Thursday, February 24, 2011

My new get rich quick scheme

So I have an idea.

It's brilliant.

It's going to make me a fortune!

Here's how it goes: every time a doctor or and kind of medical professional utters the words "It's very rare" they have to pay me $5.  That's it.  Simple as that.

Because in my household, rare is what we do.

Take me for example:  I have a neurological condition that affects 1 in 100,000 women.  Pretty good odds, right?

Then I gave birth in the car.  I think the odds on that are around 1 in 300.

Max has craniosynostosis, a condition that affect approximately 1 in 4,000 babies.  After surgery #1, he had a very rare complication. Then he was one of the lucky 5% that has to have more than one operation. Then he had the same very rare complication again. I'll leave it up to you brilliant math people to figure out those odds.

Then there's all the other Max Medical Drama.  I shake my head at the craziness of it all, and all the times we were told "Well, this is really unexpected."  or "This complication is very rare." 

But we've been doing good for a few months.  I was the only one who managed to get myself hospitalized, and I got a baby out of it, so that was good.

Even Ashlynn getting strep throat last week didn't phase me much. 

What did worry me was when the baby spiked a fever Saturday night while my husband was in Vegas.  I'll give you a hint: never google "Fever in a 3 month old" at 3 o'clock in the morning when you're up with a crying baby and your husband is in another state.I waited until morning to call my pediatrician who told me we were safe to wait it out at home as long as nothing got worse. I thought we were out of the woods by Sunday night when my husband was home and Ian's fever started to go down.

Unfortunately, his coughing and breathing kept getting worse, and yesterday morning, his fever was back, and so off to the pediatrician we went.

A fever in a barely 3 month old is usually cause for concern anyway, but a fever plus a rattling cough is bad news.  Honestly, I was prepared to be sent to the hospital overnight.  It didn't help my confidence any when the doctor heard Ian cough and said "I hope he doesn't have whooping cough."

She listened to him, checked his ears and eyes, and then looked at me and said "You know, I'm going to run a strep test just in case.  It would be extremely rare for a baby this age to have strep, but just to be on the safe side..."

Five minutes later, she cam back to tell me that my three month old did indeed have the first case of strep she'd ever seen in a baby this young.  Incidentally, this is twice we've given the pediatrician something she's never seen before.  And she's not a brand new doctor.  Yes, we're all about the education opportunities here. (Maybe I should be charging for those too...)

The doc also wrote us a prescription to have Ian's nose suctioned a few times this week so that he can breathe and so that we might all be able to sleep again.  Both times I've been to the hospital these past two days, everyone who find out Ian has strep has said "That's so rare!  I've never heard of that before!"

I'm telling you, I'm already planning the giant house, the tropical vacations, the hired help...

(And I'm already planning on the other two kids getting strep as well.  Because that's just how we roll...)

(And if you're wondering, I am actually feeling better.  Now that I know that my baby doesn't need to be hospitalized, I'm actually glad it was strep throat because it's so treatable!  A shot of penicillin later and my baby is back to his happy, smiling, snotty self.  Thank heavens.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Middle Child Syndrome

This is Ashlynn.
Despite being the second of our four children, she is most definitely a middle child.

She's in the middle of a chaos sandwich: on the one side, you have Abby: the oldest, the violinist.  Abby's very talented, and there are times that the whole family gets turned upside down to accomodate a lesson, a rehearsal or a performance.  Abby is on stage a lot, and gets a lot of recognition and praise for what she does.

On the other side of the sandwich are the two boys.  First, you have Max, and all his Max-ness.  And while it's not his health issues that are currently monopolizing the spotlight, he is two years old.  He's amazingly cute and can throw a wicked tantrum, often within minutes of each other.  Then there's Ian,who just by virtue of being a baby, commands lot of attention, love and face time.

Lately, we've been super worried about Ashlynn feeling lost in the middle.

A few weeks ago, Abby and I played for my Grandma's funeral, and later that night, Abby had a violin recital.  As we left the recital, Ashlynn was crying.  "No one even cares about me. Everyone only cares about Abby and her stupid violin."

Sigh.  No matter how much you tell a seven year old that you love her just as much her sister, when she's spent the day watching her sister get praised from all sides, she'll never believe it.

As of late, the violin thing has become a real issue.  You see, we started Ashlynn on violin at the ripe old age of almost four, just like we did her sister.  It lasted less than 6 months.  Even at that young age, Ashlynn recognized that she couldn't do what Abby could do, and translated that to mean that she wasn't as loved.(Plus there was the small matter of 5 minutes of practicing for every 30 minutes of crying.)  It just wasn't worth continuing.

So we decided that Ash needed something of her own and enrolled her in gymnastics.  She loved it, but still felt slighted because she didn't have concerts, recitals, or endless practice time with Mom.  When we moved 2 1/2 years ago, we couldn't find a gymnastics program that measured up to the one we had been attending before. 

Ashlynn started begging for piano lessons about the same time.  I was reluctant for a lot of reasons- finding a piano teacher, enrolling in a new studio, practicing with a second child everyday.  It all sounded very intimidating.  But she kept begging.  And when the gymnastics didn't work out, I bit the bullet and found her a teacher.

She's doing quite well.  We're managing to practice most days, and either we're still in the Honeymoon phase, or she just really likes it.  But for some reason, it still isn't enough.  She still compares herself to her sister, and no amount of talking and pleading can convince her that she's amazing just because she's Ashlynn. I can tell she still feels like she's getting the short end of the stick sometimes, and she's probably right.

The thing is, Ashlynn is low maintenance.  She doesn't require trips to Salt Lake twice a week for violin, she doesn't need diaper changes or constant nursing, or to be watched like a hawk so she doesn't cover her hair and everything else in arm's reach in lotion.  Ashlynn is the most likely to play with her brothers, color the picture for Mom and Dad to make us smile or to do a job without asking.  She tries so hard to be sweet and kind and good. I was a middle child too, and remember feeling like I wasn't getting any attention because I wasn't getting into trouble.  I thought that I should get attention just for being good, but in my crazy and chaotic family, it was the squeaky wheels that got the grease, and I'm worried that sometimes her quiet goodness and sweetness are getting lost in the shuffle.

So, smart moms out there, how do you balance?  How do you nurture your "middle children?"  How do you make sure everyone gets equal time, love and affection without anyone getting slighted, even if they are easy?  (In other words, I'm still trying to figure out how to have four kids!  Help!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Please tell me I'm not the only one

~Who feels more wound up than an over-tuned violin string.

~Who doesn't know if she can do bedtime by herself one more night.

~Who is crazy, insanely jealous of the husband who is on (yet another) business trip because he gets to eat three meals a day without someone complaining, crying or wanting to nurse in the middle of it.  And he gets to sleep.  In a bed.  By himself.

~Who contemplated leaving the sick seven year old in charge of the two year old and the sleeping baby to run to the store to get a Diet Coke.  Because really, who runs out of Diet Coke on a day like this?

~Who thinks that one more illness- any illness, in any of us, even the snotty nose variety- might prompt me to run, screaming, to any place warm and sanitized.  Either that or I might move in next door to the pediatrician's office.

~Who has a Visiting Teacher who called, and upon hearing that my husband was out of town and that my kids were sick, responded, "I'm sorry.  I hope things get better.  I'll count this for our visit and we'll talk next month."

~Who has an unidentifiable stink coming from somewhere in the kitchen area and is too afraid to go find out what it is.

~Who looks somewhat put together (I have to teach this afternoon, or I'd still be wearing my trashy pajamas) but feels like they're falling apart.

~Who sometimes looks at their four kids and wonders who they are and when their mom is going to come pick them up because you're pretty sure you're just 19 years old and your biggest problem is the stupid Rode Caprice that you're supposed to have prepared for your violin lesson the next morning.

~Who, upon seeing all four of your kids crying at once this morning, (one because he's a baby and that's what he does, one because he's a two year old and he woke up too early and wanted Dad to get him out of the crib when Daddy was on a plane to Vegas, one because it was her second day with strep throat and she feels miserable, and one because she's nine and that's what she does lately, and because she was faking sick so she could stay home with everyone else) wanted to hide in corner with a trashy novel and play iPhone games all day long.

~Who is worried that she'll put on five pounds from all the chocolate she's contemplating eating to feel better.

~Who is worried that the leaning mountain of clean and dirty laundry in this house might fall over and suffocate someone if they breathe on it wrong.

~Who is contemplating taking explosives to the house and rebuilding, because really, it might be faster than cleaning everything up.

~Who is really doubting her ability to be the "strong one."

~Who apologizes for whining, and promises to pull herself together sometime soon.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just in case I need blackmail material in the future

This is what happens when I clean off memory cards that I haven't looked at in a while.  I get some good laughs, and you get a blog post full of random pictures that I thought were funny.
Brotherly love.  Especially when Max spreads that booger he's working on all over Ian.

Ian and Grandpa were very good this Christmas.

One of the many, many, many snowstorms we've had this winter.

This is one of approximately 647 self-portraits we have of Abby.

Now this one is a mystery to me.  Why exactly is my daughter getting beaten with the remote control?  And why is she smiling about it?

Never mind, maybe it wasn't that fun after all.
Now this is a real gem- a picture of the picture hanging in our front room.  (I never promised these were going to be good pictures...)

 There's a baby in the violin case!
 I think I was about 32 weeks pregnant with Ian in this picture.  Frightening.  There's a reason I never uploaded this...
 Max the lady killer.
 "Big Helper!" Max reminds us as he rearranges the silverware.
This is what I wish I was doing right now.  Yawn.  If only he slept this well at 4:30 am, when he's convinced it's morning.
                                                  This is what Ian really thinks of the violin.
Are you sensing my "sleep-deprived" theme?

Could I be any cuter?  Probably not.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Road trips and Fireworks: A Valentine's Day story

Let's take a stroll down Memory Lane, shall we? 

It's Valentine's Day 1997.  "Foolish Games" by Jewel and "How Do I Live" by Leann Rimes were playing on every radio, Dolly the Sheep had just been cloned, and I was a freshman living on campus at the University of Utah.  Because I was a freshman, and because my parents firmly believed that a college student should not live at home, I was living in the dumpiest of dumpy dorms, in a building so bad that not only have I blocked out its name, but it has long since been both condemned and demolished.

Although our living spaces were small, our communal bathrooms were so nasty that you had to wear flip flops to take a shower or risk a foot disease, and our kitchen was three flights down and constantly smelled like rancid Korean food, we had a lot of fun that year.  There was a group of seven or eight of us that made it through the year together, freshman fifteen, missionaries leaving, the horror that was Biology 101 and all. 

This particular Valentine's Day found me in a foul mood.  I've never loved Valentine's Day, (or as we called it, "Single Awareness Day") but I was unusually grumpy that evening, and decided to do something about it.  I went down to the kitchen, took stock of my friends were also sitting around bemoaning their single-ness and declared, "I'm going on a road trip.  Who's coming?"

I was one of the only one of my friends with a car.  The fact that it had four tires full of air and went above 55 miles an hour on the freeway outweighed the fact that it was a two-toned brown 1983 Ford Escort.  
This is very close to what my infamous car looked like.  You're jealous, admit itThis car was actually much better than the one that came after it, a baby blue 1985 Ford Tempo, which was aptly nicknamed "The walrus."

And since they were bored, tired of hanging around the dorms all day long, or actually wanted to celebrate Single Awareness Day with me, about five of my friends jumped at the words "road trip." 

It wasn't until we packed six of us into my tiny five seater that we realized we had no idea where we were going.  They asked me, thinking I had some kind of master plan. We debated our options.  North led us to Idaho, and Idaho was boring.  South could lead us to Vegas, but we all had to be in class the next day, so South was out.  West led to lots of Great Salt Lake Desert.  The dorms would be more exciting.  East it was.

Heading East had the extra bonus of getting to another state in a little less more than an hour.  Hitting Evanston, Wyoming had never been so exciting.  And as everyone from Utah knows, there are three options for excitement in Evanston that you can't find in Utah: drive-thru beer, porn, and illegal fireworks.  Since we were mostly good kids, we passed on the porn and the beer and went straight for the illegal fireworks.  We pooled our money and had enough to buy approimately two fireworks, (what did I tell  you about living in the ghetto dorms!) and piled back in the car. 

We arrived back on campus in what felt like the middle of the night.  We debated all the way home about what to actually do with the fireworks.  As soon as I parked the car, the debate was over.  Brandon, our resident pyro, ran up to his dorm room and found some matches, and herded us all out into the middle of the quad.  We shot off our two glorious fireworks, each of them rocketing high enough to be seen everywhere on campus. We couldn't decide if we should be giggling or running before the police caught us.  In the end, we retreated back to the dorms when we heard the sirens to watch a horrible romantic comedy on the tiny nearly-dead tv on the boys' floor, congratulating ourselves on the best Single Awareness Day ever.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


To say this was an interesting weekend is a major understatement.   Any time we take our (not so little) family and spend the weekend with lots of extended family, there's bound to be lot of both laughter and tears.  Add in some relatives you know, some you barely know, and some that you've never seen before in your life, and you've got a downright rocking party.  Throw in a drive to middle of nowhere Idaho, (and no, I'm not just talking about Boise here,) and you can see why I'm just now starting to resume real life. 

In all seriousness, this weekend was a wonderful juxtaposition of family, friends, grief and celebration.  It was an honor to sit at my Grandma's funeral, celebrating the life of an amazing woman who touched so many lives. There were lots of tears, a little bit of laughter, and unlike most sacrament meetings, we didn't have to chase Max to the podium even once.  (That's a miracle in and of itself!) 

You know what was most fascinating and intriguing?  The group of women, occupying three rows on the side near the back, wearing bright red, showy hats and purple shirts and dresses.  I remember reading something about the red hat society a long time ago, and realized that these women knew and loved my grandma in a way that I never did.  Growing up, you think your grandma is and has always been old.  Seeing red hats and purple boas reminded me that Grandma had friends, interests, goals and ambitions that I probably never knew about.

We buried her on Saturday, in what has to be one of the most middle-of-nowhere-est places in Idaho.  Great Grandma and Grandpa Harrison owned and worked a farm ouside of the bustling metropolis of Bancroft, ID, population 327.  The cemetery was small, quiet and deserted.  My dad told me they had to pay the town an extra $125 so that they would plow the lane leading to the cemetery.  The wind whipped through us, making a joke of the few pine trees that were planted as a wind break.  I zipped the baby into the coat with me, and watched Max kick the snow while we said our last goodbyes.  While Max's antics got a glare or two from the aformentioned relatives we've never met before, I think Grandma would have gotten a good chuckle out of it.

And then Sunday we blessed our baby.  At first, we thought we should postpone, deferring to the funeral.  My mom asked us to continue with our plans, telling us that we needed some joy to mix in with the sorrow.  So we spent Sunday celebrating our new little boy. 

Events like this feel like paydays for me.  You know, the reward for nights spent walking the floors with a crying baby, for the spit up and the poop, for the tears, (mine and his!) and all the worry and grief.  There is something so precious about seeing my husband bless our son.

And can I just say that Ian needs to slow down?  I think it's completely unfair that the last few months of pregnancy are so long, and then the first few months of infancy fly by before you can even figure out what happened.  My tiny little newborn is now a round cheeked, fat and happy baby boy who shocked himself by rolling over the other night, and who has so many ripples in his thighs that he could be mistaken for a minature Sumo wrestler.  Did I mention he was a solid 12 lbs 14 oz when I took him for a two month checkup? Yes, the 0-3 months clothes have been packed away for the next tiny baby, who most certainly won't be coming from this house!  I'm not sure I'm okay with Ian getting so big, but I'm just as sure that there's not a darn thing I can do about it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Grandma Call

 Marjorie Helen Harrison Garner Call, age 83, died 30 January 2011, a result of pancreatic cancer. Marge was born in 1927 in Providence, Utah. She was raised in Caribou County, Idaho on a farm in the former township of Central, and educated at the nearby schools in Grace, Idaho. She lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Korean War. In 1946 she married Dewey D. Garner and moved to Utah (later divorced). They had one son and four daughters: Gary (Elizabeth), Linda, Lynette (Bruce) Petersen, Shauna Swena, and Lisa Hunter. She married George H. Call in 1961 and they had a son, Ralph (Kathy). Marjorie enjoyed an active life. She loved singing and participated in various singing groups in the Salt Lake Valley. She traveled extensively from coast to coast in the U.S. and also explored the Caribbean, Mexico, Germany, and Switzerland. She was a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Marjorie is survived by her children; stepdaughter, Pauline (Rod) Torgersen; 30 grandchildren; 44 great-grandchildren; and her sister, Sharon (Russ) Hawks. She is preceded in death by her parents; husband, George; sister, Betty; brother, Lynn; and four grandchildren. Services will be Friday, February 4, 2011, 12:00 noon at the LDS. Kearns 16th Ward Chapel, 4300 West 4715 South, Kearns, Utah where a viewing will be held, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. prior to funeral service. Arrangements: McDougal Funeral Home.

My Grandma Call died this week of Pancreatic cancer.  It's odd that a woman who lived for 83 years can have her life summarized in two hundred or so words in the local newspaper. 

While she was never the milk-and-cookies kind of grandma, she was a constant presence in our lives growing up.  One of our biggest Christmas traditions as children revolved around "Grandma Call's Christmas Party," a Christmas Eve bash at her house.  We would be surrounded by relatives we only saw once a year at her house ("Now who do you belong to again?" was a common question that we dreaded,) eat chili (laughing that those that mixed noodles in,) and light the actual fire-hazard candles on her Christmas tree while we sang "Silent Night."  Christmas Eve was never the same after she moved the party to her local church on a random Saturday afternoon.

Grandma was always supportive of my music, and would be irritated if I didn't call and invite her to all my performances.  She loved to sing, and frequently told me that we should find a duet to play together in her ward.  I used to roll my eyes at being asked to bring my violin over to play for her.  Now I laugh as Abby does the same thing, realizing how much it really does mean to people. 

Grandma loved my babies, and was always thrilled to hold them, talk to them and make faces at them.  She was thrilled to meet Ian a few weeks ago, and held him, sang to him and whispered secrets to him.  She also never failed to mention that she thought the outfits I dressed the babies in were ridiculous, and that when she had her babies, they dressed them all in kimonos until they were six months old because they were warm and comfortable. 

There are two funny stories about Grandma Call and names that will go down in our family history lore.  When I was pregnant with Max, before we knew it was Max, we were discussing possible girl names around the Sunday dinner table.  Out of nowhere, Grandma piped up, "I think you should name the baby Frederika."  We all giggled, thinking she was joking.  Turns out she wasn't.  "What?" she continued, "It's a beautiful family name, and then you could call her Freddie."  Someday we'll tell Max that if he was born a girl, he would have been Frederika Smith.

The second story also revolved around a Sunday dinner.  As we were cleaning up from the meal, we heard Grandma keep calling, "Bill!"  "Bill!"  "BILL!"  Finally, she gently slugged my husband and asked "Bill!  Why aren't you answering me?"  Bless my sweet, confused husbands' heart, he looked at Grandma and said "Are you talking to me?  My name's Tom."  She muttered something about being sure that his name was Bill.  We teased her about that until the very end.  And I will still call my husband Bill occasionally.

I talked with her on the phone a few times right after she was diagnosed.  She told me "You know, looking back, I wish I had played with my children more.  It didn't matter that the clothes weren't washed or the dishes weren't done.  I should have gotten down on the floor and spent more time with them."  Words I'm trying to remember.

I read this in the guestbook to her obituary today: "I can't think of Marge, without thinking of flowers. She was the one who helped me realize that no matter how much you need to plant tomatoes, it's always good to plant some flowers too."  I'll plant some flowers this spring for her.

Abby and I are playing at the funeral tomorrow.  I'm grateful to be able to give her that final, musical tribute.  Hope she likes it.
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