Thursday, January 31, 2013

Over the river and through the woods,to hospital we go!

As you read this, Nate and I are probably sitting in our hospital room, living the high life.  We tried to avoid taking this route, and our doctor was in total agreement, but, unfortunately, there is just no outpatient service available here to give any kind of support or aid for our type of situation..  When we went through this in Wisconsin with Jack, there were home health groups that came to us to check on the feeding tube and his progress in general.  Here we can't even get one of those tiny tubes that you slip in their mouths while you're nursing in order to sneakily increase their calorie intake.  All of that is done on an inpatient basis. 

So we are packing up and heading on over.  It seems kind of silly to us to do this at this point - he doesn't seem quite sick enough for this level of care.  I mean, he's so smiley!  But he is not progressing at home and this is the only way that we can move forward in his treatment, since nothing is offered outside of a hospital stay, and do we really want to wait for him to be in a dire situation before we take care of this?

Of course not.  So here we are.  Please keep us in your prayers as we go through this.  Again.  I am going to be in the hospital with Nate, of course, and my mom is staying with the other two.  Handsome Hero is split among work, the hospital, and home {just so you know, I asked him to keep going to work since there is nothing he could do in the hospital and Nate isn't in any sort of critical situation}.  We're in good spirits overall, but the strain is there and rears its ugly head at times in my reactions {or, overreactions} to the older wonderkids and their 3 and 5-year-oldness.  I have had to apologize many times for my tone of voice {sometimes harsh, sometimes even yelling}.  I am very blessed by their incredible ability to forgive and totally forget, and then still want to spend time with me.  It is something I really need to learn.

I'll update here as new information comes in.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Thank you all for your continued prayers as we go through this strange journey again.  Nate has continued to lose weight, and while it gets discouraging, we're hopeful to avoid the extreme of Jack's situation by staying in front of it.

Nate is not interested in a bottle or sippie cup at this point, but I'm still trying.  Solid food is a battle, but he might be coming around somewhat.  He doesn't open his mouth for the food, but he seems to be more accepting of it than he was.  At least he's not screaming the whole time anymore....

I'm nursing about eight times a day, and then trying to feed him solids.  Basically, that's all that's getting done around our 'stead.  And that's okay.

Since I know many of you are praying, here are some specifics.  Please pray:

- that I'll be able to think logically through the everyday stuff - not blowing normal issues like a spilled juice cup or a potty accident into catastrophic proportions.

- that I'll have energy to do the everyday chores and jobs that make our home more peaceful.  I know it's okay to let some things go, and I am - if you knew the projects that I'm letting go for now...really exciting stuff...{insert very dramatic sigh here}, but I don't want to let the house "go."  It will just make for a chaotic and unrestful place that I want to escape.

- that I will trust in the Lord and accept this as His will.  I do really well at times, usually when I'm talking to someone, and then when I'm by myself I break down in tears several times a day.

James 1 says to consider it joy when we encounter various trials.  Not that we are just happy as clams to be struggling, but that we recognize the ultimate aim which is "...endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." 

So let me tell you some of the things in which I find joy right now.

1.  My baby is so very happy.  We would have a much harder time going through this if he were fussy or uncomfortable.

2.  My other kids are doing really well.  They are getting along and loving each other and trying to help.

3.  Jack is potty trained and that's one less thing we have to think about.  On top of that, he potty trained almost painlessly.  It. was. amazing.

4.  We are living near my parents, who are very willing to help in any way they can.  Last week, Handsome Hero was out of town {thankfully a rare thing in this new job} and we just packed up some stuff and went on down for the week.  It was so incredible to be able to do that.

5.  Handsome Hero isn't traveling anymore!  Outside of last week, it will be almost never that he has to leave, and that is invaluable right now.  He was out of town when Jack went into the hospital and had to fly in.

6.  We've been through this before.  We have Jack's wonderful girth to gaze upon lovingly.  Those thunder thighs give me hope.

7.  We've found a church, and already people have been calling and emailing and coming up to us and asking to help.  Sometimes, just knowing that there is someone you could call is all you need.

8.  We  have found a doctor who, though he may not have seen it personally, has at least heard of this happening and isn't totally flummoxed.

9.  I am getting my hair cut tomorrow.  That is an outing.  An outing by myself.  An outing in which I will be pampered for a few minutes.  By myself.  Without children.  Alone.

10.  I have an amazing support in my husband.  He, who incidentally brought me flowers this weekend :}, has been incredibly understanding and protective of me.  He has taken on more of the housework without complaint or even waiting to be asked.  He has made it his goal to make my burden lighter.

11.  I am learning to trust the Lord more.  I know that He loves Nate more than I ever could, and that He has a great purpose, even if I don't understand it.

I could keep going, but I think you get the picture.  We aren't wallowing over here.  We are joyful!  We still laugh a lot.  God is on His throne, my friends, and that is great news!  I cry a lot, too, in frustration, defeat, or self-pity, and sometimes all three, but the bottom line is still the same.  Whether I'm finding joy or grumbling and complaining, He is still the loving Father who cares for my little family better than I can.  Who loves perfectly and shows great compassion.

And so we find joy. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Built-ins? Yes, please.

When we walked into this house, the first thing that struck us was the nine-foot ceilings.  But as we entered the living room, this beauty had us at hello.


It didn't look exactly like this at the time.  It was more like this.

As the painters worked, I kept waiting for the big day when the bookcase would get painted.  It was hard to be patient.
They did everything else in the house first.  The bookcase was the very last thing.
Once it was painted, we wasted no time in painting the back of the shelves in the wall color.  There needed to be some color other than white because so many of the things I planned on putting in here were also white and would get lost.  I thought about doing a different, coordinating color, but decided in the end that the continuity of using the wall color was the best choice. 
Oh, and by the way, these bookcases are five feet, six inches tall.  I know this because I had to stand inside them to paint them.  And I am five feet, eight inches tall. 
Now it was time for----more waiting.  I was very proud of myself.  I waited for over two weeks before putting the shelves and doors back on so that they had time to fully cure.  Nothing like moving a book off of the shelf and having paint stick to it.
I had so much fun putting the shelves together.  I would do one shelf, back away, observe.  Then I would change it all.  Apparently this is my idea of a good time.  Oh, I would love to go to that concert.  It sounds lovely.  Unfortunately, I have a date with my bookcase.
Each shelf is filled with things we already had.  There are pictures, sculptures my sister made, books, baseballs from Handsome Hero's younger days, figurines Handsome Hero and I gave each other when we had Ella and Jack {I got a necklace with Nate}.
Pottery by my friend, April of Eden Pottery, scripts from plays I was either in or directed, the rotary phone from my granddad's house.  All personal, meaningful stuff.
I am very excited with how it turned out!
Hobby Lobby had these awesome glass knobs to replace the painted wood ones from before.  Some of their stuff is flimsy, but these seemed very heavy and sturdy.  Hopefully they'll stand up to the use they'll get.
I love how the light reflects through them.  They are a really cool, blingy echo to the new dining room chandelier {pictures coming}.
All in all, a far cry from this:
To this:
I'm sure I will change out the shelves a lot as time goes by, but I'm calling this one done. 
p.s.  The TV is no longer up here.  It has found a new home downstairs.  The center cabinet is empty for now, but probably we'll get one of those new-fangled flat screen numbers one of these years.  Maybe.  When they're out of style.  Because that is when we tend to update our electronics.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Feeling a little BLUE?

We've been working really hard on our house and I'm excited to show you some of the results.  Of course, everything is in a "progress" phase, but it's encouraging to look at how far we've come in such a short time  The difference in the feeling and vibe of the house can be attributed to one main thing, my friends.  Paint.  It makes all the difference.  Paint breathes life into a tired room.   

We hired painters for the trim and to take down the wallpaper. While we love to do projects ourselves, we have begun to recognize the wisdom of occasionally hiring out a task, even if we can do it, if it saves us headaches, time, and frustration. After this experience, we are leaning heavily toward hiring these guys again when we are ready to paint the kitchen cabinets. Sometimes it's just worth it.
What we started with
We have painted nearly all of the main living areas upstairs. Once the wallpaper was removed and the walls were patched and prepped, we worked into the wee hours several nights in a row to paint the walls before the painters got to the trim. That way, the onus was on the painters to have clean lines and make it look perfect.  Clever, eh?
Walls painted, some of the trim done
The color of the living room is called Watery by Sherwin Williams.  It's very similar, just a little bit grayer, than our kitchen color in the last house. 
That color was Behr's Clear Pond.  You can find the Sherwin Williams one here and the Behr one here if you're interested.
When we first painted the room, which we didn't start until after dark, I was positive I'd made a mistake.  It was too bright, and not the calm yet vibrant color I had loved in my kitchen of yore.  Yet in every picture I took, the color showed as what I wanted it to be.  See how calm it looks here?  The color grew on me as more and more of the trim was finished in a nice bright white.  Now I love it and can't imagine doing anything else.
Trim done, french doors not finished, mini blinds still up.

After the main areas of the house were complete, we took a break from painting.  I was raring to go, wanting to complete the entire house before Nate started crawling, but Handsome Hero had a much wiser plan.  Instead of spending lots of money to get all the paint at once and feeling a huge pressure to push through to the point of neglecting other important things, like, I don't know, kids, we are going to tackle one room a month.  That way other projects can get done at the same time and we aren't breaking the bank over paint.  It also means I don't have to know my colors yet and can really think and plan what I want to do for the next month and make more thoughtful choices.

Done.  Now what to do over the fireplace?

Wise man, my husband. You'd think he knew me or something.

Once we were set on removing the wallpaper, I originally thought of going really neutral in the living room because the entry, hall, dining room, and kitchen all look onto it. Gray was an option, but I want charcoal sofas and sometimes when you put a piece of gray furniture against gray walls, unwelcome undertones peep through. It can turn purple or blue or pink when it hadn't looked that way before. So then I thought of going beige. Sounds boring, I know, but I was going to have lots of color in the accessories, so I thought it would be really pretty.
Nice, but the balance seems off.
Handsome Hero said, "You won't like it. You'll never be happy with it."
My sister said,"You'll hate it. You need color."
My mom said, "You''ll regret it. You aren't a beige person."
My dad said, "Do whatever you want, honey. But your mom is right."
Much better.  For now.... :)
I figured that there was wisdom in a multitude of counselors.  I mean, that many people who know and love me couldn't be wrong.

And they weren't.  I'm so happy with the vibrant yet calm and sophisticated color.  It makes me very happy each morning to walk into that room and every other color, from the kitchen to the dining room, entry to the hall, works with it.  I'll show you those very soon.
Update on our little Nater Gater:  Nate has continued to lose weight, regardless of the extra feedings.  We are starting him on solids today {avocados, for higher calories}.  Please pray that he will eat them and really "take" to solids.  If not, we're probably heading toward a feeding tube.  We are encouraged by his sweet smiley attitude and continued interaction.  He's not lethargic at all and you wouldn't know there was a problem except for his lack of interest in moving around and playing with toys.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The House from 1986

Thank you for your prayers for our little guy.  He still won't take a bottle, but he is willing to nurse more often, so his calorie intake is higher.  We are in a holding pattern until we see some results from these increased feedings, and will form a plan based on those results.  Please pray for understanding for the other kiddos and for energy and perseverance for me.  I'm nursing every 2-3 hours as if he were a newborn, and the little vampire is sapping my energy. But he's so cute when he's doing it....

In the meantime, I have been chomping at the bit to show you our new house!  I can't believe we've been here for two months! It seems like forever and yesterday all at once. I realize that I haven't shown a single picture of this house from the inside {well, there was one from the listing that I copied for this post}, so today will be a total photo dump.

Just to impress you with our progress, I'm taking you on a tour of the house as it looked when we moved into it.  If you remember {don't worry - I don't expect you to, but I alluded to it in the post link above} we were thinking we would keep the blue grasscloth wallpaper in the livingroom, but closer inspection revealed that it was dingy, dirty, and the strings were coming undone in places.  So, off it came.  We hired someone to take all the wallpaper down and paint the trim.  It was just too ridiculous to try to do it ourselves.  I estimate that it would have taken us two years to completely paint the trim in our current circumstances.  Handsome Hero says four years.

We'll start our tour in the entry - very dark, but I think you can tell that the wallpaper has already been removed.  I love that there is a real entry, not just entering into a room, and I really like the cloudy glass on the side windows.  We have privacy, but don't lose the natural light.  In our last house, the side windows were clear, and anyone could look right in.  It's kind of hard to ignore a door-to-door salesman if they can see you through the window.  Another thing I love?  TWO coat closets!

If you were standing in the same place the shot above was taken and you swiveled to your left, you would see our dining room.  Again, the photo is dark, but that is going to be a problem in several areas because of all the natural light.  I'll work on trying to figure out how to change the settings and all, but for now, this is what I have.  Notice the tan trim, the country rustic chandelier, the wallpaper, the cheap curtain rod.  You probably can't tell, but there are tan metal mini blinds on the window.  Those puppies were on every.single.window.   
Again, moving to the left, the kitchen.  Plusses:  huge, with a nine foot long island, big pantry, more cabinets than I can fill, a three basin sink, instant hot water faucet,  a six burner range, and double wall ovens.  Minuses:  poorly and inconveniently laid out, electric range that takes forever to heat up, non-adjustable cabinet shelves that majorly hinder where I can place things, cabinets with the finish coming off, an island with room for only two stools, and sinks that are really shallow. 
Oh but we have plans!  We have a kitchen fund.  Painting cabinets and adding mouldings to them, making them adjustable, switching to gas, replacing the counters with granite and extending the island {yep, you heard that right} in order to have more seating, putting in a new sink.  We will be saving for awhile. 
This is a close up of the wallpaper in the kitchen.  The door goes to the garage.
 If you keep turning left from the above picture, you see the eat-in kitchen area.  We decided to put the piano here instead and use the island and the dining room for meals.  Again, wallpaper, yucky trim colors, mini blinds, and very rustic chandelier.
Moving on to the left, the living room.  We are moving these couches to the family room in the basement as soon as we can replace them.  We sold our old leather couches in Wisconsin and need the seating.  I am thinking two {maybe tufted} charcoal gray sofas of equal length on either side of the fireplace.  Mmmmmm.... 
And this beauty is a big reason for our excitement over the house.  We have planned built-in cabinets in each of our former houses, and have never done them, so to already have them done was very exciting!
And here we're looking back at the kitchen to the far left, the dining room on the other side of the wall with the picture, and the entry straight ahead.  To the right of the entry {and to the left of the bookcases} is the hall to the master and guestroom, as well as the stairs to the basement.
The hallway in all of its wallpaper glory.  Straight ahead is the master, to the left are the stairs, further is the guest room, and to the right is the master and hall bath {currently a shared space - yuck!}.
This is the guest room.  Nate is in here for now, but he'll be sharing a room with Jack when he's a bit older.  This room had not just wallpaper, but a border!  It also has that awesome built-in that I'm using for craft storage.
This is the Master.  BORING!  Notice the hunter green curtain rod and the beautiful metal mini blinds.  The door in front of you goes out to the sunroom, which is really nice.
Before we head out there, check out our Master bathroom!  It's huge, 11x15, but most of it is taken up by this jacuzzi tub that I'm sure was state of the art in 1986.  We have lots of plans for this space, but the kitchen comes first.  Unless I'm walking into Home Depot and Bath Crashers happens to be there.  I keep hoping.... 
Back out to the sunroom.  I love this room.  It's beautiful, large and inviting, and the windows!  Ooooh, I have plans for this room!  I keep saying that, don't I?
From the other side.  That far door is to our room, and the closer door is one of the french doors to the living room.
Back into the main house and down the stairs to the basement family room.
I haven't measured this room, but it's enormous.  It's living area, office, school, and play room all in one with room to spare.  Talk about a great hang out for the kids as they grow!  Can't you see the slumber parties?  Plus, it has two large windows and a french door walkout to the patio so it doesn't feel like a basement. 
I love this house.
The school area.  I am planning to paint the wall to the right in chalkboard paint.  The door leads out into the workshop.
Another view of the space.  The office is on the right wall, and the living area is to the left.  I'm standing in  the school area. 
This is the downstairs bathroom.  It's horrible.  The worst wallpaper in the house.  It makes me extremely dizzy and I just want to leave.  Oh, and that's Steve.  He's the contractor we hired to take down the wallpaper and paint the trim.  Best.decision.ever.
I forgot to take any pictures of the kids' rooms, but here they are in their current glory.  All that's changed is pictures on the wall and white trim.  The lighting is horrible and they need paint like I need to breathe.  Ella wants to paint her room red {not happening} or pink {not my fav, but I will compromise - I keep trying to convince her that what she really wants is a very light yellow - no dice so far}. 
Jack wants blue. Jack would like to actually be blue, I think. A blue Buzz Lightyear. A blue Buzz Lightyear who drives a fire truck to nativity and beyond.
And there you have it.  If you made it all the way to the end of this, you're either a really good friend, a glutton for punishment, or my mom.  Hi, Mom!  I am really excited to show you over the next few posts what we've changed so far.  Of course, there is a ton to do, and probably always will be, but I don't mind that.  I love a good project.  As I look at these pictures, I can see that we've accomplished a lot in spite of all of the setbacks.  That's really encouraging right now.

Monday, January 14, 2013

My Child

My energy is waning.  All I want to do is snooze.
I would like if I could take a nap, or daydream, or muse
about that time I had the strength to paint a whole room in one day,
while potty-training, cooking meals, basically making hay
while the sun was shining on my work {that was actually getting done}.
It's a downer looking at what I'm completing now.  Um....none
of the things that were so crucial are even on my list
of things to check off.  What's important now is to persist
in this giving of myself to help my baby who needs me
more than the curtains that need hanging or the laundry to be cleaned.
It's my pride that wants a perfect looking home where all is sparkly,
and shimmery, and new, and kind of glowing when it's darkly.
But those things become so distant when you're deep inside the trenches,
and fighting for the health of your boy who's throwing wrenches
in your plan to have your house worth showing off, worth bragging over.
It's humbling to see you've been so shallow, grumbling over
things that, while not wrong to work toward, are nowhere near important.
It's the things above this world with which I need to be accordant.
Thank you, Father, for this blessed child you've loaned to me.
I'll do my best to be the mom that You want me to be.
I'll make my home the kind of place where You would want to dwell.
For one day I want You to say, "My child, you've done well."

Update on Nate:  He's not taking a bottle, but is getting an extra two feedings a day through nursing and they seem to be helping.  He's been sick, along with the rest of the family, for a couple of days, so progress isn't likely until he's better.  We're keeping an eye on his weight, and so far, we're cautiously optimistic, meaning, he hasn't continued to lose even though he's sick.  We are hoping through these extra feedings to inspire him to want to eat, and so avoid a hospital stay, but I'll keep updating as we have news. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

All over again

 Yet again, I thought that I would be writing today to tell you about our house and show lots of pictures {I'm still having issues with Blogger, but I have found backdoor where I can load pictures}.  However, there is important stuff goin' on up in the Lewis house and I am going to tell you about that.

Some of you might remember this post from a while ago where I told about Jack's medical scare. 

Well, apparently history does repeat itself.

Nate has begun to lose weight and muscle tone.  I noticed over Christmas when he was with his cousin, Elijah, that Elijah was doing so much more at two months younger. 

We have always been sensitive to Nate because of our experience with Jack, but because it seemed that he was eating well and because he was my smallest baby at birth, I just thought he was going to be smaller.  I hadn't been concerned about him because, unlike Jack when he was sick, Nate is very social.  His eyes are bright, he laughs, loves to be tickled, talks a lot, and just generally interacts.  Still, something wasn't right.  Elijah was playing with toys, kicking his feet, trying to stand and sit.  Nate wasn't doing any of those things.

So ever since, we've been paying close attention.  When we put him on the playmat, he doesn't play with the toys.  When we put him on his tummy, he just lays his head down and ends up falling asleep.  He would be totally content to lay on me and snuggle for the entire day, never trying to sit or really look around. 

We took him to the doctor yesterday {after an entire day spent trying to find a doctor in our area who is taking new patients [!!]}.  Sure enough, something's up.  He's dropped about a pound and his muscletone has decreased.  In the doctor's words, "Something is definitely wrong here."
So how does one family have two infant boys who seem happy as clams but are actually starving?  Who never really cry and seem like perfect, totally content children, but who aren't getting enough calories in them to allow them to grow? 

The doctor thinks it's genetic.  So did the doctors who cared for Jack, but they didn't find anything.  When I asked about that, he said that there are 30,000 genes in the body, so an anomaly would be difficult to find when there is nothing telling in their faces {most genetic issues show up in large or minute ways in the face - think Downs}.  He said that because this is a very rare problem, a genetic correlation seems most likely, but that doesn't really help us solve the issue.

So, where does that leave us?  Better than you might think.  This is the devil we know, if you will.  We have fought this before and this is our first little starving waif now.

We're having blood and urine tests done, and I'm trying to supplement his nursing {which I've upped to every three hours} with formula from a bottle, but he's never had a bottle, so it isn't exactly smooth sailing yet.  If he doesn't get the hang of the bottle within a couple of weeks, we are probably destined for another hospital stay and a feeding tube. 
Please keep us in your prayers as we make this trek again.  The hardest part so far as been to be upbeat and not take out my frustrations on the other kids.  I can't expect them to behave perfectly because it makes things more convenient for me. 
This morning, before the others got up, I was holding Nate and telling him how he was a gift from the Lord and that I was grateful for each minute I have with him. 
But here's the thing.  He's not my only gift.  My other kids are also blessings, gifts from the Lord, no less so than Nate.  So is Handsome Hero.  So is my relationship with Christ. 
I have been blessed many times over, and I need to view each day through that lens.
If you are one of those whom I should have called personally, I apologize.  We are a bit overwhelmed here and I know you understand.  I will continually update the blog when there is news and I have the time.