Friday, June 29, 2012

Craters of the Moon National Monument

OH.My. Gosh. This place was amazing. When we asked the kids what their favorite part of the trip was, they couldn't decide. When I asked Blair he said the scenery. I said that there was so much to see and do without a billion hour drive or extremely long hikes (I talk a lot more than he does). 

But I get ahead of myself. What is Craters of the Moon, you ask? It's a National Monument in Idaho. It is way out in the middle of nowhere. The closest town, Arco, is mostly boarded up; there are only a few businesses still open. That's where we camped, though, at Mountain View RV Park. It was lovely. Lots of grass and trees and the lady that owns it was super nice. 

And then.

Then you drive about 20 miles into what seems to be the middle of the middle of nowhere. All around you are low hills and scraggly sage brush. You see a sign that says Visitor Center 1/2 mile, so you turn there, and suddenly you're in a whole new land. 

Craters of the Moon was made by a volcanic eruption about 2,000 years ago. It is incredible. The pics don't do it justice. The whole place is lava. There is the Devil's Orchard, which some priest one time said was only fit to be the garden of the devil (but I thought it was gorgeous. Maybe I'm a evil). There are .5 mile hikes up to the tops of some of the smaller volcanoes and you can look down into the mouths. My kids thought that was especially cool.

And then there were the caves.They were created by the lava on top cooling and hardening faster than the lava below it, so the interior lava hollowed it out. I think there were 4 or 5 in all. We went in 4 of them. One was just a small one that didn't really have anywhere to go. Indian Cave was like 800 meters long, but it had skylights throughout so you didn't need a flashlight. Just lots of stuff to climb all over. Sienna, in particular, loved it. I couldn't get over how fearless she was. Going down into dark spaces that I was hesitant to go in, or climbing all over rocks and hillsides like a mountain goat. She was completely surefooted. 

Carson...not so much.

We took a package of 100 band aids on this trip. Between my three kids we used about half of them.
The last two caves we went in were hard to get in and hard to get out. Especially carrying a small child. Also, you had to use flashlights because it was pitch black and the footing was really treacherous. But climbing and exploring under those lava beds was one of the coolest things I've ever done. 
We loved the trip. We stayed for 5 days and I would have liked at least one more. Everyone should check this place out, at least once, before they die.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Walking with Blair

I love our neighborhood. And I love to go on walks in our neighborhood with my family. Carson and Sisi are big enough now that they walk the dogs, Blair pushes Cali's stroller, and I get to just walk. It's lovely. 

But today, whether because of sleep deprivation or overdose of caffeine, my usually silent husband had me in stitches. It started as we watched Carson and Sisi racing the dogs (with their short little legs...the dogs. Not Sisi and Carson. Well, not Sisi. Carson still runs like a baby giraffe) down the sidewalk. "Look out for the wall!" Blair yelled as they all came dangerously close to smashing right into the neighbor's retaining wall. He looked at me with a grimace and said, "I bet you never thought I'd have to say that to all of our kids, did you?" I burst out laughing. 

Seconds later, he yells, "Watch out for the car! No no, the PARKED car!" Sisi had to swerve at the last second to avoid the large black car sitting right in front of her. (Note-This car has been parked there for...umm...years.)

And then to Chuka, "Get out of the road, you dingbat!" (Chuka, in case you were wondering, is our dog, not one of our children. He is so named because he looks like an Ewok with his little squished face.)
"Dad, what way do we go?" Sisi asked. 
"Chuka, go left!" 
"Sisi! You don't even know which way is left! Chuka doesn't know left!" 

And now you see why I love walks with Blair.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pepsi Problem!

If you've met me, I probably had a pepsi in my hand. Or at least very nearby.
I know I have a huge addiction to pepsi. I think I've had it since I was about oh....two or three. Luckily, Blair works at the pepsi plant by our house so we get to feed my addiction for very cheap. Otherwise, this could be a huge problem. But it isn't, because he does. So you're wondering what my problem is?
Pepsi started bottling 16 oz. cans as well as 12 oz. cans. So Blair, in an attempt to save my...I'm not sure what Pepsi ruins...but he was attempting to save it by hoping he trick me into drinking less Pepsi by giving me the 16 oz cans instead. Or maybe he was just trying to lessen my impact on the environment, although I do recycle, always. I don't know, but I started drinking the 16 oz cans instead, and now I can't sleep.
The weird thing is, I used to drink two or even three 12 oz. Pepsis a day (sorry, I"m not sure what the plural for Pepsi is. Pepsie? Pepsees?). The caffeine never bothered me. I could fall asleep in the instant of quiet it took for my kids to gasp for a breath during sentences. And now, because of these 16 oz cans, I cannot sleep.
What in the world???
Blair swears it is the exact same formula they use in the 12 oz can. So I can't figure it out but I have a theory. Inside those 16 oz cans is some sort of superboost. It's a huge conspiracy, one my husband may or may not be a part of.
That is my theory. Any others???

Friday, July 22, 2011

Update on Cali's Journey

I meant to post this right after we got her test results back, but...ummm...I kept forgetting. Sorry about that.

Anyway, Cali's surgery was about two months ago. The surgery went great. They drilled through her ear drums into the bone and cleaned out all the infection. It only took about 45 minutes. A year of suffering, fixed in 45 minutes.
She was an incredibly angry baby when she woke up. It took us about an hour to calm her down enough that she wasn't trying to kill me with her feet and little fists. By then, I think our eardrums were about to burst. But we survived.
She recovered quickly, although we had to have her on the antibiotics a little longer than we thought because she was still having ear pain several weeks later. BUT besides that, amazing things were happening. Immediately we noticed she could hear. She got so excited when she heard a plane or the neighbor dog barking. Her vocabulary exploded, and all of the sudden she was saying complete sentences and asking what everything was so she could repeat it. It was incredible.
She has not had a fever since. Well, she has had a low-grade fever, once. I nearly had a nervous breakdown, thinking we hadn't fixed the problem. But I'm pretty sure it was just teeth.
After six weeks we took her in to have all the tests done again. 8 vials of blood work, an EKG, and a CT scan. She didn't even cry when they stuck the needle in for the blood work, but she did get really mad when they put the purple tie thingy around her arm.
Everything came back normal. I cried. :)
The blood work looked great. Her CRP levels and white blood cell count were normal. Her heart looked fine. Her ear drums were still a little swollen, but the infection was almost completely gone, and they were confident that she'll be fine after more time.
She has mild hearing loss, that will probably never get better, but it is sooo much better than it was. Most people hear at a 15 decibel range, and she hears at 25. But she can hear. And she isn't sick anymore. And we are soo, sooo happy.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cali's Journey

I know I'm a very sarcastic person, so forgive me when this post is missing my usual witty-ness. And sorry, but this post is kind of a novel. This has been a long road, and since I have been telling her story over and over to the ten thousand-ish doctors we've seen in the last month, I thought I would blog it. So, in case you've ever wondered about my little Cali, well - here goes.

When she was born, until she was about ten months old, she was the world's most perfect baby. She never cried. She was always happy, her eyes always sparkled. She slept more at night than my other two kids. I was in heaven. We all were. I was thinking we needed to have at least five more kids, because Cali was so fabulous.

Then, on the 4th of July, she woke up with a 104 degree fever. She was so sick. No one was open that day so we ended up taking her to an insta-care we don't usually use and will never use again. Because the people there are amazingly stupid. That's as nice as I can put it. So we took my sick little baby in, and they diagnosed her with a respiratory virus and said she'd get over it. She had no other symptoms. No runny nose, no cough. Nothing but this fever. So I didn't really
believe them, and the next Monday I took her to her regular doctor. Who said it was teeth. Teething. Really? At 103-104? That night her fever got up to 105, and I was completely terrified. So we took her to the ER after much debating and calling to get Blair's mom out of bed at 2 am. By the time we go there, her fever broke and the doctor couldn't figure out why in the world we were wasting his time. So we came home, but the next day I took her in to her regular
doctor again and demanded that they do something.

So the tests started, where they ran every blood and urine test they could think of. They knew there was a serious infection because her white blood cell count was seriously high, but they couldn't find the infection anywhere. So, two weeks and 6 days later, the doctor said if her fever
didn't break by the next day they were going to admit her to the hospital. It broke.

For the next several months, I continued to take Cali back in, month after month, telling her doc that she had incredibly high fevers and no other symptoms. They checked her ears. They checked her blood. They told me it was teething or a virus. Sometimes they would give her antibiotics, mostly just to pacify me, I think. By January, I was getting desperate. Cali had had a
fever of at least 104 every single month since July.

And then the worst one of all hit in February or March and her fever sky-rocketed to 106 and we couldn't bring it down. By now I was used to fevers. 104.5? No big deal. I reacted to it the same way I used to react to 101. But when it got to 106 and we were giving her advil and Tyleno
l alternately, trying to bring it down, washing her in a cool tub all through the night and nothing helped, I freaked. Blair gave her a blessing, in which he specifically asked that we would be able to find out what was wrong. We took her to the Pediatric ER at the hospital, where we saw Dr. Barhorst, who I believe is an angel in every way. She immediately ordered all kinds of blood work and told me she thought it was a continuous fever syndrome or leukemia. She did the tests. We waited a week and it wasn't leukemia. Thank heavens. None of her other blood work showed anything either, and we were disappointed that we still didn't have any answers. Dr. Barhorst told me to talk to our regular doc about the fever syndrome, so I did the next time the fever hit. She said if Cali wasn't better by August (!!!!!) we would start doing tests.

Are you kidding me?!
She tried so hard to be happy anyway

And then Cali got worse, and our doc couldn't fit us in, so she sent us back to Dr. Barhorst. Who ran a test on Cali called a CRP count, which she didn't usually do but felt like she should. This tests the level of inflammation in the body. The normal count is 20.

Cali was at 84.

So now we know there is a serious problem and the Dr. Barhorst starts ordering serious tests. CT Scans, huge amounts of blood work, EKG. After the CT Scan Dr. Barhorst called me and said she thought it was cystic fibrosis and she was sending the scan to a specialist to look at it right away. I was devastated.

The specialist, however, didn't see anything wrong, and sent it back to Dr. Barhorst. But she didn't believe him, and sent the scan down to Primary Children's to a pediatric rhumetologist. Who told her that yes, there was something very wrong and that they had seen it several times. In the bone behind Cali's left ear, it was completely infected. You couldn't even see the bone in the scan because of the infection. And the bone behind her right ear was nearly as bad. Somehow, when the specialist had gotten the CT Scan, he hadn't gotten the whole thing, because all it was supposed to be capturing was her sinuses. But the specialist at PC saw the whole thing, and because Cali was so tiny, it had accidentally captured behind her ears, too.

SOOO the specialist fit us in that same day, and when he looked at Cali's ears, he said the infection was so bad that her left ear drum had thickened and they aren't sure she'll regain hearing in that ear. Her right ear is still okay but at this point, and probably for the last year, because of the infection she can't hear hardly at all. My heart broke. My poor baby had been living, not only in constant pain, but also in a nearly silent world.

Tomorrow we go in for surgery. I'm scared for two reasons. One, of course, is that it's surgery, and that is always scary but especially in one so tiny. Two, I'm so terrified that this won't help, that it won't make her better and that we are all wrong again, and that she'll have to keep living with the same pain and exhaustion she has had for the last year.

In the surgery they'll clean out the infection in the bone behind both ears. They are also putting tubes in, hoping it will help. And then she'll be on powerful antibiotics that will make her sick, for six weeks. And then we'll repeat the hearing tests and CT Scan again, and hopefully, my baby will be all better.

And Cali will finally get to be a happy, healthy baby again.

Please keep her in your prayers tonight. :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tomorrow, this will be hilarious...

I am having a bad day. It started as soon as I rolled out of bed this morning (or sooner, if you count all the times I got up with my little Rocky through the night). Luckily for me, this is the kind of bad day that is funny...later.

I came upstairs and had to yell at Carson as soon as I set Rocky down because he wasn' happy to see her. Then I went to make breakfast and while I was there, little Rocky wandered into the bathroom that one of my kids (they refuse to tell me who) had just used and left the seat up. And forgotten to flush. So I hear splashing and went running in and well, it was gross. We'll leave it at that.

I sat the kids down for breakfast and started doing Sisi's hair. I thought we had plenty of time but I glanced up at the clock when I was about 3/4 done and saw that it wasn't 7:30. It was 8:00. And the bus comes at 8:04. Of course, I freaked out, so Sisi freaked out and shoved her breakfast in as she ran to get dressed with her hair mostly done. And while I'm racing to get her socks, Rocky climbs up on the table and dumps our whole bowl of elastics all over, and threw some in Sisi's juice for good measure. I come up the stairs, see her on the table, see the mess, and throw the socks in Sisi's general direction while swooping Rocky off the table and to the sink where I wash juice off her hands (it's sticky. We hate sticky) And then while Sisi's getting her shoes on I tried to scoop up all the elastics so Rocky won't put them in her mouth, because she puts EVERYTHING in her mouth. (hence her nickname. Rocky)

Then I threw them in Sisi's juice.


Sisi went flying out the door, and the bus was 15 minutes late.
And then I went to take a shower. I lock Rocky in the bathroom with me so she doesn't try to throw herself off the table or down the stairs. And I heard her unrolling the toilet paper, but she stopped when I told her to. A few seconds later, she waddled over and threw an entire roll of unraveled toilet paper into the shower with me.

And while I was cleaning that up (not fun), she smeared chocolate all over my white chair.
And then at a school tour, the woman who was supposed to be taking me on the tour was accosted by several bleeding children and I finally had to leave.

BECAUSE the internet installation guy was supposed to be here at 2. Blair, bless his heart, didn't want me to have to deal with installation guys and kids all by myself so he got off work early and came home.

The Installation guy showed up at 4:20 and didn't leave until 6. Around 5:30, his friend shows up at our house, comes in, makes himself at home in our office, and they just hang out.
And then Carson's preschool teacher changed his preschool party to Monday. At the EXACT same time as Sisi's party. Now, I'm pretty good, but not that good. Even I can't be in two places at once.

On top of that, a good friend also had a horrible day. But hers probably won't be funny tomorrow.

Now it's 6 pm and I'm wondering what the rest of the day has in store for me. Hopefully, we'll make it til tomorrow so I can laugh about it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Loves today

Every day I think, at least a thousand times, how much I love something. For example, I'll think, I love how Cali does that weird little laugh when I finally figure out what she wants. And then I think I should write it down so I don't forget. I never do. But today, I thought I would share the things I have noticed that I love.

I love how Carson can make me laugh, no matter how upset I am.

I love how Cali calls everything either a horse, a puppy, or a kitty. And the monkey, which I would have thought would be in the puppy category, is a horse.

I love Carson's face when he's playing pretend. He gets soooo in to character.

I love Sisi's laugh. Her real laugh, not the courtesy laugh you get when she doesn't really think you're funny but doesn' t want to make you feel bad. You can't help but smile when you hear it.

I love that chocolate makes Cali as happy as it does me.

I love Sisi's hair. Dang, it's gorgeous! Why don't I have hair like that?

I love to watch Cali sleep. She's so pretty. She reminds me of an angel.

I love the way she puckers up her lips to say no. And how she says no when she's doing something she knows she isn't supposed to.

I love my house when it's clean.

I love how serious Cali is when she's telling me stories in her own little language.

I love listening to Blair swear in the morning, usually while he's still asleep. He's so cute when he's grumpy.

Like I said, every day I notice a thousand things that I love and should write down. These are just some of them I've noticed today, but they make me happy.