Alaina got her first big-girl haircut last Saturday. WooHoo!
Until now, we had been taking her to a salon that caters to kids. It did the trick — especially in making her comfortable enough to allow someone to cut her hair. But they’re always packed AND loud, so I wasn’t looking forward to her next haircut.
But on Saturday, it dawned on me that my hair stylist said she cuts kids’ hair. Since I already had an appointment for myself, I called to see if Beth would have time to cut Alaina’s hair too. Luckily she did!
So Alaina and headed had a little mommy/daughter time as we both got haircuts Saturday. I was amazed at how grown up my little girl was in the big chair.
So many thanks to Beth at Payton Place Salon in North Little Rock for doing a great job on Alaina’s hair! Farewell to the children’s salon — this mama’s little girl is ready for the big chair now!
Well that was interesting.
For the past few days, we’ve heard squirrels scratching away in the attic. Matt and I would look at each other and say, “We’ve got to get those squirrels out of the attic.” But neither of us really had any idea how one would go about such a task. So it would be forgotten until those squirrels started scratching again.
Then yesterday we heard a squirrel in the bathroom wall. Uh oh, the little rodent had just upped the stakes. But how do you go about getting a squirrel out of a wall?
But then this afternoon happened. We heard the squirrel under the dishwasher. Now don’t ask me HOW the squirrel got from the bathroom wall to under the dishwasher, but the little guy did. So Matt tries to lure him out from under the dishwasher before the little rat with a fluffy tail eats the wiring or the insulation, fries himself and/or sets the house on fire.
Next thing we know, the squirrel is in the dryer. Once again, I’ve really no clue how he got from Point A to Point B, but he did. Then Matt is trying to get him to run out the patio door. But by this time, the squirrel has caught the attention of Ginger and Abby who have spent countless hours in the backyard trying to lessen the squirrel population one furry kill at at time. A squirrel is in their house — oh the indignity could not stand! So they run at the squirrel, trying to catch it and generally terrifying the creature more than it already was.
The next thing I know, the squirrel is running toward the back of the house to the bedrooms. Into Alaina’s room it goes. (Thankfully Alaina is sitting at the dining room table and not in her bed when this goes down.) Because Alaina’s bed is where the squirrel is headed. He runs up the side and to the headboard, where he balances precariously. BTW, squirrels have seriously awesome balance. Then he crosses her room in a flash and starts to climb up the bookcase. The books in the bookcase thwarted his attempt to hide in the shelving — another use for a children’s library!
At this point, I’ve handed Matt a small cardboard box with the idea that he should trap the squirrel in the box. I don’t know WHY I thought the squirrel could be caught in a box. He couldn’t. Instead, he dodges the box and heads back to the laundry room. By this point, we’ve opened the front door and are attempting to escort it from the premises. FINALLY, the squirrel runs to freedom and leaves the house.
So thus is my tale of The Great Squirrel Caper and how the Chase family spent their Sunday evening.
P.S. My Cat is a worthless specimen of catliness. As all of this was going down, my cat just looked at the squirrel, kind of like she was asking him, “Who are you? And why are you here?” But she made no effort to catch him. Obviously, Arkie Mama’s Mr. Kitty would not have allowed such an interloper into the house. Maybe I need to borrow him for a few days.
Jason DaSilva is a documentary filmmaker who was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis when he was 25. Trust me when I say in the wide world of MS it really doesn’t get worse than primary progressive. It is fast, aggressive and debilitating.
To understand his disease (and help others understand too) he did what he knew to do. He made a film about it.
When I Walk was filmed over seven years and shows how a very active young man very quickly found himself in a wheelchair. He tried various treatments — nothing worked. There are drugs for those of us with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. The drugs don’t offer a cure — but they can buy time. There are no treatments for progressive MS. There is nothing to stop the effects of a terrible disease.
But the film isn’t all sadness. During the seven years DaSilva is shooting and editing When I Walk, he falls in love and gets married to a woman named Alice whose mother has MS. They struggle with his disease and the constant demands it makes on them. But they find happiness. They try to have a child and Alice suffers a miscarriage. But at the end of the movie, Alice is pregnant.
Yesterday (Oct. 9) on Meredith Vieira’s talk show, the world met Jason and Alice’s 18-month-old son, Jase. You can watch the interview here.
It was wonderful to see the newest member of the DaSilva family.
When I Walk is a difficult film to watch. It is raw, it is painful, it is real. There are highs and there are lows. But at the end of the day, Jase is a very real reminder that MS doesn’t win. Life goes on.
Alaina has decided that the remnants of the tree in our backyard make for great climbing!
Heidi, Jennifer (and Nick) and I got dressed up Sept. 25 for A Vintage Affair, benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It was a wonderful night for a very worthy cause. Thanks to the generosity of attendees, more than $37,000 was raised to fight MS — and to find a cure.
A few years ago, Matt and I signed up as potential bone marrow donors with Be The Match. At the time, we discussed it briefly. We are both organ donors and we figured, ‘Why not.’ To be perfectly honest, we — or at least I — never figured we’d get a call.
But earlier this summer we did get a call. Or to be more specific, Matt got the call.
Initially, all we knew is that Matt was a potential match. When we signed up for Be The Match, they swabbed our mouths for a tissue sample. (It was super easy and painless.) Based on that swab, Matt had popped up in the database as a potential match for a woman with cancer. More tests were needed to see if Matt would be the best match. Be The Match asked if Matt would be willing to give some blood so that they could do more tests. Without hesitation, he said yes.
I will admit it, I hesitated. I was hesitating all over the place. For the first time of many during the process, I asked Matt if he really wanted to do this. He replied that this was why he signed up in the first place.
So he went to a lab in town and let them draw about 7 vials of blood.
Not long after, we heard back — Matt was the best match. So then the discussions started about whether they’d need to do a “bone marrow transplant” or whether they would instead harvest peripheral blood stem cells. There was also a question about where we would need to go so that Matt could donate.
If you’re wondering where the discussion was about whether or not to do this — there really wasn’t one. From the moment Matt learned he could possible save someone’s life, he wanted to do this. And I wanted him to be able to do it.
Now that isn’t to say it was easy. Those of you who know me know that I’m a little Type A. Sitting back as my husband and a very nice lady from Be The Match ironed out the specifics drove me a little nuts. As we waiting to find out if the dates that worked for us worked for the patient, I again questioned Matt if we really wanted to do this.
I’m ashamed to say that my frustrations over the scheduling probably introduced the only real doubt Matt ever had about being a donor. He really didn’t want to disrupt our family. But in the end, we both knew that he had to do this. It was simply too important.
So we started the shots of filgrastim. For the first one, we went to a local clinic so they could take all of Matt’s vitals and monitor him for an allergic reaction. The second, third and fourth shots would be up to me. I figured if I can stab myself for my MS medication, I could stab Matt. Of course, I wasn’t counting on the medicine being in vials. My MS drug comes in a handy prefilled syringe. I have never had to draw up my medication. So seeing those little vials scared the crap out of me. Thankfully, the nurse practitioners at the clinic were wonderful teachers and took extra time to show me how to handle the vials.
The whole point of filgrastim was to send Matt’s blood production into overdrive. The drug would stimulate the bone marrow to churn out lots more blood, including the needed white blood cells, stem cells and plasma that would be harvested. How one reacts to the drug really affects how long the harvesting procedure will take. And somehow Matt ended up having the textbook reaction to the drug.
When we arrived in Washington D.C. on Labor Day for the procedure (yes you read that right, Be The Match flew us to D.C. for this because the coordinator in Memphis was out when all of this really needed to go down) Matt’s blood levels were really elevated. This was very good because the woman he was helping needed a lot of blood. In fact, they estimated Matt would need to cycle 24 liters of blood through the machine to get all of the needed white blood cells, stem cells and plasma. He ended up going through about 10 liters. Yeah, he really had superblood.
Now before you wonder how my husband is still alive after donating that much blood, the procedure he underwent is called apheresis. Basically, they put a really nasty looking needle in his right arm and took his blood. A machine pulled out the components needed for the harvest and then his red blood cells were returned to his body through a needle in the other arm. Matt was to keep his right arm straight and still for the procedure, which could run anywhere from three to six hours. His took about four hours.
At the end of the four hours, they took more labs from him. Even after 4 hours of harvesting his blood, Matt’s white blood cells and plasma were still slightly above average. Yup, superblood.
That isn’t to say it didn’t take a lot out of him, because it really did. He rallied for our attempted flight home that evening (*groan* a perfect storm of late planes, followed by problems with the brakes!!! and then a weather delay, which culminated in an unexpected night in Atlanta) and our early morning flight home to Little Rock. But once we made it home, he was worn out. He really is just now getting back to normal.
The whole experience was pretty cool in my opinion, but I had it easy. I was just there in case Matt needed assistance — he was doing the hard work. But he never wavered about wanting to do this. I didn’t really understand why until he told me shortly before the trip that he was doing this for me. *sniff, sniff*
Then he told Facebook (and I really cried):
Many of you have already seen Yavonda Chase’s post about my stay in Georgetown University Hospital.
I wanted to explain two things:
1) Why few people knew. I told a few people at work what was going on — some friends and family. I wasn’t comfortable sharing the information, because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. Most people haven’t and I doubt that they would have, but I also might have been uncomfortable answering the question “why?” I hadn’t really figured it out until the week before I did it.
2) This leads me to the second explanation, and one that I would expect from the people I know. Why? Three years ago, my wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; most if not all of the people reading this know that. When I got the call that someone far from me had a terrible disease that I might be able to help with, I didn’t balk. And the reason was that in a very brief moment of thinking about it, how would it make me feel that someone who didn’t know my wife or me would voluntarily do something that they didn’t “have” to do that might stop my wife’s suffering. I have little to offer for a chance to heal someone — I never studied medicine, and I even hurt my wife putting on (and taking off) bandages and giving her daily injections. When that chance popped up, it wasn’t really a choice — it was a reflex.
I just finished the procedure. I am sore. I am tired. And if they asked me to go back on right now, I think I would.
So now you know why I’m pretty convinced I’m married to the most wonderful man in the world. I know there is some serious competition for that title, but Matt is definitely a contender.
Now that you’ve read my account of the procedure, check out the Active Style section in the Oct. 6 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette as Matt tells his story.
My family, especially my husband, loves to eat soup. My husband could eat it all year long — but I’m not a fan of soup when it is 100 degrees outside, so I generally pass on it in the summer.
So on the first day the weather turned chilly this month, my husband was making soup. In this case it was his veggie soup, which is one of my absolute favorites!
I highly recommend serving this with your favorite bread — we lean toward crescent rolls, but a good crusty bread works well too.
Matt’s Veggie Soup
3 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs red potatoes chopped into bite size
1 lb carrots chopped to bite size
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
4-6 stalks celery, chopped
1 bag frozen green beans
One can kidney beans, rinsed
* 2 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning — it may not seem like it, but this a KEY ingredient!
1 32 oz package of Vegetable broth
One can stewed tomatoes
In large pot, heat olive oil. (1) Add potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, salt and pepper and ½ Old Bay Seasoning to the pot. Saute until onions are clear, about 5-6 minutes, adding more oil if needed.
(2) Add broth, kidney beans, stewed tomatoes, and rest of Old Bay Seasoning, adding a bit more Old Bay if needed. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
(3) Add frozen green beans and stir well. Cook for 30-45 minutes until potatoes and carrots are tender.
Voila! Dinner is served!
I just love this picture of two cousins — Alaina and Colt. They are definitely members of the others fan club — it is a mutual adoration society!
I find is so amazing that they are in very important phases of life this year, almost like bookends. Colt is a senior in high school — next year he will be heading off to college. Alaina is a kindergartner — at the very beginning of her education. That realization makes moments like the one captured in this photo all the more precious.
Pop Up in the Rock, which previously has focused on underdeveloped areas in Little Rock in an attempt to show how awesome they could be, crossed over the River and into North Little Rock this weekend.
Thus, Pop Up in Park Hill was born.
For those of you who have never visited North Little Rock’s Park Hill neighborhood, you should check us out. We have some awesome little shops — my favorite being Andres Coffee Shop. They have great coffee, great bites to eat and a great atmosphere to enjoy it all in.
So I was excited about Pop Up coming to Park Hill and showing how awesome this neighborhood is and how much better it could be. An additional bonus was our fantastic weather this weekend — seriously, who can resist temps in the ’70s?!?! — so Matt, Alaina and I headed to partake in the fun.
A great crowd turned out for all of the events. There were tons of families and lots of dogs, so many in fact that I could have turned this post into “The Dogs of Park Hill.” But I resisted, although I totally had to “help Alaina” pet as many friendly dogs as possible.
The first thing our family did was look for the food trucks. It was lunchtime and we were hungry. We weren’t the only ones who had the food truck idea, so the lines were pretty long. Matt and Alaina got in line for hotdogs and I headed over to The Southern Gourmasian. I’ve eaten at this truck before during Main Street Food Fridays and I have to say, I have never had a bad meal from them. Yum, yum and yum!
After we finished eating, we checked out some of the vendors selling their wares. We definitely stopped in to see my former co-worker and friend, Erin, at ArkieStyle. Matt picked up the awesome black cassette-tape shirt!
By this time, Alaina was getting a little grumpy, so we started walking to the car. We (Matt and I) looked longingly at the beer garden, featuring Diamond Bear beers, but sadly, kept on walking. Of course, the rock-climbing wall caught the whole family’s attention, as did the BMX show, sponsored by Angry Dave’s Bicycles.
We had a great afternoon at Pop Up in Park Hill. Did anyone else make it out there on Saturday? What did you think?
Alaina is a total daddy’s girl. If she could, she would never leave Matt’s side. So he’s been having her help him cook dinner. If he keeps this up, we may have two cooks in the house! (I obviously am NOT counting myself!)