Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pictures!







It Feels Kind of Empty...

Everyone is gone now. Mom is home and my sister and her family are on the road back home. While a part of me says, "Ah, quiet!," it was wonderful having them here and I miss them already. My sister's children are just beautiful and I SO enjoyed all of them.

Favorite moments:
-Making Jo the baby laugh (wish I could bottle baby giggles!)
-Andy on my shoulders at the model train exhibit - every time he was ready to move on, he'd lean down so he could see my face and say "Let's keep going."
-Doug being silly silly, singing and dancing.
-JC realizing we really did get him a PlayStation 3. The wonderment appeared to last most of the day.
-Rachel figuring out her toe socks.
-William never did quite figure out the Chinese finger traps.
-Jim telling my kids something outrageous, and they believed him, every time, at least for a moment.
-Sue wanting to play Lego Star Wars, instead of putting her boys to bed.
-Mom feeding the baby, every chance she got.
-John truly surprising me with his present.

So I've cleaned the gubby fingerprints off the glass coffee table, taken down the high chair, and shrunk the dining room table down to normal size. Floors need vacuuming and mopping, and there's sheets and towels to wash, but all so worth it. Wish I hadn't been sick, and that I hadn't shared that with just about everyone, but there wasn't much to be done about that. Can't wait to see them again.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Aftermath

Sorry not to have posted for a few days - my sister and her family are here, as is my mother. So there are 11 of us, including three under 3, so "glorious chaos" would be an apt description. 2 1/2 yr-old twin boys, and a 7 mo. baby girl.

Christmas Eve we went to the Children's Paegant at our church. We call it the "Instant Nativity", because any child who wishes (and arrives a little early) can have a costume and take part. Mary and Joseph are pre-assigned for fairness, but pretty much everything else, the wise men, Gabriel, angels, shepherds, sheep, is up for grabs. You have to use your imagination somewhat with some of the costumes, but it can be a lot of fun. Rachel was Mary this year, so my sister agreed that her baby, Josephine, could play the baby Jesus. Jo was a trooper, as was Rachel. She sat on Rachel's lap, looking around at all these kids coming in and standing around her. By the end she was getting a little fussy, so her big brother Andy (dressed in a "sheep" vest, but who had declined to participate) was sent up with a pacifier. This drew a huge "awwww..." from the audience, so all was well. On our way home, we drove around an looked at Christmas lights, hoping for the boys to fall asleep. Didn't work. But they went down pretty easily at home.

Christmas morning of course was wrapping paper and squeals of joy, and my living room was completely trashed. An excellent morning, therefore. The only dark clouds have been William and his cousins - William is not used to playing with smaller children, who sometimes break things by accident and will say "mine!" even when it's not, and he's been a little grumpy about it. But we're surviving.

Today I think we need to get kids out of the house for a bit, so I think we will either find a playground or visit a local attraction or both.

Friday, December 21, 2007

O Christmas Tree

We do the artificial tree thing. I suppose it's not quite as romantic as trudging through the snow, looking for the perfect tree, but it is a family activity. And warmer.

video

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Loot

I'm always torn at Christmas time. I LOVE buying things for my kids. I've always loved shopping, and to shop for people I love and buy them things I think they'll like is always fun.

BUT, then we have the "stuff" issue. As in, am I spoiling the kids with too much stuff? If they have too much stuff, will it become less important that it's something they like or will having more become the whole point?

There's a great children's book called "Crispin, the Pig Who Had it All" by Ted Dewan. Crispin, of course, is a young pig in a wealthy family who always gets the latest toy for Christmas and has broken it by New Year's. So Santa gives him an empty box, which leads to him discovering that the best gift is friends (didya see that coming?). I try to make sure we read it, especially around this time of year.

And, yet, I still want to make their dreams come true. Hmmm...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Results

Ventured through the storm to the doctor's office and had to wait for her to get there. But she had my biopsy results. Kind of a good news/bad news scenario.

It's not vasculitis (yeah!). However, the nerve was abnormal (boo!) It is delaminating, which is not a good thing, so we have to figure out why and if it is treatable.

This moves us out of the realm of rheumatology (joints) and into neurology. So she had the name of someone she said is a very good neurologist, in Newark of course. And it takes forever to get an appointment, of course.

But, she had better news about the rheumatoid arthritis, now that she knows the foot issue is seperate. She thinks it's probably Ankylosing spondylitis, which is a less severe form concentrated in the lower back, so we don't need to be aggressive on treatment until we know what's going on with the neurologist, and she does want a CAT scan of my back but see the neurologist first.

So, more doctors and appointments, and more unknowns, but is it better or worse than vasculitis? Hard to say. Or rather, I'll keep you posted.

Great Christmas Song (funny)

Slip Sliding Away

Wouldn't it figure that we would have an early closing for the schools on a day when I have a doctor's appointment? To find out my biopsy results, of course.

It is nasty out there - I was surprised when William's school canceled this morning, since there was NOTHING going on. But now we have wind and sleet - there's a good coating on everything already, and I'm sure the roads are very slick. I don't mind driving in this stuff, I have all-wheel drive and my tires are good and I have lots of experience.

It's the OTHER drivers that worry me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Where does the time go?

Holy guacamole, it's already Wednesday. I have been to the surgeon's office to have my incision looked at (healing, but I was keeping it too moist by covering it, so not yet healed), to the dentist to have my 6 mo cleaning, the grocery store, Christmas shopping, .....

This week is all the things I normally would have spread over two weeks, but didn't because I thought I would be recovering. So today is Rachel's chorus concert at school, an orthodontist appointment for JC, and dress rehearsal for the youth group play. Tomorrow I have the all-important appointment with my rheumatologist, at which I will learn if I have fairly common and treatable rheumatoid arthritis or if I have to add on a much more serious disease, vasculitis. And all the drugs and side effects that go with that. Trying not to be paranoid. And then Friday I have another dentist appointment, to start getting the crown that goes with the root canal. Does that make me the queen?

And I have guests coming, starting next Wednesday. Can't decide if I'm excited or panic-stricken (mostly excited). Don't know HOW we're going to get cleaned up enough for two 2-yr olds and a baby, but we'll make it work! Somehow! Can't wait!

Alright, enough time wasted on the computer. There's bathrooms to clean, presents to sort and wrap (that sounds like much more fun, maybe I'll do that).

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Fingernails

As in, hanging on by...

Got two batches of cookies baked today, including the HUGE Molasses Crinkle recipe (almost 9 doz!) and the very tricky Sugar Cookie recipe from my mother's great aunt. They are tender and delicious, with lemon extract instead of vanilla, but it's like rolling out toothpaste. I think I added an extra half-cup of flour, and they were even harder to roll than I remember. Perhaps I was a cup short instead...

Next time I'm adding an extra cup - I think they'll still be good and I won't loose my mind.

I also finished the sign for the Youth Group play. Took me most of the evening yesterday and putting it together took more than an hour after church today, but it's done and it looks pretty good.

So I'm actually on track for my to-do list this weekend. At least, the have-to-do's. The tree still has no ornaments, and my room is still piles of clothes, but there was progress. It's a good thing.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ghost Cat

I haven't yet cleaned up and put away the cat paraphanalia - the litter box is still in the bathroom, the food bowls and cat bed are in the back hallway. I think I will work on that tomorrow, it was still too painful today.

However, this evening, I went into the bathroom where the litter box is, and the box had clearly been used. We use the clumping litter, it turns dark when wet, and this had been used. I know that box was clean before I took Jenny to the vet for the last time, I've been staring at it every time I use that bathroom.

"William, did you pee in the litter box?"
no response
"William, did you pee in the litter box?"
"Yes" (almost inaudible)
"William, you do NOT pee in the litter box. Do you understand?"
"But Mom, I didn't sit down!"

We proceeded to have a stern discussion that humans do not use litter boxes and I went back into the bathroom. And promptly cracked up. It was SO hard to keep a straight face while I was talking to him. And notice, I went straight to William, there was no question about who was the guilty party.

This is the same child who built a construction in the back yard out of branches, snow shovels, and rope, then declared it a bathroom for "Rogue Squadron" (his group of boys at school, I'll post that another time). John was the one who asked, "William, have you used that bathroom?" "Just to pee, Dad, I didn't poop in it." Um, that's good, I guess.

Boys and pee. I don't think I'll ever understand.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Last Chapter

We had Jenny euthanized today. The vets had done a number of x-rays and found fluid in her chest, and her kidneys were not the same size. They speculated that it might just be a kidney infection, but it was likely multiple problems, including probably at least one malignancy.

The vet was very kind on the phone, and really didn't push me one way or another - as much as I might have wished her to. However, in the end, it came down to a 16-yr old cat and quality of life. If we got her through this crisis, when would the next one occur? She was already in pain from arthritis, and the last thing I wanted was to cause her all the stress of treatments and diagnosis, and then have it be hopeless anyway.

We could have had an ultrasound to know 90% for sure if the kidneys were infected or malignant, but that wouldn't have answered the question about the chest fluid, and meanwhile, she's at the animal hospital scared and in pain, and I just couldn't keep her there unless I was sure they could help her. She was so bad at new environments.

Can you tell I feel terrible about this? I keep feeling like I'm rationalizing the decision - even though I know it was a reasonable choice. I wish there had been a "right" choice, but there really isn't in a situation like this. She was an old cat, and we knew this day was coming. Wish we'd had a couple more months of her rejuvanation, but I guess we should be glad for what we got. I feel a little bad about not going to see her again, but she was in such bad shape when I left her there, I really didn't want to remember her in that condition.

Rachel keeps saying, "that's the bad part about having pets. They die!" I'm sorry, my sweet, but that's just the way it is. We have to keep our loved ones, furry or not, alive in our memories.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Geriatric Cat, part two

Jenny is at the vet again. We realized over the weekend that she had basically stopped eating, and moving, and everything else. I brought her in today and they heard fluid around her lungs and realized she was having trouble breathing, so they kept her for x-rays and gave her a diuretic to hopefully clear out some of the fluid.

It's not good news. The diuretic didn't work, which means it's not a heart problem or something like that, and the x-rays showed more fluid on one side than the other. Apparently, this probably indicates a malignancy. She's also very bony around the hips which the vet said means her muscles are wasting away, also probably a sign that her liver is not functioning properly.

So we are waiting until morning for the other vet to take a look at the x-rays, and they may send them to a radiologist for another opinion. But to really confirm a malignancy would require more invasive tests, and then what would we do about it anyway? We will probably have a decision to make tomorrow or the next few days. We did tell the kids this evening, they are very upset, but that is part of owning a pet, unfortunately.

This is the hard part about being the grown-up.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Roots! I got roots!

Ok, well, not as many anymore. I had a root canal this morning, and while it wasn't the horrific experience it is rumored to be, it isn't real high on my list of fun things to do. I got to spend most of an hour listening to our dentist be funny (which he is) and think of wisecrack replies that I either couldn't say because there were too many hands in my mouth or I just couldn't form the words with my numb tongue.

Our subjects this morning ranged from Marie Curie, to Idaho, to Hemmingway and other authors, Wikipedia, and I'm not even sure what else. And no, it wasn't just the gas, although he did have me pretty floaty when he stuck the big needle in but he turned it way down.

So I do have to go back for a crown, because there is a fracture in the rest of the tooth. He thinks that may be how the infection started in the first place - which is actually kind of nice to know, since I've been having the "how? why?" internal discussion with myself.

So now there is a little less of me than there was last week - minus one nerve (in my ankle) and one root (from my tooth). Wish that could translate to a few pounds on the scale...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Snow

Again, we have snow. I've lived in NJ for 18 years now. I don't remember having two snows (that stuck) by the first week of December. Ever, really. The kids are thrilled, and I must say it does help get in the Christmas spirit.

We have our tree up, possibly the earliest ever. It's not decorated yet, but most of the lights are on. Yes, we have an artificial tree - I grew up with one, John grew up with one, and somehow buying and throwing away a tree every year seems wasteful and expensive, even if it gets chipped into mulch. Our previous tree lasted us about 15 years, and is still going strong at the church as the "mitten tree". The only reason we bought a new tree last year was to get a taller one. After doing renovations, we have a 12 ft. ceiling in the great room and our old 6 ft. tree looked dinky, to say the least. So now we have a 10 ft tree - John wanted 12 ft, which would have just about brushed the ceiling. I thought that was too much so we got the "smaller" one. This year, I'm thinking we could have gone at least a foot taller. Oh well, it looks good anyway. And it actually has room for all my ornaments - so far. If I keep collecting, it could get a little crowded!