Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Have you ever...

Had one of those mothering days where you teach a bunch of violin lessons, practice violin with your seven year old, hang out with your kids, go pick up a few things for dinner from the store, hit the produce stand for the fresh corn on the cob, then rush home because you have to pee right then? And then you rush in the house, start unbouttoning your jeans, and realize that your zipper is down? And then further realize that because the last time you remember going to the bathroom was first thing in the morning when you took your shower that your zipper has likely been down during the violin lessons, the trip to the store and the produce stand?

Good. Me neither.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Ashlynn!

Six Years ago today, I gave birth to my 6 lb 14 oz baby girl on the side of Bangerter Highway in the front seat of our minivan. Six years later, she still surprises us. We love her sunny personality, and her antics keep us laughing every day. Happy birthday sweet girl!

Baby Ashlynn at the hospital, after all the chaos died down.
Tom calls this picture "My Three Favorite Girls."

Ashlynn's first Chirstmas.

First birthday- celebrating at the park.

She still loves the swings.

Enjoying the popscicle.

2nd Birthday- look at the pigtails!

We celebrated her 3rd birthday at Disneyland.

Daddy entertaining Ashie while waiting in line at the Matterhorn.

5th birthday party.

Abby, Ashylnn and cousin Valerie exhausted after playing at the lake at Grandma's cabin.
Big sister Ashlynn, holding Max a few minutes after he was born.

Dancing with Daddy.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

8 Weeks post-op

Pardon the messy room in the background. I have no idea how it got that way. No idea.
Incision? What incision?

Yes, he is chewing on my Blackberry.

How else was I supposed to keep him still while I took pics of his head?

Look Ma! No scar!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Optimism is setting my alarm clock for 7 am, night after night, hoping against hope that just once I will be allowed to sleep late enough for my alarm clock to actually be what wakes me up. My drooling, cooing, giggling, kicking and squirming 7 month old nursing monster seems to think that 6:15 am is playtime. Just for the record, its not.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Extreme Violining

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I didn't make a return visit to the hospital due to Max's high fever, (It turned out to be an ear infection, just as I thought,) I didn't get carried off by a pack of rabid seagulls, get buried in a huge pile of dirty clothes, or check myself into the proverbial padded room due to the kids being out of school for the summer. I've just been a very bad blogger.

A bad blogger who, last Sunday, packed the van with three kids, a 1/8th size violin, and everything that we could possibly need for an entire week and then some, and headed to my mom's house for a week of fun at the Suzuki Institute.

I have a long history with this particular Institute. My first year there was 1999, working at the Summerhays Music booth. I had this job many years in a row, including one year when I was almost to pregnant to be anywhere, at at least one year when I had a nursing baby in tow. After I had had enough of selling rosin and music stands to harried moms and listening to 10,000 versions of Twinkle Twinkle played on every size violin, viola, cello and bass conceivable, I decided I wanted to do Suzuki teacher training. A year and five Suzuki books trained later, I did the responsible Suzuki parent/teacher thing and started bringing my own little violinist to Institute.

The point of the institute is to immerse the kids in music all day every day for a week straight. The younger kids have four classes that include private lessons and group classes, and the more advanced students add orchestra and chamber music. Because ISSI is one of the largest institutes anywhere, they are able to hire the best faculty from all over the world, and the teachers are amazing. You wouldn't think a 5 year old (or a 6,7,8 or 13 year old!) would enjoy a day full of violin, but the teachers do their best to make it entertaining, exciting and fun, and they do a really good job of it. The kids come away inspired- there's something about being surrounded by hundreds of other kids who are all doing the same thing you are doing that suddenly makes it much more fun. And the past two years I've been taking Abby, I've had as much fun as she has. I've enjoyed being able to observe teachers from all over the globe and refresh my teaching and my commitment to the Suzuki Philosophy.

This year, things were a little different. Since our big move in September, we live a little more than an hour away from where the Institute is held. So rather that drive and hour each way everyday, I decided to pack everyone up and move to my parent's house for the week. And while I can put Ashlynn in the on-site daycare for the week, Max is still very much attached to me.

After last week, I've decided that there is very little in the world that is more exhausting than hauling my 7 year old violinist all over the Suzuki Institute while trying to keep my 7 month old happy. This year, there was no observing other teachers to refresh my own teaching; there was only pacing up and down the halls of the high school trying to convince baby Max that it was ok to fall asleep despite the fact that he wasn't home in his bed, and that there were violins playing all the time.

Abby came away inspired. She loved her teachers- two from Sweden, one from Belgium, and others from all over the country. She learned Swedish fiddle tunes, she had a class in Dalcroze Eurythmics, and she got to walk the halls playing "Witches Dance." We saw old friends, crossed the campus back and forth to the daycare countless times, and heard amazing concerts.

And I came away very tired. I knew it was going to be an interesting week when we sat in the opening assembly, and I was trying to feed Max. Anytime anyone would clap, he would pop off leaving me exposed to anyone who happened to be looking my way. I decided then and there that if I didn't flash half the people at Institute that week, I would consider it a success.

Well, no one reported me for indecent exposure. Max slept occasionally, flirted with everyone he saw and doesn't seem any worse for wear. Abby got several compliments from her teachers, including one teacher from Santa Barbara, CA who observed her materclass lesson one day and told me that Abby was the best set up violinist she had seen the whole week of Institute. We hauled up and down the stairs carrying the stroller what seemes like 1000 times. Ashlynn did approximately 342 art projects in the daycare. Abby played about 9821 versions of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. And we are all very very happy to be home.

If I hear Twinkle Twinkle Variations one more time, it's not gonna be pretty.

Or maybe I'll just go to sleep.

The fiddle concert. Spotting your violinist in the masses becomes something like a game of "Where's Waldo?"

Goofing off while Abby is in class. I dare you to look at this picture without cracking a smile. He was giggling so hard at this point that he almost fell out of the stroller.

I'm realizing as I'm posting these pictures that I hardly have any pictures of Abby at institute. They're all of Max. Because everytime I thought to take a picture of Abby, Max was either fussing or dead asleep in my arms.

And this is what he thought of the concerts.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


When Max tipped over this morning while he was sitting on the bed watching me brush my teeth, I didn't think anything of it. A minute or two later, when I noticed he was completely asleep, I laughed and figured I was being blessed by the Gods of sleep since we have had such a rough week. When Max fell asleep on my lap during the girls swimming lessons, I knew we had something else cooking. Him, to be exact. At a nice toasty temperature of 103.5.

I'm not a panicky freak out mom when it comes to my kids' illnesses. More often than not, I let a fever run its course, and its typically over and done in a day or two. I'm not a germaphobe, and I'm definitely not a neat freak. However, that's all changed when it comes to Max and his crazy long health history. When I saw his temperature it was all I could do to not rush him to the pediatrician right then.

The good news is, he's still acting relatively normal. The last time he spiked a fever and we were readmitted to the hospital, he was crying inconsolably, and nothing would make him happy. Today he just been a little whiny, a little clingy (this translates roughly into him screaming bloody murder every time I leave the room!) and very sleepy. So as of right now, I'm repeating the mantra "Its just a virus" over and over again, and hoping against hope that we can weather this one without yet another trip to the hospital.

And for crying out loud, can't my poor little boy catch a break?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

Like most of my ideas, it sounded like a good idea at the time.... (Note to self, if it sounds like a really good idea, think twice, because it probably means utter chaos is going to result.) The sun was shining, the violin lessons were taught, the violin practicing was done, and the baby had just gotten up from his nap. I had promised the girls we would make chocolate chips cookies, which proves to be rather difficult when you have no chocolate chips.

"So," I thought to myself, "The grocery store is half a mile away. We should just put the baby in the stroller and walk to the store. It would be great to spend time together, get some exercise and get out of the house for a while." At this point, I should have just told myself to shut up.

The girls were thrilled at the idea. Max kicked his legs and drooled, so I assumed it was okay with him. The walk there was uneventful, and the time in the grocery store was nothing out of the ordinary. ("Abby, put that down!" "Please don't poke holes in the meat packages!" "No, we are not buying candy bars, lunchables, kiwis, chocolate milk, treats for the dog, washable markers, overpriced Barbies, purple cauliflower, or whatever else you are asking about." "Ashlynn, don't put that in the cart! We're not buying it." "If you don't come back here RIGHT NOW, take that out of the cart and put it back where you got it, we're not making cookies at all!" See, all perfectly normal.)

It was when we left the grocery store that things started going downhill fast. Somehow in the 20 minutes that we were in the store, a massive thunderstorm had blown into the valley. The wind was gusting like mad, and the storm clouds were looking awfully menacing. Despite the girls whining, we didn't have a choice. We set off for home, hoping that if we walked fast enough, we would avoid the torrential downpour.

Just as we got the the point of no return, the sky opened and the downpour started. The thunder rolled, and the girls shrieked, to badly paraphrase a Garth Brooks song. We had no choice but to keep going. The girls were crying, Max couldn't decide if getting soaked was funny or not and was alternating between crying and giggling. I couldn't help but laugh. Because really, what else can you do when you have crying kids and a stroller full of soaked groceries?

Ah, well, nothing that a warm blanket and some chocolate chip cookies couldn't fix.

You would think that I would have learned my lesson. But oh no.

Friday, we were missing a few things for dinner again. (I really need to start planning better!) This time being slightly smarter, I packed all three kids up in the van and schlepped us all to the store. Now grocery shopping normally is bad enough. Grocery shopping with three kids in tow= mind numbing torture.

Highlights of this particular shopping trip include:

--Forgetting to get a bag of baby carrots. We were one aisle away from the produce, so I thought it would be okay to send 7 year old Abby back to get a bag. A few minutes later, just as I was wondering what was taking her so long, I hear the scream of "MOM!!!" from clear across the store. Abby has gone in the wrong direction, and is pacing up and down the cracker and cookie aisle trying to find the baby carrots.

--Standing in front of the baby food, trying to decide what flavors to get while my kids run down the aisle, holding hands singing (screeching) "She'll be comin' round the mountain when she comes."

--Self checkout. Having only a handful of items in my cart, and finding all the other checkout lines about 5 people deep, I decide to be smart and use the self checkout line. (I should have heeded my advice from earlier in this post about when it seems like a good idea, ignore it, because its inevitably going to cause chaos.) Midway through, my touch screen was possessed of an evil spirit and began scanning things in of its own accord, flashing nasty messages at me, and then shutting itself down. Despite the fact that there were no less than 6 customer service people standing around at the service booth, it took some begging to get someone to come over and fix my machine so that I could buy the stupid onions. Then, just as I thought we were home free, the girls decided to climb in the baggage area, prompting more hysteria and another shut down from the checkout machine for "Unauthorized merchandise in the bagging area." We're lucky we made it out alive. Check that. The girls are lucky they made it out alive.

New resolution for the rest of summer vacation. Never again am I going grocery shopping with all three kids in tow. If we don't have it, we're going to have to do without it.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Practice Time

Practicing violin with my seven year old is always an adventure. Now that Max has realized that he likes the violin and wants to participate, its because even more so. Because now, along with repeated reminders of "less bow," "Watch that low 2," and "Where's the half step, Abby?" I spend practice time trying to keep Max from grabbing the violin right out of Abby's hands. I have to admit though, its pretty darn cute.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hours of Entertainment

So, how do you entertain a 7 year old and a 5 year old on two consecutive trips to Provo when they have inexplicably lost interest in the portable DVD player? Two words: digital camera.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Having a healthy boy.... priceless

Apparently, its expensive to have your kid's skull completely remodeled. Who would have guessed? The bills for Max's surgery have started to roll in, and if nothing else, they are good for a hearty laugh, as well as a prayer of thanks for decent insurance and my new four favorite words: "Out of Pocket Maximum." So, in no particular order, here are some of the things that you probably don't want to know about what it costs to have major surgery, five days in the PICU, and a combined eight days at Primary Childrens' Medical Center.

291 minutes in the OR= $4949.91 or approximately $17.01 per minute.

Daily Charge for a room in the PICU= $1185.10 (Should have gotten a room at the Grand America Hotel instead. Cheaper, better beds, better food! And just so you know, this does not include nursing services or anything else. It just includes ths space we took up in the PICU and the air we breathed.)

1 tsp dose of Lortab= $6.18 (1 Bottle of Lortab is a $4.00 generic prescription at Smiths!)

Plates and screws put in Max's skull to remodel it and help keep his new shape: $15007.06

1 Dose of pediatric Versed to prep him for a spinal tap: $429.63 (billed at a half-hour of concious sedation.)

Total Bill from the Neurosurgeon= $6137.68 (Now really, I'm not knocking the guy. I know he's very smart and very skilled. But he was only with my son for an hour!)

Total Bill From the Hospital so far= $47,382.72. We have yet to see a bill from our main surgeon, the anesthesiologists, or the radiologists. I'm betting, by the time all is said and done, we will top out around $75,000.

Really, its not as bad as it seems. The hospital bills the insurance company, and the insurance company tells the hospital there's no way they're paying $6.18 for every dose of lortab, so the bill is settled for much less than the itemized statements that I have. Plus, we have a $3,000 out of pocket maximum before the insurance company pays out at 100%. But still, its a huge bill! Tom and I can't wait for the day when Max is 16 or 17 and wants to do something dangerous like skydiving or stupid like getting a tattoo, and tells us, "It's my body, and I'll do what I want with it!" Because, um no. Between the outrageous amount of money that we paid for fertility treatments to get and stay pregnant, and the amount of medical bills we're paying now, we own him. For a long, long time!

But speaking of surgery, yesterday we reached the one-month post op mark! Woo-hoo! I am obsessively taking pictures of his head, so here's the latest, meant to show one month post surgery.

Look Ma, no ridge!
Side view. Its a little lumpy and bumpy, but everyone tells us that will even out.

And the top view. I love that the triangle shape is mostly gone. But my favorite thing is that you can hardly see his scar. A few more weeks of hair growth and you'll have to search for it. I don't care what my plastic surgeon bills. It was worth it.

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