Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Today, we covet your prayers as Brother Bear has surgery to address his toe-walking.

I appreciate your patience with this Mama Bear as I navigate his recovery, parenting another busy cub, and blogging!!

Monday, February 8, 2010


"Mama Bear, why do they want me to walk flat footed?"

I took a deep breath. I said a quick prayer. This was the question I'd been waiting for since we had our first appointment with the orthopedic surgeon. This was the question I was dreading. Because I knew the question that lingered behind it. "What is wrong with me?" Why do I know this? Because, I too, walked on my toes as a child. I too, wondered why everyone wouldn't just let me be and walk any old way I wanted.

But now, I was the Mama Bear. I was in charge of the one who just wanted me to "let him be". I'll admit, there was a part of me that wanted to just pick that bear cub up and run to the woods where we could start a toe walking commune, but I didn't. I had to be the Mama Bear.

I took another deep breath, and gently explained it to him. I told him that while his body prefers to walk on his toes, that it wasn't good for his muscles to walk on his toes forever. That, if he continued, he would risk losing use of some muscles and then wouldn't be able to do every activity he wanted. I explained that walking with your whole foot (not just your toes) is how a human being is intended to walk. He seemed fine with that explanation and, as kindergartners are apt to do, moved quickly on to another question.

But I didn't.

This is a question Papa Bear and I have dealt with as parents since Brother Bear began his journey into the upright world. He began walking on his toes as soon as he started walking. We were hoping (as the pediatrician suggested) that it would go away. But we also knew that 70% of toe walkers had a parent who walked on their toes.

At the age of three, we were referred to an orthopedic surgeon at a local Orthopedic Hospital. He told us that most kids "grow out of this" and that he would see us in a year. In a year, at age 4, he said that Brother Bear didn't seem to be growing out of it like we had hoped. He broached the idea of a surgical solution, and wanted to see us again in 9 months. Nine months later, he confirmed no positive changes in Brother Bear's gait and told us that surgery was the best option. We asked for more time. He gave us 3 months.

We began to search in earnest for alternate solutions. We were divinely connected with a Physical Therapist who, with twice weekly visits and night braces (molded twice a month), helped Brother Bear gain enough range of motion to actually put his heels on the ground with ease (and without pain), but we were unable to get enough range of motion for him to be able to walk flat footed. The therapist, who was very connected with the Orthopedic Hospital, noticed some odd things about Brother Bear's reflexes. She suggested that these things might suggest a neurological component to our problem.

At our next checkup, our orthopedic surgeon agreed to a neurological work up. The neurologist became our close friend over the next year. He said that we needed to "retrain his brain." We put Brother Bear in cast for 4 weeks. He gained some elasticity, but the neurological symptoms only increased. The neurologist suggested more testing. We had an MRI that found "a spot" on his brain. It might explain the problem. We continued our effort to "retrain the brain" by having AFO Braces made for Brother Bear, and having him wear them six hours every day.

Another MRI, a genetic test, and 9 months later, we are back where we started. Brother Bear (when he's out of his braces) still walks on his toes, and we still don't know why. They call it "Idiopathic Toe Walking". (Funny - My Daddy Bear {a retired physician} asked me if I knew what "idiopathic" meant. He said "idio" means, "I don't know" and "pathic" means "why the hell" Ha!).

Basically, Brother Bear walks on his toes and no one has a text book reason why. Unfortunately, we just can't keep letting him walk like this.

So, Tuesday morning, we will check him into the Orthopedic Hospital where a very seasoned, very capable Doctor Bear will perform a Bilateral Sliding Heel Cord Lengthening Surgery. Basically, the Doctor Bear will make small incisions in 3 places in both of Brother Bear's Achilles heels. Doing so will allow the muscle to "give" enough to stretch Brother Bear's feet into dorsiflexion (toes to shins). The Doctor Bear will then put hard "walking casts" on Brother Bear's feet while in dorsiflexion. He will be in these casts for 4-6 weeks. The theory is, that this "extra length" (and time in casts) will allow Brother Bear the ability to walk flat footed.

As you see from my writing, we didn't come to this decision lightly (quickly, or easily!!). Papa Bear and I did not want this surgery. It's painful and the entire recovery is about 6 months. Neither of us wanted to inflict this on Brother Bear. But, after many consultations, and many prayers, we feel confident that we are making the right decision for our cub.

So, tomorrow, I send my my cub into surgery. A piece of his innocence will be lost in this process and, as his Mama Bear, I mourn that. I will be brave. But he will be braver.

Until then, we sent him to school for the first time in over a year without his braces. He was ecstatic! Papa Bear and I both figured that one day without braces wouldn't hurt.

Plus, we gave him one last day to just "let him be". To let him know that nothing, absolutely nothing is wrong with him.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nothing says, "stress relief" like:

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies!

I was watching another bear cub, and decided to use her as a decoy for my sweet tooth. Mwah ha haa! I'm so sneaky. (In my defense, I did offer her two options: 1) beauty salon or 2) baking cookies). (In her defense, WHO in their right mind would choose beauty shop over cookies??)

They are the perfect mix of salty and sweet. Mmmmmm....

Because I love you Cyber Bears (and I can see some of you licking your screens), here's the recipe:

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

1 - 16 oz pckg. semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup cream peanut butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
6 oz. milk chocolate chips
6 oz. peanut butter chips

Place semisweet chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler over hot, not simmering, water. Melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove the top part of the double boiler from the bottom. Set aside to cool to room temp. In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugars. Add butter and beat until well combined. Add peanut butter and beat until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until just combined. Add flour mixture, milk chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Beat until no streaks of flour are visible. Pour in melted chocolate; mix until marbled. Drop dough in 3 TBS mounds, 2" apart on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 15-18 minutes at 325F or until just set but still soft. Cool on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire rack. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Perhaps my metabolism isn't the only problem....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Sugar Bear has learned a new word:


Need I say more?

Monday, February 1, 2010


My bear cubs aren't the best eaters. Well - what they like, they eat a lot of. I mean, if I served up pizza, hot dogs, french fries and pudding every day - they'd be great eaters.

But, alas, I try to throw in a few healthy options here and there. Thus, my bear cubs aren't the best eaters.

One breakfast food we've settled on as both delicious to them and nutritious enough for me to not feel horrifically guilty serving it to them is Eggo Nutrigrain Blueberry Waffles (no payments/endorsements/under-the-table deals were made here. I'm just a Mama Bear telling you what we eat). Sugar Bear wakes up, rubs the sleep from her eyes and says, "Wah-FUU!". Brother Bear cleans his breakfast plate in mere seconds. Now, this may have a wee bit more to do with the very unhealthy amounts of gooey syrup that adorn these oh-so-healthy waffles, but we're not talking about that. We're talking about a semi-healthy, no bear cub complaining, Mama Bear can drink her coffee in peace kinda breakfast here.

So, needless to say, we buy ALOT of waffles for our den. We DO NOT run out of waffles. The world turns upside down, heads spin, and bear cubs say ugly things if we run out of waffles. Every week during my weekly grocery run, I consistently by 2 boxes of these suckers. It's like clockwork - my cart just glides down the aisle. I don't even have to look. I could be blindfolded and I would be able to get down the aisle, open the freezer case, and grab my 2 boxes of waffles.

That is, until recently.

A month or so ago I went to buy our "healthy" waffles, and they weren't there.


Now, I was shopping at a different location than my normal location (same store), so I thought, "Oh, they just don't have any because I don't shop here every week and they don't know to ALWAYS have 2 boxes of healthy waffles each week for me." We made do that week, and I returned to my regular store. I was certain we could restock our precious breakfast treats and then all would be right with the world again.

No go.

My normal store didn't have them. I thought maybe they'd done the whole "switch things around so you'll buy more stuff" trick. Nope. Everything else was in its normal place. They were just running suspiciously low on one brand of waffles.

And then I noticed the sign.

"Dear customers, due to a manufacturing shortage, we are experiencing a delay in our waffle inventory. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and hope to rectify the problem as soon as possible"*

I started to sweat. Profusely.

Manufacturing shortage? Really? What could they be short of - fake blueberries? How hard are those to come by??? What in the WORLD could be the hold up?

In an extreme moment of panic, I decided to try the organic, whole wheat flaxseed waffles as a short term replacement. You can only imagine how that went over. NO AMOUNT of sugary syrup could cover up the delicious taste of flaxseed.

Do these people know what they are doing to my life? Breakfast now consists of, "Sweetie, would you like some eggs? Okay, how 'bout some oatmeal? Oookay, what about a steamin' bowl of cream of wheat? Now..calm down..calm down, I'll get that bowl of sugar topped sugar for you just as quickly as I can!!"

Even worse, I feel like I've become a junkie. Each week, I run straight to the freezer aisle, open the door and start throwing waffle boxes around in hopes that there might be just one little box left. I'm left jonesin' on the corner waiting for the next Eggo truck to arrive.

A month later, and the cravings haven't gone away. We're making do, but barely. It's a day by day survival kinda thing. I never thought it would come to this for me. I've sunk to a new low.

I hear they have an experimental treatment program at Betty Ford. I'll let you know how it goes.

Kinda gives a whole new meaning to "Leggo my Eggo", doesn't it?

*quoted as best as my panicked brain could remember