“Can I have purple this time, Daddy?”

Such a sweet face. We're thankful that it wasn't a break this time.

Last Thursday, Todd took Chloe to the orthopedic doctor to look at her arm.  After a clean x-ray, he thought that it was probably nursemaid’s elbow, which is a dislocation of the elbow joint.   The technical term for the injury is radial head subluxation.  Normally it can be easily and quickly resolved by a doctor who can manipulate the forearm and elbow joint and put it back into place.  From all indications, this should have been done at the ER when Chloe first went, but for whatever reason, the ER docs decided to put her in a temporary cast and defer to the orthopedic doc.  While I’m not a doctor, and I’m not medically trained (and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express!), after reading about it extensively, I learned that if the elbow remains dislocated for longer than 24 hours there is usually residual pain and sometimes damage.   This procedure is supposed to “heal the boo boo” right away and the child should report having no pain within minutes.   For Chloe, however, she howled after the doc popped her elbow and kept crying and holding the arm close to her, much like she had when she first injured it.  The doc felt terrible, Todd said, but he did fix it.   They waited for about 30 minutes or so to see if she calmed down, but when she didn’t, he recommended casting her for two weeks to immobilize the arm to allow for healing.  Hence, the purple model.  I’m continually amazed by the ability of a two-year old to adapt.  She uses the arm as best she can, but keeps it under the table at meal times (and keeps it from dragging through her food, thankfully).    This one will only be on for two weeks, so hopefully she’ll be cast free again after October 5. 

She almost has a cast of silly bands on the other arm!

Nothing is wrong with Patrick's arm, thank goodness....He just felt a bit of sympathy wrapping was in order.


90 degrees or not…pumpkin muffins sound delicious

Since it’s the first official day of Fall, but the forecast is calling for temperatures in the 90s and above for the next few days, we find ourselves faced with a conundrum of sorts. Thankfully, it isn’t one worth contemplating for too long. Usually, pumpkin doesn’t sound good to me during the warm (and hot) summer months, but somehow, with the change in temps and seasons, thoughts of the autumnal aroma of pumpkin and cinnamon swirling around our house compel me to look up and whip up those recipes we love so much: The Great Pumpkin Dessert, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and my all-time favorite, Chocolate Pumpkin Bread. With the recent buzz about a pumpkin shortage, the gourd-like squash has been on my mind more than usual. Add that to the more than a dozen cans now lining my pantry, and there aren’t many reasons left not to create something with a fall flair.

A bit of google searching led me to this recipe which yielded favorable results when I tried it this morning. My pantry–though full of pumpkin for now–is regretfully absent of chocolate chips, but I will definitely have them on hand before making these again. And I will make these again. They have a lovely light texture and perfect pumpkin flavor. The only change I made (other than no chocolate) was to use equal amounts of whole wheat flour and white flour. Because I made them for my class tonight, I used the mini muffin tins and cut the cooking time down to 9-10 minutes as well. Now our house smells of the fragrance of fall….at least until we heat up the leftover chicken enchiladas from last night’s dinner for lunch.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs

3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.
2. Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.. Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.
3. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

taken from http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-muffins/Detail.aspx

Again?! So soon?!? With four older brothers who could have a turn?!

I’ll admit it. One of the biggest struggles of the homeschooling day is trying to keep five different students focused on their own work and not on anything anyone else is doing. Usually it’s an uphill battle, and even if it’s successful, it doesn’t last long. I get it. It’s just part of the job. If my kids were in any other school, the four boys would have trouble staying on task. This Thursday morning must have been the exception that proves the rule, however. I was at the kitchen table with Patrick, going over his writing assignment. It takes us a while to get a) motivated to even tackle it, and b) into the groove of thinking like a writer, but we were there. Meanwhile, Hannah was working on her stuff and the other boys were doing their regularly scheduled math work. Andrew and Chloe, we thought, were playing in the family room while he waited for me to work on his kindergarten lessons. Todd was even here, working at home for the morning, trying to catch up on paperwork and phone calls.

All of sudden Chloe started crying. I didn’t jump right up, because she and Andrew fight fairly reliably about different things and I figured it was probably something like that, so I wanted to at least give them a chance to work it out on their own. But then she didn’t stop crying. When we all had that feeling that her cry was different and when to check it out, we found her grasping her arm and still crying hard. In fact, the next two hours were more or less filled with inconsolable crying. It was obvious that she’d hurt her arm, but none of us could find out what had happened. OF COURSE it was in the instance that we were all actually working and focused that she did something and there were no witnesses to the accident. Immediately there were countless versions of the story by wanna-be helpful children, but we couldn’t get Chloe to stop crying long enough for her to say anything coherent. Every time Todd touched her arm, she winced and howled louder. She firmly grasped on to the area of her arm just below her elbow. At first we thought that maybe she and Andrew were playing around and she fell off the couch, but then Andrew told us he had been in the bedroom getting something when she got hurt. We looked around the room and saw that there were things that she could have fallen into, but it just didn’t seem worthy of so much crying.

After hemming and hawing for an hour or more and being met with louder howls every time we tried to inspect her arm, we decided to call the doctor. I was mortified at the thought of calling her, though, and having to describe another arm injury almost exactly three months to the day after her first one. I was thankful when she was more than empathetic, and suggested the same path as before: wait for an appointment to see an ortho, or go to the ER. This time, Todd planned to take her, which would prove to be very helpful later on. It was torture trying to get her to change her clothes and pull a shirt over her head, but we managed. I have to admit I was incredibly nervous having them go to the ER when we couldn’t definitively say what had happened to her and wondered if the questions and raised eyebrows would invariably come.

It seemed that things moved along quite quickly at first for Todd and Chloe and before 2pm they had gotten through the whole intro process through getting an x-ray since both the ER doc and someone else thougth it was a probable fracture. Todd could elaborate better than me, but he said the x-ray procedure was not pleasant for anyone involved. Before we even decided to take her to have it looked at, any time we wanted to touch it, she would yell “Don’t twist it! Don’t twist it!” So when the radiologist had to extend her arm to get a good shot of the bones, she reacted in a similar fashion. Somehow, though, they got the x-ray. I’m sure they’ve seen worse!

Then the waiting started. It was almost an hour later when someone came back to tell him that it wasn’t an obvious break, but the ER doc wanted the radiologist to give a second opinion. The radiologist concurred that although there wasn’t strong evidence of a break, something was going on, and they started to suspect that her elbow was dislocated. The plan then became one of medicating her and popping it back in. More waiting ensued, followed by some medication, which then led to more waiting. By 5:30 they had decided not to attempt the manipulation process, but planned to just put her in a splint and have an orthopedic pediatrician see her for definite diagnosis about a week later. Todd and Chloe finally arrived home at 6:45pm that evening, complete with temporary cast from fingertips to above her elbow and a little sling to go with it. Her brothers and sister absolutely doted on her for the rest of the evening, attempting to make her comfortable before she collapsed into bed.

The next day she told us (sort of) that she had fallen backwards on her twisted arm. That’s the closest thing to a story of what really happened that any of us have heard, so we still don’t know what happened. It makes my stomach churn to think that anyone even entertained thoughts that we had hurt our baby, but both Todd and I wondered if maybe the long period of waiting that he had in the ER wasn’t them considering if they would look into it. Ugh, I don’t even want to let myself think about that. Our pediatrician also briefly mentioned earlier in the day the possibilty of Chloe having a bone development disorder worth investigating if it should prove to be a break. We are covering our little redhead with prayer that if there is a problem, we find out what it is, and if there is or isn’t, that she heals perfectly and her arm is completely restored.

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Where were you?

In some ways, remembering September 12 is more difficult for me than September 11, and that’s really saying something. Waking up on Wednesday morning and for just an instant, feeling like the world was OK, only to have the sinking realization that the world had been turned on its head and there was not a thing that was right. I will never forget waking up that morning. It reminded me of the feeling I have after watching movies in which tremendously awful events occur, making me wonder how those characters could possibly get up the next morning and go on with their lives–what little left of their lives they had, that is. The same thought occurred to me about me, about us, and especially about the countless lives directly affected by the terrorist attacks of the day before. How can they bear to face the next day? How can they possibly go on? Continue to breathe? It boggles the mind.

In the nine years that have passed, my memory had become slowly numbed to the horrors of September 11, 2001, but yesterday morning, I spent some time watching the news clips, as the events unfolded, and listened to recordings from 911 tapes of people calling from inside the burning buildings. It didn’t take long to be back in 2001 and feel the same disbelief, horror, anger, and grief that we had that first day. I can’t imagine how we could forget what we were doing that morning, or when we first heard about the events, and how we spent the rest of the day after seeing the images on any TV we walked by.

I remember that day so clearly. We were living in the duplex at the time, and had three children 3 and under. Brendan was only almost three months old, Patrick was 2, and Hannah was set to turn 4 the next month. While Todd and I got ready that morning we watched TV, and I was struck by the banality of the news of the morning. It didn’t come back to me until later, but as we watched a report about shark attacks and an update on Chandra Levy’s disappearance, I commented to Todd on what a slow news day it was. WOW. It was a gorgeous day, and I needed to go grocery shopping. After Todd left to go to work and the kids had eaten breakfast, I had this creative idea to make our shopping list using cut out pictures from the Meijer’s ad so that Hannah and Patrick could “read” the list and help me shop. We were cutting out and gluing food pictures on paper when Todd called me and told me I needed to turn on the news. He had heard from his friend Kenny that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I turned it on to see the black smoke and fire raging and was witness to the second plane crash. Stunned isn’t even a word that would fit for me here–I was in denial. Like having the wool pulled over my eyes, the severity didn’t compute for me until the newscaster said “upwards of 50,000 people work in these buildings every day.”

The kids kept working on their project, but it felt like the earth had stopped moving. What was going on? With each passing moment, it got worse. First the one tower. Then the second plane. Then the Pentagon. A collapse?!? How many people did I just see lose their lives right in front of me? The rescuers dying as they rushed UP to get people? The people trapped on the floors above where the planes impacted? Not real. A bad movie. This doesn’t happen.

Anyone who watched it knows how the rest of the day unfolded. The plane in Pennsylvania, the footage of ash and utter devastation. It was like watching a movie, and yet, it was happening in OUR country.

I remember wondering what was really going to happen–not just that day or the next, but in the coming weeks and months. What would change? I worried and prayed for our children and their future. And I couldn’t stop thinking about the families that had been ripped apart, the men and women who weren’t coming home to their families, and those who for whatever reason weren’t where they were supposed to be that morning and somehow weren’t involved. We would see amazing stories of survival, endurance, perserverance, faith, and true heroism. We stood closer to our fellow neighbor for a while after September 11.

And now, 9 years later, have we forgotten? I pray that we haven’t. I know all it takes is for me to watch the video of the second plane hitting again, and it all comes flooding back. I wonder if you, too, can remember exactly what you were doing that morning…

The latest adventure

There has been so much happening in our house over the past few weeks that I can’t seem to sit down to blog about it–I’ve got to be in the middle of it and live through it! My Dad seems to be doing great. He is home (and has been since two days after his “episode”), and the tests so far have all come back with no sign that anything really happened. What great news! Could it be that the army of prayer warriors we set in motion right after we heard about him affected change? Could it be that something had happened, but he was healed? I don’t doubt it. He still has a 24 hour test to do after Labor Day, so I’m sure that one will show additional information. I’m glad he seems to be his usual self. Since tomorrow’s his 72nd birthday, we’re all blessed that he remains so active. Besides selfishly wanting my parents around forever, I’m so thankful that our kids get to have these years with them.

So…that’s the squishy part. We started back to school, which has been tough academically. I like that. The kids are responding to their workloads almost entirely predictably, with the exception that they’re doing the work, and doing it well, with little or no complaining. It’s nothing short of a miracle that Patrick is writing paragraphs with NO back chatting and cheerfully working to edit them with me. Hannah, aside from the math assignments, is liking all of her subjects as we wade through this new body of work. With our CC curriculum, the younger boys seem to be “on top” of the memory work better this year than last. We’re getting the timeline cards better than last year (albeit just two short weeks into it out of 20 weeks). Sure, we had stinky days at the beginning where one child who shall remain nameless thought he’d rather lose a limb than sit down and do his work, but I’ll take the good with the bad. If I could say I do all of my work without complaining then I might have a leg to stand on, but since I cannot, we all have some progress to make. OK, we have a lot of progress to make. I’m in it for the long haul, though, so I’m willing to work on what needs to be done.

The current “situation” going on now involves Ben, who stepped on a nail while helping with the set deconstruction after the musical. True, he didn’t wear sensible shoes, but then again, who does in the summer? I take responsibility for him not slipping on his steel toed beauties before going over to “sink the ship.” We watched his wound for a while, and didn’t see signs of infection. It wasn’t totally going away either, though. Since Ben is the kind of kid that seems to have no nerves and hardly ever complains about physical pain, when he didn’t mention it, we kind of forgot about it.

Fast forward to yesterday when I noticed him favoring his right foot when stepping on it, and after checking it out, I took him to the doc. She was a little concerned about infection (although he still didn’t have obvious signs of it), and was a bit more concerned that there was a fragment of nail still in his heel. (Hadn’t thought about that…I was too focused on tetanus and all the nasty stuff that goes along with that). So after I had just assured Ben that he wouldn’t need any shots, the doc tells me that the old doc’s clinic can’t seem to find Ben’s records (WHAT?!? is that even POSSIBLE!?!?), we have no guarantee (and my word isn’t good enough at this point) that he is, in fact, caught up, so she suggests a tetanus shot. Oh goody.

He was incredibly brave.

Now we’re supposed to wait and watch until the beginning of next week to see if his heel looks better than it did yesterday, along with some soaks in Epsom salt baths. If there is no change, she will investigate further to see if part of the nail was left behind. Fun times abound around here.

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