Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Wii Comes to Our House

A year ago we decided to stay away from video games for as long as possible. I pictured my children blankly staring at the screen shooting things for hours. I thought there brains would atrophy and they'd never talk to us again. I also thought they'd just forget about wanting it because there is so much that keeps them busy.

A few months ago I that C was not forgetting about video games and instead was asking more and more frequently for a "personal video game system". I didn't want to just give him (them) whatever they wanted but I didn't want to just say NO because of some vague idea of mine that all video games are BAD. It seemed like lots of families that we knew had a Wii and liked it. They said that it was for the whole family and at least it gets everybody up and moving around. I read that the Wii was more interactive and some of the games are easy enough that even children K's age can play.

We caved! We let "santa" bring the Wii. Actually, I did most of the caving and Mark remained skeptical but didn't stop me. The boys were very excited when they realized that there wildest dream had actually come true on christmas morning. I had been pretty careful to maintain the pretext that we just aren't a "video game family".

Everyone (even Mema, Papa, Aunt Amy and Uncle Chris) enjoyed creating a Wii character and trying out the Wii sports and Uncle Mark's vast video gaming experience was very helpful in learning the ropes. C has become very frustrated and even cries when he can't navigate some part of a game well. What's fun about that? We got some more educational games and we haven't tried them ocean exploration game and an African safari game.

Did we really need a Wii? Will it be nice that the children won't be begging to go to their friends houses that have video games? We aren't totally convinced that the Wii will be a great thing for our family in the long run. I am looking forward to trying some more games though.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas in the City

Today we made our annual trek into Manhattan to experience the sights and sounds of Christmas in the city. I planned to just post the pics and let them tell the story but my camera batteries died halfway through the day. Then my Iphone died too! I did get plenty of good pics though. We took the subway to 34th street and arrived at Macy's to see Santa a 10 a.m. The kids were very excited this year to see the big guy. We had lunch early and the crowd was starting to thicken. I met a man on the elevator who said he was from Tennessee and this was his first and only trip to NYC because it was just too fast for him. I explained that it is crazy right now and in that neighborhood because there are so many tourists visiting! He didn't seem convinced.

I forced the whole family to stop in at my favorite store H&M for 5 minutes and then we were on our way to Rockefellar Center. We saw the windows at Lord and Taylor on our way and lots more lights and decorations as we walked down 5th Ave. After the Rock Center tree we ducked into St. Patrick's cathedral to say a quick prayer. The kids were annoyed that we had to go to church on a Wednesday. It was a quiet and peaceful moment. We finished the day at "The Station" at the Citigroup building. It is a big intricate model train display and this is its last year in operation. Citigroup has canceled it because of the expense. Our favorite holiday train display is a casualty of the economy.

We got back on the subway very tired...I hopped off at Wall Street to pick up a wedding gift for my cousin at Tiffany's. Wall Street is beautiful...there is a huge tree and an american flag light display right outside the New York Stock Exchange. I had no idea! I wish I had been able to get a photo of it. Poor Maggie was a trouper but fell asleep at dinner.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Beautiful day in Brooklyn today! Sixty degrees and sunny while New England and the midwest were icy and cold. The little girls and I played at the playground and went for a walk in Prospect Park. We saw the ice skaters, a saxaphone player and a waterfall. K liked the waterfall best. M yelled at a squirrel that got close to the stroller.

I thought about staying home all morning and working on the laundry, wrapping, cleaning, cookie baking, etc. etc. etc. but I'm glad that we enjoyed the day outside. I can do that other stuff tomorrow. Christmas is in 10 days!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Surgery Did Not Go Smoothly

I am writing this several days after P's mediport removal surgery so I've had some time to recover. He's had some time to recover too (which is obviously more important) and he is fine.

This was the last big thing to end his treatment for ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). The mediport had done a great job delivering medicine and providing an easy access for all his blood tests. It had never been infected or caused any complications. It had done its work well but treatment was over and its work was done. P had been talking about how he wanted to keep it for months. The surgeon wasn't sure we could keep it but he would try and get it back from pathology for us. I made it clear that he wasn't going to stop asking until he got it back.

Our pre-op appointment had been quick and I was led to believe that the surgery would be very simple and routine and we could expect that Patrick would walk out after surgery and be back to full strength within hours. I think that it almost always does go very smoothly.

We arrived for surgery on time and answered all the usual questions, he changed into a hospital gown, I signed releases and more releases, he watched some Diego, he took some medicine to relax (I don't think he needed it since he is a model patient) and he was wheeled into the OR. I stayed with him until he fell asleep and then I left him on that little table surrounded by people (6) and machines. The surgery was supposed to take 1 hour. After 45 minutes the surgeon (Dr. Ginsburg) came out and said "there is a complication"....big gulp from me..."the catheter (a piece of tubing) from the port is stuck. We are going to try some things but this has never happened before." I said "I guess you are going to learn something new today". Dr. Ginsburg says "I hope so". He goes back in and I'm left reeling in the waiting room alone. I thought about calling Mark or Dad (who was taking care of K and M) but decided there was nothing they could do and they would just worry. Dr. Ginsburg did assure me several times that he was fine but anything surgical having a "complication" is not good in my opinion.

Forty-five VERY LONG minutes go by and Dr. Ginsburg comes back. They have not been successful and are taking him to the second floor. The plan is for the interventional radiology team to x-ray and go in a different way to retrieve the stuck catheter. I rode in the elevator with the doctors, nurses and my beautiful 5-year old son. He was now intubated and they had taped his eyelids shut. This is not a sight that any parent needs to see. It is very, very hard to see your child looking so lifeless.

I am led to another waiting room and am soon met by a doctor from the interventional team. This doctor is reassuring and says that they have dealt with problems like this many times but it happens more frequently with adults. I start to breathe again a little. They plan to x-ray and then either make in incision in his neck or groin and thread something up to his chest to retrieve the catheter. I sign more releases. More waiting and another hour or so later Dr. Ginsburg returns with the catheter in his hand. P is fine and going to recovery momentarily. They had made the incision in his groin and pulled the catheter out that way. It had calcified tissue around it. A routine 1-hour surgery had become a 3+ hour surgery. He had two points of incision and two IVs.

My tough little guy was pretty uncomfortable when he woke up. He never complains so I knew that he really felt bad. The tube in his throat had caused alot of irritation and he coughed and coughed and had trouble talking. He was sore and he had to keep his leg flat for four hours. He was even mad that they had taken his underwear off. He did ask to see the mediport within a few minutes of waking up though and I was glad that I had been persistent and gotten it! Mark came and we were able to go home at about 6:30 that night.

He can't run or shower for a few more days but he seems about 90% back to himself.

P's leukemia treatment has been blessedly "complication" free (until this last thing) and he has been in remission now for 3 years and two months. Yay!

The pics show him before surgery (you can see the mediport under his skin), the catheter that was stuck, and him holding the mediport after surgery.

Monday, December 1, 2008

O Christmas Tree...O Christmas Tree...

Even though we live in the big city, we always get our tree in the country. We go on the Sunday after Thanksgiving to a tree farm in my hometown and cut it down ourselves with the help of my parents. Okay, I don't cut it down but Mark does. I must confess that last year we actually picked a pre-cut one at the tree farm but that was the first time we did that and we did search for one to cut first. I love having a fresh tree and I love the first five minutes of searching for the tree...BUT...after that first five is cold and it begins to get tedious dragging everyone around and hoping that we can all agree on the perfect tree. Once we've go the has to be painstakingly strapped to the car (I don't do any of this either) and then we begin the long drive back to Brooklyn. It seems like no matter how early we try and go to the farm...we never get back to Brooklyn before 3 p.m. Once home begins the really strenous part of getting that beautiful tree UP. Moving stuff out of the way in our small living room, dragging it in, centering the tree in the tree stand, arguing about whether it is straight and whether the tree stand is going to work, tightening and re-tightening while begging the children not to be so loud and crazy. Once we've struggled with getting the tree up...we start the lighting process. It becomes a race with time to get it decorated before we all get really, REALLY cranky. I am always happy with the result and I vowed long ago never to get a "fake" tree but I am starting to dread the marathon tree cutting and decorating day. I really have no reason to complain because Mark does 90% of the work and I just try to be a good assistant.

This years tree fits perfect in the spot, is a bit short given our 10' ceilings, but is stunning nonetheless. This is the first year C, P and K really loved the decorating and didn't want it to end.