Thursday, December 15, 2011


This has been a weird week. Olivia has been croupy and randomly asking for the barf bucket (but not using it) because her tummy muscles hurt from coughing. Other than that, she's fine. But the kids I watch came down with something and stayed home, so my house was pretty empty here for a couple of days. This morning, Olivia woke up with sore tummy muscles but bounced back from it in time to go to school and then insisted she stay home because the kids were going to be back today and she missed them. Not a good reason to skip school, kid. "But I'm sick! I want to stay home!" But if you are sick, the kids can't come. It was a real catch-22 for her.

So, we had to deal with that little tantrum. It was irritating, and more than irritating for my husband who felt like she was manipulating him. And perhaps she was. But after she left for school, I checked facebook and saw a friend post this:

"The pathologist that read Isaac's spinal tap results found cancer cells in the fluid, meaning that his lymphoma has returned.

And, well, that put things into perspective.

Isaac and his parents are friends of ours. He is a couple of weeks older than Olivia. Just days before his third birthday (about 13 months ago), he was diagnosed with a rare type of lymphoma and their family was thrown into a scary world of doctors and needles and tests and treatments. His tests have indicated no cancer cells for the last few months, and I think they were just finishing out the 12-month treatment protocol before declaring him in remission. I'm not sure how that works, but I got the sense from their updates that they were getting ready to put a very scary and challenging year behind them and look forward to a healthy future. And then cancer rears its ugly head once again.

Isaac is four years old. He is their only child. I cannot even imagine how devastating and terrifying this news must be for them.

Olivia has had a lot of colds recently, and when she doesn't have a cold, she sounds like she does. She doesn't sleep well and is often grumpy and unreasonably demanding by the afternoon. We had her evaluated by an ENT and discovered that she needs her tonsils and adenoids removed. Surgery is in a few weeks. I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but I'm both relieved and freaked out. Relieved because we deal daily with the fallout of her obstructive apnea and inability to sleep all night and we are hoping this will be the cure (as it often is for kids with this problem). Freaked out because my BABY is having SURGERY. Ack! And I have to take care of her sorry sick self during her days of recovery. Which makes me feel a little sorry for myself.

And then I remember Isaac, a sweet little trooper who is handling things WAY above his comprehension level with a grace I can't even imagine. And I remember his Mommy, who has spent more time this year inside of hospitals holding her child's hand than most people spend in their entire lives. Isaac has had to miss out on a lot of the experiences that Olivia has enjoyed this year. You can't send an immuno-compromised kid to preschool. You have to miss birthday parties and trips to the zoo and playdates and any number of kid (and Mom) socializing opportunities. And I complain of cabin fever! I cannot even imagine...

So, when Olivia throws her tantrums and melts down, I will try to be patient and offer up my frustration for Isaac and his family. When she gets her annual post-holiday illness (which she will inevitably pick up from one of her cousins), I will remember Isaac's parents, who will probably have to miss a good number of family gatherings this holiday season because Isaac's immune system won't allow for exposure to lots of people. I will say a prayer for strength and healing for them, and I will thank God for the blessings of health in our own family.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The new room

My husband had this aunt who had a party room behind her garage. It was a big rec room with a lot of windows and space. Perfect for card parties with all of her friends. She furnished it with this vintage 1970s whiskey barrel furniture. Yeah. Come to think of it, it was probably brand new when she put it in. And my husband made a point of commenting on the sheer awesomeness of the furniture every time he visited her.

Now, this aunt of his didn't have any kids, so when she died she left things to her nieces and nephews. She specifically designated certain items for certain people. My husband...he got the rec-room furniture.

For five years since inheriting these treasures, they've been in storage in my uncle's basement. And then my uncle decided to sell his house. It was time to do something.

In the meantime, we've been feeling a little cramped in this house...particularly in the winter when we can't escape outside. There are lots of kids here every day, and we needed more space. So we made a decision. It was time to convert our beloved screened-in-porch to an all-seasons sunroom. We loved our porch, but it was impossible to use it for anything during the cold or REALLY hot months of the year.

So we took this:

and turned it into this:

We have an infrared heater to keep the space warm, and the windows slide open to re-create our screened-room feel whenever the weather is nice. And the furniture all fits in there.

That would be a couch, bar and table, all with chairs and whatnot.

Great table for dining, card playing, game night, etc.

Olivia is obsessed with bunny ears right now. Can you tell? That's the main house through the door behind her.

Yes, that WOULD be dogs playing poker. And yes, my husband did receive this with the rest of the furniture. It's been in storage all these years, too, because there is no other setting in our house where this would fit. Truly.

We also have a "bar" sign made of the top of a whiskey barrel that is meant to hang on the wall. I'll have to put that picture in a post once we get it up. It is truly one of those things you have to see to believe.

The space looks better than I would have imagined, and it is quite useful. It is the one place where I can escape now when all the kids are napping and have a phone conversation. I can go out there to read and leave the door open and see the kids playing in the living room. And it's the one place in the whole house where we can actually see the school bus coming before it is at our door.

I think we are gonna get a lot of use out of this room.