Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In Which Things Don't Go Exactly As Planned, But We Still Have A Great Day

We had a very busy day today!

I had a rather crazy morning, though I thought I'd given myself plenty of time to get everything accomplished that I needed to before it was time to leave for our morning play date.  My plan was to get up, set the bread dough I had in the fridge out to return to room temperature, reassemble Connor's wheelchair (I took all the padding off yesterday and washed it), put the bread in the oven, shower, get the little guy up and ready to go, retrieve my bread from the oven and then be out of the house no later than a quarter after nine.

It didn't quite work out that way.

It started out okay; I put the bread dough on the counter to warm and turned the oven on to preheat.  So far so good.  Then when I went to put together Connor's wheelchair I realized that it had been long enough since I'd washed the padding (the wheelchair doubles as Connor's car seat, so I can only wash it if we aren't planning on going anywhere for an entire day) that I wasn't sure how to put it and all of the straps and harnesses back on.  Of course all of the instructions in the manuals I have are in German, and the online instruction manuals only dealt with later models.  The quick twenty minutes I thought it would take me to stick the thing back together quickly stretched into forty-five.  I got everything but the shoulder harness back on and took a quick break to put the bread in the oven as I was getting out of the muttering-under-my-breath stage and rapidly moving into the throw-things-around-the-room-and-yell stage of frustration with the darn thing.

Apparently no one told the weather I was planning on making bread, because it was wet and nasty outside.  My house, which is normally warm and pleasant in the mornings, was instead downright chilly.  So my bread dough wasn't particularly interested in coming to room temperature, and I couldn't wait any longer because I had a schedule and I needed the bread for a lunch get-together.  Into the oven went my heavy, not-really-risen baguette.  I went back to Connor's chair.

After finally realizing I was trying to put the shoulder harness on upside down, I managed to get the wheelchair completely reassembled.  It was a quarter after nine, and I still had yet to shower or get Connor (who did sleep in until nine or so but by now was more than ready to get up) ready to go.  I took the bread-- which was so dense and hard it could probably be used as a weapon--out of the oven, wrapped it in a towel and shoved it in the bottom basket of Connor's wheelchair.  After the fastest shower of my life, I threw Connor into some clothes, crammed some breakfast in him, plopped him down into his chair and then spent another precious ten minutes readjusting all of his straps.  We were out the door at 9:40 and pulled into the Children's Museum of Tacoma (where we were meeting some friends for a play date) just in time.

After the morning's excitement, the rest of the day was fantastic!

Connor absolutely had a blast at the children's museum.  It's been free for military families to go all summer, but somehow with one thing or another we never got around to it, and I'm so sorry we didn't!  We stayed about an hour and a half, which was the perfect amount of time for him as he was just starting to get overwhelmed when we left.  Connor had a great time watching and interacting with all the other kids, and I had a great time interacting with their moms!  Though to be honest with you I'm not sure how it would be possible to not have a great time at that place-- even looking at the picture makes me want to go back and play again!  I took this right as we were leaving, and you can tell that he's kind of sad about going.  He's signing "More!"

After that it was off to our lunch date, where that dense, heavy bread was much improved both by the company and by toasting and topping it with homemade bruschetta and some sort of smelly cheese.  I went to Connor's GI appointment with a mean case of garlic breath (we were heavy on the garlic in the bruschetta) but it was totally worth it. 

Connor received a clean bill of health at the GI clinic; they said his g-tube site looked fantastic and we didn't have to come in for another six months!  We also took the opportunity to get the last piece of paperwork we needed for school signed, which means we should be all set for it to start up Thursday. 

I can't believe he's headed back to school already!

~Jess

Monday, August 30, 2010

In Which I Show You Our Completely Awesome "Oxygen In Use" Signs

So remember way back in March when I wrote about how we'd commissioned some stylish "Oxygen In Use" signs for our house?  We're required by the Fire Marshall here to post them since we use an oxygen tank whenever Connor has a seizure, but we weren't happy about the idea of posting one of those giant, nursing-home-type signs in the front window of our house. 

Since they don't have any regulations about what the sign looks like so long as it's clear on the "you can't smoke in here because there's oxygen in use" part, we figured we'd post an Alchemy request on the crafting site Etsy and see what we could come up with.  As several of you requested, I'd intended to show you the signs that came out of that project but I never got around to it.  Well, no time like the present!

We needed three signs-- one for our front door, one for our patio door, and one for the cabinet where the oxygen equipment is kept.  Over twenty artists made concept drawings for the signs, and it was an extremely tough decision trying to figure out which to go with!  In the end we chose a different artist for each sign: Chileary in Colorado for the sign in Connor's room, Metroink in Colorado for the front door sign, and Amberbrien in Montana for the sign on the patio door. 

There were some other artists with beautiful concepts-- so many that we wished we had more doors!  A couple of real standouts included Cjaneb877, who suggested ten different interchangeable seasonally-themed signs for Connor's room, and Montage, who proposed a front door sign that included distressed wood and stained glass elements.  You can see why it was hard to choose!

Anyway, here are the signs we ended up with:

Chileary did our front entry sign in green slate to compliment the colors of our house.  They took an element from the window in our front door and used it as a decorative accent. 

Amberbrian went with an Art Deco style for our patio door sign.  The vinyl window decal should hold up well to the weather, and the colors are drawn from the interior of our home. 

Metroink created a fun, lighthearted sign for Connor's room.  The simple laminated sign cleans easily and works well with the colors and decor.  The text reads "No Smoking!  (We've got oxygen in here!)" and there's a picture of an explosion with oxygen tanks flying out from the blast.

So there you have it!  We absolutely love the signs; I am a firm believer in the idea that just because something is required for a person with a medical condition doesn't mean it needs to be ugly, and to my mind these fit my principles to a T!

~Jess

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In Which Connor Has An Outing In Pictures

Today Jeremy, Connor and I decided to have an afternoon outing!  Connor has gotten to the point where we're finally ready to start taking him out and about again, what better way to reintroduce him to field trips than a visit to the playground and then some back-to-school shopping?  We headed down to Bradley Park, and I brought along the camera.  Here's a pictorial tour of what we did today:

Savannah's Place, the playground we usually go to in Puyallup, is an amazing fully-accessible play space in Bradley Park, which is about five minutes from our house.  Recently it's been overhauled-- repaired, repainted, and added to-- so everything is in tip-top shape.  I don't have any statistics, but I would be willing to guess that this is the most-used playground in Puyallup; there's another also-pretty-cool-but-non-accessible playground literally ten feet from Savannah's Place and it's usually nearly deserted.  Everyone wants to play at the accessible playground, whether they have mobility issues or not, because it is just so cool.  So we got there and after a brief walk around through the woods around the (also accessible) trails, we made a beeline for the swings.

The next part of this is really picture heavy and there's also a video, so I put it after the jump in case you don't want to scroll through it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

In Which Connor Stands A Lot, And Spends Time In A Swing

Connor is continuing to recover in terms of mental acuity and physical strength after the ordeal of the last two months; today he spent over half an hour in his stander and didn't complain about it at all!  Of course, Jeremy was also spinning the kid around like a top, so that might have had something to do with it.  Our stander rolls really well on the laminate floors and also Connor is a big fan of any swinging, twirling motions or any fast movement, so he was having a blast.  I was mostly concerned about what was going to happen when Jeremy lost his grip on the back of the stander and sent Connor careening into the furniture or the wall, but luckily it didn't happen.  It's my job to worry about stuff like that.  One of the nice things about having a floor plan that's so open for wheelchairs is that it also provides ample room for my son to become a wheeled whirling dervish.  It's pretty awesome to see them playing together again, even if I am worried about centrifugal force getting the best of them.

In addition to his stander, Connor's been spending quite a bit of time in his swing, too.  He's not really up for big field trips yet so we've been keeping close to home, but he's recovered to the point that he wants to do some active play.  The swing has been fantastic for this; it helps him work on his torso strength and balance but in a way that he doesn't think of it as work.  I'm starting to think about getting him another swing or two so we can switch them out to work on some different skills.  I'm so glad that the swing has worked out so well and that Connor is back to his happy self! 

He's been five days without seizures now, and already his left side is catching back up to where it was before, though there's still a noticeable difference in muscle tone between his two sides. I think more than anything the nerves needed some rest from all the seizing.  It's nice to know that a single dose of Ativan will give us enough of a break that the little guy can really recover.  While I have no idea how the mechanism of the drug works, we've used it several times (just once in recent days, but they've used it to stop him from seizing when he's gone status in the past) and in Connor's case it seems to sort of "reboot" his system.  The pattern we see with Connor's seizures is that they start out several weeks apart and then get closer and closer together until he goes status.  The Ativan seems to start the clock over.  While not ideal, I can certainly handle giving him a dose of Ativan every two or three weeks until we reach a therapeutic dose of Lemictal.  It's just so nice to have that option.  We're going to do our best to only use it when it's absolutely necessary; the last thing we want is for him to start building up a resistance to a last-resort drug like Ativan. 

But we'll cross that bridge if we come to it. 

~Jess

Friday, August 27, 2010

In Which We Meet With Connor's School District, And The Cannibal Rodent Strikes Again

We had a meeting this morning with Connor's school district in preparation for the upcoming year, and once again I walked out of it convinced our move to Puyallup was the best decision ever.  The meeting was fantastic; basically everyone there was concerned with making Connor's school year as safe and productive as possible.  There were some personnel changes this year, so it gave people a chance to meet Connor, ask us questions about his health and development, and talk about appropriate training and precautions for managing his medical care in the upcoming year.  Everyone was extremely nice, and we walked out feeling comfortable and confident that Connor will be in the best of hands. 

Seriously, the only way this town could get more perfect for us is if it contained a 24 hour chocolate store.  They could open it up next to that used bookstore downtown.  Chocolate makes everything better.

Um, anyway, so the meeting went really well and hopefully (provided I can get a doctor signature on one more medication form) he'll start up next Thursday with the same awesome team he had last year.  I can't wait!

On a completely unrelated note, remember our cannibalistic gerbil, Lili and the horrific events of last March?  And remember how we decided to get another victim friend for Lili because he was sinking into gerbil depression?  Well, Lili and his new pal, who we named Cranston (for Lamont Cranston-- yet another obscure and weird reference no one is likely to get) have been getting along like a house on fire, once they stopped that whole trying-to-fight-to-the-death business.  I've still kept an eye on them, though, because Teke and Lili got along pretty well too before Teke became the Special Of The Day. 

So last week when I walked in fairly late in the afternoon to get Connor up from his nap I did my customary once over of the gerbil cage, which I can see as soon as I walk into the room.  To my horror I saw Lili stretched out on his back in a corner of the cage, eyes closed and paws extended, with Cranston perched on top of his chest, his muzzle buried in the fur on Lili's belly.

"Nooooooo" I said, (it's best if you picture this in slow motion), lunging towards the tank with my arms outstretched.  Convinced I was seeing Lili meeting a gruesome (but rather fitting, considering) end, I jerked off the top of the tank with the idea that I might possibly be able to save him if I got him to a vet right away and it wasn't Too Late.  Cringing in anticipation of what I would find, I stared down into the cage to see how bad the damage was.

Both gerbils gazed up at me in puzzlement for a minute, and then went back to grooming each other.

Whoops.

~Jess

Thursday, August 26, 2010

In Which The House Is Clean But We Miss An Appointment

Today I threw myself into housecleaning, as I've been neglecting it for a number of days and the previous activity I was doing to get my mind off of Connor's medical issues-- looking at children's interior design blogs to figure out how I wanted to do Sylvie's room-- wasn't exactly going to be a good idea anymore.  So I set Connor up with a mobile play area (so I could move it from room to room while I was cleaning), put on a CD of stories from This American Life to listen to, threw on some old clothes and started turning the house inside out.

You know when you get really involved with something after a while you get into a kind of zone and lose all track of time?  Well, I was halfway through mopping the kitchen floor and singing a rousing version of "Rambling Roarin' Willie" at the top of my lungs when the phone rang.  I picked it up, saw it was Connor's occupational therapist calling and suddenly realized that he had therapy at noon and it was now a quarter to one.

Whoops.

So that was not so wonderful, and I felt pretty guilty about it-- especially since Connor's missed a lot of occupational therapy in the past few weeks.  And it's not like I had a good reason this time, like Connor not breathing on me or something.  I'm relatively sure that "I was too busy mopping my kitchen floor and singing rousing versions of Irish drinking songs to check the time or show up to our appointment" would not rank high on a list of great excuses.  I guess everybody drops a ball or two every once in a while, though it doesn't really make me feel any better about it.

But on the up side, my kitchen floors look great. 

Connor had a perfectly fine day health-wise, though he spent a good portion of it pretty bored because I was using the time I would normally be playing with him to clean our bathrooms instead.  So he was kind of ticked about that.  He's definitely feeling about eight hundred times better than he was last week, though, as he was extremely vocal today and he had been slipping into this kind of scary apathy during the worst of the seizures.  He hasn't had one since his dose of Ativan on Tuesday, so that's pretty great!  I'll take a bored, whiny, loud kid over an exhausted, zoned-out, silent kid any day.  I did do a good bit of laundry today, so he perked up for that.  You all know how that kid loves the laundry folding.

As you can see, Cricket helped out with the laundry too.  I had to rewash all of our dishcloths. 

Cats are helpful like that.

~Jess

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In Which We Say Goodbye To Sylvie

We got a call from the adoption agency today.

They've been over in Thailand the past couple of weeks gathering updates on all of the waiting children in the various orphanages and foster homes around the country.  We were expecting a call from our adoption coordinator any day now, giving us news about how Sylvie is doing and hopefully providing us with some answers to a few of the questions about her health, development, preferences etc. we'd sent over for them to ask the social worker.  We received that call today, but it wasn't the news we'd expected.

In a few weeks, Sylvie's adoptive parents will be arriving to pick her up and take her home.  They won't be us.

Apparently an adoption agency in another country had also matched Sylvia with a family, and they've been working steadily towards her adoption for well over a year now.  The Thailand government simply failed to inform our adoption agency that they'd already found a match, and so apparently the child we've been working towards this whole time has been spoken for probably since before we started the adoption process.  It's apparently extremely rare for something like this to happen, but we were aware it could be an issue (though the odds of it occurring when the child in question is older and has special needs are slim to none).  So where does that leave us?

Well, pretty disappointed and saddened, for one.  Since we'd been matched on this side of the water I'd relaxed a little and allowed myself to start thinking about Sylvie in terms of when she would get here and not if.  Obviously that was a mistake.  It's very odd because in some ways I feel like I've suffered a loss similar to a miscarriage-- and I've had several of those so I know how they feel-- but at the same time the child I'm mourning is still very much alive.  Not only that, but her situation in the next few months will be greatly improved; she'll be with a family and receiving the love and care she needs instead of waiting in the orphanage for another year.  Certainly it's better for her to have a family now instead of spending another year in institutional care.  This is by far the best situation for her, but that doesn't mean I don't feel pretty sad that she's going to be somebody else's and not ours. 

Jer and I have discussed it and we definitely want to continue forging ahead in the adoption process.  We know there's another child out there waiting who would fit our family just as well as Sylvie would have.  Our home study, thankfully, is written in general terms; we're approved for a single child or sibling group with moderate special needs up to the age of nine.  The Thailand adoption coordinator is compiling all the new data they received about the waiting children in the program, and as soon as she has it completed she'll send us an updated list so we can start the process of being matched with a child over again.  We'll continue to put our dossier paperwork together in the meantime, so we can quickly jump into things once we have a new child in mind.  So once the packet of waiting children arrives I'll take a deep breath, be happy for Sylvie, and start looking at all those eager, heartbreaking little faces again. 

We'd sent a stuffed owl over with the adoption agency to give to Sylvie while they were there.  They didn't get the chance to see her, but I hope they were able to give the owl to the social worker to pass on to her, even though we won't be her family.  I'd like to think that even though she'll never know we existed, she'll carry a bit of the love we've felt for her with her as she travels to her future home and starts her exciting new adventure.

Here's to you, Sylvie.

~Jess

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In Which We Catch A Breather, And Receive Some Awesome Photos

Well, today went much better.

We got a call back from the hospital this morning.  They had us give Connor a low dose of Ativan to break the cycle of seizures he's in, and we have instructions to give him a low dose any time in the next three months that he starts having another cluster of seizures.  Hopefully as the Lamictal dose is ramped up the number of seizure clusters like these will taper off. 

Connor actually perked up after we gave him the Ativan, which was not quite the response I was expecting as Ativan is in the same family of drugs as Valium and normally has a sedating effect.  But hey, I'll certainly take it!  He was much more perky and vocal after the dose, which makes me think he was feeling a bit better.  We don't want to give it too often because it can be habit forming, but with any luck he'll have a nice break between his next round of seizures and we won't have to resort to it again for a long while.  Keep your fingers crossed for us!

In other news, remember that second photo shoot we did with Kat and Justin of Persimmon Images at the Tacoma Glass Museum?  Kat just posted some of the gorgeous shots from that session over at her blog-- go check them out!  Didn't they make us look just adorable?  Not that I'm surprised by this or anything, as the two of them are ridiculously talented. 

I'm especially in love with the closeups of Connor as well as the family shot I've got posted here.  Now we just have to figure out which of the photos out of our two awesome sessions (remember these?) are going to go up on the wall. 

How in the world are we ever going to choose?

~Jess

Monday, August 23, 2010

In Which Connor Has Two Seizures, And My Day Goes Down The Tubes

Well, today I can add yet another check mark to my rapidly growing list of Totally Bizarre Things I Never Had Any Interest In Doing But End Up Doing Anyway. 

Connor had not one, but two seizures today.  The first was in the early afternoon and happened while our respite care worker was here.  The little guy was out for about a minute and a half, and it was a pretty typical seizure for him-- you know, keel over, turn blue, stop breathing, etc.  The second one happened early this evening-- about an hour and a half after he'd woken up from the nap induced by the earlier seizure.  It was also a pretty typical seizure in execution-- it was the circumstances surrounding it that prompted me to whip out the checklist.

Let me explain.

I've talked a little bit in the past about how Connor's seizures mean that if it's just the two of us in the house I get zero alone time.  And I mean zero.  Connor's with me while I change clothes, do the laundry, check the mail, take a shower and yes, even go to the bathroom.

Speaking of which, guess where I was when he had his second seizure?

So do you think when I put together a resume I can put "Has Resuscitated Person With Pants Down Around Ankles" on there as a job skill?  Because I can assure you, it's not as easy as it sounds.  For one thing, I almost killed myself getting over to the wheelchair.  In retrospect it would have been best to have taken the time to, you know, put my pants back on before trying to get over there, as knocking myself out would not only have not helped Connor out at all but also would have been horribly embarrassing.  However, in the heat of the moment I was more concerned with getting to the little guy than with the state of my clothing, so I just sort of lunged for the wheelchair and hoped for the best.  Not fun.

Also I still really had to pee.  This did not make things any easier.

While I was resuscitating Connor I was frantically trying to figure out what the heck I was going to say to the EMT operatives if I had to call them, since if it came to that I probably wouldn't be able to stop doing mouth-to-mouth long enough to get back into my jeans.  Thank goodness the seizure didn't last that long, though I'm sure if it came down to it the EMTs wouldn't have batted an eye; they've likely seen far stranger things over the course of their careers.

It would probably still have been kind of awkward, though. 

Connor's now had six seizures in as many days, which is not so hot.  We've got another call into the neurologist, and we'll see what he has to say.  Jeremy is probably going to take some time off of work to spend some more time with the little guy and help me out during the week, as the seizures are taking their emotional and physical toll on all of us.  Let's hope the hospital can come up with some quick solutions for us, because we all really need a break.

So in conclusion, that was my crappy (no pun intended) day. 

~Jess

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In Which We Get To Work

After yesterday's much needed break time, we felt like it was time to get moving!

Today we had respite care all day, and instead of going out on a date we used it to get some things done in the yard.  Jeremy stained the rest of the decking boards while our friend Jake worked on installing them, and I got started on staining our fence.  We had to wait for a while before weatherproofing it because the boards were really wet when we built it (water would drip out when you screwed the boards in place), and we didn't want to lock the moisture in.  Hopefully staining it will help it last longer in our extremely wet weather.  Of course the boards just soak in the stain and we have a really big yard, so it's going to take me a while to get the whole thing done.  I got about three-fourths of the way down one side of the fence today, and that took me about three and a half hours.  Oh well-- I'll just keep chipping away at it and eventually it will be finished.

I also spent some time laying down landscaping fabric where I've cleared the ivy, salal, bindweed and blackberry from along our fence and retaining wall.  Once I've finished that I'll plant some perennials and then cover the whole thing with mulch.  It's taking much longer than I expected because I haven't been able to take Connor outside to work on it due to the heat, but since our temperatures are back down to reasonable levels hopefully things will move faster.  I think it's going to look pretty great when it's done!  If it is ever done, that is.  I've been fighting a losing battle with the ivy for nine months now, because I keep pulling it all up and then having some crisis and neglecting it to all grow back.  I'm hoping that the combination of weeding, Roundup (a necessary evil with this stuff), landscape fabric and mulch will do finally do the trick.

I didn't want to work too hard today, so I knocked things off around four in the afternoon or so and got cleaned up.  My plan was to leave for a coffee shop to do some reading and writing around five or so, but I ended up not leaving until close to six because Connor had a seizure.  This one was pretty short; it was probably about a minute or so long.  I was sort of hoping since we didn't see any yesterday that the little guy would get a break from them for a while, but I guess it wasn't to be.  He's pretty exhausted right now; the seizures are hard on his little body and he's not getting enough of a break between them to recover fully.  We'll be stepping up his new medication for the first time on Tuesday and I'm hoping they'll start to taper off. 

So after the little guy was settled in bed, I took off for the coffee shop and spent the evening curled up in a comfy leather chair reading-- just what I needed to recharge my batteries after the adrenaline rush wore off.  I feel much better for having the chance to escape and get a little bit of alone time out of the house, and that's a good thing.

I have the feeling I'm going to need that energy this week.

~Jess

Saturday, August 21, 2010

In Which We Have A Much Needed Break

No seizures today-- thank goodness for the break!  We all badly needed it. 

Joanna came over to watch Connor today, and so Jeremy and I went out for a bike ride and then spent the rest of the day sitting in a coffee shop reading and sipping on the beverages of our choice.  We're both pretty wiped out; it's been a long week, so we were happy to get out of the house for a little while.  We have a long day of respite care tomorrow as well, and we're both looking forward to it.

And that's all the blog you get tonight.  Sorry.  Connor didn't sleep very well last night, probably due to the fact that he's been taking four hour naps during the day.  Seizures and medication-induced fatigue really screw up one's sleep schedule.  So of course since he didn't sleep, I didn't sleep.  Instead of going for a bike ride I probably should have taken a nap. 

Oh well.  Good night!

~Jess

Friday, August 20, 2010

In Which Connor Has Still Another Seizure, And I Crunch Some Numbers

So Connor has apparently decided that he enjoys giving me mini-heart attacks on a regular basis, because he had another seizure this morning, and guess what I was doing? 

Yep.  Driving again.

This time we were on our way to the library, and were luckily right next to a parking lot, so it was only a matter of seconds before I had him out of the wheelchair and was in position for mouth-to-mouth, which I did for a couple of minutes this time.  I took him home afterwards-- so much for story time at the library-- and he took a four-and-a-half hour nap.

So I've taken the time to consult my records (what, every parent doesn't have a huge Excel spreadsheet they use to record significant medical events and medication changes in their kid's life?) and tallied everything up.  let's review the numbers, shall we?

Seizures In 2008: 15
    - number of those occurring after diagnosis of epilepsy: 1
Seizures in 2009: 11
Seizures in 2010 so far: 28
    -number of those occurring since July: 15

So in other words, in the past seven weeks Connor has had over a quarter of all the seizures he's ever suffered: an average of one every three and a half days. 

Not good.

After talking with the hospital last night, I spent a good portion of today believing that until we got up to a therapeutic dose of the Lamictal to see if it was going to be effective there wasn't anything additional we'd be able to do.  Connor won't reach a therapeutic dose of Lamictal for another three months due to the extremely slow titration schedule the drug requires.  So basically I was steeling myself for another stint in the ICU, because the way things have been accelerating that was the only way I could see this ending up. 

But I talked with the hospital again early this evening, and our neurologist decided that he can potentially add a bridging medication to Connor's regime if necessary until he's up to a therapeutic dose of the Lamictal.  This would mean that Connor would be on four seizure medications and would probably be a zombie as a result, but we can handle him being a zombie for three months if it means that he's not going to end up with brain damage from the whole not-breathing-repeatedly thing. 

I have no idea where this leaves us for school as of yet.  School starts up for Connor in two weeks, and I'm really hoping by then that he's not having a seizure every three days (or every day, as of the past three days) because if he's still doing it that's probably going to seriously complicate things. 

Keep your fingers crossed for us that we'll get this thing figured out soon.

~Jess

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In Which Connor Scares The Bejeezus Out Of Me

Well this morning was not particularly fun.

Connor and I were supposed to be meeting some friends at Northwest Trek; a large wildlife park in the area with free roaming native fauna.  We were about halfway there and stopped at a red light, where we were chatting about what animals we were going to see when Connor went abruptly limp. 

We were in the center lane, with cars on either side of us. 

I jabbed the button for the warning lights and mashed the horn, waving frantically to the guy in the lane to the right (who didn't have anyone behind him and could easily back up) that I needed to get over.  He glanced over at me a couple of times and then stared straight ahead, ignoring me, his eyes fixed on the steering wheel despite all my pleading.  Just in front of him, and twenty feet from my van was the turn-in for the parking lot to a grocery store.  It might have well have been 100 miles away.  The guy in the car directly in front of me began honking back.  The guy directly behind me started flipping me the bird. 

Connor's body slumped completely still, hanging against his wheelchair harness.  His face was blue.

So I made the decision to throw on the parking brake and just get out of the car in the middle of traffic, open up the back and do mouth-to-mouth on my son in the middle of the road.  My hand was on the door handle when the light turned green and the cars around me started to move.  I slammed the parking brake off, threw the car into drive and shot over just behind the guy who had refused to back up and then straight into the parking lot, where I parked across three parking spaces and leaped out of the car, hitting the button to open the back door at the same time.  I unbuckled Connor, laid him down on the floor of the van and gave him three breaths.  He shuddered back to life and threw up into the parking lot.

So that was my morning.

Instead of going to Northwest Trek I drove us back home, where Connor went down for a nap and I had a small fit of hysterics in our living room and then consumed my weight in cookies, after which I felt much better.  He slept until 11:40, which is when I woke him up to go to his occupational therapy session. 

I used to cancel everything for the day whenever the little guy had a seizure, but the sad fact of the matter is that if I did that now he'd be missing way too many appointments.  As it is he's having a hard time physically due to all the seizures-- he's actually losing muscle tone on his left side because it's paralyzed so often right now.  So I took him to OT, which he did initially did not enjoy despite there being a swing involved, (usually a favorite activity) but he perked up by the end of the session.  He was feeling well enough afterwards that we joined a friend for lunch; something that Connor may have been relatively indifferent about but that I desperately needed. 

And the rest of the day was much better.  Connor's asleep right now (and still adorable, as you can see), none the worse for wear.  But I'd really like him to cut this sort of thing out.  Seriously, if the major adrenaline rushes I keep having didn't burn so many calories, I'd probably be 300 pounds by now.

Sheesh.

~Jess
My monthly article for Hopeful Parents is up!  You can read it over here.

~Jess

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In Which Connor And I Go Shopping And I Consider Theft

Connor had about a one minute seizure this evening.  He's been asleep now for a few hours; it was right before bed.  He stopped breathing with this one-- it looked like a pretty typical seizure for him-- so I have no idea what the deal was with that long seizure the other day.  Lovely.  We still haven't heard anything back from the neurologist about that last one.  Guess I'll be calling the hospital tomorrow. 

Anyway, the rest of the day went well.  We took a trip to the grocery store, where I once again contemplated walking off with one of their plastic shopping baskets.  These things are just so darn convenient.  I mean-- look how they fit right in between the handlebars of Connor's wheelchair!  I've got to buy myself one of these, as sadly the shoplifting method isn't going to happen due to my overdeveloped sense of morality.  It would add some serious storage to Connor's chair. 

The only thing holding me back from finding one on the Internet (they sell everything on Ebay) and snatching it up is that the little guy is going to be getting a new, bigger wheelchair sometime in the next few months and I'm not sure whether or not the distance between the handlebars will be the same.  As you can see, he's rapidly outgrowing his old one, which is much the worse for wear. 

He's going to be getting the ThevoTwist, made by Thomashilfen.  This one right here, only in red.  Spiffy, huh?  At any rate, I'll hold off on getting a basket until I know if the measurements match up, but in the meantime I'll eye them longingly every time I leave the grocery store and have to put mine back. 

Either way I'll continue using a little basket and doing my grocery shopping in frequent but small trips.  Because there's no way I'm capable of hauling a wheelchair and a grocery cart through any store without some serious collateral damage.

~Jess

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In Which Connor Has A Sad Hat, And Meets Some Reptiles

Today Connor and I met some friends downtown for the weekly Concert in the Park put on by Puyallup's Parks and Recreation department.  These are kid-friendly concerts and activities that happen every Tuesday during the summer.  This week's show was called Reptile Isle, and basically it was an educational show where they brought out a lot of exotic reptiles and allowed the kids to interact with them.  Reptiles featured included an African Spurred Tortoise, an albino Burmese Python, a small American Alligator and a juvenile Komodo Dragon (with two tails!).  It was really cool to get the chance to see all of the animals, though the park was packed and we ended up having to leave early.  Connor got overheated pretty quickly even though we were sitting in the shade, and dissolved into a puddle of red-faced grumpiness.  Oh well; what we did see was pretty neat.

Connor did keep his hearing aids on during the show, which was great because I wasn't sure what I was going to do if he started pulling them out, as it was really too hot outside for me to be using Sad Hat.

Yes, that's right.  Sad Hat.

Sad Hat is what Connor has named his new hearing aid retention device.  Basically I sat him down yesterday and told him that he needed to start keeping his hearing aids on, and that if he pulled them out repeatedly he was going to have to wear the special hat I ordered a few weeks ago to remind him to keep them on.  I told him it was his choice whether or not he would wear the hat.  Connor did really well yesterday until he got bored with a toy he was playing with and I didn't get him a new one fast enough; out went the hearing aids.  So I put them back in for him, reminded him of his choice, and then when he immediately did it again on went the hat.  "Sad hat," Connor signed, making an exaggerated pouty face.  After a couple of minutes I asked him if he was ready to keep his hearing aids in.  He told me he was, and so I took the hat off.  "No Sad Hat," he signed happily.  He left them in for the rest of the day. 

Well, today when I put him in the van after we left the show he was tired and grumpy and hot.  I turned the AC up full blast and we headed for home.  When we reached the house I started unbuckling Connor's wheelchair from the van restraint system.  I looked up to see Connor fingering his hearing aids.  "Connor," I said, "you have a choice.  You can either leave your hearing aids in until we get inside and I take them out for your quiet time (i.e. nap time in which he no longer naps) or you can wear your sad hat until quiet time."

He looked directly at me, grabbed his hearing aid and yanked it out.  "Sad Hat!" he signed, and scowled.  So he wore the hat inside, glowering at me all the way to his bedroom where I put him down.

Ah, the joy of having a four year old.

~Jess

Monday, August 16, 2010

In Which I Put Batteries In My Camera

So you might have noticed that I restocked on batteries for my camera.  I went a little crazy today as a result, so you get a lot of pictures.  Kind of random, disjointed pictures, but then this is my blog, after all, and so you've probably come to expect that sort of thing.

And yes, that is Connor giving us his a hoity-toity look.  With a lemur.  I think he pulls it off well.

Anyway, I had a rare few hours of weekday respite care, so I took the opportunity to stop by the library and bid a sad farewell to The Worst Keyboard That Ever Was.  I'm heartbroken, let me tell you.  I decided on zoo animals for our next theme box, and I may have been just slightly influenced in my choice by the fact that the box does not contain any objects that make noise.  It did, however, contain Connor's new buddy Lemur as well as this awesome raccoon puppet, which I took one look at and decided to name "Roadkill." 

Seriously, what is wrong with this puppet? 

Anyway, Roadkill and Cricket are the best of friends now, and I actually caught her trying to carry her new pal around in her mouth earlier today.  She doesn't feel quite the same way about Lemur, despite my best attempts to make them better acquainted.  They are Not Friends.  She began attempting to disembowel him five seconds after this picture was taken.

I'm so mean.

It's about four in the afternoon in that picture of Connor, by the way, and he's stripped down to a diaper because it's so dang hot here right now.  When I moved to Washington State from Texas, I assumed I'd left the 90 degree weather behind me.  Normally this time of year the average temperature for this area is 75 degrees.  I looked it up on the weather channel website and everything.  Well, it hit 91 today, and yesterday the high was 96 degrees-- a record for this area.  Not fun in a place where most houses and small businesses don't have air conditioning.  And since so far as we can tell Connor doesn't sweat, we've been sticking pretty close to home recently, and he's been spending a lot of time sans clothing.  So he spent most of the day in nothing but a diaper, a lemur and his hearing aids, which I picked up new earmolds for a couple of days ago.  I'm hoping the blue will be a little easier to find if he decided to yank them apart and throw an earmold across a parking lot again.

And now for something completely different. 

Here's our deck as of this afternoon; a few of you have asked to see how it's coming along.  You can really see the shape it will take now, and start to get a good idea of what it will look like when it's finished.  Those T-shaped supports sticking up are the beginnings of our benches.  Another ramp will run down the side of our house where the pile of decking material is stacked in the far left corner of the deck.  The deck and ramp both aren't high enough to need a big railing; we'll be adding a "bumper" around the sides that will come up about four inches high all around and prevent tragic wheelchair accidents.  The ramp already in will come out onto our patio, which will probably be our next project after this one is finished.  Work has slowed way, way down because it's so hot outside and the deck is in full sun and has proved to be an excellent reflector of heat.  I wouldn't expect it to take too much longer, though.

Anyway, Connor had a good day, I erased Cricket's memory of Lemur-related trauma by letting her snuggle with Roadkill and feeding her catnip, and I didn't get any pictures of Loki because he was too busy skidding around our house in a mad catnip-induced frenzy.  Note to self: take pictures of Loki before catnip.  Here's Cricket and Roadkill once the catnip wore off.  Loki was still running back and forth up and down our hallways at thirty miles an hour.

In conclusion, our cats are insane.

~Jess

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In Which It Is My Birthday

So compared to last year's birthday, this one was just slightly more laid back.  I didn't have a single bout of hysteria or anything!  While last year was certainly dramatic, I think I prefer my birthdays a little more, um, sedate.  Luckily Jeremy obliged by not getting blown up again or anything, and Connor took the day off from trying to die on me.  So it was pretty great!

We had respite care all day, so we started off around ten in the morning with a trip to (of course) one of our little coffee shops.  Then we took a leisurely stroll down to the new used bookstore that just opened up downtown.  What better way to start out a birthday?

After browsing through the book selection, we walked back to Pioneer Park and tooled around the Puyallup Farmer's Market; it's much smaller on Sundays but tends to have discounted prices compared to Saturday's market.  Jeremy bought me an adorable planter made of an old cast iron saucepan filled with an assortment of Hens and Chicks, which we then took home so I could give it a place of pride in my kitchen garden window.  Isn't it cute?  The cats haven't touched my other succulents that have been growing in the windowsill (the cats aren't supposed to be up there in the first place, but they blatantly ignore that rule) for several months, so I'm hoping they'll leave these alone too. 

Anyway, then we drove down to Olympia and wandered around that farmer's market for a while, because in my opinion if there's one thing better than a birthday trip to a farmer's market, it's a birthday trip to two farmer's markets.  I picked up some lovely handmade soap there.  I am wholeheartedly and unabashedly addicted to good-smelling handmade soap, and my supply was running dangerously low.  If we get too low Jer goes out and buys Dial soap as a replacement (horrors!), so I had to make sure that I stocked up. 

We stopped in a little coffee tasting room down there and picked up some beans for Jeremy, ate at one of my favorite restaurants (the Urban Onion) and enjoyed some time just strolling around in each other's company.

It was pretty hot outside, so we spent the rest of the day inside various places.  These places included a different coffee shop where we spent some time sipping on our cool beverage of choice and (of course) reading, a different bookstore (see my earlier reasoning on farmer's markets for my philosophy on bookstores and coffee shops) and dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse, which involved two of my favorite things: tasty animals and fire.

So all in all it was a pretty great birthday-- just the break that I needed from our crazy schedule of late and the perfect distraction from the reminder that I am now 28 years old and already have gray hair.  And I'm totally not kidding about that.  My present to myself later in this week: touching up my roots.

Happy Birthday to Me!

~Jess

Saturday, August 14, 2010

In Which I Turn Into A Gibbering Idiot, But Still Have A Great Day

Okay, so today was just an all round pretty awesome day.

Connor and I went to a birthday party in the morning for one of the kids who goes to his school, so that was fun.  He ate a bit of frosting off the top of a cupcake and did a whole lot of yelling; he seems to be feeling much better and is mostly recovered from yesterday's fun and games.  Then I took him back to the house, dropped him off with Jeremy, and headed up to Elliot Bay Bookstore in Seattle.

April Winchell was in town.

Okay, so April Winchell has done a lot of things, but the reason I was going to see her was that she is the brain behind the wonderful snarky horribleness that is Regretsy.  You all know how much I love Etsy, that awesome crafty website, right?  Well, Regretsy showcases some of the, shall we say, less successful craft projects on Etsy.  Craft projects that should never, ever have been attempted.  I will warn you, by the way, that if you aren't comfortable with off-color humor and/or profanity, you probably shouldn't visit the site.  Some of the craft projects are more than a little racy.  For everybody else, however, it's hilarious and you should go take a look

Anyway, I spend a lot of time glued to my computer.  This is because there are many nights when after Connor goes down, I'm unable to leave my house and don't feel like cleaning up or reading, but it's too early to go to bed.  So I spend my time looking at funny websites; laughter is pretty essential to me keeping my sanity these days.  I'm sure everybody has their own ways of getting away mentally from the stress for a little while; looking at websites of questionable taste like this happens to be one of mine.  There are certainly worse habits I could cultivate.

So I, along with about 100 other people went to see April Winchell down in the creaky old basement of the Elliott Bay Bookstore and she was awesome.  She read us some of her e-mail hate mail (she gets a lot of hate mail, as you might imagine) and then she showed us a slide show of some of the most overpriced items on Etsy, such as this glorious Swarovski Crystal Encrusted Marlin Grando, a bargain at a mere $25,000.  Who could resist buying such an amazing work of art?  I'm saving up right now for it; hope somebody else doesn't snap it up first!  And then she signed books and was extremely gracious and lovely despite the fact that my brain somehow deserted me and once it was my turn to talk to her I turned into a babbling, blushing idiot.  I even giggled.  It was horrible.  But she still signed not one, but two books for me and then she let me take a picture with her and everything.  See?  There we are. 

So that was pretty great, and then I went straight from there to dinner with some friends, after which we all went to a movie together.  Jer and Connor apparently had a good day together, and the little guy didn't have any seizures or anything.  All in all it was a pretty fantastic day!

~Jess

Friday, August 13, 2010

In Which Connor Has A Really Long Seizure But Keeps Breathing, Which Was Kind Of Weird

Well today was sort of a mixed bag.

I guess I'll jump right into it.  The bad: Connor had a seven and a half minute long seizure today.  We were discussing new wheelchair options with his physical therapist and a medical equipment specialist when the little guy's left side just stopped working.  I laid him down on the floor and the jerking started a few seconds later.  We ended up having to use the Diastat and call 911.  Not fun.

The good: Connor didn't stop breathing.  This is the first seizure where he hasn't stopped breathing for at least a few seconds.  Ever.  Also by the time the EMTs got there the seizure was over, and after a little while waiting to make sure Connor was indeed okay and not recovering from a seizure instead of, say, a stroke (he's already had one, he's at risk for more and the fact that his left side stopped working before the seizure kind of freaked me out) they took off and we didn't have to transport.  So that was nice.

Actually this one was pretty different all around.  He was lucid through the whole thing-- during the first two or three minutes before the jerking got really bad he was still trying to give me high fives and sign!  While this wasn't anywhere close to tonic-clonic movements; his face and the left side of his body were jerking pretty violently.  His breathing was labored-- especially once the jerking got really bad-- but I think the oxygen really helped him out there; he didn't lose color even though the seizure was really long.

So in conclusion, I have no idea how to feel about this.  I mean, on the one hand he had a seizure.  A really freakin' long seizure that involved ambulances and scaring the crap out of multiple people, since we were out and about at the time.  It worries me that he's having such a long seizure a mere three days after starting his new medication, too.  I mean, I know we have to work up to a therapeutic dose to prevent some really scary (potentially fatal) side effects, but we won't reach that dose until he's been on the med for fourteen weeks.  So that's plenty of time in between to be having some extremely nasty seizures.  On the other hand, he didn't actually stop breathing this time, so maybe that means the medication is doing something to improve things already.  A long seizure with breathing is still much, much better than a long seizure sans breathing.

Oh who knows?  At any rate, I put a call in to neurology, and then I went home and spent a long evening commiserating with my pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.  I feel much better now.  Cherry Garcia is a great listener.

Bleagh.

~Jess

Thursday, August 12, 2010

In Which We Film Some More, And Connor Is Pouty

So this morning was a continuation of the grand filming saga, only this time it was on the army post and with a whole bunch of other people-- basically we were filming one of the  meetings (called a Comprehensive Transition Plan, or CTP meeting) that the training video will be focusing on.  The most basic explanation I can come up with for these meetings is that they're sort of like the adult military version of an IEP meeting-- representatives from each of the areas of a soldier's care get together with the soldier (and his or her family, if relevant) to touch base with each other, discuss where the soldier is now, set goals for the future, and determine how best to get to those goals.  I'd direct you to a neat explanation of this process on the Warrior Transition Battalion website but I can't find one (this is the best I could come up with), which is probably why they're making the video in the first place.  That would make sense.

The film crew is moving on to film some other families at a couple of other locations around the country, and then they've got to edit all that stuff and put it together, so don't expect the video out any time soon.  And it may be pretty dry viewing, as it is a training video.  And also we probably won't play a prominent role in it.  But I'll let you all know when it's released, as several of you have asked.  Just expect a performance (at least on our part) less of the Academy Award-winning caliber and more of the Razzie Award variety.

Anyway, Connor and I arrived sort of at the last minute because we couldn't find our car keys-- they'd been misplaced in the whirlwind of outside filming the day before.  I eventually found them in the garage, sitting on a large pile of wood for the deck we've been in the process of staining.  This was not exactly the first place I thought to look, so it took a while to locate them.  Then the meeting was upstairs, so the key to the stair lift had to be located so that we didn't have to use the alternate method of getting Connor up the stairs-- the BBG (Big Burly Guy) method.  But we managed to squeak in just before filming started.

After we were finished (Jeremy still had filming to do at the gym, but Connor and I got to leave after the meeting was over) the little guy and I headed straight over to occupational therapy, where Connor spent the first half of the session with a huge pouty face on.  It was hilarious-- he wanted to play with his toys, and he was obviously having a good time, but he was still put out about the events of the past two days so he was trying his very best to look like he was miserable.  So basically he'd play with his toys, and every once in a while you'd see a smile creeping up onto his face, but then he'd glance up, see me, and immediately the pouty look would reappear.  He couldn't keep up the charade any more after we pulled out the big guns-- a swing!  That kid loves swings.  So he lightened up and we got to hear a few of those delicious giggles. 

The lack of smiles might also be because the kid's feeling pretty tired right now.  We started his new seizure medication on Tuesday-- it's a drug called Lamictal-- and we haven't begun stepping back any of his other medications.  The side effects in these situations tend to be cumulative, and all three seizure medications he's now on can cause fatigue.  So Connor actually took a two hour nap today, which is all but unheard of in our household now.  I took a nap too-- the last couple of days have been surprisingly tiring. 

I don't think I'm cut out for a film career.

~Jessie

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In Which We Spend The Day On Camera

Well today was kind of surreal.

A week or two ago Jeremy sort of casually mentioned that the Warrior Transition Battalion with the army was making a training video about the process that wounded soldiers go through and would like to interview our family for it some time in the future.  We aren't normally comfortable with the idea of television interviews.  However since this was for the army and not the general public (though it will be on the WTB website eventually so I suppose the general public will have access to it), would be part of a bigger project not focused specifically on our family, and wasn't a mainstream media source, we decided after some discussion that we'd agree to do it.

And then later that week he let me know that they wanted to shoot a little bit of footage at our house.  I told him that would be okay, as long as he gave me some sort of advance notice so that I'd be able to get everything cleaned up.  In Jeremy's world, "advance notice" apparently means "48 hours," because he casually mentioned to me on Monday that they'd be coming today.  Keep in mind that I'd been gone for the whole weekend, and so the normal housekeeping I do then didn't happen, and also I was playing catch-up on all the things I'd gotten behind on during Connor's huge seizure crisis of the last couple weeks.  So I was a little frazzled, but since I thought the interview was going to be starting fairly late in the morning I figured I could still get things cleaned up in a reasonable fashion between Tuesday night and this morning.  Of course Tuesday evening he informs me that I have the time wrong, and they're actually planning on being here at 8:00am.

My reaction was not pretty.

So I got up at an obscenely early hour and cleaned the living room, kitchen and library area, which were the most likely places they'd be filming.  Then I hopped in the shower at the last minute and cleaned up just in time for the cars to start arriving.  I sort of expected this to be a fairly low-key affair, with maybe an interviewer and a camera man, and that we'd sit down and talk and then they'd edit out all the times we said "um" or forgot the question or something.  So I was a little bit thrown when Jeremy answered the door and there were twice that many people standing on our porch, who all introduced themselves and then promptly began hauling in a large amount of extremely sophisticated looking equipment (and apparently they were traveling light-- I have no idea how much equipment they normally carry, but I'm not sure it would have fit in my house).  They were all extremely nice, they all knew exactly what they were doing, and pretty soon our house was covered in lights on stands, this huge camera was set up, the sound guy was getting out his boom microphone and it was clearly evident that Jeremy and I had slightly underestimated the scale of this project.

It took almost an hour to set up the first (yes, the first) set for shooting-- this one in the living room for our individual interviews-- and the process involved rearranging a good portion of our furniture and a futile search of our house for an appropriate lamp to add to the set as background ambiance.  Apparently all of our lamps were either too short or too tall, and a lamp in the background was essential for shooting the scene-- something about softening up the stone background of our fireplace-- and that's how I found myself ringing the doorbell over at our neighbor's house with the producer and cinematographer both in tow to ask if I could borrow a medium size table lamp and also a potted plant.

See why today was kind of surreal?

So anyway, once the decided-upon lamp and potted plant were arranged and crisis was averted they made Jeremy wear makeup, which I thought was pretty hilarious.  I didn't actually get to see the application process though because I was in the back room trying to keep Connor quiet while Jer's interview was filmed.  Then it was my turn, and I guess I shouldn't have laughed at Jeremy.  As a result I had to change clothes twice because my outfit blended into the background too much, and then my hair decided to demonstrate how static electricity works and was all over the place so it ended up cemented to my head, and after that I needed more makeup applied and then my hair started going crazy again and then the pizza guy rang the doorbell in the middle of the shoot.  Based on how my interview went I suspect I may end up being related to (the aptly named) "Sir Not Appearing In This Film."

Anyway, after we were done in the living room they filmed Jeremy and I together in our kitchen drinking "coffee" (i.e. water in coffee cups) and discussing army meetings and classes and whatnot very seriously.  Or at least it started out seriously, but degraded after about seven or eight takes ruined by how we kept drinking out of our cups simultaneously.  Then we started making smart aleck comments to each other, because we can only restrain our natural sarcasm for so long, and Jeremy began doing that nervous habit where he stands on one foot and bangs the other against something, in this case the cabinets, and I kicked him in the shins.  I really feel for whoever ends up having to edit our footage.

The camera crew would have been perfectly justified in packing up and leaving after that as Jeremy and I were rapidly degrading as far as maturity level goes, but instead we did a shot in the kitchen (Jeremy and Connor in wheelchairs and me reading Fifteen Animals to Connor and thus signing "Bob" about eight billion times).  Then we moved back into the living room, where Jeremy and I sat on the couch with Connor and attempted to interest him in a book, but instead the little guy just spent the entire time staring directly at the lights and signing "Light!  Light!" over and over again.  I'm pretty sure he meant something like "Hey guys!  Why are you trying to make me look at this stupid book when there are all these people and giant lights and weird pieces of equipment in our house?  Don't you all notice anything?"  He had a point.

So after that I figured we would be done.  Wrong.  We were just done with the shots inside the house.

Twenty minutes later we found ourselves walking up and down the sidewalk in our neighborhood with the crew filming and all of our neighbors driving by trying to figure out what the heck was going on.  After that they made Jeremy don his bike gear (complete with the Bubble Butt Pants) and he was filmed putting on his helmet a few times, and then getting on his bike a few more times, and then riding up and down the street for about thirty minutes, with a short intermission to track down Loki, who had escaped the house and was found crouched underneath our cypress tree, and Cricket, who was thought to have escaped but was found curled up asleep on our bed. 

The crew packed up and left at about 3:30 in the afternoon.  Tomorrow morning we'll head down to post, where they're filming some more.  This training video stuff is hard work. 

In conclusion, that was without a doubt one of the weirdest days I've had so far this year.  Don't get me wrong; everyone was extremely nice and professional, they put my house back together pretty much how it was when they arrived, and they fed us pizza to boot so it certainly wasn't weird in a bad way.

But still.  Weird.

~Jess

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In Which I Think About The Past Year

This time last year, I was writing about how well Connor was growing, cleaning our house, and how the little guy was taking to his new tricycle.  I had no idea last year on this day that in less than twenty-four hours my life would be completely turned on its head.

Tomorrow marks one year to the day since Jeremy's Stryker hit an IED in Afghanistan.

I knew of course when Jeremy deployed that there was a risk he would be severely injured or wouldn't make it home.  But he had only been gone two months out of a twelve month deployment, and I certainly didn't have any premonitions when I woke up on August 10th a year ago that it would be the last day of normalcy in my world for a long, long time.

But then I don't really do premonitions, because I had absolutely no idea anything was different about my pregnancy either, up until the fourth month when high levels on a blood test sent us down a path that ultimately revealed the child we would be having was a very different child from the one I'd been picturing in my head.

Isn't that the way life is, though?  I've gotten to the point where I don't try to speculate any more on what I'll be doing in a year, or two years, or ten years down the road.  If you'd asked me as an eighteen year old what I'd be doing now I would have told you something about finishing up my PhD and embarking on a career as a college English professor.  If you'd asked me last year, I would have told you that I'd be newly reunited with my husband after his year of deployment, and we'd probably be enjoying a brief vacation before he was off to six months worth of training at a post we would be unable to accompany him to. 

The thought that we'd be doing what we're doing today instead was nowhere on my radar.  And while quite frankly a whole lot of the past year was really truly horrific, some wonderful, awesome, also-unexpected things also happened.  Like watching my unbelievably determined, driven, amazing husband get back on his feet for the first time.  And experiencing the incredible generosity and selfless kindness of literally hundreds of people we would otherwise never have met.  And getting the chance to start down the road to adoption years earlier than we'd expected.  Pretty wonderful stuff-- and none of it anything I'd ever dreamed about doing.

I'm hoping that this time next year we'll be gearing up for our journey to Thailand in order to bring home our new daughter, that Jeremy will be firmly ensconced in training for his new job in the military, and that Connor will be his usual happy, excited self with some more great accomplishments under his belt.  But I'm not going to bet on it, because frankly my track record as far as predictions go hasn't been so hot.  I suggest not hiring me to do your horoscope. 

Wherever we are on this day next year-- whether or not it's where we expected to end up-- I'm sure it will be some place worth going.

~Jess

Monday, August 9, 2010

In Which I Think About Sylvie

Today I went to the army post with Connor for a meeting, which ended up canceled.  Since we were already out there anyway, I stopped by the local Target.  I ended up walking out with a cute little cooking set and a Legos kit-- both for Sylvie.

Yes, I know we won't be traveling to get her for another year, and it's way, way too early to be buying toys for her.  But it gives me a way to feel connected to her; I can imagine her playing with her cooking set in the kitchen beside me while I cook on the stove.  I can picture Jeremy helping her build all sorts of fantastic Lego creations.  She'll be of an age when she gets home for imaginative play-- something she may never have had the chance to do in the orphanage-- and I can't wait to teach her all about it.

Actually, it's hard to wait in general.  We're in the process right now of getting all of our dossier paperwork together to send to Thailand, and there's no telling how long the process will take once all of that paperwork is over there.  While I understand that the many, many forms are all necessary and the process, while slow, is important to make sure that the adoption is in Sylvie's best interest, it's still frustrating to know that it will probably be more than a year before we travel to bring her home. 

You know how when you are expecting a baby, suddenly you start noticing babies everywhere?  Moms will know exactly what I'm talking about here.  Well, I'm doing that with five year old girls.  All of the sudden they're popping up everywhere, and while watching them interact with their parents, it's hard not to wonder what Sylvie is doing right now. There's a fourteen hour time difference between Thailand and Washington, so right about now she'd probably be eating lunch.  She doesn't know we exist yet, and she probably won't learn about us for at least another nine or ten months, but there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about her. 

So I'll put the toys I got for her today up in the large plastic bin I'm storing in the closet of what will be her room.  Every once in a while, when it seems like we'll never get through this process, I open the closet door.  I bring the bin down and look through the things in there: my old paper doll collection, a miniature wooden bed with clothespin posts, art supplies, a beloved Chinese baby doll that was mine as a girl.  And for just a little while, as I sit with the toys in my lap, I can forget how many months stretch out before we'll get the chance to meet our precious daughter. 

I can't wait to meet her.

~Jess

Sunday, August 8, 2010

In Which I Am Back Home

I'm back at the house!

Can you believe that was my first overnight-by-myself trip I've taken since Connor was born?  Only it wasn't really overnight-by-myself because I slept in the same hotel room as my parents.  But anyway, that's kind of crazy to think about.  Basically it means that I haven't slept completely by myself-- with no one else in house/building/whatever-- for four years.  Wow.

Anyway, the trip was a lot of fun, and I got to visit with a ton of my relatives: always a great thing.  What I did not end up doing was seeing much of La Jolla-- basically I got a brief tour of it and the surrounding San Diego area via car window while on our way to either the wedding, the reception, the hotel or the airport.  I have some lovely pictures on my cell phone taken out the car window of the various incredibly expensive cars people drive down there, which invariably ended up in the middle of whatever scenery I was trying to capture.  Seriously-- I have never seen so many Mercedes-Benz vehicles in my entire life. 

And now I can't figure out how to get them off my cell phone and on to the computer.  So you'll just have to imagine them.  Just picture a whole lot of very nice cars in front of palm trees and little pink or white adobe houses, and you'll pretty much have it.

Jeremy and Connor met me at the airport this evening, which was lovely.  Connor apparently did not even mention the fact that I was gone this weekend.  I guess he was having so much fun hanging out with Daddy that it didn't even register.  I'm glad he had a good time, though I am kind of sad that he didn't even miss me a little bit.  I wasn't gone very long, though, so that probably had something to do with it.  We went out for sushi, and the little guy behaved himself very well, and he went right to sleep when we got home.  Hopefully this is the herald of a good week!

And now I'm off to bed!  For some reason, sitting all those hours on a plane (I came back to Seattle via Albuquerque, which is what happens when you change your plans and buy tickets last minute) made me really tired.  You would think it would have the opposite effect. Anyway I had a great time, but it's good to be home!

~Jess

Saturday, August 7, 2010

In Which I Am Still Shocked I Made It On The Plane

I still can't believe they let me get on that plane.  Here's how things went:

Time of Flight: 7:30 a.m.
Time of Arrival to Airport: 6:30 a.m.

I got to the airport a scant hour before my flight was due to take off (and yes, I know that this is not recommended-- trust me when I say it was not our original plan). It was an early flight, and usually the airport isn't so bad first thing in the morning, but today for whatever reason the stars were not aligned in my favor because things were packed.  I mean the line for the curb check-in was probably about thirty people long.  I called my parents while standing in that line and told them that I was almost positive I was going to miss my flight, but I was going to try and make it anyway.

Time of Arrival at Security Gate: 6:50 a.m.

The Security Gate was insane.  The lines to get to the lines had lines.  That's how bad it was.  My flight had just begun boarding when I got in line, and I was positive there was no way I was getting on the plane.  My hope now was to make it to the desk in time to either change to a later flight or cancel my flight and get my money back, because I was pretty sure if it actually departed without me speaking to someone that would be a no-go.

Time Finished With Security: 7:20 a.m.

My laptop (taken out of its case for the security check) in one hand and my laptop case in the other, I sprinted down the corridor towards my gate.  Luckily it was one relatively close to the security.  I skidded to a stop in front of it and saw, of course, that the sign had already been taken down. 

"I figured I was too late for the San Diego flight," I said in a conversational (albeit rather breathless, due to my earlier sprinting) tone to the flight attendant. 

"That's the gate for the other airlines," she said, pointing across the corridor.  I turned around and dashed over to the (identically numbered) gate, where the attendant was just taking down the sign for my plane. 

"Darn it," I said.  "I was hoping I'd make it."

"Well, the door is still open, so if you're already checked in go for it," she said to my complete and utter shock.  I hurried over to the loading area, where the flight attendant was just reaching for the button to close the door.  I handed her my boarding pass.

And they let me on the plane!

Time of my arrival on the plane: 7:24 a.m.
Time of take off: 7:30 a.m.

I swear I lead a charmed life.

So I made it to La Jolla after all, and incredibly my bag made it there too, and despite all odds I ended up getting to go to the wedding.  It was a fantastic wedding, of course, and I bawled like I usually do at weddings and then made a total idiot out of myself on the dance floor at the reception.  And tomorrow morning I'll fly back to Seattle, via a lovely connection in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  What can I say?  They were last minute tickets.  But I plan on getting to the airport a little earlier this time.

I'm not tempting fate twice.

~Jess

Friday, August 6, 2010

In Which I Cop Out Of Writing You A Good Blog Post

I don't have a whole lot to say about today, other than it was yet another good day for Connor.  I'm being lazy because I still have to finish packing, and my plane leaves at 7:30 in the morning, meaning that we have to be at the airport a heck of a lot earlier than that.

So instead of telling you all about what we did today, I'm going to quote for you from the best of the Engrish spam I've gotten for the blog this week.  You know I secretly collect these things, right?  Because you totally come to this blog to read about spam.  Anyway, here you go.  I've deleted the actual product name and any links, of course, because I don't want to reward this sort of thing, but I can't help but want to share this one, because it is pretty awesome.

People from all during the world comprise acne or ... People from all during the world comprise acne or shell blemishes. This affects men, women, and adolescents. The article offers tips, genius solutions, and a great performing offshoot (Product Name Here).
It's correct that having pimples and blemishes on your standing can be embarrassing. Acne lowers your faith level and this can move your school, lodgings, and control life. You perceive like everyone is looking at your eruption or blemish.


You fondle objective like staying digs!

Acne is known as pimples, lumps, and plugged pores that become visible on the cope with, neck, false impression, shoulders and coffer areas.  There is not undivided main fact that causes acne and it is stimulated during hormones, insistence, nubility, food, and other factors.  The ra can also dreary old hat the outer layer of your pellicle encouraging your sebaceous glands to start producing more oil.  No ditty is immune to excoriate blemishes when the conditions are there.  Medicament has produced divers products to succour rid your acne. They are also degree a only one expected remedies.


Here are some everyday fundamental solutions that may reduce your acne.  Basic you need to start eating haler and a stop to eating foods loaded with sugars, fats, and oils.  Fried bread commitment not solitary locate on the pounds but also may record your acne worse.  Drinking a lot of water will also help. The bath-water will blush the toxins that are causing the acne in sight of your body.  You  you should drink at least 24 ounces per day.


Another clarification is to pal apricot vitality on your pretence in behalf of at least 10 minutes a day. This normal effect on cure unambiguous your incrustation of pimples.


Toothpaste is also a cyclopean way to fall rid of shell blemishes. You should hammer away the toothpaste into the effected areas and leave it atop of night. Then sweep is cancelled in the morning.
If the natural mixing does not post there are a ton of products on the market.


Inseparable spin-off that seems to allude to b support in the sky the tea is (Insert Product Name Here).  The (Insert Product Name Here) care products put up for sale a three degree modus operandi to lustrous your skin.  It is nearby online or at your village retail store. There are varied celebrities who vouchsafe nearby the product.  (Product Name) Deciphering is also more low-cost compared to other less imaginative products.



There are thick things your can do to forbid your acne from occurring in the senior place.  In perpetuity be docile with your face. Still water that is too steaming or stone-cold can trigger your sebaceous glands to through yield oil and clog up your skin.  You should leave your face at least twice a lifetime to keep the bacteria levels to a minimum.  Do not match your face. The hands bear the most bacteria and you do not to place the bacteria here.  You should also move your hands innumerable times a day. This will supporter obey the bacteria levels not up to par in case you drink your face.  As a replacement for women who function makeup sport grease sovereign or hypo-allergenic makeup by reason of susceptible skin.


Men should make use of antiseptic products representing razor long that are designed to empty remove the pores and moisturize the skin.

To conclude men, women, and adolescents can suffer from assurance destroying acne and shell blemishes. There are common remedies and a inordinate effect called (Insert Product Name Here) that can remarkably help keep your acne to a minimum. There are also things you can do to avoid acne. Conquest your acne and face the mankind again! 
 

That's right.  Acne is caused by nubility and makes you lose your faith.  To get rid of it, drink large quantities of bathwater and hammer toothpaste into your face.  Sounds like a good plan to me!
 
I will blog tomorrow (my laptop is coming with me), so expect a return to your regularly scheduled programming, albeit sans Connor, then.  In the meantime, make sure not to match your face!
 
~Jess
 
Blog Directory