Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Progress

Slowly but surely I think some progress is being made in our house. Our basement is clean, mold-free, and empty. The new flooring was delivered this morning, and the guys return tomorrow to begin installation. They are scheduled to be done by Friday, so we can start moving some stuff out of our dining room and back downstairs. Shawn is then going to repair the walls himself. That may take some time due to busy schedules, but at least the basement will be livable again (which is important since that is where the kids' playroom was!). Shawn is actually at a neighborhood meeting right now to discuss what is happening in regard to FEMA, any funds being allocated to our neighborhood, etc. We're hoping for some good news!

Jamie - Kindergarten is going so well. It is exciting to see him learning how to read and spell words. It was a little bit of a rough adjustment the last couple of weeks at school (I think partly due to the commotion in our own house). He is getting used to less play and more work and now claims he loves kindergarten more than preschool because of the "fun stuff" they are learning. Swim class and soccer are going well, and he scored his first goal this past weekend! That was certainly wonderful, but we are so proud of what a good teammate he is. And the sideline parents never cease to amaze me. One dad at the last game actually said to his son after his son scored a goal, "You got lucky." These children are 4 and 5 years old! Unbelievable!

Clare - We found a fabulous new speech therapist for Clare. (Thank you a million times, R, for the recommendation!!!!) This woman is the creme de la creme in the state of NH and beyond - she is the speech, feeding, and swallow guru. She just carved a couple hours out of her demanding schedule to see more patients in office and thanks to our quick referral by a friend, we were able to get on her weekly schedule. Clare had her evaluation this past Monday, and I, for one, am in love! First, I am impressed with any provider who took the time and effort to coordinate an hour that was convenient for me. For me, not for her! An hour which fits perfectly into our running-around schedule between morning preschool and afternoon kindergarten. Clare connected with her instantly, and even Simon was entranced. The therapist said that Clare was very weak in her facial and oral muscles, which accounted for much of her feeding difficulties and preferences, as well as her speech impediments. She also thinks that Clare's tongue-tie (which has never been clipped due to the issues Clare has with anesthesia, bleeding, etc.) could be playing a role in Clare's hard-to-understand speech. She is going to work with Clare not only on speech but feeding as well on a weekly basis. I am very excited to see where this all goes.

Clare also had the dreaded DENTIST appointment last week, and it was horrible! (Yes, it deserves capital letters, it was so bad.) She has gone with us many times to see the family dentist in action and watched Jamie get his teeth cleaned the week before. However, when it was her turn, she refused to sit in the chair. When I finally coaxed her on the chair by sitting on my lap, she lasted for one second until the hygienist came near her, then turned into a wild animal. She was screaming, biting me, kicking, frothing at the mouth (literally because she forgets to swallow her saliva when quite upset). The dentist had gone home on a family emergency, so I called it quits with the hygienist, and we made an appointment for this week with the local pediatric dentist. Clare's appointment is tomorrow (and I am wimping out and asked Shawn to take her). We have heard great things from this dentist (who specializes in special needs children and used to be at Children's Hospital Boston), so I am expecting miracles here! Tomorrow we also have a home visit from Clare's preschool teacher in the morning. Not really sure what that is going to be all about, but I am thrilled to show her our crazy post-flood house!

Simon - My sweet almost-17 month old boy finally started walking! Who knew that Jamie, at 15 1/2 months, would be my early walker! I guess my kids are just slow when it comes to getting around. Simon started taking a few steps a couple weeks ago and last week, he took off. Now he very rarely crawls and tries to walk everywhere. He is pretty steady inside and is working on his outside skills. He loves to walk holding onto something now (such as a toy or a humongous sword which is taller than he is). Simon is so proud of his new skill and receives lots of cheers from his parents and siblings!

And, last but not last, Baby Girl in Utero who is almost named - We had another ultrasound on Monday since our ultrasound three weeks ago did not result in great views of her heart. However, she was again not in a great position (chin tucked on her chest with her legs wrapped over her head, so her heart was almost completely blocked from view). The tech did the best she could to get the baby to change positions, but no luck there. I did get to see a 3D image of her (I have never experienced that before) which was amazing. However, this tech, as well as the previous tech, was not very friendly about the fact that we had our other children with us for the ultrasound. She refused to allow Shawn and the boys in the room (Clare was at school) and would not budge. Shawn asked her what she would have done if I had come alone with the kids, and she said she would have refused to do the ultrasound and made me reschedule for another time without kids. (Note - this was not mentioned to me at all when I scheduled the ultrasound appointments and have never had problems like this with my past three pregnancies.) I personally love my OB, but am quickly becoming very angered at the attitude of the techs and some of the nurses towards my family. It's an OB's office!! Shouldn't they at least tolerate children?? Instead, they treat them like they are a nuisance. Before my mother bear comes out combined with my pregnancy hormones, we'll just drop it. I was not keen on the idea of having a fetal echo done this pregnancy, but if my OB says she wants another ultrasound to look at the heart, I am going to request a fetal echo instead. For obvious reasons, I want a good look at the baby's heart, but I also am not putting myself or my family through the disapproving comments of the ultrasound staff again. Jamie at least is old enough to understand when these ladies state that children are not welcome or wanted. These are not attitudes I want my children around or have to endure. At least I know the echo tech, and she loves my family and will gladly let my kids come in and watch a video during the echo!

There's our week in a nutshell! Whew!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Clare's First Day of School

This is a belated post since Clare's first day was on September 8, the Monday following our water-logged weekend. (Which explains why Clare's first day of school photos were not taken on our front steps, but outside on the curb at the local Fairfield Inn!) She was so excited to go back to school. Every day, she greets me with the question "school today?" when she wakes up in the morning. She is loving preschool!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Aaah... A Shower!

All I have to say is our running water in the house is back!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Flood Photos


You can see through the trees where the pond is supposed to end!


Our neighbor's car. Thankfully we moved our cars in the middle of the night down the street where the water did not reach.


Our neighbor's truck and a kayaker enjoying the new river.



Smart-a** neighbors taking a leisurely float on their rafts.



Me, in the middle of the night, taking a stroll down our street.








A video I shot the next morning from our front door of our new river.
video

Staying Afloat

The water puns are endless!

Thank you to all those long-distance for your thoughts and prayers. And thank you to our local supporters who have kept us clean, fed, and generally making some sense out of the chaos!

Right now, we are staying afloat. Our basement has been gutted, so we're starting from scratch down there. (Hey, at least this is finally our chance to get rid of the deep plum walls in Shawn's office! Who paints a basement room dark purple??? One of our neighbors asked Shawn if it was the S&M room!!) Shawn met with our floor guy this afternoon, and scoped out Home Depot for wall materials. Because both the family room and Shawn's office were in the basement, our dining room is now jam-packed with stuff (stuff that Simon and Clare are having a blast spreading over the rest of the house every day!). So our priority is to get the basement at least in some kind of shape to start putting things back down there. We're supposed to be getting the basement fogged to kill any mold in the next couple of days. With Jamie's severe allergies and Clare's compromised health, we are not taking any chances in the mold department. The city has been great in arranging to have the garbage on our street picked up every day. That is essential because almost every house has a big pile of garbage daily as everyone sorts through their damage.

We still do not have fully-working drains and running water yet. Our pump was supposed to be back up yesterday, but still nothing yet. The new goal is by this weekend. We have been quite inventive in keeping everyone reasonably clean! It's amazing what you can do on limited resources! I think Shawn has been able to hook up our computer again, so I am going to load up some photos soon.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Flooded!

After a crazy week of doctor's appointments, Jamie starting kindergarten, Clare's echo, and my ultrasound, we ended our week (or so we thought) with a car accident on Friday. I had all three kids in the car with me, and everyone is okay, but our car was pretty damaged. I was on the highway when a tire came flying out of nowhere and hit the front of my car. You would be surprised how much damage a tire can do when you are going 65 mph on the highway! It caved in the front of my vehicle, which died immediately. I was able to cruise over to the side of the road safely. Our guardian angels were definitely looking out for us that day. So far, the insurance company thinks it is repairable, but we are waiting on whether the body shop agrees or not. We do not need a totaled car right now!

At around 2:30am on Sunday morning, we were awakened by fire trucks in our street. When Shawn went outside to check out what was going on, he was shocked to discover that our street had been literally turned into a river overnight, thanks to Tropical Storm Hanna which pelted our city with reports of up to 6" of rain! We took some great photos and videos, but our main computer is not functional (I am on Shawn's work laptop right now), so we will have to share when we are up and running again). We live on a dead end cul-de-sac and, at the end of the cul-de-sac, is a little pond. There is still a lot of debate of what exactly happened, but right now, we understand that there was some negligence in maintaining a dam at the far end of the pond (to prevent the overflow to run off on the highway). When the torrential rains hit, the water had nowhere to go, but to turn our street into a river. We were blessed in that we are on the high side of the street. The backyards of the houses on the opposite side of the street were literally the new pond. Many of our neighbors have lost their houses completely.

Shawn checked our basement before we went back to bed around 4am on Sunday morning, and thankfully we were dry. When we woke up a couple hours later, we discovered a flood in our basement. Over the next couple of days, everything has snowballed. Our water was shut off, we could not leave our neighborhood (unless you were walking wearing high waders), and everything was chaos. We truly were in a disaster zone. The city has been great so far - providing port-a-potties on our street (which has been so much fun for the pregnant lady who uses them four times an hour!) and even a portable shower unit parked right in front of our house. The fire department, environmental services, and Department of Transportation has been working overtime pumping water out of basements and off the street. Currently we are at a point where the majority of the street is finally dry (except for right near where the pond should be), we have limited water (can flush our toilets, but only a couple times a day - still no showers, washing machines, dishwashers), and have entered the clean-up stage of the process.

Like I said, we are lucky compared to some of our neighbors, but even we have lost a good portion of our basement. Our basement was three-quarters finished, so we lost all our carpeting, drywall, even ceiling tiles. The Health Department has come through every house, since our street is hooked into a pumping station in relation to the pond. Therefore, some of the water on the street and in the houses was sewage water. Anything (other than plastic, metal, that kind of stuff) that came in contact with the water has to be disposed of. We had many items (such as the majority of the kids' toys) in the basement that were up high so have been saved (and, thank God, all my scrapbooking stuff was saved as well as most of Shawn's office equipment). We've lost some big household items, like our baby swing, mattresses stored in the basement, anything cloth like that. The bulk of our damages lies in having to gut our basement and start over.

We are "treading water" right now! Jamie and Clare are still going to school, and we are trying to lead as normal a life as possible for their sakes. We are not near any of our family (who have all been worried about us and we talk daily), but have some really great sets of friends who have watched the kids for a few hours, invited us over for dinner, and let us bathe the kids at their house. I spent last evening at the laundromat catching up on some laundry to get us through the next couple of days. Our small neighborhood community of about ten houses have really come together through this. One of our neighbors owns a construction company, and a crew of his guys are spending an hour at every house today doing whatever needs to be done, free of charge. We have chosen to have them spend their time at our house ripping out the rest of our drywall. Shawn and I hauled our carpet and pad out over the last two days, which was a grueling job, so it will be a big help to have aid in removing the drywall.

We may be somewhat stinky, a little on edge, and living on paper plates, but at least we are together in our home!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Catch of the Day

This is what happens when you take a girl fishing:

video

Thursday, September 04, 2008

It's A...

okay, maybe we will reveal what our ultrasound revealed today...

IT'S A GIRL!!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

It's A.....

echo! (Got you... ha ha ha...)

Clare had her six-month cardiology appointment and echocardiogram today. I just can't keep the good news in, so... NOTHING HAS CHANGED! Which is really, really, really great!

On the pessimistic side, the fact that nothing has changed means that Clare has not necessarily gotten better (and her pulmonary arteries have not really grown, which her cardiologist said could be due to the stents limiting their growth), but I am an optimistic girl and can't get over the fact that Clare has not gotten worse! Her gradient measurements are pretty much the same as they were six months ago. Her aorta gradient measured between 11-15 mm, which is minimal (to give you an idea of how good that is, prior to Clare's open heart surgery, her aorta gradient was 125 mm). Her blood pressure is maintaining good measurements, and even the pressures on the left side of her heart were not too bad (at 50% of the right-sided pressures, when in the past, her left-sided pressures have been at 100% - a typical heart should be at 25%). So, all in all, we were very happy with that appointment! Clare did great during the echo and lay quietly on the bed watching Elmopalooza (lucky us - and her two brothers who were mesmerized by it as well). She does not have to go back to the cardiologist's until around her fourth birthday, which is seven months away. I cannot say enough how thrilled we are with all this news, especially since next weekend marks the one-year anniversary from Clare's last catheterization. To have seven more months is amazing!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Kindergarten Kid

Jamie started kindergarten today. There really is not much to report since Jamie acted like it was no big deal and, other than playground time being his favorite part, we have not been able to extract too much information out of our kindergartner. He was excited to go back to school, but since he is in the same school that he attended last year, has the same teachers, and his current best friend goes to that school as well, he was all ready to go. Absolutely no looking back this year.

Jamie did obligingly sit on the front steps for our traditional First Day of School photos, and Shawn was able to capture some more pictures before and after at school. At his open house last week, we had a chance to talk with his teachers about how kindergarten is going to differ from preschool. We are excited to see Jamie grow more this year as he embarks on new adventures, such as reading, writing, and math skills beyond counting.

Clare has her preschool open house this week and then starts next week. Soccer season has begun with weekly practices and Jamie's first game is this weekend. Swim classes resume next week. Our fall schedule has begun!