Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Jesus and Me

Its almost time for the after-holiday blues.  Wren's birthday is over, Christmas is over, my birthday is over and everyone knows that New Year doesn't really exist for people with kids (who can get a good babysitter on New Year's Eve and even if they could, who would want to go out and stay up late rather than sleep?)   So really, for me, 2012 has begun and if I can say so - I have high hopes!   It better be a good year.  I am holding out for good weather, fewer wars, fewer calamities, good cardiology appointments, a pet that stops peeing on the carpet and health for my friends and family.

But first, the recap of Holiday 2011:

Christmas in Seattle was windy, so windy that the lighted reindeer ceased swaying his head with squeaky regularity and fell right over on the lawn.  The holiday lights swayed mightily, so that verily, they pulled the 24 hour timer off the porch ceiling and left it hanging by a black cable.  Remarkably, they kept shining in the spirit of fossil fuels and the human spirit and all things bright and festive. 

The reindeer fell under the Christmas wind.

There were the usual small obstacles and setbacks during Christmas presents.  Toys were restrained with twist ties and hard plastic shells.  The scissors became lost in the pile of wrapping.  My attempt to write down Who gave us What failed somewhere after the 4th gift and the leg of Wren's new Adventure Time Finn figure broke off due to a manufacturing defect and over-eager handling (by Wren's mother).

Then there were the peculiar gifts.  The necessary debate about the chocolate picture of a pirate ship with silver cannon balls.  Was it a game or a picture?  Should it be eaten or preserved (A. Eaten). 
Wren's chocolate ship (which is no more).  His weird expression
is his attempt to look normal for a photograph.  Wren says "that expression
means that I am kind of neutral." 

The electric hamsters were popular, especially the one that came with a scorpion tank which shot green missiles at Beezle.

Joshua complained he had too many gifts (because he bought himself some).

For the first time in his life, Frost wanted order to appreciate gifts and asked that we open "one at a time" but Wren rejected the notion and kept saying "is there one for me?"   Whenever he received a gift he liked (and he liked almost all of them very much), he would ask "Who gave this to me" and then say "I LOVE you SO MUCH!"

Is this for me?  Is this one?

Frost, opening a gift Wren wrapped. 
It contained some of Wren's Playmobil repacked in something
from Amazon.   Frost acted pleased even though
they were his toys before Wren inherited them.

Wren, opening the Aquaplay which (a flood revealed)
is probably best suited to summer outdoor play.

Frost hands out gifts one at a time for a short period.

Frost before opening gifts.

Wren's favorite gifts were the Thundercats sword, some Squinkies while Frost diplomatically "liked a lot of things."   If pressed, he admitted his favorite present overall was all of them.

Josh made gingerbeer for breakfast.

As with all good Grown-ups, Joshua bought the family the gift he wanted to receive.  It was an Apple TV.   Unfortunately, on Christmas Day the apple TV didn't work because it lacked an HDMI cable.  Lame.   It is now working.  Joshua and I have decided to cancel our Comcast Cable and go to shows on demand and free-to-air TV.   After years and years of cable we are going to have an antenna again!

On Christmas Day itself, the boys got up at 7.20am which was pretty okay.  Josh woke up about the same time which meant I had to get up too.

Beezle wishes Josh "Happy Christmas"
"We say MERRY CHRISTMAS in America, Mom"
shout the boys. "MERRY Christmas"

Among the most contentious gifts was a jelly bean dispenser I bought at the Thrift Store and refilled from Costco.  It dispenses Jelly Beans with the twist of a knob but the manual said you could set it to only dispense with a quarter (money).   After a short but spirited debate with the boys who felt it was unfair to give them a gift and then make them spend money to use it, and a shorter sociological study in which I observed that unrestricted jelly-bean access lead to Jelly Beans before breakfast, for breakfast and after breakfast... etc Josh and I decided to set it to MONEY MODE.  After half an hour of googling the coin mechanisms for gumball machines and trying to make the metal blade fit the metal cog Josh said:

"This thing is broken.  They threw it out because it is b-r-o-k-e-n"

He worked on in for another half hour with pliers and told me it was fixed but it wasn't and then he said something impolite and went to play Minecraft or watch Soccer or something silent and intense that did not involve Jelly Beans.

I put the Jelly Bean machine on the top shelf in the pantry but this morning it had mysteriously returned to the kitchen counter.

This is all to show that you should really only give your family the presents that you want to live with, not the ones they want.

I shall try and do better next year but overall it was a very happy Christmas, everyone felt loved and appreciated, Joshua went back to sleep on the couch and we didn't kill any pigs or animals for our dinner.

A good holiday for a good start to 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wren's Teeth

This morning Wren had his first crown.  It is silver and he is quite proud of it.  Joshua said "you are now a cyborg because you have a metal tooth"

While we were scooting Wren asked:  "Mom, is my tooth made of metal?"

I replied that it was made of surgical steel.

"It IS made of metal Dad!" he said gleefully. 

"I have a metal tooth!"

Enthusiasm aside, Wren is just five years old so its very unfortunate that it came to this and you are probably thinking is this dentist on crack?

She is not.  She is a really most excellent and kind dentist.  When we first started attending her practice five years ago we could only get an appointment for preschoolers because she was so highly regarded and fully booked during school hours.  Years later we have caused her to come in twice on holidays to deal with Wren's dental issues.  So, she is nice and skilled but we are rather weary of seeing even the most lovely dentist.

So, how did we come to this?

Kids with heart defects have to be careful with dental care and hygiene.  You may have heard the urban myth about human bites being the most infectious?  It is most likely untrue but while being less toxic than a dog's bite, a human mouth has plenty of thriving bacteria.   People with various heart conditions are at higher risk of getting bacterial endocarditis from bacteria in the bloodstream, released during dental procedures.   As a result, Wren's must get more aggressive dental treatment and take amoxicillan at every appointment.  Yes, I know that's an antibiotic by the way. 

Because we live in the progressively anti-antibiotic environment of naturopathic Seattle, I am going to give you the longer answer about dental care so you don't blanch when I mention Wren has had antibiotics 8 or 9 times in the past 4 months, that's with every filling.  But wait, I am getting ahead of myself.

"Certain heart conditions and structural defects increase the risk of developing endocarditis (heart valve infection) following dental procedures. Bacterial Endocarditis means infection in the heart, specifically the heart valves (bacteria = germs; endo = inside; carditis = heart inflammation). It occurs when bacteria spread through the bloodstream and land inside the heart and grow there. Usually, if there are bacteria circulating in the bloodstream, they don't stick to the inside of the heart: the blood flows smoothly. If the heart is abnormal due to certain types of surgery or other defects, there may be rough surfaces causing turbulent blood flow (known as a murmur) to which bacteria can attach and cause infection. Antibiotics are used to try to prevent this dangerous infection in some cases. The decision whether to take antibiotics depends on two major factors: first, is the procedure likely to cause a significant number of bacteria to enter the bloodstream; and second, is the heart particularly subject to infection."


Wren required 5 fillings when he had his first dentist visit.  We don't know why he had so many cavities.  He and Frost eat a similar diet but Frost has had only one filling by age 10.  These things are sent to try us, I suspect.

Unfortunately, for reasons not fully understood, some of Wren's fillings in the lower molars keep falling out, cracking and coming loose.  Since October, we have been to the dentist for a cavity replacement every second week - for one of two fillings.  Finally, when the right cavity fell out for (what feels like and may well be) the 5th time, we decided to try something else.  Wren has been doing very well with the new fillings, the doctor does them quickly with a dental dam or cotton rolls, but he grinds his teeth at night and for that or some other reason, they are not remaining in.

The new plan is to crown all the teeth that have recurrent filling loss.

Today, for the first crown, it took about an hour for the whole appointment and the worst part was getting on the "tooth raincoat" or dental dam to keep the tooth dry.  Wren has a strong gag reflex and so dental work causes him to panic when his open mouth causes him to retch.  Coupled with some drama and discomfit from the analgesic shot, he was very sad and stricken.

Sadly, a third filling which had not been replaced to date had looked odd to me the night before.  I asked the dentist to look at that too and she said it has also cracked.  She gave me the option of a crown next week or another temporary, done today.  I picked the temporary as it may give us a few weeks of wear and allow Wren to do some forgetting of the trauma before the next crown.  One down, two to go.

He watched two episodes of MAD TV on the iPad and I had a core workout to balance on the dentist's chair and hold the iPad above him while not getting in the way of the dentist and her assistant.   At the end of it, Wren was sad and needed a smoothy so Josh went to Whole Foods for one.

Peanut Butter Moo'd and Minecraft helped during the recovery and he is now a happy cyborg.  Till next time.