Finally, rain

The brave Titanic set sail

The brave Titanic set sail

After a long drought, we got a week or two of scattered rain and a few days of fairly heavy rain. I took the boys out today to the Morcom Rose Garden to see if the waterfall was working again and to build little rafts. The water was running. We made a bunch of rafts. Some of them got waterlogged after a while, but most of them were seaworthy. Ronin wanted to name all of them, and I kept telling him that some of the names were not very complimentary for a vessel. Titanic, for example, was not very auspicious.

Soren and Ronin with their first rafts

Soren and Ronin with their first rafts

They floated down the falls and then in the pool

They floated the rafts down the falls and then in the pool

Today started out very rainy, but by the time we got to the park our fleece and long sleeves were too hot. It was sunny and warm and most of the pavement was dry.

Ronin taking the Water Strider over the falls

Ronin taking the Water Strider over the falls

We were surprised by a wild turkey in the rosebushes later on in the afternoon. I heard from another visitor that this turkey comes back every year, sometimes as part of a pair and sometimes alone. We also saw an Anna’s  hummingbird flitting about some velvet sage. There were so many squirrels around that I found out later I’d taken a picture of a squirrel darting over the rocks in front of Ronin and Soren.

Wild turkey in the roses

Wild turkey in the roses

Soren, Ronin, and squirrel

Soren, Ronin, and squirrel tail

We finished up the day with a little walk around the rose garden while the rafts dried in the sun and then a scooter ride. Soren was shouting and crying a lot because he has a cold and isn’t feeling well. I have a cold because Soren has come into our bedroom needing cuddles and then incidentally coughed in my face every night for the past few nights, so I didn’t appreciate the yelling so much. All in all, though, it was a pretty pleasant day and I was very happy to get out into the beautiful garden and see my boys cooperating on a project most of the time.

Almost idyllic

It was almost idyllic

Canada, way back in August

Canada, where everyone waits in line politely

Canada, where everyone waits in line politely

A long time ago, before my computer died, back when I went on a vacation that involved something like 8 planes and 2 boat rides and a rental car and several hotels and a couple of taxis, we went to my grandmother’s island in Eastern Canada. This was a part of our very complicated vacation and I had looked into getting a sea plane or even some kind of a multi-leg charter flight, but those were way out of our price range. Still, we could see why it was often easier for people to take vacations to Europe or Asia from this part of the US than to go back and visit this idyllic spot in Canada, despite its reputation for a summertime paradise. Many of our planes were late, and Dinah and Manuel were stuck overnight in Toronto because of thunderstorms.

Claire at water's edge

Claire at water’s edge

We arrived so late in Sudbury that the rental van they’d promised us was not available. Everything was closed. Then we had to wait another hour for a taxi to come to the airport and another while to get into town. We got to sleep in our hotel close to 4 AM and had to check out in time to deal with renting the minivan and purchasing life jackets and sleeping bags for the kids, obtaining fishing licenses and buying food and beverages for the time that we’d be there, and race to the water taxi before they closed.  We only had one suitcase apiece for everyone and had to carry car seats for the kids, formal wear for the wedding, more sturdy clothes for the island, and things to entertain them during the multiple flights and airport delays. We didn’t have room to bring everything we’d need. As it was, it was a lesson in physics to pack everyone in the car plus the luggage plus the groceries and supplies.

Ronin and Claire throwing sticks into the water.

Ronin and Claire throwing sticks into the water.

I don’t think it necessarily helps to be worried about the schedule and the timing, but we did make it to the water taxi on time and we got to the island without missing an extra day. I know everyone would have been disappointed if we’d spent another night in a hotel.

The island, in MacGregor Bay, is just beautiful

The island is beautiful and peaceful

Grandma Smith was already there in the main cabin, and David and Pam and Steve were in the boathouse, where we had stayed last time. A nice dinner of lasagna was in the works and we set about trying to find space for all of the food and drinks we’d brought. Dinah and Manuel unpacked in the guest cabin, Mom in the bedroom in the main cabin, and we lined up our suitcases as much out of the way in the living room because we would sleep all together on the front porch after dinner was done.

Grandma Smith reading to her great-grandchildren on the front porch

Grandma Smith reading to her great-grandchildren on the front porch

It was very nice sleeping on the porch. We fell asleep looking at the stars and listening to the loons call across the lake, and every time I woke up during the night I could see the stars in the dark sky and the silhouettes of the trees. Soren woke up quite a lot while we were there. Everyone came onto the island fairly sleep-deprived from our late flights and it was hard getting the kids to sleep much because the sun went down so late and because we were sleeping in the main area where people would be up at night or early in the morning. Soren had a few bad dreams every night and eventually I learned to just move him next to me and Justin so he wouldn’t thrash around too much, and one night he had screaming night terrors, enough to wake Grandma Smith up a couple of times. It occurred to me he hadn’t had those in a while, so he’s mostly grown out of them, but I’d read that they do tend to happen in new surroundings or when kids are low on sleep.

Three kids playing Sorry!

Three kids playing Sorry!

We heard that the earlier months of summer had been rainy and cool, but we were fortunate with the weather. It was pleasant and sunny every day while we were there, except for one day that had a bit of a rainstorm. Even that was a refreshing change for us, since we haven’t seen a good rainstorm in a long time. We stayed inside and played games and did puzzles. There was always a puzzle going on the table on the back porch, and sometimes a bit of jockeying for the best position. Every once in a while we’d send a kid down under the table to look for any pieces that might have fallen, because it got frustrating to search for a specific piece and never find the one that fit, and it was such a great feeling to find one after a long search.

My grandma and my mom doing a puzzle

My grandma and my mom doing a puzzle

Ronin and Claire reading together on the porch

Ronin and Claire reading together on the porch

Time on the island passed quickly. There were canoe trips, fishing expeditions, walks on the little trails. Blueberries were abundant. I was conflicted about letting the kids out of my sight too much. They didn’t know how to swim yet, although they were learning as quickly as possible. I had put them in private, individual lessons with a wonderful teacher at the beginning of the summer and they were doing better than they ever had, but Soren really couldn’t do much with coordinating arms and legs at that point and he had no fear (or judgment). In fact, later on in the summer he ran to the deep end of a pool and jumped off a diving board without being able to swim and without someone there to catch him. Claire and Ronin had a little more caution but they tended to overestimate their abilities and also thought it would be easy to rescue a flailing sibling. It was tough. I really wanted to let them go and play as much as they wanted to, and I knew kids had been doing it on the island for a long time without grownups around, but I also knew that Soren could fall or jump into the water easily, even thinking to himself that he really wasn’t going to, and my kids tend to leap before they look more than most.

The blueberries were wonderful

The blueberries were wonderful

We ended up being watchful with them most of the time. We let them go out behind the cabin without us, but then once or twice Soren disappeared and went down to the water’s edge or went off down a trail without telling us. It is hard to skirt the line of letting them have enough freedom to learn from their mistakes and feel adventurous without being so lenient that it’s completely unsafe. I have parents gasp at parks and playgrounds at what I let them do on their own, and other people tsk at me for being too cautious.

Dinah and her husband on a canoe ride

Dinah and Manuel on a canoe ride

We had one or two kids go out on the fishing boat with a parent and a grandparent, and my sister and brother-in-law took a child out on a canoe from time to time. Claire and Ronin turned out to be more wiggly in the fishing boat than Soren, who was enthralled with fishing. He paid rapt attention to everything my uncles told him. I had never seen him sit so perfectly still and quiet when he needed to.

Steve instructing Soren on the art and science of fishing

Steve instructing Soren on the art and science of fishing

Unfortunately, the one thing Soren didn’t take in was that fishing doesn’t always result in a fish. On our trips, my sister was the only person who caught a fish, and she is the person who is least likely to eat a fish or bait a hook or touch a fish. We came back to the dock and Soren started crying and saying he couldn’t get out of the boat because he hadn’t caught a fish so the trip couldn’t be over. He was eventually appeased by the promise of fishing off the dock, which he did a lot. He also learned to cast and was a natural. Still, he never did catch a fish.

Fishing off the dock

Ronin fishing off the dock

Ronin enjoyed fishing off the dock, too, but wasn’t as dedicated to it as Soren. He would start trying to see what the pole tip would look like if it was under the water swishing around, or go to a really shallow section with no fish so he could see everything. He liked the process more than the idea of actually catching fish.

Ronin spent  a lot of time fishing, too

Ronin fishing and playing on the front dock

Ronin was the only one of our kids who went all the way in the water when Justin and I went swimming. The water felt great after a hot day of paddling all around the Bay.

Ronin drying off after a swim

Ronin drying off after a swim at the swimming hole

On one of the boat rides with the uncles, we landed at a nearby island and David found a pipe, probably from a kitchen sink, that someone had dumped there at some point. He blew through it and tried to convince the kids it was some kind of musical instrument. They loved it. We called it the Lip Sync.

Soren trying to make sweet music through the Lip Sync

Soren trying to make sweet music through the Lip Sync

Later on, I found the Lip Sync on our island near the back dock, and David said he’d brought it back just in case they needed it some time. Ronin was happy to play with it again.

Yellow Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Yellow Woolly Bear Caterpillar

We spent a lot of time outside, walking around the island or playing on the rocks, collecting blueberries or throwing large rocks into the water for big splashes. We kept our eyes peeled for wildlife, and saw minks, a bald eagle, and dragonflies galore.

The boys watching a rock hit the water

The boys watching a rock hit the water

Justin liking the lichen

Justin liking the lichen

Racing over the rocks

Racing over the rocks

Near the swimming hole

Near the swimming hole

The day before we left, Justin and I were able to leave our kids for a while and took the kayaks out for a private tour. We ducked into inlets, studied plants and rocks, paddled alongside blueberry bushes and foraged for snacks. With our quiet boats, we could glide quietly among lily pads and see fish under the water or birds near the shore without alarming them. We paddled furiously when we were out on the open water, so we were able to cover a lot of ground (water?) in the few hours that we were gone.

Soren readying for his kayak ride

Soren readying for his kayak ride

After we got back, Justin decided that kayaking was so much fun and such good exercise that he wanted to share the experience with the kids. He decided to take each one out, one at a time, towing them behind his kayak. He took Ronin out for a long time, and the other kids and I hung out for so long around the dock waiting for them to come back that we realized this was not just a little excursion. The uncles took pity on our boredom and taught Claire and Soren how to operate the beer can crusher they’d invented, and that occupied them for quite a while and cleaned up a lot of the cans around the boat house.

Ronin off on his two-hour cruise

Ronin off on his two-hour cruise

Justin took each one out, one after the other. By the end of the day I think he’d paddled for about 10 hours all together. When we returned to California, Justin tried a couple of boating and kayaking expeditions with the kids, but it wasn’t the same. The two-person kayaks are unwieldy and difficult to paddle if the other person is just resting , and Claire complained that the water was dripping on her.  Another time we all went out together on Lake Chabot on a busy holiday weekend. I took a paddle boat with Mom and Claire and Soren and it was so hot and there was a strong head wind and I realized at one point that my assistant was actively paddling against me.

A family dinner on the porch

A family dinner on the porch

Dinah and Manuel left one day earlier than we did. The last family dinner was a bit smaller. We tried to cram as much stuff as possible into our final day on the island, and we packed up and waited on the front dock for the water taxi the next morning. We were going to go all the way back home in one full day. We didn’t want to go.

Claire and Justin, enjoying the boat taxi back to the marina

Claire and Justin, enjoying the water taxi back to the marina

We made it back home after midnight, which ended up being over 18 hours of traveling in one day thanks to the time zone changes. Soren actually fell asleep for a little while during one of our flights. We were assigned seats during another flight that had all of our kids sitting in different areas of the plane next to complete strangers. While I was trying to deal with it, the staff asked me if they could just leave it like that. As long as they could sit next to people who would purchase their meals and help them reach their books and get to the bathroom, I thought it was worth considering. I ended up having all of the kids next to me.

Soren actually slept on one of our flights!

Soren actually slept on one of our flights!

I started writing this entry more than 40 days ago. I managed to write a little bit at a time, and then a little bit more, and then I would have to go do something. I would forget what I was planning on saying and what I already wrote, and sometimes repeated myself and had to delete things. I am sorry it’s taken so long to post. I’m going to try to do more frequent and shorter entries in the future now that I have a working computer and my vacation entry out of the way.

How the Earthquake made me stop blogging

Ronin decided to ready up on earthquakes, but it didn't keep him awake at night.

Ronin decided to read up on earthquakes, but it didn’t keep him up at night.

On Sunday, August 24th, I was awake in the middle of the night for some reason. I had woken up a while before and couldn’t get back to sleep, probably just thinking about things I needed to do or some problem I needed to solve. I felt a little rumble, like a big truck was going by on the road behind the house. Then it wasn’t just a low rumble, but more like a thud, and I thought that one of the cats must have jumped off something really high for me to feel that.

The whole house started shaking back and forth by then, and I realized it was actually an earthquake instead of any one of the normal little things that cause me to feel movement in the house (we can feel the kids running in the front of the house when we are in the back of the house). By then, Justin started waking up and I told him it was an earthquake. Just when I started thinking it might get worse and it was getting a little scary, it stopped. Justin went back to sleep. The kids didn’t wake up.

I was awake for a few more hours, checking the USGS earthquake data and entering my data in the “Did you feel it?” site. I was surprised to find out it was as strong as it was–a 6.0 centered not far from us, in American Canyon. It didn’t cause as much damage as it could have, although a lot of buildings crumbled and a lot of wine bottles broke.

Still, the reason I bring this up is because the day after the quake, our power went out for a while and my computer crashed spectacularly. I don’t know if it’s related, but it’s associated in my mind. After the power came back on, my computer wouldn’t restart. Justin eventually got it working, but the files had to be restored completely from back up, and apparently it hadn’t been backed up since May. I lost all of my pictures since May, except fortunately I hadn’t deleted my Canada pictures off my memory cards yet.

Justin told me that he had switched the computer from automatic to manual back up in May, so I should have started doing a manual back up on a regular basis, but he had not informed me about my back up responsibilities or that he had done this.

However, after that the computer didn’t behave quite right, and it started crashing more and more often, until it failed completely again, around the same time my phone crashed and also needed replacing. I told Justin I needed a computer ASAP, because I do a lot of my volunteer work, household management and bills, and other things online. Justin paid $50 for overnight shipping to build a new computer so he could put it together it on a weekend when he wasn’t working on his real job, except it was more complicated than it promised to be. We’ve had computer innards strewn on every surface for more than two weekends now, but finally we have our computer working. I have a lot of catching up to do.

First Day of Second Grade!

First Day of 2014-2015 School Year

First Day of 2014-2015 School Year

Today was the first day of school for Claire and Ronin, who are entering second grade. We found out this past week that they have the same teacher as last year, and we are all so happy. We all LOVED that teacher. We were thrilled to find out that he was moving up to second grade, but we didn’t dare hope that they would both be in his class.

Soren is in his last year of preschool. He moved up into the Dolphin Room, and is relishing his new role. He is helping out the younger kids and is being more responsible and even more charming.

Soren wrote that he wants to be an animal doctor. Claire wrote that she wants to be a gymnastics teacher. Ronin wants to be an engineer and a businessman.

Okay, can we go already?

Okay, can we go already?

They were more prepared for school than I was. I had packed all of their backpacks and set out Soren’s show-and-tell item, but we forgot all of that in our hurry to get out the door. When we got to school we realized the backpacks were still at home, so we turned around and went back for them. Soren was able to pick out a new show-and-tell item from my box of toys in the car. We were all still on time and Mom and I went out for brunch after drop-off.

Claire and Ronin turn 7 at my cousin’s wedding in Milwaukee

Happy 7th Birthday to Ronin and Claire in Milwaukee!

Happy 7th Birthday to Ronin and Claire in Milwaukee!

My cousin Katie (who is also a twin) scheduled her wedding on the same day our twins turned 7 years old. All of our Wisconsin relatives would be there, and it seemed like a great opportunity to take part in their celebration and see family we don’t see all that often and maybe add on a trip to the island in Canada afterward. It took a lot of planning–eight plane flights, two water taxis, one rental car, two different hotel reservations, five regular (non-water) taxis, one last-minute switch of a plane reservation, many arrivals after midnight, lots of delays because of weather (dust storms closed one airport, thunderstorms and rainstorms closed another), and several long sprints through airports to catch connections in the nick of time. My mom traveled with us, and my sister and her husband did most of the same trip, with slightly different flights and times.

Milwaukee

Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee

Soren, stopping to smell the flowers

Soren, stopping to smell the flowers

Three kids at the shoreline looking for treasures in the rocks

Three kids at the shoreline looking for treasures in the rocks

We got in to Milwaukee after midnight the night before the wedding, and spent a good part of the day taking a free trolley tour around the downtown area and walking around the beautiful urban state park on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Crossing the bridge at State Park, Milwaukee

Crossing the bridge at Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee

We were gone longer than we planned because the shuttle did not come back when it was supposed to, and after a 45-minute wait I called the transportation office on the sign and they told me that a shuttle would be there in about 5 minutes. They were right, and it was surprising to talk to a real person on the phone when I called. We got back to the hotel just in time to meet Dinah and Manuel and Justin on the sun deck for a quick snack before we had to get ready for the evening.

All of the children at the wedding, dressed up in their finery

All of the children at the wedding, dressed up in their finery

Claire in her flower girl dress

Claire in her flower girl dress

I was a little worried about how the evening would go, considering how late we got in and how tired the kids must be, but everything went fine for a while. Claire was to be a flower girl, and she quickly made friends with the other flower girls. Ronin looked really sharp in his suit and I heard some of the guests commenting on how he was putting them to shame. Soren was sweet and charming for a bit, until it was time to go sit down for the wedding, at which point he had a bit of a temper tantrum and started crying and yelling “I hate you!” and I had to muster up everything I could to get him to be quiet enough to be able to stay during the ceremony. Ronin was asked at the last minute to be a ring bearer, so he stood up at front holding the (unbeknownst to him, empty) box, solemn with the responsibility of it all, throughout the entire ceremony.

Ronin was asked at the last minute to be the ring-bearer, and he did a fantastic job

Ronin was asked at the last minute to be the ring-bearer, and he did a fantastic job

Ronin was momentarily confused when they asked for the rings and someone else handed them over while he was left holding the box, but he recovered and I explained later that he looked so good in his suit they just had to ask him to be a part of the wedding right before it started, but they hadn’t had time to rehearse with him the full job, or to take the rings back from the person who was already holding them, so it was a shared job. Soren fell asleep during the last part of the wedding, and I picked him up and carried him to a soft spot to rest. A lot of people took pictures of him.

Soren, napping after the wedding

Soren, napping after the wedding

The wedding was lovely, but I realized afterward that I missed talking to some people I really wanted to talk to. Although I didn’t actually have to chase after kids all night, since they made friends and played together, there was a large enough space that I missed some groups, and I did get pulled away by one child or another occasionally. It was a perfect wedding to not have to worry about the kids, actually, because although there was dinner, courses were provided at different stations throughout the venue and available at-will during the reception. There was an area with photo props. There was a bridesmaid that Soren fell in love with and he kept pulling her onto the dance floor. That was not part of how they made it work out well for the children, but it’s just a side note. Actually, Soren fell in love with a lot of the bridesmaids. Every girl in a blue dress he would grab by the hand and lead somewhere, either onto the dance floor or over to us or someone else and introduce, such as “This is my friend from a long time ago, everyone!” They loved him back.

Ronin and some wedding photo props

Ronin and some wedding photo props

The kids danced well into the night. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a 7th birthday. They flew to a place they’d never been before. They ran through a park and played in a fountain and climbed over some rocks. They rode on a trolley. They stayed in a hotel (they love that). They ate out at restaurants (they love that). They got to dress up in the fanciest clothes they’ve ever worn and take place in a ceremony they’ve always wanted to see. They did go to a wedding for their first birthday, but they don’t remember it. They were surrounded by relatives they’d missed and they met new friends. They were thrilled.

Ronin and Claire, dancing through the night on their 7th birthday

Ronin and Claire, dancing through the night on their 7th birthday

The next day, we left Milwaukee and set off for Canada. We were due to arrive at the Sudbury airport, after a couple of connections, around midnight. I had verified more than once with the rental car company that they would be open when we arrived, and they assured me they stayed open until the last plane landed. We had more delays. Storms around Chicago and Toronto. This is where I made the last-minute switch that rerouted us directly to Toronto so we wouldn’t miss our connection. We did some more running through airports, and then sat in our plane for hours before taking off, just waiting for it to be fueled. We landed around 2 AM, and Dinah and Manuel had not made it onto the plane. The next day Manuel asked me how we even got out of Toronto because he heard that no planes were leaving at all due to the storms.

Sleepy children at the Sudbury Airport, waiting for transportation

Sleepy children in the middle of a stormy night at the Sudbury Airport, waiting for transportation

Our rental car company was closed when we landed. The airport security said they left because they were not allowed to work longer than a certain amount of time during the day. The cabs all left while I was trying to deal with the situation. Security called for another cab, and I tried to talk to the car rental headquarters and leave a message for the local rental company. The national line said they couldn’t do anything from their end and once again they didn’t realize they had a branch in Sudbury. I left a message at the local office asking for my rental to be delivered at the hotel the next day and hoped for the best. We packed all of us into the cab that arrived around 3 AM, drove into town with our feet on suitcases, and finally got settled into bed around 4 AM. Morning came pretty soon.

Recipe: Braised Chicken Thighs

I was asked to post this recipe by several people, so I am finally doing so. I have scribbled it out on pieces of paper a couple of times for friends at work, and it is easy enough that I can buy ingredients and cook it without looking at the recipe. It is my go-to dish if I have unexpected company and have to whip up a dinner that will satisfy most adults who have differing palates, yet it still has a touch of old-world simplicity and elegance, especially when served alongside a warmed crusty bread and butter and a salad.

The recipe is easy to double, triple or quadruple, and it reheats well for leftovers. You can use more wine and less (or no) chicken broth, or no wine and more chicken broth. I used about half a bottle of wine and no broth except a smidge of  bouillon in the pot when I cooked this for 12 people in Canada. I don’t measure anything. I have found that the carrots don’t always cook in the 30 minutes the recipe suggests, so I either pre-cook them a little bit in the microwave before adding them to the pot or put them in earlier. I have tried to cook this with an additional chicken breast or two for guests who might dislike the thought of thighs, but I recommend against that because the breasts are not as moist and succulent as the thighs become in this dish.

Rainbow colored carrots

Rainbow colored carrots

Braised Chicken Thighs, from Southern Living’s Great Food for Busy Cooks

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 skinned, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 lb.) — note — I have always used boneless thighs, and I reduce the total cooking time because of that
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (can substitute chicken broth)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 10 baby new potatoes (about 1 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 (1-lb.) package baby carrots

Preparation

  1. Combine flour, paprika, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper; rub over chicken thighs. Cook chicken in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
  2. Add onion and next 4 ingredients. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 30 minutes. Add potatoes and carrots; cover and cook 30 minutes or until chicken is done and vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. salt.

Happy eating!

Soren’s first trip to the ER (warning – pictures of blood)

Last Tuesday, as I was commuting after work on the Bay Bridge, I got a call from a restricted number. I always have to answer those calls, because of this sort of thing. It was Soren’s preschool, and the director told me he’d fallen and hurt his head and the wound looked like it might be big enough to require medical attention. She assured me that it had been washed and pressure had been applied and he was doing fine. I told her I’d be there soon. Like the time that Claire fell off the monkey bars at the same school, I was glad that Soren’s injury happened as I was already on my way to pick him up.

I pieced together the story long after we were in the ER. Soren was on the small play structure at his school, by himself, and was trying to swing from the top of a small set of stairs into the tunnel below it and missed, and hit his head on the edge of something on the way. I’m not sure if he was going over the hand rail or around it. The teachers said they knew something was wrong because he cried, and he doesn’t normally cry when he falls down. At first glance it just looked like a little cut, but the more we looked, the deeper and wider it appeared to be. It had stopped bleeding by the time I got there, but every time he moved around, it started bleeding again.

Soren's forehead, still oozing more than an hour after pressure was applied.

Soren’s forehead, still oozing more than an hour after the bleeding was stopped

I took Soren to the brand new Emergency Department at our new hospital building. He amused himself by playing with some of the kids’ toys on the walls, but some of them were already broken. He trotted around and seemed happy and friendly. In the picture he is unhappy only because I was asking him to hold still for a picture and he wanted to run around some more. Everyone who saw him commented on how well he seemed, so I started second-guessing myself about needing to bring him in, but the ER doctor told me that it was a good decision. She said the wound was well into the subcutaneous tissue, and as she worked she needed more time and suture to close it effectively.

Soren was incredible. He did not like the thought of having stitches and had hoped to get glue. The ER doctor apologized to me and told me she thought it would be better for his wound, and I told her it would be okay. Everyone left to get supplies, and I explained to him what was going to happen. He teared up for a second and I talked to him about how glue wouldn’t be as strong for a big wound like his, and I showed him some stitching on his shorts and illustrated how well it worked. He sat up and resolved to get through it, and then the staff came back in and whispered to me how I would want them to talk about ‘the procedure’ to him. I told them I already talked to him about needing to get stitches and why, and we were both okay with it.

They gave me a choice of staying or leaving, and I stayed. I helped hold Soren. They wrapped him in a sheet, and I helped bundle him up. I raised the gurney and positioned the light. Then I held his hands and he cried when he got the local anesthetic, and he also cried at the end when the doctor pressed down on it. The rest of the time I entertained him with stories about all of the other ER visits that we’ve had, with Claire and Ronin. I tried to talk to him about other things, but the only thing that distracted him was hearing about how Claire and Ronin ended up with their injuries and what we did about them. He was so brave.

2-IMG_20140806_174854_383

After nine sutures

One of the nurses whispered to me that she didn’t like working with kids because she hates hurting them and hates it when they cry, and I agreed with her, but I know that sometimes it’s the parents who are more difficult than the kids and I was trying to be helpful instead of getting in the way. Soren didn’t make it too tough for them and I think the nurses all had a great time listening to the antics of past ER visits. They started chiming in, “Claire again?” when I would start another Claire story. I got an email from the ER doctor saying that Soren was very cooperative for his age and that it was due to my presence.

I have been changing his dressing twice a day since we’ve been home and they gave me a suture removal kit to take home with me. I can either take his stitches out myself tomorrow or bring him back to remove them. He has been asking me what it feels like, and he has a lot of little ones very close together. I have a sneaking suspicion that like Claire, he may not tolerate me removing them at home, and I might have to rush home from work tomorrow afternoon and take him back in.