Sunday, December 28, 2008
Here's the latest picture of our youngest kiddos.
At our first ultrasound, our ob/gyn only saw one baby.
At our second ultrasound, a couple of weeks later, another baby popped onto the screen. What excitement! We were expecting twins. However, it appeared that both twins were in the same aminiotic sac. Apparently, this happens in a small % of twin pregnancies. It's referred to as "mono/mono" or "momo"... and it's very dangerous for the babies. I read that there is a 50% mortality rate for momo's (although our ultrasound specialist said it was 60-80%!). Also, successful momo pregnancies usually end with bed rest from 24 weeks or so (when the babies become viable) until birth.
Our ob/gyn referred us to an ultrasound specialist, but we had to wait for about a week and a half before we could get it. This was a little bit of an anxious week - we were ecstatic at the thought of twins, but concerned they they might be "mono/mono" and might not make it. We reminded ourselves that God is in control.
About a week ago, we had the ultrasound at St. John's The Perinatal Center(*). The ultrasound tech took several pictures and measurements of our babies. It was so cute - they looked like they were playing patty-cake at one point (communicating in secret twin sign language, maybe?). Another time, Baby A had her head on Baby B's belly. I'm saying "her" because that's just my guess; we should know the sex for real in a couple of weeks. But the tech couldn't see a membrane between the babies - they looked momo to her.
Then the specialist doctor came in and took a look. Praise the Lord - he found a membrane between the babies! So we are very thankful for that.
This wikipedia article describes the different kinds of twins pretty well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin "Fraternal" twins always have separate placentas and amniotic sacs.
"Identical" twins can have separate placentas and amniotic sacs. (This is "di/di", the safest). Or they can share a placenta and have separate amniotic sacs (mono/di, this is most common for identical twins, and is what ours are.) Or they can share both placenta and amniotic sac (mono/mono, the most dangerous).
The specialist told us about the greatest danger to our mono/di twins - something called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin-to-twin_transfusion_syndrome). He said this occurs in about 20% of mono/di twins. So far, our two look completely fine, no evidence of this disorder. Please pray that they will continue to grow and develop healthily.
(*) the sign in the perinatal center says "The Perinatal Center", so I figured I should leave the "The" in there.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
When John Henry was a little bitty baby,
No bigger than the palm of your hand,
John Henry's mammy looke dup and she said,
"My Johnny gonna be a steel-driving man,
my Johnny gonna be a steel-driving man."
On the day after Thanksgiving, I started trying to set up an old model train that Rebekah's dad had given me. This train is an American Flyer setup from, I don't know when, maybe the 50's or 60's. Anyway, after picking up a "lockon" clip, I was able to get it running a bit Saturday night. So we began nailing the track to my train board.
The train board is a 4' x 4' sheet of 1/2" plywood, painted green, to look like grass and to look like Christmas.
This picture is from Saturday morning. Each tie on the model railroad is held down with two tiny tacks. I held the tack in my left hand and sat a punch on top of it with my right. Then "Jake Henry" hit the top of the punch to drive down the tack.
It was fun getting to do this with Jacob, and I think Jacob enjoyed it especially because he was able to do something important.
Later, I got Stan into the act - I had Stan pick out the nails and set them into the holes in the ties.
The tasks were a little tedious, but both kids kept at it until we had nailed down all of the track. This took a while!
I fiddled around with the train a bit. I sanded all over the tops of the rails with 100 grit sandpaper. I tweaked the tender and the searchlight car so that they wouldn't short out the track. I took the engine apart and cleaned up the area where the brushes contact the rotor. I tried to clean all the contacts, and sanded down all of the metal wheels. Now it's working pretty well! I'm still getting a little sparking from one of the tender wheels.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
After a game of basketball:
Here we were almost ready to leave Silver Dollar City for the day and were enjoying some music
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
As soon as Stan saw the put-put he began asking to go over to play. When I finally let him, he played for a good 10 minutes trying to get the ball to go into the hole. It was hilarious watching him, because he kept falling backwards over the side of the wall. He'd fall down on his bum, get back up, concentrate, get all set up to put, then fall over again.
After successfully navigating the Corn Maze.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Since I hadn't expected any rain, I hadn't brought any rain gear at all. I put Jacob's "soft shell" on him. But it wasn't a true "shell" at all - the fabric is like a soft shell, but it didn't have significant water-repellant ability.
For myself, I just put on my regular bike outfit - shorts and a jersey. I had a long-sleeved base layer, but I figured I would save that for when I got to feeling really miserable.
As we began on our trip back up the Katy, we passed a few riders who had left from Klondike (many of the other campers had brought bikes along, although I was the only one who biked in.) They were all bundled up in long hooded raincoats.
We hit the trail and I brought the rig up to cruising speed. The rain was coming down, not severely, but sufficient to get us wet and cold. I remember thinking to myself, "Ok, this seems bad now, but in about an hour, I'll think back about how comparably comfortable this half-soaked condition was."
Interestingly, we saw several times more bikers on Saturday, even in the rain, than we had seen on Friday night.
Thankfully, the rainshower was short-lived. By the time we got to Defiance, the rain was no longer falling. We pulled off the trail and rode to the bike shop in Defiance. At the shop, we bought a 24oz of Coke (Jacob had dropped one of our Aquafinas playing "baseball" at the camp and broken it), a couple of ponchos (just in case), and some special Jelly Belly jellybeans.
The Jelly Bellies were raspberry and blackberry flavored, and were made of a central jellybean part covered with little cruncky candy bead "seeds". Jacob wanted to get them for his mom... sweet. The whole family enjoyed trying them on the next day. Reviews were mixed.
Anyway, thumbs up to the bike shop in Defiance - they were friendly folks with clean restrooms. They do bike rentals, and they even have Ted Drewes frozen custard.
We left the bike shop and continued on our ride. Jacob decided to start singing. So we sang, There is a Fountain Filled With Blood, Grace Greater Than All Our Sin, and, On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand. I think some of the other trail users were a bit puzzled. And I was riding so hard that I barely had breath to sing.
After we had ridden for a few miles, Jacob told me to stop - he had seen an animal at the side of the trail. He said it was white, and it looked like a hedgehog or something. I figured that what ever it was would have run away by the time we got back to it, but we pulled over and walked back to see what it was. There, in the grass about 20 feet or so to the side of the trail was not a hedgehog, but the biggest mushroom I have ever seen!
The trail up to the overlook was really steep (I didn't have my Garmin on, so I don't know the exact grade - I bet it was over 10%.) but it was quite short. It was fun and just a little strenuous. Here are some of the sights from the overlook.
Labadie power plant on the other side of the Missouri River.
Don't throw stuff over the edge!
After checking out the view, we headed back to the campground and began packing up. Right as I was taking the tent down, it began it rain...
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I really had never made pancakes before. I used a box of "just add water" pancake mix. And just added water. So far, things were going swimmingly.
I poured a pancake into my $7 steel "nonstick" fry pan from Wal-Mart. A short time later, I tried to flip it. BURNT and STUCK in the middle, still pale around the edge.
I did the same with the next pancake.
Finally, I worked out a system. I would take the pan off of the fire, slip a little peice of butter into the pan, and mash it around with a paper towel. Then, I'd pour in a tiny little (2-3") pancake and cook that.
Our nifty little tiny propane stove also puts out a tiny little circle of heat. So it's really easy to scorch a pancake while the outside is still practically raw.
I brought two cups of mix, and we eventually ate almost all of it, except for what was used in the pancakes below.
One thing that worked like a champ was the little lexan French Press; you can see it full of coffee in the picture. I made a pot on Friday night, but I didn't want to drink it all because I didn't want to be up all night. It was good and strong. The coffee on Saturday morning was mighty fine as well, and I think I drank it all.
After brekkie it was time for cleanup (again), and we dropped by the playground. This was one of those new-style playgrounds with all the rope equipment, and the little climbing wall. Jacob was a little too small for it.
After some time at the playground, I grabbed my camera and we decided to check out some of the paved trails in the park...
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
We got to Klondike Park a little bit before dark. Klondike Park is a pretty new park, I think. It used to be a sandstone quarry.
The quarry part in the middle is now a lake. There is a trail that goes around the lake and over a corner of it on a bridge. For some reason, the lake reminded me of Yellowstone. It's a little bit other-worldy around the lake, because there's a lot of fine white sand underfoot and the vegetation is a bit odd. I didn't take any pictures of it, though.
Like I said, Klondike is a pretty new park, and its camping facilites are fairly luxurious. You can rent, in decending order, a conference center, cabins, deluxe tent camping sites, and basic tent camping sites.
For some reason, Klondike calls the deluxe sites "basic", and the basic sites "primitive". The nicer of the sites has a picnic table on a concrete slab with a metal roof overhead. I didn't see the "primitive" sites, but I think their picnic table is uncovered. Personally, an uncovered picnic table is not really "primitive" to me, but I don't know much about camping.
There are ten so-called "basic" sites, and we got No. 9. One thing that's weird is that the tent sites were all clustered fairly close together. I guess that's nice if you're camping with another family. The family next door in No. 10 was a couple with a maybe 3-y/o girl, and they were nice and quiet. Some of the other campsites were noisier, but 9 and 10 are slightly set off from them, so it didn't bother me.
We got our tent set up before it got dark. Our tent (The North Face Tephra 22) was certainly the smallest in the campground. Then, I tried to get a fire going... a couple of false starts and a lot of blowing, and we had enough fire to roast some hot dogs. I put some pre-doctored baked beans on the propane stove while the weenies were roasting.
We ate in the dark wearing LED headlamps.
After hot dogs, I cleaned up in the very nice camp kitchen located on the side of the bathroom/showers building. Then we made S'mores. Then I cleaned up again, and we went to bed.
Our chocolate bars had become totally liquid on the ride down, but I laid them flat on our metal pot lid and the chocolate hardened by s'morestime.
Jacob (with a few tips from Dad) was a masterful mello toaster. He perfectly browned every one.
The picture above is two really bad pancakes from breakfast. Maybe I'll BLOG about that tomorrow!
view of the lake
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The trail conditions were pretty good. Occasionally, I would ride over some deep ruts that had been cut across the trail by our recent rainstorms. But overall, pretty smooth sailing. We rode for about 10 miles or so without any significant stops. I was hoping to get halfway before we started snacking...
At about ten miles in we stopped at a historical marker (Lewis and Clark slept here) and ate some "GU".
This stuff isn't really a good snack for youngsters. I also had some Hot Tamales candy (Jacob called them "Hot Duds") that worked better for Jacob.
The section of the trail from St. Charles to the Page Extension bridge is fairly dull and unpleasant, but once you pass under the Page bridge, you enjoy riding that is more secluded and scenic.
Sometimes we had fields to the east and trees to the west. Sometimes we had trees to the east and trees to the west and trees over our heads. Sometimes we had trees and swampy flooding to the east and bluffs to the west.
There was a lot of flooding. Some of the water was green on top. We had a brief discussion about whether the green stuff was algae or duckweed. I'm in the algae camp.
This is the Daniel Boone Judgment Tree Memorial. There used to be a big tree here where Dan'l Boone would listen to people's cases and pass judgment. But the tree died, I guess, and there's a small tree there now.
Here is our bike at the Judgment Tree Memorial. You can see that it's loaded down. We had firewood, a tent, sleeping bags and pads, food, cookware, a camp stove, clothes, and probably some other stuff that I'm forgetting. You can see that Jacob has a horn and speedometer on his handlebars.
At one point, I ran over a dark-colored snake that was stretched across the road. He was only a foot-and-a-half long or so. We stopped to take a look at him, but by the time we had walked back to where the snake was, he had gone. I guess that means he survived.
We had forgotten water bottles, but Rebekah had set us up with some 20oz Aquafinas. Water was running thin on this trip. The guide map says that there is no water between St. Charles and Defiance. Believe it. There is a nice trailhead with restrooms at Weldon Spring, but no water. Even at Defiance, I think you'd have to go into the town to get a drink; the trailhead is without water (correct me if I'm wrong).
It was starting to get darkish when we finally got to Klondike Park.
The final hill into Klondike topped out at 15%, according to the Garmin. My HR topped out at about the same time (194), as can be seen on this graph:
Hmm, my last two pictures aren't clickable; I'll need to fix that.
Last Friday, Jacob and I went on a Katy Trail bike camping trip. In the morning, I loaded our tandem on my car and took it to work. In the afternoon, Rebekah brought Jacob up to my workplace, and Jacob and I left from there.You don't have to have a special tandem rack to carry a tandem bike. You can carry a tandem on a trunk rack if you take off the wheels. Here I have a 1998 Cannondale RT1000 on a Saris Bones trunk rack. I tied the forward and aft ends of the bike to the loops under the bumper for a little more stability. It worked - the bike was very stable on the rack.
While I was putting the bike on the car, a couple of hot air balloons flew over our house. Last weekend was the Forest Park Balloon Race.