Sunday, August 16, 2015

He's home!!

One more kid left. Getting her this week and then I can relax again. All the babies are back in the nest. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Theo at 11 months.


My memory is not what it used to be, so bear with me while I try to document some of Theo's infancy before it all fades away.

At 11 months, this is what we've got so far:

He's crawling like a champ.. i.e really fast, so I have to watch him at all times.  He started crawling at 9 months, just like his brother and sister.  No walking yet, but he does like to be "walked," i.e I hold his hands and we walk around the house together.  He has a funny turning in of his foot that I want to speak to the doctor about.

He has also made it up the stairs now.  Argh.

eating:  This kid makes me smile.  He will try anything.  He is like Mina in that regard.  She was always an adventurous eater.. unlike Jordan.  Theo has eaten things like chicken tikka masala, tuna fish, pasta, steak, chicken in all forms, hamburger, club sandwiches (I'm looking at you gluten free club at Tuckers), all fruits, yogurt, cheese, avocado, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, rice..)  Honestly, I just feed him off my plate now.  The baby food days are basically over, although we keep a few packets around for convenience when travelling.  I tried to give him some baby oatmeal the other day (something he used to love at 6 months) and he practically spit it out at me, with a look that said, "Are you serious?  Where's my French toast?"

words:  Nothing yet.  A bit strange on this front as he was saying "mama" and "baba" at 6 months.  Then he suddenly stopped.  He does watch my mouth sometimes as I talk, so I try to slow down what I am saying, and I repeat words ad nauseum, labeling everything that comes into contact with his hands.  He is definitely babbling.

expressions:  he's not talking yet, but I absolutely flip out with joy every time he crinkles his nose when he laughs, which is often.  And he has 8 teeth already!!!  It's the cutest thing.

likes:  sweets, chocolate, ice cream, pasta, watermelon, washing his hands, the pool, the beach, the waves crashing on the shore, the picture of Jordan on the beach in his room, the pictures of Jordan and Mina in the kitchen, pulling Oscar's tail (poor Oscar - heavily rewarded every time with peanut butter), walks in his stroller, swings, his lovey, the fuzzy blanket Grandma H got him, pulling things out of the lower cabinet in the kitchen, flipping pages of his books.

dislikes: long car rides, being made to wait on the changing table for his bottle before nap, sitting in his high chair for too long, not being allowed to drink our coffee, wine, beer or diet soda.

Coffee will have to wait.


Marine life at the aquarium.

Someone's missing the big kids. Theo too.


crinkle nose.

Summer Setback, 2015.

Unfortunately, Jordan's camp experience didn't go as planned this year. After a week at gymnastics camp, he came down with a high fever.  He complained of chills, pain and was sleeping constantly.  The camp nurses brought him to urgent care and his chest was X-rayed.  He was eventually diagnosed with pneumonia. Phone calls from the health center are not what any parent wants to get when their kid is away at camp.  It's especially hard when you aren't even in the same country.  Funny to think that last year's big health drama was a call from Mina's camp warning us that one of the bunk mates had to be treated for lice. 

Simple times.

Jeff flew out to the States early, withdrew Jordan from camp and brought him to Grandma H's to recover.

Over a few days, his fever continued, despite Tylenol and antibiotics.  The infection in his lungs remained and he got very dehydrated.  We made the decision to admit him to an ER in Pennsylvania, and he began IV fluids and new antibiotics.  Jordan's cardiac team at Columbia was in touch with the hospital to discuss testing and medication.  Jeff has been by his bedside the whole time.

A couple days later, Jordan is recovering (fingers crossed).  More tests continue to make sure the infection isn't in his bloodstream or affecting his heart or organs.  That is really scary to even think about.  His fever is down for now (fingers crossed) and Jeff says he is starting to go back to being his normal, goofy self.  See pic below once fever broke.


Jordan was supposed to be enjoying the last couple weeks of August in the same camp that Mina is in right now.  Obviously that isn't going to happen.  I emailed the camp director and asked that Jordan be withdrawn due to medical reasons.  They were understanding about it.  Jordan hasn't said too much about not getting to go, at least not yet.  I'm also not there with him, so I have no clue exactly what he's thinking.  I'm still here in Bermuda, with the baby, trying to process all of this from afar.  Traveling with the baby and trying to juggle his care while being in and out of the hospital didn't seem to make much sense at the time.

I think that's the reasoning.  I don't know.  I regret not going.  Trying to gauge how Jordan is doing based on emails, texts, phone calls and Facetime is not the same as being physically present in the same room with someone.  I'm feeling massive amounts of guilt as a mom, as well as a bit of resentment.  Who cares if it was a hassle with the baby? Why did I agree to stay home? Maybe trying to make everything run smoothly shouldn't have been a priority. I don't know why I agreed to this.  I am kicking myself. 

The other thing that's been bothering me about this situation is the feeling of let down on Jordan's behalf.  Maybe he doesn't care right now that he missed out on the rest of camp, the adventures to Hershey Park, the water slides in the lake, the bungee jumping and overnights in a tent with campfires and s'mores.  But at some point, he's going to think about it, particularly when Mina comes home and talks about what a fun summer she had.

I really wanted them both to have a fun summer.  That's why we agreed to let them go to camp again this year and for a longer period of time.  I put aside any doubts  because both of the kids have gone to camp before.  I put aside any doubts about Jordan's health because I trusted he would be well cared for.  I made the call, as I have done a million times before, to treat him like any other kid and not let being a transplant kid affect every aspect of my decision making.  I never wanted that to be the defining characteristic about him.  I just wanted him to be normal.

I keep telling myself that any kid could have come down with pneumonia at camp.  It's not just something that happens to a transplant kid.  When you make the call to treat your immune-suppressed kid like everyone else, you have to be willing to accept that shit will happen sometimes.  And then you get to second guess yourself to death.  Did I do the right thing?  Should he have stayed home?  Was it too much expecting him to be away by himself?  Was there something I should have done differently, said to his counselors before, packed warmer clothes?


Jeff sent me this picture today.  Jordan is off the IV drips and is walking around again.  His temperature is still down, but they are going to keep in the hospital one more night to observe him as they switch him to an oral antibiotic, and to see if he can keep his fluids down.  He looks incredibly big in this picture, as he sits there goofing off with a surgical mask.  I don't know how other transplant parents manage the balance of achieving a semblance of normality for their kids.  Ten and a half years later, I'm still trying to figure it out. 

We've never let Jordan's health issue dictate how he was treated when it came to basic matters.  He started preschool at two and a half, was surrounded by regular kids, exposed to all the same germs and colds they were.  He was always carted around to parties and play dates and big open pits of germ ridden balls at play zones.  He's gone to amusement parks and flies on airplanes.  In short, he's pretty much been a regular kid.

With the exception of this year (when we pulled him out of school for a week during a chicken pox scare) I don't recall any major incidents of altering normal behavior because of his immune issues.  Granted, some of my blasé attitude is because Jordan is on a very low dose of suppression.  Comparably speaking, his level of medication is minimal.  When we inform his anesthesia docs and nurses before every biopsy about his meds, they look incredulous.  Most transplant patients take a lot of meds.  Jordan has been lucky.  In so many ways.

I am going to try not to let my attitude affect Jordan's reaction to this.  If and when he decides to talk about it, I need to help him put this in perspective.  He missed some fun at camp.  That is a real bummer.  Sometimes bad things happen.  But there is still some summer left before school starts and we'll have to find a way to have some fun at home.  I'll leave my sober depressing thoughts for after he goes to bed.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Bermuda Cupmatch Weekend 2015

In the five years we've lived on this island, we've spent every summer trying to demystify the four day holiday known as "Cup Match."

The commercial activity basically shuts down.  There's a two day long cricket match involving teams from opposite ends of the island.  There's loads of outdoor activities like camping, concerts, and water sports.  There's tons of food involved, of course.  Of course, there's also commemorating Emancipation itself.

This article from Larry Burchall provides some historical insight on the origins of the holiday.  Very informative.

This year, we actually made it to Cupmatch proper, as I will call it.  We got to the game, enjoyed the spirit of rivalry between St. Georges and Somerset, hung out with our ACE crew, and reveled in the best of summer, Bermuda style.  It was a fantastic weekend.

Some scenes:


Turquoise water of St Georges.


Camping tents set up by the water.  Notwithstanding the historical reasons behind the camping, I think it must be like having an island wide block party/tailgating party.  It's kind of like the Superbowl, but with cricket ... and Soca/Reggae music ... and rum swizzle. 

Which I made for the first time too.  Oy my head.


Theo hits the ocean for the first time!

The best summer parties with the best hosts.

BBQ and leaving party for friends.


So much great food, and such perfect hosts!  (photo - Sonia Jabon).


Water sport.




Seating at the Cricket Field.


Relaxing in the shade at the game (wearing our team colors!)


Theo's first cricket match!


High fiving Ms L, a very loyal Somerset girl. 

Congrats Somerset on claiming the cup this year.


Why is St Georges drinking out de bottle?
Because Somerset stole de cup!  Bwah hahahah!"

Sorry, some Cupmatch humor courtesy of Ms. L.


Oy, the parking!

All in all, a great, fun, holiday.  Can't wait to celebrate it again next year!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Off to camp!

The big kids are off to camp, and we had the usual routine:

Loads of packing to get us through the month.

Camp packing begins!

Travel adventure stories made more memorable with the arrival of this guy.

Longest plane ride in history.

Reaching home base at Grandmas and waking up to this.

Morning guests in PA

Loads of food.






Family Game night. 

And finally, drop off.

To make it easier, we split up this year.  Jeff took Mina. 


And I took Jordan.


Saying goodbye was not easy.


And I am already weepy thinking about it.  They've only been gone three days.  I really don't know what I am going to do when they go off to college.  I told Jeff maybe I would feel differently by then since they will be teenagers, and I'll be sick of them. 

But I doubt it.

Going to miss this girl!  Off to camp tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Haunted History Tour of St Georges

One of the nice parts about having family visit, is discovering new attractions in Bermuda.  Recently, I learned about a tour of St. Georges, billed as a Haunted History.  What better way of exploring the cobblestone back alleys of a historic UNESCO site?


Our tour leader, in full attire.  He met us in Kings Square, lantern in hand.


As the sun set and introductions concluded, we ventured forth.


It was definitely a little creepy, especially wandering the graveyard at St. Peter's.


But it was also fascinating to learn about the settlement of the town, the former residents, and their tales of love, death and valor.


St Georges is a living, breathing town, despite its heritage status.  People go about their day to day lives in the midst of living history.

I loved peeking into courtyards and learning who once lived in this place.


The kids did too.


The Haunted History tour is a lot of fun and a welcome new attraction for Bermuda.  It's an easy walk of less than a mile, through the streets.  Wear comfortable shoes and feel free to bring the school age kids.  Definitely a family friendly activity!

Kristin White is the creative director and writer for this tour.  She's an amazing young woman whose love for St Georges is evident in this project she's put together.

More info on the tour can be found on the Haunted History site

And if you have specific questions, or want suggestions about arranging an itinerary, contact me via my Tipglo account.  A small fee is charged.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Travels with Theo - crawling to the finish.

Getting the older kids to sleep away camp this summer was made slight more complicated. 

Exhibit 1:

Theo, age 10 months. All he wants to do is crawl around on the floor, pull himself up into standing position, and maybe eat. 

Not so easy in an airport terminal.  

Definitely made worse by a two hour plus delay. 

Once in the air, he seemed confused by the rule regarding staying in one's seat. He responded by silencing Jeff. And then spitting up. 

Arriving in Newark and no air tram to get us to the rental car. The overcrowded bus would not seat us, the stroller and our three large suitcases. 

So, more waiting while Jeff darts off solo to get the car. 

By this point Theo is so overtired, he turns on his brother and begins pulling hair. Jordan responds as only he can. Goofy faces and howling.  Perfect. Fits right into the chaos. 

Despite an exhausting start, we made it up de country and were greeted with the morning breakfast club. 

A day to regroup, last minute shopping and re packing the kids trunks, and then seeing them off for a glorious month of parent-free fun. 

I am a rock. I will not cry this year. 

Edited to add:
Too late. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A tie dye birthday - highlights!

Before Pinterest, all we had was our own imagination to craft memorable birthdays for our kids.  Life may have been simpler then, but I'm not complaining.  I'll take all the help I can get!

Fast forward to 2015, and between Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube, there is no shortage of inspired ideas out there to compare your own handiwork against.

For Mina's 9th birthday, she asked for a tie dye party. No other explanation. After sitting down and talking about it, we came up with some ideas and I set off to execute the grand vision. 

The plan:
Food station
T shirt tie dye

I shamelessly borrowed from all the above mentioned online sources and came up with this. 

Cake:  Birdonacake has a great tutorial for the whole thing. 


Practice round. 

Stage 2.

I tried the blue frosting in the middle for this round, but it was easier to just stick to white.

I added some Trix bits along the edge to tidy it up (and get rid of the cereal.)

Once sliced, you get the full effect.


I like chalkboard art.  Plus, I needed a sign by the front door so people would just come inside.  We disconnected the doorbell to preserve the baby's naps.  hahaha

Party prep work.
Theme inspired food ideas:

Trix krispy bars from Cravings of a Lunatic

Colorful balls of madness #tiedyeparty7


Tie dye and rainbow colors, courtesy of and Oriental trading company.  We did tie dye backpacks as favors too.



The girls decided to have an impromptu freeze dance competition at the end, and we used the peace sign fans as prizes.

T shirts:

Fantastic tutorial on YouTube on how to do this with acrylic paint and fabric medium, by Shemi Dixon

I bought some fabric markers, so the girls could flair out their shirts.

Drying on the tarp, once the rubber bands are removed. Yes, that is a pair of boxer shorts there as well.  Jeff thought he needed one.



We put together a fun playlist with songs from the 60's through today, and the girls had a blast dancing and diving into the pool.  It was a great way to cool off after doing the shirts in the sun.