Welcome to From the Heart

Thanks for visiting! Warning: If you're looking for one of those swear-free, syrupy sweet mommy blogs. . . this isn't your cup of tea. But if you aren't: read, enjoy & hopefully I'll make you laugh! This blog is a very real look into your average mom, who happens to have two children with special needs. I write "the funny pages" of life, love & motherhood, with a touch of fashion & some of my favorite things. I'm honest, open & love to write. My goal is to create a unique blog to laugh, identify & enjoy a good read.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Birth of Joshua

Disclaimer:  This is a difficult read.  It was more difficult than you can imagine to write.  This is the first time that I have ever written this story in full (it will be published in a charity newsletter) but I hope you'll read it & pass it on because there is an important message for any expectant parent.

In September of 2009 Hurricane Ike made it's fierce landfall in Texas, leaving most Houstonians without water or electricity.  It was a tough time for Houstonians for weeks to follow while power was being restored to homes in a city of 4 million.  We were lucky, as our electricity was restored the day after the hurricane.  However, you couldn't get out, shop, or do anything.

What's interesting about these situations is that there is a baby boom nine months later & they are deemed "Hurricane Babies".  I guess when the power is out, and you're stuck at home, there isn't anything better to do than procreate.

My husband, Joe & I were thrilled to learn that we would be having a Hurricane Baby.  Our second child was due nine months later - almost to the date of Ike's landfall.

Here I am, fat as can be, June of 2009, ready to give birth.

Friday, June 12, 2009 was my due date.  I was scheduled for a c-section on Monday, the 15th, but I begged my doctor to allow me to go into labor on my own (it's rare to find a doctor in Houston that will allow you to have a vaginal delivery after a previous c-section).  On Saturday afternoon I started feeling contractions.  By 11 pm, after a day of tracking my contractions, I was certain this was the real thing.  I went to the hospital & it was confirmed.  I was so grateful to have the chance to go through 11 hours of labor before being wheeled into the OR.

On Sunday, June 14, 2009 at 1 am, Joshua Barish Weisman was born.  He was perfect.  Ten fingers, ten toes.  He had brown hair and blue eyes just like his Dad.  He was entirely everything we had dreamed he would be.

We were in heaven.  We introduced our 2 year old, Ben, to his brother and had our first photo taken as a family of four.

My mother was there.  She hadn't been there for the birth of Ben, so everything seemed as perfect as any birth story could possibly be.  I remember my mother holding Josh and seeing the incredible love in her eyes was breathtaking.  I was not in great shape after my c-section, and the pain was unbearable.  So, mom got a lot of time with her new grandson.  She fed him, burped him, held him, stared at him in pure amazement.  I can't recall a time that I had ever been so happy.  Watching my mother with my son, and seeing the perfect, wonderful love that she had for him is a memory that will be ingrained in my mind forever.

Joshua was checked in the nursery by our amazing pediatrician, Angela Chia, of Fannin Pediatrics that Sunday.  He underwent all of the standard newborn screening tests.  The next day, as I sat in my room alone with Josh, Dr. Chia came in to check him again.  Being the incredible doctor that she is, and recalling her daily visits to the hospital when Ben was born, I was not at all alarmed to see her, though I found it a bit curious to see her in the morning, as she usually came in the evening after her practice closed.

The first thing Dr. Chia did was unwrap Josh from his swaddle & listen to his heart with her stethoscope.  She listened, and listened... moving the stethoscope to different positions on his tiny chest, listening intently.  My heart began to sink a little.

As she removed her stethoscope, I asked, "Is everything okay?"'
Dr. Chia:  "Joshua has a heart murmur."
I breathed a sigh of relief.  "Oh, okay.  A lot of people have heart murmurs.  It may run in my family because I have one & so does my brother."
Dr. Chia:  "I'm ordering a chest x-ray and an echo cardiogram of his heart, just to be on the safe side."
I said, slightly surprised, "Okay, let's do it."

I called my husband & mom.  I told them what was going on.  I talked myself down from the ledge thinking, "This kind of thing is just a precaution.  He will come back, and the doctors will say that everything is fine.  I'm not going to panic over this."  Soon, Josh left for his testing.

An hour later, the phone rang in my hospital room.  Joe answered.  I watched the color drain from his face as his head fell into his hand, listening carefully to the person on the other end.  Now I was afraid.  "What's going on?  Who is it?  Joe!  What's going on?"

Joe handed me the phone.  It was Dr. Chia.  She was calm, but I could hear the the uneasiness and fear in her voice.  "Amy, Joshua is sick.  There is a problem with his heart.  He will not be coming back to your room.  He is going to the level 3 NICU to start emergency medication to keep him alive.  There is a risk with this medication that he could stop breathing.  I've called Texas Children's Hospital (TCH), and they are on their way to get him because they can handle his case.  He has a coarctation of the aorta."

It was, and remains, the worst moment of my life.  I had to write down and ask her to spell this deadly condition.  I couldn't pronounce it.  As I hung up the phone, I paced my room like a caged tiger.  Joe & I called our mothers & they were on their way.  I paced, I cried, I wondered what to do.  I needed to get to Josh.

If we would lose him, it had to be in my arms.  I was terrified thinking that he would die in a nurse's arms, or lying in a warmer.  He was without me, Joe, or my mom.  Strangers were frantically trying to save him, and I had no idea where the NICU was or how to get there.  Finally the Chief of Neonatology at Women's Hospital came in.  He explained Josh's condition again, and also that they could not handle the severity of Josh's case there, and he would be transported to TCH, down the street.

He insisted that I be in a wheelchair because I was a post op patient.  I hated that stupid wheelchair.  I didn't want to be slowly wheeled to my son.  I wanted to run like hell.  I was at the mercy of the chief neonatologist, as he lead us through what seemed a never ending corridor, up and down elevators, to a small hallway, with a security door.  We were buzzed into a small room where we scrubbed in and were cloaked in surgical scrubs.  I was finally wheeled to my son's bedside.  I got up to find that Josh was already covered in tubes, wires, leads, and my worst nightmare was playing out before me.

I frantically signed release paperwork that I did not read, to allow his transport to TCH.  My mother arrived as emergency personnel began his preparation for transport.  They needed us to understand that though he was just going down the road, he could die in the ambulance.  No one was allowed to ride with him.  We said goodbye to Josh.  When we arrived back at my room, Joe's mom, Jackie was there.  As I heaved my heavy body from the wheelchair, she held me as I sobbed.  I could feel the terror in her embrace.

Joe & Jackie left to follow the ambulance to TCH.  Mom & I paced.  We paged my OB/GYN.  Mom asked if I wanted to call my sister, Lauren, in Dallas.  I couldn't do it.  I couldn't bring myself to tell her that her brand new nephew was critically ill, and that we may lose him before she ever had the chance to see him.  Mom said, "She will want to come down. What do you want me to tell her?" My sister needed to get on a flight to Houston.  I wanted her to see him before the unspeakable happened.

We made more phone calls.  Truthfully I can't remember who called my Dad.  I called my sister-in-law.  As I told her the very little information I had, she began to cry.  She was frantic.  They live in a remote town Pennsylvania, and there was no possible way for them to get to Houston.  As I hung up the phone I knew that I had left her just as terrified and confused as I was.

I left Women's Hospital against medical advice to be at my son's side.  My OB/GYN, who had been my doctor for many years, understood why I couldn't stay. I had incoming calls from family, normal "Congratulations!  How are you & the baby?" calls.  I sobbed into the phone telling people what was going on as my mother raced to pack up my room.

When we arrived at TCH, Josh was in the level 3 NICU, the highest level of intensive care at one of the leading pediatric hospitals in the world.  TCH cardiologists had performed their own chest x-rays, echos and blood labs.  We were waiting for the cardiologist on call to come speak to us.  As we waited, I sat next to Josh's warmer.  I begged God not take my baby.  I asked the nurse about all of the lines, tubes, leads, and IVs.  I needed to know what it all was.  What it was for.  But what I needed to know most is if Josh would live.

My family was begging me to stay in the wheelchair as my legs became more visibly swollen with edema.  I wanted to scream at them to shut up and stop trying to make me sit or put my feet up.  How could they think of anything but Josh?  I know they were doing exactly what I would have done with a family member in that situation, but at that point I was ready to send that wheelchair sailing to the sidewalk three stories below.

By 11pm my sister arrived in the NICU, suitcase and all.  The emotion in her eyes could not have been more heartbreaking.  I know she tried to hold back tears & tried to be strong for us.  Finally the cardiologist arrived.  She sat next to me, and Joe, mom, Jackie & Lauren gathered around to listen.  She explained that there were more problems with Josh's heart than the coarctation.

She drew a picture of a normal heart.  Then a picture of Josh's heart.  She explained that he had a very rare condition called Shone's Syndrome.  She drew four areas of malformation on the left side of Josh's heart.  His aortic arch looked like a straw that had been smashed closed.  His aortic valve had only two leaflets instead of the normal three.  There was a narrowing of his mitral valve, aortic valve, and his left ventricle was smaller than it should have been.

Over the next week we waited at Josh's bedside.  Our rabbi came to be with us.  Our family came to see Josh.  It was not an easy sight.  He was moved to B pod which is known as "Cardiac Row" in the level 3 NICU.  The nurses at TCH were amazing.  Nurses Kristi & Holly were his night nurses, who I left my son with to go home & get a few hours of sleep, and remind Ben that he still had a mom.  When we were there, we waited outside the NICU for what seemed like hours while they administered PICC lines, Central lines, Arterial lines, and a variety of other daily procedures.

We knew the exact time at which the cardiologists made their rounds, and waited as they discussed Josh in what seemed to be a foreign language.

Two doctors always stayed after the throng of cardiologists moved on to their next patient.  Doctors Sarah Stone and Scott Macicek explained what was going on in a language that we could understand.

Kristi & Holly were also there to explain things to us.  Holly was the first person to let me help bathe my son.  Kristi was with me the night before Josh's surgery.  She held me as I cried when a baby on the next pod over died in his mother's arms.  I will never forget the sounds of that mother crying as she held her baby and watched him go.  It was primal, it was horrific.

Joshua had his first surgery to repair the severe coarctation of the aorta at just one week old.  When his surgeon declared everything a success, we took the elevator up one floor to the CVICU.

Joe stopped me.  "What?  Let's go see him." I said, wondering why we were stopped in the hallway after having scrubbed in.  Joe said, "You need to prepare yourself."  We have a family friend who has gone through heart surgery.  Apparently he called Joe to let him know that it would not look good when we went in to see Josh after surgery.

There is nothing.  Nothing.  That will ever prepare a parent, or any human being with an ounce of compassion for what we saw.  Josh lay lifeless on his warming bed.  He was gray, he was intubated and honestly, there was nothing about his state that indicated he was alive.  As horrific as things had looked in the NICU over the last several days, this was far worse.  It was deathly silent, the only audible sounds, were that of the machine pumping oxygen into my son's lungs.  There was a morphine drip, foley catheter, and a variety of new lines that I was not familiar with.

After a long, hard fight, Josh was able to come home, miraculously at three weeks old, just in time for the 4th of July.

Talk about Independence Day.

For the next several months we were in and out of TCH for check ups, echos, and Josh was admitted on a few occasions.  We were watching and waiting to see if his aorta, which was still had some significant stenosis, would grow with him, or if he would need another surgery.

I got use to being at TCH.  I knew my way around all the cardiac floors & knew where the easiest parking was.  It was a home away from home for Josh's first year.  At 7 months, Dr. Macicek had to deliver some bad news.  Josh's aorta was not getting better, rather it was becoming worse.  Doctors Macicek and Niche told me that Josh would need another surgery.

This time, instead of a posterolateral thoracotomy (a surgical procedure to gain access to the heart from the back, with an incision just below the left shoulder blade), Josh would need open heart surgery.  My heart sank.  I imagined the heart lung bypass.  The thought of Josh's heart being stopped for hours flooded my mind.  The thought of the surgeon trying to restart his heart after the delicate repairs were completed invaded my brain like a cancer.

When I imagined a heart surgery prior to Josh's heart surgeries, I thought of surgery on something the size of my fist.  I quickly realized that this was not a surgery on an adult sized heart.  This was surgery on a tiny heart.  A heart the size of a strawberry.  An aorta the size of a piece of macaroni, that was so delicate and fragile, exact precision was paramount.  If sutures tore the aorta, even slightly, Josh could bleed out within minutes... if that long.

I began to cry.  I felt terribly for Dr. Macicek.  He had been with Josh since the day we arrived at TCH.  It had to be difficult for him too.

Just before his 8 month birthday, Josh underwent open heart surgery for another repair to his aorta.  Surgeon Jeffery Heinle performed both of Josh's surgeries.  He is one of the best congenital heart surgeons in the world.  The congenital heart surgery team at TCH, led by Dr. Charles Fraser, is where people travel vast distances to receive world renowned care.  This surgery was far more complex than the first.  Though the surgery was a success, Josh suffered several complications afterward.  He was in the CVICU longer this time, to manage his difficulty breathing and a strider caused by temporary paralysis of one of his vocal cords.

Now, at age 2, Josh is the picture of health.  He runs, he plays, he loves the beach, he does everything any other 2 year old child would do.  He sports a scar down the length of his beautiful chest, and one under his left shoulder blade as reminders of what he has been through.

I notice people at the beach looking at his scars, likely wondering what happened.  I'm always happy to explain it to them because Josh is a survivor.  I am proud of his scars for that reason.  We celebrate his surgical anniversaries because he is a fighter.  We thank God for him everyday.  Now, it's hard to believe I ever thought we could lose him.

Josh will never have a normal heart.  He still has a bicuspid aortic valve, sub-aortic valve stenosis, and mitral valve stenosis, which the cardiologists watch carefully.  We don't know when his next surgery will be, but I know that my son is a fighter, a survivor, and my little superhero.

Josh, we love you, and we are so proud of you.  You are our hero.  You have fought and survived.  You are a true miracle.

This is why I beg every expectant mother to request a simply pulse oximetry test for her newborn baby.  This measures the oxygen saturation of the blood.  There is no poking, prodding, or blood draws.  It's the little red light clip that they put on someone's finger in the hospital.  It's cost effective, it's quick & easy.  It would mean the difference between life & death for the 1 in 100 babies that are born with a congenital heart defect.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I'm a few steps closer to Mommy of the Year

This post is about real news stories of moms & dads making really poor parenting choices.  I can't believe the level of stupidity out there.  It's just unreal!  If you aren't going to take your job as a parent seriously (or at least not put your kid in danger) then don't freakin' have kids!  Job 1 as a parent is loving your kids, but a very close second is keeping your kids safe.  These people got a big fat F on that test.  Here are the stories:

While on our weekly trip to the beach, we witnessed this first hand:

Now look, I'm not a huge fan of motorcycles anyway, because I've heard too many awful stories, and seen too many people I know get seriously injured while driving one.  But this takes the cake.  News Flash:  Don't put you TODDLER on the back of your motorcycle. . . idiot.  Helmet or not, I feel that there is something really wrong with this picture.  It's like the perfect "You Know You're a Redneck If. . ." ending.  You know you're a redneck if you're sporting the stars & bars flag on the back of your bike. . . and you toddler.  Seriously, people. . . what do you think of this photo?  No, it's not a joke.  I took this photo with my iPhone at a gas station.  And yea, we don't go to the classiest beaches. . . obviously.

A few nights ago I was telling Joe about an atrocious thing I had seen in the "news".  I put news in quotes because it was posted on one of the mommy sites.
Joe's all, "Where did you hear this?"
Me, "On the Internet.  That's my primary source of information.  If it's on the Internet, it must be true."
Doesn't he know by now that the Internet & Oprah channel are my primary news sources?  But these stories are for real (I did a little fact checking), and honestly, it was shocking.

A babysitter was charged with child endangerment for putting her charge in a stroller & right into the back of a pick up truck to go from A to B.  Yep. . . sick.  I wouldn't put my dog in the back of a pick up truck, much less one of my kids or anyone else's child, thankyouverymuch.  I also told him about hearing that some one's 10 year old sitter was charged with child abuse.  Who let's a freakin' 10 year old babysit?  So, while mommy of the child that was found hitching a ride in the back of a truck, courtesy of the nanny, was probably just as horrified by the news as the rest of us were, mommy who leaves her child with a 10 year old babysitter is definitely putting me one step closer to the coveted Mommy of the Year Award.

Joe proceeded to chime in with his own news stories of the day.  A woman in Florida was arrested for leaving her 5 year old in the car, in the rain, while she went into a local bar to knock back a few beers.  When another patron of the fine establishment came out & saw a small child in a car. . . outside a bar. . . alone. . . he began to question the 5 year old girl.  "Everything okay?"  "Where's your mommy?"  Her response, "Yes, I'm fine, Mommy said she was going to get me a candy bar."  Which also illustrates this bad mother's mistake #2:  Apparently not driving home the point about not talking to strangers.  Thank God she didn't teach that pretty standard lesson because in this instance the stranger was a decent human being & called the cops.

Oh, we've heard this tale a million times.  Bad Parent says, "I'm going to get you a candy bar." and it takes roughly 3 hours because Mom's belting 'em back at a bar, where coincidentally, they don't sell candy bars.  Bad Parent says, "I'm going out for a pack of smokes." & doesn't return for days.  I don't feel sorry for this woman who's sitting in jail, because that's exactly where she belongs.  I do feel sorry for this poor kid, who had the crap luck to draw the short straw the day they were handing out parents.

This next one is rich.  Joe tells me the story of a brilliant father who is drunk & can't drive.  So what does dear old Dad do?  He asks his 8 year old son to drive, of course.  From Mississippi to Dallas.  Oh my God, Dad, how much did you have to drink that you can't sober up on that drive?  When a "concerned motorist" in Louisiana calls the police about the small child driving down the interstate, the cops pull him over.  Guess his driving skills needed a little more work. . . or a few more YEARS.  Guess what the cops find?  Dad is passed out in the passenger seat & darling daughter is in the back seat.  REALLY?  What.  The.  Hell.

Last Bad Parent story of the day. . . Joe tells me a woman was arrested for a DWI around 1 am.  So she calls a friend to come get her.  What does she do next?  She has her friend drop her off at her car.  No kidding, really?  Seeing as how she's drunk & all, she gets pulled over at 3:30 in the morning for another DWI & guess what?!?!  Her 3 year old daughter is in the back seat.  Brilliant idea, moron.

So, I'm probably not going to win Mommy of the Year, but at least I can take comfort in the fact that I'm not this awful.  I usually don't judge other parents because parenting is very hard, and God knows I'm still working on it, but these people had it coming.  Though Joe & I laughed at some of this at first, we quickly felt terribly sorry for these children.  Honestly.  We wondered what would happen to these kids.  Going back to mom & dad isn't exactly ideal, if this is the way they "parent".  But neither is putting them into Child Protective Services.  What's your take on this?  Should these kids go back to their parents?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Would You Like Cheese With That Whine?

Or perhaps some grapes?  Good grief.  We have taken a trip to whine country.  Josh has turned two, and some strange flip switched in his head & this is what we hear most of the time from what once was a sweet and happy child. ALL. THE. TIME.  It's like, "Who are you, and what have you done with my little Joshy Pooh?"  Yes, I know, his nickname is cheesy, but if you had seen him in his first months of life, you would know why it stuck.  He was so adorable, sweet and innocent, and had a Winnie The Pooh style honey pot (a.k.a. baby belly), that Joshy Pooh just came out of my mouth and now every one calls him that.  Or Joshy for short.

Back to our visit in whine country.  There are no whine tastings, it's full on binge whining.  Although I would love a bucket for him to spit this whine into.  Mommy is not a big drinker, or I would have wine to go with his whine.  Would wine cure the whine?  He got a little wine at his bris. . . what's the harm?  Seriously though, it's as if nothing is going his way these days & he's pissed off at the world.  He's not even eating like the little professional foodie he once was.  He has all of his teeth, so I've ruled that out as the cause.  Dare I say it's just the "Terrible 2's"?  Ben had more of the Terrible 3's, but considering the Autism factor with him I feel like a 1st time parent in some ways with Josh.  I scare myself.  "Is he showing signs of Autism?  Or is this normal 2 year old behavior?"  Sadly after 4 years of motherhood, I still don't know what the hell I'm doing most of the time.  I'd like to end our trip to whine country, yet I don't have the first clue as to how to get out of the whineyard from hell.

So I self medicate with chocolate.  Chocolate goes very well with Josh's variety of whine.  He whines, and at the end of the day, Mommy rewards herself for not losing her cool by having some chocolate.  For more on the benefits of chocolate, see my previous post on Foods That Do Things For You.  With the latest in our tour of whine country, I've discovered that I'm a functioning chocoholic.  I limit my consumption, and do not consume during the day, only after dinner, and then I'm only allowed one serving.  Still not fabulous for my waistline, but I've got to get through the terrible 2's somehow!  Chasing & playing with the whiner & his brother in the 100 degree heat helps to keep the chocolate from showing up on my ass too much.

The whining driving me insane.  Okay, these two boys drove me insane a long time ago. . .  I'm trying to grin & bare it, and hope it passes quickly, before mom has a meltdown & takes off for a tour of the real wine country!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This is why Parents are so exhausted. . .

Parents, of small children in particular, don't get a lot of uninterrupted sleep often, if ever.  Children wake in the middle of the night.  They want to get into mommy & or daddy's bed.  As a parent, we have ALL been there.  It's tough.  They are so adorable when sleeping.  But allowing my child to remain in our bed is a very slippery slope which can easily become habit forming.  It's not good for the quality of Joe's sleep, it's not good for the quality of my sleep, and it's not good for Ben's sleep.  I think that as he barely opens his eyes to reposition or roll over in bed (as most of us do), instead of staying put, he has conditioned himself to get up and come get in bed with mommy & daddy.  We try to take him back to bed, but usually have to wait until he has fallen back into a sound sleep before we can do so successfully, without Ben's protests, that are generally loud enough to wake his roommate, Josh.  The last thing I need at 3 am is two children awake, pissed off & crying.  We have never been keen on the "Family Bed", though I have nothing against those who do.  That said, if your child is making it difficult for you to get a restful sleep, then maybe it's time to reconsider the Family Bed.

When we brought both of our boys home from the hospital, they slept in a co-sleeper.  The co-sleeper is a bassinet that is attached to the parents bed, and makes it easy for mom to reach over and get the baby to nurse or give a bottle for midnight feedings.  But the co-sleeper also provides the baby with their own bed, which is far safer than putting a newborn in the bed with you, and helps them learn to sleep independently in their own space, without the need mom's arms, chest, or  boob for snacking to sleep soundly.  Yet the baby is still close to mom to make those first several months with a baby that isn't sleeping through the night a little easier for everyone.

We seldom shared our bed with Ben.  The 1st time was when he was about 9 months old and had RSV.  I was afraid that he was so ill, and having difficulty breathing, that I put him in our bed until he was well.  I never rocked my babies until they were asleep.  I would rock them or sing to them or read to them until I knew they were ready for sleep, but still awake, and put them in their crib.  Josh, however, never (not once) in 2 years, has slept in our bed.  We felt strongly about encouraging and training the boys to be independent sleepers from the start.  Once Ben moved to a toddler bed (way to early in retrospect, as he was not climbing out of his crib) we went through bouts of him coming into our room in the middle of the night.  The child cannot, will not, does not stay still in his sleep.  I've woken to a TKO to the nose, where I literally saw stars.  Sometimes Ben will get in on my side, and I'll keep him there so that Joe isn't subjected to the trashing.  One night recently, Ben crawled in on Joe's side & by morning Joe was in misery & exhausted.  These bouts will go on for a week or more, and then he'll sleep fine in his own bed, and only come into our room occasionally.  Last night was one of those nights.  Sometimes it's as though he has an internal alarm that wakes him at 3 am .  I tried after a few minutes in our bed to put him back to bed & got a loud protest.  Exhausted myself, I put him back in my bed thinking I needed to give him a little more time to get into a deeper sleep before putting him back in his bed.  I fell asleep until ten minutes to six this morning, waking in discomfort, and wondering why.  This is what I woke to find.  We have a king size bed, but last night (and more nights then I'd like to admit) I find Ben in this position, which clearly makes our king size bed feel much smaller. 

By all means, make yourself comfortable. . . Down by Ben's feet, Joe is clinging to the edge of the bed.

Last night  Joe & I were Benjy Bookends.  Poor Joe got the feet of fury & I got the hammering hands. So after all the sleep training work, we are still working on it 4 years later.  Ahhh, the best laid plans. . . But at least it's not every night, and at least he goes to sleep in his bed independently without needing Joe or me next to him.  He's learned to soothe himself to sleep, he just doesn't always stay asleep.  It was brought to our attention that many children on the Autism spectrum have sleep issues and disturbances.  So given the circumstances, I think Ben is doing pretty well.  Mom  & Dad, on the other hand are exhausted after nights like the one pictured above.  I'll never forget when I had the insane notion that I wanted to have a third baby.  Joe was ready to have me committed.  He said, "Are you CRAZY?  Aren't you tired?  I'm tired!  I just want sleep!"  He was right.  What the hell was I thinking?  That was the end of any thoughts of having another baby.  We are happy & complete, though exhausted with the two we have.

This is just part of the reason that parents are so exhausted.

Fun, Fashionable Night

Last night was the fun & fashionable 81 Poppies Spring/ Summer 2011 Sample Sale in Houston.  Oh how I love a great fitting dress.  There were plenty to choose from. . . & the comfort of wearing 81 Poppies was shocking, especially given how great the garments look.  Here are some photos from the big night.

L to R: My mother-in-law, Jackie in the "Jackie" top in Cottage Stripe.  Michelle, ab-fav designer behind 81 Poppies (and also my sister-in-law), wearing the "Shirley" dress & Me in the "Jennifer" dress!

Family Ladies

The man behind the designer!  Artist K.C. Collins,  Michelle's husband.

Me with our family friend Caroline.

Event hostess, Beth DeLozier-Hayes of Tres Chic Designs, and columnist for Life+Dog magazine, wearing the "Doris" top with the "Amber" skirt.  Beth is pictured with 81 Poppies designer, Michelle Weisman.

Me with our glamourous Hostess, Writer, Designer, Beth DeLozier-Hayes of Tres Chic Designs.  Doesn't Beth look to die for in her Doris top & Amber skirt? 

Amy & Michelle, sisters-in-law.  I'm a lucky girl to have a talented fashion designer in the family!

The main topics of discussion that I heard throughout the night from guests & shoppers were about the colors, the cuts, the patterns, comfort of the dresses & how amazing they looked.  I heard numerous times as ladies donned 81 Poppies' colorful, chic dresses, "That dress looks great on everyone!"  And many truly did look great on everyone.  There were a variety of women in attendance.  All shapes and sizes, from mothers, to grandmothers to career women, to flat out fabulous fashionistas ready for their next great find.  There was literally something for everyone!

Many described the garments as effortless, comfortable, and stylish.  Ladies don't often enter a fitting room and readily come out to show off their outfit for a room full of other women to see, but all of the guests did last night. . . complete with smiles on their faces.  You know the smile that creeps across your face when you are thinking, "Wow!  I LOVE this!"

I chose three dresses that were all very comfortable and great transitional pieces.  The three dresses that I purchased are fantastic & I'm so happy with my buys.  I felt comfortable & fashionable. . . those terms to not often collide (seriously) in the same sentence.  Michelle, pictured above in the "Shirley" dress, inspired me to try it on.  The color was as gorgeous as the style of the dress.  I'm so glad this is now hanging in my closet.  It will transition well into fall, and likely beyond given that I live in the South.

My second buy was the "Brady" dress.
I fell in love with the pink hues in the print, as well as the flirty shirt tail hem.  I also loved the side ties and the button detail on the shoulders.  Though this dress is less transitional for fall, it's a must have for spring & summer.  This can be easily dressed up for a date night, or dressed down for a casual brunch or day out with friends.

Last, but not least, I bought the "Charlotte" dress in a Moroccan inspired print.  This was one of the dresses that looked great on everyone!  It also comes in a vibrant yellow.
Who wouldn't love a dress that you slip into with ease, a stunning front skirt detail, and beautiful print. This dress is sure to make you shine. This is another piece that will transition well into fall with tights & a cardigan.

Another rare & amazing thing about garments from 81 Poppies. . . they are very well made (Michelle is very particular about the finished product, and the level of quality she delivers).  AND. . . drum roll. . . they are made in the good ole U.S.A.  It's hard to find something made in the U.S.A. these days.  I'm so proud of Michelle & 81 Poppies.  She has turned her passion & talent into a really great line that is appealing to all shapes, sizes, and ages.  Honestly, these are the most fashionable & comfortable dresses I own.  I hope you'll check out 81 Popppies.  The HUGE sale continues at the online store.  Also check out the Fall 2011 line.  I've already got my eye on several must have pieces.  You can also "Like" 81 Poppies on Facebook & follow on Twitter for all the latest news and info!

Many thanks to Beth DeLozier-Hayes of Tres Chic Designs for putting together a wonderful event for 81 Poppies.  Be sure to look for Life+Dog magazine & check out Beth's columns.  What can I say, Beth's got style, and well. . . she's totally "Tres Chic".

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Saying NO!

The other day a friend told me she's never heard kids say "no" as much as mine do.  I have no objectivity on the matter, as they are mine & I don't know anything different.  My mother always told me that my 1st word was "no".  Maybe it's hereditary?

One thing I do know is that they will outgrow saying "no".  I know I did, and honestly, now I don't say it enough.  Having visions of grandeur, I always say yes to volunteer opportunities and great causes, thinking, "I can do it." Sure I can take on a zillion different obligations, and volunteer my time but as my husband recently pointed out, all of these things take away from time spent with the boys & my real job.  FYI, my real job is as a mom, wife, and a begrudging cook.

I use to like cooking until it became a job whose description included making meals three times a day, plus snacks and planning out menus for the week, making a grocery list to cover said menu, going to the grocery store weekly, Costco trips, etc.  Back when it was, "Hey babe, I'm going to try out this new recipe tonight..." it was much more fun.

However, I love my job as a mommy.  Okay, it's exhausting & some diapers evoke my gag reflex, but otherwise, it's fantastic.  I love my boys... the kids & the hubby, so being the person that they need is all I really have to do.  When I begin to look forward to a volunteer project being finished, that's a bad sign.  It means I'm over it & don't want any more e-mails about it, don't want the obligation, and want to return to my regular life, as simple as it may be.  I would see all of these other mom's actively, happily volunteering at the school, even working demanding full time jobs outside the home, and think, "If they are doing it, and they seem like great moms, then so should I."  In reality, I'm just a stay at home mom.  My kids don't care if I'm on the baking committee, or chairing events.  They just want their mommy.  It's not like I have to say yes to these things to earn a living for my family, so why am I doing it?  Honestly, I think it was to prove to myself & others that I was an awesome - do it all - type mom, complete with smile.  The truth is, I don't have anything to prove to anyone but myself, my children & my husband.  I want to show them that I'm always here for them, that I'm present & thankful for my role in their lives.  If you're a mom that works at work & works at home, I truly admire you!  If you're a mom that loves to volunteer, and manages to juggle it all, then I'm honestly happy that you've found your groove & are happy doing it.  It's just not me.  The bottom line is every mom does things differently, and some work at work & work at home, some volunteer, and some just be a mom.  No matter what type of mom you are, as long as you are happy, and your kids are happy, that's all that truly matters.

So maybe it's time I learn from my children how to say "no".

Monday, August 8, 2011

Boys at the beach August 7

Just a couple of photos from the beach yesterday.  The water looks a little muddy in the pictures, but it wasn't that bad.  Pretty clear actually. . . Especially for the TX Eastern Coastline!  Gosh I love our boys!

Looking for shark's teeth with Daddy

Josh, Daddy & Ben in the background.  Loving their Spiderman life jackets

Benjy on the surfboard

Josh toting Mommy's drink (thank goodness it was an empty!)

Playing in the sand with new toys from Kenney & Valerie

Ben swimming

Josh napping

Ben out of the water for a few minutes. . .