Sunday, July 28, 2013

North Shore Camping Trip, or How Spiff Saved the Day

This is the story of our impromptu camping trip.  It can also be known as the very definition of how you can take The Boy out of Oregon, but you should never take The Oregon out of the Boy.

Spiff had an unprecedented three days off in a row this week at then end of his latest rotation.  He's done with his month as a Junior Resident in the ICU, and he couldn't be happier to truly never be an intern again.  So we celebrated by taking an impromptu camping trip.  We drove up to the MN North Shore of Lake Superior. We headed out of town as soon as Spiff got off work from overnight call (which meant that he slept while I drove the 5-6 hours with Gunner chomping at the bit to Just Get There Already!!!), with our fingers crossed that we would find a camp site when we got up there.  All of the State Park Campsites were full when we got there, but we were lucky enough to find a lovely, almost empty, rustic State Forest campsite about three miles inland from the shore. 

When we found our campsite, we got to work setting up the tent.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, so after getting things mildly set up, we headed back up the road to see some sites.  We hiked around at Split Rock State Park and toured the lighthouse.  It is run by the historical society, and they have people in costume answering questions as they let everyone tour around in all of the old buildings.  The lighthouse keeper's house was my favorite, and the costume dudes had the old wood-burning stove in the kitchen running.  So cool!  We hiked down to the shore and threw rocks in the lake and had a great time.
Split Rock Lighthouse

When we got done with that, we headed south to buy firewood at a little town, and it started raining.  Spiff remembered that he had left the kids' clothing bag outside of the tent...and the fly of the tent wide open.  Remember how it was sunny when we left camp?  It was just sprinkling where we were driving, and we hoped it wouldn't be that bad.

BUT...when we got back to our campsite, we found 3 inches of standing water in our tent!!!  Gah!!!!!

Our sleeping bags were soaked.  Most of the kids' clothes were completely wet!  Spiff said a few choice words.  I cried a little.

Let me just say that this is the very first time in the nine years I have known Spiff that he has not closed up every flap on the fly and guyed out every line.  My Oregon Boy knows how to camp in the rain, and he never trusts a sunny sky.  And this is the very reason why!

We almost drove to a hotel, but after spending six hours driving to get there, I just couldn't fathom telling the kids to get back in the car.  I started moving stuff around in the car so we could sleep in the van.  But this is where Spiff gets really cool.  He adopted an amazingly positive attitude and started working on the tent.  He began bailing out the tent by soaking up the water with a chamois towel.  We turned on the heater in the car and used up a third of a tank of gas drying off our sleeping bags and mats.  And he actually did it!  I never would have thought it possible, but we slept in the tent that night, and we were mostly dry.  I am so grateful for an awesome husband who buys good camping gear.  Our little trip could so easily have been a complete bust, and it wasn't because he saved it.  I heart him.

Soooo, after a dry night of sometimes sleeping (who ever thinks that camping with a 2-year-old is a good idea?!?!), we woke up to a cold and rainy day.  Fifty degrees at the end of July?!  Ooookay.  I wasn't planning on that.  The kids were wet and frozen, so we hopped in the car and drove South to Duluth and went to the Tall Ships Festival.  Spiff and I had a great time drooling over all of the beautiful ships!  I loved it.  The kids, less so, but it was so cool that I didn't care that Gunner was super grumpy and Hobbes was ridiculously tired and crazy.  This was definitely worth seeing.

We spent the evening at our campsite where the kids rode their little bikes around.  We ate dinner, built a camp fire, enjoyed each other, and then all slept like babies.

We broke camp the in the morning, drove South and saw the waterfall at Gooseberry Falls State Park, and then drove home.  This is definitely one of my all-time favorite family trips.  Memorable in every way.  I have never been to the North Shore before, and I loved it.  So many fun things to do!  I can't wait to go back.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ten to Fourteen Days

Here is the picture I was going to put up with my last post, but forgot to.  This is how Spiff prepared Gunner for surgery.  He brought home this anesthesia mask and had the boys anesthetize Best Friend, The Bear.  He taught them how to put the mask on his face and say, "Take a Deep Breath."  Thus the title of my last post.  Gunner got it quickly, and I hope it made him a little less afraid of the OR.  But really, it was Hobbes who won my heart with this as he put the bear to sleep saying, "Now this bear is sweeping.  Wake up, bear!"

Aaaand, now on to less awesome things.  The last 10-14 days: A 4-year-old's recovery from tonsillectomy.  Sheesh, it was hard.  The first 24 hours were like a honeymoon period.  He ate well, slept well, drank well, acted fairly normal.  We even went to storytime at the library because he seemed fine.  I was shocked and thought that it might not be so bad after all.

Then the honeymoon ended, and the pain hit him.  He acted like a sick sick sick little boy for several days.  Lots of napping, lots of flushy red face, lots of grumpy.  I felt so bad for him.

He had good times when he felt almost normal, and it was hard for all of us to remember that he needed to take it easy.  I arranged for Hobbes to play at a friend's house for a couple of hours one day.  I thought it would be nice to Gunner to have some special one-on-one time with Mom.  But Gunner was just super mad at me that he couldn't go play, too.  I took him out to get ice cream for lunch, and he grumped at me the whole time until he fell asleep on the drive home and took a 2-hour nap.

The hardest part of the whole thing was the medicine.  The doctor told us to give him regular old Tylenol and Ibuprofen for pain.  We had to give it to him every 3-4 hours, around the clock.  This meant we were waking him up at night to give him his doses.  Can you see the problems with this?

1) He got really tired of taking his medicine.  It seemed like we were dosing him every time we turned around.  It didn't help that the stuff didn't taste good.  It also didn't make him feel immediately better, so he didn't think it helped him at all.

2) His throat really really hurt, and liquids were the hardest to swallow.  After a couple of days, he decided that he did not want to swallow them anymore.  He flat out refused to take his medicine because it hurt.  So every 3-4 hours, we got to have an awesome 30-40 minute fight with him about taking his medicine. 
Me: "You need to take your medicine, Honey." 
Him: "No, I'm not going to do it!"
Me: "It will help you feel better."
Him: "No, it won't.  I doesn't do anything.  I'm not taking it."
Repeat.  Gah!

3) Nights were a big problem.  During the day, he was talking, eating, swallowing, and things were mostly fine.  But at night, he was breathing dry air, and his throat dried out and hurt a lot more.  He was upset when we woke him up because he was happy sleeping (Oh, the irony of that!!!), and he was even more upset that he had to take yet another dose.  None of us are happy people at 2 a.m., and that made for unhappy dosing wars.

4) I tried waking him up on a regular schedule for the first few days so that we could control the pain better.  But when that stopped working because he was mad about being woken up and having to take medicine, I let him sleep until he woke up on his own.  That was another problem because then his medicine had worn off, his throat was dry, and he was in a lot of pain.  It was so awful.  He told me several nights in a row, "I don't think I will ever feel better."  I spent a lot of midnight hours that week cuddling him, telling him that I know he hurts, and that I know it stinks.  I told him stories about how our bodies take time to heal, and that I know he will get better eventually because I have hurt before and I have gotten better.  It was a lesson in patience for me, for sure, and an amazing opportunity for me to cuddle my little boy and do my best to help him through something really hard for him.

I think it's interesting how these parenting experiences can sometimes draw up parallel views of our lives here on earth.  Unlike me, Gunner has no experience to draw upon that let him know that things will turn out okay, that he will heal and eventually feel normal. He doesn't know how to see past the pain and know that it was necessary and good for him. 

I can imagine that Heavenly Father is looking down on us when we despair during our trails.  He does His very best to comfort us, to tell us that it will be okay, that our hearts will heal, that we will learn and grow and be better people if we can endure to the end.  Like Gunner, I stubbornly say, "Nope, I'm never going to feel better.  I'm never going to heal from this.  Why did you do this to me?!  It's all your fault!  Why did you ever call the doctor?!?!  I wish you didn't have a phone!  I'm going to throw your phone in the garbage!"  (Wait, that's what Gunner said to me. Hahaha!)  And Heavenly Father comforts me even more with his infinite patience and love.

I appreciate the lesson I learned here and times when I can see my life through more of an eternal perspective.  I need to work on being more patient and loving with my children who have even less of experience than I do of enduring through trials.

And now, 14 days out, Gunner is feeling so much better, thank goodness.  It took him a week to sleep all the way through the night, and each day and night is better since then.  A friend recommended putting a humidifier in his room at night (why didn't I think of that?!), and giving him chewable medicine instead of liquid.  Both made a world of difference.  The most amazing thing is that he told Spiff one morning, unprompted, that he could tell that he was breathing more easily without those huge tonsils in the way.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Take a Deep Breath

Gunner had his tonsils taken out today.  Hobbes understands this to mean that Gunner's tongue is broken.  Enough said.

Well, maybe not.  It's such a routine thing that I almost feel bad writing about it.  Every kid gets their tonsils out.  Big deal.

But it is a big deal.  To me.  And to him.  Boy, I feel so bad for him right now.  We have now had the pleasure of taking him into the hospital for two surgeries.  Remember this (here, here and here)?  He is a healthy little boy, so it's hard for me as a mom to take my healthy, spunky, energetic little guy into the hospital, knowing that he's going to come home broken, sore and miserable.

He was actually pretty excited about this surgery.  We must have done a good job talking it up.  Either that, or he knew that he would get extra special attention, so it must be cool.  We took him in to meet with the ENT Doc last week, who is a really nice guy who loves kids and has four of his own, three of which have undergone ENT surgeries.  He was super nice to Gunner, and he made him feel special.

Then he got extra special mommy/Gunner time this morning, and all of the staff this morning was really great.  They treated him well, they asked him questions, gave him a special stuffed fish to hold, and let him wear special hospital jammies and slippers.  Daddy even got out of some duties in the ICU to be with him in the OR as they anesthetized him.  Surgery was going to be great.

And then it is what it is, and he wakes up hurting and disoriented, and he realizes the unpleasant realities that are surgery.  He said, "I'm not ever coming back here again.  I would have said No No No to surgery!  Don't call the doctor anymore, Mom.  I'll take your phone and never give back to you."

It's going to be a long couple of weeks.  But when all is said and done, it will be good for him.  The surgeon said that Gunner's tonsils were huge!  It definitely needed to be done.  Hopefully he will sleep better and be a happier little guy eventually.

Also, I didn't know about Adenoid Facies, which is when the cheeks elongate because the person is mouth breathing and struggling to breathe with every inhalation.  That's scary to me.  The ENT also said that Gunner was already showing some signs of facial development issues, so it's really good that we pulled those suckers out!  This is something that will sort itself out after a while since he won't have to breathe out of his mouth so much anymore.  Not permanent, thankfully.

A few more things:
Having him in the hospital for even a few hours makes me very very very very grateful for my healthy children.  I feel for every sick child and their families who spend so much time in the hospital that it becomes the norm for them.  That should never be a norm for a child.

Also, thank you, Maggie, for watching Hobbes for us today.  It gave me peace of mind knowing he was in good hands, and probably happier than if he had been at home with me.  He loves you. :)

My fridge and freezer are stocked with ice cream, popsicles, applesauce, pudding, jello, juice, and the makin's for smoothies galore.  It's going to be a nutrition free-for-all for the next couple of weeks until my poor little guy gets better.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

The Thing About Little Boys

I keep thinking of writing a new post for the ol' blog, and then I sit down at the computer, and I can think of nothing to say.  We have been enjoying Summer.  My boys are getting so big.  I have taken too few pictures.  I'm enjoying my boys during this season, and so I'm going to ramble on about them for a bit.

Hobbes at 2 and a Half.
Boy, do I love this kid!  I am loving this age!
He is old enough to be settled, he can talk coherently in complete sentences, while still speaking enough gibberish to make his speech completely adorable still.
He sleeps through the night (mostly).  When he does wake up in the night, I can talk to him and reason him back to sleep.
He is starting to enjoy pretend play.
He is developing a sense of humor, and he loves a good joke.  (He hollered from his bed to let us know that he was awake this morning, and then when Spiff went down to get him, he found Hobbes lying down in his bed, eyes closed, big smile on his face, pretending to be asleep.  Silly kid!)
He adores his brother and loves everything that Gunner loves.
He thinks that all prayers need to be said by the person asked to pray AND by him.  He accompanies every prayer with his meandering little thoughts.  I love this.
I love that he can climb out of his crib, but he doesn't because he wants that sticker on his reward chart that I have promised him if he stays in bed.  He knows that many stickers on the chart equals mom taking him out for ice cream.  What a good boy!
He is so happy, and he simply loves life.

Gunner at 4 and a Half.
He is 4 going on 14.  He is growing up, and he's going through a new phase of independence.  He's my first, so I am figuring this out with him every new day, and I know I'm making mistakes with him.  It's hard for me because he is my little boy, yet he so badly wants to be big.  I say to myself, "He's only four!" and then in the same thought think, "Yes, but he's almost five."  He is a big kid.  I know that he can probably handle more responsibility than I allow him, and I can see that he craves it.  Yet I can't seem to let go of that level of control that I have always had with him, and I pass over learning opportunities.  Aaaaand on the other hand, he resists responsibilities we do give him because he would rather play.  (Enter the daily job of setting the table.  It is always a fight.)

And then there are the seven hundred times a day when he asks for a hug from his mama, or when he asks to sit on my lap while we read books (really, he's too tall for this to be comfortable).  He is still my little guy, and I'm grateful for that.

I love that he is excited about participating in primary.  Giving a talk means extra attention, which equals awesomeness.
I love that, while he refuses to sing during singing time at church, he listens and learns.  He sings all the primary songs at home.
He loves to read.  His current favorite book series is Tintin.
He feels his friendships so deeply, and he honestly grieves when a friend moves away.

Both of them together:
I love that they play together, when they're not fighting.
I love that it's Summer and that they love to be outside.
They love a walk to the playground.
They love love love LOVE to ride their bikes.  They zip around our cul-de-sac like they own it, Gunner on his 10-inch hand-me-down, spray-painted two-wheeler.  Hobbes on the Strider.  It is their very most favorite activity, and I hear these words from Hobbes multiple times a day: "Wear hemet, wide bike!!!"
I love their enthusiasm for life.
I love that they both equally love ice cream, candy and gum in any form.


I remember going in for my 20-week ultrasound when I was pregnant with Gunner.  We were finding out the gender of our baby, and I was certain that we were going to have a girl.  We had a girl name all picked out and I was already envisioning my life with my girl.  Then when we found out that Gunner was most certainly a boy, I was shocked, and admittedly sad.  It took me several days to get over it, until I got this piece of advice from another mother of little boys.  She said, "You will love your boy.  Little boys love their mamas in a way that girls never can.  Your boy will be like the boyfriend you never had."

And it's true.  I do love my little boys.  I was afraid of boy things, and I am still uncomfortable with a lot of it that I just don't understand (Why do they love fighting?!  Why?!).  They are rough and tumble, and they have way too much energy, but they are sweet and sensitive, and they have deep feelings and emotions.  Having boys in my home has helped me to understand my husband, and come to think of it, all the little boys I knew when I was a little girl.  These kids are my best little pals, and I'm honored that they trust me the way that they do.   I'm also honored to have the chance to raise them.  Such an overwhelming responsibility, but such a great one, too.