Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Question of the Week - Car Games

The weekend before the sickness struck down my house like the plague, the Pumpkin and I had a special weekend together with my parents.

My parents just bought a house at the beach about 2.5 hours away. That weekend was my first chance to see it since they got it in November. January in Maryland is too cold to go to the actual beach, but I wanted to see the house and spend a weekend with my girl. So the Pumpkin and I took a little road trip!

We had a great weekend together and with my parents. The house is beautiful and very comfortable. It's a 5-10 minute drive from the beach. There are three guest rooms, each with two twin beds, plus a pull-out couch in the living room. They are making it kid friendly, with a big room they are calling The Rumpus Room.

Best of all? They have agreed that it will be a peanut-free house! As soon as I brought up the issue with my mom, she quickly assured me that it would have to be a peanut-free house so that we could relax there and bring the Pumpkin without worrying constantly for her safety. What a relief!

I am planning many many MANY trips out there this spring and summer! I'm planning to go as a family, bring one or both kids myself, go by myself, and spend a lot of time with my parents, sister's family and brother's family. Plus whichever friends of our families can go. I think the only person more excited about the beach house is my parents!

But this means a lot of 2.5-3.5 hour car trips coming up. That's not too long, but just long enough to start needing some entertaining car games. My favorite car game from growing up, which I still play with Londo or even by myself, is The Alphabet Game. That's when you look out the window of the car and get each letter from A to Z. The first one to find them all wins.

The Question of the Week is:

What car games do you and your kids like to play?

My daughter is too young for the alphabet game, so I started making up some others on our way back from the beach. We looked for colors outside, calling out where we see the color (green sign!), and we looked for shapes. We also guessed the animal by the animal noise we made.

But my favorite to play with her, and I'm pretty sure he favorite also, was Name That Song! I would whistle a song, and she would call out what it was. Then she would hum one, and I would call out the name. It turns out that my girl is REALLY good at guessing the songs! We've been playing this on other car rides since then, or at other times during the day.

What about you and your family? What did you play in the car growing up? What do you play with your kids on car trips now? What games are you waiting on until they are old enough to play with you? Or do you just sing along with the radio?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sickness and Sweetness

The flu knocked me flat on my butt last week. I haven't been that sick in a long, long time. Three or four days are a feverish blur of trying to care for the kids and sleeping. Another three days of still being really sick. And now I've developed bronchitis. Good times.

Over the last week plus, each member of my family has been sick to some degree. We also spent the week and both weekends watching a six-month-old puppy for a friend and added my parent's dog for the last weekend.

In other words, things have been C-R-A-Z-Y at my house!

But amongst all the sickness, there has been some moments of overwhelming sweetness. I'm going to try to capture it all.


It all started with a phone call from the kids' school on Friday afternoon saying the Pookie had thrown up and needed to be picked up.

Though he seemed a little better on Saturday morning (no more throwing up), he went down early for his nap and after four hours, we started to worry. I went in to check on him, and he was burning up and his nose was running like a leaky faucet. Poor guy looked miserable! Not only that, but when I changed his diaper, his bottom was bleeding. I got really worried, and then I noticed one of his fingers was really inflamed and swollen, with a pus-filed, crusty scab on the side of his nail. Definitely time to call the doctor on call.

In addition to those things, the doctor heard my boy's wheezy breath while I was on the phone with her. It didn't take long for her to say I needed to take him to the emergency room to get his breathing and finger checked, though she wasn't worried about his bottom.

That was the first trip to the emergency room with one of our kids. Londo stayed home with the Pumpkin, while I hurried the Pookie to the ER 5 minutes down the road. There was a pediatrics wing of the ER, and we were brought almost straight back.

My boy was a real trooper! Though feverish and miserable, he didn't fuss or cry while getting checked on. Not even when they poked a needle in his infected finger to drain the pus! Not even the first time they put him in some contraption to hold him still for a chest x-ray. We actually had to redo the x-ray, and that second time he did start wailing because I took his cracker away while he was in it. (To be honest, we all kind of wanted him to cry because it gets a better x-ray when they fill up their lungs for a big cry, and we didn't want to have to redo the x-ray another time.)

Luckily, his lungs were fine (and his little ribs in the x-ray were so cute!). But he did have the beginnings of an ear infection, a severe diaper rash, and an infection on his finger called a paronychia. After another dose of medication for his fever finally brought his temperature down, a dose and prescription for antibiotics and a prescription for antifungal cream for his bottom, we were discharged. At home, I got him a quick, late dinner, and put him straight to bed.

Sunday, he was still not feeling too well, but by Monday he was fine. His school was closed for MLK Day, but he was doing much much better. Tuesday, school was closed due to the snow and ice, but he was back at school Wednesday. He had a follow-up appointment with his pediatrician Thursday, and she said everything looked really good by then!

I'm sure I don't have to say how worried I was, taking him to the ER and all those things wrong with him. It broke my heart! I held him and cuddled him the whole time at the hospital (except during the x-ray). And I'm sure I don't have to say how relieved Londo and I were when he bounced back so quickly!

Because Londo picked up the Pookie early from school on Friday, I picked up the Pumpkin at her normal time. She has just gotten used to the Pookie being at her school and the new drop off and pick up routines (he started the first week of January). And that day was the first time he wasn't part of the normal pick up.

When I explained to her that the Pookie had thrown up and was home with Daddy because he was sick, she got really upset. She started tearing up, and said, "I'm very worried about him! I'm crying because my brother is sick! I need to go home and check on him!" I carried her to the car, assuring her we would check on him as soon as we got home.

As I was grabbing a couple diapers and a cup of water to take with us to the hospital, I asked Londo if I should bring anything else? Was there any comfort item that he might want with him? And Londo responded, "Just you. You are his comfort item." And it's true.

I was the next one to get sick. Sunday morning, I started to feel run down. By afternoon, I was feverish, with body chills, shaking, delirious, foggy, unable to stay awake or think clearly. There was also a runny nose, coughing, post-nasal drip and my body ached like I'd been hit by a truck. I was a mess.

I spent the next few days in and out of that foggy haze of a fever, most of the time sleeping under piles and piles of blankets. I barely ate, barely spent any time with the kids or dogs, no time with Londo, didn't get to all the cleaning I had to do, and certainly didn't work more than an hour or two here or there. For the whole week, I was out from work, and watching the kids and dogs fell to Londo for the majority of the time.

Finally, my fever broke on Wednesday morning. I even took the Pookie to school, though I think that caused a bit of a relapse. I got myself to the doctor on Thursday afternoon, and he said it sounded like I'd had the flu and post-nasal drip. And he said that I now had bronchitis. Which apparently doesn't go away in a day or two.

So I'm still coughing and a bit congested. I'm taking cough suppressants and cough drops. I'm back at work and crazy busy, but trying to at least be still as much as possible. It's when I move much that the hacking starts up again.

Sunday afternoon, while the Pookie napped, Londo brought the Pumpkin into our room. She got up on the bed with me, and we put on a show for her to watch. Londo said, "I need to go to the grocery store. You take care of Mommy while she naps, because she's sick and needs you to take care of her."

And she did. She rubbed my back, made sure I was covered and cuddled next to me while I dozed in and out of consciousness. She was very proud of being able to take care of me while I was sick.

Next, the flu struck the Pumpkin. She started getting a little sick over the weekend, but by Monday she was getting bad. She had the same symptoms I had, and her fever got pretty bad by Wednesday or so. She stayed home the rest of the week, with Londo and me taking turns watching her.

I had the Pookie's follow-up appointment on Thursday morning, and I called Wednesday afternoon saying I wanted to bring in the Pumpkin, too. Though the Pookie was looking good, the Pumpkin was not. The pediatrician was worried about her breathing, so she gave my girl a breathing treatment right there and then listened to her chest again afterwards. The concern was that what the pediatrician was hearing was pneumonia, so it was important that she do the treatment and let the doctor listen again. Luckily, the breathing treatment cleared her right up and the doctor was able to be sure it wasn't pneumonia.

The Pumpkin did not like having to do the breathing treatment, but she is fortunately at an age where she can be reasoned with and still be distracted. We got through those long minutes by my making up a story for her about a flying horse and a dragon and a princess, one of the Princess Pumpkin stories I make up for her.

The good news (besides clear lungs for her) was that her throat looked fine AND HER EARS LOOKED FINE!!! I am sure that she would have had an ear infection from this congestion if she hadn't had the adenoid removal surgery. She got ear infections every other time she had congestion even half this bad!

The bad news was that her fever persisted. Londo called me a little while ago and said he thinks it finally broke, and I sure hope so. She's been miserable--lethargic during the day, coughing all night, fussy and clingy. She's fallen asleep almost every day of the last week, my girl who doesn't nap! She's been going to bed in our room before dinner, barely eating anything.

The doctor said the fever might last another 5-10 days from the appointment last Thursday. So even though we've been worried, we've also not been freaking out. Plus, she really does exactly the symptoms I had, just for longer. Which doesn't surprise me. My girl does everything to the extreme!

When the nurse first put the breathing mask on the Pumpkin's face, she was crying a bit and saying she didn't want to do it. She tried to pull it off, but the nurse and then I held it on until she could adjust to it and be distracted by my story.

Well, the Pookie watched all this, and he got really upset. He climbed up to his sister in her chair and tried to rip the mask off her face for her, kind of hollering while he grabbed at it. If he had a full vocabularly, I'm sure he would have sound like, "Get that off my sister! She doesn't like it! Don't do that to her!"

Though I had to keep him from pulling it off of her, keep holding it on her, distract her with a story and try to keep him occupied by something else, my heart melted at his protectiveness over his sister and what was upsetting her. Once she calmed down and even held the mask herself, he calmed down about it too.

And this whole time, Londo has been struggling with sickness as well. He hasn't had it as bad as the Pumpkin or me, but he has been pretty sick and very run down. But that hasn't stopped him from taking care of me, the kids, the dogs, work, the house and goodness knows what else! I so badly want to be better and have enough energy to tell him to take a few days for just himself, doing whatever he wants. I'm just not sure I'll be able to for a while.

Londo had been planning a game night with some friends he works with. He had been looking forward to it for weeks. He cleaned up the basement so it's usable again (instead of a storage overflow in the living area of the basement). He scheduled a babysitter for the evening. He invited his friends. He planned out the games and the food and drinks. He said looking forward to that night was the only thing keeping him going through some of the times lately.

The game night was to be last Saturday, and we had some concerns that it would happen, what with all the sickness and dogs in the house. I'm happy to say that we pulled it off! Although the Pumpkin was still sick, I was almost myself by Saturday afternoon. I was even able to help cleaning and setting up! I also put the Pookie to bed while the babysitter put the Pumpkin to bed. And I even stayed up until 11:30 playing games, even though I was still feeling so run down and exhausted.

We had a lot of fun, and Londo felt so much better having a real night of fun with adult friends. It makes us realize that we will be able to do more and more entertaining and spending time with adults as the kids continue to get older.

And sometimes, the sweetest thing of all is feeling like you not only get through the tough times but also enjoy those times as well.

The Beginnings of a Ski Buddy

After lunch, my daughter and I went back up the "magic carpets" to the top of the bunny slopes. She wanted to keep skiing! With me...