Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Flat Stanley

We've just had our first ever visit from Flat Stanley. He's from Tommy in California. We don't know Tommy personally, but hope he enjoys what Stanley learned about our home town. Here's a tidbit:

"Bowie is a suburb of Washington, DC. It is also close to Annapolis which is Maryland's state capital. Bowie, formerly known as Collington, has the Belair Mansion. It was the country home of several early governors and other prominent people in the 1700s, 1800s, and early 1900s. The Belair estate, specifically its owner, James T. Woodward, had a lot to do with the development of thoroughbred horse racing in the new world. Its stable is one of only two stables to raise two Triple Crown champions. The horses were father and son and their names were Gallant Fox and Omaha. They won the Triple Crown in 1930 and 1935."

The girls are clueless as to who Flat Stanley is, so I'm hoping the library has a copy of his book the next time we visit.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ice Cream Cones

For dessert last night, everyone under 5 had an ice cream cone for dessert.

Amelie had one...

Violet had one...

Even Linus had a cone! Well, minus the ice cream part, that is.

This is what we call a no-hands-lazy eater.

Adventures in eating are a lot more fun the third time around. Well, at least Mom and Dad think so...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Part 3, Birth Story 3: Linus Victory

Ever wonder what a dad looks like right before a c-section?

How about an expectant mom awaiting her c-section when the OR is behind schedule?
August 29th arrived, finally.
Duncan came to the hospital with my mom and the girls, mid-morning. Since I wasn't scheduled for surgery until noon, I had a fair amount of time to kill in the morning. Things went quickly, but seemed to take forever, all at the same time. I was finally brought into the OR at around 1:00.
The first order of business was starting the spinal block.
I had had an epidural with Amelie and a spinal with Violet. I wasn't in the least bit nervous about this part of the process. However, it turned out to be a very big deal. The anesthesiologist made countless (6 or 8?) attempts at getting one started and, for whatever reason, she couldn't. I remember the assisting doctor telling her that "it was her call." She made one last attempt which failed and then "called it." That meant that she was going to forget about starting a spinal and use general anesthesia.
This meant that I would be asleep when my baby was born, cried for the first time, was cleaned up and weighed. This meant Duncan had to stand outside of the OR while his son was born.
It all happened so quickly.
I was told that the baby HAD to be out within 10 minutes of me being under, which scared me.
I remember the reassuring voice of the anesthesiologist as she made countless attempts to start a new IV in my right hand and arm (10? 15?). *

I remember looking at Duncan, upside down, as he gently cupped my face, smiled, told me I'd be OK, and kissed me goodbye. I remember smelling the anesthesia gas. I remember someone telling me I might feel some pressure on my neck. I never did. Instead, I fell into a dreamless sleep.

I woke up in the recovery room. Duncan was sweetly saying my name, trying to get me to open my eyes so I could see my son. He was in a warmer or a bassinet to the left of my gurney. I couldn't really see him, but I could hear him. Every time he exhaled, he made an audible sound. Duncan explained to me what was going on very calmly. He was "grunting," which is not atypical in c-section babies. Since he was just about an hour old and he hadn't stopped, they would have to bring him down to the NICU. I remember trying to focus on the details, but having a hard time doing so.

These pictures are from right after I woke up and right before Linus and Duncan went to the NICU.

I also remember extreme pain. Since I hadn't had any local anesthesia, I could feel everything. The kneading, in particular, was excruciating.
Eventually (I have no concept of time), they decided Linus needed to go to the NICU. Duncan needed to decide if he'd stay with me or go with Linus. At that point I was lucid enough to insist that he go with Linus. I spent an unknown amount of time (Duncan thinks it was about two hours) in the recovery room. My bleeding wouldn't get under control and so they gave me some Pitocin, which caused the uterus to contract, which is what would stop my bleeding. (That's when they discovered the IV access put in before surgery wasn't any good.)
They brought me to the NICU on my gurney to see Linus before they brought me to my room in post partum. Duncan had tears in his eyes when I got down there, which scared me, because I thought something was wrong with Linus. He said he was just worried about me. (He had the NICU nurse call up to recovery several times apparently.) By that point, Linus had already had his first chest x-ray and had been admitted to the NICU. He was about three hours old. I got to hold him for the first time, for a few minutes. He was still grunting.

I then had to leave my brand new baby and go to my room which was on the next floor up, but felt like a millions miles away.

*Warning: Only read the following paragraph if you can handle medical yucky stuff. I had an IV access in one of my hands or arms for the better part of my time in the hospital. Each one can only stay in for five days, therefore, I had many sticks. I became known as a "hard stick." This means that often several attempts had to be made before an IV was successfully started, with many veins "blowing" as attempts were made. (Can we say major swelling and bruising?) For surgery and other procedures, an 18-gague needle is preferred. The night before my c-section, my nurse was given the order to put in the access that would be used for surgery. She decided to use a 20-gague needle (which is smaller), since I was known hard stick. This turned out to be a very bad decision. The anesthesiologist preferred to have an 18 in me while surgery occurred, especially since I was going under general. After many attempts, she thought she'd successfully started one before surgery, just in case, that wasn't used until I was in the recovery room. At that point, it was determined that it actually had not taken. I remember counting over 10 sticks in the area she had been working. This issue will come into play the day after Linus' birth as well, when I needed to have an MRI. Oh yeah, it just keeps getting better doesn't it?

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Lynn tagged me for this one last week.

What was I doing 10 years ago....

In April of 1998, I was finishing up my eighth (of nine) semester at West Virginia University. I had been dating Duncan for about five months. I was gearing up to work at Pine Springs Camp for a third summer. (Pine Springs is where Duncan and I met in 1995.)

5 things on my to-do list today...
1. shower
2. get children ready for church
3. worship the Lord with our church family
4. nap
5. eat pizza with Duncan after kids go to bed and watch a movie or something on our MythTV

5 snacks I enjoy...
1. 100 calorie packs
2. just about anything chocolate
3. nuts, especially pistachios
4. ice cream
5. cheese

5 things I would do if I were a billionaire...
1. give a boatload to our church and to missionaries and other causes that are furthering the gospel of Christ
2. pay off the mortgages and other debts of our family
3. set up education funds for our children and our nieces and nephews
4. feed starving people in this country as well as others
5. give more away

5 bad habits...
1. procrastination
2. eating when I'm not hungry
3. being online too much
4. talking on the phone while driving
5. did I mention procrastination?

5 places I've lived...

1. Bowie, Maryland (from birth-18, as an engaged woman at age 23, and as a married woman at age 25-now)
2. Dorm, apartment, and house (with a family from my church) in Morgantown, WV
3. Pine Springs Camp, Jennerstown, PA (I could never forget about my summers in "The Hilton!")
4. State College, PA January-June 1999 so Duncan could "figure us out" (I had already figured us out. He needed some more time.) and our first year of marriage 2000-2001
5. the summer of 1997 in Cuernavaca, Mexico

5 jobs I've had...
1. pool snack bar attendant (1992 and 1993)
2. medical records tech in the Jessup State Prisons (1994)
3. kitchen crew(1995), counselor (1996), program support coordinator (1998) at Pine Springs camp
4. field director with Hemlock Girl Scout Council (2000-2001)
5. middle school math teacher (1999-2000), middle school Spanish teacher (2001-2004), homeschool Spanish teacher (2004-2006)

Now, since I know they have TONS of time, I'll tag:
and anyone else who feels like joining in!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Silly Saturday: Megan and "Champ"

This is my niece, Megan. We met up with her boyfriend, Champ, at the mall this past Thursday evening.

Megan is 14, hilarious, and super cute.
She loves her baby cousins and they adore her right back.
Aren't they cute together?

Friday, April 25, 2008

And the Winners are...[Edited]

The birthday boy and his trusty helpers chose the following winners randomly, via drawing, over breakfast this morning--
Third Prize
50 cookies:
Melanie from Myatt Family
Megan from A Day With the Demos
Lynn from Rohal Call
Erin from SMCM

Second Prize
200 Hershey's Kisses (any variety): Sarah from Short Stop

Grand Prize
200 quarters to spend at Target: Heather from Sweet November

Congratulations, ladies! And thanks for participating. And even more so, thanks to all for reading and commenting all along the away. You are all such an encouragement to me!

Have a great weekend!

Happy Birthday, Sweet Duncan

Lake Erie
June 2006

He's cute.
He's funny.
He's a jungle gym.
He's Joseph.
He's full of integrity.
He's a comforter.
He's faithful.
He's a fabulous bread baker.
He's encouraging.
He's Pa.
He's loving.
He's the primo pancake maker.
He's a songwriter.
He's intelligent.
He's the most fun bath-giver.
He's Zechariah.
He's energetic.
He's a phenomenal dish doer.
He's a computer nerd.
He's the best tub scrubber.
He's wise.
He's a patty-caker.
He's dedicated.
He's the A-1 road trip driver.
He's the bad wolf.
He's thoughtful.
He's a lawn mower.
He's a great coffee maker.
He's a hard-worker.
He's cuddly.
He's Diego.
He's an incredible daddy.
He's my best friend.
He's my husband.

And you're so much more, my love! Happy 34th Birthday!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


You have until midnight tonight to leave a comment on my 200th post for a chance to win some great prizes. Don't miss out!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Part 2, Pregnancy and Birth Story Three: Linus Victory

This picture serves as a disclaimer that, while the time leading up to Linus' birth and his birth itself were the hardest things I've had to go through so far in my 32 years of life, I know now (and I knew at the moment this picture was taken, and even before) that it was, indeed, all worth it. It also made me more aware of Jesus' suffering on our behalf, since I know that what I went through was can't compare in the least. My intent in these posts is to share what I struggled through and what I've struggled with over the last year; not to complain.

So, to pick up where we left off, I lived life for three weeks, on edge, wondering if I would start to bleed, doing research, talking about my problem to anyone that would listen, and taking it easy; which meant I watched my house get dirtier and dirtier. I returned to the perinatologist who said I was still a complete placenta previa and that, since I hadn't started bleeding, I could just keep on doing (or not doing, I suppose) what I was doing. He also said that I still didn't look like a placenta accreta. I was to return in three more weeks, on Wednesday, August 8th, to check the placenta again. That appointment, as it turns out, would have to be canceled.

Because of my travel restriction, I wasn't able to go to my nephew's 16th birthday party, about an hour and a half away from home. I wasn't able to visit my grandparents, who lived an hour away and who both passed away this past Christmastime. I wasn't able to go on my family's every-other-year vacation to Canaan Valley, West Virginia.

Duncan's mom didn't like that I'd "be alone" (my parents, who live 3.2 miles away, would be on the WV vacation) the first week in August. She insisted on coming and staying with us. We told her we'd rather wait until we needed her if I were to go on bed rest. She pushed and we relented. She arrived on Friday, August 3rd. In hindsight, her heart clearly was being prompted by the Holy Spirit, and we're so thankful for her obedience.

On Saturday, Duncan helped some friends move in the morning and in the afternoon, I visited a friend who'd just had a baby at the hospital. I had a c-section date of September 18th, so I marveled that soon, it'd be my turn. On Sunday, we went to church. On Monday, August 6th, Stephanie and I made a meal plan and a shopping list. She was going to make a bunch of meals to put in our freezer for when the baby arrived. We went shopping at BJs and, while there, I felt like I'd overdone it. We went home, got the girls down for nap/rest, and I slept and relaxed. After dinner, Duncan and I went on a "date" to a few new stores in Bowie. I got home, was doing something on the computer, and I felt it. I didn't say anything, but I went to the bathroom to confirm my fear, and saw that it was realized. I had started bleeding.

Because Duncan's mom was sitting on the sofa in our living room, we were able to be out of the house in less than a minute. We called the doctor and the hospital on the way, got to L and D, and were put into triage.
I remember thinking about having a baby at 33 weeks.
I remember worrying when the nurse couldn't find the baby's heartbeat.
Which I would come to realize wasn't unusual, since I had to be monitored for 30 minutes 3 times a day while I was in the hospital.

I remember wondering where my doctor was.
I learned that doctors see their long-term patients about 15 seconds a day and give most of their care through the nurses and the internet.

I don't remember dreading being on bed rest, in the hospital, for 23 days.
But I entered a room and would not leave its four walls for 10 days, when I was granted wheelchair ride privileges. And that I wouldn't leave the hospital for 27 days. And that my baby wouldn't go home for 30 days.
I won't recount all of the details of the hospital stay. Feel free to go into my archives of August 2007 and relive those gory details. The most heart-wrenching part was to only see my girls for about an hour a day. But, I tried to focus on the fact that my dear, sweet husband made sure that I saw them every day. I also saw Duncan at least once every day, except for one.
Once we had a new c-section date, it was just about all I could focus on. Little did I know, that the struggles wouldn't end on that date, but would continue. They would continue to the point that I didn't think I could take anymore.

Since the tears are starting and it's very late, it's quitting time.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Part 1, Pregnancy and Birth Story Three: Linus Victory

My girls and me in Findley Lake, NY.
26 weeks pregnant with Linus in June 2007

First of all, thank you for your comments on my last post. Yes, I know I've bribed you to leave a comment, but I really appreciated what you had to say (especially you, New Kensington--I thought that was you!!). It's not too late to enter and be sure to check back on Friday to see if you're one of the winners!
Because many of you commented about enjoying the birth stories, I was encouraged to finish out the set. I've purposely been dragging my heels on this one, since it was such a hard experience and I'm still processing it, I think.
Being pregnant with Linus and his delivery were the hardest by far. Many of you went through last August with me, in person and through the blog, and that was indeed a very difficult time. However, the difficulties began long before last August. They started before the positive pregnancy test, in fact. In mid-January, I started spotting and then I took a know if it was a miscarriage or not. I know I'm weird. The test was positive, the spotting continued. The next day, Duncan left for a five day business trip--to California!! While he was gone, the spotting turned to bleeding. I was certain that the little life inside of me was over. I had an appointment to see a new ob/gyn (we'd changed insurance) that day and I was preparing myself to hear that I wasn't pregnant. The P.A. that I saw commented empathetically that it was an awful lot of bleeding. They did an ultrasound and amazingly there was still a sack! I hadn't miscarried yet! So they drew blood to check my hormone levels and told me to come back to have more drawn in two days to see which direction they were heading.

The bleeding continued.
Upon the next blood test, my levels were going in the right direction, so I still wasn't miscarrying.

The bleeding turned to spotting.

I went back for another ultrasound a week or so later and saw the heartbeat!

The spotting continued.
For four weeks.

At that point, my anxiety level was so high and I just felt like I couldn't take it anymore. In the middle of the night, I cried out to my God, begging him for mercy. I prayed specifically that if I was going to miscarry, that he would speed up the process, so that I could move on with my life. I then prayed specifically that if I wasn't going to miscarry, that the spotting would stop.

It stopped.
The next day.

I was so thankful. Such a heavy burden had been lifted from my heart. I couldn't stop praising God for his mercy on me.
I had another episode of spotting exactly four weeks later which made me wonder if I was going to be one of those women that get their period throughout their pregnancy. But fortunately it only lasted for a day or two and didn't happen again.
The next issue was Paxil.
I had been taking Paxil for over 10 years, had taken it through both of my pregnancies with the girls without a hitch, but my new doctor wanted me off of it. There had been some new findings about complications it could cause in pregnancy and he did not like that I was taking it. The new complications (pulmonary hypertension in the baby which may require a heart and lung transplant) weren't an issue until after 20 weeks gestation, so I had a few months to work on making a transition to a new medication.
In the meantime, I had an ultrasound at 16 weeks with a perinatologist to rule out the heart defect that Paxil could cause at 5 weeks gestation. His heart looked fine along with the rest of him. They mentioned that I had placenta previa, but at 16 weeks, it was very likely that the placenta would still move up. I can honestly say that I completely forgot about this tidbit of information, since it didn't seem like a big deal. The Lord kept me from doing any research about the condition, so I was blissfully ignorant about what may happen.
Next up was an appointment with a new psychiatrist (remember, we had changed insurance). He said he would never put a pregnant woman on Paxil and also strongly recommended that I go off of it. And it wasn't just Paxil I had to stay away from, it was all SSRIs which include Zoloft and Prozac. So I needed to try a different class of medications all together, which wasn't specific to my generalized anxiety disorder. The best he could do for me was Wellbutrin, which was more specific to depression...not my primary problem. But we decided to go ahead with the switch, which had to be pretty quick (far too fast for going off of Paxil) since I was approaching 20 weeks. I went off Paxil in about a week and a half a paid for it. I had such bad withdrawl and at that point, my emotional health was very poor and wouldn't get back to (just about) normal for almost a year.
The next significant event was an ultrasound at about 27 weeks. This was a follow-up from the 16-week ultrasound to check on the position of my placenta. They had to remind me of that at the appointment, since, as I said before, the issue had not, mercifully, solidified in my brain. As I laid on the table, the tech did her job and pointed out all of the fun stuff to Duncan and me. She then got the perinatologist who informed us that I did indeed still have placenta previa and, while it could still move, it was unlikely at this point in the pregnancy. He laid down the list of what could lay ahead, including the potential for placenta accreta due to the scar tissue from my two previous c-section. It was scary, to say the least. He told me that my activity level should be light and that bed rest may be in my future. I left that appointment reeling with emotion and with an appointment to go back in three weeks.
I had an appointment with my ob/gyn the next day and shared the findings with him. He informed me that he didn't want me traveling and that he wished I lived closer to the hospital. He told me that if I ever had any bleeding, I was to go directly to the hospital without even calling him first. He told me that bleeding could go from hardly anything to really heavy very quickly. I left that appointment even more stressed about the situation, wondering what the future would hold.
I'll save the rest for another post (or two), since this is getting long and Sesame Street is almost over =).

Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


That's right folks, you've stumbled upon Tulipa Murillo's 200th blog post. I've come a long way from posting only four times total in 2005, when I only had one child. Interestingly, it took me nearly 2 years to hit 100 posts last July! And here we are, just 9 months and 100 posts later! This time, instead of making a list, like I did for my 100th post, I've decided to announce the contest to end all contests.

And how does one enter?
Simply leave a comment on this post by midnight on Thursday, April 24th. That's right. It might not seem difficult to many of you, but to some of you it may be a big leap. If you check in here often, or even once in a while, consider leaving a comment to enter this contest! I'd love to hear from you and find out WHO you are. Thanks to sitemeter, I know WHERE you are and have some pretty good guesses as to WHO you are, as well!! As an option, when you leave your comment, include a favorite post that you've read here at Tulipa Murillo . That's just an option, however, not a requirement =). Also, if you have a blog of your own, feel free to pass on this contest to your own readers. The more the merrier, right?

And what might you win?
1. 3rd prize: 4 dozen +2 homemade (or 50) cookies made by me and my baking helpers. (4 winners, for a total of 200 cookies given away)
2. 2nd prize: 200 Hershey's kisses in the flavor(s) of your choice (1 winner)
3. Grand prize: 200 quarters (or a $50 gift certificate) to spend at Target (1 winner)

The winners will be chosen randomly and announced on Friday, April 25th; which also happens to be my sweet husband's 34th birthday!

Happy commenting!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New RPCB Website is Up

For about a year, Duncan has been working on a face lift for our church's website. OK, so he hasn't been steadily working on it the whole time, but it's been in the works for about a year. Last night, it "went live." There are still a few things to add, but for the most part, it's a finished product. Check it out sometime when you get a chance. He's a gifted man, that husband o' mine.

In other news, this happens to be my 199th post. That would make the next post my 200th!! That would mean a BIG GIVEAWAY coming your way. And what will you have to do to have a chance to win? You'll have to check back soon to find out!!!!!!!! (Can you even stand it?)

Monday, April 14, 2008

P-I-C-N-I-C, Picnic

When I was in first grade, I won a spelling bee with the word "picnic." It was a proud moment, I tell you, on the cafeteria stage at Tulip Grove Elementary back in 1983.
Flash forward 25 years (was it really that long ago?) to our very first backyard picnic of 2008. Friday's weather screamed for a little lunch al fresco. We gave in and enjoyed every minute of it. By the way, I'm still able to spell piknik picknick picnic. (So what if I'm showing off my new mad skill?)

My Crafty Girl

Amelie is OBSESSED with paper and scissors and tape and paint and markers and crayons. I went to the library by myself one evening last week and picked up some craft books. I usually pick up a few each visit, since I have a craft-obsessed four year-old. However, I'm usually not alone and have to grab and few and run, without really looking at them to decide if any of them are worthwhile. One of the books I got is called Paper and Paint: Hands-on Crafts for Everyday Fun. I think it may be the best craft book we've had, so far, in terms of the number of projects I'm willing to do and their feasibility. So far, we've woven place mats and painted with q-tips. Also, we're looking forward to marble painting, eyedropper art, and the ultimate for Amelie: tie dyeing. She can hardly wait until it's warm enough to set that up outside! Until then, you'll have to delight in her sunshine entirely painted with a q-tip. A true masterpiece. Violet wasn't interested in the q-tips, but she was interested in the paints! She painted a number of snails. Can you see them? No, turn your head the other way. You CAN see the snail that my sweet two year-old painted, RIGHT? I thought so ;).

As a side note, I am seeking some advice. Because of her love of all things crafty, I have a GAZILLION pieces of paper which contain her masterpieces. Adding to the problem is my extreme sentimentality and aversion to throwing any of it away. I'd love to know of any "systems" any of you may have to deal with this issue. Thanks!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Linus the Jumper

Linus is the most content baby I've ever seen in one of these jumper thingies. He literally is happy in it for an hour or so. We were given this one as a hand-me-down, when Amelie was a baby. I think we may have used it more in the last week than we used it total for both of the girls combined.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Foxhill Park

Foxhill Lake

Living in the town where I grew up has many perks. I get to share some of my childhood memories in a tangible way with my kids, for one. Even though a lot is different about Bowie, much is the same.
This past Saturday morning we went to Foxhill Park. It has a lake, which is really a pond, and an old, stone bridge from the 1800s. Having grown up in the Foxhill, or "F" section of Bowie, I spent a fair amount of time at this particular park. I went sledding on the hills by the lake, hiked through the wooded area, and played on the playground. I met friends to play tennis there and even had a softball game, followed by a picnic, there with my Girl Scout troop. I remember walking over the bridge with Karen and Dan (my sister and her husband) on the Palm Sunday during their engagement. I rode my bike on the bike path that winds through the park many times and walked on it even more. Amelie, Violet and Linus enjoyed their time there this past Saturday. I hope we go back often.
Here's a peek into our time--

Amelie's having fun.

Daddy loves to get the close-ups...the snottier the nose the better.

Linus spent his whole time chillin' in the stroller. He'll be runnin' with the rest of 'em soon enough, I'm sure.

Mommy had a good time making faces at Daddy.

Running down the bike path to the lake.

The lake always has lily pads.

Violet checkin' something out.

Mud puddles!

Good thing they had some practice not too long ago!

All tuckered out.