Friday, July 3, 2009

"Help, my family are freaks!" Plight of a teen age girl.

Oh, lazy summer days.

We do our best to entertain ourselves.
Maybe Auburn will forgive me for being such an embarrassment...... Yeah, probably not.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

teeth and bones

Nature, in her infinite wisdom, has seen fit to give us more teeth than we need. Never ones to hoard things we opted to unload these extra molars now instead of later.
Auburn's surgery was a couple of weeks ago and she weathered it in typical Auburn style. She woke from anesthesia wanting to know what was going on and unable to talk with all that gauze stuffed in her cheeks. She pointed at things and made very exaggerated "what's that?" expressions on her face and with her hands. Irritated that I didn't seem to understand what she was asking she mimed for a pad and pencil and promptly wrote, "Remind to me take Monday off work." and "EGG?" The last one had me puzzled until she pointed at a poster about ECGs. She seemed satisfied with my explanation and just confused that they might have a poster about EGGs up and then busied herself doodling. No big deal.
Cailyn awoke from her surgery in classic Cailyn style- laughing. The nurse came to get me and warned that they "occasionally have laughers but not like this." I could see why. Cailyn was laughing hysterically. The entire staff was lined up to watch her, laughter is definitely contagious. The informed me that laughers often cry later- an idea Cailyn found very sad when I told her. Just briefly though, very, very briefly.
She wasn't laughing two days later when she developed dry socket and her lower left side swelled. She might be a laugher but she's no whiner. Poor baby was in a lot of pain but still cheerful.
I raised some tough girls.
I think Orion agrees. Can you believe how skinny that boy is?



Saturday, June 20, 2009

twice bitten, still shy

Oh you gotta love summer. I remember so looking forward the the freedom of being out of school and the adventures we had in our own back yard- of course we had one awesome back yard. This summer is off to a painfully hot, dry start and I am feeling sorry for my kids. We are in a prolonged drought and though we have been getting some regular rain, it isn't nearly enough to make a difference in the waterways. The rivers and lakes are little more than large petri dishes and after Rheannon got an infection in her finger a couple weeks ago, something I'm confident she contracted swimming in the river, we have seriously limited our recreational options.
So I decided it was time for a camping trip. Auburn had her wisdom teeth pulled on Thursday but by Friday was eager to have us out of her hair so we crammed what we could in the trunk of my car and headed to the closest potential for fresh water, Palmetto State Park. It's on the San Marcos river, a very short, spring-fed water way that I was optimistic would have decent water quality. I was wrong. The park was beautiful and not overly crowded and we managed to find a camp site way to the back and far from the nearest neighbor.
We had a brilliant view off a bluff to the river- or it would have been had the river not been a shallow, muddy, stagnant mess. No swimming in there and frankly I don't think I'd feel very good about eating any fish they might catch. Still, we were determined to have fun and were off to a good start. The kids pitched the tent in record time and Orion tried his hand at the grill, he got a good, hot fire going and cooked up some hot dogs. We were comfortably stuffed and eager to go adventuring. The kids dashed off down the trail while I put away the last of the food stuffs. I can't have been two minutes behind them but they were already coming back before I got ten feet from the table.
"I got bit by a snake." Rheannon said, very calmly. "Really?" It wouldn't be the first time, I've raised a pack of naturalists and they are quite inclined to pick up snakes and have had more than one bite from a frightened reptile. As she got closer I noticed the pearled droplets of blood that indicated fang marks, a sure sign that this was no harmless slitherer. Better safe than sorry I reckoned; so "Load up." I called and my suddenly accommodating children silently and quickly piled into the car.
We stopped at the camp ground hosts camp site to ask directions to the nearest hospital. A mistake as he didn't seem to know and suddenly got very anxious and wanted to ask a thousand questions. I cut him off as politely as possible and snapped my fingers to draw Orion's attention away from the passing gaggle of girls and back to the task at hand, jumped back in the car and headed for the highway. I tossed Orion the cell phone and he called 911 to get directions.
In the mean time I was testing the limitations or my little engine and quickly learned why Toyota Corollas are often stolen by street racers. As Rowan later said, "You were shifting and it was like vrroom, vvvrrrrrrrroom, errrooom!" Rheannon swears I was doing 90- something Orion is still talking about- but the thing that really got their attention was when I shouted at a driver that nearly cut us off, "Get out of the road, Jack Ass!" I guess I'm glad that's the worst my kids have ever heard me say. I wouldn't be surprised if it gets embellished over the years but I'm going on record now that that is all I said.
We made the ten mile drive in what felt like 20 minutes but was probably closer to 5. I think I've discovered a potential career as a city engineer planning the lay out of signs. You would think that Hospital signs would be clear and easy to follow. I carried Rheannon in the door by the Emergency Room sign only to find out that the ER was on the other side of the hospital. Huh??? Anyway, it wasn't a busy night and they knew we were coming. She got excellent care and when asked about her pain level, very calmly pronounced it to be a Two. Just curious I asked, "What was your pain level when you crushed you finger in the hinge of the car door?" "Oh," she said after thinking a moment, "a four?" OooKay. Guess we all know not to trust Rheannon's assessment of pain as a valid way to determine the seriousness of an injury- I thought I was stoic.

The kids all saw the snake and reported it to be small. Their description eventually led to identifying it as a young Cotton Mouth (AKA Water Moccasin). Three punctures were clearly visible, something that puzzled us until her foot swelled and revealed a forth wound nearly on top of another. So she was bitten twice. The real concern here was actually the snakes youth. According to our very knowledgeable and charming doctors and nurses, 98% of snake bites involve little or no venom. Snakes only produce so much in a given week and don't want to waste it on warning strikes. Young snakes, however, lack the control or wisdom to hold back. We were hoping this snake, an adolescent, was old enough to have some self control. Obviously teen age snakes have all the self restraint of their human cohort because as time would show, she got a good dose.

Though they were optimistic that she wouldn't need anti-venom, they still started an IV and gave her a tetanus shot. She was far more put out by these puncture wounds than she was the snake bite.

As the discoloration didn't spread during the hours we were in the Luling ER the decision was made, and I fully agreed, that she would be fine. We were released to return to our camping and we were back in our cozy tent by midnight. Neither Rhea nor I slept well that night. She because her foot was itching and me because my residual adrenaline level wouldn't allow it. We both gave up just after dawn and crawled over the sound sleepers to make breakfast. The swelling had spread half way up her calf but she claimed they told us that would happen. I wracked my brain and couldn't remember that but it sounded reasonable. Still we decided to go back to the hospital to ask for crutches and to let them take a look at it. The other kids slowly emerged for the day and we were eating pancakes when the ER doc called to check on her. He thought the swelling should be looked at so we opted to drive into town sooner than later. We all expected to be returning to our campsite soon.

The doctor had conferred with a bite specialist and the decision was made to transfer to Dell Children's hospital in Austin, one hour away. They didn't feel it was an emergency and were allowing me to drive her. Apparently they weren't overhearing the story Orion was telling everyone he could think of to call, or they might not have let any of them ride with me.
They just wanted to do one last set of vitals before they let us go. Unfortunately Rheannon, like all her older siblings, has inherited my hypovolemia and her blood pressure drops and heart rate elevates when she stands up. When this happened the situation changed. They could no longer release her to me and so she got to make the trip in an ambulance while I took the other kids to pack up camp and follow as quickly as possible.

Rheannon, always the under-reactor, felt that the wires and tubes were overkill. She was understanding but disappointed to have to stay the night and endure THREE, counth them 3!!!, doses of anti-venom.
She did have fun holding her breath to make strange patterns on the monitor. She felt pretty bad when they told her that it's someone's job to sit in a room and look at all the monitors and that alarms go off when anything unusual happens and that poor person can't shut them off.

Once they finally got her a wheelchair and allowed us to explore the hospital, we were both impressed by the interesting things they had set up to entertain the patients.

The staff was great and all in all the experience was non-traumatic. She even got special lessons on the use of crutches and her own pair to take home. For Rheannon the worst part was all the attention. Everyone wanted to talk to her and doctors and nurses, not even on her case, kept wandering in to marvel at the wound. Or maybe they were just all curious about the girl that never complains- they did seem to find that quite amazing.
As soon as we could, we slipped away from the admiring staff and explored the hallways. We stopped to admire the simple yet interesting projection of droplets falling when we inadvertently discovered that it was interactive. Pretty cool, huh?


We have had our fair share of excitement around here- I actually started a sitcom pilot based on our daily life, I stupidly gave it up as I feared I would run out of material to keep a show going for more than a few episodes- Silly me. Anyhoo, the kids got two female rats for Christmas, Tonks and Domino, and they all love them so much that they wanted one each. Well, did you know that pet stores don't sell female rats? We searched and searched and then finally decided that we might just have to get a male and grow our own girl rats. The handsome male we picked turned out to be a female, Remus, so SCORE; but still we were short one and as we had all gotten excited about the prospect of babies, we tried again. We didn't want a thousand rats so we very carefully put the male in with Domino but weeks later she was just as skinny as ever so we Remus in with him to increase our odds. Naturally it was Tonks, the only female not to share a space with the male, who ended up giving birth to six kits. Tonks is an albino so all six are colored like their dad. They are so cute, playful, affectionate, and funny. Why do people even bother with dogs that will steal your lunch and cats that will shed on your pillow? It's rats for us.

Auburn is experiencing some growing pains. Just when she thinks she's figured out how to be an adult in this culture something new happens to challenge her. She was involved in an accident at the grocery store. The other driver was going fast and actually struck her but as she was backing out the fault is hers. As you can see from the damage to her 15 year old Geo Metro it was pretty minor. Still the other driver is claiming his vehicle is totaled and he has whiplash. FYI, you can't get whiplash from a side collision. Fortunately the insurance company recognizes he's a gold digger and is handling the situation. I am curious what it was about the 17 year-old driver in the 15 year-old car that made that guy think he'd hit his payday.

Always the drama King, Orion over reacts to a rat climbing down his shirt. What a ham.

School Dazed

School's out and naturally the end of the school year came with celebration and ceremony. Rowan and Willow have been participating in a home-school co-op one day a week and their final day was full of fun and games. What a wonderful group of people those are, we're going to miss them next year.

Auburn graduated with honors- third in her class, a position she very carefully guarded all year as she didn't want to risk falling in the top two, "they have to give speeches!" Too bad she didn't inherit my public speaking gene or she could have been Valedictorian. Or maybe not, that kid was academically superhuman.

She seemed genuinely thrilled with graduation gifts- two cameras and various photographic equipment. Her artistic talent hasn't found it's boundaries yet and she's every bit as remarkable a photographer as she is at everything else she touches. I would like to know where that gene came from. I reckon Jon probably gets the credit there as he also seems to have a golden touch when it comes to being able to pick up a skill without half trying.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hairy issues

Well as usual there are some creative changes happening around here. Willow lost two teeth, Rowan lost a mass of wild hair, and Rheannon lost her inhibitions. All good things, if you ask me.
As the school year comes to a close I'm once again scrambling to come up with a new plan. I was offered a massage job about 25 miles away but after I crunched the numbers I realized I would be away from home 30 hours a week for $400 and the kids would be left to their own devices all that time- now their devices can be fairly inspired and some times dangerous so it doesn't seem like a smart move on my part. I'm still trying to build a clientele closer to home but I think I stepped into a luxury profession at just the wrong time, people are in belt-tightening mode. So, once again I'm back to college to finish that nursing degree. It's a fairly last minute decision so I'm really scrambling to get registered for the last few classes I can take at the community college while simultaneously applying for admission for the spring at the university and the nursing school- separate applications. The deadlines are soon. Very soon! I'm jumping through hoops as fast as I can.
If everything plays out like I'm planning Orion will be at the charter high school his sisters attended and Rheannon, Rowan, and Willow will all be at the Montessori school. That's going to involve it's own set of hoops; cross your fingers for me.