Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Adventures With a Toddler in Glasses


Only a few years into parenthood we discovered that we'd have a unique family--for many reasons, not the least of which is our children's various eye "issues" coupled with their trendy eye wear. It was when Clara was three that she was first diagnosed as far-sighted with a lazy eye that required hours upon hours of patching (covering her strong eye in order to strengthen the weaker eye). This, she inherited from her father who also wore bi-focals as a young lad. Nothing like a darling blonde donning a pair of bifocals to make you smile.
(We buy all our kids' glasses from the Glasses Menagerie, a shop in Uptown Minneapolis that specializes in kids' glasses. They have extremely good warranties, a huge selection of darling frames, and great customer service.)

In order to be thorough, we decided to have Aidan's eyes checked as well (he had just turned two). Little did we know that those incidents of him running into walls, falling down stairs, and putting his nose within inches of his plate to see what he'd have for dinner meant more than the fact that he was a clumsy and curious toddler. The poor kid could barely see at all. His optic nerves are "cupped" which often indicates glaucoma, yet he has no other symptoms. It's nearly impossible to check pressures on a young child so he underwent an eye exam under anesthesia in order to rule out glaucoma. He was also diagnosed with strabismus, a gentle turning in of his right eye. (His case was mild enough that most people didn't notice. Looking back we can see how his eye turned in, but we counted it as part of his cuteness factor.) So, after almost a year with his glasses, Aidan also had a strabismus correction surgery to realign his eyes. He's still working on his "eye exercise" with modified patching.
(By the way, he told me that creation he made here is an "apple on fire".)

Somehow, sweet Eleanor ended up with perfect vision. When others comment on how much they like the kids' glasses she always chimes in with "I don't have glasses, I have dimples instead."

And then came Max. Our sweet, laid back, mellow baby. From the time he was born he dealt with the ramifications of a plugged tear duct and we decided after ten months that it was time to have his eyes checked as well. (We had explored our options in terms of the plugged duct and knew they might recommend surgery after a year and checking the status of his eyes was a must with the history of his siblings.) I remember the moment well as the doctor peered into Max's dilated eyes and said "this little guy is near-sighted." It turned out that his optic nerves look just like his big brother's so Max has undergone two eye exams under anesthesia as well. The plugged tear duct went away on its own! I'll admit to being the reason the boys are afflicted with extreme near-sightedness (although I was six when I received my first pair of specs). I wear contacts so I suppose it isn't obvious--and people always ask.

In October of 2008, when Max was 18 months old, he got a pair of the coolest red baby glasses imported from France just for him. The first words out of his mouth when he put them on were "I see it!" I got all teary when I realized he could finally see!

And that was the end of Max as we knew him.

Here's Max in his red glasses on his first day with the specs:
(His aunty Allison says he looks like should be sitting in a coffee shop wearing a scarf and typing on a Mac.)

Here's a photo of the glasses the next morning:
Since the glasses have to be imported from France every time they break, we invested in a pair of cheap blue replacement glasses for him to wear in the case that he should need them.

The blue glasses before:
The blue glasses now:
He of course broke the blue (Prada) glasses (apparently the rich and famous are into baby glasses design) while the red glasses were being fixed. We then had to purchase another pair of brown glasses as his backup pair. (The red glasses are under an incredible warranty, but we foolishly decided not to get the "second pair for half off" so that our back-up pair would also be under warranty.)

On the way up to Breezy Point, Minnesota for a little get away with the family last week, we heard a little "uh-oh" come from the back seat. We turned around and there was Max holding his red glasses in his hands--in two pieces. (THIS IS THE FOURTH TIME HE'S BROKEN THE RED GLASSES!) Thankfully, Max's grandfather was able to get into our house and get the brown glasses on his way up to Breezy Point so Max would have something to wear on vacation. Last Thursday, I brought the red pair into the Glasses Menagerie to be replaced (which takes at least a week). On Monday morning, I set Max on the floor after getting him dressed and he shouted "Glasses!" and ran to his nightstand. Next word? "Uh-oh."

Here are the brown glasses now (because duct tape is cool):
I called to order another pair of back-up glasses for $40 and the nice man at Glasses Menagerie said "He's one tough kid." My reply? "Yeah. Well, he wasn't tough until he could SEE!"

Moral of the story? Pay the extra money to buy kids' glasses with a great warranty (which we did and always do) and let the lady convince you that the second pair for half off isn't that bad of a deal when you have a toddler in glasses.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A bit of very good news about the house (the new one, that is)...


About three weeks ago I submitted 18 pages of forms, bank statements, and pay stubs to our contact at a local bank as part of the loan pre-approval process. Getting that stuff together took forever (my best comparison is to doing your taxes; hours of excruciating tedium). I also met with the bank and laid out our project, including a conservative estimate of how much it will cost for construction (based on all our bids and then working with Duane, our chosen contractor, since then). Well, after three weeks, I got the call from the bank while at work this afternoon...

We've been pre-approved for all of the construction funds we requested!

I must admit, I took this in stride when I was at work (it's busier than heck, after all), but after leaving work and getting more time to think about it I have slowly realized how huge this is. In this economy, in this loan environment, in this housing environment, we got approved for all of the construction funds we asked for. Praise the Lord!

All this said, the bank did note that final numbers would depend on how much we can sell our current home for, and how much our land gets appraised for, but even with conservative estimates on both of those items I think we're sitting good. Engineers are good at stringing together conservative estimates.

Now if we can just sell our house!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The end of an era...


Well, I haven't had much opportunity to post lately because it's coming down to the home stretch for my Ph.D. thesis. I am sitting at 173 pages right now, and based on what I know I still have left to do I think it will be about 200 pages when I'm done. That will be quite a "book" when it is hardcover-bound for submission. I also have my thesis defense scheduled for April 24 at the Mechanical Engineering department on the campus of the University of Minnesota, and I'm looking forward to having some family and friends in attendance!

Honestly, I can't tell you how surreal it is that this is all finally coming to an end. When something consumes almost all of your free time for 5 years of your life, it's somewhat unbelievable that it would all come to a successful end (hopefully!). I've never allowed myself to indulge in the thought that everything will work out as I had hoped until the very end (lest I let down my guard and end up getting dissappointed). So I've gone 5 years never allowing myself to fully believe that getting a Ph.D., while working full time, with a growing family, would all work out. I am just now starting to allow myself to exhale, and it's surreal. I've worked from about 9pm-1am on my school work the majority of evenings for the past 5 years straight (in a persistent highly-caffeinated state, I assure you); what on earth will I do with myself when this is over? It will feel like a permanent vacation. And since Molly has sacrificed a lot of our evening time together over these 5 years, it will feel like a permanent vacation for her as well.

I pray that all the work I've put into this over the years gives glory to God in some small way. And your prayers are appreciated over the next few weeks that I can finish this off while operating on miniscule sleep and not go crazy!

And go Gophers!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More on selling the house...

So, there really isn't much more to tell, except that we're still waiting. The people who were potentially interested in making an offer have decided to look at more foreclosures in a lower price bracket. So, we're pretty much back where we started. It's possible, though, that these buyers will discover that there isn't much to be found as far as foreclosures unless they happen to be at the right place at the right time--and they find a NICE home that still has appliances, doorknobs, and other somewhat important features--like a working toilet or two. :) Their realtor has assured our agent that he will keep tabs on our home and represent it to his clients if the situation presents itself.

We're obviously competing in a difficult market right now. 50% of all the homes sold in our area in the past year were foreclosures (compared with about 11% in the greater Twin Cities). We DO feel so blessed to have a wonderful home to live in--and one that we will take pride in passing along to the right buyer. To be even considering building our home in an economy that has been so difficult for so many is really a miracle in itself.

We continue to pray for God's Providence in this and all situations! We hope you'll do the same. We'll let you know if there is more news to share.