Our 2018 Christmas Letter!

Another year, another overly verbose, mostly inconsequential, Thompson Family Christmas Letter. And yes, after seven years of marriage, two kids, four cars, two washing machines, and a handful of pet goldfish, I can now definitively call it a Thompson Letter, as I have managed to navigate the intricate “name change” process in the State of California. While bureaucracy is alive and well in this state, I did manage to persevere, doing it all for the TSA pre-check and the California REAL ID. (Whatever that is.) Oh, and did I mention that I also did it for love? Totally for love.

To truly conform in all aspects of my life, I planned to take formal family photos this year and send one of those conventional Christmas Cards, but felt that doing so would not have been nearly as much fun. For me at least. So here we are.

2018 was a year of travel for the Thompson Family.  It started in April when we took a trip to Baltimore to visit Gran-Paul and Kathy, with a side trip to Washington D.C. to give the kids a little “culture”. Sure, stopping Grant from scaling the Lincoln Memorial and/or jumping into the Reflecting Pool wasn’t exactly the sophistication I was hoping for, but it was (still) an enlightening experience — particularly when I learned that “potty words” are all that it takes to get both kids to simultaneously smile for a picture.  Although surrounded by (all that) U.S. History, Rex and Grant found most of their enjoyment riding the Metro and watching the planes land at National Airport, and at BWI, and on approach to Dulles. We may just need to revisit D.C. when they are both a little bit older.

In June, we decided to throw caution to the wind and take the kids to Europe for more of that afore-mentioned “culture”.  We visited Rome, Venice, Santorini, Kotor (Montenegro), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Katakolon (Greece) and Copenhagen. In doing so, we avoided all the historical stuff that people travel halfway around the world to see to (instead) turn our attention to the subways, metros, bus systems, water taxis and “the thing that looked like a farm tractor, but was actually rebranded a road-worthy ‘party’ train”. Ask our kids what their favorite part of that trip was and they will quickly tell you that it was watching Looney Tunes from their seats on the Dreamliner, sitting on a public bus in Santorini “with real arm rests and an actual fold up tray!”, and riding the “S-Tog”. While Dane and I had grand visions of backpacking through Europe with the kids, it was more like carrying our own backpacks, plus a Paw Patrol one, all while rolling a brightly colored “construction vehicle” suitcase through the cobblestone streets of Venice. All joking aside, the kids did well on this trip and only got “pukie sick” one time (ahem, Grant). I mean honestly, what do you expect when you put your mouth on the window of just about every subway car in Copenhagen.

Early November took us to most magical place on earth, Orange County, CA. Over the course of four days we visited Disneyland, California Adventure, and LEGOLAND. While Disneyland did not live up to Disneyworld (in my opinion), I did take pride in the fact that we were able to convince the employees that Grant was forty-inches by stuffing napkins into the heels of his shoes. Small victories. Seriously, Dane and I did not fly all that way to NOT to go on Space Mountain. As for California Adventure, well, as Lightning McQueen and Mater fan-boys the kids were in heaven. LEGOLAND, well, by then mom and dad were over it. Standing in long lines with your 4-year old is only fun for so long.

Two weeks after we returned from that adventure, we took the kids to Yosemite with plans to hike the Mist Trail, completely overlooking the fact that our kids don’t like to hike. Oh well.

As for the kids, Rex is now six-years and 304 days.  He is in the First Grade and loves both his teacher and his classmates (Well, except for the girls because they have “cooties”). Rex is a voracious reader, preferring “non-fiction” to “fiction” (his words, not mine), and at this point has probably read more books than mommy (I never really saw the point).  Reading has served him well, as he knows way more than both Dane and I, of which we are being frequently reminded. Rex enjoys playing basketball with his friends. He also took to soccer this year, except of course, when there was an airplane or helicopter overhead. But who could blame him. Rex still plans to fly “big 4-Jets” but has changed his allegiance from Delta to British Airways.


Grant turned four this year, celebrating with a pink pig party complete with super loud squeaky pig party favors (I tried to tell Dane ‘no’, but he insisted). J  He managed to survive the year with just one set of stitches and no broken bones, but we assume that will change as he has a strong affinity for climbing (anything really) and no real fears. The only thing that frightens Grant is when he finds “nature” (leaves, sticks, grass, bugs) attached to his pant leg. Grant appears to enjoy math and loves to count (37…38…399999……….30…31…). Grant wants to be a “school bus” when he grows up or a “dog”. Hey, a kid can dream, can’t he?

Paw Patrol is still held in the highest regard around here, so this year we will see another influx of “Patrollers” for Christmas. In addition to that, Rex would like Transformers and Grant is hoping for a “NERF Gun that shoots real candy. That it makes. And are not sticky – so like Starburst.” And, a “car that follows him around all the time and isn’t a remote control and doesn’t need batteries.” I sure hope that Santa has a PhD in Engineering or something.

As for the rest of us, Myles and Floyd, are still alive and well. Myles acts like a teenager even though he is basically eighty. It must be the grain free dog food. As for Floyd, well, we continue to wonder what he is thinking – or rather, IF he is thinking. Dane still works at Ansys doing stuff that only he and Rex understand, while I am covering all states west of Texas for AppDynamics. Livin’ the dream I tell you.

Speaking of dreams (coming true), this year we said good-bye to “Coalflake”, Danes’ 1995 BMW. I will miss her dearly (like you do the flu), but am reminded of her daily when I go out to the garage and find the big oil stain (or whatever it was that she was leaking) that she left behind. “Coalflake” was replaced with a 2018 Prius Prime that we have affectionately named “White Lightning”, or “Little Pearl”, or “American Airlines”. We also replaced our washing machine this year. It is still sans a name as we have yet to figure out if it is a girl or a boy.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention a passing of the “Christmas Torch”.  Just before I served the Gluten Free Rice Krispie Turkey for dessert this Thanksgiving, I learned that our darling niece, Olivia, has decided that, when it comes to Christmas, she has “turned into Angela”. While I am sure that others may leave more noble legacies, I am truly humbled that my pursuit to over commercialize and hype an already overly commercialized and hyped holiday has been passed down to the next generation. Long live itemized Christmas Lists (color coded by family member) and millions upon millions of fairy lights. To steal a quote from Darth Vader, it was like the “student had become the master”.  Now I just need to work on our sweet little nephew Jack.

So on that note, we want to wish you all the best this holiday season and in the New Year and hope that you remember to leave cookies by the fireplace for Santa, and carrots for Rudolph because they have a LOT of work to do this Christmas, particularly at our house. Take care, be safe and have a Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!


December 24, 2018 at 10:56 am Leave a comment

Our 2017 Christmas Letter!

Every other year (or so) I decide to sit down and compose a real, honest-to-goodness Christmas Letter. I guess I just don’t feel like a professionally staged photo of my two not-so-little-anymore boys wrapped in a loving embrace would do our family justice. Furthermore, the strict character limits imposed by most “Christmas Card Services” would unquestionably prove to be way too much of a challenge for yours truly.  Brevity is not my strong suit. So, without further ado, I bring to you, the third bi-annual installment of the “Thompson Family Christmas Letter”.

To be honest, it feels like just yesterday that we were celebrating Christmas.  Oh wait! It was! Yes, just a few short months ago we ushered in Grants third year with a Christmas-themed bash, complete with Christmas cookies, carols and “rein-beer”. It had always been my dream to celebrate Christmas in the summer and this was my year. Cold Chocolate and a fake snowball fight under a hot blazing sun — it was truly magical.

A month after that, I once again commemorated the Holiday by dressing both our kids as Christmas presents for Halloween. While they may look happy in the ensuing picture, their cheerfulness was incredibly short-lived.  On the actual night, we found ourselves dressed as two Christmas trees, a slightly damaged present and an airplane. Oh well.

Now, with just a couple weeks left until the big day, it is safe to say that we are getting our monies worth in regards to “Doug”, our artificial tree, who has basically been up since mid-September. With all the lights adorning him, it is surprising to me that (he) hasn’t caught fire just yet.

In addition to our tree, someone else we have been seeing a lot of this season is Santa Claus. As of today, Rex and Grant have visited with Santa nine times. So much so, that this past Saturday (at yet another “Santa-filled” event) Grant lackadaisically stated, “Oh. It’s just Santa Claus. Again. I’m just not really in the mood to see him right now.” Clearly you really can get too much of a good thing.

And just in case you were wondering what my overly commercialized children are asking for this Holiday Season – Rex would like a “remote-controlled Monster Truck” (totally feasible); Grant, on the other hand, is requesting a “remote-controlled rocket ship that shoots REAL fire.” (for that, we are currently taking suggestions).

Speaking of kids… Rex is now five-years and 304 days. (Almost six, as he likes to say).  He started Kindergarten in August and loves both his teacher and his classmates; mommy and daddy love the fact that Kindergarten is free. J Rex is a very well-rounded student, so while not mastering his ABCs, he decided to “participate” (I use that term loosely) in a couple of team sports this year — Tackle T-Ball (the kids didn’t quite get the concept) and Soccer. I’ll be honest, a scholarship is probably not in our future at this point as it appears we have more of a math-a-thlete than an athlete on our hands. Aside from sports, Rex also tried his hand at acting when he auditioned for the role of the “tree” in the after-school play. He chose this part because “it doesn’t have to talk or move”. We can’t wait to cheer on our little thespian this Friday night.

Rex continues to indulge in Lightning McQueen and Dusty Crophopper but his true love is now reading about outer space and watching NOVA on PBS. It is safe to say that the apple didn’t fall far from (Danes’) tree. Rex plans to be a pilot when he grows up — first of an F-22 Raptor, and then by flying “big 4-Jets”, preferably for Delta.

Grant, our threen-ager (sigh), continues to attend daycare at Brighton whereby he is one of two boys in a class full of girls.  As a result, Grant loves pink, glitter and high heels. Grant wants to be “mommy” when he grows up which is both flattering and scary at the same time.  In addition to his rocket ship, Grant has also asked for butterfly earrings, a blue moon dress and sparkly blue polka-dot shoes for Christmas. Grant is still built a bit like a linebacker so we figure if the “mommy” thing doesn’t work out, he may just be our sporty one.

Grant has an immense love (bordering on obsession?) for Paw Patrol and thinks that Marshall and Rubble have hung the moon.  He loves sugar and enjoys nothing more than settling down in the laundry room with a cookie to uh, do his business (such a long and convoluted story). Grant loves music, particularly Simon & Garfunkel’s “Down and Out Song” (otherwise known as “Bridge Over Troubled Water”) and can’t help dancing when he hears a good beat. He can often be found dangling from a high piece of furniture or playing with the electrical socket. If anyone is looking to test out their child-proofing, Grant is your guy :).

As for the less important members of the family, both doggies, Myles and Floyd, are still alive and well. Myles, our perpetual puppy, turned ten in June, and Floyd, who continues to move less than a balled-up pair of socks, just turned 9. Dane (age undetermined), is still working at Ansys doing stuff that only he (and probably Rex) understand. I, (also age undetermined), left Jive in the summer and went to work for a company called AppDynamics. No one really reads these things to learn about the adults so I’ll just leave it at that.

As a family, we made some (mostly) wonderful memories this year. (We were traveling with a two-year old after all.)  We visited Yosemite in the Spring, whereby we carried the kids most of the way up a waterfall “because their feet were too tired”. In the early summer, we traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to enjoy the warm, swimmable Atlantic and visit with Gran-Paul, Aunt Nancy and Kathy. We extended our stay to include both Atlanta (where we got to see a truck catch fire on the highway) and Charleston.  While the truck fire was certainly hard to top, the kids did love the tour of the USS Yorktown.  I tried taking them to the Magnolia Plantation to see some real live alligators but I guess alligators just don’t do it for the kids these days.  In the late summer, we traveled to Wyoming to visit Yellowstone, Grant Tetons, Jackson Hole and Danes’ personal favorite, Thermopolis. The pictures just couldn’t do it justice.

So that about sums up our 2017. We wish you all the best this holiday season and in the New Year and hope that you remember to leave cookies by the fireplace for Santa, and carrots for Rudolph because they have a LOT of work to do this Christmas. Take care, be safe and have a Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!



December 24, 2017 at 7:34 pm Leave a comment

Our Christmas Letter.

Dear Family and Friends,

A lot has happened in our family since I last wrote a Christmas Letter four or more years ago. As a result, I feel that it is only fair for me to go all “old-school” this year, transcribing the “Second Annual Thompson Christmas Letter”, instead of just signing our names to a pretty little postcard adorned with photographs of our precious children who are pretending to love one another. (No offense to those who can achieve the latter. We just happen to have a, well, “spirited” child in the household who would give even the best family photographer a run for his or her money.)

1So yeah, where do I begin? While perusing the “First Annual Thompson Christmas Letter” (circa 2011) I realized that we used to do a lot of traveling. Since the arrival of Rex a.k.a. “Rexy” (3 years, 10 months) and more significantly impacting aforementioned travel, Grant, a.k.a. “Trouble” (15 mos), we have gone basically nowhere. We have discussed traveling of course, but then we attempt a simple trip through Trader Joe’s with the boys and quickly come to our senses. Essentially, there will be no trips for us until “Trouble” is at least four years old.

4So what do we do to entertain ourselves you might ask? Well, aside from the (completely exhausting) family outings to the grocery store and (equally arduous) trips to Target and Costco, we arrange play dates with other families of small children. The latter, of course, is really just a chance for the kids to run around chasing one another and doing “dive bombs” off various pieces of furniture. The hope is that they will take a really long nap and then still be fast asleep at 8PM so that we can be asleep by nine. Yes, we are livin’ the dream out here in California. Planning on a third? Uh, no thank you.

10All kidding aside, we do actually feel that our two (four if you count the dogs) boys are really quite wonderful. Rex has taken to the role of “Big Brother” and usually likes to share his toys with Grant so long as he is the one to decide “when” and “if” said sharing is going to occur. This year he became a “preschooler”, who loves anything Lightning McQueen (I think I have seen that movie over one-hundred times now) and/or Dusty Crophopper (same). Rex loves to read, color, play soccer and (as of last week) swim. I’m not sure if a swimming scholarship is necessarily in his future, but if he makes it to the wall without needing to be rescued, we can chalk it up as a success. I would be remiss if I did not also mention that Rex has a best friend, “Bo”, who pretty much trumps all of us in terms of who he would like to spend his free time with. (And yes, he does refer to Bo as his “other brother”.)

3This brings us to Grant. Let me say that to use the words feisty, strong-willed and resolute to describe him would all be an understatement. The kid is fearless and in my opinion destined to either join the Delta Tau Chi Fraternity (a la “Animal House”) or shock us all and become a neurosurgeon. Grant has endless amounts of energy and a frightening amount of self-confidence. He has no issue plowing through a bunch of three and four year old boys to get to a favorite toy, or standing his ground against a five-year old who happened to get in his way at the Train Museum. Grant loves banging on stuff, climbing on stuff and diving off stuff. He currently has three words in his vocabulary, “duh”, “dive bomb” (di baaaaam), and “uh oh”. To Grant, a simple “uh duh” covers just about anything that he feels is important to say. All kidding aside, Grant is very endearing and probably(?) pretty smart. I mean, after all, he did start wearing glasses last month and glasses always make you are smarter, right?

2As for the dogs, both Myles and Floyd have learned to tolerate the boys. Myles is the responsible one, alerting us when either of the boys is distressed, and then silently judging us if we do not rectify the situation immediately. Floyd, on the other hand, just goes into hiding. If you were to ask Rex, Myles is his dog while Floyd belongs to Grant. Floyd, however, feels that he doesn’t actually belong to anyone. Since Grant feels the same way, they are kinda a match made in heaven. Myles (our million dollar Havanese) did manage to also get himself a new knee for Christmas. It amazes me that small, white lap dog that sleeps twenty-three hours out of a day can still manage to blow out his knee, but whatever, I guess it was super important that he jump off the couch to protect the family from that rogue squirrel.

6In 2014, we also became the proud owners of a brand new minivan. Yes, we traded in “Snowflake”, our perfectly capable white Acura TSX for “Big Pearl” a Honda Odyssey (also, white). “Pearl” is a workhorse with a whole lotta heart (and space). In the past year, we have camped in her (never again!), watched a movie in her, stuffed the whole family (and then some) in her to save money on parking, and transported an entire sectional (sofa) down the interstate. Pearl is also a kid magnet. Between Rex, his BFF Bo, our nephew Jack and our niece Olivia, it is pretty fair to say that all of them would give almost anything to cruise around in her plush, applesauce stained leather seats and milk crusted door-handles. Ah, a minivan, where else could a banana go into hiding until it dehydrates itself.

5Dane and I are pretty much the same, just a lot more tired and a lot less fun. No one reads these things to learn about what the adults are up to, so I’ll keep it short. I continue to work at Jive Software (go Jive!), making sure that large corporations are always able to alert their employees to the fact that the Company Picnic is this Friday at 4PM. I’m clearly not saving babies or anything like that. 🙂 Dane on the other hand, might be. He is currently spending a lot of his time in Berkeley working with a bunch of physicists to build a quantum computer. Babies are always going to need computers? Right? And because, a Christmas Letter would not be complete without a rundown on our current afflictions, Vern, the kidney stone did come back this year. As a result, we have that to look forward to in 2016.

While Dane’s family has always been local to us, with Grandma (Patty) and Grandpa (Jim) offering endless amounts of much needed childcare this year, “Ma Self” (now known simply as “other grandma”) moved out to California in July. We welcomed her with open arms, but 7were not as enthusiastic about her welcoming her guard cat “Lucy”. Aside from the fact that Dane and I are both allergic, we are also really scared of her. All I can say is that who needs a pit-bull when instead you own a pure-bread Siberian longhaired cat. As for “Pa Self” (aka “Gran-Paul”), he will be joining all of us for Christmas this year. Since it is meant to be 70 degrees and sunny in Baltimore (who said that Global Warming isn’t a real thing?!) I’m not so sure he is going to enjoy our weather, but he will get the pleasure of watching the boys tear (quite literally) through their Christmas presents.

9So that about sums it up as we once again say goodbye to another year and get ready for the new one filled with endless possibilities and limitless material (for next years letter). We wish you all the best this holiday season and in the New Year and hope that you remember to leave cookies by the fireplace for Santa and carrots for Rudolph (he’s a vegetarian) because they have a LOT of work to do this Christmas.  Take care, be safe and have a Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!

Peace and Love,
(or per Grant, “uh duh!”)




December 25, 2015 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

What I did on my maternity non-leave…

As many of you may already know, Dane, Rex and I (and to some extent Myles and Floyd) welcomed Grant Xavier Thompson into the world on Friday, September 19th at 8:20PM. (Otherwise known as “National Talk Like a Pirate Day”.) Baby Grant was born two weeks early tipping the scales at a whopping 6lbs, 1oz., and measuring 19 and ½ inches.

Lounging on the tanning bed.

Lounging on the tanning bed.

Because he was technically “full-term” we were able to dodge a stay in the NICU this time around, but we were not able to avoid being readmitted back into the hospital two days later with a case of jaundice. Suffice it to say, no Baby Book of ours will ever be complete without a picture of our kid sunning himself under the bilirubin lights. Oh well.

Anyway, back in the day, when Grant was still a newborn, I had planned on writing a detailed blog post documenting his “birth story”. Not sure why exactly, but I guess I just figured that if nothing else, it would serve as a gentle reminder for me, several months from now, when I decided that I wanted to try again for that baby girl :).

Speaks for itself.

Speaks for itself.

Luckily, I do not actually need that aforementioned “birth story” because I am oftentimes reminded of what ‘went down’ that night (usually at some inopportune time, you know, like at the dinner table…. in a nice restaurant or something) every time Rex pulls out my iPhone and starts replaying the video footage. Apparently Dane found it necessary to record a play-by-play of the whole thing on my phone. (I really need to move those somewhere else.) Speaking of which, the other tangible memory I have of labor is the amount of times Dane stood giggling over his phone as he searched for a visual reference of dilation. He did finally find one.

“Honey, look at this! You need to get yourself to the size of a bagel! You love bagels! How appropriate!”

Grant "The Tank" Thompson

Grant “The Tank” Thompson

As far as the kiddos go, after a few visits to the hospital and a little issue returning to his birth weight (those were some dark, hormonal days!), Grant has actually done quite well. I am happy to report that we now refer to him as “The Tank” or “Tank Thompson” because of his chubby little cheeks, and chubbier little baby buns. At his two-month appointment he weighed in at twelve pounds putting him square in the fiftieth percentile. It has certainly been quite foreign to us, moving our two-month old into three to six month jammies and size two diapers.

At home, integrating the two boys (and dogs) has gone fairly well but we have definitely had our moments – particularly when mommy is the only one home and trying to get out the door. (It is amazing to me how two kids can manage to time their “poopies” to the exact moment everyone is finally strapped into their respective car seats and ready to go.) For all intents and purposes Rex generally ignores Grant, except when “The Tank” decides that he wants to play with his rattle or something. It is then that Rex decides that he wants the rattle and goes all “terrible twos” on Grants’ ass buns. I was able to see some improvement in their interactions after I appointed Rex “Chief Diaper Fluffer” (think fluffing a pillow, not the other type of fluffing Dane!). Rex takes his role very seriously,

"Brotherly Love"

“Brotherly Love”

which is great, as it has allowed him to feel some sort of responsibility for his baby brother. This manifests itself each and every time I leave the house when Rex reminds me (many times) that I need to also remember to take “Lil’ Brother”. Kinda cute, in a patronizing sort of way.

As for the dogs, Myles wants nothing to do with Grant; Grant belongs to Floyd. (Myles had long ago adopted Rex). Floyd takes on his new position with some hesitation though, since Floyd likes to use as little energy as possible to exist. (Hence the nickname, given to him by Grandpa, of “Sock”; because he moves about as much as a pair of socks.) I wouldn’t say Floyd is as good of a “dogfather” as Myles was to Rex, but he is learning, he at least shows up.

More Brotherly Love

More Brotherly Love

So yeah, the kids are healthy, the dogs are fine, Dane is doing well; me, on the other hand, not so much. Long story short, while I was 34 weeks pregnant, my doctor randomly (albeit luckily) discovered that I had a really sick left kidney. I was all for ignoring it (that’s what I do!) but my OB/GYN made me an appointment about a week after I delivered. Even the pediatrician who discharged Grant after his birth (and overhead my doctor nonchalantly telling me about this really good nephrologist he knew that had kept this lady alive “twenty years longer than she should have been”) told me that I couldn’t disregard it. As a result Grant, spent his first several weeks (not) laying on his back doing basically nothing (as newborns usually do), but instead following me around to a bunch of different Specialists and Imaging Centers. After several daunting tests it was concluded that I have severe hydronephrosis of the left kidney from a 4.4 cm Chronic Staghorn Kidney Stone. From this point on I will refer to my stone as Vernon, or Vern for short.

Vern is allegedly a silent killer. You never feel him and bam he wreaks havoc on your kidney. The only way to remove a Vern, is actual surgery through your back called PCNL I think. (Don’t ask me what it stands for) In early October we were able to schedule this surgery for Monday, November 24th. That gave me a good six or seven weeks to totally freak myself out via Dr. Google.

"Eat, Sleep, Binky"

“Eat, Sleep, Binky”

On November 5th, I had a procedure to put a nephrostomy tube in. I dreaded this procedure thanks (once again) to Dr. Google but it really wasn’t the worst. In fact the “Versed” that they use to sedate you was really quite amazing. During the procedure they drill a hole through your back to your kidney and attach a tube to drain your urine to a bag attached to your leg. Attractive right? At least it allows you to ‘make potties’ anywhere though! It hurt for about three days but by the fourth day I could pick up the kids again and go on my merry way. On Friday, November 21st, they did another procedure to get that same tube extended further into my bladder to make surgery “easier”. They were unsuccessful with the most unfortunate consequences.

Sunday morning I woke up with a pain that was so excruciating that I was pretty sure I was going to die. It, by far, trumped labor. We called the radiologist to prescribe the good drugs, which he did, but then I took my temperature and it kept going up and up. It was suggested that I get myself to the ER. (Always one of my favorite activities) After about three or so hours in the waiting room (clearly there is no triage based on pain levels because we were pretty sure the mom and daughter in the room next to us were discussing the different forms of birth control with the doctor for over an hour) they finally gave me a shot in the buns so that I could at least sit down like a normal person. They assumed I had a kidney infection and hooked me up to an IV, pumped me full of all kinds of stuff, one of which was a painkiller that immediately sent me to “la la land”. At one point a nurse even came back to check to see that I was still breathing :). Overall Sunday was a pretty bad day but the silver lining was the entertainment we got from meeting our hospitalist (no idea what that is exactly), “Dr. Murray”. He was just as, um, competent as “Chuck” was back in 2012. Luckily he passed the reigns to another doctor two days later who at least had heard of the concept of a nephrostomy tube.

I guess they can really sleep anywhere.

I guess they can really sleep anywhere.

You would think that after being admitted to the hospital and put on some pretty intense pain medication someone would sleep better than they would at home with their two-month old son. So not the case. The first two nights I was up every 45 minutes to an hour for a number of reasons. Sometimes it was to draw my blood or give me a shot (always a good way to wake up), sometimes to take my temperature. Sometimes it was a person accidentally calling my room looking for a “Walter”. Oftentimes it was the guy in the room adjacent to me (a.k.a. “the moaner”) groaning “nurse, help me, ugh, I hurt, nurse, nurse” over and over again. We all hurt dude. By the third night I had figured out how to get myself a good three hour stretch without being bothered, mostly because the moaner went home. I still can’t figure out why everyone needs to check on you at 4AM, 5AM, 6AM and 7AM and make small talk.

Seventy-two hours in and I’m pretty sure my breast milk is radioactive with the amount of antibiotics, pain meds, and anti-clotting agents that they have given me. My appetite has started to return (never a good thing when you are subjected to hospital food) and I have found out that I can walk almost anywhere as long as I take my IV stand with me. (I wonder if it would fit into Big Pearl?) Last night I took a little stroll to the cafeteria or rather “out to eat”.


The Great Hospital Escape!

I picked out a nice soup and sat at an empty table watching NCIS on TV. It was snowing on the show so I pretended that I was at a ski lodge. I guess that active imagination I gained from being an only child has served me well. Today I took a stroll with the whole family all the way to the stoplight in front of the hospital. Surprisingly, I passed by a number of doctors and nurses and no one seemed bothered by it. Maybe it is normal for a partially gowned woman to be walking the streets of Auburn towing an IV bag. Either way it was nice to get out and about, I just wonder how much they will be charging my insurance for the sunshine obtained while on hospital premises.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I know it is selfish (but hey, I am a “Self”) but I would be very thankful if they were able to release me back home and spare me whatever the cafeteria here is going to drum up and label “Thanksgiving Dinner”.   If I manage to stay fever free tonight, I am golden. Surgery has been delayed until the evening of December 9th, which means when it is all said and done I will not have showered in about a month and a half. Think about all the water I am saving the State of California! Regardless in exactly thirteen days big ‘ole Vern is going to get himself blasted into a pile of kidney rubble. I hope he suffers…horribly. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2014 at 9:27 pm 3 comments

“Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades…”

but, in my opinion, should also count with pregnancy.

This past weekend I am happy to say that we celebrated a major milestone. At thirty-seven weeks pregnant, I am technically full-term with baby “Blah Blah Blue”! In fact, according to one of last week’s many check-ups (I have about three a week at the moment), the little guy is still quite happy just where he is, kick, kick, kickin’ away at mommy’s ribcage. This is all excellent news for us, since Baby Rex was born so early.

Unfortunately, things are never really all that straightforward, particularly when it comes to the joy of childbirth. While the baby is still quite healthy, mommy has developed a bit of a “condition” which requires that little “Blah Blah” be served his eviction notice, effective this coming Friday. Oh, the irony … particularly in a state like California, where the rights of the tenant generally supersede those of the landlord.   Anyway, all I keep imagining in my overly hormonal mind, is sweet “Baby Blah Blah”, being ripped away from his comfy pint-sized home, and forced into this cold cruel world in the same way that a helpless hermit crab is yanked from his shell and forced into a more fancy, tie-dyed one, only to be sold for a couple of bucks to a bunch of teenagers, on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland. (I should know this of course, because I have been the proud owner of two said hermit crabs, “Jean-Clawed” and “Clawed-Paul”, named after my dad.) Sure, I am being a bit melodramatic, but you have to admit that this eviction thing is a little unnerving.

Rex can't wait to meet his new baby brother. He is so excited he has a death grip on that balloon, even when he sleeps.

Rex can’t wait to meet his new baby brother. He is so excited he has a death grip on that balloon, even when he sleeps.

The motive behind this early dislodgement is the fact that I have developed a rare case of obstetric cholestasis – generally found in Chileans and the Swedes, of which I am neither. (I don’t think.) Obstetric Cholestasis basically means that my liver has decided that “it” no longer wants to be pregnant. Who asked “it” anyway? I mean honestly, what does a liver even do? Isn’t it just some superfluous organ that no one really needs? Oh wait, I think that I am getting it confused with the appendix….or the tonsils. Whatever.

Anyway, while the big “O.C.” isn’t the worst thing in the world for me at the moment (aside from the fact that I itch non-stop and have little scabs all over my arms and legs that make me look like I have contracted some kind of weird skin disease) it does increase the risk to mother and baby if we were to go to forty weeks, hence the eviction. It is funny to me that for someone who is allergic to basically nothing, (except mushrooms — but that is more of a convenience thing) I seem to be highly allergic to pregnancy. I guess I should take this is a sign and uh, stop at two. (On that note, I did finally give away that bag of little girl clothes I had collected for myself (oh so long ago) to a friend who is due, with a girl, in November. So Jealous.)

Yes, this Friday night I am allegedly being induced, whatever that means. While induction was clearly not at all a part of my “birth plan”, I have come to accept it. According to Dr. Google (and yes, I know, I should stay off the Internet) the process does not sound pleasant. Aside from the Pitocin jolting you into labor when you aren’t quite ready, you also have to stay in the hospital the night before thinking about your impending doom. Clearly, this time around, I won’t be channeling my inner cow like I had originally planned, or using my “dog theory on birthing” circa Rex 2012. At least this is my second kid so my expectations on the enjoyment factor of labor are pretty low. Bring it on Pitocin. When it is all said and done, all I can hope for is a healthy, chunky, breathing-on-his-own baby boy that they quickly swaddle up and hand off to me to ogle over. Oh, and one other minute request would be that he sleep in stretches longer than forty-five minutes at a time. (Ahem, Rex!)

So all things considered, are we really ready for the new baby? At the moment I am still stuck in the mindset that “newborn and toddler” has to be easier than “toddler and pregnant”. I’m not complainin’ mind you, I cherish the time I get to spend with Baby Rex. The challenge is that over the last few weeks it has been 100+ degrees here in Sacramento, yet I am regularly summoned (at nine months pregnant) to sit on the hot sidewalk next to Rex so that we can “color”. I am always handed the “yell-yoooow” one, while Rex gets the “Booo” one. If I chose to decline, (or venture away from the color yellow) he will subsequently color the dog, the side of the house, the garbage cans and the fence. Normally I wouldn’t mind, but the dog has been really touchy lately, (which means he “potties” in the house more) so it is easier for me to just suck it up and get to drawin’ myself some lemons, bananas and a bright yellow sun. (According to Dane (Mr. Quality Control) my lemons are not anatomically correct though.)

After an adequate amount of “chalking” we will then take the tricycle for a loop around the neighborhood. Or, might I add, halfway around the neighborhood because it is then mommy’s responsibility to carry the tricycle the rest of the way so that Rex can “explore”. The pièce de résistance, is when we venture to Safeway for dinner. It is there, that if the “car cart” isn’t available, things get ugly :).   Yes, I’m happy to admit that while it will be more challenging with a newborn at times, at least I will be better equipped to bend over and scrape my kicking and screaming toddler off the floor of Safeway!

In regards to all the “stuff” that we need for the baby, we are probably set. I mean we had one just over two years ago after all. In addition, I was very lucky to have been the recipient of an amazing “Sprinkle” (I didn’t know what that was either until I Googled it), on Saturday morning whereby my friends went above and beyond in both the hosting and the gift giving. I only hope I was able to adequately thank and “hug” each and every one of them since, as many of you may already know, I am a bit of the anti-hug. (Maybe I wasn’t held enough as a child?) Post sprinkle, Dane and I spent the rest of the weekend washing clothes, blankies and car seats. The latter of which had a nice casing of cheerios, pureed sweet potato and dried milk. By Sunday night we had gotten through about 10% of our proposed checklist, which is pretty impressive by our standards.

Guess which of these two spent their first night in a big boy bed!

Guess which of these two spent their first night in a big boy bed! (Rex, not Dane :))

The most unexpected achievement from the weekend was that we got Rex to move out of his crib and into his big boy bed. To be honest, I’m not sure why we didn’t do this earlier as the kid fell asleep almost immediately, and slept until almost eight in the morning! It is like he is growing up before our eyes! Give him another few weeks and he will be learning to drive and then heading off to college. Sigh. Oh wait, I guess he first has to learn to use the potty… and talk.

While I am clearly boasting about Rex’s easy transition to the big boy bed, I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that he regressed (slightly) in regards to certain baby toys. One toy in particular, the baby bouncer/saucer, resulted in nearly thirty minutes of intense negotiations just to pry him out of it. Pictures can’t do it justice (so I posted a video below), but seeing a two-and-a-half year old bouncing up and down, shaking his head back and forth and squealing with delight, in a seat made for someone half his size is pretty funny. All I can say is that at least his feet finally touch the ground now. Go figure.

But yeah, I guess between our state of mind (been there, done that) and the piles of baby stuff we have amassed, we are as ready as we will ever be. We did finally pick out a name, but it is of course subject to change (and probably will), about fourteen more times before all is said and done.  While I have spent the week doing everything I possibly can (g-rated of course) to get myself to go into labor on my own, I figure if nothing else, the time in the hospital will give me a chance to leisurely (haha) read through the “what to do with a newborn” chapter in my book as I think I skipped right over it the last time around. Anyway, whatever happens, happens I guess and I really shouldn’t complain, since thirty-eight weeks is a pretty good showing all things considered. Granted there is still that phrase ringing through my ears that “almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”. 🙂

September 16, 2014 at 1:07 pm 5 comments

It is crunch time, and we need your help…

naming our baby. Let me explain.

While it is obvious that we do not have any issues naming our cars (“Snowflake, “Big Pearl”, and “Coalflake”), our dogs (“Myles” and “Floyd”), the lawnmower (“Jim”), or the Garter snake that has recently inhabited our pool skimmer (“Clementine”), we are regrettably at a loss when it comes to naming Baby #2. I meant honestly, how does one possibly compete with a name like Rex? Rex is a) easy to spell/say, b) can’t be mistaken for a girls name and c) allows for great nicknames like “Sexy Rexy” and “T-Rex”. By far, the most important characteristic of the name Rex, however, and as any moms of boys already know, is the fact I have never, ever dated one. 🙂

Now, of course you are probably wondering why are we choosing to utilize Social Media and the Internet to deliberate over such a momentous and significant life event? Who does that right? I mean it is kinda akin to hosting a Flip Cup Tournament and serving Costco Cake at your (okay, our) wedding.  Perhaps I just figured that since I work to sell the value of crowd-sourcing in my day job (Go Jive Software!), I oughta start practicing what I preach. (Maybe it will help to drive up our stock price?) Well, actually, our real reason stems more from the fact that since Dane and I are clearly at a standstill,  if you all don’t help us out, we will be forced to let Rex name the baby. And it should be known that at the moment he is pretty much set on the name “Blah Blah BLUE!”. (emphasis on the world “BLUE”) I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure a name like that would lead to a lifetime of, uh, challenges for the poor kid.

Judge my poor (and totally tasteless) parenting skills if you will, but just realize that while you are doing so, you should also focus on the fact that I occasionally allow my kid to get down on all fours and drink from the dog bowl (everyone deserves to be part of a pack, right?), have a sugar cookie for breakfast (don’t tell Dane), and play with the water hose while we are in the midst of a severe drought. (This one I’m not proud of, but if it gives me 5-10 minutes of peace and quiet at the end of the night, so be it) Oh, I should also add that I am a mom whose instinct it is to grab a

This was just prior to the "situation" at the petting zoo.

This was just prior to the “situation” at the petting zoo.

camera to capture the hilarious moment said (albeit sobbing) child gets bumped by a calf, trips over a goat and lands on a sheep inside of a petting zoo. (Dane insists that I point out that he did not find the whole cow/goat/sheep episode as funny as I did.) Heck, it builds character. Anyway, I figure that appealing to my Facebook friends (particularly the random girl that I met at airport three years ago and have yet to un-friend) to provide feedback on something as important as my kids’ name is par for the course in my world. I have never claimed to be much of the conventional mom type. I was, of course, raised by the infamous “Ma Self”.

So yeah, I guess at this point the cat is out of the bag. (Unless the recent purchase of “Big Pearl”, the minivan, had already given it away.) Dane and I decided to put the challenges we had welcoming Baby Rex into this world behind us, and give Rex, Myles and Floyd a little brother. (Actually, I decided it was time to give them all a little sister, but oh well, sometimes these things are beyond our control.) “Baby Boy Thompson” is due on October 3rd and hopefully no earlier this time around. Luckily it has been an uneventful pregnancy, unless you want to count a little bout of “evening sickness” one night on the shoulder of I-80 West. I think that was the first time I have “been sick” since the “ICE 101” incident oh so long ago. (Thanks Abby and Janet)

Stereotypical U/S picture to accompany a baby announcement.

Stereotypical U/S picture to accompany a baby announcement.

I am currently 31.5 weeks and the baby is already measuring the size that Rex was when he was born at 33 weeks. That means he is currently the size of a large Jicama, whatever that is. I informed my doctor that we were really hoping for a nice 7 or 8lb baby this time around and he said “me too, but I’ll remind you of that when you are in labor.”  I appreciate a doctor with good sense of humor.  Truth be told, I actually changed doctors this time around, for no other reason than just being superstitious.  (I could not part with the Quaker Oats Peanut Butter Granola Bars this time around though, too essential to my survival) While I did change doctors, I did not change Hospitals so ironically when I started my NST Testing yesterday, they put me in the exact same room that I was put in with Rex postpartum. While it is not my fondest memory of that hospital, I am happy to see that they still offer Fish Tank TV, a personal favorite of mine.

As for Rex, we like to think that he is excited. He knows where his little brother is and will sometimes pat him gently, but other times not so much.  In fact, I am often forced to stop him mid “dive bomb lil’ brother.” (Yes, that is exactly what it sounds like) In my blissful pregnant mind I have images of him being super helpful when the new baby arrives. Bringing mommy diapers and reading to little “Blah Blah Blue”. Granted, when I was pregnant with Rex, I thought that I was going to spend my maternity leave relaxing by the pool with my sweet baby boy cooing softly beside me. That clearly didn’t happen.

Here is the #1 Big Brother himself. And mommy. (4th of July)

Here is the #1 Big Brother himself. And mommy. (4th of July)

In regards to preparing for our little bundle of joy, we really haven’t done much this time around. I mean I guess the good thing about having another boy is the fact that I am saving us a ton of money. Had I found out that we were having a girl, I am pretty sure that I would have bought out every pink, princess and tulle item that I could find. Sigh.  Our only project at the moment, is to decorate what will soon become Rex’s “new room” in cars, trucks and construction equipment.  We are making a futile attempt to entice Rex out of his crib and into a “big boy bed”, but Rex just sees this new room more as his “other room”.

Sibling rivalry and introducing Rex to the new baby, is something that I know very little about — I was, after all, and only child. On the plus side, I have raised two male-ish dogs however, so I figure how hard can it be? I think my biggest challenge (apart from the name) is remembering what you do with a newborn.  I technically have never been responsible for one before as the last time I went through this, there were two to four nurses, a doctor, and a Respitory Therapist at my beckon call. Oh well, I guess that is what the Google is for. In regards to Labor, well, I watched a cow do it a couple of weeks ago at the State Fair and she wasn’t complaining. I just have to force myself to think like a cow.

And so with that, I come back to my original reason for posting. The name. Consider it your Community Service for the day. You will be sparing a boy from going through life known only as “Blah Blah BLUE”. I’ll tell you what, if you help us out, I promise that I will let you be the first to know of his arrival….you know, with a post to Facebook 🙂

August 6, 2014 at 1:46 pm 14 comments

What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

Yeah, I know, I’m a rare breed.  Not only do I know all the words from the latest Taylor Swift album, but I can also rattle off the lyrics to several Grateful Dead songs. (As well as a pretty mean rendition of “Little Bunny Foo-Foo” complete with hand gestures.)  I figure that with all that we have gone through over the last several weeks the title seemed fitting.  Oh, and speaking of the Grateful Dead, did I ever tell you that Ma Self gave me a tie-dye set for college graduation. She also gave me a lava lamp. Go figure.

But yeah, the last several weeks post surgery have definitely had their share of challenges.  Upon leaving LPCH we were immediately presented with the fact that in Chicco’s quest to create the perfect car seat they clearly neglected to do any testing on babies just heading home after heart surgery.  As a result getting Rex home safely was not an enjoyable experience.   A trip that normally takes us about two hours, took closer to four with numerous stops, many a tear (from both of us), a double dose of Children’s Tylenol (him not me), and (most importantly) two aborted trips to Panera.  By the time I pulled in our driveway I was ready to pour myself a can of “Simpler Times” but we were clean out so instead I settled for a Sprite. (Yeah, I live a wild and crazy life, I know) I think it is safe to say that our drive home was about as harrowing, if not more, as the drive I took last winter whereby I lost my left antler in a blizzard.  (Reminds me I need to reorder some replacements this season.) Oh, and for what it’s worth, those CD’s that advertise soothing music that will lull your crying baby to sleep in the car, well, they only work on the parents.

Rex’s first trip to Tahoe. He probably won’t remember it.

While the drive was one thing, Rex’s first night home was another. Dane was out of town, which I was initially fine with because my overconfident self was pretty sure Rex was going to sleep through the night after all that he had been through.  I, of course, was so totally wrong and finally came to grips with that at about four in the morning when Rex was still in prime party mode.  After a few panicked calls back to the Stanford CVICU thinking that our Rexy had to be going through some sort of morphine withdrawal or something to have so much energy, we were finally able to fall asleep around eight.  By 10AM I was at our Pediatricians office learning that Rex was perfectly fine but had managed to contract a bit of a stomach bug.  How this was possible coming from such a sterile environment at LPCH I do not know, but I have to blame Chuck because, well, why not.

The next few weeks did not see much of an improvement on the sleep front.  As a result we quickly came to grips with the fact that we were stuck in some sort of arrested development, as Rex had seemingly reverted back to a newborn once again.  (To all you parents out there who have told me to cherish this time because “it goes by so quickly”, you are welcome to come over to our place at around two in the morning to get your newborn fix, I’m happy to share)  It’s not like I’m keeping score or anything but I am pretty confident that I have not gotten more than three consecutive hours of sleep since February — and that’s on a good night.  And no, Rex doesn’t believe in naps.  Can someone please explain to me how a three-month-old baby doesn’t seem to need as much sleep as a grown adult? Argh.

The lack of sleep is taking its toll on mom and dad but has clearly not affected Rex’s ability to heal himself.  He is pushing twelve pounds, successfully passing the Maltese across the street and quickly closing in on Floyd.  His stitches are out and while he will have a significant scar we figure it will make for good “show and tell” later in life.  In other good news we are happy to report that Rex’s right testicle finally dropped as well – I’m sure he’ll love reading about this when he is older. 🙂

Rex and I continue to build our social life around repeated visits to the pediatrician, the cardiologist, and heart surgeon.  Luckily every time I take him in for a visit we are happy to learn that he does not have meningitis, malaria, swine flu or whatever other random disease we, as Internet doctors, have diagnosed him with.  Even though our Pediatrician probably thinks we are nuts, he has recommended that we put an offer down on his neighbor’s house so he can’t think too poorly of us. Although I’m not sure he would want us that close to him though given our track record.

Gone fishin’!

As for milestones, well, screw milestones, we’ve been busy concentrating on other stuff.  Rex, in fact, has determined that “milestones” are for “full termers”.  Conformists (as he calls them) who always feel the need to play by the rules and will surely go on to become Accountants and live in the suburbs with 2.5 kids and a dog.  Bo-ring.   Preemies (like himself) operate on their own timeline (quite literally).  Rebels from day one (or negative week seven in his case) they live life in an unconventional manner; wearing white after Labor Day and eating cereal with water instead of milk. (Honestly Dane, who does that?!?) Their distinctiveness has them destined for greatness as they are undeniably in good company with the likes of both Sir Winston Churchill and Anna Pavlova to name a few.  I mean honestly, that being said, there is no reason that Rex couldn’t be the next great leader of the United Kingdom (born and raised in California) or a famous Russian ballerina (who isn’t really Russian).  Clearly the world is his oyster.

We have managed to reach one milestone however that will probably surprise you. I doubt there are many full-termers or preemies out there who can check this one off their list but just last week Rex started talking, yes talking. It just so happened that during one of his (very) early morning kick sessions (when most of you were still sound asleep) that suddenly and without warning Rex came right out and spoke to me — and no, not in the way that my three imaginary friends (Sticky, Phantom and Lamar) speak to me, but with a real honest to goodness word.   Not something run of the mill like “ma-ma” or “da-da” like the millions of other kids out there but instead it was something much more um, random and complex.

I know it’s hard to tell here but trust me, this is him saying “owl”.

Yes, in the wee hours just before sunrise Rex looked at me through those big blue eyes (the only thing other than his big toe that we allegedly have in common), gave me a toothless grin and cooed (if that is what you want to call it) the word “owl” at me (pronounced “owwwwwww-wAHHHHH!”).  Take that Facebook friends; while you are busy bragging about the fact that your baby is “sleeping through the night” and/or already “rolling over” like a champ my baby (who is of course not doing any of those things) is talking away!  Not only is he saying “owl”, but if I point to his stuffed owl toy (which may actually be a chicken, not sure) and ask him what the owl says, Rex usually (okay, at least once) kicks his legs and shrieks “Hoo! Hoo!” (Pronounced “oooooooooooooo!!!!!!!ooooooo!”).  This gift for gab makes me think that we undoubtedly have ourselves a gifted preemie on our hands.  In fact it was all so impressive to me that I decided to make him the next Youtube sensation by recording him “talking”.  Unfortunately he got all camera shy on me and so after about twenty minutes of filming him sucking on “Big Orange” while I jingled the owl-chicken in front of him, I decided to throw in the towel. One can only take so much of the jingly-jangly owl-chicken.  Oh well, next time.

Anyway, the only downside (or rather upside) of all this talking was the fact that Rex gave himself a case of laryngitis — amazingly it is actually possible for a baby to lose his voice. I can’t say we didn’t enjoy every minute of it.  While at first we were kinda worried, it was hard to complain when all of a sudden that (many times a night) hungry cry, was now reduced to a pathetic whisper. If only there was a way to bottle up a case of the laryngitis and feed it to him every once and awhile we’d be all set.  While neither of us ever want our Rexy to suffer those three days of muffled cries were heavenly.

It’s now been six weeks and Rex is officially healed from his heart surgery. He is back in the gym working on his “tummy time” and as of yesterday had his fourth bath (ever). His days usually involve, waking up, eating and then his three stages of play (described here):

Stage One: Don’t touch me, I’m kickin’
Stage Two:
Mom. MOOMMMMMM!!!! C’mere and entertain me dammit. I’m bored!
Stage Three:
Feed me. No, no, no, no play with me. No, don’t touch me! Okay, cuddle me. Okay, don’t. (and so on and so forth until you finally get him to sleep)
Cycle Repeat.
Eh, at least it is some form of a schedule.

And so in conclusion I would be remiss to mention that tomorrow is our one-year wedding anniversary. (Is the first year diamonds? I can’t remember…) Instead of waxing eloquent on Facebook I will do it here.  While our first year surely had it’s fair share of trials and tribulations I feel confident that if we can survive a NICU, a CVICU and “3 West” we can survive anything. I feel lucky to have my best friend by my side through this crazy thing called life.

What a long, strange trip it’s been, huh? (Hey, nothin’ says romance like the Grateful Dead, right?)

July 15, 2012 at 9:15 pm 3 comments

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