Friday, January 23, 2015

Orthotic-Free Follow Up #1

It's pretty much a rule that I become rather introspective whenever we are at Shriner's for Jackson's scoliosis.  On our most recent trip (this week), that was particularly true.  I look around the lobby and the hallways, and (just being honest) I think about how unfair life is that children are born without legs or bound to a wheelchair for their entire lives.  I also tap into the deepest well of thankfulness within me.  Being completely candid with you, it's easy to get complacent.  It's easy to take healing for granted as time passes beyond the "good news."  Honestly, our journey with Progressive Infantile Scoliosis was grueling and long - but it had a really (so far) happy ending.  It had a rare ending.  Jackson is in the stark minority of 100% cured babies.  I know that we are eternally blessed by God that Jackson's spine is straight and that he has been orthotic-free since September 2014.  Many, many of our scoliosis friends are not in this fortunate place, and my heart aches for them when I am reminded so plainly of this reality at Shriner's. 

On Wednesday of this week, Jackson has his first follow-up since going brace-free in September.  Gone are my days of intense anxiety with physical symptoms (casting days at Shriner's Philly).  Gone are my days of weepy worry (casting days at Shriner's Greenville).  Gone are my days of quick-and-easy brace checks and adjustments.  We are in the season of maintenance.  This is an important season, and one that could always become a game changer.  Jackson's doctor is supremely (but never 100%) confident that Jackson's scoliosis is unlikely to return, but that will never (until age 21) be certain.  This appointment became a reality check for Justin and I.  It was a reminder that nobody's health is guaranteed and an overflowing of new gratefulness and praise.  It was further proof in the power of prayer.

Shriner's Greenville has a new x-ray machine that uses super low levels of radiation.  The caveat is that the child must remain PERFECTLY (almost impossibly) still for about 5-7 seconds.  Before this appointment, Jackson has been afraid to enter this capsule-like machine.  In a moment of bravery (and hoping for a trip to ToysRUs), he chose to give it a try.

The x-ray image from this machine is composed of tons of tiny crosssection images that populate on a screen.  As I was standing behind the radiation barrier and watching this image appear, I could hear Jackson's nurse saying "don't wiggle buddy, don't wiggle."  My heart sank when I saw the x-ray appear on the screen with (just guessing) about a 12-15 degree scoliotic curve.  However, Jackson's arms/shoulders were leaning in the film as well.  I asked the nurse if we could redo Jackson's x-ray in the traditional machine that he is used to (instantaneous image capture).  She agreed to do this because of his motion during the first x-ray.

And praise the Lord, this x-ray looked 1,000,000 times better!  Still, I was on pins and needles waiting to see Dr. Pete, not knowing how he would read these results.  We sat and waited for awhile, the whole time I found myself repeating scripture in my head.  For those of you who were praying for us from afar, you are so very much appreciated!  I truly, truly felt those prayers during this visit.  Listing to a mother and father sob two rooms down from us, I was also reminded of how quickly life can change.  We have to choose joy. 

My eyes filled with tears when Dr. Pete entered our room and without hesitation said "He looks perfect, just as I expected!"  When I questioned him about the "bad" x-ray, he said the technicians didn't even send it through the computer system (probably due to poor quality from Jackson moving).    Dr. Pete reassured us that he expects Jackson to continue to grow straight because (although not guaranteed) the odds are in his favor.  Again, he also referred to prayer which I love.  Dr. Pete is an incredible physician!  He asked us to return in 4 months for another follow-up.

Truth: I am still a little uneasy.  My head wants to 100% believe that the "bad" x-ray as a result of only Jackson's movement.  Facts tell me that the second x-ray looked perfect.  Reality is that Jackson's skilled orthopedic surgeon read the x-ray as ZERO degrees.  But, I'm a mom.  And, I'm a worrier.  I am glad that we return to Shriner's in 4 months for a follow-up x-ray.  My heart has trouble seeing a 12-15 degree curve - even momentarily, and even if it was an incorrect representation.  However, I still choose joy. 

Joy came easy in Greenville South Carolina's 70 degree January!  On a day that could have turned out SO differently, my family and I were able to enjoy the downtown Riverwalk together and to soak up the beautiful, warm sunshine.

And that evening we even enjoyed a nice "manager's reception" at our hotel.  Note:  the kids are drinking lemonade!

It was a much needed evening of relaxation.

We ended our trip (on the drive home) with a stop by Justin's Mammaw's house to celebrate a late Christmas with family.  And most importantly, to celebrate God's continual healing of Jackson's spine.


Friday, January 9, 2015

My Louis Vuitton

Well, here she is:  my little vintage Louis Vuitton bag, a Speedy 25.

Kudos to the vendor for selling me a bag with REALLY excellent "bones."  She arrived in far better condition than I had even imagined she would ~ and the "restoration" process was little more than cleaning the monogram canvas, conditioning the leather, and polishing the brass.  For an older, used handbag, this LV even had a very nice deep honey patina {no yucky, black oil from years of being mistreated}.  I cannot complain!  {then again, who would complain about a Louis Vuitton bag in their grasp for approximately 18% of the price of a new Speedy 25 ?!?}

For those of you who appreciate this sort of thing, I took some photographs of the miniature restoration process so you can see the classic beauty of my new handbag ~ one which with never go out of style!  I am just SO excited!


This is what I mean by excellent "bones."  This is her directly out of the parcel box.

And here as well - prior to any cleaning.

But here's that same brass fastener after some Wright's brass polish.

Nothing that a little elbow grease and some awesome cleaners can't handle.  After doing some research, I ordered this 100% natural cleanser from Green Wyre that has proven safe for Louis Vuitton handbags and has been featured on several other fashion blogs.

I used Apple leather conditioner for the vachetta.

And buffed with a make-up sponge.

And now what you've been waiting for ... some "after" photos of my girl {alright, I know the lingo is ridiculous}.


In today's mail came my Louis Vuitton padlock to complete the ensemble!  I got VERY lucky with my #300 padlock as well.  It had NO scratches and only moderate tarnishing.  Again, with my Wright's brass polish, it looks BRAND NEW!  Boy!  Take a look at these "before" and "after" images of the LV padlock!



And the final look is QUITE a "Voila"!
And a "Ta Da"!
I am so impressed!

This final product.
Watch out Rodeo Drive ... here I come!
{I wish}

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Memory Jar

Last January we started a family tradition {which mostly I do} of writing down the tiniest moments and memories throughout the year on little strips of paper and depositing them into a large, vintage, glass mason jar in our living room.  On New Years day, we sit down together and read through favorite glimpses of the previous year.  This year was so special.  There were tender moments like Jackson kissing my nose each time he rode to the bottom of his indoor "roller coaster."  There were funny moments like my placing my bottle of wine "rear facing" in an empty carseat after a LONG day with the kids {safety first!}.  And there was just a lot of goodness:  sweet conversations, silence during a big snowfall, cute words the kids said in funny ways.  We emptied out our big jar a few days ago, and today it stood empty waiting for its first deposit of 2015.  Well, it's getting one tonight.  Hopefully next January it will seem much more funny than it did today.


Yesterday, Oliver transitioned to his "big boy" toddler bed by default.  It was certainly NOT by Justin or my choice, but for safety reasons as he suddenly learned to climb out of his crib despite his mattress being all the way on the floor.  We celebrated with him {despite our apprehension} and took the mandatory "big boy bed" photographs.  He was pretty proud of himself.

Last night he slept fantastically in his bed.  Naturally, we had the same pep talk today at nap time, and I {mistakenly} trusted he would rest well.  About 20 minutes after nap began, Jackson announced to me: "Oliver pooped and it's everywhere."  This was only partially true.  Oliver had pooped, taken off his clothes, and {I guess?} reached into the back of his diaper and smeared poop on his legs and belly.  He was still standing inside of his bedroom, and I didn't know exactly what or why this had happened.  So, I cleaned him up, repeated my pep talk, and ventured back downstairs.  Mere child's play in a mom's day. 

Fast forward another 20 minutes and Jackson announced to me "Oliver has the white butt stuff and it's everywhere."  So, I bounded up the stairs where I found this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

:back out of the room:
:walk downstairs:
:scream again:
:retrieve cell phone:
:return to child:

I've been a mommy for 4.5 years now ~ and today took the cake.  Does anyone out there know how HARD it is to clean Desitin, Vaseline, A&D ointment, and baby powder out of EVERYTHING?!?  First clue:  most of them are intended to be moisture barriers and soap/water do NOT cut through them.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.

Next came some big discipline {please note that he was laughing and thought this whole action was a giant, funny game}.  Mommy did not.  Game over.

Then came a lot of this:

{those REALLY shiny feet?  that's vaseline.  covering them.  think oil spill.}

Because these precious items left for the entire rest of the day:

And someone realized that he had to be wiped clean {perhaps scrubbed is a better word} ... and then he had to HELP clean:

So then there was more of this:

I sincerely think the only thing that didn't happen during nap time today was actual napping.  Oliver didn't sleep.  I didn't relax.  No one got anything productive done at all.  Actually, I am still washing the rocking chair cushions because the ointments refused to come off the upholstery whatsoever.  I'm washing them individually - because they are huge.  I'm washing them each twice - because I have to.  

But, we have something for our memory jar!

Only a few hours after today's catastrophe, the photographs already make me laugh {though I dare never let Oliver see this!}.  Perhaps today's catastrophe with be tomorrow's belly laugh?  It's January 7th, and something tells me we are not going to have a boring 2015! 


Mamas out there:  what mess "takes to cake" in your life?  Tell me I'm not alone!  Comment below!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

A Year In Review, 2014

Now, in with 2015.
Happy New Year, everyone!

Christmas Eve, Santa's Cookies, and Christmas Morning 2014

The title of this post says it all!  Below are the photographs from our family's 2014 Christmas!

We had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner with family at Red Lobster.  The highlight?  Shirley Temple drinks with extra cherries for Jackson, Oliver, and Mommy!

Dear Santa, we hope you enjoy your cookies and milk!

Santa came!!!
Merry Christmas to all ...

And to all a good night ...