Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Things are Decent, aka "What's New, Scooby Doo?"

Time has been limited for me, but I \will try to stay on top of providing information since this has been a help to me.  I'd like to take the time to look at what's been going on to make me laugh or  doesn't drive me insane. 

The Smurfs still drive me up the wall at times.  We (the whole family) have been home together for 11 days.  That's 11 days of crying, whining, running, jumping, breaking, Christmas, toys, and relatives.  It's rough when 1 and 2 are together because they're at the age where they've learned how to work together to do the things they're not supposed to do.  They've figured out how to operate the car keys to open the doors; combine that with being able to reach the locks on the front door and move like ninjas when they want, and i've got two kids that need bells around their necks when near the front door.  To me it's funny because the rest of the time that they're awake it's hard to not know where they are.  Both of them are so loud when together that i'm always pre-planning trips into the store with them.  I do the classic "If you do this then you will feel the WRATH OF DAD" speech, which occasionally works.  Add Smurf 3 into it, who is becoming more vocal and wanting more stimulation, and it turns into a "fun" outing at the grocery store.  We're at the point where I have to keep telling them that I will not be buying any toys at the store; they can look but nothing goes home with us.  They have so many toys (and with Christmas recently behind us) that I can't take anything else coming into the house.  It is nice to see them playing with each other's toys and creating some colorful stories.  My son will sit there with the strawberry shortcake house with the girls riding hotwheels cars while my daughter has one of the castles or the firehouse having cinderella slide down the pole to ride a motorcycle.

Scooby-Doo has become a recent mainstay on the t.v., and I actually like the older shows of it (I watched them all as a kid).  Once I was able to explain that the "ghosts" are people in costumes, they love watching the episodes.  The new version appears to be scarier, so we avoid those.  However, it's to the point where Smurf 3 will watch the t.v. when it's on, and then he gets mad if we stop it before it ends.

What I am enjoying/loathing is that my kids are not indoor kids.  Even though they have their t.v. shows they like to watch, it's not something they spend all day doing.  They begged and pleaded to go outside to swing, play in the leaves, dig up stuff, climb trees, go to parks and playgrounds, and take walks.  Even Smurf 3 preferred to be outside rather than inside.  I just wish I could find more places with climbable trees at parks so they could have more fun.  I've wanted to take them to practice putting since they like it, but it's hard to do with Smurf 3 because he gets bored easily now and the wife doesn't like golf.  They all seem to be into collecting rocks, finding nests, etc.

I get to be a stay-at-home dad for another month, then I have to switch jobs and spend time in an office.  Smurf 3 will have to go to daycare at that time, and to be honest i'm dreading it.  We were able to eliminate 2 of his meds and reduce the ones remaining but he's still small and delayed.  However it seems that the more stimulation he receives the faster he's developing, but it's hard to keep up with him in what he wants to see or do.  I've been able to get him to roll over from his stomach to his back, but not the other way around.  He's definitely trying though, and will get mad if he can't turn the way he wants.  He does like watching his siblings, even when they are in his face and become too rough with him. Right now i've got him in a swing and the others watching Scooby-Doo, but they're also playing with a castle and Strawberry Shortcake House/figurines.  Smurf 3 is asleep in the swing, giving my wife time to rest from the craziness of us all.  Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Progress aka "The Grass is Starting to Turn Green"

So overall good things have been happening with minor setbacks, but that's life. Smurf 3 has been home for a month after spending a week in the PICU with bronchitis.  He required a small amount of oxygen to come home (0.1 liters of airflow; the consistently of having a fan blowing in your face) but has been off it for over two weeks now.   Now that he's finally not sick he has time to start acting like a baby.  Right now he's showing a lot of progress with developmental skills but he is expected to be behind at this point because he was premature and spent a lot of time hospitalized with issues.  At 4 1/2 months he is still working on holding his head up and coordinating objects with his hands.  However he can roll over onto his side from his stomach and will even military crawl about six inches if he can get traction on his feet (the boy has some strong leg muscles!).  He is just at 10 pounds, so he's still a small Smurf. However we've noticed that he has very little body fat and is eating/feeding a lot right now.  I mean this kid goes through 3 oz. of formula per bottle as well as having applesauce as a filler.  About an hour and a half later (unless asleep) he will want the same amount.  We've had to start adding rice cereal to this bottles just to make them last longer.  So if we can fatten him up that would be a good thing!

Smurfs 1 and 2 continue to amaze me.  Sure they're pains in the ass a good portion of the day, but they are definitely learning a lot about socialization, helping others, and empathy.  Smurf 2 is really sensitive to the feelings of others, whereas Smurf 1 (being a boy) has the attention span of... me.  So when he bounces from topic to topic and barely pauses to apologize for something wrong he did I can follow him without thinking about it.  However, my wife will stop the both of us and make sure he backtracks to the apology and understands why he was in the wrong. 

Kid logic is so funny to me.  Smurfs 1 & 2 can come up with an excuse for anything in the world, and it actually makes sense in their limited view of the world.  I've heard stories about why cookies can be eaten before dinner, why it's okay to leave a room messy, and how writing a lot can lead to a hand injury (now that was funny!). 

My stress is less because we're getting into a better routine at the home.  Granted I still have to work in the evenings now and try to take care of the house (which is a war i'm still losing) but it's worth it to be home with Smurf 3.  I've definitely got to improve my home organization skills and learn to balance the time with my work requirements.  At least my mind isn't as scattered as it was a few months ago.  Hopefully things will continue to improve.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Month of Stuff, aka "When Life Gives you Lemons..."

I've been wanting to post something over the past month, but have not had the time due to a variety of things.  There have been several ups and downs, all the while my stress levels have not seen a decrease.  So, here's a brief summation:

Up - Smurf 3 finally came home!  He is on several medications but we're able to maintain them and keep track of what's needed at what times.  He is more alert and active than he was in the hospital, and his siblings are CONSTANTLY checking on him.  When I say checking, I mean they: talk to him, hug him, kiss him, want to hold him, read to him, rub his head, give him his bottle/pacifier, etc.  It's a little overwhelming at time, and we have to continue reminding Smurf 1 and 2 to give him some space.

Down - I've noticed that since he's been home it's been hard for my wife to get into a rhythm with the other two Smurfs.  She spends most of her time with Smurf 3 (which is expected), so i'm monitoring the others.  This means I do most of the homework, cooking, cleaning, laundry, bathing, and bedtime with them.  So of course if she reprimands them or gives directions, they ask me if they can do it (which bugs both of us).  I'm trying to keep them to a routine and integrate Smurf 3 into it, but because he hadn't been home long we have to worry about his health and safety.  ugh.

Down - the hospital we were at sucked.  Well, the hospital itself was okay, but the nursing staff in the NICU sucked.  If you ever have a young child that needs to go to a hospital, DO NOT take them to a teaching hospital.  I don't care what kind of experts they have, the day-to-day pains of dealing with ignorant, crappy, and uncaring nurses is not worth it.  They get rotated each shift, so it was rare to have the same nurse two days in a row.  That sucked because they wouldn't know Smurf 3 and would try things that, if they had been there before, would know did not work with him.  Or they were lazy and didn't care (or at least gave that appearance).  There was one nurse who was so lazy that she spent the entire time on the computer doing a wedding registry.  Luckily my wife was able to sit there all day with him, so she was able to advocate for Smurf 3 and call the nurses out on what they were doing.  If it wasn't for her, they would not have moved as fast or informed us of what was going on.  The staff there (doctors and nurses) would try to talk around or over my wife regarding care and progress instead of with her, and so she started speaking up and dictating what they would and would not do.  If she hadn't, he would have had several unnecessary procedures and probably would still be sitting there. If possible I do not ever want to go there again.

Up - No jealousy from the siblings.  As I mentioned earlier, they are constantly checking on him and want to help take care of him.  I haven't seen any signs of jealousy; it makes  me proud. However...

Down - they do worry about him.  Each day I pick up the Smurfs from school they ask if he's still at home or the hospital.  If he coughs or make a noise, both immediately stop whatever they are doing to check on him.  They are diligent that he gets his medications as well (remember, they are only 3 & 4).  It makes me sad that they worry about him because of the lengthy hospital stay, and at their age they should be having more fun than worries.  This leads into the next thing...

Down - Today we had to take Smurf 3 to the ER.  He was having some fast breathing for the past two days, and this morning while drinking a bottle he started crying again.  He then turned purple and had trouble breathing.  I tried to clear his airway and give pats on the back, but they didn't work. My wife did rescue breaths while I called 911, which seemed to work immediately.  At the hospital every test is turning up negative (which is no surprise given his history), lungs were clear, heart was strong, etc.  They suspect an upper respiratory infection because he did have some mucus and required oxygen for saturation and reduce his respiration rate.  So right now he's in PICU at the hospital with my wife.  I'm at home with the other two Smurfs and had to explain to them why he was in the hospital.  I told them he got sick and the doctors wanted to check him and let him stay for a few days to make sure he was no longer sick.

Up and Down - Vising the hospital was fine for the Smurfs.  They actually took it in stride and asked a few questions; otherwise they did not act bothered.  After the visit, however, Smurf 1 told me he was nervous about going because he thought Smurf 3 was going to look bad.  Smurf 2 just processed the situation by talking out loud to me and her brother was asking for reassurance.  That really broke my heart to hear the both of them, but I reassured them that everything is okay.

Up - My wife is holding up better than I am.  She was freaking out when he turned blue, but working together helped her out.  She said she's now just hanging out there with him, watching t.v. and waiting.  Also, the doctors at the hospital (which is the one we prefer) have been upfront with everything, asked questions, gave information, and have been receptive to feedback.  Right now it's a waiting game until he is well enough to go home.  Me, i'm a basketcase because i'm not there.  However, it's easier for me to be with the other two Smurfs because we have a routine that works for us.  If I was at the hospital I would annoy the hell out of everyone with constant questions. Plus, I cannot sit still for any length of period unless i've got busy work.

Up and Down - no idea what i'm going to do for work.  As is, with doctor appointments, Smurf 3 coming home, and keeping up the home (which still looks awful) I'm not doing as much work as I should to bring in money.  Since my job ends soon, I need to figure out what i'm going to do to at least have some income.  However, I've gotten to the point where I just don't care and have decided not to stress about it.  If i work, I work; if not, then "oh well." 

I've been reciting a hilarious rant in my head to keep me sane over the past month. It works some of the times, but I should probably replace it.  It's Cave Johnson from Portal 2.  It's a rant about life giving you lemons and what to do with them.  I'm going to keep trying to keep my head above water and not go crazy on someone (although I did come close today).  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Loud and Proud, aka "Kids Say the Weirdest Things"

The Smurfs have been able to visit Smurf 1 in the hospital since Friday, which has been the highlight of their day each time.  It's quite a pain at times because they are either too aggressive or passive when visiting.  Smurf 1 just cannot stand still and wants to push on him and grab his head.  Smurf 2 acts as if Smurf 3 has the plague and is tentative about going near him.  However, after we have left she talks about him as if she was taking care of him and had a great time.   So on the first day they got to visit, both were understandably excited.  They were asking a bunch of questions, looking at stuff, saying how cute Smurf 3 was, etc.  Well, his diaper needed to be changed, and surprisingly Smurf 1 wanted to watch (Smurf 2 has backed away several steps because she's just timid in this situation).  When his diaper comes off, Smurf 1 notices that Smurf 3 has an inflated belly button.  He has a small hernia that makes his belly button inflate, but it's supposed to correct itself.  Anyway, he looks at it and declares (quite loudly):

"Look! He has a belly penis!"

 A couple of the nurses tried their hardest not to laugh, but it couldn't be helped.  I laughed so hard I started coughing.  It's not a misspoken word or phrase, but i'm counting it as one.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Life Sucks at Times, aka "What's Going On?"

Well, just when we thought Smurf 3 would be coming home, he develops several problems at once.  His stomach became distended, and it's just full of air.  They cannot find any reason why at this point, so that's frustrating.  Then, his liver is showing enlarged veins but looks healthy; however, his test levels are coming back high.  They tried a medication, but he's starting to look jaundiced and every flarking test is coming back negative.  So now they're moving him to a hospital 45 minutes away because the pediatric liver specialist (didn't even know you could get THAT specialized) is at this other hospital.  I'm just frustrated and upset that we don't know what's wrong with him and how to fix it at this point.  He's wanting to eat, but because of the stomach issues they can't allow him to eat until the air is out of his intestines.  Even though he's getting IV nutrients, he's wanting a bottle. 

So now my wife will have to spend even more time at the hospital and driving during the day, which means i'm going to have to go back to doing drop offs and pick ups of the other two Smurfs.  Plus, if i'm going to be able to visit Smurf 3 while maintaining my job I will need to keep going at night.  So instead of getting home around 1 a.m. I probably won't get back until 2 or later, and that's if I don't shorten my time with Smurf 3.  Not to mention the extra strain this will place on my ability to work to make enough money to cover all our current and extra bills.  After all of this I think the credit card companies actually own a piece of my asss

I'm not mad or frustrated at anyone, just at the situation.  I appreciate all the doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners that have been trying to figure this out; I just wish this would end so I could have my entire family home.

We haven't been telling anyone about the medical issues, but there have been messages asking about when he would come home.  My wife doesn't want to tell anybody anything, but I'd rather just tell them and then say whether or not we want any help or visitors rather than just ignoring everyone.  I appreciate that people care and want to know, but I don't want the headache of people trying to visit, offering to cook, clean, etc.  I laughed when one of my sister-in-laws offered to cook dinner for us when she doesn't even cook for her own family; she has most take-out places on speed dial.  To be honest the only help that has been worth it has been my neighbor, who mowed my backyard without saying anything or wanting recognition. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Anansi Story, aka "Making S**t Up as I go Along"

 visit Smurf 3 in the hospital at night.  My wife spends most of the day with him, getting all the information, asking questions, following up, etc.  We then spend the evenings and nights with the other two Smurfs, and after everyone has gone to sleep (and i've done some work), then I go visit Smurf 3 until about 1 a.m.  It makes for a crazy schedule, but as long as i'm not sick (which I have been the past few days), then I don't miss a night.
One of the things that i like to do (which i've probably mentioned before) is that I like to tell him stories.  The simple fact is I can't sit still for long and my mind wanders rather quickly.  Therefore, I've found that if I'm telling him stories while holding him, then I have an easier time of sitting there and not just staring at the clock and looking around the NICU room being nosy.  I don't tell the traditional type stories either (little red riding hood, mother goose nursery rhymes, etc.) because I can sleepwalk through those.  Rather I tell him stories about Anansi the spider or Tabu and the Dancing Elephants, or I will make something up along those lines.  Here is one story that i've adapted from an Anansi story about his meeting with Death

A long time ago, Anansi was taking a walk outside of his village.  He had heard of an old man who lived outside of the village who didn't do anything but sit and stare.  He decided to see if he could play one of his tricks on him.  Soon he came to a house with a very, very, VERY old man sitting outside the door. The old man looked like skin and dry bones. Anansi walked up to him and said : 
"Good day sir! I have been walking all morning and would love to have a cool drink of ice water."

However, the old man said nothing.

Anansi, who thought that the old man might have been deaf, walked closer to the seated figure and repeated in a loud voice.


Nevertheless, the old man said nothing.

Anansi scratched his head and said, "Oh, you said to go inside the house and help myself?"

The old man still said nothing to Anansi.

Anansi walked past the old man and went into his house and not only helped himself to ice cold water but to as much food as he could eat. When he had finished eating, Anansi went outside to see the old man who was sitting in the same spot by the door. Anansi thanked him for his hospitality and returned home.

The next day Anansi went to the house of the old man and again ate his fill. Still, the old man said nothing to Anansi. On the third day, Anansi the spider went to the old man's house again to eat his fill of food.  However, when he went inside he noticed that all the food was rotting or old.  He went back outside to the old man and said:

"What happened to your food? What kind of hospitality is this?"

Finally, the old man spoke in a deep raspy voice. “Do… you …know… who… I… am?”

“Yes.” Anansi said. “You are the old man outside of the village who does nothing!"

"Hah!” The old man rasped. “My name is Death and you came looking for me. I did not invite you into my house. Now I am going to have you for lunch," Brother Death said as he grabbed Anansi by the shirt.

Anansi tore the buttons from his shirt, slipped out of it and ran for his life. He ran as fast as he could in the belief that he could easily outdistance an old man like Brother Death. However, wherever Anansi turned, Death was right behind him. Finally, out of desperation, Anansi lunged for a tree limb and climbed as high as he could. To his surprise, Brother Death did not follow Anansi up the tree. Death could not climb!

Brother Death picked up a rock, an old shoe, anything that he could find, and threw them at Anansi. They all missed. Death could not throw either. He soon ran out of things to throw. Death finally sat down facing the tree and said to Anansi:

"I am Death and no one gets away from me.  I will sit here until you get tired and have to come down; then you will be mine!"

Anansi, holding onto a tree branch, thought to himself:  "He's right. I have no food, water, and no place to sleep.  My arms will get tired soon and then he will eat me up!"

Just then, Anansi noticed that the tree had silkworms hanging off the branches.  He thought "Aha!  I can use the silk from the silkworms to make myself a little nest or bed on the branches and leaves"

So, while hanging onto the branches with 4 of his legs, Anansi used his other 4 legs to collect all the discarded silk left by the silkworms.  He then tried to make a bed of them, but they just lumped together into a ball. However, it was better than him hanging onto the branch, so he settled into his little ball.  He looked down and Death and said "Ha! Now I won't get tired and can outlast you up here!"

Death just stared at him and said "You may have a place to stay, but you don't have any food or water.  Eventually you will get hungry and have to leave to eat or pass out and fall to the ground.  Either way, you are mine!"

Anansi thought about how he was going to get some food.  He couldn't eat leaves because they made him sick, and the tree he was in didn't have any fruit!  Just then, several insects came flying by, taunting Anansi about his predicament.  

"Aw, poor Anansi!"

"Look at him, stuck in a tree and no place to go but down!"

"Shouldn't have messed with old man Death!"
He turned to them and said "I will make a meal out of you if you don't leave me alone!"  But they kept buzzing around him, laughing at him.  He swatted at them, but they flew too far out of his range.  He then thought "If only I had a net, I could catch them easily and then I would have something to eat!"   

As he sat in his ball of silk, he realized that part of it was sticky.  He decided to make a fishing net out of the silk and began trying to throw it at the insects.  However, they saw what he was doing and simply moved out of the way.  Anansi then remembered that the most successful fishermen in his village would set up a net and wait for the fish to come to them, so he took his net and placed it between several leaves of the tree, making a web out of it.  He then chewed on several strands, making them sticky in certain places.  He then sat on one spot of his web and waited.  Eventually he caught two of the insects, ran to them, and used the remaining silk to tie them up.  He then looked down at Death and said "HA!  Now I have a way to get food in this tree.  So I have a place to stay and food to eat, and all I have to do is wait for it to rain for water.  You can never get me down from this tree!

Death continued to watch Anansi and said "Some day you will have to come out of that tree. I will sit here and wait for you until that day comes; I have all the time in the world.  And then, I will get every spider I can find in the world."

And because of this, all spiders continue to make webs in high places so they can stay away from Death.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Improving the Olympics, aka "Why Isn't this Here?"

There are several foreign sports that should be added to the Olympics that I think (mostly) Americans would love once they watch it.

1. Calcio Fiorentino.  Started in the 16th century by noble Italian families who would compete with each other to show off their power and prowess, calcio fiorentino appears to be a combination of rugby and wrestling without the refs, rules, or timeouts.  There are 27 people on each team, and you're allowed to do whatever it takes, except for kicks to the back of the head, for 50 minutes straight.  There are no substitutes, so if someone gets injured then that team is down one man.  This would put football, soccer, and rugby to shame. See more here.
2. Botaoshi.  2 teams of 75 people. 2 poles. 2 rounds.  One team attacks and the other defends. The second round the teams switch.  The point is the see who can take down the other team's pole in the fastest time.  It was started by the Japanese as a military exercise, which they still do annually to initiate the new recruits.  So in essence it's a big brawl between 150 men attacking a pole.  No sexual overtones there, eh? But still, to watch a video of this it looks pretty awesome and reminds me of a childhood game we played in the neighborhood that was a combination of team freeze tag, hide and seek, and capture the flag.

3. Fierljeppen.  It's Dutch pole vaulting, but you do it over a canal.  You take a running start, grab a pole, and then try to climb as high as you can before jumping off it on the other side of a canal.  Whoever goes the farthest wins.  Here you go.  If you've ever watched a show called MXC (Most Extreme Elimination!) then you've probably seen something similar.  Combining MXC's version of it (well, they ripped it from a japanese game show) with the landing pad and wider canal would make it very watchable.

That is all.