Tuesday, July 31, 2012

End of summer... already?

I swam in a summer swim league during much of my young life.  The season was short - 5 regular weekly meets followed by a divisional meet, a week off, and then an all-star meet.  8 total weeks.  2 months.  June and July.  Because the season was so short, most families waited until August to take their family vacations.  And since we were on a traditional calendar for school, we didn't hit the books until September.

So in my mind, summer is still 3 months long.  Only we're on a year round school track, which means that we only have one month off during the typical summer time.  The boys are in school for most of June and August.

Unfortunately, I still pack my head full of 3 months full of summer fun things that I want to do with the kids.  And seeing that its hard to pack 3 months into 1, here I sit... and the end of our "summer" with a lot of unfinished fun ideas.

First off, I wanted to take the boys to a rodeo this summer.  A real one.  With cowboys and horses and barrels and clowns.  And wouldn't you know it, I found one less than 5 miles from our house!  Carousel Farms in Raleigh has rodeos every Tuesday for the entire summer... the REAL summer.  So it looks like we're going to have to pick a Tuesday night after work in August to pack up and go watch some cowboy fun. 

I wanted to hit the central Outer Banks again this summer, and go out for a Pirate Adventure in Manteo.  Here we are, in the land of Blackbeard, with the opportunity to dress up like a pirate and sail the high seas (leaving 6 times daily Memorial Day through Labor Day!).  Will would love the ocean voyage, and as long as I could keep Matt from jumping overboard, I thought it would be awesome, right?

What summer wouldn't be complete without a trip to a local museum or two?  When I was young, we used to jump on the Metro in DC and hit up a Smithsonian on a hot day.  In Durham, we have the Museum of Life and Science (which I hear is awesome and am slightly embarassed to say we have never been to).  It has its own butterfly conservatory, dinosaur exhibit, farmyard, and a train. 

And speaking of trains, in Spencer, the NC Transportation Museum makes its home.  From adults and kids alike, I have heard this place is awesome.  And there are so many trains and vehicles for excitable boys to explore and a real locomotive train ride for everyone to enjoy!  Thankfully both the MLS and NCTM are open year round, so I am not on the end of real summer deadline.  In fact, NCTM hosts a Day Out with Thomas at the end of September.   Anyone want to go?  The Slavik boys (all of them!) would love to ride with a real full sized Thomas!

But still, this begs the questions... Why can't we seem to find the time?  Why is the summer so short?  Why don't we just hop in the car and go?  Why - despite my best efforts to slow down time - am I still unable to fit 3 months of fun into a 1 month window?

Sometimes I guess there just aren't enough rocks.

Monday, July 30, 2012

One first day down

Track 4 of the 2012-2013 year round school year is underway in Wake County!  My (not so) little boys are officially kindergarteners!  Because of the way things go when you're entering kindergarten and the difference between Will and Luke's classes, today was Will's first day of school but not Luke's.  He (disappointingly) has to wait until Wednesday to go to kindergarten this week... and even then, he just goes one day this week.  He's a little bitter/jealous about that!

So it is a long-standing Slavik tradition to take the kids' photo by the front door on the first day of school each new school year.  We like traditions. 

We asked Matt if he also wanted to be in the photo.  His answer was decisive and quite appropriate for a freshly verbal 2-year old.  "NO!"

We also tried to get Otis in the photo, but he wasn't too interested in sitting still this morning.  So Will and Luke it was... the big boys!

Will woke up early this morning, which is unusual.  He was all smiles and laughs.  We've been talking about him going back to school today, and I think he remembered.  He knew what today meant...

THE BUS.  Because that is what going to school is REALLY all about, right?

Will's smile could not be contained.  We are used to him riding a small white 6-passenger contract bus to school.  Imagine our surprise when a big bright yellow Wake County school bus pulled up outside of our house this morning for Will.  Luke's jealousy was nearly uncontainable, until he realized that next week he would get to ride one too... AND he would get to wait at the bus stop.  Take THAT little (by 2 minutes) brother Will!

Apparently Will loved his ride on the bus.  He loved the lift ride once they arrived at school.  And that is right about where the love ended.

As young William is known to do, he cried his way through his first day of kindergarten as a matter of protesting anything new.  And not Elmo.  When I went into the class to drop off his school supplies later in the day, he was difficult to calm and his new teachers were trying anything possible to appease him.

If only he could take his lessons while riding the bus all day.  Now that would be cool.

So tomorrow is a new day.  As Will did with pre-K, it takes him a while to get used to his new surroundings, new people, and to see what kind of crap people will put up with from him.  The difference between kindergarten and pre-K, however, is that Will now receives report cards... and they count!  Hopefully his adjustment period is short and he finds some exciting parts of his day to love.

Maybe its math. Maybe its reading.  But I have a feeling its really going to be PE. And maybe they give out grades for bus-riding.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

How to influence a kid and make him love you in less than 5 seconds flat

Kindergarten teachers rock!  Luke was exceptionally excited about starting kindergarten this week already... then this postcard came in the mail.  There are no words to express how he feels now.  Wednesday can't come soon enough!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The family that bowls together...

Nate's parents and sister were here last weekend for a visit.  We spent a lot of time hanging out together, including trips to the Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill to see Elmo and Big Bird in One World, One Sky - a full planetarium show aimed to please the youngest and most short-attentioned kids. 

After the show, we headed to our local bowling alley.  Luke has been practicing his bowling skills on the Wii, and has been talking about going back to the bowling alley since we went in January.  As with most new or loud things, we knew Will was likely not to like the bowling alley.  But with so many of us around, we figured that he would do alright.

And he actually did alright!  Will still does not love bowling.  He doesn't love the sounds or the smells of the alley.  He doesn't love pushing the ball down the ramp.  What he does love is playing with his toys while surrounded by his loving and laughing family.  And he really loves singing songs with Grammy and having her shake her groove thing in bowling shoes.

Luke loved bowling.  He loved seeing his name up on the screen.  He loved when it was his turn.  He loved the bumpers and the metal guide to push his ball down.  He loved counting how many pins each person knocked down, and reminding them of how many were left to get a spare.  He loved cheering when someone got a strike.  More than anything, he liked to organize the balls in the ball return and ordering Matthew not to touch anything. 

As long as Luke wasn't too bossy, Matthew also had a good time bowling.  He enjoyed his little green and black toddler bowling shoes.  He enjoyed pushing the balls down the ramp, but didn't really care about anything after that except getting another ball.  He enjoyed picking up any ball, regardless of its weight, and trying to chuck it down the bowling lane (his or any other lane around him).  More than anything, he enjoyed the looks on our faces when he dropped an 11 pound ball on the floor and tried to chase it down the (heavily waxed and extremely slippery) lane.

It was a good time.  All 3 of my kids topped my bowling score, which is not surprising to anyone who has ever bowled with me.  I am a lifetime 80 bowler.  I go for the atmosphere, not the competition.  I go to take pictures of familial hi-fives and document little thumbs ups after strikes.  I go to watch my husband (who **was not** on a bowling team with his own embroidered shirt and bowling ball bag) flex his bowling muscles and show the boys how its really done. I go because togetherness is awesome, and watching our family laugh and play is really what its all about.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Home and healing

Thankfully Will was sent home from the ER last night with no admission.  They gave him additional seizure medication at the hospital to ensure he was not seizing, and after this little body finally rested, they gave the green light to get out of Dodge. 

It is a relief to have him home and ok and not admitted to the hospital.  Of course we would have done that if it was necessary, but there is something very comforting and right about having everyone under the same roof. 

Will spent the day today at home, sleeping off his doses of medication and figuring out which was was up after his electrical brainwave wallop.  Elmo was a big help in Will's healing process.  But thankfully by the end of the day, Will was squealing his way through his bath and enjoying himself... a far cry from the ordeal from last night.

Although neither Nate nor I can ever understand the confusion and exhaustion of Will's seizures from his perspective, we can understand the overwhelming sense of tired after a night such as last.  We're so tired.  The person at the ER is exhausted having dealt with doctors and IVs and Will just wanting to go to sleep.  The person at home is exhausted from keeping the home fires burning, and mostly staying up late worrying and waiting for an update call.

We all are home and we're happy that is the case.  Tonight we're sleeping and healing and hoping for a long stretch of seizure free nights ahead of us. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Head whip

Will had his one year ophthalmologist check up today.  As we suspected, there is little change with his eyes.  While he doesn't like his glasses, they do a lot to correct his vision.  He should be wearing them more (::sigh::).  And for the first time ever, his ophthalmologist brought up the option of surgery to correct Will's strabismus (eye misalignment).  As the doctor explained to me, with kids who have CVI they don't usually jump right into surgery because sometimes the child has no vision at all and surgery would provide no benefit.  But its obvious to him (and everyone) that Will can see pretty well, so this eye alignment surgery would make him see even better.  We likely won't consider that for another year, though, just to give his eyes another year to correct with the glasses before going under the knife.

So that was pretty good news.  Poor Will had to have his eyes dilated, though, so he spent the rest of the day with sunglasses on to help him cope.  Thankfully he was in good spirits about the whole thing.

All in all, things with Will's health have been going well.  The Vimpat has limited him to one seizure in the past 6 weeks, which is a marked improvement over 2 every week.  He recovered well from our post-Boston head cold-a-palooza. 

Its funny how when things are going well, I find it easy to fixate on other things that don't matter when life's not going well.  So today, I had deep thoughts about whether to get a pedicure before my brother's wedding next week... should I really eat that piece of Nate's birthday cake... when am I ever going to stop biting my nails?  You know, truly important, truly life changing stuff.

And just like that, the immensely fast 180 degree head whip has occurred...

Yep, you're right in your thinking.  Tonight Will had a seizure.  A Hopkins-esque seizure.  For the second time in Will's life, I felt like I had no option but to call the ambulance.  And of course, it all happened when Nate and Otis were at the farthest point of their evening walk, and I was the only one at home.

I went in the Will's room to check on him and could tell he was having a seizure.  He was kind of alert, though, so I held off giving him the Diastat immediately in the case the seizure resolved itself.  After a couple of minutes, Will was not responding to my voice and I administered the medication.  At that moment... in an instant... the seizure got so much worse.

Will's left eye started to twitch.  And then his whole face... he grimaced like he was going to sneeze.  Then it would release, and then instantly go back to grimacing.  Repeatedly.  In no time at all, Will's hands started to twitch.  I called Nate, who started running home.  I called 911.  I was so scared.  The minutes were dragging.

After they dispatched the ambulance but before it arrived, Will took in a huge breath of spit (when he seizes he doesn't swallow).  I had him on his side to try and ensure that type of thing wouldn't happen, but it did... and he struggled through his seizure twitching to cough and clear his airway.  He was moderately successful, but his chest was rattling and his breaths were shallow.  I counted breaths for the 911 dispatcher.  The seizure finally stopped.  Nate arrived, then the ambulance, and the 911 dispatcher got off the phone with me.

The EMTs took Will's vitals.  His chest was rattling because of the spit that he aspirated and his oxygen saturation was in the low 80s (ideally, you want saturation in the high 90s).  They put him on oxygen.  He started getting irritated, but thankfully his sats rose.  We couldn't really get him to calm down, and he had some residual muscle spasms.  We decided that it was better to be safe than sorry, and the ambulance just took him to the ER. 

I know it is likely just for observation.  I know that he will be ok.  I know that you're probably tired of reading about seizures.  Trust me, I'd rather be writing about nail polish colors and craft projects myself.  But life has an uncanny way of reminding you of the things that are really important just at the moment you most need it to.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fearless pool lover

When we first started going to the pool this summer, Matt wanted nothing to do with the big pool.  No slides.  No deep end.  He was happy in the 6" of warm baby pool water... the pool within the fence where babies play, mamas lounge, and big loud kids are kept safely away.

Matt's had an awakening.

It occurred a few weeks ago (just before our Boston trip), when Matt suddenly shunned his baby pool during one of Luke's swimming lessons.  I was stunned, not sure what to make of it.  Having planned 30 minutes of sunning myself by the baby pool while Matt splashed around, I didn't come prepared with a bathing suit.  So there I stood on the deck of the big pool, watching my "used to be fearful" two year old whip himself down the slides.  There was no easing into this new stage.  It was like in an instant he decided that he was too cool for the baby pool and needed to fling himself full speed into being a little boy.

When Luke's swimming lesson was over, he joined Matt in the big pool and the two of them giggled as they trudged up the steps and down the slides, enjoying their new found fun together.

Since that day, I've come prepared with a bathing suit. As much as I know that the lifeguards at are pool are good at what they do, that the pool where the slides are is less than a foot deep, and that if something bad were to happen, I'd be in the pool fully clothed... I just feel a lot more comfortable remaining within a 10 feet of Matt in the water. Despite the way he's whipping himself down the slide (sometimes head first) and falling under the water on purpose, he's still my little baby!

It has been interesting seeing the lifeguards respond to him. At first they are shocked that a kid so young is capable of climbing up to and going down the slides. Then they get a kick out of watching him whip down the slide. Then when he goes down the slide head first, they beep their whistle at him just to get his attention. Then they're shocked that at this young age, he's already learned to ignore them. He's out for a good time. And even though he has a great "lifeguard rule follower" example in Luke, Matt has decided that if someone is beeping a whistle, it surely isn't at him.

Come on... how could you really expect anything else from the third born?!?!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Last of the Boston blogs

On the last day of our epic trip to Boston, we spent some time walking around historic Appleton Farm in Hamilton and Ipswich, Massachusetts.  Perhaps not the most fast paced or dramatic of our days, but certainly the most lovely.

Appleton Farm is one of dozens of historic farms and properties throughout Massachusetts that have been restored to their former glory by The Trustees of Reservations, a not-for-profit preservation society that operates things like active dairies and farmshares on their properties to raise money for their restoration projects.  Restoring and farming the land to teach future generations about another era.  I love it.

From the Trustees website:

Together with our neighbors, we protect the distinct character of our communities and inspire a commitment to our special places. Our passion is to share with everyone the irreplaceable natural and cultural treasures we care for.

Though there are dozens of places to choose from in Massachusetts, we settled on Appleton because of its proximity to our home base.  We planned to leave Boston the next day and didn't want to put the boys in the car for a long time on the day before.  We were not disappointed.

Appleton is lovely.  The Trustees have completely restored and upgraded the Main House, so it is now a LEED certified building.  We stopped there to pick up our farm maps before heading down to check out the mobile chicken coop.

We walked along a scenic path between the chicken coop and the old carriage house, where we met a couple of hungry cows and enjoyed the views of farm pastures and of course, big farm equipment.

We explored the restored carriage house, stuck our head in to the (stinky) dairy building, and one of our little ones even got up close and personal with a cow patty.  Yum.  So much for those Crocs.

There weren't as many animals as we were hoping to see, but we did run into several calves and spent some time showing the littlest farmers how to feed them grass through the fence.  Instantaneous love between our calves and those of the bovine variety.

We took the long way around the dairy, enjoying the warm breeze, the dusty path, our hiking backpacks, the pasture views, and most of all, each other's company.

The dairy store and farmshare were opening for business as we made our way to that section of the farm.  If we hadn't been driving far the next day, I would have loved to pick up a half gallon of their farm fresh milk.  Their farmshare produce was so lovely and colorful that I had to take a picture of it.  I think the locals thought I was a little silly, but whatever.  It was pretty :)

The last part of our walk around the farm was through a canopy of old oak trees, part of the sweeping driveway leading from the road to the Main House.  We hugged trees.  We hugged each other.  And mostly we marveled on the amazing week we had together, and how we have to do things like this more than once every five years.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

4th revision

When Nate and I were in college and in the years immediately following, we regularly made the trek to Boston from central NY for the 4th of July.  It was a long trip, but Jason's family had a big pool and were willing to host a group of crazy 20-somethings at their house.  How could we turn that down?  Plus they threw in some fun Greek traditions like roasting a lamb on a spit and making souvlaki.  Yum.

Through those years, we created lasting bonds with not only friends, but with Jason's welcoming and generous family.  Nate speaks fondly of working on cars with Jason's dad and brothers, and in an ironic tale of having the people in your life that you can easily talk to and truly need, Jason's mom was a special needs kindergarten teacher for several years in Peabody, MA. 

During our trip, they graciously welcomed all of us (and our gaggle of kids) into their home and pool, so that we could relive our glory days and enjoy a special 4th of July with our families.

We were also joined that day by some good friends from Connecticut - Jaerid and Kirstin and their kids.  You may remember that Jaerid and Kirstin completed in the Tough Mudder with Will's Warriors in May.  They have never met our kids, so it was a great opportunity to finally make the grand introductions!

The day was hot and muggy, but the pool was cool.  And that's where we spent most of the day.  As always, a barrage of photos for your enjoyment.  Three Williams, two Matthews, and a partridge in a pair tree.

William #2 got the party started in his new Cars kiddie pool.

Matthew #1 soon joined in the fun. Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?

Soon Matthew #1 decided he was ready for the big pool. He might have been the littlest kid, but he was the most fearless and the first off the diving board. The older boys soon followed suit.

Jacob and the moment before impact.

William #3 stayed out of the way of the big jumping splashes in the safety of his raft.

Luke was a little tentative off of the diving board at first, but with Jaerid treading water for hours and catching him for every jump, he got a lot more comfortable.

Matthew #2 kept a watchful eye on the big boys in the pool.

The dads could not be out done by their sons. Jumping off the diving board quickly turned into a competitive game of "who can throw their kid the highest?" Jacob and Jaerid during the competition.

William #2 enjoying Jason's toss into the air.

Matthew #1 caught up with his godfather Brian, and learned about the importance of NY sports teams.

Cute William #3 during snack time.  Great pic, Jason!

Josh contemplates sharks.

When the jumping kids took a break, William #1 got into the water and splashed around with Nate.

Jacob and William #1 do some laps together.

Mike and Josh do some daddy-son laps together as well.

Ellie was happy to have the crazy boys out of the pool for a while. As the only girl amongst 9 boys, she did amazingly well!

Yum, cake! Ellie and her blue lips.

Happy 4th of July! Jacob and Luke and their blue tongues.