Monthly Archives: March 2012

In which I catch up with pictures and such

The kids have been out of school for two days and we’ve already slipped into vacation mode.  I didn’t get out of my pajamas until noon yesterday and I don’t think Tommy did at all but that’s how we roll on the first couple of days of break and the change of pace has been nice.

Though judging by Craig’s face and wrinkled nose when he walked in the door last night from his trip to Charlotte, it was high time we all showered. 

I took the boys to the Lego store on Monday afternoon to let them wander and play in the build area for a while.  Their birthday is in a couple of months and the wish list, it is a-growing.  Then we wandered to the Disney store where Travis did his usual perusal of the giant plush toy pile and much to the chagrin of his brothers, played with the pink Minnie doll.

Keeps ’em humble.

And me in stitches.

As a fun treat after window shopping all afternoon, we went to Kanki for dinner.  The boys had never been and I thought it would be a fun way to kick off the start of vacation.

My favorite part of the evening was watching their reaction when fire shot out of the onion volcano and learning that they will, in fact, eat salad and zucchini when someone else fixes it.

They may live to regret the day I found that out.

I’m glad I had positive and happy feelings carry over to the next morning because I was awakened by shrieks of alarm when the boys had gone into the garage to get waffles out of the big freezer for breakfast only to discover that they had forgotten to close the door from getting ice cream the night before.

People.

I had four gallons of ice cream in the big freezer, one of which had been on its side and spilled over everything.

And mingled with the Dairy Queen ice cream cake stored on the top shelf that melted all over the contents of the three shelves below.

Not exactly how I wanted to start my day, but I decided that it wasn’t worth getting wrapped around the axle about it and maybe this was God’s way of teaching me patience and telling me it was time to lay off the Blue Bell for a bit.

So we cleaned up the freezer and the garage floor and pulled out all the meat that needed cooking and I spent most of yesterday in the kitchen using up what I could.

The first task at hand was to figure out what to do with 4 quarts of thawed peaches so I made up a peach cobbler recipe and it was perfect and beautiful right up until the point I decided the topping needed to be a little crispier so I popped it under the broiler for a second and remembered it five minutes later. 

So close, and yet so far.

I redeemed the day a little by going to All Recipes and entering ground pork in the search engine.  I found a Chinese dumpling recipe that looked easy and I had all the ingredients except for the wonton wrappers and some fresh ginger so I went to Kroger for those items and in about 40 minutes had homemade dumplings that were super delicious but ugly since they came out of the pot in one giant glued mess because I didn’t have them properly separated during the cooking process.

Live and learn.

And get the bamboo steamer.

So that has been my week thus far – a bit of fun, a little trial, a lot of error, and my sweet boys to share it all with me.

Hope your week is equally fabulous.

Have a nice day.

Five on Friday: The Field Trip Edition

1.  Yesterday was the granddaddy of all field trips.  Tommy and Travis had a day trip to DC to visit the Air and Space Museum and no, JJ wasn’t along for the ride because our kids have been in separate classes since kindergarten which has been oh so fun when it comes to parent teacher conferences, open house night, and every field trip we’ve ever been on.

But I digress.

We left the house at 0 dark thirty and hadn’t calculated the amount of time I would need to get the three of us ready to go so I didn’t eat breakfast.  This would become an important fact by 7:00 later that night when I hadn’t had anything to eat in 24 hours except for a packet of cheese crackers from the vending machine, a Dr. Pepper and the crumbs to the Nutty Buddy that I licked off Travis’ shirt when he ate the lunch I’d packed for him and neglected to pack for myself.

All of this information was not available to me at 6:00 in the morning so for the moment, everyone was happy.

Some were happier than others when they stole Mom’s iPad and played with it the whole way up to DC.

2.  The bus was chartered and fairly comfortable but I made the rookie mistake of sitting in the back of the bus and while this wasn’t a problem going up, by the time we got back home at midnight and 40 children had been using the on-bus lavatory which was for emergency bathroom use only, I was having to hold my breath every time the kids would open the door to go in there.

And that was a lot because it smelled so bad they were daring each other to go in there.

And I’ve never met a middle schooler that wouldn’t take a dare.

But the bus also had wi-fi and a good movie selection so who am I to complain?

3.  The cherry blossoms were at their peak in DC so that meant we and a million of our closest friends were all down on the National Mall.

We slogged through the choking traffic and got dropped off at the Museum where Travis had me take important pictures like this hot air balloon and a box of Red Baron pizza.

It’s at this same museum that I saw Tommy for about six seconds.  Apparently when you’re in the 6th grade and on a field trip with your mother, it’s uncool to be seen with her.

4.  We loaded back on the bus after spending a few minutes trying to get the lift to work and then spent over an hour driving out to Dulles Airport to see the Air and Space Annex (Udvar-Hazy).

Because of the time we lost in traffic and because we were running up against the amount of time our bus drivers could be on the road, we had a grand total of exactly THIRTY-THREE MINUTES to see the entire museum.  That was about enough time to get off, get down the elevator, and get a picture made with the shuttle.

5.  But it was worth every single second of the ELEVEN HOURS spent on a bus to get to spend a precious 10 minutes with NotNed and Momologuer who also drove an hour so we could be together.

Oh, sweet friends.  I love you so much.

And then we piled back into the bus and drove FOREVER AND A DAY and got back home at midnight and it was without a doubt a long run for a short slide but totally worth it.

And a good time was had by all.

Have a nice day.

 

 

Tuesday Tidbits

My parents are here and we are talking, shopping, getting home projects done and eating chocolate pie.

The pie, people.  They’ll serve it in Heaven.  

We’ve not done a bunch of sight-seeing this trip. It seems a bit sadistic to ask them to get in a car and drive around North Carolina after they spent the better part of two days in a car getting here.  We’ve been puttering around town instead.  Yesterday Mom and I went to TJ Maxx and HomeGoods and did some accessory shopping in an attempt to brighten up the shelves in the living room and when we didn’t quite find what we were looking for, we consoled ourselves with a little shoe shopping.

Daddy sat in the car and waited for us.  Bless his heart.

Today we’re going to do more of the same plus finish up the last of Mt. Washmore and enjoy our last day together.  They leave tomorrow morning and I’m already a little sad about it but I’m going to buck up, little camper, because they’re planning on being back out in September and that doesn’t seem too very far away.

Have a nice day. 

And pie.

 

Five on Friday

1.  My parents are arriving today for a visit and I could not be happier, happier, happier.

I don’t know what we’re going to do but just knowing Mom’s going to make me a chocolate pie and some potato salad and please, please, please help me catch up on laundry is enough for me.

2.  I love following people on Pinterest and stealing all their ideas but have I made a single recipe or crafted one tiny project?

That would be a “No”.

Though the Samoa Bundt Cake is a strong contender.

3.  I was listening to music yesterday while cleaning house (see #1) and after a while started wondering why I was having the urge to light the fire and hang the stockings from the mantle.  As it turns out, I typed “ChristMAS” instead of “ChristIAN” in the Pandora search engine.

I’m glad it only took me two hours to figure out.

4.  Earlier this week I mentioned consuming therapeutic doses of red curry.  You only think I was joking.

I was not.

I am obsessed with it right now much like I was obsessed with the Big Fish sandwich from Burger King when I was pregnant and the answer to your next question is “no”.  I woke up thinking about the Big Fish, my nose pressed against the restaurant window waiting for 10:31 when they switched to the lunch menu, and were it not for being hospitalized at my 18th week, my husband would have scheduled an intervention to get me to stop eating it.

Oh, why can’t I get this way about lettuce salad with non-fat dressing?

5.  Speaking of Craig, I made his hair hurt on Wednesday when we were in the McDonald’s drive-thru grabbing a coke for Travis and him after the doctor’s appointment.  I was driving so I placed the order and reached for my wallet to pull out a $5 bill to pay for their drinks .  Craig pointed to the sign that says “We thank you for using your debit or credit card” and said just to give him my card.  And I told him it annoys me every time I see that sign because much like my children I don’t like being told what to do and so I deliberately use cash just to prove a point.

“I’m stickin’ it to the man! Power to the people!”,  I said in an understated and not at all dramatic sort of way.

And then there was a big pause and he said that explained a whole lot of things.

Have a nice day.

 

 

Did I say I didn’t want to talk about it? Ignore that. Let’s gab more.

The verses texted to me in the last two days have been beautiful.  All prefaced by “I know you said you didn’t want to talk about it BUT….”

Friends, y’all are killin’ me.

Softly.

Go ahead, sing that for the rest of the day.

So, the sun is shining and I’ve had several “snap out of it” conversations with myself and a dose or two of therapeutic red curry from Champa Thai and my head was generally on straight this morning when we walked into the surgeon’s office.

And I had cute shoes.

Never underestimate the emotional power of good footwear.

I thought the appointment was going to be a disaster because for some reason, Travis freaked out once we got into the exam room.  He didn’t want to sit on the exam table and even though I sat with him, he would not release his death grip from my neck.  He was sweating profusely and shaking so hard that I was honestly starting to get nervous that we wouldn’t be able to get a decent x-ray.  I sent a quick text to a couple of friends asking for specific prayer for his fear and literally within MINUTES his attitude completely changed and he was cheerful and even excited to show the doctor what he could do.

Answered prayer right before my eyes.

You can only imagine the encouragement that gave me. 

The x-rays showed that his left hip hasn’t changed much since we last looked at it but his right hip has deteriorated some.  Fortunately, it is not causing any pain or functional gait impairment, so the huge praise coming out of today is that he will not need hip surgery. He will, however, need leg surgery.

There are various contributors to his gait problem but they are concentrated in the left leg so surgery will be confined to that leg.  This is a praise because it offers a better chance at recovery because he’ll still have one strong leg to stand on while doing therapy to bring the other one back to strength.

We spent a good bit of time talking about what life would look like post-surgery.  The doctor had specific questions about T’s internal motivation to walk and how willing we thought he’d be to participate in his recovery because those will be key factors in whether or not he gets back up on his feet.  And, honestly, we have to guess at the answers based on how we’ve seen him recover from previous surgeries. We really don’t know.  I am hopeful that he’ll work hard and I feel somewhat comfortable that he will try (and try harder if I have Jelly Bellys) to participate in his therapy but the only thing I can do in that case is pray, encourage, and bribe.

So that’s what I’ll do.

For those who like details about what will be done, I have a few.  The doctor threw around big words like osteotomy and torsion and a bunch of words that made me wish I’d paid more attention in Anatomy class, but for the sake of clarity we’re going to call them “the upper leg thing”, “the lower leg thing”, “the tendon thing” and “the hamstring thing.”  They’ll cut the bone in his upper leg and remove a bit of length and rotate it so that his knee is better aligned with his hips and put it back together with a metal plate and screws.  They’ll also lengthen the hamstring while they’re at it.

His lower leg bone is showing evidence of torsion or bone twisting and, yes, we can all get the heebie jeebies about that.  They will cut the two lower bones just above the ankle and twist them so that they properly align with the knee and will put in some staples to hold them together until they heal.  While they’re working on the lower part of his leg, the doctor will also lengthen the tendon that runs along the outside of his foot so that it doesn’t continue to pull it outward.

These are all surgeries that many kids with cerebral palsy have as they grow and we’ve known he might have to have all or some of them.  We did one hamstring surgery three years ago so that’s a known quantity and we’re comfortable with what that looks like.  We feel fortunate that he can have all four procedures done at once and have one period of recovery. (There was a 5th procedure we specifically elected NOT to do so he wouldn’t have pain in his foot to contend with once he’s cleared to start weight bearing. We wanted to remove that obstacle because we want him to have the clearest shot at recovery he can have.)

The surgery itself will take three hours, he’ll be hospitalized for a couple of days afterwards, and he’ll come home in a long-leg cast for 4-6 weeks and then we’ll start PT.  We don’t have a surgery date yet but they will call us and let us know when the doctor’s schedule is free.

Judging by his heavy sigh and exaggerated eye roll, we’re not the only parents who have requested the third week in June for their kid’s surgery date.

So we left with not-as-heavy hearts as when we went in. The fact that we’re not going to touch his hips gives me hope and even if it’s a sliver of it, I’ll take it with a drizzle of caramel sauce and dollop of whipped cream.

And a side of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream which is now available at a Triangle Walmart near you and yes, that is your public service announcement for the day.

Which, by the way, is where Travis wanted to go after his appointment because he spent all of his allowance at Target last week and he was living under the delusion that he might get a fresh start at a different establishment and he was also hoping Mom would spring for large fries at the in-store McDonalds.

I was glad to oblige.

As we were dipping fries into honey mustard sauce, I asked him what he thought about his appointment this morning and he said that the doctor needed to fix his funny bone.  When I told him that was the case and that he would need to have an operation he wasn’t concerned in the least and only asked two things: Can I watch movies in bed at the hospital? Can I drink my sick soda?

Assured that the remote would be his and he’d have Sprite on demand, he had one parting question:  Can we go tomorrow?

 

 

Oh, sweet boy, thanks for letting me know it’s all going to be okay.

Have a nice day.

 

And now you know the rest of the story

“Any praises or prayer requests for the week?”

My Sunday School class starts every session with those words and the time we spend sharing the highs and lows is my favorite part of class. I don’t usually have a prayer request.  I’m not a huge sharer EVEN THOUGH I BLAB ABOUT MY LIFE ON THE INTERNET but this week I had something that I felt needed all the extra prayers it could get.  In the brightest, lightest, cheeriest voice I could fake, I mentioned that Travis had a doctor’s appointment this week with the orthopedic surgeon and we would appreciate prayers for clarity as we seek to figure out the best solution to some problems he’s been having with his gait.

As I was speaking, I could feel my throat start to tighten and heard a slight waver and so I waved my hand dramatically and tossed off a little joke that they could also pray for me because I was a psycho mom who tended to get emotional about every little thing that happens to their kid and we all laughed and the class moved on.

What my friends didn’t know and what I’m telling them today from the safety of a quiet room in my house where tears can flow is that we’ve reached a point in Travis’ physical development where walking has become so difficult and his gait so forceful, awkward and unnatural that his physical therapist at school believes he now is at risk of blowing out his knees or worse, pulling his hip out of socket. It’s so bad that last week she called me to say that she could no longer in good conscience recommend that he be on his feet at all and she asked that he stop walking altogether.

And I said, “Forever?”

And she said, “I think we’ve reached that point.”

Insert two days of crying here until Craig came home from his business trip and walked me off the ledge by basically telling me to take one day at a time and that we’ve been here before and we’re not going to know anything until we see the surgeon and even if T has the surgery we aren’t going to know the outcome until we’ve gone through the whole process that will take months so there’s no sense in getting worked up about it now.  

And how anyone can be so rational and reasonable and level-headed when there are things to get all good and hysterically dramatic over I will never understand.

But I thank God that He gave me one of those people because I’d otherwise be a hot mess.

Or at least a bigger one than I already am.

So Wednesday we’ll go and see a surgeon and expect with great certainty to hear that our son needs a surgery with an undetermined outcome. I would be lying to you if I said that I’m approaching this appointment with excitement and a joyful heart.  I’m not.  My heart is breaking for a twelve-year old boy and I have prayed “Lord Jesus, come!” so that he could have a new body and would be able to RUN AND RUN AND RUN and chase his brothers and do cannonballs into the pool.  I have prayed that our story would be like that of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda and that a word from the Savior would be all that T needs to effortlessly put one foot in front of the other.  I have begged in prayer.  Begged to the point of gasping breath and flowing tears that God would work miraculously in the physical healing of my child.

I don’t think this will be our story.

And I’m slowly being dragged toward being okay with that.

Because as we’ve done surgeries and therapies and meetings and medicines and all have fallen short of the hoped for outcome, God is shaping our hearts in acceptance that our story will not be about the little boy who ditched his walker and ran and did cartwheels in the grass.

It will, instead, be about Him.

His faithfulness.

His tenderness.

His merciful love.

His daily, equipping strength.

His patience.

His gift that comes packaged in pain but reveals itself to be beautiful and holy and transforming and healing and, yes, perfect.

His plan.

And that’s what I’m holding to today, and tomorrow, and Wednesday, and next week, and this summer when we’ll most likely be spending a lot of time in a hospital or on a couch or in a therapy office.  I’m holding on to Truth and doing my best to take captive the emotion that wants to derail what I know that I know that I know.

God is good.

He loves Travis more than I do.

He loves me more than I can fathom.

That, my friends, is a beautiful story, and we’re about to enter the next chapter.

Have a nice day.

________________________________________________

A special PS to my friends and family who talk to me on the phone or who see me in real life every day:

I am a little emotional these days but I am fine.  I’m doing what I can to find joy and keep my spirits up.  So I may call you and ask for a new recipe or to meet you for lunch (do not let me order the loaded cheese fries) or I may drop by your house and talk about knitting or Downton Abbey or whether I should let my bangs grow out.

Please know that in that minute you are ministering to me.

But I’m weird and even though I talk about stuff on the Internet I may not want to talk about it in person because it emotionally exhausts me so please don’t ask about it and let’s all live in that happy place of fluff and stuff called Denial unless I burst into tears and cry my guts out.  And then just listen and tell me it’s going to be okay and to put on my big girl panties and point me back to the faithfulness of the God we serve.

Because it’s all going to be okay.

Cheerio, St. Lucia.

Do they really say “Cheerio” in England?  I should have asked our British companions while we were there. 

We had reservations at Tao, the fine dining restaurant at our resort, the last night we were there.  It has been named one of the “Sixty Hottest Tables” by Conde Nast and since we were on the company dime, I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to eat fancy.  The restaurant is at the water’s edge and open on three sides.  Even though it was dark out, we could see the glimmer of the moon play across the ocean and the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks was a beautiful soundtrack to our unhurried meal.

And I didn’t take my camera.

I KNOW.

It was just one of those evenings where I wanted to make the memory with Craig and our dear friends Mark and Fran and wanted to be all in the moment and not think about how could I blog this for posterity.  Because it was memorable and magical without having a camera  to record it.  The plates were beautifully and artfully composed – just as you see them in the magazines with fancy drizzles of color and flavor.  I almost didn’t want to take a bite because I didn’t want to mess the plate up.  They were that perfect.

I had the duck terrine AND the Vietnamese spring rolls for appetizers (the restaurant is part of the all-inclusive package, so everyone at the table took advantage of that and ordered several things to taste).  I’d never had duck before (which is bizarre since I had a ton of duck-hunting friends in Arkansas) and I don’t know what duck is supposed to taste like, but that terrine was rich and bold and unctuous and ethereal all at the same time.  And the spring rolls?  Ha! Let’s just say they’ve ruined me for the ones I buy at Harris Teeter.

I had the mahi mahi for my entree (while vacationing on an island, I’ve learned that ordering the fish never disappoints), and it was perfectly grilled and sitting on top of a sweet potato cake.  Divine.

And then the dessert menu came out and wouldn’t you know, they had my favorite item, creme brulee.  But not just any creme brulee, my friends.  Ginger creme brulee with a paper-thin, crispy hazelnut biscotti. And it was so divine that I broke my rule and told Fran she had to take a picture of it with her phone and send it to me, because it was a vision.

Craig, who does not share my love for all things custard-based, opted for the bread pudding which is my other love language and as fantastic as my dessert was, his was even better.  If you go to Tao for no other reason, go for the bread pudding.

We spent a few hours the next morning at the beach soaking up the last rays of sun and then loaded into the van to head back to the airport.  We had the option of taking helicopters back and avoiding the winding, washed out roads, but it was a very windy day and I didn’t want to die in a chopper accident Craig gets motion sickness very easily so we took the road less traveled by and that made all the difference.

We had a few hours to kill at the airport so after buying some t-shirts for the boys and soaps and locally roasted coffee and cashew nuts for my in-laws who graciously watched them for us, we headed upstairs to the food court and undid four days of healthy spa eating by devouring a plate of French fries and some fried Jamaican patties that we’d been missing since our trip two years ago.

Then we walked to our plane and boarded and started our journey back home.

The flight back was uneventful.  I watched The Help and loved it just as much as the book.  We had a bit of a layover in Atlanta before heading to Raleigh.  We were getting worn out by this point and losing the island spirit quickly.  The screaming babies at 11:30 p.m. on our flight didn’t help.

But we rallied and had enough spirit in us to take one last picture before heading home.

Well, one of us rallied.

The other one was humoring me.

And a good time was had by all.

Have a nice day.