Saturday, November 30, 2013

Henry's Trip to the Hospital: Day One

We woke up extra-early on Black Friday morning (4:30 a.m., to be exact), but not for the usual reason. Our appointment at Good Samaritan Hospital was at 6:45 a.m., and we didn't want to be late. I've heard of Black Friday traffic jams, and we weren't taking any chances.

There were no traffic jams, and Henry was at the hospital and ready in plenty of time. They couldn't find a hospital gown small enough to fit him, so we had to make do with this green one. The red socks he's wearing were about five sizes too big as well.

While we waited for the doctor, Henry practiced using the pulse-ox meter on his penguin, "Einstein." Being two-years-old, he didn't understand what was going to happen and wasn't scared at all. Thankfully, this hospital makes sure the kids are asleep before they start an IV or do anything invasive. As they wheeled him away, I don't think he even minded leaving us.

I cannot remember the last time I felt as scared as I did during the two hours of Henry's surgery. I don't think I took a full breath until the doctor came in to tell us that the procedure was a complete success. Waking up from the anesthesia was really hard for Henry, and they called us back as soon as he was conscious. In recovery and for several hours afterwards, Henry vacillated between screaming while trying to tear out his IV and snuggling with one of us in a chair.

Henry's surgery is all internal, on his soft palate, but there are many, many stitches in his mouth, and lots of those stitches pulled together muscles. So unless he's yelling at you and his mouth is open, you can't see the stitches. I promise, though, there's some very intricate needlework on the roof of Henry's mouth.

Henry tried to eat some jello and drink some apple juice, but all of the medications must have given him a tummy ache, because he later got sick. Despite the fact that he only had a few bites, he clutched that bowl of melting jello cubes all evening like it was a security blanket.

I remember from my own hospital stays that having on your own, comfy clothes is better than wearing an ill-fitting hospital gown. The nurses let me put on Henry's polar bear jammies, and I think he felt a little more comfortable. Staying in a hospital room all day can make everyone a little stir crazy, though.

At one point in the evening, Henry felt well enough to take a little walk down the hallway. They have a fish tank, though I think Henry was too out of it to really notice the fish much.

We were supposed to be waving. Henry didn't want to wave. 

One thing I like that hospitals do nowadays is they attach a little GPS bracelet to your child's ankle so that they can't get lost or taken. Henry kept going out of range and setting off all of the alarms. I told Henry that this had better be the only time he ever wears an ankle bracelet to track his movements.  ;)

After Henry got tired, our nurse suggested we push him in the wagon to give him a little change of pace. It really seemed to relax him, and he only got mad when we told him wagon time was almost over.

Henry was able to eat only a few bites of pudding, and then he passed out cold. The dripped pudding looked almost like a handlebar mustache.

Greg left for home, and I stayed with Henry. He slept cuddled in my arms, waking every hour or so either when a nurse came in or when Henry started crying and telling me that his mouth hurt. It was a rough night, but I'm glad I was able to be there with him the whole time.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Henry Update: Surgery on Friday

This morning Greg and I took Henry to the surgeon to see about getting his cleft palate fixed. We were worried about having to wait for a date, and eager to hear what the surgeon would say. Henry was not so eager to be at the doctor's office for a 7:45 a.m. appointment.

Doesn't he look thrilled? 

The good news is that we won't have to wait for a surgery date. Due to an unexpected opening, rather than having to wait two or three months to have this procedure, Henry can have his surgery on Friday. Yup. This Friday.

Poor Henry doesn't know what he's in for on Friday. 

I've spent today in a rush, trying to figure out the logistics of having Henry go into the hospital Friday morning. Thanksgiving dinner is going to be Henry's last meal (at least of solid food) for awhile. Typically, we avoid going out during the morning rush on Black Friday, but this year we will be on our way to the hospital. I am going to be taking a week off from work as Henry heals.

Henry will stay in the hospital Friday night, and, depending on how he handles the pain and how quickly he starts drinking liquids, will get to go home either Saturday or Sunday. The doctor explained the surgery and the liquid diet that Henry will be on afterward as his little mouth heals. It is a very good thing that Henry likes smoothies.

Our surgeon is both a plastic and an oral surgeon, and we've been told he is excellent at this type of surgery. I'm glad that this procedure is being done so quickly, but I am also feeling overwhelmed and more than a little bit emotional. I guess that's pretty normal. Henry is, after all, my baby, and he's only two years old. I think he'll be okay, and I know that this surgery is the best thing for him.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Birthday Planning with Auntie Mandy

This post is about last Saturday, when Auntie Mandy met us at the Hobby Lobby and for lunch to celebrate Nick's birthday.

This is the picture I texted Auntie Mandy to let her know we were excited and waiting for her.

This post is longer than I had intended, but I wrote most of it when I was really sick on Wednesday and needed something to keep my mind off of my stomach. I was sitting in my bed typing this because the boys were eating dinner and even the smell of food made me nauseous.Anyhow, shall we start with the cart? Henry wanted to sit in the big boy section of the cart, and he didn't even mind when we piled up our coats and purses on top of him.

Our goal at the Hobby Lobby was to pick out some sort of decoration for Nick's Birthday Party on Sunday. Auntie Mandy is very creative, so she joined us. However, walking into a Hobby Lobby with Auntie Mandy means that she will leave with a cart full of really cool stuff. Like this DeLorean that Auntie Mandy had to get and Henry wouldn't let go of for our entire shopping trip.

I'm not sure why Henry kept his face on the box. Nick was interested in the DeLorean, too, but we told him it wasn't a real time machine. I'm not sure about why he's so keen on visiting 1955. From what I have heard, Nick wouldn't like it much there. Ahh well, to each his own .

Auntie Mandy helped us pick out some train stencils, stamps, and paint. Later that night, we made our own train decorations for the party, for only a few dollars. I think I like the handmade and child-colored decorations better than store-bought ones.

Nick was proud of the trains he painted. "I made that one and that one!" he announced.

Both Nick and Henry painted the trains that we hung around our house as decorations. I think they turned out pretty well, considering I only supervised the proceedings.

Henry was so excited to paint with big-boy paints. They were acrylic, so there wasn't too much mess.

Well, I guess it depends on how you define a mess. . . 

Let's just say I was able to clean up the mess within about 20 minutes. Not too shabby.

After purchasing our art supplies and decorations, we headed to Flat Top Grill for lunch. The boys love eating there because they get to pick what goes in the stir fry. Auntie Mandy introduced them to the joys of edamame. 

I am constantly surprised at how much food my little boys can eat.

Henry is making that face because he kept trying to eat the pods from the edamame.

They had noodles with all kinds of veggies. I always let them try whatever they want because it's all healthy food, relatively speaking. The boys had noodles with plum sauce, little tiny corn cobs, broccoli, green beans, peppers, mushrooms, and whitefish (tilapia, I think).  It wasn't at all what I would've chosen, but they seemed to love it.

I love stir fry. Perhaps I'll try to eat my leftovers later, if I can keep food down.

After a very hearty lunch, it was time for presents. Auntie Mandy had to work on Sunday, so she couldn't be there for Nick's party. Instead, we had present time in the minivan. For Nick this was especially exciting because Auntie Mandy brought his first birthday presents of the year.

Plus, Auntie Mandy brought a HUGE bag. That means only good things for a little boy.

Auntie Mandy went with a Lego theme, which was very popular with Nick. He loves playing with Legos. His first gift was a Lego Advent Calendar. Now, my family isn't religious at all, but I see nothing wrong with counting down to Christmas with a Lego present for each day in December. Nick thought it was a great idea.

Nick later pointed out that the age says "5-12," and he is now 5. Hurray!

Auntie Mandy didn't stop there. Oh, no, she also got Nick a super-cool Lego firetruck and airplane. Nick was concerned about why both of the firemen had beards.

I think he views a beard as an issue, like a broken arm or a pimple. I'm not sure why. We told him he could grow a beard one day, if he liked, and he was shocked and appalled.

Greg told Nick he'll probably have a heavy beard and lots of hair like his Grandpa Mike. That's because Nick already has more hair on his back than Greg does, and Greg is a practically hairless variety of male. I'm guessing Nick will try a mustache or beard at least once in his life, regardless of what he says now.

Nick asks lots of questions. Auntie Mandy is pretty creative at coming up with answers, even if firefighting is NOT her area of expertise. Though I suppose she'd know more about it than I, since she's in charge of the kitchens and ovens at Panera.

Nick adored his new toys. I let him stay up a little late that night to put together part of his firetruck. He is getting so much better at following the directions. I also do have a bin of Legos for free play, and Henry and Nick play with those together. For the kits like this, though, we can't have Henry around or it will be a Lego free-for-all. Check out Nick following the directions. I've noticed how he always opens his mouth when he's concentrating really hard on something. I find it cute, but then again, I'm his mommy.

Nick even wore his firetruck pajamas in honor of putting together his firetruck. Last Saturday was a good day, but man, was I tired at the end of it.

If he looks a little crazed, it is because he is up an hour after his bedtime on the day before his birthday.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Making of a Turkey, or Why a Five-Year-Old Should Not Use Superglue

Probably because I'm a teacher, I get a kick out of the monthly family homework assignments Nick's preschool teacher sends home. This month, Nick had to cut out a turkey, decorate it, and add feathers. A parent was to write things that the child is thankful for, and then have the child glue on the feathers.

The hardest part, at least at first, was figuring out where Greg put the child-sized scissors. We found them after a long search, next to the vacuum-cleaner attachments.

Phase one worked out great. Nick is a superstar with the scissors, and he cut out his turkey (and feathers) without any help. I had to assist when he traced the pattern for the feathers, but other than that, he did all the work independently. Check out the beak on that bird!

The tricky part came when I went looking for the glue stick I just bought on Saturday. I have glue sticks at home (I'm a teacher, of course I do.) but I could not figure out where my husband had put them, so I bought another one. Just since Saturday, though, I couldn't find the missing glue stick anywhere. I am blessed with a husband who likes to clean, but challenged by the way that he cleans. Things end up in odd places. All I could find (in two separate places) was a bottle of green glitter glue that had dried up, and a tube of Superglue. You know, the kind you should never let children use?

Yup, that's what we used. Oh, and yes, Nick did briefly glue two of his fingers together, as did I. It freaked him out more than it hurt, I think. That, my friends, is why a five-year-old should not use superglue.

Grandma Toni and I were so proud of his final project.

Not too shabby, considering he did all the work himself (except the writing). 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Happy Fifth Birthday, Nicholas!

Today Nick turned five, and his birthday party was today as well. Having a party is exhausting, so I will post some more pictures later this week.

Nicholas was a little unnerved by the fire on top of his cupcake. 

For today, just like last year, I wanted to write a letter for him to read one day. This letter is for Nicholas, but you are welcome to read it as well. I just read my letter to Nick from last year, and I smiled as I remembered the little boy he was and the little boy he is becoming.

Dear Nicholas,

When you woke up this morning, you immediately found your birthday hat from preschool and insisted on wearing it. You were so proud to bring in treat bags for your class last Friday and tell everyone that you were turning five. I can hardly believe it myself. It seems like just yesterday we were taking you home from the hospital, so small that you barely met the weight requirement for your carseat.

We have such interesting conversations lately. Every single question leads to another question, and your favorite word is "Why?" When we went to the grocery store last week, you noticed the emergency trunk release on my car and wanted to know all about it. When I told you it was for in case you get locked in the trunk, you immediately wanted to know why Marty (in the Back to the Future movie) didn't use the emergency release. I had to explain that in 1955, they didn't have trunk releases, and you wanted to know why. You are persistent and stubborn when you want to know something. This conversation about trunks went on for at least a half-hour. I feel like your inquisitiveness helps to increase my patience, and makes me a better person.

Though this year has been challenging for us, we've learned a lot about your Sensory Processing Disorder and how to help you deal with it. I'm proud of how you use a picture schedule on the ipad to stay focused and ask us for a big hug to help keep you regulated. Though you're still not potty-trained, your teacher says you are learning well and participating in class. I was so proud when Miss Patty told us that you already know your letters, colors, and numbers. Your skills are nearly ready for kindergarten, and you and I have been working together on reading and writing together in the evenings, after Henry goes to bed. You open your mouth when you are concentrating hard on something, and sometimes you even stick out your tongue.

You can read about thirty words from word families now, and use your phonics skills to sound out other words, when you are in the mood. The other day we were working on reading your word list of "ot" words, and you correctly read "hot, tot, rot, pot, dot and sot." You asked, "Mommy, what is a sot?" I replied that it is someone who drinks too much wine, and without missing a beat, you immediately turned to your daddy, who was drinking his usual large glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. "Daddy, you are a sot!" you announced, giggling. (I explained, of course, that Daddy only drinks one glass of wine. It was still pretty funny, though.)

Lately you like me to read Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss. You also love books about science, transportation, and Star Wars. Your favorite color is green, and you chose a train theme for your birthday party after our train ride in North Carolina this summer. You love to sing and dance, and in the last few weeks you've danced to the "What Does The Fox Say" song no fewer than forty times. I'm working on teaching you to be helpful, and I love that I can get you to help bring in groceries or pick up wrapping paper from the floor. Yesterday you opened the door for your Auntie Mandy and I like a little gentleman.

You play more with your brother Henry this year, and though you fight with him a lot, you will defend him even when he's done something naughty. I think you understand Henry's speech better than any of us, and you'll often tell us what he's trying to say. You are a very good big brother, despite the constant bruises on both of you. Tonight you were running around the house playing laser tag with Henry, ducking and shooting and shrieking with joy. Then, Daddy and I found you two snuggled up in bed together, well after lights-out.

I feel like time is moving quickly, and I don't want to forget these times with you. I love you very much, and I hope your sixth year of life is full of fun, learning, and perhaps a little more obedience.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

There Was an Old Lady. . .

.  . . No, not me. I'm not that old yet, though one of my students guessed this week that I was sixty. (She was a 1st grader, so I'll forgive her.) Anyhow, I walked downstairs this morning and found Nick sitting with my Shel Silverstein book, adding his own words to the pictures.

We've heard a few different versions of this story, but Nick prefers the original morbid one with the line, "Perhaps she'll die." I'm not sure why. (Why he prefers the dying version, not why the old lady died. It seems rather obvious why the old lady died.)

If you couldn't tell from his storytelling, Nick was turning the pages as he sang, adding new verses based on the pictures in my Shel Silverstein poetry book. This went on for a good half hour. I feel bad for that old lady, now that she's consumed the entire contents of Everything On It. This is Nick's last day of being four, so I guess he thought a song was in order. You can't see from the video clip I posted, but Henry kept coming over to peek whenever Nick would sing something really outrageous. Nick s pretty good at outrageous. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

What did we do with all of those pears?

Remember a few weeks ago, when I took the boys to visit Grandma Linda and Grandpa Ray and we picked many, many pears? I ended up with two plastic grocery bags of pears, and I was rather excited to try out some new recipes. My favorite was the Pear Butter. We all loved it, and we've been eating it on my homemade honey wheat bread.

I didn't use a recipe, exactly. Instead I had three or four recipes pulled up and invented my own, without real measurements. I think my final one ended up most like this recipe. Plenty of tasting ensured a great flavor. I started out with ripe pears like these.

First, I grabbed my biggest pot and put in about 1 1/2 cups of water, a heaping teaspoon of allspice, 1/2 t. of cloves, 1 1/2 T of cinnamon, and 2/3 cup of sugar.

Then, I peeled, cored, and sliced that whole bag of pears. I didn't measure how many pounds or cups I had. I also wasn't perfect about my peeling. Toward the end, I didn't care much about pear peels. This is what it looked like.

This is what my kitchen counter looked like!

I cooked the pears and water/spice mixture until the pears were fairly soft. By this point, the whole house smelled magnificent.

In small batches, I put the softened pears and liquid into my Ninja Food Processor and pureed them.

Finally, I put the pureed mixture back into the pot and simmered it until I liked the consistency (an hour or so?).

I was able to fill several huge jars. I left one in the fridge and froze the other two. I will try real canning next time.

I liked the pear butter so much I'm wishing I had more pears. This stuff is amazing. Henry would eat it straight out of the jar if we let him.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Does The Fox Say?

I had never heard of this song before Saturday, when my friend Trina asked about Nick's fox t-shirt.

Nick's shirt, incidentally, said "Trail Guide," though I think it would've been more culturally apropos with Trina's idea. She asked if it said, "What does the fox say?" like the song. I was immediately obliged to look up the song. Then, my children made me play it and replay it for them as they danced and shrieked with joy.

Witness the joy and exuberance of this dance.

Cute the first time (and even the fifth), but I can't get that damned fox noise out of my head now. When Nick and I did writing time tonight, I let him pick what words to write. Would you believe he chose "fox" and "say." Yup. That's my boy. 

He didn't do too bad a job of copying the words, considering he's still in preschool. Nicholas did sing the song the whole time he was writing, however. 

I'm going to be hearing this song in my dreams, I think. . . .