Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Musings From Natalie #105

Car ride convo...
"Mom, can you believe there was a time when I wasn't even born...I can't even imagine that -- I just can't!"
Me, either.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Deep Thoughts From Noah #53

Noah on BBQ potato chips...
"Mom!  You've got to try these! They'll change your life."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Musings From Natalie #104

Morning convo before school while fixing Natalie's hair...
Natalie: "Um, Mom...(boy in her class) tells me he likes it when I wear my hair down better than when it's in braids.
Me: "Ok, what would you like then...one braid or two?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Musings From Natalie #103

A few minutes before we needed to leave for school, Natalie asked, "Mom, can two girls get married?"
I took a deep breath...then spoke from my heart -- as succinctly as humanly possible and answered any questions she had before we had to scurry out the door.
Her conclusion: "So, it's kinda different, but also kinda awesome, right?"
Right on!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Grant's Farm: Behind the Scenes

On Sunday my family and I were invited to join our friends, the Tevlins, for a behind the scenes tour of Grant's Farm.  While I was looking forward to spending a lazy day in the sunshine with friends and family, I wondered what we could possibly see or do that we haven't experienced already.  As a native St. Louisan, I grew up visiting Grant's Farm and continued the tradition of frequent visits with my own family.  I thought we had seen and done it all.

I was wrong.

The 2+ hour tour began in the Clydesdale barn.  Our two guides shared all kinds of interesting facts about these hearty horses, the training involved and the selection process used for building a Budweiser draft horse team. The kids had the opportunity to spend time with a former Budweiser team member.  Natalie wanted no part of the horse, but Noah happily stroked the 18 hands-tall animal while chatting away with his friend.  It was obvious that contact with the horse was immediately therapeutic.  Prior to our arrival, Noah had been quite agitated and very much against going on the tour. 

We traveled the grounds via a specially designed truck with covered seating.  We stopped frequently -- to walk the grounds and peek inside Ulysses Grant's cabin, to feed the koi fish abundant in Mirror Lake and to take in the sights and history of the AB family's mansion.  Towards the end of the tour we came upon a group of buffalo.  It was then that Natalie really perked up.  She immediately had a favorite - Fred, the bull buffalo of the herd.  She eagerly scooped out cupfuls of feed for the one ton, hairy beast.

All of this left me scratching my head...

Pet a beautiful, calm, chestnut-colored horse with snow-stocking feet?  = NO
Feed a hump-backed, shaggy-furred, beast with horns? = YES!

Our behind-the-scenes tour was certainly full of surprises. Thank you Tevlin family for giving us a fun, memorable good time!

Prior to the tour, we stopped in for a peek at the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site.  The museum offers free tours and a junior ranger program for kids to enjoy...anytime -- you only need to ask.

Natalie tries on period clothes at the museum

The AB mansion
The playhouse that sits beside the AB mansion...check out the zebras.
Grant's cabin

The steer started walking over to us as soon as they spied our truck.
Nat feeds Fred

Friday, October 17, 2014

After the Storm

After so many dark, sloshy days -- the recent sunshine has served to lift more than a few clouds that had been hanging over our house.  Last Thursday, Noah had surgery to repair a perforation on his left eardrum.  The hope was to restore his hearing and reduce the occurrence of infections.  He'd had surgery about two years ago to patch the hole, however, it was not successful and the hole that had consumed 30% of his eardrum had grown to 50%. As a result, his hearing in his left ear was very poor.

We arrived at the surgery center at 6:20 a.m. after spending nearly an hour on the highway under a thunderous dark sky.  Steve stayed behind to get Natalie to school. The plan was to have him meet up with us after drop off.  While Noah's surgery would be more invasive than the previous one, his surgeon was seasoned and I felt we were doing the best for Noah.

Eight hours later...I wasn't so sure.

While most patients who have tympanoplasty with mastoidectomy stay overnight at the hospital -- our doctor reasoned that Noah had done so well with surgery that he thought it best he recoup at home.  He also wanted him to avoid possible exposure to MRSA infections which have been on the rise. However, resting at home never happened because Noah was plagued with vomiting and subsequent dry heaving which sent his pain level through the roof. But controlling his pain was virtually impossible since he couldn't keep anything down.  It was a horrible cycle. I had never felt so helpless as I watched Noah beg me to "make it stop!" "take it out".
About this time, Steve and Natalie walked through the door.  I watched as Natalie stood shell-shocked as she took in the scene.  Her brother hurting and me failing at providing him with any relief.  I'm sure it was scary.  I was certainly scared.

Thankfully, I was able to reach the doctor.  He felt terrible as he listened to Noah heave and wail in the background and immediately suggested we bring him back to stay.  Unfortunately, our only option was to go through the ER.  This meant we had to be completely re-entered into the system.  Apparently all information that had previously been entered at Mercy's Surgery Center is not accessible to Mercy's ER staff.  As I steadied Noah on the scale, the in-take nurse asked me silly questions like "when did his pain start?"

"Hmm..well, he was vomiting when we left the surgery center at 2 p.m. and he's been miserable ever since."

More redundant questions...finally the nurse gave him Zofran to calm his stomach, but the movement from wheelchair to an ER bed sent him back into the throes of heaving.

Next, the ER doctor entered and began asking us questions like "what brings you in here today?"

Three and a half hours later - Noah was assigned a bed. I was so weary - my hair hurt.  My heart ached as I scanned Noah's gray complexion, dark circles beneath his eyes and the bubble-like headband pooling with blood.  I wondered how moms and dads who have children with long term illnesses cope.  Certainly they are super heroes.

That night Noah woke every hour on the hour to use the bathroom as the I.V. fluids were sending his bladder into overdrive.  He looked at me like I was crazy when I suggested he use a urinal.  I scrambled to untangle his lines and keep up with him as he made a beeline for the door. By morning, I knew Noah had turned the corner when he asked about breakfast. As I read the menu to him, he became more and more excited.

"Noah, they have cheesy eggs."
"Oh my!"
"Would you like bacon or sausage?"
"I don't know...I can't decide!"

I ordered a slew of items I thought for sure he'd never finish. He proved me wrong.

As Noah and I headed home I wondered how Steve and Natalie had fared without us.  Her teacher had emailed me earlier that Natalie had complained of a stomachache, but told her she didn't need to go to the nurse...she was just worried about Noah. In the end Steve did a great job holding down the fort with Natalie. He even came up with a new hair style for her...to which Natalie named, "The Big Steve". 

I am so very grateful for my Big Steve and for family and friends who prayed for Noah during the storm.  Today the sun is shining. Thank you.
After surgery - heading home the first time.
Natalie shows off "The Big Steve"

Monday, October 13, 2014

Deep Thoughts From Noah #52

I don't know why, but Noah has been interested in getting married since he was 5 years old.
Morning car ride convo...
Noah: Mom, I know why Goofy never married.
Me: You do?
Noah: Yeah, it's because he has too many happy thoughts and he never went to college.
Me: I see.
(I don't know if I should be upset that he believes only moderately happy people get married or relieved that he feels it's best to finish school before heading down the aisle.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Musings From Natalie #102

"Mom, I think when I have kids I'm going to name them Marco and Polo."
(I guess this is an improvement...two years ago she told me she was going to have two girls -- one named Candy and the other Sparkle.)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Deep Thoughts from Noah #51

Noah got brave this morning and decided to try cream cheese with his bagel...
"Mom, I can't believe how good this tastes.  It's making my taste buds dance."