10 August 2015

Camping While Road Tripping

When I wrote about our 2015 summer road trip, at least one person commented on the post and others commented to me personally that they were impressed we camped along the way. For us, camping along our road trip route has a lot to do with saving money. Plus, in my mind it's only a little less convenient than staying in a hotel. When you factor in getting all your stuff into the hotel and getting rowdy kids to settle down for the night in a room where they can probably jump from one bed to the next, camping is not that hard.

Now, let me also say that we do not have gourmet meals when we camp. The day we are planning to camp we will stop at a grocery store to buy hot dogs, buns, bagels, cream cheese, and fruit. On this road trip we started with a bag of marshmallows, and we never had to re-stock. We keep the hot dogs and cream cheese in a small cooler in the car, and we refill it with ice from gas stations as needed. (Sometimes gas station employees seemed annoyed that we were getting ice, but usually they didn't care.) We stocked up in the preceding months with ketchup and mustard packets from fast food restaurants, so we didn't even have to worry about keeping the condiments preserved. Even when we are not on road trips we usually opt for hot dogs for camping lest the children mutiny. (This picture is from the 2014 road trip, so the idea of hot dogs on camping trips is very ingrained in these kids by now.)

As far as supplies, we don't have very much. The fact that we eat really basic foods certainly helps. We don't have to take a pack and play for Felix to sleep in, so we can all cram into one tent. The one tent can fit two twin-sized air mattresses side-by-side without much room for them to wiggle around, so we have one large and fairly stable bed. For this camping trip we took fewer sleeping bags and blankets than usual since the nights were not too cold where we were camping. We bought a large wool blanket before our trip, but we could have done without it. We'll definitely use it for other spring and fall camping trips, though.

On this trip, since we didn't have a pack and play, we had plenty of room to take our camp chairs. That was really helpful to my pregnant self. We also pretty much stayed at real camp sites on this road trip. Not all of them had running water and showers and real toilets, but some did. The one time we showered at a camp site we realized that we had failed to bring towels. Thankfully Eric's colleagues had given him a road-trip survival kit as an end-of-school-year gift, and it included four hand-towels that expanded upon getting wet. They were basically life-savers that Saturday night so we didn't seem quite so grimy at church the next day.

I love getting my boys outdoors, especially when we've spent a lot of time in the car. Eric usually takes them for a little exploratory walk, and then they also hang around the site finding logs and rocks to jump from and bugs to harass. It helps them get their energy out before bed.

We lucked out with a couple of really great camp sites on this road trip. Sometimes when you reserve electronically you don't really know what you are going to get. Alternatively, if you just try the first-come-first-served sites, you might not get anything at all. At a couple of sites we were relatively close to a creek, which helped drown out the noises from the other campers.

I was a bit nervous about camping so much for this summer's road trip since I was just beginning my third trimester when we began, but it ended up being fine. Yes, some bathroom facilities were really terrible and stinky. But others weren't bad at all. With both of our boys potty trained, I didn't have to worry about dealing with dirty diapers, which is also a big bonus. And they certainly love the chance to just go wherever they want.

Usually our family woke up fairly early while camping. We'd get dressed and give the kids each a bagel and cream cheese and tell them to sit at the picnic table or sit in the car. Then Eric and I would pack everything up, take down the tent and camp chairs, and load everything into the car. Eric would then tie the canoe down and we'd be on our way again to the next adventure. (To Eric's credit, there were a few mornings where I was totally useless and he did pretty much everything. In fact, that can actually be said of most of our camping trips, regardless of whether or not I am growing a baby.)

We plan to take another road trip next summer, and we will most certainly have to change things up since we'll have a baby by then. But for now, this is how we travel, and it works really well for us.

23 July 2015

Silver Linings

I have less than five weeks to go until my scheduled induction. I'm hoping to push my induction back because I'd prefer to deliver closer to 39-40 weeks rather than right on the 38-week mark. And yet, I am so tired of being pregnant this time. It has definitely been my hardest pregnancy, and with the post-delivery health challenges Trixie is going to have, sometimes I just feel really grumpy. I've been feeling so whiny and overwhelmed, that I decided to make a list of silver linings:

  • I am going to have some amazing post-baby sleep. There will be pumping going on at night, but there will also be a nurse doing the diaper changing and other stuff. (Trixie will not be allowed to breastfeed until a few days after her surgery.)
  • There is a mini-Ronald McDonald House inside Primary Children's Hospital. I can sleep there if I can get a room reserved early enough in the day. I can eat food from the stocked pantries there all day long. I can also stay in the sleep rooms provided in the ICU as long as I get one reserved early enough in the day.
  • When the boys come to visit their sister and they get bored, I can take them to areas in the hospital where they can play, and Eric can spend time with the baby.
  • Our last visit to the cardiologist was more positive than the first, and we have reason to hope that Trixie's valve replacement will not need to happen as soon as we thought. The longer we can wait, the more likely she can avoid open-heart surgery.
  • Primary Children's Hospital has quasi-daycare for your non-patient kids when you are going to outpatient appointments. So I don't always have to bother people to watch the boys when we go back for our checkups.
  • I am going to have a lot of down-time in the hospital, and I am going to crochet and read like a crazy person.

08 July 2015

Trixie's Heart

In early June our unborn baby, Trixie*, was diagnosed with a heart defect. Basically, her pulmonary valve does not function properly. It is a very serious condition, but it is also very treatable and has a good prognosis. Within 24-48 hours after birth she will have a procedure done through her femoral artery to open up the heart valve. There is a slim chance this will be the only treatment she needs, but nobody is counting on that. At some point she will likely need the valve replaced. In some cases valve replacement can be done through the femoral artery, but traditional open heart surgery is more likely. We will know more about when this surgery is likely to take place after the initial procedure. Since replacement valves come from pigs, they do not last forever; they need to be replaced about every six years in children and every ten years in adults. We have great hope that (1) subsequent valve replacements can be done through the femoral artery, and (2) medical advances in her lifetime will improve and prevent her from having to have valve replacements so frequently.

That is the long and short of A Really Big Thing that I have been trying to figure out how to share with the Internet. Here are some FAQ's:

Does this change your delivery plans?
Yes! I was going to deliver at the local hospital with my family practitioner who also takes OB patients. Now I am seeing specialists and will deliver at the University of Utah. After delivery Trixie will be taken via skybridge over to Primary Children's Hospital where the cardiac team will manage her care. Since the two hospitals are connected I will be able to visit her without being discharged from the hospital. She will initially be in the hospital about two to three weeks. I will spend much of that time staying with extended family in Salt Lake City so I do not have to commute every day to the hospital.

Is there anything else wrong?
Nope. Everything else so far seems fine. While she is in utero she is as safe as can be. It's only after delivery that things become more risky. This is why I'll be scheduled for an induction. Neither my doctors nor the cardiac team want me to have a surprise delivery at home, in a car, or at some other hospital where she would then be ambulanced away from me to receive her cardiac care.

How are you holding up?
Really well, actually. There were a couple of weeks in between an ultrasound where they suspected something was wrong and my appointment when they were able to diagnose what it was. THOSE were not fun weeks. Now that we know what is going on, we are extremely grateful that it's treatable and we have a plan in place to take care of her.

That isn't to say that I am carefree about everything. The initial procedure is not something I am terribly worried about, but the prospect of open heart surgery on my infant or toddler can be totally overwhelming. I know open heart surgeries are routine (recall that my dad had triple bypass surgery the day Ike was born, and Eric and I each have a grandfather who had major bypass surgeries as well) but this strikes even closer to home. My worries and concerns lie more with the pain of such a major surgery and its associated recovery than with the technique and risks of the surgery itself. I have great confidence in the pediatric cardiology team at Primary Children's Hospital, but open heart surgery on a child is pretty serious business.

What can I do for you?
Right now, we have everything we need. After her arrival we will need help with childcare while I am spending my time at the hospital with her. We have excellent neighbors and ward members, and those who already know about the diagnosis have been beyond kind to extend offers of help. I am sure we will need help after her delivery, and we will ask for it. If you are the praying type, we welcome your prayers.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them! I keep a list of questions on my phone so I can ask the doctors, and many of those have been inspired by questions that people have asked me.

*For those who know me in real life and do not read my blog regularly, I use pseudonyms for my kids - Ike, Felix, and Trixie. The baby doesn't have a real-life name yet.

23 June 2015

2015 Road Trip - In Numbers (And A Few Pictures)

11 days, 10 nights
8 states (Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming)
Canoeing in 5 rivers and 1 ocean bay


17 miles of bike riding on the Hiawatha Trail (which was, apparently, exhausting for everyone)

About 8 miles of hiking (mostly in the Redwoods)

3 brothers and 1 sister visited

20 cousins visited

4 nights of camping

3 successful attempts at hitch hiking (by Eric)

And the discovery that one boy cannot get enough of playing in the ocean (no matter how frigid), while the other one cannot get away fast enough.

And since I'm a little bothered by the lack of chronological order of this post, a brief summary of our actual trip:
  • From Utah to California to see the Redwoods.
  • Along the coast of Oregon to stay in Netarts with Eric's sister and her family for a few days.
  • Additional canoeing and camping in Oregon, then off to northern Idaho (via Portland) to visit Eric's brother and family for a few days.
  • From Northern Idaho to Missoula, Montana, to visit another of Eric's brothers and his family overnight.
  • Down to Jackson Hole for a quick stay with my brother (and Ike got to stay an additional night).
  • Home again, home again, jiggity jog.

19 June 2015

Anniversary Trip in Hawaii

We got home from Hawaii well over a month ago, but I never blogged about our trip. It was delightful. On top of the fact that we had free airfare, we also stayed with Eric's very generous aunt and uncle, who currently live in Laie. Eric's cousins watched our boys for the first few days, and then Eric's parents took them for the last few days of our trip. We celebrated our tenth anniversary, and it was just a lovely experience all around.

We spent a lot of time on beaches, including catching a sunrise on our first morning since we woke up insanely early. (Which also happens to be basically the best photo taken of me ever, so I'm happy to share it.)

We didn't quite make it around the island in time to catch a sunset the one evening we tried, but this was pretty close.

On our actual anniversary we went kayaking up a river and saw a few sea turtles. It was a great day.

We also went swimming in a waterfall, and that was pretty fun. It was really cold, particularly compared to the ocean water, but once we were in, it was totally worthwhile.

And since we were staying less than a mile away, we of course made it to the Laie Temple.

We had a lot of time to reflect on our ten years together and how much we've grown. I sure love that husband of mine and am glad we got to vacation together for our anniversary.

18 May 2015

A Few Delightful Things

  • The flowers are blooming, and we welcomed our first (that we've seen) visiting hummingbird to our yard on Sunday morning. He was scoping out some salvia. I failed to capture a great picture, but here is my attempt nonetheless.

  • Our sprinklers have been turned off thanks to all the rain we've had in the past few weeks.
  • We've been buying girl clothes at yard sales. And I've bought a few items new too. Trixie will not be naked.
  • Eric has fewer than ten school days left. We have so many fun (and productive!) summer plans.
  • Our first roses have bloomed, and we've cut some and brought them in. So many more to come this year.

  • Noosa Yoghurt. Seriously. My favorite is coconut, but lemon is a surprisingly close second.
  • Protonix, or its generic equivalent. My extreme heartburn this pregnancy is finally under control, and along with it, most of my nausea.