Friday, August 31, 2012

Pool Time

We've logged quite a few hours at the pool this summer. Spencer and Emma both took a round of swim lessons at Ida Lee, our local community center, and closed out the swimming season with 6 private lessons from my friend Tera. (Tera and I did a lesson swap; violin lessons for her daughter, swim lessons for my kiddos). Emma has gone from being nervous about putting her face in the water to showing off her dolphin kicks and "mermaid" swimming skills every time we are in the pool.  

Spencer progressed really well in his Level 3 swim class, which was taught by a high school friend of mine who goes by "Mr. Billy" to his swim students. He can do freestyle and backstroke from one end of the pool to the other. He also loved practicing diving off the side of the pool and can do 5 cannonballs in a mere 30 seconds. (He had me count yesterday). 

John logged a lot of time on the sidelines during swim lessons, but he is as much a fish as his brother and sister. Grandma gave him a puddle jumper this summer; it's a clever swim aid that lends more balance than a lifejacket and allows them to move their arms in a swimming motion. John loves to be in charge of his own movement, splashing and kicking to his heart's content. There are times that he just wants to snuggle a parent, but it has been marvelous to go from toting two clingy, nervous kiddos around the pool earlier in the summer to having independent swimmers for much of the time. 

John in his puddle jumper.

This picture is from earlier in the summer, but I love the cheesy grin. Taken at the neighborhood pool.

The week before school started, we used a Living Social deal I had purchased to go to Volcano Island Water Park. This used to be the Algonkian Pool, back in the day, and I remember taking swim lessons here and saving my change so I could buy a grape soda afterward. Grammy, Joel, Sarah, and Trina joined us for the first part of the day, which was so fun! We stayed for a good 5 hours. Spencer conquered every slide in the park, going on each one at least 3 times independently after his ride buddies (the Cummings) left. I was really proud of him and watched from the shallow end where I was hanging with Emma and John while Spence climbed the pavilions and came splashing down.

Emma used her new swimming skills to engage a group of cute summer campers in a game of tag. She was splashing and swimming, gliding underwater, and having a lovely time. It's so much fun to see the freedom that comes with the realization that going underwater is fun instead of scary.

John took a little time to warm up; it was cloudy and a little bit cool when we first arrived. After a while, he found his groove and was king of the baby slides. He also loved the ramp leading into the pool and thought it was hilarious to bonk his head into the railing repeatedly. I didn't think that was such a good idea, so we put a repeated end to that activity. Crazy monkey!

Love these kids, and love taking them to the pool!  
Hurrah for a summer of swimming. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tough Kids

It's been a busy medical year for our family. John, in particular, has had more than his share of doctor and hospital visits. We started off in early March with a small surgical procedure to probe his tear duct, which has been clogged his whole life. The doctor who performed the procedure was able to get through the membrane blocking his lower duct, but not his upper duct. Here is John in the surgery center waiting room before the procedure.

Here he is snuggling a lion/bear stuffed animal that they gave him. He was nervous, but so sweet. He allowed the anesthesiologist to carry him back to the operating room. This first procedure was quick (10 minutes), so he only had to be put to sleep using gas. 

Just a week after John's eye surgery, we were having Family Home Evening, and John was being his rambunctious self, running laps around the room. (We're still working to teach reverence to this active fellow). He tripped by the fireplace and had a most unfortunate fall that sliced the back of his ear open. Adam and I took him to the local Urgent Care, hoping to avoid the long wait that is inevitable with any trip to the ER. Three LONG hours later, John had 4 stitches in the back of his ear. He was really good for a long time, but since it was 10:30 when he finally got stitches (WAY past bedtime), those were some tough moments.

Back at home, he was happy to consume a popsicle show off his padded ear to Grandpa, who waited with the kiddos while we were attending to John. 

John's June included an Urgent Care visit to get what turned out to be a dislocated elbow popped back into place.

Come July, we were back at Reston Surgery Center for a second procedure on John's eye. The scar tissue in his tear duct had sealed the passageway shut, so we were referred to a specialist for a more involved procedure in which a tube is placed in the upper and lower duct, holding it open while the scar tissue heals around it. The official procedure name is "Right Balloon Catheter Dacryoplasty." Before placing the tube, they enlarge the duct using a balloon catheter, similar to what might be done for a blocked artery. John was happy to see the toys in the lobby, but he remembered being here before and was less than thrilled to go back to the OR. 

Since this was a longer procedure, John was first put to sleep with gas and then they placed an IV. Dr. Malone, the surgeon, discovered a false passage near the upper duct but was able to locate and clear the true passage. It took John a long time to wake up. John was looking at pictures with me yesterday while I was organizing them in iphoto, and when he saw this one he said, "Nigh-nigh...Owie." That about sums it up, Buddy. He was super snuggly when he woke up and a bit agitated. The anesthesia made him nauseous on the way home, but within a few hours he was back to his rough and tumble self. Thanks go to Grammy for watching Spencer and Emma so Adam and I could be with John. 

If you look closely, you can see the loop of tube that will remain in place for six months. John's eye has never been clearer. No more goopy eye! We are thrilled that the procedure was successful. 

Not to be left behind, Spencer had a run-in on the playground right before we were headed to Williamsburg for a family vacation. Turns out a park maze is not the best place to play tag. Two heads collided when they came in contact around a blind corner, and Spencer walked away with a split cheek and a black eye. 

He was a champ. No tears, and he never complained about the swelling that showed up the next morning, although he was protective of the injured side of his face. Spencer has had his fare share of stitches (split chin, split eyebrow, gash above the eyebrow), so we were glad that this injury was pretty minor.

While in Williamsburg, Emma took a fall that left her leg with a large scrape. No pictures to document because she becomes very sensitive about anyone looking at her injuries. One good thing has come of this; we have had a lot of opportunity to talk about how wonderful it is that the bodies Heavenly Father gave us know how to heal. I explained to her the role of white blood cells and platelets, and she has come up with a coping conversation for any time she gets hurt. We talk about the "little doctors" coming to the rescue anytime our bodies get hurt. She likes to add that they are carrying their "suitcases" with all the necessary medical supplies. It's a humorous image and has brought her from hysteria at the sight of the slightest dot of blood to laughter while talking about the "little doctors with their suitcases." Major parenting victory.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School

The school season is upon us. After several trips to local stores to find shoes, a few new clothes, and school supplies for my two elementary age kiddos, we felt prepared for a new school year to begin. To celebrate, I let the kids select the menu for a special back-to-school dinner, which we held the Saturday before school started so as to enjoy a leisurely evening on the occasion. The kids decided on crepes, though it was a tough to choose between that and macaroni salad. (We decided to have Great Gma Marie's macaroni salad for dinner earlier in the week so we didn't have to miss out.) Emma and John helped me make the crepes, which we filled with blackberry pie filling, lemon juice, lime juice, "snow" (powdered sugar), cinnamon sugar (which Em made herself), bananas, strawberries, and whipped cream. It was a feast!

Here are the kids holding the letter that announce which teachers they have this year. Both Spencer and Emma have FANTASTIC teachers, and we are really happy for them. The letters come just days before school starts, so we have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of these particular envelopes. Not to be left out, John is showing off a letter from our health insurance company. 

Here are Spencer and Emma at the open house, where they got to meet their teachers and find their desks the Friday before school began. Spencer has Mrs. S this year, and Emma has Mrs. F. Both come highly recommended by neighbors and friends. Emma particularly loves Rascal the Raccoon, who is Mrs. F's stuffed animal class pet. At the open house, she had to find where Rascal hangs his tiny backpack and search to find his computer and little wooden chair. Spencer had a scavenger hunt in his classroom too. His teacher asked if he liked to read since Spencer was turning in his summer reading log (1,000 pages was the goal, which he reached by July). He responded in the affirmative, and she said, "I know we're going to get along, then, because I LOVE to read." 

The night before school, Spencer was too excited to sleep. He showed NO nervousness. Quite impressive. Adam was remarking how different Spencer's experience and attitude are from his own at that age. To be fair, when Adam was starting second grade, he had just moved to a new country and, with it, a new school. Spencer was quick to get up the first day, which is good because his bus comes EARLY. We have a deal that he will wear a collared shirt on the first day of school and on picture day. By day two, he was wearing his new Ninjago Lego t-shirt. Fine by me. The side-parted hair is all Spencer. I think it's really cute that this is his go-to hairstyle when he wants to look nice. He told me he was going to mess it up right after pictures. He's one handsome, somewhat toothless Second Grader.

 Emma didn't have any trouble going to sleep the night before school, but come 4:00AM she was WIDE awake, too excited to go back to sleep. I've never seen a girl more ready to go to kindergarten. She finally fell back asleep at 5:00, and I tried hard not to wake her when it was time to get Spencer up, but the moment she heard me stir, she was up and dressed so she could walk Spencer to the bus. She had unbraided her hair for the desired crimped look and had her new shoes and backpack on for a morning photo session. She is one beautiful young lady.

My two elementary schoolers.

After we saw Spencer off, Emma wanted to do a little photo shoot. John was still sleeping, so we had plenty of time on our hands. I followed Emma around the house taking pictures in all her desired locations. She was eating it up. 


Emma is in afternoon kindergarten, and the morning has never felt so long. Every few minutes she would inquire if it was time to go. We took our lunch outside to have a picnic so we could pass some of the time. Afterward, John wanted to join in for a second photo session. Of course, he had to get his backpack too so he could be official. He has taken his backpack with us every time we go out to meet the bus. Pretty darling!

John really looks up to his older siblings. He does what they do. It's a good thing they are such great kids. 

One kindergartner, ready to go. One little brother, in training. 

Just cuteness. Had to be included on the blog. This was one of the many poses they came up with. Others involve trees, the mailbox, and the fire hydrant.

Our sweet neighbors from up the street came down to see Emma off to school. She is the only person on our street to have afternoon kindergarten since B (in the picture with his Aunt Vivian) was mistakenly assigned to a morning class. We were happy to pass the time with friends while waiting for the bus. Adam is taking the picture, but it's totally worth a mention that it is SO awesome to have a hubby who works from home who can step out to see the kids off to and home from their first day of school.

Here's our Lovie getting on the bus. She was all smiles, no reservation about the adventure that lay ahead of her.

That leaves John and his mama at home to pass the afternoons together. He is feeling the absence of his favorite playmates something fierce but finds consolation in lots of book time on Mama's lap. We've also been playing Legos, "wee-ooos," and choo-choos. Fortunately, this handsome little man also takes a hefty afternoon nap and by the time he awakes his school-attending pals are back, often with a friend in tow. Nothing makes this boy happier than to play with Spencer, Emma, and friends.