Fun-a-riffic!

March 16, 2009

The first weekend of March Break, according to Sarah, has been “fun-a-riffic”!

Alex had an eye appointment at the IWK on Friday, so March Break started a little bit early for us.  Alex did go to school for the morning because his class was going swimming, but Evan took the day off to come with us.  We left Olivia with my parents and the three older kids & I set off.  Alex’s appointment was awesome and his vision hasn’t decreased at all.  He got his correction back for his good eye, so his eyes should start to stay straight now.  He’s on a four week schedule one last time, and as long as his vision doesn’t change, he’ll then go to eight weeks between check-ups, then four months, then six months, then a year, and then we’re finished with the IWK!!  At that time, he’ll start seeing a regular eye doctor instead of a specialist!

We had lunch at Subway (Evan has ‘graduated’ to a 6″ sub instead of a kids’ sandwich) and then a Costco run.  We arrived in town, picked up Olivia, and were home by about six.

Olivia outgrew her toddler bed a couple of months ago;  every time she rolls over now, she falls out.  As a result, she has either been sleeping in our bed, or on the futon in our bedroom.  We promised the kids we would change their beds over during March Break so they took that to mean Friday night!  

Our guests went out to supper shortly after seven, so we got to work as quickly as possible.  The boys’ beds were moved downstairs to the girls’ room and set up into bunk beds.  Sarah’s bed went upstairs for Evan & the bed frame for Alex came out of the attic.  The toddler bed got put away.  D’Arcy went to get the box-spring & mattress out of the basement, but it was musty, so Olivia’s toddler mattress is on her bed and Alex’s mattress is on the floor inside his bed frame.  We’ve promised to buy a new set this week for them…  They’re all happy with their new sleeping arrangements regardless!

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On Saturday, we had invited the MacNeills, the Faulkners & Auntie Kay & Uncle Hug (along with all the kids) over for a St. Paddy’s Day celebration.  Evan is trying to earn the Blue Star for Cubs which included helping to plan a party, so he was a huge help!  He made place cards and helped to set the table:

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Suzana came over on Thursday and helped me cook and every course had Guinness in it.  Janice brought home made appetizer-sized fish & chips & crab cakes.  I could have filled up on those!!  Then we sat down at the table and started with ‘Irish’ Onion Soup.  I mixed a couple of different recipes and it ended up being delicious!!  Our next course was a spinach salad with sliced strawberries, mandarin oranges, sunflower seeds, green onion and Guinness Dressing.  Next was Beef & Guinness Pie.  Oh. My. Goodness.  The only way I changed the recipe was by adding mushrooms that had been sauteed in olive oil & garlic and then drowned in the remainder of the can of Guinness from the salad dressing until all the liquid was absorbed.  Auntie Kay made bread using just self-rising flour and a can of beer.  It was surprisingly light & fluffy!  Suzana made an absolutely delicious stout cake for dessert, served with vanilla ice cream, shots of Bailey’s and then topped off with Irish Coffee.

 

Auntie Kay with Luke & Sarah

Auntie Kay with Luke & Sarah

 

We set the kids up with DDR & HSM3 so we could eat in peace!

We set the kids up with DDR & HSM3 so we could eat in peace!

The gang & Fernando

The gang & Fernando

 

Sarah gave up while the night was still (fairly) young

Sarah gave up while the night was still (fairly) young

Janice enjoyed her seating arrangement between Fernando & Colin

Janice enjoyed her seating arrangement between Fernando & Colin

 

The girls having fun.  (Who's the biggest kid of all?)

The girls having fun. (Who's the biggest kid of all?)

Suzana & Blair

Suzana & Blair

 

The advert on the mirror.  (Ev & I had added the name of the B&B at the bottom and changed the date!)

The advert on the mirror. (Ev & I had added the name of the B&B at the bottom and changed the date!)

 Yesterday, we were moving pretty slowly and Evan actually slept until noon!  It was a gorgeous day, so after we got cleaned up, we went for a walk in the park.

 

The boys exploring the first falls

The boys exploring the first falls

Evan & the icicles

Evan & the icicles

 

Alex & the icicles

Alex & the icicles

Olivia & Daddy watching the water in the brook

Olivia & Daddy watching the water in the brook

Sarah, fascinated

Sarah, fascinated

Mommy & Sarah watching...

Mommy & Sarah watching...

...for the boys at the top of Jacob's Ladder (178 steps!)

...for the boys at the top of Jacob's Ladder (178 steps!)

When it got too icy to go any further, we took a family photo!

When it got too icy to go any further, we took a family photo!

Fun-a-riffic indeed!

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  • After five years of patching or using atropine drops, Alex’s vision has stablized at 20/40 (with correction) and at his eye appointment yesterday, he was given permission to go patch-free.  (He doesn’t get the correction back in his good eye until after his next appointment in four weeks though – it’s considered to be “part-time” patching, but he doesn’t need to know that!)  I can’t wait for life to be easier for him, and to see how school changes.  After all, his vision has been disabled and he hasn’t seen clearly yet during his schooling career.
  • We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.  D’Arcy & I have never been big on swapping gifts just because it’s a holiday.  When we were first married, we couldn’t afford it, and then when we bought our house, we said that it was our gift to one another for as long as we have a mortgage!  No pressure!
  • We’re getting together with friends tonight (without kids!) for dinner and drinks.  We’re taking appetizers and pomegranate martinis!  YUM!
  • D’Arcy has lost 19 lbs. since New Year’s Eve.  I told him he’d better not weigh himself tomorrow…  He also hasn’t had a drink since that night.  I’m proud of how committed he is to getting back into shape!
  • Olivia is starting to talk – a lot!  She makes us laugh everyday.  She can say “Evan” perfectly, but still calls Evan “Bobby”.
  • I was able to take the cookie that Alex brought home from his Valentine Party at school from Olivia before she put it in her mouth.  (It had milk, soy & egg and I would guess there’s a pretty good chance the sprinkles had traces of peanuts or nuts…)  Potential disaster averted!
  • We had a full house last night, two rooms tonight and a booking yesterday for a businessman for 31 nights, starting this Monday!  (I hope we like him!)  That will help pay the oil bill the rest of this crazy frigid winter!
  • We got bookings for September this week – people may be going to travel this year after-all.
  • We are invited to dinner at my aunt & uncle’s house tomorrow night – two nights in a row without having to cook!!
  • I got to volunteer in the boys’ new school for the first time this week -not once, but twice!  It was good to see the kids again!
  • D’Arcy received both his signed Permanent Teaching Contract with this School Board and approval for his Thesis from the Ethics Committee in the mail this week.
  • We got a ping-pong table for $10 at the boys’ old school – there was a public sale of all the surplus furniture on Thursday.
  • Sarah also had a great eye exam on Wednesday.  The turn in her eye had switched from her right eye to her left this visit.  This is wonderful news because it means she’s switching fixations and one eye is not becoming dominant over the other.  (Therefore, no patching for her!)
  • Old photos
  • My family

More Exciting News for Alex

January 18, 2009

Alex had his monthly eye appointment on Thursday. 

We left for the city just after sending Sarah to preschool and Olivia up to my parents’ house because Alex’s appointment was scheduled for 10:20.  The van was getting the oxygen sensors replaced ($927.63 but that’s another story!!) so we took my dad’s VW Golf.  We couldn’t figure out how to turn the radio on; it said it was in “safe” mode, so we fiddled and fiddled with it, but to no avail.  We ended up having a great chat along the drive instead of listening to HSM3 for the umpteenth time, talking about the new school, the girls, cubs, sports, and the books Alex is reading.  When we got to the hospital, the sign said that the parking lot was full.  We were pushing it (as usual) time-wise, so I drove down to the VG parking lot which was also full.  I ended up driving around the block and parked at the entrance to the hospital, where there is a 20 minute time limit.  We literally ran up to the 6th floor eye clinic and then ended up having to wait… and wait…  and wait…  Finally I told Alex that our 20 minutes was up, so I was going to have to go out and move the car.  The last thing we needed was for my dad’s car to end up towed!  Alex wasn’t too sure about waiting there alone, but luckily his orthoptist, Leah, came out at that time and I explained the situation.  She told me they’d be in room #13, and he was happy that I would know where to find them.

I ran outside to find out that the parking lot was still full, so I started off around the block to see if I could find a meter.  After the 2nd time around the block, and my blood pressure was climbing, I saw a car pull out and I ended up at a meter right in front of the hospital – my lucky day!  I’m not sure how long this process took, but I was worried that the appointment would be over and he’d be in the waiting room by himself.  When I knocked on the door and they were only part-way through.

Alex has been going to these appointments every four weeks since he was 3.5 so I’m quite familiar with all the tests now.  I was surprised when he did so well with the close up section, but hadn’t been in the room for the distance testing, so didn’t know how he’d done on that.  The ophthalmologist came into the room shortly after I did, repeated a few of the tests and then asked me, “So how are you feeling with the patching?  Are you interested in squeezing out every little bit of vision that you can?”  (Alex is getting “old” by vision standards and there is little hope of him improving much more.  We’ve known this for some time, and thought that last month would be his last with the drops, but he took a big jump and surprised us, so we’ve continued.)  I said to her, “Well, we have been doing this for five years now…”

She explained to me that she had been going to suggest that we stop the patching this visit since Alex was back to the best he’d ever been (before surgery) at his December appointment and they didn’t think he would ever progress past that.  In December, he was able to get 3/5 letters on the 20/40 line, which is “legal driving vision”.  HOWEVER, on Thursday, he was able to read the ENTIRE 20/40 line and 2/5 letters on the 20/30 line!  Needless to say, we’re continuing the patch for awhile longer and have promised Alex that he should be finished with it for good by summer vacation.  I was stunned.  This means he’s one full line plus three letters away from having 20/20 vision with his glasses on!  We never dreamed he would go so far!

We’re all so thrilled but still in some disbelief that he is suddenly improving so much so quickly!  They have no explanation, and Leah told him that she even presented his case to her class because it’s so fascinating!

He was tickled, not so much about the improvement, but with the promise of no more patch come summer.  We had lunch at Subway in the hospital (Alex’s request), shared an apple fritter from Tim Horton’s since we were away from Olivia for the day, and then went to Chapter’s and wandered around.  I bought him the newly released “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book he’s been asking for as a reward for doing his best.  As much as I’ll also be happy for him to be rid of the patch, and thrilled that this boy who at one time couldn’t find his dishes on the table will now be able to drive (when he’s old enough!), we both agreed that one downside will be missing our monthly Mom & Alex dates in the city!!

Exciting News!!

December 15, 2008

Alex had his every-four-week eye check at the Children’s Hospital today.  It was the moment of truth because he has been on a plateau since September.  If he didn’t have any change today, we would have been able to wean off the drops (we’re still chemically patching).  Wouldn’t you know, he is back to LEGAL DRIVING VISION!!  He improved a whole line this visit!  He got to this point last winter, but slipped back after his eye surgery. 

We are so thrilled because this particular line has always been the ultimate goal.  He will continue to get his atropine for another four weeks to see if he will go any further.  I don’t hold out hope for that, but am so proud that he has gotten to this point!!

Last week in a nutshell

November 17, 2008

Last week wasn’t conducive to keeping up with the news.  It took me most of the week to recover from the weekend which had been so stressful.  We had gone to an Association meeting where I was involved with three presentations, one of which was to debate why I feel the two Associations of which I sit on each Board should remain aligned with one another.  The President of the Meeting which we were attending (who was the catalyst behind the idea of severing the Alliance due to a personal grudge – he was not asked to renew his term as Director and feels that had I withdrawn my name from the Nomination, they would have come grovelling to him to reinstate him.  Not true!) has been taking out his frustrations on me and ended up personally attacking me at the beginning of the Director’s meeting on Friday night.  I had fully intended to maintain my composure, but ended up getting into a heated argument with him.  Luckily, some of my colleagues backed me up, and very-long-story-short, my presentation on Saturday to the membership went very well and the two Associations will remain in an alliance.  In fact, in the end, only ONE property voted to sever the relationship! I found it interesting that one of the Directors who is leaving the Board came up to me at the end of the AGM and gave me the “It wasn’t personal…” speech.  Funny, the President didn’t do the same thing.  There is no love lost there.

It took a few days to get my blood pressure back to normal and by Thursday, I realized just how much the stress had been spilling over into our lives.  Evan had been spoken to a few weeks back at Cubs by the “Akela”.  Evan is a sixer and after they had been fooling around at their Hallowe’en party, Evan didn’t tuck his uniform back in before the start of the Closing Ceremony.  The Akela spoke to Evan about this, something along the lines of “you need to set an example for your six… responsibility…” Evan, normally being very responsible and conscientious, was crushed and shut down.  Cubs was no longer fun and he tried to say he hadn’t wanted to go this year in the first place.  (So why did you spend the summer working on badges, Evan?!)

He went to Cubs on Thursday and didn’t respond whenever Akela tried to speak with him.  After he finally shut himself in the bathroom, D’Arcy said enough is enough.  When the meeting was over, D’Arcy mediated while Evan & Akela talked.  Evan suggested some games they could play and since he already has his knot specialty badge, perhaps he could help the other Cubs with their knots on the night they learn the knot-of-the-month.

When I was tucking the boys into bed that night, I asked Evan if he felt better after talking to Akela and getting his feelings out.  He said that he did.  I tried to compare it to my meeting last week and we had the following conversation:

Mom:  I’m glad that you talked to Akela about what you thought wasn’t fair and what was bothering you.  It’s hard to do, but you feel better in the end.  It’s just like my meeting last weekend.  I didn’t want to go because there was a person there who I knew wasn’t going to be fair to me and would be mean to me, but I went and stood up for myself and what I believe and everything worked out.  It wasn’t fun to go through, but I’m glad I did.

Alex:  Are you talking about the bully?

Evan:  You mean Mr. M?

Mom:  Yes, he’s like the Akela of my association.

Evan:  But I thought that under the current By-laws, his term as President was up at this AGM?!

Oh my!!  They do listen to everything, don’t they?!

In other news, Olivia had a shrimp challenge scheduled for Wednesday, but the allergist’s office called on Monday and cancelled it.  I was disappointed there wasn’t another appointment available before Christmas, but she’s rescheduled for January.  I was hoping to know if she’s anaphylactic to shrimp before Christmas since there will be so many people around and events to take her to, however, we’ll just keep her away from it as best we can and always make sure her epi-pen is close by.

Speaking of her allergies, my sister-in-law was telling me that at the major grocery store in town, there is a huge peanut man made out of REAL peanuts as soon as you walk in the door.  Ugh.  It’s already hard enough to take her to the store, but come on – a PEANUT MAN??!!  I’m going to have to write to the store.  With Christmas approaching, there are more nuts out in the produce department, so I’m back to feeding her mostly frozen or canned vegetables due to the risk of cross-contamination.

The Volunteer Tea went well; so well in fact, that I felt badly for complaining about the work involved in setting it up.  The organizers were most appreciative and the comments were all very positive.  They had confirmed for 30, but in the end, 36 showed up.  The organizers said it was the best one they’d had so far and a HUGE pointsettia arrived at the door this morning as a thank you.

Alex’s eye appointment on Friday went well – he’s still stalled with one letter to go to reach legal driving vision, so will still get the Atropine drop at least four more weeks.  I was starting to worry because of how late it was when they got back from the city, but Ginna had given Alex Tim Horton’s as a treat so they stopped at her house to get him all cleaned up before coming home and being around Olivia.  I was so tired that we skipped the Christmas Tree Lighting, but Alex went along with my mother, just the two of them.  We went to the Santa Claus Parade on Saturday night (in the warm rain) which was fun.  The boys decided not to go on the Scout Float (much to D’Arcy’s relief) but Alex really wanted to be in the parade, so sat with Ginna & the choir on the United Church float.  We walked home when it was over and put the girls to bed. D’Arcy & the boys & I lit a fire and watched “Hairspray”.  We hadn’t watched a movie together in months!

I also found out this week that my dear friend has been laid off from her job, and another friend and her husband have separated.   She finally had the strength to tell him to leave.

D’Arcy was supposed to defend the first part of his Thesis tomorrow, but we haven’t heard from his advisor, so assume it is not happening as planned.  We are praying that this does not affect his graduation date.

Phew.  What a lot of news for one post.  This week looks like it will be busy again –  I’m beginning to sound like a broken record…