Monday, April 30, 2012

Around the House

I don't have a full post in my head right now, but I have compiled a list of quotes from around our house. Some of these go back several weeks.

"I'm gonna eat lunch at Grandma's... I don't know who Aunt Tricia's people are." - Ella, in response to the news that Aunt Tricia was bringing us lunch from the Christ Table ministry at her church the day after Dave came home from the hospital. And no, we don't generally talk in terms of someone's "people," so I have no idea where that came from.

Through the baby monitor, in the middle of the night, I heard Luke saying, "No-no. No-no." I went in to check on him and found that Ella had rolled over and snaked her arms around his so that he couldn't get away. Sometimes she sleeps in his bed if she falls asleep before he does on nights when I do bedtime for both of them.

"Mommy, will you just brush my teeth for me tonight? Because I have a wedding tomorrow." - Ella, at toothbrushing time Saturday night. I guess teeth need to be Mommy Clean for weddings? We did not actually attend a wedding, so this is a good example of our combination life - half real and half Ella's alternate reality. It's hard to keep it straight sometimes.

I did bedtime for both of them last night, so we were cuddled into Luke's bed. Ella was telling me all about their trip to the zoo that afternoon with Grandma and Pop the Pop. In the middle of it, Luke leaned over me and said, "Mama. Boo. Chicks. Baaak, baaak, baaak (chicken noises)."
Me: "You went to the zoo and saw chickens?"
He smiled.
Me: What else did you see?
Luke: Baby!
Me: A baby gorilla?
He smiled again.

I love that he's participating in the conversation now.

And for fun, another photo comparison of my offspring that do not look like me.

Ella at 21 months, after her tonsil/adenoid/tube surgery.

Luke at 20 months, after his tube/adenoid surgery.
That juice cup he's holding? That was a serious situation. After fasting for 16 hours, he was thirsty. The nurse told us he woke up from the anesthesia reaching for the cup. Not a single tear, just reaching for the cup. He drank 16 ounces in the hour or so we waited to go home, and another 4 on the way. Withholding his "ju-ju" was by far the hardest part of his surgery experience.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Family Foto Fun

More classic Roper picture takin' from Easter. We got some really good ones, but these are the silliest and most typical of us.

The first one is just perfect. Luke's tongue wouldn't stay in, Ella looked like a precious little angel gangster, Georgia insists on being in family pictures, my eyes are closed, and Dave looks normal.

Classic Roper Family Photo

Waving at the neighbors. And my butt. 
 Luke was so serious about dying eggs this year that he cracked all of his because he was throwing them into the cups so hard.

Dying eggs. Notice the mess.

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Kids Don't Sleep Til Nine

People keep telling me about how their kids sleep til 8:30 or 9:00 in the mornings. Is this for real? In my world, that mythology ranks up there with kids who don't puke or who sleep through the night.

In my house, we consider 7:30 sleeping late - and that doesn't happen very often. Dave thinks it's fantastic, of course. I believe his exact quote when I mentioned someone's kid (maybe it was Jake) sleeping until 8:30 was, "That would be awful." Indeed.

At this point in my life, after being so well conditioned, I guess I would feel like I slept the day away if I didn't get up until 9:00. But it would be awesome to wake up occasionally of my own volition - without the alarm clock, or a request to put on a Barbie shoe or play a game of electronic fishing, or "Mamamamamamamamamamamamamama..." or "TV.Donald." Because it's really hard to catch fish and put on Barbie shoes when your fingers are still fumbly and your eyes are barely open. Sometimes I get so many requests before my feet are even on the floor that I have to say, "I haven't even peed or gotten a drink yet. You will have to give me a few minutes." In so many ways they are like their father, and this is one of them. Ella especially pops up out of bed ready to rock and roll, just like Dave. Luke will linger for a little while on the weekends, but he is notorious for waking up half an hour before the alarm goes off every weekday - and it doesn't matter what time the alarm is set for. I know it's only a matter of time before he's bringing me an armload of trains or cars or books first thing in the morning.

Last Tuesday we had to be at Children's Hospital at 6:30 in the morning for his surgery. He slept on the way there and rode to the waiting room in a wagon. Once we set up camp there, he needed to pull the wagon all over the place. As the room filled up, I noticed that all of the kids were bleary eyed and groggy. Except one. Mine. He was running laps and shouting "Mommy! Daddy!"

It's not that I resent their enthusiasm for each new day - I don't at all and I kinda wish I had the same enthusiasm, it's that I'm a nocturnal creature by nature. I go to bed these days right after the kids, usually by 9:00 because I get up early for work and for play, but I prefer to stay up much, much later. Usually with a book I can't put down. I don't wake up rearing to go, ever. Before we had kids it was an established rule in our house that I should not be spoken to until after I'd showered. Just like uninterrupted sleep and only cleaning up my own bodily fluids, that's just a vague memory now.

I know I'll get it back one day, the ability to sleep through the night and wake up on my own, and by then I'll be wishing for those little footsteps coming down the hall and the little voice calling me through the baby monitor. I'm not wishing it away, I'm just expressing my disbelief that actual, real, live, non-movie children sleep past 7:00 a.m.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's Me, It's Me, It's Me, Oh Lord

Standing in need of a prayer.

Yep. Asking for prayer again. Not for healing or the ability to cope and care for others, but for peace and strength and wisdom.

I had an epiphany during church this morning. No, strike that, I got smacked over the heart with a realization. I've been under attack. I'm talking about spiritual warfare. The devil.

Since Dave came home from the hospital, 6 weeks ago, I've been waking up at 4 in the morning several times a week thinking horrible, nightmarish thoughts. Thoughts that don't even get close to my mind in the daytime, but that keep me awake in a near panic until I finally give up and get out of bed or fall back asleep. Sometimes I can put them away from me in the light of day and sometimes they linger for days on end, making me bitter and anxious and hateful. It's been so confusing because I really seem to have no control over my mind during those times and they aren't things I believe, but it keeps happening.

I know what I need to do. I need to fill my heart and mind with the word of God. I need to pray out loud in the name of Jesus. I need to make sure I clothe myself every day in the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6: 10-17) because I know that the devil is alive and well and he's after my soul.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." - Ephesians 6:12
You see, when things are happening in your life that display God's glory, the devil hates it. And he'll do anything to stop it. This is a time in my life when I know without a doubt that God is working and that everything that is happening to us and around us is for His glory. My constant prayer since I was able to put more words around the "please God" has been that He use us to draw people closer to him. Obviously that's happening, else the devil wouldn't be visiting me at 4 o'clock in the morning.

So now I'm asking for another prayer - for protection of my mind, my heart, my soul. For my own strength to say, "Devil, I rebuke you in the name of Jesus; leave my mind." If you happen to wake up in the middle of the night and think of me, please, please pray. I probably need it. I probably need it all day long, too, but it's definitely worse at night.

In exchange, I'll be thanking God for every person who is praying for me though I don't know who or what or when.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Well It Certainly Sucks"

Monday afternoon I got a text from Dave: "It's coming out. Right on schedule I guess." He meant his hair. His oncologist told us it would start falling out 14 days after his first chemo treatment.

We didn't own any clippers, so that night at supper we discussed his options.
1. Go to Great Clips and ask them to shave it. - He didn't want to pay for it.
2. Cut it with scissors and shave it with a razor. - We didn't feel like doing it once Luke was asleep.
3. Get a Flowbee. - Which led to: "Oh, we could vacuum you!" He told me we'd do it and I could put it on the blog.

We don't have a Flowbee, but we do have a vacuum.
It worked about like it does on the dog; it got the loose hairs but didn't do much else. We decided to wait a day and see what happened.
He had a new party trick. He could pull out clumps of hair, and he did all day long until the floor in Luke's hospital room looked like this.
Has somenone been cutting hair in here?
We had to shave it. He was shedding everywhere. He even commented that he'd have to vacuum our stairs again if we didn't do something soon. So, on the way home from the hospital we stopped at Target to buy clippers.

He went to work when we got home - shaved it with clippers and then finished it with a razor.
Last look at Hairy Dave.

I think he loves his bald head.
Last night at bedtime, he made some threatening remarks about how cold his head was and the temperature at which I keep my sleeping chamber, so I found him a hat to sleep in. Touching the thermostat at bedtime is a no-no, even if you do have cancer and a bald head.

And so, he's bald. None of the kids freaked out about it because we made sure they were around for the whole shaving process. Jake was the most enthusiastic - feeling all over his head as if to ask, "What happened to your hair, Uncle Dave?"

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pediatric Hearing Tests

Or Scaring the Crap Out of Toddlers in the Name of Medicine

Three weeks ago we scheduled Luke's tube/adenoid/tonsil surgery for today. Last Friday, we got a call from our ENT's office telling us that he cannot do surgery any more and we were being referred to another ENT. That resulted in flurry of phone calls and another doctor's appointment yesterday. Because, you know, the surgeon actually wants to meet you before he operates on your kid.

We ended up at the ENT specialty clinic at Children's downtown. If you've never been to clinic there... well, I hope we don't have to go back. It sucks the life out of me. Everything moves so slow - so slow that they give you a paper when you sign in to explain why it moves so slow. That's all well and good unless you're riding herd on a busy toddler. At lunch time. I'll be sure that we schedule his follow up appointment at Children's South; it's just so much easier.

We started the clinic adventure with the audiologist. She checked for fluid in his ears; he has some. She asked a bunch of questions about his hearing, I told her he hears well and he already speaks in two and three word sentences. Then she put us in this really fun room with shelves full of toys. Luke got so excited. He was ready to play! And she shut us in. We didn't play.

I sat in a chair in the middle with him on my lap. There was a speaker on our right and one our left. My instructions were to hold him and pretend like I didn't hear anything. A sound came out of the right speaker, and he turned to look, right on cue. And he saw a flapping, robot penguin with a creepy light shining on it that we hadn't noticed before because it was hidden behind black glass in a dark box. It was flashlight-shining-on-your-chin-telling-ghost-stories-round-a-campfire creepy. He freaked out. I calmed him down and we got ready for the next sound. This one came from the left and it was same scenario, but not a penguin - some other robotic, flapping, creepy toy. He lost it again. We regrouped and waited. Then a bunny on a shelf above our heads start hopping and making a noise. We weren't recovering from that. He was climbing my body, shrieking and crying giant tears. I was done, on the verge of yelling for them to let us out of that Little House of Torture, when one of the ladies came in and sat with us. Apparently the first rounds of testing were inconclusive.

She distracted him with toys - the ones he was excited about playing with when we went in there - and they went through the noises again without the robotic animals. Luke Roper is nobody's fool. He was listening to the same sounds and refusing to turn his head toward the noise. I was feeling and watching him studiously ignore the sounds, and preparing my argument about how their testing was invalid since they scared the absolute crap out of him and then expected him to respond accurately. I didn't have to say anything. Either he flinched and moved his eyes enough to convince her, or she was watching my face and knowing what was coming. He passed his test and "hears really well for a child with fluid in his ears." Excuse me, but I believe that's what I said before we got locked in there. Whatever. I get why they do it, and I appreciate that they do it because if he needed intervention, that would be the place to start it. However, is it really necessary to scare the living crap out of a toddler with robotic, flapping, scary flashlight story telling animals? What do they have to do with the ability to hear sound?

Seriously, if anyone knows the answer to that, please enlighten me. I'm still a little ticked about it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Busy Living

We had a fantastic weekend. The kind that makes you miss the kids on Monday and puts you in a good mood to start the week.

It started at the ridiculously early hour of 5:30 a.m. on Saturday for Ready.Set.Cure. - which is a 5k fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. My sister decided while Dave was in the hospital that she and our friend, Kendall, were going to run it in his honor. I jokingly told her she should have t-shirts made that say "I hate cancer." Well, a few weeks later, she sent me a t-shirt design and I told her I wanted one but that I wanted it to say "Lymphoma Sucks". She redesigned them. And she made a special one for him.
Lymphoma Sucks has become my life theme right now. I also found a website that offers resources and support for young adult cancer patients and survivors called Stupid Cancer. It's my kinda place, where they focus on getting busy living and giving cancer the bird, so I ordered some bracelets for us. They give Ella an approved reason to use the word "stupid" and she's taking full advantage - as in last night at the supper table when she asked me, "Mommy, when will Daddy's stupid cancer be gone?"

Dave decided he would try to walk the 5k, so we did, and he pushed about 90 lbs. of stroller and kids half the way. And we finished in less than an hour. It was an amazing time! Thank you, Rebecca, for organizing it for us!
These people know lymphoma sucks but getting busy living doesn't.
After that, there was back porch swimming and back yard playing. Luke was naked, of course, and we had a little potty training milestone. He heard me tell Ella not to pee where we play, to go to the edge of the yard instead (because we don't have indoor plumbing, you know). A few minutes later, he left the little pool where he was playing and went to the edge of the patio to pee. Do you know what that means? Two very big things: 1. He knew he needed to go before it happened and 2. He had enough control to move to another place to do it. He's been waking up dry most mornings, so it might be time to get serious with this potty business. Yay! Diapers, your days are numbered.

At one point during Luke's celebration of nakedness, after Dave suggested that maybe he needs a pair of swim trunks if he's going to be playing all over the yard instead of swimming, the little dude army-crawled under the car. Naked. Chasing the cat. I had to tell him to crawl out the other side because I wasn't about to drag his little naked self out from under there by the ankle. Swim trunks indeed, but I think Dave will have to be in charge of putting them on and off, on and off, because I know that's what's going to happen.

Then we played cars and chased the cat (she can't get a break) and cooked on the grill. The kids didn't go to bed as early as we planned because we were having too much fun, but that's okay.

Sunday, we went to church and it was my turn to work in the nursery. I got a little caught up in the play and forgot where we were until the shrieking reached playground level when I suddenly remembered that they could probably hear us in church. Oops. After church we had lunch and a big fat nap, then Dave lopped down the camellias and put Luke to work dragging sticks to the street. He was very proud of his job.

Even little ones have to earn their keep.
 In the middle of camellia cutting, Dave decided he needed a chainsaw, so we rode down the street to The Shed to borrow one. That turned into a few hours of visiting and cousin playing. Luckily we had leftovers so we didn't have to rush home to cook. Then baths and books and bed and it was over already!

Getting busy living, like inappropriate laughter, is much more fun than losing my flipping mind.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Chemo Coaster

The first chemo cycle is nearly over. That means he got the chemo, felt like crap from the drugs, felt better, then felt like crap again from the low blood counts, and now feels better again. I've drawn a highly scientific graph to give you a visual.

Highly Scientific Visual Representation of a Chemo Cycle
From now until the next round, he should feel pretty good (they say and we hope). He'll be getting chemo every three weeks. The first two weeks of the cycle are when the drugs and his body work the hardest, the third is for rest and recovery to get him ready for the next round.

We've been up and down, up and down. It's like chemo is playing a head game, and that's the hardest part for me. I'm okay with down. I'm great with up. I suck at rapidly switching between the two - but then, we know I struggle with transitions. Just like a toddler, I need lots of warning before a change. Hopefully, now that I know generally what to expect, I'll be better prepared to ride the Chemo Coaster with him. I know that my mental state greatly affects his ability to cope, so it's important that I keep myself together.

And, thanks to last week's insanity, now I know that when I start to come apart at the seams, I need to grab the loppers and unleash my nervous energy on the overgrowth in our yard. Luckily, we don't love yard work, so there's plenty that needs lopping. Next up? The Camellias. I don't think they are supposed to be shade trees.

I'll leave you with my favorite thing I've heard today (and there have been some good ones since Luke learned how to turn on the extra phone and interrupt a conversation).

"I feel great!" - Dave, enthusiastically, during our lunch time check in.

It was good for my soul.

Friday, April 06, 2012

My Loves

These pieces of my heart actually walk around in this world - a thought that sometimes terrifies me, but mostly brings me great joy. I took these last weekend. I just love the sunshine and the swimming on the back porch happiness.

Ella picked out her new swimmin' suit all by herself at Target and I think she did a great job. I love this happy face she's wearing.
EGR in her new swimmin' suit.
Luke goes naked in the backyard because he loves being naked and because I have an ulterior motive - potty training. He's of two minds about naked peeing in the backyard - a teensy bit freaked out and completely amused.
Luke is very serious about his pool time.
Dave looks like a Very Serious Lawyer doing Very Serious Things on his phone in this picture. Don't be fooled - he's losing his virutal money in a game of Texas Hold 'Em. I think he already harvested three seasons worth of vegetables in Word Mole for a ridiculously high score, so he moved on to something more entertaining.
Dave's Very Serious Lawyer Face
Georgia isn't allowed in the back porch pool, so she has to swim in the little one on the patio. She also has to share her pool with the skin kids, so she doesn't even have it to herself. She gets the short end of the deal, but that's okay because she's the dog.
Swimmin' Pool + Big Yella = Dog Bliss
This is what she was doing right before I told her to show me her cheese face.
Digging. It's almost as good as swimming.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

I am not strong.

What I am is crazy. Nutballs. Losing my flippin' mind.

There's so much to do at home. There's so much to do at work. Work. It's a flexible situation, thankfully, but what do I do? Take unpaid intermittent Family Medical Leave? Use my vacation time with the leave? Keep up what I'm doing now, which is trying to squeeze 40 hours of productivity into the rest of my insanity? I'm honestly wondering if I can handle it - that expectation of my productivity. And that makes me feel vulnerable and worried in a way that I don't need to be about work. Because do you know how much a round of chemotherapy costs? I don't either yet, but I'll be finding out soon enough and I know I don't want to be without health insurance. And you know what else, Obamacare haters? I'm so thankful for that pre-existing condition deal he put in there that I could just cry. You know what's a pre-existing condition? Cancer.

There are so many doctor's appointments and medicines to manage. So many people to care for. And the dog and the cat and the house. And me? Sigh. I'm starting to question my mental health. Large quantities of chocolate and probably a prescription are in order. I wonder if our primary care doctor will just see me at Dave's next follow up so I don't have to bother with scheduling another appointment?

I know that it's all going to be fine. I know that God's timing is perfect and I need only to wait on Him. But right now I'm having a little fit about it all and you're going to have to bear with me.

And now I'm going to try to leave it here and not have a bad day about it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Tonsils, Adenoids, and Tubes, Oh My!

H. Luke will have his tonsils and adenoids removed and tubes put in his ears two weeks from today. He’s following the same medical path as Ella – suddenly and consistently sick at 16 months, living on antibiotics, gradually becoming less and less able to breathe and sleep. Only this time, we knew what to look for and got him to the ENT before his situation got as severe as hers.

I knew tubes and adenoids were coming. He’s had an ear infection since Christmas, even without having a cold, and he started snoring/snorting and sounding congested all the time. He keeps falling down because his balance is off from the fluid in his ears. There’s been a lot of choking/gagging when eating and sleeping, and of course, plenty of vomit to go with it. That made me suspect his tonsils, too. Then last week, when he was full-on wailing at me while I tried to suck out his nose, I got a good look at those tonsils. They are so big they’re almost touching each other. They are coming out.

I’m hoping this explains some of his recent, sudden terribleness. I’m hoping that after he recovers from surgery, he’ll be back to his sweet self again. If he’s not, well, I think I’m going to rent him out as an all-natural, non-hormonal form of birth control. If you can survive an evening with Luke without him getting hurt, you getting hurt, or yelling, then you are probably ready for kids. (Note that these criteria disqualify me from parenting most evenings, but it’s too late for me.) It takes mad wrestling skills to change that kid’s diaper. I’ve resorted to pinning the top half of him down with one leg and using The Claw to hold his legs while I change him. It’s not pretty, and it should totally count as a workout in my Healthmiles activity journal.

Also? The crying. Some days I cannot do a single thing right. Walk into his field of vision? Crying. Walk out of his sight? Crying. Pick him up? Crying. Put him down? Crying. And sometimes, most times, he either throws whatever is in his hands or throws himself in the floor. He even bit Grandmother’s dog on the head the other day for lack of something to throw and on account of she was standing right next to him. That animal is a saint in a dog’s body.

So, I have high hopes for his surgery because there’s enough sweetness peeking out of him for me to know it’s still in there. When I give him his cup, he tells me, “Thank you, Mommy. Ju-ju.” When I help him get his ball out from under the dresser, he tells me, “Thank you.” He takes good care of his baby. He loves and pats us when there’s something wrong. I just think he doesn’t feel well and he shows it with his attitude rather than being obviously sick. This face doesn't look so terrible, does it?

Luke feeding his Baaaby.
Like Ella did, he’ll have to spend the night in the hospital because he’s under two. I completely dread trying to keep an IV in his hand for 12-ish hours and sleeping on the world’s most uncomfortable hospital cots. I also just dread seeing him so pitiful after the surgery, but it needs doing.

And just for good measure, here is the tonsil and adenoid free big sister, helping the baby Maggie Beth with her balance beam routine.

EGR coaching gymnastics.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

This Is How We Enjoy Easter Peeps

Easter Peeps are cute, crystalized, sugary bits of yuck. As a general rule, I don’t eat marshmallows straight or covered in sugar. If I eat a marshmallow, it’s between two graham crackers and covered in a melted Hershey bar, or pretending to be river foam on top of a Mississippi Mud Cake. If I’m going to eat candy with absolutely no redeeming quality (Chocolate isn’t included as it has free radical fighting antioxidants and it keeps Mommy from losing her mind.), I prefer Skittles, or Sour Gummy Life Savers, or cinnamon discs or butterscotch. Marshmallows? Meh. The rest of my household feels pretty much the same about marshmallows.

Yet, somehow we always have a package of Peeps lying around at Easter. And we keep them until they are petrified because they are too cute to throw away. This time Ella picked them out to include in a goody bag for me at the hospital. When I offered her one, her response was, “Meh.”

I’ve been letting them live in the candy bowl for a few weeks, and the other night Dave asked what we were going to do with them. I told him to throw them away. He said he would – after they played a game with them.

Then, as I cleaned up the kitchen, he and the kids proceeded to sing a modified version of “Little Bunny Foo-foo Hopping through the Forest” while bopping those Peeps to oblivion. And laughing. Luke could barely contain himself; he thought it was so funny.

Scooping up the Peep chicks.

Turning Little Bunny Foo Foo into a goon.

Not entirely sure those Peeps aren't alive since they jump around when bopped.

Completely engrossed in the game.

By the time they were done squishing them, they were small enough to fit in Dave’s fist. I probably should have given them to someone in need – but does anyone need Peeps? Does anyone actually eat Peeps?