Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Yes, I'm Sensitive!

It's Spring. Flowers are blooming. The wind is blowing. And my nose is dripping. Ah, sniff, sniff, spring. If only I could smell your fragrant flowers.

Last night, the family took an hour long walk around the neighborhood. Yes, an hour. Actually, it was two half-hour walks. The first one involved Little Dude riding his bike while I took Furry Dude for a walk. The three of us venture out into the neighborhood a few times a week for a post-dinner stroll/run/skip/hop. And I love it because our neighborhood is actually very active in the evenings. We have neighbors who hang out on their front lawns chatting it up with whoever passes by, people walking their dogs, kids on bikes and a few sweaty joggers.

Of course, last night, the wind was blowing. And blowing. And blowing. I'll admit I didn't really want to go for a walk because I knew the wind would start the evil cycle of allergies. But my boy had some energy to burn, so I squirted Afrin up my nostrils, and sacrificed my ability to breath for my son's happiness. Oh, the things we mothers do for our kids.

By the time we got home, my nose was running like Niagara Falls. I grabbed a box of tissue and proceeded to build a crafty pile of snot rags shaped into the Statue of Liberty. Through my puffy, barely opened eyes, I saw my husband putting on his tennis shoes.

"What are you doing?"

Little Dude intervened. "I want Daddy to go on a walk with us."

"Just Daddy?"

"No, I want you too."

Nuts! So Big Dude, Little Dude, Furry Dude, and I headed out the door. When we returned, I could no longer breath through my nose, my eyes were practically swelled shut, my body hurt from sneezing a thousand times, and I'm pretty sure I had snot and drool all over the front of my shirt.

My wonderful, loving Hubby - who sneezes only a few times a year - thought he was being helpful when he said, "You should take something for that."

I almost pummeled him to death with the Zyrtec bottle I had just swallowed a pill from.

Dog & Driver's License

I love how kids just notice everything around them. My son noticed this rather unusual vehicle the other night and said, "Look! The dog's driving!"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants

A few weeks ago, Little Dude made a new best friend at Preschool. And while I regarded this little vixen with great suspicion at first, she has finally won over my heart.

It all started early last week when Hubby was picking up our son from preschool. He called to tell me that he had met Lily and she and Little Dude were walking around holding hands. "It was so cute," he said.

The next morning as I was chatting with one of the teachers, the subject of best friends coincidentally came up. (And by "coincidentally" I mean I steered the conversation in a direction that naturally led to such a discussion, of course.) So I took the opportunity to ask about my boy's new best friend.

Miss Nikki told me that the two of them were "totally cute" together. She said that they probably liked each other because they were both smart and both were on the same level with their speech (advanced, talking clearly, using big words and long sentences). Then I found out that - gasp! - Lily's an older woman. Yes, she's 4. Oh, the scandal! I'm guessing that Little Dude must have met her on one of the rare occasions when he got to hang out in the 4-year-olds class. (That's a whole other story. The 4-year-olds teacher can't wait to have him in her class but the 3-year-olds teachers don't want him to go!)

Somehow Little Dude and Lily have managed to convince all the teachers to let her stay in the 3s class with him. They sit together. They play together. They eat together. They nap together. They play Power Rangers and Husband-and-Wife together. They have fun together.

Then last Friday I actually got to spend some time with the two of them together. The school was having their annual Easter party complete with a visit from the Easter Bunny. Since I have Good Friday off, I decided to spend a few hours in Little Dude's class.

As soon as I walked in, I spotted my little guy sitting at one of the tables with an adorable little brunette dressed up in a cute little sundress. As soon as she looked up at me and smile, my heart melted.

Little Dude wanted me to sit with him. Lily wanted me to sit with them. Little Dude said he wanted me to stay all day with him. Lily said she wanted me to stay all day with them. When I asked Lily why she wanted me to stay, she said, "Because he [Little Dude] wants you to stay and you're his mom." Wow. The girl knows how to win over a boy's mom.

Lily, Little Dude and Heather

We painted eggs and then it was time to meet the Easter bunny. When Lily saw I had my camera, she quickly put her arm around Little Dude, and they both smiled for the camera. Another point for Lily! After the Easter Bunny visit, we all headed outside for the Easter egg hunt. While all the other kids turned into little Tasmanian Devils and ran off in a hundred different directions (even through I was sure there were less than 20 kids), Little Dude and his best friend hunted for eggs together.

The kids all went back inside to decorate their eggs and I watched as my little guy raced to make sure he got a seat next to Lily. He got really upset when another kid tried to take his chair. Later, during recess, the best friends played with other kids, but they would still call to each other from across the yard: "Red Ranger! Red Ranger!" "Pink Ranger, over here!" (Little Dude has decided that he is the Red Power Ranger and Lily is the Pink Power Ranger.) Adorable. And another point for not excluding other kids!

Lining up to hunt Easter eggs. Notice that Little Dude and Lily are holding hands. Sweet!

When we went back inside for lunch, Lily waited for Little Dude to take his turn washing his hands so that they could sit next to each other at the lunch tables. Sweet! Another point for her thoughtfulness.

Ok, so Lovely Lily has won me over. What a sweetheart. I can see why my little guy thinks the world of her. I'm sure he'll have his heart broken when she leaves for Kindergarten next year while he's still in Pre-K. But that's still months away. In the meantime, he's enjoying his new best friend.

Of course, I wonder what her parents must think of all this?

Friday, April 15, 2011

"God Made Poop!"

Most people never have the opportunity to combine theology with gastrointestinal issues. But nothing is off-limits in our family! So when I found myself telling my son last night that "God made poop," I realized our family had yet again wandered into exotic dialogue.

I haven’t seen an official poll, but I’m pretty sure that conversations about poop are not uncommon for households with little children. Of course, our household probably has an above-average amount of poo-related chats. Since he started eating solids at six months old, Little Dude has had an uncomfortably chronic digestive issue. So yes, we talk crap. And now that he’s almost four-years-old, the bathroom banter has become a little too common. There have even been a few times where I’ve had to stop the little guy – or even myself – from sharing too much information with people outside our family.

Another frequent discussion in our house is much more sacred. Little Dude loves going to church and prays to Jesus every night. He has a question about God almost every day. Where is God? Where does He live? Can I go visit Him in heaven?

It was inevitable that two of the most common conversations in our home would eventually collide and create a divine comedy!

It finally happened last night. Little Dude and I were having a lavatorial tête-à-tête on our way home from his cousin’s house. During the play date, my precious little boy thought he needed to use the potty. However, after an unsuccessful attempt, he informed us all, “I can only go poopy at home.”

Yes, this was going to be a problem.

So in the car, I was trying to reassure my son that it’s ok to use the potty at Auntie’s house or school or church or anywhere for Numero Dos. That led to a discussion about why he needs to go #2 (i.e. so his tummy doesn’t hurt, so he can have more room in his tummy for all the yummy food he likes, etc.). After a lengthy Why?inquisition from the back seat, I found myself falling on the crutch of “because that’s how God made you.” (“Because I said so” didn’t really fit here.)

“God made me poop?”

“Yes, hon, God made poop.”

So there you have it. Giant theological revelation: God made poop. I’m sure some it won’t make it into Max Lucado’s next book or even Rick Warren’s, but maybe it will at least help alleviate my son’s new concern over public pooping.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Preschool Soap Opera

Monday night, as soon as I walked in the door returning home from another long day at the office, I heard my loving hubby say to my son, “Tell Mommy who you played with at school today.”

Hmm… since Little Dude seems to have a new “Best Friend” everyday, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Ryder? Jordan? Keegan? Jaada? Heather? Nope, none of those. He happily replied, “Lily.”

I only recently learned about “Lily” when I had to pick up Little Dude early from school one day. It was the end of nap time, and he was still curled up on his mat with his blanket. A cute little brunette next to him informed me that Little Dude was still sleeping. Then she proceeded to tell me how she and Little Dude had played “Power Rangers” all morning (clearly her idea since my son has never seen the show) and how she made sure that his nap mat was close to hers.

I thought it was sweet that our boy had found yet another friend to play with at school. And I really didn’t think about this fling with Lily again until that night as my husband kept the conversation rolling.

“Tell Mommy what you played,” he instructed.

“Husband and Wife.”

So now Lily was on my radar. Who was this girl really? Is it too early to have little boyfriends and girlfriends? What are the rules for dating in preschool? I managed to push aside all crazy thoughts and consoled myself with the knowledge that little kids play different games every day with different kids.

But that was before last night’s déjà vu when Little Dude informed me that once again he played “Husband and Wife” with this Lily kid. Two days in a row!

OK. Now I was a little concerned. As a woman, I was quite impressed with Lily’s girlish assertiveness. Somehow, she had gotten my wild child to forgo his normal rough and tumble play for the more mellow “husband and wife” role-play. But as a mother, I was a little weary of my sweet little boy falling prey to some potentially overbearing chick. Did she lure him in with superheroes (which he’s totally into right now) only to pull a bait and switch for her domestic agenda? Has she done this to other boys? Where will this all lead?

Yes, I realize that I have become that mother. All this time, I had teased me husband for being a self-proclaimed helicopter parent. But now I must acknowledge that I have become the hovering mom… at least where girls are involved.

There is still plenty of time before I really have to start worrying about girlfriends. Seriously, our little man is just a popular guy. So why wouldn’t Lily want to play with him too? And Little Dude is willing to play with anyone – boy or girl – as long as it’s fun. So he must be having fun if he’s willing to play “Husband and Wife” two days in a row. I'm sure he enjoys pretending to be just like his Daddy. He does like role-playing. After all, one of his friends used to be called “Buzz Lightyear” because he wore his Halloween costume everyday for a month straight. And Little Dude loved putting on a Superman cape or Batman mask and pretending to fight crime with him.

So I don’t need to get my panties in a bunch just because my precious little boy is playing “Husband and Wife” with his new friend. Who knows… maybe today they’ll go back to pretending to be Power Rangers. And if they don’t, that’s ok today. Of course, I never asked Little Dude if he was pretending to be the husband or the wife…

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Addressing the State of Stress

I was reminded that April is Stress Awareness Month. Sheesh! I'm usually pretty aware of my current level of stress. But maybe it's not my stress I need to be aware of. Maybe it's everyone else's.

Whether they show it or not, I'm sure most of the people I see everyday are stressed out. And what isn't there to be worried about right now? With a high rate of unemployment, plummeting home values, rising inflation, a volatile stock market, and so much more, we have a variety of things to fuss over.

Maybe we should all start posting our own Stress Level Warning Chart. It could be similar to the Terror Alert chart that Homeland Security Uses.

What do you think?

If everyone had one of these then we'd probably be a little more understanding. Hey, you just cut me off on the freeway! Oh wait, I'm sorry, I didn't see that your stress level is Severe today. Or You were really snippy and rude, but hey, that's understandable when your stress level is Elevated. Here's some chocolate.

So I think I'll use this month to try to be more aware of other people's stress instead of my own, which means more patience and less irritation. Plus, if anything, it will at least put my own problems in perspective.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Anniversary of a Bone - Part 2

Today is the 1-year anniversary of my son's bone graft.

Yesterday I wrote about how quickly we found out that he had a unicameral bone cyst. Today, I continue...

So just two days after we found out that my little boy had a bone cyst, we were at the largest orthopedic office in the state. We were pretty lucky to get in so quickly. However, that appointment did not go well. Let's just say that it ended in plenty of tears and frustration. The x-rays were terrifying to see. The bone cyst was actually very large, causing the outer bone to bow out. It was also in an extremely precarious spot that had a lot of pressure on it. The doctor was surprised that my little guy hadn't broken his bone yet. The fact that our son was so young was also surprising. He also said that this usually happens in kids ages 5-14.

He said the cyst needed an operation, and that while he could do the operation, it would be better to have it done by someone who sees more bone cysts than he does. I asked who he would recommend if it was his child, and he gave one name... Dr. Shindell. Ironically, Dr. Shindell was at the top of the list the pediatrician gave me (I later found out he is one of the top pediatric orthopedic surgeons), but I foolishly went to the bigger practice first. Hmm...

I called Shindell's office that afternoon and we were able to make an appointment for Friday. Yep, another two days. In the meantime, the first orthopedic doc told us not to let our son run, hop, skip or jump. Seriously, how on earth did he expect us to keep a 2-1/2-year-old from moving too much?

Two extremely slow-moving days past and my hubby, son and I were sitting in the new doc's office. He had come into the office just for us - it was one of his surgery days. He was very calming and explained everything to us. He said the cyst wasn't something our kid was born with, instead it was most likely caused by an infection that got into his bone and caused a cavity (like in teeth). He laid out our options and told us we could take the weekend to think about it. We took about 5 minutes to decide. We would do the surgery.

The following Friday (it was actually Good Friday!), our son was wheeled into surgery. It took 1-1/2 hours and was arthroscopic. They drilled a "pencil-sized hole" in his bone, scraped it clean, and filled it with a compound that mimics bone material. They also put a wire inside the length of his femur. The wire was a cutting edge procedure to help the bone compress and help prevent the cyst from reocurring. Unfortunately, the reocurrence rate for bone cysts is extremely high. But our doc knew of a new study that had just been completed with very positive results using the wire method.

Originally, we were told it would be outpatient, but since it was the weekend, our doc decided to keep our son overnight in case of any complications and for pain management. The nurses LOVED our little boy. They all said he was their best patient. Again, he never complained about pain. I could only tell by the grimace on his face. But the nurses worked to get his pain under control.

Waking up from surgery with your leg in a giant brace couldn't have been fun for him either. He had to wear the brace - a welcome substitute for a full body cast - for 6 weeks! Once he got the brace off, we still had to keep him from running, jumping, etc. for another 6 weeks. Yikes! Our entire family - grandmas, aunts, cousin, etc. - worked to keep our boy entertained. We really couldn't have done it without them.

Too small for a wheelchair -
so we fixed up his wagon!
He loved it!

The doctor said bone cysts typically reoccur after two or three years, and some kids need more than one bone graft, so our son will have periodic check ups. I've lost track of exactly how many x-rays he's had by now. However, once his bone completely fills in, it will be as if the whole ordeal never happened. It shouldn’t affect his growth, and it should be just as strong as any other bone.

Today is definitely worth celebrating! Within two weeks of taking my son to the pediatrician for a limp, he had surgery! How often does anyone get an appointment with not just one but two specialists in a matter of days? With HMO approval? And God must have had His hands around my son’s leg because everyone said that it was amazing he didn't brake it. Plus, our daycare provider had experience taking care of a kid in a full body cast, which meant less time off of work for us. And as icing on the cake, a girl I grew up with is a doctor at the children's hospital and happened to be working the day of the surgery.

This whole thing definitely wasn't easy. But it could have been far worse. And we are so grateful for all the miracles we experienced during this time. So yes, today is a holiday here at home!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Anniversary of a Bone - Part 1

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my son's bone graft.

Last year, when he was just 2-1/2 years old, we noticed him limping. At first he would just limp when he woke up in the morning or after a nap. But instead of getting better, he started limping more and more often. He never complained and it didn't slow down him down much despite how extremely active he is.

I couldn't stand watching him limp so on a Monday morning, I took him in to his pediatrician. She examined his leg, hip and knee. She had him walk and run back and forth from me to her down the hallway (in just his diaper so she could watch his gait). It was probably the most fun he ever had at the doctor's office!

Since he didn't complain about any pain, she said it could have been several things. She sent him for an x-ray in case it was a fracture and a blood test in case it was juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

My boy was a model patient for his first set of x-rays. The techs even said he was a better patient than many adults! Next, we went down to the lab and had his blood drawn. He sat on my lap the entire time, crying and telling the nurse, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry." The empathetic lab tech told him that he didn't do anything wrong and that she would be as quick as possible. After, he asked her what she was going to do with the vials. So she showed him all the machines they use for the blood samples. He was fascinated and wanted to stay to watch his blood samples go through the machines. The tech laughed and told him that it would take a long time because his blood had to coagulate - she showed him another sample of blood so he could see what she meant.

We didn't have to wait long to find out what was wrong with my son's leg. That afternoon, the doctor called to say the x-rays revealed a unicameral bone cyst on his upper femur. She said not to worry because it wasn't cancer, but was most likely a place where the bone didn't quite finish forming. They usually don't find a cyst until the kid breaks his leg. And this one was large enough to rub on something causing the limp.

She gave us a list of orthopedic surgeons and said the cyst could be easily repaired. In fact, most times, they don't do anything and simply allowed the bone to fill in on its own. But because he was so young and active, they might give him a steroid shot to get the bone to grow.

To us it was amazing how quickly we were able to get answers. It was a busy day. My little man loved all the attention he was getting. He charmed everyone and collected lollipops, stickers and stamps for being such a great patient. I was so proud of him for being so well-behaved!

Tomorrow I'll let you know how everything continued to move quickly, and how everything changed from a simple shot to a complicated surgery!

April Fool's and Pancakes

Today I'm a little disappointed in myself. I haven't pranked anyone!

I did have a few ideas for April Fool's... The first was Facebooking that I'm pregnant. But I realized that this could potentially create an absurd amount of responses from people who didn't realize what day it is. And do I really want to explain 200 times that it's April Fool's Day? The other idea was to park in my coworkers' neighboring parking spot. By parking one spot over, I would have thrown off everyone! But I wasn't quite in the April Fool's mood today.

Yesterday I worked from home while tending to my little boy who was sick with a stomach bug. Poor little guy! Luckily, he was feeling better by lunch. And after his nap, he definitely had his energy back.

So this morning we packed up to go back to preschool. He wasn't sure he really wanted to go until I reminded him that it's pancake day. Every Friday is pancake day, and he loves pancakes. He also loves waffles and oatmeal. He's really a breakfast guy.

We were running late this morning and the whole way to school he kept fretting, "There aren't going to be any pancakes left! All the other kids are going to eat the pancakes!" I kept assuring him that there would still be some pancakes for him, but it didn't ease his fears. He was really very worried about experiencing  pancake shortage at school.

I drove to school as fast as I could, and while I signed him in, he was already headed down the hall to his class. He peeked in the window and with a great big smile said, "The pancakes are still there!" He was so happy to see that the food cart was still sitting untouched in the classroom. All the kids were busy playing a Handy Manny board game, so the teacher hadn't served breakfast yet.

My little guy quickly went to work helping his teacher put chairs around the table where the kids eat. Then he sat down and she gave him the first plate of pancakes. In fact, I'm pretty sure he finished his pancake before the other kids had even finished their game and come to the table!

It's not like we don't feed the kid before school. He had oatmeal every morning as soon as he wakes up. In fact today, he talked Daddy into making waffles. But no matter how much he eats, he still likes having what we call "2nd Breakfast."

What can I say except... he's a growing boy!