Saturday, November 29, 2008

Quick little Echo

Wren had a fever 3 days ago and still had one last night. It was never high - at most 100.6 - and he said he had a sore tummy so I expected it to be a virus. Anyway, since he was still getting this fever Jenny called us in to Cardiology Clinic. Wren had a quick echo (was very good) and Dr Olson examined his scar.

The news was good. His incision is healing nicely and his echo showed the pericardial effusion had gone. There was no fluid around his heart or lungs. Yay!

He is now napping.

My only complaint is that he is waking at an unholy hour. For the last 4 mornings wakeup has been at 4.15am, 5.08am, 5.00am and 4.20am this morning. I am totally wasted and using all his naptime sleeping.

Mum has been waking with us and is wandering around with bags under her eyes and falling asleep whenever we go out in the car. A couple of days ago she fell asleep playing with Wren on the couch.

I don't know why he is waking completely so early but I wish he would not.

He still shows signs of anxiety. He fears being undressed, is very cranky about getting his way (probably because he has had so many people waiting on him hand and foot during surgery and recovery) and has not been left to fuss or cry at night (again, due to cardiac concerns and empathy post-surgery). At times, I call him a tyrant and plot his overthrow into the realm of healthy baby. He does not like me to be distracted and tells me what to do "NOW!"

Broken Peni
Wren calls his penis a "pe-nee." During diaper change he told me that "Wren has pe-nee" and "Frost has pee-nee" and "Daddy has pee-nee" and "Granny has pee-nee" but "Mummy has no pee-nee."

When I asked him why Mummy has no pee-nee he said "Mummy broke pee-nee." So I am Shannon of the broken-penis.

Frost and the Big Word
At breakfast, Mum asked after Laine and Nate - our old preschool friends who moved from Wedgwood to Norway. I mentioned that they had visited over summer and Nate's Dad had had a heart attack in the gym but was very lucky because "they had one of those machines that goes zap zap" [I was miming because in the fog of sleep deprivation I can't remember big words].

"A defibrillator?" asked Frost.
I snorted in my food.
"Yes," I said. "How do you know that word?"
"I saw one on the Simpson's" said Frost, "and also at Camp Orkila. They had a picture of a broken heart and underneath there was the machine and it said DE-FIB-RILL-A-TOR."
"Oh" I said, still laughing.
Frost smiled, pleased at the effect of his big word. "On the Simpsons they have electrocuting irons," he added.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving, Wren & his games, National Day of Listening by Granny

Seattle is a the city famous for its coffee. There are hundreds of coffee shops - mostly with WiFi and delicious pastries. Many boast special soups to warm you during this long cold winter.

The Early Hours
When Wren wakes its not later than 6am and thoroughly dark. His bedroom is above mine and I hear his every word as he wakes up and calls tragically. So Shannon and I are up and entertaining him while the rest of the house sleeps. Four favourite games come to mind and we play them all each day. First is ANIMALS - he has a box of wonderfully realistic plastic animals and many larger stuffed ones. Arranging these into farms, zoos and lines is compulsively entertaining for him. Then we have the DIGGERS. Wren is very ordered, he loves to clean up before the next game. Diggers are lined up, discussed: "back hoe, digger, concrete mixer, garbage truck, tip-up truck...." Next it might be LEGO (duplo) and the current game there is to make a garage for the Lego cars that park, emerge and re-park regularly to running commentary. Lastly, we have the TRAINS: the making of the track is the event rather than watching the trains move around. So by 9am, we have done all this and Shannon and I are longing for a strong coffee.

Day of Listening
Wren is a very happy, good natured child with a bright smile. Like Frost he loves language and listens intently, repeating anything we say, using words in the charming way that 2 year olds have.

This reminds me that the day after Thanksgiving, Friday 28th, is a new holiday in the USA:

StoryCorps is declaring November 28, 2008 the first annual National Day of Listening.

This holiday season, ask the people around you about their lives — it could be your grandmother, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood. By listening to their stories, you will be telling them that they matter and they won’t ever be forgotten. It may be the most meaningful time you spend this year. To get started, download our free Do-It-Yourself Guide.

This has made me remember my father, Mervyn Smithyman, Wren's great grandfather, who died this past July at the age of 97. For many years I recorded the story of his life - in his words. It has been such a worth while thing to do for all of his family. Frost has become interested in family stories, he loves to hear about "when Shannon was a kid" and about our life in Africa.

Tea Parties

Wren's latest entertainment is to have a "tea party". He has taken to having a very weak milky tea with a little sugar and a cookie at the table with us. It is even better in his estimation if I then read to him his favourite book, Dr. Seuss's "Foot Book". Within the book, his favourite page is the one with the little creature in bed with sore feet, wrapped in white tape, looking miserable. This interests Wren greatly.

His comments are:

"in bed, hospital, sad, .......owie, .....getting better, OK?" often with a sweet kiss to the creature....

Tommorrow is thanksgiving and Wren has woken with a low fever, so the plans are all in the air. His health takes precedence and we may have a stay-at-home event. Whatever happens, we have much to be thankful for.....

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dialogues with Wren and Frost

The kids are both coming up with odd phrases lately. I may have written about this already, but in the mornings [and Wren has been waking extremely early since returning from CA - like 5am most days] I tell Wren not to make noise in his room because "Frost is sleeping 'in there'". I point to the shared wall of his and Frost's room.

Wren looks at the wall with concern and says "Frost is IN there. Frost, come out! Come out Frost!"

In California, there was that funny dialogue after we saw a statue of the buddha. Why does Daddy have no hair? According to Wren, "Daddy's hair NOT WORKING".

Wren has started to adopt that annoying habit [of Frost's] of calling me "Shannon" as an imperative. If he really wants my attention he gets the same tone of voice as Frost and shouts "SHANNON, Mummy, SHANNON" I am trying to ignore it and complained about it yesterday. Frost said "Wren is just being mature." I guess he thinks he is mature at 7, right?

Wren is at that stage of speaking about himself in the third person. Heather reported a very sweet conversation she had with Wren one morning. He had made something out of playdough and came to show it to her:

Wren: Look what Wren made!
Heather: Oh, nice! What is it?
Wren: Up-down.
Heather: I like your up-down.
Wren: WREN MADE IT! [smiling proudly]

HE also says things like:
W: "What is it that you give Wren?"
Me: Its an Okapi.
W: Wren HAS it.

Wren is quite aware of himself these days and can report that he is scared, cold and even tired. This morning, waking at 5.08am, he demanded I turn on the light - screaming and kicking on the floor - I told him I would do it if he stopped yelling. He stopped and I turned it on. Even with the light on he remained on the floor so the two of us lay there looking at each other (I was in my blanket). After a while he said "Very Tired." "Yes", I told him "You woke up too early." He thought about that for a little while and then re-iterated "Wren woke up toooo erleeee."

I remain hopeful of better sleep as the interval post-surgery lengthens and as he becomes more attached to Snuggle Bunny. Snuggle bunny was one of those gifts we have so appreciated and as Frost's sleep improved after he became attached to his blankie (mimi) I hope Wren can sleep longer and be more secure with bunny. At nap today he asked for Bunny and when I went in to sing to help him get to sleep he quickly cuddled bunny and shut his eyes.

That is what I need to do now. The eyes bit, not the bunny. My dialogues with Frost will have to wait till next post.
Shannon, Mummy, Shannon!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Good Times

After my rather dismal posts of the past few days I am going to try and make this one a bit more practical. Things are good. Wren has been enjoying many good times during Granny's visit. Today, despite the weather we decided to take an afternoon walk around Greenlake. After doing little to no exercise for a few months, the Greenlake circuit seemed longer than usual but Wren enjoyed it - especially the parts where we saw ducks and even chased them. Here he is chasing a large flock of ducks eating grass.

Wren also enjoyed his new BOB stroller. We bought it on sale today. I have been wanting a new stroller for a long while but finally said that if we got through surgery Okay we would have one. The old one conveniently collapsed the week before we went to Stanford which was an omen. Here Wren is 'watching ducks' with the binoculars.

This picture is a flashback to the first day after Wren was released from hospital. Yes, it was a bit ridiculous to be on the beach but it was more restful than running about the house and it was California, sunny, warm and just before we returned to the Northern Darks. I am glad we went. It is another good memory. Wren loved the sand beach and collecting stones.

People have been very kind to us, continuing to provide meals and little gifts for the kids. When we returned from California, Josh's colleagues at work had sent a box of gifts for Frost and Wren and another arrived shortly afterwards. The following pictures show Wren opening the last gift which turned out to be a creature we call "cuddle bunny". Wren loves cuddle bunny but sometimes bad things happen to cuddle bunny and he has to run and hide. Here, Wren snuggles him and tells him its all better.

Totally Disgusting Post-script
Of course, I can't write a whole blog post in this up-beat way. Rather than gloom I am going to finish with Gross and Disgusting. This evening, I had persuaded Wren to bath with me but he had pee'ed in the bath. I was wondering whether it was Okay for his incision to be in the pee-water (I am used to wallowing in children's pee) and thought we should get out. As I moved to get Wren out I looked at the water and poop billowed up.

It was not a small poop - it was a mix of floaters and poop-water. I shrieked and popped Wren out the bath. Our bath drains very slowly due to cruddy old plumbing and I couldn't wait to get clean so I stood in the poopy-bath and turned on the shower and washed myself down with the strawberry kids shampoo as hard as I could. Wren was scared of the shower and tried to escape but all I could think was that I had bathed his incision and chest-tube wound in poop. It was not on the discharge instructions and so he could not be released.

I held him in the shower and washed him with hotel soap.

He cried.

Afterwards, I made a solution of Dettol (an antiseptic and disinfectant used in homes and hospitals in England, South Africa and Australia) and sponged his stomach and neck.

I also filled the bath with the solution and I think I will shower for a few days.

Frost did this to me once when he was an infant. Now how many of you have bathed in poop TWICE in your lives?