Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In Which Connor Has A Good Day

Connor had a good day today-- other than being a little more tired than usual we didn't see any ill effects from yesterday's seizure.  I'd put his seizure medication into his g-tube pump yesterday morning rather than his g-tube directly, and the speculation was that perhaps the longer period of time it took to get the medication in triggered the seizure.  We actually set an alarm and he gets his meds at the same time each morning and evening; even an hour difference can trigger a seizure.  So from now on we'll put his meds directly into the g-tube rather than into the pump, and with any luck that will stave off any future seizures, as his medicine dosage for his weight is pretty good.

The little guy had physical therapy today, which he pouted his way through a good portion of as he didn't really feel like working, but otherwise we took it easy.  He's on Spring Break, so he's not attending school right now (not that he ever does on Wednesdays) and we mostly hung around the house with him.  We won't be having a party for him tomorrow; we figured we'd wait until school started up again and he's back in his routine before we shake things up by having his classmates over.  He was extremely confused when his teacher and aide visited, so we don't want to compound the issue right now.  Also the kiddo is not a fan of loud noises, people in his personal space, or doing much of anything party related-- such as eating cake or touching his new presents-- so any party we throw will probably be more for Jeremy and me than for him, which isn't really fair.

So instead, tomorrow we're going to have a special Connor day.  We'll give him a choice between a number of fun activities depending on the weather, such as the park, the zoo, the aquarium, the hot shop at the Glass Museum, or a play day at home.  I'll make him some chocolate pudding and he can open all of his presents and only touch them if he wants to.  And we'll take some extra time for snuggles and reading and listening to music and petting the cats and all of the activities he really enjoys doing.  Hopefully it'll be a pretty good birthday for him, and we'll skip doing the things he doesn't care for, such as socializing.  Also hopefully we'll skip having more seizures.  Because as much as we enjoy meeting our local emergency personnel, that would not improve the birthday festivities.  I don't think I'd have enough chocolate pudding to go around.

I can't believe he'll be four!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In Which Connor Has Another Seizure

Today I was pushing Connor on his tricycle around the house while Jeremy was out cycling.  The tricycle is a favorite toy; it's modified so that Connor can use it with help.  Normally he loves playing on it, but today after just a couple minutes he began to fuss and shake his head "no."  I thought he just didn't want to work-- the bike is definitely physical therapy-- and told him we'd do one more round of the house and then be done.  Then the painters who've been working on Connor's bed knocked on the garage door to let me know they were packing up for the day, and I parked Connor just on the other side of the doorway, closed the garage door and turned back around.

Connor was slumped over the bike, totally silent and motionless, his helmet resting against the handle bars.  He hadn't been fussing because he didn't want to work.  He'd been fussing because he was about to have a seizure.

I unstrapped him as quickly as I could and raced with him into his bedroom, grabbing the phone on the way in.  He was still breathing, one leg jerking slightly in a rhythmic fashion, but his eyes were fixed and his body was otherwise totally limp.  I lay him down on his mattress and grabbed his oxygen and his emergency seizure med.  Just as I got back to the bed, his leg stopped jerking, his eyes closed, and he stopped breathing.

So I bent over and breathed for him, as I've had to do so many times before.  I probably gave him about forty breaths-- he was gone for about two minutes-- before he gave a great gasp and started breathing again on his own.  I was just reaching for the Diastat when he came back.

He's fine now-- he slept for a little bit (there's his adorable self sleeping) and then was just a bit cranky and tired the rest of the evening.  But I really hoped we had the seizures licked for a while, so it's disappointing that he had one today: especially such a long one.  Hopefully we won't see another for a while.

Yeesh.  What a day.


Monday, March 29, 2010

In Which We're Just About Moved Out!

This is the third day in a row that we've had respite care!  We planned it that way because we figured we'd be down to end-of-the-month crunch time with the apartment.  However the maid service my parents so graciously hired for us to take some of the pressure off me came through the apartment this morning, and I'd say the apartment is pretty much taken care of at this point. 

It was very odd moving out of civilian housing versus moving out of military housing.  The standards for cleanliness are just a wee bit different.  When we announced our intention to move off post last year we received a multiple page checklist detailing absolutely everything inside and outside the entire house that had to be cleaned before we moved out or we would be charged for it.  This included items such as cleaning the refrigerator drip pan, the inside of the windows, and power washing the outside of the house.  I sort of assumed, having little experience with this sort of thing, that this was fairly standard fare in the world of home renting.  So when I went through our apartment move out procedures this morning, I was a little worried when I couldn't find the cleaning checklist.  I actually asked for another copy at the office.  They handed me a one-page list of what they'd charge if we broke something.  The lady behind the desk told me to "make sure that the apartment was reasonably clean." 

It was so easy.  Weird.

So since I don't have to power wash the outside of the apartment or anything, we're mostly finished with the move now. We have one more day of respite care-- our fourth in a row-- and I'm figuring we'll be doing a little bit of playing!  We've already been to the bookstore several time, seen a movie (How To Train Your Dragon-- even without the deadpan humor and good plot it would be worth a watch for its gentle treatment of physical disabilities), and eaten out a ton.  It's nice to have so much time to spend just with Jeremy, though we're sort of running out of things to do. 

Kind of a nice problem to have, I think.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

In Which The Symbol Of Our Love Is A Pain In The Rear

With the help of a good friend, we moved the last of the stuff out of the old apartment today.  One of the last things to go was a potted Japanese maple I had sitting outside on the porch of the apartment. 

When we first moved to this area three years ago, Jeremy and I bought this maple-- then a slender foot-high sapling-- as our first purchase together.  I was feeling sentimental at the time and thought that we needed some sort of growing thing as a "symbol of our love" or some such idea.  Jeremy went along with me because he is a smart man and realizes that whenever I start uttering flowery phrases such as "symbol of our love" he should agree to everything I say or he will be in big trouble.  So I planted the maple tree in a half barrel and it sat in our backyard for the next two years, until we moved to Puyallup.

I made the guys (Jeremy and the same long-suffering friend) move the maple tree to the porch of the apartment.  Jeremy wanted to leave it behind because the tree, which had been relatively light when we brought it home, was now slightly heavier due to the fact that it was planted in a wine barrel and thus had the added weight of about three hundred pounds of dirt. 

"But it's the symbol of our love," I wailed as the boys attempted to sneak the truck down the driveway without it. 

They had to use a dolly, but they managed to get it onto the truck.

Fast forward to this afternoon.  The tree, happy in the sunlight that the porch offered, was now substantially taller and thus, heavier.  It was also pouring, so that the three hundred pounds of dirt in the barrel was now totally waterlogged.  Also the tree roots had grown through the bottom of the barrel and two feet into the soil underneath.  We didn't have a dolly this time, but instead a borrowed piano mover.  Last but not least, instead of the two burly guys moving the tree, it was one burly guy and me. I have biceps that look remarkably like mini marshmallows.  They are not exactly inspiring.  The situation looked grim.

But dang it, that tree is the symbol of our love.  So somehow by tilting the tree way, way back (which was a project in itself due to all those roots) we managed to get the piano mover under it and then pushed the whole thing up into the wheelchair van.  There was a bit of a problem when the tree proved to have grown too tall to fit into the van, which was solved when the top six inches or so snapped off while I was trying to gently maneuver it inside.  I drove five miles an hour all the way to the new house, terrified that if I stopped too quickly the tree would hurtle off the piano mover and through my windshield.  After a break for dinner, we managed to get the tree down the ramp and off the driveway without it hurtling down the street and bashing into a parked car, though we had a couple of close moments.  The tree is now firmly ensconced in a prominent place in our yard.  We chose the spot based on its proximity to where I pulled up the van. 

I'm thinking it's time I pick out a new "symbol of our love."  I've heard our local nursery has some lovely bonsai.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

In Which Connor Is Almost Four

In just five short days, Connor will be four.

How is that even possible?  How can my little guy be four?  Four isn't a toddler age any more.  Four is a child age.  I have vivid memories of being four, and it's a little daunting to think that Connor may be making those sorts of memories right now

To tell you the truth, I'm having a hard time with four.  As he grows older the gap between Connor and typical children his age becomes larger and larger.  Kids his age are hopping on one foot, inventing imaginary friends, using scissors and glue to make messy creations, and playing cooperative games.  It doesn't bother me that Connor isn't doing those things-- I'd rather spend my time celebrating what the kid can do than bemoaning what the kid down the street is doing.  I can't wait to see what fantastic adventures we'll get to have this year!

But I have started getting a bit upset about how other people react when I tell them how old he is.  The little guy is adorable, and so strangers come up all the time and strike up conversations with me about him.  Before four was looming on the horizon, they'd ask how old he was, I'd tell them, and the conversation would move on without a hitch.  But now when I say "He'll be four on the first of April," there's this pause: a pause that wasn't there before.  I hold my breath during that pause, because now, more and more often, the next thing I hear is a long, drawn out "Ohhhhh."  And I hate that, because it's the sound of pity. 

And if there's one thing Connor doesn't need, it's pity. 

It's our first taste of how people may react to Connor as he gets older and more obviously different in terms of abilities compared to other kids his age.  I think it's going to give me some late nights-- nights when I sit in bed and wonder what will be after that pause when he's a teenager and not a cute little kid anymore? 

There's not really anything I can do about other people's reactions to him, though I'll do my best to change as many of the negative ones as I can.  But in the meantime I'll celebrate the amazing miracle of him turning four: a day we were told the odds were miniscule that he'd ever see.  And I'm looking forward to celebrating five, and six, and sixteen-- however far we go on this journey together.  What a triumph it will be if we get the chance to find out the answer to that question!

So bring it on, four.  Even if I'm not quite ready for you yet.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Video: In Which Jeremy Walks With A Cane!

Before the video, I thought I'd give you a follow up on the gerbil debacle.  So Lili and I had a discussion earlier today (and if you don't think I would have a discussion with a gerbil you obviously haven't read a whole lot of this blog) and I am now mostly over the trauma of last night.  He was just doing what gerbils naturally do-- acting to prevent predators from finding the nest-- and while I'm not exactly used to seeing mini episodes of Planet Earth reenacted in my son's room, well, chalk this one up to a learning experience.  Of course gerbils are apparently also extremely territorial and will fight to the death if introduced to gerbils they weren't raised with, so Lili will have to be a solitary critter now.  I'll make an effort to keep him from being bored.  In return he promises to not mistake any of my fingers for dead gerbils.

And for goodness sake of course he had enough food and water.  After that whole earlier fiasco I've been a wee bit paranoid about that.

Um, anyway, moving on.  Jeremy has been doing a whole lot of cycling recently-- he has a bike now and since the weather has been beautiful he's been spending several hours a day out on the trails.  Today he found a tiny little bike rental place at the head of one of the trails he's been exploring, and since we have respite care tomorrow we're going to rent a bike for me and go out riding!  Provided the weather cooperates, of course-- it's pretty temperamental this time of year. 

Because Jeremy's been doing so much riding (and other physical activity) his balance has improved and he's looking great!  I badgered him into doing another video for me tonight as an apology to you all for the horrors of yesterday's post (be very, very glad I didn't include a picture with said post, by the way).  So without further ado, here he is!

Compare that to the last two videos.  Pretty amazing, huh?


Thursday, March 25, 2010


Okay, so that was pretty horrific.

We just finished up a lovely dinner with some friends of ours, and I went in to check up on the gerbils.  We had a vet appointment scheduled for tomorrow, and I was hoping the fuzzy critter would hold out until then, but things hadn't been looking too good earlier in the day.  When I went in, I was prepared to find the little guy gone.

What I was not prepared for was that the little guy was gone and the other gerbil was eating him.

Yes, I looked into the cage and was presented with a grisly Donner Party reenactment in gerbil form-- Lili, with a bloodstained muzzle, standing over the body of Teke, which he'd dragged to a corner of the cage.  Evidently he hadn't been too long at it because the dead gerbil was totally recognizable as a gerbil except that a good portion of his upper chest cavity was missing.  The only reason I didn't start shrieking at the top of my lungs was that Connor was sleeping and I definitely did NOT want him to wake up and see this.

I ended up picking up the ex-gerbil with about ten layers of paper towels, taking him outside in the rain (it being an appropriately stormy night), and burying him in the backyard.  Then I put a huge rock over the area so that there wasn't any chance some passing woodland animal would dig him up and eat him again.  I've been traumatized enough as it is, and picking up gerbil parts out of my lawn might just be what pushes me over the edge. 

So now we are not only out one gerbil, whose demise is probably directly my fault due to that whole water bottle thing, but I am also now totally creeped out by the remaining gerbil.  I mean sure, I read up on it and apparently this is natural gerbil behavior-- something about them disposing of bodies because they don't want to have predators attracted to the nest-- but despite that Lili now gives me the heebie-jeebies.  Other than the whole cannabilism thing he's perfectly healthy (though that may not be the case any more if Teke had something contagious), but he's also pretty anti-people, which is sort of fine with me right now.  They say that gerbils are social creatures and really need to be kept in pairs, but I think that Lili is destined to be a solitary gerbil.  I'm not sure I'd trust his reaction to a new "friend." 

I need a cup of tea.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In Which Our Gerbil Takes A Turn For The Worse, And Connor Gets A Progress Report

Our poor little gerbil Teke is sick.  Evidently the stress of going without water for several days, combined with the stress of moving from the pet store here, has made him ill.  We thought he was fine-- he seemed to rally yesterday and the day before, but he started going downhill this morning and by this evening he was spending all his time huddled up in his little nest, refusing to eat or drink anything and squeezing his little eyes half-shut.  If he holds on 'till tomorrow I'll take him into the veterinarian's office, but I'm not highly optimistic.  Poor little guy-- I feel horrible about it. 

I hope he makes it.

Connor's teacher and aide did a home visit today to give us Connor's school progress report and talk a little about what they've been seeing him do at school.  He hasn't made a whole lot of headway towards his IEP goals, but I'm not really surprised by that.  It's not that the school is doing anything wrong-- just the opposite, in fact, as we are extremely happy with the program and teacher and think it's been really good for him-- but he's still so easily distracted by the other kids, noises, etc. that he doesn't demonstrate the things we see from him at home. 

We've been seeing a lot of progress here at the house, and I think that's directly related to school: that he's "processing" the things he sees in the morning later at home in his safe, quiet environment.  While I wish that he'd show them more of what he's capable of, and if we put him in a one-on-one environment he probably would, I think that the peer interaction and the pushing of his boundaries is more important right now, quite frankly.  He's never going to figure out how to interact with the world if he doesn't get that exposure, and since he's an only child right now and we have a relatively quiet house, he certainly not going to get that exposure at home. 

But while it's slow, he has made a little bit of progress at school, which is great!  We're very proud of every step he takes-- no matter how small-- towards being independent.  I'm really hoping that we'll be able to stick with the same teacher and program for next year-- we'll just have to see!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In Which I Come Full Circle

Today I had a dentist appointment.  I was a little bit nervous about it, given what happened the last time I went to this particular dentist office.  But it's been over six months now (can you believe it?) so it was time to go back.  I really liked the people there and the office is very conveniently located, so I went to the same dentist despite my rather unsettling memories of the last time I was there.  I felt, to some extent, like I was getting back up on the horse that threw me.

They remembered me, of course.  I get the feeling they haven't had too many patients get that sort of life-changing phone call in the middle of an appointment.  I had the same dental tech, but she put me in a different room and did her best to put me at ease, which I was grateful for.  I think I would have been a lot more uncomfortable sitting in the same chair as last time.

The new room was across the hall from the old one and featured a heated, massaging dental chair.  Cushy!  I set my purse, with my phone in it, on the windowsill.  It was on, of course.  Phone etiquette goes out the window when you have a kid with seizures like the ones Connor has.

Luckily the only call I had was from a good friend, and I didn't even need to pick it up because I've programmed my phone to give her a special ringtone.  The dental tech visibly tensed when it went off, because we'd been half-heartedly joking about what might happen in this appointment, but she laughed at herself when I told her everything was okay.  The only slight snag was when they gave me a hot towel to wipe down with (told you this was a cushy place) and I realized only after thoroughly wiping my face and hands that the towel was lavender scented.  Connor, of course, is deathly allergic to lavender and carries an EpiPen for it.  I didn't tell the dentist about that beforehand, of course, so it wasn't their fault.  Oh well-- I just ended up having to rinse off when I got home before touching the little guy or anything he might come into contact with.  But it was no big deal other than that things went without a hitch. 

So no cavities again for me-- which honestly I was a little surprised by given the sheer amount of chocolate therapy I've indulged in during the last six months-- and I've got some shiny, sparkly pearly whites.  Honestly it was a little weird and unsettling being back in that building with the same people who were there when I got the news, but I'm glad I went back.  I'll see them again in another six months.  No problem!

Though I think I'll stick to the room across the hall for now.


Monday, March 22, 2010

In Which Connor Has A Swing!

Look-- Connor has a swing! 

The little guy spends a whole lot of time indoors, especially in the winter time.  He's pretty temperature sensitive; he overheats really easily and wilts in rainy weather, so we have to be careful about the time he spends outside.  A lot of winter indoor activities, like visiting museums or public indoor play areas, tend to be overwhelming for him after short periods, so we have to limit our time there.  The little guy also spends a lot of time sick, and the recovery process-- when he has a little bit of energy and wants to play but isn't well enough for school yet-- usually takes days.

Also Connor seems to really enjoy swinging.  He craves a lot of vestibular stimulation, and we've even discovered that he's more likely to touch unfamiliar objects (which his sensory processing disorder normally makes him avoid like the plague) if he's on a swing that's gently moving when they're presented to him.  So we felt like it could be really beneficial for him to have a swing in his room.

The great thing about this setup is that we can take the swing down really easily and replace it with a different kind!  And it can also be safely stored away if we have typical kids over who would rough-house on it.  We're getting a gymnastics crash pad to go underneath the swing (which will come in handy for home physical therapy too), and Connor can't make it go himself so there's no chance of him getting overzealous and hitting anything. 

I think the next cold, rainy winter will be a lot more fun for Connor with his new swing!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

In Which Jeremy Breaks In The Kitchen

Jeremy pulled out his coffee bean roaster for the first time since he arrived home back in August.  It used to be that every Sunday our kitchen would be filled with the grassy, slightly acrid smell of roasting coffee beans while Jeremy hovered over the counter, watching the process with an expert eye.  And like clockwork, every Sunday our smoke alarm would go off because Jeremy, in his zeal to get roasting, would forget to turn the oven vent on.

Jeremy hasn't been able to roast his own coffee for so long because he wasn't able to access the kitchen in the apartment.  The galley-style kitchen wouldn't allow him to use his wheelchair, and standing for a long enough period of time to be able to roast his coffee beans and then use his espresso machine wasn't very feasible.  So he'd been making due with pre-roasted beans and a little French press, which just wasn't the same.  The man is serious about his coffee. 

The new kitchen is wonderful because it allows him to return to so many activities he enjoys that he's been unable to do.  He's cooking his own breakfast in the mornings again, has talked about pulling out the bread maker, and of course the espresso machine-- a little worse for wear after being shipped back from Afghanistan-- has once again been unpacked and now has place of pride on his island work surface.  As I'm writing he's in there doing the dishes-- not an activity that he necessarily enjoys, but one that I certainly appreciate and that he was unable to do in the apartment.

He seems so much more comfortable in this space, which makes me very happy.  Today when the smoke alarm went off in the kitchen the sound to me seemed more like a joyous shout of triumph than an extremely loud annoyance, even if I couldn't figure out how to turn the darn thing off and ended up bracing Jeremy's legs (who as the instigator of the alarms has a lot more practice at turning them off) as he wobbled on top of a chair to take out the batteries. 

I sat down in the living room afterwards and listened to Jeremy putter around the kitchen, making his coffee and telling happy falsehoods* to Connor about the fire alarm.  I didn't have to do a thing for Jer-- he was just fine on his own in there.  It feels like we've regained something that's been missing since August.

Feels like home.


*"You should always yell hysterically when there's a fire, Connor.  Like this: AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!  Fires hate that."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In Which I Almost Kill Our Gerbils

Poor Teke and Lili almost shuffled off this mortal coil yesterday.  It's entirely my fault, too.

Gerbils really like to chew on things, including their plastic water bottles, so I got them a very nice glass version from the pet store that claimed to be "chew proof."  Well, apparently it was also drink proof.

I filled the bottle up five days ago, tested it to see if it was working, and put it in the cage.  Then I went about my business.  The gerbils seemed to be fine: no problems, though I noticed they seemed to be using the water bottle increasingly often. 

Yesterday when I went in they both seemed rather lethargic, and Teke in particular seemed to be pretty bedraggled-- his fur looked ratty and he seemed to be sleeping a lot.  I was going to clean out their cage and change out their water bottle in the process.  This is when I noticed that the level of water in the bottle had not gone down.  At all.

I tapped hard on the bottle.  Normally those things have a tendency to leak if you tap on them or jar the cage.  Not a thing came out.  I pushed in the little ball at the bottom.  It was bone dry.  So I ran and got a bowl of water and put it into the cage.  The gerbils flung themselves into it and began drinking like, well, like they hadn't had any water in five days.  Good thing gerbils are desert animals and used to going periods without water.  If I'd gotten Connor a hamster it would be dead.

At any rate I looked the bottle up online, and the reviews were terrible.  Apparently there's not enough air exchange allowed in the bottle, so after the animals have drunk at it a little while a vacuum forms and nothing will come out any more.  Several reviews offered instructions on how to modify the bottle to make it work, which I did.  It now has a tendency to leak, but I'd rather error on that side of things rather than have sad little desicated gerbils. 

They seem to be feeling much, much better today, but I'll be keeping a close eye on them.  And of course I feel horrible about the whole thing-- you can bet I'll be checking that bottle every day from now on to make sure that it's working. 

Poor gerbils.


Friday, March 19, 2010

In Which I Actually Upload a Video!

Here's Connor hanging out in his new pint sized lawn chair and playing his new favorite game: Ball!  Check out the kid's amazing technique-- we'll have him in little league in no time!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

In Which We Go Shopping And Have A Random Encounter of Awesomeness

Today my mother-in-law and I left Connor with Jeremy and spent eight hours out looking for patio furniture: a housewarming gift from Jer's parents and several other relatives.  We're big on comparison shopping around here.

We finally cobbled together the perfect set with selections from three different stores, and the results are lovely!  I'm sure we'll get a lot of enjoyment out of them this summer.  When we were finished picking up the last piece we stopped by Caffe Adamo, one of Jer's and my many, many coffee shop hangouts, to rest our understandably weary legs.  We were sipping our yummy drinks and chatting about our shopping trip when Mom noticed that the people behind us were using sign language.  A young couple and an older man had come in separately and were having a conversation about signing classes in the area.  I introduced myself and my mother-in-law, and the five of us proceeded to exchange pleasantries in a mix of ASL, SEE and PSE.

That's when the barista came out from behind the counter and started signing.

What are the odds of four different groups of people in a coffee shop independently of one another all knowing sign language-- especially since only two of them were Deaf?   It's the frequency of encounters like this makes me sure we're living in the right town.  One of the guys we talked to works at the YMCA that we visit all the time.  This brings the number of people we've met in the past year who know either ASL or SEE and live in the Puyallup area to seventeen, and these are random encounters--we haven't even attended a Deaf coffee night! 

What a great day in a great town!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In Which Connor Plays Ball!

Jeremy's pretty tired tonight and he wants to be fresh when we videotape, so I'm afraid y'all will just have to wait to see his progress another day.  Here's a picture of Connor and him studying the television remote control as a condolence.  I promise I'll stop leading you on and get a video tape of him one of these days.

My sister-in-law flew up here on a business trip and was able to get away and spend a little time with us today, which was great!  She hasn't been up here since shortly after Jeremy came home in August, so of course we had to show off what Connor has learned since then.  Since the little guy's mattress is currently on the ground, it's just about the perfect height for him to sit up on with his feet on the floor (convenient for him but not so much for me, as he's not exactly getting any lighter and picking him up repeatedly from seven inches off the floor is getting progressively harder). 

At any rate, he's got this little ball that's extremely lightweight and easy for him to grip.  We can actually play ball with him now-- if you hold up the ball to him he'll grab it and begin winding up to "throw" it.  Basically he holds his arm straight out from his body and then swings it from side to side faster and faster until he's got some good momentum going.  Then he lets go of the ball.  Most of the time he manages to let go out while is arm is out front, so he actually throws the ball a little ways towards you, but sometimes he lets go too early and the ball goes careening off in a random direction, making you scramble after it.  You also have to watch where you're sitting-- he gets a little overenthusiastic with the windup sometimes and narrowly misses braining whoever's nearest to him.

I absolutely love this game because it's one of the first truly interactive games he's ever been able to play-- it really shows how far he's come in his responses to the world around him.  This is a huge difference from the kid of two years ago who used to be unable to make eye contact for more than a couple of seconds at a time.

The problem before tonight was that no one else (besides Jer) had actually ever seen him play this game.  My mother-in-law had attempted it a time or two, but Connor seems to be convinced that Grandmas are for snuggling and not for playing, and so he blatantly refuses not only to play ball for her, but also to even sit up, instead flopping back like a limp noodle on the bed until she gives in and picked him up for more snuggling, which is what he wants.  Grandmas have superior snuggling technique.

But aunts apparently are on the "okay to play" list, because Connor really put on a show for her-- giggling and slinging the ball around wildly for a good five minutes before he decided he was done.  He even let her hold the ball out to him instead of only letting me do it!  So it was great to have somebody else see the progress he's making; he doesn't really show any of it at school because he's so overwhelmed and distracted by everything else that's going on there.  Sometimes I feel like I'm in that cartoon involving the frog who sings and dances for only one guy and refuses to do anything when anyone else is around.

Since Jer is home a lot these days, I'm hoping that between the two of us we'll be able to get a videotape of Connor playing his new game.  After the one of Jer walking, of course.  I'll add it to the list.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In Which I Almost But Not Quite Post A Video Of Jer, And Spread The Word About A Blogger Who Could Use Some Support

Well I thought I took a video of Jer walking for you all to post tonight, but I just attempted to upload it onto the computer and evidently I sort of forgot to push the "record" button while I was filming, which evidently is a pretty critical detail to miss when filming a video.  Whoops.  As Jeremy has gone to bed, you'll just have to wait for another day to see Jeremy juggle while tap dancing.  Or walk.  The two are about equally awesome in my opinion.

So now this leaves me with absolutely nothing to talk about, as I thought I had my subject matter all covered and didn't bother to think up any other topics for today.  Which makes me think that rather than sticking around here, you should go visit Brandy over at Not So Average Mama.  She's having some seriously scary medical issues, such as stuttering, uncontrollable jerking, and the fact that one pupil is significantly dilated over the other.  She has no medical insurance.  She's got three little girls at home.

Jer and I are so grateful that he's in the military and thus we don't have to worry about medical bills adding up; we would be so deeply in debt by now if we didn't have everything covered that we'd probably never dig our way out from under the pile.  Brandy has entered a photo slideshow contest with a cash prize in an attempt to cover her testing-- I'd encourage you stop by, give her a "hello," and cast your vote to help her out! 


Room By Room: Connor's Room

And last but certainly not least, here's Connor's room!

I have to tell you about the last owner's inspired decorating scheme in here.  While normally I'm not one to criticize anyone's personal tastes, this room kind of takes the cake.  This is the only room in the entire house, including the bathrooms, that did not have a stenciled design in it.

They had a dartboard hung in here.  A harvest gold, kelly green, and crimson dartboard.  Design inspiration!  You can see the glorious results in the slideshow after the jump.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Room By Room: The Office

Here's the office!

If we adopt a little girl this will be her room, but otherwise this is where our office/guest room will stay, as if we adopt a little boy we'll be making him share a room with Connor.  This is for a variety of reasons, the main one probably being that we like having an office/guest room.  Sharing rooms builds character.

Right.  Anyway, this room was a totally unremarkable white (excepting the ever-present stencils) box, decked out with vintage 1980's ruffled floral pattern curtains.  This room, along with Connor's room, also sported one of those narrow little passageways to get inside with a standard (non-wheelchair size) door.  There was no way that could open the door wide enough to squeeze through, even if he had someone push him through instead of trying to wheel himself.  Slideshow after the jump.

In Which Cricket Finds A New Hang-Out

Guess where Cricket decided to hang out today?

Evidently she decided to take the whole vulture thing to the extreme.  That window is, oh, ten or eleven feet off the ground, which isn't probably all that impressive in Cat Land.  However, the fact that she had to jump into and out of the window from the mantle and thus somehow manage to make a 90 degree turn in mid-air has to count for something.  This isn't the first time I've seen a cat blatantly ignore the laws of physics, but it was one of the more spectacular examples to watch.  I've seen her do it several times now and I'm still befuddled as to how she manages it. 

Connor had a pretty good day today-- he went to school, hung out with Grandma, etc.  His hair is getting to be  way, way too long-- check out this picture of him finger painting yesterday.  He's currently sporting what could arguably be called a mullet, and the only person I think is really allowed to sport a mullet is David Bowie.  I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with Connor having anything in common with David Bowie, though being King of The Goblins might be pretty cool.

So anyway, tomorrow I'm hoping to squeeze in a trip to the hair salon to get the little guy a trim.  I know, I know-- taking a three year old to the hair salon?  Why would I do such a thing when I have a perfectly good pair of scissors at home?  The answer is that I like my son with ears still attached to his head, and the fact that he has a tendency to be extremely wiggly combined with my general lack of hand-eye coordination is not a good mix.  Jeremy always suggests that we just shave it all off, but we tried that once and not only did I miss his hair (he looked so OLD) but my mom just about had a conniption fit.  She likes his hair too.  Also he has kind of a wonky head.  So we'll go to the hair salon and get it done there.

Sigh.  He's getting so big.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Room By Room: The Master Bedroom

Here's our bedroom! 

This is a huge room.  And when I say huge, I mean huuuuuuuge-- the kind of bedroom that architects generally say is a total waste of space in a house with this amount of square footage.  That's a king size bed languishing in the middle of the room in the "before" picture, which gives you the general idea of just how large this room is.  We briefly considered making this Connor's room before we decided that, nah, we couldn't resist having that space all to ourselves.  I'm so glad we did, too, because I'm relatively sure a king-size bed wouldn't fit in Connor's room very well, and after sleeping on the floor for the past five months (we couldn't fit Jeremy's hospital bed and a bed for me in the same room, so I've been carpet camping since early September) I am swooning over this bed and spend as much time in it as humanly possible.  Slideshow after the jump!

In Which We Add A Couple Of New Members To Our Household

I spent most of today doing light housekeeping and whatnot.  I've very quickly discovered that our laminate floors need to be vacuumed every day, as otherwise they quickly accumulate little piles of dirt, dust, cat hair, and unidentified bits of detritus that I don't want to look particularly closely at.  So that's the downside of the floors.  The upside is that I can actually see the stuff, so it makes me want to vacuum every day instead of whenever I get around to it.  I have no doubt that in the places we had carpet just as much stuff accumulated on a daily basis, only I didn't know about it because it was hidden in the carpet.  Gross.

Our old vacuum, while very nice, had those super-stiff revolving brushes that are supposed to scratch the heck out of your laminate floors.  So I got us a new, pretty inexpensive canister vacuum, which works really well and has the added bonus of being absolutely adorable.  This is the Herbie of vacuum cleaners.  It's bright orange and it has very large, cheery buttons and since it's a canister vacuum it follows me around like a little puppy while I'm vacuuming.  I find myself thinking about donning pearls, high heels and some sort of flowery apron whenever I use it, which given my usual level of domesticity makes it a really cute vacuum to have that sort of effect on me.

Jeremy and his mom were off at a sign language conference all day, so Connor and I had the house all to ourselves.  Well, except for the cats and our newest two members of the family that is.  Let me introduce you to:

Teke and Lili!

Bonus points for you if you get the extremely obscure literary reference-- especially since we split up the spelling. 

Anyway, they're the baby gerbils we brought home a few days ago!  Aren't they cute?  I think they even beat out the vacuum cleaner!  We got them for a couple of reasons; the first being my complete inability to resist any organic life form with huge eyes, but also because Connor has been sleeping in our room for the last five months since we couldn't turn the heat on in our apartment due to the necessary placement of Jeremy's hospital bed and my paranoid refusal to have a space heater on in a room I'm not physically in.  We felt like it might be a little rough on Connor to transition to not only a new house but to sleeping all by himself again, and so we got him the gerbils so he'd have company in his room at night.  He absolutely loves them, he spends a lot of time watching them, and he's having zero problems sleeping through the night, so I'm glad we got them. 

I apologize for the quality of the photos-- gerbils are hard to take pictures of.  For one thing they were terrified of the camera, and so whenever I moved it or depressed the shutter button they'd dart back into their little house.  As a result most of the pictures I have feature vaguely gerbil-shaped blurs.  There's also the fact that Teke (the brown and white guy) is about 8,000 times bolder than Lili (the all-gray boy), who seems to be shaping up to be a bit of a wimp.  All of Lili's pictures were blurry, so I posted the least blurry picture, which was taken with me standing on the complete other end of the room.  That was the only way I could get him to come out of his hidey hole while I was holding the camera.  Normally they're both pretty friendly, and I'm sure they'll get used to the camera eventually, but in the meantime this is what you're stuck with.  The fact that I'm also a near-incompetent with a camera and for every good picture I take of Connor there are 8,000 bad ones you don't see probably doesn't help either. 

The cats are normally not allowed in Connor's room, so nothing's really changed there except that whenever I go inside now they sit just outside and watch the door.  When I come out there are our two felines looming in a predatory fashion a couple of feet back, completely ignoring each other and staring at the crack under the door like small furry vultures.  I'm pretty sure they know what's up and are convinced that someday I'm going to lose control of one of the gerbils while cleaning the cage and they'll have the chance to rustle up their own fresh dinner instead of waiting for me to dispense it in kibble form from a bag in the pantry.  Hopefully this will never happen; I'm pretty sure that seeing one family member eat another might be mildly traumatic for Connor despite Jer's insistence that everything would be fine if we sang "The Circle of Life" during the chase and subsequent dining. 

But I wasn't quite up for a dog as of yet, and the thought of adding another cat to the mix makes me laugh until I have to sit down for a while and have Jer ply me with some sort of alcoholic beverage.  So we were left with small prey animals, and the gerbils had the largest eyes and as an added bonus were equipped with tails that reminded me of those of characters out of Fraggle Rock, so they were the logical choice.  Also they make very little mess, which is an added bonus.

Even if it gives me fewer opportunities to use my new vacuum cleaner.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Room By Room: The Bathrooms

Ah, the bathrooms.  The master bathroom was a large part of why we bought this house in the first place, so I have a special fondness for it, or at least I'm as fond as you can be of a room with a toilet in it.

We sure as heck didn't buy the house for the bathrooms as they were.  The original bathrooms were like walking into a time warp to the eighties, complete with fake beige marble vanities, stenciled walls, random earth-tone flower tiles, and those hideous hanging light fixtures, which I'm sure have an official name but which Jer and I termed "nipple lights" for obvious reasons.  By far the biggest asset of either bathroom was the fact that the master bath backed up to a pretty large walk-in closet, making it ideal for remodeling into a larger roll-in shower.  Of course, we never anticipated that thanks to some amazing people we would end up with a couple of bathrooms as gorgeous as our new ones turned out!  Slideshows for both bathrooms are after the jump.

In Which We Have The Internet Once Again!

I am happy to tell y'all that I am now sitting in my very own comfy recliner in my lovely little library blogging away, instead of doing it in somebody else's recliner at a coffee shop or on the floor of the old apartment.  We've got the Internet here now!  So because I love you all so much, or perhaps because I'm a tad masochistic, I'll try and give you two entries a day until I'm done showing you all the house.  Just don't expect me to blog more than once a day after the tour is finished, as I already have enough trouble coming up with blogging material for the seven entries a week I usually do.  Barring weeks that Connor isn't attempting to kick the bucket, of course.  Those weeks usually have way, waaaaaaaaay more blogging material than I ever wanted.  Ever.

Anyway, so we're about 90% moved in now.  Today Jer's mom, who is here visiting, did what Grandmas usually do when they are visiting their only grandchild; she kicked us out of the house for a date night so she could spend time with the grandchild in question.  We like our date nights, and so we went with minimal protest (meaning that Grandma managed to get out "Why don't I watch Connor for y--" before her sentence was cut off by the front door closing as we sprinted down the walk towards the car, dived inside, and peeled out of the driveway).

We ate dinner at our favorite Greek restaurant in Puyallup: My Greek Mediterranean Grill.  We absolutely love the place, for a few reasons.  I love it because of the down-home feel and the fantastic food.  Jeremy loves it because they serve extremely tasty baby animals and because they have an appetizer that involves fire.  This is the last restaurant we went to before Jer deployed, and the first one we ate at after he returned home (when they served us a complimentary appetizer that involved fire and cheese and then a couple of tables fought over who got to pay our bill) and so we have good memories of it.  It also doesn't hurt that the owners love Jeremy and thus ply us with delicious baklava on the house practically every time we go.  Mmm.  Baklava.

Then we drove over (of course) to one of the approximately eight billion local coffee shops we patronize, and sat in comfy chairs reading, in Jer's case, a collection of Glen Cook novels, and in my case Julie and Julia, which caused me to snort toffee/marshmallow latte through my nose when I got to the part about Julie vivisecting that poor lobster.  When nine pm rolled around we headed back home, because somehow staying out really, really late lost its appeal when we still had to get up at six in the morning the next day. 

At any rate we had a great time, and we're so glad to be (mostly) settled into the new house.  Connor has acclimated well now that we're actually living here instead of just bringing boxes over and making him think we're leaving him all by himself forever and so he's sleeping through the night again and seems to be reasonably happy.  The cats are, of course, going totally insane-- Loki jumped up onto our fireplace mantle this morning and then couldn't figure out how to get down, and Cricket spends a lot of time hiding under various large pieces of furniture and growling at everything that moves-- but I'm confident they'll calm down soon enough.  Now that I've brought the camera cable over I can start taking updated pictures, so expect some of those tomorrow.  Everything looks pretty much the same except now there are many more surfaces in the house that are covered with books, and also Connor is here so everything is made cuter by his very presence.

It's good to be home!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Room By Room: The Mudroom

On to the mudroom!

This is by far the largest laundry room I've ever had in my entire life.  It runs the entire length of the kitchen, and the washer and dryer were stuck waaaaaay over in one corner, and the passage to the garage was waaaaaaaay over in the other corner.  The water heater also used to be in this room, and every time you turned on the hot water in the house it sounded like some sort of Thing From The Swamp was rising up in my mudroom to drag us all to a watery grave.  Seriously the thing scared the bejeezus out of me the first time I heard it.  While ordinarily I'm a fan of pocket doors, the tiny one in here that led into the kitchen was so narrow that Jeremy's chair couldn't fit through it without scraping the walls, and the door track had settled so that the pocket door would stick and scrap against the jam.  An extremely odd coat closet with two doors-- one on the kitchen side and a really narrow one (about eight inches wide!) on the mudroom side added a slightly bizarre touch.  Really the rest of the long narrow space in here was wasted.  The slide show of the construction process is after the jump!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Room By Room: The Dining Room

Today I'm going to talk about the dining room!  The space was formerly being used as a family room, and was dominated by a large woodburning stove, which was nice but rather outdated.  Since we now had a gas fireplace in the living room, the odds of us taking the time to set up and use this stove when we could just flip a switch and have instant fire in the other room were not very good.  Also once the kitchen was expanded it no longer made sense for the roomto be a family room, as it was really too small to fit a couch or television in.  Finally, if I wanted a library the dining room had to be moved somewhere.  So we said goodbye to the family room, and trust me; we're not missing it.  Check out a slideshow of the construction progression after the jump.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Room By Room: The Kitchen

On to the kitchen!

Before the remodeling this kitchen was, in a word, appalling.  Not only did it still have the original 1984 oven and dishwasher, but that year also appeared to be the last time they had been cleaned.  The inside of the oven was literally black with burned drippings and grease.  Rotting food was left in the cabinets and under the sink.  In the "before" picture you see a nice refrigerator and microwave; the previous owners took both of those with them when they moved out.  The industrial carpet (yes-- carpet in a kitchen) was badly stained, and the previous owners had cut mats of the same carpet and simply laid them over the worst of the stains in an attempt to disguise them.  The grout on the tiled kitchen counter was black with mildew.  A ceiling dropped eight inches lower than the adjoining space meant I could reach up and easily touch it with my fingertips.  A small pantry, message center and oddly shaped coat closet lined the wall that led to the mudroom door, and Jeremy was completely unable to fit through the narrow entrance into the mudroom beyond.  The microwave area (had there been a microwave) was completely inaccessible to anyone in a wheelchair, as was the sink and cooktop.  Slideshow of the progression after the jump!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Room By Room: The Library

This is probably my favorite room in the house.  Though I also love the kitchen.  And the living room, and the bedroom, and well okay every room in the whole house is a pretty close runner-up.  I'm not even sure if you ccan technically call the library a separate room, as it's more like an alcove in the living room.  But this is my blog so I get to call it what I want to, and "reading alcove" doesn't sound nearly as exciting as "library."  So library it is.

Anyway, this room was originally the dining room of the house, but the strangely shaped alcove on the back wall was just begging for a built-in, and when the folks at Signature Custom Homes learned about my modest little book collection they suggested that a library for me would be the perfect conversion for this room.  I'm so glad they did!  You can see a slideshow of the whole remodeling process after the jump.

Monday, March 8, 2010

In Which I Make A Parenting Mistake

You get two posts tonight-- one house related and one Connor related.  Don't you feel special?

Anyway, I did not have one of my best parenting moments this morning.  You remember how Connor's been really anxious about the move, right?  He seems to think that all the packing means Jeremy (and possibly me) are leaving him again, and since the last few times anyone has been packing around here Jeremy has left I can't say that it's an illogical fear.  Anyway, he's been really nervous, clingy and prone to tears recently.  This morning at the apartment I was putting loads of stuff in the car with the intention of dropping Connor off at school and then swinging by the new house to unload.  I had one last load to take out, so I went ahead and put Connor in his wheelchair so that I could just take him outside as soon as I was finished.  The chair was facing the front door, and Jeremy was just down the hallway.  He could see Connor, but Connor couldn't see him.  Anyway, Connor watched me walk out the door with a load of stuff, and then as far as he could tell he was alone.  I had left him and evidently he believed all of his worst fears were being realized.

I walked back in to a hysterical child.  He refused to be comforted by either Jer or me, and cried all the way to school.  Of course once we got to school he was all smiles and apparently had a great day.  I picked him up afterwards and wheeled him into the car, where he immediately burst into tears again.  He cried all the way to the new house, and had meltdown after meltdown the entire day before finally falling asleep in exhaustion on my chest.

I feel horrible, of course.  I knew that he was upset about the move, and that he was really worried about being left behind.  I just was in a hurry and wasn't thinking about how he would react when I walked out the door.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a little better.  I certainly won't be making that mistake again.

Poor little guy.


Room By Room: Living Room

So the living room had a lot of work done.  For starters, it had a sunken floor with a single seven-inch step down (which, if these wonderful folks hadn't remodeled for us, means that we would have had to have had a seven-foot long ramp into the living room).  The windows, while dramatic, were original to the house and if you stood next to them you could feel the cold radiating off of them.  Also they weren't made of tempered glass, which meant that they weren't to code and that if Connor eventually graduated to a power wheelchair he might potentially be able to drive right through them.  The fireplace hadn't been serviced in so long that the chimney cap was literally falling apart and as a result the flue damper had rusted open.  The wooden railing dividing the living room from the entry and dining room (now library) was for show only-- it was wobbly enough that it was pretty obvious leaning on it would be a really bad idea.  Two measly can lights were the only illumination in the whole room.  You'll find a slideshow of the whole remodeling process after the jump.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Room By Room: Entry

As promised, here's the first in depth room-by-room talk about the house!  I've included a slideshow after the jump so you can see the construction process, and I want to tell you about the modifications that were done to make the house more accessible (and also gorgeous).

I think that it's appropriate to start with the entry.  The modifications start just outside the house, where the steps were replaced with a sloping walk that follows the path of the original walkway and is easily to navigate in a wheelchair.  The new zero-threshold door ensures that Jeremy and Connor can roll through with no big bumps on the way into the house.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Our New Home: The Big Reveal!

Okay, here we are-- the big reveal!  I'll just post a single before and after photo of each of the rooms today so this doesn't get too picture heavy, and then I'll do posts on individual rooms later in the week.  The only room not here is the library, which I posted a shot of yesterday. 

We held an Open House today (more on that tomorrow) so that everyone who helped out with the house could come back and see it, and also to meet some of the neighbors.  It went wonderfully, and it was so great to meet or see again the people who made it happen! 

I still can't believe that we actually get to live in this house.  I feel like a kid in a candy store every time I walk in right now.  But enough talking-- on to the pictures!

Friday, March 5, 2010

I have not fallen off the face of the earth, I swear.  Things have just been a wee bit crazy around here.  Here's a sneak peek of what we've been up to:



More tomorrow!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In which we are very busy

So busy there is no time to blog.
Jessie is moving books to the new house.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In Which Connor Finds The Cats Amusing

Since we're all camping out in the living room right now (the rest of the house is packed) Connor has had a chance to interact with the cats more than he usually does.  Normally the cats are not allowed in his room at night, and so he's never really been exposed to them around bedtime.
When he was really little this was because I was worried about the cats jumping into bed with him, and then like most acquired habits it sort of stuck in our bedtime routine even though there wasn't a real purpose for it.  Now, however, Connor seems to be making up for lost time.

The cats are now running Connor's hilarious all-night variety show.  He doesn't want to go to sleep, because every time they walk by they send him into peals of laughter.  The really crazy thing about this is that the cats aren't doing anything other than walking by.  No playing, fighting with each other, or even checking Connor out.  They just walk by and he loses it for about three minutes.  This continues until either the cats go take naps somewhere and he gets bored and drops off, or until I get fed up and lock the cats in the bathroom until he goes to sleep.  The night before last this happened at 11:30 at night.

It doesn't seem to bother the cats, but I know I would be rather taken aback if somebody thought my walking was ridiculous.  Perhaps it's the patterns that the cats' shadows make on the wall behind them that is so funny.  Perhaps the cats are proficient in the art of Silly Walking (perhaps I've watched too much Monty Python).  At any rate whatever the reason, I'm glad that Connor derives so much pleasure out of watching them, but in the interest of allowing him to actually get some sleep at night when we get to the new house we'll reinstigate the No Cats At Night policy.

Silly little guy.


Monday, March 1, 2010

In Which We Look For A Stylish Sign

So since we're about to move into this gorgeous new house, I've been thinking of ways to keep the home from looking like a medical facility.  Smart storage and a beautiful custom bed for Connor will go a long way, but there's one thing that's been bothering me.

Connor uses oxygen whenever he has a seizure.  So right smack dab in the front window of this stylish house, we have to post one of those nasty signs warning people not to smoke because there's oxygen in use in the home.

These are not the most stylish of signs. 

We have to have one by each of our entrances into the home-- pretty sure they're required by law-- but nothing says that we can't make the sign a little nicer, so long as it's legible and contains the information needed.  We know no one's going to be smoking in our home (or at least they better not be) so the sign is more for firefighters in case the house is on fire and we need to make sure they know that it might, um, blow up.

So anyway, late last night I logged onto Etsy-- that wonderful addictive website chock full of vendors of handmade goods-- and put in an open request for a stylish home oxygen sign via their custom request process (alchemy).  I specified that the medium, whatever it was, needed to hold up well to direct sunlight, and included a picture of the area the sign would be hung in as well as the names of the paint colors used inside and outside our home.

I figured if I was lucky I'd get one bid-- this isn't the sort of thing most people are requesting, after all.  Home oxygen signs are probably not the most exciting of design challenges.  But lo and behold, by the end of today I had thirteen vendors who were interested in making us a sign!  Proposed mediums included everything from laminated paper to wood to vinyl to stone.  We've asked all of them to submit a design sketch and we'll choose three of the designs-- one for each door.  I'm really psyched to see what they will come up with!

If you guys are interested, I'll see if I can get permission to show you all the finished products once we've made a decision and have them in our hot little hands!


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