Thursday, June 30, 2011

Back from the land of no WiFi AKA my parent's house

We rolled back in this evening from the second trip in under two weeks time along the Eastern seaboard.  I have to say that I would not recommend taking five kids in various stages of viral illness for a 12 hour car ride, followed by another 12 hour car ride two days later, then run around and repack and send two of the five away again two days later then load up three more to drive seven hours one way and then back again four days later while jam packing every single day full of activities....just sayin'

I have a ton of stories to tell from the last week and was so bummed that my father's internet set up is so wacky that it caused my laptop to basically reject internet until I got home again.  I have no clue what he does, but we regularly have laptops try to commit suicide after trying to use their internet and since Ryan wasn't there to perform surgery, I had to use my cell phone to stay connected to the digital world.

Anyway, I will have to post about the sea sick teenagers on our fishing trip or the ridiculous time I had trying to feed Teagan and Grayson lunch while nursing Finn at a rest stop on our way to NC later because I want to share the story of my busted windshield.

So this morning we left NC around 9:30 and I took a deep breath as I loaded the five tired kids into the van to set out on what could be a 6 hour drive but would likely be seven or eight.  We did well for the first three hours, a little whining from Teagan, but it was pretty easy going.  After three hours we stopped at a Cracker Barrel for lunch since I knew it would be easy to please everyone there.  When we sat down the waitress commented on me traveling alone with the kids and then asked if they were mine, which was weird because who in their right mind would travel with five kids if they could leave a few with their parents?  Anyway, we got back on the road and we were cruising along, made a quick stop for gas and Frosty's to tide the kiddos over and we were about an hour from home when the truck in front of us dropped a rock that was the size of a half dollar and it smashed my windshield at the bottom.  I was NOT happy and NOT paying for a new windshield on a car that is new because some truck driver couldn't be bothered to clear off his truck (it was a stone truck that had no more load but still had rocks in it).  We hit some traffic and I was able to get pics of the truck's license plates and then pulled up along side and yelled to the driver that he broke my windshield.  He pulled over and looked at it and asked what I wanted for it...I am guessing he just didn't want to deal with his boss.  I told him I wanted what it would cost to fix it and called Ryan who started looking it up while I followed the truck driver to a rest area where he could get money.  Turns out the new windshield was just about $360 dollars so I told the driver that and he asked for a receipt which I was glad to write up for him and he paid me in full the cost of the repair.  He did mention that there were people who were claiming glass issues to get money from drivers and I assured him that I had five kids in the back of the van and that I would not lie to him and then showed him the pictures so he could see how it had spread even during the drive to the rest area.  It is terrible that people would defraud the drivers, especially since many pay from their own pockets as this guy did to not have to file with the company insurance.

Since we have gotten home the windshield crack has spread even more and now it basically splits the windshield in half and I need to call tomorrow to get it fixed.  I am so glad that I chased the driver down and that we don't have to pay to get the glass replaced with our funds, even if my father thought I was nuts for doing it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The scariest thing about having all five kids home all summer

is lunch.  Seriously.  Breakfast is a breeze, for the most part they can get their own food and even help Teagan out sometimes.  Plus they are all still quiet and sleepy so they are not demanding.  Dinner is also easy for the most part since they get what I make, no choices, no options.  Oh but lunch, I HATE lunch.  They all want something different, one wants grilled cheese, another a salad, this one a sandwich and a fourth leftovers.  It is a major production, there is always a huge mess and I am always frustrated since it tends to run into nap time for the babies aka my down time during the day to do all the other chores.

So this summer I am taking a cue from the school....we will have a lunch menu.  I am brainstorming lunch ideas and making a list and then the kids will be able to add their ideas to the list as well.  We will plan a week or two in advance and put the chosen meals on the calendar which will help me make sure we have what we need and the kids will be able to look at the calendar and know what is for lunch.  Just like at school, there will always be a second choice of PB&J and yogurt...they can make that themselves.  Some lunch choices are simple like quesadillas, turkey sammies with fruit, etc. and some are fancier like Buffalo Chicken Sliders or Personal Pizzas.  I plan to have two fancy choices a week, four easier options a week and one free for all a week on a day their dad is off :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


It has been a crazy week.

Finn had his appointment and the cardio saw the same defects.  Right now we are hopeful that the pulmonary stenosis will clear up and we are watching the aortic issues.  Finn will go back in three months to be checked again.  The aortic stuff will never resolve on it's own, but it could be minor enough to avoid surgery, only time will tell.

Later the same day was Haven's Fifth Grade graduation ceremony.  We came home, kids came home and I ran errands and was on my way back to get the family to go out to dinner before the ceremony when Ryan told me he was not feeling well-did I mention Gray was picked up early from school with a rash?  Ryan got blasted with this horrific virus that is still making it's way through our family...fever, chills, weird rash, yuck.  So I took the kids out to dinner, then to the ceremony alone.  It was from 7-9 pm.  I had both babies.  I missed most of it :(  I did see Haven get every award she won including the Presidential Academic Achievement Award (YEAH HAVEN!!!). 

Thursday the kid's had a half day and I was trying to get us ready for our trip to NH the next day but the school kept calling saying Haven wasn't feeling well but had no fever.  She came home, went to bed and was up in the middle of the night with the same virus.  This was especially fun since we were leaving around 5 am and I did not go to bed until after 1 and then fed Finn at least once before getting up at 4 am.  Somehow we got on the road, Haven was feeling OK and we drove the 12(!) hours to the hotel in MA.  The next day we met up with my family at my cousin's house for Tim's party and before we left to go to the graduation, Britt started looking rough and complaining of a headache so I gave her Motrin.  Ryan was a half hour away at the hotel with the babies and Gray (they left early) so my parents and I decided to drive her there before the graduation but as we got there she decided she felt well enough to go...sigh.  Went to graduation and as we left Britt started complaining about her stomach and head, note she is a puker when she gets a fever, so we spent a little time standing on the side of the road willing her to keep the Motrin  down.  She did, fever came down enough that she stopped feeling like she was going to be sick and we made it back to the hotel.  She had a rough night with the fever, but we decided the next day that we would try to go to the Aquarium with the rest of my family.  They were taking public transit, but being we had a sick kid, we decided driving would be best just in case she started feeling badly again...BIG mistake.  Apparently Boston has no parking garages that have a clearance over 6'6" and our van needs 7'2".  Hell, my Trailblazer wouldn't have fit in 6'6"!  So after 45 minutes of driving around, I was in tears, the kids were a wreck and the hubby and I were less than civilized with each other. 

We called and told the family we were leaving the city, kids were wailing and somehow we got sort of lost in the outskirts of Boston..BUT it turned out to be a good thing.  While we were lost I saw a little blue sign for a zoo.  Looked it up on my phone and within minutes we were there.  The zoo was perfect, not too big but it had plenty for us to do, petting area, place to feed the budgies, lions, white tigers, gorillas, etc.  The weather was great and the kids had a blast.  I am so thankful we found that zoo, the day was a disaster but that little zoo turned it all around.

We are home now. My big girls left this morning with my parents to go to NC and it is quiet.  Finn has the virus with the fever and rash, Britt still had the rash as she left and Teagan is still rashy. I am really hoping this bug passes soon since Gray, Teagan, Finn and I lave Sunday to meet up with the girls in NC.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I don't

I don't:
  • Give up
  • Stop trying
  • Take no for an answer
  • Let the end justify the means
  • Allow failure
  • Take the easy way out 
  • Think OK is good enough
  • Not do something if someone else needs me to
  • Put myself first
  • Believe that anything is impossible
This is going to a be a long, hard week for me and it just seems like more and more is getting piled on, but I am holding on tight to who I am and how I deal with this kind of stuff.  The smile is plastered on, hope is tucked away and hands are clenched in sheer determination to make it through to Thursday.  I am willing to take patience if anyone has extra lying around, that I always run short on :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Stopping to breathe

The best part about having a big, busy, loud and demanding brood is that you rarely have time to sit, ponder and worry.  But sadly, night always comes and those sweet distractions go to bed and you are left alone with all those thoughts and Google...Google should be executed.  Personally I think the internet should have an off switch for parents who are stressed or worried about their kids because the three am "research" sessions are never a good idea.

Finn's blood work came back OK, a little anemic and his white blood cell count was a bit low, nothing to be concerned about.  This makes me a bit relieved as we don't think anything metabolic is going on, but we still don't know what caused his "episode" and why he isn't gaining enough weight.  This brings me back to his heart and worries me since failure to thrive can go along with heart issues as can passing out and if that is what is happening, we are dealing with a pretty significant defect.

I am holding out hope that we will see the doctor on Wednesday and that they will tell me what is wrong and that it is non-surgical and that the "episode" was not heart related and just a fluke.  Taking any and all prayers and positive thoughts, especially in the dark and quiet of night.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Three.  That is the number of heart defects they found today in Finn's heart, and the worst part is, the doctor we saw couldn't even see everything so there could be more. He also couldn't tell how bad the issues were, which is not uncommon on little wiggly babies, but needless to say, we left there and while I waited for Finn to get his bloodwork, I called my children's cardiologist and got an appointment for next week.  Sadly this cardio was more concerned with there being a genetic link since we have so many cardiac issues than with what was wrong with poor Finny.

So here is what I know.  Finn has a leaky aortic valve, although the cardio was pretty sure it was a minor leak.  We have no history of aortic valve issues, although Teagan has a malformed pulmonary valve.

He has some aortic stenosis which is a narrowing of the aorta above the valve. This is what I have.  I know what this means long term, if it is severe it requires open heart surgery, if it is mild and manageable like mine, it requires monitoring and limited sports and activities.

He has pulmonary stenosis of the arteries, this is a narrowing of the pulmonary arteries and does not include the valve.  Haven had this in one artery in Finn both are affected and he could not tell how badly they were affected.  A common correction for this is an angioplasty.  We do not know if the valve is impacted yet, that would be a surgical need.

We do not know if the aortic arch is impacted, and coarcation of the aorta is a concern of mine as it is dangerous and can be life threatening.  I am anxious to have an all clear on the arch next week and to find out if there are any other defects and how severe the ones he has are.

I am incredibly sad, and angry, that we are dealing with this in another child.  Haven has outgrown her issues which were Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) and pulmonary stenosis, and I am thankful for that.  Teagan needs her valve rechecked and we are all hopeful that she will be cleared as OK. But Finn, I am not sure about, this is a bad group of issues and I fear he will need surgery at some point and that frightens me.  I have a great team of cardiologists that we have been with since Haven was born, and I trust them immensely, so I know they will do all they can to determine what is wrong and how to handle it. 

My poor guy, he is so sweet and didn't even whimper when they took his blood.  Even at 6 months old that kid is a trooper.

We also had the blood work done for a metabolic screening and we should get the results today.  We are curious about the blood sugar issue from yesterday, and all I can hope is that it was a fluke issue and he had a seizure because of a random low blood sugar moment.  We will see.

I let it roll as much as I can, I don't complain about the health issues with our kids, I just deal with them, but not knowing makes me crazy. I know it could be worse, so much worse, but I wish we didn't have to face the multiple cardio visits, the worry the first years as they grow and the constant watching and waiting to see if something happens.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

When you are an adult

birthdays are rarely about you anymore.  Today was my birthday, but really it was supposed to be like any other day and I wish it had been.  We got up and I shuffled the big kids off to school.  Hubby came home and brought me breakfast and then after getting some work done I decided to hop in the (loaner) van and take the babies out to get a water table and baby pool and to make the farm run.  I got to the toy store, got what we came for plus a bunch and then quickly realized as we approached the register that I left my debit card at home.  Thankfully I was using gift cards for the pool and water table, but I think I should have headed home then.  Trip to the farm was uneventful and on my way home Teagan had just fallen asleep as we approached Sonic so I decided to stop and get a cherry slush, but then the Sonic lady was just way too loud and peppy and she woke Teag up and I lost my slushie to the tyrant in the back seat.  That seemed like it would be the worst of it, that I would come home and lug stuff inside, deal with a crabby toddler and maybe take the big kids out for dinner to celebrate my birthday and avoid cooking but it changed fast.

Not far from the house Finn started fussing as babies do, nothing major, just whining a bit but as we pulled in he was quiet again.  I went to Teagan's side of the van and as I started to unbuckle her I saw Finn and could see something was wrong.  He was sitting normal but his face was sagging, his mouth hanging open and his eyes fixed and open.  I began calling his name and shaking his seat as I got Teagan out and he did not respond.  Got her out and ran to his side of the van, grabbed his cheeks and started yelling his name and moving his face and then finally he fixed his eyes on me and focused.  I ran the babies inside and sat with Finn and he was back to his old self, kicking and smiling if I even glanced his way, but I was still freaked out since he was so out of it in the car and I was worried.  Woke Ryan and told him I though Finn had a seizure, explained what happened and then called the ped who said take him to the ER.  Since we have a Pediatric Neurologist for Haven, I called her and she said to see if the ped could see him since the ER would not be prepared and they knew him better.  So we went to the ped and they determined his heart murmur was much louder and we needed the echocardiogram as soon as possible.  They also tested his blood sugar and found it was low, around 54, even though it had been barely 2 hours since he ate.  I fed him there and his blood sugar got to 72, still not great.

Tomorrow we will take him for the echo and bloodwork.  They are thinking he had a seizure due to low blood sugar, but we are not sure why he had low blood sugar.  Hopefully the tests tomorrow will help.  I love my little guy and I hope to never see him in the state he was today.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Great news

Over the weekend I managed to get myself very nervous about Finn's upcoming x-ray.  While I knew that the worst case was slings or casts for a number of months, it made me so sad that my sweet happy boy who LOVES to kick his legs might be immobilized.  In the scheme of things, minor, but to the mama, scary.

Monday I got going once the big kids left for school and took Finn for the x-ray and he obliged and was his normal sweet and happy self.  After that, went and grabbed Ryan and Teagan so we could drop the new van off for service.  When we bought it, the heat wasn't working and there were a few dings in the windshield that we wanted fixed, we also needed a seat belt replaced because it had a tear in it and one of the key fobs key ring was broken so they were going to get a new one.  It sounds like a lot, but really they were small things aside from the heat, but since we have a warranty, we want it as close to perfect as possible.  Dropped the van off, grabbed lunch then came home to get stuff done around the house.

Today Haven had an appointment with her neurologist and we were riding up with a friend since her little girl was being seen too and the neuro is far away.  Appointment went well, neuro told Haven she needs to eat more and gain more weight since her meds impact her appetite, and then told us that we were going to take her off her seizure med this summer and do an EEG to see if she outgrew the epilepsy.  This is big for us. She was diagnosed almost three years ago and she is a different kid now.  She will still need her meds for ADD, she is a kid that had so many struggles the ADD meds help her stay focused, but the seizure meds are serious stuff and we would love to get rid of those nasty seizures and the meds!  So one night very soon, Haven will be staying up all night partying with her dad eating ice cream, drinking coffee and soda and having a grand time.  The next day I will take my very tired girl to Children's Hospital for an EEG where they will try to induce a seizure and will have her sleep for a bit to make sure she isn't having seizures in her sleep, which are the most dangerous and deadly kind.  I am hoping that the EEG will show no seizure activity, but only time will tell.  Haven is such a different kid now than when she was diagnosed, she was behind academically, she was really bizarre to talk to, she was unpredictable and honestly, it was like talking to someone with severe mental issues.  Poor kid was confused all the time from the seizures and she missed out on so much information and struggled and worked hard to get where she is now.  That kid, that kid who at 8 could not read and was way behind in school just took the test to jump grade levels in math for next year.  Depending on the results, she could be in the advanced 7th grade class instead of her 6th grade class or the advanced 6th grade class...that is huge for her and she worked her rear off this year in her math enrichment class to get to the point where she could take this test.  Add to that, she reads multiple grade levels ahead and she is a whiz at science and history.  She struggled with writing for a long while, but she is now at or above grade level for writing too.  She amazes me :)

So a couple of days of good news and I am anxiously waiting for the school year to come to and end :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

It was supposed to be a simple well check

My sweet little Finn turns 6 months old today and I am so thankful that he is our little guy.  He is quick with a smile and is seriously the happiest baby I have ever had, so glad that he joined our family!

Since Finn was 6 months today I scheduled his well check at the doctor.  This morning, Teagan woke up with a horrible rash on her face, it seriously looked like we had put out lit cigarettes on her little face and she has a viral looking rash on her body (moms totally know what I mean here-spotty but flushed red rash).  Called and added her to the appointment to kill two birds with one stone and they asked that we come at 10:10 instead of we did and of course we weren't brought back until after 10:30 *sigh*

So they did Finn's height/weight/head and he was 75%/10%/75% so I knew the doc was going to be unhappy with his weight.  The thing is, he eats a ton, he pees a ton, he looks great, fat cheeks and a long lean, but healthy, body.  He is also not the first baby of mine to have those kinds of stats, but of course the ped was unhappy and wants him back in six weeks to see his weight, although I am not sure why since I am not supplementing him since he is doing great other than their chart.  They also noticed his one hip clicks and it is the one he doesn't favor so we will be getting an x-ray Monday and we still need to take him to the cardiologist.  *double sigh*

Teagan decided to wail the entire time we were there and after testing her, we discovered she has strep.  Being that the other two girls have complained about a sore throat, I have them heading in tomorrow to be checked.  This could totally screw up the plans for tomorrow which included a trip to Ikea, Old Navy and a birthday party for Haven to attend.  Then after the 1 1/2 hours at the pediatrician, I  had to take my sleepy baby and wailing toddler to the grocery store to get a few things for tonight's dinner, and yes Teagan wailed the whole time.  *triple sigh*

Really hoping the day turns around!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Coming up for air

It has been a crazy few days!  Saturday the kiddos and I made our last trip to swimming and the farm in the old Trailblazer, then home for baby naps and when they woke up and Ryan was up we headed out to fill our bellies at Red Robin.  Once appropriately stuffed, we headed to the car lot and a mere 4 hours later (eek!) we rolled out in our big new 12 passenger van aka The Beast. I was very excited that we got way more for the Trailblazer then I expected and I was able to add a 100K warranty on to the existing warranty so we are covered for a long, long time.  I have to say, I knew we needed it, I knew it would be a good choice for the kids and trips and such, but holy freakin' cow, I LOVE the new van.  First, I am like 100 feet above the other cars and SUVs and it makes me feel very safe.  Next, the kids have a ton of room, I am able to put the carseats for the babies each in their own rows, in the center using the LATCH system and I know they are in the safest place they can be.  The big kids enjoy having some choice in where they sit and not having to sit next to whichever sibling is being the most annoying that day.  Before we went to see the van, I was sure that we would need to take out the last row that seats 4 before any trips, but after a few runs to the grocery store and some loading and unloading of cargo, I think we will be a-ok traveling with all the seats as they are :)

Monday we enjoyed a family Memorial Day of throwing out a ton of crap from the playroom.  Tis the season of purge in our home and I am going room by room, getting rid of the junk that accumulated the last two years I have been too tired and too pregnant to deal with it and deep cleaning and organizing each space.  Most of the playroom is done, I just need to do a few more boxes this weekend and organize the craft closet and it is good to go.  We are still waiting to get the new carpet, but with all the junk out, it will be much easier to install.  After purging, and showering, we were off to a neighbors 1st birthday party which was so much fun for the whole crew and as always it was fun to see other grownups, get the biggies out of our hair as they played with friends and watch the babies being cute together.

Yesterday was a cleaning day again, laundry, the rest of the playroom organizing and work.  Nothing too exciting, but generally a good day.

Today the hubby had jury duty.  He arrived when ordered, sat and answered questions and then was sent home.  Even though he wasn't chosen for the jury, they still paid him 30 bucks, so thanks for the cash county court, it bought us lunch today :)  We then loaded up a friend and her daughter in The Beast and headed to the farm, then home again jiggity jig to work, do dinner, showers, etc. 

Tomorrow Ryan has an interview so he needs to leave here bright and early, and I have big plans to clean and lay around with the babies :)