Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Dos and Don'ts of Abdominal Surgery

Since I had my very first (and hopefully only) abdominal surgery on 12-21, I am now an expert on all things related to both the abdomen and surgery (I am a blogger, that's how this works - we blog therefore we know).

And because I know my legions (i.e. 90) blog followers look to me for guidance and wisdom (/sarcasm), I have decided to compile a list of the Dos and Don'ts of abdominal surgery. Maybe you'll be able to sense a theme. Enjoy.

DO shave your legs the day before (or morning of) surgery. It'll be awhile before you'll be able to do that again, and the less time your legs have for reforestation, the better.

DON'T wear shoes with laces to the hospital. Slippers all the way. It's easier on you and your surgery buddy (in my case, my husband).

DO go shopping the day/night before and stock up on supplies. DO buy smaller containers of milk as you will not be able to life a gallon post surgery and won't want to ask someone to fix you a bowl of cereal every morning.

DO buy Jamie Lee Curtis' pooping yogurt. Just do it.

DON'T wait to take your stool softeners. Take them as prescribed. Just trust me. Especially if you're using your painkillers regularly.

DON'T drink a half a bottle of laxative even if your surgeon tells you it's a good idea. It is not.
DO get a heating pad. It is like heaven.

DON'T watch funny or overly sad movies during recovery. Laughing and crying hurt - and then you'll be quite sore the next day.

DO try and get someone to watch your kids (if you have them) for a few days after surgery. Especially if they're little. They'll have more fun and you'll get some time to relax.

DO take post surgery belly pictures so you can gross out your friends on facebook. Or not, this one isn't as imperative as the others.

DO invest in baggy pajama pants, even if that means stealing some from your husband/boyfriend/partner/brother/father/etc. Loose dresses also work if you're into dresses. I lived in pajama pants for almost a week and was a little sad to make the switch back into normal clothes.

DO attempt to walk as much as possible. It will be uncomfortable, but sitting in the ER looking 5 months pregnant and having them tell you there's nothing they can do for you (after two bad IV sticks, an ultrasound, and an x-ray) is much more uncomfortable than pacing the living room post surgery.

And finally, DO give yourself time to heal. Recovery sucks, so stock up on your favorite movies/TV shows and watch them as you walk circles into your carpet in an attempt to get all the CO2 out of your abdominal cavity. Let people wait on you a little. Take up knitting.

Tomorrow is 7 days post-op and I'm finally feeling almost normal. I still need to watch what I lift/carry but I've weaned myself off the narcotic pain killers and am just taking Ibuprofen for pain. I'm hoping that I'll be 100% by the time the semester starts in a week & a half. The kids have mostly adjusted to a sick mama, but Griffin still wants to be held occasionally. We compromise by sitting side by side on the couch and snuggling - he's quite the snuggler. I'll be sad when he looses that - one of my favorite things in the world is when he wraps his arms around me and whispers "I love you mama."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


December has been busy and it's only going to get busier. Well, possibly.

We started the month with Penelope's birthday, then had a dance recital, finals week, a cookie decorating party, and Friday - a surgery (mine).

So let's start at the top.

Penny's birthday party was the 1st weekend of December. It was small, but fun. We did a Reading Rainbow Theme and I made rainbow colored cake pops, hung oodles of streamers, and had dozens of balloons. I bought foam bookmarks and door hangers and the guests decorated them with various foam shapes. I wish I had pictures of the adults decorating, it was rather amusing.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
As you can see, my 1st attempt at cake pops was rather... well, terrible.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
But the end product looked pretty nice. Bryan painted the cake pop holder for me.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Here's the birthday girl with the Bubs.

After the party we went to see a movie and it's then that I started feeling rather unwell. I'd been diagnosed with gallstones ages ago, but had been able to control it with diet... no longer. That night I went into the ER and, after a comedy of errors, finally made it home at 4am to get some sleep.

My favorite part of the night (they really need to develop a sarcasm font) was when I had to drive from Salinas to Marina to get my pain medication prescription filled. In the rain. That was fun.

I wasn't feeling well the next day, so we stayed in a decorated the tree. While my parents are live tree advocates, I'm quite happy with our fake tree. The kid were too:

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

I took that Monday off from work to visit the doctor and was quickly referred to a surgeon. My consultation was on the 17th and my surgery is now scheduled for the 21st. It's outpatient and will hopefully be quick and uneventful. My parents will take the kids for a few days (thank goodness they're out here!) and we're going to see how I'm feeling on Sunday before we decide what to do for Christmas. I'd hate to miss out on the festivities, but I'm no sure how I'll recover - so we'll play it by ear.

Fortunately we were still able to have our annual cookie decorating party, complete with Star Wars cookies:

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Both kids were much more involved than last year and we all had a good time. This was the second year we've thrown this party (but not the second year of cookies, we've done that every year for as long as I can remember).

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
This is a just a small section of the drying cookies.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Griffin's "masterpiece"

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
I honestly don't know what I was thinking. But I can't "bear" to eat it now.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Here's a very goofy Bubs being... very goofy... as he decorates cookies.

Speaking of Bubby, 3 of the last 4 nights he's woken up dry! I'm so proud of him.

I had more I wanted to type, but I took a pain pill earlier and they make me loopy, so it's off to bed for me!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

An Impomptu Conversation about Gay Marriage

Today while Bryan and Griffin took the dog for a walk, Penelope and I stayed at home and played with her Horde of Dolls (HD). For her birthday she got a dozen Disney Princess dolls from my parents and has enjoyed changing their clothes and making them fight dragons.

While we were playing today, she wanted them all to get married. And since they're all Disney Princesses, they all have Princes... I'm not quite comfortable with that, for a variety of reasons.

I know that her obsession with Princesses is a stage. As is her obsession with marriage. Bryan and I are married, so are her Granny and Grandpa. Her daycare provider is married. A significant number of the adults in her life are married and it's natural that she would replicate the relationships she sees in her imaginary play.

And while I have a number of friends with same sex partners (some married, some not married), we don't see these people as often as I'd like. So I worry, because that's what I do.

I worry that the prevailing cultural attitudes towards women & LGBTQI2-S will be stronger than the message they get at home. I see this in her insistence that pink is "only for girls" and some things are "only for boys" - and while we work at home to change that, it's an uphill battle to fight against the message she gets a daycare, on TV, and even in books.

Bryan and I have had multiple conversations about our parental goals. We want our kids to be happy and healthy. College? Would be great, but it isn't necessary, our kids can be productive members of society without a BA/MA/PhD. Politics? They don't have to vote the same way we do, the just need to vote. Religion? While I do hope my children are Atheists (like we are) we will support them if they decide to join a religious or spiritual group.

But I will consider myself a failure of a parent if my children don't support equality for all people.

And so, when Penelope insists that all her Princesses marry Princes, I can't just let it be. Here's what that conversation look like:

Our conversation...

 And then, after we talk, Mulan and Snow White exchange their vows...

The Wedding

Love, Love, Love. Love is all you need.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

20 Questions for the Birthday Girl

This is idea I stole from many other mommies. The object is to ask your child the same series of 20 questions on their birthdays and see how things change (or stay the same!). I meant to do it last year, but never got around to it. So here's the 1st one for Penelope... hopefully I'm on the ball and get Griffin's started in 2013 for his 3rd birthday.
1. What is your favorite color?   ummmmm.... pink
2. What is your favorite toy?   Rapunzel doll
3. What is your favorite fruit?   melon
4. What is your favorite tv show?   My Little Pony
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?   macaroni and cheese
6. What is your favorite outfit?   my owl shirt
7. What is your favorite game?   Tangeled (it's a LeapPad game)
8. What is your favorite snack?   apple
9. What is your favorite animal?   giraffe (laughs) giraffes are so funny
10. What is your favorite song?   The Little Mermaid song (A Part of Your World for those not in the know).
11. What is your favorite book?   The Little Mermaid
12. Who is your best friend?   Hailey (a girl from daycare)
13. What is your favorite cereal?   Life cereal
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?   riding bicycles
15. What is your favorite drink?   milk
16. What is your favorite holiday?   ummm....hmmm... Spring
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?   dolls (and by dolls, she does mean multiple objects... like all of them)
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?   Cheerios
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?   a sandwich
20. What do you want to be when you grow up?   an Astronaut... or Alice (from Alice in Wonderland).

It was actually a lot of fun to sit and do these with her. She gave them a lot of thought and was very proud of the completed sheet. I'll have to place it in her "yearbook" or start some sort of scrapbook for them. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby

Today Penelope is 4. My sweet and silly sissy is now so grown up, that she often talks about things that "happened when I was a little kid" - things like our family pictures last year, or when we lived in Sacramento, or even things that happened last week. Nearly everything in the past is described as an event that happened when she was "little" which is both charming and hilarious.
PhotobucketIt's also a sign that she has rather clear grasp of a linear timeline. She can also articulate things that will happen in the future using appropriate (albeit) amusing vocabulary. Example: "Mommy, when I'm a bigger kid I'll go to Kindergarten and teach my students."

I've already talked about how tall she is for her age - but she's also advanced in other ways. She can identify and draw parallel lines (she does call them parallel lines), horizontal, and vertical lines. She talks about organic shapes.  She can tell you what primary colors are and how to make other colors from primary colors (thank you Mr. Pencil Saves Doodleberg).
She can do some basic math (2 people plus 1 person = 3 people... she can do this with concrete objects, not yet with abstract numbers).

She's becoming quite the artist and can draw a multitude of objects, most of which actually resemble the things she's drawing.

She's got her name down, and can copy anything we write.

She can put together complex puzzles (think 48+ pieces). She knows we live on the planet Earth and can pick it out on a map of the solar system. She can also identify the Sun, Mars, the Moon, and Jupiter. She wants to become an astronaut after she graduates from Kindergarten (yes, she really said that).
penny-recital1She has a dozen or so sight words but isn't quite reading independently. She has almost 80% of our book collection memorized. And we have A LOT of books.

Once she hears a song, she can remember a significant chunk of the song/lyrics, even after hearing it just once. With songs she already knows well, she'll make up new words to the song.

She loves ballet and actually pays attention for a full 45 minute class - which is amazing because I have 15 or so highs school students who can't pay attention for that long.


She is super sweet and sensitive. The other day, in a rare moment of defiance, she told me she wasn't going to take a bath. When I gently but firmly escorted her into her room to get ready for said bath, she turned to me, and with big tears in her eyes said "Mommy, I'm sorry I talked back to you." Then she gave me a huge hug.

5a65d2bc, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad AppWhen she didn't want to sit on my lap during the holiday parade in downtown, I made an exaggerated frowny face and she scrunched up her face, came over to me, gave me a hug, and said "I'm so sorry I made you sad Mommy." To which I replied "Oh my sweet Sissy, you didn't make Mommy sad, I love you." And she replied, "I love you too Mommy, you're the best Mommy I ever had. The best Mommy in the whole world."

She loves her brother even though he exasperates her (and lets be real, who doesn't that child exasperate?)

She always uses her manners. She is thoughtful, welcoming, loving, goofy, and warm. She is amazing and we are so very lucky to be her parents.

So happy birthday baby girl. You came into this world quietly with your eyes wide open and changed our lives. You give 100% of yourself every day to whatever it is you're doing - you love almost everyone and you love them without reservations. We love you with all our hearts, and you inspire love in others as well.

Here are some of my favorite past posts about Pen. Enjoy!
Penelope's birth story
Penelope's birth slideshows (actual pictures of birth and breastfeeding).
Peanut Penny
Bats for snack

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Penelope's Growth

6 years: 50 inches, 47 lbs
5 years: 48 inches, 42 lbs
4 years: 43.5 inches, 41.0 lbs
28 months: 39 inches, 33.1 lbs
26 months: 38.5 inches, 32.1 lbs
21 months: 37 inches, 31.8 lbs
18 months: 35 inches, 30 lbs
15 months: 34.25 inches, 28.8 lbs
12 months: 32 inches, 27.1 lbs
9 months: 30.5 inches, 25.1 lbs
6 months: 29 inches, 21.2 lbs
4 months: 28.5 inches, 17.13 lbs
2 months: 24.75 inches, 12.12 lbs
At birth: 20.75 inches, 7.15 lbs

Griffin's Growth

5 years - 3 feet 11.25 inches (47.25 inches), 51 lbs
3 years - 3 feet 5.25 inches, 40lbs
18 months - 34.5 inches, 27.13lbs
12 months - 32 inches, 26.5lbs*
10 months - 31.75 inches, 23.4 lbs
7 months - 29.25 inches, 21.4 lbs
5 months - 28.5 inches, 17.9 lbs*
4 months - 28 inches, 15.5 lbs
3 months - 27 inches, 13.10 lbs
2 months - 25.125 inches, ?? lbs
1 month - 24 inches, 10.13 lbs
At birth - 22.5 inches, 9.1 lbs
*with diaper

Izzy's Growth

2 months: 23.25 inches, 10.8 lbs
At Birth: 22 inches, 8.11 lbs

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