Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Going home.

Look who dropped by to escort me home, none other than Captain America. It pays off to be the mother of a super hero. This is SS's fifth Halloween, and her second at a hospital. That is one tradition we want to cut short.

SS was spoiled by her grandmothers, and seems much better than when she left me before surgery. Still, as soon as we get home there's going to be a serious cuddling session.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spending the night.

Three hernias, thirteen adhesions, four hours in OR. More pain than anticipated, and I must spend the night for observation. At least SS is well cared for, and that is a blessing because this is not a kid friendly facility. P was chided and asked if he had not read the sign, no kids under fourteen. He shrugged, said it's her mom and kept walking. Gotta love the guy.

Monday, October 29, 2012

It was a busy week.

Wednesday was wear crazy socks to school day, we did not go crazy, instead SS wore socks with a black kitty on them. I failed to get a close up picture of the socks. I'm sure she will wearing them again.

Wednesday was karate class day. Cutest lethal weapons ever, SS's tiny fists of fury. We are noticing an improvement in SS's confidence. On the first class, SS could not keep up with the others when asked to switch sides, but is now a pro. She is so small that sensei has to hold her when it is her turn to kick, but at least she is trying. Our goal is for the stranger danger talks to get through to our overly friendly child. We worry so much about her safety, and that is why she is rarely out of our sight.

And as with every picture, there's Baba, making sure SS smiles.

Thursday was wear crazy glasses to school day, and SS did not disappoint with her choice. It was also the day I volunteered in the classroom, and boy, was that an eye opener. There was another volunteer and our job was to review the first set of sight words with the kids. I was surprised at how many kids did not get a single word right. Especially when it was the Spanish speakers. SS reverted to her preschool behavior of whispering her answers, and missed three words.  That was upsetting because we had reviewed them the night before and she had them all down.

Our girl does not talk in the classroom, but boy does she yap during snack and lunch time.  No wonder she does not eat much, she is too busy socializing. She seems popular with the other kids, and lots want to seat next to her.

Lunch was another eye opener. The kids are supposed to seat four to each side of the table. SS's table had 13 kids, no idea how they managed to squeeze in. Just as I thought there wasn't an inch left, a little girl came and decided to squeeze next to SS. The girl was pretty skinny, yet half her butt was hanging out the seat. The teacher's aide walked by, chuckled and said "welcome to our world, it's like this every day."

At 12:24 the teacher's aide, the other mom and I were frantically collating the homework packet. WTH? So much to do on those three hours, and so much time wasted with behavior issues. K was on his second warning by 8:10 a.m., yep, barely 20 minutes into the school day. I heard his name countless of times during those three hours, and not once in a positive manner. When I tested him on his sight words he was squirming all over the place.  It seemed like more than the lack of preschool experience. Seconds after being told not to touch a child, he would do just that. JJ was sent to the Principal's office for far less, and they even had the gall to demand that he be medicated. I'm really in shock at how much E and K get away with.  No wonder SS goes by unnoticed.

Our obviously exhausted baby.  I'm glad P talked me into buying this bed. The cheapskate in me wanted something a lot less expensive. However, other than satisfying SS's request for a loft bed, we like how the sides are so high. Even though SS was heck bent on a big girl bed, she still needs the security of a crib.  This bed does the job beautifully. And I don't have to worry about her falling off the bed.

Well tomorrow is surgery, and we are worried. I was awakened by a sharp pain in my bladder area, and from previous experience it might be a UTI. Not sure how that is going to affect surgery. Hoping the pain subsides soon.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

SS's first field trip.

Last Tuesday SS went on her first school field trip, to a pumpkin patch. I was astounded at the lack of organization, until Mrs. VP told me it was their first field trip, they have never had the funds. YIKES.

SS patiently waiting to be told what to do next.

Our baby girl about to board a death trap without seat belts school bus for the first time.

Alright, we are here, where's the fun?

Corn angels.

O managed to get the teacher worried when he did not come up for air. I saw Mrs. VP freaking out and just said, "Breathe O, breathe." The boy came up for air immediately. One of SS's classmates told me that she thought she had a kernel in her nose. She was wrong, she had two kernels. Pressing on the good nostril, then blowing out of the plugged one did the trick. No need to dial 911 as one mom suggested. Really? 911? Really?

Listening to the scarecrows.

These two dudes did an amazing show explaining agriculture, and urging kids to stay in school, and go to college. Sadly. it was way too long and prevented the kids from enjoying a mini corn maze.

She had her bag and was ready to pick a mini pumpkin.

And off she went on her own again.

Back from picking her pumpkin.

I just could not get a good picture of these three wiggly worms.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Looking back...

We have always tried to prepare SS in advance for potentially upsetting events. But life is not scripted and sometimes you have to fly by the seat of your pants. On October 18, 2009, we said goodbye to Nana and Min in San Jose. We had a great weekend, were able to visit a crude version of our beloved Halloween Haunt (first year at Great America, lots of growing pains), JJ and his friend Tyler joined us. P reconnected with Nana and Grand Min, Sula visited a Children's Museum, P and I had alone time. It was an amazing time. Eleven days later I was wheeled to the OR with my precious guardian angel on the gurney with me. Diverticulitis, I was going to have a colon resection, a colostomy. The surgeon explained that the CT SCAN showed a tiny colon perforation, It would be an easy surgery, I would have a colostomy bag for a while. It would be OK. I recall P asking many questions, because that is P. But the one that cracked his voice was when he asked if it was permanent. The surgeon reassured him that it would not be, as that type of surgery occurs later in life. Lucky me, I managed to excell at getting violently ill.

I knew P was scared when he called Abuela. Calling his parents was perfectly normal, as for moral support. Abuela? If I was not in so much pain, worrying about SS and JJ, it would have alarmed me. When the surgeon explained the procedure, I just nodded. I'm thankful P is incredibly well versed in my medical woes. The surgeon could have said he was going to amputate my limbs, and I would have agreed, as long as it stopped the pain.   I signed every required form, after P, the one with his faculties intact, read and approved. 

Through all of this, SS was there, scared, wondering what was going on. I was angry at myself for the timing. There is no good timing for emergency surgery, but not on October 27, 2009. On that date, we reached a very important milestone.  It was our crossover date, SS had spent more days with us, than without us. I was looking forward to a yummy dinner, reminiscing, then lots of cuddles in bed. Instead, this was our reality...

Not that anyone cares, but there are posts in our archives about this. I was in pain I could not recall feeling before. But my guardian angel was with me. It was like having Mami and Papi watch over me and tell me it would be OK.  My angel stayed with me up to the OR. 

It was rough, like nothing we had ever experienced. I grew up walking through hospital and clinic halls, so this moment did not seem as out of place as it does now.  I think the caption on the post said that my smile was courtesy of Mr. Morphine Drip. It really was... We were saddened that SS's second Halloween would be spent in a hospital. But P made the best of it, he got SS's horns out, got her skull tutu on, and really made the best of our situation. 

It lead to SS's first stay in a US hospital. Glad that I was afflicted, not her.

SS wanted me to post this picture, no idea why.

SS's second Halloween home. Picture just outside the main entrance to the hospital.

Two of my three babies snoozing next to me.

That same night, draped by the Halloween blanket P gave me. She needed it more than me.

This is how I came home, with an open wound starting at my sternum and ending at my pubic bone. It hurt like nothing I've ever felt. But again, thanks to SS I had a lovely distraction.

Another distraction was my wound vac, and I so hated that contraption. When Abuela left and I was fending for myself with SS, I resented this thing. I crawled around to meet SS's needs. Not proud of that, but too much pain, and that stupid thing weighed me down. But that's the thing, less than humane circumstances but WE made it. I got around to meet SS's needs. We did it, my girl and I.

For the reversal surgery we had the gift of forethought, and prepared SS the best way we could. We talked abut how good it would be for Mama to have that bag gone and stoma closed.  We ordered the cutest scrubs and white coat with Dr. S embroidered. We did our best to let SS know that it was going to be OK.

Cutest doctor ever.

Before check in, P dropped by his work, because his co workers wanted to see Dr. S and her Baba. P is wearing his lab coat. I so love this picture. 

Dr. S used her working stethoscope to double check the intake nurse's vital assessments. I was so well cared for that day.

Then the nurse turned on a cartoon show and Dr. SS had to have a break.  

Same window, six months later, my baby and I.

Dr. S wearing her Snoopy scrubs, drinking juice, and watching a DVD on the bed next to Mama.

She spent the night and had her own breakfast plate the next morning.

My guardian angel was with me both times, and that has led to a lot of thinking. The thing about my surgeries is that they have lessened in terms of risk. The first one was awful, I was left opened until my surgeon could get help. Darn, no wonder it hurt so much. The second one entailed less, but still required a hospital stay. But now, my surgery is akin to having wisdom teeth pulled, simple outpatient, even with general anesthesia.

Then why are we preparing for this like it was serious? SS was there with me both times, going in, coming out, then recovery. We are blessed to have relatives and help, but I'm wondering about SS. Since this is so minor, what message are we sending by not having her before and after? SS is already showing signs of distress, why add to that? It is a simple outpatient surgery. SS can see me in at 6:00 a.m. (surgery at 8), go to school. and come back after school. I did not realize until today, that dropping me off at the hospital, picking me up after school, then coming home may be the best thing to do. It will be a sweet closure, we as a family come back home. Not sure P will be pleased, but I need my guardian angel as much as she needs me.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Reconnecting with an old friend.

Sorry about the lack of posts, Abuela was worried about us, so here we are. We are just gearing up to my surgery, appointments, and pre-operation stuff. Then there is the fact that I need to get my house ready for two weeks post op. Need to have SS's uniforms ready (so glad she has two weeks worth), regular clothes, food stored in the freezer, and so many silly little things. As luck would have it, SS has had a rather busy week. She went on her first field trip on Tuesday, karate and karate pictures on Wednesday, and I volunteered in her classroom yesterday. This morning SS participated in the weirdest and shortest costume parade at school. This afternoon we will be attending, and I will volunteer at the school's Fall Harvest Festival. Tomorrow she has a soccer game and soccer pictures.  That's right, school, karate and soccer pictures in one month. Still, we could not say no, the girl is so photogenic, and we should document these firsts. That's our story and we are sticking to it.

Years before SS came home, as when we had disposable income, we bought her one of many Halloween toys. It was sitting at the end of a check out line at Safew@y, on clearance, and we just could not resist. The price was barely $3, but not even that would entice people to take it home, due to it's sheer ugliness. But when we saw it, P and I knew we just had to have it for SS.  We bought him and don't really recall how, but either the cashier or the bagging person asked what we were going to do with it. We stated that it was for our daughter. Weird look on their faces, then a question, how old is your daughter. We explained she was not home yet, but would be about one when we met. Even weirder faces at the thought we would expose a child to such a hideous thing. We said it would either traumatize her, or she would love it, either way it would be memorable. Yeah, those things just fly out of our mouths, yet without malice.

Leave it up to SS to do both.  Initially she was traumatized, and I could have kicked P for exposing her to Albino Hershey Kiss so soon after she came home. But in true SS fashion, after tears and fears, she took charge and would knock AHK down then giggle. We have thought a lot about AHK, but could not recall where he was. Yesterday I found our Halloween bin, and decided to get some decorations up. I could not believe it when I saw AHK! I was so happy. SS had no recollection of him, which leads me to believe that we stored him after that first Halloween home. She played with him, and to my surprise did the same as she did years ago. It's so good to have AHK back, and it is definitely going into SS's memory box. And yes, we are sick freaking creatures.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm not naughty enough, I'm not loud enough...

On Fridays, SS's teacher rewards the children's behavior. She does this by awarding the educational posters they have used that week. The first week of school SS's friend E received a poster. The second week SS's friend K received a poster. As the weeks have passed, many posters have been awarded, with a lot of kids receiving more than one since school began. SS has yet to receive a poster and is feeling understandably left out. I asked E's and K's moms how the reward system works. Is our child so ill behaved that she has not had a good day in two months? Mrs. V-P is certainly not shy about telling parents when their kids have misbehaved. A sure tell sign is when she is holding a child's hand at the end of the day. That guarantees a good dressing down in front of the other parents and children.

D and N (the moms) have volunteered in the classroom, and assured me that SS is perhaps the best behaved one in class. She does not speak out of turn, sits as expected, does not chit chat during class, listens to instructions. They also stated that SS does not go out of her way to stand out, she does not raise her hand to answer questions, when her class mates are falling over each other doing that. This did not surprise us, because it is typical SS, amazing front stage behavior, while letting all hell break loose at home. Also, classical post institutionalized behavior.  N and D stated that the teacher asks who has not received a poster, but SS "does not get into the fray." Our daughter is getting lost in the shuffle, falling through the cracks, being ignored on a daily basis. All that because she is well behaved.

We have immense respect for teachers, it is a difficult job, and the reason why we did not choose it as a profession. However, it should not be the child's duty to inform the teacher that her good behavior has not been rewarded. I am not in the classroom, yet I know how many kids have come home with a poster, some multiple times. There's another disturbing side to this reward system. E and K happen to be two of the biggest trouble makers in the classroom. K is in danger of being suspended, and E, well, she is loud and proud.  Mrs. V-P rewards them when they disturb the class less than usual. HUH? WTF? Now we are rewarding poor behavior? This really adds insult to injury.

Recently SS complained that she has never received a poster and that it makes her feel sad.  I told her that her turn would come, to be patient and wait (totally regretting saying that now). At home, SS was working on her homework, and out of the blue said. "I'm never going to get one." I asked her how come she said that. SS very matter of fact stated "I'm not naughty enough, I'm not loud enough, they don't see me." If you want to have your heart shattered into a million pieces, that statement would do it. Five year olds are not insightful creatures, they are  narcissistic, solipsistic, unable to see beyond their needs. It is disturbing that our five year old daughter was able to articulate her feelings so eloquently. No five year old should have to be made feel that way. Eloquent and insightful yes, but still hurtful and completely unnecessary.

We tried to talk to SS's teacher twice, without success. Apparently we are as invisible as our daughter. P's initial reaction was f*ck it, we are changing teachers. That is indeed a possibility, but SS's wall flower, post institutionalized behavior will continue.  No matter how much she cried, she never received more than 24 ounces of formula a day.  No matter how much she cried, no one held her.  No matter how much she cried, no one soothed her after a night terror. No matter how much she cried, no one played with her, taught her to use a toy, cuddled with her. P's second reaction was to look into private school. SS was treated extremely well in preschool, and it is true that you get what you pay for. Well Mr. Moneybags, you were hell bent on this program. I was skeptical all along, because I was concerned about SS's command of English, before adding the rigors of a second language. SIGH

We talked to Nana yesterday, because we were at the end of our rope in terms of frustration. Since we had discussed this ad naseum, we did not beat around the bush, we said that SS was being ignored in the classroom. Nana's first question was if SS was well behaved. And yes therein lies the problem.  Nana told us that she has apologized to kids for not knowing their names, because she did not have to use it enough. However, she was referring to her current position as a substitute teacher. Kids she has never met before, and in classes with many more kids than SS's. That is completely understandable.  Nevertheless SS's situation is a direct result of her good behavior. What to do?

SS is not in school today, and we do not feel comfortable having her return until we address this issue with her teacher. Communication is non existent despite our efforts, and we need to change that. We have yet to receive any feedback regarding SS's behavior or academic performance.  We know she is learning Spanish, because it is obvious, not because her teacher has taken the time to inform us.  She has yet to say anything to us about our child, other than ask if she was adopted. According to Nana, schools have already held parent-teachers conferences. SS's school does not hold those for kindergarten. They reasoned that orientation was sufficient.  The problem is that due to safety concerns, parents are not allowed past the front gate, let alone in the classroom. I have completed the process to obtain a badge to be allowed to volunteer in the classroom. I was waiting until after my surgery to volunteer, but that might not be possible.

P is hand delivering a note to SS's teacher this morning. We tried sending a message through the school website, but it requires login with your child's student ID. When I asked the office registrar for this information she said she had no idea what I was talking about. We tried sending an e-mail, by looking at other email addresses and try to figure out Mrs. V-P's (they all usually follow the same format), again without success.  Really, it should not be this difficult. teacher's number one complaint is uninvolved parents. Here we are bending over backwards trying to communicate, and we get nothing in return.

Seriously, how can anyone ignore this angel? SS's kindergarten picture, and that is one weird pose there. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

For the love of trick or treating.

We definitely know how to pick uncomfortable situations. SS's first visit to Camp Spooky had us sweating buckets. SS is proving to be totally P's child, because she was not detered, even when we thought she was about to pass out from the heat at one of the Peanuts shows.  Our fearless pirate began her spooktacular adventure by engaging in a scavenger hunt, that yielded more sugar than is healthy to ingest. SS only got on two rides, she is secure that she has many returns ahead of her.

After the show we decided to have SS change into a T-shirt and shorts until the costume parade. She would have none of it and only accepted the T-shirt. We then went in a restaurant to enjoy the AC.  P took the opportunity to visit the Halloween Haunt museum they have in honor of the Haunt's 40th anniversary. Since SS is scared by most anything, I sat with SS while P got his gory fix. SS wanted to go with him and was whining and begging. I explained that Baba was going to look at scary things, and she could not handle it.  SS argued that she would not get scared, so I changed tactics and told her that it was for adults only.  A staff person came by our table, said hi to SS and asked her what she was up to. SS responded "We are here waiting for Baba who went to do scary adult things." The guy at the table next to us almost spit out his drink. Thanks SS, nice of you to tell a staff member that your perverted Baba is loose in a park full of children.

On the way out we (P) purchased our Halloween Haunt tickets and mandatory T-shirts. It's our thing, and we missed that silly ritual.  I asked P to pose with SS in front of a billboard advertising the Haunt and costume party at Camp Snoopy.  Another Haunt ritual is to take a picture pointing at the day we attend the Haunt. A family came up to us as we were about to leave, and the father said he would take our picture if we returned the favor. Sweet, we got our first Haunt picture with SS. 

Ready to get her trick or treat on.

Only ten minutes in the park and she managed to pillage an airplane.

Sugar rush!

P waited so long for this moment. I'm glad he finally got his wish.

This pirate is ready for the show to begin. Beware, she's got a sword and is not afraid to use it (see video below).

By the time the stage costume stroll began it was 98 degrees. Yet SS is a pro, and took one for the team to show Baba that Halloween is a sacred family thing.

It's so good to be back home.

SS is such a funky chicken, and here she is doing her pirate dance. When she turns sideways she is actually swinging the sword around at a girl dressed as a princess. Cracked me up.