Monday, September 29, 2008

"I'm gonna get you..."

This is Jackson's new thing, and we find it hilarious. He somehow learned how to shake his head, and now does it ALL the time. (Sorry about the video quality.)

"I'm gonna get you..." from Halle Whittington on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Swim Lessons

Ever since I dreamed about having kids one day, I knew that I would want them to feel comfortable and confident in the water. Although the fact that Jackson needed tubes in his ears posed an obstacle to this desire, I still tried to find a way to make it work.

Initially when I found out Jackson would need tubes in his ears, I was disappointed as I had heard that it wouldn't be possible for him to go swimming or go under water. I talked to a few different ENTs that have worked with Jackson and they said that as long as I put wax ear plugs in his ears, covering the opening, he should be fine to swim. I was thrilled and anxiously looked for ways to get him in the water.

When one of our good friends, Amanda, invited us to participate in swim lessons at Sinsheimer, we eagerly accepted! Little did we know that not only Amanda and her sweet boy, Stewart, would be there, but when we arrived, some of our other friends were there! And we even made a few more fun friends during those weeks. Thank you to all those who made swim lessons a blast for us! We loved our time with you.

... And as it turns out, our little boy LOVES the water!

Oh, and let's not forget, his bright orange ear plugs!

Friday, September 12, 2008


The month of September is many things for us. One, it's our anniversary month. We've been married 3 years. Two, it's my birthday month. I turn 30 tomorrow! This is a hard birthday for me to wrap my head around.

In September we also remember 9/11. May we never forget...

September is also the month of awareness for two causes very close to my heart:

National Craniofacial Acceptance Month
Ever since Jackson was diagnosed with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, my eyes have been opened to children with facial differences. Something has changed in me. And has allowed these faces to open my heart still wider.

National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
As many of you know, my family lost my brother Gabriel to Leukemia in 1990. He was 6 years old. This year, founded by a mom inspired by her son's fight against cancer, cookies for kids' cancer was launched.

"May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fake Cough

Ever since Jackson was sick with a cough, he somehow figured out how he could pretend to cough and get our attention... Funny kid.

Fake Cough from Halle Whittington on Vimeo.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Craniofacial Team & The South County Life

Having just arrived back in California on Sunday evening, July 27th, from Austin, you'd think we'd take it easy for a bit... You know, settle back in, those kind of things.

Well, if you know my husband, life never quite settles down. Monday morning we were in full force search-for-the-new-place mode. As you might remember, my parents had graciously opened their home to us for a few months while we attempted to pay off some of the looming medical debt we had acquired since Jackson entered this world.

Long story short, by Wednesday the search was over and we were set to move into our new place in Grover Beach on Saturday (thanks to the help of our fine friends Tim, Travis, and Los Dos Ryans, you know who you are)! Yeah, talk about fast! And let me not forget to mention that Jackson had his first Craniofacial Team appointment on Thursday, July 31st at Childrens Hospital LA. Needless to say, all of this made for one crazy week.

Well, we left that same Wednesday evening and drove down to stay with my Aunt Mary and Uncle Denny (Jackson knows them as Aunt Mary The Great and Uncle Denny The Great!), who live fairly close to CHLA. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening with them; we even had the luxury of sharing in their hot tub. When we got up early the following morning, the coffee was already brewed and ready for us and we left their house with cups in hand. Thank you for your hospitality!

We weren't quite sure what to expect at Jackson's first Craniofacial Team appointment. We arrived a bit before 8, checked in, and entered the waiting room, filled with other cleft-affected kids and their families. Little did we know then that we would spend the majority of the day in waiting rooms!

We saw many people that day; social worker, geneticist, audiologist, speech pathologist, ENT, and his plastic surgeon. Eventually, a dentist and orthodontist will join his team.

This was our first time talking with a geneticist. Due to the rarity and possible severity of Jackson's syndrome, it has been recommended to us to pursue further genetics testing. There are two main forms of Simpson Golabi Behmel Syndrome (SGBS), one of which is more severe than the other. We will most likely have Jackson undergo testing to determine which one he has. It also looks like I will need to go through genetics testing since we know that his syndrome is X-linked recessive.

As far as other important takeaways on the day, the ENT mentioned that she was unable to see the tube in his right ear, which is not a good sign. They will most likely need to check tube placement and possibly put in a new tube during Jackson's palate surgery. Dr. Urata, his plastic surgeon, put in a booking slip for his palate surgery and we now have his next surgery date: October 8, 2008. One month out! Crazy.

We moved into our new place in Grover Beach on Saturday, August 2nd. We're loving it! And Jackson finally has his own room! There is plenty more to share from the past month and I will try to get right on it. Until then, I'll leave you a couple pics of our boy... 8 months old today. He's getting so big.

Since Jackson still has an open palate, he is unable to hold his pacifier in his mouth like most babies. He, however, figured out a way to make it work and it looks like this...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Long Time No Blog

I know, I know. It's been WAY too long. But we're back with plenty of tidbits to share from the life of the Whittingtons.

So let's recap a bit. The last time we talked we were about to embark on our July Adventures. So we'll start there.

We had a blast in Austin, visiting with Daniel's family. It started out with Jackson and I making the trip out there while Daniel headed to Orlando for a work conference. Daniel helped us check our baggage in at the San Luis Obispo airport and then we were on our own. Jackson did fairly well on the flights. From SLO to LA he slept the entire way, much to my relief. The flight from LA to Austin was not so pleasant, as Jackson screamed from the time we boarded till the time they turned off the seatbelt sign. I apologized profusely and continued to try to calm him down. He finally calmed down while I was feeding him and fell asleep shortly thereafter. We were welcomed in the Austin airport by Daniel's sister, Sarah. A sight for sore eyes.

Our first days were filled with settling in and getting reacquainted with Me Me (pronounced May May), Fauxpa, Aunt Sarah, Uncle Andy and cousins Jeremiah, Caleb and Taylor. Me Me was well-prepared for us, having bought all the essentials plus some. Jackson had a swing (like the one at home), a bumbo seat, plenty of toys, and his bed set up just the way he likes it (thanks to Sarah). We felt right at home.

Our first week we spent without hubby and Daddy. We visited with cousins, took walks in the neighborhood, went swimming, shopping, experienced fast food joints we don't have here on the Central Coast (namely Sonic), ate great food (for example, Kerby Lane & Austin Java), and made cookies with Fauxpa. Oh, and the most important thing, we taught Me Me how to tube feed Jackson! Yes, you read that right! She's a rockstar.

Daniel arrived late on a Thursday night, due to delayed flights, but we somehow managed to get up early enough to head for a day of adventures at Sea World San Antonio. Daniel and I were kid-less for a day, at least that's what we call it. Me Me, since she learned how to feed Jackson, offered to take care of him while we went to Sea World. The highlight of the day was by far the Shamu show, "Believe." It was nice (and a bit weird) to spend the day without our boy, but it was a breath of fresh air for both of us, as we hadn't spend an entire day together (just us) since before Jackson was born. We went on rollercoasters, watched our nephews feed dolphins, visited with the Budweiser Clydesdales, and tasted the brews of Anheuser-Busch. On a side note, the general consensus is the best beer is free beer. But when it comes down to it, for us anyway, we'd much rather have had a cold Dr. Pepper over the crappy beer we tasted that day.

As for the rest of our trip, we were in for many more adventures. I had my first authentic Texas BBQ at Rudy's "Country Store" and Bar-B-Q. And let me just say, if you've never had it done right, you've never lived. I'm just sayin'. We also hiked in (with 4 kids!) and swam at Hamilton Pool. Good fun. On top of our many more shopping adventures, we also enjoyed many more eating adventures including fine Indian Cuisine at the ClayPit, "Mexonesian" Cuisine at Hula Hut, and Southwestern Grill at Z'Tejas. To top it off, we (minus Jackson) saw The Dark Knight in Austin's IMAX theatre, located in The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Talk about gnarly.

One of the highlights of our Austin trip was Date Night City Style. We've both always loved the big city life and thanks, once again, to Me Me we were able to spend an evening together in Downtown Austin. We kicked off the night at the Elephant Room on Congress and listened to great jazz while Daniel savored his Chimay on tap and I, my Gin and Tonic. This was my first experience listening to live Jazz, and I loved it! From there we went to Lamberts - Fancy Barbecue. We headed upstairs to the bar to listen to yet more incredible live music, this time Cajun music. That, along with appetizers and cocktails, was just what the doctor ordered, along with some much needed time together.

Jackson was an amazing traveler on the trip back and we arrived home just in time to embark on some more adventures! More to come...