December 30, 2012

On the 3rd week of Christmas...

Wow.  Crazy Holiday Happenings. We’ve been non-stop celebrating Abi’s birthday and now Christmas since I posted 2 weeks ago… AND we’re still smack dab in the middle of it. Celebrations ‘round these parts last a long time… as they should.

The McConnell clan is here taking over the block (like last year) and as I type this, the coffee is brewing and family members are slowly starting to wander in for their morning cup o’ joe… This grand holiday finale (5 days with the McConnell clan) is always one rowdy/awesome way to roll towards the New Year and if we’re lucky, the cops will be called again before everyone heads home J Good times.  Good times.

Anyhow, the last two weeks have been awesome, busy, exciting, relaxing, and crazy.  Two days before Abi’s birthday, my mom’s family had a birthday/Christmas celebration at our house.  They made it very clear before they came that my only job was to open my front door.  I didn’t have to make anything…clean anything… nothing.  So at 11am they all showed up in a van, complete with gifts, chili, awesome sides, apple cider, my grandmother’s sweat tea, and a birthday cake!  We did Abiella’s birthday party and then we celebrated Christmas.  It was awesome. 

The next morning we had a celebration with my dad, stepmom, and little sister.  They showed up bearing birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, and a huge bag of Panera goodness.

Want to know how to make a new mama happy?  Bring her a box full of flavored bagels with 3 tubs of different kinds of cream cheese to munch on throughout the week.  Thanks family!!! What a perfect celebration!

The next day, Sean and I celebrated Abi’s birthday with a small party at the house.  And by small, I mean the three of us.  Me, Abi, and Sean.   It was simple and fun and perfect.

The next day Sean left for the week and Abi and I ventured to a physical therapy appointment, worked on Christmas gifts, totally redecorated our living room (Thanks to my friend, Hannah.  Thanks Hannah!!! – more on that to come) and visited with lots of friends. Over the course of the week I had Abi's prescriptions, items from Walgreens, subs, pizza, gifts and groceries delivered to my house. Good grief I've got some good folks in my life.

A few days later the Christmas festivities geared back up and we’ve been going strong ever since.  My mom came and picked me and Abi up and we drove to the mountain where we were greeted with a fire, a holiday concert special on tv, and delicious beef stew.  Abiella LOVED IT.  From the second we arrived she was smiling… she loved looking around the house, sleeping in her crib, being held by the fire… she was in heaven.

The next day Sean flew into town and met us on the mountain.  We had an amazing Christmas feast, sat by the fire, and enjoyed reeeellllaxxxxiiiinnngggg…. 

When it looks like this outside...

You want it to look like this inside…

And you definitely want to be wearing these.

The next morning we did “Christmas morning” and Abiella loved listening to the presents being opened around her and all the commotion.  She got a million AMAZING presents and so did Sean and I.  My mom really (per usual) outdid herself on the gifts… One of which is a date night out for Sean and I, complete with gift cards to my favorite Mexican restaurant and local ice cream shop… AND a free babysitter.(My mom.)  Considering I haven’t been inside a restaurant since SEPTEMBER this was a HUGE gift. (FYI- in my previous life I ate at restaurants at least 3 times a week.)

Another gift was "the letter"... an amazing gift I will have to save for its very own post...After gifts, we had a Christmas breakfast (including my mama’s homemade biscuits) and then we packed up and hit the road. McConnell’s were in transit and our next holiday sha-bang was about to begin. 

When we got home, Uncle James (as in Abi’s uncle… Sean’s brother) arrived.  It was a great Christmas Eve with the 4 of us. Too much fun. 

The next morning we read the Christmas story and opened Abi's 3 gifts from us...

Then more McConnell’s started arriving… 

and then the next day more arrived… 

and then the next day more arrived…

and we’ve been living up the Christmas goodness ever since.  Mom’s been cooking like crazy… pancakes every morning, spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant lasagna, beef stew, the list goes on… there’s been hours of games played, lots of music, and really, REALLY great gifts.  Including these t-shirts from our grandmother that all say, “Because I’m Abiella’s ____ That’s why” (Fill in the blank with uncle, daddy, mommy, aunt, etc.)  I have to admit, we all opened these shirts at the same time and it took me about 20 minutes to recover.  I just couldn't quit crying.  So much love.

The holidays are still here and I miss them already. Don't you hate that feeling?
Abiella receiving her official stocking made by none other than the one and only Nana Baa. 

In the middle of these days my little sister TURNED 13!!!!!!!! Her birthday gathering got iced-out (crazy weather)  but I CAN’T WAIT to have a good time with her celebrating her awesome self.

Speaking of weather, Abiella got to see her first snow this week…

So cozy and so special.   

Soooooo here I am about to drink my second cup of coffee, Sean’s holding Abi on the couch with Uncle Ben and Crazy Aunt Moo Moo… The Muppets are on TV, the pancakes have been eaten, and life is good.

I’ll take it.

Very thankful. 

December 16, 2012

Abiella is 2!!!! (almost.)

Too many emotions to put into words right now.  The fact that I will be celebrating my daughter's first birthday at HOME tomorrow is almost too much to take in.  It's been a festivities packed weekend... celebrating with family on both Saturday and Sunday... But Monday, is THE DAY. Tomorrow, Sean and I will cheers to Abi, eat cake, help Abi open presents, do all of Abi's favorite things, and bask in the fact that our first child is having her first birthday in our home... together. 

It's a miracle. 


I never knew if she would be home for this day
- and she is.
So, SO thankful. 

I leave you with bits and pieces from a card Abi got from one of my best friends... it says a lot of what I want to say... but better. 

Happy 2nd Birthday Abiella!!!!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!!

"2 hands that belong to you, and that you are discovering can do so many great things!
2 hour dvd of Beyonce goodness. Enough said.
2 of your best friends right across the street. Harrison and Preston love you!
2 M's and 2 G's that are going to love you like no other. I'm bringing a picture of you for them to see when Josh and I visit in January!
2 times the grandparents to snuggle you whenever you want to cuddle.
2 ears to listen to your daddy's voice singing to you. Front row seat to endless private concerts? Lucky you!
2 legs to kick, kick, KICK! 
2 buttons to push on your mama's phone to call me whenever you want - "Favorites" and "Auntie Megan". Back when I was a kid you had to memorize 7 digits!
2 baby fat cheeks for me to smooch on.
2 times the bravery.
2 times the fight.
2 times the heart.
2 times the everything."

WE LOVE YOU, ABIELLA!! Happy 2nd Birthday!!!

December 13, 2012

'Round these parts...

'Round these parts we're enjoying the Christmas season...

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We're getting ready for Abi's 2nd birthday this Monday!!!! 


... we're going to OT/PT and in a few minutes we'll go to the eye doctor... Just read the packet and it said to prepare for a 2.5 hour visit... Surely this can't be right. We'll see.

We're having lots of fun...

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We're dealing with the unexpected.

Facebook status from Tuesday:

This morning at Occupational Therapy Abi's G-tube site began to bleed... a lot. The therapist called a paramedic. The paramedic came, changed the gauze and then we drove her straight to the hospital (all while she's giggling to Beyonce) We then rush to the 7th floor surgeon's office and have a nurse look at the site- Consensus: It was scar tissue that can easily bleed...other than irritating the skin around it, the actual tissue isn't painful. So we cauterized the tissue, (which does sting apparently...), threw on some "If you're happy and you know it" and then headed back home. Now it's 12:30 and we're finally finishing our morning coffee. Sean just said, "Well that was a good morning." and I nodded, 'yes.' Annndd we weren't being sarcastic. Funny how quickly things change... 2 months ago that episode would have really stressed me out... now I'm ecstatic. Bleeding scar tissue? Psshh... We'll go on with our day now, thank you very much. We've got songs to sing and Christmas specials to watch...

We're gaining constant support and inspiration from other families in similar situations... (Thank you Audrey and Jenni) AND we're feeling VERY BLESSED this morning because our OT found an amazing chair that we can use for FREE until we order our own.  It doubles as a stroller and a chair for inside the house.  It supports Abi in all the right places, allowing her to sit-up, look around, use her arms, and see the world from an upright perspective. Woohoo!!!! Christmas came early! 


Hope you're enjoying the holiday season!


December 7, 2012

Pirate Macy.

Once upon a time my sister Maddie adopted a dog named Macy.


Macy was the apple of her mum's eye, an incredible host at holidays, and a generous snuggler.  Then... Pirate Macy came along.  


Pirate Macy is an odd statue Maddie and her husband found at an antique store a few months ago that looks almost identical to their sweet Macy.  It was a no-brainer.  They had to have it. So they brought Pirate Macy home... and he/she quickly took on a life of its own. 

We were first introduced to Pirate Macy when he/she called to wish Sean a happy Father's Day last June.


Since then, Pirate Macy has been busy.  Very busy.  This androgynous pup has been crunching the numbers, crafting away, brainstorming topics, and becoming quite the entrepreneur.  Stationary is its game and Pirate Macy is its name.  (Yes, I just wanted a rhyme there.) 

So, as if my sister Maddie couldn't be any cooler, she and her husband Burley have helped Pirate Macy's dreams come true and launched Pirate Macy the business.  

Go check out what this hilarious, disgruntled, crotchety ole pup has to say about the holidays... and then send someone you love a one of a kind Pirate Macy card.  Annnddd... if you want the real story on how this business got started (from the owner's point of view- and not the sister/aunt's observations... head over here to hear from Pirate Macy's mom: The one and only Mrs. Thriftary.)

Check out the store HERE. 

PS: Sean and I laughed so hard at some of these we are STILL saying the lines to each other.  PM's got one seriously dry sense of humor.


December 3, 2012

Final Verdict

Abiella is doing MUCH, MUCH better.  Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers... They mean so much.

We are back at home.  Final verdict?  A small skin infection near her surgical site AND a stomach virus. The vomiting threw us all off because we were concerned it was related to her new G-Tube.  But x-rays, a cat-scan and a few nights in the hospital later we know the tube is working perfectly and the vomiting was due to a stomach virus.  Praise God!!!!

Now we're back home- taking things slowly...

Enjoying the fresh air... (70's in December? We'll take it.)


Playing like a champ...


And watching a LOT of Christmas specials...

IMG_07591 IMG_07591.jpg

Time to relax... Praise God for healthy bellies, happy hearts, and a few nights of restful sleep.  This week we've got 7 doctor's appointments... (follow-up with the surgeon, more vaccines, yada yada yada) but I don't even care.  A healthy baby makes everything look like a walk in the park. We're happy, healthy, and home and that makes me one very happy mama.

(Thank you again for the prayers!) 

mae mae

November 27, 2012

Surgery-Thanksgiving-And Back in the Hospital...

The surgery.  One of the worst nights of my life.  I don’t even know where to begin.  Bottom line: the surgery went great… but the aftermath was a nightmare.

The day started out promising.  Abi couldn’t eat past 6:30 am, but she was doing fine.  Her surgery was scheduled for 2:30. We got the hospital at 12:30 and by 1:30 we were back in the pre-op area, separated from all the other patients by thin curtains. We waited and waited and waited. The surgery ahead of us ended up taking much longer than expected so Abi was on the pre-op bed for 2 hours longer than expected.  She was VERY hungry at this point, but still kicking and having a good time. 

At 4:30 they finally took her back and the real wait began.  Sidenote: doesn’t matter how easy the surgery is supposed to be, seeing your child look at you with a confused look on her face while being carried away by a bunch of strangers is parental torture.  

At 5:30, they call us in the back, the surgeon meets with us and tells us she did great and I finally begin breathing again.  We go back into the main lobby and wait for the recovery team to come get us.  I call Sean and my dad and tell them the good news and wait….

And wait…

And wait…

Eventually we were the only ones left.


Finally I see a nurse walk in and speak quietly to the assistant left in the room with us.  She whispers, “McConnell” with a worried look on her face.  My heart sinks.  The assistant points to us and I brace myself.  The woman came over and said, “She’s inconsolable.  We don’t THINK she’s in pain, but we’re not sure.  Is there anything you think might be the problem? Would you like to come hold her and try to calm her down?”  We immediately run to the back and as we’re walking past patients in beds with curtains for walls I hear Abi screaming.  I run up to her. She’s in the hospital bed, face swollen, closed eyes 4 times their normal size, wailing.  I pick her up and start speaking to her.  She calms down a little but continues to cry.  As I hold her, we begin the process of brainstorming:  Pain? = We give more pain meds.  Acid reflux? = We give Acid Reflux medication.  But nothing was helping.  Eventually I ask- “has anyone even seen her eyes open??” Nobody had.  It became obvious-she wasn’t even awake.   I felt the grip on my emotions start to weaken and as I realized something was really wrong I worked hard to hold her and not totally panic.  I’m the person who got her wisdom teeth ripped out of her gums WHILE AWAKE because I refused to be put under… I’m deathly afraid of anesthesia and now, my daughter (to the dismay of all medical professionals) wouldn’t WAKE UP.  BUT it was worse.  It wasn’t that she was just asleep, she was asleep (we think?) and screaming! 

We began considering the possibility of a condition called “emersion delirium” which can cause patients to react strangely when coming out of anesthesia.  The anesthesiologist came and told us she was screaming from the second she woke up… she didn’t know what was wrong but didn’t think it was pain… she left.  No problems solved.  Just gone.  Eventually the nurses came in and said they’d spoken with the doctors and they were going to give her a medicine for pain and emersion delirium- even though they didn’t think that’s what it was.  As the nurse went to give this medicine she discovered that the IV  was kinked.  She said, “Hmm… okay- well maybe it is pain b/c now we don’t know if any of the pain meds actually got to her… Not sure when this kink happened.”  Oh. Dear. Lord.  I could feel my spirit spinning.  As the minutes passed my mom held Abi and she eventually started to calm down.   The new meds seemed to be working… (Or perhaps the original pain meds were finally reaching her? Who knows.) However, despite a break in the screaming, she still hadn't opened her eyes.

I took the opportunity to go to the bathroom, call Sean, and ask him to start calling family and friends.  We needed prayer.  Big time.

I took a few deep breaths and walked back to our curtain.  When I walked in, my mom looked up at me and said, “Mary Susan.  Go get a nurse.” 


“Mary Susan.  Go get a nurse.”   I looked at Abi and I could tell she was fighting for air.  I ran out of the curtains looking for a doctor or a nurse.  I found them and I interrupted their conversation and told them frantically, “I need you NOW!”  They ran with me back to my mother and when they looked at Abi, the nurse said, “Get her on the table!”  She grabbed an oxygen mask and I watched as they tried to help my daughter breathe.  Abi looked like a fish out of water.  Her eyes were still closed but she was gasping for air and clearly not getting any.  The nurse said, “We normally don’t like parents to see this.  Are y’all okay?”  My mom nodded yes and I said, “No. I’m not okay.” And started bawling.  The nurse said, “Go sit in that rocking chair over there.  Go sit. We don’t want you to see this. It can be traumatic for parents.”  So I went.  I sat in the rocking chair and looked up to see a dozen other families, looking at me… Everyone’s curtains were wide open.  I crumpled in the rocking chair and started to bawl.  Before I knew it another nurse handed me a box of tissues, and a cup of apple juice.  She said, “Take all the time you need” and closed the curtain.  I call Sean.  I could barely get my words out.  “Abi can’t breathe.  They put her on the oxygen machine.  They told me to leave.  They can’t get her to wake up.”

Finally I gained the composure to go back.  At this point, the nurse had Abi on her side and she was breathing fine… but still on the machine.  The nurse told me that the last medicine they gave her must have been too much for her little system and it sedated her so much that her airway closed.  She said, the medicine would be wearing off shortly.  The second it wore off we knew it, because Abi started screaming.  Again.  We held her, we talked to her, we played her music.  She would scream and then stop and then start screaming again.  There were no answers.

The nurse told me they were considering taking her to the ICU.  She also told me some people were there to see me, and even though only 2 adults were allowed, they’d let them in if I was okay with it.  I wasn’t expecting anyone but I said, “Sure send them back.” It was my sweet father.  Sean had called him and he and my sister and step mom had rushed over right away.  It meant a lot.

EVENTUALLY-  Abi’s vitals were steady enough that despite the fact she hadn’t woken up yet, the nurses felt comfortable sending us to a room.  On our way out of the area Abi started to barely open her eyes.  I immediately put my face near her ear and began speaking to her.  For the next hour she would open her eyes a little, and then close them again.  She couldn’t keep them open for long.  BUT THEY WERE OPENING!!

For the rest of the night, she would sleep soundly and then suddenly start screaming.  Because of the surgery starting late, she couldn’t get any food for an entire 24 hours. I was certain she was painfully hungry.  Eventually, I climbed up into the crib with her and slept there.  By 8 am she FINALLY looked AWAKE.  She was clearly uncomfortable, but at least she was AWAKE!!!

Despite the anesthesia nightmare, Abi’s tube was working well and she was finally awake, so we were discharged in the late afternoon.  (Thank GOD!) Amazingly enough, this was the weekend my sister Maddie had planned to come meet Miss Abiella.  She had come all the way from Denver and was waiting at the house when we returned.  (Actually she stayed at the house the night we were in the hospital and took care of our dogs, went to the grocery and got fancy creamer (a big treat for me), and prepared the house for a cozy first few days of Miss Abi’s recovery.)  For the next few days Maddie, Abiella, and I recovered at the house, watched TV, went on walks, drank pots upon pots of coffee, and laughed… a lot.

Then Sunday morning Sean returned and we all went to our Framily Thanksgiving across the street that evening. 

A few days after that, James (Sean’s brother) drove up from Georgia and joined us for Thanksgiving...


5 holiday movies, tons of food, and 2 days later, James hit the road and headed back home.

Today, we’re busy eating leftovers, decorating for Christmas, and helping Abiella venture through teething AND post-op tenderness… quite a double whammy.
I wrote the above a few days ago but never posted.  Since then Abiella became increasingly sore and generally miserable.  On Sunday night we noticed a hard spot near her incision site. We immediately suspected infection.  We called the nurse and she told us to wait until morning and then go see the surgeon.  That’s what we did.  The surgeon felt the site could be infected, but that it didn’t look bad enough to know for sure. Since the surgeon felt it was no big deal, I told Sean to go ahead and leave town as scheduled for work, and that I’d start Abi on the antibiotics prescribed by the surgeon.  My super mom had also offered to come down and help me.  So by 3 o’clock Sean was on a plane out of town, by 5pm I was giving Abi antibiotics, and I thought things would slow down.  But,  Abi continued to feel worse and worse.  By 8pm she started vomiting. A lot. Her belly looked completely distended and the hard spot had grown substantially. I freaked out, considering she had never vomited before and she seemed SO MISERABLE.  We immediately loaded her up (after I called 911 and asked for an ambulance and then quickly decided against it… new parent syndrome?)  And by 9 o’clock we were in the ER waiting with about 50 other families.  By midnight we were in our own room in the ER and 21 hours and 37 minutes later we’re still here.


In the wee hours of the morning we got 2 x-rays done, both of which came back normal. They started her on IV antibiotics and by midday today she began throwing up again.  A lot.  BUT after she was done, she immediately went back to her hold self. Finally.  Smiling, kicking, wide awake, looking around, less tender…Now we’re waiting it out…


We just started small amounts of pedialyte through her tube now... praying it goes well and stays down... 

November 14, 2012

Kiss, Surgery, and Midland- Kurgerland?

Don't ask about the blog title... clearly I'm tired.  However, thanks to my wonderful mother, I was able to take a 2 hour nap yesterday AND I've been able to get decent amounts of sleep the past two nights!!! Woohoo!!!  So here's the the anatomy of the title:

Kiss: A song my husband wrote, called "Kiss" is going to be performed on the hit show "Nashville" tonight!  Tune in! Woohoo!! Can't wait to hear it... (PS- It's already available on iTunes...  Jonathan Jackson is singing it and he did a killer job.)

Midland: The song "Kiss" also happens to be on my husband's latest album called "Midland."  This album came out this week and is my favorite to date... which is kind of a big deal, considering I've been a super fan of his before we ever even dated...  That album is available through iTunes and you can go HERE for more details on how to get a physical copy... Here he is performing his version of "Kiss."

Lastly- Abi is having minor surgery tomorrow for a G-tube!!! Woohoo!!!! I've wanted the G-Tube since forever.  It will allow us to feed her liquids and supplemental foods through a tube going directly into her stomach.  This means NO TUBE GOING THROUGH HER NOSE!!! No nasty tape that gets wet and keeps me from washing her face, no worrying about her 16 inch tube getting caught on clothes or a car seat, no worrying it will get caught in her windpipe... No sticking the tube back down her nose when it comes out by accident...  The surgery is supposed to be very simple and virtually pain free.  Many kids get it done as an outpatient procedure but we'll be staying overnight since her situation is a little different. The whole procedure should be eezy-peezy... However, surgery is still surgery so please say a prayer for our little one tomorrow if you think about it...

So there you go... Kurgerland in all its glory.

Hope you're doing well!
mae mae

November 6, 2012


It is 2:10am and I’m wide awake. I’ve become a regular companion of this unfortunate hour the past few weeks. Fall asleep at 11, wake up at 1, back asleep at 1:30, up again at 2:00, asleep again at 5:00, up again when the feeding pump alarm goes off at 5:30…Despite my frequent meetings with insomnia, Abiella (thank God) is typically sleeping 7-9 hours a night.  So why am I up then? Because the feeding tube is driving me crazy, that’s why.

Before we left the hospital, a nurse said to us “Keep a close eye on her at night.  If this tube gets pulled out a little and the food is still pumping through, it can go into her lungs and cause her to choke.” Hmm… is that so? Well then, I guess I won’t be getting any sleep EVER until this tube is history. Every single cough, sneeze, movement, grunt, or snort has me hopping out of bed, standing by the crib, listening for breathing, making sure the tube is still in the right place and double checking that all is well. Is this overkill? Maybe. But can I do it differently? No.

So- tonight- (this morning?) for the umpteenth morning in a row- I woke up from a noise I can’t even recall and now I’m lying awake, dogs at my feet, listening to Abi snore three feet to my left and Sara (the pup) snore three feet below me.

Am I happy? Yes.  Very. Am I tired? Uh-huh.

BUT these maddening battles with sleep are only a portion of our world.  In 2 hours I will disconnect Abi from the pole hanging above her bed, carry her on my chest to the kitchen, hit BREW on the coffee pot, and hang out with my favorite gal beside the fire…reading books, playing games, and singing songs. 

Life is good.  Very, very good…


You know what else makes life good?  The fact that my other mama (Sean’s mom) came to visit this weekend!!! Woohoo…. 

Meeting Abiella for the first time.



Too beautiful.

mae mae