Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Still glowing...

So I went back to the Nuclear Medicine department last Friday to have my levels checked again. Brook got out the geiger counter and I was "good" at 3 feet, but still too "hot" w/in about 12-15". It was crazy how quickly the levels jumped up as he moved in closer with the geiger probe.
I had him test himself and the needle hovered right at the bottom, close to zero, as it should. When he put it up to me, it flew up to the far right and made a sound. A sad sound. This meant it was back to my parents for another couple of days. This was on day 10, and the paperwork said 12 days, but everyone had said this was the conservative end of things- most people don't have to wait that long. "Lucky me", I was going to have to! He and another Nuke Med person said that I was ok to be about a foot away from adults, but still couldn't be near pregnant women and young children. I said I'd be back Monday morning for some good news.. hopefully!

On to Monday. Day 13. I was hoping and praying, along with a lot of my family and friends that I would be cleared today. I got there a little before 8:30 when everyone would be there. I needed to figure out what I was going to do because Brooke had a follow-up appointment with the ENT and Ben had his 9mo. check up. I REALLY needed to get Brooke in to the ENT since she was going to have to be x-rayed again and we were going to see if we needed to go ahead with surgery. A nice lady helped me and made it sound like they were expecting me. Pretty sad when they recognize you at the hospital! LOL. Another lady came out and used the geiger counter on me. My levels were a little less than they were on Friday, but still not low "enough" to get the ok for full contact. She did say that I could hold my kids and be around them, but couldn't hold them for longer than 15 or 20 minutes at a time and I couldn't sleep with them or my husband for another few days. *sigh*. For a co-sleeping family, this was a bummer! But, I, of course, don't want to put anyone at risk, so I will wait! I did decide to go home though. I had already packed up all of my stuff and was definitely READY to go home! Corey was at home waiting for me. He was waiting for me to get there so he could go to work. My friend Erin had agreed to meet me and go with me to the ENT so she could help hold the kids. Thank GOD for her!! My mother-in-law and her husband said they would come down to help out too, thank goodness! Corey has off on Wednesday, so this all has worked out pretty well. I have been able to hold the kids for a little while, here and there. It is sad not being able to hold Ben and put him to sleep, but there will be plenty of time for that later.

Erin went with me to the ENT appointment and it was a good thing she did! We were there for a while since the doctor saw both kids. Ben is getting over an ear infection and has fluid in his other ear. The doctor will follow up with him in December, but it looks like he is following in the footsteps of his sister with her ears (not a good thing!). Brooke's adenoids were even larger than before, one of her sinuses was clearer, and her tonsils were still huge. So.. surgery is scheduled for mid-December. She will be having her adenoids removed, her tonsils removed, her sinuses flushed out (since the strong antibiotics didn't even clear up her infection), and her tubes removed. Depending on how her ears look behind the tubes, he may or may not put new tubes back in. Jeepers!! It won't be a fun day and won't be a fun recovery, but she is one TOUGH Cookie and I am sure she will do just fine. She has also been having episodes of apnea from all of this. She snores and seems to have constant allergies, runny nose alternating with congestion. This should all improve greatly after her surgery!

Ben has HORRIBLE eczema- even worse than Brooke's. We now have to use Locoid, a prescription steroid cream, on him, since nothing else has worked. Hopefully this will help get it under control. He also has thrush in his mouth and an awful yeast diaper rash, from the super strong antibiotics he has been on for his ear infections. :(  Here's hoping that some Genetian Violet and Nystatin can help get that cleared up! He is 9 months old now and weighs 20lb and is 29 1/4" long. His growth has slowed down considerably! In fact, he was nearly 21lbs 13oz at one of his sick visits not long ago and is now down to just 20lbs! He was 19 1/2lbs at his 6mo. visit! His weight is just under 50th percentile and his height is about 75th.

And.. in other news.. I have completed my civic duty as the Spelling Fairy. I am happy to report that although this took me three different trips to complete my objective, it is done!! All letters are in place and have remained on the wall since I first started "fixing" the signs! I wonder how long they will be there! Some are glue-stick'ed on and some are taped. I also wonder if there's cameras on those signs and, if so, what the people behind them thought when they saw me digging paper and a glue stick or tape dispenser out of my purse and taping the letters on the wall! hahaha!! Here's the before and after pictures. Please to enjoy!

Before & After
(added the 'S' in Ultrasound)

Before, during (forgot the 'I' in Medicine)...

and AFTER!! All done! :)


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree!

I get these crazy ideas that I can make just whip something up quickly on the sewing machine! I saw a shirt made with ribbon and cut to look like a Christmas Tree! In typical Tracy fashion, I said, "I can DO that!!". So, I set out to do just that! I picked up a few of these shirts last year on super clearance. I think I spent less than $1 on this shirt from Target at the end of the season. Well, also in typical Tracy fashion, I thought I'd make the "tree" better than the example shirt I had seen. So... I used many more ribbons and different trims. Looks cute all laid out there, doesn't it?

Yes, it does. Then I remembered I 'd have to sew those suckers down. But, first, I had to cut them in the tree shape. My first order of business was sewing the white ruffle to the green polka dot ribbon though.

Then I moved all of my ribbons to my cutting mat and used my acrylic ruler to cut them into the tree shape.

Ooooh, la la!

Then I had to teeeediously cut teensy strips of iron-on fusible interfacing, and iron it on. Not bad until the ribbons got skinnier (or curvy) and smaller in width!

There's all of the pieces with the interfacing ironed on to one side. The next step is to peel off the other side of the interfacing then lay it out on the shirt and iron it down, being sure to keep your lines straight!
Oh and don't forget to heat seal the edges of your ribbons before ironing them down! *If I was at home I would use my wood burning tool instead of a lighter. Mostly because it is fun. OH, and using a lighter this many times makes your thumb sore from flicking the Bic so many times. That sounds weird.

There it is all ironed down! Pretty!
I sewed down every ribbon. Yes. I sewed two lines on each ribbon, one at the top and one at the bottom.

That left lots of threads to snip on the front...

and on the inside!

But, all of the tedious work paid off. It is super cute! :)

Scan Me

Wednesday I had to go back to the Nuclear Med department, in the bowels of the hospital. I was scheduled to go in for a Full Body Scan and to have my radiation levels checked again with the Geiger counter. I wish I had some information from the actual scan, but nope. As I have learned SO many times since I started this journey, be patient and eventually I will get some answers. There has also been a lot of waiting.  Waiting for appointments to come up, waiting to be seen, waiting to get results, waiting for time to pass, waiting for side effects to show up.. and waiting for them to go away. You get the idea.

I got there and was sent.... wait for it.... to the waiting room. *ding!* There was someone in front of me (again) and they would see me after she was done with her scan. I was given a bottle of water to drink in the meantime, to "help clear my throat for the scan". (Side note here. The bottled water they give you at this hospital is in these recycled bottles and it tastes nasty!! I threw it away and drank my own bottled water. Never thought I was a bottled water snob, but apparently I am. That or the Texas Health Resources system needs a different water, or bottle, source).  I was curious about who this other person was, because she was in front of me when I came last week to take my pill and I had to wait until she was done then too. I wanted to meet her since she was exactly where I was in this process. So, when a lady came out to the waiting room, I asked if she had just had her scan. She said yes, so we chatted. Her name was Susie and she was a school counselor. I also met her husband who was very nice too. She had her thyroid removed due to Papillary cancer in a few weeks before I did in September. I gave her my information and we will be keeping in touch. It is nice to have someone going through the same thing, at the same time. Then they called me back.

I was sad that Johnny wasn't working that day. He was the rocking awesome Nuke Med tech I had dealt with all of the other times before. Today the tech was Brook. Brook is a boy. It was hard just now to type his name and not put an "e" at the end of it since I'm so used to typing my daughter's name, Brooke. Anyway, Brook was not nearly as fun or informative as Johnny. I asked if I could take pictures and he was hesitant and wanted to be sure none of the screens were in the pictures and no ones faces, etc. HIPPA schmippa! LOL! But, I understand. So, here's the deal when you go in for a FBS (Full Body Scan). You lay down on your back, put your arms in this loop thing that just makes it so you can relax your arms and they will fall at your side and be held in- much better than having them strapped down! You go down into this machine and it is all around you. The part by your face comes down to within inches, I'm serious, maybe less than 2" from your nose. Even if you aren't claustrophobic, and I am a little, this makes your heart race. The *good* thing is that even though this is so close to your face, it is open on the sides. However, you have to look straight up. Brook (I did it again, had to erase the "e"), asked if I wanted a fan on. I said yes, and it helped. I also closed my eyes and took some deep breaths and that also helped quell the pattering in my heart. I've had put on my "big girl panties" a lot throughout this process, and this was one of those times. I HAD to get this scan done, so a freak out was going to get me no where. I was there alone so there would be no one to cry to or calm me down, so I put on my imaginary big girl panties and went on about my business.
Here is THE machine. I asked what kind of a machine. It's not an MRI, it's not a CT scan. I was told it's called a Gamma Ray scanner or a Full Body Scanner or a Nuclear Medicine scanner. Not really the answer I was looking for. It should have a name. I will name it. This is a picture of Simon. Simon the scanner.

Ok, so back to what actually happens. You are laying on your back and then you are moved down into the scanner. Your hips are down in that round area, your head is under the front part and it is lowered on to your face. You have to lay completely still. When my eyes were closed and I was trying to NOT focus on the feeling that my head was in a box with a lid on it, I had to occupy my mind. I sang the ABC's in my head many times, in English and in Spanish. I counted, first up to 10 and back down many times. Then I decided to count to 1,000. I stopped around 400. As I was counting, I was reminded that my body was still very Hypothyroid. Many posts ago, I posted about what your body goes through when it is hypothyroid. The side effect that was currently rearing it's ugly head was the loss of train of thought, otherwise known as "brain farts" (sorry mom and dad, I know you think that term is crude). I kept losing track of where I was and kept forgetting what number came next. Yes, even when counting to 10!! SO frustrating! I did find that I did better with the mental counting when I counted really quickly! I tried to recite some poems I had to memorize when I was in 3rd grade. The one I remembered the most of was "Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me, Too" by Shel Silverstein. The first scan is 20 minutes or more long. You just have to lay there and wait. It moves you out slooooooooooowwwwwwlllllyyyyy. Once my head was out from under the scanner I was much better and opened my eyes. You are able to turn your head at that point, if you need to, but really there isn't anything to look at. The scanner isn't loud. It makes some clicks and hums, and once it sounded like it had some flatulence, but nothing too loud or distracting.

Brook he came in and said, "You are done.. with that one.". Me, "With that one?". Indeed. Up next was one that was only a couple of minutes long and then another 10 minute scan of my head/neck area. He asked if I wanted to get up and stretch or wanted to continue. I said to just "get 'er done".  He had another person come in and he got a metal stick, called a marker. They put me back under the scanner and lowed it onto my face again. He touched the metal marker to the tip of my nose and told the other guy, "Ok" and they took a picture (the scanner did). Then, he moved the marker down and got a "picture" of it touching my chin, my neck (where my thyroid used to be), my sternum, and finally on my xiphoid process. Then I had to be still for the 10 minute scan (I sang the alphabet again and counted again....). When it was over and they moved me out of the scanner Brook asked if I was ok. I said, "Yeah, why?". He said he noticed I was moving my feet and legs. I said, "Oh, yeah, well my butt and thighs are numb". I had been laying there for quite a while!

This is me laying on Simon after the scans. Maybe naming the scanner wasn't a good idea after all... This is also not a good angle of me. At all. Let's move on to the next picture, shall we?

One nice thing, I suppose, is that you can wear your regular clothes. No need to be in a hospital gown or anything. I was just instructed to dress comfortably. You can tell I did, by the dirty sneakers in the picture..
This picture also reminds me of something. If you are obese, there is NO chance in hell you are fitting inside of that tube!! I'm guessing there are certain hospitals that have machines that would accommodate larger people, but that is just me making assumptions.

This is a view of the ceiling and the end of the face plate thing you look up at. I didn't get the picture I wanted here. I wanted a picture of it further back in the machine, but this is what I got. They really should decorate the ceiling or have a screen on there with brain teasers or something. It is far too boring.

YES. I. DID.!!!
I sure did go home and cut out the missing letters to "fix" these signs at the hospital! Can you see the letter I added? It looks MUCH better!!! I have the three letters the main sign needs, but there was too many people around that one and I was only able to fix this one! I'm curious to see if it is still like this when I go back on Friday to have my levels checked again! :) I will also try to fix the other sign at that time as well!

Just in case you didn't believe me when I said I was in the basement of the hospital. How do you like that cinder block wall?! I don't lie.

I was "cleared to be in public" by the nuclear med tech. I shouldn't be closer than 3 feet to others though and I can't be closer than 3 feet to pregnant women and children yet. He said I could go shopping and if I were to pay for something, that would be safe too. So.... I got myself a $1 popcorn from the cute elderly hospital volunteers in the library. I love popcorn, but this wasn't too thrilling since my taste buds are burned, I can't really taste salty stuff, and food makes me sort of have that dry cotton mouth feeling. This is all so appealing it makes you want to rush right out and down a dose of RAI for yourself, now doesn't it?

I was reminded that the holiday season is in full effect! With all of this stuff going on, I haven't really had time to get into the holiday spirit. I thought  maybe this Christmas tree would help. It made me smile.

This one did too.

I think Black Friday shopping will be what really puts me over the edge and gets me pumped about the holidays!! Not sure what we are doing for Thanksgiving this year, but I think getting out the decorations afterwards and getting lights and things up will be therapeutic. This is our first holiday season with TWO babies ! How exciting!!! Speaking of babies. I am going back on Friday to see if my levels are low enough to go back home. I may be able to go home Saturday, but not sure. If not, I will just wait until Sunday as planned. I am SO ready for hugs and kisses from my hubby and babies!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I decided to get back in the sewing saddle. I had a handle on the nausea and a little energy for a while, so I took full advantage and whipped up four pairs of pants the other day! Here's a little tutorial, of sorts. The pictures are terrible- the lighting in this room isn't great and I only have my phone, so sorry!

First, grab a pair of pants that fit your little one and some fabric you want to make into pants. Fold your pants in half with the crotch on one side and the outer seams on the other (crotch is to the left in this picture). You will need to fold your fabric over, making it a little bit wider than your existing pants. Do this twice (once for each leg). You want the fold on the straight side (long side) of the pants.

You will want to cut your fabric out, leaving about an extra 1 1/2" at the top for the waist, and an extra 1" the rest of the way around. You keep the long side flush with the fold. Once you cut, you will have two identical cuts, like the picture above.

Open them up and lay them down, right sides facing. Sew the crotch (the curved parts in the picture).

Open up and move the sewn crotch seam to the middle- now you will see the pant legs! :) Sew the pant leg seams, using a 1/2" seam allowance. I start from the crotch and go down one leg, then go back to the crotch and go down the other leg. To help prevent fraying, you should either serge the edges, use a zig-zag stitch, or use pinking shears.

Fold your cuff over once and press, and then again and press. Using the finished cuff as your guide, fold over the other pant leg and line them up so the length of the legs is the same. In this picture, the front cuff is folded over twice, the back one is folded over once.

Now they are matched up and ready to be sewn.

Make the waistband casing. Fold over the waist 1/2" and press. Then fold over about 1" and press again. Sew around the waist, leaving a 2" gap that will be used to insert the elastic.

I use a length of elastic that is slightly smaller than my child's waist. Pin it at one end and fish it through the casing. Sew the two ends together and tuck inside the waistband. Sew the 2" opening shut, turn your pants the right side out and you are done! :)

I started this project with the idea that I would make matching PJ pants for the kids. Well... unless Benjamin is related to Barbie.. his chunky butt and thighs will NOT be fitting in those! LOL!!! Looks like Brooke will have some matching pants for a doll or something!

My friend Carole sent me this WONDERFUL Ooga Boog knit!! I just LOVE this print! For these, I was sure to make them big enough for my boy! I also wanted to sew these with a French Seam. I'm a huge fan of the french seam. It so neatly encases all of the raw edges and looks so much nicer than a serged or zig-zagged edge! It's also easy-peasy! All you do is sew your seam wrong sides together, using 1/4" seam allowance.

Then you flip it, right sides facing, and sew again, using a larger 1/2" seam allowance (being sure the raw edges from your first seam are completely encased).

You can sort of see the raw edges all neatly encased in the French seam above. Easy, right?!

Now, since this is a knit and it's a little bit bulky w/ the encased edges, the seams at the crotch would have been too bulky if they overlapped where it meets the pant legs. So, to cut down on the bulk right there where they join, I just cut a notch out right at the corner on each side (front and back of the crotch). This will make more sense when you are making them, I promise.... err I hope.

I also pushed one seam to one side and one to the other. This worked out perfectly.

And there it is! The gorgeous French seams! *drool*.

I ran out of bobbin thread so I got out my handy-dandy Side Winder Bobbin winder and filled a couple.. or nine bobbins! I love that device and I love all of the purty colors of thread in my bobbins too!

This picture is just to show you that it is OK to piece elastic together if you are short a little! Just be sure to zig zag the heck out of it so it stays put! :)

You will never know once it's encased in the waist band!

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE this material and I think these pants are the cutest evah!

My final pair of pants for the day was inspired by this Kleenex box. I LOVED the monsters on it and knew I wanted to make some fleece Monster Butt pants. I started with this one-eyed Blue Monster guy.

I also have to mention here that sewing with fleece is SO easy!! No need to worry about encasing raw edges b/c there is NO fraying! Woot! Just one fold, sew down and done. You could seriously crank out a ton of fleece pants in no time! However, if you are making a monster butt, it will take a LOT longer!
For these, I sewed the crotch seam and then stopped. I did NOT sew the legs yet, b/c I knew I would need to be moving them all around when sewing on the applique.

I cut out all of the pieces and sewed them on to the main monster face first. This was tedious!
Then, I pinned it on to the pants and sewed it on.

I was glad I left the leg seams open (you can see here that it came in handy).

And done! I can't wait to see Ben in these monster pants crawling along! Too cute!


I needed some smiles and the easiest way to produce smiles is for me to look at pictures of my babies, since I can't see them in person right now. So.. I thought I'd share my smiles with you! Enjoy!

Brooke is sitting on the tree trunk seat I made for her by using a chainsaw. I love that she loves to sit on it and now I am compelled to make one just like it for her brother! She is stepping on the heads of the cement turtles on each side of her chair.... Which reminds me, we need to paint those tutrles.

Look at my sweet baby boy!! Gosh I miss those cheeks!

He was actually sick in this picture. He had a high fever, but needed some fresh air. Gosh he's handsome!

My little cheeser in the best store on earth: Costco. It's true and she knows this. Whenever I tell her we are going shopping she always asks if we can go to Costco! I have trained her well!

I was quite impressed with his natural model pose (not bad for an 8-month old!)
Following in the footsteps of his sister with his picture-taking skills, I'm SO proud!

He thought it was HI-larious when I was playing peek-a-boo around the tree trunk!


Love her!

I miss you babies!!!!
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