September 29, 2008


Today, pulmonology had to give Sally a once over to make sure she's healthy enough for surgery. We've not met this doctor, but he's heard about us for months. He's seen x-rays, MRIs, CTs, and reports but never actually seen the cute face that belongs with all of the junk. He gave us good news. Then he gave me a reality check. I don't really want to face reality at this point. I'm trying my best to just press on towards Thursday in the hopes that I won't have an emotional breakdown before then.

He gave me a rundown of the various tubes I should be expecting to see coming from Sally when she's in ICU. Then, he explained what would be coming or going from the said tubes. Then, he told me about lungs collapsing and pneumonia. Then, I asked how long we should expect Sally to be in ICU and he replied, "Oh, three to seven days." Like so nonchalant. I guess he didn't meet up with the planner in my mind that had us there about two days. Big difference in two and seven. Especially when you are talking about sleeping in a chair and watching your kid live with tubes coming out of her everywhere. I was giving him my 'deer in the headlights but faking like I'm okay with everything he just said' look. I think he knew I was freaked out. I'm not a very good faker.

I picked up the rest of the brood from my dear, absolutely should be sainted, friend. We went home and unloaded more groceries (I bought 10 loaves of bread today, I'm officially losing my mind). I laid the baby down for a nap. The biggies and I made chocolate chunk cookies.

Yeah, I'm thinking that's probably not numero uno on the list of things to do days before your daughter goes into surgery. I missed getting that list upon arrival at parenthood. So, I'm making up my own rules and they include chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. While our deliciousness was baking, I pulled out odds and ends of schoolwork to finish. This caused a barrage of complaining by the eldest child (who has determined that he needs to go directly to college since he's done with this nonsense). His murmurs blended well with the bickering of two more children and I had to send everyone to opposite corners of the house. A moment later, eldest somersaults from his appointed chair onto cast enclosed daughter and slams her to the floor...face first.

I'm at my breaking point, folks. I sent the offending boy outside and followed him. Then I explained that I couldn't take little tiffs. They could wait until life was normal again and bother each other. For now we must all get along and OBEY me. Then, I sent him in to do his work like a pleasant child and

I just sat in the sun and had myself an absolute sob fest. Shoulders shaking, tears streaming down my face, and crying to God. I haven't cried since the day we found out about Sally's surgery. She watched me cry in the elevator and still asks me, "Why did you cry when we were at the doctor's office?" Obviously, that made a big impact.

I've held it it for too long and let *some* of it out today. In front of 4 pairs of eyes. I heard their whispers through the screen, "Everett, what did you do to Mommy?" A minute or so later one of them said, "Mommy, do you need something?" Then a chorus of, "Can we help you? Are you okay?"

God, why did you make them so rotten with this wonderful sweet streak? I hugged them all and we sat down and ate too many chocolate chunk cookies. Still only three days until surgery, but for a few minutes that's forgotten.

September 28, 2008

No news

This is just a small update--we know nothing new. The MRI and CT went well; Sally knows the routine and is excited about getting popsicles after waking up from anesthesia. We have an appointment on Tuesday with the surgeon to hear his final plan for surgery. Most depends on what he sees from the scans Friday.

They did cut the cast off, but had to do it BEFORE she was knocked out. The anesthesiologist took one look at her and said he couldn't get her mouth to open wide enough to put her out. So they brought some 'happy juice' and the saw. It came off right there in pre-op. Sally was loopy, but managed to wail the entire time. He sanded the edges down so it won't cut her and then put it back on with bandages. My eyes actually started welling up with tears because of the strong odor. The inside of the cast is brown with dirt, funk, and skin. She had three flowers from a headband embedded in her back. She picks at the headband and I guess one day a few fell right down the back of the cast and got stuck. She also had some grass and unknown other items down there too. The nurse and I rubbed her down really well with a warm washcloth. Sally just kept repeating, "Ahhhh, more, more!"

That night she sat in the tub for a long time and I scrubbed and scrubbed. It was disgusting. She was ecstatic about taking a bath after so many weeks of just dipping her toes in.

Four more days until surgery...

September 26, 2008

Final MRI

My week started out rough. On Monday, my cat gifted us with a chipmunk. As I was trying to figure out what to do with the carcass, the little bugger jumped up and started racing around my living room. I screamed...for at least 10 minutes straight. The worst thing was I called Seth during the drama and thought he didn't answer-so I was screaming then hung up on him. The kids and I stood on the deck watching our cat chase this chipmunk through the dining room into the kitchen. At one point it tried to come out of the screen onto the deck with us--which lead to louder shrieking by me. I finally opened the screen door to see where it was and it came blazing out from under the table with the cat close behind. The phone was ringing in my hand and as I answered it, the stinkin' chipmunk ran for freedom right between my feet. I was SCREAMING and Seth was shouting into the phone, "Are you alright?!" Obviously, I had terrified him and finally mustered a "Chipmunk! House!" I'm embarrassed to admit to all that screaming, but I couldn't help myself. Seth calmly said, "I can't believe it. I'm hanging up now." Then I calmly turned to the kids and said, "Do you feel like you are stuck in a Disney movie?" I never would have thought that animals ran between screaming women's feet in real life. The chipmunk escaped alive, by the way.

That afternoon, I backed Moby into a mailbox at the piano teacher's house. At the grocery checkout afterwards, I had to leave my groceries on the belt and RUN with Sally to the bathroom because she has a terrible habit of waiting until urine is running down her legs before she mentions needing the facilities.

That was just Monday. Imagine four more days of incidents like that (though no more wild creatures have arrived inside the house). That would lead us to today. Sally has her pre-surgery MRI and CT. Afterwards, while she's still knocked out, her cast is going to be removed. I'm thinking that the guy who cuts it off may need a mask. It stinks so bad that Eli asked last night if worms would come out with it (yuck). Then Everett said, "Nah, not worms, but definitely lots of dirt. Tons of dirt."

Either way it's going to be nasty and they are planning on putting it back on her by wrapping a bandage around it. Personally, I think plans may change once they get a whiff. Like torching the thing the moment it comes off of her body. The doctor is nervous to let her be without it for the next week. So she'll get to take it off to bathe and sleep.

The scans today will give the doctors a last view of what they are dealing with. Hopefully, the abscess will be small and there will be no surprises. We will meet with him on Tuesday to hear his final plans for surgery. We are still praying that both surgeries (on her back and her front) can be completed Thursday. Prayerfully she'll need only a week to recover and then we will be home.

Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and recipes! You all have been a blessing to me and my family! I'll do my absolute best to update the blog as things happen next week. Please continue to lift Sally up in your prayers as surgery day approaches.

September 20, 2008

My Questions for You

We've got less than two weeks until surgery day. I'm making lists. They aren't productive lists though. They are stupid lists. I'm at the point of being overwhelmed beyond productivity. It isn't because I have so much to do. It's because I really don't know what I should be doing. So I've got some questions for you folks. Don't balk. Any opinion would be fine, I won't hold it against you if it isn't even a good, honest one. How's that for encouragement?

#1 I'm looking at one week, maybe two weeks, but possibly even a month or more in the hospital with Sally. I have my mother, my in laws, and my husband for help with our four non-hospitalized kids. That means they need meals. It could possibly be just 7 dinners (fending for breakfast and lunch is easy) but could be around a month of meals. Anyone have easy ideas for meals that I can freeze? Kid-friendly, but really easy for me to prep (remember, I've only got 11 days left) and just pop it in the oven and go? I'm willing to experiment with all kinds of crazy food, but I'm not about to leave my mom trying to convince Eli that he should eat the spinach stuffed shells.

#2 I haven't had a child in the hospital (excluding emergency room visits) so I don't know what to expect for a long term stay. Anyone have any advice on what to bring/do for Sally? How about advice on explaining surgery and hospitalization to a child who doesn't have a firm grasp of English? We've already read "Maisy goes to the hospital" about 1,568 times. Any other suggestions?

#3 What about the kids who have to stay at home? What kinds of things can I do now to prepare them? And (this is just merely because I'm curious) should I make them do school?

I'm making myself crazy. I feel like I'm getting ready to leave the country, but the hospital is only a scant 5 minutes away. I'll be coming home. Our kids will be coming to the hospital. My family can call if they can't find the casserole dishes. Though I'm planning on contributing to a landfill by supplying paper products for the time that others are responsible for maintaining sanity around here. Loving on the kids will be enough, I don't need to ask them to run the dishwasher...or cook...or wash clothes...or clean the bathrooms...

I appreciate all of you--your emails and comments have been so encouraging! I'm actually writing this post because so many of you were so helpful with the "stinky urine soaked cast" issue. I figured a bunch of genius' like you could help me a little more! Looking forward to hearing from you again!

Just to give you an idea of my mental state: I bought 15 jars of peanut butter today because they were on sale and (here's the kicker) "I don't want anyone to run out of peanut butter while I'm at the hospital." We do eat a lot of peanut butter, but I don't think we will be running out until 2015 much less in the next month.

September 15, 2008

Run in with an escalator

Today I found myself in a department store. With my children. I could probably end there and just let your imagination run wild with the antics that might take place when one woman takes five children into a department store. Reality can be so much more entertaining.

We just left the dentist. I should have gone directly home and taken a nap. But, Everett needs a pair of slacks for church. I decide that stopping at the department store wouldn't be a bad idea. I must have lost my mind. Every time I get home from an "event" I always forget about the looks, questions, and conversations that take place while I'm out. We are a spectacle. Five kids walking around with one adult would get some stares. One Asian child, two African children, and two white children walking around with one adult gets quite a few stares. Add to it that one child is in a cast up to her neck (talking LOUDLY ALL THE TIME) and we get more than looks. It's almost as if the Muzak in the background screeches off while we walk by.

We get into the store and ride the escalator to the second floor. Now, I realize that escalators can be dangerous. I've heard the 'crocs stuck in the escalator' stories. But they are high fun for kids. Especially the kid that hasn't been on an escalator since the plane trip home from Ethiopia. We shop, I see the prices, we get ready to leave. Our trip up to the second floor was so easy that I don't consider how careful I need to be on the ride back down. We are all seasoned riders now, right? I don't realize that you can't see how high you are as you ride up. Looking from the second floor down a moving staircase is terrifying.

Ella got on and then I stepped on (with baby in sling) and Sally ripped her hand out of mine and froze. I'm going down...down...down. Three of my kids are standing at the top. For a split second I consider running up the down...but I'm not Lara Croft. So I start yelling (this is more my modus operandi), "Everett stay with them! You guys just stay there! I'll be right back! But, GRACIOUS STEP AWAY FROM THE ESCALATOR BEFORE YOU FALL!!"

I slowly turn around as they step away and meet the stares of the entire cosmetics department. All conversation has ceased. All eyes are on me. Ho hum, nothing to see here folks. I'll just be running over to the other escalator. For fun.

I almost told Ella to stand by the earrings and wait (she was slowing me down) until I got my wits about me. Telling this child to stay put would be idiotic. Once, I gave a spiel about taking candy from strangers, helping to search for lost puppies, etc. After my 30 minute talk about stranger danger, I asked her what we say to strangers who offer us candy. Her reply, "Thank you!" Yep, can't leave her alone. Ever.

Ella and I get back onto the escalator and as I'm pulling her around the corner I hear this thumping noise. It's my other three kids who have overcome their fear of escalators and found out that playing with the rubber black handrail can be quite entertaining. Just as I'm almost to them, two concerned clerks approach them. And why wouldn't they? Three kids alone playing on the escalator? Sounds negligent to me. Dangerous even. I think I hear children's services being called as I grab two sets of hands and pull them onto the escalators. We safely make it down and I try to hold my head high as we make our exit. Sans new slacks and sanity.

September 8, 2008

Just for Auntie Gayle

Almost exactly one month ago we celebrated a wonderful event in our backyard. My Father-in-law (aka Popop) had his birthday. I won't disclose his age. My Mom told me the other day that '50 is the new 30' so that means that there are still many more years of wrestling with kids for dear old Popop.
Popop pictured with the grand kids (don't mind the man hiding behind the baby, Josiah regularly levitates).

We were joined by Aunt Gayle and Uncle Dale. I'm certain that they were completely and utterly overwhelmed by our obnoxious exuberant brood. (It doesn't matter how you slice it; five kids equals madness when compared to a household of two). We managed to put on quite a showstopper of an afternoon. Entertainment included high diving by Ella and Eli, pouting from a master-in-training (Salomae), and amazing eating feats by Josiah. Sadly, this could only be found exciting to those closely related to our prodigies. I saved the day by providing corn-on-the-cob. Who knew that Auntie Gayle was such a fan? It only took about 3 hours to grill on our slower than molasses contraption called a gas grill that your husband refuses to fix so you can just dump charcoal in it and grill that way. For years. And wonder why you even bother to grill at all.

Eli working his wonders as he flops (on his knees) into the pool from a standing position on the slide.

That said, Aunt Gayle must have been charmed because as she was screaming out of the driveway leaving; she gave me a gift for the kids. I promised her that I'd let her know what I decided to do with her 'little gift'. Drum roll please...

We threw the kids a party.

Once I thought about it, I figured they didn't need more toys (though they would have been happy with that). It's back to school time. I was feeling a little sad for my kids as they watch their friends getting ready for a new school year. So I told the kids we'd have a party for them and some of their home schooled friends. Auntie Gayle made it happen. Complete with water balloons, grilled hot dogs (why did I bother, the microwave would have been fine), sand, bubbles...and chocolate. They had a blast. I think Aunt Gayle might have enjoyed it--just picture Popop's birthday but add another 20 children (and water balloons). You get the idea.

September 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Everett!

It's hard to believe, but Everett is eight. I'm a downright mean Mother/Teacher and made him have school on his birthday. I'm a wimp disguised as a meanie. I made him 'do' math (easy, peasy since it's the beginning of the year) and history (he begged to have history today). We went to a doctor's appointment then visited McD's for lunch (don't start...). On the positive side, since I'm always full to the top of mom guilt, we did take the fast food to the park. We went on a nature scavenger hunt afterwards and made our own kilts when we got home (I'll have to explain that one). I tried to pepper fun into the muck of daily life just for his special day.

So he's eight. I can't believe that I've got an eight-year-old. I remember eight. So he'll remember what happens now. How's that for keeping you honest? Yipes. I'm sorry to say that his birthday present from us was We (head shaking) have joined (sigh) the masses. Do we get credit because we bought it cheap on craig's list from a 16 year old who was upgrading? Still a time waster. Included with the gift is a growing list of rules that have yet to be disclosed (I'm not a total party pooper).
Everett's so happy. His Dad is so happy. So are the siblings. And, I guess...I can try to be happy, too. Or at least put up with it. I think they played with that instead of reading books tonight. Here comes our demise! Happy Birthday, Everett!

The hat is courtesy of Rara and Popop's cross country trip. Seems to scream Vegas to us, but we are unsure of it's origin. One thing is certain, it's a new birthday tradition. For the kids, that is.