Wednesday, June 9, 2010


This video changed me.  Stephanie gives such hope.  I just pray that I never forget how I feel when I watch this.  So, I wanted to post it here . . . to make sure I think of Nie Nie whenever I feel like my life is difficult.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spiderman's Bum

When Spiderman made a surprise visit to the double 6-year birthday party we attended on Saturday for Kelly and Parker, Gavin was thrilled.  He studied him from afar at first, but kept a close eye on him.  He also asked a series of important questions:

Where does Spiderman live?  Where is his car?  Does Spiderman have a bum?

Yes, all very important questions.

And, then, when the opportunity came, Gavin willingly grabbed him and posed for a cute picture.

We have come so far from our Disney World days when he would wait excitedly for a Disney character to arrive and then refuse to even look at them when they visited our table.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Just take my door off

Everything goes in phases at the house . . . the sticking your tongue out phase, the excessive teasing, the hitting, the door slamming.  I remember a good friend of mine telling me to always allow any new thing a full 16 days before you start to really get concerned.  It was good advice.

The door slamming went away for a while.  And, in the last week - probably because I made a point of letting Autumn know that slamming doors in the new house could break the mirror on the reverse side - slamming doors has returned.  Today, about 4 times in a row.

I'm a firm believer that the best time to really have a good discussion about improper behavior is when everything is calm again.  Bedtime is the perfect opportunity to have a heart to heart.

I asked her what plan we could make together so that we remember not to slam doors.

Her response, "Just take my door off.  There's no way I can slam it if it's not there.  That's the best idea.  And, if you don't . . . I'll be hot potato burned."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Waiting 9 to 5 . . . what a way to make a living . . .

Our first official night in our new house wasn't in our new house at all.  It was in the ER of Sick Kids hospital.

After a long day, the moving trucks had just pulled away and we were working quickly to set up beds for the kids.  I was working on Autumn's room while Jeff set up Gavin's crib (yes, he is still in his crib . . . he can't easily get on or off a bed, we fear he may fall out and he hasn't complained yet).  Jeff just finished up and ran outside to move our cars off the street.  Within 30 seconds of him leaving, Gavin shrieked out in pain.  The kind of cry that makes you run.

He had crawled under the crib - something that had never been an option because a drawer usually occupied that space.  And, he got stuck and scraped all along his back - right down his spine - as he was trying to escape.  When I picked him up, a humongous, hard lump had formed right at the spot of his defect.  Huge.  Gruesome.

This is the exact spot where spinal fluid leaked through his healing incision when he was three weeks old - resulting in a rush to Primary Children's and immediate surgery to place a VP shunt in his brain.  This is also the spot where spinal fluid leaked again - even after the shunt was placed.  So, it was a big deal.

Typically Jeff and I both have to take a moment and try to assess the situation as calmly as possible - to try to understand whether we are overreacting or not.  Right from the start, all of the symptoms of a shunt malfunction, for example, are all of the 'normal' things you'd experience with any baby . . . unusual fussiness, sleepiness, spitting up, etc.  It's a fine line between trying to treat Gavin as 'normal' as possible and not freaking out with any little symptom.

But, this time . . . we both knew.  And, we immediately split up to try to search a house that we had officially lived in for 10 minutes for everything we'd need for a trip to the ER.  

Luckily Autumn had been playing with Alida all day - and they walked in the door at the same moment we were about to walk out.  So, Autumn was able to have that sleepover that she had been begging for.

Here's a brief run-down of our night:

9:05pm   Arrive at Sick Kids ER

9:40pm   Register Gavin's name

10:30pm Meet with the nurse to discuss Gavin's case.  She lets us know that she is very concerned and is placing us at top priority in her queue.  She also warns us that several other patients are ranked at top priority in the waiting room and that estimated wait times for the most urgent cases are 3 to 4 hours.  Other lower priority cases were waiting 6 or 7 hours - just to get a room.

Jeff and I discuss whether we should drive to Buffalo.  We discuss whether we should go home.

I reiterate to the nurse that either the spinal fluid will be reabsorbed on its own and everything will be fine.  Or a disturbance in the flow of the spinal fluid could have been created and pressure could be building, potentially causing permanent brain damage . . . which could not wait 3 or 4 hours.

She was sympathetic - but, explained that there were no rooms available.  And, waiting was the only option.

12:45am  We were called back.  A room became available.  The boys got a little bit of rest.

3:20am    Gavin is finally seen by a doctor.  Luckily - because I was irrational at this point - he was extremely nice.  Unfortunately, he also openly admitted that this was a very unusual case and he was 'giving us good advice but making it up as he goes.'  He leaves to consult with the neurosurgery team.

4:30am   He finally returns.  No tests will be run.  He feels fairly confident that no additional damage has been done to Gavin's spine and that the injury has not caused blood to mix with the spinal fluid - which can also cause brain damage.  And, he schedules us for a follow-up visit with neurosurgery in a few weeks.

5:20am   Arrive back home.

7:20am   Wake up to my alarm to go visit with Autumn before school - and make sure she understands what happened the night before - and take her fresh clothes, backpack and snack.

Gavin's back is recovering.  The swelling went down.  He still complains that his back is sore.

It took us all a few days to recover from the lack of sleep.  I still haven't recovered from how insane the wait times are here.

I'll report back after the follow-up appointment.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Grandma and Grandpa Peterson Visit - Part 1

We were so lucky to have Grandma and Grandpa Peterson come to visit for almost two full weeks over Easter.  They came right before the airline ticket prices tripled - yikes.  And, although the main purpose was just to soak them up and let the kids wear them out . . . we made sure to engage them in all sorts of family traditions.

See . . . Autumn was thrilled!  Just kidding . . . she had a great time.  We just captured a serious moment.

We took them to the 2nd annual (while we're in Canada) Sugar Bush farm trip, where they make maple syrup.  It's true . . . the syrup is better in Canada.  Jeff and I have joked many times about how when we return home one day we will have a pallet or two of pure Canadian maple syrup in the truck.  

"No, sir.  We don't plan to sell or distribute those.  We just really love the syrup here."

It's probably the most expensive pancake, maple syrup and sausage breakfast you'll find . . . but, it is oh so good.  And, because they'd raised the price on the pony rides this year, the kids opted for one pony ride each and some cotton candy . . . which they promptly discovered they didn't really like (I guess sometimes it's better to bite the bullet, pay the $5 and just to let them try it rather than hear them beg for it every time they see that colorful, fluffy enticing-looking treat).

Gavin insisted that Grandma push his stroller for most of the morning.

Grandpa was definitely there.  He's just a bit trickier to catch on film.

More to come . . .

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Look Mommy! No Hands!

Gavin has a new trick. Standing. All by himself. For a few seconds at a time. It's a huge deal. And, he's so proud. And, we are so happy.  This picture says it all.

And, when he wants to get super fancy . . . he lifts his walker up and holds it in the air.  It's so amazing and cute how he feels more secure with that walker nearby.  And, Autumn is his biggest cheerleader.  She can coax him up stairs better than anyone.  I love it when I overhear their conversations and she is encouraging him to try harder.

Speaking of walkers . . . we've ordered this new fancy model that Gavin chose himself.   It's called 'the crocodile' - which just makes it that much 'cooler' to Gavin.  We look at the picture on the computer regularly and are counting down the days until we bring that puppy home for a test drive.