Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Doing Great

Well, my father's surgery went well. I am sooo relieved. The doctor was able to do and see everything he needed to. Everything looks great. I was going nuts all morning. When my mother called I felt like the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders. Whew!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miss M. Update

Well, the amazing Madeline is just growing leaps and bounds. She is solidly wearing 2T clothes and a few 3T dresses. It is crazy!

She is sleeping in her toddler bed like a champ. She did not get up during the night at all last weekend. She has actually been going down easily and waking up just a little earlier than usual. I am so glad we made that change. I was just so scared about her climbing out of the crib and falling. She is a very nimble climber!!

Madeline is also doing very well with potty training. For the most part she stays dry all day. We do have the I am too busy playing accident every once in a while. She does wear a pull up for nap and bed. She doesn't seem to mind it at all. She will NOT allow us to put a diaper on her though. She tells us she is a big girl!!

Madeline has a HUGE vocabulary! It regularly catches us off guard. There really isn't much she can't or won't say. She still has very normal sentence structure issues, but that is really it. She talks in longer sentences. A 5-6 word sentence is very common for her. She uses words appropriately the majority of the time. It has been so cool watching her try out new words and phrases. She is one smart cookie.

She has now cut all of her molars! Whew!! I am hoping the never ending runny nose will now disappear. She handled these teeth MUCH better than when she was cutting teeth nonstop a year ago. Really the only sign we had that she was cutting teeth was the nose. She is a trooper.

Madeline is just a blessing. 'Nuff said.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Another Update

Well, on Wednesday my father is going in for surgery. He is having two kidney stones surgically removed from one kidney and the other kidney scoped. The kidney without the stones looks mishapen. The doctor is unsure what is going on. My dad will have two stints in until Monday. Hopefully we will have some answers from all of this.

Also, my sister, Maureen, who lives in Australia has had a death in her husband's family. As selfish as this may sound.. it was almost a relief. SO MANY PEOPLE say deaths come in threes. SO... I am counting this one as number three. I wish we were closer to be a support to her and Nick during this difficult time.

Finally, Jerry emailed me today asking for our doctor's phone number. He said his left arm was hurting him from his elbow to his chest. SAY WHAT?!?!?! Talk about receiving an email I didn't want! So, he ended up going to Urgent Care. They did an EKG and didn't find anything. They aren't sure what is causing the discomfort. They put him on an anti-inflammatory script. He will consult with our doctor when she returns from vacation.

So.. our house has yet to calm down, though I am sure quiet days are just ahead.

Weekend Fun

Well, we interrupted our normal round of stress and strife for a little weekend fun.

First, James had his All County Chorus performance on Saturday at the Wesley Chapel Fine Arts Center. It was wonderful! We ordered the CD and such so he will always have a copy. I am proud of him for putting in months of rehearsals and giving up two complete Saturdays for final preparation. It was a great show.

Next, I went to a Thirty-One party at my friend's house. I love the products that they sell. It has been nice picking up a few things here and there. I bought a new bag for our pool stuff. It is great! It is blue, lined and will have our family name on it. It is bigger than the bag I currently carry to the pool. I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Finally, on Sunday we had a family cookout. It was such a great time. My aunt and cousins and their families came. My parents were there, too! We always have a great time when we are all together. It was nice to be together for no reason at all. I think it was good for all of us. We had burgers and dogs. Everyone brought salads and beans and chips and soda and dessert, etc... no one went home hungry. We are going to try to do a better job getting together more frequently.

We have a crazy week ahead of us... I am hoping that a week from now we will have an empty calendar.

Crossing fingers!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Updates to Come

I am going to try to post a few updates this weekend. Life has been non stop the past few weeks.

First, my father is having surgery on Wednesday. He did Pre-Op testing/bloodwork yesterday. He ended up going to AZ for the second funeral, but having to come home immediately due to pain and discomfort.

I am glad he was able to go. It was just a little frightening getting the call that he was really not doing well and to please meet my parents at the airport.

The last few weeks have brought a few realizations to me.
1. Life is precious and fragile. (I already knew this but it has certainly been a reaffirmation.)
2. Life is changing. It is now my turn to start taking care of my parents. They have slowly become more dependent on me... and that is fine with me.
3. It is important to keep in touch with family members and not let tragedy be what brings you back together.

I am sure there are many more things I have realized lately... those are just a few.

Monday, April 21, 2008
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rough Week

My uncle died Friday. On Saturday another uncle of mine died. My aunt lost her brother and husband within 24 hours of each other. On Monday my father was taken to the hospital. On Tuesday he checked himself out to go to his brother's funeral. On Wednesday... back to the hospital. This morning he checked himself out to FLY to Arizona to the next funeral. Oh yeah.. yesterday, Riley's PE teacher decided he should participate in class... against the Dr. note AND my note and he hurt his stitches.

I am stressed!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ups and Downs

Life in our casa has been crazy. Riley is on the mend, feeling strong and more energetic every day. It is so good to see him emerge from this in such a happy way. Madeline made the move to the big girl bed and has had dry panties for days. (Except that lovely little accident yesterday which was not pee. Umm.. gross. James has a sore neck from football. He has been incredibly helpful this past week.

Last week my uncle... my dad's brother, was not feeling well. He just couldn't shake feeling sick. My aunt took him to the doctor. He was immediately transferred to the hospital. (A little background... my aunt and uncle live near us. I actually lived with them for a year in college. They have been a constant support system for me over the years. I love them.) Well, my uncle's platelet count was way off. He also was diagnosed with MRSA. This is one nasty virus. Over the next few days he just wasn't rebounding. The super antibiotics weren't working. Three days ago my uncle lost consciousness. That same day the doctors said he also has Leukemia. They weren't able to diagnose which form of leukemia immediately since they were dealing with the virus, too. Two days ago my uncle was put on a respirator. Yesterday his body temperature sky rocketed to 103. Even while packed in ice it only went down to 102.7. Today he had a massive brain bleed. The doctors told us that the form of leukemia he has is generally fatal within 4 months of onset. They believe he has had it for a few months already. He was put on life support.

My cousins who are out of town are making arrangements to get here. After they are all here my uncle will be removed from life support after they say their goodbyes. My father will lose a sibling for the first time. He is trying to be brave, tough, Mr. Strong... but I know this is just so hard on him.

I have explained to the boys what is happening. James will be a great support for his cousin who is losing her grandfather since he has lost a grandparent, too. He understands.

The services will be next week. I need to do everything possible to help my family through this difficult time. I know we are all keenly aware that my uncle will be without pain and in the arms of God... but we still mourn.

Life has unbelievable ups and downs, twists and turns.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Teacher Post... & Parent Post

Remediation –noun - the correction of something bad or defective
noun -act of correcting an error or a fault or an evil

Okay, I am a teacher and a parent. Well, actually, I am a parent who just happens to be a teacher as my job. I have a child who is making gains at school. This child has shown more than a year's worth of growth. This child is not performing on grade level across the board. Here is my problem.

I disagree completely with the way this child is being taught. The child is pulled out of class up to 15 times a week for small group activities. This is being called remediation. Look at the definition above. That is what the educational system is calling providing help to students. I have thought a lot about this topic. I do not, for the life of me, understand how a child can be expected to meet "grade level expectations" when they are not being taught on grade level material. This is causing me a great amount of discourse.

I do not see how it is EVER beneficial to pull a child out of class an average of three times a day not counting lunch and specials. That is actually 5 times a day the child is out of the classroom. A child being pulled out like that is getting pulled an average of about once an hour away from the teacher. How can this be a best practice??? Let's not even factor in trips to the library, running errands for the teacher, etc.

As a teacher with almost 20 years of experience under my belt I am furious with the current state of the educational system.

We have the NCLB legislation. I understand the intent completely. I also know that schools and districts must assess student growth... so standardized tests are used.

Now, this is where the water gets even more muddy. We are "remediating" students. The goal is to get them to "catch up". We test them on grade level specific material. We remediate them with below grade level material. HOW ARE THESE CHILDREN SUPPOSED TO TAKE A TEST THEY HAVE NOT BEEN ADEQUATELY PREPARED FOR????? Many of these students have received little to no on grade level instruction yet they are expected to perform successfully on on grade level material. How can this be??

Okay.... I do think we can provide appropriate leveled reading groups while exposing students to grade level material.

This is not a new frustration for me. It has just taken a very different perspective for me lately.

MY CHILD IS THE ONE WHO WAS BEING PULLED 15 TIMES A WEEK!! No one told me this was happening. I was not informed that 6 different adults were teaching my child this year. That number is not counting special area teachers.

How can a child learn how to work independently if constantly pulled into a small group out of the classroom?
How can a child pass an on grade level test when not being taught on grade level material?
How can the educational system believe that remediation is the key.. not instruction?
How can a school pull a child out of class 15 times a week and never notify the parent?

I am ticked.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Big Girl Bed

Let's Change Things UP!!

Well, my baby girl is growing up. I know this is a good thing, but it is also extremely difficult for me. She is my baby! (Actually, I have a hard time with all three of them growing up!) I have been thinking alot lately about moving Madeline out of the crib. She will be 2 and a half next month. She hasn't complained about the crib. She doesn't protest going down to bed. BUT.. she is a climber. We have found her on top of the changing table, on top of the bathroom counter, on the kitchen table, on the air hockey table, on the kitchen counter... the list goes on and on. My girl can CLIMB like the best of them. The idea of her deciding to climb out of her crib terrifies me. So, that outweighed any dreams I had of keeping this remnant of babyhood, the crib.

Two days ago I showed her all of the pieces of the toddler bed. I explained to Madeline that this was going to be her big girl bed. She smiled and nodded and said yes, Mama.. but I had no clue if she understood. Yesterday we pulled out all of the pieces and began assembling her bed. She watched and helped and handed daddy screws like a champ. She was VERY into building the big girl bed. Her brothers hovered around helping and throwing dolls at each other. (Yup, they are all boy!)

After the bed was assembled Madeline put her blankies and babies onto the new bed. She covered her babies up and kissed them goodnight. It was so cute. We ate dinner and talked about the big girl bed. We took pictures of the big girl bed. It was a celebratory mood.

Right before bedtime we broke out the new Princess sheets. Talk about being over the moon. Madeline was in heaven. She couldn't believe how lucky she was. She laughed and pointed and showed her brothers her bed. It was adorable.

Next came bedtime. We bathed Madeline and put her in her pajamas. We followed the exact night time routine we always have. We rocked and sang songs. Daddy flew her through the air to bed.

Right as she hit the pillow she said..................... no.

I swooped in and started bouncing her on her big girl bed, getting her to laugh. We then made a quick exit and waited. We stood by Madeline's door for a few minutes listening to.... silence.

Madeline slept through the night in her big girl bed. Heck, she slept in until 9am which is a first. This morning we heard her door open and out she walked proud as can be, carrying her blankie. She was so happy. She brought me in to see her bed. She sat on it and said "Madeline nap bed." We cheered. We danced. Woohooo!!

So.. now we will see how nap time goes today. The crib is still assembled and ready if needed. I have a feeling that this little lady who has always been very independent is going to do just fine. She is a strong person with great pride.

I love you Miss M and am so proud of you sleeping in your big girl bed!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Downhill Slide

Today started out great. Riley was feeling happy and fiesty. Around mid morning things changed. He started complaining of pain. He has not really complained a lot so this was new. He had some bandage issues which didn't help at all.

Well, around mid day I just knew I had to do something to help him. I gave him some of his Codeine. (He had not taken any in two days.) I fed him lunch and then took action. Once I knew the meds had kicked in I removed the bandage that was causing him so much discomfort. He cried and cried. It just broke my heart. James stood by his head, saying soothing words to him, rubbing his hair and just being a great big brother.

After I cleaned the area I was able to get a good look at one of the two surgery sites. OH MY GOSH! It looked horrible. Now, I did not lead on to Riley that I was shocked by how it looked. I showed him the area and explained to him that the area was bruised and swollen. I told him that everyday it would look a little better. He was still crying, but understood. After that I was able to put antibiotic cream on the site. He was terrified as I approached the area. I don't know how I did it and didn't cry in front of him. It was just heart wrenching. After I finished he said he couldn't walk. I know this was from everything being so traumatic.

Well... let me tell you about divine intervention. After about 10 minutes of playing quietly with James the doorbell rang. A box arrived in the mail from my great friend Jenni in TN. It was JUST what Riley needed. He was so happy and excited. He opened the gift to find an amazing array of quiet time activities. Riley asked James to join him and the two spent about an hour coloring and reading books together from the care package. When they finished Riley packed everything up back into the gift bag and carried it with him where ever he went for the rest of the day. It is actually sitting next to his bed right now. He has already asked James to color with him again tomorrow. THANK YOU JENNI!!!!!

Tomorrow we will need to remove the remaining bandages. It is not going to be easy. Riley knows we are going to do it. He understands that it needs to be done. He, also, knows it is going to hurt. I wish I could cast a magic spell to take the pain away. I wish these bandages would just miraculously fall off during the night. It just hurts my heart to the core to know my baby is hurting.

My baby is hurting and I can't do anything about it. This has to be the worst part about being a parent.

Busy Boy

Riley is a very busy boy. This has been true since the day we first held him. He loves to be active... run, climb, jump, you name it. He is one tiny little dynamo. He is a solid muscle from head to toe with close to no body fat. He is one lean, mean, playing machine.

All of that is great.... when he is HEALTHY. These are currently the curses of childhood after surgery.

Riley does not understand that he can't jump from the couch onto the floor and land and roll across the room with two sets of stitches in him.

Oh yes, my boy is feeling better... but not slowing down. He is still limping along when he walks. He feels the pain and discomfort... but he is a kid! He wants to run and play and jump and wrestle.

The two new Leapster games have been a blessing. The new DVD's have been a God-send. The new 100 piece puzzles have been a great time killer!

So, today I will head out to try to purchase a few more new activities to keep Mr. Ri busy and calm.

Riley is one busy boy and I wouldn't want him any other way. I just want him to heal and not hurt.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Day 3 Synonym


Umm... that would be the understatement of the century. We have one very unhappy little man with us today. I don't blame him one bit. He has even taken to being a mimic in a quite obnoxious way when he doesn't like what he is hearing. It takes a lot of patience to redirect his behavior without getting mad. He is just not happy. Riley is walking like he just spent a month riding a horse. Poor baby!

Also, having a two year old sister who does not understand why she is not the center of the universe right now doesn't help. She has the extreme need to put herself into the middle of anything that is happening. Not fun.

We are doing well, really, overall. This is just one of the things we must go through during this process.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

What a Day!

Well, we arrived at ACH at 12:45 pm. We did all of the Pre-Op stuff and were sent to the playroom. Riley enjoyed all of the video games. It really helped to pass the time. At about 1:45 they told us the doctor was running behind. We figured, no problem. Oddly enough at 2:05 they came to bring us back to the holding room where the kids go to directly before the OR. Well, they brought us back there WAY too soon. Riley ended up spending an hour there. Thank goodness we were able to stay with him. He had his blankie and a television so was distracted. We did have to take him to the bathroom during that time, too. That was interesting, to say the least. We had to walk him down two different hallways to get to the closest bathroom to the OR.

So, at 3:10 pm they wheeled Riley back to the OR. He gave us kisses and was calm as calm can be. He was just fine.

We were then directed back to a conference area to wait. We were told we could go get a quick bite to eat since Riley would be in surgery for about 45 minutes. They gave us a pager and off we went.

On our way down to the cafeteria Jerry said he didn't feel comfortable staying and eating. So, we found some vending machines, bought a few drinks and snacks and returned to the conference area. We were not back 2 MINUTES when the doctor came in the room. He said everything was fine but he found something during the surgery. He had scrubbed OUT to come and talk to us. Talk about stress levels going through the roof. Well, another issue was found during surgery that could not be seen or identified before. We had to consult with the doctor about whether to add a third procedure to Riley's surgery or wait to do the third one at a later date. The doctor felt strongly that we should wait. So, after consulting with him for 10 to 15 minutes the decision was made to wait for the third procedure which was not expected or planned.

The doctor ran a few other tests while in there to help gather more information for our future decision making.

So.. instead of a 45 minute surgery... Riley's surgery was almost 2 hours long. Whew! We couldn't believe it.

Riley got to Post-Op and did great. By the time he got to us he was still stoned, but good. He had been given a baby epidural during the surgery so he couldn't walk for about 8 hours.

We left the hospital after 7 pm and got home after 8 pm. My parents brought James and Madeline home and dinner. They also picked up Riley's codeine from the pharmacist. They were so wonderful.

Riley woke up twice during the night. As long as we keep the pain meds under control he is in a fairly good mood. He has just been fantastic.

So.. two weeks from now we will meet with the surgeon again to discuss Riley's next operation. We are thinking this one can wait until Summer break.

I am so glad Riley did so well. He is just such an amazing person. He is smart, strong and the ultimate fighter.

I love him so much!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Getting Ready to GO

Well, we are just about ready to head out the door.

Keep Riley in your prayers and....

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dear Jenni,

Happy Birthday to YOU!
Happy Birthday to YOU!
Happy Birthday, dear Jenni!
Happy Birthday to YOU!

You are a great friend whether we live a few miles or a plane ride apart. I hope this birthday is filled with love, laughs and libations? Well, maybe just the love and laughs... and some really GOOD gifts from Bub!!

I love you!


Well, tomorrow is the day for Riley's surgery. I am so ready to get this over with. He is super hyper. I know that is just his way of dealing with his nervousness.

Here is the kicker. Riley doesn't have to be at the hospital until 1pm! Yup! That means he will not be able to eat from midnight until after his 2:30 pm surgery tomorrow. Now, I don't mean to sound nasty, but geesh!!!! How do I keep him happy ALL FREAKING DAY without food???? I mean really!!! I am hoping beyond all hopes he sleeps in tomorrow. If we can get him to sleep in until 9-10 am, like he loves to do on the weekends, then we at least have a battle worth fighting. We can distract... but only for so long.

For his 2 weeks of being out of commission we have bought puzzles, arts and crafts supplies and a few new DVD's. Any other suggestions from Mom's out there? We have to keep an VERY active 6 year old BOY inactive for 2 weeks!!! Once he starts feeling better it is going to be a challenge... but we have no choice until the stitches are gone.

Okay... thanks for listening to my nervous Mama rant.