Monday, June 30, 2008

Hook 'em Justin!

Russ sent that picture (below) of Justin in the hospital with his horns up. Riley gave them back (looking at his picture on the cell phone).

Rockport Weekend

We had another great weekend. Thanks for having us Rob and Mike! We already miss you guys.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good News and Bad News

(Russ sent this picture via his cell phone on Friday. Justin's smile made us feel so much better!!)
Okay, so we really haven't been hearing much from the family in Maryland. Riley, Karol, and I are in Rockport this weekend with Robbye and Mike. We've been hanging by the phone and waiting, waiting (and managing to have some fun too!).

Russ called yesterday afternoon and informed us that they discovered he had a broken hip in addition to all of his other injuries. Justin had surgery yesterday afternoon to put a pin in his hip and they were going to somehow connect that hip pin to his femur. They were also going to put a filter in his leg to prevent a blood clot from traveling to his heart. This surgery lasted 12 hours yesterday. Longer than they expected--Justin was still in surgery when we went to bed last night.

This phone call also brought news that Justin would likely loose both of his feet. The nurse explained that his foot bones and heel were "like a bag of bones" and they have been removing bone fragments. It just doesn't seem likely that they could put the bones back together and have a functioning foot. That's the bad news.

A foot specialist is flying in today to look at Justin's feet and provide some additional input on his feet. His doctor didn't seem to think that this foot specialist would disagree with her and that most likely Justin would lose both feet. I honestly think it is much harder for all of us to adjust to this news than it is Justin. Justin has been trying to prepare us for this all along.

The Good News is that Justin will have the opportunity to be a full functioning young man. The doctor said that with prosthetic feet, Justin will likely be walking again in 3-6 months. If they didn't take his feet, he would most likely never walk and be in a wheelchair.

Russ was trying to find a parking place in the hospital this morning as we were talking, so nothing new this morning. Please continue to pray for Justin and his recovery, Kim's strength as she stays with Justin, and the family as the travel.

Evening Update: Justin had a day today with no surgeries! He laid low and got to visit with his family. He told the doctors and nurses that if they were going to take his feet, to take them because he was ready to do it and get on the road to recovery.

His spirit through all this has kept us sane. He's been the calming force most of the time. Bless his heart.

Russ is also going to try to stay another day to see Justin after his surgery.

Friday, June 27, 2008

On Their Way

Justin's family (his parents, sisters, 2 uncles, and a grandfather) are headed to Maryland to see him. Russ is currently on a plane headed that way. I haven't heard any updates on Justin. We did speak with him yesterday morning and he sounded good. In pain and tired, but in good spirits.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

give me a minute...i'm procrastinating

We interrupt this cleaning session to share something essential:

So I've spent the morning cleaning....and jamming to Viva La Vida (Coldplay) on my iPod. I love music, most of it and this album.....well, I think I'm in love. I was one of the suckers who pre-purchased this CD on iTunes, too. I've never done that before. It's also only the 2nd entire album I've purchased on iTunes.

I danced like nobody was watching (and hopefully nobody was)...

I dusted windowsills...

I put things in the attic...

I vaccuumed...

I got my groove on...

I dusted...

I danced like Chris Martin in his iTunes commercial...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Before and After

I painted the living room during naptime and after bedtime last wekeend. All by myself. I decided it had to be done immediately, thought about it all during my training last week, picked the color, changed my mind at The Depot, painted a little with the wrong color, bought more paint (the original), painted all weekend, and I LOVE it!!


Russ for helping moving some furniture and putting it back, painting where the ceiling and the wall meet, and being SO proud of me for doing this all by myself!

Buzz for saving me and finishing the hard part and helping me touch up where I goofed. Thanks so much for taking your day off to stand on a ladder and stare at the ceiling with me. It looks so much better since you've been here!

We also had some masons come out yesterday and put a little flagstone patio extension in our backyard. It looks great--I can't wait for it to stop glowing in the dark and get some "stuff" on it. They worked from 8:00-5:00 to get this done and the sun was beaming on them every moment. Thank you--we love it!!

Is This Normal?

This has been going on for 5 years, since we've had Corky and Callie. Both of our cats come running when I drain a can of black olives in the sink. They'll fight over it. I left the juice in the can and look who got here first. Anyone else have a kitty who loves black olives?

No News

(Family Photo taken Christmas Day 2007)
Nothing new really. We talked to Justin this morning for about 1 minute. He was prepping for surgery--an adjustment to his titanium rod and a "wash out" of his wounds. He had a tube in his throat and we couldn't understand him well.

Please continue to pray for Justin's strength. He's a strong young man, but needs as many prayers as he can muster right now. He remains in ICU and his nurse says he's "okay."
If he remains stable through Friday, he'll be on a plane to Maryland.

Here's a link to a new article I found from the Corpus Christi Caller:

6/25/08 8:30 p.m. update: Russ is going to fly to D.C. on Friday to see Justin when he arrives in the states!! Russ, Bobby (another uncle of Justin's), Kim, John, Jackie, and Robbye (his parents and sister) will be making the trip.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Justin Update

This morning, Russ and I called Justin and spoke with someone at the front desk who told us that he was prepping for another surgery (7:30 a.m. our time). He got out of a spinal surgery last night at 9:00 where they inserted 12 inches of a metal rod into his back. The surgery this morning is supposed to focus on his legs.

It's hard not knowing what's going on. Talking to Justin who is on morphene and in and out of surgery isn't getting the clear, concise information we'd like!!

Here's a news clip from a Corpus station with John and (little) Robbye (Justin's father and sister):

Here's another article I found from a Corpus newspaper:

9:20 a.m.: Just got more info via Robbye from John (Justin's dad) that Justin still isn't out of the woods from losing a leg or a foot. We still don't know anything because they aren't wanting him to move. He's in surgery now and we're hearing that the longer the surgery takes, the better. If he's going to lose a leg or a foot it should take a few hours, but to save it could take 12-15 hours.

They're still telling his family to wait on coming to Germany (two days ago we thought he might be in D.C. or San Antonio by today or tomorrow). That clearly isn't happening with these marathon surgies Justin is having.

8:30 p.m. update: Justin's surgery that he had this afternoon was basically a deep cleaning. We'd spent the morning holding our breath and then found out he was out of surgery (in 2 hours) and assumed that he'd lost his leg. When Kim called the hosptial, they told her to call back in 2 hours. Seriously??!!

Justin spent the day in a light sleep--to alleviate the pain the nurse told Kim. She said if we had the injuries he had, we'd want to sleep too.

Nobody talked to Justin today and that made it tough. He's okay, he has all of his limbs, and is expected to go in for another deep clean tomorrow.

Rumor has it that he's going to Maryland on Friday.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mustache Contest

Today began Week #2 (that's 2 weeks too many!) of the Mustache Contest. Of all the manly men who started this whole thing, 4 dropped out and paid their dropout fee--only two remain. Yes, My Babe is one of them. I'm so proud and so mortified at the same time. Here he is this evening!

Eat Your Heart Out

Last night, our friends Shayne and Cindy came over. I don't cook dinner for them, we cook dinner together! We have so much fun doing this. They're both great cooks. They came over about 4:30. We caught up, entertained Riley, and cooked a 5 star meal. On the menu was:

Steaks au Poivre

Roasted Green Beans with Pine Nuts, Lemon, and Parmigiano

Texas Mac and Cheese with Roasted Poblanos

Oh. My. Gosh.

We were busy and didn't eat until 7:30, but it was well worth the wait. I haven't had a meal that good in a long time--at a restaurant or my kitchen!

Let the Healing Begin

We talked to Justin this morning in Germany. It was delightful to just hear his voice. He was about to go in for a spinal evaluation. He sounded good and even cracked a few jokes.

He has a friend who is a senior in high school this year who has already joined the Marines. Justin told him, "Don't do it--I've had 4 people stick their finger in my butt already!" C responded, "I'm going to be a Marine nurse then!" Ha! At least he hasn't lost his sense of humor!!

The staff in Germany said they try to get them in and out of there pretty quickly, so we're hoping he'll be in San Antonio this week. Justin said he's heard as early as tomorrow. We're all so anxious to see him.

Justin isn't happy about leaving his buddies in Afghanistan. They have a bond I will never be able to grasp. I'm certain it's what has gotten them through. We're so lucky Justin had these guys with him....who drug him out from the explosion, stayed with him until the helicopter came to get him out, and who call his family to apoligize for not taking care of him like they said they would.

Boys, you've done an upstanding job. Don't be disappointed in yourselves, don't think we don't thank our lucky stars that you've done what you've done. The only people doubting what you've done is yourselves.

6/23/08 11:00 a.m. update: Justin is in surgery right now, with an orthopedic surgeon. They are trying to determine if he will be able to keep his foot.

6/23/08 10:00 p.m. update: Just is out of a 10-hour surgery. He will be able to keep his foot!! We don't know much more, Kim (his mother) was going to speak with a doctor later this evening for more details on the surgery. Thanks for your prayers....and please keep them coming! Thank you God!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Our Marine

(Justin, on right)

Our family's most recent hero, Justin, was injured today in Afghanistan. His mother received the call this afternoon telling her that he'd been hurt when an improvised explosive device went off while he was traveling in a vehicle. He has broken both legs, crushed a heel, and has more broken bones in his feet. We first heard that he would be flown to Germany because he couldn't be taken care of effectively there. We've also heard that he's staying in Afghanistan. It's a waiting game. Please pray for our brave Marine....and all the other soliders and their families.

6/21/08 update: Justin called last night and spoke with his mother. She felt more peaceful after talking to him, which is fabulous. We also found out that he has broken his back. His mother spoke with a nurse who was with him (who was difficult to understand) who said that his injuries "were fixable." Does that mean he's paralyzed? Or won't be?

We're working on finding out when and where he will be sent (in the U.S.).

Please pray for Justin and his buddies--for their mental and physical well being. Please pray for his mother to find peace in this situation. Pray for her to find more information, to hear from him again.

6/21/08 evening update: Justin called his mother again--he had just come out of another surgery. His back isn't broken, but maybe a vertebrae or two. He's worried about losing a leg or a foot and asked his dad if anyone would hire him if he was missing any parts. Bless his heart. I'm hoping he's just assuming the worst, as we do when we're hurting and afraid.

We discovered that Justin was in the top of a hummer--looking out for landmines that he usually spots. He didn't see this one and was blown out of the top of his vehicle--30 meters. Someone in the vehicle with him drug him away from the explosion (he was on fire) and then someone from the Hummer behind him pulled him another 100 yards wait for the Medivac to get there.

When Justin was being evacuated by helicopter from the site where he was injured, a Navy soldier got out and said, "I know you!" Justin said, "No you don't" and the man responded, "Yes, from River Hills!" (That was the church that Justin had gone to when he was younger.) That gives me goosebumps. That is God at work.

He's still in Afghanistan and we're anxiously awaiting him to return to the states.

(Here's a great pic of Kim (his mom) and Justin that I had to add--taken last Christmas.)

6/21/08 9:00 p.m. update: Justin will hopefully be leaving Afghanistan soon. His legs were broken, yes. Mangled is what we'd call it. At this time he is missing 4 inches of a femur and trying to get some circulation going in his feet.

6/22/08 9:00 p.m. update: Justin has arrived in Germany! He is wiggling all of his toes and has okay circulation in his feet. He's not moving his legs because he's not supposed to right now. He has multiple injuries to his spine between his shoulders and lower back.

We're expecting him to be in the U.S. sometime this week.

p.s. Just wanted to post something he said yesterday, "I might lose my foot, but it's a long way from my heart."

Please continue to pray for Justin as he tries to heal. Pray for his safety as he travels. Pray for his family as they travel to be with him.

The One Where it Sprinkles

Riley and Cami had a date at a sprinkler park. It was a little cooler than usual this morning--and believe me, it was welcome. It was just a little chilly in the water though. At first Riley wasn't so interested and spent some time eating on the picnic blanket, at the playscape, and in the sand volleyball court. It was time to go and of course then he decides to have some fun in the water!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Magnum P.I.?

Okay, so Russ comes home from work last night and doesn't mention anything about a "mustache contest" they decided to have until after he takes a shower....and forgets a spot!

One month.

If you drop out, you pay $50.

No growing a full beard or goatee and then shaving everything off.

All of the guys he works with 8-10 are participating.

8-10 absolutely thrilled wives.

Here's my Day 1 shot:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quotes of Late...

"Be ca-ful."

"Stupid-ous!" (This is me trying to make "stupid" so much better!!)

"Ouch. Kiss it Mama?"

"I kiss it for you Mama."

"I go night night on couch" (wants to sleep on the couch because he's seen Dada do it.)

"Here goes me!" (When it was his turn to go down the slide.)

"No highchair, red chair." (Haven't been sitting in the highchair much anymore--only when he doesn't follow directions at the table!)

"I go with you." (He means, "I'll be your shadow.")

"I flush it Mama!"

"I sorry" and "No I sorry."

And my favorite...."I get my dress." ("I'll get dressed.")

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sing a Long

Riley's version of the "ABC song":

Know my A B C H I K Q S H Y Z
Know my A B C H I K Q S H Y Z
Know my A B C H I K Q S H Y Z


As you can see, I'm obsessed with this crawling out of bed issue. I thought we'd never sleep again....or get a nap, so it wasn't looking very good on that first day.

There is good news: he's sleeping!! We're sleeping!! Life is just a bit different around here:

*He crawls out of his crib several times at bedtime and finally gives up (usually).
*He wants to sleep on the floor. On his rug, his "mat" he calls it. If he falls asleep there, Russ puts him into bed.
*We shut his door and put babyproofing knobs on the inside of his room (the closet, the bathroom, and the entry door).
*This morning I woke up because he was crying at 3:30 a.m. I went up to catch him before he crawled out and he was on the couch--downstairs in the living room, with 2 blankets.
*I'm preparing myself for a big boy bed. Ugh.
*This afternoon at naptime, I discovered that not only can he crawl out, but he can crawl in too, that little stinker!!
*I wake up with a sense of urgency in the morning. Gone are the days of making coffee and checking my email before I head upstairs to get the little guy. I dash up there before he can start turning things on and off (his CD playing, his lamp, and his nightlight are his current favorites).

Friday, June 13, 2008


Are you curious, like me? I caught Riley climbing out of his crib after I left him for his nap. Here you go: It's sideways--I was too excited to capture this to think technically!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Now What?

Riley had a great nap today (yeah, me!). He usually naps from 1:00-4:00 and today was no different. We'd gone on a walk to the mailbox and he actually fell asleep in the stroller on the way home. I unstrapped him, put him over my shoulder and walked him upstairs. He was out.

3:45ish, he wakes up and is singing his version of the ABC's, talking to his Backyardigan friends, and saying, "Come get me Mama!" I gave him a few minutes to wake up (he's NOT a morning person, just like his father) and began walking upstairs.

At the third step, I heard a door shut and thought to myself, "Oh, that probably scared him--was it the cat or the air conditioner?" As I arrived upstairs, I was standing hip to eye with my 2 year old son proudly announcing, "I climb Mama!" I continained my scream of horror (at running into a human being I didn't expect to be there) AND my laughter. I acted as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.

You see, last summer, Riley climbed out of his bed and we removed the "rack" so that his mattress lies on the floor. His mattress is laying on the floor, surrounded by his crib (the walls of which are to my waist).

{insert picture here!}

It's ironic that Russ finally strapped Riley's bookshelf of his dresser to the wall just last weekend. Did that do it? I'm beginning to wonder. We'll have to babyproof his room like nobody's business. If he can't get out of his room, the worst he could do would be take all of his pajamas out of the drawer....I think. I'll have to look at his room in a new way now.

(p.s. Home from Bunco and Russ said he climbed out again while I was gone....before he fell asleep tonight.)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Surprise, Surprise!!

We've had this weed growing everywhere in our flower garden, between everything. It was so prolific I thought maybe I'd planted some seeds and blocked them from memory. They are very fast growing and I haven't had the heart to pull them--out of curiosity, I think.

Yesterday, I noticed one of them had a beautiful, golden yellow bloom on it! I thought, "This looks like a squash bloom, but I haven't planted any. I wonder what this is?"

Well as Russ pulled up 85% of the weeds, his father said to him, "That's squash!!" Where the heck did we get squash you ask?? trying to do my part for our environment, I put all of our fruit and veggie waste in to the garden--sort of my no effort compost pile. Yes I have put squash that was in the veggie bin of the refrigerator too long out there, yes I have put cuttings out there. What is my reward? Saving the environment AND a squash plant!!

We don't really want a veggie garden out there with our flower garden, but I'm going to have to leave these alone to see what happens. This may be the inspiration I need to have a vegetable garden (something I've inspired to do, but put no effort forth).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Our Birth Story

I wish that I had written all of this down long ago. I think it's pretty accurate, though. I've been working on it for a few days and edit it every time I read it. I'm sure that will continue to happen. As of now thouigh, here is my version of the day Riley arrived. Our Birth Story.

(January 24, 2006)The night before I gave birth, we delivered potato soup to Valerie and T.H.--Amelia was born and our Bunco group took turns delivering meals. On our way home, The Cooks and The Colemans went to Rosie's to have a fajita dinner.

(Here's Baby Amelia that night.)

We came home, business as usual, and went to bed. During the night I woke up to use the restroom (which is unusual for me, even during pregnancy), went back to bed, and thought I hadn't finished using the restroom. Am I still going? Am I asleep? What's going on? I went back to the restroom "to finish" and woke Russ up. What is wrong with me?

I always had visions of my water breaking as this enormous gush of water. Mine trickled for hours. Yuck.

We were still two weeks away from our due date (of Feb.8), so I wasn't really thinking I was having a baby, really. Concerned? Yes, and still trickling.

(Last belly pic before delivery, taken early January. I gained about 50 pounds during pregnancy.)

I was wide awake, so was Russ. I started having what felt like cramps--menstrual cycle cramps. I called Tina in the middle of the night to ask her what was going on, if I needed to go to the hospital, call the doctor, etc. I didn't want to go to the hospital for false labor pains like she had done--we were in Round Rock and I didn't want to go to 45th street and back home.

I'm freaking out because I haven't finished my sub plans for maternity leave. I have to go to work, to get ready to be out. I called Dr. Akin and talked to an answering service--then he called me--the actual doctor, I was shocked. He informed me that I wasn't going to work that day and said to start timing those pains and see what happens, and that he might see me later at the hospital.

We never really went back to sleep, but I still had pains--they got closer together, then further apart, so we thought it was false labor. Then closer together again.....we called Judy, the best nurse in the world. She said to come in to the office and she'd take a look.

We didn't rush--took a shower, I shaved my legs, just in case, and we got our stuff together, etc.

Headed to the hospital in Russ' truck, still dripping, I was mortified. The pains actually worsened on the way and I was really thinking this could be the day at this point. Russ said, "We're having a baby today!" That was so exciting (and scary) at the same time.

We arrived at Dr. Akin's office, went right in and Judy said I was dialated to over 4 cm already. She added that I may be able to make it without an epidural. (Thanks, for thinking about me, but I'll pass.) She escorted me out the back door (drip, drip, drip) and we went straight upstairs to check in to a room. I remember standing there while Russ was checking me in and it hurt. Bad cramps hurt, not like I'd imagined these pains to be. I imagined the worst thing ever. It wasn't.

We got in the room and settled in and made bunches of phone calls to let people know what was going on. I couldn't have my epidural until they had a backup vein ready to go. That took hours. They tried my arms 20 times--no exaggeration. They tried my wrist 10 times--nothing. They had 3 or 4 different people try to find a dang vein. Enough already!! They discussed checking my ankle for a vein but we ended up in my neck--the jugular! I'd never really had any trouble having blood taken, so this was drama. Finally, I could receive the epidural. It was over an hour after checking in. Maybe two.

The epidural....I was scared of getting it. I'm so glad I couldn't see it. I squeezed Russ's arm to death and was terrified to move. I don't remember much about that part--I think I was terrified.

Russ, Mom, Tina, and Ashley were with me at this point. We were all hanging out in the room. Eventually, Thomas and Karol, Robbye, The Colemans, The Harris', The Carters, The Rokohls (drove from Orange Grove), and Cindy and Shayne arrived. It was fun having such a big group in there, it was like what was happening wasn't really happening. I had friendly distractions! I wasn't as "afraid" I think. If I had time to recall how honestly terrified of giving birth I really was, it could've been bad.

Everyone left when the contractions finally started coming faster, probably around 10:00 (I'm guessing). Russ had to stay. Tina stayed--she was our photographer. Dr. Akin had worked late the night before and came by to check on me a few times, but would be off duty for delivery.

I don't think I pushed that long, really. I wanted to give up though, I remember thinking--oh well, I'll just have a c-section, that's fine. (Dr. Akin had warned me that I might have a large baby because I carried so much fluid. He predicted 10 pounds or more. I wish he'd kept that thought to himself, honestly. I worried long and hard about it.) One nurse got up in my face and said I was so close and didn't want to have a c-section. She motivated me to keep going and I did. Push....2.....3.....4.....5!!!

Riley arrived at 11:59 on January 25, 2006. One minute before January 26th. That was so cool to Russ and I for some reason. He weighed 6 pounds and 13 ounces (thank goodness the doctor was wrong this time)!

Russ went out to deliver the news. Riley was going to be "Riley" whether he was a boy or a girl. Russ went out to our crew to let them know that Riley Harris was here!! We have a baby boy!! Tina captured that on video and it's a moment I'm so glad I have because I couldn't be there.

They gave us a little time with Riley and then everyone came back into the room. It was fantastic, honestly. You never know how you're going to react to all of those people, but it didn't bother me a bit--I was so glad they were all there:

Russ, Mom, Thomas, Karol, Robbye, John, Kim, Jackie, Robbye, Tina, Ashley, Mike, Molly, Maddie, Susan, Craig, Johnny, Seleta, Cindy, and Shayne. That's 21 folks, including me. Don't forget the hospital staff--a few fabulous nurses and a doctor I'd never met.

Everyone stayed until Riley was actually here--much later than any of us expected. It was 3 hours shy of a 24 hour experience from water breaking to having that sweet baby in my arms.

Shayne and Cindy were so thoughtful to bring a bottle of champagne and some glasses. Everyone had a celebratory sip--except me, of course--right there in the delivery room.

What blessings!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

We're Not Proud

Our sweet little punkin' hasn't been so sweet this week. When he's not happy, he's started telling Russ and I, "You 'tupid Mama" and "You 'tupid Dada." Clearly something he's picked up at school because he's never heard that word from one of us. We've tried ignoring (most of the time), but sometimes this has made me so angry, I thought I could snap.

The consequence that has received the most reaction is going into our bedroom and shutting the door, leaving him alone in the rest of the house (scary, I know). He cries outside the bedroom door and usually says "Sorry Mama, (I'll) be nice." or sometimes I'll get the dreaded, "You 'tupid Mama!"

I'm not really sure how to break my 2 1/2 year old of this habit.

Dada tried washing his mouth out with soap. That worked wonders!! Russ took him into the bathroom (when I was on the verge of snapping) and was going to touch a bar of soap to his tongue. Instead, Riley went all out, closed his mouth on the bar of soap, and proceeded to say, "Mmmmm Dada! Good!" Well...not exactly the reaction we expected. Russ ran out of the bathroom trying not to laugh to tell me that his idea was a miserable failure.

It honestly breaks my heart to hear him say it (and burns me up at the same time) because I know he doesn't really have a concept of what it means. He knows to say it when he's angry (when he doesn't get his way). I can't reason with him, just put out my pouty lip and let it know that it hurts feelings when he says it. He still doesn't get it, but does say "I sorry Mama."

Friday, June 6, 2008


Our 2nd day of summer together, Riley and I planned to visit our neighborhood park. The morning rain was completely unexpected, but very welcome. We waited for the rain to stop and walked to the park. We had it all to ourselves and spent about an hour there. This is my favorite from our morning at the park:

This is Russ' favorite:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I'm Trying

Have a heart that never hardens,
a temper that never tires,
a touch that never hurts.
— Charles Dickens