Friday, September 25, 2009

In the words of Anne of Green Gables, "We must be Kindred Spirits."

I've recently discovered another fun blog, Tatertots and JelloOn first glance, I thought Jennifer must be one of those superwomen who can do anything--with one arm tied behind her back and a baby in the know the kind I'm talking about, the kind that you secretly hate because she can do anything and do it beautifully, efficiently, and her house stays clean the whole time she's doing everything.  (Was that a psycho sentence, or what?)  And she probably is.  But her lates offering shows that she is also a woman after my own heart.  And by that, I mean the woman can fake sew with a glue gun!!!!!  I cannot tell you how many costumes for children I have "sewn", ahem, glued.  But today Jennifer shows all of us how to go beyond that and glue KITCHEN CURTAINS!  Amazing.  Click the pink words to go to her blog or the (did I mention they are burlap? and only cost $20 to make?) curtain tutorial.

Want more?  Click here to take a look at how Jennifer decorated her house for fall.  She SAYS she got everything from the dollar store.  Why don't I find things like this?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fall Garden

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

I am an intermittent gardener. That means I don't spend everyday in the garden. Sometimes I even go weeks without remembering to do anything to my gardens. But when I'm out there, I love it, I really do. I must have Gardener's Attention Deficit Disorder. So I purposely design my gardens to be very forgiving. (The results are disastrous and expensive if I don't.)

So, here are some pics of what my front garden beds do in early fall when just left to their own devices. Note: this requires lots of bark mulch and pulling out the stalk of corn growing randomly near the birdfeeder before taking pictures in order to achieve a similar outcome. Enjoy!

A Call from the School Nurse, cont'd

Okay, so after a full night of sleep (Hunter Puppy didn't wake up even once! He slept through the night!) let me return to the School Nurse story. Where were we? I told all about coumadin, and how crazy things were with the school....okay: basically, things being as they were before school started, they wouldn't even let me meet with the kindergarten teacher before the first day of school. B and I were able to meet with the principal and school nurse the week before school started. I put a lot of effort into making and illustrated handout that detailed all of S's medical issues, explained coumadin and the risk of accidents, went over emergency protocol, and provided every phone number I could. Wheew! I even brought them a stack of red towels to use for nosebleeds or other issues of blood. When B and I met with the school nurse and principal, our goal was to basically scare their socks off so that they would be committed to providing S with adequate supervision. It must have worked, because shortly after our meeting the school board approved the hiring of an additional kindergarten teacher.

But I was still nervous, sending S off to school that first day. I have worked so hard these last few years to keep her healthy and safe and help her to reach her full potential. It was terrifying thinking that a push on the playground could potentially erase all we've achieved in the past five years. So I prayed hard, mustered faith and hope, and put S on the bus that first day. (Then I jumped in my van and raced to the school so I could be there when she got off the bus!)

She looked so small getting off the bus! But she was SO EXCITED to be going to school, "just like E and J." How could I deny her that experience?

Obviously, I couldn't. But that didn't stop me from jumping every single time the phone rang for the first two weeks of school. Then I started to breathe more easily. Yesterday, when the phone rang, I was actually surprised to see the school identified on caller I.D. It was the school nurse. S was having a nosebleed. (My heart jumped up in my throat. S's nosebleeds can be really, really awful.) But it seemed to be stopping. (Really? Already? Yay!) And S had found her red towel herself and let her teacher know she was bleeding. (Good for S!) She should be able to return to class in just a few moments. (Easy as that? No way!)

And that was that. Anti-climatic, eh? Hope it stays that way!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Warning: Excessive Posting Occurring In this Jurisdiction

Yes, I admit it: two posts in a day is a tad excessive. Especially since I went, um, nine months between my first and second posts. But I'm enjoying this! (Hard to tell, right?)

Still haven't figured out the picture downloading stuff, and I don't dare try without supervision of technical wonderboy, B. It drives him nuts that I can't remember how to do this stuff after he shows me once. Good thing I'm around to keep him humble.

Anyway, after my two paragraph non-introduction to this post, let me tell you what I was going to tell you. (Drumroll please.....) I had my first call from the school nurse this year. About S.

Perhaps more explanation is necessary for anyone reading this who doesn't know us well. S's heart functions because of a prosthetic mitral valve that was implanted when she was a baby. (Actually, she's on her second prosthetic valve, the first was replaced last December.) The prosthetic valve functions because S takes a blood thinning medication, coumadin, that prevents blood clots from forming around it. Our blood is designed to clot around foreign objects, but in the case of a heart valve, you don't want a clot to form. So coumadin helps make S's blood extra thin. It also makes our lives very interesting.

Coumadin is notoriously hard to regulate. Many, many factors can change the way it works in the body. So we do regular blood work--usually at home, with our own machine--and I've learned to do the dosing depending on her numbers. S's numbers are all over, mainly because coumadin wasn't designed for children. But it is our only option, so we deal.

Coumadin can also be dangerous. When your blood isn't supposed to clot around an artificial heart valve, it doesn't do such a good job of clotting anyplace else, either. People who take coumadin are at an increased risk for bruising, bleeding, and (worst case) hemorrhage. This means that small injuries could have really, really bad outcomes if we are not completely on the ball. A bump to the head, for instance, could result in brain hemorrhage. Bloody noses can last, literally, for hours. Routine outpatient surgeries turn into multiple week hospitalizations. And minor accidents can cause bruising like this:

That is a picture of S, a week after she pulled a chair over that bumped her in--obviously--the eye. You probably wouldn't believe me if I told you that this occurred in the month of January, and in April of that same year my sis-in-law had to do some creative photoshopping to the SAME bruise so it wouldn't join us in the family portrait.

Above bruise was particularly nasty. We have been very, very blessed that our very active and fearless S has not had many other accidents like that one.

So, back to the school nurse. Imagine what it was like to face sending S to kindergarten this fall. I had been dreading the start of public school for well over two years. I was a little freaked about preschool, last year, but I had lots of confidence in the preschool I picked. The teachers were absolutely wonderful, and she only had eight children in her class. But kindergarten was a different story. Also a longer story. For the sake of brevity, let me just provide you with the barest details: principal resigned shortly before school started, school board thought they might save money by not hiring a replacement, decided to cut a kindergarten class, S was going to be in a class of 27 originally, board rethought previous decisions under pressure and hired a new principal and additional kindergarten teacher two days before school started!!!!!

Hey, I just looked at the clock. It is time to shut down the computer and have some Quality Time with my favorite (and only!) husband. This entry will be continued.......

More on the Puppy

Hunter in my hosta garden.

His name is Hunter. Sounds good with our "H" last name, right? I love how when I think up names for things (babies, fish, dogs, etc.) my children totally back me up. This time, husband B was on board immediately, as well.

When they play outside together, S loves to decorate Hunter with leaves and flowers.

Hunter is a delightful mix of German short-haired pointer, black lab, and quite possibly border collie. You'd never believe it, but he's darling and very mellow. Most of the time. The kids adore him. My husband adores him. I feel too responsible for his health and well-being to be able to adore him. Instead, I cautiously like him. I didn't realize that was how it was, at first. I thought it was buyer's remorse. (Or adopter's remorse, in this case. Although much money has passed from my hands into the hands of new veterinarian and PetSmart employees, to date.) Then, the other day, when the puppy obviously was not digesting his food properly, I found myself unable to call the veterinarian. Why? Because I was convinced that the vet was going to discover our newest family member had some kind of horrible, life-threatening health problem. And then I would have to tell the children. And my husband. And they would be devastated. Me, too.

Sigh. Dramatic, eh? Please don't think I'm a crazy lady who isn't taking care of her dog. I mixed unflavored yogurt into his kibbles. Hunter liked it. He loved it. He wanted more of it! And it actually worked. Puppy diarrhea seems to have passed (pun intended, sorry). And I'm going to take a sample into the vet today just to make sure.

E and Hunter taking a Sunday nap together. Sweet!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Over a Year

Over a year....not since I've posted, although it seems that way. Why the long space between posts? The idea of writing about my experiences in the aftermath of L's death seemed healing, at the time I created this blog. But, not long after I completed my first post, I immersed myself into "moving on" activities. I've been incredibly busy with them. And I've enjoyed being busy with them. Being busy gave me less chance for introspection, grieving, etc., etc. And I don't regret that. But now it is time for something else.

It has been over a year since my little L died. I was surprised (guiltily so) when the first anniversary of her death arrived and I didn't realize what day it was....until my sister called and asked with concern, "How are you?" It finally dawned on me why she was so concerned.....and I felt oddly relieved. Relieved that I hadn't spent the morning wallowing in despair. Relieved that the day could come and go so unobtrusively. Relieved to find that it was the anniversary of her birthday, not her deathday, that was a difficult day for me.

I look back on the past year with a sense of wonder: how easy it was to replace the hours and hours of caregiving to one child with other activities. It has been a delight to become an active participant in my other children's world of school and activities. My husband was long-overdue for attention, which I have enjoyed giving. I'm spending more time on me, too: exercising, applying to nursing school, learning new skills. Sometimes I wonder if that part of my life--the part where I was consumed with keeping that baby alive as long as possible--really happened. There are days when it is hard to remember.

It has been over a year since my other children, hours after their sister's death, reminded my husband and I of our promised to get a family dog "when everyone is potty trained." In the words of my then 7 year old son, "Now everyone is potty trained." It wasn't insensitive, it was just their innocent way of seeking reassurance that good things would come of such a tragic event. I brought the dog home a few days ago, finally making good on our promise. A 4 month old puppy, from a shelter, full of energy and needs. I find myself organizing my day around his needs and directing the rest of the family to change their habits and behaviors to meet his needs, too. The task comes easily to me, it's a role I've practiced over and over. Just never before with a puppy in the starring role.
Today, S had an appointment with her cardiologist. The tech who usually does her echo was gone for the day, so we had a different technician. She was very nice. We were talking as she made the images of Sariah's heart, when she casually asked me, "How many children do you have?"

"Four," I replied. Because I do have four children. I gave birth to four. I'll see L again someday. She is still part of our family. She is just a part that isn't readily apparent to strangers.