Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ready to Ride

Nicky thoroughly enjoyed his birthday party Saturday. He now has a new tool set, big wheel and digital camera, along with a whole bunch of clothes, crayons and coloring books, books, legos, a whole huge bag of M&Ms, and even 8 dollars in cash! Mostly I think he liked having a huge crowd over to make him the center of attention though. I mean, who wouldn't like that. :)

Here he is, all decked out in his new safety gear to ride his big wheel. He looks so cute in it!

All decked out to ride his new big wheel

The binky saga continues, but tonight I pulled down some of his cute stuffed animals that he hadn't seen in a while. They usually reside in a hammock up near the ceiling out of the way. I found a super soft blue elephant who looks like a binky with his big ears, so I named him binky and gave him to Nicky. He also got a Pooh bear, another bear with a hat that he said was "Santa Claus," two frogs, a walrus and a Peter Rabbit.

That was the one I was originally looking for because Nicky's had this thing with me making a rabbit with my hand that he talks to. It's named "Bunny" and he loves talking with it. The past few days he's told Bunny that Bunny is three years old and then he tells Bunny he's going to give him a party and he sings "Happy Birthday to Bunny." It's very cute. Well he was telling Bunny that he couldn't have binkies anymore. (Bunny used to try to steal Nicky's binkies.) And that gave me the idea that he and Bunny (as Peter Rabbit) could comfort each other now that they're both without binkies.

We'll see how that goes. Thank you for your kind comments. It's been really hard.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Binky Saga

We're still fighting the good fight here against the binky-withdrawls. Nothing as bad as the first night, but when Nicky gets upset he really has a hard time calming himself down without his binkies. He really relied on them to help him regain his composure as well as go to sleep.

The first night was really hard. Nicky cried himself to sleep in my arms, then later woke crying and had to be soothed by both Tom and I for about 45 minutes. But after that he finished out the rest of the night fine.

The second night he whimpered a bit going to bed, but went to sleep. But then he woke up at about 4am. Tom got up with him and soothed him back to sleep.

The third night actually went fairly well. He cuddled with Tom and fell asleep fine. And then he stayed asleep all night. That was Thursday.

Last night he had a hard time going to sleep again. He'd had a really busy day, with some unpleasantness. And I think he was overly tired. Then he woke up about midnight and cried for a long time. I went in with him, but he kept crying. When he cries now he sounds so sad and says "Daddy" over and over again. It's really heartbreaking.

I asked him if I should go get Daddy. He said "No." I asked him if he wanted to "rock-a-bye baby." (Our code phrase for sitting and rocking with me.) But he said "no." I asked if he wanted me to go. And he said "no." And then I asked him if he wanted me to stay and he said "yes." So I sat by his bed. He didn't want me to rub his back or anything though.

I talked with him and told him he could get himself under control and stop crying. You know, trying to encourage him. But he just said "I don't want to stop crying." It just breaks my heart!

He's mourning the loss of his binkies. It was hard again tonight for him to settle down and go to sleep. But it was his birthday party today, so he'd had a lot of company, excitement and sugar. So no big surprise that he had a hard time settling down. Not as much crying though. He was too tired for much. Tom and I are sleeping in his room tonight since we have company staying over. So at least we'll be close by if he wakes tonight.

This is such a huge step for him. He's had at least one binky available to him ever since that first night in the hospital when the nurses came and begged us to let him have a binky. He was in the special care nursery and they said he really needed it to help him self-soothe. He hadn't nursed yet at all because of his trouble breathing, and I was still so out of it from exhaustion and drugs after the c-section. We'd originally not wanted him to have a binky because of nipple-confusion, but then again we didn't want him to be separated from us and having breathing trouble, on oxygen, with IVs either. The binkies really have been bringing him comfort from day one.

I feel so guilty taking his binkies away so suddenly, but the doctor pointed out to Tom that they're starting to effect his teeth. They really have to go.

I know we can't give in. It would just make it that much worse later. I've thought about taking the one that Tom found and saved (he just couldn't bring himself to throw it away) and maybe cut the nipple of it and give it to him as something to hold onto but not use. But I think that would just make it worse too. I think we just have to be as nice to him as possible, help him try to find other ways to relax into sleep and calm himself down, and stay the course.

But man this is so hard.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What a DAY!

It's been an amazing St. Patrick's Day for sure.

First and foremost of course is that today Nicky turned three. He's gotten so big, so fast. It's amazing watching him grow up right before our eyes. I haven't gotten around to doing my video montage this year with grad school and everything, but you can be sure I'll subject you to it sooner or later. ;)

For his birthday we're throwing his party this coming weekend. We're having a Bob the Builder/Construction themed party, and he's going to have a house full of people. We'll have plenty of photos of that I'm sure, but of course we had to do something today to celebrate his actual birthday too.

So this morning daddy and Nicky stopped by Publix and picked up some St. Patrick's Day cupcakes to share with his class. Tom called me to tell me it was the second easiest dropoff ever. When he left Nicky was wearing a birthday crown and had already had a round of Happy Birthday sung to him. Tom said he was grinning ear to ear.

While he was at school, Tom was going to pick up his birthday present, but then decided it might be more fun for Nicky to pick it out himself. So instead Tom went home to await the delivery of our new washer and dryer. Yes, that's right. A new washer and dryer because our washer blew up (or really, blew down, cause that's the direction all the water went) last Thursday night. Friday we orchestrated the Great Washer/Dryer Purchase of 2009 and they were delivered today. Tom is in Laundry Heaven right now. He actually told me he'd bring them to bed to sleep with them if they weren't so difficult to move.

This evening, Tom picked up Nicky at school and me at work. Nicky was still wearing his birthday crown when I got in the car. And eating a shamrock cookie. He was also so strung out from sugar overload and no nap that I thought about maybe changing our evening plans, but we decided to go for it. Heck, you're only 3 once.

So we took Nicky out to the Macaroni Grill (where you can color the paper covering the tables). He had the macaroni and cheese which to our surprise he actually enjoyed eating. He was a little wired, but Tom took him for a walk while we waited for our food and that helped. He also got to open his little presents at the table and play with them. He got the airplane and helicopter, and then the matchbox set of construction vehicles. He really loved those.

After dinner they came to sing Happy Birthday to him and our waitress let him blow the candle out twice. He refused to eat any of the chocolate cake though. Silly boy must take after his mommy and just isn't that into chocolate. Instead he kept eating his macaroni and cheese for a bit.

After dinner we went to get his big present for the day. We went to Petsmart to buy him his fish. He'd been talking about getting a fish for some time now, and I'd actually already planned the ivy bowl for the fish, but we decided to let him go all out and pick a fish, bowl, rocks and plant. He picked a nice red beta and we gathered all the accouterments needed to give this fish a nice home. By this time Nicky was pretty well fried and REALLY needed to get home and go to sleep.

He sang and babbled like he'd been out drinking green beer with the rest of the town all the way home. Something about cupcakes and Bob the Builder and helicopters.

Once we got home he declared he wouldn't be taking a bath tonight, so we told him that was fine, but he'd be taking one tomorrow in the morning. He doesn't have the vocabulary to fight that argument yet since his only answer is "not today!" and we're all "okay, not today, tomorrow!"

But the REAL challenge of the day was yet to come.

See, when Tom took Nicky to the pediatrician about his ears (the first time, because we just had to take him again Sunday and he has ANOTHER ear infection now) the doctor showed Tom that it's time for the binkies to go because they're starting to affect his teeth. Well, we'd known it was getting close, so we decided that we'd make the transition clean at age 3. We hung a calendar in Nicky's room at the start of March, and every day we mark off the day. I had his birthday on there, and the day before his birthday was marked with a picture of a binky as the Last Day of Binkies. We'd talk about it every night before bed. That his birthday was coming up, and he was going to be three years old, and when you're three you don't have binkies anymore, because binkies are for babies, and when you're three years old you're a big boy...etc. I gradually started throwing away the binkies as I found them over the week before his birthday and we'd gotten him down to four binkies last night.

So tonight was The Night Of No Binkies. And Lo, it was Horrible. There was great wailing and gnashing of teeth. And the Daddy did hide in the den from the terror of it all. And there was a Great Guilt across the household. But the Mommy did persevere in her unwaveringness and did empathize and talk sweetly and kindly to the Boy With No Binkies. And he did fall asleep in her arms with the help of Benadryl.* (Thank you to the makers of Benadryl who had the foresight to put it into a tasty little chewable. I love you more than you know.)

And there you have it. A heck of a day.

But wait. There is YET MORE!

Because beyond the birthday. Beyond the addition of one more pet to our household. Beyond the milestone of the first binkyless night EVER.

I won a contest today.

And not just ANY contest. A contest at We Covet with a really amazing prize! A prize so amazing that I barely dare to speak it aloud and tried hard all day to pretend I wasn't just on the verge of fainting with the excitement of it all.

I won a Coach bag. A COACH BAG! For those not in the know, this is THE brand of purse that costs more than any single thing in my entire wardrobe. INCLUDING jewelry. This bag is so far outside of my price range it's actually funny. I was thinking about it today. I'm not sure I've ever even spent as much as $30.00 on a purse before. What could any bag possibly do/be to warrant being this expensive. I don't know, but I'm finally going to find out. I've already promised to take a photo of it for my friend @Jodifur when it arrives.


Oh and just so you know, as I was writing this blog entry, Nicky woke up very, very angry and very, very sad and had to be comforted for a good 45 minutes by both his Mommy and Daddy simultaneously to go back to sleep. It's going to be a very, very long night.

*Just to clarify, we gave him the Benadryl because he has a cold and an ear infection, not actually to drug him to sleep. But it was quite helpful anyway.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Are you freaking KIDDING me?

Read this. Go on, it's from the Washington Post. I'll wait.

What is up with this? Could we please have products that don't have lead, mercury, or cancer-causing agents in them? Is that really too much to ask? SOAP? BABY SOAP? Argghhhh!

Ok, just had to say that. I mean, it's just that parenting is hard enough without worrying that we're feeding our kids out of plastics leaching chemicals, bathing them in soap with cancer-causing chemicals, letting them chew on toys painted with lead paint, etc. GIVE ME A BREAK!

And now for something completely different

Nicky's response to most requests isn't just "no" because that would just be too boring. Instead we get "Not Today!" Finally I had the forsight to grab the camera and catch him on film.

More videos up on photobucket too. Nicky was in a performing mood tonight!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Can he build it? Yes he CAN!

Tom woke up insanely early to have Sampson to the vet for surgery Friday morning. Unfortunately when he walked out with Sampson, the other two dogs kicked up a ruckus, because it's just not fair that Sampson got to go on a ride without them, and woke Nicky up.


So I had to get up too. But this did give Nicky and I some quality time in the morning to have a nice breakfast together. While I was heating bagels, Nicky had cereal and strawberries. Then he asked for some crackers. He wasn't eating the crackers though. He was building with them. I thought he was building a house, but he said no. Then I looked and saw him carefully lining them up so I thought it was a road. He said no.

Then he started pretending to play the piano on them and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

OMG the cute!

So I asked him if I could take a movie of him singing his song for all of you to see and he graciously agreed.

Before I could get the camera ready, two crackers fell on the floor and were promptly gobbled up by Abbey. Nicky was distraught at this wanton destruction of his musical instrument, and so I had to give him another package of crackers to repair his keyboard. I think he was really excited then, because hey, now it was a really long keyboard!

And without further ado, here is Nicholas, playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the Cracker Forte.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Saturday Night Awesomeness

Busy day! Sampson is already home. He went in for his surgery Friday morning and we picked him up this morning at 10am. I hadn't thought about the shaving, so it was a little shocking to see him at first. Poor boy. He looked so miserable. He was happy to see us though and attached himself to my knee. Nicky was very good with him, and wanted to help hold his lead on the way to the car. He was telling everyone that Sampson has a boo boo today.

I took some photos of Sampson before the surgery and I'll have to snap some after ones too. He looks really good. They took the huge (estimated at about 1 pound) tumor off the front. It had involved the underlying muscle too, so they had to take some of that as well. Then they went ahead and took off the growth he had on his heiny, even though it wasn't cancerous. That was a nice bonus. Well, maybe not to him.

After we got home with Sampson and made him comfy, Tom started working on finishing up the interior of our back door. A friend of a friend, who happens to be a carpenter, had come over last week and reset our back door correctly. It was in before, but not quite right. Tom finished up the interior today and now it just needs sanding and painting. Then the inside will be finally done! It's going to looks so much better for Nicky's 3rd birthday.

At 2:30pm Grandma & Grandpa came over to watch Nicky so Tom and I could go get our taxes done. Someday I'll learn to do them myself again. I used to always do them back when we did the EZ form, but ever since we started itemizing and tax credits I just hand it all over to the H&R Block folks. It does cost a bit (270ish this time I think) but they'll take that out of the return. And it only took an hour! Very painless. (Of course a huge chunk is going to Sampson's surgeon, but we'll ignore that for now.)

To take full advantage of our wonderful babysitters (who were able to enjoy watching movies the whole time because Nicky totally slept through the entire afternoon) Tom and I went shopping and bought some birthday gifts for Nick. Well, I'm justifying them as birthday gifts. He's fortunately still too little to much care what he gets.

I picked out a toy box, step stool, and sling bookcase for him. Then we picked up a toy helicopter, plane, and set of matchbox construction vehicles. Tom's planning the birthday party and we've already got the theme set ("Bob the Builder"/Construction) and the cake ordered (Publix). It'll be on Saturday, March 21st. I don't know if we're going to try to do anything more than just a family party. At some point we're going to have to throw him a "real" birthday party with other kids and favors and stuff, but I don't know if we're quite ready for that.

When we finally made it home it was already six, and Nicky was still sleeping. We woke him up by letting Abbey come give him kisses (we've found that's the best way to wake a sleeping boy) and we all went out to Sonny's for dinner. Grandma and Grandpa were treating Tom out to a belated birthday dinner since we were all sick during his actual birthday this year.

After dinner we went out so Tom could spend his gift card at Kohl's. We'd actually never been in the new store they opened here, um, like a year or two ago. It was nearly 8pm when we arrived and we went through the entire store. Tom picked out 4 shirts, a jacket and a really nice pillow. We found two pairs of shoes for Nicky and the best thing was we found a belt for Nicky! He's got such long legs but such a small waist and many of his pants are either too short or fall off. The belt will really expand his wardrobe. His teachers will probably hate us though, so we'll have to show him how to work it himself.

By the time we got home it was about 9:15pm. While we gave Sampson his medicine and sync'd our cellphones up with our home phones, Nicky went into his room and closed his door. We'd left the doorknob protector on after his nap, so I figured he'd accidentally locked himself in his room and would be calling for help soon. About 9:30pm I went to check on him.

I opened the door, and there was a little trail of shoes and socks leading to his bed. His cup he'd brought home from Sonny's was on his nightstand. And in the bed was my boy. Under the covers, head on his pillow, with his binky in his mouth.

He put himself to bed! (Excuse me while I pass out from the cuteness!)

I called Tom to come see. We asked him if he was tired and ready for bed. He said yes. So Tom went to get his medicine (super-yummy strawberry flavored antibiotic from the fridge, which is not even fair when I think of all the CRAP flavored stuff I had as a kid) and I got the toothbrush. I brushed his teeth, gave him medicine and changed his diaper and he never even got out of bed.

How awesome is that? My two year old was all "I'm not even waiting for my distracted parents. It's past my bedtime, I'm tired and I'm going to sleep dammit!"


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

In which I ramble on forever about sickness and money

Update on me: I went back to the doctor again this morning. I've been on prednisone, a second course of antibiotics, a decongestant, an antihistamine, an inhaler, a cough medicine with codeine, and a nebulizer for a week now and I'm STILL having a hard time breathing.

Just walking from the waiting room into the examination room had me out of breath today. Even trying to carry on a conversation with someone at a normal volume also puts me out of breath. Definitely not normal.

So they ordered up some chest x-rays today and they'll have the results tomorrow. They'll call if they see anything I guess. I have ANOTHER follow up appointment again next week. Hopefully I'll finally be better by then.

They're keeping me on the nebulizer and changed my inhaler to a more powerful one. They moved the prednisone back up to a higher dosage and have me taking a lot of that for the next 24 days. I know it can have some side effects, so hopefully that won't be too bad. It does taste horrible, no matter how fast you try to swallow them, so I'm having Tom try to find some gel caps that I can put the tablets in for swallowing. I hope that works.

But enough about me. Someone else in the family is dealing with health issues too.

Sampson. He's one of our first babies. He and Abbey are brother and sister and have been with us ever since they were 6 weeks old back in 1999. About 2 years ago we noticed Sampson had a lump on his chest. It was tiny, you couldn't see it, just feel it. We asked the vet about it at his yearly appointment and the vet was sure it was benign. He said we could have it removed, but it would cost upwards of $600. Well we had Nicky by then and had just bought a house, so it didn't seem like much of a priority. I don't care if he's a lumpy dog, I just want him healthy. So we let it be. Over the last 6 months to a year though, this thing has gotten huge! It just keeps growing. Finally when we were all sick two weeks ago, I noticed that the skin over the lump had split. It must now be growing so fast that the skin couldn't keep up. As soon as we were well enough to leave the house, Tom took Sampson back to our vet. They did a complete analysis of him and he's healthy as can be (liver, kidneys, lungs, heart all good) except that they also did a biopsy. And it's cancer.

We kind of figured that a while ago. We'd also noticed more lumps on him, and figured we'd just watch how he was feeling. Putting him through surgeries or chemo or anything else would just be super expensive and not really fair to him. We just want him happy and comfortable.

But now with there being an open wound, well that's just gross, and even though he doesn't seem to feel any pain from it, infection is just too likely. So now we have to do something.

Our vet said they couldn't do surgery on something like that, I guess because of the size or something, so they referred us to the UF Vet School. Tom took Sampson in yesterday and Sampson got to spend a whole day being poked and prodded and stuck with needles. They did aspiration biopsies on all his lumps and found just the big one seems to be cancer.

We outlined a plan for a not too crazy surgery. They'll remove the lump and a good bit of the tissue around it, anything that seems visually involved. And then close the wound by bringing the remaining skin back together. What we won't be doing is taking a 3cm extra amount of tissue and skin around the tumor. We won't be taking out lymph nodes and stuff either.

While this probably means he'll still have microscopic cancer bits in there, taking out the lump this way will get rid of the open wound issue and make him more comfortable, without having a lot of side effects that would happen if you get into taking out muscle and extra bits. It'll also make the site easier to close, seriously this thing is like the size of a grapefruit right now, and if you take all that skin plus another 3cm all around you'd have a hard time pulling the rest together to close it up.

Altogether we've already spent a good $700-$800 already with the diagnostics and stuff. He's on an antibiotic now to ward off infection from the wound too. But now this surgery is going to be another $1500. Ugh. It's cheaper than it could be if we did the more radical surgery (that was estimated at 3k minimum). So in the end, we're doing it.

Please don't point out that it would have been cheaper to do all this back when they estimated a mere $600. I know already. But really, back then there was just no way we could pay that. Now at least we have a little cushion from financial aide and getting our tax refund will help too. It kills off any money we'd hoped to have for any fun stuff (like Disney...aw well), but it really is what we have to do at this point.

I mean, I can't put him to sleep when really he's totally fine except for this big lump. That's just not an option. Kind of like Abbey, when she had to have her TWO knee surgeries. We weren't going to put her down just for having a boo-boo knee. (Hm, maybe Sampson was just making sure we got the opportunity to spend just as much on him as we did on his sister.)

So Sampson goes in this Friday for surgery. They said they'll probably keep him over the weekend for recovery. And then I'll get to fork over a ton of money. Ouch!

Next to go to the vet is Abbey and Benjamin. They're healthy, but overdue for their exams and need to get checked out. At least they should be a lot cheaper though. I think the only problem with them is Abbey's incontinence. She has to be kept in the kitchen/dining area because she's a little leaky sometimes. Theoretically she needs estrogen therapy, but I think she just needs to work on those Kegels. She doesn't listen to me though.

I love my dogs, but I can't help but think how much easier (and CHEAPER) it would be to have just one. Or even, dare I say, none. Likely we'll never have none though. Tom and Nicky love their dogs too much to have a house without at least one. (I love them too, but there are days when I'd like to be able to go somewhere on impulse and not have to arrange a sitter.)

Ok, totally rambling now. Best tie up this train wreck of a post and move on. Maybe I'll pop in some nice photos for you.

Sampson in 2006

Sampson in 2004

Tom will hate this photo, but this is how Sampson loves to cuddle. He was mopey after we got our third dog, Benjamin and needed a cuddle. He's a very cuddly dog.

Sampson laughing at us from his collar. This was back about 6-8 years ago probably. It always struck me as funny.