"So throw away those Lamentations,
We both know them all too well.
If there's a Book of Jubilations,
We'll have to write it for ourselves.."

-Josh Ritter

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dinnertime conversations

Nora is feeling better. She is eating and drinking, pestering Nana for inappropriate things (Your blankie? Really? But you're in the bathtub....) and doing her best impersonation of a whirling dervish.

It's definitely nice to have her back. She's back to school and seems really happy to be there. She likes to tell me about the things she did that day. Becky went down the slide? Lilly jumped? Monkey said, "no-no" and Nora said "What?" Sure. Why not? I have no idea if a two year-old actually has an imagination or if these things actually happened in some odd way.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. I just love the way she collapses into peals of laughter everytime she tells me how she yelled at a cow. I'm sure that when I'm a demented shriveled old lady, you'll still be able to make me laugh by saying, "Get DOWN, Monkey!" Particularly if you hold a stuffed primate over your head when you do it. Of course, I'd probably laugh at that anyway.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sick puppy

Nora has been as sick as a puppy with parvo the last three days. She's spiking fevers, puking, having diarrhea and complaining of her tummy hurting. Here, I didn't even know she had that vocabulary.

Through it all, she has been a champ. She is a sweet, sweet kid underneath all the toddlerhood and I never love her more than when she is retching on me. Weird, but true. There's something about a cuddly, sweet, sick kid who has no energy for boundry testing or independence fostering that makes that bond grow just a little stronger.

I'm so proud of how cheerful she's been and how easily she's adapted to my limitations. I never would have fathomed that she could possibly carry that over when we both are feeling bad. But she has. And it might just be evolution making sure that she doesn't end up in a dumpster, but I like to think that Nora is just turning out to be a really cool person.

Monday, March 23, 2009


That's pretty much the only way to describe the events of the last 3 days, without swearing. Overall, it's been an amazing, incredibly good weekend for our little family. But I don't think I'd want to go through it again.

The first night after Kat's surgery was a little rocky. Her pressure sucked, her hematocrit sucked, she was wifty, she either itched or was in pain or both, she couldn't get comfortable, and there was someone in the room about twice an hour all night, so sleep was out of the question. For both of us. Saturday was a little better, but still pretty rough. Sunday she turned the corner. She looked like my wife again. She was even busting my balls over the nominally perceptible, so I knew she was feeling like herself.

I had to take call for the weekend, which made the lack of sleep a little more painful, but I was fortunate enough to be on call with a superstar junior resident who busted his tail to make sure that I was able to devote most of my attention to what was going on with Kat. It's sort of been a theme for us lately... friends and family busting their tails to get us through this. We are incredibly blessed.

This morning, when I got to the hospital, I took one look at her and knew we were taking her home today. Which was good, because I couldn't take it anymore. I had to get her out of there. I pulled strings and rattled cages all morning to speed up the process of getting her epidural out, getting her through PT and OT, getting her all the equipment she'll need, getting her lovenox, and getting her out the door. I used just about every trick in the manual they give to irritating, overly-driven surgical residents on the first day of internship. But it worked. We were home by 11:30, which is nothing short of a miracle by HMC standards.

Let me just say, Kat was an absolute champ through all of this. Bear in mind that someone fractured her pelvis 3 days ago. This morning, she dressed herself, learned how to walk with a walker and with crutches, learned how to climb stairs, then hopped in a wheelchair and said, "get me out of here."

God I love that woman.

To add to the drama of the weekend, we had two competing offers come in on the house. Today, an hour after we got home from the hospital, our realtor came to present them to us. We got one very good offer, and one that was everything we could have possibly wished for, plus more money, plus a bunch of other good things we hadn't thought of but will actually make life much better for us over the next 3 months. So we took the second offer.

The house is sold! Yippee!

Meanwhile, back at the homestead this weekend, Nora was having her way with Nanna and T-Dan. They spent a lot of time "O-side." She even convinced them to take her to the public playground in Hershey.

I'm not sure if she even noticed that Kat and I weren't home. Later she showed them around the kitchen.

"This is how we clean up after dinner, ok guys? Now put this in the dishwasher and give me something else to clean"

Although Kat was home this evening, Nora was unaware until she wandered into our bedroom after dinner to find Mommy in a Percocet and MS-contin induced haze. She crawled up on the bed to check out the whole situation and pointed out "Mommy's boo-boo" several times as she inspected the enormous pressure dressing overlying her left side. She was also ready for some cuddle time, and she left that little snugglefest to go take a bath only after a good deal of stalling. My favorite moment of the day came about a half hour later, though, when she emerged after her bath topless, with a green band-aide stuck to her belly, crawled back onto Mommy's bed, and pointed out, very ernestly, "Nora's boo-boo." See Mommy, I have one too. We're relating to each other.

God I love that kid.

Friday, March 20, 2009

No Regrets

Let me start with a warning that this post is going to be heavier than most. It's been a tough day in the Lauer camp.

Last night, we had a long, painfully involved discussion with Kat's orthopedic surgeon about whether we really ought to go through with the PeriAcetabular Osteotomy, or whether we should try a less invasive procedure first, with the thought in mind that she'd have a shorter recovery, and if it didn't work we could always come back again in a few months to do the PAO.

In the end, after much agony and a lot of tears, we decided to go ahead with it today. For many reasons, we needed to give Kat the best possible chance of getting better now. Though doing the bigger operation today may involve more risk and a more difficult recovery in the short term, we had to accept that. Though it may be medically safer to do so, unfortunately we just couldn't afford to take the "wait and see" approach. Kat expended an enormous amount of energy and rearranged her entire life and career to prepare for this operation. We have also been fortunate enough to have family and friends commit to making big sacrifices to help us through this. Sadly, our lives are now so mired in responsibility that it will be years before the stars realign in such a way that we'll have another opportunity to commit to this operation and its inherent recovery period. We just couldn't accept the possibility of another year or two of living with the pain, or with all of the limitations that it inflicts; no hiking, no biking, no gardening, no running around after Nora, and no chance of conceiving again. All the while, her hip could be getting worse, making the chances of a successful PAO ever more remote.

So, today was the big day. MJ and Dan came to town last night and took over Nora's care, so that Kat and I could turn our attention to her left hip. We hit the hospital doors at 5:15 this morning, she was in the OR by 7:30, and she woke up 9.5 hours later.

I was too anxious to just wait around, of course. I had to do something, so I did what I always do... I went and did some operations of my own. Right across the hall. It was a good distracter, but unfortunately we had some cancellations so I ran out of cases by lunch time. Initially, I resisted any temptation to even peek in the door of her room. Then, at about 2:00, her surgeon called me and said things were going great, and asked me if I wanted to come take a look. My stomach initially turned at the thought of seeing my wife laid open, her pelvis in pieces and her muscles detached. But then it occurred to me... what an incredible opportunity! To be able to see for myself exactly what we're up against.

To be clear, the surgeon was careful to invite me down only for the most controlled portion of the case, when everything was exposed and he could demonstrate for me what the problem was and what he had done to fix it. He wisely chose to make sure I was not in the room to see anything gruesome. I saw no bleeding, and thankfully I do not have to live with the image someone breaking my wife's pelvis.

What I did see was nothing short of amazing. I saw for myself why she was hurting so much. And I saw what he had done to fix it. I stayed for nearly two hours, and when I left I was neither disturbed nor upset. I was relieved. We made the right choice. She's going to get better.

Even as I scrubbed the adhesive from her face and the soap from from her side tonight, as I adjusted her SCD's, held her emesis basin for her and cleaned up afterwards when she missed, I felt not a hint of regret or doubt about this decision. She's comfortable now, resting quietly next to me in her hospital bed, and I'm incredibly grateful for that. Most of all, though, I'm grateful that I can sleep tonight (and for the first night in three days) knowing that her suffering from this surgery, and all the sacrifices our loved ones have made to help us through it, are not in vain.

To everyone who is pitching in, thank you. You're giving Kat a chance to take control of her life again, to reclaim her identity. This next couple of months is going to be tough, and we couldn't do it without you.

We'll try to keep this blog lighter in the future, and turn the attention back to the reason you're really all here in the first place (pictures and videos of Nora being Nora). As she mentioned in her last post, Kat keeps a separate blog for all the fussing, but that one is really just for her... tonight I just had to say my bit.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kat's surgery

So, this is it.
It's down to the wire. Yesterday was my last day of work. Today, I go in for my pre-operative physical, x-rays and blood work. Then, tomorrow I show up at the hospital to voluntarily have my pelvis broken.
Seems like a bad idea, right? Be that as it may, it's kinda late to back out now. I've already given them 2 units of my blood.
I anticipate a lot of whining (you know, from me) and I'd really like to keep this blog positive and focused on our family life. So, if you would like to know where things stand with the surgery and recovery, or if you just enjoy my navel-gazing, head on over to mdconfessional.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My own nepharious purposes

I've been thinking a lot about the influence we have on our children. Do they come out predetermined to be feminine or masculine? Or do we subtly influence them from the moment that we slap on the pink newborn onesie? My suspicion is that it's something of a combination of the two. But leaning heavily towards the latter.

The following clip is very clearly a case of manipulation of the parental variety. Once upon a time, about 2 months ago, I posted about how Nora could now talk and thus was talking back. After a long lament about the mixed bag that parenting a toddler inherently is, my brother sent me a prophetic email. He said, "Yes, but one day, you will be able to reap endless entertainment by teaching your child to unwittingly repeat your favorite movie quotes."

Jim, this is for you:

That'll do, since she's two and probably not ready for the ones I really want to teach her. Please feel free to recommend your favorites...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nanna reads this blog...

Apparently. Because when she came to visit this weekend, she came armed... with play-doh. And scored huge points with Nora.
Here's Nora showing off her "Elephant Ears" trick.
Later she requested that I help her make "frowurrs," and she added the finishing touches.
And finally, her masterpiece, the play-doh monster.
And his dog.
In non-Playdoh related news, the McCords came to visit on Saturday. They were great company, Kat made a really nice meal, Gregg brought the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had, and Lilly was wonderful.

Unfortunately, Nora was a complete twit. She pitched a fit just about every time Lilly tried to play with one of her toys, and was just generally whiney and out of control most of the night. Hence the total lack of pictures. Gregg and Jenni, bless their hearts, were really understanding. I know in my heart that behavior like this is just part of Nora being two, and that it's perfectly normal. But still, I was disappointed. It left me questioning whether we're really doing anything right in our attempts to shape her behavior and help her be a happy, well-adjusted child. Because she was neither happy, nor remotely well adjusted all freakin' night. Then, as if to redeem herself, she was absolutely fantastic the rest of the weekend. It's incredible how she does that. I really do think it's a defense mechanism that children have acquired through the milenia to keep from ending up in a dumpster somewhere.

On a little bit brighter note, our house appraised over the weekend quite a bit higher than we were expecting, and is now officially on the market. We had our first showing tonight. It's strange how vulnerable you feel letting strangers in to "kick the tires" on your home.

On one hand, I'm truly excited about this next move, and what it means for our future as a family. On the other hand, I also can't wait for this phase of the transition to our new lives in Minnesota to be over with. Not only are we really anxious about whether or not it's going to sell, but it's also going to be really exhausting trying to keep the place clean all the time in case anyone shows up wanting to take a look. Ugh.

Soooooo, are you sure you don't want to buy a house? Anyone?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

House for sale

So the house is going on the market in preparation for our move to sunny Duluth, MN. If you know anyone who's looking to buy in the Hershey, PA area, send them to the blog that Eric made for just this purpose.

An added bonus for those of you who saw the house in it's original splendor or at various torn-apart phases along the way- it has a ton of great pictures of all the improvements that we've done over the last 5 years.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pay Dohs Pease?

Our daughter is obsessed with Play-Doh. We opened up her first pack, which she had received as a present, just after Christmas. She initially took no interest, then all of the sudden last month she semed to finally notice it, and now its an obsession.
I have to say, what an amazing toy for a two year old. Yeah, I know, it's a classic and it's been around forever. But as a father watching his child entertain herself with piles of colored clay for hours at a time, my perspective on the stuff has completely changed. I have got a whole new respect for this magical goop.
It's like you can actually see the synapses forming in her little brain as she works with it. I love teaching her how to use all those little tools to cut out shapes and then put the shapes together to make neat stuff, like flowers or cars. Last night Nora and Kat fashioned big floppy ears and a trunk and pretended to be elephants, which was maybe the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life. Tonight they made jewelery. Last Sunday, when Nora and I were alone together, she asked for "pay dohs" after her nap, and she stayed at that table and played with the stuff for over 2 hours! That's like 5 times longer than I've ever seen anything hold her attention, ever. Including Sesame Street.

By the way, that's Nora's new table and chairs from Ikea that she's playing at. We got them for her about a month ago, but I'm pretty sure those are the first pictures we've posted of them. She thinks its pretty neat having furniture that's her size. And we think it's pretty neat not having to either pick her up or get down on the floor with her every time she wants to color... or play with Play-Doh.
In other family news, Nora and her mother are getting along again. And I have proof:
It was a rough few weeks there, and for a while I wasn't sure if they would both come out of it alive, but it's quite a relief to see them re-connect. Of course, the down side of this is that now that Kat's back in the game, I'm apparently not. Last night when I offered to read to her, and when I suggested that I help with her bath so that Mommy could have a break, Nora pushed my legs until I backed out the door and said, "Daddy away," then promply shut the door in my face.

She does know I could totally kick her ass, right?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Big Girl Chair!

So, we were having a bit of a problem getting Nora to eat. Seems unlike her, I know, but the issue was that she got pissed off every time we put her in her chair, particularly when we tried to strap her in. Also she very clearly wanted to be able to get in and out of her chair on her own terms. How to handle such a situation? Why, just like we handle most other parenting dilemmas... find out what Rachel and Peter do, and then do the exact same thing.

I introduce to you the Tripp Trapp chair.

OH BABY is this thing sweet! First of all, it's incredibly well built. Secondly, she can get in and out of it by herself. This has been a key sticking point. And the design allows us to adjust the seat and foot rest so that the chair grows with the child. She'll be doing her homework in this chair until the day she leaves for college. It cost a mint, but it was worth every penny. There's also a kit that you can use to make the seat appropriate for infants, but we kind of missed out on that window.

So how has Nora's been eating? Well, we've had mixed results. Turns out she's just kind of a pain in the ass sometimes. But it did get her to to give us one of these:

Think she likes it?
Again, worth every penny.