Friday, August 31, 2007

Calling All Moms of Preemies

Today was Faith and Grace's 15-month check up. I went in knowing exactly what would become sticking points -- their ears and their weight. And I wasn't disappointed.

Today, their ears seemed to be fine, but Dr. T could already see some fluid build up in Grace's right ear, so we're on "alert" for an ear infection. And since Faith is just one big ear infection after another, we're always on alert for her. I'm certain tubes will happen sometime in the not-too-distant future.

The girls' naked weights were taken and Faith came in at 17 lbs, 14 oz while Grace is at 18 lbs, 8 lbs, 8 oz. I was astonished to see how little both of them had gained in recent months. I knew Faith wasn't gaining, but Grace isn't exactly packing on the pounds either.

I asked Dr. T about them and she agreed that they really aren't where they should be. To give you a reference, a friend of mine has a little boy who weighs 15 pounds and he's only four-and-a-half months old. My best friend's son is six months younger than the twins and weighs nearly 21 pounds. YOWZA.

Truthfully, my heart feels as though they will be just fine. I don't really think that there's anything wrong with them. But there's always that element of doubt that sticks in the back of your mind, making you doubt everything you know to be true. This time is no different -- I definitely have doubts.

Dr. T isn't in panic mode, either, which helped me a lot. She told me that they may just be small kids. She very politely pointed out that Todd and I are not exactly tall (Todd's a monster at 5' 10" compared to me at 5' 2") and that the twins being preemies may just be making their small nature all the smaller.

To be on the safe side, we're going to do some blood work to check for red and white cell counts and thyroid activity and see a Gastrointerologist to make sure there isn't some sort of digestion issue going on.

I'm not looking forward to either one of these, but I am looking forward to confirming that my girls are fine and just petite.

So here are my questions for you moms-of-preemies, moms-of-small kids and anyone else who just has something to add: Have you been through this with your kids? What was the outcome? Can you recommend any foods that can help my little ones "beef up" a little? We eat a lot of cheese and avocados around here, but I'll take all kinds of suggestions.

Leave a comment or zip me an email -- I'll take all the advice and reassurance I can get and truly appreciate anything you can add.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Susan Nino...This One's for YOU.

Susan sent me an email the other night, letting me know that she was impatiently awaiting my newest post. Okay, so it's been awhile. Here goes...

We've been enjoying the end of summer before gearing up for Devin's Pre-K this coming year. He's been scheduled all along to go to ParkHills Church for Pre-K, but we got a call yesterday that Crown of Life has an opening. We've decided to go to Crown of Life, as it is only a matter of blocks from our house and we can walk there. Devin is very excited, as he went to Crown of Life for Summer Camp and just loved it.

We're also finishing up on our bathroom renovations. We've gotten the room painted -- this time in a color that is not remniscent of a canary on crack -- and got the mirror framed. Todd painted all of the hardware a matte black and reinstalled it on our white cabinets. It looks beautiful.

Our contractor fell a little behind and wasn't able to start the tiling until today. True to his word, though, he rang the bell at 8:30 and immediately started ripping up some pretty awful looking carpet and (old linoleum in the water closet).

But he didn't get far. It turns out that our home builder did not put any kind of plywood down underneath the carpet. The carpet pad was nailed directly to the decking of the second floor! A big no-no in home building, from what I understand.

So that was going to add a few days and dollars to our project.

They went on to work on the water closet and pulled up the toilet and then the linoleum.

Surprise, surprise! Apparently, the toilet was never properly installed (or was re-installed after some repair prior to our buying the home) and a wax ring was never put down, allowing the toilet to leak every time it was flushed. We've lived here for over five years and never touched that toilet, so you can imagine how long this was going on.

The wood underneath and around the toilet was completely rotted. When the contractor stepped on it, is actually buckled under his weight. How that heavy toilet hasn't fallen through our ceiling is a huge mystery and an absolute miracle.

So all progress has stopped on the bathroom. I have only a bare, particle board floor and no toilet. The toilet is sitting in my bedroom next to Todd's side of the bed. And nothing can happen until the claims adjuster comes, looks at the damage and decides what we need to do.


I just keep thinking to myself, "We were so close!" All I needed was the floor to complete my bathroom. I was *this close*. UGH!!!

The rotten wood beneath where my toilet used to sit

Where my toilet now sits. This is what greets you as you walk into our master bedroom.

My poor bathroom

In Other News

Last weekend we had a great time with our good friends, the Ahmanns. Jeff and Todd have been friends since college and Jeff's wife, Alicia, and I have become good friends. They have a son, JamesThomas, who is only months older than Devin, and a two-year-old boy named Tate who is so cute I could just take him home with me.

The Ahmanns live in Austin and we decided that we needed to get together, since it had been since JamesThomas and Devin were only a year old that we last saw them.

We decided to meet halfway in between our respective cities, in the town of San Marcos. San Marcos is a college town and happens to be where Todd and Jeff went to school.

We met up at Aquarena Center. This is the place where both Jeff and Todd worked in college. At that time it was called Aquarena Springs and, along with the glass-bottom boat rides and the gift shop, they had an underwater show where visitors actually got into a submarine and watched mermaids and mermen swim around (this was Jeff's job!) with Ralph the Swimming Pig. There were gondola rides, nature walks, a hotel and even a bird show in which a handsome young man trained and showed off McCaw parrots to the delight of visitors (that was Todd's job!). In its hey-day, this was quite the place to visit!

Alas, with Sea World and Schillterbahn and Six Flags Fiesta Texas coming into the market, Aquarena Springs just couldn't compete and had to get rid of some of its locally famous shows. It's now more of a salute to the natural beauty of the Texas Hill Country and still features the glass-bottom boat rides, a boardwalk over the wetlands and an aquarium.

The boys just loved running around from exhibit to exhibit and the boat ride was a hit until Faith decided to scream so loudly that the tour guide had to actually cut her speech short. I know that the rest of the folks on the boat with us breathed a collective sigh of relief when we made it back to the dock.

After Aquarena, we decided to visit Jeff and Todd's old haunt, Valentino's Pizza. Again, the boys had a blast together and Todd and I enjoyed catching up with Jeff and Alicia as best we could in between trips to the potty, diaper changes, and two boys who did not want to sit still.

It was a great day and, as always, we had a fantastic time with the Ahmanns. Here are a few pictures from our day.

Devin fell asleep on the way to San Marcos. This looks so uncomfortable!

Devin and JamesThomas hit it off!

Me, JamesThomas and Devin

Jeff and Alicia

So that's the exciting news in our house. I'll post more as the saga of the bathroom remodel continues. Until then, here are some photos of my adorable children. :)

Tuckered out on the couch with Daddy

Pasta night at the Pruetz house! Faith loves pasta!

Grace is not nearly as impressed

The girls love to play in the dog's bed. I've just given up and let them do it. I'm a fabulous mommy. :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Maternal Instincts

In college, I majored in Public Affairs and Corporate Communications (which is really just Public Relations, but leave it to a PR student to switch the name around to make it sound much fancier than it really is). I doubled minored in both Sociology and Political Science. Funny...I didn't go into any of those three fields.

In Sociology, though, one of the first things they teach is you is that gender is a learned behavior and that boys and girls are essentially the same. We assign their genders to them by giving trucks and cars to boys and baby dolls and play kitchens to girls.

I never bought into this, though, and as my Sociology minor was proving to be as useless as a wind sock in the desert, I just shrugged it off and didn't pay much attention to it.

But apparently, it stuck with me, because that particular teaching comes back to me every time I see one of my kids -- especially Devin -- doing something very typical of their gender.

I've tried not to buy into it and have done things specifically to counteract any ill-effects I may be inadvertently putting on my kids. We bought Devin a play kitchen for his second Christmas. I've made sure that the twins have blocks and trucks as well as teddy bears and dresses.

I feel like I've done a good job of treating all of my kids the same way. I hold them to the same standards like, "Yes ma'am" and "No sir" and "Please" and "Thank you." I kiss their boo-boos, rock them when they are upset and play silly games with them.

From the beginning, Devin was all boy. He learned to say, "Vroom," without ever being taught and was naturally more rambunctious than his female counterparts. He wasn't much of a cuddler, but was instead more interested in running around and being loud. I'm telling you -- all boy.

The girls are a little more sensitive and a little more attentive to others' needs.

You might even say they have motherly instincts. Instincts that my boy never exhibited, despite being brought up in nearly identical situations.

Earlier this week, Grace wasn't feeling well. Faith was already feeling better with her newest round of antibiotics, so she was playing very quietly on the floor. Grace was crying, so I picked her up and sat down in a chair with her. The chair wasn't a rocking chair, so I perched my rear end on the edge of the cushion and started to rock back and forth, back and forth, back and forth with Gracie, to calm her down.

Faith watched me for awhile, and I quietly smiled at her and whispered that I love her. I didn't want her to feel left out.

About that time, Faith crawled across the room to the green, stuffed Hippo lying on the floor. She picked the toy up, sat up straight, wrapped her arms around the animal and slowly began to rock, rock, rock, back and forth. She was rocking her baby.

I thought it was so cute and even told Todd about it last night. But I figured it was an isolated incident.

This morning, though, Faith was throwing her usual morning fit as Gracie moved from one toy to another. I picked Faith up and rocked her back and forth the way I had done with Gracie a few days earlier.

Without even looking at me, Gracie crawled to the stuffed elephant on the floor, picked it up and rocked it back and forth in her arms.

So much for the good money that went into that Sociology minor, huh?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Poopapalooza -- The Sequel

It happened again. This time I heard the babies "talking" in their room. I walked in to get them up, dressed and ready for breakfast. There was Faith, sitting quietly in her crib, while Grace (who now has a fever) was sleeping in hers.

Then I noticed that Faith's bottom was bare.

Then I noticed the poop everywhere.

Before cleaning up, I ran into the master bedroom to change into one of Todd's old t-shirts so as not to get poop all over the white top I was wearning.

So then, it began again -- run the bath, get Faith cleaned up (around now, Grace is awake and is "asking" to be picked up from her crib), pull up all the bedding and blankets, disinfect the tub and bed, get the girls dressed and downstairs.

All while wearning Todd's bright red shirt that says, "Chick Magnet," on the front.

Are you getting a visual?

Why has this happened twice in as many weeks? Devin never did anything like this! Now I'm afraid to walk into the nursery in the mornings...It's a real crapshoot.

And in other news

I got a much better color for our bathroom and it's painted now. We have coffered ceilings in there, so we're going to paint the coffering. That'll be Todd's job. I'm done with painting for awhile.

The tiling starts on Monday. I'm hoping by next Wednesday, my bathroom will be complete. Here's to praying.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Ummmm...I was going for "serene, buttery yellow," but instead I got, "the canary that swallowed a lemon." Yowza....that's a lot of yellow.

So, I'm on to round three of painting. I went to Home Depot and bought a paint called, "Soft Yellow." If soft yellow is what I was going for in the first place, why the heck didn't I just buy it the first time around? No one ever accused me of being a genius.

Without the flash on

With the flash on

The Only Thing You Can Count On Is Change...

We have lived in our house now for just over five years. We love this house, although we know that one day we'll have to move. We need another room (or study), a game room and another bathroom.

But because we like this house so much, we want to stay here as long as possible. Also, we have a ridiculously cheap mortgage that makes moving very, very hard.

Most of the stuff we love is downstairs -- hardwood floors, travertine backsplash in the kitchen, custom crown moulding, custom lighting, floor-to-ceiling windows, etc. The downstairs is very pretty (at least in our opinions), if not a little bit small.

The upstairs, though... Well, that's another story.

As you know, Todd is a fantastic artist and have given our kids some beautiful custom-painted room, like the girls' Tinkerbell room and Devin's Hot Wheels room. The kids' bathroom is a fun mix of pink flowers and blue bubbles and different hook for each of their towels, above which are their names. It even says, "It's Soapy Shower Time!" above the shower -- a favorite bathtime song in the Pruetz house.

The guestroom is in pretty good shape too. Done in pink and brown, it's a little bit retro and a little bit modern all together. It's not fabulous, but it's fun, and,'s a guest room!

So really, all that leaves us is our bedroom.

When bought this house from the original owners, we fell in love with all of the custom work in the house, especially in the master bedroom. The female half of the couple who owned this house before us was quite the crafty one and she put a lot of work into the master suite.

The bedroom is done with a faux finish to look like stone, with an ornate, gothic-style red stenciling around the top. It's striking and beautiful. I'm not one for stencil, because I often associate it with "country" style homes, which just isn't my style, but this is so much different. I've really enjoyed it.

The stenciling in the bedroom

Close-up of bedroom stenciling

About two years into living here, as we were lying in bed, watching TV one night, Todd announced to me that there was a Devil's face in the stenciling, where the corners met. After sitting, staring at it for a moment or two, I saw what he saw. Since then, I've laid in bed every night, thinking, "Satan is watching me." It's the stuff nightmares are made of...
*Hint: Click on the picture to enlarge it -- it's easier to see the face*

The bathroom was spectacular, too. She'd used a similar stencil and stenciled a floor-to-ceiling pattern onto the walls. Now we have a 200-square-feet-plus bathroom with 12-foot-ceilings, so this was no easy task. After stencling hundreds of pieces over and over and over again, she antiqued it. The result was a pattern that looked like wallpaper, but was hand-done. A piece of work, although not exactly our style.

It's not a perfect view, but hopefully you can get the gist of how much work went into the paint treatment in our bathroom

For the first couple of years of living here, we really didn't want paint over this masterpiece, but as time wore on and the house started needing more and more work, we decided we'd just completely redo the bedroom and bathroom.

So, along with a few other projects around the house, this week will be home renovation week at the Pruetz residence. In the bathroom, we are pulling up the carpet (who the heck puts carpeting in a bathroom???), putting down mosaic tile, painting, framing the wall-to-wall mirror, adding new window treatments and new hardware.

We're not doing quite so much in the bedroom, as we pretty much like it the way it is. I am done with the stenciling, so we'll be painting in there and, eventually, adding in hardwood floors.

Both rooms will be a butter yellow color with black and red accents. Sounds a little garish, I know, but when done correctly (which I hope we're doing!), I think it will be very striking. We already have the red window treatments in the bedroom and will be investing in a couple of matching ones in the bathroom. We want both rooms to have similar decor so that they act together as a "suite" instead of as two separate rooms.

In order to pay homage to the previous owners' very hard work, I've taken some "before" photos of our bedroom and bathroom.

(Note: We are having some work done in our closet, too, for which we had to completely clear all of our clothes, shoes and other stuff out. Most of it is in our bathroom, on the floor. I tried to keep most of it out of the photos, but the stuff made it into a couple of pictures. Just didn't want you to think I'm a total slob. The truth is, I'm only a partial slob, than-you-very-much. :)

The bathroom, pre-priming

I'm not proud to admit this, but I'm the reason that our carpeting looks this way. Makeup, hair color (I don't mind telling people that I'm gray, but showing them is a whole other story), and other products have contributed to this carpet's demise.

The shower and the double doors leading into our bedroom

The double doors that lead into our closet

So yesterday was spent looking at paint samples, pricing tile, and purchasing the "stuff" we'll need to get the job done. We have a handyman doing our tile, but the rest we're doing ourselves. I don't like giving up control.

After we finally settled on what we wanted, we got everything purchased and came home. I started priming this morning, and here are the first in a series of "in the process" photos.

Not a fantastic photo, but you can see that the stenciling has been primed over

Wow...that's a lot of white

So it sounds like it's all going smoothly, right? Wrong.

Yesterday was not without incident. After putting the girls to bed at 5:30 p.m. Friday night (they were inconsolable and exhausted from missing their afternoon nap), I figured they'd be up early on Saturday morning.

Oddly, at 9:00, they were both asleep. I started to worry around 9:30, and went to check on them. Grace was quietly laying in her crib, eyes open, while Faith slept quietly on the other side of the room. I got Gracie up and dressed and took her downstairs. After she'd eaten, I decided that Faith really needed to get up.

When I went to her room, she was also lying quietly in her crib, wide awake.

But when I reached for her, I could feel her radiating heat. She was burning up.

Sure enough, 102.2 fever. We gave her Tylenol and breakfast and went on our merry way to Home Depot and tile stores (definitely contenders for "Parents of the Year."). Faith's fever was back by the time we returned and after she wouldn't eat lunch, I decided to take her to the after-hours pediatrician down the street.

Like clockwork, it's an ear infection. Tubes here we come.

Needless to say, the girls both went down early last night (6:30 ish) and before I went to bed, I decided to check on them. I never go into their room while they are sleeping, as they are such light sleepers that I risk waking one or both up. But I couldn't resist -- I really wanted to check on Faitharoo.

Boy am I glad I did.

I went into the room and peeked at Faith. In a deep sleep, snoring lightly.

Then to Grace, who was wide awake and lying on her back. When she saw me, she rolled over and stuck her little bare bottom up in the air.

WAIT A SECOND. Bare bottom?

The kid had taken off her diaper and thrown it over the side of the crib. Devin never did this and I was astounded to see such I sight. Todd was already asleep, but I woke him up to see it. He laughed and laughed and held Gracie Too while I changed her sheets (because, of course...she tinkled in her bed).

Give me strength...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Okay Susan...This One's for You...

My friend and fellow blogger, Susan, sent me a "Crazy Eights" email last week, where you fill out eight interesting (or at least random) things about yourself. I told her I'd do it and now that she's stalking me via my blog, here it goes. :)

1. I gave serious consideration to becoming a nun when I was in high school. A group of sisters even came to my house one day to talk to my parents about my joining their convent in upstate New York.

2. I took seven years of vocal performance lessons and have been trained in operatic performance. (That was a long time ago, though, and since women's voices don't mature until around the age of 30, I never actually hit the tones and pitches that come to mind when you think of the opera).

3. I was a pre-med major for half of college. Then I got a life. :)

4. When I was 16 years old, I could bench press 185 lbs.

5. I met Todd on Septeber 29, 1999 and we married exactly two years later.

6. My wedding was on September 29, 2001, only 18 days after the tragedy of September 11. Our reception was held on the 70th floor of the tallest building in Dallas-Fort Worth -- a building which housed the regional headquarters for the FBI and the headquarters of the second-largest bank in the nation. Needless to say, we had a few no-shows.

7. I wore a red clown nose in my engagement photo.

8. In 1997, despite being a staunch Republican, I took the trip of a lifetime to Washington DC to witness the inauguration of President William J. Clinton. I went with a group of students from college, along with our very well-connected professor. Because of her connection in DC, we were able to sit in the second row, just behind Congress. I sat next to Byron Allen (from the "That's Incredible!" TV show of the 1980s) and, as I was walking somehwere, I swung around to say something to a friend and ran face first into Whoopie Goldberg. I also stood next to Matt Lauer and tried to get him to interview me, but he wasn't interested in some college kid from Texas -- he wanted to talk to celebrities.

So there! Impressed? Me neither. :)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I *Heart* Texas

A number of my blogger friends have recently done "Things I Love" posts. Whether the posts are about every day items they can't live without (the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, TiVo and the automatic sliding doors and liftgate on my van are three of mine) or their collection of favorite summer shoes (I just cleared out 25 pairs of shoes from my closet, so this would not be a good one for me to post about), the lists are fun and have gotten some great responses in the "Comments" section of each blog.

I've been wanting to do one, but no particular subject has caught my eye -- until now.

As you know, I do some mindless at-home work for my former full-time employer, Mostly I proofread and publish comments on the pages that contain blogs or I answer feedback from livid readers, people who can't find the story they need or, every so often, someone who wants us to know that we're doing a good job. The work is not exciting and it's certainly not rocket science, but it is something to keep me from turning into a vegetable who only knows how to cook grilled cheese sandwiches and sing, "If You're Happy and You Know It" to very short people.

Recently, one of my projects has been to gather and verify data from nearly 400 high schools around the Central Texas region.

Now let's just stop right there. For those of you who aren't from Texas, I'll need to do some 'splaining.

You see, high school football in Texas isn't just a sport -- it's a way of life. Families spend entire weeks preparing for the big Friday night game by perfecting their recipe for hot chocolate, gathing up the coziest stadium blankets and bringing out all things team-related like sweatshirts, hats, stadium seats, pom poms and so on and so forth. Tickets are bought weeks or even months in advance and there's very often a tailgating party in the parking lot before the game.

And these aren't even people with kids playing. You should see the parents of the team members. The movie Friday Night Lights was no exaggeration. This is a part of Texas' culture.

Okay, that being said, has an entire section devoted to high school sports and, namely, football, come August.

It's been my job to input the names, addresses, phone numbers, school colors, mascots and stadium locations and, in doing so, I have been united and reunited with some of my favorite crazy Texas town names.

So now, without further ado, here are some of the best small towns in the Lone Star State. And yes, every single one of these does indeed exist.

Dime Box
Old Dime Box
Agua Dulce (means, "Sweet Water" in Spanish)
Bruni (as in "The Sultan of..."
Dripping Springs
San Diego (don't go looking for the Zoo,'ll be sorely disappointed)
Van Vleck

And a few, just to throw you off
Pflugerville (pronounced "Flooger-ville")
Boerne (pronounced "Bernie")
Gruene (pronounced "Green")
Helotes (pronounced "Hell-o-tis")
Burnet (pronounced "Burn-it")
Manor (pronounced "Main-er")
Buda (pronounced "Bue-duh")

Texas is a big state, so I'm sure I've missed a few obvious ones (and maybe some not-so-obvious ones), so post some of your favorites.

And while Texans like to think we're the only state in the Union (the only state worth mentioning, right? *BIG SMILE*), we aren't and there are plenty of good names for towns all over the USA, so post 'em and see what we come up with!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Welcome, Meg!

My stepsister, Heidi, safely and happily delivered Meg Ansley yesterday at 3:30 p.m. She weighed six pounds, 12 ounces and is 19 inches long. Daddy, Ross, and big brother, Luke (two-and-a-half) are very exicted as well.

Here is Meg's first video, shot by my dad.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Family Day at the Zoo

This'll have to be quick, but I had to write the down before I forgot.

Todd took the day off today so we could have a "Family Day." We spent the morning together, hanging around, went out to lunch at Alamo Cafe (Yum!) and then headed to the zoo to introduce the zoo creatures to what real wild animals are about. Our kids definitely take the cake in the wild animal department.

We combed the zoo, looking at everything from a Bald Eagle (I've never been so up close to one -- amazing!) to the biggest Catfish you've ever seen.

We took a turn down a raised walkway to look at a habitat filled with a number of different Cranes. We came upon one that was enormous -- his head was right at level with our feet. If he'd been standing next to me, I am sure he would have reached past my chin.

Devin looked over the railing at him and let out a Devin's Doozie.

Wow! That's a heck of a duck!

Have a great weekend!