Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fire in Her Tummy

My sassy niece Emma has reflux, and she used to tell her parents all the time, "There's a fire in my tummy!" We've known Becca has had a fire in her tummy for some time now. Like most preemies, she's been medicated for reflux since she was in the hospital. We've just been upping her dosage as Zantac as she's grown, hoping that she would simply grow out of the reflux, too. (Most kids do.) As a kid moves from bottles to solids, you usually see less of the characteristic spitting up and back-arching during feedings, so its hard to tell if she is actually still suffering from reflux (at least until she is able to tell you about the fire in their tummy!). So what do you do? You have an upper gastrointestinal study done. Which we did.

It's a simple procedure if the patient cooperates (as our patient did). We put Becca in a gown (huge and adorable), and then laid her in a couple of different positions while she drank some glow-in-the-dark milk (a.k.a. flavored barium). Since she hadn't had anything to eat or drink in 14 hours, she was happy to oblige. They snapped a bunch of pictures to see how the milk moved through her system. They were checking out the anatomical structure of her g-i tract and looking to see if the milk stayed in her stomach once it got there.

The first part was great. Everything went down beautifully, as you can see below (the long dark stripe is the milk going down her esophagus and into the black pouch, which is her stomach):

But here's where things went awry. (Okay, it wasn't that different than we expected, but I wanted to say the word "awry." I lead an exciting life.) This picture was taken after she finished drinking:

See the dark stripe-y thing now? And how it comes nearly all the way up to her chin (the semicircle at the top of the screen)? Yeah, that's not milk going down...that's milk coming back up...milk, that is, that has been in her stomach and mixed with stomach acids and other gross stuff.

No wonder she doesn't like to eat.

I don't know what the next step is; I haven't heard from the GI doc. Maybe we don't do anything until we see him in a couple of months. We still have to collect a poop sample because little missy refuses to poop on a day when we can actually get to Vandy to drop it off. I have a feeling, though, that we have to do a more invasive test now to measure the acidity of her stomach, which involves snaking a very long piece of tubing down her nose and into her stomach and leaving it there for 24 hours. Without sedation or anything. Sounds fun, doesn't it? Nothing we can't manage, though...just another thing to add to the list of procedures - of of things to do over the next few weeks!

Emma's done it before, even multiple times, I think. Good thing...'cause Becca's going to need a sassy girl to sassy girl pep talk! :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Poop Doctor

Last week we saw two new specialists and added a specialty (bringing the grand total of specialties to 10 and the current total to 6). I am a big fan of both new doctors!

First, we saw our new ENT. I'm sure you remember that I was never happy with our original ENT, and a few months ago, I finally made the switch. Despite a few awkward questions about my reasons behind requesting a change, we had a good appointment, though we are playing more of the wait-and-see game. Becca was still getting over her cold, so, not surprisingly, she had fluid in her ears. Neither of her tubes are in the right place (though they are both lodged in her ears somewhere), so neither is functioning. The question, then, is whether her ear is normally draining the fluid on its own but was having trouble because of the cold or if she still needs tubes. Dr. Goudy (who is, as everyone said, quite nice to look at ;) ) wants to wait 10 weeks and check her ears again and give her another hearing test (the kind that she keeps failing even though we know she hears). If the fluid is going to drain on its own, it will have done it by then; if not, we need a new set of tubes. At this point, if they give her a new set of tubes, they will go ahead and remove her adenoids as well. Apparently doing so reduces the risk of needed a third set of tubes by 50%. Hopefully, though, when we go back her ears will be clear, and we'll avoid another surgery.

The next day we hiked all the way down to Cool Springs (which won't be much of a hike next month!) to see the gastroenterologist (which, by the way, I think I just spelled correctly on my first attempt!). We had waited four months for this appointment, and if we wanted to be seen at the main hospital, it would have taken another two months. That's annoying. Six months is a long time in a toddler's life, especially if the kid in question is itty bitty and not growing well. This is my message, then: pediatric gastroenterologists, please come to Nashville! Save our FTT (failure to thrive) babies and make bookoos of money at the same time!

It was definitely worth the wait and the drive to see Dr. Moulton, though. He might be my new favorite specialist. After waiting two miserable hours at the ENT the day before, I came to this appointment armed with my netbook and an Elmo movie downloaded to iTunes. (Why is it that specialists are only available during naptime? Seriously, it wasn't even a scheduling issue - the ENT's only in the clinic in the afternoon!) I was afraid this was going to get particularly ugly, as we had driven directly from an hour of physical therapy. I was seriously tossing chicken nuggets back to her on the way there; it was just that kind of day. However, they had us back in a room before I could even finish filling out the initial paperwork. After the nurse got Becca weighed in, etc (at a chunky 15 pounds, 10 ounces - back to where she was before the cold), I asked her to watch her for a second while I made a quick run to the bathroom. (It was my first chance since leaving the house several hours ago - add that to the list of things I didn't realize I would miss when I became a mother!) By the time I got back, the doctor was in the room, pulling her chart up. He introduced himself, shook my hand, and said, "Tell me about Becca's prior medical history."


That took some time. And he listened the entire time, nodding and making "listening noises" while typing it all into the computer. Good thing they weren't already running behind. I had a lot to say. I mean, remember when we first started talking about growth? Oh yeah, in week seventeen of the pregnancy. That would be...let me count...784 days ago. And we've probably talked about her growth every single one of those 784 days. First off, we had to correct a mistake in the computer: some silly doctor along the way had messed up her chart by charting - in her medical record! - that she was born at 36 weeks. If only! Aaaanyway...I filled him in on everything from the crappy placenta (a.k.a. The Root of All Evil) to our current progress in feeding therapy. As I talked, I kept thinking, "Wow, we probably should have gone ahead and seen these guys already!" I think I've been avoiding it because I've been afraid they'd want to give her a feeding tube, and I just really don't want that to happen.'s back on the table.

After listening attentively, Dr. Moulton said, "Okay. You know a lot about all of this. How can I help you?" to which I replied, "Make her grow!" And I begged him not to cut a hole in her stomach. Okay, not exactly, but I did ask if I still needed to be worried about a g-tube...which he thinks could still be an option. Poop (but more on poop to come!).

Basically, we're now trying to answer two questions:
  1. Is she getting enough calories? She needs around 700 calories a day. By my estimation, she's drinking around 500 calories a day (in her formula). That leaves 200 calories in other food. I can eat without even realizing it, but that's a lot for her. Plus, you have to subtract anything she throws up (which still happens every few days). I think she's getting enough calories at this point, but we haven't been tracking it. Dr. Moulton is having us keep a food journal for three days, which his nutritionist will analyze (and is giving me flashbacks of my Weight Watchers days). If she's not getting enough calories, we'll likely explore the g-tube option some more. (I don't think it's as simple as whether or not she got 2100 calories in the past three days, but the journal will be a starting point.)
  2. What is her body doing with the calories she gets? To start to answer this question, we're heading in to Vandy tomorrow to have an upper-GI study done. Basically, Becca will drink some glow-in-the-dark milk, and they will take pictures of what happens as it goes down. It should be a pretty simple process and will give us a pretty good idea as to what is going on with her reflux these days. But that's not all! In order to look at whether or not her body is processing her food appropriately, they've got to look at what goes in and what comes out. Yep, we're collecting poop. We've got to take it in tomorrow, but the little princess has decided that she doesn't need to poop today. Little punk. I actually want her to poop, and she won't. It's like being back in the NICU. Anyone have an itty bitty glycerin suppository? Perhaps she'll poop in the morning, but since she can't have anything to eat or drink, I'm guessing we'll have to make a special trip in to town to deliver a Tupperware full of turds. (Pardon me. I just had to say that.)
There you go. The point, I guess, is that she's still not growing as well as they would like, even though she's been picking up lots of steam these past several weeks. She's jumped into 6-9 month clothes (though we still have a few favorite 3-6 month outfits in the mix...I have problems with change), and she's definitely looking more and more like a big girl. And she's eating better, too (not great, but better). Today at therapy, she had 15 blueberries (her current favorite), 2 chicken nuggets, 2 strawberries, 9 craisens (which, by the way, the Blogger spell-check wants to changes to "craigslist"), 3 grapes, and 3 blackberries. That's a great meal, right?! Even when you include her recent growth, though, her overall weight curve still isn't making up much (if any) ground in relation to typical growth curves. I'm not talking about getting her from the 10th to the 50th percentile...I'm talking about still being several pounds below the 3rd percentile for her adjusted age.

It will be interesting to see how all of these tests come out. We'll see Dr. Moulton again in two months (supposedly - though they "don't have his schedule that far in advance" even though I booked our initial appointment four months in advance - weird, but now they will have to deal with me as a return patient if they try to put us off for another four months - and you know mama won't play that game!) and should get the results of the tests in the next little while. (I mean...not that I'll be calling every day until they tell me, not me...) We'll also see a nutritionist at our next appointment, and I think we'll also go ahead and see the nutritionist in the NICU follow-up clinic next month, too. John and I would still really like to avoid a feeding tube, but every mom that I've talked to who has made that decision for her child has been glad they did because it allows you to relax about their food and nutrition, etc. But still, she's collected enough scars in her sweet little life. And if we were going to get a feeding tube, it would have been nice to have gotten it when she was a baby and waking up at all hours of the night to eat. It kind of seems like we'd be backtracking to get one now when she's making improvements in her eating...but we'll do what we need to do. But seriously, please don't take a scalpel to this pretty belly!

p.s. In other news, we are doing the final walk-through on our house after the study tomorrow, and we close on Friday! Wow!

Monday, May 24, 2010

March for Babies 2010!

Finally, I know...

This year's March for Babies was a huge success, by all accounts! Overall, the Nashville walk was larger than ever, perhaps due to the amazingly gorgeous weather. It was sunny and in the low 70's...paradise. I couldn't even tell you who the celebrity guest was (did we have one?), and we didn't win the t-shirt contest (RIGGED! We were robbed! I mean, were the shirts TOO intelligent for them? C'mon. (Okay, got that out of my system...)), but we had a great time!

This year was a little different than last year:

We had more walkers than last year.

In addition to the 10 actual walkers pictured above, we had 4 more who came out to walk but had to leave due to, um, a little upchucking (so perhaps it was a huge success by her account) and 3 more cheerleaders (including great-aunt and -uncle Pammy and Jimmy!) who stopped by for the pre-walk festivities. It was a special group of walkers, too. Of course there was SuperDad, SuperMom and Itty Bitty:

And there was Grandma (who, once again, left us young 'uns in the dust):

And there was Tate and Martha, who taught me everything I know about childrearing (maybe) but nothing about small children:

And there was Aunts Lauren (who somehow escaped my lens) (and her cutie beau) and Ashley (on left) and feeding therapist extraordinairre Caroline (on right):

And there was Melissa, who worked with Becca in the NICU from the very beginning:

And, finally, there was the Kelley family (Jessica, Kate, and Matt):

Kate and Becca especially enjoyed playing in the shade after the walk. Isn't Kate adorable?:

And we even discovered a new food that Becca loves: pretzels. Watch out, Rold Gold! She calls them "tse tse" and will eat herself silly. Okay, not really, but relatively speaking, she will. Here she is enjoying her first pack:

We definitely weren't the largest team represented, but everyone there has touched us deeply over the past 2 years. Members of this team have supported us in this crazy phase of life, driven all the way out to Bethpage to babysit while I worked, conducted studies that could save the lives of thousands of other itty bitties, have saved Becca from having a feeding tube place (so far, at least - more on that later this week), and have generally just been good friends to us in a time when we could really use good friends. It was powerful being together with this group because every one of them really and truly loves my little girl. I mean, I can't blame them for that, but as a mom, I really, really appreciate it.

How else was this year different than last year?

We raised more money - from more donors - than last year!

I honestly did not think that we would raise more than the $1650 we raised in 2009. I mean, last year was our first year, it was more dramatic, yadda yadda. But this year, thanks in large part to stellar team members (Ashley, Lauren, and Jessica - y'all are awesome!) reaching out and raising their own funds, we have (so far) raised over $1700! Wow! That's $1700 that will go to researchers working to find life-saving treatments for various perinatal conditions, to families who need support during their child's NICU stay, and to communities who are in the greatest need of prenatal education and health support. That's $1700 that will make a tremendous difference in the lives of some very itty bitty people...and the big people who love them. Thanks to all of you who donated for loving our Itty Bitty enough to give on her behalf.

We had t-shirts, of course!

Did I mention that I can't believe we didn't win the t-shirt contest? 'Cause seriously, Dianne Vallier did a fabulous job, and I think our blue shirts (yep, I chickened out on the purple) looked darned good on everyone. Folks as far away as Kansas, Arkansas, Ohio, Kentucky (of course!), Georgia, Texas, and Virginia are sporting Itty Bitty Becca's Team t-shirts and getting the message out about the reality of premature birth and the work of the March of Dimes. How cool is that?! And how special for Becca to know that people all over the country (okay, in this case, the southeast) care enough about her to wear a shirt with her name on it! Wow! Again, y'all are amazing!

We had an after-party!

That's right! Baby Ansel (and his fabulous parents Ashley and Aaron) invited us all over to his backyard to enjoy some snacks, ice cream, and perhaps maybe a cold beer or two. It was a great chance for us to relax and bask in the post-walk glow...or sweat... Ansel couldn't be bothered by the ruckus, though:

(Ansel, by the way, at 12 WEEKS old, is bigger than Becca. What a man!)

But there was one other way this year's March for Babies was different than last year's:

It was fun.

Our first March for Babies was very emotional for me. It was almost a visible reflection of all the emotional turmoil of that first year: the chaos, the grief, the surprise, the excitement, he flood of support, the I-never-knew-123-days-would-feel-so-long-ness, the was all out in the open that day. It was an important day for me, but I'm not sure it was all that fun. I mean, I enjoyed it, but I was an emotional wreck. I still have issues (obviously - have you met me?), and I won't say that the event passed without sadness. I cried more than a couple of tears as I saw parents sporting their white bandannas in honor of the children they had lost, and when I approached the memorial flower garden while talking with my friend Mollie and even helped her find her sweet Aubrie's flower, I was jello. I came too close to losing my own precious little girl not to feel an echo of the pain reflected around me. But for the most part, it was a celebration of special kids like Becca, of their weary and hopeful families, and of the friends and family who love our kids, have witnessed and been a part of our journeys, and have walked with us every day. Thanks for being a part of Itty Bitty Becca's Team.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mama Bear Goes to Zumba

This afternoon I had to wake Becca up to take her to therapy, and (like her mother) she did NOT want to get up. It had taken her a while to fall asleep because she was still coughing like crazy when I put her down, so she really hadn't come close to finishing her nap. I waited until the very last minute (while I was on the phone with our pediatrician) and poked and prodded until Sleepy Beauty arose. She had crazy bedhead and super sleepy eyes, which was pretty adorable. Only after I had put her in her carseat (again, at the last minute and with the doc on the phone - really, when she is kind enough to ask, "Is this a good time?" perhaps I should think before responding) did I realize that the crazy bedhead was due to crusty puke all over her hair, neck, and shoulder. Ew. She had coughed so much that she threw up (which is not an unusual occurrence lately.) Of course, I was pushing it time-wise, so I decided just to change her into her spare outfit when we got to therapy. (We never leave home without a spare when travelling with a kid with reflux and a super-sensitive gag reflex!) Great, fine, not feeling like a stellar mom, but whatever. We hit the road and, 30 minutes later, got there right on time. Or so I thought.

I knew that we wouldn't see our regular feeding therapist, Caroline, because she is in Zambia for 5 weeks doing speech therapy with a mission team from her alma mater - wow! I thought that we had arranged to see another therapist at the same time slot, but, well, apparently we hadn't. I was told by the receptionist (not the regular one) that we didn't have an appointment and, actually, we only have one feeding session on the calendar - until we move. Um, no. This is not okay. Especially since once we do move, we will probably be sitting on the waiting list at Vandy's rehab center for at least several more weeks. And we're finally making progress with this eating thing! To have only one more session for the next few montha - n.o.t. o.k.a.y.

Enter SuperMom-turned-grumpy-(yet hopefully polite)-Mama Bear. I inform the pseudo-receptionist that, well, this is not okay. She tells me not to worry because they are getting more help in June and maybe they will schedule her for more sessions then. Maybe. But she's not on the schedule and other kids are scheduled in her time slots. So maybe not. I inform her that this is really not okay. We've been coming to therapy of one kind or another at this center for a year. We show up to appointments (albeit 10 minutes late), we cancel when we are sick to protect the other patients, we follow through with the work at home, and doggoneit, we raise a stink when necessary in order to get our kid the services she needs. (And by "we", of course, I mean me. John is far too polite for such behavior.) So I did. After a few minutes of this, another therapist (not pediatric) that had been present for the conversation pulled our substitute therapist (who is great, by the way) out of her session so that she could talk to me about it. Turns out she will see Becca on Fridays, but we won't have our Monday sessions for the rest of the month. Grrr. But okay. Would have like to have known that before, but whatever. When the temporary help comes in June, they are going to find two times a week that work for us for the 3 weeks that we are here. Okay, fine. But I can tell you the two times that work for us: Monday afternoons and Friday mornings, like we've been doing for 5 months now! (Realistically, we do have several other times that work, but obviously, those two times do work for us, even though they sometimes involve waking the princess from her slumber. How should they know they work for us? Because we've been coming at those times for over 20 weeks.)

Moral of the story? We are going to work out a definite schedule on Friday for the six weeks that we've got left. We've got a couple of Mondays off, one of which is Memorial Day, which we would miss anyway (since the office is closed). After that, we'll go back to two times a week. It will all be fine. But, wow, I was not happy because I a) woke up a throw-up-y daughter early from a nap; b) rushed to therapy, driving for 20 miles and 30 minutes; c) got there to find out we didn't have a session scheduled; d) was told that we would basically be discontinuing therapy unless somebody cancelled; e) was told there was nothing that could be done about it (i.e. the receptionist, who handles the calendar, couldn't schedule anything else); f) had to be pushy about the whole thing in public (seriously, I don't like doing this - I do it when I have to, but I don't enjoy it, hard as that may be for some of you to believe); and g) was only temporarily mollified in the end. But it is what it is, and I proud of Caroline for putting her life on hold to help folks in Zambia. And I guess a little more time on my hands isn't a bad thing.

At the moment, though, I was not happy with the time on my hands. I had to do something to make the trip (and the waking and the changing and the crying) worthwhile. I got to thinking. ("A dangerous pastime, I know." Name that movie!) Our therapy clinic is housed in the same building as the hospital's fitness facility. (I think that some of the PT patients actually use the equipment in their therapy.) I thought I'd ask if, by chance, the fitness center did a free trial pass or anything like that...and they do! I had actually already been dressed to work out because I was hoping to go to the park after therapy (unless the rain came, which it did). I happily paid my $2.50 to put Becca in the nursery for two hours (only kid in there!) and shelled out another dollar for a bottle of water. I was a little too excited about the prospect of having two hours child-free (remember, at this age, I'm still in her therapy sessions, so this was a surprise break), and I was really tempted to (what is it with the lists tonight?) a) spend the entire two hours watching t.v. in the locker room; b) jump into the hot tub fully clothed; c) sit in the steam room fully clothed (though, now that I think about it, I guess there are people who would sit in the steam room without, ahem, a bathing suit); or d) take a long, luxurious, and completely unnecessary shower (I showered right before leaving for therapy) without having to listen to a monitor or wonder if I had time to shave my legs before she woke up. Alas, I was a good girl and rode a bike for 25 minutes and then attended my first-ever Zumba class.

Those of you who know me personally are likely laughing out loud now. Just imagine these 200 pounds of fluffy and wholly uncoordinated white girl goodness attempting Latin dance moves in blue (Target) Umbros and a glaringly yellow t-shirt. I mean, earlier in the day I literally walked into the wall trying to get through an open and uncluttered doorway. Not even kidding. I think John is tempted to pull Becca's helmet back out simply because the chance that I will trip on my feet and drop her on her head is pretty high. Speaking of high, I think I am actually mistaken for being high or drunk half the time because I can't naturally walk in a straight line. Seriously. Uncoordinated.

Thankfully, this was a basic class, and in addition to the one other first-timer, there were a few women who must of been in their seventies, so I hung out with this crowd and attempted to mimic their jerky movements as best I could. Because I definitely was not going to be able to move my derrière the was our instructor was. Suffice it to say, I've never seen a toosh move like that. And certainly not mine. Not ever. But I had fun and definitely worked up a sweat!

When an employee came in the room 30 minutes into the class, I silently prayed that he was coming for me. My arms were about to fall off. I'm going to be in serious pain tomorrow. He was, in fact, coming to get me because apparently Becca was going ballistic in the childcare room. By the time I got down there, though, she was perfectly fine. Apparently the gal working in there just wasn't used to Becca's, um, insistent ways (i.e. it looks very odd and concerning when you see a baby-sized person throwing an advanced 2-year-old-sized fit). I think Becca had seen a stuffed Elmo on a high shelf and oh-so-politely (uh-huh, right) started screaming, "MoMo! MoMo! MoMo!" and signing more-please-yes-more-please-yes, which got translated as "I need my mommy right now." As I said, though, I was happy to oblige and exit the class and the center early and gracefully.

At least I did something gracefully today.

p.s. We stopped at Publix to pick up a sub (yum!) and a few BOGO's on the way home, and I think that I might go back there every day, just to get spoiled. Everyone working there asked if I needed help, and Becca drew a crowd at the check-out. The guys were fawning over her. After I insisted that I didn't need help out and stepped out into the rain, the cashier ran out with an umbrella since he "didn't realize it was raining, so please let me help you," which he did. Man, I love that place.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Easter Sunday

Becca and I started out exploring the goods left by the beloved Easter Bunny. I asked her/him (seriously, boy or girl?) to at least give a nod to the religious nature of the big day by going with the Noah's Ark Little People set. It's biblical, at least, right? One problem with it, though: all the animals that came with the set came in twosies, twosies - except the humans! That's right, there's Noah, but no "Noah's wife" (who is affectionately known as "Sally," thanks to the young Ashley Bienvenu's insistence that her character in the children's musical be given a name)! I've swiped the mom from the Little People Open and Close SUV set (another favorite) and placed her on the ark. Phew. For a minute there, I thought the human species had indeed been wiped out. Disaster averted. Anyway, B loved waking up to new toys, especially new Little People (appropriate, right?). Daddy was already at church (big day at work for him!), but I guess we'll have to get used to that or have a talk with the Easter Bunny about visiting later in the day.

Becca and I eventually made it to church ourselves (purposely late this time so as to avoid a fair amount of the germ-passing that goes on before the service), and Nana Dana, G-Diddy, and I have fun wrangling a busy girl whilst trying to pay attention to the sermon. It could have been distracting, but then again, what speaks more of God's promise of new life than a squealing little miracle in your lap? Afterwards, we came home to the parsonage and speed-cooked an Easter feast, pausing for some awkward family pictures. Turns out it's a challenge to get a nice family Easter picture with a tired and hungry toddler who just wants to get down and ruin her tights and dress by crawling in the wet grass. Oh well. I must have no shame, because here they are - they may show up on, but you saw them here first!

At least in the one with Nana Dana and G-Diddy, Becca was happy! Here we appear to be torturing her.

After dinner, I managed to capture some happy shots. You can kind of even see her Easter dress - a nearly new Gymboree fancy dress that I snagged for $4!

It was a great Easter for the Hill family! We especially appreciate the grandparents making the trek to be with us, as we are never able to travel for Holy Week or Easter. It's always special to be able to celebrate with family, so big thanks to ND and G-D for spending 2 days in the car just to spend 2 days with us! I hope all of you readers had a great holiday yourself and are still enjoying this Easter season! Alleluia!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Holy Saturday - the Secular Version

I'm finally getting around to catching up on some blogging while John entertains the munchkin. She and I are still a bit under the weather, but we've been checked out by the pros, who have decided that we have a nasty cold virus that we can expect to kick fully in 7-14 days. 7-14 days? Really? Who has time for this? We might just go back under house arrest because it's more fun than being sick. Okay, not really, but I do appreciate my efforts to keep us healthy these past two years even more now that we aren't very healthy. Next baby (still no news there), preemie or not, is staying somewhat isolated for at least a few months!

Let's reflect on more amusing Easter! I know it's been over a month, but I can't let an Easter dress the celebration of our Lord's resurrection sneak by without a blog post!

First, a liturgical lesson: Easter is a season. Easter Sunday is a day. The 40 days preceding Easter (not counting Sundays) is the season of Lent. The last week of Lent/the week immediately preceding Easter is Holy Week. It begins with Palm Sunday, and we Methodists typically celebrate Maundy Thursday, focusing on Jesus' last supper with his disciples and the institution of the Lord's Supper/Communion, and Good Friday, commemorating Christ's cruxifiction (yeah, not the most uplifting service, but a very important part of our faith nonetheless). Holy Saturday is the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. For the disciples, it was a day of grieving, of second-guessing, and of anxiety about how what it meant that their leader, their rabbi, their friend, who they thought would bring about the reign of God or at least the freedom of their people, had been brutally executed by the state.

For us, it's a day of Easter egg hunts.

Just for the record, I think that Easter egg hunts should be saved for sometime in the Easter season. An Easter egg hunt at the very tail end of Lent is jumping the gun, skating past the uncertainty of the day and into the fluffy goodness of marshmellow eggs. I wonder if that's a particularly American tradition; it would be typical of our collective tendancy towards instant (or at least hurried) gratification. Of course, I'm not really sure what hidden candy has to do with Easter anyway, but hey, I'm game. So jump the gun we did, and we had a great time doing it!

John's parents (aka Nana Dana and G-Diddy) wanted to get Becca an Easter present, so I suggested a membership to the Nashville Zoo, which we had to try out immediately, of course (see above: instant gratification). We joined the throngs (which turned out to be much bigger than my infection-conscious mind had anticipated!) for EggstravaganZOO 2010. After waiting out a rainy morning, we got there just in time for Becca's first Easter egg hunt. It was for kids 2 & under, but they kept announcing that the kids had to be old enough to retrieve the eggs on their own. I got really self-conscious about this, but refused to deny my daughter (and, okay, me) her shot at her first egg hunt, regardless of the looks I was sure I was getting from other parents questioning my decision to bring a baby onto the field. I wanted to wear a sign that said, "She's a toddler, she's just not toddling and she's tiny. And, by the way, she could kick your oaf of a kid's butt so stop judging me!" Apparently I still have issues. Who knew?

While they finished prepping the field (driving around on a golf cart, flinging plastic eggs everywhere), we got a visit from a very special friend...the Easter Bunny! Becca loved her (him? what gender is the Easter Bunny in your family?)! She wouldn't stop hugging her. I think the E.B. loved Becca, too, because she didn't seem to want to stop hugging her. It was adorable. See for yourself:

Finally it was time for the big event. Still wallowing in my issues, I was determined that Becca was going to walk onto the field:

Kids were scurrying out in front of and all around her, and I quickly realized that at this rate, she would never encounter an egg, let alone prove to the nosy masses who had nothing better to do that glare at the baby on the field and her pushy mother (because surely they weren't just enjoying the moment with their own kids) that she could, in fact, retrieve the eggs herself, as the voice from above (or the megaphone) had mandated. I got over myself, scooped her up, carried her further infield and plopped her down in a pile of eggs.

This approach worked much better, and she did, in fact, retrieve 5 and 1/2 eggs for herself, like a "real toddler." (Again, with the issues. I know.) Also like a "real toddler," she had more fun taking them out of the bucket and examining them than collecting more. (Wisely, the zoo left the eggs empty and handed out a standard goody bag when you returned your eggs. If she had been able to open it up and discover something actually inside the egg, it would have been all over after the first one. We're a fan of crinkly plastic things these days.)

Once she and I got over the gymnastics of it all (physical for her, emotional for me), we had a great time. It seems that every first with her is still quite an emotional moment for me. Her first Easter egg hunt! Sure, she didn't look or act like all the other kids, but she did it, and I got to share it with her! Now that I think about it, it would have been almost exactly two years before that egg hunt that I had been told that she would never make it, and there she was gathering 5 1/2 eggs in her Easter bucket! What a girl - and what a happy mama!

After we fought the crowds for an overpriced (but surprisingly tasty) zoo lunch, we made the rounds and checked out the animals. I might or might not have spent most of my time searching for the golden eggs they (supposedly) had hidden around the zoo (never did find one!), but Becca loved the meerkats (so cute with popping out of the holes and disappearing again!) and tried to jump into the koi pond. The big kids in our group loved the red pandas and the clouded leopards. For a zoo that is only 13 years old, the Nashville Zoo is pretty fabulous! It's just the right size for families with young kids, and they still have plenty of room to grow. In fact, they are soon opening two new exhibits: flamingos (fun!) and tapirs (seen recently with Jack Hanna on Letterman!). If you are local, I highly recommend a family membership! We've already gone back once (with a professional photo shoot, but that's another story!), so we've almost made up the purchase price (er...Nana Dana and G-Diddy's purchase price, that is). Grandparents, it's a great gift! (You can check out purchase options here.)

After the zoo, we re-introduced the family to another (relatively new) Nashville tradition: Las Paletas. Yum! Becca was even bold enough to try a few bites, which was great feeding therapy. Perhaps once we are closer to town we should engage in more frequent feeding therapy. Becca particularly loved hanging out in the backpack and dripping popsicle on daddy's neck. She loves being tall in the backpack! (By the way, I got the backpack at a consignment sale for $12. Suh-weet!)

I can't say that we spent Holy Saturday reflecting on Christ's sacrifice and renewing our commitment to his service, but we did have a darn good time and enjoyed being with each other, and I think he'd kind of like that.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Speaking of being swamped...

You may be wondering if we Itty Bitty Hills are still afloat after the massive floods that hit Middle Tennessee this week. Though there is lots and lots of damage in the area and 21 people lost their lives, we are doing okay. We were in D.C. visiting friends (adorable pictures to follow), so we missed all the excitement, which was good and bad. It was nice to not have to evacuate with a young child, but it was difficult to be away, wondering about our house(s) and the well-being of our parishioners and community. Talk about being helpless! I'm not sure what we could have done for folks if we were here, but we sure felt helpless 600 miles away!

Bethpage (and the rest of Sumner County) saw some serious damage. Our road was closed and evacuated. The post office (4 doors down) had several feet of water in it (though I don't have this confirmed - that's the word on the street). Church members 2 doors down from us sustained significant damage. The parsonage lot is bordered by the creek on 2 sides, and apparently water came up to the house but not into it. The HVAC unit was drowned, so we are without air conditioning at the moment. (Luckily, it is expected to be cool for the next few days.) The pups are fine, thanks to a rescue by a fabulous church family.

Williamson County (where I grew up and where we're moving) was also hard-hit. Franklin and Brentwood were underwater. Spring Hill didn't get hit as hard, and our house inspection this week showed water in the crawl space of the new house (which is to be expected after 13+ inches of rain) but no water damage. (By the way, the rest of the inspection was fine, too - a few minor things that they are going to fix.)

Nashville proper, of course, was soaked. Downtown was a mess. Country Music Hall of Fame: flooded. New symphony hall: flooded (with a loss of lots of instruments, including several grand pianos). LP field (where the Titans play): flooded up to the first row of seats. Opryland Hotel: flooded so badly that it may not reopen until Christmas. Vanderbilt Children's Hospital: flooded. The hospital flooded. Wow. A trailer being used as a classroom floated down I-24. Crazy. So while we fared well as a family, please remember the many, many, many folks in Middle Tennessee affected by this disaster. This mess will be with us for a long time, physically and psychologically.

Check out this video for images of the flood. I can't vouch for the text, but I think the pictures speak for themselves. Look for the ones with signs for Saundersville Rd. and Hendersonville - that's where we go for therapy.