Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Day

Kate seems fully recovered today, because it is her class's fall festival (we can't say Halloween Party because of the Jehovah's Witnesses) and she gets to wear her costume (of a literary character, not a Halloween costume). We dosed her full of breathing drugs and crossed our fingers at bedtime. Kate, meanwhile, carefully laid out her entire Violet, from The Incredibles, costume, including the boots, at the foot of her bed.

The girls are usually rudely awoken at 6:30AM. We often literally drag them to the bathroom, while they cling to a pillow or blankey. This morning, at about 6:15, Jeremiah and I were in our bathroom when we heard the pitter patter of medium-sized feet. "You guys!" complained Kate as she approached "you forgot to come get us up!"

Since, at around 9:30 last night, I actually did cease to function, and since we'd all slept an entire night (!), I was lucid enough to tell myself that if she wasn't getting air, she'd let us know. I resisted the urge to press my ear against her chest again and helped her into her Violet costume (hand made by Aunt Jo Jo) instead.

Now Sarah's fighting a cold and was visibly annoyed at having been disturbed before it was time to get up. She stood, looking disoriented, in the bathroom doorway upstairs. She was holding her toothbrush and staring vacantly at the wall. Her class isn't having a party today. She does get to bring in her Aunt Jo Jo original Cinderella get-up for show and tell. Her Pre-K teacher was nice enough to let us have that, to help us avoid a morning meltdown.

Jeremiah dropped the girls off at school, and Kate joined the room of extremely hyper children and we'll just decrease our own oxygen levels slightly, hoping the day passes without incident. And so we beat on, boats against the current and all that.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Need for Fresh Air

I have some fun things to post here in the way of updates, but now it's time to complain about Kate's lack of oxygen.

The day before her 5th birthday, Kate took a trip to the emergency room because she could not breathe. At the time, the doctor and respiratory therapist said she didn't have asthma, she just had a nasty cold that was causing an inability to breathe. They did a breathing treatment and sent her home with an inhaler. Since then, the inhaler has come out now and again, but infrequently enough that we've misplaced it from time to time.

Over the past week, however, Kate's wheezing has picked up considerably. She's a bit of a drama queen, so when she'd start crying that she was wheezing, we'd give a listen, and if it didn't sound bad, we'd have her do some breathing exercises and send her on her way. She became increasingly dramatic. We rolled our eyes a lot. "Kate! It's past time for bed, go to sleep!"

Who's the a-hole now? Monday night was very rough. Kate did a lot of screaming. Her breathing sounded labored, but not in her chest, she was congested all up in her face. She refused to blow her nose. I mean, really refused. She literally pitched a fit, ran from us, was a disaster. No one slept much Monday. Tuesday morning we checked her temperature and it was normal, so off to school she went. That lasted about 30 minutes. When Jeremiah went to get her, we were concerned she may have a sinus infection, what with all the stuffiness and claiming she was afraid to blow her nose. The worst thing was, she was driving us crazy. We just wanted her to stop all the whining!

Jeremiah took her to the doctor around noon, and the doctor had her admitted to the ER at Egleston. Her oxygen was around 87%. She spent the next 7 hours doing a multitude of breathing treatments. There was much talk of not letting her go home. Finally, she got her O2 up around 94% and we were set free, after we promised to have her looked at first thing this morning. She slept last night! She had color in her cheeks this morning. I took her to the doctor right at 8:00 and they kindly fit her in. Her oxygen was 89%. They did another breathing treatment. Then, the doctor sent us home, telling me "At this point, we've done here all that we can. Just keep an eye on her today, and if she gets any worse, she needs to go back to the ER."

This has been the most stressful day of motherhood for me to date, including all those days during her first 6 weeks of life when she never stopped wailing. I took her to the chiropractor, because I knew they'd be sure to get everything situated where it belongs, which will help with breathing. But, I thought she looked great this morning, and she was at an oxygen level that would have kept her in the hospital last night. What did "keep an eye on her" mean? I've spent this entire day asking if she's OK, examining her she ashen? Why the circles? Is she just tired or is there no air? Why can't she focus on her homework? What does she mean she's 'dizzy'? Why does her head hurt? Why does her stomach hurt? I am so stressed right now I feel like I might just fall over and stop. Just stop functioning completely.

I suspect her complaints about being dizzy, headachy and stomach-achy are largely related to the alarming intake of steroids she's endured during the last day, but still, those are also things that could be caused by not getting enough air. The medicine has also made her hyper and crazy. The more hyper she gets, the more I panic she's expending too much energy and will get tired and stop breathing. I need a nap, but I'm afraid if I allow myself to doze off for 20 minutes, that's the 20 minutes during which she'll die. So instead, I made cookies. Homemade Oreos, for her class's fall festival tomorrow. I think I made, like, 60 of them. It took awhile, because I kept stopping to make sure Kate felt OK, to try to force fresh vegetables on her and to try to stare at the rise and fall of her chest without her noticing.

I guess we'll send her to school tomorrow. I don't know why tomorrow will be any different, but I do know I'll probably be over-tired, unfocused and mildly grumpy. I just want my kid to be healthy.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Last Sunday, with our friends the Breaults, we drove out to Carlton Family Farms, the place that grows the cows that make the milk that we drink. They also grow the chickens that lay the eggs that we eat. They have a pumpkin patch, too. And a corn maze. That day, it was about 80 degrees out and sunny. The corn maze, it turned out, was a poor choice. The sisters Drueke whined and whined. I considered leaving them there.

The hay ride, however, was worth the wait. The farm really is family owned, and has been since it was established way back in 1919. It's been a dairy farm since 1946. They have 40 cows, each of whom are milked twice a day, every day, all year round. The cows spend their days out in the pasture, munching on grass. They aren't fed anything else, especially not hormones, antibiotics or swill. Am I sounding preachy? Sorry. So anyway, the farmers hook a very long flatbed onto a big ol' tractor. The flatbed is fitted with benches all the way down the center, and a nice rain and sun-blocking pavilion-style roof. The floor is covered with a foot or so of hay.

The farmers drove the lot of us out to the cow pasture and the cows recognized us as the portable hay buffet. They sauntered up to the trailer and we all fed them hay. Sarah got a loving, wet kiss from one of the cows. The kids loved it, and as a city girl, I found it thrilling (yes, thrilling) to get to feed the same cows the make the milk we drink. The bovine ladies were also very receptive to some rubbing on the forehead. Among the herd out in the field, Kate spotted one Holstein and declared from the diaphragm "Hey, I see a real cow!" I sighed when I realized all the kids considered the black and white cow the real one, because she looked like the Chick-fil-A cow.

When we exited the hayride, we went directly to the little barn where the baby animals live. They had pink piglets, 2-day old calves, turkeys (those weren't babies, they looked big enough to be concerned about the upcoming holiday season...) and Kate's favorite, the chicks. She was captivated by them. Sarah seemed to favor the pigs.

They'd once done a stint as a commercial dairy, the Carltons, but it wasn't for them. That left them with a large grain silo they no longer used. They were planning to tear it down, but the neighbors protested, stating they would have no way of directing visitors to their houses if the "big silo" disappeared. So, the cut a door-shaped hole in the bottom, connected it to a small building and made it a little store where we bought some eggs and milk, and then wandered around in the empty silo. Trying to imagine it full of corn was amazing. I mean, that's a lot of grain, right there.

Then it was off to the playground, with it's mini-hay bale maze, big slide made of the stuff that's used for drainage pipes (rubber, not metal) and a lot of chickens just waiting for us to feed them. Those birds never seemed to fill up. Finally, a place where the attitude is - Yes, Fat Chicks! After all that excitement, we were tired. It was time to make the hour long drive home. We wearily loaded the children into the car and realized.... we never picked out pumpkins. Ah, forget it, we'll get them at the grocery store.

See that one gap in Kate's teeth? Now there are two! The day after our farm visit, the tooth to the right of the gap, finally fell out, at school. This time, she kept it long enough for the Tooth Fairy to come buy it. That left the Tooth Fairy wondering to herself "what do I do with these teeth?" After she overcame that initial sweetness of her child's baby tooth, she realized it was kind of gross.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rain Dance

It won't rain here. I don't want to diminish the delightfulness of the cloudless blue sky, the lack of humidity and cooler temperatures, but we really, really need it to rain. Yesterday, my head started throbbing and some big clouds rolled in, and I became hopeful. My rain barrels are completely dry and my plants are withering in their beds, despite my hosing them down every other day. I eyed the sky, hand on aching head, wishing for the clouds to give me something I could use.

All day, promising clouds, but no action. It was like watching C-Span. That evening I stood outside on the patio with Sarah, waiting for Monkey to do his Monkey business. I stared at the sky. Then I stretched up to the sky and sent it a little reiki, out of desperation. Sarah looked at me quizzically. "Mommy. What are you doing?" I dropped my hands to my sides and sighed heavily. "Sarah, I'm trying to convince it to rain. The plants are dying for it. Literally."

Sarah bounded up to the flat surface of Jeremiah's Man Space. "I will do a rain dance for the plants!" she declared. She stood completely still for just a moment, commanding the attention of the heavens. Then, she launched into a little performance art piece involving a pantomime of rain, followed by returning sun. She repeated it a few times, mouthing words to herself (possibley the Itsy Bitsy Spider, but I can't be sure) and then stopped, falling just short of an "Annnnnnd Scene" and looked at me. It was so impossibly adorable that I thought it would rain maple syrup on us. Instead, very late last night, we got a little sweet rain. That's my girl!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Night

Popsicles, made fresh locally by The King of Pops. Blackberry Cream. Yum.

Monkey thought the self portrait idea was stupid.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Halloween Well Wishes From Kate

Kate made me this Halloween card the other day. I watched as she was drawing it. I complimented her on the good ghost and she held up a finger, then put crayon back to paper. First, she drew the dark line across the ghost's midsection, then she started the on down the middle. At that point I said "are you putting pants on that ghost?" but she quickly shook her head, without pausing, and said "Pogo Stick." Then she gave the ghost little arms to hold himself up on his Pogo Stick.