Great Things; Great Kids

I’ve been struggling with depression and lack of motivation. It’s been hard, really hard on me, my husband, the kids and my marriage. This weekend I decided to start taking my antidepressant again and I really pushed myself to force myself to do more. I’ll write more about it later.

Today I want to remember how great my kids were. Even though these things were not typical, it was obvious the things we’ve been saying are starting to sink in. It is a wonderful indication that they are capable and willing of being contributing and helpful members of this family.

I did quite a bit more than usual today, in my effort to force myself out of this funk, and even though I hoped to not take my typical afternoon nap, I had to. I was worthless at 2:30. I managed to sleep from 3:30-4:30. It was perfect.

When I came out of my room, the big kids wanted  take the little ones out front to play. This was their idea! Awesome getting along AND being helpful with the little kids. This was Great Thing #1.

I asked if they could just straighten up the living room first. Only Easton (5) protested! But it was Macy (13) and Owen (10) who quickly and cheerfully talked him out of throwing a fit. They delegated easy tasks to him and tried to make it fun. He complained no more and they were done in about 5 minutes. This was Great Thing #2.

Before dinner, while I was getting plates together for the littles, Owen had to eat quickly to get ready for baseball practice in 20 minutes. When he got up to get himself some milk, he asked Macy if she would like some too. She did and he poured it for her and brought it to her! This was Great Thing #3. This one brought a tear to my eye because getting these two to be kind to each other lately has been virtually impossible.

Then later, after Scott and Owen were at practice, I was doing dishes and Macy had Easton and the baby outside. She brought all three huge trash cans to the curb for tomorrow’s trash pickup without being asked. She especially hates this task because the brown widows like to make webs and leave eggs under the handles of the cans. This was Great Thing #4.

These Great Things happened probably within a 90 minute span and just lifted my spirits so high. It was just wonderful to be shown what Great Kids I am so lucky to have. I know they won’t always be like this, but I’m grateful to have witnessed it and been mentally present enough to appreciate it.
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Surgery Update

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I was very worried about how Easton would handle his recovery from his tonsil & adenoidectomy Wednesday. Especially given his temperament & how he’s dealt with minor injuries & illness in the past. I never in a million years would have believed it would be easy for him. And that’s where I would be wrong.
Scott & I just keep shaking our heads in disbelief at what an amazing trooper he has been. This little guy has had so little pain that at one point yesterday I made him let me look in his mouth, thinking maybe they forgot to take his tonsils. Nope. They are gone. He is just that amazing!
When we took him to the hospital in the morning, he was in great spirits. He never even asked to eat or drink anything. He didn’t seem nervous or concerned at all. Even when they took us back to prepare him for surgery and there was a older baby/toddler screaming & crying the whole time he was prepped. Nothing. Calm. Happy. Curious. (BTW, when we went to recovery that baby/toddler was still screaming & crying! Poor parents.)
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This picture is before the Versed kicked in. He was being silly biting his LaLas.

The nurse gave Easton Versed about 45 minutes before he went back. I was amazed at how fast that worked for him. 5 mins after taking it he was getting sleepy. The doctor said that would help him be calm and not remember any of the pre-op stuff, but last night I asked him which shows he watched on the TV (Jake & The Neverland Pirates and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) at the hospital and he remembered. I’ll ask him again today.
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This picture is after the Versed kicked in and he was watching the TV.

They took him back for surgery at 9:02. He was calm. I was a mess watching them wheel him away. I held it together the whole time, even then, but I was trying so hard not to act nervous in front of him. After he was taken back, my nerves came to the surface, along with my 3 cups of coffee, and I was visibly shaking.

Scott and I went to the waiting room. I had to fill out a bunch of permission slips for end-of-the-year activities for Macy. By the time I finished those, we were called to the consult room at 9:28. He was done. The doctor kept us waiting in the consult room for 15 minutes, but finally came and told us everything went great. He said that the tonsils were larger than they looked and that the adenoids definitely needed to come out. He also said we/he would notice a difference in his breathing right away. He talked to us about pain management, which was not clear AT ALL. Basically, the FDA doesn’t recommend narcotics for young kids, but it’s fine. Very confusing.

We then got to go back as Easton was waking up. I felt like he was really struggling. He didn’t want to open his eyes. He just wanted to sleep. The nurse said he was really good because he wasn’t crying (as 2 kids and 1 tiny baby around us were screaming). It was funny to me that Easton had no desire to make a sound. Scott and the nurse thought it was because his throat hurt, but I think he was just so disoriented and sleepy it didn’t occur to him. (When Owen came out of his anesthesia,  he WAS MAD! He was screaming,  “I’m ANGRY!” And kind of growling.)

We kept talking to him and he would kind of open his eyes, but then he’d try to close them and turn on his side to sleep again. If we asked him questions he’d stare off. Instead of trying to talk he’d give us a thumbs up or down. I was just really struck by how he didn’t try to talk. I think if he wasn’t talking because of throat pain, he would have tried making sounds, but he never did until later.

It was about 20 minutes until he was keeping his eyes open completely. He was still staring off though. I had been trying to give him ice, but he only wanted a couple pieces before shaking his head. He gave thumbs up to wanting a popsicle. But barely ate it. He finally talked and said he wanted to go home. Then he noticed Scott was gone (to the pharmacy)and he got upset and tearful thinking he left without him, but he calmed quickly and never really cried.

Scott came back & we got Easton changed back into his pjs.
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I tried to sneak a picture while we were waiting for Scott to get the car and as soon as Easton saw my phone he couldn’t help but smile… like a reflex!
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This is how he looked through most of recovery, but he was in a hospital gown.
Then Scott left again to move the car. They brought a wheelchair and had him sit on my lap. It was reminiscent of being wheeled out with all of my babies in my arms after they were born, but 35+ pounds heavier and not as happy an occasion. I snuck a selfie:
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On the way home Easton puked up the little bit of his popsicle that he ate, and I was irritated they didn’t prepare us for that. With Macy, they gave us a little throw up bag. I just wasn’t even thinking about it this time.
We got home and he went straight to bed for almost 2 hours. We woke him up to give him his pain medicine and some juice. He then got out of bed. He came into the family room and had a push pop:
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He was feeling fine, good even:
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The rest of the afternoon & evening he had another popsicle, drank his juice & played video games. At 7ish, he told me he was hungry. I gave him Jello. He wanted eggs, so I scrambled 2 eggs and he ate them all! He then wanted pudding, which I hadn’t made yet. So I made it. I asked him if his throat hurt and he said, “Just a little, because if it was a lot I would be crying.”
Then he ran around the kitchen while I was cleaning up, acting completely normal and healthy. He was talking my ear off. He wanted to know when the pudding would be cool enough to eat. I put it in the freezer to speed it along.
Scott put him to bed at 8:15, after he happily ate his pudding. He fell right asleep. He had kept him on the recommended drug schedule of every 3 hours, alternating Vicoden and Advil. The discharge papers recommended waking him during he night, the first few nights, for pain medicine. We planned for a 1am dose. When we tried to give it to him, he REALLY didn’t want it. Especially because it was the bad tasting Vicoden. So we talked him into at least the Advil. I mean, come on, he had to take something after we set alarms and woke him and accidentally,  Owen. So he did finally take the Advil.

He woke for the day at 6:30, acting and feeling fine. We weren’t sure if he was feeling so good all day yesterday because we’d kept good medicine in him, or if his throat was still numb from the surgery, or if he was just A Stud about pain. Regardless, we were ready for today to be worse. I remember the morning being horrible after my surgery because sleeping made the scabs dry up and really hurt. But it wasn’t an issue for Easton.
He drank some juice, had a pudding and some Tylenol and played Disney Infinity all morning. After an hour or so he started to act a little “off” for him. He was easily frustrated with the video game and protested a little bit about eating some eggs, but that was it. We let his friend from next door come over to play video games with him and they had popsicles and laughed and you would never have known he had surgery the day before.
We are so proud of how he’s handled this whole thing. I think we’ve learned a bit about pre-judging our kids. I realize things can still go to hell, but I just don’t think they will, at this point. I am really looking forward to seeing Easton completely healed and what long-term benefits this surgery will provide.

Tonsils and Adenoids, Oh My!

Easton on Easter 2014

Easton on Easter 2014

My little guy Easton will be having surgery on Wednesday. He will have his adenoids and tonsils removed. I am a wreck about it. He’s not the first in the family to have this done. Owen had his tonsils and adenoids removed when he was 5, in 2008; I had my tonsils removed in the fall of 2012; and Macy had her tonsils removed when she was 12, in December of 2012. And I think that is what is making this worse for me. I KNOW what he is in for, and therefore, what WE are in for.

With Owen, I was blissfully unaware of what to expect. And he was easy! He had– and has– an unbelievable pain tolerance. It was bad for 3-4 days. And then he rapidly improved. His surgery was very necessary because his tonsils were so large that they caused him to snore so loudly and stop breathing in his sleep.

With me, I was MISERABLE for 14 days. It was so bad that I SWORE I would never subject one of my kids to this again! I felt horribly guilty for having put Owen through it, even though I knew it was medically necessary. I regretted doing it to myself also. I second guessed how bad my tonsils were to begin with, even though they were pretty darn bad. I didn’t feel normal again for at least a month after the surgery.

Next, with Macy, it was a difficult decision. Her surgery was authorized for an unconventional reason: tonsil stones. Her tonsils were much larger than average, and very cryptic. These holes in her tonsils would produce a ball of bacteria puss that she could feel in the back of her throat. These things were such an ordeal for her. She would act like a cat with a hair ball: coughing and choking and gagging until one would dislodge. This would happen 3-5 times a week. Many times it happened at school, especially when she was playing her instrument. It was so embarrassing for her. Then she would be tasked with trying to discreetly dispose of this smelly, gross, bacteria puss ball. The doctor was very sympathetic. He said that the tonsil stones would probably get worse as she got older if her tonsils continued to grow. He said that some people would unexpectedly have these tonsil stones go shooting out of their mouths at inappropriate and inopportune times, with no warning whatsoever!! He explained how bad the recovery from surgery would be, but he guaranteed she would never have another tonsil stone again. He said that at 12 years old she was old enough to decide for herself if she wanted the surgery. I’ll be honest, I tried to talk her out of it. I knew how bad it was. But she wanted to go ahead with it. Her recovery was closer to my experience. She was miserable for almost a full 2 weeks. She regretted her decision to have the surgery. But then she got better, her throat healed, and she was glad she would never have another tonsil stone again.

So that brings me to Easton. Why does he need this surgery? Since he turned 3 I have brought up his speech at his yearly well-check. And 2 years in a row we have gone for speech therapy evaluations. Each time being told that he has some delays, but they are within normal for his age. For over 3 years, I have watched as people look to me to “translate” what he is saying to them or constantly ask him to repeat something. It was so sad! Lately, if someone would ask him “What?” he would say, “Forget it.” It was frustrating for him and heartbreaking for me. He had ideas that he couldn’t convey and gave up trying! So I continued to advocate for him. At his 5 year well-check, I brought it up again and the doctor ordered another speech therapy evaluation (his third in 3 years!) and a hearing test. The hearing test came first. The tech who did it was amazing! Turns out, he had one when he was 3 too that I forgot about. But even though he technically passed both tests, she noted that he had trouble hearing a certain range both times. She went back and read a note on the first test that said he had a cold when tested and probably had fluid in his ears. This time he didn’t currently have a cold, but had the same results. She looked in his ears and did not see any fluid, even though his current result also looked like he could have it. She asked me about his speech issues. She asked me about how many colds he gets (A LOT… almost continual colds). Then she said, “My ‘Mommy Senses’ are telling me that something more is going on with him. I’m going to have the ENT doctor look at him, even though I normally don’t refer patients who technically pass.” So a week later we see the pediatric ENT who agreed with the hearing test tech. He was quite confident that it was Easton’s adenoids that were pushing on his eustachian tubes and causing the hearing issues and thus, the speech issues, and also the reason he was sick all the time. The doctor also commented that the entire time Easton was in the exam room, he breathed 100% with his mouth open, which I never thought about, but he always does. He said that is a sign of enlarged adenoids and that it can lead to other issues with his palate development and teeth. He ordered an x-ray to confirm, but scheduled the surgery before getting the results, he was that confident. He recommended taking his tonsils at the same time because his were enlarged and because of our strong family history of tonsil issues. He said he might as well do both now, than have to do a second surgery later. I reluctantly agreed. A few days later the doctor emailed to inform us that the x-ray showed that Easton’s adenoids were extremely enlarged and blocking 80-85% of his nasal passage. My poor guy! No wonder he was having so many issues.

So here we are, less than 33 hours away from Easton’s surgery. And I am so sad for him. Not only does he not have anywhere close to the pain tolerance Owen had at his age, he has a completely different personality. Where Owen was a loud, outgoing, and carefree 5 year old; Easton is a shy, sensitive, and often-times anxious 5 year old. He already hates going to the doctor because of shots and blood draws, how is he going to react to this?

We finally told him tonight and he predictably FREAKED OUT. He hid under the table. Said he wasn’t going to do it. And cried. We tried to find out what he was really scared of, but it really came down to all of the unknowns of it. I tried to give him more information, using age-appropriate language, but he wasn’t even able to listen without getting more upset. We talked to him about all the popsicles and ice cream he will get to eat afterwards, but he wasn’t listening. The best thing was just to stop talking about it and move on to something else. I hope that he’ll try to process it over the next 24 hours and maybe have some questions that we can calmly answer for him. I have accepted that he’s never going to be excited or happy to go, but this surgery is necessary to improve his quality of life, and it is my job as his mom to just get him to it and then get him through it. It is not about me. It is about him. And he will be fine.

The One Where My Son is Joey

Owen, almost 11, uses finger quotes incorrectly and inappropriately all the time. He did it today and it reminded me of the time he did it in such a spectacular fashion that I just knew I had to write about it. Because, before this incident, I would have never thought the use of air quotes could cause me to feel such rage. I mean, come on, they’re just a finger gesture, right?

On Sunday October, 20, 2013, Owen fell while playing football in the street. He hit the back of head so hard he sustained a mild concussion. Part of his discharge instructions called for a week of “Brain Rest.” (Those are real quotes, not finger quotes… yet.) Brain Rest involves complete rest of the brain. That means no reading, writing, tv, or electronics. He was allowed to return to school on the third day, but he was just supposed to listen. (Although, now that I think about this, doesn’t listening use the brain too? I don’t know now. It made sense at the time. It was so he wouldn’t get too far behind in his school work.) Our pediatrician was very adamant about the benefits of Brain Rest because she had just gone to a seminar about it. I guess it is a new-ish recommendation and not yet universal. It is supposed to speed the healing of the brain.

Owen returned to school on Wednesday. He, of course, was very excited about not having to do any work. I walked him to school in the morning to explain to his teacher in person Owen’s restrictions and give him the doctor’s note in person. The teacher was fine about it and we discussed some new deadlines for projects and things. It didn’t seem like a big deal at all.

When Owen came home from school I asked him how his day went. He said it was fine and that he was bored most of the day. He then told me a story about how the principal came and sat next to him during class. She asked him about what he did to get a concussion. She also asked him about what “Brain Rest” was. Owen used finger quotes. Then he said he felt like the principal didn’t believe he was really hurt. He laughed it off, as Owen does. He thinks everything is amusing or funny in someway. He was in no way offended at the idea that the principal didn’t believe him.

But I was! What I took from her conversation with Owen is that she wanted to know if he was really hurt and if “Brain Rest” (FINGER QUOTES!) was a real thing. I was so irate! We gave them a doctor’s note! The doctor’s note explained what his Brain Rest restrictions were. If she had a question about this she should have called us! How dare she! I called my husband to bitch about this principal. I talked to my mom about it. I was really worked up about it. THE NERVE of her.

The next day, Owen overheard me retelling the story to a friend. And at the part when I talk about the principal using finger quotes, he interrupted, “Um, Mommy, Mrs. XYZ didn’t use finger quotes when I talked to her. I just did that when I told you the story. Is that bad?”

Yep, that’s my Joey Owen. I have tried to teach him the correct use, but it has so far proved impossible. I just completely discourage his use of them at all.

Finger quotes

Owen Easter 2014

 

Christmas Gift List

I am already in full “stress about everything I have to do for Christmas” mode and it is only the day after Thanksgiving. So naturally I wasted spent some time today creating a perfectly formatted list to help with my Christmas shopping and planning. I am so happy with my list. Look how pretty it is:

Macy

Santa Gift:

Pjs:

Want

Need

Wear

Read

 

Owen

Santa Gift:

Pjs:

Want

Need

Wear

Read

 

Easton

Santa Gift:

Pjs:

Want

Need

Wear

Read

 

Gemma

Santa Gift:

Pjs:

Want

Need

Wear

Read

 

**edited: bummed the formatting doesn’t look right here on wordpress. Trust me, it is a really cool looking tables within a table that I did in Word. I love to make tables within table in Word.**

I wanted to start a new tradition to help simplify the gifts we get for the kids. I had heard years ago about buying gifts that fit in the category of something they WANT, something they NEED, something to WEAR, and something to READ. I liked that idea and  decided to add 2: the gift from Santa and our traditional new pajamas that they get to open on Christmas Eve.

I ran the idea past Scott and he was fine with it. Not too jazzed on the READ, one, but what can I say… I guess I know where Owen gets it. Then I tried to get him to help me fill in some ideas. (Sigh) Not as easy as it would seem. I wasn’t even worried about the WEAR and READ boxes, because I those ones are easy for me to knock out while at the mall.

We did manage to come up with a decent plan. The funniest thing is that Macy is incredibly hard to buy for and Owen is remarkably easy. Such a testament to their personalities. Macy is simple and deliberate and doesn’t like wasteful things and really does not care about clothes. On the other hand, Owen is happy-go-lucky and wants EVERYTHING! Literally, the boy would be happy with

ANY.NEW.THING. A ball? “Cool, Let’s go play!” Legos? “Nice, can we build it now?” Electronics? “Yes please!” And he is always needing new gear for baseball. This year he needs a new batting helmet and glove. He is just easy to buy for. Easton and Gemma are pretty easy also. The hardest thing with them is not getting things with a lot of parts or that take up a lot of space or that they will only play with for a limited time. Which seems kind of limiting, but really isn’t if I put some careful thought into it.

So after I finalize my plan for what we are going to get the kids, I have to come up with MORE ideas for what my parents can get for the kids. And I already gave my grandma a list for what she can buy. I know we are so lucky, too lucky, in fact. I love that we have people who love my kids enough to buy them gifts, I just wish they didn’t have to buy “STUFF.” Consumerism at its best, for sure.

Christmas Tree with Lots of Presents Picture 2...

Christmas Tree with Lots of Presents Picture 2 of 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thoughts on Photography

the family 2013

For the past 4 years I have hired a photographer to take family pictures of us. I couldn’t hire the same photographer again this year because she is more than we can now afford, so I found someone more affordable. The lesson I have learned this year is quite simple: You get what you pay for.

It is not that these picture are horrible, they are just OK. But after years of wonderful portraits, these are disappointing. Some are not very good in a technical sense (ie: parts out of focus, people/objects in the background, wrong meter setting, etc.).

This new photographer bragged that she gives us all the unedited photos, in addition to the 50 she edits. I have learned the hard way that this is not necessarily a good thing. It has taken me hours to go through them. Some are so bad, she should have been embarrassed to include them– I would have been embarrassed, had I been the photographer.

Most of the ones she edited are ones that I would have picked. But then she went a little crazy in Photoshop. Step away from the fake sun rays, lady. And white teeth are nice, but Ross-white is too white (Friends reference). And, I love my kids’ blue eyes the way they are; it is not necessary to turn them into cyborgs.

Artistry cannot be taught. She missed some great shots during our shoot. Un-posed, candid, wonderful shots that I tried to call her attention to, but that she didn’t “see” or was too late to capture it after I said something.

So I have spent hours going through all the photos (over 900) and trying to edit the ones I like better. I really wish I was better at Photoshop (I only have Photoshop Elements), but I am doing the best I can.

I now have to decide if I am going to continue to look for another photographer for next year, or if I should just go with the more expensive one who I love and trust. Maybe I can try and use her every other year.

The kids 2013    Gemma portrait

 

(The three pictures I included in this post are the VERY best of the bunch. I am happy with these three. With my previous photographer I had 20 that I loved and was happy with.)

Easton’s Thankful Art

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Easton came home from preschool yesterday with this amazing drawing. For me the most amazing thing is he drew it! He has only been interested in writing and drawing for a few weeks. Up until this new interest, he would get frustrated and angry when his drawings or letters didn’t look as he wanted them to. So he didn’t want to even try.

I’m so glad he is mostly over that now. He is initiating drawing on his own several times a week now and asks how to spell words all the time.

His above masterpiece is our family. Starting from the left it is Easton, Macy, Owen, Daddy, and me (with big, monkey-like ears, “Those are your earrings!”). Gemma is the small thing on the bottom. She is laying on the grass.

I love that Easton’s confidence is growing enough for him to be comfortable to try new things. I look forward to years of more masterpieces!