Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Childhood Prayers

It was the prayer that myself and my siblings said before each meal as we grew up. It seemed strange that after reciting it so many times in my youth, that I would have such a difficult time remembering it as an adult. After talking with my sister though, the words came back to me...

Thank you for the world so sweet.
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing.
Thank you, God, for everything.

I had recently revived this short prayer in my mind - probably thinking forward to when Kaylin would be able to say grace once she gets old enough. Then today, as Aunt Kay showed us a cook book that the women from her childhood church had put together when she was not yet 20 years old, she read a child's table prayer that seemed familiar...

We thank you, God, for meat and drink;
We thank you for the power to think;
We thank you for each happy day;
We thank you for long hours of play;
We thank you for bright butterflies;
We thank you for our own two eyes;
We thank you for the birds that sing;
We thank you for everything.

What childhood prayers do you remember from your youth?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kaylin 2 Month Checkup

Kaylin had her 2 month appointment today. She is now 22 Inches long, and weighs 11 lbs. She has had quite a growth spurt, leaping from below the 5th percentile for weight at her last appointment, up to the 50th percentile!

Today's appointment included 3 shots, and 1 oral vaccination. Today was also Kaylin's first all-out cry, complete with red face, red eyes, lots of tears and lots of volume. Hannah and I felt so bad for her, but Kaylin is such a trooper - 10 minutes after her shots, she was settling into a good sleep.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hey Kaylin...

Hey Kaylin, how did you feel when you found out that Papa Stuntz and Nana Sue Sue were going to be visiting?

And what do you think about the fact that they had to go home to Colorado?

Friday, August 6, 2010

What A Chore!

I've always known that I dislike grocery shopping... In fact, "loathe" comes to mind. I never really knew why, but I think I've finally figured it out.

It's a major chore! Or, rather, a series of chores.

Consider the following:

Chore 1
Drive to the grocery store, and try to find a parking spot (arguably the most difficult step in the grocery buying saga)

Chore 2
Wander through the grocery store, trying to find the items that were there last week, but have since been relocated. Annoying???

Chore 3
With great care so everything fits, place all the gatherings into your shopping cart. You must perform this task while dodging and weaving around people who have no clue why they went to the store in the first place.

Chore 4
Unload the shopping cart. You must get the cart empty before the cashier runs out of room to place bags, otherwise, they will be on the floor. A tricky task, as the belt is narrow, and does not advance quickly enough to complete the first part of this chore effectively.

*Note to cashiers: No, I do not wish to explain to you why I bought that item. It's none of your business why I have the medical ointment. Yes, those cookies are good, otherwise, I would not have purchased them. It's really not your place to tell me they will make my butt big. I'm glad you have a cat, but I'm not interested in the kind of food it prefers, or that it just got over a bad case of worms. Just saying...

Chore 5
Load the shopping cart again. Nothing fits right this time. :-(

Chore 6
Unload the shopping cart / load the vehicle.

Chore 7
Unload the vehicle.

Chore 8
Carry the bags into the house, taking care to catch items as they rip through the bag.

Chore 9
Another big one here. Unlock and open the door using a combination of your mouth, 1 pinky, and your left foot.

Chore 10
Find a semi-permanent home for all the items.

Chore 11
Where do I put all these stupid plastic bags???

Chore 12
Begin working on next week's grocery list. (No, it never ends - it's a vicious cycle)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pics with Auntie Kay

This past Sunday, the three of us went to Auntie Kay and Uncle Mark's house for a photo shoot. Kaylin and Hannah are so photogenic, it makes me wonder how I got to be so fortunate in life to have such a beautiful family.

Be sure to check out Kaylin's Photo Gallery to see the most recent pictures.

Also, Kaylin had a 3 week checkup this past Friday, and the pediatrician seems very happy with her progress. She was up to 6 lbs. 10 oz.!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

2 Week Checkup

This past Friday, Kaylin Ann had her 2 week checkup with a Pediatrician from the University of Iowa Family Care Center. She is currently below the 5th percentile for weight, but she is gaining. Her weight this week was 6 lbs. 2 oz.! The doctor said that they like to see babies gaining 25 - 35 grams per day, but when she calculated how many grams per day Kaylin is gaining, she got a figure of 52 grams! So, even though Kaylin is still really little, she is trying really hard to make up some ground!

Of course, all that weight gain comes at a cost, and that cost is frequent diaper changes. Kaylin seems to be figuring out that she is able to get a good reaction out of her father if she turns her body just the right way, and waits for the most opportune moment to let God's work come forth. This is usually after the old diaper has been removed, and just before the new diaper is secured in place. I normally complain that I am somewhat out of shape when I get winded too easily, but I am now noticing that my reaction time is not as spry as it used to be either. Consequently, changing Kaylin sometimes means changing myself as well. Hannah doesn't seem to have this problem - she is still spry like a cat.

I am looking forward to sharing this endearing experience with Papa Stuntz in a couple of weeks when he and Grandma Susan come for their visit.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kaylin's Homecoming Song

From Kaylin Ann Brock

Click the picture for a larger view.

Thank You Aunt Kay for creating this!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blue: No Longer My Favorite Color

First, a preemptive statement...

Everyone is fine! :-)

Saturday Evening. Hannah and I sitting on the couch, Grannie Annie holding Kaylin on her lap, soaking in as much baby time as she can before she has to leave Sunday morning. Mouth watering aromas of a salmon dinner wafting in from the kitchen. All seems well, and peaceful.

Suddenly, Hannah asks "Does it look like Kaylin is getting blue around the mouth"?

We try to get Kaylin to wake up from her nap, with only partial success. We try changing her diaper - that usually gets her to wake up and fuss a bit. She's still asleep. I try to rock her from side to side - one of the nurses at the hospital showed us that trick. It triggers some kind of a reflex which causes babies to wake up and open their eyes. Again, only partial success.

Kaylin's color improves briefly, but then darkens again into a ghastly blue around her mouth.

While in the NICU, Kaylin had a few brief "episodes" where her oxygen saturation levels dropped. I wrote about that issue in an earlier post. The doctors told us that even if her O2 levels drop, she should be able to pull herself out of it, but without a monitor to see what her levels are at, we were told to watch around her mouth for a blue, dusky color. That's our indication that her oxygen is not where it should be.

We call the 24 hour line at the University of Iowa to ask what we should do. The nurse asks some questions, and then advises us to call the ambulance.

The nurse says "It may be an over-reaction, but I'd rather over-react then to have a dead child".

We agree.

The hospital is only 1.5 miles from our house, and her color has again improved, so we take her to the emergency room ourselves. Salmon can wait.

Apparently, so can we.

After walking into the Emergency Room, it takes 3 minutes for anybody to come to the window to see what our emergency is. Good thing Kaylin isn't missing a limb.

We are ushered to an examining room, where a nurse checks her oxygen levels. We are relieved to see the machine say 100%.

"The doctor will be in to see you soon".

30 minutes later, the doctor appears. We begin to describe the reason for our being there. The doctor begins touching Kaylin's face.

Hannah asks "Could you please wash your hands" ???

Really? Seriously? Do we actually have to request that the doctor wash her hands before sticking her fingers on our child's face??? Where did she come from just now? Who was she helping just before us? Sure, it could have simply been somebody with a broken finger, but maybe it was the guy next door coughing on the Ebola Virus! (Ok, no Ebola, but it illustrates the point)

Good Grief!

Hannah washes Kaylin's face as soon as the doctor steps out of the room. Good call.

Oxygen levels are once again checked - all looks good.

Her temperature is checked, rectal style. Kaylin has a mighty bowl movement during the process. Hannah and I look at each other as if to say, "The doctor deserved that for not washing her hands"! We exchange knowing grins.

We are sent on our way with assurances that we did the right thing by bringing her in, that it's better to be safe than sorry. We are told that it's not uncommon to see a slight bluish color around the mouth, especially if she get's chilled.

We come home, relieved that all is well. We bathe Kaylin to wash away the germs from the emergency room. She goes to sleep peacefully.

The salmon was great, even if re-heated.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Very Special Blanket


If there was a single word I would pick to describe how my mother felt after Hannah and I told her that we were pregnant, I think "elation" does a pretty good job. After all, I am the oldest of four, and the last to have a child of my own. My mother had waited 36 years to see her first-born child become a parent himself, and she could hardly contain her excitement knowing that in just a few months, she would be holding her next grand-child in her arms.

My mother had a wonderful sense of tradition, and one the things that she has always done for her grand-children was to crochet a blanket that was used to bring the little new life home in. Kaylin Ann is her 8th grand-child, and she was excited to get started on a new receiving blanket. I can recall being in her apartment in January of 2010, seeing the bag of crochet hooks and skeins of yarn that would be transformed into Kaylin's blanket.

A new grand-child on the way made the discovery of a tumor on her pancreas much more cruel. It was bad enough that the doctor told her she had terminal cancer, and that she didn't have much time left. Six months was the best estimation we had. Now, she was worried that the inevitable would arrive before little Kaylin did. That was in January... six months from then would be July. With an iron-strong spirit to endure, she told the oncologist that her goal was to be in Iowa on July 10th, Kaylin's due date.

Hannah and I had flown to Oregon to be with mom when she had surgery to remove the tumor - an unsuccessful procedure as the cancer had already spread to her liver.  Only two weeks had passed after we returned home to Iowa before my sister Sarah called to tell me that mom had taken a drastic turn for the worse. It was time to return to Oregon. The bag of yarn was still there, a six inch strip of blanket complete.

As I talked to Sarah about what was to come, what preparations needed to be made, and who would complete which tasks, I felt I was conducting a business meeting, rather than preparing to mourn the loss of my mother. Maybe it was subconsciously intentional, placing a buffer between the emotions I was feeling, and the expression on my face and words I spoke. In a single sentence though, Sarah cut straight through the defenses when the topic of Kaylin's blanket came up.

"Mom isn't going to be able to finish Kaylin's blanket, so I'm going to finish it for her - for mom and for Kaylin".

It's curious the things that strike at the heart when you don't expect them to.  I was dealing with the worst news of my life with efficiency and steely resolve.   The thing that nearly brought me to my knees was that Kaylin would still have her blanket.

Sadly, the very thing that mom was worried about is exactly what happened.  She lost her struggle to stay with us on March 29th, 3 months prior to Kaylin's arrival.  Before she passed, she told us that she was not afraid to die, that the only thing she was afraid of is that her grand-children would not remember her.  Our pledge to her is that her grand-kids will most definately know Grandma Linda.

So, Kaylin, when you are reading this many years from now, when the important things of your teenage years seem much smaller and trivial compared to what is important to you now, look at the blanket that Grandma Linda and Aunt Sarah made for you.  Look in the corner where the loops are little bit tighter than in the rest of the blanket.  That is the part that your grandmother did, when she was barely strong enough to walk on her own, but still had the strength to do something special just for you.  Know that each loop represents the unending love that your grandmother had for you, even before you were born.

Kaylin Ann's First Bath At Home

Do all new fathers think that something fairly run-of-the-mill to the rest of the world, is actually the cutest thing in the world???  :-D

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kaylin Ann Brock

Born June 30, 10:32PM
5 lbs 2.3 oz

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
Iowa City, Iowa

Kaylin's Photo Gallery

Kaylin Ann Brock is named after Hannah's Aunt Kay Flanders, my Mother Linda Brock, and Hannah's Mother Ann Stensland.  She bears the proud and honorable surname Brock, given to her by her Grand-Father James Harrison Brock, who adopted me when I was only three years of age.

At 38 1/2 weeks, Kaylin was born a little underweight, and some initial blood work showed that her blood count was a bit high, which could make the blood "sludgy" inside her little body. In addition, her glucose levels were low.  Due to these two issues, she was placed into NICU with an I.V. Hannah was in recovery for nearly a day and was unable to see Kaylin, so they placed a small tube into Kaylin's stomach (through the nose) to feed her. 

* UPDATE 7/3/2010 *
Hannah has been discharged from the hospital! She is feeling so much better!!! Kaylin is still in NICU, but has been moved to a private room that is larger and more accommodating for parents, complete with recliner, couch and a bathroom with a shower in it. Very nice, since Kaylin will be here at least 1 more night, if not more.

Kaylin had been on a 3 hour feeding schedule, with I.V. fluids. She has now been taken off that schedule, so she is allowed to eat anytime she wants. Her I.V. fluids have been reduced to half of what she was getting. They want to make sure that she's getting enough to eat from Hannah, and that her glucose and blood levels have stabilized before they give her the all clear.
The charge nurse last night said that if she thought we wouldn't miss Kaylin, she'd put her in her pocket and take her home! She is very cute (a non-biased opinion as I'm sure you'd agree), and we can't wait to take her home!

* UPDATE 7/4/2010 *
Independence Day. That is exactly what today is; independence from I.V. fluids.  After Kaylin's labs came back this morning and looked good, the NICU team decided to turn off the I.V.  We are 1 step closer to going home!  Her bilirubin count is creeping up, which could lead to jaundice, but the staff doesn't seem worried or even concerned about it.  Kaylin is getting the hang of nursing, so we are excited about that.  It is so gratifying to have successful feedings after having several very challenging ones.

Mom and Dad have homework to do in order to get out of here.  The hospital requires that we watch several videos, including one on CPR that comes with an infant CPR doll that is about a time and a half the size of Kaylin!  We are going to have the nurse walk us through some "how to" things for when we get home so that we feel prepared once they discharge us.

* UPDATE 7/5/2010 *
Last night, Kaylin had a couple of "episodes" where her oxygen saturation levels dropped in conjunction with a drop in heart beats per minute.  Besides sounding every alarm in the room, which Hannah and I found very discomforting, the NICU team seemed a bit concerned as well.  She didn't appear to be in any distress though, so we are hopeful that this is not indicative of a larger issue.

After talking with the staff doctor this morning, the plan going forward is that she will be here for a couple more days for continued monitoring and evaluation.  The doctor said that with her being small, and a couple weeks early, the parts of her brain that control some of those systems might just not be quite developed yet, and these episodes may go away on their own.  So, they want to see if she has any more of these episodes, and if/when she does, we are not to intervene by changing her position or talking to her or anything like that.  They want to simulate her being at home off of the monitors and what would happen in that situation.  Of course, if her saturation and heart rate don't improve on their own, they will take steps to pull her out of it.

As for Hannah and I, we are averaging somewhere between 4 and 5 hours of sleep per night.  In a somewhat selfish way, I am glad for the extended stay at the hospital, as it has allowed us to talk to the nursing staff and get hints, tips, pointers, and how-tos that we probably would have missed out on had we done the baby-express option.  The staff has been so wonderful with Kaylin's care, and it's been really nice to have an extra person around to change the occasional diaper for us, or just to keep an eye on Kaylin while we go to the cafeteria for bite to eat.

We had accepted the fact that we were going to miss out on all the 4th of July activities and spectacles, but at about 9:00 PM last night, we started hearing "popping" sounds outside.  We looked out our window and were delighted at our good luck - we had a front row box seat to a fabulous fireworks display!  Viewing the show from Kaylin's hospital room, I couldn't help but think that somehow, these fireworks were just for us; that the sole purpose for this grand display of light and sound was to celebrate Kaylin's arrival into our world.  Maybe they weren't really, but in my heart and future's memories, those fireworks spelled out Kaylin's name across the Iowa night sky.

* UPDATE 7/6/2010 *

Kaylin had a great day yesterday and last night, with no further "episodes". Her labs looked good enough yesterday that she was able to get her IV removed (she was no longer receiving fluids from it). She passed her car seat test with FLYING colors! A sweet lady gently placed headphones over her ears, and sensors on the back of her neck, her cheek and her forehead. The small device held in the woman's hand analyzing Kaylin's brain waves as clicking sounds played through the headphones, looking for the electrical activity in her brain that would prove she could hear properly. Pattern found! Kaylin can hear!

This mornings labs showed that her bilirubin count had dropped substantially, her blood counts were coming down (no more sludgy blood), and that her glucose levels were staying within normal limits. Several small victories added together earned her her walking papers!

The drive home couldn't have gone better. Mom at her side in the back seat, Kaylin was peacefully asleep the whole way home - a 45 minute drive.

Upon arriving home, we were greeted by Grannie Annie and her friend Brad, and Auntie Kay. Grannie made scrumptious sandwiches for lunch. The cats took wide-eyed turns smelling Kaylin in her car seat. One of the cats, April, saw Kaylin's little fingers sticking out of her onesie, and rubbed her head up against Kaylin's hand, happy to have one more human to pet her. No problem - the cats all know she's part of the family, and all seem happy to have her here sharing their space.

We introduced Kaylin to her new bedroom, conspicuously devoid of monitors and alarms, wires and tubes, bright lights and lab techs with sharp sticks, and the cries from other babies anxious for more comfortable surroundings. She fed in peace, serene and beautiful.

Our Family Is Home.

Thank you all for your well wishes and congratulations! :-)
I am continuing to post new photos here.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Mother, The Gardener

When I was 13 or 14 years old, I got a summer job working at Heather Oak Rhododendrons. A big part of working at that nursery was to pot Rhododendron starts by the hundreds - they would be sold off in the following years.

One day, I came across a small plant that was nothing more than a 3 inch stick with two tiny roots on one end, and a single leaf on the other. Mike, the owner of the nursery, told me to toss that one aside, that it wasn't worth anything, and would probably just die anyway.

I asked him if I could have it.

When I got home that evening, I showed my mother this sad, one-leaf stick, and asked her if she could help it. She took it, put it in some potting soil, made sure to water it, and nurtured it along until it was strong enough to sustain itself. Then, she planted it in our yard, where it continued to grow, and flourish.

That was some 23 years ago, and that Rhododendron is now a great-big beautiful plant that my mother spoke of fondly.

When she got married a few years ago, she decided to dig it up and replant it at her new home. Some people questioned her for the efforts she was putting forth for a single plant, and suggested it would be so much easier just to get a new one to plant. She explained that this particular Rhododendron wasn't just a Rhododendron, that it was "a little boy's faith in his mother to make it better".

And she did make it better. She always knew how to make things better. She knew the right words to say to comfort us in troubled times. She knew what to do in the challenges we faced. And she knew how to be a good role-model for us, and great follower of Christ.

While she saw that Rhododendron as "a little boy's faith in his mother", for my part, I see it as a symbol for how she lived her life, and how she related to other people.

She had deep compassion for the people who she met who were sick in health, or sick in spirit. Once she befriended you, you were hers. She would do whatever it took to help those that she loved. Sometimes, it was a simple phone call. Sometimes, it was a weekend trip to the coast. Sometimes, it was lying next to the person to offer comfort and care in their final hours before passing from this Earth. Always with a smile, encouraging words, and a tender heart.

She wasn't perfect, and there were times when she had fall-outs with some of her friends, but she never tossed a friendship aside because it was no longer worth anything, and would probably die anyway. Even at times when people said or did something to her that was mean, or bitter, she was generous with her forgiveness. She often told us that we don't know what else is going on in that other person's life - that they may be going through something very difficult, and they don't really mean that thing that they said or did. Some of you in this room know first-hand of her tenacity to pursue and mend a relationship. Aren't we glad that she did?

Linda's greatest joy and concern was always for us - her family and friends. She cared for us, encouraged us, repaired us, uplifted us, listed to us, loved us.

Linda loved spending time in her flower gardens. She delighted in the time and effort spent pruning her rose bushes, though sometimes she got pricked, planting bulbs, pulling weeds, watering, nourishing and tending each plant with great love and care. Her family and friends are a living testament to the wonderful gardener she was.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Obituary of Linda Lorraine Brock

Linda Lorraine Brock passed away Monday, March 29th of Pancreatic Cancer. She was 54. We are comforted in the knowledge that a Loving God has received her.

Linda was born in Superior, Wisconsin on June 2nd 1955.

She moved to Oregon with her family as a young teenager and has lived in Eugene, Albany and Brownsville, Oregon.

Her husband of 20 years and father of her children, James Harrison Brock, died in 1997.

She is survived by her Mother and Stepfather, Dolores and Nick Fliter of Piedmont, Missouri, four children, nine grandchildren, and seven siblings:

Brian Brock and wife Hannah of Muscatine, Iowa - Linda greatly looked forward to the arrival of her newest granddaughter, Kaylin Ann who is expected in July;

Eric Brock and wife Alexandra and grandsons Conner and Austin of Lebanon, Oregon;

Sarah Vogel and husband Steve, with granddaughters Ashleah and Taytum and grandson Jarison of Brownsville, Oregon;

Grace McGowan and husband Joey and grandsons Jack and Adam and granddaughter Emma of Junction City, Oregon.

Linda is one of nine children. Her brother Joseph preceded her in death.

She has five sisters and two brothers: Mary Maugh and her husband Gene; Elizabeth “Betsy” Williams and husband Micky; Jeanie Chambers; Toni Price and husband Earl; Scharlotte Minhas; Richard Andrew Murray; and Charles Murray.

In addition, she has nine nieces, three nephews, and numerous great nieces and nephews that she loved and cared for deeply.

Her canine companion, Grant, awaits her arrival in Heaven.

Linda was a dynamic and amazing woman. She was a nurturer, providing care to many people from newborns and children, to the elderly as they passed into eternity. She acted as a surrogate mother to many beyond her own children, humbly affecting lives in positive and profound ways that she didn’t fully recognize.

Linda poured herself out to help others, and more importantly, taught her children and those around her to do the same. She often expressed her respect and pride for those qualities that she nurtured and continues to grow in her children. She left an indelible impression on everyone that has ever known her to strive towards his or her best.

For many people she was the one positive constant, the person who was there for them in their times of trial and need. She mentored with compassion, the wisdom of her faith and a voice of experience. Her encouraging words "this too shall pass" brought hope and the confidence of better days ahead to many seemingly dismal situations.

Linda also had a great sense of the joy in life. Whether it was watching children play, Geo-Caching with her sisters, tending her flower gardens, or accompanying her friend and companion Grant on adventures, she enjoyed life to it’s fullest. She found delight in nature, in the silly things people do, or by acting silly herself! From cake food fights at Chinese restaurants to singing for the children on stage at the mall, she was ready to step out and make people laugh; even in if it meant her own embarrassment!

Linda’s family and friends will always be a reflection of her compassion, courage, humor and joy. She loved unconditionally and exemplified what it meant to be a great mother, wife and friend. She taught not to fear life and the challenges and losses that occur. Linda was bold in speaking the truth; but did so only in encouragement and praise. She served as an example of how God can help people become truly amazing even in difficult times.

The world is indeed left a better place thanks to Linda Brock.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


As I've been going through my Mother's apartment, getting it ready to be vacated, I came across the following. This is my Mother, in her own words...


He came into my life one spring day. His shiny brown hair and those beautiful bright eyes. With one kiss of my neck, he stole my heart. At 4 weeks old he was just barely taller than the grass in the back yard. He looked like a little brown bear cub. That was my Grant.

He liked to take Shawny's leash in his mouth and drag her around. He loved the water, and even jumped out of a moving truck to get to it. He had a rock fetish and would fill up the feeder with them so I would have to clean it out so the dogs could get to the food. He grew up in day care and he loved the kids. He never took their toys and would wait patiently while they played with his. He was a nurturer of all little things; bunnies, ducks, kittens. There was not a mean bone in his body.

He alerted a policeman who was about to give me a ticket for not having him on a leash to a young boy teetering at the top of a ladder, and the child was rescued without harm. Good save!

He went over a cliff and found himself on a dangerous ledge and had to be rescued by a LaPine policeman. He never took his eyes off me, trusting that I would help him, and I did.

He was my constant, loyal companion. He kept me company when I was learning to live without Jack. He kept watch at my side during my cancer and chemo treatments, resting his head on the edge of the bed so he could see me. His hair dried many tears when my marriage came to an end. He helped me adjust to a new living situation, alone, in a new town and apartment.

He had been having trouble with his hips and the vet was his friend. With medication he was comfortable most of the time, but he couldn't run along the beach, he couldn't chase balls or jump for bubbles. It was hard to climb into the car but he loved to flap his ears in the wind.

One day he couldn't stand up. He was carried outside and after trying to get his back legs under himself, he fell while he was going pee. Once again, he looked at me with those beautiful eyes that had now seemed to have lost their brightness and trusted me to help him, and I did.

He was the best friend anyone could have asked for. He was so very much loved and I miss him. I will always love and remember you my sweet boy Grant.