Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Tonsils, Lord help us

[I want this detail for myself in the future. No need to read if it's too much for your interest.]
So. I know that I had vented back in the spring about the recurrent strep throat in our family, and how Luke was the carrier and they ended up taking out his tonsil (along with adenoids and placing ear tubes), because they were causing him some other issues, and we were hoping that that would take care of the strep epidemic in our household. We went from May-September without any strep and I was crossing my fingers, hoping and praying that that would do it. And then:

- September 21st - a Sunday, a trip to the urgent care, Katy has strep
- October 30th - David has strep. I insisted they test Luke again to make sure he still isn't carrying it. Luke was negative (yay!). They make (another) ENT referral.
- November 10th - see the ENT. He said both Katy and David would definitely qualify for tonsillectomies, but the final call was mine. We could either schedule them, or wait a couple of months and see if they get it again. I hated that it was my call. But I felt like we had already "waited and saw" twice prior and they kept getting it. Plus we've already met our insurance deductible for the year and now's the time to do it if we're going to do it. So I schedule the procedures for both of them on December 3rd, and spend the week doubting the decision, especially when one of the children is very much not on board.
- November 13th - David has strep again. And this time he's really sick and misses 3 days of school. Feeling more confident about the decision every day.
- November 17th - I finally give in to the strep throat that I haven't had in 15 years or more. It was awful, the sickest I have been in a long time. I couldn't get out of bed for 3 days. My mom had to drive me to the doctor. Now I'm sure...the surgeries are the right decision.
- November 25th - last day of school before Thanksgiving break. Katy gets strep again, and this time she's really sick. (they've had it so much this year that sometimes for them it's mild and sometimes it's strong). Now SHE is on board. She doesn't care how hard the surgery will be. She wants these tonsils gone because she is really tired of being sick! Only 8 days away from surgery and realizing that she would still be on antibiotics when the date came, I spoke to the ENT that day and panicked when they said they might have to delay the surgery because of it. But by the end of the day, I had confirmation that as long as she didn't have a fever on the day of, they would proceed.
- November 29th - five days before surgery, David is positive AGAIN. We caught it early, got him started quickly, and it was a mild case. But at this point I was just hoping and praying that nothing would delay the surgeries. I really didn't want to run into Christmas or have to wait until after New Year's to do it.
- December 3rd - after 17 cases of strep in our family in 2014 (1 me, 1 Luke, 1 Anna, 8 David and 7 Katy), we had our 2nd and 3rd tonsillectomies of the year. Which will hopefully put a halt to the Year of Strep!

I was so totally impressed with how well the kids did leading up the surgery. Even going to school the day before, I assumed would be really hard (I remember from this summer that I was a wreck the day before my surgery). But they did really well. I think they were like me, just wanted to get it over with. And it helped all of us a LOT that we had just been through it with Luke at the same location, so we knew exactly what to expect. And it was a big plus for them that they were going to go through it together. They both mentioned it throughout the process, that is was great to have a buddy.

So the surgery center is really nice and they have everything down to a science. Katy and David were really excited to change into their scrubs and see what stuffed animal they would find on their bed. Then there was a lot of waiting. The waiting got hard for the last hour. And I was really thankful that they are able to give something to calm them down for the 30 minutes before surgery, otherwise that separation would have been really really hard.

David was literally looking forward to it. Oh, that kid.

The waiting. We will always remember this strangely bittersweet experience.

So the surgery went well, Katy's were more scarred than David's and therefore harder to get out and more difficult to heal. Once we got home, the first 16 hours or so went really well compared to Luke. They were sore and tired, but they ate ice cream and drank plenty and took their medicine and watched movies. I was thinking maybe we got really lucky or something.

But on day 2, Katy especially took a hard turn, spiking a high fever and just being really sick and in pain. It was scary and no fun at all. I was talking to nurses and doctors and laying awake next to her at night. But on day 3, her fever was better, she perked up here and there, still in pain, etc, and things started to get a little better each day. By day 4, we had stopped using the pain med and just giving ibuprofen and tylenol.

But then it has continued to be a slow progress. Today is day 7, and I remember feeling this way at this point with Luke. Everyone said it would be 10 days of recovery, but in your head you thought they'd be feeling pretty decent by day 7. But they are still pretty sick. David is doing better, but even he was up in the night panicked with pain. Last night was a really hard night. Up a lot, not much sleep. Several things are hurting, etc. And this time, we have the added pressure of needing to get back to school. Tomorrow is supposed to be their first day back, according to my school excuse. I think David will go, but Katy is nowhere near ready. She still has a fever and is not up to a normal activity level at all. They already came home with a huge pile of work to do while they were gone, and I'm afraid of them missing more school. David has finished his pile as of today, but I know he has another packet waiting for him at school. And Katy has barely made a dent in hers. I just know it's going to take awhile to get back on track. And next week is the last week before break!

But the sweet part of the week is what Katy said best: "When you have surgery, people really spoil you!". It's so true. Friends and family have shown up at our doorstep with meals, popsicles, movies, boredom gifts for the kids, you name it. And everyone has been checking in and so supportive. I'm really thankful that these surgeries are available to us and for the great health care that we have access to. I know that this is temporary and by next week we will hopefully be back to normal. I'm just tired, and missing some fun Christmas stuff, and also needing to get a move on getting ready for our own holiday. But it will come.

This year I found a personalized ornament shop online and let the kids pick something out, instead of going to Hallmark (which was getting expensive and they always picked out these media characters.) I'm happy with the results!

Hard to believe this is only her 2nd Christmas. And that she'll be two in just a few weeks!

The little heart says "Nanna," because that's what she calls herself.

Legos for Luke, of course.

A Cub Scout shirt for David.

Gymanstics for Katy - she has been loving her class at the rec center and has really been improving!

Mommy and Anna

Ever since the surgery, Luke has been sleeping alone in Katy and David's room so that Brian and I could care for Katy and David (each with one kid in bed with us). Last night we put him to bed and heard him moving around, but eventually he got quiet. When we went upstairs at 10:45, we found him sound asleep like this in the hallway. (That's his usual room where his feet are touching the door). I think he really wants to go back to his room. Poor little guy!

November: 40th birthday, Toothless, Feasts, and Buckeyes

This little stinker...she pushes stools up to reach whatever she darn well pleases. I have walked into the kitchen and found her with a carving knife in her hand, trying to open bottles of medication, spilling coffee all over, turning the water on in the sink, you name it! I am either holding her or she's getting into trouble...those are the only two modes of operation at this point.

November brought another special birthday: Brian's 40th! We had a really good weekend celebrating. Unfortunately, I was a dork and didn't get picture of the two biggest events. Friday night we went out to eat with friends, which never ever EVER happens, because if we are lucky enough to land a babysitter for the evening, the chances of your friends also lining up a babysitter on the same night are practically none. So it was really fun, we ate a lot, we laughed a lot, and our kids were all spending the night with grandparents so no one had to rush home. It was awesome.

Then on the morning of Brian's birthday (Saturday), he and Katy ran a 5K together, her first. We had done that same race the previous year and she had done the kids fun run, but then noticed some kids her age running the actual race and getting medals. Well...that was that, she just had to do it. So they trained together this fall - and she ran the whole thing without stopping, which was her goal. I was so proud! The only disappointment was that they didn't give out medals this year - one very disappointed girl.

We did lunch and cake and gifts with the kids at home and went to church. Then that evening, Brian went out to a new-ish sports bar in our town with a few of his friends to watch the OSU vs. Michigan State game. It ended up being a great game and he had a blast.

When Brian got to work that day, some of his co-workers had decorated his office to appear like a fish bowl - they really went all out, including photos of the kids and my faces floating around in the aquarium. Hilarious!

Some football chocolate covered strawberries from my Dad and Sue.

Ready to race!

Finishing strong! (I love this race, it is very close to us, very small, easy to park and get in and out.)

Now for some day-to-day stuff...

For a long time (maybe 5 years?) we had been in the routine of letting the kids watch TV in the morning, which was especially helpful when I was preggo-sick or nursing babies in the morning and trying to shower, etc, before school. This was the only time of the day that they watched any TV.  Recently I decided to try changing that routine to see if it would improve focus and behavior at school, especially for the boys. I thought it was going to be really hard to give it up. It wasn't at all, I was shocked! A couple of days in...I came down from taking a shower to find the boys writing their own Star Wars books  that they had put together themselves, after they had already played Legos. I felt silly that I hadn't done this sooner, because I really think it has improved our school mornings. (They do still watch some TV on days with no school, but it's less). 

Girl Scouts has been really busy this fall. This picture is from our trip to the Art Museum. They were carrying those folding chairs around and parking them in front of the paintings that they liked and then answering questions about them on their clipboards. They ALL parked in front of this one, which was just too cute. This year many of the girls are going to different schools, but it is really nice to have the troop to keep them seeing each other, because most of them will still end up in middle school together.

This was very upsetting. One evening shortly after all the offices close, Anna was heading up the steps, following her siblings up there, and Brian and I were taking our time to follow her (she's about 98% accurate on the steps at this point, so we've gotten lazy about closing the gate.) So you know the rest of the story...we heard a big tumble and a thud - she fell, thankfully only 3 or 4 steps, but the hardwood is not forgiving. At first we thought she bit her tongue because she was bleeding so much, but then we discovered a gaping whole in the bottom of her mouth...and found the missing tooth on the steps. I just felt sick about it - hated that she had fallen, that there was nothing that we could do, and that she would now have a blemish until she's 6 because of it (but I'm glad it's not a top tooth that is more noticeable). I called the pediatric dentist on call to make sure I wasn't supposed to do anything, but I didn't hear back until the next morning, in which he apologized profusely that he didn't call back...the cleaning staff found his phone overnight in the building where he dropped it on the way out. But as Google had already old me...there was nothing they could do about a baby tooth anyway. They made sure that nothing else was damaged and that's that. :(

Luke has been absolutely OBSESSED with Legos lately. Specifically, he wants to follow the instructions to build all the sets that we have. And I've been blown away at how well he can follow the instructions. This truck above took him days - hours and hours, (so much of that time is finding the pieces that he needs once they've been mixed in with all the other Legos.).

Just an example of the detailed instructions that he's following...about 90% on his own, to build these things. My grandpa says that Luke is going to be an engineer like he was, he recognizes that part of his thinking.

Helping Daddy make calzones one night. This girl loves her Daddy - he is definitely the fun parent.

Katy and David both earned a trip to the bowling alley as part of our "I Can Do Hard Things" campaign (Katy hates that name). I decided to try this new posh bowling alley and WOW. It was awesome. I'd like to go back there again with a big group of people.

These two. They are the most cuddly of the bunch, which I think draws them to each other, and it melts my heart. Anna is such a sympathetic soul...when any kid is crying, she sprints over to pat them on the back and say, "It okay, Bubby, it okay."
 Thanksgiving weekend was a lot of fun, even with two more cases of strep throat (more on this in the next post). Our Thanksgiving Day was low key. Mom, Mel and I started the morning with a 5 mile Turkey Trot. It was really fun, but also reeealllly cold and windy. We have signed up to do a half marathon in May, and I'm hoping the weather will be a bit warmer (but you never know).  Then we came home and ate casserole and watched the rest of the parade and relaxed. Then that evening we went out with the crazies and did a little shopping (Michael's and Old Navy). I know, I know...shame on us...but when my husband is off to watch the kids and my best two shopping buddies are also off work and available, you take what you can get.
Trying to stay warm before the race.

Friday we had my mom and Greg's whole family dinner at mom's house. It was a lot of fun and the kids really enjoy playing with Abby's boys. We've gotten to see them more often this year with more things to celebrate, it seems.

On Saturday, after a quick trip to the pediatrician and the pharmacy,  Melanie and I took the kids to Dayton to watch the Michigan game with my Dad and Sue. It was another awesome game with the exception of JT Barrett's injury...so sad. We ate a lot of good food and enjoyed the game together.

This is my dad's happy place.

Luke found some Legos, and much to Sue's amazement, she still had the 40 year old instructions for this helicopter - only missing one piece! Aunt Mel was proud that they got this thing together.

Meanwhile, Brian was at the game with his friend JT. They rushed the field afterwards, which took me back...Brian rushed the field after the Michigan victory back in 2002 that sent us to the National Championship - wearing a sombrero because it meant we were going to the Fiesta Bowl (which of course we won).  And since I am writing this in December and know where we are headed...could this be...foreshadowing??
You still got it honey, just like when you were in your 20's!!

And now it's time to get ready for Christmas...look what we found in our bin of Christmas decorations that we forgot that we purchased after season last year...

I bet this girl will get into it more this year. She can say Ho Ho Ho but she wants NOTHING to do with Santa. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

The rest of October: 90th birthday, apple orchard, Halloween

I'm so behind...it's' December 8th, but I do want to keep up with at least a minimum of sharing the major developments. So first, let me just finish up the rest of our happenings from October and then move on to November.

The biggest occasion in October was a special one. My grandpa turned 90 on September 24th and my Granny will turn 90 on January 7th. They celebrated 68 years of marriage in August. So we had a 90th birthday party for the two of them. They are two amazing people, and everyone who knows them loves them. As I posted on Facebook:

Today I had the fantastic privilege of celebrating 90 years of life for both of my grandparents, Garl and Ruth. They grew up together in small town, Indiana, were high school sweethearts, but then Granny waited and worked while Grandpa flew bombers in WWII (including Normandy on D-day, receiving several medals of honor). When he returned, they married (68 yrs ago) and he went to college on the GI bill and became an engineer. He built the two homes they lived in with his own two hands while Granny raised my mom and uncle (and worked for Weight Watchers for many many years). To this day, Grandpa rides his bike to get the mail and chops his own firewood and drives back and forth to Indiana to fix up their rental property. They are humble, loving, Godly people and everyone who has known them has loved them. I love you so much and I'm so fortunate to have you as grandparents. The greatest generation, indeed.

Melanie decorated the house with old pictures, it was really neat. The picture on the right side of this frame was taken one time that they dropped me off at college in Ithaca, NY.

Over the years with their kids...my mom and Uncle Neil.

We had to add a third string when guests brought more photos to the party. This was my favorite part, and I could tell that it meant a lot to my grandparents.

More photos...including some very stylish ones over the years.

Aunt Mel, being Aunt Mel to Abby's boys, too.

The party...so nice to have time with everyone. On the far right is Granny's brother, Uncle Ward to me. He drove down from the UP in Michigan! Several other extended families members wanted to come from Indiana, but there happened to be two weddings in the family that same day: one of Grandpa's great nephews and one of Granny's great nieces. Who would've thought?

Granny and Grandpa with their Greats. Luke, Nate, David, Gabe, Anna, and Katy.

This is what 90 years of wisdom looks like. Love them!

With their grands. Abby, Mel, and I.

And of course with my mom and Neil. It was a special day!
The following weekend we had a nice visit from Grammy and Papa John from Kentucky. We went apple picking and made apple butter and applesauce with my new Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer attachment (that thing is amazing!). The kids had a great time with them.

  And then came Halloween, with all of it's festivities. As is par for the course for us this year, we were battling strep throat through Halloween...and just barely made it trick or treating and to class parties. (David was positive just hours before trick or treating, and I took him to school at noon the next day (after the 24 hour antibiotic mark) so he could go to his party. The 31st was party central for me - I went to 3 school parties in 3 buildings all at different times. Thank goodness that my mom has been available this month (in between jobs), because Anna would have been toast. 

Also this year, I took the easy route for costumes. The thing is...the boys play with their costumes ALL the time. Almost daily, all year long, until they literally fall apart at the seams. So I decided that if there was superhero that they wanted to be, I would get a good coupon (got a 40% off at Target!) and just purchase the costume new, because they will get lots of play out of them. So...David was Darth Vader, Luke was Batman, Katy picked out a girl pirate (I'm just glad she didn't want to be Katy Perry just yet), and Anna was the 4th and final lamb (you may have seen the collage that Brian made of all 4 of them wearing it on FB). 

I loved that Beggar's Night was the night before Halloween this year. We had perfect weather, and the kids weren't already completely worn out from class parties. Our neighbor Asher went with us, and he had borrowed our Wolverine costume (David wore it last year), so he literally seemed like one of ours. I kept thinking he was one of my kids all night. I just LOVE Beggar's Night. Because I love neighbors and everyone is out and excited and friendly. It's awesome.

We went over to Oma's for the 2nd half. Katy really wanted to hand out candy and one of her good friends lives next door to Oma. They live on a busy corner in a neighborhood with lots of kids, so it is just really fun to be there.

This is the scene for a solid week afterwards. Sorting, trading, counting, dealing. Until we do a candy draft, make them pick 10 pieces each and donate the rest. Because otherwise it would go on until Christmas.