Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A lesson for Leah

Anyone else tired of hearing about tonsils? Well, prepare yourself for something uglier. We have quite the animal population in our home. 2 dogs, 2 guinea pigs and 2 gerbils. Well, there were 2 gerbils. Today was a day of carnage in our home.

Warning: this post is not for the faint of heart

Leah has been warned repeatedly to leave the small animals alone. At almost 4, she just doesn't have the understanding to treat them with the respect they need. We frequently find her holding an animal that is verboten. I'm afraid we gave her more opportunities than we should have. Although she has handled them many times under our supervision, today she locked herself in the office and played with them alone. When she came out with one in her hand, she handed her to me, saying, "She's got bleed!"

Uh oh. Yep, her grip had been too tight. Explaining to a 3 year old the concept of death, much less that she had caused it was difficult, but it hit her where it hurt when the older kids came home from school. All of a sudden her favorite people in the world were all crying hysterically and looking at her with accusing eyes. We talked about how even though they miss Carly, they have to forgive Leah, and love her in spite of her careless act.

It is so hard to lose a pet. I have experienced it too, and it is tough. Perhaps it's God's way of preparing us in small ways for inevitable future losses. It was a good opportunity to talk to the kids again about resurrection. They petted her one last time and we talked about how it was a body only- there was no life in her, no spirit. We put her in the ground and said a prayer. Josh said the sweetest prayer- he asked that she would be happy there with her Heavenly Father as one of his little animals again. He asked that we would be able to deal with her loss, and someday see her again. Kids are so smart.

Emma on the other hand, says that she can't take it anymore. She can't take it. We'll see.

So this blog is for you, Carly! You will be missed, especially by Emma. Sam misses you too!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tots and Tonsils

Well, the weird time of post tonsillectomy seems to be over. Tod went back to work yesterday and life is officially back to normal. Our house is a sty, the laundry is piled high to the ceiling, and there isn't a single room that isn't trashed. It was as if we were living in a false reality, disconnected from the rest of the world. Tod walked out of the house Monday morning and noticed how much the grass had grown.

Thank you to all those who have offered their help and support during this stressful time. We are so grateful!

Jack is adjusting well to his new home. He will sleep on the bed whenever he gets the chance, but is not allowed on the leather couch under any circumstances. Mostly he follows me around no matter where I go- to the point where he is continually stepped on. Poor baby.

I have given up my precious Coke again. It is a tense time in my house, you might want to say a little extra prayer for my family.

Emma gave Anna a black eye in the bath tub! Think it's time for separate baths?

Josh has his baseball tournament next week. He is so excited because he is sure they will win, as they have the best record so far. He takes every opportunity to rub his game ball in Aaron's face.

I have begun making Emma's baptism clothes. I can't believe it is coming!

Aaron is still in the thick of baseball. He still loves it. He scrutinizes every little thing he does wrong. He has that perfectionist gene- I wonder where that came from?

Summer is closing in fast, less than 5 weeks to go! If you want to make a little trip down (or over) to Texas, we would be happy to see you! I'll even move the laundry ;)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why I'm not cut out for nursing

You may not know that before this glorious career in motherhood and housewifery I was dead set on medicine. I even used to show my dates pictures out of my surgical textbooks. I think they're fascinating, I don't know why so many of them gagged. Gimme a break. Fortunately I have these weird opportunities to continue my education in this job of wife and mother. Did you ever think that being a nurse could be so fun? Yeah, me either.
Attention: Portions of this story have been edited or excluded to protect the dignity of all parties involved.

First some back information. Tod has had strep 5 times in the last 6 months. In other words, he had a throat like a petri dish. Gross. He even felt so generous as to share with the rest of us on a few occasions. Again, yuck. After seeing the ENT he was told that the time was well past when he needed to have his festering prune-like tonsils removed.

Tod- So can I have them out on a Friday and get back to work on Monday?
Dr- (shock and reserved laughter) Uh, no. At least 2 weeks my friend.
Tod- (shock and reserved tears) Okay.
And it was scheduled.

Tax day we got up at the not-so-sunny hour of 4:30 to get the kids to their various babysitters and make it to the hospital by 6. Thankfully my prayers were answered and everything went smoothly that day. The kids were calm and cooperative, the surgery went smoothly, and we were home at lunchtime. I wasn't nervous. I was confident in his Dr., the staff was kind and professional, and Tod was so drugged that I knew he wouldn't remember anything anyway.

When he was in his room recovering, drinking ice-water he said the fated words:
"I feel good enough, I think I could go back to work!"
Maybe it was the Demoral talking. Yup, I'm pretty sure it was.

Let me first say that I love my husband. I LOVE HIM! He is the center of my universe, my best friend and any other mushy thing you can think of.

But this nursing thing stinks. Adult tonsillectomy might very well be the worst surgery in the world. Pretty sure Tylenol 3 doesn't agree with Tod's stomach. Found that out the hard way. Cold feels bad but warm feels worse. The bigger the tonsils were, the bigger hole they leave behind. Scabs in the throat...well, that's all I'll say about that.
Tod is pretty sure that he's had the equivalent suffering to childbirth. No comment.

I feel bad for him. I don't have much of a bedside manner. I am more the "suck it up" and "rub some dirt on it" mentality. My kids will probably be scarred for life because I think cuts are exciting. There are few things, blood or pain that ruffle my feathers. Frankly I am more bothered by lizards. Now if it was a lizard in Tod's throat, that would get a rise out of me! Mostly I resent that I couldn't be there in the operating room, and that the nurses talk to me like a high school drop-out. I know how to use the PDR as well as they do, thank you very much! Off the soapbox...

So today marked the beginning of the second week of his convalescence. It has been a hard week in so many ways, obviously. But in many ways it has been a blessing (don't tell Tod). I have made several trips to the store for various comfort items...alone. That's right, no children. I have been to a few baseball games...alone. It was a wonderful thing to see Josh get an AWESOME hit, see the pride his coaches had, and watch him get the game ball after the win. He was so proud of himself, it brought a little tear to my eye. Jack has been allowed to sleep in the bed...that's right, IN THE BED! Tod has shared his bed with a dog, and unprecedented event. I think he feels a camaraderie with the barkless animal- maybe he has had throat surgery too?

I keep telling Tod that eventually, he will have his baby- the blessings of a lack of tonsils- and the pain will be over. Until then, I'm keeping a pleantiful stock of ensure, ice-cream, applesauce, malt-o-meal, soup, jello, get the idea! Maybe we'll run out and I'll have to run to the store again...(wink, wink).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The power of a smell

They say that the power of smell is the most powerful of senses.

Tod: "Who is 'they'?"

I doesn't matter!

Everyone knows the smells that take them back. Every one is tied to a memory or a feeling. The other night I had one of these experiences. It is a smell that not only takes me back to a time in my life, it is such a happy memory, a tie to my family, that there is nothing else like it.

It is in the process of making our family's recipe for Gumbo that I get this smell. After making the roux and adding the vegetables to it, they start to cook a little bit. This is my favorite smell in the world. It is not something I can describe with words.

It is something we always enjoyed eating as kids and it is a tie to my heritage. It binds me to the Grandmother that I don't remember because it is something that she used to do much the same way. It binds me to my daddy who is my taste tester and whose approval is the ultimate reward for me.

There are several of these memories for me, and I know there are for you as well. I would love to hear your stories, tell me about your favorite smell and where it takes you!

Monday, April 13, 2009

An innocent bag of jelly beans

What's the best thing you've ever found in a bag of candy? I'm normally not much of a fan of jelly beans, especially those spice flavored ones, and definitely not the black ones! Blah! Jelly beans are, however, an Easter tradition. They make it into our baskets every year. I like to find interesting flavors that don't really taste like jelly beans. Cream Savers, Mike and Ike, Jolly Rancher, you know, something special. So I saw the Hawaiian Punch flavor and thought it was a winner. Definitely not black jelly beans!

But do you want to know what's worse than black jelly beans? I'll show you...

Warning: be prepared to gag.

Does this look like a jelly bean to you? Me either. This is what I got when I reached into the bag- a weird, threaded, bolt-type thing covered in a bushing of sorts. I am appalled! It is the perfect size to be a choking hazard, not to mention- is it sterile?

What would you do?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Every time it rains, it rains eggs from heaven...

One of these things does not our house that is. It seems funny in an ironic sort of way that we grabbed a large Easter egg for comparison. The one on the bottom, Easter egg. On top: stupid hail. Does hail have a purpose?
Anyway, as people around here know, we got hit with a pretty exciting thunderstorm last night. The rain was good, we needed it really bad. I actually thought It was going to break a window! I inspecated the damage this morning in daylight and discovered that our rain came at a price- it looks like someone rammed a shopping cart randomly into the hood and top of the cars, including my sister-in-law visiting from Albuquerque. Of course I know that's impossible, but no more reassuring. To all our friends with broken windshields, I'm so sorry!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bittersweet memory

Several years ago I was in Las Cruces with my family for a late Thanksgiving. It is always a good time when we get together, but better still, knowing I was pregnant with our fourth child. Some of us got sick, just a cold- it was nothing to keep us from enjoying the occasion. Pregnancy was a part of life by now and living with the symptoms of the early weeks was familiar. I spent one day laying around on the air mattress feeling terrible before we left for home.
On the car ride home I noticed an uncomfortable itching on my elbow and forearm. When I changed into my pajamas that night I noticed the rash.
My life has turned on a dime several times in my life but only twice because of illness. This was the first. The next day I called my family Dr. to tell him about the rash and that I needed to be seen. When I told them I was pregnant they cut me off-

"You'll need to be seen by an OB/GYN"

"He is my family Dr. and has delivered all of our other children. I don't have another OB." I answer

"I can refer you to one, or you can go to the emergency room." she mutters, sans feeling.

"It's not an emergency, I just need to be seen for the rash."

"I'm sorry, but we cannot see you if you are pregnant."

I hang up feeling extremely depressed. It was a feeling that would only deepen as I tried to schedule an appointment with an OB that I had never seen before. New patient appointments stretched three weeks into the future.
Every inch of my body was covered in this unfamiliar, lacey rash. My joints ached terribly and I could barely move. We decided it was time to go to the emergency room, silly or not.

In the emergency room they drew my blood for every test known to man. Apparently my condition was too rare to be diagnosed by an emergency room doctor. I lay there for two hours. They checked the baby through ultrasound and she was fine. They couldn't decide what to do with me but to tell me to take some Tylenol and they got me in to see an OB the following week.

The day of my first OB visit with Dr. Ranka was bad. They examined me and decided to draw blood for a Parvovirus B-19 titer. It came back "high". High means bad. High means do an ultrasound. "Fifth's Disease." Such a dumb name.

Anyone who has had an ultrasound during pregnancy knows what they're looking at. When I saw our tiny baby laying lifeless at the bottom of the screen I knew her journey was over. There was no heartbeat, and for a moment, I had lost a few too. Dr. Ranka touched me lightly on the knee and said, "I don't have to tell you, I know." I wished I had Tod there with me instead of home with the other kids. I wished I could roll back the clock and tell the doctors in the emergency room what they were missing, not that it would help. I wished I didn't have to drive home through my tears and tell my loving husband that my being sick had cost our baby its life.
Everything happened so quickly. They scheduled a time for me to go into the hospital. I wandered like a swollen-eyed zombie out into the waiting room, papers in hand. The looks of the nameless people in the waiting room said it all- pain, loss, suffering, confusion, fear, and dread.

Miscarriage. Such a dumb name. I carried her as well as I knew how. I prayed for her and loved her and planned for her as well as any of our other kids. There were few words about it between Tod and I. I handed him the stupid pamphlet on coping with the loss of a child and it said it all to him. He was my rock, my mouthpiece when I was too overwhelmed to speak. He held my hand as I was wheeled into the operating room and when I was wheeled out to the car- babyless, empty and beaten.

If there is a word to describe those dark days in my life, it would be "void". As painful as it is to describe again, I was jerked back there yesterday when I was reading a blog recommended by a friend. She of course had no idea what it would mean to me. The woman who writes this blog was describing the life of her young son, a survivor of in utero Fifth's disease. It was amazing to hear what our baby's future could have held if she had survived. The body shuts down in an attempt to maintain the organs. Bone marrow, red blood cells and limbs are sacrificed in an attempt to preserve the brain, heart and lungs. Needless to say, complications after birth are many and difficult.

While we grieve still for the loss of this beloved child, she is blessed to know a perfect body, never feeling the weight of imperfection. She will never face the challenges that survivors of this devastating disease feel. While I cannot hold her in my arms as I do my other children, I know that she is being held in the most loving of arms, more perfect than my own, waiting for the day when we will all be together again. I hope my arms do not disappoint.

I feel bonded to this mother in an indescribable way. She battles this demon daily as I do.

I don't want to sound whiney, not by any means. This story is only awakened because of my reading that blog. I don't want to punish any of you, because in a way this is a story of hope. It is a story about how just because something is taken away, it is not our fault. We are all given a life, short or long to do something great. My family is eternal, all 9 of us. We all have our struggles and none is any smaller or greater than another's, it is all based on what we are capable of dealing with, with grace. That is what makes this a bittersweet memory. I am stronger. God was training me to deal with pain so that I could survive my own struggles and be here for the 5 kiddos that need me. I have learned to never take the Lord's timing for granted. His sight is perfect, but mine is only 20/20 at best ;)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Josh, and proof that it's all about the Gatorade

Thursday night was the first time this season we were able to give undivided attention to Josh's baseball game. Frequently we attend games in baseball limbo, trapped between Aaron and Josh's fields.

There is this long standing joke in our house about Josh and his bladder...never mind that this post will be extremely humiliating for Josh, but at least he's too young to date! So anyway, Josh has a bladder the size of a walnut. Not a big walnut either. The first stop for Josh after warm-ups is the Gatorade cooler. Then there is usually half an inning where he is in the field an thus kept away from his precious Gatorade, but as soon as they get back to the dugout they are reunited with reckless abandon. Let's do the physics- half a gallon of Gatorade v. Walnut Bladder...who will win out? It doesn't matter that he goes before we leave the house or whether or not he is warned about the above physics equation, the Gatorade is irresistible. In the second or third inning bladder failure is imminent. We see the dance begin.

"Here we go again." Tod says.
"It's absurd. Do you think he has any idea what he looks like?" I ask.
"Obviously not."
"I'm going to take a picture!" I say, and jump up, camera at the ready.
"Doesn't it have a video setting?" he reminds me with a sly grin.

I think Josh thought it was a candid shot of him at third base, but sometimes proof is a decent deterrant. This is a little video I like to call, "One out to go"
Some kids will never learn! Sorry about the shaking, you know our west Texas wind.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Charlie Brown and cilantro

Okay, I have nothing of particular interest to post today, unless you want to hear about Leah squirting all my moisturizer down the sink. So in lieu of real news or something profound I thought I would post something for Amy's benefit.

Today we had a going-away-lunch for a few sisters in the ward. Gotta love Rosa's under any circumstances! So I sat with Amy and her adorable little guy, Landon, who I lovingly refer to as Charlie Brown. He is the best little eater, it's too bad his mother won't give him guacamole or sopapillas- Rookie! But she did think it would be funny to let him try cilantro- this kid ate it up! Wow, some kids really will eat anything.

After we got home Leah asked if we could watch Twilight again. Yes, she asked, you assumed it was my idea didn't you? She looked so angry while she was watching that I thought I'd ask why. She told me she was being a vampire.

"I'm a killer, Bewwa" she told me, with her speech impediment, and made this face...

Apparently she is working on her tortured, brooding teenage vampire face. Unsettling isn't it?