Friday, April 29, 2011

The Un-Fun Stuff, Part Two

(I have to preface this by saying that I normally wouldn't post such personal details about the boys' lives online...but over the past few weeks I've been thinking about this issue and realized that perhaps other kids and parents are dealing with similar issues. Maybe this story will help other parents know to watch out for this sort of thing)

This post is a continuation of THIS POST.

After the boys finished with school and headed off to their after-school program, I got a phone call that Jellybean wasn't feeling well...So I headed off to pick him up and go home. He said his tummy hurt and I didn't think too much about it. Then Z asked him if he had eaten anything weird that day. Jellybean was quiet. So, I repeated the question and asked if he had eaten anything weird outside while he was at recess. Now...this is not a question we usually ask. In fact, it isn't something that even occurred to me to ask. But, that afternoon we learned that Jellybean had been eating sand while he was outside on the playground at school.

This discovery totally threw me for a loop. I wasn't expecting it. I had NEVER seen him do it (I still haven't). It had never occurred to me that I should tell the boys not to eat sand. So I asked him some additional questions about it. Why does he eat sand? When does he eat sand? What is it about sand that he likes to eat? Does he do this often? It turns out he likes the taste of sand...and he eats it when he's hungry at school and doesn't have anything else to eat.


Why is it he doesn't know he can just ask a grown-up for food when he's hungry? It made me feel like the worst mom in the world that my kid was so hungry he felt like he needed to eat sand to feel better. So we had a talk about it. We explained that sand is not food. It isn't healthy to eat it. It can make you sick. And if he is hungry, he just has to ask a grown-up for food. I explained I would take him shopping to find food that he wants to eat to put in his lunchbox to make his lunch bigger. And I would let him pick out snacks to take to school to give to his teacher so that whenever he is hungry he just has to tell her and she will let him have some of his snacks. I also made sure to let him know that I would talk with his after-school program teachers to let them know that all he has to do is ask for a snack and they will get him one.

Now, I know in my head that this is not "my fault". And I know that it is likely just as much of a psychological issue for him as it is a physical one. He says he's "always" eaten sand "sometimes". I know that it is possible that it is something he did while he was in Ghana truly suffering from malnutrition. Perhaps eating sand then provided him with some when he feels hungry now, his first impulse is to eat some sand to satiate the hunger a bit and get some comfort. Of course, I don't know that for sure. And it doesn't make me feel all that much better to think that.

But now the issue is out in the open with us (and his teachers at school), so everyone is watching for it...and he now knows he has lots of grown-ups to talk to if he feels hungry. And he knows all of them will help him find a snack to eat to make him feel better. I hope this issue is an issue of the past now...but we'll have to wait and see.

Anyway, the tummy-ache now made total sense...and I started to worry that we had to deal with a more troublesome medical issue like a blockage of some sort. So, I made some phone calls and came to the conclusion that we needed to help him get things "moving". A trip to the pharmacy to get some milk of magnesia, prunes, and applesauce should do the trick. And it did.

We thought we were in the clear and we sent Jellybean to bed for the night. But by then I was exhausted emotionally. The whole evening had just thrown me and I was trying to sort some things out. I felt awful about the whole situation. How could a kid be so hungry that he feels he needs to eat sand? We have SO MUCH FOOD at our house (seriously), how could he think that he didn't have access to food to eat? Whenever he's home and he says he's hungry, we get him something to eat. How could this be happening? How could I not have known about it?

Ugh and Ugh.

But...that also wasn't the end of our night. Two hours after he went up to bed, I heard him get up and call for me. So, I went to check on him to find him sobbing and clutching his chest. He said his chest hurt...and then started crying harder. I brought him downstairs to check him out a little better (and so he didn't wake Peanut). I couldn't find anything obvious that could be causing the pain. But I also didn't know if it was related to the earlier issue or something else. The fact that it was his chest made me really worry. And the fact that he seemed to be having trouble breathing worried me even more.

Earlier in the evening, our dryer broke (it was a REALLY bad night), so Z had to run to the laundromat with a wet load of laundry to get it dry. I knew that he was going to be getting home any minute, but waiting for him was tough. I couldn't leave Peanut alone to run Jellybean to the I just started getting Jellybean's coat and shoes on so that as soon as Z got home we could leave. Just as I was zipping his coat, Z walked in and I explained what was going on. He handed me the laundry and I handed him Jellybean and off they went.

That night, Jellybean was admitted to the hospital for the first time. The diagnosis was sickle cell pain crisis. It was just in a new location for him...and a scary one. And the pain was more intense than anything he had dealt with before. But, after a night with IV fluids and pain meds he was back to his normal self. It was a scary night...but it all ended ok. And (as bad as this sounds), the timing worked out pretty great. Since we had just found out about the sand-eating and we didn't know if the pain could in some way be related to that, we made sure the doctors knew about it and could talk with him about it while he was in the ER. Hopefully getting an earful about it from the doctor will make him think twice about eating it again!

I have some ideas about what triggered this pain crisis. In my gut, I am sure it is related to the lack of sleep from the sleep study the night before. And I am sure it is also possible it had something to do with the anxiety he had about the sleep study and about revealing his "secret" to us. Its hard to know for sure, of course.

That was the first hospitalization. We've since had another one...but that story can wait for the next post.

The Un-Fun Stuff, Part One

Over the past couple of months, we've had some un-fun stuff to deal with. Don't get me wrong, we've had some really fun things going on, too...but for at least the past couple of months the un-fun stuff is what is sticking with me.

After Jellybean and Peanut came home, we learned that Jellybean had sickle cell disease. It wouldn't have mattered to us had we learned about it before the boys came home, but it came as a bit of a surprise to learn it after they had arrived home. But, for the past 3 years Jellybean's sickle cell took a backseat in our lives. Jellybean had VERY few pain episodes and they were all relatively easy to treat (just over-the-counter pain meds and lots of water and he was good to go in a day or two).

All that changed at the beginning of March.

Because of some sort-of related issues with Jellybean, we decided (with his doctors) that it was necessary for him to have a sleep study done to help us determine whether or not Jellybean needs to have surgery to get his tonsils and adenoids taken out. After lots of run-around with the sleep center, we finally got an appointment made. They wanted him to come in about an hour before his regular bedtime so that he could get used to the place and get all hooked up before his bedtime. They said it took about 40 minutes to get him all hooked up.

When we arrived the sleep technician was all excited to tell us she had already turned on The Disney Channel in our room so Jellybean could watch TV while he got hooked up. Now, I don't mind him watching some TV...but I also know that if there is a TV on in any room, Jellybean gets completely transfixed by it and absorbed in it. Once he gets into something, it is hard for him to sleep. But, I decided to let the TV stay on to keep him distracted from all the wires the tech was putting on him.

The TV was not our problem, however.

The problem was that the tech would hook up an electrode or two and then leave. A few minutes later she'd be back to hook up an electrode or two and then leave again. The 40-minute prep time for the sleep study turned in to a two and a half hour prep time. We didn't turn off the lights in our room until nearly 10pm!! If I had known it was going to take so long, I would have insisted we arrive earlier! I had to stay with Jellybean during the sleep study, but I had to sleep on the recliner in the room...not exactly comfortable sleeping arrangements for me. But, I can deal. The next problem was that the tech kept coming into the room, waking me (and Jellybean) up for random things. Then, she came in around 4:00am to ask me if I wanted her to wake us up at 5:00am. What?!?! Why on earth would I want her to wake us up at 5:00am? Jellybean requires LOTS of sleep...he had already lost nearly 2 hours of sleep because he got to bed late...I definitely did not want him to lose even more by getting up so early the next morning. So, I told her to wait until 6:30 to wake us up.

We finished the sleep study and headed off on our merry way the next morning. Of course, I was pretty unhappy with the tech and how the study was conducted, but it was over and there wasn't anything I could do about it (except complain to the doctor when we saw her to talk about results - which I definitely did).

But, that night we had an entirely new issue to deal with. Part 2 coming up next....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Eagle Cam

Have you all been watching this? We LOVE the Eagle Cam at our is so much fun to watch the eagles taking care of their young. The boys' classrooms are watching the eagle cam and making journal entries as well.

I've been keeping the eagle cam on live streaming when we are at home and we just watch for a bit when we happen to be walking by the computer or sitting down for a bit nearby.


Live TV : Ustream

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I've been more than a bit absent from the blog life these past few months. It isn't because we haven't had interesting things happen, or because anything is wrong...we've just been busy and updating the blog has pretty much fallen to the way-side.

The biggest event of the past few months was that Z was away from home for military officer's training for 4 months (August through November). This meant that it was just me and the boys managing things at home. We managed just fine, but life was admittedly busier than normal (and we were all a little more emotional and stressed than normal, too). During those 4 months that Z was away, our town flooded (and we had some water in the basement - though nothing compared to some), I had to deal with plumbing issues two weekends in a row (not flooding related), I got to know the elementary school counselor (the boys had their moments of tough transition to Z's absence - though things were certainly not THAT bad), and Z spent 3 days in the burn unit of a hospital in Virginia because he managed to burn himself in a kitchen grease fire (boy are we blessed that it wasn't worse than it was!!). He's fine, though a little more leery in the kitchen.

We are all very relieved and very happy to have Z back home safe and sound. This holiday season was extra special to all of us after his absence. Even though we were stuck at home because of the weather up north, it was great to have the four of us all together for several days where no one had to go to work or school.

For some reason, I decided this would be a good year to do "Handmade Holidays" and try to give mostly hand-made gifts. I made a quilt for both Peanut and Jellybean...and I made several other crafty (and quilty) gifts for other people on our holiday list (though I can't give specifics since most gifts haven't reached the recipient yet - darn the weather). The decision to give handmade gifts meant that I was extra busy in the weeks leading up to Christmas. In fact, I was sewing the binding on the boy's quilts on Christmas Eve morning. Talk about cutting it close! Thankfully the boys both love their quilts (Peanut's is castle themed, and Jellybean's was made with all Ghanaian fabrics). They've been dragging them downstairs daily to snuggle under.

Our Christmas was a quiet one. We spent the Christmas weekend at home with plans to head up to MN for New Year's Eve. Unfortunately, the weather in MN got a little too treacherous, so we ended up staying at home this weekend, too. We are still having fun, though. There's been lots of game-playing, movie watching, and good food eating going on around here. We miss seeing our families, though...and hope that we can plan something soon!

Here's a few photos from our Christmas!
One of our family traditions for Christmas is that we all get to open one present on Christmas Eve - a new pair of pajama's. These are Z's new jammies...
Jellybean's new Ghanaian fabric quilt.
Peanut's new castle-themed quilt. You can't see the fabric very closely, but it is called "Castle Peeps" and it is really cute.
A rousing game of Jenga on Christmas day...we couldn't believe it hadn't fallen over yet!

Baloo wanted to snuggle with the boys' new quilts, too.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Random Photos

Here are a couple random photos from this week. Jellybean finally finished the Lego creation he's been working on. Z and I got him this for his birthday and he is VERY proud that he did it ALL.BY.HIMSELF. Of course, it got broken seconds after I took this picture, but he did really well and put it back together (instead of getting really upset about it). I think he's had to "fix" it several times already just today.

This next one is of a quilt I'm working on for Jellybean's Christmas present. I think I figured that I have 7 quilts to make in the next couple of months for the holidays (and for new babies), so I'm steadily trying to work through them all. This one will be Jellybean's new quilt. It's cool, right? It is all Ghanaian fabric (and I'm happy to report that I still have a pretty substantial stash, even after cutting these big blocks). I am still trying to decide whether or not to add a couple of borders, or leave it as it is. I'm kind of liking the big blocks as it is, but we'll see. Hopefully he likes it, too. (you can click the photo to make it bigger and see it a little better)

And this last one is of the resident "big fat toad" that lives in the herb garden right outside our back door. He comes out onto the patio after warm rains and eats his fill of bugs and worms. But, I think for the most part he just hangs out in my herb garden. The dogs are always confused by him...they sniff him...lick him...and then keep on walking. Silly thing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Let's go sailing...

I am a little late in posting this, but the day was so much fun it would be a shame not to post them. A couple of weeks ago, my boss and her husband invited the boys and I to go sailing with them on their sailboat for a day. Of course, I can't say no to a fun new activity like that so off we went to go sailing!

Here are a few pictures of our day. The boys had a ton of fun exploring the sailboat, being the captain, playing pirates, and practically giving their mom a panic attack due to their general craziness and willingness to go way too close to the edge of the boat without holding on to something...

Apparently sailing is tiring...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

And the School Year Begins

The school year began here on Wednesday. I was a little worried about how the first day would go, considering neither one of the boys seemed to be all that excited about going back. They weren't not excited either...they just didn't seem overly enthused one way or the other.

Thankfully that changed Monday evening when we had "Back to School" night at the school. The boys delivered their school supplies, met their new classmates, and spent some time saying hello to their teachers. After Monday evening, they were ready (and excited) about going back to school.

Jellybean has the same teacher he had last year (we have the boys enrolled in the "Multi-age" program here, so they have the same teacher two years in a row). Peanut has a new teacher this year (Multi-age starts after Kindergarten, so he'll have his current teacher for 2 years now). Thankfully, I think she's going to be a great fit for him. A HUGE improvement from last year (the parental units in this family kind of butted heads with the Kinder teacher last year).

Here are my super handsome boys on the first day of school.

Don't they just look all grown up? Sniff...

The boys seem to have had a great first three days of school. They like their teachers a lot, they are doing well, and they have come home with lots of fun stories to tell. Jellybean has been coming home excited to tell me he did his math and writing all right!! And Peanut reports that he has been doing a good job keeping on task. Considering the fact that last year we had a note sent home from the teacher on the first day of school for bad behavior, I'm calling this year's start to the school year a success!