Friday, May 31, 2013

Dry Run

Yesterday, Grace, Charlotte and I trekked to Boise.
Not only to visit Grandma and Grandpa, but to show Grace what surgery will be like.
My mom always says a picture is worth a 1000 words. 
Well then, "backstage access" at a surgery center probably is the 2nd best thing to a Pixar production of a surgical experience to a 4 year old!!
Lucky for us, we know a guy...

Just to back up a bit, we told Grace Wednesday night about her surgery.
She asked a few questions but overall she was pretty calm and most likely, didn't understand a word we  said - even if we did have a book with pictures provided to us by the hospital.

It wasn't for a lack of listening though.
At one point, when we were supposed to say something to the effect that she could bring a comfort item (blanket, toy, etc), I accidentally said something along the lines..."and then, in this room, you'll get a stuffed animal."

She locked onto that boy!! She didn't miss a beat!

Grace: I get a prez-net?!??!
Me:  No - you get to bring a stuffed animal with you.
(Continue on to next step of procedure.) Any questions?
Grace:  And then I get a prez-net??
Repeat this scenario three or four times.

Clearly, the expectations of the outcome of her surgery are far different than mine!

My dad had told me to bring Grace to his surgery center when all of this was developing so she could get a real feel for what was going to happen when she had her surgery.
With school, weather, colds, commitments - I never made any hard, fast plans to get to Boise.
Besides, we still had lots of time. 

Then, time started running out.
So we hightailed it to Boise yesterday.

This morning, Grace got to experience what surgery will be like. 

From the gown,

to getting weighed and measured,

to being hooked up to machines by a nurse in full surgical scrubs and mask 
(note: Grace had never met this woman before so this was to her the REAL DEAL), 

to seeing all kinds of machines and tubes and equipment, 

to finger clippy montiors, 

to being asked questions by a nurse, 

to fighting back tears because even though this was practice, it was still really overwhelming, really new, and really scary, 

to seeing the mask that will put her to sleep, 

to feeling the mask be put over her nose and mouth, 

to getting directions about not eating or drinking anything the night before her surgery, 

to physically going into the operating room, all hooked up - without Mom - just like how it will happen on surgery day, 

to Mom waiting outside - feeling absolutely helpless, 

to "waking up" in the "wake up room", where Mom and Dad will be waiting.

I can't begin to explain how helpful this was for Grace.
Sometimes, having someone explain something to you just isn't enough.
Only touching it. Smelling it. Feeling it will - particularly, for a four year old - will do the trick.

While I do not doubt that she will still be scared on the actual day of her surgery, at least some of the unknowns have been taken out of the equation. 
[And I don't know about you, but back in my algebra days, the less letters I saw in an equation, 
the better my chances were for successfully arriving at the correct answer.]

Surgery is scary enough as it is. Not being able to understand what is happening or why has to be even scarier to a child - especially when surrounded by masked strangers wearing matching pajamas.

So a huge thank you to my Dad for suggesting this, for making the time, for doing what Dads and Grandpas do best - being the darkest, scariest moments and making you believe that everything will be ok, 

To Crystal who clearly helped get this arranged and to Angela and John who played a large role in providing peace of mind to a little girl - and her mother. 

Grace left in smiles - excited to dress up 'Cow', 'Bun-Bun' and Charlotte in her new surgical attire. 
Mission accomplished.

Funny how with two weeks left, I felt in a huge rush to get to Boise and get this done.
Now that it is over and we are "ready," it seems like we have to wait an eternity.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Breaking the News

Tonight, Court and I will be sitting down with Grace to tell her that in 
two weeks she will be having surgery. 

This topic has been unsettling - to say the least. I haven't talked about it here on the blog and in my "real" life, I haven't talked about it much either. Mainly, because it is no one's business but primarily because we didn't want it discussed in front of Grace. We didn't want her to worry. We didn't want to scare her.  

So Grace's situation has been primarily on 'a-need-to-know' basis for some time. And I break my silence now. Why? Truthfully, I'm not entirely sure. I think partly to vent. Sharing my thoughts will let my heart breathe a little bit. I also don't want Grace's situation to be the "elephant in the room." It is nothing to be ashamed of or some big, bad secret. It is what it is.

Grace will be undergoing surgery on both legs. Currently, she is able to walk only on her toes. She physically can not walk or stand flat footed. The reason is that the tendons in her calf are too short. Why? We don't know. The surgery - followed by six to eight weeks in casts - will correct this. 

I am confident. 

I trust and value modern medicine. It is comforting that my father is a doctor and my mother a nurse. It humanizes the sometimes 'cold' medical experience tremendously. Most importantly, I believe that this is the right course of action for Grace. For HER growth. HER development. HER life.

With all that said, my baby is having surgery. In a hospital. In two weeks. 
I am not naive. 
I know that no surgery is without risk. 

So tonight, we will talk with her. Explain the best we can to a four year old why she is undergoing surgery, the process of anesthesia and what she will find on her legs when she wakes up. Most importantly, we will love her, comfort her and assure her, beyond all rational and reason, that everything is going to be ok. 

Because it will be.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Backyard Magic

The Memorial Day weekend celebration starts for us tomorrow. We are heading to Sun Valley with some friends for some food and fun with all of our kids. 
(We'll be traveling with a 4, 3, 2 and 1 year old! Should be interesting!!) 

When the rain started at Grace's park party, it didn't stop until the next day! The skies parted for just a few minutes so I quickly put the girls rain boots on and took a break from packing for the weekend!

This wasn't the weather I was expecting to kick off summer.

But the rain left behind huge, magnificent puddles.

Perfect for rock throwing...


and jumping!

Charlotte prepared - both mentally and physically - for her jumps!

I spotted two nests while the girls ran around!

Nothing like outside-backyard-fun.
Nothing like home.
Nothing like Home Place. 

Only a month or so left of this view.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Party in the Park

To celebrate the school year coming to an end last week, Grace's teachers held a little get together in the park for all the kids to say one last goodbye!

Grace was beyond excited to see all her friends! 

They all played so well together!

She is smiling at an older boy - Jacob - who attended pre-k at Grace's school. Apparently, they'd become friends. Look at that smile she is giving him!! Says a lot, no?

And where there was Grace, there was her Charlotte shadow!

This cracks me up! A stack of kids in the slide and some big hair!

Grace, her new friend, Jacob, and a few other kids decided to play dinosaur. Dinosaur is basically a game that involves a lot of yelling and screaming and chasing.
It scared Charlotte.
A lot.
Tough Miss Charlotte apparently no so tough!

So she and I did a lot of this...

I did notice Grace and Jacob running around holding hands...
but didn't act fast enough to get a pic in focus.

Dinosaur came to an end as the rain started coming down so Charlotte was eager to rejoin the kids gathered under the playground singing songs on the tire song.

Just like the school year, playtime at the park came to an end much too quickly!
But it makes looking forward to the fall that much sweeter!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Um...You Won't Believe This....AGAIN!!

I slept in this morning. To 7:30! It felt like 10 am after waking up before the sun more times than not this past week. Truth be told, I woke up more groggy today! Maybe I just felt more groggy because Court was awake too and firing off questions before I'd had a chance to drink my coffee. (The good thing about an early wake up? -You have lots of time to wake up - in silence! haha!!)

Grace and Charlotte woke up just minutes later and we were getting ready to have "family breakfast!" Family breakfasts are special because they mean three things: 1) Daddy is not working, 2) We are all at home and 3) DONUTS!!! It's Court's special treat with the girls. He takes them to the store, let's them pick out whatever they you can imagine how excited Grace was!

On my second sip of coffee, I heard the flapping of wings. Immediately, I thought Kiwi had flown 'the coop' and had landed somewhere in the living room. When I looked in the direction of the sound, I could tell by the look on Grace's face that it was not Kiwi!

I ran out to the living room and there on the floor was a DUCK!! As soon as I saw the duck, Lucky, our fierce, fluff ball of a dog, saw it too. At that point, I screamed because that's all we need is a duck death in our living room - in front of our girls!

Court, hearing me scream, ran out from wherever he was on level 10,000 on a scale of 1-10. Grace and Charlotte ran into our bedroom as Court and I tried to get the dogs. The dogs, of course, wouldn't listen, so Court ended up grabbing Lindey and launching her in my direction. At this point, he still didn't know why we were all panicking so his adrenaline gave him Herculean strength. I think he thought it was the owl again!

Only after the girls and the dogs were safely nestled in the back bedroom did he figure out it was just a duck! But seriously!?!?!? A duck? In our house? 

Look in the way back...the duck is in the fireplace.
We think that is how he got in. 

Rest assured, he was safely released. Court has had practice at this sorta thing! haha!!

Regardless, what is with all of feathered friends getting into our house?
Whoever lives in this house next is going to be in for all sorts of surprises!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Indiana Football Hall of Fame

A couple of weekends ago, my dad was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame! 

He grew up in Hammond, IN - outside of Chicago - and had an incredibly successful high school career. In fact, many of his records still stand. After high school, he went on to the University of Wisconsin - Madison where he played quarterback. While a brief career in the pros might have been possible, he chose job security and went to medical school. 

Being inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame - or any hall of fame for that matter - is a BIG deal! So the entire family scuttled back to Chicago for the big event!

We flew in Saturday afternoon, checked into the hotel and immediately went to dinner at Ditka's (you know? the famous Chicago Bear's coach? - he has a streak restaurant!) in downtown Chicago. My grandmother, aunt, uncle and cousin joined us! 
It was a fun, classic, midwestern evening!
Steak, steak and more steak!!

Court and my cousin, Jud, met for the first time!

So nice for my grandmother to have an evening with both of her children - and their family -
under celebratory circumstances. 

She even made a toast saying that being all together - particularly so close to Mother's Day - was the best gift she could have hoped for! Cheers to that!

John Andrew & Uncle Jim
Where are your drinks fellas? Let's get this party started!

Aha! There's the champagne!!

Nothing like drinking champagne and taking pictures!


A really fun evening!
Grace and Charlotte joined us for dinner and were as good as gold but for one minor incident where Grace "fell" out of her chair. I use the term 'fell' loosely. There may have been some pushing involved by a certain 2 year old. I was capping off my champagne when said incident took place so I didn't see what happened - only dealt with the after effects.
The champagne in me took over and promised a trip to a toy store the next day and VOILA Grace was cured! Nothing like the promise of a toy store to EX-CER-SIZE the demons!!

The next morning, Chicago was sunny and beautiful! Windy and chilly but sunny. Tulips and spring flowers were in bloom everywhere. I am kicking myself for not taking any pictures but I was busy eating brunch and tracking down a toy store whereby we wouldn't have to walk by the American Girl store - AKA empty-your-savings-account-for-a-doll-store. Luckily, we were able to track down the Disney store and all was well - particularly the pocketbook!

The actual ceremony was being held about a 1.5 hour drive outside of Chicago. So we left at about 2 to meet relatives at my Grandma's house. Grace and Charlotte fell asleep on the way there and Court took one for the team by sitting in the car with them while we all went inside. It was a good thing we let the girls rest while we did! It ended up being a late night! Much later than we anticipated. I doubt Grace and Charlotte would have lasted through the ceremony without that cat nap in the car.

The ceremony consisted of some high school athletes being recognized for their achievements followed by dinner. After dinner, each inductee was introduced after which the inductee was allowed to give a speech. Initially, Court and I were unsure if we were going to be able to attend the event so my sister had been nominated to introduce my dad.  My sister is a really good public speaker and she is REALLY good at winging these types of things. So when Molly rolled into town, sick as a dog, I had a sinking feeling. 

After being passed the baton of giving my dad's introduction, I had a few hours to pull together a few ideas. I was nervous. Not because I was anxious to speak in front of a large group of people but because I didn't want to embarrass or disappoint my dad. This was a big deal and it was important that my words were as impressive as his accomplishment.

A-before-speech picture. Yes, I look how I feel. Like I am going to vomit. 

I made it through my speech.
Bumbled it a bit. Cried in places I didn't think I would. Got a laugh or two. Heard a few crickets.
Overall, it wasn't the worst speech.
Could it have been better?
Emphasis on the much.
The good news? 
It wasn't the worst. 

My dad gave a truly great speech. 
Relatable. Humble. Thankful. Heartfelt.
He thanked his parents, his coaches and his teammates. 
Shared memories and the bigger meaning of football. 
It was a great speech.

After that, I could finally relax, have a drink and enjoy the evening!

Like I said, it was a long evening. 
An enjoyable evening but a long one!
I don't think things wrapped up until 10:30 or 11 and the girls were present the entire time!
They really were rock stars (as was Court) who manned them by himself for the first couple of hours of the night

Dad with his fellow inductees.

Congratulations Dad!
A well deserved honor and we are so happy we were able to be there to share it with you!