mae wright photography 2011

(She peed on me.)

Photos taken July 3, 2011
Photographer: mae wright
Location: Breck Farms
Hazel, 32-months-old
Piper, 11-months-old


You really must love me if you read this whole thing.

So how crazy can things get? Probably crazier than they are, but here's hoping that doesn't happen.

I think the last true post I wrote (previous to all my blips during "Nathaniel's Week") was right around Piper's birthday. Okay, so it's going to take some real hard thinking and serious editing to get my timeline straight regarding all the stuff between then and now...

 About a week after Piper's party, Nate and I headed to Cannon Beach for three days away. I had planned and skimmed tips for five months to take Nate back to the Prayer Lookout in Rockaway. Karen and Stephen took care of the kiddos while we were away and it was amazing.

The weather was by far the best we've ever experienced, and so the beach was loaded down with people. That's not saying too much, though, since I have some people-free beach pictures as proof that we went to the coast. You'll just have to believe me.

People were swimming, skim boarding, trying to surf - it was awesome to watch. We just wandered and ate and wandered some more. It was a gift to be able to enjoy ourselves so completely. My budget was exactly what we needed it to be, and that was an answer to prayer! I was nervous the whole time that my calculations we're off, but nope! It was lovely. Couldn't resist calling home several times, though...

When we returned home, it was to a happy Hazel and Piper. But I quickly noticed that Hazel's little bump on her collar bone (which has been there since birth, although it started out as a divet and then popped a little head up about a year ago) had become an inflamed lump. The head was missing. It had had a little white head that she'd never noticed, so we'd just kept watching to make sure she didn't try to pick it off.

(Okay, so this next picture is of Hazel's first appointment, when she met the nurse-practitioner, Kandice. She asked to see Hazel's "bump" - I had told Hazel that the doctor would use her eyes to look at the bump at first, since Miss B. was super sensitive to too much fiddling with the bump, especially after all the BandAids that I'd had to change. In the first picture she's telling Kandice, "Now you be kind!" I love her face in the second picture - Kandice was checking her ear. She was nowhere near the bump.)

I took Miss B. to the pediatrician's office the next morning. Dr. Mooney took some pictures and sent them over to an ENT's office (Ears Nose Throat). We were referred over to another doctor at OHSU after several rounds of strong antibiotics didn't touch the infection.

At the first appointment, we were told that the size of the lump needed to diminish with yet another round of even stronger antibiotics within about five days (by the next appointment), or else. And that's never a good thing to hear. Each dose of that horrible medication that I had to feed to my little trooper was tied closely to a prayer: "Lord, help this bugger of a lump to go away completely - and thank You for giving me a kiddo with such a good attitude and strong, determined personality." Shoot, I accidentally got a bit of her powder antibiotic one day, and my stomach heaved immediately. I had to open an entire capsule of the stuff onto a spoonful of food and have her eat it all at once, four times a day. That little bit on my finger overwhelmed my mouth - I couldn't even begin to imagine how horrible and overwhelming it would be to have to swallow the entire spoonful of medicine.

Okay, so at the second appointment, there was no change in the size of the lump. I was at the appointment alone with the girls when the nurse practitioner told me that I had an emergency appointment scheduled with a surgery nurse a mile away, across OHSU. Oh, and I could walk there, following their not so careful instructions. I was a vision as I trudged across the hospital campus to Doernbecher, Piper in her carseat over one arm, dragging Hazel, and with two bags strung across my chest. It was beyond heavy. And then we went the wrong way. I went the wrong way. I was standing at a service elevator several floors away from where I needed to be when an employee had mercy on me. Not only did she give me better directions but she walked me to the right bank of elevators.

At the waiting area for the pediatric surgery ward, I blatantly ignored the "No Food!" signs and fed my hungry kiddos. While crying. I was devastated at the news that Hazel would have to have surgery, not once but twice: We needed to drain the infection from the brachial cleft sinus, let it heal, and then remove the entire thing in a future surgery. I admit, the idea of the cost was beyond what I could handle. I was totally overwhelmed.

Hazel's surgery to drain the infection was scheduled for the following Thursday, September 1st. Piper was left with my mom and dad, and we drove Hazel over to St. Vincent's in Beaverton. Yes, I had heard from the scheduling person for our doctor that my insurance covered the doc but not OHSU, so we had to utilize his permissions at St. V's for the surgery. Hazel's surgery was early in the day, so her fasting wasn't too horrible. She did so well.

She played in her little jammies for awhile and made friends with every nurse who took the time to stop and say hello. She stole someone's stethoscope - the nurses were so impressed with her avid interest in that stethoscope that they scrounged up a FisherPrice doctor set and gave it to her to take home. Piper gets her medicine every day now.

They rolled Hazel away to the operating room, and we were walked to the waiting area. I played two games of Sudoku on my phone and then her surgeon walked out and told us we could go back to see her. It took three hours to wait for the OR. It took eight minutes total to drain the sinus. And then it took 45 minutes for Hazel to come out of the anesthesia enough to stop trying to kill Nate and I. What a weird day.

The kid tried so hard to play like normal when we got back home, but we had to keep her on the couch. Every time she escaped us successfully, she'd try to run away and end up meandering some sort of tipsy turvy path. That night was the first time she fell out of her big girl bed. We heard a thud but nothing else, so Nate decided to go check on the girls. I listened in at the baby monitor as he walked into their room.
N: Whaddid you do?
H: I fell outta my bed.
N: What happened?
H: I just, I just fell outta my bed. Teddy bear, I fell out of my bed.
N: Are you okay?
H: Yeah...Alice, I fell outta my bed. Wabbit, I fell outta my bed. I'm okay, Daddy. Piper, I fell outta my bed.

She told everyone and everything in her room that she fell out of bed. But she was fine! Nate tucked her back into her bed and she knocked out again!

And this is now where my timeline wanders. We were at the beach August 12-14, and then we house-sat for Richard and Liz beginning August 27th. The surgery for Hazel landed in the middle of house-sitting.

On August 27th, we loaded up our cars and headed to Richard and Liz's, where we house-sat while they were in Hawaii. It was lovely, so lovely to stretch our legs and spread out a little. I took the time away from the Great Room as an opportunity to pack it up for our pending move back to the old neighborhood (the one we were in before the move to the Great Room). (And I don't know if I should capitalize Great Room, but I totally am - it deserves a proper name.)

 We balanced out our days in Sandy by driving into Happy Valley often to pack. Each time we'd arrive at Rick and Karen's house, Hazel would start shrieking, "I don't want to be here! I don't want to go downstairs! I'll play upstairs, but not downstairs! No no no!" It was awesome.

I packed what I could around meals and naps, but the majority of packing happened the night before we moved. On Friday night, September 9th, I worked from 2pm-10pm and then stopped by the Great Room to finish it up. Nate was still there when I arrived. Which meant the girls were still there. Piper was sleeping, Hazel was sitting at the top of the world, trying to sleep in Grandma and Grandpa's bed. (It was not working.) Nate and Karen were pulling all the stuff out of the attic that we'd had to stash in there. Rick was in the hospital at this time, dealing with a staph infection. It was amazing timing that he was in the hospital then, because he didn't have to be witness to all our stuff and he wasn't then limited in his movements by us setting all our boxes from the attic in the living room. Don't get me wrong: It was bad bad bad that he had a staph infection. He's doing much better now, by the way.

I finished around 3am. Too tuckered to move, I bypassed cleaning the new house on the way home and just drove straight out to Sandy (I still regret that decision). I fell into bed around 4am, and was woken up by the girls around 7:30am. When I tripped my way downstairs (seriously, but not) I found that my most amazing husband had picked up Joe's Donuts (and the world should know by now that that's the way to this girl's heart) for the movers, and stopped back by the house to leave a couple for Hazel and I to munch on for breakfast.

I didn't have childcare help until about 2pm, so I loaded the girls up in my car and ventured over to the Great Room to oversee some loading and help with lunch preparation. I really didn't do anything, though. Aunt Nancy did all the food stuff - I stood in the way and talked too much.

Movers arrived at I don't remember what time, straight from loading up the storage unit. We ate and then they hopped back to it. We were so blessed by all the bodies that showed up to help us move. It was miles from what our last move had been like. We had ten people helping. And that's the only way our extra involved move was successfully completed in just a short 11 hours. (I seriously can't believe it even took that long.)

We fed people breakfast, lunch, and then dinner (for the few who helped us really wrap it all up at the end of Saturday). So on Sunday I worked again, but swung by the house on my way back to Sandy (where we were still house-sitting for another four days) to put beds together. My most awesome brother-in-law Stephen showed up to help me! I think he just wanted his shoes, but he made the mistake of offering to help me. I handed him some tools and he put together Piper's crib, Hazel's bed, and helped me put the headboard on our bed frame. I buried myself in boxes and newspaper in the kitchen, just trying to make some semblance of order from the chaos. Unpacking is like Christmas for me. I really love it...for the first two days. After that it becomes like those super extended family get-togethers that happen a month after Christmas, and you're wondering why you don't just call it what it is: a President's Day family potluck.

We didn't immediately take residence in the new house. We finished up house-sitting for Richard and Liz, so that carried us through the following Tuesday. By Tuesday evening we were exhausted and ready to be in bed. Dinner time came and went, bedtime came and went, and still we were cleaning the house and loading our cars. At 8:30pm, we finally left for our new house.

So Wednesday, September 14th, we began our new phase of life: I fondly refer to this season as, "Non Basement Living." We are beyond blessed to be here, and still so glad for the lessons we learned while living in the Great Room. I do not say that tongue-in-cheek. I truly mean it. I'm sure I blogged this before, but awhile back Nate and I had a very revealing conversation while we were sitting on our bed in the Great Room, eating dinner. He looked at me and said, "I know this is almost the toughest thing we've ever done, but this is the happiest I've ever been." I was shocked. And touched. I'm so lucky to have a partner who takes on the hard times like a personal challenge, and walks away with such amazing grace, generosity, and humor. He has caught me when I've stumbled, and he has yet to flay me alive for stupid mistakes I've made (for example, hitting a tree in our new driveway with his truck - but that's a story for another time).

So here we are, happily planting our feet, and feeling blessed to be given so much. We have a full pantry, lots of space to live and play, working cars, jobs, our kiddos, our families, our marriage, our faith...This is beyond good.

I feel like we really are taking root here. It's the small things for me. We hung the curtains and it felt like this suddenly truly became our house. I made banana bread muffins, and that did it too. We're already making memories here. It's so very nice. We don't know what God has in store for us, but we're whole heartedly praying for His blessings to be heaped upon our little family. Things are shifting and changes might be fast approaching - I'll have to keep you posted. I promise, I will. Just pray for us in the meantime. We're in His hands, and we're so glad that we are. Cheesy? Maybe. Totally true? Yes.



In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on. 
  - Robert Frost



Do not judge the bereaved mother.
She comes in many forms.
She is breathing, but she is dying.
She may look young, but inside she has become ancient.
She smiles, but her heart sobs.
She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS,
but she IS NOT, all at once.
She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.”
                                     –Author Unknown



We thought of you with love today,
but that is nothing new.
We thought about you yesterday,
and the day before that, too.
We think of you in silence,
We often say your name,
But all we have is memories
and your picture in a frame.
Your memory is our keepsake,
with which we’ll never part.
God has you in his keeping,
We have you in our hearts.
We shed tears for what might have been,
a million times we’ve cried.
If love alone could have saved you,
you never would have died.
In life we loved you dearly,
in death we  love you still,
In our hearts you hold a place
no one could ever fill.
It broke our hearts to lose you,
but you didn’t go alone,
For part of us went with you.
                – Author Unknown



A thousand words can’t bring you back,
I know because I tried;
And neither can a million tears
I know because I cried.
~Author Unknown



There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we
don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t 
live without but haveto let go. 
-  Author Unknown



It must be very difficult
To be a man in grief,
Since “men don’t cry”
and “men are strong.”
No tears can bring relief.
It must be very difficult
To stand up to the test,
And field the calls and visitors
So she can get some rest.
They always ask if she’s all right
And what she is going through.
But seldom do they take his hand,
“My friend, but how are you?”
He hears her crying in the night
And thinks his heart will break.
He dries her tears and comforts her,
But “stays strong” for her sake.
It must be very difficult
To start each day anew
And try to be so very brave -
He lost his baby, too.
(Author Unknown)



When you come to the edge of all the light you know and are about to 
step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of 
two things will happen:  There will be something solid to stand on 
or you will be taught to fly.  
Author Unknown



I am drawn quietly to his grave to check on him,
Just as I’d have been drawn quietly to his crib.
I trim the grass around his marker,
And dream of trimming bangs from his forehead.
I place flowers in his vase,
And dream of placing kisses on his check.
I hold his memory dear to my heart,
And dream of holding him in my arms.
                                                             -   Author unknown



The mention of my child’s name may bring tears to my eyes,
But it never fails to bring music to my ears.
If you are really my friend, let me hear the beautiful music of his name.
It soothes my broken heart and sings to my soul.  
                                            – Author Unknown

There is only one thing worse than speaking ill of the dead –
and that is not speaking of the dead at all.
                              — Anonymous



Making the decision to have a child is momentous. 
It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. 
 - Elizabeth Stone


Ah, Piper Sue...

Piper turned one on August 6th, and I can hardly believe it! Where oh where did the last year go? Seriously. I'm lost. The ten months we've lived in the Great Room have indeed flown by, praise God. And now it's time to move on - or, as my MIL Karen put it the other day, we're way beyond that time. Moving is going to be just the thing our little family needs!

So Piper's first birthday party was on Sunday the 7th. I worked Friday night, Saturday morning (followed closely by my ten year high school reunion - crap, I'm old), and Sunday morning. My weekend was packed, so as we got closer to the party, I worked hardest at maintaining my reason and logic: If the chocolate covered pretzels didn't materialize, the end of the world was not near.

With the oatmeal intolerance that came to light the week before (read on - I'll fill in that little detail at the end of this post), we decided that Piper would have a gluten-free cupcake, even though we already had a beautiful, gluten-full birthday cake in the process of being made.

The morning of the party, I finished work around 11a.m., and then whizzed home to change and box up all the stuff I would need to take over to Mom and Dad's for the party. Nate had the girls lunched, dressed for naps, and in the car before I could even say, "See you in a bit." He took them to Mom and Dad's to nap while we finished setting up for the party. I ran a couple errands, and then Nate called and convinced me to get to the house so that he could finish the errands.

When I got to Mom and Dad's, I began working on the cheeseball, veggie tray, etc. A co-worker from Starbucks came over and put the cake layers together and decorated the cake per the picture I had found in a Martha Stewart party book. The cake concept fit unbelievably well with the birds/nests theme I seem to always carry throughout my home and celebrations.

People began arriving exactly on time! I was late. Totally. I kept racing things out to the table on the back deck and then dodging back into the kitchen for more last minute touches. So not cool. I felt terrible. While I was doing that, Nate got the girls up and dressed and party presentable. (He even remembered their headbands - I have the best husband in the whole world!)

Piper took a look at all the people looking back at her and she began to cry. It was too funny. Hazel is such a little entertainer; Piper seems to be more modest, or timid maybe. I'm not sure. It took some time, but eventually she chippered up and began to chat with people.

When it was time for her to eat her cake, we stuck her in her bumbo chair, attached the tray, and presented her with her GF red velvet cupcake from New Seasons. She immediately pinched some frosting between her fingers and stuck it in her mouth very thoughtfully. It took .09 seconds for her to realize the cupcake was like a dream come true. She began shoveling it into her mouth with fervor.

Her sugar high carried for her a bit, and then she needed her bottle to cool down. Tutu took care of that. Tutu also gave her a bath to clean off all the red velvet (thank you, red dye #40).

Piper's first birthday was such a wonderful celebration! And so timely! She kicked C.diff's butt to the curb (with the help of her 10-day antibiotic & probiotic regimens); she began to focus on her motor skills, army crawling and scooting everywhere, pulling herself up on things; her weight skyrocketed up by two pounds in just under two weeks; she's chatting up a storm, pointing her little fingers and asking something akin to, "Whazzat?!" about everything. We had so much to celebrate with her.

And today I put her in some 12-month clothing. It fit! She is lengthening, and we see her chunking out in her face. Miss Pumpkin Pie is doing some serious growing!

A day after we got the news that she was over her C.diff, totally in the clear, I fed her some oatmeal (about 1.5 Tablespoons worth mixed with formula) and she threw it up about three hours later (same time frame as when she threw up awhile back). It was her first oatmeal since the ER visit. A little light went on in my head: "AHH! Oatmeal is a problem for her!" I called her pediatrician as soon as she tossed up her food and we decided that she's at least intolerant of oatmeal. We have no idea how far that extends, but we'll begin investigating when she's a little older. In the meantime, she won't be getting any food with flour in it. I make all her foods (fruits, veggies, proteins), so I'm able to be careful with her diet.

With the move about four weeks away, we have so much hope, joy, and anticipation. And gratefulness. I look back over where we've been, and at what God has carried us through, and I'm filled with an acute awareness of His daily presence in our lives. He steadily and surely walks with our little family.

We're headed over to house-sit for Uncle Richard in about two weeks - and then we begin to pack up our Great Room! This next month is going to fly by, I think.