Sunday, February 27, 2011

In Which I Didn't Blog Because I Was Really Tired But There Are No Emergencies Or Anything And Also The Bout Was Awesome

Don't worry!

No one has died, no one is in the hospital, I did not break all my arms and legs at the bout (which I wasn't skating in anyway) and there have been no major disasters.  I just got home at one thirty in the morning last night.  And as much as I love all of you, it's probably for the best that I did not blog because I'm incapable of coming up with coherent sentences that late at night-- let alone spell things correctly.  My blog would have read something like: "Bout was gud.  I tiered tyered sleepy.  The end."  I am not really a late-night sort of person.

Of course Connor had insomnia (Ativan, how I love thee!) and stayed up until three or so in the morning, so I probably could have blogged anyway.  But it wouldn't have been pretty.

The bout was amazing, by the way.  It sold out, which was pretty awesome.  I'm not sure just yet how many people were there, but we were actually having to turn people away at the door-- it was that crowded!  The bout was extremely close, but in the end my team pulled it off by one point.  Talk about a nail biter!  The bout just before ours (it was a doubleheader) also ended up being a neck-and-neck game, so I think the crowd got a really good show.  I need to start making Connor a little vampire outfit so he can cheer for me on the sidelines if he goes to the next one (he stayed home with our respite care worker).  Anyone know how to make one of those Dracula style capes?  I bet he'd love to chew on the collar.

The little guy is still seizing, I'm sad to say.  He's not able to stay off of the Ativan for more than a day before he starts having seizures again and we have to put him back on it, which needless to say is not good.  The Ativan is probably the only thing keeping us out of the hospital right now.  We still haven't heard back from our neurologist, so needless to say I'll be calling the nurse line tomorrow.  Again.  Hopefully we'll have a game plan soon, because I'd like my kid to sleep every once in a while!  Oh, and also quit having so many seizures.  That would be good.

Friday, February 25, 2011

In Which Connor Shows Off His Drumming Skills

I had respite care for a few hours today, which was lovely.  I spent them making a 1950's style television out of paper mache.  Because, you know.  Derby.  Yeah.

Anyway, thanks to a combination of President's Day and snow days, Connor only had school one day this week.  At least he was out for some reason other than being sick or seizing, but I'm hoping he'll spend some more time in next week!  The kid's going to forget what his classroom looks like if he keeps this up.  However currently it's 17 degrees outside, and even though it's supposed to warm up a little tomorrow we've been told to expect more snow on Sunday.  Spring, hurry up already.  I'm ready for some sun!

So Connor spent a good portion of his respite care time banging on his mixing bowl again, which I captured here so that you too can share in the wonderful, glorious musical that my life has become.  Just play this video over and over for about an hour straight and you'll get the general idea of what my house sounded like today.  Also playing the drums is Very Serious Business.

Joanna will be coming over again tomorrow, because that night is our first home roller derby bout, which I'm super excited about.  I'm not playing in this particular one (we have twenty team members and are only allowed fourteen on each bout roster, which means that six people sit out each game) but you'll still see me out there cheering the Trampires on and having a blast!  So if you're in the area you should totally come. 

Seriously-- come.  It will be awesome, I swear.

In other news, I am extremely excited to announce that I finally managed to make Connor an appointment for a sedated brain MRI and a hearing test (BAER).  I've been working on getting this thing scheduled since November, which is absolutely ridiculous.  If I'd wanted to have the procedures done separately I don't think there would have been a problem, but I wanted them done at the same time so Connor would only have to be sedated once, and I wanted them done at a Children's hospital because the little guy is a hard kid to find a vein on (and also tough to intubate if that's necessary, though it probably won't be for these procedures).  But I stuck to my guns and eventually won out despite multiple issues with referrals, wrong fax numbers, coding errors etc. and so the appointment is on the calender!  It's in April, but hey-- I'll take what I can get.

And trust me, we'll be going to that thing no matter what the weather is outside.  I don't care if I have to drag Connor's wheelchair through twenty feet of snow on the ground-- I'm not rescheduling.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

In Which I Have An Odd Day

Angry Face!
 Roller derby makes me do very strange things.

So today I called up the local beauty school and asked them to give me a black eye.  And also to make me look sort of punk rock and hot, because I had a photo shoot to go to and I needed to look sexy and sort of beat up.  After they determined that this was not, in fact, some sort of joke they jumped all over it; apparently beauty schools don't get a lot of requests for costume makeup and I was a "valuable learning experience" or something.  Plus I told them they could do whatever they wanted, and I've found as a general rule that stylists freak out when you tell them that because they don't get free rein very often.  And then usually awesome things happen, because let's face it-- the stylists know what they're good at.

Just like I know what I'm not good at.  And that would be hair and makeup. 

I don't really do much with either, to tell you the truth.  On any given day I run a brush through my hair and then if I have somewhere to be I'll put on lip gloss, concealer and maybe a little mascara.  Any attempts I make at using, say, black eyeliner generally look like they've been drawn on by a toddler on a sugar high.  I suppose I could practice, but I'm lazy and also I don't really have anything to wear black eyeliner to outside of the occasional derby-related photo shoot.  So I like going to the beauty school, as not only will my hair and makeup look eight hundred times better than if I do it but also they will enjoy the whole process about eight hundred times more than I will.  Also beauty schools are really cheap.  I like that part too.

Anyway, so the only time they could get me in was around one in the afternoon, and the shoot wasn't until seven.  I had to go ahead and get dressed up in my derby outfit because I'm not good at getting dressed without totally screwing up my hair and makeup.  Keep in mind that there was still snow on the ground and I was pushing around Connor's wheelchair to boot.  I'm not sure people knew quite what to make of me--  I certainly got some interesting looks as I was driving home.

So after I had my hair and makeup done I stopped for coffee briefly and then hid in my house until it was time to leave for the shoot.  This was so my neighbors wouldn't think that I was having some serious domestic issues and possibly also taking up a new profession.  I must admit I was slightly tempted to go walk around in the mall or something just to see how people would react, but I restrained myself.  Connor has enough going on without his mom horribly embarrassing him, and it's not like people don't stare at us at the mall all the time anyway so it wouldn't really be anything new.

The little guy was delighted with the whole thing, though.  He was extremely good during my hair and makeup appointments, probably because he approved of their lighting.  You know how this kid is about lighting.  I learned today that he's also a fan of bright red lipstick, because once I got home I had to keep reapplying it after he repeatedly tried to stick his fingers in my mouth.  And then he smeared his fingers all over his face.  I guess he wanted a makeover too.

Then once Jeremy got home I went to the shoot and spent a whole lot of time either fake-fighting other girls or showing off my Angry Face.  Apparently I have a good Angry Face, as demonstrated in the picture above.  Who knew?  I just used the face I make when I've spent over forty minutes on hold with a doctor's office.  Evidently it's effective.

So that was my very odd day.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In Which It's Snowing

I was planning on mowing my lawn today, but then it started snowing so I had to change my plans.  I think the weather always knows when I've got yard work on my schedule.  Not that I would have been able to mow anyway, as there was no way I could park Connor outside while I did it.  He was too busy sleeping.

Yes, I attempted to get the kid up around eight or so, but he was so miserable and tired that I finally put him back down.  He immediately fell back asleep and was out until past eleven in the morning.  He was supposed to have occupational therapy this morning, but we ended up canceling due to the fact that my child was comatose, and also that right before we were supposed to leave it started snowing so hard you couldn't really see anything. 

So we holed up for the day instead, and spent our time alternating between snuggling by the fireplace and-- once Connor finally decided to wake up-- banging on that mixing bowl.  I'm beginning to think I'm just going to need to get the little guy his own personal mixing bowl, because I'm not sure I'm ever going to get mine back.  He needed big breaks in between drumming sessions though, because he was still really tired.  I think he's probably in the middle of a run of seizures and while the Ativan is keeping them under control it's still wiping him out for whatever reason. 

The snow is supposed to slow down; the weatherman predicts one or two more inches tonight.  We'll see whether or not he actually has school tomorrow.  I'm hoping he'll be able to go, but it's pretty likely they'll cancel if the snow sticks to the ground.  Snowy weather is not something they have a whole lot of around here.  I don't really mind driving in it because I'm from Texas, and Texans are born with an overinflated opinion of their driving ability in bad weather.  Especially if they have four-wheel drive.  Four-wheel drive solves all problems.

We'll just have to see!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In Which Connor Has A New Obsession

Connor and I spent a good two hours or so today playing with his latest obsession.

Every once in a while the kid fixates on an activity and that's all he wants to do for days on end.  Usually this happens to be a very loud, repetitive, annoying activity.  In this case I don't mind too much because this particular loud, repetitive and annoying activity involves grasping an object-- something that is very difficult for the little guy to do.  So at least he's building some good life skills while he's torturing my eardrums.

He's currently fascinated with the old stand-by: the mixing bowl and the wooden spoon.

Not only will Connor actually hold the spoon, which is an event in itself, but he'll actually reach out and try to grab the spoon-- something that's pretty much never happened with any other toy.  I usually set him up in the kitchen with this combination while I'm cooking, so it's a toy he's familiar with.  In the past he normally just knocks the spoon and the bowl onto the floor or refuses to touch either one.  Now that he's settled on drumming on the back of the bowl as his latest obsession, he actually gets mad when he drops the spoon on the floor and anxiously asks for it back!  Trust me when I say that the odds of my child voluntarily asking for something he knows I'm going to make him hold in his hand are about the equivalent of the odds of Chuck Norris announcing he's a conscientious objector.  So needless to say I was a wee bit surprised when Connor started begging for more drumming time.  

So now in my house the air is constantly filled with the sound of extremely loud, metallic clanging mingled with Connor's gurgling laugh.  The cats are not nearly as enamored with the drumming as the little guy is; they've been hiding under the bed most of the day.  We'll see how long this particular obsession lasts-- I'm hoping it will be a while.  I'd like the little guy to get the practice in, and honestly the drumming is much less annoying than most of his battery-powered toys anyway. 

And heck, Connor's got a pretty good sense of rhythm.  Maybe I have a percussionist on my hands!

Monday, February 21, 2011

In Which Connor Has A Great Time With His Daddy

So apparently the boys had a nice, relaxing time while I was gone.  I don't think they even left the house except for a quick grocery run-- pretty sure they spent a good portion of the weekend with Connor snuggled up to Jer while he played World of Warcraft.  I'm not entirely sure Connor even noticed I was missing because he was so thrilled with all the time he got to spend with his daddy.  Guess who the favorite parent is around here?  I'll give you a hint-- it's not me.  I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that it's always Mommy who takes him to all of those appointments where they give him shots and draw blood and whatnot.  Mommies are bad about that kind of thing.

Connor did have a seizure Sunday and then another one today, so he's back on the Ativan.  I'm hoping we'll hear from the neurologist tomorrow about what exactly the game plan is going to be.  The little guy was in pretty good spirits today, but it was obvious the seizures are starting to take their toll on his body and he got exhausted in play pretty quickly.  I don't like the fact that these waves of seizures seem to be getting closer and closer together.  Obviously something needs to change.

Jeremy had the day off today so we got the chance to spend some quality time together, which was lovely.  Between his work schedule and my roller derby practices we're not seeing a whole lot of each other right now, so it was pretty nice to have a good chunk of quality time to spend with him.  And of course I had to spend some time making sure that Connor hadn't completely forgotten about me or anything, so he and I spent a few quality hours playing all sorts of fun games, like Superman and that one where you lift your kid way up over your head.  I'm pretty sure every parent plays that game.  It was one heck of an arm workout for me, but Connor loved it and we played it for quite a while.  Then he asked to go back to his daddy.



Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Which I Have My Very First Roller Derby Bout Ever And It Is Awesome

Tentacles Of Awesomeness!
 I'm home!

The whole thing was an absolute blast from start to finish.  That's actually the first time I've been on a trip without Jer and Connor except to visit family since the little guy was born!  That's kind of crazy if you think about it. 

My friend Judy and I hit the road early in the afternoon on Friday, and we drove the five hours to Spokane, enjoying the beautiful mountain views along the way.  Then we spent another hour driving around in Spokane completely lost, as they evidently don't believe in street signs or roadway lighting over there.  They also have an excessive number of one-way streets that all seemed to be going in the exact opposite direction of wherever we wanted to go to.  Spokane is a very contrary town-- you can tell by the way its name is pronounced.  Even though it very obviously should be pronounced "spo-cane," the residents insist on pronouncing it as "spo-can."  This makes no sense.  Of course I live in a town called Puyallup (that's pew-wall-up) so I probably shouldn't be one to talk. 

Anyway, this sort of set the trend for the weekend because for the next two days Judy and I spent an average of forty minutes tooling around in the car being completely lost every time we tried to go somewhere in Spokane.  We decided there was a conspiracy and someone was moving buildings on us every time we drove past them or something. 

The town might be crazy, but the people were awesome.  One of the Lilac City derby girls and her husband were gracious enough to put us up in their gorgeous house, where Judy and I-- who had somehow managed to be the first to make it there even with our hour scenic tour of all the one-way streets in Spokane-- immediately claimed the cushy room with the double bed.  We made everyone else sleep on the floor, because we are mean like that.  It was a very comfy bed, too. 

We spent the first half of Saturday walking around downtown Spokane and sightseeing.  A giant Radio Flyer wagon playground, some very cool sculptures, and a number of really neat little stores (like this amazing paper flower store!) went a long way towards redeeming the town in our eyes.  Then we dropped by the house, grabbed our gear and were off to a team luncheon.  From there it was time to go to the convention center and then it was bout time!

The bout took place in one of the giant exhibit halls of the convention center, and the place was packed.  I'm not sure what the final count for the bout was, but I heard afterwards that over 1,000 enthusiastic derby fans came to watch!  I thought that I was going to be really nervous, but honestly once I strapped on my skates the adrenaline took over and I just felt eager to get out on the floor.  Plus I was wearing some amazing tentacles on my helmet for our introduction that one of my teammates bought me in celebration of my first bout.  You can't be nervous when you have six-inch long tentacles sticking out of your helmet-- it's a rule.  I felt a big thrill when I heard the announcer call out: "Number 20K-- Gita Kraken!" for the very first time and I skated out for my inaugural lap around the track. 

The game started off fast-paced and full of action, and it didn't slow down until the last whistle blast!  The crowd kept us pumped and I got to see some amazing skating from both my team (the Trampires) and the Lilac City Roller Girls All Star team.  Girls flew off the track all over the place, the penalty box stayed busy and it seemed like the refs could hardly keep up with the hard-hitting action!  It ended up being a real nail-biter, but in the end we lost by two points-- 131 to 133.  In the world of derby, where games are often won by 100 points or more, this is an extremely close game.  The entire crowd ended up on its feet screaming for the entire last jam-- it was intense. 

I feel so privileged to be part of such an incredible team; I'm lucky to have the chance to skate with so many amazingly talented ladies.  I still have a lot to learn, and it makes me want to practice twice as hard so next time I can do a better job of helping out my teammates.  But all in all it was an amazing first bout, I had an absolute blast and I'm so glad that I got the chance to skate! 

After that we were off to the afterparty!  Derby is unusual among sports in that normally after a bout both teams visit a local bar where they hang out and celebrate with the fans and each other.  This is yet another new life experience that derby is introducing me to-- I haven't spent a whole lot of time in bars because I don't really drink so I wasn't sure what to expect-- but once Judy and I managed to find the place I grabbed my Shirley Temple and got down to the business of having a ridiculous good time!  And man, do derby girls know how to party.  The evening included, among other things, an attempted human pyramid, a hula hoop, crazy dancing, a mobile pasties vendor (yes, those kind of pasties), a gifted tomato, a flogger, Sharpie pen butt autographs, and an Ultimate Headstand Challenge. 

It was awesome to get the chance to talk with so many cool fans and with the Lilac City women (and of course to hang out with my fantastic team, who may not have won the bout but who definitely won the afterparty), and I stayed out way past my normal bed time.  I ended the evening back at our gracious hosts' house in what was perhaps the Most Crowded Hot Tub Known To Mankind.  I'm pretty sure the thing was only half full of water by the time we got out in the wee hours of the morning and dragged ourselves into bed.  All in all it was an amazing night!

Finally this morning Judy and I woke up and spent a leisurely thirty minutes driving around Spokane (lost, of course) before we managed to park and find a place to eat.  Then we took the rest of the day to drive back to the Tacoma area, stopping for a lovely picnic lunch in Moses Lake and spending a couple of hours stretching our legs in this really neat antique mall just before the pass.  I dropped her off and then made it back to the house at about 8:30 in the evening.  Whew!

So that was my incredible weekend!


Saturday, February 19, 2011

In Which I Am Very,VERY Tired But Had A Great Time

The bout was awesome and I had a blast!  But it's way, WAY too late at night for me to write about it and be coherent.  So I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.  Sorry!


Friday, February 18, 2011

In Which I Am In Spokane!

I'm in Spokane!

A friend and I made the five hour drive up, and we arrived a couple of hours ago.  So far we've discovered that Spokane, despite being a town with a population of 195,000 some-odd people, has approximately two gas stations.  Also they appear to believe both street lights and signs are optional.  Fun times.

We're staying in the basement of another derby girl here, and so I brought my sleeping bag and an extra blanket because I was figuring it would be a, you know, basement.  But instead it's a completely finished basement with a full bedroom and a bathroom and two televisions and there's not a trace of cobwebs or cinder block walls or anything. 

So tomorrow will be my very first bout ever, and I'm pretty darn excited about it!  I'm not sure I'll get to blog tomorrow, but I'll do my very best to let you know how it goes and whether or not I broke anything essential.  I'm going to try and keep it to minor extremities. 

Wish me luck!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

In Which I Have A Stressful Day And Share A Guilty Pleasure

So I spent about eight billion years on the phone today trying to coordinate some more of Connor's various appointments and not having a whole lot of success.  This is one of the things about parenting a child with special needs that you don't read a whole lot about-- the boring, frustrating hours spent on the phone with the insurance company, hospital referral customer service, appointment lines, doctors' receptionists, etc. trying to make sure your child gets the care that allows them to continue to do some slightly important things, like living.  I coordinate Connor's care with ten different specialists spread out over four different hospitals, and believe me when I say that it's a full time job.  For the most part I've got navigating the system down to a science, so I get really frustrated when I have trouble scheduling something that I know shouldn't be that difficult.  Today was one of those days, and after eating my weight in chocolate I was still feeling ticked.  So I had to break out one of my shameful, secret indulgences.  I can't believe I'm actually telling you people this.  Ready?

Sometimes I read romance novels.

I know!  Can you believe it?  I can't bear to put them on the shelves with my beloved Anna Karenina and Les Miserables, so they're stashed in a corner where I hope no one will ever notice them.  This is because I don't just read romance novels.  I read bad romance novels.

Yes, I eagerly scour the "F" reviews of websites like Smart Bitches, Trashy Books for reading material.  And then I savor every minute of horrible, purple prose.  It's simply impossible to be grumpy when you're not only eating your weight in chocolate, but you're doing it while reading a book entitled Pregnesia.  And yes, that book is every bit as horribly awesome as it sounds.

My friend Julia and I have gotten into a bit of a competition over the last few months to see who can find the worse romance novel ever.  She informed me today that she's sending me a new one, and I can't wait until it gets here.  And when it comes, I'll shut myself in the house and spend a couple of hours laughing so hard that snot comes out my nose. 

I hide when I read these books.  This isn't only because it's kind of bad etiquette to have snot coming out of your nose in public, it's also because of this one time I was sitting in a coffee shop reading The Playboy Sheik's Virgin Stable Girl and I kept breaking out in uncontrollable fits of giggles, and then the woman at the table next to me leaned over and asked me what was so funny.  So I told her that the book I was reading was so hilariously bad that I couldn't help myself, and she peered over my shoulder at the title, gave me a deeply wounded look and informed me that she was a Huge Romance Fan and this was one of her Most Favorite Books and it was a Passionate Love Story and certainly not a laughing matter.  Whoops.  I felt kind of like I'd kicked somebody's puppy or something.

So now I hide and giggle uncontrollably over my books in the house where no one can see me. 


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In Which Nothing Much Happens

I went out with a few of the girls after derby tonight, so expect this to be a short blog post, as I am tired and ready for bed! 

Not that it was going to be a long blog post anyway-- I have absolutely nothing to report.  Connor didn't have any seizures (thankfully), the neurologist is conferring with some of his colleagues over the best treatment plan for the little guy so there's no news on that front, and we haven't received the results of the renal ultrasound yet.  We went to therapy in the morning, stopped by the store, and came home. 

So that was our day, and it was a blessed boring reprieve in an otherwise crazy week!  On Friday I leave for my first roller derby bout ever-- it's in Spokane, which is about five hours from my house.  We'll be playing the Lilac City Roller Girl's All Star team, so it should be a really great bout!  I'm really hoping to have a plan in place as far as Connor's seizure treatment goes before I leave, but we'll just have to see.  Jer's perfectly capable of holding down the fort and can manage Connor's care just as well as I can, but I'd like to be able to concentrate all of my attention on playing a good clean bout instead of reserving a little corner for worrying about my kid being hospitalized or something while I'm gone. 

So, um, that's all I've got.  Yep.  Boring.  Thank goodness.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In Which Jeremy Saves The Day

Today is normally one of the major highlights of the year for me-- after Christmas and Easter it's probably my favorite holiday.

That's right-- February 15th is Half-Price Chocolate Day.

Normally I get up early, ready to hit the stores and buy amounts of chocolate that are probably illegal in at least five states at 50, 70 or even 90% off.  Then I claim I'm going to store them in my freezer and eat them over several months, but in fact I spend the next week in my house, hiding in a closet and gorging until I'm completely surrounded by wrappers and emptied heart-shaped boxes.  Every once in a while Jeremy opens the door really quickly and throws some water bottles in there to make sure I don't get dehydrated and to check that I'm still alive.  I usually hiss at him and clutch my remaining chocolate supply to my chest, and I think my eyes probably glow red by that point too.  What can I say?  Chocolate does that sort of thing to me.

Then eventually I run out of my supply and-- provided my atrophied limbs still work-- I squeeze myself out sideways through the door and waddle back out into the world, ready to take on another crazy year or, judging by the amount of weight I've gained, possibly to hibernate through the rest of the winter. 

How could you not love Half-Price Chocolate Day?  It's seriously the best holiday ever-- except for those really weird people who don't like chocolate, I guess.  You know who you are.  And yes, I am totally judging you for this.  I highly suspect you are all actually robots or something and you don't have taste buds.

Anyway, today my plan was to drop Connor off at school and immediately run to the mall, where I would sprint from store to store in a rabid, frothy whirlwind of chocolate buying until I either ran out of money or spontaneously combusted from the excitement: whichever came first.  Unfortunately Connor had his own plans, and about a minute and a half into his school day he had a big seizure and then promptly fell asleep.  So I took him home, where he proceeded to snooze for the next four hours.  I spent this time alternating between gnashing my teeth and wailing, thinking about how all the prime chocolate was probably gone by now, and checking my Facebook page.  Connor slept until it was time to leave for his renal ultrasound.  He woke up in a much better mood, which was good.  At least one of us was happy.

He was relatively cooperative for that appointment.  Perhaps a little too cooperative.  The technician spent some time looking at and measuring his kidney, and then she moved on to his bladder.  I sat there holding Connor in position and keeping up a constant distracting chatter to the little guy about the most natural topic that came to mind-- the state of his bodily functions.

"Connor," I said, pointing at the screen,"It looks like you need to go pee pee!"
"Pee pee?" Connor signed.  "Yes!"  And then he proceeded to demonstrate.


Anyway, by the time we got out of the ultrasound and dropped some paperwork by the developmental clinic it was time to sit for a while in rush hour traffic, and then Connor had to eat, and then before I knew it the whole day had flown by and I had missed Half-Price Chocolate Day.  This is a tragedy on an epic scale, people.  Tomorrow I can still go down to the store, but by then they'll be down to the sad, suspect chocolate that nobody actually wants-- the kind where you're not sure if it's actually chocolate or if it's a lump of wallpaper paste painted brown. 

And then I would have had to wait a whole year, a whole entire year for the ridiculously delicious high quality chocolate to be on sale again at a price that wouldn't involve me taking out a second mortgage on the house.    How do you think I keep my outlook on life so cheery?  It's because I'm on a constant sugar high.  Now my cupboard was bare and I was going to have to wait for the Girl Scout Cookies to come in before I had anything chocolately in the house, which could take at least a week.  A week with no chocolate?  My whole mental state was on the verge of collapse.

Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but I'm sure you would agree I was at least very, very sad.

Then Jeremy walked in the door, and he'd happened to stop by the commissary.  Guess what he brought me?  A whole bunch of chocolate!  And the good stuff too-- apparently the commissary wasn't as picked over as the civilian stores usually are by the end of the day.  Do I have the best husband ever, or what?

So that's the story of how my husband saved Half-Price Chocolate Day.  

For the next week or so if anyone needs me, I'll be in the hallway closet.  Feel free to stop by and chuck a water bottle at me from the doorway if you'd like; just don't ask me to share my bounty of chocolate goodness when I'm in the midst of my sugary frenzy. 

That's how truffle-related homicides occur.


Monday, February 14, 2011

In Which Connor Needs A Tune Up

This week just keeps getting better.

So we got the results of Connor's spinal and hip x-rays back today.  Apparently Connor has about a 20 degree curve on average, with the most affected part at a 33 degree curve.  This is considered a significant degree of scoliosis and that means treatment will likely be necessary.  As a result, we now have an appointment to see the orthopedic specialist in the beginning of March.  My guess just from the bit of homework I've done is that we'll be looking at bracing options and not at surgery right now, but I guess we'll see when we get there.

While we're there we'll also be talking about Connor's hips.  Apparently his right femur is "uncapping" when he moves it through rotation.  I'm not entirely sure what this means, but I think the gist of it is that his hip socket is shallow on that side and so his femur is coming partially out of the joint.  This explains why Connor doesn't ever want to put all of his weight on that leg.  I have no idea what the solution will be for this or if surgery will be on the table; we'll just have to see what the doctor has to say at that appointment, which I'm sure will be tremendous amounts of fun.

Oh, and did I mention he was also apparently chock full of poop?  I guess the Ativan has been stopping him up more than we realized.  We were instructed to use a massive dose of laxatives on his today.  You can imagine the fun that's been going on over here as a result.  I don't think I'll be running a whole lot of errands with the little guy in tow over the next couple of days.

We will be forced to venture out tomorrow though, because we have a renal ultrasound.  This is where they'll be taking a look at Connor's one remaining kidney.  And that sucker better be working great if it knows what's good for it, because I've reached my Malfunctioning Body Parts quota of the week and if it's acting up too I might have to, um, give it a strong lecture or something.  I'm not really sure what an appropriate threat for a misbehaving kidney would be, and besides I'm not very good at being menacing anyway so the point is probably moot.



Sunday, February 13, 2011

In Which Connor Gets A Samson Haircut

So once again it was time for Connor to get a haircut, and thus instantly grow about three inches taller and age approximately 278 years. 

My child, for those of you who don't know, is kind of like the biblical Samson except instead of storing all of his strength in his hair he stores all of his babyhood.  Whenever you chop off his hair, all of that babyhood leaks out and he instantly turns into a much older boy.  Then I spend the rest of the day looking for a brick of the appropriate size to tie to his head so he'll slow down and stay my little boy a while longer-- preferably forever. 

Can you believe he'll be five in April?  I wouldn't believe it myself except we cut his hair today and so now he looks like he's at least two hundred and ten. 

He might have inherited this trait from me, because any time Connor gets a haircut I feel about ten years older too.  This is because I spend the entire haircut watching whichever poor stylist we've tricked into trying this time narrowly miss chopping off my son's ears on at least six or seven occasions.  Connor sits in my lap and the poor woman (or this time, man) has to dance around us, trying to cut the little guy's hair as evenly as possibly while Connor whips his head back and forth until I am forced to put my son in a headlock to prevent stab wounds. 

Luckily Connor thinks headlocks are funny.

Jeremy always offers to get the clippers and simply buzz all the little guy's hair off, but I don't want to do that because Connor has gorgeous hair-- the kind of natural platinum blond that many, many girls would probably kill somebody for.  Also thanks to his soft spots closing early he has kind of a wonky shaped head.  So I always tell Jer know and take him to a professional instead. 

Given the challenge we present I am always amazed at just how well Connor's haircuts turn out, and also by the fact that no one is bleeding at the end of them.  We give the poor hair stylist a big tip-- trust me when I say that they've earned it. 

I have absolutely no idea what we're going to do once Connor is too big to sit on my lap, but I guess we'll figure that out later!  Hopefully that's a few years (and hair cuts) away.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

In Which We Start Over Again And Connor Teaches Me A Lesson

 My scruffy haired little boy had a good day today.
He definitely needs a haircut, though!  So that's probably on our list for tomorrow.  Since we had rainy weather today he and I spent some quality indoor time together this morning; we read stories, played in his swing and in the bathtub, made music together, and had some cuddly time too.  Then he snuggled down, signed "Mommy" and grabbed my hand.  He took a little nap in his swing while I sang old family songs and gently rocked him. 

If I loved this kid any more I think it would kill me.

He's on Ativan again, which is unfortunate.  He didn't have any seizures today, but it seems like lately that's been the exception and not the norm.

One of the things we discovered at the clinic yesterday is that he's probably not been having febrile seizures.  Connor's autonomic nervous system is having such a difficult time right now that we can't rely on any auxiliary (i.e. forehead, armpit or ear) temperatures anymore.  They don't match up with his internal temperature.  So while we might get a reading of over 100 degrees on his forehead and under his arms, a rectal temperature will come out his normal 97.4 degrees (he runs cool). 

What that means is that instead of febrile seizures, Connor is probably having cluster seizures and the "fevers" we've been seeing are a result of his autonomic nervous system going haywire.  

So that leaves us with two conclusions.  The first is that since Connor won't tolerate an oral thermometer, from now on we have to take his temperature rectally.  Glorious.  The second conclusion is that once again, Connor's seizures are uncontrolled and we'll need to start looking at an adjustment of treatment. 

Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that Connor has started twitching slightly every few minutes.  I hadn't even noticed because the onset of this was so gradual, but the doctors pointed it out.  Though we'd have to do another EEG to be sure, they think that his brain is probably misfiring every couple of minutes and so he's having what they term "microseizures."  These are new and suggest that the medication's effectiveness is continuing to deteriorate.  Needless to say I'm sad and worried about this turn of events.  

I have confidence that someday-- hopefully soon-- we'll figure out the right course of treatment and Connor will be able to enjoy life seizure free.  And I take a lesson in patience and optimism every day from my son, who takes his seizures in stride and only gets frustrated with them when they cut into his play time.  Otherwise once the side effects of the seizure wear off he simply smiles and gets back to whatever activity he was engaged in before. 

With him for an example, how can I do anything but pick myself back up from this latest heartbreak and dive back into my own most important activity-- making sure that my little boy is as healthy and satisfied as possible?  He deserves nothing less. 

And on the good days-- days like this one-- when he's giggly and smiley and energetic, I want to spend every precious second making him happy.

So we'll go back to the drawing board, talk with his neurologist and start looking at other solutions.  In the meantime I wouldn't mind a few more lovely days like this one.  It didn't matter that it was rainy and gloomy outside; my very own ray of sunshine held my hand for hours and wouldn't let go.


Friday, February 11, 2011

In Which Connor Meets A Couple Dozen New Medical Personnel

Today's developmental clinic did not exactly go as planned.

The clinic appointment itself wasn't that bad; it actually was shorter than we expected due to the fact that three of the specialists we were supposed to see weren't there.  So instead we just met with the developmental pediatrician, the neurologist and the geneticist.

We discovered a shocking thing during the appointment.  Connor has fingerprints!

Well, sort of anyway.  Upon being told that Connor didn't have fingerprints the geneticist pulled out an instrument that looked remarkably like a jeweler's loupe and took a close look at the end of the little guy's fingers.  Then he looked for a long time and said "hmmm..." a whole lot while I wondered what the heck was taking so long.  Finally he stood back up. 

"Huh.  Well I've never seen anything like that," he said.

Then he explained that Connor has fingerprints, but only on portions of his fingers.  It looks like there are places in which the prints tried to develop, but the development was arrested before they could finish.  So not only are the swirling patterns very shallow and incomplete, but they also don't follow any of the types of fingerprint patterns that you typically see.  The patches of pattern are interspersed with large patches of completely smooth skin and they probably don't do him any good as far as giving him traction for gripping, but he does in fact technically have fingerprints-- however rudimentary they might be.  I saw them through the little loupe thingy myself. 

So that was the end of my dreams of setting him up as an international spy and/or criminal.  Dang it. 

Anyway we went over a bunch more stuff which I will cover tomorrow as I don't want this to be the longest blog post in the universe, but I just had to tell you about the fingerprints now.  Oh, and also I should mention that Connor had a small seizure that morning en route to the doctor's office, and then another small seizure in the developmental ped's office during the exam.  Neither were apneic or a big deal, but I figured I'd give him a dose of Ativan when we got home and update his main neurologist.  The one we saw today was our backup neurologist-- we like having a spare.

I should have just gone home, but we had orders to get an x-ray series done of Connor's hips as well as a few shots of his spine to see what his scoliosis was looking like.  So we had just finished up those and were fixing to head down to the ultrasound clinic for a renal ultrasound when Connor had a seizure on the x-ray exam table. 

"Don't worry, he's just having a seizure." I told the tech as I positioned Connor on his side.  "We just came from the neurologist's office, in fact.  Connor might stop breathing, but it usually doesn't last very long and this happens all the time.  I have his emergency meds in his wheelchair."  When it became apparent that my son was having an apneic seizure, I rolled the little guy over and gave him three quick breaths and then he woke up.  The whole thing lasted about twenty seconds from start to finish.

They called a code.

So the radiology department is located just down the hall from the emergency room, and this was in the middle of a very busy day.  So within less than a minute we had three or four doctors staring down at my very pink, obviously breathing and now kind of crabby and sleepy child.  Every once in a while the radiology door would swing open and you could see the twenty-five or so other medical personnel standing outside with the gurney, staring into the room and waiting to see if they should come flooding in.  The ER docs gave Connor a quick once over, listened to my repeated explanation, gave us the all clear and trickled out. 

The radiology department, however, wasn't comfortable letting us go home until they found our neurologist and brought him down to give Connor the all clear.  The neurologist who wasn't in his office or answering his pager, I might add, because he was in a conference with the developmental pediatrician talking about Connor. 

After they failed to locate him physically or by phone, they ended up paging him over the overhead PA system.  While this was going on I got to pass the time with various members of the hospital staff by doing that familiar-but-still-just-as-awkward song and dance that pretty much every parent of a child with special needs knows extremely well.  I'm not the best person at accepting at accepting over-the-top praise, so these conversations have never been my favorites.  You know, the ones that go like this:

Person Without Special Needs Child:  (starry eyed expression) You're so strong/amazing/a saint/the perfect mother etc!
Me: Thanks, but I'm just parenting my kid.  Really he's a sweetheart and I'm lucky to have him.
PWSNC: But no, really, you are insert gushing adjective here.  I could never do what you do!
Me: Yes you could. 
PWSNC: (sad face) No I couldn't!  It just breaks my heart to think about your poor, pitiful little child and what horrible sacrifices you have to make all the time that we normal, non-saintly people don't have to make.
Me: Yes you could.  My kid is happy and not pitiful and I'm also happy and not a saint.  Let's talk about frogs.  Do you like frogs?
PWSNC: Oh, but no really you are a saint!  Let me tell you some more how saintly you are!
(Repeat 8 billion times until I give up and agree that I am due for canonization any day now or I manage to change the subject and/or cause a diversion and run away-- whichever comes first.)

Finally just as I was planning on snatching somebody's clipboard, throwing it in a random direction and running the other way with Connor, the neurologist walked through the swinging door with the developmental pediatrician in tow. He glanced at my child (who had been there long enough for the postictal state to wear off and was alternating between singing a happy little song and chewing on his socks at that point) and told everyone to let us go home.

So Connor didn't get his renal ultrasound done, but he did manage to give the entire department of a hospital a whole lot of paperwork to do and possibly some future additional training and/or CPR refresher courses.  I'm sure they'll thank us later.

What a day.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

In Which Connor Acts Up Again And I Make A Strange Purchase

Connor Is Tired Of Fevers And Seizures.
So I had all sorts of big plans about what I was going to do today while Connor was at school.  They involved the a chocolate donut, the library, a cup of chai, sewing (AKA stabbing myself in the fingertips with a needle repeatedly-- I really need to get a thimble) and if I had time for it a trip to the grocery store.  But I only got as far as the donut and the library before I got a call from the school to come pick up my tired, crabby son.  He'd had another seizure: the second one of the day. 

The little guy's fever is back.

Seriously, what is the deal?  We've got that developmental clinic appointment tomorrow, and I'm probably going to ask them to do a CBC just to make sure that he doesn't have some sort of weird infection or something.  I wouldn't be surprised if they want to check out his hypothalamus too to see if he's got some sort of enzyme deficiency or something going on.  Not that I think they're going to find anything; our mystery child generally doesn't come with any easy answers.  But a girl can dream, right?

So now we're back to the Tylenol and Ativan regime, after a measly two and a half days off.  I've got a call into Connor's neurology clinic just to give them a heads up about what's going on.  Not that there's probably a whole lot they can do, but Ativan is one of those drugs you don't really want to mess around with so they'd probably appreciate knowing how often we're having to use it.  I don't even have to listen to any of the button options on their answering machine service any more; I've got the whole thing memorized.  I think my mom is the only person I call more at this point, and if Connor keeps this up she may take second place.

Sorry, Mom.

Very, Very Tired.  Also Blurry.

Anyway, so I didn't get my cup of chai or the dubious pleasure of using my fingertips as pincushions, but I did go to the grocery store once Connor had slept off seizure number two and bought a box of pediatric suppositories and a tub of ice cream.  Connor only has two major symptoms with Ativan, and they are insomnia (guess who's still awake?) and constipation.  The past couple of weeks have been enough to throw his system all out of whack.

The ice cream was for me, of course.  Just because I don't take prescription drugs (or any other drugs, for that matter) doesn't mean I don't have a medication of choice.  This time the cure for what ailed me came in Cherry Garcia flavor.  They might as well put crack in that stuff, it's so addictive.

I went through the self-checkout aisle because I didn't want the clerk judging me.  They probably already think I'm weird because I go in there late at night after derby practice all the time and not only am I all sweaty and dressed in strange outfits but I carry roller skates around with me, so I don't really need to add to my reputation.  And really, who goes to the grocery store just for ice cream and suppositories?  Weird people, that's who.  At least I had Connor with me and I wasn't wearing torn fishnets this time.  Torn fishnets add an aura of illicitness to pretty much any activity you care to do-- no matter how innocuous-- and grocery stores become a minefield of innuendo when you are dressed in derby gear. 

I sure as heck don't buy suggestive vegetables while I'm wearing them, anyway. 

At any rate hopefully we'll make it through tomorrow without incident and if we're lucky the team might have some ideas about what the heck we can do in regards to all these fevers and seizures.  In the meantime, I'm going to finish my ice cream and if I'm lucky I might be able to get in a little sewing right before bed. 

I've got my band aids all ready.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In Which Connor Watches Some Derby And I Reevaluate My Snack Choices

Connor has an appointment with the neuromuscular division of the developmental clinic on Friday.  He has one of these appointments a year, and we alternate between the neurodevelopmental and the neuromuscular clinics.  During the clinic Connor sees a combination of doctors and therapists, and it usually takes about four hours from start to finish.  It's good for us because it gives us an overarching picture of where Connor is developmentally and what we need to focus on in the future.

It also, however, means that Connor will miss school on Friday.  Since he doesn't have school on Wednesdays, this will bring the total number of days he's been in school this week to one.  That just happens to be the Not a great track record.  I sincerely hope the little guy shapes up next week, because he's been missing a lot of school. 

Jer wasn't able to watch the little guy tonight as he usually does during my roller derby practice, so I brought Connor with me and a couple of the ladies with different practice times were gracious enough to watch him while I skated.  Other than a very short seizure at the beginning of the evening Connor was as good as gold; I think he enjoyed watching the skaters and also having someone's undivided attention.  I had a good practice other than the fact that I managed to fall and split the inside of my lip open again.  This one wasn't bad at all-- it stopped bleeding after just a couple of minutes and it wasn't completely through my lip like the last time I fell, even though I smacked my mouth just as hard on the ground.  The swelling is all on the inside, so I don't have to walk around looking like I've gotten into a fight with someone for a couple of days like last time either.  I am seriously thankful for my mouth guard, though, because given the fact that I cut my lip with the thing on if I'd been remiss in wearing it I suspect I'd be missing teeth.

And I'd like my teeth to remain in my mouth, thank you very much.

At any rate we're home now and I'm rethinking what I'm going to have for my after-derby snack.  I was planning on having chips and salsa, but since they're salted chips and the salsa has hot sauce in it that might not be a particularly smart idea right now.  Ow.  I always come home from derby starving, even if I've eaten a huge dinner.  So I've started stashing little quick and easy to make things in the pantry for after derby practice; either that or I'll eat half my dinner before derby and the other half afterwards.  I think maybe it's the major adrenaline rushes associated with the sport that cause me to have such an appetite, because I've done various forms of exercise for years and it's never had this sort of effect on me. 

Who knows?  At any rate, I'm off to the fridge.  Maybe I can find some ice cream-- it would be therapeutic for the swelling.  That means I get to eat twice as much of it, right?


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In Which I Clean House And Connor Is Happy

Today was extremely productive!

I don't know about you all, but I often find that the state of my house is very indicative of how things are going in my personal life at that particular moment.  When I'm stressed and worried I have a lot less energy to devote to things like dusting and picking up after myself, and as a result the house ends up looking, shall we say, less than stellar.  I'm not saying that it gets unsanitary-- I don't stop cleaning the toilets or anything-- but the laundry definitely piles up and the floor doesn't get mopped as often as it should.  I also tend to do a lot of my cleaning and housework while Connor is in school, and so my routine gets interrupted when he's home all day.  I go into survival mode, and somehow scrubbing the baseboards and cleaning the grout in my shower doesn't seem that important anymore.

So whenever things start looking up-- usually when Connor starts feeling better-- I have a sudden urge to clean my house from top to bottom and make everything sparkle.  I have a lot more energy to devote to housework because I'm not spending it all worrying about the little guy.  So that explains why today I spent about six hours cleaning the house from top to bottom.  Today Connor didn't have a single dose of Tylenol or Ativan and he didn't have a single seizure!  That means he can go back to school and return to his normal routine.  He giggled his way through the laundry folding (his favorite chore), napped happily while I scrubbed the bathroom tile and played with his drum set while I swept our entryway.  It's nice to have my happy little guy back! 

And I have to admit that the idea of reclaiming my two and a half hours of daily free time made me pretty happy too-- happy enough to want a clean house to spend it in!  But also I think that Connor's joy is so infectious and so constant I don't realize how much I depend on it until he gets sick and, for a few days, it's missing.  Despite how syrupy and cliched it might sound, he truly makes my world brighter.  When he's in a great mood I can't help but have a good time, even if all I'm doing is cleaning the kitchen or taking out the garbage.  He startles and then laughs at the sudden bang of the recycling bin slamming shut.  He watches the broom sweep back and forth with an intent, awed expression.  And laundry-- once my most hated chore-- never fails to make Connor laugh so hard he falls over. 

So Connor is happy again and the house is clean.  I'd call that a pretty good day!

Monday, February 7, 2011

In Which Connor Feels Better And I Recharge My Batteries

Connor had a much better day today, I am happy to report.  He was still running a fever, but it started tapering off as the day progressed and by the evening the Tylenol was keeping his temperature at completely normal-- a sign that we're close to the end of this particular run of fever.  The other indication that he's nearing the end of his convalescence is that he was about 200 times more active and vocal than yesterday and the day before. Those were days in which he appeared to be doing a very good impression of a zombie, only instead of saying "BRAINS!!" he just said "Aaaaahhhh" every once in a while in a sad little voice and then went back to starting off into space. 

He was probably the cutest, most pathetic zombie ever.  People would totally have let him gnaw on them out of pity.

Anyway, so due to the fever the little guy stayed home from school but Joanna, our respite care worker, came over around noon and I went off for a much needed break.  I hit the library (of course) and Adamo's Cafe for a chocolate milkshake. 

Sometimes I don't realize just how much I need to recharge my batteries with some alone time until I get the chance to actually go out and spend a couple of hours by myself.  Don't get me wrong-- I absolutely love spending time with Connor and my date nights with Jeremy too-- but I also need the opportunity to just sit by myself and be every once in a while.  Luckily we get enough respite care to split our time up without cutting back on date nights, and also Jeremy is very understanding about my craving for alone time; he's the type of person who needs it too. 

At any rate it was a lovely day, and just the thing I needed to get me refocused, refreshed and able to go cheerfully back to work after a hard week!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

In Which I Have A Crazy Week And Play Hooky

I was supposed to go to my first Thai lesson today, but I slept through my alarm.  This is probably not a good start in learning the language on my part.

In my defense, this has been a really hectic week.  Multiple relatives (including Connor, of course) decided to be sick or have medical emergencies all at the same time.  I stayed up way past my bedtime on Friday because of our roller derby promotion (which was absolutely a blast, so I probably shouldn't be complaining about it), getting back to the house about about two in the morning.  Connor-induced insomnia-- if he's not sleeping, I'm not sleeping-- kept me up nearly as late on Saturday.  And on top of that I was cohosting a baby shower at my house today.  A house, I might add, that did not begin the week clean by any stretch of the imagination. 

The baby shower was fun.  But I'm seriously tired now.

So I'm sitting here with a big cup of hot cocoa and a book, and I'm going to bed early for once.  Connor fell asleep at 6:30 this evening-- a hour before his bedtime-- so I don't have to worry about him being up until two in the morning again.  He's still running a fever and spent most of the day cuddling with Jer, who holed up with him in the back room when the hoards of present-toting women descended upon our house.  The shower was quite a lot of fun for me, but I don't think squealing over baby clothes is quite my husband's thing. 

Jer got cheesecake out of the deal, though, so I think he was okay with that.  And Connor is never a big fan of crowds even when he's feeling great, so he was pretty okay with it too.

Anyway, hopefully this next week will be a little more laid back.  We'll just have to see!


Saturday, February 5, 2011

In Which Connor Is Still Sick

The medication seems to be working out well for Connor, which is a very good thing!  He hasn't had any more seizures today, though he was running a low-grade fever even on the Tylenol.

Honestly the last few times he's gotten sick he hasn't really had any symptoms other than the fever and a general lethargy.  There's been no real signs of congestion and he hasn't been coughing at all.  It makes me wonder if this isn't illness and is in fact a manifestation of his body temperature regulation issues.  After all, he didn't start doing the weird thing where one half of his body is cold and the other half is hot until he was around three years old, so maybe it's evolving again.  This would not be a wonderful development, as I'm not sure there's anything that can be done about this sort of thing other than what we're already doing.  I'm also not sure what we'll need to do about his school and therapies if he keeps running a fever once a week or so-- short of taking him in to get a white blood cell count done every time I'm not sure how we'd know if he's in fact sick or if he's just having another regulatory issue.  It's a problem, and I'm not seeing an easy solution.

I think I'll need to take the issue to his doctors and see what they have to say.

Friday, February 4, 2011

In Which Connor Is Sick Again

Connor's sick again.

Seriously, cold season is Not Fun for us at all.  The kiddo is (of course) running a fever, and (of course) the first indication we had that anything was out of the ordinary was when he started having seizures.  The poor kid has only been healthy for about a week!  He just can't seem to catch a break this season.

I swear I need to build this kid a bubble.  I'd try to construct something, but all I've got to work with is saran wrap and masking tape, and I don't think it would be particularly effective. 

So we're going to at least try to keep the seizures down so that his body will be stronger and able to recover faster.  We'll be using Ativan up to twice every twelve hour period as long as he is still running a fever.  It's a fine line to walk; we don't want to give him too much and get his body used to it so it becomes ineffective, but we don't want for him to go too long without taking it and end up starting up the seizures again.  Hopefully we'll be able to find just the right dosage to keep the seizures at bay without lessening the impact of the drug.

It's frustrating in more than ways than one; not only does Connor go through a lot physically, but he also misses out on school and therapy because we can't send him while he's sick.  Many of the children Connor spends time around in those environments are fragile or have immune system deficiencies, and the last thing we want to do is make one of those children ill.  Still, I worry that Connor's missing out on too much; lately it's seemed like he's spending more time out of school than in it.  There's not a whole lot I can do about it other than to try and keep him as healthy as possible and help him recover when he does get sick.  Oh well.

Hopefully he'll be feeling better soon!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

In Which We Now Wait Forever And I Prepare To Start Thai Kindergarten

Thanks so much for all your wonderful suggestions about what to send Ellen!  Jer and I will be putting together our little package over the next couple of weeks, and now we have some fantastic ideas about what to put in it.

I'm happy to say that our dossier is finally finished!  If it doesn't go over beforehand it will be hand carried by the adoption agency to Thailand.  Then we start the long, long process of waiting for Thailand to send us a formal referral for our daughter.  The earliest we could expect to hear back would be sometime in September of this year, and then we'll still have to accept the referral and wait for our travel date.  I don't anticipate the waiting will be very easy.  The earliest we could expect to travel would be December.  The wait could drag on as long as a year and a half, though, which would put us traveling in August of 2012-- a date that seems ridiculously far in the future.  I'd probably be a total nutcase by then.

Not that I'm not already, but you know what I mean.

So next week I'll officially be beginning my Thai language lessons!  We just happen to live extremely close to one of the largest Thai wats (a Thai Buddhist temple) in the country, and they offer free Thai language lessons, along with cultural and dance classes.  To tell you the truth, I'm a little bit nervous about the class as I have no idea what to expect, but I think it will be really good for me.  I suspect I may be in a classroom with a whole bunch of five year olds, and I'm a little worried that the Thai they're going to be learning is Thai writing and not Thai speaking, which might be a problem if the class is taught entirely in Thai.  But we'll just have to see.

While I'm nervous about the class I think it will be a great way for me to feel more connected to Ellen.  As the vast majority of the people attending the temple are of Thai nationality, I'll probably be one of very few white faces in a sea of Asian faces.  Many of the people who attend also don't speak English-- in fact, the monk I first spoke to on the phone had to go get somebody else to understand what I was saying-- and so I'll probably be way out of my depth for a while until I get a better handle on the language.  Not only is this a great chance for me to meet Thai people who can help ease Ellen's transition to the states and allow me to gain a better handle on Thai culture, but also this gives me a chance to see what she might feel like when we bring her home.  After all, she'll be one of a few Asian faces in a predominantly white society, and she'll be expected to learn and speak in a language that is not her native tongue.  It will hopefully put things into perspective for me.

While I don't expect to become fluent by any stretch of the imagination before we travel to meet Ellen (though depending on how long the process takes I could at least get to the point where I can hold a conversation) I hope that I'll know enough of the basics to make her feel welcome and comforted.  Jeremy's schedule probably won't allow him to take the class, but I can share with him what I'm learning so that he's able to connect with Ellen right away too! 

At least it will give me something to do while we're waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.

Can't she come home now?


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In Which I Ask Your Advice

So our adoption agency will be traveling soon to Thailand to visit the waiting children in their program, and so we have the opportunity to send Ellen a small gift.  It's too early in the process for photo albums or letters, but something small that she can keep with her is appropriate.

I'll confess that I'm a little gun shy about this trip; I'm kind of worried that they'll get over there and discover that for some reason Ellen is suddenly unavailable for adoption and we'll get another sad phone call.  But I'm excited too, because we have the opportunity to have some more questions answered about our daughter, to receive updated pictures and video, and to send along something just for her filled with all the love we can cram into it.

The question is, what do we send?

Ellen loves Thai comic books and soap operas, but I don't have a good source for Thai comics here (and wouldn't be able to read them yet to make sure they're appropriate).  She also enjoys playing chess, so we're thinking about maybe sending her a little travel chess set.  Stuffed animals aren't necessarily appropriate for her age level, but we're going to send a small piece of jewelry like a necklace or a charm bracelet.

I think I'm also going to applique a little zippered bag for her-- maybe with a white elephant, as they're an important cultural symbol for Thailand.  Since I have the time it would be good to send her something handmade.  I might have Jeremy take a picture while I'm sewing on it, and then when we're allowed to send her a photo album she can see that I made it for her.

So what do you all think?  Do you have any suggestions for age appropriate (she's thirteen) gifts we could send her?  They need to be of fairly low monetary value, non-electronic and probably not easily breakable, and they need to take up very little room in a suitcase.  Any ideas?


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

In Which Rowbert Gets A Tuneup

Today did not exactly go as planned.

The day before yesterday I was driving down the highway in Rowbert (our trusty wheelchair van) to a skating practice in a nearby town when the indicator for my tire pressure went on.  I was almost to the rink, so I went ahead and drove there before getting out to check on my tires.  It was about time for me to put air in them and the car didn't seem to be handling differently, so I figured that they were probably just a little low on air.  When I got out of the van, though, I could hear a very loud hissing noise coming from the tire on the front passenger side.  There went my "the tires just need a little bit of air" theory.

Thanks to an awesome skating buddy the spare tire was installed without any trouble, and once the flat tire was off it became extremely obvious where the hole was located.  A screw head about a half an inch in diameter could be seen jutting out from the tread.  Since the screw wasn't embedded in the sidewall of the tire I was hopeful it could be patched, and so first thing yesterday morning I called the dealership to see if they could fit me in for that as well as an oil change and a tuneup while I was at it.

So that brings us to today.  Our appointment at the dealership was for one in the afternoon, and I figured it probably wouldn't take more than about forty-five minutes at the most.  I brought one book and a single small toy for the little guy.  This proved to have been a mistake.

See, it turns out that there's an internal recall on the model van we have for an oil line problem.  As the nice service lady explained it, every once in a while somebody's oil line has broken and then "all the oil whooshes out all at once." This does not sound like it would be particularly good for one's engine.  So they needed to put in a new line.  Apparently this is kind of a time consuming job, but it was certainly necessary.

So instead of a twenty to forty-five minute wait it was more like a three hour wait.  Connor was amazingly good considering, the poor little guy.  The toy I'd brought with us was one of the less annoying ones, but by hour two I was more than tired of it, and I have no doubt the poor cashier in the waiting room was tired of it too.  I didn't have the heart to put it away for more than a few minutes at a time, though, because Connor really was enjoying it and it's not like I had a whole lot else for him to do.  I was really wishing I'd brought some reading material for myself instead of just a book for the little guy.  I spent some time reading their magazines but I really wasn't all that interested in who's dating who in Hollywood these days.

So I learned a few lessons from this whole experience.  The first is to never go to an appointment with a mechanic without a full bag of toys and entertainment for Connor and me.  The second is that I should probably subscribe to some sort of roadside assistance program, just in case.  And the third, most important lesson is that I should be really, really grateful for the small things even if they don't seem particularly wonderful at the time.  That screw could easily have caused a blowout on the highway rather than the slow, easy leak I had instead.  It was a clear night and the roads were dry, which is nearly unheard of in winter here.  And by going in to fix the tire I ended up having a potentially much bigger problem taken care of.  I got to spend those three hours of waiting sitting and having some quality time with my son, even if we spent some of that time reading together about what Angelina Jolie's been up to lately. 

So the day didn't go exactly as planned.  But that's really okay.

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