Archive for December, 2011

Cruddy Pictures By Doni

December 3, 2011

Recently my friend Erin sent me a link to “Crappy Pictures” – an illustrated blog by an overworked mama.  I decided to try my hand at it.  I am an inspirational artist and my stick figuring is downright award worthy so I thought I was plenty qualified.  My daughter supplies the grand majority of my writing material so with Justin Beaver playing in the background, a baby on my lap, and a graphic pen in my hand…off I went.

One fine morning my daughter Tori decided to help her brother Tanner take out the trash.  While doing so, she removed the black mascara from the trash and proceeded to paint it upon her BRAND NEW purple dress.  I was angry.  I sent her to her room.  Her room was under construction so I had to change my plan and send her to Troy’s room.

While in Troy’s room, she decided to hang from the curtain rod thus bending it in half.  Jim had just replaced that curtain rod not days before (because this was not a first offense).  Jim was angry.

When I released her from confinement, I invited her to join me for lunch.  She then spilled a can of Dr. Pepper all over me.

Then she noticed the green cup in my hand.

Tori:  Mommy the marker didn’t come off your cup.

Me:  No Tori it did not.  I washed it in the dishwasher and by hand and as I have told you – PERMANENT MARKER IS PERMANENT!!!!!

Tori:  Well.  I guess you will have to drink it with blue pen on it then.


Writer, Illustrator, and Mother to the Menance:  Doni Brinkman




December 3, 2011

“Mighty”.  That is Aunt Heidi’s definition of our girl.  Tiny but MIGHTY.  She is awfully big on the inside.  :)

Where to even begin?  Oh my she entertains me.  Let’s start with Justin and Jessica.

As you know, “Justin Beaver” and “Jessica” are Tori’s imaginary friends.  I downloaded my first ever Justin Bieber tune this month because Tori begged me.  Her favorite song is Baby and we listen to it over and over and over and over.  I am not allowed to sing it though.  She asks me to please stop singing so that she can sing it by herself.  Her little face is so serious as she sings it to and it just cracks me up every time.  It was well worth the .99 cents just for that.   Somehow, she managed to find JB interviews on the Kid You Tube (via Kidzui) and she watches though repeatedly too.  I would love to tell you about Jessica but I have never met her.  Mysteriously, I always just miss her.  :)   Tori is pretty funny with this.  Apparently she doesn’t want to face the imaginary part so she just makes up excuses.  “She will be here in five more minutes”.  “She came last night and left before you woke up.”   “Jessica can’t come over because Troy is shy of her.”  Ty and I have really tried to meet Jessica but Tori won’t have it.

Tori:  Mom can I have a strawberry?

Me:  Sure

Tori:  I need one more for Jessica.  And one more for Justin Beaver.  They are coming over.

Smart girl.


Tori:  Mom can Justin Beaver sit in the back seat the next time we go somewhere?

Me:  I don’t know.  I don’t know Justin Beaver.

Tori:  He is my friend!

Me:  I know he is your friend but I don’t know him.

Tori:  Duh!  (In her teenager voice)


Tori:  Mom are we going to start school soon?

Me:  Yes when I am done with breakfast.

Tori:  Okay good.  I have time to go listen to one more song.  (Baby)


Don’t you just love it when your day is relegated to settling disputes about people who don’t even exist?

Ty:  Mom Tori is saying we are mean.

Me:  Boys be nice and kind to your sister and Tori talk nice.

Tanner:  Mom we just told her that Justin and Jessica can’t come over right now because we have to clean.


Ty:  Mom should Jessica and Justin come over right now or not because we are working?

Really?  I just stood there awe struck.  As if I don’t have enough to settle in a day.


One day this week Jim was telling me about a guy at work who was teasing him about his leather jacket claiming it had an 80’s feel to it.  No sooner did he say this that Tori comes into the room and upon seeing her dad in his leather jacket says “Ha Ha!  Your Justin Beaver!”

I laughed really hard.  Tori and I are both so glad that Daddy has a Justin Beaver jacket.  He is so cool and so hot.  My JB not Tori’s.  😉


One day I took her shopping with me and was silly enough to give her a cart.  She managed it well considering.  I expected to have to guide the cart since my Gidget can’t see well pushing it but dumb me didn’t count on her doing her own shopping.  I glanced back to see her putting ice cream cones in her own cart.  Ooops.   A lady walking by saw this and said “By the time she is old enough to help you she will no longer want to.”  LOL.  I bet that was experiencing talking.


Setting:  I am putting kids to bed and Ty doesn’t want to go so he says….

Ty: BBBbbbbbbbbbuuuuuuuutttttttt……

Me:  Ty you need to think about what you express next and make sure it’s kind.

Tori:  I am thinking I will be quiet and stay up.

I give her “that” look.

Tori:  I was just making a little joke.


One morning I was reading the kids the story of Jesus and his disciples on the boat during the storm.  I ask them why Jesus was sleeping when the disciples were so scared.

Ty:  Because he was tired.

Doni: LOL.  Okay.  Maybe.  But all the other guys were really really scared and Jesus was just sleeping.  Why wasn’t he scared?

Tori:  Because he was asleep!

Duh.  I guess I was asking really dumb questions.  Hee hee.


Tori (to Ty):  “I am older so I am the boss of you.”


Tori (to Troy):  Good morning little guy.  Good morning Chunchine.


Tori (to Troy) after growling like a bear:  (He cries his scared cry).  Troy what is the matter with you?  I only scared you a little bit!


Tori (to Ty when he was playing a video game):  Ty!  Go back to the main menu and put a shirt on your guy!  That is disgusting!!!


Last week she was helping me do laundry and I caught her in the laundry room cleaning the lint screen.  “This needs to be cleaned every time” she says.   How did she even reach it?


Tori asked me a question about why something was happening.  I say “well I think that is happening because….” and I launch my explanation.  When I am done, she says “I think not.  Actually I think….”   LOL


“And if I don’t, then what will happen?”

She had to ask didn’t she?


“Ty is my best friend AND my sister!”  – Tori


She wanted to dress for outdoor play and was wearing a nice dress.  I told her no and suggested jeans.  She grabbed the jeans but then changed her mind to a different dress.  Then she changed her mind back to the jeans.  Then she started to change her mind again but stopped herself and said “Uh actually I don’t.  I don’t want to change my mind again.”   LOL


Me:  I am going to the store.

Tori:  Can I go with you?

Me:  No.  Not this time.

Cry cry cry.  Whine.  Repeat petition.  Repeat this cycle.  I stick to my “NO”.

I shut the front door and lock it with her crying on the other side of the door.  She pulls herself together to say one last thing to me.

Tori.  OKAY!!!  I think I am just going to stay at home with Daddy!

When the inevitable occurred, she pulled the old boot straps up and insisted the final decision was hers.  Figures.


The other morning Tori was concerned that I had dropped my contacts into the sink and they had hardened.  I told her they were old and that I did that on purpose.

Tori:  Well if we put some water on them, they’ll get soft again.

Me:  No that won’t work.

Tori:  It might.

Me:  No Tori that isn’t going to work and I was throwing them away anyhow.

Tori:  It might.

Me:  I am telling you Tori – that is NOT going to work.

Tori:  It might.

Tori:  It did.

And it did.  They do soften right back up.  Guess I should have been more specific about what wouldn’t work.  She is amazingly persistent.


Heidi was over this week and I was baking homemade rolls.  I was telling Heidi how much I love to knead bread.  This led to a lengthy discussion on how that was probably instilled in me by my own mother who always raved about the wonder of kneading bread.  How good the warm dough felt on your hands to knead, the smell of baking it,  the joy of eating it fresh baked.  I told her that when I was young, I used to knead my play dough and make bread loaves.  Was I born to be a domestic Queen or what?  LOL.  Anyhow, this discussion encouraged me to invite Tori to join me.  I gave her a small piece to knead and told her to copy what I was doing.  I tried to repeat things to her that my mother had said to me about baking bread (all the while making eye contact with Heidi because now her and I will be watching to see if this nurturing will pay off in 15 years).  After kneading a little bit, she looks up at me and says “Let’s trade” (her tiny piece of dough for my loaf).  LOL.  She isn’t the type to settle for the small stuff.  She wanted the real deal.   It’s going to work.  I can feel it.  Another generation of bakers to come…


I don’t know how long it will take me to be “over” Scope Day and Tori is showing evidence that she isn’t quite over it either.  We were taking a shower and she was washing the soap out herself.  I told her she did such a good job that I could probably let her take a shower and wash her hair by herself.  She said “BUT what if there is an emergency?  Then what will happen?”   :)


Tori has struggled to let her pacys (babies) go since Troy came home.  I can’t count how many times I have caught her sneaking them out of Troy’s bed and into hers.  The other night, I was tucking her in and both of our eyes noticed the pacy hidden on her bed.

Me:  Tori.  How did that pacy get in your bed?

Tori:  Uh.  It was in my pink toy box.

Me:  Uh huh.  And how did it get in your bed?

Tori:  Well maybe when it was really really dark it just came this way.

Tanner:  So your saying the pacy just got up and crawled out of your toy box and into your bed?????

She then gives us the blank stare and holds to her legal rights to remain silent without representation present.  Smart girl.


Jim and I have both noticed that Tori has been needing mommy more lately.  She isn’t obviously jealous of the baby because she loves him so much but she is expressing a need to spend more alone time with me.  I decided to take her out for a date to give her uninterrupted time with mom.  We had a fabulous time.  She was dressed to the 9s and had her hair in waterfall braids (which fell out – those don’t stay in well) and had her high healed black boots on (which she received about a million comments on in the mall).  We went to Toys R Us, Babies R Us, the Coffee and Tea place (and The Winter Wonderland Tea Latte was like Christmas in a cup!), the Mall, Red Robin for dinner, and then to see The Muppet Movie.  While at the mall I told her I was going to buy a coke and that I would share it with her.  She said “How about I share mine with you?”  Semantics but important ones.  LOL.   While watching the movie, she kept kissing me and hugging me and said “You have popcorn breath”.  She must have liked popcorn breath.  I bought her some lipgloss in the mall and halfway through the movie she asked if we could go out to the car to get it because hers was wearing off.  And just like mommy, she had to go potty FOUR TIMES.  God gave her my bladder size…(and a love for drinking large quantities at a time – bad combo).    I am so thankful we had this time together.  We both needed it and I look forward to a lifetime of these opportunities with my girl.    She has so richly blessed my life and I feel so blessed to get to be her mom.


A couple of weeks ago, Tori and I were having bath time and we got to chatting like we usually do.  Out of the blue she says “Mommy what if God gave us the wrong baby?  Then what would we do?”  I tell her that God wouldn’t give us the wrong baby and she returns “But YOU SAID you were scared about getting the wrong baby!”

Insert explanation here.  :)   Earlier in the week we had been talking about prayer and I had told the kids about how Daddy and I were considering adopting a different baby but we prayed and asked God to show us OUR baby because we wanted the baby God would pick and that He answered our prayers and that we KNEW that God picked Troy for us.

So I tell her that we didn’t have to worry about that because I knew God picked Troy for us and that He wouldn’t give us the wrong baby.  This led to a discussion about adoption and for the first time I told Tori her story in more detail than we had ever discussed before.  Her story is more difficult because of the closed adoption.  She doesn’t have the opportunity to understand things from her birthparents point of view.  Because of this, at one point she asked me “But WHY did she do that?”.   That was difficult because I can’t adequately answer a question like that.  I had to just explain that her birthmom was in a life situation that didn’t allow her to parent anymore babies.  I also explained that from the moment of her conception, God’s plan for her was that I would be her mommy and that she would be my daughter.  There was never another plan for her life.  God’s plan for her allowed her to grow in another woman’s womb but she was always going to be in THIS family.  She seemed to reconcile to that very well and made it evident when she then looked at her baby brother (who was bathing with us) and said “Troy we got you in the hospital” (and she goes on with his story) and then says to me “Look Mom!  He is looking at me while I am telling him his story!”.  She ends with “And God gave you to Daddy and Mommy and Tanner and Ty and ME!”

At three, I think she understood all that pretty well.


She is rather “Mighty” isn’t she?





First Christmas

December 2, 2011

Isn’t he delicious? I am going to look back on this picture in years to come and think  “oh what I wouldn’t give to hold him that size again”!

There is something so special about a baby’s first Christmas.  The kids and I have really been looking forward to the season and celebrating it with our new addition.

Troy is 5 months actual and 3 month corrected now.  As you can see in the pictures, he is making progress with neck strength and tummy time.  Still a bit of a struggle for him but better than it was.   I think he is coming along nicely in terms of development.

*  On November 5th, he learned to blow rasberries.

*  He has found his toes.  (You will see him trying to get his feet to his mouth in a picture below).

*  He learned to roll over BOTH directions on the same day (Nov 27th).  He is not yet a pro but we have seen him go both directions several times now.  He has also managed to turn over to his belly in his bouncer.  I was taking a bath and had his bouncer facing the tub.  When I got out, I was getting ready behind him.  He didn’t like not seeing me so he turned himself over to find me.

*  He wants everything in his mouth.  If nothing is available, he eats both fists together.  It’s really cute.

*  He LOVES swaddle time and often won’t calm down for sleep until he has been swaddled.

*  His giggle is adorable and I love his huge face splitting grin.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to capture it on film yet because he wants to smile and interact with mama and not my camera so the minute my camera is in hand, all his grins fly out the window.  Eventually I’ll get it…

*  We gave him a bit of cereal one evening and I thought he took to it better than our other kids did by far.  I didn’t get too far with it though because he was too hungry and was furious waiting between bites so I’ll have to try this again.  The reason I let him try in the first place is because he is so interested in MY food.  He tries his best to get to my drink and cup every day.

Troy is a happy baby – until he isn’t.  LOL.   He is, by far, my most expressive baby to date.  You always hear people talk about the distinctive cries of babies and I have never really noticed such distinction with the other three but Troy’s are particularly distinct.  A pain cry (even with the other 3) is always obvious but Troy has a lonely, angry, hungry, hurt, and tired cry.  My gut tells me that this child will tell me exactly how he feels and what he thinks.  He already does.  :)

He weighed just over 14 pounds at his last appointment two weeks ago and is in the 25% for his weight (which is fantastic because preemie’s aren’t usually on the chart at all for awhile).  That is 25% for his FIVE month age to.  He would rate much higher for his 3 month real age.

You might remember back when I posted on Tori’s eventful Scope day, that I had been distracted that morning due to making Dr. appointments for Troy?

The first issue was the head shape and I already posted about the Torticollis and DOS Band.  The second issue was the continued spitting up even on thickened formula and prevacid.  I ended up taking him to a GI Specialist and we both agreed that we would do nothing more for now because ultimately this issue should solve itself and he IS gaining weight (which is the important part).

The third was that the NP was concerned that Troy’s fontanelle was closing prematurely.  Add that to concern about headshape and she wanted to rule out a neurological reason so I have an appointment scheduled with a Neuro Developmentalist on Monday.  The pediatrician said the fontanelle was pea sized but FINE because he sees that in babies all the time.  (Was also worried that a closing fontanelle would narrow the window for the DOS band but the pediatrician doesn’t think that will be an issue at this point).  The NP at the apnea clinic also wanted a developmental evaluation done due to his prematurity.  I WAS feeling really good about that because he seems to be coming along nicely – especially for a 3 month corrected age….BUT…..

The fourth issue now enters…

Yesterday I had to take Troy to PCH for his DOS Band pictures and for his repeat Modified Barium Swallow Study.  If you recall, when we did his study in August, they put him on nectar consistency and were concerned about his aspirating.   Because I scheduled these two appointments back to back, I didn’t do the math very well and by the time of the MBS Troy had not eaten for five hours (he had to be NPO for 3 for the study).  Not fun.

His swallow study was pretty much a train wreck.  They said he was still disorganized in his swallowing and was aspirating a lot on thin liquid.  He didn’t aspirate as much on 1/2 nectar but still needed nectar to be out of the aspirating risk.  Further, they noted he was very disorganized in his sucking as well.  I have noticed this myself.  Feeding my munchkin is very frustrating.  Sometimes he is golden.  Sometimes he can’t get anything up (and I only use ONE nipple ALL THE TIME).  Sometimes he won’t latch on to the nipple and I have to hold his cheeks to get him to latch.  Sometimes he floods and I have to regulate him.

I haven’t been worried about this (only aggravated) because he has been gaining weight but at the study I realized that I should have been concerned for two reasons.  In the first place, I have had him on 1/2 nectar for quite some time.  Don’t ask me how the wired got crossed on that one because I still can’t figure out how I messed that equation up.  From the study we saw that he does aspirate on 1/2 nectar.   In the second place, during the study we noticed that he was aspirating without any visual sign (silent aspiration).  The speech therapist commented in a bit of alarm saying that from what she just saw happen on the XRay he SHOULD have been coughing and sputtering and he wasn’t.

She was concerned about the whole thing an is questioning whether there is a neurological issue involved because she thought at this age, he should not be doing this right now and that prematurity shouldn’t be the cause of disorganization of swallow AND suck.  Not what I wanted to hear.  Thankfully, I already had the neuro appointment scheduled for Monday.  Additionally, she wants him to get a feeding evaluation done and then 12 weeks of feeding therapy.    You can imagine how I am feeling about that prospect.

To make my day all the better (sorry – I am getting whiny again – it is the cold talking)…

The speech therapist accidentally threw my ONE AND ONLY nipple in the trash.  She was not alarmed because she wanted to switch my nipples anyhow.  I was terrified.  At that point that baby had not eaten in six hours AND the formula in my bag was prepared as 1/2 nectar and the nipples she was giving me were for full nectar.  I asked her to stay and watch me feed him and told her that the barium does NOT come through the nipple the way the formula/oatmeal combo does.  She declined because she was too far behind.

I went down to the cafeteria to feed him before a 45 minute drive home and – just as I suspected – Troy couldn’t get even the 1/2 nectar through the nipple she insisted would work much less the full nectar.  In tears I called Jim.  He wanted me to march right back up there and make them help me with a solution but the speech therapist had gone on to other rounds by that time so there was nothing to be done for it.  Had the baby been screaming, I might have further insisted but he was so worn out from the day that he fell asleep.  Jim needed to be back at work but I had to tell him that he wasn’t going ANYWHERE until he helped me find a solution to feed our child.   Seven hours from the last bottle, poor Troy finally was fed.  Jim had to drill a hole in the nipple again to feed him.  And yes, we do realize that this introduces the aspiration risk right back into the equation but hydrating Troy trumps everything else so it is what it is until we get a feeding eval done.

I talked to the Apnea Clinic nurse about all this (I have another appointment with them Monday too) and she told me that if we couldn’t find a working solution that allowed Troy to eat FULL nectar through a nipple that we may have to look at putting an NG tube down him because the risk of aspiration causing lung damage and pneumonia is just too great.    AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  (And by the way, did I ever mention that Troy had an apnea event at 6:30 AM on Nov 12th?  Will find out if it was “real” Monday but if it was, the monitor clock starts over as of the 12th).

Raising preemies is not for the faint hearted I tell you.

But to cheer us all back up…want to see more pictures of my beautiful boy?

It’s hard to tell in these pictures but Troy’s eyes are still grey.  They remind me of a grey marble.





December 2, 2011

Verdict in and mama was right.  Troy does have Torticollis.  I mentioned all this in an earlier post called “Pain In the Neck” but I will revisit and tell you where we are at with it.

Over the last couple of months we have noticed the shape of Troy’s head changing.  It was flattening in the back, and growing asymmetrically through the front.  Often times people jump to the conclusion that when a baby gets a flat head, it is because they are not held enough.  Not a correct assessment.  This can happen if a baby is laying on his back all the time BUT there are other reasons why it can happen as well.  Here are a few:

*  Babies who are premature (their heads are still very soft and mold easily)

*  NICU babies

*  Torticollis (a genetic condition or birth injury causing one side of the neck muscle to be shorter which causes baby to tilt head)

*  Babies who sleep on their back (Hello.  With the “Back to Sleep” campaign what baby doesn’t?)

Troy was affected by all of the above.  Actually so was Ty.  Instead of having a brachycephaly/plagiocephaly combo like Troy, Ty has scaphocephaly which is very common in micro preemies.  It is from their constant rotation in a NICU with a VERY premature head.  They end up with a toaster shape.  Ty’s isn’t that noticeable seven years later but I wish I would have known I could have done something about it back then.

If you look in the pictures above you will notice:

*  The back of his head is flat

*  His overall shape is round when it should be oval

*  It is a little assymetical

*  It is taller in the back and slopes down

You will also notice in the front shots, the slight tilt to his right as well as cradle cap that has been coming back over and over (sorry for that – didn’t want to take the time to process it out).

Technically speaking, this is a cosmetic issue that doesn’t “need” to be fixed but the fact of the matter is, Jim and I have insurance that will help pay the cost and we think helping his head shape along is just the right thing to do.  Kids don’t “need” braces either but sometimes it is what we want to do for them.  Besides that, Troy wasn’t born with this shape.  It developed due to his prematurity and torticollis.

I am posting these quick shots I took this morning on my blog because I want us to have something to compare to when he is finished with treatment.  Because he is 5 months but a corrected 3 months, he should only be in treatment for 5 to 8 weeks.  He is still young enough that his head shape will change fast.

We are taking him to Cranial Technologies at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.  Next Thursday he will be getting his DOC Band (Dynamic Orthotic Cranioplasty) which he will be required to wear for 23 hours a day for the next 5 to 8 weeks.  Basically, it holds the head in some areas where allowing other areas to “fill in”.  It is amazing technology.  Their 360 degree camera that captured his head on film yesterday was amazing all by itself.  It takes a 3D shot of his head within millimeters of accuracy.  From there they make this 3D Foam of his head and each week we will get to compare his head to the foam to see how the changes are developing.    We have to go down to PCH every week to have the inside of the band shaved to accommodate the new growth.

The Cranial Tech website has some intersting before and after shots if you are interested.

We also have to do neck exercises for his Torticollis five times a day for the next TWO YEARS.   If we don’t see progress, he will have to start physical therapy.  Insert big long sigh here.

I am not super excited about my baby having to wear the dang band for a couple of months but, it’s the right thing to do I think.  They say we should see some changes in the first week even because he is so young.

So that is that.


Gotcha Day

December 2, 2011

Saturday, November 19th was National Adoption Day and on that day, Troy was one of 300 children in our state FORMALLY and FOREVERMORE adopted!   Yeah!!!!!!  Everything is all finalized and completely done with now.  He is a BRINKMAN forever.   There was standing room only in the court room.  Attendees were:  Jim, Doni, Tanner, Ty, Tori, Troy, Grandma, Grandpa, Papa, Sweetie, Aunt Barb, Daniel, Brooke, Noah, Graham, Braxtyn, Cozy, Quinn, Aimee, Zandi, Zane, Darin, Jodi, Karsyn, Ryker, Cooper, Dusty,  Aunt Beck, Uncle Dave, Jenna, Jarrod, Shane, Heidi and Seth for a grand total of 34 of us.  Thank you so much to our family for participating in this awesome day with us.  It was so special.  We started off the morning eating at The Morning Glory Cafe at The Farm at South Mountain.  (I love their fried potatoes and French Toast Monte Cristo) then headed off to the court house for our 12:30 hearing.

The next day we had Troy’s Shower and Dedication at Church.   Would you believe I forgot my camera for the festivities?  Pictures above taken by Grandma on her camera.

Jodi and Belinda did a beautiful job decorating for Troy’s shower.  THANK YOU for that ladies!!!  Love you!

It was a wonderful “Troy” weekend!