May 7 2010

Isaac Update – May 7, 2010

Angie and I talked to the orthopedic surgeon today. He said that “if you are going to have a spinal column abnormality, this is the one that you want.” We will have to monitor it, especially through his first two years and his teenage years where the two major growth spurts occur. We will also have to get Isaac a renal ultrasound and have a heart person listen to his heart at some point in the next two weeks, and set up a follow-up appointment with him for sometime later. I would note that I’ve asked the docs about his urine output, both yesterday and today, and they have said that it’s normal.

The fused ribs formed due to the fact that one side of the vertebrae did not form, so there was no place for it to join to the column. Therefore, the vertebrae that would have connected to the missing side of the vertebrae has, instead, joined the vertebrae above. The doctor doesn’t think this will be an issue. If at some point the hemivertebrae leads to significant curvature, he would do a small fusion rather than trying to remove the hemivertebrae, as this is the wisest approach at the place in the column where it’s located. My takeaway from today’s meeting was that the doctor was trying to impress the idea upon us that we are in a (relatively) good place, and that the hemivertebrae can be dealt with successfully. This is a relief.

Isaac nursed twice today. Angie has been doing a wonderful job pumping. She still has not caught up on her sleep, so there will be some feedings missed. The docs wanted to know whether we would rather they insert a new IV (assuming the one that is in fails at some point), or supplement with formula. We indicated that we’d rather go the formula route. Isaacs been stuck enough.

I told the nurse responsible for Isaac that I’d bought a two week parking pass, and asked her if that would be enough to get us to the point where he is released to come home. She said “maybe”. So, he’ll be in the NICU for a bit. He will, as all babies do, loose some weight over the course of the next couple of days. My assumption is that they will want to make sure that he’s gaining weight solely through breast feeding before he’s released.

Isaac’s early arrival means that we’ll have to get some things organized at home earlier than we’d planned. The most pressing issue is that Gracie now sleeps (or at least starts to sleep) in her crib. This will be where Isaac sleeps when he comes home. I’m now washing everything that needs to be cleaned so that Gracie can begin to sleep in her room upstairs. My plan is to try to get her acclimated to this new sleeping arrangement over the course of the next several days. It will not be easy. She spends most of her time in our bed, and this cannot continue.

Thanks again to everyone, especially those who’s uplifting comments that I have not necessarily responded to, but have read, on Facebook.

Peace.


May 6 2010

Isaac Andrew is Born

Isaac Andrew is Born

I wanted to give everyone a not-so-brief update on Isaac, who was born six weeks early on May 5, 2010 at 1:12 pm. He weighed 5 lbs 2 oz and was 18.5 inches long. Initially, his breathing was very good, but he got tired. So, the doctors inserted a breathing tube and gave him a dose of surfactant. He was then transported via ambulance to Akron Children’s Hospital. He arrived at around 4 pm and was off the breathing tube by 11 pm, breathing on his own very well. I returned to Akron General to spend the night with Angie.

Around 9 o’clock this morning I participated in “rounds” as the doctor and three residents made their way around the NICU unit at Akron Children’s. Isaac’s report was very good, and the doctor and I began talking a bit about how long he might stay, and where Angie would stay once she was released (assuming Isaac had to stay longer). She called Akron General to see if there was room for Isaac to return. At this point, I was feeling very good, as I knew she wouldn’t be sending him back to the other hospital unless she felt like the lung problems (and associated heart and brain problems) had been avoided.

However, the doctor on the other end of the line asked her to show me Isaac’s x-rays.

The resident brought the image up, and the doctor proceeded to show me two areas of concern. Two of Isaac’s ribs come together, just before connecting to the spinal column. More importantly, the doctor believes that he has a hemivertebrae, essentially a vertebrae in which only half was formed, leaving a “wedge”. The residents (and doctor) informed me that we would have to have a conversation with an orthopedist in the next day or two. My take away from this conversation was that this could be a problem, but that it was something that would have to be monitored over time (through the teenage years).

After doing some research, I’ve found that hemivertebrae presents itself in a variety of ways. Isaac has one (from what I can tell from my view of the image and the way the doctors talked), which is good. One concern with multiple hemivertebrae is that they provide greater opportunity to lead to curvature of the spine (congenital scoliosis) and instability.

The prognosis for isolated anomalies is fairly good. (Casey says that he sees a fair amount of individuals who present with this condition, yet were never diagnosed until the visit him at some point adolescence.) 25% of patients show no progression, 50% progress slowly, and 25% progress rapidly. Part of what determines the effect of such a condition is the degree to which adjacent vertebrae “fill” the void left by the missing half of the hemivertebrae. I looked at Isaac’s scan for about three minutes, much of this time flustered hearing the news, but there was no apparent curvature. Only what looked like a misaligned vertebrae. This could mean that the half missing, assuming the neonatologists assessment is correct, runs parallel to the scan. Or, it could mean that additional (bone) tissue grew to fill the void.

A second concern is that hemivertebrae can be associated with both cardiac and genitourinary tract anomalies. Isaac’s urine output has been slightly low, but I did witness a bowel movement this morning. The doctor pointed to the fact that all of “his tubes” were inserted without complications as a good sign. Additionally, we are provided some comfort in knowing that a full range of tests and scans were done throughout the pregnancy, and no concerns were raised.

I’m not sure about the ribs, as the doctors suggested that this was not of great concern, but some of what I have read is a bit scary. My guess is that because they join so close to the vertebrae, they do not possess the potential to constrict lung development (the primary complication). This is a question that we will have to ask the orthopedist.

The neonatologist says that this was found “serendipitously”, meaning that the likelihood of severe associated conditions is unlikely. The most conservative course of action for hemivertebrae is surgery early, often times prior to 18 months of age. Often, the purpose of the surgery, for isolated hemivertebrae, is to remove it, resulting in near complete alignment of the spine.

They will run the full gamut of tests tomorrow morning, to check for any other areas of concern. We will talk to the orthopedist as well.

Angie and I have a choice in terms of how we view this. Nothing would have been found if Isaac was not in respiratory distress, which necessitated the taking of x-rays. This means that we have caught things early, and thus have the best opportunity to solve problems successfully and to minimize the extent (and number) of any surgery that has to occur. Isaac is in a great hospital, with competent, confident, and skilled doctors; individuals that will provide the greatest opportunity in terms of any course of action that must be taken.

Much of what I’ve written here is formed from extrapolation, synthesis, and deduction, and is based on what the doctors have said, how they’ve said it, and what I’ve read over the past twelve hours. Some, even a lot, of it may be wrong. I will let everyone know what we find out tomorrow.

Thank you to mom and dad who’ve done whatever we’ve asked, specifically helping watch the kids. Thank you to Dorothy and Joe, who certainly (and noticeably) put Angie’s mind at ease this evening. Thank you to Casey, who’s answered all of my questions honestly, precisely, and all the while never making me feel like I was “bugging him”. Thank you Laurie for watching Gracie today. Most of all, thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Please continue to keep Isaac in mind. We are all connected and I firmly believe in the power of this sort of collective good will.

Images of the little guy can be found here. He’s beautiful.


Dec 26 2009

Christmas 2009

As I write this, the boys are up trying to figure out which presents are theirs, and Gracie is having a bottle with mommy, who is desperately trying to sleep. (I would have giving Gracie the bottle, but she wanted mommy.) It’s Christmas morning in the Cerniglia house, and it’s been quite a year. We lost papa, we bought a house, Jude started kindergarten, I got promoted, we went to Disney World, and Gracie started to talk. So much good, and a little bit of sad.

Jude has adjusted well to kindergarten. He enjoys his new friends, so much so that sometimes he ends up talking to them during class, which can be a problem. He has begun to learn how to read, working on both “site words” and phonics. School seems to wear him out a lot more than pre-school. There’s no nap, and sometimes I think he could still use one. Often times, he gets plain ridiculous at around 7 pm, and it’s all we can do to get to bedtime. Jude’s very perceptive, sometimes surprisingly so, and he asks a lot of questions (this is a good thing), and has a big heart.

The fact that Noah now goes to pre-school himself, and that he’s in the older of the two groups has contributed to his becoming a bit more independent and confident. He certainly loves being at school. I think it’s safe to say that he brings home more creations than any other student. Sometimes, these are not even items that he has created, rather ones that he has begged one of the teachers to make for him. He’s very quick, picking up on things at times when he appears to not be paying attention. He likes to jump and play, and he can be very dramatic, especially when there is something that he wants.

The boys get along very well. The fact that they are now separated for the majority of the day has been good for both of them, but their closeness is apparent when they come home. They play together a lot, often times concocting some sort of fantastical situation for which they must create the characters, plot and (of course) the sound effects. They had their first experience with outdoor soccer this year, as we moved Fredericksburg soccer (what we had always called it, anyway) up to the high school. They had a great time. A typical performance might include Jude critiquing players technique and Noah diving to covering up the ball when he was unable to retrieve it in the traditional way.

Gracie has become exceptionally verbal. I don’t know if it’s me, or because she’s my kid and my perception is skewed, but she can talk. The babysitter has started to teach her (informally) some dutch. I don’t know if this is a contributing factor, but I think her ability to communicate is top notch. She actually told Angie, while in the doctor’s office that she “whats to go home” (she’s no dummy). This was at 16 months. She gets around real good as well. Stairs are not an issue, other than for mommy and daddy who still are not comfortable with her motoring up and down them “for fun”. Her favorite things? Horses, bags, and babies, and small electronic devices. The most amazing thing, for me, about Gracie is how often she wants “daddy”. Yes, that makes me feel good…

Angie has had a good year as well. Work is work, some days are better than others, and the hours are long. She enjoys spending time with the kids and likes finally having a house. Some nights we even get to have dinner together. The fact that we are expecting our fourth child in June means that she’s tired a lot. This doesn’t stop her from sometimes turning off the light after the midnight hour due to her desire to “just finish this chapter” in some book that she’s reading on her Kindle. As an aside, that Kindle is definitely the best gift that she almost returned, but that I made her try (if you can follow that).

My year was dominated by house renovations and a new job. We tore out all of the flooring in the house after we completed the sale, and I spent the summer putting in bamboo and tile floors. I had a lot of help from a couple of former soccer players, and a classmate from high school. As it stands right now, we’re probably 95% of the way done. There are still some loose ends, but I plan on getting to ‘em sometime this winter. I’ve put the Ph.D. program on hold ‘till the summer, as I still need to do exams and the dissertation. I’ve started working on an alternative Principal certification through Hamilton County (Cincinnati area) Educational Service Center. I’ve also been moved from the Dean of Students, as position that I held for just over a year, to a supervisory role. This means that I have longer hours and my contract is for 240 days rather than the 180 or so typical of a teacher’s salary.

Angie and I are blessed in so many ways, most notably by the love and support of our extended family. Both of our parents help whenever needed. With both of us working and three (soon to be four) kids, our lives as we know them would not be possible without their help. Dad picks Jude up every day from school, and takes him around half the time. Mom watched the boys at school sometimes during soccer season. Dorothy and Joe make room for the kids whenever we ask. Our siblings, Charles and Laurie, Dave and Kristi, help as well. We are indebted to Josh and Laryssa, who were kind enough to take our entire family to Disney World with them. What a trip. We are blessed with healthy children, who are naturally curious and like to learn. We have a house in the woods and are able to pay our bills. We hope all of you feel as blessed and full of love as we do this Holiday season.

Peace.


Apr 12 2009

It’s Been a While

Hartzler House

Many of the photo galleries have been updated this evening. It’s been rather difficult to stay up-to-date due to the workload that I’ve been carrying; specifically work related to the doctoral program and trying to put together a house plan that would work financially. Since the last posting, a lot has happened. Noah has turned four, Jude has been through his kindergarten screening, our family went to a Cavs (versus Spurs) game, everyone from New York (both sides of the family) have came in this weekend for Charlotte’s baptism and Easter, and we have agreed to purchase a different property rather than build a house. Wow! So much has transpired that I will not be able to do justice to the true breadth of events here, but I can at least give a brief synopsis.

Noah’s birthday went well. Angie made a wonderful (alligator) cake (images of which can be viewed in Noah’s gallery). Uncle Ray was around that weekend and ended up getting Noah a gift that he and Jude have played with more than any other, a space shuttle type apparatus that can be taken apart and put together in a multitude of ways. (This is the sort of thing I couldn’t have quantified if I had posted on time…) There are also some nice pictures from Dad’s birthday party in February.

Jude’s kindergarten screening went rather well, I though (of course, I’m his dad…) The most memorable parts were the fact that Jude, when as a group the kids were to put the right colored crayon in a ziplock bag, continuously and repeatedly made sure (loudly) that the teacher knew that he had “one of those colored crayons”. Naturally, each child had the same colored crayons, but Jude wasn’t really aware of this reality…The other memorable tidbit was that when asked to point out his knee by one of the assessors, rather than pointing at the joint, Jue went into a rather long explanation of how he had tripped earlier in the day an hurt it (his knee). Lastly, when asked to state his middle name, Jude told the teacher that he didn’t know, but that he’d come back tomorrow with the answer…kinda’ funny.

The Cavs game happened more recently. We ended up having seats right next to Todd, one of the other pharmacists with whom Angie works. We were lucky in that the Cavs had lost two in a row (for the first time all season I believe) and therefore were very intense. The Spurs are a good team, but the Cavs took the apart. Since we arrived early, and since our group (Todd and his family arrived around the same time) was rather large, we ended up serving as a backdrop for some of the pre-game festivities. I had the camera and snapped some pictures of Gracie, Mommy, and the boys on the Jumbo-tron.

We also have celebrated Grandpa’s birthday recently. Unluckily, grandpa god sick the day of the party. But, he’s feeling better now (three days later) which is reassuring. Much of the time at grandpa’s party was spent visiting, as everyone from New York (Ellen, Anthony, Scarlett, Lawrence, and Laura Jeanne) were home, and Dorothy and Casey came down as well. It was a good time, and the kids have continued to visit both yesterday and today.

Both Jenny and Theresa came home for Easter as well. Josh, Laryssa, Max, William, and Ellise also came up from Columbus. We spent this afternoon at the Lackman’s coloring eggs and catching up. We’ll probably see them tomorrow as well, after Charlotte gets baptized. Theresa had a big day today, as her and Josh drove (back, in Josh’s case) down to Columbus and she purchased a brand new turbo diesel VW Jetta. What a beautiful car, I miss mine.

And then there’s the land. I had spent a good part of the first three months of this year pulling together contractors and putting together an estimate to build a timber frame home. We knew that the key to us getting approved was not going to be our gross income, but the loan-to-appraised value ration. But, before we had found out the result of the appraisal, I noticed that someone had purchase the piece of land that sits next to Charles’s and ours. He was timbering it and burning some of the limbs. I stopped, mostly because I wanted to be sure that he was on his property and not ours.

Through the course of our conversation, the young amish man mentioned that our neighbor had offered to sell him his house and land for a set price. He also told me that this individual had indicated that he had talked to an auctioneer and was planning on selling his property (25 acres in total) in three parcels, on of which would abut our property. This was problematic in that I really had always loved that piece of land and I wasn’t really enthused to have a driveway running the length of our parcel.

I ended up deciding to try to get in touch with the owner because of this concern. In the end, we decided that purchasing his home and acreage would be a better deal for us. Today, after roughly 3.5 minutes of negotiation, we agreed upon a price. I’m hoping that my calculations based on numbers pulled from the auditors Web site, and some fancy extrapolation are accurate. If they are, we did real well. If they aren’t, then I’ve learned a second painful lesson. Regardless, we love the property, and feel confident that we can make changes to the house that will make it our own.


Jan 18 2009

And Everyone Got Sick

We’ve made it through that unpleasant event of having a sickness passed around from one family member to another. After our sledding and snowman-making morning of last week, Jude and Noah began to get sick. First, it was a cough but it progressed steadily until they both had fevers, Jude’s worse than Noah’s and had to stay home from school. I stayed home with them on Monday and then on Tuesday Angie got the first part of the day off and brought them to see the doctor. As it turned out, Jude and Gracie were put on antibiotics, as Jude also was diagnosed with Pink Eye in his right eye (fun, fun…).

Noah somehow avoided getting seriously sick. Well, then on Thursday morning, after several nights of having various kids sleep for periods of time in our bed, Angie and I started to feel sick as well. Neither of us had to go see the doctor, but I’m just beginning to feel normal again today (Sunday) and Angie is still under the weather. Gracie was proscribed antibiotics twice daily, and it’s an event we both dread. She had an aversion to the stuff, and it generally requires our having to force her to open her mouth and swallow.

Angie was a champ this morning. She woke up and made cinnamon roles (for breakfast) and cupcakes (for later) for Noah. What a girl. She then had to head to work, so we’ll finish decorating the cupcakes when she returns. I will post more after our little party tonight. We’re just doing the family thing tonight for Noah, then we’ll have a bigger party with both sides of the family next weekend.


Jan 11 2009

Jude and Noah’s First Snowman

Jude and Noah's first snowman

Jude, Noah, and I went sledding yesterday. We had been waiting for some real snow to head our way, and we’re lucky enough to catch some on a weekend. Angie coordinated a plan; I brought home the boys snowpants from school, and she purchased sleds from WalMart Friday night before she came home. After swapping a loaner for our car at the Ford dealership early Saturday morning, we bundled up and headed towards the hills.

Noah was much better about climbing the hill than he was last year, which was a bit of a relief as carrying him up the hill is a bit tiring. We started out on the same section of the hill that we frequented last year. But, after around twenty minutes or so, we decided to shift to a different area of the hill, bigger of course. I made a trail and then the boys went down a couple of times. However, as is often the case with me, I felt the need to change it up a bit to keep things interesting.

Angie purchased two circular sleds, one red and the other blue. Jude has a red coat, Noah a blue one. So, I plopped by bum down on the red sled, placed my legs in front of me onto the blue sled, had Jude stand up on the red sled and hold onto my shoulders while Noah sat between my legs in front. Noah pretended that he was Thomas and Jude was the caboose. My job was to steer and create the sound effects. After a couple of rather long trips back up the hill, we decided to head in.

Noah insisted that we make a snowball before we left, so I started to make one. The snow was perfect for packing and so I asked the boys if they’d like to make a snowman (they’ve been watching a cartoon version of Frosty the Snowman over and over for the last couple of weeks) and they agreed. We ended up making a pretty big snowman, their first and my first in ages. We used small pieces of pine for his “bushy eyes”, a pine cone for his nose, and sticks for his crooked smile and arms.

After finishing, Noah insisted that we “dance around Frosty”. Jude wasn’t interested, but I gave in and made a fool of myself. Good thing that we built the snowman in the back of the house. I’m pretty sure the only people who saw me were the boys. I hope anyway. I snapped the picture just before we went in.


Jan 7 2009

Jude and Noah’s First Soccer Practice

Jude and Noah's First Soccer Practice

Jude and Noah had their first “soccer practice” last evening at Acres of Fun in Wooster. Angie didn’t have to work, so she picked up the boys after naps and met soon after I was finished at the Career Center. We headed up to the Lodi Outlets to look for some soccer shoes for the boys. It turns out that the Adidas outlet had a decent selection of shoes, but the smallest size that they carried was eleven. We got two pairs of cheepies for the boys, and some clothing for Angie and myself, then headed back towards Wooster.

Both Jude and Noah got very excited when they entered the building and saw the turf. We changed in the bathroom then headed back to the field. The coaches, two middle-aged women, put the kids through their paces. They did some stretching, some dribbling, and some ball skills. The focus of the night was “no hands” and “keeping the ball close” when dribbling. The “no hands” rule was observed by pretty much everyone; the “keeping the ball close” rule was more problematic. However, it was nice to see Jude and Noah be so comfortable dribbling.

I was especially impressed with Jude’s overall ability in terms of dribbling and controlling the ball. I was equally impressed with Noah’s athletic ability, as he tends to lift his knees abnormally high when he runs, making him faster than he would otherwise be. The evening ended with a game in which half of the kids had scrimmage vests tucked into their shorts while the others tried to capture these by chasing them down. Both of the boys were visibly exhausted afterwards, and were quite cranky for the remainder of the evening.

In preparing for the evening, Angie had put together a bag of athletic type clothes for the boys to change into after school. I advised (unwisely) to include shorts and then, even more absent-mindedly, did not put the sweats back over the shorts when I had them get ready for practice. So Noah, who tends to jump around and fall a lot, ended up with some minor strawberries which were especially painful in the shower afterwards.

Unfortunately, I will be starting coursework again in two weeks, and those days correspond to the days in which Jude and Noah have soccer. Angie will be able to bring them once every three weeks, but I’m hoping that Dad or Mom will be able to help out on the other nights. I didn’t realize that this was going to be a problem until after I signed the boys up for the classes.

For our family and friends, some photos of Jude and Noah at their first ever soccer practice have been added to the gallery.


Jan 2 2009

Christmas 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

Well, Angie and I didn’t get Christmas cards out this year. You might want to get used to that…My sense is that we’re not going to be very good about that sort of thing, although, you never know. We very much enjoyed the cards that we received, especially those that included images of everyone’s families.

We had a good Christmas break. The boys were showered with gifts, including one XO laptop each (from Santa). Our family spent the majority of time either at my parents or at Angie’s parents. Angie had to work a lot, so she saw everyone a little less than last year.

The family went to the five o’ clock mass on Christmas Eve. We arrived around 45 minutes early, then struggled to save seats for Mom, Dad, Lawrence, and Will (Lawrence’s friend from COW). The showed up about five minutes before mass began, just as Father Steve came out as asked Jude and Noah to participate in the processional. Noah carried the ceramic baby Jesus around the parameter of the church and up to the alter. He then handed it to Jude who placed the figurine into the manger. Father Steve then mentioned the boys during his homily, indicating that I has sort of threatened them, essentially saying that if they dropped the baby Jesus, they would ruin everyone’s evening. After mass, Lawrence and Will came back to the Lackman’s with us. It ended up being a real nice evening.

Christmas went well. The boys woke up around 8:30 and we opened gifts soon after. The big evening at mom and dad’s was later in the week, on the 27th. The kids got together and bought them a new set of flatware, which I think mom really liked. We used it later in the week. Each of the families with kids (Angie and I, Charles and Laurie, and Anthony and Ellen) also exchanged gifts for each other’s children.

Christmas and Larry and Jeanne's

New Years Eve was spent at Lackman’s as well, up until around 11:00 PM, at which point Angie, Grace, the boys and I returned home. Midnight arrived as Angie worked through reading her latest novel (on her Kindle) and I spent time examining software on the web (typical evening). We had a real nice time New Years Day at mom and dad’s. Charles, Laurie and Charlotte came over as well and we all made and ate pizza while the boys mostly watched the Cartoon Network.

I spent a lot of break trying to get started on putting together a team of contractors who might be able to work together to build our house, which we hope to start around the first of June. I’ve made good progress, but we won’t know anything until the bids start coming in and we see if we can afford what we’d like to do. And now we are getting ready to get back into the rhythm of things, probably later than most of you who’ve already started working this new year. To be fair Angie has already done so, it’s Jude, Noah, and I who’ve been taking it easy and now have to adjust rather quickly to waking up and getting out of the house early again.


Nov 17 2008

Three Birthdays and a Trip to the Farm

Jude blows out his candles

Well, needless to say I’ve been busy. Since I’ve last posted we’ve had several birthday parties, Sophia’s, Jude’s, and Kailynn’s. The family also visited Ramseyer’s farm, which is sort of a celebration of Autumn. I’m working on putting together a combination of all of the best images we’ve taken since we got the new camera (late fall, 2006) but it’s taking a while. Hopefully I’ll have that up by Christmas.

School is taking up a lot of time. Both schools really. My new job at the Career Center takes up much more time than teaching, and I have little freedom to work on anything other than dealing with the discipline issues that arise. And, I’m taking two classes at Kent State, one of which I find terribly difficult, Statistics II.

I should be able to put together some images of Gracie soon, but I wanted to get these up and it might take a little bit more time.

‘till next time…


Sep 22 2008

Lisetta’s Second Birthday

Lisetta Turns Two

We still miss her.