Thursday, September 15, 2011

Preschool: Fun and Germs

This week was week two of preschool for Owen. He is going for 3 hours five days a week. This milestone is huge for Owen. It was not too long ago that we were told that Owen's VCUR could not be resolved and other measures would need to be taken to save his kidneys. We were told that the only choice was to allow the reflux. The only way to do that without causing kidney damage and probably eventually failure was to augment his bladder with bowel. If that had been done, he would have had a permanent ostomy, and his bladder would need to be drained with a catheter every 2-3 hours for the rest of his life to prevent dangerous infection. This would obviously have needed to be done by us as his parents and when it came time for school an aide or perhaps even a nurse until he could be responsible for the task himself. Until his reflux was resolved amazingly and unexpectedly during his surgery in January 2010, I couldn't even think about what sending him to school would mean as far as his health. It was something that terrified me and made me so sad for the opportunities that he was likely to miss out on. Fast forward about a year and a half and Owen is in preschool every day at our church's preschool in a classroom with other typical children. It is nice to have him there because it is a familiar place. While his teacher is not a member of our church, the administrators are. As I have said too many times to count, our church family is wonderful beyond words. I love that Owen is lucky enough to have some of them in his life on a daily basis because of school. It is also comforting to know that I have friends there that are keeping an eye on him. He was medically cleared for daycare, preschool, any kind of program of that nature in June and it was some of the best news I had ever heard. The only thing that sets him apart from his classroom (other than his remaining leg length discrepancy and the fact that we need to watch vigilantly for signs of a UTI) is that he has not been allowed to potty train until recently. That being said, he still isn't the only child in his class that is not fully potty trained. Just the only one with a medical excuse. We were given permission to pursue potty training in July. Owen was interested and began asking to go potty occasionally. We also started taking him and reminding him more regularly. He was doing well and then had to have his ear surgery, which was a set back. As of now he is wearing Pull Ups to school and doing great using the potty at school. We are still working on training at home. Potty training for Owen is complicated because of how different his urinary tract was and still is.

Ok, I got off track. My point was that Owen is fitting in at preschool very well, and his medical history is not holding him back one bit. I am one very proud Mama. He loves his teacher, the chance to socialize is great for him and he looks forward to going to school. He has no problem with me leaving there. We are supposed to drive through the drop-off line in front of the sidewalk and one of the teachers takes Owen out of the car and walks him into school. Even the first day he didn't shed a tear, just said "bye Mom" and was on his way. This week he is working on his colors, which he knew before starting school, shapes and continuing to get accustomed to the school environment. One of my favorite things is seeing the craft that he has worked on each day. Today he worked on tracing circles and I was very impressed with how well he did. These activities and crafts are a concrete examples of how much he is learning and growing to be a big boy. It is amazing and thrilling to me. I think back to Carter starting preschool and doing all of these things, and can't believe we are now at that stage with Owen. His teacher and assistant teacher are both very nice. I am so glad that he is having fun and enjoying his time at school so much.

Now for the major downfall of preschool; the fact that the other kids each bring their own set of germs and generally share them more readily than they share toys. So many people told me the germ factor is not as bad with the second child, as they have developed a certain amount of immunities from all of the germs brought home from school by the first child. I don't know that I believe this. I picked Owen up about 45 minutes early today after receiving a call from the Parish Administrator, who just loves Owen and has been a great friend to our family, saying that he was not feeling well and looked just pitiful. Sure enough, even though he was fine this morning, he had a runny nose, nasaly voice, congestion, "sick eyes" and looks just plain miserable. He has picked up his first illness due to preschool germs. He doesn't have a fever and I think it is probably just a cold, but he will be visiting the pediatrician in the morning. I am concerned about a possible ear infection, especially in the ear that was just operated on. Better safe than sorry! He can go back to having fun at preschool next week!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza

This is a recipe that I adapted years ago, so much so that I kind of made it up. It is a hit with everyone, so it stuck!

Cooked chicken breast (I use one big one) cut into small chunks
Pillsbury pizza crust
Low-fat Ranch Dressing
Garlic Powder
Deli Ham
Shredded Mozzerella Cheese (enough to cover the pizza, about one 16 oz. package for one pizza)

Lay out the Pillsbury pizza crust on a baking sheet. Press thin, this will cover most of the sheet.
Bake for about 7-8 minutes at 350 degrees to precook crust.
Cut cooked chicken breast into small chunks.
After pizza crust has cooled, spread with about 1/3 of a bottle of low-fat Ranch dressing (too much will make the pizza soggy)
Sprinkle with a light dusting of garlic powder
Chop Deli Ham and spread evenly on the pizza
Spread chunks of chicken evenly on pizza
Dice tomatoes and spread evenly on pizza
Top pizza with as much mozzerella cheese as you like.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 13-15 minutes until crust is lightly browned and cheese is melted.

Enjoy! We certainly do!

Now he is Three!

Saturday, August 27 was Owen's 3rd birthday. My baby is no longer a baby, although I still tell him "As long as I'm living my baby you'll be." My boy is 3. No matter which way I say it or how many times I say it I just can't believe it. We are blessed beyond measure to have this Little Man in our lives. Watching him grow, seeing him hit new milestones, experiencing all of the love and happiness that he shares every single day is just wonderful. His stubborn streak continues to grow. At times he can be quite a little pistol, but he is also just the sweetest guy. He is strong, he teaches me new things each and every day. I think the saying "wise beyond his years" is meant to describe Owen. Not that he spends his free time reading the encyclopedia or doing long division. He has this curious, yet intuitive nature that is hard to describe but is just obvious once you spend time with him. He is our cuddly boy, always crawling up on our bed or the couch to snuggle and say I love you. He and Carter are the best of friends. As Carter says, they are lovey brothers. Of course that is when they are not arguing about who gets to be the fireman, policeman, etc. depending on what they are pretending. Or wrestling. The funny part is that Owen definitely holds his own as the younger brother, and certainly gives Carter a run for his money.

For most of the year, Owen was in great health. We did switch pediatricians to a friend from church how is a pediatrician and internal medicine doctor. He is great with the boys and extremely thorough. We were so pleased that I began seeing him as my primary care physician also. As I wrote in an earlier post, in July Dr. Bill found a cholesteatoma, or benign growth on Owen's right ear drum. He had to have it removed just 8 days before his birthday. So much for a year free of surgery. In all seriousness, it was the most simple of the 8 surgeries he has had, and he was back to his happy-go-lucky self in no time.

We look forward to a whole lot more excitement as Owen continues to grow. For starters, he will be starting preschool tomorrow. I'm not sure he fully grasps what he's getting into, but his Mama is having a hard time just thinking about it. Also, Owen's Wish Trip to Disney World is coming up at the beginning of October. He got two Mickey Mouse shirts for his birthday to wear on our trip. Again, Happy Birthday Little Man. You are loved more than you know!

I will post pictures soon. I am having trouble figuring out how to post on Blogger on my new computer. It is a case of user error, nothing to do with the computer itself!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Carter had his first glimpse at Kindergarten back in April when we went for registration and Open House. He was curious but shy. He was given an assessment test and we toured the school. I know that at the time Kindergarten seemed like a far off place to both Carter and to me.

As usual, time has flown by. Even though it seems like just yesterday that we were casually touring the school, it is indeed September and Carter has finished his first week of Kindergarten. School started for our district on August 25. Kindergarten was the exception. As hundreds of kids were saying goodbye to summer and returning to school, Kindergarteners (and their parents) were entering a while new world. All of the Kindergarten classes started on a staggered schedule. At Open House in April, we picked the day that would be Carter's first day of Kindergarten. I think about 5 or 6 kids started in each class each day starting on the 25th until the real first day of Kindergarten on August 31st. Carter's staggered start day was the 29th, so he started on Monday, had Tuesday off and started going every day on Wednesday. It worked out pretty well. I didn't want to have him start too early and therefore have too many days off before August 31st. Wouldn't want him forgetting his new routine. It seemed like the best choice for Carter because as I suspected he had a great day on Monday, begged to go back Tuesday and couldn't, but was still interested in returning on Wednesday.

August 23rd was orientation. This is when we found out who Carter's teacher would be (exactly the teacher I was hoping he would get) look at his new classroom, ask lots of questions, find out his bus number, ask some more questions, and buy t-shirts for school spirit. Carter was a bit reserved as we went to his new classroom and met his teacher. He took his time looking around, checking the place out. Before long he had familiarized himself with the place and started to explore, ask the teacher questions of his own. Though I was feeling very overwhelmed by all of this and the idea of sending my baby to Kindergarten, I left feeling as comfortable as I was going to feel. I asked all of my questions, Carter asked his questions and knew where he was going. We would be fine. Right?

Overall, his first week of school went well. He likes his teacher, he made new friends and he really likes recess. We had the requisite first day snafu; there was a miscommunication and they didn't put Carter on the bus in the afternoon. He took the whole thing in stride. I frantically sped to the school, worrying that Carter was going to feel abandoned and think we left him at school. When I got there he was sitting in the office with his teacher, making friends with another boy who was supposed to have been sent home on the bus. We had that all worked out for Wednesday and Carter rode the school bus for the first time. This was one of the things he was looking most forward to about going to school, and I think it ended up being a bit of a letdown. When I asked him how the bus ride was, he was most excited to report that he gets to sit right behind the bus driver. That's how it is, the little kids up front and the big kids in the back. I doubt he will think sitting at the front of the bus is so cool for very much longer. Thursday was the only day that he struggled a bit. At one point during the day he just didn't want to follow directions. That was also the day he came home looking like he might just fall asleep standing up. He was exhausted, and even after laying down to rest for an hour or so, he was still pretty whooped. We talked about listening to his teacher and following directions and he had a much better day on Friday.

He will return on Tuesday after the long weekend, but will have to walk in and go to his classroom by himself. Last week I took him in, and while we didn't have any sobbing or serious leg-clinging, I know it was a comfort to him. Tuesday is the day that the school has decided that the kids don't need a hand to hold in the morning. I will drive up to the school and go through the drop-off line. I will drive away and wonder if my boy is scared, if he will find the right hallway. All things considered, I think he likes Kindergarten. For me, I think it is going to take a bit more getting used to.

I will post some pictures soon.