Sunday, December 28, 2008

beating the odds.

for fun, ben & i decided to look up our zodiac sign compatibility and here is what it said:

"Cancer and Leo? Forget it. That means NO. Sometimes things work between you two, sometimes they don't. However, one way or another, good moments tend to turn into bad moments eventually."

yikes! we had a good time laughing at how the odds are stacked up against us. after what feels like 6 really great years, according to this we are up for some rough times. because we all know how 100% fool-proof the zodiac is, we then read each other's signs and made some goals for me to not be boring & emotional & ben to not be pompous & arrogant. then maybe...just maybe...we will make it. hope you can sense the sarcasm here.

on another note, last night we got to go on our first date in over a year and a half. thanks again mom! we went out to dinner, i tried sushi for the first time (see? i'm not boring!) and we compiled a list of things we have learned about marriage.

in 6 years, bensey has learned:

  • never walk in front of your husband up the stairs.
  • always trust him if he says (in a really nice way) "that sweater makes you look frumpy."
  • never utter the words, "our kid will never do that."
  • don't underestimate the power of a date night.
  • if your classes consist of kayacking, backpacking & running, you're probably not going to make a lot of money.
  • never turn down a free basement.
  • don't stay too long, just because it's a free basement.
  • never sign a year contract.
  • you can do anything together for a year, but it may not be easy.
  • a "group home" is really a group you don't want to belong to.
  • hold on to quality moving boxes.
  • the way to a man's heart involves cheese & fresh tortillas.
  • don't complain about your wife vomiting on you when she is in labor.
  • even if it's 1 time out of 20, be grateful for that one time he puts his pants back in his drawer, because it means he is trying.
  • family home evenings can be the funnest night of the week.
  • always use the provided bathroom spray.
  • reading books together can be lot of fun.
  • you can't sleep on the floor of a hospital, it's a fire hazard.
  • doctors don't always know everything.
  • pay attention to where your wife is hanging pictures. there may be a pop quiz later.
  • you don't have to wait for your boxes to be unpacked before your house is fully decorated.
  • it's expensive to travel on december 27th.
  • if you buy a car for $500, it's because it's worth $500.
  • listen to your wife when she says "don't buy a $500 car."
  • guys game nights & girls night outs are healthy for a marriage.
  • quickly disagree when she says she thinks stretch marks are just around the corner.
  • don't air your dirty laundry.
  • you don't need money to be happy.
  • a well-heated & highly-chlorinated hot tub can warm you to the depths of your soul.
  • a poorly-heated & low-chlorinated hot tub can sprout a fun case of folliculitis.
  • be each other's best friend.
  • make a goal to pray together every day.
  • don't read zodiac compatibility websites. because what do they know, anyway???

Saturday, December 27, 2008

in a nutshell

well christmas has come and gone and with it we have had a lot of fun & overindulgence. we're still in utah and will be for another few days, but here are some highlights of the past couple of weeks.

let's start with the germs, shall we?
  • caleb caught the love bug which consisted of throwing up 11 times in about 12 hours. he lost 2 lbs in that time, and went from looking skinny to resembling a prisoner of war. he has now beefed up his reserves again so that we can't see his ribs when we take off his shirt.
  • ben & i caught this crazy topical hot tub staph infection rash. luckily it didn't end up being too bad but i still have the after-effects which consist of a lot of itching & a vow to never step in another hot tub.
now for christmas eve & day.
  • a fun waffle party at lauren's complete with a lightning mcqueen race track, a fantastic new mirror that i'm so excited to hang up in AZ, ice skates & a little bit of jack black. christmas is not complete without jack black.
  • caroling to our old friends, freezing our rumps on the outside, but warm and fuzzy on the inside with being able to see loved ones & spread some cheer. thanks again tiffany for letting us crash your house & scare your daughter. your family is the greatest. i'm sad we didn't get to taste those cinnamon rolls!
  • to my mom's house for presents, LOTS of yummy snacks, great presents (excluding the hangars :) fun games (we will work on harvesting those beans!), then up until 5 am talking. we are fans of bruce.
  • a christmas nap, then strader family time. kids everywhere, wonderful & thoughtful gifts, catching up with old friends, a massage hour, and peppermint icecream with hot fudge. yum! after that, making fun of carrie hooked on an 8-yr. old's electronics, and laughing until we cried. okay that was just me. i reached a level of hysteria that can only come after a consecutive amount of nights of lost sleep. then a round of sequence with vetos on songs, and ben & i taking the championship.

today we will celebrate 6 years of spending time together & all of the memories that go with it.

we've had a wonderful christmas.

pictures to come, complete with....UNDERPANTS!!! (this was the only thing caleb asked to get for christmas. well my boy, your wish is our command. he didn't know what to do with himself.)

6 years...

i love you ben.

Friday, December 19, 2008

the apple from the tree

sharing a room with caleb for the last week or so has proved to be an experience. the little man is a wild sleeper and not only does he roll around like he is on some permanent grassy knoll heading down a hill, but he talks in his sleep.

last night he woke up 3 times yelling at the top of his lungs that there was a bug on him crawling on his face. i am a blind bat without my contacts in so each time he started yelling i'd get on my hands & knees, totally disoriented, with my eyes about an inch from the carpet searching for this wild toddler-eating bug. each time i would come up empty-handed and he would fall right back asleep.

after the third time, i began to get a little tee'd off. i was exhausted and waking up to his repeated ear-piercing shrieks just about did me in.

but once the morning came, my frustration melted. i recalled being younger with many nights of waking up and staring into the multiple eyes of a big hairy spider just before it crawled onto my face. i would freak out, turn on my light and pick up the nearest shoe vowing to smash it to smithereens. but once the light turned on, i could never find it.

poor lauren had to share a room with me. i remember her always trying to calmly help me by saying "it's okay, it's okay, just lay down."

so i realized that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. along with my height deficiency, caleb has inherited his mother's night terrors. poor little fella is in for a rough ride. just wait until he gets introduced to evil clowns.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


oops, i should have mentioned that i have gained 3 lbs this last month, totaling about 11 lbs so far. 3 lbs total in 7 months? i would check myself into some sort of therapy program if that were true. a girl's gotta eat!

Monday, December 15, 2008


a tardy pregnancy update, this was from 2 weeks ago.

currently: 7.5 months (at the time of the picture, 7 mos.)

weight gain: 3 lbs.

last month's prediction update: see what i told you? the pop out is getting out of control. every time i turn to the side ben says "woah" to my profile. nice.

complaints: sciatica, which i now have to see a chiropractor & physical therapist for. yip, yip. i also experienced a crazy charlie horse cramp in both of my calve muscles one morning that lasted about 5 minutes. (has anyone else had this happen?) i woke up yelling for ben to help me because my muscles were stuck and i could not get them to release. apparently it comes from a calcium deficiency. i have now added about 12 glasses of milk a day to my diet. it was a traumatic experience. bonus? after a 5 minute work-out, my legs look fantastic.

current action: well let's just say that as i lay & type this, the laptop sitting on my stomach has caught air a couple of times.

prediction for next month: no stretch marks as of yet, but i feel they may be just around the corner. i was lucky last time & didn't get any because caleb was so teeny. but i have a feeling in my gut (no pun intended) that i will not get out scar-less this time.

ps-caleb wants to show you his bus. at least the mirror's semi-clean. semi.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

is knowing really half the battle?

we've been told a couple of times by doctors that caleb is "his own syndrome."

the caleb syndrome.

are those supposed to be words of comfort?

i don't expect the experts to have all the answers & to work miracles. however, it's difficult when we have an underweight, constantly screaming, constantly seizure-ing baby with no answers as to how to help him.

but we've learned to accept that this just may be the way it is with him. and when things improve, we are eternally grateful.

so far, the caleb syndrome consists of:

2-vessel umbilical cord
4 1/2 lbs birth weight
seizures starting at 10 days
an extra rib
a sacral dimple
a whole in his heart (which later corrected itself)
an underdeveloped digestive system
an ectopic kidney--means his kidney is out of place
cysts of water that line a section of his spine
two vertebrae at the base of his neck that are fused together
a weak immune system causing him to catch everything that comes his way (& usually it's twice as bad as the person who had it before him)
slow to develop physically (didn't walk until he was 2 yrs, & that was with physical therapy & braces)

so what does all of this add up to be?

the caleb syndrome.

which is a way to say, "we have no idea what's going on with him & we can't do anything to help him that won't cause him more trouble."

so here is my question:

is it better to know all of these things, or not to know?

i have always felt that knowledge is power. i have researched all of his problems, memorized all of his diagnoses and carried around this huge file of all of his tests & their outcomes so that i feel knowledgeable. empowered.

a while ago my friend rachel c. wrote the question "is ignorance really bliss?" and i have thought hard about this for several days. is knowing really half the battle? or does it just make it all so much more complicated because now you have something holding you accountable? and having the what-if's weighing you down?

with the new enlightening of caleb's current problems...the cysts enlarging, the vertebrae being fused...we were told that as of right now, those issues are not causing enough problems to need to do anything about them.

except that...

if we see any "new" changes, then we need to rush him to the closest neurosurgeon.

what changes are we looking for?

bladder control problems
poor posture
a decrease in leg flexibility
stiffness in his neck

we were told he can't play contact sports. what about his tumbling class? we ask. well it should be fine but just make sure he doesn't fall on his head because the fused vertebrae could cause major complications.

so when he's potty-training, what if he starts having accidents? well, just watch closely that his accidents aren't becoming more frequent. how frequent is more frequent?

the list went on, because we wanted to do our research, to be knowledgeable.

but i realized i wasn't asking the right question. which is:

how do we not become overly paranoid, overly protective parents and let this kid just live a normal life??

i feel that we have walked on eggshells since the day this little fellow blessed our family. specialists say "don't let anyone hold him, don't pass him around" "don't let little kids get close to him" "protect him" "don't let him cry it out" and "don't push him too hard." it is a lot to worry about on top of being new parents. but we listen, we trust, we put boundaries on everything.

and feel that we are inhibiting him from loving life. and instead we are turning him into a very careful, cautious child. and we as parents are turning into stressed out basketcases.

then we get to the point where we feel we're going crazy, so we just pray and try to stay close to god so that we can just do what is best for us all. but i can't help it that a part of me wishes i was living in ignorance. would i be a more relaxed, fun mom if i didn't know about all of these little quirks he is dealing with?

could he be...with all of these things...just fine?

but what happens if i say that to myself and just let go of it all and then something happens because i wanted him to be a "normal" kid...and he really isn't?

it's enough to make an overanalyzer like myself go just about mad.

which should be another part of the caleb syndrome. "this syndrome will eventually drive your mother insane."

so we will continue on with life as normal. going day to day, praying hard and acting in faith. and that's really the best we can do, right?

Friday, December 12, 2008

this is the place.

we're here! we've joined the winter wonderland of chapped lips, cracked hands and consistently rosy cheeks. it's already been so fun to be surrounded by family & i didn't realize how excited i am to get the opportunity to have a white christmas.

i'm sure in 3 weeks we will be anxious to head back to palm trees & 70 degrees. a poet and i didn't even know it. but for now, we are loving it!

will post soon about caleb's appt, but it was some good news.

a happy holidays to all!

Monday, December 8, 2008

our weekend

we had a fun, busy weekend. poor ben is doing finals so in between activities he was studying & typing papers. one down, only 8 semesters more to go!

started off on friday with a trip to tempe to work on our application for a grant through the army. we ended up at a mall & found some GREAT deals in a couple of stores that were closing out.

saturday we had dinner with the beckers & then joined them for the phoenix christmas light parade. SO FUN! i was amazed at how much went into the parade, i totally underestimated it. great parking, great seats, great company!

caleb & kali watching the sights. caleb looks like he's crying but he's really just yelling at the top of his lungs in excitement. i'm amazed he had a voice when we got home.

our friends fawn & fran. they are as nice as they are good-looking. sorry we didn't get fran smiling, ben forgot to let him know he was taking their picture.

cute kai chilling with his glow stick.


sunday we had the goldings over to exchange christmas presents & as always, laugh a lot. i have already made myself sick with the leftover yummy dessert (thanks andrea!). of course caleb bawled for 15 minutes when they left. i hope one day he loves his future sister as much as he loves his friends.

ethan & tyler opening their gift from caleb.

i was so excited ethan & tyler gave caleb lite brite!

preston & andrea...we love you guys!

now ben is off studying some more while i work on getting us packed, cleaning out the fridge, & preparing for some real cold in utah!

identity crisis.

i don't know who i am anymore.

today, not only did i enjoy my cereal, i actually drank milk from my bowl after the cereal was gone.

i am not a breakfast person. but i've been trying to become one because i'd like to be healthier. normally i eat a yogurt or toast for breakfast. not bad, but not great.

so i began the weaning process with this....

(about as non-healthy as you can get for cereal)
and quickly learned the error of my ways. there is still a half a box up in my cupboard of this sugary stuff.

and am now up to this...

(getting better, but every bite has to have a raisin or else i get ticked)

and am slowly (but surely) working my way up to this...

(still makes me dry heave when i even look at the picture)

this is a lofty goal. anyone who knows me well knows that i have had an aversion to oatmeal since i was a wee lass. my poor mother endured many a rough morning dealing with a stubborn, refusing child.

cross your fingers that i can get to the new me. 2009. a year should be enough time, right?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

MRI update.

i was hesitant to post this because really....we don't know much. but i've been asked a couple of times about the outcome of the MRI & this is easier than making a lot phone calls/sending emails. so here is the deal:

we spoke with a nurse at shriner's hospital who read the doctor's report that said yes, caleb's little water-filled cysts that line part of his spine have increased in size (this is why the MRI was done, to check to make sure the cysts had not grown). not what we were hoping to hear. this means that if these increase in size, they can put pressure on his spine causing headaches & possibly more severe problems...

also he has 2 vertebrae in his spine that are fused together that may cause him trouble as he continues to grow.

the nurse was not sure if the cysts had grown to a point that he needs spinal surgery and also didn't know if the fused vertebrae needed to be separated, but referred us to a spinal surgeon for a consultation & to explain in more detail what's going on.

so long story short...we are heading up to utah for our appointment next thursday and will hear more then. i'm not sure what type of internet access & time i will have to be able to do much blogging, but will do my best to update.

for now, we are staying positive. we are hoping that spine surgery isn't necessary but also are willing to accept it if it is. so far all of caleb's physical complications have been a huge learning & faith-building process. we have felt heavenly father guide us this far and know that no matter what, we will continue to be guided.

overlooking the 2 major tantrums our 3-yr. old has thrown in the past 2 days, this little boy is a blessing. okay okay, i'll even take him with tantrums included. i mean seriously, just look at that face.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

chore time

caleb's been given several responsibilities to do around the house. the best part is that for right now, he actually enjoys them. so this will be documented for his parents to remember that at one point in his life, he was happy to help.

here he is in his jams putting the utensils away.

whenever we ask him to do his chores he says, "oh yes! i would love to help!" what a good guy. other chores include tidying up his room & cleaning up his toys before bedtime. my goal is that by the time i have this baby, he will be doing all the laundry and dishes for every meal. we'll see how much he loves to help with those.

Monday, December 1, 2008


without further adieu, here are pictures from
twilight take #1

eating at oregano', the food there (along with the dessert) made up for jasper's bad acting. almost. it was amazing.

this was the theater from behind my seat. i thought the girls sitting a row back fell for my fake-out self portrait....when i was really pointing it at them, but the looks on their faces tells me i'm less sneaky than i thought.

thanks for the good time girls!