thursday, November 6:
A full physical is required by Aiden's pediatrician before his surgery in Dallas. Just your run-of-the-mill appointment to make sure he is healthy.

Surgery in Dallas - Tuesday, November 11:
We fly out on Sunday the 9th. Monday will be a full day of pre-operative appointments with the various doctors and surgeons that will see Aiden while we are there. Then his surgery is scheduled for first thing Tuesday. He will spend one night in the PICU at the hospital, then will be discharged to stay an additional night with us at the Ronald McDonald House to ensure there are no complications. If all goes as planned, we will come home on Thursday evening.

So - as you can see we will be very busy for the next few weeks. I truly appreciate everybody's offers to help and if we see an opportunity to take some of you up on it, we will. Keep the prayers coming - we will be needing them!

"Mommy...mess."

Yes, that's right. For the first time, our little ball-of-fire, bundle-of-energy, into-everything-guy is sick. I'm talking curled up into the fetal position sick. It started on Sunday. Normally a chatter box, especially in the car, Ethan was eerily quiet on our 45 minute trip to Kings Island's Howl-O-Fest. We hoped that once he got out of the van and into his penguin costume he would perk up.

Nope.

He was miserable 85% of the time (the 15% was when he played in the bubble machine...see pictures in the King's Island and Farm post on the main page).

The next morning he was running a little fever so I alternated Motrin and Tylenol as told, but come 5:30 in the evening he was whipped. He wouldn't let me put him down. I felt guilty loving the fact that he was letting me hold him (something very rare nowadays), while knowing he was not feeling good. We took his temperature and it was 102.8. He definitely wasn't himself - he didn't respond to our questions or even our tempting him with suckers. We called the doctor, who open until 7pm, couldn't squeeze us in. They said to continue the Motrin/Tylenol and if he hasn't vomitted, to call back in the morning. Ricky called back and pleaded - letting them know that our other son (now healthier than he's been since his first bout with bronchiolitis in July) was preparing for surgery in Dallas 3 weeks from now and we didn't want to risk him getting sick. They said to come on down.

I peeled him out of my arms and strapped him into his carseat. At the bottom of the hill, I heard an odd noise and looked in my rear view mirror to see some of the apples from his lunch making their way back out...in smaller chunks. (Gross I know). Poor thing didn't know what was happening as he's never thrown up before. I pulled the car over and tried to comfort him. "Mommy," he groaned, "mess."

Turns out he has a double ear infection and probably a small stomach bug on top of that. We've had to keep the boys away from each other as much as possible. Please say some prayers that Ethan will get better fast - I want my tazmanian devil back! Also, throw a couple in there that Aiden (and the rest of us) stay healthy so we can keep his surgery date.

Howl-O-Fest and Kinman Farms

On Saturday, Ricky, Ethan and I went to Kinman Farms in Boone County with my sister, her husband Matt, their two girls Lilly and Avery, my mom, and my nephew Andy. The kids had a blast riding the pony, picking out pumpkins, going for a hayride and making smores.












The following day we took the brood to King's Island for their kid-friendly Howl-O-Fest. A good time was had by all (except Ethan...see Ethan's page for details).









Click here for more pictures from the farm and KI, as well as new pictures of the boys from the past month or so.

Jamaica-me-crazy!!!

Wow - it's been a busy few weeks for us. Between our mini-vacation to Jamaica, the kids getting sick, a trip to Kings Island, fun at Kinman Farms and working out the plans for our trip to Dallas - we've been going non-stop!

I'll start with a post about our Jamaica trip. A few months ago I casually mentioned to Ricky that I thought we needed a vacation. With all of the stress we've been under since Aiden's birth I knew we were both running on empty and I figured if we were going to get away, it would have to be before his first surgery in November. So, a few phone calls later we were booked for a trip to Montego Bay.

Halfway to the vacation date, our travel agent called to tell us the resort was "overbooked" and she needed to switch our reservation to a different resort or give us our money back. I was hesitant to just say okay without knowing any details about the new place, so I logged on to the internet to find out what I could. The Sandals Grande Ocho Rios looked beautiful and she assured us that this was a $2300 upgrade from the Sandals Montego Bay where we were supposed to be going. Feeling rushed, I reluctantly agreed, figuring that it really didn't matter as long as it was a vacation.

Fast forward to the day we leave...

We had a connecting flight from Lousiville to Memphis, then Memphis to Montego Bay. I triple checked that we both had our passports, IDs, etc. at the airport. I flipped mine open and noticed that it still had my maiden name. Would this present a problem at customs? We called the travel agency's emergency line (since we were flying out on a Saturday, they weren't open). The thought of being detained in a Jamaican airport's customs department constituted an emergency to me! The verdict - yes, it was a problem. Great - we were in a slight panicked state thinking about having to cancel and head back home to babyville.

It turned out the solution was simple - change the name on my airline reservation (and my boarding pass) to match my passport. And even though this was in fact all we needed to do, I still felt like a criminal who had committed fraud and was secretly trying to board the plane as someone else.

We made it to Memphis and boarded the plane along with several couples heading to get hitched or celebrate their honeymoon. We even met an older couple going to party their (bare) heineys off at Hedonism. And let me tell you, George Clooney and [insert whatever Brazillian model he's now dating here] they were not. I'm still trying to shake that mental picture.

We sat in the plane for 15 minutes or so after the door shut when the captain came on to inform us the plane needed repair. We were deboarded. Wonderful. At this point, although it was only 10am we headed to the bar. (Hey, it was 11am at home...) After two hours and a few exorbitantly priced cocktails the plane was finally fixed and we were on our way. (However even the cocktails didn't ease my heightened fear of flying on a plane that had to be repaired.) It certainly hadn't been the relaxing vacation we were hoping for. We ordered up a few airplane size cocktails after take off and figured it could only get better from here.

Wrong.

Upon arrival to Montego Bay we checked in at the Sandals concierge room and went to help ourselves to the free drinks. The picture had shown a full bar. The reality was a broken Red Stripe beer tapper and cups the size of a thimble. We scooped up two each and headed to the bus. It didn't matter too much as we would be at the beach enjoying all-you-can-drink Daiquiri's in no time. One rickety bus and an hour later we were finally ready to depart to our resort. But not before the driver informed us that he wasn't employed by Sandals and he quite bluntly demanded we tip him right then and there. No worries mon'.

TWO HOURS LATER we pulled into the resort. Ricky went to check-in and I stood out by the bags. I didn't want to let those things out of my sight for fear that I'd somehow end up smuggling some home-grown "goodies" back to the States. I stood there and stood there. And finally made my way up to the lobby to find Ricky huffing and puffing at them saying we just wanted to check-in already. They kept telling us to sit down and wait, shooing us off like flys. What the hell? And why did most of the couples have complimentary glasses of champagne served to them, but not us? We were hungry and angry that it took us just as long to get to our "upgraded" destination as our entire flight from Memphis. And it was dark. Arriving two hours past our original plan, we missed having our first few hours of vacation in the Jamaican sun. We were irritated. A manager came over as we both started to politely make a stink and ordered the poor girl to just get us checked-in. Finally!

We went to grab our bags but were told not to. "This is Jamaica mon' - no worries - we've got it taken care of!" the bellhop said as I eyed him and thought to myself "Yeah, I bet you do." I know, I'm terrible. But remember, I'm an angry, exhausted traveller. Said bellhop disappeared with our stuff as we were ushered on to yet another bus to drive us down to the "Riviera" side where our room was right on the ocean. We got to our room and collapsed on the bed. Ricky went to take care of some business and I answered a knock at the door. It was the bellhop arriving with our luggage. "May I bring it in?" he asked. I said sure and he walked past me into the middle of the room. "Can I use your phone?" Now I thought this request a little peculiar so I asked him why. He didn't respond, instead, he walked past me to the side of the bed and picked up the room phone. He spoke in a different language briefly and Ricky yelled out "Taryn, is everything okay?" Upon hearing his voice, the bellhop hung up the phone, but walked out on his cell phone having the same conversation. He wasn't even using the room phone. Now I was really weirded out. He slammed the door as he left.

I immediately rang the front desk and asked for a manager, briefly relaying the sequence of events. The manager was at our room in about 2 minutes flat. She was very disturbed by what had happened, which only increased my level of concern. She said under no circumstances are bellhops to come into the room or use the phone. They are also not supposed to have a cell phone on them while working. I asked to change rooms, telling her I didn't feel comfortable in this one. I had such a bad taste in my mouth from the long day that my mind kept telling me the worst. What if he had phoned a friend letting him know a nice young couple with nice bags was just waiting to be taken advantage of. Or worse, it seemed as if he thought I was in the room alone and his abrupt exit when hearing Ricky's voice had me on high alert.

She apologized profusely and agreed to move us but said it would have to be the following day as they were all booked that night. Our hunger pains took over and we told her that was fine, now we just wanted to eat. Having skipped the orientation (the reason for the "sit down and wait" business upon check-in) we had no idea where the restaurants were so she personally escorted us to restaurant #1. The hostess at the desk said there was no room. Try again in about an hour.

YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.

Now I could be wrong, but wouldn't you think that if a hotel manager brought two frustrated guests to a restaurant they would get the message that we meant business? The manager pulled the less than bubbly hostess aside, whispered something, and came back to us with unfortunate news. On to #2. No dice. I was beyond irritated. How is it that we pay for an "ALL-INCLUSIVE" trip and have been unable to get a drink OR food on our first night there?

A different person from the first restaurant tracked us down and said he had a table for us. The manager looked just as relieved us we did. They sensed our impending meltdown and brought us a few shots before our butts were sitting in the chairs. With disappointment on his face, Ricky looked at me and said "This sucks." I pushed the tears back into my eyes, gulped my shot and we agreed to not let this become the vacation from hell. It really couldn't get any worse than this now, right?

Luckily, from that point on it was wonderful. I mean not a glitch. The manager also arranged for us to enjoy a day using a private cabana by the pool (normally $75/day) with cushy chairs, white terrycloth robes and personal butler service. They also gave us a discount coupon for the spa which I used to get a pedicure.

Our much-needed vacation started off a little rocky but we made the best of it and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Even so, it's still not quite the same relaxing getaways that we used to have before kids as we spent a lot of time wondering if they were okay, and between drinks, calling home to check on them. We both agreed that now that we've left the kids for the first time, another vacation is necessary so that we can TRULY relax and not worry :)

Two night stay at Kosair Children's Hospital

The day after my bday, the Skees family wasn't feeling so hot. I had been dragging all weekend - which I thought was because Ricky and I enjoyed a rare night out with some friends that Friday. But it must have been a virus that we all had...Ethan and Aiden had both been feeling rotten. Noses running like hoses, coughing, and itchy, red, watery eyes. We thought it was allergies for the most part and just continued to do Aiden's breathing treatments, giving him a little Tylenol here and there for his discomfort.

But on Monday, after I begged Ricky to stay home from work because I was feeling so crummy that I couldn't even pull myself out of bed (and trust me, this is rare), I heard Aiden's developmental therapist arrive for his 11 o'clock session. They were talking and I heard Ricky say "Yes, I'm going to call the doctor". I sprang from bed and ran downstairs to find out what was going on. Poor Aiden was hacking up a storm, crying, and sweaty from head to toe. He seemed to be having a hard time breathing normally. The therapist looked very concerned which in turn had us very worried.

Long story short, Aiden went to the pediatrician and they found that he had a fever and ear infections. They wanted his breathing and oxygen levels to be checked, so they sent us to Kosair. There, they diagnosed him with Bronchiolitis (click the link to see exactly what it is). His oxygen levels were a little low and dipped lower every time he fell asleep - this can be common, but the normal level is supposed to be between 94-98 and his hovered right at 90, dipping to 86-88 when sleeping.

They eventually decided to give him extra O2 through a nasal canula and gradually weaned him off to see if he could keep his levels up. After 3 days and 2 nights of monitoring, they felt that he was improving enough to go home.

We will continue to do the breathing treatments that we had been doing at home using the nebulizer and they put him on an allergy/asthma medicine as well. I'm happy to report that he is sounding MUCH better and it seems he is finally kicking this bug. Funny thing is he never really fussed much during his hospital stay (except when they were suctioning out his nose/mouth or adjusting the nasal canula). The nurses all fell in love with him...but really, how could they not...

PS - There's something about hospital food that I can't quite stomach. Luckily, my brother-in-law Justin brought me dinner one night since he works near Kosair and my Aunt Mary was kind enough to bring me lunch one day. The food was much appreciated but even more, chatting with them helped to keep my spirits up! Thank you!!!

My little ladies man

A few weeks ago my dear friend Audrey came to visit with her beautiful baby Ty. We took the kiddos to the mall, had lunch, and let them play on the giant (germ filled) ship. Ethan had a blast - but I think his favorite part was the shopping. I didn't have my digital camera with me, but luckily I had one of those ancient disposable cameras shoved in my purse to capture this priceless sequence in Victoria's Secret...

PHOTO 1: "Hey there sexy things, how you doin'?"




PHOTO 2: "Mind if I hold your hand?"




PHOTO 3: "Oh yeah, I'm the man!"

Busy with a capital "B"

Well, I know I've been slacking lately, but in between hospital stays, power outages, trips out of town and kids with ear infections, we've been running like crazy. I have a lot to catch everyone up on and I promise to do it later tonight when the kids go to bed. So check back tomorrow for a full update (and don't forget to check the boys links too - if it has to do with just one of them, I add the post to their page).