Monday, August 31, 2015

Lightly Row

Kate was excited when she realized that the new tune she was learning on the flute sounded very much like one of the Chinese songs she knows, "Rowing the Boat". She has now learned the notes C, A, B, B flat, G and F.
Kate playing flute from Lisa on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The power of social media

To follow-up on my Capital One rant of yesterday: they are back in our good graces. No details but suffice to say we were finally able to resolve our issues after they saw my post and decided they might like to discuss the matter to an agreeable resolution. I held out for three weeks hoping they would do the right thing by us...unfortunately it took public shaming to finally get someone to help us. It's a pity it came to that but I am glad they stepped up and did the right thing in the end.

Fistula surgery repair

Lucy's initial surgery to repair her cleft fistula and nose was back on June 10. We opted to try the Actifuse  in an effort to avoid the more invasive use of her hip bone to repair the opening. Unfortunately, I noticed some of the graft showing through her gumline and later, her nose began to ooze runny blood, especially after she had exerted herself (running, climbing, etc). So she was scheduled for surgery yesterday to fix those issues.

Waiting for the nurse to arrive, she was happy to sprawl out and watch a little tv without having to negotiate with her sister about which show to watch.
Her surgery took about 60 minutes. In addition to repairing her gumline, it turned out a hole had reopened in her nose so more sutures were required there as well. She did really well with the procedure but I've learned that anesthesia and pain killers make her pretty darn surly! She was ordering me around pretty much all day and extended that to the nurse, demanding popsicles and tv as soon as she was coherent enough to talk. I had to remind her that just because she was not feeling well, using words like please and thank you were still a requirement for getting people to help you!
Once again, she wanted to oversee the removal of her IV line. She managed to negotiate taking home the blood pressure cuff, another cuff that keeps all of the IV lines in place and the splint that keeps your arm straight!
The first of 4 popsicles.
This is Lucy's version of heaven at the moment: Morphine, Lion King on the tv, the remote in her possession, and popsicles in bed!
Back at home, she curled up under a blanket on the sofa and was soon joined by Bella. This cat seems to just know when someone isn't feeling well. She was napping on the chair across the room but she got up and came over to sit on top of Lucy (how she knew that Lucy was the one who needed comfort I don't know because Kate was also sitting under a blanket on the sofa and Bella normally gravitates to Kate because she can be still for longer).
And this is where they stayed until I rang the dinner bell, when all three ladies came into the kitchen for supper.
She's back on a soft diet for 2-3 weeks and then another checkup with the doc. After that, he'll want to see her next year to evaluate whether or not the Actifuse is doing its job. He didn't sound very optimistic in that department, saying that it didn't look like she was growing enough bone so far to make it thick enough to fill. Fortunately, we have time on our side as most bone grafts using bone taken from the hip are done around 8-9 years old. By then, we should have a much better idea about the viability of this procedure.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Capital One has totally failed us

Our return from vacation has been bumpy. We came home to find out we had been victims of identity theft and fraud. From our credit cards to our bank account to the hacking of my cell phone. The thieves were thorough and adept but fortunately, our bank was wiser and we didn't lose anything there. My phone was eventually sorted out after many HOURS on the phone at the store (nobody in person could actually help of course so we had to stand in the store on their phone...).

But let me just say that CAPITAL ONE totally sucks. We've been a loyal, bill paying, non-defaulting client for almost 2 decades and now they say they cannot help us. They did acknowledge the fraudulent activity and thankfully shut down the cards. But now, after many, many, many hours on the phone with them, they have said we can reapply for a card but that we may not be approved anymore. In fact, we did reapply already and were flatly denied, no reason given. We are being penalized for fraudulent activity that they have acknowledged we did not commit.

So, buyer beware. If you happen to do business with Capital One and are the victims of identity theft or fraud, they will throw you under the bus.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Oh Summer, Oh Summer, Where for art thou, Summer?

It seems Summer has taken a bit of a hiatus of late. I'm not sure we actually got very far out of the 60s today. We still have 1 1/2 weeks until school starts and I'm really hoping it warms up enough to swim again before the pools close.

In the meantime, we've continued on with Mommy Camp. We met up for a playdate with C. Her mom and I met through book club a few years ago. She's now fighting breast cancer (I CAN NOT believe another one of my friends has this) so we brought over some food and stayed to play for a bit.
Kate really wanted to polish her nails so Len laid down a tarp (!) and I came out for breakfast to find this on our kitchen floor. I thought at first she had cut her toe and was bleeding out but no, just a bit of a polishing flub.
A new crayon book was released (the first book was "The Day the Crayons Quit") so we went to the book reading at our local bookstore.

Next stop: our local ice cream shop. It got 2 thumbs up.
We're still working on art projects. This one is a fairy jar. No pics of the finished project as I keep forgetting to snap a photo before they go to bed but the link gives a much better one than I could. We used glow in the dark paint instead of the glow sticks though. They love having them on their dressers as they go to sleep.

Another playdate with C. This time to the Botanic Garden to see the Corpse Flower. It still hasn't bloomed so no stinky smell! Contrary to the pictures, C was lovely to be with--she was just ready to have a pickle with lunch and we were not moving fast enough in that direction!
Pickle needs satisfied, we headed to the rose garden where the girls raced back and forth on the lawn for a while. Then Kate spotted the Taiwanese family and went over to chat. They realized she could speak a bit of limited Mandarin so she spent the next 1/2 hour entertaining them. Lucy was way more interested in speaking "lion" (she is still in her Lion King phase....).
I couldn't resist snapping a photo or two of everyone taking pics of our girls with their babies.

One of the women teaches Mandarin at a local university. She pointed out that Kate's accent is Northern Chinese and is "very good". Although Lucy was pretty shy around them, she did quietly answer a few questions before grabbing me and "play hiding" behind my legs. She still gets very clingy with me when she gets attention from Chinese families.

Kate, meanwhile, spent some time singing a few Chinese songs to this little guy, who positively loved it.

C and her dad needed to head home and the babies needed a nap so we said our goodbyes and the three of us headed to the veggie gardens where the girls played with worms, planted lettuce seeds to bring home and communed with some ducks before heading home ourselves.

Here's hoping tomorrow's surgery goes well and she can spend the next 1 1/2 weeks of summer vacation having fun. At least I know ice cream will be in our future! We have to be at the hospital by 6:30am so I'm off to bed shortly.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Annual physicals

Since we've returned from vacation, I've been shuttling the girls to various appointments required for kindergarten. Kate had an eye exam:

She passed. Lucy had hers back in January and since insurance only covers one exam/calendar year, we just had them fill out the school forms based on that test.

Next up was a visit to the dentist for those forms to be filled out. Lucy is out of her mouth jewelry (palate expander) for now until her fistula is healed. Kate had a new mold taken for another expander. We'll go pick that up in 2 weeks.

Today was physical day. Both are healthy and thriving, nothing major to note. Here are their updated stats (last year's numbers are in parenthesis).

Kate: Height: 43 1/4" (40 1/2")    Weight: 43 1/4 lbs (37 lbs)
Lucy: Height: 45 1/4" (43")          Weight: 43 lbs (39 lbs)

Kate is having a growth spurt and is closing the gap between them. They are almost identical in weight and the height difference is less than it was last year. He didn't measure their feet but they are very different. Lucy is in kid size 12: although her feet are very narrow, they are long. Kate is in a kid size 11-11.5 but her feet are wide so finding the right shoes are harder. They don't make many kid's shoes in wide widths but size 12 is much too long, making her heel come out when she walks.

Dr. E got stethoscopes for both of them to use, listening to each other's heartbeats and then to mine and then Dr. E's. He showed them his carotid artery and they listened to that as well. Listening through the stethoscope was a good way to test their hearing.

They dodged getting a vaccination today as he used up all 24 of his varicella vaccines this week. We'll hold off until after Lucy's surgery (which is next Wednesday). Since school doesn't start until September 8, we've got a bit of time yet to take care of that.

We went to the playground after the appointment where the girls practiced climbing the OUTSIDE of the various slides. It really doesn't matter how much playgrounds are designed to maximize safety, kids will make up their own challenges!

Lucy's latest accomplishment, that she has been working on for a couple of weeks, is climbing poles. She tries on nearly every sign post as we have our evening walks but they are a larger circumference than playground poles so she has trouble getting a good grip. Today she skinnied up the pole at this park with no problem:
Pole climbing from Lisa on Vimeo.

As mentioned, Lucy is having surgery again on Wednesday to repair her gumline where the Actifuse is showing through. We'll also have him take a look at her nose. It has been bleeding a bit. Dr. E took a look inside and it looked red but he couldn't see any stitches remaining. Lucy still complains of tenderness so we'll have the surgeon take a deeper look while she's under anesthesia.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Spartan Race 2015

Both of the girls wanted to run the Spartan Race this year so we headed out to Marseilles, IL Sunday morning. After 1 1/2 hours on the road, we finally arrived and got checked in. And can I just say it was ASS HOT. It was 98 sticky, still, humid degrees by 11am.

The girls put on their new shirts to pose in front of the sign before we headed over to the kid's area.

They decided to change out of the new shirts so they wouldn't get muddy so Lucy put on her shirt from last year and gave Kate a reassuring hug right before race-time.
The start line. And no, they didn't remove the gate keeping them penned in. To start the race, they had to climb over it.
We tried as much as possible to stay off the course and let our girls do it on their own or with the help of the Spartan volunteers. This was not the case with a lot of other parents who were lifting their kids over, spotting them and running alongside them the whole way. Can you say "helicopter parent"??

Lucy made it over by herself and then stayed to help Kate over. Kate eventually required adult assistance to make it over though.
Next up was a series of calisthenics including 5 burpees. Len had taught them how to do burpees so they were pretty jazzed when they knew what to do without having to watch the other kids.
On to the next obstacle. Lucy, who is the faster runner, kept holding back to stay with Kate.
They each needed to step on a volunteer's knee to make it over the next obstacle.

The course was a 1/2 mile run, including all the obstacles.
They needed to throw a javelin and hit the target. Neither of them could throw it far enough to hit the target so they had a penalty:
 Five more burpees is the penalty for missing!
Where Lucy is the sprinter in the family, Kate is the marathoner, and she took the lead when it came to the long running portion of the course.
The next obstacle was the crawl under the wires.

Up next was supposed to be the mud crawl/climb but the two mud ponds had become contaminated. That was kind of a bummer because that's the really cool part of the race!

On to the next obstacle and Lucy scaled it with no problem.
Kate needed a boost from a volunteer's leg.
They were pretty hot and tired by the finish and ended up walking the last few feet to the tent.
Finishers with their medals!
After water, bananas and protein bars, they were ready to try the challenges in the adult areas. Lucy started climbing.
 She made it halfway to the bell before sliding back down.
Kate tried.
Bless her heart.
Lucy managed 2 pull-ups after getting a lift up to the bar from Len.
She really wanted to move this tire.
 Fortunately, they had a smaller one nearby and she did manage to pull that one.

 Before tipping it over!
Kate was determined to keep up with her sister so she managed to flip the tire as well.
We nabbed a spot at a table under a tent and Len schlepped to the car for our cooler. We ate lunch and wanted to go watch some of the adult event but it was just SO.DAMN.HOT.

And there were flies. Lots of flies.
They are already talking about doing the 1 mile course next year, in spite of it all.


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