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September 2011

Three

I kept Edward out of school again today. Technically he has probably recovered sufficiently from his surgery to yet again be a functioning member of preschool society but something about the way he climbed into our bed at 6:30 and started making demands like a junkie waving a gun around made me think he might benefit from another day at home. He wanted me to wake up! Wake up now! Make the sun come up! Make him breakfast! Waffles! Waffles with syrup! Waffles with syrup and milk! Waffles with syrup and chocolate milk and he wanted to eat them on the couch while he got to watch a little something and he wanted me to sit there with him!

I extended both hands towards him - palms down - in the universal gesture of "hey man, chill, I just work here" and opened one eye. Steve blinked at me from his side of the bed.

"Morning, George," he said.

"Well?" I asked. "Do you have any irrational demands that you would like to make before I open both eyes?"

"Juuuuuuliiiiiiiaaaaaa, I want a blo... ."

I got up and made waffles.

+

I think Edward has always suspected that all the good stuff happens at home as soon as he leaves for preschool and the past few days have done nothing to dispel this notion.

The ENT told me that he should be allowed to eat when and what he wanted and that the main challenge is to keep him quiet and rested for the week post-op; so this morning after the waffles he had two popsicles. Then he took off his pants, climbed under a blanket on the couch and looked expectantly at the remote control. What more does any reasonable person want, really?

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Detoxing him from all this recovery is going to be painful.

+

Caroline has cheerfully left Edward on his couch while she has continued about her very busy business. She returned to swimming class (no comment,) attended a week's plus of preschool, accompanied Steve on a variety of home improvement related errands and played Scarlett O'Hara at Patrick's school picnic. Since Edward has asked about her every hour on the hour I thought it might be nice to remind her about her other self when we got home from preschool today.

I suggested she should go see how Edward was faring in the living room. 

She agreed and a few moments later I heard her say, "Hey little buddy, how are you doing?" Then she said, "Great!" She followed this up with, "Are you feeling better?" (pause) "Oh. I'm so sorry, honey!"

I unpacked her school bag in the kitchen and thought, oh my god, how sweet is this and how amazing that they are two little proto-people who have their own relationship and wow she has lungs that carry to the cheap seats doesn't she and how terrific that my children have their own ways of nurturing and caring for each other and isn't it all just so amazing... I was feeling fond and foolish when I tiptoed into the living room a few seconds later to peep at their interaction and discovered...

Caroline on the floor playing with Edward's brand-new-too-new-to-share get well soon Batcave and Edward sound asleep in a puddle of drool on the couch.

She looked up as I walked into the room and said, "Edward still isn't feeling well and he wants to watch something. Something with fairies." And she smiled at me in a saintly, lady with the lamp kind of way.


More Like Medium

Sorry about the interruptus yesterday. I fully expected to be able to eventually unload Edward with a couple ten hours of on-demand television and get back to you but Ha! Ha! I say. Edward was(is) in no mood for unloading. Yes, he will watch TV and, yes, he will eat pudding and oatmeal and applesauce but only if he is reclined upon my person and only if I am hand-feeding him. He's gone full Caesar. I am the jelly to his Edward-sofa sandwich. We are as One: his half is crabby and irrational and my half has a crick in its neck.

He doesn't feel well. On the other hand he doesn't feel nearly as awful as I had feared he might. The vomiting, for example, was more of a fluke than a trend and stemmed from his yucky cough more than his... oh! News you can use, I almost forgot.

On Sunday Edward developed a fever to accompany his increasingly gloopy nose and roopy cough. He was as glassy as a skyscraper all day, barely lifting his arms to indicate touchdowns as he watched football with Steve. I thought since he clearly had a virus that there was no way they would continue with the surgery; and then I wondered what the chances were that a re-schedule between the months of October and March would somehow manage to catch him at a time when he didn't have an upper respiratory infection. It's kind of a catch-22, you see, since Edward's  non-stop gunk is what makes him a surgical candidate. Monday morning I called the ENT's nurse and explained that Edward had had a fever and was congested - what to do? Apparently this has happened before (huh) and she said that unless the fever was exceptionally high or the congestion was such that he was unable to breathe they would usually go ahead with surgery. She said the anesthesiologist would assess him before the procedure, though, and they would make the final call that day. So, to sum, they do not necessarily cancel pediatric outpatient whatsits simply because your kid is sick.

In our case the anesthesiologist listened to Edward's chest right before the procedure and said he was as clear as a bell. Edward then coughed up a small Bichon Frise and Steve and I looked at the guy incredulously.

"Oh that," he said airily, "is all in his head."

Indeed.

So she put in the tubes (I prefer the term grommets) and took out his adenoids (apparently they were roughly the size of a bus and inflammed like rhetoric.) His tonsils continue to be tiny so they stayed. I feel like I started somewhere else... 

Oh right. He threw up after surgery but I think it was more from the heavy coughing than anything else. He has also been clingy but not in much pain. On the parental scale of procedures that suck (hospitalization for SBI being a solid 8.5, tonsil/adenoids coming in at a close 7 and sinuses registering around 5) I'd give tubes/adenoids a 3.

I was totally convinced, by the way, that I was going to have Edward sleeping in our bed for a couple of nights but I had failed to estimate the effect of twin power.

This is how they usually sleep now that Caroline has officially moved into Edward's room.

This is how they slept last night after Edward's surgery.

(Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? You want to be the preschool aged twin of a kid who has had surgery. As the twin you get: all of the TV, all of the popsicles and none of the band-aids. Oh, sure, I suppose I could have said, no, Caroline, you don't get a chocolate kiss; only Edward gets one because he just took some medicine. I could have said that but I doubt I would have any eyebrows left after the explosion. Pick your chocolate battles, my friends.)

Another etiquette question for you. There is absolutely nothing riding on this other than my peace of mind but I have been dying to ask you...

Patrick's new school has yet another pick-up, drop-off parking lot disaster area. Again the parking lot is miniscule and again there is a large number of school-within-a-school commuters who do not qualify for bussing. This time, however, the school is bordered by multiple city streets and there is ample on-street parking. So... why do almost all of the other parents wait in the carpool line? Do they like it? This is a sincere question. The first few days I arrived at pick-up time, parked on the street, and walked over to get Patrick from the carpool kids. It took me about five minutes, during which time the carpool car line (which stretches - I am not exaggerating - down one block and up another) had not moved at all. So my question is: am I being rude by parking and walking? Am I missing some subtle code of behavior that is leaving me open to the quiet condemnation of all of those parents sitting in their cars, waiting their turn? Or are they just anticipating the cold, white future when it will be -15 degrees and the road will be walled in with snow?


Shortest Post Ever

Edward had surgery today. Ear tubes (no biggie) and adenoids (little biggie.)

I actually started this post five minutes ago with a description of how much easier Edward has been than Patrick post operatively but that got cut short when Edward threw up all over my living room rug.

So. So much for that and I hope you'll excuse me if I leave this hanging so I can go hover around Eddybear with a towel and a bowl and an assortment of wipes unguents and cleansers.

In the meantime here is Edward, who has inherited not only Patrick's swampy sinuses but his old alphabet pants.

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Plus a much sunnier disposition.

When he isn't throwing up.

Poor kid.


The Thirteens

I told my mother this morning that I am beginning to believe that everyone should be lucky enough to have a twin. She paused and then said, "Do you think you would have liked having a twin?"

I said, "Oh god no, not ME. How awful. Another person around all the time wanting stuff from me and just... being there? No way."

I shuddered.

Mom said, "And Patrick? Two Patricks?"

I said, "Unfathomable."

"Sooooooo?"

"Well, ok, but I still think other people should be twins, I mean. People like... like Caroline. And Edward. I think Caroline and Edward are great as twins."

HOW CUTE ARE THEY?

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Look at them here on the first day of preschool. Edward all smiling and confident because he knows his superbestfriend will be with him and Caroline not trying to start the car without me. They... complete them.

The first day was Monday and drop-off went better than I had expected. Caroline flew around the room and started embracing children she remembered from last year (who instinctively flung their arms up in defense)

[Caroline is a bit of an air-kisser, if you know what I mean. A little showy in her meetings and greetings. I just watched her offer her hand to her tumbling teacher at the beginning of her second class as she gushed, "It's so nice to see you again." Her teacher had that, oh, one of these kids look on her face.

Something that still makes me laugh months later was the time when Caroline's beloved friend Lucy came to visit. As Lucy walked through the front door Caroline enveloped her in a strangulating hug, saying, "Oh LUCY! I love you! I missed you so MUCH!"

Lucy tactfully tried to extricate herself from Caroline's tentacles, while her mother prompted, "Lucy? What do you say?"

"Um, hello?" said Lucy]

So Caroline Paris Hilton'd her way around the classroom and Edward beelined to the cars and they both seemed ok with the fact that they were there and I was leaving. So I left.

Done and done.

Caroline has officially moved into Edward's room by the way. I gave it three solid weeks of sleepover status and then we set up the air mattress in her room (just in case we have to do a last minute switch) and moved her bed frame into his. They tend to stay up a little later and last night they woke up and had a wild rumpus at four am but - and this is the key part - the late nights and the middle of the nights no longer require my personal attendance. Where they used to bellow for me or show up on my pillow they seem content to keep me out of it. What happens in Edward's room stays in Edward's room.

I was sort of hoping that Edward's steady common sense and well developed self-preservation instinct might prevent her from engaging in some of her more untoward bedtime excesses but this has been met with only marginal success. Granted it is impossible to say what he has prevented her from doing but three days ago she came down to breakfast with burned lips.

At first I couldn't figure out what had happened. She was fine when I tucked her in but by morning she looked like she had contracted leprosy.

"What happened to your lips, Caroline?"

"Oh," she said, "I burned them on a lightbulb."

"You WHAT?"

"Burned them. On a lightbulb."

"What? Really? WHAT? Why? WHY?"

"Uh-huh. In Edward's room."

I turned to Edward and he said yes, she had, she had burned her yips and he added that he had told her it was hot.

"And it was!" she cheerfully confirmed.

Someday, somewhere, somehow I am absolutely convinced that she will get a tattoo. And it is possible it will say

IMG_6040

EDWARD

PS I am now obsessed with car spotting in parking lots. It seemed incredible to me that basically, like, all of you own a Mazda 5 and yet I was unsure if I had ever actually seen one. Today when I took Caroline and Edward to a swimming lesson* I got all excited because I realized I was parked next to one. I have to tell you, people, that is one clever looking little car. It's a minivan, right, but it's all compact. Like short and... short but sort of ninja. I've added it to our list. I have also considered your views on hybrids and crossed them off, alas. Minnesota just doesn't seem like quite the right latitude but should circumstances change and I find myself living alone in Buenos Aires I am totally buying a Smartcar.

Ha! That reminds me of two things. The first is that (I believe) Consumer Reports said that the Smartcar was the worst car they had ever driven, ever. The second is that a dear friend of mine works for a Mercedes dealership and Mercedes has the honor of selling Smartcars. A year or two ago they were selling so poorly in his area that he joked they were thinking about offering a Buy One Mercedes Get One Smartcar FREE promotion. He suggested that people could use the Smartcars like dinghys, parking their E-Class in the road and then shuttling to the curb in their Smartcars.

Whatever. I think they're cute as hell.

Where was I?

Oh right. Coveting cars and eyeing the ones you suggested. Right now my heart is with the diesel Volkswagens. I saw a Passat wagon tonight as I was driving home from tumbling and I admired its clean lines as I tried to remember what you had said about fuel efficiency. Then I laughed aloud because I noticed her Wisconsin vanity plate said EZONGAS. Thank you, license plate!

* Swimming lessons. Oh god. You might recall that I signed Caroline and Edward up for swimming lessons last Spring and they were awful. So awful that the teacher recommended that for the following session they sign up for the one below that which they had just finished. Basically they flunked Pike. Flunkies. Two of 'em. Patrick - as we know - took five years a while to set the aquanautical world afire but even he was never demoted.

Rather than try to put them in a Mommy and Me class (Mommy and Me and Me?) I opted to drop the lesson thing for the summer. They swam with floaties and enjoyed the water and now that they are a mature three and three-quarters I thought we were ready to try lessons again.  

Today I sat poolside and watched their first class. For the first thirty seconds everything was fine. Then Caroline decided to hell with all the waiting and listening and dove into the pool. She was hauled out and tried, really tried, for at least three minutes to be still. But then a ball fell into the water and it started to float away and the teacher was busy with another kid so... what could she do? She jumped in again and thrashed after the ball. The two other little boys in the class looked at her in polite incredulity and Edward stared into space and the mom sitting next to me said, "She's not afraid of the water, is she?"

The class dragged on. The teacher tried to get Caroline to practice little kicks so Caroline attempted the breaststroke. She urged Caroline to dip her face and blow some bubbles so Caroline dove to the bottom. When it was her turn with the ball she was supposed to toss it gently into the zero depth area, instead she turned 90 degrees and threw it as hard as she could into the deeper end. Then she shouted, "Let's go!" jumped in after it and started paddling away as fast as her yellow chest floaties would allow. The lifeguard had to go get her again.

It's embarrassing to be the parent of the class looney. I went out to talk to her a couple of times and she had to sit with me once but I felt like this could be just the tip of the iceberg and for all the onlookers knew she regularly eats brown sugar out of the box for breakfast. Then I consoled myself with the fact that I have twins. See, I said to myself, look at Edward. Sure Caroline is a merdevil but look at Edward just sitting there. Obviously it is not my fault. Two kids, identical upbringings. One sits and listens, one thinks she should be teaching the water aerobics class.

Then I noticed that Edward was no longer on the edge. He had slipped into the pool, crawled into the shallowest water, flipped himself on his back and was lying there doing dreamy snow angels. The lifeguard went to get him.

I slunk lower on my bench.


This That Other

Patrick's surgery, recovery and woe (or not) thereunto can be compartmentalized into neat sections: the actual mechanical fiddling, the swallowed blood and the reaction to anesthesia. Of the three, the surgery itself was the easiest in that he had absolutely no pain in his face. At all. Ever. He threw up blood for almost twenty-four hours and that sucked but nothing ever, you know, hurt. They also didn't pack anything into his sinuses, which I had been expecting and dreading. Instead they taped a piece of gauze under his nostrils (much like Madame Butterfly's nose flute) and instructed us to change it when it became saturated. Patrick hated this thing so much I finally decided it was easier to just surround him with towels and let him bleed all over the place -

oh. sorry. this post is not for the squeamish. I should have said that earlier -

bleed all over the place but after a few hours of lying more or less quietly he stopped oozing all together and he was good to go. I mean, except when he had to throw up again at which point all hell broke loose and everything started to bleed including my ears. 

All this was plenty gross and traumatic but the worst part, the absolute worst part, was what I can only conclude was Patrick's reaction to the anesthesia. It made him CRAZY and I don't mean that in a fun, let's all get naked and play beach volleyball kind of a way. More like borderline suicidal, had to be in physical contact with some part of me (who knew I was so reassuring,) and kept having panic attacks that caused him to struggle for breath (which in turn led to more vomiting) crazy. Partying like it was 1929 crazy.

Remind me, seriously, if Patrick ever has to have surgery again to tell them that he has major issues with anesthesia and to make sure they are actually looking me in the eye and listening to me when I say it.

I know I have made this sound awful but really, apart from the first twenty-four hours, Patrick's sinus surgery was a walk in the metaphoric park. Vastly easier than tonsils/adenoids, he felt better after a day and absolutely fine after two. And now he is Better. Rosier. More energetic. I had gotten accustomed to seeing him with dark circles and a slighty puffy face and now

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just... healthier.

And yes that is a mushroom and no I do not know what kind and no I did not eat it but yes Steve has been whacking chunks off and sauteeing them for lunch because for some reason he thinks that looks like food.

Meanwhile Edward has been on Flonase for the past month in the hope that it would help to clear his lingering gunky ear fluid and I made an appointment for him at the same time I brought Patrick in for his post-op appointment. The post-op went really well (she even used the word "rock star" as she marveled at the cleanliness of his frequently neti-potted sinuses) and the pathology report came back clean (chronic sinusitis, nothing malignant, something something something not indicative of allergies.)

The ENT then turned to Edward and asked how the Flonase was going. I told her that I thought it was really working, that he seemed less full of muck and I was pretty sure both his hearing and speech were improving by the second. She said OK let's take a look and promptly found... an infected ear.

Oh for the love of...

Crumbs.

From ears she went to his adenoids and said that although they had scanned fine a month ago she was worried about them now. Not only could she see something that was troubling, she pointed out that she has been doing this for 23 years and just listening to him she could tell that this was a kid with some adenoid issues.

I said, "You mean the Jimmy Cagney voice thing he has going? The way he keeps scrubbing at his nose with his fist?"

She said, "The raspy hoarse breathing? Yes."

So Edward is getting tubes put into his perfect shell-like ears on the 21st (that would be two weeks from now) and while she is in there she is going to consider doing some adenoid redecorating as well.

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He suspects nothing. Poor little duck.

Patrick started his new school yesterday. I don't know what exactly I was expecting to befall him in just one day but he came home in a buoyant mood and mentioned that he had made a friend so I guess the decision to move him has at least passed the first day test. It also only took me fifteen minutes to get him there, which is less than half of what I was driving last year so I am thrilled.

(PS Hey, here's a question for you. We will eventually need to replace our second car, partly due to its age and partly due to the fact that it is ridiculous for us to have two giant vehicles and partly due to the fact that a well-nourished deer collided with it while Steve was tooling around in Wisconsin lo these many months back. It runs, it just doesn't run particularly well and it costs a fortune at the pump. So we would like to get a replacement and for tax reasons we might want to buy the new one before the end of the year. For practical reasons I would like something smaller, more fuel efficient and pretty much anything that is not an SUV. Our current car has three rows of seats and we need that kind of room when the whole family is together for an extended drive but most of the time it is me driving just Patrick or only Caroline and Edward somewhere and I think we could totally make do with a sedan of some kind. Oooh, a hybrid. Do they make hybrids that fit five? Oh and is it true that hybrids don't go more than 62 mph? Because I think Steve would have an apoplexy if that were the case. 

What, if anything, do you know about cars, especially as it relates to families with three children, and a desire to spend less than $80 at the gas station?)