>My Best Friends

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I truly value the relationship I have with my brothers. My Dad used to tell us that our siblings will be our very best friends in the world when we grew up. I always dismissed this as something I could never POSSIBLY fathom. It seemed weird as a kid to think that my brothers would ever be anything other than annoying little brothers who annoyed me more than a mosquito bite.
I had my day planned. I woke up this morning and went to the mall to pick out new clothes for the kids to wear for our 1320 appointment for portraits at JCPenny because they were offering two free sheets and a free sitting fee for dependents. So anyway, after the sitting I was sitting in a booth choosing the pics for the Christmas cards when somebody comes up behind me and puts a hand on my shoulder. I turn around and it’s .Bro #2 with his girlfriend. They helped me choose the poses and then we decided to meet up after the rest of our errands for lunch.
I am walking out to the van when I get a text from the girlfriend of Bro #1 asking me to call him to cheer him up because he was feeling kind of depressed about his new truck (he’s having issues with it and it’s brand new, poor guy). Anyway, I call him, invite him to lunch but he declines the offer. He really sounds depressed. I felt terrible. That’s when Bro #2 pulls up; he gets on the phone with Bro #1 and convinces him to come to my house to grill burgers for dinner.
Problem here.
I don’t have a grill that works. So, all errands cancelled for the day and off to Home Depot I go to purchase a grill so Bro #1 can come over and hopefully feel a little better after spending a night grilling, drinking beer and laughing.
After a couple of glitches with the assembly of the grill, missing hamburger seasoning and a lack of forks (somehow they have all disappeared and I have no idea where they went) we wound up having a great dinner, many laughs and Bro #1 left smiling.
See, we can all count on each other. When one is feeling down, we all go out of our way to make the other feel better including forgoing all plans for the day and purchasing an unneeded grill that will probably never be used again.
My Dad was the wisest person ever. I’m sure if I had had more time with him he would have passed on more wisdom, but fortunately the most important off all things he did teach me was something that has proven true time and time again. My brothers are my best friends and I would do anything for them. I hate seeing them sad.

>Pay It Forward

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When I was 17 I had a fender bender. I had only had my license a couple months, I had just bought my first car and I rear ended an older woman while driving down a busy road. I was scared out of my mind. The lady looked in her rearview at me and waved me away. I didn’t know what to do, so I pulled into the next parking lot. She followed me in and asked if I was ok, I told her yes but I had put a small dent in her fender. She looked at it and said, “you are fine, I’m fine, I’m not worried about the car and yours is fine too, so let’s not worry about this”. I was shocked.
15 years later I had the opportunity to pay it forward.
I was backing out of a parking space in my new (old) van; halfway out I see the brand new Jetta behind me with his reverse lights on. I figured he was waiting for me. I’m almost far enough out to put it back in drive when I see his tires rolling.

“crap, he’s backing up”
No time to put it back in drive and get back into my spot so I go for the horn. Not being used to the van I started beating the steering wheel in every possible spot (except where the horn was) trying to find it. I eventually find it, but it’s too late.
CRASH!
I put it in drive but the van doesn’t move; not until the Jetta pulls forward and releases my van.
Back in my spot, I get out, see the dent and all the scratches and see that somehow my taillight was spared. So, he and I meet in the middle of the parking lot and I asked if he was ok. He said yes, I asked about his passenger; she was all right too. He said, did I damage your car? I knew that he had, but I knew that the taillight was fine, which meant that I didn’t HAVE to have anything fixed. So, I told him I wasn’t worried about it. He thanked me, and we went on our way.
Later that night I was telling my brother and he said I’m a much nicer person than he is because even if he was driving a totally beatup hoopty car he wouldn’t let someone go because that is just one more dent on the car that doesn’t have to be there. I reminded him of the lady that I hit when I was 17; and he said “wow, yeah, I remember that. Pay it forward, huh”?
So, yeah, my good deed for the day, week, year, etc. Maybe one day he’ll let someone else go rather than raise someone’s rates for a simple mistake.


>Demanding Teachers

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Class today went by quickly, we had a brief orientation to the new online registration process (my school is a bit behind the times) and then had a Q&A with the chair of the program where we discussed ways to improve the process for future classes and aired our concerns. We then quickly went through one chapter and were dismissed early. Not bad.
I figured I’d come home and get to work on some much needed housework. I quickly checked my email and found an email from Z’s reading resource teacher who has taken it upon herself to prove to everyone that they made the wrong decision in putting Z back into social studies. This is an excerpt of what she sent:
I asked Z where he does his homework today and he said that he does it in the recliner or on his bed. It’s extremely important for Z to have a consistent, quiet place that is free from distraction (but not too relaxed) to do his work where you can check it each night.
OK, so, I could understand this if Z were not doing his homework or turning in sloppy work, but he’s not! She referred to an incomplete assignment later in the email. This upset me because I wrote a note at the bottom of that assignment explaining that while Z knew the answer he was unsure of how she wanted him to display the work. He completed 11 of the 12 questions correctly, but the last (bonus) question he did not show work for. I assumed that it would not be counted as incomplete if I wrote her an excuse at the bottom. Apparently that did not fly.
So, she cc’ed his mainstream teacher AND the principal so now they both think that Z is turning in incomplete work which is not the case. I considered hitting “reply all” and explaining this but I figured that would look like I’m picking an argument and might make things worse for Z. So I let it go.
Here’s my other issue with this. I understand the importance of having a designated homework space and time. I get how this will help the kids get in “homework mode” after playing outside. Here’s the problem. We live in a small house, and I have three kids! Finding a quiet place is difficult. I usually sit in the living room and bounce back and forth between all the kids helping, reading, studying, etc. If one of them needs to study something in quiet they will go to their room. Z likes to do most of his stuff on his own and then comes to me when he’s done and shows me everything and asks for help when he’s exhausted all efforts. This works, because by then I’ve gotten B settled in on his assignments.
So yeah, he does do his homework on his bed or in a recliner, but it’s not like he’s lounging around. He has clipboards that he uses to write on, a movable shelf thingie that holds the books at a 45 degree angle for reading and a giant “study pillow” that helps him sit up straight. I know he doesn’t have a desk, but I have provided other things that help him achieve a “homework environment”. He has a study lamp that he turns on when he’s reading too.
She makes it sound like he is lounging around doing homework in a big comfy bed on his way in and out of dreamland. That is not the case. What she doesn’t get is that I am doing this ON MY OWN with THREE KIDS in a SMALL HOUSE!!!!! I’m doing the BEST I CAN! If she can come up with a better way I’d love to hear it, otherwise I wish she’d just back the heck off.

>Developmental Stages

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Over the years my boys have grown and matured. They have become less shy, more independent and have taken on their own personalities.
For instance, our middle son Z entered this world as a very loud, very active baby. While some may have called it colic; I insisted he was just vocal (except for late at night when I was trying to sleep).

He grew into a toddler with a HUGE personality compared to his more reserved older brother.

 His next phase was great. He was so loving and always wanted to draw me pictures and hold my hand. This however was short lived, because we then graduated to the…

“I’m too cool to take these pictures” phase
Oddly enough, this quickly morphed into the “2 fingers aimed at the camera with a funny one sided sneer” phase.

 What I didn’t expect was what was too come. The next phase of Z’s tween/teen developmental stages was a shock to me. No baby book or psychology class could have prepared me for this phase.
His excuse is that tomorrow is Wacky Wednesday at school and that he’s supposed to look “wacky” but he seems a little too comfortable if you ask me.
He’s still got those two fingers though.  

>When C clogs a toilet; he does it right.

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As I mentioned yesterday, I have a clogged toilet, only….. it’s not just the toilet; it’s the toilet, two sinks and the shower. The dishwasher and the laundry washer may be clogged too but I’m scared to try either because that would make for a big mess.
I called the septic company as soon as they opened this morning and explained that I was unable to clear the lines myself and that I needed help. They said they will charge me $180/hour to come out. Of course, I asked for a military discount and the secretary replied with “oh, we aren’t running any promotions right now”. Umm, it’s not a promotion, it’s a discount for the service my husband is performing which forces me to have to CALL a septic company for something as simple as a clogged toilet. Don’t you think if my husband were home he would have unclogged this himself?
They’ll be here within the hour, so hopefully I will be able to take a shower and I won’t have to schedule bathroom runs to Dunkin Donuts for the rest of the day. Yesterday was rough.

UPDATE:
Septic guy came, found the clog and only charged me $135 even though he was here over an hour. Pipes are flowing again, so now I can start some laundry, take a shower and pee.

>The Plan for the Day

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My house is trashed. It’s incredible how bad it got so fast this weekend. I was swapping bedrooms and had a bit of work done to the bathroom which forced me to “store” things in random places. Now I have to put everything back where it belongs. My goal is to have the house done by 1500; it’s already 1100 and I haven’t done much of anything yet so I’m really going to have to move. I have my Dunkin Donuts Dark Roast coffee sitting here and once that is consumed I should be ready to go.
I caught myself humming Christmas tunes this morning. I can’t believe it is that close. I am so excited to start decorating this year, I’ve already bought two new sets of ornaments and a military themed keepsake ornament from Amazon. I am debating on outdoor lights this year because I’ve never put them up before. Now, with DH not home and my brothers not around as much it will be up to me. The boys are not happy about that; in fact Z offered to do it himself which is not going to happen, but I guess that shows how much he wants lights on the roof. Maybe I should just suck it up and do it. I manage to do everything else during deployments, why not this?
Speaking of doing things that I wouldn’t normally do… my toilet is clogged. Ughhh. As I have mentioned before we only have one bathroom in this house so it is a big deal to have a clogged potty. Sometimes I wish I were still in military Housing, then I could just call maintenance and not worry about it.
OK, I’m off.

>Bathroom Remodel

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As a mom of three sons I am all too familiar with the fact that boys cannot aim to save their lives. I thought the problem would go away once they were fully potty trained.
Nope
Then I thought the problem would be resolved once they were tall enough to stand over the toilet.
Wrong
Then I thought the problem would be solved once I started making them clean it up themselves.
If only…
I have even threatened to make them SIT DOWN LIKE A GIRL! That just made them laugh at me and ended with two of them digging through my closet and forcing their stinky feet into my high heels, then parading around the house while singing nursery rhymes (apparently they think girls never mature past 5 years of age).
I have finally realized that no matter what I try, or how much I beg, yell, plead, lecture, etc. these boys will probably NEVER be able to hit the potty on the first try; and if they do manage to hit the throne, they will hit the outside rather than the inside.
I am beyond tired of cleaning the walls, floor, toilet base, etc. All I know is that we only have one functioning bathroom in this house right now and it is driving me nuts that I spend more time cleaning the bathroom than any other room in the house and yet it still isn’t really clean.
I called my brother. I asked him what I could do to help make the cleaning easier. He told me he would meet me at Home Depot so I could purchase the supplies with a Military Discount and then he would install it for $50. I wound up giving him $100 because when the time came to do it I wasn’t ready, and wound up making him wait an hour for me to finish steam cleaning the walls. But I digress.
This is what my bathroom looked like yesterday morning.
He bought this stuff that creates a chair rail and covers the bottom portion of the wall in a PVC material. It makes it super easy to clean and seals all the corners. Because the bottom half is white, I was able to choose a dark color for the top of the walls even though it is a small bathroom. Despite buying the expensive self-priming paint we realized he would have to come back because the paint didn’t cover well with a single coat. This is what it looked like last night.
Anyway, he called me today and said he would be over this afternoon to finish the last two coats of paint. So, he gets here; throws on the 2nd coat and hangs out with C playing video games while he waits for the paint to dry. I considered offering to buy dinner but I bought dinner last night and they didn’t offer to help pay a dime (this is after I had given him DOUBLE what we had agreed on). So I wasn’t about to offer again.
Anyway, I went outside on the back deck for a smoke (yes, I’m a smoker but never in the house). My bro comes out and reaches for my cigarette. Because his girlfriend is pregnant she had to quit; and because she had to quit she is forcing him to quit too. Of course, she opens the door just as he is blowing out a big ole cloud of nicotine filled smoke.
She went nuts.
She said that if he didn’t take her home right then she was going to cause a scene in front of his nephews (my kids). He told her that he wasn’t done with the bathroom but she wouldn’t listen; she started telling him that she was going to buy a pack for herself. I could see him getting soooooo angry, but he refused to cause a scene in front of my kids. He sucked it up and took her home even though I knew he didn’t want too.
So now, my bathroom is still not done and I have no idea when he’s coming back. I know she won’t allow him back without her, and now that she knows that I gave him a cigarette she is going to think I’m “on his side”. Family Drama!
Despite all that, tonight is going well. The kids are all getting along, they are sitting quietly in the living room reading encyclopedias and discussing all the many ways they can help me with chores around the house this coming week.
OK, I lied, this is what they are doing, but a girl can dream, right?

>Breaking down the stereotypes

>One of the biggest stereotypes I have is actually a joke that began with some of my old Military Housing neighbors. The great debate over Mini Van Mom vs. SUV Mom. So, of course, I was on the SUV side thinking that mini vans were for moms of only one or two kids or for moms of girls. I thought of myself as an SUV Mom because I wanted to be cool; climbing into my truck at the Commissary was much “cooler” than sliding into a van.

I have to admit though that some of the vans over the years have had some pretty cool features. The Dodge that has swivel captain’s chairs in the middle and a pop up table so all the kids can play a board game on a road trip? Totally awesome! Or the sliding doors making parking so much easier when you don’t have to worry about the kids throwing the doors open and dinging the car parked nearby. Oh and this video: ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS!

  

 

 

  

Despite some of the cool features of minivans I refuse to think of myself as anything but a “Cool SUV Mom”.  So, in my driveway I proudly park my Chevy Suburban.

Then one day my bro came to me and said he has a neighbor (elderly woman) who is selling her minivan for $500.

It runs well and has been maintained throughout the years. He insisted that it would be a good backup vehicle to my aging ‘Burb. I resisted at first but when logic overpowered me I realized he was right. At least during this deployment I should have a backup plan since DH isn’t here to fix the Suburban if it breaks down.

So, this past Sunday I pulled $500 out of the bank and headed down the street to pick up my very first minivan! I envisioned myself driving it home like this.

When we arrive I take a look at this 1999 Grand Caravan and realize that I am getting an incredible deal.
The van has new tires, brakes, been garaged it’s entire life, and it’s clean on the inside. We sign the paperwork, I slide into the driver’s seat and drive home. I have to admit, driving a minivan is pretty easy. It doesn’t have a long wheelbase to maneuver, the windshield is HUGE and it’s very lightweight so it has no problem accelerating up the mountain we live on. I was impressed!
So… after 14 years of SUV loyalty. I am now driving a Minivan and much to my surprise I am actually enjoying it! So for all those Minivan Moms out there that I used to make fun of… I’m sorry, I get it now. I am still cool, but now I’m cool AND driving a van.  

>Paging Dr. House

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Symptoms
right side chest pain between 2-8, constant: “feels like I’m being stabbed with a fork”
left side tightness, intermittent 1-3 times/day lasting 30 minutes each
Tylenol and Ibuprofen do not relieve pain
decreased appetite
possible positive Murphy’s sign
mild epigastric tenderness on palpation
no rebound tenderness
Diagnostic Tests
Ultrasound : normal 
Chest x-ray: normal
Blood tests: normal
EKG: normal (pending verification by pediatric cardiologist)

Possible Diagnosis
Chest wall pain: ruled out – no pain on inhalation, coughing, movement, etc
Cholecystitis (gallbladder): ruled out by ultrasound
Pneumonia: ruled out – no fever, normal white blood cell count, chest xray

The pediatrician calls me last night to check on C. I tell him that there is no change.
Dr: “Lindsey, why are your kids always such a puzzle”?
Me: “We like to keep you on your toes”.
Dr: “no, I think you keep all the easy diagnoses to yourself and solve them at home, then you come to me with the tough ones”.
Me: “OK, then next time one of my kids have the sniffles I will rush right in so you can have an easy one”.
Dr: “Oh, nevermind, I get that all day long from the other mothers”.

So, where does that leave us you might ask?
It leaves me sitting here watching my son suffer with no way to make the pain go away.
It leaves my son with a 3+ day extended absence from school.
It leaves me sitting here using Google to try to come up with ideas to give the doctor.
My Mom is coming down tonight and we are going to put our heads together. She will be able to assess him in person rather than me telling her over the phone and sending pic messages with stickers on his chest to show locations of pain.
At least I’m giving my nursing assessment skills a good review; I even brainstormed with some of my nursing school peers before our exam this morning. C came with me because I wasn’t comfortable leaving him home by himself with chest pain. We came up with nothing.
I will update when I know something more.

>I’m not overreacting!

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 I have a sick kid home today, well, not really sick, but not well enough to go to school. He’s been having chest pain which the pediatrician attributed to the amount of asthma medication he is on. It has gotten progressively worse over the weeks, and this weekend I decided that I was going to INSIST that he investigate this further. When he told me in September that C was healthy and the chest pain was nothing to worry about; I listened. I didn’t panic, but I didn’t dismiss it either. I watched, I assessed his pulse when he said it was bad, I checked his pulse when he was feeling fine. I monitored his bp also. No difference. At first I thought it was only on exertion, and while it may have started out that way it certainly isn’t anymore. It happens at rest now. So, overprotective mother that I am I called the Pediatrician the minute they opened this morning and insisted on being seen this morning. With it being a right sided pain I’m thinking of other possibilities besides cardiac but I’m not completely ruling it out, I’m possibly going to ask him to check his gallbladder (yes, I know, 14 is young to have that issue but it’s not unheard of). I just want an answer. I have a little experience with being dismissed as a Panicky Mom. I wasn’t blogging at the time but I think I have mentioned it a couple times before.
The summer of 2009 my (then) 8 y/o developed a circular rash at the base of his hairline on June 25th, I remember the date because I took a picture of it to note any changes (yeah, that’s the kind of mother I am, I go overboard). It was a Friday around 6pm. The more I looked at the rash the more I thought I could almost make out a Bulls-Eye. That’s when I decided that I didn’t want to take any chances with Lyme Disease. I didn’t want to wait through the weekend to get antibiotics so I decided to take him to the ER. In addition to the rash he had a VERY mild cough and sick eyes (all Moms know what sick eyes are; that look in a kid’s face that tells us before even the first symptom, that they are sick).
So, anyway, off to the ER we go. They put a mask on him and said that he most likely had Swine Flu. They said the rash was not a classic Lyme Disease Bulls Eye. I insisted on a Lyme Titer, which they did, but refused to prescribe antibiotics until the titer came back in a week in which case they’d call if there was a problem.
OK, so, I went home. TRUSTING these doctors.
Over the next couple weeks, the rash went away and a headache took it’s place. I brought him to the pediatrician. He diagnosed him with migraines; said to give him Tylenol.
I brought him back two days later when he developed photophobia (light hurt his eyes and head) and a worsening headache. Again, migraine diagnosis with a prescription for migraine meds.
Three days later back at the office. Severe headache, sensitive to light and now sound too. At this point, our doc sent us to the Children’s Hospital. We sat there for 5 hours and were sent home with a diagnosis of Cluster Headaches.
Two days later he developed double vision (not blurred; double). Back to the Hospital with an order for a CT scan from our pediatrician. Results: normal.
The next day back to the Hospital with an order for CT with contrast. ER doc sent us home without doing the procedure. Said it wasn’t necessary. B and I walked out of the hospital both crying. Him because of the pain and me because I was helpless to fix him.
Now at this point, my son is almost unable to function. His headache is so severe he can’t move. Light and sound, no matter how minimal, hurt him immensely. He wasn’t talking much because that hurt. I would sit with him all day and all night holding him; not knowing what I could do. I knew something was wrong, but the doctors weren’t listening. I cried because I had never felt so helpless. As a mother we always have the right fix; whether it be a band-aid, a bowl of ice cream or a hug. We can always fix our kids problems, but this time I could not.
At this point I had had enough. I called my pediatrician and said that someone somewhere had to do something. If he or the Children’s Hospital was not going to investigate further than I was going to go out of state to the Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts. This is when my pediatrician finally took me seriously. He said he didn’t want me traveling with him in his condition. He asked me to try the local Children’s Hospital one more time. He said that if they tried to discharge us from the ER to call his personal phone number and he would admit him under his care until we figured it out.
So I went in. I begged them to do another test, any test, I didn’t know what to ask them to look for but I wanted them to at least try! I had asked about Meningitis or Encephalitis on one of my previous ER visits and they said that without a stiff neck Meningitis was highly unlikely. After 6 hours they finally came in to do a spinal tap. He was in so much pain that my 8 y/o son saw the size of the needle and didn’t even flinch. He didn’t care. At this point all he could focus on was the pain.
So they did the procedure, now they explained to me that they were looking for Intracranial Pressure (ICP) of between 10-20. When they put that needle in and began aspirating his spinal fluid they determined that his ICP was 36!!!!!!! HE HAD MENINGITIS!
They immediately placed IV’s and began the medication to decrease spinal fluid to take the pressure off his brain. They admitted him and brought him upstairs where they proceeded to do more tests to determine the cause. You know what it was? LYME DISEASE. Months before when I had taken him in to the ER and they sent me home with NOTHING they had been wrong. It was Lyme Disease and because it was untreated it had passed into his spinal fluid and developed into Meningitis. The double vision was because the pressure was pressing on a nerve in his brain; he had 6th Cranial Nerve Palsy.

A week in the hospital, a PICC line insertion and 30 days worth of IV antibiotics later; he is better. All better. No residual symptoms except for a sensitivity to loud or high pitched sounds. We are VERY lucky.

After all was said and done, my pediatrician actually apologized to me for not insisting that the hospital admit him sooner. He told me that I’m not like most moms in that I don’t tend to overreact over the small things and even though he knew that I wasn’t typical, it still took my threatening to go out of state to get him to realize how serious it was. I think I have proved to him that if I’m saying there is something wrong it probably deserves further investigation. So hopefully today will go well.