Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin carving

After my parenting fail last Halloween when we never carved our pumpkins and they ended up turning into Christmas decorations, I was bound and determined to do it this year! Due to Brad's rigorous school schedule for many years as well as non-banker hour jobs for both of us, I have really missed not having the whole family take part in traditional events like this.  I also hate cleaning the pumpkins out so I was extra happy to have Brad and the girls working on that one too!  Not sure how they felt about it.  Actually I do know how they felt about it based on the pictures below!

This is how they felt about it!

No question

Cadence did a great job of carving her own pumpkin (after Brad got the holes started)

Sierra really liked her pumpkin!

Cadence, mine, Laurel, Sierra (Laurel had a surprise in hers. The note tells you to "lift up and look in")


Laurel's surprise!  Very creative!  She hung a piece on a toothpick from the top.

Geriatric pumpkin?!  I guess we did them a little too early!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tween book drama

Growing up I had a voracious appetite for reading.  I read books, magazines, the back of cereal boxes, the aspirin bottle.  If there was something in front of me to read I did!  Sierra is the same way.  I've loved watching her grow, learn, and explore through her books.  Unfortunately, her book selections don't always match what I would like for her to read.  Sierra states that she's read all of the books that she wants to read in the juvenile section and now wants to look in the young adult.  Most of the suggestions that I make are quickly dismissed.  She reads REALLY fast!  Much, much faster than me.  So it's impossible to preview everything that she wants to read. 

Everyone knows that books can be very influential.  I vividly remember reading "Sweet Valley High" when I was a teenager and Jessica (I know at least half of you know who I'm talking about!) complained to a friend that her "pores were huge".  I had never really paid attention specifically to the size of my pores, but now that she mentioned it... geez, mine are really big! Look at that - I found something else to obsess about that I didn't even know that I needed to obsess about!  I was telling Sierra yesterday that her hair was so soft and had pretty highlights.  She said "No it doesn't.  It's brown.  Mousy brown.  It's forgettable."  Did you hear my heart break?  I'm almost sure that I've read those exact words somewhere.  I feel certain that she got that notion from something that she read.  So how do I stop this?  How do I keep her from finding more things for her tween brain to become preoccupied with?  I realize that influences come from everywhere for her, but I'd just like for something as wonderful as reading to only have good influences.  Fantasy world?  Maybe.  But I'm open to suggestions!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Oh crap!

I like blogs that are honest.  The ones that talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly.  A little less Claire Huxtable a little more Claire Dunphy.   So here is a bit of my ugly.  Really, really ugly.  Mortifyingly, horrifically, embarrassingly ugly.  It's happened to all of us.  You are eating a chocolate chip cookie in the car and a chip falls in your lap.  Of course, the cookie is so good that you don't even notice until a couple of hours later when you see the chocolate smear on your pants.  It might look a little gross or simply become a washing challenge.  Usually not a big deal, right?!  Unless it was one of those super big Ghiradelli chocolate chips.  And it fell way down in your lap.  And you didn't notice it had even happened until you had been in two stores.  And then you had to go to work.  And then... well, crap.  Not literally, but I'm sure someone thought so!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Broken heart fixed!

Cadence's heart repair is done!  Yippee! Yay! Hooray!  We were told to be there at 8:30am for a 9:30am start.  She went back at 2:30pm!  That is a VERY late start for a hungry toddler, but she took it like a champ.  Just when she reached her breaking point the anesthesiologist came back and gave her some oral versed.  I love that man!  She was a happy, silly girl after that.  The procedure was fairly quick and the cardiologist reported back to us by 4pm that she was finished and we would see her in the recovery room in a few minutes.  He said that everything went great!

Cadence woke up pretty easily and her biggest challenge for the next few hours was trying to fill her hunger void while lying flat (to protect the catheter sites from bleeding).  The hospital is expanding and we were able to get onto the new pediatric wing.  It was GORGEOUS!  Huge room, floor to ceiling windows with mountain views, wall mounted TV.... I was waiting for them to come turn down our bed and leave a mint on the pillow!  Best of all, though, (from a nurse's perspective at least) was how clean it was.  Loved it!  Cadence and I slept pretty well in her little bed and Brad stopped by in the morning with a snack before he went to work.  There was a follow-up ECHO (ultrasound of her heart) in the morning and the technologist was impressed by the size of her ASD closure device.  She said it was almost the size of the whole atrial septum.  We were also told that her right heart enlargement had already improved in just the 16 hours since the device had been placed!  Wow!  We had discharge papers by 9am but had to wait for her to get an EKG.  Just went I talked a co-worker into doing it the person who should have done it earlier showed up!  We were out by 11am.

I am so glad to have it done!  Things could not have gone more smoothly.  I can handle delays, but the fact that there was no life threatening complication... I consider that a win!  I am grateful that we have a hospital so close to us where we can get this done.  Pediatric interventional cardiologists aren't easy to find (especially ones as good as this one!) I am so thankful to so many people for their kind words, reassurances, prayers, and underwear dances!  You all are the best!

She was really hungry!

Managed to put away some fries

Room with a view

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cadence's cath tomorrow

Last summer I was stunned when we learned that Cadence had an ASD (a hole in heart). We waited a year to see if it would close on it's own.  This summer, as I suspected, there was no change.  Thankfully (very thankfully!) it can be closed in the cath lab.  This means that instead of open heart surgery, they will go into a major vessel in her groin and guide a device up into her heart.  They put the device through the hole in her heart and then it opens up like an umbrella and closes the hole.  Sounds simple, right?  Of course,  knowing what I know can be hard.  The one in a million, freakishly gone wrong, "wow, we've never seen that happen" type of things that I see in my daily job.  It is these images that would take my breath away when I have thought about this procedure for the past year. 

When people would ask about it I would say I was nervous but "it will be fine".  This is my standard answer when I am trying to convince myself that things will work out but in the back of my mind worry that my world might come crashing down.  Dramatic?  Yes.  But I can't help it.  For some reason, though, I have felt a great sense of peace this past week when thinking about Cadence's cath.  I say "It will be fine" and actually believe those words.  I'm more focused on the challenge of forcing  convincing her to lie flat for six hours after the procedure (due to the large catheter that they put in her vein) than the "what if's" that usually creep into my thoughts.  I feel thankful for that feeling and for the fact that this can indeed be done without open heart surgery.  That said, I would welcome prayers, chants, incense burning, dancing in your living room with underwear on your head, or whatever you do that can send some good vibes Cadence's way. Thank you!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Kindness and compassion with the Dalai Lama

I would not define myself as a Buddhist, but I definitely have an appreciation for many of the basic beliefs of Buddhism.  I feel that balance is one of the keys to a happy life.  I believe that if everyone in world showed more compassion for one another it would be a much better place.  I think that karma exists and that one's inner/mental health affects their outer/body health.  I definitely feel that all religions (and those without religion) can live in harmony but they must put forth effort to do so.  I think that we should strive to settle disagreements with peaceful solutions.

However, I do kill big spiders that I find in my house and the mosquitoes that eat me alive in the summer.  And I will never be able to be free of attachments.  While it would pain me to give up my favorite boots and necklace, I could do that.  My kids, however, not them.  They are one "attachment" that I could not give up.  So, I am far from a textbook Buddhist.  But when I found out that the Dalai Lama was coming to town, I was ecstatic.  It did feel ironic to shell out as much as I did for my ticket to see a man who lives such a humble and simple life, but he makes contributions to great causes so it felt justified.

The downtown mall was packed the day of the event.  Despite the number of people everyone seemed happy and relaxed.  Honestly, I don't think I noticed anyone upset or yelling the whole afternoon.  As cliche as it sounds as I listened to him talk about compassion and kindness, I felt a very peaceful.  There is a possibility that this had to do with the fact that I didn't have three children pecking at me for their every want and need, but I really do feel it was deeper than that!  The ideals that the Dalai Lama promotes are nothing new.  We all know that being happy makes us healthy.  We inherently know that being kind to one another and compassionate for those who are different from us is the right thing to do and would lead to this world being a much better place.  But in the hustle and bustle and stress of daily life, it can be so easy to forget.  As with all things that will improve your life, though, it takes work.  We must work to remember the Golden Rule and follow it.  We must work to not let our impulsiveness override doing the right thing.  We must work to focus our life on compassion and kindness instead of ambition and ego.  Being reminded of this and knowing that there are others out there who also strive for this (as evidenced by the thousands of people there with me) brought me a great sense of peace.  It was a wonderful experience.  Even if I don't always remember exactly what was said that day, I hope that I can always remember what the Dalai Lama stands for... kindness, compassion, and peace.

As a side note, I saw a major technology fail.  The girl sitting next to me was texting and checking her facebook... while the Dalai Lama spoke.  Seriously?!  SERIOUSLY?! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sierra's 10th birthday party

Sierra remained fairly undecided on the theme for her birthday party but had mentioned from the beginning that she wanted "Coraline" invitations.  Throughout the month before her party she also talked about swimming, watching "Coraline", painting with buttons.  So, we did it all! 

She started off only inviting three girls and then (as always) it evolved to about nine.  A few girls road the bus home after school and the others were dropped of early.  I figured having it on a Friday, when they had gotten up early, would lend itself to an earlier bedtime!  The girls spent a couple of hours swimming (again, wear them out for bedtime), had pizza, and then set up to paint.  I had planned to hot glue the buttons onto the paintings and had been envisioning the girls using a few buttons throughout their project.  Wrong!  Give them props and they will use them!  I spent a LONG time that evening gluing them on.  The paintings were all unique and beautiful, though, just like each of the girls.  We had cake and ice cream and then the girls settled in to watch the movie. 

I had overestimated my abilities to handle the party by myself.  Luckily, Alyssa's mom, Lynn, hung around to keep me company and take one of the girls home after the movie.  Little did she know that she would be my right hand at the party!  I was so thankful she was there to help out (and she's not bad company either!).  Brad came home around 8pm to a houseful of girls and promptly went out to cut the grass... after 12 hours of work.  Just four of the girls spent the night which as a nice amount.  Bedtime wasn't too terribly late and Sierra had a great birthday party.  A few of them even swam the next morning!  Due to the school budget cuts the teachers are in need of lots of items for their classroom.  Sierra decided to collect school supplies for her party this year.  She was able to drop off three large bags of supplies the next week!

Girls just want to have fun!

Sierra's Coraline "Welcome Home" cake

Blank canvases

Hard at work

Fabulous artists

Finished products

The silly pose!

Such fun girls!  Happy birthday Sierra!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Williams-Meade Campout 2012

Although it happened over a month ago, it was no less forgettable!  In August we went to Douthat State Park with our friends the Meades.  It's been an annual tradition since Sierra was 3 years old.  Even though the kids only see each other a couple of times a year they fall in to step every time.  Despite Laurel's "aversion" to boys, she hooks up with Wesley like long lost friends!  It is always an easy going, relaxing, fun weekend.

We showed up on Friday and the big kids immediately took off towards the playground with Cadence trying to tag along.  A typical youngest sibling, she often forgets that she is only three years old and tries as hard as she can to keep up with them.  By the end of the weekend Cadence kept up pretty well on her scooter!  The evening was spent playing in the creek, swinging on the swings, and eating s'mores.  Saturday was overcast but that didn't stop the kids from playing at the beach and swimming in the chilly water.  It started to drizzle that evening and we crossed our fingers as we watched a big storm heading our way.  Brad was geared up to leave in the middle of the night if the tent started leaking, but luckily that didn't happen.

We enjoyed our time with Gayle and Greg.  Sierra, Hannah, Wesley, and Laurel played together like no time had  passed since they last saw each other.  Cadence had her first successful campout.  A good time was had by all!

Cadence showing off her tattoos before we left

Cadence crashed out... she hasn't done this since we were in China (Brad loved it!)


The crew

Our silly pose (I don't know why we all leaned to the same side!)

Cadence was smart enough to stay out of the water and "relax"

Hannah relaxing!

The really cool lake island

Fun times at Douthat