We visited the History Center Museum this week while we all had a day off. I wanted to see the baseball hall of fame exhibit. To my surprise, the middleschoolers both enjoyed reading about the history of baseball. There was no whining about how long we were taking reading the plaques or anything. My favorite was seeing the jersey worn by Hank Aaron when he hit HR number 715. Lauren especially enjoyed seeing the uniform worn by Geena Davis in A League of Their Own.
This also reminded me to mention BertBelongs.com. Bert's not in the hall of fame yet. But I hope the sportswriters come to their senses soon and vote in the best curveball in baseball history.
Was reading one of those year end lists and came across this picture of Saturn. It was another year end list that got me to that chicken/egg thing too. Anyway, I thought it was pretty enough to share (an understatement?). Had I been keeping up with the APOD website, I would have seen this back in October. This is an actual picture of Saturn from the other side. It was taken by the Cassini spacecraft. If you look close you can see Earth on the left side. It's the spec of light outside the solid white rings just up from center a bit. If you need a closer look, here you go.
Finally, we have an answer to a question that's been asked a million times. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The answer is the egg of course. The proof is so obvious, I'm almost ashamed to have wondered about it at all. For those to lazy to read the article for themselves, here's why. If a kangaroo laid an egg and an ostrich hatched from it, it'd be an ostrich egg and not a kangaroo egg. So since the first chicken hatched from an egg, the chicken egg must have come before the chicken. Besides, kangaroos don't lay eggs silly.
Then when that wears off, there's plenty of help assembling the contents as well.
Merry Christmas All!
Anyway, the concert was this past week. Here it is, or at least one song. Then if you have the fortitude, you'll be treated to Matt, Troy, and Andy's ensemble. Remember, I could have posted the whole concert. You can thank me later.
I was especially thankful for the wild rice, spinach, cream cheese thing. And as you can see below, Elwin won the annual football game.
So if that's him, he was 34 at the time traveling with his wife Catha (27), younger brother Johanna (30) and his wife Elisabeth who's age I can't make out. They would have arrived in the port of New York and their final destination is listed as Oshkosh, Wisconsin. They were farmers. Then the part that really interested me. It says they were Russian. I admit it's hard to read some of the stuff on that form. So if you're in the mood, have a look for yourself. His name is on line 9. If you want me to email you the high-res JPEG so you can zoom in and stuff, just ask.
The closest thing I could find to the city Adam listed as his last residence is Podhájska. It's a small village in Slovokia that's been around a while. In 1901, it was in Hungary. The Hungarian ethnic assimilation policies of that time (refered to as Magyarization), may have been the reason Adam left his homeland. Though if you read the discussion on that wiki article, someone argues that economic reasons were why Hungarians emigrated at the time. Still, why isn't Hungarian listed as his nationality? Perhaps rather than Russian, the nationality he named was Rusyn. The short lived independant Rusyn state formed after WWI was Podkarpatská Rus. That also has some similarity to the last residence listed on the manifest. Though he could have been Russian.
This is all conjecture on my part of course. So help me out - let's solve this mystery. Why did Adam Block emigrate? Where in Hungary did he live? Who were his parents?
The tradition in the halloween capital of the world starts with very precise jack-o-lantern carving.
Then you get all gussied up and things get really scary!
Once you are in middle school it's uncool to be seen making the rounds with a parent. But accompanying a younger sibling on her very first trick or treat experience is cool. So I guess they cancel each other out.
All the kids and even a few strays from the neighborhood accompanied Deanna and Alondra to the close neighbors front doors. But then the middle school clan was on their own. It's been 24 hours now and we haven't had to circle the wagons. We did find out that an attempt at double dipping one front door was busted by an alert adult. It's good to know your kids are lousy at keeping secrets. If that's the worst that happened, I'll take it.
Alondra's bronchioscopy went well too. Her airway is healing well, though now it's only a 3.5 instead of the 4.0 it was measuring a few weeks ago. It's not uncommon for the airway to shrink a little as it heals from surgery. Dr. Soumekh also checked on Alondra's ears while he had her anesthetised. Both the ear tubes had worked their way out so they got replaced. Looks like the ear thing is going to be an ongoing battle.
It was blustery and cold at the soccer game. Grandpa Long was there for the first half and saw Matt get a nice shot off. The first half ended with no score as Calvin Christian was playing well against the 2nd seeded Angels. In the second half the Angels got the offense in gear. The first goal was a header by Dylan. It was snowing when Matt got into the act finishing off a nice pass from Mitchell. I have a bit of a scratchy throat this morning, just finished some OJ and that has me feeling better already. It was well worth the scratchy throat to see that game.
Deanna couldn't find a sub for family table so she, Matt, and Alondra did that while Lauren, Janine, Sarah and I went to the tilt. I cheered my alma mater on with all I had even though there were only a few of us Bison in the Gopher season ticket section.
The last second kick was blocked and the Gophers lucked out a 10 - 9 win.
I'll have to bring some more Bison bretheren along next time. It's not that I didn't enjoy the company, but they were all more interested in the U of M band than the game.
The volleyball team ended up losing in the championship game of the consolation bracket. They lost to Epiphany. Turns out St Al's was playing for the championship, but we didn't stick around to see who won. It was a good season.
St. Al's knocked Lauren's team out of the tournament tonight. The score was 2 games to 1. Yes, this is the same St. Al's where some family members have spent many a Sunday morning. Just a word of warning, the baseball and softball teams will show the Crusaders no mercy this spring.
The Angels still get to play tomorrow morning in the consolation bracket. Go Angels!
The tournament starts Friday and St. Stephens is going in on a 3 game win streak. We'll see how long they can keep it alive. Note the lucky tie died green socks. That was coach Toenjes' doing.
The soccer team's win streak came to an end this afternoon. At the hands (or feet) of Meadow Creek. One more game for them tomorrow before the tournament begins next week.
This is from the eldest's fall sport of choice. I was quite pleased I got a shot of the athlete in question while moving and still in control of the ball (sort of). Matt really is doing well. Coach made a point to stop us after a practice last week to let us know he was going to get Matt more playing time because he's so "coachable". Not really sure what that means, but it sounded like it was a good thing. And the team is still undefeated. So that's good too, right? I really don't know much about soccer.
The field correspondent assigned to cover the middle child's events this week forgot to take pictures. Yeah, I mean Deanna. So you'll have to wait until later next week to see what that looks like. Unless you decide to show up at the St. Stephen's gym at around 6pm that is.
Sadly, our cat of 14 years was accidentally killed early this morning. The rear passenger tire of the Mazda had something to do with it, as did I, the driver. Once it happened, I immediately thought the hardest thing would be breaking the news to the rest of the family. They are all sad, but they've taken it well. To my surprise, that hasn't been the hardest part. I think it's a combo platter of the guilt, and the fact that I'll miss the cat too.
Yes, Bongo was annoying. Like his habit of trying to sneak a drink out of my water glass on the night stand. I would cover the glass with a book because I couldn't trust him to not drink from it while I slept. I won't have to cover the glass any longer. But even that seems sad.
We'll all miss you Bongo. And I am sorry.
Now for the even better news. We're home!
Yes, these pics were taken only a few minutes ago. Alondra is so happy to be home as are we to have her here. We were able to get home just in time for me to pick the older kids up from band practice. The plan was to go straight from there to the hospital where we'd order pizza or something for dinner. So the kids got in the car and asked if we were going to the hospital. All I said was we were going to see Alondra. Lauren got suspicious as we were getting close to home. It was a very nice surprise.
Alondra is still a little sleepy, she's very hoarse, and she does sound a bit gunky from time to time. But between naps she does wake up and play. As you can see. Thanks again for all your prayers.
I wasn't in much of a mood to go to work after spending a couple hours worrying, and by then Deanna was there and she really wanted some help. So I decided to stay at the hospital until the older kids were due home and needed me to taxi them from sporting event to sporting event.
Alondra was pretty out of it most of the morning. But as we got into the afternoon she started to come out of it. In the morning she only wanted to be cuddled, but after lunch I could put her on the bed to play with toys. We gave her a nice bath and she even put on her PJs and had some applesauce. Just before I had to leave I offered my fingers as she was sitting on the bed. She went for them and lifted herself to the standing position. Deanna wanted me to sit her back down right away, but Alondra had a big smile and clearly wanted to stand. I told her how proud I was and helped he back down.
As the morning progressed, we were threatened with the mythical 3rd floor again. We had heard stories of this unit on the 3rd floor. A very nice unit by all accounts. In the time we've spent in PICU, we've seen many children and their families leave the PICU for the 3rd floor, never to be seen again. We had even been told Alondra would move the 3rd floor back in May. But instead we were sent home. So as the mythical 3rd floor was mentioned again, I was skeptical. Then it was scheduled. Alondra would be moved to the 3rd floor at 1:30. Right. 1:30 came and went. Still no 3rd floor. Then I had to leave to play taxi driver.
We had a successful sports evening. The soccer team started it off with a 3-2 victory over Epiphany in a cold rain. Then in a nice and warm gym, the volleyball team lost in a nail biter to St. Vincents.
I've spoken with Deanna since I left. She says she's calling from the mythical 3rd floor. Alondra is feeling better. She even played on the floor for about 45 minutes. She still sounds gunky, but hopefully she'll work that out soon. As for the 3rd floor, call me doubting Thomas. But I'll believe it when I see it.
Now Alondra is able to rest. I think she got enough of the drugs out of her system. She still hasn't slept for more than a few minutes at a time. But she is starting to drink clear liquids. At first she was pushing the bottle away - it must've really hurt to swallow. But she's getting more comfortable with it all.
We saw Dr. Soumkh just before lunch. He's very pleased with how clear Alondra's lungs sound. There's still a lot of gunk that she needs to cough out, but her airway is clear and wide. He said all goes well and we should be able to bring her home in a few days. I asked why he kept saying 3 to 6 weeks and he went on and on about how difficult it is to predict how well the kids will do and that he was thinking she'd need the posterior and the anterior graft, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, we're very thankful she's doing so well.
The baby in the next room was extubated soon after Alondra. He's only a few months old and just had a heart procedure. He's doing well too. And somehow the Vikings found a way to beat Carolina. So it's a great day.
Prior the propofol, she was really fighting the meds. I think she's tired of laying there and wanted to be awake. A couple times she even opened her eyes and focused on my face. I could get her to rest by holding her hand and giving her head kisses. The head kiss is something Alondra invented - next time you see her ask us to demonstrate. But nurse Carol kept threatening to jack up the meds if she didn't settle down. So we did our best to keep quiet.
Deanna brought Matt and Lauren in to see Alondra about lunch time. We visited for a while, had some lunch and then the older kids said their goodbye's. Deanna is going to spend the afternoon visiting. Tomorrow will be a big day.
The plan is still to extubate on Sunday. The process of weaning Alondra from the drugs is well underway. She's moving her arms and legs a little and occasionally trying to open her eyes. But she's still not allowed to move her head so we try to keep her quiet so she doesn't need more drugs.
It sounds like Alondra will spend at least 1 day post extubation in the PICU and then get to move another unit. So that would happen Monday at the earliest. Then Dr. Sumac is still giving us the 3 to 6 week line, but I asked Lori about that this morning. She said she'd be very surprised if Alondra needed to stay the full 3 weeks. A week after getting to move upstairs is likely, but not much more than that. It sounds like the biggest deal will be to get her eating again. That's never been a problem for her before.
So all is well at the hospital. I had a good laugh with Matt after soccer practice the other night I can share. The coach called a parents only meeting at the end of practice to let us know there would only be 1 boys team this year. The just didn't have enough players to fill the JV roster. He was concerned about the smaller boys (like Matt) in that this would cut into their playing time and wanted the parents to break the news. So on the way home I told Matt, "Dude, you made varsity!" He does his best Napoleon Dynamite "Yessss!" Then I tell him that everyone made varsity. He took it well. Varsity has nicer uniforms.
The on duty PICU intensivist made several unsuccessful attempts at inserting her NG-tube yesterday. The NG-tube is a small feeding tube that needs to go through the nose and all the way past the stomach into the intestine. It takes several hours between each attempt because they want to check that the tube is in the right spot with an x-ray before they can start using it. Overnight Sue (Alondra's night nurse) got the job done. When I arrived this morning she had a big smile on because she had her first look at the x-rays confirming she had done it. Of course they can't start using the NG-tube until a doctor reads the x-ray. But there was quite the end zone celebration between Sue, Lori, and Jen at nurse shift change. Nurses 1, Doctors 0 - not that they're keeping score or anything. Anyway, Alondra should be getting her formula by now.
Lori and Jen are watching Alondra today. Jen is Lori's trainee and Lori was one of Luke's primary nurses in the PICU. Lori asked to be assigned to Alondra this week. When I left Jen was settling in for a long boring day (just what we want) while Lori and Deanna were catching up. As long as Alondra is able to sleep with all that talking, it's all good.
The first good news came before we had spent an hour in the waiting room. The bronchioscopy revealed that Alondra's trachea now measured a 3, up from 2.5 this summer (4 is normal for a 1 year old). So all she'll need is the anterior graft. The scope also showed that her lower bronchial tubes, though still a little floppy, are firming up as we had hoped.
A couple hours later Dr. Sumac (I know I'm spelling that wrong - Deanna will correct me) showed up at the door of the waiting room with really good news. The procedure went beautifully and Alondra is now resting with Mom in the PICU - with a size 4 nasal tube!
The procedure takes a piece of cartilage from one if her ribs and grafts it to her trachea to widen the airway. Had Alondra's airway still been as narrow as it had measured this summer, she may have needed both a posterior and an anterior graft. But with the growth over the summer, she only needed the procedure with a single graft. The incision made on her chest to get the cartilage is much smaller than I had expected. Her neck however is covered by a large bandage so I'm not sure what that scar will be like. The doctor in the PICU assured me it's likely smaller than I think.
The plan now is to keep her on the vent, sedated until Sunday to let her trachea heal. On Sunday, they'll try to take her off the vent so she can begin the next phase of recovery. It'll take some time for her to adjust after all the drugs. And then she'll have to re-learn to swallow and such. At this point, we're still planning on a 3 to 6 week hospital stay, but hopeful Alondra can come home soon.
Thanks for all your prayers. They do make a difference.
Yeah - I'm in one of those sentimental moods. I think it has something to do with the upcoming surgery. This was a good excuse for that tear in my eye. They can't all be as light hearted as the mentos / diet coke thing.
(sound added to video 9/8)
In the spirit of full disclosure, the mentos loading procedure was the idea of one of the neighborhood kids. So how does it feel to be outdone by a 12 year old kid Ranger Paul?
Though the forecast was for rain, it turned out to be a pretty nice day. My first attempt at a slow cooked BBQ Beef Brisket even worked out. Alondra celebrated the big birthday #1 surrounded by family. With the encouragement of a certain cousin, she decided not to wait for the cake to be cut.
Alondra says thanks for all the wonderful gifts.
Surgery is on for 7:30am on the 12th. A little over a week away. We're planning a 4 to 6 week stay in the hospital. I'll keep everyone updated on how things are going with this blog.
Many of you readers (like the plural?) are also likely reading Ranger Paul. His blog isn't as good as mine, but sometimes he posts something interesting. I like the posts about his better half - Sonja. Sometimes stuff about the dogs is interesting too.
Anyway, while reading the paper this morning I got a strange feeling that I had seen this fuzzy little guy before. If you like reading about fuzzy little things, read the article from the strib and check out Ranger Paul's post. He's got a video of Capers too.
Alondra has a bathtub toy just like that one by the way.
This time it's only a pinky finger. But it's a different kid which brings it's own drama. And yes - that's one of those annoying electric scooters he's on. Saved up and spent his own money to get it so you can't really blame the parents - can you?
Today I got to choose what we did. So strap on the hiking boots kids! This is Lake Maria State Park. We saw a doe with a couple fawns along the way. I'm too slow with the camera though.
And one more white one for Ranger Paul.
Today was zoo day. Como Park Zoo that is. Yes - we saw Sparky's show and rode the carousel.
The last one is so Ranger Paul doesn't think he's the only one who can post pics of flowers. This is a white one. I found it in the conservatory.