Monday, May 16, 2016

Molly Mermaid and the longest conversation we have ever had

Today Maggie was finishing up her morning bubble bath when she started to cry.  The following conversation is the longest verbal conversation that we've ever had in the almost six years since she's been born.  

Me:  "What's wrong?  Why are you crying?"
Maggie:  "Molly.  Towel!" 
Me: (using a towel to dry her hand and face) "Here's a towel.  Do you want to get out?"
Maggie: "Get out... Crying."  
Me:  "Why are you crying?"
Maggie:  "Sad."  
Me: "Why are you sad?" (remembering the beginning of the conversation)  "Oh! You want your Molly doll!"
Maggie:  "Molly!"  
Me: "Here, let's get out.  Let's dry off.  We can find your Molly doll."
Maggie:  "Towel. Dry off."  
Me: "Let's find Molly. I think she's in my room." 

Two minutes later we'd found where she had hidden her two Molly Mermaid dolls and a small Fischer-Price doll that she calls "Maggie" and like that the tears turned into smiles and she was ready to get ready for school (therapy)... which she began calling "Mermaid School" this weekend, during the fifty times that she asked me to take her (that would be very close to a literal fifty times... if we didn't exceed fifty, which is a very real possibility).  

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The House

Finally!  The kids are in bed, the dog and cat are napping in the living room while I type, and I have a chance to put together a post about the new house.  

We began house hunting a couple of months ago.  The first house we went to see was a beautiful old farm house surrounded by lovely red outbuildings and a huge barn.  Patch loved the barn.  

Unfortunately, while the one hundred thirty year old house had obviously had many renovations, there was one problem that we couldn't ignore... none of the floors were level.  

After seeing many others that often reminded me of the stereotypical stories you hear about online dating ("This looks absolutely nothing like it did in the pictures!  Were those pictures taken twenty years ago?"), we came across a newer house and fell in love.

And it has central air.  Do you know how hard it is to find houses for sale with central air here?  Amid the houses we saw, houses with central air were few and far between.  After almost four years in a house with one air conditioned room (downstairs) that central air was a major selling point.

The house is supposed to close in less than a week now and I'm impatiently awaiting the day when we can begin to move into a place with a finished basement and a huge yard, with lots of room to play:

Here's the downstairs:

And the upstairs:

 And the basement:
I've been formulating a to do list that'll start next week if all goes smoothly with closing.  The glass shelves in the dining room will be taken down ASAP.  All the walls are getting a coat of protective clear coat because Maggie is hard on walls and nothing I've done seems to change that.  And we're meeting with a fence company at the end of the week to discuss the massive fence that is going to go up around the backyard.

It needs to be Maggie proof.  If that's physically possible.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

James, Maggie, Important Appointments and Other Updates

I flew through the MCHAT in the waiting room before James' appointment, keeping one hand behind his back as he tottered on the edge of a chair, staring at the tiger barbs zipping back and forth across the top of the pediatrician's fish tank.

"Fish!  Fish!" I said.
"Ahhh!  Ahhh!" He replied.

He nearly always responds with vowels when I try to convince him to say a word. Even if it's Mama.

I'd already finished the ASQ at home earlier in the morning and while I knew he would be flagged as failing every single category, in particular gross motor skills and speech, I also could see that we were making some progress.  He could do two of the six expected skills for 18 months "some of the time" instead of being unable to complete any of them.  That was huge in my book.

During the appointment itself, both the pediatrician and I were distracted.  We were having major problems with one of the other kid's medications and had been frantically playing phone tag all week.  We skimmed through James' checks, because most of the problems that were obvious were already being addressed by his neurologist.

By then he'd already been checked out by the med student of the day.  I'd quickly given him a run down of his history.

At eight months they noticed he had hypotonia and hyperflexibility.  At ten months he started physical therapy with Early On.  He heavily favors the left side of his body over his right and avoids using his right arm and to an extent his right leg, as much as possible.

We know his speech is delayed and Early On is monitoring it.  He'll be meeting with a speech therapist soon. He just started walking, but his right foot turns in and pronates in dramatically, which makes him fall frequently.

Next week the neurologist will be writing a script for orthotics, because we've given it three months and it hasn't improved on its own.  He has been tested for muscular dystrophy, and the neurologist said the blood test ruled that out.

It was the same as every other Well Baby Check.  I go over what's happened so far and they say to keep seeing the neurologist.

We hustled from that appointment to another appointment, and I didn't give the Well Baby Check another thought.  There are appointments that I worry about.  Well Baby Checks are not high on that list.

Two days later I was coming out of Maggie's appointment with her new geneticist when my phone rang.

That was an appointment I'd worried about.  We'd taken "the next available appointment" when we'd scheduled it back during the first week of October.

It had been seven months out.  I was constantly checking the calendar to make sure we weren't going to miss it.  When it takes that long to get in to see somebody, you want to be absolutely certain you're there.  And I'd been warned that they don't always call to confirm.

At that appointment the geneticist said that he didn't think she had Angelman's but that she had definite markers for Angelman's, which has to do with missing information on the 15th chromosome.  He threw out some other possibilities, like Fragile X and I made mental notes to research the suggestions he was making when I got home.  I already knew a bit about Angelman's because if you Google all the symptoms that James has that's what comes up with a pretty much 100% match, but I hadn't read anything about it for a while, and I definitely needed a refresher.

He said he thought the odds were 50-60% that he'd find something significant when the blood work came in, but that it would take a month to get the blood work approved and then another month to get the results in once the blood had been drawn.

We left that appointment and I was just about to walk into Aldi, when the phone rang.  I recognized the number as our pediatrician's office and expected to hear a nurse or social worker on the other end of the line when I picked up.  Instead it was our pediatrician calling.

She explained that when we'd been in the office the computer system had been having problems and the results for the MCHAT hadn't come back right away.  In my head I thought "No big deal, he totally rocked the MCHAT." but of course, if he had, she wouldn't have been calling me.  Developmental Pediatrician's don't usually call themselves to tell you a little test like the MCHAT is great.

Perhaps this shows how relative "normal" is in our world, because while I thought he'd done great he'd actually scored extremely high (which is apparently not good) with three critical flags, and I needed to call the schedule a ADOS (the autism evaluation test) as soon as possible.  I already knew from a conversation with Maggie's social worker, that they were booked three months out and had a wait list for appointments beyond that point, at the place where he would need to go to be tested.  

A few days later I gave the update to his neurologist while he wrote the script for orthotics, ordered a sedated MRI, which he deemed necessary on two points, most especially because of the right side weakness, and explained that if his right leg continued to do what it is currently doing we'll need to refer him over to orthopedic specialist to look into other causes.

Oh and if the hospital couldn't get him in for sedated MRI in thirty days I'd need to take him back for another physical.  Of course.  Because you need a physical within thirty days for sedation (that's why Mae had been seen that very morning).

Yesterday, as I climbed into bed, I thought about Maggie and James and how the two of them communicate, flawlessly.  She adores him and the feeling is mutual.  They are inseparable.  They think that the same things are funny.  They play together constantly.  And their communication is seamless.

So maybe there's more to those MCHAT results than I first imagined.  After five phone calls he's off the waiting list and will be tested in mid July.  And then we'll start to get answers about whether he and his favorite playmate have even more in common than we'd guessed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Our Dramatic Saturday Evening

In the post about Sadie's first communion I mentioned briefly the trip to labor and delivery that I took on Saturday afternoon and how it really deserved it's very own post.

But it all really began on Friday night when just before bed I noticed some light spotting.

This is different, was my first thought, only because usually I don't have spotting in the third trimester.  There was no reason for the spotting, other than maybe carrying James around more than usual.  I didn't call my doctor though.

After having subchorionic hematomas during two pregnancies (and likely during Patch's too, since I had spotting at 6, 10, 16, and 24 weeks with him) spotting doesn't send me into a panic like it used to.

Sadie's First Communion was beautiful, but I spent a good portion of it wrestling with Maggie ("No, we don't touch the shoes of the person in the pew in front of us!  Even if we're being very quiet while we're doing it!"), who despite her best behavior was still a handful and I also spent it not drinking the 60 ounces of water that I normally would drink before noon when I'm at home.

We stopped by the house to get new clothes for a certain eighteen month old, since he was covered from head to toe in frosting and cake, and I ran into the house to use the bathroom.  When I stood up there was a rush of fluid.

I froze.  I waited.  It had stopped.  It had only lasted for a moment.  I held very still.  I felt completley normal.

As I collected James' clothes I was nervous.  When my water broke with Sadie it was only a trickle, far less than what I'd just experienced.  When it broke with Patch it was more like it was in the movies, where it goes on and on and you wonder how much amniotic fluid can be around one little baby.  This was somewhere in between.

I changed and made sure I had everything we needed to go out to lunch like Sadie had requested.  Then we left.  In the car I whispered to Paul that I thought maybe my water had broken, but I wasn't sure, so I guess we'd wait and see if anything happened.

At lunch everything was fine.  I didn't have a single contraction.

After lunch Sadie asked to drive down and look at the new house (which still deserves it's own post, but I'll share one picture in this one):

At this point the worry that my water had broken seemed far away.  I'd probably just had one of those accidents that sometimes happens when an increasingly large baby is sitting on your bladder doing gymnastic exercises.  Even if I had used the bathroom approximately thirty seconds earlier...

So it didn't worry me that while our current home is less than a mile from the hospital, the new house is about half an hour away.  After all, everything seemed fine.

We were almost to the new house when the first real contraction hit.  That this was a real laboring sort of contraction, I had no doubt in my mind.  I'd never even felt contractions like this when I was in labor with Patch.

This was a contraction of the variety I had shortly before Sadie was born.  I looked at the time and recorded it on my phone.

But it was only one. And by the time the second one hit, four minutes later, we'd already driven by the house.  The third one was three minutes later.  When the fourth and fifth and sixth came, two minutes apart, I told Paul to turn the car and head straight for the hospital.

I called my OBs line and about fifteen minutes later go a call back from the doctor on call at the hospital.

"I know what you're going to say but... I thought I'd call anyways.  I'm 30 weeks and 5 days pregnant.  I had some light spotting last night.  Around lunch time I had a rush of fluid, but I wasn't sure what it was... and now two hours later I'm having contractions that are two minutes apart... They've been that close for almost half an hour now.  Okay, that's what I thought.  We'll be there as soon as can."

And of course she said to come in immediately.

The next half hour was excruciating.  The contractions were like clockwork, every two minutes, and they were increasingly horrible.

By the time we arrived at the hospital and I said goodbye to everyone I was certain I wouldn't be coming home any time soon.

They whisked me into triage and checked the baby.  She sounded good, but she was transverse, so they had a hard time getting the sensors to stay in place and pick up anything.

I lay on my side and waited.  Laying down was much, much better.  The contractions stopped, altogether, almost immediately.

See, I thought to myself, if I just went home everything would have been fine.  Except I knew going home when the contractions were that strong and that close together hadn't been an option.  Not at 30 weeks.

Both the resident and nurse were convinced that my water had broken, and immediately ordered three tests to confirm it, all of which came back negative.  I was a little bit dilated, more than I had been in the past, but not enough to worry about.

This didn't totally reassure me.  When my water broke with Sadie all the tests came back negative too, for hours after it had happened.  It wasn't until I was being wheeled in for my c-section after five hours of pushing that there was a rush of amniotic fluid that was actually detectable.

The resident was worried that I had a tear at the top of the amniotic sac and that a little fluid had leaked out.  She did an ultrasound and the fluid levels still looked in the range of normal.  Baby's head was squarely against my right side and her feet were squarely against my left (she's our third baby that spends almost all her time transverse).

She explained that all the tests were negative but she just had a gut feeling after everything that had happened that there was a tear... which was a big deal because treatment would be entirely different depending on whether or not my water was partially broken.

She explained that the sac might reseal, but that I'd have to watch very, very carefully for any fluid leaking at all.

When the contractions had stopped for an hour I was sent home, with orders to drink as much water as I could and to stay in bed.

I tried to sit propped on some pillows while Sadie opened her presents, but quickly realized that being flat on my back was pretty much the only option left to me.

For the rest of Saturday and almost all of Sunday I stayed in bed.  I managed to sit up for around an hour, propped on pillows, twice on Sunday while cuddling with the boys, but anything else caused the contractions to come roaring back, and after sitting up I was exhausted.  Still by Sunday evening I could actually sit up and eat dinner.

On Monday I tentatively got out of bed.  We had accidentally double booked appointments and I there was one that I really couldn't miss for James and Patch if it was at all possible.  I sat up and was... fine...  I rested as much as possible and while the contractions briefly came back after Maggie's speech session, they went away when I laid down again and I was okay to take Sadie to ballet while Paul fed the little kids dinner.

This morning we're back to the little constant Braxton Hicks contractions that mark the second and third trimester in any pregnancy for me.  I'm less nervous than I was yesterday and far less nervous than I was on Sunday, and am making every effort to take it easy (Paul has been a huge, huge help both playing with the kids all day and being up with James for much of the night).

I do wonder if there was a tear that resealed itself, and I'm praying that this little one stays put for two more hopefully drama free months.

Now to go drink as much water as I possibly can to hopefully prevent any more contractions from having an excuse to start!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sadie's First Communion

The day Sadie had been waiting for for so very long finally arrived.  

After years of dressing up and pretending and hoping a priest would mistake her three year old self for a seven year old:

It was finally time:

The siblings were somewhat less excited.  Especially Patch who informed Sadie, when she told him that today was her first communion, that it wasn't, that they were going to see her in a ballet instead.  Then he tried to convince me that he was "ready for Jesus!" by telling me that he was a half dozen times.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Maggie.  She walked into the church and slide into our pew.  For the hour before the Mass started, while pictures were being taken, she sat almost still and was totally silent, and looked at her book.  I had a bit more wrangling to do once Mass started, because she became much more excited, but she still only made a few small happy sounds over the course of the Mass and didn't have to be taken out once.

Patch and James on the other hand were in fine form before Mass even started.  James was the first one to have to go out in the vestibule, because he was back-arching-screaming-furious that I would not let him attempt to lay siege to the altar.  Patch followed Sadie around for a while and then decided that he need to touch one of the candles that was lit around the perimeter of the church and he joined his brother and dad in watching through the glass doors.  

The Mass was beautiful!  Sadie was glowing when she came back to her seat!

After Mass we went over to the parish hall for the reception and I snapped this photo of James destroying a cupcake.  

After Mass we gave Sadie the option of doing whatever she wanted to do.  Her choice?  Steak tacos at Chipotle.

After that she asked if we could drive down and look at the house that's about half an hour from where we now live, that we'll be closing on next month (I know!  I know!  This deserves it's own post!).

As we were driving though things got a little dramatic and I ended up being rushed back to labor and delivery per doctor's orders after I suddenly started having contractions that were exactly two minutes apart, for more than an hour. And they hurt (this also deserves its own post!)!  

I'm home now, although things seem to be starting back up every time I sit or stand, or don't lay perfectly still on my back... so I'm not sure how this is going to work out.  I was really hoping that it was from overdoing and that after a night of laying down and drinking a ton of water I'd be okay to go back to every day life.  But at this point I'm a little nervous.

I even missed decorating the cupcakes and cake that I spent Friday baking!  Paul took over while I was at the hospital though, and the kids had more cupcakes after dropping me off.  

And that was our big first communion day! I'm so happy for Sadie!  She's waited so long for this!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Day Like Today

Usually, even with all the various therapy appointments and field trips and doctors' appointments that we have going on, there's usually quite a bit of downtime and play time that fits into our schedule.  But every once in a while there's a day like today.  

I decided to write this as a Day in the Life sort of post, but it does happen to be loaded with quite a few updates... since today's appointments were some of the more important ones that we have.

I should probably add that on a normal day we're usually early to everything... but every few months we'll have a day like today, when the schedules just don't quite work the way I was hoping they would...

12:05 am- James wakes up.  He's been sleeping through the night lately, but for the last three nights he appears to have given up on sleep and is wide awake.  I lay on the floor next to his crib and hold his hand until he falls back asleep.  Thankfully no one else wakes up.

3:22 am- He wakes up again. I try getting him back to sleep.  Nothing works.  I pick him up and carry him back to our bed.  He hasn't been in the Big Bed since he was night weaned a few months ago.   He is incredibly excited.  I realize that he's smuggled a board book about penguins into bed with him when he repeatedly puts the book over my face to get me to read it.  I confiscate the book and put it on the ground.  He fusses for about five minutes over the book and then finally goes to bed.

6:16 am- I hear footsteps charging down the hallway and put my hand up to shield James. Patch and Puppy arrive.  I hear the girls voices in their rooms.  It's time to wake up.

7:05 am- Paul has fed everyone and taken the puppy outside for a short walk.  I stumble around finding clothes for Maggie and quickly throw together a lunch for her while watching the clock.  I manage to find clothes that fit, and sweep up the cereal that a certain 18 month old launched onto the ground before hustling Maggie out the door.

7:45 am- We're in the car and headed across town for a last minute neurology appointment.  I'm hoping we can squeeze it in without being late to therapy.  I got a phone call earlier in the week asking me to bring her in today, so that she can have a physical before she can be approved for a sedated EEG.  Because everyone now agrees that a non-sedated EEG is completely and utterly impossible with our girl, at this point in time.

8:02 am- We've made it to check in.  We're not even really late.  Our appointment is at 8:30, but check in starts half an hour earlier.

8:03 am- I take Maggie to the pediatric neurology waiting room.  The room is new and is a lifesaver.  She hates the regular waiting room.  She loves the new kid waiting room.  I'm actually able to fill out paper work while she plays with the toys.

8:05 am- We don't get a blood pressure reading but we do get her weight and height, which tells us that the child who was labeled "overweight" at her last physical has fallen to the 16th percentile for BMI.  At least that won't come up at our next actual (non- EEG) yearly checkup.

8:09 am- Back to the waiting room for more waiting

8:30 am- We go in to see the doctor.  He asks how everything has been going and goes over the paperwork  I filled out.  Maggie plays with her mermaid doll in the sink, says "bu-bump, bu-bump" when he listens to her heart and sits on my lap while he checks her reflexes.  Then she watches the Under the Sea music video from the Little Mermaid on my phone while one of the receptionists coordinates the EEG staff and the anesthesiologist at the hospital and after three tries we finally have a date that works for both offices.

8:50 am- We get a token for parking and head out to the car.  Can we make it to our next appointment in time (I've warned them we might be late, but I'm still aiming for on time)?

9:05 am- We're late, but at least it's only five minutes.  Maggie stomps on two puddles between the car and the front door of the therapy office.  She gives me a kiss goodbye and skips off with one of her all time favorite therapists.

9:10 am- I'm back in the car.  I think about calling Paul and asking him to get James ready but decide I have enough time to do it on my own.  As long as I leave by 9:45 we should make it to appointment number 2.

9:18 am- I get home and scrub James' hands and faces.  I've never had a child so obsessed with getting as messy as he possibly can, constantly.  He is the polar opposite of his brother, who hates being messy.

9:31 am- My phone rings and I can see by the number that it's my back doctor. I desperately need to see her.  She works osteopathic wonders on my not-so-good back injury.  I didn't get to go to my last appointment after an exceptionally long appointment with James meant it had to be cancelled.  The receptionist says they have a cancellation and can see me (this afternoon!  this afternoon! I chant in my head)... in an hour and a half...  I have to decline... there's no way I can make it.

9:38 am- James is clean and dressed and I've even managed to safely deposit him in his car seat, which is becoming a challenge since the car seat jigsaw puzzle demands his seat be in the third row to make everything fit, and getting him into the third row now that I'm in third trimester is pretty nearly impossible.

9:58 am- We're early! We've made it.  We check in with the neurology front desk.  The receptionist asks me if the doctor knew we'd be back and if he asked why I didn't just bring them together.  I say "He does know, but he didn't ask" and don't add that I'm certain he didn't ask because he realizes how impossible it would be to wrangle the two of them together.

10: 02 am- James has had enough of the waiting room.  He's ready to go home.  He repeatedly tells me "bye bye" and tries to make a break for it down the hallway.  The next half hour crawls by.


10:50 am- It's our turn to see the doctor.  Upon realizing that he's not getting out of his appointment James refuses to do anything other than sit on my lap and cling to my shoulders like a baby sloth.  He won't walk.  He won't crawl.  He will try to steal a marble from the doctor and eat it.  Thankfully I have an instagram video to show to the doctor of him walking outside in the hallway.

10:52 am- I explain that while I feel that he's making slow but steady progress, I have to admit that James failed pretty much every category on the ASQ.  And that his pediatrician personally called me the day after his physical to let me know that he bombed the MCHAT and needs to be seen for autism screening ASAP, which, with the current back log means who-knows-how-long because they aren't even booking appointments now.  They only book three months out.  Anything after that is a wait list.
11:10 am- James is asleep in the carrier on my chest and I have things to do.  I have a script for orthotics.  James' right foot is pigeon toes and also rolls inward dramatically and orthotics should help.  I have the order form in my hand for a sedated MRI that I hand over to the check out lady.  We narrowly avoided the MRI last time, but James still strongly prefers both his left arm and his left leg over his right side, and that isn't supposed to happen at this age, so the doctor wants to take a look at his brain, although I can tell that he strongly suspects we'll get more answers when we finally get in to see the genetics specialist than we will from this test.

11:38 am- I'm home.  I find clothes for Sadie and Patch because the tutu and super man shirt that each have chosen for the day are going to have to stay home.  I grab a coupon I've been saving for a day like today, then I go online and order Sadie a kids meal from Chipotle.  Then I help Sadie fix her hair while James dramatically sprawls on the floor.

12:03 pm- Where did the last half hour go?  We load the kids into the car.  A mud covered Lily, who's been playing in the backyard, comes back into the house.  We drive to Burger King and use the coupon for the non-allergy family members and then drive to Chipotle to pick up Sadie's super allergy friendly kids meal.  By the time everything is ready we have five minutes to make it to speech.
12:48 pm- We're three minutes late, but that isn't altogether a bad thing.  Her therapist's lunch ends at 12:45 and she's never ready for their class to begin when we're on time.  Because 12:45 is the end of lunch, not the beginning of the next class.  This will have given her a time to have gotten everything ready and hopefully to have gotten the other kids to the classroom.

12:51 pm- I call the kids' pediatrician nurses' line from the car, while Patch loudly sings the Holy Baby song from the DVD he's watching and I leave a message that goes something like this "Hi, this is Cammie, James' mom, and I was just calling because Doctor D was hoping that we could change the referral that Doctor N wrote last week for James to Doctor S.  His sister Maggie has already been seen by Doctor A for genetic testing and he'd really like James to be seen by the same doctor so that all their information is in one place.  He's also hoping maybe Doctor A will be able to get us in faster since he's already seeing Maggie, and that maybe we won't have to wait seven months again to get in.  I know in the last conversation I had with Doctor N she mentioned that the referral was to Doctor S, so if we could get that re-written and sent over I'd really appreciate it.  My number is...."
1:02 pm- The nurse from the office calls back in record time.  She takes down the information for the new referral, but isn't optimistic that it will speed up the time we're seen.  It doesn't usually work like that.

1:15 pm- Sadie skips back to the car with Paul and we head across town for a quick trip to a thrift shop I've been meaning to check out since we moved to town almost four years ago.  I need to see if they have any shirts large enough to cover my enormous baby bump.

1:52 pm- We drop Paul off for an errand he needs to do and I drive back towards Maggie's therapy office.  If it was a sunny April day we'd be getting out of the car and going to a park, but with the torrential downpour that just isn't going to happen, so we go for a little drive, leaving just enough time to slide into a parking spot...

2:28 pm- ... and pick Maggie up.  Then we head back over to get Paul.

3:00 pm- It's time for an emergency run to the store to get almond milk, because Patch is basically addicted to almond milk... I pick up a few other things, along with some nail polish, a couple hair accessories, and a small toy to give Sadie before bedtime, because she has a very big day coming up and I wanted to do something, today, to celebrate.  Then we zip home and get dinner on the table.

5:30 pm- At five thirty, almost every night, Maggie asks to take her migraine medicine and then takes herself upstairs to get ready for bed. Tonight is no exception.  Paul takes her upstairs to get ready while I get pajamas for the boys and give a certain food covered eighteen month old a bath.

6:04 pm- James decides to taste a bar of gluten free soap.  He learns that it smells much, much better than it tastes.

7:43 pm- James is asleep.  Patch is laying in his bed with Puppy (the stuffed one, not the real one).  I go downstairs to find clothes for Sadie to wear to her retreat tomorrow.

7:44 pm- I yell up from the basement to Paul that "THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!!! YOU NEED TO COME DOWN HERE NOW!!!"  By the amount of time it takes for him to get downstairs I realize that I probably should have told him that my water had not, in fact, broken.

7:45 pm- I point him over to a corner of the room where the sewer has backed up into the laundry room.  I'm thankful that it's bath water from the kids and not actual sewage (this time).

8:03 pm- Sadie and I sit on the couch together.  I paint her finger nails pale pink and her toes pale pink with giant purple sparkles. She paints my already pink nails with a thick layer of purple sparkles and does a remarkably good job.  We say a rosary together before it's time for her to go to bed.

9:48 pm- The plumber who gave us the lowest quote (50% less than the first place Paul called) arrives and manages to push through whatever mermaid Maggie attempted to send to the sea, via the upstairs toilet, out of the pipes.  Disaster (mostly) averted.  Except for the mermaid.  I'm pretty sure the mermaid is still having a bad day.

And now, at a little after eleven, it is time for me to go to bed.  Because tomorrow is a big, although much less busy (I hope), day.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Hurry, hurry, faster, faster.

For the last two Sundays as I've walked forward to receive communion I've heard a small voice just behind my right ear.

"Hurry, hurry, faster, faster, hurry, hurry.  No. Don't stop.  No, no, no.  Don't.  Faster.  I get Jesus.  I ready Jesus.  I get Jesus.  Hurry.  No stopping. Faster.  NO STOPPING!!!!  I ready for Jesus!!!  I ready.  Go, go, go."

I make gentle hushing sounds, and give thanks that his voice isn't too loud.  His Dad who was directly behind us couldn't hear him (I checked!).

This guy seems to following in the footsteps of his oldest sister, who at the age of three was also convinced that she was ready for her first communion:

Except his excitement might be even higher because he's heard all the talk about how a certain someone went in and had her first communion interview last week, and on Saturday is planning on making her first communion:

At least from his place in the carrier on my back he wasn't even close to swiping a Eucharist when he made his move the moment after I received.

When it's time to go, the next words I hear, without fail are "Bye, bye Jesus!!!  We go playground now?"

And I am silently thankful that he's not quite at stealthy at attempting to grab the edge of the chalice as Maggie was... because we had some close calls with her!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Time for a Relaunch

I haven't talked about my stores for a while because for the last 18 months the only thing in them has been the patterns for snood making that I sell.  

After five years of running my shops I was a little burnt out and with James' arrival and all the appointments my "little break" after he was born stretched on and on until I wondered if I would ever start making items for sale again.  

In the last few months I've gotten back into making things, and yesterday after talking with Paul, I decided to relaunch my shop.

There are going to be some big changes this time around.  I'm not planning on accepting custom orders at this point, because I've realized that a lot of the stress that caused me to close my shop came from very particular custom orders (the sort where I'd get 20+ emails describing exactly what a single snood needed to look like) and I'm hoping to avoid that this time while continuing to make things that I love and think others will enjoy.  

And I'm planning on keeping 100% of what's up in the store in stock, so there isn't any late night sewing of a dozen snoods that need to go out tomorrow.

The biggest change may be that I'm combing all my shops and Paul's shop (which I don't think I ever mentioned here) into one store.  

So far I only had time to work on it last night, so only a few of my favorite snoods and chaplets are up.  Today we'll be prepping Paul's items for a photo shoot and getting them up in the store, along with a few other new items I have in mind.  

At the moment most of the snoods I'm posting are the last of the fabrics I have.  The unbleached linen below is the very last of one of my most popular snoods, and I don't foresee making any more in the near future (it's one of those snoods I sewed many, many times, and at the moment I'm focusing more on making new products and posting the many snoods that have been hanging around that I already have made).  

So here's the latest!  I'm so excited to be sharing my work with you again!  

My favorite in pink!

This is one of my all time favorite cotton prints.

And this is one of my all time favorite snoods.  It's lace over silk and I love the way it holds it's shape!

The last of one of my most popular fabrics!
Rose dupioni and lace!

A chaplet for one of my favorite saints!

An Our Lady of Guadalupe Chaplet
A Saint Kateri Chaplet

A Single Decade Rosary Inspired by Sadie Kate

A Saint Anne Chaplet
Those are a few of what I've added yesterday... and as a hint about what Paul's been working on I'll show you this:

He opened an Etsy shop this summer, and sold out fairly quickly.  He's hard at work getting a new set of pipes ready to add to our new combined shop and I can't wait to see the finished products!

I'm hoping we can have them up and running tonight!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mermaids, Migraines, and the Doctor she Likes

Yesterday I watched as one of the specialists that Maggie sees walked into the children's waiting room and said hello to us.  She jumped up, put down the book and toy she'd been playing with and raced out the door.

I was ready to chase after her, but she knew where she was going.  She skipped ahead of him to his office, and ran giggling over to the sink where an empty cup was waiting for her.  Her tiny mermaid doll was going for a swim.

In the moment, while I was relating to him the huge changes since she began her new migraine medication, I didn't fully appreciate how extraordinary that appointment was, from beginning to end.

Maggie hates doctor's appointments.  She can identify a new waiting room as a doctor's office's waiting room immediately and will become inconsolable.  Usually exam rooms are slightly better (waiting rooms are the worst), but the hours we've spent in these spaces are the longest in any day or month or year.

It doesn't matter if there's a huge fish tank or twenty different toys to play with.  She will not be convinced that these places have anything redeeming about them whatsoever.

So the fact that she stayed and played in the little waiting room until it was our turn and then led the way to the doctor's office, was nothing short of miraculous in my mind.

During the exam portion of the appointment she sat on my lap while he listened to her heart and she said "bu- bump, bu- bump, bu- bump" with a smile while the stethoscope was on her chest, and while she was wiggly during the rest of the exam, she wasn't upset in the least.

This is especially exceptional, however, because this was the doctor that I'd initially feared meeting.

When we were first referred to him and I mentioned it in other appointments, a general silence would follow.  From therapists to social workers to other doctors, it seemed no one didn't know of his reputation.  But the time I met him I'd heard stories of terrified interns and terrified parents. And everyone wanted to warn me to be ready when we went in for the appointment about his bedside manner (or lack there of).

He was brilliant, everyone told me, but... not good with patients.  Or just people in general.

I was ready for anything at that first appointment.  And I was stunned when he was amazing with her and completely kind to me.

We've seen him more than a half dozen times now and he is one of two doctors that Maggie is enthusiastic about seeing.

She dances and prances and makes her mermaid doll swim around his office while he sits at his computer and types out the changes since our last appointment and they are without a doubt the least stressful doctor's appointments that we go to.

And I'm incredibly thankful that she's been lucky enough to see him.  Since getting her migraines under control she's so much happier and more playful.  I hadn't realized how much they were affecting her until she began this new medication and the instances of headaches went way, way down.

Less headaches have meant more words and more talking at home, and it's meant being happier to play with friends, and spending more time playing with her siblings instead of going upstairs and hiding under the covers because her head hurts!  Sounds don't seem to hurt her anymore.

I'm praying that the medicine continues to work and keep the headaches at bay!  I can't believe how much they'd affected life every single day before we figured out what was going on.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Maggie's GPS Part 2: A Review of the Verizon GizmoPal and the GizmoPal2

Maggie and her first GPS.
If you've read this blog for a while, you may remember the single most frightening moment of my entire life, when Maggie eloped last June and made it .6 miles, barefoot, in triple digit heat, after I noticed that she'd been playing a little too quietly in the kitchen for about five minutes.

In the month that followed I frantically researched different GPS options, ordered a GPS, sent it back because there was no way that she would keep the giant thing that arrived in the mail on (or that she would keep on any piece of clothing it was attached too).

That first GPS also only worked with T Mobile and AT&T satellites, which have zero coverage in the tiny town my parents live in, making the thing a large, useless piece of heavy plastic and metal for the time when we most desperately needed it.  

So, after starting the search a second time, I settled on the Verizon Gizmo Pal.  Verizon is the only phone company that has cellular coverage where my parents live, so it seemed like a logical place to start and I was thrilled when we found out that they had recently launched a kid's GPS.

We got one for each of the girls, so that if I ever had to chase after Maggie, Sadie would be able to call her Dad and tell him what was going on.

When the little watch/phone/GPS arrived I tested them out and wrote about it here.  The GPS allowed me to track down Nani and Sadie and tell where they were going during the first test run.

It gave me a measure of peace after that horrible eloping incident.

There were a few changes I would have made to the design of the original GPS.

It wasn't water proof, which is a big problem when you're child thinks she's a mermaid and is plunging her hands (and body) into water every chance that she can get.  And one our trip home from California she managed to yank the little button that held the clasp together out, and it was never found again.

A look at the app that tells location.
And a look at Maggie's
super scary journey last summer.
We replaced the button with a flat screw used in horse bridles (thank you Grumpa), and then, when she figured that out (I found her one day with a screw driver she somehow managed to steal and the screw opened), I found that a zip tie through the two hole closures worked perfectly and that it was entirely Maggie proof.  

I thought we'd have to replace the zip tie daily, to take the bracelet off for her bath, but found instead that she could squish her little hand and let me pull the GPS off at bath time and then she'd slide her little hand back in after with only a little difficulty.

This meant that she could likely get it on and off on her own, however by then it had become a part of what she had decided she wanted to wear, and if I tried to convince her to take it off to charge when she wasn't in the bath, hysterical tears would follow, so I was fairly confident that she'd keep it on.

And she has for the last few months.

However after a trip to Occupational Therapy that I believe involved playing with bubbles in the sink, the button that controls the GPS began to make a squishing sound, and the phone would randomly turn on and off, and call me all on its own, dozens of times a day.  The non-water-proof-ness of the phone had finally caught up with it.

I looked online and saw that the GizmoPal 1 was a thing of the past. There was a new model.

The GizmoPal 2 is water proof.  And it has a clasp like a regular watch, which seems sturdier than the button that Maggie pulled off (although securing it could be a problem if a child didn't want to keep it on, and it doesn't have the double holes in the wrist band that made it so easy to zip tie the previous model).

The only downside that I could see was that it was a bit bigger than the original model.  For reference I snapped this picture, which shows that it's slightly larger than the Fitbit Surge I got for my birthday last year.  However the size didn't seem to bother either of our girls:

After letting Sadie pick out the sticker cover for hers, and carefully selecting the one that I thought Maggie would like the best, I presented her with her "mermaid bracelet."

She let me put it on. She carefully examined the clasp.  And then she kissed it six times.

After that she tried to press on the black screen in the middle of her new phone to call me.  I showed her two times how to press the phone button so she would know how to call me.

In the half hour that followed she demonstrated that she'd understood by calling me a half dozen times from her bed and from the top of the stairs where she was lining up silk flowers she'd found in the craft closet.

The sound quality of the new phone also seems much clearer than the previous model and after testing out the GPS I found that it repeatedly found the girls' locations after 12-13 seconds.

The old phones generally took about 30 seconds.
The app does explain that location can take up to three minutes, although it's rare that it's taken over a minute when I've used it to check to make sure that everyone is where they're supposed to be.

This morning after I ran Maggie's bubble bath I told her that she could get in and she stopped and gave me a funny look and held out her wrist to let me take her watch off.  When she was done she happily put it back on, saying "mermaid watch" in her sweet little voice.

I only hope that this one lasts as long as the last one did.  Maggie is hard on her clothes, hard on her toys and yes, hard on her GPS watch and her Alert Me Band bracelet.  If we get 10 months out of it I'll be happy.

If it lasts for over a year, which I suspect it may since it's water proof, I'll be thrilled.

And in James and Patch news, the boys have claimed the old watches, which no longer make calls but still make silly little sounds, and have been playing with them for the last hour, entirely amused.  

I wasn't compensated in any way for this post!  The watches were purchased.  It's just a product that has made me feel safer and so I wanted to share for any other parents out there considering the various GPS options for kids who wander.