Friday, February 27, 2009

Chasing Seagulls

Wren and I went to the park yesterday. Yes, it had been raining all day. Yes, it was very windy. Yes, the slide was wet. All Wren wanted to do was chase seagulls.

Here is is with the seagulls rising away from him.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The dazzling whites of shining snow

I staggered out into the kitchen at 5.45am to take my medicinal licorice [1] and some tea because my throat is still croaky in the morning. Wren was yelling "come play!!!" at my departing back. The moment I came into the kitchen I knew something was up. The room was bathed in the distinctive luminosity which comes from SNOW shining through the patio doors. Yes, snow shines. Anyone who has been out at night knows how it transforms the night - even a moonless one. I called Wren to come see and he stood for a long while with his face to the glass at the back and then the front window. Finally, he had had enough. He started whining.

"Turn off that snow. I want stop it. Turn off that snow MOMMY!!! I want stop it going down on the ground. I want turn it off!!! I want to! I do no like it."

Wren throws himself on the ground fake crying. A moment later he sits up.

"I can't see snow! Booky beek. Booky beek."

And he began reading one of the new library books we picked out yesterday.

School had a delayed start due to the snow so after breakfast we rugged up and went out to make a snowman. The snow was too dry to roll so we threw snowballs, shoveled it and slid down the snowy slide. It was fun!

Potty Training
We have started potty training with Wren. Over the past 2 days he has had two successful potty visits although he doesn't seem to be able to predict when anything is likely to happen. We read a few books and sometimes we are 'lucky' with results. After we flushed a poop last night Wren was very worried about it. He left the dinner table to close the lid of the toilet in case "the poop came up again!" He had noticed the toilet refilling with water after we flushed and was concerned that it might not be clean!

We have not had any luck today but have had a few accidents as we go diaper-less sometimes hoping for results.

Here is the chicken coop
We are waiting to buy pullets after we know whether we are going to Australia. Josh has submitted his passport application [yay!] and I have submitted Frost's APP appeal [yay!] so there are only a few more Highly Significant Events to overcome before we can really plan a vacation [ok, not so Yay due to the cardiology clinic on Monday].

Doesn't it look hopeful and wonderful? Should we paint it? The second picture shows where it is located in the back yard.

[1] The licorice has been prescribed by my naturopath to help me cope with the less than desirable hours of sleep Wren requires of me. Apparently, taken on waking and at noon the licorice helps regulate cortisol production or some issues with the adrenal gland. I have noticed it has improved my sleep at night - I don't seem to wake as easily.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Its all about sunshine

In a previous post I mentioned I have been sick. I had a cold/cough/fever thing that really knocked me about. Today I am feeling better but I am moody. After I get sick enough to collapse in bed I find myself quiet emotional. This morning I burst into tears listening to the news that the OCO had crashed into the ocean after a launch failure. I am still really sad about it, about the time spent in creating it and the hopes that sank with it.

The kids were concerned when they saw me crying. Wren said "Mummy alright?" and I said I was but the rocket wasn't. Frost said "so did a lot of people die?" and when I said that no people died he looked at me funny. I tried to explain about people working since he was born to envisage and create this thing to give us more information to model and understand global warming but it unraveled into pathos and I felt sadder. Frost turned off the news and put on Michael Jackson instead then they both danced about to it.

Last week I was told that I am Vitamin D deficient so I bought some supplements today. I don't know if they will work. I feel I need warming up and profound brightness not a capsule The sun IS out but its like skim milk compared to whipping cream. It doesn't warm you. I have lived lots of places in the world and I have to say I like the color of the sun best in Africa. The Australian sun is too bright and the Seattle sun is too low in the sky, even in summer it doesn't move into the same spectrum as light in Africa. in South Africa the sun is thick like honey, really lots of red in it. You feel warm just looking at it. Even in Joburg where it gets cold and thin skied the sun is still vibrant. The sun in winter is like the light in a movie where you're in an alley too narrow for much light to enter and there is a wind blowing and newspapers have separated and are blowing about.

Josh is putting in his passport application this week and many hopes come into play around it. We hope Wren's next cardiology clinic (Monday 2nd March) clears him to travel to Australia. We hope the fares stay low enough to get us a flight. We hope Josh's passport comes in time to travel when we can. I hope we can travel while its still hot enough to swim in the sea (although Josh wants to delay travel until the sun is a bit dilute). We shall see. Its too soon to dream of timing but I am hoping.

Wren is well. He has been waking at 5.30am and asking to play Duplo as soon as he has nursed. He loves chasing Frost and running with sticks. He shoots me with guns (I know, I am doing something Wrong) and loves Sesame Street but is terrified of Mr Noodle, jays in the garden and feral squirrels.

Last night Frost woke at 4am and came in to tell me he had dreamt it was time to wake up but his clock said it wasn't and it looked dark so what should he do?

I guess I am in a funk. If I was a single girl or even a childless girl this is the mood in which I'd take some personal time and lounge at home with tea for a bit to regather and then do some spontaneous and random things like driving north to find a swan or going to the UW library and chosing a call number at random. I want to meditate and live in a yurt with an anglo-nubian goat for milk, sew a quilt of peacocks, paint a long panel from an old photograph of a Cape-Town beach. I want to live on one crock-pot of soup for a week.

A child known in our heart community is struggling on ECMO after a failed heart transplant. I shouldn't have looked. When will I learn.

I just want sunshine and fresh guava. I can't even find a canned guava around here. Hey, some South African please mail me a can of Koo Guavas.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I run a Google Alert on Shone's Syndrome and its permutations. From time to time it throws up new articles and blogs with relevant information. Today, it delivered a link from a bulletin board for health insurance coders - the people who take the charts and translate them into insurance billable conditions as the basis of payment processing. Apparently, a health information coder was stumped on how to code a case with Shone's Syndrome and concurrent conditions:

"Shones syndrome w/subaortic stenosis and coarctation: Shones syndrome is 746.84
But for the subaortic stenosis and coarctation, sends me to 396:

Is 396.2, "Mitral valve insufficiency and aortic valve stenosis " the correct code ?"

The expert provided help:

"Shone's syndrome is coded 746.84 - if you read the notes under that (in the Tabular) - it gives you the codes for concurrent conditions - subaortic stenosis = 746.81 and coarctation of the aorta = 747.10. These are all congenital conditions which is why they are all 700 codes."

I don't know why I find this interesting. As a child I used to collect numbers. I felt there was a secret code to things around me and if I collected enough information I would find it. You know those little metal tags that are sometimes nailed to sidewalks or buildings? I used to record the numbers on them, the numbers on lamp posts in our neighborhood and the numbers on tickets. Well, now I am a Shone's Syndrome geek. I see it from the front and it amuses me to glimpse the way the coder sees it.

That could be Wren's file on her desk.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oh Doctor, Doctor will you marry me?

Wren has been playing Doctor and I am not sure how I feel about it. He likes to use the stethoscope (which we had for his G-tube placement) to listen to his stuffed animals' 'tummies', give shots with an old syringe and apply band aids. Big Bird had a particularly bad run-in with a box of band aids and Wren spent a long while this evening walking around cuddling and comforting him, patting him and talking soothingly to him. At bedtime he put him to bed with the other animals.

Now I played doctor when I was young so I have nothing against the profession. There was the infamous game of "wee wee doctors" in which my younger brother, the young neighbors and I (we were young because the play house we used for a hospital was tiny but I have no idea what age) did operations drawing with markers on each others genitals. We were 'discovered' by the neighbors parents when their younger daughter said it was "sore" down there. Uh oh. I guess our operations were not a success and we were chastised and restricted to dolls.

But its one thing to play doctor when you only see one for your annual checkup and another when you go to doctors for surgery and echos and EKGs. I am not sure how to play doctors with Wren. I have read that medical play is useful to help kids process and manage their anxiety. But what about parents? I feel really sad and conflicted listening to bear's heart. I hate to give Otter ANOTHER shot. Hasn't OTTER had enough already? At least Wren isn't chopping otter up and sedating him.

I notice that Seattle Children's is advertising its "Health Fair 2009" on March 14th. They invite families to hospital for "Lots of fun activities" like touring an operating room, learning about heart health, looking inside an ambulance and bringing your doll for a check-up at Teddy Bear Clinic. You can even get a finger cast!

I confess, the idea fills me with dread. I don't think of the hospital as a nice educational environment. I think of it as the place where children face life-saving procedures and life-ending illnesses. I know I should try and reclaim the space in the face of the many good things that are done there but honestly, at Hospital Wren is a sick kid but at home he is normal. Its as simple as that.

Except when he plays DOCTOR!

Chicken Coop is here
On a more cheerful note - we now have a chicken coop with space for 5+ chickens to roost. It is 10ft X 40" with the run and looks beautiful. Joshua popped outside before he left tonight just to look at it.

We don't have any chickens yet but are looking at Rhode Island Reds and Auracana's (for their blue eggs). Josh thinks we should buy pullets that have been sexed and/or young hens so we don't have the issues with chicks. I am in agreement but don't really know much about young ones since Gabriella and Xena were already 2 when we got them.

I shall post a picture of the coop and of Frost's Diet Coke + Mentos experiment tomorrow.