Saturday, March 31, 2007

Homecoming

This morning, as is our usual practice, I was watching the nightly newscast from NBC online. At the end of the Friday broadcast they gave a few minutes to footage of an Iraq soldier's homecoming. Bill Hawes surprised his 6 year-old son John by showing up at his school after a 7 month deployment. Click here to watch the video. It is incredibly moving. The look on John's face is what I love about children his age and even younger -- the innocent, trusting love they have in their parents, and without a second thought he runs into his father's arms, tears streaming down his face. I guarantee you won't be able to watch this without tearing up yourself.

Friday, March 30, 2007

What's in a Name

It recently dawned on me that I never gave an account of how Trey and I chose the name Davis Marischal for the new baby. So let me share.

Trey and I both like surnames as first names for boys. I know this is "trendy" right now, but oh well. It's actually something that's been done for centuries. Davis is a family surname on both sides, so it was an obvious choice. As our favorite baby naming book, The Baby Name Wizard, put it, "This handsome name is pleasantly familiar, even though you've probably never met a Davis in person. It's distinctive in a quiet way that appeals across generations."

Marischal also has special meaning. The Keith family was very important to this area of Scotland, and if you remember from an earlier blog, owned and resided at Dunnottar Castle. The title "Great Marischal of Scotland" was bestowed upon them and over time became "Earl Marischal", pronounced Marshall (the "i" is dropped). George Keith (seen above), the 4th Earl Marischal, was the founder of Marischal College at the University of Aberdeen (pictured below). This impressive structure is the 2nd largest granite building in the world. We both liked the name Marischal and wanted to incorporate something distinctive about Davis's birthplace into his name. We had decided, before we knew we were having a boy, that we would use this as the middle name no matter what. However, we are pronouncing it phonetically and not the way it is pronounced here in Scotland.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Welcome, Baby Hannah!

We want to extend our heartiest congratulations to the McCracken family in Texas on the birth of their third child, a little girl, Hannah Elizabeth. It's a wonderful birth story accompanied by beautiful pictures and is a real testament to the constant care of our Lord as there were a couple of scares with the baby's heart rate dropping too low.

John is an old friend of Trey's from his Westminster M.Div. days and we have reconnected through our blogs. In fact, I have to congratulate John on posting an update immediately following the birth by using his cell phone. Now that is blogging dedication!

Facelift

I have been blogging over 7 months now for a total of 183 entries including this one. The time has come for a small nip/tuck. No major overhauls. What I would call more of a color change refresher and font update.

Not sure if this has anything to do with the fact that I just got my hair done today. There may be a connection.

PixiFoto

I promised a full account of our picture outing from this past Saturday. I think I can deliver now that I've gotten sufficient distance from the ordeal...

Last week while running some errands I noticed at the entrance to Boots (an Eckerd Drug/Rite Aid type pharmacy chain here in the UK) a photography booth. The company was PixiFoto, a travelling "studio" slated to be at Boots all week long. I had been wanting to get the boys' picture taken for Easter, but could not find anything like a Target or JC Penney studio with inexpensive, standard backdrops and poses. It appeared that our only photography option was high-priced, designer studios. However, for £4.99 ($10), PixiFoto would take a number of poses, one of which you would get in a 10"x12" as a parting gift. The rest of the photographs could be purchased separately with packages starting at £40 ($80). I came home and told Trey about it. Although the packages seemed a little steep, I really only wanted one good picture of the boys. This seemed like a viable option...

We arrived early on Saturday hoping to avoid any lines that might diminish our chances of a successful shoot thanks to a tired toddler and cranky infant, and we were indeed the very first ones there. We explained to the lady what we were hoping for and her pessimistic reply was that joint pictures with a child Addison's age rarely work. Love the "can do" attitude! We decided to give it a shot anyway. The next discovery? The photography wasn't digital. So this is what we had to do to pick the pose for our complimentary 10"x12" -- guesstimate. Yes, that's right. We had to watch the photographer closely -- at the same time that we try to get the boys to cooperate together -- and guess which photo was the one we wanted. At this point Trey was just about ready to walk out, especially since a 10"x12" is a pretty big picture and not exactly what he had in mind. Well, needless to say, we were doomed from the outset. Addison was scared of the lady, and in his defense I have to admit that she was a poster-child for why the British dental system is the butt of so many jokes in the US (ala Austin Powers, "I get it. I have bad teeth!"). He suspiciously balked at her attempts to pose them. We never even made it to the "cheese" part. I stepped in and suggested that we just try separate poses.

Davis complied during his shoot, and, wonder of wonders, we even got Addison to sit still and smile for a couple. We decided to select one of the pictures of Davis as our 10"x12". I guessed at which one was the best, a total shot in the dark. I have an appointment in April to review the pictures. I was very dejected on the walk home, but, as you know, we ended up taking some of our own photos later that morning with far more success.

Well you can bet your life that when we come home at Christmas we will be visiting one of those pretty, sacchriney-sweet ladies with straight, white teeth at Target for some photos!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bacon

I just can't resist sharing this. Addison calls Davis's binky "bacon". It took me a couple of days to figure out what in the world he was saying because it was so similar to what he calls his blanket -- "blankins".

I really should compile an Addison-English dictionary. It cracks me up that certain words he rattles off with no trouble whatsoever, and then other words take on a life of their own. Case in point? Christmas. According to Addison it's "Kermis", you know that frog-inspired holiday we celebrate on the 25th of December?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Edinburgh: The City on a Hill

Trey had a wonderful trip to Edinburgh. He arrived down there around lunchtime on Friday and made his way over to George Street where the book fair was being held. In the photo album you will see several pictures down George Street, quite an impressive stretch of road flanked by beautiful buildings and punctuated by various statues of George IV. Trey, ever the photographer, took a number of pictures along the way. He spent a couple of hours at the book fair but without success. Before he left, however, he spoke with one of the local vendors who said he could check out his storage facility not far from there. Trey needed to go to the library at New College for some research but promised to be back in a couple of hours at which time they would check it out.

Trey had called ahead to make sure that he would have research privileges at the New College Library at the University of Edinburgh. Trey's experience with inter-library loan here at Aberdeen has been less than satisfactory. Most recently it took him 4 months to secure some materials from a neighboring institution. In true American spirit, Trey decided to "work the system" and figure out a better way to get these materials. Since he was already planning to visit Edinburgh for the book fair, why not turn it into a joint research venture? Forget the inter-library loan system. There is more than one way to skin a cat...

After doing his work, Trey headed back to the book fair, and he and the book dealer walked to his storage facility where Trey discovered a 2-volume set immensely relevant to his research. I'm including the picture of this little nugget above.

Before heading back to the bus station, Trey walked over to St. Giles, the cathedral with the crown tower just like the one at King's College here in Aberdeen, and took some more pictures. And, for my sake, he took several shots of all the daffodils in the park by New College. The rest of his photos are in the updated Edinburgh album.

Quick anecdote...Before Trey left, he said he would not be calling us while down in Edinburgh. With no mobile (cell phone), a pay phone would be his only option. Unsure of how much such a long distance call would cost, he thought it made sense to just forgo the call. Fast forward...6:30pm Addison and I are eating dinner and the phone rings. I know who it is immediately. Sure enough, it's Trey checking in about to board the bus home. He just couldn't make it without a call back home. When I put Addison on the phone with Daddy, he looked so confused. He knew who it was on the other end, but he kept pointing to the doorway and saying, "Daddy?" I think he thought Trey was just upstairs.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Comments and Spam

Today someone anonymously left a comment on an old post, "T-Minus 2 Days", with a link to their porn blog. I get an email notification every time someone leaves a comment, so thankfully I was able to delete it rather promptly. However, this is the second time I've had strange comments left, so I've made a few changes to my comment settings. From now on, before a comment goes "live", I will get an email to approve it. This will prevent anymore undesirable comments from slipping through. Furthermore, to prevent comment spam, I've added the word verification feature. When you leave a comment, you will be asked to type in the displayed word. This prevents spammers from electronically posting comments en masse. I appreciate your patience with these new measures as I hope it will keep the blog clean and friendly.

But this leads me to my second point. I know I have quite a few readers out there but not too many leave comments. You probably don't realize this, but whenever you post a note about something I write, it makes my day! I get so excited to hear your feedback. It helps me feel close to you knowing that you share in our daily triumphs and trials. It makes me feel like the blog is more of a dialogue than a monologue. So please reply from time-to-time if for no other reason than that it keeps me writing.

Baby Blues














The photo on the left was taken at about 6 months old. The one on the right was taken yesterday. Now you know why his daddy still calls him "Baby Blues".

Picture Time

Yesterday we tried to take the boys to get their picture taken together -- more on that in a future blog. We had them all decked out in their Easter finery, when our beloved 2 year old, who will remain nameless, would not cooperate in a joint photograph. On the long trudge home, with a very dejected mom lagging behind, Trey suggested that we do some of our own photos while they were still dressed up. They turned out very nicely. This is my favorite! The rest can be seen in the new photo album entitled "Easter 2007".

Friday, March 23, 2007

Holding Down the Fort

Today Trey is off to Edinburgh. He just left the house a few minutes ago to catch the 8:35 bus downtown. He'll arrive in Edinburgh around 11am and his plans include visiting a book fair sponsored by the PBFA (Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association) and the ABA (Antiquarian Booksellers Association) and doing some research at the divinity library at the University of Edinburgh. He should be back tonight around 10:30.

So we are holding down the fort by ourselves. You're probably laughing at me, but the sad reality is I never have to do this. Trey is always here to help out during the day. His office is in the loft, and when he needs a break or I need help, he pops down for a few minutes. Today will be the first day since Baby D was born that we are minus Daddy. I am quickly learning that juggling two little boys is a whole new ballgame.

I am sure by the time Trey gets home I will be passed out cold in bed!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

11 Million Daffodils

I've started walking again, and today I went up to Seaton Park. Seaton is a "sunken" park. It sits in a little valley bordered by a hill and wall that runs the perimeter. And today as I walked along the path that runs next to the stone wall I discovered that the hill is covered in thousands and thousands of daffodils. While many of them have opened already, particularly the ones that get the most daylight, many have yet to open. I was so sorry that I didn't have my camera with me because it was truly stunning. When I got home and tried to find some online pictures of the daffodils in Seaton, I discovered this astonishing fact. Aberdeen, the Flower of Scotland, is home to 11 million daffodils. It seems entirely possible that one of those 11 million finds its home at Seaton.

And then I began to wonder...who counted all those daffodils?



Living Room Disaster

Have you ever walked into a mess and you didn't even know where to begin to clean it up? Well, that was my distinct pleasure this lovely Thursday morning.

After everyone else had eaten their breakfast, I was finally settling down to my coffee and cereal. It's funny how it seems to always works out that Mom eats last. Anyway, Trey was getting ready to leave for teaching up at the University this morning, I was eating and rocking the baby in his carseat, and Addison -- yes, you guessed who the perpetrator would be -- was "playing" in the living room. I will add that our house is virtually baby proof. There are a few things we have left unguarded, but that is because either we have trained Addison not to go near them (case in point the toilet) or he has never shown an interest in bothering with them (such as the fireplace). Well, regarding the latter, I should qualify my last statement. He had never shown an interest until today that is.

Shattering my blissful morning cup of joe, Trey swoops into the kitchen with Addison in tow hands covered in black something or other. At first I think it's crayon, but, no, Trey informs me. Addison was playing with the artificial coals in the fireplace. Then it dawns on me that if Addison is so covered in black dust, so probably, too, is my living room. I cringe internally at the thought as I wash Addison's hands. I hardly dare look at the living room.

Sure enough coals and ash are lying on the carpet. And for the cherry on the sundae Addison has dumped over a bowl with potpourri in it. Scattered among all of this are his toys, puzzles, and books. I literally didn't know where to begin.

Ah well, a good reason to really clean the living room. The coffee will have to wait...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Baby D

His new nickname is Baby D. Yes, you know Trey -- the king of nicknames. It's actually gotten shortened even further a few times to just "D". I downloaded the latest photo editing software from Shutterfly which enables you to do collages, and this was my first rather amateurish attempt at creating one. Davis is much more alert when he is awake, and so yesterday evening we took the opportunity to snap a few photos while I was changing him for bed (the reason he's only in a diaper). I just can't resist a baby in a diaper!

Happy Spring!

Happy first day of spring! The reason for the snow on the daffodils? Well, that's what it looked like here yesterday. Today the snow is gone, but it's still quite chilly. Hardly feels like spring except that we are now getting more daylight than the folks back home! Pardon me while I do a little happy dance!

Warmer temperatures can't be far behind. I can feel it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Four Years Later

It began March 19, 2003 with "shock and awe" and has lasted longer than the Korean and both World Wars. On this four-year anniversary we pause to honor the more than 3,000 American soldiers killed and 24,000 wounded during the war in Iraq. Above all we pray for peace.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Can't Catch a Break

Poor Addison. He has been sick from about February 7th. Yesterday we had to take him back to the doctor's because he has broken out in a rash across his stomach, neck, back, and diaper area. He doesn't seem particularly bothered by the rash on the rest of his body, just the groin area. When he "goes", he comes to us whimpering and says, "Change." I think it must sting. It started out initially as just an ordinary diaper rash during our road trip earlier this week. I assumed it was from sitting for so long in his carseat, but after lots of Balmex and upping the frequency of diaper changes, it wasn't going away. I wouldn't normally take him to the doctor over a simple diaper rash, but then yesterday while I was getting him dressed for the day, I noticed that the pinkish dots had spread across his body. We got an urgent appointment for late in the day and Trey took him to it. The doctor said that his ears are still a little inflamed. You will recall this all started with the diagnosis of an ear infection on my due date back on February 14th after about a week of constant nasal congestion. She said that it can take as much as 5-6 weeks for ear inflammation to go away completely. As far as the rash, her opinion was that it was viral and that we just need to keep an eye on it. She did give us a prescription for a stronger diaper rash cream, but other than that there isn't much we can do.

So this is how it's gone for Addison:

February 7th - Runny nose starts accompanied by some diarrhea
February 14th - After he complains "cheek owwy", we take him to the doctor and find out he has an ear infection
February 24th - Wakes up with pink eye in both eyes, and we take him to the doctor for some prescription drops to clear it up
March 5th - After finishing the drops, the pink eye has still not completely gone away, so we head back to the doctor's only to find out that his pink eye is probably viral, not bacterial, and will just need to run its course
March 16th - Diaper rash spreads to the rest of Addison's body necessitating yet another trip to the doctor's and yet another diagnosis that its viral

Is this the same stinkin' virus that just keeps mutating and re-attacking my poor baby?

During this whole time, mind you, the runny nose has never completely gone away. Ugh. I feel like he will never be completely healthy again. Up until this point, he had only had isolated colds. Nothing like this that went on and on and on. At least he is in good spirits, it hasn't affected his appetite, and none of the rest of us have gotten it! Praise God for small mercies!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Weights and Measures

How in the world are Trey and I supposed to gauge our weight loss goals with a scale that measures weight in either kilograms or stones? Oy!

1 pound = 0.0714285714 stones
1 stone = 14 pounds

Thank goodness for online conversion tables. I'm utterly lost without the internet.

PS I can hear you asking already, "I get that you need to shed a few pounds from pregnancy, but Trey? Why does Trey need to lose weight?" In the style of Dwight K. Schrute, "Two words, seven syllables -- sympathetic pregnancy." Trey's words, not mine.

A New Citizen of Aberdeen

Yesterday I took the boys to the Registrar's office to get a copy of Davis's Scottish birth certificate. We need this document in order to apply for his certificate of US citizenship, passport, social security card, and ultimately his Visa to authorize his residence in this bonny land. Along with the official certificate, Davis received the document above from the Lord Provost of Aberdeen welcoming her new citizen. I thought you would enjoy reading its message.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Eighth Day, Sundown, and Other Bits

As I mentioned in my last blog, Dr. Bolel was a fascinating person and shared a lot of information about Jewish customs and traditions surrounding circumcision.

The 8th Day - We asked Dr. Bolel if there was any physiological significance to the Old Testament command to circumcize on the 8th day. He said that Jews are very careful never to circumcize a jaundiced infant. Jaundice usually appears 2-3 days after a baby is born and clears up within a week or so. By the 8th day jaundice has usually disappeared. In addition, he said that performing the procedure on the 8th day ensures the child has lived through at least one Sabbath.

Sundown - A child cannot be circumcized once the sun has set. In fact, right after Davis was circumcized, Dr. Bolel received an urgent phone call from a Jewish family who had been waiting for several days for their son's jaundice to clear up in order for him to be circumcized. He had been too jaundiced on the 8th day and Dr. Bolel had been checking his bilirubin level every day since then. It had finally cleared up the evening of the 12th, and Dr. Bolel needed to perform the rite before the sun set.

"Succumbing" to Circumcision - In Jewish tradition if an older son succumbs to his circumcision (i.e. dies as a result), then subsequent sons are not to be circumcized. He said that in ancient times they didn't understand about blood disorders like hemophilia, but they knew that "blood problems" would run in families, hence the tradition.

Clientele - I asked Dr. Bolel if he performed many circumcisions on non-Jews, and he said that most of his clientele is not Jewish. The vast majority are Muslim actually, something that really surprised me. He said he also performs many circumcisions on Nigerian Christians. We, apparently, were in the minority as American clients.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Welcome, Baby Coates!

Trey's sister Christy and her husband Barry welcomed their second son, John Bauer ("Jack"), yesterday evening in Atlanta, Georgia. He joins big brother Matthew and a crew of 6 grandsons who grossly outnumber the one lone granddaughter.

We can't wait to meet you, baby Jack, and can only imagine the mischief that you and Davis -- just 3 1/2 weeks apart -- will get into together!

"No Uncircumcized Philistine"

"We will have no 'uncircumcized Philistines' in this house!" Trey would joke. Well, now we don't. The trip went very well, minus the night that we spent down in Newcastle. I can categorically say it was the WORST night of my life so far. More on that later.

The day was beautiful. Clear skies, balmy temperatures, a gorgeous drive down the Scottish and English east coast. We got the Mercedes upgrade (AGAIN!), so we were driving in style. We got on the road about 10:15 and made it just outside of Edinburgh by lunchtime. Both boys did amazingly well on the drive. We brought our laptops so Addison could watch some videos, and around 1:15, he conked out for over an hour. Davis literally slept the entire trip except when I woke him to change his diaper or nurse him. We saw one of the most brilliant double rainbows I've ever seen and countless sheep with baby lambs on the hillsides. We made great time arriving around 4:30.

The physician's office was in an exclusively Orthodox Jewish enclave of Newcastle called Gateshead. Everywhere you looked on the streets were men clad in black with hats and curls. I definitely felt like an outsider except that Dr. Bolel immediately put us at ease. He was warm and gracious, extremely accommodating, and very knowledgeable about his "craft". He was a shorter copy of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, which was completely fitting. Trey took Addison to run around on the field across the street and I stayed with Davis during the procedure, which really surprised the doctor. He said most mothers don't want to watch. I felt I couldn't leave my little baby by himself with two men I didn't know. It was all over in a matter of minutes anyway.

The really hard part was the following 12 hour period. Davis was almost inconsolable at times and wouldn't eat more than a few swallows of milk. Trey and I were up with him every 30-45 minutes throughout the entire night. His cries were not the normal fussy cries of an infant but cries of pain where he would stiffen and draw up his legs. It broke my heart and almost my spirit if it hadn't been for Trey switching off with me in the night. There is almost nothing more painful for a mother than being unable to comfort or console her little one. Amazingly Addison slept through the entire ordeal. He fell asleep at 9:30 and didn't wake until almost 7:00! I had no idea he was such a sound sleeper, but he slept through the screams, the pacing, the lights on, the bathroom door opening and closing. I guess that answers all my concerns about putting them together in the same room soon.

By 6am, the worst was over. Davis finally settled and would let me change his diaper without shrieking. We went back to the doctor's office at 8am to have the wound checked. The bleeding had stopped and everything looked fine. He showed me how to diaper him with the gauze and dressing, and then sent us on our merry way with a promise that tonight would be much better and the worst was behind us. Indeed, Davis slept the entire way home and nursed marvelously. He was very hungry!

Last night was much better. I feel like we have our baby back. His wound looks very good, and he should be completely healed by the end of next week. I promise to blog more about Dr. Bolel later in the week. He was so fascinating and shared many interesting details about his faith and the community there in Gateshead. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Road Trip

The blog will be radio silent for a few days as Trey and I embark with the kids on a road trip to Newcastle, England Monday morning. We should be back late on Tuesday. The purpose of our trip is Davis's circumcision. The only way we could have Davis circumcized through the NHS (National Health Service) would be to wait until he was 6 months old because at that time they would perform the procedure under general anesthesia. Trey and I were uncomfortable with the risks associated with putting our baby under anesthesia for what is actually a relatively quick and routine elective procedure in the US. So we have opted to hire a private physician in England to circumcize him.

I'll let you know how it went next week.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Venturing Out

After spending countless days indoors, I am going to take the boys out! By the way, I just love saying "the boys". It's one of those designations that will stick through their whole lives. Even when they're 50 and I'm in my mid-seventies, I'll still be calling them "the boys". But I digress. The sun is shining. The sky is clear. The bulbs and buds are blooming (I have snowdrops and crocuses up in my front garden right now). It seems like a good day to take a walk. We're going to venture down the hill to my friend Tammy's house to return a dish from dinner the other night.

Hopefully I can make it back up the hill!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Sweater


This sweater was the very first one my late Mom-mom, Alma Davis, ever knitted when my mom was pregnant with me. My mom brought it with her to give to Davis. It's so tiny but I know he will fit into it for only a short period of time. They stay this small for a fleeting moment. We took a number of photos of him in it and plan to use them for the birth announcements. It's incredibly special to have a memento like this from your own childhood that you can share with your children, especially in this case linking Davis to the great grandmother he never had a chance to know but who would have been crazy about him.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Addison's Other Twin


I have been very remiss in posting this -- something I have meant to do since February 22nd, Addison's birthday. Last week I posted about how similar Davis and Addison look, but I neglected to mention Addison true twin, Miss Abigail Plut back in New Jersey. As many of you probably know she is a little girl we got to know shortly after Addison was born. What brought our two families together initially? The discovery that our babies had been born on the EXACT SAME day -- February 22 -- at the EXACT SAME time -- 10:51pm! What are the odds? We have asked this question many times. We feel though that they are truly bonded for life. The picture above shows the two of them at Addison's 1st birthday party last year.

Happy belated birthday, Abigail! And thank you for the wonderful birthday card you sent. We miss you and your mom and dad very much and can't wait to hear of your new baby brother's arrival!

Daddy!



This morning while Addison and I had breakfast, I wanted to watch the Friday webcast of the NBC nightly news anchored by Brian Williams. I had obviously missed it with being so sick over the weekend. As I navigated to the NBC web page, this picture of Mr. Williams came up and Addison cheerily pointed and exclaimed, "Daddy!"



Sunday, March 4, 2007

Mastitis

I am recovering from an awful case of mastitis that I got Friday. Mastitis is caused by a blocked milk duct that becomes infected. It causes flu-like symptoms, and in my case my fever went all the way up to 104! It started early Friday morning with breast soreness on the left side. By breakfast I was starting to feel achey and had a headache. Since it was Friday, and I knew how hard it would be to get a doctor over the weekend, I thought I should try to get an urgent appointment. The doctor confirmed that it was mastitis and gave me an antibiotic. By the time I got home around noon, I felt horrible. And as the day progressed my fever got higher and higher. It didn't finally break for good until Saturday evening, and then it dropped really low -- 97.3. I felt very weak and sleepy, but after a good night's rest, I feel much better. I'm still weak, but by contrast, I feel like a different person. Thankfully, I had a lot of help from my mom and dad and Trey otherwise I don't know how I would have coped. I could barely stand from being so dizzy. Trey helped me with nighttime diaper changes so that all I had to do was feed Davis and go back to sleep. The grandparents kept Addison occuped as did Finding Nemo and Toy Story **wink, wink**.

I'm really ready for some normalcy. Between Addison's illnesses, the difficulty of the pregnancy, and now the mastitis, I am SO ready for life to settle down and just be quiet and normal.