Sunday, October 17, 2010

3 Little Words

There are three little words that pretty much define my life. To hear them means that I am needed, and that is a good thing. But sometimes I hear them and it is like nails on a chalkboard. At times those words make me seethe with resentment. I'm sure this is not how I am supposed to feel - I should be grateful after all for what God has blessed me with. And I am. Truly I am. SO grateful.

But when you are in the trenches as I am, day in and day out, and the frequency with which such words ring in your ears is such that it almost seems a can get beyond annoying. It's as if the response to the previous mention of said words was nonexistent. And the never-ending thanklessness of it becomes so wearying. And yet, it is also a comfort to my heart, to know that I am source of met needs, of satisfied little people who count on me to do my job, of which those three words spur me on yet again to pick up my mantle and carry forth....

"Mommy, I'm hungry."

And there you have it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

How I Almost Burned Down Our House

A single decision can set off a chain of events from which your life can be completely altered (i.e. devastated). Conversely, a single decision can bring about a series of other decisions that ultimately prevent a horribly catastrophic event. The former almost occurred, but latter has just occurred.

We had been hanging out in the neighbors' yard, as they are having an all-day bonfire to which we were invited to attend. The boys played happily, got rides on the ATV, received popsicles...while Chris and I chatted with other adults and enjoyed some delicious food. I took Blake back home to take his nap, and rested and watched a lovely British movie by myself while resting on the couch. Once Blake awoke, I decided to start cooking some chicken for shredding, figuring it could boil whilst we were hanging out a bit more prior to dinner/baths/bedtime routines.

I had let the dog out when Blake and I went back over, and he came over as well. When he showed up, my neighbor told me that Jaz had earlier come over to say Hello and also decided to make himself at home in the back yard by taking a dump. I immediately sprang into action to find a baggie to pick it up. They insisted it was no big deal, but I would not hear of it (I cannot tolerate other animals leaving scat in my yard, so I will also not allow my dog to defecate in another person's yard). I picked up the poo, then walked over to drop it off in our trash receptacle. I then went inside to wash my hands.

When I got inside, I immediately got the very strong smell of smoke. I walked over to the stove and noticed there was actually some smoke floating in the air. I looked down and realized that, rather than the pot of chicken put to boil on the back burner, I had actually started the front burner, which had a plate, a spoon, and the edge of one of my beloved bamboo cutting boards on it. All of which were being scorched. I corrected my mistake, put the hot plate and spoon in the sink, ran cold water over the cutting board, and thanked God that I did not just burn down the house or cause any significant damage with my brainless move.

The moral of the story: Always pick up after your dog.

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day of School!

*sigh* Thus begins another mother's bittersweet journey of sending her babies out of the nest and into the wild. George and Josh are in school. Hard to believe, it just happened so fast. Of course, everyone says that. And cognitively, I knew it would go fast because EVERYONE said that it would. But the actualization of it is another matter. The fact that school is upon us now...well, it's just really happening! But that's okay. I feel that having the big boys gone for a whole week with my parents just prior to starting Kindergarten was a hugely beneficial step in preparing my heart for it. And I got excited about it. I didn't even cry on their first day! I started getting misty at the sneak peek the night before, but I was amazingly composed, if I do say so myself. The quiet and calmness of having just Blake was probably a good selling point too. I could see myself enjoying a lack of chaos for a few hours each day. Sure, I have a two-year-old to contend with, but it helps that he is pretty adorable and carries on hilarious conversations (no lie!).

So without further delay, the documentation of the first day of school:

Ready to go! And no, I didn't buy them (nor did they pick out) purple backpacks. These were prizes they received from playing Flag Football last year, and they were the right size. So we're reusing them until the boys care enough about style/color/theme.
George loves to ham it up for the camera. Meanwhile, Josh's less-than-natural smile makes him look like he is in pain.
In front of the school building.
At the front doors!
And finally, in the classroom. They walked in and never looked back. This was the only day for them to be in the same class (before they got assigned to their teachers).
So for the past 2 weeks, they've only had one "stagger day" each week. But today marks the beginning of school every day. My babies are in school! Wow.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Sabbatical and Tadpole Town

It hasn't been an intentional neglect - I have been meaning to post about so many things: the goings on of this summer, Chris' job situation, retro posts to include the boys' birthdays, deciding to send the twins to Kindergarten, etc. But due to the funk and just being out of the habit - time has once again run away from me. But rather than try to do too much all at once, I'll start with a fun new development - what I like to call Tadpole Town. Behold pictures taken late one night in June, when Christopher discovered that we had some tree frogs who were fond of our kiddie pool:

Just having a leisurely swim, enjoying the night in our pool.
What are YOU looking at?
And another new little friend.
In late July, George & Joshua went to visit my parents for a week, and we took Blake to the neighbors' pool rather than clean out the kiddie pool just for him (plus we wanted to swim). So the cleaning of the kiddie pool went undone and unnoticed for about 2 weeks. We had drained it, but there were still a couple of inches of water left, which started accumulating a nice layer of algae, along with a huge dead spider and some other dead bugs. The day I decided to have Chris clean it (yes, this is most definitely a job for him, like most outdoor jobs), something caught my eye when I bumped the pool. A little flicker of movement. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that there were, in fact, tadpoles in the pool. A LOT of them! I counted at least 30. Such a cool thing to see (especially when you have little boys), albeit a bit gross considering that we allowed our pool to become a breeding ground for algae and frogs.

Here are the boys, checking out the tadpoles (as has become the daily custom).
And here are a few of the little fellas:
I have done a little research on raising tadpoles, and it seems as though we may be able to just keep them outside and watch them turn into full-fledged frogs without too much effort. The water in the pool is diminishing daily, and the hot sun has to be almost cooking the little guys, so we need to get them out of the pool and into a nice shady spot with some cleaner water (not to mention that we'd like to use the pool for, oh I don't know, swimming?). But it has been fun to check on them every day. Oh, and for those of you fond of the grotesque, here's the icky dead spider that went from floating to stuck onto the bottom of the pool. Eww.

Monday, July 12, 2010

In a Funk

I have been struggling with crippling fatigue and the blahs for several weeks now. I am functioning at a less-than acceptable level, and it is starting to really affect my general well-being. I'm overwhelmed, I'm snappy with the kids, I'm getting depressed, I can't exercise, and I'm suffering from sleep problems. I saw the doctor a couple of weeks ago for a complete physical. He decided to test my thyroid along with the other blood tests. A couple of days after the Dr. visit (and before getting all of the bloodwork results), I came across a recommendation for a book from one of my favorite bloggers. Some time ago she talked about getting off coffee without any negative withdrawal symptoms by using amino acid supplements. Then in the more recent post she talked about this book and how it is helping her to eliminate cravings for sugar and alcohol as well. She actually went to a weekend seminar the author was giving, and learned even more about nutrition therapy.

The book is called The Mood Cure, by Julia Ross. I got the book from the library and plowed through it in a couple of days. And let me tell you, this is profound stuff. I will be buying this book. Not only is it applicable to pretty much every American (especially those consuming the Standard American Diet), it is also downright fascinating. I was pretty immediately convinced that my problems are all due to deficient brain chemicals, and that I needed to change up my diet and get on some amino acid supplements. I decided to wait to hear from my doctor before springing into action, as I wanted to make sure that, if it was my thyroid at the root of things, I could take care of it first. The doctor (himself!) called me and went over all of my results. On paper, I am in excellent physical health. Even being quite a bit overweight doesn't show in my bloodwork. He had recommended during the exam that I get outside for Vitamin D every day (15-20 minutes, midday sun, NO sunscreen), and I've been working on that. It has helped perk me up a little bit, but not enough to really get me going.

So I talked to him about reading The Mood Cure (which he was familiar with, which makes me love him even more as he is very knowledgeable in natural healing/living), and told him I'd like to try some of the supplement. He was fully on board and offered his assistance should I need it. So I am anxiously awaiting my supplements (had a shipping snafu with an online vitamin company), and I have a lot of hope that this will be the solution. It will take some serious discipline (the supplement schedule, plus the change in diet, for example), but I think once I turn the corner with my energy level, I will be able to start exercising regularly again and get my life back.

I know it has been a long time since I posted anything, so I wanted to give a little explanation for that. I'm hoping to get some motivation to get back into the important things of life again, and I think I'm on the right track.

If you are interested in taking the mood questionnaire, you can do it online here. It will give you a good indication of whether or not you may need to correct a deficiency in your brain. I can't recommend this book enough, and I haven't even started my supplements yet! I will definitely be posting about my progress, so check back in on occasion. I may even post some fun stuff too. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

5 Years: A Snapshot

It's hard to believe that it has been 5 years since I had two newborn babies in my arms. I had to reminisce a bit and look through some old photos. And while I was at it, I thought I'd share a few:
One month old, and already full of personality.
The morning of their first birthday party, with their buddy Elmo.
Two years old, on a nature hike with Daddy.
Three years old, and wanting to do everything Daddy (and Mommy) does. Helping Daddy move some dirt here:
Four years old, and they each caught a fish (and got their first serious sunburn) on their very first fishing trip with Daddy.
Today, at barely five years old, at their church preschool graduation. Onward and upward!
It went so fast. Everyone tells you to enjoy the moments when your children are small. Everyone says the time flies by. And on some level you can understand that in your head when people say it. But to experience it as your children go from 0-5 in the blink of an eye makes you truly understand. And you become part of that group of "everyone," who wistfully tells someone else to enjoy their baby, because it really goes by fast. Even though they will know soon enough.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Boys on Bikes

It is seriously shameful how long I go in between posts these days. And what's worse is how much stuff I could be sharing. I have many pictures and stories that have just gone undocumented. The shame of it all. So I will start with yesterday and perhaps one day I will do my series of retro posts to include things like birthday parties and milestone events. Perhaps.

Since George and Josh turned 5 years old on Monday (ack!), they finally got bicycles as gifts (from their amazing grandparents!). It rained most of the day on their actual birthday, of course, and so we had to take them to the park yesterday (since our property is hilly and all gravel or grass - not the best terrain to start out on) to try them out. And they did great. Observe:

Here is the unveiling. They were itching to ride and got on immediately. We allowed them to pedal about in circles on the deck during the 5 minutes of sunshine we got that evening. They were thrilled.
Now for the real riding the next day. Helmets and all. This was a rare side-by-side moment. Most of the time they were passing each other, racing, or doing completely different things.
Josh, happy as a clam on his new best friend.
Giddy George with his favorite toy.
And not to be left out, Blake received a hand-me-down tricycle (thank goodness!) at the same time. He is also in love with it (though he needs a bit more practice). Here he was saying "I used the brakes."
Josh and Blake after an intentional collision.
Passing each other on the way to somewhere else.
Then we went on their first "trail" ride.
And there they go!
The trio in all of their pedaling glory.

They had a blast and did NOT want to go home. And asked if they could ride bicycles the next day. And when we left for the doctor this morning, they asked if they could ride them today. I have a feeling we'll be going to the park a lot this summer.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Just Breathe

This is the worst spring allergy season ever. Ok, so maybe that was overstating it a tad, but really, it is bad this year. Just Google it and you'll see.

Poor Joshy has allergies. Here's my little sneezy, itchy pumpkin (isn't he too adorable?!):

He gets the aforementioned (nay cursed) allergies from my side of the family. When he touches the cat and then touches his eyes, you can bet his eye will be red and itchy in a flash. It happens to me too. So we have to remember to wash our hands whenever we touch animals. That's pretty manageable. But since we live with not one but two pets, there are some indoor allergens to contend with. And of course, when Spring and Fall roll around, a fresh set of allergy pollens, molds, dusts, and whatever else crops up. So the pediatrician suggested trying Claritin with Josh. And since we've started it, Josh has done better. He takes it once a day, year round.

But this year? Once the weather finally turned warm, nature exploded into a yellow-tinged, hazy, polleny mess. And Josh has been suffering. He had the worst of it last week. We were giving him his daily Claritin, but we had to add in Benadryl because he couldn't deal with the itchy throat and eyes, and he had drainage and a slight cough from that.

He woke up crying two nights in a row, nose stuffed up to the point where he could not breathe. And he had a slight wheeze. I think he was scared because he felt like he couldn't get a breath. Then he would start crying, which only made things worse. We brought him to our bed both nights just to spare George and to help comfort/treat Josh. We did saline in the nose, and gave him Benadryl whenever it had been long enough, but he still had a hard time.

On top of all of that fun stuff, he ended up getting a monster case of poison ivy (which is thriving wonderfully all over our property). Thankfully, we started our second annual regimen of the wonder product Oral Ivy a few weeks ago, or else I think he'd have been suffering a fate I shudder to ponder. But even though it wasn't as bad as it could have been, it was still not pleasant and he would sometimes scratch it in his sleep.

So after those two bad nights, we decided to take him to the doctor. And the doctor said that Joshua has asthma (no doubt allergy-induced). His oxygen levels were low, and he took a breathing treatment while at the doctor's office. And after 3 hours at the doctor and a whole booklet's worth of prescriptions to bring home, we have a new situation on our hands.

Joshua (for now) has to take breathing treatments 4 times a day with a nebulizer. He uses one inhaler twice a day, plus is taking a steroid twice a day (for the poison ivy), plus is on Singulair daily, and will continue his Claritin daily. Oh, and there's a rescue inhaler in the mix too, just in case. And, being how I am, I had to create a spreadsheet medicine chart for the fridge so we could keep track of it all.

I am not thrilled with the idea that we are infusing our son with medications aplenty. But I am very thankful that these medications exist and can help treat him. I will seek out alternative and natural methods of healing him from (or at least reducing the symptoms of) this asthma and the allergies from whence it came. I would like to get him down to minimal (or no) medications if possible. But for now - I am so grateful for drugs. My son has slept soundly the last two nights, and he back to his chipper self. Now we can all relax and take a breath. Literally.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Life Can Change in an Instant

I have a very special group of friends. I met them over 5 years ago, when I was pregnant with George and Joshua. We were all pregnant with our first children, as a matter of fact. Women from various locations and backgrounds happened to have this one thing in common at the same time, and we came together in an online group. We were called "June Joys," because our babies were due in June.

A core group of us have remained friends throughout these past 5 years. We have shared our joys, pains, frustrations, phases of motherhood, the birth(s) of subsequent children, and just about everything else you can think of. When one of us has an issue with our child(ren), we bring it up to the group. And many times, others of us are going through the same thing. I think of these women as true friends to me. They have supported me in so many ways, laughed and cried with me, complimented my children and my efforts in motherhood, lifted me up when I have felt like a total failure, and have offered advice, suggestions, and resources that have proved to be incredibly valuable in my life. And though I have never met any of them in person, I love each and every one of them.

One of these special friends is Stephanie. Stephanie is an amazing woman. She is a woman of great faith in God, a math teacher/tutor, an outdoors enthusiast, skilled in crafting (knitting, etc.), and a very devoted wife and mother. She became a La Leche League instructor as she is very passionate about breastfeeding. She was a great resource to me when I was trying to nurse Blake and when I needed to increase my supply when I was pumping exclusively.

Stephanie is the mother of a little girl who is George and Joshua's age, and a little boy who is (I think) around 3 now. She had not been posting regularly on our group's board for a while, but many of us are Facebook friends with her and found out there that she became pregnant with number 3. We were all thrilled for her, of course.

During this pregnancy, Stephanie came down with pneumonia, and one day in February she became unresponsive. She was taken to the hospital, and has been hospitalized ever since. Her pneumonia turned into spinal meningitis, which caused paralysis from the neck down. She also suffered from other infections, and they had to deliver her baby at 28 weeks by emergency C-section to save both of their lives. She had a baby boy, and he is doing well at the time I am writing this (and I am unsure of all of the details, but this information is to the best of my memory/knowledge).

Stephanie has only seen her children twice since being hospitalized, and has only gotten to see her newborn preemie once. She has a trach tube, which means she cannot talk. And because of the paralysis, she cannot sign. The only way she can communicate is by having people read her lips. She has been transferred to a hospital many states away from where they live so that she can get specialized care, and her husband has to travel back and forth to be with her as much as he can. But he works full-time, of course, and is running out of paid time off. The medical bills are racking up quickly, and there will be more costs added due to the special care she will continue to need once she does get home.

This is a family that needs help. Their lives have been turned upside-down, and life as they knew it will never be the same. God is with this family, and there are tons of prayers going out for them daily. But they need support of a tangible kind, from people who are willing to give just a tiny bit. Whenever I think about what life must be like for them, it makes me wish I had some kind of real clout in the world. If I only had some celebrity who would tell this story and pull the heartstrings of millions! Oprah, we need you!

Alas, I have no connections. No clout. But I do have this blog. And I figure that this is a way that I can attempt to help out this family. So I ask you, dear reader - would you be willing to help? My goal is to raise $1,000 by July 1st. In the grand scheme of things, this is chump change. It won't touch the bills that this family will surely accrue. But it could pay for a couple of plane tickets. It might help with the need for ongoing childcare. It may be enough to help out in a moment of crisis.

How, you may ask, can I help? Well, I have placed a handy-dandy widget in the upper right corner of the blog page. All you need to do it click on it and it will direct you in how to donate (using PayPal). No amount is too small.

I applaud those who are helping out in the wake of the disaster in Haiti. I am grateful to those who give and serve in far away countries. And I know that there are many people fighting daily to better the lives of so many who struggle in our own country. But this is a chance to really make a difference for one family. A family who has been facing and will continue to face incredible challenges. A family who needs to know that people are praying and pulling for them. Will you help me make a difference?

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Revolutionary TV Show

So I saw some buzz on a few of the blogs I frequent about Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution show. I decided to check it out (you can watch it online here), and it was truly a breath of fresh air. What with all of the junk they serve up on TV these days, it is tough to find truly quality (and family friendly) programming. But this show? It is a must watch. You can even sign a petition to support it (I did!). I think this is so important that I added the badge on my website. Just click on the image that looks like the one below (on the right hand side of the page) to show your support.

My food philosophy has changed drastically over the past couple of years. I used to buy into the low-fat, low-calorie hype. I thought that you should eat as much soy as possible for good health. I thought that artificial sweeteners were THE way to lose weight, because then you didn't have all of those extra calories to worry about. I thought buying frozen meals like Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice were perfect, easy, and above all healthy options. But I have since been convinced that real food - and by that I mean unprocessed, raw, and in its natural state - is a much better way to provide good nutrition.

Sure, it takes more planning to cook from scratch. And yes, it does take some more time to prepare wholesome, healthy meals on the stove and in the oven rather than popping them in the microwave for 2 minutes. But the benefits are SO worth the extra time and effort. And with practice and a little strategy, you won't have to slave over meals every night to feed your family well.

Imagine my delight to see that this is what Jamie Oliver is trying to teach America. He is hoping to get into the schools and the fast food restaurants and change things up so that people will have better choices. So that a child's school lunch will consist of substantial nutrition, not just processed junk food and super sugary drinks.

What can I say? I have only seen the preliminary show, and I am a BIG fan. This is a guy with passion. Heart. And a mind to change the world. I believe he can do it. I think that God will take this one man's vision and bring about real change, even if for only one person, family, or town. But I believe it will be bigger than that.

If you are someone who reads this blog, then I implore you - watch this show. It is disturbing, fascinating, and heartwarming. And real.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sample of Spring

I have been struck with Spring Fever. A taste of sunshine and warmer weather has me dreaming of gardening, long walks outside, taking the kids to the zoo...and so much more. I am tired of dreary gray skies. And cold air. And rain.

The boys and I are in Indiana visiting with my parents and with my brother Tim's family. The boys are having a blast with their cousins. And it is a nice day here too, so the boys have been playing outside for a while in the sunshine. So nice!

My newest dream is to have some honeybees. I think next year we may get a couple of hives for our property so we can have our own raw honey. And maybe, someday, we might have some chickens in the backyard. Who knows. But all of it makes me think of and want Spring to be here NOW. I'm ready!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Self-Induced Stomach Flu

You would think that the last thing I'd want to deal with after having my kids go through a bout of E. coli is the stomach flu. But me? I brought it on myself. How is this possible?, you might ask. Well let me explain.

For the past few months, I have been trying to consistently take (and give to my family) a supplement called Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), at the recommendation of my awesome sister-in-law. Basically you mix an acid solution (citric acid, in our case), and use 5 drops of that per every 1 drop of MMS. You start out by taking just one drop (activated by the acid solution for 3 minutes), in water or juice (JUICE. Definitely juice! But it has to be a juice that does not have Vitamin C. We use organic apple juice for ours.). Then you work up to either a standard dose (based on your weight - usually about 6 drops for adults and up to 3 for small children like mine).

This solution is supposed to be able to prevent viruses, flus, and illnesses of all kinds, as well as help you get over them faster when you do get them. I honestly believe that it was taking probiotics and MMS that got my kids well as fast as they did after contracting E. coli 157. The Public Health Official was amazed that they were not hospitalized (she said that there has been a child die in our area from having this!).

I have not been as consistent with this as I would like to be. Usually George reminds me sometime during the evening by yelling out "Apple Juice!" Which is my cue to make it. Sometimes I do, and sometimes it is not an appropriate time (like if I'm making dinner). But I digress. So two nights ago, I gave the kids (except Blake, because he was already in bed and I had forgotten) their dose, and made mine and Chris'. When I tasted it, it was VERY strong, and I thought I just added too much citric acid. I think I was trying to give us a 4 or 6 drop dose, but I can't really remember. I warned Chris about the taste, but he drank his as well. This was around 7:30pm or so. I gave the boys their bath and got them ready for bed, and by 8:45pm, I was feeling extremely queasy. I had to short-change the boys' bedtime routine (No books! No prayers! No hugs or kisses! Mommy's sick - I'm sorry!) so I could sit down a while and not move. Chris was at Lowe's at the time.

Now, the reason they have you work up in drops is so that you can let your body tell you if you have taken too much. This is a powerful detoxifying agent, so if you take too many drops, you will feel queasy or experience some intestinal discomfort. It's not a bad thing necessarily - it just means that you may have something going on in your body that needs to be taken care of and the solution is doing it's job, albeit a bit too fast. So you back off on the number of drops the next time. The goal is to take as many drops as you can handle without feeling sick. And up to this point I have only felt mildly queasy a couple of times. No big deal.

To make a long and very painful (not to mention dis-gus-ting) story short, I ended up puking my guts out off and on until about 1:00am, which is when the horrible diarrhea took over until about 3:00am. I suffered yesterday morning with it as well (the vomiting was over by then), until I finally got fed up and took my first Immodium. I was very weak in the stomach all day yesterday and ended up having to take another Immodium last night around 11:00pm. But today my stomach has been much better.

So what happened?! I have a couple of guesses. The most logical one in my mind is that I switched the bottles of citric acid and MMS and gave Chris and myself 30 drops of MMS instead of the appropriate 6 (or 4). A mistake that, if that was indeed the one, I will NEVER EVER make again. So you may be wondering, how did Chris fare in all of this? He was a bit queasy, and had some gurgling in his stomach. But that was pretty much it.

Needless to say, I did not take my MMS today. I figure I will resume it again in a few more days. Because I do believe that it is a wonderful (and cheap!) way to stay healthy. But you MUST follow the protocols correctly, or like me, you will be very, very sorry.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Makes Me Smile

This morning I woke up with a headache. And a neckache. And a bad attitude. And as I was feeling especially grumbly because I HAD to get up anyway, I was reminded of an article I read in Family Fun just last night about positive thinking.

The mom who wrote the article explained how she got her 9-year-old son who was prone to complaining and being negative to start thinking and talking more positively. In a nutshell, it started with having him give her one positive statement for every negative one he spoke. What a great idea, thinks I!

So I'm going to give it a try. Here are some negative things I was thinking about this morning. Let's see if I can come up with some positives (shown in purple):

I have a headache. I am, for the most part, in very good health, and do not live in chronic pain.
The weather is cruddy. Spring is just around the corner!
My house is an absolute disaster (and beyond - believe me, I cannot underestimate this statement). I have a big, warm house to live in, which accommodates my family very nicely.
My husband has been gone a lot for work lately. My husband has a great job, which provides for our family very well, and we are blessed for him to have work to go to. Also, he is around a LOT more than most people who work full-time.

That was not difficult at all! I am hoping to remind myself of all of the positive things in my life whenever I start to think negatively or start to complain. There is no such thing as too much gratitude.

In addition to the positive statements I listed, here is something else that made me smile today:

While I was lying in bed trying to will away my headache (since the medicine wasn't helping), I heard the boys chatting over the monitor. I listened closer, and realized that George was "reading" Green Eggs & Ham to Josh. How cute is that?!

And now my baby is beckoning me to play. Another thing to make me smile.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Our Experience with E. coli, Part 1

I have seen way too much of toilets in the past week. We have been dealing with E. coli 157 (want to know more?). This is an evil bacteria, causing diarrhea the likes of which I have never known or imagined could exist. Fortunately, I personally have not contracted it yet, but believe me - more than once have I wished and prayed that I had it instead of my child(ren). The thing that is most frustrating to us is that we have no idea where it came from. Let me go back:

On Saturday, February 13th, the boys had a basketball game. They missed the previous week's game and the subsequent practice due to a cold, but by the time Saturday rolled around, they were well enough and they seriously needed some exercise. We hadn't gone to church on either Wednesday night or the Sunday before since they had been sick. They aren't in school or daycare, so the basketball game was the first time they were in contact with other kids for a while. After the game, Chris informed me that George had had to make an emergency trip to the bathroom during the game to go poo. Not big news to me, the kid has been regular for as long as I can remember.

On Sunday we missed church again due to me having a migraine. George seemed pretty normal that day. Then overnight that night, he got up a few different times to go to the bathroom, as well as many times throughout the morning. At one point, he told Chris he was sorry because he tooted in his underwear and got it dirty. Chris inspected it and noticed that there was blood as well. This was around noonish on Monday. A handful of bathroom visits later (each involving blood in the stool), we knew something was really wrong. He also had horrible cramping pain each time. So around 2:15pm we packed up the entire crew and headed to Urgent Care. Once we got there, they said that they had just accepted their last patient of the day as they were closing early due to the fact that the weather *might* get bad. At that point in time, there was no precipitation and the roads were perfectly clear. Grrr. So we headed down to Children's Hospital.

We spent the next 3-4 hours at the ER. We did a whole lotta waiting. Considering how long we were there, and that we had burned through all of the snacks pretty quick, and that Blake didn't get a nap that day, and that George had to go running to the restroom every 20 minutes or less, the boys did surprisingly well. They took blood and urine samples, and the dreaded procedure of taking blood. George has never been a very good patient. Always freaks out at the smallest of things, even before they happen. But this time, he did awesome. He did cry a little bit when the phlebotomist drew his blood, but she was great with him and he did follow her instructions to keep still.

We had to wait for the lab results, which were normal. They sent us on our way and told us they would contact us once they got the results from the other specimens. Monday night was a little better for George - he only got up maybe 2-3 times. Then around 3:00am, Josh woke up to go. And again at around 6:00am. And that began his journey with the evil illness.

Tuesday afternoon we got a call back informing us that George had contracted E. coli 157. I was shocked. Stupefied. Puzzled. How? Where? When? She said that we needed to give him probiotics twice a day until the diarrhea cleared up, and avoid fruit juice and fiber, etc. I decided to start the whole family on the probiotics right away just to be safe, and we cracked down even more on the kids' handwashing habits (which are pretty darn good already). George still had to go a lot, and Josh had to go a lot more than normal, but only a speck of blood here and there, and he didn't complain about having cramping like George did. Josh has always had a hardier constitution than George, it seems.

Wednesday was a blur. Blake had a couple of nasty diapers early on, but seemed OK after that.
Thursday I took George back down to the ER for a follow-up visit, which turned out to be another whole goat rodeo having to wait, go through processing, and all of that. We waited for an hour and 15 or so, and they finally called us back to go to a room. I was surprised that they didn't just send us to the lab (the nurse I had spoken with led me to believe that this would be a quick, "fast-track" visit, with just a blood draw). I asked if we'd be able to get it done by 4:30pm (it was 4:05 or so at the time), and the nurse laughed and said, "umm, I highly doubt it." So I politely let them know that I would have to leave by 4:30, as my husband had to leave for a job and our other two little kids were at home so I had to get back. After hassling with the nurses, registration, and some phone calls to Chris, we ended up leaving (after 4:30, mind you). So we didn't get seen, we had to drive back during rush hour traffic, we'll still get charged the $100 ER co-pay, and we wasted all of that time. Grr.

On Friday morning, I got a call from the Public Health Department. They always follow up on reported cases of E. coli and the lady had some questions for me so they could try to help track down the source. Here is where I will say that there is much more about this piece that will be included in Part 2. For now I will press on. Blake had started pooping more this day, after we had thought he had gotten better. During one of the conversations I had with the PHD, Chris was changing Blake and saw some blood in the diaper. Just great. Fan-tastic.

Friday night was horrible. From about 8:00pm until about 3:00am, Blake had no less than 10 bouts of painful poo. What's worse is that since he is not toiled trained, his bottom was getting increasingly raw. Every time we tried to wipe him or put cream on, he screamed in pain. It was an extremely rough night. And it has been rough since. The frequency has gone down each day, which leads me to believe that he is getting better, and his appetite is good and he is drinking his fluids just fine to stay hydrated (as are the other two).

George and Joshua seem to be fine, though we're not completely out of the woods yet as there is a risk of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) in children under 5 which can show up 5-7 days after diarrhea stops. There are lots of symptoms, but simply put, HUS could cause renal failure. So George has an appointment on Tuesday to get his blood checked so they can test his kidney function. Josh had the diarrhea for a much shorter time frame and got better pretty quickly, so we'll see how George's test results come back before we decide to get Josh tested as well. We'll be getting an appointment for Blake though, as he is the smallest and probably the most at risk.

Chris had some tummy trouble for a couple of days, but for some reason I have been the only one who has not gotten it at all. I am hoping we are at the end of this awful sickness, and will be posting again soon about the other development this has incurred.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Birth Order: Bogus or Brilliant?

At my moms group this morning our speaker talked about birth order, and the significance that plays in family relationships. I found it absolutely fascinating, and a topic I had already thought was interesting. I bought the book about birth order by Kevin Leman, but I lent it to my dad before I had a chance to read it.

Mr. Sexton (our speaker today) has been studying and speaking about Bowen's Family Systems Theory for over 10 years, and he works for the University of Tennessee hospital currently. He is also a chaplain and does some family counseling as well. He said that the birth order traits are amazingly accurate, and after he explained them a bit, I could see what he meant. It has definitely given me a new perception on how I view people (including myself).

I am looking forward to delving into this topic more, to be sure. But I, for one, think it is a brilliant theory.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Wish I'd Thought of This Today

Today was a rainy day. Cold and rainy. My least favorite type of weather. I'd honestly rather have a blizzard than a whole day of cold rain. Blech.

And I didn't really do anything fun with the kids today (I had chicken stock to deal with, along with some other stuff), so they got to watch some TV and play on their own, which never lasts for too long without someone crying over something. And I remembered (only too late) what fun they had a while back with this:

They built houses (with a little help) out of a set of foam floor padding (which is also really fun to make paths with), and pretended to be neighbors. They had little neighborly feuds, and then were friendly neighbors who visited each other - it fostered such imagination!

I wish I had thought of this today. Ah well, perhaps tomorrow. It's still raining now...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's Snow Fun/To Be Sick

Aren't I clever with the double topic post that makes a punny sentence when said altogether.

I have decided that I need to update the blog a lot more often. There is a lot that goes on around here, and I have been slack in my responsibility to update the family and friends (nay, the interested world, ha-ha). So I aim to post something at least twice a week. I will do some retro posts (the big boys' 4th birthday comes to mind...) as well as current ones. Having said that, here is a current one:

Today was a snow day. We got quite a bit of snow (especially for Tennessee) the last couple of days. We ran a few errands yesterday, and discovered that the lane up to our house (which is decently steep) was treacherous and almost unmanageable. Chris had to drive up backwards, and we were spinning our wheels quite a bit for a while. The boys were stressed (as was I), but Chris was absolutely determined to get up that hill. I was envisioning having to lug the kids and groceries up through 6 inches of snow and slush along with leaving our van at the bottom of the hill, and was grateful to have a very competent and confident snow driver for a husband. But that is a side story. The point was that once we did get home all safe and sound (and warm), we decided we wouldn't be journeying anywhere beyond our yard the next day. And we found out later on that church services were cancelled anyway. So we thought some sledding would be in order.

The boys have been begging to play out in the snow every time a flake falls. George especially. But the last couple of days, George had an ever-increasing illness setting in. This morning it seemed about the same, but just as we were getting bundled up to go outside, he got sick and threw up. Poor little guy. So we banned him from the snow play. I decided to go ahead and take Josh and Blake out, as Chris was happy to stay inside with George. George cried just a little bit, but got over it quickly, which indicated to me just how poorly he was feeling. Normally he would have cried buckets and wailed for hours at the thought of not getting to go.

So while he was inside watching a movie of his choice (his first viewing of James and the Giant Peach, he decided), Joshua, Blake, and I were outside loving the sun and snow, as you can see:

Blake after we first got outside.
Josh immediately grabbed a chunk of snow and came at me with it. He started laughing uncontrollably the closer he got, knowing he was going to throw it at me.
Blake quickly shed the gloves and sunglasses and went straight to eating snow.
It shouldn't have surprised me, considering that this next picture was the first time he was ever in the snow (almost exactly a year ago) and you can see what his favorite part about that experience was.
I would have taken him out in the snow the year he before, but I'm not sure he could have appreciated it considering he looked like this:
So while Blake was eating snow, I was busy getting in a workout. I mean, building a snowman. And here it is! Why yes, that IS a real carrot nose, and even more impressive is that it came from our very own garden!
Here's our snow-loving doggy.
Josh worked up an appetite, and thought the carrot nose was a bit too tempting.
There goes the nicely pointed nose.
Then Blake took matters (or carrot, as it were) into his own hands.
Aww, buddy, I'm sorry I tried to eat your nose. I still love ya.
Blake loves ya too.
I can't stand how cute this picture is.
And here is Blake's very first sledding experience, which he of course loved (he is MY son, after all).

Blake was trying to lead me somewhere, but we had more sledding to do, and he wouldn't come willingly. So I carried him, kicking and screaming. I should mention it was past his nap time.
While Blake and I sledded a bit and then I dropped him off with Daddy for his nap, Josh effectively demolished our snowman.
So we did some more sledding. Here we are, getting ready to take off.
How much happier could a boy get?
He even cheerfully dragged the tube back up the hill. Repeatedly.
And poor sick George missed out on all the fun. Isn't that just the cutest misery you ever saw? He did have fun hanging out one-on-one with Daddy, so it wasn't all bad. Maybe next time it snows big here in Tennessee, little buddy.