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20 posts from March 2012

March 31, 2012

Extra, Extra!

My latest article in the Foreign Service Journal.  Please browse through the entire edition;  I have several friends who had their writings published this month and their works are not to be missed.  Congrats to all!

 

March 30, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

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Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  

 

March 28, 2012

I pulled the "A" card....

and he hasn't even left the country.  Early, but we needed to use it.  You see, Cait has had a bit of trouble with Algebra.  She is working with a tutor and trying to fit in after school sessions, but it is still not her forte.

Peter and I are not particularly surprised because neither one of us really enjoyed it.  I know my own experience can be described as nothing short of hellish.  I had an Algebra teacher who was far more interested in spending class time discussing her kids and family issues, than, say, Algebra.  She had no use for those of us who needed a bit of extra help and sadly, I couldn't switch classes as it would mess with my other honors classes.  Thus, I was stuck with the first (and last) teacher who ever told me that I had a stupid question.  

Yes.  Not even privately, but in front of the entire class.  Needless to say, she didn't not win any bonus points with me for that.  Before anyone jumps in with, "Well, that's what you get for attending public school," let me assure you that this happened at a small, private, all girls high school. So much for extra attention and nurturing, right?  No guesses as to why I switched to the nearby public high school the next year.  My grades shot up, I was no longer bored and a far more delightful international blend of students nor would a teacher at that school conceive of calling a question "stupid."

So, given that my own history with Algebra was less than stellar, I simply wanted Cait to get through the year.  However, it was clear that even with extra help, she was still struggling a bit.  There is no shame in that, and even less so when we figured out that we already had a solution.  

A friend had mentioned years ago that when a student took a high school class in 8th grade, such as Algebra and the child did not do as well as he or she hoped, the class could be repeated in Freshman year of high school.  There is no need for summer school, and no worries about the GPA.  The 8th grade score is expunged and the child starts with a clean slate.  Our only difficulty:  reaching the teacher to confirm this information.

Teachers like email these days and so do we.  It is quicker, easier, and gives a written record.  However, we were having trouble getting information back from the teacher on specific issues.  Peter finally went a slightly different route, cc:ed the counselor (as we needed her input on the matter) and voila, an answer was had.  Unfortunately, the response indicated it wasn't clear she understood our questions.  I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but decided, especially given that the counselor had been cc:ed that it was time to pull the A-card (you know, Peter's future home country for the next year...).  I knew it was also likely that she didn't realize that we were fine with Cait repeating Algebra, as that had been left out of Peter's message.

I replied all and explained that Cait was being tutored, that we are encouraging after school sessions and that our main concern is planning.  Would she need summer school or could she not just re-take it next year as we had already planned?  I made mention of not wanting to pester anyone, but what with "her father headed 'over there' for a year beginning in May, we just want to get this settled."

We had a most excellent answer in our email inboxes this morning.  Not only did the counselor respond immediately, but said our assumptions were correct and Cait need only retake the course next year.  Her old grade would be expunged, her GPA would remain unaffected and she would have a good base for next year's class.  She then followed that up with a request that Peter "be safe in you-know-where."

Now, I don't know that my mention of his future assignment was the key, but I figured it couldn't hurt.  After all, we weren't asking for the world, just confirmation that we are headed in the right direction.  And are we worried/freaked/embarassed about Cait's Algebra issues this year?

Not in the slightest.  She is incredibly talented in so many ways and Algebra simply isn't her thing.   Why push her to take harder courses when she clearly could just use a bit more help in this subject? Given my own issues with the same course (ironically, Geometry and Algebra II were much easier for me...), I have no desire to push her when it's not necessary.  Call me a lazy mom, but I'm far more concerned with her needs than with my need to brag that she took Calculus at age 10.   And, now it's time to put the A-card away....well, at least for now.

March 26, 2012

Running low?

Desperate for Do-Si-Dos?  Salivating for Savannah Smiles?  Yearning for just one more box of Thin Mints?

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It's your lucky day!  As it turns out, our troop has 44 boxes of cookies leftover from booth sales that need to be sold.  Yes, we can purchase them for ourselves (and will if they don't sell), but thought we would give you one last chance in case you need one more box...if so, you know the routine!  Comment here, send a DM on Facebook and/or send an email to Kelsey or me.  This is the last chance until next year, just in case you want to stock up...did I mention they freeze well?

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In a related note, thank you for the thank you gifts!  In addition to the blog mentions and cards, we also are the lucky recipients of three pashminas.  Thank you SO much to our friends in Oman!  Kelsey adores them and I think I will end up borrowing from her instead of the other way around!

NOTE:  We have at least 3 boxes (total) of each type of cookie.  Please let us know how many you desire and we will confirm availability.

 

 

March 25, 2012

Aww...

Yes, too much texting can be evil, I suppose.  However, sometimes there are text messages that just make one's evening.  While I adore hand-written notes, it's also nice to have conversations like this one handy for days that I need a little pick-me-up and don't happen to have a scrapbook or journal handy.

 

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March 23, 2012

{this moment} : "Getting the Mail"

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

 

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Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  

 

March 22, 2012

In a few minutes,

this little nugget will be 10 years old.  At this time 10 years ago, Peter was running downstairs to grab a quick bite to eat, thinking that I would be in labor for a bit longer.  Not a few moments after he arrived at the Friendly's (count on the hospital to have a healthy eatery on site...not!), he received a phone call.  He was told if he wanted to be present at the birth of his second daughter, he might want to skip those clam strips and hot-foot it back upstairs.

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About 8 months old...

He did and our little Kelsey D. was born a few minutes later.  Her birth was the eye of the storm for us that year.  So much was happening* in our lives then and it's still amazing to me that we managed to stay remotely sane.  Perhaps it was the sweet wee one with the deep, dark eyes and the massive amount of curly, black hair.  She has accomplished so much in 10 long (but, oh so short!) years and I can't wait to see what the next decade will bring.  

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Kelsey enjoying a post-Elevation Burger Mom & Me lunch at school today.


Happy, happy birthday to our sweet, artistic, creative, gentle and loving firecracker of a nugget!  Hope this year is the best yet, Little Buddy, Junior!

 

*Three weeks after Kelsey was born, the coup occurred in Venezuela.  I will leave out my personal opinion (the coup was a good thing), but Peter ended up being called back to the Embassy and we were stuck in the States on Authorized Departure.  We finally were able to return to Caracas at the end of May.  My maternal grandmother died at the end of June, we moved back to the States in August and then Peter started on crazy-insane two year stint on the Secretary's Protective Detail (and, yes, took on a third year).  It was all good, though, and now that things are so much calmer...oh, wait...

 

 

March 21, 2012

Two months from today

Peter will be winging his way over several continents and oceans towards his new home.  Somehow with all of the other springtime excitment, I forgot he is leaving so very soon.  We have no pack-out date and haven't even touched on thinking about the consumables shipment.  So, just how do I feel about him going away for a year?

Will you hate me if I say "Whatever?"  Not that I won't miss him, but at this point, the sooner he starts, the sooner he finishes.  Oh, and the sooner we can ramp up our savings and take a few sweet trips (maybe overseas?).  Frankly, right now, I'm more concerned about the proper papers being signed and things being handled properly so that we don't miss out on the benefits of this unaccompanied tour.  Other than that?  Well, we are still so darn busy with...

Yes, Girl Scout Cookies!  Between filling overseas orders and working the cookie booth, things have been a little crazy.  Kelsey worked last week in Old Town (on St. Patrick's Day, so very active) and will be working again* this Saturday!  At last count, Kelsey has sold a whopping 837 boxes (not including her portion of booth sales) and we have shipped to at least 25 countries (some more than once).  From here to Estonia, cookies are being enjoyed everywhere...and some folks have even placed follow-up orders and sent sweet thank you cards!

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If you are curious, we will most definitely be mailing out cookies again next year.  Kelsey loved shipping out the boxes and even managed to sell to the postal clerks and the bank tellers.  The postal clerks were particularly impressed and glad to see so many boxes going to those fellow FS friends serving overseas.  Thanks so much to everyone who purchased cookies, Kelsey and her fellow troop members truly appreciate it!

*Oh!  You are local and want to buy cookies from Kelsey?  One more in-person sales opportunity will happen this Saturday.  If you might want to stop by her booth, please email or DM me on FB and I will let you know the pertinent details!

March 17, 2012

Nature Boy

and I headed into the city yesterday for a brief excursion to the National Arboretum.  While he loves his mission in the woods behind our house (our neighborhood backs to a nature center and park), we thought it was time to expand our horizons a bit more.  

 

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I had been yearning to get back to the National Arboretum for a long time.  So much open  space and it is absolutely perfect for a BG* to run around, even with 3 light sabers.  The drizzly rain did not deter us (remember, my kids like playing in the rain), so off we headed.  

 

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Despite a bit of traffic, we arrived with a good hour to spend.  This was a actually a perfect first trip, as we were really scoping it out for future missions.  We hit the koi pond, the herb garden and the Bonsai gardens.  If you have not seen the Bonsai gardens....amazing.  I fell in love with the red maple and only wished we could wisk it home with us! 

 

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While we were perusing the offerings in the Tropical Conservatory,  Nick saw a small statue in the garden area of one tree, a man kneeling, as though in thought or prayer. He took one look at it and said, "But, where's Baby Jesus?" To be fair, the little statue did resemble Joseph a bit.  You can always count on the Big Guy for the most interesting comments (oh, yes, he is the Big Guy now, since he turned 4!  Woe to the person who calls him LG...).

 

Perhaps the best part was the herb garden.  Oh, to have an herb garden twice the size of our house.  I was proud of our little bit of rosemary until I saw the patch there.  Nick was thrilled and about to taste it when I had to remind him it wasn't for us.  

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"But I eat it off the bush at home!"  Yes, you do, and I love that, but not so sure the Arboretum staff wants folks picking at the herbs.

 

Due to the drizzle, it was a very quiet day, however, this meant not many other folks around, so very quiet and lots of open space to run in.  We had a short but sweet visit and are already planning a return trip, this time with Kelsey.  We've got to get our fun time in DC in while we can, right? 

A trip like this is also a good reminder of why we live in this area and why we travel so much.   I want my kids to soak in and learn as much about their own country as they do others.  I love that Nicholas gets so excited to see the Washington Monument (and that he sees it so often).  I love that  walking past the White House is something we can do any time we want.  More importantly, one lazy afternoon, we can just decide to go to the National Arboretum without worrying about hotels or airline tickets.  We are close to the city, the bay, the beach and the mountains.  Pretty cool, if I do say so myself.... 

 

*Big Guy

March 16, 2012

{this moment}:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

 

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Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  

 

March 14, 2012

Missions

are very big with us right now.  They involve traipsing through the woods with at least one light saber, a tool belt and several 'tools' (of the made-up variety).  Monday was early day for Kelsey, so we decided it was the perfect time for a good, long mission with Kelsey, her friend and Nick.

We set off with Nick shouting "Let's do it (play Clone Wars) when we get to the energy shield!" 

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 The energy shield is a large cement block just over the bridge, near the creek.  We threw rocks, washed our hands and then Kelsey's friend wanted to take us to her mission area (who knew missions were so popular these days?).  Her mission was far more complex and in addition to throwing rocks, required some digging in the very clay-like mud, taking off our boots, stomping through the creek and... 

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you guessed it:  falling over and getting 100% sopping wet.  If you can't tell, it was a most excellent day for Han and crew (though I was relegated to being Princess Leia's mom, as Kelsey had to be Leia).  Nothing like two hours trouncing through the woods and a creek to remind one that the ingredients for a great afternoon need include nothing more than rocks, mud, water and the occasional light saber. 

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The light saber must never be out of reach...



 

March 12, 2012

There is nothing like meeting

a Foreign Service internet friend in real life. You might have known this person for years thanks to the blogs, email and Facebook, but never actually shared a meal or sipped green tea with her.  Thanks to a happy collision of events, I was finally able to meet my DS bloggy friend, Donna, last week . Might I say that she is everything she appears to be and more?

Three hours just flew by as Donna and I chatted about everything from blogs to future posts.  She is just as forthright and brilliant in person as she is online and I couldn't believe it when 1:15 p.m. suddenly turned into 4:30 p.m.  It was, without a doubt, a most fun afternoon and I only hope we have the chance to meet up again soon before too much time passes. 

Despite my reticence about staying back another year, had we not, I would have missed out on so many chances to meet with FS friends in person.  I sometimes forget about that aspect of living in this area, and awesome lunches with new old friends remind me that I need to remember that more often....

March 10, 2012

The Top 10

reasons I started a new blog just for Nick-isms:

10.  Good grief, I have so much free time, why not?

9.  He's so darn cute?

8.  He was begging for his own blog or Facebook *

7.  When he goes on his first job interview, I want to be right behind him with a record of everything intelligent** he ever said.

6.  I have 1.8 billion scraps of paper and 12 journals with random notes of things the girls said...and I might have them organized by the time I have great-grandchildren.

5.  There are 24 hours in the day and I've only jam-packed 23.5.

4.  I mentioned he says the cutest, sweetest, most interesting*** things?

3.  I'll have proof that he called me "Princess" 12 times a day, 365 days a year until....

2.  I know it's only a matter of time before the top two things out of his mouth are "MOOOOOMMMM!" and "Whatevs" (not that I am quoting his eldest sibling...never)

1.  Every day I look at him and realize that sweet little guy is growing so very quickly and  I wish I could grab every moment and hold it tight forever.  Since that is somewhat impossible, I'll try this method.  At least this way I will always have those words (and maybe a photo or two) and you can enjoy, too. 

*Kidding!

**If you know me, you know I'm really, really, really kidding...

***I know, I know, all children say the cutest, sweetest, most interesting things

March 09, 2012

{this moment}: Smile!

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

 

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Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  That dimple....

 

We serve, too.

It has been almost 14 years since Peter became a special agent with the State Department.  We have moved as a family 5 times in those 14 years.  We have uprooted our kids, our pets, shipped our household goods and car around the world and sacrificed beyond what we expected in order to serve our country.

Now, however, we are being told that our service doesn't matter.  We don't count.  United has instituted a new pet travel scheme that could cost those of us moving pets thousands of dollars more.  This is in addition to any other fees we pay to move our pets, to include quarantine fees (which ran us about $2K when Bailey PCS-ed* to Iceland).  Taking our pets with us keeps our families intact, helps our kids adjust and allows us a bit of normalcy.  Now, the already exorbitant cost is going to skyrocket.

There seems to be an idea that every time we move, we somehow have no expenses.  Quite honestly, that could not be further from the truth.  While our goods our shipped for us and we do receive some allowances, nothing covers our costs completely. We understand that and absorb those costs.  We do this for the job, just like we take our kids out of schools they like and move them from areas they love.  We do it to serve our country.

Now we are being told that's not enough.

When members of the military found out about the new pet scheme, they banded together and petitioned United (rightfully) to exempt them from this new, far more expensive plan.  United back down and made an exemption for the military.  Foreign Affairs community members then started their own campaign, thinking perhaps that United just didn't realize that we serve, too.

  • We staff embassies and consulates world-wide, without question. 
  • We send our loved ones overseas for unaccompanied tours to some of the most dangerous places in the world.  
  • We hear stories from those unaccompanied tours that make us cringe (at best) and cry (at worst) at what has been seen.  
  • We, as family members, are not necessarily safe from harm's way whether we are doing the single-parenting gig in the States or managing a household overseas.
  • We are not immune from family tragedies at home, yet often have to deal with them from thousands of miles away.  The financial implications can be staggering.
  • We uproot, willingly, at a moment's notice, if need be.  
  • We evacuate without question, make do with what we have, and make it work in the end, often with limited resources.
  • Our salaries drop when we move overseas and have been frozen for the past two years.
  • Our motto is "it depends" and we are okay with that.

What is not okay?  The fact that United refuses to recognize that we, too, serve.  

Do you believe we serve?  

If you do, then I ask that you help us serve.  Please contact United Airlines and let them know that the U.S. Foreign SERVICE does indeed serve its country.  As of right now, they do not appear to believe that our sacrifices are worthy of allowing us to be exempt from this exorbitant new cost.  We, too, deserve the respect that is being allotted the military.  

A letter has been written and is being circulated around the Foreign Affairs community. There is a massive email campaign that can always use more help.  Please take five minutes (or fewer) to send the following note (you can click through directly to the letter)  to United Airlines, preferably by 5 p.m. today. You may also send a note to any or all of the emails listed below the sample letter.  Additionally, if you can cc: member@afsa.org, so that AFSA may take an accurate count of those writing in.

If you believe we serve, help us tell United.  Let's make a change for the better;  our FS families and their pets are counting on it.

 

*Permanent Change of Station

 

 

 

 

March 08, 2012

You'd never know

the Nugget had surgery last Thursday.  She couldn't even open her eyes Saturday morning, but by the evening was walking around the house again (with sunglasses on).  By Sunday afternoon, she decided to drop the sunglasses and provided we kept the drapes closed, she had no problem with the natural light.

 

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Too cool for school...


Monday was still a bit soon for school, but we decided to test the great outdoors with a field trip.  She wore her sunglasses most of the time, until we stopped at the coffee shop.  Within minutes she took them off and seemed completely comfortable despite the bright interior.

 

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The healing power of the young is amazing...


I worried a bit about her return to school, however, she woke up Tuesday morning with far less swelling and the red in her eyes was finally dissipating.  She went off to school with only her regular glasses and had no issues whatsover.

 

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Oh, yes, she wore the boots!


Wednesday was the big day:  the post-op appointment.  I picked Kelsey up from school and expected a long wait at the opthalmologist's Virginia office.  We were pleasantly surprised to see his assistant and then the doctor himself, within minutes of our arrival.  Kelsey was her usual calm self and passed every test with flying colors.  Even better:  no new prescription!

 

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Celebratory spring rolls and fruit tea at one of our favorite Thai restaurants.

Her eyes are healing incredibly well, her vision is great (well, generally speaking) and we will see what happens in three months during her return visit.   We (of course) had to celebrate our good fortune with spring rolls (doesn't everyone?).    All in all, not a bad recovery.  Slightly painful, but very quick and nothing but good results from the surgery thus far.  Now that we are finished with her eyes (for the moment), we get to move on to orthodontia....good times!

 

 

 

March 05, 2012

Confessions...

I haven't been running (in the aerobic, for exercise sense) since last Monday.  I had every intention of going Wednesday, but it was pouring rain, and I'm just not yet up for running in the rain, especially given how sore I was from Monday's workout.  

If I can't get the run completed in the morning, it generally just doesn't happen.  Thursday was Kelsey's big day, and Friday - Saturday were all about recovery.  I didn't think about just how intense it would be. Her eyes were so incredibly sensitive, that she could not even open them for any length of time until Saturday morning.  Even then, she had to wear sunglasses in the house (yes, with the lights off).  Just the light coming in the windows was enough to be extremely bothersome.  

By Saturday afternoon, she was finally able to go to the bathroom by herself and get up and move around.  This was a welcome relief for all of us, as it's very hard for someone who is used to being indenpendent to suddenly not even feel like they can safely get to the bathroom a few steps away.  I'll be kind and spare you the tales of the twice daily ointment in the eye treatment (it's going...just painful for all involved), but the end result is that she is healing.  Her eyes are still red and swollen, but improving each day.

Yesterday afternoon, she was able to remove the glasses for a few hours.  She had a friend over and they played inside, since it was still too bright outside.  They watched  a movie and played for hours. Meanwhile, I decided it was time to take her bed and room apart, so we could reorganize.  This would be the reason I am not running today.  

I used muscles yesterday that I haven't used in two months. I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking, but my back has not yet forgiven me for the hours I spent cleaning, purging and dismantling furniture. Nicholas was of course excited by the whole event and tried to help by making tools out of his Legos and 'using' them to take Kelsey's old bed apart.  Oh, how I wish it was that easy!

I prevailed though, and now all I have to do is put this:

 

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together.  Thank goodness Kelsey is still happily sleeping on the couch at night, as I just don't know if this is a one afternoon project, even with my 'struction guy helper.

My other confession?  Thus far, my Lenten project progress is not stellar.  I am not admitting defeat, I have made some headway, but it is far from perfect.  The issue is that I need downtime at night and I enjoy that.  I don't enjoy being tired in the morning, but the time alone makes up for that.  And, no, I cannot just get up early to have time alone, as I'd have to wake up at 4 a.m. to do so.  Not gonna happen.

My best night thus far was the day after surgery.  Nick wanted to sleep downstairs with us and he and I snuggled up in the recliner while Kelsey dozed on the couch.  Within minutes, we were all asleep and I daresay I got 10 hours of sleep (at least, if not more) in a row that night.  I woke up refreshed Saturday morning and hoped to do it again Saturday night.  I didn't get to bed quite so early, but still earlier...last night?  A no-go.  Sunday nights are hard with Cait's CCD class and since the kids slept late yesterday, made bedtime even harder.  

So, I'm far from perfect, but I'm not giving up.  That one really good night of sleep reminded me that it might be worth it to hit the sack a bit earlier.  I know it won't be 9 p.m. every night, but even 2 hours earlier would be an obvious help.  I'm not going to stress about it being too much earlier than that, as I really do need my *me* time.  If I don't have that, no amount of sleep will make me feel any better.  If nothing else, at least I've learned that lesson.

 

March 03, 2012

Wow...

I'm zonked.  Thursday just took it all out of me.  I completely forgot how waiting and pacing, sitting, pacing some more, checking the monitor for updates and waiting, waiting, waiting can just utterly empty one's energy reserves.

It was finally the big day:  the bilateral inferior oblique anterior transposition for strabismus for Kelsey. Yes, bilateral did mean on both sides as we thought after seeing the paperwork.  The surgeon decided that after a second review of the CT scan (prior to the pre-op appointment).  We were actually a bit nervous about whether or not the surgery would take place, as it took so long to get the appointment time. The hospital waits until the night before to call you with a surgical time slot, which makes it a wee bit hard to plan one's day.  Luckily, we have a friendly neighbor who was more than happy to pick up Nick and, well, Cait can take care of getting home and getting inside just fine.

We had quite the drive into Children's, but finally arrived at 10:12 a.m.  We were supposed to be there at 10:00 a.m.  but between traffic and the parking situation we arrived a few minutes late.   As I suspected, this did not matter in the slightest, as we didn't even register Kelsey for surgery until 11 a.m. and then were not called to preop until nearly 11:30 a.m. 

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The i.d. accoutrement

During all of this, I have to admit, I was a bit nervous.  Getting our hospital bands, signing all of the paperwork and just waiting in a crowded waiting room with other nervous/pacing/crying parents can do it to you.  Finally, Kelsey was called back and we started her prep work.  

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Hanging out in the lovely gown and socks...

We went over allergies and the like, once if not 100 times.  She was measured in every respect and asked 5 times by 5 different people if she had been sick recently.  After she changed, she was offered crayons, a coloring book, cartoons to watch and had a visit with a Child Life specialist

Not only does the Child Life specialist come in and sit down to talk with your child, but assists them in decorating the oxygen mask and allowing them to opt for scented "sleepy air."  Kelsey was all over that and promptly chose bubble gum after covering her mask in brightly colored stickers (no, she did not get to keep as a souvenir).  I think the person must have expected a nervous little girl, but Kelsey just chatted with her quietly and then went back to her coloring and relaxing once the coordinator left.  I wondered how she could be so calm and collected (especially with the wailing down the hall), but nothing fazed her.

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Decorating her mask with the massive sticker collection.

 

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I then thought back to a discussion a few weeks before.  We were sitting and talking and Kelsey asked about my surgery, particularly the length. I mentioned that it had been about 8 hours.  

"Oh," she responded, "I thought it was only supposed to be 6!"

I told her sometimes it simply takes longer and she looked at me and said, "You know, I still feel so bad that you had to go through that."

Not that I hadn't received sympathy and love from my kids, but I didn't quite expect that thought.   I thanked her and mentally filed it away as one of the sweetest things one of my kids could say to me (right up there with "You are my princess!").  A week later she went to her follow-up eye appointment and at that time said she was no longer nervous about her surgery.  She had been in the beginning, but now figured she would have it done and all would be fine.  Did our discussion have anything to do with her new attitude?  I'd like to think so, but who knows.

 

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Relaxed much?

I flashed back to the present and spent the next hour watching her.  She was as cool as a cucumber,  despite the many nurses and doctors who were in and out of the room and peppering her with questions.  She would answer them, go back to her relaxing and at the appropriate time (only 1.5 hours late, but...) hopped out of the recliner and walked off to the OR with the nurses.  So different from our last experience at Children's but probably easier in the long run.  We were then escorted to the waiting room and realized we'd best make use of our time and have lunch.

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The view was good. The food, er, not so much.


I'm not going to say much about the hospital cafeteria, except to remark that the views were stunning.  The food?  Well, let's just say a Jamie Oliver revolution would be welcome there.  Pete said once (if not several times) that he was stunned by the lack of healthy options. There was a smoothie bar, but not much else.  I suppose I shouldn't be shocked, but would be so nice to see more fresh fruits and veggies especially when this is the only option for some people.

 

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I was this tired, too, but just couldn't nod off.


We knew that the surgery would not last terribly long and headed back to the waiting room after we ate.  One of us was able to nap a little while the other paced, checked the monitor and played Words With Friends.  The internet was iffy, but I was able to do Facebook updates, a nice distraction.

After about 1.5 hours and the 15th check of the board, I noticed her case number said that the surgery was complete. I woke Peter up and 5 minutes later we were summoned by the surgeon.  He and the surgeon assisting went through the procedure and said several times how well things had gone.  We went back to the waiting area and 10 minutes later headed to recovery to see Kelsey. 

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Poor tired Nugget in a wee bit of pain.


Ah, the poor thing.  She was still sound asleep when we got there, but we could see her eyes, teary and swollen and know she'd soon be in a bit of pain.  She was extubated, but still hooked up to the IV and monitors and had a ventilation device in her mouth to keep her respiration rate up.  Not 10 minutes later she woke up, startled by the device in her mouth.  After a few minutes of coaxing, she finally realized she was to spit it out (not bite down) and she went flat on her back to try to sleep.

 

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The ice pack is now her best friend.


Unfortunately, that's when the pain and wailing began.  She couldn't open her eyes, they had a grainy feeling to them (normal) and, of course, the post-surgical pain.  We ended up being in recovery with her for about three hours, as they needed to ensure she was well-hydrated and able to move around.  

 

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Yep, she needed sunglasses even while indoors with the lights off.


Her recovery, despite the pain, was quite good.  No nausea, no vomiting and within an hour she requested a popsicle.  She drank two cups of water and juice by the time we left and probably would have had more, but with the ice pack being on her eyes nearly continuously, it was hard to work around.  She was also too tired and kept drifting off, as one tends to do.  

Even more amazing than her calm prior to the surgery, was the statement she made after.  After she woke up and had two shots of morphine (the pain was just too intense), she started to relax.  At that point, she said in a very soft voice, "Well, at least it's all over now."  Maybe it was the morphine talking, but knowing Kelsey, I think it was just her logical attitude.

After meeting with the doctor and getting the sign-off to leave, we carefully dressed her and helped her into the wheelchair.  Thank goodness they have plenty of dark shades and ice packs, otherwise she would have had to be wheeled to the car looking like a ghost.  The lights are just so bright and I think it will be Monday before she's able to appreciate bright light again.

We arrived at home Thursday night around 7:30 p.m. and spent the rest of the night just relaxing with her, napping and making sure her eyes were lubed with an antibiotic (ointment appplication twice a day...fun!) and that she was as pain-free as possible.  

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Finally in a very deep sleep yesterday afternoon.

 

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Flowers from Tennessee!

Her eyes are still swollen today and she can't yet see the flowers that have been sent her way, but does appreciate them.  Despite yesterday being Read Across America Day, she couldn't do much more than  sleep and listen to movies.  Hopefully, her eyes will be open more today, as I am quite anxious to know how much the surgery has helped her vision.

Oh, and the boots?  

 

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She loves them! Thanks, Kate, for the great idea!

She loves them!  See that smile?!  Okay, not really as she has a towel over her closed eyes so not one ray of light gets in, but she hugged me and was really quite excited when she opened them.  Now tomorrow, maybe she'll open her eyes?

 

 

March 02, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

 

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Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  

 

March 01, 2012

Before?

I figured since she is having surgery tomorrow (yes, finally scheduled!  We even have a time:  12 p.m. at Children's in DC.), perhaps we should do a little before and after.  So, here is before:

 

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My just about 2.75 year old nugget, Christmas 2004.

 

Oh, wait, I meant before glasses and patching! If her eye seems lazy now, well, you should have seen it when.  The nugget had almost no muscle control in her left eye.  The glasses helped, but she was still frustrated by her inability to have it not drift off.  The patching ...now that really did the trick.  

 

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Kelsey holding a wee little Nickerdoodle....

 

Wearing a patch on her right eye, 5 days a week for 9 months increased her eye strength incredibly. However, still not quite where it should be.  See how it still slides a bit up and left?

 

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When you ask, "Do you want us to blow good $$ on a costume rental?" note that a grumble does NOT mean yes...well, at least Laura Ingalls Dinoia, I mean, Cait, was happy.

Here is the final before photograph.  Honestly, the difference between her eyes (face, whole kit and caboodle) between infancy and now is just astonishing.  I'm not sure I could be any more surprised by the outcome of tomorrow's (oops, TODAY'S) surgery, but I'll try. (Oh, am I up late?  I'm just a bit nervous about the procedure...but she's not, and that's key.)  It will be very interesting  to see if we also have to get a new prescription (expensive I'm sure, but anything for my nugget, right?).

 

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The look means, "Can't we just GO already?" I had promised her a special mom & me dessert out last night..

Speaking of expensive (okay, not that expensive), on the suggestion of a reader/friend/fellow FS spouse, I decided to get Kelsey a little post-surgical treat.  Hopefully, Friday or Saturday, these will arrive in the mail (sssh!):

 

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I can't WAIT until she opens them up! 

Bet she has no trouble seeing those, hot pink or not!  Now, off to bed so we can wake up in time for the big day...oh, and don't forget, if anyone asks, she's out of school because she's sick.  Apparently, she even fake coughed a bit at school today...that's my girl!