Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Extra Happy

Linus got an award at the Awards Day assembly at school today. I'm curious what kind of award y'all might think she received. Sooo, what's your guess?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Extra Thanks

A very heartfelt thanks to the many men and women who have served our great country and provided us the freedom that we enjoy. For personal sacrifices you've made, as well as the sacrifices your families have made, I am forever grateful.

Among other family members, my father, grandfather, uncle, and great uncle were service members. My grandfather was among those storming the beaches of Normandy. Oh how I wish I had been able to hear his stories first hand.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Guess Who

Guess who said the following tidbit. Bonus points if you can tell me what the person was talking about.

These nipples are hard, but when you suck them they go down.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Sign of the Times

Linus has this (very annoying) toy that says, "Red Alert!" Despite trying to tell her otherwise, she's convinced it says, "Credit Alert!" and goes around saying it constantly. I guess she's not too young to teach her about good credit. :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sweet Little Lolly

Afternoon carpool at the school Linus attends is run like a well oiled machine. Nine cars load at a time after snaking through the parking lot. The kids are called in stages, so they are (usually) ready by the time you get to the loading area. As we snaked through on Friday, Linus made it to the first holding area more quickly than usual. Lolly looked over (two rows away, and kind of hidden!) and noticed Linus. She immediately got a huge smile and her whole body began bouncing and shaking with happiness. It was finally time to see her Linus. Then we pulled forward to continue moving towards the loading area. Lolly panicked. She began screaming and reaching her arms towards the window in the direction of Linus. And she screamed and cried until we finally got to Linus. By the time Linus got into the car, Lolly had worked herself into a full panic and was doing that cry-breathing when you can barely catch your breath. Linus could not stand to see Lolly so upset. It's so sweet to watch their love bloom and show.

Linus has been in love from the beginning. :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Extra Sleepy

Stupid, stupid, stupid internet is giving problems, so I'm going to do a quick post and hope it works...

Last night a loud crashing sound woke us up. Army groggily asked what the noise was.

Before I could answer, he began snoring. Between Army and the dog, who never even woke up, I feel quite safe. Ha! At least we have The Bitch to protect us.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Extra Love


No Swine Flu here. Just lots of giggles and smiles. My goodness I love this girl!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Extra Sick and Tired

Tuesday morning when I tried to wake Linus for school, I was met with some resistance. As I nudged and said her name for the second or third time, she coughed and said she couldn't go to school. Then she coughed again. When I asked her why she couldn't go to school, she coughed again, snorted like a pig, coughed again, then said, "Swine flu."

Honestly, I'm not sure whether she caught a glimpse of the media hype or if she overheard Army and I talking about it. She never opened her eyes and never cracked a smile.

The child is even funny in her sleep! :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Extra Annoyed

What happened to customer service? I know I've gone off on this before, but it's on my nerves again.

*Yesterday we were at Home Depot, and the guy in front of us was sent back to get an identical product as the one he planned to purchase because his didn't have a bar code. We waited (and didn't mind, really) while he ran and got another one. The cashier told us we could go to self-check if we wanted to because it would be faster. We're big fans of self-check, but because we were getting items that had nearly non-existent weight, we knew from experience that self-check would give us problems. Once the guy returned and finished checking out, it was our turn. We placed our items on the counter, and on the last item, there was no bar code. I told the lady it was $9.99, but she said, "I can't just trust the price you're telling me, I have to have the bar code." Fine, I get that you can't just take my word for it, but I'd sure as heck say it a different way. Perhaps, "I'm sorry. I have to scan a bar code for it to ring up." would have been a little less harsh than I don't freaking believe you. I was annoyed (hey, they're shooting 100% on missing bar codes per transaction), so I just said, "We'll just get one next time." I was not going to make the man in line wait yet again for somebody to go get another product. The lady got annoyed with me! She told us we could go to the garden center after we finished checking out, switch out the product, and then pay for it there. Um, no. I have two kids with me. Home Depot is a nightmare with my kids when things go well, I'm not dragging them back through the store again. And really, it wasn't a time sensitive item, so we really can pick it up next time. Or elsewhere. I still don't know why she couldn't call the garden dept and ask for a price check. And for the record, without my kids, I would have just gone and paid for it in the GD, but still. Customer service people. Novel concept.

*Monday I took the girls into Walgreens to pick something up quickly. Linus wanted everything in sight, so I wanted to keep the errand as quick as possible. We made our way to the checkout, and the (very) elderly lady in front of us wanted to do two transactions. No problem. As we waited, the line grew, so the cashier asked another one to open the counter behind us and help check out. Keep in mind I have a baby in my arms and another child with me along with what we were buying. As soon as the other lady opens the other counter, the lady behind, who works for Walgreens, rushed over there and bumped in to me in her attempt to beat anyone else there. I'll give the first cashier credit, she asked the girl who bumped me to please let the customers go first (to which the girl said, "but I'm in a hurry."). No apology whatsoever from the girl, and there's no way she didn't know that she bumped me. It jostled Lolly enough that she started crying! Ugh!

What happened to training employees in customer care? I worked at a bank in college, and I had hours of training in customer service and I didn't even work in a department that interacted with customers! I volunteer at Children's Hospital, and you better bet we're trained in customer care. As a parent of a child who has been a patient at Children's, I can guarantee it's the little things that count.

I know I sound geriatric whining about customer service, but really, if I'm going to spend money somewhere, I'd rather not be pushed, you know? That's not to say I'll never shop at Walgreens or HD again, but if it becomes a trend, you better believe I'll stop. I'm a fan of locally owned stores anyway, and there's plenty locally owned hardware stores and nurseries. What's your experience?

Monday, May 11, 2009

An Extra Year Update

Some of you have asked how my father is doing. Unfortunately, he's gone downhill since my post last year. He was able to return to work, but he has since retired. Thankfully that was an option for him.

We've had quite a few scares over the past year, but the most significant came in August. Because nothing is ever boring and simple at our house, my dad lay dying, yet again, as Lolly began her entrance into this world. The doctors were very frank with my mother, and they let her know that it was very unlikely he would survive the night. What began tears of sorrow and fear became tears of hope and happiness as we celebrated life: Lolly's birth and my dad's survival.

We don't know how much longer we have with him, and quite frankly, I'm not sure how much more his body can take. For now, though, we're enjoying the time we do have.

Thanks for all your good thoughts! I cannot begin to tell you how much they meant the first time I wrote about his incident, now how much they've continued to help as we go about this journey.

Here's the original post in case anyone is interested:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

An Extra Birthday

One year ago today, I got one of the worst phone calls a person can get.

Linus and I enjoyed a fun Mother's Day Luncheon, then Army and I headed out with our agent to look at houses. While we were out, my mother called. I confirmed that we were planning to go to her city the next day, and then asked her if I could call her back when we were finished. She realized just how busy we were, and readily agreed. She planned to go shopping with one of her friends, and then possibly out to dinner. My father was out of town.

As Army and I were driving home, my cell phone rang. I fished around for it, and just as I found I found it, voice mail picked up. I looked at caller id and grumbled when I saw it was my mother. I though, ugh, she knows how busy I am--I told her I'd call when I could. Right before the tone went off to let me know I had a message, I though to myself, oh no--what if something is wrong. I dialed her number, but I got a busy signal. She has call waiting, so I knew that meant she had to be calling somebody else. I went ahead and listened to my message. It was short and her voice was filled with fear: Lan, I need you.

I tried to call back, but now there was no answer. I thought about calling my dad's cell, but since he was out of town, I knew all I'd do was worry him. Just as I was in near full panic, Army's cell rang. It was my mom. I could only hear his side of the conversation, but I knew instantly it was really bad. Then he handed me his phone.

"Lan, I'm on my way to SmallCity (where my dad was). They found Dad in a parking lot. Lan, he wasn't breathing and he didn't have a pulse. They think he had a heart attack. They have him at the hospital now. That's all I know. Can you come?"

"Wait, Mom. What are you saying? Is he dead? A heart attack is impossible. He had an angiogram not long ago, and he had no blockage. Something is not right. I just don't understand. Yes, I'll come. Where is he? Is he alive? Who found him? How long had he been down? Mom, IS HE ALIVE?"

"Lan, I've told you all I know. Can you come?"

"Mom is he alive? What hospital?"

"Lan, I don't know. I think he's alive. They had him breathing when I spoke with the hospital, but he keeps slipping."

"Hang up now! Mom, you've got to call the hospital back and tell them he's on a blood thinner and all his medications."

My dad carried a list of all his medications in his wallet, so thankfully they were able to have immediate access to all meds and dosages. "Lan, I've done that. Can you come?"

"Mom, who is with you? Have you told Sis? What about your sister?"

"Lan, I'm alone. I really need you. I called P, J, J, and K. None of them answered their cells. I was supposed to go out with P and J. They are probably in a store and not getting good reception. I haven't told you sister yet. I can't Lan. I just can't do it and drive to SmallCity. I've just got to focus on your father living."

At this point, I'm in tears. We pulled into our garage, and I'm immediately greeted by Linus. In my not-so-finest-hour, I barked at Linus to go to her room. I didn't want to make her panicked. Duh, not quite sure about seeing her mommy in tears and telling her to go to her room was going to keep her from getting upset. Thankfully we had a great babysitter here, and she went and took care of Linus. WonderDog was already at the vet's clinic--we had boarded her since we were planning to go out of town early the next morning.

Mom called back and said J and P had called her back when they saw their missed calls, but that she told them not to go up, she'd be fine. I called J and begged her to go to my mom even though mom had said no. J told me she and P were already in the car--they were dropping off J's daughter and then headed for the hospital in SmallCity. Funny thing is, they had no idea where the hospital was. Army went to med school in that state, so he knew and had to get them there over the phone. I felt better knowing my mom wasn't going to be alone the whole time.

I called Mom again and asked if she'd told my sister yet. She said she hadn't and that she couldn't. Calling my sister was soooo hard. She was in the car with her whole family. I asked her to call me back when she got home, but she could hear the emotion in my voice and demanded that I tell her what was wrong right then. I told her and she fell apart.

Next I called one of my mom's sisters despite my mom asking me not to. I had no idea at the time, but my aunt had just learned my uncle was terminally ill, yet they didn't have any answers beyond that he would die. She dropped everything and decided to come right up. I knew she would. My mom and that aunt are super close, and I also knew she'd make the trip with my sister. My sister had decided that her husband would stay home with the girls, and she'd come alone. I didn't want her making that trip alone.

Next I had to focus on getting us out of there. It took us a little while to pack and get on the road (it felt like forever!) because I had no idea how long I'd be gone, nor did I know if I'd be attending my father's funeral. It was awful.

On the trip to get to SmallCity (about 5 hours away), I was on the phone constantly. I tried so hard to be very cryptic in what I was saying--I wanted to shield Linus as much as possible--but it was near impossible. We called Army's brother and asked if we could drop Linus there for the night, and of course he said yes. I called my mom's other sister and asked her to pray. She lives about 15 hours away from SmallCity that my dad was in. She offered to take the next plane out, but I asked her to wait and we'd assess everything in the morning.

On the way there, there was an unbelievable amount of road construction, so our 5 hour trip ended up closer to 7 1/2. I was constantly in contact with my mom and sister getting updates.

I prepared my mom for seeing my dad with tons of tubes (assuming he was alive) and his color being off. Thankfully, Army knew exactly what to expect, so he had me tell her exactly what she'd walk into. Finally she was able to call us with the good news that he was alive. Better yet, he didn't look bad at all. Sure he had a few tubes, mom said, but he looked just like himself. Why I believed that, I'll never know. I guess I needed to believe it.

Mom called and asked us to stop at her house and let her dog out. I wasn't all too happy, because I wanted to get to my dad, but we did it. At that point, I decided Linus would go on with us. She knew something was up, and I could NOT just toss her off to a relative.

After what seemed like forever, we arrived at the hospital. My father had been moved from the ER to CICU. Since it was a small city, they had a small hospital, but that small hospital was wonderful. They didn't want my mom to be alone (before her friends got there), so they had one of the security guards available for anything she needed. He brought her fresh coffee constantly, bottled water, blankets, etc. We all came to love this man. He checked on my dad for the longest time after the incident. They also had a private entrance to the CICU. We LOVED that!

We finally learned that what we were originally told wasn't accurate. Dad had been in a place of business when everything happened. This business had security cameras that captured it all, so we were able to get a detailed story. Apparently Dad had cardiac arrest (but NOT a heart attack) and his heart and breathing stopped. He dropped between two displays, and it took three minutes for anyone to see him. Once he was seen, they called an emergency, and two other people there began CPR. An ICU nurse noticed the commotion and removed the CPR guys because they were doing it incorrectly. By this time a person at the business trained to use a defibrillator came (seriously, what are the chances?) and she and the ICU nurse shocked Dad back into a good rhythm. They continued with CPR until the ambulance arrived because he still wasn't breathing on his own. He had to be shocked multiple times and eventually he even began breathing sporadically on his own. He tried to tell them about his medicine, but he was unable to talk. He continued to go into bad rhythm in the ambulance, so they had to shock him in there too.

When Army and I went to see my dad, my mom, Sis, and aunt were already back there. Linus stayed with mom's friends (she knows them well). Linus, naturally, entertained the CICU waiting room. My mom lied! My dad looked AWFUL. He had tubes coming from everywhere. His ventilator tube still had the attachment they use in the ER while they are trying to keep the mouth open, so it was shoved in there and made him have a grimace on his face. He was completely unresponsive.

When the doctor saw new people in the room, he came in immediately to explain, yet again, what was going on. I asked Army a question, and the doctor gently explained the answer to me. When he found out Army is a physician, he gave him the rundown in words that are way above my head. Army asked a few above-my-head questions to which the doc answered above-my-head answers. Then doc turned to me and saw the completely lost look on my face and brought it all back down to my level. That meant the world to me. Within seconds of him leaving, Dad began choking on secretions in his vent. They called a RT, but apparently Dad couldn't wait for her to arrive. The ICU nurse went into action, tubes went flying, a doc came running, and my sister and I broke down. Army walked us out of Dad's room, while Mom stayed behind. As soon as he got us to the waiting room with my aunt and mom's friends, he ran back to be with my mom. It was awful. Absolutely awful.

Despite the fact that it was now about 2 in the morning, Dad's nurse insisted my sister and I come back to his room again so that we could see that he was now ok. I'll forever be grateful to her for that.

Mom's friends went home, and Mom decided to stay the night in the CICU waiting room. Because of Army, I knew the statistics: most people who code do it again and do not make it. I wanted to stay too, but Mom wanted me to take Linus to a hotel. Army, Linus and I headed out. Mom, Sis, and my aunt stayed.

The next morning when the doc rounded, he told my mom how happy and surprised he was that Dad made it through the night. That stung like I never imagined. I was happy to know my father was still with us, but hearing how close he came was awful. We were also given the news that if he didn't wake up within 24 hours (he was in a coma), that he likely wouldn't.

We all looked for glimpses of hope, yet Dad did not wake up. We'd think he moved a finger, just for a nurse to tell us we imagined it. Hour by hour went by, and our fear grew.

Saturday night (over 24 hours since the incident) my sister went back to the hotel with us. She had a connecting room. She called me, and we had the dreaded conversation: what if we have to have the really dreaded conversation--do we remove him from life support? They had prepared us that we may have to discuss it since he didn't wake up. Army kept insisting that we give him 72 hours. If he still didn't wake up, he'd want a brain function test run, then run again 72 hours after that.

Sunday morning (Mother's Day), they let us know that 24 hours had well passed. Mom insisted Dad has always done things in his own time, and that 24 hours didn't count for him. Army insisted we give 72. During the past day and a half, I'd made calls to other family members to keep them up to date. Many of them are physicians too, and they agreed with Army: 72 hours was a must. Somehow I was appointed the family spokesperson, a job nobody wants, so I had to speak to zillions of people.

Late Sunday afternoon, we decided to go for 72 hours and screw the 24 hour idea. My sis had been out of town the two weeks prior, so mom sent her home to her kids, and my aunt home to her ailing husband. Army called work and let them know to cancel his appointments...he wouldn't be there.

Later Sunday afternoon, a priest was called in to say a blessing over my father. I begged everyone to tell my dad that this was NOT Last Rites, but nobody did (I was at the hotel with Linus, so I couldn't tell him myself). They all thought I was nuts--Dad was in a coma, it didn't matter what they told him. I, however, had been watching his vent like a hawk, and had seen that he was beginning to breathe over his vent and on his own some. I also noticed that his respiration number changed very obviously when we were in the room talking. I KNEW he could hear us. Anyway, nobody told him it was NOT Last Rites. The priest got started, and within a few minutes, Dad kicked his leg hard. It was as if he was saying I'M NOT DYING! Army got the nurse, and she got the doctor. He did that dreaded sternum rub (for those of you who haven't seen it, it's awful---they rub their knuckles into your chest as hard as they can). Nothing. Not a budge. They called it coincidence that he moved. We knew otherwise. Then Army pointed out the respiration number and that the respirator was doing 100% of his breathing. They said he was slipping further. Army said he had worn himself out trying to kick.

They sat us down and said that patients simply do not "just wake up" like that, that they do it very slowly. Mom said leave it to my dad---he'd 'just wake up' like that. The doctor said he certainly hoped so and asked if he could add Dad to their prayer chain at his church. Of course!

Mom and I though he opened his eyes just a tiny bit, but we were told he didn't really. Nothing significant happened that night. Army spent the night at the hospital that Sunday night while my Mom came back to the hotel for some rest. Naturally she couldn't sleep, so she was back at the hospital before dawn. Then I got a phone call: Lan, HE'S AWAKE! Come quick!

I raced over there. He sure enough was awake. He was fighting the vent, so they removed it with the warning that he'd likely have to have it placed again. He didn't. Once the vent was removed, he began reading everything on the tv. We were amazed. So was the doctor. My sister rushed back. They asked us to leave while they assessed him, which they said would take 1-2 hours, so we grabbed a bite to eat. When we returned, Dad was eating a popsicle, though he was begging for banana pudding instead. They said he had to have the popsicle, and that he couldn't have anything milk based for at least another day. Within an hour he was eating that banana pudding. :)

It took a few more days to get him moved to a bigger hospital in a larger city. During those days it became rather obvious that this would be a long road. He did not know who any of us were, what he did, where he was...nothing.

He had to have surgery at the big hospital, then a few weeks later was moved to a rehab facility. He was in the rehab facility for a month or so. While there, he began to learn our names once again. He did, however, have tremendous memory issues. There was no way he could be left alone. His license was taken away (no complaints--he obviously couldn't drive!), his freedom was taken away.

Once he left the rehab facility, he went home, but he still required 24/7 care. It was very difficult to see my strong father in such a state, but we were so thankful he was alive.

After several months, we began to see little sparkles in his eyes, symbols that he was regaining his jovial personality. We collectively breathed a sigh of relief. Fear was replaced with hope. Although the dad I had grown up with may never return, I at least had a little bit of him. I could hug him. Linus could sit in his lap. A wife had a husband, two girls had a Daddy, and three girls had a grandfather who we all almost lost.

Exactly one year later we celebrate a re-birthday with him. I'm so proud of his accomplishments. Through tons of hard work, he's regained his independence, his life. Last week, he even got his license back. He taught a bunch of family and friends to never give up. That's a lesson that will take us so very far! Actually, we've learned that lesson twice--my uncle, the one who was terminal, is still with us. And he's not listed as terminal anymore!

I love you Dad! Thanks for sticking around! :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Extra Happy Wishes

To all the Mommies, Birth-Mommies, Step-Mommies, God-Mommies and Mommies-to-be, Happy Mother's Day!

I plan to spend the day with my two girls. Linus formulated a plan for breakfast for me (Army had to spill the beans because he knew I wouldn't like it) that I'll enjoy with a smile. The thought she put into it more than makes up for the not-so-great food. Anyway, it's the company it's all about! Later, we'll probably plant some flowers. Unfortunately, we won't be able to go see my own mother.

How do you plan to spend the day?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

An Extra Special Evening

Mid-afternoon Army and I were hand delivered invitations to a dinner tonight. The invitations were hand written, personalized, and they were detailed. At the appropriate time, Army and I made our way to that party.

We didn't have to go too far to get there...just up the stairs to the playroom. When we made it there, our hostess with the mostess, Linus, surprised us. She had soft music playing, a table set perfectly, dimmed lights, and fancy napkins that she made. She presented us with a hand-written menu complete with prices and pictures to go with each item.

Army and I oooh'd and ahhh'd and finally made our selection. While we waited for our dinner to cook, we were presented with imaginary tea, which Linus poured for us, tea cookies, and soup. Linus joined us for dinner while Lolly happily bounced in her Johnny Jump-Up.

After dinner, Linus told us the dessert list. She highly recommended the Cinco de Mayo Sundae, and she stood back and tall while we made our selections. We both chose the sundae, which was imaginarily delicious, and then the three of us enjoyed the music and conversation.

Who knew dinner prepared by a six year old could be so delicious and fun?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

An Extra Prayer

Linus goes to a religious school. She learns a prayer each quarter. While I don't believe that rote memorization of prayers equals a true religious belief, I do see their reasoning behind memorizing the prayers. Linus has a LOT of trouble memorizing the prayers each quarter though. A whole lot. Their current prayer is the Hail Mary. We've made a lot of progress towards memorization thus far, but I think it's obvious we've got a way to go still.

Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Linus's version
Hail Mary, full of God, the Lord is with me. Bless it are thou among women, and bless it is the fruit of the womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for our centers, now and at our death. Amen.

I try to say a bit, then have her repeat it. Here's our conversation:
Me: Hail Mary
L: Hail Mary
Me: Full of grace
L: Full of God
Me: Linus, Grace like your name. GRACE. Surely you can remember that, right? Full of Grace
L: Full of God
Me: The Lord is with thee
L: The Lord is with me
Me: Blessed art thou amongst women
L: Bless it are thou among women
Me: And blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus
L: And bless the fruit of the womb Jesus (I left that one alone because I think it's better than many kids' fruit of the loom
Me:Holy Mary, mother of God
L: Holy Mary, mother of God
Me: Pray for us sinners
L: Pray for our centers
Me: What did you say?
L: Pray for us centers. Aren't we praying that we do well at our centers, especially on Fridays during free centers time?
Me: Sinners, Linus, not centers. Like a sin.
L: Oh, well, we should probably pray for our centers too.
Me: Now and at the hour of our death.
L: Now and at our death.
Me: Amen
L: Amen.
Me: Your turn. You try it on your own.
L: Ok. How does it start?
Me: Hail Mary
L: Hail Mary. What's next?
Me: Full of grace
L: Like me!
Me: Yes, like you.
L: Full of God.

Ugh! She'll get it eventually, right?