Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Annika's Owie

Soooo, this happened....

On Friday, I was at work doing my work stuff (doo dee doo dee doo dee doo ... yes, those are my "I'm at work sounds") when I got a call from the kids' school. The school administrative assistant explained that Annika had an accident on the playground during lunch recess and they suspected she broke her arm... again. My response? "Oh shirt." (OK, not those EXACT words, but this is a family blog ... but you get the picture.)

In emergencies, transit commuters can request a cab to take them to their cars. I did that. The cab was supposed to be there in 4 minutes. It took over 20. That's 16+ minutes of me basically pacing the sidewalk outside of my office building like a crazy woman. In that 16+ minutes, Annika went into shock and the school opted to call 9-1-1 because they weren't exactly equipped for that and it was taking me way longer than expected to get to the school. (Stupid downtown traffic issues!)

The ambulance took Annika straight to Children's Hospital (we knew to by-pass the closer NW Hospital from the last time she broke her arm ... wrist to be exact, knowing they aren't equipped to sedate children in the ER) while Eric drove there from his office and I drove there after getting my car at the park and ride. (Kudos to my cab driver for making excellent time once he had me in his vehicle!) One of the teacher aids from the kids' school went in the ambulance with Annika, and we are beyond grateful for her doing that!! The funny part was the ER had no notifications of an inbound ambulance with anyone by her name. They did have a "Monica Wilson" coming with with a suspected broken left arm, however. Once they arrived, it was pretty clear someone in ambulance-land just goofed up her name along the way! (Whew - I was starting to get nervous that they were going to a different hospital!)

The ER staff was (once again) truly amazing! They were compassionate, kind, and efficient. (Unfortunately, Eric's cousin wasn't working this time.) Because she was in shock, it took quite a bit of time and effort to get an IV started on her, but once they did, the ER people offered to give Annika some pain meds before even bothering with x-rays, to which she responded "Drug me up!" (Better living through pharmaceutical science, people!!)

Pain meds are her friend!!
The x-rays showed exactly what we all suspected, she broke her left arm. Correction, she didn't just break it... she broke the holy heck out of it! Her radius was completely broken and displaced. Her ulna was also completely broken, but the bone wasn't as displaced as the other one was.


The ER staff sedated her and did their best to realign the bones performing an external reduction. (AKA, two people pull on the arm in two different directions and rotate the bones attempting to get them in a better position.) The orthopedic specialist said she got the bones into a better position than she expected, but warned us that the radius could slip. If it does, Annika will need a rod put in (eeek!!!!). We'll go back to the hospital later this week for follow-up x-rays, which will determine the next steps in her care plan. (Fingers, toes, and eye are all crossed that the bones stay put and don't slip!)

Somewhat less ouch

No volleyball for her this season
As she came out of the anesthesia, Annika (once again) proved to be a funny "drunk". She saw double (and at times, triple) just like she did when she broke her wrist 3 years ago. One very touching part of her waking up experience was her gushing love of Conor and how much she wanted him to be with her. She even wanted to leave the hospital immediately so she could go home and be with him. (Note: He was a a family friend's house playing with friends and eating tacos!)

Eric left a little while after she woke up to retrieve Conor and take him home. Annika and I left the hospital about 7:30 PM. She was very drowsy (understandably) and napped most of the way home. We got a little food and some more pain meds into her, and then we hunkered down for the night. She awoke a few times during the night because of weird dreams (the ER staff warned us that could happen due to the anesthesia) but nothing overly disruptive.

By the next day, she was doing MUCH better and seemed to have very little pain. Talk about being a trooper! We are being VERY cautious around her to avoid any accidental collisions or silliness that could lead to the bones slipping. VERRRRY cautious!

The other casualty of the whole ordeal was Annika's school sweater. The ER staff wound up cutting it off of her so they could work on her arm. It's so mangled, that I just had to share a photo or two of it, too!

Victim #2

We kept Annika home from school yesterday to give her one more day of healing and reduce her chances of an accidental run-in that could undue the work of the ER staff. That didn't keep me from bringing home her school work that morning when I dropped off Conor at school and making her actually do her work. (I'm such a mean mom!) :D

She went back to school today and (knock on wood) things are going fine so far. (No word to indicate otherwise.) She even wore her new sling that I made for her (more fashionable and comfortable than the one from the hospital!) Fortunately, the kids got to wear their school spirit wear today, which made getting dressed quite a bit easier. (T-shirt sleeves fit over her cast more easily than the uniform shirts do.)

Back to school!
To everyone who has checked up on her, brought get-well gifts, dropped food at our door, and kept her in their thoughts, we thank you from the very bottom of our hearts. The kids' school community rallied like no other and we are touched by all they did to help her on Friday and after.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Lest ye not forget

So, the kids and I visited my mom on Sunday and this was the first time she didn't recognize one of the kids.

Annika, Conor, my mom, and I were seated at a table waiting for lunch and my mom asked, "Where are the others?" I asked, "What others?" She said, "Sister. Conor, where is sister?" To which, Conor and I pointed to Annika and she raised her hand somewhat sheepishly. Oh dementia, you are a cruel beast.

(Fortunately, Annika was OK after this having a good understanding that Nana's brain isn't as healthy and her memory isn't what it used to be. In fact, Annika was more concerned about me and the fact that my mom would, one day, completely forget who I am. Awww! What a sweet girl we have!)

To protect himself from the same fate, Conor did this after we got back home:

Honestly, I think he deserves double points. It is effective AND funny! Conor for the win!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Christmas, Holiday Activities, and NYE wrap-up

Well, 2019 is officially here and we are back to real life.... real busy life... real busy, chaotic-at-times life!

Leading up to Christmas was (needless to say), also busy, but in a different way. The pace was less frenetic and rushed than it is when real life is in place. We got to sleep in (most days) and set a schedule that fit our hopes and dreams... ok, enough waxing poetic!

Per our typical "gearing up for Christmas" activities, we decorated a gingerbread house, baked more cookies and treats and a small country could eat in a month, wrapped presents, made treats for the kids' classroom parties (see oranges below), and listened to so many Christmas carols that they played on a loop in our dreams!

Right before they started Christmas break, the kids participated in their school's annual Advent/Christmas concert. They did a great job and sang their little hearts out. Conor had the added bonus of playing the xylophone during his class' performance and proved to be quite the xylophone player ... xylyphoner? xylophonist??  Annika even wound up with a surprise solo performance during the band's portion due to the other flutist being sick that night. It is one thing to get up in front of the entire school and parents with your class to sing a song, but it is a whole other thing to get up in front of that huge group and play something by yourself. Huge props to her for that! (Side note: It didn't even phase her ... she has nerves of steel!)

On Christmas Eve, the kids (once again) found themselves in front of a very large crowd. Conor portrayed Caesar Augustus in the parish's nativity play and Annika was an altar server for Christmas Eve mass. The church was packed to the gills, but (once again, again) the kids were amazingly composed and did a great job at their respective tasks.. 

After church, we came home to a lovely dinner that Eric made (thanks, hon!!) and had ready for us as we walked through the door. Our family tradition for Christmas Eve dinner is to have breakfast for dinner? Why? Because it is easy and there's very little clean up!! Duh!

We made sure to put out cookies and milk for Santa, read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" together (another family tradition), and made our way to bed ... very much excited for the next morning to arrive. 

Needless to say, Christmas morning was a bit chaotic, but in a good way. The kids were brimming with excitement, and Eric and I weren't far behind. We were all spoiled by the generosity of others and are deeply touched by the thought put into our gifts. Around noon, Eric's folks came down from Whidbey and joined us for Christmas, Phase 2, which included more presents, playing dice and card games, and a lovely family dinner.

Conor was VERY excited about Santa bringing him signed copies of one of his favorite book series.

Pokemon shirt for the win

Eric amongst the Christmas chaos

Annika was thrilled to receive another book in one of her favorite series, too!

Eric opening a present from Santa

Yup! She's excited!

Pretty sure the hit of the day was the Nintendo Switch we gave to them as a combo gift

Annika opening her gifts from Bestemore and Bestefar

On New Year's Eve day, the kids and I headed to Snoqualmie for our annual day o' tubing. Unfortunately, Eric got hit with a stomach bug and wasn't able to join us. We missed him greatly and wished he could have been there to enjoy the snow with us! The sky was blue, the snow was perfect, and the temp was cold without being frigid. Aside from Eric not being there, it was an ideal day on the mountain. (Although, I'm pretty sure the kids considered calling CPS when I suggested we hoof it up the hill instead of taking the magic carpet every time!)

Last year, Annika was the only one of us to stay up until midnight and rang in the new year with her stuffed animals all wearing homemade party hats. The idea of her having to do that again this year basically guilted us into powering through until midnight and staying up with her. Conor opted to go to bed around 9 with the request that we wake him up 15 minutes before midnight. Clad in our jammies and party hats, we rung in the new year together at home and watched the Space Needle fireworks display on TV. By 12:01, we were all heading to bed longing for sleep. 

Eric had to go back to work on Jan 2, so the kids and I had a few days to fill on our own. We made a trip down to Tacoma to visit our dear Fr. Fred and swing by Johnson's Candy ... because we apparently didn't have enough sweets from Christmas! We had a marvelous time chatting with Fred, who very kindly fed us a lunch of waffles and peanut butter! We also made a trip up to Whidbey to spend the day with Eric's parents. The kids played outside between rain squalls while Eric's mom and I sewed fabric card holders. Eric's dad even made me an AMAZING growler holder.

Of course,we had to put them to use after making them!
Seriously!! How cool is this thing????

On the day between our out-of-city trips, the kids and I hunkered down at home and caught our collective breath. To ensure their brains didn't melt too much over the break, I challenged them with a few STEM projects and they had a blast! First, I handed them marshmallows, spaghetti, 3 feet of yarn, and 3 feet of tape and then challenged them to make marshmallow structures with the provided supplies. Then, they were challenged to create structures (using supplies of their choosing) that would protect a dropped egg. Impressively, both kids' eggs survived the drop... of course, Annika made a "champion" sash for her egg and now we aren't allowed to eat it! :D

Our final holiday celebration was going to the holiday lights display at Woodland Park Zoo. Each year, there are more things to see, and we often find ourselves playing "I spy" with the new additions. The lights were lovely (no surprise) but the big hit for us was the shadow wall that we discovered this year. Basically, there was a wall that was painted with glow in the dark paint that we stood against (facing the wall) and then a staff member would flash a REALLY bright light toward us. When we moved away from the wall,we could see our silhouettes left (temporarily) behind. So stinking neat!

From our family to yours, we hope you have a peaceful and fun-filled 2019!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Prep

Since my last post, we have been eyeball deep in holidays... what feels like non-stop holidays!

To gear up for Halloween, we made our annual pilgrimage to Fairbank Family Farm to pick out our pumpkins and say "howdy" to the various farm animals. Just like in years past, the piglets and goats were our favorite critters to see.... followed closely by the newly-hatched chicks and baby rabbits. We timed our trip to the pumpkin patch perfectly and escaped being rained on. (Insert a collective cheer and sign of relief here!)

A couple of days before Halloween, we pulled out our carving tools (aka knife and whatever pointy things we can get our hands on), covered the kitchen table with paper bags, and went to work creating our pumpkin masterpieces. Eric, once again, took on the role of artistic director (thank goodness that doesn't fall on my shoulders... it would be all sorts of "unfortunate pumpkins" if it did!) and coached the kids through the process of designing their pumpkins and making their ideas a reality. This was the first year Annika carved her pumpkin solo, which was a HUGE deal for her. One more "getting grown up" item checked off in her list! The kids were thrilled with their final results ... I was especially thrilled that everyone had all of their fingers at the end of the project and no one required a trip to the ER!

On Halloween, the kids were beyond excited to go to school because they got to wear their costumes instead of their uniforms. This was one of the rare mornings that they were up and ready to go WELL before our usual departure time. (I love Halloween because of this phenomenon, I have to admit!) Both kid had classroom parties to mark the day, so I offered to make cookies for them to take as our family's contribution. (I treated myself to the candy corn cookie cutter this year and am so happy I did!)

Annika dressed up as a vampire princess this year (complete with fancy new fangs!) and Conor was Spiderman. Both kids loved their costumes and I loved that they were super easy this year! We went trick-or-treating around our neighborhood with a couple of our neighbors and another CKS family (Annika's pal Maddy and her family). We expected to get drenched with the predicted rain, but lucked out and stayed dry the whole time. I can't even guess how much distance we covered, but it was enough that all of the kids had overflowing candy bags by the end of the night! The kids thought the houses that gave out the full-size candy bars were THE BEST and excitedly shouted "FULL SIZE HOUSE" after discovering a new one!


We made our annual trek up to Whidbey for Thanksgiving, but this year, we had a few spins on the traditional visit. First of all, instead of going up Thursday morning, the kids and I went up Tuesday morning because they didn't have school which meant I needed to work remotely, so why not work remotely from the island?? (Duh!) Eric joined us Wednesday evening after work; he took a Lyft car from work and was able to walk on the ferry, avoiding the insane "rush hour the night before a holiday" ferry line. The second twist on our usual approach to Thanksgiving is we had my brother's dog Kirby with us. Kirby spent 10 days with us while the floors were refinished at my brother's house, so Kirby spent quite a bit of time on the island with us, too. Saying that he loved playing with my in-law's dogs would be the understatement of the year!

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I worked during the days while the kids played outside (exhausting themselves and the dogs). We also worked on puzzles with Bestemor, went on a nice walk up to the meadow, and played lots of card/dice games. Conor's big accomplishment this year was helping Bestefar smoke the turkey ... and being the one who picked out the type of wood to use in the smoker (spoiler: he chose cherry).

In an effort to encourage the kids to make better use of the great room, I bought a 1/2-size ping pong table (thanks, pre-Black Friday sales) and got my hands on a free tabletop-size air hockey game. We also had some fun making the animal heads on the wall a bit less "I'm staring at you" for the kids (thanks, dollar store!). The games were a huge hit with everyone and did the trick of getting us to use more of the house. WIN!!

Troy and his family joined us on Thanksgiving after their week in Whistler, BC and spent the night on the island with us. I know they were happy to see us, but the Nelsons were over the moon to be reunited with Kirby for a night. That is one loved pup, let me tell you!


Each year as we drive away from Eric's parents house after Thanksgiving, we signal the start of the Christmas season by tuning the car radio to the local station that plays Christmas music 100% of the time during the holidays. Since then, we've put up the tree and gotten it decorated (complete with our annual Starbucks cup tree topper ... this year, with lights as an added bonus!), gone to Swanson's Nursery to see the reindeer (with our friend Valeria), gotten the cards mailed, visited Santa, and started on our holiday baking to-do list -- Annika and I made pizelles this past weekend (YUM)!

We still have a lot to do to get ready for Christmas, but we're getting there. The kids will start their break from school soon and they couldn't be more excited. Eric and I will take time off from work to celebrate the holidays, too... some staggered to accommodate the kids' school break days, but most at the same time. It'll be nice to be home for an extended time without the rush of regular life keeping us on our toes. Sleeping in? Yes please!!!!