Monday, June 27, 2011

A Juiced Two-Year-Old...

It's been a little over two weeks since the little Miss was diagnosed with ITP, placed on steroids to bring up her platelets, and sent home from the hospital for us to freak out over monitor closely.

Since then, things have been a bit interesting in the Jackson casa.  First of all, have you ever lived with someone who has a large dose of steroids coursing through their veins?  No?  Well, let me enlighten you.  

First, the little Miss has a mean case of 'roid-rage' every afternoon around 4 pm. During this time, for roughly 10 minutes she repeatedly screams:  "NOWAYNOWAYNOWAYNOWAY!"   
It's really precious.

As suddenly as it begins, it ends just as abruptly when she picks herself up from the floor, hugs me and says, "sorry mommy."  
Yeah,  it's freaky.

There's another little side effect from the roids...the munchies.  Our day looks a lot like a page from the Eric Carle book, 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar.'

Have you read the story?  Basically a teeny, tiny, little caterpillar pretty much eats his way through the entire food pyramid in a week:

Like the caterpillar, the little Miss is a bottomless pit.  Unlike the caterpillar, she is not building a chrysalis, but rather juicing.  I think I even heard her exclaim, "Feed me Seymour!" during a particularly hungry day.  I don't believe Eric Carle would appreciate me paralleling steroid usage against the story line of his children's book. 

With all of the negative side-effects, the positives far outweigh the negatives.  As of last week, the little Miss's platelet levels were a whopping 253,000, placing her in the 'normal' range!  She's responding much more quickly than the doctors anticipated and we are rejoicing!  We are slowly weening her from the steroids, and waiting on today's CBC results.  If her numbers continue to be high, then the doctor will continue to lower her dosage.  We hope she is able to be steroid-free in the next week or so, while continuing to monitor her platelet levels weekly.  

We are so thrilled that her health continues to increase, and are so thankful for all of your prayers!  Keep them coming, they are working!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stumble. Fall. Flub. Fail. But Get Back Up...

"This is really, really..." At that moment I stopped listening to my professor and began hearing in my head, "Wonderful!  Brilliant! I love your perspective of Hamlet as he wades between the recurring theme of damnation and redemption.  Well done!  Do you mind if I keep this in my file to show future students?"

But, as he cleared his throat, I came back to the present moment and heard, "...really, really bad.  Perhaps the worst paper I've read all day."  He removed his glasses and began rubbing his eyes in frustration.  I sat there and started to chuckle, thinking he was kidding...but the look on his face and the slight pulsing from the vein in his balding forehead said otherwise.

My smile faded as my ego deflated like the air leaking from an oversized balloon.  I nervously picked at the fibers of the worn blue office chair I was sitting in. I was only days away from graduation, and my professor was telling me how my dissertation totally stunk to high heaven.  I just spent four years in the English department with high-hopes of becoming a technical writer, moonlighting on the side as a novelist.  At this rate, I wasn't going to be shopping a book anytime soon.  I was told I couldn't cut it.  It was my style, my topic, everything.

He gave me a passing grade, and I graduated, but my self-esteem took a major hit.  He was right.  Looking back, that dissertation didn't necessarily fit the mold of what was coming out of the English department.  Some students seemed to write at a level on par with brainiacs I couldn't even touch. 

After graduation, I worked a few years as a mediocre grant writer and did a few brochures and newsletters for a company in KC, but my heart just wasn't in it.  I lost my passion.  I packed away my journals along with my goals.  I completely lost my confidence and began taking different career paths.  It was a little late to be rediscovering myself, but there was no way I was going to write again, let alone allow others to read my writing.

A couple of years ago, my husband asked me, "What's your passion?  What do you really love to do?"  I couldn't answer him.  It used to be writing.  But I didn't feel that was an option for me any longer.  He encouraged me to begin journaling again, just as a way to feel more connected to God during my quiet time.  I dug out my dusty journals from a box in the basement, and slowly eeked out a couple of paragraphs here and there.  After a while, it seemed like everything was coming back to me.  The words began to pour out of me and onto the pages of the tattered journal.  It felt comfortable.  Familiar.  Fun.

I wasn't writing earth shattering literature...I was keeping it simple and writing about life.  What I knew.  Then, I did something that was a huge stretch for me.  I started to blog.  I knew no one outside of family and a few friends would read it, so it was just a little spot out on the Internet to make my journal come alive, and document all the craziness of being a parent.  It was fun and freeing, and a place to capture all of my swirling thoughts.

Selfishly, I suppose I blog for myself.  It's a place for me to practice being open and writing what's on my heart and mind.  I don't have a 'blog theme'.  I'm not a crafter, or a photographer (as you can obviously see by my subpar camera skills), or a fashionista or foodie blogger (though I do eat food).  It's my journal that I hesitantly open, and then turn my head and hide my eyes so I won't see anyone reading it.  Some posts may be good, and others are just horrible and I think to myself, "I can't believe I posted that!"  And, try as I may, sometimes my grammar and punctuation is atrocious (like my overuse of ellipses...).  But, I've made a promise to myself, that the goal is to 'just post.'  To keep writing, and writing, and writing, because I love it.

If 32-year-old Nikki could go back and pep-talk 22-year-old Nikki, I would ask, "Why are you so quick to throw in the towel?  Why does one critique negate all your writing efforts?"  I would venture to ask, "What are your dreams?  Goals?  What is that little thing you love to do, but you keep burying it, because you don't think you're good enough, talented enough, or smart enough?  Get out of your comfort zone and do it...pass or fail." 

Now, this is not where I step up to the microphone, give it a good tap and declare that I am biting the bullet, 'going pro', and releasing a book.  Not even close.  Sharing this story is simply a reminder to myself (and maybe you) that God has given each of us something that He wants us to use to give Him glory.  In doing what we love, we may stumble, fall, flub, or even fail.  It's not about me, or whether I receive accolades, or pats on the back, but rather, using the talents and gifts to point back to Him and give Him the glory.   

Why do we do the things we do?  Because it's our passion?  Because it's who we are?  Because it's what we love?  My challenge to myself (and you if you'll let me) is to not scrap something you love (or avoid what God is calling you to be obedient in doing) because you think you will not succeed.  Or for fear of not cutting it.  It's less about your success and more about bringing glory to Him.

Monday, June 20, 2011

On the heels of Father's Day, what else could I post but a little recap.  I promise there's something for you in this if you stick with me friends.

We started the morning with homemade blueberry muffins.  I'm not one to toot my own horn, but this recipe is pretty yummy, and has even received approval from B's little brother Caleb (better known as Uncle K.K. in this house).

This is K.K...

Anyway, being the good sister-in-law that I am, I always make sure I whip up a batch of these muffins for K.K. when he comes to visit.  He once asked me for the recipe.  I gave it to him, and after making them he declared that, "His didn't taste the same as mine."  I reminded him that they just lacked my love. 

After muffins we Jackson's took a paddle boat around Gray's Lake.  If you're a Des Moines friend and haven't done this!  It's only $5, and totally entertaining.  A bit hot and sweaty but still fun!  AND...every month during the full-moon, you can take a moonlit boat ride.  Sounds like a winner to me!

Later that evening, we went to our favorite 'kids-eat-free' spot, the Gateway market!  I'm still daydreaming about my blackened salmon sandwich.

Okay, so before I move on to my next topic, I'll share the muffin recipe.  Make this and you won't be sorry!

Blueberry Muffins
(yields 24 muffins)

3 C Flour (I use white whole wheat, but regular is fine)
2 C sugar
1 stick + 2 Tbs softened butter
1 Tbs. Baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 C. Milk
1 1/2 C fresh or frozen blueberries
(if using frozen, thaw and rinse)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with paper liners.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.  Blend in butter until crumbly.  Reserve one cup of flour mixture and set aside (for topping).

To the remaining flour mixture, add eggs and milk, stirring until just combined.  Fold in blueberries.  Divide batter among the muffin cups, top with crumb topping and bake 18-20 minutes or until muffins test done, and topping is golden brown.

In other Jackson news, we received a very sad phone call yesterday afternoon.  B's grandma died.  We are so sad, but so grateful for the time we had with her, and I feel blessed to have known her these last 10 years.  She was really special.  So special that she was the mother of 15 children (B and I will not be trying to break that record anytime soon) and grandma to hundreds of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She celebrated 102 years in March...and as many family pointed out, it was 102 years filled with joy and love.  To have lived such a long life was truly a gift from the Lord.

Four Generations

It may sound silly, but one of the things I will always remember her for are the pumpkin rolls she would bring to Thanksgiving dinner, and the handmade doilies she gave as wedding gifts to each of her grandchildren. Both a tradition.

She has left behind an extremely rich legacy, and we hope to continue passing down a love for the Lord and family to our children. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011


87,000 is a number worth celebrating.  It's a big number.  It's more than we asked for.  I'm talking blood platelet levels friends! (I wrote about our scare with the little Miss last weekend HERE).

The little Miss jumped from 26,000 platelets after Tuesday's CBC to 87,000 yesterday!  We are so excited, as we've surpassed the 50,000 benchmark and are in a more stable category.  This was again, an answer to prayer that far exceeded what we were asking for.  We anticipated a small increase and prepared for even a slight decrease in platelets...but, in God's grace and mercy, we received wonderful news!

Most close to us know how gloriously active our wee ones are.  They climb, run, jump, skip, and move their little bodies with an absorbent amount of energy.  Okay...let's swap the word 'energy' with the phrase, "monkey-like abandon."  With this energy level, fear crept into my heart about the little Miss's safety.  It's hard enough to keep her two-year-old body from stumbling and crashing, so I worried and fretted and became over protective of her every move.  A natural response most would concede. 

But, when a dear friend came to visit, she saw me fret and jump to grab Eva at every little trip, stumble or bump.  In her sweet, soft-spoken way, she gently reminded me that I was not releasing Eva into God's care.  She didn't wag her finger at me, or criticize me as a mom.  She just gently reminded me that I was exhausting myself with worry.

I think it no coincidence that during my next quiet time I came across this verse:

"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare of the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I am trusting in Him." Psalm 91:1-2 (NLT)

It was a sweet and humbling reminder that I was  not allowing myself (or Eva) to trust in HIS safety and finding HIM as a place of refuge. 

As the saying goes:  "Let go, and let God." When I stopped fretting over Eva, her health (and frankly her gravity-defying stunts--within reason), and trusted God's protection for her, it was so freeing!

Now, I'm certainly not allowing her to climb and jump, but, I am letting her live with a teensy bit more freedom. 

We continue to pray and trust her levels will continue to increase.  The little Mr. has been so sweet in his prayers for his baby sister as well.  The other night he so earnestly prayed that God would make his baby sister feel better and make her bruises go he can run in the house again.  Oy vey!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Virus Here, Virus There...

Here a virus, there a virus, everywhere a virus-virus... 

Two weeks ago we Jackson's started what we like to call the 'tour de virus'.  It started with a virus our computer picked up that basically wiped out everything.  Or all the important things...okay, mainly the Internet.  Which is important...or something. Heck, what do I know, that's why we hired an expert.  It's fixed, that's all I know.

Then, we Jackson's did a little virus sharing of our own and passed around a nasty little bug that took up residence for more than a week.  We were hacking, and sneezing, fevering, (among other less than pleasant symptoms) and were generally feeling pretty crappy.

The little miss unfortunately took a turn for the worse.  On Tuesday I began noticing some bruising on her backside.  I figured she fell pulling her usual Eva-Knievel stunts.  By Wednesday, the bruising had worsened and covered a good portion of her body, plus she had some hematomas inside of her mouth.  I googled the antibiotic she was on, and it seemed she was having a side effect. 

I called the peds office and they urged me to rush her in.  The pediatrician looked her over, determined it was not a reaction to her antibiotic, and quickly ordered blood tests, all the while throwing out scary words like Leukemia, ITP, bone marrow cancers, and blood disorders. 

The blood came back normal in all areas except platelet levels.  A little science lesson for you:  platelets are the sticky, disc-shaped-cells produced in the bone marrow.  They aid in blood clotting, by dispatching to an injury site and clumping together to form a web to stop the bleeding.  A normal platelet count is anywhere from 150,000-400,000.  Eva's were below 7,000 putting her in a critical category and placing her at risk for internal bleeding at the slightest injury.  Incidentally, she was placed on prednisone, with hopes of suppressing her spleen (the organ that produces antibodies) just long enough until her platelet production could catch up.

Basically, what happened was the white blood cells (the virus fighters in our immune system) began attacking Eva's platelets rather than the virus she had.  This is a rare condition known as ITP.  It usually occurs in children ages 2-6, and can be an indication of other diseases, or simply the result of unknown circumstances (in Eva's case, a typical virus that went haywire). 

I spoke with my s-i-l Jamee (a pediatric RNP in KC) and she told me to be prepared as this is serious, and likely would require hospitalization.  Talking to her really helped me to understand what we were dealing with, and get a chance to get my wits about me.

The ped asked us to come back Thursday morning for another platelet check, and her count was again below 7,, she was admitted to the hospital where we would meet with a Hematologist (blood doctor) to discuss her numbers, rule out any other blood disorders, and start a treatment plan.

While at the hospital her count continued to drop to 5,000 and then again to 4,000.  At this point, the hematologist felt confident that we were definitely dealing with ITP (which was a relief of sorts) and that while recovery would be slow (typically 3-6 months before platelets fully recover), she would make a full recovery with a treatment plan of prednisone followed by weekly blood draws for the next several months until she fully recovered.  We were also given strict instructions, to place her mattress on the floor, remove dangerous toys, and limit outdoor play...especially no playground equipment.  While on the prednisone, her immune system is compromised, so we are to be cautious of her being around those who may be ill.

When her platelet count dropped to 4,000, it seemed as though we would be in the hospital for quite a while.  The night before her next blood draw, I spent a LOT of time praying.  Praying that all of the other numbers would continue to be in the 'normal' range.  Praying that her platelets  would climb (which the Hematologist told us not to expect).  Praying that she would be safe from any small injuries that would compromise her little body. 

Then I remembered this verse from Mark 11:24:
           "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer,
             believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

So, I prayed for one more thing.  I prayed specifically that Eva's count would not be what the hematologist would expect.  That the count would defy the odds, and that the number would be 10,000 or greater.  I prayed that it would be for His glory.

The next morning we did the blood draw and waited.  A couple of hours later, the hematologist came in and asked if we had heard the results.  We said we hadn't and he said, "Great! I wanted to be the one to share the good news!  Eva's platelet count was 20,000!" 

Our sweet girl's number went from 4,000 to 20,000!  We were so excited and I looked right at the hematologist and said, "I don't know if you are a praying person, but I prayed the platelets would be greater than 10,000 and I know this was God's direct answer to that prayer."  He smiled and said, "Well, it looks like it worked, and now you guys can go home."

So, we are home now, a bit nervous, but home.  We have the most amazing hematologist.  The guy loves blood and is good at his job, so we know Eva is in amazing hands.  We will be meeting with him for weekly blood draws for the next few weeks, and if her numbers continue to climb we will move to every other week, and eventually to once a month blood draws to ensure the platelets are consistently stable.

It's likely Eva's numbers will rise and fall over the next few months, and while that is normal, we continue to pray that her numbers will rise quickly and trust that this will be answered prayer.

So...a long story, but that's why I've been gone for a while.  It's likely my posts will be a bit skimpy around here as I'm monitoring the little miss, but I hope to get back to posting as I am able.

For more information on ITP, you can visit the below sites...they are written by super-smart people, and do a much better job than I ever could of explaining the ins and outs.


ITP Foundation

Children's Cancer And Blood Center

ITP Support Association

I hope you all had a wonderful, virus-free weekend!


Friday, June 3, 2011

I'm Busting Outta Here...

And there's nothing you can do to stop me...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Preschool Is So Over, And A Throw Back To The 90's...

On Tuesday the little Mr. completed his last day of preschool.  I guess some would say he graduated...but I don't want to think about makes me skip ahead too many years in my mind.  And then I cry...and then my husband laughs.  So, yeah.  Preschool is just over okay?

During the impromptu program, we listened to their last songs of the school year, (memorable songs like 'Hip-Hop Humpty' read that right...every time I hear it I think of **Digital Underground's Humpty Dance--that early 90's hip hop song that peaked the curiosity of me and my pre-pubescent friends.  you've got the Humpty Dance stuck in your head now too?  You're welcome)
Miss M. passed out their certificates, and the kids bolted from the song rug to grab sticky popsicles and say goodbye to friends, while excitedly chatting about what kindergarten will be like.

The little Mr. put up with me snapping pictures of his every move. I'll be honest, I had to beg for pictures of him with teachers and little friends...the paparazzi can be so intrusive sometimes.

Miss M.

Mrs. P.

And one last time at his locker...

He's yelling, "Catch ya on the flip-side!"
And a squeeze...
With preschool now at a close, I will leave you with these parting words:

Do the humpty-hump UH, do the humpty dance.


**I did not link to Digital Underground...this is a G-Rated blog afterall.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

All That Glitters Isn't Gold...

Remember when I bragged shared in this post about the steal of a deal I got on fabric?  I snagged 35 yards for around $7 bucks. Yeah...well, frankly, sometimes you get what you pay for.

After I washed and dried the fabric for the curtains, it wrinkled up like a prune, and I can't seem to get the wrinkles out.  I've ironed, I've thrown the fabric in the dryer, and I even tried my friend's tried and true 'spritz' and hang method.  Nothing has worked to knock out those darn wrinkles.  

*Allo wrinkles...and furry over sized dog bed

While I pressed on with my curtain making plans, it took much longer to pin and prep those stinking curtains than I anticipated.  I also had a heck of a time getting an accurate hem line.  So, I'm going to have to let out a few seams and re-hem the blasted fabric, as once they were hung they were all sorts of crazy lengths and cattywampus hanging there on the rod *eye-roll*.

Now, on a positive note, I really like the color.  Once we repaint the room a greyish/putty color, the curtains will look great.  And come on, they practically paid for themselves!  Nevermind the fact that every morning I wake, those wrinkles are mocking me...or maybe smiling at me (when I turn my head sideways). 

So, my goldmine is more like fools gold...but, if any of you smarty pants readers have a tip on knocking out those wrinkles, then you'll just make my week!