Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our five kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Burnout

"Burnout" is what I'm anticipating the week before Christmas. Here's a link to the play schedule. Take a look at the last week of the play! Oh....My....GAWD!!! Ok, I knew this before, but I didn't really PAY ATTENTION to it. (there is a huge difference, by the way.) I'm just getting over this horrible cold I've had all week, but I know...by looking at the schedule...that I'm going to be praying for good health that week before Christmas. My tendency is to get run down, which is how I get sick. So, here's to EXCELLENT HEALTH the ENTIRE month of December! LOL

No, I need to go find some fun stuff to write about. Nobody had any questions for me, so I have to come up with my own material. LOL This morning I told Angela we need to get going on her blog, and she promptly disappeared. LOL

Hey, go vote for my kid!

One of my bloggy friends has an incredibly talented husband! Seriously, look around on his blog at some of his artwork! Anyway, he's putting together a calendar, with the drawings based on photos submitted of kids who have DS. Angela (number 18 when you get there) could use some votes! So, what are you waiting for? GO VOTE HERE!

Friday, November 28, 2008

HOM furniture...will it ever end?

Warning, this post is of the whining variety. Yes, I'm very thankful for what we have, and what we have the ability to have, and understand that in the current economy ANYONE is at risk of loosing it all in a heartbeat. But still....I'm irritated....

You may remember my posts about HOM furniture, and the issues we were having with them. Well, let me tell you the latest....

First, we received a full refund for the entertainment center, but hadn't been able to find anything to replace it. We paid over $2,500 for this thing, and bought the TV afterward. We picked THIS entertainment center because it could be completely closed, protecting the expensive electronics it held from flying remotes when Angela gets into a mood. We were also able to lock it so that she couldn't open it if we didn't want her to. Since HOM didn't have anything else that suited our needs (that we could close and lock and hold the huge TV we bought to go on the other one), and after MUCH negotiation, they gave us our refund.

But there was still the issue of the leather sectional, which we also paid over $2500 for. Both Dean and I loved our sectional, but we didn't like the defects! So HOM agreed to send us "replacement pieces" for the sectional. The sectional had one love seat, and one chair that were defective. (the color was peeling off the piping on the seams. The rest of the couch was dyed leather, as ALL the parts were supposed to be. But the piping was painted vynly instead) When they say "replacement pieces", what does that mean to you? To me it meant they were going to replace those two pieces of the sectional. BUT I WAS SO WRONG! When the tech showed up in September, he arrived with two COVERS that he was going to sew onto the couch. Yeah, they were new leather COVERS...the he would sit in my living room and SEW ON to the couch! Ummmmm NOT HAPPENING! I am not dumb enough to believe that this couch would EVER be the same again.

We spent THREE months dealing with HOM again, but they would not budge. They would not give us a refund on the couch, instead offering us a store credit. So three weeks ago Dean and I went to pick out a new couch. I don't know if they really didn't have anything I liked, or if I was just determined to not like anything in the store. It's all crap in my mind. Anyway, Dean found a sofa/loveseat/ottoman that he liked. It's ok. We had about $400 left over so went looking through the store to figure out what else we could buy. Well, the following week everything in the store went BIG sale, so we went back and had the price dropped significantly, leaving us enough to also get an entertainment console for under the TV (still bums me out that we can't get what we really NEED for the tv) with a few dollars left so Dean picked out a couple accsent candles. LOL

We weren't expecting anything to be delivered until Dec. 14th, but they called the day before Thanksgiving to say they could come today. So they arrive, and one of the guys was really quite annoying. He asked why they were picking up the sectional, "What's wrong with it?" he asked? I showed him where the color was peeling off it. "Oh, that'll happen with heavy usage." HEAVY USAGE? This stuff started peeling TWO MONTHS after we got it! Then he commented on "yeah, if you don't spend the money on the good stuff, that's what happens." Ok...this is just a delivery guy right?

They bring in the couch, and I hate it. It is exactly what we ordered, so they got that right. I just hate it because I really liked our sectional. Not only that, but we decorated around the color of our sectional (that was kind of a cherry brown), and this one is very much the wrong color for what we've done in the living room.....sigh.....But, it doesn't have any defects that we can see, so that's good, right? Be thankful Leah, just be thankful.

Then they bring in the enterainment console. They barely had it unwrapped from the plastic and I can see two problems with it. First, there is a big (3-4 inches) scratch across the top of it that someone has tried to cover with a TOTALLY different collor stain! (like, this is light brown and they used something close to BLACK) and then there's a nick off the front that they tried to cover with yet another color. I then checked all the doors and see that where they have GOOPED on stain, it's already flaking off, and once one of the doors is closed a couple of times it's going to have big chips in it.

We had the delivery guys take the console back, and since it's in stock a different one will be delivered tomorrow. The annoying guy *almost* had me speak my mind to him when he made more comments. I'm going to talk to customer service about this, because it was totally uncalled for by one of their DELIVERY guys. I'm so disgusted with the furniture industry as a whole right now. But he is right though, we're buying CRAP, yet paying a lot of money for it! I'd love to find a store that sells decent stuff. There are a couple, but we'll be spending significantly more than the $6,000 we spent for crap.

By the way, if you're in MN, all the stores (Schneidermans, HOM, Becker, Slumberland) order from the SAME companies and the same catalogs. We know...we've been in every one of them and looked through all their catalogs! So don't think you're going to see something in one store that you won't see in another. They only difference you MIGHT find is the price, and if you tell them that Store A will sell it to you for $x, you're likely to get the price down even more. But again, the stuff is all crap. You're better off to find some amish guy to build you from 100% wood (no laminate, no filler, no but solid wood!) and get it exactly the way you want.
As for us, we're still looking for that Amish guy.
*edited to add*: This post gets A LOT of traffic from google searches. If you've also bought from HOM furniture, and had problems, please leave a comment! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lumps

Oh, another quick post. Last night Tyler was here to sell me stuff (another post for when I'm feeling better). While he was sitting next to me, he turned his head to say something to Dean, and that's when I saw it. A HUGE lump on the side of his neck, right behind the tendon that runs along the neck to shoulder. I couldn't take my eyes off it. As soon as I had a chance, I felt it. ROCK HARD! I know it's a lymph node, but it is ROCK HARD. He says he has another one like that on the back of his knee. They're not sore or swollen...just HUGE and ROCK HARD! The one on his neck is AT LEAST the size of a golf ball. UGH! He has to get into the doctor and get checked out. No health insurance...nothing....ugh!

So, if you could please pray for this little development, I would sure appreciate it. In the meantime, I'm going to pretend to not worry about it.

Greetings

A few days ago I started coming down with the cast cold. This is the cold that is started by one cast member, and through the course of the run is passed to everyone else in the cast. Now, it's my turn. It's just a bad cold, but man...I feel miserable!

So, this morning Angela got up at 6:00 (yeah, and on her own even!) ate breakfast, took a shower (where's my "gasp" emoticon?) got dressed and left for school. All the while, all I could think about was crawling back into bed as soon as she left.

And then I looked at my calendar.

Today is my turn to be "door greeter" at the middle school. You know, the person who makes sure nobody enters the building without signing in, gives them directions (I haven't a clue, really, how this school is laid out. LOL)I signed up for this months ago. It's only an hour and 15 minutes. I should be able to handle that, right? I promise to cover my face for all sneezes and coughs, which are plentiful right now. I might even put on make-up, just so I look semi-human, although at the moment I barely have the energy to find clothes, much less put on make-up. So, 2 1/2 hours from now I can crawl back into bed. I can hardly wait!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Opening Night

I'm sitting here, with a very old face! You see, I have to age myself for my role in the play. I wonder if this is what I'll look like in 40 years? Since my skin now looks like I've been smoking for 100 years, I doubt it. LOL

I've managed to get my make-up routing down to an hour and a half. I'm getting better and better at making my face look realistic. It's a long process..

Step 1) Cleanse my skin of all oils/make-up
Step 2) WHILE STRETCHING THE SKIN WITH ONE HAND...use the other hand to paint liquid latex on my eye lids, then blow dry with HOT dryer, then powder. I learned the hard way that I have to powder BEFORE releasing the stretched skin! If you do that, the skin sticks to itself, and I've been stuck with my eyelid folded in half. LOL

Step 3) step two on other eye lid, then lower eye/crowfoot area.

Step 4) Use spirit gum to adhere facial mole or wart to face. Today it's in the crease between my nose and cheek, and has a hair sticking out of it. Lovely!

Step 5) Paint spirit gum on labial folds, tapping with one finger until tacky.

Step 6) QUICKLY (before spirit gum dries) repeat on labial folds (those would be the ones from your nose to your mouth.) STRETCH FACE AS FAR AS POSSIBLE OR I WON'T GET GOOD WRINKLES!

Step 7) Repeat for other side of face.

Step 8) Repeat on forhead/bridge of nose.

DO NOT get liquid latex in eyelashes, eyebrows, or let any of your hair fall into the latex while you're drying it. If you do, plan on loosing that hair/eyelashes, or eyebrows.

Step 9) The powder I'm putting on is custom mixed (by me) to my skin color. Now that my faces is sufficiently stretched and wrinkled, I have to touch up all the makeup.

Step 10) add eyeliner.

step 11) color lips a natural color. I haven't tried wrinkling my lips yet, and don't think I'm going to!

Now my face is done. I wish I had a camera so I could take pictures of the process! Since I can't, here's a link to a site that shows the process. http://sapsema.org/broadbnd.html This man is older than me, so he's able to get better wrinkles than I am with the latex. Mine are mostly around my eyes and mouth, with a sort of leathery/weathered look to my cheek area and forehead.

Once this is done, eating is tough, since opening my mouth a lot makes the latex stretch and I start to loose wrinkles. So I start this at 3:00, and performance isn't done till around 9:00, and then I have to wait till I'm out of costume. It's often 10:00 before I can think about eating anything, and by then I'm STARVING!

Well, gotta run to opening night!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Do you "do" theater?

If there is a community theater near you, have you gone to see one of their shows? Community theaters often have some of the best actors around, and also allows those who've always wanted to try it but were afraid to, a chance!

The holiday season will find community theaters doing all kinds of amazing productions, with directors saving their best tricks for these shows! Seats are much cheaper than big stage productions (usually somewhere around $15-$20). Going to a show is a great holiday tradition to start with your family! Years ago, every year for Christmas my parents would bring us all the a local theater. (It happens to be an expensive one, which is supposed to be code for very high quality acting. ) I LOVED doing this, and always wanted to be on that stage.

In high school I was far too shy, and far too unpopular to try out for any of the plays. Finally, when I was 27 I did my first show. I WAS HOOKED! Not only did I have the guts to audition, but I got the lead! And then I got the lead in the next 3 productions I was in as well! I went several years where I just didn't have the time to do any plays, and then one day I heard there were auditions being held for "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." The best part? They were less than a block from my house! I played several roles in that play: One of the wives, an egyptian dancer (in the jail scene), and a shepard. I loved doing that play, but then again, musicals are my favorites!

Angela's favorites are the musicals, but she really loves to watch all plays. When I did Seussical last year she came to over 1/2 the rehearsals with me, and by performance time knew ALL the music, and ALL the lines. During breaks or after rehearsal she could often be found on the stage doing her favorite parts. (By the way, if Seussical ever shows near you, the music is WONDERFUL and every director has a different but very intresting interpretation of the script. It's a fantastic family show!)

So look up your local community theater, and see what's on stage this holiday season!

busy busy busy

Wow, life is REALLY busy right now! This week is "tech week" for the play. Saturday and Sunday were full-day rehearsals as we got all the lighting cues worked out. Last night was our first rehearsal in costume, and tonight is full-dress. Meaning make-up, costumes, everything. It's like the real thing. Tomorrow's rehearsal is open to friends and family, and Thursday's rehearsal is open to some senior group. Friday is opening night.

Although we didn't have to be in make-up last night, I was. You see, I play an crabby old lady, which means I have to do a lot of prep work to my face. The director also wanted me to mess around with a wart on my face, so yesterday I was in full make-up.

Yesterday morning I went shopping for make-up to make me wrinkle and age. Once I'd paid for the necessary supplies I felt like a kid who'd just gotten a new toy and couldn't wait to get home to play with it! It takes about an hour and a half to age my face and then put make-up over the top of it. AND, if your skin is still young and has good cologen, it's tough to get good wrinkles! Yesterday I discovered that my face is still in great shape! But, by the time I finished I looked like I'd been smoking for a hundred years. LOL The first time I did it, I fiddled with the laytex too much and it started peeling off, so I had to peel my entire face and start over. OUCH! The latex hurts coming off (especially the eyelids.) if you don't use spirit gum remover.

The director really liked how I did my make-up, and particularly my warts! But during last night's rehearsal I did discover I need to attach my warts differently, as one of them started coming off and threatened to make it's escape during the street scene. LOL The little girl who plays opposite me doesn't really like to make eye-contact with people, but it's really important for this scene, so last night I told her, "Ok, tonight you have to look at my warts, and tomorrow night you have to FIND the wart, cuz it's going to be in a different place!"

Yep, the director and I decided to have some fun with this a little bit, and have a "traveling" wart. The kids get to guess where the wart is going to be each night. LOL This ought to prove interesting with 24 performances! (I listed 19 the other day, but forgot we have several days that have double performances. Wow...it's a long run!)

This morning I have one eyelid that is pretty puffy from the make-up removers and stuff. I got some in my eye last night and ended up going to bed with a cold compress on my eyes so they'd stop watering and hopefully not swell. Right about now I'm thinking of going back to bed for a bit this morning, then I have to go weigh in at Jenny Craig (I'm still loosing!) so I can come home and start the transformation process again. If I can get my video camera charted and set up in a good spot I'll try to take some still shots of the process.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Virginia!


Several weeks ago I received an email from my friend Sue. She was the director of "Seussical". Remember the play that my dogs were in last year? Dudley and Zurri shared the role of "Max", the Grinch's dog.

Anyway, Sue emailed to see if I had a dog for her upcoming production of "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Clause". Only she wanted a small dog. The script calls for a cat, but cat's don't do live theater very well! We decided to give Roman a try, and so far, he's been working out great.

Roman is my red Miniature Poodle, who happens to be quite scruffy looking right now, since he's supposed to be playing the part of a stray dog. There was one character in the original movie that is not included in the play, and Sue decided that character, "The Veggie Lady" (I don't know if that's what she's really called, or if it's just what we call her." ) needed to be part of the play, and that I should play her.

The Veggie lady is mean, wicked person who is only on stage for about 2 minutes, with a total of 6 lines. While managing the dog for the performance this is about as much a role as I can handle.

If you've never done live theater before, it's quite a time commitment. Because I was only doing the dog handling, and he didn't have lines to remember, AND I just started the veggie lady last week, I've only been to less than half the rehearsals. Normally its 4-5 nights per week, plus Saturdays. However, the last 2 weeks are even more rigorous! This week we're rehearsing every single night, all day Saturday and Sunday.

Next week is Tech weeks. That's where all the technical stuff like lights, sound, music, etc is all ironed out in preparation for opening night. Problems with costumes are fixed, make-up is perfected, and props are put in place. Monday those few who've never done theater before will learn to put on stage make-up. Tuesday is our first FULL dress rehearsal, with a repeat on Wednesday. Thursday is a dress rehearsal, but we're open to friends and family.

THE night...opening night, is Friday the 21st. We have 19 performances between Nov. 21 and Dec. 21. Most are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with a few Thursday performances thrown in there too. It's a long haul, and can only be done with the support of family members who aren't in the play to keep the ship at home afloat. For parents, it's arduous, trying to get kids back and forth. For adults in the play who have kids...well...lets just say it gets sticky!

I absolutely LOVE doing theater. My favorite is musicals, because the energy that comes from the cast just does something to you. It's kind of like an adrenaline rush, and is rather addictive. I know some people who do play, after play, after play, and others who are starting rehearsals for a new play while they're PERFORMING in another! (ok, clearly they don't have little kids at home!) Someday I might be able to do that. For now, it's one play at a time, and really one play PER YEAR for me! Ok, maybe two...or...

How Did I Miss the Signs?

Oh man, I came home from play rehearsal tonight feeling like a HEEL!!! (for more about the play, see the next post.)

During the closing scene, there is freeze scene. That means the entire cast is frozen so the audience eyes will move to the very last event....and then the lights go down.

During the freeze scene, I'm in a group with one other woman and 5 or 6 kids. We're kind of huddled in a group talking, then the music change is our cue to freeze. There is one young man...I think he's about 10 or so...who just cannot do it. I'll call him Jack. Jack can't freeze. Jack can't stop wiggling. I talked to him a couple times about what "freeze" means, and that no matter what, he's not supposed to look at what's happening on the other part of the stage. The kid is 10, he should be able to do this. Instead it's like he can't NOT look.

How stupid I am.

Tonight at rehearsal I was sitting backstage with Roman (one of my dogs who was also in the play), sitting in the silence that is the world of "backstage", when I heard this high-pitched squeaking noise. Just one sqeak. Quick. Quiet. Stifled sounding. I doubt anyone else would have heard it, but I recognized it for what it was instantly.

 I wasn't sure where the squeak came from. There was one adult cast member sitting near me, and in the corner about 10 ft away sat Jack. The second I saw Jack, I knew I was right, but I watched him a minute to be sure. As he sat in the semi-darkness with his eyes focused on something in his hand, it was clear as a bell. The eyebrows moving, the grimace, his leg jerking just slightly, him clenching his lips together. It was all very subtle, so much so that nobody else would have seen it, bit it was oh-so-familiar to me.

Within 10 seconds of watching I was 100% sure of what I saw. I knew it without a doubt, and instantly I felt horrible. Not because I knew, but because I was so wrong on stage! And, I knew that since it was so apparent, Jack would know exactly what I was talking about.

I crossed the room and sat in the chair next to him. "Do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"Sure" he said.

"Have you ever heard of something called Tourette Syndrome?"

His eyes got very big, and he looked at me and said, "I HAVE Tourettes!"

"Yes, I know. I could tell. But don't worry...other people wouldn't be able to tell. I can tell because my son has Tourette Syndrome, and...if you watch my face really close, you might see some of my tics as well. I don't have Tourettes, but I have a tic disorder that's very similar to it."

Jack was very quiet. I could tell he wasn't sure if I was for real or not. I asked him, "What's the one tic that bugs you the most?"

"I have this high pitched squeak. I can't hide it, and it comes out whenever it's really quiet."

Poor kid. Backstage has got to be hell for him. But man, I give him credit! He's taken what could be the most difficult situation in the world for a person with TS, and embraced it. "My son had a squeal, only his was REALLY loud, and the more excited he got, the more he did it."

An hour passed. Time for the closing scene. I kept my eye on Jack, not because I wanted to make him stand still, but because I wanted to watch him through new eyes. Finally I saw what he did to cope. There is one boy who ALWAYS stands right next to Jack on stage. They must be very good friends, and he must know about Jack. During the freeze scene, Jack had his hand on the other boy's elbow, and was rhythmically squeezing it in a way nobody else could see. The other boy gave no reaction. This squeezing is a way for Jack to release the tic that's trying to escape from him in a way that is less visible. He still had trouble standing still, but knowing what I know now, I'm so incredibly impressed. He did an AMAZING job!!! After the scene the other adult we stand with started to say something to him. I caught her eye, and gave her a look that said, "don't...not now..." Later backstage I told her, "Don't worry. He's NOT able to stand still...he's as still as he can be. He's doing GREAT!" I didn't want to tell her about Jack, because it's really not my place to do so if it's something he's keeping a secret.

For all the Jack's out there, who might be reading. If ever someone gives you a hard time because you're ticking, but they don't know that, try your hardest to not be afraid to tell them. Remember, with knowledge comes compassion and understanding.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Angela has a blog!

Awhile ago I started a blog for Angela, hoping to get her excited about writing. Yeah, didn't work so good. Well, now she's FINALLY developed an interest in her Clicker 5 program, and loves to write something, then tell me to "Have a look!"

So, I'm going to start posting them on her blog, in the hopes that reader comments (hint) will encourage her to write more!

Here's a link to "It's MY life Mom!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Question of the day

Tricia asked: First, how is Angela feeling? Second, as a mom to a one year old with Down syndrome, I would like to know what kind of advice would you give? Angela just amazes me at everything she has accomplished. She's such a beautiful young lady, and an amazing athelete. You seem to have so much knowledge, and I enjoy reading and learning from your blog and posts at downsyn... so now, can you teach me more?

Thanks for Asking how Angela is doing. She was able to go back to school today, and since I didn't hear anything I'm assuming everything went just fine. She came home talking about the masks they're making in Art class. (remember Art? The class she HATED last year?) Tonight Dean was asking her questions about it, when she finally said, in an exasperated voice, "Dean, you'll see it tomorrow when I bring it home!" I guess she's getting back to her old self. LOL

The best advice I can give you is to never ever let anyone tell you your child can't do something. You, as the mother, know your child better than anyone. Trust your gut. Remember too that sometimes learning comes from failure. You have to allow your child to fall sometimes in order for them to succeed. This has been the hardest part for me to get school staff to see sometimes. That she will learn from peer pressure, she will learn from her mistakes (hopefully. LOL) BUT, that said, don't be afraid to advocate for your child when you know more is being asked of him than you know he's capable of. Setting a child up for failure isn't a good thing either. Parenting a child with Down Syndrome, or any other disability, is a very delicate and difficult to learn dance. But the end result will astound you.

By far the most difficult things for me to deal with while parenting Angela has been her behavioral challenges. There is no one technique that works with every kid, and many times over the years Angela's behavior has stumped even the behavior specialists. It's also the area I've had to do the most advocating for her. Both in the positive and negative. Sometimes, in order for Angela to have a positive experience in a situation, I've had to be very blunt about what COULD happen if people don't paying attention, while at the same time telling them "No, really, she can DO this!!! Just give her the chance!"

Somewhere on my blog is a post I made about a year ago. Someone asked me about keeping Angela involved in activities. When my boys were younger, I let them try whatever they wanted to try, even if I had to drive a long way to do it. (hey, where we used to live just going to the grocery store was 30 minutes one way.) If they didn't like something that was fine, but they had to finish out the season. Then they just didn't sign up for that thing again next time around. With Angela, I try to find things that I KNOW will interest her. Acting is right up her ally, since she spends so much time re-enacting all the shows she likes to watch, or the events of her day. This is her second year of SOS Players and she loves every minute of it. This is how I approach everything with her. Angela is a kid who DEMANDS independence, and I love getting her involved in these things where she IS independent, and I'm just one of the moms, sitting back and watching instead of hovering.



blogging material

Me...the woman who always has something to say about everything, has run out of things to say! So, I'm going to open the blog up to questions.

Here's the rules. You can ask anything. Most of you already know I'm an open book. LOL Oh, and I will not answer questions asked by anonymous posters.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Plague has struck our house

Well, Angela is the only one with it, but still! She got sick about a week and a half ago...maybe even two weeks. She didn't have any cold symptoms (as in no runny or stuffed up nose. No water eyes. None of that type of stuff.) all she had was this horrible cough. I brought her into the pediatrician on Monday and we decided to just keep doing nebs as we've been doing. (nebs, for those who are new, refers to nebulizer treatments, which is a mini air compressor that connects to a small chamber w/mask set up, allowing the person to breathe medicated air. This is used for people with asthma, Reactive airway disease (RAD) and other respiratory problems.) And, it was also decided we'd keep her on preventative neb treatments at least once per day for the rest of the winter...which would be about April 1st or so. Doggone it! This adds about 15 minutes to our morning routine. Bummer dude!

So Monday she stayed home, Tues-Friday she went to school, with her HORRIBLE cough unchanging all week. I'd resigned myself to the fact she would have this cough all winter. However, by the time she came home Friday she was REALLY run down, and by late afternoon had DARK circles around her eyes, and at 5:30...you know, after the doctor's office closed for the weekend...she started complaining of hip pain again, and VIOLA, was running a fever. I called the ped. and we put her on meds for a UTI again, as it was the same symptoms she had 6 weeks or so ago when she got REALLY sick with a UTI.

Saturday we had the bowling tournament, and while she was tired, and clearly didn't look very well, she wasn't acting sick. Just the cough. You know, the one I was convinced she'd have all winter. We went from bowling to a baby shower, and from the baby shower to a movie with her buddy Adam. About 1/2 way through the movie she started coughing A LOT and I was sure I'd have to remove her. Usually when she starts coughing like that she also starts wretching. If you're not used to listenting to that awful noise, it sounds like she's going to vomit, which wouldn't have been a very comforting sound for the people sitting in front of her at the theater.

Sunday was bad. She didn't get off the couch all day. She just wanted a pillow and blanket, and dozed off an on. I spent all day debating about bringing her in, but other than the cough and being tired, I didn't have anything else to base my decision on. My gut instinct said she had pneumonia, but the other 1/2 of me said we could hold out till this morning when I could call our regular dr, so that's what I decided to do.

That was, until 1:00 this morning when Angela woke up coughing so bad and couldn't catch her breath. I went into her room and watched her lips and lower part of her cheeks to purple-ish blue while she was coughing. And then the wretching would start because she was bringing up so much "stuff" from her lungs. And then there was the 101* fever to consider. I knew she had pneumonia. However, I hate going to the ER in the middle of the night (through THE WORST neighborhood in all of Minnesota.) only to be told to give her more nebs and call our regular dr. in the morning. No...I needed more symptoms in order to make my decision.

I had no idea where my stethoscope was, so I did my "Lord help my find ......." prayer, and they were in the very next place I looked. (In the dog cabinet from the last time we had puppies and I was trying to hear heartbeats in utero, but I digress. ) I went online and found .wav files of breath sounds, and compared them to what I was hearing in Angela. I was pretty sure I was hearing a crackle in her upper right lung, but I'm not a doctor, so I decided enough was enough, and I was bringing her into the ER.

We got there about 1:30. During triage her oxygen sats were bouncing between 90-92. Within 15 minutes of walking in the door we were seen by the resident. A tiny little chinese girl who looked to be about 12. Angela loved the girl's name. Anyway, she listened to her chest, and did the usual exam stuff, then announced, "Well, her lungs sound great, and her oxygen sats were fine. I'm just going to order an oral steroid to help the nebs a bit and then you can go home."

I was thinking maybe I'd sat with the wrong kid in the triage area. But whatever, at least we were going to get home quickly, something unheard of when visiting the ER at Children's hospital.

About 10 minutes later, as we were waiting for these magic steroids to be delivered, the ATTENDING physician came in. That means she's a real doctor and over sees all the kid doctors who are still in their residency. She asked me, "So, what's different tonight that made you drive all the way over here in the middle of the night?"

I told her, "Well, we were both awake, so I figured we might as well come over. Oh, and the fact she couldn't catch her breath after coughing, and the fact that I just didn't like how she sounded."

She puts her stethoscope on Angela's chest, and the first thing she says is, "Well, these are clear pneumonia sounds on this side. She's crackling. The rest of her sounds ok, but I want a chest xray, and her oxygen sats were on the low side so I really want to see how bad the pneumonia is."

Hmmm...interesting...the little 12 year old doctor said she sounded fine. I guess I should get my medical degree now, because I can compare real breath sounds to those I found on the internet. Tong Wi, on the other hand, needs to take the same course I did.

Poor Angela. I should have brought her into the regular doctor for a chest xray earlier in the week. But I bet if I had it wouldn't have shown anything yet. I think that's the worst part about being a mom. (then add to it being a mom to a kid who's medically fragile. ) is making those judgement calls, deciding the difference between being sick and being really sick. And the difference between "she's really sick I'll have to get her into the doctor tomorrow." and "she's really sick we need to g0 to the ER now." My sense of urgency has been warped by my years of being a mom to kids who got sick all the time, which makes me tend to put off a trip to the ER a little too long.

Oh well. She's on strong antibiotics now. Two of them actually! The one started Friday for her UTI, and a new one for the pneumonia, plus that magic steriod pill. All of that on top of the 5 other meds she takes every day. I knew I should have bought stock in CVS. And now, it's time for me to get some sleep. We got home from the ER at 5:00 a.m, and had a meeting here at 9, and another at 2:30. I've been up for almost 24 hours, and my head is going to land on the keyboard soon!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Wheres my camera when I need it?

Today was the state Special Olympics bowling tournament, AND...Angela got to bowl! She was able to pull herself together enough to not only make it through two games and the mayhem that is called "getting awards", but she made it through a baby shower too! LOL

Angela was so very excited to be using her brand new ball. You'll never believe how tiny the finger holes are in this thing. The guy who drilled them said they were the smallest holes they make. I can't even get my fingertips into them. LOL

Angela ended up getting 3rd place in her division. If she hadn't fouled FOUR times, she probably would have gotten 1st or 2nd. I tried to explain the foul line to her, but she just gave me the "talk to the hand" sign and walked away. (and she was down in the bowling area where parents aren't allowed to go during tourneys. Little stinker!) So her coach explained it to her, and the very next frame she marched up to the line, and then took a 1/2 step back, and was very careful not to cross it during her celebratory dance either. LOL

I wish I had my camera! Soon though. Soon I'll have a new one and can get back to posting pictures with each post.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Quick Prayers Please!

You may remember back in September when Angela had this mysterious hip pain, which included a high fever. It turned out to be a really bad Urinary Tract Infection. Angela is very susceptable to UTI's, but this was the first time she'd had hip pain, AND this really high fever with it.

Usually when she has a UTI, her first symptoms are bed wetting. Now, most people would think that would be my clue to take the kid in for a Urinalysis. (UA) However, I've learned over the years that if we have it done to early, it comes up clear. And so we wait until there has been two weeks of bedwetting, which means I spend a lot of time laundering bedding!!!

Her next symptom of illness is becoming extremely aggressive. Usually if this happens, within 2 days she'll be in the doctor's office with some kind of illness requiring antibiotics. However, the bedwetting and the aggression don't always go hand in hand.

Well, two or three days ago she started wetting the bed again, but I attributed it to the weird sleep pattern she's now in because she's on prednisone for a respiratory infection. Silly me. A WEEK ago she became really aggressive, but I attributed THAT to the respiratory infection the has which is why she's on the prednisone. So, when she got REALLY aggressive yesterday (I'm talking I the "I wish our windows were plexi-glass and that there was a way to protect the plasma TV" kind of aggression), I thought it was from the prednisone, as irritability is one of the side effects. I know...I know..much easier to see the problem from outside the box, isn't it?

So, this afternoon we went to pick up her new glasses, and we had just stepped across the threshhold of the store when she DEMANDED someone show her where the bathroom is....NOW! So we make our way through the basement of the store, through their storage room, and into this teeny tiny bathroom, where she starts sobbing and says, "Oh mom! My hip hurts!"

If you know Angela well, you know she never cries real tears, and if she does you'd better be calling an ambulance or something! So here she sat, sobbing away, and white as a sheet. Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!!!!

We get home, but now it's 5:30, too late to get her into the doctor's office. I called the answering service and was lucky to find that our ped. is the one on call tonight. She called in an order for an antibiotic. THANK GOODNESS!

So the prayers? Angela has her state Special Olympics bowling tournament tomorrow!! Oh man, she can't miss this! Please pray that the antibiotics kick in quickly. They usually do, but I don't remember them working overnight!

Listen to HIM!

Does this ever happen to you? You're driving along (because I'm almost always driving when this happens) minding your own business, when someone comes to mind who you either haven't thought of in a long time, or you're really surprised THAT person has come to mind. If this happens to you, stop...say a prayer for that person...and ask God, "What? What do you want me to do?"

For whatever reason, that person needs prayer at that moment, and God wants YOU to be the one praying. Don't bother asking why, just do it. But there might be more God wants you to do. Maybe you need to call them. Maybe you know something that person needs to know? At that moment, only God knows what's going on, so just trust him and DO IT!

This happens to me...oh...I'd say about once or twice a year, and it's always someone from some obscure time in my life. Last week it happened to me again. I really felt led to find a person who'd worked with our family several years ago. I knew this she was no longer in the position they'd had with our family, but Google does wonderful things. Within a few minutes I was able to locate her in another state, and send off an email just to verify she was the person I was looking for. In the meantime, I typed up an email and left it in my "drafts" folder, just waiting to be sent.

She contacted me this morning, and I sent off the saved email. I'm so glad I listened to God! I heard back from her within a few hours, confirming that yes...at this time in her life...this was just what she needed. I told her some things that confirmed something for her. Weather in her own life or her professional life is not for me to know. I just know I did what I was supposed to do!

I wish I was at liberty to share her entire reply, but I can't. I will, however, share this one statement (I hope she doesn't mind!): "Your instincts were correct, I needed this letter. It is a gift to restore me. I thank you from my heart! Leah your timing is incredible. Please know you have helped me."

All I can say is, no, my timing has always been pretty crappy. But His? His is PERFECT!




Today's smile maker

Do you ever feel like your kids are making you run in too many directions at once? Go watch this video, then picture the mom and dad in about 2 weeks, when these skills have been perfected!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

It's almost here...winter

It's going to be winter soon. Do you feel it where you are? On Monday it was crazy warm here, 73 degrees which tied some old record. Here in Minnesota, you don't get 73 degree days in November. And what did I do with that warm weather? Well, go for a ride, of course! It was warm, and sunny, with the scents of fall filling my nose as I ran all my errands on Nooner. (formerly known as Red.)

Nooner is my friend who helps me solve the problems in my world. Well, he doesn't do it, but he does bring me closer to HIM, who DOES! Some people go for prayer walks, or hikes. Not me, I go for prayer rides.

I'm so glad I decided to get my own bike, so I don't have to wait for Dean to ride with me. Dean likes to ride, but he doesn't itch for it like I do. On beautiful days when I'm driving around in my Tahoe, I notice every bike on the road, and my stomach twists just a little bit tighter, reminding me that I should be out there too, not trapped in this steel cage that is my truck. Whenever I see them, instinct tells me to give them "the wave", except that if I'm in my truck and I do that they won't understand. So instead I just stare...and try not to drool.

Just like having Angela has lead me to people I never would have met otherwise, the same is true for Nooner. People seem to be fascinated by a woman on a bike. Little kids stare and point. Men look as I go by, with a "I wish my wife would do that.", or the "Now there's a pround woman." kind of look. But the look I like best happens at stop lights. It's from the women who are in their 40's or so. You can see their eyes sayng, "I wish I had the guts to do that!". Ok, I know they're probably REALLY thinking something along the lines of "Ugh! Those things are so annoying! I can't hear my cell phone when they're next to me." But I prefer to think the other way. LOL

So, every warm day that passes is one day closer to snow, and one less day of riding. It makes me hate winter even more than I did before!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Voted, did you?

I am so very glad to be putting this election behind us. It's been miserable, hasn't it? I won't miss the phone calls every evening reminding me not only to vote, but who to vote for and why. I think the calls should be illegal. Does anyone actually listen to the whole call? I had a call from the RNC the other day and the guy accidentally ended his sentence with, "So don't forget to check the democtatic...I mean I mean republican candidates."

Mostly, I'm ready to be done with the mud slinging and arguing. In the past 2 weeks I haven't seen ONE commercial that wasn't a negative ad about the other candidate. No more "vote for me because" ads. No, those were done weeks ago. Instead it's the "don't vote for Joe, because Joe is planning to blow up the world next week!" type of ad. UGH!

Sadly, this election has brought out a side of people I never knew existed. I have some pretty passionate online friends, and I've seen them engage in conversations and arguments (they weren't debates, they were arguments!) that were not only shocking, but made me really question the integrity of some of the people. Clearly they've shown only one side of theirselves all the years I've been talking to them, and this election brought out the side they've had tucked away. I can't say that I've seen one single online debate stay nice and on topic. No, they've all been awful.

Today I went to get my hair cut, and was wearing my "I voted" sticker. The young stylist asked me, "So, who did you vote for?" (She's young remember...early 20's tops.) I told her, "You know, I won't even discuss politics with my husband, but I'll gladly discuss religion with you if you'd like!"