Sunday, November 9, 2014

Weekend Update

Seriously, back when I was a more reliable blogger, I'm almost certain I named multiple posts "Weekend Update" along the way... and now it's nearly 10 pm and I'm most uncreative right now, so I'm bringing it back!

So how is T? Well, early on we figured she must not be able to handle the pain medicine that included codeine, because of how frequently it seemed to make her sick. We eliminated that one altogether, replaced it with Tylenol, and she was fine -- for almost 24 hours. Then she reached a point where she couldn't keep anything down right after we'd give her the other medicines she was prescribed. Panic set in (for me) when she finally lost her antibiotic one night - the same antibiotic that she has taken and loved to take ever since she was a baby. I was most afraid that she might be having some kind of bad complication from surgery -- but she wasn't exhibiting any other symptoms to watch out for. After talking with the on-call doctor multiple times, we decided she just wasn't handling her bladder spasm medicine very well -- so reluctantly, we took her off of it. We even took her off Tylenol just to give her body a break from medicine overload.

When we did, we had a whole new Tams! The moping has ended for the most part, and she has had so much more energy the past day or so. We even took the girls to play at Barnes and Noble (or, as they call it, Thomas - because of the Thomas the Train set there!) and out to eat at Panera over the weekend (a classic T and E favorite), and she did well both places and kept her energy up! She's also getting her appetite back again.

So that's where we are tonight. She has kept everything down since yesterday morning, so we're hoping that this particular yucky streak has come to an end. She is still a very un-Tamsie-like shade of pale, but I've called about it once before and it wasn't terribly concerning to the nurse. You should know that by now I've called and asked so many questions that Friday morning, the nurse actually called ME! I guess she figured she'd be hearing from me sooner or later, so she tried to beat me to it! ;) (And then I wound up calling back again in the afternoon with an all-new question -- ha!)

This week my two amazing helpers (Chris and Mom) are going back to work, and I'm on my own with the girlsies -- so I am praying for a particularly calm and easy and super healthy week! :) As always, thanks again for praying for us!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

First Day Home

Well our first day home has been more challenging than we were expecting. After seeing how rapidly Tamsie progressed from feeling totally awful to moderately OK yesterday, we figured the trend would continue. However, she has just really not felt well at all today.

She has vomited a few more times, run a low-grade fever and spent a good bit of time moping around. She has played with her sister a good bit but also wanted to be held a lot. Surgery is also producing some side effects that are terribly unpleasant and that she would kill me later on for describing to you now on the Internet, so we'll leave it at that. ;) We're praying that tomorrow will go more smoothly. We called the doctor, and if she's not a lot better by Friday, she has to go back to get checked out.

Evie, on the other hand, is exuberant to have us back home with her. She randomly says, "I'm so glad you're back again!" In other news, she has also started naming some of her toys "Surgery." I guess she has heard plenty of talk about it for the past few weeks! ;) We keep thinking how blessed we are to have a healthy twin to motivate the sickly one to get up and play. Evie sure is a better motivator than any of us are!

I have been more tired than I expected myself to be! I guess all this stuff has a way of wearing you out!

Here's to a better, healthier and more restful day tomorrow! Thanks for keeping up with us and praying for us along our way. We have such an awesome support system, and we never take that for granted!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Home Again!

We are HOME!! I can't say YAY enough!!!

And what a whirlwind it has been! Here are the updates:
* The doctor was very impressed with how T was doing when she stopped by. She reaffirmed that we were on track to go home in the evening! At one point I asked if T was doing OK for someone at her stage after surgery, and the doctor's response was basically, "No way would I even THINK of sending you home today if I didn't feel really good about where she is!" Our doctor has calmed my fears again and again, and she has been a tremendous blessing to us. She even came and prayed with us before surgery! I can't say enough great things about her.

* T spent the afternoon playing in the playroom and wandering around. She was even driving a cozy coupe at one point - TOTALLY different girl than she had been in the morning! She refused to go anywhere NEAR the bed until she just got so grouchy that we had to impose a naptime - which she quickly gave into!

* Everyone kept talking about how precious she is, which made my mama's heart so happy! They couldn't believe we have another one just like her at home! :) I remembered again how faithful God has been to us, ever since we first found out they even existed. He has a big plan for these two characters!

* I actually kind of thought it was ironic that everyone thought she was SO precious, because she started narrowing her eyes at anyone who came into her room. I guess she became accustomed to people who seem totally nice turning around and poking and prodding her! So please do not take it personally if she gives you an angry look next time you see her!

* My parents brought Evie up to visit late this afternoon, right before we got discharged! She was fascinated by everything, and she was beyond thrilled to see us - especially "my Tamsie," as she calls her sister. (T, of course, was a little standoffish even to her own twin after all that she's been through! So once again - keep this in mind if she seems a little distant next time she sees you!)

* We went home, but the car ride took a while because we wound up picking up dinner and T's prescriptions. When we were about 2 minutes from home, T got sick for the first time in this whole process. We're hoping it's the last time - NO fun! She went straight to sleep after eating a little supper.

* So where does she go from here? She will go back to her urologist next month for a renal ultrasound, to see how everything is looking. This surgery is effective the vast majority of the time, but the few times it's not, the doctor can usually tell in advance that it won't be. With Tamsie, her case was very textbook, so the doctor has no reason to expect any problems - but we have to keep an eye on it to be sure. Which means please pray. :) I'll keep you posted after her upcoming check-up.

THANK YOU for praying for us! We love y'all!!!

Recovery Time!

Tamsie is all nice and grouchy and in full-out recovery mode! This girl has some serious opinions on EVERYTHING from what she wants to do to whether or not she wants to eat to whether or not the TV should be on! Here are the highlights from today so far:

* Overnight her urine output SERIOUSLY improved, and now she's doing great and functioning well! Thanking the Lord for this!!

* Swelling is also down considerably today! Still puffy, but much less so.

* However, her heart rate has been higher than they'd like to see, likely because she has been running a low-grade fever. Right now she's at 99, which is lower than earlier, and right now heart rates are right where they should be! Praying that keeps up!

* She has yet to complain of pain!!!!! Of course we're pumping her full of meds... but I'll count that as a victory!

* She hung out in bed most of the morning, but kept being more and more vocal about wanting to get out of bed. Now the doctor told us long ago that the thing we would most need to do on Day 2 would be to get her up and moving around and playing, particularly engaging those core muscles. She also told us that was the one thing that we would LEAST want to do. Now I was picturing T throwing tantrums and such at the mere mention of it. I never dreamed it would look like it did: she was just lying around, hooked up to all sorts of things and looking weak and listless and saying she felt sad. It was pretty hard to imagine forcing the girl to do anything but lay in bed. But once she kept insisting, we called the nurse, who let us pull her around in a wagon. Yesterday the doctor strictly warned us about thinking of wagon rides as "getting her out," since it's so passive and is pretty much like staying in bed. But we also didn't want to overwork her to the point where she would fight us about this going forward. So a wagon ride it was! She loved it. We rode around upstairs and downstairs, and she saw a clown who gave her a flower and some stickers.

Eventually, we decided she needed to come back and sleep if she needed to, so that she would have energy to walk and play later - since she obviously wasn't feeling it then. She fought us tooth and nail on getting back in bed, saying she just wanted to stay in the wagon. We told her she could either sit up by herself in the wagon (instead of lying back) OR go to bed. She fussed and said, "I JUST WANT TO WALK." So walk she did!! She did great! She kind of waddled like a penguin, but SHE WALKED without fussing and did not want to come back to the room! She was so proud of herself, and we were so proud of her!!

Now we're just hanging out, waiting on lunch to come. I'm anxious for the doctor to get here and give us a new report, but this is all I have for now. We hope you're having a terrific Tuesday morning. Keep those prayers coming if you think of it, and also please keep Mrs. Kathy McMasters in your prayers. I grew up next door to her and her family, and she has always been like family to me. She's going today for a biopsy to check out some suspicious stuff after four months of being free of pancreatic cancer. Pray hard for them, and also pray for our friends the Wades. Today Amy is donating a kidney to her son Walker... so that should give you lots to pray about! :) Much love to y'all!

P.S. - I will post pics sometime (probably). I just haven't had a chance to deal with it. Until then, I'm posting on Instagram and Facebook periodically!

P.P.S. - Evie has really been doing great, but she has been missing her sister and Chris and me. She has cried some for us today. She may come visit later!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tamsie's Surgery

Lots of people have asked us questions about T's surgery so they can know what's going on and how to pray for her. I'm sure many of you have heard about it so many times you can recite it all, but for our friends who don't know the full story, I just figured I'd get a post out there to explain what's been happening and to let you know how it's going and how you can pray.

* Now keep in mind that I'm writing this on a particularly chaotic day, on not much sleep, and it has been way too long since I've had caffeine! AND of course we all know I have no idea how to properly talk about medical stuff, so all you medical people out there can just go ahead and get a good laugh over my unfortunate medical explanations! (A nurse just came in and I seriously told her, "That thing just beeped. A nurse told me she thinks someone needs to flush it." I mean, super helpful, right?!)

OK, here are some FAQs as I think of them.

She has something called VUR. I thought about putting a link here, but the thing is that I never google it. I promised myself I never would! ha! :) (I had to institute a no-googling-medical-conditions policy years ago, because I have a history of freaking myself out over nothing! Whenever I violate it, I regret it majorly.) Basically the urine in her bladder refluxes up her ureters back into her kidneys, causing the kidneys to dilate. Over time this can cause tremendous damage, so it's not something to ignore.

In the past, we've waited and checked to see if she has grown out of it. (Most who have it do.) (But then her case is way more intense than most.) However, as many times as we've checked, the bad side has never improved at all. The better side has improved slightly. This past time we went, we found out that her reflux is causing secondary problems (like a blockage), so we decided the time had come to take care of it surgically.

Super routine. T's urologist does surgeries like this one nearly every week. However, our pediatrician sees a LOT of patients and he said that only about one of his patients a year needs this surgery. And this is T's lucky year! ;)

The day before the girls were born, I was having an ultrasound at the U of L Hospital. The doctor was checking out their twin-to-twin situation and trying to decide how much longer I could reasonably keep them inside. As he was examining Tamsie, he realized that one of her kidneys was dilated. So we've known about this since before she was born - and that has been a huge blessing! Consequently, she has been on antibiotics since Day 1 to keep her from having a UTI.

It can be a bad thing for a kid so small to have a UTI. Scarring can occur on the kidneys, and no one wants that. The doctor decided that the long-term effects of being on the antibiotic (which, by the way, are minimal because this isn't like penicillin or something - it's in a special class of antibiotics only used for urinary issues) were much less intense than the long-term effects of having multiple UTIs. AND the reflux puts lots of stress on the kidneys.

Praise the Lord, no! She has never had one. And that is apparently a special thing, because breakthrough infections are common even in kids on antibiotics.

Totally! That's why it seems SOOOOOOO weird to send her to surgery! We've always said E gets sick much more easily than T does, in general.

As bad as her situation is, she will have big problems later on. She's not growing out of it. Like she's much more likely to miscarry one day, etc. Plus she would be very likely to need a transplant at some point if this isn't taken care of.

Very well! It took about 2 hours, but when it was over, the surgeon's exact words were that it went "beautifully!" She did not run into any surprises, and she was pleased that T's ureters weren't any more swollen than they were. Also, there were two cancellations before her surgery today, so she got to go in much earlier than expected... which means there is a chance we may only have to spend one night in the hospital if all goes well!!

Yes. If you only fix the bad side, that can make the OK side eventually go bad - so you have to fix both at once in this case.

Originally we were thinking it would be a week... then we heard something like 3 days and 2 nights... and now we're hearing we may be able to go home tomorrow evening! So who knows!

It's supposed to be something like 2 weeks. But we really don't know what that will look like.

Her urine output is not what it should be. Please pray that her kidneys start functioning as they should soon! As I type, she is being pumped full of more fluid to make more urine come out. Please pray that this works!! And please pray that this surgery as a whole is successful!!
AND she's super swollen all over - which is to be expected, but if you know anything about the way my pregnancy ended, you know that I am totally freaked out by large amounts of swelling!!
*OK I've gotten so sidetracked that I actually typed that a few hours ago, and the nurse just came in and said that everything is now looking NORMAL!! YAY! BUT she has to keep it up before they'll consider her output to be normal... so keep praying!! :)

Thanks so much! If you have any more questions, please ask away and I will try and answer. I'll try and post more updates and pictures as they come.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pearl & Rose Designs

Hey y'all!
If you're new here, and I have every reason to believe you are, WELCOME! I used to blog here pretty regularly about my life as a mom to my two precious twin girls, Tamsie Pearl and Evangelyn Rose. However, around the end of last year, I started getting SUPER busy with art projects that took up all my free time. I wound up launching my business, Pearl & Rose Designs, and I just haven't had time to blog since! 

Mainly I have been making hand-drawn wedding maps for clients, but I have also been addressing envelopes and creating chalkboards and other custom drawings. This fall I'm hoping to launch personalized stationery, notecards and prints. I'm particularly looking forward to designing some Scripture verse prints!

Here is my most recent concoction:

I just finished this one up this past weekend. A client ordered a hand-drawn map for her son's wedding in Cologne, Germany - thus making this my first-ever international map! Basically she told me the places they wanted me to include on the map, and I made it happen. Now she is taking the artwork to a stationery store here in Memphis, RSVP Stationers, and having them use it to make gift bags for wedding guests, and she's also having it framed for the newlyweds.

Here's my Facebook page with pricing info, updates and everything else related to Pearl & Rose Designs. Feel free to like it!!!

But first, let me back up. I graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in 2005 with a major in mass communications and a minor in art. In fact, here's the first map I ever did! This one was for an assignment for one of my classes in school. It was supposed to be a map of my life so far: 

Little did I know this would be the first hand-drawn map of many to come!

Then, once I graduated, I wound up working in the PR department of a local non-profit. While there, I was asked to create their annual Christmas card artwork, and this is what I came up with:

It was supposed to look like the front of our medical clinic. The little design inside in the middle represents a quilt hanging in the lobby of the clinic.

One of my best friends from college, JT, wound up moving to Memphis and working there with me. She now works at RSVP, and for years she has been encouraging me to bring up samples of my handwriting so they could refer clients to me for addressing envelopes, etc. 

Now meanwhile, my husband and I moved to Louisville to attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and then about a year and a half later we found out I was pregnant with identical twin girls! They wound up developing Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, had to be delivered at 29 weeks and 4 days, had an 8-week stay in the NICU... and then we wound up moving back home to Memphis to be closer to family since we needed all the help we could get! I've been a stay-at-home mom ever since they came along, and now I have no idea when I'll wrap up my final three classes to graduate with my master's in women's ministry! Ha! But I am absolutely loving this season of life with my precious girls, and I wouldn't trade this time with them for the world.

Well around November of last year, I FINALLY got around to taking some samples up to RSVP, and then that very afternoon they called and asked me if I could make a map for a client's son's wedding in Fort Worth. I had never heard of hand-drawn maps for weddings before, but I figured I could give it a try. Here was the result:

Ever since then, I have had a steady stream of business! This one was a gift from a wife to her husband on his birthday:

This was a map for a wedding in Fort Smith, AR:

Here's one way my first client wound up using her artwork:

This one was an anniversary gift from a wife to her husband. Each place on the map represents a special place in their story:

 Along the way, I've picked up some addressing projects. Here is a sample I made using the style I did for one batch of envelopes:

I also recreated an invitation on a chalkboard for an engagement party a client was throwing:

And here's the menu:

One client opened a vintage resale business in Bartlett and asked me to do the lettering on doors in the shop:

A dear friend asked me to make this map as a wedding anniversary gift to her husband:

One client just requested a simple map featuring the wedding ceremony location and the reception location:

 A sweet friend from college ordered this map for her wedding in Little Rock:

RSVP sent a client my way for this wedding map in Memphis:

These were calling cards included in invitations for a bridal luncheon thrown by a client:

This was for a destination wedding in Florida:

For a client's wedding in Birmingham:

This was a gift for a mother, showcasing special places from her lifetime in two different cities:

Here's a Memphis skyline design I did for RSVP to use:

And a sample address from another batch of wedding invitations:

So it has been a very busy year so far!! This October I will be participating in an exciting craft fair here, and I'm planning to debut some prints and notecards there. Eventually I'm hoping to open an Etsy store where I will sell prints, notepads, notecards, and such. But for now I'm only on Facebook. Please like my page and send me a message if you have any custom projects for me, and stay tuned for when I have things available you can order!

Thanks so much! :)
Much love,

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Where, O Where Has My Bloggy Blog Gone?

Hey y'all!
I may be back from what has been the longest bloggy vacay ever for me. I've had lots of sweet people ask what's happened to me, and I've also had lots of sweet people ask what in the world is up with this Pearl and Rose Designs stuff, so here comes an explanation of what I've been up to lately (in addition to wrangling twins, of course)!

Sometime back in the fall, Melissa needed some special name tags made for an event at work. Knowing my love for all things lettery and papery, she came to me. So basically I cranked out some name tags and got paid for it, which got me thinking about all the times JT, who works at RSVP, has told me I should bring some handwriting samples up to the shop. One day during a particularly productive nap time, I played around with letterings and envelopes until I had quite a little collection to tote up to RSVP. (Chris posted pictures on Facebook, so that's what that was if you saw it and wondered.) When I finally made it up to RSVP, I was blown away by everyone's reactions! These precious people honestly believed they could bring me some business! :)

That very afternoon I received a phone call from JT letting me know that I had my first client from their store. A lady who also works at the shop wanted me to create a hand-drawn custom map for her son's wedding in Fort Worth. Could I do that? I really had no idea what they had in mind, so I asked JT to send some examples of custom maps to me. When I saw what was out there, I let them know I'd give it a whirl and see what I could do. They sent me a list of everything they wanted on the map, and this is what I came up with:

In addition to framing the original, the bride also used the map design on these cute little books that came along with gift baskets they gave to special out-of-town guests:

Well when that map was finished, another girl at the store decided to order a map as a birthday gift for her husband. Here is that finished product:

While I was working on that map, another order came in for a wedding in Fort Smith, AR:

(ARGH! By the way, the colors look MUCH better in person... this is what happens when you take pictures with your iPhone!)

Currently I'm working on a Memphis map that will be given as a gift to a husband from his wife, and I'm also working on addressing an order of envelopes for wedding save-the-dates for another client. When I finish these projects, I have a few more lined up too! Whew! 

This has all been quite the unexpected whirlwind of a blessing, and I have truly been loving having this type of creative outlet. I had really been missing getting to draw, and this is giving me a fabulous excuse to do so again. I also love that I'm getting to create pieces that are so meaningful and special to my clients. I am beyond thankful for this opportunity!

However, all of this means that what I refer to as my "productive free time" -- naptimes and nighttimes when I actually feel like being, ahem, productive in some non-cleaning, non-housework kind of way -- has been going straight toward cranking out these creations. I'd still like to keep up my blog as I can, but there are only so many hours in a day, yada, yada, yada. Oh, and blogging doesn't pay. Monetarily anyway. So there you go. :)

Oh! I'm calling my little business Pearl & Rose Designs, after Tamsie Pearl and Evangelyn Rose, of course! Please like my page on Facebook whenever I get around to creating one, and if you know of anyone who needs anything like what I can do, please send them my way! :) Right now, the best way to contact me is either via Facebook message or at shelby dot vafinis at gmail dot com.