Thursday, November 29, 2007

I was thinking this evening

As we ran a quick trip to Target, I watched L run around smiling and chatting, including the obligatory request for candy at the checkout. If we had mentioned to any of the other shoppers that L had just had open heart surgery Monday, they would have taken one look at L and declared us liars with an expression of horror that we would make up such an obvious falsehood.

She's only complained twice today of a little pain and only slowed down a little this morning. Tonight I gave her a shower, which is not her favorite activity. She has a small dark spot where they ran her central line in her arm and a few little scratches. She has the surgical tape over her main incision and tape and gauze over the stitches from the drainage tube. I thought about taking the tape and gauze off, but I peeked at the spot underneath it and decided it could stay for a little longer. Did I mention that I'm a total wuss about blood? Or anything that might possibly have bled within the last...oh...year?

Tonight she is dressed in her princess pajamas, snuggled under her princess sheets and princess blanket and already dreaming princess dreams. On her stomach. That's one brave princess.


I tried to get on from late yesterday afternoon to late last night and couldn't get into the site, so this update is a bit late, but it's still good :-)

We're home!

L was done with all the wires by 10am when they finally disconnected her from the monitor and she spent the rest of the day walking up and down the hall, playing and doing crafts in the playroom, roaming around her room, and generally reveling in her freedom. She fell twice, the second she fell hard, caught herself with her arms, and learned the hard way that it really hurts to do that! It didn't make her much more cautious though and we still spent the day telling her "don't run!" and "don't sit like that" and "don't jump down". 3-year-olds just don't know what's good for them.

The hospital finally got the chest x-ray and all the paperwork done and let us go about 5pm. W took L home, and Mom, K and I stopped by Target to pick up L's prescriptions. Target had the pain killer, but they didn't have the diuretic, so they found it at another pharmacy across town. I dropped Mom and K off at home, picked up W and our insurance card and raced over to the over pharmacy, getting there 1 minute before they closed. Whew! It was such a neat little mom-and-pop place and they were so nice.

On the way home, we stopped at OTB and had a quiet dinner where W and I could finally just relax and talk. We picked up Mom some ice cream on the way home, then we all collapsed in bed, so incredibly thankful to have *everyone* home.

This morning, L is happy, but she's hurting a bit and has been content to sit still. She's still her ornery self and just told me, "Water doesn't make me feel good. I want juice!" Of course, Your Highness.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm about to break out into song

In college I was in a musical, Fiddler on the Roof. After spending a huge part of every day one summer in rehearsals, the songs are pretty well ingrained into me. There's one this morning that keeps ringing through my head.

Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles
I was afraid that God would frown.
But just like He did so long ago in Jericho,
God just made a wall fall down.

Why this one? Because about 7:30 this morning, the surgeon and PA came in, popped out that chest tube (which caused one little squeak outta L which Dr. B said was the best any kid has ever done), and announced that if we pushed, L gets to go home this afternoon! The last labs were drawn around 5am, she just finished her last round of antibiotics, and then she can get off the rest of her tethers and go for a walk and to the playroom for activities and to the cafeteria for lunch.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day 2 and a Regular Room

This morning found Lydia sitting up in bed, watching Finding Nemo, and eating a big breakfast. She was exactly alert and happy, but she was a whole huge lot better than yesterday. She spent most of the night falling asleep, turning over to her side, trying to turn over on her stomach and getting mad that the nurse wouldn't let her, crying while they turned her over on her back, then falling asleep again. Repeat. Over and over again.

She has had most of her lines and tubes removed, including the pace maker wires, so we have no more worries about rhythm issues. She's down to the one chest tube and an IV line sticking out of her left forearm, but it's not attached to anything. She has an oxygenation monitor on her finger and some sticker monitors on her chest to measure her heart rate and breathing and that's it.

She was moved to the step-down unit after a little less than 24 hours in the CVRU and has been waking up more every minute. She finally got a set of child-sized hospital pajamas, she's sitting up, drinking water, eating graham crackers, and reading princess books with Daddy.

Now the issue is that she's getting far more interested in the stuff attached to her and the buttons on the bed. She's still too weak to do much about them, but it won't be long :-)

If you'd like to come visit, give us a call and I'll let you know the room number. Our cell phones actually work in here, so we can be reached.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Quick Update from the First Day

The CVRU people have been so wonderful and have allowed us to stay with L every moment. Which means that I haven't had time to post. I did want to post a quick update no before I fall over from exhaustion, allergies, and stress.

L did very well in today and is progressing as expected. She has earned herself a reputation for being a determined little fighter, though. When we walked in, there were 3 people around her trying to hold her down. Her arms were strapped to the bed, but she still managed to get her hands on her breathing tube and tried to yank it out. They quickly decided it wasn't necessary and removed it. The first thing out of her mouth was "Wake up!" as in I want to wake up and get out of this bed. Every few minutes she fought and struggled, then she would calm down and sleep for a few minutes, then start over. She managed to pull out her catheter and once she got herself turned over onto her hands and knees, which hurt (obviously) and couldn't get herself righted. They have since kept her fairly well sedated with pain killers and something to stop the agitation. She finally calmed down enough that they removed the restraints, one IV, and the forehead sticker that measures the oxygenation of the blood to the brain (technology's amazing).

She slept most of the afternoon and evening and was still out of it, but they said she ought to be awake and demanding breakfast in the morning.

A Successful Surgery

We just got the news that L is out of surgery. Dr. B said things went very well. They were able to do just the partial sternotomy (incision only on the lower part of her chest) and repair the 4mm hole using a patch from the pericardium. The post-repair EKG showed all the valves and rhythms operating exactly as they are supposed to be and there were no issues with bleeding.

They were getting her ready for transport to the recovery unit and they'll call us in about an hour when they get her settled, so we can see her.

Praise God.

First Update

We got up very, very early, grabbed the bags and the daughter and made our way across town to the hospital. I learned the interesting fact that there are lots of traffic lights near us that flash yellow at that hour.

They led us back to the pre-op area where they provided L with markers and told her to *write on the sheet*. Hello?!? Don't teach her that! After awhile they came back in with a medicine cup with a tiny bit of liquid in for her to drink. Within minutes after drinking that stuff, L was tottering around. The nurse anesthetist brought the wagon piled it with blankets and tried to sit her in it and buckle her in. Trust me the buckle was required since the child was floppy by that point. They finally just laid her down and she disappeared down the hall wearing a goofy grin and working hard at her princess wave.

The child life specialist escorted Grandma, W, and I off to the special waiting room where there's an attendant at the desk who passes on updates from the OR. We got our first update at 8:15. They had made the first incision at 7:45am and things are going well so far.

I had brought 2 books, my laptop (very important), the Christmas cards to address, and sundry other little tasks to keep busy. So far, it's been tough to find time to even post this update as we've had several visitors drop by and keep us company. I did have to make a trip to the cafeteria, which by the way is a soft drink mecca. They have almost any drink you could possibly hope to find on tap. I left with a Coke and a bagel. My stomach feels queasy either from drainage or nerves, probably a little from column A and a little from column B. My new BFF, Sondra, brought me a 1/2lb bar of "therapy" chocolate. Gosh, I love her.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Praying Specifically

I am a firm believer in praying specifically, so here are some of the details that need some special attention.

Dr. Baird, the surgeon, and all the doctors, PAs, nurses, and specialists who will be involved in the surgery and care.

The possible complications. The main possibilities are bleeding, infection, and something called heart block. The repair will be made very close to the part of the heart that regulates the heartbeat. Sometimes this part doesn't take too well to surgery and becomes...a little confused. This could mean a permanent pacemaker. Pray that we don't have to go there.

K. She's a worrier and is very concerned about all this and she needs some extra assurance.

Health for the rest of the us so that we can focus on the needs of the girls during this time.

L. Obviously. For her comfort and sense of security. For her body to handle all of the incredible stresses it will need to endure.

I'll try to keep you guys posted on what's happening as I can. We're incredibly thankful to know that so many people are praying and for the many, many offers to help. Our biggest need right now is prayer. Don't worry, if something else comes up, we'll be asking :-)

I *think* we have dodged the bullet known as The Stomach Flu

W is slowly recovering and is being very sweet about the forced quarantine. I know he's bored and tired of being sick and I'm grateful that he's still been so nice.

K tossed her cookies once last night, was sent to bed, slept all night, and woke up chipper and hungry this morning. She's had 2 meals and has been feeling fine all day, so it looks like an incredibly light case.

L complained most of yesterday afternoon and evening that her tummy hurt. I'm still halfway convinced that she just wanted some of those pretty pink pills that smelled so good that I gave K her *her* tummy ache. As soon as she saw K hurl all over the carpet and get put to bed, L MIRACULOUSLY experienced a full and complete recovery.

Mom and I have continued fairly well. My stomach most of yesterday, but it recovered and I've felt fine today. If you had seen us all yesterday, you would agree that it is *only* because of divine intervention that we're all healthy today. Thank you to all those who were praying.

Today has been busy with showing Grandma where the dentist is, doing laundry, and taking pictures for our Christmas cards (well, what better time than this week to address all those cards?). We've still got one more trip to Target (gotta pick up those cards. Did you know you can make your cards online and pick them up in an hour at your local Target? Way cool.), put together all the school stuff and show Grandma where everything is, pack up clothes and toys for the hospital, and deliver K to her friends who are watching her tonight and during the surgery tomorrow.

We're getting closer.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Aaack!! Nooooo!!

Grandma arrived yesterday, we are down to 2 days pre-surgery and W was up all night last night with a terrible stomach virus. We *cannot, cannot, cannot* have it spread it any further. If L gets it, the surgery will be postponed and did I mention that Grandma has already traveled 1,000 miles to be here? W is quarantined to the bedroom and I'm sending Grandma and the girls out so I can disinfect the rest of the house. So pray that the bug will die a quick death, W will experience a miraculous recovery, and the rest of us will continue in radiant good health.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy 100 posts!

Ok, so it's not an official holiday, but it is a celebration :-) Celebrating the fact that I like to write. A lot. In honor of this momentous occasion, I wanted to take on a little blogger tradition. Don't worry, it's a tradition you will love.

It's called The Giveaway.

Don't you just love it already?

At the last MOPS meeting, we made a very cool craft, one that I had seen and had wondered how in the world it was done. It's a purse-sized photo album that will have your family and friends oohing and aahing over the clever little album just as much as they will ooh and aah over your beautiful family in the photos.

This is the outside, It's about 4

Inside it's covered with pictures of my kids. See how the pictures are cut to accommodate the triangle folds?

You can even put more photos on the back for more viewing pleasure.

I was so impressed with these little books that I went home and made 3 more. Fabulous Christmas gifts, shower gifts, "I have no idea what to get you, but I'm sure you'd love one of these" gifts. Then it hit me, this would be a fabulous 100th Blog Post Giveaway item!

So here are the 3 I have made up (and I will be making more).

To enter the contest, leave me a comment on this post saying which album you like the best. Tomorrow evening I will pick a random number and post the results after 6pm. If you're not the winner and you'd still like an album, I could probably be persuaded to sell you one for $5 in the colors of your choice. Because they would make great gifts, but no, I won't put your pictures in for you. Unless you pay me extra, because I can be bought like that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Pre-Op Results

The day started with the friend who was supposed to watch K during the pre-op appointment emailing me to let me know that one of her kids is still sick. Since we can't risk exposing L to anything, we had to find someone else. Thankfully, I have great friends who stepped up and we found a fun place for K to spend the afternoon.

We arrived at the clinic only to find that the receptionist seemed to have no idea who we were. After a little sojourn in their waiting room, they sent us over to the hospital where we waited in yet another waiting room *for a long time*. We finally got escorted up to the pre-op area where we met the PA, the anesthesiologist, some of the nurses, and the child life specialist. We filled out paperwork and got the run-down on what to expect before, during, and after surgery. L was also given an EKG, chest x-ray, and had a few tubes of blood drawn. After 3 1/2 hours, we finally headed out.

So here's the plan. We arrive at the hospital at 5:15am and report to the front desk where we'll be escorted back up to pre-op. They'll give L a drink that'll make her rather loopy (that'll be fun) so they can hook up some of the lines and tubes that are needed before the surgery begins. The surgery will be about 4 hours long--only 15-20 min. are required for the actual VSD repair, the rest is all the opening and closing.

After the surgery she'll be moved to the recovery room and ICU. She'll be kept partly sedated since she'll rival a Borg with all the tubes and wires running in and out of her. Can you imagine a 3-year-old *not* pulling all those out? We'll only be allowed short visits, but she'll have a nurse assigned exclusively to her full-time. By the next day or so, most of the tubes will be out and we'll move to a step-down room where we'll be allowed (required) to stay with her. After a few days there, we can go home. L will have to watched pretty closely for a little while for fever and such and to make sure that she doesn't rough-house or fall and try to catch herself with her arms. After all, the breastbone will have just been separated and it takes 4-6 weeks for a broken bone to heal. We also have to keep her away from germs as much as possible; I can't even imagine coughing or throwing up after all that!

Let's swimming or hot tubs. Showers are good, but we can't let her stand and have water pouring on her chest for long. No picking her up under the arms. No dance class, Sunday School, Bible Study, or anything else where she could pick up germs or fall. Really, it's a pretty good time to do this since most activities are off over Christmas and we won't miss as much as any other time of year.

The child life specialist (that's a person who's sole job is to distract the patient during tests, keep them occupied and entertained, and just make sure that the whole hospital stay goes well for them) brought L a book that explains the whole procedure, with illustrations so that the parents and kids understand what's happening. I was looking through it tonight with K and L and they had lots of questions (K: "All those tubes look freaky!" and "Why is that in her neck?"; L: "Why is she sleeping on her bed?").

As we got ready to pray at bedtime, L reminded me not to forget to pray for "my hospital my heart". She knows that something's going on, that she's going to the hospital, and that they're going to fix her heart, but she's not real clear on what that means. K has a much better grasp on the details and she's worried about her little sister. My friend who watched her this afternoon said she was very quiet and thoughtful today, so I think we're going to have to do some extra explaining and reassuring. Thankfully, Grandma will be here to distract her and keep her routine going.

The Perks of Blogging

Since I discovered the blogging community, I also discovered that many bloggers get lots of cool opportunities, like free music, books, and trips to concerts and stuff. The very next thing on my mind was, of course, how do I get in on the fun? I mean, how cool is FREE???

I found one fun way this morning. The Michael W. Smith camp has found a fabulous way to market his new Christmas CD. It's fabulous not only because it takes advantage of the growing blogosphere for (almost free) publicity, but because I can get a free CD! Did I mention I like free?

So the MWS camp is hopefully sending me a copy of his new CD and all I have to do is write a blog entry about how I listened to the CD while my wonderful family spent a peaceful afternoon decorating our home with heirloom ornaments and enjoying wassail. Of course, I'm sure it'll be more of a comedy of errors than a painting from Currier & Ives *LOL*

If you'd like to join in the free fun, you can follow the link below for details.

mws banner

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

You know that you are loved when...

...your mother offers to fly to your rescue the day after Thanksgiving and of her own free will put up with all the airport craziness that will no doubt be happening.

Mom had always planned to come out and help when L had her surgery; we just didn't expect it to happen quite this soon. The whole, "Hey, you're free, we're free, let's do this now" thing threw a few complications into that plan. After all, Mom's a teacher and it can get a bit crazy when she's not there.

Since we weren't expecting Mom, we made plans for K to stay with friends so we could be free to stay with L at the hospital. Then Mom called back and said she just can't imagine not being here while L has open heart surgery and she's planning to fly out. She's coming out and taking care of K while we're at the hospital, even doing all the homeschool stuff and taking her to her dentist appointment. She even got just a one-way ticket so she can stay as long as we need her.

Thanks, Mom.

I must confess my newest addiction

I'm at close to 100 posts on this here blog, but my comment count is at like...5. Maybe. So I was getting a little depressed wondering if anyone was really visiting my little corner of the Internet or if I was just tossing my words into the void. Not that it really mattered since I'm just having fun writing it and I've heard that my sister reads it aloud to her office (hey, guys! I'm waving at you!) and my aunt prints it off and takes it to my grandmother (hello, Aunt Teresa and Grandmother!). Other than that, well, who knew.

I finally broke down and added a site meter to my blog. For the uninitiated in the blog world, it's a little program that keeps track of when the site gets visited and where it's getting visited from. Did you know that people from countries like Taiwan (we won't even get into the political issue of whether it's part of China or not) and Brazil have visited this blog? And then there's all kinds of people from around the States. It's addictive to watch.

The best part of it all is the fact that YOU can share in this fun! If you click on the sitemeter icon at the bottom of the page, you too can see who's visiting and where they're from. There's even a option to view it on a world map. Lots of bloggy fun and it's all for free.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dear L,

You seem to be feeling over-tired this morning and are not acting like your normal sunny self. This is the second time today (and we haven't even had lunch yet) that you've been exiled to your room where I can hear the sounds of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, or at least some kicks to the floor. You *know* without a shadow of a doubt that this behavior is unacceptable and gets you into trouble, yet you still allow yourself to lose complete control of yourself and dissolve into a tantrum. Not even a spanking with the Kool-Aid spoon could break into your self-pity party. The worst part is you don't even have a really good reason for it. I don't even remember what set you off this morning, but right now you're screaming because you can't find your dress, which, by the way, is sitting right here at my feet. I would tell you this, but you have yet to ask or stop screaming long enough to listen.

And just so you know, I see a nap in your near future.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Being Intentional

I'm trying very hard to teach my daughters some basic social skills. For example, when you enter a house, don't comment on the odor no matter how much it makes your eyes burn.

My current focus with K is introductions. There are a few basic pieces of info that are important to find out early in the acquaintance. Like someone's name. She tends to strike up friendships and never bother to ask the other person the most basic question. Asking and forgetting is one thing, but never asking...well...

Yesterday K and L went outside to skate and as I watched them from the window, I saw them stand and talk to a boy for a few minutes. I didn't recognize him, but he was obviously around K's age and was soon hurried away by his father (he was only supposed to take out the trash and come right back - oops!). When the girls came in, I asked about the boy and K was happy to inform me that he is almost exactly 1 month younger than her. So she knew his birthday, but hadn't thought to ask his name, what grade he was in, etc. I was going to get onto her about her manners, but then she floored me.

"Mom, he said he knows God, knows about him, but he doesn't go to church here yet. He just moved here. I know what God wants me to do. God put me here to invite that boy to my church."

Now that's getting to the heart of the matter. If only we could be so bold as to directly inquire about a person's relationship with God as absolutely the most important information we could possibly have. There are so many people I've known for years and I have yet to find the courage to ask that one simple question, "Where do you stand with God?" Not so I can be judgmental, pushy, or preachy; just so I can be an encouragement. Encourage others to think about where they really stand and where they want to stand. Is their knowledge of God limited to half-remembered lessons from childhood or an idea they've come up with or is it based on a personal knowledge of the Bible?

If you don't have a firm conviction of where you stand in regard to God, please take the time to read His Word for yourself, pray about it, and make a commitment. The Bible tells us we have to make a decision during our lifetime, because after death, it will be too late. Besides, I want to see you all again in heaven.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Book Cover

My first published story is coming out in a compilation book on March 1. Today I got the cover art work and I thought I'd share. And maybe drum up some excitement and find another mom or two who might be interested in going to the National Conference with me in mid-March (hint hint). I haven't ordered tickets or reserved a room, but I do admit that I'm cherishing a little dream of going. Maybe doing a little book know. So if anyone wants to take the 12-hour drive with me and see the sights of Normal, IL (because I actually have to *go* somewhere to experience "normal"), just let me know.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Date is Set and *Soon*

Monday, November 26 7:30am

The visit with the surgeon went very well today. He explained everything why they wanted to do the surgery, including the problems they could already see and future problems that would come into play without the surgery. He also explained what we can expect to happen before, during, and after the surgery. So this is the plan.

Next Wednesday - Pre-op appointment

The following Monday - We show up at the hospital around 4:30/5 am, the surgery will start at 7:30am and should be finished around lunchtime. She will be in ICU for the next 24-48 hours.

After ICU, she'll be moved to a regular room where she'll stay for the next 2-3 days. She could check-out anytime between Thursday and the following Monday depending on how she's doing. She ought to be back to her usual energy level very, very quickly, so we'll be having to hold her down for a few days. (The surgeon told a story about how one little boy had the surgery one day and the next day was jumping on the bed.)

Once we go home, she will take a water pill for about 2 weeks, then we'll go back to the surgeon for a follow-up. That'll be followed by a few check-ups with the cardiologist, then she'll be cleared to live a normal life.

It was rather surprising to have it happen so quickly. The surgeon wanted to do it soon, but it was not urgent. The calendar simply happened to be clear as I guess people weren't exactly anxious to schedule surgery during the holidays. At least it's less time to sit and fret and worry and prepare.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Belated Halloween Pictures

Considering that we're almost to Thanksgiving, I figured I'd give you a trip down memory lane and show off the girls' Halloween costumes. Since we were in TX and I had to fit stuff the costumes in the luggage with the rest of our clothes, they were pretty lucky that they *had* costumes to wear. All in all, they did turn out pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

Supporting Authors

A friend of mine just published an e-book (which means you order it and *presto*! It shows up moments later in your inbox ready to read) and I wanted to give her a little free publicity. I love Marybeth (even though she's too busy writing and wrangling 6 kids to learn to sew *LOL*) and her new book looks fabulous. She just posted the news that she was even *writing* a book last night, much less actually had it available for purchase, so I hope I can be forgiven for not having read it already :-)

It's a Christmas book chock-full of recipes, ideas, instructions, and all kinds of fun tidbits. If you'd like to learn more about it and, heck, order copies for all your family and friends, visit Marybeth's site at

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Arithmetic Lesson for Today

Roller Skating + To Bed Late + Gummi Lightning Bugs for breakfast (don't ask) = 1 Crazy 3-year-old

L had a dentist appointment this morning and thankfully the dentist was a mom of a 3-year-old and she was completely understanding. The dentist thought L was the cutest thing ever because even though she was acting crazy, she had turned the charm all the way up to 11. We left with only a quick tooth count and check and we'll try again in 6 months for the x-rays and actually, you know, *cleaning* the teeth.

The rest of the day was spent trying to keep L from throwing things at her sister, breaking things, and hitting the cat. I finally just exiled her to her room for the rest of the night since she obviously was having trouble with the whole interaction thing. And I figured if she was being destructive, at least it would be her own stuff she was breaking, not like the antenna on my CD player.

In case you haven't figured it out, gummi lightning bugs are dead to us.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Roller Skating

When you've been hanging around the house doing nothing, getting bored, and you happen upon a message stating that tonight is $2 roller skating to Christian music (and that includes skates!), you go do it! I piled the girls in the car and we went. Heck, how else can you risk your precious children's life and limbs to tire them out so quickly so cheaply? Of course, this was before I saw that gas is $3.05 a gallon and started thinking this little outing might not be quite so cheap as I thought!

We get there and discover that the 3-year-old is free - woohoo! So for $2 we got 2 pairs of skates, 2 completely exhausted girls, any number of bumps and bruises, and a whole lot of fun. Even L was doing fabulously skating on the carpet and in the tiny practice area for little skaters. I'm thinking we might have to do that more often. I was momentarily tempted to get some skates for myself, but then I saw another mama walk in with a large bag embroidered with the word "Jordache" and I figured I was outta my league.

Educational Games

Our family has an addiction. It's called Pogo, as in

If you haven't found the gaming goodness that is Pogo, consider yourselves hopelessly behind the times. Or blessed. Because it's incredibly addictive. Pogo has a gazillion different games of every variety for every skill level and interest. You can play some of them for free and for a small monthly fee, you can play A WHOLE LOT MORE. It's definitely worth it to play without delays and advertisements that interrupt all that gaming goodness.

We have one paid account that W and I fight over in the evenings. If one person's playing and the other tried to log in, player #1 gets booted off. So we can share the account, but not at the same time.

Lately, the problem has grown since K discovered the greatness of Pogo. There are several games on there she can play and loves to play. And just so you don't think I let my children fritter away their time doing useless video games that turn their minds to mush, I would like to point out that there are many important educational aspects to these games.

Penguin Blocks teaches spatial relationships, planning, and the all important restaurant design skills and menu selection.

Our family's current favorite, Thousand Island Solitaire, teaches valuable math skills and strategies, as well as the basics of shipping and cargo and the value of some good salad dressing.

So next time you have a few hours to (waste) invest, head on over to Pogo and pick up a little more education.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I have a mental To Do list of all those little projects that need to get done sometime, but not right now, just whenever I have some time and energy and motivation, and want to, you know, see the bottom of my closet again, for example.

This morning I tackled one of those projects and I had a fabulous reason for doing so. Yesterday, I was staring dejectedly at the clothes hanging in my closet lamenting the fact that I haven't been particularly motivated in the laundry department this week and I was out of clean pants. Well, except for some really dressy ones and I wasn't in a dressy mood. Well, there was those navy khakis (which doesn't make any sense, I know) which were really too tight. Except, then I started thinking about how my jeans have been getting noticeably looser and I had actually used the absolute smallest setting on my belt yesterday so maybe...

And they fit! They fit well! Score!

So this morning I made the bed so I would have a place to work (otherwise I *never* make my bed...sorry, Mom) and I pulled out all the boxes of out-of-season, I'll-fit-into-this-next-season, and I-hope-I'll-fit-into-this-again-some-season clothes. I rescued another pair of pants and some tops that haven't seen the light of day this year, and longingly gazed on all my cute and still-too-small clothes, refolding and organizing and packing them back into their boxes. Except 2 1/2 garbage bags full of stuff that will just never come back into style (thank goodness!). I did stack the winter clothes on top because I am determined that another few pieces will be rotated back into my wardrobe this season because I *will* keep on the downsizing my waist (and a few other body parts) trend.

Now, I just need to do some laundry.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Wondering how far this will go

Since I posted my tiny rant, I have seen a ton of blog entires and comments around the blogosphere blasting anything coming from China. Maybe it's the fact that many people have either started planning or buying Christmas gifts, so toys are prominent on everyone's radar right now.

Today I got to wondering what the next step is and the possible next step scares me. I fear that the prejudice people are developing toward anything Chinese made will translate into a prejudice against the Chinese people and people of Chinese heritage. Maybe I'm being a bit paranoid, but it's a possibility. Think about it. After 9/11, *anyone* that looked remotely Middle Eastern faced some terrible instances of prejudice, even down to a couple of very sweet Indian girls in my high school English classes. A huge segment of our population were treated like scum because of the actions of a few people. In regards to the recalls, the vast majority of Chinese manufacturers who are doing things right are being tarred with the same brush used on the few that are doing dangerous things. Will our fear and suspicion extend beyond the manufacturing realm and change the way we treat the Chinese people?

It's something to think about.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Vision of a Princess

I think I like this heart clinic

Our cardiologist called as soon as the surgeons meeting could reasonably be over.

The surgeon's people called an hour or so later with an appointment in 1 week, which the absolute earliest we could get in since the surgeon is only in the office there on Thursdays.

I'm liking their efficiency and quick response. I hate dangling on a thread, waiting for others to "get around to it". It's also the premier clinic that everyone knows and trusts, so it's an all around good thing.

And it's a go

We were not kept long in suspense. Dr. B called probably as soon as the surgeons meeting was over and gave the news. The surgeons want to do the surgery. They believe her heart is a larger than her age and size warrant and the hole is large enough that it will be best for her in the long run to have it closed. If it were not closed, there is the probability of long-term damage that would increase her risk of heart problems later in life. Closing the hole will allow the heart to return to its normal size and it will work as well as if she had never had a hole.

So the surgeons' office will call us to schedule the family consultation and we'll decide on a date for the surgery.

A Tiny Rant

Today there is yet another recall in the toy department - the odd looking Aquadots. The newspaper was quick to point out that the toy is manufactured in, where else, China. They then listed all the other toys that have been recently recalled that were also manufactured in China. I have seen so many mean-spirited comments about how we shouldn't buy anything else made in China and it's all China's fault and they're more worried about making money than killing our kids.

Naturally, the newspapers *don't* mention that most of these recalls are for design flaws made in the good ol' USA. The Aquadots thing today is because of a formulation made by the company in Canada. The company decided to use an industrial chemical that the body converts to a date rape drug and the kids go comatose when they decide "Hey! Let's see what these colorful beads that look like M&Ms taste like!" China had nothing to do with it.

There are, indeed, many issues with Chinese quality control that has caused some grave problems and they are working to correct that. But let's not vilify the Chinese for problems that they are *not* responsible for. Even the CEO of Mattel publicly apologized to China for making their recall seem like it was a Chinese problem when it was mostly a problem with Mattel designs. It's the responsibility of our country and its regulating agencies to catch these problems *before* the products come into contact with our kids. Heck, it's our responsibility as parents to do a little checking on our own and spend time educating our kids on what they shouldn't put in their mouths or keeping small things away from the small kids who put things in their mouth. Some things we can't see and prevent, but some things we can.

So that's my little rant for the month and I promise you won't have to read these too often.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Heart Update

We landed at the airport just before noon yesterday, our 3 bags were among the first 10 that arrived on the baggage carousel, and we raced over to the heart clinic getting there *over an hour* early. And everyone was worried we wouldn't make it.

L's cardiologist checked her heart briefly with his stethoscope and said yep, the hole is still there and the murmur couldn't possibly be much louder. He explained that there were 3 possible outcomes today.

A. The ultrasound alone could show that surgery was clearly needed.

B. The ultrasound could be inconclusive and a chest X-ray could be ordered. The surgeons could decide still more info was needed and a heart catheterization could be ordered. Then the decision whether or not to close the hole would be made.

C. The ultrasound could show that the heart was measuring within normal limits and nothing else would be required.

We came back from the ultrasound and C was ruled out. We had a chest X-ray and Dr. B came back in and said he would take the results to the Thursday morning meeting of the surgeons, but from his experience, they would want to go in and do the surgery. We should know by the end of the week.

We have been assured that it is a routine surgery that should carry only the risks of any surgery - i.e., bleeding, infection. It will mean a few days in the hospital and a short recovery at home, but she ought to be up and running wild again after only a few days.

Now to just wait for the phone call.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Silence is Deafening

After a weekend filled with chatter, laughter, screeching (there were 5 kids here, after all), and all the various noises associated with a full house, I am sitting here alone in a house where the loudest noises are the hum of the refrigerator, the ticking of the clock, and, of course, the clicking of the keys as I type. There were 12 of us sleeping here Friday night, but one sister and her boys left last night, the other sister and my brother's friend who has pretty much been adopted as part of the family (to quote Nathan, "Good luck getting rid of me") left after church today, and my parents have taken my brother back to the airport. He flies back to the base tonight where he has to finish cleaning his room including *hand wax* the floors before the big Going Away Party tomorrow. Glad it's him and not me! Even the girls are sound asleep, so I'm here enjoying the peace and quiet by myself.

While the excitement and activity all weekend were fun, I am rather glad to get back to almost normal. Even L seemed ready for some peace. This morning she went to the nursery at my parents' church, where she has been before and never had a problem. When I picked her up, the worker said L had a mini-meltdown about 10 minutes before when she was simply DONE with all the noise and other kids. I can imagine. This is the kid who didn't like the ocean because it was too loud and she'd been rather bombarded with loud noises all weekend.

Speaking of noises, my sister told me an interesting story before she left. Yesterday my Uncle James was outside pushing L on the swing. They were laughing and carrying on and having a fabulous time when both of them heard a very strange noise. He and L looked around, but couldn't figure out what in the world it was. He went to pull her of the swing and realized that the sound was coming from L. He could feel her heart buzzing hard in her chest and heard it over the sound of L's laughing. He immediately grabbed his cell phone and called his son (putting someone through med school gives you the right to call them on a weekend) who reassured his dad, probably told him that as long as L wasn't turning blue and clutching her chest, it was okay. Last time we saw the young doctor, he heard L's really loud heart murmur and accompanying "thrill" (that means you can feel her heart buzz), so he wasn't too worried. Apparently, he did such a great job of reassuring his dad that no one ever thought, "Hey, maybe we ought to mention this to her mom, who's right inside." It is really weird since I've never heard L's heart without touching her chest. Oh well, L was fine and she has a cardiologist appointment Tuesday, so we'll get Dr. B's take on it. He's supposed to make the call this time as to whether or not L has to have surgery to correct her heart defect, so please be praying.

In other exciting news, K displayed her competitive streak this weekend and took her loss during Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader hard, but then she creamed us in Mexican Train, which is amazing since half the time she was watching a movie and not even paying attention. Yep, it was a sad day for the rest of us. Dad didn't play as he was busy printing off some fabulous pictures of the girls and the family over the weekend. As soon as I get my hands on the files, I'll post some pictures.

Tomorrow, my mom is taking off work and we are spending the day hanging out. We were trying to think of something fun and cheap to do, nothing came mind, but I think I may have the very thing. Of course, it only qualifies as cheap if we leave our wallets in the car to avoid the temptation, but it ought to be a neat experience even if we don't cave in and buy everything in sight.

This weekend, the a new store opened in town.

A very special store.

Only the 5th in the nation.

What could this possibly be?

An American Girl store.

The pinnacle of every little girl's dreams. A store doused in pink and full of dolls with clothes and accessories and books. Now I must confess that we really aren't into the American Girl stuff. We only have a few books from a consignment sale, but K has been mentioning them some lately. She's said she'd like to have a doll and that she'd really like to go to one of the stores. The target audience is girls ages 7-12 and we're making a beeline right into that territory. I think it would be really, really cool to go see the store. It could be incredibly crowded, but we'll at least have the advantage of going during school hours. And maybe we can think about getting a doll for Christmas. Like next Christmas, since those things are $80-something.

I'll let you know if we go.

Happy Thanksgiving!

As I mentioned, today was Thanksgiving at my parents house. The front was crowded with cars and every chair inside was occupied. The kitchen island was groaning under all the food and the dining room table was covered with desserts of variety (naturally, this is where I, my aunts, and all the kids decided to sit; mama didn't raise no dummies!). We had a fabulous time visiting with everyone and catching up on the lives of people like my dad's cousin's son's new baby.

My sister bought Dad a game for his birthday, so we sat around tonight trying to figure out who was smarter than a 5th grader. And guess what, I won 1 MILLION DOLLARS! I still haven't seen any of that money, but hey, at least I used that oh so important knowledge of Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. It's amazing how much stuff you can pull out of your head when you haven't had to use it since high school biology.

My sister is trying to sleep, so I'm headed to bed, too. Woohoo, an extra hour tonight!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A day on the couch

After 3 nights of little sleep and not sleeping well when I did manage to drop off, it's been a long 3 days. This cold is kicking my tail and L isn't helping. The last 2 nights, she's been up late, up in the middle of the night, up early. I finally threatened her with unmentionable violence about 2:30 this morning if she didn't lay down, get still, get quiet, and GO TO SLEEP. Thankfully, she did, but I still woke up hacking my lungs out 4 hours later.

At lunchtime, the grandparents took K to pick up my brother at the airport and I put L down for a nap since she obviously hasn't been sleeping well and we both took a really long nap. Actually, *I* took a really long nap and L took advantage of the quiet and I went in later to find the bedroom floor strewn with candy wrappers (the candy from last night's fall festival is now on top of the entertainment center), but she still says she took a nap, so I guess she slept some. She seems to be feeling better, so maybe candy is the miracle cure for a cold.

Eat up, folks :-)