Saturday, January 10, 2015
We're trying to break in all our nifty Christmas presents before we head out for a three week trip to Florida next week. It's not a small job as we have such a generous extended family. This sewing machine was given to Mr. Isaac by Grandma W and it's a very good fit. He's been making these stuffed animals for others by hand and we wanted to see how easy it would be to make one with modern assistance. I had a shirt I didn't need anymore, so voila!
Isaac's focus can be impressive for a 6 year old. He's the kind of personality that is either acting like he's a very enthusiastic 45 year-old or throwing a toddler-style fit in indignation over nothing. There isn't much in between, but the fit-throwing mode is starting to show up less and less. (He gets it from me, so I question whether it will ever disappear entirely...) We spent over an hour reading the sewing machine's warnings, learning how to plug everything in, filling the bobbin, threading the machine, and "drawing" some shapes on construction paper. The very first warning said not to treat the machine as a toy and he requested I read that part in both English and French. Little boys are funny.
FangFang isn't really making things yet, although she likes to scribble tiny circles on her pieces of paper and then shout, "DONE!" when the boys are doing school.
She's pretty good at making faces, though.
This is how we made it through our local scuba dive club meeting. The speaker wrote a book about wreck dives in the Northwest we'd love to use for a bit of exploring once the kids are in college or we find a babysitter. Whichever comes first!
Tuesday, January 06, 2015
Short story: Primrose is scheduled for a relatively minor spinal surgery on February 11th. It's overnight in the hospital and the surgery itself is less than an hour.
We ended up with two appointments today. One was a surprise reschedule with the neurosurgeon who had already rescheduled several times and the other was with our new pediatrician for a regular old inflamed set of lymph nodes.
|She is pretending to tickle you.|
|Because everyone needs an owl backpack, doggie purse, magnatiles and thirteen billion Pokemon cards |
when they're getting ready to head to the grocery store, KWIM?
Randall Children's Hospital really isn't all that bad. There are neat painted installations (all with a bird theme) and warm lovely pieces of art everywhere. The kids noticed that almost all the art had animals hidden in it, and they approved. There was a truly inviting play garden we were sorry to pass by twice because J had to get to the office when we finished the surgeon's appointment.
Primrose starts to whimper as soon as we get into the bowels of an office. She has been to a lot of these rodeos in her short life. If anyone gloves up, she is in full-on ugly-cry mode. The neurosurgeon (who just ran for senate but fortunately for us, lost) was very brisk and matter-of-fact. I may have fallen in love, as she had strong clear advice and showed us the MRI images to back it up. There was no ambiguity. Our girl has her spinal cord tethered near the end of her spine, instead of floating freely as it should. As she grows, it would cause problems with her legs, continence, and other frightening neurological junk.
|We have to keep her in top condition. Otherwise, who will keep up on the stuffed-spider feeding schedule around here?|
Oh look, click here for a link with better medical info than I can give.
So we left with a surgery date and the reassurance that in our daughter's case this isn't a judgment call. It's clearly surgical, and leaving it would likely result in scary damage when she starts growing taller. The best part of the appointment was when I asked about re-tethering (I read there is a 40% chance of that) and the Doc just about laughed. She says with this kind of tether, the likelihood is more like 1 or 2% and she has actually almost never seen it happen. Reassurance: Check!
|I believe they are sharing M&M's here. And by sharing, I mean he's giving her his M&Ms.|
The second appointment was actually way less fun even though it was mundane, as far as the kids are concerned. FangFang had to get three more vaccines, and we discovered that the GP from our initial homecoming appointments did not properly test for several versions of Hepatitis and failed to include measles or chicken pox in her orders. Lucky for our girl, we have wised up on the horror of pediatric blood draws and requested that they be combined with the sedation for the spinal surgery. Look at us learn to work the system.
|This diagnosis is almost as good as Christmas...|
|Christmas was pretty rad.|
Altogether, I'd say it's a win. Where's my wine?
Saturday, November 22, 2014
|We did a lot in school this week in addition to a surprise sleepover at Grandma's for the boys.|
By today we were a bit stir crazy!
We slept in, got breakfast out and went for a day trip. Out of our three options: Hug Point on the coast, Mt. Hood, or the Bonneville Dam in the gorge east of Portland, we chose the last. The kids’ winter clothes are not yet completely in order and both Mt. Hood and the coast were predicted to be windy and cold, so we decided to go with the ol' dam trip.
|Hello dam! From this angle you look like a dam prison.|
|Near the dam entrance, facing the direction of the storm.|
|After some initial grumping, Isaac turned on his chatty self and asked his customary 11,000 questions.|
|The tour takes you next to and below a real working generator!|
|We were amazed that the deep thrumming was not the turbines |
but rather the water rushing around and through the dam structure.
The tour guide told the kids it was enough water to fill a three bedroom house every second.
|The boy finished Gregor the Overlander book 1.|
He loves it and often busts out giggling in random, inappropriate places.
We have to remind him to close his book to walk.
|Because tomorrow is Sunday...|
She even reads me bedtime stories before folding herself in half just for fun.
Sunday, November 09, 2014
We are homeschoolers so preferring nights could very well mean I'm doing something wrong in directing our school days, but I'm strangely okay with that. Some of the homeschoolers I read about seem to have some remarkable, deeply spiritual experiences with their incredibly attuned children daily. School for us lately has been a lot more productive but also much more practical. We complete tasks, we get through our curriculum, and the boys' brains are worn out by the end of the day. Sometimes they say or do neat stuff, but they do that despite me and any particular intellectual fantasias playing out in our day. In this season of our lives checking off the boxes and enjoying part of a portion of some of it is a win.
|Primrose's daily checklist includes destroying the living room.|
I don't want to intimidate all the average kids, but as you can see she's kind of a prodigy in that area.
|About 2/3rds of the way through his schooling checklist, Toby takes a break with his pit crew.|
|During each of the two intermissions, he thoroughly explored the Keller.|
His favorite was the top floor because it was so quiet up there,
and it was fun to look down on the spinning event floodlights.
|So happy with his lovely date!|
Giving up these extra evenings is both selfish and sacrificial. Playing with people has a social component I miss as a homeschooling mom (nobody makes poop jokes! Unless maybe it's a brass rehearsal...). There's often an artistic benefit, which is of deep personal value to me on so many levels. I want my kids to see their parents living rich lives and maintaining excellence in both personal and professional ways. The money is helpful, and while I'm being practical I have to admit I also hate to say no to gigs because they stop calling. Nobody likes that.
We have most of our fun as a family at night, so I do hate to miss any. We go for walks with flashlights, we retreat each to our own corners, we have long tickle fights, we watch weird Chinese TV shows in Mandarin for practice and fun, we used to read long books but I've slacked off with that because SOME one went and brought a toddler to the party. Both J and I have strong tendencies toward introversion and evenings in our bubble full of small proprietary Wards are easily our favorite times. Excited as I always am to play, I think it's a sign of a good life that deciding whether to take on more work involves complicated checks and balances. G'night!
Thursday, November 06, 2014
I'm sorry for the radio silence, but I was going through a mood in which I wasn't sure what to post.
Good things have happened: Halloween, new homeschool procedures that reduced my yelling by fully 84%, nice gigs with people I like, a brunch with a friend we made in China working for Holt.
|There were 6 or 7 families with children from China there.|
The kids all had a great time!
The MRI results appear to be a bit murky. The doc at first said they were totally normal, but it took her a few days to get to us and by then I had googled several of the findings. It seemed to me to indicate possible surgery-requiring things (tethered cord, maybe a rare syndrome) and I asked her a bunch of questions about it. After letting me know she was all offended about that and nobody in her career had such questions, she apparently did ask somebody else about it and changed her recommendation to have us see a neurosurgeon. It turns out one possibility is that Primrose might need a spine surgery. Another is that she could need monitoring for masses that can become cancerous. A third is that none of those things are true and we didn't see aaaanything.
|Best friends came to visit and fun was had by all.|
My boys would like this kid right here to live next door, please.
Me too, except we can't wrench them away from stupid snobby coffee-smelling Seattle.
I think I would be as intense an advocate for my boys if there were any question about medical things. I think I would... but this feels different. When we agreed to adopt our girl, I think we agreed to be fiercely involved with figuring out whatever she needs. One of the reasons we were allowed to adopt her is that our country has state of the art health care and trained doctors at the ready. It is a lot of pressure, and I'm disappointed that this first experience in mapping out her health involved me being a squeaky wheel already. I guess that's the way things are with a lot of modern medicine. I was hoping to have her all scanned, measured and tested, and then know what's going on in that cute little body once and for all. To passively receive the information from a team of super-with-it doctors... sigh.
|This makes Toby look like that Gulliver visiting a lilliputian.|
In reality, he visited a spinning toy on the playground and then went to lay down for a while.
As he tends to do...
Some of the things she might have are linked with genetic components and risk for them is inherited. I found a forum for one of the potential issues and it was full of moms who discovered they had this syndrome for the first time when it was diagnosed in their children. Others had their children tested in utero and were primed to check out their babies when they were born. We don't have the advantage of that kind of preparation, of knowing a single thing about what we're dealing with beyond what we've read on the internet. Both Jonathan and I grew up with medical parents (his dad is a fabulous Oncologist and my mom had a career as an OR specialty nurse), and neither of us are all that content with trusting the internet for these answers.
|She has a monkey hat and she's not afraid to use it.|
Notice she's set herself up here with a Pillow Pet, a book and her fashion accessories.
All a girl could want.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
|I've always thought OHSU was pretty, but approaching it today it looked overwhelming.|
The feeling was remarkably similar to audition anxiety without the excitement or pretty music.
|A kid in the next room started crying one second before this picture.|
This is her "Um, no." face.
We should have results from the MRI tomorrow, and then I need to sign the consents to send them along to the specialist in Cincinnati. Those are the kind of tasks I can handle.
|Isaac has been dancing a lot lately. It is spectacular.|
|Footed pajamas, eldest brother reading. A wholesome start to any day.|
|She did this "All Socks Are My Puppets (TM)" move in the front row of the Eugene Symphony kid's concert.|
It was entertaining. I especially liked when she clapped enthusiastically for us with one ensocked hand.
I am looking forward to the day after the results from the tests, the day everything relaxes and goes back to getting back at it. I painted my nails (almost never do the fingernails because it feels weird when I play) all sparkly tonight and then realized that's what I had done the day before she met us at the Children's Welfare Institute. She may be doomed to go through life with a strange aversion to tacky nail polish. I am throwing away the bottle if it's a bad day.
|Still a fan of balloons. Well played, spaghetti factory balloon animal guy!|
The last few weeks haven't been pretty. I had a disgusting case of pink eye which led to an infected cornea. I missed a symphony concert. It was a bummer. It feels better now, but I think it takes me longer lately to get back into our schedule whenever something pushes us off it. It's either a 3-kid thing or a 40-something thing. I think it's high time I re-read Getting Things Done or Letting Things Go or Drinking Wine for Fun and Profit.
|Isaac has figured out how to climb poles over concrete.|
I told him not to climb higher than my head.
Our insurance company doesn't read this blog thing, right?
|Thankfully one of her super-powers is not massive upper body strength.|