Apr 30, 2009

Eleven Kids is Too Many

A couple of weeks ago, D and I took eleven of her students to Phoenix for a National High School Journalism Convention.  It was four days (Thursday-Sunday) of sessions about everything from layout to Student Press Law to writing good headlines to font and color choices.  There are also some great keynote speeches, this year from Aaron Brown (former CNN anchor) and Mary Beth Tinker (primary figure in student press law).  Thousands of students come every year, and this is the second year D has brought some of hers to the event....last year's convention was in Anaheim.  It's an opportunity for the younger writers and editors (no seniors) to prepare for next year's newspaper class, gather some great ideas, and sharpen their skills.

Last year, there were only seven or eight kids, and it was a simple drive up the 5 freeway to Anaheim....this year, we had to wrangle eleven kids all the way to Phoenix.  Carlsbad-->carpool to airport parking-->shuttle to the airport-->Southwest flight to Phoenix-->bus to the transit station-->light rail to downtown-->walk to the hotel.  They were all very well-behaved and we got several compliments from the flight crew, other passengers, and people in the airport.  Still, it made me realize that some people have eleven kids, and I cannot imagine how they do it....it was like herding cats at times.

Once we were there, we kept to the area around the hotel and didn't venture out more than a couple of blocks for dinners.  For the most part, journalism students tend to be more mature than the average high schooler, so they are actually pretty entertaining to hang out with.  It didn't even make me feel that old....I can somehow still relate to 14-17 year-olds.  All in all, it was a very fun extended weekend, though I was trapped in the hotel room working most of the time (even on Saturday and Sunday).  D's already trying to figure out how to get a bunch of students to Portland (Oregon) next spring, while also managing an eight-month-old baby.

And now for the EXCITING PART!  The convention is geared toward the advisors just as much as it is toward the students.  There are sessions for advisors on many of the same subjects, as well as advisor-specific topics.  In addition, this conference is one of the few times per year that JEA (the Journalism Education Association) offers their certification program.  There are stringent requirements for advisors that include years of teaching and either continuing education credits or a rigorous written exam.  This year D took the test, and we just found out yesterday that she passed!  She is now officially a Certified Journalism Educator, accredited by the most prominent organization in the industry.  I'm all kinds of proud and excited for her, as she really enjoys teaching journalism and this is a great recognition of her skill.

Apr 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Willow!

Today is Willow's sixth birthday.  She was born on Easter Sunday, 2003, and she's been a wonderful part of our family ever since.  Unfortunately, she also likes to be the center of attention, and sometimes her medical issues can overshadow anything else that's going on.  So here's an update.

Almost a month ago, on the day we found out that the baby is a girl, we came home and Willow was limping.  It was hard to tell what was going on exactly, but we'd already been through the trauma of one back surgery, and we knew that the earlier she was looked at, the better.  We took her into the vet and they examined her, but she was back to almost-normal by the time we got there.  The vet couldn't see any obvious signs of anything, so we couldn't tell whether it was arthritis, a sprain/strain, or a new back problem.  She said that an X-ray likely wouldn't show any back problems very clearly, so we took her home and hoped she got better.  For a few days after that, we noticed her limping every now and then, and we kept her confined to a small area in the living room (and gave her some anti-inflammatories).

About two weeks later, it was time for us to head Down South for D's Spring Break (more on that to come), but we wanted to make sure she had assistance nearby if she needed it.  We boarded her at the vet for five days, and there were no reports of any problems when we got home.  That night and into the next day, however, we noticed that she was going to the bathroom quite a bit.  It got progressively worse, until she was going every ten or fifteen minutes.  At some point she gave up trying to go in her litter box and went right in front of us, which is her way of saying that something isn't feeling right.  We noticed that there was blood in her urine, and suspected a bladder infection.

We took her back to the vet and they gave her an ultrasound and an X-ray.  The X-ray confirmed what the doctor suspected from the ultrasound....she had bladder stones.  Bladder stones are similar to what can occur in human kidneys/bladders/etc, and are often triggered by a pH imbalance caused by a local infection.  They are literal stones made of various minerals, and the precise chemical makeup of the stone can point to a course of preventative action...some require a special diet, while others won't come back as long as there isn't another infection.  However, the initial course of treatment for both types of stones is surgery to remove them.

We were headed to Phoenix the next day (more to come on that as well), so I left her at the vet's overnight.  The next morning, she had surgery to remove her two stones.  They sent one to a lab in Minnesota for analysis, and saved the other one as a souvenir for us.  They stitched her back up and kept an eye on her for the next 24 hours or so, but she did fabulously through the whole thing.  She was okay with the anesthesia, she did well in recovery, and the vet staff that watched her over the next few days had nothing but wonderful things to say about her.  She was boarded through the weekend, and we picked her up last night.

She's on a long course of antibiotics for the infection, but of course they take time to work.  She was going to the bathroom pretty frequently last night, and the vet said it could be up to a week until she's back to normal.  That said, there was no blood in her urine and she seems to be feeling a lot better in general.  We're hoping that the limping we saw a month ago was simply discomfort from the two huge stones rattling around in her bladder.  I can only imagine how uncomfortable that must feel, and I wouldn't blame her for limping all over the place.

So, the end result (so far) is that Willow's doing well, she's very excited that we're home and not going anywhere for a while, and she's patiently waiting for the antibiotics to kick in so she can get back to 100%.  Hopefully this is our fair share of dog drama for a couple of years, as surgery/anesthesia/boarding/medication is NOT a cheap prospect, and pet insurance doesn't cover this type of major procedure.  I believe we've spent more on Willow's medical problems than we spent on the multi-million dollar care that Andrew received during five months in the NICU....isn't that ridiculous?

Anyway.....happy birthday to Willow....may she live a long, full, less-expensive-than-she-has-been-recently life.

Apr 2, 2009


D is sitting on the floor in the living room, going through all of the clothes and accessories that we got for Andrew.  They've been sitting in plastic tubs in the room we've picked as the nursery.  She's sorting out the ones that could still be appropriate for a girl and the other ones that might be a little gender-specific.  We'll pack all that up and save it for baby #3.

There's a lot of beige, yellow, and green stuff that we can still use, but D is worried about putting a baby in blue before she's old enough to be distinguishable as a girl.  Of course that doesn't mean she needs an entirely pink wardrobe.  We kept out the "I Love Bugs" shirt and the vine-climbing monkey outfit, but we put away the "Future Quarterback" shirt, at least until they create the WNFL.

Almost all of our big, nice blankets, especially the handmade heirlooms, are very blue.  We'll still use them when we're around the house, but they could be confusing in public.  We have very few normal, cotton, swaddling blankets, and I know we're going to need more burp cloths as well.....that's advice we've gotten from every parent we've ever met.  However, we've got plenty of socks.  They are darn cute, too.  We're also thoroughly covered in the classic book department; I love that our families know all the coolest books!

Apr 1, 2009

CDH Awareness Day

Yesterday (March 31) was CDH Awareness Day.  Consider yourselves aware.