Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Brain Damage

Caleb comes to me this morning with no tears, no blood, and says, "Mama?"


"Leah dropped the wheel from the wagon on my brain."

"Can you show me where it hit you?" He points to a spot on the upper part of his hairline, along his forehead. I kiss it. "Are you okay?"

"Yep," and he walks out to face his abuser.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I was doing laundry today (surprise, surprise) when Caleb came to me bothered. He said, rather plaintively, "Remember when I went to Australia for my birthday? Remember that?"

I looked at him, obviously puzzled.

"Bethany says I didn't go to Australia on my birthday. But I did go to Australia, don't you remember?"

"Son, you went to the Aquarium on your birthday."

"Oh, okay." He then happily went back to the table to explain this to Bethany.

You never know what you are going to get.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Wipe and Flush

Why is something as simple as wipe and flush so difficult? When my two middles (Caleb and Leah) use the potty we have a simple rule: wipe and flush. They either wipe, and do not flush; or flush without a wipe. Am I asking too much? Thankfully, the third part of this rule, wash, provides so much fun that it is rarely forgotten. Perhaps we need to invest in a bidet.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Uh Oh!

Last night we had an uh oh. They happen occasionally in families, and while I think I have become more capable at assessing bodily damage as a result of my experiences, it never ceases to rattle me when my child is genuinely hurt.

Christopher and I were upstairs with the littles when we suddenly heard a piercing scream from Hannah below. We both started for the stairs, and when we turned the corner of the hallway we could see the reflection of Hannah leaning over the sink in the bathroom with blood pouring out of her mouth. This is not good, I thought. Poor Bethany was in such a state of shock that it took us several minutes to learn what had happened.

Apparently the girls were playing with Hannah's bath towel when Bethany pulled it one way, anticipating Hannah would let go, but when she didn't she went careening into the sidearm of the couch, hitting her chin and mouth so hard she bit through her lip. Uh oh seems slightly insufficient... dear God, would more accurately describe the scene. We knew Hannah would need stitches.

As I drove Hannah to the hospital shock was keeping her mouth numb from the pain, but the mental image of stitches was scaring her to death. We prayed that God would give us a kind physician with gentle hands, a sweet temperament, and as pain-free a procedure as possible. I must admit, I also offered up my prayers that she would not be too badly scarred.

She calmed down considerably after praying, and actually began to joke about the ordeal. She was quite proud that she would have stitches like her friends who had traversed this road before her. And she remembered as well, that Grandpa had fallen down stairs, and bitten through his lip.

We hung out in the ER for a few hours, doing the normal "rush & wait" routine. When we were seen by the doctor our fears were confirmed that she punctured the entire lip, and would need a three-layer suture closure. The doctor explained the procedure, and very gently noted that the application of the anesthesia would be the most painful experience of the entire operation. Hannah was very stoic in the face of the information, and the physician even mentioned how calm she was for her age. However, after he left Hannah began to get understandably anxious, and wanted to know every ounce of detail relating to the upcoming event. Hannah's mode of emotional management tends to be utmost control in the face of anything, so watching her fight back tears as she asked about how badly it would hurt just about broke my heart.

When the nurse, and doctor came back to our room Hannah was ready. She quietly followed their directions, and prepared for the operation. The nurse, a gentle man who had children her age at home, was very friendly, even if he bordered on the patronizing. About half way through the procedure he finally caught on that we are not a big, "sugar-coat the truth" family, and realized I was accurately describing to Hannah what the doctor was about to do at each step. We believe that education, even in the face of trauma, helps to alleviate the unknown, so at least you are only dealing with the fear of the real, and not the imagined worst. The doctor was very supportive of this, and worked with me to tell Hannah exactly when she would be feeling different sensations.

The administration of the topical anaesthesia was painful, but complete. I was nervous it might not be as utterly thorough as necessary, and she would still feel the pain of the stitches. This was Christopher's experience, and with the same doctor! But God heard my pleas, and once the medicine took effect she didn't feel anything! I won't go into the exploratory nature necessary to determine the extent of the damage, but suffice it to say the through-and-through aspect of the wound had to be confirmed.

God is good. The physician was impressed with the cleanliness of the puncture, and the number of stitches initially thought necessary was almost cut in half. The diagnosis for scarring was also revised, and Hannah should see no visible signs of the incident within a few years. Her driver's license picture is safe *wink*.

We arrived home some 3 hours later, record time for most ER visits, and Hannah was greeted by her very concerned sister Bethany, who had insisted on staying up until we returned. Bethany had been so distraught over her possible responsibility in the affair that only praying for the safety, and well-being of Hannah during our absence alleviated her mind. She made Hannah a beautiful "get better" picture, and presented it to her the minute we walked in the door.

We are all grateful for the little miracles God sees fit to work on our behalf every day. Hannah took 4 stitches, one on the inside of her mouth, and 3 to close the outer wound. But that was significantly less than originally feared. She will have virtually no scar, and her medical team was sensitive during the entire procedure. She and I had a neat chance to read, chat, and pray together which doesn't come along in uninterrupted quantities very often. And now she has an even poutier bottom lip to go with her sweet smile - at least for the next week or so!

Operatic Knuckles

Christopher occasionally asks the kids if they want a knuckle sandwich. I don't get it. I have never gotten it. What a terrible thing to say to a child. Apparently this is one of those "dad" things, to which I am woefully lacking in talent - being a mom and all. Christopher's dad did it to him, and he got such a giggle out of it growing up that the true meaning of the phrase was lost in the playful banter. I fold.

Just today Christopher asked Leah if she wanted the infamous knuckle sandwich. "NO," she asserted, "stop it Daddy!" She then ran into the kitchen, and began playing with alphabet magnets on the fridge. As she moved the V next to the F she started singing her ABC song - as an opera.

Aaa, Beeeee, Ce, Deee, EeeEeeeE, F, GEEe, Atch, I, Jayyyy, Jayyy, ELLLL, MmMmM, OOOOOOO, Que, Sssssss, TeeeeeEEE, Ewe, Vee, W, YyyyYYYYY, Ze. Now I sing my Aaa, BeeEEee, CeEeEes, won't you sing with meeeEEee?

It was everything an aspiring vocalist could want in a song - high sopranos, low quarter notes with throaty vibrato, legato throughout, with just the right amount of articulation to define each new letter. Beautiful. Christopher and I practically had tears in our eyes we were laughing so hard. After calming ourselves Christopher asked Leah, "Do you like singing?"


"Well, don't quit your day job," he added, while still chuckling over her opera debut. Then, unexepectedly, Leah walked straight up to Daddy and said, with a fist next to his face,

"You wanna knuckle sandwich?"

I think I peed my pants.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Big Girl Bed

I remember thinking this day would never come! Leah is out of her tent!!! For those of you unfamiliar with Leah's tent, here is a promo picture of the contraption for your edification. The tag line of the product talks about keeping baby safe from animals, like cats, that might inadvertently climb into the crib. It also highlights the safety feature of keeping baby from accidentally (ACCIDENTALLY mind you) falling out of their crib, and injuring themselves. It is supposed to give parents peace of mind, knowing they are securing their child in a safe environment. It says nothing about the stubborn child who willfully scales the crib for freedom each, and every day. However, their is a subtle note in the description about how the design follows the cell layouts at Alcatraz. Cats huh?

Leah began climbing out of her crib when she was quite little, around 17mos or so. My other girls did this as well, and a simple explanation of the unacceptability, followed by a spanking for repeat offenders was plenty to get the point home. Hannah, and Bethany contentedly stayed in their cribs after they woke from their naps, or bedtime, until I came and got them. Mary does the same. Ahhh, but not Leah. Noooo. We explained, spanked, spanked, explained, explained, reviewed, spanked, encouraged, bribed, and finally gave up. It was maddening. We bought the Alcatraz cell, and locked her in. It sure did give us peace of mind. And we made a huge deal out of her tent being a special indoor tent that she would get to sleep in every night. She loved it. And I never thought I would be able to move her into a normal bed before she was 16. Miracles do happen.

One of the first thoughts I can recall after the pregnancy test came back positive was, how am I going to transfer Leah out of her tent? We already have two cribs, so I wasn't going to buy another one! Leah would need to move into the toddler bed, so the new baby could have a crib. Moving Leah into the toddler bed meant Caleb would need to give it up, and transition into a genuine big boy bed. This was fairly easy, since we already had an extra twin mattress and bedspring hanging out in the garage. I bought a metal frame, some boyish bedding and he was set. The toddler bed was free - and my greatest fear now loomed over me. Moving Leah.

The idea to attach it to her birthday was inspired by the reality that we do not celebrate birthdays in typical fashion. Or maybe we do, and everyone else is strange? Anyhow, birthdays in our home tend to be small, family-centric affairs with not a lot of pomp, presents or parties. With the number of children we have the smaller ones simply don't need anything, and I don't need more stuff to organize. But we do acknowledge the joy of the day, and try to mark it in some significant manner. We began telling Leah about moving to a big girl bed a week before the actual event, in hopes that it would whet her appetite to own the transition. By the time the day dawned she was pretty excited. Christopher and I put a movie on downstairs, and then doggedly worked upstairs to disassemble her crib, move the toddler bed into her room, and re-outfit it with girlie sheets. When we called the kids to come up everyone couldn't wait to see Leah's new bed! In fact, it was hard to convince the kids to let her have a moment to herself.

So how has she been doing, you ask? Very well, actually. Yes, she has gotten out of her bed, and made a terrible mess of the room. Yes, she has fallen asleep with counterfeit booty in her bed. Yes, we have explained, spanked, spanked, explained, explained, reviewed, spanked, and encouraged, but there has been no giving up! She is so pleased to have her own big girl bed, and really does want to earn our trust. She solemnly promises not to get out of her bed each nap/bedtime. And we know that eventually she really will stay in her bed. In the meantime, it has been a joy to see her set free from her prison cell (and an incredible load off my mind that the new baby will have a place to sleep).