Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reflecting is good.

And what a great way blogging is to do that. I was just thinking about what I said the other day regarding Thomas' stuffed animals and remembered this post. Find and reading it made me smile. I need to get back into a regular posting habit again so that I can remember some of these things as time goes on; I had totally forgotten about Mittens' "party hat" (hair net)!

Gabe has become very attached to his animals too. They've taken over his bed. It's really high time to get him a net to put them in, or he'll be sleeping on the floor before we know it!

I have lots of pictures to share but need to sort through and edit them, so I think I'll do that now... Hopefully I'll have more photo posts within the next couple of days. :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

When he can't sleep, I can't sleep.

Poor Thomas just can't seem to catch a break. Between his history with his ear, his asthma, his ADHD, and now his allergies, he always seems to be having trouble somehow.

You probably already know that he finally had allergy testing done a couple of weeks ago, and several allergies were confirmed. Most of them weren't any real surprise, but unfortunately the worst of them all was dust mites, and we now know that he has a pretty severe allergy to them. In fact the doctor was excited by the results, calling them "off the charts" if I remember correctly via Brian's report; I wasn't there. Basically though, where a reaction measurement of 3 or greater marked a confirmed allergy, his reactions to two different types of dust mites were 8 and 20. -His other positive reactions were at or around 3-5.

Since dust mites live in all homes without exception, we have our work cut out for us. There is a long list of things that one can do to try to reduce the number of dust mites in his room, where his symptoms appear nightly, but we will never be able to get rid of them completely. It's also going to take some time. For example, I still haven't figured out exactly how to handle his stuffed animals; he LOVES them. He has been a good sport about removing them from the bed, but I don't know that he could be rid of them altogether; I'm not generally terribly sentimental about too many things, but even I can't ignore that there are a lot of really special memories tied up in a good number of them. I have to figure out how best to try and clean the ones that will be kept and then find some place to put them, away from his bed. ...It doesn't help that money is tight (and that's putting it lightly) right now either, as he also needs both a new mattress and two new pillows, along with all the appropriate covers (he does have some now but they don't appear to be good enough), which are pricey.

What scares me most, though, are the types of symptoms he exhibits; any symptoms would be troublesome, for sure, but he complains of things like trouble breathing, his throat getting tight, and his heart racing... He sounds okay, but he sounded okay when he complained leading up to his first severe asthma attack too, at age 5,and that one sent us to the ER in a panic at 4:30 AM when he was gasping for air, barely able to talk... He ultimately needed several steroid injections, nebulizer treatments, plenty of albuterol via his first inhaler, a serious course of Prednisone, and follow-up treatment with his primary care doctor.

All that said, he was having the same breathing issues prior to his visit with the allergist, so I never know when it is an emergency. I have this ongoing fear that one day it will be an emergency and I won't have known it until too late, and this is that point where, as a parent, I struggle. I have learned the hard way that when Thomas says something is bothering him but it seems as though he is fine and is maybe just having some anxiety or possibly exaggerating some, he must be taken seriously. Even his teachers in first grade used to shrug off his complaints, thinking he was really fine, but then we would find ourselves back at the doctor's with yet another course of Prednisone in the works. Remember, too, that this is the child who had a cholesteatoma that was almost missed; usually there is either trauma or there are persistent ear infections leading up to such a diagnosis, yet he never complained. Ever since he was an infant and the nurse practically scolded me for not knowing that he had an ear infection when I brought him in for a check-up even though he showed absolutely no symptoms (she knew only when she looked in his ear), I have wondered at how many times he could have had infections and no one would have known. Therefore I take his complaints seriously; I have to.

And so, I finally get to my point; when he can't sleep, neither can I. So here I am. Thankfully, blogging has taken enough time that he has finally drifted off and seems to be finally sleeping like a baby. My eyes are heavy, so off I go as well.

...Tomorrow I'll be washing the sheets and curtains again - and trying to figure out what else I can do to help.

Peppers and Things

My gardening prospects have not turned out so well. All of my potted plants (strawberries, green beans, spinach, +) in the backyard were destroyed by animals before even having a chance to really get started. I decided to wait on transplanting my tomatoes and peppers after that, but I waited too long, and the tomatoes wilted. The peppers (sweet bell, jalapeno, and cayenne), however, are doing great, as I put them in large pots on the front steps, but since I waited so long to transplant them, I would not be surprised if they were to succumb to a frost before bearing fruit. For now, though, they look great, and I am happy.

(You can sort of see them behind Gabe, who I think looks pretty darn cute, shucking corn on the front steps in this picture... )

Even though I did not have the success I had hoped for with my other vegetables, I am holding on to some hope for the peppers and remain encouraged to just plant a few things in planters each year from now on.

I did also have *ahem* rather limited success with one other plant out back; we have ONE marigold. They boys and I planted them ALL OVER the flower garden, in between the hostas and other mysterious flowers, but those that weren't dug up as seeds were quickly over-taken by weeds. Brian's mother generously weeded the garden while she was here a week ago, and she kindly saved our lonely prize.

On another happy note, I do believe one of my four mums has come back. As you may recall, last autumn I bought them for one dollar each and planted them out front. For that price I will try re-planting the other three this fall. Who knows? Maybe next year I'll have two!

Some projects take time.

This one is taking lots of it.

It has, um, a few squares. Teeny, tiny, little squares. I am sewing them together using an invisible seam. Did I mention it has lots of squares? Teeny tiny little ones? With lots of little ends?

The baby shower has come and gone, but I'm not giving up. It might be for a grandchild, but I'll get there. (What? I can plan ahead twenty years or so.)


New Tricks

Thanks to a good friend who one day seemingly randomly just decided to teach me how to dye fiber a couple of months ago (while she was hobbling around with a sprained ankle, I might add) and sent me home with a nice little braid of blue-green wool, I now know how to dye fiber. Or at least, I am capable of doing it. ...I mean, well, sort of. Because I did. Once. It came out NOTHING like I planned, but hey, I did it!

I don't have any good pictures of the spun blue-green effort just yet, but here's a little look at what I made on my own...

My undyed wool:

Spread in a baking pan and absorbing some food colors in my oven:

Dry, braided, and ready to bring to New Hampshire:
(It was a birthday present for my sister, who had not previously tried spinning; I also made her a very simple, inexpensive spindle... )

I kept a small portion just so that I could see how it would spin up:

There's only a teeny bit of fiber left, so now I just have to figure out how to ply and come up with a good project that doesn't require much yarn.

I wonder what it will become.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Ever since I started listening to K-Love radio just after Christmas and heard JJ Heller's song, "What Love Really Means," I haven't been able to get enough of her voice, and as a fan of her facebook page, I have to say that I really like how real and down-to-earth she seems. Today I found myself navigating to her website for the first time and stumbled across this little video. It got me thinking; I am always a big proponent of control, seeking to teach Thomas self control when his ADHD symptoms sky-rocket (not that it is a bad thing but... ) and stressing over control of my house (keeping it in order) and my children (I often feel I am too tough on them, and am more uptight than I ever thought I would be)... I needed a good reminder that I am not the one in control in the first place. God is in control, and I need to step back and remember what's important and let Him lead me; I pray for guidance daily and seek to do His work, yet I think I've been looking past His focal point for me. At the very least, it's time to stop pulling on these strings and remember from whose hands they are suspended. ...So thanks, JJ. I needed this. God is totally working through you!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

(Great) Grandma

Yikes! It's been almost three months since I posted! What is happening to me?? Actually, some good things and some bad things are happening to me, but I'm taking it all in stride for now. When it comes to writing though, my thoughts tend build up while I am driving or out at a special event -- and some times on a rare solo excursion. Of course I have all the words when I am nowhere near a computer. Then I sit down, and they are gone.

As I know I've touched on before, it's especially hard to come up with words for the difficult times, like the passing of a loved one, which really halted my efforts this June. Brian's grandmother passed away just before her 90th birthday, and even though I only saw her here and there, through the years, she was one of those rare treasures of a person whose kindness wrapped up all those around her with a sort of comfort reminiscent of childhood dependence on unconditional love and tender care, and I loved her. She reminded me of my own great grandmother the very first time I met her, roughly fourteen years ago, and I always thought of her as my own.

Brian and I tried to make regular trips to visit her when we were still living in New Hampshire and yearly visits after we moved to New York. It didn't take long for me to see that Brian's family all loved her in a unique way as well, and that they, too, held their memories with her in a very special place. I watched Thomas climb on her infamous climbing tree in the backyard, slept upstairs in the super hot finished attic, and joined her for some late night ice cream on more than one occasion. I even played baseball in her backyard with Brian, his dad, and Thomas, when I was pregnant with Gabe. My favorite part of our visits, however, was just enjoying her company. As I grow older I often feel there are fewer and fewer people with whom I can connect the way I felt we did when we chatted, and time spent with her was good therapy. Some day I hope I can be like her, providing the warmth and comfort that she did, to my own family as it grows.

Yes, it was hard seeing her empty house up for sale after she finally had to make the move into her assisted living facility, and I know she missed the way things once were, but she was ready too. I used to give her a hard time when she would mutter something about hopefully not being around that much longer, but I remember now that as hard as it always is to say goodbye, it was her time, and I don't doubt that she is enjoying all the glory of the kingdom of heaven as I type.

Knowing that we will never have another excuse to visit her in that cute little cape in Pawtucket, however; that home filled with love and years of family memories, that local park with the carousel, the restaurant where we watched Brian's youngest sister, Lauren, sample her first lobster, munching on the best fish & chips ever in her cozy little kitchen, all those trips and never leaving without a tub of chicken salad from Willow Tree Farm (for good reason, I might note)... all because of her... Those things will all be a little harder to swallow, but I am thankful for a chance to share in a slice of her time here with us. I'm grateful for every moment I spent at her house and for knowing someone like her; genuine, real, with a heart of gold... and that Thomas got to experience some of her love too (Gabe and Logan a little too, but Thomas spent the most time with her). I think I can speak for the whole family when I say she will be dearly missed, but also that we will treasure our memories of her, with her, in a life-touching way, as long as we live, ourselves.

Thanks, Grandma.