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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Back To School Preparations

  It seems as though we barely had summer--the weather didn't feel summery for most of the time at all!  I think perhaps we had two modes:  rain, rain, and more rain and then too-hot-and-humid-to-move.  Most of our plans kept getting postponed over and over again and now, summer is gone and school is just round the corner.

So we are busy little bees, going to school open houses and delivering school supplies and washing school clothes.  I think my boys' favorite part of back to school is deciding what are the best kinds of breakfasts to have :)  And I can understand why they are so preoccupied with food--both of them seem to be in the midst of growth spurts and think about food all. the. time.  

The mister is away for a bit working and to help him save money on food, I prepped him a box full of shelf stable, easy to fix meals--including breakfast.  He left with a months worth of homemade, extra large helping, instant oatmeal packets.  The boys wanted their own so we took a tour of my cupboards so they could pick out the toppings they liked.  Now, oatmeal is easy to make right then and there but I have most of a box of powdered milk (yuck) left and they thought this was super fun so we bought a container of quick oats instead of our usual old-fashioned oats and went to work.

We had a little assembly line going with their favorites--walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, sugar.  Some oatmeal, some powdered milk, some toppings, zip it up, put their name on it, and into the basket it went.  We made them last night and this morning they wanted to know if it was time to "just add hot water!"  Haha--school isn't in session just yet boys :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, August 25, 2013

We have a rider!

When S was younger, he wanted a bike so bad. It was all he talked about, all he wanted. So for his birthday, he got a bike and helmet.  Even with training wheels, he fell often so we added knee and elbow pads :p

S loved the idea of riding a bike but he had so much anxiety over it he rarely wanted to do. Attempting to learn to ride without training wheels over the last three years has been futile--he was just too anxious.

And then he started therapy through the ADHD clinic :-)  One of the things they have been working on is his anxiety issues and he has been doing awesome at overcoming some of his fears.

I wasn't there when he learned to ride solo but when I pulled up, he was raring to go and show me his newfound skills.  He was so excited and proud.

And then he got really anxious about it because he forgot his helmet.  Oh, anxiety, you do love to join us on every occasion!

Friday, August 23, 2013

I think my kid might be a Hobbit.....

He has had three breakfasts today.  He ate all day long yesterday--I have no idea where he is putting it all!  I expect that he will appear at any moment to see if he can have a snack.  Or maybe a full meal.  Eat Eat Eat.

I think I'll make up a big batch of pasta salad with extra veggies so he has something quick and easy and relatively healthy to chomp on.

What do you keep on hand when your kids go on a neverending eating streak?  I need ideas!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Did you see the crazy people in the parking lot?

Two days ago, B and I were holding hands as we crossed the parking lot.  It was a usual scene for us--I am walking slowly because B must hop and twist and shimmy his way across the lot so he can avoid stepping on the yellow lines.  Blue lines are sometimes ok but today he cannot step on them either so it is taking us a while to get just a few feet.  We come to an island and I give a little sigh of relief because we can walk across it and avoid two whole feet of lines and move a little faster.  Our van is just a few spots down so we are almost there.  B jumps off the curb of the island........and lands directly on a yellow line.

He goes absolutely still and then his whole body begins to tremble.  I freeze, my breath catching in my throat as I think about the complete and utter meltdown we are about to see.  B does NOT step on yellow lines.  Ever.  He is shaking hard at this point and I wait for it--but it does not come.  He takes a deep breath and very deliberately steps on the next yellow line.  He pauses, looks up at me and grins and then deliberately steps on the next one.  And I become the crazy person in the parking lot--I cheer for him and we clap together and maybe there may have even been a little jumping up and down.

I told his Dad all about it and yesterday we go to Target.  The Mister asks B if he stepped on yellow lines yesterday and B grins at him and says "yup."  The Mister asks if he can do it again and he tells us, "YEAH!"  We all get out and B jumps onto a yellow line and yells, "I DID IT."  Then he tells us one by one to step on a line (something he has struggled with in the past--not only could he not step on one but neither could any of us) and each time we do he yells out "YOU DID IT."  And there is much cheering and clapping and dancing and yes, we were the crazy people in the parking lot two days in a row.

But you know what?  Being the crazy person in the parking lot felt pretty darn good because B stepped on a yellow line and that is HUGE for him.  It deserves happy screams and cheers and hand clapping and dancing.  I don't know if it will last, if he will continue to be able to step on yellow lines.  But for right now he can and it is still new enough that I will happily be the crazy person in the parking lot :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I kinda feel like I live in my car these days.....So much driving!  But the kids are enjoying their various therapies and we are starting to see a difference for them so its worth it :) 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A new favorite

Last week our favorite vendor at the Farmer's Market was selling big beautiful bunches of basil for a dollar.  I had to buy some and make some pesto sauce :p  It is one of my favorites and has also become a favorite for the boys--S thinks we should have some at every meal now ;-)

Yesterday's trip to the Farmer's Market provided the veggies for a pesto-based dinner:


In blender/food processor, pulse two tightly packed cups of basil, a large clove of garlic, a half cup of walnuts (I prefer the taste to pine nuts), and a half cup of olive oil.  Then stir in a half cup of Parmesan and add lemon juice to taste.  If its too thick, add in a little extra olive oil.


Saute together 2 cups cubed summer squash (yellow), half a cup of fresh green beans (cut into one to two inch pieces, half a cup of thinly sliced carrots, and a tablespoon of Italian herbs.  Cook until tender but firm.  After heat is off, toss in a half cup of halved cherry tomatoes

Toss veggies and half a box of cooked tri-color rotini with half the pesto sauce.  Add more pesto if the pasta isn't coated enough and then enjoy the rest of the pesto the next day on sandwiches ;-)

My kids like to sprinkle a little more Parmesan on top before they eat :) 

Friday, August 9, 2013

New purple cast.

Her favorite color :)  She sure was mad we were leaving, though--they had fun stuff to play with at the hospital!

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Our sixth trip of the week into the City.  Eighty miles round trip each time.  I need a nap.

But at least our orthopedics trip was a double appointment so it was only one drive instead of two ;)  S was in to have her incision sites checked out (surgery two weeks ago!) and he got the all clear to be back to normal activity :)  He is happy he can go crazy on the playground again!  He was a bit confused about how quick his portion of the appointment went--Dr. J came in, looked at the incisions, checked to see if any dissolveable stitches were poking out, told him it looked good and he could go back to normal activities and that was that.

Iz was there on referral from her pediatrician to check over her legs and feet because of the toe walking and a slight limp.  The limp is completely gone and she has started walking a little more normally--she still gets up on her toes but not as much.  He said everything looked good structurally and the fact that she is getting those feet down more is good.  Since the limp is gone, we are back to wait and see since the toe-walking can be considered normal up to age five.

He looked over her x-rays from Monday and decided we would go ahead and cast today instead of waiting for next week--if he had been on-call Monday, they would have gone ahead and casted her then instead of waiting since he didn't think the amount of swelling she had should have affected a cast.  He cut off the splint and checked out her arm and movement and then she got a purple cast--she is much happier with it since it is lighter, less bulky, and he did not include her wrist and thumb in the cast so she can use her hand again.  Her break is up on the humerus so she didn't need her wrist immobilized for the next three weeks.  In three weeks we go back and she should be able to get the cast off.


Iz's cardiology appointment was fantastic.

When we got there, we were the only ones in the waiting room and she had fun walking around and bringing me magazines off the tables :p  She loves to just go, pick one up, bring it to me, go back, repeat, over and over LOL  The tech came out and called us back and she did NOT like being in the EKG room.  She fussed and cried as soon as we walked in and so we got a weight of "about 37 pounds" because she wouldn't hold still long enough for a more accurate weight.  Height was a no-go as well so they got a ballpark figure from the one time she held still for a second :\ 

She was not having any of it when it came to getting the stickers on for the EKG so the tech asked if he could get her a sucker--we didn't even open it, she just held it and looked at it and he got the EKG first try :p

Next we headed to Dr. E's office--she opened her sucker and started licking it and when the doc came in, she fussed at him about having to lay down for an echo until we reminded her she had a sucker.  She HATES having people touching her scar so echoes are usually one long scream-fest but that sucker kept her calm and quiet and she laid there watching the screen working her way through that tootsie pop ;-)

The extra heart sounds the doctors were hearing and the clicking I sometimes hear are expected and normal for her--her cardio said that some of it is caused by the fact that she has two superior vena cavas instead of just one (a normal one has a branch from the left and one from the right and they come together in a y before entering the heart.  Iz's branches never came together so she has two separate single vessels that feed into her heart.  They come from the correct places and both connect to the proper chamber of the heart, they just are separate instead of a y) and some of it is simply a side effect of having surgery and having heart tissue disturbed and "remapped".  He says it isn't something to take for granted that the extra sounds are always OK and that is one reason why she has yearly appointments so we can take a good look at her EKG and echo and make sure there are no other problems causing extra sounds.  As long as her tests look good (for her), the sounds are just her normal.

The best news of all?  Her right pulmonary artery stenosis is GONE.  Her surgeon thought there was a chance the narrowed artery could open on its own and grow to match the left once her heart was fixed and the right side was being used normally (the left was overworked because of the blood flowing the wrong way through her VSD and being overcirculated through her lungs) and he was right!  It has caught up and her function is beautiful :)

Dr. E said that her heart will never be "normal" because her anatomy and surgery means her EKGs and heart sounds will always be "off" but her function right now is great and at the moment, she has no restrictions.  She has her own "normal" and he is optimistic that she will hold steady for a long while.  Just don't forget to keep those yearly appointments to make sure ;-)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


This time of year always reminds me of my Grandmother; I have been thinking of her a lot the last few days.  When I was a little girl, she lived about ten miles away.  Behind her house was the biggest garden I had ever seen (and with thirteen living children, summertime gardening was a must to keep them all fed).  It was filled with good things to eat and I loved mid-summer when my favorites were ready for harvesting.  She moved away when I was in fourth grade and no longer gardened down South but little pockets of memory are hiding here and there in my mind--sitting at her feet while she rocked and snapped the ends off the green beans, eating tomatoes whole like an apple still warm from the sunshine, watching her slice slightly green and firm tomatoes and enjoying a nice tomato and toast sandwich with her, giggling with my cousin in the corn stalks while she pretended to look for us.  When the farmer's markets begin to overflow with cucumbers and tomatoes and beans and corn, I can't help but think of her.  Plus, it is the best time of year to get my kids to eat veggies--the cucumbers don't have that weird waxy coating on them so my kids will happily eat the skins, the tomatoes have that sweet taste to them instead of the bland mush of trucked in tomatoes, green bean and string beans have that tender crisp to them instead of the chewy texture of frozen/canned.  I garden a little but not to the extent she did--I just don't have the room she had as landlords only let you dig up little pieces of your yard for veggie plants ;)  I know she gardened to save money but I wonder if she always loved the way her Littles would clear their plates of veggies the way mine do?  I wonder if she made sure to have extra plants of their favorite things, just to see them get excited to pick it and eat it before it even made it inside?  I wish she was still here to ask these things.  

I used to think that when I got married, I would go to TN and get married in the tiny little chapel in the old Mill in Cumberland Gap so she could be there.  When I was in graduate school, she was older and didn't really travel anymore.  If I wanted her to be with me, I would have to go to her.  And I so wanted her with me.  I wanted her to meet my children and feed them oranges the way she did for me (they were my favorite and I could never resist them so she would make sure to buy some when she knew I was coming to visit when I was a little girl).  I wanted them to sit at her feet as she rocked back and forth snapping beans and talked about her childhood.  I wanted them to explore the land around her home and rush in to tell her about their finds, the way I had.  And then she was gone.  The closest I can get to sharing my children with her is to tell them about the oranges and the green beans and playing hide and seek in the corn.  

I wonder if they will come to associate summertime with her as well?  It is the time of year I talk about her the most, the time of year she is on my mind often.  I'm glad, though--so many of those I have loved and lost I associate with the time of year they died.  My Grandma, though, I think of most often during the time of year she loved, the time of year she really lived.  She wasn't a fan of winter but she surely did love the summertime :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Daredevil

  This morning started out like every other weekday morning.  The early morning wakeup, snuggles in bed, the alarm going off and telling Iz to "go all the way through" (she goes through the kitchen into the living room so I can secure the baby gate behind her), waking up the boys, setting out clothes so everyone can get dressed.  We have it pretty much down so we can do what we need to do and get out the door to get S to school (or day camp at the school).  

And then Iz decides that Mom going into the bathroom is a fine time to practice her Daredevilry and she jumps off the sofa.  And that cry fills the air that tells you this is no ordinary bump or bruise.  I knew immediately she broke it by the way she cried, the way she held it, the way she moved it and didn't move it.  And I chided myself for thinking that way because surely, she just sprained it a little and the ER staff would give me The Look they reserve for overprotective parents bringing in their kid for normal kid stuff.  But take her in I would because that little nagging voice said she needed an X-ray, just to be sure.  

I call Mr. Piper home from his on-the-way-home-from-work errands to drive S to school so I can take the Littles up the Children's Hospital.  When we get there, the general consensus from nurses and residents checking her in is that she probably just bruised it a little but it doesn't appear broken--she tells you OW when you move her elbow and slaps your hands away but if it was broken, she would be reacting more.  Perhaps I should have told them this was the girl who attempted to remove her own chest tubes with her feet and that multiple doctors and nurse commented on never seeing a child so calm getting extubated and having her pacer wires and chest tubes taken out.  Either she has a very high pain tolerance or she has the world's best poker face.

She gets changed into a little gown and for a moment, it makes me both sad and proud.  I remember how the itty bitty yellow gowns were so huge on her before her surgery and now she had graduated to the "big kid" blue gowns they give to Sterling! It was still a little big on her but the yellow would have been far too small.  She wasted no time exploring the room and checking everything out.  The arm you see hanging straight down is the hurt one--she didn't move it if she didn't have to and squawked at any medical personnel who made her move it.  If I didn't hold her good hand, she smacked people :p  The stroller there wasn't for her--my Busy Little B was corralled in it since he decided to leave his shoes at home and I didn't realize the Mister didn't bring them out to the car with B after B used the potty (when, oh when, will he outgrow the phase where he cannot wear his socks and shoes and go potty on his own?  If I am right there to stop him from taking them off, he will leave them on but let him go alone and he comes back barefoot.....).

The Dr asked Iz to tell her and show her where her ouchies were but she refused to answer.  As soon as the Dr left, however, Iz came over to tell me all about it.  And to demand some "snaps" (she and Bryce have taken to calling getting their photo taken "snaps"):
holding out her injured elbow and demanding a "snap" of it
telling me she has an ouchie
Mad that I asked if she had any other ouchies and was no longer paying attention to her elbow
Leaning on the wall telling me her ouchie is an owie
B and I got to be in the computer room and watch her x-rays come up on the screen--he thought that was super cool.  When I saw them, I knew she has broken the bone near the elbow but again I chided myself for thinking that way because I don't know how to read x-rays :p  Surely that line there isn't an actual break.  Yes, yes it was.  The position of the break was borderline for surgery--a little further over and she would have been put on the day's schedule to have pins placed.  The orthopedic team had to have a little conference and decided that they will try a splint first and see if they can avoid surgery so she got her little "cast" and we follow up both at her regularly scheduled appointment for the toe-walking on Thursday and then her official follow-up next week.
showing me her "cast"
 Aside from the occasional "OW" when she moves it wrong or bumps into something, the cast is barely slowing her down.  I have caught her climbing several times, she has tripped over her own feet and fallen a few times, she has figured out how to work all her favorite toys one-handed, and she insisted on feeding herself (with a little help from mom stabbing stuff with her fork for her).  Bedtime, though, was a little rough since she had trouble getting comfortable :(  She ended up snuggled up in my bed and has been sleeping sounding for an hour now.  I should head to bed myself because we have cardiology in the morning!
finally comfortable enough to sleep
My pre-cardio-appointment jitters are through the roof tonight--they weren't so terribly bad until the ER doc told me she was hearing "extra heart sounds" when she examined Iz.  Iz had NO murmurs at her cardio appointment last year so I can't help but worry the murmur the ER doc heard is related to Iz's pulmonary artery stenosis.  What if it is worse?  What if she needs a cath now and ballooning?  What if a cath isn't enough and she needs full-on OHS again?  What if Dr W had to completely replace the artery with a donor one?  What if what if what if what if.  Chances are it is nothing, perhaps not even there.  Maybe the doctor heard what she thought she should hear.  *sigh*  Sometimes I think I am just a crazy person.


Monday, August 5, 2013