Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Childhood glaucoma?!

I've been aware that my 5 yr old has struggled with seeing things for some time now. The preschool saw it. Her kindergarten thought she should get her eyes checked. Some time in the fall of last year (2011), I took her to an optometrist. That was a difficult visit, where he (the optometrist) didn't get very far. My child has been very sensitive from a very early age, dating back to her toddler years. When she was around 20 months, she totally freaked out at the sight of a light saber. It has taken until her five year wellness check with her pediatrician to not flip out when getting her weight and height checked.

This past Monday, the 27th, was parent-teacher conference day at Isabella's school. Since students didn't have school that day, I thought it was a good opportunity to try again for her to see an eye doctor. I booked an appointment with someone else, a pediatric ophthalmologist, hoping people in this office had a gift for working with sensitive little ones like my daughter.

Helpful to Isabella's case was making sure her precious Henry came along for the ride.

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I must say, she was quite the trooper, this one. Very brave, very courageous.

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Isabella and Henry cooperated with everything the ophthalmologist wanted to do . Everything.

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This place came with cool movies. Many of the instruments necessary for a thorough check were so much funner than places made for adults. Identify and check out the animals. . .

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As I carefully watched the assistant and ophthalmologist's body language, something was up. They were concerned.

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Nothing prepared me for what was to come. Glaucoma. That disease that more commonly strikes the older population. She has it, in both eyes.

As if that wasn't enough of a blow, the pressure in each high was quite high. The ophthalmologist then used a more accurate pressure measurement, and the pressure was still high in each eye. He highly recommended surgery as soon as possible.

Monday, we were sent home with a prescription for eye drops, two kinds, meant to help lower the pressure in her eyes. The next day, we scheduled an appointment with another surgeon to see what he thought. Tuesday, the pressure lowered significantly in the right eye and not really in the left eye. The pressure in the right eye wasn't low enough to avoid surgery, but the pressure in the left high was still extremely high. The second surgeon also recommended surgery as soon as possible.

Isabella was slated to have both eyes examined under general anesthesia. If glaucoma was confirmed, surgery would be performed on the left eye. Here she is, at the Children's Hospital, where her surgery was to take place. Her spirits seemed relatively high, all things considered.

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The Children's Hospital certainly left a good first impression with her. Lots of interesting things.

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Including a glass elevator. First one of that kind that she has ever seen. Very exciting.

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The twins and I accompanied Isabella to the hospital, along with a small village of women to allow me to spend time with her in recovery (where no children were allowed).

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She did quite well. Isabella didn't panic or have a melt down until she walked into the operating room. But, we must hand it to this child that the OR isn't the most inviting, warm place. She made it through the surgery well. What was supposed to take about 1-1.5 hrs took 3 hrs. Isabella even did well in recovery.

Coming home and recovery since leaving the hospital have been harder. She has cried and had meltdowns at seemingly small matters having nothing to do with her eyes. She hasn't wanted to open her eyes, even her right eye (which hasn't had any work done on it). She hates putting drops in her eyes; she acts like I'm doing horrible things to her each time drops are put in.

***
This morning, she had as follow up visit with the ophthalmologist. I knew he would want to take the patch off and look at the eye. She really didn't like that, not one bit. She barely opened her eyes for just a moment; slits and nothing more was visible.

Since mid to late afternoon, her sweet, giddy personality is slowly returning.

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Loads of sleep she has been getting. She wants to be carried, checked on, and loved. I'm more than willing to oblige. I'm sorry dear Bella you have congenital glaucoma. Lord, I hope and pray that one surgery can miraculously take care of the problem. Take care of Isabella's eyes. Please preserve and protect what sight she does have. I also pray that her sight improves as the swelling (in her eyes) goes down. Amen.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

People blessings

People around me have really been the hands and feet of Jesus, reminding me that the Lord has neither forgotten nor forsaken me. To detail what people have been doing to come alongside us would take awhile. Quite awhile.

Instead, I want to give a very recent example. Yesterday afternoon, after nursing the twins, I packed them into the minivan in preparation to pick up my 3 yr old from preschool and my 5 yr old from kindergarten. Opened the garage door and started backing out.

But, the garage door hadn't fully opened when I started backing out. BOOM, I heard. The garage had another foot to go before my minivan could clear the garage. I pushed the button on the garage door opener. The garage door tried to do its thing, but it was stuck. Stuck. My car was stuck in the garage.

I started frantically making phone calls. My handy neighbor wasn't home. I tried to find people to bring my children home for me. What had I done? How could I have done such a stupid thing?! I could see why the garage door wouldn't budge, but I had no clue as to how to fix the problem. I am thankful to the two individuals who brought my girls home. The one who brought my 3 yr old home was a preschool friend's husband. While he was here, he took a look at the garage door. He was able to disengage the automatic garage door and open it manually. Looking at the garage door, he was confident he could probably fix the door; but, I lacked the proper tools. Mike was willing to come back the next morning, this morning, to work on the door.

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This morning, the husband of a couple from church - John, came over to work on the door. And together, John and Mike fixed the garage door so that it was back in working order. More people than I ever imagined, men and women, came forward and shared personal stories of backing into garage doors, backing into other cars, etc. These people, these friends reassured me that not only is such a thing an honest mistake, but people do it all the time. Thank you, thank you very much, friends.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Send puzzles or something

The snow that you see on the ground isn't from the most recent snow storm. Most of that was from the snow blizzard that came on February 4th. Thankfully the roads haven't been icy this whole time. The city's pretty good about clearing roads, except during the storm or blizzard.

This past Monday was President's Day, a holiday, which meant all four kids were home ALL DAY LONG. The older two oftentimes band together and create a cacophony of loudness and obnoxiousness. I was determined to defuse some of that energy.

When I informed the older two that we were going on a walk, down our street and back, the oldest announced that she wanted to go back inside. Imagine a whiny voice: "I don't wanna go for a walk. I want to go baaaaack inside, Mommy." But, when I told them they could stomp in the snow, they started singing a different tune.

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Isabella enjoyed playing the chasing game; Victoria did not.
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And, homeward bound we went.

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We also spent time doing puzzles. How it is that this girl, a 3 and 1/2 yr old, can do 100-piece puzzles, without assistance, is beyond me.

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And this daughter isn't so bad at puzzles herself, my 5 yr old.

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I recently went to the dollar store and stocked up on all the 100-piece princess puzzles I could find, saving them for days we had to stay home - whether weather related or school holidays. Wednesday late at night through yesterday morning, we were surprised with a snow storm. What was supposed to be a snow dusting turned out to be a snow storm that left 10-12 inches of snow. Thursday morning, I made a last minute decision not to have Isabella go to school. Her school is a 40-minute drive away, without bad road conditions. Had heard there were plenty of accidents on the road early Thursday morning.

What in the world were we going to do in the house all day? Well, I whipped out a couple of new puzzles, one per older child. Lately, these two older children of mine have taken to competing. Who can finish faster? Who's the winner?

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They're pretty aggressive and competitive about winning, too. Victoria doesn't give her older sister much room for winning, where puzzles are concerned. But, Isabella can hold her own. That puzzles can hold their attention span is pretty impressive, in my opinion.

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The girls can and do get along, even though they spend A LOT of time fighting and yelling at each other. Victoria looks up to her sister and wants to do what she does. On a side note, the girls have strong opinions of what they want to wear. I tried to convince Victoria that her shirt didn't really go well with her pants, but she didn't care. Some fights aren't worth fighting; and that is one of them. Yes, my dear, you may decide and have control over what you wear. It's important to let the little ones make some decisions, since so many decisions are made for them.

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On a random note, feel free to send puzzles or other activities for the girls to enjoy on days they have to stay inside. . . They love princesses, fairies, and the like. And these are my dear princesses.

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My eldest recently informed me that she doesn't like winter. Why? She said because she likes flowers and flowers don't come up during the winter. Yesterday, she grew her own "flowers," pictured below.

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Do these not look like flowers to you? Squint your eyes a little and let your imagination go wild. Look at all the colors and feign a fragrance to the flowers.

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Each had her own bed of flowers.

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We had our own little, secret garden indoors.

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Joyous secret garden on a cold, cold wet, snowy day.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

My brood, my valentines

My Brood, My Valentines

This year, I treated myself to something much needed, the best of which was the fact that I spent absolutely no money. A few years back, my sister-in-law, Rebecca, had gotten me some stuff at Victoria's Secret that didn't work out. The store reimbursed me in the form of a gift card. Years later, I returned to a Victoria's Secret store, wondering whether they'd still honor the gift card. Yes, yes, YES!

Why, oh why, am I so excited about getting new underwear?! Well, hmm, how about being pregnant or nursing since December of 2005, with no break? How about the fact that I don't remember the last time I got brand new underwear? It's been YEARS. I'd like to get a new (non-nursing) bra, but that will have to wait.

I wanted cotton panties, and I picked out cute cotton panties. Five pairs. The store was doing five pair specials. YIPPEE!



Though I got brand new panties, and I'm super excited about that, my real valentines came in the size of little darlings. As difficult as parenting has been and as challenging as raising four children close in age, not a day has gone by that I am grateful for each one of these four lives.

My eldest. Isabella. The sweet girl has grown so much. She has recently been developing into a little mommy. In the last few days, she's been interested in putting away baby sister and baby brother's blankets when they're done nursing. She wants me to teach her to wash non-breakable dishes.

Isabella captures the hearts of those around her, especially at her school and especially here at home (she definitely has my heart). My first born.

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Here's another valentine of mine. Victoria. She wants what she wants when she wants it. This daughter has had to grow up way fast, though she's still a baby herself. With two little babies constantly needing my care, she doesn't get to cuddle quite as much as she used to.

She soaks up and learns faster than sponges pick up water. She has put together a 100-piece puzzle without assistance. Though under normal circumstances, she's boundless energy, bouncing all over the place, she has the focus to sit down and work on a multiple piece puzzle.

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She's pretty excited about eating breakfast while I'm nursing the babies.


And then there are the most recent additions to the family. A total surprise that any more (little ones) were coming at all. Though I was expecting to be expecting, the day I found out I was pregnant with twins, at 7 weeks, I was certain these little lives were purposefully provided by the Lord. I am so thankful that things have gone so well with them so far - a full term pregnancy with twins; healthy, natural births; nursing.

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One of the twins has quite a personality, involving letting the world know when he isn't happy. He sounds like someone's pinching him. . . when he's tired, when he's bored, when he's hungry. I'm thankful the other twin, so far, is much more easy going. Kind of balances things out. I'd be in for a roller coaster ride if both were easily agitated.

Oh, and hey, so far these twins are very close. They someone wiggle and squirm until they're tight against each other, whether on a couch or sofa. They use each other for pacifying - whenever a head, shoulder, or hand is in close proximity.

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These are my valentines.

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I am thankful for my valentines, each and every one of them.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

My Valentine's Wishlist

Life has been a bit rough and has thrown some curve balls. Being drawn into immense sadness and feeling down at the beginning of the week was quite unexpected. So, I am dreaming a little dream.

***

"Diamonds are a girl's best friend." Though I am not lusting after diamonds, I have a few other little wonders in mind:

#1: a cherry red, 7 1/4 quart Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron Round French Oven

So much I could do with this and so much cooking I do. Carries a lifetime warranty. Never to wear out. I cook in large quantities, so a smaller size just won't do. Red, ahh red, oh how I love you.


#2: a red, natural-fibered, argyle sweater

I found a beautiful one in the Land's End catalog. I avoid, whenever possible, wearing clothing made from synthetic material - e.g. polyester.

The Land's End Long Sleeve Cashmere Argyle Cardigan is exquisite.

Cashmere. Rich Red Argyle. Petite Small. End of Story.


#3: a long pair of well-made attractive snow boots

Come on. Just because I am a mother of four children, four years old and under, doesn't mean I have to look like a mommy or I have to look unattractive, right?!

I stumbled upon the UGG Women's Adirondack Tall Boots and fell absolutely in love with them.

UGG Women's Adirondack Tall Boot
Otter (color)
Size 8


***

Of course, things like Starbucks coffee cards, for those of us who are always keeping on our toes, are always good, too.

Now that I'm done dreaming for the moment, I'm headed to bed. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Friday, February 03, 2012

When a Snow Blizzard Decides to Visit and Stay

I heard about a snow blizzard prediction half a week ago or less. Yesterday morning, I heard just how bad it was going to be. Minimum 12 inches. Did you register that? A foot of snow.

My heart was palpitating very fast at that prospect. You must realize that I'm a Southern girl. Well, I was born and raised there, anyhow. Not used to seeing much snow, let alone snow of this magnitude.

Last night, after dialoguing with a friend, before Denver Public Schools had decided to close their doors today, I decided Isabella was not going to school this day. Too dangerous to chance such a drive. Wish I could go to a large piece of land where I could practice slipping and sliding and driving on ice.

As the evening arrived, Denver Public Schools decided to close its doors today, which meant Isabella's charter school would also not be open. In the early evening, Littleton Public Schools (LPS) finally decided to close for today; which meant Victoria's preschool, which runs according to the LPS schedule, would not open today.

***

I'm thankful I took the forecast seriously and went to three grocery stores. Let me tell you, grocery shopping with three children in tow is not a piece of cake, but I made sure we had plenty of food. Even muscled a 50 pound bag of rice into a cabinet.

Early this morning, I heard a radio broadcaster announce that the forecast was no longer for 12 inches of snow. Rather, the predicted amount was minimally TWENTY inches. What?! Nearly 2 feet of snow.

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I took this photograph towards the end of the afternoon. Can you see how high the snow is?

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This Christmas-looking pine tree was collecting lots of snow.

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We looked at Isabella's teacher's blog. Both of the girls (the non-twins in the family) worked on some Chinese. I was really surprised how far Isabella's gone in Chinese character recognition. We work on all kinds of stuff at home - recognizing Chinese words, recognizing English words, reading (English), math - but she's really picking up stuff at school. I'm impressed.

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Some of us also slept. Who needs a pacifier when a thumb, or in Christian's case, fingers are available? Sometimes Christian prefers to stick a fist in his mouth.

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Some of us also had some tummy time, although I will say that the twins don't need "tummy time" per se. They do plenty of observing on their bellies, even when they're not on a special mat.

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And then, some of us rolled from belly to back. The twins have been practicing that for awhile now. Haven't gotten the back to the belly bit, yet.

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Very curious about their surroundings, these two are.

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This little boy has recently decided that any time I am not within sight, I don't exist; therefore, it is the end of the world. Not the most convenient of developments. Yes, yes, I know; it's that object permanence thing he's learning.

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Then, some of us enjoyed some time in the snow. Can you spot any excited little ones?

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Where are they (the excited little ones)? Huh? Can't hide their excitement, can they?

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It was certainly worth the work and effort on my part to get them ready to play in the snow - the ski pants, mittens, hat, coats. I mean, look at the exuberance on their faces!

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Isabella was busy making a house.

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As for Victoria, she was perfectly content making mayhem. And eating snow.

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And delivering colorful facial expressions. Catching falling snowflakes in the mouth.

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I did not ask Victoria to pose for me. She's a natural.

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Still working, Isabella is.

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I certainly appreciated letting go of adult concerns, such as driving through dangerous road conditions, and realized the finer joys in life. Children are a good study for this.

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See?

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The girls weren't too ecstatic that outdoors time had to end. But dribble-y noses aren't good. Besides the fun didn't end after that.

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We still had loads of fun indoors together. And much to my surprise, the girls were able to work together on a 100 piece Hello Kitty puzzle.

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That took collaborative effort, patience, concentration, and brain, too.

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The two of them, my five year old and my three year old, finished the puzzle without my assistance, except for one piece which is floating around somewhere in the house.


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Ta da! We survived and enjoyed our snow blizzard without going to school, running errands, or going out somewhere. We had our own family vacation here at home.