Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Clubfoot Saga Update

Last week the final cast came off in the initial series done by Dr. Dobbs. We can't thank him enough for all that he's done and how wonderful her feet are coming along. At the moment she's wearing her FAB for much of the day, getting a little time out each evening in order to relearn how to walk and to stretch her legs a bit. We'll start letting her have more time out as she gains confidence in walking once again.

When we returned to therapy on Monday, Laura was refusing to walk and really didn't want to stand up much, either. Our PT suggested that we encourage her to stand at a table that was high enough that she couldn't bend over it at her waist. Not having such a table meant that Poppy's talent for pulling a rabbit out of a hat, or in this case coming up with something Laura could use was quickly put to the test. This is what he produced, in just a short evening mind you.

When we went back for our second session of PT today, Merri Jo helped me take some pictures to share with Dr. Dobbs so he could see her progress and let us know if we would need further intervention or casting right now. Here is the most important picture we took today.

Let me contrast that with the one taken of her feet before Dr. Dobbs started the casting process. You may remember that we were facing bone surgery in order to correct what was diagnosed as 'heel varus' in about a year or so. Dr. Dobbs suggested casting to recorrect the feet instead. I think it is working!

In the past we've used SMO's to help her with stability, and then to keep her foot from getting any worse. It also seemed to help her be less tired when walking a lot. This morning our PT asked us to put them back on her to see if it helped her with stability again as she learns how to walk after spending a month in casts. She's standing in them at Poppy's table just before we left for therapy. And here she is in them at therapy. You'll note that when compared to her standing without them, she's much more relaxed and doesn't hyperextend her knees. I think we'll be using the SMO's for awhile longer.

All in all, we're quite pleased with her progress and look forward to buying normal shoes some time soon!


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! I spent much of it in the kitchen, and we all ate ourselves in to oblivion, but overall it was a wonderful day. I intended to capture the day in pictures but alas the kitchen kept me far too busy. So here are just a few of the things that happened while our family and a friend or two had gathered together to give thanks for all we have been blessed with this year.

Every year, the ads are a common activity for those who still have Christmas shopping to do. Here's Jan planning some of her shopping.

And here's Diane. She was eating pie but conveniently put the plate down when I entered the room with a camera...

We have a new member in the family. Libby lives at Auntie Diane's house but Laura secretly thinks she's hers.

And no family holiday gathering would be complete without a rousing game of PIT.

Laura always finds ways to keep busy. She LOVES her Sweet Streets houses.

At the end of the day we were all packing up to go home. I think Libby hoped she'd get out just one more time to play before heading home.

But reality sunk in and she gave up, ready to rest up for the next family gathering.

The Casts Come Off!

Secretly, for the last or so of casting I had a private countdown going. Every time there was some difficulty dealing with a 3 year old in full double leg casts I'd do a quick tally and remind myself that there was only so many days, so many hours and so many minutes left until she'd be cast free again. I guess I'm selfish but I just wanted to give her a bath!!! And not so secretly, Laura said several times that she'd prefer to keep the casts on. I think she realized she got preferential treatment, including extra television hours, and she wasn't about to let go of that without voicing her preference. Last Monday, common sense and Mommy won out. Our wonderful PT, Miss Merri Jo, removed her casts so we didn't have to drive to St. Louis just for that. You'll note that Laura wasn't nearly as excited about the whole thing as I was. :)

Here she is getting started:

And here she is in the midst of the stress:

And finally! Done and back in tights!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Score Another One For The Potty Princess!!!

Well, number two actually. But I'm getting ahead of myself. :) After all, she scored the biggie this time. Yes, that's right. She did it. She perservered and it paid off. She stuck with it, waited patiently and she was rewarded with a few wonderful sounds of success. She went poopy on the potty!!! And it was a momentous occassion for several reasons.

In a magnificent gesture to assist his sister with her latest desire, and in an ongoing effort to get out of clearing the table from dinner, Jonathan did what any normal, helpful, big brother would do when faced with the persistent cries of his three year old sister pleading with someone, anyone to put her on the potty. He chose a numb bucket over dirty dishes. After all, what was more important, right? He valiantly helped her peel off her tights, stripped her of her skirt and helped her center the potty ring on just right. Then he braced himself and hefted her up there making sure everything was correctly aligned. In an effort to be sure she didn't catch a chill, he then went above and beyond. What, I'm not sure. But how many times have you walked in to the bathroom to find your hand towel, the one you use when your hands are clean, draped across the lap of someone sitting on the potty??? Yeah, it was first for me, too. I think I'll be changing the towels in there daily for awhile.

Anyway, he perservered right along with Laura, entertaining her through it all. He worked hard to keep her mind on her duty while making sure she didn't get too frustrated with the wait. I think he was about to break in to song, a true act of desperation on his part, when he heard the first fruits of his, well her, labors. By the time he heard the confirmation of another following, he was running out of the bathroom to spread the good news. I gave him a big hug and told him I was really proud of him. Not only had he managed to help Laura accomplish her first big job on the potty, he'd done it without numbing his butt checks in to oblivion, enabling him to share with the rest of the household her accomplishments in true Paul Revere style.

After making sure everything was cleaned up, Jonathan proceeded to produce what is known around here as 'potty currency' or more commonly referred to as M&M's. You get three when you use the potty and ten when you go poopy. I think he gave her more but hey, it was her first time. I can only hope that the trend continues. I figure that when you can time your diaper dumps to coincide with your need for attention at any given moment, it's time to be doing your business on the porcelain throne. KWIM?

Meanwhile, I'm very proud of them both. And I have a renewed feeling that someday, and perhaps someday even sooner than I ever imagined, I'll be able to stop picking up big purples boxes of diapers every time I enter Target. Someday... someday...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Daddy Is Definitely On Vacation...

Yes, Daddy is home on vacation. Not only do I look forward to these times, but the boys and Laura enjoy them thoroughly as well. Daddy hasn't had any vacation days since the summer when he had several weeks off that he spread out over the warmer days. We all got used to him being here and when he disappeared regularly to work again, we all went through withdrawal. But not this week. Oh no. Daddy will get his fill and then some of playing dollhouse, babies and even reading preschool books and playing Memory.

Laura is in her element. Just last week she was complaining that Daddy wasn't home and she wanted him to be here when she got up. I told her that her time was coming. It arrived this morning. Daddy got her up. Daddy fed her breakfast and Daddy is sitting next to her as she watches a cavalcade of Christmas PBS shows on video.

At one point there seemed to be a lull in the noise so I thought I'd go check and see how they were doing and share a bit of my recent Christmas online shopping purchases with Daddy. As I was standing there talking to him Laura interrupted. Nothing unusual in that. But what she said just cracked me up. As I paused to take a breath Laura stepped in to the conversation. She said "Mommy, go away. Daddy and I are playing!"

After cracking up I wondered if that would work for me. You know... those times when Daddy and Mommy are trying very hard to get in some privileges of married life but can't seem to manage it due to constant interruptions. Perhaps I can just say "Matthew/Jonathan, go away. Daddy and I are playing." Hmmmm... I guess not. But hey, it was worth a try at least once, right!?!? :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Say Goodnight Gracie, Er, Laura!

For a variety of reasons, not limited to the lack of oxygen for almost two years or sleeping with casts or shoes on a bar, Laura absolutely HATES sleeping with a blanket. In her bed, that is. She'll jump in our bed and slip under our covers pretending to be asleep without a thought. And if we happen to succumb and bring her in to our bed so everyone can get a little sleep on the really bad nights, she'll sleep under our blankets without a fuss as well. But in her bed??? Uh no. Nyet. Never. Not on your life. Won't have it. No blankets. Ever. *sigh*

We've done everything short of bribing her to use one. Her bedroom gets cold during the winter months and I mean cold. Too cold for humans without a cover. Even when they are in a fleece sleeper. But alas, stubborn child that she is, she won't tolerate a blanket any closer to her than stuffed at the bottom of her crib. Her hands turn in to little ice cubes and she fusses and fusses.

For her initial winter, she spent most of that time swaddled and in the bassinet in our room. The second winter we layered lots of layers on her and it seemed to work. By her third winter, layering was out of the question. Not only did we have difficulties finding sleepers that would layer well without being far too large, but she wouldn't tolerate that "I'm bundled up so much I can't move" feeling. There were a few nights when that scene from "A Christmas Story" played out with pj's instead of a winter coat. It wasn't working. So I asked Michelle to make her a sleep sack that would go over her shoes and bar. The night it arrived was the first warm night she'd had in awhile. I was thrilled and Laura was sleeping once again.
Here she is the next morning:

But things happen. Kids grow. I know, I know. We spend a lot of time wondering when they might grow up and then when they do, we wonder why they have to. This was one of those times for me. Why, oh why, did she have to outgrow her sleep sacks??? And yet I wondered at the same time when she'd grow up enough to overcome her fear of blankets and actually use one. Or two. But that wasn't happening anytime soon so I implored Michelle to make another one. One that might grow with her a little bit. I didn't need to worry. At one point "I'll just make the sucker huge" came forth from her fingers through email. And boy did she! LOL Laura loves it and it will grow with her. Here she is, cuddled down in her new sleep sack.

It is a different style so she can use it more like a warm sleeping bag with angel wings to wrap around her when she wants them. Laura's been in it almost constantly since it arrived. Somehow I think she likes it. :):) I like the love it represents. Thank you, Michelle. You have outdone yourself.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Our October Princess

This year Laura was determined to dress up for Halloween. We generally don't celebrate it much, and we certainly didn't talk about costumes and such. But Laura was determined. She was going to be a Princess no matter what.

A few years ago when she was just a baby, a friend had passed down some costumes for her to use for dress up. As we dug them out, Laura's determination met with an actual costume that would work. Indeed, she'd be a princess. Even with double casts. And a Princess she was. :) With a full court of pumpkins!

Dear God, Why Are Deer So Dumb?

Ah yes. Dumb deer. For two weeks now we have seen dozens of dead deer along the highways and byways between here and St. Louis. And if the deer aren't still laying there, we know that they were there just recently because of the evidence left on the road itself. No, it isn't a pretty subject but you'll see in a minute why it is so prominently on our minds around here these days.

Over the years I've wondered why the deer seem to be attracted to roads. After all, the sound of motorized vehicles can't be something they are taught to run to when just a tender fawn or even when growing in to buckhood. You'd think they'd have figured out by now to stay away from long stretches of concrete, even when empty, because bad things can happen to you. Very bad things. But alas, deer are just dumb. Dumb, dumb deer...

I've heard it said, just a week or so ago as a matter of fact, that deer are out of control this year. I've even heard it said that there are just too many of them running across the countryside this season and they are wrecking havoc as they go. And it seems I might have even heard from a very reliable source that there are far more deer this year than there have been in recent history, and they are causing more problems than usual. What is that? What reliable source did I hear that from you ask? Oh, that's easy. I've heard from two very experienced sources. The first source was a State Highway Patrolman that we happened to meet on the side of the road just last Monday. And the second source? Oh that would have been Brandon. He's a tow truck driver and we met him by the side of the road, too.

No, we weren't at a fundraiser for the Save the Deer Foundation. And no, we weren't even stopped at a truck stop. Nor were we in a traffic jam or around any other cars at all. Well, except the patrolman's car and the tow truck. No, we were sitting quietly, waiting. Waiting for Don and my Dad to arrive to rescue us. Waiting for one or both of them to come along and save us and our vehicle from "Buck". Or what was left of Buck, anyway.

Yes, I met a deer. And he was a biggun'. A really, really biggun'. We didn't really have a chance to introduce ourselves or anything. But we met none the less. Up close and personal. Just a quick chat mind you. He didn't say much. I did most of the talking, er screaming. Of course he was far too busy with that whole 'deer in the headlights' thing to care. But I think he took it too personally. He got far too cozy with my headlight. And now that particular headlight will never dance another dance with a deer again. But the car, and everyone in it will live to see another deer someday. Let's just hope that this time it isn't such a quick, personal visit. I'll settle for a quick glimpse as it runs across the field on the other side of the highway. I'll even honk a greeting if they'd prefer. But no more up close and personals please. No one will ever be able to replace Buck. He was my first. I think I'll leave it at that.

When the State Highway Patrolman showed up, Buck was long gone. Or at least too far off the road for any headlights to find him easily in such deep darkness. Which was fine with the patrolman. He did his paperwork and hung around until Brandon arrived. I think he was secretly hoping Brandon would arrive with the Calvary, or at least another car, but he didn't. Brandon, aboard his faithful flatbed tow truck arrived with the news that only two could join him in the cab as he towed the car four miles down the road. The patrolman, who had already informed me that only two were legally allowed to ride in his car as well was very busy doing the math. Two women, two boys and a child in double leg casts in a carseat weren't going to fit. I knew they wouldn't leave us sitting out there, but I also knew that they'd want to get us off the road long before Don and my Dad arrived to pick us up.

So the patrolman and Brandon had a conference. It seems a plan was hatched. One that is blatantly illegal, but overall seemed best to the young patrolman at the time. He approached us in the van and asked, very calmly mind you, if we'd mind riding in the car while it was on board Brandon's tow truck. Ah, laughter. It is a wonderful thing. My Mom and I agreed to it with a smile and we prepared for liftoff amidst much laughter. Oh, there were a few tears, too. Don't get me wrong. I think Jonathan expressed several times that he wasn't a fan of roller coaster rides. But over time even he came to find the humor in the experience. And his laughter joined the rest of ours before we were even half way down the road. Indeed it was a bumpy ride as we swayed back and forth up there high enough to see right in the truckers cabs. But it was fun, too. And it seemed to relax us as we relived some of what we'd just been through. We were going to be just fine. The Lord had taken care of us.

And He had. Over the next few days we realized that we had been driving the perfect car. My Dad's van, a Chevy Astro, is built on a truck bed and has a tow/haul package. This meant the frame was reinforced and the brakes are excellent. After all, you have to stop whatever you're pulling safely! It's height, weight and other safety measures meant that Buck landed on the side of the road instead of on top or the car or through the windshield. It also meant that the milk Mom was pouring the kids when we so intimately met Buck didn't even spill. None of us were hurt. Not a scratch, muscle ache or even a whimper of pain. We also learned that Buck was indeed a big, full grown dude. Toby, the man who does our bodywork, stated that he knew he was large because of how the car was dented and the impression Buck head and so on left on the side of the vehicle. Deer that large generally do human damage as well as totally cars. We are so thankful that the Lord put is in the right car in order to protect us. And while I wish he had helped us avoid the accident all together, I know that there were lessons we needed to learn in all of this. And believe me, we won't soon forget.

Mom had to drive back down to Columbus three days later and she looked to see if she could find Buck. After all, it would have been nice to know for sure just how big he was and how many points there were on his antlers. But it seems the clean up crew had been by. Not one of the many we saw last weekend were still there. Not even Buck. So we'll never really know much beyond what has already been confirmed. And Buck has gone on to bigger and better pastures. But he will live on in my life for quite awhile. After all, I think the Lord has a few more lessons to reteach me about trusting him. I hope I learn them well enough that he doesn't have to introduce me to any more of Buck's relatives.

Wonder what the view was like up there on the tow bed? Here's what we saw looking out our windshield. It was a once in a lifetime thing so I just had to capture the moment...

Creative Manuevering

Determination has been a key to Laura's life from the get go. She's never one to take 'no' lightly and will work hard to prove you wrong every chance she gets. I remember our local Ortho telling us after her first surgery that she wouldn't want to get up on her feet for several weeks. I laughed. He didn't see the humor. Two days later when he called to check on her, I reported that she was up and cruising furniture whenever she knew we weren't looking. He was speechless. I was once again amused at how little Dr's listen to us when we state what we know to be true. He gets it now. He plans for her determination when treating her. I'm not sure Dr. Dobbs is so knowledgeable yet. He'll get there soon enough.

Each time Laura has been in casts, she's eventually figured out the best way to get around. The past two weeks were no different. She began pulling herself up and getting around on the carpeted surfaces almost as soon as we got home. After a few face plants on the white tile, she figured she'd just depend on others to carry her or commando crawl over those. But she's a champ at finding something to walk behind or lean against.

Here she is leaning against the couch:

And here she is in the wheelchair the Lord provided just as my arms were about to give out. She's so proud. And needless to say she can maneuver it around pretty well backwards and is doing better going forward. All we need to work on now is her aim...

The Second Drive By

We drove in to St. Louis for our second visit to Dr. Dobbs and, of course to see our family. Nana had hot soup bubbling on the stove for us, and Carol and Charles came over for a quick visit, too. As usual Laura took over the place, gimpying around, and in general making herself at home. She even kept Carol busy 'reading' to her as they looked through a catalog. It was good to see them and it was nice to relax at Nana's instead of a hotel.

Our visit with Dr. Dobbs was relatively uneventful. They cut off her first cast and then applied one to each foot so she has two hot pink legs for the next two weeks. She handled herself pretty well but really didn't like the cast saw. However, it goes quickly and she just sat there wiggling her toes for awhile after her foot was free.

As I've stated before, Dr. Dobbs and his staff are wonderful. Very kind, thorough and they really do make you feel like you are the most important patient at that moment. But what happened shortly after her cast was cut off just amazed me more than anything so far. The nurse who cut off her cast cleaned up the table where Laura was sitting and then disappeared with all of the cast parts they'd cut off. I thought that would be it for awhile as we waited for Dr. Dobbs. But I was mistaken. In a minute, the nurse reappeared, warm wash cloth in hand. She very sweetly washed Laura's leg down and made sure that there were no little cast pieces/shavings stuck anywhere they shouldn't be. I just sat there crying. Every single time we've had casts changed using a cast saw - and believe me there have been a LOT of them - I always end up cleaning her up with wipes as I change her diaper to get rid of all of the little shavings and so on that are left. Never has a staff member helped, or even brought a warm washcloth. I realize this is something little, but again it just shows how much they care about the patient there.

We aren't sure what progress is being made so I hope this Monday gives us a bit more to go on. I'll be sure and update you when we get home. Meanwhile, here are some pictures of all of us as we enjoyed Nana's hospitality.

Laura and Carol 'shopping' in the catalog:

Jonathan's opinion of my taking pictures:

One of many of Matthew's attempts to avoid the camera. I'm thinking that this might be one of the last times he uses this maneuver. After all, this isn't his best side:

Nana, making oatmeal before she sends us off for the morning: