Sunday, September 19, 2010

Winona Farmer's Market

From May 1 through October 31, we attend the Winona Farmer's Market pretty much every weekend that we're in town. It's a good place to meet and catch up with your neighbors -- and the food is not bad, either.

Here is Mouse with our good friend, Jenni, who was the doula for Maria, Julia, and Matthew. We run into lots of friends at the market.

Here is the bee man -- I really should get his name sometime. He lives in Wisconsin, where he raises bees; he sells the honey at the market, including honey sticks that the kids like to buy for 25 cents. They're a little plastic tube filled with honey. We buy a large container of honey pretty much every week; the kids use it on their cereal instead of sugar.

Out on a Limb orchard -- we buy their apples every week in the fall.

Here is Jaybird picking up a bouquet of flowers for her princess party.

There are many, many Hmong vendors at the farmer's market -- perhaps a third of the thirty or so stalls. They tend to have great produce; many of the older generation were farmers in Laos. 

We buy sweet corn, cantaloupe, and watermelon from this farm every week when it's in season; we freeze the corn. This picture doesn't show it, but generally there's a LINE in front of this stall all the time.

Our friend Sandy from Whitewater Gardens.

Mudpuppy: Not just sitting around!

Well, as Mudpuppy approaches his first birthday, he's still not walking . . . or crawling . . . or rolling. But that doesn't mean he's just sitting around!

Here he is on his first day of school (this would be at Early Childhood Family Education):

With the parent educator, Katy Smith.

He liked trying out some of the new toys; he also liked circle time, especially the clapping part (he can clap and likes practicing). He is not separating yet, so he comes into the parent room with me.

Here is Mudpuppy in his new high chair. 

Like all the kids, he likes watching birds at the birdfeeder outside the window.

Oh, and he also likes ice cream, especially fudgecicles. Who would've guessed?

He also likes swinging -- here, with his brother. We don't have a bucket swing for him yet.

And finally, here is a short video of him swinging:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Uvulectomy update

A number of folks have been asking how I'm doing after my uvulectomy, so here's an update. Basically, I'm doing pretty well -- better than I expected, for sure. I'm going to go into some detail on this for the benefit of others who may be looking forward to a similar procedure (having searched online myself beforehand).

A little background: The uvula is that little thing that hangs down in the back of your throat (you see it all the time in cartoons during extreme close-ups of a character yelling). What is a uvula for? Turns out, not much. It helps to close the nasal passages when you swallow so that milk and water don't go up your nose. It also apparently helps you pronounce uvular sounds in certain languages. And in my case -- prior to Wednesday -- it also did a fine job of blowing up to ten times its size as part of an allergic reaction once every few months. Usually this would happen in the middle of the night, with the result that I could not eat, talk, or lie down without gagging for a couple days. After seeing no fewer than three different specialists about this problem (an otolaryngologist, an allergist, and an infectious disease expert), not to mention five different primary care physicians (I'm counting the emergency room doctors), I was finally diagnosed as having "idiopathic angioedema." That translates as "swelling of the throat for no good reason." We thought it was going to go away -- the episodes were becoming less frequent and less severe -- but then I had a doozy of a uvulitis attack in May, which is when I decided it had to go.

So on Wednesday, after a very restless night of mostly not sleeping, I got up at 6 and popped over to our local hospital for a "primary uvulectomy." That is to say, the uvula was the only thing removed. Usually, the uvula is removed to solve a sleep apnea problem, and in those cases, it's not just the uvula, but also the tonsils and a portion of the soft palate that is removed. Those operations are more involved, with a longer and more painful recovery. (I waited to do this in part because no fewer than three different doctors told me, "That's going to hurt. A lot" when I brought up the possibility of removing the uvula.) Primary uvulectomies are apparently fairly rare; my otolaryngologist says he's only done one or two others.

In any case, the procedure only takes fifteen minutes, but they still have to knock you out -- it does involve reaching into the back of your throat with sharp objects, after all. The anesthesia turned out to be the most complicated part of the procedure -- and also the part I was dreading the most. The last time I had anesthesia for a surgical procedure, it was like all that time went completely missing -- not like you're sleeping, but like it's just gone. It's a very weird sensation. This time, that didn't happen. The last thing I remember was the anesthesiologist telling me to breathe deeply. Then I was waking up -- an hour later, according to the clock. This time, though, I had the sensation of waking from a dream, so it wasn't so existentially bizarre.

As I woke up, I noticed that my throat hurt a little -- but that I could talk without too much pain (good!), even though my voice was raspy from the intubation they do while you're out. They propped me up a little -- and that's when things started to go south. I had a vagal reaction -- basically lightheadedness combined with nausea and a falling heartrate. If you want to get a bunch of medical people moving, having one of these episodes is very effective. I had one the last time I had surgery (for a hernia) and basically passed out from it; when I woke up, they'd coded me and brought in a crash cart and the whole works. This time, they were on top of it very quickly and I never passed out.

That little episode meant that instead of getting out in half an hour, I ended up staying more like an hour and a half to make sure it wasn't going to happen again.

By 11, I was on my way home with a milkshake and a fruit smoothie from McDonald's. I spent the rest of the day sleeping and being waited on by my faithful and loving wife. They gave me some heavy-duty painkillers, but I have been avoiding those in favor of plain old Tylenol, which has been working fine. The pain has not been as bad as I expected, based on the doctors' warnings and what I had read online. I've had viral sore throats that were much worse than this. It is a little uncomfortable back there from the stitches, and I have some referred pain to the ears (like having a mild earache), but so far, on day two post-operation, I'm eating and drinking and talking just fine. Oh, and I also have some kind of upper respiratory infection that has left me pretty worn out, but that might be due to the cold I had before surgery. With the full uvulectomy-tonsilectomy procedure, the soreness apparently gets worse over time, but so far mine has actually been getting better.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mudpuppy taking a bath

Here is Mudpuppy taking a bath. He doesn't like the shock of the water when you first put him in...but once he's acclimated, it's actually hard to get him to come out without squealing in protest! He loves splashing the water with his hands.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Catching up

"Where has Gracewatch been?" Busy gearing up for the new faith formation year, that's where! I have been working wall to wall, and then some, on our parishes' faith formation program, GIFT. You can check out some of my work at its website, Click on the GIFT @ HOME booklet link on the first page to download the booklet I just finished.

Here are a few new posts (below) -- and I will be adding more in the next few days.

First day of school

It was a cold and blustery first day of school yesterday. Fortunately, all three kids were super excited anyway. 

Jaybird with her teacher, Mr. Akre. She is going to learn so much this year! She has already been writing her numbers and practicing cursive letters. At the very end of the summer, she was doing addition sheets all by herself with me. She's very precocious. And -- she's not quite as shy about going into the classroom. That's a huge step forward.

Mouse learned that her teacher is going to have TWINS in February. Bear has a new teacher this year, too (even though he's in the same classroom). We've already determined that we like her a lot! She has ten years of Montessori experience, and just moved to town three weeks ago with her five kids.

Morning chores!

One of the things we tried to do every morning this summer was "morning chores." The kids have to do certain chores around the house "just because"; beyond that, they get a small payment for doing "extra" chores (which they still have to do). It teaches them something about the value of money -- and how to handle money.

Getting kids to do chores is a chore in itself. But it pays off after a few years in kids who are able to do a reasonably good job by themselves, without too much complaining. That's helpful to me -- but it's also good for them to develop an expectation that work is just part of life.

Here is Bear doing the very tedious work of harvesting basil (it took him about an hour of picking to get this much):

Here is Mouse mopping the kitchen floor -- without turning it into a lake! She says she likes the "old fashioned" mop, not the new steam mop we use these days. She says the steam mop scares her.

And here is Jaybird vacuuming the stairs. She does a very good job. And she learned to overcome her fear of the vacuum!

And while they were doing their chores, I was canning these beautiful oxheart tomatoes:

Summer rituals

As part of our ongoing "What I did this summer" essay. . . .

Jaybird ran a lemonade stand several times, mostly for the free lemonade. That's her brother, Bear, trying some lemonade....

. . . and she also visited several farms; here she is at her friend Rory's farm:

One Sunday the kids spent most of the afternoon playing Monopoly with Starling: