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Super Mom

Tomorrow I have a full-day training seminar in St Paul — Andy’s got the day off  to be with the kids so I can go to a sort of voluntary training for work / way to earn eight credit hours toward my IBCLC certification.  I’m really excited to be starting the process of preparing for the exam!
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Best Practice: Managing Early Breastfeeding Challenges

‘This one-day workshop provides an intensive approach to the basics of breastfeeding promotion and early feeding issues – in the hospital, clinic and community. It is a helpful and effective beginning for education in research-based infant feeding, as well as an excellent update for IBCLCs and others who are interested in applying science to the practice of infant feeding.
This conference is closed.

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Then I have to rush home, where Andy will have the kids all ready to go to the elementary school for Noah’s Kindergarten open house.  We were just there a couple of days ago for his “Kindergarten Countdown” orientation thing, but this is evidently open to all grades at the school.  I’d say we could skip it –we have already gotten acquainted with the teachers and building last week– but apparently in towns that are larger than my hometown, this is standard practice for signing up for teacher conference appointment times for the whole entire rest of the year.  Craziness.  When I was little, parents just kind of showed up on the one appointed date between the hours of noon and 7 PM to the long row of teachers sitting behind big tables in the cafeteria and shuffled down the factory line to hear reviews about their kids’ performance in various teachers’ classrooms.  It was a weird bazaar-like atmosphere.  Now that I think about it, though, I may have fabricated that entire memory.  That seems like a pretty strange way to conduct parent-teacher conferences.
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So anyway, for a mom who usually works from home and is otherwise always there with her kids, tomorrow is going to be a busy day.  I’m looking forward to being part of the “normal” adult population for most of the day tomorrow.  Fun!

We took Noah to his Kindergarten Countdown last night — an open house of sorts for kids and parents to have a chance to meet their teachers, tour the school, ride a bus and just get a bit acquainted with the school before the first day of class (which is September 7th, the day before Noah’s sixth birthday).
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The twins stayed behind in the child care room and separated easily without even a backward glance at me as I left the room.  I don’t think they would be so fearless if they didn’t have each other; it makes me wonder what decision I should make in a couple of years when they are ready for Kindergarten themselves. Should I keep them in a class together?  Should I let them be separated?  How do I know what the “right” choice is?
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Noah was a little shy when we first found his classroom and met his teacher, Mrs. Tschida (pronounced “cheetah” so he thought that was pretty cool), but there were different activity centers set up to explore while we waited for all of the classmates and their families to filter in so it was only a few minutes before he was warmed up and feeling brave.  Furthermore, there were at least two other children there from his preschool class so it was a fun reunion for them.
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The parents separated from the children after a little while and went to the media center to talk to the school’s superintendent, the bus company director, etc.  Andy and I were really surprised that a lot of the parents looked younger than us; typically we always end up feeling like the “young ones” among the parents of kids Noah’s age, but there were lots of parents who were younger.  Noah’s teacher is young, too — the “About Me” poster on her classroom wall says she is 28, though I would have guessed she was younger than that.
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Halfway through the meeting, we heard children laughing and talking in the hallway and looked out in time to see Mrs. Tschida leading the class down the hall towards the busing area, all the children in a line holding on to a rope.  Noah was the “line leader”.  About 20 minutes later when the class walked by again in the other direction, he was at the front of the line once again.  Andy and I laughed, wondering how he ended up with that “honor” both times.  After watching him with his brother and sister for the past three years, I’ve come to the conclusion that Noah is a very resourceful kid and he can be pretty manipulative when he wants to get his way.  I bet he figured out a way to be the line leader while still convincing the other children that he was doing them a favor by taking the job.  Ha!
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At the end of the evening, the doors to the media center opened and the superintendent stopped in the middle of his speech about bus safety and said, “And now, introducing… THE CLASS OF 2023!!” and the children ran in to find their parents.  Noah was at the front of the line again and I alternated between thinking, “The class of 2023?!” and “Oh man, is he going to be one of those kids who is always at the front of the line, always the first to raise his hand, always volunteering to help the teacher…?”  Hahah!  Such a good kid; I love him to pieces.
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He is definitely excited to start Kindergarten and I am excited for him.  This morning he said, “I wish I could go to school today!”  He is especially excited that his birthday is the second day of school and that he will be able to bring mini-cupcakes to share with his classmates.  What he doesn’t know is that we have a whole day of fun planned for him; we’ll pick him up from the bus stop when he gets home at noon and then we are taking the kids to the Mall of America to spend the afternoon at the Nickelodeon theme park there.  He is going to be beside himself with excitement.
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Everyone keeps asking me if I’m going to be OK on the first day of school.  Will I be able to handle it when I watch my first baby get on the school bus for the first time?  Am I going to cry all morning?  It may be because I am in a bit of denial right now, but at the moment I don’t foresee a huge issue for me.  Maybe it’s because he was in preschool last year so I was able to ease into it.  Maybe it’s because the twins at home are so much work that I don’t expect to have much opportunity to think about being sad that Noah is in school.  Maybe once the day is here I will surprise myself and be a complete blubbering mess.  I will soon find out!  :)

Noah

I tend to remember our time pre-twins as “The Golden Years” and the time post-twins as “Feeling Nostalgic about The Golden Years.”  Not that our past three (-and-a-half, almost!) years since Adam and Gianna were born haven’t been incredibly amazing or anything; it’s just those first years “just the three of us” were pretty special and I’m sure if you have more than one child you know exactly what I mean.
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Just before Noah was born we moved into this really nice, cute (code for “small”) apartment in New Hope, MN. It was funny because we had just gotten married and now we were going to have our first baby and my mom totally took the name of our new city as an omen that things were going to be just perfect for us — she even had us pose for pictures in front of the big water tower with the words “NEW HOPE” on it, she was so excited.  Andy made Star Wars references that I still don’t “get”.  (That memory makes me smile!)
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I really loved that apartment and I loved living in New Hope. We were still close enough to the city that it only took about 15 minutes to drive downtown, yet we were far enough out in the suburbs that houses had huge decks and big back yards. Our apartment was really nice and I was especially excited about the dishwasher and the cleanliness after having spent the past four years in either the dorm or crappy one-bedroom apartments, as well as falling-down-death-traps on campus rented out by slimeball landlords charging insane rent but refusing to get up to code.
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Anyway, we only lived there for about two weeks before Noah was born and it was such a great time. He fit into our lives so much more easily than I expected possible, and I loved being a mom. Andy would come home from work and I’d be trying (and usually failing) to make something edible for dinner while wearing Noah in his sling; sometimes we’d decide just to go out for dinner — Noah was so portable!
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We lived in that apartment for a little over two years, but then decided we needed a bigger place to live when we found out we were expecting twins! We looked at houses at first, but the market hadn’t turned yet and I was really frustrated that I couldn’t find anything I liked in our price range. I got panicky as I got further along, so when I was about 25 weeks pregnant with the twins we moved into a 3-bedroom townhome just down the block from our old apartment. We finally had our own yard (kind of) and I daydreamed about the days the following summer where I’d spend all day outside with two little babies on a blanket next to me as we watched their older brother play in the grass. (Ha! That never happened! I so underestimated the power of newborn twins…)
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So after the twins were born a few months after moving into our new home, I started feeling really guilty about my “lost” relationship with Noah. The twins were exhausting and I never had time to do the things I used to do with Noah, like read him a book before bed or take him grocery shopping. I was seemingly always nursing! Haha!
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Now, to the whole point I was trying to get at with this post –
One day Andy came home from work and I had had an especially tiring day. I started crying as soon as he came in the house and told him how guilty I felt for “abandoning” Noah. Next thing I knew, he was shoving me out the door behind Noah, saying, “I’ve got the twins; you go have some time with Noah.” I didn’t really know what to do (couldn’t go anywhere–twins were guaranteed to want to eat in about 44 minutes, if that) so we just got out Noah’s new tricycle he had gotten for Christmas from Grandma and Grandpa Levasseur and he pedaled up and down the driveway. I could hear the babies crying all the way across the parking lot even though the windows were closed (we always closed them around this time of night because Gianna’s colic was like clockwork and we didn’t want to disturb the neighborhood) and I could see Andy standing in the patio door watching us with a baby in both arms. But I just stayed with Noah and felt the stress all melt as I listened to him just chatting away.
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I love this video so much.  At age 2.5, Noah had a seriously impressive vocabulary.  Listen carefully and you’ll hear the babies crying in the background.

Cheer Up, Emo Kid!

I sometimes need to remind myself not to read too much into Andy’s lyrics when I find them lying around somewhere while he’s working on new songs. I get super paranoid (or narcissistic, maybe?!) that they’re all about me. And if you’ve ever heard one of Andy’s songs… well, they aren’t usually happy little love poems! Ha!

I do really like hearing the explanations behind them, though. Sometimes I just look at him and marvel at the way his mind works. Love that man.

It turns out our house is positioned in this excellent “fireworks-viewing” corridor, and both last night and tonight we’ve gotten to sit out on our back deck and watch some beautiful fireworks displays.  Last night we had some neighbors with a seriously huge amount of amazing “real” fireworks (and a comparably ridiculous-sized entertainment budget, too, apparently) right down the street from us; tonight we first got to watch Monticello’s “Riverfest” display, followed by a surprise show from Buffalo — a town about 10 miles west of here; we could see the fireworks but couldn’t hear the boom.  Pretty bad ass!

Say you were traveling out of town with your family over a holiday weekend to attend your high school class reunion.  Also pretend that your husband was not only attending the reunion with you but also part of the band performing at the event (so there’s no way he could stay behind with the kids).  How exactly would you hire a babysitter to watch your children when they are staying overnight in a hotel?

WWEPD?
(What Would Emily Post Do?!)

So now that that’s out of the way, I have to say that I am really enjoying the “funny” tag I’ve started putting on my pictures when I upload them to iPhoto.  Last night Andy and I stayed up ridiculously late (early?) giggling like school girls at pictures like these:

The Power of Grayskull(They have the power.)


(SNOT!)

(“You Must Have Your Hands Full!” – Every Single Person Who Sees Us In Public)


(NOM NOM NOM)


(Smell it!)


(HOVER KITTY!)


(AKA: Bonzai Kitty)


(Gianna as Raphael)

(TOES.)

(Glowworm Gianna)


(Kung Fu Babies!)

My kids aren’t old enough to hate me for this post yet.  Ha.

(I really do need to know the etiquette for hiring babysitters to watch your children in a hotel room, though.  What would she do for several hours?  Watch TV silently?  Text 900 of her closest friends?  You would almost need to book two adjoining or neighboring rooms and break out the trusty ol’ baby monitor for the sitter to use while she hung out in the empty room.  Am I right?  And if you were the parent of a teenage girl who babysits, would you think this was a strange job?  Am I over thinking this?)

One week from today Adam will be having surgery to have his tonsils and adenoids removed.  I keep telling myself “it’s just a tonsilectomy” but I’m still worried; it makes me appreciate how lucky we have been these past six years with the kids’ health as I realize some families have had much scarier surgeries to undergo with their children.  Counting my blessings…

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It all started last month when I took the twins in for their 3-year well child checkup.  While filling out a pages-long questionnaire designed to assess the child’s cognitive, emotional and behavioral development, I could see that Adam was scoring higher than Gianna on the behavioral assessment.  There were “red flags,” like the fact that he often doesn’t look at you when you’re directly talking to him or that he is quick to dissolve into a tantrum when he doesn’t get his way.  None of the ‘flags’ alone was enough for me to think the dreaded “A” word (autism), but Andy has mentioned his fears about it a few times.

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So at this well-child checkup, the kids’ pediatrician took the questionnaires and tallied them up, remarking that Gianna and Adam both scored well above and beyond in milestones such a speech, motor skills, cognitive development, etc.  He did tell us that Adam scored on the threshold of “needs further testing” in the behavioral section, though he was quick to reassure us that this didn’t mean that Adam was autistic or anything; just that he may need further testing as he got older.

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Right before we were ready to leave, I remembered that I had meant to mention Adam’s snoring!  Dr. Joe’s face lit up as he connected Adam’s score on the behavioral assessment to this new information; he began to ask questions about Adam’s sleep.  Does he wake often at night?  Does he snore loudly?  Does he snore every night?  Does he fall asleep in the car or while watching TV?  The answers to all of those questions were “yes!” so he began to explain that the manifestation of sleep deprivation in children is much different than it is in adults; adults who are sleep deprived have difficulties staying awake during the day and feel generally lethargic and without energy, but sleep deprivation in children can manifest itself with hyperactivity, vigorous temper tantrums, clingy behavior, etc.  Sounds like Adam!

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So our options were to schedule an appointment with a pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, schedule an appointment for a sleep study to see if the snoring was a symptom of a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, or to just ‘wait and see’.  Dr. Joe recommended the sleep study, so that’s what we decided to do.  A couple of weeks later, Adam and I spent the night at New River Medical Center to have a pediatric sleep study conducted.  He did really well and I felt like he slept pretty ‘normally’ even with all the wires attached to his body and sensors on his face to detect mouth and nose breathing.  In the morning before we were discharged the nurse asked me how many times I thought he had awoken; I answered “about three?”

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As we prepared to leave, a nurse told us that the sleep specialist normally took around 7-10 business days to review the findings from the study and make a diagnosis.  She told us it could be up to two weeks before we heard the results.  So I packed Adam back up again and we went home.  The phone rang two hours later and it was the sleep center… wondering if we could come in to review the results in just a few days.  That was alarming; I wondered if it meant that his sleep study results had been so worrisome that they wanted to discuss it as soon as possible.  So three days later I took Adam back to the center to go over the results, and that’s when we were told that Adam has “severe obstructive apnea” and had experienced 73 “apneas in total”.  In bolded text on the interpretation report were the words, “The overall apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) was markedly elevated at 26.2 events per hour.”  A bit further down the page read, “The patient experienced 115 arousals in total, for an arousal index of 13.6 arousals per hour.”  I was shocked.

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So the sleep specialist’s recommendation was obviously that we take Adam to be examined by a pediatric ENT specialist for “probable removal of the tonsils and adenoids.”  She assured us that this type of surgery is better to get ‘over with’ and the recovery faster when the patient is a small child like Adam, and that his quality of sleep would be immediately improved after surgery.  Dr. Joe had told us that if Adam’s behavioral “issues” were due to sleep deprivation, removing the tonsils and adenoids might make all the difference.  I made the appointment with the ENT specialist that same day.

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Last week we brought Adam to the clinic to see a pediatric ENT, who examined him for probably two seconds after reading the sleep study report and concluded he definitely needed to have his tonsils and adenoids removed.  His assistant scheduled the surgery for two weeks later, and we immediately went to the lab to have Adam’s blood drawn to be tested for Von Willebrand’s Disease, a genetic bleeding disorder that Andy suffers from.  (It’s like mild hemophilia; as a kid, Andy used to have severe nosebleeds almost daily and sometimes had to be taken to the ER when he had a cut or scratch that was bleeding profusely and wouldn’t clot.)  The good news is that this blood work came back normal; Adam did not inherit Andy’s bleeding disorder.

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Yesterday I took Adam to the clinic again for his “pre-op physical”.  The blood work had already been completed so he just needed to be looked over to make sure he is healthy and able to have surgery next week.  Surprise, surprise — turns out he has a double ear-infection!  However, since his temperature was only slightly elevated (99.4*F) and he had not complained of his ears hurting either before or during the appointment, Dr. Joe gave me a script for an antibiotic but told me not to fill it unless his fever sparked or he complained of pain.  He thought that Adam’s body was already doing a good job of fighting the infection and probably wouldn’t need the antibiotics’ help.  He also said that the infection wouldn’t prevent Adam from having his surgery next week.

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So anyway, I’m trying to remain calm and rational about this entire ordeal but it is still very hard to prepare your three-year-old child for surgery.  I laid awake in bed last night thinking of all the “what if?”s — “What if he has a reaction to the anesthesia? What if he bleeds too much?  What about the downsides to having one’s tonsils and adenoids removed — like increased infection risk, etc?”  I’m afraid I’ll be a wreck when it’s time for him to actually have the surgery, and I’m afraid I’m not strong enough to be there by myself while Andy is at home with the other two children.  I’m afraid he’ll be in a lot of pain after the surgery; will they give him something stronger than Tylenol or Advil for the pain?  But I have to be strong for him so he isn’t scared.  Ugh, this parenting business is hard work!

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Wish us luck and a speedy recovery!  His surgery is next Wednesday at 11:00 AM and he and I will be spending the night so that he can be monitored (because he is so little; apparently they usually send tonsilectomy patients home the same day) and then released the next morning.

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What a crazy, busy and complicated summer we are having already this year!

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