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A mom trying to have it all
while daddy picks up most
of the load at home. Two
boys that d'rail our every
attempt to get it "right"-
realizing that we're happy
being "wrong".

The Durham Project

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Marshall is allergic to
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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Easter was always a big deal growing up and my favorite part was going to the "country" to see my dad's side of the family.  My grandparents live(d) on this land as long as I can remember.  Easter brought a big BBQ with a lot of people, go carts, dune buggies, card games and an Easter egg hunt. 

A lot has changed over the years and this specific Easter Saturday event now only happens every-other year.  I was looking forward to this year.  The boys were old enough to have fun on their own and really enjoy it.

These are "the kids" now.  This use to be me and my cousins.  Marshall and Braden have 3 second cousins in this bunch.  Marshall was so excited to be able to claim them as cousins. They have no first cousins.

a_bradn imp

And then they were off to hunt eggs... although I'm not sure where Braden is going.

a_kids run

I always thought it was normal to hunt for eggs with cows moo-ing in the background.


And Easter just isn't Easter without a mouth full of dust and bugs in your eyes.


This Easter made me realize that I'm not injecting enough of country culture in their childhood.  They were fascinated by the outhouse.  How do I flush?  How come there's no water in the toilet? Where do I wash my hands?  They don't know life without indoor plumbling.  They are missing out.  I remembered to teach them about sausage but forgot out houses.  I have ruined them!!


Eventually we said goodbye to the "country" and made our way back to the world of indoor plumbing.  It's a good thing we did because this year the Easter bunny had it's act together!  It delivered safe chocolate bunnies!  My kids have seen chocolate bunnies and read about them in books but never have they been able to eat them.  This year was different and the boys were thrilled.  That's one thing I won't be able to recycle for next year- truly, some of the stuff is 4 years old because I just put it all up as soon as the boys loose interest.  They haven't figured it out yet.

a_kids choc bun

You might notice one teenie-weeny problem with the above picture.  Yes, it's a new day but the boys' clothes are the same.  In the past I always bought special pajamas and had them all fresh and ready for the morning.  Not so much this year.  Easter was early this year and a girl has to cut corners somewhere.  We just threw them in bed and called it a day.  We didn't even bother to empty the ice chest where leftovers remained for a week.  Yes, we have completely cut all corners and just live in a big circle now.


Posted at Tuesday, April 01, 2008 by sjd
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Monday, March 17, 2008
Zoo, Keys & Beach

First, some pictures of a recent zoo trip... 


NO- Wait! That was last year... here's this year:


Some new zoo things this year.  A new exhibit that enabled you to watch a hippo poop.  LOTS of fiber in his diet.



But seriously, isn't it a magnificent looking animal.


And, although the kids have a combined age of 20, they all found love for a stroller.


Braden has developed a very specific love for keys.  He started talking one day about wanting to go key shopping.  Surely he couldn't mean that he wanted to go shopping for keys, right?  After upsetting him with my ignorance for weeks, I took him to a hardware store.  He picked out keys.  He truly wanted keys. I don't pretend to understand.


He's building up his collection.  The guy at Lowes even let Braden pick out whatever "oops keys" he wanted for free.  This is my kind of collection!  Found a bunny key on eBay for his Easter Basket!  Enabler?

Yesterday, on the way home from a birthday party, we decided to meet friends down at the beach.  One hour later we had a hotel room and were on our way.  We are nuts.

But who isn't nuts about this picture?



We were only there for 24 hours, but this pretty much sums it up.


And we enjoyed a new pet for the day...


We live on the edge, I tell ya!

Posted at Monday, March 17, 2008 by sjd
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Although you may have completely forgotten by now, I left you hanging on the results of Braden's MRI.  Turns out that his brain overfloweth and is herniating into his spinal area- Chiari 1 Malformation.  I know, that sounds awful and it can be... but not in Braden's case.  As long as it doesn't progress, he'll be fine.

Ask me why I'm not more worried.  Is it because my neurologist said so?  Well, he did... but that's not why I'm confident that it's nothing to worry about.  Somebody else told me that it wasn't anything to worry about "as is".   A new doctor did.  This makes doctor #6 in 6 months.

Although I'd been happier with our last neurologist, he still had the same faults as most doctors.  He had a lot better bedside manner and much more open to looking at other causes... but I think it ended there.  I think he is a great guy that talks a good game but in the end, he's just another doctor with hundreds of patients that grossly generalizes diagnosis without looking at the individual.  I've learned that if a doctor says "I saw 10 more just like him yesterday", that may not be a good sign.  At that point you really need to question their diagnostic abilities.

We've been to 2 pedi's, 2 neurologists, 1 immunologist.  I would have loved to have complete trust and confidence with one of them- but alas, I did not.  I never witnessed any of them use any critical thinking in association to Braden.  They didn't look at the pages of notes I provided or do any real tests- everything was clinical.  Looking back, I think it may have been that, for them, less information to analyze made their jobs easier.  When I volunteered suggestions on things I'd like to rule out I'd get "the look".  The look they give that says "I know what I'm doing, you don't".  I even got into very heated arguments with doctors only to hit a wall.  But I knew that there was something else going on- I wanted root cause!  Within my pages of notes (or this blog for that matter) there were red flags that didn't make sense- and I always thought back to the book that motivated me in the first place which continually reassured you that "mom's know".  The book that was suggested by another food allergy mom... where I found a lot more than food allergies- I found Braden.  It was a divine twist of fate.

Another twist of fate came after being compelled to invite an old co-worker friend to lunch.  I hadn't talked to her in years.  I never make lunch dates.  I did.  It changed everything.  We talked about Braden and my frustration with doctors.  She mentioned her doctor and told me stories of the amazing work he'd done with her, her family & friends.  He was an alternative doctor.  I was open to it.  I scheduled an appointment immediately- one that week for Trace (who had been in a lot of pain recently) in the morning and for Braden in the afternoon. 

I'll have to write about the experience for both Trace & Braden.  It was unreal.  I'd never experienced a doctor that was so prepared.  So engaged and just so plain smart.  He showed me things about Braden that I had never realized.  He helped me understand so much about him and who he is with medical evidence as to why.  He also had suspicions of the very illness I had tried to shove down other doctors throats.  He was the one doctor I had never mentioned it to.  He suspected PANDAS- Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated w/ Strep

The test, along with his previous diagnoses, was easy.  The results were clear.

Braden has a huge festering strep infection (4.5 x's the normal high- not simply "elevated") that is very likely causing all kinds of neurological issues- in his case Tourettes.  Keep in mind that this is not strep throat which is typically an illness of milk drinkers- and we are not (although he has had it before as a baby).  He is not "sick" (like you or I think of being sick) at this time nor was he when the blood was taken. This is an infection that is deep in his body somewhere- and it is a bad one.  He has probably had it for years.  Maybe his leg infection was a big clue.

You'll also see that his Serum Ferritin is low.  It is an indicator for "hemolytic anemia" and a bio marker for iron storage in his body.  The bacteria in his body are using all of his iron and tie up its availability.

There was smoke and we found a big huge fire.  Now we can focus on putting out the fire.  I pray that his neurological issues will go away with it... and the meds shortly after.  Strangely enough there does seem to be some evidence of genetic predisposition-  wouldn't surprise me since I had to quit dance team as a high school senior due to a strep infection that had moved to my joints.

We are elated, amazed and fascinated.  There's a direct tie between Tourettes and PANDAS.  I can't wait to cut it!

Posted at Tuesday, March 11, 2008 by sjd
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Thursday, March 06, 2008
Ball Season

There are only three seasons in our lives.  Pajama season, swimming season and then that time in-between called "ball season".  Last weekend officially kicked off ball season. 

Marshall scored a goal at his first ever soccer game.  He claims he scored 2 but I think that's some wishful thinking.


I love this picture "3"... because that's exactly what these guys are.


These 3 are religious lunch buddies at Marshall's safe table at school.  Marshall's one lucky kid. 

Braden started Blastball last weekend.  Marshall was there to help.


We're still not sure how Braden feels about playing.  This weekend should be an interesting second game.

There was one game that I didn't attend.  The aforementioned 3 have 3 younger brothers that are the same age as well.  Their 3 dads were crazy enough to take both sets of 3's to a hockey game.  3+3+3= not me!


Posted at Thursday, March 06, 2008 by sjd
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