Tuesday, August 30, 2011

(heart) Broken

When my mom used to tell me that seeing me in pain hurt her more than me, I thought it was a bunch of bologna. Not anymore...

Our kids have all gotten hurt, and we've had our share of ER visits through the years. We've even dealt with a broken bone (Olivia broke her ankle falling off the same monkey bars on the first day of first grade, six years ago!). But I think the severity and the nature of this injury threw both Steve and I for a loop, and we felt things that neither one of us had felt before.

We checked into Valley Care Hospital a little after 3pm on Tuesday, August 23 for a 5pm surgery. There wasn’t a whole lot of action going on in pre-op, I got the feeling we were the last surgery of the day. The nurses must have known a little guy was coming in. They had his bed all ready and waiting for him.

Grant changed out of his clothes and into a very small hospital gown. So small, in fact that his little boy parts kept peeking out. It gave me the giggles. Actually, pretty much everything was giving me the giggles—I think that was my coping mechanism throughout the day...

We spent the next hour and a half answering medical history questions while Grant happily watched a movie on the iPad (a godsend through this whole ordeal!).

About 20 minutes prior to surgery time, the nurses gave him a little “happy juice” to help him relax and make the separation from us a little easier for him when they wheeled him away into the OR. Steve and I jokingly asked the nurse what they had to make it easier for us . . . Before long, he had a goofy, lopsided grin on his face and was mumbling incoherently. That really gave me the giggles.

He didn’t even flinch when the anesthesiologist put in the IV.

We kissed him and watched as they wheeled him away, feeling like my heart was being ripped right out of my chest. It was hard to breathe. We wandered to the lobby to wait.

While we waited, Steve did a google search for a normal humerus bone. This is what it looks like.

This is what Grant's arm looked like.

The jagged gray line across the bone is the fracture.
The "ball" on the bottom bone is supposed to be in the "socket" of the humerus...

That huge gap in between the lower and upper arm bones is not supposed to
be there. The bones should fit closely together. When we saw this,
and compared it to the normal x-ray, we both felt sick to our stomachs.

After what seemed like an eternity (but was really only about 40 minutes), we saw our surgeon coming across the lobby toward us. We were anxiously watching for a thumbs up sign or smile, but got none. His face was stone serious, which gave me a fit of panic, wondering what had gone wrong...thankfully, he quickly reported that the surgery had gone perfectly, they had placed the pins without incisions, and he was in recovery.

When they took us back to recovery, he was still fast asleep. It took about another hour or so for him to slowly wake up.

He looked so tiny in the bed.

Because of his age, and the late time of day of his surgery, they kept him in the hospital overnight for observation. He hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for nearly 12 hours, but the kitchen was closed for the night. Grant’s dinner for the evening consisted of 3 cups of apple juice, a carton of chocolate milk, and a bag of Baked Lay’s potato chips. The dinner of champions!

We were in a private room, with our very own flat screen tv on the wall. And Grant got to call the shots on whatever we watched. In his world, that was pretty much heaven! When he couldn't find anything to watch on tv (after about 11pm, even Cartoon Network shows trashy shows), we switched to the iPad.

It was a rough night. With an IV in one hand, and his other arm immobilized and in pretty severe pain, he was pretty much useless. At about 4am, after close to no sleep for nearly 48 hours, I lost it and broke down sobbing. I just rubbed his little chest through the bedrail, silently praying for the strength to get through this.

When the sun came up a couple of hours later, he had turned a corner. He hopped out of bed and walked to the bathroom, ate a couple of pancakes and pieces of bacon for breakfast, and was ready to head on home.

Friday we went back to the orthopedist for his hard cast. They took an xray to check alignment, and things looked perfect!

He was a trooper as they put on not one, but two casts. The first cast didn’t come up high enough on his arm leaving too much mobility in the joint, so the cast tech had to cut it off and start over. Grant laid back on the table, closed his eyes, and went to his happy place.

He's now proudly sporting a super cool camouflage cast. He blends in very well with his surroundings.

By Saturday, he was running around, and pretty much back to his normal mischief-making.

It’s tough keeping him out of the pool and away from the water—the boy is part fish!

I look back on this past week, and it just seems unreal. My heart still jumps into my throat when I look at the photos of his bone, or him in the hospital, or think of his cry when he first fell. While it’s true that my physical pain might not have been as great as his, the emotional pain was pretty much off the charts!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The face of happiness at twelve

Olivia turned 12 years old today. (What???? 12???? What happened to the last 11 years???)

She's been dying for a new cell phone. (Apparently her cute little pink flip phone is soooo last year!)

She's also been begging for texting privileges (according to her, she's the ONLY one who wasn't allowed to text. I have a hard time believing that!)

After a whole lot of discussion and consideration, Steve and I decided it was time.

So, while we were waiting for our food to arrive at her birthday dinner, we handed her a small, wrapped box.

We laid out a few ground rules—no texting after 8pm on weeknights, 9pm on weekends, no texting at the dinner table, no texting when friends are over, we have the right to check her texts at any time without a fight, and the real clincher...no sassy attitude.

When I was 12, I got a cassette deck for my room. My, how things have changed...

Happy Birthday sweet girl!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to school!

The kids went back to school today. Well, two of them did...

Olivia started 7th grade today...which freaks me out just a little—in 2 short years she'll be off to high school!

Jack started 3rd grade today. He has the same teacher as last year, whom he adores, and was up and in the shower before the sun came up this morning. He was ready!

Grant went to his class for about an hour...just long enough to hear a story, go on a little scavenger hunt around the school, and sit down and start to eat a cookie, which I promptly snatched away from him (but not before he took a bite...shhhh, don't tell!) since he can't eat or drink anything (even water) ALL........DAY.........LONG!!!!!

Now he's laying on the couch watching "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl" for the hundredth time (dumbest movie ever, but Grant thinks it's da bomb...)

We're going to venture out and do a little birthday shopping for Olivia before it's time to check into the hospital.

I think God knows what He's doing...while I certainly did not wish for a broken arm, this has put things in perspective for me. The distraction of the arm has taken my mind off the fact that my baby is headed off to school. When Grant finally and officially walks into kindergarten next week, I think I'll be breathing a sigh of relief instead of shedding tears!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Be careful what you wish for...

Tomorrow is the first day of school. I was halfway dreading it, mostly because Grant is starting kindergarten, and I wasn't quite ready to let him go.

Today, we went to kindergarten orientation at the school. Grant got to meet his teacher, spend some time in his classroom, and get a feel for what school will be like. It was great. He was happy. I only shed a tear or two as he walked away from me, then I was happy too.

Afterwards, he raced out to the playground with Jack and Olivia. A little while later, Olivia came running and told me Grant had fallen and was screaming and couldn't move his arm.

We spent 4 long hours in the ER.

Grant was not a very happy camper, but was super cooperative, even in a ton of pain.

X-rays showed he has a broken humerus...which really isn't humorous at all. The ER doc set his arm in a temporary splint and sent us on our way.

We got in to see an orthopedic specialist this afternoon. Because of the location and severity of the fracture, Grant will need surgery to place pins in the bones to help it heal properly. We are scheduled for 5pm tomorrow.

I know I wished that he wasn't heading off to kindergarten quite yet, but this really wasn't what I had in mind!

Monday, August 8, 2011


This guy is now officially five years old. FIVE! How did that happen?

Where did the time go? I know that phrase is over-used. But I really feel it . . . five years have passed, yet there are moments when I can still smell his newness, feel his innocence, and taste the sweetness that accompanies a newborn baby. Of course, I also vaguely recall the sleepless nights, leaking body parts (his and mine!), crying (again, his and mine!), and the feeling that my body would never be my own again!

At five, Grant measures 42" tall and weighs 43 lbs. He is solid as a rock.

He is rarely seen fully dressed. He'd go naked all day, every day if I'd let him.

He knows all the words to Bruno Mars' song "Grenade" and belts them out at the top of his lungs anytime the song comes on. He is especially good at the "For Ya" parts of the song.

He's even mastered the rock-star "faux-hawk" look!

He swims better than me. Seriously—and I was a pretty decent swimmer in my day. This kid has potential.

He tackles everything he does with incredible gusto. There are no half-hearted attempts at anything.

He has no fear. He'll be the one caught jumping off the roof, racing motorcycles, or crossing a tight rope between two sky scrapers. Steve won't let me watch him play outside anymore because I gasp and shriek too much at the stuff he does.

He is as stubborn as a mule. I've had to revamp my mommy-game to figure out what makes him tick, and I'm still figuring it out!

He starts kindergarten in 2 weeks. Bring on the champagne, and a case of kleenex. I have a feeling I'll be needing them both.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lessons learned while underwater

"Swimmers take your mark, get set . . ."

"And GO!"

We just wrapped up our fifth summer on swim team. I have friends (actually, lots of them), who think we are insane to dedicate 3+ months each year to swimming. Daily practices (now spanning 2 hours because of the kids' ages) and meets every Saturday from 6am to noon take up a good chunk of our time.

While we may be just a little insane, we have also watched our kids blossom through the experience. Here are just some of the things we love about swim team:

It teaches the importance of teamwork. Swimming is both an individual and a team sport. Every single swimmer helps contribute to the overall success and ranking of the team, yet with the exception of relays, swimmers are competing individually. Even if a swimmer doesn't "win" a race, they can improve their own personal time.

Jack's medley relay team worked hard to stay together,
and ended up with a gold medal at the league championships!

It builds endurance and personal strength. In addition to the increased physical stamina gained by swimming laps for 30-45 minutes every single day, emotional strength is gained as well. The kids learn to overcome fears, to push themselves beyond what they thought they could do, and are rewarded for their accomplishments.

Case in point, every Wednesday, kids in the 10 and under age groups are challenged to an "Animal Swim". Depending on age and ability, they swim varying lengths and strokes without taking a breath. For the kids under age 6 (that was Grant this year!), they must swim freestyle from the deep end of the pool to the black line (about 3/4 the length of a 25m pool) without taking a single breath. Once they reach that point, they can try for the whole length of the pool. Then, they move on to the butterfly stroke, again swimming the entire length of the pool without a breath.

Last year, Jack tried all season to make it to the end of the pool, and couldn't do it. He was sad, but determined that this year, he'd do it. The very first week of morning practice, the coaches asked Jack to "demo" the Animal Swim. He'd never made it before, and I could tell he was nervous about it, especially with all the other kids watching.

He made it on the very first try this year. When he got out of the water, he said over and over "I just can't believe I made it!"

Over the course of the next several weeks, Jack kept trying to make it in butterfly, and Grant tried to make it to the black line. Each week, they came a little closer, until the very last Wednesday . . . when both boys made it! Their reward? A bag of animal crackers at our end-season-banquet, thunderous applause, and a whole lot of pride!

The kids learn to take encouragement from others. Our coaches are unbelievable. They're the reason we haven't joined a team closer to home. The way they uplift, motivate, and acknowledge the kids is amazing.

Early on in the season, Grant had a bit of stage fright when it came to the meets. He did fine in practice, but come line up on Saturday morning, he wanted nothing to do with it. Coach Frank gently and firmly coached Grant along, cracking jokes, calming his fears, and getting him pumped up to swim. It worked.

A couple of weeks before the end of the season, the coaches pulled us aside and asked if we thought Grant would be okay swimming at championships. 1200 swimmers, and an all-day event gave us pause . . . but in the end, we agreed. He was the only 4 year old in the entire league swimming at championships. We weren't sure what Grant's reaction would be when he saw the gigantic pool with the sides lined by all the people. But with Coach Frank (aka The Jolly Green Giant) by his side (and the promise of chocolate when he was done), that little shark dove in and swam with all his might.

It gives us something to laugh about. Rarely a practice or meet went by that we weren't laughing out loud about something—most often something Grant said or did. Here's just a few snapshots:

Still not quite sure what Grant is doing here.
Maybe tucking in his swimsuit strings—or maybe something else!

This swim start was the photo winner of the season. I laugh every time I see it!

Grant's "snake eyes" goggles hid his eyes from view, and so we could never quite read what was going on in that mind of his. He loved them though, and said they gave him super powers. Whatever it takes!

It builds friendships. Both kids have made great friends through our association with the families on swim team.

Jack and his teammate Joe have swam together the last three years. They are neck and neck as far as times go, and both push each other to be better. At the beginning of the season, they weren't talking much to each other, or really even acknowledging each other's presence. When I asked Jack why, he replied "It's because he's my arch enemy." Jack didn't want to get too friendly for fear of losing his focus, and getting beat! As the season progressed however, these two were unstoppable. Not just in the pool, but out of the pool as well.

"I am Hans" and "I am Franz" and "We are here to PUMP YOU UP!"

We've known Jordan through a mutual friend for several years. But this was her first year on our team, and she and Olivia became fast friends. It was fun for them both to have someone to hang out with!

It's family-oriented. Coaches, parents, and kids all work together to make swimming a success. Meets are run by volunteers, and parental involvement is required. We got to spend 6 hours every Saturday morning together as a family. No TV, no distractions (except for the snack bar), just us (and 100 other families!) hanging out together, cheering each other on.

It really was about the snack bar—there was no end to the treats and junk the boys craved on Saturday mornings!

I should have made a sign for Grant to wear that said "Will swim for food..."

Congratulating Olivia after winning her heat and getting
her own personal best at Championships!

The kids are rewarded for their efforts. In addition to visits to the snack bar, the kids receive ribbons for each and every race at each and every meet. Over the course of the season, with three kids, we've amassed quite a collection!

Jack finished the season with two gold medals and a silver medal. His free relay team and medley relay team both took first place, and Jack won the silver for the 8 & under butterfly race.

Grant and Olivia were both heat winners, and helped score points for the team.

We've gone through withdrawals some this week, missing the daily drive to, and the time spent at, the pool. While it is nice to have a break, the kids are already asking how long until swim team starts again!