Saturday, March 29, 2008

We have too much crap

This is a revelation, I know. A house of 5 people, 3 of which are under 9, and we *gasp* have a lot of stuff. Most of the time, I am able to hide this fact by excellent use of drawers, closets, and strategically placed furniture. Every house has a junk drawer. We have a junk drawer, a junk desk, and a junk closet. And I would be perfectly content to leave things as they are, if it weren't for one thing: we're a month. Now, seeing as how I enjoy my sanity and it is slowly slipping away from me day by day, I choose NOT to have it completely swept away by trying to pack up 4 1/2 years worth of stuff in one weekend, ironically enough 2 days after I have my last of three finals. That might see me curled up in a fetal position, whispering,"Just burn it all, and collect the insurance."
So, I have been packing up things here & there, mostly in Emma's room, due to the fact that THAT room has the highest concentration of crap in the entire house. I swore to myself that I was going to get rid of at least 1/3 of the stuff that she has in her room. Garage sale, Salvation Army, trash can, I don't care how it leaves our house, it's going to be GONE. At first Emma was reluctant but I have pulled out the old stand-by,"If you get rid of stuff you don't NEED, you have more room for stuff you WANT." Yes, that works on 30 year olds as well as 8 year olds. And she earns an allowance now, so she can buy whatever she can afford. Which, on $3 a week, isn't much. Which is a good thing.
A couple weeks ago, I packed away 90% of her books, leaving out only a handful for her & the littler ones. I went through Sarah & Katie's closet last weekend, and combined with a little bit more in Emma's room today, and now I have a big pile of stuff for a garage sale. Along with 3 garbage bags full of trash.
Why not just hire a moving company to come do all this hard, back-breaking work for me, you ask? Because I'm cheap, people. We're not rich, by any stretch of the imagination, and moving costs moo-lah. Even when you're only moving 1/2 mile down the road. So, our plan is to pack all the little stuff up ourselves, and then get someone to either help us, or just have them move all the big stuff. We have a whole month, due to the end of our lease not being until May 31st, to be out of this place. So, we're supposed to close on the new house on May 1st, which will hopefully give up plenty of time to move in, get this place cleaned up & ready so we can be out by the 31st. Never mind that Jeff is leaving for a week in the middle of that. At least finals will be over, and the weather will be nice. So, anyone up for a road trip to help us move?? :D

Friday, March 28, 2008

Too Many Friends

I have way too many online friends. :) Not that that's a bad thing, but when I'm trying to keep up with everyone's blogs and read them each day, it just takes up too much of my already limited time. So, Jeff turned me on to this RSS reader, which checks the blogs & other websites I put on there for new stuff and then brings it all into 1 window. SUCH a time saver, because I don't always have time to click each blog I have on my favorites individually, and I sometimes go weeks without checking some. The one we use is "NetNewsWire" but I know there are a wealth of RSS feed programs out there.
I already have a bunch of blogs on there (as well as cause I love the news but don't get time to actually watch it, lol). Unfortunately places like Facebook & MySpace don't have RSS feeds or even Atom. But if you have a blog, please link to it in a comment (unless you don't want it "out there" in cyber space, then feel free to send me an email) so I can put you on my RSS feed. And, if you feel comfortable, I'm also trying to update MY blog to link to all the blogs I read. Let me know if it's ok to put you on that, as well. I CAN put Facebook & MySpace pages on that. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Update on Emma

I was reading back through a couple months of post and I haven't really done an update on what's been going on with Miss Emma. Today we had her 3rd quarter parent/teacher conference, so what better time??
Emma is doing just great. She making great strides in school and I am very confident that she will do great next year at her new school. She's been in the Resource room for reading/spelling since the beginning of the school year, and she's making progress. Her ST & her Resource room teacher still think that her delay in reading/spelling is directly correlated to her speech. She's already met almost all her goals for speech this year and her progress in the resource room is coming along accordingly. I am 95% sure we want to put Emma in the CMU speech camp this summer. At first, I was a little hesitant because I told her that she was going to PEAK again this summer, hopefully with kids from her new school, so she could meet some new people. But, after attending a seminar about the speech camp for Sarah, I really think that 6 weeks of 6 hours of speech therapy will GREATLY help Emma. So, we're going to try to send both of them. Sarah's will only be 1/2 day. Emma will be able to meet new friends during spring soccer as I'm putting her new school as her home school, so she'll be grouped with kids from there, including Sarah's preschool teacher's daughter, who will ALSO be going to Emma's new school next year. Her name's Emily, and they know each other from soccer last year. I'm hoping that will be enough. I know that moving to a new school and leaving all her friends behind will be tough, but at the same time, we need to do what's best for Emma academically. I would REALLY like to get Emma out of the Resource room next year. She is SO very bright and has a fantastic imagination. She's just having a little problem with a few things.
As for school, her report card looks awesome! There are a lot of new things introduced in 2nd grade, and she's not getting as much time in the classroom (due to resource room pull-outs twice a day, every day of the week) so she's struggling a little bit with the new content, but she's working very hard. She knows she doesn't HAVE to make up everything that she misses due to being in the RR, but she wants to.
Last year about this time, there was talk that Emma might have a Learning Disability. I asked both her RR teacher & her classroom teacher and they don't think she does. They really think that the speech is what's affecting her reading & spelling, and once that either continues to improve or is resolved (which after 6 years, I hope would be soon, but it might be something she struggles with for a while still) the reading and spelling will fall into place. They are noticing that as she's making improvements in speech, there are noticeable improvements in her reading/spelling. Which makes me happy, but I'm still wishing she could get over this hurdle.
In my Special Ed class, we watched a movie about Learning disabilities, and a psychologist had come up with a comprehensive format to pinpoint a child's exact learning disability. I asked them about this, and they said the school psychologist has something similar, so I asked her to set something up to get Emma tested. Not that I WANT her to have an LD, but at the same time, I want to make sure Emma has the best learning environment possible. If she needs extra support, and isn't getting it because her educators don't know about something, she's not getting the best we can offer her. If nothing at all, her getting tested will show that she DOESN'T have one and we'll know for sure, and can continue on the course we're following.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ah Croup...

I genuinely feel for those parents whose children get croup on a regular basis. Before a month or so ago, none of my children had ever had it. The "stridor" that they described could have sounded like a train whistle for all I knew. Well, when Sarah woke up in the middle of the night about 2 months ago, struggling to breath and sounding like she'd swallowed something furry, Jeff & I freaked out. I'd like to say I was calm and collected, but no. I was scared that she was going to die due to lack of oxygen. So, off to the ER at midnight we went.
Last night (or was it very early this morning....I can't remember), Jeff shakes me awake & says something to the effect of,"Sarah's crying, I think something's wrong." I go upstairs, and before I even get to the top, I hear the familiar sound of something furry trying to escape from Sarah's throat. She's on the floor, right before her bedroom door, freaking out cause she can't breath really well. Having been a fairly decent parent, and reading up on croup after the last incident, I knew first to try either a steamy bathroom or really cold air. So, I started up the scalding shower water to steam up the bathroom and we sat there for about 10 minutes. Then Jeff got the lucky job of standing outside on our deck (in Michigan, in March, you get the idea) with Sarah wrapped up in a blanket for about 10 minutes. Her stridor wasn't completely gone, but she was breathing a lot better. We decided against an ER trip, and brought her down to our room. She slept pretty fitfully, and still wasn't breathing completely normal, but it was a lot better than before.
This morning, she's doing fine. Has the funky breathing only every once in awhile. Kept her home from school just to be on the safe side. I think she might also be spiking a little fever, so there's no sense in exposing her classmates to this. Poor kid. She always gets the weird stuff at an age when you'd think she'd be beyond it. Case in point: last year around this time, both Katie & Sarah got their first ear infections. Sarah was THREE and Katie was ONE. Who ever hears about 3 years olds getting their FIRST ear infection? That's generally something you deal with when they're infants. This croup thing is the same thing. She didn't have a history, so where is this coming from? Just add that to the long list of health questions I have pertaining to Sarah. This kid is a medical enigma, no explanations for anything. Just thanking my lucky stars that croup isn't contagious.

Friday, March 21, 2008

World Down syndrome Day

Today is World Down syndrome Awareness Day. A day to spread the word to the world that Down syndrome, or Trisomy 21, is not a disease, it's not an affliction that people "suffer" from, it's not something to be feared. In our history we as a society have never liked embracing differences. From the color of people's hair or skin, to which hand they use, we always have used labels to lump people into groups. Today is a day to spread the joy and unconditional love that comes with that extra chromosome.

Does it look like they are suffering?

The love between sisters

Happy World Down syndrome Day!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Another sign of growing up

The cat's out of the proverbial bag around here. In regards to Santa, that is. About a month ago, my ever-observant 8 year old & I are getting cleaning up the house a bit. We go into the little girls' room and she decides she wants to take apart the play tent they got for Christmas (from Santa). I told her that we couldn't do it all that easily because it requires a lot of effort. She ponders this for a minute & then says,"But Mom, it was already set up from Santa, how do YOU know how to take it apart & put it back together?" Ruh-roh. I think I had a stunned look on my face for about a second, and I said....Santa told me.
Yes, my child was 8 years old & yes she still believed in Santa. That's a part of childhood I didn't want to spoil for her too early, so Jeff and I decided to let them figure it out and ask us questions, but we weren't going to be killjoys for our kids.
So, later she comes up to me and asks me, "Mom, tell me the truth, is Santa real or not". Yikes. So, I told her I would talk to her after the babies went to bed.
Jeff & I went into her room and we told her that no, Santa didn't really exist like she does or Daddy or I do, it's more of a way to make the holidays seem magical for little kids. Even though it had been Daddy & I giving her & her sisters presents and not "Santa", did that make it any less special for her? Of course not. We told her that now she could help US be Santa for the little ones next year. She seemed excited about that. She also drew her own conclusions about the Tooth Fairy & the Easter Bunny. But, I told her she would still get money for losing teeth & that she would still get a basket on Easter. Nothing would change. She seemed really ok with it.
One parenting hurdle over with. :D

The Perils of Childhood

My baby is hurt. :( Katie fell yesterday and has since whined every time she tries to walk. So she's crawling everywhere which is unusual for her. But nothing swelled up immediately, and I didn't see any bruising. So we took her to the docs this morning and she has a pulled hip muscle. Poor thing. The Rx? Complete immobility, warm compresses, and Motrin/Tylenol. Warm compresses? Pretty easy. The drugs? She likes 'em. Complete immobility? Yeah, that's gonna be the hard part. You ever try telling a very headstrong 21 month old that she can't do something? It's like waving a piece of raw meat in front of a hungry lion and saying, "NO! You can't have this". I'm thinking she's going to be spending a lot of time in her booster seat, eating snacks, lol.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Warning: Rant Incoming

This post has been a long time in coming. I’m warning you now that I’m about to let loose on a lot of pent up feelings that I’ve been holding in for about the last 2 years.
I don’t think I’ve ever been able to come to grips with my mother’s diagnosis, her failing health, or her death. When she was first diagnosed with a brain tumor that turned out to be from lung cancer, I was pregnant with our 3rd child, living 2500 miles from my family, and I was busy. Aside from my husband, my mother was my best friend. I know, as a parent, you’re not supposed to be best friends with your kids. My mom & I had a different kind of relationship. From the time I was 2, we were pretty much on our own. My parents were divorced, and while I still had a good relationship with my dad & saw him frequently, he didn’t live near us, and I didn’t have daily interaction with him (this is not going to be a bash on my dad, just stating the facts). While my mother ended up re-marrying twice and divorcing twice, I always knew my mother was too good for them. She worked hard, she was an independent woman, and she raised me to be that way, too. She always taught me that I didn’t have to rely on other people; I was a capable person who could do things on my own.
That being said, she was a stubborn ox. She did NOT like being told what to do, as she felt she was quite capable to make her own decisions. This is what led her to be successful in her job, and, if I am not being too immodest, successful in raising me. I didn’t turn out to be a crack head, or a prostitute, or dropping out of high school. And while I had great respect for my mom, there were times, especially during her marriage to my ex-stepdad John D., where I thought she was only doing things to try & salvage her relationship. Sometimes I felt like I was the one in charge, because she made some pretty silly choices. She had fallen prey to the “you’re not a complete person until you’re married to the right person” trap that can happen to people in their late 30’s & 40’s. I think, after my dad, she never found the right person. I think this made her sad, but also made her more into the independent soul she was.
After her divorce, she was a 43-year-old single woman, who had a successful job, owned her own home, and thought she had life pretty figured out. That’s when she started traveling and trying to write a book about my great-grandmother.
My mother smoked from the time she was a teenager. She smoked my entire childhood. As a child, I tried to use the little amount of pull I had over her to get her to quit. I didn’t know about any health effects, to me it just made the whole house stink, and as a teenager I developed asthma that made it difficult to participate in sports. I didn’t like it, but being the independent woman she was, she didn’t want to have other people tell her what she should do.
When I got older, I tried using the health aspect of it. She had intentions to quit, but something always came up. Hers was a true nicotine addiction. Even with the prospect of going to Europe when I was 16, knowing that the person we were traveling with couldn’t tolerate smoke due to health issues, couldn’t give her enough incentive to quit.
Fast forward to after I’m married and now she’s going to be a grandmother. I’m living with her while Jeff is out to sea for 6 months. I’m pregnant, and she still won’t quit. It took until our 2nd child for her to even smoke outside while we were visiting.
She had so many plans for after her retirement. She was going to move to Michigan to be closer to us. She was going to spend her days playing with her grandkids, doing her crafts, and finish writing her book. She was going to travel, and do all the things that she had been working her entire adult life for. Then she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had surgery to remove it, and it was found that it had spread from somewhere else in her body. That somewhere else turned out to be her lungs. She had lung cancer. I don’t give a SHIT what the tobacco industry says or what excuses people who smoke give, SMOKING CAUSES CANCER. We don’t have a history of lung cancer in our family, she didn’t work with asbestos, and she didn’t have any other risk factors for lung cancer other than smoking. I know there are people who get lung cancer who’ve never smoked a day in their lives. Dana Reeves for instance. But the kind my mom had was from smoking 2 packs a day for almost 40 years.
At the time, all I could do was cry. She was told the kind she had had a life expectancy of 2 years. 2 years, that was it. I was pregnant; we had so many plans, and we were told, get it all done in 2 years. I was in shock. But, we also had plans to beat the odds. She was going to keep this in check (because curing it was not on the table) for as long as we could. She was still going to move here, we would go on with our lives, and this was just going to be a “bump-on-the road” as Annette would call it.
But you know, she was still smoking. Even through all this, she was still smoking. I remember having a hard conversation with her where I basically PLEADED with her to quit. She quit drinking, which was good. But she still couldn’t give up what was killing her.
But then things got bad. Her tumor re-grew and she had to have another brain surgery. We thought we would lose her then. Then she had an infection in her lungs. We were told to fly out right away because she might not make it til Christmas. We spent as much quality time as we could. But she defied all the odds. At the time she told me it was because she couldn’t leave me while I was still 28, because her mom had died when SHE was 28. So when my birthday rolled around last year, it was a cause for celebration. Another victory on mom’s side. She was told many many times by many many experts that she kept forcing them to change their way of thinking because she wasn’t following the conventional way of doing things.
After Christmas 2006, I didn’t get to see her very often, due to whatever. I didn’t see her until May 2007, when she flew out here to live. She had decided that whatever was in store, she wanted to be by us. So she did. And when I saw her, I knew that our expectations and hopes of making it past the 2 years were probably not going to happen. She had lost almost 60 lbs. She was skin & bones. It took my breath away when I saw her. All I could do was try to remain positive, especially for the kids. When Katie was an infant, I cried because I didn’t think Mom would make it to see her 1st birthday. But she did, and she celebrated it with us. We went to a family reunion at Lake Tahoe. We had a great time. We tried to make each day count. She loved waking up each morning and seeing the kids first thing. They loved having her here. They’d never been able to spend that much time with Grammy in their lives. They spent 2 wonderful months where they could wake up & see her. It was more than I could have hoped for.
Then in July she decided to go back to CA because she felt she was deteriorating too quickly, and she didn’t want to make us go through that, especially since I was her sole caregiver while she was here. So back she went. We went on with our lives; I got weekly updates as to what was going on. She was slowly going downhill. I was able to fly out to see her in October by myself. It was great. We talked and watched home movies. We went through pictures, and we talked about things we hadn’t really brought up before. I knew it would be the last time I saw her.
Then on Thanksgiving, November 22, I got the call that I’d been dreading. She was gone. It hit me like a ton of bricks. We were visiting friends in Tennessee. I’d talked to her the Sunday before. She was in a hospice center. I have to say I got absolutely no pleasure from knowing that she was on oxygen and thus was unable to smoke. It took her until then to finally be able to stop.
Afterwards, I was really too busy to be able to grieve properly. There just wasn’t time to sit & feel sorry for myself. I’ll admit I was in a slump emotionally, but that’s about as far as I was able to let myself get. I think of her everyday, and I miss her terribly. But the feeling that I have mostly is anger. I’m angry about a lot of things. I’m angry that I lost my mother before I turned 30. I’m angry that my kids will grow up without their Grammy, with 2 of the 3 of them not remembering her at all. I’m angry that I didn’t push harder for her quit smoking a long time ago, and I’m angry that the people who were closest to her didn’t pressure her to quit. I’m angry that they enabled her addiction, because they suffer from the same one. My mom knew that I hated that she smoked. After I turned 18 and was legally able to buy them, my mom asked me numerous times if I would go to the store for her & buy them. I never did, not once. The only time I broke that rule was when she lived with us and was physically unable to get out of the house very often. The only time in 12 years.
I go back & forth between being mad at my mom for being so weak when it came to smoking, and reveling in her strength for fighting so hard when she was sick. I’m pissed off and hurt that she couldn’t put her only daughter before her addiction, but it breaks my heart to remember her being so sad, knowing she would miss her grandchildren growing up.
I’m not saying that we don’t all have issues we deal with. Smoking might not be my thing, but I’m far from the picture of health. I don’t eat the way I should, I don’t exercise enough. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to leave my kids when they’re young because I didn’t take care of myself.
I love my mom and I will miss her for the rest of my life. It shouldn’t have been this way, and I think I will be angry about that for a long time. She was my first best friend. I feel like I’ve once again joined a club I didn’t really want to join. Like when we first found out about Sarah having Down syndrome. Not a group I initially saw myself liking to be part of. I’ve now joined a 2nd club: People who’ve lost a parent. You don’t know what it’s like until it happens to you.
I don’t know if getting all of this out will help. I feel both satisfied & ashamed at having these feelings. I don’t like the fact that I blame my mother’s inability to stop a destructive behavior for why my kids will grow up without her. I’m not narcissistic enough to think that me blogging about this will somehow stop another person from dying of cancer. Maybe all I’m hoping for is for someone else who maybe knows someone who smokes, to have the courage to ask them to stop. Because I didn’t. I’m a weak person. I’m weak in many areas of my life. But that’s something I’m working on. All I can say is people need to think of others before themselves. It’s hard in this world, where we live in the “Me Generation”. What’s in it for ME? What are you going to do for ME? Maybe we need to think more about what we can do for others.

Hairball free

Sarah's x-rays came back normal, no hair-balls. Which is awesome. Now to just keep it that way by trying to keep her from eating her hair. We're going today to get her hair cut.
As for the celiac results, they apparently have to send her blood samples to another lab for that, so it'll probably be next week by the time we get those.

Good news! Sarah's glasses have finally come in, so we'll probably go get those today, as well. I'll try to post some pics later.

As for the rest of the day, it's pretty much going to be a "hurry-up-and-try-to-make-it-look-like-a-tornado-didn't-hit-our-house" clean up day. Between the puking & pooping I have about 10 loads of laundry that has piled up this week (Sarah went through 4 outfits in a 2 hour span one day...sigh) plus I want to try & disinfect the house before we all get sick again. Yay for Lysol spray. When is spring again?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

To the pedi's

Today started way too 5am too early. Jeff had to fly out to Cupertino, CA today for his Apple Executive briefing. He flew out of Lansing, which is an hour south of us. None of the THREE other guys who are going to this thing were on the same flight as him. Why? Because they didn't want to chance them all DYING if the plane crashed. Can we say paranoia? Anyways, his flight was "scheduled" to leave at 9am, we wanted to give him plenty of time to get checked in, so we shot to get him there at around 7:15, which puts us leaving our house at 6am. With 3 of which would need to be completely ready for school as I would be dropping her off on the way home. Oy. But, things went pretty smoothly, because, as Jeff pointed out, it was just HIM leaving, not us. It's easy to get him ready, I should know...I packed his bag. He doesn't need snot suckers, and 20 lbs of diapers/wipes, 4 changes of clothes for each day, and it doesn't take a giant backpack full of toys/paper/crayons/books/snacks/drinks/crap to keep him occupied on a plane.
But we dropped him in plenty of time...for his flight to be delayed by 90 minutes. Rofl. I had to laugh because if I didn't I would have fallen asleep at the wheel driving home. Emma got to school about 45 minutes late, and since Sarah had thrown up a bit this morning, I decided to not send her to school.
Speaking of Sarah, she's been pulling her hair out...again. She did this about two years ago. You can read a bit about it here. She's only been doing it for about 3 weeks, but I wanted to try & nip in the bud as soon as I could. She's been having not-so-nice diapers as of late & has thrown up twice since Sunday. Since it's been 2 years since her last episode, I'm not thinking she can trichotillamania, but at the same time, I do think it is something behavioral. Not sure what though. But, I was worried about her possibly having a hair-ball somewhere in her GI tract, and that could possibly kill her if it wasn't caught. So, it was off to the pedi's this afternoon.
First of all, let me say that I probably look like the world's worst parent. Here is my kid, who has a BLACK EYE from banging heads with her little sister, pulling her hair out & eating it, plus she has some weird spots on her trunk. Can we say "looks neglected"?? Ugh. The doc thinks the spots might be staph (double ugh) so he gave us some antibiotic ointment. At first he thought Sarah's BM issues might be some milk allergy. I reminded him that she's had a long history with that: breastfed, then put on whole milk, which she began having issues with, so we switched to soy, but after 18 months of that she was fine with regular milk again. So he decided to test her for celiac. Just the blood test for now. He also ordered an abdominal x-ray to make sure she didn't have a hair-ball in her GI tract somewhere. For my girl who is normally SO laid back when it comes to doctor stuff, the blood draw plus x-rays just put her over the edge. It took 2 people to hold her still enough to get 2 quasi-decent x-rays. And Katie decided she'd had enough before we even got there and was not a happy camper, and she didn't even have to get anything done!
Anyhow, I was hoping for some results of something before the end of the workday, but no such luck. What to even hope for? That she has celiac and that's the reason she's never had a normal BM? Because that would mean DRASTIC changes in the way this family consumes food. But if it's not that, what is it? Just her normal way of doing things? I don't think I'm ok with that. There has to be a better way. What about the hair thing? If there IS something in there that's causing her GI issues, that's probably going to require surgery. And even if there isn't, how do we get her to stop pulling out her hair and eating it?? Do we have to keep her hair short? I don't mind that, but I'd also like to find the root cause of the behavior, and not just the outlying problem. Ugh, just so many possibilities.
And to top off this most wonderful of days, I get a call from Jeff as I'm driving home this morning, to let me know that his flight is delayed. It left 90 minutes late, which made him miss his connection. So, I'm on the phone with United, trying to get him on another flight. But it doesn't leave until 3pm, CST, which is 5 hours after he finally got to Chicago. But, that plane has safely taken off, so he's on his way. He should be arriving in CA in about 3 hours.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Signs of Spring

After having been pelted with 6 inches of snow last week, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to wake up this morning and see the TV say that it was 50 degrees 7am. What?! 50, as in above a lot?? Wow. I mean, it's raining, but I can handle rain. I could actually see grass where the snow has melted away from the edge of the driveway. I sent Sarah to preschool WITHOUT her snowpants & boots on (although I did put them in her bag, just in case). Now, seeing as how it's Michigan, and the weather here is wholly unpredictable, it'll probably be snowing by the end of the day again. But that's ok. Cause it's March, and the official start of spring is only a few weeks away.

Edit: And my bubble is burst: I looked at, and the high tomorrow? 29...sigh. We'll try again next week.