Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

  • My Sick Bonnie Girl

    Date: 2017.02.23 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Health, Home, Life, Me, Pets | Response: 28

    My dog , Bonnie, is very sick.
    That’s your trigger warning for this blog post.

    Surrounded by at least two border collies since I arrived in the world over 30 years ago, it’s safe to say that I was born a “dog person.” I’ve always had their cold noses in my face and their warm bodies pressed against me when I needed a good cry. They are an essential part of my life, and a part I was grateful to bring into the lives of my own children.

    We have had Leela for nine years and Bonnie for eight – both longer than our own children have been in our lives. When we adopted one-year-old Bonnie, we had a neurotic, anxious, obsessive mess on our hands who growled at any strange man who came near her, including my poor father-in-law. When she was scared, which was always, she rolled onto her back and peed everywhere. (Her barrel rolling behavior, along with her portly form, earned her the nickname “Bonnie Barrel.”)

    But I was determined to rehabilitate my new dog and we researched the best ways to help her. Eventually after a couple of years, she grew into the much more confident, happy and laid back dog she is today.

    Our kids love Bonnie and she loves them. She patiently and tolerantly lets them hug her and dress her up and rub her big ole belly everyday.

    About a week ago, Mark was putting flea medication on Bonnie and noticed a big bump on her throat. I immediately called the vet and they asked us to bring her in the next morning. The mass was about the size of a baseball. They took a needle biopsy on it and sent it off to pathology. She didn’t seem to be in pain and was still eating and breathing fine, so they sent us home to wait for the results to come back.

    On Tuesday I called and though they had the lab results back, they needed to talk to a specialist vet to interpret them, so again we waited. In the mean time we saw that her mass was noticeably getting larger. Yesterday as I picked up the phone to call our vet,  my phone began to ring and it was my vet calling me. After some discussion, he told me that anything growing that quickly was fluid, not tissue. He didn’t feel comfortable working on her and directed us to another vet in town.

    Although he is normally off on Thursdays, this vet happened to be in this week and they agreed to see us early in the morning.

    When I got home yesterday, I noticed a bloody spot on Bonnie’s neck. I thought she had bumped it, so I laid her up in our room. By 11:00 last night there was a larger nasty spot on the other side. By this morning she had blood and fluid all over her beautiful white fur and could barely walk. I just knew my dog was suffering and dying.

    Mark took her to vet appointment while I got the twins ready and off to school, all the while I was mentally preparing myself to have to say goodbye. The kids all knew something was up. My big girls wanted to love on Bonnie this morning, but Sarah was shaken by all the blood she saw. The twins kept asking about “Bon Bon,” and when I finally told Vera that Bon Bon was sick and at the doctor’s office, my not-even-two-year-old nodded sagely and said, “ok.”

    I’m sure my complete and total distraction this morning led to Vera falling and scrape her knee on the way into school. And as I held my screaming and crying little girl, all I wanted to do was lean into her and sob too.

    I finally made it to the vet and there was another customer at the front desk who was carrying on and on about her dog’s microchip with no sign of slowing down. She then tried to engage me in conversation before I interrupted at her and told her that my dog was very sick and waiting to see me. Fortunately the receptionist jumped on it and found out where she was and took me back, despite this lady STILL trying to have a conversation about the dang microchip while I was visibly crying.

    When I got back to the room they had shaved all the fur off of her neck and she looked absolutely terrible. Her mass had swollen to the size of a cantaloupe, but she was still so happy to see me. She ran to me, tail wagging and nuzzled up to me. The vet came in and told me that whatever this thing started as, it was now super infected and needs to be treated with IV antibiotics, along with some kind of laser and hydrotherapy before we could begin to talk about recovery. BUT he said the word I hadn’t expected to hear: “recovery.”

    He was so kind and gracious and showed us the pet ICU where she would be staying overnight, hooked up to fluids and medicine. The staff was so kind and reassuring, and he had a game plan for her.

    “Dogs are the best patients,” he said,  “because they don’t feel sorry for themselves. You’d never know she was feeling bad if you couldn’t see what was going on or take her temperature” (which was 105).

    So we left her there this morning for an overnight stay. They graciously told us to call as much as we liked to check on her and that we could even come visit if we wanted to. The vet explained that this sickness is an avalanche that needs to be stopped before we can begin to go uphill for her recovery. And so now we wait and we hope. I know she is in the very best place she could be right now.

    Saint Francis is the patron saint of animals. If you have a moment, say his prayer for us.

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
    where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    where there is injury, pardon;
    where there is doubt, faith;
    where there is despair, hope;
    where there is darkness, light;
    where there is sadness, joy.

    O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
    to be consoled as to console,
    to be understood as to understand,
    to be loved as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive,
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
    Amen.

  • Soccer, Rainbow Dash, and Life Lessons

    Date: 2016.09.26 | Category: Family, Health, Life, Me, Sarah | Response: 0

    As Sarah begins to get older and understand embarrassment, I’ve been reluctant to share much about her struggles out of respect for her privacy. But I have a good story to tell about her, one that she can hopefully look back on one day and be proud of.

    Without going into too much detail, Sarah often struggles socially and has a hard time dealing with loud noises, changes, frustrations and has a few unhealthy coping mechanisms. It’s prevalent enough that we have sought out help and advice on the best ways to handle it.

    For years she has begged me to do soccer and dance. But for the past three years I’ve been so overwhelmed with pregnancy and babies that just getting everyone fed and in bed felt like the best I could do on most days. We have let her do choir through the school, which is wonderful, but the more we dug into what she’s dealing with, the more we realized she needs some sort of regular, structured, physical activity.

    Our school put together a kindergarten soccer team. And when sign up time came, as usual, I was slow to react and we missed the boat. But then, by chance, a child ended up not being able to play and a spot opened up on the team. One of the coaches called me and asked if Sarah wanted to participate. My immediate gut reaction was yes, but Mark and I were nervous about practice time and making sure we could commit to all the games. I looked at the schedule though, and decided we could make it work.

    Her first practice went really well. The coach, a dad of one of the players, was overflowing with compliments about how well Sarah did on her first day. And she came running to the car, grinning from ear to ear, telling me how much fun she had. She talked about soccer the rest of the evening, only complaining once to tell me to send her a change of clothes next time so she wouldn’t have to get so hot in her uniform.

    Her first game was Saturday and she was so excited. Coach let her start. But her smile quickly faded as one of the girls on the opposing team began to score goal after goal and our team couldn’t even get the ball onto their side of the field. I saw Sarah start spiraling into frustration mode. First she crossed her arms, poked out her bottom lip and refused to move. Then, after the girl scored again, she marched off the playing field and towards the fence, sat down and refused to play anymore. I hustled over to her while they put someone else in the game. I walked her back over to the sideline and made her sit with me.

    Before I could say a word she said, “ I don’t want to play anymore. That girl keeps scoring.”

    Me: “But Sarah…”

    Sarah: “I don’t want to play!”

    Me: “You don’t have to play, but you do have to listen.”

    Sarah stared at me fiercely, but didn’t argue.

    What followed was a pep talk that involved the ever-fast and athletic Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony. Fortunately, I’ve seen every episode from every season roughly 100 times, so I’m intimately familiar with the characters and plot lines. I told her about the episode when Rainbow Dash gets made fun of and wants to give up, but she doesn’t. We talked about the other little girl who kept scoring and how she has been playing a long time, but this was Sarah’s very first game. And, after all, if you give up the first time you get frustrated, you’ll never get any better. The only way to improve is to try.

    She didn’t smile. In fact, her scowl didn’t change at all. But two minutes later she said, “I want to play.”

    After a few minutes, Coach came up to her and said, “Sarah, do you want to play? You’re fast, we need you out there.”

    And she, quite matter of factly, walked back onto the field. They started the game, the ball was passed to her, and then she took off running with it, quickly outpacing the other kids. And then, just like that, she scored a goal.

    After that moment, her spirits immediately lifted. She wasn’t jubilant though, just determined. She threw herself into the game, playing hard. She was stopping the ball with her feet, lining up her kicks and passing and making goal attempts. I was floored by how good she was.

    When the game was over, she was still scowling. “Why are you upset?” I asked her, “You scored!” She looked at me fiercely and said, “I want to keep playing.”  Coach told her he was so proud of her, that she was like a fast little gazelle making her way across the field.

    We left the game and I told her we could go get a treat. “Not because you made a goal,” I told her, “Although that was really amazing, but because you didn’t give up and went back in the game.” Within minutes she was telling me that the little girl who kept scoring was #8, which was also her own number, and that soon she would be as good as her.

    That evening, after the game was over, Mark and I talked about it with smiles on our faces. We were so hesitant to put her in soccer because of the busyness of our lives, but after just one practice and one game, she’s already improving with a lot of her issues. At church on Sunday, she even sat in the pew in front of us with one of her friends, and for the first time ever, went to children’s liturgy without one of us. I feel like I’m watching her transform before my eyes – learning to fight through the frustrations, and socialize more.

    Soccer may not be our cure all, but it’s certainly proving to be way more than I could have hoped for. It’s the perfect platform for teamwork, social interaction and learning to physically move her body and do things in a loud setting. And, because of that, I’m going to cave and buy her the “special fast shoes,” (cleats) that she really wants.

    So, between my minivan and this, I guess I’m officially a soccer mom. Somebody make me a “Sarah’s Mom” shirt so we can seal this deal.

  • The First Note Home and the Animal Revolt

    Date: 2016.09.13 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Health, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Norah, Pets, Puppies, Sarah | Response: 0

    One of my coworkers recently told me that she looks forward to Mondays just so she can hear what shenanigans Norah has been up to over the weekend. (Insert embarrassed/awkward emoji face here). But it’s true – she is always up to something. This past weekend it was spreading a combination of sunscreen and toothpaste along the hallway and around the bathroom sink – and that’s really pretty mild all things considered.

    But, last week, she did have her first note home from school.

    Now, Sarah is far from perfect and has her own set of issues, but she’s usually a quintessential firstborn rule follower. In the past three years, there has never been a note sent home from school, though her teachers have all filled me in on some of her antics that resulted in pulling a card.

    But, as we all know, Norah loves to buck the system. And when I was loading her into the car last week, one of her teachers could barely contain her laughter as she began explaining to me why Norah’s face was colored purple. In her backpack found a note that read:

    “Norah found a purple crayon at nap time and drew all over her face with it, colored the floor and ate some of it. The crayon was nontoxic. :) ” I do so love our teachers for being concerned about the crayon’s toxicity.

    Of course she got in trouble and had to make a serious apology to them the next day, during which they worked hard to keep from smiling.

    Perhaps I should gift them both with jumbo-sized boxes of Magic Erasers.

    *****

    And lest we forget the other three individuals who reside in our house, they have been up to their own set of antics. And no, I’m not talking about my other three children, I’m talking about our two dogs, Leela and Bonnie, and Angie Cat.

    We discovered, after having the twins, that Angie Cat protests by peeing on any and all clothes that happen to be on the ground in our room. And while this did finally force us to keep our closet floor clean, any time a piece of clothes would fall out of the hamper, it was game over. We’ve been very diligent lately about keeping all the clothes off the floor. Angie Cat though, refused to be deterred.

    We discovered her next target when Leela started waking up Norah in the middle of the night by climbing into bed with her. (I find it hilarious that she seeks out Norah’s bed at 2am, because Norah often torments Leela during waking hours).  I couldn’t figure out why in the world the dog would suddenly start sneaking into the girls’ room in the middle of the night until I smelled it. Angie Cat had struck again – this time taking out the dog beds. They were so sabotaged that we just had to chuck them out. We’ve made other attempts at making dog beds with blankets, etc, but without fail, nearly every night I am woken up by Norah whining and yelling, “Get off LEELA! GET OFF!” And then it’s often a good 10-15 minutes before I can convince Norah that it is, in fact, still dark outside and too soon to wake up.

    Thinking to thwart this newest set back, I set a pressure gate up outside the girls’ room to block Leela from going in. (Norah won’t sleep with the bedroom door closed). So, of course, the first time I set the gate up, at 2AM, I heard Sarah crying in the hallway. Half asleep, she was standing there by the gate, shaking, telling me she was freezing and her stomach hurt and she couldn’t get to the bathroom.

    Normally, she’d scamper over the gate, no problem, but this particular night it turns out strep had taken over her body. And because bunk beds don’t lend themselves well to vomiting children, I moved her to the couch in the living room. With no place left to block the dogs out, Leela decided that she was just as content snoozing with a sick Sarah, and Sarah, bless her poor, ill little heart, didn’t mind the company.

    Our new neighbor asked me last weekend why we have pets – “Aren’t they so much work with all your kids?” she asked. And while they can sometimes be just as irritable and messy as our children, they are part of our family. They were here before the children were and, despite the sometimes angry revenge peeing, take the kids all in stride and even deign to snuggle with them – on their own terms of course.

    P.S.: That cat pee smell is the worst and so hard to get out, but since we are cloth diapering now, I discovered a whole bunch of awesome things that get nasty smells and stains out, and this stuff is THE BEST at getting out that ammonia smell. I use it all the time. I am not getting paid to promote this stuff, just wanted to share it with my fellow cat/dog/kid parents as a FYI. Click on it to find it on Amazon.

  • Is it Monday Yet?

    Date: 2016.08.29 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    This weekend was ROUGH. I mean, by the time it was over I was begging for Monday, dreaming of sitting at my desk in the peace and quiet for a few hours. I realize that probably makes me sound like a terrible mother, but, well, we all need a break sometimes.

    This cold I’ve managed to get has snuggled itself down into my chest and refuses to leave. I sound like a hacking, wheezing old woman most of the time and it hurts to raise my voice. And because the six of us are in such tight quarters, I was not surprised when everyone was snotty and hacking by Sunday.

    Let me back up. Friday night and Saturday were actually quite wonderful. The big girls stayed with their grandparents, Mark and I ordered Chinese food, without having to worry that no one else would eat it, and then the twins and I had a whole day together with just the three of us on Saturday.

    Vera was unusually fussy, but upon investigation, I saw that in addition to the two front teeth I knew were coming in, she was also actively dealing with four giant molars pushing their way through. I was shocked. She’s been physically behind her twin brother on everything, including teeth, and then she somehow leapfrogged him on this particular milestone.

    But then it was time for the big girls to come home and you know what happens after 24 hours with the grandparents. That’s right, blowback.

    It turns out they had a rough night of sleep with their grandparents  and then Norah barely squeaked a nap in. So Sunday, on top of exhaustion, everyone had colds and we had to cancel all of our fun plans for the day, including a play date with one of Sarah’s best friends that left her in tears.

    With guilt riding heavy on my shoulders, I still attempted to make the day fun. We made Norah’s favorite muffins (pumpkin chocolate chip), and both the girls were very helpful with the baking. (Seriously! And I had predicted total disaster). But Norah, well that was probably her only good moment of the day.

    The girl refused to nap, and instead spent nearly two hours alternately running out of her room, or laying in her bed screaming at the top of her lungs, which also resulted in the babies being woken up early from their naps.

    And the throwing things and flushing them down the toilet compulsion has gotten out of hand. So much so, that Mark is now the proud owner of one of those plumbing snakes that he had to use at least three times over the weekend. (But hey, it does actually work to get things out!)

    Norah also felt compelled to dump all the toys we own onto the floor to make a “swimming pool.” Though at least that entertained her for a while and was easy for her to later clean up.

    Here’s a sample of a real conversation Mark and I had Sunday morning:

    Me: “Where are the Kleenex?”

    Him: “In the bathroom.”

    Me: “Why are they in the bathroom?”

    Him: “Because I needed somewhere to put them really quick and your coffee and toast were on the window ledge already.”

    Me: “That’s because I had to find a place to put them really quick where the babies couldn’t grab them because I caught Norah buck naked, covered in Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.

    Him: “Right and I went to the bathroom to make sure you didn’t kill her and took the Kleenex so the babies wouldn’t empty them out.”

    And oh the screaming. There was so much angry screaming on Sunday that Mark and I made the executive decision to have the twins in their beds at 6:45pm and the big girls in bed by 7:15pm. After they were down, I sprinted out of the house and to the grocery store, just to have some alone time for 45 minutes while I bought the week’s essentials. And you better believe I stopped by our stress eating outlet of choice on the way home: TCBY. I’ll take a giant Oreo filled frozen yogurt (so I don’t feel guilty, but really it’s ok because I forgot to eat lunch anyway) thing, thankyouverymuch.

  • Mamas Don’t Get Sick Days

    Date: 2016.08.27 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time, Twins | Response: 0

    Moms all know that even if we are gasping for air through one barely opened nostril and glowing with fever, that we aren’t really allowed to “be sick.” So when I started having cold symptoms about five days ago, I did what any mother would do, and ignored them in favor of caring for the kids and powering through a press deadline. Even as I felt my throat getting sore and my chest began to ache, I insisted on getting up and getting it done. So it’s no surprise that by Wednesday evening I was hanging by a thread.

    Even Mark took one look at me and told me to go lay down while he cared for the kids and got them to bed that night. Grateful for the reprieve, I fell into bed and buried my face in a pile of Kleenex. I decided that my body was toast and agreed to take the next day off of work. Despite that, I still got up at the crack of dawn the next morning to get the girls ready for school, knowing that as soon as they left, I could crawl into bed and hibernate.

    But alas, as soon as Mark left with the girls, the babies started to fuss. I decided to let them fuss for a bit before I got up to get them, but that’s when the shrieking started. So I stumbled into their room and found Luke sitting astride the crib rail, leg caught between the crib and the wall, riding the dang thing like a pony. Our boy has figured out how to climb out of the crib at 16 months old. UGH. And I am SO not mentally prepared to move him to a big bed yet.

    Climbing resourceful little toots

    I dragged the twins into the living room, put up the pressure gate and laid on the couch with them until Mark got home and then stumbled into bed and crashed, relieved to finally get a break.

    But, as things always go, my plans for a desperately needed “break” quickly got dashed. Mark was out picking up lunch when I got a phone call from school that Sarah was sick. Mark, when he got home, dropped the food and left to go get her. When he picked Sarah up, they asked him if he wanted to check Norah out too, to which he quickly replied, “No,” and took Sarah home. Together she and I cuddled on the couch and watched Netflix in misery.

    Oh, but it gets more fun. You see at some point Wednesday evening, we noticed that all the kids’ toothbrushes were missing. After some interrogation, Norah told us that she had flushed them down the toilet. How? I have no idea. But the toilet was absolutely, 100% not working. So on Thursday, as Sarah and I were laying around feeling bad, we were also down a toilet and I had no inkling or energy to call a plumber.

    I completely missed Back to School Night for the twins, though perhaps for the best because it was raining cats and dogs. When the kids were finally all in bed that night, I took a shot of Nyquil and passed out.

    So of course this morning, Norah comes waltzing into our room bright and early. And for some reason, she’s started speaking about herself in third person. So she comes into our room and loudly proclaims, “Mama! Norah made a mess. She got it EVERYWHERE. She got it all over my jammies, all over my bed, all over the floor. ”

    “No, no Norah!” she told herself, “Mama told you not to make a mess.”

    I just groaned and rasped out, “What is it? What did you do?” Mark rolled out of bed to discover an ice cream sandwich lining, well, all the things she had named.

    I resolved to pull myself back together today though, and everything else mostly followed. The rain finally stopped. Mark and his dad managed to physically reach their hands down into the bowls of the toilet and extract all four toothbrushes, saving us a huge plumbing bill and getting the toilets working again. And, perhaps best of all, Mark asked his parents to keep the big kids tonight. So when the twins went to bed at 7:15, we did a (somewhat muted from the sickness) dance of relief.

    But now, of course, Mark is getting sick.

    And I think I’ll go indulge myself with an 8:00 bed time.

    Man, I’m old.

  • Those First Unknown Moments

    Date: 2016.02.19 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Life, Luke, Me, Pregnancy, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    In January I had good intentions of doing a post reflecting on the madness that was 2015, but illness invaded our house, taking down one with strep, another with croup and the other two with RSV, followed by some necessary ear tubes and a lip tie correction procedure. There was also a quick care visit to remove a piece of Styrofoam out of Norah’s ear and an ER trip thrown in there for good measure. And in the midst of all the madness, I forgot about everything except trying to get my babies well and somehow finishing the magazine on deadline.

    Now that the babies’ procedure is over, I’m sitting here feeling kind of dazed and dumbfounded. I honestly have trouble remembering much of the past 10+ months.

    A friend and coworker of mine is expecting twins, and together we chatted about my twins’ birth and I mentioned that Mark had recorded the c-section from a discreet non-gory angle, but that I’d never actually sat down and watched it all the way through. So over the weekend I decided to do just that.

    It really is amazing and beautiful what modern medicine is capable of. I sat there in awe as I watched little V first slip out, and then as it took two doctors to physically shove and tug my breech boy out of my ribs together. And then I watched as Mark followed the babies back to a little room off the OR to be weighed, measured and cleaned – or at least that’s what I always thought they did. In these 10+ months, I never actually knew what happened after they were delivered.

    I watched the video on bated breath as both babies were immediately put on CPAP machines in an attempt to get them to breathe on their own, or “make the transition,” as I heard them say. I watched as oxygen masks were placed on my tiny babies, tubes slid down into their bellies and nurses counted off numbers and percentages. I heard them say, “She will probably have to go up to the nursery for more oxygen,” as people hovered around, making sure they were ok.  And then, after a few minutes, a mask came off and, “She did it!” was exclaimed as little Vera made the transition on her own, breathing in that life-giving air without anymore struggling, while Luke continued on the machine.

    I had no idea any of this was going on while I was being stitched up, and I’m sort of relieved I didn’t.

    The next thing I knew, I was being rolled out of the OR. They handed me Vera, put Luke briefly on my chest for skin-to-skin, monitored him, then whisked him away for oxygen in the nursery.

    I remember sitting stunned in recovery, holding my tiny 5 pound baby girl, receiving sweet phone call updates from the nursery about my son and not feeling like any of it was real. After all, my other two deliveries went quickly and smoothly, and I ended up with a baby girl after it was all over. It was so strange to think about this other baby boy of mine somewhere out there, supported in his hours-old life by oxygen and a team of nurses that I had only caught the briefest glimpse of.

    I was lucky and incredibly blessed though, for my little man finally made “the transition” later that same day and I was slapped in the face with reality as they brought my second infant to me to hold, comfort and nurse.

    And now, nearly 10 months later, I sit here and still can’t believe that was all real, or that we have two babies sometimes. All those early struggles feel so stretched and blurred as I chase my now two incredibly mobile and beautiful babies around the house, digging paper and hair and toys out of their hands before they can stuff them in their mouths. I get to revel in their very different and very distinct personalities and truly get to know them.

    And just now, all this time later, I realize truly what a miracle, gift and blessing those first few days were and how much I truly owe the nursing staff at the hospital. It’s hard to believe my now 16 and 19 pound babies were ever those scrawny little 5 and 7 pounds newborns in the video.

  • The Wailing of Ears and Gnashing of Teeth

    Date: 2015.12.22 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah | Response: 0

    I haven’t felt much like writing lately… or maybe it’s just that there is no time.

    Our kids have been falling to illness like dominoes: one gets sick, starts to mend and the next falls victim to the illness, until at least three of them are sick at any given time. Yes, I knew this was coming, but it still doesn’t make it easier to bear.  We go to the pediatrician’s once a week when we’re lucky, 2-3 times a week when we’re not. We’ve battled raging high fevers, puffy, goopy eyes and coughs that keep the whole house up at night.

    Nearly every day, Mark and I look at each other and say, “Do you think it’s their ears or just teeth?” Because we certainly couldn’t just be sick without 3 of our 4 also getting new teeth.

    And Norah (of course it’s Norah, it’s always Norah) has had it the worst of all. After nearly two months straight of ear infections, fever, coughing, middle of the night screaming, and now our fifth antibiotic, our pediatrician sent her to the ENT. He took one look inside her ears, cringed, pointed to the second to worst picture on the ear infection chart and said the word I knew was coming: “tubes.”

    That, in and of itself, really isn’t so bad. I had prepared myself, know lots of moms who have had to get tubes in their kids’ ears and I know that this will bring welcome relief for her. But it didn’t stop there.

    You see, our poor girl also has a snoring problem and it turns out her adenoids are pushing in on her ear tubes, her nose, eyes and even her teeth, so those have to come out too. Her case is bad enough and she’s suffered so much that the doctor wants to do the procedure as soon as possible. He first mentioned the Wednesday before Christmas, but then amended it to the Monday after to let the newest round of tough antibiotics have time to attempt to clear things out.

    I know, logically, that this is a very common, quick and easy surgery, but a little edge of panic still creeps in when I think about her having to go under.

    I am so thankful that I was already off work for the surgery and recovery time – a little silver lining. Trying to balance working full time and being a mother is something I constantly struggle with. There’s so much guilt when I’m at work away from my sick kids, but then there’s guilt when I’m home and missing so much work. “What must people think?” I often wonder. But I have to put that behind me and do the best that one person can do (or really two, Mark stays home with the kids when they are sick as much, if not more than I do).

    And so, as Christmas comes and we get ready to celebrate, please keep our Norah Bean and her very anxious momma in your prayers. Here’s to hoping everyone’s teeth all come through, the fevers stop and everyone gets a little bit of rest.

  • Nighttime Parties and a Giveaway!

    Date: 2015.10.28 | Category: Family, Halloween, Health, Home, Life, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah, Toddler Time | Response: 0

    Over the past six months since the twins have come into our lives, I’ve struggled with ways to dedicate time to my older girls. Mark and I constantly “divide and conquer” though, and at night while he bathes and dresses the babies, the big girls and I move to the back of the house to begin their bed time routine – which is always a challenge as I constantly find myself physically wrestling an overtired two-year-old into the bath tub while her older sister screams, “SHE IS SPLASHING SOAP IN MY EYES AND HITTING ME!”

    One night Sarah asked me if we could have a “Halloween Party.” I was hesitant at first, because one more thing, but she looked at me pleadingly and melted my over-tired heart.  Her imagination is boundless and I knew that anything and everything could easily be transformed into a Halloween Party. I agreed and she cheered!

    I began to think of the things I could do to turn bath time into Halloween party time. What does any good party have? Music of course! So I turned on the Pandora “Halloween Party” station. Then I dimmed the lights, but that was a little too spooky, so I got a fall-scented candle and lit it in the bathroom. Perfect. Now as “Monster Mash” and tunes from The Nightmare Before Christmas flood our bathroom, we dance and laugh. Sometimes we add extra fun things like bath foam to make “costumes” or bath bombs to fizz and turn the water different colors (yellow, blue, red!).

    Now, when 7:00 rolls around, there are no more battles to get into the bathtub. Norah enthusiastically yells, “Tub time!” while Sarah says, “It’s time to party!”  and wiggles her hips. We rush to the bathroom, set up our party, shut the door to close out the babies, dance and play and they get mama’s full attention.

    It’s not elaborate, but it is fun and it’s the joyful time we all need together. Now I look forward to getting everyone ready for bed, and the only protesting that happens is when it’s time to get out of the tub (but even that is minor because we keep the music going while they dry off and get dressed).

    One of my favorite parts of all this are the things we use to create our party. The only thing I love more than shopping local is buying things that I know are safe and healthy for my family. My friend Kate owns Zombee Candle and Coven Co., and sells both products at her new store in Shreveport, The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts. For our tub time parties, I’ve been lighting up seasonally appropriate fall scents – L’Automne and Bitches Brew (though the girls call it Witches Brew). Bitches Brew is purple and smells like apple cider, so it usually gets Sarah’s vote for party time. The candles are made with soy and don’t release any kind of nasty toxins into the air.

    Coven Co., is a line of natural and organic beauty products, including bath bombs and body butter (and the body butter even comes in the falltastic Hocus Pocus scent). The girls love waiting to see what color their bath bomb is going to release when we toss them in the tub.

    I am so excited to have the opportunity to share a little bit of our Halloween party joy with my readers! I’m teaming up with Kate during the week of Halloween to giveaway some of these locally made products from The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts.

    You can win this awesome little bundle of healthy, Halloween goodness which includes:

    • 3 x small Coven Co. Aura Bombe bath bombs in Grove [lemon & sage] or Mandarin Royale [vanilla & orange]
    • 1 x 14oz Midi Zombee in your choice of Bitches Brew [mulled apple cider], L’Automne [orange, clove, black tea], Hocus Pocus [vanilla & pumpkin], or Hallowed Ground [tobacco, patchouli, cedarwood].

    Here’s what you have to do to enter. Make sure you complete all the steps – we’ll check!

    1. LIKE The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts on Facebook.
    2. SHARE this post with your friends.
    3. TAG a friend in the comments.
    4. PROMISE to have your own personal Halloween Party, even if it’s just lighting up a spooky scent and relaxing in the tub with your very own bath bomb.

    The last day to enter is this Saturday, HALLOWEEN! We will announce a winner on Saturday. Good luck!

  • All Thumbs

    Date: 2015.10.06 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Toddler Time, Whoops | Response: 0

    Last Friday I had Norah at the pediatrician’s office for her two-year-old well visit.  I had Luke in tow as well. His fussiness and sleeplessness was reaching critical level and his cough was enough to scare me every time it happened.

    Norah, when she and I go places together without the entire crew, tends to be an angel. She readily got on the scale, let them measure her and check her temperature. Put up a small fight at shot time, but didn’t even cry during her finger stick. Our pediatrician, who we have gotten to know well enough that we now call her, “Aunt Monica,” and I discussed and sort of laughed at Norah’s ability to find accident and injury and her ER history, but we were relieved that she had gone a stretch without anything significant happening.

    Luke, it turned out, had a double ear infection, so we got an antibiotic for him and we went about our merry way.

    Fate, though, reared its ugly head that evening.

    I got it into my head that night that I wanted to make one of the girls’ favorite dishes, “yellow soup,” (ie potato and veggie and cheese soup). I knew I had all the ingredients, so I got to work. When I grabbed the chicken broth, however, I discovered that Norah had gotten a hold of it and tried to open it with her teeth in a fit of rat-like hunger, thus opening it and letting it go bad. I grumbled as I tossed the unused box into the trash and dug around in my pantry where I unearthed a still-good can of chicken broth. I decided to use that to start the soup while Mark ran to the store to get more.

    As things often happen at dinner time, both babies started crying, so I went to them while I waited on the soup to cook, not thinking about all the things that were still sitting on the counter top.

    Mark got back, and while he was busy adding the rest of the ingredients and I was tending to babies, Norah decided she very much wanted that open can of chicken broth still sitting out on the counter, so she reached for it. The lid was still attached, so when she stuck her thumb down in the can, it got stuck, she panicked and then she yanked… HARD.

    Mark starts yelling that Norah is bleeding everywhere. I panicked a little and asked if she needed stitches, but he couldn’t tell because there was so much blood. I pinned her down and looked and the gaping wound on her thumb. No doubt, there would be stitches.

    Mark would have to drive while I held my toddler with her gushing thumb, which Mark ingeniously wrapped in paper towels and electric tape, so we quickly began seeking back up help. My mom had my sister’s kids, my in-laws were out of town, my sister was at work… “Call Debbie,” I said, and our wonderful neighbor immediately rushed over to help.

    We darted out the door and made for Quick Care. They took one look at her thumb and sent us immediately over to the Emergency Room.

    When we got there, the ER was empty, thank goodness, and one of our friends was our nurse. In short order they brought out our old friend the papoose board and put Norah in her straight jacket.

    We tried all kinds of distraction techniques while they numbed her up the doctor started cleaning and stitching. The ER doctor encouraged us to sing, “Wheels on the Bus.” I can just imagine the joy and horror anyone walking by would have experienced as they watched a little girl strapped to a blue board getting her hand stitched up while her parents, three nurses and a doctor sang “Wheels on the Bus” complete with hand motions. Norah, however, did not find it at all entertaining.

    Still though, three stitches later we were out of there, but not before our ER doctor commented that we looked familiar. Yes, this was her third trip to the ER in a year, but, I said, “ I swear we’re good parents!”

    It was when we got home and started to get her ready for bed that it dawned on me that it was the thumb she sucks to soothe herself and go to sleep. Oh hell.

    It was a bad night. She had trouble going to sleep without sucking her thumb, and then couldn’t settle herself as she woke up multiple times in the middle of the night, both in pain and in general anger at the thumb situation. When I told her to suck her other thumb, she just looked at it and screamed. Combine that with the babies waking up with painful ears and it was rough.

    That was a Friday night. Monday morning I had a phone call from dear “Aunt Monica,” who could not believe what she saw when she got her files from the weekend. She left me the sweetest and most encouraging voicemail that said many things, but included the phrases, “Oh my gosh it never ends,” and “I firmly believe God only gives you what you can handle and He knows you are a stronger woman than I.”

    It’s now been over a week and things are getting better. She’s missed a lot of naps over the thumb sucking issue, but she had the stitches taken out yesterday and hasn’t resumed thumb sucking… so maybe in the silver lining of things she broke that habit? I’m not ready to swear by it yet, but maybe, just maybe.

    And also, this birthday gift from Cassie showed up in our mailbox last night, and I have to say, it’s perfection.

  • Saying Goodbye to Paw Paw

    Date: 2015.07.02 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Love, Me, Nostalgia | Response: 7

    Today is a surreal and sad day. My grandfather, one of the most important and formative people in my life, passed away today. I immediately felt two strong emotions well up inside of me: the sadness, of course. How can I not be sad that my Paw Paw is no longer available for a goofy grin or a silly joke, or to ask me where I’m traveling to next and take pride in my achievements? But another part of me was instantly relieved. He has fought a long and hard battle with Parkinson’s disease that grew especially difficult and frustrating for him over the past two years. I know he was ready to go.

    On Monday, fearing the end was near, the six of us loaded up the van and drove over to see him. Having lost control over most of his ability to communicate, I didn’t know what to expect. But I watched amazed as he perked up when I brought the twins to see him, smiled at Mark and me, and even managed a small wave as Norah boisterously shouted “Paw Paw” and wiggled her little hand at him.

    That was my Paw Paw, always a man who loved children.

    Over the course of today, I’ve been thinking about the huge role he played in my life and the lives of my sisters and cousins.

    He led a big life. He was the Louisiana Secretary of Commerce, the grandson of a construction company dynasty, sat on numerous boards, co-founded a school and even climbed to the very top of Amway. But he was also “Paw Paw,” a man who dropped everything to spend time with his grandchildren, who he loved fiercely.

    “Paw Paw! Let’s ride the airplane!” we’d cry, and he would load us all up in his Caddy and drive his car through the front yard in circles, narrowly avoiding magnolia and pine trees, bushes and ditches. We would squeal in delight and he would giggle right along with us. He would take us to his office after hours, and let us decorate white boards, dig through office supplies, use the old typewriter and raid the company snacks.

    At the infamous family annual Christmas party, Paw Paw would don his well worn Santa suit and load up his sack with presents as we each begged for the chance to be his helper elf (which usually involved putting on a very tight white and green striped onesie with curled green shoes).

    Our family has always loved to play games together, and he was always eager to jump in. Party Lines was a favorite and he was great and coming up with lines that got the whole family laughing with tears pouring out of our eyes.

    Ever the sports fan, Paw Paw kept diligent notes about sporting stats and encouraged us all to take up a sport. I remember many a summer spent at LA Techsters basketball camp while Paw Paw rubbed elbows with the coach and visited with everyone – after all he knew everyone who lived in Ruston.

    One day, my grandfather and I sat talking when I was 16. He asked me if I could travel to anywhere, where would I choose. New York City was at the top of my list. A couple weeks later my parents received a phone call. My grandfather had a business trip that would be taking him to NYC and would I like to go with them? Together we sat down and made a list of all the things and places we wanted to see and go to. When the time arrived, he took that list with us to New York and made sure we did every single item on the list, crossing each off as we accomplished them.

    Together, my grandparents and I traversed the entire city, eating at Tavern on the Green and Sardi’s, going to the top of the Empire State Building and visiting FAO Schwartz. We saw The Lion King and Les Mis on Broadway, and I even remember venturing out to Hard Rock Cafe late at night with them just to cross it off the list.

    My grandfather lived to bring joy to others. Each year he would foot the bill for all four of his children and their families to go to the beach together. Inevitably the kids would get tired of just sitting outside, and he and my uncle Mix would load all the children up and take us to the Big Kahuna water park while the other adults enjoyed the peace and quiet. Another day, they would take us down to the Holiday Inn where we would sneak in through the side door to use their swimming pool and enjoy the arcade. He certainly encouraged a us to have fun, even if it meant a little mischief.

    My sisters and I went to visit him and introduce him to the twins a couple of weeks ago. In a rare moment of clarity, he looked up when we came into his hospital room and said, “Let me see that baby,” and grinned when I brought Luke over. He also spoke my name. I’m so glad that we got to see him at the end, and even introduce the twins to him.

    Dear Paw Paw, I’m so glad you’ve found peace, but so sad my children will never know the way your face lights up when you see your children and great grandchildren, how you always have a funny joke or well-timed wit, or how much and unselfishly you loved with your whole heart. I am so thankful that you always encouraged me to be a better person, and to travel and be successful. I am so blessed and so grateful that I had 30 years with you. Thirty years to love you and bask in the glow of your smile, to hug you and kiss your cheeks.

    Going through some old things tonight, I found this letter he wrote to me after our trip to New York. This was everything he was to me in a nutshell.

    I love you Paw Paw, and I miss you terribly. I look forward to the day we meet again on the other side.